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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Sylvia

sylvia-plath-4

She died, head in the oven

fingers black with ink, tongue out

licking her last punctuation

eyes rolled back, wet marbles

seeing beyond earthly confinement.

She died, with white gloves on

pinched bones of her little wrists

dangling at emptied angles

were delicate even then

as if she were choosing

with her ending

to dance

yet

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

I never grew out of needing a dragon tail

63f23c6809bddf9597b4c6236a8c747aThere is a girl I ‘know’ online, she’s a twenty-something artist and a writer and suffers from crippling social anxiety and it struck me, when I heard she suffered from social anxiety, that it was a great irony.

Why? Because I had concluded that with my own social anxiety, I would be ‘able’ to do a live poetry reading if I could somehow inhabit someone like her, change skins, climb into her person-suit and read the poetry through her eyes.

So obviously the next thought was … that’s really weird. Why would you be able to read your poetry aloud in front of people if you were her but not if you were you? The conclusion must have something to do with self-hatred on some level, but it’s also about what you want to project.

Sad to admit, I don’t want to project me. I want to project someone like a photographer may appreciate and project through that appreciation the beauty of someone else. I’m a behind-the-scenes type. I didn’t used to be, I was the belly dancer at the front of the school play, but the difference was, I still wore a mask. That time the mask was dark paint, a wig and a veil.

Some of us need veils or metaphoric veils or some type of guise to be ourselves. For me it used to be a few drinks – dutch courage. I didn’t even know it, but before going out I would swig a bit and then I could go through with it. Not a good method. When the ulcer nixed that option, I retreated further than I thought possible, unable to face going out without my mask.

I see others, people who are not attractive, people who are silly, people who are absurd, do it all the time, and I admire them and wonder, how is it that they can do this and I cannot? I’m not certain of anything other than, when you feel this way, it’s like you are under a microscope, on a petri-dish and everyone who looks your way is shining a light on you and you can’t stand the inspection.

It is an illusion or delusion of course, because people see individuals less and less these days than ever before! We truly can walk around and be invisible and ignored! But when you feel that scrutiny it’s like sunburn, you just have to get out of the sun even when it’s not really happening it feels like it is!

A few of my friends, normal, not overly attractive people, can stand up there and do anything and everything. They are admired because they appear to have no fear or they feel the fear and do it anyway. I despise my inability to do this, but I do not despise it in others, I understand it in others, I have empathy for it in others, so despising myself is another point of hypocrisy.

Any delusion is hypocritical. A feminist may starve herself because she sees a ‘fat girl’ in the mirror, who does not exist, and despite believing it doesn’t matter what you weigh, she’s caught up in it nevertheless. It’s like being hypnotized. If you take anxiety meds you are released from them, but it’s artificial. I have yet to find a ‘natural’ method, though much is made of natural cures, none have worked thus far.

All I’m really saying by this, is, how interesting to imagine, just by being someone else we could be ourselves. I think of those robot or clone films where people are asleep and send out their robot version. How much I dislike that idea of living and life, how I don’t like the idea of women behind veils, and yet, when I think of standing up and reading my work I want to put on the dragon suit I had as a little kid so badly. I want to wear it underneath myself (my true dragon self) as I did when I was a kid, and the teacher would pull out the tail and say ‘she’s done it again’ and call my dad.

I am you see, a dragon, and I want to be a dragon, and if I cannot be a dragon I would like to be my friend who looks a little like Jennifer Beal whom I liked very much in Flashdance and it’s not a creepy reason at all because I don’t fancy my friend, but I would be able to read my poetry out loud if I had her curly hair and brown skin. Ironically she is more scared than I am, and if I ever met her off WP I would say ‘what an irony, you are too scared to be you and I am too scared to be me, shall we be dragons?’

The cruel joy of condemnation

michelle-rodriguez-girlfightRound up, round up

gather round, gather round

it is time to judge the dysfunctional

even the mad ones do

if we have succeeded where you have not

we’ll throw the pitch and tar

round up, round up,

gather round, gather round

easier to chuck stones even as we inhabit

our own hypocracy and glass houses

damn those considered weaker than us

for we can tred water and you cannot

(and they wonder why the depressed often die)

taking their lives as you would

walk off an edge just to stop

the scold

the approbation

the cruel joy of condemnation

 

I have long wanted to understand

the thrill of hurting another because you CAN

it passes me by, seems nothing more than

squashing a fly because of your size

what cowardice in that !

thinking of the playground

how we grow but remain treading mechanics of cruelty

those kids who would spot the weakest

single them from the pack and throw rocks

did not know the damage they caused

every year hence, disturbing growth

perhaps it is wrong of me to wish

to return and throttle their skinny necks

how is cruelty resolved by violence?

yet the passive do rise within themselves

seeking retribution

 

that’s what it took when an ugly boy with red hair and freckles

and a thick Irish accent decided I was his prey

I tried to be patient for a time

when I saw on his face the sick gratification of a smile

at hurt inflicted

there was no reason or ignoring could fix it

I swung my arm as hard as I could

just like the day I tried out for rounders

and hit a curve ball

his jaw made a whacking sound and a click

something unnatural about it

burning pain shot down my arm and into my mouth

as if I had swallowed his aggression just for a moment

his face swelled and grew red before his cry

I noticed how good it felt to stand above him

looking down avenging myself

screaming at the top of my lungs

don’t ever touch me again or I will destroy you

he never did

and right or wrong

that day taught me whether I wanted it or not

sometimes rule books and morals miss

the playground solution to evil

 

if you’ve tried everything else

hit them with all you’ve got

don’t bow your head and say

thank you boss I like it when you make me feel so awful

ever since if nothing else I can say

nobody will walk on me or hold me down

it might not be much but it’s something more

than the fear of being bullied, that sickness

in the morning as you wake

terror in your day ahead

sometimes there is no good outcome

much as we try to use our intellect

the savage side of us can protect against

those who like hurting for no reason

 

how can you fight absurdity with sense?

we are given fists, and I do not regret

the blood on mine

antithetical to almost everything I believe

when we are pushed to the edge

we react in kind

like with like

fire with fire

an eye for an eye

may leave the whole world blind

yes and still

come for me and I will

 

 

(A lot of people may disagree with this. But in the real world ‘reasoning’ with a bully doesn’t always work. Having tried everything and not having further recourse, with nobody to stand up for me, I stood up for myself. Was it morally or ethically any better than the bully? Yes, because it wasn’t what I wanted to start or finish but it had to end. This ended it. I have never regretted it. If it happened exactly the same again I’d do exactly the same again. What they don’t teach you in the karma and psychology books is the street rules, and what actually happens in real life. Even kids can be sadists, even kids can want to destroy a person for NO reason. Learning to stop that, is key to survival. I survived because I fought back. Condemn it, but in the same scenario, what would you have done?).

 

Unrequited love longs

New York in The 1960's - 70's (3)I didn’t know you felt that way

just as the golden-haired girl

with bleached French roots

didn’t know I felt for her

(or worse, knew, and felt

less than dismissal)

we are ebony dominoes

pass the plain papered parcel

our affections whittled and sharpen

by the smoky knowledge we can never

confess ourselves or pardon

to objects of secreted passion

so remote and out of touch

the girl who falls for

a woman who loves men

the heterosexual who has a crush

on a flamboyant boy

things get broken without throwing

why is emotion so deluded?

I will never tell her my secret

just as you will not reveal yours

in our actions and what we do not say

there is the truth

explaining the easy pain of social discourse

masking itself behind awkwardness

when she talks about the men she dates

I dare not say … choose me you fool

I could make you dance

in a way you have not yet discovered

some people hang out of reach

even for sailors

leaning into the confessional surge

I can empathize

I would never have said yes to unwanted

dinner guests

so why should she entertain a cliché?

girls who like girls fall for those who

cannot be reached across life boats

better I hold my green tongue

admire from afar

the provoking shape of her

the way she knows

people are watching

her sway to

unrequited love songs

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