I wish I had been with you whilst you wandered around town alone in the rain today

I wish like

when we were girls

joined at the hip

possessing no cushion

to walk in your stead

same shoes, same size, different spread

yours narrow and delicate

mine bashed and mangled from running

we were used to walking alone in the rain

until we showed up for each other

I recall

how your neck always seemed long even as

neither of us are tall

perhaps the slope of your shoulders or the arch of your clavical

there are illusions and striations even in similars

this we discovered

you could roll a better joint in the dark

and I could stand on my hands and walk – unguided

the carnival rat and the singing mermaid

we grew up on French movies, smoking in the back seats

oblivious to the risk

of feeling everything

and now you are in another country, as am I

two foreign girls without roots trying to get by

I think of you as I think of my reflection and

if I had a sister, if I had a wife, if I had a child

all those emotions and more, embroiled in your fur

like the fox in the dawn

barking sharp and clear

I see you – a red flash – a dart of color against fog

thinking of all the songs we heard and made our own

you possess the key to my memories and my home

as if you were a bee, building a wax nest in a clarinet

you are 17 and your legs remind me of a colt

lean and muscled with no fat, you stand sharp against the ocean

spinning stories of Irish and Welsh, dreams in technicolor

something about your eyes

something in the way you fight without fighting

a strength beneath the quiet

like waves over waves over mouths

I cycled to your flat and we read feminist literature by candle light

those were the times when everything began

and now again we stop and start

clocks without hands without purpose

sometimes it feels like

there’s only the part where we wind and wind up

to no future

and then it begins over

the dance and the memories

unwinding like skirts of sand and ocean

I think of all the places you have seen without me

and how building a life apart we drift like sea weed

I don’t want to lose the link

the key, the way you fit in my heart like

a shell and I can

always hear the sound of waves

in your skirts as you bow your head

and we trip over ourselves to find

that moment of joy

among all the hurt

that’s how you know when you have

an imprint of someone else in your soul

carried on my back, in my chest

like a favorite toy or something deeper

a chant, a eulogy, a suspension of reality

that fusing of one with another over space and creation

when did it begin and when did it become

the stallegmite within me

with your hands encircled

I hear your voice as my own

sister, lover, mother, daughter, woman

the girl with sea in her eyes

I yearn for you

crossing places alone

walking streets without

my heart hurts to think

of us apart, separate, living despite

some of us should be together

I hear you say

yes

like she would say

like the song of songs

and you know, yes,

you have always

known

The huntress

yes

She

knows her power

heaving out of her like

red clay forming stars

the power it has on

those who watch

unable to quit her

imperfection as much an aphrodisiac

as those fine lines converging into

her thin bones

drawn tight and ageless

she smiles a drowsy grin

down turned eyes glinting

the thin shake of her hair

sharp curve in high cheeks

noble and unrepentant

she has more confidence than you

with your excuses and your fumblings

could ever possess

if she’d taught you, she’d have said

no, no, no you’re doing it all wrong

if you want that woman to like you

be cold, be indifferent

and occasionally, throw her a scrap

don’t ever show her your full regard or

the depth of your eyes

heft her over your shoulder when the time comes

take her to a dark place and without apology

do what you must, thinking nothing of her

she’ll be crazy for you and that’s how it’s done

you know that’s so, because you’ve seen it

every weak knee’d soul who begs for her

underestimates her lash

only small, seemingly weak

her fierce nature, a molten thing

she has them on their damn knees

it’s not even a look, a word, a sign

it’s the power exuding from her focus

she believes in herself totally and knows

if she slips even a little, they’ll eat her for dinner

feast on her failure like the hungry things they are

I want to be like her one day

I can wear short skirts nearly as well

but as she tutors me in the act I know

it’s a parody, a puppet act compared to her art

I may look the part, even when drunk

act a little like her

but she’s used to the taste of blood

and I don’t know how to eat it raw

sometimes I think of her and why

she’s the kind who defies all the rules

charging that opposites

and only opposites must attract

when she could be my cousin and yet

I want her, despite myself

I want her to want me and that’s the rub

she wants nothing of anyone and never will

hers is an icy indifference

cool queen of thorns and calm

she controls the game, for it is a game

by moving through this life without letting yourself slip

requires poise and balance only artists of the tightrope possess

I am filled with trembling emotions

impossible to blot out or walk in a straight line for

I see my error in my every move

she wasn’t interested, because she saw me coming a mile off

an unsteady shadow cast on her savvy wall

canny enough to smell, the scent of desperation on my breath

I learned from the huntress

and failed my exam

she makes mouths turn dry and water

by just being everything we cannot

remorseless, pitiless, without guile or guilt

somewhere inside of her there is a girl

we want so badly to take as our own

if only for an hour

and without seeming to try

she holds herself apart, unreachable

closes each desire with her little hands

gazing into our disappointment

with a small smile

there is a sadness in her winning

it shows in the day time

when the light hits her eyes and they

despite their great beauty

look ancient

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

Still water

It’s not the point or purpose

Making yourself in the image of

Something temporal

Perfect lives

In the ragged hem

Not the seamstress who knows by default

The straight line

We are

Twice turned around the earth

From that first time

I beheld you then

As I saw my own reflection

And all that was lost within me

Fell away as debris

A shining soul

So often tormented by the world’s love

Of tarnish

Easily we fell again and again

Against sharp corners and places unfit

Only in the surround of one another

A measure of peace

Never something easy to describe

To others it may appear

Dull and ordinary

Not worth adjective

And as I hold you near me in blackening night

Feeling age settle like freed dust

The ache of what could have been and what was not

Has less power in this soft reverie

Where consolidation is a tired but gentle thought

So different from that tight umbelical youth

Lost in the still of an eternal motion

If I could

Reach back

Change or alter

Our trajectory

I may have asked

The stars to divine

An altered course

Only to bring us closer

Till nothing

Not even the barrier of our separate being

Could thwart the hope

We are all and one

Spinning in silver threads

Through time

And memory

As lights catch

Like glass

On still water

As love settled and stayed

Forever

New face

close up colors female flower
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Good girls don’t spill the skinny

spit, instead of swallow

extinction demands a pound of flesh

leap from windows, arms akimbo, preferring air to cubicle hollow

good girls don’t defecate, chew with mouth open, scratch, pick, pull apart

rotting articulate

good girls make breakfast constipated, and suck your morning off just right, handing you the Listerine

good girls pretend tight jeans are comfy, Baise-moi against a public lavatory is joy, and you look tasty at 6am

good girls close the door when you leave for work and remove their good faces

unravel the facade like a guerilla loads guns

hiding disappointment along with amphetamine trace

a sound like the whisper before fire starts

 

A last look around your voided heart

that’s where I marked the days with ink

that’s where I lost a virgin’s dream

he’s you and he’s me and he’s the girl who said she wouldn’t repeat history

and they’re all up there on your shelf of ex-lovers, plastic Golems in caliph

i’m the dumb fuck who gave them the stage, hot lights, ravenous applause, hymens shores

(it was rather funny to pretend several times to lose the same thing, easy to bleed when you clench your teeth)

you made your bed, she lights a match

pours diesel cocktail, nitro swath

goodbyes are for survivors, with swivel grace

stepping ash into ash, Dormez bien

emptied years, new face.

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SMITTEN authors share their favorite poems in SMITTEN – Lynne Burnett

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So far, my favourite poem is by Jennifer Mathews: “What He Gave Away” on page 75/77 (depending on your version). It’s an honest narrative with a light touch, grounded in good childhood memories about her grandfather and then the reality of her grownup life and love, apparently at odds with him (‘Four years since I’ve been told not to visit”).

What’s difficult for some families to address or acknowledge tends to erase the person they loved from their minds – until, as in the poem, she shows up unexpectedly and can relate face to face with her grandparents, who actually welcome her back into their lives.

This situation is relatable and Jennifer’s grandfather is entirely believeable (and humourous) and the poem, with just the right amount of earthy detail and voice, ends on such a lovely, redeeming note (“I am back in the family”).

And it’s interesting to me too that the grandfather’s gifts of imperfect fruit, stale bread, wilting flowers suggest he’s able finally to take his granddaughter back into his heart exactly as she is, as we all are—perfect in our imperfections.

By Lynne Burnett.

Lynne Burnett is a SMITTEN author and published Poet and Writer. You can purchase her collection of poetry, IRRESISTIBLE, here. Lynne’s poetry website is https://lynneburnett.ca/

To read more SMITTEN poets purchase a copy in time for the holidays and share this incredible project with someone you love. SMITTEN is available via Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Ingram for any independent bookstore. Consider supporting SMITTEN each purchase COUNTS and lifts up the visibility of 120 incredibly talented poets and artists who created this beautiful collection of poetry and art.