Beneath its rebuke we claim our sex

I am disappointed when
My thighs resemble dough

From lassitude or the dreaming void

I know not

While others jog I find ways to hide, and years bring encroachment
I am disappointed when stretchmarks form and breasts once firm and fine, fall
As if the hour, prescriptive written, perforation, was

all along a trembling, inken fate

Only in your arms
away from dull gaze of waxen youth

yet to taste harsh glare of life
Still blunt in their unlidded perfection

Was I ever so?

Only in you, I find solace to unburden these stored shames
Bidden me by my role as woman
The unkind hand, who beckons us close to fire
That we may touch a moment of glory

Then slow descent to nowhere visible

In my head of aches, I hear the cacophony of iteration

Women over a certain age
Sexless, sagging beasts of burden

We laugh over my fears
Our respective flaws, rubbing each other
Tenderizing that, which believed itself perished
And was alive
Beneath its rebuke

And when you bring me out of my shell
To kneel to the sun god, without need for apology
I see not those things

Or the artificial glide of time

But feel
Feel your fingers

Deep in my belly

Sense your mouth
Folding bliss in her eternal recline
Taste the syrup of us, in the temple
Then
I am disappointed no more
A fire bird loose in my body
Such pleasures, no child can find
We lift together, in our mutual ecstasy
Emboldened by the dream to be free of chains

Two of us
Released from the grip of words
Threshing at the gate, with the symphony of a female’s sex
Greater than anything that can be crushed
Our fever, mighty in her conquer
We cry as one, our voice raw with awakening
For to be pleasure, is to know
The Gods

No you do not own this moment
Bashful world

For we have transcended the hand of man
We
Who are
Woman
Claim
Our

Sex

Thoughts in light

She has written herself off

or so she says

watching youth inherit the mantle

she stares at her own flaccid chest

in unforgiving morning sun

and tries to convince herself to gently let go

light pouring in through the bay window

creating a halo effect in surround

she is bathed in unexpected warmth

her pores absorbing hungrily

that urging intensity, a happy blindness

as if the world paused in its toil

to tap her on the shoulder and whisper

it’s not near over yet girl

go out, gather your arms full

live

live

live!

What’s is remembered, lives.

When you die

people will talk you up

fatten your totem pole into fierce faces

of defiance

because you were strong, because your blood carried

the weight of your legacy and your ancestors

when you die

I will wear your ring on my finger if I am still around

and every sunset will pull the moon down

her mauve redolence

aching in my chest

to hold you against me

for when you die

memory will become a marriage

between us, and the ether

I will live in the past ever more so

recalling the days we spent

living our life in each other’s gastropods 

it is my belief we carry within us

the seeds of ancestors and loved ones

blood and violets, oshibana in focus

and each step we make on this earth

we walk alongside the invisible ones

who hold us up when the going gets tough

recently, the going has been very tough and I have

beseeched the stoicism of those who are not here

to see me through

I don’t have their solidity, you know

nor their earnest lust for life

at times I think a brawny wind could

carry me off

I have at best, one foot on the ground

the other is hurtling in a rêver

a dream of less grief, less pain

where we can unfurrow our sails

and drift on burnished water

I was asked not long ago

what I most wanted out of life

and it seemed such a banal question

when struggling to survive

but really that’s the point isn’t it?

To keep putting one foot in front of the other

staring at the setting sun as it blooms

fattened orb of life

just as capable of destroying

a metaphor surely …

for our riddled

minds

(homage to Nomadland)

Never tamed

Oh love

death is a transition

just as life is a bird

who interupted, will startle

leaving a smudge of indigo

against stark whitewashed sky

the shush-shush of neighors raking leaves

whose auburn crepe bows in protest

for they wish to lay still with the grass

turn seasons over in their golden hours

this artificial need

to tidy, put away, is but one method

of seizing a control far from reach

I fold in your arms, light gloaming through shutters

out of the corner of my eye I see marks on my skin

the furlough of time and suffering, chaffs against endurance

your eyes look oriental as you age

their downturn makes you smile even in pain

lends you a kindness strangers respond to

quiet is infused with our collected breathing

in this moment we live

sheltering from portent

I see the neighbor’s son helping his mother

he’s grown thin and reaching like the trees

not yet aware of diminishment

or why his mother holds back tears

when the sun paints day dark and shadows roam

casting their memories, as we did once with a torch and our hands

your shape lasts in my mind, a totem

I’ve carried an ache so deep in me for so long

it seems to exist independently

a Golem of my own creation

perhaps he will bend and lift me up, when next I fall

weighted by emptiness and disappointment

maybe he will spin me around in browning leaves

escapees of the neighbors rake

flung in unfettered defiance

a string of thoughts

stirred

never

ever

tamed

Highway 101

This is what I’d say
If we were speaking

If cellos played ambrosial
If those who said they were alone actually knew what alone meant
This is what I’d say
To the ancestors with sepia faces
To the full family tables I could never navigate
The empty drive, unfilled road, the lack of fake
I’d say
I can’t do pretense

Or big events
broken pipes
yellow light

Or changing people

False words
Mislaid purpose

I would say I couldn’t get on with you
We fought like siblings
Though both were singletons
The vibration of only children with no children
I would say I became angry when you lied
When you faked who you were
When you got suckered by people stupider than you
When you lived in your pretend world
Whilst I ate and feasted on blisters
I would say those from wealth and those from basalt cannot understand

The empire
Of emptiness

A track road with lisping night creatures
And desert burning into mirage
I would say it seems at times
Futile to try to get close

to anyone

But I felt serried to you
That’s likely why I got so churlish
Why I stopped talking

Said nothing

Because betrayal comes unconsciously for most of us
In the voluble let downs and unseen affronts
Like a storm threatening, then retreating

Electricity in verging air
Reminding us of bigger purpose

Points of tangency and points of equilibrium

The hour until we ease into contiguous dying
The way you assumed I’d believe what you believed
I never did
I carry a heart with wormholes in it
The rain lets out
You get out
I drive on
In the mirror of oil on the road
I see you understand

I would say we were the same
Not even at different ends
Just burning with curved impulses

That quench the other
As I look in your eyes

I see myself

And it hurts and unsettles me

Worse than my own reflection

blue black hours

you exhaust me

with your perpetual need

you who is I, I who is me

this hungering for solace

rubbed like frankincense

on pulse points

used to be said, a woman’s evocation

was found in the thread of her blood

tasting her, found, a salt and an admonishment

for knowing mystery is not permitted

you exhaust me

with your perpetual need

you who is I, I who is me

attempting free fall, finding balance in

tender pretend, the chime and rounding of days

a music without orchestra, still she sings

heal me from the want

expunge that holy desire for more

give me a reflecting glass

that I might climb through

touch my limbs as they break into fire sticks

combusting in torrent, the woman, the girl

the crone

she sits with sun on her face

careless of time

she has put aside her duty

listening instead

to the song of a bird

whose feathers remind her

of blue black hours

How’s it taste?

In the olden days

they mined towns for their ore

like men drank youth from the

neck of local girls

until everything became brittle

time fled ahead

to something unrecognizable and sour

then we looked up from our tasks

seeing a familiar chink of light in day

years falling away, yellowed pages

surprising us with how many

collected at our feet

how could, all this time have gathered, and

dust in our hair, as we sat, hunched over

our endeavors like hungering cats

without respite?

Without children, our marking

of the passages of life, mislaid somewhere

a half mended cardigan

no longer fitting right

we skipped from pursuit to distraction

thinking it possible to always return

to that hour we woke

our heads wet with the burnished zeal

of awareness

now, now we have slept

without knowing our slumbering

the turn of years into decades

our prodigious output, a heavy weight

on the bare necked sap of youth

staring into the mirror seeing lines

that have crept unbidden in afterglow

like thieves, we still believe ourselves

that youth

with shiny hair and bright intentions

where have they found themselves? Lost

among conifer trees, flitting in and out

like an optical illusion, solitary birch

burying fears of

going blind and birthing cancers

instead of placentas beneath the mother tree

stifling truth

for one of ‘maturity’ and ‘reliability’

ironed sleek on fists of thawed rebuke

though every night as indigo infuses sky

there remains a longing with the starlings to scream

fermenting anguish out into the humus

where nobody, save the desolate lost

might respond to entreaty

and return, by pull of thread

tug of color through dark

that vital spirit cherished

when all else went to rot

amidst the berserker of youth

thirsting on its short straw

determined to drink it all

before we, parched and fragile

in garnishment, got to share

a little of life, just a glance

backward to the days spent dancing

lost in sound, the writhe of

bodies about, surging in a sea

of shared rebuke

of this cold world

where water in the morning on your face

scolds

your vast, lovely, unspoken

dreams

Misleading light

You’re not leaving yet are you?

Girl with mango skin, every direction she turns

a kalidoscope of hopefulness in her smile

I notice how she wears her rings on her fingers like mine

that is because she is me

lost to time, a pull in a favorite knit top

the burgundy losing its focus as

it gathers holes

this is because she is me

bound to gravity and her weighty entreaty

toward inexorable end

a time away, yes, yes,

and nearer now than ever before

the steal of youth cloying on her dry hands

people slip her sweets and say: You are a doll

and she knows if she were a doll she’d be

able to affix the grimace all day and probably say

mama if you tipped her upside down

which is what she cannot say now

anymore than: I hurt, I cry, I feel

for she is passed that invisible line in the sand

where confession is pretty

she’s on the side of adulting

among the oaks and bulbs promising

fertility in Spring

but maybe they will be too tired

to show much of their lustrous potential

isn’t potential for under 25’s? She

read that somewhere in one of those

damaging women’s magazines before

they were transplanted to a screen

where weary eyed, prematurely hunched

poor postured youth eat their life’s golden ticket

like it is a salty snack at bedtime.

For sleep, for retreat, into the veiling woods

the silence unfolding like a veil, mist disgusing

her disappointment, even love doesn’t always

fill in where that ends, fickle in ways

you only learn when it’s exhausting

to find alternate routes, still she finds herself

thinking of the mango girl, the weight of the future

bowing her head like a shy dancer in the wings

of some hot lit theater

how then it was overwhelming in an entirely different way

the touch of a stranger, electricity firing her magic

quills into ether and those nights of no sleep

spent creating, describing, entire worlds

the future, a glittering prize, a lover, a friend

perhaps

perhaps

perhaps

it is time for her to leave

her skin shed in parts like impatient lizard of the desert

indigo handprints leading into arroyo

the scars of her like points of light

shining through

perpetual dark

as we mistake a falling star

when it is ignis fatuus

mere oxidation of phosphine

causing us to believe

remarkably and with some relief

in fairies again

immutabilité

In the afterlife

There is always something to do

pick up the leaning umbrella before it hits the window,  leaving

a tell tale smudge

clutter. Le désordre

le bruit, le fatras,

a maniac for the mind seeking calm

in Upton’s Jungle where only heat bakes

rocks inedible

cushions flattened by visitations, last nights vestige

reminds me of when the bad boy dropped me off at my house and I ran

whippet thin and full of bile through tall yellow grass before sun was up

thinking if I could get inside, wash every molecule off, it wouldn’t be real

for what is real? Who is alive and who is not?

Was it real that you gave birth to me? Or did I come out from your forehead

like Athena without guile, just seeking, the end of the puzzle

wet with embryonic writhe

a dot representing the center, a square we are lost in, a triangular shape of a woman

scything herself of humanity

yoga mat lying on the floor, when no one is looking, legions roam across

their sticky melange leaving detritus and DNA – filthy castings of a viral world

and we think there’s a purpose to cleaning? When our minds are so

filled with dirt, the stain of then, the need for order, no end in sight

you died before I could recall my own conscience

still playing in the sandbox with Pavlov’s dog

salivating at lunch time when the ice cream truck sounded

turning the corner into our 1970’s neighborhood

all the kids who grew up to be wrecked, all the kids with abuse

shuttered behind their sleep-filled-eyes, what we knew and did not know

before we lived, before we were fully conceptualized

clambering out of robot heads into uniforms with starched collars

and itchy labels. Derrida scolds me for forgetting

the metaphysics of presence, how the hair startles before

we are aware of the interloper.

My mother, without me would have been

the same, oppositions casting wide circles around the other

in extravagant orbit,

her elegance like a chill shadow

against ivory, casting divine repetitions

she may once have wondered what it would be like to

behold a daughter and then, cleaning the smudge

the umbrella made on the glass, moved on to watering

the thirsty plants, who never receive enough

sustaining in this infernal heat. Montaigne’s grotesques

filling empty space with coherence, as monsters dressed in provocation

attempt to mediate man’s presumption, for our limit is sifted clear of

lasting knowledge in the face of holy entreaty.

I am and I am not

here and there, once and before, dancing to the last song

of the evening in your arms, unable to

tear myself away from the grand illusion

that life could be smooth like a record with

little grooves created from their undulate

music to move the water inside our soul

carried far until we grow

weary somehow of the weight

and set it down beneath a tall tree

where we shall never move from.

(First published in Free Verse Revolution, 2020). 

The magic fairground

I scratch my head, the mixture of henna and indigo dyeing my

finger nails black

thinking of the red pill and the blue

Alice and her little vial

Drink Me

Pandora’s Box

Athena’s head exploding, a rebuttal to Zeus

yellowing wallpaper closing women’s mouths

Radcliffe shouts in her lesbian manifest

those following her down the well of loneliness

high waisted and limber of spine.

I want to nibble upon you morning, noon and night

but I do what is right and keep my fantasies in check

behind the lines of notepads and in the ink of pens

I suck till my tongue turns blue-black

your lips remind me of a pomegranate even without rouge

they look edible, lush, full like an excuse never to apologize

we are girls of violet, our pin in the concentration camps was

a pink V

last night I watched When Hitler Stole White Rabbit

at the Jewish Film Festival, chewed the inside of my mouth

in frustration at the abhorrence of others

when I was a child I did not have a pink rabbit

you left your hair brush and your rose water and your

tattered lace-edged simple night gown

I don’t think you ever wore one again, in the 1970s

nude was in vogue

women coming and going

from my father’s room

with dimpled bottoms and breasts like Claire Bretécher 

I learned my likings on photography books, under the section

‘erotica’ and other arts, believing archly

pornography an expression, when now, thinking back

they had such sorrowful eyes

like deer who stare into

the lights of an oncoming truck

is it bravery or hypnosis? Perhaps

it is fatalism, the French, myself

moving to countries who do not condone

indolence, expecting different results

when escape has no good set of keys

just jangles from your pocket like a taunt.

It’s not cute when you’re over thirty, to

long for the purple balloon in the supermarket

or lie, cat-like on the carpet and me-ow when your lover

is mad

it is not seemly, to be childish when you have

your first crows-feet, or need a push-up bra

unless you leave your glasses to the side

dive in, deep and thick

the molasses of not giving a fuck

where 80 year olds, excel and laugh

like they did at eight without front teeth

much the same, much the same.

The magic fairground, everyone remembers names,

I recall songs and colors of girls eyes

how they look sleeping, with their hands flung

like emotions above their heads, bent at the wrist

bangles on the floor, hidden beneath cascading sheets

elegance in angles, the way eyebrows furrow

in thought, how that line shapes over time into

a question mark, the parchment of skin, in

darkness, tracing braille, for the day none of us

will see, more than the outline of certainty.

You said: “Maybe you won’t love me when my

breasts sag, when I stop working out and the

lines of years begin to encroach. Don’t you like my

firm arms, they do not hang like bats, my mother’s did

I am mortally afraid of skin that hisses when you look

at it.”

Perhaps men had done this to you, torn down

your childhood gauze, made you feel the need to

apologize for things to come. I have read

Dreams Of Young Girls, I know how the photographer

can project a fantasy upon a real girl, even

when she is young, begin to pick her apart

as she unfurls like a Christmas amaryllis, not

caring the pickpockets of their distain

leave her in rags. Or maybe it was another

woman and her cruelty or her hatred? Tight

in an ill-fitting jar, straining to propagate.

“After all, you are so perfect,” you said,

smiling at my narrow hips (like a boy)

my unmarked skin (sun-screen)

the thickness of my hair (good shampoo)

how taut my calves look in leggings (optical illusion)

girls with girls tend to compare

it is not always favorable

though we find in our mixing bowl of humility

a little easement

the tasty wick of joy

burning low into auburn night

going over

those fears

with soft fingertips

and gentle reproaching …

Oh softening

Motioning

Nightfall

In whisper find blessed felicity

A body untouched, lain emptied of worth

brought to life, my Lazarus, spinning moon beneath our chins

rounding music fluting her velvet want to stay beautiful physically

for you to hold your breath as you touch, yes I understand

and still, beauty retains a deeper chord

dancing on raw feet to Erik Sate, trying to impress.

No, love, no, age is wine

spreading in the roof of your oval mouth

each place it has visited will transport you back, among the

grapes, tanned beneath reliable sun till just ripe, rolling in barrels

aged over centuries, buried with

secrets, the taste of fruit and toil, lustily on its wood

roots reaching deeply into history, for every year lived

another branch uncoils, the leaves, a brilliant green, bearing fruit

then flowers, finally sheltering, those beneath

such is a woman, such as you are

lying in my arms, the sweat of sleep, hot on your neck

cheeks pushed against my shoulder blades

causing you to look like you are pursing your lips

in effort to dream

finding ways always

to hold you closer,

closer

closer

closer.