There is just love

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Among the strange hinterlands of neither young nor old

lies many adrift woman

mistaken for 28 by gum-chewing taxi driver

feeling ancient climbing steps, taking two at once

age is a permutation moving through blood and time

without oxygen it holds no discernible value

she could be your lover with her handfuls of thick hair held up by gravity of want

she could be your mother, stooping to ensure your coat is buttoned

her soft hands can be conductor, nurturer, passionate or flat for querying

why she must be contained at all in any type of jar or bottle

sent out to sea in glass of blue and green she sees all there is

and upon her return announces

she will thus forth be no age, no ones claim

but her own, velvet centered self

delirious of less nouns to describe her

she is neither straight, octagonal nor completely curved

she is a finely tuned instrument, played softly she can produce music

why should she apologize to women who cut their hair off in sharp buzz cuts

for keeping hers long enough to climb or why she wears dresses and heals

it is her weft, no more no less

and she doesn’t judge you for your penchant for masculine women or you for

your need of feminine men

why then tell her she is breaking the code by being who she’s always been

a woman who loves women

in all their unraveling glory

surely it is that loose dance around the maypole

when they were girls, rushing to catch the others crown

daisies so fragile in hot sweating palms

she saw the design then, of them all, like a quilt of differing

shapes ready to take to air

hers sought a reflection of herself in the depths

of what it is to be woman

that small crease as she laughs and your heart

vibrates with something like a bell

the nape of her neck nude against sunlight

how her shoulders form their musculature while remaining

soft

if she could put such things into words rather than

cries and whispers she might say

a woman was both male and female

holding the world up and bringing forth

life while fighting those who would call her

inferior and simply a loaned rib

oh quickly, quick let us mingle with your

preferred bone and become one

in the forming of calcium and other

periodic tables you see she and I

are of the earth and our very carbon

is born from within and without

beyond labels and understanding

there is just love

there is just love

 

For Halo

My debt rests in your fur

as they light it

and it burns

and your form shrinks

from this world

your black and white paw limp against my clutching

fingers wishing you here

those images are cookie cut into my mind

called intrusive thoughts and flash-backs

I know them well

they are not my friend as you were my friend

I imagine what you feel and then recall

you no longer feel anything

though that does not seem right

without religion I am left unknowing

where you land next or if you will

awaken in paradise or remain slumbering

whether sleep or a void, if we can truly leave

and have nothing of ourselves remain

but ash and debris

it seems impossible that you were once

jumping onto the table and making me laugh

with your antics

only to be nowhere and gone eternal

I may not possess sufficient faith

to build castles in the sky but

your energy stays like stillness in

this empty house and from the corner of my eye

I still see your shadow slink just as

my grandmother’s voice is pitch perfect in my head

is that imagination or wishful?

Or do ghosts haunt us willing supplicants?

A bouquet of delusion to soothe our empty

arms or

will you live forever within me? And when I take

my turn at the Ferris wheel

our nothingness will reside near one another

I like the idea, all I have loved will

mingle as returned starlight in the ether

and touch one another with reminder

for being alone or worm food is

a cold dinner companion I wish not

to believe in

even if God turns his head from me and always has

for his man-made lack of female

and my rib is long and sticks into my gut

reminding me I am ever every man’s equal

and will never lay down to those dull prescriptions

of what constitutes truth from a man’s tongue.

Your fur was thicker than all the cats here

who grew up hot and listless on porches

you came with me in a pink plastic box

obscene in its garishness we laughed

putting it through customs

the harried lady at flight desk remarked

well there he goes as you were taken

hand delivered, to the pit of the plane

and I worried because I wanted you to be

on my knee but no madam, I’m afraid for long haul

he has to ride in cargo and don’t worry

few of them get upset, as if she were crouched among you knowing this

this seemed false as so many things do

when big decisions linger like absent friends

at the periphery of moments

too quick, too big, for staying still

briefly I wondered; Should I really be moving?

to this strange country I do not yet know and

burning this bridge indefinitely

it felt as wrong as right ever was and I stood

in the airport watching the thin man take you

behind a curtain and then as you were on your way

so was I.

You see …

I took my cue from you

quite often

and of the two of us when we landed

I think you looked less bedraggled

whilst I fought with immigration because one of my papers

was not ‘just so’ and they called and fussed because

immigrants are not very welcome in any country

and annoy those whose jobs it is to ensure

smooth sailing

and when we reunited

on different soil with the sound of cicadas or crickets

I was not sure in those days

you were hot against my grandmothers blanket

and had peed because they don’t let animals

out to the bathroom at 30,000 feet

which was exactly how I felt, hot and wet and stinking

at the same time, in this odd place where

people were outgoing and spurned shyness or other

attributes we both possessed

with aplom

following our dreams or maybe just mine

as your dreams were about mice or pigeons and later

lizards and snakes

as you learned the ways of the desert

and perhaps the tenor of your meow changed

to reflect the inflection of your adopted country.

It may seem easier but it is not easy for any of us

who come by boat, plane or smuggle, to

lands not our own, we each bring with us

that belly full of ache

and you were always able to

soothe mine with your purr and ever

reminder of our start beneath colder skies and

smaller streets with littler houses and narrow

rooms where we knew our place and here

we could only speculate or clumsily test

our sea legs against

the strangeness of being

with mistake and estrangement

our sole friends quite a while.

Unable even to drive I walked you down the road

for your first vet check and people gaped

from their large cars at the floundering Europeans

walking where no-one walks and everyone uses

big trucks to go one mile and purchase a giant

sippy cup and some Ding Dongs, things with

names that sound fun and 40 additives

my kind of humor and banter lost against

surge of habit, the vet seemed surprised I

had carried you rather than driven and tut-tutted

at your lack of dental hygiene

but remarked how beautiful your thick fur was

and how cats in these parts tend to have

snake skin, we all laughed at that, even you

cast a fish eye his direction like you

possessed the real secrets.

I remember those exploits and driving to Canada on another

exodus when stateless we began again

another groove in our fitful recording

the deep snow and your paw prints leading

me nearer and further

like ice fish we swam in our odd circumstance

always together, staring out stranger windows like

spectators at our own fair ground

in cold you slept beside me and purred

in your sleep to the sound of icicles

warming and falling into snow the

sky a heavy weight holding its breath

eventually we returned to the place of infernal heat

and sizzling side walks where no one but us

and straggly weeds dared to step and the years wound like

lost yarn beneath our odd foray

until you were old and fragile

and I barely noticing because I did not want to

believe you could quit being the little cat

in the pink plastic box glad to see me at the

first airport in our new world.

It was naive or immature of me to forget

cats lives do not echo ours and mine seemed

suddenly far too long and yours bitterly short

a terrible echo of inequality I did not

have the strength to imagine losing you

when together we always were.

Even people who wrote said; ‘Dear Candy, Dear Halo’

as if they could see the join of your fur and my

burning skin against the other

I told myself I would be there when they

sent you to that place I could not follow

despite knowing in my mind the terrible pictures

would roam long and unbidden for many years

to look into your eyes and remind you how much you mean

to me and always how I will look for you

until we are reunited and then I expect

all this will be mere bad dreams and

again we can go forward, or side ways or

whatever direction the after world takes us

but please together, is all I want

for with you gone, I wait without watch

an absence greater than anguish

for you were my best friend in this lonely world

assuaging the hard edges and frayed corners

we came here together and still I am

more lost without you than when I arrived

for your bright eyes and happy tail

gave me courage Halo and ever shall I

look for you coming into the kitchen in

the morning with your half howl of greeting

starting my day and ending it with

putting you to your bed

never once thinking there could be a time

when you were not and I still went on.

Aristotle said it best; a relationship is

two bodies one soul

that is real love

and we are floundering when absent from one another

like the ice fish when it warms up

and water is all but gone.

Will

Does the wood pigeon know?

when he calls his coo into the night

the cats who stalk will slink toward

the smell of blood and feathers

as I have gathered myself into quills

and spices sealed in alabaster jar

the sum of me is traveled

through moon and sun

like a cut orange leaves her

stain on wood, sticky and bitter

as your imprint has become

my mandala and the furtherance of us

defies life and death

shaking itself off like a dog released from bath

will hurtle, maddened, toward nearest escape

I grew my vines in your wood

my embers are your fire

this melange of you and I

twined like grapes gathering sunlight

before first frost

and the women take in the clothes, hanging on frozen line

even as they capture the day’s warmth

you stretch in this paper thin life time

sew the jagged edges of my need

with your ivory needle

as if we were part of the same

garment

held up

by

sheer

force of

will

Moonshine

(inspired by finding an old photograph of a fancy-dress party I attended at University that I hadn’t seen in years)

One of them is me

but which holds the key? Later perhaps we

shall know our fruiting journey through

maze of youth

and slow pull of stocking

for kind of touch best found

in satiny afternoon glow

outside I hear my dim-eyed neighbor

mowing lawns until he aches silver

because his wife has turned away

nobody touches him anymore with

the dreams of yesteryear

so we sprint toward each

invisible finish line

with emptiness in our hearts

filled with busy distraction

nothing lasting, nothing to

endure or sate cold claim

of climbing into bed

unwanted or alone

the feel of darkness, our shroud

from terrible disappointment

and then

then I had it all and didn’t know

standing on the precipice

we laughed at our indomitable

facility to thrive

not yet diseased

not yet rawboned with stretch marks

nipping their silver lines like unwanted lace

or sagging pieces shaking to no

good beat

not yet diminished on shallow waxen wheel

of male adoration

though for me this was never

a piece I wished to carve for myself

it was the love of a woman I craved

like first drink from fountain

on a hot day with no clouds in sight

languorously we exult

in

crocheted certainty, time will stand still

make for ourselves exceptions and grand entrance

the labor of hope so easy and lubricated

then

we’ll never be shaken off

like a dull wet thing

nor left to gather dust

as something once favored

we are surely, gleaming warm heads

of our own personal state

if I could have heard the warning

should I have been able

to listen?

likely not for

day is long and hour far

we take lovers for bread and jam

hate yet a curiosity

our parents live robust

we can yet still, the freedom to

go home

there are structures protecting

the hollow timber of our hearts

from these days what we can we learn?

as growing up and away

truth becomes stretched and gray

friends falling away

the bounty of never-never coming to claim

her inevitable duality

delight in youth, for contrast is cruel

all should have its value

but we are flippant with our boon

and when the cold night comes

we usher ourselves to greater darkness

in the strangeness of change

not able to see what is portent

nor later

the freedom

released from expectation

to unfold our wings

take flight

no more a shining thing

but something effervescent

and filled with

light

casting its thrall

as long ago, diving for pearls

we claimed the moon

On display

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I have my father’s feet

they are ugly I think

manly, wildebeest, sinew and bone

elongated toe as if saying

I am to be placed

deformed and bunion-esque

in shoes that will never fit

much like life, much like life

my father was considered a handsome man

many years women worked themselves into a hot

lather over his ways

perhaps it was a study in contrast

most men his age had already

mortal guts overhanging and could not

string a good sentence together

my father was verbose just as he was

shy and his hair was thick and hung

just so across his scarred brow

it seemed to galvanize the heterosexual piper call

women wanted or maybe they simply

didn’t want to have nothing and he

was nimble with his word play

indeed they forgave him for being

a redhead and if you think that is cruel

you’ve never known one or been one

they are the vilified among our kind

for their pallor and their color

an exotic relegated to rotten

less so in America

there is perhaps still

progression

yet my father, despite his flaming stamp

seemed to cut through the chaff

always though directed toward brunette, for a

blonde would be scared of the redhead

gene

and it is true they have begun to turn away

russet colored men from sperm banks

so my father had a chip on his shoulder

for being red when his father was

dark and swarthy

how then the man who is neither?

I inherited the pallor but not the color

nor the freckles I have some

of my mother in me though

she would say not

now I see it more and more

as she is less and less

snipping me out like

a bad paper doll who has

transgressed

I miss her even in preparation

for our dissolution

we are quite similar

and just as different

but when I see her eyes in

the mirror I ask

wasn’t I worth trying for?

It is futile to query

the reasons for disinterest

when studying psychology I learned

as only children never understand

the myriad ways we misinterpret

ten people in a room who all see

a different thing

perception then, is a liar and a clown

we should stick to loyalty

but that has fallen out of vogue

I thought being pale I would

age better than my contemporaries

who tanned themselves into oblivion

how I envied their brown

it’s enough to drive you crazy

wanting what you are never

but I am ageing faster

maybe it’s the mercury in my blood

or the grief I don’t seem to be able

to set aside

perhaps I have forgotten what it is like

to be cherished or how to dream

I do not know

but I dyed my hair when the grey came

taunting with its white brush as if to say

here you go, have a sprinkling

you’ve earned it

now my body begins the fiendish process

of cutting off

its estrogen and skin

starts to dull and lose its shine

almost enough to wish for

the discontented pale girl once

lucky I have no lover to

impress

for there is nothing

to brag in my loss of elastic

and sad dumpy thighs

they say you

do not need to have children

to sag

and I can attest

to no live birth

and much gravity

what was once popular in youth

the cleavage

the early fruit

becomes an enemy to

the middle-aged

am I that already? I seem

still to feel like the dancer on stage

earning her moves

taking love between her chest bone

squeezing it of juice

I visited my old studio when I went ‘home’

saw young girls with

long necks and flat chests

I wanted to be them

and also I did not

for it would be tiring to

start over again

with all the expectations and all the demands

there is something

still and good about

less

but I may have taken it to an extreme

with the quiet of my life

the emptiness of my eyes

if you see me

forgetful and slow

and then to dance

in a fleeting moment

you will understand

it is not easy to accept change

when you have not yet had your time

but forgive me my ugly feet

and look into my eyes

that is where I can still be found

searching for you

among the debris

and the loose ribbons

we kept so perfect

pinned tightly

on display

 

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

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