Hi good people of blog land.
I thought it might be nice to put some of my favourite poems into blog format so anyone who likes my poetry can see a good amount. know I pop the occasional poem in things but this will be more af a Jeanette’s recently poetry anthology. Ooh, I can;t wait….
Here’s a few of my Autism-specific ones, I actually was named a ‘distinguished finalist’ in the Local Gems National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) 2015 competition on the strength of some of these. I choose Autism advocacy as my topic and wrote one poem a day for the month of April. It was challenging especially as April tends to be a busy month for me, but I got it finished and it yielded some lovely poems.
My past and me
I am your success story
Your role model
You pay to hear my wisdom
How can this be?
I am broken
A lost cause
Example of what not to be
A cautionary tale
A fallen thing
A tragic thing
Yet here I am.
I look back
I find that other I
There she is
There I am
‘Come with me’
I reach out my hand down the years
I hold her
I am you
You are me
She buries her sorrow in my chest
And we become whole.
Tragedy and triumph together
She is with me and I am with her
Not fixed but learning.
I don’t want your cure
I don’t want your cure
I am not broken
I don’t not belong condemned to the genetic dustbin
I am not less
My world is not ‘wrong’
My communication not ‘lacking’
My interests not ‘obsessive’.
I am not a tragedy
Not the product of a cruel God
Not something to be fixed.
I am myself
I am proud and beautiful
My reality as valid as your reality
My experience my own.
I love my world
This world I share with others like me
The only tragedy in my life is hatred
People too small to see my value
To sad to delight in my quirks
You want a cure
Which part of mine will you cure?
Will you cure my talent?
The brilliance of my pen
The clarity of my wit?
Will you take my life and remove all the ‘broken’ bits?
All the life I have lived
The wisdom gained through horror and loss?
The love and kindness left when the fires of abuse and terror died?
Will you take my compassion
My love for the Other?
What of me would you leave behind from your cure?
No. I don’t want your cure.
I want your understanding, your ear, free of judgement.
I am human
There is no cure for humanity save death
And that is hardly a cure.
My mum is not the average mum
She never gossiped with her girlfriends at the school gate
She never wore heels
She did have three lipsticks from the 1970s – a pink one and orange one and and sort of melted brown blob
She didn’t ever watch rom-coms
She stopped buying music in about 1963.
She never talked about being a lady
or using your feminine wiles
(whatever those were).
She tromped around the garden in gumboots
and a jumper from he dark ages.
When I was little there were lots of books
Little kid books
then books we could read by ourselves.
One day my mum read a magical book from her childhood.
It was precious. a treasure.
She only read it to us once to keep the pages from falling out.
It was from the ancient history that was my mum’s own difficult childhood
She read it as if preserving her fragile childhood
Stopping its few good memories from disintegrating into crumbs.
Mostly my mum’s idea of calming reading was the book of Revelation.
At 10 I knew all about the whore of Babylon
But I’d never watched Mary Poppins.
My mum had a word for every occasion
(ironic that one needs to be a logophile to know what one is).
In a sea of Englishness she sported an Australian twang.
England was always too cold.
she’d set up a vivid orange tent on every English beach
We never got lost
We’d see the tent’s toxic hue and come whirring back like homing pigeons
If pigeons liked dribbly ice cream and seaside rock.
As I got older my mum transformed
She was now my best friend
In the absence of friends my age
I could tell her anything
I’d stand behind her and brush her hair
Hundreds of times
Thousands when measured in days and months and years.
Whenever I was in trouble she’d be there
Some time after I gained for myself a label
I went through adulthood the lone labelled person in our quirky Purky world.
It was almost a sleight – why just me when others in our midst may benefit from a swipe from the label machine.
One Christmas I was home
My mum comes up with unknown intent
She thrusts a card into my hand
‘I want the assessment. Give me the label’ it read
My mum, my friend, my champion all along is now in the club
we are in it together
Our perfect club of two within the larger club we’ve been in all these years.
Our labels bear the same name
‘Thank you mum’
This one is a reflection on a recent trip to my ol d hometown Melbourne
A trip to Melbourne
My former home.
Conferences and book sales give way to tourism.
At the Victoria markets
I spy stalls amidst the fishy funk
A shop with felted hats and a hippie lady
We start to talk
If I took up her time I should buy something I think
I find a deep red yak wool scarf – it will be warm in Canberra’s winter chill and wind
I bid her farewell, clutching a little plastic bag overflowing with my new scarf.
I head down the hill
There’s a jewellery shop
Sparkly bling and a quiet girl hunched at the register, reading a book.
I search about, disappointed by the selection of things but wanting to buy
And then as I’m leaving a sparkly bracelet catches my eager eye
‘How much?’ I ask
The quiet girl’s delicate features light up
‘Ten dollars’ she says.
Ten dollars for an endless amount of sparkles seems a very good deal.
I happily go back to my hotel
past a lanky young boy dancing to his headphones
A twenty-something lass with maroon ringlets
A family from the country, bumping into the unfamiliar crowds.
I have warm things, sparkles and joy.
My love for Melbourne is unabated.
This one was published in the Canberra Times earlier this year in a slightly edited form. Enjoy
All that I want
Affluenza and entitlement dictate a list,
Things one is supposed to want if one is successful and urbane:
A house (big, ostentatious)
A car (probably Italian and stylish) and all those other things I neither want nor need.
I want a cat to cuddle
For people to listen before they judge
Music to lift my soul
Respect of the Other, whatever Other they may be
Safety in my home
Safety in my mind
Influence in things that matter
People and things to love
Just enough self awareness
Ethics and values not rules and dogma
A modest place to call my own with walls for all my art
A friend to tell me when I am getting ahead of myself
Talent and skills sufficient to achieve my goals
Work all the day long
A comfortable and warm bed and sympathetic characters to inhabit my dreams
A body fit for purpose
Friends to laugh with. To cry with. To share success and defeat
To have children in my life to keep me young
Family – my hereditary one and the one I choose
And maybe some chocolate.
Here;s a lovely one about mr Kitty and how he is my little black kitty therapist
I have a little panther. He shares my home
With sleek black fur
Golden eyes and ready purrs
I feel a thump each night as he leaps on the bed
I see him coming towards me
On a mission for a cuddle
He flops down next to me and I hold his little paw
Announces his presence at times in plaintive meows
or deep reverberating purrs
He asks for cuddles
Taps me on the shoulder as I work
‘I’m here mummy’
If I keep on at my work the tap gets more insistent until I scoop him up and bury my face in his soft fur
He steals my spot on the couch
‘helps’ with laundry
and gift wrapping
When I make the bed he insists on assisting
In his previous life he was a stray
He seems like a rich boy fallen on hard times
When I cuddle him he cuddles back
An urgency of love
I was his saviour
And he was mine.
His entry to my world spelled the exit of my blighted existence
Since he has shared my hearth there have been no stays in modern day bedlam
No self-destructive dance of defeat
And when my fractured mind turns him into a demon
He walks up with his patented panther stride
And reminds me who he is,
My mind’s demon become reality’s cat
I hold him and he purrs
Yes, I have a little panther who shares my home.
I can scarce imagine life without him
This one won the 2011 ACT Mental Health Week poetry competition. It was written when I was very unwell and staying at a mental health rehabilitation house. It was before i git Mr Kiyty, when i didn’t like living at Whimsy Manor. I think its quite a powerful poe,.
I put on my suit – armour against the sword of daily life
I took the bus to work
Thoughts passed through my mind
of awful and inappropriate actions.
I swiped my card. The perspex doors gave way at its bidding and I was in the lift
I got out at Level 5, walked to my desk and logged on
The emails made no sense
I took myself to a private room and called Kathy, my capable clinical manager
“Go home” she said
but I was determined.
After what seemed no time my Manager was driving me to see Kathy, concerned.
The world seemed to close in – there was no future
Kathy was concerned as well – worry etched in her features.
A trip to the hospital
I escaped. Kathy gave chase.
Police walked by
I looked longingly at their guns
but what sort of public servant would that make me I thought
A dead one.
Kathy leaves me at the assessment unit
In my suit.
My make-up perfect, jewelry matching my clothes
Work shoes newly polished.
There is no tomorrow I think, at least, not one in which I want to be.
The psychiatrist – young, cocky, male – sends me to PSU, the locked ward, for my own protection.
I arrive that night
In my suit.
“Do you work here?” asks an intern
“no” I respond gloomily. “I’m just a well-dressed patient.”
Outside the rebels storm the winter palace and the sky explodes,
Inside I’m safe, medicated and confused.
The world goes on around me, unaware and unconcerned
This one is quite a long one – sort of a narrative poem. It actually made me cry when I read it out loud after I drafted it. Thats; probably the mark of a good poem (unless one is crying due to the terrible writing but it was crying for emotion, honest. 🙂
There was once a girl with a happy laugh and a curious smile
But she did not know it.
For she lived in the shadows
Where the creatures of the dark hurt her
And told her lies and called her names.
She hated the shadow world
But tit was her home.
She wanted to leave her broken world
but she couldn’t find her way into the fresh green garden she believed was above
She imagined its flowers and birds and dragonflies humming by happily.
The shadows broke her spirit and took the smile form her eyes
The love from her heart’
The will from her mind.
Weighed down, she trolled the shadows, crying silently.
For she knew this was not her home
But she couldn’t come out.
One day she started to walk
went to places she hadn’t been
Ghosts laughed at her and made bets that she would be here forever but she just kept on walking.
One day she found a rock stair case
She looked up and saw stars – actual, beautiful twinkling stars
Lights calling to her straight from the very beginning of the universe.
Even though the stairs were slimy and she feared she would fall with every step she knew she needed to take the stairs
It was her only chance to be free.
She went on and on.
Hours and days and years elapsed
Strangely, the higher she got – even though the danger of falling grew worse with each footfall – she started to feel renewed and confident.
Clear crisp air filled her lungs.
She started to smell blossoms – so far from the foul odours of the shadows, smells of death and decay and defeat.
As she climbed higher, beams of light started to shine on her face. The light was warm and gave her hope.
She saw the top of the stairs
She took a tentative step into this new world.
She looked down and saw her dress was white
Her gold hair flowing down past her shoulders.
She lay in the green grass in the garden looking up at a pure blue sky.
She couldn’t find a word for what she felt
She didn’t even know what she felt except that she was no longer afraid.
An age passed.
The garden was so beautiful but the girl was all alone
What point is there to happiness if one can’t share the experience? The girl thought.
As soon as she thought that, a little black cat strode over, exuding cat confidence
He wound himself around her legs.
She stroked the cat and felt his soft fur.
The cat walked off into the distance
“Wait!’ the girl said and followed him
Running to keep up.
She followed the cat for a long while,
Damp, springy grass underfoot. .
He stopped at the top of the staircase.
She looked down and saw shadows and ghosts.
They looked weighed down and sad.
She wondered how she could help.
The cat started walking down the stirs.
The girl followed.
It seemed infinitely easier going down than it had been coming up.
The girl met a ghost
But the ghost was not frightening or evil – it was sad.
Against all logic, the girl held out her hand to the ghost
With the touch she saw the ghost’s humanity
It was a young girl with spiky red hair, green eyes and a tentative smile
The ghost was a friend.
The two of them went hand in had up the stairs, followed by the cat.
It was infinitely more easy to traverse the stairs with company,
The two girls talked and laughed and helped each other up.
The cat showed them the best way to ascend and purred a tune to keep them inspired.
As they ascended, the ghost took on stronger form
After while the two of them looked like sisters.
They were whole.
So the girl spent eternity rescuing ghosts from the fetid world below.
She took them to the garden where they could live their new existence.
She became friends with each one of them.
The task would never be done but the rewards were great.
And the garden became filled with the laughter of children and adults who once were shadows but were now whole, fulfilled, free people.
And the girl kept on at her task.
And last but not least, my latest poem, written on Tuesday, all about reconciling negative historical Jeanette with who I am now. I hope you enjoyed my poetic musings 🙂 JP
The two Jeanettes
Seventeen years of tired
Of metaphorically jerking my neck around to spy my past
then run from her as fast as I can.
‘I’m not like that…
‘She isn’t me. She is previous me…’
He face leers grotesquely at me in the mirror
Every time success comes my way she is right next to me, taunting, blaming, hating.
Hard to express just how I hate her
Every act is framed by her presence
I can’t really own my life
Every day at my job
Accepting accolades and planning what to do if she ever escapes to destroy all I have made
I had no future than and I barely see one now
“If good things happen I will be dead straight afterwards’
‘Don’t get too comfortable. You were in prison. Everyone will know and they will hate you
There is no good in you. You are just pretending.
Others can see past your nice act to who you really are. You are ME.
Oh I shall destroy you. All those who love you will hate you when I’m done.
Author? positive person? Autism world Celebrity? Really? Who do you think you are?
I step back and watch the person I once was
I see her desperation
I see that every kind word I say, each decent act I commit puts a distance between us.
She is desperate
As she always was
She is both victim and perpetrator.
Acting tough in a world really not fit for her
The hatred is an act. Mostly
She learned the words, the attitude, but was never really there.
I summon up my strength and approach her.
She’s like a frightened dog – hackles up and in need of love and closeness.
Tentatively I hold my hand to her
“You can be yourself’ I say
‘There is seventeen years between you and i.
This world will accept you
Forgive your mistakes and support you.
You don’t need to fight the world.
There is a place for you.
There is a cat….’
I edge closer
I touch my hand to her. it is scarred but she holds on tight
gingerly at first, both of us wondering what the other may do
Then she grabs me and holds me close
She cries and I wipe her tears as she does he for me
My shadow self and I together
I hold no fear of her
It is swept away amid understanding and acceptance.