Encroachment

You saw your disintegration

In the shrouded reflection of a store window

Already losing custom

And for years prior

Women adjusted hose and children’s grubby faces wiped

In that smeared glass

It held

Decades

Like high cheekbones

Will shore up time in a beautiful face

I saw my eyes fail me

In the encroachment

Of some uninvited color

As if the sun

Greedy for attention

Had left a permanent marker
The doctor

With his accentless voice

And starched finger tips

Probing my retina

For answers like a tarot card reader

Will shuffle and cut her deck

Declared me blemished

Stained by time

Imperfect

Possibly going blind, wrapped in news print

And I laughed

The same laugh my grandma had

When terrible news was delivered

Along with cold dishes and

Empty seats where once our ancestors sat

Filling the roost of our quaking bones

Marking time and Advent

She would raise a thin lipped glass

Of “this n’ that”

To Gods and Monsters

To Plato, Communism and Woody Allen (before we knew we was a paedophile)

There should be a preface to every memory

She said; toasting velvetine shadows

Swilling away the horror

Like a rinsed mouth will always be

More kissable

And come New Year’s Eve

We’ll forget our enemies and join shoulders

Kicking our long legs into space to the chime of twelve

Not yet knowing

What will become if those flung into the future

To forge ahead alone

Unsupported in ancestry

Just the sound of voices

A snatch of tune

The smell of half finished dinner, paused forks suspended in song

Stewing pears over cheap white wine

Her hands red like mine

From scrubbing too hard

That blemish

It won’t come out

So it sinks

Orange streaks of sunlight beneath green orbit

And a stranger in a bar once remarked;

You have gorgeous eyes like they came from the depth of sea

All green and lost

And I think of loss

A stray button, a missed appointment

Maybe I won’t return

To the doctor who found my stigmata

Bleeding like a fish cut on rocks

Into the very bones of earth

See? I don’t anymore, my eyes look inward

In the old days we toasted with pink cut glass

It was all anyone could afford

And I remind my American friends of this

Poverty after the war

A tendency to never feel

Safe

Like city foxes

Scour

Empty streets

For scraps

And squint

At the harsh glare of street lamps

Attracting insects

Bleached yellow

By the piercing quality

Of their intent

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

December

The bells of the church rung

He said it’s why he didn’t turn back

That and blossom in the thimbling trees so early

He believed in signs and symbols, so did I

Before I was grown and knew the torn things inside

He was the boy who learned on me

I gave what I could, but kept two things to myself

My secret was, I wanted a child

My sin was, letting him take you back

Standing fighting at the top of his marble stairwell

Smelling of his mother’s perfume and congealed cough sweets

I saw myself falling, pinwheel, before he cast me down

The imprint of his reedy hands, a daisy chain around pale throat

His child in my swelling belly, with eyes the color of regret

He said it was an accident, I felt his hate as I lost my balance

Jabbing me in the back with whisper and sharp intention

Get it out, get it out, get it out

He didn’t know the truth of us, my child and I

She wore silver bells around her neck

And in his mother’s sea blue bathroom of mirrors

I stood watching the rapture of your being, take me over

And in the night, your father tried to tear you gone

With his thrusts into me like a spear and a blunt knife

Still my child you held on

Staring through my eyes at me when we were alone

I could hear everyone’s comments before they spoke

If you have that man’s baby, you’ll be shunned

And alone was really alone. Still I thought

I am not a warrior, but I would fight for you, daughter

Quickening in me like a secret slipstream of language

I felt our connection, you were more than blood and sinew

I watched my burgeoning figure, as I removed my clothes

Thin and narrow, except where you were taking form

Stepping into the bathwater, I felt something cry and give way

And the bath became blood

Hot water on, with the door closed and locked

Your father saw water running on the tiles in the hall

All pink and gorgeous

He broke the door down and saw me sleeping in gore

All pink and gorgeous

In the hospital they whispered words of relief

She’s so young, so petite, it was a mercy and a blessing

Any more blood and she wouldn’t have made it

They didn’t see your father’s fingerprints or where

He cut you out with the slow deliberation of an absent butcher

The whoosh and hiss of hospital machinery

The soft whisper of pretty nurses shoes sliding on lino

Your father watching over me, the violence still marked on his face

When we got home, the taxi driver said; take care you goofy kids

Your father dosed me with pain killers and turned his raging back

I saw the emploring milk leaching from my breasts for you to drink

And it was red

I felt the sting of your vanishing scraped dead from myself

My stomach still swelled with your ghostly outline

Your father moved in his wrath lain sleep and mounted me

I said; I’m hurt, it’s too soon, oh God!
But God refuses sinners and pearls

You were gone so you could not speak too

And your father dove into places raw, stitched and mourning

With his eyes closed he imagined nothing and saw nothing

With his fists closed he rose above me in darkness like a wraith

Not touching the spilt evidence of you

Not realizing he was slick with blood and tears bound in a girl

Till morning when he washed you off and with it, me

As I lay in the stained bed with my nightdress hitched around my wrung neck

Feeling the milk in my breasts, the wetness of your ever spending

Feeling the tether from you to me and back again neverending

Your father went on to conquer worlds with a rod

A rich man with the same long fingernails and sharp soul

He calls me once in a while

Tells me I’m still beautiful

And if I saw him, he would bring harm

So I keep us safe and I see no one

As we sit on the balcony and I imagine

You’d be tall and you’d be beautiful like climbing honeysuckle

Because you are my daughter

We raise our glasses to your December birthday and 27 years

And your father he cannot attend our moments together

He may hurt us again, he may seek to take you away

He stays in his apartment in the city and grows richer

On weekends he chooses whores that look like I did

When I was just a young girl

With hair down to my bottom and no breasts to speak of

He had me before I ever menstrated so we thought

You could not exist

It was true, you did not

Home from the hospital with a pad of loss between my legs

But that was a fall I can still feel in my displaced bones

Seeing the future with each tumble, seeing his fists open and close

Alone now and you have been dead 28 years almost

And I light a candle

For what I was not meant to have

Though I would have loved you so

And I do

You speak to me when I sit by myself and the night is quiet

You tell me not to be lonely though it is impossible

I smile at you because that’s what mothers do

Spare their children

Any pain

I wish I had never existed

Telephonic

tim-burton-bakerRing, Ring, Ring,

Except it’s 2017 your phone is set on silent you do not own an answering machine

from the nineties, accidentally recording overheard conversations

little tape cassettes, the mechanics listening, catch you shouting

the message goes ‘don’t leave a message’ followed by alliteration

doe ray me fa la tee

people dial-in, listen, to cacophony

whose house is this? what party line? her voice can you hear

it’s someone singing in the background

taping over

you quote the silence with your abstract

lying like a fallen star on the kilim rug

the cat nudges your head he knows you are not dead

would that you could warm yourself up like leftovers

swallow whole emptiness, banish that gut of bile

back then I recorded myself, how stupid it seems now, a voice in the comforter

what did I impart? love makes us opaque, lust even more so

you used to play my voice backward and say

that sounds like Bob in Twin Peaks

Fire walk with me would look good in ink

before tattoos were mainstream, we had no money for luxury

our pockets calcified and taut turned inside out like jagged tongues

of want and want not

in the smothering green light of your bedroom

I hid the places I didn’t want you to go

pre-wax, pre-tan, prematurely ejaculate

don’t call me I won’t answer my phone

Ring, Ring, Ring,

what chime, what sound, what soundtrack

do you carry?

mine is set on mute

if you asked to speak to me I could not

form sound

would you really want to hear my truth?

every step forward chalk on my shoes

hop skip jump throw the stone

leave a message after the bleep

after the fall

I’m leaving myself a message

get up now

get out of this house

climb from the windows if you must

do it fast before you grow into a place

you cannot claw your way through

nobody knows that neighbor, the mother of four

lies prone from 9am to 3pm whilst her kids

drink milk out of small glass bottles

in her bare feet and unwashed hair

garish scarlet lipstick sliced on limp wrists

how deftly you can cover your crimes with dry shampoo and

a dusting of perfume

wiping your mouth on the back of your horror

nobody knows how long you lived

not breathing

counting pills on the convex of your emptiness

and if they came

hauled you away, locked you in a padded room

filled your arm with urinal liquid, your mouth stuffed with ‘medicine’

you’d soon find an open door, fling yourself

glorious from fifth floor like a Rorschach crow

not all are made for asylum-life

feral animals cannot endure cages

the fax machine of the past, showed us our shadow

interpreting our malady as Jung

prophesied in his hunting vest

Ring, Ring, Ring,

Schroeder and Skinner take bets

packing tape wound round their vivisection

no-one is home please leave a brief message and we’ll

lose your distinctiveness in the rollerdex

you gave me yours in a wet crumpled ball

call ME! Blondie sung

in a snug t-shirt with her head larger than her body

this year I noticed my finger tips desiccating

despite warm temperature and heirloom seeds

the doctor said

this is the first sign of albinism

drink the days to your unnatural end

of your shrinking bones witherment

breasts diminishing like deflated ardor

bellies sag,  lost balloons caught in oaks

and what stood proud wilts

like tulips left too long in burned afternoon sun

Ring, Ring, Ring,

I am not a girl in ballet shoes

my feet are wrinkled and cracked like a beggar

who has walked too long for his supper

I do not want to eat the fat of the land

or the dish served cold

warmed with your insincere scold

for my weakness is abundant and I

lose moisture like a white fish licking brail

dries on Greek dock where you can if you squint

almost make out the shoreline of Italy

watching boats take others far and yonder

leaving crusts of their sandwiches for birds

the fish only seeks to return

to the deep still of ocean

(what would I say if)

my doppelgänger pushed me aside and ran to answer your insistence

hello it’s awfully good to hear from you, how am I? well …

I’m fair to middling for someone with a dagger in her back

depends on your definition of

walking underwater with undertow heavy beneath feet

cue the camera, take a shot, bang, bang!

the roaming dogs pee against your leg

on the shallow side of consciousness drift in and out

my pipe is smoky and hot with chastised resin

fingers dirty, the refuge of digging for my soul

you don’t want to hear that though … do you?

no question mark intended

I know your breed your pedigree your label

just as I gnawed mine apart

wove the strands into a length of yarn

tied it around my neck and vaulted

because I am the black dog we all avoid

who shakes her wet coat over dry make-believe

the echo behind the broken cup

one piece beneath furniture, the other

still containing a leached circumstance of water

we do not sup, you and I who have sober fists

I tried, I really tried, then the day went on without me

clocks winding themselves

girls pulling up their underwear in some basement flat

overlooking a river

men taking a piss in bushes, usually reserved for perverts

watching women jog in tight shorts, bounce, bounce, bounce

Ring, Ring, Ring,

is anybody there? What do you say?

are you home? Are you sleeping?

no and no

anything but the shape of arms

making circles against bare wall

here is my crucifixion

behold

words we never tell

are pigment

and egg yolk

and torn hose

 

And burn their house down

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Her legs were her best feature

so they told her

pinching her bum as she climbed shag carpeted stairs

hauling more baggage than they’d ever have

oh and your throat of course

chuckle, chuckle isn’t that funny?

deep throat, get it?

no … not really

too polite to declare (curtsy)

but what if you did? Respond as you would if

truth led you by the mouth, clip, clop

neigh brey shake your tail paw the ground with hoof

sore and gaping and verbose in mauve and yellow

like a gypsy sacked from her tent

runs like a red brand through black and white trees

will she end up raped by the side of the road?

eventually selling herself by the truck-load

with eyes glazed over from too many mouthfuls

there’s only so much you can take

a tipping point lives inside everyone

like a secret metronome

ticking away, ticking down, ticking sideways, an itch never relieved

until earth and sod and mud and weeds land heavy and wet

on wood (four coffin bearers, bow their heads)

she hears them making a fuss downstairs

(the sound track is The Moody Blues)

who will go first?

me! first is best! the little one says

he’s got a big mouth that one and a small …

well no surprise there (audience laugh)

yeah but you can warm her up for me!

the one who enjoys pain reveals

when do I get a turn? says the last one

who is always too fast too soon too distracted to …

see her staring at the ceiling counting down

tick toc tick toc goes her life blood

here the vein here the slice here the fall

blue is the marigold dipped in the ocean

why does she bled so? When did she stop being closed?

She was never really shut, she was open all hours

flung wide by the longing of the sky to see her enact a star

spread white and glowing she longed for black skies to swallow whole

every last molecule

there’s blood in the bathroom! they all cry (exit stage left)

where could she have gone?

how did she survive the loss of so much blood? The little one said

roll over roll over so they all rolled over and one fell out

there were two in the bed and the next one said …

you see her now

she’s that motion in the corner of your eye, a cataract in full bloom

dropping by the highway like a midnight flower

speeding cars track her fade but they cannot see for their faces are made

of metal and plastic and rubber and gasoline

and she is made of earth

and she is gone to earth

and she is in the earth

away from the three little pigs

who kindle themselves into a fury

and burn their house

down though it is made

of brick

Command

9edcc63634776b74ee5539c5d4f18ce7She sat

the leather of the chair

damp beneath her

no underwear

revealed in candle light

a straight spine

a crouching mind

she obeyed

not for fear or need to ruin

but the sheer freedom of feeling

her knees rub against carpet

her mouth close upon bit

her eyes lost beneath satin

she knew

when it came

the lash would last

as long as forever

the welt may diminish

the pain may recede

still she could feel

the weight of regard

afixed to her as light of fire place

illuminated what she could not

her darkness exposed

take what you will

take what she cannot give

willingly

and in setting her free

she is within and without cage

able at last

to feel the breadth of herself

by your regard she finds reflection

not the echo she reinterprets

there in the scour of past

but the lover

piece by piece she learns

to offer her secrets

for trust is earned

in every move toward

the command