Deconstructed: A Poetic Journey Through Abuse to Discovery


[A Poetic Journey Through
Abuse to Discovery]

A.J. Rico


TWO MONTHS BEFORE my nineteenth birthday, I met the man who would consume my adulthood and almost destroy me mentally, emotionally, and physically. The day I met him was unremarkable, I remember being fascinated by his intellect and attracted to his dark good looks, but it was his attentiveness that drew me in. Having been raised in an emotionally abusive and neglectful household, the attention this man payed me was like sunlight and water to a wilting flower.

We were virtually inseparable from the moment we met, and I knew that he was the one I wanted to be with. However, that desire didn’t mean I was spotless in the relationship. I was damaged and dysfunctional with no idea that I was. He came from his own history of abuse and dysfunction, but believed he had risen beyond it.

He and I weren’t like oil and water; we were incendiary like a match and gasoline. He brought every insecurity I possessed to the surface, so that I wore them like brands. My dysfunctions exacerbated his. Still, for all the volatility, I had no idea how brutal he truly was until it was too late.

Within six months, the first act of violence occurred, but it was something I could explain away. And, typically, I owned it rather than leaving it with him where it belonged. Within a year, he had slapped me. Within two, he had knocked me unconscious, and put a knife to my throat. And yet, it would be twenty years into the twenty-two year relationship before I would realize I was a battered woman and finally start the process of leaving him.

It was poetry, in large part, which led to this realization and to finding my courage to attempt to end the relationship. I wrote my first poem in 2010 and left for the first time in 2012. During that time, I wrote over 380 poems beginning with “Loose Ends” and ending with “Pandora’s Box.”

As I reread these poems, I saw that they were the mechanism by which my subconscious pieced together the whole of the picture I was unable to see consciously. Each poem brought me closer to the knowledge and the realization that my life was untenable, and that I didn’t deserve the violence being inflicted upon me.

I struggled with how to arrange these poems for publication until I saw the widely circulated diagrams of the cycle of abuse.

It was when I saw this image that I realized my poems flow in rhythm with that cycle. So, in the end, I left them in chronological order.

The thing to remember as you read this book is that I had not yet realized I’d been manipulated and brainwashed to believe everything this man ever said about me. It was through these poems that I saw that, so many are written from the perspective of self-blame because I believed it was my fault and that there was something I could do to prevent the beatings. Something I now know was impossible.

These poems were at once catharsis and therapy, and I truly believe, they saved my life.

Thank you for reading,
A.J. Rico

Loose Ends

Loose ends surround me
floating on the wind
making me feel
pinned down

With emotions churning
and questions burning
But no answers come

Will I be forever undone?

By these loose ends

The Soundtrack of My Soul


A manifestation
of my unconscious
Each line bought
and paid
in memory
laid bare

Only the lyrics
dare speak what I

Show what
I see not

Lines collected
over years.
Each one
so dear
lovingly laid
in my heart

Rise up to impart
seeds of wisdom
in earth not tilled

The message spills out
a deafening shout
unable to be ignored

My song
to the soundtrack
of my soul.

Mind Trip Visions

My gaze
falls on
the page

I want
to write
something sage,
poignant, or profound

Words bounce ‘round
my brain

in vain
for release

There’ll be
no peace
in me

Until all
can see
this poem picture
of mind trip visions

That lays siege
to this mental stricture
imposed by my insecurity

By my desperation
to achieve
poetic purity

That perfect translation
of image, scent, and touch

I don’t think
I’m asking too much

A blank canvas
layered in ink,
syllables, and words

A symbiosis
of thought
and expression

My nerves stretch tight
I sink
towards depression

I’ve tried
with all my might
but now must concede
else watch my picture recede
from my perception

I guess I’ll have to be satisfied
with perfect imperfection.

[*Seized – A Sunday 160]

For thirteen years they abated
leading me to believe I was now free
of this churning, synaptic sea.

Instead, they simply waited
for the right time
to seize me.

*At the time I began writing poetry, there was a blog hosted by Monkey Man with a poetry challenge to write a poem using only 160 characters. There are several included in this collection.


are knit tight

Ever willing to unite
together in joy,
pain, love, or fear

hold one another dear,
share tears, dreams,
and hopes

The ropes of blood
run thicker than water…

But wait,
I can’t continue
down this path
of misconception

“Blood thicker than water”
is certainly not my perception

When being a daughter
means serving yourself
up to the slaughter
of your soul

Where sisters compete
their spirits only replete
when they dance
on the ashes of your dreams

Where a father’s silence
is really passive violence
as his disregard
shatters your heart

Of this “family”
I want no part

Decades I spent
resisting their constant
insisting that I fail

Fighting in vain
to earn their respect

Til one day it was
made plain …

I must leave them behind
else lose my mind!

With my feet on this path
I shed my wrath

And renounced this
“familial” negativity

Now, once and for all
I’ve consigned them
to relativity.

Desire’s Touch

I don’t remember much
of the feel of desire’s touch

Those shivers down my spine
or the need for him to be mine

Desire has long faded
leaving me sadly jaded

Unsure if I’ll ever find
that one love so pure

With a man whose soul

My faith, loyalty,
and respect

Unfortunately, I’ve come to

That such a love
will not be mine

Until such a time

That I can be the same
for him that he is for me.

There is No Tomorrow – A Sunday 160

There is no tomorrow . . .

A phrase I’ve often heard
People say, “How can there be no tomorrow
when I have yesterday?”
There is no tomorrow
only another today


in not a word
applied to men

But, then
most don’t see the truth

Why is it uncouth
to call a man beautiful?

Are they not?

Must we always stop
at simply, “He’s hot!”

Male beauty
runs soul deep

It’s the man
who is not afraid
to weep

Or, admit he’s hurt
words most men
would never blurt

It’s the man
who holds your hand
despite all his friends
standing around

It’s the man
who holds you tight
through the night
just to have you near

And, yes
it’s the man
willing to kick some ass
and never let an injustice pass

So again,
I ask why am I
not allowed to call
a man beautiful

They may be few
and far between

But, with sight that’s keen
I suspect you will find him

The real question is…

Are you woman enough
to earn his respect?

For that’s the only way
to keep him.


is not acquired
it’s affirmed

The foundation is belief
the walls are challenge
the building is success

Self-esteem is a result
not a cause

Saying, “Because I don’t have it”
doesn’t fly

Ask yourself why?

Who is stopping you?

Self-esteem can’t be taken
only given

Why be so generous
with your soul?

Giving it away
peace by peace

Until you have it
no more

Well, there’s the door!

If pity is what you seek,

Let me give you a peek
at your future …


So, get set for your
roller-coaster ride

No one but you
can stop the slide

Into a personal hell
of your own making

I’m serious, no faking

This is your house
you built it

So, your excuses don’t fit

Step up your game
feel no shame

Put yourself to the test
do your best

My final bequest …

These words, I give to you …
Set your own value

The Stranger Beside Me

The lines, shape and contours
of your face are etched
in my memory with indelible ink

After so many years, you’d think
my knowledge of you
would be more than skin deep

My armor is distance
my sword is derision

But never did I envision
the day my perceptions
changed and my mind
was blown

You see,
suddenly I knew
you were a stranger beside me

The essence of you unknown
the map of your heart unexplored

Despite all the years you poured
care, love, and solace
into the black hole
of my pain, rage, and hate

Have I left it too late?
Or, is there time yet to navigate
the depths which are you?

I Remember When

I remember when
my daughter loved me

She was ignorant of
my flaws then

Gazing into her infant’s eyes
I thought her love could never die

Not realizing how soon that bond
would stretch taut

Slowly, her regard for me fades
day by day from too many mistakes made

Reclaiming something lost
bears a deeper cost
than never giving it away

Her anger flays my skin
and shreds my soul

But, without her
I can never be whole

So, here I am
on my knees
where, once again,
I pray

Lord, please
grant me one more day

To find my way home

I promise to never again roam
so far astray

For, in her is where
my heart always lay

Heart’s Song

When positive words
fall from his lips
my entire world shifts

Lifting my heart
expanding my chest
clearing my mind

As I inhale
his praising breath

When harsh words
fall from his lips
my entire world shifts

Twisting my stomach
clenching my teeth
devastating my psyche

As I absorb
his cutting blow

In all of this
don’t exist

My spirit
no more than clay
shaped by whichever direction
his opinions lay

I know this is wrong
it’s up to me to be strong
and find a way

To sing
my own heart’s song.


soothes my spirit
and fills the void
inside me

Left by demons past
their constant repast
the tears of my soul

Relentlessly, they marched
their only goal to destroy me

Tied by a cord, bound by blood

They conspired
that I’d never be free

Rather than die,
I decided to fly

With words
as my wings

The Unvirgin

It will get better
they said

The first time
you take him to your bed

Rends and tears
blood gets everywhere

So, I prepared
determined not to care
about the pain

I gifted him
with my virginity
but the only pain
was the indignity
of lying there with my legs spread

No pain, no blood
my entry into womanhood is

Put aside, buried deep
I refuse to peek

Into memories
of that long ago day
waking in my childhood bed
with blood between my legs
from where I could not say

Today, I wonder
was my virginity torn asunder
while my brain hid

Am I keeping secrets
even from me?
That night is blank,
nothing do I see

Was it taken or given
can I be shriven
while haunted by doubt?

Is my history re-written?
Will I ever find out?

This question lingers
ever unanswered
I’ve no way to begin

I wonder if evermore
I’ll remain an unvirgin

Love Unconditional – A Sunday 160

A gift of love
sent from up above

To heal a heart
torn apart by anguish

I was granted my wish
now love unconditional is mine

Who knew it would be canine.

In Cold Blood

In cold blood
I wait
leaving you to your fate

In cold blood
I see
and never again will you hurt me

In cold blood
I fear
I’ll never find myself to hold dear

In cold blood
I find
this state can twist your mind

In cold blood
I plead
for the means to fulfill this need

In cold blood
I pray that I won’t remain this way

In cold blood
I cry
but not for you when you die

For, in cold blood
you tread
on my soul leaving me the living dead.


There is darkness
inside me
raging to be free

Festering from
the abuse and neglect
I’ve heaped upon me

Embracing this pain
is terrifying you see

My fear keeps me
separate from those
that do love me

My defense
against your love
is the bitch I choose to be

It’s your light
in my darkness
from which I flee

Saving me from myself
is not your duty

That’s my job
my responsibility

It’s a bitter pill
letting go this negativity

My true savior is this
new found creativity

Its healing light
shining bright
where darkness used to be.


What do you do
when anger is your muse?

When rage and pain
write your refrains

When it’s shame and doubt
that bring the creativity out

Will the words still flow
if pain isn’t all I know?

Will my verses be insipid
if I’m no longer livid?

I’m caught unknowing
not sure I want my rhymes “glowing”

But, what path do I take
when happy feels fake?

Yet, anger fades
as new memories are made

I guess when the crumbs fall
I’ll know since I’m told
time heals all.


Layer upon layer
hidden from sight

The revelation of which
would cause me only fright

These truths revealed
would leave my soul peeled
and exposed to scrutiny
why should that be
my destiny?

Letting you get the
best of me?

I think not

Now the enemy,
my essence
you don’t get to see

Don’t bother to try
or ask me why

The very fact that you
don’t know is why
I remain incognito.


Today, I perceive I’ve been
granted a reprieve

Yet, one more chance
to participate in life’s dance

To spin and twirl
while I reclaim that girl

I used to be …

Looking back I see

She hoped and dreamed
embracing life as it seemed

She left me long ago
but little did I know

That decades later
I’d no longer hate her

Now, I see
that her sincerity
required true temerity

That my adult affectations
were really just low expectations

She knew better,
but I didn’t “get” her

Wisely, she lay in wait
for me to recognize
her as my soulmate

Two halves, one whole
our dance heals my soul

I can think of
no better way
to spend my birthday.

Time – A Sunday 160

Time’s a wastin yes indeed
moving far away from me
I thought I’d have the time I’d need
Now, time flies at hyper-speed
Yet… writing this rhyme
is worth my time

Thrown Away

I was thrown away
by someone I’d trusted

Yet one more
bubble busted

It’d been a long
time since we talked

But, I’d balked
at closing the door

Refusing to believe
no more could be said

That this relationship
was in fact dead

But, yesterday
she took my choice away

She said I was the enemy
rather than the friend I’d proven to be

She said I had no respect
but, in reflection, I suspect

It was just an excuse

That she’d decided she had no use
for the status quo

Estranged due to circumstance
but still with a chance to heal

Unfortunately now no deal

She decided to bail
from a distance using email

Robbing me of my say
over 18 years so carelessly
tossed away

She chose this path
so she could avoid my wrath

And view me with disdain
while she inflicted pain

What I’ve come to see
she never truly cared for me

Only the control she’d thought
she had over me

This one I once happily
called family

Now, she’ll be nothing to me
As I’m nothing to her

What is truly sad,
I can’t find it in me
to be mad

She locked the door
Now of only one thing am I sure
I’ll hold her in my heart
no more.

Nothing to Say

I have nothing to say
as I sit pen in hand
waiting for inspiration

I have nothing to say
as I wait, and my brain
screams in desperation

I have nothing to say
as I drown in anxiety-filled desperation

I have nothing to say
as I pray that I’m suffering
no artistic incapacitation

I have nothing to say
the words dammed
despite my poetic dedication

I have nothing to say it seems
So, I guess this means
I must accept
my present creative devastation

Exposed – A Sunday 160

My poems hold my rage & fears
my cruelty to those dear
my cowardice revealed to judgment’s sight
I cringe in the healing light
Yet, suddenly feeling is alright.

Three Little Words

Three little words
that I long to say

But I don’t dare
for it wouldn’t be fair

In light of our past
and the hurt I brought
upon you

You’ve forgiven me you said
with such alacrity

I was humbled by the depth
of your nine year old maturity

Your hope and faith in my ability

To grow and be the mom
you need me to be

To you I give
my solemn vow
that, as of now
my whole-hearted quest
is to be the best person
I can be

So that one day
I might just earn the right*
to say once again those
three little words.

*When my daughter was five years old, I was forbidden from every telling her I loved her or else suffer the consequences. To appease him and yet still let my daughter know I loved her, I developed code words that I used with her.


When you coast
you don’t get to boast
of deeds well done

The effort came from another
because you wouldn’t bother
to give
your time
your effort
your heart

So, why do you deserve
part of the credit?

Don’t you get it?

You must give to get
in this life

Because ever will
you get what you give

So, choose how
you intend to live
… or not

It’s the only choice
you’ve got

But, remember …

Stolen memories fade
That’s the bed you’ve made.

Love’s Locked Door

I’ve tried to write
about love’s shining light

Its joy and intimacy
how I finally understand
exactly what it’s meant to be

But, I’m not able

For over three decades
love was nothing more than
a fable

Told in the pages
of the books I read

While my psyche had been
ravaged and left for dead
by the people I trusted most

In time, I saw love
as the parasite to my host

So I closed the door
not wanting any more
of “love’s” savagery

Daily my wrath grew
leveling anyone
in my path

Til the devastation of my
world was complete

Leaving me only
one choice

Life or true death?

Embrace my pain
or end my life’s
cruel refrain?

I chose both

Now, I understand
about love’s guiding hand
and healing touch

But, I find love poetry
a bit too much

My pen falters
it feels like it alters
my past

As if I’m moving
much too fast

I’d like to be a true
love poet

Maybe one day
the time will be right
and I’ll know it

Til then I leave it to those
who’ve clearly experienced
love’s truth

Tracy, Amanda, Ilakya*
your poetic recitation of your
loving exploration
frightens me
wounds me
inspires and moves me

Reels me back
when I want to flee

Your love repeatedly
opens my “love’s” locked door

But of one thing
I’ve become absolutely sure

I’ll always come back for more.

* Tracy, Amanda, and Ilakya were poets whom I began following after joining the Thursday Poet’s Rally and who often commented on my poetry as well.


has become a second skin

Squeezing me until
I fear I will give in
and flee

Let my confidence
one again crumble
around me

Bury my head
in the sand

And wear my cowardice
like a brand

Erect more barriers
til I become spite’s
infectious carrier

Pressure is indeed
a second skin

Squeezing me until
I fear I will give in
and flee

But, a new will
has taken root inside me

Reaching down deep
and grabbing hold of my spirit

Quitting now?

I’ve come too far
I won’t hear of it!


floods the veins
fills the skin
races the heart
focuses the mind

Most think
fear is unkind
that it breaks you down
crumbles your will
and robs the soul

In truth it makes
you whole

It’s the yang
to courage’s yin

Embrace your fear
just don’t give in

Instead, think on this
a bit …

You simply
cannot live without it.


Unstoppable force
tearing down years old walls
showing me myself honestly


My brain is fried
a synaptic stew

Leaving me wondering
what to do

I can’t seem to think

Inexorably I creep
closer & closer
to the brink

The work ahead
makes me want to run for bed

Maybe with some rest
I can do my best

I guess we’ll just
have to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

*My abuser routinely used sleep deprivation to control me, keeping me up all night arguing relentlessly until I gave in to whatever he was demanding or “confessed” to whatever he was accusing me of. If I was lucky I got to sleep the next day. Once he kept me awake for 36 hours straight.

Falling in Love

Falling in love
is hard to do
when you know every flaw

When the scars run deep
and wounds are still raw

When looking yourself in the eye
makes you cry out WHY?

When the memories that haunt
your mind are so completely unkind

How do you find love
when another’s pain fits you
like a glove?

And all you see
is their misery

Oh, yes …

Loving me is hard
to do

It’s far easier
to love you

Your empathy
and grace

Your beautiful,
smiling face

It’s your love
I cherish
as I hopefully watch
my identity perish

So that one day
I too can see enough reason
to love me.


A whore
sells her body,
mind, and soul

Trying to fill
a hole in her spirit

She screams inside
where no one can hear it

Struggling in vain
to dull the pain
in male attention
their feigned affection

Her future
so bleak if she remains
this weak

Can she rise above
and give true love?

Or, does she stay
on this path
drowning in her
suicidal wrath?

While shame fills
every pore

For now, she’s nothing
more than a whore.

[*My Body Betrays Me]

My body betrays me
stealing my breath
knocking me to my knees

My hands tremble
my body shakes
as my vision grows dim

The blackness comes
my pulse thrums
in my ears

My biggest fear
encompasses me
I’m unable to flee

Everything reduced
to one single moment
in time

Profoundly aware
of every scent
every heart beat
every nerve ending scored

I struggle in vain
panic reigns
until I can fight no more

Lying there on the floor
unseeing, unfeeling, undone
the dark has come

I’ve succumbed
oblivion won

The betrayal complete
my nerves, synapses, and cells
admit defeat

All I can do is wait
for betrayal is now
my inevitable fate.

*I’ve had epilepsy since I was eleven years old. From the age of twenty-three to thirty-six, however, I was seizure free. This changed after my abuser detached my retina, and, due to complications from the surgery and the excruciating pain that resulted, I relapsed.


Poetry invades
my soul

It makes me whole
and soothes me through
the rigmarole of life

With its strife
and pain that cuts
like a knife
but is dulled
by poetry’s balm

Erased by creative

I’ll forever savor
this particular life lesson

A Live Unlived

A life unlived
decisions unmade
leaving you with desires
you crave unfulfilled

While tears spill
down your cheeks
at the days, weeks,
months, years
you’ve lived in fear
of yourself

Til your only wealth
is regret,
shame, and despair
your lungs scream for air

While you lie in the grave
at the end of the road
you paved
of cowardice and spite

Malice crowds out the light
that once dwelled
in your soul

Now just a black hole
of destruction
til you merely function

Tossed Aside

I tossed me aside
turned my back as I cried
stepped on my soul leaving me unwhole
not knowing that one stops growing
when running from pain, then only it reigns

On a Ledge

I’m losing my edge
I stand on a ledge

My sanity is faltering
my life course is altering

The walls are crashing

We’re back to clashing

To identity bashing
and semantic hashing

The strain is crushing

To the end we are rushing

Swept along in this
siren song

Can I stop the clock?

Tick, tock
Tick, tock

I guess not.


I’m tired of the anger
Tired of the pain
Tired of the hate that reigns
down on my page

Trying desperately
to disperse this rage that flows
over and over again it goes

Shaping the words
painting a picture

‘Til desolation has become
my poetic scripture

But, I want more
I want to be sure

That I have a place
among the human race

That allows me to flourish
and always nourish the
inner me that no one
gets to see in case
they hurt me

My shoulders feel so heavy
I grow more and more weary

All I want is to be happy


A burning breath
disintegrating the soul
poisoning all peace


As a child
all I knew was
I loved you

As a child
all I knew was
to obey you

As a child
all I knew was
not to question you

As a child
all I knew was
I’d be ridiculed by you

As a child
all I knew was
to keep my emotions from you

As a child
I couldn’t see
how much you’d harm me

As a child
I couldn’t see
how much you hated me

As a child
I couldn’t see
how much
you crippled me


Part of me is broken
from your “loving” token

How could you dare
to say you care
when only my despair
made you flourish

And, ever did you nourish
my pain

My anger
My discontent

Is my soul
eternally torn asunder
because I let you
plunder my heart?

Will I always
stand apart?

An observer to
life’s game

Wrapped in my

With abuse my
middle name?

Never revealing
my truth
or how I drowned
my youth in excess

My façade so strong
no one could guess

The real me
turned to cruelty

To transferring
my agony

To sharing what was
inflicted upon me

The abused now
the abuser

Reveling in my
aloof disdain
trying desperately
to feel no pain
to never be unsure

I thought it the cure
for what ailed me

Little did I know
that failure would be
my only certainty


Control is
a fool’s dream

No matter how easy
it may seem

To manipulate
your surroundings
to avoid the pain
that’s pounding
for release

So this agonizing
fear can cease
dictating your choice
smothering your voice
drowning you in doubt

For God’s sake just let it out!

Be done with it!
Grab life and run with it!

Find your voice
Make the choice
and thrive

Embrace the joy
of being alive

Only then will you be whole
and wake from this
nightmare need
for control.


I would like for there to be
a God who loves me

Its eternal breath infused
in everything I see
bringing peace and harmony
to this chaos theory
we call life

Instead, I see a world
full of rage, pain,
and excess

Where every day
we live a little less

Defining our lives
with shallow recitations
and low expectations
so that we protect
our inviolate shells

Not recognizing
the living hell we create
as love fades to hate
and apathy reigns complete

Until the world
lies in ash at our feet
and we hurtle ever forward
to whatever fate
we are doomed
to greet

If we are truly created in
God’s image, then this God
I don’t wish to meet.


Possessed by another’s will
compelled by another’s command
shaped by another’s demands

No identity but that which is provided
no imperative but that which is given
no opinion but that which is bestowed

Life and death held within
another’s hand
another’s whim

The outlook has never been
so grim

Life passes by
at a lightning crawl

Youth recedes
Hope fades
Light dims
Love …

Pardon me
for the madness
within this rave

Pay it no mind

It’s only the ramblings
of a slave.


Poems of the past
are attempts to blast
away pain and
to regain my sanity
they are not
merely vanity
no matter how it may seem
If only they could redeem.


My memories
are gone
and drawn

Ripped from
my mind
their death
wasn’t kind

The whole
left behind
is deaf,
dumb, and blind

No history
to shape me
yet, my past still
rapes me

What course do I set
that I haven’t
tread yet?

How can I know
which way to go
when all that remains
is the ghost of my pain?


Insanity is the
height of vanity
an attempt to shape
the reality shared by
both you and me

To dictate
our collective fate
at your whim

By sealing the world out
and dwelling within
your own head only.
To me, that’s cowardice

Who are you to do
what the rest of us
aren’t allowed to

To deny reality
and answer “Why?”
for me

Who do you
think you are?

let it be known …

I reject your reality
and insert my own.

What Would It Be Like

What would it be like
to feel the touch of desire
rather than the sting
of another’s ire?

What would it be like
to know the sweetness
of love’s breath
rather than the threat
of lonely death?

What would it be like
to trust in fate
rather than the certainty
of another’s hate?

What would it be like
to love surely
rather than live in fear purely?

What would it be like
to live freely
rather than fear
expressing the inner me?

What would it be like
to live outside of this page
rather than dwell
in years old rage?

What would it be like
to embrace life’s flow?

After so many stanzas lived
I doubt I’ll ever know.

Cinematic Fantasy

Movies are fantasies
of lives never lived
by me

Heroes and heroines
in whose shoes
I desire to be

Their courage
and will
a magnet
for my soul

For I have
just a hole
where those
qualities should live

Oh, what I would give
to have their lives
their quests
their challenges
fought and overcome

To feel the satisfaction
of deeds well-done
of battles fought
and enemies slain

Of magical knights
and exquisite pain
to know in my every cell
that I’ve been to hell
and back again

To never know
a lack of heart

Oh, how I long
to be a part
of and dwell
in my cinematic fantasy.

Fantasy World

I live in a
fantasy world

An escape from this life
where every nerve ending
is scored

With doubt over desires
I fear letting out

So I retreat
into my mind

Where only my
own kind dwell

And there’s no one to tell
of my secret wants

Or expose my deepening need

To live and embrace
a place of my own choosing

Where I don’t fear losing
myself to the norms and
strictures imposed
upon me

Can’t anyone see
that I just want to
simply be
that I’m not the enemy
of you?

I don’t know what else
to do

Except find release,
some semblance of peace
in my fantasy world.


the unwitting infection

Of reality despite
the carefully crafted
image of me

I’ve created
to cover up this girl
that I’ve hated

Throughout my ages
a different picture on
each of my life’s pages

But, stop

I’m sick of this fate
I no longer want to hide
now, I walk with pride

Why should I feel shame
simply because I don’t fit into
your life’s game?

You don’t fit into mine
and, for once I’m just fine
with that thought

What’s the point
of being overwrought?

What is simply is
and we are what we are

However, it’s time to raise
the bar
for my soul

I feel almost whole
life is good
I feel understood
by me

And, that’s exactly
how it should be

Look at me now …

I’m finally free!

Free to be Me

I want someone
who wants me
flaws and all

Not someone
at whose feet
I must crawl

For why should I
sacrifice myself
just to be with someone else?

But, I’ve tried
Oh, how I’ve tried

To sublimate my desires
to suppress this growing ire
to be anything other than me

Until my fate
is a psyche full of hate

The reflection I see
is disgusting to me

Youth lost,
wisdom tossed out
like trash

As I race in this mad
dash to some unknown end

While always under another’s
will do I bend

Is that light I see?

Or just another fantasy
of a world in which
I’m comfortable being me

Time will tell
will I heal and be well?

Or continue to spin
in my personal hell?

I don’t know
sorrow and regret grow

None of my true self
do I show

My soul
painted in words

My identity
hidden in shadow

There to remain
until courage do I gain

to be free
to be me.


What would the world say
if I painted myself grey?

What would the world do
if I painted myself blue?

What would be said
if I painted myself red?

I can tell you one thing true

It wouldn’t be “we love you”

No, in this world
we must conform

To someone else’s
version of norm


Tell me why
must I be what you
say or die a slow
death of loneliness
and pain?

Fear and shame
a constant refrain

Fuck that!
I say

It’s my new dawn
my new day

If you can’t handle it,
get out of my way!
I’ll have my say or else

For, only now do I understand
the soul-deadening enormity
of succumbing to this world’s conformity


That connection has never been there
the one that makes you intimately aware

Of another’s being, another’s soul
that one who makes you feel whole

Where every touch, every look, every breath is a proposition rather than an annoying imposition

Where their simple presence
breathes that visceral essence

Of need, desire and love
where their body fits like a glove

Their physicality fills every pore
and you intrinsically know that they are yours

No, I’ve no knowledge of this emotion
all of my lovers have stood across an ocean

Too far to see
forever removed from me

Not inspiration enough to navigate the churning sea
that rages inside of me

Intimate strangers, separate and unknown
I remain ever apart and alone

Words – A Sunday 160

My words frighten you
You don’t know what to do
You wonder if this state will rub off on you
So I don’t bare my soul or show you the whole of me
I am so lonely

The Dance

I remember what it was to dance
to step on stage with no backward glance

To feel peace and harmony
as the music flowed inside me

To leap and fly
in a curtain-bounded sky

To spin and twirl
as my spirit unfurled

To twist, stretch and bend
as if the music would never end

When I look back I see
it was joy that suffused me

It limned my soul
dance made me whole

Years later, I no longer
dance, spin, leap, or fly

But, oh what I wouldn’t give
to once more live
the dance


Chains smother and prevent
you from seeing other opportunities

They blind you to the

They keep you enslaved
in a false reality

Never knowing what it is
to be free

It took so long for me
to see these chains

But, I did and I acted
despite how much it impacted
my life

I know not what strife
lays on this path

I only know that I plan
to walk it.


Two people bound
by history not love

Shared memory binds tight,
an abrasive glove

Good, bad, ambivalent
too much time spent
being indifferent

Now, youth is gone
time has marched on

Yet, together we remain
despite years of pain

Too many years though the sieve
I’m ready to finally live

Another Year

Another year has gone
this one, though, I hold dear
to my heart

It represented the start
of a new era a new age

The turning of my
life’s page in a new direction

New challenges,
new places,
new goals,
new dreams

For once life feels
just as good as it seems

Last year, I danced
my soul renewed

Today, I kneel and give thanks
while I pray on this
my birthday.


Some days
I feel so
from those
around me

I look
I see
people talking
being made

But, me
I just fade
into the background
no friends
in sight

I wonder
if I ever
might truly
love, laugh,
and live

all I have
to give
without reservation

Maybe, have
an actual
unreserved conversation
where I can
unwind and
be free

Knowing that
person likes
the actual me

Today, though
I sit
by the wall
of my sorrow
I might yet
find a friend


I wanted to write
a poem today but couldn’t
figure out how to say
what I’m feeling

My mind is reeling
from place to place
leaving me in no specific
point in space
and time

So, I’m left
with this simple rhyme
that does nothing to convey
the loss
the hurt
the sadness
the pain
the anger
the fatigue
that was
on the tip
of my tongue
until my thoughts
came undone

Shadow of Death

I need to grieve
but I don’t know how
or even what for
which leaves me
no reprieve

All I know
is that today
I feel sad
I feel lost
I feel alone
I feel mad

I want to know joy
I want to see a bright future
maybe just a little

But all I feel is brittle
as if my skin’s too tight

As if I just might shatter into
a million pieces with a deep breath

The tears push and fight
for release
but, I know they won’t
bring me peace

The only thing popping that cork
will do is destroy what little self-control
I still have

I tell myself it won’t be that bad
that it’s okay to grieve

But, I don’t know what I’m grieving for
only that I feel the shadow of death
around me.


by a crowd
alone with thoughts
I’d never speak
out loud

The type of thoughts
that separate me
from my humanity
and make me feel
that I dwell
in insanity

As if I’m just flesh and bone
taking up space
but never truly part
of the human race

I’ve thought
of ending
it all

Once, as a teen,
I even tried
but, I found out
I didn’t want to die

I’m just so sick
of living
this eternal lie

The one
where I pretend
to understand

Or faith
in the being
up above

The one
where I
to things wise
and true
instead of this truth
I don’t know
what to do

How to be

Or, even truly

What do I know
other than
grief and pain
which I inflicted
abundantly like
drops of rain?

What do I know
other than
cowardice and fear?

You won’t
even find
my true name

I know
how to hide
I know
how to run
I know
how to hurt
I know
how to shame

I don’t seem
to know
how to break
the chain

I don’t know
how to smile and laugh
I don’t know
how to love
I don’t know
how to give

What reasons are left
in this life I live
to endure?

Even suicide
requires courage
that I don’t have

But, what salve
is there for me?

What balm
to heal a
shattered soul?

Who can’t see the path
to being whole?

Where do I turn?

More than anything else
I’d like to know

Where do the broken go?


The dawning
of a new day

The uttering
of what I want to say

The hope
with which I’ll pray
on this life

Try once more
to end this strife
between you and I

To make you
smile instead of reviling me

I know what you see
when you look at me

I’m not her anymore
but, this looks like one score

We’ll never settle
daily, that tests my mettle

It’s making me
dig deep inside

Forcing me
to stand not hide

To hold my head up
with pride

No matter what you might say
that hurts me today


That’s it
I’m done

It’s over
you’ve won

I’m done fighting
but I’m still writing

You don’t get to have my soul
I refuse to remain unwhole

I won’t take on
any more blame

I carry enough shame

But that doesn’t mean
that I don’t dream

We are where we are
I’m raising the bar

On MY life
I want no more strife

We can’t seem to have that together
I hope that separate we’ll be better

I wish you the best
I’m letting this go

Maybe now
my heart and soul
can rest

Square Peg Round Hole

I wish I’d never met you

I take that back

I wish I’d left you

You deserved better
than the pain I inflicted

Each time I tried though
I’d end up so conflicted

Telling myself I should become
the woman you wanted

I should stay and eventually,
somehow, everything would be okay

So, I did

Now, I see I could never be anything
other than me

I was selfish
you weren’t mine to keep

Now, the wounds run so deep
I don’t think they can heal
no matter how much I beg
or trade my soul

All we have left is the years
of trying to put a square peg
through a round hole


Today, I felt true fear
at the thought of losing
one so dear to me

Through him I learned
to see myself
as lovable
as worthy
as acceptable

Through him I’ve learned
to laugh
to pamper
to play

What can I truly say?

I often feel like
I live in a fog

But, I’m always loved
when I hang with
the world’s best dog!

The Bed I Made

Today was a good day
until I got your call

Now, I long to hide,
to crawl

Somewhere dark and deep
so I can grieve

Let the pain seep
through my pores
hoping to breathe once more

But, here I must stay
I fight to make it through
each day

But, fight I will
I refuse to quit

It’s the bed I made
so, I’ll continue to lay in it

[* Self- Control *]

ever reaching
for something
just outside my grasp

Knowing down deep
that it’s something
I must keep

Dear and close to my heart
for it is ever a part

Of my constant war
on this life so full of strife
and pain

And here I find myself
again and again

Reaching for that thing
that will keep me whole

The barrier
that protects my soul

Unique to me
defining me

I grasp tightly
to my self-control


Stuck in denial
we stand opposed

Your expression hard
Your mind closed

Don’t get me wrong,
I know why you see
a completely different reality

But, now we’ve come to the end
of our path

I stand accused of betrayal most foul
and of incurring your wrath

I didn’t, I wouldn’t
I’m better than that

But, like the
boy who cried wolf
now, we’re trapped
in denial

I’m unable to make you believe
that the truth as you see it
is pure fiction to me.

Why Argue?

Why argue?
What will that do?

Except stand me
in opposition to you

Why argue?
What will that do?

Except highlight the chasm
I can’t find my way through.

Why argue?
What will that do?

Except make it plain
our relationship is through.

Why argue?
What will it do?

Except remind me that I
don’t know what to do.

But, argue I will
though it’s like
swallowing a bitter pill

Because my life
is here and now
the past is done
that’s my vow.

You don’t have to accept it
You don’t have to believe it
You don’t have to want it

But, I have to live it.

I Think in Rhymes

I think in rhymes, I dream in verse.

When I was a child, this seemed a curse.
Constant metaphors dripping through my brain
never knowing when I’d be normal again.

As I’ve grown, this trait has stayed.

The one constant, something reliable
it alone has never betrayed
me. Now, I find comfort
in the poetic flow. I pour it out
into the ether, zeros and ones
bytes and bits, they alone are
my only respite when life overwhelms me.

My poems have changed, altered, shaded
but the need for them has not faded.
If anything, it grows. Like an umbilical cord
to my psyche, I can’t hide the truth of me
no matter how much I might wish to.
They connect me to my subconscious
Link me to my soul, provide the lifeboat
so one day … just maybe … I will be whole.


With knowledge comes responsibility
I think this is why I’ve often refused to see
things that stood right in front of me

Why I deliberately blinded my eyes
Never bothered to ponder the whys
because then I would be forced to act

Willful ignorance is an act of violence
against the one who sees the truth, knows the pain
of my refusal to accept reality once again

How many times have I harmed another
because I couldn’t be bothered
to acknowledge my duty, my obligation

To accept their knowledge, their life, their dreams
Now, the only knowledge left to me, it seems
is to let go gracefully whether it redeems
me or not.

No “Thank You”

What if “thank you” didn’t exist?
and the whole world had to subsist
on the acts alone.

Would we be a better place?
Would we improve the human race?

If acts had to be done
just because they were right
and true and not to receive
the words “thank you”

Simplicity and sincerity
might rain

People might
actually alleviate pain

Instead of pursuing selfish gratitude
to bolster the repellent attitude
that their act of giving is the end game
all the while pretending it’s in charity’s name

Yes, the world would be a different place
We’d definitely be a different race

Better … I don’t know, but, surely,
there’d be less artifice
if “thank you” simply didn’t exist.

Don’t Feel Sorry for Me

Don’t feel sorry for me

I am the perpetrator
of my destiny

The sculptor
of my soul

And solely responsible
for every hole that remains unfilled

My victimization ended
the day I rended
roots planted at my birth
and fled

I only wish I had seen
that I was dead inside

I’d learned to hide
to cower in fear
shackle myself
just to be near another

Unwilling to see
any other course

But, those days are past
and I feel that
I am becoming uniquely me
healing the ravages of
parental manifest destiny

Don’t feel sorry for me

Instead, take my hand
smile wide and let’s go on a magic ride
together. I wonder … how far will we fly?


What you see
is not what you get

At least … not yet

A work in progress
A portrait in flux
I think it’s time for a me redux

No longer shy
No longer content to not know why
Sick to death of the tears I cry
I want only to let loose and fly

To soar in the clouds
free as a bird
As unfettered as my soul
A true, geeky, sexy nerd

I love and I lust
I am happy to share
Now if only I could just
show those who care

That the inner me
is the better me
and I’d much rather be


My life is out of balance
unbearably so
it feels like death
and steals my breath

Tipped to far over
toward sadness and pain
peace my one desire
yet, all I see is your ire

I’m tired, so tired
I don’t know how to heal
the pain I’ve caused
the anger I’ve festered
the rage I’ve fed

Or how to successfully live in this bed
I made it, I hate it
I can’t bear it any more

Daily, I think of walking out that door
and never returning
anywhere is better than this constant pain burning

Where to go …
I don’t know, I never did.


A rainbow appeared to me today
after I failed to slay my demons.

What does it mean?
A blessing, however unseen?

Or, maybe, a lesson learned
rather than spurned?

More likely, it was nothing more
than a rainbow.

Knowledge, con’t

Knowledge is power
or so I’ve been told
a sentiment, unbelievably old

Withholding knowledge
is where true power lies

Shielding your truth
from unwanted eyes

At least …

until …

you realize …

That all you’ve bought
is loneliness and pain
because who wants to be shunned
again and again

No one, that’s who
but it’s up to you

Withhold and reign alone
or leap with both feet
before the chance is gone.

I am the Locust

I am the locust
reaper of pain
eater of souls

Think I care
if you remain whole?

Fuck you! This shit’s
all about me

Who cares what you
do or don’t see

Your opinion means
nothing to me

Your life means
nothing to me

Your pain means
nothing to me

I am the locust
reaper of pain
eater of souls
even my own


Hope …
such a delicate thing
like a fragile bud of spring
so easy to crush
or ignore in our rush

It would be better
if hope were a weed
eating up pain in its greed
spreading wild and fast
covering areas broad and vast

But, alas
hope is but a delicate flower
that nevertheless holds immense power

The power to forgive
the power to love
the power to rise above
your past

Open your windows
open your doors
let love shine in like never before

A new day is dawning
it’s wide in its scope
powered exclusively by
this thing called hope.

Cocked and Locked

I’ve got a gun to my head
cocked and locked
ready to fire
primed by unending ire

Looking down the barrel I see
twenty years of history

I wonder

Will it hurt when my past
catches up to me?

The Hate that Hate Made

Watching as hope fades

And the light dies
behind your eyes
until belief is lost

The inevitable cost when pain
becomes the refrain
of your life

The betrayal cuts
like a knife

Where love once bloomed
you’re now consumed with rage

So dawns a new age
of cold revelation
built on the devastation
of your dreams

A new path created
and now it is fated
to kill or be killed

As you’re filled
with the hate
that hate made

Remember Me

I live in a fantasy
where I’m loved and free
and content simply to be me

I exist in a reality
where every day
I hope and pray
I’ll make my way

Where every night
I beg and plead
simply to retain
this life I lead
‘til I’m worn out

My dreams trapped
within the hourglass
I watch as my sand flows
and life goes
by me

No longer any upside-down
for this petrified frown

I no longer expect to
to see my life’s deed
returned to me

I just want someone,
to remember me
when I’m gone.

Radio Edit

Poetry captures the soul of me
displaying my essence for the world to see

Well, at least the radio edit
I don’t expect anyone to get it

The truth of me
in its full obscenity
is more than any other should hear
especially those I hold dear

I keep it close, dim the light
Arm myself for the fight
my shoulders may be small
my stature may be slight
But, I’m now an expert in this fight
I’ll carry it, not you, that’s only right

Behind the Eyes

Abuse comes
in many forms

Programming the psyche
until being ravaged
is the norm

Blinded eyes
ignore the impending demise
of their soul

The physical
is the most obvious
the mental
is the more insidious

Creating damage inside
never seen except
behind the eyes

An heirloom forms
passed from generation
to generation

Hidden and kept
out of sight

Why don’t we fight
this misery and shame
as intimate as our name?

Bring it to the surface
develop a fucking purpose
other than pain!

Else, we’ll never reclaim
our souls

Please Show Me the Way

Restless today
unsettlement that won’t go away

Feeling like my skin is expanding
thoughts and ideas demanding
my attention yet they remain unseen

Over and over I’ve been
trying to unravel this existential code
trying to find peace within this abode
of my skin

But, today, I don’t win
against pain and fear
hurt and grief

All I’m really seeking is relief
okay, maybe a little peace

But, damn, does it have to be this empty?
Do my comforting bad habits have to tempt me?

Tear threaten, my eyes burn
to whom can I turn?

My usual avenues closed
maybe I’ll just lay quietly in repose

I just don’t know what else to say
Damn, someone please show me the way

The Female Inside You

Sensuality wrapped in silken flesh
the depths of which leave most to guess
the inner workings of her brain
the way to evoke her lover’s refrain

Yet, even as they long to taste her feminine flower
they don’t comprehend her earthly power
to nurture yet rend, to love and yet rage
to embrace a man so wholly is like
the dawning of a new age

Rather than empower and embrace this feminine beast
they cage us, demoralize us to sit back and feast
on our impotent desire, our unchecked ire
never realizing that this chain is only as strong as the weakest link

One forged in indelible ink
as we write and express our sensuality
bringing forth for all to see our feminine duality
there’s nothing more powerful, it’s true
than the sensual, strong-willed, and sexual
female inside of you


Two lives
yet only one whole
one only destroys,
while the other
saves my soul

I am White Light

I am white light
everything and nothing
all colors of the spectrum
in varying degrees

I am white light
prismatic and scintillating
dark and burning
in all manner of ways

I am white light
all colors of the eye
all facets of my particular “I”
distinct only in reflection

I am white light
everything resides in me
the harshest cruelty
the deepest beauty
each struggling to be free

Which will win the day?
Only time can truly say
But, right now, my only foresight
is that I am everything and nothing
I am white light

How Much Longer?

The path to my future
flows through you
Tell me, though,
what do we do?

How much longer
do we dance this dance?

How much longer
do we fight this fight?

How much longer
do we spin our wheels?

I’m honestly not seeing
how this heals
rifts of pain,
rivers of blame,
mountains of ire, and
valleys of shame

I don’t know about you
but I’ve got some living to do
join me too…

Broken Glass

My life shattered
like the thinnest glass

Shards of pain
fall upon my skin
like drops of rain

It steals my breath
hope is lost
each moment a walking death

An empty shell
consumed and spit out
back to this same hell

Rage is born
flowering slowly
as my humanity is shorn

Until I exist no more
care no more
feel no more
dream no more
live no more
lying in a bed
of broken glass

I Tried

I tried to find something bright to say
but all the words faded to grey

I tried to find the heart to believe
but the pain gives me no reprieve

I tried to find something healing to do
by got nothing but rejection from you

I tried to find peace of mind
but flounder about deaf and blind

I tried to find a path to life
instead I remain surrounded by strife

I tried until hope died
Now, I’ve nothing left


I’ve come undone
There’s nowhere left to run

I’m profoundly unsure
my edges blur

My colors bleed
I don’t know what I need

What to do
How to be
or where to go

I don’t even know
what it is I used to know


A new peace
steals through my veins
cleansing my shame like spring rain

A new hope
clings to my skin
ushering this new day in

A new joy
bursts free
as I finally believe I love me
and maybe, I will yet find serenity

Fade to Black

If these ethereal words
were to disappear
would I cease to exist?

If my thoughts
remained undisclosed
how would I subsist?

If my heart
no longer bled in zeros and ones
would I lose it forever?

How do I sever
this connection between
ether and substance
and remain whole?

For these words are
where I play
where I live
where I flay
my soul

But I no longer feel real
I feel just a creation of binary code
insubstantial, blurred, inchoate
neither on nor off in my technological abode

I exist in a chrysalis
waiting for some metamorphosis
that remains ever outside my grasp
Desire and want my personal asp

Soon I feel that I’ll fade to black
lose myself completely
and never come back

Today I Cried

Today I cried
as I wrote my past’s tale

Today I cried
as I felt its lash however pale

Today I cried
as all my scars throbbed

Today I cried
for all the time robbed

Today I cried
as I saw my ending

Today I cried
from a soul still rending

Today I cried
and did not know
which direction I’ve left to go

Honor Thy Father

I want to honor Father’s day
I really do
but, I find myself thinking only of you

The man who sired me
then left me to own devices
oblivious to the multitude of vices
I cultivated and embraced
thinking my pain would be erased

The man who disowned me
and took with him my truth
left my family to believe it was me so uncouth
as to care more for money than how you
wrecked my youth

I wanted this day
to honor those fathers that play
an intrinsic role in the lives of their children
but I find those words hidden

Instead, I find
it’s you in my mind

The man who abandoned me
the man who belittled me
the man who threw me away

I wish, more than anything,
I didn’t have this to say
I love you deeply
even to this day

Rest in peace,
I forgive you


Tell me it will get better, because I want to quit
Everything is falling apart
Never did I think I would feel so broken and lost
All day every day, I struggle to remember it will get better
Cause life is ever changing
I do my best to remember that I have everything I need
To find my strength and keep putting one foot in front of the other
You won’t stop me no matter how bad it hurts.

Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Box closed on hope
every day we now hang
with our own rope

Aftermath …

Three days after I wrote “Pandora’s Box,” I fled my relationship; a phrase that does nothing to capture the terror of my actual escape. It began as a typical day, tiptoeing my way through getting ready for work, securing his permission to leave the house, and then returning for lunch as I was required to do.

How the argument began, I no longer remember. It didn’t take much to set him off. It could have been nothing more than not responding immediately when he spoke to me. What I do remember is falling to the floor and looking up at a man I no longer recognized as he stood over me with my laptop in his hands poised to beat me with it. I pled with him even as I raged internally, wanting to snatch that computer and shatter it. The very thing that had been my lifeline for over a year was about to become the implement of my death.

I don’t remember anything I said as he stood over me. I only remember searching his eyes with a purity of focus I’ve only experienced one other time, certain I’d know the moment he decided to kill me. I remember my daughter sitting on the sofa watching with detachment, this was not a new scene for her. I remember my dogs cowering nearby, but not attacking as they’d already learned the hard way what happened when they protected me.

Memories of my daughter flowed through my mind as I lay unmoving, not even an arm up to protect myself because any defensive action on my part only enraged him further and made the beatings worse. I saw her at six months old, her tiny hand resting on my cheek as she napped. Three years old, hugging me and telling me not to cry even as her father told her I wasn’t worth her affection. Eight years old, telling me she’d always forgive me. Ten years old, crying as her father told her how I was a piece of garbage not worthy of being her mother. She rose up from where she lay in his arms and screamed at me that I was a demon, the drops of her spittle raining on my cheek even as my tears erased them. Eleven years old, just a few weeks prior, telling me she’d put in a bullet in my head if she could get away with it; her voice flat and even, her gaze never wavering as she spoke these words. I thought of his threats to kill my dogs if I didn’t get in line. I thought of what it would mean for me to leave and take my daughter with me. I thought of what it would mean to leave my dogs behind.


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Deconstructed: A Poetic Journey Through Abuse to Discovery

  • ISBN: 9781311560643
  • Author: D.A.B. Press
  • Published: 2016-06-07 09:05:20
  • Words: 10079
Deconstructed: A Poetic Journey Through Abuse to Discovery Deconstructed: A Poetic Journey Through Abuse to Discovery