Häufchen Elend / Picture of Misery: A Poem

A word, out of order, out of your tact,

Could set you off, your mouth, this

Giant net of openhearted darkness widening

In front of my face, the teeth that I couldn’t see,

The tongue fallen into oblivion, it had always been


Your voice that reached me, the spit from your screams

On my eyelids, my forehead, I tried to run away, I tried

To look away, but you reached my tipping point, I wouldn’t

Let you roam around the house like a madman anymore.


You could wander around the rooms hollering

The worst things, releasing yourself, demonising

Us all, cursing and blaming, screaming that we’re pigs,

That we drag you into despair and misery, that we’re

Ungrateful, that we don’t know real hardships, that we’re


Spoiled, that we’re disgusting, that if you die we shouldn’t

Dare to show up at your grave and cry, that we’d land on the streets,

Oh, father you could paint the worst images in the most

Believable colours and tones and shades, I believed all of it,

Internalised it, let you in, my body, my mind, your linguistic

Torture instruments, you never used language to connect and love,

You used it to disrupt and annihilate.


You could say all of these things without batting an eye.

For hours and hours. You loathed us all that much. We

Weren’t what you imagined. We weren’t as easy to fool

And exploit as you had wished when we were born.


We resisted, failed and got hurt, but managed to succeed, rising

Up against you. I had a heart so capable of love. You abused that.

Abused it all. The most beautiful thing about me. Made me lose trust.

I abandoned my own heart for a long time. You encouraged it.


You got away with saying the worst things to impressionable

Children, stuck in a big picture they cannot evaluate, stuck

In the devil’s details, thinking the world is ending on your terms,

Because of us, because we lived and breathed, because we were here,


The evil children that can only take and take, you survived because we

Gave and gave and offered and sacrificed and gave ourselves up

Because you signalled to us that you needed saving, and why wouldn’t

We save the one who created us? We didn’t know. We let our hearts speak.


And you made us weaker. Dependable. It had always been a one-way-street.

We ran out of fuel and you left us by the road, kill, hit-and-run, we came home,

There was nowhere else to go, we forced our way home, and you showered

Us with accusations still, the torment never ended.


And there I was, saying a few carefully worded sentences to you

And you’d lose it.

My chin in your hands, my eardrums bursting,

The volume of your voice as if I existed in a different universe and you

Wanted to make yourself heard.

I had absorbed every single war monologue

That you unleashed full weaponry in that house, I listened to it, I could

Always hear it even with my head under a pillow, your stuffing voice,


Straight into my brain and memory, of fear, you besieged my body,

I heard it all and took it in, your constant complaints, your fury,

Your incurable hate, and you, the greatest perpetrator of my life, the ticking

Time bomb, couldn’t stomach a few sentences of minimal criticism?

person s hands in the water
Photo by Elizaveta Dushechkina on Pexels.com



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