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playing with fire – a poem

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  • #155864
    Joe
    Participant

    never free
    from the souls of those
    long past
    from another place,
    another time.
    even in my domain
    they dwell
    as ghosts.
    facsimilies,
    simulacras,
    fabrications of the past.
    appearing as they did back then,
    as cruel as they were back then,
    soulless stares
    and evil laughter.
    in the real world,
    they are the lucky ones.
    they moved on,
    they probably forgot
    and they think nothing
    of their evil laughter,
    cruel words,
    filthy venomous words
    spat out like acid reflux.
    malicious intent
    disguised
    as a harmless joke.
    mesmerising everybody
    under your spell
    to do your bidding
    so you don’t have to.
    which one of us
    is the ghost?
    is it you,
    back from the dead
    here to stick the knife in
    once more?
    or is it i
    still here
    while you are in the land of the living?
    if only you knew,
    then again,
    sometimes i think to myself,
    if only i knew.
    they say
    time changes everything,
    they say
    a tiger never changes its stripes,
    but i’m no ordinary tiger.
    i’m one
    that shed its skin
    countless times,
    hit
    hunted
    poached
    scorched
    burned
    poisoned
    countless times.
    you’re nothing.
    you’re weak,
    you’re cowardly,
    only able to speak
    through your ventriloquist’s dummies,
    unable to speak your truth,
    you cloak it with all
    your silly little illusions.
    you think
    you’re elevated
    but you never were,
    it only appeared that way
    when you cut everybody down.
    i was trapped
    frozen
    and silenced
    in your prison.
    stone cold
    without a spark
    to call my own.
    times have changed,
    you are ice
    but i am flame,
    i am fire
    and fire cannot be contained.
    fire melts ice.
    fire burns and destroys,
    burning all your wicked
    little illusions away.
    without ambiguity,
    fire is pure,
    fire purifies,
    fire cleanses,
    fire illuminates,
    fire destroys,
    fire melts,
    fire drives away the evil spirits
    and you don’t stand a chance.
    come to me in the spirit
    if you must,
    where time and space are illusions
    but you best pray
    that you don’t come to me
    in the flesh.
    clearly
    nobody warned you
    that
    if you play with fire
    you’re going to get burned.
    and you picked
    the wrong person
    to play with.

    #155866
    Mark
    Participant

    Hey Joe,

    This is a really cool poem. It’s deep and inspirational. We can be stronger than our pasts. You should try to publish it.

    #155868
    Joe
    Participant

    Mark

    Thankyou, that means a lot! I haven’t really been writing as much as I’d like but I’m just feeling super inspired all of a sudden to write.

    Joe

    #155910
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    What a powerful poem, thank you for sharing it!

    I like the structure of your poem, short lines. It brings these thoughts and feelings about my life experience:

    “never free from souls of those long last… they dwell as ghosts… as cruel as they were back then..”- the abusers of my past, particularly my mother. “They moved on”- abusers move on because abusing relieves one of distress (the payoff). The abused don’t move on from acts of abuse because being abused causes distress (opposite to abusers’ payoff).

    “they probably forgot and they think nothing of their evil laughter, cruel words, filthy venomous words spat out like acid reflux. malicious intent disguised as a harmless joke”- this makes me want to call out: people everywhere, please think before you talk, think of the consequences to the one hearing what you say. Think before you act disrespectfully toward another, dismissively. Think and care to not do it. Please!

    “is it you, back from the dead here to stick the knife in once more? or is it i still here while you are in the land of the living?”- the abusers are alive in our brain, their words, facial expressions, acts, all recorded in our brain, playing back, alive and present.

    “i’m no ordinary tiger. i’m one that shed its skin countless times, hit hunted poached scorched burned poisoned countless times.”- victims of abuse (and there are so many of us) do suffer a whole lot, surviving.

    “you’re nothing. you’re weak, you’re cowardly….unable to speak your truth”- it takes strength to see the truth, and once you see it, to not run away, but instead to keep looking, keep seeing more and more of the truth. If an abuser saw the truth of his/ her abuse of another, it would be painful and so, undesirable. And so, they deny, minimize, blame others, and so on.

    “i was trapped frozen and silenced in your prison. stone cold without a spark to call my own”- this is what being abused does, freezes the victim (literally, as in the Fight-Flight-Freeze response to trauma), imprisons the victim, deadening the victim so we lose that spark of life, that excitement about the moment, the day, the life in and all around us.

    “times have changed, you are ice but i am flame”- the spark is not dead. As long as there is life, that spark, however weak, however discouraged, is still there.

    “fire melts ice”- the fire of the abused never melts the ice of the abuser. The ice of the abuser unfortunately minimizes that fire, that spark until it is almost all gone.

    “fire is pure, fire purifies, fire cleanses, fire illuminates”- We need that fire to be alive. I was always scared of fire, the fire inside, that is, became scared of any strong emotions. I hardly felt joy.

    “come to me in the spirit if you must… but you best pray that you don’t come to me in the flesh. clearly nobody warned you that if you play with fire you’re going to get burned. and you picked the wrong person to play with”- the anger of the abused, that is fire.

    Again, thank you. I hope you post more poems in the future, anytime, and/or your thoughts and feelings in other forms.

    anita

     

    #155926
    Joe
    Participant

    @Anita

    Thankyou for your reply! I always enjoy reading your interpretations of my writing. The poem is about a dream I had a few nights ago about somebody from school who was the absolute pits – it was like nothing had changed, he was still cruel and vulgar as he was back then. I haven’t saw him since I left school, but the dream just brought back all the feelings of bitterness, hatred and how his sick vulgar jokes destroyed my confidence back then. I don’t know why I randomly had that dream because things have been uneventful for me lately, but it kind of makes me wonder what he is like as a person now – is he still as horrible as he was back then or has he changed? I doubt he has – I don’t need to seek closure about this because I don’t see this person anymore and I’m under no obligation whatsoever to see him, but I’ve thought about how I’m not willing to play the victim anymore. When I wrote about “come to me in the spirit if you must…” – that meant him randomly popping up in my dreams, but if we were to randomly bump into each other in real life, I wouldn’t be willing to put up with his crap anymore, and boy would he get roasted.

     

    I don’t turn the other cheek anymore, and I don’t “just ignore them because they will get bored”.

    I’m not the kind of person who will actively seek out retribution but I just harbor strong vengeful feelings towards certain people, and that features a lot in my poetry. Religion and spirituality teach us that revenge is wrong, harboring grudges is bad – I’ve tried forgiveness but the feelings just resurface. I’m not going to ignore vengeful thoughts or deny them, but I’m not going to act upon them either. For me, confrontation about their behavior and brutal honesty towards a wrongdoer is my revenge.

    The shock they must feel when they underestimate me, thinking I’m just another spineless doormat when I’m not. Sometimes I let them try, I don’t immediately react to their insults or abuse but I’m waiting for the right moment. They walked right into a trap and if they don’t back off, boy they are going to get it…

    I know this is painting me in a really vindictive negative light but I’m just being honest about how I feel towards people who think they can have a go. I’m not scared anymore.

    Have you ever read Stephen King’s “Carrie” or watched the film starring Sissy Spacek?

    Joe

    #155936
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    You are welcome. Reading your writings and communicating with you is always a pleasure.

    A powerful movie, Carrie. Revenge by telekinetic powers. The Prom, her good night, almost. Her new beginning, almost. Instead, she is drenched in pig blood, an intentional reminder of her traumatic locker room incident.

    Revenge is righting a wrong by going outside of the law, a form of justice; it is exercising power to hurt back. Mostly, I see it as exercising power. One becomes a victim because of lack of power, be it at the hands of a parent, powerful in size or by the role itself. Be it a child like Carrie, already harmed and weakened by her mother, making her more likely to be bullied in school. Exercising power successfully is the intoxicating pleasure of imagining revenge.

    I understand the school bully showing up in your dream caused you to write this poem. It is the accumulated injury by family members and peers in school and people elsewhere that builds that fire inside, the fire of anger and the desire to take revenge.

    Can you give me an example of how you use brutal honesty as a form of revenge and how it has been working for you?

    anita

     

    #155938
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    Back when I was working last winter, I had this really obnoxious coworker who was old enough to be my dad. He must have latched on to me because I was different from the other warehouse workers – he made snide comments about how I was quiet most of the time (because I was there to do a job, not make small talk – duh), he was constantly making passive aggressive “jokes” to me, undermining everything I was doing when he wasn’t behaving the same way to anybody else and I saw a lot of the same behaviour in him from the person I dreamt about. On one occasion he asked me what football team I support, to which I replied: “I hate football.” He started being really obnoxious, saying “Really?!? You don’t like football?!? What do you like, cooking?” He was obviously one of those prehistoric imbeciles who was somehow implying that because I don’t like sports, I’m not “masculine” enough. He just kept on with his passive aggressive criticisms and I got so sick of his behavior I snapped, and I demanded to know what his problem was in front of everybody, and that he had been nitpicking at everything I was doing. He blatantly denied everything and that I had an attitude problem. He stayed away from me after that incident which was the desired effect. On a plus side, I have an attitude problem! Damn right!

    Another time before Christmas, I was meeting up with an old friend for a night out, and I was looking forward to it. There was another friend of hers but I took an instant dislike to him because he was loud, cocky and extremely vulgar. He admitted that he liked to partake in cocaine and he was already halfway through a bottle of vodka so my initial reaction was that I needed to stay away from him and not leave my drinks anywhere near him. Sadly, he kept drawing attention to me, more cliched comments on how “I am too quiet and I need to cheer up, bla bla bla…” We are on the way to the nightclub, and I am cracking – I keep telling myself, “Anymore of his stupidity and I am going to explode…” He came up to me from behind and thought it was funny to grab me from behind. I DO NOT LIKE BEING TOUCHED INAPPROPRIATELY BY ANYBODY. I don’t do it to other people because I respect boundaries, and I expect to be treated with the same courtesy. He thought I would be in on the joke, he tried putting his arm around me in a jokey friendly manner and telling me to cheer up. I went absolutely ballistic, shaking him off and I literally roared in his face “DON’T F*****G TOUCH ME!!!!” He looked absolutely horrified, as did everybody. Instead of apologising, he told me to chill out. That just made me even angrier and I was just shouting and warning him away. Again, he avoided me all evening and it did the trick because I despise people like that.

    These are some of my brutal honesty revenges, Anita. They always come across as being more vicious and aggressive than I intend, and I can make things extremely awkward for everybody present. But in some twisted kind of way, I enjoy it and I find it extremely satisfying. Knowing that I stick up for myself now and I’m not prepared to be a wallflower. That doesn’t mean I should become a bully and constantly harass people because that’s not okay. Some people, I just need to be really sharp with them so that they stay away. When they don’t come near me anymore, job done.

    I was obsessed with “Carrie” during my last year at school, and the year after I left. I just really loved the idea of getting even and using my mind to enact some kind of extreme vengeance on people who had hurt me, or using telekinesis to repel people. I have a sharp temper when people I don’t even know push my buttons, and I realise that because I don’t immediately respond to their crap, they think they’ve got me cornered and they don’t expect me to stand up for myself or retaliate. When I do, it’s shock horror and that is what repels them away.

    Nothing major is happening in my life at the moment – well it kind of is, I’m going back to university in September to do my masters. I’m really happy at the moment and I’m looking forward to going back to study. That dream just hit a nerve and irritated me. There’s just something really pleasuring and almost sadomasochistic about itching a scab until it falls off and bleeds. Sometimes it just feels really good to hate people. Some psychologists suggest that people who don’t have vengeful thoughts could be psychopaths.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by Joe.
    #155950
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    I enjoyed reading your two examples and I think they are very appropriate, not at all vicious. I imagined the scenes as I read, and I am smiling now, I do like your brutal honesty, and it did bring you the result you needed. Excellent!

    Those two people, in your examples, letting a person be is just not their thing, is it? I personally like quiet people and I am quiet myself.

    Masters in September, how exciting! Will you masters be in art? I still remember your drawings of people’s faces. I thought at the time that they appeared waiting. I now see them having those “soulless stares”, maybe “stone cold without a spark.” Those faces are memorable in my mind, after all this time, I remember them quite clearly.

    I hope you keep standing up for yourself with your brutal honesty type of revenge- I like it!

    anita

     

    #155962
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    I hope to be specialising in either graphic design or design for advertising – that’s the kind of thing I want to go for now. I really want to go into editorial illustration, package design, that kind of thing. The fantasy/surreal kind of stuff is fun but I’m just focusing on simple food illustrations at the moment – drawing and painting as many foods as possible and creating as many different variations as I can. I’ve produced hundreds of these illustrations so I’ve made lots of content over the past month or so, I just need to get it out there. Not really deep or meaningful, just pure aesthetic but it’s fun! I’m hoping to put together some teacher resources over the summer (i.e classroom posters, clipart) to start selling on a site called teacherspayteachers. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

    You’re right, some people just won’t let people be. Ugh, they seriously expect everybody else to seek their approval on everything? So entitled…

    Joe

    #155970
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    Regarding your last two lines, people who just wont let other people be. I went back to your post before last, regarding the older co worker, “he made snide comments about how I was quiet most of the time” and then attacking you with his aggressive: “Really?!? You don’t like football?!? What do you like, cooking?’”

    What motivated him, I am wondering. We hear what people say, not what the voices in their heads before they say what they say. It could be that when you said you hate football, he heard the voice of a wife or an ex wife criticizing him for watching too much soccer and he lashed out at that voice/ you.

    Not liking you being quiet, a possibility is that, using a wife or an ex wife example as nothing but a possibility, she gives him the “silent treatments” when she is angry, builds up her anger and finally explodes. So when a person is quieter than most, his distress builds up.

    This dynamic- whatever the true details of his life- is behind a lot of aggressive behavior in people, the reason why they don’t let other people be.

    Regarding the friend of a friend during the night out, he kept remarking that you are”too quiet and I need to cheer up, bla bla bla…” May very well be that because you were quieter than most, he was hearing a voice in his head criticizing him for drinking too much and doing cocaine. The voice being triggered because of previous experiences of people being quiet when angry.

    I am elaborating on these because it may be helpful to better understand people’s motivations, not so to tolerate their aggression (no, no, no!), but because the more understanding people’s motivation, the more wisdom, and the better we function in life, for our best interest.

    Graphic design reads fitting to your inclination and talent. Wikipedia has a long entry on “graphic design” – fascinating.

    anita

    #156218
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    As you may have gathered from all of my posts here on TinyBuddha, I do have a strong inclination to perceive things in extreme black and white terms. There is no grey area in between as far as I’m concerned, people are either nice people or they are arseholes. Yes, maybe that is why the coworker behaved the way he did. Yes, those are his attitudes and beliefs regarding masculinity and liking sports. Yes, there is a strong generation gap and a strong contrast in beliefs and attitudes. While I strongly disagree with his views because I found that comment really insulting and blatantly sexist, he is still entitled to that opinion. I don’t regard myself as being “a normal blokey bloke”. I don’t do “normal bloke” things like watching football or playing sports or going nightclubbing. The other coworkers had those kinds of interests, but they didn’t seem to have a problem that I prefer reading, painting, that I used to have green hair or that I’m a volunteer librarian.

    The other co-workers did invite me out to go for beer with them – it made me feel nervous about going because I had nothing in common with them and I kept wondering if they were just going to be like the person in my dream. For the first time in 7 years or so I felt like Carrie again, nervous that “they’re all gonna laugh at you”. The plans fell through in the end so we didn’t go but I just kept thinking “What if they just told me the whole thing was off and then just decided to sneak and go out without me because they really don’t like me?”

    I’m strongly inclined to stick up for myself. I don’t suffer fools anymore. It’s a strong reaction from all the self-reflection over the past two years of me posting on this forum. Learning a lot about self-respect. Unlearning a lot of what I was taught about “just ignoring it”, being polite to everybody and putting myself last. Some people you just can’t win with logic or politeness, they will just persist with their passive aggressiveness until you have to be brutally honest with them and tell them to back off. I’m under no obligation to please everybody and I am not responsible to how they react, but I know that if I take a dislike to a person, I don’t want to know that person and I need to make them stay away from me. The brutal honesty approach may make things extremely awkward and uncomfortable for those present but it works, I have to go for the shock factor sometimes.

    Joe

     

    #156222
    Dawn R
    Participant

    Thanks for sharing your poem.  I’m sure it speaks to many people who have been mistreated in some way or another.  It’s wonderful to find and share your voice.  Keep doing it!

    Dawn

    #156322
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    You wrote: “I do have a strong inclination to perceive things in extreme black and white terms.”- this is the right/ effective way to perceive things for the purpose of protecting oneself from danger. If an animal in the wild, a person in an aggressive environment, ponders the possibilities of the colors in between the white (All) or black (None) of a situation, the animal will  likely end up dead. See a predator? Better run away and quickly! See an intruder? Better fight, and quickly!

    It is when we are in a safe situation, not under attack or under the likelihood of an attack, that we can entertain the colors and be wiser for it.

    You wrote about the ex co-worker: “While I strongly disagree with his views because I found that comment really insulting and blatantly sexist, he is still entitled to that opinion”- he is entitled to all his thoughts and feelings. He is not entitled to express them anytime and any way he wishes! Not when it is hurtful to another to do so, no benefit, only harm (as was the case with you).

    You wrote regarding the other ex co workers: “I just kept thinking ‘What if they just told me the whole thing was off and then just decided to sneak and go out without me because they really don’t like me?’”- notice how no matter how we may dislike others, their values, likes, dislikes, we still need to be liked. It is ingrained in us, as human animals, the need t be liked. By anyone, anywhere. I accept this about myself and am attentive so to not compromise my authenticity, honesty.. my worth in my own mind, so to be liked.

    You wrote: “I’m strongly inclined to stick up for myself… Unlearning a lot of what I was taught about ‘just ignoring it’, being polite to everybody and putting myself last. Some people you just can’t win with logic or politeness…  you have to be brutally honest with them and tell them to back off.”-

    It pleases me so much to read this, thank you for sharing this last paragraph- it is making my day!

    anita

     

    #156810
    Joe
    Participant

    Storybook Villains; A Poem

    frozen in time
    frozen in mind
    life goes on
    but i’m so behind
    neither living
    neiter dead
    yet sat here
    waiting for both of those things
    waiting
    in the waiting room
    waiting
    as i watch
    the princes and princesses
    get called up
    when am i
    going to get called up
    just a witness
    to everybody elses
    happy ever afters
    without one
    to call my own
    they assume
    without ambiguity
    that everybody should be
    but not everybody
    is the stuff
    that dreams are made of
    trolls
    ogres
    dragons
    witches
    crones
    dark lords
    vile creatures
    villains
    we’re a misunderstood bunch
    and we won’t get
    our day in court
    cruel
    bitter
    twisted
    because the princes and princesses
    made us that way
    the princes and princesses
    the beautiful people
    shiny happy people
    really aren’t the fairest of them all
    it’s not enough
    to be pure in spirit
    and have the noblest of intentions
    everything we touch
    we poison
    destroy
    disintegrate
    annhilate
    until nothing
    but ash remains
    we won’t be happy
    until we burn it all
    we won’t be happy
    until we burn it all

    #156846
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    Another treat for me!

    “frozen in time, frozen in mind * life goes on but i’m so behind * neither living * neiter  dead”- beautiful! I can hear this poetry in a song, flowing so well.

    “yet sat here *  waiting for both of those things *  waiting in the waiting room waiting”- again those faces you drew come to my mind, waiting.

    “the princes and princesses *  the beautiful people *  shiny happy people * really aren’t the fairest of them… everything we touch *  we poison * destroy * disintegrate * annihilate * until nothing but ash remains”-

    True to reality, so much so, it is the naked truth, bare, painful to see: people do harm others, people do destroy others in all kinds of ways. Often enough, nothing but ash remains- literally so, and often enough, unfortunately, our spirits turns into ashes, hurt for a long, long time, sometimes for a lifetime.

    But in your case, Joe, it is not true, if I may say so. More than ash remains of you- the person able to write such a beautiful, bare-reality, core poem is way more than ashes.

    Thank you for sharing one more of your amazing poems!

    anita

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