Saturday, 25 March 2017


for David

Abandoned children are a different species:
their vanished presence means they do not breathe
life in as others do; their signatures
are not their own; elsewhere is where they spend
their lives. So much locked out, so much locked in.

Abandoned children are a foreign species:
their faces do not show in any mirrors;
the world is not reflected in their eyes.
Their smiles serve to protect them: see them, see
them not. Their hidden hearts conceal. (Conceal.)

Abandoned children find themselves as adults:
still smiling; still elsewhere. Locked out. Locked in.
The secret is to see themselves in others –
those fellow travellers with their off-course childhoods –
who understand what vanished presence means.


  1. Educational, a maelstrom of evocative scapes. It is one of those panavision poems that show all that is missed in the way things are usually presented. You offer your poems like broken beautiful gifts and lines like this demonstrate the depth of emotional intelligence I admire in your work "So much locked out, so much locked in"

  2. So much locked out, so much locked in. A great description of lost or abandoned children, but like your mention of their smiling, brings the reality that the children can sometimes show so much courage and spirit that many of us would find it hard to imagine, let alone have any awareness that this is life to many. Great work Fergus.

  3. Thank you Fergus! indeed we are different from the norm and yet expected to conform to the norm: an impossibility. No one recognises this difference. it is beyond all those who have not been abandoned as a baby. the paradox is that it seems to only be in late middle age and onwards that we actually do ourselves the service of recognising ourselves as completely different and that on the grounds solely of that initial relinquishment never mind what followed. we are not normal, we are almost permanently mortally injured from our birth. The extent of such a colossal crippling can only issue in a subsequently shattered split consciousness. the inability to fit as a square peg of abnormality into a round hole of normality is our Sisyphus task; no one is going to help us with this least of all ourselves. Hence the catalogue of rolling up under our steam only to inevitably roll down under the weight of the rock and our own exhaustion; such is the internal stress as a constant but it is in my opinion preferable to being dead. People who have not this qualification simply cannot see it let alone empathise. first comment more to follow as and when. but yes we are different alright. Moreover our difference will never be accommodated. as you put it: locked in locked out and that simultaneously in every instant of our existence. is it any wonder then that we possess a golden porridge pot of identity dissonance ?

  4. foreign! yes moreso than any nationality it sounds bad but truthfully no matter how well-intentioned they were we were abducted by aliens and those who should have refused this for whatever reason were unable. once you've aclimatised to that alien land any dreams of 'home' being a resolution are but a mirage; that home is long gone and altogether irretrievable. the damage is done. as you say it appears the only resonance can be to observe the manifest likeness in one's fellow relinquishees, they appear to be the only mirror in which one is able to recognise one's difference from the norm, they alone share it. to look for mirroring in birthrelatives is a vain occupation or indeed in one's own progeny. only those of like severance can mirror, only they are in the painful secret and yet this latter mirroring seems a little to alleviate that pain, one is not alone after all. this rare difference endows a hidden beauty matched with a hidden ugliness; no end of paradox

    1. " look for mirroring in birthrelatives is a vain occupation or indeed in one's own progeny..." In the next poem, 'Search Elsewhere', I write about searching for my father 'elsewhere', because it is impossible to find him 'here'. Referring to the well-worn idea of genes/traits/talents/physiognomy/etc. skipping a generation, part of the 'elsewhere' where I might find my father is in my sons. We can also see certain features of ourselves in the genetic mirror of our children - and that feels like a miracle after a childhood where there were no mirrors (to compound that agonising absence - every family portrait is a case of spot the 'odd-one-out'). You're right: the only mirror in which we can recognise our 'difference from the norm' is the mirror of the fellow relinquishee (the word is a foil of truth to the lie of 'adoptee'). Us.

  5. and that vanished presence must be articulated, must be given voice, if it is to materialise; it should shout from the rooftops despite it all "I am HERE!" needless to say it will be ignored by all save those vanished present who are conscious of what they are. what trips it from unconscious to conscious i don't really know. the switch seems to trip around 45 or so

  6. these adults remain abandoned children historically and actually it is what they are; inevitably abandonment is petrified within them as a permanent relentless reality: I was kicked out of the nest in an instant, no wonder I refuse to let go of my children but hold on to them for dear life as though holding on to myself but they cannot really be me because they haven't been kicked out in an instant, rather the opposite. perhaps there, in them and not in me, is the redress of my ejection, premature ejection, instantaneous ejection.

    1. '...kicked out of the nest in an instant...' I strive for the honesty which you present in this phrase: it is brutal; and the truth is in the brutality 'of all of it'.