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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Full circle

Princess

My neighbors and I played down by the two deep ponds, circled by hedges

warnings unheeded, crashing through nettles into leach infested waters

our Gallic faces screaming in delight at frog spawn and plump lily pads

one sister, a redhead with gap-tooth grin, the other darker, like late season honey

who knew then? Among the crags of the Pyrénées-Orientales, with their Catalan tongues

we’d split and divide like wheat, losing touch, floundering each, to find our way

as kids, our favorite game was building tepees, wearing feathered headdresses

many years later, sitting in a park in Ontario, I met an Ojibwe mistreated by the state

we sat beneath banners and he told me his Algonquian speaking father was full blood

how his people killed their Inuit neighbors and lost their totem in broken alliances

from this he said, they learned, honesty is the only worth a man possesses

his mother was a French migrant, from Perpignan, on the Spanish border

the very same town I first learned to dance, to make it rain, or so I pretended

I wondered, if somehow fate had flung herself in strange arrowed pathways

all leading back to tepees and kind men, who felt mercy without recompense

since I left and became an immigrant, the gentlest souls I have met, carried

Native American blood in their full cheeks and mercy in their hearts

reminding me of daubing my own face with white stripes and how

we never had cowboys or guns in our games, just long striped feathers

and the goodness of children.

 

(For B, Mark, Jean, Crystal, Lane & Jack, who carry the blood and make it count).

 

Walked with angels

You are the wonder of the world
a red man come from desert

you saved this girl from drowning in sand

pricked her lips with cacti juice

told her of the stars in your mouth

collapsing mountains

summoning sleeping giants to lie beneath us.

With cicadas, you wove me a blanket of safety

though you had nothing

you gave me all.

From the empty handed

comes the greatest gift

unfolding like paper water lillies

leaving stigmatas in my palm

the shape of echoing stars.

Never apologize 

Dearest

for being poor or empty handed

when your feathers are full and sunset lifts you high

the circumference of your heart

longer than a sincere word

taught me humility

and how to know 

the tenderness of kindness comes often 

from those who receive no thanks

for they are not rich

nor need those things to sustain their souls

walking with angels.

You are a man of your ancestors

truth in the words

as the bell chimed, you took me to be yours

pouring salvation into candles 

lighting my way to freedom.

So many years I had been caught by the neck

twisting in the wind unable to escape

the trap of circumstance

and in one pull 

you gathered me close and saved me

a hunter turned tender 

for the fluttering of his people

bestowing goodness like late harvest.

From the empty handed

comes the greatest gift

before we reach heaven

we may have still

walked with angels.

The best of tales

I fell hard, such is the consequence of a colorful lure

Flickering in shallow water lit by hope

the world was messy, like a thirsty rag soaked with blood

still not gaining sustainence

sickness an albatross, urging me to frail edge

I had yet to learn that words can possess no value

be simply pretty things, we are misled by like Xmas baubles, turned over to reflect pattern

how can a writer realize, words can be emptier than a hollow tree?

people who write them, do so with convincing candor all enveloping like hard sales pitch

it’s impossible to believe they’re just words, without meaning, or worse, deliberate opposite

of truth, that sparten ideal, sucking ice for nourishment

when the wet ass hour comes, and it always comes

those who stay, are not those who wrote long entreaty

not the flatterers, cake-bakers, trumpet players

they are usually the last you’d believe, quiet, unobtrusive leaves coloring your floor

when your loud friends have quit you, it is they who step up and inquire

are you okay? Do you need help?

I learned this directly, as if fed by a poisoned spoon 

the ache of losing louder voices and reward of quiet ones, whom you didn’t believe cared

because you listened for the caucophany and wordsmiths who

know their trade as story tellers, so very, well

and I, who also wrote stories, fell hook, line and sinker

for the best of tales

the one where it’s all about them, and if you fall short you’re out

why it took so long to see, the value of things as they stand

plain in the rain, but firm of foot

is down to the fanciful nature I had

before damp veil was torn off and sickness

cast her long net and kept you underwater without purchase

in that drowning you learned, the only lesson worthy of a mortal

it will not be those who come, bearing gifts, cherry lipped

it will not be those who say; you are wonderful, adorable

it will be the person who seems aloof and speaks volumes

because sometimes a story teller is just that

a teller of stories without depth, milking our need 

they do not stay when you reach out, just the length of the tale

long or short, it always comes to an end and then

they go on to the next book and you are left

dangling with pretty words, tied in useless bouquet

now I don’t know what to call myself

“recovering” of some sort of fairytale lure

and in that recovery I find the simple joy 

of people without tall stories
 

This is to thank so much all those magical folk I did not know would step up and to acknowledge those who spoke loudest and did the least by way of mercy. Each to your own I learned and I grew.

 

Radiance

Do not become bitter

When friend you thought is none

When calamity strikes her skin drum

And those you relied upon do not come

The world

Is a magical place of nonsense

What you know is often undone

By the whim of mercury and emotion

Little stays as you may have assumed

But in the hour of your isolation

Witness miracles

From the trees they unfurl

Familiar in compassion

A true heart rarely demonstrative

A kindness never published

Those with mercy on their tongue

Seek no recompense

Silently they stand at your side

Holding you when others did not show

Too busy in flamboyance

For the meak shall inherit trust

It is they who need make no false promise

Sincerity is not shouted from rooftop

Actions are louder than fancy words

Seek not the grandiose, who say they love

Take instead the slowness of certainty

You know when you fall 

By the tenderness of unexpected visitor

By gentle compassion and

The companion who you never knew you could

Rely upon 

Such is the mystery of things born in hard times

And the redemption of hope

Blooming

Blocking out disappointment with her

Soft and steady radiance

This poem is for those who selflessly were there in a supportive letter or word during the hardest part of my life. Please know it was you who got me through and my gratitude cannot be expressed enough but to say your kindness was everything to me. Thank you so very much. I have learned that true goodness comes often from the least expected corners just as those who pretend to care are often just hot air. 

Felix (part of the memory series)

0f43a8692e2f903f820b1a40a7add30cHelix boy

green was the color of your insight

you thought you could trust the girl who stood by your side

before your fame

and you were right

my back made a good drawing board and I knew the rules to

Dungeons & Dragons

when you called leaning out of your window in Earls Court

watching the washateria fold n’ smooth in your Judge Dread shirt

you’d ask me questions you didn’t let others hear

why are we here? what’s it all about?

we were philosophers in children’s suits

fame struck you as an unnatural quill

you learned and you unlearned playing base

with the rigidity of adults rules

some days you fit in like a diamond in the rough

Jewish boy with a blonde quiff and James Dean turn-ups

other times it felt all wrong that’s when you’d call

tell me ordinary things so I can come back down to earth you’d ask…

let’s listen to telegraph wires buzzing in the night

the B side of that Springsteen LP where he

refers to love and madness, escaping down a dark road with chains

terraced and quiet in our honeycomb middle

breathing the air of normalcy and my dad’s bad cooking

switching the globe of the world on to illuminate dark

in our Batman PJ’s a joint under the pillow

what you didn’t know what I never told

you held me up when I was drowning

it was the tender of your soul that you recognized

pain and didn’t shy away

even in the show-biz world of false and fakery

they may say oh he’s just a player who has no scruples

different woman every week, he’s just like the rest

I could dispute that if we bothered to believe idle talk

I saw your heart

beat

one night

when I told you I couldn’t go on

and you said

yes

yes you can

I’ll show you how

and we planned our revenge

in pretend knots until the sun rose

and school began

vanquishing dreams of

escape and super heroes

To my mother

o-mother-daughter-relationship-facebookIf I had been your mother and you my daughter

we would have learned to walk both straight and crooked

together stronger for leaning upon one another

in this motion, undoing that well rehearsed need

common among our ilk

to walk alone

learning this when those who should protect

absented or let down, spilling trust

repeating patterns before we knew how to protest

formed inside faulty mold

given no improvement or nourishment for fledgling soul

we split apart like neglected corn

ears green and burned by indifferent sun

we sought the succor of dangerous people

familiar with their welt

hid the tender shoots of us within a grave

absenting gentleness

despising love’s solace

sharpening and hardening our calloused parts

we did not recognize in each other

the need overarching stubbornness

revealed at last

when day is lower in webbed sky than it ought

but better now than never at all

we break the spell we unwind the curse

If you were my daughter and I your mother

I would have given you wisdom

found in my search to banish self-immolation

growing like a vine within our generations

disappearing women from each others tenderness

enemies from birth

I would have rolled back our wounds and discovered

the beauty of love as it lies undisturbed

on the surface of a child’s face

who trusts before she learns to ache

If I had been your mother and you my child

between us, within us, all things take flight

we are the breath of our ancestors

we are the change of their losses and the gains of their folly

supporting our footsteps toward the

female divine who, smiling though hour is late

welcomes those who were lost on their way

into feeling whole, not out-of-place

beyond sharp spaces of our regret

there is time ahead where even the damaged

heart can forget her sorrow

never too late for finding each other

as long as we breathe

there is always time to make right

disturbance turned close like moon

undoing hurt in redeeming womb