Short respite

When I wrote about the grief inside myself

It wasn’t me I described

But you

The two of you who made the me

And then like rice thrown at midday wedding

Scooped me up and put me to boil down

On a high flame with no watchers

I burned to nothing

Leaving a sticky rim around the pan

Reminiscent of starch and glue

Like your clothes always pressed, clinging to your neck in hot weather

Or the piles of things he began and disguarded

I stepped

Out of the hot pan

Walked through greese and debris

Every step I took something stuck

Bits of dirt, jam, floss and mud

Moments

Pressed like thirsty flowers to dry flat between books

What would you have done differently, with the benefit of heindsight?

Too late for that ironic idiom, pass the parcel

Til you’re the last without a chair and resolve is bare

Just a quick ticking heart, searching in shadow

Unended furniture where they left, in a hurry to escape, what they had yet to learn

I was hungry for you to care

But you birthed me on sweltering tarmac and took off

Your quickening feet on fire

I melted into pitch and asphalt, rising

Like a badly fixed road will buckle and bow, emptying hunchback, the misshapen and malformed

Limping its circumference at night, skin tapping, indigo beetle hide

Like a fantastical shaman with shaded eyes of a moth and fingers of water

Dips his fountain pen, scrawls my fate in runic blood

You who were ill prepared and unwilling, gave up the burden of your consummation

To thrive or drown, two choices thrown with skittering dice

Take your place at the wheel of Fortune, await your turn

When the heat of days lessens and short respite from hurting

Can be found

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Collecting Mother’s

As a child, as an adult

I collected mother’s

Bewitched by what had been absent

The soft strength and maturing gravitas

Of gentle women who suspend the sky

It has long been a desire of mine

To inhabit the energy of mother’s soul, long enough to learn, the mystery

It is as if I am a man-child, cut from peripheral cloth

For she who is a mother, has a remote wholeness I cannot absorb

The density of putting others before herself, to bring life squalling into this world

Surely her soul is closer to the reduction and encroaching waves, shaping time

For her voice speaks of places I have yet to go

Mysteries in the birth and death of life, she intuits

The breaking foamy sound, one of collapse, folding in on itself and remaking

Like marbles in opaque jar, clustered too close to roll, will eventually spill

These tears, when dried, leave furrowed salt smudges

They do not know their existence well enough

To forget that another breeze, wild and hennaed

Would lift even leaden spirit, from washed reproach

Like children on the cusp of summer, appear ethereal, in fine grain light

Laughing with a freedom not found, in classroom

Imparting her knowledge, handed down by palm print

Sometimes I feel I am a fragment of her rich tapestry

A thin thread that could easily unravel and with strong wind

Be carried into puzzling wilderness, away from her sure footed climb

I feel safer when she is near, holding up the world

Her feet deep in red mud, her head just reaching heavens gate

S.O.S.

28514640_10155366958932338_2887770778102742777_o324300484.jpgI wanted to

open my mouth as wide as it will go

no .. even

further

disarticulated and gaping

for maximum sound

a fog horn

and implore you

describing

the itch in my throat

the lump that turns to anchor

pulling me down to ocean floor

no oxygen, just humiliation

It says

Help me

I’ve never asked before

hot-faced and ashamed

I’m all grown up and lost

wandering toward your call

Help me

unpick my mistakes

return to the scattered fold

but every time I begin

something in your tone

heeds a warning

and I go back to

holding in

sore like spring cold

my throat is not meant for singing

it is a lump hardened by knowing

you will not hear.

(After becoming so sick I decided my only option would be to move back to a country with socialized healthcare. I basically said as much to my father, the first time I have ever asked him for help as an adult. I felt so guilty for asking. Some of my pride comes from being independent, not relying upon others. I find it hard to ask. But what was harder was his lack of response. I could blame many things, maybe he was in shock, maybe he didn’t know what to say. But parents are parents for life, if their child at any age needs help, and you know they may not be able to help themselves, I would think most would help them. Now I feel stupid, ashamed and embarrassed for asking. I hadn’t expected too much, just some type of support in moving back, if indeed a way could be found. But he stayed pretty negative, he doesn’t want to make an effort or get involved. I realized then I had long thought family meant we were all in it together, helping each other through this life, but it’s more ‘them’ and ‘me’. If I could, I would help myself. I’ve done it every other time. But being sick means you can’t always help yourself. There is no worse feeling than asking for help after feeling so bad for having to ask for help and then feeling absolutely ridiculous for having asked. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just challenging because it would be better if I could live in a country with socialized healthcare at this point, being swamped by bills I cannot afford. I suppose like many who do not have that option I will have to find another way. I don’t feel hard done by, I just feel like I don’t have that familial support that I half believed I could have, if I asked for it, that feels very lonely but also I feel stupid, for expecting, or asking anything of anyone, I wish I had the strength by myself but I just don’t).

A glimmering girl of movement

images

Things are not always what they seem

I came from negative photography so I believed, beauty came from broken wings

She’s is a muted goddess but she feels she is muddied totem and godless

Running on raw feet to keep the fear at bay, she is Zola Bud without a flag

A thin line of angularity, stretching on tarmac into distance with her naked courage

She says, damn it, don’t put me on a pedestal

I want to tell her; it’s just believing in you, but she’s like me in that regard

Children brought up on curses, never believe velvet coated words

They’re drawn to the familiar caustic lack of praise, boiled with the bones of shaven headed ancestors

She feels safe in critical people’s iron gaze, mulling over flaws like antique appraiser

And if I could I would, redo her start, give her warmth and security, raise her up and place, the sunlight in her eyes

A golden trophy for my cousin, who runs at dawn to hide her cries, one long limbed stride into furious future

And as she runs she hears the chime of those who believe in her, even as she can only concentrate, on feeling motion tuning its drum

There in her deep heart, thrumming to keep going, against weather’s worst, she defies expectation, a glimmering girl of movement

 

FOR MY BEAUTIFUL COUSIN. I LOVE YOU.

The fragile cast 

Tell me again

To be fearless

Tell me again

To depend on myself

I am yet a child

Still holding her toy by the ear

I am feeling you give me

The hard water slap of advice

Cold on my cheek, formerly warm.

You say

It’ll toughen me up

But I already know

It has wrought the reverse

I am not

A leathered creature of your creation

I am already 

Quite changed and mangled.

Whilst you 

Suffered and carved expressions from granite

Still you were told, you were a marvel

I was weighted down only with disapprobation

And your searing brand of tough love

Tore me further without support

Gave me greater fears, made me feel alone

In a room full of sound.

You cannot rob a child of their ego before it is formed

Nor nurture one empty handed and pickpocketed

You cannot protect a child by harm

Broken is broken.

We all require, when we start in this world

The unconditional faith of others

In a look, a knowledge, some portion of belief

In the validity of us

Lifted just enough to see over the edge.

Life already begs to steal the best 

We cannot survive by being cast into fire before we learn to walk

It doesn’t forge stronger bones

We live as ash, insubstantial invalids

Longing for the strength of kindness.

Before you break a child

Think of them twenty years from now

Grown on thin gruel and scraps

We who stand in the tempest 

May appear whole

But in our essence we lack

The varnish of other’s meant to grow us tall

It is in the stained radiance 

We find the courage to face the world

Bestowed on us by those meant to protect

The fragile cast of a child.

Step outside

The doctor

who is 47 and wears a baseball cap

she doesn’t look her age, even her hands are unlined

but she knows her stuff, telling me, it’s a virus

got into you, maybe by the loosest thread and working its way up

attacked your spleen like, a well placed fist will split even hard skin

opening up secrets, spilling them like spaghetti squash, reveals its jewel

thumbing through test results, her eyes raised imperceptably

we both joked at the irony of finding a virus, good news

by then I had, a long list of debtors, thinner wrists, curled with many knots, my mouth was parched from staying open

who knew I’d learned so well, the art of begging and beseachment

and the phone, if it were not disconnected, would not have rung because I’d found out 

those who stand in faded ink on birth certificate, are not interested in, the lurch of misfortune

you see, some people, they need warm weather, even in Wintertime

and cannot abide, a cold chill or sudden snap

and I, poor dear, had quite broken my luck on the roulette table, as it spun

a soft sound much like the running of a bath

my turn to fall

their turn to turn, face away, pretending, such misfortune doesn’t happen

they are acrobats of self-deception

I don’t condemn it

it gives me the outline of which to begin, a new family tree

it will not have many branches, perhaps will look deformed

but as the arroyo dries in hot Summer, lines leave scores in red earth, pointing a way for journiers

and there are people who come

from almost nowhere

bringing solace

like a well tended light, burning from animal oil

keeps alive, that creature within us

needing, oh so needing

I touched them, with burning fingers and blistered lips

I couldn’t form the words to say, how much it meant

walking in their step and how

the measure of their coming lifted me

from a place i’d never been nor wished to return 

emptiness is not, an acquired taste

the doctor, she can attest to that

I see grief in her stride and hope in the words she feeds me

as we create over the loom, something resembling a coat

to wear when the weather gets cold

and you have to step outside

Claim

Don’t open your chest up

let the butterflies out

burn the velvet gloves and seek to trust

hands held over hands in circles

dancing to the gravy of secure claim

Don’t risk dissolution

by the marble hands of your own family

it never gets easier

a little death upon a little death

pursed words kissing with violence

and just as you know all these things

you hang yourself by the neck

that’s the fool who is a child

keeps returning to empty chairs

all fall down

such is the rope burn

when love turns cruel

when love lets you down

family existing to crush the lotus

how then does the bloom float

something wide and spectacular

with waterlogged roots seeking ground

how then does the moon touch water?

reflecting shapes of wonder against glass

the hurt is

fierce and terrible

the tiger is

open mouthed

the knife digs

deep into sound

stars blitz like warm shower

lights echo in soft purr

you can cut me down with one word

you hold the key, you are my blood

and I love you when you hurt me

more than I should allow

how do we learn

to avoid exposure when

our wrists are bound

by family ties and emptiness

perhaps the pain is reminder

life is a knife, it can butter, it can cut

if we try we can surf

the upside more than down

like migrating streams releasing winter’s cold