Collateral Damage

Relationships have peaks and valleys. To make a relationship last…people must be committed to the climbs, just as much as they are to admiring the grand views.

~Kaliana Dietrich


Sometimes an argument saves a relationship, whereas silence breaks it. Speak up for your heart so that you won’t have regrets. Life is not about making others happy. Life is about being honest and sharing your happiness with others.


Sometimes, just writing the hard stuff, without drawing conclusions, without sharing lessons learned, is what is most needed. Today, I need to write this experience, just as I do others, so I can continue my journey. I hope it offers some backstory and perspective on what break-ups — monogamous or polyamorous — can be like.


I knew, when we met, in June 2010, that he was different. When he spoke about polyamory, and how people should be treated, he gave words to the conclusions I’d been drawing, as I sorted out my own philosophy, building poly relationships that were honorable, ethical, and designed to last a lifetime. The more he talked, the more I knew he was someone I could fall in love with, my heart would be safe. He had a primary relationship; he lived in Dallas and she in Houston. I knew and accepted that — even when his primary didn’t treat me with respect. I worked hard to find and live within the boundaries that made up his life, hoping he’d defend my heart, if his primary decided to use it for target practice. He, in turn, respected my marriage from the start.

I fell in love, trusting him completely.

In April, 2011, he began dating someone new. She too lived in Dallas, while I lived 251 miles away. Things between us began to shift. Time once spent on the phone with me was now filled with date nights, and weekend trips with her. It was NRE (new relationship energy). I was glad for him, but scared. We scheduled our weekends, talked through the changes, and he affirmed his commitment to me. I affirmed mine to him. I met new girl in May 2011, and she was beautiful, inside and out, genuine, caring, and head over heels with him. Together they glowed. I was very glad to see him smile, after so much hurt and upheaval in his primary relationship. She was a bright light in a room of shadows.

I liked her, and she scared me.

I was insecure, fearing he’d only been poly because he hadn’t found the right one yet. Maybe she was the right one, and I’d get squeezed out, as their relationship grew. I let those fears beat me up, especially when a few months later, his primary partner decided the new girl and I were both, indeed, disposable — and I should be the first to go.

New girl did something amazing. She stood up for me, fought for his love for me, and encouraged him to do the same. She spoke up and didn’t back down when it got ugly and difficult, supporting him while he broken-heartedly went into battle for me, and the polyamorous life he’d planned. I supported him too — from afar — but she was there in the trenches. I was thankful she’d come into our lives and loved her for being brave.

His primary relationship did not survive.

It died in December 2011 and like a wall of love we came together, surrounding him and sharing his grief. We loved him, and respected each other, and it was good.  I learned over the next several weeks how tenuous my place in his life had really been as his primary partner had attacked. I heard of new girl’s support, and how she’d been heart-broken by his pain. I was grateful, and yet, insecure. It might not make sense now, but then I was rattled by the depth of their connection, and the fact that I was so in the dark about the battle they’d been fighting for me. He’d not told me any of it. Communication was not his strength.

Turns out, communication wasn’t a strength for any of us.

In February 2012, he and I had plans to celebrate a late Valentine’s weekend, here at a local B&B — at the last minute told me new girl was coming along, and staying in our suite. I didn’t flex well. I panicked, and the resulting conversations only made things worse. He finally insisted she come, when she felt unwanted.  He insisted I trust him, as he wanted to talk to both of us. We were both physically ill, scared, and flying blind, But we trusted him, and when we came together for a heart to heart, we trusted each other.

That night in our suite, he declared his decision to make us both the core of his world… dual primary partners, each with different relationships, but neither with more importance or value than the other. He announced his intention to hold public commitment ceremonies with each of us, and to build a better life. Throughout that beautiful weekend, we talked and talked, vulnerability and fear giving way to trust. The walls between us crumbled, and we cried with relief in a three-part embrace.

Then it happened. It had been happening, but I’d been scared to trust… and on that day, seeing her vulnerability and beauty, and knowing my own, I took a risk… and I kissed her. We dropped our defenses, and began to fall in love. I was terrified, and I’m not sure that she wasn’t, too.  But buoyed by his love, and the trust we were experiencing, I let myself leap into an unknown place, opening my heart for the first time ever, to be loved by and to love a woman… her.

It was probably the best weekend we ever had.

The next year and eight months were filled with ups and downs. We argued a lot, and didn’t communicate enough. There were discrepancies, misunderstandings, and occasionally wonderful times in a huge king-sized bed. We shared trips, came out to some family, attended poly events and funerals… there was some good. But, communication about basics, like the structure of our triad, the individual relationships, the future, commitment ceremonies, designations like “fiancee'” and “girlfriend”, living arrangements, and expectations was not clear.

Eventually he moved in with new girl, and prepared to sell his condo. She proposed; he accepted. She expressed a need to be primary, insisting he declare her publicly as such.  I asked him for clarity, guidelines regarding what he needed from our relationship. He insisted I was still primary, too. No one came before me, no one came before her. I asked her for clarity, and it became clear that her views were not the same as his. I asked for triad conversations, which erupted into arguments without actually addressing the questions. When put on the spot in those triad discussions, he clammed up, afraid of hurting her, or hurting me.

The chasm widened; the pain continued.

I failed at communicating. Instead of pressing for clarity, I tried not to rock the boat. I believed him, when he said his feelings and plans with me hadn’t changed. I went on planning, hoping that things would get better. He failed at communicating, hoping the storms would blow over. For over a year, my fears and hers made it impossible for the two of us to explore the love we’d hoped to grow. She failed at communicating her needs and fears to him, and she stopped communicating with me. We were all hurting, wounded, and avoiding pain.

In October of 2013, she declared to him that she was done. She insisted he dump me, declared me toxic to their marriage plans and future happiness. She insisted I never wanted her, and wanted him all to myself. He gave me the news over the phone, that she was unwilling to continue, asked me for time to sort out his life, as his plans and dreams for our triad had just blown up.

So, I waited, mourning the loss of her love, alone.

In theweeks to follow, he gave me hope that he could make the transition from a triad to a V relationship. I waited in near silence for six months, until in April, 2014, he told me, he couldn’t continue. She was forcing him to choose. Though he still loved me, he had to end our relationship to save theirs. He swore he would fight to build a future with room for me. She — after six months of silence toward me — emailed him, my husband, and me, to make it clear she’d never permit him to have a relationship with me.

Two days later, they married and flew off to a European honeymoon.

I mourned the loss of my relationship with him, alone.

Today, he’s still trying to change the future. Today, she still wants me to disappear. Today, I am his friend. For ten months, I’ve been collateral damage, fallout from a polyamorous triad explosion. But, the road ahead keeps going. I know I am a good friend, a good poly partner, a good lover…

…and I will find my own way. 


girl walking__ (2)

One Thousand Black Feathers (a somonka)

blackfeather2 (3)

Today my heart storms,
my life bound and counter-bound.
One black feather, a gift
in the wind, peace — but I know
I’ve no haven; I made my chains.

I wish I could be
your shelter of wings, freedom.
Today my heart pounds
against the chains you have made.
I am black feathers, falling.




The somonka is a Japanese form. In fact, it’s basically two tankas written as two love letters to each other (one tanka per love letter). This form usually demands two authors, but it is possible to have a poet take on two personas. A refresher on the tanka: If a haiku is usually (mistakenly) thought of as a 3-line, 5-7-5 syllable poem, then the tanka would be a 5-line, 5-7-5-7-7 syllable poem. However, as with haiku, it’s better to think of a tanka as a 5-line poem with 3 short lines (lines 2, 4, 5) and 2 very short lines (lines 1 and 3). While imagery is still important in tanka, the form is a little more conversational than haiku at times. It also allows for the use of poetic devices such as metaphor and personification (2 big haiku no-no’s). Like haiku, tanka is a Japanese poetic form. (for more on the tanka, see: for more on the somonka:

A Tiny Flame



“There are two people you’ll meet in your life. One will run a finger down the index of who you are, and jump straight to the parts of you that peak their interest. The other will take his or her time reading through every one of your chapters and maybe fold corners of you that inspired them most. You will meet these two people; it’s a given. It is the third that you’ll never see coming. That one person who not only finishes your sentences, but keeps the book.” (source:

I would not exactly limit myself to two or three… but I am inspired by the imagery of a lover, thumbing through pages, finding himself, or herself, and perhaps, deciding to keep the book.

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.” (source:

I long to know someone this way, to love this deeply, not dependent, but with such passion and knowing… to know and be known… this is the cry of my polyamorous heart!

It has been six weeks since the official notification confirmed, “We are no longer in a relationship.” The hole in me that used to be filled with grief and longing for him, is now filled with what normally fills holes.


Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place in me where all the good memories are bundled in scarlet ribbon and packed away in a trunk, much like the photos, letters, and mementos that used to live in my bedroom. There is also a place in me that is still grieving, though the pain is less every day. I am remembering the good things, learning from the experience, and looking toward the future with what I would like to call hope.

Still, there is a space in me… not the one he used to fill, exactly… a space for loving intensely, for being known deeply and for passion enough to light the city of Chicago. Once this space held a love that burned like the great fire of 1871. Today, there is only a candle… a short stub of wax, with a flickering, guttering flame and no one to fan it but me.

The reality is that this most recent love lost, is not the first love to have filled this space. I have fallen, eyelashes over ankles, more than once in my life. I’ve written poems, compiled mix tapes, awakened at four in the morning, longing for others; it’s true. Part of the emptiness I feel today relates to the way my poly-heart works… and that is not an easy thing to explain.

I share my life with a man who has known me for most of my days. We met at four, became fast friends at fifteen, first kissed at eighteen, fell in love at twenty-five, and married twenty years ago, October, at twenty-seven. He is my rock. Since high-school, he has been the guy that always looked out for me. He has spent his life making mine rich, and full, working hard, to give us a home. My children are his, my grandchildren are his. To this day, I cannot mention that I admire the scarf on a mannequin in a department store, without the knowledge that he will likely go back and buy it, just to see me smile. He is a good man, a loving husband, a wonderful father. He is generous, responsible, provider, caretaker, lover, best-friend. What he is not, is passionate, creative, and soul-searching. He is, exactly what and who I need him to be. I love him dearly, and would give him the moon.

Still, there’s a space in me that needs other things, other qualities. There is a void in me that has been filled in the past by a different sort of love… and now it’s not. Maybe it’s because I’m complicated. Loving more than one, making room in my heart and seeking out more than one to love, seeking to be loved deeply, fully, in a complicated way… this is where my thoughts are today. This is why my soul is longing.

“Love her so much that she might doubt your sanity… but never your passion.” ~Dean Jackson (source:

I want to love again, so deeply, so fiercely, that my sanity might be questioned. I want to love passionately, and fully, and set my world ablaze once more. Today, I cradle a tiny flame, and carry it into a dark, empty room. Today, I sit for a while, watching the shadows flicker on the walls.

Prayer Before Bed (a pantoum)

sleeping woman in bed of leaves stone

While I settle to the ground,
close my eyes and try to breathe,
while the forest fills with sound–
silence whispers, underneath.

I close my eyes, struggle to breathe.
I cannot face the stars or moon.
Silence taunts me underneath.
I turn to face the earth, here strewn

with broken shards of stars and moon.
I lie beside them, near to where
the pieces of my heart, are strewn.
In time my tears become a prayer.

I lie here, lonely, near to where
discarded stars and leaves have blown.
Tears oft repeated, become a prayer:
Let me just lie here, turn to stone.

Discarded stars and leaves have blown,
and gathered, rest around this tree.
Let me just lie here, turn to stone,
release my pain and be set free.

Come gather near, around this tree,
and see the work that grief has done.
Woman of stone, I’ve been set free.
Washed by the rain, warmed by the sun.

For today’s prompt, write a settled poem. Settled can be a good, relaxing thing; settled can be an accepting something that wasn’t your first choice thing; settled can be coming to a stop; settled can be pioneers in a strange land; and so on. With only three days left, don’t settle for less than your best.

The pantoum is a poetic form originating in Malay where poets write quatrains (4-line stanzas) with an abab rhyme scheme and repeat lines 2 and 4 in the previous stanza as lines 1 and 3 in the next stanza. Poets differ on how to treat the final quatrain: Some poets repeat lines 1 and 3 of the original quatrain as lines 2 and 4 in the final quatrain; other poets invert lines 1 and 3 so that the beginning line of the poem is also the final line of the poem.



The Fiend (a gwawdodyn)


Grief comes, and it chooses the hour
it torments as I’m in the shower;
There’s really no trick for not getting sick,
on my swallowed tears turning sour.

For today’s prompt, write a monster poem. There are the usual suspects: zombies, vampires, werewolves, and mummies. But monsters can take any form and terrorize a variety of victims. So have fun playing around with this one, because we’ve only got a few days of April left.


The gwawdodyn is a Welsh poetic form with a couple variations. However, both versions are comprised of quatrains (4-line stanzas) that have a 9/9/10/9 syllable pattern and matching end rhymes on lines 1, 2, and 4. The variations are made in that third line:
One version has an internal rhyme within the third line. So there’s a rhyme somewhere within the third line with the end rhyme on the third line.
The other version has an internal rhyme within the third line that rhymes with an internal rhyme in the fourth line.

In both cases, the rhyme starts somewhere in the middle of the third line and it is a unique rhyme to the end rhyme in lines 1, 2, and 4.

Here’s a possible diagram for the first version (with the x’s symbolizing syllables):


Note: The “b” rhyme in the middle of line 3 could slide to the left or right as needed by the poet.

Here’s a possible diagram for the second version:


Note: In this version, both “b” rhymes can slide around in their respective lines, which affords the poet a little extra freedom.



Love Arriving, Love Leaving


Your love came in like a lamb:
light-footed, and playful
curled against me for warmth
all tangled and matted wool

Your love went out like a lion:
roaring and breaking windows
angry at such a deep wound.
No, wait — that was me.

That was my passion, spilling out
staining the bedding with tears
and the floor with blood.
Your love went out, like it came in.


For today’s prompt, we actually have a Two-for-Tuesday prompt:

Write a love poem. Love, it’s such a big 4-letter word that can mean so much to so many for a variety of interpretations. Friendly love, sexual love, dorky love, all-encompassing love, jealous love, anxious love, love beaten with a baseball bat, hot love, big love, blues love, greeting card love, forgiving love, greedy love, love in a music video, and so on and so forth.

Write an anti-love poem. Well, kinda like love, but take it back the other way.


Raven’s Flight (a sestina)


I just want to stretch my wings
and float on the air of the night.
Here I stand, face to the moon
wishing I were more clever,
and could find my way to freedom —
a flight to carry me past the trees.

You make your throne in this tree,
sit majestic with ebony wings.
You wear the mantle of freedom
and rule the skies of the night.
No other creature so clever
lives under the silver moon.

I spy a girl’s face in the moon,
as I lean into your great tree.
Her smile is wicked and clever,
and I long for ebony wings —
so I could fly beyond this night,
and whisper to her of my freedom.

I have always admired your freedom,
your silhouette before the moon.
Your feathers as dark as this night,
I barely see, perched in this tree.
Stretch your beautiful black wings.
I hope I’m at least half as clever,

as you, sister raven, so clever.
All others will stretch their wings,
join in the flying dance of freedom,
beneath this night’s full moon.
Alone, I will sit at this tree
my face turned up to the night.

I’ll sit beside the black night,
with toes tapping to melody, clever,
at the base of celebration tree.
While night creatures toast their freedom,
beneath this night’s full moon,
I’ll fall asleep imagining my wings.

Dreaming of great wide wings, black as the air of night,
I’ll climb to my sister the moon, whispering secrets so clever.
She’ll speak the spell of freedom; I’ll take flight from this tree.


For today’s prompt, write an animal poem. Pick a specific animal or write about your animal spirit. Maybe you’ll get tricky and write about mustangs (meaning the car) or jaguars (meaning the American football team). Maybe you’ll do an acrostic, or even go crazy and write a sestina (crickets).


Sestina: You pick 6 words, rotate them as the end words in 6 stanzas and then include 2 per of the words per line in your final stanza.


Night Air (a Quatern)


That’s the night air in the city
tastes like remorse mixed with regret.
When you can’t see stars for neon
glow of traffic, just forget it.

When the moon as pale as smoke is,
that’s the night air in the city.
Caterpillar blows his smoke rings,
questions floating, “Just who are you?”

Sounds like bike tires on the sidewalk,
swishing, swishing, just a whisper.
That’s the night air in the city,
filling your ears with nothing new.

Turn the corner, follow footsteps,
She’s the rabbit in a white dress,
always slipping out of your sight.
That’s the night air in the city.


Prompt #12 of the April 2014 Writer’s Digest Poem-A-Day Challenge

For today’s prompt, write a city poem. The poem can take place in a city, can remember the city (in a general sense), be an ode to a specific city, or well, you should know the drill by now. City poem: Write it!


Quatern Poetic Form Rules
1.This poem has 16 lines broken up into 4 quatrains (or 4-line stanzas).
2.Each line is comprised of eight syllables.
3.The first line is the refrain. In the second stanza, the refrain appears in the second line; in the third stanza, the third line; in the fourth stanza, the fourth (and final) line.
4.There are no rules for rhyming or iambics.


Just Go (A Chant)


For months I’ve held your place.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.
I trusted the hope in your face.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.

You’ve kept me here on a string.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.
You’re protecting me from the sting.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.

You just couldn’t face hurting me.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.
While bending to another’s decree.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.

You hid the truth in your silence.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.
You covered up reality’s violence.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.

You’ve never had the strength.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.
So you held me at great length.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.

She took matters into her hands.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.
Cut me deep, so I’d understand.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.

Still, you cannot speak what’s true.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.
You chose, and our future is through.
Just go. Just — go, please. Go.

Prompt #11 of the April 2014 Writer’s Digest Poem-A-Day Challenge

For today’s prompt, make a statement the title of your poem and either respond to or expand upon the title. Some example titles might include: “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy;” “Guns Don’t Kill People, I Do;” “This Is Your Brain on Drugs;” “Smile for the Camera,” and “Be Kind Rewind.” Of course, there’s an incredible number of possible titles; pick one and start poeming!

The chant poem is about as old as poetry itself. In fact, it may be the first form poetry took. Chant poems simply incorporate repetitive lines that form a sort of chant. Each line can repeat, or every other line. It’s easy to find many poetic forms that incorporate chanting with the use of a refrain. However, a chant poem is a little more methodical than a triolet or rondeau.


Night Cycle


nothing can quiet the voices
in my head, in my heart, the
grief of hearing you explain
how you have no choice, but
to choose her and leave me

noises that mask themselves
in the silence of darkness
go ringing through my head
heedless of my weary state
torturing me with insomnia

no hope of sleep can reach me
i am a record stuck on repeat
grasping for shadows of silence
holding too tightly to the past
tomorrow i’ll forget you more

now i can only stare at darkness
imagine this life without you
gods know in time tears will dry
hey, i might nap in the morning
there’s hope for me after all

Prompt #6 of the April 2014 Writer’s Digest Poem-A-Day Challenge

“For today’s prompt, write a night poem. Vampires and werewolves? Cool. Clubbing and saloons? You got it. Lovers together alone? Right. Ex-lovers alone on their own? Sure thing. You figure out your night poem–and, yes, (k)night poems are fine too.”

The poem is a repeated acrostic of the word “night”.

Link to the prompt: