A reckless promise made
To someone I barely knew
An obvious mistake the second they
Decided it was time to make good
On something said in jest
The time a good friend
Sat me down to make me learn
A life lesson I would have walked
Naked through the desert
To avoid ever knowing
The time I decided it was my duty
To leave things in a better condition
By attempting to explain a toxic
To the deliberately deaf
The times I took jobs I knew would be awful
Because I couldn't let myself believe
There would be anything better around the corner
The times I stayed in them
The times I turned the other cheek
The one time I was naïve enough
To stand up for myself
Only to be shot down
In a vicious character assassination
By someone I trusted not to abuse their position of power
The time I was attacked in the street
For being in the wrong place at the wrong time
And observing some nefarious activity
In which I had less than zero interest
Following a truly lousy evening
The times I was groped on the bus
And couldn't bring myself
To make a loud scene
Cursing myself for cowardice
As much as the perpetrator
The times I listened to my detractors
More than my supporters (always, sorry).
Most of them live in my head
It gets hard to avoid their commentary
The time I tried to explain my surprise
At the coloured anatomy of cats
Over board games, while tipsy
Offending my best friend's husband
So badly he refused to visit for seven months
The time I let my conscience overrule social norms
The time I spoke the unfiltered truth
Without thinking, sleep deprived
Beyond the wit of my audience
And suffered for it
The time I dropped my phone in the street
But failed to hang up on the grandmother
Who never forgave me
A single lapse in a public setting
The time I couldn’t help my father, dying of a heart attack
Because I was half-way to a funeral for another relative
At the other end of the country
He still whispers to me of his disappointment
Late at night when I can't sleep.
I am sorry, dad. I tried.
Nothing I did or did not do
Would ever have been good enough
In that moment
Made for regret
The time I believed a loved one’s lies
More fool me
Twice, three times, staying
Until I told myself it was the right moment
To walk away
The time I couldn’t believe
Someone's personal truth
Despite understanding all the small ways
In which we are blinkered
By our own experiences
For once I found it hard to see
Through someone else's eyes
And tried to fill in the blanks
Meaning two plus two
Made minus five
The time I blurted out a correction
And ruined a first impression
In front of strangers
Because my inner perfectionist
Refused to suffer a lie
The million times I could not bring myself to say no
For fear of hurting the feelings
Of someone who lacked the same consideration
For my own
Assuming they were my equal
The time I called the police because my neighbour
Was being beaten by her partner
The time the despatcher didn't care
And I did not challenge their callous response
Because I was too concerned that help arrive quickly
The times I have swallowed my pride, my words,
Bottled up my feelings, ignoring the knots
In my gut at the wrongness of what I knew
I was about to sacrifice - my dignity
My sense of self
All these times call to me on repeat
Those grey days when I am feeling
'Lower than a snake's ass'
As my other grandma used to say
Rudderless, unworthy of love
And now, at almost forty
What is all this worth, this much regret?
We live and learn
Perhaps the real problem is
I do not know the answer yet.
I miss my youth, I spent it ill,
I every duty did fulfil.
Honoured my father and my mother,
Was a model for my brother.
Such example gave to all,
I had no fun, no, none at all!
And now I find me looking sad
When others pass by, young and glad.
I didn’t see, how could I know
How soon I’d lose my youthful glow?
And when the time would come for me
To bear responsibility.
I’m not yet old, I’ll say that now,
But gone’s the age I still could vow
To love some fool to end of time
Without a reason or a rhyme.
I miss my youth, yes that I do,
But fear if I were young anew
I’d do just as I did before
And end the same. Tho’ I deplore
The rash behaviour of the young
Both then and now, I’ll choose the fun.
And try to build, each day that’s passed
Some crazy mem’ries that will last.
I did to another what he did to me
But revenge tasted bitter – not my cup of tea.
My regret was so great for the wrong I had done
That I gave him the option to hurt me again.
A circle I started, one vicious and sad.
I waltzed him around – yes, the ending was bad
For greater mistakes I made far more than he
In repeating the woes they returned back times three.
Such discord I sowed as I tried to break free
That our dance was a picture without harmony.
For no balance may rest where love cannot be found,
Thus twisting and painful, we fell to the ground.
Take notice, my dear, of the lesson I learnt:
Jump away from the fire when you have been burnt,
For returning to fuel it, again and again
Will bring you but blisters and plenty more pain.