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A Flame That Flickers

What separates those of us who escape from abuse and those who have given themselves over to the abuse (by becoming abusers) is our decision to love.  There is an aspect of ourselves which is untouchable.  It burns like an eternal fire that cannot be snuffed out.  It may flicker, but a flame that flickers can always be coaxed to burn brightly again.  And that is the promise that carries me from stage to stage around the world.  That is the promise that is worth waking up for.  

I wrote a poem a while back, directly to the man who created so much contrast for me in my childhood.  Perhaps within it, you will find such a flame of love within yourself…



I remember your hands,

The cracked and calloused expanse of them across my face,
As you took my childhood from me ten and fifty and a hundred times.

My tear blind eyes turned up to heaven.

It was never quite enough until the flesh you crushed and blood you let had pulled me to my knees.

As a child I ran as you hunted me with your pocketknife and mule across the noisy hem line of so many a field back home, thinking I deserved it.

I was no longer a child; you were no longer a man. The blood and bone and sinew you took from everything, is what you made the landscape of your life from.

Indeed it was even your covenant.

A pledge I witnessed children die by, and I was almost one of them.

The lies you told, like scriptures I lived my life by.

You said you were my father.

You said it was my home.

That dark, forgotten hole in the ground, under a lattice of weathered and rotted planks that shut out the sky.

For years, you followed my path of bleeding pain, in the attempt to flush out my spirit…
With electric shocks,
With confinement,
With ketamine.

Trying to make the life you suffered as a child, my life too,
Dispatching little pieces of those who could love you and those who still do.

Deaf to “I love you” and Blind to “I care”.

You needed those words, but you couldn’t hear them, and I couldn’t yell.
I wanted so much to tell you that day that I left home…


Remember my hands.

Their scars are no longer fresh now.

Let them bring back the simple truth to you
That the universe suffers as you suffer.

That the universe smiles with your joy.

When all you are left with is grief and pain, you can hold these hands and witness what beauty is born of bent and broken lives such as ours.

We need not search for salvation.  It is in us always, waiting to be seen.

An internal benevolence is burning just beyond the reach of anything that can happen to you in this life, though faint, it is not fragile.

The message of love can come from anywhere without warning.
I am not angry anymore.

It is now instead my greatest wish that you may know the ineffable solace of love and the freedom it brings with it…

As I do.


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