Hollow

Insides carved out
Walls scraped bare
I am just a shell
Brittle and broken

I must be broken
because nothing fills me
Rains fall but never gather
rushing away in streams beneath me

Dust blows in
on sandpaper wind
gritty in the eyes, the throat
then blows away again

Leaves and flower petals flutter
down down down
only to dissolve
pixel by pixel before my eyes

Emptiness becomes anxiety
the urge to fill me up
to scavenge
for berries
for blood
for dirt and leaves
crab apples
mud
Bits of glass
and shrapnel
Things that hurt
work best
At least the pain is
Something

Familiar
I know pain
Thoughts that slash and burn
the same worn paths
Searing scars
deep into the folds of
my aching brain

Until I’m sick
and I lie here
wondering which is worse
emptiness or pain

What would happen
If I sat still in the
hollow
heavy
empty
void

If I unclenched my fists
and let the falling rain flush
the shards from my flesh

If I let myself
Bleed
Would I remember
how to breathe?

© Nichole Q. Perreault

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A Poor Girl’s Music

In the blackness
A small radius:
My hands
The edge of my pillow
My face
Lit by the glow of my phone

My thumbs quick, but sloppy
Autocorrect failing to predict
What I want to say

I hold the backspace key
Watch the words fall away
One by one
But fast
Like disappearing dominoes
Satisfying

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All the King’s Horses

Grief does strange things to a person
I think it’s the sense of being untethered
Unmoored
Like you’ve lost your anchor

I don’t blame her
That woman from the Wild book
Who lost her mom and then lost herself
Left everything behind
And went a little crazy

Grief sets a person adrift
The scenery changes, boundary lines shift
Nothing looks the same
Nothing is the same
Including yourself

So much of who we are is defined
By our surroundings – people and places
They shift, we shift
They move, we move
Lose them and we are lost
At least for a little while

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Rejection

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

It’s Rejection that kills me
pain so similar to grief,
it’s like dying,
like being stabbed in the place just between my shoulder blades,
like being punched in the stomach with a lead fist,
like having a hand shoved into my chest, fingers wrapped around my heart
…and squeeeeezed…
slowly at first, because Rejection likes to watch the pain creep up my neck, over my face, into my limbs, my fingertips, so that I can’t move.

Rejection likes to watch me die.

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On Grief and Love

We may be tempted to believe that those acquainted with grief should take the smaller losses in stride. We may think that after the loss of a parent, a child, a sibling, a spouse, what’s so bad about selling your home or a child growing up or friends and family moving away? But I find it’s quite the opposite. Once acquainted with grief, all the other losses become greater.

Grief remembers grief. And when those feelings of loss come in like the tide, washing over my toes and ankles, in that moment my body, mind and spirit remember…I remember…I remember all the times the waves crashed into my thighs, my gut, my chest, even over my head. And the feelings, though I do not call to them, though I do not want them, though I hope against hope they will stay at sea…those feelings come anyway.

The sorrow, the heavy emptiness, like a vacuum stealing air from my lungs. “It’s hard to sleep, to even breathe, harder still to wake and leave.” The waves come and I can’t stop them. Wet and salty and cold enough to burn, they come. Until I’m drowning, full of a sorrow I can’t contain, and those wet, salty waves, spill over the shores of my eyes. Waves that run hot now, because they come from the deepest wells of my heart and soul, the place where love dwells…no matter how I try to wall it off, or pack it away in ice…there lies love, love that can’t stop, won’t stop, burning, yearning, turning toward the smallest open crack.

Oh dear friends, and oh my soul, grief remembers grief because love remembers love. And love never fails.

 

Repentance

There is more to say than sorry
More to do than turn around
There is you and me
Face to face
Where the light leaves shadows
Across our cheekbones
A deceptive mirror
My right eye in the darkness
Your left
We see
We see so differently
Blinded both by darkness
And by light
We stumble
We stumble all the same
Oh there is more to say than sorry
More to do than turn around

Where They Hide the Bodies

I don’t know, people. Sometimes these things just ooze out of me. Don’t let it worry you. In the words of Bridget Jones, “It’s just a diary” but in this case it’s just a poem.

I’ve got nothing
But words
And words aren’t enough
For me now

I’m so tired and
I can’t find the door
I think I’ll just
Lie down

If I do
Will anyone notice
Will the sky change
Will you

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Inside Out

Outward toward the outside
Toward that other
I am pulled by you
By light
By eyes that linger
By songs of laughter
Rushing up and out until
I slam face-first into the glass shell
The one I almost forgot
I can see outside
The world spinning by in streaks of blue, white, yellow, green
My hands splayed, nose pressed to the cold, slippery glass
Longing for something Real, something Out There
Something other-than-me
Perhaps to get out
I must first go in
Inwardly to my insides
Winding down the winding staircase
Spiraling
Down down down
Into the darkness
Creeping still into the shadows
Nothing but the sound of breath
Bare feet brushing on a cold dirt floor
Until I hear the thrumming
Faint and far away
Or do I feel it
In my soles
The blackness presses and
I lay me down
My hands splayed, my ear pressed to the hard earth
I listen
To the beating, yes, the beating of a heart
Foreign yet familiar as my own hands
Her heart – my heart – packed away, piece by piece, day by day, year by year
Deep inside this packed-earth shell
The one I almost forgot
The one that keeps me here
Neither in nor out
But somewhere in between
Aching always to be free

© Nichole Q Perreault

Written for my poetry group in response to the following prompt: choose a book, turn to page 29, pick 10 words that appeal to you, use at least seven of them in a poem. 

Grief at the Sidewalk’s End

I wrote the following poem as part of a poetry group assignment. It was my first time attending and I was quite nervous, but everyone was lovely (and talented!). The prompt was titled “Borrowed” and we were to use a line from another poem as part of our poem. I must admit, when I started with Shel Silverstein’s ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’, I did not expect to go in this direction – it’s a bit dark for Shel Silverstein hahahaha. But isn’t that the point of the sidewalk’s end? Anything can happen. Oh wait…that’s another Silverstein poem…

Grief at the Sidewalk’s End
A poem beginning with a line from Shel Silverstein’s ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
A darkened river wends
  Undaunted

There is a look as he turns his head
Squints toward truth, but we pretend
  Fainthearted

There is a dread and its claws ascend
Gut, chest, throat, soul-flesh rends
  Departed

There is a time when the sunlight bends
Her warm, blood-red amends
  Unwanted

There is a hand where his hand had been
Too slight to comprehend
  Truth haunts me

There is a pit where my dreams descend
Hope, joy, and light offend
  The darkness

There is Peace to my soul, attends
Understanding transcends
  The Cross bones

I’ve stood at the place where the sidewalk ends
Where breath suspends

© Nichole Q. Perreault

 

Suspended | Poetry Under a Bridge

This summer, we discovered that we could walk under the northern end of the Golden Gate bridge. The area is basically a construction zone (retrofitting the bridge for earthquake durability) so not many people venture down there. Standing with my family beneath the bridge, the thunderous sound of cars and trucks barreling over our heads, nothing but a chainlink fence to stop us from falling… it was all kind of terrifying but, you know, in an exhilarating sort of way. Later that night, as I scrolled through my photos, I thought this one captured the magnificence and desolation, glory and isolation, of that place…and of my heart…which in the end became a poem. (To my friends who already saw this on social media a few weeks ago: sorry for the repeat, just getting round to posting on my blog now.)

Taken with my iPhone 6 beneath the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge

Suspended 

Under a bridge
With the weight of a thousand worlds rolling over me
Tires banging
Engines rumbling
The earth beneath us cold and crumbling
I hide
Finding comfort in the fear
Of a forgotten place
Neglected
Unadorned, the loneliness of hearts reflected
Like eyes
That can’t unsee the desolation
Of the days
The suffocation of her blazing fire
Here
Behind the chains
Looking out at what I cannot cross
Feels an awful lot
Like home

©Nichole Q Perreault