S.O.S.

28514640_10155366958932338_2887770778102742777_o324300484.jpgI wanted to

open my mouth as wide as it will go

no .. even

further

disarticulated and gaping

for maximum sound

a fog horn

and implore you

describing

the itch in my throat

the lump that turns to anchor

pulling me down to ocean floor

no oxygen, just humiliation

It says

Help me

I’ve never asked before

hot-faced and ashamed

I’m all grown up and lost

wandering toward your call

Help me

unpick my mistakes

return to the scattered fold

but every time I begin

something in your tone

heeds a warning

and I go back to

holding in

sore like spring cold

my throat is not meant for singing

it is a lump hardened by knowing

you will not hear.

(After becoming so sick I decided my only option would be to move back to a country with socialized healthcare. I basically said as much to my father, the first time I have ever asked him for help as an adult. I felt so guilty for asking. Some of my pride comes from being independent, not relying upon others. I find it hard to ask. But what was harder was his lack of response. I could blame many things, maybe he was in shock, maybe he didn’t know what to say. But parents are parents for life, if their child at any age needs help, and you know they may not be able to help themselves, I would think most would help them. Now I feel stupid, ashamed and embarrassed for asking. I hadn’t expected too much, just some type of support in moving back, if indeed a way could be found. But he stayed pretty negative, he doesn’t want to make an effort or get involved. I realized then I had long thought family meant we were all in it together, helping each other through this life, but it’s more ‘them’ and ‘me’. If I could, I would help myself. I’ve done it every other time. But being sick means you can’t always help yourself. There is no worse feeling than asking for help after feeling so bad for having to ask for help and then feeling absolutely ridiculous for having asked. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just challenging because it would be better if I could live in a country with socialized healthcare at this point, being swamped by bills I cannot afford. I suppose like many who do not have that option I will have to find another way. I don’t feel hard done by, I just feel like I don’t have that familial support that I half believed I could have, if I asked for it, that feels very lonely but also I feel stupid, for expecting, or asking anything of anyone, I wish I had the strength by myself but I just don’t).

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The silent strength

Take out the trash

And as you bend to pick up stray leaves

You see him standing beneath his grief

He wears it heavy like winter wool, boiled in tears

As a man, he doesn’t have the ways of expressing

All those pent up cries

For so long, he was his only resource

Clamboring into himself even further

A boy within a man, hand over mouth

His outward smile is tinged with sadness

Nobody sees because people want to believe

In smiles more than tears

Except me

I have nothing much of myself to recommend

I couldn’t compete, I couldn’t pretend

The square jawed boys at school

Saw through me, reaching for the swan necked girls

Who purred and swam in batted eyelash lakes

And like this man, I grew up shaping myself coarsely

Sometimes doing nothing more than observing

The way we treat others less fortunate

And I came to recognize pain

As if it painted a sign or put up lights

They say comedians are often depressed

Behind the mask, underneath their wax paint

I only know I see, as he bends to loosen the hose and

Water plumes into a cloudless sky

Giving himself permission to cry behind the spray

He hugs himself with cold arms and I watch

The boy who repeated this action until

He could stand without falling

His strength is greater for his fragility

I want

To save his heart

From the cruel ways of those who say they love us

Those, they hurt the most

As if love were a weapon to be used when you get closer

Everything is upside down and the wrong way round

The grey eyed man says

I have to act the opposite of who I am

Just to tred, the thinnest bridge

I am holding empty days in my hand

And husks of dreams beneath my chest

His face mimics the pain beneath his skin

But he trembled, long enough to see

The stricken moment, like passing ghost

The man he tried to be, the loss of certitude

I told him, hope was the only way

And even

When we believe we can take no more

And even, as our last support breaks and crumbles

Abandoning us in our hour of need

When we think we have lost everything and everyone

Staring at the edge wishing we could jump

Then the wind chime is caught by stray breeze

Faraway birds call into the trees

Then the mercy of a stranger leaves

The bearest memory that once

Before grief got in her punches

Reminder of something precious

Long ago when we had faith in ourselves

The little boy he was

Standing staring at the same sorrow

Decided it wouldn’t be the direction for him

Taking everything he had, he set out

To live inspite of it all

And he did

Now with bowed head he reminds me

Of a fallen angel, wondering how

To continue to fly or purchase peace

And I touch his shoulder

When I mean to reach inside

Warm his soul and keep alive

The silent strength behind his eyes

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

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