From the outskirts of safety

A child whose concave chest was already filled with debris

had been told she contained no worth

that child grew up soon enough to an adult with

penchant for self-hatred and did not master, necessary ladders and confidence

she could observe herself holding back, broken pieces unformed and bad

not supporting a part of her who wished to climb

and believe those good things to try her hardest

she saw others with so much faith and belief

light footed reach their goals and she saw the disappointment in others eyes when her own

efforts were hardly made

she left really, no significant imprint

of course, because of this, she became a poet

and that poet, if you can call someone who simply writes

such a thing

I would argue, it takes more than writing poetry to be a poet but that is another story …

had become lost in her years of wandering, to the point where

looking in the mirror she did not see herself anymore, but a shadow

perhaps a wraith or something strange, replacing whom she’d seen

as a child when there were posibilities and futures worthy of reaching

these years later, she stares at the shapes in her face

the ancestry printed there like leopard skin

where her mother changes to her grandmother and her father

and back again

and in this face she sees the excuses and the weak blood

of people she knew and loved and she sees the strength and the fire

of which she has none, as if she caught a glimpse of who she could have favored

and then it was removed, blotted out in a great gush of time and immobility

a few years ago she had suffered under an illusion of being on the cusp of something, finally

after years of working toward it, many hours, lost in pursuit

for a time it helped her to believe she was about to reach this new dawn

until like all the other times, she’d hoped, it was revealed to be no more than potent delusion

and that feeling, when you take the canvas off the future and find

nothing there but the madness of bewitched fantasy

in the hands of one who has become old and wretched in her walk

and you turn around and nobody is there anymore

only the echoes of those who told you, turn away, choose a different path

she would have spoken to her mother and said; You were right …

all the hate you felt, all the bitterness and disappointment, you were right

I did not amount of anything and whilst love should not be based upon

such things, I can see why I held nothing for you, but a wish to remove

my existence from your timeline and walk alone without reminder

of someone you birthed, who gave you only regrets

if you think I do not understand and only feel anger, you are wrong

when you left, I only hated myself and this is how I have always been

hating myself for existing and the way I am

from the time I can recall, I did not fit or understand

it was as if I had only foolishness as my guide and could not

make the right decisions, I longed then to be loved and to take away

the pain I felt ever present in myself like a badly mixed cake

will not rise.

I dreamed then of finding somewhere to be, a place to belong

where being me would feel right and you didn’t lie when you said

I pretended to be anything but myself, in such savage, unrelenting self-hated

I’m sorry what came from you turned into me.

All this is true and now, when it’s all been stripped down

and I stood unable to see, losing my eyesight, losing my courage and my clamor

to a wasting disease that refuses to leave my side

I begged for loyalty and it came, curling itself

around my useless frame until I hardly knew where

I began and it left, in that savage garden

where roses did not bloom and birds did not sing

I flung the doors of the asylum open and asked

what do I learn from standing on this presipice?

where would you have me go? When I never belong

and my trudge through life thus far has been without sense

it has added to the waste I felt about it all, and a long history

of dreamers who end their dreaming in front of walls

staring at bricks thinking something should surely

transform

no, no we are who we are and though we may run and hide

change ourseles and pretend to be what we desired

the truth cannot be avoided, a price is always exorted

I lost those I loved most

I lost the belief I could be loved

the safety we take for granted as children

my invulnerability struck out and destroyed

I knew my own mortality as clear as day

the rent of owing for our lives, that fragile place

where in an instant, all is lost

I never returned from that shore

I am still there, staring at mellow, sinking sun

and my own diminishment

for now I know my end and the dimming of time

I see in this act, the way of things, finally

how easily we fall and cannot get up

the temper of illness refusing to move on

polluting what we once took for granted

and gone is the boon of youth and health

all we believed fervently in

the promises of others, to never leave our side

THEY LIED

now we are alone in that echoing dark place

count the broken vows, the ruined trust

it falls like toxic rain

reminding me of nothing and everything and emptiness

a weak part of me wishes to reach out and cry

don’t, please don’t

but I know the permanancy of fate

where I have led myself in circles, ever diminishing

it comes as no surprise, in a funny way

for all the hard work and the devotion

I was as blind, as I was unseeing

perhaps from the start, born inside out

where everything I felt too much and not enough

my memory fades along with my sight

the thunder in my heart feels like horses are breaking me beneath their hooves

again and again, with each returning gallop

that pain is the only thing, I know will stay

as it was then, in my little room with teddies and demons

where first I felt the fear and the unknown

creep toward me from the outskirts of safety

and this time, I hear my grandmothers voice

she tries to reassure me, all will be well but

she lied then, as she lies now

and all that stands outside is the darkness of coal and memories

and all who comes for me now are the shadows and enemies

for I have passed over to a wasteland of regret

even my words are turning to dust

even my sense has fled

I expect the last thought I will have

as I sink underground, feeling grit in my mouth

is the memory of your kiss and how

for just, that one moment, I believed

this was not my hollow passage

sometimes what you loved the most

is that which kills you cold

for the reflection of it is like a moon

in a dark place

taunting the prisoner

in her opulescence

oh how I hate to know

the lines and whorls of my life like a palm

stretching their futile trajectories like dying stars

wishing never to have been born

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Faith

My love

it is so hard to keep

faith

with every day there are changing shades from day to night

sometimes I am comforted by fireflies and evening moth

who dual beyond the porch, betrayed by flicker and swat

I imagine the patterns of her wings, that magic sting of light

so short their lives compared to ours, so rich and meaningful I would infer

sometimes it is the exclusion of pain gives me rest

when I can at last unroll my carpet and forget

carrying the weight all day, a vase of ache absent of flower

to place this nowhere and have it melt away

I lie in the bath and heady steam dissipates reality

in those musings there is only the delight of a girl

seeking her passion in lingered meandered imagining

and you come to me, full of health and unharmed yet

by cruel flint and staunch of your absent conscience

and you lay me down and make of me what you will

a thousand pieces of me broken and rebuilt

which I give with my all, for you were and you remain still

far more than sense can convey

in the hour of day when dreams are gone to sleep

I see the cruelty of your take and take and take

the hunger of your keep and how I was but a thing, in your

cabinet of curiosities to be taken out and squeezed when you

thirsted or when times were hard and you needed the succor of

kindness to tuck you in, nothing of you was sincere or loving

all that I held dear possessed the sound of my own breaking

it was as if I had become pupil to mistreatment

learned many times on illiterate whip of inheritance

children soon become acquiescent to disregard

I didn’t know how to be worthy and you took my pain

pinned it to a velvet card and called me Opodiphthera Eucalypti

my blush and powder, the soft rubbed fur and bleed of color

round and round my pattern and maze, sucking from thistle

the gypsy without, I live in silk and attraction to light

pollinating only the fruit of predators like yourself

as you pinch my wings with your greed and whisper

my lunar, my atlas, spin your silken web across my longing

for I have never learned my worth and you wish to

gobble on my spirit as you may an Autumn apple

the fragrance of your dissection

my love

it is too easy

to stay my life in wait of your call

watching others continue onward and myself find

nothing but the covet and anguish of a prisoner

if I had the strength to

I’d hurl myself against the glass

leaving a smudge of myself in technicolor

for children to press their noses against and wonder

oh what ever life could make such a kaleidoscope

and in these mixings of burning and yearning

parched by want and crushed to nothing

the dancer emerges broken and fragmented

to spirit into night her ether and the longing

she is free of her torment and bound to the wax and wane

of one who has rubbed against and been caught by

a terrible rope, woven with obsidian, the shade of pain

my love

it is too hard to remain

faithful

to your brand of hurt

and live in dying with every pursuit

I have long imagined I am already prepared

for the hour, the moment, pain exceeds its curse

and slipping like oil and water and vinegar bound

we change from solid to infinity and beyond

where only the stain of who we were and what we bore

that burning need to consume, that hunger for

all the poison within your sickening and how

never did you rest until the very perish was wrought

standing still like a girl reaching for

something invisible

my love

it is the fresh unopened rose

and her tightly closed promise

shall see tomorrow and claim

the glory

for I will not be there to witness

this new day and those trespasses for this comforts

me in such a depth as if every kind of anguish

were salved by the knowledge this too shall end

and you will dissolve in time

beyond the fragment of what has been

into the very air like things we cannot yet see

whirling and catching the air in relief

for moths have never lived long enough it seems

to know their beauty and how it is

for us who live sometimes too long

and rise to see another day, alone

Shadowlands

Sorry for the fade in my voice

but I’m not really here

I’m standing with you, among the fir trees

watching mango sun pray her rays

there is a voice in the air

singing a song of us

I was, I am, entire when

you are with me

I am, I was, whole when

you exist

we are together even as we are not

I am on my own again and you are

rounding the corner coming into view

it is our destiny to be pushed and pulled

like dancers from a stage

where the lights have of them, made

a kind of madness

you stand being absorbed by my

attention

it never waivered

you called me a laughing girl and

I put a gold chain around my waist

and told you, this is your chain you can

pull whenever you need me

the chain broke

the tree dropped its lemons and froze last Winter past

and you lie in my bed

with your caramel and your velvet

I dance for you

I open the curtains

and we set fire to the street

with our cries

i’ve got my mind fastened on you

play another record

don’t stop now

there’s the rest of our memories

to repeat

before the day is dark

and you have turned again
to shadow

The affiliate of memory

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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

First & last

s-l1600

“Everybody’s talkin bout it
Only the echoes of their mind                                                                                                           I’m going where the sun keeps shining. Through the pouring rain”                                               Nilsson (from the incredible film, Midnight Cowboy)

 

The ghosts

in blue mountain mist

when early morning

without mask of sleep

hiking the trail

moss, lichen, turning with seasons

from brown to red

snails leave their silver lines

bugs shed wings and legs

all becomes humus and is recycled

air remains still, days elongated

the stone in the field

is in the memories of many

who use it as their gravitation

where they first kissed, sitting atop the world

thinking themselves the only ones

when it is the stone, smooth with wear

coarse with textures varied

who gives them their fantasies

pearlescent when wet, like the moon

nestled in long grass

its reflection held against sky

I hear birds waking

crying to an unforgiving bird god

their beaked woes and delights

and the worm waits for false patter

to rise and be consumed

a ritual, as anything

the dust of ceremony, rising and falling

jewels encrusted in boulders

black earth laying deep and gaping

as open-mouthed children

stare at bewitching cloud formation

and wish to inherit the future

as their parents

dream of retracing

the lowing

of their former lots

The ghosts

in blue mountain mist

when early morning

without mask of sleep

I feel your absence like

blunt knife run along my spine

in the fallow chapbook of my heart

quivering her spent arrows

as I strain my neck in search

of ways to forget

the goats and sheep remain

black and white finger paint against

yellowed grass coarse as raw silk

a sharp outline of grief blurs

the edges of what I see

where you have all

gone

your lives full

and mine empty with echo

I think if I can ever reach the feeling

maybe I’ll join you

where it glitters and preens

like a girl catching herself

in shining mirror of

first times

Grace

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If I am anything at all

I am yours

as the sun seeks the center of day to roar her rays

and sake world in golden waves

as earth breaks apart and mountains form

beneath water like temples surge

as your eyes hold me in their sway

the black of them, the holy place

as life lives beneath my skin

only when you seem to exist

there are times

captured and lost

never truly revealed

beyond our understanding

a chime of circumstance and gods

you are the priest to my implore

a song sung in aching hour

the fingers I let loose my soul

you are my gravity

you with your violet and your indigo

soul

there are places so beautiful my breath is stole

yet nothing, nothing, nothing I have beheld

can take the place of you in my heart

you are the missing part

you are the beginning and the circumference

even as I feel your knife

I cleave that much closer

it is my ritual to seek only

that place I call home within your own

we came from the same place in time

I was born of your need to be eternal

without proof of life

I exist and I perish

upon your word

you, the one I turn

you, the birth of me

you, the missing link

you, the key I wear

around my being

let me or deny me

I seek despite myself just one

who will never diminish nor could be

equalled in my heart

for some of us are old fashioned in devotion

a thorn could not penetrate more

that sea within me carrying your salt

if stained glass were more radiant

if storms could pulse with pinkening lore

if the world could find words for such things

I would still be

bare foot running the long mile separating now and then

then when you were my everything

now in the absence of peace

hither no meaning made itself known

for only in your arms I know

that steady belief and spiritual home

strike me dead the day I quit my faith

you are my goodness, you are

my grace