That Mad Ache

woman kissing woman while standing near body of water
Photo by Davide De Giovanni on Pexels.com

Some of us have a need to feel the heartbeat of another

closer than words

not enough to possess a green lawn, metal chairs, bird feeder, smiling neighbors

would God smite those who despite their fortune, seek

a feeling indescribable and beyond safe?

As if skin were rent and removed and truly naked we stood

beseeching sullen Easter Island statues with their granite far away look

all those emotions burning within us like pins set aflame

rescued in the depths of your eyes, the glass of us tilted toward

setting sun and in elongation and distortion we thrive

maddened on the love of the other

where no amount of living could sate the need for discovering closer method

to gain entry into each others soul and remain there, clenched in joy

a place of belonging in a achingly cold world where

few things seem to gather meaning and much is lost when trees

drop their leaves in beds of autumn colors

I wish I had lived every hour of my life beneath you in the furnace

of our motion, when two hearts begin to forget they are separate

in my sleep I dream of your eyes and the words wrapped around me

I could not exist alone, walking dead streets with emptied stare

you are the life blood of my long sleep, I wake when you pass me by

the smell of your neck, how you speak with a slight downturn

to one side of your mouth as if amused

when you are gone, there is no tick in my tock nor

purpose to a day, I have spent too many years grieving lost things

you would be the last day on this earth worth waiting for

afterward we close our eyes and bid good night to this struggle

content that love has blessed us with one footfall, for many

never discover its map nor know how to open themselves

wide enough to enter a union where no one returns

we transform, as you and I, into bird and for our duration

sing from steeple high, the sound of us murmuring in dusk

transforming empty corners into circles

your hand on my stomach, mine beneath

that mad ache chanting her gentle balm

Some of us have a need to feel the heartbeat of another

closer than words

For Halo

My debt rests in your fur

as they light it

and it burns

and your form shrinks

from this world

your black and white paw limp against my clutching

fingers wishing you here

those images are cookie cut into my mind

called intrusive thoughts and flash-backs

I know them well

they are not my friend as you were my friend

I imagine what you feel and then recall

you no longer feel anything

though that does not seem right

without religion I am left unknowing

where you land next or if you will

awaken in paradise or remain slumbering

whether sleep or a void, if we can truly leave

and have nothing of ourselves remain

but ash and debris

it seems impossible that you were once

jumping onto the table and making me laugh

with your antics

only to be nowhere and gone eternal

I may not possess sufficient faith

to build castles in the sky but

your energy stays like stillness in

this empty house and from the corner of my eye

I still see your shadow slink just as

my grandmother’s voice is pitch perfect in my head

is that imagination or wishful?

Or do ghosts haunt us willing supplicants?

A bouquet of delusion to soothe our empty

arms or

will you live forever within me? And when I take

my turn at the Ferris wheel

our nothingness will reside near one another

I like the idea, all I have loved will

mingle as returned starlight in the ether

and touch one another with reminder

for being alone or worm food is

a cold dinner companion I wish not

to believe in

even if God turns his head from me and always has

for his man-made lack of female

and my rib is long and sticks into my gut

reminding me I am ever every man’s equal

and will never lay down to those dull prescriptions

of what constitutes truth from a man’s tongue.

Your fur was thicker than all the cats here

who grew up hot and listless on porches

you came with me in a pink plastic box

obscene in its garishness we laughed

putting it through customs

the harried lady at flight desk remarked

well there he goes as you were taken

hand delivered, to the pit of the plane

and I worried because I wanted you to be

on my knee but no madam, I’m afraid for long haul

he has to ride in cargo and don’t worry

few of them get upset, as if she were crouched among you knowing this

this seemed false as so many things do

when big decisions linger like absent friends

at the periphery of moments

too quick, too big, for staying still

briefly I wondered; Should I really be moving?

to this strange country I do not yet know and

burning this bridge indefinitely

it felt as wrong as right ever was and I stood

in the airport watching the thin man take you

behind a curtain and then as you were on your way

so was I.

You see …

I took my cue from you

quite often

and of the two of us when we landed

I think you looked less bedraggled

whilst I fought with immigration because one of my papers

was not ‘just so’ and they called and fussed because

immigrants are not very welcome in any country

and annoy those whose jobs it is to ensure

smooth sailing

and when we reunited

on different soil with the sound of cicadas or crickets

I was not sure in those days

you were hot against my grandmothers blanket

and had peed because they don’t let animals

out to the bathroom at 30,000 feet

which was exactly how I felt, hot and wet and stinking

at the same time, in this odd place where

people were outgoing and spurned shyness or other

attributes we both possessed

with aplom

following our dreams or maybe just mine

as your dreams were about mice or pigeons and later

lizards and snakes

as you learned the ways of the desert

and perhaps the tenor of your meow changed

to reflect the inflection of your adopted country.

It may seem easier but it is not easy for any of us

who come by boat, plane or smuggle, to

lands not our own, we each bring with us

that belly full of ache

and you were always able to

soothe mine with your purr and ever

reminder of our start beneath colder skies and

smaller streets with littler houses and narrow

rooms where we knew our place and here

we could only speculate or clumsily test

our sea legs against

the strangeness of being

with mistake and estrangement

our sole friends quite a while.

Unable even to drive I walked you down the road

for your first vet check and people gaped

from their large cars at the floundering Europeans

walking where no-one walks and everyone uses

big trucks to go one mile and purchase a giant

sippy cup and some Ding Dongs, things with

names that sound fun and 40 additives

my kind of humor and banter lost against

surge of habit, the vet seemed surprised I

had carried you rather than driven and tut-tutted

at your lack of dental hygiene

but remarked how beautiful your thick fur was

and how cats in these parts tend to have

snake skin, we all laughed at that, even you

cast a fish eye his direction like you

possessed the real secrets.

I remember those exploits and driving to Canada on another

exodus when stateless we began again

another groove in our fitful recording

the deep snow and your paw prints leading

me nearer and further

like ice fish we swam in our odd circumstance

always together, staring out stranger windows like

spectators at our own fair ground

in cold you slept beside me and purred

in your sleep to the sound of icicles

warming and falling into snow the

sky a heavy weight holding its breath

eventually we returned to the place of infernal heat

and sizzling side walks where no one but us

and straggly weeds dared to step and the years wound like

lost yarn beneath our odd foray

until you were old and fragile

and I barely noticing because I did not want to

believe you could quit being the little cat

in the pink plastic box glad to see me at the

first airport in our new world.

It was naive or immature of me to forget

cats lives do not echo ours and mine seemed

suddenly far too long and yours bitterly short

a terrible echo of inequality I did not

have the strength to imagine losing you

when together we always were.

Even people who wrote said; ‘Dear Candy, Dear Halo’

as if they could see the join of your fur and my

burning skin against the other

I told myself I would be there when they

sent you to that place I could not follow

despite knowing in my mind the terrible pictures

would roam long and unbidden for many years

to look into your eyes and remind you how much you mean

to me and always how I will look for you

until we are reunited and then I expect

all this will be mere bad dreams and

again we can go forward, or side ways or

whatever direction the after world takes us

but please together, is all I want

for with you gone, I wait without watch

an absence greater than anguish

for you were my best friend in this lonely world

assuaging the hard edges and frayed corners

we came here together and still I am

more lost without you than when I arrived

for your bright eyes and happy tail

gave me courage Halo and ever shall I

look for you coming into the kitchen in

the morning with your half howl of greeting

starting my day and ending it with

putting you to your bed

never once thinking there could be a time

when you were not and I still went on.

Aristotle said it best; a relationship is

two bodies one soul

that is real love

and we are floundering when absent from one another

like the ice fish when it warms up

and water is all but gone.

Ode to absentia

I have written enough about you to fill a slim volume

or maybe two ships

set sail for one of the countries you visit

sending me letters in the day, with marks and fingerprints from all around the world

they would smell

like you, even as that was impossible

and I prepared, as nobody ever can

for the day I would lose you

why not, you ask, appreciate the now, when you are here on earth?

I have, though, we have never spent our lives together or even entwined

I have been saying goodbye all these years

yet it will not be sufficient, it could never be enough

you are more of me, than myself

and I feel you inside even though you are not here now, and gone in the future

loving you has felt like continual loss and little gain

yet I do, more than anything else, for you are that kite, unmoored itself and got away

the thought that comes creeping up as you laugh, as if I had a twin, and yes, she was the one who grew in courage, living full in ways I knew only from books

you have the lifeline of twenty palms and though you could not be a mother, you have always inspired me, like the character from a favorite story

reaching near and never touching, someone marvelous and unable to approach

I live sometimes with my eyes seeing through yours

the waves of your life nearing but never reaching, shore

at some point there will be a day when you are not simply absent and not around the corner

but further then, impossible to mend, hands of time, spent longing

it may be my song to want and not receive, the beauty that is you, and your life as it cleaves

further away, until from a great distance I cannot distinquish, squinting until my eyes hurt and run

I would if I could, but I never have, and I won’t

it is the theatre of our lives to play out

my role is that of thirsty

yours to make ordinary seem

extrodinary

you are the giver of dreams

I shall always wish

for one more day where I see

your figure coming closer through the dusk

perhaps to stay a while, even if we do not touch

I long, in layers, not to lose, what I have, not.

Stranger

Stranger

Has eight letters, two vowels, six consonants

Can be chopped to negative connotation, or extended to romantic suggestion

Strange people can find each other and feel …

Less estranged

Strangeness can become, familiar

Like the day before a storm brings the brightest day

There are angels walking among us

They may have sagging skin and loose jowels

Dirty fingernails and missing teeth

But their smile is a beacon, guiding lost ships to harbor

Only today I met one as I held the post office door open

She said “this will be your year” and her warmth was a well tended fire in my heart

We marry strangers who have become loved ones

Strange is stronger than blood

You have never been a stranger to me, the day I met you I forsaw

Us walking beneath wet trees, the deer, sillouetted between bare branches

Our wet gloves smashed together

Holding tighter

Than the fierce grip of Winter

The others heartbeat

Make as you will

A figure from paper

Layer each breath

Run glue until it shines

Keep all strength in

Let no part be feeble

Save us in our design

Fortify the bow, the stern and sides

Carve meaning in ancient symbol

Burn black, secret incantation

Deeper than dermis

Throw stones to guide direction

Light fires on shoreline and

Whisper to your proud, paper children

That your heart goes with them

As setting sail

Receeding into

Marmelade sun

You feel the undoing of the papier maiche ambelical chord

Ivory notes forming beneath weight of ocean

If they could speak

An ache as long and needed, turning flute to mother’s cry

Marveling that she survive

When separate, she and her child 

Like dancers at opposite stage end

Feel through the soles of their feet

The others heartbeat

Full

f64c917f731235b5604b2779ecb5e01bMy hand

resting a top yours

the same size in our shadow

you with little feet and longer ties

inheriting portions

 

I see in your eyes

the easement of life

as if you are in slow motion

falling gently behind yourself

going back in time

I think of the local cinema

being old enough to see over the railing

a film about a man plugged to a machine

all his memories flickering in retreat

until he is a fetus a heartbeat a blip

so far back he does not exist

 

is that you?

dissolving, reducing

I watch bread rise and moon’s sink

wonder at the circular motion of things

how I slept with a light on

now you remind me

not to close the door

my chest aches for what I long to give but cannot

 

it is as if you were born of me

my longing to love

I cannot make sense of why

but you were always the only one

my arms reach at night for your surround

 

I hear your voice on hungry chime of wind

all the pain blooms around me

like cancan girls frothing their scarlet hems

I remember bougainvillea climbing up the walls

can see you with your hair slicked back from the bath

steam rising in dark breeze

 

you made a circle of me and wore me around your neck

where I lay far too still listening to your heart beat

now we are divided by wire and thread

two half-made mannequins

no matter how far I stretch

I cannot reach your gaze

it stared listless at angry waves

as they build and recede

in the abyss of your memories