Cynthia

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Let me tell you a story …

once there was an ugly girl, by ugly I mean her soul was desolate of compassion

nobody could see her true make, because she kept her cheeks brightly daubed with grease paint

every so often she’d be provoked and the alabaster devil would crawl out

betraying her neutered joins beneath camouflage

she asked me

BITCH why are you so fucking NICE?

venom dripping from her opaque maw

she could hardly contain her tiny fanged roll of hatred

as if by being merciful I disobeyed natural laws

her hellish countenance, displeasured turn of rule

she was without color, an albino sheltering behind false eye-balls

gathering fruits of her murder, dragging the axe behind

wishing so much to rise it over head and crack my tinted neck

why for some … it is a sport to undo others?

Rorschach of destruction splattered on pavements

I shall never know

she wanted my extinction

eradicate a girl who is not like her

crying; who does she think she is?

challenging the natural order of our dirt filled minds

bent on collapsing compassion

 

why are we suspicious of those who are tender?

as if they must all contain a poisoned dart or

some ulterior motive

it is not so very strange to be considerate

 

she was the butcher’s knife in plain sight

questioning my integrity implying I had some

hidden destination

everyone would rather believe kindness an invention

cruelty the status quo

they joined in their discrimination

sending me out in the wilderness

where I watched them eat each other

the way glinting crows starved of fresh meat

will turn sharp on their neighbor

and I

have been wild ever since

Find me in cinder

777bbca7e13ef8f0b821cfb0c2ee3e63Press tighter

the ribbon too loose

the welt too shallow

press tighter

block out light

kneeling in our find

discovering strange arms

do not right the wrong

of absence

you lace your shoes all the way to the top hook

standing by the gutter watching imagination speed past

grab a cab, take a train, hail a bus

erase the deep scratch

take yourself as far as you are

find me

find me in cinder

I’m sweeping up my make-believe

ashes mark the brand with loving hand

I left myself on a train somewhere

heading past the blur

trees convening into walls and thorns

thorns

shaping my need

pricked back to defeat

raise your hands in prayer

watch them fall leaden

like pennies who deny wish to the carp who

listless grows fat on his doom

once you reach the bridge’s middle you will know

the circumference of your blank page

I am here split into footsteps

wet with their hasten

I am here giving birth to your disregard

bloodied in veined marble

it was always the fault of mine own flaw

I don’t have a skin like you do

this girl rends in spinning glass

pretending she is well enough

for this loud world

we who bruise on emotion

catch the lasting arrow

so fine they go, the ones who can

shine themselves well

boarding future with jagged step

watch them marvel at themselves

for six weeks and six years and six centuries

I buried feeling in soft velvet boxes

whispering to the fox

we who are timid

cannot stand the jolt

we who are fractured

do not wear pain for long

before relinquishing fight

deep in the rosebud

where the fold has yet to

come undone

they told her she was wasting her time

trying to be normal

give it up

you speak in imperfect step

from passive to shout and back again

you do not understand your tense or your verb

you were rejected by the snotty folk

who pinch their noses as they bustle past

in formula

and alacrity

bet you know all your grammatical rules like

a foreign language whilst

I paint in saline and muzzled howl

save this last lesson

when you shout

ensure the fields are on fire

and the birds indigo sky in their fright

you will never know what it is like to be

savaged in kind

is that the sound of my neck breaking?

over the ache?

reaching one last time

growing old in perpetuity like

light staying too long in the same place

turns listless and if you listen carefully

with young ears you can

hear the rustle of her gown

bitter with the after glow of grind

I know I’m wasting everything

except this last buried purse

of everything

if I let go now

the seeds will spill

out of me

and grow taller

than I ever

even on tiptoe

could be

Strike me out

cd1818a8dcd999d8c2ed6e6c7cabd01bStrike a match in the dark

hear sulphur guiding your eye to flame

illumination takes many forms

one is that of retrospect

do not repeat do not repeat

the error of your heart

I saw your blisters I saw your callouses

I saw myself underneath the train

as it bit into who I was before I began

following empty tracks

it was always going to happen

I wrote the play before the players were born

they inherit their roles as if I were

the man in the sky and they my pawn

but it was not so

I was only a woman lost in herself

and you were just people who couldn’t see

far ahead

I watched you before you knew

the steps you would take

leading to my end

how you were born to strike me out

leaving nothing but the smell of

something cold

you can become strangers with the

closest person in the world

watching them as they step into their part

you always knew they’d take that route

perhaps you paved the way

perhaps you died before you could taste

the ash of their betrayal

Within the woods

thYou lost your grip on reality around the same time

my own dalliance with death disturbed the rafters

my shoulders of a man, yours of a sparrow

we danced around amber whiskey bottles

setting fire to tarmac

lifting our skirts before silver ash enveloped us

but maybe I didn’t clean my feet well enough

you began to tremble in the morning

and I found I could not move

it was as if a deer had been startled

standing quite still in dried grass

he was frozen in situ

for a time I wanted to break out

resume merriment and three penny carnival

until the feeling of falling inside

behind the bones of your face

where all emotion blanches and traces

secrets and lies

became my norm

I did not know anymore

how to stir cocktails of polite acquaintance

or make small talk trace like sleepy snails

I did not know anymore

what became of my social graces

pinned and folded beneath me like taffeta

it gave me comfort to

lose my art of conversation

the yawning maw of fraternization

I listened to words and they did not

beckon me come closer

I felt as strange as the outdoor moth

who half wishes he did not

slap against warm glass trying to

eat the light

for it is not you he seeks

but the burn and blitz of some fantastic

singeing his wings in tattoo

and I too

had always yearned for that feeling

never discovered among the feeding troughs

of social intercourse

and once or twice I left

a full and heaving party

to lift my legs for a stranger in

cramped confine

because the hard bang and knock of his

emptying wood was

more honest than all the winks and nods

whispering behind my back

words

I no longer needed to use

only three ever necessary

I love you

though now you are smudged out

by burn of cinders staining toes

gone as cold as foggy morning

selecting mute I retraced my arc

pushed myself back beneath my bones

within the temple

within the woods

where the deer finally moved

from her camouflage and

sprinted light as powder

into converging dark

There you are

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about one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I lay in your bed

smelling the indent and the roll

of your dream life when I am not

trying to look through your eyes

into your soul

About one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I stood over your bed

stripping the sheets

smelling where you lived and breathed

all those nights and days

we should have been making memories

now folded away

About one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I smoothed the mattress clear

of the weight you inhabited and

little traces curled here and there

persisting to remind me

of the way the moon lit

your sleeping face

now you will always have your eyes closed

maybe now you can see

the shapes of angels

watching over you until

it is my turn and I come to find

if you have been waiting all this time

a year, a month, a day

one hour is too long

without looking into your eyes

to see what I love reflecting back

like dark diamonds capturing stars

will wink out

and there you are

For I feel

080-francoise-dorleac-theredlistTremulous ghosts must stand in patent shoes around me

for I feel their hands on my shoulders tugging at my seams

I who do not cry

weep openly with sorrow

imagining is often harder than

bearing reality

I think of when he will not stand discontented

staring out at flocking birds

I think of the time I found a starling chick

lying cold on the ground

wondering at the bitter sky

why didn’t you give them a chance?

why did you let me stay instead?

discontent

the child who knew the flavor of strawberry milkshakes

was an artifice

lies from adults, how many more?

behind closed doors and screens

I met a poet an old lady who

wrote like she was on fire

when she didn’t write for a time

I knew she had died

again I railed

why take her? why not me?

I stand disillusioned and empty

she who played castanets and sang

she who had wind-chimes and wrinkles in

her vowels

she had so far to go

I do not

I am here at the fulcrum

waiting my turn at the scythe

it strikes me living doesn’t suit

those who feel everything

like a pretty shoe

isn’t practical for walking

you can admire its form

but it will not hold you up

I ache in ways I cannot give a color

or adverb

it is a disturbance of the soul

the card reader told

you have a dark shadow on your back

she has her hands around your throat

until she dies you will wish for your own death

or you could start drinking again

that might work

sitting at the kitchen table at night

rinsing grief from my palms

strange dark sounds comforting crushing hurt

I examine the bones of my face

they feel as if they should have come unglued

reformed into a mask of ache

outside neighbors children are awake

eager for day to start

a lone dog barks at the moon

because it disturbs the pattern of his knowing

it has been long since I dreamed

when I dream I have hope

hope which is always the most painful place to go

when returning to zero you see the futility

of setting sail just as storms are predicted

you were a hurricane I let whip me up

lent me hope

now I am a milkshake that does not

resemble real strawberries

I am sweet enough for take-out

but nobody knows the sadness behind

a glass that looks full and is not

just residue remains

sticking to the sides

I am holding on

trying not to cry

at the nature of things

some known

some found afterward in epitaph

my grandmother’s hand was

blotchy and purple

still I looked away believing her well

you see

I want to believe in fairy-tales

and ever after

but I confess

it is hard when we are surrounded

by lies in

illuminated

jars

Take the high road

piedpiperI was a child once

perhaps we played together

were you the friend I helped climb the pear tree?

were you the friend who said jump over the puddle and we both missed and came home all muddy in time for trouble?

were you the one who got to the top of the hay bale first and said ‘I can see all the world’ from here and in that moment we really thought we could

or did you grow up in a nice apartment on the Upper East Side, sent to the best schools and expected to do well

which you did in that idle and coveted way of those who have purchase of a velvet lining

did you ever wonder what it was like for the rest?

did you ever wonder why so many famous people are the children of?

did you ever stop and question if ‘life is what you make it’ still stands true?

did you drink dirty water like the kids in Flint?

did you get poisoned by copper like the babies of El Paso?

if you went to a demonstration did you go so you could make change or to show off your $400 Free People outfit?

when you got your first job was it from hard-graft or the friends of your parents?

I went to university with you, I was the one who had a bicycle whilst you drove a Jeep

I wasn’t jealous except when I was hungry and that suited me because I couldn’t afford to grow

when you sat like King on your throne and your acolytes bowed, you crowned yourself head of our year and published the first zine

did it reflect truth or the diamond shanty of your ideals?

good for you that you had a pretty life and long vacations

many of us worked for a living and got up at 5am to empty kitchen tables

parents who stared through the rain at yet another long day

ground down by platitudes that didn’t apply

I’m not bitter it’s just that when we sit in the same room and you tell me

‘I’m sure you can understand Candy, as an owner of a small printing press I have to make ends meet’

I can’t help thinking how fake things that are meant to be real are becoming

we lost art to theĀ debutante, we gave away our souls for front covers with dazzling lies

we have an election that denies the people and computers who act like surrogates

jobs if you’re in China and expensive degrees that promise nothing but loan re-payments

it is said there is no better time than now, and the past was harder when ancestors danced in death in ditches and were blown up

it is said there is no better time than now, we are the proverbial fatted calf, glutted on luxury, we don’t know how bad it used to be

for our grandparents who broke their backs and discolored their lungs in coal pits and the basements of rich homes

back in time we didn’t have flat screen TV and cell phones and fancy jeans but it’s swings-and-roundabouts

now we’re in time where not being online 24/7 can lose your job to someone who didn’t mind being beholden

we had vacations whilst now everyone’s too afraid to be out of the office and checks their cell phones at the dinner table on Sunday’s

where is our sense of self? Did we buy into the belief we are free and rich because we were told that by a meme or nodding head?

did we forget what George Orwell or Rachel Carson said?

Because when we’re young we think we have it all if we have sex and firm thighs and the right to protest

but what good is protest if nothing ever changes? ask the pipe lines who cut through our country if they have heard us yet?

or the profits garnered to keep the 99 percent out of the front lawn

but oh wasn’t it always that way?

sure I read Dickens too and the Little Matchstick Girl

poverty isn’t a modern-dilemma

however maybe apathy and delusion is

wasn’t Marx talking about that when he mentioned Opiates?

we don’t need to take our Big Pharma pills to know

cancer comes with a price tag and you’d better not be poor

the cost of ‘getting well’ is only one part, the other is the creation of the disease

ask the petrochemical industries, do they let their kids inhale or eat that?

does anyone think of the future? Or should we change what Marie Antoinette said to

let them eat lead

what does it say when you’re glad you don’t have kids to inherit these times?

I wanted to write poems and get published and you owned the rights like you always had

glutted and fat on your marble pyramid

you look at people like me, like the street cleaner regards bird shit

something it takes some elbow grease to clean and even then

the outline will mark the pretty pavement where you wanted to hold

your procession proclaiming the world is good and just

I suppose I didn’t fit in with that then and I don’t now

this world is made of dust and sweat, we toil even when we think we are not

against haters, against cruelty, against disregard, apathy and the unexpected

sometimes I think we got it very wrong when we called these Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin may have had a point there

as many who are gone now did, we’re in another incarnation of delusion

hurry up children take your medicine, sip, sip !

so …Ā  I won’t win a trophy or even get my name recalled when I’m gone

and that’s okay with me God

I just want enough to live on and to be unmolested by those who seek to tear down

an honest heart or a man who prizes integrity above fitting in

lest we follow a prophet who says he’s the one, and all fall off the cliff

did we ever figure out if the Pied Piper was evil?

down we go

you cannot find truth looking into empty crystal

you find it by noticing the hypocrisy and stepping out of the casting coach

it will be a harder road they always said

but a high road is preferable to one paved in gold