Shoulders

Have you been a pall bearer?

Hefted the weight of a life

On your knitted shoulders

Waited out a scraped legacy

The bare snow covered branches

Truncating desolate plowed fields

Bird feathers showing in peppered shake

A recent emptying of warmth

Wearing kid yellow gloves because of early snow

Have you? Ever

Felt the weight digging into your neck?

Prizing reflection from your mortal frame

For he who rides on your calcifying bones

The errant and purposed heaviness of death

What did you think?

Going home to lean on thin elbows at kitchen table

Watching scarred pigeons on the sill

Coo and jostle for favored place in good fat sun

How stirred your mind

To the carrying of a whole life?

The resonance of loss, an impression

Marking you sutured and changed

Oh Lord, anything but cantinflear

What I learned from my father’s girlfriends #1 Mariana

s60_66

Mariana was nineteen and built like

a short Bogotá cigar

her skin was buttery and she

used a lot of lip gloss

in those days every woman worth their salt

had a Princess Di cut

Mariana, 5’ft nothing, full of contradiction

Columbian girl with English Princess bangs

she spoke using long consonants

her teeth were crooked but very white

her breath smelt of chocolate and hairspray

she said; sé una buena niña y te daré un dulce

so nicely I couldn’t be naughty and disobey

we read books together, learning the same words

when my father got home she delighted him

with a South American sauce

I wanted her to be mine

to keep her with my marzipan frog

on my mantle

where she’d fit right in and squat

watching over me when the night grew dark

I didn’t want her to leave

the day it rained and she boarded Air Iberia

in a yellow slicker and tight Gloria Vanderbilt jeans

I’ll write you mi Amor she called

a yellow handkerchief tied around her neck

reminding me of 1970’s air-stewardesses

crying more for the loss of me than

my father, already checking out arrivals lounge

for a time I received

Little Twin Stars and Hello Kitty

perfumed notes with bubble handwriting

until I forgot too, her words of endearment

she was like my marzipan frog

who disappeared one day

years later I found out

he’d rotten being kept too long and been thrown out

just like children cannot understand

the whims and fickleness of

adult love

Equal

At every juncture

The challenges are

Equal

For a five year old

First learning to fit in

Can be as painful as

A ninety year olds last breath

When we inhabit that moment

In the skin of then

We are incomparable

For one shall survive a flood

And another the passing of their favorite dog

A child may cry at a bad grade

Whilst her mother learns she must lose her breast

There are few compasses

In the search for meaning

We are not

Linear beings

Back to you

What used to matter

Hangs damp in cold room

Thin at neck, gravity urging shape

To stretch uneven and gnarled by neglect.

What used to matter

Is a stain that isn’t removed by washing, even on high

A partial magnet on fridge, without part that gave meaning

Just an outline, take a guess; bird or city, resort or wise crack

We fill in what nolonger makes sense, with the dried impatience of ninety year olds

Unable to return volley.

What used to matter

Lies between us at night, tossing and turning

If we were milk, we’d spoil before first light

But you were always practical, rinsing bottles the night before

If you’d been a typewriter you’d have made a perfect sound at the end of each sentence

ding

You take out the old and bring in the new

I’m reminded of lamps, one shiny, one tarnished

And your face, free of regret, is smooth as avocado forest

But if I tell you, we’ll go round and round, quips about green skin

And eventually sing Kermit’s song; It’s not easy being green

I know this before you’ve even moved, to rid us of silence

That has grown like icicles, betwixt our garden

So it is I, who unlatches back door and places

What used to matter

Out for recycling.

Early morning hands will whisk away

All those spoilt emotions

And sun will dapple our lawn with fresh light

I figure, it’s the start

Of doing things differently

And I climb the stairs

Back to you

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

Tell me then

20150820121056_00001It’s not all about me.

We look up at the sky, wondering who is looking down.

It’s not all about me.

As we age, moments catch us like snags on

favorite cardigans

mended but never the same

too good for charity, too flawed to sell

value in sentiment and what was once

at first glance, flawless

as if such a thing matters after a while

too late we see this

after years of staring into mirrors thinking

if I were just a little prettier they would … love me, desire me, need me

it’s not all about me

or the holes we mend, attempting to recreate

but you find that out after many errors and so

is it any wonder the old will smile wistfully and proclaim

youth is wasted on the young

just as bras that are uncomfortable

are the domain of insecure girls like I was

clinging to images and totems

rather than digging my heels in and

staring upward at the sky

heavy with impending storm

so we left our youth like a shed skin

and not knowing of this wasteland stumbled

catching glimpses of who we were before

fear made us raw

the taste of elements on your tongue

every superstition a reminder

what you don’t know can harm

and then

letting go because the weight is

crushing you into absorbing mud

drying your scream

wondering

what did my ancestors feel? As they walked

witness to the stillness of night and

the unseen murmur of what could and is not

like a giant ships knot

impossible to pick

halts momentum

I stood like an ice princess

poised to act

and turned to fat

turned inside out and back

like a flipping cat will somersault maybe eight times

landing on his feet

my soles are sore

with the burden of myself

all those unlicked envelopes containing

individual tethers to places in time

experiences, terrors, lessons

and the well-worn knees of an ardent repenter

who throws down their sin

and still it sticks to him for one and the same

we become, with our habits and our movement

gliding through the years like ivory comb

will stick in tangled hair and pull

some loose

I dangle

from a mountain of my own making

all the aches, those childish glimmers

reflecting across the lake like

long fingers will create sound

we move to instinctively

tell me then

how to absolve myself of the penchant

for avoiding hard things

tell me then

how we live, in still life, arranged on a table

like hot watermelon, freshly sliced, drips its

sticky insides

tell me then

the exact mixture to eliminate that

terrible awareness you have

mastered easy ways out

only to find yourself

grown over with maze

tell me then

is it too late

when the hour strikes

and your reflection is almost unrecognized

to return and begin again

that clear, straight path

you once believed yourself on

before you lost courage

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.