The Nightingale

Only anger

where there should be love

until we let it go

become nothing but empty

as we were before

ever finding

fickle road to emotion

all its vanity and its glory

the good and the not so

and in between, days of roses

turning their thorns into pricks of

passion and belonging

for I surely

have never dwelt in another place so deeply

as that space of you

nothing left after the hurricane

all memory fled and closed

like a cuckoo clock without bird

a hollow tree absent of owl

the indigo night and no

stars

lighting our way back

now, we can only go forward

stumbling blindly

a snowstorm, desert, running out

of reasons to put

one step in front of next

yet as humans we have this penchant

for survival at any cost

it is not always a pretty thing

sometimes our hair is gnarled

our very hide, matted and overgrown

we may never recover

the girl within who

let you in

but still in mornings earliest hour

before most things awake

there is a stillness, a hush

an abundance of hope

in slow shadows and still warm hearth

a wisp of your hair remains

caught in my brush

I will let no-one use it

it stands testimony

proof of breakage

I am not the girl I once was

coming to you with flowers

plaited with fullness of trust

we are both much older now

turning from copper

the green of rivers drowning

those early wants

carrying lightness down stream

leaving us in perpetuate shade

where you tell me to go on

without you

turn your back

becoming stone

on which I pound

my small fists until they

bruise, turn purple like

spring crocus pushing through

late snow

if saying it changed anything

you’d never leave

if love were a superpower

you’d always stay

but birds always migrate

come first cold night

every year they return

changed

still searching for

meaning in the

wetlands of life

I suppose I am

your soundless bird who fell from her

cage

wishing you would

scoop me up, make me

in your image

with the press of your devour

and when you

were absent long enough

the wide sky outside did not

beckon

I became a

nightingale

I inhabit

darkness

like a needle can pierce

velvet and leave

no

discernible

mark

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The shape of things to come

If you reap what you sew

if karma is real

if we get back what we give

if you make your bed and lie in it

then the heavy chain around my neck

is my own making

and the silence

is my doing

and the absence

is my creation

my dead babies dance with my ageing cat

whom I brought when I immigrated

we both came over in cages

though his was short term

and mine I did not pee in

tending the gravesites of my sins

lost loves, light candles

music gets me stoned and turned on

I think of you taking me in your arms

know you never will

that for a wordsmith

words when they have no power

are murdered

you left the knife in as you

walked away with your indifference

I slipped beneath water

clutching pocketful of rocks

I’d shown you my true self

you said it wasn’t enough

because I’d gotten old being loyal

you’d gotten old not keeping your word

now words are buried

along with portions of disguised anger

and my ability to trust

I can’t start over because I’m still

tied up, now I like it

it’s the perversion of the prisoner

of love

to want change and

in no way seek it

we have lost our fancy moves

I can’t fit into the illusion

we used to run in so well

so I take a step back

watch my slow motion fall

into frigid waters and slit wrists

where the only thing to touch me

is a memory of your words

meaning what they say

as you gather me like a bunch of roses

and get lost in my petals

before they loose

fall to the ground

the shape

of things to come

The deepest cut

an-apple-rotten-on-the-inside

It doesn’t take much to knock a bruised fruit to the floor

watch it split apart like rotted glass, shards of damp skin in slow motion

try as I might, I AM that bruised fruit

try as I might, I cannot seem to recover myself back to where

once took for granted, the feeling of wellness

it doesn’t help when someone you loved abandons you

in the middle of your darkest hour

things like that aren’t supposed to happen

people who swear allegiance and loyalty aren’t meant to

be the ones leaving your side

such is the hour and fickle fan of illnesses devour

at least I know I’d never treat someone, that poorly

despite this and because of it, healing is slower

though I suspect anything less than fire would be

I didn’t know these things beforehand

the un-annointed do not possess future perspective

to see how illness strips your childish faith, cleaves you

bare and gasping

where family didn’t need to see me, even as I spent weeks in hospitals

it cut me to the quick, but it wasn’t the first or the last

maybe preparing the groundwork for your deepest cut

they say you get used to it in time

I never have

just as I never have truly understood the cruelty within some, who profess so hard to love

now, I am a changed person

I cannot make plans like I used to, thwarted by my body, haunted by ghosts

my illness is like a cobra, she stays quietly in the leaves

rearing up when I least expect or when I want most to escape

her possession of me, the way she knows how to tickle fear

with just enough venom until I am on my knees

I am sure some would say, this is therefore; psychosomatic

that it what they tell all women of hysterical turn

I saw in your eyes when I told the horror; your own disbelief

until doctors produced the proof, you still wondered

it became apparent to me, just like with sexual assault

being believed is paramount to recovery

alongside having faith in ourselves

I did not do a good job of the latter

finding myself more alone than when I started

and I thought I started pretty alone

I know I am a survivor and I was not destroyed

yet it feels like I was

when I look inside myself and find

so little left, a house without windows

it was only because of you, I kept trying

I told you that, I said, you were holding me up

when you let go

I fell to a place I did not know existed

I wanted to ask; Couldn’t you have just waited

long enough to see me through the worst?

but you wait for nothing except your own need

I had to find a way to stand even as everything crumbled around me

which is the biggest test I ever had and I failed it

I failed it again and again

walking through the lullaby of desiring to die for so many reasons

not least, the never-ending dance with sickness and pain

but somehow I did not die, I turned instead to stone

when people say I am strong now and ask; How did you get through it?

I don’t tell them; I am not through it

I still lurch and shake in the throes of unnamed demons and at night

I feel like an arythmic god has taken me and is spinning me

on high-speed like all my parts are made of jello

I want to ask that god; what is it you are trying to shake loose?

surely you know by now there is no more fruit left

not even the rotten kind

that fell and split and sunk into earth, a long, long time ago

it is only me remaining now; leafless, without sturdy branches

I cannot rely upon myself, I cannot rely upon promises

no longer a young, untouched tree with green shoots

I am damaged, broken and hobbled, by this specter and the unknown

as much as by those I knew and trusted

asking why to the imploring void; why are we stricken down?

to what do I owe my continuing? Even as it is, insubstantial

can they see in my eyes, when I pretend, I am trying not to gag?

my appetite spirited away by the scourge and never returned

I would die of hunger and not know it

were it not for some strange determination

I don’t know where that comes from

but as I stand, it must be a place within me

does not give up, as she did not, all those years ago when

the flames licked the top of my house and burned, everything I knew to cinder

I am not like the rest of the world; stronger for my poison

nor am I able to disguise my scars

if I were asked what recommended me; I could not answer

I would probably open my mouth and howl

because you can reinvent yourself, a million times it seems

I am just one incarnation, coming apart at badly mended edges

you, who are able to vault life in gentle sprint, must mock

I am after all, just a fallen fruit, lasting as long as she can

in imperfect, bruised skin

Not even ourselves

Why and when did people stop being interested?

as kids we would sit on benches and talk about our pain

there seemed then, such a mercy in the air

it hung like cobwebbed dew around us and

despite the hardships we bore, our friends were

our succor

Why and when did people stop being interested?

and grief was labeled an annoyance?

why does growing-up mean we no longer write

poems like this

do we no longer feel the same

or just hide it away?

and if it is hidden how does it stay so

with the swell and the surge and the blistering salt

I hear rain falling into a tin can somewhere

and briefly I remember eating out of cans in summer

my lips sticky with apricot

it was a luxury then and my grandmother carefully

spooned each peachy globule out and added ice-cream

I hated the taste of ice-cream and I loved

the feeling of lying high in a big tree smelling apple leaves

in those days

when tragedy struck

we children who are called resilient

had the hope or the armor of youth

and the cherish of our friends

I saw her running toward me across the fields separating our houses

her red hair and freckled face red with exertion

we ate stale cucumber sandwiches left over from her mother’s

garden party and she held my hand in her own

clammy seedy palm

as if I were a starfish

I told her of my disappointments and the ache in my chest

all those who had forsaken and gone their own way

with the wisdom of child she wrinkled up her eyes against the sun

told me what I needed to do was pretend I didn’t care a damn

because one day you’ll grow up and nobody will be able to hurt you

I held onto that advice like a piece of paper framed in my chest

but it wasn’t true it wasn’t true

and I wonder where she is now

if she has children

if she is the same kind of mother she was as a friend

if I could see her again I would say

thank you for giving me the hope to get to this point

maybe it wasn’t true, maybe adults fool themselves into

thinking they are not children with ageing hearts and

brittle bones

maybe being an adult is harder than any childhood

because you don’t have afterwards to dream of

and the future as yet unsummoned

with all your magic and all your wistfulness

seen through the eyes of someone not old enough

to know the reality

I would tell her don’t tell your children the truth

let them dream as we did just a bit more

where I can still hear my grandmother knocking over pots

as she makes an apple pie and the smell

of summer is all about us in a haze

and your red hair makes mine look blonde

and your freckles tan your legs whilst mine remain blue

and your hand in mine is the first hand of friendship

I would thank you for running when I called

because nobody has run since and I suspect

adults have ways of doing things

us children never quite understand

I’m thinking if I could choose a side

I’d go through time and clasp your wrist and run

into the high grass fields out the back and where

nobody would find us

not even ourselves

years from now

Erasure

Unrecoverable

People with holes in their chests

I got used to

opening books and reading the last page

reading lips in the dark

sharing a bed with nightmares

I got used to

your outline, emptied of care

squeezed dry these years

dessicated by slow fruiting rage

we lay as blue eggs will

in a basket of woven thorns

clucking over regrets, like weary card players at dawn

you gave me a cocktail of poison

I the dreary tread of error

it took a life time and a match

struck against willing rock

to burn the illusion

and gather ourselves whole

Even as spilt ways form streams

Cleaving together seemed

The natural passage of people with holes in their chest

Tasting the arrow as it exits

Where then? The other part of me

Located in your similarity

A death not proffered but needed

I, a bag put down, not retrieved

They mocked when she wept

Pointed at her words and said;

Her humiliation and dramatic way

Is overblown and immature

You nodded in agreement

Because she was no longer part of your wield

A flung thing to be lost and spoiled

Once you would have defended with your life

Told them; It is you / with your cruel minds / who should be ashamed

That was when we walked as one print

Beneath patterned trees still living, holding to

A belief some knots cannot come undone

it wasn’t true … our knot I saw dissolve

As you baptized change with solvent certainty

Moved toward it and away from me

Did I ever say … without you I

Thin-rooted and growing side-ways

Slowly fail?

I did?

Ah. Then.

I must have missed

Your response.