Category Archives: ismenes survivable resistance


the familiar grave grit in my eyes

a forgotten unbroken roar of ocean under skin

betrayal caught in the blades of the ceiling fan

I open the curtains to the forgiving page

the storm in a cradle

the flickering leaves aflame

the bed porous

I remake movement every morning

poured into the shape of a shelter

from shame

a cup of hands

I cannot remember without a swallow

solitude a cool glass of water

unkinking the hose

after too many coffees

watering plants bathed in light

she got too close to the dying enquiry                              

it reignited

her throat caught fire breathing the text

a cup of water poured over the drain and constricted larynx

nobody listened to the content of my mother’s complaint

I did but she didn’t see me

the rain came down with the words

From Claire Gaskin’s collection, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance.

Ismene reads her psych’s book on dissociation

the mattress holds the heat of the mind haunted
e dream-rivers reason with the tree roots to remember
the cradle flinches in the breeze fracturing
holding through the night of nights de-realized
this journey does not involve going anywhere fragmented
my mind outside my body having a body is to blame

pulling the rip cord of silk self-blame
not present feels like I am ghosting haunting
my skin alight with the pain of a refrain fragment
blood to forgiveness throbbing in my knuckles remembered
narratives run through my fingers de-realized
time calculated in the imprint of my face as the clay fractures

the stone dropped into the pool of my pelvis fracturing
I forgive you father for you have sinned and are to blame
the glass of water on the window sill reacting to the foundations de-realized
I am matter I do matter I am a spirit haunted
thrown into the sea of ancestors remembered
my feet are rubbed out as the waves fragment

the ticking of the passing bike in winking time fragments
I see the effect but not the cause fracturing
the floors worn through in a puddle of raw wood to remember
my hands mangled birds the weather blames
you cannot perceive the imperceptible through perception but meaning is a haunting
awareness is one thing action is another substituting is depersonalisation

disintegration of identity experience de-realized
how traumatised people talk in sentence fragments
a demolished base is not a safe haunt
scenes flash topic switching and my credibility fractures
the two major tasks in life are to love and to work not to be blamed
the more severe the less remembered

I fight through the curtains to get into my psych’s room to remember
the smell in the dark of my mother’s wardrobe their bedroom depersonalised
it’s harder to be autonomous when the culpable don’t take the blame
in murky water hair in waving reeds submerged trees and bone fragments
on the surface of the lake the clouds fracture
wanting it to be other than it is doesn’t stop the truth haunting

a poem is re-membering in collaged fragments
limits de-realised from forming fatigue fractures 
a child with no outline feels to blame it is an oceanic haunting

From Claire Gaskin’s collection, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance.

Ismene in a Twelve Step Programme

I can tell you about powerlessness

step one

knowing it is going to happen and being able to do nothing

Antigone chooses to die rather than survive abuse

pinned down his sweat dripping in my face

saying you may as well enjoy it

something severed it

wasn’t love and sex it was abuse from love

he didn’t love me

all my abusers before that had loved me

I dreamt I was walking through the rubble of my family home

seeking shelter there

I loved them that is what children do

consequences of knowing things I could not believe

I had sex again with him to make him feel

I could have learnt

not spent a life trying to make my abusers love me

if I’d been able to be present

my boyfriend’s parting words it’s not the same

he came back thirty-three years later

said he could have dealt with it better

believing it I knew it was not true

sitting on the steps of ourselves

cleaning my feet

constantly re-traumatising each other

I did my best not to survive it

meet and repeat the annihilation in addiction

I am here because I know about a life time of refusal

I dreamt I was painting

I wasn’t in control of my medium and I had the wrong brushes

you don’t have to believe to pray

survival is the radical act

wasn’t I reason enough for her to stay alive

what is survivable resistance

Polynices was already dead

I know the Greek Tragedy thing once it is set in motion it must play out

but I’m still here to feel the sun on my body and the water to witness my blaring heart

my abuser was giving me admission

something my family could never give me

I have to grip the arms of my chair to stay present

I use sex to avoid intimacy

did she love Polynices more than life

is that love

she made him her god

I get that she felt like he was irreplaceable

what was I

but so was she


I could bury my dead in private

she needed it to be seen by other 

is to survive it to comply

she died to what they call sanity logic law so I could live

she covered up that the first burial was mine

I couldn’t stay in the house with Creon

I took off

got as far as Sydney before I met someone

we swam drank had lots of sex moved on to the next beach whenever we wanted

a job at a magazine the editor had sent everyone out

lying on a hot rock by black water

the sound of metal bowls being placed on the ground

I am left I am what is left

my body a bargain with presence

where things move in the breeze

it was the gaze of the train

the inevitability

the lake hollows the sound of voices

From Claire Gaskin’s collection, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance.