REM Regrets

It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I’m feeling nothing is fine
Since slipping down stairs on the slime of your tears
As we stumble toward one more crime

With our pulses and tempers increasing
‘Til the drumbeats are all we can hear
With the pounding of chests just a signal at best
For there’s plenty out there now to fear

Do we dare raise an eyebrow to challenge?
Would majority views still prevail?
Those whose protesting shocks in the ballot boom box
Were a message: Society? Fail!

Is there hope for our woeful tomorrows?
Can we ever recover the cost?
Now we’re set on a course to an ending of force
May we mourn what it is that we’ve lost?

Winnipeg

Cry me a red, red river
A river of dust and bones
Of hearts that bleed and shiver
From broken and bruising homes

Blow me a kiss of willow
To echo a mourner’s moan
The ache of an empty pillow
Another child’s fate unknown

Cry me a red, red river
To fold me within its bed
And comfort the cares that slither
Through thoughts of unending dread

Bring me a message, finding
Too late what you had to face
My anger a knot, a binding
A coiling of thoughts that race

Cry me a red, red river
Reflecting a distant star
A chorus of souls, a quiver
That calls to me from afar

Paint me a cold moon rising
Surrounded by frozen waste
Still warmed by a hatred, blinding
For victims that leave no space

Cry me a red, red river
From words that no longer mean
An end to the dreams that linger
Its path a forgotten scream

Soothe me to sleep through Winter
To wake in the roar of Spring
With gifts that are carved to splinter
Where birds cannot bear to sing

Cry me a red, red river
And lay there upon this shore
The past where I long to wither
And hold you again, once more

This was written for the Red River Women.

Bobbing for pips

I am approaching the threshold of my grief
That dismal dawn where words break –
Fast over stale feelings
Like waves on a rock-ridden shore.
This stilled tongue tunes no trills for sorrow,
Sigh-chapped lips, no plosive feasts
But my ragged pen thirsts
For consonants, vowels
Forming words, eyes closed,
Half-asleep, I drift,
Tossed upon the foam
As one who drowns for air
And breathes only memory.

Ashes

To be thus reduced
Is no mean feat
No, many years’
Self-deprecation
Secret fears
Of revelation
Led to this
Profound defeat

And potted ash
In plastic bag
Awaiting our
Collective presence
To distribute
Scattered presents
Under roots
And over slag

Are neither hopeful
Gay, nor gathered
Hold no mettle
Know no solace
Barely settle
Tears like Wallace
Falling, flowing
Dread and blathered

I’d imagined
Something grander
To an ending
Unexpected
Prideful partner
Resurrected
But I’ll keep to
Lesser candour

Do another
Solemn duty
Keeping counsel
As directed
Through mistrust
Just as expected
Shroud myself
In dignity

Tomorrow’s dawn
May bring us nearer
Through the shadows
Past the post
To knowledge of
What mattered most
The future comes
A little clearer

Generic post-breakup analysis (hers)

I love your mem’ry more
Than what you were to me in life.
Though I still daydream daily
Of my role then as your wife.
I tried to do my duty
Did the best job that I could.
I think we just weren’t meant to last
Our match was not too good.
I, far too jealous would become
Without you by my side,
And you would feel quite suffocated
By my endless pride.
We’d rub each other constantly
‘Til fur would start to fly,
Then I would comfort you in shame
Each time you’d start to cry.
We never solved our problems
And yet argued without end.
I loved you as a mother
You preferred me as a friend.
So everything imploded
As things came to quite a head.
I never got to blow my top –
My reason turned you red.
We parted with great sorrow,
But, with also great relief.
For separation somehow,
Despite distance, caused no grief.
I can’t forget my lover,
Though I hear you have moved on.
We hurt each other deeply
And these feelings won’t begone.
I cannot wish you evil,
That would go against the grain.
But with your joy, I counsel
That you also bear some pain.
For one without the other,
No sense can it construct,
As concepts out of balance:
Sep’rate are just fucked.

Nauseous with nostalgia

Why on earth is it that even years after the event, I still cannot let you go?  Your lopsided smile and ugly, grinning, gurning face plague me from hour to hour.  I cannot sit in a room without smiling at some returning memory, and as warmth returns to my frozen heart, I take stock.  Weighing all of my options carefully, I balance from foot to foot, leaning this way, then that.  I am a pendulum, wavering, uncertain whether or whither to swing.  I am a clock, stopped still the day you left me, and only now beginning to find my rhythm once more.  As the shallow tick-tock of life creeps up my spine and tickles my veins into action, so the thaw begins.  I must be wary, lest my wintry organs melt to a spring flood of love, and I, swept along by my own strong current, am drowned by it.  Suffocated, helpless.  A fisher, tangled and caught in my own nets and snared by traps of my own devising, struggling to break free.  Wary indeed.  As my love for you had become a mantra – words of comfort to be spoken before sleep and upon waking; My ‘I love you’s with their reedy echo in the damp morning air, somehow growing to a rope with which to hang myself – and swing I did, groaning in pain and tormenting myself minutely with your voice, your face, your scorn, derision, pity.  Tearing myself down, piece by piece, until I had ceased to be.  Where once I stood, proud and strong, shining brightly for all to see – lay a stone.  My rougher edges smoothed to a bland pebble.  My glittering core dulled by your swell and smashed on rocks of my own choosing.  Broken and without pattern, without hope of re-making, mending, rebirth.  I lie here, and I am troubled.  That I still harbour feelings for you does not pain me or even shame me to action.  Nothing I could do to myself or to others could change that fact.  That these feelings grow stronger despite our mutual distance frightens and excites me.  I thought I had no more tears, and now I often don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I can feel again.  What I thought had to have gone forever has returned to me.  Now I find myself at a crossroads with a choice.  Do I go onward?  Or do I turn back?

The end of the affair

What now feels like a very long time ago, I said an unwilling goodbye to a friend of mine. Not one of those ‘I’ll see you when you come to your senses’ goodbyes, but a full-on, permanent, ‘Nevermore in this world’. The boy in question had chosen, without telling anyone, to shuffle off this mortal coil. I had just moved house, so I got given the good news several months after the event via his mother, who in the chaos of her own grief, had managed to lose my address.
For various reasons, for which I later felt extremely guilty, I was unable to visit. I had missed the funeral, and in any case, I didn’t really know his family that well, so I wasn’t comfortable intruding on their grief to assuage my own.
Mourning is a strange, and very personal process. People do it in all sorts of different ways. The letter I received from his mother on black-edged notepaper was testament to how well she was faring under tremendous pressure. It took me three hours to decipher the handwriting, let alone allow the meaning of her words to sink in. I spent those three hours in the laundry-room in the basement of the building, with a pile of rapidly diminishing dirty washing, deafened by the noise of the industrial-sized machines, slowly coming to the realization that I would never see my friend again. Life would not be the same without him.
Letting go of someone who has been an almost daily long-distance fixture in your life for several years is difficult. As we were living in different countries, we mainly spoke via the net or by post, usually in the evenings. That year he had been transferred by work to another location just before I moved house, so there had been a break in communications while we both sorted our lives out, during which we sent each other a couple of brief postcards, but nothing serious in the way of deep and meaningful communication. I had no clue he was depressed. None whatsoever. His actions came as a complete shock to me.
You read all sorts of stories about suicides in the papers, usually villifying their so-called friends who were too wrapped up in their own lives and problems to notice someone they cared about was losing the struggle with theirs, and you wonder whether they chose the path they did because you were a bad friend…?
Survivor guilt is not limited to extreme situations such as war or genocide. It occurs in daily life as part of the grieving process. You wonder about the strangest things. ‘There but for the grace of… what? Why wasn’t it me and not him?’ You puzzle over personality traits, ponder what makes someone strong, whether suicide means strength or weakness… These internal debates can last a lifetime without you discovering the answers, and if you let them, they can take over your life.
His mother gave me some strange advice at the end of her letter. She told me to forget all about her son, to ignore what had happened, and to go on with my own life, to live it to the full and to follow all my dreams.
I read her letter over and over for three weeks before I replied to it. I couldn’t find words to say what needed to be said, and nor could I reconcile what needed saying for the sake of convention with what I wanted to say.
I was angry at her for telling me to forget my friend. I couldn’t understand why she would demand that I obliterate all trace of someone who had already left the land of the living. I wondered at the time if she was ashamed of what had happened. I wondered if she was worried as a Catholic about the eternal damnation of her determinedly and avowedly atheist son. I wondered about a lot of things, and I took his photos off the wall in my study and put them in the back of my diary.
I carried him with me for five years, occasionally taking them out to look at them and remember. To remember his advice, his smile, the crazy things he did when he was drunk. To try not to forget, not to let go. I wanted some memory of him to stay with me, a souvenir for this world of a friendship long since dissolved.
And now I have put the diary in a drawer. Somehow I know that I no longer need to carry these physical remnants from the life of someone who is still very much a part of me. I have memories (albeit blurry ones these days) of him which will eventually fade, and I am content to let them do so. I know that he made his mark on the world because he made his mark on me, on my personality, and I need no greater reminder. The way that my mind continues to work is tribute enough.
Goodnight, mon chevalier,
ta princesse
Katherine