≡ Menu

Girl and Snake

Untitled

Through branch thick, fighting
over thorned fences, climbing
into icy waters, stepping

This, her storied ever-memory

Then smoke seen rising
then brambles clearing
then green grass stretching

‘Round a leafless corpse’s last stand
yellow, trimmed white and four cornered
roof-capped where chimney’s grey tail floats

A window
A door
A chair-perched porch

Feet dew licked, grassblood stained
approaching wary, unbelieving
a mismatched staircase greets her

Numbered short, a flight of three
decayed, grey paint curl-flakes
above, the well-kept porch beckons

They will betray me…yet there’s only three.

Beneath wormwood step, first of three
her wild-weight offered carefully
its rot confesses with hollow groans

Don’t stand still on lies.

Woodmoan rattles memory’s chains
whispers what always comes next
she steps quickly to second of three

Don’t run, child. Be brave.

Handrail falls, snapping in her hand
second cracks underfoot, arms reel
third then, before second swallows

NO!…is this another carrot trap?

The treachery openly plain on three
Splintertoothed voids, broken board maws
and through the gaps something lurks

Her footfall careful turns stutter-step scream
a serpent winds out of the secret dark, peeking
up through the falsework, eyes squintless

“Easy, I’m not what I seem,” the snake offers.

“A lesson men taught by devouring my flesh,”
she counters.

A slow hiss-sad recognition escapes his length
his glossy sunbathed blackness turns iridescent
as he stretches long, emerging fully

“But men they weren’t…just hiding their truth.
Beneath suit and skin, lay fur and fang, yes?”

“True, but what of you then,” she asks, frozen.

Blue-black and legless he crawls
creeps he up past three, to porchtop
his darkness curls, pauses

“I once was a boy, I think,” he ponders.
“Before I was force fed the shadows of long-dead rats.”

Three’s crossbeam shatters, a gunshot
she tips backward, cries out, fights balance
as fire blooms from her eyes, she lunges

Arms and legs splay as she lands hard
face first, sliding across the solid porchtop
greets a scaly vision too closely

Her’s tigerflecked, his a blank milky-blind
locked stares as time stood, waiting
his restless forktongue first to set time moving

“Do it. Strike me. It was your plan,”
she surrenders bitterly.

“It certainly was not. I feared you lost.
I have not arms to catch nor eyes to see.”

The snake yawns wide, an offering of human teeth
her terror deer-feral shifts to flee
the abominable horror worse than fangs expected

“What are you?” She barks, bolting upright.

“A lie, I think.”

“I know lies. Wolves never reveal themselves
until they dine. Deceit is their lie.
But your vileness is obvious…
a lie you tell yourself?” She reasons.

“Yes. I think so.”

Warmth remembered of a sun forgotten
presses skin and scale, almost painful
this place sharp with peace, a biting oddity

“What is this?” She wonders warily.

“A warmth was what beckoned me out the chilled dark.
This is all I know. What do you see?”
Her question answered by
eyes lidless and smoke-filled.

Old companions, her long skirt floats above bare feet
to gentle curtain-framed glass, she peers
her face softens from its harrowed lines

“A rug loom-wove bears a pillowed couch,
a stone hearth cradles flame
through a window I see.
A door wooden with brass knob the entry.
A table chair stands with us on a porch.”

“A home? Knock, would you?”

Door greets with an unowned welcome,
delicate fingers curl as hand raises, knocks gently
shawl falls from arm’s catch,
unveiled skin a tale of struggle’s scars

The door answers with silence. “Try the knob,”
the handless serpent coaxes.

“To try feels wrong even as the door whispers to open it.
I shouldn’t.”

“You tell yourself lies too. Try.”

Heart begs as old voices sing favorite refrains
Hesitant fingers wrap warm sunsparked brass, twist
unyielding answer blows a familiar cold soulward

“It’s locked, and the door without keyhole.”
She says in a sigh laced with tears
as she collapses in the lone chair.
“I don’t want to go back to the woods.”

“Nor I to the shadows and cold.
This is enough, for now I guess.”

“I guess,” she echoes in agreement.

Of their fate resigned,
shared silence the evidence
stilled even is the shadowed wood
past pasture’s green borders
its ever-gnawing presence muted,
unknown whether in wait or respect

Snake uncoils, tongue sensing where she rests.
“I have an uncomfortable request,”
his voice hinting a tremble as he slithers to her feet.
“Would you be brave enough to hold me in your lap?
Cold’s callous indifference
my memory’s only known companion.”

Bending down her hands scoop
with unhesitant surprise
pulls him to her lap,
her touch reading more of his story
scalebare scars wander down his shape,
skin under scaleskin fleshy

“A molting of sorts I hope,” he confesses.
“My vision lost, as it began.”

“Yes, I think you are shedding your lie.
Forced to wander by loss, like me.”

“Yes.”

“Will you stay here with me,
however long we are allowed?”
The words fighting to be spoken
as she braces for pain’s reply.

Without a word Snake slides from her lap,
gently wraps his length around her waist
and swallows his tail.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
{ 0 comments }

Trauma

We live our days within a culture of trauma. Its destructive nature wounds deeply, leaving us to struggle generation to generation.

Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Castrated
Debauched
Disinherited
Because of this
Fooled by this
Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
Made violent
Made inhuman
By this

-Charles Bukowski, Dinosauria, We

This is his way. He must paint himself with words.

Too much lifetime has passed. He’s 46 and he’s tired. He’s been struggling for the majority of his life, a life that has incessantly felt like scaling a wall that he can almost but never climb over.

He finds himself thinking he’s a touch mad most of the time. Contradiction defines his wounds, and he spends much of his time walking flat land like a tightrope.

He’s analyzed his childhood and choices in adulthood over and over, pieced together why he’s struggled with depression and intimacy. He has clarity. He thought that would mean he would be able to transcend these obstacles, move on with his life and grow. But he continues to flounder and that has left him intensely frustrated and sad.

He wonders, why do I still feel stuck, chained to my past?

He wonders, why do I still feel stuck, chained to my past?

He thinks he might have found out why.

◊♦◊

He turned around to face his mother
To show her the wound in his breast 
That burned like a brand
But the sword that cut him open
Was the sword in his mother’s hand

-Sting, The Lazarus Heart

He was raised by a woman. She adored him and he she. But she failed him at a critically vulnerable moment that would leave the deepest wound in his heart. Her volatile nature forced him to navigate around her emotional extremes: at once angelically nurturing and giving and then viciously critical and mean. Love and betrayal would now be inexorably wed, warping his ability to experience love with women. While she held him high, she was stained with resentment by wounds inflicted on her by men and it would undermine his vision of his gender. And in this, a war against intimacy and self was seeded in his heart.

I will never be safe
I will never be sane
I will always be weird inside
I will always be lame
Now I’m a grown man
With a child of my own
And I swear, I’ll never let her know
All the pain I have known

-Everclear, Father of Mine

He was abandoned by his father. He was molested by an older boy, having his innocence stolen. Men were manipulators or brute authority. Men didn’t protect or inspire, they didn’t teach or lead. Men didn’t love. Men were competition. Men were predators.

Rejected from birth and with no solid guide into manhood, he would doubt himself and his place in the world. He’d have to be his own guide, one angry and untrusting of his kind. And in this, the war against himself bloomed. This would lead him down dark paths, ones he barely survived.

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday

And to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me

Hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

-Tears for Fears, Mad World

He grew up in a family that he never felt was completely his own. He felt abandoned, lost in new dynamics when his mother married a man, a stranger suddenly holding the title of father. And their marriage would be chaotic, abusive in word and thought, a minefield he’d have to traverse daily, a rollercoaster he had no choice but ride. When his mother would fall apart, he’d pick up her pieces, be the good son, a child supporting an adult that he could never completely appease.

And so he hid his heart away, dared not expose it even though it ached to be held. In love he’d choose safety, never risking a chance to have what his heart truly desired. He’d rather betray himself than allow another to hurt him again.

Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?
Babe, there’s something lonesome about you
Something so wholesome about you
Get closer to me

-Hozier, From Eden

It tore away protective layers of himself and exposed emotional framework he’d tucked in a blind spot of his mind.

Now he’s sweeping up the ashes of a romantic relationship where he finally found the courage to offer his heart in a vulnerable way. It’s left him reeling, deeply hurt and coping with emotions he’s protected himself from feeling since childhood. Its season was short but intensely passionate, like a violent thunderstorm. It tore away protective layers of himself and exposed emotional framework he’d tucked in a blind spot of his mind.

Ah, those chains. They are still there, he thinks.

He fears that his script is etched in stone, that he’s stuck on some track that will just present the same situation again. And in desperation to avoid another painful head-on collision with all his past trauma, he’ll just let his heart grow cold, accept solitude or choose relationships that aren’t intimate in order to cope.

But he knows. He knows there’s no use hiding anymore, not if he wants to sever the chains of trauma that hold him fast to the past, not unless he wants to repeat the same painful dance, not if he wants to love and be loved.

He knows that he’s learned something vital in the midst of his heart’s devastation.

◊♦◊

So here I am.

As much as I’ve wanted to let it all go, my thoughts keep returning to our relationship. There’s this nagging feeling that there’s something important to note, that I found a key to a door I didn’t know existed.

That key is the suspicion that I may suffer from PTSD. And if not that, it’s clear that my mother did and that I’ve grown up in the shadow of her undiagnosed illness.

It wasn’t until I found myself in a relationship where I stopped avoiding intimacy that these sleeping issues began to reveal themselves in a new light.

I have never considered that I may suffer from PTSD, not until now. I’ve always focused on my struggles with depression and attributed it as the cause of the majority of my pain. But I’ve spent most of my life successfully choosing paths that kept me from confronting and moving past my traumatic childhood. It wasn’t until I found myself in a relationship where I stopped avoiding intimacy that these sleeping issues began to reveal themselves in a new light.

During my study of PTSD online I found Heidi Hanson’s blog about her journey of recovery. Unlike other resources online, I found her’s more accessible and engaging because it’s from the survivor’s perspective. She wrote a three-part post about PTSD and relationships and I started to find connections to my past and how they had revealed themselves in the stormy relationship.

I saw old blog posts of mine in a new light. The expression of my thoughts, the words and descriptions used, the traumatic events and my struggles…a pattern that mirrored the symptoms a person suffering from PTSD experiences began to emerge.

And then Heidi sent me a link to this podcast and I was blown away by the similarities of my story and the host, Daniel Vitalis. The story he shares is authentic and vulnerable. I am not affiliated to him or his guest on the podcast, but whether you are a man or a woman, I urge you to listen to it if any of my story relates to you. I think you will find what you hear valuable.

In following articles I will share my story in greater detail and I invite you to join me.

Click this link to continue to part two.

This article was first published on The Good Men Project
Photo credit: Porsche Brosseau/Flickr
{ 0 comments }

Instinct

 

4388943906_c12f6f1366_z

We’re wounded, warped, snarled
Good intent but tragic in deed
We bleed
Searching for a place to heal
Let’s lay in silence
Beyond culture’s violence

Don’t confess your sins, don’t lay blame
Don’t tell me about the men outside your door
Or the sobbing you’ve done curled on the floor
No because or whys
Save your breath to sound in my ear
Head on your chest, soothing my fear

Don’t say I’m yours, don’t tell me you’re mine
Don’t ask me to stay, don’t tell me to go
Nothing I need or want to know
Say nothing
No truth, no lie
No hello, no goodbye

No words
Wrap me in your arms, tangle me in your legs
Show me with fingertips as my skin begs
Tell me with lips and the beating of your heart
Let the rise and fall of your chest
Put me to rest

No more shattering at each other’s feet
Just hold me close
Share with me
The part that’s beyond scheme
The part deeper than word’s weak seam
The part gently primal and pure

Photo Credit: Sarah Reid/Flickr
{ 2 comments }

Oh, Stacy

12009556_10153567860269590_566802925473830376_n

No one sees you here
Roots are all covered
There’s such a length to go
And how much can you show?
Day is gone
On a landslide a-reeling
I’ve seen your lamplight burning low

-Beck, Waking Light

My friend, Stacy Campbell, chose death over life on September 16th, 2015.

A bottle of self-medicating wine stands before me as I sit in the darkness on the deck in the backyard. I’m looking at the city lights in the distance, watching them twinkle and crawl up the far hillside as I write. These hot tears running down my face are irrational, I tell myself. You didn’t really know her, I think shamefully. Your grief is unearned.

I didn’t know Stacy but I did know Stacy. I only knew her as a writer in the electronic ether, not as flesh and blood. I found her bleeding words back in 2010 as I was starting my journey as a writer. She wrote about childhood sexual abuse. She wrote about loneliness and difficulties with relationships. She wrote about walking the edge between life and death.

These are things I know too well. We had shared trauma and I felt an immediate bond to her. I saw her darkness, knew the wounds that birthed her demons. Pain is the root of our art. We will beautifully haunting flowers to grow from our wounds, transmuting destruction into creation.

A friendship began. We even worked together briefly, I writing and editing for her online creation Indie Ink.

My grief says as much about my struggles as it does Stacy’s exit.

After I received the news of her death, I frantically dug through our sparse email correspondence, her words now precious beyond value. I found an email I had sent her after reading a particularly bloody blog post of hers. It inspired me to write about my sexual abuse. Here’s how it began:

Hi Stacy,

I read your latest post and I’m stunned once again. It makes me wonder what you don’t write about. If you do hold some things back, I’m afraid to know what they might be. What you do share is violently revealing, emotionally traumatizing truth.

Those of us who wear the deepest scars of trauma are both deeply empathetic and painfully feral. It makes relationships difficult, especially when love is the foundation. We can be accepting to a fault and also emotionally distant. We are compassionate healers and we will bite a feeding hand when our demons are roused.

We feel misunderstood and harshly judged. We feel unworthy. We feel abandoned. We don’t want to be hurt anymore. We’ve endured so much. We struggle.

Our sensitivity is hard to tame so we build lives that pad our hearts. Physical and emotional isolation is safe ground even though it hurts. Intimacy is a terrifyingly vulnerable place for us and loneliness haunts us as a result. We betray ourselves for the sake of comfort. We are prone to self medicating habits and self harm. We are brutally hard on ourselves, the resulting depression a coat we wear in all seasons.

We fight defining ourselves by our weaknesses.

We notice the silent lonely, the unsaid pain painted on a stranger’s face. We are champions of the downtrodden. We often wield vorpal wit. Funny is our balm. We smile easy, our laughs contagious. Compliments fall easily from our lips and we’d rather hug than shake hands. These are acts of rebellion, ways for us to fight the waxing and waning tide inside that pulls at us like an undertow.

Stacy was all these things. She loved the best she could. I wish I’d known her better, that I’d pressed to keep contact when she withdrew. I wish I could have helped her through the dark.

She just wanted to love and be loved. Just like every soul on this planet.

I say these things because for the living that cared for and loved her, now is a time of shock, confusion and pain. How can this happen? Why didn’t we see this coming? Stacy is lost. We let her fall. Guilt presses hard on our hearts. We should have done more, said more, loved more, judged less. We should have had tougher skins when she lashed out or pushed away.

I know, it’s complicated. We all struggle. We all have our dark moments of the soul. For people with deep trauma the chasm yawns wide at times and they can be swallowed unexpectedly. I don’t know if there is anything that can be done to completely ensure that doesn’t happen.

But we can try.

It’s hard. There’s so much to unlearn and rebuild. But we have to or we are doomed as a species.

We swim within a global culture of cyclical trauma and none are exempt from its injurious ways. It feeds upon itself, grows exponentially. Humanity bows in suffering while bearing its weight.

I’m so tired, aren’t you? Let’s dump our cancerous burden for a new story. Please. Stacy deserved better.

We all deserve better.

“Sent via series of pipes and tubes. Your mom’s. Yeah, I said it.” -Stacy Campbell

Post originally published on The Good Men Project.
Photo Credit: Stacy Campbell
{ 6 comments }

Devoured

flameflower

I desire
Fire
Red-yellow licks
Lips and fingertips

Lust’s matchstick
Flicked
My tinder
Turned cinder

To hellfire’s teeth
Myself bequeathed

Burn
To burn
The sweetest thing

Photo Credit: Public Domain
{ 0 comments }

To Be True

5051098743_0b504da883_z

I’ve struggled
Fought myself
Wondering
Whether to say it or leave it
To swallow or sing
Yet to be true
I’m willing to disappoint you
Scare you
Lose you
My ear hoping, aching for
I love you

I’ve always believed
Better to say it all
Better to say
All the rights and all the wrongs
Cross fear’s line
Spill my darkness
Uncloak my secrets
Parade my demons
Not viciously deny
But own them
Rob their crowns
Topple their thrones

Then maybe you’ll understand
Let fall held doubt
Dismiss reasoning’s shield
Lower anger’s bitter sword
Choose kindness and mercy
Sew difference’s chasm
Pull me closer
But not into your shadow

I’ll do the same for you
Over and over and over
Just let me see you
All of you
Because then I’ll trust you
And we’ll be free of fear’s chains
And our demon’s refrains
And I will say
I love you
I love you
I love you

And it will be true

Photo Credit: Chris/Flickr
{ 0 comments }

The Curse of Man

512px-Cain_Henri_Vidal_Tuileries

A heart empty
How can it be heavy
So heavy that I can’t sit up from bed’s sleep
So heavy ribs weep
So heavy every beat
So heavy

Oh no, here comes more
The tears, the deep howl
Grief’s guttural retching
Loss’s artery unstemmed, cut
Absence pulsing out in liters
Waves across rejection’s sterile floor

Curse history’s men
May they rot from the inside out
Violating and ravaging
Pillaging the beautiful and tender
Turning me bitter and untrusting
Making me to grow thorns, too painful to love

I want to breathe free
Choked by the scars men left
Stained with the blood of their conquests
Crippled by their song
Their sword chained to my hand
My constant struggle to disband

Why must I suffer the consequence of their sins?
Fight the ghosts of their violence?
I’m weary
I’m weary
No more swords and guns
No more wounded sons
No more

I want to love and be loved

Photo Credit: Public Domain
{ 0 comments }

The Push-Pull Heart

2402329882_1b016144fe_z

The door
It spins, spins
In they come, out they go
An un-stemmed flow
Too kind, too harsh?
Taker or Giver?
Either, or
The door is still ours

Trading day for night
Lonely moonlight
Waiting for dawn’s meadowlark
Among denizens of the dark
Thief, Wolf, Vampire
Any, all allowed
Into the fold
Across the threshold

Pieces of craved emotion
Scavenged remains
A patchwork quilt sewn
Of skin and stone
A habit, a routine
It betrays
Shackles needs to pain
Suffering the only gain

Welcomer, Banisher
So beats
The push-pull heart
Things are good until they’re not
Reasons the same
A tidal pulse:
Make them stay
Keep them at bay

Close, closer, too close
Run and hide
A shelter, a retreat
From love’s steady beat
Check in
Check out
Absent’s violence
Wrapped in silence

Reasons for
Bowing to reasons not
The magic, the beauty lost
Counting the imagined cost
What becomes of the bird of desire
When a yearned need perches the heart?
Of which more is born
Balm or thorn?

Photo credit: Flickr/Dan4th Nicholas
{ 0 comments }

Static

static

I bleed darkness
Anti-inspiration
I’m not the escapist comfort that you seek
I’m your closeted nightmares, the static you can’t tune out
I’m not your spirit guide, your yoga partner
I’m your denied doubt

Fuck your namaste.

I’m not your manicured nails, your whitened teeth
Fuck your gated communities, your shopping malls
Your right angle dogma is geometric mortality

Fuck your huge plastic tits
Fuck your skinny lattes
Your deadwood ego-spawned reality
Your factory-ized life cycles

Fuck you and your soul-sick ways.

All I have is now and you steal it, turn it into a stillborn corpse
My days wasted building my tomb
Waking from your lullaby
Every fucking day

How dare I dissent
How dare I challenge
How dare I see the murder in your shiny din
How dare I bleed on your Mop and Glow floor

Fuck your blindness, your righteous god-book duvets.

The insanity normalized, packaged, marketed
To the children, the new cogs
Birth-to-death song
Deafeningly whispered in their ears

{ 1 comment }

Old Dogs Know

512px-Expression_of_the_Emotions_Figure_6

Head in my hands, I ask
“Do you know weary?”

The kind deeper than muscle, deeper than bone
A weight upon the invisible unfathomable inside
What exists before and after and outside
The bounds of flesh and time

I confess with certainty
“I’m so worn.”

Like a travel-torn salmon
His will spilt to the last drop
Fighting water’s flow and stone’s maw
Scale and fin sacrificed
To instinct’s tortuous flaw

I howl in grief
“My heart is dry.”

My hand reaching for yours, grasping
The retreating blade of love’s sword
Blood running, dripping from my fingertips

These words ache to say
These words cry in pain
My bones begging to lie down again

I’m so weary
A tired only old dogs know
Loyal and true until their days are through
Whether or not it mattered to you

Photo credit: Mr. Riviere [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
{ 0 comments }