Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Self Control

Self control is not calling out to your sisters in the street
Because it’s uncouth
It is pretending you are full because it’s rude
To take a second slice
It is pacing instead of picking up the phone
To call an ex lover
And not running away when they’re nipping at your heels
For the sake of composure
Self control is holding back tears that might avalanche
Into solid fits
The biting of nails that substitute the hard spitting
Of unpleasantness
And a million other things we swap and bargain over
“I’ll give you a heart attack for staying even though it hurts”
“And some cancer if you’ll hold this guilt a little longer for me”
“Or a big gold star because you learned restraint”
“I’ll pin it on my heart disease; I’ll lay it by my sadness strong, all for you and self control”
“For you”

If self control is command over you, then why is it control?
If I am one person, then how can I control myself?
Self control is recruiting schizophrenia for a suicide mission
Hiring a hit man – and the target?

Self control is hiding feelings so when you really need them,
You won’t find a single one
Staying at the desk although your heart is swollen and your brain bust
Because it’s not knock-off yet
Self control is mistaking masochism for fortitude
And running some gauntlet
Of bruising illusion and sorry stray animals picked up for pity’s sake
And forgotten soon after
Self control is staying in a job you hate, and waking with a bruised brain every day
But staying because you don’t leave one job until you have another
Self control is forcing down coffee because there’s no time
For resting

Angela Sidoti © 2006

--- 20 October 2006 ---

The Breaking

Described by author Peter FitzSimons as a true, adults-only version of Lord of the Flies meets A Night Mare on Elm Street, the story of Batavia takes place in 1629.  The story of Batavia also takes place amongst the elements and grace of nature; in waters as unforgiving as the tortured souls of those brutally murdered by the diabolical mutineers, in winds that whip as ruthlessly through human skin and flesh as their shining blades did, and on islands as desolate as the humanity that was present on the day of their massacres.

Screams travel through the sea breeze gaining speed and shrillness until a gale of such proportion has amassed a rage so pure that the sails it assaults can only hope to keep their stitches.  It whips through the deck encouraging the growing rivulets of blood to divide and travel like the roots of a tree straight into hell.  And the ocean, once still and compliant, on high tide on the stubborn reef, throws the boat back and forth so that the victims are impatiently rocked like neglected babies, too rough, too hurriedly, their faces countlessly swung and bashed from side to side against the woody pillow of their final sleep.  A woman, not twenty, and pregnant lies inside the darkened cabin in a metallic stench of stale air and blood that laden the air with an evil that even the invasive gale cannot blow away.  Like cradle-cap, her hair and now her scalp too, are worn away from the constant tossing of her head which hangs from the flesh of the back of her neck where the quick blade lingered momentarily before hurrying to another victim.  Her child waits.

The sea spews its salt spray onto the deck as though to both preserve and destroy the awful scene.  It lands in splodges on the bloodstained deck, dissipating the gore so that liquid red runs thin while little pieces of congealed blood break away and float before being beached again like jelly fish on the wood grain.  So many secrets already held in her.  Like the night she took into her buoyancy the plan hatched by Jacobsz, his savage whispers into a willing ear, stolen and carried by the good-natured night breeze, and then bounced across her before finally, she, the guileless sea, would take them into her.  Surrounding them.  There they floated, not judged, but stark in their true form.  Magnified by her strength.  And later she would also hold some of the bodies these whispers would produce, and they would float peaceful in her knowledge, calmed by her fair witness.  Hair curling in her current, clothes billowing in a beautiful ebb and flow, small air bubbles sliding off of lashes like exclamation marks to frightened eyes, before rising to join the breezes above.  The sea would become them all.

The mutton birds squawked in terror sensing the carnage that was to come.  Dumbfounded islands awaited the spilling of these visitors, the Batavia's human cargo, onto their shores, and later, their sands cleaned the blood in a slow and unsuccessful forgetting.    The islands each ruffled and flapped about like a bird frightened from its roost.  Resisting the tragedy that was to stage itself on their pristine skins.  And forever mark their landscape.

The Batavia.  Her maiden voyage of unparalleled horror.  Raped, torn, spoiled.  Easy prey for the unsuspecting reef and its choral blades and now her eyes polluted by a far crueler massacre than her own, her woody countenance hit repeatedly by the foul echo of a mutinous scheme to produce still more death.  Her coming out into society was marked by her early Morning awakening, the cruelest realisation of her womanhood, and the killing off of innocence with a sunrise which would blind her with too much that is stark and irreversible.

Her body flexed and groaned with the murderous words that assaulted her ear.  And then amongst that, the ordinary, the flesh and breath noises of the unsuspecting; a mother chastising her son for pulling his sister's hair, the clatter of dishes, cries from children, and carried by the wind, the deep calls of men as they worked the deck.  These haunted her almost as much as the depraved whisperings of Jacobsz and Cornelisz.  Therefore as she ran aground that early morning, she found momentary peace, and groaned gratefully as she surrendered and broke herself upon the coral. 

Lucretia Jansz, lovely, womanly, and married, if she were able, would have done the same.  A silver shadow woman clutching the ship's taffrail, white knuckled and shaking, believing it might save her.  Eyes as lifeless as the dead who she sincerely wished to join, Lucretia, like the Batavia, was left a broken woman.

[entry by Angela Sidoti in the 2011 Random House Batavia Competition]
Angela Sidoti © 2011