You got out

(Part of a new series of poems about people whom I have met, who profoundly moved me).

They said

no it’s not a person, it’s a trash bag, or wad of clothing

as I turned the car around

knowing it was a girl, curled into herself

it was for her, the end of a long night

for me, an early morning drive

into rising sun

indigo girl

her limbs thin enough, to resemble twigs

hair colored black, face still-water of a child

she waved us off

no, no, no, I’m fine here

in the fetal position, on the cement

lying by the side of road exhaust

as predator number 10, idles his car and asks

do you want me to take you home


I press myself to the window glass

no, don’t get in the car!

he looks angry when she says

I’m just taking a nap, goodnight

his lust drives off, leaving fuel staining like road kill

I wonder

what he would have done if

all 90 pounds of her, in tiny shorts and torn top

had accepted his bearly, concealed hunger

how many predators comb

early morning side walks, hoping

to pick up lost girls?

she’s got sense and she also, doesn’t know

but I do

I was her once

crawling out of an abandoned warehouse

knife wounds, waltzing on my throat

cold semen in my belly

clawmarks designating, my survival


the car that stopped then

a light in darkness

they took me away, from near death

when so easily

I could have been picked up, a second time

a third,

by hands with bad intention

when you are fallen

people often crowd in, to help you

fall again

like wolves who smell

the coming of blood and

vulnerabilities, we think we hide

I told her

don’t get into a car with a lone man, or group of men

they may not show their fangs but

you are a little piece of goodness

sometimes people who prowl, want to hurt

that shining within you

we drove

she was looking out the window

with her unslept eyes and the residue of last night

still high on her pain

and for the first time in my life

I no longer felt a victim

but one of the imaginary horses, I used to ride

speeding away from slick, sales-man, cough

of curb-side prowler

I wanted to make her better

but sometimes you can only

patch and release

to maybe nothing safer than hope

with a few words

wishing, that when she’s sober

waking without assault

she remembers

you were her once

and you got out



The waves

12523897_1631510570443424_1060343369498657444_nAll the trees looked away

on raw knees

shingle and sand castles

wet newspaper of old stories

yellow fag butts, half empty cider cans

containing sweet succor

one last piece of chocolate give the child

before she loses herself

her best toy clean from wash

smelling of home and tulips

sea makes ghosts of us

running brine like hot semen

searching fruitless loins

kicking against tin cans

bricks do not prize apart

one wet wall from another

we clamor against ageing need

spill the first glass

pour the benediction

here we leave our umbilical chords for advent

what came to be in deserted fair grounds

gold paint flaking against scarlet mouths

wooden horses rolling their eyes

softly dancing on platforms with scratched song

walk out as far as the pier takes you

he watches from his metal bed

strung with his spot lit horror

thin muscles tight with longing

hips like razors privately digging into

your flailing conception

it’s the price

bed sheets left to rinse out your scream

don’t cut your hair don’t spare your wrists

his was a sharp entry into your sleep

run on water-logged deadened feet

past the chip shop hording its quiet fat

where veiled women stare at first light

breaking over cracked lips the train

crying past in low throated whistle

down damp cobbled steps emptied of market

into space without endings or slow buttons

the sea is white with fury

her mouth mounts your need

swallowing the bitter salt of ragged release

beneath stains we see the outline

here lay the girl who caught a bus

carrying her clean underwear like a flag

climbed into her part as a glove

here she is pinched by her starvation

horror painting her eyes purple

ebbing on tide with scissored legs fighting

their eventual knot a violin played in fire

she opened her flute to high ceilings

reedy sound echoing off salvaged walls

fast fury unzipping protest

be a good child bow your head

stay still when flame chews

stroke the boy who demands

fist around your throat starving

paper ghosts fall into obedient rows

feel the rush of angels in her touch

he said I hope you give decent head

I’ve been waiting to break your alabaster

like new buildings devour old

never knew what stood before

leaving thin pockets full of stones

better swim with indigo weeds

hair imprinting shadows on hot breath

goodbye is hello

you learned hard on scalding youth

taking a straw from a tall glass

sucking it dry

my child is the color of clouds

meeting at the point of horizon

where storms gather to make glass

he indented himself like a tattoo

when she climbed out she could not feel

where he pricked her empty sadness

leaving a colander of spilt torch-light

pent-up boys with dusty souls

touching warm radiators, hanging

apologies on skinny shoulders

sounding against sagging mattresses

one two-three is all it took

a sharp knife cutting the choir

freedom twists at a price

he rose like the swell, filling her

the first time you never forget

they whispered behind sticky fingers

girl pull down your hems

cover your spindle chest

close your legs to the roar

hear the waves

hear the waves overtake you

Greater solace


There you are

picture yourself

standing in a vacated room

the walls are nondescript

from the window comes a little wan sun

hardly enough for warmth

you pull yourself closer

recalling how as a child

sitting on old iron radiators in winter

they’d say you’d develop hemorrhoids

in those days

the sound of scuffed shoes running for class bell

figuring you had a few moments yet

to stare out at brick and cement

stretch out reverie

a voice inside your head

surely this isn’t all there is?

you made a pact with yourself

to get the hell out

whatever it took

gathering your books

mindful of their ticket

you forgot yourself in dream

walking past the classroom

after all

learning is better in the mind

than grind of chalk on board

some boy kicking you in the back

with sweaty socks

you knew even then

this was but a stepping stone

though if asked you couldn’t say

what of the grim facade urged you most

to escape


and now

all these years later

more alone than that day

when covered by childhoods vigor

and the smell of something better

just around the corner

hope has been sore in her visits

silence too often your friend

as we fall one by one out of the egg carton

we are without wings

without safety harnesses

all the others found places

in busy lives, babies, families, jobs

the weave and knot of life

whilst you stood watching out of the window


expecting to fly


now in shallow rooms

artifice has left her scent

they tell you the last one has passed over

you feel it in the curve of your chest

no more hands to scoop you back

from your leaning motion to find

somewhere to breathe

where trees are ever green

sunlight full on face

obscuring all trace of bleak homes

terraced and hollow

where you can hear the flush of

neighbors loud toilet

piercing cry of another

born into fitful times

where you never understood

your own role

just the fallacy of drowning sorrows

sundays in the bar

knocking back glasses of regret

nothing could spur you faster

toward wide open space where

no trace of sorrowful city remained


and wherever you go

there you are

still back against the wall

still with the locked door

school girl tights bunched in your mouth

hearing muffled voices

discussing your inability to speak

how long can you hold your tongue girl?

before the need to scream


and in one howl you swallow yourself

all the disappointment

all the lost chances

breaking through cloud

fast diminishing in oboe sky

open the storeroom of your mind

clear out those long stored hurts

preserved in obscura


you may feel you have nothing

but in the sundering fall of flight

we find again our urge

never to quite escape

perhaps more a reinterpretation

carrying on no more alone than before

for we are born crying in singular pitch

in each step grow further to our end

it is in the humility of knowing this

we find our greater




My old school friend

never gave up the habit of

biting her nails to the quick

she had German hair that stood in a halo

a little too thick

and we danced in 1950s skirts

to Shaking Stevens

her mom knocking on the door

turn it down I’m studying for my PhD

since her father left she has climbed

higher toward sea level

whilst we only knew parody

turning the dial on the radiator to

heat up the hormone room

life then was a warm window

two girls crossing the floor in bare feet

she’s staring at me from across the way

still nervous and antsy

as if exams were looming

and the cold nose of winter refused

to flatten our hat sprung hair

from its floss



I could always recognize her

by the turn of her knee and ankle

inverted feet wishing dearly

to point at one another in reverse

clown with no humor

that little imperfection

marked her out in crowd

woman who would be a girl

forever knock-kneed

wearing her childhood like a badge of honor

I survived to give you life

gratefully I carried her bags

as a child learning the weight of things

is secondary to the measure

of devotion

my mother once taller said

I wish you did not stain your clothes

looking up then down I could see

the streak of popsicle on white linen

thankful for her wisdom

pitying my own boyish ways

rather I hang upside from a tree

mouth stained by plums

gazing at the day than

fit into couture

sorry for my disarray I said

sucking on melting ice

my teeth turned red and briefly

I imagined myself a vampire

hunting night for life

she smiled and stood slightly askew

just as once she must in school uniform

age evaporated around us both

I, the adult carrying the bags

heavy in my heart the knowledge

one day she would not be there to

open doors for

teaching my chivalry and the pursuit

of manners and beautiful women who

also had slightly turned ankles

as if they knew not

how to be perfect

it is in that crease we find

the tenor reminding us

this girl who wakes up ironed

is not the one we shall recall

on a rainy day looking out

but the one who stood in the snow

knees nearly meeting

making snow angels with

smudged lipstick and scuffed




Before you left we made a covenant

a pact among children

and time like sand tends to smooth such ardor

few keep their word when blood is young

still you returned

holding your promise like a shield

enveloping my scars

here you said

stand beneath this shelter

I will hold it up against

all that rains down

for some are built of permanence

whilst others shake bags of truth as

confetti, spurious on wedding day

who knows the divorce of passion

better than those who drive their words

through water until absolved

you stayed like ink on my tongue

the taste of squid and salt

and in counting

I found

one suffices

to even out the hurt

turn it smooth against your hand

like mending tapestries reignite lineage

you gave me strength

when I faltered, when I caved in

you were the temple upon which I held tight

as sea swallowed us whole and bursting through

air dried us into stalagmites

hold on

you reminded me, reaching through time

I have always been beside you

it is the weight of truth

turning like gold spun from flax


Cast in glow

david-hamilton-demoiselles-via-paper-ice-cream3Cream walls

curl into ox-blood

and the fields beyond

are washed with sunlight

like women whose hands grow

red with cold labor

look more alive

and bright-eyed

than at any other time

cast in glow

for just a season

of matriculating color

imprisoned briefly

in scattering memory

like fragile white seeds of

dandelions catching against

the thirsty sun