reminding themselves they can still fly

Only so much can be said of birds, or landscapes

yet grief? Grief is a world incapsulated in a tear

held to the sun and magnified, its kaleidoscope of color

without end

and while you may see me sitting at this table

with dried flowers catching wan Winter sun

my face a careful study of emotion beneath surface

I am actually at this very moment

lying on the unwashed floor

feeling cold tile invade my pores

just like the virus who crept into my stomach

changing everything like zealous house cleaner

see, on the floor I can curl up like I did as a child

pretend I am a dragon again, where ageing and its horrors

or just the spite of unbidden sickness

will not come for me, because I am no longer real.

The sun light will fade and with it, shadows come

reminders of our ephemerality

a dance with what is and what is no longer

the ghosts of my grandparents waltz beneath pear trees

their necks bent to dark skies, mouths slack with amusement

I thought then, nothing could disturb the fabric of the world

because youth told me so

and lies were easy to sew

delusion, such a merry friend

now it is not as easy and like them, my mask grows weary

often wishing to climb into bed and read

stories of others who have lived and died

sitting at tables, lying on floors, looking upward, open mouthed

finding ways to express the horror and brief respite

of coping with pain

I so admire those souls who laugh

though I suspect sometimes they simply do not think

of how things really sit

and that’s all right

because there’s no one way

of getting through this

the birds, maybe they know other means

perhaps that is why they migrate and it is has

less to do with warmth and more to do with

reminding themselves

they can still fly

(Expecting To Fly, by Buffalo Springfield, one of the best songs of the era https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzMl0-bhNcM&t=25s)

Tempera

Query feels like a brand though it comes with veil

the doctors say, phantom pain becomes step mother

to fragile veins

first one to freeze come a cold snap

ready for tindering a bristling fire

at noon I want to eat warm eggs from your palm

touch your vermillion paint brush to my own face

feel the render of tempera against parchment

without any contempt for you, I wish you gone

but ink dries fast in the cold, it’s a myth it takes a warm day

to run a bath and slit your wrists

they never ask why, only how

the fire trucks blink like fallen damsons on melting streets

it was your enemy knocked on the door, broke it down, carried you out

not laughing at your slack form, the way your hair when wet

thins into dismal life line

the bequeath of surprise leaves us wordless

I with my bandages, you with your newly found soul

the sweetness of sharing this clementine center almost makes us forget our mutual hatred

to burn in respective votive, prayed to by sinners, also cherishing the role of loathing

dying is a slow storm, coming in squall, lost to its own menace

we leave the phone off the hook and become masks affixed to unpainted wall

maybe the next inhabitants will lift them gently from their nail

and remark before painting

that they left no shadow

Not written down in history

The lonely heart

of a girl

who liked her own

kind

is not written down in history

there are few

stories of this

quiet, often eclipsed, furtive, secret

kind of longing

less even spoke aloud or transcribed

for what could be said? Admitted?

Instead, there are, no doubt

trees growing exceptionally redolent

nourished with the grieving, private hearts

of girls throughout history

who buried their flesh

beneath tender roots of a sapling

when it became abundantly clear

their tongues served them no purpose

in speaking of a love

no-one wanted.

These girls … I wonder

about them, sometimes as I tramp

red cheeked and furious

up hill side, when sitting still and

desiring felt like cold bars of a jail cell

seeing above me the wielding kite and her

long expanse, mocking almost with her freedom

for fierce she is, unable to

be anything but predator

time lapses into a series of vignettes

childhood (unknowing/confused) adolescence (odd/ill-fitting)

youth (empty bed/scolded faces of young men who do not understand

why no matter what they do, they endear

not)

older (disappointment/scrolled dating sites, dark bars with groping

strangers, you wouldn’t share a car ride with)

a wish always

for the girl over the moors

her long black hair tumbling like a question mark

the iridescence of her eyes, startling, bold

quit of falseness, a truth enveloping us both

without need of pretense, shyness left in fog

to hold the hand of someone who understands

and wishes to pull you through

where magic still resides in ellipsis and mist.

They do not invite single women of a certain age

to celebrate. When everyone would feel

uneasy, no children to talk about

flourishing career to brag of, she is not anything more than

everything to one person, outside that

sphere, she feels lost, disjointed, unable to fit closely

the pieces of irregularity, between her own wishes

and that of everyone else. They stare at her

over coffee cups, watching as if she were

a different species, something odd and inexplicable

cut at irregular angles, spilling out of bondage

saffron infused thoughts, plastered to her wet head

like a seal exploring depths, her stockings uneven

ragged with snares, mimicking internal

conflict, why she couldn’t pose for the camera

lips pursed in obliging, skirt wrinkle free,

hands hidden beneath cardigan, their

eternal fidget repressed with the incalculable

strength of effort it takes women to remind silent

say nothing, speak not with their roaming eyes

the magnificence of their private entreaty.

Oh to reveal, peal off layers, ransack propriety

and launch, full mast, happy crew, into the ocean

where loving was loving anyone, invited equally

to christenings, thanksgiving, birthday’s

not whispered about; behind fans, fingers, computer

screens, the lascivious imagination of mild mannered

disgust, spread liberally on morning toast.

“What do they DO?” (behind closed doors)

“was she like THAT with you?” (you should be so lucky)

“are they man-haters?” (only if you join in the cacophony)

“her mother must be so disappointed” (eternally).

I’m not disappointed

with you, us, swimming upstream, lily pads, green light

breaking up mosaic thought

bring it on

bring it on

we urge in our confident hour, no longer strange in shadow

by fire, by tokens in dark, wagging their tongues

and then, weary, tired of the fight, we stop

holding hands in public, the glare, a sunburn on

our fragile necks we stay modest, interior

house plants straining for sufficient light

when they don’t invite us, when I remain

alone waiting for you, weeks upon weeks

when stigma is a brand without physical body

it stings as deep, stays as long, heals too slow

it is hard to imagine the words ‘equality’

leaving our lips, and joining the world

in red shoes and jaunty hat, tipped merrily

to the left-hand side, running for a bus

knowing you’ll just make it

if the ground isn’t slippery

if you don’t fall before you’ve got

a firm hold.

The unseen world

At the corner of your mouth, where it curls in gentle distain, a little spiting mirth, lives the unseen world

In your eyes, polished obsidian run through with black onyx, lies the hearth of your internal combustion

As you breathe, I cannot fail to notice the lovely juxtaposition of your bones gleaming beneath apricot skin, as the buttons on your shirt atest, each breath yawning her fitful glimpse

I cannot help but wonder those stored bottles of delight, high upon your shelf, how your nipples would taste, the flowered breath of your heart of palm

And divining central, that pulsing mandala, reaching her fragrance into dreamworld, the color of aubergine and hibiscus bled in winter river as redwood is lost to time

My artichoke girl, wreathed in wild flowers, your body a temple for this supplicant, as light diminishes, your thirsty form grows spectral, a mango tree heavy in fruiting

From within, you glow with the hardy tempest of your nature, a pulsing, feckless creature, nimble in your art of deft possession

If I could starve for want of you, I believe I would. For no moment passes with satisfaction, unless in some way, you exist on its marble periphery

The very yoke of a day is cast by your presence. I could subsist on the rounding detour of your thighs for a hundred sleepless nights

Grow from your slumber the memories of your cries, curled in my ear, my lips, my reincarnation of our slippery motion to capture

When it is cold my hands seek your bright match to kindle animation, climbing from the solace of you, strengthened by remembered, evoked echo of intimacy

A song wound around my ribs as river reeds pull the charmed to their divine drowning and with last sip of air we relinquish control and let go

My love, your eyes bewitch my life blood, kindling the charred rejoinder of hope, a poppet to your sorcerery, emerging from deep forest

When dying comes for me, it’ll be your face I kiss, feverish and familiar, your preternatural smile haunting my passage, faithful ghost, mine

For some there is no method of separation, we are bound in crushed roses to one

In this place. In each other. A languid, yawning soft space between, the unseen world.

Never look back

Amidst worry, distraction, hunger, noise,

there is the brand, the scorch of you

sealing me in wax

pressing me to Florentine paper

sending me by leathered mail

with a longing as woven

as pulp that becomes a letter

writing out felted words

my throat cannot swallow.

The world is burning, in once-removed chaos

I find an unsteady peace, imagining us.

Everything is flammable, people smite each other

with little tools and heavy words

we forget our humanity often

we are caught with our pants down

jacking off to lies & hate in little jars

sometimes it seems the world would fair

better without our penchant for harm

but we subsist, in fragments, shards, pieces

of goodness separated and flung apart.

I should be considering the state of the planet

why it’s searing in October, why people

shoot someone for the color of their skin, how

evil can stand in White Houses and other

necessary questions …

but for this cupped moment, I am idle in my desire to save

not a lack of caring, but rather

the need to step outside the fray and

stand in the rain with you .

The rain here is warm, before we met

I did not know rain could be warm

I lived in a concrete trap with sad faced

buildings that many would give their eye

teeth for and I wished passionately, to escape

from

there was no softness in the city of my birth

no reduction of clamor

we spun like dervish on a wheel

forgetful of what mattered in the perpetual lean

to survive

I am here with you now, although

we are often not together, in my etched soul

you hold me every night and the candle

I placed in my window does not go out

for it burns eternal.

A song will reduce me to tears, driving wet

cheeked and aching for your touch, the surround

of your movement against me, a kiss that consumes

my cold center, turns me to the moon

shining and nude.

We are shimmering fish beneath dark water, finding our way

with our mouths, our fingers, the brail of need

containing sea pearls ready to sacrifice their shell

only you can lift me away from

the sorrows of the world and our many

pitted attempts to remedy what seems to be

our nature

only you can run yourself down my stomach

and opening me like a fan, find within, my

raw chorus

only you, with your pitch eyes and raven heart

can cause me to tumble, weightless over white cliffs

into our own private film

playing the days of our lives, for an empty house

the tick of our time, slowing now.

I should clean my teeth, brush my hair, push my

cuticles back and cross my legs in public, but for

the need to wear no hose, and driving 70mph down

empty streets, push you into me, finding

piano keys beneath our lilting surface.

By day I am a plain-faced woman with

ill-fitting bra and the marks of time sponged

on my face like imprints from a wild cat

who walked over me once, twice, forever

as you pull me from the world with your

electricity and I urge you

implore

to not

to never

look back.

Don’t go home tonight

Don’t go home tonight

don’t leave this warm circle we built with our skin and bones

I killed an ant earlier and I felt badly

as I had watched it climb up a book and grab on to a little morsel

it has always made me feel remorseful for killing even the smallest creature

I don’t eat flesh for that reason

aside, you, I eat you, feast upon, alive and laughing your deep throated mirth

it never occurred to me one day I would have in my arms

the vibrating surround of a whole woman

the majesty of her glory, how she shifts like light

from somber to ejubilent in the fracture of a moment

women are not easy creatures, to tame a little, or keep satisfied

their minds, their bodies, are compartments of mystery

open the same drawer twice, out comes a different response

I will never understand or fathom, your maze of contradictions

that may be half the pleasure, for we who are simple clay

love the complexity and madness that is your fire

your dimpled skin and reddened throat leaning backward to my entreaty

the sounds you make, when I bring you close

a high keening like joy is just out of focus, a mayfly touching surface

I hold those memories inside me like water

crossing the empty desert of a day without you

night comes and goes as fast as pleasure

resisting my petition to remain static and eternal

if it would just slow and stay, I’d render you speechless in slow movement

the stirring of cream into coffee, languorous and ancient in ritual

until you flung yourself back into enervated ocean

where together we met beneath water and the whole world

was lit from beneath us

my love, asseyez-vous à côté de moi. faire battre mon cœur

stay

stay with me tonight

let us both be lulled into believing

morning does not need to dawn

Untouchable

l.

I slept though I did not sleep

onboard the memory of you

wrapped around my legs

entwined we touched, we did things

in real life we would not

like thirsty vines found purchase

I wake hot with a sore-throat

for calling you in dream

you stay just far enough away to be

exquisite, painful

still, you are with me

all throughout this fatigued day

my hair matted with thought of your voice, your mouth

heart faster for desire unspoken

recollections like film reel

thin wrists, strong arms, long neck

slender back of an archer sending her arrow

colt legs as brown as sundown eclipsing

autumn leaves

the bedroom lure of your perfumed eyes

I saw it years ago and it pierced me

as keenly as a real knife might

cut through something willing and laid it open

to conquest

I said nothing then,

my tongue in my mouth

longing to taste yours

stays quiet, stays quiet, stays quiet

for to break the spell

is to wake.

ll.

If magnolia trees did not take an eternity

to bloom

I’d plant one and plant you

watching your volumineuse petals

open and fracture

my thirsting heart

with your uncertain entreaty

I lie awake at night

unable to breathe, to sleep, to be still

able only to replay

the expressions of your face

with such easy unconscious grace

my cheeks burn from laughing

smiling, it is as if

a new sun was born in the softness of your hair

one in which I felt desire

something hidden in dark too long

my hands tied, I sit in a high backed

chair sipping my penance, my lack of ability

to ever be close to your ideal

for I have never competed and I will not

share you with all the others

trying not to be noticed when I glance

again and again, at your smooth legs and arms

why weren’t you mine all along?

I had thought so then and now

wordless, I did nothing

for you are made of crystal

catching all colors

my prism is just one

I will the rain to come

drench us both, obliterate sound

words I would say if I could,

if I could

if I could

silenced, in downpour

I walk away

I stay, watching you

until you are the storm in my eyes

or tears, growing their want

ever, untouchable.

Heed

I resent

No, I am angry

It is my regret that

You steal my thoughts

every day

even as you do not really

exist

damn

you.

Is it my wield to wake and smell the coming

of Autumn, her combed wild intruding on Summer’s

last heady retreat

and with her, all the memories of us

tumbling like leaves of every color.

You are a shade of me I cannot forget, nor

am I able to extricate your taste from my soul

as if you were the darkest liquor and I, the thirsting

sinner.

We do not know one another, yet in this russet world

where people step out with reddened cheeks and think of

night as a place to venture deep and become lost in

the reflecting faces of glasses brought together

I recognize in you, someone I need.

It is foolish then, that you will never know this,

as time reveals a betrayal, thick in coming like smoke

from a burned pyre

I see you there, in the crowd of onlookers, your

shoulders thin in a cardigan, eyes dark against

flames, a smile on your face as if

without my saying you knew

it was my heart that burned with longing

and your hands

putting out the fire

with the coldness

of disregard.

You steal my thoughts every day

as if, possessed of confidence that all should

fall at your knees, you hold the world and its

caprices in your little flowering hand

sometimes I want to ask; How did you become

so fat on yourself? Who gave you that belief

you were worthy? And bitterness might add;

I am better than this, better than you,

not someone used to, or wanting to remain

subject. Inhaling your sugar pill …

Instead I say nothing and spells

boil off like alcohol leaving nothing but

clear water, I plunge into and try to

forget the nagging impulse to find ways of altering

your hooded intractability.

I live in the crossword puzzle of your

eyes, the bewitchment of your fruiting mouth

as you open your lips and speak, drowned

out by time and distance

I think nevertheless

I hear.

You steal my thoughts

every day

I once wore self-belief like a rosary

around my wrists and counted every

subject. You took on the role as if

those clothes had been yours all

along and I had been carved from

the wood of your ancestors tree

some type of mango tree or

something as bright and hungering

as your skin when sunlight bathes

your full cheeks and I forget how

to swallow. Our fates are written

in secret alcoves we may never find

the chapter, until it is upon us and

falling in line, we play out our part

in this incantation you master me

because you feel nothing and no

words I possess will fill that

empty place and fetch from it

an urge to dive with me

into the wet of my angry tears

perhaps this is karma

it could however,

be just, a passing cruelty

like so many other things

forgotten by those, who do not stop

long enough, to

pay heed.

We weep with everything but tears

photo of woman wearing nude one piece swimsuit
Photo by Jo Kassis on Pexels.com

Go in good faith

down that charred road

where holy mist

cusps day in feathered glove

the porcelain eyes of hills pay obedience to mauve cloud

trees taller than sound break through

smudges of dream wave in memoriam,  shuttering day

and O

je ne sais pas aimer sans toi. Je ne sais pas comment me passer de toi.

We speak in furled tongues our inner most thoughts

leaving confessionals on mossy rocks and the lay of light rain

full with sleep, the direction lost in tug of war with blackening ice

they slip beneath against hush of snow

covering our tracks with blanched fingers of ice.

We weep with everything but tears.