Excerpt for To Carry Me Through: Poems by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

To Carry Me Through

R.S. Oswald

Copyright 2017


They come to me at the worst of times:

The shadows of my past,

The monsters known as Memories.

I'll escape them, for a little while.

I'll feel like she never denied me of love,

Like I was never abused or abandoned or afraid.

But then I'll fail at some minor thing,

Or someone will mention her.

Then I'll slip up, and they'll find me.

Their claws leave no physical mark,

But I know when they come.

“I'm sorry!” I’ll yell,

Even when I did nothing wrong.

“I'm stupid,” I'll whisper,

Although everyone assures me that I'm anything but.

The hateful memory monsters leave, for now,

But I've lost another battle against them.

I can run,

But I can never, ever hide.

Why I Don't Like Autumn

I come alive in the summer,

But in the fall,

I'm a ghost.

I wander the hallowed hallways,

Quietly passing locker

After locker

After locker...

No one notices me

Except to stare.

No one speaks to me

Except when the teacher tells them to.

I disappear

Into the crowds of faceless Others.

My few friends have moved on by now,

Moved on to new groups.

That's why

I don't

Like autumn.

Mommy Dearest

I remember the exact moment

When I realized that Mommy Dearest

Might not love me anymore.

I was eight years old,

And it was the middle of the night.

I don't remember why they made me run--

Maybe that's for the better--

But in any case, they did.

My weak young muscles burned,

And when I couldn't push myself any further,

I collapsed, sobbing, onto the grass.


Put me in my room,

And she locked the door,

And she hated me, she was furious at me.

All I wanted was a hug,

But she denied me even that.

I was eight years old,

When the mother I idolized

Became the demon I feared.

Breaking Point

I hope I'm not like her.

I pray to God I'm not like her.

People say she liked reading;

So do I, and it makes me worry.

Do I have her face?

Tell me, someone--do I have her face?

On second thought, maybe I'd rather not know.

When they call her my mother,

I die a little inside.

Because although she's in my blood,

She will never,


Be family to me.

There Once Was A Girl

here once was a girl,

Who was a little different, but bright and happy.

Yes, her parents sometimes argued,

And it scared her.

But she loved life, and everything in it.

There once was a girl,

Whose Dad had no choice but to leave.

She missed him,

But she still had her mother and sister,

And they forged out a decent life together.

There once was a girl,

Who hated and loved this new man with equal ferocity.

He would buy her things, and make her mother laugh.

But soon, he became a tyrant,

Swearing, and yelling, and making her do unspeakable things.

There once was a girl,

Who was locked in a small room for a month.

Although she didn't mean to do anything wrong.

She was allowed to come out and eat, but anything else was forbidden.

And she didn't want to get out of bed, to face the long day.

Eight years old, and she'd given up on life.

There once was a girl,

Who earned her freedom.

And yet, she wanted to go back to her prison.

Brainwashed to care about horrible people,

She wandered around her foster home

Bleakly, in a depressed sort of haze.

There once was a girl,

Who needed years of therapy.

She was broken inside,

And all she could do was let the tears rain down,

As the full story finally poured out of her

Piece by sickening piece.

There is a girl,

Who has learned to feel more deeply

Both happiness and heartbreak.

After all she's been through, she still has hard memories,

But they're fading into the background,

And life goes on.

For Spanish Class

It is a sultry night in Spain.

The stars shine in the velvet sky,

Like polished silver in the hands of a metalworker,

Or like moonlight reflected off of a pond.

And a woman in a sunrise-red dress

Sings to her little girl:

"You are my child--

Tú eres mi niña.

I want to protect you-

Quiero protegerte.

The stars cast light on the world--

Las estrellas encienden luz en el mundo.

But you are more precious than any star.

Pero eres más precioso que cualquier estrella."


It only takes a moment

To pay a compliment to someone.

If you like your friend's haircut--

Tell them!

If you admire a classmate's dedication--

Let them know!

It might just start a spark

Of kindness and joy.

Save Us

For three months of the year,

I swim, and I read, and I'm free--



But for nine long months,

I'm like a trained animal,

In some cruel circus.

I jump through the hoops of standardized tests,

Threatened by a riding crop called failure.

I get up far too early,

And stumble through the morning,

Cramming my head with useless tidbits

(Some of which I don't even agree with).

My individuality disappears.

I conform to their expectations.

Did you know that,

During the school year,

I don't even consider myself a writer?

Since the only things I have time to write,

Are meaningless essays,

My novels

Get thrown out of the metaphorical window.

School is no longer about education.

It's about breaking our spirits.


I don't swear,

But if I ever got a chance

To say one thing to

The woman who was my mother,

I'm afraid it might be laced with expletives,

As harsh as the ones she launched at me

That night when our bond was severed.

I try not to hate, I try not to condemn,

But there is a special place in the Lake of Fire for people like

Her. People who abuse the innocent and the helpless.

I want to forgive, but how do I go about it

When she broke a part of me beyond repair?

I still flinch at raised voices.

I still get anxiety if I'm less than perfect.

I have struggled for nine years to bear the burden

Which she has placed upon me.

I wouldn't feel very sad, I'm willing to bet,

If I found out she was in prison,

Or dead.

Should I feel this way

About the woman who brought me into the world?

I wish I knew the answer.


I don't love her, in fact, I hate her more

Than I've ever hated anyone before.

I know it's not right, I know it's a sin,

But I'm drifting dangerously close

To letting the hatred win.

You broke my soul.

You left my life.

I'll never be whole,

This feeling's like a knife.

I feel so cold, and yet, my anger burns

Against the woman for whose love I yearned.

I just wanna find peace, I just wanna forget,

But that will never happen,

No matter my regret.

You broke my soul.

You left my life.

I'll never be whole,

This feeling's like a knife.

Send my regards to her.

Say I've given up on her...

I'm sorry, Lord, I wish I didn't feel this way,

But she destroyed a part of me,

And the rage is here to stay.

She used to be my mother, but she revoked that right.

I need You now, Lord, to help me find the light.

You broke my soul.

You left my life.

I'll never be whole,

This feeling's like a knife.

This feeling's like a knife.

The City of Gold

I was a lost and lonely sheep,

Trapped in my own sin,

But now I am God’s to keep,

This battle I will win!

We’re going, we're going to the City of Gold,

Where no one’s unhappy, and no one grows old,

Where people are peaceful, that's what I've been told,

We’re going, we're going to the City of Gold!


Some people might say she was never that cruel,

But I know better; I was under her rule.

She turned my life

To shattered shards,

And now it's time

To let down my guard.

I defy you, woman, I'm no longer your pawn,

I'm free from your clutches, it's time to move on--

I defy you, woman, my love for you is gone--

I renounce you, woman, as I enter the dawn!

Her blood is in me,

That I can't escape,

But the good news is,

I can change my fate.

I will not be like her,

I'll find my own groove,

I'll raise me a family,

And that'll how I'll prove:

I defy you, woman, I'm no longer your pawn,

I'm free from your clutches, it's time to move on--

I defy you, woman, my love for you is gone--

I renounce you, woman, as I enter the dawn


Roses are red,

And so was my face

When they forced me to


It was ninety degrees in the shade, and I wasn't allowed to stop...

No child deserves such a thing.

Violets are blue,

And so was the water of the town pool, where I saw her


I'd made it clear that I needed time, but I was tricked...

It took me three years to find the courage to go back there.

Roses are red,

And so is the couch

In my new home, my real home, my forever


I love my life now, and they can never take that away...

I thank God constantly that I'm safe.

Violets are blue,

And so is the sky,

The sun has risen both literally and metaphorically. And it's


My future, that is. I will persevere, and help others like me...

In any way that I can.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I survived,

And so will you.


These poems,

Do they help me or harm me?

These words,

Do they calm or alarm me?

Am I just


The past

Or am I


There's no way to tell.

For now, I'll keep

Writing about what happened

All those years ago.

But soon,

I know I'll have to move on

And dance to a different melody.

Gone Too Soon

Sixteen years ago,

On a fateful September morning,

The world lost nearly 3,000 lives.

People who just wanted to go to work,

Forced to make a choice between burning and falling.

Firefighters and first responders,

Killed while saving others.

And how could I forget

The passengers on Flight 93?

Those who fought against the terrorists

And crashed down in a Pennsylvania field

And died the deaths of heroes.

On September eleventh,

I will not forget them,

I will mourn the innocent victims.

Kids Like Me

The kids like me

Have screwed-up pasts,

That still haunt them.

Everyone can tell that we want so badly to move on,

But the darkness invades our minds

And causes our hands to shake.

The kids like me

Are inarticulate.

We know so much,

We think amazing thoughts.

But when it comes time to put it into words,

We stumble, we freeze, we forget.

The kids like me

Escape into fantasy.

We read and we write,

We find beauty in words on paper.

And sometimes these imaginary people

Are just as interesting as the real equivalent.

The kids like me

Want to save the world from war,

But we can't even save ourselves from sadness.

We cry a lot,

Partly because of our shattered self-worth,

And partly because of the suffering masses.

The kids like me

Don't work right, somehow.

Whether it's half-blind eyes,

Hidden behind lenses that are unusually thick,

Or it's weak legs, or it's something else entirely,

We know that our bodies are against us.

So if you're a kid like me,

Who doesn't know if anyone will truly get it,

Trust me, there are people out there that do.

Someone will know.

Someone is like you.

I hope this poem makes you understand.


They tell us what looks good

On college applications.

But I'd like to ask a question

(After raising my hand, of course):

Does sleep deprivation increase my credibility?

What about skipping lunch

Five days a week? It's better than eating the cafeteria food.

Or losing my passions

Because they don't fit in the curriculum?

Or being afraid,

So afraid

That my plans aren't valid

Because they don't include higher education?

No? Then why

Do they put us through these things?


Adam and Eve,

Tempted by a serpent,

Exiled from their garden paradise

And they fell.

Jesus Christ,

On His cross of wood,

Tortured to save the world.

And He fell.

Kings, queens, cities, empires,

All were eventually bested by time

And an ancient longing for glory.

And they fell.

Modern humanity,

Reaching for the stars, while digging our own graves

Repeating the mistakes of our fathers.

And we'll fall.

To Battle

I'm in a war with my old enemy:

Its name is Anxiety,

And until now,

It was more powerful than I could ever hope to be.

But I've been gathering my weapons:

My cannons of inner strength,

And my swords of hope.

I've been preparing for this war.

When the next battle comes,

I will not rest until Anxiety's soldiers have been defeated.

The Contest

I went on a field trip yesterday.

It was a last-minute decision--

For a long time, I thought I wanted to stay behind.

But some impulse, some curiosity, made me decide to go.

As we entered the forestry contest, the sun beat down.

And it only got hotter as the day went on.

We walked up and down hills, while the September day

Felt more like the middle of July.

By the end, I felt like a limp dishcloth, exhausted from the heat.

That said, I don't regret going.

If I hadn't done this, I would have spent my whole life wondering

What it was like, to participate.

Even though I'll never do it again,

I learned a valuable lesson:

Take chances. Allow yourself to leave the bubble

Of ordinary life.

You might like the experience. You might not.

But chances are, it's better than staying behind.

I Am My Own Worst Critic

I have never liked myself.

From a young age, I learned that my efforts

Were never enough.

I learned that the only way to survive

Was to apologize for everything.

Eventually, I decided I was stupid.

And then I began to compare myself to others.

I hated myself for not measuring up.

This inferiority complex lingers in my soul.

Even today, I feel like I'm

Too much, and yet not enough.


I want to leave my past so far behind,

That all the things that happened fall away,

And peace does come, forevermore to stay.

No longer are my memories a bind.

To happiness my desperate soul was blind,

For years and years my heart had turned to grey.

I never really had a lot to say.

But now, I will be brave and I’ll be strong.

I will think more deeply, and I’ll live,

It will be the hardest hill to scale.

Despite it all, I’ll prove the devil wrong,

I have so much to share, so much to give.

I’ll carry on, through wind and rain and hail.

Ode To The Individual

O commonness, cursed fading into the crowd!

The woebegone desire to hide the truth of yourself!

O circles and cliques of society!

The dangerous groups that assimilate their members into one!

Do not be fooled by their promises or their threats;

Stay unique, and keep your mind alive!

Here Lies My Youth

In the graveyard of the past,

There are rows and rows of tombstones.

And each one has an epitaph

Carved into the rocks.

Here lies the happy child I once was.

She died the day I learned

That what happened to me

Was actually abuse.

Here lies my respect for the woman

Whom I used to call my mother.

It has been buried for a long time,

And no one can resurrect it.

Here lies my love of school.

Killed by the realization

That the system has no room

For creativity and self-expression.

A Parting Verse

My poetry career will be finished

After I write these last few lines.

I still plan to write,

But my works will not include poems, anymore.

I need to focus on my prose. My fiction.

Thank you, dear readers,

For your time.

Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-20 show above.)