adversity · creativity · poetry · recovery · writing

Integrity Untouched

Clawed my way out of deep
and devastating holes,
been disembowelled
by diabolical acts,
choked on craven impulses,
blinded by revenge, but
character overrides spite,
grateful integrity intact.

(Image from personal collection)

life · poetry · writing

Scars and Survival

Stitches, I’ve had a few
Casts and splinters and slings
Avoided the C-word
Radiation not needed
Surgery did the trick

Some scars invisible
Underlying lesions
Remnants of
Volcanic-sized disruptions
Instinctually I strive
Visualize a better day
Accept life’s challenges
Live with fullness.

(For Reena’s Exploration Challenge: scar

abuse · change · Family · life · relationships · writing


Mother said: “Look after your sister!”
What she meant was: Take these
burdens off my shoulders, I am
no longer able to cope.

Father said: “Do as I say, not as I do!”
What he meant was:  I don’t have
the wherewithal to deal with my own
problems, so don’t bring me yours.

Sister said:  “Be a good auntie!”
What she meant was: I am too
young to be a mother, and you are so
much more responsible, please take on
the consequences of my poor choices.

So I ran away to build my own life.
Met a man and married, bought a house,
had children and hopes and dreams
for a future that would erase the past.

Husband said: “If you really loved me
you’d try harder to lose weight, be less
effusive in public, control your temper,
and be more supportive of my choices.

What he meant was:  I’m going to grind
you so far into the ground and then I’m
going to cheat and cheat and you’ll have
nothing left inside to do anything about it.

And without a word, I left, and
what I meant was: I am a real person
with needs and faults and limitations
and it’s about time I honour me.

abuse · Family · poetry · writing

The Art Of Survival

Learned the art of survival
from father, a commando-
trained warrior, never able
to leave the battles behind

A sharp-shooter, whose
expert eye tracked our
every fault, with sniper
precision, shot us down.

Innocence has no place
when the enemy resides
within; when trigger lines
are camouflaged by wall-

to-wall carpets, and young
minds, craving exploration,
are imprisoned by acts of
terror; the only conclusion

survival’s impermanence –
hostility lurking in every
shadow, caution instilled
by the omnipotent legacy

of father. Tried to reach
him in the end, touch his
humanity; his shell-shocked
glaze paused for a moment,

he focused, broke through
the fury, seemed to remember
we were his daughters – was
that compassion lighting

his expression? Take cover,
he cried, get as far away as
you can, save yourselves, I
cannot sway my path, too

committed to this private war,
there is no mercy for me – but
you, you can be saved, save
your children.  I turn and run

with all the certainty that this
is life and death and embrace
the little ones, praying to lift
them out of the ashes, give

them new life, but it seems
they learned the art of survival
from the daughter of a father,
conditioned to the state of war.

(Submitted for dVerse pub Open Link Night.  This poem first appeared November 2016.  Video is a reading by yours truly at an Open Mic night.)





abuse · dreams · life · poetry · recovery


Sticks and stones may be inert
at causing pain, but names catch,
travel, complicate the defenceless,
incubate, invite curiosity, remain.

So much dirt involved in building
dreams, to stretch imaginations,
span across crevices of despair,
progress threatened by storms,

emotional waters turning hope
to mud, supports lost at crucial
intervals, silenced by the depth
of loss, crashing in the slime.

What was precious, now lost,
enveloped in layers of excess
compulsion to claw apart vile
skin, tear away the grossness.

Yet, all is not lost, a garden
grows best when planted
in soil, watered, as long as
the sun is allowed to shine.

adversity · disability · dreams · health · poetry · recovery

Not Dead Yet

There is safety in apart-ment living;
would corral the little ones, declare
responsibility, obligations as a mask
for this self-banishing compulsion.

Except that I am lying prone, exposed
brain spilling onto concrete, shadows
revealing the darkness of my condition
hopelessly locked in physical inertia.

I am an unwitting contributor to
scientific (and pseudo) probing,
audacious autopsies pronouncing
conclusive evidence of motives.

Too polite (and weakened) to deflect,
I submit, demonstrating complacency,
sacrificing autonomy, fail to assert
that it is I who is taking this life test.

And, by the way, am passing quite
adequately, which defies all rational
diagnosis and prognosis and serves
to reassure me of ultimate success.

dreams · recovery

Under (Re)Construction

Stripped back constructs
of disguised suppression
stir hopeful postulations –

I am bare-boned, dreaming,
questioning realities marred
by incestuous suspicions,

intending renewal, probing
dank floorboards housing
codependent disharmony.

This state of disrepair
manifests ego-inundated
trivialities, reveals burial…

blackened circles of rage –
coffin-like – implode, emit
entombed screams – echo

tremors of past fault lines,
destabilizing augmentation –
the liability of renovation.


Day 191: The Fear Response

I am little and hiding behind the green-brocade, swivel chair in our family’s living room.  My mother is sitting on the chair, but she doesn’t see me.  The room is full of adults talking, smoking, and laughing, but I am afraid.  My father has pulled out a gun and is pointing it at another man.  I want to scream out to him to stop, but I cannot.  My voice is frozen.  I am paralyzed and helpless. 

I wake up.

And remember.

My parents loved to party when I was a child, and I wanted to be part of it.  In later years, I would perch on the staircase and listen to the exploits, but the dream takes place in the early years, when we lived in a bungalow, and I would wander out of my bedroom and hide behind the living room chair, wanting to be close to my mother and hoping I wouldn’t be found out.

My father never actually owned a gun that I know of, but he did have a violent temper, and on more than one occasion ended the evening by beating up on one of the male guests.

I learned fear in my father’s home.  I learned that to step out of line was to invite violence.

What I didn’t learn is how to define that line, so I lived most of my childhood in irrational, and sometimes paralyzing fear.  Survival, unharmed, became a goal and focus.  I spent countless hours and years upon years trying to figure out how to avoid my father’s wrath.

And in the meantime, I failed to learn about a healthy fear response.

I didn’t flinch when my older sister took me to a biker bar when I was only twelve.

I didn’t think anything was amiss when I was allowed to stay out to all hours of the night, and no one asked where I’d been.

It never occurred to me to question a strange man giving me a ride home.

When home is a scary place, everything else seems tame.