Indigo Girl

Left alone, thoughts ring and bells toll

Clanging inside my brain; memories running down

Corridors, splitting off at the junction. Persephone – dead,

That wilted little wretch with amazing airs and graces,

Grating on the pickle of pain. Demeter with her blind eye,

Hades and his Jekyll juice Pomegranate wine

Infiltrating an indigo child holding her breath

Mauve dug in, embedding her chariot rose

Heart to a stranger. Charon, larger than life

Roaming the dark halls, death casting shadows

Wherever he went, survival weaving invisible

Threads; a silver road to nowhere, her woven makeshift

Sanctuary cocoon. It was Persephone alone in the darkness,

Warm amongst catacombs and the river Styx

Charons lantern waving in the distance side to side

taking an age to dawn here in the crawlspace of time, refuge

Settled in like mothballs and cobwebs
swung between the skull and

Crossbones; A subterranean
Mosaic of Dante’s Inferno

Where prayer echoed off the walls
falling, on deaf ears and forgiveness

Became a hopeless lost cause.
© Copyright 2018, Jodine Derena Butler & Poetry Out West. All Rights Reserved

11 Typical Unintentional Behaviors of Emotionally Hurt People

The Dance of Alchemy

Atlas Justice

‘Come here, you little scallywag’ said Mama J to Atlas with an I’m-onto-you grin. He was sneaking down the deck stairs with his iPad and it was raining!

‘Oh no you don’t ‘ said Mama J again. Atlas stopped on the first step and glanced over his shoulder at her with a flick of his eyes and a cheeky smile.

‘Bring that to me you little scallywag’.

Atlas had a habit of destroying iPad’s like they were rice crackers; protective cases would be broken and cracked, he’d touch type with his toes and crack screens but his most annoying habit of all, was getting the damn things wet!

At around $700 a pop, minimum, he went through about one (or two) a month. Not on my watch, thought Mama J. Atlas turned and came back up the step.

‘You can’t take the iPad in the rain’ she said explaining the rules. ‘What are you going to do if it gets ruined? You won’t have an iPad to play with and that means you’ll turn into a shitty, whinging, annoying little ball sack!’

Atlas giggled. He was sharper than he let on too. We could all see the cog’s of his brain working overtime planning and scheming, playing on his non-verbal affliction like Marcel Marceau.

We used to call him Houdini, still do sometimes when he’s found a way to escape. Atlas has a habit of casing the joint, any joint, working out it’s strengths and weaknesses and waiting for the opportune time to enact his plan.

He once stole a fob key and let himself out of his school! He was found in a big garbage bin full of flattened cardboard boxes. The school had to change their security policy. He was 6.

I prefer Houdini for Atlas Justice. He was a master at deception and a skilled manipulater when it came to maximising his performance too.

Atlas would make an excellent burglar, thought Mama J. He had an opportunistic streak that takes full advantage of any situation that suited him.

You couldn’t help but laugh. He was a genius really, underneath all that anger and frustration. He didn’t like being caught or told he couldn’t do or have something. He’d lash out like a Tasmanian Devil and come at you with his fingernail claws and gnashing teeth.

Mama J caught Atlas in her periphery taking another step outside, sneaking down the steps.

‘Oui! Get back up here or I’ll take it off you! Move!’

It was going to be one of those days. ‘The Dance of Alchemy’, Mama J called it. Balancing fun and happiness with a firm I’m-not-going-to-take-any-of-your-shit undertone that meant business.

Atlas moved back onto the deck and sat himself down at his table. So far, so good. He was listening today. Mama J breathed a sigh of relief, leaned back into her chair, had a sip of coffee and admired the rain nurturing her garden.

© Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising 2022

Call the Shots

Archangel Michael

I know where I stand

You know what I want

I have what you need

Value me and my worth

Nothing comes for free

Trust and betrayal

Go both ways

I am an older woman

My desires are different

I don’t have my whole life ahead of me

I have my best years yet to come

It’s all up to you

It’s called love

It’s called commitment

You’re not fucking over another woman!

I mean it with every fibre of my being

Don’t fuck with my head and heart

Love is not a fucking game

Calling the shots.

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved

The Big Boss Chair

Atlas Justice in the Big Boss Chair

Atlas Justice was sitting in his Dad’s boss chair. His Dad was the boss and things would get done or he’d say ‘FUGAZI!’ and hang up the phone!

Atlas watched his Dad doing his work, sorting things out, making things work. He knew when the Bat Phone started to ring, that Dad would have to deal with some other things.

Atlas ‘The Little Don’ loved Dad’s chair, he would chair dance with Mama J when he wasn’t there. They’d swivel and twirl, backwards and forth, round in circles and Dulcie Doh!

(Atlas was in a world of his own)

When Dad was away he liked to just sit, in the big boss chair while he twisted it. One day Mama J moved dinner to the desk, she sat down beside him, like she did with his Dad.

The Little Don respected the big boss chair and made no extra mess anywhere. He knew it was important to be respectful, he was not going to get into any trouble.

‘One day’ he thought, ‘I’ll be a big man!’ He wanted to be just like his Dad. Atlas was grinning from ear to ear, he knew that one day he would get there.

He wanted to say ‘FUGAZI’ too, to all those twats who doubted him. ‘I’ll carve my own way in my head and show Dad how hard he had worked’.

The Little Don Atlas loved his Dad, he knew he was a decent man, made of old school honour and grit, he wanted to make Dad proud of him.

He’d learn to speak and become a man too and show his Dad how much he loved him. He’d sit in the Boss chair and he’d say, ‘I love you Da. I always have’.

© Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising 2022

I Can’t!

Henwood

Henwood the Woodster, ‘Woody’ for short, was having a hard time making things work. He decided he’d try to put on his shoes, he had his socks on, this he could do but when he was trying to tie up his lace, he went round in circles again and again!

He had it all sorted inside his head going over and under and grabbing both ends but when it came time to twist through the hole, he couldn’t do it and he started to howl.

He was losing his sh*t, you could see it build up — till he finally snapped and then kicked a plant! He stamped his foot, let out a grunt, threw his hands in the air and said, ‘I CAN’T!’

He did a big sigh, he was doing his best but it was p*ssing him off so he gave up instead. He called to his mum with tears in his eyes, but he was trying really really hard not to cry.

It was doing his head in figuring it out, his brain was too quick for his hands to catch up. He almost had it before he gave in, but true to his form he kept persisting.

Woody the Woodster tried many times but his brain was so fast he couldn’t keep pace. He would get half way there and once more he’d snap, throw his hands in the air and yell, ‘I CAN’T!’

‘Its not working’, he said, his face going red, ‘I can’t seem to get the last little bit. Mum, can you show me one more time? This time I’ll get it, I think I’ll be fine’.

Mum sat down with Woody the man and showed him just how to twist round his hand. She popped the loop right through the hole and pulled them tight to make they hold on.

Woody was studying the way that mum moved, he undid the lace and tried once more. This time he got the loop through the hole but couldn’t quite grasp the two loops at a time, threw his hands in the air and again said ‘I CAN’T!’

Woody the Woodster walked away in a huff, he’d try another way he said to himself. He knew that one day he’d learn to do it, so he’d try again tomorrow, ‘to hell with it!’

The next day was Sunday, they were all going out, he had to put shoes on and get it right. He sat down in the corner out of sight and worked on his laces this way and that.

All of a sudden he let out a cry, he’d made it work and was full of delight. ‘Look Mum!’ he said ‘it went through the hole, I pulled both the loops and I made a bow!’

‘You did!’ said Mum, ‘I knew that you could, you just needed time to understand it’. Woody was chuffed, he felt like a man, threw his hands in the air and said ‘I CAN!’

He pranced around in his shoes all day, running and jumping and feeling gay. He felt good about himself, he had learned a new trick, he took off running then started to skip.

‘I CAN!’ he thought, and away he went with his bigger brothers Ronan and Harken. They had a great day in a national park, made all the more better with Woody’s bright spark.

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved

FFS Atlas!

Atlas Justice & Matthew Phoenix

Dad woke up on the wrong side of the bed, Atlas had come in and pissed on his head! A mouthful of urine dribbled down from his chin, ‘for FU*K’S sake Atlas, GET OUT OF IT!’

Dad wasn’t off to a very good start and Looby had let off a foul smelling fart! He finally dragged himself out of his bed, and fumbled his way to the toilet instead.

The first pee of the day was always the best, Dad closed his eyes and listened to it. Atlas and Looby had followed him in, then all of a sudden it was silence…

Dad opened his eyes confused a little bit, he was still peeing but couldn’t hear it. He looked down at the toilet and what did he see? Atlas holding a cup under his stream! ‘for FU*K’S sake Atlas, GIVE THAT TO ME!’

Atlas looked at Dad’s face with a mischievous grin, then quick as lightening started drinking it! Dad looked at Atlas who was way off the chart and thought ‘this kid of mine wasn’t quite right’.

Dad had a shower and the kids disappeared, ‘this didn’t bode well, they’d be into shit!’ Dad hurried to get dressed and he braced himself, he was expecting carnage so he held his breath.

Dad had been right, they were up to no good, he walked into the kitchen and stood there stock still! His mouth dropped open as he looked all around, ‘for FU*K’S sake Atlas! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE NOW?!’

Atlas had opened the pantry door, Two Minute Noodles were all over the floor! He’d been in the fridge and freezer too, all the doors were left open and he’d emptied the food!

Looby wasn’t much better she’d found a toy, ripped it to shreds till it was destroyed. She had pulled out the stuffing with her fine front teeth, it was everywhere even on the TV!

Dad’s face was all red, he was about to explode, ‘if this shit continued, the boy would be sold!’ He’d place a sign around his neck saying ‘Free to a good home! For FU*K’S sake Atlas! THIS IS NO GOOD!’

Dad tidied and cleaned and put stuff away, there was SO much mess it would take half a day! Then he remembered the kids were downstairs but all he could think was he couldn’t hear noise.

He walked down the stairs hoping for the best but any minute now he’d run into the mess and sure enough as he rounded the corner, he could see the tap on and a flood of water!

Atlas had shoved facecloths into the plug, the water had no where to go except out. Up over the edge of the tub it came pouring, all over the floor and down the hallway. ‘for FU*K’S sake Atlas! THIS IS ANNOYING!’

Dad had had enough, he felt like a wreck, he’d hardly had time to wake up correct. Almost every morning he had to deal with this, he didn’t know how he was still coping with it. He felt defeated and wanted to cry, he needed to have a long time away.

Good thing it was Friday and thank God for Mama J, she was having Atlas on the weekend for two days. He refocused his energy and got Atlas to school, he’d deal with the mess later that’s all he could do.

Atlas and Looby were no where to be seen, ‘Oh no!’ thought Dad and raced back upstairs – just in time to see Atlas piss on his bed! ‘for FU*K’S sake Atlas, GO PISS ON YOUR OWN, and while you’re at it, GO GET A JOB!’

When he got home and looked all around, he felt very sad and very overwhelmed. He let out a sigh and one single tear, people really didn’t have any idea.

Dad life wasn’t much fun in the sun, for a single parent family with an autistic son. There was no support for Dad for respite, he tried everything but no one was right.

Atlas was high risk so care was specialised, there was no one to handle him who was qualified. Not only that but he needed two carers and the fund didn’t cover all these expenses.

Dad pulled himself together and cleaned the whole house, did all the washing and felt proud of himself. He packed up a bag for his weekend away and gave thanks for his beloved friend, Mama J.

He had an hour to himself before collecting the boy so he had a wee nap with Looby the dog. He drifted off all snuggled on his arm chair and started to look forward to not being there.

Mama J really, really did care.

Atlas Justice & Matthew Phoenix

© Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising 2022

The Little Toe Rag!

Atlas Justice

Mama J woke up on the wrong side of the bed, during the night she had tossed and she’d turned. Atlas woke her up at some ungodly hour, whinging and whining with fingernail gouges.

Mama J tried to calm him by rubbing his back, but he was carrying on like a right ole twat!

(Atlas was really, missing his Dad).

Bleary eyed and dopey, Mama J rose from her bed, she was doing her best to stop seeing red. She changed little Atlas out of his jammies, gave him some toast and some Vita Gummies.

Mama J was not in a very good mood, she wanted to sleep in and stay warm in her bed. Atlas decided he didn’t want toast he went for the pantry for something else!

(But that was too bad, he didn’t have a choice!)

Mama J wasn’t up for any of his sh*t, he would do what he was told, that was the end of it! He stamped and he growled and then bit his hand, gave her the death stare which said ‘do it now!’. That didn’t work either and she sat him back down, and told him to stop acting like stupid-ass clown!

He got up from his chair and grabbed his iPad, stamped his feet, whinged and then turned it up loud! Atlas thought he knew how to behave, so he created more noise to annoy Mama J.

Mama J adjusted her vibe a little bit, tried to stay calm and keep control of it. Even then the little toe rag wouldn’t stay put, continued being defiant and amped up the sook. Mama J switched off and ignored him altogether, turned on YouTube and played something mellow.

(She was not in the mood to entertain the little fellow.)

She was NOT going to put up with any of his crap, he was NOT going to have what he wanted to have! Atlas continued to open the pantry, Mama J continued to tell him to stay.

They did this for an hour before it sunk in, Atlas had realized he just couldn’t win. He finally sat down and ate all his toast, had a sip of water and played with his toes.

Mama J praised him and said ‘well done’, opened the pantry and said ‘here pick one’. Atlas had wanted to eat cupcakes instead but Mama J rewarded him when he was behaved.

Atlas looked at Mama J with a great big grin, he had pushed through and he’d had a win! Mama J was happy too and everything was fine, she had time to make coffee, relax and unwind.

Dad would be home soon for the rest of the day and Looby would do circles when she saw him again. There was nothing quite like it when the family were together, especially when Atlas was feeling much better.

Mama J was awake now and starting to move, dusting and vacuuming and wiping surfaces. She loved giving Dad a clean house to come home to, they made a good team and THAT’S what friends do.

Atlas Justice

© Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising 2022

The Rage Monster

Atlas Justice

Atlas was sleeping over at Mama J’s, while Dad had some very important family calls to make.

Everything was fine, lots of giggles and play — the garden hose, scattering and Dads shaving cream.

Atlas rocked on the couch in the media room, went into the playroom and did it there too.

He ate all his dinner and had a bubble bath, then crashed around ten with Looby the dog.

He woke during the night and jumped in with Mama J, he slept like a log until the next day.

Mama J didn’t get much sleep through the night, Atlas was all arms and legs — the little shite!

The next day was fine too, all enjoying the peace, while Looby ran around patrolling the place.

Then out from nowhere Atlas lost his sh*t! He scratched and he screeched, yowled and then bit!

Out came the fingernails, the gnashing of teeth but Atlas couldn’t say why because he couldn’t speak.

Mama J put the move on him and held both his hands, non-violent crisis intervention was planned.

Still, poor Atlas stomped and he kicked, he didn’t like being held, not one little bit!

After a while when he’d let out his rage, he burst into tears like a lost boy being saved.

Mama J went into action, soothing the little man, told him everything was alright and that he’d be OK.

It took a wee while but they came to a truce, Dad was on his way home and Atlas was dressed.

(Mama J had a bit of time to clean up some mess).

His bag was packed and Looby had stopped barking, they were patiently waiting for the gate to swing open.

Atlas rested his head on Mama J’s shoulder and she stroked his hair and gave him a cuddle.

Atlas and Mama J had scratches all over, so she applied Pawpaw cream to make it all better.

Then just as expected Dad finally arrived, a zombie-kind-of-cooked dad, but very much alive.

Atlas was almost back home to himself but much more subdued and with flushed cheeks as well.

Dad chatted with Mama J about the night he had had, celebrating the beloved Anna-Marie.

(with Rita and Bobby, Sonya and friend).

When it was time for both of them to leave, Dad gave Mama J a big hug and a kiss.

Atlas walked away quietly holding onto Dad’s arm, then Looby and Mama J crashed out on the couch.

Atlas Justice & Mama J (Jodine Derena Butler)
© Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising 2022

Where’s Our Daddy?

Looby (Princess Tallulabelle)

‘Wheres our Daddy?’ said Mama J. Dad was on his way home from a weekend away.

Everyone was waiting for Dad to arrive, all very happy and feeling revived.

Looby did circles and Atlas was all cheer. Mama J, so excited, nearly slid off her chair!

Everyone was waiting for Dad to get there.

Atlas & Looby (Princess Tallulabelle)

‘Where’s our Daddy?‘ said Mama J again, peering out the window with Looby and ‘The Man’.

Looby was transfixed, she refused to move, Atlas beside her both watching the road.

Atlas was grinning from ear to ear, rocking backwards and forwards in Looby’s bed.

The family could sense their Dad wasn’t far, any minute now they’d see the blue car.

Everyone was waiting for Dad to arrive.

Atlas (Justin Timberlake – ‘Say Something‘)

‘Where’s our Daddy?’ Mama J said once more, it was too much for them all, to be sure!

Everyone was beaming, they all loved their Dad, soon there’d be much more fun to be had.

Dad would be home soon feeling all chipper, relaxed and refreshed, feeling much better.

Then Mama J spied him, in his car pulling up, Looby’s ears pricked and Atlas was chuffed!

The garage door made a sound, he was almost here, then the door opened up, he was coming upstairs!

Looby, Atlas & Dad (Matthew Phoenix)

‘Here’s our Daddy!’ said Mama J to the kids, waiting to show Dad how much they loved him.

Mama J held back, watched them all from her chair, giving thanks for the love that was in the air.

Dad looked relaxed as he took it all in, he had recharged his batteries and felt good again.

Dad was at home, he’d come safely back, we all felt the love, kisses and pats — he even gave Looby’s fat a*se a smack!

Dad turned around and smiled at Mama J, (grateful the chance to have had time away), gave her a red rose and said, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. 🌹

The family were vibing listening to YouTube, all of them relaxed getting into the groove.

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising, 2022

Yabba Dabba Dad!

Matthew Phoenix

Yabba Dabba Dad jumped up and down, dancing a jig and acting the clown.

He couldn’t remember the last time alone, without Atlas or Looby following him round.

Yabba Dabba Dad was so full of beans, his face was radiating sparkly sun beams.

It was finally Friday, a weekend away, all by himself, alone for two days!

Yabba Dabba Dad shot out the door so fast, he left a trail of smoke as he flew past!

His feet were on fire, his mind was all set, he was on a mission to reset and forget.

Yabba Dabba Dad needed a break, to recharge his health, take care of himself.

It wasn’t about Atlas or Looby as such, he was just tired from doing so much.

Yabba Dabba Dad struggled to get through, all of the things that single dad’s do.

Day in, day out they blurred into one, sometimes dad life wasn’t much fun.

Yabba Dabba Dad was doing his best but every Dad needs a few days to rest.

Atlas and Looby would both be OK, they were having a sleepover with Mama J.

Yabba Dabba Dad was heard driving away, yelling ‘Cocaine and hookers, weed and drag race!’ 😂

(yelling ‘WOOHOO, bring it on! HIP HIP and HOORAY!)

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved
First published on Raising Atlas Rising

Looby — Get Out of the Way!

Dad is making breakfast in the kitchen.

The toaster goes FffAP!

Two slices of toast leap into the air, flying crumbs are everywhere.

Looby sitting under foot, pricks her ears and has a look.

Dad nearly jumps out of his skin and Atlas turns to see the din.

Dad swivels to catch the flying toast but Looby was standing way too close.

A paw, a slipper, a yelp and a shriek, dad nearly crashes head first in the sink!

One of them knew just what to say, it was dad telling Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is hanging out the washing in the garden.

The screen door goes THhhUNK!

Atlas came out to show dad his toy, Looby had followed and was full of joy.

She waddled and sniffed, chose a fine spot, and what do dogs do? She sat down to squat.

She grunted and sneezed, hunched and then squeezed – this time it wasn’t only just wees!

She scratched and pawed, bumped into dad’s leg – knocked him off balance what more could be said?

Dad took a step back and stood in the poo, threw his hands in the air and said, ‘not this too!’

He hopped as he landed while she jumped away, ‘for goodness sake Looby, GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is bringing Atlas’ lunch by the pool.

A ball hits his head with a TWAaCK!

Dad had to juggle or else he would trip, a plate of full of sandwich’s had started to tip.

A handful of odd sorts of things left his fingers, poor Dad had to struggle just to stay nimble.

Atlas was splashing, giggling and such, a huge smile on his face watching the fuss.

Then out from under the table shot Looby, spying a sandwich – her lunch had come early!

Dad’s face had gone red, he was losing his sh*t, he’d had enough, he was over it!

She was up-setting the balance that day, ‘for goodness sake Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is cleaning Atlas’ bedroom.

The vacuum cleaner goes PffMPT!

Dad peered down at a half eaten sock, ‘Oh no’ he said, the nozzle was blocked!

He bent down to fix it and pull it out, but Looby the dog would have none of it.

She jumped up and yapped and then bit the bar, Looby was taking it way too far!

Atlas had wandered away up the stairs, both of his fingers were shoved in his ears.

None of them wanted to deal with the mess, first it was breakfast now it was this!

Dad rolled his eyes and started to shake, ‘for goodness sake Looby, GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is preparing everyone’s dinner.

The pantry door slams shut with a SLAaP!

Atlas had been helping himself! He thought he would sneak a handful of stuff.

Fistfuls of crackers, biscuits and junk, he was not going to eat what Dad made with love.

Dad took those things off him and had a fit, he growled at poor Atlas and told him to sit.

Typical Looby had started to bark, protecting the family from imagined  harm.

She ran in then away, yapping all the while, a barrel of legs, ears and snout and a nub for a tail.

Dad barked right back and told her to stay! ‘For goodness sake Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is resting in his lounge chair.

The volume on Atlas’ ipad goes UP!

Atlas was listening to clips at the table –  balloons pop, things rip and the sound of crunched gravel.

Dad’s tired eyelids were about to close, he’d sneak a quick nap while the boy was amused.

Needless to say the day was not over, what more could happen Dad started to wonder?

Looby was asleep in between Dads leg’s, but the sound going up, had hurt Looby’s ears.

All of a sudden she jumped up and barked, stood on Dad’s balls and did a loud fart!

Dad’s eyes flew open, he grimaced in pain, ‘for goodness sake Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is putting Atlas to bed.

The curtain rod fell off, hit the floor with a CLAaaNK!

Atlas had had fun, he’d trashed his room, toys were all scattered and clothes were all strewn.

Looby was standing all dopey and still, it was her bedtime, and she knew the drill.

She decided to be as quiet as a mouse, she was all sleepy and very tired herself.

Dad had to sort things and put them up high, but he tripped over Looby and let out a cry!

He stubbed his toe on the end of the bed, fell over head first, what more could be said?

He grimaced in pain, grabbed his foot and he howled, once again he raged ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Finally it was the end of the night, dad sat down in his chair and closed his eyes.

Looby had scratched and scrunched up her bed, did a few circles then lay down her head.

Atlas was curled up and fast asleep, it had been a big day, he was out to it.

The night was so quiet and everywhere was still. Goodnight dear family, sweet dreams and sleep well.

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising, 2022

The Process of Evolving with a Special Needs Child

Atlas Justice

Life is good
But sometimes it’s incredibly hard.

Atlas wakes up at 5am, jumps into bed and snuggles me. He’s wet, but I’m too tired to move except to throw my arm over him and pray he’ll fall back to sleep. Peace, lasted all of ten minutes.

Sleep deprivation creates at atmosphere that’s blurry at best and tunnel visioned at worst. Quick to rise, de-escalation tactics take all my efforts to stay cool, calm and reasonably collected while I fumble through toast and a nappy change.

I make my coffee, roll a cigarette and head outside to watch the sunrise from the balcony. So far, so good. Atlas is giggling with his iPad, seated at the table and picking at his breakfast. Happy, lasted all of 10 minutes.

He doesn’t want toast, he wants something from the pantry instead except that’s not going to happen. Out come the fingernails – gouging and scratching and a temperamental defiance that escalates into a full blown tantrum.

Matty storms out of the bedroom, red-eyed and livid and puts his foot down. Peace, lasts all of another ten minutes before the pattern repeats.

I’ve had enough too. Gone are my attempts to keep the child’s mood on an even keel, gone are those feelings of inadequacy that I can’t contain Atlas long enough to let his father have a much needed sleep-in and so I take him to his bedroom, shut the stairwell gate and try to discipline the problem.

I fail miserably.

Snap! The proverbial shit hits the fan once again and this time, silence is a warning best served cold. Matty descends, a leg is slapped, a door is slammed and peace returns for at least an hour this time.

Meanwhile, I contemplate taking Atlas out of the house for a drive before he starts the cycle again. I panic. My clothes are in the bedroom, I’m not sure where the car keys are, will Matty approve, will Atlas lose it in the car anyway? I decide to wait a while longer. My jaw is sore from grinding my teeth.

Matty needs respite but I’m all there is and so we lurch from dawn to well into the early hours, exhausted and running on fumes.

Atlas is a cockblocker too.

The countdown to esctasy on hold for the indefinite future. Foreplay, fails to get either of us off the ground or high enough to move to first base, let alone dive in fingers first and squeeze one out. The conditions of our release barely blow off steam and the only thing getting hard, is life for the next two months, while we reassess the situation.

A temporary adjustment. Life is actually pretty good. Most days Atlas is on form and we make a great team but school holidays with a child with special needs, without any respite, requires strategy.

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising, 2022

Oh No!

Image

Atlas & Dad (Matthew Phoenix)

Oh no! thought Atlas,

Looking at the mess.

Oh no! says Dad,

Not this again.

Nappy fluff is everywhere

There is no end

All over the carpet

In Atlas’ hair!

Oh no! says Mama J,

What is going on?

There’s fluff on the patio,

There’s fluff on the floor,

There’s fluff on the bed,

And there’s fluff on the walls!

There was no end

To the fluff Atlas caused.

A confetti of fluff

Had kept Atlas amused

He’d forgotten about other stuff

That he could be doing,

Like playing with Looby

Or arranging his toys

Or watching his iPad

And listening to noise.

Instead he made carnage

A world full of fluff!

Oh no! thought Atlas,

I think I’ve f*cked up!

Oh no! says Dad,

Ready to scold

Oh no! says Mama J,

Looking forlorn.

In the meantime, Atlas

Had sneaked out the back!

He’d snuck up the stairs

While they sorted it out!

He picked up his iPad

Plonked down on his chair

Grabbed a handful of crackers

Threw them in the air!

A squeal of happiness

Burst out from his mouth.

Oh no! exclaimed Dad,

Where’s Atlas now?

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising, 2022

The Motherless Child

Celtic Goddess Cordelia

Cordelia came in her Goddess gown, wild spring flowers in her hair.

She soothed my heart till I could lift my head high: pieces of me reflect back in her eyes.

I sobbed.

I let her see my broken vase and she caressed my skin like a lover.

My vase of cracks and fine lines filled—

The motherless child and I.

The Motherless Child

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved

Killing Heidi

Last night was a true clusterfuck.

This morning, she’s thinking about taking a class

Act

Flashbacks of a child making desperate promises she can’t keep

Pray

She learned there was no one who really cared

Naked

A victim of conditioned responses or lack thereof killing Heidi off

Halo

Inextricably separate, forever grieving the loss of her

Forgiveness

When all it takes is to swallow it down whole and roll

Die

Did Heidi know how much it hurt?
© Copyright 2019, Jodine Derena Butler & Poetry Out West. All Rights Reserved

Heidi

Behind the Door is a Metaphor

Image

Little Red Riding Hood wearing shoes, stepping through balancing on pins, holding on to handles in case the latch breaks and the garden gate swings shut, accidentally locking Goldilocks out while she’s peering through foggy windows vying for attention, except she’s standing on tiptoes wondering what went wrong wishing she was back behind a red door out of the cold, flying like Dorothy clicking her way upside down, looking around for a place called home behind a blue door, where fish peer out from holes in shipwrecks inside a fishtank looking outside into my world, wishing Ariel was a shark that ruled the universe with clown fish laughing behind closed doors ordering sushi, just so she could meet Sponge Bob and go out on a date in a restaurant behind a green door seated in a corner watching everyone stuff their faces on pork bones and rib cages smothered in red sauce that sticks to the side of her wicked stepmother’s face, picking breadcrumbs and gingerbread between crooked teeth, eyeing up the shoes hiding behind a wooden door in an attic where Cinderella keeps her mice, making it impossible for Alice to find the key to a parallel universe where her doppelganger is one of three fairies destined to raise Aurora into a raving lunatic behind bars, until a knight in shining armour sees her hair and hoists himself up into a flying machine, snatching Rapunzel before she ends up covered in thorns, talking to a teapot and candlestick waiting the hills to come alive, just so she can close the door and her eyes.
© Copyright 2019, Jodine Derena Butler & Poetry Out West. All Rights Reserved

Indigo Girl

Left alone, thoughts ring and bells toll,

Clanging inside my brain; memories running down

Corridors, splitting off at the junction. Persephone – dead,

That wilted little wretch with amazing airs and graces,

Grating on the pickle of pain. Demeter with her blind eye,

Hades and his jeckyll juice Pomegranate wine

Infiltrating an indigo child holding her breath.

Mauve dug in, embedding her chariot rose

Heart to a stranger. Charon, larger than life

Roaming the dark halls, death casting shadows

Wherever he went. Survival weaving invisible

Threads; a silver road to nowhere, her woven makeshift

Sanctuary cocoon. It was Persephone. Alone in the darkness,

Warm amongst catacombs and the river Styx.

Charons lantern waving in the distance

Side to side, taking an age to dawn.

Here in the crawlspace of time, refuge

Settled in like mothballs and cobwebs

Swung between the skull and crossbones; A subterranean

Mosaic of Dante’s Inferno where prayer echoed off the walls

Falling, on deaf ears and forgiveness became a hopeless

Lost cause.
© Copyright 2018, Jodine Derena Butler & Poetry Out West. All Rights Reserved

11 Typical Unintentional Behaviors of Emotionally Hurt People

Yellow

Image

Photographer Renk Renk Resimler

Yellow; traditionally the colour of death

Yellow roses in particular

Yellow, reminds me of my step-daughter

Yellow is also the colour of grief

the colour of cowardice and cowboy’s

jaundice and Nicorette

Lemons leave a bad taste in my mouth

Yellow. Not one of my favourite colours


Yellow

First published on Far North Fiction

© Copyright 2017, Jodine Derena Butler. ‘Poetry Out West’, All Rights Reserved


Sensitive Weed

Image

image

She takes her hand

in hers, stepping

over rocks, dodging

sensitive weed

to find that perfect

path – way, leading us

to wildflowers.

she picks, a hand –

full of petals,

their fragrant oils

soothing, essential

for healing cuts

and grazes. her

nasal senses over –

whelmed with purity,

nature; nurturing

an abundance

of calm. her soft

self centered,

journeys

into the wilderness,

out – back returning her

safely to her mothers’

roots. her legs,

gingerly circum –

navigate thorns

and misleading purple

fluffy flowers with

prickles. trust,

holding hands held

together,

finding safety

in the familiar

land – scapes,

sensitive to touch.

we are falling

in love.

© Copyright 2015, Jodine Derena Butler & ‘Poetry Out West’.  All Rights Reserved.

The Littlest Princess

image

She brings joy in little effervescent bubbles of fizz.

Tickling our hearts.

We fall about the place; laughter spontaneously combusts into a heap on the floor.

Heaven’s above!

Our stomach crunches burn. Her light beams ear to ear. Spreading over a meadow of wild flowers.

Do you think she knows?

We know. Her happy heart runs and jumps. Arms wide open. A glory to behold.

Pure love.

© Copyright 2015, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved

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