For what they did yet not know

140829195756-22-women-in-comedy-restricted-horizontal-large-galleryYou thought it was bad when

you got your first zit

and the unblemished skin of your youth

erupted like Everest

you thought it was bad when

you got your first stretch-mark

and the smooth thighs and breasts of your growth

betrayed the camouflage

you thought it was bad when

you got your first scar

a thin line of emptiness which they said

the bikini would hide

you thought it was bad when

you sagged and you spun with weight loss and gain

in the span of twelve fevered months

and then it seemed

unimportant

because those scars

the immature loss of vanity and adulation

crying over not fitting into yourself

the lament of sudden change

was less than the stubborn plant of your feet

in survival

and you went to your neighbor

who was missing a breast

both of you shared

the disjointed humor of pain

and you went to your preacher

who had lost his testicle

he joked about being single

and you went to your park

saw women with brain tumors cut out

walking their high energy dogs

and you saw

this silly game of magazines and perfection

of I will stay 20 and flawless forever

of men who would leave when you get cut up and bleed

how it is but part of a bigger picture

that of sweat and guts and fear

and surviving through gritted teeth

even if he left because you were no longer perky and up for it

because you threw up at midnight instead of

giving him head

even if the girl at work could wear heels and short skirts

and you hid your swollen stomach behind swaths of cotton

or couldn’t get out of your bed

because then … just as everything seemed

to be wrinkling and disintegrating and rebuilding

into something unfamiliar and changed and partially incomplete

another man with light in his eyes

who didn’t care about such things

smiled at you as you walked beneath the yawning trees

because your medication said

avoid direct sunlight

and he said

I have the same problem which makes it hard living here doesn’t it?

and you talked and he smiled

and said

I like the way your eyes twinkle

and you said

I get that from my grandmother

even when she was eighty-five she was

proposed to by farmers who thought

she looked like a kind of Katherine Hepburn

and he said

I can see that

red

would you like to meet here tomorrow again?

and you saw the way the world really worked

underneath the adverts for boob jobs and butt lifts

and reality tv that’s nothing of the sort

his hand brushed yours and you saw

sunspots on both

it made you laugh

a little like a hiccuping hyena

and he laughed too

the survivors

beneath the canopy of life

snorting like five-year olds

as skinny joggers with air-brush tans ran past

with sad empty looks

for what they did not

yet know

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What I learned from my father’s girlfriends #2 Leslie

Canadian Leslie

sensible tweed and corduroy

dressed like 50 at 25

white turtleneck and tanned legs in Winter

a talented skier who told me; don’t slouch kid, you will stunt your growth

she disapproved of children who stayed up later than 6pm

from next door I could hear her twangy voice

then the creek of stairs as they climbed to my father’s room

women from any part of the world make the same sounds

hmm / yes / hmm

Canada, I thought when very young

must be a strange land if it’s covered in snow

and still the girls can be tan and have golden streaks in their hair

she didn’t like European humor or sleeping in on weekends

it makes you fat to be idle, she scolded and ate her sugarless oatmeal

after a while she didn’t like public transport or pub culture

so Leslie applied for a PhD program in animal husbandry and moved to Alberta

where I hear she raised eyes

adopting Vietnamese pigs and falling in love with a man from Beirut

her WASP parents wished she’d stuck with my dad

they weren’t ever going to work

she hadn’t liked my baby photos and wouldn’t watch

film noir detective shows on Friday nights with Indian take-out

she left behind some maple syrup and we poured it

on white toast

because after all, this was before we’d learned

how to make Canadian pancakes and Canadian waffles

from French cooking shows

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.

30 percent proof

Modern life makes you hysterical

if you are prone to hysteria that is …

I pealed after being sunburned, despite best SF50 attempt

and the internet proclaimed;

“you’re likely to develop melanoma, from repeat burns”

just like Jimmy Carter

except he’s got money to solve life’s woes and you

have only an inflatable canoe

which was bitten through by an angry boyfriend, with pierced ears and buck teeth

not easy to argue, in the middle of the sea

just off a Greek island, one impoverished Summer

he couldn’t stop googling the topless babes

and I

stung by every bee, insect and mosquito

resembled something of a Kraken

can’t blame the poor man really

but did he have to bite my canoe?

especially so far off shore, we had to

make-up pretty quick and swim for nearest rock

he made it and I did not

I burned some more and took longer swimming the circumfrance of the shore

where islands and caves, dotted in jeweled wonder

an epiphany stirred … I no longer needed a boyfriend who

encouraged me to drink too much Metaxa

watching him, watching the girls go by

why don’t I give it a try?

so looking rather dashing

with my red nose and salt bleached hair

I stole a mermaid from her cave and paddled

with a deflated canoe

to a island they call lesbos

where

we both pealed together

demurely sipping Ouzo

Third time lucky

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The proverb

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Was in my mind when

I chose to forgive a third time

it was easy to say “if you hurt me again”

fill in the blank

but promises only matter if the person intends

to keep them

with your borderline posed to strike

it was impossible to calculate

if I would be cast again into fire

the only chance

how I chose to see the play

sacrifice the Pawn

save the Queen

it’s not that I’m especially important

but cruelty

cruelty is perhaps the last sin

unforgiving as karma

shows you the way out

you didn’t know it was only you I forgave

the other one who scratched I cast

far into the ocean

didn’t need their infernal clamor

they, just wreckage from a bad storm

I unfortunate to pass by at the wrong time

you were different

there was always something in the depth

of your eyes and quiet strength

yes I confess

I wanted not to lose you

but I could have said the same

when my mom closed the door quietly

packed her bags and went

see, you think you have me figured

maybe you do

aside one element I keep pretty tight

I’m stronger than even I know

it’s what happens when you get used to

let-downs

when you came and went third time and said

I don’t believe in you anymore

I don’t trust you

I think you’re shit basically

in the clear light of day I could see

this wasn’t about me

this wasn’t factual

sometimes others will believe

oh you must have something to do with it

just as the shallow person who told me

you’ve got a track record of being left

tried to leave her barb

what did she with her haikus know

of patterns? she needed rules to write

I had fucking wings

now she’s just

a taste in my throat I want to spit out

I grew up then when I learned

accusations may sting

but they’re not truth and those

who are weak enough to seize upon them

are just fools

with hypocrisy in their veins instead of blood

but you were different

you were my sister of the plains

we shared French blood

I admired you

it wasn’t enough

you cannot force someone to feel

or undo the damage wrought

in their mind before you met

it’s only necessary that you know

when it’s not because of you

which can be hard if you’re prone to guilt

that’s how we grow and develop armor

perhaps we won’t even trust

the next person who comes up

palms flat

asking for succor

or perhaps we will

because to shut the door

hurts only

the one who is left standing

when you tried to blow her down

erase her

when you hated yourself so much

you had to try to destroy

the mirror image

who refused

to shatter

stubbornly she still reflects

what you hate

about yourself and

what she loves

about you

Of horror & humor

kitsune_noh_mask_by_tiggytuppence-d5zp6nb.pngI lied and the lie was more honest than the truth

I’m not bitter I said

and it rolled off my tongue like peppermint lip gloss

I’m not bitter about anything

my nails digging deep into my palm do not

give me away

my grotesque sham

remember that ardent denials are always the ones

keeping disgraced secrets in over-size boxes

those who protest the loudest

usually guilt-ridden

I was guilty of detesting myself

and wearing too much make-up to show my artifice

I was guilty of saying I felt nothing

when it crawled up my neck like a necklace of shame

branding me queen of fibs

you see, it’s easier to be a boy

you can talk dirty, masturbate on trains, act like an asshole

and forgiveness will find you Joel

but a girl is supposed to be on a higher plain

we’re not expected to be so filthy minded or prone

to indolence

one mistake and you’re out

easier to call a girl a slut

than a boy the equivalent

what is the equivalent?

I regretted the day I chose you over the others

we unfolded our crosses and plugged ourselves in

you gauged me most likely to say yes to sin

enshrining stereotypes with the spit of scorned teens

I’m not bitter I said

if you choose her over me I understand

she’s got nice tits and a pretty strong right-hand

tormenting slanted Hannya masks coo

making faces, eating my scabs as they formed their tasty crust

give up your delusion Juno

as a girl your time of freedom is half as much

so bitter I spent so long on my knees sucking you off

again childish hope it would sate spilt outcome

pouring out of black taxis in crotchless hose

did I hesitate when I heard the echo of the earthbound train?

shaking myself free of girdles and suppositories

did the short-lived titilator

licking his plumaged groin

leave cleaner finger prints?

grinding into each other

purgered halves

reckless in gyration

rejoice

I’m not bitter I said

I just want to kick in your fucking head

lay on top the carnage, a maraschino cherry

well masticated and raw

a girl’s muscular jaw

opening to grudgingly reveal

her true Noh expression

of horror and humor

 

Eight out of ten cats prefer

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Of late

PBS has woken me up

furious with their hypocrisy

purporting to be fair when clearly they are not

and half-an ear to the news

I thought of all the times I refused

to hear the truth

sloshing in the saucer beneath the china cup

so breakable

if we step backward and review ourselves

why we did what we did

it is as if someone else steered the wheel

avoiding black ice

I could no more tell you how or why

than the neighbor who hears me in the morning

feeding the strays

tuts under his breath, taking a drag

of menthol cigarette

because the strays you see

piss against his wall leaving

yellow stains on his brick work

and I did not consider that

when I opened the tin