MAKE ME

war paint

When I’m not telling people

I am the least competitive person you’ll meet

I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema

I am nevertheless, competing with myself

to survive

the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole

appears to be my greatest talent

should they look me up in the dictionary

I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero

it began before words were formed, a slow

incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies

of my relatives

a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty

denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach

was more than a night terror

swimming for medals was competitive after all but

didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded

like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget

noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city

swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found

among cast-off plasters.

Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened

by sandwich of pain in my gut or how

no-one for me sitting among keening spectators

when I came up for air.

Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it

perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house

with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.

When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl

I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy

kid shoes against linoleum hallways

what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated

we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the

shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?

We learn the company of other Reparates

is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot

make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling

soon I gave up trying for A’s

locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends

instead of this disinterested girl

briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater

but coming up for air was much harder.

I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined

surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds

battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world

I rarely visit

it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with

the shifting skin of me

something that happens when you begin to leach

that essence of youth and vigor

realizing, if you can make it out of bed today

you’re doing better than the day before.

I hear in my head, the scold of my mother

who believed I gave myself this illness

and much as they’ve told me that’s madness

I am often found returning to those words

as if they have some clammy power over me

which of course, they do.

I know I was well and then I was not

just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity

or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage

it’s a day when colors and sounds change

in this case, terror walked into my throat

sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.

Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those

paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores

put them in water and watch them bloom

only long enough before turning to ink and

wet tree pulp

it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than

those you expect

angry with yourself for not learning sooner

expectation leads to disappointment.

This could be why I didn’t

enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)

better to stay low and wait it out until

you can have your turn

only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left

then it’s almost too late and you have to change

everything.

Nowadays I compete with myself

can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?

Will it matter if I do?

What happens afterward?

Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird

I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart

Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’

perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but

something lovely, I can only hope

though my body likes to punch me in the gut

as I fall asleep and try to dream

thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice

this was something you did wrong

thump, thump, thump, my own voice

no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around

even getting half way there would be some kind

of accomplishment

which is why I always said it’s not about winning

but making the effort

to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.

Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between

throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying

maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see

I’m not from here, I don’t belong

though where I came from I hardly know anymore

so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw

with every passing year I realize

I can’t win, I but I will fight

MAKE ME I whisper to myself

bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.

 

In amber

You, unmaker of peace, wear your hat jauntily to the side

a dandy at appearances

i am incapable of wiping the smudge of regret

away in time, before

everyone sees my imbalance and points with

blunt, corrective finger—

there she is, she’s deranged with grief

surely torn mad

not yet. Maybe sometimes. In the damaged fur, just a bit…

this lingering thing called hurt

a purple tie around my neck and I hide my succulent scabs

behind silk blush, with the covet of a lover

and you? You are the abuser who with

toothpick, flicks detris from your life as

effortlessly as anyone without conscience knows

how to polish their shoes with another man’s shine

sometimes I want to cut your throat

with a very fine Japanese knife, I keep unused

in my emotional closet and other days I want

to use it on myself, such is the pendulate swing

and thumbless gait of grief, a sifting vignette of those in our photo albums

who smile, so convinced of a radiance. The other

day I thought of your determine, growing like wan poppy from souless sidewalk

thin feet, high hips, impossible secrets braided deep into tangled weft of your hair

eyes closed from me, turning in simmering amusement, some unheard world beyond blunder

like a tuning fork set high, your mavidad, a seekers entreaty, the

sea pearls of your hope sewn tight in seemingly empty pockets

if we drowned, you’d die rich and I’d float to gulp the waste of dreams

frothing there among the manifold immensity

it takes just one word, the swallow of truism and fakery, a broken pendant, emptied bequeathment, the ransack of joy

to master stoism and a stomach able to survive the pitch and vinegar of disappointment

in my head I hear your voice, its fine timber cresting Finnish land

and

I am the sot

gathered for wedding and funeral

spun into skin

held close and released

breathe me out

let me loose

where undertow has no purchase

to be weightless and the insubstantial

a feeling, a letter, washed clear of intent

just the impression remaining

something I left behind

in amber

I wish I had never existed

The deepest cut

an-apple-rotten-on-the-inside

It doesn’t take much to knock a bruised fruit to the floor

watch it split apart like rotted glass, shards of damp skin in slow motion

try as I might, I AM that bruised fruit

try as I might, I cannot seem to recover myself back to where

once took for granted, the feeling of wellness

it doesn’t help when someone you loved abandons you

in the middle of your darkest hour

things like that aren’t supposed to happen

people who swear allegiance and loyalty aren’t meant to

be the ones leaving your side

such is the hour and fickle fan of illnesses devour

at least I know I’d never treat someone, that poorly

despite this and because of it, healing is slower

though I suspect anything less than fire would be

I didn’t know these things beforehand

the un-annointed do not possess future perspective

to see how illness strips your childish faith, cleaves you

bare and gasping

where family didn’t need to see me, even as I spent weeks in hospitals

it cut me to the quick, but it wasn’t the first or the last

maybe preparing the groundwork for your deepest cut

they say you get used to it in time

I never have

just as I never have truly understood the cruelty within some, who profess so hard to love

now, I am a changed person

I cannot make plans like I used to, thwarted by my body, haunted by ghosts

my illness is like a cobra, she stays quietly in the leaves

rearing up when I least expect or when I want most to escape

her possession of me, the way she knows how to tickle fear

with just enough venom until I am on my knees

I am sure some would say, this is therefore; psychosomatic

that it what they tell all women of hysterical turn

I saw in your eyes when I told the horror; your own disbelief

until doctors produced the proof, you still wondered

it became apparent to me, just like with sexual assault

being believed is paramount to recovery

alongside having faith in ourselves

I did not do a good job of the latter

finding myself more alone than when I started

and I thought I started pretty alone

I know I am a survivor and I was not destroyed

yet it feels like I was

when I look inside myself and find

so little left, a house without windows

it was only because of you, I kept trying

I told you that, I said, you were holding me up

when you let go

I fell to a place I did not know existed

I wanted to ask; Couldn’t you have just waited

long enough to see me through the worst?

but you wait for nothing except your own need

I had to find a way to stand even as everything crumbled around me

which is the biggest test I ever had and I failed it

I failed it again and again

walking through the lullaby of desiring to die for so many reasons

not least, the never-ending dance with sickness and pain

but somehow I did not die, I turned instead to stone

when people say I am strong now and ask; How did you get through it?

I don’t tell them; I am not through it

I still lurch and shake in the throes of unnamed demons and at night

I feel like an arythmic god has taken me and is spinning me

on high-speed like all my parts are made of jello

I want to ask that god; what is it you are trying to shake loose?

surely you know by now there is no more fruit left

not even the rotten kind

that fell and split and sunk into earth, a long, long time ago

it is only me remaining now; leafless, without sturdy branches

I cannot rely upon myself, I cannot rely upon promises

no longer a young, untouched tree with green shoots

I am damaged, broken and hobbled, by this specter and the unknown

as much as by those I knew and trusted

asking why to the imploring void; why are we stricken down?

to what do I owe my continuing? Even as it is, insubstantial

can they see in my eyes, when I pretend, I am trying not to gag?

my appetite spirited away by the scourge and never returned

I would die of hunger and not know it

were it not for some strange determination

I don’t know where that comes from

but as I stand, it must be a place within me

does not give up, as she did not, all those years ago when

the flames licked the top of my house and burned, everything I knew to cinder

I am not like the rest of the world; stronger for my poison

nor am I able to disguise my scars

if I were asked what recommended me; I could not answer

I would probably open my mouth and howl

because you can reinvent yourself, a million times it seems

I am just one incarnation, coming apart at badly mended edges

you, who are able to vault life in gentle sprint, must mock

I am after all, just a fallen fruit, lasting as long as she can

in imperfect, bruised skin

Erasure

Wisteria

fb3902489d3e4867927e2e3a9fa2e998Older people used to tell me how time goes faster for every year

I think it is more that we let time go on, doing nothing to change our course

where before we would have done more to reach the point, we were seeking

what causes this I don’t know, maybe youth is intense, more packed into a year

maybe we stop believing we can change, or get lazy, or preoccupied or led by fear

I wasn’t very old when I learned fear can stop the neediest heart and leave her all alone

staring at walls in a black dress

eventually a day comes we see we have spent a long time watching for ships

as years passed by and we got into a rut of our own invention

it stuns me we can stay still for so long, neglecting our wants, our needs

as if they do not exist, pushing them down, hiding their force

just as we deny their existence, they surface and it’s like no time has passed

we are the same passionate creature we were before we forgot how

only older without much wisdom, just the feeling we didn’t do enough

for some of that may be vanity, our finite lives, the idea of a beginning and end

some of it may be true, who we thought we would be, or never considered

I envy those people who set a straight arrow and shoot and never seem to miss

not all of us are that precise or insightful or calculated

I drifted, partly because of distractions, partly out of inertia or sadness or a feeling of loss before I gained

acting like I had all the time in the world, that things would come still come my way

when everyone knows as you get older it gets harder

to generate that spark, that kindling, that damn irresistible flame

I’m also guilty of trying to assuage fear and you cannot live for such things

you must be bold or if not, pretend you are, for nothing, nothing was ever found by a coward

I have been afraid a long time, I have not trusted myself or my ability to survive without safety nets and hesitation

there was this picture in my mind of me

old and alone in poverty and I ran from that as if it were the cross

so much so I didn’t consider if my choices were really mine

or I was just responding to anxiety about something that may never come to pass

and you

the attention I gave you

all these years

were not spent wisely

for when it ended, I got nothing in return

nothing at all to show

it was in that way, a real error on my part

nobody likes to pour themselves inside out for someone

only to find it all goes up in smoke

I can’t say you were my undoing because

we have choices, but I definitely wasted myself on you

who could cut me out of your world like I was a paper doll

all the emotion I had, that was wasted too

there is nothing worse than feeling you gave everything and still it wasn’t enough

so forgive me if I feel bitter about that.

When we stand still, we calcify but don’t always turn hard

I still remember the feeling of dancing and wanting and longing

I remember thinking maybe life doesn’t have to be so beige

and un-passionate, that it can be wisteria

maybe life can be the way I feel now at this exact moment

imagining what it would feel like kissing you until our lips grew sore

despite so many people in this world it is not easy

to stare across a room and find

your familiar, the one who moves your blood

but I thought I found it in you, from the very first

Probably I was mistaken, it seems like risks are only suited to certain players

but tell me, if I was wrong, then why do I hold such indelible feelings?

why do I not walk away when it seems, the logical thing to do

when I close my eyes I see your face

I long to hold your hand and feel the light pulse in your small wrist

except if things were meant to be

they’d fit and you’d feel the same way, not be unmoved by chemistry

perhaps it is the story of my life

to find it so hard to fall and when I do, land on my face

perhaps I am not meant to be in someone’s arms

held, worshiped and adored, as you once said

was that a brush-off or just the truth?

who knows anymore it almost doesn’t matter

because I have tasted disregard many times in my life

to the point of knowing all the flavors it comes in

and if you don’t share my feelings

if I don’t make you want to jump up and run to me

if you don’t stay awake at night, your heart thundering

then I am not going to try to woo you

and I don’t want to be the girl, who has to try twice as hard

not when it comes to emotions, they either exist or they don’t

it just seems an irony, I pluck up courage and make a fool of myself

I was once told I should go find someone who’d be crazy about me

if that were possible maybe I would

but you’d be surprised what exists

and what does not

in this funny world of

lonely hearts

Guts & Garters

The violin

Then piano

Galvans to

Those unsaid surfaces

And they said to her

You’re a woman of sulphured words surely

Everything you think and feel is written

She smiled inwardly

Wanting to reply with busted teeth and a ripped out shirt, screaming

Hell, you assholes know everything, don’t you hot shot?

Some of us who write

Have more inside than any forest

Could become burning paper

Like an iceburg you think you see our entirity

We are mere dancers on the tip

Of a very deep sink of ice and water

Where undertow and mania pull the marionette

In gizes of wellness, denial, sorrow and unquenchable thirst

Which do you want first? The knife or the open legs?

Don’t dare presume you know how heavy I bleed

Share a slapped drag of my pain

I’ll writhe for you across landscapes of shame

Hit me with something harder dear

You ain’t even close to exposing me

The core of this unchained symphony

Here, let me show you baby

Look in-between, past the guts and garters

What I had to do, to get even equal

When scars are words and stars

But wounds?

No they don’t get put in a book and closed

You can’t see me in that private torment

4am pulling on the leathers of my sleeplessness

Do you know why I never learned to rest?

Remember the feeling of violence caressing your bruises?

Kiss them for me darling then pour the gasoline

When your own hand fondles the blaze it’s too much insanity

Fucking by the scold like the last feeling on earth

No you don’t know what words reveal

Until you see them scratched deep into skin

There you go again, thinking what I write lifts the veil

It was shredded long ago and hung on a Deadwood

The pinpricks of my ache fertilized nothing

Dust to dust, sometimes there’s no fucking translation