Want & Ritual

Helmut-SPREAD-6FI grew up fetishizing

the nubile antonyms of beauty

Helmut Newton’s exploitation

penis behind camera stroking

sloe-eyed girls with tired mouths

smoking yellow papered Gauloises

nipples grazing peach crinoline

men’s eyes like dry stones, seeking squeezing

I grew up thinking

contortion and bondage was

an art form not

excuse for masochism

as unsupervised child, I’d look through

graphic design manuals

that inexplicably had vulvas and

perky breasts

to illustrate Pantone

it was after all

the seventies

what did I know? Except

women on beaches without tops

giving me francs for not spilling their dirty martini’s

Mon sucre d’orge, sois gentil, va me chercher mes cigarettes

always gentleman watching

the rise and fall of female throats

nicotine mouths, stained vermillion

long tan legs swept beneath chiffon

men taking them to hotel rooms

children

smoking the leftovers whilst adults

fucked behind closed doors

wondering

when I grow up

how can I lie beneath

a girl whose sweat glistens

like marzipan

and if she should

sip on me I think I’d scream

all my silver bracelets falling off

like metal flowers on hotel carpet

after all

life is a film

where we tie ourselves up

with want and ritual

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debris of the unsaid

row-boat-painting-surrealism-woman-dreaming-row-boat-in-hair-beautiful-painting-art-row-boat-in-storm-paintingOnce

the storm

predicted and prepared for

still

blew away the thatch of your house

sent water pouring like words with lament

and whilst

i was sickening

i thought I heard you row

across the expanse of us

holding your roof as umbrella

your feet bare and needy

opened my cabinet of questions

gave you a draft of why?

to which you descended beneath brackish waters

places submerged in lost question

claiming to surface

a moment where you spun in orange pekoe light

sitting stroking Gato before he

tested his claws on a tree the buyers tore down years hence

i climbed that tree in my high heels

you took a photo aping for the camera

and one fixing your sink in mini skirt

that’s my girl you said

we bathed because then you had a bath and I had heated arms to wrap you whole

the ocean of the past drawing in and receding

with it, debris of unsaid and unchained

time behind and unrecoverable

Once

i told you I was sick and couldn’t swim

you held me above waves with your will

till you decided I weighed too heavy

on the stitch of your skin to keep

we both

and neither of us

strangers and familiar

deciding and without decision

lost that year to the storm

as it set its pulse on our sundial and drank all hope in its spiraling eye

(there are many forms of love, you chose certainty over depth)

and once

i took a raft made of need and dragged the silty water

searching for what was lost

of us

who we were and were not

for you told fate you never knew me after all

an error of thinking … no more

then the storm left and all we knew was flat and broken

even trees we climbed were crushed like sad-faced dolls

as if an avalanche had glossed over the details

leaving behind a shiny surface and no more beneath

but dull reflection

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

Safe ascent

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This unspoiled place

holds a silence and a sound both

in the careen of wild bird, dove-tailing against light

swish tailed-fox, caught in glimpsing treeline, scar of russet

your wool pulled and caught like thoughts on wire

I felt you inside, like mercury, descending to places I’d locked

tight against battering fists and claim

how did you learn the maze and possess

parts of me I had yet to give permission?

though all of us are like the wool, caught and fluttering

against a world of happen-chance and calamity

it is only perhaps, in those untethered moments

love, unexplained by all things

captures in unguarded step

drowning tightly held belief

we are our own master

and in this yield

in your arms and the void calling overhead

a vast sky holds swell of rain

just long enough

for our safe ascent

Beneath your coat

Losing your mind feels like

Slipping your chaffed hands into a pair of rubber gloves

Plunging them into hot washing up water

Hearing the chink of porcelain, knocking against glass

Impossibly fragile.

Soon the water grows murky

You cannot see, nor reach the bottom

From the top of your head to the ache in your feet

Standing wooden, bones imploring, knitted sweater itching corner of your cheek

Passion in contrast, hot freedom, dusty legs slightly parted, cold between

An urge as you stand beside the sink

To dive in

Silent impulse on a cold day to keep your hands deep

As long as the water stays hot

That feeling when most of you is dry and clothed, but part

Is submerged in warmth, feeling like fingers working their way up

Stockings, underwear, the electric wire beneath wool

Into the mirage of your longing to let go, absolve yourself of .. it all

If you could release, lie back in kneeding waves

You might let your weary cracked elbows

Then shoulders, sopping, sink beneath

Climbing into the sink, patent shoes slipping

Brassiere faded by multiple wear, a grey strap, a bulge of apricot breast

Hair loose and dripping, reflecting against dull tin

A buttoned up woman trying to gain admittance

All thoughts stewing in your head like vegetables boiled in water lose

Their flavor …

As politely you wash and rinse, checking against light for water spots

No one shall ever know, the devouring urge beneath your coat

Who shall love?

If you are not a beautiful creature

Is there love for you?

When the world appears bewitched by youth and eternal moment’s boiled to infuse

Who shall love?

Who shall love?

The imperfect and technically “past it”

When beautiful felt like;

The sound of heals clicking on marble

Then slippers

Then bare feet

Then silence

No attention for a certain shape, age, gaze

Consolation crows, grow your mind

Crack jokes

Have a sense of humor

Laugh at yourself.

Long before, boys fell in love with me first;

Because of an hourglass

A firmness

A tightness

A willingness

The measure of hips

And then later, aserbic wit

I say ignore the rules

Climb trees at sixty, chomping on cigar

Wear polkadots, rolling dice on roof tops

Make love in bramble hedges and countertops

We talk of politics and deep sea diving, the need for conscience, passion and chocolate biscuits

You didn’t need a perfect pair of legs or a tiny waist

Eventually you wanted a woman of four seasons

Who couldn’t hold her alcohol anymore and streaked across the lawn

A girl of seventy and four, mayflies buzzing in our ears

Who still beat you at arm wrestling and sang like an angel with grey hair

Opening her robe to your eager devour

For once upon, you were a youthful coward, chasing empty smiles

And now you lay in a woman’s arms marveling at her lines

The black and blue, and those she fought hard for, birthing children

Crossing her face like stars

More beautiful for their dance

On skin long past its prime and so fine

For a constellation is music over time

Then and only then, love breathes eternal

The look in their eyes

Walking around, you don’t even need to convince yourself you’re all right

such is the layer upon layer, you don’t even see, until it creeps up and then

blocking out the sun, darkness invades sight and everything is at once, changed.

I am standing beneath awning, the sun is nearly out, it’s a windy day and the chimes in the back garden keep a steady sound

as I have always been, I am attached but not part of, another dynamic, a family with their own ways of doing things

I bend to learn and listen, I smile when expected, at times I think I feel comfortable with my toes dipped in

he has sorrow etched on his face though he is still young, his eyes betray him and a slight quiver in his mouth when

she clearly doesn’t care

I want to ask her, what happened to cause the rift, but everything is fragile and tenuous as if we are tiptoeing around

a sleeping giant

since childhood I learned to pick up on what to avoid and what to leave untouched, the manners of an outsider

accutely atuned to other people’s needs and emotions

not quite an empath, I can tell when they need time alone, if I should make myself scarce

and all at once I recall, aged eight or so, doing just the same, sitting on a cold flight of stairs for many hours

picking at my shoe laces, tying and untying them, making stories with crumbs and the wrinkles in my joints

hearing their argument echo through the thin door

I am good at placating, massaging egos, staying invisible when necessary and picking up the pieces afterward

her eyes are flashing, she puts on a pair of high heals and I can tell what she is thinking though she would never say

she wants to run and pack a bag and leave and find someone else, anyone else

and his need is as palpable as paint vapor, she is strangled by it and her own indifference

I want to ask; You loved each other once, where did it start to fall apart?

do you think they’d even remember now? Unlikely. Too many years building walls

to keep each other out, they forget in their effort, the beginning of them and how

happy they looked in that photo.

I want to tell her, you have everything you need here, I can see it in his movement, it is as if he acts out the ache he feels

I want to tell him, if it’s going to be this way forever, pack a bag, leave before your heart turns to dust

I want to save them and mend them, and make it right

for the sake of the child whose toys we pick up and put neatly away, as if that

will save anything, or stop him from one day remembering

the look in their eyes