Voyager

I woke up and I wasn’t, me anymore

I had the emaciated body of someone starving on a full belly

Of a broken promise, shaped like a hennaed woman

I took off my wig, spectacles, teeth

And the skin child stood empied beneath quizzical stares

Tested for her taint

The diagnosis throttled me

Nymphs in weeds

The uncertainty held me down

Poisoning in vogue

The loss sat like a stuffed bear

Snarling without glee

The smell of bonfire on my skirt

Mud beneath my eyelids caking sight

So many labels, sticky to the touch

Like toffee left to run, patching over who I would have become

If warm nightmares hadn’t stirred

An unease as vigilant as a curse

Wondering, whether to unlearn

Bravery, a tarnished metal band

Playing for the hard of hearing 

How to train a slack horse

To regain the urge to bolt from his stall

As sleek as otter, sweat steaming in fridgid air

Beseachment riding, her violin back

From small things can come great change

Tamarind stains mandala, winking in the earth’s center

Bend to listen, hear the wet hoofs thunder and grind to dust

Those somber things of past

Where tensed against expectation

Rain poured like a singular thought

Blotting out sound with puckered mouth

In carousel prayers, lie the warm seed with violet heart

Whosoever nurtures patience, may again discover

As from frost comes first flower, urging from dormant

The spring of hope, pure and boyant as you recalled

Returning home after passage through hell

See the signs and wonder, when before you missed out

From nothing comes Renewal, staining her skirts in dew

Unafraid of the unknown, a journey we grow into

Chasing nothing but the feeling of sun, filigree elm branches

Now free of the weight of snow, rosey buds unfurled and supplicate

As we divine beneath, with grateful hearts

Voyager of ourselves and the might of stars

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Something we used to be

When snowflakes melt

They melt from the outside, in

When people dissolve

They dissolve from the inside, out

You may not even know

That person standing next to you on the bus

Has nothing inside but icing

We are, after all, consummate sleepwalkers

And act, as if we wrap up everything, it will thaw

Even as the emptying of layers reveals it was 

Only shadow muffled

Something we used to be 

Before it became too hard

And the deception

Feels like a fickle lover, you can’t quit

A lung full of poisoning

A bed without dreamers

Only then the clock reveals

All its missing time

You spent putting bows on hollow boxes, with empty routines and unpolished shoes

When you could have been

Watching snow fall

Like a blanketed mirror of another world

Where you didn’t cut your finger on fears edge

And slip unconscious into hedging your bets

Where you found your long lost mittens and hat

Red against virgin snow, sledding almost vertical

We choose our closed doors with care

Would that we gave such attention to those standing slightly open

Offering a way to cut through resisting ice

Restoring wonderment 

The necessity of being

Men came out

Women emerged

No children

The children were gone

What happened the first month?

Outside bars and cement

Away from gas chamber

When legs and arms, mere bone

Unshackled could move once more

How

Did you pick up your lives then?

Learn the grace of living 

No one has ever said

Something so horrific cannot be vented

It can only transform into fire

from survival we are born, once more

A second life

Not a child, not young

Nor unscathed, but covered in scars

They are our metal, winking silver and rose 

We do not stand in new bones

But those that know the feeling of kneeling

Begging for the end to come

And when it did not

When we survived

Despite their best attempt to smother

It is a land of ash and terror 

To navigate and put back together

Those shattered pieces of self 

Willing meaning from devestation

How? 

With the blood of ancestors, fresh

Seeing them led to their deaths

Courage in silence, in suffering

How?

When nothing is left but the last straw 

And it erupts into flame, burning everything you were

How?

Do you design again a day, a week, a year?

With a face enured by fear

Used to screaming in the dark

How?

To go past the horror and walk into a new life?

We do it by taking the broken pieces of us

Head in the oven, wrists slashed in bathroom

Pill bottles strewn about like flotsum

All our aborted attempts to shut the terror out

We take the gore and the furnace

The golem and the hangman

In our minds eye we stand among graves

Tasting human ash whilst behind us chambers cough out families

And if that doesn’t kill us 

Nothing ever will

Because when you stand on the far side of fear

Your heart extinguished and cold, a lifeless thing

There is only survival

We are the feral leftovers

We rebuilt ourselves from nothing 

Like from clay we came, so again, a second coming

To defy the proximity of evil

We are the ones who refused to cease

Standing when nothing held us up

But the necessity of being

(For all who perished in the death camps and all who survived.)

Inheriting the wind


Confessional poets

Are thought of in the feminine perjorative

Ironically men 

Confess their camoflage

When calling their characters Hank

That’s for you … Mr blowhard Bukowski

Or Billy Childish, nuff said, I suspect

Whilst this Plath enigma, I doubt shall ever be cracked

Anymore than the grey stones weighting sweater

Sexton either, what beautiful ankles and rouged lips

Even as she slipped, beneath the veil of sanity

Like a greyhound needing to outrun, even itself

Madness grows peacock feathers for weeds

Just another error in a misguided map

Thinking women lesser, colinders of experience

If I’d been a man I’d have 

Grown my hair like a mane

Been kind to my daughters

And changed the notion of authority

For my words would be exclaimed intensely feminine

Applauded for

A man having been 

A better woman

Like Bono and his award 

We give ourselves away

By the bouquet full

Whatever happened

To women inheriting the wind?

Constancy

Oft maligned

Great virtues found

In the small

Not opening a wallet

Nor showy endeavor

But quiet, steadying

Loyalty

Found like a blue nest

In a grey forest

Constancy

Is a clear bell

Ringing when others have only

Tooted their own horn

She waits

After the herd have had their say

And empty promises lift their helium mouths

To the great void

She stays

When it would be easier to flee

Safer to avoid

Quicker to cut off

And I was your constant

That is why you loved me so much

Though you didn’t recognize the steps

We both took

When it came time

For my turn

You bared your teeth

And took a portion of me

Breaking trust like

Water can never be held

In cupped hands

You slipped

Grateful for escape

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

Purple


Where did you learn

Your need to pull 

Away?

Burying truth behind

A visage of clay

And where did you start

Believing distance was safe?

Or ice over warm, each time you’d take?

I wished I met you

Before

You learned in reverse

Drove with eyes closed

Radio tuned to conflict and silence

If I had the power

I’d rewind you

Like a China doll

Breakable and yet

How hard your ceramic stare

You penetrate any pretense

Even as you hold your own secrets

Tighter than a rubber band

Turning pinky swear

Purple