I AM A TOTEM OF MY OWN BRANDING

pexels-photo-573298

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

chaos

the sun will come in and make of my peace

madness.

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

I learned

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

somehow, standing.

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

anything

even a death sentence

even betrayal

even silence

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.

Advertisements

Anthology – accepting poems

Indie Blu(e) Publishing will be releasing an Anthology of Lesbian Poets later in 2019. Themes of this Anthology will include identity, coming out, relationship, family, love, loss, and sensuality (rather than graphic erotica.) The deadline for submissions is June 16, 2019. Submissions can be sent directly to candicedaquin@gmail.com and should be accompanied by a brief biography not to exceed 75 words.

The maximum number of submissions per writer is FIVE.

Writing should be submitted as a Word or PDF attachment. If you choose to submit a poetry meme, the meme must be accompanied by the text in a Word or PDF version.

Artwork for the Anthology is also being accepted and must be able to be reproduced clearly in black and white.

Questions? Contact Candice Daquin at candicedaquin@gmail.com.

Thank you for your interest.

From the outskirts of safety

A child whose concave chest was already filled with debris

had been told she contained no worth

that child grew up soon enough to an adult with

penchant for self-hatred and did not master, necessary ladders and confidence

she could observe herself holding back, broken pieces unformed and bad

not supporting a part of her who wished to climb

and believe those good things to try her hardest

she saw others with so much faith and belief

light footed reach their goals and she saw the disappointment in others eyes when her own

efforts were hardly made

she left really, no significant imprint

of course, because of this, she became a poet

and that poet, if you can call someone who simply writes

such a thing

I would argue, it takes more than writing poetry to be a poet but that is another story …

had become lost in her years of wandering, to the point where

looking in the mirror she did not see herself anymore, but a shadow

perhaps a wraith or something strange, replacing whom she’d seen

as a child when there were posibilities and futures worthy of reaching

these years later, she stares at the shapes in her face

the ancestry printed there like leopard skin

where her mother changes to her grandmother and her father

and back again

and in this face she sees the excuses and the weak blood

of people she knew and loved and she sees the strength and the fire

of which she has none, as if she caught a glimpse of who she could have favored

and then it was removed, blotted out in a great gush of time and immobility

a few years ago she had suffered under an illusion of being on the cusp of something, finally

after years of working toward it, many hours, lost in pursuit

for a time it helped her to believe she was about to reach this new dawn

until like all the other times, she’d hoped, it was revealed to be no more than potent delusion

and that feeling, when you take the canvas off the future and find

nothing there but the madness of bewitched fantasy

in the hands of one who has become old and wretched in her walk

and you turn around and nobody is there anymore

only the echoes of those who told you, turn away, choose a different path

she would have spoken to her mother and said; You were right …

all the hate you felt, all the bitterness and disappointment, you were right

I did not amount of anything and whilst love should not be based upon

such things, I can see why I held nothing for you, but a wish to remove

my existence from your timeline and walk alone without reminder

of someone you birthed, who gave you only regrets

if you think I do not understand and only feel anger, you are wrong

when you left, I only hated myself and this is how I have always been

hating myself for existing and the way I am

from the time I can recall, I did not fit or understand

it was as if I had only foolishness as my guide and could not

make the right decisions, I longed then to be loved and to take away

the pain I felt ever present in myself like a badly mixed cake

will not rise.

I dreamed then of finding somewhere to be, a place to belong

where being me would feel right and you didn’t lie when you said

I pretended to be anything but myself, in such savage, unrelenting self-hated

I’m sorry what came from you turned into me.

All this is true and now, when it’s all been stripped down

and I stood unable to see, losing my eyesight, losing my courage and my clamor

to a wasting disease that refuses to leave my side

I begged for loyalty and it came, curling itself

around my useless frame until I hardly knew where

I began and it left, in that savage garden

where roses did not bloom and birds did not sing

I flung the doors of the asylum open and asked

what do I learn from standing on this presipice?

where would you have me go? When I never belong

and my trudge through life thus far has been without sense

it has added to the waste I felt about it all, and a long history

of dreamers who end their dreaming in front of walls

staring at bricks thinking something should surely

transform

no, no we are who we are and though we may run and hide

change ourseles and pretend to be what we desired

the truth cannot be avoided, a price is always exorted

I lost those I loved most

I lost the belief I could be loved

the safety we take for granted as children

my invulnerability struck out and destroyed

I knew my own mortality as clear as day

the rent of owing for our lives, that fragile place

where in an instant, all is lost

I never returned from that shore

I am still there, staring at mellow, sinking sun

and my own diminishment

for now I know my end and the dimming of time

I see in this act, the way of things, finally

how easily we fall and cannot get up

the temper of illness refusing to move on

polluting what we once took for granted

and gone is the boon of youth and health

all we believed fervently in

the promises of others, to never leave our side

THEY LIED

now we are alone in that echoing dark place

count the broken vows, the ruined trust

it falls like toxic rain

reminding me of nothing and everything and emptiness

a weak part of me wishes to reach out and cry

don’t, please don’t

but I know the permanancy of fate

where I have led myself in circles, ever diminishing

it comes as no surprise, in a funny way

for all the hard work and the devotion

I was as blind, as I was unseeing

perhaps from the start, born inside out

where everything I felt too much and not enough

my memory fades along with my sight

the thunder in my heart feels like horses are breaking me beneath their hooves

again and again, with each returning gallop

that pain is the only thing, I know will stay

as it was then, in my little room with teddies and demons

where first I felt the fear and the unknown

creep toward me from the outskirts of safety

and this time, I hear my grandmothers voice

she tries to reassure me, all will be well but

she lied then, as she lies now

and all that stands outside is the darkness of coal and memories

and all who comes for me now are the shadows and enemies

for I have passed over to a wasteland of regret

even my words are turning to dust

even my sense has fled

I expect the last thought I will have

as I sink underground, feeling grit in my mouth

is the memory of your kiss and how

for just, that one moment, I believed

this was not my hollow passage

sometimes what you loved the most

is that which kills you cold

for the reflection of it is like a moon

in a dark place

taunting the prisoner

in her opulescence

oh how I hate to know

the lines and whorls of my life like a palm

stretching their futile trajectories like dying stars

wishing never to have been born

The affiliate of memory

bb

Die is cast

thrown and tumbled

woman is born a girl

girl is born a woman

when she is young, learning to tie bows in sensible brown shoes

spit and shine, tighten pigtail, don’t get your bobby socks dirty

what does she know of her future?

when then, what hour marks, her turning, her awareness?

the tempora fragility of her succulent heart

will she be like her grandmother, a blubbering mess?

able to condone slithered evil in the hands of her husband?

look the other way, for her choices are meager

will she be like her mother, a loyal lover?

seeking a man willing to hold her closer to the sun

melt Icarus, melt, till you can stand the radiance no longer

but what of your child? The one you think is poison and deadly nightshade

what will she be like? In that wicked knowing?

when after-birth is dried and shell chewed to starlight

and she stands tall and unversed like a question mark

when she wants to scream out;

whydontyoufeellikeido?

whydontyouwanttoscreamwheneveryoneelseislaughing?

she’s the burnt slice of toast grown cold on countertop

everyone else is easy in the sun like white wheat and blackcurrant

they shine in their shingled merge

children thread their way through oboe chair-backs like grass snakes

the meadow flowers droop in her sweaty palm

she’d gift her indigo heart if it were taken or sensical

learning many years ago

don’t lend, what you can’t live without

she has enough air to fake it for fifteen minutes, then she’s out

caught in the idling headlamps of smoky cars

no destination

just drive

far

to escape those pitch eyes, drained of regard

the ease with which you are

the ease with which you are

in the loosening of your need

an affiliate of memory

put in glass jars along with sugar

watching you lean now, so evenly

toward tomorrow’s sun

By one who feels

8d5642a56ebcf2178de5ab61d9c73a75

for indifference is the sharpest

knife of the set

worse than anger which requires some care

and love that turns on her heel constantly

like a feathered Cuban girl in 1930s Havana

smiling, til her cheeks ache with sheer

marvelous spectacle

it’s been some years since I danced for you

from shadows to light and back again

fooling myself into beauty, rendering

moments stamped in both our minds

for the joy of the unbound

my feet hennaed like an Indian wedding bride

your fingers possessed of music and silver rings

we wove our limbs together as plaited bread

baked in the glory of that unbroken hour

before ochre sun’s urgent assent and chime

of other people began lowing in impatient light

there is something about darkness I have always

felt contained magic and even if others do not see

I taste it on my tongue

I run my hands along

its quiet shining surface

much like a lake swallowing

a stone when thrown

with all the violence known

by one who feels

everything

Grace

143b75846d2aca92

If I am anything at all

I am yours

as the sun seeks the center of day to roar her rays

and sake world in golden waves

as earth breaks apart and mountains form

beneath water like temples surge

as your eyes hold me in their sway

the black of them, the holy place

as life lives beneath my skin

only when you seem to exist

there are times

captured and lost

never truly revealed

beyond our understanding

a chime of circumstance and gods

you are the priest to my implore

a song sung in aching hour

the fingers I let loose my soul

you are my gravity

you with your violet and your indigo

soul

there are places so beautiful my breath is stole

yet nothing, nothing, nothing I have beheld

can take the place of you in my heart

you are the missing part

you are the beginning and the circumference

even as I feel your knife

I cleave that much closer

it is my ritual to seek only

that place I call home within your own

we came from the same place in time

I was born of your need to be eternal

without proof of life

I exist and I perish

upon your word

you, the one I turn

you, the birth of me

you, the missing link

you, the key I wear

around my being

let me or deny me

I seek despite myself just one

who will never diminish nor could be

equalled in my heart

for some of us are old fashioned in devotion

a thorn could not penetrate more

that sea within me carrying your salt

if stained glass were more radiant

if storms could pulse with pinkening lore

if the world could find words for such things

I would still be

bare foot running the long mile separating now and then

then when you were my everything

now in the absence of peace

hither no meaning made itself known

for only in your arms I know

that steady belief and spiritual home

strike me dead the day I quit my faith

you are my goodness, you are

my grace

Turkish delight

alexander-yakovlev-dancers-everythingwithatwist-17I didn’t have time to un-knot my hair or brush it down

it used to hang to my thighs and I had to cut it

when the sickness came and I was green with bile

all those years I held my hair as my calling card

for I had nothing else

so when you see me this way you know

I’m not pretending anything anymore, this is me

this is the girl you once loved

I remember thinking I was old back then

what a laugh

and time is a cordial of horrors and trickery

what we need to know is, it’s all in the eye of the beholder

so if I feel tired and beat up now, remember, I tell myself

in ten years I will rue the day I forgot to dance

I dance now

bare footed with dirty soles

to the memories of

our liquid union

and planes do not fall out of the sky

the day is quiet

despite the tornado in my mind

I would let you in and not let you out

shut inside me like a favorite book

chapter marked by the sinew of my want

clasp you tightly with my muscular need to belong

within your kaleidoscope, a star in your universe

behind these accoutrements and forbids  I burn electric

you never get too old for longing

I want you to take me in your arms

crush me into sugared pieces

eat each one and never spit me out

I want to become you and stay

inside your candied warmth

where amber things are less real

set in time to wait out storm

but you care about them more

as part of your compass, to set your destination

I was born of your desire

I am now without wing

soon I will fade into pieces

and nobody will pick them up to eat