Erasure

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Afterlife

when it’s time

kneeling, bowed head

nothing uttered

all felt

describing life and its

merry dance of thieves and joys

pockets picked, cheeks pinched

the rosy after-glow of loss and gain

shaken out blankets beneath trees

mystery of indentations past and present

who lay watching nests built

careful and with slow deliberation

before I lived how could I

describe the outline of love

moving in rapid sync as

tired swimmer in from cold

just as you give up on believing

raking autumn leaves, someone smiles

and breaking across their holy face

a connection of electric worth

for the lonely are not lost

they wander in search of hope

throwing sticks for panting dogs

breaking through water, flying in indigo bloom

a new season turns her heal toward sun

this afterlife will feel a familiar place

of lost faces, angels made of earthly composite

reflecting in the eyes of smiling ancestors

we will feel tears on our cheeks

burnished leaves falling in their spiral

where all things are forever and

the call of owls brings night fall


like a smooth glaze of assurance

tapping windows with sleet

closing up house, warm and merry

we step into the beckoning echo

Splinter

8.Boubat.-Portugal_-1956There is a thin slice of glass in my foot

I cannot see it

but I know it’s there

at night when

the fan whirls like a dervish overhead

and I play the xylophone between my legs

a storm blows in

like a warning and a representation

of everything felt and bottled up

old trees hold on, their roots tested

by the metal of young wind hurling

all order into chaos

we stand in our night-clothes

looking over fences

at destruction

she has a white line the length of her stomach

he has a scar hidden in his throat

mine is without and within like

a snake who cannot decide

which part to digest first

we three are the wounded lovers

with our perpetual thirst for

promises to ring true

devotion to stay where it was first placed

by the window in a jar of water

to bloom and scent the pulse of night

but such things rarely obey

wont of humans without power

the storm and her threading fingers

lays waste to our belief we control

even the tiniest morsel of this crochet world

…(l)…

when he married her

he thought she would obey

the tick tock of her laboring heart

stay steadfast by his side in the howling wind

but she was a maelstrom of her own

making

soon the wedge in their marital bed

was a dry river without resurrection

…(ll)…

she wanted

her husband to save her

when the doctor said C.A.N.C.E.R. and she turned

to the eyes of her children and they

looked away in painted terror

but he only knew how to put out fires

not the slow melt of all safe things she had

taken for granted 33 years

so they diverged

like a split oak touched by

lightning will remain

upright yet stranger to its mate

…(lll)…

and she was the string

between the wounded male and female

her own heart hollowed out

murmuring at night like a singleton

by the small hands of trust and promises

unkept

it was as her grandmother said

a poor thing to imagine humans

to remain steadfast

after all, the storm blew everything

even our very best intentions

whipping them into the air

until they were fragments of themselves

transformed what we knew

what we were familiar with

lending no safe harbor

for the weakened need to have surety

the only thing keeping them

upright

was their conjoined pain

a frayed ribbon between three houses

in the wildfire dead of night

where even

creatures who prefer darkness

stayed in their nests

for it was only then, in the tempest

they felt themselves capable

of surviving another moment

only then

shouting their grief into four pursing winds

writing pain along the narrow margins

of life and death

they lived another day

and on that day

wrecked and emptied

found succor in the equal fall of others

bending to pick up the debris of

their former selves

rent into splintered pieces

unrecognizable and sharp to the touch

Anguish

cc477

anguish

is a selfish emotion

and a raw cry

made from the belly of the beast and all those terrors unseen

something honest and hardly admitted

kept behind fan and sleight of hand

it is something you hide for fear of being told;

do you only think of yourself? Are you aware others have it worse?

why can’t you just GET A GRIP!

You know all this just as you know

you can’t take one more minute

one second longer

staring at now familiar nightmare

feeling it turning you inside out and back again

(as if jaws were attached to your innards, pulling like a lover would)

anguish is an exhaustion

hunchbacked and ready to tear its own eyes

where if you could you would

run away from yourself never to return

where if you could you would

S.T.O.P.

where if you could you would

scream and never quit

until either your heart refused to beat or

something changed permanently

O the salve of darkness, shrouding such horror

how you have begged for change, change, change

please make it BE ANYTHING BUT THIS

and much as you did, nothing ever would

ease up and chill out, letting the prisoners out in the sunny yard

NOT THIS TIME or so if felt when again and again

you returned to

anguish

who is not definitely no

friend

but the enemy you know better than you ever wished

dangling by garter

over an old dunking pond

the shape of witches still burned

screaming in treeline

Another day more

Had you asked me

To embrace the idea of dying, before allotted time

I’d have said, no savage emotion, ever led me that far

It was as if

I skated every so often, on thin ice of sadness

Without being absorbed, to its fathomless hollow

In that singular experience, I was far luckier

Than those who see only darkness

I had claimed my own piece of light

From a family legacy hell bent on repeating, the same shrouded walk.

From the start I altered trajectory, a mix of stubbornness and fear

For some will be proud of where they came, their strong willed ancestral history

And others … wish it wasn’t so … spend their lives trying to be anything else

I tried so hard, skin chaffed from my fingers, plucking my own way.

So you can imagine the depth of grief, felt reaching that same temporal state

Of wishing to ease the stir of life, by death’s permanent wick.

Often it is not the same course

Brings you to a well travelled place

But the last thing you’d expect

A sudden illness, like a thimble that lets in needle

As sharply she infiltrates your well being

Until hollow cheeked you are wretched, begging for end

On that day it so happened

The sky was the kind of blue dreams are made of

Emptied leaves reached up to embrace the rays

Newly returned birds called full throated to the world

And sitting with a desire to die, and place pain forever gone

I felt the sun on my face, heard the russle of last year’s leaves

My fatigue whispered, do it now!

And I did not listen

Because I truly wanted

To stay sitting in the sun

Another day more

Thrive

thShow me how

to thrive

not simply devoured

by starched white spread heart of palm

telling fortunes at Waldens pond

for the ice is surely as colorless

as mine own frosted breath

held in dove cot

awaiting relent

 

Show me how

to thrive

in wood cut and lithographic land

forging in Shakers wrapped hand

measurement of generations

prescribing latitude

and those born beneath ice water

hardening by each ratchet and slip

 

We may resemble the other

I assure you

I sink while you swim

festooned in spring

I hear your delight

caving snow into spectacle and whim

scoring snowy hide with virgin bemusement

leaving blushing to first flower

 

Show me

how to thrive

unwary of the cut of fencer’s lance

skaters take their effortless figure eight

cut me out while watching me sink

bleary are the reflecting lessons gleaned beneath

as trees wearing cost of growth will shield in poplar costs against fall

scooping handfuls of strain into colander air

 

Wait for the transport

urge yourself into print

pick a destination

maybe a flurry

picked in shake and shuffle

a bridal bouquet

wet confetti

new days

following season

over wooden bridge

frigid with warm step

Show me

how to thrive

For I feel

080-francoise-dorleac-theredlistTremulous ghosts must stand in patent shoes around me

for I feel their hands on my shoulders tugging at my seams

I who do not cry

weep openly with sorrow

imagining is often harder than

bearing reality

I think of when he will not stand discontented

staring out at flocking birds

I think of the time I found a starling chick

lying cold on the ground

wondering at the bitter sky

why didn’t you give them a chance?

why did you let me stay instead?

discontent

the child who knew the flavor of strawberry milkshakes

was an artifice

lies from adults, how many more?

behind closed doors and screens

I met a poet an old lady who

wrote like she was on fire

when she didn’t write for a time

I knew she had died

again I railed

why take her? why not me?

I stand disillusioned and empty

she who played castanets and sang

she who had wind-chimes and wrinkles in

her vowels

she had so far to go

I do not

I am here at the fulcrum

waiting my turn at the scythe

it strikes me living doesn’t suit

those who feel everything

like a pretty shoe

isn’t practical for walking

you can admire its form

but it will not hold you up

I ache in ways I cannot give a color

or adverb

it is a disturbance of the soul

the card reader told

you have a dark shadow on your back

she has her hands around your throat

until she dies you will wish for your own death

or you could start drinking again

that might work

sitting at the kitchen table at night

rinsing grief from my palms

strange dark sounds comforting crushing hurt

I examine the bones of my face

they feel as if they should have come unglued

reformed into a mask of ache

outside neighbors children are awake

eager for day to start

a lone dog barks at the moon

because it disturbs the pattern of his knowing

it has been long since I dreamed

when I dream I have hope

hope which is always the most painful place to go

when returning to zero you see the futility

of setting sail just as storms are predicted

you were a hurricane I let whip me up

lent me hope

now I am a milkshake that does not

resemble real strawberries

I am sweet enough for take-out

but nobody knows the sadness behind

a glass that looks full and is not

just residue remains

sticking to the sides

I am holding on

trying not to cry

at the nature of things

some known

some found afterward in epitaph

my grandmother’s hand was

blotchy and purple

still I looked away believing her well

you see

I want to believe in fairy-tales

and ever after

but I confess

it is hard when we are surrounded

by lies in

illuminated

jars