the heart laid bare

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the tenth month
purple hearts
vigil
a glossary of terms
a week forever ago
The sixteenth
the curse
Under seige
Beyond the blues
Introspect
Balloon
push
a strange distance
SWIMMING ALWAYS DOWNWARD
A ONCE-FAMILIAR LANDSCAPE
No Apology
the thunder
tinder
VERBAL PORTRAIT OF A CAT OWNER
critical shortage
the sky we thought we knew
CIRCA SOLEM
almanac
baby
dearest orlando
FIVE MONTHS
A LETTER TO THE UNDESERVING
cactus heart
would we
the fall of giants
paradise lost
Dad
after you've gone
time
a smile from the eyes
trepidation
why so cold
fix this
swallow me
untitled 8
insular
cry alone
robin
quicksand
laces
D.I.S.C.
stripped
waving goodbye
your open eyes
enemy within
mortal
untitled 4
sleepless
OUTSIDER
untitled 9
come dream with me
in the face of adversity
one word
the dark of the night
untouchable
one and one makes two
you burn me
see me
this shaken core
my lover
helen
my room
his words
foolish
rita
chalk drawings
the longest night
stupid skeleton
CLOTHES MAKETH
FIRST LASTS
STELLAR
TODAY
I WATCHED A MAN DIE TODAY
THREE WEEKS
this slippery slope
untitled 5
Arrows
First Kiss
The Talk Of Love
Nicotine
Blackout

the tenth month

It was supposed to get easier.
We count the days with increasing dread,
Reluctantly tearing the pages from our calendars
As the indifferent grip of time drags us ever closer
To the tenth month,
And the marking of its bitter harvest.
 
Eight crosses
And the deep, abiding sadness that had dogged our steps caught up to us,
Caught our hands and spun us to look into its darkening gaze.
The ache sets in on the eighth cross.
 
Twenty-four crosses
And our happiness was tinged with a hurt
That no amount of makeup could erase from our eyes.
A hurt forever immortalised between gold-embossed covers of white leather,
As half of a face we barely recognised
Tried so hard to smile proudly from the middle of the frame.
And a part of the day that should have echoed with joy
Was shrunken, and stoic, and silent.
 
Twenty-seven crosses;
Twenty-seven steps of inevitability toward the unfaceable.
The world ended on the twenty-seventh cross.
The lights went out; the laughter ceased.
Songs forever changed their meaning.
 
The insult that the twenty-seventh cross brought twelve months later to add to our injury
Simply deepened the craters in the already war-torn surfaces of our worlds,
Scarred by the same disaster but in such different ways.
We carried its fraying wires and spiderwebbed glass gingerly in trepidatious hands,
Every tick of the second hand taking us away from the wounds of the tenth month.
At last emerging on the other side, we breathed our sighs of relief,
Only to have it explode in our faces just when we thought we were safe.
 
They all lied.
It was meant to get easier with time;
These vicious cuts were supposed to heal over
And leave scar tissue that was stronger for the experience.
They were not supposed to tear afresh
And soak our empty arms with the blood of our lacerated hearts,
With every step closer
To the tenth month.



Grandad (29 November 1922 - 8 October 2015)
Dad (16 January 1949 - 27 October 2015)
Nanna (28 July 1922 - 2 November 2016)
I love you and miss you all.
M x


© mjc 26 October 2019

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purple hearts

I see you there.
Standing in the shadows, arms wrapped tightly around yourself;
Holding together the frayed and creaking pieces of your world.
I see the sinews standing starkly at your throat while you stare straight ahead,
Brave-facing,
Your jaw aching from clenching your teeth.
I see you, curtailing any motion because you don't know which way lies the fall.
Purple hearts.

I hear your cries.
The ones that escape your pursed lips,
The ones that evade your clutched pillow.
The ones that slide invisibly from your eyes in the shower,
In the hope that the water will wash away the evidence.
I hear the muffled sobs that slip from the cracks in your heart in the dead of night,
Only to fade and die in the space on the other side of the bed
That should never have been left empty.
I hear you, whimpering in your sleep.
Purple hearts.

I feel your rage.
The burning, blackening, impotent fury
Misdirected at the one who didn't know
Instead of the one who knew too well;
The one who should have known better.
I feel those whirling, unruly urges to strike with frenzied fists
At the phantom presence that still contaminates every aspect of your life.
I feel you and the force of your silent shrieks at the waste of your years
And the waste of your youth.
Purple hearts.

I know your depair.
Your stiff upper lip cannot keep your head above the waves,
And what lies beneath seems so black and so inviting,
That to yourself, you wonder...
What's so good about the opposite shore
That you must continually strive to reach it, anyway?
I know how harsh and empty words are upon the ears,
When they come from lips that have never spoken from a mouth dry with nameless worry.
I know how long your road ahead seems when you cannot see
How far you have already come.
I know you. I have been you.
Purple hearts.

It's such a little thing, to change the colour of a heart.
The click of a mouse, the tap of a phone...
This button instead of that.

Purple hearts, all.
Purple hearts for the battle-scarred.

 


© mjc 21 September 2019

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vigil

It comes down to this...
The deathwatch.
Interminable seconds drift into endless hours,
As we each stand our post
As though guarding a catafalque.

There is little lonelier than this midnight vigil;
Than to sit beside an almost-unrecognisable face
Watching anxiously for the absence of presence.
Filling each minute with words left unspoken,
Afraid that even the sound of our hearts breaking will disturb them;
Afraid of hastening the moment when that restless sleep
Becomes irrevocably, dreadfully peaceful.

All we can do is immerse ourselves in the cognitive dissonance
Of as they were and final days,
Trying our hardest to scrapbook the two images
So that there's no overlap.

There is no moment more human.
We hope against hope despite the evidence of our eyes,
Unsure anymore of what to even hope for.


© mjc 10 June 2019

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a glossary of terms

I’m fine thanks, how’s your world/job/family?
I am deflecting
because your attention is burning my edges
like bacon in a too-hot pan
 
Don’t mind me, I’m just tired
Because I lie awake most nights
Anxious over being anxious
And talking about myself is exhausting
 
Sorry that I missed your party
And that I couldn’t bring myself to go
Where people might see me
And the darkness trailing behind me
 
We should catch up more often
But we won’t, because it’s easier on you
If I slowly drift out of your life
So gently you don’t remember to miss me
 
I’m okay
Except for the face that I don’t show people
Because nothing weighs heavier than pity when
I am not okay
 
I am not okay.

© mjc 08 February 2019

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a week forever ago

It's been three years today, Dad.
‘A week forever ago’ was how I described it.
Part of me still doesn't entirely believe it, somehow.
Three years, and I still catch myself reaching for my phone to ask you a question or share a joke.
Three years, and you have missed so much.
And we miss you.

It still seems like yesterday, and there are still bad days.
Days when it hurts to breathe,
When I close my eyes and feel like I'm back in that moment when everything turned to ashes.
… How are you supposed to rebuild from something like that? You can’t.
You either cower in the ruins of what your life used to be,
Finger-painting your face with it until you and it are indistinguishable from one another;
Or you gather the ashes into a little pile and bring them with you.
You leave your scorched and barren ground behind and find a new place,
And build anew.
With the mortar you mix the ashes, so that even the solid walls of your new world hold the comforting echoes of the old.

I sometimes get angry at you for missing so much,
Even though I know it’s not your fault.
And I get angry at myself for not doing all the things I know you’d have been proudest of me for while you were still here to see them.
I sometimes cry at strange things,
And sometimes I will walk a long way out of my way to avoid the cologne section in David Jones,
Where the scent of your hands in the morning lingers like an aromatic ghost.
I keep the picture of us on my wall,
And I still talk to you over the first coffee of the day.
And it helps, just a little,
To know that the movement of my lips and the warmth of my breath
Will in turn move and change atoms in the air,
Making tiny ripples, that make larger ripples,
That will spread and dissipate right across the universe,
All the way to the collection of atoms that you used to be.

 


© mjc 27 October 2018

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Biography

Daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, friend, public servant; self-confessed hermit, confirmed cat person, sporadic baker, irreformable yarncrafter, voracious reader; occasional wit, voluble shower vocalist, frequent sacrifice on the altar of brain-to-mouth filter fails, unrepentant purveyor of puns and dad jokes, writer and poet.

I have always lived by the theory that no matter what you do for a living - if you are compelled to write, if you wake up in the night to scrawl the contents of your dreams on a notebook beside the bed, if no event in your life seems complete without you recording it, if you are drawn to comment upon the world - then you are a writer.

These are my words.