Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Requested Silence

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The Requested Silence


“you stupid bitch! I told you
to shut the fuck up!”
followed by the sound of
fists colliding with flesh
muffled cries, begging for mercy,
and then the silence he demanded.




saturday morning cartoons with
pancakes instead of dry cereal

last night’s “unfortunate incident”
white-washed with the sweet taste

of maple syrup and a savory salt-lick
of bacon, fluffy eggs and as little
eye-contact as possible, this was

her way of apologizing to hubby
and kiddo for provoking Sweet Daddy
into becoming something he isn’t.




“get the fuck out then, slut! Don’t
nobody want your stupid ass, but me!”

purse goes from resting, to hurtling
across space-time at warp-speed, narrowly
missing her tear-stained face, colliding
with the wall, empting its contents
in a one-person ticker-tape
celebration of cruelty

as she drops to her knees, frantically
piecing her life together, Sweet Daddy
reloads, this time, chambering
a glass ashtray

“baby! Please! Don’t!” she sobs
he hesitates, her words hitting their mark
and he sets the ashtray down, knowing
that throwing objects at his object could
be objectively considered callous by his son
and that’s just something he wasn’t.




“it’s as much my fault as it is his,
just so you know. he’s just
stressed-out. I should’ve known
better than to press him about
the bills. He works so hard…”

“taxes are so damned high… The President’s
foreign policy is making our nation irrelevant and
I keep forgetting to make
Baby Boy pick up his toys”
“his boss won’t stop riding his ass, new guy
is fuckin everything up and then
he comes home to my
overcooked pot-roast, I just
should’ve watched it better”

“my eye doesn’t look that bad.
shit, you should’ve seen his knuckles!
you’re not getting the whole story;
he cried about it too! I promise you;
he has a kind soul and a gentle nature
this is not who he is all the time
that’s why we call him ‘Sweet Daddy’!”




words, phrases
clauses, causes,
sentences freefall,
cascading paragraphs
coalescing in essays of
black eye white lie excuses that
fail to tip the scales of reason and
accountability; she will suffer
the slings and arrows of his bruises
his knuckles will fashion her lies
his will, morphed into her fault
burdened by aggression
and violence she can’t
evade or stem
she will break
or else




and then the silence he demanded
suffocates with stagnant stench of sweat
and copper and iron, carpet soaked in
his crimson essence, seemingly lifeless body
remanded to ambulatory services or
wherever deadmen or mortally wounded
men who were already dead inside go

she had no plan; lacked even
the guile for hiding the kitchen knife,
dropping it where it performed its task
almost too well, running out the back door
into the elements, wearing only a nightgown
stained with both her, and now his blood

the cops collected her, eventually returning
her to her Baby Boy after hearing her story
and correlating it with the tale told by
the bruises on her face

when she returned, she cradled her son
on the couch in silence,
both in his requested silence, both
empty of tears, both wondering
where exactly did they screw up
in making Sweet Daddy into
something he wasn’t.


  1. This is so very painful and too often repeated. So many women who choose that silence and then end up...who knows where. In the meantime the boy learns how to replicate Sweet Daddy's behavior. Heart-breaking.

  2. This is so intense, so very touching.. Hard to read till the end without having at least one drop of tear welling up in the corner of an eye.. heartfelt, very touching.., amazingly well-written...

  3. Happens all the time everywhere. The statistics are many women are murdered trying to leave. You have expressed a powerfully depressing reality which all societies need to address. And it is so heartening coming from a man. I believe the answer lies in the genuine practice of Christian ethics...all humanity is equal and deserves respect and love. The ever present concept of masters and slaves which are manifested in these relationships must be eradicated. I was so upset after reading this I needed to be transported to another dimension. Deo Gratias for Handel. Good poem Barry:)

  4. It makes me sad to think how many doors this terrible scene is being played out behind.
    My aunt was badly abused by her first husband, the father of her five kids. She's with a good man now, thankfully, and the first husband is dead, though not because she killed him. He died from throat cancer.
    Sobering and masterfully crafted work in these verses you created.

  5. Really painful to read but you brought out the emotions quite well. Well done!

  6. Torrid narrative, hot and hard to read and spot-on with the details of the bad romance, abuser and abused, monster and Sweet Daddy. You kept the right distance somehow to keep the story arc complete.

  7. oh excruciating!! domestic violence is quite common these days... and alcoholics make the worst beasts... well i guess he deserved that knife ...

  8. Hard to read knowing how true it is in too many lives. Very well written.

  9. This is one hell of a story Barry ~ So well done of the terrible tragedy of domestic abuse and violence ~ I empathize with women being abused & vulnerable ~ I told my daughter, you work and be independent and earn your own keep so you will always have the voice, balls & guts to leave a man when you want to ~ Sweet Daddy,he ain't ~

  10. PS ~ If you are submitting for D'verse Anthology, after complying with 1 piece for Poetics/prompt, you should submit this additional post ~

  11. “my eye doesn’t look that bad.
    shit, you should’ve seen his knuckles!"

    Wow! If that doesn't sum up the terrible cycle of abuse I don't know what could. This was a brutal but necessary outcry against a social evil that will not go away.

  12. What bold, scary truths here. So many abused are not only victims of physical abuse but victims of trained responses. If I had one wish for this poem, I would wish all abused could read it and know they have a voice.

    Thanks for sharing this brilliant but sad truth. Your construction and words were absolutely brilliant.

  13. This phenomena crosses all class, all religions, all races, all countries, all ethnicities - it is the story of man, within it is the reality that man is still not civilized. That chemicals and stress change the brain of animals and they react in certain ways. The results of this added to the obvious other evils of civilization - greed, need for control, lust...fill in the seven deadly and you get the state of man. Violent, arrogant, living a life that's nasty, brutish and short. But there is always the push back, to try to lead a moral, ethical, loving life. It's a wonder any survive but in that survival is hope.

  14. so poignant. the physical is painful, the words are everlasting hurtful, the experience is sad but real

    gracias for this

  15. hello. what an introduction to your writing. i'm very glad to have found this piece, it is so well done. thank you. i so appreciate you putting this story out there, with enough detail to make it real instead of cliche... because of course it is real, and we are not supposed to talk about this:

    a one-person ticker-tape
    celebration of cruelty

    that's exactly right. also this:

    essays of
    black eye white lie excuses

    thank you.

  16. wow...this was quite a ride...a hard truth for far too captured this with heart wrenching no holds bar honesty. very impressively done.

  17. Very well written, gut wrenching, raw and powerful. Had me holding my breath without my even realizing it for a few seconds and had angry tears resting in my eyes.

  18. I think you need to add a "heartbreaking" box to your reactions. And I agree with Grace, this needs to be submitted. If not the dVerse Anthology, then somewhere. It is very powerful.