For My Children

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1.
I miss you both
It saddens me, that you hold on
with such contempt
that I must wait for you
to grow, make peace with yourselves
in order to find forgiveness
in others, in me

2.
I was not a perfect mother
I don’t know anyone who is
except in our minds,
which compare; an apropos
of nothing really

One thing you can both be sure of
is that I do my very best
with the ancient tools I was given
with dedication & commitment
to myself, to raise you both better
better than I had ever known
or been shown of love
& I love you both deeply

3.
The women in our family carry a curse
I believe, still being passed down
Great Grandmother to Grandmother,
Grandmother to Granddaughter,
Mother to Daughter – witnessed
eyes knowing cruel contempt
for women

Somehow the trauma each of us
experienced, experiences
real, imagined or embellished harm
passed down through our DNA
our nature
through our environments
our nurture
trying to show us the wisdom
to know the difference

It is a blessing
your tenacity, persistence
& determination
fight to right those wrongs
letting go the past moving on
steadfast in search of that love
you desire

Our cells remember
the past lives of our ancestors
those crossed paths imprinted
on our mind, body & soul
power & passion
did not escape unscathed; scarred
permanently
our heart skipped many beats

We observe each other
observed by our men (& women),
surviving their own stories,
our selves attract to ourselves
psyche healing vicariously
most of the time, everyone
learning to find peace, love
happiness taking its time –
but don’t be fooled by pride
awareness is awry, warning

I do my best to break this cycle
not expose you to harm
triggered reactions lead us astray
our nautical compass
navigates storms, skewiff
I cling to my internal lifesaver
lest I drown at sea

My own mother is a farce
painfully denied & despised
tea leaves attempt to predict failure
our grandmothers are responsible
for nothing but vindication
like her mothers mother’s mother

I am your mother
you came from my body
you are of my blood
I love you,
my mother could never say that
once, in past tense
once, in goodbye

4.
I refused to drink
drunkenness hurt me more than ever
in the past, I was scared

I refused to drug
& I was spiked for my efforts, in vain
I learned his true psychedelic colours

I refused to parade men; a room
full of strangers, who could
watch & wait for those opportune moments…

I must have failed
I feel like a failure, ashamed of myself
ashamed of you both at times too
but only because I see how it could end

I warn you about danger
from yourself from others
predators in the world prey
dark & destroyed souls
seek nothing but instant gratification
self-righteous justification
anger is violence
no excuse is proffered up
& we are all culpable to some degree

5.
I am a strong woman
I feel very deeply the injustices
of others, of yours, of mine
I only have myself to chastise
& you, that part of me I protect
in my mind

I am harder on myself
my self is much harder to bear
I expect much more than vengeance
to ease our hurt awakening anger
we need love & kindness
I only want the best for you, for me

I am also very proud of you both
I see two beautiful, independent
headstrong women, myself
on a good day
I want you to be happy, exude warmth
I need you to love me, back
the way I loved you, back then
when we would all laugh & play
when we all had our innocence & joy
I want you both to come home

6.
I feel pain of the most heinous kind
happiness eludes me most days
searching, my self finds traces
of her, that little girl that became
lost in the ethereal space between
what was & what could have been
she separated parts of her self
doted & despised, both
in continual conflict

I have memories, denied versions of truth
I struggle to reconcile – I feel violated
I despise lies & deceit, power & control
I wrestle with such terrifying demons
who tempt me to trust & I am often
mistaken – I no longer believe it exists
on a bad day

7.
My fear became terror
when they both laughed
& came for me in my corner
I was held down while the soap stick
ripped through me
turning me inside & out
as I floated away
I was 4

My cat could have been shot
in front of me
he held up the gun, she held
the cat steady
“do you think the bullet will go
straight through?”
I was 5 or 6

My life could have been over
when I choked
but he said “she’s not my kid”
I pulled the sinewy gristle out
by myself spewing onto my plate
I was 6

He told me I was ugly
unwanted, unloved
I should never have been born
but I had a guardian
He told me “it’s meant to be this way,
it won’t be like this forever”
I was 6 or 7

My body knew pleasure before
it knew pain, before he touched me
& my spirit carried me
away to safety
I was 8

I watched him
his violence incarcerating those cows
chained, their backbones
smashed with a galvanized pipe
they had no where to go
I remember blood pouring from sores
like an avalanche
I was 8 or 9

My eyes saw the Sheep’s throat cut
with a blunt knife
he held our heads together
forcing us to watch, laughing
I was 10

I might have felt loved
if I wasn’t told it was the worst day
of my mother’s life when I was born
on my birthday
I was 13

His brother was a sneak
he came into my bedroom
he tried, I failed in his eyes
his brother’s too
though he was blind
I was 16

I trusted him
the Blue Mountains forever etched
into my brain
it was midnight
“if you don’t…I will leave you here
& they will find your body”
there was a cyclone in 1984
I was 16 then too

Death, like Charon is ever present
He resides beside & inside us
He will happily take us one way or another
if we let Him
I refuse to pay although I am tempted
He doesn’t give a shit at the end of the day
so don’t waste time entertaining him
or sway your hips to his tune

8.
My heart only ever loved one man
My Grandfather
I never knew my Father, not
until I was 17
& now I don’t want to know
because violence is not OK for you two
but I must have deserved it

I might be his daughter
but he only raised boys
he doesn’t know how much
daughters need their Fathers
you both need your Father
I needed my Father

I knew this, then & now
I never withheld them from you
I fought for them as much as for you
so that they understood
how to love, the girls who would become women
so you can recognise a gift
when you see it
& trust

9.

We all watch the slow erosion of her innocence, see her wrestle in defiance

like I saw you, like I saw myself
she is my light & she heals me
her gentle softness radiating like a Halo
I heal her, my nurture having been
honed because of you, thank you

11.
I love you both with all my heart

It is no coincidence Karma
your boys will teach you everything
else you need to know
perhaps the curse is broken?
It was always meant for you
to become
the beautiful mother that you are
please understand, your boys
need me as much as I need them

Leisa, whether you like it or not
you are an extension of my self
I feel very proud of you & of myself
pain is like fire, it burns
I prefer to view my fire as a controlled burn
as part of nature’s regeneration
it makes way for new growth,
stronger roots & solid ground
I need you
as much as you need me

© Copyright 2015, Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Common Threads

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‘Tapping in’ by Jonathan Solter

I’m nearly fifty, but I feel nigh
on ninety on a bad day.

This past week has been absolute
Hell on earth.

I’ve been triggered back
to being a child.

Losing her felt like losing
innocence; myself years ago. 

Traumatized, I thought
about ending it all.

The relationship.

But to my credit, my common sense intervened, giving me a serve. 

My man became a man in my eyes.
Not just another man.

Not just any old man.
My man.

Trauma has an ugly side;
it brings people to their knees

where they may as well be pissed on while their down there.

I am so worried for her…

/

How to reach me in that state, is almost futile. 

Almost.

I hear them knocking, butting their heads up against my wall, the double

thick English brick kind; multiple layers of insulating red. 

I pretend it’s nothing more, nothing less. 

“I don’t care”, I resign.

But then my beautiful man drew,
drawing me a shoebox.

Explaining how pain lives, dies
and re-lives inside my brain.

Overwhelmed with grief, I lift the lid
crawl inside and relive my dark past

over and over. Ashamed. 

He lifted my chin, to meet his gaze.
He held me. Loving me more

in that one single moment, I trusted.
“It’s no good” he said.

/

At the 11th hour, we failed. Let down, we had no voice. Mute

blind, deaf and dumb in one single sentence.

The system of things is definitely flawed. 

Corrupt?

That would be making an unjust statement. 

For those in the hot seats, forced
to call the shots, know many lives

are at stake. It must take its toll.
But I have no sympathy.

Our truth was not heard. 

Our fatal flaws not even our own; her
actions (or lack there of), denied.

A resounding ‘NO’ echoes through
my shriveled neurons finding dead

ends. My synapses have nothing
left to ignite. 

My family are in shock. 

My family was slit right down the guts; entrails threatening to turn us inside

out. We were split.

/

Here in our beloved home away from home.

He said, “you cant carry the torch
all on your own”. 

He said “I can’t watch your fire fade to black, your candle flicker in the wind”.

Sinking

deeper into that hole; my abyss dragging me into its darkest depths.

Broken. 

I could no longer hold my fractured pieces together. 

In my mind I dispersed like a million stars on a clear night. 

/

My self died a little bit more that day.

In my room with four walls,
no windows, no doors and no light

my world ceased to exist
and everyone in it.

It’s time to let go, heal.

He gave me hope.
understanding beyond anything

I have ever experienced
through years of therapy

1.  PROBLEM: Being torn.

I think of my beloved stepdaughter.
Everyday.

2.  INTAKE:  Its difficult

coming to terms and all that
that entails I cannot reconcile.

3.  PROCESS: Grief

Pain \ Anger / Trauma \ Up / Down
bracing \ myself for a hell ride.

Depression.

4.  STRATEGISE: Break –

down my past, hurt and forge ahead.
Gathering strength, wisdom and hope.

5.  EXECUTE: Eat.

Drink (water). Rest. Cry. Garden. Bathe.
Write to heal, even when my body

wants to heave. 

/

I look after my family.
Nigh on three years now in my own

special way. Not in a traditional way. 

I’m a hopeless cook.
I don’t appreciate housework.

I’ve been neglectful at being
the proverbial ‘good’ housewife.

My desire to grow flowers, fruit
and vegetables is my compromise.

Growing something edible to put in
the kitchen – for someone else to cook.

I hold us all together in many ways. Focusing on her safe and sound.

Consistent.

Loving, gentle kindness; watering
our gardens together.

/

Our home is beautiful.

Everyone finding that remembered
piece of themselves there; a sense of

belonging my own children lack. 

I want them to say, “I’m coming home”.  I want my beautiful, bitter, twisted

naive, angry children to come home too – to me and my family. 

It’s ever too late to love
and to be loved in return.

/

Finding trust again – she is as resilient as I am loved, unconditionally.

We watch the sun rise and marvel
at the light that shines on all of us.

I will learn to forgive but never forget.

I tend the earth, ripening my fruits
finding pride in nurturing my love.

I read. A cuppa, kiss and a cuddle regenerate my dreams. 

I wake with no nightmarish thoughts,
finding only more I can do to make

my garden grow. Knowing she is being
loved all the while.

/

Right now I need peace.

I love my family. Jason, Madison
La Donna, Whisky, (Carmen), Karmin

Leisa, Seth, Harken and Ronan.

Still too young (bar one) to see
the wood for the trees or realise that

not all flowers smell delightful – except the Rose.

/

The world doesn’t owe me a God damned thing.

My children will learn a much harder lesson than I.  

I forgive them, and I always will, over and over.

The thing about trauma is that it can only hurt us if we let it.  

I refuse.

/

(Myles will remember he said something similar.)

I hope you are smiling wherever you are my friend.

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

Belinda the Brush

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‘Come back here you little Pelican’
she mocks, her grin beaming
the littlest Princess tears off
at a hundred miles an hour
in the opposite direction,
her grin making a perfect pair
but where is Belinda?

‘Belinda the Brush is hiding somewhere and I want to brush your hair’

we sing, looking in all the usual spots
the bookshelf, the dressing table
in the bathroom before
she’s finally located on the chair
in front of us
the littlest Princess settles herself down
and we begin the next verse

‘Belinda the Brush is brushing my hair,
Belinda the Brush is brushing my hair’

What will it be today my love,
a ponytail or a plait like the witch?
A plait.
Julia Donaldson has made an impression
so I break into a witches cackle

We have some minor complaints;
those pesky knots require a change of tact,
under my magnificent spell
the job is done, satisfaction
filling my heart, hers brewing the buds of patience, temperance and pride

‘Belinda the Brush is brushing my hair and there’ll be no bullshit there’

I love my littlest Princess. 
Our destiny entwined like my fingers through her hair
she doesn’t know it yet
but Our Lady watches over her
with great grandma, and granny working her magic almost daily

I can see all the kids,
you and me (and grandma),
green grass blue smoke,
my Harley
still under wraps – our home,
where the heart
resonates in your drums

Ronan, Harken, Madison, Seth, La Donna, Whisky, Carmen, Karmin and Leisa
– our family so far, more to come, perfect!

One day I will learn how to cook and teach my littlest Princess how to knit like Nana

© Copyright 2015, Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Mr Black & the Muse

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I’m addicted to you
& your crooked muse smile
Mr Black

I’ll have you
know
you stole my heart
rendering her useless;
undoing held together
your thick lens
penetrating.
drunk & debauchery

Incognito
for a moment
nothing existed
except obsession,
compulsion mimicking
lust & Mr Black
rose like a Phoenix
under my skin

Every day, an eternity
to wait for you
my muse feigning temperance
the door handle turns
& I pick myself up off the floor
giggle & take the piss
Mr Black doesn’t
waste any time

Concord flights of fancy
meticulous mind-numbing marathons
whatever the abandoned mood once was,
I’m yours
you had me way back then,
smashed, crash landing on my bed
the sun about to rise
on the last place we left from

My balcony:
a table & two chairs
the Great Dividing Range
filtered by my Veuve Clichot
you with your Winnie Red
threshold surpassed
a box of beers,
tartan shorts & flannelette

*

I make you coffee.
night owls wouldn’t normally complain
under ordinary circumstances
but we are far from that place
the buzz & bleep of mobile phones
alter-egos known or not
pierce our cocoon
we drag our arse into work

Dreaming, we see all the children
& Grandma
Mr Black runs amok
kids fight over whose turn it is
blue smoke & green grass
Yamahahahahahahaha!
my Harley under wraps
coveted like our memories

© Copyright 2014, Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Eulogy – For my Grandparents

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When I think about my Grandparents, I am instantly drawn back to my childhood.

So many memories.  Drum kits under the bed, electric helicopters, the piano, so many green bottles on the wall! The boat they named after me – Jodine. The new Kent fire. Those two Retro chairs.  The Army hut in the back yard where I got up to mischief.  The original Hibiscus Coast Taxi – a beautiful white Chevrolet that was to become the symbol of family pride. Poisonous berries on the way to the front door…I thought about eating them sometimes just to see what would happen.

So many memories.  Being with my Grandparents saved my life.  I spent every chance I had with them and their energy.  My home away from home.  I played dress-ups, created pottery, made string kaleidoscopes, learned how to draw, listened to Johnny Cash and Demis Roussous and learned how to sing.  I learned how to be independent… and how to access the Red paint from under the house!

So many memories of driving up North to the Bach at Omamari Beach in the Great White Chev, always looking for the road markers along the way: Three Furlongs Tavern at Kaiwaka on the way to the Brynderwyns.  Playing Eye Spy and  “Are we there yet” all the way, completely winding them both up till we spied the Toka Toka hill (thinking it was some sort of magic mountain pacifier) . I remember learning to drive the Chev too but I preferred the yellow Beach buggy, taking it out every chance I got to speed along the beach by myself – bliss.

So many memories of wild west coast surf, Tussock grass, sunburn, cliffs, caves, rock pools, the Kai Iwi Lakes, Contiki’s, Kahawai, Toheroa’s, Tua Tua fritters and heading up to Bluff for fresh Green-lipped Mussels off the rocks. My world was full of good old-fashioned love.  My Grandparents taught me how to believe in myself too.  I now know what it means to follow my dreams and remain true to myself no matter what other people might say, think, speculate or fabricate.  To this day I still remain free-spirited.  I live a very full, open, creative, exotic and vibrant life.  I will not be told to shut up.  I will not be put in my ‘so-called’ place.  My voice will no longer be silenced.

My Grandparents were my whole world back then and now that Nana is with Grandpop, I can once again see them sitting side by side, their bones warmed by the fire, looking out onto the world they helped create – for me, for us.  My Grandparents will always be my happy place.  I even have a fond memory of Nana’s tea that was more like soup with cheese and pickled onion sandwiches.  My Grandparents were my first love.  Nothing or no one can take these memories away from me.  I was there for it all and I thank them both for loving me.

© Copyright 2013, Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Construction War Zone

1.
hard hat
gun war
Great Depression
old
grandfather

he went to war
he was a driver
he smoked Three
Kings tobacco
roll-your-owns

his hands built his own castle
memories of old England

many nails
red paint
strong stiff upper lip
hard
times

his lips would bleed
every time he ate
an ice-block

/

this battleship grey nail head
reminds me of a war helmet

2.

hard hat
nail gun
Global Recession
young
husband

he lived on a farm
in the King Country
he drank Waikato
with his mates
& Willie

his hands built his own house
with number eight wire & fence posts

many nails
green paint
strong stiff upper lip
hard
times

his feet are sore
from walking around
in steel-capped boots all day

/

this construction site
is kind of like a mine field

© Copyright 2010 Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Windows

I remember sneaking out of my bedroom window when I lived with my grandparents for the second time the mescaline cactus was chopped off at the bottom which surprised the wall that held the house up lasting so long over the years  it was an old house but not prickly when the juice drained and my first boyfriend knocked I had to be very quiet except for the old metal blinds that didn’t work and I could hear them talking amongst themselves in the bedroom too  I didn’t think they could hear me then together snuggled under their feather duvet warm as I was soon to be most of the time when nana would bring me a cup of tea in the morning like soup but after she read the tea-leaves so I knew I had to be quiet I remember the house built by his own hands after the war it was farmed and raised by the family at the time the steps are gone now replaced and the house has sunken with age like grandfather buried at the rsa with nana soon when the results come back outside the window I remember climbing back in easier than outward appearances and a lot quieter than at night with the still crisp morning light over before it had begun again ahead of its time at breakfast with sweet leaf toast I was fifteen and I liked danger when the grass was much sweeter than the mescaline and the sex of two young lovers defying gravity on the window ledge of lust giggling and groping for the branches scraping the side of the house beside the hole giggling because I might catch the altered perspective and succeed with silence impossible with the teapot pouring I remember the pink bedspread sneaking into something paling by comparison more like crimson and stained like the window he once said to me but could not decide what it was about when the window slammed shut and I was angry for a moment  the front door was easier than tiptoes being bruised seeming to yellow past the bedroom door and the feathers were warm and soft cocooning them in embraces when I smiled I could hear their listening thoughts I remember the days when chairs sat in reclining positions side by side rocking by the fire looking out onto the front window like a doorway a much bigger window than mine was wiser than the cactus planted on the side of the road in season the windows were necessary to see into the future and the night and the teapot arrived as expected when I sat up in bed…

© 2007 Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved