Monthly Archives: July 2011


I feel your voice
like fingers on my face
each word traces a scar
The wounds are memory
but their ghosts torment
as I tremble, tongue of clay
and wish for rain
to hide in
Your words, your voice
your power
tear down my walls
again and again
and as I remember
moth-kiss touch
on twisted scars
of shame and terror
the weeping of the damned
is muted
to become only me
In the silence that is left
I feel your spirit
given freely
begin to teach mine
how to be free


© W.R.R. 7/29/2011
For Adam Lambert, “Outlaws of Love”


A human mask pasted
over a papier-maché man
broken, in places
from too much play


© W.R.R. 4/1/2003

Ius Primae Noctis

Shattered memory
Flotsam drifts in the mind
coming to shore in pieces
Fear rests in the marred hand
which rebuilds the ruin
Murdered innocence
in masquerade of love
enshrined in false truth
Mea culpa, mea culpa
Wind upon white sea
and wrath of gods
come to comfort thee
Deus vult
it is enough to be
food for Acheron
Led bleeding
from abyss to abyss
while angels sing
Deus nobis haec otia fecit
So ends the lesson


© W.R.R. 4/2/2003

Stepping Stones – An Open Letter to Anyone in Pain

There are times when I wish I could trade identities, my entire life, with any random passerby on the street. The feeling comes when the past intrudes on the present, making a mockery of any kindness or wisdom offered by others. The past… breathes… in those moments. If you’re lucky, it’s only moments; not hours, days, months… a lifetime. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I know there are others who have it worse, who are so lost in the ugliness they can see no light, no joy. Some are so damaged they don’t know themselves, can’t express, or even grasp, their own pain, even their own names. Yet at times, I don’t know why I am not among them, unsure of how I escaped. If I knew, I would try to tell them, to whisper in their ears in the hope of helping them out of such a black hell.

Wisdom warns of course, admonishes. Those passersby I wish to trade with? A gamble with your sanity, health, and soul stacked like the lowest chips, the ones not worth winning solely because you were willing to sell them so cheap. The wisdom is this: That man waiting for the bus? He may have cancer, with a month left to live. That woman, checking her grocery list? Perhaps she hates her children. That child trying to grasp the hem of her coat, dried tears on cheeks no hand has ever wiped away? If you were ever that child in your own life, you know that’s a fate you don’t want; it might be worse than your own.

The true horror of wishing is, if it were possible, the person I chose would have my life, my past, my pain. The mirror reminds me what I would be wishing on them, and if I think about it too much, it makes me feel sick. That gamble goes both ways: what if that man, that woman, that child are happy, unmarked by the depths of adversity and terror that made you want to wish your life on another? How could you consider it, and remain worthy of any kindness, any love, at all?

In the light, I am grateful I cannot wish this trade of lives. In the dark, if you can see at all, it’s hard to care how escape from it might harm another.

What is the answer to the wish, then, how do we who writhe and cry in the pit of the past unravel this Gordian Knot and find a measure of peace? Of solace? The answer is clear to those with a few steps along the path. We must try to live, to turn our backs on the pain, not listen when the past whispers that we are ugly, we are unworthy of love, of light, of peace.

If somebody afraid to begin their own walk down the path of survival asks, “How?” I can only say that the way is different for all of us, but for me, I work at becoming the man I wish I was, and if that sometimes means pretending I am that man when I’m not quite there yet, then that’s what I do. Find somebody you admire, somebody you trust, and discover why they make you feel that way. I call them stepping stones on the path. When you can’t move, they can offer a hand, help you up; and step by step, it gets better.

Who are your stepping stones? Are they your family? Or your new family, the one you make for yourself if your birth family created the darkness? Are they people you never met, or met only once and that person was kind? I’ve had many stepping stones over the years as I’ve struggled along my path out of the darkness. At this moment in my life, it is a man I’ve never met. Sometimes this man makes me afraid because of my past, but he doesn’t know that, and he is innocent of my pain, my fear. He doesn’t know I exist, of course, but that doesn’t matter. In my mind, I see him reaching down from the next step up, offering his hand. With a smile, a bell toll of laughter, a beauty that pierces my soul, and a voice that makes my heart bleed even as it begins to dance, to cry, to heal – this man’s name is Adam Lambert. For others, it might not be, it can be anybody. Understand, the person you choose isn’t required to do anything except be who they are; they don’t owe you anything at all. It’s just their example, the qualities they possess that your trying to create in yourself. Choose wisely.

For those not yet on the path, those so lost in the dark they only want to stop; stop trying, stop breathing, because it’s the only way you can see to stop your pain? Please take my hand. I’ll try to guide you in moments when I’m strong, and someday you will become strong enough to turn around and perhaps offer your hand to me when I’m weak, or to somebody else who needs your help, who admires how you helped yourself survive.

This is how you start. Take my hand; be careful, there’s a step here, just a small one. Let’s walk together for a while. Even in the dark, we can feel each other’s touch, hear a friendly voice, listen to another soul breathing, trying, one who understands how you feel.

Before I go, let me ask this question: Has anybody ever said to you, “I love you”, “you’re beautiful”, “you’re worthy of love”? If not, let me say it now. You are beautiful. You are worthy of love, and somebody loves you.

© W.R.R. 6/8/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

Last Breath

If I gave you my last breath
would you want it?
I could release it
to no one but you
If I gave you my soul
would you save it?
I still feel it sometimes
weary and bruised

If I gave you my heart
would you take it?
It’s battered and cold
but still beats for you
If I gave you my body
would you keep it?
The lattice of scars
remembers your touch

If I gave you my mind
would you break it?
Your voice still echoes
in its hollowed halls

Come for me
take me down
let me breathe
into you
my last breath

Run from pain
hide in death
undying stain
this last breath.


© W.R.R. 12/31/2003


Soft as gossamer
draped over your heart
over your lips
love sparks
as dew upon the rose
until warmed by the sun
it joins the air
to be breathed into you
as I was
years ago

Time leads us on
gossamer touch
until the unknown slips in
to cover our eyes
Come what may my love
my heart shall dance
clothed in sparks and gossamer
waiting, breathless
to be breathed into you
over and over again


© W.R.R. 12/23/2010

For Those Without a Voice

An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
By W.R.R.

A million voices are offered up to you anytime you speak and I know you won’t see my words whispered back to you amidst the flood. It makes me timid, makes me think my words aren’t worth notice, and then the thought creeps in, “I’m not worth it.” This is a learned response, taught by an abusive father. What I want to say to you, some of it’s ugly, but it’s my ugliness, my perception. So let me say at the outset that there is no blame here, nothing you need to do; it’s more for me. Sometimes the words, the emotions, have got to come out or they’ll tear your spirit. I know you know what I mean. You once told your vocal coach you needed to sing your pain for her, so will you let me?

Metaphor mocks me. I can’t sing, some days I can barely speak due to serious injury at four years old, at the hand of a man society tells me was a monster. I can’t think that way; as a child he was all I knew, so I’ll just say, please forgive me that I can’t use music to soften this, or speech to make it less stark.

My family loves you, but at first you frightened me for several reasons. There are similarities you see, between my father and my muse. You don’t really look like him, it’s a black hair, blue eyes, cheekbones thing – height, power of presence, confidence, spiked humor. The first time I was shown a video of you prowling around a stage like a predator, I felt an irrational dread. A choking, sinking fear filled my mouth, throat… my mind. My friend asked later why I didn’t just ask someone to turn it off, but she can’t understand – no one can if they haven’t been there, endured abuse like that. You’re not allowed to look away unless you’re told. It was like a trance that made the past rise up and take me over, part of me waiting for you to bark an order, to demand that I submit and accept whatever you wanted from me. You never spoke, of course, and the strange feeling faded, left me trembling in its wake.

Bravado, pure lying foolishness, helped me hide my pain and fear. I told my family of friends that I didn’t care for you. “Nice voice, sure, but not attracted,” and other lies. The man I’ve struggled to become out of the shell-shocked ruins of the child I was can’t afford to admit the truth about some things. Fear waits there if you do, and harm follows fear.

Your voice tormented me. It was too like that other voice, lilted and beautiful, assured and magnificent. Your face shamed me, ethereal beauty like his, unmarked, perfect; your body like a living statue. Did you know men that look like that were carved in stone in the ancient world and set on real pedestals to give their people something they could dare to look at and live?

I’m a man of ragged spirit, scars, missing pieces and tatters of flesh left to heal at last when the game of my childhood was over. Monocular vision is barely enough to take in your beauty, enduring the twist in my gut at the sight of the light glowing in your perfect eyes, as blue as his.

This is not to cry out horrors like a wounded Greek chorus, or to imply any resentment for the good fortune you have in both family and life. I just want to help you understand how it feels now, to look at you, and feel like I’m not worthy to tell you how I feel.

What changed? Hearing your voice sing of it being okay to shatter, that you would be a safe place to break open and be afraid, that no harm would come. I was about to give up after violence done to me brought my past back up to choke me like bile of the mind, scars on the soul. Your voice stopped me, soothed, made me feel safe in the midst of feeling broken. Your voice told me I could break, and mend, and it didn’t have to be the end of me. I know I have a long road ahead of learning how to heal from my past; it’ll probably take my whole lifetime. Yet I have an amazing example now, showing me how to keep fighting, as well as how to be vulnerable when I need to, without risking everything.

I guess I could have boiled all this down to one word: thanks. You hear that so much, though, you must. Not to diminish the word, but I wanted to melt the blockage of fear that chokes me whenever I think of speaking to you; I wanted to try to explain. It’s all moot, though, in the end; the fear is so strong – and I know I’m not the only one whose tongue turns to clay sometimes. So I’ll just tell you this – you saved a lot of us. Either by the beauty of your voice, your spirit, or both – you saved us by giving us hope, a positive example, and a foreign but vital taste of joy.

Odd thing is, I have no idea how to end this except by using that one word. Maybe now it has a little more weight? No less heartfelt, with or without that. Thanks, Adam; even though I pale at the thought of ever facing you, I can admire you from a distance and try to support what you’re doing as best I can. Why? Because what you’re doing reaches people, gives them hope and joy, just by being the man you are today… and the man you’re going to become tomorrow.


© W.R.R. 5/4/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.


Love the viper
hold it to the breast
refashion pain to joy
and kiss the devil’s tongue
as poison creeps
through chilling vein
and all is set
ready for the loam
The bones whispered warnings
but blood and love are fools


© W.R.R. 8/9/2005


Curling in the veins
a lust like no other
rends, tears, crushes
ripped from the ribs
heart blood drips
turns life to meat


© W.R.R. 7/29/2005

Broken Things

Take them by the hand
lead them to the light
lift them to be healed
in soft and cleansing night
Believe in change
the song the siren sings
but toss them up
to catch the wind
and they fall like
broken things


© W.R.R. 7/15/2005

Of Dreams And Dust

No finer wine than love
to drug the mind and
soothe the pain
but the press is still
the barrel webbed
and all sweet grapes decayed
Lift the empty glass to memory
to hope and need turned rust
and speak of a love that ended love
the death of dreams, and the taste of dust


© W.R.R. 6/10/2005

Fractured Soul

A fractured soul
with labored breath
awaits the dawn
but no sun rises; no wind soothes

What tattered angel will save
the lost one who dreams of death?
Can Heaven hear the cry
of the damned?


© W.R.R. 6/5/2005


What the hell is that?
Get your filthy carcass out of my sight.
He’s crazy… you listening to me, you little bastard?
Look at that. LOOK at it. Look, damn your eyes…
You had it coming, you fucking dirty faggot.
Get him out of here, dammit, not fit for dirty animals.
Say it… SAY IT. Guess you need another.
You’re not fit to, that’s why.
Shut your disgusting hole. You got to respect your elders.
Open your mouth again, boy, and see what I put in it.
He’s crying for attention. You shut him, or I’ll do it good.
I am your God, you hear me? Better pray I’m a nice one, boy.
When I say, bitch, and that little bastard of yours better keep still.
You’ll eat it, or I’ll see you red…
I got to start on the other side soon, boy. You’re lop-sided.
Don’t move, you filthy girl, or I’ll cut it. It’s no use to you anyway.
You twitched good. That was a good time. Got to remember that.
Why the fuck are you still breathing?


© W.R.R. 10/19/2002


Ganymede descends
and I care not if I am damned
for Heaven opens to me
at your gates
and all of love I drink
from the Fountain of Youth
in your heart
held out to me
in trembling hands
Ganymede arise
take my soul
in your sacred cup
and in defiance
of the laws of men
a garden shall we make
of Hell


© W.R.R. 1/31/2005

Little Things

As a child, I used to not understand love. It was something that didn’t enter my world unless it was attached to something else. There was a neighbor; he loved his fancy riding lawn mower. I never knew him, and he didn’t know I existed; but my mother would point out the window and say, “He loves that lawn mower.” As verbs go, it meant little to me, but I slowly gathered that it was a positive emotion for the person who felt it.

There was a figurine on the bookshelf. It was from my maternal grandmother (the same woman who couldn’t be bothered with my mother or me). My mother said often that she “loved” it. It was porcelain, a lady in a big dress and bonnet, like Scarlet from Gone with the Wind. I often wanted to look at it up close. I had the odd idea that a real girl might be trapped in it (not so weird for a little boy). I wanted to see if her expression was happy or sad. Did she know my mother loved her? So several times, she caught me trying to climb up to look at it.

One day, it was broken and she assumed I did it. I knew I hadn’t, but there was no way to prove it, and I didn’t think that way, anyhow. There was no defiant standing up for myself. When my father came home, I admitted to breaking it when he asked, because he was angry. He was usually angry. The look of anger and disappointment on my mother’s face was terrible. I had to clean up the mess, but I found out one thing: the lady had been smiling, sort of one of those serene smiles. I palmed her face, a tiny happy expression painted in black on crazed porcelain. I hid it in my room.

That night, my mother didn’t come in to read with me. She used to get in the bed and read out loud. My father said she was sick when I crept downstairs to ask, and then threatened me for asking. I fled back upstairs and went to their room. Her bottle of medicine was on the nightstand; I later learned it was called wine.

My father called me downstairs and told me to do stuff, lots of little stuff. It was odd. He never wanted me around. The whole time he watched me, and I was nervous; I thought he’d tell me I was doing things wrong. Finally, he told me to go up to bed. I woke in the night and saw him standing in my doorway. I got up and waited, expecting him to tell me to do something. Then he said, “I broke it.” Somehow I knew he meant the figurine. He told me he broke it because she loved it, and I should be careful, because he could break me too. He smiled and said, “It’s the little things.” I didn’t say a word, just nodded that I understood him, as I’d been taught.

He told me to go to sleep, but I only pretended, because he stood there watching me for a long time and it scared me. When he finally left, I fished the little porcelain face out of its hiding place. I set it on the cover of one of my big books and stared at it. The smile was the same – serenity, peace. I picked up another book and crushed it into white power. The smile was gone, but I didn’t feel the same way about it anymore.

Something had changed in the house, but I didn’t understand what it was or what it meant. It was vague, a menace like an aftertaste. I started having nightmares about being pushed off of a shelf. I’d shatter into so many pieces, but the circle of my white face with its black paint expression was always whole, its serene smile an artistic lie. I felt these dreams intensely; I’d even wake up in pain.

That next week, my mother waited for my father to go to work and then she gathered me up and we drove to a shop. She put me down inside, and I found myself surrounded by porcelain figurines, and even dolls – some as big as me. They stared with blank eyes, and smiled serenely. I don’t remember deciding or making a choice, I just remember my mother screeching at me to stop and the angry shouts of the shopkeeper. When I did stop, I was holding a wooden cane a gentleman doll had been holding. I was surrounded by porcelain shards, bits of cloth, and white powder.

My mother made me drop the cane, and then she grabbed my shoulders and shook me. She asked me why I did it. They didn’t understand that I was telling a truth too big for me to understand yet. All I said was, “Little things.”


© W.R.R. 7/25/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.