A poor solution

Have you ever
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
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


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


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


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