playing with fire – a poem

HomeForumsShare Your Truthplaying with fire – a poem

New Reply
Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 35 total)
  • Author
  • #156898


    Writing that stream of consciousness poem reminded me of a book I read when I was 18 – “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter. I had to study it in my English Lit class and I loved it – the writer took fairy tales but subverted the roles and twisted them. I wonder if you have ever read it?

    What if the protagonists of fairy tales and well-known children’s stories were the villains instead and we were wrong about them all along?



    Dear Joe:

    No, I didn’t read The Bloody Chamber, not that I remember. I just read the story summary of the first story in the anthology of ten stories, The Bloody Chamber (Wikipedia), a horror story, reads to me.

    You wrote: “What if the protagonists of fairy tales and well-known children’s stories were the villains…”

    I am thinking, the public image of a lot of people in real life, past people we read about in history, present people nowadays, in business, entertainment, politics, in families and in the neighborhood, lots of people have reputations or public images that are not congruent with who they really are.

    The Marketing business is about selling reputations, or perceptions of people, with no concern to the truthfulness of what they present to the public.




    I’m having fun getting back into writing these again. Part of me wants to dig up all the notebooks I’ve kept over the past 4 years possibly to share online but another part of me wants to have another one of my bonfire “cleansing rituals” and burn them. It all seems raw at the time but when I look back at it, it’s like it was written by a different person or it just brings up all the bad feelings from that time.

    This one is called The Experiment.

    nobody can ever know
    what went into this
    so mad
    so arrogant
    to assume
    that we can create life
    in our own image
    control life
    playing god
    and creating monsters
    and it’s funny
    how it always ends up
    being a freak
    being an abomination
    when they get it all from you
    of everybody elses worst parts
    a walking contradiction of sorts
    you’re not human
    you’re grotesque
    you’re hellspawn
    you’re unholy
    you’re ungodly
    it’s always it
    and not them
    they stapled it together
    but they don’t want
    to accept responsibility
    it’s all on it
    and not on them
    they created the monster
    they thought
    they could control life
    you don’t control a monster
    a mutant
    an entirely alien life form
    spiraling out of control
    on a roaring rampage


    Dear Joe:

    The Experiment:

    “…so mad * so arrogant * to assume * that we can create life * in our own image”- parents expecting that, I am thinking.
    “control life * playing god * and creating monsters”- powerful! True and powerful. You encountered man of those monsters throughout your life, well described in your other poems.

    “…byproducts * of everybody elses worst parts”- parents who kill aspects of their children, leaving he worst parts to guide the child, unmitigated by the harmed good parts.

    “you’re not human * you’re grotesque* …you’re ungodly”- ungodly children, ungodly adult children, fitting the parents playing god, a previous line in your poem.

    “but they don’t want * to accept responsibility”- and that delays and often eliminates altogether the likelihood of the adult child healing from what the parent did.

    “…they could control life * but * you don’t control a monster * … spiraling out of control * on a roaring rampage”- makes me think of the roaring rampage of Carrie in the movie!

    Very powerful poem, Joe. Very powerful- I hope you don’t get rid of this one, or your other poems, in a cleaning ritual, as you called it. My goodness, this poem is so powerful! Glad you shared it here!




    The Experiment was inspired by another book I had to read back in English Lit class, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This was more about societal expectations and just expectations in general, represented by the different body parts being assembled and stitched together. A bricolage of different contrasting information and rules. They say one thing but do another, or then do a complete u-turn and then say the complete opposite thing.

    I always enjoy reading your interpretations, Anita.

    Ode To The Beautiful Shiny Happy People

    a haze of neon signs
    passing headlights
    blaring dance music
    vapid soulless mechanical
    overpowered car exhausts
    from cars
    driven by fowl-mouthed
    boy racers
    the smell
    of fried takeaway food
    police and ambulance sirens
    cigarette smoke
    boys and girls of the night
    the beautiful
    shiny happy people
    party animals
    they don’t come out
    until the sun has gone down
    the living dead
    with no souls of their own
    to claim another soul
    to own another soul
    to take it’s place
    reeking of Paco Rabanne
    reeking of bloodlust
    slicked back hair
    bloodshot eyes
    their gaunt looking face
    like a diseased human rat
    they have no honour
    they have no respect
    they puff
    on vaping machines
    like they are human nuclear power stations
    they don’t even have to try
    pitted against
    the other dogs
    they bark
    they bite
    the girls, they see
    they sniff out
    they treat their girls
    like pedigree chum
    like dog food
    the girls
    atomic peroxide
    heavy make-up
    vodka smiles
    the boys and girls
    always in competition
    to see who can be
    the loudest
    the funniest
    the biggest
    the craziest
    larging it
    they only live at night
    their life
    is a neon-covered fantasy
    with artificial lights
    their life
    is one massive rave
    one massive party
    pulsating strobe lights
    pulsating plastic party tunes
    for pulsating plastic party people
    life is a huge party
    where they assemble
    where they feast
    on chemical liquids
    where they sneak
    forbidden candy
    when nobody is looking
    and then vomit it all back out
    in a grimy toilet cubicle
    let’s see
    how many likes
    we can get on this photo
    which looks
    like all of the photos
    we have ever taken
    sunlight beckons
    they stagger back to whence they came
    sore bleeding eyes
    the living dead
    cower away
    from the sunlight
    too wasted
    too medicated
    too diseased
    to care



    Dear Joe:

    Your poem, The Experiment, was inspired by Mary Shelley’s famous Frankenstein. Your poem is a work of art. Once you share it, as you did, without commentary regarding what inspired you and what you meant, once you exhibit your art, the reader makes it his/ her own, as I have made it in my last post to you. Your poems are indeed, works of art.

    Ode To The Beautiful Shiny Happy People

    “a haze of neon signs * passing headlights * blaring dance music… * overpowered car exhausts…… the smell * of fried takeaway food * vomit * alcopops”- I can see it, hear it, smell it.

    “…boys and girls of the night * swaggery * sneery *…slicked back hair * bloodshot eyes *….the girls * atomic peroxide * heavy make-up * vodka smiles *”- powerful images, multi-sensory descriptions.

    This is another powerful poem. It describes so vividly the party life experience in a very unattractive way, repulsive, really, to the eyes, the ears, the nose. One can even taste the vodka, the vomit. You describe the unhealthy party lifestyle in no uncertain terms: it is diseased: fast food (fried takeaway food), alcohol (alcopops, vodka, chemical liquids), drugs (forbidden candy), lack of sleep (bloodshot eyes).

    There is no quality human interaction, only competition (who is the loudest, funniest biggest, craziest). Life is “a neon-covered fantasy”- and so very unattractive.

    Excellent poem, I say. Would be a great poem to teach in early high school, just before young people consider this lifestyle.



    More delightfully dark and twisted stream of consciousness stuff because I love delightfully dark and twisted! It just flows out and the more I write, the more ideas I get and the more inspired I become. I’d really love to do something which involves more writing and more wordplay but combining with artwork as well…

    Truth Spits In Your Face

    Some people
    They have everything
    In their own minds
    They are royalty
    Spoiled little princes and princesses
    Who deserve all the good in this world
    In their minds
    They are perfection
    They are the shiny happy people
    They are the lucky ones
    Boy do they like to show it
    With their gold
    With their achievements
    With their careers
    Their beautifully expensive clothes
    A living walking breathing photocopy
    Of a trendy fashion catalogue
    They show and tell their lives
    Through their smartphones
    Through bloodless plastic shark smiles
    The lucky ones are happy and healthy
    They are pure as the snow
    Free of corruption and sin
    God loves them but nobody else
    They aren’t affected
    They aren’t afflicted
    With inner disease
    Why would they
    When there is nothing beneath the surface
    They are not human
    So they wouldn’t understand
    The affliction
    Underneath their human disguise
    They are snakes made from plastic
    You and I
    And everybody else
    We’re beneath them
    We’re below them
    Because we don’t have it all
    We don’t have a hope in hell
    Know your place
    Because they spit in the faces
    Of everybody
    Having to clean up after them
    At the first sign of weakness

    But just remember,
    Your towering ladder
    Your stepping stones into the sky
    Nobody reaches the top
    Nobody gets to heaven
    It’s a risky business
    When you are so high up
    Because it’s a long fall
    And a long way down.
    Is ever going to bring you to the top
    You will never find your storybook ending
    Your happily ever after
    And you
    Are not untouchable.

    They will swarm in their mob
    And spread disease about you
    All over the streets
    After shooting and stabbing you in the back
    After tearing you to shreds
    Like rabid wolves
    Just for not being like them
    They will come for you
    To crucify you
    To nail you to their dartboard
    We are freaks
    Who deserve to be locked up
    And burned at the stake
    They hold the power
    When they point the finger
    Drive them away
    Drive them out of the town
    But there’s nowhere to go
    Nowhere to escape
    There’s no magic beanstalk
    To take me away
    There’s no giant peach
    There’s no Hogwarts Express
    There’s no alien space ship

    Through their lies
    Their wholesome image
    Of how they are such nice people
    They cast doubt
    All this time
    I’m having imaginary conversations with them
    Pretending that they are human
    Pretending that they are friends
    Pretending that they are the good guys
    It’s easy to see things for what they really are
    When you step back from the bigger picture
    It’s been a whole year
    Since we last spoke
    If you could call it that
    Because apparently
    I’m not allowed to speak
    Unless through a self-elected spokesperson
    And even then
    They decide what should be spoken
    I’ll be back to get you
    Some nice sunny day
    And you will wish
    You never crossed my path at all

    I smirk and sneer
    And spit
    At the faces of those fools
    Who think they have it all
    My captors
    My oppressors
    They underestimate me
    They thought
    I was a puppet
    So rigid, easily controllable
    But my nose will always stay the same
    Because I only speak the truth
    I’m not your ventriloquist dummy
    You don’t get to speak for me
    Decide for me
    Control me
    I cut the puppet strings a long time ago
    Words speak truth
    There is purity in fire
    Burning away all their sin
    They burn up
    When you reflect the mirror right back into their faces
    An uncontrollable vessel
    They say never to open Pandoras box
    For it contains all the sin
    All the disease
    All the misfortune
    But it also contains truth
    And we can’t have that in the world, can we?
    Because if truth were to exist
    They would have to be held accountable
    For their crimes
    Wicked deeds
    It must be awful
    For the self-righteous
    When they realise
    They aren’t at all innocent
    Because sinners can always repent
    Can’t they?

    They look in horror
    And shock
    As I walk over to their weak frail bodies
    Lying on the floor
    Caught in my trap
    Like fruit flies and other worthless insects
    In a spiders web
    You can have all your poison back
    You can have all my poison
    My shame
    You thought
    I was just some worthless docile little boy
    Without a mind to call his own
    Didn’t see that coming, did you?
    Too stunned
    To even utter a word
    They squirm
    They deny
    Even in their last breath
    They are the innocent ones
    No? If that’s all you’ve got
    Then you can
    Go To Hell

    I guess I’m worried that I’m painting myself in a really negative light here on the forums by writing all this really bitter twisted vengeful stuff but it’s really cathartic and I’m in my element when I can just pour out without worrying about all the ensuing ugliness.


    Dear Joe:

    You are welcome to write “all this bitter twisted vengeful stuff” because it is really cathartic for you and you are in your element when you just pour out without worrying about how your writing will be perceived. So far I did not perceive any “ensuing ugliness” in your writing. Instead I was delighted to read.

    My thoughts on  Truth Spits In Your Face:

    You wrote about people who like to show off “their gold”, achievements, careers, fake smiles, people who present themselves as “pure as the snow,” as god’s favorites,  but, you wrote “there is nothing beneath the surface”, and I like this expression: “Wait/ They are not human/So they wouldn’t understand/The affliction”- I like the way you phrased it.

    You wrote: “We’re beneath them… /Because we don’t have it all”- this is the message in Marketing, fed by people’s beliefs already there and encouraging these beliefs further. The (false) belief is: your worth is equal to what you have, what you possess. But this is not the sum total of this false belief. The complete false belief as I understand it is:

    Your worth is equal to what other people think you are worth. They think that your worth is equal to what you have.

    I like this phrasing: “It’s a risky business/When you are so high up/Because it’s a long fall”- I like it very much. And I like this even more: “You will never find your storybook ending/Your happily ever after”- correct. I agree. I concur. I appreciate your thinking, Joe, and your effective, powerful, creative expression.

    And I understand your anger at people who elevate themselves, in their own minds, by lowering you/ others.

    Interesting, this: “I’m having imaginary conversations with them/…Pretending that they are the good guys”- this makes me think that part of you believe the message about personal worth. Clearly, at the least, you once believed it. Who hasn’t.

    Like other false beliefs, this false belief holds us captive, oppressed. You called the people expressing outwardly this beliefs “My captors/My oppressors”- part of you believes the false belief, is what I am finding so interesting at this part of the poem.

    You wrote: “They thought/I was a puppet/So rigid, easily controllable/…Because I only speak the truth/…You don’t get to speak for me/Decide for me”- this is beautiful, magnificent. You are telling the truth, that what they promote is untrue, what I referred to above as a false belief.

    But their false belief poisoned you, harmed you, and you continue to express your anger. You wrote: “You can have all my poison/ My shame”- the belief, the false belief that you are less worthy than them because you don’t have the things they have.

    I think what you do have is “a mind to call (your) own”, Joe, and there is absolutely nothing more valuable than a mind that is your own.

    What a magnificent experience for me, reading your poem this morning. Thank you Joe, hope to read more from this very valuable mind of yours.




    Interesting, this: “I’m having imaginary conversations with them/…Pretending that they are the good guys”- this makes me think that part of you believe the message about personal worth. Clearly, at the least, you once believed it. Who hasn’t.

    I can’t help but have imaginary conversations with these people, where they finally shut up and listen to what I have to say instead of talking over me. I know for a fact that I want nothing more to do with these people and I’ve been avoiding them like the plague for the past few years but sometimes I just can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we still met up.

    “When truth spits in your face” and this post is an expansion on the post I wrote about wanting the last word with the toxic frenemy; it’s about the same group of people I spent time with but I never really felt part of that group. Originally we were all a massive group until one of the other participants persisted in pressing my buttons so I got into a really ugly confrontation and called him some really colourful four-letter words. Button Pusher, his roommate and my roommate formed their own clique from then on and I got accused by The Frenemy of creating a divide within the group – so it’s my fault that I told Button Pusher to back off because he was making me feel uncomfortable and bombarding me with deeply personal questions? I did ask him politely to stop what he was doing to begin with but he took offense and swore at me, which elevated into an extremely ugly verbal sparring match. Even then, I was the one being told to calm down by the others and not being allowed to explain myself.

    Regarding the false belief that I am unworthy for not having what they have – that’s more like their false belief, not mine. They have nothing that I want. They went out of their way to make me feel unworthy for not having the same things or aspirations as they do. Not wanting the same things they want. As if somehow they expect everybody to have the same things or want the same things.

    “Aren’t you going to the gym” Uh no, do you think I need to go?

    “Aren’t you coming with us to the football match?” Uh no, does it look like I enjoy sports?

    “Aren’t you going to get your haircut?” My hair is okay as it is, thankyou very much.

    “That’s your phone? That’s so old!” Oh yeah, because I’ve always judged a persons worth by what bleedin’ phone they have…

    I ended up with the other half of the group by default but I just felt uncomfortable and suffocated around these people. They were constantly bitching and gossiping about one another, and just constantly whining about everything and they believed that they deserved the best of everything, which just really irritated me. The other members of the group were quite conservative and religious and I never felt like I was able to express my own views or opinions for fear they would react badly, because they acted as though everybody should have the same beliefs and opinions as they did (but I guess it didn’t matter, because according to them I was a devil worshipper because of my appearance and taste in music). I think at that point I firmly decided against organised religion, and that I was agnostic.

    The placement ended 3 years ago and we’ve gone our separate ways – they all seem to be in great graduate-level jobs in law/ICT/whatever and I’ve been mostly unemployed/sometimes freelance/volunteering/warehouse work for an evil bloodthirsty corporation which shall remain nameless/warehouse work for a lesser bloodthirsty parcel delivery company/depressed. They have been trying to organise group reunions and I’ve had to make excuses to get out of going to these reunions because I dread the thought of being asked “So what are you up to? Are you working?” I’ve destroyed my old phone and the simcard so that there is no chance in hell that they will be able to get in touch with me now. I know I said I wanted to have the last word with The Frenemy and I have destroyed his phone number so there is no way I will be able to do that now. I think I do still have his e-mail address. I could send him an e-mail telling him that I’m not happy at all but how is that going to help? He would probably not read it, just dismiss and deny everything and slag me off even more to the group “Joe is an absolute headcase, he has some serious issues, bla bla bla…”


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Joe.

    Dear Joe:

    It would be very difficult for me to be part of a group, like the one you were part of (but not feeling part of…). I don’t like being in a group, really. There is too much sacrifice required from an independent-thinking individual required so to fit in most groups. There is pressure to be like everyone else. The origin of this dynamic is the herd. Or other groupings in social animals. The one who is different is treated mercilessly. Not much difference in humans, is there?

    Dare to be you, Joe, unapologetically. Little chance you can change the group mentality, a mentality that survived and thrived through.. millions of years, perhaps, in nature. As a human being, and the independent, intelligent, creative human that you are, you can live apart of a group and be okay.




    we were never
    going to be the best
    of friends
    polar opposites
    but we’re both
    so stubborn
    so proud
    so set in our ways
    i’m glad
    things are good for you
    i hope
    all your dreams come true
    you have nothing
    that i want
    for you
    to let me off the hook
    not everybody is like you
    not everybody wants the things you do
    i don’t know
    what made you
    so highly strung
    and you
    don’t know
    what made me
    bitter and twisted
    we don’t know
    the entire story
    we only think we know
    but we don’t
    i have
    imaginary conversations with you
    where we can put the world to rights
    put aside our differences
    i wish
    we could talk
    face to face
    no interruptions
    no insults

    you once said
    that there’s more to me
    than i let on
    i’m not willing
    to show you
    i think there’s more to you
    than you let on
    but you divert it all
    when you’re the one
    trying to break in
    it’s funny
    i know nothing about you
    all i have
    is a vague picture
    that i’ve been painting
    you keep telling me
    how to live my life
    but you need to know
    i don’t suffer fools
    i wasn’t born
    to live up to you
    everybody starts off
    with a blank slate
    for anybody kind enough
    to give me the time of day
    you pushed my buttons
    i had to keep from exploding
    for the sake of everybody else
    i gave you the benefit of the doubt

    never said i was perfect
    i’m the first to admit
    you hold us all
    to high standards
    you are quick
    to point the finger
    you are quick
    to discuss my fate
    with your jury
    you’ve had your way
    trapped me
    silenced me
    suffocated me
    stockholm syndrome
    in spite of all this
    a tiny part of me
    wants to believe
    you mean well
    you do it for my own good
    in spite of all this
    a tiny part of me
    wants to believe
    that you’re a person
    just like me
    your own ghosts
    your own demons
    your own wounds
    in spite of all this
    you’re not all that bad
    even if your ugly side
    is louder

    out there
    be monsters
    i’m well aware
    you don’t need to remind me
    because my battles
    are mine alone
    not yours
    for the fighting
    not yours
    for the taking
    in here
    be monsters
    why can’t you see
    that i don’t need you
    to save me from my sins
    why can’t you see
    that i need to learn the hard way
    because if things were easy
    i wouldn’t learn a thing
    ever makes it all go away
    no magic wand
    to erase all the corruption
    you might fool others
    you might fool yourself
    but you don’t fool me

    it’s been a year
    since we last spoke
    your words still ring
    on a vicious repeat loop
    like a vindictive ghost
    all i want
    is freedom
    i can’t even look
    at you anymore
    you’re just another ghost
    in another photograph
    another fowl reminder
    i have to keep you
    at arms length
    i ran away
    avoiding my day in court

    my business
    is with you
    and you alone
    you only want to talk
    with your execution squad
    at your side
    so what say
    we settle the score
    one on one
    face to face
    for old time’s sake
    you bring your pride
    i bring my shame
    you can condemn me
    all you like
    kick me when i’m down
    spit on me
    hate me
    but all that i ask
    is that
    you bloody well listen



    Dear Joe:

    What an amazing poem, thank you for sharing it here.

    My thoughts:

    “you have nothing- that i want- except- for you- to let me off the hook”- it is the hope of a helpless fish caught in a fisherman’s hook, to be let off. It is the only possibility for the fish to live. The very life of the fish is dependent on the fisherman. Nothing the fish can do.

    “a tiny part of me- wants to believe- that you’re a person- just like me-…you’re not all that bad- even if your ugly side- is louder” When we hear that ugly side so loud, better not get close (again) so to hear the little sounds of beauty in underneath the shouts of ugliness.

    “why can’t you see- that i don’t need you- to save me from my sins”- you … shouldn’t need him, but you believe you do, like the fish needs the fisherman to set it free.

    “all i want- is freedom…my business-is with you- and you alone-…but all that i ask- is that
    you bloody well listen” Freedom is what you need and your business is not with that person but with yourself, because unlike the fish, the power is not all with the fisherman.





    I always enjoy reading your thoughts on my poetry/ramblings. Alas, a new development on this saga has occurred;

    Just when I was ready
    To free myself
    Forgive myself
    Forgive you
    Bury the hatchet
    Bury you in ancient history
    By some freak accident
    You phone out of the blue
    Life has a nasty habit
    Of sending me more ghosts from the past
    When I am about to walk away
    I hope
    I worry
    That all the other ugliness
    That all the other nightmares
    Don’t come true
    But I take this
    As a sign from the universe
    We have unfinished business
    And I have a bone to pick with you

    You’re stubborn
    You’re a fool
    You don’t know how to take a hint
    You’re a glutton for punishment
    Just like me
    It’s time you were told
    You caught me off guard
    But I refuse to let you win.

    Been avoiding you like the plague
    But I’m not running away
    Let’s just skip the formalities
    The backhanded insults
    And cut to the chase
    We have a score to settle.
    You best make one last stop
    At the last chance saloon
    We can have a stand off
    In the street
    You can bring your cronies
    But I will bring
    An army of me.

    Lay it all out
    Give me all you’ve got
    Do your worst
    Because I’ve been hit before
    Because I’ve heard it all before
    When are you going
    To get it in your head
    I do not want you anymore
    I do not need you anymore
    You cannot hurt me anymore
    And when are you going
    To get it in your head
    That I never forget?


    Dear Joe:

    I do like all your poems, every one of them. No title to this one, a new one, I am thinking, following the “new development’ you mentioned.

    I like assertiveness, being direct, straightforward, so powerfully stated in your poem:

    “We have unfinished business/ And I have a bone to pick with you/ …Let’s just skip the formalities/
    The backhanded insults/ And cut to the chase/ We have a score to settle.”

    Your last line is that you never forget. Being sent “more ghosts from the past
    When (you are) about to walk away” will not allow you to forget, correct?

    Those “ghosts from the past”- if you wanted to forget, or to move on, how would you stop those ghosts from the past from reappearing in your life, I wonder.




    Those “ghosts from the past”- if you wanted to forget, or to move on, how would you stop those ghosts from the past from reappearing in your life, I wonder.

    Avoiding them like the plague. Deleting all evidence of their existence and all evidence of time spent together. Deleting their contact information so that there is no way for me to ever get in touch with them. I never even gave them my new phone number either. Little did I realise that they still had the house number and this person rung up the other day, just when I was making a conscious effort to move on and focus my attention on other things. I had even stumbled across Mel Robbins on Youtube – and her 5 second rule, and I wanted to start applying that to my life.

    There was backhanded sarcasm between us but mostly the conversation didn’t descend into another verbal sparring match. He had been talking to the other people of the group, “being all nostalgic about the old days, we should have a catch up, bla bla bla….” I think I have mentioned this before but the thought of meeting up with these people used to make me feel sick to the stomach. I was caught off guard by this whole thing and I said I might be up for meeting up – I hate that most of the time I psyche myself out to tell people what I really feel but when the time comes, I just can’t. Part of me does want to go just to put this whole thing behind me but the phonecall has just reopened the wound and made me feel bitter and torn about lots of other things besides this. I just hate the fact that he rang the house phone and that my dad answered (he never asks who is calling, just thrusts the phone into my hand).


Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 35 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Please log in OR register.