Category Archives: poetry

When you Wish

You were a dream I had once, long ago

When I was young and hopeful and free

of the pain of my past, a new beginning unfolding

And you, the binding of that past to present, to the future

A tiny ball nestled on my chest, breathing baby breaths

I conjured you until you were real,

Pinocchio after all the wishing was done, after

the whale and the sacrifice and a fairy’s magicked compassion

Blond hair and blue eyes, where did you come from

in my swarthy sea of Italians? You always said you were

Viking, a long-ago raider marauding along the coast,

leaving behind the blood that would tumble through time,

through DNA strands and couplings and transatlantic voyages

to show up in my arms, held to my breast, a bundle of baby boy  breathing sweet breaths.

You are a dream again. Now.

Images. Conjurings. Memories true and sometimes blurring

around kinder edges that spare me

sustain me, always skewer me straight through. Sometimes

the pain is exquisite, and sometimes

it’s just pain that I gather in around me because it proves you were real

not some fading wish once made upon stars already gone to dust

as if you were never quiet here to begin with.

~TLD

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Triggers

Please note: I wrote this last week when D-day was still looming and freaking me out a little. I scheduled it for today, because this is where it belongs, but it doesn’t reflect my state of being. Rather than a quivering, keening, irrational mess, I find the peace I came home from France with still on me. It’s a bit intense, but…I’m okay. There are always tears. Every day. But this peace…it’s like he’s got his big arms wrapped around me. Pain can’t get past him. Whimsical, maybe, but…anyway. ❤ 

There is no avoiding triggers, because

I don’t know what they are

until they’re pulled

And the bullet flies

And the blood spills in trickles

or rushes

a waterfall from my body,

my brain tossing  memories:

chemical spatters on the wall where he once blew himself up

conducting experiments in the basement,

thrilled beyond words,

tamed–the crowding thoughts.

The roof he built

The tools he bought

The songs he sang

The love he gave

The sorrow and the sorrow and the sorrow he never meant to cause,

that added to the thoughts ever churning

a frenzy of joy and despair and back again.

A trigger is pulled, and down I go

Getting back up again is rote

Like breathing, like laughing, like remembering.

It’s been a year. It’s been a year. It’s been a god-damned bloody year.

The first of forever. And here I stand.

Braced against the next trigger pulled.

Willing to take that bullet.

Because, by now, I can.

~TLD

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Psychosomatic

I think my heart is broken

It hurts me all the time

It stutters when it should thump

Crackles like safety glass

My right knee is numb

along the right side down

from owl to beanstalk inked in black

And green, and yellow.

Is it possible to have psychosomatic symptoms

if you’re aware of them?

**

I sat in my Comet (Mercury Caliente, 1965. Sublime)

for hours, for days listening to a’ha

Take on me

He surprised me with the cassette tape only

days before his death. I wore out two copies

but only kept the one.

I always cry when I hear it.

Pavlovian response, or grief?

***

I’m several days without crying

And can’t figure out why. Days at the beach

Love, and love and love.

A raven whispering messages, and

quorking on the deck.

Superheroes viewed from recliners,

in the dark. Dinner out. Sangria. Cake.

Happiness is as strong as grief.

****

I see a picture. Tears come

buckets. A whole sea of them

My heart is broken.

My knee is numb.

I am happy, still, sometimes, in any event.

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Preserved

Sorry. WordPress bugged out on me. First it reformatted things, and then it put up this post three days ago. Yeah, you read that right–it published as three days ago. WTF? No clue. I don’t like overwhelming those who read my blog, especially with sad poetry. Egads, that’s annoying. But it went up and some people saw it, commented. In my attempt to fix things, I might have lost those comments. If you did and don’t see it here, I hope you’ll leave it again. In the end, it was just too frustrating to fix completely so I let it stay up. Peace.

**

The hook’s gone up her nose, her brain

pulled out, an incision cut

organs removed and left

to dry in the desert sun.

Lungs and intestines, stomach and liver

In limestone jars watched over

by Hapy, Qebehsenuef,

Duamutef and Imsety.

Her heart goes back into her body

The piece of it that’s his alone

Her body is washed with wine and spices

covered in salt, a curing ham.

She’s stuffed like a taxidermy fox

Sand giving back her shape but

harder than it was,

As it has to be now.

She’s wrapped carefully in linen, preserved

Placed in a box and stored away. Waiting

for the rest of her still alive and loving.

Still happy to be a wife, a mother, a grandmother.

A daughter, a sister, an aunt.

A writer, a friend.

Knowing she’s dead doesn’t make her less alive

It’s only that piece of her

He took with him when he left.

Preserved and waiting in the dark.

~TLD
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Might want to take a pass on this one

It happened as gently as it could

He fell asleep, and just didn’t wake up again

No traumatic exit 

No pain, just release from this world he didn’t understand,

that didn’t understand him.

I found him in the morning,

long after those final breaths

Not in the dead of night

When the family and friends who gathered around us

Never could have done so.

We had a full night’s sleep,

and a full day to process what we could before

everyone left us, in this house far too quiet.

*

He was gone before life could spiral out of control again

When he left, everyone still loved him

He was our sweet, brilliant, lovable Christofer

Roostafee, gladiator, protector, goofball.

It was hard to love the person he became

when the demons gnawed their way out from that place he tethered them.

When the thoughts and thoughts and thoughts just wouldn’t shut the fuck up.

When turning off completely was the only way to get some relief.

(He blamed the leg, but it was so much more than that.)

He died at home, the place he loved the most

Not somewhere full of strangers who would run before they helped.

He didn’t slowly sink to the worst gates of hell

but skipped to the brighter oblivion

What I want to believe has little bearing on whatever truth exists.

Whether there is something more or no such thing at all,

He’s free.

**

He died the best version of himself.

He left behind love, and people shocked

to learn he fought so hard to be that best version of himself

to be the man they knew.

The scientist. The inventor. The gym bro.

The guy who bought groceries for the old lady

who couldn’t get out herself. The brilliant mind.

Such a gift. One that came with

sharp barbs and snagging hooks.

***

He didn’t mean to go, but he didn’t want to stay.

Carrying infinity around inside was just too big a job

for a single body, a single mind, the limitations of both.

The pain without was just a tiny echo of the one within that bounced

ear to ear,

all the time.

****

There is no what if,  this happened, and

it did so as gently as it could.

It left us best able to cope and I can’t help believing

He orchestrated it somehow.

Because something inside him always knew

We’d say goodbye to him before he had to say goodbye to us.

(It was the only pain he believed he couldn’t face.)

And if we’re some form of energy that thinks and knows and has been here before

He thought and he knew and he planned it the best way he could.

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Some memories aren’t as good as they are necessary

I’m not sure what this is. I wrote it that summer just after Chris pulled out of the cycle of addiction. He’d get clean here, and stay clean for three years before dying the way he promised he never would. It might be a song. I have no musical notes, only words. I’m not really a poet. So I’m not sure.

I found this today, while getting together some writing samples for a grant I’m applying for and, coincidentally (not) it echoes thoughts that have been sailing through my head for days. These things seemingly present themselves when we need them, but I know better. They’re all in there, just waiting to be called up.

Processing

You were drowning and I could not save you
Could not pull you from the waves
I grabbed, you slipped
The current pulled you down, stronger than I
Stronger than us.
Down and down and further away
A riptide in an unnatural sea, with all of nature behind it
Then that sea spit you out
Threw you up, out of the surf
To me, ready to drag you free, or drown with you
A dead weight, unable to breathe on your own
I breathed for you
I slapped your face
I brought you back
But I did not save you.

All those nights I held you in my arms and
listened to your stunted breath
Reveled in the heartbeat betraying lungs that couldn’t work
I held you and I cried
I held you and I raged
silently, so I would not wake you
Because that was even harder, knowing
the cycle of silliness and sleep to come
Of hunger and itching
Of biting cuticles and fingernails and rubbing at your face
To hear you tell me you are worthless, a fuck up, and that you love me so much
I deserve a better son
And that you should go away, disappear
So I wouldn’t have to worry
So I wouldn’t have a son like you
Anymore. Ever.
That hurt the most.
Even worse than the next day
When you hated me again, because you loved me so much
And I was that conscience the beast didn’t want you to have.

You couldn’t do it for me; you could only do it for you
And you weren’t worth the effort
All pain and shame and need
What did you have to live for? Who could you love?
Who could love you?
Somewhere in the haze, you knew the answer was me

And you hated how you clung to that
How you hated me
I was a horror, I was smothering
I loved a worthless nothing, so what did that make me?
I loved you when you raged
I loved you when you used
I loved you when you were like a baby again
Pleading to be held, to be loved, to be understood and loved anyway.

You couldn’t do it for me; you could only do it for you
And you weren’t worth the effort
All pain and shame and need
What did you have to live for? Who could you love?
Who could love you?
Somewhere in the haze, you knew the answer was, “Me.”

You were drowning and I could not save you
Could not pull you from the waves
I had to stand on the shore and watch you struggle
Breath held and heart racing
Every muscle tense and ready
For the moment you would reach for me
But you didn’t, as you shouldn’t have
You had to walk up that beach yourself
To stand in the dry sand and look back at your turbulent sea
And say, “Never again.”

surf

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Tennyson

I hold it true, what’er befall;

I feel it, when I sorrow most,

Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

from: In Memorium by Lord Alfred Tennyson

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Blanking

This is not untrodden ground. Many have

been here before. I

have been here before.

And yet I’m unprepared, because what everyone says is true–

it’s different for everyone.

*

Happiness makes me sad. Seeing it.

Feeling it. I listened to my family sing

Christmas carols on Thanksgiving,

watched them ham it up.

I went into another room and cried.

If he were there, he wouldn’t have been singing with them.

He’d have been standing off

to the side, watching.

Smiling.

When he sang, it was with his ukulele, and solo.

And beautiful.

*

I hear him singing, all the time.

There is no such thing as silence in my mind.

If words aren’t filling it, music is.

My brain sings,

not always in his voice, but often.

Clear. So clearly.

I hear every crack in his song.

*

I have learned how to push down

the memories that flare

up unbidden and precious.

“Don’t. Not now.” I can do it

and I do. I have to or go mad with sorrow.

Remembering hurts, and so does refusing to.

I don’t want to forget. Anything.

But most memories will turn into

ones I want rather than ones that were.

It’s how I’ll be able to remember without crying

the time he cut out coupons, thinking he could use them to buy toys;

how he walked his baby sister to her classroom, kissed her good-bye. Every. Day.

that he befriended every misfit in his world;

all the times I held him, making sure he kept breathing through the night;

His chaos. I don’t want to forget that either.

but I will. I will.

*

I had a son, and now he’s gone

no matter what anyone says of heaven or the other side of stone walls.

I open my arms and shout his name,

trying so hard to feel that presence still imbuing this house.

He’s everywhere I look. Every corner, every wall full of the life he lived here,

but I don’t. I try. Maybe he does too.

Or maybe it’s just too soon, and it just hurts too much.

 

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The Little Things

Memories spill, pinged from the gray mush

passing for my brain

from the strangest sources.

The line from a book, a song lyric.

Coming across How It’s Made

while scrolling through the TV channels will pull out

The clear image of carrying him to his bed,

the warmth of his baby breath on my neck.

Watching him re-create with blocks

geometric designs far beyond his three years.

The light in his eyes when he got his first bulls-eye. The

fear there concerning bats, and non-vocal deer. The way

his hugs felt, so all-encompassing. I can almost feel the press.

Or it might be the weight of this sorrow.

Or it might be both.

 

 

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Dear Brian

It seems you’re finally off the hook

I’ve a new ghost to haunt me, a new ghost to

visit with in dreams, a new ghost to

infiltrate every word I write, every thought

I have. Thirty years

is a long time to stick around.

*

Are you finally free? Or have you been

all along? Can you truly be free when

there are those left missing you?

*

Funny, how I think of you both in such terms.

I thought it when you died–Free!

And it was my first thought for him, too.

Why does life have to be so hard? Is it

organic? A consequence of being human. Or is it

societal? A construct of rules and mores never meant for our kind.

*

“You were born too wild for this world.”

I wrote that once, to you.

“You were born too brilliant for this world.”

That is what I wrote for him.

Wild. Brilliant. Can anyone be “too” of such things?

Why does that make one unable to cope? Unable

to be happy? Something’s not right, and I’m pretty sure

it wasn’t you, it wasn’t

him, it was

all the rules penning you in.

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