Monthly Archives: January 2017

2017 for 2017, 122-193: For The Absent Father

​A good number of weeks of my life as a five year old
Were spent standing in front of you
Reciting lines from Invictus:
Out of the night that covers me
Black as pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul

Whatever grasp I had of speaking, as a child
just a little older than a toddler,
Couldn’t conquer where to put the accent on
Unconquerable
And you told me that was fine.

You told me my loud shameless laughter was fine,
Getting scratches all over my knees 
From running and falling on the street was fine,
Trying your beer and inhaling your cigarette was fine
Not getting along with my older sister was fine – 
We would love each other beyond comprehensible reason
And it will make everything fine
— you didn’t tell me this but I discovered it soon enough

And it’s fine.

There were many things you didn’t tell me,
You just made me read a lot of books and rhyming poetry
And maybe what I knew then and needed to know
Was all that was necessary at that time. 

When I was seven and sickly,
You worked away in the big city.
I had to be taken to where you were 
To see big city doctors and hoped for healing.
We spent a few mornings frying frozen squares of cheap ham 
And singing to The Four Non-Blondes
Twenty five years of my life and still
I’m trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination

I’m almost thirty now, and I’m still trying.

I didn’t realize then how far you were from us
And how much farther you’ll become

And I’ll scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on

You missed too many of the things
Fathers shouldn’t miss in a daughter’s life
And it was fine
Because the first time I had my heart broken by a man
I ran to you first
And you offered me beer and some advice:
There will be more of this heartbreak business
And I had to teach myself to be fine.
I snickered and felt better.

Many men will come and go
And you will remain my first and the worst heartbreak of all

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed

A good number of years of my life
Were lived in your absence
And I must confess I have succumbed to the thought 
that ultimately not having you around would be fine

and this is where the conversations 
about absent parents and broken families
take a turn,
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade

Because there would be
Innumerable would haves, could haves, and should haves
That will never cease to haunt us
For a good number of years

There will be only so much we can turn to poetry 
Only enough to forgive ourselves for;

And every time I’ll have to face your grave
The hollowness will remain
Unconquerable. 
—–

With apologies to William Ernest Henley

And The Four Non-Blondes

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2017 for 2017, 89-121: Looking Down From A Window 

​They’ve talked about this before:
a heavy, sinking feeling,
canonball to the chest
and cold, cold water,
skin pierced and parched at the same time
clothing limbs you no longer recognize.

This is no different.
It’s all you are
and all you hate,
all that’s left
of you in the next breath.

Shallow, sharp gasps,
stifled cries,
Broken lullabies,
songs to put yourself to sleep.

Throw it to the wind, they say,
all your worries to the wind.

And you will.

Your legs shake in the thrill
Of the rushing air ready to cradle you,
weightless against the wind,
subject to the laws that move
and make the world, one step
towards gravity, the rest follows.

The world spins, will continue to spin.

Everything looks so small
from where you are, tinier,
shrinking further, and
you are as small, shrinking smaller.

There is no bottom for this now.
It only comes after the jump.
After you fall, only then
will you be able to truly fly.

2017 for 2017, 44-88: Lovers By The Weekend

A fortune-teller told me
It’s alright to ask for a miracle
until Friday. And said nothing more
about wishes being granted
whether on Friday or afterwards.
Not a disclaimer, I suppose, just
a mere statement to manage
expectations and grander than usual
hopes bound by schedule and deadlines.

So I thought hard

and came up with, as one would expect,
Images of you and me, gray-haired
and failing memories. Picking out scenes
to be included in the moving reel
Death will play to welcome us into the Afterlife.

I thought of other things I wanted:
Bathtubs full of money tax-free,
or better yet, a world without the need for currency;
A congress void of politicians;
Reforested forests and plastic-free oceans;
Neighborhoods everywhere, lawns open
teeming with Bob Marley’s herb of choice.

So I assigned one wish for every day of the week,
and hoped for more chances of a miracle
coming true. When Friday came,
I offered my miracle for yours.
A fitting finale, a fairytale happy ending:
My wish is for your wish to come true.

This is why the lovers always win
even if they never join the lottery.
The strongest ones will stay together
even if death parts their physical bodies.

Because stronger than any other fanatic’s religion
is a true lover’s affectionate devotion
founded in the temple of a body and the altar of a gaze,
in the divinity of a heart and the sanctity of desire.

No deadline for a miracle
could render impossible or merely whimsical,
always exceeding expectations
and never bound by the hour.

I don’t need to think hard
About wishing for the miracle of you.
Because no magic is needed here,
it shouldn’t be too grand to be hoped,
it shouldn’t be that unthinkable
for me to belong with you.

2017 for 2017, 19-43: Playmate

Playmate

Let’s try this again:
I’ll hold my hands over my eyes
and count to ten.
Then set off seeking, never finding
and most probably thinking out loud,
how well you’ve made yourself
impossible to be found.

Take me by surprise again.
I know it but never see it coming
exactly when I’m mindlessly
looking about,
put your hands over my eyes
until the whole world turns dark.

Let’s try this again,
again a tap on the shoulder
and then we begin
running to each other
then away, faster,
losing our breaths, arms outstretched.
Never really getting caught
or ever catching the other.

Let’s fall to the ground,
breaths heavy and hearts full,
ready to play another round.
Another game, again and again.

(C) Anj Heruela, January 6 2017

2017 for 2017, 1-18: Instructions for a Fairytale 

Instructions for a Fairytale 

Once upon a time
A chapter was written
And another chapter awaited writing
While other written chapters
Were torn and crumpled,
Excluded from an ending
constantly altered.

Long, long ago we started
In a world which now feels
so far, far away.
We’ve journeyed far and wide
To catch some semblance of an ever after
And we’ll just have to write on,
whatever the weather,
One chapter after another, until

The end.


(C) Anj Heruela, January 3 2017