Nothing of me

She stands in the doorway

The outline of her slim shoulders

The hallway light seems peachy

She is home and without her

Home will be a strange wasteland

Where survivors cling to wreckage

Watching for her shape every night

The smell of her still on tortoiseshell hairbrush

Why didn’t she need it when she left?

How did she choose what to take and what to leave?

The only choice I was certain of

..

I was not under consideration

That need, to not need

Suffocating on duty and then

Deciding to toss it into waste bin

Along with other chains

I have carried as my own brand of perfume

She who gave me life, wanted life without me

Always did, from the first day they placed me in her arms

And she thought … oh no

It isn’t her fault

Love never arrived

But I am left alive

Yearning to matter, knowing I never will

It is a bigger part of me than I care to usually admit

A voice in the dark always crying for Mommy

A word I haven’t used, I know not

I thought I’d grow up and get over it

But wherever you go, there you are

In my case, a kid whose mom didn’t want

I’m still looking at doorways

Watching for her tread

In other’s faces, a memory yet

Even as I grow older than she was

When she squeezed her heart

And despite the shared DNA

Found it held

Nothing of me

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There is just love

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Among the strange hinterlands of neither young nor old

lies many adrift woman

mistaken for 28 by gum-chewing taxi driver

feeling ancient climbing steps, taking two at once

age is a permutation moving through blood and time

without oxygen it holds no discernible value

she could be your lover with her handfuls of thick hair held up by gravity of want

she could be your mother, stooping to ensure your coat is buttoned

her soft hands can be conductor, nurturer, passionate or flat for querying

why she must be contained at all in any type of jar or bottle

sent out to sea in glass of blue and green she sees all there is

and upon her return announces

she will thus forth be no age, no ones claim

but her own, velvet centered self

delirious of less nouns to describe her

she is neither straight, octagonal nor completely curved

she is a finely tuned instrument, played softly she can produce music

why should she apologize to women who cut their hair off in sharp buzz cuts

for keeping hers long enough to climb or why she wears dresses and heals

it is her weft, no more no less

and she doesn’t judge you for your penchant for masculine women or you for

your need of feminine men

why then tell her she is breaking the code by being who she’s always been

a woman who loves women

in all their unraveling glory

surely it is that loose dance around the maypole

when they were girls, rushing to catch the others crown

daisies so fragile in hot sweating palms

she saw the design then, of them all, like a quilt of differing

shapes ready to take to air

hers sought a reflection of herself in the depths

of what it is to be woman

that small crease as she laughs and your heart

vibrates with something like a bell

the nape of her neck nude against sunlight

how her shoulders form their musculature while remaining

soft

if she could put such things into words rather than

cries and whispers she might say

a woman was both male and female

holding the world up and bringing forth

life while fighting those who would call her

inferior and simply a loaned rib

oh quickly, quick let us mingle with your

preferred bone and become one

in the forming of calcium and other

periodic tables you see she and I

are of the earth and our very carbon

is born from within and without

beyond labels and understanding

there is just love

there is just love

 

FortuneTeller

People didn’t care

Just like with the Nightingale

The dead bird outside Starbucks

Didn’t warrant consideration

His feathers mottled by hot pavement

I felt

Bad I hadn’t noticed at first

But I’d been watching you walk

And recalling the depth of your coffee eyes

Whom of us lovers, has time

For dead birds

Finally a man thinks he’s brave to kick

Feathered corpse off to the side

Indicative of these times

I thought of the Happy Prince

Giving away his gold and jewel eyes

Enlisting a little bird to pluck

His riches to give to the poor

How I read that in school sitting

Elbow to elbow with sloe eyed kids who

Scratched their dry elbows raw

And the very same week we came across a dead bird

Its grave still beneath the weeping willow

Fastened by a Palm Sunday cross we’d kept unbroken in a book

Where children learn almost by hook and rook

Whether to practice compassion

Or not

I said to you; Oh look, it’s a poor dead bird

I wonder why it died? As if flung from the sky

And your eyes were hurt just as I knew they would

Because you are a grown child

I’d be bound to love

And we’d bury birds together

In every place they fell

Even if only a few care

Beginning in the playground

Watch them

Children will show you

Their future character.

Pleasure dome

I’m 24

Funny shaped tap drips without end,
birds no longer sing in this city

I tell myself, I cannot survive much longer

If my view is a saffron robed Pakistani man, hawking up phlegm at 8am, into his dying rhododendron

Despair like me, at these four walls and dirty pipes protruding from beneath singleton sink

Who ever made sinks this size? Sometimes you throw up in them. Other nights you heft your hiney and pee long and shameful

The golden shower of malcontent. I don’t like to share bathrooms with strangers or friends

Poverty and her gifts, laying each day another absence, a reminder, you are in the meat grinder of the city, she waxes her legs on your sharp disappointment

As a kid you thought you’d wrangle diamonds from street corners, the fizz and pop of bright lights luring you to the center, like a Christmas nectarine

Is always spoilt.

In the petting evening, wet lipped men come to the spindly girl upstairs

She has thin shoulders and jagged hips, her eyes are always transparent and high on pyramid crystals

These men grind their dirt into her pretend cries of ecstasy and she gets crisp and filthy notes left on her childhood dresser afterward

I fantasize about asking her, if it has to be men she admits into her sanctum

But I’ve never paid for it and I don’t want to step in their cooling semen

If she knocked on my door and offered a damson breast I may

Break that rule and risk, even in the AIDS era, even as a feminist, even if I can’t afford the powder, her hungry nostrils crave

Just to feel the rub of her emaciated hips and hard thighs against my parched skin

I’d fucking inject it if I could, to take away the feeling of savage loneliness in the big city

That sick feeling, you’re stuck, among landlords and low paying jobs, even at 24

Massaging an ancient electric meter with dirty coins, for a little light showing more dirt

The temptation to let it fade out and lie, door open, legs open, coins in your mouth until blood freezes in your veins.

Come in and pay for me then, what am I worth? What can you fill me with, I haven’t already drunk?

Strange people’s scarfs on universal banisters, the smudge of sex in screwed up foil and old bus tickets

Lift up my hips, ram it in, pay your due, switch poison for love and love for death, welcome to the pleasure dome.

The man in 4b puts his hands down his granddaughters dress but the abuse hotline just rings and rings and rings

There’s a gypsy in 5a, cries for his lost lover til dawn. There’s a 13 year old boy who turns tricks in the street, who asks for bus money and new socks

The flashing lights of the strip club opposite are flamenco pink and penetrate through my squalid curtains, wailing their synthetic dreams

How far will you travel to see the sky again? To touch sand and sea and gulp with fevered breath, the pollen of forgotten worlds, lost in your lust for noise

I think of the Pakistani man and his phlegm, growing flowers from spit

As the Eastern eyed girl sells her small fruit for a ransom and a cry

Breasts like pinches, thin ribs beneath wool, taut ride of her skirt showing little pursed mouths of bruises

Her feet are always bare andlacquered, mine are unwashed and leave imprints of desire outside her door in ring-a-rosies

She wears her tips without a bra, nipples hurting in their push, smoking cheap cigarettes before light, smell of burnt coffee and sex on her chewed neon fingernails

They pay her to keep them hard, I beg her to stay soft

The city is a searching arbor of need and want and ingratitude

At 3am people wander the street for drugs and pain and death in little sealed packets

She leans in the doorway, exhaustion a shroud, touching her bottom lip with a haloed question

I open my mouth and let her in.

To her, and all the men she brings, to 24 years and not a minute more, to the nialism and thready vibrant flowers growing from scorn

Her body is a violated temple, a bingo hall, an arcade game, with multiple slots for change

Her mouth tastes like ashtrays and night clubs and old men, skinny throat a pin cushion of bite marks

I make her sing

As light wakes the rest of the world, all the lost birds hear her call

The Pakistani man admires his flowers and thinks

How beautiful this little piece of color is, here in this metropolis where all are brushed beneath concrete

I brush my hands across her small deflated breasts

Seeing sunlight find its way in between crowded houses filled with sore tenants

Touch her violet tinged skin in patterns, warming her before she awakes.

I’m 24 and she’s 22 and an entire life time, of fag butts and misery, washed down on lines of coke and old men groping for their last fuck

Later on I’ll take her to the coffee shop with the little bell above the door, and we’ll clasp hands beneath the sticky table cloth

Blue rinse ladies in the adjacent seat will remark, on our bright eyes and shining hair

As if we too were born

From the cracks of despair

Lace

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On the outside

I button up well

zip my mouth in pink

comb my hair with calico

hold my faux ostrich skin purse close to chest

the powdered lady at the department store said;

yes, you will need to throw out your old bras and buy new ones

plumping her glossy lips as she showed me

a larger cup size and I

drank from my own, the last dregs of eleven am coffee

I couldn’t tell her

each one has a story, especially those broken

they smell of you still

their color is that of emotions I felt

when you unhooked them and took into your mouth

my wandering need

instead then, I nod acquiescent and purchase

three new bras for a stranger who is not me

black for night

white for day

violet for the hour

you again

lay your claim in my dreams

as I walk out, she waves and says;

you’ll be much more comfortable now

happy she’s done her job

dressing women with empty eyes in fine lace

she doesn’t know

for me, comfort is an emotion I have no need of

I like to feel your sharp ivory teeth

run across my skin and break

me open

spilling my seeds, red and glittering on the wet cotton

of our writhing impression

it’s more than bra size that cuts deep

leaving lines and circles of indigo and purple

colors for the bruises blooming inside

a field of damsons fallen from tree unpicked

for who now knows, how to make such wine?

I think of the times you tore

and rent and split

that wire artifice from my trembling frame

I remember the taste of blood on my lips

as I bit down in want and fire

for your fingers to beckon and curl

within the flexing circle of me

and that girl was smaller and opaque

like japanese lily she grew swollen with water

shedding her kimono stain beneath surface

swimming without need of air

to bend and contort like alabaster crane

between you and within you

her tongue no longer using words

to sate her impulse and your

hungering claim.

As I wait for the elevator

my head ever bowed in recollection

holding desultory purchase like fly swatter

I cross my neat legs and watch my shiny high heels

click together in tight voiceless longing

I am seen by all, as a demure, well-dressed woman

shopping without thought, her lips slightly open in musing

the mine of my mind is burning

for your take of me

and the memories

contained in

a crushed piece

of lace

The affiliate of memory

bb

Die is cast

thrown and tumbled

woman is born a girl

girl is born a woman

when she is young, learning to tie bows in sensible brown shoes

spit and shine, tighten pigtail, don’t get your bobby socks dirty

what does she know of her future?

when then, what hour marks, her turning, her awareness?

the tempora fragility of her succulent heart

will she be like her grandmother, a blubbering mess?

able to condone slithered evil in the hands of her husband?

look the other way, for her choices are meager

will she be like her mother, a loyal lover?

seeking a man willing to hold her closer to the sun

melt Icarus, melt, till you can stand the radiance no longer

but what of your child? The one you think is poison and deadly nightshade

what will she be like? In that wicked knowing?

when after-birth is dried and shell chewed to starlight

and she stands tall and unversed like a question mark

when she wants to scream out;

whydontyoufeellikeido?

whydontyouwanttoscreamwheneveryoneelseislaughing?

she’s the burnt slice of toast grown cold on countertop

everyone else is easy in the sun like white wheat and blackcurrant

they shine in their shingled merge

children thread their way through oboe chair-backs like grass snakes

the meadow flowers droop in her sweaty palm

she’d gift her indigo heart if it were taken or sensical

learning many years ago

don’t lend, what you can’t live without

she has enough air to fake it for fifteen minutes, then she’s out

caught in the idling headlamps of smoky cars

no destination

just drive

far

to escape those pitch eyes, drained of regard

the ease with which you are

the ease with which you are

in the loosening of your need

an affiliate of memory

put in glass jars along with sugar

watching you lean now, so evenly

toward tomorrow’s sun

By one who feels

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for indifference is the sharpest

knife of the set

worse than anger which requires some care

and love that turns on her heel constantly

like a feathered Cuban girl in 1930s Havana

smiling, til her cheeks ache with sheer

marvelous spectacle

it’s been some years since I danced for you

from shadows to light and back again

fooling myself into beauty, rendering

moments stamped in both our minds

for the joy of the unbound

my feet hennaed like an Indian wedding bride

your fingers possessed of music and silver rings

we wove our limbs together as plaited bread

baked in the glory of that unbroken hour

before ochre sun’s urgent assent and chime

of other people began lowing in impatient light

there is something about darkness I have always

felt contained magic and even if others do not see

I taste it on my tongue

I run my hands along

its quiet shining surface

much like a lake swallowing

a stone when thrown

with all the violence known

by one who feels

everything