His Presence is Real


Mill dust covers the worn leather boots

At the base of the curtain

That is my bedroom door.


Lying in my metal-frame bed

I see the ghostly outline

Of my stepfather

Through its worn, flowered fabric.



It is not my imagination—

The stench of whiskey and stale tobacco


Tells me his presence is real.



He watches me

Through the long, narrow space

Between the curtain and wall

And I watch him

Through slits Of my partially closed eyes…  



© 2016 mandy smith

(excerpt from memoir)



Safe-Keeping Memories


While some young girls write stories

In pocket-sized diaries

About horses

And their search for Prince Charming,

I draw up my account

Page after page

About a depraved stepfather

Bad-tempered stepmother


And rape.


In time

Realization comes–

The tiny locks

On those diaries

Aren’t enough

To safeguard

My secrets from others.


Thwarted from putting pen to paper

I have no choice

But to find a place

That is mine alone

Locked away from intruders

Whose desire it is

To silence me

From revealing the facts–

Hoping to render me mute.


Now, recollections of the past,

Words and images of the truth

Are at home

In my memory,

Where they’ve become me

And I’ve become them…



© mandy smith 2016