The nightmare of infection ends here. Poet Rick Belden and visual artist Staci Poirier on the infectious nature of family violence.
This poem by Rick Belden on the family curse of abuse inspired Canadian mixed media artist Staci Poirier to compose the visual representation seen here. Click here for larger images of Poirier’s original artwork.
a liquid black cloud spreads its fingers
across the family sky
like ink from a squid
filling an aquarium tank
blotting out the sun
turning everyone and everything
the color of a funeral
a virus infects the family tree
twisting the future
obscuring the past
spreading from generation to generation
feeding on the children
turning the adults into monsters
or rendering them
a parasite enters the family bloodstream
burrowing into hearts and minds
anchoring in tender bodies
protecting and propagating itself with a trance
I will not forget
and I will not pass these nightmares on to anyone else.
I’ll pull those black fingers down out of my sky
I’ll dig this virus out of my roots
I’ll burn this parasite out of my blood.
I’ll hunt down every last trace of this psychic infection
this evil rot that was injected into me when I was a child
and I’ll haul it out into the daylight
where it can’t survive.
I’ll scream it out
I’ll vomit it out
I’ll drag it out of me
any way I can
tooth and claw
root and branch
blood and bone
until I’ve purged it from my life
and cleansed myself completely.
I reject the conspiracy of amnesia and silence
that allows this systemic scourge
to thrive unchallenged
in dark and helpless places
I reject the family commandments
thou shalt not remember
thou shalt not feel
thou shalt not tell
I will remember
I will feel
I will tell
I’ll take back my life from this shadow blue plague
and if that makes me an outcast
a traitor in the eyes of the family
then so be it.
Copyright © 2008 by Rick Belden. Excerpted from Scapegoat’s Cross: Poems about Finding and Reclaiming the Lost Man Within. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
About the Artist: Staci Poirier
Born in 1971 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Staci Poirier has always had a predilection for abstract art and expressionist art forms. She has spent time living and working in London (U.K.), Montreal, and the Northwest Territories. Her father was born in Selkirk, Manitoba and her family line stretches back to the Red River, and long before the confederation of Canada. Staci is extremely proud of her rich, Métis heritage, which includes French, Cree, Scottish, English, and Irish heritages. She has focused on acrylic painting and has been working with mixed media since 2002. In June 2012, she convocated from the University of Alberta, with Distinction, majoring in History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture. [Click to continue reading]