Yet, still kiddish

With iridescent sun and Busy Lizzie’s, the day

curtsied bonne nuit

as shyly as a virgin

as boldly as a lover

as robust as an old woman

laughing from the pit of her well-lived stomach

vein-laced hand flung back in half-made-gesture

the opacity of her skin belying

the depths of her eternal sea green eyes

(For Derrick)

immutabilité

In the afterlife

There is always something to do

pick up the leaning umbrella before it hits the window,  leaving

a tell tale smudge

clutter. Le désordre

le bruit, le fatras,

a maniac for the mind seeking calm

in Upton’s Jungle where only heat bakes

rocks inedible

cushions flattened by visitations, last nights vestige

reminds me of when the bad boy dropped me off at my house and I ran

whippet thin and full of bile through tall yellow grass before sun was up

thinking if I could get inside, wash every molecule off, it wouldn’t be real

for what is real? Who is alive and who is not?

Was it real that you gave birth to me? Or did I come out from your forehead

like Athena without guile, just seeking, the end of the puzzle

wet with embryonic writhe

a dot representing the center, a square we are lost in, a triangular shape of a woman

scything herself of humanity

yoga mat lying on the floor, when no one is looking, legions roam across

their sticky melange leaving detritus and DNA – filthy castings of a viral world

and we think there’s a purpose to cleaning? When our minds are so

filled with dirt, the stain of then, the need for order, no end in sight

you died before I could recall my own conscience

still playing in the sandbox with Pavlov’s dog

salivating at lunch time when the ice cream truck sounded

turning the corner into our 1970’s neighborhood

all the kids who grew up to be wrecked, all the kids with abuse

shuttered behind their sleep-filled-eyes, what we knew and did not know

before we lived, before we were fully conceptualized

clambering out of robot heads into uniforms with starched collars

and itchy labels. Derrida scolds me for forgetting

the metaphysics of presence, how the hair startles before

we are aware of the interloper.

My mother, without me would have been

the same, oppositions casting wide circles around the other

in extravagant orbit,

her elegance like a chill shadow

against ivory, casting divine repetitions

she may once have wondered what it would be like to

behold a daughter and then, cleaning the smudge

the umbrella made on the glass, moved on to watering

the thirsty plants, who never receive enough

sustaining in this infernal heat. Montaigne’s grotesques

filling empty space with coherence, as monsters dressed in provocation

attempt to mediate man’s presumption, for our limit is sifted clear of

lasting knowledge in the face of holy entreaty.

I am and I am not

here and there, once and before, dancing to the last song

of the evening in your arms, unable to

tear myself away from the grand illusion

that life could be smooth like a record with

little grooves created from their undulate

music to move the water inside our soul

carried far until we grow

weary somehow of the weight

and set it down beneath a tall tree

where we shall never move from.

(First published in Free Verse Revolution, 2020). 

The magic fairground

I scratch my head, the mixture of henna and indigo dyeing my

finger nails black

thinking of the red pill and the blue

Alice and her little vial

Drink Me

Pandora’s Box

Athena’s head exploding, a rebuttal to Zeus

yellowing wallpaper closing women’s mouths

Radcliffe shouts in her lesbian manifest

those following her down the well of loneliness

high waisted and limber of spine.

I want to nibble upon you morning, noon and night

but I do what is right and keep my fantasies in check

behind the lines of notepads and in the ink of pens

I suck till my tongue turns blue-black

your lips remind me of a pomegranate even without rouge

they look edible, lush, full like an excuse never to apologize

we are girls of violet, our pin in the concentration camps was

a pink V

last night I watched When Hitler Stole White Rabbit

at the Jewish Film Festival, chewed the inside of my mouth

in frustration at the abhorrence of others

when I was a child I did not have a pink rabbit

you left your hair brush and your rose water and your

tattered lace-edged simple night gown

I don’t think you ever wore one again, in the 1970s

nude was in vogue

women coming and going

from my father’s room

with dimpled bottoms and breasts like Claire Bretécher 

I learned my likings on photography books, under the section

‘erotica’ and other arts, believing archly

pornography an expression, when now, thinking back

they had such sorrowful eyes

like deer who stare into

the lights of an oncoming truck

is it bravery or hypnosis? Perhaps

it is fatalism, the French, myself

moving to countries who do not condone

indolence, expecting different results

when escape has no good set of keys

just jangles from your pocket like a taunt.

It’s not cute when you’re over thirty, to

long for the purple balloon in the supermarket

or lie, cat-like on the carpet and me-ow when your lover

is mad

it is not seemly, to be childish when you have

your first crows-feet, or need a push-up bra

unless you leave your glasses to the side

dive in, deep and thick

the molasses of not giving a fuck

where 80 year olds, excel and laugh

like they did at eight without front teeth

much the same, much the same.

The magic fairground, everyone remembers names,

I recall songs and colors of girls eyes

how they look sleeping, with their hands flung

like emotions above their heads, bent at the wrist

bangles on the floor, hidden beneath cascading sheets

elegance in angles, the way eyebrows furrow

in thought, how that line shapes over time into

a question mark, the parchment of skin, in

darkness, tracing braille, for the day none of us

will see, more than the outline of certainty.

You said: “Maybe you won’t love me when my

breasts sag, when I stop working out and the

lines of years begin to encroach. Don’t you like my

firm arms, they do not hang like bats, my mother’s did

I am mortally afraid of skin that hisses when you look

at it.”

Perhaps men had done this to you, torn down

your childhood gauze, made you feel the need to

apologize for things to come. I have read

Dreams Of Young Girls, I know how the photographer

can project a fantasy upon a real girl, even

when she is young, begin to pick her apart

as she unfurls like a Christmas amaryllis, not

caring the pickpockets of their distain

leave her in rags. Or maybe it was another

woman and her cruelty or her hatred? Tight

in an ill-fitting jar, straining to propagate.

“After all, you are so perfect,” you said,

smiling at my narrow hips (like a boy)

my unmarked skin (sun-screen)

the thickness of my hair (good shampoo)

how taut my calves look in leggings (optical illusion)

girls with girls tend to compare

it is not always favorable

though we find in our mixing bowl of humility

a little easement

the tasty wick of joy

burning low into auburn night

going over

those fears

with soft fingertips

and gentle reproaching …

Oh softening

Motioning

Nightfall

In whisper find blessed felicity

A body untouched, lain emptied of worth

brought to life, my Lazarus, spinning moon beneath our chins

rounding music fluting her velvet want to stay beautiful physically

for you to hold your breath as you touch, yes I understand

and still, beauty retains a deeper chord

dancing on raw feet to Erik Sate, trying to impress.

No, love, no, age is wine

spreading in the roof of your oval mouth

each place it has visited will transport you back, among the

grapes, tanned beneath reliable sun till just ripe, rolling in barrels

aged over centuries, buried with

secrets, the taste of fruit and toil, lustily on its wood

roots reaching deeply into history, for every year lived

another branch uncoils, the leaves, a brilliant green, bearing fruit

then flowers, finally sheltering, those beneath

such is a woman, such as you are

lying in my arms, the sweat of sleep, hot on your neck

cheeks pushed against my shoulder blades

causing you to look like you are pursing your lips

in effort to dream

finding ways always

to hold you closer,

closer

closer

closer.

The unseen world

At the corner of your mouth, where it curls in gentle distain, a little spiting mirth, lives the unseen world

In your eyes, polished obsidian run through with black onyx, lies the hearth of your internal combustion

As you breathe, I cannot fail to notice the lovely juxtaposition of your bones gleaming beneath apricot skin, as the buttons on your shirt atest, each breath yawning her fitful glimpse

I cannot help but wonder those stored bottles of delight, high upon your shelf, how your nipples would taste, the flowered breath of your heart of palm

And divining central, that pulsing mandala, reaching her fragrance into dreamworld, the color of aubergine and hibiscus bled in winter river as redwood is lost to time

My artichoke girl, wreathed in wild flowers, your body a temple for this supplicant, as light diminishes, your thirsty form grows spectral, a mango tree heavy in fruiting

From within, you glow with the hardy tempest of your nature, a pulsing, feckless creature, nimble in your art of deft possession

If I could starve for want of you, I believe I would. For no moment passes with satisfaction, unless in some way, you exist on its marble periphery

The very yoke of a day is cast by your presence. I could subsist on the rounding detour of your thighs for a hundred sleepless nights

Grow from your slumber the memories of your cries, curled in my ear, my lips, my reincarnation of our slippery motion to capture

When it is cold my hands seek your bright match to kindle animation, climbing from the solace of you, strengthened by remembered, evoked echo of intimacy

A song wound around my ribs as river reeds pull the charmed to their divine drowning and with last sip of air we relinquish control and let go

My love, your eyes bewitch my life blood, kindling the charred rejoinder of hope, a poppet to your sorcerery, emerging from deep forest

When dying comes for me, it’ll be your face I kiss, feverish and familiar, your preternatural smile haunting my passage, faithful ghost, mine

For some there is no method of separation, we are bound in crushed roses to one

In this place. In each other. A languid, yawning soft space between, the unseen world.

Invisible ink

When they say someone is driven to distraction

can’t stop thinking about …

I imagine

a woman running in the rain

newspaper overhead, painted nails

pursed lips, the crook of a smile despite

her hose getting wet, soaking her clavicle, glistening like

some jewel in a torrent might

suddenly fruit

it reminds me of the first time I heard Suzanne Vega sing

not knowing she was singing for a woman

but something in the detail caught my eye

how she felt the same hot breath, steaming glass

lost bra strap, showing slip, untucked blouse

a stray hair, falling in her eyes, it took all of my

self possession not to reach across and brush it

back into place

although I’d rather press my face

into her neck and lose myself to the sound

of rain and tempests, growing inside me

wordlessly showing her the crocheted waves

with every brush stroke

a painting cannot be completed without

sufficient water and concentration

much like a woman cannot be pleasured without

the breath of sea and infinite patience

it is like learning an instrument

your fingers growing sore in repetition and as they

tire, music is formed, her mouth opening

throat reddened, thighs dampening, heat climbing

you find yourself approaching

a cusp of wonder without worthy language

to describe, its motion

when I am tired, sorrowful, when I feel wan daylight

setting behind me, proffering dusk and your absence keenly

I close my eyes and feel her in every song

that girl beneath the awning, trying to close her

umbrella, her shapely legs and slender ankles

breasts rising against damp silk, in one long sigh

there are passions within us

that have teeth and fire

where hunger is a permanence

just like the silver locket hanging

about your neck and how if you play with it

I find myself needing to be

that silver, that shape, that falling

between you, against your skin, as if we can possess

another which we never can and so we try

again and again

thinking up ways

as coffee grows cold

as people flit in and out

hardly noticing the girl

who sits alone

wrapped in thought of you

a blunt pencil by her side

writing

in invisible ink

the landscape of a

woman

lost in rain

just out of reach

Even as I tie my shoes,

the distraction in my chest feels like you

has your taste on my lips, wetted with

unspoken remonstration

time can pass so fast, until years are bundled into telegraphs

yellowing with their swollen journey

still so few stand out, make themselves remarkable

just by their bloodied being

those who shine, one in a thousand, more, tops of heads

in a crowd, who gets the crown?

With everyone chiming for attention, I give it to you

even as you do not ask , such is my cinema of devotion

watching the replay in my mind, every turn

lifted wrists, precious movement, chiseled in memory

if you asked me I’d know exactly how you felt

even without touching, the xylophone of your small ribs

for I have spent hours sculpting your shape

these silhouettes and textures known by one

who watches ever observant, silent in her study of years

the first time, then now

landscapes apart, still, as if time has

claimed you a piece of her, nobody else

has a part, they are forgotten on periphery

ordinary to your owning

as long as I continue not to speak aloud

I can pretend it’s real

observing you, as you might a

longed for thing, just out

of reach

blinded to all else

a rapture without

name

Stand in radiance

I think of you as I might

the collected soil outline of a beloved plant, died in Wintered frost

slow the creep toward perish, I hold back, I do not want to enter that room

with its antiseptic smell, lolling tongues of linoleum stretching like vast desert

here nothing thrives

not you, in your beige iron bed with metallic purr of machines overhead

nor the sucking out of sight sound of life being apportioned and gentle knock and brush of clutter off stage

I have learned to manage my desires, like labeled things put away and forgotten

they seem inconsequential in the gravity of this moment, elongated into a maw, disabusing itself in perpetuate howl

the green eyed girl who sat astride you devouring your skin with the hunger of the famished, is just a filament of memory, drowsy with being taken out and examined many times

what is real feels false, we fall apart with rules, we are well behaved in chaos

as rain falls, drowning response, we are free briefly, to call for Gods who are sleeping against their fatigue of us

I look down at my fingers entwined in memory, carving the halls of you with journeys taken to your very core

wish I could write like a girl who didn’t need to rinse her eyes of salt and her mouth of violence

there are no mirages in this sterile land, only the abundant hygiene of fear, roasting itself on impotence

here even you, are forgotten to yourself. I wonder if you recall how we were or if

this eclipsed reality, so suffocating and tightly arranged, is your only memory

occasionally I want to do something vulgar and wrong, to break the dreadful count-down

call an old lover, meet them in the broom closet for some rearranging of clothes, we don’t know how to handle things, so we explode quietly inside ourselves

just to feel I am not plummeting alongside you

faithless for sure, my brand of lusting for life and wellness, anything but encroaching perishment, we fear dying even as we seek it

apparently I am not alone in this

strangers will swap bodily fluids in desperate snatching, on top of folded doctors overalls. That strange, nameless brand of green we all loathe

I was a false girl before we met, learning to reign in her impulses against a backdrop of damage
thriving under the rental of youth with no care for those far-off dates waiting in distant wings

life was already its own brand of unbearable, it felt yet, too searing to imagine decrepitude or bad luck

instead, thrive on the daydream, liquor up the inside of your nightmares and send them galloping and sweaty into the abyss

rest in the drowsy arms of indifference, for everyone wants something and nothing is as it seems

stop caring

until blinded or crippled, you crawl to your date with the inevitable

hearing your ancestors crow their dissatisfaction at your cliched rejection of fate

compassion doesn’t cost, but as I stare at the vacancy in your eyes I know

i’d say yes to the proffered ease of escape

yes to anonymous lovers and things to someday regret

but not now whilst we stand under the radiance

when life still reigns and I know how to squeeze from it, that ounce of pleasure

not hedonist but survivor. Some survive in the calm shallows

I want to wade waist deep in warm water, feel your touch bringing me back to life

not forget what it was to circle the varied heavens and their demands

nor the feeling of my heart in my throat, birthing color and chaos in equal order

I imagine you as you were, impossibly alive, bright in ways that hurt my eyes

our dance around the mandala of us, ever decreasing, unawares of our own diminishment

your last words lingering in pre-storm humid air, like fruit left a little long in sun

sticky and soft we meld together and break apart with the astringent sting of broken clay

turning again to earth, as if it had never, not once, not even in dream

held water.

Still so changed

lungsThought I saw you today

resting on the cream tile beside our silver fridge

a sign of my eyes seeing ghosts or fading out?

The doctor said; Watch for ink marks and sudden black spots

just like your coat, as you leaned in to clean eternal

not you, this time, or ever more

only my shoes and socks, black and white as

your fur

recalling when we traveled, back when we could

before lock-downs, before freedom was something nobody

took for granted

how in the arroyo of the desert we climbed

cactus flowers and box turtles, lazy sunbathing snakes

finding purchase of indigo rock

how my spirit felt released in that stark landscape

greater than any city, eclipsing us

as you searched for things to kill and torture

though you possessed a kind heart

a little metaphorical

a little incidental?

Our bid for escape, as now we are closed and shut up

you lying beneath red earth, turning to desert

I am still above ground

wondering at times, for what?

Another road trip? None would be you

nor would freedom taste quite as sweet

though I expect when released

people will emerge

dazed and half willing

shaking off their forgotten selves

staring about for stars and clothes

meaning and fireworks

just the same

as it ever was

and still so changed

and still so very

changed.

The fixation & the vexation

susan seddon bouletSometimes there is an unbuckling of

temper and fear and loathing

mixed into indigo and strewn

in furied air

we pick it up as

a smell long forgotten

taps long dormant senses

and despite the years, regain

a moment mislaid

your arms doused with powder

glittering like another being, turning,

you, spectral and otherworldly

an afterglow of fiesta, a street

littered with signs of party goers

their tossed colors, a mélange of remembrance

we grind and mash and rearrange

clothes strewn in multi color love letters

on unpolished floor

seeking to find in electrified connection

that dizzying light

buoying briefly from surface

telling of depths few venture

where usually we rest, bobbing and sailing

absent of passion, thinking like the face of a clock

about slow steady movement, predictable pauses

spasms only in the imagination

or when a familiar song stirs a disquiet

whilst below, in regions beneath our reach

gained access through mutual need

briefly like the flick of a match

sets sulphur stalking cold corridors

only there, unbeknownst to the world

and her grave tick-tock visage

we earn closer, sloughing skin, molecules

separating individuals, ages, castles, skies

until on the windswept summit we fall

clutching each other in entreaty and relief

fading from sight, resisting wholeness

becoming starlight

only then, your damp hand caught

somewhere inside me, my bruised

lips smarting with the pressure of

cascading into earths center

do we know a place that is only ours

where we are pre-Denisovan and

holy, beneath the candle of a human’s

little watched life

that shallow wick, curved in entreaty

for meaning, for Gods, for monsters

and your rounding stomach, wet with tears

salt and oxygen and loss like a tableau

of everything, a table set for two

we sit obedient and fatigued

the lines of us, drawn before we arrive

breaking outside the cast, little cracks

small fizzures

with the fixation and vexation

of mortal love.