For Halo

My debt rests in your fur

as they light it

and it burns

and your form shrinks

from this world

your black and white paw limp against my clutching

fingers wishing you here

those images are cookie cut into my mind

called intrusive thoughts and flash-backs

I know them well

they are not my friend as you were my friend

I imagine what you feel and then recall

you no longer feel anything

though that does not seem right

without religion I am left unknowing

where you land next or if you will

awaken in paradise or remain slumbering

whether sleep or a void, if we can truly leave

and have nothing of ourselves remain

but ash and debris

it seems impossible that you were once

jumping onto the table and making me laugh

with your antics

only to be nowhere and gone eternal

I may not possess sufficient faith

to build castles in the sky but

your energy stays like stillness in

this empty house and from the corner of my eye

I still see your shadow slink just as

my grandmother’s voice is pitch perfect in my head

is that imagination or wishful?

Or do ghosts haunt us willing supplicants?

A bouquet of delusion to soothe our empty

arms or

will you live forever within me? And when I take

my turn at the Ferris wheel

our nothingness will reside near one another

I like the idea, all I have loved will

mingle as returned starlight in the ether

and touch one another with reminder

for being alone or worm food is

a cold dinner companion I wish not

to believe in

even if God turns his head from me and always has

for his man-made lack of female

and my rib is long and sticks into my gut

reminding me I am ever every man’s equal

and will never lay down to those dull prescriptions

of what constitutes truth from a man’s tongue.

Your fur was thicker than all the cats here

who grew up hot and listless on porches

you came with me in a pink plastic box

obscene in its garishness we laughed

putting it through customs

the harried lady at flight desk remarked

well there he goes as you were taken

hand delivered, to the pit of the plane

and I worried because I wanted you to be

on my knee but no madam, I’m afraid for long haul

he has to ride in cargo and don’t worry

few of them get upset, as if she were crouched among you knowing this

this seemed false as so many things do

when big decisions linger like absent friends

at the periphery of moments

too quick, too big, for staying still

briefly I wondered; Should I really be moving?

to this strange country I do not yet know and

burning this bridge indefinitely

it felt as wrong as right ever was and I stood

in the airport watching the thin man take you

behind a curtain and then as you were on your way

so was I.

You see …

I took my cue from you

quite often

and of the two of us when we landed

I think you looked less bedraggled

whilst I fought with immigration because one of my papers

was not ‘just so’ and they called and fussed because

immigrants are not very welcome in any country

and annoy those whose jobs it is to ensure

smooth sailing

and when we reunited

on different soil with the sound of cicadas or crickets

I was not sure in those days

you were hot against my grandmothers blanket

and had peed because they don’t let animals

out to the bathroom at 30,000 feet

which was exactly how I felt, hot and wet and stinking

at the same time, in this odd place where

people were outgoing and spurned shyness or other

attributes we both possessed

with aplom

following our dreams or maybe just mine

as your dreams were about mice or pigeons and later

lizards and snakes

as you learned the ways of the desert

and perhaps the tenor of your meow changed

to reflect the inflection of your adopted country.

It may seem easier but it is not easy for any of us

who come by boat, plane or smuggle, to

lands not our own, we each bring with us

that belly full of ache

and you were always able to

soothe mine with your purr and ever

reminder of our start beneath colder skies and

smaller streets with littler houses and narrow

rooms where we knew our place and here

we could only speculate or clumsily test

our sea legs against

the strangeness of being

with mistake and estrangement

our sole friends quite a while.

Unable even to drive I walked you down the road

for your first vet check and people gaped

from their large cars at the floundering Europeans

walking where no-one walks and everyone uses

big trucks to go one mile and purchase a giant

sippy cup and some Ding Dongs, things with

names that sound fun and 40 additives

my kind of humor and banter lost against

surge of habit, the vet seemed surprised I

had carried you rather than driven and tut-tutted

at your lack of dental hygiene

but remarked how beautiful your thick fur was

and how cats in these parts tend to have

snake skin, we all laughed at that, even you

cast a fish eye his direction like you

possessed the real secrets.

I remember those exploits and driving to Canada on another

exodus when stateless we began again

another groove in our fitful recording

the deep snow and your paw prints leading

me nearer and further

like ice fish we swam in our odd circumstance

always together, staring out stranger windows like

spectators at our own fair ground

in cold you slept beside me and purred

in your sleep to the sound of icicles

warming and falling into snow the

sky a heavy weight holding its breath

eventually we returned to the place of infernal heat

and sizzling side walks where no one but us

and straggly weeds dared to step and the years wound like

lost yarn beneath our odd foray

until you were old and fragile

and I barely noticing because I did not want to

believe you could quit being the little cat

in the pink plastic box glad to see me at the

first airport in our new world.

It was naive or immature of me to forget

cats lives do not echo ours and mine seemed

suddenly far too long and yours bitterly short

a terrible echo of inequality I did not

have the strength to imagine losing you

when together we always were.

Even people who wrote said; ‘Dear Candy, Dear Halo’

as if they could see the join of your fur and my

burning skin against the other

I told myself I would be there when they

sent you to that place I could not follow

despite knowing in my mind the terrible pictures

would roam long and unbidden for many years

to look into your eyes and remind you how much you mean

to me and always how I will look for you

until we are reunited and then I expect

all this will be mere bad dreams and

again we can go forward, or side ways or

whatever direction the after world takes us

but please together, is all I want

for with you gone, I wait without watch

an absence greater than anguish

for you were my best friend in this lonely world

assuaging the hard edges and frayed corners

we came here together and still I am

more lost without you than when I arrived

for your bright eyes and happy tail

gave me courage Halo and ever shall I

look for you coming into the kitchen in

the morning with your half howl of greeting

starting my day and ending it with

putting you to your bed

never once thinking there could be a time

when you were not and I still went on.

Aristotle said it best; a relationship is

two bodies one soul

that is real love

and we are floundering when absent from one another

like the ice fish when it warms up

and water is all but gone.

For my first friend in America

Your hand covers mine

we clasp for the camera and smile a 100 watt smile

The American Way

I have learned

how to park a truck

that pale legs are not

as anathema in Texas as in Cannes

I understand, ordering drinks you size up

trying clothes, you size down

topsy-turvy world for a foreigner

lost in her baggage claim.

You made me feel

easy and comfortable like an adirondack chair

smooth wood, deep grain, eccentric shape

this became my town and in so many ways

it was thanks to you taking the time

to show me the way to fit in

the candles dim in the windows of the bar

as if they know you are now gone

where the bird died and we buried it

flowers grow up and a little crepe myrtle

as if forever our steps, will be marked here

mountain laurel blooms wildly

across splayed streets replete with thin cats

seeking their breakfast at Taco huts, the color of watermelon

where I ate among the gladioli without fear.

In the beginning

you were like Tiger Balm

rubbed over my fear, I was no longer shivering

could make my way through the throng

as good as anyone

your watchful eyes on my narrow back

seeing how I did, urging me onward

how will I continue with you gone?

Family, you said, comes from the heart

you may find someone you love in the strangest places

I found you in a Chinese buffet eating Won Tong soup

in my skinny jeans and piss and vinegar

you asked me if I used to be a dancer

I said yes, and now I unravel for a living

you took under your wing, that juniper girl who

didn’t know how to fit in to her new clothes

taught her the measure of her adopted land

like the time we planted trees and you warned

never forget to be merciful, to those less fortunate

the sky was pure blue that day, on the wind

the smell of honeysuckle and river lily

white cranes flew languidly overhead

we shared Limeade and Tortas, our feet dipping in hot puddles

I recall

the first time you were sick

I said, you reminded me of my grandmother

and you frowned; I’m not old enough!

But what I meant was

she had a strength, nobody else could see

every time I went to school she’d wait

in her high-waisted pants of crepe or wool

tight curled hair, wearing oversized sunglasses

below the stairs, nodding with a wink

mouthing the words; You got this

and I’d go into my classroom with a 100 watt smile

not fearful anymore

nobody saw that side of her, just as

people dismissed you as a Jesus Freak

seeing past the strength of your resolve

to live with love

I admire those; who have mercy and compassion

I look to those; who are loyal and unafraid to love

it is the weave of this girl, to follow in those footsteps

bring kindness, do good, lend yourself to gentleness

when I grew sick I saw, how many live with

anger and resentment, undoing their humanity

until they are unrecognizable and only breathe

the exhaust of their bitterness.

To the rose

opening this day

after your passing

I say, O glory, O beauty

live in the sun

as radiant and perfect as anything I have known

and I hear your voice, see your face nodding

you got this

I want to run backward and say

please don’t leave me, don’t go

but I know you have to

and I have to go on

alone but holding your wisdom

your mercy

in those lessons you left

imprinted upon my heart.

The wounded eyed girl

15Before I knew myself, uttered out loud the words

labeling me a this or a that or a who knows?

I developed feelings for a wounded eye girl

we were kids really, dressing up as Japanese geisha in my room

all festooned in asian print and a little tea set I got for cheap

from china town

we wore chopsticks in our hair and bowed ceremoniously

singing the only song we knew in Japanese

with The Mikado playing in the background

I liked her thin arms and her prominent nose

her knock knee urchin look and bandaged soul

I liked how strong she was even as she looked like she’d fly away

most of all I was attracted to her wounded eyes

for there is something heady and bewitching in

pain

and its infinite manifestations

we’d dress up, I would paint her lips scarlet, we’d put on

funny accents and roll on the floor looking up at glow stars

I still had stuck there with movie posters of vampires

she would fling her arm out across my chest,  tell me of herself

pouring out the suffering of her short life

and it was an awful life before she was

brought to this city we lived in, both from somewhere else

transplants, orphans, ghosts of ourselves with missing DNA

she would tell me of her homeland, how

her father beat her black and blue for

being a girl

why as she got older he took

each of her sisters one by one

and they didn’t come back

whole or even

well repaired

I wanted to lick the pain from her cheeks and hold her to me

until the wound healed

but nothing I could ever do would assuage

the wounds behind her dark brown eyes

so we played as little girls do

building camps and tepees and western saloons

once I played a prostitute and she a cowboy

I cocked my head, snapped a red garter and asked her;

want to have some fun soldier?

she laughed, such a lovely laugh

her black hair and coffee skin, shining with fantasy

she didn’t like being herself anymore than me

we got into our pretend saloon bed

I served her a pretend shot of whiskey

acted ‘saucy’ the way I had learned from TV

she rolled her eyes laboriously like a comedian winking

pulled up my petticoats which were real

and at one point had been my mother’s wedding dress

when she married my father, bare foot and broke

with a velvet ribbon tied around her neck

and our fingers explored each other

as we giggled and changed our voices to all the favorite

TV characters we knew

I think I even tried to be Sue Ellen

I wanted to tell her then, not to stop

to press my mouth to her pomegranate lips

touch her swelling breasts with my own lack of

run myself like a cat across her saffron skin

but even then I knew

damage makes bad bed fellows

we soon changed the game, to cops and robbers

climbing out of the window, swinging from trees

though in every story

there was an element of romance

I thought of the old shows I loved

where the actors were always

dancing around the circumference

of each others heart

how in real life sometimes they married

I told my father; Oh see! Oh see! pretend things can come real!

but some cannot

and she and I grew up

once she told me she had always known I felt like that

I blushed dark red because of course

thinking I’d been subtle when watching her changing clothes

she married a blonde haired man and moved to Australia

had a little boy and hopefully

a ceasing of her alotment of pain

because more than anything I wanted that for her

even more than the beautiful moment

of two girls

laying in sunlight

laughing at imagined things

for the rest and peace and escape

of anything real

 

She told me, don’t worry about it

We’re sitting talking about how we know

You’re making me laugh at jokes, about Hannibal

How I only like Gillian, because she’s a bit like you

And I can’t tell anyone, including you

You reminded me how I knew, I was still alive

In the video of you dancing, uncaring and wild

That’s how I’m reminded why

I know beauty

How women

Are the possessors of

All that is beautiful

With your downcast eyes, the color of absinthe

Hair falling in your pale face, cut cheekbones and grace

The switch of your merciless, marching intelligence

The sorrow, the humor, the passion lines

How you make me laugh hysterically and blush

Pouting, pulling on your cigarette, getting me aroused and nervous

Without trying, you command all attention

Your wit is sharper than a sword

When you didn’t talk to me

It was like a blonde flower, turning her lights out

The night was darker

Still I heard

That song you made immortal

The sway of your slim hips and secret smile

And I’m speaking to you in a language, I outlawed

Because he dirtied it for me, forever

But you sound so lovely talking in the fog

I know I have to stand at a distance, or I’d reach out

Grab the concentration from your lovely brow

But to be in your blazing aura

The tiny, angry, intelligent, firey soul

You inhabit like no other

You were the girl who woke me up

I’d give anything to dance with you

To that exact song, in those same clothes

Your then blonde hair, a chaotic wisp

The crunched concentration on your francophone face

There’s classic and there’s disheveled-perfect and you’re both

I’d take your hand and say

Don’t worry, I know the rules

But for fucks sake we’ve both been here long enough

born the same year

You got the small chest I always wanted

And you said you liked my eyes

Same color green as yours

Not narcissism

But sisters

Lovers of

Pain and hard living

We only trust those like us

Who smoked and drank and have to show on our tired faces, the weariness of living

Where boundaries are never crossed

But fantasy is free and inked

And you like being adored

I am good at loving

Sad, happy, gorgeous girls, with crooked smiles

Who hold my attention with their spark

Catching in the darkness like a skinned rock, thrown out to sea

On Brighton beach

Where we’ll always be young and beautiful

Me chasing you in the cold sea

You disappearing into green waves

This is a real world as it is an unreal world

I was going through the list of who I am following on WordPress with a view of clearing out people who had stopped writing on their blog. It’s sad. All the good intentions we have, all the excellent names for blogs, the ideas, the effort, where do they go?

Interestingly; I noticed that many of the people who had depression and/or feminism in their title line were no longer writing. I wondered, is that a coincidence or do things that matter but are not popular (depression/feminism) die out?

Whilst I admire those who continue a blog for years, writing faithfully every day/week/month I would also say that many of the BEST writers are those who start blogs and never continue them. I wonder where they are now? I wonder if they are okay? It seems sad to see their potential and ideas lost.

When I was sick I didn’t write for a few months here-and-there but people knew I was still around. I wonder how long it takes to not be around and not be noticed if you are not around, I wonder how long it takes to vanish or feel you have vanished?

Upon joining WP I met with a small group of writers/poets/thinkers and they were my ‘first’ friends here. What is interesting is of those, some are still my dearest friends and some completely vanished and this after professing love and life-long friendship. Of those who vanished, either into their own egos or others, they were the loudest at proclaiming such undying friendship. Had I known then, they were just saying it, I wouldn’t have invested as much time in cultivating those friendships but not everyone is like that, usually only those who speak the loudest (and I wonder why that is?).

At times I am tempted to ask some of those who never keep in touch, what happened? Where’s the love? ha ha ha! Because they were SO VERY effusive and then like a raisin in the sun they dried up and went onto greener pastures … I guess that’s the whim of the budding author for you! Yeah I met a few of those too. I learned from that fickelty though. No matter what happens, I’ll never feel too self-important for those who were there for me.

Going through the list is like looking back on the years I have written on WP and all the people I have met. I feel so lucky to have met those people, so many of them I really count as TRUE friends and I care deeply for them. Others I may not be literal friends with but I admire what they do and who they are, very, very much. We are basically, a wonderful community and I feel richer for being here.

Let’s spare a moment for those who are not here. In our WP world we have lost people. Those who have died. Those who have become too sick to write. Those who are too depressed to write. Those who are not here and though we do not know why, they are gone. Let’s think about those people we met when we first began here, the faces and voices of those who are not here now for a myriad of reasons. I for one, do not forget them. It’s a bit like first-love, you don’t easily forget your first.

Thank you to Rita, Eric, Tony, Monique, Derick and Sabrina, some of the very ‘first tribe’ who welcomed me and whom I had here on WP, for still being around and still sending your sunshine my way regularly.

Oh, and if this teaches me anything, it is to appreciate someone whilst they are here and to try to always keep writing through life’s ups and downs and appreciate the value of people coming into your life and holding you to the light.

For Paul and Cynthia. We remember you.

 

What was lost, is not

il_fullxfull.328869000what was lost, is not

you were meant to die

you were not meant to die

we were both so alive

even though, without modern means

your poor head, my aching conscience

may have felt the drop of earth

far earlier

the stars so alight, over our premature sleep

we did not think we could lose

and still

life shows us in picture cards

‘having a wonderful time, wish you were here!’

how tender the road without direction

how still the clock in hospital room

counting down, looking up

explanations for frailty

pistacho shells growing in number

blood coursing through our stride

the winding path and sudden start of deer

their black eyes, wells of ink

reproaching

if I had to do the same again I wouldn’t change anything

but maybe, plant better roots

for sickness can shake the most stalwart

where everything is thrown around and

stooping to bend fallen moments

can seem like it will never

rebuild what was lost

life can

be a small flame, hardly visible

it may appear to flicker

out

and still you endure

the absurdity of surviving

we laugh at photos of catheters

because it is the only way to clamber over

the horror still lying beneath everything

after all

who expects to reach out and find

the dissolve of certainty?

after all

who believes the boogie man under the bed

will actually show himself?

in the gowns of harried doctors

who poke and prod and pronounce

without

mercy

after all

our world is in short supply of tenderness

and when we implore God

or the toilet bowl

for strength and a little succor

how do we imagine the rescue?

after all

it may be a stranger who

reaches out

a loved one who

turns away

such is the carnival

and round lights grow hot

on your restlessness

after all

it is not easy to be

cast in uncertainty

adrift we only know

the tug of another’s flounder

we are strong in

searching each other

for direction

embracing imperfection

as if it were

the most beautiful moment

from horror comes

straight-backed on her tired horse

the unspooling of

hope

for as sure as you are still

racing by my side

what was lost

is not