Painted Eggshells


Painted Eggshells

Painted Eggshells

 

filled with lies; my life unfolds

a shattering glance, my blood runs cold,

painted eggshells; breakable

crack and fall, with fractured skull

hospital beds, disinfect

the part of my life you don’t detect

one time a punch, one time a kick

lying on the floor, feeling sick

my body cries with muted pain

you took all of me, made me feel insane

although you’re gone, locked away,

I lie awake, waiting for the day

you seek me out, and make me sorry

it gets hard to breathe, I’m so full of worry

I heard you’re changed, you regret your deeds,

but that just doesn’t cut with me

the scars you left are deeply etched

and I don’t need to hear your regrets

This Time

survivor_domestic_violence_bumper_stickers-rf5909cffbe6f4f1cb4325d2f39bc3166_v9wht_8byvr_324

This is a poem I wrote last year, but I haven’t been brave enough to share it.  My prompt was to write a poem that contains the words: time, wasteland, shelter, deceit, unforgiving, and Sandman. It’s one of those poems that, the moment I read the prompt, the poem kind of wrote itself in my head. Anyway, here it is:

 

This Time

It appears you don’t know
this time there’s no going back.
So many years spent
trudging through the
wasteland of our
marriage;
you knocking the life out of
anything that stood in your path
which somehow—every time—was
me.
Disconnected memories
f l o a t
around the surface of my mind;
bobbing, going under, resurfacing,
always in turmoil,
and this is the life I’ve known with you.
It hasn’t always been this way,
there was a time when you were my
shelter,
with the storms that crashed my rocks
not so easy to withstand,
but you were there,
with your sandbags full of love, and your
joy for life that
made me believe you were my hero . . .
but you weren’t,
instead, you were a new
punisher,
using your knowledge of all my
skeletons
to your advantage,
and your deceit
sent me flying across the room.
It’s funny how
unforgiving
a fist in the face
can be, and
no matter how
repulsed
you were the next day,
my respite never lasted for long.

Something inside me has shifted this time,
our tectonic plates too smashed
to stick back together with superglue,
so I won’t even try,
I no longer think we’re worth
fighting for
I have to give you up,
like a drug that’s slowly killing me,
and when I sleep tonight,
it may be fitful at first,
but the Sandman will come and
sprinkle his magic over me;
healing my body and mind,
and my dreams will have hope—
not fear—
and for the first time
in my life,
I will not be afraid.

Blogger Appreciation Award

Blogger Award

 

I am excited and honoured to have been nominated for the Blogger Appreciation Award by the hugely talented Didi Oviatt. Before reading any further, I suggest you check out her website and blog. She has written, co-written, and published many books, and she’s conducted some great author interviews, as well. Check her out. You won’t be disappointed.

A Little of Something Positive

This is a tough one. I was brought up in a house that believed, “Self praise is no praise,” and preached it regularly. But, I’m getting better at saying nice things about me. Hey! That’s something positive, isn’t it? But, something a little more substantial. I am a passionate person. Certain causes—like mental health, child abuse, homelessness, and domestic violence—are issues I try to write a lot about in an effort to spread awareness. Also, in an attempt to make people who would otherwise have no idea about the affect they have on a person understand just a little better the long-lasting trauma that remains. I’m proud of my writing on these subjects.

My Nominees (all of whom are utterly fab!)

laissez faire

reneworredo

Short Prose

Uncertaintyweb

Lass X

Lizzy

There are so many more bloggers I could have mentioned, but these are the ones I love to peruse on a daily basis. They are all super talented people with interesting tales to tell. Check them out, guys! They’re worth it!

 

 

 

Once Upon A Time

Domestic Abuse logo

 

Once Upon A Time

Mornings always roll around,
and the stillness in the air
creates a facade of togetherness,
like we’re two normal people,
and you’re not some kind of monster
who roars nightly, and
devastates
my wilderness.
I’ll never understand your chaotic mind,
the savagery of your assault,
both physically and mentally,
leaves me aching for the calm that always follows;
the rough winds of your mind
bluster your otherwise motionless soul,
and you rail against me because I am
closest to you: your true love, so you say.

Once upon a time,
when I believed in fairytales,
you were my prince, and my world was love,
but your dark clouds oppressed me
all too soon, and
I couldn’t breathe because your air stifled me,
and the first time you battered me,
raining down your skewed
sense of love and punishment,
I knew one of us would drown.

The tides rise so high,
each time covering more of my
rainbow-coloured body,
leaving fresh water marks
that only we can see.

The hurricane arrived last night—
the one I’d been dreading for seven long years—
it tore through the town of me,
ravaging my landscape.
I only just managed to stay afloat,
and the rescuers almost came too late,
but now it’s over—
except, it isn’t, not really
I know you’re a storm I will need to
weather once again,
but for now all is quiet,
and the crisp air cools my
broken bones.

A Childhood Lost

 

stopdomestic violence

a childhood lost

 

the t u m b l e

d

o

w

n

stone wall

draws me nearer

it’s years since i’ve

dared to stand before

this house

d a n c i n g  leaves perform

a show of  s

w

i

r

l

i

n

g

s h a d o w s

hypnotic silhouettes

teasing me in

one

step

toward

the uncared-for, splintery door

as though reflecting my thoughts

a vast

looming storm cloud

st ea ls

the sunlight from the a i r

leaving only a vestige of a time long

g o n e

i step into the past and

wonder if i should be here

light and darkness mingle

dotting the interior

with sepia sadness

i loved this home

i hated this home

stairs creak under my weight

still i take them

one by o n e

light headed,

trepidatious,

i know i must do this

to regain

control

so i ascend

to the height of my

r

a

e

f

and i’m greeted by

hideous

peek-a-boo shadows

a childhood lost

i glance inside the

dusky remnants of

The Room,

and that is

enough

i turn

i leave

outside

the suffocation ends

my lungs expand

and light once more suppresses

darkness

I Remember The Night

domestic_abuse2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember the night,
the last time it happened;
summer sizzled through the air
and met with your shortened temper.
I was always more object than
person to you;
your property,
to do with as you wished, and
through a lifetime of living with you
I lost all sense of me.
It wasn’t only my bones you
smashed nightly,
(so many splintered years,
stolen selfishly)
you took from me all my worth,
all my ability to love the world.
But I remember the night,
the last time it happened;
loose threads of strength
fluttered through the open window and
landed on my sterile hospital bed.
Now I’m living
me, without you;
my soul is patched up,
sewn together—with love— over time.
I rarely spare you the grace of my thoughts.
I am loving another, moving on,
surviving, living, happy,
and all this is me
without you.

It’s Not Love

DV Butterfly

Today, I want to speak a little about domestic violence. The UK’s UN Women committee are raising awareness of violence towards women and girls with a drawaline campaign. This campaign aims to draw a line under all violence to women and girls . Here is a link to the page, should you wish to see more details: Drawaline Campaign

Domestic violence is a subject that’s very close to my heart. Not only physical violence, but sexual and verbal also. Violence against women and children (and, increasingly, domestic violence toward men). I read this frightening statistic today: 1 in 4 women in the UK (and up to 70% of women in some places) have experienced sexual or physical violence. 2 women are murdered in the UK every week by their intimate partners. That’s shocking!

I’m not personally involved with the drawaline campaign, as I only read about it this morning. But I am involved in spreading this message whenever possible. Here is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago about my own experiences . . .

It’s Not Love

When you’re lying in bed,
hardly
daring
to b r e a t h e,
praying the sheets will
hide
your body,
you dread the inevitable
game—
the one you don’t want to play—
and the
s t e n c h
of brandy
smothers your senses:
that’s not love

When his words
hurtle
toward you with
venom and force,
you know you’re
disgusting
because why would he lie?
Still you long for
his approval,
for his public
ridicule
to  s

t

o

p

even though you know you deserve it,
and you’ll never be good enough:
that’s not love

When you’re
slammed
in a corner,
rough hands squeeze your neck,
you plead for his
m e r c y,
but he spits in your face,
your life’s lived on eggshells,
his fist a constant threat,
he hates you, he loves you,
it’s all your own fault:
that’s not love.
It’s not love.

The Show Must Go On

I intended to write a poem, based on this song. However, when I started writing, I knew it was going to be a story instead. I didn’t realise just how long it would get!

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

The morning of the dinner party just happened to be the morning after the night before. Jasmine clutched her bruised ribs as stood on wobbly legs. She stole a glance at Kevin. Even when he was sleeping, her husband’s presence stifled every last chunk of air.

In the bathroom, she dropped her robe and peeked at her skin in the mirror. This time, it hadn’t been that bad. The shoe-shaped purple mass just below her right breast had no counterpart on the other side, and for that she was grateful. Faded yellows and greens already created an artist’s palette across the rest of her body.

She held her breath as she ran her fingertips along the outline of purple. Pain shot through her core, forcing her backwards against the door. Sitting on the edge of the bath, she forced herself to breathe. Tonight, Kevin’s boss and his wife would be dining with them. She needed to be able to fake it until she really did make it. Entertaining Steve and Michelle left no room for errors.

Hot water battered her sore body as she stood under the shower. Scrubbing away the remnants of the previous night was getting easier with each time it happened. As she closed her eyes, she pictured her mother’s face. But only for a moment. Thoughts of her loved ones were dangerous. Kevin always knew when she betrayed him. Today, her mother’s face shimmered, as though it were blowing in the wind. “Oh, Mum,” she said under her breath.

Breakfast had to be perfect. Jasmine worked quickly, setting out their cups and plates. The moment Kevin’s foot hit the top stair, she put his toast in the toaster. Backing against the counter top, she averted her eyes when he entered the kitchen. He had to speak first. Holding her breath, she waited.

“Good morning, sweetie. How did you sleep?” You would never know by his voice or his manners that anything had happened the night before. His smile spread over his entire face, and his eyes twinkled—just as they had that night, ten years ago, when they first met.

“Ugh, yeah. Okay, thanks.” She lingered a look over his face, trying to gauge his mood. “You?”

“Oh, yes. You know me, Jas. I never have trouble sleeping, do I?”

“No.” It didn’t make sense. How could someone with so much evil on their conscience sleep a solid eight hours every night? She had been in too much pain to sleep more than a couple.

Once he was safely eating his toast, she sat opposite him and sipped at her coffee. His mood seemed to be genuine, but she didn’t dare take her eyes from his face; watching for the darkness to cross it.

“You haven’t forgotten about tonight have you, sweetie?” He didn’t look up from his breakfast.

“No. Of course not. It’s all sorted.” Her tone came out all wrong, and she regretted it the moment she spoke.

Kevin placed his cup on the table and levelled his eyes at her. The air in between them sizzled with static. He licked his lips, then said, “ All right. I’ll let that one slide. You’re probably still upset about our fight last night.”

Her heart hammered against her sore ribcage, trying its hardest to break free. The coffee she’d just drank nudged the top of her throat and she swallowed hard. “No. I’m sorry.” Time floated in between them, suspended, waiting for his next move.

“Come here. Come on; over here.” He patted his lap, and she edged closer to him. When he grabbed her waist and pulled her onto him, she sucked in the cry that threatened to ruin everything. Shots of pain ricocheted around her torso. All she wanted to do was to go see her mother. She needed to be hugged by arms that loved her; gentle and protective arms.

“I am sorry we fought, you know. I don’t derive any pleasure from it.” He suckered his lips onto hers, and the taste of tea mixed with raspberry jelly sent a wave of nausea swirling around her stomach. When he pulled away, she smiled. Acquiescence was her means of survival.

As soon as he left for work, she scrubbed her teeth, in an effort to destroy the taste of him. Rather than focus on the mess that had become her life, she would focus on what she could have control over: the dinner party. I can do this, she told herself.

After taking a couple of the painkillers she got when she broke her wrist in the summer, she got to work with prepping the food. Nothing could be left to chance. The more she prepped, the more her confidence rose. So much was at stake. She couldn’t even entertain the possibilities of what might happen if she got it wrong, but she had checked the menu with Kevin five times. He said it was perfect.

A tune floated around the periphery of her mind. Queen. Oh, what’s it called? One of the lines played on a loop. She sang it out loud, “I’ll face it with a grin, I’m never giving in.”

Leaving the kitchen, she climbed into the cupboard under the stairs, lifted the rickety floorboard and retrieved her iPod. Kevin would be livid if he knew she had it, but he wasn’t due home for another three hours, or so.

Jasmine flicked through the songs until she found the one she was looking for: ‘The Show Must Go On.’ With her earbuds in place, she sat at the kitchen table and listened. By the end of the song, tears streaked her cheeks. She remembered listening to the song as a child. Even then—before she ever met Kevin—she felt it had been written for her. Now, after ten years of living with the devil, she knew it had.

Every day, she played the required roles. With Kevin, she was the timid punchbag who let him do whatever he wished with her. Her friends, she rarely saw, but when she did, she was the woman with the most incredible relations ship ever. That Jasmine couldn’t be happier . . .

Her mother was harder to fool. She had this knack of knowing exactly how Jasmine was feeling by the tone of her voice. Even now, with 300 miles distance between them, she could still know her daughter’s emotions. That’s why Kevin forbade her from having any contact.

“Inside my heart is breaking, my make-up may be flaking, but my smile still stays on.” Fresh tears dropped onto the table. How did I get here?

The shrill sound of the telephone pierced Freddie’s aching voice. Blowing her nose, she said hello.

“Jasmine?”

“Yes, Mum. Hi. How are you?”

“I’m fine. Have you been crying? Are you all right? What’s he done to you now?”

“Slow down. I’m okay. I was just listening to a song I really like, and it made me a little nostalgic. That’s all.” She sniffed and wiped her nose.

“Oh, darling. You have to leave him. Please. He doesn’t love you. He treats you worse than a rabid dog!”

“Mum, I’m fine. I miss you and Dad. How is he?”

“Oh, you know your father. Likes to keep busy in the garden. His back’s playing him up, but it’s just his age catching up with him. I’m more concerned about you. So, that’s why we’re coming to see you.”

Jasmine’s heart leapt into her throat. Kevin wouldn’t allow it. How could she persuade her parents not to come? If they did, how could she keep it from Kevin? If he knew, how much would he hurt her? The show must go on. “Okay, Mum. When are you coming?”

“Monday. And don’t try to stop us. You keep telling me what a nice, big house you have, so we want to see it.”

Closing her eyes, she could feel the floor disappearing beneath her. “Okay, Mum. Let me know when.” She couldn’t tell Kevin today. Not before the dinner party. Standing to put the phone back in its cradle, the room swirled and she had to hold onto the table to steady herself. The show must go on. She had to do this. One thing at a time. Today, the dinner party. Tomorrow, telling Kevin about her parents.

As she waited for the baked cheesecake to be ready, she checked the vegetables in the tagine, added a pinch more turmeric, and headed upstairs to get changed. Clutching her side—that had started hurting more since her mother’s phone call—she showered and dressed in her long-sleeved, floor-length black evening dress. She popped a couple more pain pills into her mouth, before going back downstairs.

Despite her mother’s best efforts to disrupt everything, it was all going according to plan. Ahead of time, in fact. She poured herself a glass of water and sat. A smile crept across her face as she thought about her parents. She hadn’t seen them since Kevin dragged her to Cornwall seven years ago. As she thought of her mum, the scent of lavender tickled her nostrils.

When she met Kevin, ten long years ago, her parents had hated him on sight. They didn’t trust him. He was too possessive. But Jasmine didn’t listen. Honestly, she had liked how absolute he was in his devotion to her. No one had ever loved her that much. At nineteen, she was swept away with his sophistication and dark good looks. What a lesson I learned there.

Not for the first time, she entertained the possibility of leaving Kevin. Actually, it’s something she thought about most days. This time, though . . . this time, it felt different. Her parents were going to see her. They wouldn’t take no for an answer. Maybe she could leave with them. Maybe that’s why they were coming. They had an idea what went on behind the curtain. They knew how she ached to be free. Maybe life was turning a corner. Maybe . . .

Six o’clock: time for Kevin to be home. She rifled through one of the kitchen drawers to find their posh bottle opener. At the back of the drawer, sitting in plain sight, was a card her friend Nina sent her a couple of birthdays ago. A purple butterfly graced the front. Jasmine lifted the card and read the inside:

‘My Jassy,
I hope you know your soul is painted with the wings of butterflies. Fairytales of yesterday will grow, but never die. You can fly if you just spread your wings.
Love you.
N xxx’

Warmth spread through her body, and she clutched the card to her chest. When she heard the front door open, she hid it at the back of the drawer again and turned to greet her husband with a painted-on smile that was a little closer to being genuine than any smile she’d performed for years.

Healthy Shakes

This is my first attempt at writing a slam poem. It sounds better when heard, than when read, but I thought I would share it with you anyway.

 

Healthy Shakes

I remember the time we stayed in
London,
the moonlight carriage ride through
streets spewing over with happy people,
and we laughed and you fed me
strawberries dipped in chocolate.
Your arms were always so strong
(to think I found that reassuring at first)
and when you placed them gently on my shoulders
on that warm and hazy summer night,
I felt loved I felt protected
I felt I’d met the love of my life
and I would finally be free from
the ties of a childhood misused
abused
so confused
it’s no surprise I clung to the first man
to tell me he loved me without saying,
“Or at least I would,
if only you could lose twenty pounds.”

It didn’t take long for your all-consuming love
to strangle and suffocate every one of
my bones,
though at first, it felt safe,
before long your eyes grew blacker and your mouth became vicious
and your fists they got
heavier,
and I retreated to the corner of the room,
a cowering dog, terrorised by her owner,
waiting for each fresh punishment to fall.
This way we lived, for ten long years—
seven of them spent in matrimonial bliss
with our game of cat and mouse,
both sticking to our roles so well:
you the hunter, me your prey,
until one day,
when I got away
your stranglehold on me frayed
and I ran and I ran
and I didn’t look back
I got help, patched me up
stitched my seams back together

and now you’re a dot
in the distance, a blot
on my landscape, a mess
I don’t need any more,
no longer my life-drug;
I have healthy shakes and relationships
with people—so gentle—
and you, you have nothing,
not even freedom,
so goodbye, my love,
I am done.