Driftwood

Open your mouth wide

Do you see anything?

Do you hear anything?

I am running

In a grey forest

The feeling of your arms around me

Is a burn that does not heal when released

And your absence carves my stomach empty

Like Halloween pumpkin without face

An ache is possessing my every minute

Dripping into my veins like an unwelcome drug

I see you there

Standing in the bright

I could never have known how much hurt it would cause

To give you my heart

If we were to happen upon one another again

I would do all the same things

Even as I know its result

While you would not

You would save yourself from me, from us

Which is why

You were in the light then

And again now

As you climb out of loving me, shaking yourself off

I would like to have your strength

But I was never able to emulate you

I was weak in what I could do

I could only give you my heart

But I could not seem

To take it back when the time came

I think I must be an ocean

Because so many tears come out of me

And no matter how long it’s been, the pain never diminishes

They told me pain does get easier with time

I’ve waited years for it to do so

It’s still like the first day

It’s still like the first time

You put my heart in your sun tea jar

I am still there touching glass

The sun has gone behind a cloud

We are both old and grey and tired

You raise your voice because patience is misplaced

I see in your eyes

Once soft and warm with eternal need to bring me closer

Not the endearment of the past

But the futility of the future

That is not either of ours to shape

We are driftwood

Even as I say that I hope

You will come around and seek me again

To be whatever we are now

Together

As we always were

And when you are gone

Or cold or pushing me further

Into the blistering current of your absence

I feel I will surely die

If I lose you

And people say

Don’t worry that’s a myth

You can’t die from heartbreak

You will knot back together

But I know if by now I haven’t

Then that is the myth

We can repair all broken things

Which isn’t true

Sometimes the crack is so wide

The shards so sharp

They pierce any attempt to rebuild

I cannot

I do not know how any longer

To exist without you by my side

We may not have had fifty years and be sitting taking in a sunset

But we are linked beneath our skin

In the very infused core of our existing

Connected as if metal were around my arms and legs and in my chest

And when you touch me

Carelessly and with flat disregard

When I know you feel nothing

It is a perfect knife in my heart

And surely I would cease

Staring into darkness

If you were to let go

And tumbling I fell

The hole of emptiness devouring me from within

Until nothing but the husk of a person were left

Unable to motion their pain or

Give words to the unbearable crushing of their soul

Stuck looking at

Your retreat

Of us

Like a long formed stalagmite

Cutting off oxygen

It is you who all this time

Did not know you possessed wings

It is me all this time, knew

Without you

I wanted nothing

For you are the battery to my life blood

When I look in the mirror

At your absence

I see no one

Not you, not myself

If you go, all is gone

I wink out like a snuffed candle

As you turn out the light

And softly

Close the door

On us

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1995 was

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long sweaters, color of grey clouds

wet wool beneath leggings and Docs

the way rain stayed in your hair and rinsed it of color

how you kept every love letter ever written

by all the little freckled girls who chased your dragon

we lay in your narrow bed

too small but small was what we were

breaking every splinter

in our roar and our mocking

you implanted a life

the telephone gave the news

my grandmother had given up pretending

perhaps the devil helped her

take that final breath

I couldn’t get a train

the rain the rain

you felt the despair of a boy who liked

the fur of drama

not the feel of fatherhood

her funeral was for two

the woman who had held me and said

what a pretty baby

when the rest backed away

like spectators unwilling to touch

and then there was the fetus

dry like a winter flower

red like a sore lover’s thighs

white like virgin snow covering

a crime

and the smell of damp

invading every corner of your room

ransacking hope

leaving in its wake

Smashing Pumpkins on low

sheets frayed and stained with youth

I did not return

you did not ask

it was accepted like an envelope is sealed

and black birds begin their fight

long after night has cast

her dark

Your misuse

hijacked amygdala

They can tell you

Because you’re not going to back down

You won’t sell your sisters for a side ways glance

You won’t burn your bra, you may need it to strangle someone

You have the same look

All of you

The ones with green hair and multiple piercings who say fuck off before you smile

The ones who rule the world behind the scenes and nod as their husbands slip inside

The ones who are glory and begotten and forgotten and eclipsed and insist

They still live

You can tell

Even as they spell it out in myriad ways

I am not your slave

You do not own me

But once I was hurt very badly

By my father, mother, brother, sister, best friend, neighbor, uncle, stranger

And I carry the brand around my throat

Once in a while when I lean over

You can see it quickening

I…

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Warning

What if my mother

Who was gone

Did not warn me about you

And so

In the glib night

As I stood wanting to be plucked

From a latch key evening

The cluck and cacophony of

People filled with water

You circled my arm with a snare

With decision and madness there

Made a drink of me

Threw it down your chain-smoking throat

Carrying me on your back like a crab

We waded shorelines

Rinsing the regret for not being as others appear

Bone straight and glistening in their eagerness

We’d been born jaded and recognized

In the other that temporality

A godless place of zero and

Dirty much used sheets

Absorbing the stink of best intention

It was your howl in my womb and my opening ever trusting

Nothing can be as it says or is

There’s only this

The you of a rough hand holding me down

A choking, painful exorcism

In my nil

The bones just beneath skin

And you letting yourself in

After hours

A weight of assumption

More honest for its lack of anything

You do not attempt to please

Or deceive

For ours is not a caring place

Only savagery and hurt exist to sate

The otherwise empty arms of loving

It is in horror, we see truth

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Before

is a color I cannot describe

a place I don’t fit into anymore.

 

Even if I am restored

things will be changed for good

for most of us there are times

that shape our marrow

could be in the form of torment

maybe sorrow, sometimes joy

often the hardest times leave deepest imprint

perhaps it shouldn’t be that way

we should rejoice our luck a little, usually too busy enjoying ourselves

to leave permanent mark or maybe, challenge speaks louder than mirth

it is easy to accept a good day like a hot bath

than deal with a bad and hollow foe

that’s when our quick is sharpened,the story of our lives written

on the tip-toe of endurance

and what if we do not want to endure?

too bad, shit happens, legs break, minds crack

we’re going to end up there at some point

better waterproof our leaking sides best we can

the ocean isn’t a forgiving mistress.

 

When I fell, my mouth filled with salt

even then I didn’t know how far torment, reached down

it was a well, beneath the sea

a second drowning

for those who long to be free above ground

shackles of the merciless kind

only then I wondered at the strength of others

enduring from such an early age whilst I

ran long in the garden, unawares, chasing butterflies without a care

thinking I knew real pain from a momentary hurt

I knew so little

just a moment ago and a life time apart.

 

I am a twin of my previous self

we stand on different sides of the same coin

I am submerged, she is still, basking in the glow of a harvest moon

sometimes I look over at her and feel such envy

anger for my lack of appreciation when I, was her

but you cannot lead a horse to water

you cannot teach a child what she must learn

getting stung on the principle, she discovers through pain

it wasn’t in my thoughts that I should be

the girl on the other side of the echo, pleading to return

I don’t know if I will be permitted

but should I ever, walk again without curse

it won’t be as the same person, but a mixture of two

once you’ve seen yourself and begged for mercy

everything alters and everything stays the same

it’s up to you to be mindful of what you learned in that maze of pain

I learned what we think of as hardship

is often just everyday life

what we believe is suffering

can be comfort compared to other lives

when we don’t think we can change

then we aren’t given a chance, we know we should have

it is in diminishment we find elucidation

it is in horror we see truth.

 

Let me back inside my life again

and I will not be the girl who, took the easy road

for she now knows, just how deep anguish can go

it is in the tangle of the briar

and the wormwood of old trees

whispering advice never heeded

by the youth who believe themselves free.

 

Before

is a color I cannot describe

a place I don’t fit into anymore

 

 

The silent strength

Take out the trash

And as you bend to pick up stray leaves

You see him standing beneath his grief

He wears it heavy like winter wool, boiled in tears

As a man, he doesn’t have the ways of expressing

All those pent up cries

For so long, he was his only resource

Clamboring into himself even further

A boy within a man, hand over mouth

His outward smile is tinged with sadness

Nobody sees because people want to believe

In smiles more than tears

Except me

I have nothing much of myself to recommend

I couldn’t compete, I couldn’t pretend

The square jawed boys at school

Saw through me, reaching for the swan necked girls

Who purred and swam in batted eyelash lakes

And like this man, I grew up shaping myself coarsely

Sometimes doing nothing more than observing

The way we treat others less fortunate

And I came to recognize pain

As if it painted a sign or put up lights

They say comedians are often depressed

Behind the mask, underneath their wax paint

I only know I see, as he bends to loosen the hose and

Water plumes into a cloudless sky

Giving himself permission to cry behind the spray

He hugs himself with cold arms and I watch

The boy who repeated this action until

He could stand without falling

His strength is greater for his fragility

I want

To save his heart

From the cruel ways of those who say they love us

Those, they hurt the most

As if love were a weapon to be used when you get closer

Everything is upside down and the wrong way round

The grey eyed man says

I have to act the opposite of who I am

Just to tred, the thinnest bridge

I am holding empty days in my hand

And husks of dreams beneath my chest

His face mimics the pain beneath his skin

But he trembled, long enough to see

The stricken moment, like passing ghost

The man he tried to be, the loss of certitude

I told him, hope was the only way

And even

When we believe we can take no more

And even, as our last support breaks and crumbles

Abandoning us in our hour of need

When we think we have lost everything and everyone

Staring at the edge wishing we could jump

Then the wind chime is caught by stray breeze

Faraway birds call into the trees

Then the mercy of a stranger leaves

The bearest memory that once

Before grief got in her punches

Reminder of something precious

Long ago when we had faith in ourselves

The little boy he was

Standing staring at the same sorrow

Decided it wouldn’t be the direction for him

Taking everything he had, he set out

To live inspite of it all

And he did

Now with bowed head he reminds me

Of a fallen angel, wondering how

To continue to fly or purchase peace

And I touch his shoulder

When I mean to reach inside

Warm his soul and keep alive

The silent strength behind his eyes

Anguish

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anguish

is a selfish emotion

and a raw cry

made from the belly of the beast and all those terrors unseen

something honest and hardly admitted

kept behind fan and sleight of hand

it is something you hide for fear of being told;

do you only think of yourself? Are you aware others have it worse?

why can’t you just GET A GRIP!

You know all this just as you know

you can’t take one more minute

one second longer

staring at now familiar nightmare

feeling it turning you inside out and back again

(as if jaws were attached to your innards, pulling like a lover would)

anguish is an exhaustion

hunchbacked and ready to tear its own eyes

where if you could you would

run away from yourself never to return

where if you could you would

S.T.O.P.

where if you could you would

scream and never quit

until either your heart refused to beat or

something changed permanently

O the salve of darkness, shrouding such horror

how you have begged for change, change, change

please make it BE ANYTHING BUT THIS

and much as you did, nothing ever would

ease up and chill out, letting the prisoners out in the sunny yard

NOT THIS TIME or so if felt when again and again

you returned to

anguish

who is not definitely no

friend

but the enemy you know better than you ever wished

dangling by garter

over an old dunking pond

the shape of witches still burned

screaming in treeline