Archives for category: abuse

How to Find Me

Beyond my window,
a lonely turret-view;
the desperate moat below,
freedom’s elusive skies above.
I pass the hours naming clouds
as though they were my own
beloved flock.

Outside these weathered castle walls,
brambles of bitter thorns, still stained
with the blood of valiant suitors
too easily defeated by love’s
entanglements.

Or perhaps merely unprepared.

There are beasts in the shadows
just inside the tree line there,
do you see?

They are very protective of me.
While I appreciate the gesture,
I find it ultimately isolating.

Still, they do what must be done,
and with a vengeance that could only
be spawned from the worst kind
of trespasses. They will not see me
hurt again.

You will know them by the yellow
gleam of eye shine, their winged form,
and by their curious utterances
as they pace the forest’s edge,
on the look-out for rogues to chew up.

If the wind stills, you can just barely
hear them growling their creed.
Truth…Beauty…Honor…Trust…
Truth…Beauty…Honor…Trust…

Very few get past them,
and those who do, rare virtuous hearts,
usually succumb during the strenuous climb
to my window, where the air is thin
and wordless.

Do try, if you dare. It will not be easy,
but I welcome your intentions.
I will be brushing my very long hair
while I wait. Godspeed, my prince.

Claire Juno, © 2017

…inspired by the fairy tale “Rapunzel.”

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Garden-variety Evil

The devil speaks in whispers.
His delivery is subtle, his game airtight.
After all, he has been doing this
for quite some time. No novice here.

His influence takes many forms:
isolation’s despondency,
discouragement’s weariness.
Self-doubt that mocks your bravest effort;
the crisis that questions survival.
Late nights of losing heart.

But mostly, the devil
prefers to make his approach
wearing a more mundane disguise—
perhaps posing as someone
you should have been able to trust,
someone you allowed into your life
when you saw his friendly face
at the door.

By turns, he wins your trust.
He learns the weave and form
of each delicate insecurity,
studying the intimate details
of your blackest fears
like a lover memorizes
the curve of a neck.

What makes you shake,
and what shames you,
whatever it is that you could
never face; the very thing
you would sooner choose death
than have to endure.

In his view, it makes sense:
if he is going to dismantle you,
he needs to know how you operate.
He mechanically notes your distress,
then turns away as he smiles,
so you cannot see him.

He counts on you forgetting
everything you thought you knew
about love and grace and hope,
gradually planting in your heart
a new miserable comprehension
of what you are worth.

He is the ultimate student.
Of course, having failed at his goal
to become the Ultimate Teacher,
he is cursed to sustain himself
with lesser accomplishments,
such as feeding on your failures.

He takes particular relish
in carefully cultivating the belief
that cripples you again and again:
that of your own irredeemability.

In that, you procure for him
the sweetest apple off the tree.
Doomed as he is, the offering
of your transient pain
will always be savored.

To him, you are nothing
more than delicious, vulnerable
entertainment.

Claire Juno, © 2017

Prehistory

I would like to suggest
a method of undoing this mess
that will rewind our errors
and erase every possible pain
we have caused each other.

First, I will give your watch back
and you, mine, to return the time
we took from each other,
moment by moment, for years.
It seems you took more from me
than I from you, judging by
the disparate sizes.

Nevertheless, we’ll call it even.

We can then backpedal
and somehow, from this
implacable position, move
forward in our evolution
as two distinctly separate
and wholly unrelated
species,

shifting from fossil
to relic to our vintage selves,
until at last we are amiable
babies playing on the floor,
and not arch enemies
possessing horrible secrets
about each other, drunk
with the dark power
this knowledge imparts.

We can pretend
that the sanguine birds
we once kept in a pedestal cage
were actually tiny dinosaurs
thirsting for blood and quietly
resenting their dish of seeds;
and the dragonfly that died
on the window ledge
was the world’s first biplane;
and we two, lone witnesses
to its epic crash.

Claire Juno, © 2017

Late Bloomer

You were late, though I hardly minded,
as distracting as it was to see you
press your way out of your green sheath
and uncoil those layers, deep pink,
even as an early autumn frost threatened
to nip at your slender tropical petals.

I realize your delayed appearance
has nothing to do with your desire
to bloom, nor your ability to captivate me,
along with the curious hummingbirds
and sparring cabbage moths.

No, I understand it took some time
to catch up after someone mowed you down
in his ignorance, leaving you stubby and broken,
reaching with shredded leaves to soak up
any sunlight you could claim, and
claw your way back toward the sky.

A broken beauty,
though nobody would know it,
to look at you.

Claire Juno, © 2014

What’s-his-name

You’re asking me
to do the impossible,
I pleaded with him
as he turned the key
in the lock of the heavy
door. And then I was alone.

Surveying the piles
that towered all around
my little stool, the smell
of straw overwhelmed me
and I cried.

But then I heard a strange
sound: the skipping of tiny feet
belonging to a horrid creature
with the twinkle of a deal
in his shrewd eyes.

Curious and more than a little
desperate, I dried my tears
on the hem of my skirt.

By the fading pink
of twilight, by the cold light
of a moon ray wafting through
the bars of a tiny window,
he worked night after night.
He worked for me, but
he did not work for free.

We exchanged fortunes,
my jewels for his miracles.
But after his third rescue
he struck a cruel bargain.

It took sleepless nights
of sleuthing and prayer,
but in the final hour
I was able to call him
by his real name
and let me tell you,
he hated it.

He returns sometimes
in my dreams, always
to claim my child,
and always with
his foot in my door,
hissing vile things at me
with a voice like death itself,

and every time,
with my baby cooing
in my arms, I firmly
refuse him, trembling
and fierce: Not me,
not my daughter.

His eyes smolder
with evil. Enraged
by my courage, he turns
positively senseless,
sputtering strange things
backwards, broiling with rage
over losing the deal and so much else
he was sure he could claim.

Not me, not my daughter.
I know your name.

Claire Juno, © 2017

…inspired by the fairy tale, “Rumpelstiltskin”.

Strategy

Do you throw morsels
over your shoulder
when the wild dogs
are at your heels,
hoping the distraction
of your incomprehensible
generosity will give you
time to retreat to your
barren world once again?

From this place,
I throw up my hands
not in despair, but surrender.
I negotiate my own freedom
by finding what is still human
in the inhumane.

Quiet the beast,
and danger returns
to its slumber.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
who pave the muddy trenches
with ten thousand rose petals;
who see the fragility
of the monster,
and skillfully placate him
so that the vulnerable
can slip away unnoticed.

Is not all true kindness
without condition?

Some would say
I am the fool.
But the true fool
bites the throat
of kindness
and by doing so,
cuts himself off
from the only thing
that might save him.

Claire Juno, © 2014

Beast

Soon the mammoth gates will close,
the last petals fall from the rose,
the magic hour lost.

See now a dim light
on the horizon’s edge,
as darkness with its heady charm
runs for cover.

The battle over, a hand
once outstretched to aid
now retreats to safety.
Kindness only gives danger
a foothold.

His captive eternally bruised,
the beast dies moment by moment.
Whose fate would you choose?
The victory belongs to no one.
It seems the spell upon him
cannot be undone.

Claire Juno, © 2015

Prey

I know my lot,
though you’ll never hear me say
I agreed to it.

I just came in this way.
The forest floor and the sunlit
canopy above me are my only
witnesses to the perils I face daily,
just to make it to sundown.

I know I was meant
to be hunted, consumed
and returned to the earth.
To transfigure whatever remains
of my flesh into bitter dandelion
greens for some distant kin.

I am one of many,
and that is why we survive at all—
to give the world more of us.
Since we are too many
to begin with, fate steps in
and thins out the excess.

I have lost too much
to suppose it is not my destiny
as well. This may sound too much
like resignation. That’s just the
way it is in my world.

Once upon a time,
I was very young,
and when you are young
you do not know enough.
Your eyes are wide open
to the newness of the world
and you are slow and innocent
in the presence of danger,
because you have not learned
what danger is.

It was a fast education.
Each time I survive, my pulse
resumes its steady beat.
I feel life flowing through
my neck and limbs, and
my head feels clear.
Everything seems new again,
as though I am experiencing
life for the first time.
Terror is cleansing
in some strange way.

And I hop away, looking for
dandelion greens grown from
those who came before me.

Claire Juno, © 2015

The Return

Here you go,
here is what you asked for.
It was never mine, though
at one time that was
your intention, provided
I deserved it, in your view.

Apparently, I never quite
earned it and there it sat,
in your underwear drawer,
Chiampesan white gold
and diamonds, tucked
into a navy velvet bag, still
wrapped in blue store paper,
a tangle of ribbons

—and the receipt, either a reflection
of how much you esteemed me,
how much you owed me, or
how good I had to be, before it
adorned my neck.

No matter, really.
You have lost the ability
to hurt me, I cannot love
under terms, and I do not want
what you could not give
without condition.

Claire Juno, © 2016

 

My Place

Welcome, welcome.
This is where you will stay.
Even if you think you have
left, this space will continue
to contain you, because that
is the way I have designed
it to be. It almost defies
the imagination, but soon
enough, you will struggle
to remember what life
was like outside of here.
And forgetting will ensure
your docility.

I don’t expect that to make
sense to you just now,
but you will see, with time,
how my words prove true,
no matter what you do.

Over there on the door
you will notice a lock,
and here on the bureau,
a key. Rest assured, neither
are what they seem to be.
The parameters of this place
are not controlled by
external objects of security
or imprisonment. This is
nothing you need to worry
about, however, for I have
everything under control.

You may view me
as a captor, though I think
it would make things easier
for you — dare I say, even
pleasant? — if you thought
of me as the one who desires
to take care of you, here,
forever, by making sure
nobody else can reach you;
by becoming your ultimate source
of everything, a sort of
temperamental emergency god.

I know it may feel a bit like
you are owned; a domesticated
animal living within the confines
and caprices of her owner.
But what is there to complain
about? So long as you have
all that you need here
in this turret, so long as
you do not make ridiculous
demands on me, such as hearing
your opinion, acknowledging
your needs or considering
your feelings or rights —
well, I think we will both find
this arrangement quite
agreeable.

Remember, there is only
one side here. Mine. It is best
if you do not forget that
because I tend to be rather
unforgiving about slip-ups.

I will see that your wings
are clipped regularly, one way
or another, so that you cannot
escape the scepter of my
mercurial benevolence.

I will see that you have food
and water and air and modest
opportunities, though keep in
mind that there may be times
when I, in my sovereignty,
may choose to withhold or limit
even these commodities in order
to secure your compliance.

I see you turning slowly in place,
as though you were looking for
something. There are no mirrors
here; frankly I find them a distraction.
I shall be your mirror, your
sole source of self-identification —
reflecting back to you exactly
what I view you to be.

Claire Juno, © 2014