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Poems About Intimacy And Conflict

Updated on January 20, 2017
Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen has a Master’s degree in English Literature and is an author of stories and poetry focusing on the dynamics of human relationships

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Desiree: Reflects Both Love And Need

Introduction

It has often been said, only the two people involved in any lasting relationship understand its roots and dimensions. Frequently, even the two people themselves do not fully comprehend the give-and-take which allows a connection to endure, despite the vicissitudes of joy and anguish.

The Poem: Desiree

Desiree, Desiree,
Twirling, tripping in a cabaret,
Where men who cherish pristine wives
Will go to gawk and leer
At Desiree in dance array,
Swirling skirts and tinkling trinkets,
Black and silver in a sad display.

Eddie plods in lumbering boots,
Up and down the darkened streets,
A solid, stolid laborer
Who doggedly piles brick on brick each day,
His evenings waiting for the taunting lights to fade,
Jostled by the raucous strangers
As they stumble, curse and sway.
Now and then a word, much- slurred and blurred
But heard and hurting, makes him wince with shame
For Desiree, their Desiree.
He knows himself to be the only man
Who will not call her Desiree,
But solely by her name, Diane.

Then, as the last defiler slinks away
Eddie walks inside to find his lady
Drooping in her dancing dress,
Weary and sullen.
Softly he wraps her in his coat,
Then lifts her in his builder’s arms;
She taunts him with the feats of finer lovers,
While wordlessly he wipes her rouge away.
Her face, now naked, leaves them free to be Diane and Eddie.

End.

Watch The Video: "Desiree" Read by Sinead Spearing

Ode to love by Goethe
Ode to love by Goethe | Source

Ballad of a Sunrise: A Horrific Solution to Isolation

Introduction

This poem is a folk ballad, meant to be read or sung accompanied by soft, water-like harp music, with an undercurrent of drumbeats. While not meant to be taken literally, I hope it expresses the desperation of a young woman doing what she feels must be done in order to live in comparative isolation, after her lover has left her.

The Poem: Ballad of a Sunrise

Reeds on the riverbank clung to the earth,
While the river surged, restive and wild.
She watched her lover sail off through a mist,
As her eyes watched the reeds and the river.

She thought of his lips, ached for his hands;
She knew the strength of his tawny limbs;
She dreamed of his body and of the nights,
Those nights they had known by the river.

She made her bed of a few stray reeds,
Then writhed and wept and rose with a song,
For she bore their child on that sun-scarred bank,
Then, she gave their child to the river.

End.

The Video: "Ballad of a Sunrise" Read by Sinead Spearing

Kite of colored flowers
Kite of colored flowers | Source

The Kite String Cutter: Malice on Horseback

Introduction

I have always been puzzled and disturbed by malicious acts which have no discernable value to their perpetrators. Vandalism of any kind is typical of this kind of wrongdoing. This poem questions whether such people are motivated by an urge to avenge a sense of grievance against the world at large, or by a twisted pleasure in causing anguish to others.

The Poem: The Kite String Cutter

Village lore holds within its history
A lady who rode through the countryside,
Horse reins in one hand, while in the other
She clutched a pair of scissors, poised and ready
To cut the strings of kites sent towards the skies
By boys and girls who crafted them with care,
Then sent them soaring till they seemed to rise
Beyond the sun, as hopes can, at that age
Unmarred by gravity.

Such pointless cruelty forced me to wonder
What depth of venom lurked within this woman
Impelling her to wreck such harmless fun.
Did someone or some circumstance destroy
Whatever hope she’d held of finding joy?
Or on a bleaker level, might there be
Those who are spurred by an unbridled power
To poison happiness?

End

The Video: The Kite String Cutter Read by Sinead Spearing

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald born July 24 1900 died March 10 1948 was the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. This picture is her at aged 16 in her dance costume
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald born July 24 1900 died March 10 1948 was the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. This picture is her at aged 16 in her dance costume | Source

Zelda Fitzgerald: The Dancing Girl

Introduction

F. Scott Fitzgerald, known to those close to him as Scot, is immortalized by such novels as Tender Is the Night, The Great Gatsby, and This Side of Paradise. Zelda Fitzgerald, like many spouses of well-known writers, soon found her aspects of their married life becoming fodder for his writing. She once said his work reflected his view that plagiarism begins at home.

From his perspective, the financial cost of maintaining Zelda in a mental hospital during her long-term illness caused him to forfeit creative time by writing nondescript stories for magazines. The sacrifice on both sides proved enormous. This poem is written from what research has suggested to me Zelda might have recounted in terms of their union.

The Poem: Zelda Fitzgerald

Scot viewed our life together as his own,
Absorbing from my diaries and letters,
Whatever he believed might give his fiction
A fresh dimension of reality.

Like him, I felt a passion to create,
So, having loved dancing as a girl,
A bunch of flowers at my waist, the young men bowing.
I hoped I might find joy in the ballet,
But since it was too late at twenty-seven,
For a career, I tried to compensate,
Dancing whole days, then often beyond midnight,
Dancing Swan Lake, the music part of me, my body aching,
Sparked by Scot’s yelling, “Stop, for God’s sake, Zelda!”
Still dancing till they locked me in a room
With kind assurances to make me well.
How could they, when my every nerve felt dead
In endless emptiness?

And then I wasn’t pretty anymore.
They tried to shield me, keep me safe from mirrors,
Still, I knew- could feel eczema inch across my face.
Far more than that, in Scot’s eyes, I could see
Who we once were and what we had become
Through life’s realities.

End

Source

Helpline: Overcoming Guilt And Sadness

Introduction

A unique type of intimacy can arise in a setting where someone in need of compassion has only voice-to-voice contact with the person phoned for support. As a long-time helpline worker, I have experienced both the closeness and difficulties involved in these interactions. Ideally, one hopes to be a beacon of light to someone suffering from isolation. Still, despite utmost efforts, this cannot always occur. At times, family members who feel emotional conflict, blame an agency for its perceived failure to offer enough compassion to sustain the life of someone who requires clinical care.

The Poem: Helpline

We sat and shivered through the wintry darkness,
While rain and sleet seeped through the glass
Of windows splintering inside a basement
Almost unheated,
Listening to the frightened, lost, defeated,
At times, our inner windows shattered, too,
By words awakening thoughts, echoes or shadows,
Which would have been far better left to heal.
Yet, we all stayed, as nearly every call
Voiced the plea, “I’m lonely, help me.”
We hoped it helped them to feel understood.

And then the letter came, anonymous,
Taped outside our door, to startle us,
On Monday morning;
It said in essence,
“My brother’s dead. He left a note to say
The last call he made was to your helpline.
I guess you didn’t think his life was worth
Your care or effort.”

Sadness and guilt came to pervade our center,
Two of our finest staff left, overwrought.
Each of us wondered, had I been the one
To end a call, leaving a man believing,
Suicide might prove his only choice?

Then, slowly, by degrees, we came to see
Shame or recrimination served no purpose.
Hence, we remained, as winter eased towards spring,
Striving to urge courage, where we could.

End

Watch And Listen to "Helpline" Read by Sinead Spearing

Plea: A Wish For Reconciliation

Introduction

It is always a shame when people use holidays as a means of snubbing or hurting others.

The Poem: Plea

You did not send a Christmas card
In hopes of causing pain
Using a season meant for joy
To vent your rage again.

Our tenderness has not been lost,
So, can we not regain
Affection, peace and friendship
Through those years which yet remain?

End

Merry Christmas card
Merry Christmas card | Source

English Speaking Union

The poems by Colleen Swan were read by renowned actress and poet Margaret McCarthy at the English Speaking Union (ESU) New York Poetry Circle on March 30th 2015. The poetry of Susana H. Case and Rosalie Calabrese was also featured.

© 2015 Colleen Swan

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    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Colleen, I am speechless. Your poems have touched on many emotions;

      love, joy, sadness, shame and anguish. I am overwrought. Your works are most powerful and they render one emotionally exhausted.

      If "Desiree" were not enough of a heartbreaker, "The Ballad Of A Sunrise", completely overwhelmed me.

      As a friend, I would have to give unsolicited advice to publish fewer

      poems at a time, if they are all so powerful. I sit here, utterly astonished.

      Your poems are hauntingly beautiful. I had no idea you were so versatile.

      Do I see a book of poems in your future? My God, woman! You are

      incredibly talented!

      Sincerely,

      DJ.

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Hi DJ, I am so grateful to know that my work means so much to you. My poems flow out of my absolute soul, far more than do my articles. The effort of being published is such as to be discouraging. Still I would be overjoyed if I could succeed in that area.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      You obviously do not recognize your own incredible works as the result

      of amazing talent. You also do not know how powerful your poems

      come across to the reader. I must ask, how long have you worked on this hub?

      Colleen, you might look to neighborhood newspapers. Many times they are looking for some fresh talent. I would think you have professors of

      universities across America and in the UK that you know by first name.

      Of course, an English Literature professor would be perfect. I know of no one in such a position.

      I shared this hub, as well. It did not show up as shared. It does show

      up as a new hub along with my comment, but it does not say shared.

      I hope you have 'talked' to HP and have brought this sharing bug to their attention.

      DJ.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautifully expressed. Your poems opened me to such great emotions. Voted up!

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you DDE, I do care deeply about the music of language and am glad you enjoyed my work.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Such deep thoughts on such varied topics can only come from an exceptionally talented poet. They're all great, but the first one tugs at my heart strings--"He knows himself to be the only man Who will not call her Desiree, But solely by her name, Diane." Thanks for such a poetic treat.

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Hi MsDora, Thank you for your generous praise. The part you mentioned was not in the original poem, and I wondered about adding it; I guess it worked and I am glad.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      This is such beautiful, deep poetry, Colleen. Reading it all took me on a roller-coaster of emotions. Each one conveys such poignancy. Human distress, compassion and reactions can be tragic, surprising and tolerant. It's amazing what we are capable of and what some have to go through.

      Thank you for such a breath-taking read.

      Ann

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you Ann. I wanted to pang emotions without crossing that fine line. Finding the right words is sometimes the trickiest chance we take.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      You're so right!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Lovely poems, Colleen! I used to do poetry, a decade ago. I think you should get these published in poetry markets this year.

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you Kristen for your kind words. Many of my poems were written some years ago and I have re-edited them. It can be fun looking back on past work and being inspired by it.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Colleen-I am so impressed with this collection of poems. I loved every one of them. The one that really got me, was the one on guilt over the suicidal caller to a help line. I use to do crisis phone counseling and related to this on a deep level. Beautiful writing! Sharing all over-voted up and hit many buttons.

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Hi Minnetonka, Your comment means so much to me in that my poetry is at the core of my soul. Yes, helpline work can be emotionally exhausting as I am sure you learned, one can only do what one can on a helpline, or any situation in life. Making others feel guilty creates unnecessary hurt and frustration.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      " The Helpline " oh man are you a true poet ! all of these are so beautiful , I must follow now !

      You have a unique way of writing , and explaining your words -as if it were needed ! I have always contemplated and admired someone who worked the helplines too , I don't know how you did it ! But all of these poems and verse are admirable , hope to share many more my friend .

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Hi Ahorseback, you cannot imagine how much comments like yours mean in my life. To be called a poet I think is one of the finest tributes one can receive. I see you are one too, and will be reading your work. You are so right about the flow of words; why is it when we have the deepest need to write sometime it just doesn't happen?

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      Leave it to our conflicted souls ! I never experienced the actual and acute emotional need to write until just a few years ago . But share we will my new friend .

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Excellent poems, Colleen. Nice work with it. Voted up!

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you Kristen, Happy you enjoyed these. The subject has brought interest, there is underlying sadness in them. Thank you for the vote, much appreciated. Colleen

    • Michael Sawyer profile image

      Michael Sawyer 2 years ago from New Hampshire

      Wow, Colleen. I absolutely loved Desiree, well done. I want to savor that one and will come back and read the others and slowly digest them.

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you Michael for your kind words. This poem has created interest, and from the reading at the English Speaking Institute in New York it was reported that many guests were moved to tears. Sometimes we do not know what will capture people's emotions, it is wonderful when it happens.

    • profile image

      melanie cunningham 22 months ago

      Dear Colleen=I am really inspired by such beautiful words and thoughts.

      Reading them leads me back to my true self and others.I loved the poem about the river-I could almost smell the body of the earth here....Please keep working your magic!

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 22 months ago from County Durham

      Thank you Melanie for your kind words. It is often the mixture of memories and what could have been. Smell the earth is an example; it happened, but the memory surfaced for another reason. Colleen

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