Gilt


The icons

Their gilted, leafed, gold

Vibrant vermillion

Watch with watery eyes

Dried on stone

As old as memory

They shift

Imperceptably

Less than the fierce jackknifing

Of human need

As hot as birth

Waiting for rain

The saints

Painted with care

Remain vivid

As those who bleed

Live too fast and bruise

As dragonflies tussle

Enmeshed in each other’s flicker 

For a shortness that seems

Long

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Nightshade

Oh mama

There are days

I am bent double

The stuffing of me kicked quite free

One side is fear that feels like unyielding felt, thick in my dry, slack mouth

Making me the puppet I never was, when good and whole

So is sickness for the soul

A sour well with brackish water and no yield

I long to be your child and retrace in time to your arms

Fantasies that never were, become, our lullaby

A palpable longing for comfort

Nourishment

To be saved against invisible foe

No

I did not invite you, fever dream

No

I did not beckon you visit me and stay, pinning my anxiety as colinder

Cast as we are, sluggish on fortunes wheel

Like chance, we ebb and flow

Moths without hardy wings

I desired wellness 

and while the summer river ran 

I believed it would never turn

Against me in undertow

Disease is a glutted wretch

A terrible betrayal

A war

You stand in rags fighting until your last

We all do 

But when the bees come and honey is glitter in the trees 

We forget our fear of unseen things

Believe ourselves immortal or at least

The sleek otter who can hold his breath

Longer than sense and her confine

For such a time I rested

Against this calm

Taking for granted what I did not own

And as winter will

Reveal herself bare and merciless

Soon those hours of peace lay behind me

Damp with regret and burned yet

To leave plumes of green smoke

Evoking Gods 

Who may be senseless to our call

For the comfort of our childhood

Curled inside a place

As yet unborn

Do not

Let me stay in this cold fear

Or stand alone 

With its frozen clasp about my heart

Squeezing hope til nothing pumps

But the ice of terror 

I am 

Just born

To this strange chill

The waking before dawn of prescient worry

Will I be well? Will I ever be without pain?

Oh mercy and her ink, clouding fortelling

The whine of our need to know, what Fates only jest

My gut is silent and 

Nothing but the fast snare of my pulse

Can be heard over lamment

I am

A statue of fear

Thinking back

To the Happy Prince

He felt pain

Of others

Taking the jewels that were his eyes

Sacrifice I do not have

A lesson

To think and care as we suffer

Of others and their

Equal walk 

In nightshade

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

baby?

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

bearly

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

 

Wrung

I didn’t trust myself to hold on

when water breached and ice tore, sun burned, voices howled

when corridor echoed with the corrosion of a moment

elegantly stretched like garter made of guts, long and silent in worship

yet, there was no stone God to touch, lay our cheeks upon, in salvage, sweeten terror underfoot

nothing left to run together, keep us from the tear in our fabric, rescuing us afloat, over glacier, over sky, over each other and that blemish of life we call, survival

a call of the wild, a girl returning her party dress unworn, with dormant masks of fierce, loose in their bouquet

she’s tired now, of standing in doorways, blending in

she’s been leaning against herself so long, doves catch wind and pursing straight as falling sky mark the way

as a child may confidently point, before he is taught of error, a certitude of birth we lose, in continued correction

but what of the spirit? Wishing never to bend, as hazel makes a good switch and all sting redeems

what of the spring mad hare? Made jubilant despite his age, as pollen of the glory dusts his dance, does he unlearn?

those reprimanded, unwinding in backward spool, the yarn of time, loosens our punching collar and sore confine

pugilistic, we devolve to fetus and climb inside our charm. Wrung with the arms of tomorrow, the depth of spirit knows no ceasement

Once, twice, again, you cannot keep movement still, it begs for the last dance

choose then, remove your wild jig and join the machinists at their task to embroider the world, not with honesty but the pasty aftermath of souls behind glass, mouthing their marching song

or inherit the wind and best the exiled dream, misplacing sense in unchecked delight

There is no limit to what we are. Such is distance and teeming for years shaken, behind a well set trifle, awaiting the party-goer, cold on her white shelf

But touch once, and she’ll melt, with the longing of her frosting

Breathing

It’s just a story we tell ourselves

We will be well

And even Gods forged of longing, cannot always save our plea for preservation

And please, some peace

For the weary, are not the old

They are the ones who know the sear of unwanted pain

An ache rising like wave again, merciless in return

The loss of dreams comes softly as snow

We dream ourselves complete

Waking unable to breathe

This sheltering land sometimes permits tornadoes

When all around shakes, we are battered and bruised

And because we still stand, others never witness, the deep sink of our soul

Or indeed, that dark place we go

When night only burdens with unseen fear

A temperature, a loss of balance, this unknowing doctors touch, with gloved hand

As we find ourselves, subject to midnight

We, who have never been this person

Arising, as if we could separate and escape, inevitable places

Was it really me? Who gasped for breath and cried out to spirits never tested?

As has always been for each life line

Thinking invulnerable, tugged back to truth

All of us wear a harness, all of us hold an allotment

It is the wicked mirth of terror when first we gaze into our future and see the end

No amount of protest will stave

But maybe, maybe with light and courage

With nothing more than salved persistence

We can hold back that day and spend one more

Breathing

The growing chronicles #3 Hypochondria


It’s still a man’s world

a world where most of the earth

would stone two women in love

and those women who break the glass ceiling are often

unrecognizable as women

for they eat

with their bean soup

the dry wafer of other females
If I tell you

I am not prideful

it is the quiet and the book

an occasion of solitude

interspersed with longing

I’ll never be a loud mouthed girl to hang your spurs upon

but still I know how to talk to the moon

and I believe in you
At night

poorly lit by lamps

like yellow faces downcast

we walk vigorously

hand folded in hand

and that simple act

I cherish

above any gift or benediction
When we are apart

monsters live under my bed

shadows rinse in continuing pass

the joy of breaking bread

shatters

as bloodied

the unseen art of war

within gentle hearts

causes my pulse to spike

and in time succumb

to hypochondria

 

For it is you

who taught me first

this is how you wade in shallow water

not listening to the buzz of insects

searching for a way in

and this is how you swim in deep water

not minding the curdled heat reflecting in

masks off the surface of thought

you can if you really want

stand solid against the onslaught of fear

crawling beneath your skin as the sun

grinds us down into withered and parched semblance

you can if you really want

defy time and tendency and take a deep breath

learning to stretch far in the distance

without air

 

When I wake

and the thunder of your absence

breaks my resolve

when the smell of you is fading

in the comb of your absence

I hear your voice skimming water

like touchstones seeking entry

one by one you build your fortress

installing me against the ravage

that pit I carried every year

before you walked into my life and said

fear cannot win as long as you believe in love

The barrier of herself

The bird

who is not a bird

but has mosaic feathers

dipped in tar

this bird

who is neither oil nor waterproof

sinks

and then

licked by white fire

lent by God or fishermen

some happen-chance salvation of sorts

this bird

rises as phoenican ships will be

swallowed momentarily by

cresting waves the size of

mountains

bursts with light only matched

by a lifting of spirit into cloud

casting her netted permanance

against rush and churn

of life fighting with itself

this bird

who now possesses compass and ink

soars in oxygen and silence

this bird

who spent years

fearing how

instinctively breaks through

the barrier of herself