For what they did yet not know

140829195756-22-women-in-comedy-restricted-horizontal-large-galleryYou thought it was bad when

you got your first zit

and the unblemished skin of your youth

erupted like Everest

you thought it was bad when

you got your first stretch-mark

and the smooth thighs and breasts of your growth

betrayed the camouflage

you thought it was bad when

you got your first scar

a thin line of emptiness which they said

the bikini would hide

you thought it was bad when

you sagged and you spun with weight loss and gain

in the span of twelve fevered months

and then it seemed

unimportant

because those scars

the immature loss of vanity and adulation

crying over not fitting into yourself

the lament of sudden change

was less than the stubborn plant of your feet

in survival

and you went to your neighbor

who was missing a breast

both of you shared

the disjointed humor of pain

and you went to your preacher

who had lost his testicle

he joked about being single

and you went to your park

saw women with brain tumors cut out

walking their high energy dogs

and you saw

this silly game of magazines and perfection

of I will stay 20 and flawless forever

of men who would leave when you get cut up and bleed

how it is but part of a bigger picture

that of sweat and guts and fear

and surviving through gritted teeth

even if he left because you were no longer perky and up for it

because you threw up at midnight instead of

giving him head

even if the girl at work could wear heels and short skirts

and you hid your swollen stomach behind swaths of cotton

or couldn’t get out of your bed

because then … just as everything seemed

to be wrinkling and disintegrating and rebuilding

into something unfamiliar and changed and partially incomplete

another man with light in his eyes

who didn’t care about such things

smiled at you as you walked beneath the yawning trees

because your medication said

avoid direct sunlight

and he said

I have the same problem which makes it hard living here doesn’t it?

and you talked and he smiled

and said

I like the way your eyes twinkle

and you said

I get that from my grandmother

even when she was eighty-five she was

proposed to by farmers who thought

she looked like a kind of Katherine Hepburn

and he said

I can see that

red

would you like to meet here tomorrow again?

and you saw the way the world really worked

underneath the adverts for boob jobs and butt lifts

and reality tv that’s nothing of the sort

his hand brushed yours and you saw

sunspots on both

it made you laugh

a little like a hiccuping hyena

and he laughed too

the survivors

beneath the canopy of life

snorting like five-year olds

as skinny joggers with air-brush tans ran past

with sad empty looks

for what they did not

yet know

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A gilded age

The giant cicada makes a sound

my neighbor thought was a whistle

or a strange faceless bird

we imagined a long white beak

and thick black feathers

but it was the hidden molten cicada

and he is quite verbal

pursing a haunting music

as my cat refuses to eat his food again

unsure, is it his teeth? Or his desire

to slow down and curl up

once and for all?

I don’t guess their motivation

why the cicada sings

why I find the sound mournful

echoing my own inner feelings

as if I were writing out on clouds

exactly what was inside me

why the cat persists in refusing

my best efforts to keep him alive

whether it is right to let something you love

die even as

you think you can keep it

if the right time ever

exists to say goodbye

and why I don’t tend the greenhouse more often

as I put so much effort into

growing the little seedlings

do I prefer the solidity of well lived things

over youth?

thinking back to my own empty glass

and sallow bedsheets and

neglectful lovers

the wan asp of being twenty

like heirogliphs on walls

staring for eternity

not ageing, nor real

a gilded age

passing to creped hands in sunlight

and furrows from thinking too much

whether this skirt is a little tight

these shoes too high

the longing to be running barefoot

through high grass again, mindless

of any consideration

nothing around my neck

but wilted perfumed summer flowers

not the strain of trying to make

a life out of dry earth

with tears of disappointment

when all around seem so

tucked into their gentle cycles

and you are rogue

wanting to be among the branches

with the murmured cicada

listen to the call

much like the imploring whistle of a train

as it would steam slowly into town

every night at midnight

you would reach for me

and nothing else would hurt

Than any human hands

Many will say

Love cures all

Those without it

Suppose

Once possessed

No grief and loneliness

I would tell them

Even with love

The hole in the world can be felt

And standing in your life

You may still feel as alone

As when you were single

There is no magic pill

Only the kind of sadness

That is not situational

But sits on the perch of the happiest days

Like a drab trailing cloud

Raining when you should be smiling

And the cult of happiness

Declares you a failure

And the cult of love says

Why wasn’t I enough?

And the insistence of mindfulness and karma and gratefulness and other totems

Banish your bad self

To the hinterlands

Where supposed beasts lurk

In the rolling gloom

And you are there talking to your therapist

Minding your manners and saying nothing

Of the deep scratch underneath your skin

Or how you came to be

A changeling

Who unwaged by the ambelical

Left the desolate nest

And found more succor in the sad glass eyes of a stuffed toy

Than any human hands

Many will say

Love cures all

And you saw the old lady in her wheelchair

Recognize you as herself

Fifty years hence

Though you would not wish

To inherit her absences

Growing like an orange

Without sun

Will therefore capture

No taste

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

Herself

She is, dismissed by men her age who

Gaze hungrily at girls their daughter’s age like

Wolves without pelts, urging toward light

Perhaps they think youth will keep them steady, as age creeps into their veins

But their heads, empty yet, of the carousel of experience

Her soft skin does not reflect the many places she will inhabit

A wisdom in her eyes will more than compensate for any lines

As they draw together in laughter and back again with the sketch of time

She may

Lament her losses but surely not regret the gain

Of a certain suppleness of mind

Hers will one day be, the confidence found over fifty winter’s more

She draws you in with her knowing, like familiar shore

It would be her bursting chest of pressed flowers, against my own, making greater indent of memory

Not a fledgling bird nor snared fox but the beauty of a falcon, gazing into distance

Her love would be measured then blown about the room in spirit form

To chase my wonder of her self possession

She stands in a gown looking out and I see

A bead of sweat we made, caught on her neck like a pearl

Even as I touch her she is untouchable, for her strength

Was forged in deep water and honed over the years like a well turned bell

Can be clearly heard, ringing us towards her

Back still straight and the scars of her living like jewels

She has brought life, she has survived beyond herself and the low imprint of convention

Free of such empty things she is now a lover released from expectation

To be at last

Herself

The preserve of her emotions

Get up.

When you were ten, your body was a springboard

You bent in the wind, dashing forward.

Get up.

When did you start to believe otherwise?

With the coming of stiff mornings and anxiety in your belly?

As life crept nearer to unknown trials?

When did you give up believing?

You could again, hold the Fates cupped in your hand

And blow to scatter, seed to four corners.

Get up.

The white sheet, covers a multitude of unsaid

An imprint of the living, breathing, fear of mankind.

She appears to be a well behaved woman, with hair needing to be trimmed

But like a cake of many layers, the face fit for public consumption, is just wet paint.

If it was acceptable, she’d grab the quiet man, stooping to take her vitals

And craw in his ear, the gravy of her distress.

What would she say? That has not been said before? Who would care? In an ever-ready world powered by rhetoric?

When she was eighteen, she could command attention just by crossing her legs or flashing her eyes

But what a dismal game that felt, a fraud of poker and thighs.

They only paid her heed due to the bewitchment of youth and some promise it told their nether regions.

So often she’d mistaken lust and hunger for love and care

But they were no more than empty vessels, wishing to dock briefly in her harbor.

Her game, if it was one … of fishing for favor, a warm body, a pretend consolation

Left her desolate, like an addict without pipe

All her fancy, dried up and rotten in the artifice of it all.

And then she’d tripped over that invisible and superficial line

From youth, to something men did not wish to define and women morned.

She however, felt relief.

Not to be the party planner, proving her game was fitting in

It was gentler to command less and need no filling or straight flush

Though they say a woman’s worth, must be found in herself

For her sell-by-date leaves her invisible to the world.

And that was true. She did no longer

Turn heads or find men leant in, too close

Instead she was a ghost, haunting the specter of herself

Unsure why she claimed purchase on earth anymore.

It was as if the mic had been turned off

And everyone left the room

For the audition of younger models next door.

She was not a mother and could not connect

With married women who worried their husbands would stray, with downy cheeked baby sitter.

Nor was she eager to fill her face with plastic, just to feel a little of what she’d lost

(Why was it a loss?)

There seemed no path cut out for castaways of normal

No clear direction to take, on the other side of age.

Men … they remained mostly unchanged

Still harboring the illusions of youth, with rapidly balding heads and expanding guts

She felt so much … but who now wanted to hear her words?

Where was an audience for silver haired creatures of Artemis?

If she’d been an owl, she’d have screeched at night

And people would have woken and said; Goodness, that sounds like murder!

Such was her need to share

The preserve of her emotion.

So get up.

Though it has been long since you hopped on one foot

Or worn brightly colored hats, just because you could

And not, for the fondle of admirations dusty nod

But the sheer delight of being at last

A woman of substance.

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