Rest

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The road lays sighing, a malachite lover glistening with rain

behold the skinned miracle

what do you want of this fresh-gulped air

turning back time

see?

reparation comes and clothes you in new chance

what will you do with your renewal?

sit underneath the lilac tree watching the old dog believe he is young

dipping his paw in his reflection, catching torment of bird song

lightly

calico tread

the smell of electricity and humus

sending everything into hushed abeyance

her lovely neck lain against low caramel light

bewitching

what need of more?

speeding cars on wet surfaces sing fitting carols

birds attempt to out sing the other

worms clasp at water’s edge

I hear myself sigh

content

would that it last a life time

some say never get easy

always do what unsettles you

but for our electrified minds

it is only in billowed silence

we rest our fever

Iris Chang (part of the #unsung heroes series)

Iris-Chang-264x400

Why must the insightful carry the greatest weight?

in their teeth like a bit crunching down until they break

teeth all over the place, white against the dark

enamel lasts long after we are gone

your words are never broken Iris

the love others held for you cannot be undone

by spectacle or ire, you are immune now

as beautiful as you were in life your memory not forgotten

eulogized in statues and prophecy, courage in bronze

such is the legacy of those who live to help others

you shone a light where no light had been shone

perhaps it invited unbidden demons and the silk worm

perhaps it made you mad and rageful in Louisville

who can say what fuse is lit, how long it burns or

whether others haunt us to our fatal choice?

but who would not feel horror when unveiled

the gruesome atrocity of what humans are capable

your Nanking chronicles, bravely revealed

blowing your silver whistle over lies

whether secret hands held you down

commanding, speak not, no more truth released

or you became absorbed in the tragedy you wrote

my hope is you gaze down, aware of the love held

your beautiful face gracing the cover of your mom’s book

a legacy unfurling, one step, two, ever more

you will always rise higher than you thought

such is the way of the guide

needing sometimes to turn from her gift back to the world

to see the beauty held in their own

reflection

 

“The woman who could not forget: Iris Chang before and beyond The Rape of Nanking by Ying-Ying Chang (mom) and The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang.”

part of the hash-tag #unsung (heroes) series.

Ecstasy denied

tumblr_llxw06ogqm1qzn4kzo1_1280Here’s a moment of a girls’ life

it flickers, it flickers like a skirt, caught on a black railing, rented, torn, pried apart, and released, to flap, uselessly and without form

she’s lost her purse, her lipsticks rolled behind the bus and she didn’t put on her hose just right

the seams you see, they’re supposed to line up at the back where her heel hits the smooth patent of her shoe like how the girls in WW2 did it except they used eye-brown pencils because silk was needed for parachutes, oh and who can afford the cost of the worm?

that’s the way it should have turned out, fixing her seams, walking in with a kick and a smile, wooing her audience, beguile them, beguile them and they shall fall helplessly

exercise in futility, that’s not her, she doesn’t do performance art, that’s the image of her projected by those who believe, with her lips, and her green eyes, she’s kryptonite, such a bad bet, she’s a lame horse who prefers the stable, all those shrines to her potential, before she drank too much anxious about oh, more or less, everything in the world

and drinking they say, even in France now, is not du rigor but ruled out, if you wish to avoid your one out of eight women gets breast cancer statistic, what the hell? How to survive without sipping it down? Letting fermentation do its ritual on her guts, lifting her back into the gilded frame

she wished she were a boy, boys can still drink, boys don’t wear hose, they don’t have to worry as much if their armpits stink and they won’t have another boy tell them that their breasts sag when they rise up and clasp the void

if she were a boy she’d want to be a pretty boy the kind that other boys would probably hit on, with a large top lip and gleaming hair, because pretty gets you candy and she has a sweet tooth

if she were a pretty boy she’d try out fucking a girl just to know what it felt like

to be a version of herself with other body parts

would the girl look at her with frightened eyes, hooded and suspicious like a Russian doll, daub her sides with ancient gild, would she open her legs only because she wanted what you held back, in your frayed pocket, tightly wrapped, here it is, take a mouthful, bitter taste, will we live longer in our knowledge? The apple glows in the darkness from its position alone hanging from the lower branch of knowledge.

when she wakes up in the night and holds her singed hair back, hugging porcelain throne vomiting what she’s learned time and time again just doesn’t stay down

couldn’t she purchase another way of coping?

apparently pills have their own set of demons

she learns the art of the mask and strips for the doctor who takes his swab. It’s a painless test he lies, grimacing as he breaks her bones and pries denial apart, you won’t feel a thing

and then everything turned blue and the water didn’t stop running down the sink in the wrong direction and the clocks lost their hands and rolled into glue sticking to the inside of her emptiness, where no life was, sharing its wasteland

on E she danced until the fat at the top of her clavicle, that little jiggle you get when you drink lots of milk as a child and push your little breasts together, grew and people said well … don’t you have a fine pair on you?

not really she’d think if you could see how long it takes to get this look, all the tape in the world, and they’re still not really sticking

a bit like her, unhinged at one corner, asking; peal me back see what’s underneath

her own preference was for girls with skinny chests and protruding nipples she felt they were saying fuck you to every kind of lame expectation, their knife-like hip-bones, shaving her under the sheets like the incisors on wolves, the anger glowing in their eye, a Cheshire cat with blade

but she was too soft for that hard look and wore instead the conicular implements of torture Madonna had cast off

looking back it was fucking embarrassing

when did she learn authenticity? On the way home from the hospital when it rained and the dried blood on her legs, wound down her legs like a cat’s tail and smeared the grass beneath? she saw only mouths open, trying to speak, what do they want to say?

authenticity died between her legs and grew cold in formaldehyde and the rubbing of fingers itching for a cigarette

walking the streets homeless, holing up in an office during night hours, smelling the feet of those who worked there during the day kicking their shoes off

stains on the office sofa that never came off

when he would deliver her bag of drugs and she paid him with herself because she had nothing else

how much would that equate per kilo?

quite a good bargain all things considered, it was like he said, she made him act that way by the tilt of her head

I’m only tilting my neck to get a better view of the strippers on Wardour street she’d say standing at the window, neon blinking in and out, in and out, little panties not yet showing their wear and tear, don’t worry they soon will undo their pretty dark pink bows

he told her you have the smallest waist you look like a french dancer in a Toulouse Lautrec painting

I am a french dancer she would reply and smoke a Sobranie to the gold rim to make the point

gimme a break, you don’t even like Ricard Pastis and those cigarettes are Russian

you’ve got a point there, Pernod is vile, mix me something chopped up, cut it fine, I want to hear music, open your eyes, open your fucking eyes so I can hear

I like the taste of aniseed

I hate it, it reminds me of my grandfather’s fingers and that imported saddle soap he used, when I looked into his throat he had coals burning there, they could extinguish your heart just by breathing on you

change the record / or you’ll kill the mood

he was always in the mood, even when he hated her he wanted to ransack her empty space

lucky she licked the bag clean or her price would be too high, nothing is too much for a fistful of dynamite

I wish I could live inside you, he would whisper, eyes already rolling like a horse about to be led to slaughter, to the exit sign

christ I can’t think of anything worse, she’d reply into the pillow, limbs trembling, her neck aching with his pummel

how long can it go on? can you make yourself wet when you’re faking? Or do you have to run to the bathroom and stick your fingers down your throat? Fake sudden illness to avoid an overdose of you

back in the days when her bladder was strong she could take a pounding and not need to pee afterward, they used to say, you can eat motherfucking hot curry, be given one like a sailor and still walk straight

how many sailors were bent over themselves and filled with whiskey and crab claws she wondered

but you stand up too long, with eyes on your back unpicking your defenses it gets harder

how many times can you shout, oh yeah baby just like that, just like that, you’re the best

he is hard he is inside her he feels like metal she feels like clover and the bees the bees swarm around her obscuring her open mouth the color of raspberries

that’s why she never cuts her hair you can hide so far inside if you carve out a tree and wait patiently for the thorns to do their climb

the wood cuttings of her twins mocking her sins, cooing; what a dirty little girl, you turned out well darlin

I want my moneys worth, he would say half in jest, nostrils crusted with crystal, beckoning her with dirty fingers

take the blue pill, take any pill, watch yourself swallow, there you go, to bed now child, tomorrow will be another show starting at six pm promptly and ending, never

she’d pretend she was sea anemone, anyone else, the girl outside in Soho gyrating to some euro pop song her long fake nails glittering against piercings speaking rapid Lithuanian into a pink phone

her nipples hurt where he burned them with his need to leave a mark, a tattoo artist without his equipment he improvised his layers of penetration

give me something to remember bitch or I’ll make it hurt more

she thud lifelessly above him like an unmoared boat seeking harbor, half-conscious with sorrow, afterward she lay closed off and drugged, as peaceful as an envelope that has been licked shut

and never, ever, ever did she learn to undo, the need to exclude herself from the world

so where’s her next fix? how does she stop wanting it to fill her veins with code

listening to the grind of the world outside, a room with a view boarded over and willingly comatose, two words inscribed on her tomb, ecstasy denied

 

Re-deliver

thNo

you can’t be

you died giving birth

legs gaping

mouth heaving out

curses

you stained my forehead

with the yolk of an egg

meant for curanderos

to interpret

your throat as long

as two hands encircling

a belly tearing out

her burden

your lovers wore felt

holding their hats in nicotine fingers

instead of joining you

theirs was the watchful crow

blue in lamplight

touch the fleeing blood

growing cold on lynx tiles

she was your lover

all of you shared her

grief and easement

like a tenancy of trombones

blowing cold you are

unable in your tarnish

to re-deliver her

scolded by her nature she is

bound by insemination

pushing against her wet thighs

a different kind of urge

get it out get it out get it out

her eyes inherit the cataracts of her

blind ancestors

you rue the days you turned her like a book

leafing through her cavities

planting your frustration in her deep recess

not thinking for a future

where blood makes palm prints

on her hot cheeks and as she lifts in agony

you recall her climax and breathe in

the stale dusk of death

ushering life on the tail end of

unwanted consequence

here is your daughter

she stands naked and boneless

sucking your inability to

grow dignified and wise

you fidget in your plastic seat

as her hands grip your weakness by the stem

enveloping provocation as

men will reach for their reflection

one last time

smoke to the last

their comfortable curse

feet reddened by women

who die beneath

deed

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

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

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