MAKE ME

war paint

When I’m not telling people

I am the least competitive person you’ll meet

I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema

I am nevertheless, competing with myself

to survive

the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole

appears to be my greatest talent

should they look me up in the dictionary

I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero

it began before words were formed, a slow

incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies

of my relatives

a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty

denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach

was more than a night terror

swimming for medals was competitive after all but

didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded

like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget

noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city

swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found

among cast-off plasters.

Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened

by sandwich of pain in my gut or how

no-one for me sitting among keening spectators

when I came up for air.

Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it

perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house

with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.

When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl

I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy

kid shoes against linoleum hallways

what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated

we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the

shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?

We learn the company of other Reparates

is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot

make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling

soon I gave up trying for A’s

locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends

instead of this disinterested girl

briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater

but coming up for air was much harder.

I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined

surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds

battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world

I rarely visit

it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with

the shifting skin of me

something that happens when you begin to leach

that essence of youth and vigor

realizing, if you can make it out of bed today

you’re doing better than the day before.

I hear in my head, the scold of my mother

who believed I gave myself this illness

and much as they’ve told me that’s madness

I am often found returning to those words

as if they have some clammy power over me

which of course, they do.

I know I was well and then I was not

just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity

or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage

it’s a day when colors and sounds change

in this case, terror walked into my throat

sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.

Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those

paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores

put them in water and watch them bloom

only long enough before turning to ink and

wet tree pulp

it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than

those you expect

angry with yourself for not learning sooner

expectation leads to disappointment.

This could be why I didn’t

enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)

better to stay low and wait it out until

you can have your turn

only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left

then it’s almost too late and you have to change

everything.

Nowadays I compete with myself

can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?

Will it matter if I do?

What happens afterward?

Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird

I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart

Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’

perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but

something lovely, I can only hope

though my body likes to punch me in the gut

as I fall asleep and try to dream

thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice

this was something you did wrong

thump, thump, thump, my own voice

no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around

even getting half way there would be some kind

of accomplishment

which is why I always said it’s not about winning

but making the effort

to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.

Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between

throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying

maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see

I’m not from here, I don’t belong

though where I came from I hardly know anymore

so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw

with every passing year I realize

I can’t win, I but I will fight

MAKE ME I whisper to myself

bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.

 

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We cried a long time ago. We don’t cry anymore.

AR-180119488

A warbling, holding, green glass pain

Like joined hands make paper cut

Invisible like girl in crowd, falls

Deep as ink without light

Stinging with clamoring cymbal

Tears almost bare themselves as first night lovers, tremorous

Retreat beyond the naked streets

It is not brutal gnashing strength

But soft lipped resignation

And a little elipsing hope

For bare faced ceasement

Lain like prayers and rushes and thrown flowers wetting paving stones

No ceremony. Only, black cars devoid of dust

A trail without salt. They bent lower to seek. Not yet.

It’s hard to say it. The wind chokes words. Before.

We walk on. Omphalos in fatigued lament

Toward reprieve, illuminate in muted tempest.

Moonshine

(inspired by finding an old photograph of a fancy-dress party I attended at University that I hadn’t seen in years)

One of them is me

but which holds the key? Later perhaps we

shall know our fruiting journey through

maze of youth

and slow pull of stocking

for kind of touch best found

in satiny afternoon glow

outside I hear my dim-eyed neighbor

mowing lawns until he aches silver

because his wife has turned away

nobody touches him anymore with

the dreams of yesteryear

so we sprint toward each

invisible finish line

with emptiness in our hearts

filled with busy distraction

nothing lasting, nothing to

endure or sate cold claim

of climbing into bed

unwanted or alone

the feel of darkness, our shroud

from terrible disappointment

and then

then I had it all and didn’t know

standing on the precipice

we laughed at our indomitable

facility to thrive

not yet diseased

not yet rawboned with stretch marks

nipping their silver lines like unwanted lace

or sagging pieces shaking to no

good beat

not yet diminished on shallow waxen wheel

of male adoration

though for me this was never

a piece I wished to carve for myself

it was the love of a woman I craved

like first drink from fountain

on a hot day with no clouds in sight

languorously we exult

in

crocheted certainty, time will stand still

make for ourselves exceptions and grand entrance

the labor of hope so easy and lubricated

then

we’ll never be shaken off

like a dull wet thing

nor left to gather dust

as something once favored

we are surely, gleaming warm heads

of our own personal state

if I could have heard the warning

should I have been able

to listen?

likely not for

day is long and hour far

we take lovers for bread and jam

hate yet a curiosity

our parents live robust

we can yet still, the freedom to

go home

there are structures protecting

the hollow timber of our hearts

from these days what we can we learn?

as growing up and away

truth becomes stretched and gray

friends falling away

the bounty of never-never coming to claim

her inevitable duality

delight in youth, for contrast is cruel

all should have its value

but we are flippant with our boon

and when the cold night comes

we usher ourselves to greater darkness

in the strangeness of change

not able to see what is portent

nor later

the freedom

released from expectation

to unfold our wings

take flight

no more a shining thing

but something effervescent

and filled with

light

casting its thrall

as long ago, diving for pearls

we claimed the moon

Paris is for lovers

There are many kinds of travelers

one who promotes the art of transience

with ejubulent smiling photos atop picturesque vitas, repleat with apeing friends

sleeps undisturbed by change, in the marvel of perpetual motion

one who never travels

but hastens to add, everyone must

and enjoy it they should

for all they cannot understand, they bundle

in wistfulness and naivity

like a child imagining adulthood

the last traveler is uneasy

feeling a sorrow in changing places

the witness of other lives and roads

since earliest memory the yoke of

vacation was not to be appreciated but mourned

their comfort found in staying still

than the kalidoscope of others spin

demanding constancy and things, unable to be bequeathed

where disturbance comes, in the form of expectation

sorrow of coach stations and midway stops

grief striken as graves and road trips without gasoline

you are said to be fortunate, if you can travel often

the grateful traveler may forget

the gritty loneliness of their highway bed

never admitting they wished to return, even before they set off

belonging is a feeling, some will never attain

their search in crowds of strangers, leaves further lost than claimed

Yet no one

No one at all

Will ever admit

To being loathe to travel

Sound

The kitchen, the harth, the space, is unlit

Weak light, nothing stirring

She is as still, as a breathing creature, can be

Sound… is for the world, chasing beyond itself

Where girls like her, hold tight to bus rails, wind messing their hair

Where children cling to parents, shy in perpetual game

Where men stoop to kiss women, full cheeks upturned

Music and the chink of movement, gypsy motion

Color and the russle of long skirts, like painted fans

A sky as blue as country girls eyes

The haggle of time

A red river, carved by motion

She wore those days, like a red dress, loose limbed and free

Unknowing yet, bestial crush of illness

Jeering like envious stranger, swallowing thin air

She is as still as a breathing creature can be

Sound, is for the world, chasing beyond itself

There is a place

There is a place, to quench your thirst

It lies

Further than you can reach

And 

Nearer than losing hope

For if you fall short

And beseach the void

With nothing more than the scars of your trial

There will be no reply

From the dieties we cut out of paper and hang from the sky

There will be no response

From those Gods of the underworld, intent on war

And even calling upon Gia

She will cast a long weekend storm 

Drowning your faith in rain

Too easy to retrace and see again

The drizzle of despair, mocking courage

Only do not linger there on your knees

Carrying terror along a shiver of bone, knives on sleet

For haunted corridors have no permanent harness 

No freedom to defy, unless permission is granted

Only do not linger there in terror’s savage maw

Past fears may mount campaigns, but you

Sailed away on a blue midnight train

Wreathed in pale smoke and all unspoken dreams

For as long as you listen for fear, the record will remain

Stuck on a slow dance without willing partner

Choose your new shoes, write your own song

Frequent heartburn doesn’t hurt when you transfer to thirst

And drink deeply, for within the spring hope is refound

And God’s? They live not in clouds but within us

Lending the strength to never ever give up

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