Did I ever tell you
she tastes of licorice?
And sometimes French brandy
the hairs on her arm
the nape of her neck
a night time covenant
when she sleeps
I long to unwind the ebony coils of her hair
run my fingers along the parabel of her shoulder blades
To know a woman
to love a woman
you must forgive your impatience
to possess what cannot be tamed or owned
you must relinquish the idea
you’re ever going to be in control
she is a faithless word seeking light
her tongue thirsting for your nectar
if you look away too long she will move on
to another flower
such is the delicacy of love
ephemeral and without weight
it skips like a hungered heart
for the right claimant.
it took me
walking on my knees through burning desert
composing words of love in my mind
attuned to her ficklety like
a cage without hinges
I drink in the sight of her
turning a corner, magnified in three way mirrors
like harpsichord strung hummingbird
lasting just a season.
In the night she sleeps
a cool blade
reminder of a child’s memory
the Italian store and how thinly
they carved meat
till held to light it appeared
as a moth
blue and changing
against the moon
In the New Year I am going to do something drastic. I’m going to close all my social media down and take the majority of my books/work offline/out of bookstores. The work that will remain is what I’m most proud of; SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like (an anthology, 2019), We Will Not Be Silenced (one of 4 editors/contributors, 2018) and Pinch the Lock (Finishing Line Press, 2016).
When I began, I really believed I could contribute something valuable to the world through the medium of writing. I saw many other people trying but I did not know how many and since 2015 I have seen that there is a glut of people all self-publishing, indie publishing, small press publishing, all with the same ‘dream’ of being a legit writer. Mostly wasting hours on social media futilely. I realize 99.9 percent will never be. The only ones who can do it are those on disability, who get a cheque without needing to work, or supported by husband/wife/family or you’re a retiree. If you DO have to work for a living then it’s rare you can put in enough work to even get to the indie publishing stage.
There are exceptions. One of my real friends whom I did meet on social media works full time and is one of the hardest workers I know. She will succeed I have no doubt about it. She goes home from a hard days work and produces consistently some of the best work I’ve read online. People like her are rare. They are one in a million. Others have the talent to do it but it will depend upon if they have the time to make it happen (you know who you are) but the vast majority have neither the talent, nor the ability to make it happen.
When I began writing I thought I was a pretty good writer. When you read some of the stuff online it’s easy to see why I thought that, a lot of it is really poor quality. On the other hand you need to be either absolutely brilliant or someone who is in the know, to get a really big publisher. I am neither absolutely brilliant nor ever going to be someone who is in the know/networked up to the hilt. Even those who everyone talks about as having a ‘good publisher’ actually don’t. They just secretly vanity press pay or exaggerate how much they actually earn. To earn a living wage as a writer unless you are an editor, it’s the 1 percent of the 1 percent.
I don’t want to be an editor. It’s a thankless job and underpaid. I have qualifications and I am going to use those and return to my previous career, hard as it is, it can earn me what I will need to take care of myself in the future. Maybe no job will be different, maybe I will always be taken for granted and used but I want to do it on my own terms. I have always supported myself from the age of 18 and I always will until I cannot any longer. I have never had any help.
Lastly, most of you don’t know but I was recently diagnosed with a very serious eye-condition that means I am losing my sight. I realize I have to adjust NOW rather than when it is completely gone. I doubt I will still want to live if I go completely blind and I have decided if that day comes I will elect for euthanasia as I am not someone who wishes to live as a completely blind person. Especially as I have no family who will care for me. However, if that day doesn’t come or it gives me 20 more years, (which is unlikely) I still need to change my life to ensure my eyes do not worsen.
As some of you know I had battled a serious illness in 2017 which radically changed my life. It was caused by a virus and I am still sick with it but I have learned to live with it and am high functioning despite it not having completely gone. I believe it will one day completely go but it is a long painful battle. I thought that was enough to deal with but in addition to this my mother told me she no longer wanted me in her life ever again. She and I have had our ups and downs but naively I thought as she aged we would get closer. I have always loved her very much even though she was not in my life that much. When she told me this during my illness, effectively kicking me when I was down, it was the last straw. She knew she’d hurt me as badly as she could ever hope for. She succeeded. To protect myself I accepted what she said and have tried to get on with my life knowing she will not be part of it. It has hardened me and I am bitter about it but I will never be as cruel to someone else as that. I will never succumb to cruelty to deal with my own pain.
On a positive note, I am stronger for all of this. But having the eye sight issue on TOP of all of the above, was just too much. I do have it in me to change my life. I have decided to once more change my life. I am not going to carry around the rejection, fear and grief of her hate of me or anything else, anymore. When I began my blog/writing in 2015 I felt it was a chance to try my hand at writing. I don’t regret doing that but I see now realistically I have to move on.
If you know me, truly know me, and have my number and my address and we talk, then I am bound to call you real friend and will keep in touch. When you get sick you realize who your friends are and it is a good clarity. For those of you I call friends thank you for your friendship and I hope we keep in touch. We may not as we may no longer have anything in common but I wish you all much success.
SMITTEN will be my last personal project in the publishing world for the foreseeable future, although I have also been involved in YOU DON’T LOOK SICK and hope Indie Blu(e) recognizes me for that when it is published next year. SMITTEN is a wonderful ending to this chapter in my life. It is a testimony to the talent of women when they come together. Just because we are minorities doesn’t mean we support each other and lift each other up. I hope projects like SMITTEN help future women do JUST THAT because THAT is what is needed. We need to be good to one another! To support one another!
I want to personally thank the following whom I have met on WP for their loyalty, friendship, goodness and inspiration. I think you are incredible human beings; Mark. Eric. Derrick. Bob. Crystal. Erik. Jane. Karen. Raili, Rita. Susi. Anthony. Laurie, Tony. Nicole. Tara. Helena. Philip. Sarah. Tremaine & Monique. Thank you to Christine and Kindra for letting me work for Indie Blu(e) I really hope all the work I did helped and you succeed. Rita.
RIP Natalie Scarberry you are loved.
Thank you to anyone who read anything of mine. I appreciate you. I wish you only the best.
Candice Louisa Daquin
When I’m not telling people
I am the least competitive person you’ll meet
I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema
I am nevertheless, competing with myself
the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole
appears to be my greatest talent
should they look me up in the dictionary
I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero
it began before words were formed, a slow
incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies
of my relatives
a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty
denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach
was more than a night terror
swimming for medals was competitive after all but
didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded
like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget
noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city
swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found
among cast-off plasters.
Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened
by sandwich of pain in my gut or how
no-one for me sitting among keening spectators
when I came up for air.
Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it
perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house
with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.
When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl
I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy
kid shoes against linoleum hallways
what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated
we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the
shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?
We learn the company of other Reparates
is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot
make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling
soon I gave up trying for A’s
locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends
instead of this disinterested girl
briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater
but coming up for air was much harder.
I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined
surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds
battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world
I rarely visit
it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with
the shifting skin of me
something that happens when you begin to leach
that essence of youth and vigor
realizing, if you can make it out of bed today
you’re doing better than the day before.
I hear in my head, the scold of my mother
who believed I gave myself this illness
and much as they’ve told me that’s madness
I am often found returning to those words
as if they have some clammy power over me
which of course, they do.
I know I was well and then I was not
just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity
or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage
it’s a day when colors and sounds change
in this case, terror walked into my throat
sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.
Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those
paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores
put them in water and watch them bloom
only long enough before turning to ink and
wet tree pulp
it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than
those you expect
angry with yourself for not learning sooner
expectation leads to disappointment.
This could be why I didn’t
enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)
better to stay low and wait it out until
you can have your turn
only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left
then it’s almost too late and you have to change
Nowadays I compete with myself
can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?
Will it matter if I do?
What happens afterward?
Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird
I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart
Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’
perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but
something lovely, I can only hope
though my body likes to punch me in the gut
as I fall asleep and try to dream
thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice
this was something you did wrong
thump, thump, thump, my own voice
no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around
even getting half way there would be some kind
which is why I always said it’s not about winning
but making the effort
to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.
Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between
throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying
maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see
I’m not from here, I don’t belong
though where I came from I hardly know anymore
so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw
with every passing year I realize
I can’t win, I but I will fight
MAKE ME I whisper to myself
bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.
You don’t need to tell the doctor why
your heart beats at 95 bpm despite
your quietude or
how the rose
lost its coral petals to dust.
You don’t need to tell the doctor how
laughter used to come unbidden and often
like a bright stream of rainbow fish
catching sun’s rays
til darkness spread her feathery fingers
blocking out light like a single word
You don’t need to tell the doctor who
it was, left you crumpled and derelict
in throes of grief beside
the memory it was not always
this cruel or this bitter
You don’t need to tell the doctor if
recovery is lost, for he guages truth
written across your face as any
horror shall permanently stain
an indelible fingerprint of
you say nothing and if you say nothing
it doesn’t exist
you can go on pretending
with your crossed legs and empty arms
the barren effigy of loss
rending its blades
behind your eyes as
you stare forward facing
a mannequin to your own life
to hold yourself up
one day in the future they will come up with little pills and little bottles
to ‘cure’ this illness when it is not
but something made of fibers
unseen to the eye
that set you off galloping
one day you sit quiet and rested in the sun
and just a little thing can start it all
the discrepancy of something said
the feeling of being on the outside looking in
a lie you cannot call someone out for
because they have more lies than you’ll ever
have room for
so you turn
without even thinking
and run in the opposite direction
shut down close off
never give them a second thought
it is the protection of the flower
who must open daily
and close when it is dark
she can be so sudden in her dismissal
it’s what she knows best of all
that feeling of nothing
that familiarity of naught
and if it happens they’ll eventually
call it an illness
but it’s no more sick than
stones who adapt to water
if I happen to
switch off and stop
I won’t be coming back
and it’s only the ones who
claim the deepest of my heart
whom I cannot stand to reject
who stay with me til the end
burrowed in my being
where few can ever find
What was it about you?
let yourself right away in
demolished every rule, every tendency I had
an exception we bow asunder to
feathers gleaming against cold sunlight
I’ve been told I’m a chronic pain in the ass
after all, it’s easy to destroy a child in an adult’s body
with past-tense words
and now in the time I’m meant to be at my strongest
chronic has visited me and stayed a long while
on a good day I think; This will not be forever
but temporary has always been a long way off
the doctors love to tell us; It’s incurable, get used to
living like this, hostage to something unknown and strange
as if that’s a normal thing to do
but if enough of us live with chronic illness, it will become normal
and that is not a good thing.
Before this …
I took chances, because you think
I’m invulnerable, sometimes I can fly
health, you take for granted
though I truly convinced myself, I had checked the boxes
right weight, exercise, organic, vegetables, no pre-made meals
(well, this is what I told my doctor, sometimes a couch counts as exercise, right?)
if I ate a slice of pizza, it was a treat with friends
though I like root beer, I never drank it
maybe making up for cigarettes, smoked in my twenties
but I thought if I keep jogging, if I keep living healthily
I won’t be felled, because you ARE WHAT YOU EAT.
A few months before I got sick, I recall
feeling strong, climbing through snow drifts and laughing
boundless energy, working long hours, feeling intensely alive
people saying; you look so healthy, your skin is radiant!
Those are not things people say now, unless
I apply a lot of make-up, to camouflage my fraying edges
instead it is me, who declines invitations
I am sorry I cannot go with you to eat, even though eating out
is the number one leisure activity where I live
because my stomach is ruined and I cannot digest much
I live plain and simple (and boring), like a nun and I am numbed
to the pleasures of wine and sauces and garlic, spices and oils
not recognizing my bloated mid section in the mirror
from the girl who once was told
she had an hour-glass figure, with a wasp waist
could run for buses and catch them in three-inch heals.
I know everyone has their burden
but when you get sick and it doesn’t go away
life becomes a series of scolds and let downs
you find out who really loves you and who harbored an anger
used the opportunity of your downfall, to insert a knife
it is the cowards way of course, but freedom of sorts
for none of us need, that kind of negativity in our lives
there is a blessing in disguise, when you find your tribe
the people who care and know the real you
not wanting to tear you apart, because it’s easy to kick you when you’re down.
But blessings do not salvage, the hours you spend sickening
remembering how you were rarely felled in past years
strong of body, sound of mind, juicing and walking ten miles
everything is turned upside down, inside out when you find
a burnt fuse, at the end of your outstretched arm.
There is no cure, there is no future
when you live, in a jar for the jarring
for a long while, I blamed myself
maybe in part, because someone I trusted told me;
“It is your fault, you must have somehow caused it”
easy to throw stones, at glass houses
I was a glass house, with many windows
break one and I cannot repair it
the wind will come in and make of my space
the sun will come in and make of my peace
Those things that brought me joy, were gone
instead, the regiment of illness strode in and stood firm
you cannot feel passion, when you are sick
ageing in hours, rather than decades, trying to stay above water
it is hard to feel hope
you rely upon the kindness of others
which is hard to do, if you are not used to it
and when they lift you to the light, you promise
if I can recover, I will try ever so hard to never be ungrateful
but with every mercy, is a dark day in hell
those days take it all out of you, like a scourge
the sickening can age you, more than a nightmare
one minute you recognize yourself, the next you are unknown
vulnerability, of not being able to take care of yourself
the expense and fear
your world crumbling around you.
These are things you get used to and when you have fallen
to the bottom and can no longer get up
that is where the truth lies
that is where you can find
your true self and the end of fear.
They tried to tell you that you were insane
making it up, all in your head, something’s wrong with that
crazy lady who pounds her fluttering chest in vain
tries to catch the eyes of doctors, with beseeching side-glance
SEE ME! HEAL ME! SAVE ME! WHAT IS WRONG?
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME? WHY DID I WAKE UP ONE DAY
SICK AND IT NEVER WENT AWAY?
And yes ! Something was wrong with me and still is
not my doing, not my causing, not my dreaming
despite you saying; You bothered us, when you called and were upset
no mercy, no mercy, no mercy, that is not love.
Helped me let go. Don’t hold on to negativity.
Oh doctor, get it outt!
and if you can’t, then give me the key, the saw, the pick
so I may survive myself and somehow continue on.
Am I to label myself chronically ill, or in recovery?
Surviving or dying or all of the above?
how do you define what doesn’t go and doesn’t kill?
Spending all your money on alternative treatments that
don’t even know what they pretend to cure
how do you describe one good day, followed by one in hell?
others won’t understand, because they are well
what I would give to return, to that safe water place
but even if I did, I would not be the same
you live years with a loaded gun to your head, everything changes.
I am not me anymore
I cannot see out of my left eye
I cannot lift heavy things, with my weak foreign arms
I can walk ten miles and not break a sweat despite this and be told
by friends and foes; OH YOU DON’T LOOK SICK
I am an apparent scar of contradictions and pain
I hurt every day, my stomach feels like
something is eating me from the inside out
it convulses and retorts and shouts
“you will never win, you will bathe in pain the rest of your life”
but I will still try
because I don’t know how to give in to enemies, I cannot see
and even as I cannot eat normal food
one day I am good, the next I am dying green
even as nausea, has become my constant companion
and bottles of pills and vitamins rattle in my pit
even as I fight to be gracious in the eye of the storm
and those I thought would stand by me, try to drown me instead
I know there is still a moment
I am well enough to remember who I am
never to find that peace of mind again
but maybe recover to another state of being.
I wake in the night covered in sweat and the disinterested doctor says
“get used to not sleeping, get used to all of this, it is what you must suffer and many others do”
as if it is normal to be like this, as if it is something we should not mention
I will never think it is normal to be hijacked!
I jog into the forest, because it reminds me I am still living, my feet still work
I fight with wilted hands, when they tell me there is no hope
that I should just consign my former glories to a picture album and put
my feet up for a fifty year occupation of sofas and couches and day time oblivion
because THE POWER OF ME can overcome the power of negativity and this I believe
as I see in the mirror a girl who doubts but stares back unblinking.
I have lost my will at times
I do not write as much, I have less energy
the last time I had a romantic dinner was in a dream and I
sleep with a heating pad on my stomach every night instead of a lover
but I still pay my own way and my own bills
I have a pride in pushing back against status quo
DEFYING the prescription of HOPELESSNESS.
they tell me go on disability. Just give up
I am not going anywhere, but to the finish line
by losing everything and having nothing but
the sheer will and dim light of my existence
I can do this without those I thought I had in my corner
because I am stronger than I realized
and this grieves me, as well as reassures me
but I come from a long line of stoic, strong women
and it seems sicker than I am, that we should hate each other
because life, surely we have found out, is fragile
and love is all that makes sense
but even without love I will continue and not
let the flame go out.
Sometimes I ask myself why?
why not just give in? Take the knife, swallow the pill
to oblivion or some non-sign-posted destination
I don’t have children to protect
it would be easy to slip out of this world and its sword edge of pain
but somehow I feel I should protect myself
maybe because others did not
maybe because you defend yourself in the end
when everything else is fallen and you are still
I am weak and tired and prematurely aged into
a hunched over version of myself
hair greying with shock, skin is sloughing off and my
body is tied to the rhythm of a sickness that purges and gluts
I was told this kind of disorder was permanent
but nothing I have found, is ever guaranteed
so I have chosen to ignore this and believe
we can all fight and overcome
even a death sentence
and when we know this
when we are strong for our weakness
realize our tears are just water and salt
burning the frustration of our visiting menace
then, we know nothing can hurt us, more than it already has
and we are free to dream
of a future without so much pain
where death stands to the side and lets us regain
some of our former dignity
for there is nothing dignified in sickness
and you don’t know me when you said I was glamorous
that is the last thing I am
I am beautiful for my courage
beautiful for my fear
beautiful for my survival
beautiful for my defeat
beautiful for my mercy of those who have no mercy for me.
And life is a wax and a wane
life is a torture and a friend
I am the totem of my own branding
I may live in a time where nobody else of my kith and kin remain
and once that would have filled me with pain
now I know you cannot rely upon
labels of safety
it is only by looking into the hearts of those
who stayed by your side when the storm hit
even if it is one, even if it is naught
you remain behind
the tempest cannot roar forever
eventually even agony ceases.
I wish now, to be everything you were not
to love others unconditionally
care for those who are in need
be the change I want to see
I want to find myself
at the end of all of this
I want to tell you, sickness
you do not win
you are just a miasma
I am a spirit with a soul
I will endure you
the me, of me, will remain
long after, to remember her worth.
Before this all began and through it, learned
only the fierce remain
only those willing to FEEL
and not those who run from feeling
with the ease of the damned.