Archives for posts with tag: abuse

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



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”.


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


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

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

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


Nestled in those holes above,
I am a lovely dappled dove.
They keep me for my eggs and flesh
but not for any certain love.

One day when my nest lay bare,
a hand removed me from my lair.
I died that day and left this world
and now they see me everywhere.

I represent all who fell,
those too good to drop to hell,
whose souls are now set on avenging
the hands that did not treat them well.

Claire Juno, © 2012


See how you leverage your dignity
against the insults, trying to find
the balance that eludes your heart.

The trick is to stay on board
when the waters are rough
and you’ve lost sight of the shore,
out there in the middle of nothing.

Hungry questions circle your craft.
Parched for love, you’re feeling
daft to defend yourself with honest
answers— you’ll only incite their wrath.

And though you’re desperate
for any small kindness,
better to make friends with the elements—
revel in the sweet mirage,
hope the teary tide relents.

Do your best to learn their rhythm
and their rhyme; buy yourself some time.
Your mermaid’s allure will not serve you here;
not that you had much to begin with, dear.

That wicked line will tow you under
unless you can remember
who set your life asunder.

Claire Juno, © 2012