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June 30 (a poem written on the KM Dharma Kartika V ferry, in the Flores Sea)

 

Listen to or read Patrick’s latest poem (3 mins)

 

I was once married
on this same day
27 years ago

I hid in a room
drinking whisky
as the guests arrived

A boy
not yet ready
to grow up

From this embarrassment –
going along with a thing my heart didn’t sing with –
I made a pledge to my adulthood

Guilty in festivity
I did not want to hurt
the mother of my first child

I loved her as an artist
though, try as I did
I couldn’t love her more

I was 27 years old
it was the end of the financial year
and I had no money to declare

I did grow from that day, and later my son
Zephyr, was born in the house I built
with my own poet hands

I cut and hammered and sang
and together his mother and I
crafted a beautiful house

But I wounded her then –
and my three year old boy –
when I moved into the next town

From this tiny dwelling I began to rebuild
my life, while fighting a wounded mother
for the right to see my son

Slowly, I better understood how my mother-wound
and my mother’s big mother-wound
were significantly shaping my life

And how as people our wounds
cross into others until there is nothing left
but either madness or acceptance

I came to choose acceptance
as my love grew for the mother
of my second son, Blackwood

But as this love grew
so too the wounds of Zephyr
fed radically into his youth

I eventually sat still in Fear Country
underworlding in late initiation
as my eldest was incarcerated

First in youth correction
then in adults prison
and grief thrashed me, mercilessly

Wave after wave broke me down
for the crimes of the state
and my own son, combined

At first I reacted strongly
to this, and to his mother’s blame of me
though eventually I came to own it

Conscious of how that old wound
made by the hiding-behind-the-whiskey boy
whom she married, lived on

It took me many belligerent years
before I saw my unwitting promotion
of her pain, and others

I focussed on justice
arrogantly, from a place of hubris
instead of compassion

~

Today, I am a holding uncle
of teenage boy initiation
and men’s wounds in my community

I no longer want to serve
the game of right and wrong
or, ignore my shadow world

So, this is an anniversary poem
for all the fine suffering
that has grown me up

And a poem for my two sons, and others
who might unwittingly wound others
from the source of their own wounds

I will wound again –
this is the human experience –
though more conscious my wounds lessen

For when I am conscious
I too am worthy
and I too can find peace

 

32 comments

  1. Meg says:

    Oh. Thank you for sharing.
    Raw & real.
    Much love & respect.
    Meg of Garfield 🌻

  2. Rachel says:

    Astonishing, brutifully honest and very moving. 🙏🌹

    1. Eka says:

      💛🤗🧡

      1. Big hugs for our boys, Eka.

  3. Dianne says:

    Oh goodness. Patrick, this is the stuff of open flesh, broken hearts, and crying eyes. I honour your soul searching integrity and willingness to be exposed and transparent.
    Big love to you, Meg, Zeph and Woody. 🙏🙏🙏🙏

    1. Thanks Dianne, and much love to you and Jose.

  4. petrus says:

    today was a day to let my tears flow for you and zephyr, whom i remembered as a young boy. and the thought came up what that would be like for a free spirit, as we all are, to be locked up for so long. what is the state fashioning here? and will he ever smell his father’s lovely garden and all that entails. i am not a praying man so all i will do is say: i will send you good thoughts. and that this day will be a continuation of much goodness as you have been creating in the simple act of keeping your garden green. everything x
    .

    1. Thank you for your open and poetic reflections here, dear Petrus. Yes, the humility (humus) of home, which is the return to a garden filled with people and food.

  5. Steph R says:

    Quiet tears for what you’ve shared. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Steph
      😪
      💧

  6. Sonia says:

    I hope zephyr in the fullness of time can find freedom from such wounds. That he may be inspired and supported from your courage to face your own shadows. And from your wise heart and growth.

    I know in my own heart the grief of wounding my beloved child. I also know the incredible healing that comes through facing such humbling pain.

    So wonderful to hear of your, meg and woodys amazing adventures northwards. May you continue to be blessed by and bless all that you meet upon your path. 🤗🙏🏼🔆

    1. Thanks Sonia, thank you for your loving warmth and wisdom.

  7. Ally says:

    I read, I listened & then I read again.
    Thank you Patrick – you opened yourself up to the heart, its a learning many men need.

    I am still thinking about this poem & pondering why it affected me in such a big way as a Woman reader – but one thing I do know is that the best of Art makes us stop, ponder, reflect & puzzle over its complexity intertwined with the simple stuff & lots of heart.
    Sending love to the whole Family including your beautiful Zeph.

    1. So appreciative of your generous response here, Ally. Thank you for opening to the both the complexity and simplicity of this poem.

  8. José says:

    Patrick, What an amazing sharing this is! One part of me wants to take your whole poem apart and make comments on this and that. Another part just wants to feel my heart and yours as they share similar emotions. I have a vivid memory of Zephyr playing with his little brother… He is teaching him how to ride his bicycle. They are having such fun together.
    I remember how proud Zephyr was of the little house he had built for himself. Yes there is trauma and yes there can be post traumatic growth. I would love to be able to write to Zephyr the man, As for you, young man, the length of your beard reflects the depth of your wisdom. Happy and safe travels to the three of you.

    1. Oh, thank you José, thank you with tears of gratitude. Hopefully one day Zeph will make his way to such places as this and know how loved and seen he is. Zephyr, the man, has many gifts, and the institutions he’s been in for several years have not destroyed his spirit. He is bright-eyed and observing, and his ‘schooling’ – a chaotic initiation of his own making – will no doubt serve him and others as he travels forth from this painful chapter, later in the year. Thank you for your care and love, José.

  9. trace says:

    listening… such truth telling and wisdom there, out at sea… and in distant places where perspective and wisdom can arise… keep on growing dear blue wren as your growth is rich soil for us all… big respect trace

    1. Thank you dear Trace, feeling your love all the way to sea, nearing Surabaya xx

  10. Cari says:

    an honour to hear your rawness and to receive the depth of its truth – thank you

    1. Thanks Cari, so glad it resonated 🙏🏽

  11. Julie says:

    Great anniversary poem Patrick. I have stopped dreaming/wishing/hoping that the man who wounded me, will ever own the hurts/harms/insults to me/my/mine heart during our co-creative time together. He was 27 too. Today I have stayed single so as not to perpetuate cycles of wounding. It is ok if in a partnership where consequences are not feared, but to use your word, accepted, are par for the course of evolving and deepening love.

    1. Oh, Julie, that pain travels with you. Thank you for connecting your wounds with this wound poem. There is love in this. 🧡

  12. Ange says:

    Thank you for your honesty and openness, in allowing others to become conscious of their own wounds and shadows by sharing your reflections. This is a monumental ripple effect for us all!

    1. Thanks so much for your generous response, Ange. We’re grateful this poem has resonated. 🙏🏽

  13. Moth says:

    Beautiful poem, what a strange world it is being human, thank you for sharing, take care of your spirits 🙂

    1. And so it is. Thanks Moth 🙏🏽

  14. Ruth says:

    Patrick your journey as a father helps and inspires us on our path of raising boys with conscious awareness. Thank you for your fatherly courage – we are in awe and sending you all the biggest hug x

    1. Thanks so much Ruth, your words mean so much to me. Sending so much love to you and your boy and men folk. P x

  15. Belinda says:

    A deep resonance with your poem that has brought me unexpected comfort. Thank you for sharing 🙏

    1. Thanks Belinda, we’re joyed to read this. 🙏🏽

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