Rune

They ran through markets

elms strung with sari’s

bedecked with jewels and

girls kenning their heads

babes at their breast

growing crowns of red and indigo

she pressed into my palm

the spell of her rune

smelling of Finnish water stone

rubbed over and over beneath time

leaves still containing their flung pigment

where slippered feet ran and picked them

casting their glass throng to glory

she has the shiny hair of a child and

cheeks full for her pressed size

she who is gone and now returned

talking in other languages with Irish accent

she who manifests and disappears and is reborn

doesn’t look large enough to give birth

or sing at the top of a road the song of her

we were

separated by water and fear and longing

broken in sea, put back together by current

I was always swimming in her direction and the

light tread of her spring

she is a carnival of paper-cut outs

wearing scarlet hose and rings on her toes

yet upward / yet down in earth where

roots inform her choices as well as ancestor

she is of me and I

am stranger and intimate

familiarity is a rubbed sleeve on silver

her thin knees beneath duvet

twitching dreams caught in muslin

tents in high wind holding their claim

sheared gravity, she is lifted from her sail

and through the tarot of her eyes

I see each snapshot and Rorschach blot

when they told us friendship will expire

they did not know

the language of ink and how

it leaves itself

swirling for paper

on which to draw

us

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The song of rape

It took one finger to break into her

one finger to make her feel violated and dirty

two to make her scream

the boys laughed afterward mockingly

why you so upset girl? we didn’t deflower you

you should thank us bitch

or maybe we should just do what we came here to do

they pinned her down, her tights stretched between her legs

like her fractured hymen

she saw the beginning of tears and inside felt

the raw and hurt center cry out

don’t come back don’t ever come back

they were only eleven years old

lying on the floor in the outside toilets

staring at the stars hardly there because of all the smog

her lungs filled with hurt

they were her friends

until they became rabid dogs

she didn’t know what switched the switch or why

they felt she was there to poke and prod

they were too small and she was too small and everything about it

was premature

which meant

waiting until it happened again

she wasn’t a victim but some things reoccur

as if on some awful cycle

sometimes she’d shudder thinking about

their little hard cocks

trying to pry their way in

the way it felt to be hurt like that

with unwashed fingers scrabbling and opening

the parts of her nobody should

she could visualize the cement beneath her

the smell of urinals and their unwashed genitals

if they had known enough to put them in her mouth

they would have

thankful for small mercies she knew

kids these days wouldn’t be so innocent

they see porn before they know how to spell

pornography

what ideas they must get and how

many bad things go on behind closed doors

or even ones held shut by little boys

seeking to immitate older brothers

she would have impaled them with

her rage if she wasn’t so ashamed

so she said absolutely nothing to anyone

least of all the teachers who would have

called her a slut who asked for it

even at eleven years old.

***

When she reached fourteen

the Golem returned

held her down, muffled her mouth

stuck it in like a needle threading through skin

her scream pierced every limb

and nobody heard

nobody wondered why

she wasn’t home for dinner

her plate was left in the fridge

she was emptied of the last piece

of her soul

left gasping where her privacy had been

legs spread and men hustling in

one after the other took their turn

after all wasn’t it a party? Make it count!

her face closed off and remote like she was dead

some of them were small and bony

their penises hardly large enough to feel

between the soreness and the swelling

others bore into her like a metalic truck

thrusting her back onto her thin tail bone

hands around her neck

fingers pinching her nipples and breasts

they filled her with a disgusting smell

she was never going to be whole again

or clean

and when it was over, it had just begun

face after face, cock after cock

a tape on repeat of her worst nightmare

they came, they came and they went

the only evidence there staining the bed

and her rubbery legs unable to flee

tied and sodomized like a string of beads

she flew out of her crumpled body

a bird of wing and feather only

she saw someone she almost recognized

torn and ribboned and splayed

a garish doll, a parody, a destroyed shape

someone she was no longer

as she lifted, higher and higher, beyond that point

no pain anymore just the thick blush of shame

hidden in plumage

she felt nothing but

a choking word on her tongue

WRONG

WRONG

WRONG

her child’s form

her hardly grown self

the silence of nothing

then it did not matter

what time she wasn’t coming home

all the world was quiet now

movement had stilled

the door was shut

nobody knocked

nobody unbuttoned their pants

and sank to their knees

lifting her up for one more final

free fuck

as if she were no more than a hole

not a human

not a worthy soul

immitation the greatest form of flattery

is not

she was cold now to the touch

her spirit somewhere in the stars

it took one finger to break into her

and a record set on repeat playing

over and over until it scratched

and could not play

anymore

the song of rape.

For all the survivors whose voices are quashed.

Maternal instinct

Symphony

I am a mother

Though you are dead

I pretend otherwise

You feel me in that place that you are

And I sense you

In the small hands of my neighbor’s boy

In my urge to protect and let

Not one moment of harm befall

As if it were you, the ache inside

Sat next to me eating brunch

The waitress charmed by your precociousness

You don’t remind me a bit of myself

Just as my mother thought me a changeling

Who was the fair child she birthed? She wondered

Closing the door and walking into another universe

Away from the scold of maternity

It suited her to wear boob tubes and dance at 3am

Not wipe snot and vomit from the car seat.

OOO

And I see nothing of me in you

You eclipse a generation

Returning to be her and a little of your father

He had eyes that swallowed me whole

When I moved in his arms and invariably

He took and took and took

He also gave a little something of himself

Unwillingly in that hour before savagery

Even sadists have their moments of foreplay

It’s how they build to a crescendo

It’s how we fall for their slick words and

Hard falls

He filled me with you and underneath the green dress

I could see you swell and rise on the tide of my brine

Before the stairs before the marble

Cool on my burst cheek and the pattern of scarlet

He led me in oxblood to that single moment

We could have all ended there

With the moon ripe and redolent behind us

The smell of candle wax heavy on our hems.

OOO

There is no way to undo the circles

Looping through memory like planets fractured against starlight

There is only the clenched fist and a jump

Free wheeling in air, suspended

He watches with apocalypse eyes as I give birth

To the emptiness afterwards

Because his vision is winking out

Through time as we catapult and swing low

He tells me; you haven’t changed, your skin is still firm

And I splinter there in this path of thorns

The beating is joining bruises like daisy chains

You gave me life and then, bending close

Took it away with a snap of your callused fingers

We lie beneath the elm tree with our name carved

And you drink from my breast a milk of sorrow

I wanted you all to myself is your buttoned apology

It does not last .. it comes with the sharp pull on all fours

More hurt than can be described by sign and movement

Bearing a child and starting over bloodless

In one shattered moment

Leaning towards stairwell

Seeing you waiting

Below

Beckoning me

To fall

Afterbirth

What I learned from my father’s girlfriends #2 Leslie

Canadian Leslie

sensible tweed and corduroy

dressed like 50 at 25

white turtleneck and tanned legs in Winter

a talented skier who told me; don’t slouch kid, you will stunt your growth

she disapproved of children who stayed up later than 6pm

from next door I could hear her twangy voice

then the creek of stairs as they climbed to my father’s room

women from any part of the world make the same sounds

hmm / yes / hmm

Canada, I thought when very young

must be a strange land if it’s covered in snow

and still the girls can be tan and have golden streaks in their hair

she didn’t like European humor or sleeping in on weekends

it makes you fat to be idle, she scolded and ate her sugarless oatmeal

after a while she didn’t like public transport or pub culture

so Leslie applied for a PhD program in animal husbandry and moved to Alberta

where I hear she raised eyes

adopting Vietnamese pigs and falling in love with a man from Beirut

her WASP parents wished she’d stuck with my dad

they weren’t ever going to work

she hadn’t liked my baby photos and wouldn’t watch

film noir detective shows on Friday nights with Indian take-out

she left behind some maple syrup and we poured it

on white toast

because after all, this was before we’d learned

how to make Canadian pancakes and Canadian waffles

from French cooking shows

Lovely poison

Do not turn away

Face the sun

The ocotillo stubborn in red dirt

Little life thriving with thinest whisker

As quickly we live we could die

Hands raised in half a circle

Did you shed a tear?

Did you turn and witness

The laced saguaro backward stumble

On our knees we become monument valley

Faces entombed in last expression

Catch it

The very first sign in the sky

Reflection of our secret self

Mirage honoring snaking road

Capsum fingers threading cloud

You squint

Blind against searching heat

Sparce

An ocean missing water

Once your base was festooned

A festival of lights and flowers

And creatures swam in unfocused formation

The stain of your wet feet now dry

Surely all the days of your life

You will thirst to return

To this day of land beneath water

Where blooming softly, a silent swell

Is gentle reminder

Of where we came from

Contained in jeweled fossil

Smooth in moonstruck hour

Curling opposite sides of one another

Listen carefully, hear the tred, shod in fur

Leaving footsteps, follow into magic mountain

There you mount, emptying your secrets into me, one thrust after another

Such is memory, opening a door as if

No time at all has passed

There we are, glistening beneath jellied future

I wear an amber necklace, you remark it compliments my capture

With my fingers, my cat eyes and I, scratch a place where you left the first imprint

As deep as viper, seeking prey, will bite

You are my lovely poison

And I

The hawk overhead

Sighting from high

Evermore

Do you feel me touching you through time?

Gentle the light shines on worn wooden board

Where you dance unseen

Yet I have always been, closer for holding in my heart, your motion

Through the filament of hours, our bond unbreakable

You … as long as you breathe and afterward too

Shall ever feel me standing, holding you up

Not the string pulling you to act

I am instead, arms supporting your effort

To Slough off the grief and find surity in one heart

In this ransacked world we call ours, you are home

You are the northern star

You burn behind my eyelids when they are shut

You tattoo your pigment into mine

We are woven together throughout time

When I reach, you leap, light as startled spring deer

Joining beneath the shade of night, mixed into each other’s color

I know nothing of being without you

For all of myself began

The day I saw you turn

And smile with knowing

You

Who is dearest

Shall never long for nurture or companion

I am the locket around your neck

I sleep in your dreams guarding yet

Any that may hurt you, let them try

For you are

My celestial bride

No distance or passing shall thwart

Energy recognized, even in death

Behind you I shall evermore walk