Of Being


In the lowing keep

When shelter becomes more than solidity

Something bright in darkness

Warmth when cold

In the clasp of your arms

Timbered voice, felling fear

All around us animals stir, unseen 

The switch of their fur, and meadow smell

As if time had laced herself backwards

We drift beneath spells

Your mercy is a red fruit at my throat

Throbbing against the thin trickle of hope

My eyes are dim in this evening

Where shadows appear to turn light footed 

Swaying in our attachment to the finite

When all around, creatures cease without word

And new are born to cover the empiness before she knew herself lost

We have no prescribed place, or capture

It is as if nothing has roots and like the tumbleweed

Rolling beneath the smoky clouds with hushed song

Lets go of all that can harm, the vast solemnity 

Of being

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Something we used to be

When snowflakes melt

They melt from the outside, in

When people dissolve

They dissolve from the inside, out

You may not even know

That person standing next to you on the bus

Has nothing inside but icing

We are, after all, consummate sleepwalkers

And act, as if we wrap up everything, it will thaw

Even as the emptying of layers reveals it was 

Only shadow muffled

Something we used to be 

Before it became too hard

And the deception

Feels like a fickle lover, you can’t quit

A lung full of poisoning

A bed without dreamers

Only then the clock reveals

All its missing time

You spent putting bows on hollow boxes, with empty routines and unpolished shoes

When you could have been

Watching snow fall

Like a blanketed mirror of another world

Where you didn’t cut your finger on fears edge

And slip unconscious into hedging your bets

Where you found your long lost mittens and hat

Red against virgin snow, sledding almost vertical

We choose our closed doors with care

Would that we gave such attention to those standing slightly open

Offering a way to cut through resisting ice

Restoring wonderment 

Crescendo

Is it an astigmatism or

The blur of a questioning heart

When things are disordered, the very edge 

Clutching bitten sides as hollow city dwellers

Imagine faces looking downward into fast moving water, seeing drowned doves

A predilection for extremes

Where daughters cut their ropy hair

And open like heart chakras beneath festive lighting in department stores

Accents donating starry landscape above

Informing choices as snowbound relatives learning to talk over cold soup

Girls in A-line skirts, boys hiding erections behind glossy schoolbooks

And the heat of asfalt, curling like collars made of beaver

High gloves, no verbs, learning how to dye mouths like hair

Standing on unstable chairs, wobbling with frail grace

Where is moral nerve? Where negotiation? 

Responsibility for one’s life, defines self respect into a set of bronze rings hung from pinched hips

Whatsoever the plan, pinned to walls to hide the cracks

Tension strung like artificial silk, Protection sitting among lotus words

Flattering our need only leaves a sick emptiness

As when your mother left and the heavy latch 

Never fell back

Locking you in

Toys and books and closed looks

Guests who leave their fingers uncurled, will be claimed

As shadows whisk the corners of sobriety, in sating stain

When all is said and done, back to earth we come

Folding our weary necks against soft shove

If you take anything, take the memory of

That first summer before the shimmer rubbed off 

And everyone was golden beneath August, like hot dancers 

Turning their pliant necks to the orchestra’s

Swelling crescendo

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

 

Being twenty

15541394_10202354632784646_1452891421884110148_nThinking back

being twenty wasn’t as shiny

as bronze coin swallowed by carp

when

I went to eat Chinese and made a wish

to be young again

 

at twenty

I thought my breasts already hung forlorn

much like the oak grandfather clock

my father lifted from a former nunnery

when the nuns were gone and buried with the rhododendrons

the building disarticulated stood empty

beseeching intruders

awaiting renovation into flats for rich city dwellers

whose coins were gold

my father said

it seems a shame to let these apple and plum trees

be torn up and shredded they are mature and have

earned a right

so by night we dug up their rosewood roots

hefting in my grandfather’s wheel barrow down cobbled street

planted them in the little weedy garden out back

where they endured without their crowns

 

much as I endured being twenty

thinking myself imperfect

because of the pressure

burning like a hot wire in my

fizzing young head

like tight roller skates leave indents

my father said the trees never

bore fruit after moving

because once you’re planted

you grow roots only once

 

maybe that’s like being young

you are a tumbleweed and whilst some

take to being a spirit composed of air

there is something reassuring

like a warm fire or

a steaming bath

when you know it doesn’t really matter

all the fanciful dreams you had intended to wear

the way you sucked your stomach in

when he touched you underneath your dress

that tugged uncomfortably at tight seams

because you wanted to be

as gamine as

Audrey Hepburn

Reflecting our make

6610155a671a863124b18faa259d9037Born inheriting jaundice

from an incubator world

nobody wanted to hold

the baby with malform

forehead elongated, she held on

wishing not to be born

till calipers force the point

leaving behind viking indent

brand scaring watery soul

who dreamed still of utero

without air banishment

moonshine, her first sup

on the mustard kick of luckless child

unwanted by chain-smoking teens

seeking succor in bricked up people

climbing invisible ladders to some faraway mount

not of tablet and command

more a belief if we earn enough

we can pay away our sin

she was a ward of one

listening to water rise in radiators, surge and grow cold

before her first birthday she learned

life is a scolding pecking bird

retreat inward like sleeping charm

wait out first 18 winters

till freed of snow you take flight

cutting yourself out of smite

the unwanted will inherit their cast

dyed in river beds to wash never indigo

the hue of their regret

O to be counted

surely one more drag, one more wrought night

lying back on pillows watching stars trip beyond

their pinpointed direction never clarified

do they seek their diminishment or

have they already died?

showing their skirt tails like faint ghosts

for weary-eyed consumer of bottled night

blinking as neon sign beneath liquor store

stays on throughout retching dark

luring empty hearts toward comforting glow

we drink because we need to feel full

starve ourselves to let bidden pain flow

cut out the parts that remind us how

we came in and left without touching earth

those children of no consequence

developing thick soles and empty shadows

no wonder then we stay fissure thin

in diminished light of birth

reflecting our make

as weary moon, closes her eyes

flits behind rolling cloud

blocking out acknowledgement

like a candle can be snuffed

between a pinch and rub

you are no more than you were

the crust of you, harder to break

underneath there is a word

waiting in turn to ask

why?

must we inherit for our legacy

indifferent design?