Afterlife

when it’s time

kneeling, bowed head

nothing uttered

all felt

describing life and its

merry dance of thieves and joys

pockets picked, cheeks pinched

the rosy after-glow of loss and gain

shaken out blankets beneath trees

mystery of indentations past and present

who lay watching nests built

careful and with slow deliberation

before I lived how could I

describe the outline of love

moving in rapid sync as

tired swimmer in from cold

just as you give up on believing

raking autumn leaves, someone smiles

and breaking across their holy face

a connection of electric worth

for the lonely are not lost

they wander in search of hope

throwing sticks for panting dogs

breaking through water, flying in indigo bloom

a new season turns her heal toward sun

this afterlife will feel a familiar place

of lost faces, angels made of earthly composite

reflecting in the eyes of smiling ancestors

we will feel tears on our cheeks

burnished leaves falling in their spiral

where all things are forever and

the call of owls brings night fall


like a smooth glaze of assurance

tapping windows with sleet

closing up house, warm and merry

we step into the beckoning echo

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Summertime

Depression era pink

glasses breaking

into cubes of falling ice

marbles hitting concrete where hard

should never be

we are soft crinoline and chiffon

we are baby powdered and tight wigs on

to march and strut the catwalk of the world

masks and smiles glued straight

for nothing is as it appears

my love

our bottles of time have used up

their sand

the touch of summer burns my hand

beaches and cocktails and empty bar stools

I saw myself there once

I was looking for you

driving in circles

speeding through rain with the top down

we cut our hair, we changed the locks, we left

the light on

listening for the sound of aching

as it crested the hill

driving too fast at night

slick wheels, slow eye movement

the lament of everything on mute

beauty doesn’t exist in the world

when your heart is carved hollow and

that pit returns to grow its peach tree

I roll another one

inhale

it is the smell of summer on your clothes

fading fading fading

cuts my resolve to ribbons

shredding words without sound

remembering as we were

running after each other all night

I found you then

you said

take me home

and I did

wrapping my thin wrists

through your emptiness

until we two were chinks of light

glimmering in wide empty sky

Inspired by ‘Summertime Sadness’ by Lana Del Ray

Tribe – Candice Louisa Daquin

Latest piece on Whisper & the Roar

Whisper and the Roar

Hold still

it won’t hurt

and if it does

then it’s your fault anyway

you’re lucky to be getting anything

if it were up to me, I would leave you where they found you

hunched in a mess of splayed arms and legs, barely moving

you must have asked for it somehow

they all do

Hold still

it will hurt

because for ages women have sought

to repair their broken parts, find a way to piece together

those patches of their souls

only to be berated and shamed

hobbled, judged, vilified

burnt a second time with stronger brand

what is it within humanity, wants to further damage?

the survivor

hold on

it shouldn’t hurt

we are creatures of the fall, we are not fallen, we are good

women ride alongside men in equal canter

when one of us is hurt, it hurts us all

love heals the torn…

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Coming up for air

Coming-Up-For-Air-1-Alice-Wigley_2500When the moving vans took away a life

bundling it in storage, turning out fly swabbed light

when the house stood empty and of us, nothing remained

her death seemed to have resisted claim

yet she was no more there than mouse who leaves behind footprint and soft down of hair, gone beyond the floorboards

her family cleared out and dusted her remains, placed away in a china cabinet for someone

many years from now to produce a much touched pawn ticket, and re-varnish

she wondered

would they thrive without her?

in time, will her children recall the best of her?

or those days she stood tired and grumpy, keeping warm by the oven avoiding world’s bidding and invite

it was her shame

to waste so much time

if she had known she would have stepped from waxen kitchen like fire bird, gathered them in her arms and driven to the coast

to watch the rise and fall of life crashing on wave

and smell the turn of life, brimming with wet salt

she would have seen within her the burgeoning canker and cast it like a bottle of cobalt blue

out into the surrendering molt of waves, hoping it would lose itself and not return to erase her, premature and cruel

a reminder we are visitors

to this shore

not long in our stay

often missing our purpose, locked away in effort and grind, mowing lawns, picking up, wiping down, staring out into the immaculate disorder

she would have said to her children, take your shoes off, wriggle your toes in, feel the sand, the undone clasp, the undone movement

into life and laughter and sorrow, creating lines of wonder on our cheeks, run and run until your bird chest burns

scream into the sound

cover yourself with sun and never

ever

come up for air

 

poetry by Candice Daquin, first published on Hijacked Amygdala

Candice Daquin reviews Kindra M. Austin’s For You, Rowena

INDIE BLU(E)

IMAG1077.jpgFor you Rowena – Kindra M. Austin

Review by Candice Louisa Daquin

I’ll begin by saying, it’s not easy to write a review of a book that you don’t want anyone to know the twists and turns of, because then what do you write about? With this novel I feel almost possessive, usually when you read a novel you really want others to read, you share what you most liked about it, but with a suspenseful and taut thriller that’s incredibly hard to achieve without giving key ingredients away. The reason this would be so devastating is that this novel builds brick by brick and so to read it out of sequence or know anything of what is to come, would spoil the crescendo.

Instead let’s talk about what I can make mention of without any spoilers. If you haven’t read a novel or poem by Kindra Austin then you…

View original post 1,653 more words

The shape of us

Lift her up

there the hang and fall

bestowed in little curtsies

hemming the space we form

in exultant strong brewed motion

plump on passion your swell against think of light

can I possess, what is unbound?

or will ghosts gather your wicked savageries

plant in ground this divining rod

lightning conducts flame like cautious feline

one brush, my teeth, your skin

panther lolling in banyan tree

emerald leaves the size of clenched fists

slick fruit ripe for the picking

a slice of muscled thigh, a twitch, spice, sigh

rising and falling in cotton swell

pass through the fabric holding us back

nectarine and jasmin

pearl slope of your thin back arched against my hand

dieties take turns to spell focus

wisteria and moon glow

crush of posies, carrying arching silouette

how much I have longed for you

this exact shape and time

in emptiness we find familiar fullness

in loss there is a stranger turn a friend

to bid us back to believing ourselves unpicked

we are part of this weave

tight against fabric, space, destined

as I watch the ribbon in your hair

twisting against itself, trying to work its way loose

there is purpose in the dark damson of your eyes

taking me down from my shabby habit

glass creatures beneath sugared earth

melting against the other

a fusion

the shape of us.

(I had this beautiful idea, two people met
neither one was afterward capable
of loving anyone else with the same intensity
because they were made for each other
every part of them knew, nothing could change that
not all the different people in the world and its various temptations
not anything)

Blossom and Bone – an Advanced Review by Candice Louisa Daquin

Blossom and Bone / by Nicole Lyons
Reviewed by Candice Louisa Daquin

Blossom and Bone (Sudden Denouement Press, 2018) is Lyons’ third collection of poetry and even with the title Lyons has already said a myriad of things which is one of her signature qualities as an author, she can truly ‘say it’ often using very few words thus having a greater impact. By the juxtaposition of blossom (something soft, vulnerable, beautiful, fleeting, fragile) with bone (something more permanent, harder, stronger) as well as the concept of regrowth (bone continues to grow but can be broken, blossoms that die, can return) the title speaks to the endurance and transformation of this author and her understanding of those who experience similar emotions/experiences.
I dislike encapsulating the tenor of an author as most shift in their address to the author but Lyons has an incredible energy in her salutation; she gets to the point, with each and every poem. I would imagine it’s the difference between someone who beats around the bush and someone who is a straight shooter. That lends her work this hypnotic immediacy, you almost feel she is in the room with you, standing there, saying; “I am standing here screaming / I live, I live, I love.” It’s the way she gets to the point immediately, she doesn’t preamble or slowly ease you in, she’s not afraid in other words to just SAY IT and that’s definitely one of her strengths and the reason you will immediately pick out her work from others and know it.

Another quality, Lyons makes me laugh, as much as she makes me cry as much as she hurts she brings humor. The reason for this is her subjects are often hard, she doesn’t shy away from that, and perhaps as solace, she blends a really good balance of beautifully written poetry with the occasional curse word and I love the balance she uses intuitively because it wakes you up and reminds you of the gravity of the subject whilst allowing you to smile at her brazen unapologetic femininity and continue reading. “It never heard the way I hated myself / when dawn hit my window and sliced / its way through the mountains of maybe” (It Never Heard That)

Some poets are scared to write truth, they stick to affirmations, positive vibes, they don’t ‘go there’ and talk about the ugly underbelly of existence and the undeniable pain of existence. Whilst there is far more to Lyons work than sadness, she’s again unafraid to bear her soul and paint universal truths about how we really feel. I find that honesty compelling and addictive in that so often you sense a writer can only be putting their best foot forward, whilst a truly gut-wrenching author will go much, much further and tattoo those truths onto your skin. “This place that once / felt the fire of falling stars / is now cold in my fading light. / So I shall invite you in / and ask you to bring your wishes,” (Bring Your Wishes)

Most of us have mood swings, but how often can we capture that fleeting or mercurial shift in temperament? I for one have never achieved it, whilst Lyons work seems to naturally describe emotions many of us can relate to throughout our lives. And despite her proclaiming that; “I have always loved the cold / dark places where feelings go / to hide, as I have loved something / about the easy way my heart / shatters the second it rubs / up against something warm” (My Easy Heart) there is a genuine awareness that she needs to push past that tendency to hide and not admit how she is feeling and offer it up to the reader as realistically as possible. She does this far more than she may even realize she’s doing it, through sheer guts. But unlike other confessional poets, she doesn’t lament or labor the point, she’s very succinct and sharp in her use of words, she knows exactly how many she needs to make a point and doesn’t use a single unnecessary word, that in of itself is a rare ability as a writer.

I get a sense when I read Nicole Lyons that she inhabits a secret world. I know she is married with children but there’s an entire other universe to her writing, it is surely her very essence and all the history and scars that brought her to this point, and she opens the gates and lets us in, enough that we can hear her thoughts but not fathom all that creates them. This leaves a wonderful teasing, the mystery behind the author, the unknown mind, the commonalities we can relate to, and those things we shall never know. “but the ones who never loved me / have made their home inside my veins.” (Lifetime Lease) Again, it takes a master of words to know how to wield and parlay so deftly with your use of language that you can tempt the reader and draw them in, only to give them what you decide to offer, and absolutely no more. With confessional style poets, the temptation is to say too much, Lyons is a very unique voice in that she has absolute control over what is and is not revealed. It only leaves you wanting more which is surely the greatest lure an author can possess.

I find it hard to explain just how she does this. I imagine it is her ability to self-edit and write as one would speak, with control over the impact that has on the reader. She is clearly aware of her readership, her words are speaking to us, they are definitely not words put underneath a bed and hidden away, they are not shyly proffered, they are bold, unafraid, certain words; “but each time I twist / I come up empty-handed, / and wiping your light / from the corners of my mouth. “ (Wiping Your Light) Something about Lyons endings leaves me breathless, it seems she has just abruptly finished half-way through, you have questions, and yet it’s the perfect closure. I think of Film Noir and how what is not said, and goes unfinished, often leaves the greater impact. In that sense, Lyons work echoes the apparently sparse but really specific dialogue you may think of in classic movies, and it’s that edgy level of suspense and almost quick-tongued drama that I find so compelling, think Barbara Stanwick as a poet.

I mentioned once to Lyon that until I’d read her work I hadn’t been a fan of shorter poetry, the first book I read of Lyons was HUSH which blew me away, for its fierceness and femininity and unapologizing riot of emotion and control, it was like taking a drug and entering another universe, no wonder her books become Amazon Best Sellers she has that draw, it’s the magnetism only truly memorable writers with true craft possess, which is that wonder you find so rarely. “You with the goddess heart / and that cemetery soul, / of course, you are a dragon now.” (Mostly Dead Ones) Not everyone can pull it off, writing with brief intensity the way she does, in some ways she’s capable of creating symbols with her words, slogans, sayings, they’re more than poems, they’re things to live by, to follow, to adhere to, to consider when you can’t sleep at night. They are at the same time blunt and gorgeous, which I find an oxymoron that I cannot readily explain.

In I Won’t Always Be Me, Lyons writes; “I won’t always speak kindly. / Sometimes I will spit, / and I will scream, / and the venom from my tongue / will poison the oceans of love” She possesses an immediacy of intoxicate boldness and it is this I believe is the core reason she has such a following because it’s at once incredibly feminine but also quite unlike what you think of when you consider what is traditionally feminine. She is a writer of the now. She is a woman of the now. Her pulse can be heard in every syllable. In Chicken Dinner Lyons captures the muted grief of childhood so precisely it made the hair on my neck stand up; “next to an alcoholic / control freak who called me stepdaughter / and walked upon me to seal it / like the gummy flap of an envelope / stuffed with unloved letters, / and a mother who wore exhaustion / hidden inside her navy pumps.” There is a kindling rage in her words, a don’t-you-dare-turn-away quality to the exorcism of her truths, she stares into places others skip over, she disgorges the dirt like an excavator of pain, and presents it as you would a film, blinking in front of you, refusing to let you ignore it.

We can point to many poets who are courageous and brave to share their suffering with us, bring some wisdom and truth to a sometimes artificial stage but the voice behind the words doesn’t always stay long afterward, it doesn’t infuse us with a disquieting sense of wanting to reveal the spite beneath our veneer, the cruelty humans are capable of, the quixotic humor of childhood that is both tragic and hilarious, Lyons balances that picture in our heads perfectly. “I taste shame when I look / upon this table of cheaters / and whores, no better than me. / But I am the sheep / that wears the dirtiest cloak.” (Twisted Sins)

In Robbing Air Lyons describes dissatisfaction uncannily; “You are deep hues and an ugly reminder / of small towns and smaller minds, / stroked once and cut twice / from a life, we are all running from.” For so many, there will be a nodding even if their experience differed (small town/big city/male/female) she has a universal whisper, a place at the table, where she provides us with knowledge we have turned away from, perhaps thinking ourselves ‘over it’ and at the same time, reenacting our scars. There are gut-punching reminders of this in poems like I Told Him No, which simply take your breath away in their visceral confession and horror. What I adore is how no matter how badly damaged, the female survivor, her voice is never extinguished, if anything after such evil, she comes back stronger, and that is as redemptive and real as it gets.

Lyons work won’t lull you to sleep at night or fill you with peace, it’ll actually do the opposite and that’s no bad thing; “When I told you that / I had been broken / before; it wasn’t / a fucking challenge.” (Misunderstood) Women’s voices are stronger than ever, but we still have a long way to go, the only way to achieve a lasting voice of equality is to force through the barrier both of ourselves and our histories. Lyons voice is especially potent, she literally takes no prisoners, she won’t back down, she can be caustic, in-your-face and aggressive and those aren’t negatives, because she’s pushing back, against the cacophony of violence and oppression committed against herself and women en mass, who inherit the grief of their forbearers. She does so in such a poignant way I feel she has a lot in common with African American authors like Toni Morrison for their uncanny handling of the extreme ugliness of life and what people are capable of, with an undiminished candor and survival instinct. “I have never felt a smooth landing / beneath my feet, nor have I ever / been lucky enough to tuck one under / my wing and breathe great gusts / of relief as if I had been saved.” (Under My Wing)

Nicole Lyons is already an undeniable force, and I predict she will only grow in strength and those who appreciate her increase. In her words, she evokes a woman whom many of us can relate to in one form or another, a woman who we can share parts of, who doesn’t shun us or other women. Surely this is why we read certain types of poetry where the author can reveal to us our own feelings in their reflections and from this, evoke responses we didn’t think we needed to have (but did). Surely such poetry has a lasting place in our lives and for those who have experienced mental illness or abuse, there is an especial value in Lyons willingness to reach out and share her own; “You call me crazy / because I feel everything, / but I feel sorry for you / because you don’t.” (Of Maniacs and Manics) As a voice for those who cannot put words to what they endure, Lyons stands out with compassion and insight and best of all, an awareness you need not be diminished by any label.

To say of another writer, they are almost uncannily clever, may sound overdone or insincere, but it’s absolutely my final word on Nicole Lyons. “Don’t tell them how I lived / between the darkness and the light, / just tell them I lived with poetry / tucked beneath my skin.” (It’s Only Poetry) It’s always those who can state it succinctly with the foresight few of us possess that hold us in their thrall. Nicole Lyons has long enthralled me, both as a lover of poetry, and because I find her achingly necessary in this world, and she never lets me down, she only frustrates me because so often I don’t know how the hell she does it so well. This is an exquisite collection of writings from an indescribably talented woman; the best you can do is buy everything she’s written and turn your phone off.

“She is but once in a lifetime / and far too many times before. / She is something that just happens, / and she is everything worth waiting for.” (Luna’s Daughter)

Visit Nicole at THE LITHIUM CHRONICLES and look for Blossom and Bone on Sept 9th.


Previous book I Am-World-Uncertainties-Disguised-Girl

Facebook Page www.facebook.com/TheLithiumChronicles.

Find more of Candice and her stunning work on The Feathered Sleep and on Indie Blu(e)

Her gorgeous book of poetry, Pinch The Lock is available for purchase here