Peace, an elusive thing you are, I have known you in fleeting moments At best--- Would that I could see the whitest of doves, Feel the lightest, glancing touch of feathers, Hold the olive branch for a moment— Yet, how can I partake of such a luxury when— When children’s bellies bloat in hunger When those of one religion kill those of another When those of one skin hate and kill those of another When men rape, beat, kill women When children and women are bought and sold When humanity seeks dominance over all the earth At the cost of future generations? Yes, I want to see the white dove with the olive branch fly— To know the world is at peace To know my daughter lives in that peace To know all the children of world will grow knowing only good Then death could take my hand And I would willingly go In peace.
I wrote this several years ago. Posted it and then later took it down. I’ve revised it and worked with it a bit. It’s time to leave this one alone.
A song reminds her of all those years ago—
Upon the screen words of “survivor”
And “not your fault” inked upon the forearms of a chorus—
In a moment,
All the gains of strength and safety cut,
Sliced by a razor as air is choked off,
And she is held up by the throat,
Feet dangling off the ground.
Then slammed into a wall,
The back of her head hitting first.
Fighting blackness, wanting to yield to it for peace,
Fear keeps her from giving in.
When another backhand hits across her mouth.
She reels, turns, struggling to move forward.
If she could just make it to the phone,
To the kitchen, maybe grab a knife.
Her hair grabbed from behind,
Pulls her back, off balance, she falls.
“Get back here, you fucking cunt.”
Her dog barks, bares teeth, growls.
Laughter, “Only have to kick that wiener dog like this—”
She feels ribs crack. She can’t breathe.
“And I’d kill him.”
She finds enough air, tells her dog it’s okay and to go to his bed.
“This ends when I say, bitch.”
Her hair is grabbed, and she is pulled down the hall to her bedroom.
“Now, you’ll give me what you owe me, you fucking cunt.”
She is pulled to her feet, stumbling against the wall,
She wonders what her fever is up to now, after this.
After all, she was sent home by her principal
Because the school nurse said a teacher
With a fever of 102 shouldn’t be around kids.
“Thought you were gonna get to that phone, didn’t you?”—laughter
“Just imagine, the cops showing up for a domestic disturbance at a lesbian’s
Apartment. You know those TV cameras would follow. How’s your job after that?”
Fingers dig into her face, grabbing, gripping, squeezing.
She is thrown across the bed, T-shirt ripping.
Now. Now is the time to fight. She reacts—flailing—use anything,
Nails, elbows, fists, knees—anything to connect, cause pain,
Then open a window to get away.
She feels a fist to her jaw, tastes blood.
A fist to an eye. It’s hard to take a breath. Her side hurts.
A hand at her throat.
“Stop it, cunt.”
Something in the timbre, in the octave, in the venom,
Makes her stop then. This can’t happen. Can’t be. Her thoughts stop.
It all barely registers after that—
Teeth biting, something tearing upon entering, a fist to the face again.
“I said kiss me, you bitch.”
She tastes blood again. She’s rolled over when she doesn’t comply.
“Think you’re better than me, you stupid cunt? I’ll show you.”
She thinks she must have screamed
Because her hair is pulled and used
To shove her face into the mattress.
She doesn’t know if she passed out or not.
Rumbling. A crash. Cursing from the kitchen, then the living room.
It’s best not move yet she thinks. And she doesn’t know if she could.
Then she hears the front door slam shut.
Movement returns to limbs.
Swollen faced and bleary eyed, she struggles to the door.
Lock the dead bolt, chain latch and all.
Hurts to take a breath,
But she must clean,
The apartment and herself.
Erase, erase it all—
All the traces, any trace
Of what happened.
No. It didn’t happen.
It did not happen because it could not.
As she steps into a scalding shower,
Wash away the blood,
The touch. Memory.
The she realizes more soap doesn’t help
The bleeding between her legs stop.
Then she realizes there is bleeding
from her anus too.
She isn’t sure now what to do.
How could she answer
The questions of a doctor
At a hospital ER?
She sinks down in the shower,
Thinking of what she must do.
Call into work, they expect it.
She is, after all, sick with a flu of some sort.
Break the lease,
Find a new apartment,
Movers are required, no time to wait on friends and a U-Haul.
Begin to rebuild, to regain.
Only to wake,
In a new apartment across town,
Hiding with her dog behind clothes in a closet,
And she knows she needs to do something.
She won’t live like this.
She didn’t work to overcome
the damage of an abusive alcoholic parent
to live like this.
Find a therapist and begin
To pick the shards of shattered safety
From the wounds,
Find the strength and begin.
“You’re going to have to admit what happened to yourself.”
Listen to the therapist’s litany for a moment:
Facial bruising and swelling prevent returning to work for nearly two weeks.
Bruised, if not broken, ribs from being kicked.
Bite marks on the neck and breasts.
Vaginal and anal bleeding for over three days.
“What does that list of injuries sound like to you?”
Her words tumble, fractured,
Broken by a truth she thought to scrub away:
…what you’re trying to get me to say…red flags
…addicted to speed or cocaine…so I cut it off…
…showed up at my apartment with soup… since I was sick
…became irate…still said no to seeing each other…
…hyped up on something that night…couldn’t fight her off
…so damn strong…couldn’t fight…another woman, for God’s sake…
…Not the same…
“Was anything that happened that night consensual?”
“That’s the definition of rape, isn’t it? Not consensual.”
In the admission,
The rebuilding, the redesign
Of strength, of safety, of taking back control,
She recalls the words:
All the words she has fought,
Words flung at her by friends and girlfriends who claimed to love her—
–One woman can’t do that to another. Lesbians don’t do that to each other.
–It couldn’t have been as bad as a real rape. It was only a woman. So, get over it.
–You must have done something to make it happen, to push her to that point.
–Women don’t rape.
Yes, so she thought too, even after it happened to her—
At least for a little while,
Until she admitted it was true.
But she learned to stay silent,
Trusting very few with the truth.
Even after all these years,
To have survived, regained control, found safety
And know it wasn’t her fault,
Yet deeper down,
There remains a tiny pebble of shame
Since her community said—
It wasn’t real
Since it wasn’t a man.
It was her fault
Since she refused sex after six weeks of dating
And wouldn’t continue to date her.
It never happened
since lesbians don’t rape.
She stands, watching the video her daughter shares a second time.
She finds herself close to tears at seeing the words “Not Your Fault”
Inked upon an arm. Her daughter wants to know if she thinks
It’s cool. She says it’s great. It’s empowering for those involved.
She quickly turns away.
She can’t tell her heterosexual daughter
That it happened.
If her community couldn’t accept it,
How could her daughter?
A risk she cannot take.
If she moves, twists, walks a certain speed or way,
That tiny pebble of shame bruises a little still,
As if yet rolling around in her shoe.
Perhaps for those in the community her daughter’s age,
Things are different and they hear, if it should happen,
Lesbians do rape.
It was real.
You did nothing wrong.
It is not your fault.
It is her thought.
It is her silent
Reverent, fervent prayer.
I’d nail all the windows in that month shut.
Board the place completely up.
All closed and shuttered,
Leaving it to the dust and rot.
July—the only summer month
The month forced me to abandon you—
How is a starving child forced to leave
A mother who sold herself
So the child could eat?
Thus, I cared for you
Until I had to reach out and close your eyes—
Then I dreamed
I nailed the windows in every room shut
And I boarded up every room.
I took a hammer to that floor to ceiling avocado green tile
Of the kitchen tomb,
Shattering every single inch
Of mirror green shine.
I brought the garden hose in
And hosed down all our scars
Until yours and mine
Then I woke
And buried you
In hot, steamy July
Shuttering you away
Until I thought there’d
Be nothing left of you.
But you are always here.
I pick the good of you
From the rubble,
See little bits of you
In each of your grandchildren.
I see bits of you in my daughter,
And our legacy is not only
One of scars.
When trying to respond to Eugenia’s prompt this week, this poem, which I posted a couple of years ago kept coming into my head, and no matter how I tried, it would not go away. In this reposting, it is my hope that it serves some purpose. Perhaps, someone will gather something from it.
A rabbit stilled,
Motionless, as if frozen
In the summer grass
Only her nose twitched, flared
The scent of wrongness–
A touch upon the air,
And she knew
Only flight carried safety
Flight, the right choice to make—
If she could only still move.
But she could stand only statue still
And standing so, the trap sprung
Steel teeth clamping down,
Slicing through skin,
Chewing through chunks of muscle
As she struggled,
Daring not to scream
As screams would bring the predators.
This she knew too well.
The trap now biting into bone,
Her struggles stopped.
Her panting calmed.
Her head rested upon the grass.
One eye looked to a cloudless sky.
She prayed for strength to chew
Today’s prompt: Write a poem that uses the words “weary”, “nails”, and “mind control”
Weary of the white noise
Spitting out layers
Of itching mind control,
Of mica and gypsum
Rough, itchy flakes
Others carved out for me
To keep me in what they
Saw as my place.
My nails worn down, bloody raw
To relieve the itch from time to time
The itch that speaks the words
I know are not true
But still have the power
Of stone to crush the ribs
Of my soul with the weight
Of their damnable tonnage
That I am not enough of anything
Not smart enough
Not pretty enough
Not thin enough
Not good enough
For anything or anyone
Yes, I know—
None of it is true—
The stone skin
I’ve worn down
Over all these years,
The itch rarely there.
The itch returns—
Until my nails,
Bloody and raw,
Leave me weary.
Still, I now create
My own place.
When colors bled into the world
Through the ice blue topaz of your eyes,
When we both dreamed dreams of kaleidoscope horizons
Blooming in colors too true to be real,
The universe grew beyond our measure
Where recall of dreams came so easily,
Happiness and joy found no reason to arm wrestle
With the stark reality of the world back then
In our younger times—
Before the world shrank
To this extra small size colored
In tones of X-ray grays
Now showing the long-healed breaks and cracks
Of ribs and jaw and clavicle
Yet in this time of a shrinking world and universe
Steeped in all hues of gray
With the amnesia of shrunken head dreams unbreakable,
The filter of your ice topaz eyes—
A small price to pay for wholeness
Of body, bone, and mind.
Accidently linked to Sundaymuse Please go to https://aikalandros.com/2021/08/02/the-vines-of-a-tiny-truth/
Staring deeper into the center of the pool,
The wisdom of a street wise Athena
Forgotten, ignored, stripped away,
She stood readied for the flow of molten metal
To form customized links of chain, binding forever
Spirit and soul into a trophy of destruction.
Thus, she stared even deeper,
Praying for escape,
As molten metal seared her wrists,
Her ankles, her soul,
Chaining her forever to the stone,
Making of her a possession, a trophy of destruction,
Displayed for an ego never sated.
Vanishing in the light of dawn,
Reflection slowly fading away–
Terrified at being lost,
Horrified at never being found
Discovering there was nothing
Left to be gained–
To be had,
Nothing left to want–
Left to desire.
Only time stood in the way
Of the time when a child
knows how to play.
A time so long ago,
Really, if a child ever knew
The luxury of play
Such is the childhood
Of a child who parents the parent–
The deficit of play
So in the return of a reflection,
To fading back into skin,
Gaining a discovery
Of the need, the desire
To play, to become at times,
The child who had never been
Allowed to be.
Sit among the willows,
drifting in ghostly silence,
each wrapped comforted
by misery’s blanket.
Except I am no longer,
listening to words
tumbling into deceit’s
by your thin lips mouthing words
filled with ghost meaning.
bitter in the soul and heart–
I can tell you that.
A thing you would not
ever know, catalyst of misery,
your starring role.
tell-tale signs of age
now crackle through songs of your
sweet, deceitful voice,
makes harder to catch
victims snared in misery
of life trials made.
Stop floating among
the willows, thinking yourself
spells of delicious
deceit, when you’ve aged into
Macbeth’s witch drifting
in the ghostly fog of ego.
Lucidity picks at the chains wrapped round a soul
Anchored to the ground of fears bought whole
In the marketplace while traipsing through dreams
Resplendent with beauty and flights of fanciful imaginings
That harsh noisy words and bruising blows etched,
Tattooed lucid fears.