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.

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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?

We believe

Use your long words

describe the smell of memory

antiseptic

there in your transparent igloo

born to incubate

smoke before it’s legal on your mother’s habit

bequeath me the tendency

to live without need

from pockets we pull

the nurture the seed

sprouting in defiance

when everything else died of frost bite

against the ire of a late Winter storm

gusting itself into white rage

through the glass you see

yourself being re-made

in the eyes of old women whose wrinkles

make a universal puzzle

and the swell of hills

cast over with violet

a heaven of sorts in setting light

glazing countertops

for foot prints of unseen beast

leading off into nearby copse

could we will ourselves

another go around?

stepping backward into

infancy, chewing the umbilical

surrounded by potential like

a wet firework strains to explode

would it be any different?

your hands, molding my shape

DNA

the type of pasta eaten

over Lake Como the day

of conception

holy was the love that bore the wish

lost in steepled weather vein

glistening against straining light

a mockery of control

just out of reach

there she is

eighty years from now and

just re-born

in unfurled leaves and first sprouting

green a forbidden thing

among the white ushers and

dark flitting ponderable

marveling we can be conscious

of ourselves and of nothing more

than a stream aching to unfreeze

creep closer to living

inch by inch

two warm bodies without a thing between them

aside the shame of knowing

we live both futile and richly

worming our way into the meat

and tender bruise of absolving

those things we believe we need

The high & the low

f06565d259d01e56b4e9427f5a779fbcWhilst you in your helium balloon

parodied cause

for attention and reward

the high & the low of cruel regard

I observed your shift and nuance

they say hawks are not smart

my IQ would concur

we watch those who

flail in baskets of grandiose words

promises made by false hearts

unable to suture

truth

they are the ruin of

even those who knew

their fate would warp and turn

evergreen from copper

plunged by impatient fists

with metallurgic use

those fevered minds

hoisting mercurial delusion

as flag over reason

swim shallow at day break

tinkering in their playground

and we who are

fatigued by empty surety

hold on until the cold burns us

lapsing down into clasping water

where no echo of their vanity shall show

but a still surface of glass reflecting

would that they could pause

finally see the error

mouthing lessons

unheard by fools

with inflation and sharp need

for the clamor of diffident stranger

over the solitude

of one heart

beating in

deep freeze

Borderline shore

new9I am not yet indifferent to you

but when that day comes

and it will

the memory will not touch me

or cause disquiet

it will be as if you had never existed

a fracture in a line

disorder in our palm

all the things we thought precious

went up in the fire

you lit

what did you expect?

dead people don’t attend funerals

I left behind your ash and your cane

I stayed the part of me that had been driven mad

by your waxing and your wane

she can retrieve the broken parts and throw them on the pyre

I want no more of it

your number is lost

your address a fog

I cannot even imagine what I ever saw

in the dogged creases of you

perhaps I had long-lost

my reasons for why it was you

I held on as an addict does with nothing better to do

slurping lines with pinched nostril and crossed fingers

but now it seems anything is better

than another misfit lock and key

too long I spent underground in your echo

tortured by your guilt and misery

I wondered

can I advance?

without the shackles and weight of years

can I undo the harm you piecemeal? or will I remain

a prisoner?

rotting behind your indifference

then I recalled

how you made me feel I was wrong

not to be beside myself with glee

as you and your weak blend of madness seemed

surfing your mercury with divination rod

I had thought this was true but it was another of your lies

you are the saddest person I know

I do not need to be happy all the time

to enjoy the sun rise

I was never caustic liquor

I ran a little lighter

didn’t need to own the world

to feel a tinge of pleasure

it is my way and now you cannot condemn me

as every day you stuck another splinter between my ribs

sealing me in boxes, sending me on my way

I hadn’t known you were fond of sticking pins in dolls

until they woke me from sleep and I took them out

each hole you made needed repair and some of me

will always find it hard to float without leaking

but anything is better than sharing time with a captain

piloting doomed vessel, short-sight rubbed raw

seeking ruin against borderline shore

The bottle

the-birds-cage-avihai-cohenFar away

or near

a roar

is heard

and not

answered

for after a while

what can you say?

it is the way of pain

to rage in quiet ire

with tongue numb of speech

most do not hear

most walk on

thinking of themselves

and the roar

tries to find

the sea

within

the bottle