Je suis désolé de n’avoir pas été comme tu

For

what seemed like forever

and was perhaps

some lost sand

sifting through light

slower when observed

turning like eager sun dial

face capturing shape and shadow

as the moon faced women

blue in Picasso’s rough brush

your edges sleek impossibly

by Masters deft curve, mimicking

nature readily, surely as time will

erode the fullness of our cheeks

your high bones hold you up

that half smile imperceptable

through memory shaking her

coat free of rain drops

as we drift further into long night.

I recall being good at Tug of War

in school with my artex white shirt rolled up

the thin fabric of my skirt flapping

dangerously high, leaning in for the pull

boys on the other end heaving, purposing

(this was always about more than a rope you know)

their extraordinary need to dominate and

our quiet, tugging urgency to defy

even then I might have upset the historical balance

made you proud, if you’d been watching

the length of rope dipping into glassy water

with the weight of decades, days spent

trying to form words of consolation where none

seem worthy enough.

You have slim bones that cannot pull heavy

rope from weighted oceans and even if

your arms were strong, I wonder if you would

gather me to you, within the eye of rushing storm

our fragile satellites eclipsing, resolving

sorrow with gentle grace, unleavened bread

yet to rise

to feel your perfumed palm on my forehead

the beneficence of your gaze, or hear

your voice, its sonorous depths, call for

me and gladly, I would present myself

for any time in your light is time lived

well and good and whole.

in your absence there is only

shadow and cold

reminding me, estrangement is unnatural

when it pares two segments of the same orange

apart, with no mend, balm or eulogy

great enough to salve the hurt

building within us, mountains of

dried salt from spent regret grown

dry.

I long and shall always long

to return to you

in that hour where memory

tells me

we laughed and

in your eyes I saw

my center

verdant and blooming

with the tender cobalt nectar

reserved for what can never

be replaced.

Les terreurs d’une nuit

In the dark when you cannot see well

and squint futile

shadows take on recollection

you are, again, that child

wide-eyed and awake in night

seeing monsters configure themselves

at the foot of your bed

and maybe

climb on in.

Time is definitely female

a circle and not a line

she curves backward

like a hungry snake

devouring her tail

she dives forward

impulsively, unknowingly

as if she too

is unseeing.

Though decades pass

we speak still in the dark

in the voice of a child

surging from within us

bile, relief, sweet, salty, sticky fingers

eating the last of childhood

forbidden to those who

no longer grow upward

only inward, if they are

lucky.

I have lain in many beds

with lovers, sometimes alone

standing in, for absent friends

memory like a scar, whispers

near and far, recollection a drumbeat

solace in stillness, the cliff you walk to

without seeing its drop.

It always scared me to hear

the sounds of night dance around me

in abandonment

though more than anything I wished

to join in

their unseeing merriment

as if by releasing my fear I could

inhabit a deeper rest.

It can kill

Almost sun up

the tinder box within my chest

is scratched free of ignition

I have nothing left to light

against encroaching darkness

for so long, it was only you

who kept me burning, fed the diminished

flame within

now, cold weather comes hunchbacked

like a visiting relation who has

no regard,

streets are emptied, as ducklings for feasting are

short-lived in their joy, for we live in a climate

spoilt with her bounty

the people proclaim Winter their enemy

hiding inside, till blessed sun returns

to bake streets into their usual direct lines.

I have always loved the cold

for it is somber, serious, it does not apologize

for not laughing or smiling toothily for a photo

the cold is an adult, a survivor

and my warmth is now swept out

into the street to nourish next years

growth.

You have left me ransacked, weighed with grief

or rather, I permitted it

with my need to divest you with

my self keeping

it was you see, a way to continue

waking up in the morning

brushing hair, scrubbing feet

clean of their midnight chase into darkness

where if I stayed long enough

I might find no way out.

I used instead, the succor of your regard

for me, a diminished thing in a shiny coat

of false expectation, as hibiscus bloom

just before frost, as if daring it to

kill

knowing, one day, the flint

would no longer strike alight

the flame no more catch

and we’d be without fire, without warmth

without familiarity or loyalty.

As those who feel and then feel nothing

ransacked void with wilted affection

the chill of their galloping regard

worse than any Winter storm

for knowing your hater is surely

a greater pain than strangers who harm

just for the merriment of it.

I know you. I see the emptiness in your eyes

these years have rinsed out slowly like a series

of rogued pinches and double-exposures

I understand, too well, just as

I see my own senseless defeat

lain on unflinching wet ground, not moving

for the cold has washed over and she is

frozen in her private grimace.

Some of us can carry on

without the light of another

I have long existed without harmony

safety, even sanity, but I cannot lose, no

I cannot bear to, the surround of you.

If it comes then, you will find me

a memory in a long story, a footnote to something

larger than us all, lost in yellowed paper and indistinct

photos of past, growing longer with each yawn

and outside of us, that tree will still stand

in 200 years, we will have children born and

die here on this land, where the dead are

forgotten to we who roamed once, through the ravages of

time and her pitiless relinquishment of mercy.

It is the way, of mortality, even love may be mortal

in how she closes up sacrosanct and inviolable like a flower

denied light

refusing to bloom again. You say

nothing because your mouth is

filled with ashen excuses, and moving on and

what you’ll do next; it is a tempest, a fever

beneath your skin, lending you the fugue-state to

live again, for you are from your mercurial ancestors

a kind of people who always find ways to

endure, as if doing so, will make you more

memorable.

I then, I am not like you, nor ever have

possessed, the penchant for survival you tout, it doesn’t

matter much, we are all going to be

soot and lost words before long

the race, the belief we matter, is just

grime on our sleeves as we pass

through. I have seen a world

without me, as I have witnessed a life without

you, they are all echoes of each other

betraying the faith I had never quite built

knowing you would leave

observing in your eyes before you were aware

the emptiness of regard, how softly we skim

life’s abundant surface, like we hardly land

at all. At times it does not feel like it can

be real, this ache, this movement toward

self-destruction, surely this is not how it ends

and yet, years become decades and still

we find ourselves, curled into a ball, waiting

out the cold, a frigid breeze coming in

beneath the door, reminding us, no matter

how much we may like the Winter

it can surely kill.

Two opposite ends of the same breakage

I a child

asked her, an adult

what does it take? To be merciful?

How much effort? Will it hurt much? Why

doesn’t the whole world

try?

And she, an adult

fiddling with her rings, two on each finger,

because she had run out of places

to exhibit her finery, her sophistication,

she, thought of where she would go

when she left our run-down, poky house

and did not return for supper

and what she would do

when she wasn’t weighed down

with runny nosed children and yellowed aprons.

She, who has the mind of three bright men

and a heart that did not really hold space

for people who could not spell, or those who were

slow, ones who did not impress, their light not bright

but stuck in amber, she said naught,

for she liked fine things

over much

and that did not include

wellington boots and children’s well played with toys

dragged through muddy pathway, leading to small houses

where there is life, oh laughing, gainful life, but raw with

the knuckles of everyday, up to their elbows in greese

and the machinations of surviving.

I, a child

asked her, an adult

what does it take? To be merciful?

watching the baby bird, turn to bone and feather

beneath the great conker tree, its crimson roots

like great yawns beneath moss, reaching through

heavy clouds with the hands of imploring worship

and life

so harsh and unwilling, to include ‘fairness’

would steal away humanities belief in kind deeds with its

brutal parsing

which is why , my grandmother, sitting on our stoop, paring apples,

with a sharp knife inherited from her father

told me once

(and she could never spell, for she left

school early to work in poorly paid factories

only once managing to get through

The Communist Manifesto).

Child, we must be good, we must be kind.

For nothing else knows how to be, they simply

act upon their instinct to survive. Like

the lambing season, when a new lamb is

born and the mother dies, we turn our eyes

heavenward but there is no tenderness, only

the brutal knot of nature, felling her herd

till balance is restored. Our human hearts

with our aching over suffering, fit poorly

with the callous hand of nature, she must

cull with her sythe irrespective of who deservse,

there is no mercy as we know it, in this

whittling of life. Only those who survive

and those who do not, dying in bleached

bones by the thoroughfare of our journey.

I thought then of you, with your

fine clothes and your well trained mind

and empty rooms filled with piano playing ghosts

how you were

much like the nature I saw around me

beautiful, wild, out for your own gain,

surviving at any cost

and I

the strange flux of humanity and terror

seeking to be merciful

among the debris of our eternal battle

with light and dark.

I knew then, why you despised me

why I loved you

it is like the fable of the scorpion and the frog

it is your nature

to sink deep into the foaming earth

showing only your glacial tip

as it is mine

to seek mercy, in unyielding hearts,

two opposite ends of the same breakage.

If we always run from being stung, in Summertime

sometimes we miss out on dawn

thus we must permit

the risk to gain, a possible reward

high in silvering trees

where the sleepy bears

hide their honey.

Immutabilité – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

In the afterlife There is always something to do pick up the leaning umbrella before it hits the window, leaving a tell tale smudge clutter. Le désordre le bruit, le fatras, a manic for the mind seeking calm in Upton’s Jungle where only heat bakes rocks inedible cushions flattened by visitations, last nights vestige reminds […]

Immutabilité – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

Letter to a dead friend at 5am

Natalie my friend.

Because you are you know. A real friend.

Though you lie beneath your roses now and I

feel as if I lie beneath them, with you.

For I am not as alive, once, twice, three times

as you ever were

you, who were beloved in life, you, who passed too soon, too well

into the light, beyond to your garden

where those who loved you and there were many

sat cross-legged waiting for you to tell a story

make us laugh, make us smile, radiate with your old world charm

for you were one of the last ones, the best generation

reminding me of my grandmother, those fine ladies of yester year

who did not have our mistakes and our errors, the Booming Boomers, befuddled Gen X kids, lost Millennial’s who

never quite learned, how to wake up early and brush their hair, until

it gleamed.

I keep your photo, I retain your last message to me, I have a quote on my

desk you wrote

and mindful always, you told me; Listen, don’t give a shit

don’t!

People will hate you, especially if you are good

it’s the way of the world, you told me, smell the roses, don’t give a damn

and don’t forget to swear copiously …

I have forgotten many things, my rule book is sabotaged, I keep making

the same mistakes, *stop it!* (say nothing, it’s safer!) I blunder as if I were a child sometimes, unsure

of the etiquette, not able to read minds and plunge my hands into

the mass of wriggling thought, to harness something tangible

I never understood humans ever so well (why are they so cold?)

their mascinations, their secret selves, it were as if being

an only-child I watched from the outside with bemusement

(or horror) (or incomprehension) why do they survive without needing

something? Someone? More than ego? Self-satisfaction? What

urges them to action? If not something meaningful?

One minute they would be saying, they loved me and the next

turning a cold shoulder, the variations, the deceptions, the quiet

subtext I did not relate to, what ever did they mean when

they went silent and I dropped like a dying star (autism is

more honest than what we deem normal, i’m certain)

out of their orbit? How to tell? What to care about? (I am

afraid of not mattering to anyone, and everything I do being futile, I don’t

want to go my entire life as lonely as now, with that hollow

fear inside my mouth, unable to come out, lodged deep

like a burrowing moth will press itself like unbidden velvet).

Natalie – – you said; Child, don’t care so much

for nobody cares as much as they say they do

unless God is watching and even then, they would be loved

without putting forth effort, they would have worship without

knowing the feel of ground skinned beneath their knees

few will truly care, this idea you will have a devotional

following, is only for the wicked and the vain, if you are lucky

I mean — really lucky

you may have friends you can count on one hand

who truly, when the chips are down, and before dawn has come

will turn to you and rise you up

from sickness, in health, in death, who will come and pay their respects?

I recall your funeral, how we passed down the long line

many were your contemporaries, women you said used to

criticize you for swearing overly, even accused you of making it up

about your mother, (surely her life wasn’t that hard!) but that’s why I love you, you said

for you believed me straight away and with the innocence

of children we came together, I had my first seventy year old friend

staying long at the coffin, flowers on top, clouds filled with rain as

if God were waiting until we passed, to let loose his tears

I didn’t believe in God, as you did, I did believe in you and you

were faithful and hypocritical like the best of us

a flawed, imperfect, relic of a human being with

magnificent hair and a dirty laugh.

I should have come visit more often, I said,

as we all say when someone meets their grave and the

smell of dirt is in our nostrils, time being as it is, so fickle

and short, and we, who are still young, think we are far

from this hour, not so far, not so far.

You told me, listen, forget what you’ve learned about

piety and mortality, people are beasts, the world is cruel

but if you can find someone who loves you, then hold on

for dear life, and do your best to help them through

for there is nothing sadder than loneliness in a room

full of people and there is nothing better than one hand

reaching for you in a crowd

pulling you out

into fresh air, where if we were the same age

I suspect I would have stood up to those who bullied you in

your thirties and told your mother to go hang when she

said she found you a disappointment

I know how that feels Natalie, we shared the same stories

forty years apart, when you were born I was not

still feel I am not, I miss you because

you were a riddle in a lesson in a riddle in a lesson and I

don’t meet people like you very often, nor have I in a long while

stood in your garden and smelt the roses, they bloom just

before the light you said, just before it begins to dawn and

that is when I would most like to close my eyes for the last time

and sleep forever.

On that day you died, I watched out of my window

for surely there would be a sign, something of you

gathering into the ether, if I took my glasses off and squinted

maybe I could see in the unyielding darkness a little of what

you spoke about, that stirring of Gods and tempests and

humans lost on their own gloat, people who exist without

giving a damn about, each other, or the basics of care, I never

understood, even if I were well versed as you, on parents who

didn’t really want (me) (us) (you) (I) (anything).

Last night I dreamed of going braless to the store and seeing

an old lover who stared at my chest the entire time, I dreamed

of boarding a plane with nobody on it, except waving oxygen masks

I dreamed of you and I dreamed of my mother

in the dream of you, you were walking through the rose

bushes and in time you were out of sight, and music I liked was

playing through an open window and I saw you take flight

and soon you were high in the sky and my eyes could no

longer follow your trajectory and I thought – – maybe I should

let go, but I don’t want to, I never have wanted to, I can’t

it isn’t in me to let go – – – (God I wish it were!) and the dream was about my mother

and she had always been gone and wasn’t there and

I was (holding her hair brush)

and I was (stepping into a lake)

and I was (still)

left behind to take these memories of people and sustain them

as if a bomb had obliterated everything but my recollection

be it real or wrong or scattered like pollen, I don’t know

I don’t know what to do Natalie, to be loved? Be glad of shrugging

them all and living in a cabin in the woods? Or to matter, to

be of consequence, like I felt with you. Was it because you were

old or just kind or just hurt or just battered by your own mother who

you said told you she had wished she had

a boy and not a girl and not you and not you and not you.

Why do the good ones die? Why will one day I watch them

throw flowers for my mother and long then, to have had her

tightly woven around me like clay

but untouchable is untouchable and yearning is for children

(she won’t have a funeral anyway, she doesn’t believe in God

either, and she won’t invite you, no she won’t invite you least of

all to a wake without a wake).

So grow up and put your shoes on child, your feet will get muddy if

you continue to walk bare foot when it rains and the thorns

will always sting even if you are pricked countless times

there is a sharp edge to beauty you said, did you know, I was once beautiful?

I know I replied, I can tell, you still are, because a woman with

wrinkles like ships on her cheeks can smile just once and

a room is devoured by her radiance

if others can’t see that, it’s all right

I think of you now, and then and in the future

alongside my day as I work beneath the fan, it is still hot

in September, yes you said, it always was in bloody infernal Texas.

People remain alive in our memories or they are forgotten

as I am, before they die

it’s all about how much they exist and what magical

recipe keeps them real and how much glue they possess

and whether they hold on, out of sheer bloody mindedness

or just for the hell of it

or perhaps they swear a lot and eat three over-easy eggs for breakfast

when the sun rises and the day is golden

and we begin over

like fools

like humans

like lovers of people who are warm and good

Natalie, like you.

Heed

I resent

No, I am angry

It is my regret that

You steal my thoughts

every day

even as you do not really

exist

damn

you.

Is it my wield to wake and smell the coming

of Autumn, her combed wild intruding on Summer’s

last heady retreat

and with her, all the memories of us

tumbling like leaves of every color.

You are a shade of me I cannot forget, nor

am I able to extricate your taste from my soul

as if you were the darkest liquor and I, the thirsting

sinner.

We do not know one another, yet in this russet world

where people step out with reddened cheeks and think of

night as a place to venture deep and become lost in

the reflecting faces of glasses brought together

I recognize in you, someone I need.

It is foolish then, that you will never know this,

as time reveals a betrayal, thick in coming like smoke

from a burned pyre

I see you there, in the crowd of onlookers, your

shoulders thin in a cardigan, eyes dark against

flames, a smile on your face as if

without my saying you knew

it was my heart that burned with longing

and your hands

putting out the fire

with the coldness

of disregard.

You steal my thoughts every day

as if, possessed of confidence that all should

fall at your knees, you hold the world and its

caprices in your little flowering hand

sometimes I want to ask; How did you become

so fat on yourself? Who gave you that belief

you were worthy? And bitterness might add;

I am better than this, better than you,

not someone used to, or wanting to remain

subject. Inhaling your sugar pill …

Instead I say nothing and spells

boil off like alcohol leaving nothing but

clear water, I plunge into and try to

forget the nagging impulse to find ways of altering

your hooded intractability.

I live in the crossword puzzle of your

eyes, the bewitchment of your fruiting mouth

as you open your lips and speak, drowned

out by time and distance

I think nevertheless

I hear.

You steal my thoughts

every day

I once wore self-belief like a rosary

around my wrists and counted every

subject. You took on the role as if

those clothes had been yours all

along and I had been carved from

the wood of your ancestors tree

some type of mango tree or

something as bright and hungering

as your skin when sunlight bathes

your full cheeks and I forget how

to swallow. Our fates are written

in secret alcoves we may never find

the chapter, until it is upon us and

falling in line, we play out our part

in this incantation you master me

because you feel nothing and no

words I possess will fill that

empty place and fetch from it

an urge to dive with me

into the wet of my angry tears

perhaps this is karma

it could however,

be just, a passing cruelty

like so many other things

forgotten by those, who do not stop

long enough, to

pay heed.

Stand in radiance

I think of you as I might

the collected soil outline of a beloved plant, died in Wintered frost

slow the creep toward perish, I hold back, I do not want to enter that room

with its antiseptic smell, lolling tongues of linoleum stretching like vast desert

here nothing thrives

not you, in your beige iron bed with metallic purr of machines overhead

nor the sucking out of sight sound of life being apportioned and gentle knock and brush of clutter off stage

I have learned to manage my desires, like labeled things put away and forgotten

they seem inconsequential in the gravity of this moment, elongated into a maw, disabusing itself in perpetuate howl

the green eyed girl who sat astride you devouring your skin with the hunger of the famished, is just a filament of memory, drowsy with being taken out and examined many times

what is real feels false, we fall apart with rules, we are well behaved in chaos

as rain falls, drowning response, we are free briefly, to call for Gods who are sleeping against their fatigue of us

I look down at my fingers entwined in memory, carving the halls of you with journeys taken to your very core

wish I could write like a girl who didn’t need to rinse her eyes of salt and her mouth of violence

there are no mirages in this sterile land, only the abundant hygiene of fear, roasting itself on impotence

here even you, are forgotten to yourself. I wonder if you recall how we were or if

this eclipsed reality, so suffocating and tightly arranged, is your only memory

occasionally I want to do something vulgar and wrong, to break the dreadful count-down

call an old lover, meet them in the broom closet for some rearranging of clothes, we don’t know how to handle things, so we explode quietly inside ourselves

just to feel I am not plummeting alongside you

faithless for sure, my brand of lusting for life and wellness, anything but encroaching perishment, we fear dying even as we seek it

apparently I am not alone in this

strangers will swap bodily fluids in desperate snatching, on top of folded doctors overalls. That strange, nameless brand of green we all loathe

I was a false girl before we met, learning to reign in her impulses against a backdrop of damage
thriving under the rental of youth with no care for those far-off dates waiting in distant wings

life was already its own brand of unbearable, it felt yet, too searing to imagine decrepitude or bad luck

instead, thrive on the daydream, liquor up the inside of your nightmares and send them galloping and sweaty into the abyss

rest in the drowsy arms of indifference, for everyone wants something and nothing is as it seems

stop caring

until blinded or crippled, you crawl to your date with the inevitable

hearing your ancestors crow their dissatisfaction at your cliched rejection of fate

compassion doesn’t cost, but as I stare at the vacancy in your eyes I know

i’d say yes to the proffered ease of escape

yes to anonymous lovers and things to someday regret

but not now whilst we stand under the radiance

when life still reigns and I know how to squeeze from it, that ounce of pleasure

not hedonist but survivor. Some survive in the calm shallows

I want to wade waist deep in warm water, feel your touch bringing me back to life

not forget what it was to circle the varied heavens and their demands

nor the feeling of my heart in my throat, birthing color and chaos in equal order

I imagine you as you were, impossibly alive, bright in ways that hurt my eyes

our dance around the mandala of us, ever decreasing, unawares of our own diminishment

your last words lingering in pre-storm humid air, like fruit left a little long in sun

sticky and soft we meld together and break apart with the astringent sting of broken clay

turning again to earth, as if it had never, not once, not even in dream

held water.

We weep with everything but tears

photo of woman wearing nude one piece swimsuit
Photo by Jo Kassis on Pexels.com

Go in good faith

down that charred road

where holy mist

cusps day in feathered glove

the porcelain eyes of hills pay obedience to mauve cloud

trees taller than sound break through

smudges of dream wave in memoriam,  shuttering day

and O

je ne sais pas aimer sans toi. Je ne sais pas comment me passer de toi.

We speak in furled tongues our inner most thoughts

leaving confessionals on mossy rocks and the lay of light rain

full with sleep, the direction lost in tug of war with blackening ice

they slip beneath against hush of snow

covering our tracks with blanched fingers of ice.

We weep with everything but tears.

 

The true price of things

underwater photography of woman
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

The pool reflects deep with shallows, an opaque pearl

she has always been beautiful, even now, even then,

she dives without concern, because, what else can happen?

When people die, that’s how you feel, invulnerable in the face

of dreads previously unimagined

and also, terribly, terribly aware of pain.

Some hide the rest of their lives, others drive fast cars at night

not wearing their glasses

she is one of those who stands somewhere in-between

the grief of injury lies heavy on her dark shoulders

still, she plunges into water, imagining other realities

one where she never knew horror and horror never knew her

where babies were born perfect and whole

husbands did not get crushed in half and

soured settlements buys them luxury

they’d trade it all in, to have him whole

less angry, more able to be, swimming underwater with her.

not lost, broken even after healing, crushed despite being repaired

holding the welt of injury in his throat like a choking bird.

She has moved on from who she was

ten years ago in Africa

under the sun, hiding from herself, hiding from kaleidoscopic future

it has come, blooming wild and spreading its green fingers

into her oval mouth

she has no time for passion anymore

she has no patience for imagination

she can only swim

cutting through the reluctant weight of water

like a blunt knife will eventually carve

the true price of things.

 

for Em.