Letting go of the demon's hand -21 days of poetry and other words from my journeys to and from the light

Letting go of the demon's hand -21 days of poetry and other words from my journeys to and from the light


Letting go of the demon's hand - day 1


Resisting the call to adventure


Standing in the dark,

You’ll never know if it’s

The familiarity of the shadows

Or the fear of the light

That drives.


Standing on the outside

You’ll never know

If it’s the comfort of


Or the strangeness

of acceptance

that compels you.


Standing on the edge

You’ll never know

If it’s the desire to drown

Or the need to swim

That saves you.


Again and again you’ll

Be called.

To allow success or

To fight to lose

So will you accept

Or reject

The call to adventure



Letting go of the demon's hand - day 2


A strange snapshot

 He’s there, a boy squats in the shadows, alone, poised over an empty husk of skin. Ready to smack any hint of movement as that’s what he’d been told to do. He can't remember who told him but he feels it must be someone significant.

He’s remained in his post because like all good boys he does what he’s told and he always has. Even when he didn’t understand it, even before he was aware enough to question what he’d been told let alone the impact it has on him or had on him.

He remains dutifully at his post, unsure of how long he has been there. Not knowing how long he should remain there. The one he was guarding has gone, moved on to a different place leaving just an empty shell behind. A husk that he diligently guards.

The boy hasn’t noticed the change, dutifully prepared to smack, hit or stab any movement that his adversary may make. Any sense of  insurgency must be especially subdued. The shadows make it difficult to see, the loneliness has become familiar and he’s accepted his lot as all good boys do.

Time has no meaning as there is no change and each moment is to be endured just as the one before it was and the one after it should be.

If the boy knew or understood the concept. He would wonder if this was purgatory, but he doesn’t and he endures long after the one he was told to guard and if necessary punish has gone. A tableau in shadows.

The mundaneness has numbed his heightened senses causing a contraditction and forcing him to become a throbbing exposed nerve and then someone asks “what are you doing, why are you hurting yourself?”



Letting go of the demon's hand - day 3


 But that doesn’t make them


The bars of your prison are familiar,

 But that doesn’t make them



The bricks of your prison are solid

 But that doesn’t make them



The messages you received are many,

But that doesn’t make them



The wounds you accepted are numb,

But that doesn’t make them





Letting go of the demon's hand - day 4


 Another strange snapshot,


In amongst the shadows of a cloudy night there's someone else who needs to be seen and acknowledged. You may not have seen him, but he is there and you have experienced his handiwork.

Our relationship with fire is an old one, one that mirrors our relationship with the sun. Each time the sun rises, it brings with it; light, warmth and hope. Even though the sun stands at the centre of our solar system. With its light we become more aware of ourselves and those around us and even the noble life giving sun seems to circle us in adoration.

Each time you set spark to a fire or light a candle. Do you see the light that shines on your face or feel the warmth that suffuses you. With the banishing of darkness it feels as if everything is alright with the world because you can see it.

So how do you consider the man who comes along just to put out the candles that you lit or the fires you started? What about the light that has gone and the warmth that is no more?

At first, you may not be aware of what is going on, but then, you begin to get suspicious and after that you begin to wonder; why, why is he blowing out my candles, why is he putting out my fires and maybe even what have I done to deserve this?

You try to reason with him, but much like the shadows he brings, he’s a force of nature leaving both you and the light you brought in darkness.

Then you turn to yourself to ask the same questions; why, why is he blowing out my candles, why is he putting out my fires and maybe even, what have I don’t to deserve this?

This time the answers come; they come thick and they come fast. At times you wish they didn’t and find yourself sitting in the shadows wondering if you can live in the night or if you would die for the day.



Letting go of the demon's hand - day 5


I wonder where the tears have gone.


Another day, another reason to sit alone and weep,

But all I can do is wonder where the tears have gone.

Another fall, another opportunity to brush away the mud,

But all I can do is wonder where the tears have gone.

Another no, another chance to wonder if the wounds will heal,

But all I can do is wonder where the tears have gone.

Another rejection, another chance to contemplate failure,

But all I can do is wonder where the tears have gone.

Another silence, another secret to keep,

But all I can do is wonder where the tears have gone.

Another nail, another dream turns to dust

But all I can do is wonder where the tears have gone.




Letting go of the demon's hand - day 6

 A third snapshot.


Can you see there, another lonely face in the shadows, perhaps this is the last one, perhaps not. Like the others he was left there alone in the shadows.

He’s been hidden in the dark so long that he doesn’t know if it’s truly dark or if it’s because his eyes are closed.

He’s floated hither and yon like a seed on the wind. Spun around and around in all directions until he doesn’t know which way to turn to the sun or where the moon is. He doesn’t know if he is upright or upside down.

He just floats and spins in a space in a darkness that feels so all encompassing, so complete.


In some ways he has given up hoping because it hurts more when dreams aren’t fulfilled. Perhaps he’s been beaten into submission.

Don’t hope and don’t dream because if you do you’ll be beaten for raising your head in hope or the fire of dreams you light to keep you warm will be put out indifferently and callously.

And you’ll be left cold and lonely with the message that boys like you shouldn’t dream and if you do dare to dream or hope it’ll be the worse for you.


In such a cold and dark place life becomes something to be endured. As you flee like a frightened animal from your pursuers. Scrabbling from one shadow to the next.

Even the thought of hope is lost in the midst of time and dreams feel as if they belong to another place.

All you have left is the tatters; tatters of who you were, tatters of dreams that never came true and tatters of hope that you’ve left behind you like a trail of blood for your trackers to follow.






Letting go of the demon's hand - day 7


 Would it be so wrong


 Would it be so wrong

To treat my ills with poison?


Would it be so wrong,

To admit that I’m lost in the shadows?


Would it be so wrong,

To not get up the next time I fall?


Would it be so wrong,

To acknowledge my failures?


Would it be so wrong,

To not just drink but to drown?


Would it be so wrong,

To deny faith?


And would it be so wrong,

To not just stop hoping

but caring too?



Letting go of the demon's hand - day 8


Oh you lucky ones


Oh you lucky ones standing in the sun,

Hear us standing in the shadows,

There are worse things than death.

Sometimes life can be incurable


Oh you lucky ones drinking from streams,

See us standing in the puddles,

There are worse things than brackish waters.

Sometimes life can poison.


Oh you lucky ones singing songs of union,

Hear us wailing in the distance,

There are worse things than loneliness.

Sometimes a lover cuts deep.


Oh you lucky ones dreaming of retirement,

See us shuffling towards you,

There are worse things than old age.

Sometimes childhood breaks you.


Oh you lucky ones longing to be set free.

See us shackled for unknown offences.

There are worse things than being held.

Sometimes an embrace burns.



Letting go of the demon's hand - day 9


A fourth snapshot – A torch flickering in the shadows.


 Do you ever wonder how you arrived in a particular time or place, especially if it is somewhere that is going to hurt emotionally or physically?

That’s where he’s decided to go for some reason, with one of those hand charged torches. Can you picture the scene inside a deep dark cavern a lone man wanders with a hand-powered torch that he occasionally has to stop and wind-up so that it can give him a flickering light which he can use to examine the skeletons and fossils of monsters from days, if not years gone by.

He’s not sure what he is looking for, perhaps it’s an answer to his problems, an adversary to overcome or a prize that will help him make ‘sense of it all’. However all he seems to find is shells and the dried skin of the ones who came before. Neither of these things tell him if they were successful or if they died as un-fulfilled as he fears he will.

He’s not sure how long he must search or for whom. However he continues hoping that somewhere, somehow he will be given a sign telling him to stop. What he doesn’t seem to have realised is that in places like this, deep in the darkness, deep in the shadows. There are no signals or signs apart from the ones we give meaning to or decide to act upon.

So he searches and hopes that he will find something of value that will help him to value himself. Not realising or perhaps not wanting to realise that only he can give himself meaning or value to any treasure that he finds.




Letting go of the demon's hand - day 10


What scares you?


Have you ever wondered

What scares you,

Is it the fear of being left alone

Or found where you are?


Have you ever wondered

what scares you,

is it the belief you’ll be rejected for who you were

or accepted for who you are?


Have you ever wondered,

What scares you,

Is it the dread that someone may poison you

Or that they’ll try and heal you?


Have you ever wondered,

What scares you,

Is it that terror that you might die tomorrow,

Or that you’ll live a long life.





Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 11


A fifth snapshot – The arid man.


Unlike some of the other shadow filled snapshots, this one is of a man stuck in the desert under the midday sun.

As only a desert filled with sand dunes that are caressed by errant breezes causing sand to drift forlornly can capture how lonely and desiccated he feels.


He’s not sure where the tears have gone or when they left all he knows is that he doesn’t seem to have any for himself and more than that when it comes to singing himself a calming or healing song even his heart strings have snapped.

Perhaps the desert is a fitting environment for him as where else could he be standing in midday sun and feel so lost and alone. Where else could he scoured clean and still be dry.

Why do we never wonder what sin the desert committed to be so barren and dry? In the same way why do we never wonder when the tears won’t flow for ourselves let alone for anyone else?

Who told us we weren’t worth anyone’s tears, especially our own. Whose disapproving looks and frowns caused our tears to be dammed behind a locked door whose key we either can’t find or don’t want to find?



Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 12


It’s shit


Its shit being lost again.

Its shit looking at a map

And not knowing where you are

Or how you got there.


It’s shit sinking again.

It’s shit floating in an ocean

And not knowing which way to swim

Or how far.


It’s shit drinking poison again

It’s shit not slaking your thirst

And not knowing if you’ll get unwell

Or how sick.


It’s shit losing hope again

It’s shit not having faith

Or risking to dream.


It’s shit wanting to die again.

It’s shit not daring to live.

Or gambling on life.


Letting go of the demon's hand - day 13


An unlucky for some snapshot.


 There’s another man in the shadows, he’s spent so long looking down or away he doesn’t know if life really is all shadows or if it’s just because he’s never looked at the light.

He’s spent so long trying to avoid other people’s scrutiny that he’s not sure if he can hold up his head. He’s been taught that all those looks are full of; judgement, disappointment and disapproval.

He doesn’t know if the shadows are really there or it’s just because he’s always looking down. No-one taught him how to look up let alone how to look someone else in the eye.

Even if he does fleetingly glance up he’ll look back down again before he sees the disappointment or disapproval in your eyes. Sometimes the fear of those things is enough to keep his head bowed.

Even in a crowd he is lonely because he doesn’t see those around him and believes that they don’t see him either.

There are times he hopes someone will see him and wonder what ails him, there are times he hopes the light of someone’s regard will shine in his direction and frighten away the shadows.

These times are few and far between because he he’s not sure he’s seen and at times if he even exists outside the shadow bound existence that he is trapped in.

Secretly, even from himself, he hopes, he hopes that one day someone will not just see him but will see him and tell him that he is good, he is worthy and he is ‘alright’.

Those words maybe even lighting a flame that lights up his existence and banishes the shadows.

However, for the moment, there’s another man in the shadows…


Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 14


Reaching for the demon’s hand


Was it a fear the angels had left you behind,

That made you reach for the demon’s hand?

Was it the doubt that you weren’t worth the light,

That made you retreat into the shadows?

Was it the worry idea your song wouldn’t be heard,

That made you take a vow of silence?

Was it the terror of being left alone,

That made you accept the demon’s touch?

Was it dread the angels wouldn’t call your name

That has made you invisible.

Was it the trauma of childhood,

That made you old before your time?




Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 15


A blurry snapshot


Like all of the others this snapshot is founded very much in the shadows. So much so that one of the first questions that arise is where in the midst of the shadows is our subject? You won’t see him if you look too closely or carefully as he doesn’t want to be seen. Perhaps if you look away and look back you will catch a fleeting glimpse of something. You may not know what it was you saw, but a part of you would have registered it.


Amidst the shadows is a large overcoat, time has bleached it of a specific colour and the shadows have tinged it grey. However there is a pattern that distinguishes it from its surroundings and someone in the middle of the overcoat is the reason for its existence. At first he thought he hid there because it was warm and re-assuring like a kindly grandfather but now he wonders if there’s more than that.


In case you hadn’t guessed there’s a little boy hidden in the middle of the overcoat deep in the shadows. At first it was a safe place for a boy who’d been left behind to hide, then it was a little tight and smelled ‘gamey’. Now it’s squeezing and choking as without his realising the little boy has become a man and neither of them know how to escape from of their prison.






Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 16


Shame tinted blinkers.


 For the sake of diversity and equality we need to acknowledge that if there are people who are fortunate to have and be wearing ‘rose-coloured spectacles’ there must also be people who are wearing shame tinted blinkers.

Where roles coloured spectacles help us to see the world with a lovely pink hue and the world as a pretty place full of people who want to love and care for each other. Shame tinted blinkers in some ways could be considered to be the exact opposite.

Shame tinted blinkers force those of us who have been made to wear them to live in a reality where it’s our fault that we can only see part of what is going on around us and maybe even believe that we only deserve to see a part of what is around us.

Like dray horses we have become beasts of burden and life is something to be endured rather than enjoyed as our brethren who are wearing rose tinted glasses seem to be. It’s not just the blinkers, shame tinted or otherwise that are our problem. It’s the whole set-up; harness, dray and someone with a whip to make us go in a particular direction at a particular speed.

So, that’s what we do, not because it’s right or wrong, but because that’s what we’ve been taught to do from an early age, wear our shame tinted blinkers and drag our burdens behind us. After a while, we don’t even imagine a better time or place where we may get to wear the rose tinted glasses.

We’ve been so beaten into submission that we don’t even have to be wearing the blinkers for the world to be tinted with shame and we assume that this is our lot, this is all we deserve. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, who knows, maybe even for ever?



Letting go of the demon's hand - day 17


All that matters is that someone is there to lead you.


Once again someone is trying to pull you through the quagmire.

You don’t know if it’s away from something or towards somewhere.

All that matters is that someone is there to lead you.


The shame and pain tell you the demon has grabbed your hand.

You don’t know for how long and you don’t know why.

All that matters is that someone is there to lead you.


You want to be away from the sadness and longing.

You don’t know if you’ll fall in a ditch or lost in a forest.

All that matters is that someone is there to lead you.


There are worse things that being dead.

You don’t know if you’re going away from the light or into the dark.

All that matters is that someone is there to lead you.


You’ve given up hoping for angels.

You don’t know if there’ll be redemption or hope.

All that matters is that someone is there to lead you.


Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 18


Confusion in all its forms


The paradox is,

There’s a part of you that wants to blow out the flame,

While another parts wants it to shine.


The dichotomy is,

Those who claim to build you up are also the ones

who would knock you down.


The contradiction is,

Laughter can cut like a knife

While tears can heal.


The conflict is,

Love can be withheld or withdrawn

While pain gives its all.


You’ve been confused,

Until you don’t know the right way to turn.

So you lie in the mud.


Until the demon grabs your hand.




Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 19




At the heart of it all.




Picture him, the one at the heart of all these shadows. A lost and lonely boy, silent and watchful. What was going on around him scared him so much that at first he sought refuge in the shadow, then shelter and finally a place to feel safe and belong.


In return the shadows were at first a shawl to wrap him in, then an itchy woollen jumper and finally a big coat so that no one could see how sad, lonely and alone the boy was. A big coat that was capped with feelings of shame and guilt.


The shadows called; the ghosts of things that had happened, the spectres of the things that could have happened and the furies of thing that were happening. Finally a demon came to grab his hand and claim him.


Once the boy had wished to be less alone and now he longed for it as doubts and fears gnawed at him below the big coat that was stop him feeling; sad lonely and alone.


The more he tried to fill the holes created by the gnawing doubts the emptier he felt. The more he tried to cover his face and his fears the lonelier he felt.


In amongst the moans and groans he could hear a wailing that he knew was his and which repeated “This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. How did this happen?”


Even the demon’s grip that had felt re-assuring now burned and blackened.


The big coat with its cap wasn’t re-assuring.


“Surely” he reasoned someone will help me. Someone will tell me what to do. So he waited and waited until he came to realise that; the ghosts lamented what had happened, the spectres moaned what may happen and the furies decried what was happening. No rhyme nor reason. No sense or song. And the demon, the demon just laughed knowing that he’d won without having to do anything.



Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 20


Do you let?


Do you let the shadows taunt you,

Because no one praised you?

Do you let the monster hurt you,

Because no one held you?

Do you let the spectres wound you,

Because no one healed you?


Do you let the demon shame you,

Because no one loved you?




Letting go of the demon's hand - Day 21




The demon’s redemption




You thought the angels had turned their back on you.


So you welcomed the demon reaching for your hand.


You thought the demon hated you.


So you welcomed the punishment and pain.


You thought the demon wanted to beat you.


Not realising your redemption


Was his too.