The savage rent

don’t put up the tree this year

because in different directions

festivity trickles, a sloe-gin reminder

of loss

wintered in the dyed hair of visitors

who pinch our cheeks and proclaim

you are healed

when we know

such things rarely occur

the savage rent may

gloss over with skin

a scar as smooth as ice

can cut despite its fragility

they hand out mince pies

to carol singers who stamp

their booted feet in earnest

whilst we have no need of lights

winking and ushering

memories best left unwrapped

she has gone on with herself

a banchee howling her moon song

like a new chapter in an old book

the leather worn and much used

but still the characters implore

one more story grandma

and I am mending old clothes

to fit around my leaching soul

as ice turns back to water and

skies reveal

another season

another set of rituals

this time I will not

hang a wreath and pretend

to usher the year in with confidence

sometimes all we can do is

darn the holes in ourselves

tighter, less gaping

almost neatly

though anyone looking closely

would see how they

sung and stretched

the fabric of us

perished beneath

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Behind your eyes

DSJPQ56W0AEq2Dl.jpg largeWhen I stopped dancing full-time and entered delayed puberty

my breasts swelled like a lily in a pond

at first it was kinda cool getting attention from boys

then I hated how they jutted out and called ahead

like car headlights

slowly tracking, flashing, blinding

in those days of Flashdance and Fame

the three L’s; leggings, leg warmers, leotards

loving in the afternoon, running to studio

dancing with the smell of sex on my stomach

other girls ate salad and cardboard

threw up in the bathrooms

bound their breasts with cloth

I admired their long necks and sinewy thighs

the tightness of their waists and flat chests

my own puberty felt like something out of control

foreign and unwanted to me

I wanted the lean girl of childhood back

the one who climbed trees with one hand

hung upside down

eating apples

there was too much

attached to owning breasts and thighs

even his circle of me dimmed

looking at some of my friends

the ones with slimmer hips and shoulders

still in their girl-doll-bodies

I with my woman seeping out

became a thing of disgust, or so I thought

when I carried his child, my breasts grew even more

wetting the front of my nightshirt with wasteful milk

his eyes took in the sum of me and disgusted

he looked away

always preferring me hairless and skinny

like a girl not a woman

no make-up, wearing little thin things

someone he could control

so I had a sickness in myself

of warped images, desire and lost babies

starving myself beyond the pale

it wasn’t hard, I had little to lose

soon I ran for buses on the breath of feathers

circling my waist he’d say

you remind me of Audrey Hepburn

being tiny, I decided it had been a dream

no child, no loss, no lack of desire

he sexed me every night until sate

leaving bruises on my legs and arms like

vampire bites

but always turning his head away

like he was thinking of someone else

when he left me for that girl

who was dark-skinned and voluptuous and healthy

I realized being a little girl didn’t keep me safe at all

after that I never gave myself away

to people with eyes that looked straight through me

or hands that grabbed to own

a piece of me or what I possessed

though I had no idea what

that was

lying by myself in a small room

smoking hashish in the dark listening to

Tunnel of Love on repeat

I tried to turn my heart to glass

only my body wanted to be awoken from her slumber

a virginal boy, with no grace and long hair

filled my nights and my bed for a time

I taught him how

to roll the perfect joint

and study, where time ended and pleasure began

once he asked

why do you bind your breasts every morning?

they are beautiful

I turned from him

my skin burning with secrets

and did not ever reply

for who can disclose the litany of pain?

as it lies

like a sleeping child

behind your eyes?

The internal dream

Your soft hair

grace

beneath the moon

I imagine us

light limbed

piano hearted

slipping from key to key

hands on my face

tracing soft accompaniment

I lead you onto oak floor

dancing beneath wax

and French 75 on your breath

moving to a hum

the internal dream

your arms curled around my waist

close your eyes

see ancestors walk

silver hammered

your mouth crushing mine

the oval and the heart

echoing across sound

no barrier

the unraveling trip of clothes

pressing against skin

somewhere ivory music slows

candles burn out

we can smell in the dark

hear the sound

of our mutual breath

as you gather me

as I lean and become

desired

The shape of things to come

If you reap what you sew

if karma is real

if we get back what we give

if you make your bed and lie in it

then the heavy chain around my neck

is my own making

and the silence

is my doing

and the absence

is my creation

my dead babies dance with my ageing cat

whom I brought when I immigrated

we both came over in cages

though his was short term

and mine I did not pee in

tending the gravesites of my sins

lost loves, light candles

music gets me stoned and turned on

I think of you taking me in your arms

know you never will

that for a wordsmith

words when they have no power

are murdered

you left the knife in as you

walked away with your indifference

I slipped beneath water

clutching pocketful of rocks

I’d shown you my true self

you said it wasn’t enough

because I’d gotten old being loyal

you’d gotten old not keeping your word

now words are buried

along with portions of disguised anger

and my ability to trust

I can’t start over because I’m still

tied up, now I like it

it’s the perversion of the prisoner

of love

to want change and

in no way seek it

we have lost our fancy moves

I can’t fit into the illusion

we used to run in so well

so I take a step back

watch my slow motion fall

into frigid waters and slit wrists

where the only thing to touch me

is a memory of your words

meaning what they say

as you gather me like a bunch of roses

and get lost in my petals

before they loose

fall to the ground

the shape

of things to come

The promise of the dream (nombrilisme series)

I dreamt or made up that I did

In sweet spot between wakefulness and sleep

giving over to fantasy as bolster against, hard spit of life otherwise

sometimes, you just need spoon of honey stirred in warm drink

reducing disappointment, like when you were ill as a child

someone laid a cool hand on your fever and whispered;

there there, there there

when I was little, I was very disappointed

with empty rooms, lack of interest, invalidating reasons to exist

I learned before I could talk, to fantasize and imagine

sustaining me throughout life, both as warm blanket against harsh reality

sometimes a drug that I used too much to ward away gloom

for when we live inside the rooms of our imagination

we create such spectacular palaces

sometimes, the outside world is neglected

we do not try as hard, if we can imagine instead

I danced with Jennifer Beals in Flashdance in my mind

why then did I need to try?

and reality it is necessary to know, you get nothing without effort

dreams are just dreams, eventually avoir le cafard, leaving you cold.

Once in a while, I still permit myself to

think of a world where everything I want, comes true

what would it feel like?

think of what hurts you the most, turn it into the best scenario, that was my moto

I hated how I looked, so in my fantasy land, I was free of all taint and condemnation

always abandoned, so in my mind, people came to me open armed

as silly and unrealistic that may be, in the cold light of day

lying in my bed, yesterday, I flung my arm out of the covers

into cold air

imagined a lover taking it

kissing my goosepimpled skin with warm lips

until I could hear their words, whispered in my ear

feel their want of me

curling around usually empty flesh

so long I felt, I had mastered the feeling of rejection

I could write a monologue on it

wanted to kill it, leave it dead and bleeding

never again know intimately what it felt like

to be lied to, walked away from, deceived,

never again know, how it felt to make mistakes

trust someone who promised and gave nothing

in my mind, I needed nobody

still they came, as fantasy will

the girl I set my sights on

changing her mind, bending to Fates chant

it was all rather sad, when you thought about it

here I was making up worlds that didn’t exist

when in my own, there was only indifference

but it is, the unbearable likeness of being

sends me to my mind palace, hiding from the world.

As a little girl, when it was cold outside

and rain fell or my own tears, in my prison

and I had read all the books, thrice over

nothing to see out of windows, nobody to speak to, or call out for

the emptiness of days, absent of structure and attention, I was to all, invisible

behind my eyes, I created a world

of being wanted and validated and sometimes

amazing

where lovers spoke entreaties, wonderful things occurred

and as I grew older I could pretend

it was not me who touched myself

but the hand of someone, I only dreamed of

for reality was falling rain

nothing worked the same out there

it stung of let-downs and empty words

even when something seemed real

it would not be me, who it came for

maybe recognizing, I was not worthy

for I spent too much time pretending

not working hard enough in stark light of reality

for I was ever a coward, escaping the grunt of dull living

for the majesty of the fantastic.

On weekends going to clubs full of dreams

just to escape sordid living of emotional poverty

drugs can be snorted or made up, by concentrating

and lovers who did exist, could be magnified

it is said, you do not fall in love with a person

but with passion itself

and I was guilty of that

though always I wanted, to meet the one

and I still believe such things exist

though not for me

I was never a fantasy girl, despite living in the fantasy

and you were my fantasy

though I did not make you up

I may as well have

for you did not want me

I cannot now, recreate you in my mind

you are more than I could ever imagine

now the dream is soured

because I knew you in the real world

and for the first time

wanted to stay there with you

dancing beneath changing trees

for once, I threw everything of me, at making something come true

it only confirmed what I had always feared

it may be true, we do not live without effort

but to risk our hearts and realize we are not enough

doesn’t seem recoverable

it is no wonder

many of us I suspect, live inside ourselves

where we cannot be hurt, by what we want and do not

have

is that selfish?

was it greedy of me to believe?

we are not given these feelings for them to

simply wither

but here I am, so many years later

still dreaming, solitary, untouched by something real

growing it seems, with every year

a little colder and more removed

for nothing is as sad, as going through life unwanted

having to find succor in the promise of our dreams.

B side

franccca7oise-dorleac-photo_03One

There you play your favorite B side and drive in your mind

fermenting beyond chicory

no-one else knows

basking in old songs

she finds the segment of Clementine

hidden from view in liquor box

melting resistance

as nationalists surge in Catholic crimson

could be now or a light house seeking ship

printed beneath creamy lost voices

 

Two

She could propel herself with saline drying her toes white

transfixed on survival as

Boudicca led bronze and stone fighters

daubed azure over thorny field

if she lived today she’d share a Menthol Salem Light with Stevie Nicks

warning women against Xanax

in Miu Miu sunglasses

capturing the drum-beat of her many-armed dervish

as a little girl learned to spell

sounding out her letters

heroine in slow motion

A

B

C

fire

walk

with

me

We believe

Use your long words

describe the smell of memory

antiseptic

there in your transparent igloo

born to incubate

smoke before it’s legal on your mother’s habit

bequeath me the tendency

to live without need

from pockets we pull

the nurture the seed

sprouting in defiance

when everything else died of frost bite

against the ire of a late Winter storm

gusting itself into white rage

through the glass you see

yourself being re-made

in the eyes of old women whose wrinkles

make a universal puzzle

and the swell of hills

cast over with violet

a heaven of sorts in setting light

glazing countertops

for foot prints of unseen beast

leading off into nearby copse

could we will ourselves

another go around?

stepping backward into

infancy, chewing the umbilical

surrounded by potential like

a wet firework strains to explode

would it be any different?

your hands, molding my shape

DNA

the type of pasta eaten

over Lake Como the day

of conception

holy was the love that bore the wish

lost in steepled weather vein

glistening against straining light

a mockery of control

just out of reach

there she is

eighty years from now and

just re-born

in unfurled leaves and first sprouting

green a forbidden thing

among the white ushers and

dark flitting ponderable

marveling we can be conscious

of ourselves and of nothing more

than a stream aching to unfreeze

creep closer to living

inch by inch

two warm bodies without a thing between them

aside the shame of knowing

we live both futile and richly

worming our way into the meat

and tender bruise of absolving

those things we believe we need