Beasts I’ve known

One day, when you are brave enough to dive so deep that darkness becomes part of the landscape, that’s when you will find my fears. They drift about in hopes of colliding into someone or something they are strong enough to digest. Friends, they are almost always strong enough. Love is a catapult shooting soldiers into the darkness, soldiers equipped to hand-grenade fears, but they rarely know where to aim. Aim at me I plead. So few take the challenge, but preciously I guard them, like a heart trying  to protect its sentiments from the mind.

Hate is not the opposite of Love, Fear  is. Hate and Love tend to co-exist like a tree tolerating a vine, but Fear suffocates, it makes Love feel like the enemy, it psychologically dismembers and reassembles a disturbingly low reality of self-worth. Hate explodes, Fear cripples from the inside. Hate is a broken limb, Fear is cancer. Hate is slapping a friend, Fear is never daring to have one. Hate is a relationship, Fear is loneliness. Hate lives, because Love was there first. Fear stops Love from taking its first breath.

It takes courage to overcome Fear, real adrenaline-filling, heart-stopping, breath-hinging courage. I’ve learned to talk them down, but eventually every feeling needs acknowledgement. At some point, I find myself looking at those hungry beasts drifting in the dark.

We know each other well,  I say and throw a Love-grenade.

What I wish she had said instead

Baby girl, mama loves you. You are beautiful, but watch who you let in, because there will be armies of men hungry for a piece of that skin of yours, all because your undertone is more yellow than pink. girl, they will look so honourable – but remember that the devil doesn’t show his horns, he wears a halo and a crooked smile, so don’t let that smile beguile you. don’t let them beneath your skin to what is really beautiful about you- they will take that from you if you do. Baby girl, trust me, mama knows. Mama’s beautiful has been scraped and muddied and screwed by so many different kinds of devils that she can’t separate them in memory anymore. I have never seen an angel, my love, but I pray that they will swarm to you. I don’t see how they could resist, you being so much like honey; sweet, preciously guarded, desired and good for just about everyone.

Sometimes, when I talk to God about who you might become, about how many mistakes my most precious charge will make, that look like mine, I smile. Because baby girl, mama knows that He’s got you. He told me so. speaking of God, He speaks to us in ways that aren’t always easy to understand, so baby girl, don’t worry about those loved ones that haunt the corridors in your dreams, He will show you, in time what it means. Let it go, my love, and live free. Baby I want you to know Jesus, He is the standard to live by, don’t ever trust a suitor that isn’t living by that same standard- it can only hurt you both. Heartbreak is a diagnosis that mama knows so well, it almost feels like the only lover I could keep. Baby girl, don’t be any man’s lover unless he vows to keep you and if you make that mistake, like I did, know that Grace means we get to try again, so keep trying my darling, God doesn’t give up on us for anything. You are so precious to Him. more precious than you are to me, and to me, you are everything. My child, you are never alone.

when you grow, you will wonder about the influence of race on perceptions of beauty, because yours will only start thinking you beautiful around 16 years from now. You’re going to fall in love with your best friend more than once. It’s going to hurt, but you’ll get over it, trust me, there’s only so long you can love somebody before their not loving you too is enough for you to choose somebody that does. You’ll be okay, better if you learn to embrace how much heartbreak fixes heart things. Heart strings can make a beautiful sound if you find the right musician, so keep tuning yours to the Word, and he’ll come along with all the right ambitions to make that heart of yours sing.

Don’t ever give up on poetry; It’s the lung that never fails when life knocks the wind from you. You will write about so many things. In some ways, poetry will give you courage, in other ways, it will take courage to write that poem, but when you do, bravery will be an item on your growing list of credentials. Keep writing. Pens will always be beautiful to you, use them as spades to dig up the ink stuck just beneath the surface of that next blank page. Ask your questions there. Find your answers there. Explore love there. Say I love you there, when you haven’t the tongue strong enough to verbalise the words to him. Let poetry be your freedom.

At last, baby girl, know that there isn’t anywhere that I would rather be than here, with you. You can rely on me. Always.

Singing in the shower is underrated

It’s a big bad world we live in kids, better get your shit together, or you’ll be left in the dust of those that have theirs already wrapped.

Savoury image. Thanks for that…

Baby girl, all you have in the world to depend on is you, so don’t you let anyone in. Build those walls high enough to give China a run for its money, but not so high that they become an attraction -you don’t want to be somebody’s challenge.

I love. I love so openly. I love so openly that even heartbreak feels more like home than never having had a reason to nurse the pain. I will love them all. I will take every beating of fists as a challenge and transpose them to beating of chests.

Don’t live so loud, you’ll draw attention to yourself. 

When I shower, I sing at the top of my lungs -unless a whisper would better suggest the lyrics. When there is music, man oh man, I can’t wait to dance! When the weather turns warm, I sing and dance and play under the sun. When it rains, I splash.

People might stare.

Let them.

They will ostracise you for being too vivacious! Too alive! Too young! Too bold!

I will be vivacious, alive, young and bold still.

They will judge you everywhere! School, home, social circles…

Still.

Even church.

Still.

Still?

Life is unforgiving regardless of whether or not we choose to sing in the shower.
Still.

 

 

A beautiful reaction

Define ‘awestruck’, she asked them. They stared at her, resolved to fill the air with a dumbfounded sort of silence (which is almost the same thing but not quite as profound) as she steadily met their gazes, allowing them to search her frame for any betrayal of that daring countenance she bore as regally as though it were a crown.

And just what did those probing pairs upon pairs of eyes find? I cannot speak for any pair save my own (I was, by default as a student to the lecturer, part of that fore-mentioned ‘they’), so this is whom my eyes met: A lady, around the age of 25. her hair fell like sighing grain that yearns for the support of a shoulder- just out of reach. Her neck held up that grain-framed face with poise and when she unlocked those coffre-fort lips to speak, her palms would spontaneously drift to elbow level and turn upwards, as if in worship of her subject. Her subject was poetry.

She answered her question like she was delivering a ration of some long-kept secret; to be awestruck, she said, is to be silenced because of  an overwhelming feeling that follows having directly been exposed to grandeur.
My mind, as party to the reception of those words, tripped, then raced, then soared. I felt as though revelation had just taken place without so much as a ceremonious “How-do-you-do?” and I was left wrestling with how  best to phrase this one experience of beauty.

This then is how I processed that experience: I derive beauty from hearing her definition of awestruck. The word itself is not particularly beautiful, but the exposition of what it could mean, is. Awestruck is the description of a reaction- a reaction to grandeur. The potential of grandeur to be beautiful, is truly what I find beautiful and perhaps what it stands in contrast to; the possibility of never actually achieving that potential. The fragility of balance in that conflict is beautiful too, is it not? 

I chose to write about this gem that passed- almost unseen- with those sand grains that separate our pasts from the rest of time, because I thought I owed it to that ever-growing cycle of experiential beauty.

Sonnet 01

A wounded Pride will not rest ere Revenge,
The cold, the savage, the bitter to taste,
Has pressed its cracked lips to a smiling face
And felt such soft skin- from the broken- cringe,
As that of petals hoping to bloom again.
Those broken lips rip holes through petal-space,
like nightmares through a young dreamer’s rib-cage,
And Pride lets slip its control of Vengeance.
So, if flowers are prey to chasm kisses,
Then Hope is a soil for fleurs to steep in
And Revenge can kiss like a strong pesticide,
But for all blackhole and nightmarish threats
There is a garden, with a dream growing
Of Love and of lip-balm and a healed Pride.

Gros bisous

Darling, we are worlds apart but I think you beautiful. My words after the years have allowed us to drift from memory and pain and longing. Still, I will love you. Ton prénom sera dans mon cœur d’aujourd’hui à toujours.  I will trace the ways we’ve watched the stars like late-night conversation constellations and dream of how I used to dream about you. That night I will dream of you again, and wake up to tears that touch my skin as gently as your breath once did. Oh, how I will miss you when I have had my full three-score and ten. knowing that God somehow gave me the strength to do that without you will still give me shivers and I will wonder what your years looked like; if you are glad of how they blossomed. I will wonder what our blossoms would have looked like together. Tell me, love, would our garden have been full as beautiful as you? 

When I am seventy years old, I will not wonder where the years went, or mourn the fast-approaching end of my story. Instead, I will have a library of sentiments to share, I will be a vessel of well-lived- a crumpled poem, worn at the edges. Mon cheri, I will think of you often, with tenderness, but I will be happy and hope that you are too.

I will have written an anthology of poems about you and not all of them will be sad, or tinged  with that bitter hue of what might have been, had you let it. Eventually I will stop trying to blame you for the story we never got to create, or for your leading me to believe that our story had already lived through its infancy. I will have forgiven you then, not in patches of I love you, I hate you, I miss you, don’t touch me, stay with me, leave, come to me, forget us, forget it, forget everything, but fully.

Yes, when I am old I will regard you with all the wisdom and understanding that such a feat as age bestows upon a person. But I am young still and continue to idealise our small handful of kisses as a tragic love-story, though it’s duration was scarcely longer than that of a lone candlestick. There is beauty there, somewhere, and I feel that If I could only dig a little deeper in this poem and a little farther in that, then I will surely find it and have peace. It is a noble task, I think.

Shiver

My friend, look at me.
I feel brave enough to say,
out loud to you and to a world of strangers,
that I found more than just peace
in the seconds I used to pass in your presence.
Friendship wasn’t all I saw when I looked at you.
what I saw when I looked at you
were the five things in your eyes that excited me,
the ways that your stare made me shiver.
when I looked at you
our eyes met and my world was jolted a little
by way of consequence.
I call our time together providence,
you may call it what you like.
When I looked at you I saw
your eyes,
those eyes.
I saw so much
in those eyes,
your eyes.

The very first time my eyes ventured to find yours
I thought,
Daym…
I like the way you look,
the way you view.
I imagined your root-like irises
stretching to touch that cholesterol hula-hoop
that pens them in- the colour of wood.
-Of warm wood,
-like cedar-meets-Walnut warm wood,
with a wood-fire gaze.
Do you remember when you would thaw me with that hearth?
Your blaze refreshed me.
It felt like the glacier enclosing my spirit
dared to kiss a flame
and instead of dying,
transformed into a puddle of peace.
So puddle and flame would sit for hours,
side by side
and our hidden heart’s desires would pepper the night
like stars,
never touching
for fear that we would amount to little more
than a steam-trail rising against a burnt sky.
The embers in your eyes delighted me
and I found home in that familiar flicker of your face,
the one that invited me
to be all of me
with you.
Whenever life chilled,
I knew that I could always return
to you,
my fireplace.

Eventually I noticed that you were like the weather.
you began to look at me in a way
that made hurricanes germinate between us.
In my memory of that squall,
you were the wind
and I, the rain.
I wanted only to fall through you, but you blew me away
choosing hail instead.
Those stones could not be blown
so they tore holes instead.
She, the hail,
you, the tattered wind.
The destruction looked beautiful to me,
so I fell through a breeze instead.
A gentle breath of air that loved me for a drizzle.
In my attempt to love him for a wind, I flooded him.
He the breeze,
I, the fickle rain.
your gale found me shivering as
I felt your tempest absorb me
and thought,
if bad weather could be beautiful,
I need only return your gaze to understand why.
My raindrops yearned for a blizzard to form that beauty of a storm with
and your hurricane gaze enthralled me,
crawled beneath my skin.
So I thought,
you could be my monsoon
and I, your deluge.
I fell in love with a tornado,
not yet having learned that swirling clouds are something to run away from.
I trusted you,
my perfect storm.

I found a voyage in your regard;
a curious glint-of-a-ship
in your eye,
traversing across seas of knowledge.
Vessel-you challenged the billows,
dropped anchor in the most violent swells
and drank-
never satiated by the thirst-inducing waves.
Your boldness was fascinating.
It seemed to me that this ocean of truths
revealed to you its secrets,
transfixed- as I was-
by your maverick pupils.
With every blink,
a gust of wind puffed out your eager sails
in search of the next thing that you might find interesting.
I found you interesting.
So, my vessel challenged yours until
yours became a part of who I wanted to be.
I loved the explorer in you.
Some days you kept me from drifting, so
I put my faith
in you,
my anchor.

At your touch, I thought,
inhale me.
Breathe me in.
Make me crave you and I’ll be back
before you’ve doubled back
to ask me back.
I closed my eyes
and shivered.
It felt like an explosion;
heating our skin,
clawing its way in,
compensating for something.
Lack of love?
maybe,
but I remember the way I fit into the space
between your arm and your side
perfectly.
I remember tracing
your lips
with my teeth
and your teeth
with my tongue
and how your lips gently closed around the tip of my thumb.
It tasted like Dom Pedro.
I remember everything.
If we had been flavours,
you were the sugar and I, the spice;
because your kiss tasted sweet and mine was rough,
because you wanted me,
had acquired a taste for me,
but only so much,
because as much as I desired you,
you posed a threat to my pre-diabetic love.
Sugar, you made me shiver,
charged me with eyes like forgotten-gold dropped in a jaded river,
pulled me into your whisper and advised me not to fall for you,
but held me like I was made for you anyway.
Any day, we could’ve lost it.
You told me not to think about it as your kiss enveloped my fingertips
and then, In little more than a look said,
this is all I want from you.
I’ve never felt so cold.
I couldn’t have imagined such cruelty
from you,
my heartbreak.

So, look at me
my friend and fireplace,
my perfect storm,
my anchor,
my love and heartbreak.
Give me one last look at that fifth thing
the one I can’t bring myself to immortalise here
in this poem,
because then I lose that too.
I’ll look for something of a whisper
of those eyes I once loved.
I’ll search your tangled roots,
until my palms are lathered in scratches,
for that familiar warmth,
but find no dancing embers.
I’ll finally learn to run from swirling clouds,
though I suspect a storm of a man will still wreak havoc in my dreams.
When that happens, I’ll ignore the shivers, and think,
maybe your hurricane was just not right for me,
maybe wind and rain only ever tatter hearts
and flood friendships with pain.
Maybe the only one made to love with a storm-like beauty
is Jesus,
then all unforeseen kisses would be heavenly.
In my searching, I’ll discover that
I should have seen the suffocation coming;
Those tidal-wave eyes needed something to crash into,
to crush and tumble and drown.
tug-boat-me was just in the wrong place at the wrong time-
an accidental casualty of your curiosity.
I’ll decide never to call you anchor again,
then stop searching as it dawns on me
that there isn’t any love left for me to find.
Those eyes will be like foreign orbs.
So I’ll let the memories flood instead:
I wanted to kiss you
I’ll remember, you said.
And so, you did.
The act meant nothing more and not a thing less.
I’ll remember realising when this particular flavour of pain
tasted just like the words of John Greenleaf Whittier:
For all sad words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.
I’ll remember loving you only as much as hating you,
and missing you only as much as loathing to be around you.
I’ll remember everything.

Finally, I’ll let it all go, but treasure that fifth thing,
the one I couldn’t bear to immortalise here,
because it has only ever been beautiful
and this is a story of pain.
If reading it hurts you too, know that my motive goes no further than this:
Pain needs to breathe.
My love, I breathe in poetry.

The city and the stars

One night,
I make a discovery.
The city has been harvesting the stars
while we’ve been working.
Every time I look up,
more and more of the twinklings
meant to be hovering over me
with a knowing glow,
are no longer decorating the heavens.
Instead,
they sleep with rags on our streets,
hungrily counting the passing cars.
Our dreams fuel this maddened,
inverted world,
where the earth illuminates the black night.
Every hour that we work overtime,
every friend’s birthday
postponed for a less busy week,
every moment we think
that earthly ambitions
are more important than living,
another star lethargically deflates
and falls into the greedy,
sweaty
claws of the city.

Breathe, girl, breathe.

Sometimes I forget to stop holding my breath. I’ve dived, touched the bottom and resurfaced, but have yet to tip my head back and fill my lungs with life. Perhaps its all the pollution in the air that causes me to desist from sucking in the potentially bitter fumes- even if that means sacrificing what I need, at least I’ll die with a clean, however empty, chest. Mais c’est bizarre, ça. Maybe, if I back-track, I’ll figure out what caused me to dive in the first place, so I close my eyes and let my life play out its farce of a narrative.

 

The curtains part, and there  I am- smaller than a mustard seed.

– I think I hope I fear that I was made in love. If this [look in the mirror] is the best that love can do, then fairytales need to stop filling little girls with hope. What awaits is either a broken spirit or a broken arm, both as a result of learning the hard way that no matter how loud you shout “I believe!”, no amount of sawdust is ever going to make you fly. Neverland does not exist. It never did. Ergo, love fails.

Exit.

Enter: 18 month old me.

– Today I learn not to take parents for granted. Mine are traded for a more capable pair. Love wins.

Exit.

Ten years pass, ‘bullied’ is my least favourite verb. It’s also my most familiar. Enter: Me.

– I have spent many break-times devouring pages in an effort to avoid less kind words from my peers, or his peers, or him. Hermione is teaching me to desire intelligence. Obelix says it’s okay to be fat. Roald Dahl assures me that a recipe for happiness, or better dreams exists, so I’ve started experimenting with abstract ingredients. I started looking more closely at the girl framed on my wall, she doesn’t say much, but stares back at me like she knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t trust her. Horse-riding makes me happy. My definition of love is inconsistent.

Exit.

Enter: Me, 12 years old -to the day.

– Birthday’s are not important to me anymore. Today, we’re moving to a different city so no celebration. I’m okay with that. People treat me better here, although I highly suspect their kindness forms part of a ploy to catch me off-guard. I’m rude to everyone, just in-case.

Ex-

– I think I like a boy..

Exit.

Grade 11, the day I meet my dad (for the second time). Enter: Me, scared shitless.

– I’m trying to make sense of a man that abandons his children twice, but still has the audacity to ask for forgiveness. God all but hands me a mirror and asks if what I see is really better. I shakily forgive my dad. Love wins.

Exit.

Enter: Me

– I will never forget the week I turned 19. I dive.

Exit.

Enter: 21 year old me.

– I’m told by my reflection that I should suck it up. I envy her moral-detachment; she doesn’t have to go through the suffocation, she only has to play the part well enough to convince me that It’s possible for me to face my fears. I fear her. Society has granted me permission to use the phrase “I’ve been through a lot”, and maybe I have, but I’m perpetually aware of those that have gone through worse and come out better. I’m not sure that I want to drown anymore. Finally, the girl framed on my wall speaks; “breathe, girl, breathe”.

Exuent.

I’m learning to separate the life-giving air from the suffocating stuff. My hope is to be better. I want to be better. I choose to breathe, even with the risk of choking and being looked down at by the habitual clean air drinkers. Ça en vaudra la peine.

Failures and learning to do better.

Today, I look around me. I see good and I see bad. I see friends and I see strangers. I see the fulfilled and I see the destitute. This world that we live in, the world I live in, is filled with bitter-sweet. I’ve been disappointed a lot by various things; missing parents, sibling rivalry, broken bones, broken trust, broken relationships, sweet nothings, failed attempts at charity, bruised ego, etc. The list has no end, really, but what all of these disappointments, in the many facets of my life, have in common is that cheated feeling with which each of them flavours my pain. The words, not good enough, are smeared across my failures and the failures of those around me.

We can do better than this.
Life is about more than just taking what you want, without giving a damn about the consequences. If the cost of your happiness is the loss of somebody else’s, then find a different avenue, because that one would be so badly done. Put yourself, for a moment, in the shoes of the person or people that you’re about to disappoint. Look at yourself the way he, or she, or they would look at you. What do you see? How ugly are you from this perspective? does selfishness become you? or are your features disfigured by the sinful veil obscuring this vision of you? Do better.

I’ve been reflecting over my most recently acquired scars and I keep asking myself, how did this happen? How did I get here?  The answer is obvious, I let this happen. A broken heart is a heavy burden to carry and I now understand, with all the new insight that a wounded spirit provides, why Proverbs 4 v 23 is so important:  Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life (Amplified Bible).

Guarding your heart is important. I would have far fewer scars had I taken heed of the wisdom in that verse more often in my life. So, this is who I am now; tainted, sinful, scarred, unworthy and alone. But God offers something greater; In place of all I have tainted and all that has tainted me, He offers a fresh start. In place of all the sins that I have committed and those that I have yet to commit, He offers redemption. In place of my scars, He offers healing. In place of my unworthiness, He offers Christ, in whom I find my identity, my worth. In place of my solitude, He says I am here, walk with me.

In place of not good enough, He gives us the courage to do better.