We Have to be Fine, Right?
This is a chapbook I wrote based my years of dealing with domestic abuse with two children. There are 18 poems total. I would love to hear your comments.
I’m sorry I don’t think that I heard you right A mass in his brain that’s impeding his sight? I’m sorry How has this affected his mind? I’m sorry Have you already said, will he die? Do you think this explains things, do you think this is why? I’m sorry Remind me again of its size Where is it located, what do you advise Inoperable since it’s too big to excise Yes, I’m still his wife until the papers are signed The restraining order allowed for more time Thank you but I should apologize It’s a lot to take in, a convenient surprise I’m sorry to doubt you but I can’t surmise Your confidence that he will most likely survive That he’ll live with a golf ball size tumor inside His angry and violent, unpredictable mind I’m sorry forgive me for speaking with spite But what you are saying just doesn’t sit right Yes he told me first but that asshole is sly It’s ok you can tell me it’s another damn lie Tell me I’m dreaming and that I'll be fine I’ve come way too far for this to arise Im sorry, forgive me I don’t mean to cry Of course I’ll take care of him, I am his wife I’ll get the kids moved back into his life Maybe what happened was caused by this blight Maybe he’ll change now that he knows why Maybe Maybe I’ll survive Maybe I won’t die Maybe he won’t be mean now, I mean, maybe he’ll try I’ll put down defenses and we will be fine We have to be fine I have to at least try Right?
A Ghost Town
It’s quiet here At least during the off season which is most of the year For the first time I feel the dark noise fading The dark noise that has taken over my mind and polluted it with You Have I gone deaf? Mom I’ve heard this sound a million times but this is the first time I actually hear how beautiful it is So clear and pitch perfect and I don’t think I ever want to hear another sound My daughter speaks with ease Her words are Comfortable This is my first time to experience her speech without the underlying darkness of fear and insecurity pushing her words out in a desperate attempt for some solace or stability At night I no longer hear my son’s teeth grinding away the anxiousness and unease that has haunted his 4 years alive I finally hear his heart his soul calming with each breath I love the sound of his soul The dark noise is hiding For now Our bedrooms are connected by a hallway and we can see each other with the doors open The doors are always kept open I hope that this place will help alleviate the fear I hope that this ghost town is enough to help them through the long weekends they spend with the dark noise You So I take them to the beach And we let the wind play with our hair And we let the crash of the waves drown out our thoughts And we are invisible The ghosts here take away our fears and memories and allow us to be alive Momentarily Some nights darkness hovers over us Reminding us of the noise You An unwanted reminder that we will hear it again Hear you, again These nights we sleep with the doors open and the lights on These nights we sleep in the silence of this ghost town and just survive until morning
The Smallest 250lb Man
You are nervous and I am not It’s unsettling that I am this close to you and I’m not scared It’s unsettling that I know the peace that lives in my home may decide to leave once it meets you My place is too small for you and a month ago you wouldn’t have fit in the door, but today you mesh with the ants You eat the crumbs off of the floor and crawl with effort to sit somewhere eye level with me only to avoid eye contact The uncertainty of your mortality has made you small You ask if I mind if you sit in the chair I just watched you exert all of your energy to climb onto You wonder what to do Who to be Who you are Who you’re with Are you thankful? Resentful? I think you are too afraid to know You are different but you are the same You ask for a glass and pour yourself whiskey from your own bottle And I secretly hope you will die
Welcome to the home I made after you destroyed ours Welcome to the home that enabled me to silence the continuous strain of insults that swarmed around my mind Making your lies become truths Validating all of my insecurities, underestimating my worth Keeping me complacent because I was too lazy or stupid to cook or clean or be a mom or a wife This is my new home It reminds me that I am strong Welcome There’s love in here and I’m allowing you to enter Of course the pantry is full Your assumptions have always been for you to justify your actions I agree, it’s a nice place It hasn’t seen the ugliness that our home endured Are you shocked? Maybe a little disappointed? You’re impressed you say? My competence is cute I’m an actor in this little place; amusing you with this facade Entertaining everyone before I fall and you pick me up How long will you wait before you get impatient? Watching me on my feet won’t be cute tomorrow How long until I fall down? How long until you push?
I know what you're thinking I can see it in your eyes They emphasize your sighs They patronize my lies The think is I know the truth of the matter This proof I bestow upon you to shatter The chatter won't matter now I got a free pass served up on a platter to batter the past. So I can blame it on the rain I can make my claim and stain this story to fit my name I can take every single drop left of bitter and empty it into this hole of dirt and seal it up with concrete hands and tight lips with finally smirk at the rarity of it all; the absurdity I know it wasn't always the tumor but from now on it was always the tumor Each shot he took with hands that shook with hands that steadied once his brain didn't work Stronger hands Weaker minds Stronger shots that plot this crime of passion in which he did not do time proof Now you see it? Proof that validates every claim I had aloof to the shame and all of the blame and as the truth is untied and blind eyes become wise to my proof I realize how this all seems obtuse; like some story you'd read in a fictional sleuth In a bind by betrayal designed to play back memories that aren't mine I blame myself so much that this proof isn't the truth but made up by my mind that has Stockholm Syndrome or has been brainwashed from a past that won't stay behind My believability without proof isn't as high as I assumed and my believability now is just a facade of necessity because you all owe me So you can sigh roll your eyes but this time you can't deny me my life back because I have proof and you have to believe me when it happens again.
This shouldn’t be regarded as permanent But to me it makes sense Because it never should have been what it was It only took a tragedy To get back what I want I can see the man he once was The father they used to have or the one they wished into existence Did the treatments do more than stop the growth? Have you come back to us? Because each night I dream of a life that flows Evenly through the wind That carries us all up and down and we are always laughing Going with the flow Sometimes my dreams show me a monster on a movie screen And I’m not afraid because movies don’t scare me And I laugh at the absurdity that I could be scared of something so unreal And I wake up laughing I float out of my bed to go about my days now filled with ease and comfort And love? However Disability is short term and Decisions are needed The kids are so happy The kids are so happy Will I stay happy and keep everyone happy? Trusting in you is not easy And dreams aren’t real but I want to believe One last trip to the beach Say goodbye to the ghosts Blinded by hope and desire to trust I feel the sand The wind The water And then the sting An unhealed wound on my arm And a familiar reminder Salt.
The first game in the new place in the new town in the new future But the kids are reluctant to watch and if memory isn’t going to remind me why then I only have about 10 minutes before You Will scream into the television with a sound so alarming that it’s hard to know if it’s the actual game invoking this anger This isn’t a typical sound This sound comes from somewhere dark and it’s scary and the fear is back I try to wish it away my kids are too aware to be so stupid You notice reluctance and it makes you more angry I try to change tune but you will always know what we can see This is just the beginning You’ll let it go This time I no longer care who wins Even though I have to care it will determine your attitude The amount of alcohol you consume What time dinner will be ready Tonight will be fine But tomorrow is coming The kids are hiding in their rooms and I’m pretending not to notice You Creeping back.
the last ditch attempt
My Husband I could never fully imagine what you go through. You and I have been using alcohol to get through shit for as long as we've known one another. I have zero judgement. I would never say that you can or cannot use alcohol to cope with your situation. It's ludicrous if I did. The problem only arises because of your daughter and your son. And as you and I have become aware of our drinking and its effect on the kids, it has become really manageable. As long as we don't have a huge fight your son is great. Your daughter knows that you drink alcohol because you have been through a great deal. She loves you and only wants you to be happy. And she has been able to assess situations as well. You are the father and caregiver of this family. We need you and we love you. We will never fault you. Your Wife Do you remember this? I remember it well Back when I still thought I could find a way through to you And again when I was trying to ease your anger I held onto this like it was my shield Look at how sympathetic I am! Look at how I’m taking the blame too! Look! Look! Look! Please Look! Please come back I don’t know where you are I don’t know who this is next to me But he scares me So I give him this He never remembers so I give it to him often It’s all I can do if I want to keep hope.
a dream, a wish
Our son told me of a recurring dream he is having I imagine it’s quite scary Not knowing who is who What is what And when? Dreaming of you as you And the other you How scary for a child to not know which you you will be Today. Such a complicated thing For a small child to wrap their mind around You. In his dreams. You Making you go away. It’s a happy dream because he’s saved in the end By the you he’s made up in his mind The you that could have been Should have been Showed up in his dream To save him from you A son who needs a father so badly He’s made you into something imaginary Because he doesn’t remember when you weren’t you. He just wants his version of dad to show up Like in his dream He wishes for a different you Protective Understanding Loving Waiting for you to show up and save us Each time you come your stay is shorter than the last I’m afraid eventually you will stay gone And we will be stuck with this you forever.
I’ll take what I can get Because sometimes I get you back And I remember No I forget what you’ve turned into Because it’s easy with you It’s easy because we both do it so well Everything is fine That was yesterday Today is about having fun And man we sure know how to have fun
Rocky Part 1
This is the part where I digress I pause the story and I confess Victimization isn’t always obvious Especially to a man as proud as my ex. A victim of society expectations he lived with quietly Born a man to take care of his family Never quite living up to reality. I’ve never seen anyone so fearful of life So fearful of failing, Of falling Of strife. Of missing a step or a small oversight I wanted him happy not understanding his fight This turmoil he lived with all on his own And tried to endure it With all of his strength With all of his might. He should have been praised For his efforts displayed For his motivation ablaze For his intent to amaze His efforts would not satisfy Expectations he set way too high Attempting to grasp at the sun in the sky While dying inside While dying to try Bloodied and chained, a struggle to be freed Keys within reach still no will to proceed All hope he had left, his mind would impede All energy expelled, and he let himself bleed
Rocky Part 2
When he was diagnosed with the tumor And the radiation treatment took his vision in one eye And he lost his job And he began to panic all the time And was unable to drive He said it was because of his depth perception but it was because he was having panic attacks In his mind He was no longer capable of taking care of his family Not financially Not physically He was defeated I can continue to tell a thousand horrible stories But they are all the same The most painful thing about all of this Is that he stayed down. “It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can take a hit and still get back up” Rocky Balboa That was his favorite quote. He thought he was Rocky, He always thought he could take the hits He was the tough guy The guy who can fix everything The guy who has everything It was so important to him to have everything. But life knocked him out Cold. He never got back up. And he never came back My ex is still alive He still has a presence in this world But he is a different man Defeated Delusional Knocked out. Gone Goodbye my old friend.
All trust went out the door when you forbade me to get help for her It was the last string we had And once it came unstrung You became unhinged My ear still stings And I can’t hear as well I will always touch my neck to make sure it’s still there There will always be the concert And the restaurant And that soccer practice The time you walked to her teacher’s house in the middle of the night When you called her a bitch When you told her you would be happy to never see her again When you made him feel he was at fault for your behavior When you said he was a wimp and needed to man up I just found out about the chair That thought hurts more than your fist Christmas Eve And the next one after that And the next one concreting the tradition it now held A hole punch sealed up on every single door we have ever had The mounds of food on your plate The smell that radiated from your body In the elevator In the car The manipulation The lies The fear The dread And then there was the text “If we don’t go out there, he is going to kill her” Nothing mattered after reading that text I will never hear the clanking of ice the same way He will never have a drink I’m afraid she may have too many You are a drifter You deny your present like you deny your past But now you do it on your own We are gone left only with broken memories And uncertain emotions Uncertainty that holds us physically hostage Can you speak up? I’m having trouble hearing you
There you sit In your chair That will be the first thing I get rid of I am stopped at the door You’re angry Like always The ground is littered with eggshells and I’m unable to move for fear I will step on one and you will realize I am home. I just need to make it to my room She’s in her room Door shut He’s in his room Door shut I walk past you and your chair and your glass of vodka and the sound of clinking ice Fat Slut As long as the ice is louder than the shells Fucking Bitch And I may just make it. Worthless Whore You grumble something and my step quickens Pathetic You get louder I hear the glass hit the table I hear your heavy breathing as you attempt to stand Ugly Slut Bitch and I shut the door loudly behind me Locked Safe This is all going to be over soon I will strike Not before you get me a few more times But it hurts less now that I have a plan I have to stay alive just a little bit longer Tumor or alcohol We no longer try to figure that out. We focus only on survival One more month. And we are going home
That four letter word elicits mounds of emotions I believe it is one of those words that is universally accepted as good even if you’ve yet to experience a good home We hear the word and we imagine an idealistic place to rest your head somewhere that accepts you without judgment somewhere you can be yourself home is a concept love comfort understanding forgiving home is undeniably unrealistic however I’ve never had to look for my home I’ve never had to find it or try to understand it my sister was 10 years old when I was born and has been my home ever since my sister my home my rock my solace my reason my sister always has room for me she always accepts me loves me understands me forgives me. My sister validates me she thinks i’m funny smart good. My home My sister There aren’t enough words to write a poem that could encapsulate all that has become of me because of her. Thank you for saving me.
I sit here Again And it’s blank My mind remembers everything until I try to remember it and it all gets hazy and I think I’m talking about someone else when I try to talk at all because there’s no way this happened to me. What’s that? You want my victim card. I guess it’s hard to explain myself when I can’t conjure the words to admit what I let happen. How can I be a victim if I let it happen so here’s my card again, can you help me get groceries so the kids can eat? But you just bought him a computer and you bought her a car and last month you gave me $300. How do you have $300 when all I have is a card? I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you mad. You see I didn’t want to make you mad so I didn’t ask for any support. What did my lawyer tell the judge to get you out of responsibility? It’s hazy again but this I have on paper. So I am always reminded of how hard you can hit before I fight back. If I fight back. It’s kind of tiring to fight back when the noise is so loud I can’t think and I can’t remember which part I’m just now deciding to fight back. If I think really hard and the haze clears up I panic so I focus on the fight I won. That was for my kids. See they have cards too but I don’t need to see them. Their cards will always be a glowing light that illuminates their being everywhere they go because I let it get so far and now my kids are victims. Of you Because of me Don’t tell me to be quiet I want to say you lost that right but you never had the right in the first place. I’m just starting to talk and the words are coming easier and DON’T TELL ME TO BE QUIET I’m blocking you now. By the way I lost my card. As I’ve begun to speak the unspeakable I realized that nobody once has asked to see it. Why do you want to see the proof of something you are trying to deny? I don’t have a victim card, you made me a victim so that shit shows all the time and trust me, nobody looks in my eyes and needs proof.
I’m not looking for a reason for it all I have been fighting life as if it is a separate entity from me, an entity that is trying to hurt me and that I am to conquer and control I like to blame And if I admit the synonyms Me and life Then I am fighting myself Then I’m blaming myself I cry and yell and curse out loud to a vast universe of stars that have been dead for millions of years and a moon who is too busy shining to coddle the grown woman who cannot just let go and understand that this is not about Losing Waxing and waning year after year Losing connections and losing my mind Fighting anger with anger and losing my balance at the whirlwind I create because that is a cycle that does not end Well There is so much power at my disposal and yet my eyes won’t dilate leaving me in the dark unable to see past it all Unable to understand my own voice Or they dilate too much and it burns I can never find the balance that is right in front of my nose. I’m so busy opening and closing my eyes and I am looking through prisms and they are forming a hologram and I don’t appreciate the beauty in that balanced perception because I don’t have any perception I can believe in I can’t see what I see and I get dizzy because it is all an illusion Everything is an illusion I am playing a game of chess with myself calling checkmate only to watch Me Struggle To stay ahead. This isn’t a war There are no enemies He says I am always angry I thought I was fine
And now I’ve got it all Right? It’s over and I won the fight I can go back to who I was before my life was torn I am reborn and I’m brand new But I won’t tell you The sad parts Waking up in the dark Fear clenching my heart But it’s been a while now Don’t be a child, now Why can’t I remember how To fake others out Of my emotional business I feel so crowded Shrouded with resistance I need everyone to back away Of course I’m afraid but This is just how I do things Which brings me to reality I am not starting over because I am never going to be who I was Again. I need to clarify what I won’t pretend So that there are no more misunderstandings about why I am Who I am is a mystery I only figure out in hindsight Which means that presently, I’m just a lost soul trying to mend. I'm starting over with a new past Do you have any suggestions on how to change that? Because I don’t have a clue.
Wrenching and powerful piece that effectively forced this reader to confront some of the specifics of abuse and better understand the suffering. the legacies and the challenges to healing.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m glad it’s effective. The writing process was much more emotionally draining than I had anticipated. But it was helpful in the healing process by the end.
I can’t wait to read more!
Hi Shanna. Thank you for visiting and following HoB. Much appreciated!
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