The last night

I should feel relieved that you’re finally going. And I am. Except I don’t really believe it, yet. From first being honest enough to say the words that I want you to leave and go back to your place there’s been a barrage of bloody everything. Texts from you. Your sister. People accosting me in the street. Outside the church. For fucks sake you’re a grown man. Accept it and leave me the fuck alone.

Haven’t you done enough?

Alternately, I’m angry then numb. I haven’t totally broken it yet. I’ve felt like I was in a glass bubble for so long. I can see the outside world, but I’m isolated from it. Increasingly, frighteningly isolated. Like the glass gets thicker and I’m stuck here. With no-one to turn to because the world seems to see a different face.

The affable, jovial even willing-to-help church attending member of the community.

My friend phones daily, my lifeline.

I’m avoiding other people because how can I break their vision of you? It’s not me to do that. And who wants to be effectively, the victim? Admit you were conned? The emotional blackmail is driving me crazy. From anger to tears you don’t fucking stop and I know that goes into following me, too.

I’m paranoid? Really? Am I? I saw your car. I know it’s registration like I know my own personal details. It turned up last night, outside a friend’s house, headlights on full beam and dipped between cars behind me as I walked through the roughest estate I know. Less scared there than I am of you.

I went to work today. Spoke with another friend. You don’t know she’s a friend. Not really. Just that she’s an acquaintance who is kind. Except I now know someone else believes me and it’s another chink in that glass bubble.

Crunch, crack, bit by bit. Her reaction took me by surprise. Something about getting that piece of shit the fuck out of there and to keep a weapon by the bed. I will do that tomorrow.

Curtains shut and getting ready for bed. A small defiance. But I have the key back. So, I have my life back. Finally.

Your car passed five minutes ago. You’re going to your house. And you put the key through the door earlier. A text short, abrupt. You’re picking your things up at a time convenient to us both.

I can get into bed, sleep as well as I can. I’m jittery. I tell myself you have no access and I’m being silly.

I’ve changed the bedding to get rid of the stench of sweat and alcohol that makes me gag. Still I can smell you. You linger like burned food after it’s gone in the bin. Except this is stale and threatening.

I breathe slowly. The doors are locked. There’s only us here. Myself and my daughter. She’s in the bedroom before mine.

And I hear a noise downstairs. You’re imagining it, I tell myself. Know I’m not. No I’m not. There were no lights shining through the curtain. I could just be scaring myself with shadows. Know I’m not. Oh fuck.

The stairs squeak occasionally. I know someone is in here. And there’s only one person it can be. You said yesterday you would surprise me. Your path around the bed I follow with my eyes shut. It’s the smell moving with you. I feel the dip as you sit on the bed. Hear you remove your clothes. You lean over me. Chuckling. At me or to yourself, who knows?

I daren’t move. Whatever you are here for, you’re so drunk that it won’t last long I tell myself.

Know the key being returned was symbolic of the power. A lie. Another fucking lie to add to the list.

You lean over me. Breath disgusting as it hits my face. Im not going to move. The smell of sweat, strong lager, mixed with brandy and mints. You must have seen your daughter. Lately, every time has meant you in a temper. A teenager no longer willing to worship you. I pay the price. The air crackles with danger.

My daughter is next door and I won’t scare her. Whatever happens to me I’ll get over. I can’t yell and scare the shit out of my child. She’s a brave little warrior who’d try and defend me. End up hurt.

You lean over me ‘I know you’re awake’

I don’t reply. Concentrate on steadying my breathing. Hope you’re going to fall asleep.

‘Bitch, I know you’re awake. You’re all the same. Move on when it suits’ you flick my nipple and I force myself to stay still. Calm as I can. Try to slow my heart down. Your hand grabs my left breast.

‘ I can feel your fear’ you whisper ‘you are awake’

Your hand slides away and I hope that you’re going to sleep. Your next words are the worst I’ll ever hear.

You drag your hand roughly down me and utter

‘I’ve always wanted to kill a woman’ fingers tap my neck, and the blood pounds in my head.

Bored of no reaction, you turn over and go to sleep. I don’t move.

All night I lie there. Awake.

It’s only a few hours before you get up for work.

The usual 5am like nothing is wrong. Like last night didn’t happen. You kiss my forehead saying you’ll be ‘home’ later. I put on an extra bolt after you leave. Rusty but working.

I go upstairs and am sick. But my child is safe. I feel myself shivering. It’s not cold at all. I acknowledge it is shock. Yet, I don’t have time for it now.

Today I’m getting the locks changed. The baseball bat my friend offered me too. Im furious and scared. A mixture even I know is dangerous.

©Ailsa Cawley 2021

Stillness

She sat there drinking them in. Watching, smiling, nodding, speaking but deliberately not leading.It was a defence mechanism. Taken back to days long ago when her views, dreams and stories were considered stupid or childish.

First she learned to be quieter, and for a while she thought occasionally she was safe, until the words she cast out were spat back on a haze of alcohol and abuse. The stories and verses were burned or binned, because that’s what happens to trash. See?

Foolishly, when she’d thought he believed in her, she gave him a story to read. Since then, daily she’d become a little quieter, a little less herself. One day she realised she wasn’t sure who she was anymore.

That was the day she walked away. She left with less than she arrived with in belongings. Inside, she left with strength, determination to do what she had to, wanted to. Most of all she left with stillness. No longer a racing mind. No longer a terror of the key in the door. No more threats or delivery of nasty surprises to keep her “on her toes”. He awoke her strength hidden deeply away. He unwittingly gave her stillness. He kept everything they had so she could keep her stillness.

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2020

A wound too far

Hands gripping tightly so I see

Bone crunching bone

Nobody is talking about anything

Unless you’re the topic

And if they laugh it’s at you

You’re sure because it’s what they do.

She’s asks you quietly why they would

Eyes narrow in anger, suspicion

Turned on her because her words

Are what will always be known

Her opinions the most eminent

And she has something for all seasons

It matters not if it’s cutting, hurtful.

The girl turns away sighing

Another battle of wills to try and say

That the world doesn’t not turn

Around one woman or man

Every thought not about her

Still sure the whispers and smiles

The laughter is aimed at you.

From this distance I see the girl

Trying not to sigh or show anything

Which will be misconstrued or hurled

To her head at a later date

When you decide to deride her

Once more for not being the captive

Who is grateful for her tongues captivity

At some point she knows very soon

She will walk away not to return

Her binds have been broken

With your last savage words that tore

One wound too many.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2019

Chameleon

Opinions change to match the mood

Colours nailed to your mast have

Disappeared in a wink if you can see

A chance for getting something

Anything even if you don’t want it

It’s something gained to be shelved

With the dust and dirt you held onto

In case it came in handy.

Control of others your endgame

By play acting at being guileless

You were taught by a master of deceit

And you’re proud of the ability

To change for the audience

Putting on a coat that says you’re confused

Or a shawl that says I’m determined

And all the while there’s no real you left.

You forgot who you were or could be

When you decided to play the system

To suck everything dry from anyone

Willing to give a drop to the vampiric

Little knowing they’d be slowly worn

Away to nothing by a smiling face saying

It’s your fault for living better lives than me

As the chameleon changes once more.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2019

So you say

Keep believing in the good

It’ll all come right enough

See children with no food

And bodies wet with blood

But it’ll all work out in time

Everything will get better magically

So you say.

You can feel pity and do nothing

Say nothing because you don’t need

To worry if your own back yard

Is looking neat with poppies growing

Pretty as a picture grown for the dead

And you tell everyone you did your best

Or so you say.

Children washed up lifeless on beaches

Or in a box on a city street if they’re lucky

Convince yourself they all go back

To a safe warm bed, and a meal to eat

Before you have to consider reality

And then say you turned your caring back

So it’s not offensive

You see all the things going on

Kids in cages, bullets flying

Because extremists are taking over

But it’s nothing to do with you

Am I understanding that right?

When they knock at your door

Shall we ignore it as you’re taken away?

Oh it’s never going to happen to me

I hear you say.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2019

Broken man

A broken man skeletal but proud

Walks in daring anyone

To mention his weight loss

Haunted face deathly gaunt

Knowing each day brings him closer

To the end.

He knows what is happening

Will tell you after a drink

Wants no sympathy, fact dealing

So there’s not speculation

As he hears them discuss him

Talk about the ‘condition ‘

Coming to take the life he knew

Your words are not accurate

This thing filled him with stoicism

While eating away who he was

Wanting to tell them while asbestos eats

He can still hear every single beat.

Written about the close friend of my dad who was a fighter and battled asbestosis, a very brave man even as he was being broken down.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2019

Fooling all and none

He says he’s misunderstood and made

Into a devil of someone else’s choosing

As he fists hands and his woman bade

Face in sneering but charm oozing

Like an oily glut from his mouth.

He orders her to do something small

And it’d be easier to do himself

But he’s proving it just takes the call

For him to take precedence over herself

And she even considered dissent.

His words more chilling “she’ll learn eventually ”

To me “you all do, after you’re shown..”

Cold smile and words mock me

But eyes say loudly she you own.

I see her eyes and wonder if she’s quiet always

Or if she’s learned that silence is safe

Silence is the way to survive a day

And I’m asked later at another place

How I could stay in the house of a monster

Who thought he fooled all

But just because you choose not to see

Means only that you’ve chosen blinkers

You might not see the blood he spills

He still spills it saying it’s her, always her

She made him by whatever she didn’t do/say/think/like

He is fooling only himself

Your knowledge in silence is fooling all and none.

And he carries on knowing he has accomplices

She dreams at night of peace

No escape she will maybe see she needs to

She may leave it too late, could be you or me

Does it matter if she’s fooling all and none?

It may be all that keeps her alive.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2018

Destruction of the threat

Words dancing like squirrels feet

Scampering through my head

They go faster faster to a frantic beat

Do they lessen the sense of dread?

The words are my words

Thoughts are my thoughts

No longer like broken swords

Never again to be dulled with phrases

Such as maybe, could or ought.

You’ve misunderstood me long enough

I’ll fight until the death

The world where you threatened tough

Has ended and you misread my intent

Let me be very clear once friend

I’ve learned how to fight by stealth

This is not a quiet warning war of words

You have never seen me angry

It’s there for the times I need use it

I have gored like an angry bull

Through bigger not stopping at blood

Carrying on to destruction and only

The leftover strands of something once

Described as human

Do not keep pushing, poking, prodding

I may be a human of faith

Untethered I can become the savage animal

Who would heed your call for mercy?

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2018

Overflow

It’s dripping like a leaking tap

Into an old sink

Plink, plink, plop

Watch it filling over weeks, months

Drop of worry here

Splash of anxiety there

A potent salty cocktail

Built on volatility and fear

The dam sets up to burst.

When it’s time will you know?

No holding back the wave

As I’m overcome with the flow

I feel the overflow explosion

Words tumble out

Tripping over everything in the world

The salt is stifling my breath

And I sob like a child

Feel like a fool

As I am overcome

Until it has had it’s way

And left me a broken wreck

On the floor

Ailsa

©AilsaCawley2017

Wishing away

We’ve all done it before

Wished away hours, days, months.

I watch as you wish life gone

To cut short your endurance.

You chuckled like I’m still a silly child

Annoyed every word spoken is not believed.

The automatic yes of course you demanded

It brooks no questions, there are no answers.

That you can voice.

Tell the lies to yourself that all is well

Same old platitudes of being fine.

Even the ranks have closed around you

They know but won’t say

See but won’t look

Avoid my eye when answering simple things.

The barricades are up in the town where all’s well

Defences being built upon daily.

I see cracks in the veneer, a hand span

And know I’m not only a lone creature now

This black sheep that left the fold to live

But I’m a deserter whom none will hear.

As you close down your world almost announcing gleefully

That you’re closing shop, pulling shutters slowly

You know that I’m the one who can see you

And can do nothing as you fade away.

All carry on in unspoken agreement

Tiptoe around what you don’t want to see.

And carry on playing the same old game

Of everything’s wonderful in summer town.

Wishing and fading away.

Ailsa

©AilsaCawleyPoetry2017