Below zero

Snow I have always

been thankful for your expunging

whiteout

how you take dirt

and suffocate it

beneath insistent layers

the wild and untame methods of your

settling, blown like befuddled

birds in all direction, swirling in

lost echo, falling eventually to

sugar-coat the dim world brighter

as pipes fail, their fragile egg shells

bloated with trapped water

a parallel I think

to our own shuttered lives

When I was a child I would

be told

do not go out in the snow for long

you will catch your death

and I hoped

very much

that were true

for to sleep

a red rose in bosom of white

I could fancy in my child’s mind

no greater perishment

though fancy and its

myriad ways of suggesting

death

grow less appealing

the older we get

Now I avoid slipping on ice

for fear of crushing my elbow into

shards like my father did

I see in the distance

my grandmother’s dog

he is trying to eat snow flakes

and puzzled when they melt

barks into whiskering storm

I think he speaks for us all

in this grand illusion

half wanting to be

taken off by encompassing whorls

carried to ice palace

where surely the meaning of

everything can be found

along with my mittens I lost

in tenth grade

stooping down to place

the cherry in

my snow robins

breast

Misleading light

You’re not leaving yet are you?

Girl with mango skin, every direction she turns

a kalidoscope of hopefulness in her smile

I notice how she wears her rings on her fingers like mine

that is because she is me

lost to time, a pull in a favorite knit top

the burgundy losing its focus as

it gathers holes

this is because she is me

bound to gravity and her weighty entreaty

toward inexorable end

a time away, yes, yes,

and nearer now than ever before

the steal of youth cloying on her dry hands

people slip her sweets and say: You are a doll

and she knows if she were a doll she’d be

able to affix the grimace all day and probably say

mama if you tipped her upside down

which is what she cannot say now

anymore than: I hurt, I cry, I feel

for she is passed that invisible line in the sand

where confession is pretty

she’s on the side of adulting

among the oaks and bulbs promising

fertility in Spring

but maybe they will be too tired

to show much of their lustrous potential

isn’t potential for under 25’s? She

read that somewhere in one of those

damaging women’s magazines before

they were transplanted to a screen

where weary eyed, prematurely hunched

poor postured youth eat their life’s golden ticket

like it is a salty snack at bedtime.

For sleep, for retreat, into the veiling woods

the silence unfolding like a veil, mist disgusing

her disappointment, even love doesn’t always

fill in where that ends, fickle in ways

you only learn when it’s exhausting

to find alternate routes, still she finds herself

thinking of the mango girl, the weight of the future

bowing her head like a shy dancer in the wings

of some hot lit theater

how then it was overwhelming in an entirely different way

the touch of a stranger, electricity firing her magic

quills into ether and those nights of no sleep

spent creating, describing, entire worlds

the future, a glittering prize, a lover, a friend

perhaps

perhaps

perhaps

it is time for her to leave

her skin shed in parts like impatient lizard of the desert

indigo handprints leading into arroyo

the scars of her like points of light

shining through

perpetual dark

as we mistake a falling star

when it is ignis fatuus

mere oxidation of phosphine

causing us to believe

remarkably and with some relief

in fairies again

Distorted from downpour

Without you there, rubbing against my emptiness

I am a scream

begun without end

I may close my mouth

I may purse my lips and paint them

I may say yes please and thank you very much

and still dial your number

that no longer exists

just to hear it ring

in my mind

once

twice

three times

it may be you

on the other end

picking up, I can hear the lint

of the connection stretching like walkers on wire

a crackle, a fizz, the ghosting hiss of you

what are you saying?

Rolling down bled city streets with lights

hanging like old bottles, catching stray saline

I strain to hear

through ceaseless whiteout of rain

it is yellow against brown glass

distorted from downpour

slapping wetly in time to lost rhythm

pirate radio in storm, trying to reach land

crackle, fizz, pop, static … spreading her fingers

we danced on these steps

in our best clothes

with bare feet growing dirty

and it was then

as you spun hotly beneath your wool coat and laughed

your iris neck bent in grace

as elegant a thing I ever saw

dissolving through time into ushered coffin

we are still

on the phone trading jokes

switching out rolling papers with blackened tongues

I hear you sigh

as reedy and deep as mislaid wine

tap your cheap hoop earring against the line

hello? Hello? What’s that you say?

Now that you are out of the box

I think I shall remain within

for it is easier to sleep by these four corners

of memory

than try in unremitting rain

to go on without you

Thrive

For some

Can inhabit and thrive without the dark

I am not one

It is my wont to roam

Feel the tickling urge of excitement

Trained out of obedience, dark crystal inside maze

Blister unused tongue on your soft edges as we blaze

However old I grow, the longing unquenched, as linen will wrinkle in the instant of wearing

a woman holding herself in cupped hand as she turns in twilight

To brave the sultry lights, bangled, hennaed arms above my head

Sate the drums pounding in my chest, find trance in your musk

Lie in perfumed beds with long female limbs

Some would say it’s hedonism

Others simply wouldn’t understand

Why a 9/5 existence I cannot swallow whole

Surely there are prices to be paid

A reckoning when the time comes

I’ve seen it in all children of the night

When their fast urgency catches up with them

Such terrors I do more desire, than you

So harness me, make me obey your rule

For nothing I do stops the scald

Consumes my sanity and sets me running

Toward music and the gloom of the periphery

Where we who are cursed must sup, to sate longing

Our blood is not content with daily ritual

We live close to death, in the fury of passion

Short our lives be, they are magnificent

Relics of a time before without constraint

Wild and thirsting for motion we spun the world

Off its bloodied axis

The fixation & the vexation

susan seddon bouletSometimes there is an unbuckling of

temper and fear and loathing

mixed into indigo and strewn

in furied air

we pick it up as

a smell long forgotten

taps long dormant senses

and despite the years, regain

a moment mislaid

your arms doused with powder

glittering like another being, turning,

you, spectral and otherworldly

an afterglow of fiesta, a street

littered with signs of party goers

their tossed colors, a mélange of remembrance

we grind and mash and rearrange

clothes strewn in multi color love letters

on unpolished floor

seeking to find in electrified connection

that dizzying light

buoying briefly from surface

telling of depths few venture

where usually we rest, bobbing and sailing

absent of passion, thinking like the face of a clock

about slow steady movement, predictable pauses

spasms only in the imagination

or when a familiar song stirs a disquiet

whilst below, in regions beneath our reach

gained access through mutual need

briefly like the flick of a match

sets sulphur stalking cold corridors

only there, unbeknownst to the world

and her grave tick-tock visage

we earn closer, sloughing skin, molecules

separating individuals, ages, castles, skies

until on the windswept summit we fall

clutching each other in entreaty and relief

fading from sight, resisting wholeness

becoming starlight

only then, your damp hand caught

somewhere inside me, my bruised

lips smarting with the pressure of

cascading into earths center

do we know a place that is only ours

where we are pre-Denisovan and

holy, beneath the candle of a human’s

little watched life

that shallow wick, curved in entreaty

for meaning, for Gods, for monsters

and your rounding stomach, wet with tears

salt and oxygen and loss like a tableau

of everything, a table set for two

we sit obedient and fatigued

the lines of us, drawn before we arrive

breaking outside the cast, little cracks

small fizzures

with the fixation and vexation

of mortal love.

Come on Elaine

glasses of wine in a table
Photo by Inga Seliverstova on Pexels.com

Come on Elaine … this is how it would go

you’d get the email about your son, either dead, or gone, or famous

extremes of an only child, spoiled by two successful parents

likely famous, as he was in childhood, yeah … fat and famous

so now, he’s still not tall and he’s still not thin but he might be

unwrinkled and have lots of kids or … Venereal Disease

he might hate me, i suspect he would

why? Why do i think he’d hate me?

When he was the one who threatened me with a sword

when he was the one who broke the Lalique vase

i suppose because breaking hearts is worse than betrothed glass

though someone, with his desire for the world

i doubt anyone had the power to break his, because words

written by 18-year-old boys on the inside of cassettes of

music for my girl, rarely mean what they say and speak

with their hermaphroditic pricks.

i was older than him in lots of ways

i would have told you Elaine, it wasn’t my intention and yes

you remember us arguing but it wasn’t all me

when he was high, he was really high and

when he was low, he was really low

a sundial beneath the earth

i stayed witnessing, smoking chain after chain

his taking of porn, watching nude and slobbering

as i clamored in my shared insanity, letting him

have his hunger sated in my emptiness.

Well … depravity is depravity and girls who hate themselves

they’re really good at running with that and boys who

like to torture cats

did you know what he did behind that red door Elaine?

did you know what he was really like or just your little boy?

i remember his father once visiting and how

estranged they seemed and he hollered at you like he’d

never stopped not for one minute

and you screamed and screamed and screamed

i remember it because i witnessed it, see i’m not the bad penny

you assumed,  but he might think i am, that’s how our memory works

put her in this box, label it wrong; She’s the reason i got a Second at University

she’s why i didn’t fuck enough,  she’s why i fell out with my really good friends

(who weren’t so really good, if they had those seducing intentions)

and she? Sure, she let his friends do her, like she sold her soul for lasagna

or a slice of wholesome bread with Ganja

God she was always hungry, or purging

and the drugs he gave her, sometimes with prescriptions, sometimes with sweaty palms

sometimes naked on his stomach where his scar, shone like a dalmatian on a fire truck

she half-liked his brown skin and his imperfections, the matted hair, green eyes, short squat pudgy thighs and tiny cock

they didn’t threaten her, they reminded her of a girl

she felt safe even when she felt scared, his hormone injections, wild untamed stare

he said she made him calm, especially when sucking him off to a good record

yeah I bet. Swallowing is harder for those who give head, to narcissistic boys with pretty

circumcision.

Though it’s been so long, she can’t be sure, of what cut what and who bled and who left the door, slightly ajar,

because that was the year she found out she was mad

and he was too, so they sort of worked

though he wasn’t her boyfriend, though he wasn’t her brother, he was a lot of things under the covers

places where they could escape themselves and that eventual horror of knowing

you haven’t got any hinges and the world’s gonna spit you out into the gutter.

Elaine, she could tell you that your son, was actually a surprisingly good lover after she got through showing him how

or she could lie and say; We just watched horror movies, sometimes he posed me

and pricked me, and played, games, with paint and swords

which was also true, because it was all true.

We gorged ourselves, only children without parents who were home

and when you were, you chain smoked too, behind your dust and your exhausted slump

we all did, drinking your wine, eating delivered organic food, such irony Elaine

you think i was just some dumb girl with thin hips and a small brain?

You used to look at me like; Who the fuck do you think you are? And I’d look right back because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I was fucking the world with my sadness and it really didn’t matter what you thought or what anyone thought, because i’d already decided to jump

and i was watching all the time i was standing there, in my short skirt and my bare legs and my impossible tight breasts and my impossible tight cunt, all of which you hated, because your husband had left you for one

but one isn’t me, and i wasn’t her and she wasn’t it, and you weren’t alone, you were free of him, and he was the reason your son hated you, not me.

I watched through the floor boards, through holes in the ceiling, to your life unpeeling

for your short stubby hands revealing, to the kisses you gave the picture by your reading glasses, to the wine you drank and stained your hands with, before you passed them over yourself in genuflection like a good Catholic and reached for the vibrator

to your son hating you,  as he may have loved you also, why we never quite knew, does anyone? Hate being so close to love, as sex is to horror and horror is to desire.

Elaine, you summoned like a Magi, some kind of anger in him, at a strong mother or women in general, he was a sexist asshole, who liked men who hated women and women who let men hate them and I was a great substitute for Robert Crumbs little busty girls who bent over and let anger take them right up the ass

but he thought anorexic actresses with dark nipples were beautiful and one time i visited his office in Greek Street Soho WI and he was talking to a Jewish actress who i also thought was hot

Rachel Weisz you still are …

and she walked away with her five-inch heels and his eyes up her skirt

i wanted to say what about me? But i was just ordinary despite being an eight to his one, and she was a handsome, famous, adored shiny girl with a full rolodex and you were a tit man

who because you were a man, (though you’d never be a real man and that made you crazy) thought you could, (fuck Rachel Weisz? Seriously?) and you never would, but it was funny imagining, especially when you already had more than you ever would

(with me, the girl of cinders and soot)

so i watched you watching her and later on when you pretended it was her you took

i pretended right back because i wouldn’t mind being her or being you

and if i were her I’d let you split me open four ways like star of anise and divide me back because it’s a soulless game and I’m your whore and i’m your mother and i’m your bloody crack.

I’m sure now you have a young wife and four chubby kids with green eyes

or you might have died, by plunging into a canal, or cutting your throat with a blunt razor

if you’d started to shave after you starred aged ten in Ms Marple as the fat cheeked boy with shorts on and a smart mouth (yeah that was about right)

but either way, i hope you will let me know Elaine, what happened to your son

because i didn’t burn his house down, he did, he struck a match and he lit us both

on fire, until we stopped being repulsive and we stood charred and broken

in Camden Town, not being able to afford to drink, at The Elephant

or fuck each other in your bed, or die standing up right then and there

because burned people are shadows, they persist

in

reminding us

of

them.

I think of him regularly, whilst I’m sure, he has long forgotten me, which isn’t fair and is ironic and really typical, because men operate on a different time and hour. They think of the girl who is bending over now and not the one who did when they first learned to use their magic wand

unless she was obedient at all times and acted the part, in which case they will brag at 45 of the one they did in St. James’s park, who hitched up her skirt and got on all fours, and she was a “right go-er that one,”

Yeah I gave it to her so many times, she couldn’t walk and yeah, yeah, yeah, builders salivating in a pub talk, I guess you had me enough you could, but you’re probably an attorney and that means you like being tied up and debased, and it’s bad taste to talk about women who left you

raw

because you’re in control, you’re the passive one with the fat wallet and the penchant for sex in the afternoon in a diaper, or with a plastic mask over your hair, that you cut when you became serious, so you could hide the scream and the mess of your desperation.

Sometimes I check online to see, if you posted the naked pictures you took when I wasn’t even legal, in your bathroom, where your mom had lots of soap in fancy bottles

whoops

because we both have ruin in our DNA, and Elaine, if you’d asked, I might have slept with you both, your eyes were so lonely and I liked how ruined they were

the extending, unending madness of your family of animals

it comforted me, slowly dawning, I was mad also, I really didn’t know it, until

my

little foot

fit

your

little shoe

that

is.

(First published in Ascendum Magazine 2016).

The Opal

I think of you

My heart clenches

In the carousel of seconds it takes to form a moment, yet I managed to witness a lifetime

How did you come to be

A vowel, a constellation, a rhyme in my mind

Days are bare, unpainted walls

Thinking of you I find color

Music

Can’t imagine a world with only one of you in it

I want to breathe you in

Molecules and seconds

Making up days spent together, pieces of paper forming a page

Marbles inside the other

Flowers retaining pigment as they dry

Death and life, striding side by side

Dancing beneath raw bulb, open sky

The pulse in your throat the clench of your thigh

Sweetness in a certain, slow agony

Instrument run over temperate string

The cry of unseen things in the dark

Listen, listen, closer, I bend my head

You tell me everything in one pearlized glance

If there were a creature able to step from shell, made flesh

I think she’d be you, you with your untouchable countenance

The regal surity of your long sloping neckline

How cheek bones become canvas, become art, become song

Your thin chest against mine, just once, like a film played forward and backwards

I see the embrace, an ackwardness, then I’m wearing my best dress, nearly spent, bare feet on dirty street roads, because I wore heals to look like your fantasy and one broke clean in half

You can take things like that as omens

I’ll continue to believe where there are feelings, there are destinations

Electricity above us in the heavens, sprung to earth

Lines in sand, in skin, in the consoling sky at night

Across your sleeping skin, when I want you to dream like I

Building on fantasy, stories come fully real

Only in others lives it seems, you swim ever further away

Until a shadow, a mirage, just the sound of your escape

Sometimes you strangle the moment, with accident or heavy hand

Intensity not meant for now, should take its time to build

I gave you no time, in my world you had long been its center

A flower within flowers, mandala tattooed on the small of my back in purple, calling

I think of you

My heart clenches

In the carousel of seconds it takes to form a moment, yet I managed to witness a lifetime

Before the end there was a beginning, unsung, untested, disused, sythed baren

Leaving nothing in its scatter but wistfulness

Like a memory without basis, not existing, just as real

The feel of your reddened lips, goodbye, never touched, still here

In the unfolding of time, you flicker closer, then far, then in, then

Out

Like an Opal on my finger

Luminous, unforgettable, the night air charged with its curse.

Girl of honey

You have been in my mind

A very long time

I wonder how long it takes

For a persistent, returning thought

To gain permanence

Some part of me, an echo of some part of you

Even if one way, even if you have no idea, even if I am one of many

There’s something lovely about how I feel about you

As if I alone can see the greater things that make you

As if I had power to reflect you out into the world

Give substance to the emotion of being enthralled

A smile you cannot describe, a neck as delicate as a flower stem

From those secret recesses, an unfurling of more

I’ll never share all I see, when you aren’t aware of being observed, thinking yourself invisible

Or how many times you make me wince

Just imagining

How it would be if you returned

Even a tenth

Even a fifth of what I feel

If you could see me and long to

Wipe that errant strand from my brow

Take my hands in yours until they warmed

Cold hands, warm heart

Your mittens clammy with frost and body heat, you stand apart needing nothing, least of all me

In my imagination, our roles reverse

It is your chest that swells

In my proximity

Your blood rushes to your cheeks

When I look up into your caramel eyes

Eyes that remind me of sunlight

Poured through honey

Disapproving lips I want to touch with my own

It physically hurts

To think of you like cross hatches made with sharp knife on skin once able to be without

I could draw out my longing to lay beside you

Trace lines I am unfamiliar with until I know them as destinations

I thrive when you enter my heart and set it alight

Is it ever too late? Is it ever no longer necessary?

To raise you above them all

To need to follow you where you go

In the silence of time, you blaze

With my ever sustaining regard

Never as simple as; just something about her (although there is JUST SOME THING ABOUT YOU)

Not as easy as; do not take a chance

Hesitation has thrown herself away in fits

Made this the hour, I do something

To show what I always felt

Watching you then and now

Years in-between, no time, no space

Desire will be the last to survive

The heart is certain

Even as dreams may doubt their endings

We swim, eyes fastened on shoreline

The outline of you emerging, full and complete

Against ever changing background, your cruelty

Just a defense, used forever

Until there is no need.

Gentle & low

Robert MapplethorpeTruth hinted at

there’s a ghost in the machine

that’s me

she’s climbing out of her past, survived the worst

they hold up mirrors and shout

let it out, let it out

the she who is me

spread eagle, violate

who will she need to please to be free?

I watch her as I would a

lover who coming close is further apart

the darkness of hurt

a chocolate center to emptiness

her breasts are hard and warm like

lost thoughts in my hair

we weave a strangeness over one another

her fingers inside me and then

words perfumed in the air

promises were said and broken

the bed lays untouched and I would wish I’d been

so lucky

bruises act like kisses and kisses are too deep

your tongue goads my sleep

when I said no you took and ate

your fill, then with moonlight cutting

curtains blind in silver

I see the outline of sin and pleasure

how pain is curled in little leisure

the first strike, sharp lines, leather belt

hands around my neck and down my throat

marks left on marks, growing roses in darkness

you make a hand print of the child lost

blood in water, sheets and cries

who will clean the absolution and who will

witness the last time?

I gave you what I could, it wasn’t

full it wasn’t even good

that was all there was

empty roads, night time rain, ebony on asphalt

lay me down on thorns

paint me a picture of torment

here’s my proffer, my scorn

for not being able to keep a secret

pluck a pin, suck it in, there it sprouts

savage love, ruins the innocent

pain comes in snatches like dreaming

you relish the way I collapse after you’ve taken

this last suspense, rinse out, leave her ready

for the next punch, a wound so loud

her breath has vocals

I’ve been gone a long time now

only the sound of the past plays

on repeat

gentle and low

as violence ebbs her sharp tongue

licking the wounded with happy sorrow

From you …

two woman kissing each other
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Night isn’t dark enough to cover my shame

How I reveal myself to you from these coils

So long hung to rust with ashy regret of inaction

I once watched my life on the movie screen and when it ended

We all toasted the director, who wrote our existence

On the inside of his scarred wrist.

Do father’s ever know their daughters?

Grown in earth before lightning strike

Do lovers ever desipher the real reason for silence

Resting like a found feather on dusty counter top

So easily blown to floor.

Night isn’t dark enough to cover my need

To emerge un-whole and starving from grief

And feast on you until all blood is drunk.

I grow ill with desire

It boils my want the color of bones found beneath rocks

And thunder reminds me

Without you

I am always

Alone.

Lift me then, into your mouth, make a meal of my belief

There is only one go around on the Ferris wheel

Afterward

You smooth indigo sheets free of perspective

lying as flat as hope without wind to bouy them apparent

As I am diminished in anything without you

iris petals growing ever soft against their hard stalks.

Night isn’t dark enough to cover my words

Spoken like strokes over your ebony crown of thorns

My unquiet heart desirous of posie finds in you

A glittering creature, unreachable in your poise.

My feet are sore from running and my heart hammers as

A hundred drums pound the surge of us

Your devour and my claim are loose souls finding substance

In the fever of each other against

Belting storm, whipping its wrath like enthusiastic penetant

Eager to evoke blood

Mine and yours on scald of dawn

From you …

Night isn’t dark enough to disguise my love.