MAKE ME

war paint

When I’m not telling people

I am the least competitive person you’ll meet

I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema

I am nevertheless, competing with myself

to survive

the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole

appears to be my greatest talent

should they look me up in the dictionary

I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero

it began before words were formed, a slow

incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies

of my relatives

a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty

denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach

was more than a night terror

swimming for medals was competitive after all but

didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded

like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget

noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city

swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found

among cast-off plasters.

Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened

by sandwich of pain in my gut or how

no-one for me sitting among keening spectators

when I came up for air.

Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it

perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house

with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.

When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl

I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy

kid shoes against linoleum hallways

what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated

we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the

shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?

We learn the company of other Reparates

is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot

make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling

soon I gave up trying for A’s

locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends

instead of this disinterested girl

briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater

but coming up for air was much harder.

I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined

surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds

battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world

I rarely visit

it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with

the shifting skin of me

something that happens when you begin to leach

that essence of youth and vigor

realizing, if you can make it out of bed today

you’re doing better than the day before.

I hear in my head, the scold of my mother

who believed I gave myself this illness

and much as they’ve told me that’s madness

I am often found returning to those words

as if they have some clammy power over me

which of course, they do.

I know I was well and then I was not

just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity

or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage

it’s a day when colors and sounds change

in this case, terror walked into my throat

sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.

Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those

paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores

put them in water and watch them bloom

only long enough before turning to ink and

wet tree pulp

it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than

those you expect

angry with yourself for not learning sooner

expectation leads to disappointment.

This could be why I didn’t

enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)

better to stay low and wait it out until

you can have your turn

only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left

then it’s almost too late and you have to change

everything.

Nowadays I compete with myself

can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?

Will it matter if I do?

What happens afterward?

Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird

I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart

Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’

perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but

something lovely, I can only hope

though my body likes to punch me in the gut

as I fall asleep and try to dream

thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice

this was something you did wrong

thump, thump, thump, my own voice

no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around

even getting half way there would be some kind

of accomplishment

which is why I always said it’s not about winning

but making the effort

to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.

Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between

throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying

maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see

I’m not from here, I don’t belong

though where I came from I hardly know anymore

so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw

with every passing year I realize

I can’t win, I but I will fight

MAKE ME I whisper to myself

bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.

 

Possess no place

ghost_on_stairs_lg-57c74ae55f9b5829f47ec990

a day may show itself

long or near from now

where pain and fear possess no place

their greedy place at your table outstayed

uninvited guests

came into your life, wrecking balls

fathomless of the despair they could put

as wicked times will have us ensnared

forgetful of former peace

hostages to the ease with which

sickness makes strangers of us.

Who inhabits this body of pain?

when did normalcy include such horror?

what lurks behind the shell of our discontent?

masking the urge to cry out with futile restraint

who do we hide our agonies from? Or is it that obscene need to appear

while and strong? While behind public doors we collapse in mock

no succor for the actor of their own wellness

Give me hope we clamoring souls sing in our flung prayer and rage

let me believe

believe again

find the keys, the healer, the drug, the end of

this

or I think I wish

I never existed

a thought I’ve had many times before

though none are without regret

some of us excel at impoverished thought.

I do not remember the me before

mornings of hurt, nights of pain

was she a creature capable of delight and desire?

did I feel alive?

Sometimes it’s hard to know

the fall is long down rabbit hole

make me

myself again

whomever she was

a better dream

than this

slow living just above not existing

hardly realized

quiet in accepted

thirst

for another grasp at hope

for any

recourse

where fear and pain

possess no place

The preserve of her emotions

Get up.

When you were ten, your body was a springboard

You bent in the wind, dashing forward.

Get up.

When did you start to believe otherwise?

With the coming of stiff mornings and anxiety in your belly?

As life crept nearer to unknown trials?

When did you give up believing?

You could again, hold the Fates cupped in your hand

And blow to scatter, seed to four corners.

Get up.

The white sheet, covers a multitude of unsaid

An imprint of the living, breathing, fear of mankind.

She appears to be a well behaved woman, with hair needing to be trimmed

But like a cake of many layers, the face fit for public consumption, is just wet paint.

If it was acceptable, she’d grab the quiet man, stooping to take her vitals

And craw in his ear, the gravy of her distress.

What would she say? That has not been said before? Who would care? In an ever-ready world powered by rhetoric?

When she was eighteen, she could command attention just by crossing her legs or flashing her eyes

But what a dismal game that felt, a fraud of poker and thighs.

They only paid her heed due to the bewitchment of youth and some promise it told their nether regions.

So often she’d mistaken lust and hunger for love and care

But they were no more than empty vessels, wishing to dock briefly in her harbor.

Her game, if it was one … of fishing for favor, a warm body, a pretend consolation

Left her desolate, like an addict without pipe

All her fancy, dried up and rotten in the artifice of it all.

And then she’d tripped over that invisible and superficial line

From youth, to something men did not wish to define and women morned.

She however, felt relief.

Not to be the party planner, proving her game was fitting in

It was gentler to command less and need no filling or straight flush

Though they say a woman’s worth, must be found in herself

For her sell-by-date leaves her invisible to the world.

And that was true. She did no longer

Turn heads or find men leant in, too close

Instead she was a ghost, haunting the specter of herself

Unsure why she claimed purchase on earth anymore.

It was as if the mic had been turned off

And everyone left the room

For the audition of younger models next door.

She was not a mother and could not connect

With married women who worried their husbands would stray, with downy cheeked baby sitter.

Nor was she eager to fill her face with plastic, just to feel a little of what she’d lost

(Why was it a loss?)

There seemed no path cut out for castaways of normal

No clear direction to take, on the other side of age.

Men … they remained mostly unchanged

Still harboring the illusions of youth, with rapidly balding heads and expanding guts

She felt so much … but who now wanted to hear her words?

Where was an audience for silver haired creatures of Artemis?

If she’d been an owl, she’d have screeched at night

And people would have woken and said; Goodness, that sounds like murder!

Such was her need to share

The preserve of her emotion.

So get up.

Though it has been long since you hopped on one foot

Or worn brightly colored hats, just because you could

And not, for the fondle of admirations dusty nod

But the sheer delight of being at last

A woman of substance.

Second chance

Not if, WHEN I am well, I will not squander, but should not have needed, a second chance

It will be / It already is / a spiked and harpooned, learning curve

There is humiliation, in not being insightful enough

That it took, being brought to kneel, flayed by horrors, to be grateful enough and find strength

As only when / it’s almost too late / we plead and beg / for one more chance

It is the truer person, who needs no such prompt, but lives rightly, first time around

I am declaring reincarnation and broken-handed, putting myself back together, limb by limb, until even I, do not recognize, the survivor within

She has sore knees from beseeching and a box of unwound screams for keeping

Maybe together, we can shift the albatross, tie on our ice skates, and, leaving bearly visible lines, skate the circumference, to where we last left ourselves, before water absorbed and we sunk, full of the weight of years, undone

Long ago and just now, these worthiest goals lay fallow, ink blots of punctuate

For the urge to live fully, is always most powerful, when denied.

Then, it is up to you, said the rise of each, urgent day

To scatter yourself in those lined troughs, awaiting divine chemistry

To grow once more, whole, when the door is opened and light let in, again

I pray for all, who yearn to begin

One way you can see, throw a penny in a pond, watch ripples cast divination

Fortune can be such a fickle playmate, the one who steals your efforts from your plate or, coin shall surface, catching sunlight, glint, at days ahead, not so dim

And while you wait inside your bird cage, the journey of even those imprisoned, can rise, from the depths of status quo

The lost and lingering who have forgotten how, to float on water

It is in horror, we see truth

horse-2565584_960_7201262177708.jpg

Before

is a color I cannot describe

a place I don’t fit into anymore.

 

Even if I am restored

things will be changed for good

for most of us there are times

that shape our marrow

could be in the form of torment

maybe sorrow, sometimes joy

often the hardest times leave deepest imprint

perhaps it shouldn’t be that way

we should rejoice our luck a little, usually too busy enjoying ourselves

to leave permanent mark or maybe, challenge speaks louder than mirth

it is easy to accept a good day like a hot bath

than deal with a bad and hollow foe

that’s when our quick is sharpened,the story of our lives written

on the tip-toe of endurance

and what if we do not want to endure?

too bad, shit happens, legs break, minds crack

we’re going to end up there at some point

better waterproof our leaking sides best we can

the ocean isn’t a forgiving mistress.

 

When I fell, my mouth filled with salt

even then I didn’t know how far torment, reached down

it was a well, beneath the sea

a second drowning

for those who long to be free above ground

shackles of the merciless kind

only then I wondered at the strength of others

enduring from such an early age whilst I

ran long in the garden, unawares, chasing butterflies without a care

thinking I knew real pain from a momentary hurt

I knew so little

just a moment ago and a life time apart.

 

I am a twin of my previous self

we stand on different sides of the same coin

I am submerged, she is still, basking in the glow of a harvest moon

sometimes I look over at her and feel such envy

anger for my lack of appreciation when I, was her

but you cannot lead a horse to water

you cannot teach a child what she must learn

getting stung on the principle, she discovers through pain

it wasn’t in my thoughts that I should be

the girl on the other side of the echo, pleading to return

I don’t know if I will be permitted

but should I ever, walk again without curse

it won’t be as the same person, but a mixture of two

once you’ve seen yourself and begged for mercy

everything alters and everything stays the same

it’s up to you to be mindful of what you learned in that maze of pain

I learned what we think of as hardship

is often just everyday life

what we believe is suffering

can be comfort compared to other lives

when we don’t think we can change

then we aren’t given a chance, we know we should have

it is in diminishment we find elucidation

it is in horror we see truth.

 

Let me back inside my life again

and I will not be the girl who, took the easy road

for she now knows, just how deep anguish can go

it is in the tangle of the briar

and the wormwood of old trees

whispering advice never heeded

by the youth who believe themselves free.

 

Before

is a color I cannot describe

a place I don’t fit into anymore

 

 

Sound

The kitchen, the harth, the space, is unlit

Weak light, nothing stirring

She is as still, as a breathing creature, can be

Sound… is for the world, chasing beyond itself

Where girls like her, hold tight to bus rails, wind messing their hair

Where children cling to parents, shy in perpetual game

Where men stoop to kiss women, full cheeks upturned

Music and the chink of movement, gypsy motion

Color and the russle of long skirts, like painted fans

A sky as blue as country girls eyes

The haggle of time

A red river, carved by motion

She wore those days, like a red dress, loose limbed and free

Unknowing yet, bestial crush of illness

Jeering like envious stranger, swallowing thin air

She is as still as a breathing creature can be

Sound, is for the world, chasing beyond itself

Mercy

picasso-woman-with-fanYour mother would scold you

pick yourself up ugly child

clean your room, scrub and polish

until there is no room for doubt

you may be unloved but

you will keep a straight back and shiny shoes

 

and you

learned quicker than a mouse

can covet cheese and steal itself a piece

to keep yourself small and burning

for a time to pounce

back under the hot lights of attention

turn this way and that until you are

bronzed like an award you make yourself

for surviving

 

I am owed

you think as you spit on your reflection with shirt cuff

and shine it brand new

I am owed

for my childhood

all the taint it took, not to reduce to rubble

instead I built myself a fort and became unbreakable

 

because this world eats the tender-hearted

with morels and mustard for breakfast

crushes underfoot truth in her glass orb

it is better we inherit the sharp cold heart of our destroyers

lift up our skirts and cross the puddles

with insulated rubber boots

than wallow in the frigid water

wondering why

most of what we do and say is

superficial and a lie to

garner peace and stifle the dagger

aimed at our center

 

all good but for the gentle

soul who can no more hurt than

turn away from need

she who cups water in her hands

to feed the thirsty flower

struggling to grow through concrete

by the side of exhaust-ridden road

what miracles we behold

surviving against the odds

it is this solace

keeps us staying who we are

when the world would pitch fire

extinguishing mercy

leaving battlefields full

for crows to pick through

we endure, laying down our

arms, our faces pointed toward

the clouds and wait

for rain to pour down