POETRY & PROSE 2016
Please click here to read about 'Poetry & Prose' by Karen Robinson
— A Good Conversation —
We talked about the-everyday-things, a catch-up conversation, mostly predictable, between us, as mother and daughter. Then I asked her, “How is work?” She surprisingly revealed that things were not good. After listening to her for a while, I realised that I had little to offer in the way of remedies or good advice, even though as her mother, it should have been expected. There was a sadness a feeling of helplessness within me that said I cannot make this right! She spoke of the challenges, she spoke of the injustices, she spoke of personal anguish, she spoke of disappointment, she spoke of sadness and grief. She just spoke. I was there to listen. I was grateful that, as her mother, I was there, able to listen. I saw pain on her face, heard it in her voice. I saw her relieved that she could share with me, knowing, without asking, that I would be non-judgemental. It was a good conversation. While her problems, concerns, and anxiety still remained, I was able to offer a silent assurance that no matter what, I will be there, that my love for her, my daughter, is truly unconditional. With this the pain slipped away from her face, her anxiety put to rest for another time; the injustices explored and clarified so that they were now manageable, and her challenges cast aside to be revisited at another time. On this day, her problems became smaller as our time shared together became bigger. It was a good conversation; a precious time between us as mother and daughter. – ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson - November 2016
* Please click here to read the back-story about this Prose Poem and view a YouTube Video of Karen Robinson reading her poem at 2016 Melbourne Spoken Word Prize Event
— Feeling Vulnerable —
Why am I feeling this way? I've done this many times before. I have spoken about my son, and his tragedy, so many times before. Was it the statement the father made, saying it was not a tragedy? Did that cut right through my heart? Here I am again - vulnerable. My grief and despair exposed like an open wound that will never heal. My voice quivers as I talk. It's hardly noticeable to others, I think, but for me it is loud and demanding of my attention. It is uncontrollable. I state the facts. I talk of the families that will now be hurting. I am hurting. How can I make it stop? It will never stop. My son is no longer here. His death - sudden, violent and unnecessary. Here I am again - vulnerable. But it will pass until the next time my heart is torn open. – ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson - October 2016 * Please click here to read the back-story about this Prose Poem
— Box! —
I’m thinking all good has to be inside this box meant for me! There are stars floating across its surface and colours of the rainbow are fully displayed against a deep black background. In my box -- perhaps hope, happiness, and joy will disperse as the lid is lifted; perhaps wonderful memories of the past will float out into my presence to be shared and enjoyed; perhaps promises of good times ahead will ascend into my hands as promissory notes that can be taken up at times when I am feeling sad; perhaps the sweet scent of Spring will drift into my soul and I will find myself taking a deep breath of rejuvenation; perhaps loud trumpets will bugle a merry tune and put me in fine spirits; perhaps fairy floss will spring from its centre, pink, sweet, and sticky to the fingers; perhaps a flutter of chirping noisy miners will escape, heading towards the highest trees in the garden outside; or perhaps there is just a whole lot of nothing! So, for me, I will not be taking the lid off this box as I already know what it is full of, and that is my imagination. – ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson - September 2016 * Please click here to read the back-story about this Prose Poem
— Home —
It is quiet and peaceful at this very moment. There are no ‘world worries’ in my space. I hear birds awakening to the beginning of a new and promising day. Inside here in my home it is safe and warm, and outside, surrounding my home, is a garden paradise grown and crafted by the loving hands of a man I cherish. Here, I know, is a place for me to run and hide - to shelter from the outside world’s daily challenges; a place where I can be myself – unafraid, comforted. The family dog sits beside me, endearingly, as always. Together we wait for the morning-sun to show its friendly face and when my husband arises, from his night’s sleep, it is then we will take coffee and talk in the security of each other’s company. It is quiet and peaceful here – this blessed place I call home. – Ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson - September 2016 *Please click here to read the back-story about this Prose Poem
— A Moment in the Sun —
The end-of-winter air is fresh and crisp as it hits my skin. The sun is bright and the sky clear, clean and blue. My soul is comforted by the early-morning promise of a good day ahead. The bees have been fooled into believing that Spring has arrived and the birds sing as a sign of their contentment. This walk I take begins to re-energise my spirits. For just this moment, all my woes have departed, kind thoughts begin to flood my mind and that feeling, of understanding that I am lucky to be alive, begins to settle within me once again. – Ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson – August 2016
— World Horrors —
It's so dreadfully hard not to be torn down by the daily news. Reading, listening, seeing the world horrors just gives me the blues. What happened to my understanding of it being a safe and wonderful place? Did it get jarred away by us -- us being the human race? I fear for what my children's children will have to contend with, as they hear of this once beautiful planet. Was it all just a myth? But I bring myself back to the now and I say, that I only have the power of me and then I pray not to the gods of man who need belief to exist, not to the night heavens that continue to persist, but to future generations of us humans at play, that somehow they will do much better -- better than we have today. – Ο – Poem © Karen Robinson, July 2016 ∗Please click here to read the back-story about this Poem
— Our Dog Jessie —
His golden hair glimmers in the warm, afternoon winter-sun, he is waiting, waiting, waiting for his very special one. There seems to be no end to his vigilant gaze as he watches for his master to grace the stony path maze. For Jessie is truly a well-loved family member of ours, he has given us so much love in both good and bad hours. If only his master knew how adoringly his dog waits, for the return of his master’s presence, - our dog’s best of mates. – Ο – Poem © Karen Robinson, July 2016 ∗Please click here to read the back-story about this Poem
— When Feeling Guilty Feels Right! —
Finally, it had come to a head and not a silly word was said. I ask myself, why do I feel this way when my heart should be full of dismay? The years of trying to make it work — none of it had a lasting perk for what was truly important to me was still in front of my family of three. There was this sense of guilty relief, but I must save me, is my belief. Our years of childhood pain has, at times, left her and me insane. Perhaps it’s time to let go for neither can mend our past woe. So, as she stormed out the door I thought: there will be no more! – Ο – Poem © Karen Robinson, June 2016
— I Am Listening —
Here I am, again, listening to their reasons why and as I hear, I cannot help but sigh! They talk about the daily risks they take and my calm facial expression is all a fake for I know if they continue on in this vein, their lives will not be blessed by the ordained. Their loved ones will end up mourning their loss for their risk-taking comes at a massive cost. The tears, heartache and emptiness of soul will leave their loved ones with this only role. And as for me, I am already there - left without my son and left with great despair. – Ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson, June 2016 ∗Please click here to read the back-story about this Poem
— Wondering Why —
He lay there all alone by the side of a dark, stretch of country road. Did he suffer? Did he call out for mother? What were his last words? Another found him dead, thrown from his vehicle. A knock at our door, told me he had died. He had been drinking, speeding. He hit a kangaroo, lost control of his vehicle, crashed into two trees. Another found him dead and thrown from his vehicle. We planned his funeral. We grieve his loss. We think of him. We live on without him in our lives. I talk about him to others, in the hope that hearing me will save them. Them, like him, so that their mothers will not wonder why. - Ο - Poem © Karen Robinson, June 2016
— Thinking of Mother —
It’s hard to think about my mother in a totally positive way when on Mothers’ Day this is exactly what a child is meant to do! My sister, brother and I grew up in a sadly dysfunctional family. But for the purposes of thinking about the fact that it is Mothers’ Day, I really want to just consider the best of my mother, and it will be hard to do without looking at the worst of my childhood life.
Mother was born in a rural country town in NSW, Australia, one of three girls. My understanding of my mother’s life is sadly poorly formulated. We were estranged for many years during my adult life, during a time when I had started my own family and became a mother myself. We only got to reunite for a 6-month period before she died of cancer on March 2, 1998. It was a dreadfully sad and painful time, with much left unsaid, and a parting of ways, through her death, that left many of my childhood questions unanswered.
I believe my mother was raised by nuns, as her own mother died when she was a very small child and her father was a soldier in World War II. This meant there was no one willing and/or able to care for my mother and her two older sisters, hence being raised by nuns. This upbringing left wounds that never seemed to heal. I remember my mother saying to me, on different occasions during my childhood, that at times the nuns were cruel, that she had never learned how to be a mother and that she had to teach herself. On reflection, this seemed to be some sort of excuse my mother would utter when she felt she had got the act of mothering all wrong. In her defence, I always remember her as being a very hard worker and she ended up being the main ‘bread winner’ for our family for most of our childhood. Our father, the man she married and stayed married to for all of our childhood lives, and literally for ‘better or worse’, was a man who was deeply troubled. He became an alcoholic very early in their marriage and a brutal man to my mother and to each of us as children, with my brother experiencing the worst of what he had to offer. I remember many times being terrified during his drunken outbursts of furious rage.
But back to the memory of my mother; she was a beautiful woman and I remember her, mostly, as a kind person. During my very early childhood, mum would make my clothes and I remember wearing very pretty dresses, on special occasions, with pride. She was very creative and most resourceful. On one occasion, I remember she had made my sister and I a new dress each out of the old curtains that had once hung from the lounge room window. I also remember her being a very good cook, although I don’t believe she started off being able to cook. This skill was developed out of necessity and it ended up being one of her professions during her later working years. Life was not easy for my mother, for sure, as it was during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s when family domestic violence was considered a family matter, and a wife in those days was required to ‘put up and shut up’. It was a time when if a woman went to the police seeking protection from their brutal husband, they would be turned away and told that it was a family matter and to go and sort it out with the husband – the very person dishing out the domestic violence. It was also a time where there was little to no support for a woman with small children, particularly if they decided to leave the husband. My mother did leave my father on one occasion. She packed up the little VW car one afternoon with as much of our worldly possessions as she could, along with us three small children and off we went. On that particular night I remember, as a small child and the eldest of the three of us, we stayed in a rental caravan which leaked as it rained. For dinner we had bread and jam, and I remember thinking at the time that things must be really bad if that’s all we got for tea. Mum was sad and desperate and brave. As I said before, it was a time when it was a very socially-unacceptable thing to do – leaving your husband was considered almost shameful, no matter what was happening in the home.
As time went on it became too difficult for my mother, on her own, rearing us three children — trying to put a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food in our bellies, sending us to school, keeping us healthy and paying all the bills. Then the breaking point came. I remember that my mother read out a letter from my father to me, perhaps not the whole letter, but a letter that begged us to all to return with many promises to change his ways and so it was that we went back to my father after he had tracked my mother down and pushed her to return. Sadly, this was a dreadful mistake, but I try to remind myself that she was a woman with three small children, no family support, no government support, and low wages. It must have been very hard for her; it was for us three small children as I remember it. Perhaps, if it was in today, when women can gain some sort of support, things might have been different; she could have made better choices for herself, and for her children. I have told myself this throughout my adult life, to help me understand why my mother went back knowing that my father was an alcoholic and a brutal man.
So when thinking of mother on Mothers’ Day, I can’t help thinking about what it means to be a mother. It’s a hard job, and there is plenty of room for mistakes and poor judgement, but there is also an opportunity to take the things learned and try to make good with the next generation of children; to hopefully be a better mother than one’s own. To raise children that will love and remember us as mothers in a kindly way, to remember the best of us.
– Ο – Prose © Karen Robinson – May 2016 *Please click here to read the back-story about this Prose
— Advice I Would Give Someone In A Situation Like Mine —
Keep looking forward when looking back is too hard to bear and look back when you are stronger. Whilst the pain will still be there, it will have hopefully morphed into a bearable medium to work with as time marches on and on. Take a moment in each day to look for something that will bring you some kind of joy, whether it be joy for just a moment or joy for a greater period of time. In time, you will begin to reward yourself by looking for more and more joy in the everyday. And after some considerable time some of your days will be full of joy, and the sadness will only come when you invite it in. – Ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson - April 2016 ∗Please click here to read the back-story for this Poem
— Listening to His Voice —
As I listened to my husband’s voice over the telephone, I could sense how he was feeling. The ability to do this comes from being married to this man for over 35 years, which has given me a knowing that can only be achieved by sharing one’s life with another, in an intimate and personal way.
There is a sign of tiredness, a slow tempo in his voice that tells me things are not good with his brother Greg. I listen with care, waiting for the right moment to ask, “And how is he,” and my husband’s response is, “Not good. He got back his blood results today and it is not hopeful,” he adds. My husband’s voice then trails off into silence. It means that the chemotherapy tablets that Greg was taking as a last resort, in an attempt to live, are not working. This means that Greg, his partner and doctors will need to see if there is anything else that he can take instead that may extend his time here in our world. Without hearing my husband say anything else, I know it means there will be little else that can be done. The cancer is at a point where it will slowly take the last bit of life from his brother’s body.
We tried to finish up our telephone call on a cheerier note. My husband, still sounding sorrowful and sad, proceeded to tell me that they’re off now to see his brother’s neighbours so that they could share the lady-finger bananas that he and Greg had, just the day before, cut down from the banana tree that stands tall within his brother’s beautiful tropical garden paradise.
I let him go back to being with his brother, back to sharing precious moments, back to creating memories that will survive past Greg’s living presence, to be stored away in my husband’s memory of his brother, to be hopefully shared with future generations of family to come.
I hang up the phone and am now left with the thoughts about my own journey during my husband’s cancer fight. My mind meanders through memories of how hard it was during my husband’s chemotherapy and during his recovery; painful and distressing. I am so thankful that he survived, that he is still here with me now – my dear, sweet husband.
Special Note: After a courageous long battle with cancer, Greg passed away on the 7th December 2016. He will be deeply missed by all who loved him…
– Ο – Prose © Karen Robinson – April 2016
— Favourite Thing About Myself —
My grey hair colour is perhaps my most favourite ‘self’ thing! It’s the only thing that’s gotten better as I have gotten older. The nice perky boobs have diminished and given way to the over-ripe melons that sag and sag. My once-lovely flat belly is now a memory overwritten by a lumpy, bumpy hill that does not flatten out when I lay down. It just sits there reminding me of my middle-aged spread. My once-muscular legs that used to attract all sorts of admiration from both males and females, a noticeable gift from my mother’s DNA, are now always hidden away, under long pants, in shame. My skin that used to be aglow with good health and good looks has slipped away secretly, quietly – never to be found again. And so it goes, as it must -- all that was favourite has been taken by that thief, old age, and I am now left with one thing in exchange for my youth -- my grey hair, a favourite ‘self’ thing! Oops, I forgot. I do like my brain. It’s been working, not better but differently, and I can see that it is going to help me in my ripe, old age. Good bye, good looks and thank you, brain. – Ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson, April 2016 ∗Please click here to read the back-story about this Poem
— Destination – Old Age —
My life has not been boring! At times it has been a sweet and delicate pathway where my soul has strived to ascend to a place of beauty and peace. And at other times my life has been painfully difficult. But now I am at a mature age, where my youthful adventures are in the past and I feel like the moon, quietly shining within the lives of those nearest and dearest to me, hoping that my presence brings beauty, a presence that causes no harm. I do seek to gain knowledge of the outer world – the good, the bad, the ugly -- to delve into the mysteries of others, to seek out the natural beauty of the human soul and treasure the best of us. But old age has made me become a very practical person and it has also allowed me to arrive at a place where I find myself enjoying this part of my life. It’s a time where I can also be strong and direct, where I can now share a lifetime of memories, in the hope that some good can be achieved. I am a sentimental deep thinker and determine to leave behind me memories worthy of retelling to future generations. – Ο – Prose Poem © Karen Robinson – April 2016
— False Tallness —
When people are pompous and full of nonsense it serves no purpose at all, as it makes another feel just a little bit small. So when this false tallness comes along, I go inside my head and sing a silly song in the hope that the false tallness will shrink and the smallness will grow to a healthier me, in just a blink! - Ο - Poem © Karen Robinson - April 2016
— It can’t be about me! —
You talk of life not being boring, of being a bird just soaring, soaring. You talk about being practical, about the importance of being factual. You talk about life and the passing of time, of being able to keep the presence of mind. You talk about trying to do no harm to others, of trying to be one of the better mothers. But don’t worry old girl, you’re a good pearl! – Ο – Poem © Karen Robinson – April 2016
— My Love-Hate Relationship —
If my computer was a person, I would have killed it by now, and had no regrets. The amount of time and energy I have expended on it, to fix several problems over the last few weeks, has been ridiculous. Hate comes to mind. Right at this moment I hate my computer with a passion! So when it decides to have a mind of its own I tell it, and tell it, that I will love and respect it, and that I am grateful for all the times it has faithfully assisted me in achieving my goals. I constantly give it credit for doing a marvellous job, but at times this flattery does not seem to persuade it that, when it decides to go off the rails, it causes me all sorts of grief. This love/hate relationship can’t be good for me! But I persist, in the hope that if I can pretend to be kind and thoughtful that perhaps, just perhaps, it will be cooperative and just work without a problem. Perhaps chocolates are the answer. I’m desperate. Hey computer, what about chocolate; do you like chocolate? I think I have gone mad!
The chocolates didn’t work. My computer is still not working at its best capacity. What I really want to say is that its performance is shit, and I am sick of it at the very least! My love/hate relationship with it is stronger than ever and much more hate than love. I contacted the Microsoft Technical fairies on Remote Assist for the fourth time and prayed that if they waved their magic wand again all would be good once more. But I discovered that this was not going to be, and my computer still remains defiant. It’s on the blink again!
As I wrote before, if my computer was a person I am sure I would have killed it by now. No jokes! That is how frustrated I am with him and yes, it has to be a him, not an ‘it’! Or should I write hymn? A prayer would do nicely right now and perhaps could influence my computer to get back to working like a responsible, good computer. It has tested my patience to no end and I find myself observing the actions of the Microsoft Technical fairy, skilfully working his magic to rectify what seems to be an unfathomable problem. There have been a number of Windows 10 operating systems installs and re-installs, along with a number of Windows Office 365 installs and re-installs; and my communications with the Microsoft Technical fairies, via my mobile phone and via Remote Assist on the computer, have been very cordial which I have appreciated. I have been very restrained, trying desperately to be extra, extra nice in the hope that my attitude towards the Microsoft Technical fairies will result in a perfectly behaved computer but no, no such luck. Time to tear my out my hair or go hang myself, or slit my wrists? No. All too dramatic, I know, and extra silly. Back to chocolates then, perhaps?
While I am waiting, waiting for the Microsoft Technical fairies to wave their magic wand and fix my computer, I am forced to write this piece, this arduous rant, with a pen and paper. I mean a pen and paper — how antiquated is that? Just unforgivable, computer! So hopefully when this time draining fiasco is over I will be back to my old self enjoying my computer privileges. The first thing I am going to do when all is working well with him, him being the computer, is that I will resort to shutting down my computer. Yes, shutting it down! I will be plainly ignoring it for a while as a form of punishment for all the stress it has made me endure. I know, I know. There are much more important things in the world to be moaning about, to be appreciative of. Please forgive this rant. Back to chocolates. It’s Easter! Yum! Chocolate Easter eggs!
My computer is now working beautifully and all is as it should be. And yes, I love my computer once again – well, until the next time it decides to be a pain in the ass!
– Ο – Rant © Karen Robinson – March 2016
Please click here to read about 'Poetry & Prose' by Karen Robinson
© Karen Robinson – Updated December 2016