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You and your brothers mused;
Especially him -
About solving problems
And trouble shooting
And thinking outside the box.

You watched black and white movies
With the endings cut off -
Because many bootleg copies
Suffered from the distraction of her endless doctrines
And she forgot to skip the commercials.

How was I to know -
When you mused about the movie “Gaslight”
That your sociopathic pen
Was scribbling frantic notes
That you would later engage?

Remember “Arsenic and Old lace?”
Where the sweet, trustworthy faces of old women
Lured victims of their schemes,
And buried bodies in the basement
Without a suspicious eye falling upon them?

Oh, how you loved to watch “Hamlet”
And sit beneath the tutorship of good King Claudius:
“With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,--
O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust”

Even now, the good and witless victims
Fall prey to your busy manipulations;
The teachers, attorneys and judges,
Our children and your new spouse.
How lucky; their priceless gift of naivety.

My wrists are shackled by the sheer insanity
Of my experiences at your hands.
Who could - without so vile a shared experience
Entertain such warped realities?
So, I’m muffled by your witchcraft. I sit and smile in silence.

And you are free
To bury bodies in the basement still.
Like your two brothers, who disposed of wives
When newer interests loomed;
So skillfully Gas Light-ing them.

How blessed I was to finally see it
So I wouldn't join them,
In the white corridors of the asylum -
Painting medicated pictures.
You almost had me convinced.

I have every reason to celebrate
That I am alive,
That I am good,
That I will never cower in the presence of my creator…
That I am not you.


------
Here, I share, with stark honesty, my life.


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Comments

The following comments are for "Arsenic and Old Lace"
by feliciastone

Feliciastone's arsenic
There's a lot of power in this poem, and rage. I love the metaphors you used, very skillful. The references to Arsenic and Old Lace drew me in, it's my favorite play, but you used it in a way I wouldn't have expected. A very interesting read.
-Casey

( Posted by: shefallssoftly [Member] On: February 21, 2005 )

Casey - Thanks for commenting
Casey,

Thanks for commenting. I wondered how many people would be able to relate to "Arsenic and Old Lace". I thought it would be completely lost on the younger generation. From your photo, I would assume you would qualify for that innacurate generalization I made.

It is interesting that you (as well as someone else who had read this) saw rage in it. As I sat an wrote it, I felt no rage whatsoever. During the years that I came to terms with all the betrayal, deception, manipulation, I never wrote a word about it. I was too busy trying to survive. From a writer's standpoint, I guess it is good for this emotion to come through in the words - because they would have been the appropriate emotions - given the situation.

Thanks for posting a comment here.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 21, 2005 )

That I am not you.
touched most by the last stanza

I have every reason to celebrate
That I am alive,
That I am good,
That I will never cower in the presence of my creator…
That I am not you.

great

all the best

( Posted by: fairgrace [Member] On: February 21, 2005 )

Fairgrace
Thanks for commenting on this piece. It is a little complicated - I'm not sure how many people will read it through to the end.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 21, 2005 )

I did....
read it right through and then again. I love this and felt a feeling I get when I read Plath or Les Murray. Beautiful, painful and rich in images, thank you Felicia. warm regards huni

( Posted by: huni [Member] On: February 21, 2005 )

Felicia: Soul Survivor
Felicia, Strong piece, for sure. Appears you have transcended much. Good read. Thanks for sharing.

RW

( Posted by: Bobby7L [Member] On: February 22, 2005 )

Aresnic and Old Lace
I almost feel like I know this person you write about! That said, I really enjoyed this poem. It was so well-written, I agree with Casey about your use of metaphors, and how powerful a piece this is. Thanks for posting this!

( Posted by: Eleanor [Member] On: February 22, 2005 )

Penelope - Complicated indeed
This was written about a very complicated character indeed - an actual person.

However, there are parts of this piece that remind some people of others they know with similar (although not as grossly extreme) sociopathological habits/traits.

Perhaps Eleanor knows someone like that : )

Thanks for stopping in, for reading, and for commenting.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 23, 2005 )

penelope - agreed
I re-read it without the last lines. Therapeutically, I needed them - artistically, it's good without them. Actually, "You almost had me convinced" is a very strong statement.

Thanks for commenting,

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 24, 2005 )

Penelope
Agreed.

My biggest fear was wasting a lot of time in here posting etc. and not getting any real feedback that I could use. I'm always afraid people will hesitate to give honest advise.

I have had some really good tips here at lit.org - and I hope they keep coming.

Thanks again!

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 24, 2005 )

Arsenic And Old Lace
What an eerie piece. Your piece touched me on so many different levels. I am new to this site and am thrilled I started with your work first. God Bless You!

( Posted by: Sheena [Member] On: February 28, 2005 )

Sheena - eerie
Welcome to lit.org. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

I'm very glad you read my work - I hope you come back, read and comment again.

I'll be looking for your posts!

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 28, 2005 )

Huni - Sorry!!
Thanks so much for the rich comments.

I apologise for not getting back to you before this. It was vacation week from school, and I did a very poor job of keeping up in Lit.org with so many young people to enjoy (and preparing for my son's return from Iraq!!)

I really value your input!

Thanks again,

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 28, 2005 )

Bobby7L - sorry
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this piece. Yes, I have overcome much. How good - to be here, now.

It's a wonderful world - I'm happy to still be part of it!

Regards,

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 28, 2005 )

Eleanor - Arsenic and Old lace
Eleanor,

I was so pleased to see your comment here. I was also glad to read your words, "I almost feel like I know this person you write about!"

I think we all know people who, by some degree, are like this character. I never get sick of hearing that something I've written is familiar to the reader in some way.

Thanks again for stopping in to read my work, and for taking the time to comment.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 28, 2005 )

Read me...
Wow. Potent imagery. Might return later when I have regained my senses.


Andrew

( Posted by: strangedaze [Member] On: March 1, 2005 )

Cyanara
I hesitate to imagine how this relates to you personally. I see shades of a "BTK" type of guy.

Movies with endings cut off- apt metaphor for murder?

I'm waiting for Donald 5.

s

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: March 2, 2005 )

Andrew
I was glad to see that you were visiting one of my posts. Thanks for stopping in and commenting!

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 2, 2005 )

drsoos - What this is about
I like the metaphor for movies with the endings cut off - wish I had been this clever...

Actually, this is about an ex who used to watch black and white movies that his mother taped from the TV. As she recorded them, she would get talking about her religious doctrines(24/7) and forget to pause the tape during the commercials - because of that, the video tapes would run out before the movie was over. We'd never get to see the endings.

The movies mentioned here were significant because they were favorites of this person and his brothers - and in time, I saw how they used the same techniques (as in these movies) to manipulate and deceive everyone around them so their own objectives would be met.

In the movie "Gaslight", over the course of time, a man tried to convince his wife that she was always imagining things, and eventually convinced her she was mad, to keep her out of the way.

The person in this poem has two brothers who met new women and wanted "out" of their marriages. Each of them convinced their wives and everyone else, that their wives were crazy, and they (the husbands) were victims.

About a year after he left me, I was at the point I was really starting to question my mind. (He was calling me about 10 times a day, to plant his seeds and twist my mind, although I did not see it at the time).

When I started to pray that I would see things for what they really were, I suddenly saw the clear pattern with these males and their wives. I was then able to see all the tricks he had used to make things look a certain way for others or for me, and to manipulate me into all kinds of situations that advanced his plot.

"My hands are shackled" means that the horrible things he put me through and the extremely diabolical way he functions are so far out there, that I cannot even talk about it without it making me sound like the crazy or paranoid one - especially given how he is like the ladies in arsenic and old lace - he's so good at deceiving, and putting on a facade, he seems like the most harmless person in the world.

"without so vile a shared experience" refers to how if I told people about these things, they could never handle or maybe even believe them because you would have to have lived through things like this to believe or accept them.

When I took a job (after returning to my hometown after our divorce)in a factory as a technical writer, people would ask about him because years ago, he had been a manager there. I would "sit and smile" - and say "He's doing great - the company he works for loves him, and he seems really happy..." When my heart and mind wanted to spill out the truth and let everyone know how evil he really is.

He clearly put me in situations that he had hoped would lead to my demise or would emotionally destroy me and get me out of the way.

As recently as last summer, he sent our son to a summer program in Utah. At midterm, he rented a hotel room for me, organized my flights and wanted me to drive with him from Vegas to this place (6 hours of driving along cliffs) under the guise of a required mid-term visit. I did not go. After the fact, it appeared that his motives were not honorable, and perhaps he had hoped to leave my body somewhere for the carrion to clean up.

He definitley underestimated my intelligence, my strength and the power of prayer and discernment in my life.

He used to say, "It doesn't matter how - it only matters that I always win." That was his philosophy.

"...to bury bodies in the basement still..." refers to all the people he still deceives and plays in order to meet his objectives.

He's the kind of guy who will cuddle a kitten and dote over it to win the heart of a woman who loves cats, but when she's at work, he will beat the kitten to death with a garden hoe so it won't be around to bother him - (he really hates animals), and then he will score an evening of intimacy because he has created a sitution where she is feeling hurt and needy after finding her cat mangled. This is fact.

(see my poem "In a Humble Home")

All through the Scott Peterson trials, I felt like I was watching him. I was thankful I had not met his wife's fate.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 2, 2005 )

Oh dear God
Very good poem. Wholly horrific real story. I think its important for you to know that your ability to express yourself goes a long way toward making your story/life credible. I, for, one, have no doubt that this man is everything you say he is. Be careful (I think you're smart not to openly disparage him), and don't let him carry any more sway over you. Get as far away as possible, both emotionaly and physically.

I'm just amazed at the backstories out there. I'm more happy than ever that people are able to have this cathartic forum. Don't stop writing.

Brad

( Posted by: brad [Member] On: March 2, 2005 )

missed metaphors...
I see them where they aren't and miss them when they are. It sounds as if he was quite capable of the literal execution of your metaphors. Animal abusers are likely to abuse people as well, and deserve the same treatment in kind (see my comment to "Doggerel show part 10). I also enjoyed (with sadness) "In a Humble Home". How sad that you and yours had to endure this, and what a blessing to have escaped it.
Thank you.

s

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: March 2, 2005 )

Brad - arsenic
Your words of advise ("don't let him carry any more sway over you. Get as far away as possible, both emotionaly and physically") are very good ones.

I tried to stay in NY after we broke up, but it wasn't until I was back here in Maine that I really started to get a clear perspective. Space and time are good things in this situation.

Yes, this is very cathartic. I'm glad to be here venting. It's a healthy way to heal.

Thanks for commenting and caring...

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 3, 2005 )

Tinalouise
Thank you for saying this was an incredible read...

Yes, I had mixed feelings about the last verse. Penelope and Fairgrace touched on whether it would be more powerful with or without it.

As a published poem that is standing on its own, maybe not having the last verse would be powerful. But, knowing a little history behind the piece, the last verse is what it's all about.

And... to be able to say all those things didn't come easy. The hardest part was to choose every day not to become bitter, immersed in self-pity for the unfairness of it all, or vengeful. I have had many opportunities to mess with his life after all of this, but chose not to.

He had written a 28 page confession letter to me when he left. I knew how useful it could be. It was very raw. So, I chose to destroy one page of it every time I read it. I thought that this way, I would never use it wrongfully, and eventually there would be nothing left to read and stew about. And... as long as I wanted to hang on to it - to remind myself of what was actually real - I would not be able to read it too often, because of the pact I made with myself to destroy a page each time. I thought it would help me on the road to putting it all behind me.

I have about ten pages left of it somewhere among the dusty boxes of my past in my cellar. I first lost track of it when I moved back to Maine. He wrote it in his own hand, and being that he writes so very small, there is still a lot of info in the pages that remain. I've come across it a couple of times and read it. I don't feel the bitterness and betrayal I once did. There is no more sting to it. I think I will keep the last of it now.

I am so happy to hear that you were able to see these kinds of behaviors and get away before it was too late.

It's all so much more complicated when there are children involved.

"You get a sense of how bad it could get - yet there is a point at which you feel yourself going under and aren't sure if you can believe in yourself enough to breathe alone." This was a very powerful statement.

Thanks for commenting, and for being so sensitive.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 3, 2005 )

drsoos - BTK etc
On an earlier comment here, you had used the acronym BTK. I did not know what that meant. Just last night, I saw a news report that had "Bind, Torture, Kill" as the heading - talking about a serial murderer that was just apprehended. A light went off.

I had never heard the term before - but I don't watch much TV (I happened to watch the news because my son is held up in Kuwait, most of his unit has returned to Maine, and I had hoped for some info about his return.)

Your comments got me thinking... "It sounds as if he was quite capable of the literal execution of your metaphors. Animal abusers are likely to abuse people as well..."

After I married him, we would visit his mother for the weekend. Most of the sibs (7 of them)would be there with their families - Itallian tradition I guess.

I remember always being an outsider because I would scoot the kids away from the table and find things for them to do so they wouldn't hear some of their stories.

I was considered a prude for this although I tried to be as invisible about it as possible.

One brother, as a teen, had a doctor that he was friends with. The doctor used to give him cloroform (sp). He used to use it to put cats out so he could strap them down to a board on their backs before cutting the skin off their stomachs and replacing it with a glass window so he could watch their food digest. The cats always died and were in great pain until they died.

There were stories of burying cats up to their heads and running them over with a mower, hanging them on a tree in a bag and beating them 'till they died. etc etc.

One brother, living in an upscale neighborhood bragged about taking the neighbor's German shepard pup, tying it to a tree behind their house and shooting it in the head. The whole family would laugh hysterically at these stories - especially when he said he left it for their kids to find. "That'll teach them for letting their dog bark!"

My ex used to put tuna fish in a bowl mixed with antifreeze just in case any cats came around. When his girlfriend moved in with him, her cat disappeared almost immediately. My kids said that they were sure their dad was behind it and that when she wasn't around, he would throw it against the wall.

I came into our barn once when I heard noises, to witness my ex beating a cat (to death)with a garden hoe.

One of my nephews got really wierd during his teen years, but even earlier than that, he had a pet cemetary in his back yard that he used to brag about. He would go looking for animals just to torture and kill them. (He was allowed to sit at the table and listen to his dad talk about shooting the neighbor's dog etc.)

I'm so glad to be away from that family now altogether - my kids away from them.

As I type, more and more things come to mind. But, I'm left thinking about the profile you mentioned - people who torture animals often move on to bigger and better things. I'm lucky I got away from him when I did.

"On Ghetto Street" is a poem about one of the bad situations he put me in. Over the past 5 years, I have tried to figure out his motivation.

I had thought it had to do with his own warped perversions (because he definitely had some), but in hindsight, I feel the plan was for me not to leave Connecticut alive. I don't think a normal person with a healthy psyche, could have seen that event through to the end (in real life) even if they had entertained it in a fantasy. But he was aroused (sexually) by my abuse at the hands of strangers.

Strange too, he had never laid a hand on me physically. He never called me names or blatantly abused me verbally. It's so much harder to see the abuses - emotional and psychological - when the obvious stuff is not there.

Every day, I feel more free, more thankful, more whole.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 3, 2005 )

There's more than one way...

And so the circle closes.

So like I said elsewhere, these people deserve the same treatment in kind from cats in Hell. Thanks.

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: March 6, 2005 )

Soos - gaslighted
I agree - these people deserve whatever is coming for them.

As for this piece - it is a different situation entirely. Now that I have been schooled by going through all those things with my ex, I am not capable of being gaslighted in this one.

Here, I am simply dealing with a fragile person who is incapable of creating a good thing for the benefit of all. I - by choice - step out or to the back for the benefit of my step-son. I just feel bad when I do that and then she doesn't come through for him.

I am not "barred" legally. I am barred by her emotional instability.

Thanks for posting. I do have more chapters of Donald Gets Dumped - perhaps I will post some today.

Felicia

p.s. Enjoyed the Doggie series!

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 6, 2005 )

BRAD
Sorry to hijack your post, Felicia, but . . . Brad, where are your posts? I swear you haven't just been the comment king all this time. You did have posts at one point, right?

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: March 12, 2005 )

Viper - Brad
No problem at all, Viper... hope my thread could be of assistance.

:)

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: March 12, 2005 )





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