The Visitation

Photo Bing Images; Thick Fog

Photo Bing Images; Thick Fog

Darkness envelops
as if a deep fog has
settled in a valley,
taking my light
draining my mood.
Anxiety rushes in
to make things
a little more
How long this time
will the Shadow lurk
and hold me fast
with her gripping claws?

De is our host at dVerse Poet’s Pub for our Monday Quadrille prompt.  Head on over there for all the details!

Dark Beast

Pervasive thoughts
swing me from peace
and calm off the
abyss into the depths
of fear and panic
where my heart
in my ears
my muscles
and my
clutch each other
in a vain attempt
to console
but tension
does not
bring about
I must
s l o w l y
and, if need be,
sequester myself
away from well-meaning
people who are NEVER
able to restore my calm
by their good-intentioned
words of rational beseeching.
What I fear the most is this dark beast that creeps up on me without warning.

Mish is our host at dVerse Poets and asks us to write on “What are you afraid of?”

A Room for Two

The room first held only two small boys
when those curtains were first hung.
It was the late forties and the pattern
reflected a somewhat modern take
of the times. They were still
there when as a tiny girl I
lost myself in daydreams
by the shapes and colors.

Oh the stories they could tell as
the room became crowded with
four more children–we sisters.
And before we got too big,
we were doubled up in beds,
sharing our too-tight space with
a sibling literally in our face.

As we grew older and had
more need for space, privacy
and autonomy, our dissatisfaction
grew also.

Summer nights brought
sweat and heightened emotions
as one small fan tried
valiantly to disperse the
anguish pent up in that room.

Bickering would escalate into
shouts and attacks. We were
cramped and forced into
togetherness that added its toll
to our lack of comfort.
We lashed out with fierceness.
We didn’t have the words to
express our grief and distress
but we did have our anger.

No one was exempt from
being pounded. Well,
except for maybe the baby.
Her quiet demeanor and
sweet innocence somehow
protected her from a lot
of the verbal and physical
abuse that we liberally
heaped upon each other.

The six of us “shared” that
one tiny room until we grew,
literally, too big to fit in it.
We overflowed out to the
couch which had a trundle
beneath so two of us could
sleep with a semblance of
having at least our own bed.
And out to the raggedy rattan
sofa on the enclosed porch with
the lumpy cushions that
gave me backaches as a teen.
I wanted no part of it.
I railed against the
injustice of my circumstances.

Living in those close quarters
was an agony that whittled
at my self-worth.
I knew my friends didn’t
live like I did.
They had rooms to themselves
or maybe shared with just
one other.
Their homes were quiet,
orderly places without
the noise…and drunk
parent laying passed out
on the living room floor.
I retreated until depression
and anxiety rendered
me mute and unable to
see a place where I belonged.

I remain a hyper-sensitive
person. Perhaps I’m better
able to sense when someone
else is hurting and can offer
some solace. And though I’ve
come a long way in my
understanding, even for those
who brought me suffering,
that small child can still emerge
and fall silent, not knowing
where her place is in the world.

Mary Kling hosts us at dVerse for Poetics where our topic is “Rooms.”  Please join us.

Day Cries Gray

Tied in knots, fear grips unyielding,
Hazed future shut down my singing.
Profusion of tears leaves me peeved,
The day cries gray, my heart does grieve.

Stunned anxiety maintains me fixed,
Movement forward seems now transfixed.
Instead of light, my world’s bereaved,
The day cries gray, my heart does grieve.

All is pale, neutral, muted, dark,
My vision heavy, listless, stark.
Where is salvation? I am cleaved!
The day cries gray, my heart does grieve.


I tried another kyrielle today for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets hosted by Abhra.  Join us!

Teetering on the Edge (of sleep)

Tossing and turning,
turning and tossing.
I refuse to look
at the clock with its
bright dial, plain
as day in the night.
But the hour is late
and it hounds me,
bothering and heaping
upon me all sorts
of layers of woe.
My mind worries
and thinks, makes
up stories that trip
me up and makes
my mind worry…
and mulls over
nothing pleasant.
I feel like a motorized,
hopped-up, agitated
version of a woman
who should be asleep.
It makes no sense.
I have a subtle but
palpable, physical
humming to my body.
Adrenaline seeps
in quick bursts,
with every heart
beat, into my
No sleep, no sleep,
no sleep, no sleep,
no sleep, no sleep.
Peeking out from
under my sleep mask,
I make out the outline
of the dresser and
the batik of some
obscure Thai goddess
that hangs on the wall.
A shot of moonbeam
illuminates the room.
It’s not dark at all.
Even the night is
awake and restless.
I will not get up.
I breathe deep,
in…and out…
calming breaths
will tame that
monkey mind.
Soon I feel it
giving up and
letting go.
I recognize that
sense I feel right
before I drift off.
At last it’s here,
and before I know
it, a dream is taking form.

Bill Webb is our host for Meeting the Bar over at dVerse Poets with a nod to Rilke:

It’s Time

Image from Bing Images

Panic gripped and I hid away;
I turned tail and ran and tried to keep it at bay.
But it’s useless I know, it’s happened before,
the cycle continues and the pain I deplore.
I know I am judged as weakness overcomes,
the shame that envelopes me, dark and tiresome.
My stuttering excuses fall on deaf ears,
they’ve been said many times, when the beast has appeared.
A lifetime has evolved into a habitual disgrace,
and a pushing against instead of embrace.
It’s a painful admission to put this out here,
but it could help someone else who may disappear.

Come, I say, beckoning to myself, let me hold you in love;
you have much that is worthy and are a sensitive dove.
This reality was created by a small, frightened child,
let go and relax, live a life that’s more mild.
You know it’s your thoughts that have brought this about,
and your worst judge is you, of that there’s no doubt.
So turn them around, make it a practice
create a bright world, and let go of the blackness.

Mary is our hostess today at dVerse Poets after our 3rd year anniversary celebrations. She is inviting us to write something on the subject of time or clocks and use either word in our creation. Thank you, Mary! Join us here:

Accepting What Is

We muse and reflect,
this sister and I
and kick around
the hows and
whys of what
we’ve become. 

He was a boozer,
a selfish, narcissistic
disconnected man…
and when children are
raised with an uninterested,
absentee parent, they
become fearful and burdened
with insecurities.  We never
knew what we were coming
home to each often
caught off balance.  Both
of them were miserable
and hadn’t the skills,
care, nor effort required
for parenting all of us,
each with needs and wants
unique from the other.

I felt alone.
I felt afraid.
I felt shame. 

I feel so sorry
for the frightened,
worried child
that you were.

They didn’t see us.
They were oblivious
to the pain they were
creating and then
heaped with more and
more layers of stress and
years ahead of therapy,
struggles, tears.

Chaos…children don’t do
well in chaotic conditions
and when they feel
they aren’t valued
they become
worried…depressed, incensed.

Anger grips and won’t
let go..bubbling up at inopportune
times…when the situation doesn’t
merit the outrage expressed.
We’re pissed, we’re fucking
pissed that both of them
chose to think of themselves
before us.  Now we’re left with
the anxiety, depression…
the accepting of what is.

dVerse Poets offers Translucent Poetics–Writing the Spoken Word presented by Ami Mattison:

Vigilant–A Haibun

It’s subtle but I immediately sense the telltale tightening throughout my body.  It quickly moves to hyper vigilance.  I look down at my hands and find them clutched together as if seeking sanctuary with the other from the impending increase in tension.  My heart rate quickens…there’s slight dizziness, nausea–which only serves to ratchet up the anxiety.  There’s never a turning back from this…it has to run its course, reach its peak and take me unwilling on an alarming provocation of harrowing fear and panic.

I search my mind; what was the trigger?  My thoughts are the culprit.  Circumstances from long ago, surge through my mind, almost obsessively at times, repeating in my physiology the fear that was produced…then.  The ensuing adrenaline rush propels the panic even further until every muscle is rigid and my shallow breathing works to feed my total disconsolate state.

stress burdens my soul
bleakness seals all directions
anxiety rules

I prefer to be alone and in quiet surroundings if too overwhelmed.  Being around people, even my loved ones, provides no comfort.  I must focus and not be distracted by superfluous words that are presented–with good intentions–but fail to soothe or calm. 

As a child and alone in the middle of the night when this “terror” would strike, I would yawn and shiver.  If it struck in the dead of winter, I wanted to run outside, to feel the snap of the cold that would bring on the shaking relief that would eventually dissipate the wayward energy.  Exhausted, I could then fall asleep.  I would turn to the Bible, the only spiritual book I knew at the time, and seek comfort from words that spoke of something…someone outside myself who promised peace…if I believed.

Heavenly Father
your daughter is suffering
have mercy on me

Open Link Night at dVerse Poets:

Social Anxiety


“Image by roeyahram via Flickr”

Anxiety floods over me;
I can’t do this.
Society insists that I must join in.

I prefer not; I don’t know you,
banal chit-chat puts me
under duress.

Heart starts a-thumping,
adrenaline’s at full power,
sweat springs forth,
while my mouth turns to cotton.

You’ll scoff at my inability
to speak glib small talk.
And my uncomfortable
demeanor just makes
you back up.

Your eye of judgment
passes over me
while the one that
I own, does the
same thing back. 

I’m shy.
I’m sensitive.
I don’t know who you are
and rather than try and
find out you’re a nice person,
I’d rather stay home with myself.

My entry for Write2Day–Writing from the Dark Place:

Mom’s Emergency

It began with a phone call between 12:30 and 1PM Sunday afternoon.  It was my mother.  Her voice had that familiar tension in it when she’s feeling anxious.  “Gayle, something’s happening to me.  When I woke up this morning, I felt very groggy, like I was drugged and I lost my balance when standing up and I fell onto my bed.   Now my left arm feels “floppy” like I have no control over it.”  She said she had been this way since waking up at around 9AM!

Immediately alarmed, with adrenalin pumping, I thought to myself, she’s having a stroke or heart attack!  I told her to call 911 and then take some aspirin.  She argued with me about taking the aspirin because she thought it had contributed to recent nosebleeds that she had been having.   She said, “I’ll think about it.”  “Fine”, I said, “but call for an ambulance immediately!”  Why I didn’t think to call for her, I don’t know.  She always called me first, almost as if to get permission to call for help.

Several minutes passed and I thought I’d better call and check on her.  After several rings of the phone, she answered and I asked if she had called for the ambulance yet, “no”, she answered, “they always come so quickly and I wanted to fix my hair and makeup before they get here.”  What?!  I didn’t argue.  I told her if she was having a stroke or heart attack that time was of the essence and the sooner she was treated the better the likelihood of a full recovery.  She promised she would call right away.

I then called one of my sisters.  I had to talk to someone to help release this all too familiar panic that was rising up in me.

It had been almost exactly one year ago that she had had major abdominal surgery, having to spend over a month away from home while recuperating, first in the hospital, then a rehab center and then back to the hospital again to treat complications.  One of my brothers and my youngest sister came to stay with her for several weeks as she recuperated and slowly gained back her strength.  And prior to this, she had had numerous trips to the ER and subsequent admissions to the hospital over the past year, while they tried to figure out what was causing her severe intestinal pain.  With each phone call I received, panic would arise and the distressing matter of sitting with her in the ER, while the hospital doctors would order test after test trying to decipher what was wrong with her.

My father had passed away several years previous.  He had suffered from congestive heart failure with multiple heart attacks and had had a bypass surgery.  I had gone through this same routine with him for years.  Although, he never called 911, he always had my mother drive him to the emergency room.  One time when she had gone to church, he realized he was having a “problem”.  Instead of calling for immediate help, he took a shower, got himself all fresh and dressed and then when Mom came through the door he announced that he needed to go to the hospital.  So Mom always took him but I would subsequently receive a phone call saying that Wade was in the hospital again with another heart “issue”.

I was always expected to go to the hospital and sit with Mom for the endless tests and waiting that ensues when you are the loved one of a patient in the hospital.

For years I was able to go into the emergency room and hospital–although it did stress me out–and be the dutiful daughter and sit vigil with my mother during Dad’s numerous stays and then with Mom when she started having her health problems.  But the last couple of times that my mother had to go into the hospital and the ER in particular, I would start to have severe panic attacks.  I could not go.  The panic became overwhelming and I needed to take medication to help control it.  But I could no longer bring myself to go into the emergency room.  Something had snapped in me.  I was in overload mode.

The guilt was awful, but I candidly explained to my mother about my debilitating fear and that I simply couldn’t come.  She always said not to worry and that she was fine.  My sister who lives nearby would go instead if she was available.  But once Mom was in a room of her own, I could more easily manage being there.  Apparently, the emergency room energy became a trigger of extreme stress for me.

So when this most recent call came, I started feeling the same familiar feeling of fear sweep over me.  So I gave a call to that sister and told her what was happening with Mom and spent a few minutes on the phone discussing my feelings of panic.  I made up my mind, after speaking with her, that I was going to go (our other local sister was out of town) and try my best.  So I started getting myself ready.

In the meantime, sister number one had called sister number two (there are four of us girls and two older brothers) and told her what was happening with our mother and that I was again struggling with my panic.  Sister number two calls me up and starts berating me to “get over it” and “to hell with your panic attacks”; you’d better get to the hospital right now!  Mom could die.  How will you feel if Mom dies alone in there?  Well, this did not sit very well with my already escalating feelings of dread.  I yelled back at her and told her I had said those very same things to myself that she was now saying to me, and wouldn’t it be great if I could just snap my fingers and “get over it”!  I also told her I had made up my mind to go anyway and see what happened.  “Good”, she barked, before hanging up, “get over there”!

I was able to go and sit with Mom in the emergency room (with some help of my trusty medication).  Doctors discovered that she was having a bad reaction to a new medication that she had recently been put on for her back pain.  Also, quite upon accident, they had found that she was suffering from a virulent staph infection in her urinary tract of which she had no knowledge.  They said if she had not come in when she did, that it could have had deadly results!  She spent several days there being treated with a heavy-duty antibiotic for that infection.  Interesting how that played out.

My “barking” sister called me several times over the next few days to say how sorry she was for judging me so harshly.  She realized that I have been there for Mom and Dad both through all the years of their declining health and that I deserved everyone’s support.  I told her that I knew it was her own fear of losing our mother and feelings of helplessness that had gotten the best of her.  I told her those were her feelings to contend with and they don’t have anything to do with what I do or don’t do with our mother.

I have my own thoughts and feelings to deal with.





The cat without a name

Image via Wikipedia

I have a reoccurring nightmare where I am frantically trying to lock the kitchen door at the house where I grew up, while an unknown, sinister presence is fast approaching.  I fumble with the latch, opening and closing the door, and I am beside myself that I just can’t get it to lock!  My heart is pounding with fear as I realize the presence is drawing closer and closer through the outside darkness.  This dream has been haunting me for decades.  This is how it began:

It was the summer of my seventeenth year when it started–we were being “peeped”!  We were a household of four, cute sisters, as well as an attractive mother which, I’m sure, added to the appeal of being targeted.

One of my sisters had a couple of friends visiting one evening and they were all in the bedroom yakking and giggling when my sister spied a man’s face peering in at them through the open window.  Screams ensued, the man ran off and we tried to forget it.

But some weeks later, while I was reading in my parents’ bedroom one night (they were not home); I heard footsteps slowly approaching the window.  A brother and his friend were out in the living room, so I went to them and whispered urgently that someone was prowling around outside!  They stealthily crept out the front door and around the side of the house and surprised a guy that they then chased across the neighbor’s backyard and tackled to the ground.  He was dressed only in bra and panties!  After my brother threatened him with “stay away from our house or else”, he sent him packing and he never showed up again.

But it was the next incident that scared us the worst.  After falling asleep one night on our enclosed porch with one of our Siamese cats snuggled in next to me, I was awakened abruptly to find my cat leaning over my head, peering intently through the darkened window, growling quietly under his breath.  I froze with fear when I heard the now-too-familiar sound of foot falls, and then, with my heart pounding in my ears, heard the door knob being jiggled back and forth inches from my head!  Someone was trying to get in!  (Thank God the door was locked.  It was rare that our doors were ever locked in those days).  After a few suspenseful minutes where I couldn’t bring myself to move, the bathroom light suddenly came on.  I leapt out of bed and ran to the bathroom where my mother had gotten up to go–and breathlessly told her what had happened.  That same moment, one of my sisters came home and I anxiously recounted what had just occurred.  It was there, where we were gathered talking, that we noticed the outline of large, dirty shoe prints on the living room carpet!  We tracked them through the dining room and on into the kitchen to find the kitchen door wide open to the outside!  He had actually come into the house within feet of where I had just been laying!

This episode began a series of events that started with someone providing my brother with a shotgun for our protection!  Our father was mostly an absentee one so my brother took matters into his own hands.

One evening he decided to lie in wait in the dark shadows of the backyard and see if our intruder would show up.  His ammunition was rock salt so it really wouldn’t do much bodily harm if he did manage to hit him.  Well, lo and behold, after a short wait, here came our guy!  My brother took careful aim from his hiding place in the shrubs and fired–hitting the backdoor!  The guy took flight with my brother in hot pursuit.  They ran down the street and around the corner where my brother again took aim and this time hit his target square in the buttocks!  At this point, our intruder really became frantic and sought sanctuary with one of our close neighbors, screaming that there was a madman after him trying to kill him!  When my brother caught up to them and set the story straight, the neighbor and he detained the guy until the police arrived.  This man turned out to be a different prowler than the previous underwear clad “peeper”.  I don’t remember if he was ever identified as the one who had earlier entered our home.

We had no further incidents after that and no charges were filed against my brother.

But the nightmare remains for me.

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