The gift is Home

our family

Nothing says home like the food you know, the smells that trigger head movies and the comforting arms and hands that picked you up and helped you mix and stir and “help” cooking when you were a kid. They now welcome you back into the fold, embrace your grown-upness but still visualised as the child, as you will always be. Family time is noise in the kitchen, clattering dishes and chattering mouths – we women of many words create more warmth with our talking breath, better than the lukewarm sun does, trying to impress us through a shameless glass. The men, young and old – three generations of my blood, gather around the finger food that has been laid out to stop them from starving before the main meal…if you believe that, you will believe anything.

My father, the patriarch, his unwilling body fighting his sharp, determined mind – his sharp, determined mind that used to beat his body has put its hands up and retreated. His brain is stronger than anything else, bar maybe his heart. He peers over his heavily framed glasses all the better to see a watch face his grandson has handed him to look at. His 80 year old eyes squint and recognise, the information is swift and he says the battery is a blah blah…..his mind as sharp as a knife. His son-in-law hands him a glass of wine which he carefully holds, the glass is heavy and cumbersome to him, due to his muscular dystrophy. He already can’t lift the glass to his lips but our mother brings straws with them so that he doesn’t have to.

His grandson, Jay, is a loud kid and is learning to pull his head in, but does show signs of promise with his unresearched fury at certain injustices. Maybe the same way my father felt about all of those things 60 years or more ago. My father brought all of us up to question everything, accept nothing at face value and to take risk in a positive way. He had a strong sense of what was right and fair and he brought four crusaders into the world to carry on that legacy. Give a shit, the majority of the population won’t – so you just have to. It’s your duty as a human being with the gift of life on this earth…

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Were you ever really here?

Dad in the middle - Holland

Sometimes I wonder if you were

ever really here

Somehow I know what’s true

when you were always there

But as life returns back

to a more even keel

I can’t help this wonderment

this dreamlike existence I feel

You are gone yet you remain

and as the world lazily spins on the same

those 70’s and 80’s – a very different look

maybe just a new chapter in my new story book

As you are not really gone

I will sing your same old song

And I will die at my age and my son

will turn the next blank page

© Kait King, 2015

Do the Right Thing

do the right thing

I saw a man dragging a puppy

that didn’t want to go

And everyone else in the street didn’t want to know

“Don’t get involved!” said a nervous Mr Hay

And he crossed over the street

to walk the other way!

I saw a brother pinch his little sister

on her tiny arm

How could anyone want to do

another body harm?

“Don’t get involved!” said a spiteful Miss Melissa

She won’t play with me at school

and is meaner than her sister

I saw a man shout

and push a woman to the ground

She bowed her head and was crying

but you couldn’t hear a sound

“Don’t get involved!” said a crabby Mrs Mend

And I wondered for over a month

if that poor woman had a friend

But now I’m older and I know better

I want to pass this message on

If there’s a body in need

you must always take heed

Because nobody wants to go through it

alone

© Kait King, 2015

I wish I could tell her

I wish I could tell her

While she’s trying harder

working it out

all her problems, hangups, pity and

self-doubt

And she tries too hard to achieve

because she’s lonely, angry,

she’s had no love to eat

And as far as this woman knows

it’s like a picture, no – a painting

or a movie, too slow

As far as this woman knows

it’s like fighting the fight

but not a fight that you chose

So she’s crying alone

no sleep at night

I wish I could find her

and tell her –

it will all be all right

© Kait King, 2015

The Most Important Thing

THe most important thing racoon

She married him

when she was 23

and he was 37

She thought she’d met

Prince Charming

and he thought he’d gone

to Heaven

It didn’t take long tho’

for him to change

his song

And feel like he

was imprisoned

It happened so fast,

turned life on its arse –

she fell undeniably

and beautifully pregnant

She had her baby alone

while he drank and whored

in their home

No, it hadn’t been long

he was just bored

and it was just wrong

He had already been here

twice in his life

He had other children

and more than one wife

So with dignity

and as a lady

she took nothing

with her

just her baby

She didn’t want half

of the furniture

or a share of

the bling

She knew

she had kept

the most important thing

© Kait King, 2015

Fused, but not at the hip

Fused but not at the hip

I was standing at the front desk, chatting to another work colleague and an awkward scrawny middle-aged man came up to the counter. I was in the watch-house at the Police Station. Being closest, I turned to talk to him. Behind me, I could feel everyone else cringe. I wasn’t sure why, but it dawned on me as I chatted with him to find out what he was here for, why the audible intake of air from my colleagues. I was just in work zone and had been troubleshooting all day.

Let me start from the beginning. When I turned up for work that morning – it was like 4 am or something horrific, being shift work. Anyway, we had three women and a man in our team that night and as shift changed over everyone caught up and swapped information – did the hand over thing. Of course we all gossiped about things we had dealt with, seen or heard that day, what the constables had been up to, failed at, succeeded in catching, blah blah blah and of course, some real oddities and this was one of them.

A young detective came into the office after his shift to catch up with us. I must say, he looked a little green around the gills but I didn’t think anything about it at the time. He gathered those of us who wanted to see (only myself and the guy I worked with), some evidential photographs of a case of abuse. It took a couple of seconds for him to get his personal screen and files up. He knew I was interested in the abuse of the vulnerable, certainly children, but the animals, handicapped and elderly were all in my sights and desperately needed help. So the photos upload to his screen and I take a second to understand what I’m looking at. I thought a burnt body initially and then realised she was on a gurney in a hospital with tubes and an oxygen mask swallowing her “White-walker”-type face. I turned to the detective and with a rather incredulous tone asked him if she was actually alive.

“She is,” he said, “she’s still alive. This woman’s son was supposedly looking after her. Somebody who managed to finally get into the house found her and called an ambulance.”

“I just can’t believe someone so thin is still sucking in air! And how old is she?” Her dirty, mottled skin was just managing to cling to the bones of her body. She was filthy – hadn’t been washed properly in years.

“She’s 92. When we got to the hospital they told us that it was a miracle. I personally think maybe not – poor woman. Her son hadn’t fed her properly or washed her, medical needs ignored. She had maggots crawling around in her vagina…”

“What the fuck! Are you serious man!?” I was mortified.

“I knew you’d love this case Kait,” he said smiling up at me from the desk chair. ” Not only that but her toes had fused themselves together – there was green mould and a stink you would never believe possible. She smelt dead but was breathing – the living dead, literally!” he looked quite pleased with himself at the reality of his reference.

“I’m absolutely stunned! So what did her son say…has he been arrested then?” I ask.

“No, not yet anyway – he’s coming in to be assessed by the psyche team and questioned. Apparently he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong…whatever!”

“Good grief! Who’s he been sleeping with if he thinks it’s normal for flies to come out of a woman’s hoohaa!” We had a bit of a giggle – it’s like that in the face of horror. Apparently she had gangrene as well, on her fingers and other extremities. One of the worst abuse cases I’ve ever seen and I’m sure many of the police – even seasoned ones – felt that way too.

So the day carried on and we had all sorts of shit hitting the fan – parolees, detainees, people who had lost kids, found kids, P cooks, drunken idiots, abusive situations – just the usual crap.

So anyway here is this awkward guy in front of me. I am my usual helpful self and ask him what I can do. He tells me he’s here for an interview with a certain detective. I contact the right detective to come and get him from the watch-house, in the meanwhile I say “So are you having a good day?” just to be polite and make his wait in a police station a little less awkward. I had no idea what he was here for – he could be being interviewed as a witness for all I knew. Well this was a trigger question for him as he just spilled his guts to me about how he had hurt his mother even though he was trying to look after her. He told me about the maggots and the mould – as if I was giving him the interview. It only took him a few minutes to vent his story and he stood quietly with his head down in front of my counter.

“How come you didn’t clean her or help her to clean herself?” I asked cautiously, making eye contact with him.

“Well….I….I….” he bumbled along.

“It’s OK,” I said “you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to…” I trailed off.

He looked pleadingly up at me and I could see tears peeking out of the corners of his eyes.

“I want to.” he whispered.

I kept quiet.

He took a deep breath in and said “That’s my mum y’know ? I don’t want to wash her there or her top chest or anything! It’s not right…I’m her son – not even a daughter – I couldn’t do it!” The tears fell off his face. After initially feeling slightly ill talking to him, I found I was feeling sorry for him.

“Hell, I can understand that.” And I certainly could.

“So can you tell me why she’s so thin then? Why didn’t you feed her anything?” I pushed on through because there must be some accountability here. How can he get out of this one? Surely if he’d fed her she wouldn’t look like this. I tried to keep the picture of the poor old woman in my head, the decrepit, stinking semi-corpse that was his mother, to give her justice and keep a strong mind in this.

“I tried – I tried everything but she wouldn’t eat anything! I tried to force her but she choked so badly I was afraid to give her anything…I know now that this was wrong…” he looked down at his shoes, the tears still rolling off his nose and landing on the stations’ loud carpet. “She was my mum and she used to beat the crap outta me if I talked back or didn’t do as she bid. So I listened to her when she shook her head away from the spoon or growled at me, I left her alone….I was scared…” A slipknot of snot was making it’s way out of his nose and I tried desperately to keep a gag down. I managed. I passed him a box of tissues gingerly – not wanting to touch his skin at all.

Thankfully the detective who was going to do the interview arrived and took him through the security doors to an interview room. I stood there for a moment and realised where the blame lay in this. Society, society was to blame. Yes, he was at fault for not contacting the hospital or some sort of care for his mother, but he didn’t know anyone would help him. Surely if his neighbours had just said hello once in a while to the slightly, strange, creepy guy he might not be suffering endless guilt as it dawns on him in his slow mind what he has actually done. And his mother would not have had to suffer the enduring starvation and pain she had. It is about accountability – but who is accountable? We call ourselves a welfare state but whose welfare are we really caring for? I consider this man and his mother both victims in this instance and a severe failure on our many organisations parts. He was charged with numerous offences relating to the abuse of the elderly. I wondered if he wanted to lay charges against his mum for what she had done to him – for the monster she had created in him who would become her living nightmare.

What’s really sad is he will more than likely end up like his mum did….

© Kait King, 2015

I am a Winner

iamawinner

Everyone is so obsessed with winning at everything – work, sports, relationships – absolutely everything. I wonder if those people who are so focused on winning every argument, every game, every decision – have ever thought that they can let it go – like everybody’s a winner in the biggest race of all as far as I’m concerned. If you’ve been born then you have won the biggest race of all! You are a winner – the biggest winner out of millions of other sperm that were in a race for life – I am a winner – we won! Now let’s just succeed at being our own very best here instead of obsessing about being better than someone else’s best…

The Slavering Beast

13ghosts bipolar schizo

He could see

and feel

a slavering beast

He could smell it’s

breath

see it’s sharpened

yellow teeth

It wanted him

to do

bad things

It felt like the

Devil with Hate

Not his usual state

of being

but any Angel

with wings

was going to be too late

It said that nobody

nobody

gave

two shits

And do everyone a

favour

Go ahead

slit your wrists

Kait King 2016

Creepy Creep Creeping

Creep_Film_Still-570x380

She didn’t want to know, y’know

She didn’t want to see

Her man had been behind her back

creepy creep creeping

Another in denial, sat

She really couldn’t believe

He really couldn’t have done that

creepy creep creeping

Your heart is not safe

it says

your children are in danger

the many you thought was ‘dad’ material

turns out to be that stranger…

creepy creep creeping

© Kait King, 2016

Go towards the light….

go towards the light

When I was a kid I grew up in a place called Somerset West in South Africa. It was beautiful and I have amazing memories living there with all of the beautifully changing landscapes and incredible wildlife. I used to go to school with a chameleon or a tobacco roller snake curled up in my pocket. I lived, breathed and ate horses (I always hated that saying – I would die before I ate a horse)…maybe…anyway, I was a happy-go-lucky kid. My parents were wonderfully social butterflies, having many dinners and do’s that were amazing. I would sneak downstairs and take a look at all the beautiful people and listen to their laughter and tinkling cutlery. My mother would let me have dessert upstairs while I watched TV way later than what I was supposed to. I had the dogs and cat crowded up in the den and kept hoping that I would be forgotten and could stay here, just like this, always.

Well that didn’t happen and life trundled on – I must have been about 14 or 15 years old and had my first boyfriend. My parents were out one night and so my boyfriend Mike, and I were over at my friends’ house across the road. Before we left we made sure the dogs were not able to get into the lounge, a light on the front porch was left on for when we came back and everything was locked up.

So we had a fun night with our friends’ and decided it was time to head back – my parents would be home soon and Mike had to go home too. We walked hand in hand down the long dark driveway and headed across the road. My house was lit up like a birthday cake. Every light in the house was on. Mike and I stopped dead in our tracks with our mouths open. I went to hurry forward and Mike held me back. We approached with more caution. The front door was also open…and all of the windows. We were terrified but for some reason instead of going back to my friends’ house we kept going towards mine. Mike pushed the front door open and we slowly went in – I was hanging on to Mike for dear life! Everything was super bright with every single light turned on, the guest toilet lights, the reading lamps beside the beds and the main lights…what the hell was going on? What was really weird is that the dogs were bailed into a corner in the kitchen. Not even where their beds were but squashed under the breakfast table. Now we had a Great Dane (Cleo), a Labrador (Lottie) and a Bouvier des Flanders crossed with an English Sheepdog, (Charlie). These were not little dogs or scaredy-cat dogs for that matter, yet they were cowering and terrified of coming out when Mike and I went in. Usually they were delighted to see us and went crazy even if we had only been gone for twenty minutes. The cat, Fluffy-bum, was nowhere to be seen either.

Mike and I scoured the house and turned off the lights and closed the windows – man, we were creeped out. Mike had to go so I reluctantly saw him off and kept the dogs close. I made sure I locked the front door behind me and checked the downstairs windows with a trail of pets behind me. While I wandered around the house trying to feel safe, yet believing I may be locking something in with me rather than keeping something out.

Suddenly I could smell something burning. I poked my nose outside to find out if there was a bush fire somewhere but I could only smell the delicately cloying Wisteria and Jasmine that threaded the hedge. I hurriedly retraced my steps, the dogs got in the way of course and I stumbled over them several times in my hurry. I couldn’t find anything that was turned on now – I had turned it all off! I checked the power outlets all around and unplugged anything that wasn’t being used but nothing was melted or smelt as if it was burning. I checked the oven, the laundry where the iron was – nothing, not a heated thing. I went into the den and turned on the TV. Lottie, Cleo and Charlie followed me in and clambered onto the sofa with me. Fluffy-bum had turned up and wiggled her way in amongst all of the dogginess. I wondered when Mum and Dad would be home, I hoped soon…

Next to the sofa was an old cane rocking chair and foot stool that would now and again crack due to the change in temperature so that was nothing new. But y’know how cats suddenly stop doing what they are doing and just stare at something you know is not human and may be a ghost or something like that. But you don’t want to believe it when it’s in your own lounge. So Fluffy-bum is washing herself, and the dogs’ faces in between their fluttering lip snores and does this petrified statue thing, looking at the old cane rocking chair. It cracks and I think nothing of it. Something has changed, the snoring has stopped and all three dogs are awake, lying there with their eyes open but they had not picked up their heads. That was really strange – they leapt up at anything in a race to meet it, greet it or eat it.

The cane chair cracked some more and then became regular as the chair started tipping back and forth, rocking… I shot straight off the sofa – cat and dogs flying. Something had changed in me – I was fed up with this torturous unknowing. I stormed over to the lounge door – ripped it open and yelled over my shoulder, “GET OUT! YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE – GET OUT!” and carried on like a tornado to the front door – ripped that one open, after I fumbled around unlocking it and yelled the same thing behind me. I stopped in my tracks as I felt something move and shift in the atmosphere.

“I’m sorry…” I whispered, “I’m scared of you, I don’t know who you are but I don’t want you here. You need to go to the light, just go…” and I closed the front door. I walked back into the lounge, I felt shattered but hugely relieved. I looked towards the welcoming sofa where Lottie, Charlie, Cleo and Fluffy-bum sat waiting. They looked relaxed and content. I plonked myself down and Fluffy-bum came over, she looked up at me and closed her beautiful green eyes in a smile of thanks and curled up on my lap after a couple of raspy kisses on my hand. Somebody released some of their dogginess and we were almost back to normal. I heard Mum and Dad’s purring car and saw the headlights sweep over the windows in a comforting light – wondering if whomever I had chased out of our house felt as comforted as I did right now, I really hoped so.

Mother’s Day every day

My Mum and Dad in Queen St, Auckland 1956 I walk down the aisle my eyes passing over cards word springing out about Mum going the whole nine yards And I stop to read a few The words just seem insipid when I think of you, Mum A journey into the intrepid Four babies later and over 60 years married Through wars, tonsillitis, tears and love you tarried Now here I am a mother too And these words I say: “I love you” Have also come from my son’s mouth and heart But to say them to you doesn’t even begin to start to express what a fantastic Mum you’ve been You’ve done a good job, I’m a good human being So I tell you you’re an amazing Mum and people are proud of the job you’ve done!

© Kait King, 2015