Ageing

Older woman holding young maskThe grime that won’t lift from underneath fingernails

is the yellow glimmer of youth

uncaring it is messy and rigorous

when you can live unbrushed

climbing from bed to public without spending

an hour examining your face, patching scars of endurance

when did age, creep so effortlessly into expression lines?

when did light, become so certainly, a foe on certain days?

as if inhabiting mood explained itself in the creases of your skin

you may deflect, somersault and berate

after all so many years wearing your emotions within

bound to spill once the cork is sodden

those hours you thought nobody saw

burning candles between pinched fingers

rubbing sulphur on volcanos urge

how many tears and ache does it take?

to leave emotions wreckage like single moment captured in paint?

who is the photographer who knows how to unearth

our secret selves hiding in wainscoting and plaster

of the past?

I understand why women plump their gaunt hollows

filling their lips with plastic hope, to go a few more years without

showing the world their chapped inside

they seek their former selves, to feel warmth of sun

on unfreckled necks

perhaps it would not sting if love could wear age well

when you are hot faced and tear streaked

wiping in one stroke and smiling

everyone believing the dress you wear is new and unwrinkled

such is the forgiving fabric of youth

succor for the gentle hearted, sugar for the brave

now in unforgiving light you see the evidence of age

lying on your face like a lover will unwittingly expose themselves

in a flicker, in a mere blink, beauty reduced to ungainly

for what we cannot see is more intriguing than

all the dilapidated truth behind our eyes

as much as we may wish to express ourselves

not that candidly, not as if pinned by wings to cork board

spread for all to see every instant of our writhe

biographies of the years, footprints of etched grief

can’t hide the truth as you age, can’t help but reveal

if I leave now without putting on my face

combing my hair over the deepening lines

hiding behind color, clothes, artful turn of head

if I don’t literally prepare myself

like a carefully followed recipe

or posed selfie empty of truth

I will feel as if I am walking naked in public

no skin on my feelings to disguise the years

I have been trying to get well

 

tell me?

is that why contentment is much like a cake

rising beneath warm air

and disappointment a river

shallow and fast

is that why they say joy can be seen in a person’s smile?

and sadness will devour, even the best actor

looking at my fracture, I resemble every melancholy spent

like old wine will eventually revert back to sugar and sediment

settling cloudy at the bottom of a carafe

buoyed no more by light

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f64c917f731235b5604b2779ecb5e01bMy hand

resting a top yours

the same size in our shadow

you with little feet and longer ties

inheriting portions

 

I see in your eyes

the easement of life

as if you are in slow motion

falling gently behind yourself

going back in time

I think of the local cinema

being old enough to see over the railing

a film about a man plugged to a machine

all his memories flickering in retreat

until he is a fetus a heartbeat a blip

so far back he does not exist

 

is that you?

dissolving, reducing

I watch bread rise and moon’s sink

wonder at the circular motion of things

how I slept with a light on

now you remind me

not to close the door

my chest aches for what I long to give but cannot

 

it is as if you were born of me

my longing to love

I cannot make sense of why

but you were always the only one

my arms reach at night for your surround

 

I hear your voice on hungry chime of wind

all the pain blooms around me

like cancan girls frothing their scarlet hems

I remember bougainvillea climbing up the walls

can see you with your hair slicked back from the bath

steam rising in dark breeze

 

you made a circle of me and wore me around your neck

where I lay far too still listening to your heart beat

now we are divided by wire and thread

two half-made mannequins

no matter how far I stretch

I cannot reach your gaze

it stared listless at angry waves

as they build and recede

in the abyss of your memories

Find me in cinder

777bbca7e13ef8f0b821cfb0c2ee3e63Press tighter

the ribbon too loose

the welt too shallow

press tighter

block out light

kneeling in our find

discovering strange arms

do not right the wrong

of absence

you lace your shoes all the way to the top hook

standing by the gutter watching imagination speed past

grab a cab, take a train, hail a bus

erase the deep scratch

take yourself as far as you are

find me

find me in cinder

I’m sweeping up my make-believe

ashes mark the brand with loving hand

I left myself on a train somewhere

heading past the blur

trees convening into walls and thorns

thorns

shaping my need

pricked back to defeat

raise your hands in prayer

watch them fall leaden

like pennies who deny wish to the carp who

listless grows fat on his doom

once you reach the bridge’s middle you will know

the circumference of your blank page

I am here split into footsteps

wet with their hasten

I am here giving birth to your disregard

bloodied in veined marble

it was always the fault of mine own flaw

I don’t have a skin like you do

this girl rends in spinning glass

pretending she is well enough

for this loud world

we who bruise on emotion

catch the lasting arrow

so fine they go, the ones who can

shine themselves well

boarding future with jagged step

watch them marvel at themselves

for six weeks and six years and six centuries

I buried feeling in soft velvet boxes

whispering to the fox

we who are timid

cannot stand the jolt

we who are fractured

do not wear pain for long

before relinquishing fight

deep in the rosebud

where the fold has yet to

come undone

they told her she was wasting her time

trying to be normal

give it up

you speak in imperfect step

from passive to shout and back again

you do not understand your tense or your verb

you were rejected by the snotty folk

who pinch their noses as they bustle past

in formula

and alacrity

bet you know all your grammatical rules like

a foreign language whilst

I paint in saline and muzzled howl

save this last lesson

when you shout

ensure the fields are on fire

and the birds indigo sky in their fright

you will never know what it is like to be

savaged in kind

is that the sound of my neck breaking?

over the ache?

reaching one last time

growing old in perpetuity like

light staying too long in the same place

turns listless and if you listen carefully

with young ears you can

hear the rustle of her gown

bitter with the after glow of grind

I know I’m wasting everything

except this last buried purse

of everything

if I let go now

the seeds will spill

out of me

and grow taller

than I ever

even on tiptoe

could be

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

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

Superficial

16708220_10208952052418165_5456016437649641167_nSkim the stone on the surface

watch it butt against reflecting light

until falling through surface

out of sight it drops

to a darkness

or a peace

depending upon your vantage point

I for one would welcome

a life spent below, than above

listening to the mocking calls of unseasonal green parrots

filling trees with their envy

they make everything brighter it is true

yet something about the jarring

competitive nature of their plumage

strikes me as less sincere than

the drab and disliked pigeon with

old face and white circles around

his rumey blinking eyes

who can always be relied upon

to lose a toe in Winter

I think of how often I have watched

something curl to the side of a street

and wait to die

how a part of me felt helpless

inhabiting stages where stories

rent through armor and pierced

my conscience

after the third pigeon in a box

tucked beneath my office shoes

my boss told me

look, this is enough

he preferred I collected his shirts from the dry cleaner

bagfuls of shopping for his wife

my perk was

one day I could grow up to be like him

ignore dying birds in the street

driving silver BMW to my Thursday mistress

whilst another slave worked after-hours

filing life upward like blind builb

it came to me then, ungluing my eyelids

leaving behind one word

WRONG

written in magic marker on his desk

I took the cooing box I’d hidden

and the pigeon and I went home

to a cold flat with no furniture

where he proceeded to try not to die

and I watched understanding very well

the hue of his life

for I am a stone who sank before

she saw the sun and only the moon knows

the way to lift me up

The death chronicles 

Dear Death

You come wrapped in different parts I discover 

It hurts Dear Death 

Considering you over another 

For whilst fond of sleep 

There will be no more dreams

I will only cease to feel

The brittle lisp of trying to walk in keeping with all the happy souls who stave off doing your bidding

As i blunder toward the front of the line

Trying to fast forward our cessation 

A voice asks me

Why do you not appreciate life?

I could never explain 

Born with a hole in myself 

No amount of repair sewed together 

The pieces of me I needed to prosper 

Thriving is not innate

Some do not know how to face

Living

They exist in absentia

Behind walls and inside boxes

So much time can pass and you wouldn’t even know

They could be your sad faced neighbor

Cutting herself with the paring knife

Getting blood on the salad leaves

Passing it off as beetroot

She drowns herself in every bath

Swallows all the pills in the cupboard 

Gases the garage 

Throws knives at her running figure

To strike out that tumour 

Though it grows

Defeating her

Gnawing her defense to dust

Can you not understand?

The sorrow of those who 

Fall short of finding reason

Staring at high bridges

Wanting the pain to stop 

They let go