It can kill

Almost sun up

the tinder box within my chest

is scratched free of ignition

I have nothing left to light

against encroaching darkness

for so long, it was only you

who kept me burning, fed the diminished

flame within

now, cold weather comes hunchbacked

like a visiting relation who has

no regard,

streets are emptied, as ducklings for feasting are

short-lived in their joy, for we live in a climate

spoilt with her bounty

the people proclaim Winter their enemy

hiding inside, till blessed sun returns

to bake streets into their usual direct lines.

I have always loved the cold

for it is somber, serious, it does not apologize

for not laughing or smiling toothily for a photo

the cold is an adult, a survivor

and my warmth is now swept out

into the street to nourish next years

growth.

You have left me ransacked, weighed with grief

or rather, I permitted it

with my need to divest you with

my self keeping

it was you see, a way to continue

waking up in the morning

brushing hair, scrubbing feet

clean of their midnight chase into darkness

where if I stayed long enough

I might find no way out.

I used instead, the succor of your regard

for me, a diminished thing in a shiny coat

of false expectation, as hibiscus bloom

just before frost, as if daring it to

kill

knowing, one day, the flint

would no longer strike alight

the flame no more catch

and we’d be without fire, without warmth

without familiarity or loyalty.

As those who feel and then feel nothing

ransacked void with wilted affection

the chill of their galloping regard

worse than any Winter storm

for knowing your hater is surely

a greater pain than strangers who harm

just for the merriment of it.

I know you. I see the emptiness in your eyes

these years have rinsed out slowly like a series

of rogued pinches and double-exposures

I understand, too well, just as

I see my own senseless defeat

lain on unflinching wet ground, not moving

for the cold has washed over and she is

frozen in her private grimace.

Some of us can carry on

without the light of another

I have long existed without harmony

safety, even sanity, but I cannot lose, no

I cannot bear to, the surround of you.

If it comes then, you will find me

a memory in a long story, a footnote to something

larger than us all, lost in yellowed paper and indistinct

photos of past, growing longer with each yawn

and outside of us, that tree will still stand

in 200 years, we will have children born and

die here on this land, where the dead are

forgotten to we who roamed once, through the ravages of

time and her pitiless relinquishment of mercy.

It is the way, of mortality, even love may be mortal

in how she closes up sacrosanct and inviolable like a flower

denied light

refusing to bloom again. You say

nothing because your mouth is

filled with ashen excuses, and moving on and

what you’ll do next; it is a tempest, a fever

beneath your skin, lending you the fugue-state to

live again, for you are from your mercurial ancestors

a kind of people who always find ways to

endure, as if doing so, will make you more

memorable.

I then, I am not like you, nor ever have

possessed, the penchant for survival you tout, it doesn’t

matter much, we are all going to be

soot and lost words before long

the race, the belief we matter, is just

grime on our sleeves as we pass

through. I have seen a world

without me, as I have witnessed a life without

you, they are all echoes of each other

betraying the faith I had never quite built

knowing you would leave

observing in your eyes before you were aware

the emptiness of regard, how softly we skim

life’s abundant surface, like we hardly land

at all. At times it does not feel like it can

be real, this ache, this movement toward

self-destruction, surely this is not how it ends

and yet, years become decades and still

we find ourselves, curled into a ball, waiting

out the cold, a frigid breeze coming in

beneath the door, reminding us, no matter

how much we may like the Winter

it can surely kill.

New skin

I grew up knowing what cruelty was

it curled at the corners of day like

a well fed tiger.

Sometimes I did not think on it much

for I was preoccupied by my own

sense of emptiness and self pity or

just the song on the radio at that moment.

Years later I feel it

just beneath the surface like

new skin, flinty and unyielding, unfamiliar

and somehow horrifying

bleeding like a bruise

as yet unseen.

Maybe the brittle disappointment of

my ancestors, their sagas of

grief, shifting quiet loss, building

like ant hills awaiting flesh to

pierce with poison is my

only purpose.

There is shame in realizing

I am guilty of what I abhorred, this

softening violence, a compound fracture in

my psyche, alarming long held belief

I was kind

when there is no nice affability in

what I sometimes feel

only a wish to burn

deeply, leave charred and dead

those who would harm me or try

to fight, thinking me defenseless.

In that, I inherit the family tradition

of haters, long held like tarnished

shield, we have only endured by

cutting down those who would harm us

we are warriors without goodness

we fight sometimes because we like

the taste of spilt blood on our sorrowful lips

it is a necessary thing, I realize, that I am the last.

So when you tell me I am kind and good

do not use those platitudes so keenly

nor trust entirely, my motivation

I am every bit as wild as that feral

hungry, you bring in from the cold

who scratches you deeply, first

time you mistakenly take her purr

for pleasured trust

for I

know no such.

Never look back

Amidst worry, distraction, hunger, noise,

there is the brand, the scorch of you

sealing me in wax

pressing me to Florentine paper

sending me by leathered mail

with a longing as woven

as pulp that becomes a letter

writing out felted words

my throat cannot swallow.

The world is burning, in once-removed chaos

I find an unsteady peace, imagining us.

Everything is flammable, people smite each other

with little tools and heavy words

we forget our humanity often

we are caught with our pants down

jacking off to lies & hate in little jars

sometimes it seems the world would fair

better without our penchant for harm

but we subsist, in fragments, shards, pieces

of goodness separated and flung apart.

I should be considering the state of the planet

why it’s searing in October, why people

shoot someone for the color of their skin, how

evil can stand in White Houses and other

necessary questions …

but for this cupped moment, I am idle in my desire to save

not a lack of caring, but rather

the need to step outside the fray and

stand in the rain with you .

The rain here is warm, before we met

I did not know rain could be warm

I lived in a concrete trap with sad faced

buildings that many would give their eye

teeth for and I wished passionately, to escape

from

there was no softness in the city of my birth

no reduction of clamor

we spun like dervish on a wheel

forgetful of what mattered in the perpetual lean

to survive

I am here with you now, although

we are often not together, in my etched soul

you hold me every night and the candle

I placed in my window does not go out

for it burns eternal.

A song will reduce me to tears, driving wet

cheeked and aching for your touch, the surround

of your movement against me, a kiss that consumes

my cold center, turns me to the moon

shining and nude.

We are shimmering fish beneath dark water, finding our way

with our mouths, our fingers, the brail of need

containing sea pearls ready to sacrifice their shell

only you can lift me away from

the sorrows of the world and our many

pitted attempts to remedy what seems to be

our nature

only you can run yourself down my stomach

and opening me like a fan, find within, my

raw chorus

only you, with your pitch eyes and raven heart

can cause me to tumble, weightless over white cliffs

into our own private film

playing the days of our lives, for an empty house

the tick of our time, slowing now.

I should clean my teeth, brush my hair, push my

cuticles back and cross my legs in public, but for

the need to wear no hose, and driving 70mph down

empty streets, push you into me, finding

piano keys beneath our lilting surface.

By day I am a plain-faced woman with

ill-fitting bra and the marks of time sponged

on my face like imprints from a wild cat

who walked over me once, twice, forever

as you pull me from the world with your

electricity and I urge you

implore

to not

to never

look back.

Pirate radio

Totems she left behind

what lost?

What gained?

cinereal clouds pierce cimmerian dusk

your fingers fastening in my hair

we interlaced in one another

le plus vieux pont, la plus jeune émotion

lineament of women,

crossing from mortal to sempiternal

drawing you to me, redolent with love-making

I empty myself inside you, like flowers plucked will dry

and retain their incense

your neck a budding posy of marble obsidian, onyx, malachite, rose quartz

pillowed thighs, yielding beneath entreaty

a woman is nectar, ambrosia, a mist on the breath of dusk

her center a temple to invoke

donne-moi ta soif laissez-moi vous rassasier

entreat the reciting of capture til we ripen into rapture

wordless in renewal you lend me promise,

I bestow the eternal endeavor turning metal dial,

through tempest comes outlying supplication of wireless reverie

Dormir sous les vagues

it’s 1999 again and we’re drying our wet socks on hot radiators,

the tips torn by exertion our fingers

chill-blain, curling mouths open to each other

fais moi pleurer de plaisir like blind seals

dipping beneath ocean coming up for air

as fire crackles across pirate radio wave

We weep with everything but tears

photo of woman wearing nude one piece swimsuit
Photo by Jo Kassis on Pexels.com

Go in good faith

down that charred road

where holy mist

cusps day in feathered glove

the porcelain eyes of hills pay obedience to mauve cloud

trees taller than sound break through

smudges of dream wave in memoriam,  shuttering day

and O

je ne sais pas aimer sans toi. Je ne sais pas comment me passer de toi.

We speak in furled tongues our inner most thoughts

leaving confessionals on mossy rocks and the lay of light rain

full with sleep, the direction lost in tug of war with blackening ice

they slip beneath against hush of snow

covering our tracks with blanched fingers of ice.

We weep with everything but tears.

 

The fixation & the vexation

susan seddon bouletSometimes there is an unbuckling of

temper and fear and loathing

mixed into indigo and strewn

in furied air

we pick it up as

a smell long forgotten

taps long dormant senses

and despite the years, regain

a moment mislaid

your arms doused with powder

glittering like another being, turning,

you, spectral and otherworldly

an afterglow of fiesta, a street

littered with signs of party goers

their tossed colors, a mélange of remembrance

we grind and mash and rearrange

clothes strewn in multi color love letters

on unpolished floor

seeking to find in electrified connection

that dizzying light

buoying briefly from surface

telling of depths few venture

where usually we rest, bobbing and sailing

absent of passion, thinking like the face of a clock

about slow steady movement, predictable pauses

spasms only in the imagination

or when a familiar song stirs a disquiet

whilst below, in regions beneath our reach

gained access through mutual need

briefly like the flick of a match

sets sulphur stalking cold corridors

only there, unbeknownst to the world

and her grave tick-tock visage

we earn closer, sloughing skin, molecules

separating individuals, ages, castles, skies

until on the windswept summit we fall

clutching each other in entreaty and relief

fading from sight, resisting wholeness

becoming starlight

only then, your damp hand caught

somewhere inside me, my bruised

lips smarting with the pressure of

cascading into earths center

do we know a place that is only ours

where we are pre-Denisovan and

holy, beneath the candle of a human’s

little watched life

that shallow wick, curved in entreaty

for meaning, for Gods, for monsters

and your rounding stomach, wet with tears

salt and oxygen and loss like a tableau

of everything, a table set for two

we sit obedient and fatigued

the lines of us, drawn before we arrive

breaking outside the cast, little cracks

small fizzures

with the fixation and vexation

of mortal love.

The Late Colonialist

rochaMany years ago when her ancestors wore

petticoats

white skinned women like herself were considered

in shallow groups of weak-chinned groups

the ultimate prize.

She recalls the stories she’s read

racism tied with a daggered bow

servants without souls or so

they liked to judge and damn

whilst still they raped and plundered behind

their wives fine china sets

the ‘help’ though slavery is more accurate a term

for no choice was made nor proffered.

Years ago and still present

people swerve away from black men

in hooded tops

when really they ought to be looking at

white men in high rise buildings making

corporate decisions

as the enemy of us all.

She looks in the tall mirror, her hand on a DNA report

the wonders of 21st century finding out too much

seeing her ancestors gallop

through the thick red wine of French blood

how much do they have on their hands?

What side on the Revolution did they stand?

She sees how fair skin is more prone

to stretch marks and ageing

she carries hereditary thrombosis throbbing in

her thin veins and the genes of her light colored

eyes have cataracts to look forward to.

At least she doesn’t have Celiac Disease

roiling in her belly, rebelling against

the abundant wheat field

instead she realizes

she is alive in the wrong colored body, in a too late era

to matter much anymore

where now women of ebony and brown and russet

conquer the rhetoric in their claim

finally the prize after decades of denial and she

ordinary, flab, drab, pale, wane, yesterday’s news

they say it really isn’t about that

when they pass her over for someone from

Uganda or Iran but she knows better

Kardashian or Iman Bowie

she knows the enticement of dark eyed girls

their thick hair and beautiful skin

she is just a late magnolia weeping

waxy and left too long on the branch

maybe she is paying for what ancestral harm

was done

back then and still now, depending on what

part of town.

Men tell her; I like your slim ankles

you look fetching in that blue dress

but their eyes betray their digression

it is not her they will ever want

she has nothing of the difference they crave

imbued with rainbow continent

spiced with unknowns and becomings

the raven always the raven, ever the ebon bird

who with her glorious chiseled features

captures their unfurling lust.

She is relieved in a way

nobody comes calling for her

existing behind glass in her pressed skirts

although still young, she feels she has

lived too long and it is better

in the vapor of silence

watching her reflection get lost

in the setting of the sun

over Africa’s

weeping trees whispering karma

to turquoise and orange

land.

I cannot, you see

person holding black and green bird
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite

What if she’s me? The woman screaming without reprieve?

And what if she’s you? The body beneath the sheets lifted by strangers?

Every time the phone rings, I see in my minds eye, your prone form

fallen, or hurt, somehow

this fear I inhabit is years in coming

your fragility creeps up on us like a wettened shroud

once so strong, you’d take me in your bronze arms and

press me to you where the sound of your powerful

heart beat assured me nothing would erase or remove

your certainty

then the sick hiss and whisker of machines

a tube down your throat, a glazed look, no recognition

slack hand filled with needles, empty eyes void of life

I felt you moving away even as you stayed

gone and still there

a stranger in your face, your expressions glazed

even the taste of your lips changed

as if blistering over from sudden Winter storm.

As time ticks down, we look up

to salvation, prayer and hope when

maybe nobody listens

I stand over you as you sleep

your little bluebird chest rising in dream

I want to

climb on the bed and laugh as once we did

curling around each other in chased game

oh so much joy in one shared heart

when i was your girl and you were my

evening rose

now the dust has settled and we still

scattered pictures, cannot see clearly

all around are shadows and shorn warnings

easy to lose ourselves in fears glory

like gathering a bird who has fallen from glass

stunned and dying pressed in our hands

death on us now, like unsought reflection

glinting, glinting, glinting.

I miss you, the you I knew

better than I know myself

who would turn in her sleep and

touch me without waking

such was our eternal fuse

one into the other, no boundaries

and time is a fickle fellow

taking you and keeping you sickened

welded to pills and paper casts of closed theatres

we stand apart, at times nearly severed

I would sacrifice all to make you well

but i have given everything i know

it is clear we go in different directions

one is the end and you drift like

wind on frigid water

while i continue to swim upstream

i cannot, you see

let go

your bright feathers dull

and still i look up

when birds fly into glass

SMITTEN

For the sake of SMITTEN, a project I believe in more than anything I have ever done before, I have asked close friends to take over my social media rather than close it down, so that SMITTEN can continue to flourish and succeed.

In my absence, due to my severe eye-sight-issues, my friends will be running the SMITTEN Facebook page and all SMITTEN related materials. Our goal is to ensure SMITTEN is successful in all ways. Sales are one way of legitimizing a project and ensuring its authors are HEARD.

Obviously LGBTQ projects are harder to sell than others, but it is my hope SMITTEN can continue its success through the rousing support of all those who believe in LGBTQ equality and the rights a woman has to love another woman. Please consider supporting SMITTEN – each sale helps raise visibility and gives SMITTEN authors another opportunity to share their unique and beautiful voices.

SMITTEN news and updates can be found here

SMITTEN is for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you support local bookstores please ask them to stock SMITTEN using Ingram. If you cannot afford a Kindle copy or hard copy please ask your local library to get a copy of SMITTEN via Ingram. It doesn’t take much and it means everything to the 120 authors and poets of SMITTEN. Indie publishing doesn’t flourish without our support as a community!

In amber

You, unmaker of peace, wear your hat jauntily to the side

a dandy at appearances

i am incapable of wiping the smudge of regret

away in time, before

everyone sees my imbalance and points with

blunt, corrective finger—

there she is, she’s deranged with grief

surely torn mad

not yet. Maybe sometimes. In the damaged fur, just a bit…

this lingering thing called hurt

a purple tie around my neck and I hide my succulent scabs

behind silk blush, with the covet of a lover

and you? You are the abuser who with

toothpick, flicks detris from your life as

effortlessly as anyone without conscience knows

how to polish their shoes with another man’s shine

sometimes I want to cut your throat

with a very fine Japanese knife, I keep unused

in my emotional closet and other days I want

to use it on myself, such is the pendulate swing

and thumbless gait of grief, a sifting vignette of those in our photo albums

who smile, so convinced of a radiance. The other

day I thought of your determine, growing like wan poppy from souless sidewalk

thin feet, high hips, impossible secrets braided deep into tangled weft of your hair

eyes closed from me, turning in simmering amusement, some unheard world beyond blunder

like a tuning fork set high, your mavidad, a seekers entreaty, the

sea pearls of your hope sewn tight in seemingly empty pockets

if we drowned, you’d die rich and I’d float to gulp the waste of dreams

frothing there among the manifold immensity

it takes just one word, the swallow of truism and fakery, a broken pendant, emptied bequeathment, the ransack of joy

to master stoism and a stomach able to survive the pitch and vinegar of disappointment

in my head I hear your voice, its fine timber cresting Finnish land

and

I am the sot

gathered for wedding and funeral

spun into skin

held close and released

breathe me out

let me loose

where undertow has no purchase

to be weightless and the insubstantial

a feeling, a letter, washed clear of intent

just the impression remaining

something I left behind

in amber