Splinter

8.Boubat.-Portugal_-1956There is a thin slice of glass in my foot

I cannot see it

but I know it’s there

at night when

the fan whirls like a dervish overhead

and I play the xylophone between my legs

a storm blows in

like a warning and a representation

of everything felt and bottled up

old trees hold on, their roots tested

by the metal of young wind hurling

all order into chaos

we stand in our night-clothes

looking over fences

at destruction

she has a white line the length of her stomach

he has a scar hidden in his throat

mine is without and within like

a snake who cannot decide

which part to digest first

we three are the wounded lovers

with our perpetual thirst for

promises to ring true

devotion to stay where it was first placed

by the window in a jar of water

to bloom and scent the pulse of night

but such things rarely obey

wont of humans without power

the storm and her threading fingers

lays waste to our belief we control

even the tiniest morsel of this crochet world

…(l)…

when he married her

he thought she would obey

the tick tock of her laboring heart

stay steadfast by his side in the howling wind

but she was a maelstrom of her own

making

soon the wedge in their marital bed

was a dry river without resurrection

…(ll)…

she wanted

her husband to save her

when the doctor said C.A.N.C.E.R. and she turned

to the eyes of her children and they

looked away in painted terror

but he only knew how to put out fires

not the slow melt of all safe things she had

taken for granted 33 years

so they diverged

like a split oak touched by

lightning will remain

upright yet stranger to its mate

…(lll)…

and she was the string

between the wounded male and female

her own heart hollowed out

murmuring at night like a singleton

by the small hands of trust and promises

unkept

it was as her grandmother said

a poor thing to imagine humans

to remain steadfast

after all, the storm blew everything

even our very best intentions

whipping them into the air

until they were fragments of themselves

transformed what we knew

what we were familiar with

lending no safe harbor

for the weakened need to have surety

the only thing keeping them

upright

was their conjoined pain

a frayed ribbon between three houses

in the wildfire dead of night

where even

creatures who prefer darkness

stayed in their nests

for it was only then, in the tempest

they felt themselves capable

of surviving another moment

only then

shouting their grief into four pursing winds

writing pain along the narrow margins

of life and death

they lived another day

and on that day

wrecked and emptied

found succor in the equal fall of others

bending to pick up the debris of

their former selves

rent into splintered pieces

unrecognizable and sharp to the touch

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Who shall love?

If you are not a beautiful creature

Is there love for you?

When the world appears bewitched by youth and eternal moment’s boiled to infuse

Who shall love?

Who shall love?

The imperfect and technically “past it”

When beautiful felt like;

The sound of heals clicking on marble

Then slippers

Then bare feet

Then silence

No attention for a certain shape, age, gaze

Consolation crows, grow your mind

Crack jokes

Have a sense of humor

Laugh at yourself.

Long before, boys fell in love with me first;

Because of an hourglass

A firmness

A tightness

A willingness

The measure of hips

And then later, aserbic wit

I say ignore the rules

Climb trees at sixty, chomping on cigar

Wear polkadots, rolling dice on roof tops

Make love in bramble hedges and countertops

We talk of politics and deep sea diving, the need for conscience, passion and chocolate biscuits

You didn’t need a perfect pair of legs or a tiny waist

Eventually you wanted a woman of four seasons

Who couldn’t hold her alcohol anymore and streaked across the lawn

A girl of seventy and four, mayflies buzzing in our ears

Who still beat you at arm wrestling and sang like an angel with grey hair

Opening her robe to your eager devour

For once upon, you were a youthful coward, chasing empty smiles

And now you lay in a woman’s arms marveling at her lines

The black and blue, and those she fought hard for, birthing children

Crossing her face like stars

More beautiful for their dance

On skin long past its prime and so fine

For a constellation is music over time

Then and only then, love breathes eternal

Guilt


Guilt

Is a rare bird of shame

Its plumage

Breathtaking

For guilt

Captures the beholder, willing or not

Averting gaze from all else

Guilt will render paradise dowdy

Comparing freedom with the chains of its capture

Guilt is an old, fond bruise

Reminder of moments left torn to shreds

It will piece them carefully back

Twice as convincing, twice the weight

Strung round your neck like noose of sea pearls

Begging to be drowned

Guilt is a rose bush with bleeding thorns

A shudder as you catch yourself thinking of

Those pursed secrets you’ll never disclose, even to yourself

Snapshots you expunge, that still, listlessly, rise from the depths

Never speak of it, even to the merry faced doctors 

Plunging their needles as far as they’ll go

Guilt

Makes you sick

Wan faced, old before your time 

Aloof in the varnished secret

Guilt

Steals your liberty 

But like a lie

Guilt is not vanquished, even by truth

There are things better never admitted

Keep them so deep inside you start believing the deception

Until

Like a wide eyed bride

Guilt takes your hand 

And plunges you back where you’ve been all along

There’s no solution to shame when it’s too late to undo

The poison that you drink, the person you’ve turned into

Guarding yourself like a wreck against sharp rocks

With less and less by the day to salvage

If you spoke it out loud

Surely the very sky would catch fire

How many of us must carry a spark?

Burning in our secret hearts?

And maybe this is why

You never know another person by what they share

Instead

It is the unsaid

Electric in the air

We recognize in others

The tarnish of shame

As clear as promises once given

Cannot be refunded

Tell me then

20150820121056_00001It’s not all about me.

We look up at the sky, wondering who is looking down.

It’s not all about me.

As we age, moments catch us like snags on

favorite cardigans

mended but never the same

too good for charity, too flawed to sell

value in sentiment and what was once

at first glance, flawless

as if such a thing matters after a while

too late we see this

after years of staring into mirrors thinking

if I were just a little prettier they would … love me, desire me, need me

it’s not all about me

or the holes we mend, attempting to recreate

but you find that out after many errors and so

is it any wonder the old will smile wistfully and proclaim

youth is wasted on the young

just as bras that are uncomfortable

are the domain of insecure girls like I was

clinging to images and totems

rather than digging my heels in and

staring upward at the sky

heavy with impending storm

so we left our youth like a shed skin

and not knowing of this wasteland stumbled

catching glimpses of who we were before

fear made us raw

the taste of elements on your tongue

every superstition a reminder

what you don’t know can harm

and then

letting go because the weight is

crushing you into absorbing mud

drying your scream

wondering

what did my ancestors feel? As they walked

witness to the stillness of night and

the unseen murmur of what could and is not

like a giant ships knot

impossible to pick

halts momentum

I stood like an ice princess

poised to act

and turned to fat

turned inside out and back

like a flipping cat will somersault maybe eight times

landing on his feet

my soles are sore

with the burden of myself

all those unlicked envelopes containing

individual tethers to places in time

experiences, terrors, lessons

and the well-worn knees of an ardent repenter

who throws down their sin

and still it sticks to him for one and the same

we become, with our habits and our movement

gliding through the years like ivory comb

will stick in tangled hair and pull

some loose

I dangle

from a mountain of my own making

all the aches, those childish glimmers

reflecting across the lake like

long fingers will create sound

we move to instinctively

tell me then

how to absolve myself of the penchant

for avoiding hard things

tell me then

how we live, in still life, arranged on a table

like hot watermelon, freshly sliced, drips its

sticky insides

tell me then

the exact mixture to eliminate that

terrible awareness you have

mastered easy ways out

only to find yourself

grown over with maze

tell me then

is it too late

when the hour strikes

and your reflection is almost unrecognized

to return and begin again

that clear, straight path

you once believed yourself on

before you lost courage

The fantasy held by someone else

il_570xN.690115987_nnkdNever been good at receiving, prefer to give, in all things …

I gave you everything I had left, it wasn’t much, a persistent hole, had formed long ago and I was seeping out.

I look whole, but that’s just mythology. I may outwardly appear, to stand upright, but in truth I sag, even in wind.

If I had more I would have given it. You believed I did, as many before you did. I call that the capture of delusion, you see in me, what you want to see, not who is actually standing there.

And if I were a pirate, I’d have a wooden leg and a parrot. If I were a dragon, well hell, I’d be a dragon (and yes, I really want to be a dragon).

The doctor said I had a flabby heart, and still you believe me an angel. But angels play the lyre with taut string, not my kind of slack gut.

It didn’t really surprise me, at ten years, on the gym mats I recall my calves like moon cows, soft and milky, against tight sun-honed legs of my friends.

I remember when he took my blouse off and exclaimed; have you had children? A euphemism for losing the fight with gravity (even then, so long ago). Or standing on a chair, in the student dorm, to see orange peel running its fingers down my legs.

You never knew these things, you built an image of me from Ralph Lauren advertisements and The Blue Lagoon. You added my French ancestry and your own penchant for leather, making me an exotic bird I never was. Though if I had feathers, they would be tropical-coral.

It was addictive, to be seen through your lens, though I knew it faulty. Whom among us, does not want to be special and rarefied, if just once? And like an addict, I couldn’t wean myself far, from your camera, I didn’t want to go back to being, the flabby-hearted, plain- faced fish in the sea.

Try as I might, reality never lives up to the dream, or possession of desire. These are self-fed lures and we,  the hungry carp, falling for our own tricks, being pulled from our refuge of water, lain out, gasping on shore.

As we lose the ability to breathe, in this strange land, oh how we rue our former vanities, and wish for simple love., laced, hand over hand, without deception.

The trickery we employ, to appear just fleetingly different, running from our truth. as the stowaway is always found in the storm, hiding behind bottles of rum, drunk on themselves.

I confess, I’ve never known how to be loved for this husk, the multitude of ordinariness. True then, it is hard to be loved if we loathe ourselves, we who are giving, sometimes do so, because we are trying to give ourselves away. Scrub the history of us, remake the self, becoming for a day, the fantasy held, by someone else.

Cockroach

lady-insects-3Woman

looked up in to sky

saw there

her future

we are cockroaches

she told her husband that evening at dinner

as he sat trying to eat fast so he could check his messages

annoyed and perpetually irritated with her queries and words

he wished momentarily he could seal her in an Amazon Prime box

and return her with a free print it yourself label

if only marriage were as easy as that to dissolve

okay I’ll take the bait, why are we cockroaches?

he replied eventually with a weary voice, if only to get her to stop

standing with wet hands from washing in the kitchen center

unaware of how absurd and unattractive she was

with her rolled shoulders and sagging bust line

why can’t she look like the girls I subscribe to?

a lazy thought passed behind his eyes as he vainly tried

and failed

to show a modicum of interest

we are cockroaches she repeated

her face blazing underneath the low hanging light fixture

he’d installed badly

because bees and frogs and bats

if they die out we all go

BAM!

She slapped her red hands together making a strange squelching sound

her lips twitching oddly

But if we

with our Sistine chapels, Leonardo’s

drive-in Sonic Burger, Schlitterbahn water parks

Round-Up, teenage sized tampons and driverless cars

if we die … IF WE DIE!

Her voice raised an octave and dominated the quiet room

he thought her shrill and unbearable

a streak of sweat

began to gnaw at his calf as it ran slowly toward his socks

socks she had to bleach after he left them unwashed and yellowed in his cupboard

resisting the urge to itch he tried to stay motionless, could it be if he blinked she would be gone?

If we die NOTHING HAPPENS!

But if we live … as we live … when we have lived

such a short time comparatively if you think

watch the years before us, long and steady

now watch the timeline unruffled by menace

as we come into being that trajectory takes on an awful shape

the shape of destruction! Not only will nothing happen to every other living thing

on earth if we are not here to witness it

but the damage we have wrought in such a short time!

so much damage!

we breed animals and slaughter them inhumanely in abattoirs

we condemn Nazi’s for gassing Jews and gypsies

but how are some of our actions so different?

we deny basic healthcare to our most vulnerable citizens

and call ourselves progressive or worse

blame those who are not able

to defend themselves

He wiped his face with his meaty hand; This isn’t going to be another vegetarian rant is it?

rubbing the sweat from underneath his eyes

it seemed to be getting very hot in the room

there wasn’t any chilli in dinner was there? He asked as

something seemed to stick quite determinedly in his throat

feeling nauseous he reached for the glass of water

it looked like it was sweating too

the room was too hot

turn the damn air conditioning up he raised his voice and began

to sound as shrill as she had

you know nothing you say will stop me eating meat

and I don’t agree with you but then thinking about it

I rarely do

you care about abstracts

you point to diagrams that show ‘evolutionary’ destruction at the hands of humanity

and even if this is so

look at our progress

look at our knowledge

What knowledge? What mercy?

We still can’t cure the common cold

she retorted with her back turned to him

she appeared to be drying the dishes he couldn’t remember giving her

the room was spinning

I don’t feel well, he said

lurching slightly in place

I wouldn’t think you would

she replied, he could not see her face

only the stains of sweat underneath her thick arms

reaching around like hands behind her

you always felt animals were equal to us and they just aren’t

he tried to modulate his voice but it had grown

distant

as if he were contained within glass being slowly

pressed

like a spider you find in the tall grass and collect

for Monday’s school project

I don’t feel well, he repeated

his eyes rolling in their waxy sockets, his tongue lolling

ungraciously

that would be the castor bean oil

I mixed it into your dinner

she said

as calm as if she were saying out loud

Sunday’s grocery list or tonight’s TV programming

and shutting the kitchen door

she left her husband

who by now was unable to speak

a small mercy for them both

and taking off her house slippers she stepped out

into the back where the mature trees reached high into the night

and began

very purposely and with great care

to dig a hole

deep enough to bury

a cockroach

Is this you?

quote-i-said-wouldn-t-it-be-nice-instead-of-having-these-women-fight-with-each-other-over-men-which-jennifer-beals-13767

Portrait of man and two women in orchard --- Image by © Robert Recker/Corbis

Is it you?

the girl who knows lustful eyes are on her back

is it you?

talking to your female friends

when a man enters

you reveal your choice every time

the man comes first

women only afterward

is it you?

thinking they don’t notice

when your eyes drift

from female conversation

to a man’s deeper tone

as if attention were garnered toward

the male of the species alone

don’t you see? you put down women

with every favor you give a man over

she

and whilst you may say

no that’s not true I am an equal opportunist

an observer will note

the change and variance of your attention 

you are a creature of men

owned by their regard

choosing them first in every scenario

sadly undermining

the worth of women

it is surely what lets us down most

the value we place on each other

being less than the other gender

call me an old embittered dyke

biased in her choice

if you need to

but truth speaks

louder than worship

and I must ask

is this you?