Joni Caggiano

Sadness Moans

shooting pain lurches like a stranger in the blackest night
where monsters live releasing their copies, swarming past, out of sight

jealousy walks on rugged stones stealing from the gifted
holding hands of small cactus plants until the desert sands are shifted

behind their peering eyes a Judas runs to throw a stone
whiffs of his betrayal, climbing to the top of the field, I hear his moan

trust a blanket, with a thousand promises, tickling me
deceit, painful rubbing of an alligator’s bony plates, I run to a forest tree

a stranger in this house of horrors, yet I have to live
stealing glances, taking chances, as I taste the bitter love I cannot give

Luna Moth and Her Lover

intense eyes open imaginary shutters
her green wings, the luna moth flutters
she mates once has no mouth, dies, lays eggs in wooded covers

would I give my life for one more night
knowing death would be my one last flight
with you, my darling, keeper, and lover of my heart, I just might

Rumor Damage

rumor is a spineless seed dipped in fertile shadow dirt
that multiplies and causes pain and unexpected hurt

silence, a bed partner that takes but never gives back
as a man tells a buddy how easy he got her in the sack

black spots jump off potatoes and out of a perfect dish
surviving boiling water and a blemish on an ideal wish

misfortune of a hammer that averted a four-inch nail
a hungry man begs for food and becomes a vulgar tail

her legs jump from flower to flower, hoping for a treat
for sleeping alone with her legs and scheming little feet

jealousy and deceit was the cause of their blue demise
scissors cut paper, and true words, well – their end is no surprise

Uncle’s House

memories grow roots that spring up like dandelions on a freshly mowed lawn
hiding among floating clouds, unwanted hands, or those thin leafless limbs
the taste of cigars on lips or the slimy feel of uncles’ probing thick tongue
he took me to church, like to watch me dance and listen when I sang hymns

lots of summer afternoons, I sat for hours while the birds sang songs to God
his lap was big, and it felt good to have someone to care what I liked to do
summer days remind me of candy, fishing, and rum bottles hiding everywhere
the smell of marigolds or that living room and wiggling to get away from you

Mermaid’s Lost Love

seaweed, green, like my eyes, harbor me in this woeful abyss
waning as my golden blueish scales morph into blackness
shadow life, and inquisitiveness died and bled the colors of the
Bolivian orange-red sunset, which calls to your land’s hummingbirds
as their darting ceased, when my only child died not far from your brown banks

caught in a mile-long fishnet with a dolphin, and sea turtle friends
a triangle of death as I watched her die slowly as I tore my fingers
trying to save my little mermaid child as my blue tears floated skyward
a mere full moon later my merman swam into a black pool of thickness
unable to swim, black death covering his scales, cocooned as he died a painful death

I visit a river that has ancient trees with long gray hair, our family knew
my sorrow theirs, for they would clap as we would sing our odes
large white stones for basking, close to flowers that smell of love, and hope
braiding the morning glories, red swamp hibiscus, and white gardenias
into black hair as reminders of the lifeless and those that will follow

our world under and above the sea is dying from white man’s greed
regret and sorrowfulness breaks my heart into pieces
soon cut into ribbons like the seaweed I will die from sorrow
for no longer do I wish to see the sunrise, no, not one more tomorrow

Old News Is Not Old News

whites of fearsome eyes looking up from blood-soaked boards
black bodies stretched naked, branded, and shackled to floors
fifty women drowning overboard that enslaver’s work quickly done
another coast, heavily greased black muscles, glimmer in the sun
2021 computers on –  I listen while today’s news on a video rolls
spinning lies another bright young man died as this story unfolds
choked, gaged, sprayed, or flayed, old news nothing fresh today
sadness is killing me daily, as I think, what will their mothers say
another way of killing folks instead of hanging on a hoary oak tree
black people want to live their lives, be respected, and to be free
I am sick and tired, of being sick and tired, of the filthy shocking pace
of how white men keep eradicating people, not included in their race

~~~

Joni’s blog is Rum and Robots. Her national and international publications can be found here: https://the-inner-child.com/publications/. She is a surviving Adult Child of Alcoholics. Joni is a retired nurse and paralegal. Since the age of six, she has been writing songs and poetry. Joni is an avid environmental advocate. She was first featured on The Short of It in December 2020, and her work was published in the first anthology – The Sound of Brilliance.

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Reblogs – Chris Hall & Rashmi Buragohain

These two pieces clearly show the juxtaposition between a life which is freely chosen and one which is not.

You dance for us too by Chris Hall

We watch you dance in the sunlight 
admiring your graceful fluidity 
your total abandonment 
to your art. 

We watch you dance from our windows 
confined inside, with limbs 
no longer able 
to obey. 

That freedom, which once was ours 
lives on, as we watch 
while you dance 
for us too. 

Barely Ten by Rashmi Buragohain
Featured on Masticadores USA 3/31/22

She was barely ten 
When she had to take 
Those seven steps around the fire 
With weary eyes 

She was barely ten 
When she stepped in that house 
With a toy of a doll 
Clasped in her hands 

She was barely ten 
When her toy was forgotten 
Lying somewhere in a corner 
Covered with dust 

She was barely ten 
When the ladle became her life 
To feed them all, but none to ask, 
«Where is your morsel, dear?» 

Broken Young, Healed Old

the cries of a young boy go unheeded
his innocence questioning why love hurts
why is he to blame
always

his reddened body
and damaged psyche
aches
at the prospect of another beating

his mother
another pawn
sidelines her nurture
for her own peace

the child twice unlucky
lives out a horror-filled childhood
but with determined endurance
his strength gets him thru his familial hell

at the tender age of sixteen
grasping sweet freedom
in the ball of his fist
he holds back the final strike

quieting his monster
embarrassing the beast’s over-blown stature
it shook the cowardly aggressor
finally

there was peace
a respite from the violence
a start of healing
yet the dysfunction lingered

the home, always a yelling place
a source of constant dissatisfaction
coupled with emotional abuse
the father found other ways to injure

it was only a few more years
then the young man’s escape became possible
finally living on his terms
had begun in earnest

he peeled off the pain
saved himself and forged a future
promising himself to live a better life
he tried

one marriage in and down
the second one brewing for a storm
the dysfunction of the past not quite gone
just carried forward

he’d survived
but had not shed the poison within
still imprinted deep
was the darkness of the monster

not expunged, as thought
only resurfaced in time
the complete healing
required reflection and resolution

steadfast and enduring love saved him
pushing him to face his demons
and asking forgiveness of those he’d broken
just as he had been

Franca Basta

Peonies

The peonies blush,
gossiping and basking in
sun-kissed harmony.

Watermelons

Still
evenings.
Juicy fruit.
Slices passed round,
Each pip a story.
I listen in wonder.
Laughter, disbelief, shivers.
Friends gather in an inclusive
circle. Ice clinks in enamel jugs.
Slices of fruit, slices of times gone by.

Expectations

Yes!
Love it!
Thanks a lot!
What I wanted!
I walk out of the hairdressers and cry.

You know me too well

Who are you? Reading my private thoughts and
looking deep inside of me.
Who are you? Oh. It’s me.

*TRIGGER WARNING: CHILD ABUSE*

Innocence dies

Please stop.
Forget my room.
I don’t like your smell or
voice or skin or words or shape. Please
let me dream about fairies and chocolate.
I want my mummy’s arms.
Not yours. Not yours.
Please stop.

~~~

Franca has an English tongue and Italian gesticulation. She’s been featured in various flash fiction anthologies and creative writing sites but felt the need to turn her hand to poetry. She loves to write with humour but sometimes the dark side of life comes to the fore. Pasta and chocolate always help. This is Franca’s first feature on The Short of It.

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Reblog – childhood’s villain by Bogdan Dragos

A powerful read for anyone with a dysfunctional childhood, definitely one for me.

Daydreaming as a profession

Father used his fists a lot Though never on the kids On the walls and the furniture and the doors and the mailbox and the fence and the neighbors and random people on the street and strangers in the bar and a few times the poor dog and one time on mother He was the childhood’s villain To defeat him one had to become a hero and becoming a hero took time And today after all this time the villain of childhood was dead He died at the hands of some other character, a neutral one A cop who told him to drop to the ground and father didn’t so he got shot That was it The end of his saga Utterly unsatisfactory anticlimactic disappointing just bad There was no final showdown between hero and villain because those things only happen in childhood and childhood had ended a long time…

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Beginning, Middle, End

by chance
life begins amongst strangers
a start of birthed possibilities
propelled without consent

entering this world
substantive expectations spur entities on
with an unconscious hope for empathy and guidance

yet living is a potluck
one possibly enjoyed
but for them
probably not

filled with variables beyond their control
with only but a few moments
bent favorably in their direction

too soon
the barely living
trudge towards the inevitable
a half-achieved existence for most

with regret
many pass
with tears
they leave in agony
their death
the unfortunate finish they’d not hoped for

Trauma

our family rich with morbitities
of the mind, body and soul
wondering which fate awaits me

inviting the punishment
for perceived past misdeeds
a self-flagellation of sorts

abuse hammered in
nailed to my psyche
hard to escape, even after years

wrenching free is the only hope

Innocence Damaged

Redux

I Write Her

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Fear, shame, and guilt packed onto the frail frames of children.

Bruises are the accessories of their souls.

Innocence wiped from the faces of angels.

Harshness becomes the norm, thriving isn’t an option.

At least not for a while, more likely much longer.

Tasting freedom with the coming of age, finally.

But darkness from the past continues to weigh heavy.

Their existence tainted still.

Mental anguish persists from pain doled out by monsters of the past.

Fear, shame, and guilt still trapped deep.

Intensely alone with their damaging construct.

It’s still survival mode.

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Hot Breath In A Cold Room

laying on her side
focusing outside herself
outside the window
at the moon

him on her bed
crushing down
on her youth
babbling incoherently

close to her face
intimate, like she’s his wife
exhaling utterances
laced with beer

scaring this ten year old
into a world
for which she was not equipped
fear gripping every inch of her

‘leave already’ she wishes to herself
not knowing what to do
when he, whom she trusts,
severs the line of decency

*Note – While this was a true event, the child was not raped, thank goodness. However, it left some emotional scars, and trust was broken as certain boundaries were crossed.