Conscience

We may depend upon nothing

except the strength of not laying down

our conscience, there in forked roadway

with the languid grace of a woman rising from steam

one direction will be covered over with water

you’ll have to learn to find your inner amphibian

and if you are successful at shucking off your humanity

retreating primordial beneath turbine waves

give a thought to those who toil above you in spirit houses

burning their feet on tar sprayed land

it reeks of our short lived desperation

like stalks of young corn, we blaze from green to gold

the sand of our time, trickling ever faster through thin glass

thinking in a fleeting lifetime we behold

true wisdom

while rivers and seas we pollute, in short-lived wake

remain behind as we turn to dust, then clay

it is not our nature to care what comes after we are gone

our footprints would not singe the serenity of nature so vividly

if gathering mercy outside our own existence, were our way

yet, imagine the unfolding beauty of caring for something outside ourselves

and softly we atoned our fits of rage, in wanting to have it all

before the sun sets for always and another day is born

Expansion

Gaining weight used to feel

dangerous

body parts blowing up, smothering familiarity

she wanted to be in control of everything and nothing could be controlled

so she took what she could instead …

her own flimsy pounds of flesh

the shrinking and expanding of time

denial and suppression, weezing like old men

enraptured by ballet dancer who starves herself to death

if she ignored her bodies longing to transform, she stayed small

and boys could circle her waist and say; you haven’t changed a bit! She could believe the lie and retrace time

could still be a slip of a girl, wearing her old clothes from when she was free of the demands of adulthood and blood, blood that did not rinse clear even when scrubbed

and this she did, for far too long, for fear of else

for what more was she? Not a mother, not since hurtling down the stairs, pushed by love, she saw her baby break into knots of placenta and gore

now not sure of whom she had become, in absenting herself it was easier, to dwell in the old shell and not

expand

comfort in knowing one’s exact circumfrance

and how it would feel to place a hand upon her flesh

a control without anything behind it, empty strawman, left without match to kindle, burn and diminish

she stayed the same whilst the rest of the world changed

grew wider, grew taller, grew inside and out

she was a fascimile of her damp past

it wasn’t until a sickening reduced her to almost empty

where she rattled and she clacked and she was hollow cheeked and pigeon chested

then her heart flickered on and off and she knew

the danger of staying still, was too great

she ate, though the taste was gone and appetite nil

outgrowing her own well known shape, she became something new

it was a frightening feeling to find what she would be

now that she had turned the corner and let the adult in

would she be like her mother with tiny little legs and arms?

or more of her father’s broad shoulders and freckled stomach

she was nobodies lover and nobodies mother

it hurt to cut herself out of the place she’d been so long, though long stale

and try to break out on her own, one unfamiliar piece at a time

in the bath she would gaze at her new body

bearing the marks of where she had visited

the underworld and the center of the sun

burning and drowning simultaneously

Her chest resembled the teets of a tiger, her thighs wide and strong

Readied to climb mountains, burst dams, forge expectancy

nothing else seemed important least of all

if she fitted into or fitted out of

the places she used to belong

this was a new version

she was going to gain more

than mere pounds and stone

she was going to quit starving to remain familiar

and learn the value of expansion

The memory of fire

Most habits

Are learned lazily

Incorporated into being, before aware 

Of what it means to be.

A habit is a slothful fellow

Whispering in our ears;

You’ve done it before

Come sit by the fire 

And watch others rush at life

Put your aching bones close to the warmth

Feel the security of what you’ve gone and done

So many times

And if you were asked

To break out of your stupor

Throw water on the fireplace, dousing heat

And with no preparation

Launch into a violent rain storm

Obscuring your direction

Lashing your sides with chill

Would you follow?

Thrill seekers maybe

The very young, the chronically overlooked

That girl with braces who wanted to be the busty blonde

Maybe they’d fall like extinguished stars

Into the storm

And from their yearning to matter, to win 

They’d keep going long after the memory of fire was lost

Fighting without knowing why, on the off chance

Suffering brought you nearer

To really living and grabbing by the throat

Its beaten heart

Or you may forgive yourself

The hesitancy of those

Born fatigued by knowledge

This world’s loose knots and fallen heroes

As a splayed chess board can be used

For kindling

I used to imagine outside my window, the clamoring future

Now

I sit staring at flames 

As they consume and turn to coal

Painted stages

And it is the soft stir of moonlight

Lifts my gaze 

Watching the edge of time, rub herself dry

All things will come and go

Whether we chase or remain rooted

It is the repetitive homage of a circle

To revisit ourselves

Standing beyond shelter

Contemplating beneath infinity

Our place in the universe

Wait for obvious things


Was it me?

Crouching rubber hipped

The plane delayed by fifteen hours

Mother’s placating screaming kids

Dry eyed travelers, bent over wilted luggage

Back then I didn’t know 

Rubber can stiffen

I thought

I’d be in supline pose with windows open, aubergine clouds, seeing hope

In hot tarmac with planes, belly full, lifting off

Taking longing to new places 

Is it wrong to tell you?

Twenty years hence, as we fumble to claim waivering identity

That I was more sure then

Crouched, rubber hipped

Than ever since, watching planes taxi in

Spent and decorate with exotic scents

It doesn’t feel lonely if you watch how the world talks

Without humans

Hear the russle of late afternoon

A breeze from far flung continent, chiming in minds eye

Awareness of being, nourishment of movement

Peace wrapping around my shoulder

Just then, conscious

Of the infinite fragility and gratitude

To rise and take, moment to appreciate

Our small place, in this wide place

As alone we are, part of something

Far greater than our impatient wait

For obvious things

Let her out


The wax in your wane

Needle on smooth track

A song from twenty years back

When you didn’t have

The holes you have now

Crocheting skin with doubt

When you just threw yourself open

Dancing in a crowd with long wick

Breasts high, chin tight, feet on tiptoe

The candle lasted all through night 

And we spilled, like red polinated seeds

Out into dark city streets

Bra straps, cyclist legs, powdered glee

It’s not the bravado of youth 

But the absence of ghosts

Keeps us free

***

I am you 

I am the flicker of past who asks

What did you do with your true self?

Packaged up in trepidation so soft

Lulled yourself to sleepwalking 

Years passed like finger on fast forward

Before you know 

Almost

On the cusp of memory

A girl with an open smile

Running towards you

Gone, not lost

Unpick the confine

Let her out

That she may find again

Herself

Her light


Once

I was a narrow backed bird

My wings were thimbles 

Dipped in vermillion

And male birds

With fat heads and thin legs

Betraying insubstantiality

Bowed and pecked, scratched in dirt

Of ardor and the absurd

Inflation being the territory of youth

Puff up, and let loose, shallow breath

I stood, cased in thought

Whorls of sea, hissing in my ears

Watching the pantomime of suitors

Without impression beyond wishing

To reveal innermost truth

To tell them, I am not the amaretto heart

My legs may part but the secret requires a key

The covet you have, is not for me

But a flickering illusion

Born on gold wheat and full fat milk

Where shyly school children sit hip to hip

Attempting to swallow the future, spoonful by spoonful

Wondering

Will I grow tall and willowy? Attract the grazing male?

Or stay suet and solid, in the finery of my own chainmail?

Not shifting with the glare

Nor melting beneath reporate

Feet grounded and solid

Like a much weathered tree will gain, higher purchase

Had I known then

The value of solidity

I’d have filled my belly 

Stretching out like a catamaran

Ready to receive weight of water

Cupped once, twice, thrice

Until beneath us, all else sinks

A stone among stones, building

Fortress against cruel turn of attraction and other auctions

So easily sold for naught

I would have been a yellow woman

Christened by yoke

Feathered in shellac pose

Hardened in ocre sun

Yet able to rise like morning bread

To embrace the less savage road

Where love is not dependant upon

Rude strings of shiny beeds and fleeting sum

Nor the appraisal of one, unable to understand

The warm value of the feminine

And not that cast off coat, threadbare in her insulation

He will soon see right through his own

Penchant for the fantastical

She is weathered, moored in confidence, for her walk

He may never glance her way

Though when he says he saw

The sunset and it was beautiful

He may indeed, be describing

Her light

Only then

Thinking about strength

What will it take

To change out the crumpled suit

You’ve worn almost to death

Though not yet

It isn’t death you should fear

But not living

Being incapsulated

In redundant urge

Truth is waiting 

Like a small round shouldered girl

Watching herself reflect in cold river

If she jumps she may drown

But staying still is often worse

Easy to ignore when new to the dance

Easy to neglect when all is going well

We learn in adversity

We become more of our stalagmite

Or something transformed

It’s the decisions keeping us from knowledge

A rare moment, often painful, offers the shove

Over a cliff, out of comfort

On our knees begging for Mercy

But she is no God

We carve identity and battle from our own leather

Skinned of illusions

We stand dripping and terrified without defense

Only when it’s all stripped down, pared to the thinnest slice

Believing we cannot survive

That moment

We learn again

To truly fly

For Rick.

Selfhood

Four and twenty years

The flower in the room

Lain closed

Was no more than dim statue

Vase without rose

Color without sight

Shape losing distinction

And those who sought its open

Knew not the riddle

And so the light that came

Was always mute

Hesitant on ringing cusp

So close to elucidate, yet

What we know .. can simply be words

Spoken without access

As skater will skim surface

Unbeknownst of depth

So our hearts may idle dormant

Through many turning seasons

Held in abayance as treasure is horded

Lost over time to silentio

**

Do not put off finding your source

Though deep it runs beneath the world

Gathering sediment, silt and clay

What shape will we form, when lifted out?

Held to inspection, as writhing newborn

The metal in our veins fastening

This soul of salt 

This fusion of minerals 

Cast against unwanted chessboard

Where all demand a role

How do we learn to wade?

The fridgid waters of other’s demands

Yolking us back to previous destination

When all we strive for is the warrior pose

Striking our way forward in certitude

It is hard to remain resolute

In the eye of other’s storms

To hold on when you are being tossed

Over the edge of plundering vessel

**

Yet

Remember

You were born in motion

Swimming before breath

Breath before word

And they baptized you, based on their own heaviness

And they spooled you out, cast wide into frothy sea

Attempting to repair themselves in their seizure, of your liberty

**

It is not, returning to them, you go

But the highlands

Where only those able to breathe thin air

Can survive 

Among the castaways and forgotten

You found yourself

Knew the piston of your core

For its oiled heart

Ticking over, even as you held your breath

These many years of half won life

**

Watch the glimmering sky dispose day and usher gloves of dark

As mime artist speaks in gestured dance

See the low swoop of heavy headed swallows

Break apart and like gloaming magnet, reassert

Their whole in sight of land, gleaming in shortening pathway

Just beyond marbled horizon, saturated in indigo pulse

Where all you always were, stands waiting

To be claimed, and shone, and worn

In the splendor of selfhood, eager to push forward and meet approaching dawn

Cinder

I hope when we leave this lapsing category of malaise
It is to move toward; “All better now” and “well”

And never look back ….

At those rags that became us

Chained to a monstrous reality

Foisted like gravity

An unnatural disaster, scattering months

As what you took for granted can mock

Even the most stalwert

**

Before we were thrown together 

You were sane and I was whole

Not the vomiting wretch you met

In the dim hallway of limbo

We held onto each other

As broken pieces seek comfort

In the sharp edges of others

Not misery loving company, as pleated savagry

Misunderstood by that exterior world named;

“Those who are well, as we are no longer”

**

It was always night and always day

No difference

No discernment

To starve on the circumfrance 

You understood

The sudden loss of everything

We wrote, as violet penned lovers

On pieces of ourselves

Every tear, every unfurnished gap

Showing where parts of our whole had

Turned to ashen facsimile

**

In our former world

We may never have

Shared a long drawn breath

And here, in a room without clocks

We assemble words like kindling

Speaking of forbidden things

The rest of the world seeks succor from

Sickness you see, is a social pariah

People flee, even family

And the world could have burnt down outside this hospital

With you and I clad in backless gowns

The ribboned IV, a sharp needle with scratched song

Our wet faces seeing only the glue of disease

Dancing like embers at the edge of pinkening day

Rolling into months, as illness will smother whatever you were before

You lost the bet ….

**

Longing to leave this new role with the urgent lust of addicts

Nosing bags of sugar, to reclaim health

Though it were a fabled prize

And maybe it is 

For those shod on soft shoes

Feeling every stone beneath

Something of trauma, acts as language

Only you, only I, understand

We’ll never be the same now

Whether we survived or died

Shifting mystery within, to a new state without

Everything changes, even the taste of day and close of night

A voice

A warning

Unwelcome insight

And you tell me

We are closer for sharing a preview of death

Than friends who laughed together for decades

For fear can make strange bed fellows

**

It is true

My friend found in darkness

Reflection of what we never say outloud

It is my wish we gather everything we have left

Set fire to the pyre

Douse argument

Walk right through

Finding out there is a bridge

Even when you almost gave up

There are hands reaching 

For whatever is left after the fall

Hope

Pitches a tent in the parking lot and waits however long

And it is that 

Or maybe nothing more than will

A will to reclaim

That sets us trying again and again

With the forge of desire

Silver in a cloudless sky

Child of you


Passion

You may feel it in obvious ways

How he leans in with his enveloping strength

Or, in the thunder of your chest, riding imaginary horses with your best friend

Forgetful of arithmetic and teachers who felt you’d end your days in borstel, because you did like running rings around them didn’t you?

Regretting those petty rebellions later

Then in the crisp light and imagined stampede

You thrashed to the furthest point in your mind, bathed in fantasy

A place hard to reach, even splayed on cold Mexican tile, pretending your hand was his

Even, swimming underwater, until your lungs burned to surface

It was as if, once you grow up, the way back becomes harder

Like a secret language, only known to children, daunting you with tattered reminder

The tree house of your neighbor, as you take the prescribed walk, your cardiologist insisted upon

The first rain lillies urging through Texan soil against all odds, their impossible fragility, an exquisite reprieve from cracked earth

Have you gone so far child? As to forget the combination? Here where verbena and lemon grass pummel air with magic, here where you didn’t need anything 

But the cupping of your hands with wonderment, running through water like you were born again and again, emptied of harm, full of the vigor of not knowing, the beaten path to adulthood