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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