the last sin
  pale ashen sky
a bleary eye
clouds of recurring screams...
i am a zoo
  an octopus leviathan
tentacles into an ocean
of unformed emotions...
syphilis and love  
  syphilitic pall
stifles the clear blue
i contort...
shell and pearl
  amidst highs and lows
in life's ocean flows
a shell peony-mouthed...
i am an unmarried mother
  fed on stings
of barbed milk morality
my child-plankton...
the lovers
  cell upon cell
bridge of their union
hung on the pillars...
  ogre of age
and time cavil
at a warm picture...
the young today
  innocence thaws
at the altar
of ambition...

don’t you ever give up on me

she is ten now
and can’t be fooled by my protestations
that i am being detached
to protect her
from my own irredeemable pasts

my right ear has a wound that refuses to heal
but it’s scarring her spirit
i see so much love in her eyes
it breaks my heart
when i reject her
her resilience is amazing
like a spring she recoils
but i can see signs of her breaking up
and it breaks my soul
i wear a cold stony look
i push her away
i repel her cuddly remonstrations
to protect her
from my own irredeemable pasts

what about the hunger in her eyes?
she still comes to me after being cast away
to shield me from the imagined
she is forgiving
of my compulsions
but she is a little girl after all
how long do i expect her to carry my cross

i ask too much of her innocence
impose a soul crushing burden
on her shoulders robust but gentle
will she ever have a father
is it the price she must pay
today as i write these lines
i am saddened beyond feelings
my fingers move mechanically
my words keep pouring
is it worth it
all this absence of showing
to love is to care
to care is to share
but how will she ever know till i show?

she is ten now
and wiser than her years
she will understand when she grows up
but how will i ever give back
those lost childhoods
consumed by my compulsions
my imbalances my chemical upheavals
i am not even aware of my own loss

if she grows up with a sense of loss
and a deep insecurity
then i have already lost the battle
i fight every waking hour
only when i sleep
and sleep doesn’t come easy these days
my ghosts are laid to rest
to protect her
from my own irredeemable pasts

she writes these lovely notes
draws innocent pictures
and runs to me full of eagerness
wanting me to read them aloud
and what does she get
a rebuff a hysterical response
‘don’t be close
lest you get hurt’
from my own irredeemable pasts

but i have already dealt a blow

don’t you give up on me
i shall fight
and i shall fight
only to show that i care
more than you can imagine
more than i can ever tell
more than all my words
more than all my courage
more than the sum total of my fears
and though life may be
as good as it gets
i will try
to squeeze your cheeks
after draining the ghosts from my fingertips
i will try
to hold you
after washing my stains
in the antiseptic of strength

i love you my daughter
don’t you ever give up on me

( 8 April 2003 )