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.  http://dversepoets.com/2016/02/16/poetics-room-with-or-without-a-view/

A Master’s Heartbeat

View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint Remy

View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint Remy

His vantage point from the small window was enough that he could see several different buildings and the expanse of the wheat fields growing beyond. But there were days when he just stared unseeing out the window too ill to really even enjoy the view.  His distinguished, yet haunted blue eyes were sunken into his thinning face.  He didn’t have much of an appetite during his stay in the asylum and most days he ate only bread and soup.

Though painting was a calming past time, there were days that he wasn’t allowed to paint because of his compulsion to drink his turpentine and paints which would then add to the complications of his epilepsy and mental state. In spite of that, he managed to produce many paintings, and some of his most famous, during his stay at Saint-Paul.

When well enough he could wander the gardens, grounds and halls of the property and often these sites would find their way into his art. A long corridor echoed his depression with its cold, vacant, gray benches and darkened shadows cast throughout.

expressionless eyes
pleading, hollow, impassive
a master’s heartbeat

I used a senryu here rather than the traditional haiku.

This is Haibun Monday #3 over at dVerse Poets and Bjorn shares a painting by van Gogh to inspire us:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/02/haibun-monday-3/

The Caller

The gray, damp and cold
sky echoes my mood.
Listless and brooding,
I feel the lack of warmth
and interest even within my breath.
I emerge when engaged
with others but when left
to myself, I sink into the age-
old feelings, expected this
time of year, but not welcomed.

She’s as old as me,
this caller that creeps
inside and makes herself
at home on these dark,
shortened days.
Images of despair and
malady enfold and grip,
totally enveloping.

It is said that every seven
years our bodies are
restored and refreshed
with cells anew, but
mine seem to clutch
determinedly, to stay affixed,
and remain the same.

Submitting this for Poets United:  Poetry Pantry # 229:  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2014/11/poetry-pantry-229.html?showComment=1417408212129#c9186417070635870356

Shadow Self

Oh had I been born without
this contrast that settles
deeply about my head
and shoulders.  The same
leadenness that weights
my feet with each step.
I see there is light, for
it glows brightly at times…
for periods here and there.
My heart feels it and gives
a tiny leap of recognition.
Yes, the soul lifts and
begins a whirling of its
energy and a surge of
joy emerges from the dark,
lighting my path.

But would I have become
who I am if not for
the experience of darkness?
Knowing what I know
of the shadow self?
I think not.
Even though…I’m left with a
lingering malaise of
the memories of the pain
inflicted, dealt with,
held onto, lived through and
died through, by lifetimes built.
A blunted gloom lurks just below
the surface…just right there,
waiting for any opening to
show itself and disperse
that light…as if a candle
flame being extinguished,
without warning.

Karin Gustafson hosts today at dVerse Poets and asks us to reflect on “bright shadows” however that may show up for you:  http://dversepoets.com/2013/02/02/the-poetics-of-groundhog-day-bright-shadow/

Midnight Tolls

Midnight tolls and those awake are grieving
Loss, lament, the dark, make all seem sharper
Shadow-outlined sorrow feels believing
Thought-inflicted loops become a carper
Diminished hope has shriveled with the gloom
Alone, denied another’s caring soul
Deep gray blots out the shining of the moon
Out to the depths, wading beyond the shoals
Wee hours slowly pace an endless sentence
Of cheer removed from hearts congealed with pain
And allocate themselves to life’s repentance
Belittled by illusion’s veiling bane

At last deep sleep gives nodding rest a chance
And dreams prevail that lift that veil to dance


I entered this poem in The River Muse’s Winter Writing Challenge 2013 that was inspired by a sonnet written by Luke Prater.  Kelly Letky was chosen the winner.  Your entry did not have to be in a sonnet form but I did use it as a base for mine.

I’m publishing it for the first time for dVerse Poets Open Link Night # 81:  http://dversepoets.com/2013/01/29/openlinknight-week-81/  Claudia hosts tonight.


Moldering now
as my soul
goes dark,
no light shines
here, all is
empty and stark.
No frivolous fun
(or smile)
brightens my face,
feelings of joy
have seeped
down a crevasse.

Utter despair
has taken
its toll, ravaged
me bleak and
slashed my
whole.  Fear
and quaking
fill my days
as no hope
arrives to ease
this aching.

Abject loneliness
has wrung me
and spent
no one seeks.
Entirely devoid
of sweetness
and care, no
one sees this
walking nightmare.

Photo:  Google Images

dVerse Poetics:  Nightmare Verse http://dversepoets.com/2012/03/31/poetics-nightmare-verse/#comments

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 day..so 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:  http://dversepoets.com/2012/03/01/translucent-poetics-writing-spoken-word/

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