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.

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From basket deep

Clamboring, chiming, turning inside out for lack of space

Urging in one cold grey wave of fur and teeth

Lolling tongues, hot breath, slobber and frenzy

From a distance, life resembles a dark river

Cutting through early frost, hungry for warmth

And I think of the man who paints this bleeding scape

Of land into water and flesh undulating, back to earth

I wonder if he knows better than us, how close we are to one or the other

By just a pinch of his ink stained fingers, held up

To guage perspective, before he dips his brush and renders

This mist of mouths, graves and birth and sour roots, twisting through

Surviving even as skies douse and sun bakes flat, yet beneath myriad

A soup of souls closing and opening by ritual of tide

And still, life, clops down the cobbled street, hawking seasons from basket deep.

(Inspired by FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA, especially the line, han venido los perros de plomo.)

Lay down your damage

A prayer was said

Shoulders touched

We bowed our heads

Even me, the last disbeliever

And as I bowed, I felt my crown 

Glisten as if, someone was baptized

A transfused light whispered

Lay down your damage

Separately unlock

Disease from health

Fear and habit

For we learn our lines

A little too well

In smoky glasses and from the bell

Tolling like a dry tongue overland

Where sound knocks on peace

Disturbing those who thought themselves free

A claim check, wet in your pocket

Salt stains on your cheeks

We cannot weep for who we were

Before the curtain came slowly to wooden floor

Only reach high to see

If in straining such weight releases

The trapped fur beneath us

Darting eyes the pretty prey

who can say

Yet we heave

Overboard those useless parts

Remade in full moon aching over Baskerville cloud

Not yet, not yet

But one day soon

Softly they capture

The soul set loose

She is the nimble girl who curled inside you, pounds for release

And panic is a thing with teeth

Set loose too soon

Let it pass in its frenzied rush

A drug addict to the hideous pulse of malformed balance

Turn away, instead, listen to the sway of pampas grass

And somewhere you are urging

Further than you dare trespass

For it takes in perpetual night

The eyes of a bird to spy

A way out without leaving

Blood in metal trap

Push fear back

She has overgrown her stay

Unhinge the cage

Be no more afraid

Of movement in darkness

Everything is possible when

You cease to hold the chain

Nightshade

Oh mama

There are days

I am bent double

The stuffing of me kicked quite free

One side is fear that feels like unyielding felt, thick in my dry, slack mouth

Making me the puppet I never was, when good and whole

So is sickness for the soul

A sour well with brackish water and no yield

I long to be your child and retrace in time to your arms

Fantasies that never were, become, our lullaby

A palpable longing for comfort

Nourishment

To be saved against invisible foe

No

I did not invite you, fever dream

No

I did not beckon you visit me and stay, pinning my anxiety as colinder

Cast as we are, sluggish on fortunes wheel

Like chance, we ebb and flow

Moths without hardy wings

I desired wellness 

and while the summer river ran 

I believed it would never turn

Against me in undertow

Disease is a glutted wretch

A terrible betrayal

A war

You stand in rags fighting until your last

We all do 

But when the bees come and honey is glitter in the trees 

We forget our fear of unseen things

Believe ourselves immortal or at least

The sleek otter who can hold his breath

Longer than sense and her confine

For such a time I rested

Against this calm

Taking for granted what I did not own

And as winter will

Reveal herself bare and merciless

Soon those hours of peace lay behind me

Damp with regret and burned yet

To leave plumes of green smoke

Evoking Gods 

Who may be senseless to our call

For the comfort of our childhood

Curled inside a place

As yet unborn

Do not

Let me stay in this cold fear

Or stand alone 

With its frozen clasp about my heart

Squeezing hope til nothing pumps

But the ice of terror 

I am 

Just born

To this strange chill

The waking before dawn of prescient worry

Will I be well? Will I ever be without pain?

Oh mercy and her ink, clouding fortelling

The whine of our need to know, what Fates only jest

My gut is silent and 

Nothing but the fast snare of my pulse

Can be heard over lamment

I am

A statue of fear

Thinking back

To the Happy Prince

He felt pain

Of others

Taking the jewels that were his eyes

Sacrifice I do not have

A lesson

To think and care as we suffer

Of others and their

Equal walk 

In nightshade

Red Mary

hemofgarmentThey said

she’s a sinner

that red Mary

she’s got shadows in her soul

everyone’s done a wrong

what’s yours?

she couldn’t recall a sin she committed

though many done against her still

showed in bad light shining as scars will

what constitutes a sin?

not picking up a fallen book or

neglecting the heart of an aching soul?

not burying a bird nor preventing its death

sailing into glass as you ate your day

she’d let

the dinner burn accidentally making snow flakes for the windows

she’d been too tired

to scrub the tile in the bathroom before the guests arrived

she’d given herself the bigger helping on occasion

but more often than not she made room for the needs of others

cramped with heads on her lap driving in the car

give an inch take a mile convert to metric lose measure

what comes first? you?

she knew she hurt herself when eclipsing

and if that was a sin

she was a sinner plenty

scratching charred lines of dislike across herself

like a map plotting direction with blooming red pins

but lord if that is a sin

to turn and bear our fangs within

when the world is full of clamoring snake oil salesmen

hawking their false wares

building temples for closed gods

telling children who are raped

no you cannot abort this is gods wish

then she was a sinner of the very worst sort

for her belief was

those who are without blemish don’t exist

but some of us are good

not living under the almshouse for the spiritually impoverished

she didn’t know what it meant to

live in sin be born to sin

she felt sin was a choice

you made or did not make

and she did not choose

to sin except

by laying in bed reading

on Sunday listening to

the vowels of the faithful

herding their flock

Faithless

kal-yuga-2God did not speak to me

when I laid my head on your cold chest

He did not utter counsel nor

light a pathway

though still I listened

for an utterance or bright star

reflecting faith

I thought

if God is within me

I must find my own way

painting my feet the color of observance

ground ripe with reverberation

as forehead touching, I bowed

to some saint or sound beyond my own

phallic in his disapproval of my unwrapped head

there are so many Gods of men

and not so many who favor women

I asked GIA do you know why

the female Goddess is so quiet?

She smiled and the world split itself

into many fingered dancers

surely you know girl

she is everything and all around us

no need for words

they are the threadbare pockets of men

who failing to curb their lust

turn instead to science and Viagra

you do not need to concern yourself

Kali knows the direction well

she has danced it in blue slippers

every full moon

and women who carry their children

low in orchid womb

taste her in the brine of the Yangtze river

and the very tips of their new born’s tongue

as she licks her way into consciousness

we pass from each other the key

mother’s and life entwined as one set of beads

fickle is life

long the chain of dancers

holding their children high like

honeycomb candles lit for prayer

beneath the rusty hem of the world

This time will come again

yuri-shwedoff-wolf-pack-internetThe saw they used

had teeth like rabbits unaware

they were herbivores

her shell broke

like a blue egg

on turpentine floor

for the ants to summon

their legions and devour

she could smell her own fall

by the pinch of their envy

though why anyone should

be jealous she found absurd

as plates will chip

when placed on top of one another

we leave the best for last

scouring her hide with vinegar

all the holy and the ivy

thrown in pyre to await

her defeat

she tried to tell them

it’s not me you want

it’s yourselves

the competition is within

I am nothing

but a representation

the dreaming void

or lost moon

reflecting your own

do not bury me with nightshade

violet on my tongue

strangle my words

because you have none

this time will come again

as all circles are undone and reknotted

by fate and the scepter

in the wrists of those

cutting down

trees who only seek

that silence of being above

cacophony of rude arrows

felling our roots

though we strive

only

to master ourselves