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


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


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

22 Replies to “From the outskirts of safety”

  1. Heart-rending. As always, what makes a poet is one who Sees, Feels, and Bleeds. Holding bloody truths up to be gasped over. Shocking in their revelation.

  2. This is sadly tragic, many a line I could associate with, I have tears on my cheeks, and heartfelt words like these touch my soul.
    “as it was then, in my little room with teddies and demon’s”

  3. You are your own savior–there’s so much to you, so much that it cannot be explained. You–in the very skin that you are in, with the soul and heart that you have, are a miracle, Candice.

  4. Poe said it better than I can.
    “If a poem hasn’t ripped apart your soul; you haven’t experienced poetry.”

    This is such a poem.

    And, it is those who could not see your worth who were tragically blind.

  5. This line, “I never returned from that shore” and this, “all who comes for me now are the shadows and enemies”, are beautiful lines, capturing and packing the entire poem tightly. Beautifully written

  6. Why did the flower fade? Because I held it too close to my heart … She is a hero, a true as any of Joseph Campbell’s epic characters. I will call her Constance

  7. You always have such a brilliant take on anything I write. I read what you say and it makes me want to write something else. That is one of your many talents my friend. Thank you. I appreciate Joseph Campbells mythology and figureheads, and Constance it is.

  8. Some tell us words are like fingers pointing at the moon, yet I have heard it argued that the word – not light – was the first element of creation … in the beginning God “said” let there be light … I have always found your words to be revealing at many levels – evident in the comments, people feel the emotion in them, others like the thoughts they create, but look at Henri Nouwen’s interpretation of Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son and you’ll begin to understand the full impact your writing has on others, in ways they may not even be aware of. Apologies for my absence, I do drift off at times, I too think of you often, and always cherish what I find on my return. You should always write more ! Thank you …

  9. Thoughts are puzzle pieces we arrange based on our perceptions, our interpretations of the world around us. Have you ever looked at something and have your brain see something else, and watch it change before your eyes? Is that hallucination, or purely brain function, saving time by seeing things that might be … automatically “jumping to conclusions “?

  10. Oh that is so true Peter. I have experienced this a lot. I have terrible eye sight and just found out I have very, very premature macular degeneration in one eye caused by having the genes for MD from both parents (they don’t have it, but if the kid gets both genes they have a really high chance of getting it and in my case I thought I was losing sight due to my other illness but then found out it was this) and it is losing sight. I think when you cannot see well you absolutely do this anyway as a matter of unconscious interpretation. It can produce some interesting effects! And you?

  11. I wish we could protect the young. I believe the world attacked us and no-one is prepared. Your words left many things for the reader to ponder.

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