Didn't we both?

He has been re-visiting me in my dreams
some things just do not let go I guess
monster men are like that though, they stay
so he comes back uninvited into my thoughts
but why? I wish I knew, I can not say
a certain kind of smile, a dead eyed look

I wonder if it is the same way for you
sitting there surrounded by 4 white walls
injected with some prescription oblivion
will we ever be free, can you find hope
how do you slay monsters from the past
if I knew how, well bloody hell, I'd tell you

I remember looking at you with him too
didn't we lock eyes just to see us through
when he made us do such unspeakable things
did we not seal some sort of pact back then
to not allow this to define the us we'd become
somehow we're letting him control us still

Brendan, I love you, do you know what I mean
I know how it is, I remember it all too well
you were a small boy, with no understanding
and I an even smaller girl with some I suppose
except I had none, can you know things so young
I knew how to keep quiet though, didn't we both?

I would ... heal us both ... if I only could.

Wandering off

I turned my back upon myself
or rather on the me I want to be
I told myself the same old lies
just want a bit of shade I said
I won't wander off too far
then I did just as I knew I would

I turned my back upon the open skies
I walked towards the forest's edge
I looked, paused, then looked again
and then I ran into it's dark heart
seeking in it's black inky depths
the solace of temporary oblivion

What kind of madness is this
to pour pain upon yet more pain
do I honour myself so poorly still
it seems so, for I do not stop
not until awareness steals off
leaving me prone on the forest floor

And on awakening what do I find
wreckage all around and within
the me I have once again become
the one I'd hoped to leave behind
have I still so little resolve
that at every turn I turn and flee

Where then is my belief in hope
so frail it blows away in the wind
like the seeds on a dandelion head
delicate parachutes drifting by
is this how I determine my course
by following breezes fickle breath

I knew of your impending death
prepared for sadness to part company
leaving only grief in it's place
is this how I honour your memory
this is not what you would want
and yet somehow this is how I am.

Angels in the making

Some people are actually angels in the making
I don't mean the obvious ones, the saintly ones
although I suspect they might be angels too
but every once in while someone comes along
and makes your heart sing to a different tune
makes the world around you that bit brighter

And these I believe are angels in the making
people whose hearts are much larger than ours
who find space for almost complete strangers there
and then they wrap us up in such enveloping warmth
but more, they allow us to see the person within
by sharing their frailty they show their strength

You see these people know a secret kind of truth
perhaps because of it's simplicity it passes us by
and so what is this simple way of gaining wings
here I want you to pause and listen to your heart
take a moment to reflect and see if this truth
rings out for you as it has always done for me

It is only by opening and sharing our hearts
that our lives fill with the richness of love
it is only by risking rejection that we find love
it is only by finding a way to hope against all hope
that we can pool and share our innermost strengths
what angels in the making do best of all is share

You don't have to see them to know them either
sometimes not seeing lets the heart listen better
I have noticed that more than the usual sprinkling
of angels in the making are to be found on pages
a space where our hearts are freer to reach out
perhaps in some way we are all angels in the making.

The third day ... part 2

I didn't know that my heart
could break so silently
but it seems that it can
rainbows not withstanding.

The third day ...







Soul rainbows.

I remember you telling me once
that if The Creator put it there,
then it must be in the right place
that our souls would have no rainbows
if our eyes had not shed many tears
you see I was listening after all

I will always miss you
the rich sound of your voice
the warm spontaneity of your smile
the twirl and swirl that you'd do
to show off a new dancing skirt
persuading me onto my own 2 left feet

No-one could ever make me dance but you
and I might get the hang of it yet
so that when I see you next
we can do the soft shoe shuffle again
perhaps I'll even have it perfected by then
do you think they allow dancing in heaven

I learnt a new phrase the other day
to use when special friend just won't do
heart-sister, what do you think of that
after all is said, still you know my heart
the unspoken things time did not allow
Gabriella I hear your voice still

Reminding me again of what you said
about us having rainbows in our souls
only if our eyes have shed many tears
I've always loved that simplicity in you
a sincere heart finding it's place in mine
so that now I have rainbows in my soul too

Regarding Gabriella

I have removed my most recent posts which I wrote after seeing my dear friend Gabriella. Very sadly Gabby passed away during one of our visits together over the weekend. It's just that what I wrote was pretty much a function of my initial shock and grief ... it does not do any kind of justice to the deep and lasting friendship we shared.

About last night ...

I know that you saw me watching you
I'd never make it as a secret agent
with the kind of subtlety I employ
Yes, I did hold you a second longer
during our hello hug, I was checking
which I know you know and hate too

But you see for far too long now
I've let myself fall for the disguise
turned a blind eye towards the obvious
the baggy clothes, your over bright smile
do you think your fragility doesn't show
that it makes you any less in my eyes

Am I really doing you any favours here
by pretending that I can't see you
that I am unaware of your difficulties
how do you balance privacy with care
when delicacy is next only to subtlety
in my least applicable social skills

To be honest I don't know how to try
we've been part way down this path before
where you've made it abundantly clear
that you don't want to talk about this
but how can I not when I see your pain
I can see that you're slowly losing ground

Are you afraid that I will say something
well, you're not nearly as scared as me
I'm all to aware of how frightening it is
to let anyone in to see the real struggle
the tangled web of half truths exposed
how to make a start with re-assurances

I know about the massive gulf there is
between mere aquaintance and friendship
but I don't know whether you see that
you call me friend, but do friends do this
and here again I question the balance
between unwelcome interference and help

I am no expert here, not even close
but your pain is palpable and real
where is the path that makes it possible
to allow one another the dignity and space
to find a way through all this stuff
whilst allowing us also to stand alongside

If I wait to find out I risk even more
because I know that you saw me watching
so I thought ... what if I write it down
that way you'll know that in spite of fear
there's comfort in shared understanding
I just wanted you to know that I'm here

For the giantess in my life

He looked up at me and said "I like being people"
funny how some simple statements say so much
is it that in young minds there are fewer boundaries
and so perhaps wisdom is more an instinctual thing
but the idea that there is an element of choice here
that being people is just one option amongst many
well I have to say that this idea just blew me away

"I like being people too" I said, looking down at him
"but if we weren't people what would you like to be?"
and thus began the kind of conversation I love to have
eyes alive and dancing with all of these possibilities
we range through being sharks, to rocks, to trees
taking a predictable route through jungle animals
insects, birds, crocodiles, yes that sounds like fun

He'll be disappointed to learn that we don't change
even if we really really really want to be different
we stay being people ... well, at least we seem to
he won't be in the least bit satisfied with "let's pretend"
and I don't blame him one little bit, he wants "real"
he wants to swim in the sea and hunt other fish
to fly around like a bat by sonar and hang in caves

But then why do I assume that change is impossible
why allow myself to close these doors in my mind
curbing my big person instinct to correct and re-direct
I ask instead "how will I know it's you if you're a bat?"
I wouldn't want to gobble him up in my crocodile guise
and here the young mind shows that it's in it's element
well we'll know by our eyes of course. Oh, of course.

We get home and take down the big science book
it's a firm favourite with all of it's colourful pictures
we want to look at all the kinds of eyes there are
and you wouldn't believe the variety of them all
big, small, round, oval, slitty, slotty, sideways on
it seems that we'll have to find a better way to know
I leave him to ponder that one tucking him up in bed

Do you ever watch children when they are sleeping
I do. Being an auntie involves this precious privilege
I watch as indescribable dreams flit across their faces
stirrings that sometimes lead to all out flailing about
trusted to be on hand for the odd awakening shout
soothing small boys with my big person presence
re-assuring them that I guard against night monsters

There is something so healing about being here
seeing and almost living a different kind of childhood
contributing in my small way towards a better history
and whose generous heart makes all of this possible?
well you see, I have a sister who is my very best friend
she's my little sister, who's taller, but still littler
except in the things that matter, she's a giantess there.

Pre-dawn soccer playing in the rain.

How are your present wrapping skills
good, bad, indifferent, how can you tell
well, try wrapping up a soccer ball
no cheating, only paper, and not too much
then present your present to a 4 year old
asking can you guess what it is, can you?

If there is any hesitation toss lightly
catching nonchalantly if you possibly can
then grin your widest conspiratorial grin
so that when the light goes on in his face
and his answer is correct you can say
well surely only 4 year olds are this smart

But be prepared because despite the weather
or the fact that it is just after 5 am
that it is raining ... that it is still dark
soccer will commence despite these small concerns
after all, all small boys have flashlights
and they carry spares for forgetful aunties

So venturing forth into the rainy darkness
we share a doubtful look, will this be fun?
well here is where aunties must show their worth
with a whoop I dash towards the farthest goal
thanking my lucky stars that the ball is white
and that the wet ground is soft if sludgy

Slip-sliding my way across what once was lawn
but has long since now become a mucky mire
I skid, then slip, then bum-slide along
but the ball ... goes ... in! GOAL I yell
and picking myself up I gather my nephew
into the biggest muddiest birthday hug ever.

There are fewer better ways to start the day
that leave an otherwise average middle aged woman
resembling in all but size a 4 year old child
than full on pre-dawn soccer playing in the rain
and tomorrow when I look at the resulting bruises
I will, I absolutely will think it was worth it.

The nature of hope

I have long been a believer in hope
although not always sure of it's source
or indeed of it's purpose if any
but there is power in small words
and for me the two that resonate
in the deepest chambers of my heart
have always been joy and hope.

Joy because it is this that I hope for
and hope because without it
there is no point in trying at anything
but it is more than that really
there will come hopeless days
joyless times arrive unannounced
life turns in such unexpected ways

It can seem on these sorts of days
that hope has withdrawn from us
hidden it's face for fear of rejection
because pain is one of it's many foes
robbing us of that special sight
that let's us to cling to hope's light
but although unseen hope remains

The problem with hopelessness
is that in itself it robs us of more
depleted we can succumb to fear
a potent foe and pains dearest friend
these two would have us ravaged
toss us into the merciless storms
but even here some hope remains

Because hope is not vanquished
although it's light can seem very dim
it waits only as it dare not encroach
on what looks like a hopeless situation
but here the secret is to look again
and if for any reason strength fails you
I will pray, I will gather hope's strength

For what is prayer but an exercise in hope
hope that you will find comfort and meaning
hope that you will find strength to hope
hope that you will feel surrounded by love
hope that your myriad of friends will uphold you
hope that your tribulations will ease
and of healing, yes I hope with all my heart

Did you know that you are a source of joy
perhaps I've have neglected to tell you
assuming as I do that your heart knows mine
and thus I need not mention this
it's in the constancy of your kindness
the wickedness of your raucous laughter
what, you don't think I can hear it from here?

On days when you feel no hope at all
I want you to know that it stands there
an invisible fiery angel with feathery wings
it stands right next to you dear heart
perhaps just beyond your vision for today
but later on ... who knows what awaits
and isn't that just the nature of hope.

All my love. Always. xx Jos

The cycle of harm

What happens when the "done to" become "doers" themselves
ah now there is a topic that needs some consideration
and the picture you posted led me to all night thinking
for in my many attempts to heal I've thankfully never once
considered the possibility of becoming a "doer", and yet

From the outset I settled to never become a parent myself
unsure that the damage done wouldn't do more in turn
so this taking out of insurance against possible infliction
has had consequences not considered those many years ago
an enduring self doubt heightened at the advent of Charlotte

A girl who may have proved something but hadn't the chance
passing as she did straight from the womb to immortality
where whispers of what might have been become meaningless
and anyway what if these doubts were in fact with foundation
well then eternity is a safe place from any mortal harm

But back to the question of "done to's" becoming "doers"
never an inevitability and yet never without some risk
the instinct to inflict pain in order to heal is not new
but whilst some choose to do to others, most choose themselves
perhaps this part of the cycle of harm is an unseen outcome

Because some things are hard to say for just about everyone
and no more so than when describing these innermost aspects
these hallowed halls of our minds eye, our individual creations
where thoughts can play themselves out in indescribable ways
repeatedly defeating the constructs of our own poor defense

Leading in it's own turn to the quest to defeat that within us
and here the choices are skewed in a way not often appreciated
for people more complete cannot easily imagine the fragility
or the viewpoint towards this ever diminishing horizon
resulting from defeats endured during our internal warfare

But that is not to say that "doers" must therefore be excused
or that pain suffered can in any way be used as justification
I refuse to believe that there is no knowledge here of wrong
and I fully concede that some gain a kind of twisted satisfaction
from inflicting the darkness within, continuing the cycle of harm

So what is the answer here, how do we break through the cycle
I suppose we start as ever from both within and without
looking to heal both perpetrators of harm and their victims
accepting that those who do abhorrent things to others
are the flip side of those doing such harm to themselves

Can we turn our backs because of our own limited horizons
our inability to comprehend two sides of the same coin
do we pillory because it is simpler than striving for wisdom
despite knowing that such complex matters require more of us
that any solution discarding some involved is no solution at all

What if I were asked to sit face to face with my monster man
would I understand ... would he? Would any difference result
or would the cycle of harm thus continue into perpetuity
how would this in any way stop the goings on behind closed doors
does asking people to face their own monsters diminish them?

In the here and now we can only work to provide escape routes
and truly safe havens widely known of and available to all
guarding against those who would prey on these vulnerable ones
whilst at the same time building, diminishing the vulnerability
somehow though we must also address healing doers of harm too.


... and what of the picture that prompted this train of thought?


Well if you are interested, follow this link;

Circling My Head: Soundless Saturday No. 57

... and whilst you're there have a look at the rest of Renee's incredible blog, it is full of wisdom and the kind of reality that celebrates life's richness.

A loss of trust

So what then becomes of trust
in the face of self betrayal
is there a way of reconciling
more than one version of oneself
the person who once was
with this new not-so-nice one

Why has time not brought wisdom
or forgiveness, even awareness
having broken with trust
does trust permanently turn it’s face
is there no recompense
or some allowance for redemption

I will put this to one side for now
find a place, some dusty corner
to lay this mirror of introspection
not in denial but in sad defeat
that reconciliation is some way off
but life’s other matters beckon too

Is this it?

And so from a dream world
back to reality
and the reality is
that there is no drama here
only a troubled heart
bruised by my own stupidity

And so a feeling of confusion
this deep unease
I thought I'd resolved
or at least put to one side
treasured without regret
outside my life's usual pattern

I need to learn to listen
not just to hear
and then act anyway
putting you in an impossible position
with nothing to say
that I will willingly hear

And I now think you did try
perhaps too tenderly
to steer me clear
of the danger I myself caused
the damage is done now
and so I worry for your heart

Do you remember telling me once
that women don't break
our strength is like the willow
whose branches bend and sway
the wood is green within
not easily splintered apart

I remember thinking
about re-winding back
to just seconds before
I reacted to what I know believe
was just your attempt to heal
this impossible wound

I guess I mis-understood
in every possible way
in my total astonishment
and wonder at my own response
I lost sight of your intent
and created this interpretation

Thinking you wanted to explore
experience this newness
exhibiting your inherent bravery
which I mistook as your own desire
but here in retrospect
I suspect you were at a loss too

How to stop without causing hurt
trying words here and there
which I heard but didn't
lost as I was in these sensations
never before felt, not even close
but that is no real excuse

For I know better than most
how it feels to be used
to be bent towards anothers' will
so my heart fills with abhorrent shame
at the very possibility
that I could be guilty of such things

But if I don't consider this
as at least conceivable
then I am guilty in turn
of doing what I couldn't bear to do
and although it pains me incredibly
I wonder if this is in fact true.

More thoughts of you

I know why I was thinking about this
re-visiting forbidden thoughts I'd shut away
except they just didn't stay that way
and from forbidden I travelled to suppression
but that didn't work very well either
so I travelled further on towards denial

However adept I become at self delusion
I am still left with the knowledge of you
and however this plays out over time to come
I cannot, will not and don't want to deny this
that you impacted on me so unexpectedly
that I am left here breathless in wonderment

Do you remember me saying some time ago
that I can write words that I just can't say
bound as I am by this all consuming fear
that you ignore and thus help me to discount too
I wonder sometimes if you're playing games
using my inexperience as if I were a novelty toy

If I said such things aloud I would be bereft
because there's no response that you could give
in light of my distrust you'd feel duty bound
to re-assure and thus I somehow betray you too
I wish that I could do as it seems that you can
take it as it is, freely given, freely taken, just free

Does this kind of thing happen for a reason
so many mysteries and so my utter confusion
focuses not on the consequences but on the why
moving beyond repercussions to see if there is more
or less in which case the fallout must be contained
except ... except there's this, how can I describe it

I think of you and it just makes me smile inside
I feel with you in a way my normal life doesn't allow
and yet I must acknowledge some consequences
in living my life with such separateness from others
I am uniquely ill equipped to deal with all this
unable to weigh it's significance in your world

So it is that we're back to the question of games
asking of myself the answer to this uncertainty
at a loss to explain this new duality of desire
when desire itself was hard won in the first place
sullied as it was by the ever present monster
who stalks me even through the barrier of death

But that needn't concern you except I know it does
for in telling you of how it was to be stalked
I risked conferring on you some responsibility
to treat me more gently, and here's the crux
what if it is only me that wants, that desires
and you just haven't the heart to tell me so.

Consequences

I know all about boundaries
truly I do
the lines between right and wrong
the rules that bleach our world
leaching the colour right out of it
I do know about boundaries
right and wrong are writ clear across my soul

I stepped over that line though
without hesitation
without a single second thought
in living so completely in the moment
I lost all sight of the consequences
there's a difference you know
between doing right and going with the flow

I remember something you said about this
that you don't regret it
but that you will if I do
that it was real even though it felt unreal
and still does even in my memory
it seems like a dream event
not something I could've been brave enough to do

Why am I thinking about all this now
many months down the track
I suppose I'm not good at smoothing over
at consigning memories to the archive
where they can sit undisturbed in the dust
I reach and take this one down
from it's high up shelf to look again at me

For this is a me that I don't recognise
who acts without thought
who always puts such store by promises made
and yet breaks one thought to be lifelong
it's like a puzzle and I've lost a piece
the part of me who'd have said no
and preserved the lines between dark and light

It's easier when things are simple I guess
but having done I can't undo
so somehow accommodation must be made
towards the me that breaks these rules
but if I do am I not condoning a repetition
making hidden deals within my soul
persuading myself that lines are just shades of grey

I am not brave, but I know right from wrong
and having done wrong
I can only preserve the illusion of the promise
protecting the status quo with ongoing faith
that even rule breakers can be redeemed
not by unburdening for that burden must be borne
but this new line between truth and not troubles me still

Moments

In that moment there was a sudden silence
senses heightened I listened to your breaths
the change was so rapid and then nothing
seeing you slump and being caught and then held
I am reaching for the phone in the next moment
as you are lowered to the floor, laid out flat

I send out for help even as I make my way to you
I do not remember the words I said from that moment
but I've been told that I appeared totally calm
that I instilled calm determination to act
to do the right things in those next moments
to save what could be salvaged, to at least try

And then more moments as men in green arrive
surrounding you in a huge flurry of activity
as we stand on the side-lines watching, hoping
in the next moment I am thinking of your mother
I am waiting to see what I will have to tell her
I am preparing sad and happy words in my head

I am trying to find a combination that will work
that will give hope without false promise
funny, in all my anticipation of this moment
I somehow completely forgot to envisage this part
where we move beyond helping you to helping yours
and in the next moment I am on the phone again

Talking to a woman I've never met yet feel I know
going through the facts of those few moments
asking if I can come and take her to be with you
finding her on the map but unable to navigate
thankfully you have more friends in this moment
as I am taken to in turn take your mother in

Meeting someone with your eyes but clouded
quelling her worry in a babbling stream of talk
telling me in those next hours the story of you
in those moments I learn of you as a baby
as a boy, as a man, and as a son. I learn you
knowing now what you wouldn't want me to know

I know how you value your dignity and privacy
I've kept my distance not from dislike but respect
knowing your discomfort is disguised with banter
laughing with you, trying to find some ease
and over the years we have found that haven't we?
I wonder if we'll have the chance to laugh again

Your sister arrives and so I take my leave
being taken again to be with your friends
where I explain the events of those moments
the calm crumbles and I am myself once more
how thankful I am that we thought about that moment
that we planned and acted to give you a chance

I heard this morning that you know where you are
this tells me all I need to know for now
hope surges, the delicious prospect of more
of laughs and some time perhaps even friendship
and when I next see you ... what will I say?
that your friends were with you in that moment.

Farewell to a friend

You say that life changes you
shrugging with a ghost of a smile on your face
and so ends the chat as we begin talking
about the time when the seemingly invincible towers
of your mental strength tumbled into disarray
under the pressure of too many life events
leaving you feeling desolate and so lost

I struggle to understand your gratitude
until you explain that before, friend was a word
bandied about with abandon but without meaning
and that in your desolation came such aloneness
as some fell by the wayside or ran from the wreckage
dawning in you an awareness that friends don't abandon
but that the label is attached too readily at times

So it is that trust having been breached by many
must somehow be re-gained between those few left
and here your generosity of spirit shines through
as you willingly trust, talking of those difficult times
when what seemed like inadequate attempts to help
were valued despite any awkwardness or ineptitude
with hindsight you saw what we couldn't know

That having had your life rent apart completely
you could re-invent what it means to be you
I hesitate to tell you that I prefer the new version
the depth and openness that weren't there before
or rather were there but far below the surface
hidden beneath the ease of superficial chit chat
that no longer appeals and never did to me

It is on this journey that we became friends
leaving behind the trappings of social niceties
to talk of the harder things, the scary edges
that have us perilously close to tumbling down
ever steeper descents into the darkness of despair
of hearing voices not there, of seeing the invisible
and of not knowing how to speak of such things

Gradually though you do learn how to speak
and with it comes the relief of shared burdens
a knowledge that these can be temporary states
from which recovery is possible and even likely
that people change and not always for the worse
what seem right now like the whispers of insanity
might just be warning signs preceding the precipice

Friendship is funny sometimes though isn't it
found in the unlikeliest of places and times
enduring through the transition from old to new
only to be folded up like an old newspaper
and laid down on a park bench in the shade
to be glanced at only in passing by many
as you walk away onto a new path with new friends

My Butterfly Hunter

It's not really the season for butterfly hunting
but I can't say no to such a hopeful face
battered makeshift old net in one hand
large jam jar with perforated lid in the other
a huge confident grin spurs me into action
searching for my old scrappy shoes and hat

Three year olds don't do silence do they
and so a constant stream of chatter ensues
which secret passageway shall we take today
from the kitchen out back to the garden gate
or shall we split and meet by the greenhouse
these things are important in his small world

We decide on the westerly route for this trip
I am keen to instill some sense of direction
a knowledge of the compass points at least
having intrinsically almost no sense of my own
marking by landmarks the trail back home
pointing out the unusual to act as reminders

We skip along the path by newly bare fields
the harvest already in, leaving golden stubble
but along the edges still long tall grasses grow
and it is to the edge that we head net in hand
I am hoping for grasshoppers or maybe a cricket
some small compensation for my butterfly hunter

Can you concentrate like a young child can
his small body so still and yet also so poised
there is gracefulness in children in motion
but there is even more in a child ready to pounce
my small hunter is quiet as only he knows how
stage whispering his progress through the grass

No butterflies to be had or even to be seen
grasshoppers elusive though heard time and again
finally thirst drives us homewards empty-handed
when the chatter turns to where we come from
how does one explain the birds and the bees
to someone already so knowledgeable at three

I needn't have worried for the answer came from him
he comes from the sun, I apparently from the moon
his brother and sister from the clouds or maybe
from the sun like him, mummy and daddy from the sky
granny and gramps from the ocean definitely not the sea
and did I know what happens when we grow up?

Well I was intrigued to learn more as you can imagine
it seems we become grown-ups, then wolves, then tigers
and finally after we've lived in the jungle for many years
we get to go to live in the sky high up above the night
so we can see the sun and the moon at the same time
and that is how it is in the mind of my butterfly hunter.

Knowing

There is some peace in knowing a thing
even if the thing in question is not a good thing
or at least not inherently good or bad
for only our interpretation provides the label
time and perspective change even these

I'd thought there was little harm in my doing
harmless escapism from the reality of now
which over time slowly became a necessity
what was once escape became chain-like
entrancing me, links finally entrapping me

Links that gradually turn a person who knows
into one that has forgotten what knowing means
except you never forget some things do you
thinking is the mental equivalent of bike riding
a provider of rational insight even in trying times

But there is a potential trap even here
pride lurks ever present in the thinkers mind
persuading us that thoughts of such value
provide answers in themselves ... ah yes
but without actions thoughts are meaningless

So although there is some peace in knowing
there is also unease, a pause, a hesitation
where is the effect ... the follow through
what value is there in a thought agreed with
but not acted upon ... stasis is no answer

Fundamentally then this is a form of delay
a case of passive resistance masquerading
as thinking it through, or maybe buying time
to what? ... well, to dance just one more time
or two more times, perhaps even just three ....

Do you see how it goes, thinking like this
it is a part of the lunacy, part of the knowing
part of this strange sadness of letting it go
something that seemed at first to be a friend
but under clear skies shows it's uglier face

A friend no more then, a parting of the ways
acceptance beckons upon our acquiescence
as thought becomes resolve and in turn action
but when a friend has two faces it can be hard
to remember the harsher version of the two

And so it is that reminders must be written
this friend can be nice but only for a short while
the consequences of this friendship are dire
things that feel good are not always good for me
friends that are not friends are in fact enemies.

Under open skies

I walked out onto the plains and stood under the open sky
looking over my shoulder at the fringes of the forest
sensing nothing of it’s sinister interior, it’s dark heart
appearances aren’t everything though are they?
take me for example, to meet me you’d never know
that I am a habitual forest dweller, uneasy on the plains
finding the light too harsh, making me feel exposed
reminding me how I long for the shade, the solitude

Reminding me in turn that the forest draws one in
that the paths all lead to it’s depths, spiralling, circling
taking us away from the people we want so much to be
convincing us somehow that darkness outshines light
without dulled senses this makes absolutely no sense
why then does our internal dialogue argue black is white
why is there such allure to losing any sense of ourselves
is it so hard to live happily under these open skies?

So I sit because standing leaves me vulnerable to walking
and walking right now would lead me back tree-wards
so I hold tight to my legs and then fold them under me
kneeling in an attitude of supplication for I need help
and it is only away from the forest that help can help
I am fortunate in having an intimate knowledge of this
even if knowing is not doing, not knowing is worse
for it’s true that without knowing we do without thinking.

Doing without thinking is the curse of the forest dweller
a habitual need to block out the light of clear thought
without thought for the hurt, pain and problems caused
the forest dweller wends his merry way, oblivious
to his beloved plains lovers, sisters, brothers, others
who don’t understand why anyone would want the dark
when living under open skies is so natural a life
a communion with nature, a communion with one another

Solitude beckons some who would rather not be seen
those doing shameful deceitful self-destructive things
the heart of the forest beckons those and others too
some running from pain, from pasts, from themselves
not all who dwell in the forest want a permanent home
visitors wander into the darkness and then stumble out again
having breathed in their fill of the fetid rotted interior
the attraction is not universal, not a panacea, just a lie

Knowing the nature of the lie should be a potent weapon
isn’t knowledge power, does it not feed the will?
does it depend on how damaged the will has become
can even a broken will be mended, made back whole
by continually bathing it with light and telling it truths
like that the forest is dark but the plains are light
like that living under it’s leaves destroys our very souls
and that kneeling out on the plains is better than that.

A temporary state

Have you ever found yourself in a very dark place
I don't mean one outside the sphere of your influence
but one without the scant comfort of blamelessness
where what is happening is solely a consequence
of action or at least some inaction on your own part

Have you found yourself in such a place as this
where even the walls echo shouts of accusation
this is your own doing ... own doing ... own doing
and candlelight throws flickering shadows of doubt
upon the walls dripping slow tracks of aged tears

I wander among the stalagnites, the stalegtights
I can't remember the difference between these two
but the colours, the blues, the transulscent greens
the channels of deep despair written clear here
beneath the transience of my soft lingering touch

Some places touch you with a sense of such history
a knowledge of ancient damaged broken hearted souls
who wander aimlessly through these hallowed halls
of life's own creation, all those sacred memories
of a time before even the knowledge of time began

Gathering, piled like rustling leaves in a quiet corner
away from the blistering howling then whispering wind
useless is acknowledged knowledge of what should be done
against this self loathing, a raging fire burning bright
consuming will, demeaning any kind of resolution

This is what I mean when I say a very dark place
a desolate destination arrived at by my own hand
and so much the worse for that, for the blame, the shame
of knowing better but allowing this to get the better of me
of a dependance on an addiction unsolved as yet

Smoke and Mirrors

After all it's just smoke and mirrors
scattered thoughts shattered hopes
lost in the tangled twisted branches
found only in the depths of the forest
far from your eyes, from the open skies
almost out of sight of even my own seeing

Why do I wander off the path at all
knowing as I do the danger, the allure
the drawing in to the heart of the forest
where the dappled light has a dark tinge
and the path tapers off to nothingness
leaving me no sense of direction or time

And time is passing in ways not usual
dulled as the canopy hides the setting sun
or the rising moon for I can see neither
as I circle about in the deepening gloom
turning glass into bottle and then into two
with determination to obliterate thought

To run from an awareness of one's self
is a form of madness that takes practice
which is one thing I've had plenty of
arrogant pride in my ability to hide
and indulge again in this wasteful place
back amongst the deceptive lies of my heart

The branches here offer such strange comfort
a seeming embrace, a yielding roughness
a familiar feel of silent recrimination
a smell of rot that reminds me of myself
and returns me to some semblance of sense
seeing clearly despite the inky blackness

That the heart of the forest is heartless
a deep well in which to sink our own despair
thinking that we're leaving ourselves behind
only to catch sight of our own reflection
it seems smoke and mirrors only do so much
fleeing into this heart takes it's own toll

A gloom can seem even darker than it is
the entanglement of branches binding us
and yet this illusion is just more smoke
even reflections can be deceptive at best
this person in the mirror is the lost one
dark eyes speaking wetly into the silence

I have been a forest dweller for too long
wasted many days wandering in the depths
taking myself away from the person that I am
or could be if only I stay under open skies
not hidden away but seeing and being seen
sunrise comes to steal this darkness away

Prayer

How does one find any kind of faith in the hour
of someone else's urgent deepest need
of what benefit are my faithless prayers
said in yearning hope rather than conviction

Is it the futility of hope against the inevitability of fate
or does earnest prayer tip the balance in any way
anyway, I have been re-learning the art of prayer
not hard you might think, after all it's just words

But prayer for me is essentially an act of faith
and faith is something I find I have in short supply
but in the absense of concrete ways to offer help
I resort to applying myself to this simple task

Ambivalent if only because of the deep injustice
of seeing one person bearing the burden of many
of seeing misfortune piling higher each day
eroding hope, despite heroic laughter after tears

Aware once more that lifetimes are so short
when measured against the yardstick of infinity
that my perception of injustice and unfairness
is also my ignorance in the face of omniscience

And so it is that faith flickers on in my soul
enabling entreaty, conferring grace and hope
asking only that the unendurable be lifted
that strength be given to bear what can't be borne

Healing, can I ask this if it's on behalf of another
if I only get one wish it would have to be this
if you can create does it mean you can re-create
actually I don't really mean can you, but will you

Will it be too much to ask that you are where I cannot be
holding her hand and the hands of those she loves
if I cannot be there to share in the fire walk
will you hold them up, provide courage in the flames

Safely guiding them through the darkest of times
binding them tightly to you and to each other
the faint flicker of faith is still alight here in me
so I hold her in my heart as I say another prayer

I could rail against a God who lets this happen
curse him or her all the way to hell and back
... and I have, far too many times to mention
but when I ask on anothers behalf it's different

I made a promise that I would pray every day, so I do
faithfully praying for more faith to pray for miracles
faithfully praying that miracles happen for these few
wishing it with all my might, with all my heart

Renee I love you too. xx Jos

Hope against hope

Sometimes I can't think what to say, what will help
even knowing the way it is when you're stuck there
under the dark clouds, feeling the lethargy, apathy
the hammering of self judgement knocking loudly
telling you repeatedly that you're useless worthless
and any small effort you make will never be enough

If I tell you positive things you might just raise a smile
but fundamentally the change comes from within
so anything I say can only ever have little effect
except to let you know that despite how this feels
despite the deep aloneness that comes with these clouds
you are not alone, I am with you, right beside you

And the reason you can't see me is no reason at all
I am here and you are there but I am also there
in that I have sat or lain under the same dark skies
feeling the hollowness that comes with the wind
numbing my mind, turning me inwards onto myself
blocking my view of the outer world altogether

Oh god and the tiredness, the bone aching exhaustion
of dragging yourself through the bare minimum tasks
of washing dressing eating walking talking ... doing
wading through the treacle of everyday existence
waiting for the chance to climb in under the duvet
hiding in slumber from the wastelands of my life

There will always be that temptation won't there
to take up again the medication that alters temporarily
these bottles with no prescription label, liquid oblivion
taking you away to a place removed from reality
rocking you gently in it's seemingly safe embrace
come the morning the mirror tells it's own tale

Come the morning comes also the terrible knowledge
of an addiction fed once more, the clouds descend
ever closer enveloping, swirling within our nausea
as the self loathing rears up to engulf us once more
the descent seems almost inevitable from this point
is there any spark of hope in this dark soulless place

And so it is that I come to write to you now my friend
to talk once again of the nature of hope against hope
the wisdom I share is not my own, although I own it now
but passed to me in a time of my own deep need
in the safe knowledge that although it might take time
I would should the opportunity arise return the favour

Perhaps hope seems elusive because it is too close to see
is it possible do you think that the answer lies within
if you consider even the remotest chance that I'm right
you might well stumble across a crumb barely recognised
for this crumb born of my distraction is a tiny kernel
from which I'm sure hope might be nurtured to grow

How is it that I know or suspect the answer lies within
do you not remember the day not so very long ago
when you told me that these things pass, always do
three words then two that I took inside and grew
from five words to this, my inadequate gift back to you
in the hope that you will at least find some comfort here

We talked some time ago about a sunny green hillside
a quiet place just beyond the outer edge of the storms
found by plodding face towards the gale force winds
finding strength on strengthless days for just one step
the next day two, my friend these things do pass
steps that might seem aimless lead somewhere else

Somewhere else doesn't sound all that safe does it
ah, but I can't promise a safe haven or sunny hillsides
but I can wish, I can hope, I can wait there for you
if I walk towards you how close will I have to be
before you see me, before you feel a spark of hope
shall we see, can you see me yet ... how about now?

Notes on the cloud room

Before, how did I say the unsayable?
I guess I just didn't, locked it away
found a secret corner in my mind
to tuck things out of sight, out of mind
and now I say them here
except some things.

You asked me recently about some things
why I have a room of clouds locked away
like that secret corner of my mind
where I still tuck some things out of sight
things I can't say where they might be read
I'm glad you don't ask why.

Do you ever feel disgusted with yourself?
like you just shouldn't be allowed
to mix with decent people
living decent lives
and it's not an act for them
they're clean on the inside too.

Well I'm not. Not clean I mean
and no amount of washing or wishing
can ever make it so
and no amount of turning my mind
changes this fundamental belief
that I am an unclean girl ... woman.

There's a look I see sometimes in the mirror
on those days when I almost can't bear
to meet my own eyes there
darkness gathers in my already dark eyes
and I feel the howling gale within
drowning out the sounds of now.

And so what I write in the cloud room
is stuff I just can't say
or bear to have read even by you
and I'm sorry you think I don't trust enough
but if you knew me like I know me
you wouldn't want to know that about me.

The Shoreline

When I first walked here along our shoreline
I didn't realise that so many years on
I'd get used to this, make it my second home
as familiar to me as my own cloudy horizons
and although sometimes I feel quite desperate
trying to catch sight of you amongst the waves
I am learning, very slowly learning to let it be

Knowing that in time you come ashore by choice
and even if it is not solely just to join me
I can still find a measure of joy in your company
for while no one person can be the reason for another
that doesn't mean I don't wish in my secret depths
that I could be more of a reason for you my love
on days like this I feel almost invisible to you

You wander out beyond the surf, beyond my sight
infrequent visits ashore bringing towering rages
and long lonely silences I can find no way to fill
I am just me, just a person, I can not be an anchor
can not be enough reason for you to try harder
family fill my ears with advice, I should do more
force the issue, make you listen to me, my needs.

I don't think I can shout loud enough to be heard
above the surf, the pounding sound of the waves
and even if I could my love, what could I say to you
how can I reach into the heart of your misery
simply to add guilt to your overwhelming despair
if you are struggling to stay afloat treading water
will it not just add to your weight if you hear me.

Are you beyond the range of even the lighthouse now
if I add my light will that act as an extra incentive
and even if you come ashore will I know what to say
it seems that my every word grates on you somehow
justifying your withdrawal from my inane stupidity
leaving me feeling not just alone but cast aside
a reject would-be rescuer sitting here on the shore.

There are days when I feel like walking inland
leaving the shoreline to find a home in the hills
where the trees make sounds not unlike the waves
where the task of climbing gently calms the mind
and looking out from the summit the horizon unfolds
in every direction, a vista of life lived so far
I'd turn to scent the air for salt even here.

A parcel

There is nothing quite like getting a parcel
reminds me of being a child at Christmas time
a mysterious box arriving from so far away
brown paper, strange stamps, shaky handwriting
all of our names written large across the top

Under the tree it would go to sit for weeks
lifted and looked at, shaken time and again
what fabulous item might be hidden within
almost always a book, my very favourite thing
read without fail by close of Boxing Day

And so this morning I chatted to our postie
whilst removing some stamps for her son
there was a tingle of anticipation and delight
fully realised on opening it up, your gift
such amazing pictures, ah and chocolate

Well, you are right of course when you say
that no day is complete without chocolate
breaking off a piece I indulge, savour the taste
as I peruse these photos, reminding me again
that there is so much beauty in the world

And no more so than is found in your heart
I love them, they are stunning, just stunning
and now I have a small glimpse of your world
but I won't tuck them away, no I will share
jealously though, as they so richly deserve.

Your kindness

There is something about kindness
I can endure hardship and hurt
although I can totally understand
why you mightn't think so
but kindness
well kindness undoes me completely
leaves me sitting on the kitchen floor
holding onto the cupboard handles
whilst crashing waves run through
and over and past me.

I don't deserve such thoughtfulness
having not given enough of myself
and yet suddenly there it is
totally unexpectedly
your kindness
I can write words I can't say out loud
sending them on a wing and a prayer
almost trusting in your understanding
that words unspoken aren't the same
as feelings not felt.

Will you recognise yourself here
think perhaps I'm writing of another
that small acts have small impacts
but that isn't really so
with kindness
I wish sometimes I was braver
and better at putting into words
how some things affect me so deeply
that I am left feeling undone
which is no bad thing.

Reflection

There are many ways to be lonely
many ways to hide the fact
that what seems to be isn't
that smiles are easy to manufacture
slipping behind the masquerade
of politeness and joviality

But towards the end of the day
there are moments of reflection
seeing again what lies beneath
an acknowledgement of aloneness
despite the seeming hub-bub
of others comings and goings

I hate the masquerade really
so why do I keep playing
padding out my isolation
this false comfort of companions
who are here only for now
and who don't know me, not really

I am often lonely through and through
though I spend little time alone
or so it would seem
people fill much of my life and time
but this feeling of separation
this loneliness persists

Except with those few, special few
who by trusting win my trust
time spent amongst these friends
is like slipping into old jeans
rambling under the harvest moon
puddle jumping in the rain

I would that there were more friends
but I am losing the knack
of their making somehow
as distance becomes ever greater
and time drives our lives apart
making me a better letter writer

I am so glad you are there
but I'd much rather you were here
in my sight, within touching distance
words on a page don't mean less
but I prefer the immediacy
of the sound of our laughter.

another debacle

You know that phrase
when you are in a hole
stop digging
well there's a problem
I can't always tell you see
that I'm in some hole

So I blithely dig down
in doing so cause hurt
not intentional
but sorrow can't undo it
and words spoken now
will ring hollow in your ears

And what words could I use
I'll only make it worse
cement impressions
add offence to hurt already felt
this hole feels pretty deep
now I realise what I've done

So I'll retire to the fringes
have another look at it
try to figure out
how intelligence and it's counter
can so blindly co-exist
making me hostage to fortune

This clumsiness of mine
gets me in too many scrapes
blundering about
shattering the silence with idiocy
before that dawning realisation
of yet another debacle

Someone once asked of me
what gift I covet most in the world
taller, richer, blue eyes
none of these things appeal
I want to be able to un-say
to undo and rewind to before

I wasn't thinking at all you see
I was just talking about me
I'd no idea of the inference
that could be put on my words
so in judging myself harshly
you feel like I'm also judging you

That's not at all what I meant
and there's that massive hole
gaping wide, waiting
where is a ladder when you need it
would it help at all to tell you
that it's very dark down here.

How goes it

Can I sit with you
by your side
not meeting your eyes
brother can I be here
will you accept my presence

Are the drugs working
do you feel safe
from these memories
walking through this pain
looking only ahead

Why are your eyes dead
where is your spririt
some kind of resistance
I rely on you even now
to lead the way

But why do I do this
you are not strong
I've known it always
hard wired by decree
much loved always by me

If you don't cope well
I needn't either
I can be a child again
ask for protection
curl in upon myself

I needn't even try
I can just give in
let the waves wash over
feel the ebb and flow
momentarily let go

A poor solution

Have you ever
jumped
leaped off the edge
how did it feel
were you scared
were you aware
more alive

Did you stop
at the precipice
look down
see the depths
feel the fear
tingle of excitement
but anyway


Did you jump
a leap of faith
believing
the outer edge
would miss you
leave you falling
into infinity

I heard the call
some nurse
did I know you
was I related
shared history
locked eyes
killing you

I remember
pain unrelenting
hidden deep within
monster moving
rough hands on us
eyes imploring
can we escape

Not then but now
we are bigger
children grown
bodies beyond desire
of despicable urges
adult form without
child still within

I hold your hand
I will you well
I wish you better
and yet, and yet
healing withheld
waves washing over
buoys notwithstanding

I wait for news
white coated men
who keep secrets
from those who care
who wait outside
seeing these movies
reliving this with you

What resolution
some healing somehow
will you accept
a life half lived
a healing half given
a compromise
a poor solution

New love

I have been trying to think of something to say
something that might just conceivably help
the silence lengthens and with it comes anxiety
if I say nothing, if I skirt around the edge of it
take the cowards way out, offer platitudes instead
what will become of friendship if friends do this

This fear you have is hard to express clearly
implicit in your words are echoes of heartbreak
a deep love lost, and now new love just budding
the possibility of lasting happiness after all
is it betrayal? Can you honour a memory still
but live in the present too, live ... laugh ... love

Does it devalue what was if you focus on what is
how does one combine treasuring a memory
with finding joy in these moments with her
can one love forever, but also love again
would she understand, or is there wrath to come
at infinity's door when lives lived are done

As these implicit and explicit questions whirl
I am struck again by the honesty of your love
not easy to win, but once won never lost
as a friend you are a stalwart of loyalty
such depth of feeling was bound to arise
with the advent of this blossoming romance

Life is to be lived, in the fullest way you can
if that means loving again where is the wrong
how can a soul begrudge the living of comfort
and knowing this particular soul as we do
how hard is it to believe that she would smile
knowing her gentle man now is gentling another

Fear is natural but only through expectations
which are raised within and compared against
a losers game involving far too much thinking
not enough following of your inherent instinct
for being close without threat, opening your heart
do you remember how you won your first love?

With quiet walks holding hands, sitting on the wall
talking into the twilight hours of future dreams
pausing to point out the calls of the night owl
and then home for tea and comfort in holding
building hour upon hour a love everlasting
she told me, never had she been held like that

A man that can make a woman feel this way
is a special person, what I'd call a gentle man
and so what I think is that you should do this
find a slow way to woo that keeps the essence
of your gentle style but differs from the first
creating a newness that honours both of you

The pact

How can I tell you, after so many years of silence
might it not shake what we have to it's very core
undermine your belief in us, our sound foundation
can you separate this one thing out from the whole
accept that in all other regards things are good

More than good, that having you here in my life
enriches me beyond anything I ever imagined
my love, when I say I love you it's no small word
it is a form of surrender, a total giving of myself
to the point where I try to give more than I can

And therein lies the problem we come to here
if I tell you that I sometimes dread your touch
that will hurt you in a way I have no right to do
the hurt lies within me, this ancient damage done
years of being taken from make it hard to give

How I wish I could travel back to those early days
I should have told you more, given you reasons
but trust is slowly built and secrets easily kept
the passage of time creates a sacredness in silence
where keeping the pact is an act of faith in itself

That by my silence and continuing endeavour
all will be well, giving will become second nature
but time is passing and the ease is not there
if it were a matter of sheer will, I would
without hesitation I would welcome your touch

I love you my love, I do with my whole heart
will you believe such words, will the years count
faithful committed years, trying always trying
or will it be that if I open this door, let you see
that you will withdraw once more from me

And might that in itself solve the problem
could your absence create the longing not there
I fear not, for you have been long absent before
many months pass at times without touch
whilst you wrestle the dark waves of despair

I ponder this question from time to time
trying to tease out a way forward without hurt
seeing this tangled web of needs as yet un-met
I see trust in us in your eyes and I value that
above any need to break my long kept pact

Ritual blessings

Peace be with you (and also with you)
words from my radio reverberating through
reminding me of so many Sunday masses
of gloriously coloured dresses on men
of parades with candles, song and incense
filling the air with that distinctive smell
smoke drifting past stained glass panes
shepherds and sheep, deep reds and blues

The message buried beneath layers of ritual
standing sitting kneeling in fixed intervals
flipping through our leather bound missal
distracted by pages of ceremonial verse
words never used in my everyday language
epiphany, annunciation, transfiguration
pronouncing them this way and that
trying to find meaning from their sounds

Meanwhile going through the motions
watching the phases of habitual ritual
I caught no inkling of The Maker here
nor even a whisper of The Giver either
just men in robes with candles and smoke
somewhere separate down at the front
by an alter which really any fool could see
was just a big table with fancy tassels on

But one part I can always remember
the lead up to the finish, the final blessing
the main man would stretch out his arms
mirroring the pose on the cross overhead
and in solemn tones after a long pause
would come those sacred words so familiar
"peace be with you", and in my gratitude
an end at last, I'd reply "and also with you"

Outside trooping past the robed old men
shaking damp hands, exchange of smiles
then on to the long walk home in silence
a further continuation of the holy hush
the sky gradually drawing my gaze upwards
watching the clouds scatter white on blue
seeing evidence at last of The Maker there
a hint of The Giver gentle on the breeze

I remember Dad repeating his blessings
a sad tradition after far too much to drink
may the Lord bless you and keep you
may the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you, may the Lord
turn his face toward you and give you peace
I prefer simply turning my face windwards
whispering to the breeze, peace be with you

Family

There is such comfort to be had laughing with you
sharing a joke and a smile across these many miles
visualising you hanging backwards off your chair
phone tucked neatly under your chin, shirt and tie
how did we become almost proper grown ups now

I look at your photo sometimes, stern upright man
you hate having your picture taken and it shows
so too does the love you have for your daughters
arms resting lightly across their small shoulders
one with your smile, one with your nose and eyes

What few could ever suspect is your humour
gentle teasing escalates to laughter rip roaring
which must make your work colleagues wonder
at this so serious man with the contagious giggle
reserved only for wives, little sisters and daughters

I see you now behind your big desk, corner office
visiting you there is like landing in alien territory
where doors shush closed, and people talk quietly
serious money being dealt through leveraged deals
golf days, I have no clue about what it is you do

But fundamentally I know you, 46 years of knowing
from small children spitting out angry words
to sneaking out to smoke dope on the back porch
watching the moon rise over the maple trees
keeping an ear out for raccoons raiding the garbage

Moving on and then years of not knowing so well
time passing, career building, family making
and then started the phone calls, every few months
then letters interspersed with calls, monthly chats
and onto every other week tea and donut time

You closing the office door, an early morning call
me rushing home from work to make it on time
the phone often ringing just as I walk in the door
sinking into our battered old blue sofa, bare feet
talking to my suited and booted biggest brother

Planning our next gathering, renting big old houses
filling them with laughter and love, happy times
relaxing with three generations of our kin
carbon copies of features seen again and again
softly spoken words on a different back porch

We're holding our family together across the ocean
creating something of the nothingness that was
weaving a web of ties that should always have been
building a bridge over the treacherous past
you bringing the donuts and me bringing the tea

In the end there's something about family though
even one dismembered of some of it's members
a lingering core, a remnant of almost wholeness
a joy in seeing a breaking in the endless cycle
a newer generation now unencumbered and free

The shadows

Can I tell you something
do you want to know
what it was like
have you ever been scared
I mean wet yourself scared
shaking uncontrollably scared
wishing you were dead scared

That's what it was like
making desperate deals with God
promising everlasting goodness
a lifetime in the nunnery
a life of pious prayerfulness
of doing only good deeds
gladly repaying an eternal debt

Didn't fuckin' work though did it
prayers so earnestly prayed
and for what, to what end
did it stop the monster man
hold back his evil desires
no, my prayers did not suffice
and so what became the sacrifice

A life lived amongst the shadows
an endless quest to heal
a hope against hope
that all will eventually be well
that striving is not a waste of time
that prayers might yet yield
a solution, a final way to heal

My memories are hard to deal with
the pictures, sounds, feelings
the shame, which I know shouldn't be
but how do you tell a small girl
that the secrets she keeps are wrong
that the pain she feels is real
she is not quite a woman just yet

I'll tell you what it was like
it was terrifying, knee trembling
want-to-run-away-from-this fying
this man knew what he was doing
knew what he was taking
fumbling with his zipper
such a strange expression dead eyes

And then in and on, thrusting now
but I'm mostly gone into the cloud room
where this can not hurt me
the monster man has his way
whilst I'm gone from this moment
in my own place where I can play
where fear is but a heart beat away

How can I hold that young girl
reach back through time with comfort
saying even monsters die in the end
and when they do it's the time
to put aside forever guilt and shame
learn again to hold tight my gentle man
who hears no whispers in my embrace

Storms

How can I explain this, this slipping
sliding into an old uncomfortable groove
of drowning out the rage, dull ache
slicing through the constructs
built in feeble defence, walls tumbling
ruination, piles of rubble at my feet

I build these structures each time
in forlorn optimistic hope of longevity
that they will hold against the onslaught
withstand the battering at memories door
splintering cracks appearing each time
suffocating images come flooding in

Can I take your hand, will you stand
with me here in the face of such storms
facing this all alone gets so wearing
and yet how to ask for such help
how to admit to my desperate need
can I, dare I, risk rejection yet again

This really is after all my fight alone
I can't build defences based on your help
not that I doubt your honourable intentions
but reliance holds no lasting solution
I must find a path through the morass
a lasting solution, some finality at last

Pointless wishing what might have been
a past free of horrors, to have it unseen
undoing the undo-able is beyond my doing
a way of living with the fallout must be found
that doesn't involve a trip through dependence
through to further stages of addiction

No answer then at the bottom of a bottle
no way to cope with the everyday stuff
I wish ... oh god how I wish, but why
what is the point. I am who I am right now
a survivor, I fought the monster and lost
it seems I'm still losing this battle today.

Sea of tears

I am not sure how it happened really
must have left the back door open
or something like that anyway
looked the other way and didn't see
the sneaky way you have of re-appearing

Turning around and suddenly there you are
and there's fuck all I can do about it
the people who live in our minds
they can't be shown the door so easily
sometimes things just have to be endured

The resurgence of memories not faded
glorious technicolour surround sound
sensational sensations, small girl sounds
big monster man groans, small boy moans
background music, shadows on the wall

Spinning, the movie reel turns, speech
lights, camera, action zooming in on me
small frightened me in my fluffy pyjamas
wanting only an end, a return to my bed
curling tight with my back against the wall

Why are you sitting here in my head
with your bad teeth and beery breath
pipe smoke on your jacket, calloused hands
small dark piercing eyes, glimmer of a smile
plotting new ways to deaden our souls

There is a sea of tears shed by children
old and young subjected to monster men
the moon turns the sea silvery smooth
reflecting the endless sky there on its surface
the sheen barring any sight of the depths

Under the surface lies pain undiminished
an inability to heal the fundamental hurt
of being robbed in a way where recompense
becomes completely meaningless to us
children in grown up shells upon the shore

A troubled young woman

If only I could just figure out a way, I would
I would venture tiptoing into your head space
walk with you through those vaulted echoing halls
looking at all of the changing hanging galleries
taking time to share your thoughts such as they are
I remember so well the intensity of teen years
those changing times with such uncertainty
where much too much changes much too fast

And whilst reading the likes of Nietzsche
may well set you apart from many of your peers
it is not perhaps in the way you surmise
it indicates the bleak desolation of your outlook
well, that coupled with your incessant withdrawal
which is the cause of those worry lines appearing
on the forehead of your mother my friend
if only you knew the deep pain she keeps hiding

The nature of parents is to worry, that's true
and you give some cause with the way you are
so smart, so articulate, so very condescending
of a parent who can not appreciate philosophy
she just wants you to eat and stop hurting yourself
your ideas of the pointlessness of existence
are of little comfort to her as an explanation
if only you knew how much she does understand

You aren't the first person to find relief in pain
a way of gaining control through slicing in
watching the lines appear, turn red with jewels
a silken string, shiny deep coloured hue, calming
quietening the the deafening tumult within
she knows, but I can't tell you anything of that
batting instead ideas of master and slave morality
searching for a chink of light, some small bridge

Any small chance to build some kind of rapport
cutting through the loneliness of a child woman
to reclaim what is left of a childhood shed too soon
Nietzsche says god is dead and that may be so
but you are very much alive despite your fear
that you won't be good, bright, beautiful enough
that measuring up will always remain beyond you
you forget there is no scale for distinctiveness

There is no way of measuring the uniqueness
of your individual worth, but take a look here
look at the love in the faces of your parents
the doubt you have is natural but unfounded
no-one is forcing them to love you as you say
and you can of course keep pushing them away
easier than taking another look at your actions
evaluating again your fears against the reality

I look at your dark eyes skimming all ways
not resting except on your twisting hands
I can almost feel you wishing me from the room
so I pick up my copy of Ecce Homo and leave
coming into the kitchen to find your mother
with her not quite invisible scars, inside and out
shutting yourself away is a natural response
I wish I could tell you her story, what I know

History has an awful way of repeating itself
the scars passing through the generations
the pain weaving itself around each new soul
creating a sense of complete and utter isolation
that subsequent years fail to quite unravel
and so the channels of meaningful communication
are snuffed out by guilt, shame, and denial
a perpetual willing blindness fed by fear

Hopefully nothing dramatic needs to be done
a gentle word or two each day ... drip drip
stoically putting aside ones own needs for now
pulling down the walls, showing vulnerability
and strength, love, hope, purpose in this life
in time healing comes to those who persevere
a mother needs her daughter at such times
perhaps then the healing can run both ways

Rifts

Walking with you has it's own distinct rhythm
there's an ease that closeness brings of course
the knowledge that whatever is said will be OK
and even more precious are the comfortable pauses
the silences that neither of us rush to fill
the swish, the brush of hands, exchange of glances

The talk runs from surface to deep and back again
following each others thoughts with instinctive ease
so many times I could complete your sentences
and I know it is the same way for you too
the depth of such friendship lies in the unspoken
and yet if I could name it, what would I say

I'd say that it's invaluable to have someone close
who knows awkward stuff but never speaks of it
who sees your blind spots and lets you off the hook
or not, when doing so reeks of looming disaster
who is brave enough to risk the hurt of truths
whilst wise enough to gently blunt the sharp edges

Who gives much and confidently expects much in return
knowing that words said can be counted upon
politeness has no currency, is no exchange for meaning
care is taken, not caution which is quite different
but care to say what we mean, what we want or need
and it's OK to be specific, spades are shovels

Even so the art of allusion is deployed at times
there are things we talk of by skirting around the edges
not diving in as the depths look too dark and murky
I can swim, but can I hold you up should the need arise
I wouldn't want to risk it, and I sense your reticence
there are things even the closest needn't know

Do you ever think about the years of our separation
how strange it felt not having you here in my life
there is nothing I have ever done that I regret more
than those moments when we both broke all boundaries
and in doing so nearly shattered something I'd believed
would be everlasting, a cornerstone of both our lives

Despite the hurt caused on both sides we circled
or rather spiralled, for reconcilliation was inevitable
funny how forgiveness is easier to give than accept
and no more so than when both sides are equally guilty
so true that two wrongs make matters far worse
a lesson learnt well, not so well that we don't fight

Mistakes are funny things though aren't they
good and bad can come out of the most unexpected events
and though I regret breaking those barriers long ago
I do find some comfort in knowing that extremities
can be breached, can be repaired, can add knowledge
an awareness of danger at the outer edges of our friendship

Your grin

I got your photo today ... looking good there bro
so much to celebrate in such a simple picture
there's you of course, lounging, ever the cool dude
there's your little boy leaning in, looking up
what's so arresting to me is the sight of your grin
that exact expression has me tumbling back in time
to so many scrapes you talked me into, infallible logic
up against gullibility on a scale rarely seen

I remember the way your arguments were built
the circles and spirals, your utter conviction
that the unworkable could in fact work if only
I'd not just say I believed, but acted upon it
like the time you told me I could fly, defy gravity
with the power of my mind, jump you said and I did
bloody knees, scraped hands, stains on my dress
disbelief, then more rough justice at parental hands

Did that cure me of my incessant gullibility
not by a long chalk, I am given to it still
to the point where friends laughingly tease me
and tell tall tales watching carefully my acceptance
right up to the point where they pull the rug out
slipping it from under my feet, leaving me wondering
where the truth ceased in reality and the lies began
we all know that truths are hidden in such games

And therein lies one of those strange conundrums
gullibility is a surplus of faith in others' goodness
and as such I am quite happy to be guilty as charged
yet despite all this I have this sneaking feeling
that the good outweighs the bad in almost everyone
in other words quite typically I still think I'm right
and the label has unfairly been given a bad name
cynic or gullible one, I know which one I'd choose

And whooshing back from remembering I look at you
at your grin, at your relaxed happy stance, your grin
I keep coming back to it as I smile at you there
feeling again the excitement of unexpected happenings
that any number of disasters never fully cured me of
my willingness to at least try, to give it a go
you instilled in me a sense of adventure that survives
and very occasionally even now defeats my shy reserve

Some days

Some days are good and some are not so great
it's funny how sometimes you know right off
you open your eyes and the sun is shining
the birds are singing the flowers are waving
all the outside things are looking as they should
but inside things are jarring, jumbling

Where is the rhyme and reason in this
why should the sun shine despite the darkness
and why is it so hard to keep the night at bay
with its mumbled murmurings of impending disaster
which create endless cycles of anxiety and doubt
if I look to the sun why see only dark clouds

The answer to this lies beyond my understanding
that much has been clear for many a year
as the clouds roll in and out at will, not mine
but perhaps the will of some universal designer
arbitrarily deciding which souls can withstand what
which are more of Job's ilk and which not

I remember reading of Job in the black leather book
of hearing what an example he was to us all
that faith untested is of little lasting value
but tempered by pain and suffering it becomes gold
what I remember was thinking what an awful thing
that God bet with Satan over the faith of a man

Such omnipotence is beyond me, this I know
and in times of trial there is much comfort
to be had in the many cadenced verses therein
the eloquent description of unceasing despair
the steadfast insistence that there's always hope
but still I am appalled at the nature of the bet

Appalled too at passing judgement in my ignorance
what know I of matters weighty only in infinity
if I can't even plan to negotiate past these clouds
to get from the morning to the evening of a single day
to edge past the seductiveness of doing nothing
to refuse crawling into yet another hibernation

Some days are are full of a sense of foreboding
knowing the clouds are gathering on the horizon
knowing that action in defence is useless
that the clouds come at a time of their own keeping
and disperse again only at an imperceptible signal
from who knows what, and from who knows where

Some days are not in any way like this though
awakening to the reassuring buzz of everyday concerns
turning on my pillow to see my gentle man snoring
padding off to make tea, to look out over the garden
planning, scheduling, juggling time and tasks
I forget to pause and be thankful for some days

My first glimpse of Charlotte

I remember you every day
the awakening knowledge of you
my fear, and yet also joy
a fluttering inside, changing
the flittepy flop of movement

The realisation of you
with your tiny arms and legs
the blurry image of you
your shape upon the screen
your heart pippity papp

I saw you, your bum, your head
your teeny tiny nose
the perfection of your fingers
the sound of your heart beating
your life waiting

Indigestion, the need for a pee
oh god, am I really going to be
a mummy, a parent
a person to be relied upon
are you sure, is it to be

Every night awake feeling movement
an ever growing belly
a tenderness, milk filling
changing shape, making room
a growing excitement, anticipation

Making plans, drawing close
looking at your picture
thinking of all the possibilities
the person you might someday be
loving you, even now

And then pain, a flowing, bleeding
a rush as we try to get help
and then dark blankness, lost time
a holding of hands, a whisper of words
Charlotte is gone, she's an angel now

I try to hold on to that thought
as tight as I can
I search for your mourning
but it's buried deep inside you
a place I'm not allowed to go even now

I have a place like that too
buried deep within my heart
and Charlotte is there
growing, living, dying, transcending
becoming something more

Oh Charlotte I wish you'd been born
been allowed to breathe, to grow
to give me grief on a different level
I'd have waited up on graduation night
I'd have sat through your first heartbreak

Better that than the heartbreak
of losing you before having you
of seeing only a picture on that screen
of never holding you in my arms
of hearing of you from faceless blue suited people

I remember you every day
I think of the girl you might have been
the woman you might have become
the daughter I would have loved
if time had blessed me with your care

I named you Charlotte knowing
that had you grown
I'd always have called you my Charlie
so you could choose to be
blokey or not as the case might be.

The look

There's a certain look that tears at my heart every time
evokes in me a desperate need to reassure, to stand alongside
it's that vulnerable expression speaking of the fear of rejection
a fear so many of us have and one I share wholeheartedly

So when I saw that look recently unexpectedly upon your face
I was torn by a need to keep my distance yet also draw near
you taught me I must learn to conceal my emotions like a weakness
that crying was an activity to be confined to solitary privacy

For too many years you have shown little care for my fears
creating a false note in every interaction, refining the act
and having learnt to act my part I must now shed the mask
show my hand at last, but there is no succour, no triumphalism

However many unresolved issues of anger there are between us
where there is need I feel the need to help, to comfort even
but breaking down the barriers between us, learning a new honesty
I have to say I do find the prospect of doing this quite scary

For I risk that feeling again but with a much increased intensity
knowing I have never been the daughter you would have wished for
never been made of the right stuff, too weak, too emotional
too prone to tears, to saying how I feel, to telling the truth

Perhaps it's easier to tell yourself these things than to see
that we are very similar we two, experience carving the difference
creating the schism ... the mirror is such an uncomfortable place
yet for me there is some comfort in seeing you in my reflection

I have learnt to curb my behaviour when I'm with you, act the part
speak more carefully, choose my words, avoid upset at all costs
but the sands of time are shifting and fracturing the game
we may have to learn new rules, new ways to be around each other

Until I met my gentle man, I had no idea how it felt to be safe
to be cared for, to know that with all my faults I am loved
your withdrawal from all the chaos and hurt during our childhood
left no room for the simple acts of love, a gentle word, a hug

Lost to us in your own world, protecting yourself, shutting us out
I wished I'd known then what I do now about the dark clouds
about the despair and fear you felt, the need for any escape
the deep lasting hurt that even now has such a strong hold on you

Did you think I wouldn't understand, that the passage of years
wouldn't at some stage awaken in me some measure of wisdom
some degree of compassion for a woman in such desperate straits
that survival depended on a willingness to shut everything out

For all we never speak of it, I love you still, as you do me
and I suspect that these shifting sands scare you more than I
to admit to the need for help is a hard thing to learn years on
another part of coming to terms with the late autumn of your life

With age comes fear, bred from seeing your growing undeniable frailty
an understanding that there will soon be the question of dependence
will you be able to depend on a daughter whose faults are clear to see
I wonder if you feel undeserving of care, having cared so little

No that's not right, it's not a lack of care on your part is it?
more an inability to unwind enough to speak this foreign language
a fear that you've left it years too late to start all over again
and that's mostly my fault, I should have never bought into the act

I should have started years ago to show you the person I am now
should have led the way, hugged you, said words despite your unease
caused upset, shown my emotions, taught you this foreign tongue
I should have done everything to stop you having to give me that look.

the turning tide

It has been a bit of a mixed bag these last weeks
some days spent where you're here with me, the next not
but then the tide turns and here you are again smiling
so I try to bury that old resentment and smile back
there's no point in resenting an illness, no point at all
and yet the fact that you refuse to acknowledge the tide
or the length and depth of your absences, it scares me

It speaks of the breadth of the distance between us
what you call being a bit down has lasted some months
relentless days of silence interspersed with raging fury
but when I mention this you deny, refute and anger builds
I'm being over dramatic, trying to make it more than it is
if only I'd leave well alone things would be just fine
it's like an old tune that one, I've heard it many times

The temptation to continually avoid confrontation is huge
but the knowledge that silence makes me complicit in this
drags me almost against my will to suggest discussion
I am met with a hard stare and a trip to the wine rack
a sullen silence ensues as the wine is drunk, one glass
for I am in no mood to dull my senses further, to drown
this has proven to be a false alli in such endeavours

It's pointless having this discussion now the bottle's done
your eyes glaze as you stumble off for more, so I retire
knowing that the new day may bring a change in the tide
may see you on shore wanting to walk in the shallows with me
holding hands, laughing at the spray, enjoying the day
for the tide turns both ways although silence beckons you I know
wrapping you in your inner thoughts far from my knowing.

But I do know that you're emerging, the undertow is less
and whilst you still look wistfully out to sea you stay
more and more days here with me on the shore, warming me
keeping me company, lessening the resentment slowly
rebuilding what we have, reassuring me that you're here
but somehow this seems largely on your terms not mine
a fear of discussion does not seem a sound basis to me.

Timing is so important though don't you find? I do
to avoid things escalating into another towering rage
that leave me feeling frightened and child-like again
not scared in the physical sense although a bit I admit
more this knowledge that things said can't be unsaid
and things heard likewise although I try not to hold these
I try to let go, to give them flight into forgetfulness.

This illness robs us both, though you can't see that
your lack of acknowledgement does not negate the facts
this tide that drags you out to sea is not of my imagining
it is like the dark clouds that come for me sometimes
but I don't deny them, I tell you of their existence
although the telling makes you uncomfortable I need you to know
when the clouds gather I leave unwillingly, but I will return.

I wonder how it would be if I did what you did to me
spent weeks unspeaking, not acknowledging your presence
not washing, rocking, sitting in the dark, drowning nightly
and then daily and nightly, consumption spiralling upwards
and with it withdrawal, an ever increasing distance, coldness
if I did this would you then call it being a little bit down?
I suspect I'd find myself resident at the local funny farm.

And just as I think I've got the hang of this letting go
this shelving of the the resentment caused, there it is
in all it's bitter glory. I hate what this illness does
I hate that it takes you and makes you almost unrecognisable
turns your gentleness into something altogether harsher, harder
as the despair sinks right into the pit of your being
god I'm glad to see you back on shore my love, please stay.

Fun

Shhhh, she might still be sleeping, thump crump fumble, but why?
stage whispering is not a skill learnt at aged three it seems
and neither should it be, freedom of speech being all important
and no more so than when asserting your right to seen and heard
regardless of tender years and we all know this might end in tears
and anyway I can't very well enjoy a visit if I carry on sleeping.

I'm awake I call, for if I rely on my speed to get up they will go
so up comes one of my very favourite small people bearing treasure
a slightly crumpled paper airplane, and it's for me, super duper
it just can't be beat that feeling of receiving a homemade gift
one that's been carried with determination, presented with pride
what can one give in exchange? A cuddle with no hint of a grimace.

And of course admiration as the plane takes flight ... kind of
there is a tendency to spiral and dip, but a fold here and there
a slight straightening up and we're away, luckily it works a treat
and so pride is restored and my young aeronautical engineer is happy
as am I, for a bit of paper plane maintenance is a welcome diversion
to hear laughter, running feet. Three year olds don't walk do they?

And then a spot of tea and cake. Of course this involves soft toys
of which I confess to having a small collection; a rabbit called Fuzzy
a bear called Chomodeley which has a very odd spelling indeed, anyway
there's a small mouse called Harriet, and an orange "thing" called Bug
all these are arrayed for the tea party with plastic plates and cups
and water of course, but only a tiny dribble, floods have been known.

If there is a phrase that three year olds are mostly immune to
it is "be careful" followed by "not now", I try to avoid these two
and almost without fail this leads to mess, floods, splats, smears
but you see I have the supreme luxury of a limited time to endure this
and however shocking, really most mess can be sorted relatively easily
I hide away anything likely to cause stains, I'm not that stupid.

But I'm determined that good times should be allowed whenever possible
with the fewest constraints other than those that safety dictate
for fun is something we've forgotten the value of, busy being adults
and whilst of course we can't play all day every day, we can sometimes
we can shed the shackles of grown-up-ness and rediscover playing
and in doing so we might discover something amazing, we can have fun.

Such a simple word and yet if you pause for a second and ask yourself
when did I last have fun? For too many of us it has been far too long
life is being lived on the run, no time for such simple pleasures
no time for pausing for thought even, well isn't that a bit convenient?
a bit of a get out of jail for free card? I'm too busy leave me alone
how long does a game of tiddlywinks take, do you know? It depends.