Archives for category: human nature

My Life Reincarnate

The moon and the planets
shine just for me now, and the giant
silver poplar has overshadowed me
long enough. Cut it down,

so I will not remember where it
came from so long ago, when
we stole it from a riverbank,
put it in the trunk of my car and
brought it home, an emblem
of our passion.

These days are peculiar,
as though I had given birth
in some faraway place
and come home again at last,
but with no babe in arms,
just my purged self.

My eyes reacquaint themselves
with green grasses, the swan curve
of lily leaves, sprawling nettle,
aging tulip petals strewn about,
remnants of a gone season.

The energy I once poured
into nurturing something
now returns back to me,
like the gentle dead
returning themselves
to the earth.

Like the earth itself,
continually dying
and restored.

Claire Juno, © 2016

The Mind’s Value

This disembodied love
gently retires to the
spirit-corners of his mind,
the way a grown child
lays her beloved doll to rest
for a seeming eternity
in its little bed,

now a container for love’s
history, a personal context
perfectly preserved,
glass-eyed and unaltered
by the years.

That it is there, waiting
for him, ever-expectant,
was a needed security at first,
then a familiar comfort.

This relic of his heart
remains undisturbed
beneath layers of dust
and seasons, like a truth
even tender children
eventually learn.

Claire Juno, © 2016

The Collector

He surrounds himself
with art, as his way
of bringing her back,
or at least finding ways
to be close to her again.

Free-form sculptures
become a silent homage
to the one who inspired him,
who breathed life into his
once-nascent understanding
of everything.

The halls of his home are full
and empty at the same time,
a solemn procession of tributes
to the very one who cannot
return to see them.

All are cold, smooth,
motionless— just like her pale lips
on the last day she was here.

Claire Juno, © 2016

 

The Re-inventor

I’m not going to kill you:
it’ll just feel that way.
You will grieve as though
saying your good-byes
to the world at large
as well as to each aspect
of whoever you thought
you were.

From the support beams
to the splinters and finishing
nails, I will dismantle you
until all that remains
is the ground upon which
was built so many façades.

And you will not recognize
yourself of course—
you will not realize that
all along, the constructs
of your identity were not built
on the dirt, but that you
were the dirt itself.

You were not what you created
and then discarded when it
became irrelevant. You were
what was buried beneath
all of that rubble. And rubble
is all it ever was.

Unburdened, you will hereafter
be a willing paradox, both
unremarkable and special
at the same time.

Claire Juno, © 2013

Cygnet

To be received is all I want.
I was born to be whatever it is
I am becoming. Why should this
be seen as some disability?

These wings are gray and drab
and I get the sense I am somehow ugly,
not so much by the reflection rippling
beneath me, as by the reactions
of those whom I mistook
for my kind.

I grow, and as I do, I shed my gray
for a more stunning carriage; and yet,
I am still under some false spell
cast by those who cannot see,
and never will.

Alone, I glide to the water’s edge
each night and ponder my lot,
and dream of belonging somewhere,
with some who would call me their own.

Claire Juno, © 2014

 

…inspired by The Ugly Duckling

Desolation

I am alone in this garden.
Alone with this pain.

I have told you before
how everyone has left me,
all have turned their backs,
all have chosen blindness
for the immunity it affords.
They are cut off from
their compassion.

There is no one to hide me away
from those who wish me harm,
who hate me without cause,
other than their sickness.

And I come to you with nothing left,
with empty hands, with a heart
weighed down by isolation and dread
and by the darkness itself, which seems
deep enough to snuff out my cries.
I know what is coming.

What I have already borne
is too heartbreaking. Though I am
strong and sturdy, the betrayal has
weakened me, has slowed my feet,
garbled my words.

I am afraid.

I have no one I can trust.
My sweat is tinged the color
of these roses in front of me
as I sit in this garden,
feeling unwell and uncertain
and small; powerless to deter
what must overtake me
to fulfill something greater
than myself.

The pain makes my head feel
as if it would burst, and the tears
that stream down offer no respite.
There is no one coming to aid me,
is there. You can hear me but
you do not help me, as much
as it hurts you to see me in this state.

We both agreed to this once upon a time.
Only we underestimated something.
We had no idea what it would actually
feel like to be here among them,
to become one of them. To nurse
from a breast, to learn to use our legs
and form words with our mouths,
to see blood spring from a scraped knee.

To see the sunrise as one of them,
to know friendship as they give and receive it.
To feel the warmth of a fire, an animal;
of brotherhood, of working side by side
until some work is accomplished.

To feel a fever, a lump in the throat,
our stomachs stirring with hunger.
To know the feeling of cool water on our
bodies. To know how they feel, and
what they feel, when they feel anything
in their world.

And now you’ve had me here,
building a life, an occupation, a purpose,
for some time. Enough context to make
the ending even more exquisitely
painful than we already anticipated
it would be.

This has become too complicated,
too wrought with attachments.
And I am certain now the torment
well under way will be unbearable.
It is too much.

That is all I can say
on this horrible night.
Words are escaping me now,
and my heart won’t stop pounding.
It has brought me little peace
to speak honestly to you, to make
my feelings known, in spite of the forces
already at work against me.

I know I am loved,
I know there will be an end
to my suffering, my fear and despair,
and that is all I have in this dark moment.

Claire Juno, © 2015

 

The intention of this writing is rooted in empathy, wondering what this experience could have been like, to the best that I can understand it.

Conditional Perfect

Just before another
dreamless pass,
grace veils
yesterday’s regrets
with just enough
obscurity,

and acceptance
blankets the dwindling hours
with a weary resignation,

tucking me in
to all that was too real
about the day
with an imagined
kiss on the forehead
that whispers,
You did all you could,
didn’t you.

While in the corner
a mythical bow
stands at the ready,
its quiver full of hope
to aim at tomorrow
before it gets away
again.

Claire Juno, © 2017

The Ultimate Empath

How does He do it?
How does He scoop up
the weight of a world’s worth
of pain, with tenderness
and perfect presence— and not
lose a little part of Himself
at the sight of us?

Fashioning His arms
into a mammoth cradle,
His tender lullaby sends
the clouds adrift, dishevels
the tops of oak trees,
weaves a sliver of morning
light between our curtains,
pins a gleaming crescent
of moonlight in our sky—
some kind of divine analgesic
in faithful doses,

until at last we fall asleep,
just as we are, just as we always are
and can only ever hope to be:
surrendered in the moment
to the sufferings of a fallen world,
to grief that shatters,
anguish that nips away
at our birthright of joy
like a famished street dog,
but in the end, still knowing
that Someone knows all about it.

Claire Juno, © 2017

Louise

I. The Aunt

Amid bloodied linens and basins of tepid water
in my sister’s drafty farmhouse, I held this pitiful creature
in my hands. Look at her, she’s not going to make it.
She’s the size of a shoebox.

With low expectations, I put her in an open dresser drawer
and rested beside her, my hand on her fragile chest, listening
through the night for the sound of her breathing.

II. Louise

I’ll tell you something, honey. When I was young, one of six
fisherman’s children in red dirt country, my mother would tell me,
“You’ll never amount to nothin.”

And so all my life, I felt I had to prove her wrong.
I had to be the best at everything. It made me who I am.
But I never forgot those words. Never forgot.

Claire Juno, © 2015

…for my grandmother, whose first and middle names meant war and warrior.

Love’s Identity

Love is the wonder
that crosses your face
when you gaze
at a blooming vine
in your garden,
under the neapolitan skies
of an evening hour.

Love speaks
through the words
of an advertisement
that catches your notice
on an ordinary evening
as you check your email,
alone.

But Love is bigger than that,
and even you would not deny it—
though it seems an awkward stranger,
like a friend who is gradually lost
to distance of one sort or another.

Love knew you
before you knew Love;
before you knew anything at all.

Reminders such as this
catch your breath in your throat
and you push back your chair
in resistance, tears concealed
behind your beautiful hands.

Love stands sentinel,
only waiting for you.

Claire Juno, © 2017