Nightshade

Oh mama

There are days

I am bent double

The stuffing of me kicked quite free

One side is fear that feels like unyielding felt, thick in my dry, slack mouth

Making me the puppet I never was, when good and whole

So is sickness for the soul

A sour well with brackish water and no yield

I long to be your child and retrace in time to your arms

Fantasies that never were, become, our lullaby

A palpable longing for comfort

Nourishment

To be saved against invisible foe

No

I did not invite you, fever dream

No

I did not beckon you visit me and stay, pinning my anxiety as colinder

Cast as we are, sluggish on fortunes wheel

Like chance, we ebb and flow

Moths without hardy wings

I desired wellness 

and while the summer river ran 

I believed it would never turn

Against me in undertow

Disease is a glutted wretch

A terrible betrayal

A war

You stand in rags fighting until your last

We all do 

But when the bees come and honey is glitter in the trees 

We forget our fear of unseen things

Believe ourselves immortal or at least

The sleek otter who can hold his breath

Longer than sense and her confine

For such a time I rested

Against this calm

Taking for granted what I did not own

And as winter will

Reveal herself bare and merciless

Soon those hours of peace lay behind me

Damp with regret and burned yet

To leave plumes of green smoke

Evoking Gods 

Who may be senseless to our call

For the comfort of our childhood

Curled inside a place

As yet unborn

Do not

Let me stay in this cold fear

Or stand alone 

With its frozen clasp about my heart

Squeezing hope til nothing pumps

But the ice of terror 

I am 

Just born

To this strange chill

The waking before dawn of prescient worry

Will I be well? Will I ever be without pain?

Oh mercy and her ink, clouding fortelling

The whine of our need to know, what Fates only jest

My gut is silent and 

Nothing but the fast snare of my pulse

Can be heard over lamment

I am

A statue of fear

Thinking back

To the Happy Prince

He felt pain

Of others

Taking the jewels that were his eyes

Sacrifice I do not have

A lesson

To think and care as we suffer

Of others and their

Equal walk 

In nightshade

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Unwilling

016_imogen-cunningham_theredlistThere are differing forms of narcissism

and sadness

wrenching and unyielding

can produce

solid fat trapped in water

thickened floating, unformed intention

we cannot breathe

holding hands to jump rope pinching noses

against fumes of exhaust

her knees were smoother and brown

elbows protrude like question marks

and when you are both fortunate enough to be old

her breasts will still point upward

whilst you shall swing heavily like a dowel

losing time with the rest of the world

she is lighter, her skip higher, cheeks flush with

the sting of cold weather tingeing red pinpoints

you don’t know yet

a time comes, the path breaks

one way is without constraint

the other a heaviness

you cannot shrug like boiled wool

as you see her wet feet climb upward

there is nothing to stop the relenting undertow

that’s what children don’t know

when they play behind wire and protection of youth

but if you look closely

like the colt whose legs and teeth are examined by horse breeder

tapping his aquiline nose

you can tell the furlow of a soul

in their pedigree and infection

do they have worms or marrow?

she was born hot and unwilling

jaundice beginning with first labored breath

but if you gave her a chance to dance

she would break over you, turn into water

a hundred fingers enclosing

circles of diminishment

no matter how fast she danced

legacy caught up and held her down

Queen of Thorns

grandma why didn’t you

prune me back when you had the chance?

cut off my head and let dead parts turn me violet

before you grew demented and wan

why didn’t you tear into my stuffing and let

the tartan apple seed scatter

maybe I would have stopped being a child

turning into a great ancient tree

where the girls who had smooth unwrinkled brows

could climb and flash their starched knickers

hanging upside down catching bird song

reflecting off fish pond surrounded by nettles

I was always better at being a spectator

than entertaining life’s specters

you should have cut the cord

played your last best record

let the needle run it through

scratching out hurt and

unwilling children

Defiance

14718735_10202095537187418_8475389863967140182_nAs she ticks upward

the hours tick down

crossed off by permanent pen

no you will not live this moment again

seize it as you would a hot sparkler

waved maniacal by laughing children

through mittened thin protection of wool

and in that conjure

you still the thunder of

what you didn’t achieve

what you didn’t yet reach

in the circumference of your dreams

just before burn

becomes indelible

raise up

let go of all worldly commands

to obey and bow

you are beholden only

to ushered majesty of tomorrow

make it worth your time

here standing in line with

other decaying eyes

blinking against saline

for soon you will rise

a little sorer for your walk

parchment for skin

timidity taking over waltz

then when you think it’s too late

surprise yourself again

swelling with love and energy

like the old dog who hears his returning master

will out run even March hare

for nothing is as lasting

as devotion

turning blushing cheek to quixotic moon

spilling beyond possibility

like frozen water is released

with first thaw

purest of all

We believe

Use your long words

describe the smell of memory

antiseptic

there in your transparent igloo

born to incubate

smoke before it’s legal on your mother’s habit

bequeath me the tendency

to live without need

from pockets we pull

the nurture the seed

sprouting in defiance

when everything else died of frost bite

against the ire of a late Winter storm

gusting itself into white rage

through the glass you see

yourself being re-made

in the eyes of old women whose wrinkles

make a universal puzzle

and the swell of hills

cast over with violet

a heaven of sorts in setting light

glazing countertops

for foot prints of unseen beast

leading off into nearby copse

could we will ourselves

another go around?

stepping backward into

infancy, chewing the umbilical

surrounded by potential like

a wet firework strains to explode

would it be any different?

your hands, molding my shape

DNA

the type of pasta eaten

over Lake Como the day

of conception

holy was the love that bore the wish

lost in steepled weather vein

glistening against straining light

a mockery of control

just out of reach

there she is

eighty years from now and

just re-born

in unfurled leaves and first sprouting

green a forbidden thing

among the white ushers and

dark flitting ponderable

marveling we can be conscious

of ourselves and of nothing more

than a stream aching to unfreeze

creep closer to living

inch by inch

two warm bodies without a thing between them

aside the shame of knowing

we live both futile and richly

worming our way into the meat

and tender bruise of absolving

those things we believe we need

Reflecting our make

6610155a671a863124b18faa259d9037Born inheriting jaundice

from an incubator world

nobody wanted to hold

the baby with malform

forehead elongated, she held on

wishing not to be born

till calipers force the point

leaving behind viking indent

brand scaring watery soul

who dreamed still of utero

without air banishment

moonshine, her first sup

on the mustard kick of luckless child

unwanted by chain-smoking teens

seeking succor in bricked up people

climbing invisible ladders to some faraway mount

not of tablet and command

more a belief if we earn enough

we can pay away our sin

she was a ward of one

listening to water rise in radiators, surge and grow cold

before her first birthday she learned

life is a scolding pecking bird

retreat inward like sleeping charm

wait out first 18 winters

till freed of snow you take flight

cutting yourself out of smite

the unwanted will inherit their cast

dyed in river beds to wash never indigo

the hue of their regret

O to be counted

surely one more drag, one more wrought night

lying back on pillows watching stars trip beyond

their pinpointed direction never clarified

do they seek their diminishment or

have they already died?

showing their skirt tails like faint ghosts

for weary-eyed consumer of bottled night

blinking as neon sign beneath liquor store

stays on throughout retching dark

luring empty hearts toward comforting glow

we drink because we need to feel full

starve ourselves to let bidden pain flow

cut out the parts that remind us how

we came in and left without touching earth

those children of no consequence

developing thick soles and empty shadows

no wonder then we stay fissure thin

in diminished light of birth

reflecting our make

as weary moon, closes her eyes

flits behind rolling cloud

blocking out acknowledgement

like a candle can be snuffed

between a pinch and rub

you are no more than you were

the crust of you, harder to break

underneath there is a word

waiting in turn to ask

why?

must we inherit for our legacy

indifferent design?

The bottle

the-birds-cage-avihai-cohenFar away

or near

a roar

is heard

and not

answered

for after a while

what can you say?

it is the way of pain

to rage in quiet ire

with tongue numb of speech

most do not hear

most walk on

thinking of themselves

and the roar

tries to find

the sea

within

the bottle

Zero

267e842992bef6fb109e19c3291fe496I held her fate in my hands

I had a chance to end her sting of me

I chose instead to help her live

it does not seem an easy thing

forgiving yourself for choices

time can never recover

people who take and leave you barren

they’re the ones who will never

know their true darkness

they’re the ones who will get up fast

as if nothing much occurred

it takes a lot to wound someone

who does not have a heart