What you really need

Bottles of pills fall from the sky

they look like Texas sized hail

each one comes with a promise and a warning

in some cases several

it’s a pretty thought to cancel the warnings and embrace the promise

I promise to ease your pain

I promise to lift your anxiety

everyone loves a restorative

even when the sky isn’t blue it holds faith

like a confident lover

the birds don’t know our fitful human world

they only understand song and flight

you’d like to be without gravity

it’s a small price to pay

looking at your life from up high

we treasure absurdities

then something happens to shift delusion

for what do you need of things?

when what you really need

is found in the wielding air

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Ripe fruit

The body

Is a soft pomegranate

Shiny seeds spilling out

Soft offering proffers

Sell by date

Arbitrary or fated circles within circles

Once, you bled

The same crimson as a dress you wore to fireworks night

Until invisible hands

Ushered away the urge to bring

Life wriggling on flat earth

Straining you heard

A primal cry

It was you

Half covered with sweat

Shaking off

The emptiness of the day

Your belly full

Of hours

Equal

At every juncture

The challenges are

Equal

For a five year old

First learning to fit in

Can be as painful as

A ninety year olds last breath

When we inhabit that moment

In the skin of then

We are incomparable

For one shall survive a flood

And another the passing of their favorite dog

A child may cry at a bad grade

Whilst her mother learns she must lose her breast

There are few compasses

In the search for meaning

We are not

Linear beings

A glimmering girl of movement

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Things are not always what they seem

I came from negative photography so I believed, beauty came from broken wings

She’s is a muted goddess but she feels she is muddied totem and godless

Running on raw feet to keep the fear at bay, she is Zola Bud without a flag

A thin line of angularity, stretching on tarmac into distance with her naked courage

She says, damn it, don’t put me on a pedestal

I want to tell her; it’s just believing in you, but she’s like me in that regard

Children brought up on curses, never believe velvet coated words

They’re drawn to the familiar caustic lack of praise, boiled with the bones of shaven headed ancestors

She feels safe in critical people’s iron gaze, mulling over flaws like antique appraiser

And if I could I would, redo her start, give her warmth and security, raise her up and place, the sunlight in her eyes

A golden trophy for my cousin, who runs at dawn to hide her cries, one long limbed stride into furious future

And as she runs she hears the chime of those who believe in her, even as she can only concentrate, on feeling motion tuning its drum

There in her deep heart, thrumming to keep going, against weather’s worst, she defies expectation, a glimmering girl of movement

 

FOR MY BEAUTIFUL COUSIN. I LOVE YOU.

Birth

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It is said

by mouths that do not move

it is gauche to write about oneself

(over-much)

and she didn’t always, for the world had so many things to describe

until the sink hole swallowed her breath, tar covered and added feathers

her crimson brand ran like a howl down a deserted one-eyed street

if she were a fish she’d have no scales, and nothing to measure what she lost

nor a compass to find through hooded treeline, her way back to who she’d been before

this is the way of transformation

forced from our stage we are bound and gagged

the way forward obscured like rubbing grease on glass

it hurt to be cut by ice, it stung to know no intuitive language

hands tore at her sides whilst she slept on a brick within a house, held down by gravity

they told her; you will not recover it is time, to put aside hope

along with your beautiful dresses, your long dreams and afternoon sun

she wasn’t ready to lie, like a pin against other cold metal

to be counted and cooked to the marrow, ready for sucking

for she was warm, she was alive, she hadn’t climbed all her life, just to see a cloudy day

it wasn’t her way to admit defeat

as migrating birds returned and sat like tired audience to her calls for help

she knew, a fight is never asked for, it beckons you when you stand on cliffs edge

trying to count the ways you might die

such a sorrow in planning your own end, long before you intended

she still had so much still to do

hair to plait, skirts to hitch, and ride, ride out into the wilderness

where raw bones are the purest listener

they will hear you when you throw yourself down on wet moss and

burying your fevered head in earth, call upon angels

for protection was something she hadn’t thought of

since she was a little kid walking to school alone

and then she had an imaginary horse, and all the years to come

now, the clocks turn back, time rushes forward like an impulsive guest

who has drunk her fill

ransacking light she streaks out into the forest and you cannot follow

because she is quickly absorbed into gesturing evening dusk

perhaps never there at all

that’s how she feels now, half alive, half hanging on

at the witching hour, it is all she can do not to throw herself into the glittering lights of oncoming traffic

for she is not as strong as those who endure like a costume, their own brand of hell

she has only herself and it isn’t enough

so the words come

and they stay loose and unsure upon the page

as if they know her fragility and their own insubstantial compose

if she can stay long enough, maybe she’ll see something new

maintaining equal hope with encroaching dawn

that is when everything from the day before, gathers

turns to dust and we begin over, perhaps better

with every urging push, splitting apart, garnering strength from invisible force

as fierce and distant as a Northern wind

we who know, how to birth life and produce hope

from the fragility of almost nothing

 

(Inspired by RandomwordsbyRuth who said; “Survival is the highest form of compliment we can give ourselves.’)

Papier-mache

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They said, keep the blinds drawn, what we have to say, isn’t good

they lay her down on a white sheet and beneath, the hammered metal hummed

the bulb in the middle of the room, behind linoleum, sung a hissing song

their white-coated pluck and scratch, indifferent and sterile, she was just, flesh and blood

another in a long line of patients who, largely were forgotten, consumed by a machine, uncaring of individual

she could feel the dried corners of her eyes crack, as she looked left and right

someone once told her, adult survivors of abuse, find it hard to relax

they are always looking for what is crawling out of cupboards

she didn’t want her past to run her future, but now it seemed, her future was in doubt

never before had she felt so alone

the petty bravery of moving countries, seemed a facile thing, for children who didn’t yet know, true terror

surely it is easy to be brave when you have no war, and are just posting letters

she lived like that for so long, running from childhood’s sadness, enjoying the wide open space of adulthood

thinking she had all the time in the world, surely growing older was for another life

it wasn’t entirely selfish, she did her part, but there was always the tendency to want to make up for the past, by living without a care

and then it was no longer that way

impossible to ignore, unable to let go of, she was swiftly consumed and irrevocably changed

even if tomorrow the cloud lifted, she would never walk as lightly as she used to

the power of naivety, ignorance is surely, our dearest friend

now her heart beat fast all the time, unable to still, the surge of emotions inside

she was a rabbit in her burrow, smelling fox

she was no longer the quick silver of a girl, without terrible knowledge

days were unbearably long, and serious, like the frown on an old man’s face

they spoke of compromise, a series of steps, faltering and bursting apart and trying over

it was as if all of her was removed and pummelled into earth and made to rise again

never was it more silent, never did she wish for the phone to ring and something to let her out of the nasty trap with jagged mouth

words are just words, she could have said; I am strong, I am going to fight, but in the next breath she may

simply not be able

and that lack of, that inability, like a prison, or a sudden dismemberment, was, a kind of horror she’d never been creative enough to imagine

like being stolen from yourself, and hearing in the distance, the sound of children dancing

to your favorite song

if life is indeed a battle, she thought, this is where I need to buckle down

put aside my tendency to want to climb out of the window and skip the lesson

stifle the longing to run fast, in the opposite direction

everything so far, had brought her to this point, it wasn’t what she’d imagined

instead, she’d hoped by now, she’d have found her groove, begun as humans tend, to build her fortress

it wasn’t time yet, it wasn’t nearly time yet

and all the days she’d squandered, thinking there would be more

all the long drawn out machinations, to position herself and be ‘responsible’

denying the lustre of living

she’d put off joy so many times, in favor of ‘sensible choices’

where were those now? She berated herself for not having taken

more vacation, more experiences, that glass of wine, danced on that table top

she worked for a future, she may never get to experience, sure she felt bitter, angry at her lack of insight

though most believe, we’re never ready for bad news or, the fall of favor

we think we predict worst case scenario but that’s only an anxious mind

seeking to control the uncontrollable and unknown

nothing prepares you for a premature curtain fall

nothing shores you up to deal with catastrophe

we muddle through or we give up

those are the only two ways we journey

when the wet-ass hour comes tolling

she felt a grief for her bad choices and wished, like others she could have no regrets

it is hard not to regret when you’re cut off from everything

difficult to look forward when the present is biting at your ankles

she wasn’t one to pray for herself

but she did now

she prayed for the strength she felt she didn’t have

she prayed not to feel so isolated

cried thinking of how many before her, went through this darkness alone, their hearts aching to be cared for

she was a little girl again, looking for her mother beneath furniture

seeing her in album covers and from the top of buses

that woman had her mother’s eyes, large and dark

that lady’s figure is slim and reedy like her mother’s was

at night she wanted to feel the way she imagined a child does

put to bed and told, everything is well, you are safe

if she’d had children, she’d be saying it to them now

but life threw her a curve-ball and she ended up reproducing only

empty rooms collecting dust

perhaps it was for the best, now that she’d sunk so low

for how could she care for anyone, when she could not for herself?

if everything has a reason, she wasn’t sure of this

to teach her gratitude? To punish her for lassitude?

if there was a God she hoped, somehow to end her suffering, even by means of eternal sleep

but she felt bad for praying when so many, suffered far worse than her, and how they coped, she did not know

only that she had to try each day to keep going, in what direction was unclear

she wasn’t sure of the sign-posts or meaning, it was too easy to let fear, guide her way

so many things needed to change and yet, she was tired, so tired of fighting and being scared

they say those brought up unkindly, learn to be strong

she didn’t feel strong at all, she felt like only a thin wind, kept her from collapsing

and all her plans were thrown in water, watching the ink bleed out, with nothing left to find, but papier-mache

her grandmother once told her, out of nothing you can build, entire universes

she tried now to imagine a place, where she would be restored

where all the things she still had to do, remained possible

surely you can tell when, the end of the record is over and, it’s about to go quiet

she hadn’t been able to, she’d one day been carrying her dancing shoes, across the newly waxed floor, her eyes feverish with anticipation

and the next, swallowed by sickness, left without curative

only the static of a cold room and a script for patience

she’d been spat out of the system, left to flounder by road-side

how different, she thought, from childhood where, we do everything to protect them from fear

sewing toys that will keep them company at night

mobiles to send them to sleep, songs to ward away nightmares

and at some eventual point, we decide they’re ready for the real world

full of savagery and disregard and people who are supposed to help

but are only doing the bare minimum

is it any wonder we flounder, and miss a step?

looking around in wide-eyed fear

mouthing the unasked question

is this what it feels like, to be real?