Against the unknown world

They move together like quicksilver

indisipherable in pursuit

there is such a love in his eyes

her smooth hands cup his mouth

drinking the words he would gush

if they were not pressed tightly, one to the other

locked in an embrace

that gives life

quickening as signature is fluid

when she finds out, she imagines telling her daughter twenty years hence

the story of her conception;

your father and I loved you very much

we lay down by the fireplace, he took me in his arms

from this passion you were forged into life

clay breathed upon, bearing breath and soul

you were wanted, even before you chose

to fill us with yourself

my stomach grew and grew until

it was a tight drum on which to paint

the symbols of your dream

**

He moved in her, his eyes tightly shut

he thought of other women, he thought of touching himself

in the office toilet at lunch with folded magazine

and why such things happened when he had all he could ever want

here in his arms, still he betrayed with desires, ill-tuned to eternal love

when she grew fat and round he did not

wish to hold her quite so tightly, or touch her hot flushed pressing flesh

he thought of others, he got up early, and jogged his frustration into sweat

**

Don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

as she labored and her face grew red and her hands sought his

and he wanted to run from the room and shove well fed nurse

against the wall and pour his horror of birth and future into her lipsticked sighs

don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

i’m going to sew her up even tighter, it will be like

Christmas day when you unwrap her again

the quintisential “husband’s stitch”

and over his starched cloak and gown, the doctors grey eyebrows

went up and down and he, who was lost

lurched and threw up at the violence and the shame

of men and of women and of life and death, inequality and lust

**

then his daughter was born

fat and round and squalling loudly

if he could have interpreted those words, he felt they spoke to him a repromand

for his cowardice and his fears, imagining being a father

of growing up and settling down, of love and impossible challenges and joys

he saw his wife’s face, wet with sweat and hair plastered down

he felt more than he had ever felt, the emptiness of the past replaced

no longing to empty himself in the coldness of pornography as she slept

a lifetime from the day he first took her to bed and

stripped her of choice with impregnated seed

and now he knew

the fear of men is the strength of women

his daughter fixed him with swollen red eyes

watching him with a stearness that seemed to say

you can do this, you got this, you are not your worst thought

you can be who you want to be, you can be my father, you can love these women

you can direct our future, reshaping mountains

or fall into the arms of least resistance, worship the emptiness of hollow gestures

she seemed to be saying with her tiny fists and pursed lips

turn away from your shallow sport, take this road with us

he who once was weak, grew with love

those things that once were, no more

his resilience, their armor

against the unknown world

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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

It’s a girl

Jean Shrimpton in Harper’s Bazaar.jpegYou try to convince yourself

but the only person who believes you

is you

with your hands in the warm water of the sink

faraway you hear the sound of dishes being washed

see a woman standing straight backed

her toes inverted

she’s staring out into the night garden

wondering why she believes herself

when everyone else can see she’s a fraud

a pretence

someone who subsists on delusions

like age doesn’t matter and

success isn’t measured by attainment

her thin veined hands

busy with pots and pans

to keep from stillness striking her dumb

 

behold her truth

she has gone through life with her mouth sewn

tied into knots of her own doing

and a few given her at birth

when they lifted her out into the stale city air

and said

well I see that

it’s a girl

This is all I want

4f593252ef32b7830e6dd93df6f585acThis is all I want

I want to separate you from the lie

divide the rotten from edible

keep the true half

this is all I want

I want to deny and I want to rewind

to the place you first made

me feel

there underneath the lemon tree

with tin ornaments chiming

like informal instruments of hurt

waiting for master

there as sun dappled river water

turning brown to copper

you crushed my fingers together

knotted my heart within yours

there in that sharp aspect of honesty

dissolving fear

you could not have lied then

looking at me with your onyx eyes

hiding nothing

there when I opened my chest

everything waiting within the wings

poured into you

we mixed ourselves in each other

blood, tar, tears, bruises and wishes

changing color, swapping features

indistinguishable in rebirth

I could no more tell you where I ended

and you began to exist

twins of sorrow, born to feel everything

finding each other the only salve

when it got too much you would

grip me tightly and we’d see

the reflection of us in the water

shaking with light and misunderstanding

as if time could not contain

all that we felt

 

this is all I want

for you to say you were not

a figment of my imagination

a missing part of stepping stone

to the other side where you stood

waving and urging me on

cross over

here I am

I promise

I will never leave

I hear your voice low and

reedy, carried by wind down stream

my socks are wet

my hands tremble

I reach for you

grabbing chalky air, dry with claim

where you were once whole and certain

now dark water is still as glass

I see myself reflected alone

emptied of promise

Within the woods

thYou lost your grip on reality around the same time

my own dalliance with death disturbed the rafters

my shoulders of a man, yours of a sparrow

we danced around amber whiskey bottles

setting fire to tarmac

lifting our skirts before silver ash enveloped us

but maybe I didn’t clean my feet well enough

you began to tremble in the morning

and I found I could not move

it was as if a deer had been startled

standing quite still in dried grass

he was frozen in situ

for a time I wanted to break out

resume merriment and three penny carnival

until the feeling of falling inside

behind the bones of your face

where all emotion blanches and traces

secrets and lies

became my norm

I did not know anymore

how to stir cocktails of polite acquaintance

or make small talk trace like sleepy snails

I did not know anymore

what became of my social graces

pinned and folded beneath me like taffeta

it gave me comfort to

lose my art of conversation

the yawning maw of fraternization

I listened to words and they did not

beckon me come closer

I felt as strange as the outdoor moth

who half wishes he did not

slap against warm glass trying to

eat the light

for it is not you he seeks

but the burn and blitz of some fantastic

singeing his wings in tattoo

and I too

had always yearned for that feeling

never discovered among the feeding troughs

of social intercourse

and once or twice I left

a full and heaving party

to lift my legs for a stranger in

cramped confine

because the hard bang and knock of his

emptying wood was

more honest than all the winks and nods

whispering behind my back

words

I no longer needed to use

only three ever necessary

I love you

though now you are smudged out

by burn of cinders staining toes

gone as cold as foggy morning

selecting mute I retraced my arc

pushed myself back beneath my bones

within the temple

within the woods

where the deer finally moved

from her camouflage and

sprinted light as powder

into converging dark

There you are

15094981_1170125696413806_5262358430950260450_n

about one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I lay in your bed

smelling the indent and the roll

of your dream life when I am not

trying to look through your eyes

into your soul

About one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I stood over your bed

stripping the sheets

smelling where you lived and breathed

all those nights and days

we should have been making memories

now folded away

About one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I smoothed the mattress clear

of the weight you inhabited and

little traces curled here and there

persisting to remind me

of the way the moon lit

your sleeping face

now you will always have your eyes closed

maybe now you can see

the shapes of angels

watching over you until

it is my turn and I come to find

if you have been waiting all this time

a year, a month, a day

one hour is too long

without looking into your eyes

to see what I love reflecting back

like dark diamonds capturing stars

will wink out

and there you are

The high & the low

f06565d259d01e56b4e9427f5a779fbcWhilst you in your helium balloon

parodied cause

for attention and reward

the high & the low of cruel regard

I observed your shift and nuance

they say hawks are not smart

my IQ would concur

we watch those who

flail in baskets of grandiose words

promises made by false hearts

unable to suture

truth

they are the ruin of

even those who knew

their fate would warp and turn

evergreen from copper

plunged by impatient fists

with metallurgic use

those fevered minds

hoisting mercurial delusion

as flag over reason

swim shallow at day break

tinkering in their playground

and we who are

fatigued by empty surety

hold on until the cold burns us

lapsing down into clasping water

where no echo of their vanity shall show

but a still surface of glass reflecting

would that they could pause

finally see the error

mouthing lessons

unheard by fools

with inflation and sharp need

for the clamor of diffident stranger

over the solitude

of one heart

beating in

deep freeze