She approaches, Eyes gleaming Brighter than my countenance. It isn’t hard to tell She is quite taken by me, And she lets herself dream For a moment How enriched her life would be With me in it. Joy unbridled beams from within As she touches and strokes And holds me close – As close as she is to ecstasy. She drapes me across herself – Strap running diagonally Left shoulder to right hip – And stands in front of the mirror, Turns this way and that, Admiring me from every angle. And then it happens – The shadow creeps across her face, A cloud as dark as the clothing In which she is clad head to toe. It comes as no surprise. I have seen this so many times. The doubt that invades And grows wild and smothers Delicate confidence Like Japanese Knotweed Killing off a garden. It is always the same ones – The ones that dress to hide Supposedly unacceptable bodies And make an art of Fading into backgrounds. Though their hearts desire me, I am too obvious. I am made to stand out And snag covetous second glances. Which is the problem you see. If she were to wear me I would catch the eyes of others Just as I caught hers. But those other eyes Won’t limit themselves To looking only at me. They will look at the wearer, And this wearer doesn’t want To be seen. But, oh, how she desires me! She gives me another chance, Looks again at her reflection, Murmurs ‘Can I get away with it?’ I want to tell her she can. Worries about getting away with things Are for thieves and adulterers, Not for women whose only crime Is to be bigger than society Thinks they should be. She can wear whatever she wants. But I can’t tell her this. And even if I could, It wouldn’t mean a thing. The no-she-can’t has settled Firmly in her mind. So she returns me to the shelf And leaves the shop behind, And I watch her go and hope That at the very least She will continue to carry with her A little bit of my light.
Poem: Two Worlds
The world within yourself A world of chaos and confusion Not knowing about the future Constantly reliving the past Until, suffocating, you escape to The world outside yourself A world to which you do not belong A place from which you run and hide Only to end up back inside Sinking ever deeper into The world within yourself A world of chaos and confusion…
Don’t analyse Second guess Rush to unlock secrets Just sit Observe Let things be Note what happens Note the response Collect the data The time For understanding Will come But for now Just sit with it And see
Poem: Still Life
You convinced me To believe Until the notion Was conceived Then turned Leaving me To grieve alone This once Hope-laden thing As hollow as Your promise As empty as Your heart As meaningless As you A lifeless symbol Of what love Could have been
I take a walk around the graveyard of my soul. Here are buried wishes; there, expired dreams. Elsewhere, heart-attachments are laid to rest, Withered away before they had a chance to live. I kneel at each grave in turn To cry a little, mourn a little, And hope that one of these might revive, Get a second shot at being realised. But when I reach the space where you lie, The prayers dry up along with the tears, And I whisper to God a word of thanks. In taking you, He brought me back to life.
Poem: Lost and Found
She looks in the mirror Doesn’t like what she sees In misery and anguish She falls to her knees With forehead to ground She cries and she cries For forgiveness and mercy From the Lord Most High She cannot forget All the sins she committed Can't plug the gaps from The deeds she omitted She feels the regret In the depth of her soul But where faith should be There’s a massive black hole But God has said clearly Do not despair All can be pardoned With charity and prayer My compassion is endless And my mercy too Take one step to me And I’ll take ten to you So she raises her hands And tells Him her fears Empties her burdens Along with her tears Until peace finds her heart Because she can see That hope is not lost And neither is she
Poem: The Stairwell
Why do I keep returning to that place? Vivid image, burned in my mind. I’ve moved on, so much time, so much space. But some part of me has stayed there. Why is the stairwell in my mind empty? Back then, it was always so full. Is it meant to symbolise my life? Surrounded but ever alone? I don’t understand the significance, But understanding was never my forte. Inside I remain that same Confused-conflicted woman-child.
Poem: Fifty Reasons
A long time ago, I met a friend of mine And saw the smile had gone from her eyes. She said things were great when I asked why, But her happy words were blatant lies. So I pressed the matter and we sat to talk, And words and tears began to flow. I’m dead inside, filled with despair, But why I feel this way I don’t know. Do I blame the world, she asked, or is it me? I replied, the answer is clear to see: In what you just said, at the least there must be Fifty reasons to leave your lover. He makes you feel dumb, has made you go numb, And has trampled all over your dreams. He calls his smacks ‘love taps’, his insults ‘a joke’, And scares you so much you can’t scream. So why do you stay with your lover? You really must leave your lover. You give me fifty reasons to leave, she said, But I have fifty reasons to stay. He’s under a lot of stress these days; He won’t always be this way. His health is poor, he’s quitting cigarettes, And things are really bad at work. But I know he doesn’t mean to hurt me. He isn’t some thoughtless jerk. It is what sits behind your words that I see, And as your friend I must speak truthfully: This isn’t the way love is meant to be. You have got to leave your lover. You live by his moods, suffer while he broods, And buy his happiness whenever you’re able. You walk on eggshells so you don’t upset him And live on crumbs thrown from his table. So what good reason is there to stay with your lover? You really must leave your lover. It isn’t that bad, she shouted in defence. It is not like he smacks me around. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, I said, It’s not just in fists that abuse is found. But maybe it’s not him at all, she said, It is my fault for being so weak. I push him into behaving that way. It’s me that makes things so bleak. I don’t know what else to say, I replied, Every truth I point out is being denied, Though evidenced by the tears that you cried. You know you need to leave your lover. You have given him ten years, and all that you have, And in return you’ve been given a dead heart. Please leave, before he kills the rest of you; The two of you really must part. But she walked away, with nothing more to say On whether she would leave her lover. I never saw her again from that day, And I can’t be sure why it came to an end. But faced with the truth and a choice, I suspect, Instead of her man, she left her friend. So, while I still believe she had good reason to go, My words are going to haunt me forever. In trying to save her I drove her away, Straight back into the (h)arms of her lover. Yes, I wanted to help but drove her away, With fifty more reasons to stay with her lover.
The story behind the poem
This is one from the archives. It came to me after hearing Paul Simon’s ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ on the radio at a time when I was involved in some work on domestic violence. It isn’t set to the tune of his song but there is something lyrical about it. However, I’m not a musician and I don’t think I’ve got the beats/rhythm completely right, so I’m sticking to calling this a poem rather than a song.
Forty-two is here The meaning of life According to some (I know the reference But haven’t read the book) Forty-two but more Solar cycles ten-ish days longer Than soul guiding lunar ones Placing me somewhere Between forty-three and forty-four Six full regenerations Of seven-year itches Trying to escape The unwanted self Find greener grass Insignificant but not One year closer to the end One more gone of lost time Unreclaimable opportunities Half-death existence on life row Insignificant but unignorable Promise resisting doubt Filling the morning’s dew drops With let’s-start-nows And this-time-next-years The weight of evidence From history to trajectory Casts a shadow for sure But the sky is blue and the sun bright Hope steps up for a dance
The story behind the poem
As can probably be guessed, I wrote this piece when I turned 42, so this postscript isn’t here to tell the story behind the poem – it is here to clarify that it isn’t my birthday today. I am just posting it now because this is what was on the slip that I pulled out of the envelope this morning for my Publish Everything Challenge. I am certainly not 42 anymore, either, but no one needs to know just how long ago this was written. No, no. This challenge might be all about the spirit of sharing, but I’ll keep that little detail to myself… 🙂
Poem: Fair Share
One day I wish I could take my fat And slice it up And hand it out to All those responsible For putting it there The bullies – Common and Medical variety The mockers And haters And ostracisers Those that drove me To sadness and despair And the biscuit tin Amongst others But Even after all These players Get their fair share Plenty will remain With me Which – For all the Justifiable Finger pointing – Is precisely Where it Should be