Step outside

The doctor

who is 47 and wears a baseball cap

she doesn’t look her age, even her hands are unlined

but she knows her stuff, telling me, it’s a virus

got into you, maybe by the loosest thread and working its way up

attacked your spleen like, a well placed fist will split even hard skin

opening up secrets, spilling them like spaghetti squash, reveals its jewel

thumbing through test results, her eyes raised imperceptably

we both joked at the irony of finding a virus, good news

by then I had, a long list of debtors, thinner wrists, curled with many knots, my mouth was parched from staying open

who knew I’d learned so well, the art of begging and beseachment

and the phone, if it were not disconnected, would not have rung because I’d found out 

those who stand in faded ink on birth certificate, are not interested in, the lurch of misfortune

you see, some people, they need warm weather, even in Wintertime

and cannot abide, a cold chill or sudden snap

and I, poor dear, had quite broken my luck on the roulette table, as it spun

a soft sound much like the running of a bath

my turn to fall

their turn to turn, face away, pretending, such misfortune doesn’t happen

they are acrobats of self-deception

I don’t condemn it

it gives me the outline of which to begin, a new family tree

it will not have many branches, perhaps will look deformed

but as the arroyo dries in hot Summer, lines leave scores in red earth, pointing a way for journiers

and there are people who come

from almost nowhere

bringing solace

like a well tended light, burning from animal oil

keeps alive, that creature within us

needing, oh so needing

I touched them, with burning fingers and blistered lips

I couldn’t form the words to say, how much it meant

walking in their step and how

the measure of their coming lifted me

from a place i’d never been nor wished to return 

emptiness is not, an acquired taste

the doctor, she can attest to that

I see grief in her stride and hope in the words she feeds me

as we create over the loom, something resembling a coat

to wear when the weather gets cold

and you have to step outside

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Constancy

Oft maligned

Great virtues found

In the small

Not opening a wallet

Nor showy endeavor

But quiet, steadying

Loyalty

Found like a blue nest

In a grey forest

Constancy

Is a clear bell

Ringing when others have only

Tooted their own horn

She waits

After the herd have had their say

And empty promises lift their helium mouths

To the great void

She stays

When it would be easier to flee

Safer to avoid

Quicker to cut off

And I was your constant

That is why you loved me so much

Though you didn’t recognize the steps

We both took

When it came time

For my turn

You bared your teeth

And took a portion of me

Breaking trust like

Water can never be held

In cupped hands

You slipped

Grateful for escape

Claim

Don’t open your chest up

let the butterflies out

burn the velvet gloves and seek to trust

hands held over hands in circles

dancing to the gravy of secure claim

Don’t risk dissolution

by the marble hands of your own family

it never gets easier

a little death upon a little death

pursed words kissing with violence

and just as you know all these things

you hang yourself by the neck

that’s the fool who is a child

keeps returning to empty chairs

all fall down

such is the rope burn

when love turns cruel

when love lets you down

family existing to crush the lotus

how then does the bloom float

something wide and spectacular

with waterlogged roots seeking ground

how then does the moon touch water?

reflecting shapes of wonder against glass

the hurt is

fierce and terrible

the tiger is

open mouthed

the knife digs

deep into sound

stars blitz like warm shower

lights echo in soft purr

you can cut me down with one word

you hold the key, you are my blood

and I love you when you hurt me

more than I should allow

how do we learn

to avoid exposure when

our wrists are bound

by family ties and emptiness

perhaps the pain is reminder

life is a knife, it can butter, it can cut

if we try we can surf

the upside more than down

like migrating streams releasing winter’s cold

 

 

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

 

Of needing

When the capture

is weakened

when neglect owns

no name

but like paint

faded by days 

needful of coat

then you listen closer

not to temptation 

and her guest

but the soft rummage 

of needing

notice my new dress

or the turn of my hands

as I clean and wash and pour

these invisible chores

chalked over by repetition

the line between your eyes

a quickened thunder

didn’t you buy more nutella?

this is not ironed through 

holding an outline of wrinkle 

oh so true

when love is new 

we inhabit scarcely

that fantastic vaunt 

slowly to fall

in little unmendable ways

like gathering wool

rubbed by barb

a trick of light

words shared like jewels in dark

oh the power you manifest

in one observation

worth all a stranger distorted

for it is not in the arms of replacement succor is found

but the sure tred through years holding our hems above us

strung in purposed knots, hand over hand, over hand

rubbed against stone til transparent

*I wrote this after hearing a few sad stories of people in unhappy relationships, and my wondering why they were unhappy together and why they couldn’t last and be happy together and how sad a world filled with people who no longer want to be together anymore is. I may be a dreamer but I’m not the only one who believes we hold the answer.*

Fond of ghosts

screen-shot-2017-04-28-at-11-05-30-amToday

I am thankful

that I am not

you

you are what I could not be and partly remain

If I hadn’t fled and turned my back to

the inevitable crush of destiny, spinning on roulette table

the soft nape of cloth worn by dice

 

For years I regretted leaving myself behind

and those few memories not slicing

at my veins

but your life

engenders mindfulness

and I am

so relieved

 

This feels good

the city of our frying was so hungry

It wanted to devour youth

to sake itself on the fervor of the anointed needy

how anyone has the endurance?

how you do?

I have no idea

 

As I scaled my escape with trapeze skin shoes

the Harlequin came back from her exile in the countryside

the sequined one didn’t see how the city ate us up in little spoonful

she whose cheeks were red with fresh air, wanted so badly to return, throw her hunger at the crowd in fistfuls

and that’s why we crossed wires, finally hanging-up our respective ends

 

But you

puzzle me like the last page of a much creased book

I relate to your merciless sober tilt

a shared connection that runs the length of our separation

how the rest of your life will bid

how

you are when we’re not talking

how the world sounds through your ears or looks through your eyes

 

I feel you must have

chains

on

your

wrists

you must be a new

in a large loud give

and that frightens me more than it should

considering once

I almost walked in the same buckled shoes

 

What made you stay?

and I leave?

what helps you imprint this life and nourishes the void I feel

imagining I had never left and still to turn the page

such terrors seem to separate us

beyond what could reconnect

proof perhaps

of the strength of the heart

to defy

logic

and

grow fond of

ghosts