Back to life

What is this place that one returns to?

for some, possible, easy even

to put aside a person, shelve them with other memories

like a box of postcards growing yellow

whilst I was always the girl who climbing on top of boxes

found the postcards and brought them down

splayed like restless tarot on my lap

try to fathom, walk back into time

absent people, love letters sent to

girlfriends now married, unrecognizable

childish handwriting, burst of emotion scored in yesterday’s colors

I have always liked stories and wanted

to read the secret histories of those

who would not share them with me

so your letters I had to put

in a green river one by one

for fear if they were not wet and destroyed

I’d read over and over til you came back to life

finding myself

running lonely highway to your home

knocking on your still familiar door expecting to see

your living breathing face, cheeks infused with color

smiling in that way only you did

when I stood before you.

When someone has died

they steal air from the room

leaving behind closed windows

rattling against wind and chill

you have to go in with heavy shoes

make noise, shake cold from your bones

open them wide until pure sunlight

blinds primal darkness

I recall

how your hair looked when

sun stroked it in streams of light

how unbroken perfection of your skin

resembled fruit, summer time and children

lolling about in gardens upsidedown, tongue out

though you were older, I always felt

protective in that way I imagine a parent may

reaching for their child, smelling joy and motion

of their life laid out ahead in patient sillouette

I have always been remote and stood away

from frilled crowd with hidden daggers

content to observe and only participate

in flung arms of dancing and those raw easy things

not requiring sustained inspection

it takes a lot for me to wish

to share myself with another

to open up those parts of me, I struggle to reconcile.

unceasing criticism can close off even the thirsty traveler desperate

to sit by warming fire and stoke shadows to divination.

With you, we were two unsupervised kids

sitting on the dusty floor of my attic

opening boxes of memories with fearless hands

we talked without fear, then as

day began to show her pink slip in sky

I’d take your slim arm and lead you

into my bed where

light enveloped our heads like halos and we tasted the rapture of undisturbed acceptance

see in the eyes of one born of me

part of you

our mingled DNA taking lilac wing

in the electricity of love making

I could smell you on me afterward

and loathe to bathe

stayed writing by the window

watching you cycle away

the strong muscles in your skinny legs peddling like

knock-kneed urchin

turning the corner

always leaving

the circumfrance of you behind

radiating on the road

like a mirage

and in my hair and on my body

a ghost or whisper of

someone absent and close

if I could have kept you safe

or stopped time

but the heart is a closing flower

once damaged she ushers her dancers

fold into velvet, trap the dream

we were strangers, then siblings

of sorrow and laughter

like night and day play

on the fringe of their fading

your dusky skin against my pale

never enough time

to say what I wanted to say

in language untranslatable

to mortal minds

we existed as pollen

carried on high wind will

strike new life into that which sleeps

drousy and given over to liquid day

and I have never returned to that place

without a throat full of pain

wanting to call your name

hear your return

the indent of your existence

anything but

silence

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And how

Hear how the fox festoons dusk

With larkish bark the color of a young girls best pitch

And how

Bathed in sweat I consider mortalities strange lyre

The photos of parts of me transposed and caught in time

Nothing is real and all is magnified by the mind

As she weaves her dream about our smoky heads

Tiptoeing over slate roof tops like ballerina forced to cat burgle

In this sliver of reality I choose

To disguard any mantle of victimhood

In imperfect slices of myself I have survived

Nothing will tear me down, save the last licorice root before tree fall

I have played acquiescences tuneless keys long enough

This is what growing up feels like at any age

The acceptance, not all is well or right yet

If I look, I know my worth

I’ll not give it away to appease those who seek

Through their own brokenness, to strip me of waterproofing

Time is too drunk on her singularity

She is in the bare knotted tree branches

Bowing together in subjugate to winter’s breath

Fat cheeked children licking plum juice from woolen fingers

And though separate, we are in conversation from

The very moment of our meeting

I am talking to you and listening close

As river water hides stoop of cold

Dashing its relentless self across us all

Bound and sheltering

From chill? From ourselves? The secrets behind our eyes or

Those said things unwrapped and steaming on kitchen table

The fire changing light to ghosts

I hear three generations

The reflection of another casting

My own breakage

Gathered with bright leaves in sacks of deposed

Being told fear is a disease we let enter

Turn it out, rent out those rooms you no longer inhabit

Turning as I have, to you

The shining of your throat covered in words

I’ll not let loose

Waiting for you

At hungry waters edge

In any country in the world

In any language

You run ahead

Turning back

The half moon of your face

Drawing light

An infusion

Aching

And the unseen fox

I imagine her as you

Bold wordless vibrance

Full tail, muscular legs

The twitch of beauty

Stark against tarmac

Owning darkness

The internal dream

Your soft hair

grace

beneath the moon

I imagine us

light limbed

piano hearted

slipping from key to key

hands on my face

tracing soft accompaniment

I lead you onto oak floor

dancing beneath wax

and French 75 on your breath

moving to a hum

the internal dream

your arms curled around my waist

close your eyes

see ancestors walk

silver hammered

your mouth crushing mine

the oval and the heart

echoing across sound

no barrier

the unraveling trip of clothes

pressing against skin

somewhere ivory music slows

candles burn out

we can smell in the dark

hear the sound

of our mutual breath

as you gather me

as I lean and become

desired

Want & Ritual

Helmut-SPREAD-6FI grew up fetishizing

the nubile antonyms of beauty

Helmut Newton’s exploitation

penis behind camera stroking

sloe-eyed girls with tired mouths

smoking yellow papered Gauloises

nipples grazing peach crinoline

men’s eyes like dry stones, seeking squeezing

I grew up thinking

contortion and bondage was

an art form not

excuse for masochism

as unsupervised child, I’d look through

graphic design manuals

that inexplicably had vulvas and

perky breasts

to illustrate Pantone

it was after all

the seventies

what did I know? Except

women on beaches without tops

giving me francs for not spilling their dirty martini’s

Mon sucre d’orge, sois gentil, va me chercher mes cigarettes

always gentleman watching

the rise and fall of female throats

nicotine mouths, stained vermillion

long tan legs swept beneath chiffon

men taking them to hotel rooms

children

smoking the leftovers whilst adults

fucked behind closed doors

wondering

when I grow up

how can I lie beneath

a girl whose sweat glistens

like marzipan

and if she should

sip on me I think I’d scream

all my silver bracelets falling off

like metal flowers on hotel carpet

after all

life is a film

where we tie ourselves up

with want and ritual

The wounded eyed girl

15Before I knew myself, uttered out loud the words

labeling me a this or a that or a who knows?

I developed feelings for a wounded eye girl

we were kids really, dressing up as Japanese geisha in my room

all festooned in asian print and a little tea set I got for cheap

from china town

we wore chopsticks in our hair and bowed ceremoniously

singing the only song we knew in Japanese

with The Mikado playing in the background

I liked her thin arms and her prominent nose

her knock knee urchin look and bandaged soul

I liked how strong she was even as she looked like she’d fly away

most of all I was attracted to her wounded eyes

for there is something heady and bewitching in

pain

and its infinite manifestations

we’d dress up, I would paint her lips scarlet, we’d put on

funny accents and roll on the floor looking up at glow stars

I still had stuck there with movie posters of vampires

she would fling her arm out across my chest,  tell me of herself

pouring out the suffering of her short life

and it was an awful life before she was

brought to this city we lived in, both from somewhere else

transplants, orphans, ghosts of ourselves with missing DNA

she would tell me of her homeland, how

her father beat her black and blue for

being a girl

why as she got older he took

each of her sisters one by one

and they didn’t come back

whole or even

well repaired

I wanted to lick the pain from her cheeks and hold her to me

until the wound healed

but nothing I could ever do would assuage

the wounds behind her dark brown eyes

so we played as little girls do

building camps and tepees and western saloons

once I played a prostitute and she a cowboy

I cocked my head, snapped a red garter and asked her;

want to have some fun soldier?

she laughed, such a lovely laugh

her black hair and coffee skin, shining with fantasy

she didn’t like being herself anymore than me

we got into our pretend saloon bed

I served her a pretend shot of whiskey

acted ‘saucy’ the way I had learned from TV

she rolled her eyes laboriously like a comedian winking

pulled up my petticoats which were real

and at one point had been my mother’s wedding dress

when she married my father, bare foot and broke

with a velvet ribbon tied around her neck

and our fingers explored each other

as we giggled and changed our voices to all the favorite

TV characters we knew

I think I even tried to be Sue Ellen

I wanted to tell her then, not to stop

to press my mouth to her pomegranate lips

touch her swelling breasts with my own lack of

run myself like a cat across her saffron skin

but even then I knew

damage makes bad bed fellows

we soon changed the game, to cops and robbers

climbing out of the window, swinging from trees

though in every story

there was an element of romance

I thought of the old shows I loved

where the actors were always

dancing around the circumference

of each others heart

how in real life sometimes they married

I told my father; Oh see! Oh see! pretend things can come real!

but some cannot

and she and I grew up

once she told me she had always known I felt like that

I blushed dark red because of course

thinking I’d been subtle when watching her changing clothes

she married a blonde haired man and moved to Australia

had a little boy and hopefully

a ceasing of her alotment of pain

because more than anything I wanted that for her

even more than the beautiful moment

of two girls

laying in sunlight

laughing at imagined things

for the rest and peace and escape

of anything real

 

Radiance

Sun filigreed through high tree lines

Touching our chosen space with bright finger tips

We swing, irregular rhythm, sometimes your momentum, sometimes mine

I watch you point your toes and know

It is hard to remain calm, not to act upon

Desires bound by respect and difference

You are a forest nymph, a hummingbird

You are a nayad of the lake, your honey my want

I imagine holding your bottom lip lightly with my teeth

Graze your unapproachable grace with whispering touch

Green water is still and birds sound from high

I hear it all

And only the gentle deep of your voice

How you move your mouth

The tilt of your long elegant neck

Sunlight turning your skin into caramel

Picks out the rushing river of your eyes

Glances off the high wistfulness of your cheeks

Your thin tshirt a wrapper, I long to pull toward me

Your fingers, nimble, I would take in my own

In my mind, I preserve each motion

How you tilt your small chin

The sway of your bones moving beneath skin

If I could I would cup your little face in my hands

Tilt you toward sunlight until all we could feel

Was radiance

Reach for the taste of your tongue

Bury myself in your laundered smell

The brush of forest and leaves, wild and breathing

Stay in that singular and plural second

Retracing the shapes you make, rising and falling

I know there are things pulling us back into the world

I know we cannot stay in this dappled moment forever

That life goes on demanding our turn of attention

But I will keep coming back to your eyes

Capturing light, water, air, me

I think I see

I think I see

More within your secret self

Than our words have yet said

All I can do is hope, I’m not imagining

Or the burning in my chest does not long alone

It would be inexplicable to feel so much

Without return

But as I drive away

The sun dipping slow behind clouds

I have a confidence I’ve never possessed

Certain it is not just me, who speaks silently beneath surfaces

If you can hold on to the courage of now, how we are

To let yourself feel it too

It doesn’t matter how long it will flame

It matters that we do not give up before we create that light

Before the resolve of desire and emotion

Sets untouched and life grows dark again

I do not want to give up on hoping

You’ll look at the same sky

Share my wish

You have planted a longing in me I cannot ignore

Unspoken and afraid to be real

Until you say

From your beautiful mouth

With your lovely faraway voice

Yes I want

I want you too

She is beauty

If her heart were a drum

it would be outlawed for beating too loud

for the insistent and unwary pound

keeping wakeful when those who rest

wish for silence

beneath her is a lake of feeling

if a mime enacted, his black cloth fingers

would grow numb with gesticulation

his elbows fatigued from the shapes

her wordless passion smacked into

taut skin

trembling at the imagining of her

proximity

she breaks a sweat on the fine hair of her neck

a necklace of pearl and moonstone

for each sway of her fruiting body

she is the picker of her sanity

a welcome devil in empty playground

she blinks into darkness, seeing futures

in one, she is swimming in dark water

the stars illuminating only her want

reaching shore, she searches for her among shadows

trying to imagine the way she feels

naked and shaking off

the spill of her longing

in another they are talking

far into time and beyond, where

landscapes break open pink and ochre

like food consumed by gods

she cannot yet tear herself away

from the smoothness of her skin

or how her cheeks slope like arching

cats, pulling beauty from places

she didn’t know existed

she cannot yet reach out

run her tremulous and urgent hunger

along the narrow slope of her shoulders

and dipping into honey, find a

succulence beyond anything yet tasted

she is a terrifying girl who

knows her power and still

is lost at times to its art

the wince and crimp of her slimness

like a willow tree, capturing storms

she holds her head like a wave

cresting against soft shoreline

proud and a little self-assured

the quivering arrow of her curves

tie like a bow around desire

burns in its simplicity

her skin is mango and sunlight

of all her lives spent

before she was found

still like a water fountain

just before it bursts, released from clay

there is harmony and music

in her tread and no one yet

has found the riddle to her heart

something distant and wafer thin

like a fabric of unknown origin

it is not her wish to change anything

but the temperature she feels

when they press against the other

beneath roar of blood and live wire

crackling into cuplets of lightning

it is not her wish to alter one second

save the moment she relents and

sensing something good

releases her perfume and all the

capture of her loveliness

till they mingle as one energy

burning their quickening on the tail of

some unearthed connection

where beneath the moon they

reach for each other and not

the solace of being alone

lying in a circle like warm petals

she draws her hand slowly

over the silk of her

without words sufficient

holds her breath

as long as it can stay

spellbound by her presence

the entire world paused

in reflecting pools

oceans

never deep enough to

swallow

the intensity

of her regard

for she

is beauty.