The Needle and the Damage Done

Songs possess the power to take me
back in time, drop the needle
onto spinning vinyl, crackle and pop
of a generation;

Subjective as memory can be,
the body does not lie and it is this
visceral recall a tune nudges into being,
cruising in that little red Rambler,
elbows out roll-down windows,
heads pumping time to the radio,
cigarettes dangling from youthful lips,
ringed fingers and doll-shiny hair,
metallic twist of lighter extracted and held
lightly to the end, igniting thin paper rolled
around pungent acrid tobacco drawn
into perfect lungs, damage furthest
from our minds in what is
often termed reckless youth;

How feckless we were, body and soul,
squeezing life for all it could offer
and still ravenous for more, Ripple wine
behind reeking dumpster on the eve
of the new year, heedless of anything
close to symbolic, damn the consequences,
steamrolling ahead into Hendrix and Joplin,
her choices supplanting my own
tender folk poets;

Oblivious as her one-armed stepfather
slunk up next to my prostrate form, asleep
on her cream-colored bedroom carpet,
desperate grapple at his own aborted
youth stitched into the present
before war tore heart and limb asunder,
my repulsion far from the feverish response
of his fantasies;

Now her mother, nicotine-stained Cheshire
cat grin slowly spreading, silly man’s minor
mishap, attempt at smoothing over life-
altering insult, guiding him and his tented
pajamas back to marital bed if not bliss;

No apologies on the bacon and egg morning,
coffee and cigarettes, overflowing amber
glass ashtrays obliterating any trace
of semen smell, small miracle as olfactory
far outstrips deep-rooted traces that vaporize
like smoke into the ethers of rolling time.

22 thoughts on “The Needle and the Damage Done

  1. feeling tremendous respect, and a kind of bottomless space in my center, as your graphic episode brings the past to life. such contortions All-Oneness awareness demands of our psyche and heart. no wonder we become feckless, we seek submergence. you are a supreme hero full of grace. stride on, shining one. stride on.

    1. Overflowing gratitude for your interpretation of youth’s confusing events; like another lifetime really. You are so incisive, seeking submergence indeed, what powerful intuition into life-altering events that yes, serve to shape our humanity and spiritual maturity when we are able to transcend the bog of betrayal seeping from those empowered to protect. I suspect when you and I pull up even in some parallel world one day there will be instant recognition. You have contributed significantly to my own deeper awareness of purpose in this life. I shine because I reflect the light of beacons such as yourself. Aloha, magical one. Many thanks. πŸ™πŸ½

      1. i suspect you are right. humbled by your kind words and consider our connection mutually evolutionary and certainly marked by magical moments. aloha, bela. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, I think one either deepens into some sort of understanding or one gets whacked sideways into another paradigm entirely. I am lucky I was open to the former. Mahalo for the tender comment, BN. ❀

  2. Wow, Bela! Your imagery, the details – they all take me back. I remember, I remember. And we both survived. Those were the times that frightened some, and emboldened those of us with strong spirits. Ultimately that’s what it was….a time of self-revelation, if we were lucky.

    1. Yes. And for some, the damage was just too severe. I get it. And as was all too common, this was but one incident. There were others. Patriarchy needs to die a swift and ignoble death – it’s time. Time to rise as One People and stop the bullying on all fronts. Aloha, Betty. ❀

      1. I don’t know about our generation of women, born on the tail end of the 40’s and 50’s – a time when alcohol and ass-grabbing were part of the workday and women were seriously objectified. I don’t know if our daughters really understand the legacy handed them by women who had had enough of that particular status quo. They are lucky to be born into a time when they will be taken seriously, at least most of them, if such instances occur.

        Many of my high school friends went on attempting to recreate the same roles their mothers played and likely expected their daughters to do the same. But SO many of us sought to protect young women with all our might, remembering being disbelieved and/or scorned by our own supposed protectors when abuse was reported. So as I say, I get it when some of our generation of women simply could not pick up the pieces. Strange times, but then again, I think we are each of us born into a time we are made for, in a sense. And breaking barriers matures us in unexpected ways.

  3. I share your perspective and agree with you. And you’re right, most young women today can’t imagine how it was in our day. (As for abuse, we were ingrained with the idea that anything bad that happened to us was our own fault….and so most of us never reported it. We were ashamed when we shouldn’t have been.)

    Anyway, a topic for the times, as we continue to move forward. (In spite of the continued resistance….)

    1. Betty, you are so right – must be our fault, the short skirt we wore for our own pleasure was of course donned with the sole purpose of attracting male attention. And who could we have reported anything to, back in those days?

      I am glad women are stepping forward, I hope with integrity so we are not further diminished collectively. Aloha, dear ❀

  4. So laden with pathos, I fear commenting risks leading only to bathos. I shall try to avoid it. I have a lifelong friend (male) who, when a pre-teen, was raped multiple times by his brother β€” in view of a third brother (shared bedroom). Thirty years later, confiding in his mother, she dismissed the matter out-of-hand. A further ten years later, confronting the offending brother (who had long since moved to the other side of the world), he too dismissed the allegation. My friend quickly learned to see sex as violence, so, being a gentle soul, he avoided it all his life. He is now in his 60s. But the familial denial, the childlike denial of the mother, the offending brother, and (I should add) the third brother, continues to be breathtaking in its fantastically perverse scope. H ❀

    1. Yes, and Aloha – have been playing tourist with a dear old friend for a few days. Thanks so much for your comments Hariod, always appreciated and I love you always, though the example greatly disturbed me. Just when I think I’ve heard everything, I get to hear one more instance of horrific abuse. What I’ve written about here is the mildest encounter I witnessed as a young woman. My own family experience was far worse, and my brothers did not escape, all three dead in their 50’s.

      You know sweet one, I fear the human experiment has failed. We have learned much from this precious life, yet the very experience of being driven by fiery urges when young and need to explore the world and how it works seems to have become the standard many fail to transcend or transform well into adulthood when we might relax a bit; create and seek inner peace. Continually being driven by animal urges when humans alone seem to possess the ability to be self aware seems heinous to me. Nothing peacemakers do seems to serve to replace these urges either, down through the centuries. And so I realize I need to accept this plane of existence for what it is and love it anyway, which I do. But I do grow tired of the human element that continues to alter and shape until it alone is left standing. You’re one of the good ones, and I appreciate your presence in my life. ❀

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