Pain

At
the apex
of pain, my spirit
slips  to  a  safe  place;
watches  curtains  billow,
plucks daisies, thinks about cake,
then loses its kindly grip.

Always, when I fall,
I land on the
k
n
I
f
e
.

Each slash feels like
the worst

~ the final ~

the killer
c
u
t
.

I stagger to my feet,
disguise the festering gash across my face
so it looks like a smile.

Each time
I tell myself it will never
happen again.

I
t
will never happen
a
g
a
I
n
.

.

I was going through my poetry with a view to polishing up the best of it so I can submit some to literary magazines – that old chestnut; anybody who knows me well will be aware that I usually end up getting my knickers in a twist and losing confidence.

Oh well…

This poem shocked me, bringing back the memories, although none of it seems real now. I’ve edited it slightly – changed it from 3rd person to 1st person. Was that a good or bad idea? I originally wrote in the 3rd person in order to suggest it wasn’t about me – to separate myself from it. My gut feeling is that my original idea was better. Any suggestions?

Am I nearly there yet?

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

39 thoughts on “Pain

  1. I always think first person is more powerful, readers can actually feel for your words. The structure adds to the sharpness of your piece here, but I’m a terrible critic, I just like reading your poems. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Ivor. I used to like playing with the format, but I lost the will somewhere along the way. I once wrote a poem in the shape of a kneeling woman. Maybe I’ll repost it, seeing as I don’t seem to be writing much at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d like to see that… I writing a piece at the moment, it’s a bit strange, I went to a funeral last night(In my dreams), the funeral was mine !! and I’m walking around at the wake !!…..

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That IS strange Ivor – or it would be if anyone else dreamed it, but you sure have some unusual dreams 🙂

          I often dream that I’m looking after a baby. It’s so small that it fits in the palm of my hand, and when I put it down, I forget to pick it up again, and I can’t find it, which makes me feel really bad as it turns out it was someone else’s baby and they’re going to be mad at me.

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  2. I’m glad you wrote this in first person, it gives it an immediacy that would, I think be lost in the third person. I also like the way you shape the poem to mirror the build up and the fall. The shape effects the rhythm of the poem and focuses the reader on the word. Some people may say the vertical words are not necessary, sufficient to have the word on a single line. That may be the response of literary magazines, but I know what you are attempting to convey in the vertical shape.
    Writing about our own experience is always a scary thing because it makes us feel so vulnerable. In my experience, though, it helps the healing process for yourself and the reader. Poetry like this that is personal, deeply felt and openly revealing is the writing I admire and believe we need more of. It is in the sharing of our pain and hurt as much as our joy that we grow as humans and I thank you for sharing this. Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Jim. At the time when I wrote this poem I was going through a rough time – the worst in my life, and I wrote my way through everything. I think it helped, although it was also very revealing; I discovered some murky stuff from my childhood, which I’d blocked from my memory. It was painful, but I understand more about myself as a result.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad your writing helped, Jane. I have had a similar experience and have some quite painful pieces I wrote as well. Honesty and trust – those are the only things that truly help in the end. They help us to take the three steps to healing: understand, accept, let go. Your piece has actually helped me today to face a difficult time. I’ve not been able to write for some time but I think I may soon. Thank you.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m pleased that my poem helped you in some way.

          On a different subject – for some reason I can’t go straight to your site from my blog. I have to Google your URL to get there. Do you know if anyone else has that problem?

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  3. I, too, find it unnerving and scary to write about myself in first person but the most powerful poetry I have read is first person. I often wonder if the person is writing about themself, but it doesn’t seem to matter because if it is good, it is writing about a common human experience that we all feel along with the writer. The do remember some powerful third person writing but it was still first person sharing the experience of another that impacted the writer. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it makes sense.. Thank you for your helpful comment. I think that the choice of “me” or “you affects the way I write. If I use the 3rd person I can be more frank. Maybe the answer is to write it that way and consider editing it to 1st person later, like I did with this one.

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  4. It’s always a difficult decision for me too to figure out whether to write a poem in first or third person. Usually, I feel vulnerable expressing my feeling as my own, so I mask them as someone else’s.

    I think this poem is so vivid that both first and third person would work well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What you say about vulnerability; that’s exactly how I feel. Looking back over the poems I wrote during the most difficult phase of my life, I see that when I was both hurt and angry I wrote in the 1st person, but when I was totally demoralised by the hurt I wrote in the 3rd person.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Judy. You’re the first person not to have come down on the side of the 1st person. What I like about the third person is that it’s inclusive. It’s not saying “Look at ME. Look at MY suffering.” While it implies that I’m hurting it also implies that others suffer the same pain. It sidesteps self-pity.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a powerful poem!

    I think the first person makes it deeper and intense, giving it a sense of personal touch which is both tragic and beautiful at the same time. I don’t know if I am making sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank goodness I’m not there now. Laura is happily married. We’re celebrating an important anniversary tonight; it’s a year since she came of drug replacement therapy – and Paul has started a college course! He’s so much mere positive and happy since he started doing something.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was very hard to read, Jane, because it was about you, and I do not like to think of people I like suffering so much. Very powerful poem. Almost blinding.

    I can’t decide between first and third person. Both have their advantages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I wrote this, I knew wasn’t alone in my suffering. I didn’t want pity. I only wanted to make art out of anguish, and to reach out to others in similar situations.

      Do you think my choice of first person make me look self-pitying? If it does, I’ll switch back to third person.

      Like

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