Absence

they say the pines a’whisper,
a rustling lullaby song,
as the breeze plucks at treetops,
and cool nights grow dark and long

but their sound does not lull, no,
it sings harshly of a ‘bye,
disappearing in shadow,
and cruel whispering of lies

there’s no bogeyman hiding,
in the darkest nooks of night;
it’s absence that’s a’haunting,
hollow howls in the moonlight

-image via Pexels; revision of older poem as part of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads’ prompt, hollow

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Elements

I have been beyond tired, beyond lonely –
simultaneously lonely and never alone,
with an emptiness settling in so deeply,
it was a stone inside of me,
hard and sharp

my past and my fears are the leaden shackles I have always felt a duty to escape;
my rest is formed by my waking life,
and my waking life has too often been formed by feelings of defeat,
sorrows I allow to permeate as I set forth in my duty

but, in the center of my core,
I have always known it is possible to break the old, rusted, fear-forged chains of the past,
to encourage elements to transition from one state into another,
transforming and casting an entirely new life

sadly, chains made of blood and memory are a million times more difficult to sever than those made of steel,
and the past has a tendency to overtake me when I am not paying enough attention,
or, when I pay too much,
and I’ll find myself making the same mistakes as those who’ve come before me,
with the same resentments set to boil

but, I have also been tired, yet content,
simultaneously fulfilled and alone, but never lonely,
hard-won self knowledge settling in so deeply,
silence and gratitude are all I need to feed the gentle stillness in my soul

because those old, rusty chains do eventually break,
even though the breaking is an endlessly tiresome business,
and when I look the fearful past in the face and call it by its name,
it loses its rigidity and strength,
becoming just another corroding element,
flaking away with time

-image via Pexels; shared as part of the dVerse Poet Pub’s prompt, The Art of Confessional in Poetry

Approval

when she started out,
she’d written for no one;
it was pure reflection,
raw, unfiltered parts of her soul,
once-hidden bits of herself,
toilsome connections and modes of understanding,
the stuff everyday life was after but hadn’t dared to admit,
and it became an outpouring,
unable to be dammed

public approval meant absolutely nothing,
until she experienced it –
now, the thought of losing her audience shamed her

what began as an irrepressible outpouring had become defining,
a definition that vanished the moment she accredited it

-image via Pexels

Rind

I am the space beneath the mushroom caps,
tightly tucked into the cool folds of the fanning sponge,
into the spaces where the sun can’t find

like perfectly polished dew drops,
truths lay scattered and exposed all around me,
but somehow, they lie in secret,
ungraspable,
like pollen bouncing on the breeze,
and I desperately stretch for them,
but my fickle fingers keep coming up empty

I wither,
in the absence

I am nothing but a husk,
a shell,
a rind,
something the sun can’t find

-image via Pexels

Take It or Leave It

don’t be angry;
I haven’t become someone else
in front of your eyes

the problem is,
you don’t want this to be me –
you have always had some idea of me
that doesn’t exist,
some set of expectations I can’t possibly
live up to

you have constructed some ideal based
on something inside you,
and you have seen what you have
wanted to see –
you have refused to see my truth

but it’s been so very exhausting,
and not very fair to have to pretend
all the time

you don’t know me,
but I’ve been right here,
all along

here I am –
take it or leave it

-image via Pinterest, original source unknown

Irrelevant

am I irrelevant?

I suppose asking that question
is like pissing in the wind,
when the answer is likely
to be twisted,
pointed back in my direction,
the wall of defense too thick,
when I’m left feeling peripheral,
in focus only when my voice is loud,
the squeaky wheel getting the grease,
a game of manipulation,
one I’m no longer willing to play,
when my thinking of you and hoping you’ll do the same becomes inconsequential,
exteraneous,
irrelevant

ash, blowing in the wind

-image via Pinterest, original source unknown

Moonlight

she was both chaos and calm,
a mellow, platinum-burning flame,
all possibility,
and I was lost in the haunting
lullaby of each sultry flicker

she was larger than life;
she wore her soul on the outside,
a silvery wraith glimmering in the lonely night,
and I was the sea,
drawn to her in heaving swells and sighs

she was all mine, I thought,
but try as I might to hold onto her,
she was pure effulgence,
and I became the shadowed parenthesis

she wasn’t earthly;
she was made of moonlight –

and she was meant to be set free

-image via Pinterest, source on image

Unknown

img_5057

Sitting on the well-worn, blue speckled carpet, she laughed at her friend, Anna, who’d just said something off the wall, as usual. Laughing wasn’t at all uncommon for her, she laughed all the time, but for some reason this laugh had left her feeling this recurring empty feeling, a sudden jerk into reality, as if the laugh was fake and didn’t quite belong. It occurred to her that maybe it wasn’t emptiness she was feeling, exactly. Then it hit her like an unexpected tidal wave, throwing her instantly off-balance.

She felt alone.

Holding her smile so no one could tell what she was thinking, her eyes scanned the room from face to face. Scattered about the room were the six young women who knew her better than anyone ever had. Yet, that made her sad, all of the sudden.

If she were to describe them to anyone, she’d tell them they were her best friends, her sisters. She’d do anything for them, that’s just the way she was made, even if any one of them might not do the same for her.

When she’d met them all four years ago, it was like a whole world had opened to her. She’d had best friends before, but living independently with and amongst these young women provided opportunities to see them every day, any hour of the day, in happy times and bad times, and all the in between. For the first time in her life, she had a place to belong.

She was likeable, compassionate, and loveable. It was just her personality to mean what she said, and to say what she meant; people could count on it, and often did. She was dependable, passionate, and caring. She was open and accepting of others, even when people around her were not. Standing for what she believed in wasn’t something that was negotiable. It just was. Caring about people and having a genuine interest in getting to know them wasn’t an act. It just was.

Some were drawn to her for those reasons. Yet, those qualities also scared many people. Most, actually. She shared of herself, but not everyone did the same, or with the same depth.

Some didn’t want to receive that offering. Often, it was too much. She was too much, at least that’s how it felt.

Over time, she learned that many people wished to keep her at arm’s length. They wanted the benefits that came with being her friend, but didn’t always wish to reciprocate. Some would only take. And take.

The thing was – she never pushed people away. Especially the ones sitting in this room, even if it felt like they didn’t always reciprocate.

Not only could she not risk causing people to feel abandoned or rejected…..she needed them. That was twisted and made no sense, and she knew it.

But, they were all she had.

Except, as she scanned the room, looking at each and every one of her ‘best’ friends, she felt so alone. It wasn’t the first time this feeling had hit her, but this time it was like an anvil on her chest. It was hard to breathe. In the pit of her belly, there was an aloneness that squeezed and knotted the muscles, rising like bile, choking her.

She knew these women. She had spent the last four years listening, even to all the things they didn’t say, helping, even when they hadn’t asked, and giving them everything she had to give.

She loved them.

But, in that moment, she knew they couldn’t possibly love her, not in the same way. They didn’t really know her; they hadn’t allowed that to happen.

And you have to be known to be truly loved.

-image found on Tumblr, original source unknown; older piece given a facelift