The next generation

This isn’t a pity poem

who the hell wants to read one of those?

but if I’m honest

which I’m not very often

preferring to put on a mask and sit mutely smiling on the outside

it’s sometimes harder to pretend and say nothing

than let it out

if I did let it out

what would IT look like?

am I really so bad for having an urge to share?

the empty feeling inside

surely that’s how we hope to fill ourselves

with something other than hot air or quiet despair?

one thing worse than peripheral is rejection, so usually

we stay quiet about how we really feel incase it’s true

nobody really gives a damn once you’re grown

how I got to this juncture is the easy part

a girl is born, her gender is already

a strike against her in a world easier on men

we don’t treat girls very well

maybe there should also be a rule against small families having smaller families

call it what you like, I call it diminishment

I was diminishing before I was born

when there’s nowhere to go, you usually strive to go up

but I was bad at direction, turned into a box turtle and hid in my shell

hoping someone would pry me out

that was my second mistake

generally it’s worth noting, people do little for free

if I could tell myself that I’d have said; Don’t rely on anything but you

you end up staying inside too long by yourself

before you know it, even the language you speak

taints your chances to pretend to be normal

I look

at photographs of other people

they are surrounded by people, fitting in like

well crafted pieces of puzzles I do not fit

I was the kid sent off to eat with other families, never my own

it felt like a kick in the shins then, and everytime since

feeling ackward in a crowd

because I didn’t learn how

to belong

so this isn’t a pity poem

i’m not chafing with self imposed isolation

not the girl who smiles when she’s crying, or maybe I am

or the one who feels more alone when amongst a crowd

everything is so quiet when that’s how you’re born

it takes a fortitude I don’t possess to break the cycle

erase the twenty years forming a tongue without social skill

I hear the sounds of a party rising over the walls

a party I could be at though, I know

i’d be pressed against the wall without a way out

though all I’ve ever wanted is to learn a way in

i whisper

i am irrelevant in this scenario

self worth is tied to others even as we know it comes from ourselves

i didn’t generate any faith

so I don’t believe in God or me

but I do believe in you

if this was a pity poem I’d ask

why you didn’t help me learn how to live?

though I know the answer already

you couldn’t do it yourself, what chance for me?

we’re cut from the same cloth, you and I

that’s why we both hide

like the man in the high tower

did he ever feel as lonely as I do?

why didn’t he need

the things I cannot seem to reach

it’s like I am stretching out for them

but the betrayal of beginnings and everything after and before, is too deep

we betray ourselves most of all

in trying to be what we just aren’t able to

a teacher once told me you can be anything at all

that’s a lie I know it

we each have chances and some of us have fewer props

so we stand ackwardly by the side

trying to be someone we’re not

until the inauthenticty feels like a curse

we revert to type even as we dislike who we are

this was set in motion before we knew

we’re just the next generation of lost

not self pity, no, more like a pain

a mere poem cannot do justice

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Aren’t you?

When

The thick trunk of families, surges upward and onward

And the line thins out of impatient elbows

You stand as you always have

Alone

More conscious of their abundant overflow

At an airport without a ticket, watching throngs of souls

Connected and coming together, like migration encourages the swell and surge of birds riding warm air

Somehow knowing, they are part of a greater collective

And you stand there, in your well worn shoes

And your empty pockets ache, for someone to turn and say

Aren’t you with us?

Nearing fire

Ophelia_by_EarthDefectShe was not a hunter

She did not compete

There were no hands on the tinder clocks, rebinding feats.

When it rained, she stayed dry

Her hearth and rug, small morsels of comfort clutched

For not venturing out, salved potential for harm.

She grew up on the black hard bread of fear

Of the river breaking its banks and drowning

Those she loved

It was an inherited sense of loss

Passed down through heavy curtains, generations of individuals, feeling cast off

All the instability of fine china, balancing, teetering, turning to shattered lotuses.

She saw what happened when they lied and said she was safe

She could feel the pink welts, smell the violation, as it poured down the road, a torrent of what humanity can do

To a child.

She grew scars as self armor

Moved further to the fireplace to touch the source of its continual scald

When it stormed outside she didn’t join the rushing tide

The pinches, taunts, jostling, glut on perpetual war

Plasma and soldiers, drunk on devouring dear goodness

She stayed listening to the sound of the rasping wind

Beating on the old oak door

As if everything possible came together and fought

To get inside.

She stayed set apart from her given trajectory, a kite who cut her wings

Turning to liquid and back into wax, only to melt, nearing fire

They say fear is an echo, set the trap, watch it snap back

Until, submerged there’s no end, but the point you began, to let it rule.

She watched fear remove, her skin, her sight, and blind with fright, she consumed her own shadow

Till it was the only place to return, and burning into reduction she saw the reflection of someone with nothing to lose.

Expunging soot from her stained lungs, she let herself pass through the cloak of heat, demolishing every trace

Rising from emptiness, becoming ash in air and last dancer of ember, she saw

Hands spin trees into forests, reclaiming what was lost, in hungering inferno.

A girl who closed the door and checked beneath the bed, was gone

In her place the outline of a cowering form, afraid, yet, stepping from

The thin ledge we believe protects us from imagined harm

When all along we torment ourselves with far greater, considered terrors

Better that we face head on, destroy facade, turn to rubble and rebuild

Our resolution for survival, as we will always near, fire.

Social

I do not have one photograph of me in a crowd

since I was 15

dispersal it seems

happens when clams

decide they do not want to be eaten

lying upside down in shell

rocking slightly to the swell

of another’s hunger

nor does the sour effervessence of champagne

dull the gritty pearl’s fate

when she is presented raw and quivering

longing for the sea and the weight of water

upon her shell

perhaps that is why shell fish was outlawed

in the Tulmud

we sit in our red tents

beyond the barnacled city walls

wondering at such things

and though we stand alone in photographs

it feels much like we are in a crowd

for the boyance of honesty is best of all

perhaps like pearls comprised of rubbed elements

swirling into circles

the truth has a way of

brining us back to shore

 

Children with no reflection

girl-fishingMy feet were always too big for vintage shoes

granny said

girl you’re outgrowing your ancestors

measured my 1980’s girth with pokered face

disgracing corselet historians with modern gait

I never was the black-eyed-girl of my father’s heart

his own ungainly DNA bore him a chip off the old block

who knew his self-loathing would rub free like lint

on the broad shoulders of imperfect kin

you’ve no delicacy in your frame girl

your hands are too wide for these kid gloves

you cannot fit into the stays and confines of the past

where did you come from? changeling?

half and half in one world and the next

part girl part boy part aberration an inverse

it was easier to steal a pair of dungarees

climb the old knobbly willow tree

dropping apple pips in indigo pond

a disappointing girl with one eye patched lest it wander

I saw my delicate mother and her child’s form

rush like a dancer into applauding future

gone from those who would love her best

she left a horse hair brush that smelt of her skin

and I did not know what to be

standing there with my unliked shell of pallor

a mockery of fallen relations between two lovers

retreating to the verge of attention their child

I waited until nobody expected me home

muddied, stained and bramble scratched

children with no reflection

if you asked me then whom I loved the most

I would have pointed to the owl

grand in his luminous white feathers

for he saw the little girl’s disappointment

and together they sang

low into night

to beckon timorous vole

closer

For I feel

080-francoise-dorleac-theredlistTremulous ghosts must stand in patent shoes around me

for I feel their hands on my shoulders tugging at my seams

I who do not cry

weep openly with sorrow

imagining is often harder than

bearing reality

I think of when he will not stand discontented

staring out at flocking birds

I think of the time I found a starling chick

lying cold on the ground

wondering at the bitter sky

why didn’t you give them a chance?

why did you let me stay instead?

discontent

the child who knew the flavor of strawberry milkshakes

was an artifice

lies from adults, how many more?

behind closed doors and screens

I met a poet an old lady who

wrote like she was on fire

when she didn’t write for a time

I knew she had died

again I railed

why take her? why not me?

I stand disillusioned and empty

she who played castanets and sang

she who had wind-chimes and wrinkles in

her vowels

she had so far to go

I do not

I am here at the fulcrum

waiting my turn at the scythe

it strikes me living doesn’t suit

those who feel everything

like a pretty shoe

isn’t practical for walking

you can admire its form

but it will not hold you up

I ache in ways I cannot give a color

or adverb

it is a disturbance of the soul

the card reader told

you have a dark shadow on your back

she has her hands around your throat

until she dies you will wish for your own death

or you could start drinking again

that might work

sitting at the kitchen table at night

rinsing grief from my palms

strange dark sounds comforting crushing hurt

I examine the bones of my face

they feel as if they should have come unglued

reformed into a mask of ache

outside neighbors children are awake

eager for day to start

a lone dog barks at the moon

because it disturbs the pattern of his knowing

it has been long since I dreamed

when I dream I have hope

hope which is always the most painful place to go

when returning to zero you see the futility

of setting sail just as storms are predicted

you were a hurricane I let whip me up

lent me hope

now I am a milkshake that does not

resemble real strawberries

I am sweet enough for take-out

but nobody knows the sadness behind

a glass that looks full and is not

just residue remains

sticking to the sides

I am holding on

trying not to cry

at the nature of things

some known

some found afterward in epitaph

my grandmother’s hand was

blotchy and purple

still I looked away believing her well

you see

I want to believe in fairy-tales

and ever after

but I confess

it is hard when we are surrounded

by lies in

illuminated

jars