I don’t know how to get back to the secret place
which made my protective wall crumble;
where my emotions had been buried,
words had been stored.
Pain pills and vodka allowed me access
to the part of me I thought was long lost.

It was a moment in time, where all the conditions
were met for my unveiling;
a few months of my life,
that I have been chasing now for years,
with little success.

The wall has been rebuilt.
Words, trapped.
Feelings entombed in safety.
I am quiet, once again.

Desperate Days

I look at you,
with no recognition
of the man you used to be.

This green side of you
dulls the shine.

I’ve buffed and stroked the tarnish
to a gleam, but it seems
the patina is worn.

Years of wear and neglect
have etched its weary lines
into the marriage.

Ease and comfort
have slowly replaced passion
and dreams.

Desperate ways have become
the rhythm of the daily beat.

Disappointment and pain
have fueled the hours.

Darkness cloaks desire,
hushes broken hearts
and wounded egos.

Midnight passion clutches our loins.
Our hearts and bodies unite,
until sunlight glares
and the truths of yesterday face us,
ugly in the light of day.

© PB – 2006

Say Cheese

The nuns loom,
shadows in black,
wings on their heads.

Stern voices scold,
“Sit still. Don’t be a baby.”
I can’t control myself, and tears spill.

I feel rubber fill my mouth;
steel clamps screwed onto my jaw.
I feel my lips crack,
and a voice in my mind screams in terror–
and I am gone…

I look down and see me,
white-knuckled, eyes scrunched tight.

The dentist enters the room,
jovial, laughing.

I hear the nuns cackling,
and the whirring of the drill kicks in.
I smell burnt bone, teeth.

I close my eyes and ears,
but I can’t get that horrid stench and sound
out of my head– even now.

That pearly white smile.
The enemy: the dentist.

Artist: unknown

The Girl Who Was Pearl

The foreboding stone building loomed before us, like a giant monster. I held on tightly to my mother’s hand, as we walked up the stairs and into the building. My knees were shaking, and my stomach did flip-flops.

School–Grade One. We had only been in Canada for a few months. I only knew a few basic English words, and I was terrified.

I had never seen so many kids–shrieking, chasing each other, playing ball. We entered the Principal’s office, and I remember how icy my hands were. The teacher led me to the classroom, all the while chattering away. I didn’t understand a word. She showed me to a desk near hers, and I obediently sat down. My parents tried to speak in halting English and hand gestures, and they gave the principal some papers. I heard my name and saw the principal shaking her head. “Pearl”, she said. She pointed to me, and repeated the name.

My parents told me in Swiss, that I was now going to be called “Pearl”. I hated that name. It wasn’t my name! I began to cry, as my parents left. The teacher tried to console me, when the bell rang, and the room filled with kids. They all stared at me, snickering and pointing. I felt overwhelmed with shame. I wished I was invisible. The teacher introduced me, and class began.

The rest of the day was a blur, as were the next few weeks. I learned English more and more each day, but the feeling of being an outsider stayed with me. I felt so disconnected. At lunchtime, we ate downstairs in the gymnasium. I would sit in the corner, trying to blend in with the walls.

I made a couple of friends, eventually, but was so intimidated by larger groups of kids. With every laugh I heard, I thought they were laughing at me. With every stare, I thought something was wrong with me. I never felt good enough. I felt ugly. I didn’t feel like a gem.

Pearl was just my mask. Piroska was a ghost, waiting for her turn to belong.

We moved that summer, so I was back to being Piroska, in the new school. I regained my missing identity. But my little ego never did recover. School would forever be a painful experience.

Lady Day

In honour of Billie Holiday, born April 7, 1915


Her mother was only 13, and her father, 15,
when she was born–Eleanora Fagan.
Short on money and love, her mom sent her away.

She scrubbed floors at a cathouse for 15 cents.
The perk was that she could listen to Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith records, drowning out the noises of reality.

She learned early, that if she didn’t give it up,
men would just take it by force.
When she did speak up, no-one believed her,
and they locked her up in a Girl’s Detention Home.

She returned to live with her mother,
but love was nothing more than a wish.
Her mother got her a room in a brothel, and before long
innocence was a painful memory.

She began to sing for tips.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,
the night she sang Body & Soul.

Now, everybody wanted her.
They clamoured to hear the charmed voice
of Billie Holiday.

But the hard life caught up with her,
and she slipped into the addict’s life.
Married life wasn’t the answer, either.
While her mobster boyfriend did get her clean,
she paid by being his punching bag.

Twice, she tried and failed at marriage.
Men continued to break her heart.
Her only solace was booze, opium,
and finally, heroin.

Her soul was now shattered; her prison stints
cost her the Cabaret Card,
and she could no longer perform in clubs.

She was worn down and finally succumbed to her fate.
Prison life broke her spirit,
and her body followed.

She was 45, when she died.

July 17, 1959: The day the Lady
sang her last blues.

When Loss of Focus Invades the Creative Spirit

I’ve always been a focused person. Not necessarily in my thinking of “everyday” stuff (I’m quite scattered regarding those)…but with crafts, I never used to have a major problem. I’ve been cross-stitching for over 35 years, and usually, getting most of the pieces finished. Not framed, necessarily, but the bulk of the work done. Same with crocheting. I’ve done many afghans over the years, doilies to make my granny proud, and various other crafts.

But when it comes to the internet, I become totally ADD. I go online, with the intent to read a few stitching blogs. Click a couple of sites off their blogs, and now I’m in quilt land. Wonderful! I’m amazed at the beautiful quilts, and I’m all geared up to begin one myself.

Click a few more links…voila! I’m in miniature land. I am so inspired by what I see, and I want to try my hand at making itty-bitty furniture…and dolls. Never mind that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be!

Click, click…and now I’m back to cross stitch blogs.
I’m exhausted! I’ve lost my steam.
It takes all my effort to pry my fingers off the keyboard, pick up my stitching, and focus. At this rate, I will never get my projects finished.

I need to set my sights (and energy) on smaller projects. Pressing and framing my finished work.

Another finished piece, needing to be pressed and framed–The Great Horned Owl, from “Eagles and Owls” by Cross My Heart.
Let me tell you, never again! Over 60 colours, blends of browns, grays. Hardly a few stitches in the same area, then colour change. Next time I get the urge to do “nature”, I’ll get me head examined, instead!

It will be beautiful when it’s hanging on the wall, though.
Worth every second!

Chickadees – “Sitting Pretty” pattern by Valerie Pfeiffer
From pattern – “Berry Chick-Chat” by Valerie Pfeiffer

First days in Vancouver

I could feel my mother’s sadness–
it filled the room like a thick fog.

I stared out the hotel window
and saw nothing but gloom and grey;
the rain ran in rivulets down the pane,
like the tears on my mother’s face.

Vancouver was an ugly city,
to my five-year old eyes.
The buildings were huge concrete monsters,
and the constant sounds terrified me.

Horns beeped incessantly; police sirens shrieked.
The sound of people rushing about–
the buzzing of busy-ness.

My parents would take us for walks,
but it was hard not to get soaked,
dodging huge puddles,
and I couldn’t get the stench
of worms out of my head.

I wanted to hear the pealing of church bells,
feel the rounded cobblestones
beneath my feet.

I missed the green meadows,
alpen wildflowers,
and going for walks with my granny.

I missed…
my old life.