Quenching

SHRIMP CROSS BACKHer shape

puts me at peace

lying propped up, one elbow jutting

one foot lolling out of damp sheets

curled in a knot of former movement

the wind outside is hitting moss covered shingles

like it wants to join in

clouds swirl like drunken sailors over-head

she has a strange gait

as if unsure of being girl or boy

yet her legs are as straight as a dancers

envious I suspect of my curves

the tattoo that begs to be planed

for every vein and every vessel

we are ever waiting to reach deeper

the fusion of two lovers

one defying gravity with breasts like pinches

mocking those half her age who struggle to stay

retroussé

the other a drunk without bottle

swimming in fear and loathing

tempered sometimes by her steady hand

pulling me to discomfort

where pier lights wink til past the witching hour

relieved nobody burning needs

quenching

 

Consume my hope

If we leave the letter unwritten 
saying nothing

deer leaning in the window salvaging for morsel of night 
grimacing when we stir, wind chimes with pointed feet 
dancing awkwardly in ill-fitting clothes, vindicating a 
suspicion of absurdity

turn from me then, until you stop being and I sit alone
watching faceless walls communing with plaster
you shape my days and can as easily, burn me standing
waiting for a word, a finger-tip, a smudge 

for when you strike, you are a panther, encased in skin
charboiling my heart over wilting blossom 
it is not possible to deny you
the switch of myself shivering electric 
in that, we are alike, the one who loses her hair in bunches and you
who cook longing on high flame 

hang yourself up on the back of my hook, let me catch you wriggling 
in my wet fingers made into a cup
like rounding moons with promise will become fairy circles 

when you emerge, dry-eyed and hot-skinned, let me lick the burn 
ringing your throat like the words you will 
strike out again and again in every ink
catching river stones in your mouth 
under my tongue
stretch out, beckon me, consume my hope 

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

Polemic

Girls Doing Handstands, Southam Street, London 1956

A polemic once

mapped the world and

chambers of the heart

declaring

men love men three percent proof

and women love women

once or never

It explained the empty feeling in the bars

girls playing boys hitting balls into green pockets

It explained why gay men swelled in number

disco fever, why did they smell so much better?

is it nature or nurture?

testosterone in the womb or green enchiladas?

is it birth order or red hair?

left-handedness or playing Barbie too long with your sisters?

was it the color purple or your best friend Michael

showing each other what you had beneath the lilac tree

screaming and shouting FRANKFURTER!

at the top of your lungs

running as fast as you could

a natural instinct

the adults

drinking Pims Number One

look up briefly with reddened lips

boys will be boys

and girls will be girls

they nod all-knowing

knowing nothing

of the sum and the handspan

found only in the dial and fragile turn

of wonder

For then was our time

three-girls-having-tea-party-at-grace-mcmonagles-house-probably-seattle-washingtonIn thatched thicket of March
invisible webs caught light
staying our hand to remembrance
for then was our time, roughly
put together we stayed storms
our footprints bleaching journey
like shells without swirl
though you often looked
straight-backed and supple
against the long glass
like a diver of pearls who
caught the sheen and glow
they possessed, capturing
in un-rinsed jelly cups the
reddened lips of a child
with her thick inky hair
fastened by protesting ribbon
pouring out of her the shimmer

of deep-sea ancestors

bequeathing you immortality
as cast in moon light you
pause against time’s salty thirst

Cynthia

1b2e18a4-2778-45ec-9b4d-1bc651889137_560_420.jpg

Let me tell you a story …

once there was an ugly girl, by ugly I mean her soul was desolate of compassion

nobody could see her true make, because she kept her cheeks brightly daubed with grease paint

every so often she’d be provoked and the alabaster devil would crawl out

betraying her neutered joins beneath camouflage

she asked me

BITCH why are you so fucking NICE?

venom dripping from her opaque maw

she could hardly contain her tiny fanged roll of hatred

as if by being merciful I disobeyed natural laws

her hellish countenance, displeasured turn of rule

she was without color, an albino sheltering behind false eye-balls

gathering fruits of her murder, dragging the axe behind

wishing so much to rise it over head and crack my tinted neck

why for some … it is a sport to undo others?

Rorschach of destruction splattered on pavements

I shall never know

she wanted my extinction

eradicate a girl who is not like her

crying; who does she think she is?

challenging the natural order of our dirt filled minds

bent on collapsing compassion

 

why are we suspicious of those who are tender?

as if they must all contain a poisoned dart or

some ulterior motive

it is not so very strange to be considerate

 

she was the butcher’s knife in plain sight

questioning my integrity implying I had some

hidden destination

everyone would rather believe kindness an invention

cruelty the status quo

they joined in their discrimination

sending me out in the wilderness

where I watched them eat each other

the way glinting crows starved of fresh meat

will turn sharp on their neighbor

and I

have been wild ever since

Anything seems possible

image002.pngEating peanut butter always reminds me of the night a gay man tried to seduce me

the irony is I never ate peanut butter until I became American

nor did I have any gay male friends

they thought me too girly with my waist-length hair, frilly frocks and high socks

an object easier for ridicule, there are status levels of coolness I didn’t care about

because I didn’t fit in with their ideas just as they were not

societies chosen children

it seemed a shame two outcasts wouldn’t bridge the gap

but Rick did, he was he said, a Bear in the gay world

what does that mean? I wanted to know

it’s a kind of look he said

there are others, like geek, school boy, father

why must you have labels when society already forces them?

maybe that’s why we do, he said and looked sad

which was an unusual thing because he laughed all the time

you know what they say about comedians and how

they make others laugh because inside they hurt

and he was left handed-too like me

maybe he did resemble a bear

 

so when I sat on his lap in the bar and he whispered

the feel of you is driving me crazy

I gave him a double-look

those words can’t be coming from you

I thought I was safe on a queer man’s knee

you’re not safe on any man’s knee in this country he said

we’re no longer in France and it’s not du rigor

all men want sex, gay men may be gay but they still

sometimes take to bed the occasional woman

I hadn’t known that

the lesbian world was more rigid with thick rule books

and tightly closed legs

it was hard enough to sleep with another woman

lesbian-bed-death and all

but men? A few who couldn’t get pregnant with turkey-basters

fell in love with their male donors

but only on a full moon

and whilst I made no habit of sitting on men’s knees usually

the bar was heaving with sweating twenty year olds

and he was gay and I was gay and everyone should be gay and do a little dance

except I was sad and lonely and Rick complained that

men down the leather bar thought 30 was old so he feared

the day when he would be irrelevant and nobody would desire

his gentle paunch and diminishing hairline

I told him that day will never come you matter to me

and we both saw how we filled each others needs

better than someone of the same-sex ever could

which seemed a painful irony

I might have drunkenly slept with him if I didn’t

already know he’d been promiscuous

and I am a responsible child of the AIDS era and

not fond of navigating awkward mornings

he might have slept with me the way a lonely boy

finds a hole in any surface

to release the places he keeps hidden

then we wouldn’t have been friends

and that would have been the last time

I’d sat on a boys knee, queer or straight

so I wouldn’t have seen you on stage performing or

your ex girlfriend staring at you with open-mouth desire

when she was supposed to be courting me

that night I learned a little about people

I would have understood less from the back of the room

forgetting the advantages of the heterosexual girl

smoking a black cigarette and knocking back my gloom

for minority status isn’t all about being different

it can be the loneliest place in the world

and even dyed in the wool queers

have fantasies about knights, princes and castles

when the room is dark and oily

and anything seems possible

The loveliness of her

girlCoffee percolates

hot gurgle to wake the fog

her long limbs against purple

her abundant hair tracing to her waist

she stirs

I see

in that very little time

the reason we are

slaves

Lovers for everything

evelyn_mchale-suicide-1050ft-jump

I’m so cold

my fingers are chaffed to crepe

and I think of you

curling my bunions and split ends into smiles

you who thought my high forehead, regal and grand

you who turned my flaws into delights

misting unflattering mirrors to better light

I think of you and how

I felt when you regarded me

with the bright eyes of love

that dimmed and winked out

gradually until even the blind could see

you no longer held me in your esteem

that’s when I told myself

don’t depend upon the love of others

to hold you to the light

do not need the touch of someone who desires you

to be all right

but who am I kidding?

even the flower

the feral cat and mocking bird

the sky, the earth and all between

even the damn puddles and muddy stream

needs someone to say to them

you look lovely still

you make my heart skip a beat

even if it is a bush or bramble hedge

maybe out there in the wild there are

lovers for everything

whilst I

try to find in not being loved

the companionship of silence

but it is not

no it is not

good enough

for quiet endurance does not have

your caring arms

holding me from the world

turning me from lead to precious metal

nor the ardor of your eyes

reminding me to shine

when I think I cannot

no

that hope is lost

the day you turned your head

no longer delighted by my flaws

I am just ordinary now

and a bunion is a bunion

sticking out of my shoe

at rude angle

as sorry as any malformed bone could be

to lose such fantasy

The clamor of our substance

woman-roaring

Go with the swallows

in last leaving light

submerging beneath

ancient vowels aching to

disperse into stars

surely as we stare

into knowing skies

seeing reflections of ourselves

incantations of former lives

where our shouts are heard

by the starling and the night birds

roosting beneath our dreams

surely, as we reach

to learn the meaning of such things

urged by the wistful lingering

adrenalin beneath our felt

stirring such courage to bear

another day, another question

cruelty may linger her long face

set against the timer like a watchful

scold may taunt the slower chase

still she has but fleeting power

when in another day another place

we rise

thundering on our heels

toward the mouth

where our claims are heard

on the itch of truth

scattering us wide

we are invisible

until woken

when we stride

wide and fruitful

the clamor of our substance

revealing in each birth

another head to count

one more female willing

to set her flame on high

and stir

in quiet formation

the centrifuge of life

in the shape of us