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

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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

 

The growing chronicles #2 The broken glass


You had sat in the window ledge

of everywhere I lived over the years

light pouring through your

green glass making familiar

new destinations with known

you came all the way from Italy

when I saw the world through your colors

I saw the world differently shining into rooms

 

It had come down to this

either you or I

would break

you gave me preview

as fate will a look inside

what will happen, the night before

when you wobbled and nearly

tipped from your place

a warning

next time I will not be so fortunate

 

and I

chose to ignore

the peril

knowing

if not you

it would be myself

breaking into pieces

all over the floor leaving

shards of color ground to dust

through which another

world could exist

 

I swept you up

fat tears dropping

magnifying with saline

my apology

that it had to be

your sacrifice

not my courage

to beseech the spectacle of existing

and save another day

I may then

shatter with you

Just when she thought she was complying, she raged and broke apart

Things at a distance …

The child learns

Not to burn herself on cooker top

Not to hold someone to their word

People don’t always return

Love

Things learned at a distance

Words do not describe reality

Reality is not as they say

Life is funny and tastes of rain

One moment it flows then everything stops

Changes course

And you

Child

Sometimes you are forgotten

For adults

Don’t always recall

The necessity of keeping their word

 

And that child

Grew with restraint and without rule

Clad in scraps of query and uncertainty

Unobserved, she learned not to learn

She didn’t sharpen her pencil and master how to take orders

Her mind they thought gifted but her’s was just a glib mouth with fast words

Sounding beneath the press of water, betraying its weight

Underneath she had no end to her dislike of being told what to do

And they told her

You’ll regret the way you are

Discipline helps breed patience

Patience is honed a virtue

She had none

Never learning her multiplication tables or grammar

She slipped as she ran

Away from the rod

He’d hit her you see, too much, and caused a break

Until she didn’t know how to mend her cracks

Only fury lay

Between her fingers spread against the sun

Silly frivolous fury, the kind girls are mocked for

Usually they are scolded, Child don’t you know? Real suffering exists! True pain! And you have so much and you dare say you are discontent?

Even the shame of knowing on the outside she was a white parody of excess and indulgence

With her predictable dysfunctions all signs of a weakness of spirit

Delving into emptying with hands tied by nurture and the unbearable shake of seeing

If you just got up every morning and jogged, if you just put that cigarette down

You save yourself you know

Of course she knew and like a woman weighted with stones she wanted to walk deeper into the water because every scratch of her fabric was flawed

Why did you let me be born?

Why not give my time to a marvelous well-adjusted mind who will study science and never play hooky?

She played it all the time and had nothing to prove nor music within her movement

No piano to learn

As long as someone

Who wanted to learn

Would

 

And she

Wished to walk in olive groves hurting her bare feet with dry shrub

As the Corfu sun burned her scratched arms

Creating ugly stains for how she felt inside

Marks of time mottling her skin

Brands of all the times she tried not to be

Herself

And invariably

Returning to the mirror time and again, a looking-glass behind her eyes

There was her father’s jaw and elongated forehead

His thin red weathered skin tried by the hour

When they found out some DNA was stronger and certain people were genetically likely to outlast others

She laughed

Because she’d known that for years

You only had to taste the quality of their time

and in the future

They ran dry like a Texan Arroyo long baked by merciless sun

 

Her father once said

You reap what you sew

and she has thrown herself into air

With no seeds and no design

Just the bare howl of being aware

Knowing the grief she was ashamed and compelled by

Ticking in her imperfect hiccup of a soul

Unable to avoid the error of her need

To rebel against the majority who never seem to mind

But plod perfectly in time to some hidden chant

While she spun, losing ground, hurting and grasping

Never ready to fit herself into a shape commensurate with moving forward

If there were an edge to the world she’d be the one to push herself

Off

Reawaken

thThe things we hide on the inside

become necklaces

of gilded ears

sharpened by arrow heads

daring to leave the shingle

for swollen mouths of water

big and discolored

the sound of anvils

aching to strike

If I could I would

reach into decoupage

pull out damp envelope 

with large words and self corrected emotions

cutting through paper made of souls

read your varnished secrets

let them roam

beyond lacquered confine

of what is safe and secure

until they pulp our learn

split, break and reawaken

even without wings, chewing ourselves new

we can glide on thin papier-mâché tips

glimmering in linseed oil, to Kashmir and back

if we believe

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