Shadow Poetry

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Is there a hub? A homepage, a link tree, a place to take me to all the branches and pieces and scars of my identity?


A catalogue of all my claw marks, damages done, and gold stars earned throughout the maze between one breath and the next? How do I show you who I am?


I’d love a dropdown menu of some sort. Maybe an “about me” page auto written by the bloodstains left behind by my pen.


Maybe my closet is too full. I accidentally smothered the monster beneath my bed. That made more room, right? Maybe the signal strength in my heart is too slow, too worn, too broken, to connect with another. I repainted, remodeled, but I can’t afford a new one.


Is there a compass I can cling to? The one I fashioned with my own hands, buried in the sand for safe keeping, and moved away. I keep digging up the backyard of my mind, hoping to find the letter I wrote myself. Every night I wake from a nightmare; trembling in the darkness, my thumb on the lighter, envelope shaking in my other hand as flames lick closer.

Shadow Poetry

Candied Love

Ink drops you never expected to fall from my wrists gathered in the darkness. They waited for me to see, hidden, forgotten beneath crumpled outlines of failed escapes and looping memories, blurred from my then doe-eyed line of sight. I’d dropped breadcrumbs without realizing.

Keeping your eyes closed is never safe.
But sometimes.
Sometimes, it is survival. Beneath the bonds of a disease that smiles like sunshine and holds out freedom like a prize inside its embrace. When all you’ve ever known is the dark, any magpie’s prize shines in comparison.

You kept on, spoon feeding me sugar like I wouldn’t taste the poison, waiting for me to trip up so you could punish me for becoming what you forced me to swallow.
My teeth rotted around the same time darkness spilled out from beneath my bed, a deluge of monsters, a messy massacre of pieces of my soul, clamoring out to reclaim my body when you weren’t looking.

I cried into the fogged-up mirror, pretending the heat from the shower could wash me clean, wipe away the stains while I stared down into the crimson pool I held in the palms of my hands for you.
And I remembered.

The darkness in me smiled back, no drugged confection to smother its flames or scar its skin. It took my hands, lead me into the light, and showed me the bruises on my knees from kneeling to the empty gods of whichever dominion you could treat me with. Sugar on my tongue, never made it go down any easier.

And so, I bled, opening vein after vein, until my own words could find me, alone and hidden behind walls I’d stitched together with candied love. Promises you whispered in the dead of night, clinging in the aftermath, breathy and sweet.

So much venom behind your honey and I’d kept both.

Always dangerous, your game. Handing me recipes you stole from a pale horse, blinding me with the glare of decaying gold and putrid smiles, masquerading as warmth, as home, my hand in yours.

Keeping your eyes closed is never safe.

But sometimes.

Sometimes, it is liberation. Your hollow heart, raised in clouds and ease, you never knew the feel of empty hands on cold floors, breathing so hard your lungs burned, anxiety gripping your ribs so hard you had to fight to breathe, the filth of lies eating through your thrift store clothes.

Your closed eyes, they became my salvation.

Closed to the bloody ink, drops of sand in a timer you were doomed to break in me.

Everything comes to an end.

No whimper, no bang, though those words sing my bones to life.

But it comes with a set of eyes, wide open in the shadows, waiting for you to hunger at my hand. For the sweetness you offered bites both ways.

Perhaps you did offer freedom. Not within you. But through you, on the other side of a bittersweet fire.

Shadow Poetry

magic peddler

if i could have any job, i’d be a magic peddler.

leave fairy dust behind in my barefooted trail, sprinkling madness into your lives, waking you up, slipping fire into your veins.
every time you’d walk the same ground i’d walked, heat would shoot through the soles of your feet, spreading chaos like a disease, giving you the choice to harness or fall to it.
i’d sell tinctures to open eyes and flush hearts of doubt. carry a deck of cards, read your past and extract the damages so you could find the slivers of silver left behind.

i’d unleash dragons and fashion lakes of healing for lepers.
charge you to swim with the mermaids (for a nominal fee) and sell second chances for pennies.
i’d brush my fingertips over lips to hush destruction and hand out re-purposed gags as bandages stitched together with bone dust of the long lost enemies of life.
i’d breathe karma into the lungs of the sadists parading about as saviors and poison the earth with regrowth and health.

expose truth and lies the same – break the world’s rib cage open and expose that soft, squishy, vulnerable heart beating in the dark, begging for help.

pull the sky down and sing it a lullaby. dust rain down the saddest souls, sweeping all the decay and dead skin cells out of the way. there’s no other way to prepare one for joy, not even for a magic peddler.

i’d bottle your tears and water my garden as payment. as the loveliest flowers grew, i’d place a vase on your pillow and help you pray with your heart, connecting to everything growing and thriving about you until breathing came easy.
gather many together and open their chests, sit everything that hurt in the middle and sob together. i’d whisper magic words as you slept. help you come to, pick it all up, and put yourself back together. help you stand with rose petal splints and laugh as one.

maybe i’d learn to heal me too.

by Daphne Shadows

Shadow Poetry

betrayal

don’t thank me

i might’ve stepped on you

had you strayed


don’t try to change me

i’ll take from you

if your lie is true


and when i’m done

your lungs will empty

and your heart will pound


you’ll call for me

but i won’t be found


by Daphne Shadows

Micro Stories

behind the curtain

they weren’t really listening but they saw the truth anyway. it looked, for all its effort, like a lie. came wrapped up in a story they didn’t understand. but they only stuck to the surface, wanting a laugh, wanting a smile, wanting a fake face and a comfortable tale.

and so the truth slipped into the unknown, alone and lost and wondering why so many walked by, shrugging at its apparent sounds of struggle and pleas for help.

but then you happened upon us.

one silly smile and the world was alight with sun globes and sparkles and all those little pieces of confetti that were thrown away at the end of the parties. gathered up and stuffed in our pillows, because you happened upon us.

 

it’s not just that you sauntered on by. it’s that you stopped.

in the stopping, you breathed in, like a dragon with a belly full of fire, waiting to soak in every moment, notice every tiny detail in a world impermanent and ever-changing. a momentous shift in the state of things, nothing more than a spec of a second to you, the gem at the corner of your eyes.

a blink, and what’s what has changed for you.

yet you paused, a galaxy worth’s of memory, and you saw us. smiled, and reached a scaly hand down, down, down into the depths of what most ignored. their sideways glances bringing hurried steps quicker and quicker, further and further away. wouldn’t want to have to deal with it. wouldn’t want to have to change or help or stoop down to lend a hand.

but you dipped your claws into the muck and the hidden, pulling the truth from behind the curtain, and held us in your hands like the most precious of treasures.

 

we realized then. the truth isn’t what’s written or noticed. we didn’t need them to see in order to be. the truth is the truth, no matter the trappings. and you showed us the cost of accepting is brilliancy untold.

 

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Shadow Poetry

when you get lost

when you get lost, pick up a pen, a pencil, your phone, keyboard, paintbrush, chisel, hammer, loudspeaker, break open your chest and rip your heart out.

whisper to it scream why you’re still here why you will not give up how you are too stubborn to just die you are too glorious to accept this misery this lack of life.

force your heart back in refuse it’s radio silence, sew yourself back up, one foot in front of the other into the garage, hook yourself up to the jumper cables and step behind the curtain, take control of the command center hijack the speaker system, scream like you mean it until your neighbors believe it.

dig up all your broken bones, peel off your empty dead skin, collect the blood and hours of secret tears, chew it up spit it out, push the pads on remove all the metal, stand

CLEAR!

bring it to life, fashion it into rope, make an incision, tie it to your gut find your way home, crawl back into who you knew you were always meant to be who you want need to be, because this drowning in a walking flatline only ends one way.

you don’t need advice until you know where you’re headed.

the man on the moon doesn’t know, put a glass to your ribs and listen, you do.

pick up an ax, stalk the brokenness out back to the post you’ve been chained to, throw the strongest link on the chopping block and SAY CHEESE annihilate them.

take a flamethrower to your slave masters, use their ashes to create your own garden because you can feed yourself.

this is about you, sit in the fire and when you open your eyes push magic through your veins like electricity, a closed door cannot stop your flames.

and if you’re feeling cold, warm yourself with the licking of lashings scarring your insides where no one can touch you, make it all better.

make it all better.

you’re going to burn. burn true. heat cities. grow multitudes. create mammoth atoms to spin within your own sphere, always pulling you, holding you home.

 

By Daphne Shadows

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Shadow Poetry

I’m Not Waiting Any Longer

And I sit there on the floor

Legs not crossed like a lady

But crossed like I’m four again

Sitting at school on the carpet

Waiting for the teacher to explain.

 

Okay, I’m ready.

For you to let down your wisdom

Breathe the secret into my ear

Pull back the curtain

Ignite the barren emptiness

Of not knowing

 

Only

I sit there, on the floor

Waiting

Rubbernecking like nobody’s business

Wholeheartedly believing

Now I’ll understand

Now it’ll all make sense

I’ll get it

Understand

I’ll know what this life is all about

What I’ve been missing

 

I’ve lived into my how-to manual

People will come rushing through the terminals

Hard earned years of enlightenment

They’ll bustle in their hurried fever

Of needing to get on with their lives

Because they have so much to live

What, with all that understanding

Due to age…

 

Only

I sit there, on the floor

Realizing the room is empty

It’s a stage with polished floors

And vaulted ceilings

Rows and rows of chairs

The nice cushy ones you might’ve fought your grandpa for

When you were four years old

 

I look around and see

The lights are off

I’m the only one on the stage

The crowd is empty

Those nice soft seats, void of any life

Any know-how to impart

 

That’s the first lesson I really learned

About everyone else,

Outside of my skin.

It didn’t knock off any innocence

I wasn’t shiny or brand new by then

That got rubbed off before I could speak

But I’d kept some silly hope that when you said

“When you’re older you’ll understand”

…that you spoke the truth.

 

You did not.

The truth is

No one knows.

 

I found this out, sitting cross-legged

Like a child

Vibrating with enthusiasm

And excitement

Ready to warm my hands

At the fire of everyone’s experience

 

With the heat of age

That’d crept into my body

That everyone told me, made me

Better, somehow

Like numbers of lived life

Ups your worth in some cosmic game

And so you earn more lives

And redeemable information to trade

For a bunch of useless tasks, you performed…because….

 

Still sitting on an empty floor

Holding a ticket that leads nowhere.

 

By Daphne Shadows

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Photo is property of Daphne Shadows