You made the call.

Peel away the leaves.

Many of you read SignsA few of you stopped to venture your opinions of what the poem meant to you. A handful of you even rated it. Three posts could be born of this poem, but we are going to only use one to look at where the poem originated and how it applies to everyday. Ready to peel garlic?

shattered heartWe can blame it on Valentine’s Day. Nearly everyone who read this saw a broken relationship. Some saw it as a cheater. Most saw it told by a woman with a classic broken heart. Everyone felt the massive destruction. One person even said, It oozed with pain. That is a very astute observation.


Despite the rampant rumor truth circulating about me, there is a part of me (total weight 2.6 cc) which is not a sarcastic know-it-all. Signs came from that part. In the poem’s unabashed demolition, one point was stressed in the lead: If you do not know, ask. Every marketer in the crowd will admonish me for making a three-letter link. (Sticks out tongue.) The link is red.

The reason I left you the link to Merriam Webster (someone I would like to time travel to meet) was simply because some of the words in the poem did not use the American standard assumption, instead used the literal translation…the definition.

no sex please sign

No sex please…

Where most of you determined it was about a love affair was one word in the fifth stanza, one in the sixth and the sign at the end. I challenge you to read it again without the kiss-me version of romance in your head. Think of romantic as heroic, idealistic, adventuresome and/or imaginary (dreams). This one is not about sex.

While you are in the other tab, comment on the way it reads differently with that definition in your head. I will wait right here for you to come back. (Cues music, starts new pot of coffee, contemplates a meal, decides against it, looks at clock, plays with Grüber, looks at clock again.) Good, you are back. Now, it is my turn.

You were warned.

I gave you the heads up in the introduction this poem began with a symptom. I meant to test your diagnostic skills with the first five lines.

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Closing the eyes to block out visions and concentrate.
  • Needing the deep breath to calm down.
  • Tightness in the chest.
  • Throat closed.
  • Disorientation.

A quick consult of any medical website would render these symptoms indicative of heart attack, stroke, anxiety or asthma attack and allergic reaction. So far, so good.

but my brain doesn’t know how.”

This is cerebral. The brain is disconnected from the body. It is in self-preservation mode. This is adrenaline-fed, reactionary instinct.

It is wrapped around, or should I say…
Entangled in the morass left in your wake,
Trying to compute the enormous scope

Of the destruction and mayhem.”

tank firingSomeone has walked away. Let’s not use the sedate version. Someone has driven away in a tank, destroying everything in the path. Think gun barrel swinging from side-to-side to take out more.

All of the ideals I trusted, the truths I held,
The verisimilitude which gave me hope,”

This is the basic tenet system on which you operate. The things you knew you could count on, like the food in your favorite restaurant and your neighbor always cutting his grass on Thursday morning at eight o’clock. It is the rose-colored beliefs where you chose the good part of the truth to see you through to another day.

In the course of an afternoon exploded
Into countless pieces of shrapnel and debris,
Littering my landscape with romantic poison.”

All of the fortress is demolished in the course of a conversation. The revelation of a direct lie which is the foundation of your existence can bring it down all around you. The disappointment of finding Quaint (or Mate) is not joining you for a dream you have spent (hours, weeks, decades) planning for both of you can crack the wall. Discovering your mentor is a cheat rips the drawbridge off its hinges. Hold on to poison with the next segment.

Each fragment of my shattered heart is
Sharp and coated with euphemistic ooze,
Sticks to my hands, penetrating my skin.”

Sharp and coated with euphemistic ooze,…

What we believe is held romantically in our hearts, not our minds. Heart is the location of faith and trust. Both require investing emotional capital in an outside source without a logical explanation. When faith and trust are shattered, the vessel (heart) breaks. The pieces are poisonous.

Heartbreak, especially of the intellectual, idealist sort, is poisonous to the mind and the body. When one loses heart, interest, ambition, dedication and initiative are close casualties.

The term euphemistic was chosen with purpose. When mending the broken heart, the person who destroyed the landscape will speak about the demolition, minimizing culpability by shifting the blame to another outside source…or you. This downplay sees, and tries to show you, the bright side of the disregard, disrespect and disassembly of your world.

Even after the pieces are picked up, the words echo inside the mended, healing heart: louder when you are emotionally reminded, but still audible when you touch a portion of your fallen fortress.

In self-preservative awakening, I reach
For a broom to brush away the pain,
But the noxious fumes of frigidity

Stab through my nostrils and settle so cold
In my paralyzed lungs, longing for air.”

This is not going to cut it.

You recognize the need to extricate yourself from the pieces which will continually remind you of the tumbled walls and broken stones, even if you have not the strength to reach for the proper tools. The twisted beams will not brush away lightly, but they are not suitable for rebuilding. Neither is the weather.

The aftermath of idealistic devastation is emotional. You question yourself. When everything you trust is called into question, you doubt you have the judgment to see anything in the correct perspective. The self-doubt is noxious gas, too cold to breathe. You are still in the shifted grip of the anxiety.

My final moments laced with temerity

You drop the stones. You walk away from the mortar. You refuse to carry on with the rebuilding. You realize the temerity of what you are doing in the final moments of the battle.

My hands feverishly signing…not “help”,
Not “leave”, not “Don’t go”, not even “Screw you.”
Instead, over and over they profess”

Your mind and your heart are telling you this is wrong. After all of it is destroyed, there is still one fact which remains. All else has fallen, but the aggressor stands before you. You know you should strike out, beg for mercy, pray for an end to the mayhem. Something keeps you from doing all of those things:

The one fact no cataclysm can consume,
No exsanguination can extinguish.”

Even in a fiery explosion or the chill of bleeding to death, you still see the person you trusted with the keys to the fortress. You have heard the euphemisms, the platitudes, the self-loving decrying. There is one last hope you have to bring this person back to help you rebuild what was destroyed beneath the wheels and with the guns of the tank: There are still some fumes of emotional capital left in the aggressor’s  fuel tank, and the spark of your declaration will ignite them.

Without reciprocity, I still confess
I love you.”

Not for the Faint of Heart

As with much of the poetry I write, this was Mantra’s creation. A fellow author told me he had all these stories in his [sic] head, he [sic] need to let them out to make room for more. I physically laughed out loud and agreed I had the same thing, but with one caveat: Mine just rhyme.

It is not based on real life events. Instead, it is a representation of what lost identity can hold. It is about the power of the things we believe and how we mold them to protect us. I intentionally left out the images which would have given this poem away.

Garlic Pod

Big, lots of leaves and full of cloves.

This was truly a large pod of garlic. Each time you read it, you can interject a different you into the tank and the fortress will fall differently. The cloves are all different sizes based on the people you cast as the poem’s you. 

Your Version of Right

Regardless of my intent, each of you brought away something from the poem, which lets me know it either made you think (brain) or feel (heart), or both. Your reactions always let me know if it held something of value. Knowing what my explanation of it is, can you see how I got to my conclusion? Please do comment, even if it is just to tell me I got it wrong!

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. Great post, Red. Let me start by saying that the first person to vote on a blog almost always has to vote 5 Stars, because the blog writer will know who it is and what they voted! (note to code writer)

    As for poetry, I freely admit that I do not get it (is that a poem?). Not your poem,. poetry in general – i can do stuff like “the snowbanks were like waves frozen in time”, but poetry, not a chance. However, I do like the odd limerick now and then!

  2. I would hope everyone voting is leaving 5 stars 😉

    And I am so limerick-challenged. Never was good at them.

  3. You’re wrong. Just kidding. I’m going backwards, so now I’m off to read the poem.

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