Thursday, June 23, 2016

Gaslight

Heart pounding,
I want to shout out
NO!

and tell you you’re wrong,
that’s not how it is,
that’s not how it was,
that’s not how it went.

That’s not how this goes, and
you’re making things up. I should know—
I was there. But now you mention it…

Maybe you have a point. Maybe I should
‘interrogate my behaviour’
to see if
‘I was unreasonable’.
Should I?

Maybe I should
‘question my memory’
to see if
‘I missed something’.
Should I?

Maybe I should
ask you what happened—you remember better than I.
You always do.
Why?

Maybe you see through me,
through to my core, understand
my motivation better than I.
YES!
That’s it—

thank goodness I had you here to remind me
who I am and why I love you, though you
also remind me I ‘don’t even do that properly’, but—

thank goodness you forgive me

these failings and all my faults, though you
tell me over and over, as if I’d forget myself
if you didn’t remind me. But then—

where was I? Ah,
yes.
How lucky I am
to have been chosen by you,
when you could have your pick,

whereas I can only
drink my fill from the proffered cup,
bask briefly in your glow, and burn.

I’ll enjoy it while it’s still my turn,

or so everyone will see,
while I swallow down
the rising panic
each homecoming brings.

Act cool, be calm,
show no fear.
Pretend I’m glad to see you.
Pretend I want to be here.

But I do…
I know I do.

You told me so.


About this piece

If the situation described in Gaslight is completely unfamiliar to you, then you have been blessed! If you've never heard of gaslighting, here's an introduction, some often-unnoticed signs that are more to do with how the victim feels than anything a witness would see, and another solid overview of the subject. Gaslighting doesn't only happen in intimate personal relationships; it also seems common in workplaces. First published on Medium.com.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dichotomy

I wake with a whimper,
I wake and I reach for you
in the darkness.

You stir.

I hold still.
I hold you close.
I hold my breath
in the darkness.

You settle.

I breathe.

I love you; I want
only
to be free with you forever. I want
only
to be free forever. I want
only
to be with you forever.

I settle
for a time, aware:
time moves on;
I hold still.

I hold your darkness.
I hold you
still.


About this piece

I started writing this poem about waking up from a nightmare and reaching out to the man I love. But it equally well described waking up to a nightmare where the man I loved abused my trust. These two relationships could not have been more dichotomous; yet, from the outside, they presented exactly the same. First published in ~POETRY AFTER DARK~ on Medium.com.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ode to the other man, owed to the woman

I.

You see her in ways I never can,
woman in all her perfection —
daylight and sun smiles, innocent
children playing in the summer blooms.
You know her open spaces,
deliver her heart’s desire —
You know her in ways I never can.

II.

You see her in ways I never will,
woman in all her perfection —
moonlight and rose lips, insatiable
adults lying low in candle-lit rooms.
You know her secret places,
the way to light her fire —
You know her in ways I never will.

III.

I see you in ways they never did,
woman in all your perfection —
candlelight and midnight eyes, inspiring
old souls dancing in dying wombs.
I know your many faces,
the truth you speak as liar —
I know you in ways they never did.



About this piece

This piece is about the way a woman's lover and husband resent each other, but it's also about the way women are boxed into the stereotypical roles of mother and whore. It's about how others claim to know us better than we know ourselves, and how that silences us. First published in ~POETRY AFTER DARK~ on Medium.com, where I also posted a longer analysis.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Beneath

See that pile over there?
The one with the magazines,
the sweater, and
last month’s wish list?

Not far down that pile,
just beneath the magazines,
the sweater, and
last month’s wish list,
you’ll find a book.

It’s not a long book.
It’s not even a good book. It’s just
something I threw together, probably
something I should’ve thrown out
but I didn’t.

It’s a book of words—
aren’t they all?

It’s a book of words for you,
a book that should never be read.
Leave those words to lie,
just beneath the vocalised.
Leave them to lie unsaid.


About this piece

This is another piece prompted by Robert Lee Brewer's Poem-a-Day Challenge of November 2012: a 'just beneath…' poem. As you might imagine, the poem contains elements of memoir—it's not unusual for me to pile up dissimilar items on the coffee table or chest of drawers.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Expectations

So urgently you give love,
so earnestly you show love, and in return
you ask so little: only that I accept
your love.

You do not ask how best to love me.
You do not ask if I want your love at all.
It goes without saying that I want your love—
of course I want your love!

It goes without saying that you get no answer—
you seek no answer.
You need no answer.
Of course, you do not ask.

You are committed to me.
You are committed to your love
and your love bears down
hard upon me

and friendship
and hope
are crushed
by the weight of love's expectations,

when love should expect nothing at all.


About this piece

I was—and still am—angry over the misguided belief that love must be not only accepted but also reciprocated, that if you fight for someone long enough they will realise they love you, too. It's not true. It's offensive. It's destructive. It's abusive.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Beauty

If I chance to lie
then here is why: the beauty
overwhelms my eye.


About this piece

It's prompted by the photo, which I took on my phone when travelling through Victoria on my first holiday with my partner. I'm easily distracted and careless with the words I voice, which is why I prefer to write. First published on Medium.com.

Friday, June 10, 2016

She was the poet

She was the poet.
She did not know who else to be;
she could not be any other.

For her words were rhythmic, pulsing with life
so strong that, even when she wrote prose,
she wrote poetry. And when she read aloud
those words were song, infused with life
so strong that, even in her death,
she was the poet.


About this piece

This is why I write—one day, I want to become the poet.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Christmas lights

At first, you were
Christmas lights. You shone
brightly in the distance, tempting,
luring me closer, promising
happiness, excitement,
joy you failed to deliver.

In reflection, you were
red and blue. You shone
brightly in my rearview mirror, blinding,
chasing me down:
you pulled me over,
took away my freedom.

Now, you are
darkness. You seep
through my being, paralysing,
smothering from within, poisoning
my spirit;

long gone, still you darken my days,
haunt my dreams.



About this piece

In December last year, I took a photo of the Brisbane River with the lights from the Story Bridge playing on the water. It reminded me of police lights, and that prompted this poem. First published on Medium.com.

Review: Saved by the Celebutante, by Kirsty McManus

If you’re looking for deep and meaningful feminist literature to inspire your daily thinking and change the world, you’re in the wrong spot. I wanted a light, face-paced romantic comedy with zany and lovable characters, and Kirsty McManus delivered: I wasn’t disappointed.

Saved by the Celebutante starts with a big shock for both the reader and our protagonist, Chrissie. Her whole life is suddenly A-over-T and we follow her closely on her journey to set it right again. Picking up a celebutante as a client looks like just the break she needs, but with so many distractions in her life, she’s not really in a position to capitalise on it.

Chrissie’s antics are as charming and frustrating as a kid sister, so I alternated between wanting to hug her and wanting to throttle her. And occasionally wanting to laugh and point. When she eventually figures out where her loyalties should lie, we follow her on a road trip to a festival in the desert—a very eye-opening experience for both Chrissie and me!

(Excuse me while I culturally stereotype here, based on another Australian chick-lit author, Donna Joy Usher.) I think the author’s Australianism comes through in tiny demonstrations of self-deprecating humour that are far more refreshing and engaging than the self-indulgent drama I’m used to seeing in the genre. Don’t get me wrong—there’s plenty of that too, but it’s balanced out nicely by the chuckles.

I got to the end of this book wanting more—a sequel, or maybe a spinoff featuring Gia. Or something with Oli. Oh, yes. That one. Please?

Saved by the Celebutante book cover

I read an advance review copy of this book and provided feedback to the author but received no payment for my feedback or review.

Compass

You left me
right where you found me
on my way down,
searching for a way out.

You crept in,
lured me closer;
you sent me away.

You summoned me once more,
turning things over until
I lost all sense of direction, spinning out of control,
slipping under.

I looked behind me;
I didn’t know my way back. But
you led me there.

You left me there,
right where you found me.



About this piece

I only began this poem recently, but it came from another of Robert Lee Brewer's Poem-a-Day Challenges. This one was from the November 2012 Chapbook challenge, and Day 6 was a two-for-Tuesday challenge: a left poem and/or a right poem.

On leaving…

Better to leave you
Than to stay and attack you
Where you are weakest.




About this piece

I wrote this piece in response to Haiku #5 by Felicity G. First published on Medium.com.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Poison

No words could wound me, no strike
bruise me and no knife
bleed me the way your eyes do

when they fix
upon Her.
The mere mention of her name

transports you to a place I can’t reach you.
Eyes glaze over; you are dead to me.
Nothing left, I promise myself

I’ll let you go. I promise you
I’ll let you go. I promise the world
I’ll go on, go away and next week

I’ll be back, begging.
Her name is poison and you feed it to me
and I slurp it greedily knowing

death is mercy. From within it eats at me,
growing large in small ways,
growing large in empty yet cramped spaces.




About this piece

It's not uncommon for romances and friendships to wax and wane until they naturally come to an end. Yet some people choose to hold on and torture themselves. This is my attempt to understand why. First published on Medium.com.