For Paul

016_imogen-cunningham_theredlistIn the other place of keeping

afterward when door is softly closed

and light extinguished

where flowers bloom without need of sun

perfuming air with unseen stamen

at last you are unburdened, free of torment

we sit at oiled wood table

eating buttered toast with fingertips

you tell me of  real things

that time you fell into a river as

you reached for tires swinging overhead

just one more inch and you’d have been saved

from submerging with oily fish

and yet you say, it taught you

the value of sinking and how quiet

beneath the world can be

where creatures with opaque eyes glide past

watching you try to breathe

they called it a near drowning

you claimed second-sight

we shuffle our checkers, mindful

it’s your turn to win tonight

 

for Paul

you were a brother of sorts

sprinting ahead of jostling crowd

lean and bronzed by effort

your heart a flutter of machination

once you said, now I am old

and I laughed and reminded you

there’s so much time left

except you knew

and I did not

time can collapse upon itself

just as it begins so it can end

all the days we spent waiting for the next

better to live now and climb

that tree to sling rope and dangle seat

children long after us

will come to the river and watch

each others fear and then wonder

jumping into the void

and as you are gone

I clear away the plates and ready for the next day

not sure it will be free of rain

I hear you outside among the trees

you are laughing at me

for my fear of things I cannot know

remember, you say, it’s not about control

it’s about having the courage to try

I watch you walk toward the river

you are straight and lean again

no scars, no pain cross your way

I want to go with you but you have told me

it is not yet time

we’ll play again, be patient

master this moment

live now in the warm rush of water

watching overhead

moving clouds turning from blue to white

and then to grey

 

For Paul. You counted, and you mattered.

 

Disabused

dee1425102310418306849166b24e12din the shape of hurt

disabused crumbs that should have been cleared up

leave indents in her skin

the dirty light lets in patterns

betraying themselves in dent

sophomoric hush of fan

blowing away evidence

her nose stung

from her plunge

into white rabbit’s secret stash

her thighs burned

from the price

all dare-devils pay

her lips hurt

where he bit them

stain the world red

baby

he said

and pushed her head

down where the glory

hole and the mad hum

met and danced

in fish net

fling yourself open

oh no please don’t

smile until your skin peaks off

they’ll never know

pensive sadness limbering in the wings

hide …. hide

behind the downcast flicker

comedians you see, are often glad to make you laugh

for they get

in audience

to bedazzle

through the glamor you hide yourself

a slow leak of helium

deflating

out of sight

lest we reveal

motioning truth

behind our tight, painted smile

they made a pact

to promise the impossible

and she did

because to her

nothing was impossible

she could hold her breath

swim all the way to the end

rubber bricks don’t scare her

she is made of water

hefting it from its press

her fingers cramp

she tells herself

this is just like every day

we get up …. we hold on

grasping harder, she pulls

surfacing to the sound

of suffered world

with its groans and verucca socks

a response to noise

to lie just beneath

the surface

glimmering

letting fawn dappled light

reach through

Pesadilla

retrato-sobre-la-pesadilla-de-tener-quintillizos-gana-premio1Dreams

when they turn ugly

are the more familiar landscape

and taste real in their message

though I drive them out

like wolves from the lambs gate must

be refused

prophecy or fear demands

we turn the taste of metal in our mouths

wondering which alchemy

holds the pick

to let us out of this clink

wrists accustomed to confine

sometimes I climb inside the nightmare

looking for signs and meaning

did one mind really create this world?

why am I so talented at weaving

the wrong perspective and

so weak in my try out for cheer?

was it the day I was left alone

to forage and forget how to be

one of you

or in wandering too far from the path

did I eat poison and lapse into a sleep

from which I am still part?

is this real or

do the hands of my foes

restraining wakefulness

feel the heavier and familiar both?

for we learn to grind our own grain

the sounds the pain

separate the chaff from the seed

who is and who is not

trust the mask

trust the god

trust the cat who sphinx like will

scratch and spit

they say women have no sisterhood

and circumcision can rent our heat

they veil us and shave us bald

we stand in our sagging against the merit

and scald

I recall once hearing a woman berated

for not sucking deep enough

without needing to see

I felt her knees ache, her back bend

her neck like a wilted flower

given out of obligation not affection

it taught me

to suck long and hard

in hope I could

remove the stopper holding us down

bursting we’d climb

out of our bottle

genii’s in rags

what would the world do if

men became pregnant and jin

held the whip?

what would the world do

if women no longer tore at each other

with blackened nails?

what would the world do

if I learned the way home

and nightmares were left to fringe

the lonely woods beyond

where crows pecked the gloat

exulting in their horror

what would I do

if I woke up whole

and climbing out of a sun filled bed

went downstairs to breakfast

and there you were

your arms out, your knives dull

sitting at the table set for all of us

Shards

dscn1772-2There is an edge

ever-changing, indescribable

and as you turn your shoulder

thinking the sun has only burnt

one side

the other is latticed

in marks of your exposure

as things of darkness will crawl

deep inside you like a well without end

and build with whitened fingers

their hungry descent

until you are changed

even as you taste the salt of your tears

staining your face like damage

blackening light into rotten parts

tearing your wings to pieces

it’s been so long you forgot

once you were able to climb

high into sky and feel something

unknown now like a lover

who has turned to enemy and stranger

instead without warning

the edge presents itself

in terrible hour like a sharp knife

one moment you are clinking glasses

smiling into the camera

and others remark

goodness she’s aged well

look how happy she looks

the next you are ripping the lies

from your arms, all that glitters

tearing into shreds artifice

tying together knots in hope

they can end

the sudden terror inhabiting you

always cruelest when it shows

just as you believe you might

have escaped

yoking you back

get on your knees

here you are, here you are

your toes grip the edge

you see the emptiness below

much like what lies inside

untethered, unnamed

for who can put a word

to terror? to hopelessness?

who can place a finger on the place

the rot set in and began

to devour the person you once were?

leaving a scarecrow

others do not see inside

the stuffing ready to ignite

they only see the perfect smile

accoutrements without truth

glittering like shards of glass

scattered in the night

You begin me

vvvvLay your hands on me

braced against bad weather

what a welcome

coming in from the cold

It’s every time you gather me close

all I can hear is your heart

beating like

Gabriel’s drum of skin

at the beginning of the world

you

begin me

with each

breath

forming laborious as

fatigued children

stubbornly persist

to dance

with half sleeping limbs

slack and graceless

In their abundant honesty

unguarded weariness

not intoxicate enough

to peel them from an ache

for music reveals

your song

If translated

portioning day into ribbons

each wreath a moment

pressed behind slide

to reexamine in mind palace

the sound of life

cymbals beneath earth

flutes and oboe forming wood

paper as soft as hide

writing our language by intoned key

first a rise, a fall, a swell

contagious momentum picking

up trained netting drawing flickering

into chalice

drunk deeply by fingers of pyre

dipping their ember quills

thirsty ducks carving water

coming up for air

gleaming plumage

reflecting our shape

silhouetted love

It’s every time you gather me close

all I can hear is your heart

beating like

Gabriel’s drum of skin

at the beginning of the world

you

begin me

Softly by the spoonful

33879402735_73c9d87faf_kThere exist still

people who were born when the world

like a split fig, bequeathing aubergine center

was half the size

in a fabled time when

individuals could be appreciated

for more than their overt strip-tease

hot and pulsing on flashy poles oiled by media

consumption

 

my grandmother

with her perfect straight teeth

and flossy hair refusing to be tamed

called a beauty in her day

would never have held up now

a corn maiden left to rot in untended field

days then, of gentle reproaching and

beguiling unknown

how intoxicate to consider, what you cannot reach

where now, less possesses such mystery

in its hoard of foil

than generations guarding jailers keys to reaching secrets

you could think all your life you were set

in one direction like weather vane, divining nature

and upon the death-bed of your elders, find out

nothing you rolled in your palm, was true

not even the dice you flung impatiently forward

 

for now we have proof

and proof is not

like a closed oven door

raising cake or bread

proof can rob us of dreaming

and those imprecisions and improvision

making fantasies stick like early

peas fattened against their husk

 

now the only fantasy

is waking up to become someone else

soon they will have us inhabiting machines

thinking ourselves free

maybe the irony will be

in those metal cases our brains

will grow mercurial wings

we are after all, rather fickle things

thinking ourselves to immortality

as Icarus searched to quench

his melting dissolution

 

I don’t share this ache to overcome my nature

it is my wish to lay me down and sleep

fertilizing the next seed

so when they say eat your greens

if you do, you may be the one in six to reach triple digits

I secretly chew and spit into black soil

preferring the liquor of a shorter candle

if I lived that long

nothing of the world I once loved

would remain

 

Buddhists say

live in the moment, not past, nor future

but I am a backward bespeckled girl

with a tilted womb and trigger finger

I am a girl who was partially born

with patched lazy eye and pigeon toe feet

I inherited bunions from my father who

stole them from his grandmother

she was blind with cataracts and still able

to see clearly

don’t live in the city, she chided him

the country boy who sought

museums on sunday’s instead of church

you’ll always be lonely, she prophesied

and he was

staring out windows at tall buildings

with long faces, void of harmony

 

whilst I leaned more toward my ancestors

who tilled fecund earth with prematurely calloused hands

finding peace in silent prose press of peat

to nourish encroaching tides of meaningless

gabled society can bring

 

from my mother I gained

some wit and spark

but also the propensity to climb inside myself

so far I didn’t know how to trust

and when it rains and the weather shifts

its turbulence

my head aches with clamoring change

an internal disturbance like children

playing band with pots and pans

it was always the habit of myself

to disbelieve the town crier

hefting his false bell

handing out sugar for the children

and pills for heavy-lidded adults

back in time I stood

warming my small hands against radiators

gloves wet from snow thawing

capture of damp wool in sticky air

the psychiatrist said

did you come here alone and you are only twelve?

I wanted to tell him

how many times I learned the way forward

without hands or trace

but some truths are best kept

behind your surface

he told me something I have never forgotten

it is the unkindness of those familiar

scars us worse of all

than any cut from a stranger

yet still

grief is a thing of feathers loosened by seizure

as rain will envelope sound, cutting off from usual ways

we tread deeper into ungulate symphony

he said; somebody should have loved you better

and I watched

my gloves shrink ever so slightly

as loose wool pulled taut in warmth

just as I

will lean into glassy light composed of grainy prism

away from those who string their netted words

higher and higher in hope of catching

butterflies

 

it is summer now

the sprinklers in gardens come alive at night

catching mating dragonflies unaware

lightly slapping window panes as they arc

and fall

the cat will only seek to step

on cooling tiles when sun has set

and behind my eyes if you looked

a hundred cages stand emptied

where generations have flown

toward the sea and diminishment

 

I know

as I feel the tilt of myself shift like

long seated shadows will at last

urge toward darkness

the slightest ember could ignite

this fragile ballet of footprints and placement

as tables set for breakfast loam in nightfall

specters in deletion, we rise and consume

time and understanding

softly by

the spoonful

People 

samantha-sophia-195015People

May rifle through your life

Like pick pockets

Climb inside your privacy

Invade your quiet

They may leave traces

In your life line

Becoming family

Or staying just a season

You will wish many times

Not to answer their call

Tend to their needs

Spend your time building vines

From their vineyard to yours

But solitude

Is a hard

Endless

Winter

Only the most robust survive

Sometimes when you think

You’re better off

Isolated

Drifting off the main land

You’re over estimating

Your ancestors only got this far

Because of family

Relationships

Strangers become friends

To give you the privilege to choose

How much of a social animal

You

Want to be

But never forget

Yours is not the soul

Of a white snow leopard

Stalking endless silence

Cut off from her kind

Your kind were monkeys

Chattering noisily in trees

Yes it makes you blush

Wishing you were less a creature of gossip and small talk

But without snow boots you cannot

Hope to wade the drifts

They will consume the bravest heart of almost anyone

As searching in nothing but ourselves

We find less than expected