Posts Tagged ‘fear’

copyright Gay Harper
It seems that,
with every death,
I lose a part of me.

There’s very little left,
now,
of who I used to be and

this person
I’m becoming
isn’t able to see

the person
who I was then or
treasured memories.

Locked in this head
are places to which
I no longer have the key

My identity
must have drained out
with the last bag of my IV.

A hollow shell;
mask on tight,
I still resemble me.

The me
I used to know.
The me
I used to be.

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Cringing white,
terrified,
I anticipate
the swift slap
of ink & metal

just before
the key
strikes,

crushing into
my thin, blank chest

a mark
that will be here
forever.

You don’t want to hear
the truth
so you kill the messenger.
Block out anything
unpleasant to your ears.

Does it work for you,
this way of not dealing with
your fear?

Growing piles of dead friends
littering your past,
your present, your future.

You can’t see them;
eyes closed tight as
you swing the blade.

Red rains down in
clotting gore

stains you and
everyone near you
painful crimson-black.

There are other ways
to cope with loss,
instead of ruthless slaughter.

Hate
yourself.
Hate everyone.

Truth won’t stop for you.

Like cold wind,
it will find you.

No matter where you hide.
No matter who you kill.

My sister says she misses you.
I wish I could agree.

I don’t miss you.
I hardly knew you –
at least any “you” I liked or respected.

To me, you were The Bogeyman;
origin of my self-loathing.
I’m relieved that you are gone,
happy that you’re dead.

Not because
I hate you, though, and
I thank God for that.

All those nights, alone with you –
You could have been my victim too,
a bitter role-reversal.
But I made a different choice.

I rubbed your back, held your hand,
changed your bedding, clothes and diapers.
I loved you when you were helpless,
because you couldn’t love me when I was.

When you died,
I was happy that you’d escaped the pain,
free from that worn-out body.

I too, was freed:
released from a lifetime
of hate and fear;
your whipping post, no longer.

We went our separate ways,
finally at peace.
Who could ask for more?

Then why do I feel so envious
that my sister had something to miss?

That darker dawn is coming.
The light of remembered lies;
lies I was told, lies I told
to protect my innocence.

It’s gone anyway,
shattered in a hundred
different ways.

I hide in the shadowed warmth
of the old bathtub,
shower curtain half drawn
to keep out the light,
the eyes.

The lavender curtain
turns skin to bruised petals,
soft and wet,
as if from spring rain.

The faucet drips constantly,
accompanying pain.

Nothing will wash this away.

Creature born,
fully grown;
not like a foal
on shaky legs:

invincible warrior,
claws honed
for tearing
truth
from the flesh
of unreason.

Innocent
need not fear
this spawn,
which grew,
undetected,
for years;

crawled at night
from my belly:

a force intent
on saving me.

From myself
when necessary.

It germinated
in the lush jungle
of secrets;

grew stronger
every day
until
it pulled itself
from me,
fully-formed.

Stroked
my face
with claws
like obsidian blades,

whispered
“We are one
in purpose.
I will be
your savior.”

And I believed.

Like a wire
in my head,
slowly twisting
tight.

Like a shove
between my shoulder-blades,
as I try to flee the night.

Like a faucet dripping
in the hollow of my chest;
restless echo, tapping
in between my breasts.

Like a bright red
sneaker,
at a black-tie affair;

like a balloon caught
on an updraft
of cold air.

Always where
I shouldn’t be;
never where I should.

I’d live life
like I’m supposed to
if I thought I could.

 

 

© Coin and Feather Press

Is it possible
to become
human,
after all this time
as a beast?

Learn to walk
upright,
speak
with crooked tongue.

Can I forgive
and forget,
move on
with my life;

learn
to stand tall
in ill-fitting shoes,
wearing the garb
of a traitor?

Or am I condemned
to run
barefoot
through grass so tall
it hides
what I really am;

makes me look
almost real?

Stand casual,
alert,
beside humans
sleepwalking.
Compare myself
to them.

I am full.
They are hollow.

We are different
species.

Photo credit, Brian Snelson

Eyes,
two.
I have them:
blue –

or grey
depending on
the day.

Grey hair
at my temples,
blends so well
with blonde,
few can tell
how old I am.

Two lips too,
do what lips do.
When they’re
not uncertain.

Other pieces,
fairly standard:
just one nose,
two arms and legs.
Things line up
correctly.
From an outsider’s
perspective.

Inside’s where things
get tricky.
There are more people
in here
than there should be,
and that’s not counting
me.

Who am I?
I’m one of many.
All sharing the same
crooked smile.

Same lips
have other
voices,
and these ears
hear singular things.

We all share
this body.
But we have different
friends;
unique habits,
age and gender.

Figure that out,
if you can,
and if you do,
tell me.

The whole thing
has me puzzled.

With so many
we’s in me,
I’m not even sure
who’s confused
anymore.

Is it only me?

The color
of grape Kool-Aid;
purple with swirling blue.

Umbilical cord tight
around his neck,
he strangled
with every contraction.

Heart rate dropped
so perilously low,
a pediatrician was called
to be on hand…
Just-In-Case.

Pushing then swoosh
there he was,
my blue baby.

They removed
the cord from his neck,
and handed him to his father.
I stroked his face;
the same color as my nail polish.

Suction of fluid from lungs
then oxygen followed
until he grew pinker,
more human.
Still, a bloody little thing
always held by someone else.

I felt no sense of attachment.
Just crushing weight of responsibility;
knowing he was mine
completely,
at for least 18 years.

I didn’t want to get too close,
terrified by my year-old nephew’s
repeated clinical deaths.
I spent the night awake,
trying to devise ways
to make a break for it –
despite the pain.

Morning came
I was still there,
unable to figure out
how to flee into the darkness;
leave him to his father,
my mother…anyone
but me.

Then,
around the corner;
a clear acrylic bin.
I looked in –
my fatal error.
I never looked back again.

He was mine.
My child.
The one I’d waited for.
I loved his little turtle face,
strange mewling sounds,
his smell.

Through the years,
there were problems.
Bad lungs kept me afraid
that I’d lose
the only thing that mattered.

A sweet child,
beautiful, charming.
He always had that gift.

Then pre-teen,
cocky, sullen
but sometimes mine
again, at night.
I would read to him
or sing
and he would forget
that he was not a mama’s boy;
nestle into the crook of my arm.

Teenage years
spent learning how
to kill with his bare hands:
martial arts
obsessed.

Now he’s an adult.
I look back
on years
that went too fast.

All the changes
all the chances
I had to make a difference.
I messed up
most of them.

He has no need,
now, for a mother.
He wants me far away.
He’s just a cold stranger
but I love him, anyway.

If you were to ask me
what he wanted
where he lived,
or how he felt,
I could give you general answers,
gleaned from other sources.

My own son
is as alien to me
as any stranger on the street.

Looking at his baby books,
I pause at this page,
and that. Remember favorite pastimes.
They’re all past time, now.

All I have is memory
of the son I brought to earth.
Cherished as well as I was able
then let go, at his request.

People say
he loves me.
But I know it isn’t true.
He wants me to disappear
as much as I want to.

Embarrassed
by me; my scars,
my insanity;
by that fact that I exist

I am embarrassed too,
for loving him as much as I do
when I’m simply a source
of shame for him,
my former Little Boy Blue.