Command

9edcc63634776b74ee5539c5d4f18ce7She sat

the leather of the chair

damp beneath her

no underwear

revealed in candle light

a straight spine

a crouching mind

she obeyed

not for fear or need to ruin

but the sheer freedom of feeling

her knees rub against carpet

her mouth close upon bit

her eyes lost beneath satin

she knew

when it came

the lash would last

as long as forever

the welt may diminish

the pain may recede

still she could feel

the weight of regard

afixed to her as light of fire place

illuminated what she could not

her darkness exposed

take what you will

take what she cannot give

willingly

and in setting her free

she is within and without cage

able at last

to feel the breadth of herself

by your regard she finds reflection

not the echo she reinterprets

there in the scour of past

but the lover

piece by piece she learns

to offer her secrets

for trust is earned

in every move toward

the command

Freedom from your scorn

babushka_1-tcall me anything you like or don’t call me at all

you’re cold when I’m hot and hot when I’m cold

many years past you asked that I leave

go away you said this isn’t your continent you do not belong here this is not your country

your jaw was too narrow to carry your eyes

I could see in between your bones and feel your lies

you sent me metaphorically packing

because of that I stayed

though you were right in a way, I did not belong

call me anything you like or don’t call me at all

you’re cold when I’m hot and hot when I’m cold

sometimes when someone threatens you

you say, okay then, bring it on

and you watch yourself fall down the rabbit hole

next time I’m challenged to a duel, I may hang up my sword

catch the next bus out-of-town

proving ourselves in battle, rarely avoids scars

call me anything you like or don’t call me at all

you’re cold when I’m hot and hot when I’m cold

what makes one person give another everything?

even when they know they will never receive an ounce in return?

do we loathe ourselves that much?

call me anything you like or don’t call me at all

you’re cold when I’m hot and hot when I’m cold

I’m done, breaking my heart over people

least of all you

you who broke me and didn’t even know you did

how absurd we are who give everything

to an empty hanger in an empty wardrobe in an empty chest within our empty arms

call me anything you like or don’t call me at all

you’re cold when I’m hot and hot when I’m cold

and I’m out of here with freedom from your scorn

 

The unhealed

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If you opened me up

maybe with a zip or a crow bar

it is my belief inside I would be

eighty percent water from the sea

and twenty percent ghosts

who upon being freed

would walk away and let me be

so when I look longingly

at your scalpel or your blade

it is not because I wish to meet my maker

not yet anyway

but the irresistible urge to be freed

of these ghosts who pinch and knead

even if you fitted a zip dear sir

or inserted a pipe to let the smoke pour

anything would be preferable to this canker

an ulcer of lament forming malcontent

they weigh a lot for emotions past tense

no matter how hard I try they gain the upper hand

that’s what happens when your body is a grave yard

for souls who ripped you apart

you carry your history like a series of scars

nobody can see, they think you’re doing well

underneath your sequins it’s a bloody hell

sometimes I wish you could see how I feel

the cavernous maw of the unhealed

they don’t let go of my throat with their squeeze

when people jump I’m not surprised

who can live with such unease?

the ghosts inside us, reminding we’re never free

until we vanquish their poison

so give me some mercy

let them out

I would like to fly

but I have lost the ability to float

Drawers of pain

11425154_10153488240817664_183327089108043750_nDon’t give a thought

to the one who appears to have it

all bundled up nice and tidy

who cleans her shoes after wearing

and ensures she eats right

with marginal error

she may surprise everyone

by one day

erupting

from her corset

into savage flame

nothing like the girl you knew

who so well hid

her truth behind

compartmentalized

drawers of pain

Dominique

photo-2They took away the girl

everyone would bend to touch

her shiny black hair and

brown skin looking like

peaches had feasted inside her DNA

they took her to Hollywood

after a month put her in private school

because the crips and the bloods

fought over her peaches

she turned instead to

white powder and a fine gram

of friendship

her letters became erratic

once she called at 3am

I’m in town

qua? qua? you mean the city?

Yes I’m here! Can you see me?

It’s 3am, where are you?

I’m at the house of some band, they’re number 2 in the charts, I can’t remember I can’t remember

the line went dead

like a cat leaning in to lick its fur

once when working behind a bar

mixing paltry tips and bad cocktails

she came by, her eyes all moon-glazed

with three stingy young men

who looked like they could

bathe more frequently

we hugged and she still smelt

of patchouli and faraway loss

my chest ached

meet me at the party she said

waving with her finger tips

like a starlet biting into pomegranate

I knew she wouldn’t go

turning up wearing my best

pretending my old shoes were new

most of the band

snorting off each others wrists

like cats with cream

I asked

have you seen Dominique?

they offered me a line and said

who?

 

I ran away from camp with a girl

called Selene, the child of an

Italian Viscount

after I called my grandma reverse charge

from the countryside pub

he came up with his chauffeur

thanked me for getting his daughter out

offered me a ride home

my father asked

how do you know those kinds of people?

 

a week later she called

we have someone in common

you know Dominique?

you mean the girl with peaches in her

cheeks?

I grabbed my keys

we met outside as the sun went down

Selene was the kind of girl

Dominique would mooch off

I had nothing to give

my hands were too wide

my shoulders freckle

I didn’t look good with bare legs

or see-through tops

they danced near the stage

like two jars of honey

I knew then I’d watch from afar

girls like Dominique marry

stars and future heirs

still unfulfilled looking for the

next train to take them away

out of their pain

that’s why she always calls

early morning before

the sun has risen

in the same voice

sounding like all the records we played

until they crackled

under scratches

she laughed in her whiskey tone

I stole a rich man’s wallet

I’m calling on his Gold Card

we can talk until the sun comes up

in your part of the world

 

Greater solace

651d3294ace9c6e46b0b18587904b847

There you are

picture yourself

standing in a vacated room

the walls are nondescript

from the window comes a little wan sun

hardly enough for warmth

you pull yourself closer

recalling how as a child

sitting on old iron radiators in winter

they’d say you’d develop hemorrhoids

in those days

the sound of scuffed shoes running for class bell

figuring you had a few moments yet

to stare out at brick and cement

stretch out reverie

a voice inside your head

surely this isn’t all there is?

you made a pact with yourself

to get the hell out

whatever it took

gathering your books

mindful of their ticket

you forgot yourself in dream

walking past the classroom

after all

learning is better in the mind

than grind of chalk on board

some boy kicking you in the back

with sweaty socks

you knew even then

this was but a stepping stone

though if asked you couldn’t say

what of the grim facade urged you most

to escape

 

and now

all these years later

more alone than that day

when covered by childhoods vigor

and the smell of something better

just around the corner

hope has been sore in her visits

silence too often your friend

as we fall one by one out of the egg carton

we are without wings

without safety harnesses

all the others found places

in busy lives, babies, families, jobs

the weave and knot of life

whilst you stood watching out of the window

glimmering

expecting to fly

 

now in shallow rooms

artifice has left her scent

they tell you the last one has passed over

you feel it in the curve of your chest

no more hands to scoop you back

from your leaning motion to find

somewhere to breathe

where trees are ever green

sunlight full on face

obscuring all trace of bleak homes

terraced and hollow

where you can hear the flush of

neighbors loud toilet

piercing cry of another

born into fitful times

where you never understood

your own role

just the fallacy of drowning sorrows

sundays in the bar

knocking back glasses of regret

nothing could spur you faster

toward wide open space where

no trace of sorrowful city remained

 

and wherever you go

there you are

still back against the wall

still with the locked door

school girl tights bunched in your mouth

hearing muffled voices

discussing your inability to speak

how long can you hold your tongue girl?

before the need to scream

unfurled

and in one howl you swallow yourself

all the disappointment

all the lost chances

breaking through cloud

fast diminishing in oboe sky

open the storeroom of your mind

clear out those long stored hurts

preserved in obscura

 

you may feel you have nothing

but in the sundering fall of flight

we find again our urge

never to quite escape

perhaps more a reinterpretation

carrying on no more alone than before

for we are born crying in singular pitch

in each step grow further to our end

it is in the humility of knowing this

we find our greater

solace

Seven years


Seven years I let myself formulate excuses

not to return

and on the eighth

guilt had made her way into my closed heart

laying a light ribbon on the frayed part

 

going back was like being reborn

as yourself and not yourself at all

I walked familiar streets, spoke similar words

accent hardly altered

as if no time had passed

and so they said

you look exactly the same

though they were changed and I were changed

all altered irrevocably with time worn stain

as if glass no longer could be relied upon

to give accurately our real prescription

even friends were foreign handed

or I no longer of that land

left behind when things were too sad

I sealed the bottle and set adrift

seven years of absence builds

many barnacles to anyone’s vision

when the damned see the truth

the liars remove their seaweed masks

curtsy finely and pronounce

we did our part

exit stage left

standing on warm boards of the theater of pretend

where dance and energy has dissipated

into cloven wings

hear me now

shadows of my past

the girl with the big smile

her perfect fine figured mouth

and matching dragon tooth skirt

as if we dressed together in the darkness

of one another

except she is a mother and

I have a cut-out womb ebbing in formaldyade

don’t worry I feel no pain now

some of us are bearly hanging on

what good would a child of weakness

bring the sorrow further inland?

I miss her

like I write letters in wax to myself

those over easy days we knew who we were

or felt … some approximation of reality

good enough for then

when she looked at me

unequal teeth smiling and needing

how did the splinter drive that deeply?

wedge like sword between this time and before?

we know nothing of the other

as a blue bottle

cast on green and yellow water

will wait

seven years

to reach shore

when I climbed out and dusted myself off

she was gone

her footprints erased from the sand

nobody recognized me

only the echoes of an angry sea

calling me back to exile

whispering

you do not belong here 

and the white cliffs looked relieved

when I flew overhead

my heart aching with loss

the cheer of relief

like a season

changing from golden red to

brown

Shadow play

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I will leave you the stage

the costumes

grease paint

I will not watch you string the puppets

construct the game

you may smile behind your fan

pouring tea from porcelain

to hide your true intent

often the best are most talented

at climbing the ladder

nobody will believe

she who invisibly bleeds

show the knife

they’ll say surely not

they’re so nice

often the stab

comes from those who claim

they have your back

only then are you free

to show your wings