?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Poem: "Bleeding Light" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Bleeding Light"

This poem came out of the October 2-3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from janetmiles and westrider.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  It follows the poems "Thunder Without Rain" and "Whatever We Feed," so you should read those first.  The discussions following those poems contributed significantly to this one, so thanks also to the_vulture, jenny_evergreen, rhodielady_47, aldersprig, kelkyag, rix_scaedu, siege, and e_scapism101 for the thought-provoking conversations.  This poem belongs to the series Monster House, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.

WARNING: This poem is psychological horror and it features unhealthy mental states, dysfunctional family dynamics, childhood trauma, and assorted violence.  If you've been reading the series for suburban fantasy humor, this may not be to your taste.  If you have issues with child abuse or disturbed children, think twice before reading it.  And yet nothing is ever entirely what we think it is, looking at it from the outside ...




Bleeding Light


I'm not the kind of person that people like,
but I've found out how to deal with that.

When I was a little boy I had no armor,
nothing to protect me from the world,
from my father's quick fists
and my mother's cutting tongue.

As I grew, I learned ways
of wrapping the air around myself
to pad the blows and the bitter words
at least a bit, and not care
about anyone as much as
everyone would not care about me.

I can't quite recall when I first noticed
that the air had thickened into a cloud,
whether I had called it to me
or created it somehow;
but there it was, hovering
protectively above my head.

I felt a little tired, a little cold;
but I was always tired and cold,
so a little more was no matter.
I also felt numb,
and that was wonderful,
not to feel the bruises
on the outside or on the inside.

We grew together, my cloud and I.
I shared my dark chocolate with it;
I'd never had anyone to share with before,
only the older bullies who took what they wanted.
The cloud curled low around my shoulders,
sometimes, timid as a stray cat
that was used to getting kicked away.

There was a poem in reading class
called "Arrows" that almost made me cry,
thinking about losing my cloud.
Who else did either of us have
but each other?

People don't like clouds.
I figured that out pretty fast.
Used to be, if people didn't know me,
they were nice at least at first,
though it was never safe to rely on that.
Now they shy away from me,
but they don't make promises they can't keep
or get me into trouble with my parents.

There's a girl, though,
a blind girl with eyes so sharp
they go through me like knives.
That I still feel.
Whenever she's around,
I feel naked, too,
like she can see everything.

I've tried to scare her away,
make her afraid of us
so she'll leave us alone.
She doesn't scare easily, though,
and one day I followed her too far,
touched the first grass of her haunted lawn --

and some thing  pounced on my cloud,
clawing it up and almost killing it.

We managed to escape, but still,
we're bleeding light in all the wrong places.
We're tired and cold
and not so numb anymore,
and if either of us dies, what's left for the other?

I don't want to live
like a bundle of bones and nerves
with no skin,
don't want to imagine
my cloud like a shed skin
with no bones to hold it up anymore.

We curl close in the narrow bed
and wait, like always, for the bleeding to stop.
Science teacher says broken bones knit stronger
and scars are tougher than untouched skin.
So we'll get stronger, my cloud and I.  We always do.

* * *

"Arrows" was written by Shel Silverstein.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

28 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: October 8th, 2012 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh. So sad. Hurting kid is hurting.

This made me weep.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

This thread is going to darksome places. Some things just aren't easily fixed, or even understood.

*hugs*
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 13th, 2012 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I'm disgusted to think that people actually WONDER where all of our major criminals and serial killers come from. In real life, they are made not born. (Usually.)
:(
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 13th, 2012 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

The brain is mysterious, the mind more so, and the soul barely comprehensible at mortal levels. We have little ability to observe them directly, except our own, and even that perception is usually hazy. So then, it's difficult to tell how things are and why they are that way. Plus these are things that few people really think about. It's uncomfortable, and people don't like that. And those with perceptions beyond the usual get a chilly reception more often than not when trying to explain further.

Some people are born damaged. Some are made so. And bystanders will look at each and say the other is worse or more blameworthy. The universe rarely restricts itself to singular answers, or easy ones.

While it is not true that everyone with a horrible past will do something monstrous, it is true that a majority of people who do monstrous things have a history of violence behind them. Physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, etc. abuse definitely raises the risk factors.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 13th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

All too true...
:|

kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: October 8th, 2012 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch.

(Not so inhuman, here.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

He is more sympathetic in this context.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: October 8th, 2012 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Now if we could somehow pump light into the boy and his cloud...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 08:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Consider what happens if you warm up a frostbite victim too quickly.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: October 8th, 2012 09:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Gently then.

(one of the benefits of my climate here is that frost bite is very hard to get so I only know what little I've read.)

Edited at 2012-10-08 09:36 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 09:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Gently, like slowly, gives him time to scram. We've got a seriously fucked up kid, his abusive parents who are some kind of savvy enough to have gotten away with it, he's wildly uncomfortable with the daughter of the house and now probably terrified of going anywhere near there again. This is not a promising foundation for improvement.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: October 8th, 2012 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

The Monster House might not be the only place he could find the help he needs.
aubergine_pilot From: aubergine_pilot Date: October 8th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh.

Oh.

No wonder I recognized him, then.

(Apologies about not answering your responses, I've been without access to an actual computer for internet access for a while, and that puts a damper on things that aren't quick to type actually getting written. Add in my tendency to freak out when people actually notice me, and, well... I'm sorry.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>No wonder I recognized him, then.<<

I'm glad this poem spoke to you.

>>(Apologies about not answering your responses<<

It's okay. I've been dealing with erratic internet service for over a month, so I know how it goes. *hugs*
aubergine_pilot From: aubergine_pilot Date: October 10th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Thanks. ♥

And... yeah, it spoke. Might be able to speak for me better than I can, are you okay with this being shown to a doctor? Won't present it as mine, wouldn't dream of that, but... I think art might make my point that no, really, I do in fact need help better than I can. (Given that I textwall to hide my points and flee from actually asking for help most of the time, saying "here is a character I identify with" and then answering specific questions about why might be easier than explaining on my own.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 10th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>> Might be able to speak for me better than I can, are you okay with this being shown to a doctor? <<

Yes, and I'm glad that you find this useful.

>> Won't present it as mine, wouldn't dream of that, <<

As long as you keep my name on it, all is well.

>> but... I think art might make my point that no, really, I do in fact need help better than I can. <<

Among the main characteristics of poetry is that it says slant what is difficult or impossible to say straight.

You might consider printing out the complete set of poems featuring the boy and his cloud: "Thunder Without Rain," "Whatever We Feed," and "Bleeding Light." Maybe include the audience discussions, or any excerpts of them you find relevant, since people have talked quite insightfully about what might be going on with these characters and how that relates to their own experiences or observations. Sometimes it helps to have a range of examples so you can say, "Okay, this seems closer to what's going on with me, and that's farther away."

*ponder* I've seen a scant few collections or other projects that specialized in artistic portrayals of specific conditions. It occurs to me that a broad-spectrum anthology of different mental issues might be a useful tool for exploring "Does any of this sound familiar? Can you relate to any of these characters?" for people who don't do well articulating their emotions or experiences without some kind of starting point. Plus some back matter such as discussion questions and vocabulary.
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: October 5th, 2014 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Plus the idea of being represented in some way... Being seen. That makes a big difference.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2014 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Yes, it does. I write a lot of things for the purpose of representation, and I tell my audience, if you don't see an aspect of yourself that you need to see, ask and I'll try to write some for you.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.

I believe the current phrasing is "so much FEELS."
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: October 8th, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
*shudder* We've been there. For years. (Though thankfully, in a different, less toxic context.)

--Rogan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

*hugs*

My sympathies.

I hope I've done it justice.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: October 8th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
There are no words.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 8th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

*hugs*

I'm glad you found this so touching.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: October 9th, 2012 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch! Parts of this are achingly familiar -- not the abuse, but building a cloud to hide under, yeah. Done that.

I hope the kid finds some help somehow.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 9th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Ouch! Parts of this are achingly familiar -- not the abuse, but building a cloud to hide under, yeah. Done that.<<

*hugs*

>>I hope the kid finds some help somehow.<<

Part of the problem is that it's been tried before, and not worked. Kids in an abusive household, if they're not pulled out very quickly, learn to avoid "help" because it frequently just does more damage. They get blamed for attracting negative attention and the parents will take it out on them. Doesn't take more than a round or two of that to make them extremely averse to "help" out of sheer self-preservation. That makes it very difficult to improve the situation.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 13th, 2012 07:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

You are right.
American law actually makes it difficult if not impossible to help an abused kid.
I wonder if most people even realize that our law looks upon children as the chattel or possessions of the parents? The laws seem to be set up to protect the parents' rights a lot quicker than the childrens'.

I've been told more than once that filing an anonymous abuse report is a waste of time.
:|

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 16th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>American law actually makes it difficult if not impossible to help an abused kid.<<

It screws up in both directions, actually. Many abused children are left to suffer or die. But a family can easily be destroyed by false accusations, given the right approach or the wrong people involved.

>>I wonder if most people even realize that our law looks upon children as the chattel or possessions of the parents? The laws seem to be set up to protect the parents' rights a lot quicker than the childrens'.<<

They really don't. Children lack most of the civil liberties that adults enjoy. They have no rights that adults are bound to respect, because they can't pursue retribution on their own -- they have to convince adults to make a case instead. Children's "rights" typically come into play only after adult rights have been dispensed for some reason.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 16th, 2012 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I will never forget reading in the US News and World Report magazine that, in the US, laws that prevented cruelty to animals were put into effect before laws against child abuse were.
They actually used that fact to argue a landmark child abuse case.
:(
28 comments or Leave a comment