Jailer’s Lament

Imagine a castle far away from here,

where they can’t come in.

I’ll build red fleshy bricks from the muscles

of my arms, my shoulders, my back, my legs.

I’ll sacrifice movement for a

quivering image of safety.

Lock me in here with bolts

carved from my spine,

and as your hammer lands

each heavy beat sends a jolt through my blood.

What held me up now holds me in.

It wasn’t for us this world of sin,

where goodness bends to die

and hope mutters incantations

behind the bars of its golden cage.

May her whispers open doors to a garden

where cowering is needless,

and all threats are vanquished

under a flaming sword.

Until then we whisper of laziness

and chosen despair,

pull the instruments of change from our bones

to erect walls and barbed wire,

cut off our lips to stuff into our ears.

 

Poor dears,

our world has become a pit of jailers

holding ourselves at gunpoint

wondering why no one speaks up.

The Price of Stardust

I’m not interested in watching figures

accumulate on a back-lit screen,

the modern day fairy tale,

perceiving abundance in counting zeros.

I try to outrun the voices

of well-meaning role models

who sit on both sides of

a whole neighbourhood of fences,

whispering the soundest of advice

while I’m just laying the foundation

of a Lego brick fort to hold my opinions.

I’m not interested in money.

When I lean in for the sound of my own voice,

spoken in code decipherable

only by the white noise of 3am,

worry seems as distant as a memory

looked at from underwater,

yet I walk bent over from

the headlock fear has me in.

We make for a comical pair:

me hunched, doing mental math

and muttering numbers at the ground,

him giggling at my dogged persistence

and eating Cheetos so orange flakes

collect in my hair.

I never wanted to be rich.

I want to dance in a red dress

through a golden sky,

to count all the stardust I will never own;

to have the freedom to look

as long as my eyes allow, at the sun.

I want to pull coins from my pockets

and see them turn to rocks in my hands,

throw them to the lake

and see all the waters rise with their weight,

just that little bit.

That would be enough.

Does someone have a estimate for that?

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

 

 

Letter to My Little Brother

Little Brother,

I know you’re scared.

I know the world has handed you

an outline of the life

you’re expected to live,

placed stickers shaped like

black footprints on the floor

in front of you and declared,

March.

And you, Little Brother,

with wide eyes and sweaty palms,

still stand looking at the floor.

When was it our feet became glued

and stapled to the things we know for sure?

The bigger we became,

the bigger the world,

in sync with us, grew,

till it towered over our tiny blonde heads,

that just yesterday

were bobbing in rock pools

and bent over acrylic paints

and blank pieces of paper.

 

I know, Little Brother,

we haven’t been getting along.

But the truth is

your fear is a mirror,

and I’m too ashamed to look

for long in your reflective gaze.

I, too, am clutching the checklist

I never asked for,

still hesitant to throw it away.

Fear, like a double-headed snake

keeps us hiding in the shadows,

crippled by what we’re told we must do,

yet desperate not to disappoint.

We never even thought to don armour together,

walk into battle side by side.

When the villain has two faces,

why wouldn’t it take two heroes to finish him?

 

Maybe the problem isn’t that

we don’t know how to move,

but that in a time where the lines

between “you” and “I”

mix into each other like vapour,

we’ve simply forgotten how to do it alone.

So Little Brother, can you try one more time

to pick up your sword?

I’ll help defend your heart,

if you help defend mine.

And perhaps with alternating

strikes and feints,

we might best the beast together

and find above what we thought

was a wreckage,

a spot to stand as one

and tell in a smile

the worries we couldn’t put aside for ourselves,

that were so easy to shed for each other.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Day 32: Snow in January

Art buds in baby roses

on the limits of my hands

reaching out for elements

until I clutch them in prayer to my lips

to save them from the crush

of closing doors.

The road ahead wavers,

horizon in the desert,

and on either side businessmen

and professionals call

the name they think is mine

with promises of things

I’m not sure I need.

And all the while

through my ribs

I hear the whisper of poetry,

sultry as red silk,

come back to bed

As the clothes fall threadbare

around my knees

and the houses get smaller,

the city streets know

the tread of my bare feet till dark.

And only then I return to four sweet walls,

remind them they are

a place to lay my head

so the words can slip into my ears

and form simple dreams.

This gentle ambition

soaked in through my pores

is growing louder than the voice

of the coward who lives in me.

And I’m beginning to trust

the questions to these answers

are already on their way,

sure as snow in January.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Day 24: As the Walls Come Down

I’m trapped in a room

because I wanted to be somewhere else,

to be anywhere but here,

and I’m punished for thinking it could be that easy.

The cage came down,

the walls began to crumble,

because I wished it be different.

I’ve only brought more pain.

I crawl, struggle, and steal

to get out of there,

out of the present,

out of the longing for things

to be anything other than what they are.

I pry open the door, leaving blood on my fingers.

 

Outside, dazed and shaken,

I reach out for comfort,

and find only disdain.

I’ve become desperate,

a weeping child, begging

for someone else to release

the monsters inside me.

 

Inside, I haven’t left,

the room still holds me prisoner.

A flash of white light

and there I am again,

back in the mess, the cage, the fear.

I breathe, try to accept my uncertain fate.

 

Perhaps the room does not punish,

but I punish myself,

in my longing and loneliness.

Maybe I am not trapped,

just fighting to live

in a place that doesn’t exist.

Can I trust this room

holds all that I need?

Can I look down and realize?

despite the cold and the chaos and the rubble,

that I’m fine.

Day 16: Sand and Snow

Think of all I miss,

locked into this box of

my worries, lusts, and mistaken identities

I could count in grains of sands,

and only fill the hourglass halfway.

Imagine the acres of faces

with open, waiting eyes,

voices raised in song,

the things which are no-things,

that stretch over the world so thin

I feel them less on my skin than snowflakes.

As they run me through

clean as an sharpened arrow

aimed at the space between my eyebrows,

they fill the gaps in the atoms,

if I’ll admit they are there.

But to let them permeate

the fortress around my thoughts

– that spilling hourglass –

guarded by the terror of what might be stolen,

I have to fight back the fight in me,

learn to walk with back bent forward

and twist heart open to the sky

at the same time.

How can my mind puzzle out the sense?

protecting as it does an empty safe,

so scared to find solace in invisible snow.

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

When Doubt Threatens Creativity

Ever doubt yourself? Ever had an idea you were so excited for, so confident about, that overtook your thoughts to the point that you had to put all else aside to work on it right then and there. THIS has to happen. I NEED to bring this into the world. 

If so, I’m sure you know that feeling a few days or a few weeks or a few months later, when the doubt creeps in:

“Maybe this idea isn’t so hot.”

“I’ll never follow it through.”

“No one will like it.”

“I’ve always failed in the past; why should this work?”

Your beloved idea, that you tell yourself you’ll come back to tomorrow when you feel more motivated, ends up tucked away in a corner or a file on your laptop, gathering dust, before it even had a chance to try its sea legs.

I’m in the stage of creeping doubt right now. An idea seemed to walk straight into my head the other day. I wanted to make things, maybe knit or bead, and sell them online, donating half of the profits to an animal charity. I love crafting, and I’m passionate about animals. It seemed the perfect way to do some service, have some fun and make a few bucks during this transitional period. I was going to call it “Pigs in Blankets” and saw visions of an Etsy store filled with legwarmers, gloves, blankets, scarves, you name it. I was texting my friends about my new business, making my poor mum drag out all her knitting gear, and looking up when Michaels’ might have a sale on yarn.

Over the next day or so I’d calmed down a little, realized blankets and legwarmers would take far too long to make, and keeping only half the profits wouldn’t nearly cover my time and materials. Jewellery was more like it, and donating a third of the profits was doable if I managed it right. So I tried out several patterns for knitted bracelets till I found one I could make easily and quickly, and that I liked the look of.

Once I found it, I was off, and I’ve spent the last two days knitting and sewing together bands, looking up charities, and trying out different beads and buttons I can finish them with.

Then came the doubt, disguised as that realistic friend who claims they’re just doing what’s best for me, but always seems to stop me moving forward and keeps me small.

“These are dorky.”

“You’re literally the only person on the planet who would wear these.”

“You’re not even good at it.”

“Look at this woman. She donates 100% of her profits to charity.”

“Who are you to do this?”

I scrambled to find something else I could make, a cooler bracelet, a stuffed animal, anything. I started wondering what had possessed me to think any of this was a good idea, who would support me in it, what I’d do when it failed?

That stopped me. Fortunately I had that split second of mindfulness to say: when it failed? I haven’t even started. What have I let get so far under my skin that it’s got me ready to quit something I enjoy, a product I like, for a cause I really believe in? And not just quit, abandon before it ever gets under way.

If you’re familiar with the work of Brené Brown, I was standing at the door of the arena when the whispers tried to pull me back and stop me from showing up.

Because at the root of all those reasons I should stop is the same thing: fear. Fear of judgement, of failure, of not having the skills, of being compared to others. Fear of not doing or being enough that is ready to swallow me whole and prevent me from doing anything at all. Thank God I recognized it long enough to step away and immediately write this post.

I don’t want fear to prevent me from showing up, especially for something I feel so strongly about. Even if it’s dorky, even if everyone hates it, even if it’s an epic failure and I end up back at square one. At least I’ll have tried. At least I’ll have brought something into the world that wasn’t here before.

At least I’ll have dared to show up.