One Petal

Posted: July 13, 2010 in Poetry, The Recipe
Tags: ,

CONTEXT: May, 2010

Well, I WROTE it in May, but the real context is in February. That is when the Recipe went on a tour of Southern Ontario. We did three nights in London – Burlington – London (opening for C.R. Avery one night then featuring at Slams the next nights), then it was back to Ottawa for a workshop and show, then back for shows in Mississauga and Toronto, finishing with a workshop and performance at a school in Markham.

The tour was fun but it was the school show in Markham that set my brain spinning. The format was a workshop first followed by a quick set from us and a set by some of the students. Then we shifted to the cafetorium 🙂 for more from students and another set of ours.

The students blew my mind, end to end. The ability to open up like they did… well, just let me say that I certainly couldn’t have done that when I was their age.

Who really blew my mind was a kid after the workshop. There isn’t a whole lot to tell that I didn’t put in the poem. I should say, however, that I am attributed a lot of stuff to him that might say more about me than him. The poem line is his, though, and as inspiration goes, it was a doozy.

    One Petal

Students, teenagers, poets –
One after another
Stepping up to roll out their
Words – no judges but
All judged by a jury of their
Peers, peering into the hidden
Places, normally protected by
Fire and stone – flint and steel.
A name is called and up steps
A shadow, melting out of the
Crowd, edges sharpening
Under the flourescent gaze
Of laser eyes.
He was slight and stooped,
Curved in on himself like a
Question mark looking for answers
Without knowing what to ask.
His eyes were ellipses, looking
For their third, staring resolutely
Into the industrial carpet, trod
Thin by those such as him.
His voice creaked under the strain
Of forcing words past his teeth.
He said, “This flower only has
one petal and I always start with
‘She loves me not’.”
The student-poets applauded while
The poet-students buckled under
The weight of his words.
Peeling off a single layer of
Secrets, peeking into a soul,
Raw – fresh and tender –
Kicked aside – unnoticed.

Here is the greatest tragedies
Of our times – writ large,
Yet unread.
This 21st century Tommy
Looking for anyone to reach
Out to. ‘See me’, he cries.
‘Touch me’.

The smallest affection, well meant,
Can sooth the deepest affliction.
Descartes replaced by
‘I feel, therefore I am’
But his eyes, when you can
Catch them, show that he
Has learned that feeling
Means feeling pain and
Feeling nothing feels worse
Than not feeling.

He moves back to his seat
And the next Saul, Shane or Ursula
Steps up.
He vanishes back into himself –
Into safely hidden nooks of quiet screaming.
The door slams behind him
As even this small glimpse
Could expose him.
He sits – still
But shaking. Terrified but

No one can understand the
Singularity of the walls
When looking at legions of
The girl in the bathroom
Convinced that people will notice her
If she can find another pound
To lose.
The boy who tests the sharp
Edge, looking for the thin
Red line that tells him to
Drinking into the sensation of
Nightmare-dripping pain –
Wondering where bravery lies –
Cutting deeper or putting down
The knife.

But this isn’t darkness.
It is light sneaking through
Clasped fingers,
Venetian blinds glued into place,
And a question mark looking
For answers, in a garden
Of his own making.
He absent-mindedly plucks petals,
“I love me. I love me not.”
Losing count when he forgets
What there is for him to love.

He leaves one petal,
Waiting for a reason to start
At a different place –
Someone who can find her way
Past his iron wrought gates
Threaded through with barbed wire and chain link.
Someone with a bag of seeds
To plant his garden with
Daisies, Roses, Ivy.
He has his own watering can
And she brings the sunshine.
Then we can sit back
And just watch them grow.


Next is a riff on a poem by Danielle Gregoire.

  1. […] pieces I performed were: Shadow Boxing, One Petal, Trapeze Artist, A Van Full of […]

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