Sentiment

two women kissingPause

take note

before wishing adieu

consider those rushing years

how they go

girls in wide skirts with brown elbows

flaring in pluming circles, colors of earth and sky

feet tripping over movement, making hexagons of their desire

look back … oh look back

those long years that lay like the junk drawer in your house

untouched by thought or query

ransack shelves you have long forgotten

a hair band from her, 2006 I think, the texture of caught wisps changed so much.

Every room carries the souls of every person who inhabited them

a ring made of silver paper, from the inside of a cigarette box as we sat

in a dark bar on the edge of town, knocking back whiskey and birch

playing footsie beneath sticky tables, with shoes off, bare toes searching

photos of people lost, people found, people who no longer exist lost in circles

the force of life remains inexplicable.

Times past, fast and hot like racing cars revving their engines as soon as dusk

settles like a woman’s gloves on the sorrowful face of the world

for years you rushed around, paying no heed to silent pieces of life you accumulated

halogen lamps stand like cupie dolls with radiant faces

stuffing them in boxes, tying with ribbons, preserving for what day?

There’s lavender from my grandmothers farm, her old best silver spoon, a dog

tag from my father’s first, the smell of grass and good doggie sweat still adheres

an old stone mill and my cousins would drink from tadpole ridden water

and I am the one who grew up to outlast, everyone.

All the people in this photo are gone, still they remain on unsettled periphery

what would they tell me? Get rid of her, she chokes you like

late wine that has corked, she takes and gives nothing back but ingratitude

it’s never enough, it will never be enough, you are not seeing clearly

and the memories of velvet as soft as snow haunt like miniature heart

attacks caught in disused webs.

in jars there are stars and in skies there are words, for everything existing here

is upside down

I write about you until my fingers bruise, I remember the little things

you long cast aside as of no use, like me, like us, like this, once and lost

your memory is a cruel sieve with no regard for history or effort

only the smelt of immediacy and present day full exposure

I have long been your past, just as we have

become junk in drawers, lost to further inspection

when words run dry and even letters stay unopened

your cough sweets, when you ran a high fever and I made soup

the times I took, the hours, the moments,

caught in nets in your mind, to be drowned even deeper

crabbing pots without capture, no dinner tonight you sustain

yourself on bitterness and temerity.

When i am gone, tied in forgetfulnesses bow, you will not recollect

the cards I hand made, how I stitched your favorite sweater

three times till the moths had their eventual dinner

when you were lonely, the words we spoke in the dark

those comforts that are lost in the past,  never to be unearthed

I built a life time and you forgot the shopping list

and driving into the sun, lost your desire for remembering.

Here in this place, I keep the momentos of lost walks

the day you whispered to me, I was the one, how we

climbed and fell together, like gradual waterfall

here is the photo of us laughing

here is a snapshot of us ending

still there are always rubber bands and pins at the bottom of a drawer

to snap and prick you back, to caring about something other than yourself

where we lay beneath cherry blossom, because you said you always wanted

to eat sandwiches and drink wine beneath Spring trees

my hair growing below my waist, the pizza they gave us

when one was not enough, drinking coffee on tindered street

wishing we could still smoke, being well behaved, havoc resting

the copper light of that room, how it smelt of patchouli and wine

even as we left.

I still fit into those days

they fit me like old clothes made new with sentiment’s stitch

climbing from the silence of today into

a divining bell and sinking beneath perpetual hurt

till music swells and covers my consciousness with

buttered fingers

they slip into me as you dove

deep and never released

your breath, my swimmer, my underwater love.

I still see you there

telling me to trust, when I am walking on our ash

here the trees are taller than those we grew to

know and there are no cactus or flowers of the desert

to go with that favorite tune.

I climb California hills with Barney and he hands me

a piece of advice,  a white flag

don’t look back, do what it takes

life is an arrow, cast it wide, cast it careful.

Pink is a damn sunrise slung over beautiful shoulders

running rest of the way home, past the old mental hospital

where secrets are wrapped in files never read, like mosquito nets in Alaska

I go back to my Canadian house and the closed feel of doors

watch snow fall and think of tattoos

over 30 and how time is like unconsciousness

you feel it in another part of you

searching for a way to unite the two.

Slow jazz playing on a malnutritioned needle

here the fair comes promptly in June

they all rush outdoors, so grateful for sun

I tell them, where I came from it never relented.

And I wonder, are you still there? Waiting for me

on the one day of rain? As we kissed goodbye

beneath lampposts, driving separately off, blind in downpour

each aware of time ticking further apart

long arms flung like an acrobat in green ocean

flips ever more easily, than we on land

shall inherit perhaps these fitful musings

of things left behind

unsaid

undone

withdrawn.

The fence between us

you hammered in

you uncoiled and made

tall and hard to

climb.

Perhaps you dreamed of me

kissingA few people said / write something succinct / shorter than your usual / elaborated rhetoric / don’t you know how to / edit and be precise in your / measurement of words / good writers don’t need / verbal diarrhea / they can mold meaning / certain as bending copper / to light.

She thought it over

Knowing it was possible

After all she’d written some very

Shaved and glutted poems

Once.

 

(It wasn’t her way and if you are not true to your way

then you may as well be another lemming / willing to leap / from cliffs edge

of course this precludes learning which is / a value immeasurable

sometimes you can learn everything and still / go back to drawing unrealistically).

 

Finding something – – – perhaps it’s not a poem or a form but a short story

In the elongation and manipulation of reality and precision. Imprecise then. Deliberately.

 

Long ago she had no words because she couldn’t spell well enough to write. So she drew. For hours. Reels of paper. Stories by picture. Things she needed to say. To no one listening.

When she saw Woman In A Red Armchair hanging in a burgundy room / the silence palpable aside / rain hammering outside / mercilessly / like a hundred mouths clamoring

she tried not to stare at the line that made the woman / female

but was drawn to it as she might have been / a real breathing woman

something exquisite and desirable / she longed to see a live flesh and blood girl

to touch her with her empty hands and run them over her / quivering flesh

until those colors swelled up / and she cried out / for the sheer torment and beauty

but

no girls existed / save those who / liked boys / there were plenty of them

why were they all heterosexual?

why wasn’t she?

In America she heard / there are entire schools / devoted or a byproduct perhaps / lesbians / and only-girls-schools / well don’t start on them …

living in the city / you’d think but you’d be wrong / a few pinches / mostly shorn / forlorn

empty eyed / emulating men / less female than / those who wanted to lie beneath them.

Where existed that / judge not / beauty / with /dark eyes

the missing / beat / savor / prosper / sail

to her / soul.

If she could have / found her all along / not searching years but moments / glimpsed

sight and immediately / both knew / this bond before / words spoken

even at 13

even before she were born

perhaps you dreamed of me

created in the stillness of your loneliness / that which you did not have / filling emptiness with yearning / I am born to be / the wet ink on your skin / a permanence / no longer waiting / arms outstretched / for dreams unnecessary / now we / are.

Never quite together / torn asunder / this year the blackcurrents come later / as if they knew / what wonders and nightmares / store / waiting behind the pitch / to come rushing / we tried / we failed / the frailty of emotion / it bleeds easily / like thin skin / gone a-blackberrying / on a listless day / no clouds nor movement / sky dim / with unspent rain / the longing stored up / causing pain.

Perhaps you dreamed of me.

I stood — uncertain — proud backed —

against the light

where shape can be outlined

most acutely

if then you’d looked — ephemeral — something unstated

in muted expression

what we do not say — what we hold inside — contains the greatest

message.

Return to me. Though you are gone. Through the shroud. Time be gentle. Time be cruel.

Different and the same. Recollecting nothing. There is the proof. Stained on our table. Where you cut yourself. On a sharp knife of desire. And I opened to you. Ballet within music. Rapture closed us together. Forgotten. How do you not remember.

That long night we ran barefoot?

Flowers close their drowsy heads. Against night. Sleep. An eternity. Wakening. We are

strangers. Again.

Loss. A pressed red petal against Italian paper. Seeking its watering. I am so thirsty for your return. My love.

Don’t have that kid

xrays-for-hearts

The therapist leaned back in her chair

light from the window framing the space in-between

“Your mother didn’t leave you now, she left you at six, many years ago

you cannot grief for, what you have never had.”

I thought of this as the clock wound its message of time

always against us, years apart, years unlearning reasons to love.

“What purpose is served in trying to reconcile when you neither know

why she has never loved you, nor what you did to cause this latest eruption

and given the certainty of it, perhaps consider, it’s the other way around, not

whole then broken, but always broken and never fixed.”

I tried to remember the last time I saw my mother. For a moment

I could not recall her face, or what she was wearing that last time

and my chest felt tight with anger at myself until it came and she

was real once more. I reached out in my mind, the way I have been

doing since childhood and tried to touch her, the image as always

grew dim and receded.

“The history as I understand it is, you never resented your mother

for leaving you at six, you defended this action when others condemned her

because you just wanted her to be happy, that was always more important

than your own happiness.”

I nodded dumbly. Silent and unable to articulate any further

response.

“She clearly did not wish to have children, that is no shame upon her,

however she did have a child and she left that child, with little regard for

that child afterward.”

I thought of the brief lunches, the walks down shopping districts, my

wanting to carry her bags even when smaller than her, a protective

fierce desire to do something, anything to win favor. How time seemed

so very, very short in those days, of fleeting moments built on years.

Want being the predominant emotion, desire for, longing, missing,

apart from, that continuation of chasing shadows.

“She had her own life.” I replied. Thinking of one of our last conversations

where she said; “Candy I don’t understand this need you have to be close

to your parents, I was never close to mine, you are an adult, you should

have your own life, when I married my second husband he became

my life. That is how it should be. We should not hold onto our parents like that

it is not healthy.”

As much as it cut me, like that metal string used to carve cheese blocks

I knew a part of me agreed with the part of her

who spoke of practicality rather than ‘duty’ and freedom over

the slavish obligation to ‘feel’ a certain way about people whom

many times we did not have connection with.

I recalled how much she disliked her mother, who was gauche, and

could not spell and only wore trousers and sensible shoes, who laughed

a lot and could sing bawdy songs and may have been unpolished

but also did not really defend her daughter against things

unbidden in the dark.

“My mother saw me as being like her mother, whom she

was not fond of. I was not the sort of daughter she would have chosen

had she had a choice, I had some things going for me, that she was proud

of, like my ability to socialize and make friends, she was always quite

cerebral and found it fascinating. She liked how I was good at gymnastics

and physical things, but my mind was not her mind, I didn’t inherit

her abilities, I was too emotional, too needy.”

“Perhaps it’s human nature to have a favorite child, to see yourself in one

of your children over another, to have preferences, but

if you condemn a child just for being different you are

instilling a life time of approbation and it seems, she was

treated very well by her grandparents who thought highly of her,

even her parents, building an ego and self-confidence, something

she never did for you, instead knocking you down, where you

didn’t have the ability to be so egocentric even if you had

tried.”

I recalled the time she told me she had never forgiven me

for my past crimes, I could not recall what they were, I do not

think she could either, it was more of a sour feeling she had

which I reminded her of, a mistrust, we both have that in

common, an inability to trust anyone, we do not sleep

sitting up, we take a long time to switch off, I found this

similarity comforting, she did not know it existed or the other

things we had in common, there were many.

“If I believed in myself as much as her, I would surely have

gotten a different response. But it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, if

you taint the ground water, the flower never thrives.”

In her garden, she grew roses, her mother grew roses too, one

Birthday I bought her many plants, she said they died because

of the weather, I knew she had not watered them, I did not

know how to reach her or please her. Lord I tried.

“She made it clear to you she did not need you or want you

in her life, she said she had not forgiven you for past trespasses

suggesting the woman who proclaimed not living in the past

held grudges from the past toward her only daughter

quite thoroughly.”

I knew what the death knell was, I knew it was a combination

of speaking out about my grandfather, her father, what he

was guilty of doing, and this, not out of malice or a wish to shame

but a desire to move beyond, to save, to love. It was the worst

idea and despite not being from a place of hate, was taken

as a betrayal, she is a lot like me, she finds it very hard

to overcome betrayal, it stays with her a long time, she

may grow used to pretending she is okay with it, but

at the back of her mind she seethes.

The second death knell was when my father, who

most of his life gave the text book definition of impartial

uninvolved, stood up for me against my mother not

wishing to destroy anyone but due to my illness and seeing

how much I had endured, thinking kicking me when I was

down was not right, he said so, and she never, ever

spoke to either of us again. My father who had lost his

brother decided this was okay because he said, life is too

short, although in truth, we were

all more than that, far more than that, our blood was shared

in a maze of snakes, I wished so much it had not come to

this place of emptiness.

“Your mother knows how to love and protect herself and that is

about it, she may feign love for others, but the truth remains

she is mostly concerned about surviving and whatever it takes

and that does not include you, never has, you are really an

after thought or something to feel guilty for.”

“I didn’t want her to feel guilty.” I said, thinking of

our conversation when she left, I am six, I sit in bed, my toys

are watching in the dark, their glass eyes gleam, she is crying

I have not seen my mother cry but maybe twice, I sense

she is on the edge, I want to help her fly, it doesn’t matter how

I feel it matters only that I save her, I tell her I love her and she

must do what she needs to. I meant it then, I mean it now, and

yet she thinks I am her enemy

which destroys me, every time I think about it, with her

father, the true enemy of us both, but she cannot allow this

truth to exist, as he is her maker, she must venerate his memory

even as he caused this breakage, even as we pay him homage in

our exile, she would choose him over me, the daughter whom

despite her belief otherwise, has never betrayed her, has never

been against her. I hear her say to me; “You must talk badly about me

as you criticize your father to me, you must equally condemn me to

him when you speak, you are two-faced, I have never trusted you.”

Words can be knives, they can be sharper than nightmares

piercing our armor, our very life blood, the sustaining force

we try to hold together with rags and pins, I wanted to scream and

say; “Please do not see me this way, you say I scared you with my

illness and you can not handle me calling upset, or afraid, yet

your husbands ex wife called regularly with just the same, you did not

banish her, and your husbands daughters did nothing of what

I did all those years, yet they are never wrong, how can this

double-standard exist when you know the truth?” My last

words; “I will always be here for you.” Asking her to speak to

me, be in my life, give me nothing but that, and she has

that power to say no, which she uses.

She would not hear because she has her version

although truth has no version only truth

I wish so much she could see how things really were

how beautiful we could be in those moments when

it worked and we laid down any grudge in favor of joy

life after all, is so short, so very, very short.

When you don’t matter to your own mother it is

hard to imagine why you should ever matter to

anyone

this is probably what I have struggled with the most

all of my life, though that is my fault for not being

stronger

feeling I am not worthy and there is no reason anyone should

want me or love me, or not betray me

I try hard, but I fail, again and again

it does not help that nightmares come true, you fear

and so it happens, she walks away, she does not

look back.

I hear her laughing somewhere, I hear her

living her life without me until one of us is gone for good

and then it will be forever too late

“She told me she read a poem I wrote years ago where

I wished that she was dead, but that was not the poem

I wrote, I wrote that I had felt the loss of

her all this time as if she were not alive, because when you lose

someone who is alive, it is worse in some ways than

when they are dead. That is what I meant, but she chose

to see it as my wishing her dead, which is the opposite

of every prayer I have ever had. As a child I would beg

the God I did not believe in, to save my mother

to keep her from harm. And the God I did not believe in

would not reply. Angered maybe that I did not, could not

believe or have faith,

in anything.”

The therapist remained silent, I knew from experience

a mixture of wishing I could just get over my goddamn

childhood and grow the fuck up, or is that me talking? Is

that my mother? I hear her voice often, sometimes she is

singing at a piano in the bar where she met my father

and I am as yet born, I go up to her, I am wearing a black

jacket and it has piping down the sides, I ask her not

to keep the pregnancy; “Take it from me lady, it’s better that

way, if you believe one thing, this is it, don’t have that kid.”

And I have a Southern Drawl which of course I have

never possessed, but how I wish she heard me and

I was never consummated, even as friends decry this, with

platitudes of; “Oh but think of the difference you have had

on this world!” Oh give me a break, none of us really matter

and if we could undo our existence, is that so bad? Is it as

wrong as taking an overdose? No, of course not, so get

over it.

I recall once she said I would

never be as talented as her and I could not write and then

I showed her my novel and she actually liked parts of it, yes

she cannot help condemning and criticizing, it is who she is;

The Editor, someone who knows and has a red pen

the very opposite of her parents, her weak mother who

did not stand up for her, her father who loved her the

wrong way, but what is wrong between blood? A lot I think.

When she liked a part of it, much as she tried to say it was

all irredeemable, I saw the surprise on her face and that

tendency toward hurting me and I felt happier than I ever

had just for a moment, before it was lost, thinking she was

proud of me. “You can’t take that away.” I shout up to

The Fates who have decided we are not to be together

in this life time and since there is no other (life time)

this is it, a separation, every day I live knowing she lives

and we are apart, it feels like someone has a hot iron

they are pressing it against my heart. Maybe it makes me

who I am, someone who cares too much, not everyone’s

cup of tea. Some people hate me on sight. Just like that.

I wonder, did she? Did she? Did she?

She said; Don’t lie about who you are,” but

we have all done it, it’s part of our fantasy, especially

if we hate ourselves, the only choice, else we’d not be able

to do anything and that was my father’s choice, one I

didn’t want to emulate, I had to find a way to function

without excuses, she couldn’t understand, she has a lot of

self faith, I had none, she abhors liars, but she lies too, only

better.

You see, I looked up to my mother

she used to say; “Never have idols, they are unhealthy.” She also

told me not to drink orange or apple juice, I did listen and

now I have no cavities, that is her doing, many things are

her doing, good things along side holes and pits. But

she was her own idol just as she was mine, so really

that’s a moot point, for a little child, watching her mother

who is always out of reach, I hear myself say; “Please. Please

don’t go away, don’t do this again.” Maybe that is

why she did, because she had the power, over me

who else would ask her to stay? Who else wants her?

Or any of us? Who? Foolishly I thought as we grew

older she would need me, that was a really stupid

thought, I berate myself, I never did predict her,

she is quite wild and untamed, a good thing, my heart

has loved her unwaveringly all these years

it has made me who I am in so many ways

good or bad, such as it is, I have grown on

a mixture of pain and loss, like a thin weed

can make life from between two stone slabs

but usually come the first flood or drought

it will be the first to

wither. She said; “You caused yourself to get sick”

I could tell her what the doctors said about smoking

during pregnancy or how my stomach has never been

okay, how can a child cause their own sickness even

before they get sick? No. No. It wasn’t me.

She is rarely sick, she has the fortitude of someone

who would will away sickness, I believe it. I try, I do not

succeed. Many times daily I speak to her in my

head just like when she brought me a marzipan frog

from a trip and I could not eat it, as it would mean

losing something of hers, so I coveted it, and she said;

“that’s so pathetic, you always do that, look now it’s spoiled and you

did not even get to taste it.” I could not tell her

“Oh yes I did, every night, when I looked at it, I thought

of you and hoped you loved me, and this gave me

so much joy, I was literally grown fat with it.”

You, she’ll outlast

The lights stay on

After you and I are done

Time swept into ashen memories

Look like roses left to dry til brittle causes dissolution

Doesn’t someone need to notice? As we all march along? What is lost? Left behind?

If dying is an art

Dancing away from you, not giving a damn

The hurt becomes a scar you can peel and discard if you practice hard

I let you go

And the lights stay on like we’re still together

Blazing down on young shoulders, like opened heavens

I’m driving in the opposite direction, bare foot on accelerator

You lied and I discovered the root of evil
Is trusting the wrong one

A creature of the fall, your meal is honesty, you need no desert

Swallow whole the lesson, make it last

I stepped out from behind the curtain where I always hid

Hating myself, the voices attesting, no worth in living

And dusting off years of disregard and absence

I unfurled the wings you never knew I possessed

How did you think I made it this long otherwise?

I said, taking my first step into air

This girl held on long after all was done, hoping against hope

She turns this part of her that cannot give up, toward the light

It is true, what doesn’t kill, makes you stronger or savage or capable of survival

Your lack of love all these years no longer wounds as deep

I use the pain I had, to lend me flight

It’s never too late until the last time

Living doesn’t have to be a tragedy or emptiness

She’s found her wings and intends to go high

Where the sound you make when you self destruct, is easy to stifle

Only the stillness of her soul, free at last

She may be fragile, but you, she’ll out last.

Gentle & low

Robert MapplethorpeTruth hinted at

there’s a ghost in the machine

that’s me

she’s climbing out of her past, survived the worst

they hold up mirrors and shout

let it out, let it out

the she who is me

spread eagle, violate

who will she need to please to be free?

I watch her as I would a

lover who coming close is further apart

the darkness of hurt

a chocolate center to emptiness

her breasts are hard and warm like

lost thoughts in my hair

we weave a strangeness over one another

her fingers inside me and then

words perfumed in the air

promises were said and broken

the bed lays untouched and I would wish I’d been

so lucky

bruises act like kisses and kisses are too deep

your tongue goads my sleep

when I said no you took and ate

your fill, then with moonlight cutting

curtains blind in silver

I see the outline of sin and pleasure

how pain is curled in little leisure

the first strike, sharp lines, leather belt

hands around my neck and down my throat

marks left on marks, growing roses in darkness

you make a hand print of the child lost

blood in water, sheets and cries

who will clean the absolution and who will

witness the last time?

I gave you what I could, it wasn’t

full it wasn’t even good

that was all there was

empty roads, night time rain, ebony on asphalt

lay me down on thorns

paint me a picture of torment

here’s my proffer, my scorn

for not being able to keep a secret

pluck a pin, suck it in, there it sprouts

savage love, ruins the innocent

pain comes in snatches like dreaming

you relish the way I collapse after you’ve taken

this last suspense, rinse out, leave her ready

for the next punch, a wound so loud

her breath has vocals

I’ve been gone a long time now

only the sound of the past plays

on repeat

gentle and low

as violence ebbs her sharp tongue

licking the wounded with happy sorrow

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Moonlight

Did I ever tell you

she tastes of licorice?

And sometimes French brandy

the hairs on her arm

of sunlight

the nape of her neck

a night time covenant

when she sleeps

I long to unwind the ebony coils of her hair

run my fingers along the parabel of her shoulder blades

finding symmetry.

To know a woman

to love a woman

you must forgive your impatience

to possess what cannot be tamed or owned

you must relinquish the idea

you’re ever going to be in control

she is a faithless word seeking light

her tongue thirsting for your nectar

if you look away too long she will move on

to another flower

such is the delicacy of love

ephemeral and without weight

it skips like a hungered heart

for the right claimant.

it took me

walking on my knees through burning desert

composing words of love in my mind

attuned to her ficklety like

a cage without hinges

I drink in the sight of her

turning a corner, magnified in three way mirrors

like harpsichord strung hummingbird

lasting just a season.

In the night she sleeps

motionlessly

a cool blade

between sheets

slicing finely

reminder of a child’s memory

the Italian store and how thinly

they carved meat

till held to light it appeared

translucent

as a moth

blue and changing

against the moon