No island

Poetry break. My back hurts. A ‘free’ quadrille for dverse


Freedom is not an absolute,

merely one form of shackles broken,

all the rest remain.

You can hoist your flags,

sing your patriotic songs

and dance in the streets,

but hungry children still cry,

and love still holds your heart

in its unrelenting grip.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

55 thoughts on “No island”

    1. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t even thought of 9/11. It’s just one of so many tragedies. But you’re right, it was a terrible loss of life and there were lots of individual acts of heroism as there always are when any people are faced with the choice. Dwelling on words like heroism and nobility and self-sacrifice takes individual grieving away from those who lost someone close and turns it into a sort of Wagnerian drama. There’s nothing pro or anti freedom in these tragedies, just insanity and deep sadness.

      1. Okay. I’d forgotten about the anniversary. It was when I looked on twitter and saw the hundreds of thousands of tweets about it, I realised that a lot of people are still deeply involved with it.

    1. Thanks Merril. The back is fully restored after a knock out pill last night and I’m going easy on the last boxes.
      I didn’t write a poem about 9/11, and the date passed me by altogether, I’m afraid. But the notion of ‘freedom’ is so ambivalent. The freedom to travel to foreign places is the destruction of someone else’s freedom to live in unspoilt surroundings. To have an excess of cheap meat means appalling conditions for billions of animals. The freedom to buy cheap clothes takes away the freedom of millions of children to have a childhood. Shouting for ‘freedom’ is never what it seems at face value. And women aren’t usually included in the population being freed.

    1. Exactly. Economic freedom for one, inevitably means slavery for someone else. And as long as we continue to identify with our own ‘tribe’ to the detriment of every other living thing on the planet, all we’ll end up with is a deeper and deeper gulf of inequality and injustice.

  1. Dang! And I thought real love was a freeing object (as per the song Sting recorded in penance for “I’ll Be Watching You.”) Free from the bonds of love, or freed to love? Hmmm.

    1. No one is free, if freedom equates with self-interest. We are all interdependent and our freedom to do any ridiculous thing we want inevitably has consequences for other people. Love isn’t a freedom either. If you love, you’re stuck with the object, however much the object neglects you.

      1. I haven’t replied for two reasons. One: I’ve been doing storm clean-up. Two: I haven’t an answer to your definition of love. I learned long ago that whatever one feels is reality; don’t negate it by saying, “Oh, you don’t mean that! Oh, you don’t feel that!” You do or you wouldn’t have written it. I have encountered many people (mostly married women, and mostly in what was then my office/study) for whom this was utter reality. Unfortunately, I found the root of the problem for most of them was that they had married a man. Too many men are “happily” disconnected from all positive emotion and all emotionally healthy response. I’m not saying that that’s the case for you. I don’t know how you came to your definition. But I will tell you that it doesn’t fit my reality. As far as I can tell, my wife doesn’t feel that way either. Love is a verb; not a noun. It’s not a thing people fall into… that would be manure. 🙂

      2. I’m not sure what definition of love you’re referring to. I was trying to say that love isn’t automatically a freeing experience. It creates emotional ties that can’t really be called freedom. I was thinking of the love we have for our children that means we are bound to them, worry about them, feel pain for them even when they feel that they have spread their wings and flown to experience their idea of freedom, and don’t think about their parents more often than strictly necessary.
        Hope your storm damage wasn’t too catastrophic.

      3. We came away fairly unscathed.

        Now I get what you were saying! Children are a whole ‘nother matter (yes, I know that isn’t proper English… nor American). Children are like many cats and some dogs. You are not left feeling you are investing emotions so much as you are throwing them down a deep well. (And not all children, obviously.)

      4. I think we’re on the same wavelength. Children soak up everything that’s thrown at them for better or worse, but they don’t necessarily feel under any obligation to return some of the affection and attention. Then they become parents and wonder why their own children always have a previous engagement when their help would be appreciated.

    1. The more I think about it, the less I understand what the word means. What is freedom? No one can do what they want, unless they have pots of money—that usually gets rid of most obstacles—but they can’t command respect or love or admiration. And when you can buy what you want, those things must acquire a huge importance.

  2. A new kind of Kit-Kat, and I’m sorry about your back, Jane. I agree with Truedessa, freedom does seem to always come with a price – a leitmotif of mankind’s history. I wonder what it would have been like if women had always been in charge.

    1. The back’s just protesting. I’ve promised to take it easy today. I can’t see how women could ever have stayed in charge. All it needs is one over-muscled, over-testosteroned bloodthirsty warrior type to get the boys stirred up, and the disease would spread like wildfire.

  3. We keep hearing about freedom of speech, freedom of expression , freedom to do exactly as we please ; it’s the in thing and yet total freedom means total anarchy. Fortunately we have a partly moral nature which will never let us be totally free to please ourselves in every way.

    1. I’m still unsure what freedom really means. We see protests and rebellions and revolutions, coups d’état, independence movements, and when those who shouted for freedom from the oppressor have got what they wanted, when the celebrations are over and the dead have been buried, the men go back to laying down the law at home, and the women do exactly what they’ve been doing for centuries—comforting hungry children and picking up the pieces.

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