A soft closing of words – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

When you are younger, everything is a challenge

I will not let them break me / I will fight back / I will survive!

as you get older you see

or you hear

or maybe it’s just a sense

in the air

or a turning of

light

changing

clenching your heart

sorrow wells up

a pool from nowhere

upon which you see

no reflection

only the insubstantial flickering

of someone

trying to survive

skate even

on cracking surface

too thin for the weight of

all those doubts

shadows without names

time piled high

playing broken records

and though you skate fast

and nimbly

there is numbness in your effort

as if you wish to finally be

caught

submerged

ice leaching your hot discontent

with page turned days

and ironed nights

into a drowning

of all the pain captured and glazed

within your center

where no-one looks

because adults are not

children with sticky hands out

being picked up and comforted

they are supposed to be

warriors

haven’t you read the literature?

didn’t you attend therapy for

a number of years where

it was reiterated perpetually

between biscuit breaks and tepid coffee in plastic cups

like a long string of words

thisandthatthisandthat

not meaningful enough

for a necklace

about how we are the masters

of our fate

it is up to us to fight

the temptation to slit our

fucking throats

and watch as the deepest

red bled

on snowy white

surface

a contrast we ache for

in nights howl

just when the fangs of doubt

seethes loudest and

the pain of being truly

alone is not

comforted by

bouquets of self talk and

P.O.S.I.T.I.V.I.T.Y.

looking thin and translucent

in candle light

only reminder of

times broken hearts thought

they could be well and whole

just as plug is pulled

the doll wound down

we sag and droop

remembering the sore rub

of innocence and how

we believed then in futures

unstrung and awaiting

not yet familiar with

sore eyes from so many tears

even as we say

do not cry again you foolish person

oh how I hate the weakness of

someone who weeps even as they

should have known

(you fool! You fool!)

oh how they should have

known

we all

fall

down

only some of us

wish to

pick

ourselves

up

the rest may not and it isn’t

your place to judge us

if we’d rather

tear at our flesh

or hammer the senseless walls

of our former trust

until bruises bloom like

underwater flowers

and knives can cut

some of the pain from

proffered wrists though

water tinged with scarlet

is no welcome

as I stand not wishing to

continue this charade

of being invested in life

or its many fascinations

you see

or you would

if you had ever

meant half or quarter

of the lies tasting so good now

they are settled and dark on my

closed eyes

for when you shut yourself

in a box and the magician taps

one two three

it is then opened and you are

not revealed

for you have

crossed over

maybe where those who cannot

perform magic themselves

must go

to escape the erasure of

each day spent hoping

pain will give up her lament

no she does not

quit so easily then

it is ours to turn the volume

down as we sink

beneath weeds and lily pad

to distant place where before it all

churned a terrible hurt

there was the reprieve of

knowing nothing of life’s scythe

and our simple steps made in earnest

before it was clear

there is no strength in survival

beyond what we endure

it is surely about

the language of loss

and if for some

it takes them

with it

then so

it may

be

the end

with

a soft

closing of

words

don’t forget

to buy

flowers

Euphemism ~ Candice Daquin

My grandmother used to say

If you give it away too easily

People will not value it

If it’s too easy it won’t have worth

And I realize

All the time I thought truth

Could be a beautiful thing

I was just making it easier

To be taken for granted and hurt

But I don’t play games

So if you’d only like me when I put on an act

And play hard to get

Then I’ll probably be alone forever

Because I’m not going to do that

Just so you fall for someone who

Isn’t me

That impressive mirage you conjure

Part from your own want

Part from my tease and need

For acceptance

You don’t know yet

I’ve an entire suitcase of rejections

Dolls with turned faces who declared

You’re a disappointment

I keep them in my attic and try not to talk about how

Their approbation flayed me more skillfully than

A pack of wolves set to hunt

I think there is not much difference

Between murder and neglect

Still

When it’s a balmy moon and we’re listening to the radio

If I hear a song for the girl I was

Before her face was pushed and held down

In her own regret

Your need and my tokenism

Are like wet matches

Able to dry out and catch

Given enough longing

Though it’s nothing more than spectacle

And borrowed words

Reveling in the saturate

Of one unfocused moment

Lapsing in her chair

Red toes, black eyes

Spilt hair, tied back bosom

The angularity of pain

Sift of life straining for

One last memory

Dancing in your arms

As you whisper things we’ll never do and maybe

I believe

Before sunrise

Every damn one of them

They stain my skin

With their heavy pits

As you take me into you and gasp

Underwater music sounds

Like a bird released from its cage

Will linger

Before flying away

And you

Place the empty containers of your words

Perfume bottles for the dreamer

Touch the door with trembling fingers

Wanting to make it last

Knowing it has already fled

And the besting of wings

Join children’s laughter

Playing by busted sprinkler

Water catching sunlight

Reminding you of grief

And her intoxicating print

Heavy in your chest

The imperfection & the wonder ~ Candice Daquin

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What would it look like to be someone else?

who did not wake up red-eyed and fearful?

what would it feel like to be held and words said & meant

to be turned gently in the measure of another’s gaze

would it feel good or unnatural?

by now, like an ill-planted tree, I have bent at an angle to accommodate

the lack

It may be, I don’t want the dream anymore

but something that keeps cold from the hole in my side

so when you tell me

don’t fall in love with me, I am imperfect

so much is wrong with me, if only you knew

if you saw the real me, you would be scared off

when you tell me

the first time I saw you, I was in awe

I couldn’t reveal how much I liked you with nothing to offer in return

I ask you to consider this

I am a tree growing at an angle

because nobody bothered to set me straight and tall

in more ways than one I am bent

and crooked, slightly deformed and full of holes

that let in the cold

sometimes I am a woman who looks in the mirror and sees

every cruel word inscribed on her face

like inch worms or tattooists needle cutting off circulation

every betrayal, a brand burning my attempts

every lie, a drowning, of my ability to breathe

other days I am a girl who runs

for buses in heals and mini skirts

and the boys they shout after that person

because she is a parody and an apparition

as much as she is flesh and blood and nobody they’d want

but I’m the same no matter what mask I choose

I’m the girl who cries and then answers the door smiling

I’m the girl who has become so good at hiding

she hasn’t been found in a very long time

I give far more than I take

because I don’t know how to feel worthy either

so believe me when I say

I know your fear and part of why

you shy away from me, even as your eyes say

oh how I would like to spend a day a night

laughing and smiling in your company

but I am not a cult leader

I can’t convince you, you have to see it for yourself

I am a simple person flayed by life, other people and winter wind

cutting through our best intentions

I try to be grateful, mindful, all the things

we’re told to be

but just as often as I succeed, I fail

I wasn’t built for battles, I don’t know how

to compete the way others do

and if you think I won’t like you because

of any number of funny things

remember

they’re just things and any moment

they could be gone as we could

because life comes and snatches back

just when you think you have time

but what is left

what remains when the table is cleared

are two people

with suitcases of fear pouring out

we are sitting as the light fades in surround

talking despite ourselves

for some part of each of us, wants the other

recognizes a connection

and knows

the only way in this life is to risk all or none

there are no in-betweens

you cannot find love by wishing or digging

both of us have been burned and stung and hammered

by the lies of people and trust is a faraway concept

but until they switch us off and we lay fallow

impregnating earth with our dissolve

I say we try for our chance, however long we’ve got

not let the fear put us off

even as you swore you’d never again

even as I promised I wouldn’t go there

somehow here we sit

staring at the other

seeing everything we want

in the imperfection and

the wonder

This girl is all I am – Candice Louisa Daquin

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There is a secret at the back of my throat

a black tulip

that won’t swallow

the ash of memories

I was you see, a girl of damage and plums

you could see the embers beneath my eyes

like eighties makeup and Adam Ant

I was no prince charming

but the girl who played the piano with her eyes shut

because she could not read music

nor find her way to release

I see photos of girls who could have been me

with fresh skin and dimples

they can join groups and do things in harmony

smile for the camera, bow for the priest

whilst I shunned the age of innocence

or it devoured me

spitting out my infernal seeds

to scatter beyond my picking

how to climb mountains with minions

take a picture?

or smile in the collective conscience

when the stamp is already affixed

blood drawn

waiting for its testing

I can already tell you

it will be infected

with the grief that stayed and did not go

so when you ask me

why don’t you have photos of when you were younger?

why don’t you feature in group shots?

how come you don’t possess family and friends in abundance?

or even handfuls

I point wordlessly

to a girl in the past

licking darkness from her fingers

I say without a tongue

this is who she becomes

this girl is all I am

if it is not enough for you I understand

if you need someone who will radiate and take you

mountaineering and socializing

do not choose her

she has only the will of this moment

she is not a joiner not one of the crowd

but if you let her

precisely because of this

she will be everything

When never is not forever – Candice Louisa Daquin

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The year is

somewhere back when

kissing in public would have

resulted in a shaming

it was not our shame

but we carried it high on our cheeks as if it were

the taunt of “lesbian bitches” like sharpened nails

prodding us to flee

and where could we run?

not your closed-minded house, nor mine

we had only the rugged country and its tilled earth

burning with our polished want

you told me, it was too hard

when you love, that’s what you eventually learn

to let go, if the pain is tormenting her

and I watched you

stumbling down the hill-side in your badly fitting rubber boots

tears obscuring your view

the purse I gave you, a mash of wool against your side

still I thought of chasing after your vanishing

but what would I say? What could I

a girl of mended pockets and thin chest of pennies

offer?

I thought of your heart-shaped face

the way the curls of your hair were blown straight

by fierce winds and the seeming condemnation

of nature

as if the spirits holding back the ice

threatened their eventual punishing

was it so? did something that felt so right really

reside in sin? and if this why was I given a

mismatched heart

latched to yours and never

the acrid stink of boys?

You, with your gentle malt brown eyes

and bitten nails rubbed raw, the way your knees

poked out of your tights like sharp stones

how your narrow shoulders threw back

the weight of sorrow as

you tried to make sense of things

broken and too heavy for either of us, even together

to move.

I lay in my singleton bed, tucked in by

the enduring chill of night and your jagged absence

pounding like a boulder on my chest

and if there had been a way to

take you away and build tree houses against

all who said

they’re going through a phase

if we separate them long enough

they are bound to find a good local boy

in time in time

oh love, my love, there is not enough time in this

short stacked life, or turn around empty stage

all its broken shells and lost moments curled

in the death of one season to the next

there is not enough power in the

minds of men and frowning adults

to leach this swollen sea from my lips

have your face vanquished along with it

no time can separate those who fate

decrees are bound

no condemnation is loud enough.

I let you go, an unfurled pain through aubergine fields

watching blurred from tears until you are beyond my gaze

even then rooted to the spot as it grew colder

you stood with me, wet cheeked, red with

high wind, the words caught from our mouths

blown like autumn around our woolen ankles

savage and whipping

the crack of old trees as they bend

unwilling and stiff

in the deluge of our hopelessness

I feel still the circle our fingers

made shared in one pocket for warmth and

how your lips tasted like cough drops and mine

or the warmth of your skin on my mouth

a scold from the whole world

who used ugliness to describe

what was always only ever beautiful

the catch of green in your iris, as if a spring shoot had said

I will grow despite the cold

and I could do nothing but let you absail away

our tether a kite, torn by tree branches

still in subsequent years, standing on the hill I saw

the string of us persisting long past its clossure

they said;  it will only take a season

perhaps a year at most

young hearts mend fastest

where did they learn that nonsense?

I grew beyond their chipped confines

you married a local boy, who gave you babies and hearth

without the fire

without the shared, reach of us

and my beckoning on our mountain

as we liked to think it was

when we were wild girls chasing each others burning flame

you smiled when you saw me again

many years hence; still the same full lips and high cheeks

like someone had thought carefully when

they carved you out of hill sides and left their grace in your shape

a woman now, of grown years in straight lines

you look up as I walk in, the chime of the door

wet shoes, dripping umbrella, badly fitting skirt

I can hardly hear the first words just your sound

my throat is closing, my cheeks flaming

our fingers touch beneath table-cloth

as if it were not the future

but that thursday atop the world

your buckled shoes scuffed by our climb

my breathless devour of the last moments

ticking down before

you turn

turn away and descend

into the world that says no to girls

I see fine lines against your eyes, the gentle curves of motherhood

you are wearing rings on all your fingers

and someone has released you from your bond

in the future you are free to ask me

meet at the coffee shop on the corner at ten

and the part of me who waited

watching the summit and our fall

and the part of me who stayed behind

seeing you go into the fog, become no more

and the part of me who knew

we’d return to each other like

coal is made in darkness and so are diamonds

where the taste of sudden storms and electricity

play on your neck and a rising blush

is a sunset in lost time

I saw us then, grown and still smiling

despite the savage world and its rules

you can try to take what is not yours to claim

I tell my enemies and the crows

as starlight falls on the empty shapes of our descent

we will in some hour, somewhere

hear again the beat of one another’s heart

steady and determined, despite the years apart

pull us close against like a final stitch

for I am hers and she is mine

washing over the heather and bracken

like light rain compels rainbows from

grey reluctant skies marbling

her hands in mine, the feeling of dissolving

for some are destined, no matter

will is won over, when never is not forever

and a promise stays growing

beneath fecund earth

 

Something isn’t right here – Candice Louisa Daquin

As a woman, you’re taught

To speak frankly, but not too loud

Consequences for girls are worse

So I learned

To whisper in a roar

And when I cried, I showed nobody

Using the tears as fertilizer

For my wild garden

I am not a person who believes cruel answers anything

why ruin someone just because you can? As a punchline?

once I was called ‘too nice’ and I am often referred to as ‘sweet’

which are probably both gentle character assassinations

I admit it is not so great being a gentle soul, because people admire

bitches, sarcasm, sass, verve (is that still a word?), spite, caustic(ism) and other

signs someone is strong, because if you are cruel

you are seen as hip in this society

even my neighbor likes it when we shoot the shit and she gets that

glassy-eyed affection for tearing people down and asks me all slurred and heady

why I never slag people off for fun

like it’s the equivalent of BBQ and book club

we covet the beast and drown the babe

when did being wicked get so hot?

Vanity Fair? Pride & Prejudice? Beowolf? The Bible?

I would if I could

move

to an island where

being kind wasn’t seen as boring

compassion wasn’t a character flaw

empathy was the dish du jour

(and you could still have a bloody mary before 4pm

come on, I never ran for saint-hood)

would it get tedious?

I don’t see why

I spend most of my life

plucking the back draft from others snide remarks

out of my fender and wondering when

it became such a thing to be an asshole

so much so we elected Presidents standing for rot

as if we need any more meanness in this world

is it the fall of Rome, Babel, or just the Kardashian?

something isn’t right here and I’d like

to get the fuck out now please

 

For the unjust – Candice Louisa Daquin

No

the meek did not inherit the earth

the unjust did

they built towers, tore down land, put up artifices

to their glories

giant gnashing flesh consuming machines they were

so long absented from Eden, Hades, Siddhartha, Zarathustra or Paris, TX

they no longer knew what was cruel cruel CRUEL

she knew, as she placed carefully and with some delicacy

her head in the proverbial lions jaw

she smelt salivation, a drunken lust to abhor

even as she stood her ground, smiled, did not give an inch

felt the carpet of the world being pulled UN-magically

with the wormy writhe of tongues imbibed on sarcasm’s quill

addicted to stabbing in the back, anything not approximating themselves

for the unjust then

it is enough to say

I know you

when I published my first poem, you

wrote your friend; ‘she thinks she’s something special but she’s trash’

I asked you to your face

why did you say this? In the same breath turn to me and smile?

I would rather you told me point-blank

the barrel of a gun is more honest than a knife behind your back

had you told me what you really thought of me I would have said

that is your prerogative

your opinion, you can share it when I am gone

but don’t pretend to like me at the same time

do not kid yourself into believing you are splendid

for the unjust

may play that sick lyre of spite

one moment hold you up, while planing your defeat

I have had so many times, this cold feeling in my gut

now it is part of who I am, to mistrust

when you have taken that, I have nothing left to lose

shock me once, shame on you, shock me twice, shame on me

you were embarrassed, outraged to be caught

I felt no need to forgive what you did not believe was wrong

no the meek did not inherit the earth

the unjust did

I see clearer than before

when object to pinch and humiliate

it was once said, they cannot hurt you if you do not care

but I care

for no truth will be spoken without risk

so I risk

in speaking I know there is much desire to stifle and shame

though I have never understood why some find it necessary

for the unjust then

you rule this thin world

I am just a voice

if I could vanish perhaps I would

but then you’d have gotten what you wanted

so I persist