Real Love Hurts

Photo by Doug1021 | CC BY 2.0 License Photo by Doug1021 | CC BY 2.0 License

Real love hurts
Beneath heavy blows
Lungs wheeze, gasp, burn for air
Choking on hot tears

Real love hurts
Splits open, gaping wide
Flesh torn from bone
Exposing fiery nerves

Real love hurts
Stumbles to the earth
Sweat-soaked hair dripping
Stinging open wounds

Real love hurts
Crawls along broken roads
Blood under fingernails
Dragging lifeless limbs

Real love hurts
Ransoms ruined hearts
Demands drain reservoirs
Turning skin cold, blue

Real love hurts
Through bitter, brutal ends
In the dust, forsaken
Whispering final mercies to the sky

© Nichole Q. Perreault


This poem was written in response to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Time for Poetry.

He Held the Door

Written in response to  the Weekly Writing Challenge | Fifty:  …write a fifty-word story. Not five thousand, not five hundred, but precisely fifty words. Writing a word limited story was challenging –  I would much rather try to write a 50 word poem. But even so, the story below is true: 

Her grandparents waited in the car while she, 12, ran in to buy their tobacco. Times were different.

On her way out, he held the door.

“Thanks,” she smiled.

“You’re welcome,” he nodded.

She climbed into the backseat.

“That was your father,” grandma said. “He held the door for you.”

Photo by UTKnightCenter | CC BY-ND 2.0 License
Photo by UTKnightCenter | CC BY-ND 2.0 License

Unashamed Love

Family Photo of Kenny
Family Photo of Kenny

I believe that for most little girls, their first love is Daddy. I hardly remember my dad at all, much less loving the man. But my first stepfather, Kenny, I loved him. While it was a tentative and guarded love, made all the more so by his long illness, when he died my twelve year old heart broke in ways and places I didn’t know existed. Today, February 13, is Kenny’s birthday and, as always, that kind, gentle, funny man is loved and missed.

Love for me has never come easily and so I struggled with this week’s Writing Challenge, My Funny Valentine. Then I remembered a story and thought that maybe, maybe, this little window into the warping and twisting of love in the hearts of children, might somehow, some way, help set you free too.

As a little girl, I always had an older me inside – one who saw and understood things that my unripened vocabulary couldn’t express. Instead, I felt everything, like wordless impressions stamped deep into the soft clay of a sensitive heart. With no Living Water to keep my heart tender and pliable, to fill the valleys and smooth the mountain peaks, I formed my own truth, my own tilted view of life and love and people.

In today’s memory, I am about five years old: I tiptoed from my bedroom up the dark hallway and into the kitchen. Staying close to the wall and probably more conspicuous than I believed, I peeked around the corner and into the living room. He wasn’t there yet. Kenny. He and my mom were dating at the time and they’d recently broken up. I didn’t know what they’d fought about or why he’d left. But the murmured words of adults drifting back and forth above my head hinted of his return. An anxious hopefulness practically oozed from the walls. Everybody loved Kenny.

Anticipation wiggled its way throughout my small body, so I invented a game for the waiting. I’d walk from my bedroom up the short hall toward the living room, one slow, careful step at a time, wondering with each press of the foot: is he here? My hopes would rise with my heartbeat as I edged nearer the light of the living room archway. Once there, I’d quickly pop my head around the doorframe and….nope. Not yet. Deflated, I’d turn around, shuffle back to my room and do it all over again. And again. And again. Slower with each pass. Each time hoping that would be the time I’d find him coming through the front door.

Family Photo of Kenny and... maybe that's me in the picture and maybe it isn't. I confess to nothing.
Family Photo of Kenny and… maybe that’s me in the picture and maybe it isn’t. I confess to nothing.

I don’t know what I expected. A celebration? Handshakes and hugs all around? But for all my anticipation, when Kenny finally arrived, nothing exciting happened at all. No one rejoiced. No one gave him a hug or said, “Hey, welcome back!” He just came in silently, sat down on the couch and stared at the TV along with my mom and grandparents. Nothing but nods and awkward “hellos” and silence in front of the television.

So this is how we do it? I mused. Pretend nothing’s happened?

Obviously doing what I wanted most – to jump in his lap and throw my arms around his neck – would be scandalously out of place. And so I pretended. I played along. I became an Actress.

But, refusing to be ignored and refusing to ignore, I did what any self-respecting five year old would do: I picked up a throw pillow and…well…threw it at Kenny. He was, after all, my playmate and my friend. This was our ‘normal.’ We tossed the pillow back and forth. I laughed and he smiled. Kenny was a quiet, subtle guy and his smile told me we were good. Reconciliation by pillow fight.

Yet some part of me wanted more. An invitation to sit with him on the couch? A hug? Words of assurance? For the first time, I became conscious of the fact that I wanted his love and acceptance. Needed it, even. But needing is dangerous. No one likes a needy child. And what happens when what we need becomes something we can’t have?

My stomach filled with a strange, hollow-heavy, sick feeling. Embarrassment, rejection, nakedness of soul, fear of punishment, a desire to hide all wrapped in one little lead ball behind my belly button.

I was Needy and I was Ashamed. Ashamed of needing, of wanting, of loving. Afraid of being unlovable. Hadn’t my own father been unable to love me? Ashamed of being me.


30 some odd years later, I sit, head bowed, eyes closed, in a dimly lit church. I sing the words “Worthy….You are worthy…of a childlike faith and of my honest praise and of my unashamed love…of a holy life and of my sacrifice and of my unashamed love…”

And I think, as I always do when singing this song, of loving Jesus unashamedly – boldly, without worrying what others think, without hiding my Bible at the doctor’s office or avoiding talking about God outside of church.

But then God brings me a precious jewel…the memory of that day with Kenny…and as I sing the words that wash over me, He turns the glistening gem around in His hand to show me another facet of love…

of my unashamed love….love without fear, or embarrassment. Love that doesn’t act or pretend to be self-sufficient. There is no shame in needing love – there is no shame in needing God. That is who we are. Who I am. Needy for the Lord and his Love.

of my unashamed love…love that doesn’t fear punishment or rejection. Love that trusts in the Father who supplies all our needs. I am Safe.

of my unashamed love…love that runs into her Father’s embrace and throws her arms around His neck. Love that is free from falsehood. I am Real.

Full and light is the feeling that soars into my soul and lifts upon its wings the hollow-heaviness of shame and carries it away…eternally away. And my belly warms with acceptance and tender hands upon my face and eyes that see me fully and a smile of adoration…for me. And I am Loved.

UNASHAMED LOVE by Jason Morant


Photo by  Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Photo by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I sink underwater
Eyes open
Looking up at rippling glass
Shapes of light
Blue and white and gray and sometimes yellow

I think
I should panic
But I don’t
I bob, watching colors
The bubbles rising around me
Moving up, up,
Air finding air

I see his face
And I am not alone
Even here
Beneath the waves

No words exchanged
Silence, like water, fills every crevice
Locked on steady, serene eyes
I think…I feel
Perfectly placed

Everything moves, waves
The water
Our hair
But time pauses, motionless

My lungs burn in my chest
Heart pounding, salt stinging my eyes

Pain and peace
Fear and comfort
Love and heartbreak
I choose to feel them all

And so without breath
Without borders
Without answers
I rest
Beneath the waves

This poem was written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words. I chose the photo Relaxation as my inspiration because it helped me to put into words some ideas and impressions that have been floating around (no pun intended…but nice right?) in my mind for the last couple of weeks. The song below also significantly influenced the poem. (Thanks to our church’s worship team for introducing me to this song!) If you’d like to better understand my perspective when writing the poem, have a listen. It’s a beautiful song. But if you want to let the poem speak to you without more of me involved, that’s cool too. As always, thanks for reading.

Not Quite Lunch Poems 3 & 4

Darkness glistens
Like hot skin
Drawing me in
But touching my fingertips, feels cold
My hand snaps back
I rub my fingers with my thumb
Melting the frosty film between
Then dry them on my jeans
As I turn to run

Warm blankets and soft sweats
I don’t want to move
I want to stay
Pull the puffy down comforter to my neck
Listen to the icy wind
On the other side of my window
Close my eyes
And just stay

Written in response to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge
Not exactly written at lunchtime but kept to a limited time without overthinking.

Not Quite Lunch Poems 1 & 2


I want to write beauty
Words that wrap and wind around each other
Like vines and roses
Strong and rich
Living and breathing out air heavy with the fragrance of mystery
Yet light enough to ride along a breeze

I want to tell a story
Not mine but Another’s
Already written yet still being told
This story lives
And I live inside its words – because of its words
They are written on my arms, across my face
Upon my beating heart, drifting on the wind that leaves my lungs
Words unrecognizable
Symbols and signs from another time, another place
Perhaps never spoken but by One
And yet they speak of me
Of you, of all
They are every story
And the only story
One that was and is and will be told
Wont you tell me?
And I will tell you…

Written in response to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge
Not exactly written at lunchtime but kept to a limited time without overthinking.

Christmas Tradition DOs & DON’Ts | DO Something Untraditional!

And so begins a series of Christmas Tradition Dos & Don’ts. If you’re wondering who I am to be giving out such advice, join the club! I’m wondering the same thing. But when inspiration comes, I just gotta write it down. So Readers, thanks for humoring me!

Traditions don’t have to be traditional. That’s what my family discovered when we decided to give up the customary Christmas dinner.

When was the last time you were lying in bed on Christmas night thinking, “Man, I just didn’t have enough to eat today!”? If you’re like me, the answer is: never! We always have more food than we can eat, eat more than we should and finish the day feeling like we’ve swallowed a bowling ball.

Until about 10 years ago, our Christmas menu included something like 12 appetizers, a main course of meat, potatoes and various side dishes and about eight mouth-watering desserts. Things were getting a bit out of control. A simple solution would have been to cut out some of the appetizers and desserts, but we rather preferred the appetizers to the main meal. And no one wanted to give up dessert. So now, every year, our Christmas dinner consists of finger foods only.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, do something different, try something new and make it yours!

Let me tell you, in a family full of cooking (and eating) enthusiasts, we have some deeeelicious Christmas spreads. The staple foods are usually my step-father’s cheese fondue and chicken liver pate, my mom’s pepperoni bread and obligatory veggie tray, my aunt’s salsa and/or dips, and my three layer, filled peppermint bark.

Photo by
Last Year’s Peppermint Bark | Photo by

My youngest brother is like a crazy, mad, food artist who never makes the same thing twice, but when he joins us we don’t complain. Because whether it’s prosciutto wrapped asparagus or feta topped watermelon cubes, we’ll be impressed. To all that, we add a variety of fun fare like miniature shish-kabobs, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, mini-quiches, pecan tassies, ooey-gooey brownies, etc., etc., etc.

It doesn’t have to be traditional it just has to be yours.

What do we love about this tradition?

  • As people who enjoy cooking, we get to experiment in the kitchen.
  • As people who enjoy eating, we get to try new foods.
  • Guests can come and go as they please without being restricted by a set meal time.
  • There’s plenty of time for exchanging gifts, visiting, playing games, whatever.
  •  It’s ours. 

That’s what’s great about any family tradition. It doesn’t have to be traditional it just has to be yours.

Some people probably dread the idea of Christmas without a formal, sit-down dinner complete with a baked ham, London broil or lasagna. For us, it seemed a little weird at first too, but in 10 years we haven’t even discussed making a change. So while our Christmas dinner is decidedly untraditional, it’s still one of our favorite traditions.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, do something different, try something new and make it yours!

Actually, when you really think about it, the first Christmas was pretty untraditional too. God as a Jewish baby boy. God in the arms of a dirt poor virgin girl from the slums of Nazareth. God whose angels sang before shepherds and called them to His side. God, not just a king but the King of kings, called not the lowly but the lowest of the low, shepherds, society’s outcasts, to be the first to worship Him.

If you have a minute, listen to this song and consider just how outrageous, how radical, how decidedly untraditional was that first Christmas Eve and all that would follow.

Do you have any untraditional traditions? I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment below…

This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Writing Challege: Multimedia Storytelling.


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