Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

This series follows 5 years of emotional turmoil, mostly as a retrospective. Since a young age, the woman had built a mental wall around herself to protect herself against the outside world, to prevent the world from hurting her. Then, one day, the wall fell apart andleft her vulnerable. Now a childlike woman wanders among the rubble of this mental wall, picking pieces of the debris for closer inspection. While the wall was in place she had no need to grow up; now she is an innocent abroad. As she wanders among fallen stonework, a lone flute mourns in counterpoint to the soft low lullaby of the wind among the few intact portions of the wall. A group of women approach her through the clouds of dust, led by a dreamy-eyed woman with honey-pale cascading hair and an impractical romantic outfit of ruffles and bows and a tall woman with short peroxide hair, too gaunt to be considered attractive - her face all sharp angles and dark starved hollows, her skin-tight jeans highlighting her gauntness. They hold out their hands to the childlike woman and she accepts them. A multitude of half-seen faces follow Kristal, the romantic, and Aphrodite, the love goddess. Together they rebuild the wall.

Poems: Kristal series, Aphrodite series

Over time, others come forward and introduce themselves. They are the offspring of the romantic and the anorexic and each will serve the childlike woman for a while. Each is a facet of the woman's own personality. Each concentrates on a different section of wall and each section is different, mirroring its creator. Aphrodite builds a stark facade, Kristal’s section has flying buttresses. The childlike woman meets each of the builders and learns their stories.

Poems: Belladonna, Champagne, Rapunzel, Fuligia, Claudia

The wall is built, but the women are now on the inside with the childlike woman and she does not know how to control them once their task is complete. They begin to wind chains around her, first Kristal and Aphrodite then each of the others in turn. When she is wrapped securely they push her into a shadowy corner and forget about her while they play at running the fortress. Chaos ensues as each pulls in a different direction; alliances shift and change, friendships are transient, fleeting things. The name of the fortress is insanity incorporated.

Poems: Kernel series

At last, a stern woman with dark hair appears in their midst. She ascends a dais and calls for silence. At her heels is a beast part Rottweiler, part dragon. She is The Dragonqueen and her attendant is Chimaera; together they assume rulership over the assembled facets. Insanity is not banished but it is harnessed and the facets are tamed or repressed. Some bemoan this repression, viewing it not as integration but as death. Finally, an image is projected to the outside world.

Poems: Dragonqueen series, Requiems

The facets no longer function as individuals but as components of a greater whole; to be used as masks in the great Masque of Life. Meanwhile in an unvisited corner of the fortress, The Kernel, though chained, has erected a mirror through which she can peep over the walls of her prison. The outside world can also look in but what they see, and what they believe to be the Kernel, is merely a distorted image of themselves. Slowly the image projected by The Dragonqueen pushes the childlike woman aside and those who look in the distorting mirror look at the reflection of an emptiness where once the Kernel existed and see only themselves.

Poems: Mirror of the Soul, Images series

The dominion of The Dragonqueen is complete until another facet becomes strong enough to make an attempt on the throne. Each attempt at rebellion is a period of blackness as it is quashed, but The Dragonqueen realises that one day her throne will be forfeit. Who then will rule the chaotic fortress?

The "Requiem" cycle loosely links Kristal, Aphrodite and the Dragonqueen. "Belladonna" and "Champagne" connect to the cycle.

Kristal and Aphrodite actually co-existed for a while before Kristal was pushed into the background and the self-destructive Aphrodite took the driving seat. Kristal ceased to exist as a pure personality although shadows of her sometimes flit across Dragonqueen’s visage when she remembers. Kristal never interacted with the world to any great extent and was safe. Aphrodite was too eager to conform and consequently over-compensated for Kristal. The transition period from Kristal to Aphrodite was one of much conflict and included a period of total breakdown; when Kristal’s barriers against life fell to her successor’s aggressive persona.

Belladonna followed Aphrodite and was a tougher version of Kristal, an untouchable inner core and an uncaring facade which interacted with the world. Belladonna caused an awful lot of pain and was more self-destructive than her predecessor, Aphrodite, and deliberately caused herself pain (via others) in order to harden herself against people and justify her belief that friendship was an undesirable weakness. While Aphrodite harmed only herself, Belladonna took almost perverse delight in intense, brief relationships and breaking the hearts of others. Champagne was the other side of Belladonna, the side that tried to hide itself behind a smokescreen of nicotine; the tortured Kristal crying out against the shackles of cruel Belladonna.

The Dragonqueen is a composite and therefore a compromise. She is mutable but ultimately a survivor - like steel she can be tempered but not completely broken, perhaps because she has nothing left to break. An aggressive facade protects a vulnerable heart. While taunts and jests seem never to touch her she is in fact deeply hurt and a great well of bile festers. When it erupts there follows a period of confusion both internally and for others. She cannot easily understand friendship and prefers to distance herself from people to avoid being hurt yet is eager to impress others; she craves affection but is frightened by it. Being a compromise she lacks drive and direction and is basically confused by her conflicting urges. She retains parts of the main facets:

Belladonna, who hurts the world before it can hurt her
Aphrodite, desperate for affection, who wants to be worshipped
Kristal, who needs dreams as an outlet for pent up emotions
Champagne, who inwardly cries against the injustice of it all.

"Rise of the Dragonqueen" is about the compromise. "Dragonqueen Remembers" is a nostalgic piece, wondering at the wisdom of it all. "Dragonqueen" highlights the basic instability of the compromise and how easily the events affect her, even if she does not show it outwardly. "Masks" shows how one person can wear different faces while "Masque of Life" generalises this and states that everyone changes during the course of a lifetime and ultimately that the next life (on whatever plane, in whatever form) is yet another change of masks. Other pieces are links and bridges.

Copyright 1985, S Hartwell

At least she has her beauty
That we understand her madness
Tragic in her glory
And glorious in her sadness

Understand her desolation
As an error of her being
While her soul seeks compensation
In the glory we are seeing

The salvation she is yearning
Is tempered with despair
While the power we see burning
Has a lost and lonely air

We see before us beauty
A veneer for inner sadness
And hold it up for admiration
Ignoring beauty’s madness

The first of the facets to surface from the early wreckage was the dreamy, unwordly Kristal. Kristal existed during the final years at High School.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Kristal dreams alone at night.
Fantasies like fragile bubbles rise
into her mind.
When Kristal closes sapphire eyes
and leaves the world behind.

She dreams of things she’s never had;
Like friends and riches, diamond rings
and lovers’ trysts,
And all the thousand little things
that she has missed.

She dreams alone beneath the covers
Imagining a different lover
every time.
Life inside a ping-pong ball
Of shadow phantoms on her wall
A never-ending floating fall
Of breaking out from behind her wall
One day.

Kristal dreams, her thoughts are fishes,
Darting before her eyes like silver wishes,
Her life is so much candle smoke,
Blown by the breeze, a cruel joke
But Kristal doesn’t laugh because she
cannot recognise
That her life is woven of sweet lies
It is desperation in disguise,
And tears squeeze ‘tween the lashes of her
sapphire eyes
As Kristal dreams.

Her heart is full of party hats
and paper streamers
But the party’s invitation only
And nobody’s invited lonely
To the ball.

Kristal dreams alone at night,
Her thoughts are feathers,
fragile bubbles,
Full of hopes and burst by

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

She’d jump but it takes too much effort
It’s just too much trouble to make the decision,
That’s why she continues her day-to-day life
Nobody’s girlfriend and nobody’s wife
She’s not living, she’s merely existing.

She sits on the sidelines of life,
Just a spectator, not a participator,
She acts like a ghost that’s not really there,
Nobody speaks to her but she doesn’t care,
She’s already lost in her own fabrications.

Life isn’t good to Kristal but,
Kristal’s never been good at life
She spends her time dreaming and losing her soul
In a make-believe world that she can control
A substitute world in her mind.

One day she’ll end all the lies,
She’ll dredge up the courage to leave
Her make-belief life and her make-belief lovers
And when her mortal remains are discovered,
Only make believe friends will grieve.


Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

 When Kristal throws a party in her mind
It's full of noble modern knights
And dashing princes, gracious ladies
Parading swanlike in her sight.

The lords are dressed like gypsy kings
The ladies have their satin dresses,
Silks and chiffon, lace and tulle,
And diamonds pinning up their tresses.

In her deepest fantasies
Prince Charming asks the pleasure of the dance
And Kristal glides onto the checkered ballroom floor
Floating like a goddess in a trance.

While all the radiant, ladies, elegant and fine
Watch in naked jealousy
As Kristal and the dashing Prince
Minuet and waltz so gracefully.

The time is passed most pleasantly
Beneath the diamond chandeliers,
Which overlook the jewelled scene
With glassy crystal tears.

In her deepest fantasies
Prince Charming asks the pleasure of the dance
You can see how Kristal’s eyes light up
When she reaches this point in her trance.

Then her sapphire eyes glaze over
As life intrudes on Kristal’s faerie ball
And she returns to the real world
Feeling insignificant and small.

Poor Kristal! There are no shining knights
To fight her battles for her
No dashing prince to take her hand
And lead her across the dancing floor.

In all her thoughts and all her dreams,
She’s saved by gallant knights,
Or she’s some dashing heroine
With victory in her sights.

In her deepest fantasies
Prince Charming asks the pleasure of the dance
And Kristal takes his arm and waltzes
Through the realms of her romance.


Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Kristal’s letting go at last
She’s come to terms with herself, her time has passed
She no longer needs all those delicate dreams
No more substantial than gossamer thread
Like sweet candy floss inside of her head
All sickly and sweet with their soft focus scenes.

Her world in soft focus is groing more clear
The last bridge, her Rubicon is perilously near.
Armageddon comes calling and Prince Charming has fled
And soon stark reality’s tones will collide
With the black and white world she clings to inside
And Kristal can’t cling to the few tattered threads.

The band has stopped playing, the chandelier shatters
On the chequerboard dance floor where Kristal’s life mattered,
The bubbles are rising to the surface of life
Soon they will burst and end Kristal’s dreams
The real world intrudes on the fantasy scenes
Built out of self-pity when the reality did not suffice.

Soon the great wall of illusion has crumbled
The onslaught of the real world leaves it broken and tumbled
Fumbling in the ruins, clutching at straws
For her gossamer dreams blown away in the wind
But this world is real - how it hurts to leave her world behind
Just another few tablets and she won’t care anymore

Kristals letting go at last and no-one cares;
She had no friends, no need to make amends before she went,
But life was hard, she couldn’t heal the scars
It left within her mind so she chose to leave it all behind
Kristal’s letting go.

While she existed, dreamy Kristal was kept in balance by self-destructive Aphrodite. Kristal wanted to hide from the world, Aphrodite wanted desperately to conform to society's norms even if it meant harming herself. They co-existed for a long while. Aphrodite was born of conscious decision in the last year at High Shool.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Perched precariously or teetering on tiptoe
Along wet night-time streets, a skinny-jeaned black widow
Of a not-quite woman, standing gaunt within the shadow
Her white face wreathed with silvered webs of hair
Picked out by the neon-bright shop-window glare.

Searching stagnant puddles for an image out of sight
Her face suspended in the amber glow of lights
On oily puddles on the pavements of the night.

Looking for reflections of her past and future selves
In cold-lit windows, but seeing only empty shelves
While thoughts enchain the mind behind her eyes
As frail as daisy chains and equally despised
As all that’s left of some softer, fragile side.

She stares at puddles of her former self,
A tougher gaunter face staring back at her
Mouths at the silence "I am Aphrodite,
Desire me. Desire me. Do not try to fight me.


Copyright 1989, S Hartwell 

Aphrodite’s getting thinner; anorexia’s finally got a grip
And though her jeans are falling off her wasted hips
She cannot eat without the thought that she’s a sinner.
Malnutrition from her voluntary famine takes its toll,
And starvation is the reason why she’s getting thinner.

She wants to be a love goddess,
She wants to have a stunning figure
She wants all the boys’ eyes to linger
She wants to wear a Size 8 dress.

Aphrodite thinks she’s overweight; there’s nothing there but skin and bone
Her ribs stick through her parchment skin like a xylophone,
Her skin is stretched across a skull not even make-up can disguise
That Aphrodite’s no longer in control, it shows
In the jutting cheekbones beneath her hollow pits of eyes,

She wants to be a love goddess
She wants to look like slender Kristal
Her starving eyes, they look so wistful
In pursuit of her half-starved happiness.

She’s started losing all her hair,
and not even make-up can disguise
The hollow holes that should be eyes,
Too dried from famine to shed tears.

Kristal's successor was Champagne - romantic, but not quite able to deal with life full-on. Instead, she chose to filter life through various substances. Champagne was born to cope with life at college; she could succeed where Kristal would only have failed.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

She’s drowning all her troubles
In the effervescing bubbles
Of champagne
Trying to anaesthetise
The disappointment of her life
And numb the pain.

All her hopes and all her fears
She’s blotted out throughout the years
With valium
And LSD and rainbow weed
Give her all the strength she needs
To carry on.

Her dreams are wreathed in fragrant smoke
Of the ever present dope
That blanks her mind
She keeps the spiteful world at bay.
The cannabis and opiates
Help her unwind.

She’s drowning all her troubles
In the slowly bursting bubbles
Of her bile
Still trying to anaesthetise
The remnants of her wasted life
For a longer while.

Kristal's alter-ego, Aphrodite, has also changed. The introverted, self-destructive anorexic has become the vain, spiteful Belladonna who hurts others before they can hurt her. Like Champagne, Belladonna emerged after the move from High School to college.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Belladonna’s face is just a chipped facade
On the inside she is far too scarred
To comprehend that her life’s a charade.

She’s Belladonna of the atropine eyes,
And the sad expression that’s just a disguise
For the hate and bile that festers inside.

Call her Belladonna - sweet poison is her name,
Call her Belladonna - heartbreak is her game.
She’s painted in arsenic, cadmium, lead,
She’s Cleopatra come back from the dead,
With the asp’s venom flowing strong in her veins,
Sweet poison, pretty lady, Belladonna is her name.

Belladonna’s smiles are bittersweet,
Her hair is black as venom, always flowing free,
Sweet hides the sour, sugar-coated maggot-meat.

She’s like deadly nightshade, lovely to behold,
Lips as red as blood in a painted cupid’s bow,
But lethal as the hemlock the Greeks knew of old.

Call her Belladonna

Belladonna, with her atropine eyes,
Arsenic rimmed. She’s evil inside,
Flavoured with hemlock and cyanide.

Belladonna with a face white as lead,
Bittersweet smile in poisonous red,
Sour venom that strikes men’s hearts dead.

All her words are vitriol and honey,
All her looks are arsenic and antimony,
Pretty lady, so noxious and cunning.

Call her Belladonna

Champagne and Belladonna take care of dealing with those outside the walls, but life inside the fortress is not peaceful ... College, and a whole new set of circumstances, is emotionally demanding.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Throw all my feelings
To the wolves at the door,
But I no longer care,
It doesn’t matter anymore.

Throw my aspirations
Like pearls beneath the swine;
Look for desperation
On a face no longer mine.

I’ve cast you out like lepers,
From the homestead of my heart,
Go face the wolves alone,
You won’t tear ME apart.

Sometimes, the only way for Insanity Incorporated to deal with life was to set itself apart from it, weighing everything dispassionately and not being emotionally involved. And so Rapunzel appeared in a high tower in the fortress.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Sitting in a tower
like the Lady of Shalott,
Embroidering fair flowers
on a shirt she’ll never wear,
Viewing life outside
through the mirror of her soul;
Afraid to look direct;
meet life head-on.

Weighing all her feelings
in uncalibrated scales,
Looking for deep meanings
in the dusty shrouds;
All her life is graded,
weighed and stored
In specimen-pickling jars
for her to analyse
At leisure.

Her mirror is tinted bronze
so its warm hues
Can filter out the coldness
in everything she views,
Reflected images, just shadows,
suspended in the glass,
The scenes through her high window -
scenes of life.

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel
won’t you let down your hair’?"
"No for the world
might climb in"
And she turns to her mirror,
To the rose-tinted themes
Reflecting the world
and its changing scenes

While she weighs
her experience
And stores it away
On dust covered
For some other day.

How much can Rapunzel’s
experiences weigh?
Nought. For she keeps
the real world at bay.

But for every facet which wants to weigh and analyse life without participating in it, there are those which want to immerse themselves in sensation.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Stuffed dormice in honey sauce,
Larks tongues and thrushes’ thighs,
Young untried boys and other beasts,
Her hedonism satisfies.

There is only one way out of the fortress, only one real escape from Insanity Incorporated. All of the facets have destructive urges. Bvlack-dressed, melodramatic Fuligia, the most deeply depressed of the facets, represents contemplation of that final exit. She is Belladonna/Champagne gone badly awry.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Fuligia has written "cut here" upon her pale wrist,
Her mind is fogged with darkness and she cannot see
A way out of the black depression that shrouds her in its mist
"Cut here" marks the exit in an emergency.

Fuligia is clad in darkness, her hair is raven black,
Her eyes are rimmed in coal black kohl, her lips are plum
Purple-black, the ebon waterfall of hair cascades down her back
And jet dark talons sprout from fingers and each thumb.

Fuligia is made for the velvet darkness of the night,
Her floor length velvet dress is black as her despair,
Its sleeves all but hide her tattoed wrist from casual sight,
And highlight her chalk-white features, passing fair.

Fuligia has rarely smiled, no laughter lights her solemn face,
No hint of smiles twinkle in her brown impassive eyes.
Cloaked in darkness deep as night she moves with innate grace,
Hopeless with the ache that wears her body as disguise.

Fuligia is black despair cast in semblance of sweet female flesh,
Painted in shades of black and white with nothing inbetween,
Life is a black-white chequerboard, her world - a game of chess
Personified depression and Fuligia’s Black Queen.

She cannot see a way out of her black misery but death,
So she’s written "cut here" on her veins.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

I sense a situation
That I’m not equipped to handle,
A set of new sensations
That demand a transformation
But I don’t know if I’m able
Will my fortress still be stable?

Flames fade into embers
Embers into ashes, into dust
But still I fear the phoenix,
Will resemble nothing I have ever been before.

The facets were right to be fearful - the fortress has a new and ruthless mistress. The Dragonqueen has lived awhile in the outside world and knows that none of the facets can exist in their pure form. Instead, new faces must appear, each combining a little bit of essential faciets. And to ensure they obey, The Dragonqueen brings whither her the Chimaera . Chimaera is, in a way, a facet itself. Chimaera represents the other facets' fear of integration. But it is also guarding the dark secret at the heart of the fortress.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

I am The Chimaera, do you know my face?
In this array of facets I too have my place.

While Kristal, fey Kristal, sleeps among the flowers
Of her ever-summer meadow where winter dare not tread,
And Rapunzel slumbers, lost in visions in her soaring tower
Weighing all the feeling in her head,
The Chimaera stalks the woods alone,
Seeking Dragonqueen’s dark throne.

Aphrodite is locked in her prison of flesh,
Champagne is weeping for Belladonna’s crimes,
I am The Chimaera, and I choose the faces,
I am the power that’s biding its time;
Infinite mutability, that is my key,
I guard the innermost sanctuary.

And when you think you see me what is it
That you think you see?
That shadowed shape that stalks the night
Is not the shape of me.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

When the burden is too much
and you cannot stand the strain,
When you talk in vain to others
they don’t comprehend your pain;
You were standing at life’s pinnacle
now you’re falling again.

The Chimaera signals a beginning and an end. Some of the facets must be discarded if the insanity is to be tamed and turned into a coherent entity. The Chimaera gives each of them a requiem,

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Do not mourn for Kristal, she is happy in her strange and silent way;
Her life was rich in emotions that could never be expressed.
She’s far better off now, buried deep beneath the barriers that keep the world at bay,
Where no-one has the power to crush her fragile fantasies.

She has no place here anymore; an anachronism suited to a kinder world,
Her mind was full of idle fancies never reaching fruition
Because the world would not play the game of life by Kristal’s rules
And her dreams were flimsy barriers in the hurricane of life.

Do not mourn for Kristal, this requiem is in her honour.
Frail butterfly, she was crushed beneath the hobnailed heel of being.
She would mourn for the life she missed, but Kristal’s gone now,
With all the ungrasped opportunities and undreamt dreams. 

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

This is the last will and testament of Aphrodite,
At long last reintegrated into society,
Her aspirations of emaciation relinquished finally

The slimmer’s fatal fixation with starvation
In pursuit of female degradation
At the whim of indifferent male domination.

This is the requiem for vain Aphrodite,
Conforming to the thin ideals of society.
For her, at least, the end came mercifully.  

Finally, the mistress of the fortress ascends to her throne. She is The Dragonqueen. She will dictate who lives and who dies. She will dictate which face is shown to the outside world. Dragonqueen is ready to take life by the throat and turn life's arrows against it. And to preserve her rulership, she will set The Chimaera to do her bidding - keeping the facets in their places and guarding the fortress's secret.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

The Dragonqueen has risen from the embers of my soul;
Where once I bled I now spew back the bile
The world poured down my blistered throat.
Beneath the armour plating festers venom vile.
Kristal succumbed, by an indifferent world destroyed,
Aphrodite was eaten from inside by her misgivings,
The Dragonqueen arose to fill the void
And stitch together ragged edges of a gaping hole

But The Dragonqueen still remembers the facets she has supplanted and she honours them at the same time as she condemns them to oblivion. For some reason, she recalls the birth of Aphrodite, the long ago event that set things on the path which led, eventually, to the creation of The Dragonqueen.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

I recall a distant meadow, when the grass was almost hay,
Kristal dreamt there, gazing heavenwards
As clouds danced upon their way
Across the azure sky to the horizon
They gambolled, white and fey.

I recall a far horizon with the edges blurred in mist,
Like a patchwork quilt the land lay
Stretching pale into the distance
And I wondered what lay out there
What far lands the sunshine blessed.

Kristal dreamt there quite contented, never wondering, lost inside,
Her mind turned ever inward as daylight idled by,
Someone else was in my mind on the day that Kristal died
Someone trapped inside the dreaming
Struggling to survive.

Kristal was a vision of beauty and fair grace,
Statuesque and lovely,
And radiant of face
But reality was jealous
And Aphrodite came to stay.

I recall a distant meadow both in miles and in years
Kristal died there, sad and lonely
And nobody shed tears.
Aphrodite too, is gone now
With all her hopes and fears.

The Dragonqueen remembers the lonely and the sad,
The years she spent as Kristal
When the wide world seemed so bad,
The years of Aphrodite
Years so wild and mad.

But sometimes it seems Kristal shines through, because even The Dragonqueen mourns the loss of her dreams. And sometimes, someone manages to penetrate the fortress's defences.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

I was so sure, a rock against which the seas of life battered
In impotent fury, yet I was intransigent, unmoved
Until you came along and told me that I mattered.

You came into my world and touched depths unfathomed in my soul,
You listened to the outpoured gaiety and grief
And your listening touched my heart and made me whole.

Where are you now oh gentle poet? Where is that healing balm?
We never even mouthed farewells before you took away
That small, still eye of comfort and of calm.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Once I was Kristal, I was delicate and fey,
Then I was Aphrodite, wasting away
Now I’m just the Dragonqueen
Recalling all the many people I have been,
The many masks I’ve worn awhile
The memories all clogged with bile.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

In a stately minuet, life proceeds and we are dancers,
As we weave our footsteps to the rhythm of our hearts,
Wearing masks we are but actors in the masque of being
No scripts, we play extempore our parts.

In a lifetime we may play a multitude of roles,
From helpless infancy to feeble dotage we must grow.
Like masquers and like mummers behind facades we hide
Until the world dictates ‘tis time to bow and go.

The masque of life is endless, we leave and we return
To dance the waltz of life upon earth’s dancing lawn,
We miss steps, we trip and stumble and finally we fall,
Into the endless dance of life we are reborn.

There is a secret at the heart of the fortress of Insanity Incorporated. The childlike woman who commanded it into being to protect herself has been stifled by the facets and, latterly, kept chained and quiescent by The Chimaera. Finally the Kernel speaks - not that she expects anyone to listen. Having relinquished control and left the stage, the Kernel has regrets.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

I am no longer here
I left the arena long ago -
Left Dragonqueen at the controls.

I built a screen and hid behind it,
I left myself on autopilot
Someone else pulls all the strings.

I made the puppet
And set the play in motion,
I synthesised each fake emotion.

I didn’t stay to watch the show
That I put on for all of you
And while the audience laughed politely
I walked away into the night.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

How can I hope to exorcise
The terrors and the fantasies
Of what I was and now despise?
Of my fragile compromise?

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

When the punters go home
And there is no-one to see
The image projected
Onto my screen
What do I see?

The projector’s left running,
Though there’s nobody there
To look at the image
That hangs in the air,
With the settling motes
Of dust and stale smoke.

There’s no letting down
Of my guard, even when
I’m all alone with
The dust and my dreams.

Dragonqueen celebrates - and reminisces.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Breathe the fragrant coils of smoke
That link me to my ancient past
When Kristal dreamt her rainbow dreams
And Aphrodite basked
In adoration’s sunshine glow
So many fragile lives ago.

Shift my shimmering scales of sin
And dream of days that should have been,
Dream of dreams that nearly were
Before the reign of Dragonqueen.

Dragonqueen decides it's time to exile some of the less useful facets ... but she honours them as they depart.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

The veils of pain cannot disguise
False hopes shining in her eyes
Look into the mirror and what does she see
But the face of a smiling stranger
And a place of beguiling danger
Calling her to slip into her mad dark dreams?

Her foot upon the slope to madness
Her eyes regard her life with sadness
As she takes the knife and puts it to her throat.
A bead of blood - her liquid treasure,
Red as garnet, twice as precious
Upon the silver knife-edge starts to flow.

Red adorns her like a necklace,
As she steps towards the exit,
A spreading bloodstain blossoms on her gown.
She stands at last on life’s threshold -
What do her cheated eyes behold
As life’s gems pour to the sullied ground?

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell 

Dark Fuligia, what are you doing,
What can you hope to gain?
Do you believe the life you are throwing
Away will stop the pain?

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

At least she has her beauty
That we may understand her madness
As it broods in lonely darkness
In her sundered heart.

Finally we come to the dark secret at the heart of the fortress - The Kernel. Suppressed by the others, the Kernel is now a prisoner. She has previously voiced regrets, but she no longer has any power. For the Kernel, it is now far, far too late.

Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

The Facets Take Over

Submerged beneath layers of facades and faces,
Suppressed by personae, repressed by old guilt,
Drowning in oceans of alternate personalities,
Imprisoned by the walls I have built:

Can you hear? I am screaming in abject desolation,
Stifled and suffering in the mire of my mind,
Can you hear? I am calling out for salvation,
For release from the cell I designed.

Chained like a cur by the facets that share me,
Kept in a dark corner to wither and die,
Slave to their emotions, a servant despairing,
Forced to enact the scenes I despise:

Can you see? I am struggling in impotent fury,
‘Gainst the bonds on my body imposed,
Can you see? I refuse to accept the ruling
Of tyrants too long not deposed.

I am the kernel, the soul and the being,
That once owned this body you see,
Constrained and restricted, condemned to passivity,
While thieves and my murderers go free.

Can you hear? I am screaming, the kernel is dying,
Can you see the war being fought ‘hind my eyes?
In the mirror of my soul, my reflection is dying,
Drowned, suffocated by well-meaning turnkeys.

Insanity Incorporated

Who am I? What am I? Who’s in control?
Who sits in the room in my skull;
Who pulls the levers and turns all the knobs,
Flicks the switches and reads all the dials?
Who controls all the tears and the smiles?
Who says it is time the witch is switched on -
The lying, beguiling, bewitching vixen;
Who writes the programs and who loads the code,
By whom is the husk of my body controlled?

Philosophy pulls levers, Lust reads the dials,
Avarice turns all the knobs while Innocence smiles
And reason turns and looks the other way.
Insanity Inc. is now in control;
We don’t talk to each other and we have your soul
Wrapped up chains of fine shining guilt,
You’ve mortgaged your soul right up to the hilt
So sit in your corner and don’t interrupt us,
We’re in control and we don’t want a fuss.

Like Rapunzel, the Kernel views life through a mirror. Unlike Rapunzel, it is not of her choice. The facets allow her a tantalising reflected image of what is beyond, but the mirror only works one way. For anyone looking into the fortress, it simply reflects their distorted image back at them. No-one will ever know she is trapped there.

Copyright 1990, S Hartwell

Do not gaze too deeply in the mirror of my soul
For fear of what you’ll find,
What you have left so far behind
When I reflect distorted hopes and fears
In glittering dewdrop tears;
I am what you make me - make me whole.

I am yours to mould, to shape and fashion
To your own design,
To your own desires;
There’s nothing left of me inside
My empty shell, deserted cell,
A vessel for the sweet wine of your passions.

Do not drink too deeply of the wines you store
Within my soul,
My heart, my whole;
Sup gently at the goblet of desire,
Tasting tainted wines
Changed beyond all recognition when I pour.

So do not gaze too deeply in the mirror of my soul,
In case the image hanging there,
On silvered glass or metal bare,
Steps out to claim you,
Tear you, maim you.
Your reflection come to steal your soul.

Copyright 1990, D Stead (in response to Mirror of My Soul)

If I said I loved you, would you believe me?
And if I tell you I believed in you, would you trust me?
If I placed my trust upon you, should you have faith in me?
When I have faith in you, will you worship me?
And if I worship you, won’t you love me?
Forever caught betwixt one prison of two parallel mirrors
I can see you only as you see me
Both helpless hostage and hapless principle drawn together.
Do not gaze too deeply into the mirror of my soul
For fear of what you will not see

For I am the mirror of my soul!

Copyright 1990, S Hartwell

Dust off the cobwebs from an obscure personality
And put it on for a day.
I am not me but what does it matter,
Maybe it’s better that way.

Now we can talk, you think you are speaking
To me - but I am not here
I’m tucked away behind pillars and handcuffed,
To all the things that I fear.

Now you are speaking, addressing the actress
Of my one-person pantomime,
Can you perceive the internal distress
Through this veil of mine?

I say "let’s stay friends" and I mean that I love you
And why must we part company,
And inside the padded cell of my false persona
I know that these things cannot be.

I hear all the words, the distant discussions,
Some of them spoken myself,
When we are finished, we say all our farewells
And I am left on the shelf.

I take off the clothes and wash off the make up
That made me the person you met,
Now I am me, wishing I was still that false actress;
For the actress would never have wept.

Copyright 1985, S Hartwell

At least she has her beauty,
That we may understand her madness,
Tragic in her glory,
And glorious in her sadness.

Understand her desolation,
As an error of her being,
While her soul seeks compensation,
In the glory we are seeing.

The salvation she is yearning,
Is tempered with despair,
While the power we see burning,
Has a lost and lonely air.

We see before us beauty,
A veneer for inner sadness,
And hold it up for admiration,
Ignoring beauty’s madness.

At least she has her vanity,
We call it her conceit,
And notice not insanity,
In vanity’s deceit.

And of course she has her beauty,
A mask for her despair,
But we never look behind it,
To see what’s REALLY there.


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