Telephonic

tim-burton-bakerRing, Ring, Ring,

Except it’s 2017 your phone is set on silent you do not own an answering machine

from the nineties, accidentally recording overheard conversations

little tape cassettes, the mechanics listening, catch you shouting

the message goes ‘don’t leave a message’ followed by alliteration

doe ray me fa la tee

people dial-in, listen, to cacophony

whose house is this? what party line? her voice can you hear

it’s someone singing in the background

taping over

you quote the silence with your abstract

lying like a fallen star on the kilim rug

the cat nudges your head he knows you are not dead

would that you could warm yourself up like leftovers

swallow whole emptiness, banish that gut of bile

back then I recorded myself, how stupid it seems now, a voice in the comforter

what did I impart? love makes us opaque, lust even more so

you used to play my voice backward and say

that sounds like Bob in Twin Peaks

Fire walk with me would look good in ink

before tattoos were mainstream, we had no money for luxury

our pockets calcified and taut turned inside out like jagged tongues

of want and want not

in the smothering green light of your bedroom

I hid the places I didn’t want you to go

pre-wax, pre-tan, prematurely ejaculate

don’t call me I won’t answer my phone

Ring, Ring, Ring,

what chime, what sound, what soundtrack

do you carry?

mine is set on mute

if you asked to speak to me I could not

form sound

would you really want to hear my truth?

every step forward chalk on my shoes

hop skip jump throw the stone

leave a message after the bleep

after the fall

I’m leaving myself a message

get up now

get out of this house

climb from the windows if you must

do it fast before you grow into a place

you cannot claw your way through

nobody knows that neighbor, the mother of four

lies prone from 9am to 3pm whilst her kids

drink milk out of small glass bottles

in her bare feet and unwashed hair

garish scarlet lipstick sliced on limp wrists

how deftly you can cover your crimes with dry shampoo and

a dusting of perfume

wiping your mouth on the back of your horror

nobody knows how long you lived

not breathing

counting pills on the convex of your emptiness

and if they came

hauled you away, locked you in a padded room

filled your arm with urinal liquid, your mouth stuffed with ‘medicine’

you’d soon find an open door, fling yourself

glorious from fifth floor like a Rorschach crow

not all are made for asylum-life

feral animals cannot endure cages

the fax machine of the past, showed us our shadow

interpreting our malady as Jung

prophesied in his hunting vest

Ring, Ring, Ring,

Schroeder and Skinner take bets

packing tape wound round their vivisection

no-one is home please leave a brief message and we’ll

lose your distinctiveness in the rollerdex

you gave me yours in a wet crumpled ball

call ME! Blondie sung

in a snug t-shirt with her head larger than her body

this year I noticed my finger tips desiccating

despite warm temperature and heirloom seeds

the doctor said

this is the first sign of albinism

drink the days to your unnatural end

of your shrinking bones witherment

breasts diminishing like deflated ardor

bellies sag,  lost balloons caught in oaks

and what stood proud wilts

like tulips left too long in burned afternoon sun

Ring, Ring, Ring,

I am not a girl in ballet shoes

my feet are wrinkled and cracked like a beggar

who has walked too long for his supper

I do not want to eat the fat of the land

or the dish served cold

warmed with your insincere scold

for my weakness is abundant and I

lose moisture like a white fish licking brail

dries on Greek dock where you can if you squint

almost make out the shoreline of Italy

watching boats take others far and yonder

leaving crusts of their sandwiches for birds

the fish only seeks to return

to the deep still of ocean

(what would I say if)

my doppelgänger pushed me aside and ran to answer your insistence

hello it’s awfully good to hear from you, how am I? well …

I’m fair to middling for someone with a dagger in her back

depends on your definition of

walking underwater with undertow heavy beneath feet

cue the camera, take a shot, bang, bang!

the roaming dogs pee against your leg

on the shallow side of consciousness drift in and out

my pipe is smoky and hot with chastised resin

fingers dirty, the refuge of digging for my soul

you don’t want to hear that though … do you?

no question mark intended

I know your breed your pedigree your label

just as I gnawed mine apart

wove the strands into a length of yarn

tied it around my neck and vaulted

because I am the black dog we all avoid

who shakes her wet coat over dry make-believe

the echo behind the broken cup

one piece beneath furniture, the other

still containing a leached circumstance of water

we do not sup, you and I who have sober fists

I tried, I really tried, then the day went on without me

clocks winding themselves

girls pulling up their underwear in some basement flat

overlooking a river

men taking a piss in bushes, usually reserved for perverts

watching women jog in tight shorts, bounce, bounce, bounce

Ring, Ring, Ring,

is anybody there? What do you say?

are you home? Are you sleeping?

no and no

anything but the shape of arms

making circles against bare wall

here is my crucifixion

behold

words we never tell

are pigment

and egg yolk

and torn hose

 

Legacy

landscape detailsmTurning

touches the stubbornness in some people

depression lifted

how long for?

time enough to notice once more the flush of warm blood and brief vigor as if disturbed from dying we galvanize under rushing water

how the chime of life can bewitch even the leaden hearted with its churlish promise

I would chase with first sound of bird call

dirty my feet in sprint of dawn to watch the thickets light up golden like fairy crowns

feel within a burning longing to forever breathe deeply like a thousand drums

to run then

nay, to hurtle

from weather-vein legacy

Iris Chang (part of the #unsung heroes series)

Iris-Chang-264x400

Why must the insightful carry the greatest weight?

in their teeth like a bit crunching down until they break

teeth all over the place, white against the dark

enamel lasts long after we are gone

your words are never broken Iris

the love others held for you cannot be undone

by spectacle or ire, you are immune now

as beautiful as you were in life your memory not forgotten

eulogized in statues and prophecy, courage in bronze

such is the legacy of those who live to help others

you shone a light where no light had been shone

perhaps it invited unbidden demons and the silk worm

perhaps it made you mad and rageful in Louisville

who can say what fuse is lit, how long it burns or

whether others haunt us to our fatal choice?

but who would not feel horror when unveiled

the gruesome atrocity of what humans are capable

your Nanking chronicles, bravely revealed

blowing your silver whistle over lies

whether secret hands held you down

commanding, speak not, no more truth released

or you became absorbed in the tragedy you wrote

my hope is you gaze down, aware of the love held

your beautiful face gracing the cover of your mom’s book

a legacy unfurling, one step, two, ever more

you will always rise higher than you thought

such is the way of the guide

needing sometimes to turn from her gift back to the world

to see the beauty held in their own

reflection

 

“The woman who could not forget: Iris Chang before and beyond The Rape of Nanking by Ying-Ying Chang (mom) and The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang.”

part of the hash-tag #unsung (heroes) series.

Phantoms of the brain

d9d211db6d31da697392b5cd34a9bdb4

Diana

didn’t intend to develop schizophrenia

which masticated within her brain regardless

of her want

inking pathways and dissecting certainty

a railway of colors lost in submersion

until Capgras Delusion bloomed

the moth of dissociation a star

sewn grossly on her shoulder

branding in disorder

 

Diana

didn’t mean to

self mutilate

causing a bald spot on her scalp to form

like paper becoming chinese lotus

a whirl of follicles perfectly circular

she wholeheartedly believed men made exact copies of people

“screens” that mimicked reality but were not

there were two screens of herself

one evil, one good

 

the good Diana

presented her doctor with a plea for help

I don’t want to be consumed by the whirl she said

biting her nails with reddened lips

the evil Diana considered if

she could reach the pencil and sink it in

to his rotten false arm

you’re obviously a fake she wanted to scream

I can see you! I can see your falseness!

like tar on the beach you wash up dead and stinking!

 

the good Diana kept quiet

this takes time to prove, she thought

sheltered behind her bamboo mask

tight and affixed with unknown glue

where once in a while she’d peer out

tongue lolling against wood

limbic system walking with disabled emotion

feeling like she was looking out of someone else

phosphorous haunting versions or a lighthouse

void of lamp

never finding her way back from cliffs edge

into phantom self

 

(Thank you to Vilayanur S. Ramachandran for his inspiring paper of the same name)

Time

Rabarbra or Wife Engel picking Rhubarb via WikimediaThis place called time

tastes like rhubarb pulled from dark earth

washed too quickly

holds the grit

and fervor

my grandma says

coal and dirt protect the child

from disease and rancor

but will they erase? I ask

the tenor of nightmares brushing

thin window panes at dawn

before first bird call wakes

the timorous

for fear

can come in the unexpected moth

hitting light and dying upside down

bearing fangs

or in an accumulation of loss

seeking refuge in cooling pipes

when the world sleeps

are we lost then?

to the debris of ourselves?

making masks of highs and lows

as mountains would cleave themselves

into castles

I would like I told her

to be a badger or a fox

stealthy and unseen

beneath hedgerow of cast offs

wild and lost in retreat

among spun floss of highlands

where moss turns aubergine and dries

into purple air

once I saw a skull bleached into chalk

more could be said of its expression

than the world of scraped chairs

and reluctant mouths downcast in an effort

not to betray themselves

when they pulled me from the weeds

daubing calamine for poison ivy and

salt on adhering slugs

I asked they leave me

just a moment more

to turn into a hollow

instrument awaiting its pluck

in the warmth of an

empty room

The cruel joy of condemnation

michelle-rodriguez-girlfightRound up, round up

gather round, gather round

it is time to judge the dysfunctional

even the mad ones do

if we have succeeded where you have not

we’ll throw the pitch and tar

round up, round up,

gather round, gather round

easier to chuck stones even as we inhabit

our own hypocracy and glass houses

damn those considered weaker than us

for we can tred water and you cannot

(and they wonder why the depressed often die)

taking their lives as you would

walk off an edge just to stop

the scold

the approbation

the cruel joy of condemnation

 

I have long wanted to understand

the thrill of hurting another because you CAN

it passes me by, seems nothing more than

squashing a fly because of your size

what cowardice in that !

thinking of the playground

how we grow but remain treading mechanics of cruelty

those kids who would spot the weakest

single them from the pack and throw rocks

did not know the damage they caused

every year hence, disturbing growth

perhaps it is wrong of me to wish

to return and throttle their skinny necks

how is cruelty resolved by violence?

yet the passive do rise within themselves

seeking retribution

 

that’s what it took when an ugly boy with red hair and freckles

and a thick Irish accent decided I was his prey

I tried to be patient for a time

when I saw on his face the sick gratification of a smile

at hurt inflicted

there was no reason or ignoring could fix it

I swung my arm as hard as I could

just like the day I tried out for rounders

and hit a curve ball

his jaw made a whacking sound and a click

something unnatural about it

burning pain shot down my arm and into my mouth

as if I had swallowed his aggression just for a moment

his face swelled and grew red before his cry

I noticed how good it felt to stand above him

looking down avenging myself

screaming at the top of my lungs

don’t ever touch me again or I will destroy you

he never did

and right or wrong

that day taught me whether I wanted it or not

sometimes rule books and morals miss

the playground solution to evil

 

if you’ve tried everything else

hit them with all you’ve got

don’t bow your head and say

thank you boss I like it when you make me feel so awful

ever since if nothing else I can say

nobody will walk on me or hold me down

it might not be much but it’s something more

than the fear of being bullied, that sickness

in the morning as you wake

terror in your day ahead

sometimes there is no good outcome

much as we try to use our intellect

the savage side of us can protect against

those who like hurting for no reason

 

how can you fight absurdity with sense?

we are given fists, and I do not regret

the blood on mine

antithetical to almost everything I believe

when we are pushed to the edge

we react in kind

like with like

fire with fire

an eye for an eye

may leave the whole world blind

yes and still

come for me and I will

 

 

(A lot of people may disagree with this. But in the real world ‘reasoning’ with a bully doesn’t always work. Having tried everything and not having further recourse, with nobody to stand up for me, I stood up for myself. Was it morally or ethically any better than the bully? Yes, because it wasn’t what I wanted to start or finish but it had to end. This ended it. I have never regretted it. If it happened exactly the same again I’d do exactly the same again. What they don’t teach you in the karma and psychology books is the street rules, and what actually happens in real life. Even kids can be sadists, even kids can want to destroy a person for NO reason. Learning to stop that, is key to survival. I survived because I fought back. Condemn it, but in the same scenario, what would you have done?).

 

With the beauty of her temperature

15319260_10202291446205021_9072796197672683666_nConversely, paradoxically it has come to

envying the mania

a relief from sorrow

where creation can once more grow

unimpeded by sloth of emotion

covering us like autumn leaves bury unaware

I suffocate every time the heavy hand comes around

and when it is gone I come up for air

but the passage between light and dark is not extreme

not like the mercurial soul who soars high above themselves

I watch them fly so far

I can never muster that much

my energy is a stone well without water

during the darkness hibernation

and when the light shines it only

lightly pierces

like a ray not even sufficient for hope

will wake the sleeping from their nightmare

long enough to know

yes there is another world out there

but you with your rubber gloves around your head

cannot plug yourself in

you are restrained by the amount of light

weak and far ahead

where angels fear to tread

and mania dances hedonistically

with the beauty of her temperature