The fragile cast 

Tell me again

To be fearless

Tell me again

To depend on myself

I am yet a child

Still holding her toy by the ear

I am feeling you give me

The hard water slap of advice

Cold on my cheek, formerly warm.

You say

It’ll toughen me up

But I already know

It has wrought the reverse

I am not

A leathered creature of your creation

I am already 

Quite changed and mangled.

Whilst you 

Suffered and carved expressions from granite

Still you were told, you were a marvel

I was weighted down only with disapprobation

And your searing brand of tough love

Tore me further without support

Gave me greater fears, made me feel alone

In a room full of sound.

You cannot rob a child of their ego before it is formed

Nor nurture one empty handed and pickpocketed

You cannot protect a child by harm

Broken is broken.

We all require, when we start in this world

The unconditional faith of others

In a look, a knowledge, some portion of belief

In the validity of us

Lifted just enough to see over the edge.

Life already begs to steal the best 

We cannot survive by being cast into fire before we learn to walk

It doesn’t forge stronger bones

We live as ash, insubstantial invalids

Longing for the strength of kindness.

Before you break a child

Think of them twenty years from now

Grown on thin gruel and scraps

We who stand in the tempest 

May appear whole

But in our essence we lack

The varnish of other’s meant to grow us tall

It is in the stained radiance 

We find the courage to face the world

Bestowed on us by those meant to protect

The fragile cast of a child.

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The absence of light

There is a Devil in my belly

She calls me on a shiny red telephone

Wrapping the cord around my throat

Exanguinating hope

An angel resides in my heart

Her lot is heavy but she refuses to be submerged

Even as we all spy bruised storm, gathering momentum

Life’s hungry dust bowl howls across my bare feet, thirsty for saving

And you 

You write me in posie

And despite the ocean separating us

I feel you clasp me tighter

When I ache, you assuage

When you cry, I collect your tears

To swell the ocean and bring my craft

Over emboldened water

Whenever sickness or sheer twist of living knocks us down

When I fall, you stand 

When you falter, I am balance

We’d have made good slapstick act

We capture each the missing half, with fullness

It is the turn of our dial

Sometimes set on hot, sometimes cool

Arcing time and years like birds on wire

Sleep and yet, do not lose

Their position

You are my compass

It is no longer possible to imagine

Longing, without you

You are my appetite

The favored toast

As we shakily celebrate survival

While day closes her arms and slowly

From Wardour Street we pick our way

In search of open places, like ourselves

Braving against

The absence of light

More than we fear


If I couldn’t

Be relied upon

I would still

Try to stand strong

And if I fell

And those who are my kith and kin

Let me fall, rudderless

I believe I would still

Try to stand once more

This attending effort was not

Born to me

I was a slothful child

Idolent in summertime, slow to come home

Engrossed in the token more than press of life

Missing meaning within magpie’s shiny locket

I may blame a lack of moral structure

But it was ever my way to remain hollow, we are vessels of sound

The rod or the wild, we choose in our forming

I chose the willow path overgrown by neglect

You, it was you, years hence

Bending with an acrobats supple spine

Taught me purpose and value from your own pain

Late and much too past, still never entirely lost

On even the laziest soul, truth can take hold

I thought I knew truth

Until I learned to listen truly

I thought I knew loyalty

Until I witnessed real mercy

It was as if I had ever not, known a thing

And wiped clear of experience

Began anew, shivering in dawn without wrapping

I couldn’t see then, the other shore 

Or how

Waves are measured in metric pulse, known to moon 

I walked among prophets blind

And only saw my own, sorry reflection

I bled and believed myself insightful

When the blood was void of rust

You see, it takes rhat meterlurgic alchemy

To disipher ourselves and then, once seeing, cross that wasteland

I believed my intuition when I only saw shadows

No crucible of real direction I walked without legs, on the back of dry twigs

Until, woven with deception, snap, the pasture denied me 

Even the position of desicated scarecrow

For I was just an approximate, empty inside, tredding fallow

Without hunger or thirst, nourishment naught

Nobody to stand as sign post

If I couldn’t

Get up from my knees, though they were made of lead

And discover the dream, still in embryonic state 

That has been here all along, put away, almost forgotten

For we are, born to dream

Not to linger in collapse but

Leap graceful without weight

The chains imposed, released to fall

Cleanly from their imprisonment

Shackles are no natural state, prisoners of ourselves

Each of us has, a measurement of myth

Wings to fly and imagine if

We let go of shame and doubt

Those habits cast around us in woe

Lift, lift, oh that we could

Find the fabric beneath the world

And swim in unisen to its music

If I couldn’t 

I would not still be here

Trying to prove we are always

More than we fear

Last night


Last night, The Devil called

He said

I’m calling in my marker

You have the wrong stiff, I replied

I’ve been scared stiff too long

I calcified

Turned into crystal

Split apart under armadillo sun

Melted and became a resin lingua, beneath surface, hearing murmur

Of half forgotten plea 
Smoke me if you must

You’ve got the flame

Though displeased not to gain my soul, ponder this …

What you cannot snap in two

What resists

Will one day be called beautiful

And all that pain it took

Just to keep walking

When the sun burned you to clay and turned you finally to river mud

When the last ounce of yes I can

Si su puede

Became Holy Lord I cannot endure

When you felt yourself

Wilt like wax candle of the saints, in midday sun

From alive, to oil, to fire and back again to blood

When Demi-Devil’s mock human weakness

Whispering in your shellac ear
“Try your hand at Lady luck”
You know

As sure as the pain

Will come and sear that moment, right from you

A ripper of joy

Wielding guts by the garter

That no ideal lasts as long as your breath

Captured in entreaty
Oh Great Ones

Who stand, past and present

And know what we, of salinated water, shall never know

Lift us up from our pain

The fear gnashing blind over tattoo soul

Lift us up high enough, to see beyond the mountain of defeat

And like children from their deep sleep, we feel renewal

Fingers of comfort, rounding in caress

You see, evil has no hold, over courage

And still it is okay to say

I am scared, I am weak

When in our transformation we will become

Light

Extinguishing a little of the fear gripping the recess of survival

Refusing to drown 

Say it once

Say it every time

I am still

And the wind blows cool

On my wet face

I feel you near

I know I am not alone

I open the window and whisper

You can still

Hear

In sight of land

IMG_0923.JPGMercy is an unexpected hand, steadying

Mercy feels like rain

Mercy hurts as laughter will, the first time you smile again

Mercy is a series of white flowers, forging out of bleached, dry grass

Mercy is a silver arrow, piercing resistance

Mercy is the face you need to claim, before all air is lost

Mercy is the final flood, a lost song, a forgotten book, page 456, line 34

Mercy is your imperfectly knit blanket over my shoulders, smelling of bonfire wood, shivering against wolf pelt, in necklace of thorns

We pull and we pull

Our teeth, our reach, our ankles

Until dearticulated and reborn, pass on our baton of water

Mercy is a legacy

A line in land, seen from air

The silken scar, cut across suntanned throat

Mercy is hearing them again, whether a moment or year since, beholding under solvent skies

The memory of love, held too tight, between clenched fingers

Mercy is the separation between, what we let go and what we keep afloat

When darkness dissolves resolve

Mercy lends hope

Inherit their voice

2012610_1809dSat facing away from the sun

an old man wipes years from his eyes

drawn over with cataract like milky bath water

he strains to see the outline of motion

 

where are all the old men? He thinks

once so barrel chested and neatly trimmed

with mustaches and shiny hair like Cover Girl teens

where are all the eighties queers who painted beaches

with tight abs and tiny shorts in tropical shades?

 

now half empty, the beach longs for color

only rotund women with bristly chins

unkempt hair chopped without thought

some with children or children’s children

placing sensible shades and thick UV factor 50

on slow-moving parts of themselves

 

in previous years you could

reach out and paint a rainbow

in their courage of being twenty

though lesbians and gay men do not

always a palate make

such contrasts in their expression

these women without restraint

mopping the brows of dying beautiful boys

unwilling nurses drawn to duty

by suffering ignored

 

some judged, as is human’s wont

even those judged themselves

learning in pious pews the curses afflicted upon

the sinner

their ingrained prejudices wondered;

Why so many striken did not stop frequenting steam rooms

smelling of bleach and pleasure and illness

looking for strangers with no way to tell

if death stood beside them?

 

perhaps; time old division of the sexes

rather than, one bad, one good

men will find a hole, stick it in without regard

this is not a homosexual thing but

the nature of a penis

gay men acted upon that unrestrained impulse

all men share, save those who learn greater depth

than the hand, the orifice, the gag reflex

then disease clasped them in a death grip

chewing away at fragile worn tendencies

soon no beautiful boys remained

hot in steam rooms to blink their doe eyes

fringed with fear

 

some divisions are economic

lesbians with babies, lesbians without brawn

unable to act upon their natural instinct

remained married, starched at home, dying in place

whilst young men, fed on corn and barley, took good

California jobs and soon the boom grew teats

 

educated baby dykes today do not know loss of freedom

or the true price of salt

they can rack up bed notches in reckless abandon

imitation not always the greatest flattery

but back then …

all so new and unsanctioned

people didn’t have road maps or internet

to gauge behavior by

and in the dirty rim of a third glass of whiskey

courage and terror would sometimes blind

best intention

 

girls today repeat the worst inventions

of boys without purpose

those early days of the movement

can a life be a movement?

they died weekly and by the hour

in shabby rooms without succor or sense

strangled by disease, shamed by the ‘told you so’s’

just coming out

only to climb into a coffin and be carried

jeers and spit and hate to their graves

where few wept, for they too shared death

mottled with kaposi’s sarcoma

some haters slinging mud shouted;

you depraved souls! You reap what you sow!

is this the word of Mohamed & Jesus?

or cruelty with nothing more than hate to grow?

 

now gays think they are safe

over the hump, socially acceptable

on TV, in your face, sitting next to you, earning more

painting their rooms mauve, their wallets thick

HIV can be lived past, no more automatic death sentence

adoption is legal, and marriage, a thriving business

do they even remember how many fell?

before they could inherit this tenuous hour?

 

the old man was one of fifty

the last survivor of his generation

depleted by silent war

struck down by AIDS and her harpies

over time even medication failing hope

or bodies, tired from their walk

collapsing on scalding streets without

the kindness of stranger

 

the old man, he cannot say to today’s youth

this is how it was, learn from the past

because they do not care, it is their time now

and if they knew it would not matter

only the hour of their immediacy

compelling them forward to their own history

one day past them and in reverse

they may share his loneliness then

too late

 

the old man

who used to be a beautiful boy

with golden skin and hazel eyes

a thick swath of black hair hanging like a wave

he looks at his gnarled hands and sagging arms

with their scars and their ragged hurt

and he wants to be as loud as the young

and shout out;

 

where have they gone?

the beautiful boys of my time?

why must I outlive them all and see in my decline

the loss of their right, to be recalled!

for whom among us, shall pick up the mantle

and say their names, once we are all

beneath earth?

an entire generation cut down

and smoothed over like asphalt

 

do we ever think of that?

in our perpetual urge to be present, in the moment?

those who have gone before

stand now like ghosts around him

an entire era

strangled before they ever could

inherit their voice

 

(This is my contribution to Pride Month. I want to remember those who are not here with us, because they died when they could have lived, if they had not been forgotten and repulsed. During and afterward, Africa was equally rejected, neglected, ignored, and millions died. Worldwide HIV/AIDS is still a death-sentence, make no mistake. Those with power decide who lives and dies, whose life has worth, whose does not, decisions are not made out of mercy they are made coldly with calculation and lack of compassion. All the rest is froth on a daydream. Our memories are sometimes the only thing keeping us from repeating history). #neverforget

 

Shards

dscn1772-2There is an edge

ever-changing, indescribable

and as you turn your shoulder

thinking the sun has only burnt

one side

the other is latticed

in marks of your exposure

as things of darkness will crawl

deep inside you like a well without end

and build with whitened fingers

their hungry descent

until you are changed

even as you taste the salt of your tears

staining your face like damage

blackening light into rotten parts

tearing your wings to pieces

it’s been so long you forgot

once you were able to climb

high into sky and feel something

unknown now like a lover

who has turned to enemy and stranger

instead without warning

the edge presents itself

in terrible hour like a sharp knife

one moment you are clinking glasses

smiling into the camera

and others remark

goodness she’s aged well

look how happy she looks

the next you are ripping the lies

from your arms, all that glitters

tearing into shreds artifice

tying together knots in hope

they can end

the sudden terror inhabiting you

always cruelest when it shows

just as you believe you might

have escaped

yoking you back

get on your knees

here you are, here you are

your toes grip the edge

you see the emptiness below

much like what lies inside

untethered, unnamed

for who can put a word

to terror? to hopelessness?

who can place a finger on the place

the rot set in and began

to devour the person you once were?

leaving a scarecrow

others do not see inside

the stuffing ready to ignite

they only see the perfect smile

accoutrements without truth

glittering like shards of glass

scattered in the night