Sisterhood


Sometimes 

As a woman

You feel very apart

Striving for sisterhood

From other women

Comparing and similar

As if they

Are all sitting together

Heads down and touching

listening to a song

Whose lyrics

You cannot hear

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Three prongs

pluto_and_persephoneSHE

hasn’t shared a bed with a man

two decades

nor smelt the tenor of his hands weighing

on her sleep

place telescope by the moon

stare at what you do not find familiar

all those girls who wake

next to, wrapped in, rubbed up against

the arms of another species it seems

no reflection of themselves

she has only seen

her own reflection

in the curl of her neck to her shoulder

honeyed wisp of them as they cover

rounded buttocks on the way to dimpled shower

girls instinctively know

what to hide and what to reveal

as cats will roll on their belly in trust

giving just enough

holding a claw in the air just incase

she unclenched herself to the water spirit

when the river found its surge she fell

tumbling below surface

where hands that are both small and strong

loins of silver, mouths of tangerine

kiss her delirious

do you think as you draw your pastiche

of a woman with a phallus mounting a girl wearing cherries on her cheeks

do you contemplate wife-beaters and bound breasts

considering the ugliness of plastic stand-ins

and Kerry who came from Nova Scotia said

I’d be gay if I didn’t have to perform oral sex

that disgusts me

but imagine, I could have some rest

my boyfriend he is hard as driftwood

every morning at six

her legs closed to dynamite

squeezing residue of clichés between her thighs

they who are not us, live in an underwater world

you only know when you hold your breath and let go

At ten it was not apparent

though if you consider how much you enjoyed

lying on ladies fur coats and

smelling their perfume

what isn’t known glitters in the gloom

they said poor child, poor motherless urchin

and in their arms you felt

that longing to place a moonstone in a set of gold

translated later the shape and curve

men were all angles and hard

softness is the drift of sand

lapsing back into water

you tried being like everyone else

nobody really wants to wear a red mark

telling them apart

but the hot skin of men as they lay

clumsy and ill-fitting in your hollows

always reminded you of a plug

with two prongs when

three were needed

Thin girl

couples-sleeping-1

The afternoon

like used rubber

lost in roll

one in pleasure

the other cold and full

beneath their day clothes

thrown off like wings

she looked nude like a thinner version of herself

lost in angles and jutting hip bones

a little skinnier than his wont

but you know what they say about skinny women?

you can put them on top of your pencil and rotate

sharpening to a point and using until blunt

her smell is on his fingers and in his hair

his mouth aches from kissing her between her legs

she’s showering with the door open

the tiny bones in her spine popping

as she leans into the heat

the steam fogging up frosted windows

he inhales her and his fifth cigarette

simultaneously

it is this

the indistinct

stillness of afterward

sought most of all

when his body is sate and slick with her dew

nothing, not anything, matters

she

will ask for him again with her eyes even after

she has washed him off

it’s the contradiction of

passion

to re-dress only to have them torn off

he traces with his little finger

a selfishness that tells the rest of the world

to go to hell

languidly replaying how

her thin body rose and fell above him

weightless

the sound of her pleasure

pressed against his neck

like vibrations from a train

speeding into station with

oiled momentum

 

Unrequited love longs

New York in The 1960's - 70's (3)I didn’t know you felt that way

just as the golden-haired girl

with bleached French roots

didn’t know I felt for her

(or worse, knew, and felt

less than dismissal)

we are ebony dominoes

pass the plain papered parcel

our affections whittled and sharpen

by the smoky knowledge we can never

confess ourselves or pardon

to objects of secreted passion

so remote and out of touch

the girl who falls for

a woman who loves men

the heterosexual who has a crush

on a flamboyant boy

things get broken without throwing

why is emotion so deluded?

I will never tell her my secret

just as you will not reveal yours

in our actions and what we do not say

there is the truth

explaining the easy pain of social discourse

masking itself behind awkwardness

when she talks about the men she dates

I dare not say … choose me you fool

I could make you dance

in a way you have not yet discovered

some people hang out of reach

even for sailors

leaning into the confessional surge

I can empathize

I would never have said yes to unwanted

dinner guests

so why should she entertain a cliché?

girls who like girls fall for those who

cannot be reached across life boats

better I hold my green tongue

admire from afar

the provoking shape of her

the way she knows

people are watching

her sway to

unrequited love songs

Polemic

Girls Doing Handstands, Southam Street, London 1956

A polemic once

mapped the world and

chambers of the heart

declaring

men love men three percent proof

and women love women

once or never

It explained the empty feeling in the bars

girls playing boys hitting balls into green pockets

It explained why gay men swelled in number

disco fever, why did they smell so much better?

is it nature or nurture?

testosterone in the womb or green enchiladas?

is it birth order or red hair?

left-handedness or playing Barbie too long with your sisters?

was it the color purple or your best friend Michael

showing each other what you had beneath the lilac tree

screaming and shouting FRANKFURTER!

at the top of your lungs

running as fast as you could

a natural instinct

the adults

drinking Pims Number One

look up briefly with reddened lips

boys will be boys

and girls will be girls

they nod all-knowing

knowing nothing

of the sum and the handspan

found only in the dial and fragile turn

of wonder

Children with no reflection

girl-fishingMy feet were always too big for vintage shoes

granny said

girl you’re outgrowing your ancestors

measured my 1980’s girth with pokered face

disgracing corselet historians with modern gait

I never was the black-eyed-girl of my father’s heart

his own ungainly DNA bore him a chip off the old block

who knew his self-loathing would rub free like lint

on the broad shoulders of imperfect kin

you’ve no delicacy in your frame girl

your hands are too wide for these kid gloves

you cannot fit into the stays and confines of the past

where did you come from? changeling?

half and half in one world and the next

part girl part boy part aberration an inverse

it was easier to steal a pair of dungarees

climb the old knobbly willow tree

dropping apple pips in indigo pond

a disappointing girl with one eye patched lest it wander

I saw my delicate mother and her child’s form

rush like a dancer into applauding future

gone from those who would love her best

she left a horse hair brush that smelt of her skin

and I did not know what to be

standing there with my unliked shell of pallor

a mockery of fallen relations between two lovers

retreating to the verge of attention their child

I waited until nobody expected me home

muddied, stained and bramble scratched

children with no reflection

if you asked me then whom I loved the most

I would have pointed to the owl

grand in his luminous white feathers

for he saw the little girl’s disappointment

and together they sang

low into night

to beckon timorous vole

closer

Anything seems possible

image002.pngEating peanut butter always reminds me of the night a gay man tried to seduce me

the irony is I never ate peanut butter until I became American

nor did I have any gay male friends

they thought me too girly with my waist-length hair, frilly frocks and high socks

an object easier for ridicule, there are status levels of coolness I didn’t care about

because I didn’t fit in with their ideas just as they were not

societies chosen children

it seemed a shame two outcasts wouldn’t bridge the gap

but Rick did, he was he said, a Bear in the gay world

what does that mean? I wanted to know

it’s a kind of look he said

there are others, like geek, school boy, father

why must you have labels when society already forces them?

maybe that’s why we do, he said and looked sad

which was an unusual thing because he laughed all the time

you know what they say about comedians and how

they make others laugh because inside they hurt

and he was left handed-too like me

maybe he did resemble a bear

 

so when I sat on his lap in the bar and he whispered

the feel of you is driving me crazy

I gave him a double-look

those words can’t be coming from you

I thought I was safe on a queer man’s knee

you’re not safe on any man’s knee in this country he said

we’re no longer in France and it’s not du rigor

all men want sex, gay men may be gay but they still

sometimes take to bed the occasional woman

I hadn’t known that

the lesbian world was more rigid with thick rule books

and tightly closed legs

it was hard enough to sleep with another woman

lesbian-bed-death and all

but men? A few who couldn’t get pregnant with turkey-basters

fell in love with their male donors

but only on a full moon

and whilst I made no habit of sitting on men’s knees usually

the bar was heaving with sweating twenty year olds

and he was gay and I was gay and everyone should be gay and do a little dance

except I was sad and lonely and Rick complained that

men down the leather bar thought 30 was old so he feared

the day when he would be irrelevant and nobody would desire

his gentle paunch and diminishing hairline

I told him that day will never come you matter to me

and we both saw how we filled each others needs

better than someone of the same-sex ever could

which seemed a painful irony

I might have drunkenly slept with him if I didn’t

already know he’d been promiscuous

and I am a responsible child of the AIDS era and

not fond of navigating awkward mornings

he might have slept with me the way a lonely boy

finds a hole in any surface

to release the places he keeps hidden

then we wouldn’t have been friends

and that would have been the last time

I’d sat on a boys knee, queer or straight

so I wouldn’t have seen you on stage performing or

your ex girlfriend staring at you with open-mouth desire

when she was supposed to be courting me

that night I learned a little about people

I would have understood less from the back of the room

forgetting the advantages of the heterosexual girl

smoking a black cigarette and knocking back my gloom

for minority status isn’t all about being different

it can be the loneliest place in the world

and even dyed in the wool queers

have fantasies about knights, princes and castles

when the room is dark and oily

and anything seems possible