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

Rise

in this life,
there is a rising that isn’t always from death,
a flight that doesn’t always end in breaking

if we pay attention,
brilliant beams pass through us like water,
and, if we’re still enough,
we experience every imaginable light

and every now and then,
a current sweeps through us,
carrying with it our broken hearts to grieve,
as they should

then, a raging river lifts us,
floating us over the low gray hills,
up, up,
elsewhere,
to find the place where the light,
even if dimmed, never diminishes

for, we are more than breath,
alone,
more than the thickness of the air that surrounds us,
more than the rupturing into molecule and atom;
we are not fractions,
we are our own lowest common denominators,
we are primes

we experience every imaginable light,
including its absence,
and as a whole,
we rise

in this life,
there is a rising that isn’t always from death,
a flight that doesn’t always end in breaking;
there is a light that can only be known from darkness,
a journey that brings us home

-image via Pexels; shared as part of dVerse Poet Pub’s Open Link Night

Don’t See Me


opportunity doesn’t knock, it slithers,
it wriggles and burrows with its chattering teeth,
until it tunnels down, down, down,
clawing and eating away at my insides –
and I feed it

I nourish it with eyes that see,
but pretend not to,
with haunting excuses hovering in wait,
gathering to lock fingers and create a wall no human could possibly scale
alone

they hide my most precious secret

knees to chest,
arms wrapped tightly around,
and eyes unable to meet yours –

don’t see me

I am not what you think
(I am not what I wish I was)

-image via Pinterest

Reality

the funeral goes by in a slow waltz of shiny cars,
perfectly pressed black suits,
and choreographed tears,
and I think to myself –
is it all bitter, in the end?

because, in my experience,
that’s the way smoke always speaks as it rises,
the way others’ eyes painfully prophesize,
the way the mirror constantly fogs

history has planted seeds of pain so deep,
so bitter it taints everything I savor,
but the painful truth is –
my story is stale;
I can’t let go of it,
because if I did,
I wouldn’t be a victim anymore

who would I be, then,
without the luxury of living in the past,
without the invisibility of living in my head,
without the decaying wall that so carefully keeps it all in?

I have always wanted to do something that matters,
something important,
something that leaves a precious piece of myself behind,
but I constantly deceive myself –
in order to do that,
I have to do the dirty work

but I sometimes pretend to do the work,
when, in reality,
I’m making shiny the excuses I’ve disguised as dirty work;
I’m a foggy mirror,
a faulty cog,
an enabler

tired is just an excuse;
I’m afraid,
I have always been afraid

I’m afraid I’ll never be able to stand on stage alone,
baring my fucking soul,
taking the risk of not knowing if I’ll be applauded or booed,
and the crazy thing is –
I think I’m most afraid of being applauded

the funeral goes by in a slow waltz of shiny cars,
perfectly pressed black suits,
and choreographed tears

mine among them

-image via Pexels

Longing

I long for a deep and dreamless sleep,
a certain sleep,
for relief from the excruciating pain of living a life that is less than I always imagined,
less than I hoped it would be

I long for a quiet and peaceful sitting,
an undaunted sitting,
for solace from the thunderous reel that’s been stuck on repeat for as long as I can remember,
for as long as I have allowed it to play

it’s true,
I mostly prefer aloneness,
but it eats me alive to know what an increasingly isolated life I’ve been living,
a tiny, dark triangular world of gambling, shopping, and reading,
three points to which I traverse,
one after the other,
trying my best to outrun the thunder and the pain –
it’s no wonder I’m always so tired

but what I long for most of all,
is rest,
for the ability to finally stop trying to fill the seemingly infinite void,
rest from trying to make life smaller

-image via Pixabay; poem inspired by my mother

Undoing

silence settles in like cold settles into my bones,
words, once fertile and blooming,
now become itchy, phantom limbs,
a nagging taunt,
contemptuous, even

you see,
I went so long without ripples,
and a stone had finally been dropped into the water,
every circle fanning out to move my destiny along the course of some inevitable, magical destination,
but now the moon seems to have halted the tide,
and my eyes have become an unyielding blackness,
tinting the world

that blackness had, for so long after the ripples,
become a reminder of how the night always comes before the glory of morn,
a time when the world is a beautiful mystery

but now it only reminds me that shadows are all I have,
and the crazy thing is –
maybe I’m ok with that,
maybe I always knew

I always knew that love would be my undoing

-image via Tumblr, origin unknown

Hollow

img_1374

in the daylight it is camouflaged,
so well masked it is almost an illusion,
a disconsolate hologram diffracting light,
mirroring smiles, avoiding eyes

but at night, it strikes,
an unrelenting ghost attaching itself,
impossible to shake as it closes its wicked hand over hers in predatory ownership,
whispering a solitary word in her ear:
mine

and it eats her alive,
so that she is no skin,
only sharp, brittle little bones,
so hollow the wind makes a song of them

-image via Pixabay