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Poetry Page 16

To Daniel – Part II:

Incidentally, let me leave a message for Daniel…  Don’t ever think that I write these with your consumption in mind.  I write this way because this is how I feel.  If I wrote these with your reading them in mind, well, they would not look like this, that’s for sure.  Especially true for “Not Knowing”, because I know that’s what you were thinking.

This page includes: “Thinking Too Much”, Untitled (I spent four hours today), “Reckless”, “Joy”, “Colorful Words”, Untitled (it’s so late), “Not Knowing” and “Reply”, Untitled (The library is quiet by for the creaking of the shelves), “Mirror”, “This Feeling”, “Freak”, “Kiss Me”, “What Do I Have to Do?”, “Hating”, “Tide”, “Thank You”, “Too Risky”, “Singularity”, “Hold Me”, “Patience”, “Hoping”, “Weakness”, “Intimations”  all copyrighted 2000 by Betsy McCall.

Thinking Too Much

The question keeps coming up,
Turning over in my mind:
How do I reconcile what I feel
With what you'll allow us to be?
You consume my days.
How do I keep busy enough
To spare myself thinking too far ahead,
Like a chess computer crunching numbers,
Looking for the fastest way to checkmate.
What do I have to do?
Name your price.
Pick your size, your color.
Do I need to get on my knees
And beg to be made a mother?
My friend, it's not enough.
How can I heal your hurts from so far away?
How do I reach you, so much a mirror of me,
Opposite and yet just the same,
Through this cold pane of glass between us?
It was easier alone,
But I'll checkmate you yet.
Either take you or kill you--
Where does my chess game end?

Untitled

I spent four hours today
Sleeping away the afternoon.
Partly because I ate only breakfast today,
But mostly just wanting time to think of you.
I somehow managed to be mostly hopeful
By trying to ignore the obvious.
My thoughts went to the promise of my book.
If published, it would mean my freedom,
The time and even the desire to postpone my starry dreams.
I could be with you then, couldn't I?
Free to go where you go,
Support us both for a while,
And in the end, get everything I've wanted,
If not when.
What a fool to even think it.
I'm no campfollower and what kind of leader are you?
I would do it if I could,
But it's your reaction I cannot predict.
How can I see your soul
When I cannot even look you in the eyes?
I want you now,
But I need the time as much as you.
I've never even said "I love you" to your face.
They're only words bound up in fear otherwise.
Heal me.  Give me the courage.
Was there ever a better reason than you?

 

Reckless

"Reckless" is my watchword of the week.
All too reckless,
As foolish as the day I tearfully wrote
I love you.  Goodbye.
So many things I wish I could take back,
Return to the safe days
When you went on oblivious
And only I suffered.
How can I confess to you my fears
When we seem so distant?
How do I speak like I write
When you might leave me for another man?
I suppose that's safer, too,
Than dealing with my friendship and my love.
I really try to be patient
But I can't be this reckless forever.
Already fear begins to overcome me.
So many things I've wanted to tell you
But that the delete key has gotten instead.
The smile that each thought of you brings to my lips
Fights back the tears that follow shortly after.
It's the smile that keeps me hoping,
Keeps me dreaming,
Of an ironic Latin mass that would make you mine.

Joy

I sense a lopsidedness in the things I tell you of on these pages.
I tell you of my anger, my fear, my emptiness,
And you must wonder why I go on,
Why I want you in my life at all if this is what you have to offer.
These are perhaps the more constant of my emotions.
They've been companions so long,
But they are strong because of absence.
How can I feel empty with you beside me?
My joy to see you fills me with such hope...
Ridiculous, I know.
What is there to fear when you are nearby?
My chivalrous knight, you bring me courage to face those things I could never do alone.
And anger?
Only at the cruel distance that separates us, in mind and body.
It is for those rare moments of pleasure that I live.
The joy when I hear your voice,
Or see your figure emerge from a crowd and suddenly wonder
What crowd?
The smile you bring to my lips haunts me
In odd moments, even in the middle of otherwise ordinary conversations.
People must think I'm crazy.
Who smiles for no reason at all?
It's these moments that sustain me,
And the quiet, desperate hope it's not in vain.
Where do I go without you?
Would you have me replace these bits of happiness
With the numbing cold again?
You are my saviour, my Christ, my messiah.
Be well, my prophet, just come back to me
Before I forget why I endure in the silence.

Colorful Words

It took me a while
To figure out just what you were doing.
I was deceived
By the colorful words you choose.
You fill your letters
With the words I never use,
That speak to emotions
I never could control,
Or understand.
But you don't use them clumsily like me,
They are an art you've learned,
To say more than you really feel,
To be elegant.
I am too blunt,
And when I avoid words like your eyes
It's to a purpose.
Trying to avoid feeling.
But like me coldly discussing my woes
With strangers on the Net,
You hide by confronting the beast,
And pretending rather than analyzing.
An illusion of emotion to hide behind.
It's no wonder I fell into your web.
Here, I thought you bold and secure,
Daring to say aloud
What I could barely begin to contemplate,
Never articulate.
Deceiver.
Weaver of lies.
How do I know when what I hear is heartfelt?
When all your words
Alternatively make me weep,
And then seem cold.
If only you could speak frankly,
Especially of sex in English
Instead of Latin.

Untitled

It's so late.
The house is still but for me.
My eyes are tired and heavy,
But I can't go to bed yet.
Only awake can I think of you.
I worry about you.
What happens that I don't know about?
If you died, would anyone even tell me?
Such heart-chilling fear.
How do we—
We who hide from every feeling—
Learn to express it without resorting to such fear?
O fragile, wounded heart,
How do I heal you
And avoid the pouring of salt?
How do I keep you safe
When I bleed from so many wounds?
Unanswerable questions
Without an addressee to reply.
Good night.
Maybe the dawn will wing your words to me
So I can keep on wondering.
Better than knowing the truth.

Not Knowing

Do you ever think about
What your future life might be like?
Who you'll be,
Where you'll be,
What you'll have to show for yourself?
Kids, spouse, work, brainchild?
Wondering and planning,
I do them obsessively.
Details, details.
It used to be that my mate, my children,
Were nameless and faceless.
Ghosts.  Not real.
But my spirit of wonder has been replaced.
Now, each have a name and face.
Moments in time,
As if I see the future
Instead of just imagine it.
It's your face that I see there
Across a candlelit dinner,
And in my daughter's smile.
Even my dreams are transformed.
From cold and pleading an end to loneliness,
To desperate fear
That a man I have yet to win
Would feel pain or leave these dreams undone.
I used to wish myself harm
To test your love, to make you admit it,
But rather now I pray
That each stretch of silence
Will quickly find an end.
When we are so far apart,
Who will think to tell me,
As I dream of our son's eyes,
That I dream in vain,
That your own fears of early death
Have found you first?
It's your thoughtful silence,
The quiet unknown,
That chills my heart more than
Even fear of my own broken heart.
My God keep you...
If only I believed.
Run with the crowd, my love,
And let it carry you back to me.
Live, at least another day, for me.

 

Reply

I’m still waiting for an answer.
I remind myself frequently
Of the days between messages
And how busy you must be,
But my own paranoia is the undercurrent of my thoughts.
Fearing the worst,
But still desperately hoping this isn’t over.
Oh, I’ve done some rash and foolish things,
But never about you, only about me.
So much safer to say how I feel
Than to try to predict your feelings.
I’ve been there, you know,
Too close and the defenses kick in.
Fight or flight are my fastest reflexes.
You don’t keep this shit inside so long without them.
Even these days, trying to be patient,
Unwilling to add inane little comments to the aftermath,
I miss you.
Even the one-way monologues helped,
Knowing that eventually you’d be listening.
Why did I not tread more lightly?
Why not hold back even a week?
Please come back and let me be the strong one.
Eventually, you’ll get your turn, I hope.
Why am I so afraid when you’re even more hurt and frightened now?
Two more days and I’ll find you myself.
Don’t turn this into a fight.
Please, answer me, and tell me what you’re thinking.

Untitled

The library is quiet but for the creaking of the shelves,
And the gentle push of pencil on paper.
I try not to think of the setting.
I’d rather be alone somewhere else,
Where I can talk aloud to myself,
Or else, anywhere with you.
My speculative powers have become quite acute,
Feverishly trying to prepare for the inevitable questions.
What do I feel?  Why?  How much?
What does this have to do with me?
Where am I going?
Of course, you may surprise me.
There are moments when I think your façade is so fragile,
The slightest direct question will leave you weeping in my arms.
And others when I question my intuition,
That I may only send you running.
Truth is more likely a middle ground,
But how far and to which side?
I know I’ve made this more complicated,
But how many times must I apologize?
My love, I won’t leave you,
But how can I watch you suffer?
What can I do now but hope my pacing pays off?

Mirror

Mirrors are dangerous things.
They seem to reveal whatever looks back
But everything is backward,
And it takes some effort
To become accustom to reading what we see,
We also can train ourselves to see what we like,
To see less or more as it pleases us.
There are risks we take
In assuming what we see is true.
Even knowing these things,
I pretend to understand you.
I suppose it’s a little arrogant,
And I don’t understand all that I see,
But it’s too familiar to ignore.
It’s a little like seeing myself
Somewhere around fifteen or sixteen—
Yes, so long ago,
But when I was still engaged,
And before the first major crash.
There are some differences in experience,
In perspective, and in self-inflicted wounds,
But these are not the real source
Of the façade I recognize so well.
My own terrible darkness
Returns to answer your reflection.
My motives are less complex than the problem.
Breaking this mirror can’t help,
It’s just denial, and things don’t change.
And maybe it’s the mirror I see
Because I still can’t look at you alone.

This Feeling

The pain in my chest distracts me.
I stare at my ceiling
Soaking up this new sensation,
Blocking out the glare of the lamp
With the pillow clutched to my breast.
What does it mean?
Ah, my lips tremble against the satin sheet
Begging for that absent mouth.
I cling to the pillow as if it were him,
Fighting off the sleep trying to claim me.
I cannot let this end now!
Ah, this feeling!
It must never go away.
How long must I stay awake to keep it fresh in my brain?
How long to keep it so physical?
Never have I so dreaded the night.
As if m brain is not enough,
My body betrays me, too.
He is the One.
Just tell me how to make this feeling last forever.

 

Freak

I play the outsider well;
I relish the role.
Why try to gain acceptance
When that requires normalcy?
Do it because you know no one else will.
Do it because no one else can.
Singularity has its power.
Somebody must get it though.
One stumbles upon them here or there,
Standing aloof like you,
Whether with amusement or disgust,
Watching as the rat race passes them.
Kinship there.
The blood brotherhood of the rejected.
We cling to each other,
Generally in twos,
Being outsiders together.
But not belonging even that much,
Just nowhere else to go.
But I’ve found a new reason to stay,
Answering a lifelong craving.
Even as we frown on the norms
And cherish our uniqueness,
We long not to feel like freaks.
So many others have come before you.
The freakishness remained.
But I marvel now.
I can only keep asking
Why don’t I feel like a freak anymore?

Kiss Me

I’ve been dreaming about you.
No more terrible nightmares like I used to have,
Or desperate, impossible hopes in silence.
Waking dreams and sleeping dreams,
All about that first big step
Into what has always been possible
But waiting patiently for you.
Such distraction!
All I can think about is your kiss,
Gentle but deepening
Until our tongues entwine
And I lose myself in your taste
And the pounding of my heart in my chest.
Smiling even to think of it,
My anticipation grows to see you again.
My doubts plague me.
He won’t do it tonight, surely.
But my longing to have you inside me,
Even this much,
Consumes my reason and my fear.
Kiss me, and heal me.
Hold me, and take me into your world.
Please.
What do I have to do to make you kiss me?

What Do I Have to Do?

So much joy to see you,
And so much hurt to leave you.
How can you expect me to give up trying
When my soul cries only your name?
I feel your defenses locked in place.
Is it yourself you protect?
Or do you harbour some silly notion that I need it?
You break me down and get inside my head
And then cruelly, with a smile,
You speak my worst fear as if this is a good thing.
What else can I do but bide my time?
Clinging to that barely spoken “probably not”
Instead of “never”.
You don’t know how long it’s taken me to come this far—
The pain and the heartache and the loneliness—
The price I’ve paid to find you,
Or to feel this way for you.
How can I give in to the despair and futility that will surely follow?
Do you even know the sacrifices I would make to get you?
Each day I fight off thoughts to manipulate you.
Do I need to get you drunk to get you into my bed?
Do I need to offer my body as the mother of your children?
What wouldn’t I do?
What if I were more like you?
Shall I become a nude model, or sell my body for money?
Is it my innocence you fear to damage?
God damn you!
There will be no one else but you.
Without you, I will die alone,
A bottle my only companion.
With you…
What can’t I do?

Hating

My heart is a bed of confusion.
I never know what I’m feeling.
So many voices warring within me.
So many voices all shouting at me so loudly.
Please stop!
It’s not fair to you,
But one of the voices screams to hate you
For not being able to give me what I want.
And I hate myself for thinking it,
For wanting too much,
For needing so much more even.
And now, will you hate me for hating me?
Do you think you know me?
How can you, when I don’t know myself?
Where are these feelings coming from,
And why are they so strong?
Please forgive me,
I don’t know what I’m saying.
Who is talking, after all?
What are my motives?
I don’t know anymore.
I don’t deserve you.

Tide

You said one time
That I do everything with passion.
I can only smile ironically
Because it’s all too true.
My intensity, however,
Is as much a curse as a blessing.
My wild, volatile personality
Is only just barely under control,
And not always then.
My control is all that keeps
The tide of my emotions
From overwhelming me
And anyone else nearby.
There are no little fears,
Little hurts or little joys.
Only great hurts,
Great fears and great joys.
And only time and safe solitude
Helps me rein them in for public consumption.
I know that I’ve hurt you,
And I know I’ve likely scared you, too.
Why you hang around for the next emotional onslaught…
Well, knowing I would have run
In lesser circumstances…
The question that it comes down to is this:
If we can’t kick the moon out of orbit,
How long can you really take it?

Thank You

I awoke this morning
Married to a sense of panic in my heart
That finally made these last three days make some small measure of sense.
These last two weeks have been nothing short of intense,
And the last nine of those days
Probably the best of my life,
Even considering my most recent outburst.
That feeling I had when you left me Friday
After our long hours of talking only to each other
Was more pleasure than I thought one person could experience all at once.
And after talking more on Monday,
Tuesday was full of giddy delight
That you could ask me any question
And I could answer with honesty and without hesitation.
We talked of things I rarely, if ever, discuss,
And I felt so close to you
It was all I could do not to throw my arms around you
When finally did succeed in surprising me on Wednesday.
But that wonderful, liberated feeling
Was bound to demand its price sooner or later.
More insidious to do so unconsciously and without warning.
I had lost control of my feelings and any direction for my life,
And some fear drove me to take back control,
And turned my vulnerability into fragility to make me comply.
And just as intense as the wonder of past days,
So was the volatility and unpredictability of the backlash.
The tears and avoidance were just the start.
Please don’t hate me.
I never let anyone in, and I had no way of knowing,
But lesson learned.
When I received your message yesterday,
That postponement and time were the better part of valour,
I felt such relief.
I may not always have it,
But I know good sense when I see it.
If I have learned anything at all by this
It’s that even though I think I love you,
I really have no business thinking it.
I’m not ready, and without your good sense,
And even your own measure of fear,
I would only end up making a still bigger mess of my life.
Thank you for putting up with me,
And for still being my friend.

Too Risky

I know you’ve meant well by all you’ve done,
But my desires are at war
With the instincts I have obeyed so long.
But what is any of this to me?
As long as I don’t think about the consequences,
Risk is an easy thing.
The price I pay for my lack of forethought
Is, therefore, often higher.
But thinking too much
Generally freezes me in my tracks,
Unable to face any preconceived risk.
It is into this milieu that you have drawn me,
Coaxing me to change.
And I’ve let you lead me,
Following blindly and unafraid,
Until the long-avoided consequences have found us both.
Is this too much risk?
Because now I have you, too, to consider.
Is the risk too much for you,
After how much I’ve already hurt you,
And with the risks you’re already taking for yourself?
How can I know if it’s worth it?
Is it too much risk
For some unknown dream?
What will you do now?

Singularity

One.
What is the meaning of this?
Why do I seem to end up here
Over and over?
I tell myself I don’t want it
And each thing I do alone
Cries to me of its wrongness,
But so familiar.
Give up, give over, hang on.
My feet wander in circles.
Two steps forward.  Two steps back.
Where am I?  Where should I be?
How do I tell the difference here
Between zero and one anyway?
I can’t be like this forever.
How much more can I be expected to bear?
Like the singularity,
There is strength all alone,
But too much of it leads only to collapse.
What is there to a singularity really?
No size, no mass, what is it?
Only the forbidding gravity that makes everyone collapse, too.
Someone rescue me.
Only a singularity as lonely as me.
Shall we orbit a while
Before we become singular together?

Hold Me

Hold me again.
It will seem so long before I see you,
Two weeks seem an eternity.
So much work to do,
But I am unable to concentrate except on you.
Even in those half wakeful hours of early morning,
My body betrays me,
As if you held me still,
Not now through the thick wool of winter coat
But directly against my skin.
It felt so safe in your arms,
My cheek pressed against your shoulder.
I did not want to say good-bye.
I did not want to let go.
This winter child even longs now for summer
When unburdened arms and bodies
Make the same gesture more intimate still.
Hold me again,
And this time, I promise not to let go.

Patience

Oh, I must learn patience!
All my thoughts return to you,
Making my everyday tasks all but impossible.
My thoughts race ahead
To events I can hardly dream of
But cannot help but hope for,
Wanting things I cannot have
And that would certainly drive me
Out of fear to do… what?
I have no prescience here
And only a little past to draw on.
I know I want more than I can take,
But still I want it.
A part of me leaps at the chance,
Pleased at last to ignore the risk,
But I must develop patience.
Oh, but so much easier if you hated me
Rather than creep along like this.
Still, we move forward.
The waiting is killing me.
How will I make it these two weeks until I see you?
And how will I contain my feelings then?
My love, I cannot wait.
Take me into your arms
And show me all that I ask for.
But the love of the body
Without the mind behind it?
My fear will guide my hand in practice
And give me the look of this patience,
Though my heart aches without you.
Soon, I must have them both.
Until then, this patience permits me only my dreams.

 

Hoping

How you tantalize me
With your what-ifs.
You give me cause to hope
And then cut me down the next.
The cuts hurt me,
But they are outnumbered
By my own dreams
And your little, hopeful clues.
I choke on your “probably not”s
And cling to the private questions you ask,
The smiles and how you feel fifteen.
The agonizing slowness of it all.
How my head spins!
I know you need the time,
Perhaps even more so than me.
I can only lead you
But you must make each move first.
I don’t want to hurt you,
But hurry faster,
Or quiet your wagging tongue.
Too much hoping already.

Weakness

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run,
Not anymore.
The numbers climb and climb with each hour.
How could I even know where to begin?
It’s so much easier to run than to face you;
At least I know where my running takes me,
But how can I know with you?
I orbit you like a planet a sun,
Basking in the pleasure you shower on me.
Dare I say you are but a catalyst,
But it hardly matters, for without you…
I would have only the cold vacuum for company.
You’ve asked me to change.
Stop running.  Stop hiding.
What are you really inside?
I don’t think I even know anymore,
So thick is my shell.
I’m afraid it’s much like glass.
If I let you peer in, will it break?
Will I break and shatter like a window pane?
You’ve seen it now, you know what happens.
Isn’t it your turn to run like hell?
My weakness is the wall I’ve built.
How can I control the flood when the walls begin to fall?
Show me how to be what you need,
Without losing myself in you
Or in the flood of feelings that are sure to follow.
How can I know if I’m ready, if I’m strong enough?
Catch me when I fall.

 

Intimations

I have those feelings for you.
I’ve told you as much,
Much as I’ve let you keep guessing some parts.
If you’ve read my words, you’d know,
But only some have passed your sight.
It’s an incomplete picture,
And one I struggle to maintain for at least a little while longer.
I’m still afraid of my own vulnerability.
These secrets preserve some semblance of strength
By feeding on your own questions,
But I don’t want the distance it requires.
Still my fears maintain it.
What measure of boldness is needed,
And who must make that move?
Even my small efforts have come back at me,
Trying to rein in what I can only see as inevitable.
Even my certainty I suppress
Because I hear your fears on your lips,
Begging me not to push too hard.
When I am not so frustrated,
I begin to smile at our little dance,
And watch us slowly spiral closer.
Time and a kiss will cure my silence.
How much must I say to gain your trust,
And when do you want to know?
Embrace me like a lover,
And there will be no more secrets.

 

INDEX                             PAGE 15                              PAGE 17


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