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

Halfway House

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I have a beautiful husband. Loving beyond anything I could ever ask for. His children are gems, the littlest one is an Angel I swear! I miss my man even when he yells at me and says the worst things imaginable in his pain. The man I once knew has eroded away before my eyes. He doesn’t remember how he loved, except his children and rightly so – they are himself and they were stolen. I understand that, I do. I only wish the love I feel for mine is returned in my lifetime. Mine are gone. It seems everyone I love disappears.  I take the blame. It must be my fault, some days I don’t want to be here. Some days I want to fade to black, let that white noise sing me a lullaby and take me home. I lived in many houses once, and my worst nightmare continued. Maybe I relive that moment when I was stolen, against my will. It took me years to find solace in that place till the time came for me to leave. I was homeless, loveless and inconsolable. I did my best with what I knew, made decisions I thought were the best for me and mine. I still feel their eyes upon me, watching me fail and imagine them raising a toast to my demise. Such is life. Whatever I try to do, whomever I try to love, it seems like none of it returns. Sometimes I feel like a desolate child,  still. I’m nearly 50 and I have nothing left least of all to give myself. I exist from day-to-day listening to a monologue of misgivings and self doubts that continue to remind me I’ve never truly belonged anywhere. When I’m gone, I’m still nothing more, nothing less. Of course there are those that profess to love me but that’s only so they can make penance for their own sins – you know, make themselves feel better. That sounded so jaded – I don’t really mean it. I made the most selfish half-hearted attempt at finality. I was chastised for buying my beautiful step-daughter therapeutic books to help her heal.  She’s only four.  I was reminded how I failed to buy books for my beautiful happy grandson.  He turned one recently. I wasn’t thinking straight, obviously. “Your new family can have you!”, she doesn’t want to be a part of that mess. By God I cried. I cried like a little baby. It doesn’t matter what I do its never going to be good enough for her. I may as well resign myself to a life of condemnation, contempt and misery. My man loved me once a long time ago. His daughter is here to keep me company, while we wait for our littlest princess to return. My home may as well be a halfway house. Where is the love? I’m too hurt to see anything beyond what’s yelling at me, leveling me, sucking everything left from inside of me. I sit. I wait. What will happen next? Your guess is as good as mine. My machine parts are too rusted; too many salted tears have cut through all the bullshit. It’s just me and always will be.

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

Me My Mother

My mother taught me how to love
my love

My mother taught me when to cry
my tenderness

My mother taught me what to feel
my teacher

My mother taught me how to lie
my lover

Me my mother knows the truth
show me how to feel

Me my mother feels her pain
that I may feel your love

Me my mother’s afraid to feel
in it’s entirety

Me my mother’s hard to heal
in it’s glory

My mother says ‘don’t cry, you look guilty’
in it’s hunger

My mother thinks I should be thankful for what I’ve got
and sadness

My mother shows it’s ungrateful to want happiness
that I may weep with you

My mother means ‘don’t rock the boat’
and laugh

Me my mother question right and wrong
with honest love

Me my mother try to get along
stir my heart

Me my mother doesn’t know what makes her happy
my softness there

Me my mother is seen as sassy
like your sweet caresses

My mothers life’s a duty
hold my head within your arms

My mothers heart is hard
and whisper your emotion

My mothers tongue is dirty
tenderness envelopes me

My mother is a farce
and I feel

I feel

I feel

I feel

warm with you

© Copyright 2007 Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Mothers

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Who says there is a God?
wishful thinking created by man
to control the masses; no
Mothers in sight – save Mary
but look
look what happened to her our Lady!
Mary Magdalene
will rise again
she will be known by all her names
fire, earth, sea and sky; Ishtar

we shelter in the rivers and forests
gathering all the sticks and stones

Mary emerald as the forest green
will ride with Rhiannon
her shoes of moss and lichen
her cloak of rainbow silk: transformed
eye’s like Innana shedding tears
as sisters mourn and do
& all that is dark and been before,
will shadow us no more

she has awakened in terrible wrath and has unleashed a whore

Kali destroys and  makes anew
Pele knows which heart is true
Abundantia  makes it very clear
there are no more second chances here

Gaia,  Papatuanuku and Ostara, forging ahead new life
Innana, Dana and Isis surrounding them with light
Athena and Mother Mary have much to undo and teach
Aphrodite, Ostara, Nemetona and Ixchel
Mothers of divine healing heart

all these Mothers will guide us through without the slightest flinch

she is all Mother and we recognise her full
we run with open arms, no fear
she restores our wayward souls with care
she cradles our broken hearts to weep
peace will be reborn again
where war has gone before with man
our raging rivers will forge and cut
ravage and avenge; our rivers
will shed tears of pain
new paths lest we forget

calling all our wonderous women
our voices banshee wail
we will hear them in our hearts full throb
and never fear again
here comes Persephone from the dark
the first to see the light,
Demeter fills an earthen jug that overflows with tears
she gently wipes her daughters feet to cleanse away her fears
and without Mothers no seed will grow
and so they must obey

but men are men, God or not
and evil still prevails
our Mothers cast all seeing eyes
and none shall let them pass
Zeus may watch with Ranginui
for both have known this day
Hades left enraged behind
his plans for her subdued
for she is with the Mothers now
a war he cannot  rule

Persephone is free at last
Who says there is a God?
for Goddess rule this world or ours
Papatuanuku birthing fruit
my Maiden showing me the truth, wary as she treads
my Mother prays the safest journey our Mothers forged ahead
my oldest Crone will rest her bones on her dying day
and sisters will be reborn again and again
woven waxed and waned

© Copyright 2010.  Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved