Driftwood

Open your mouth wide

Do you see anything?

Do you hear anything?

I am running

In a grey forest

The feeling of your arms around me

Is a burn that does not heal when released

And your absence carves my stomach empty

Like Halloween pumpkin without face

An ache is possessing my every minute

Dripping into my veins like an unwelcome drug

I see you there

Standing in the bright

I could never have known how much hurt it would cause

To give you my heart

If we were to happen upon one another again

I would do all the same things

Even as I know its result

While you would not

You would save yourself from me, from us

Which is why

You were in the light then

And again now

As you climb out of loving me, shaking yourself off

I would like to have your strength

But I was never able to emulate you

I was weak in what I could do

I could only give you my heart

But I could not seem

To take it back when the time came

I think I must be an ocean

Because so many tears come out of me

And no matter how long it’s been, the pain never diminishes

They told me pain does get easier with time

I’ve waited years for it to do so

It’s still like the first day

It’s still like the first time

You put my heart in your sun tea jar

I am still there touching glass

The sun has gone behind a cloud

We are both old and grey and tired

You raise your voice because patience is misplaced

I see in your eyes

Once soft and warm with eternal need to bring me closer

Not the endearment of the past

But the futility of the future

That is not either of ours to shape

We are driftwood

Even as I say that I hope

You will come around and seek me again

To be whatever we are now

Together

As we always were

And when you are gone

Or cold or pushing me further

Into the blistering current of your absence

I feel I will surely die

If I lose you

And people say

Don’t worry that’s a myth

You can’t die from heartbreak

You will knot back together

But I know if by now I haven’t

Then that is the myth

We can repair all broken things

Which isn’t true

Sometimes the crack is so wide

The shards so sharp

They pierce any attempt to rebuild

I cannot

I do not know how any longer

To exist without you by my side

We may not have had fifty years and be sitting taking in a sunset

But we are linked beneath our skin

In the very infused core of our existing

Connected as if metal were around my arms and legs and in my chest

And when you touch me

Carelessly and with flat disregard

When I know you feel nothing

It is a perfect knife in my heart

And surely I would cease

Staring into darkness

If you were to let go

And tumbling I fell

The hole of emptiness devouring me from within

Until nothing but the husk of a person were left

Unable to motion their pain or

Give words to the unbearable crushing of their soul

Stuck looking at

Your retreat

Of us

Like a long formed stalagmite

Cutting off oxygen

It is you who all this time

Did not know you possessed wings

It is me all this time, knew

Without you

I wanted nothing

For you are the battery to my life blood

When I look in the mirror

At your absence

I see no one

Not you, not myself

If you go, all is gone

I wink out like a snuffed candle

As you turn out the light

And softly

Close the door

On us

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The storm

Skeletons of cats arch and slink

Beneath the fat calves of resting cars

Metal pins the air alongside sweet crepe myrtle bloom

All is still and you sleep

Whilst the tongue of road wets her distance

Pools of last night’s storm gather like miniature lakes

Cold and black in shadow, the light from street lamps

Glittering off their surface and into the surround

I think of when we were unafraid

And stayed awake moving beneath the other

Slick as two seals

Your hair smelling of me

The room holding her breath

Even first light paused in our ecclipse of the other

Like rounding clock hands wrapping ever further

The steady progress of time and heartbeat, just beneath hushed surface

My pulse is a noise in my head as all else but crush of bedsheets

Like rosettes in a festival infused with pigment will

Thread color through time, remaining smooth and unbroken

Looking into your eyes I see no hint of

The eventual

Lay of land

Not far down

This still road

And isn’t that how it always plays?

A terrible and familiar piece of reflection

When the unexpected occurs, we should not be surprised

It is written in the dewy softness of this graphed moment

We take in our mouths and chew upon

Unable to imagine

The storm

Though it leaves signs of itself

Like tears against your cheek

Show themselves in moonlight

1995 was

ed941d04af85bda4184ddeeb25876a46

long sweaters, color of grey clouds

wet wool beneath leggings and Docs

the way rain stayed in your hair and rinsed it of color

how you kept every love letter ever written

by all the little freckled girls who chased your dragon

we lay in your narrow bed

too small but small was what we were

breaking every splinter

in our roar and our mocking

you implanted a life

the telephone gave the news

my grandmother had given up pretending

perhaps the devil helped her

take that final breath

I couldn’t get a train

the rain the rain

you felt the despair of a boy who liked

the fur of drama

not the feel of fatherhood

her funeral was for two

the woman who had held me and said

what a pretty baby

when the rest backed away

like spectators unwilling to touch

and then there was the fetus

dry like a winter flower

red like a sore lover’s thighs

white like virgin snow covering

a crime

and the smell of damp

invading every corner of your room

ransacking hope

leaving in its wake

Smashing Pumpkins on low

sheets frayed and stained with youth

I did not return

you did not ask

it was accepted like an envelope is sealed

and black birds begin their fight

long after night has cast

her dark

For what they did yet not know

140829195756-22-women-in-comedy-restricted-horizontal-large-galleryYou thought it was bad when

you got your first zit

and the unblemished skin of your youth

erupted like Everest

you thought it was bad when

you got your first stretch-mark

and the smooth thighs and breasts of your growth

betrayed the camouflage

you thought it was bad when

you got your first scar

a thin line of emptiness which they said

the bikini would hide

you thought it was bad when

you sagged and you spun with weight loss and gain

in the span of twelve fevered months

and then it seemed

unimportant

because those scars

the immature loss of vanity and adulation

crying over not fitting into yourself

the lament of sudden change

was less than the stubborn plant of your feet

in survival

and you went to your neighbor

who was missing a breast

both of you shared

the disjointed humor of pain

and you went to your preacher

who had lost his testicle

he joked about being single

and you went to your park

saw women with brain tumors cut out

walking their high energy dogs

and you saw

this silly game of magazines and perfection

of I will stay 20 and flawless forever

of men who would leave when you get cut up and bleed

how it is but part of a bigger picture

that of sweat and guts and fear

and surviving through gritted teeth

even if he left because you were no longer perky and up for it

because you threw up at midnight instead of

giving him head

even if the girl at work could wear heels and short skirts

and you hid your swollen stomach behind swaths of cotton

or couldn’t get out of your bed

because then … just as everything seemed

to be wrinkling and disintegrating and rebuilding

into something unfamiliar and changed and partially incomplete

another man with light in his eyes

who didn’t care about such things

smiled at you as you walked beneath the yawning trees

because your medication said

avoid direct sunlight

and he said

I have the same problem which makes it hard living here doesn’t it?

and you talked and he smiled

and said

I like the way your eyes twinkle

and you said

I get that from my grandmother

even when she was eighty-five she was

proposed to by farmers who thought

she looked like a kind of Katherine Hepburn

and he said

I can see that

red

would you like to meet here tomorrow again?

and you saw the way the world really worked

underneath the adverts for boob jobs and butt lifts

and reality tv that’s nothing of the sort

his hand brushed yours and you saw

sunspots on both

it made you laugh

a little like a hiccuping hyena

and he laughed too

the survivors

beneath the canopy of life

snorting like five-year olds

as skinny joggers with air-brush tans ran past

with sad empty looks

for what they did not

yet know

Without you

Your betrayal came before the post on Monday

If I listened it may have sounded

Like paper in air, losing gravity

The unexpected slap of shiny magazine

And echoing hinged snap of closed door flap

The postman left his shoe imprints in the snow

One way in, one way out and the bare branches of the trees

Were cold dancers cupping themselves to imaginary fernace

You had already gone before the skies admitted

Their talcum-powdered descent of white

Your letter, handwriting in your bold certain shape

The same hand that had led me up the stairs

A silver bracelet bought when we visited the seaside, on your wrist

Strong hand, reaching for me, for my rustle and my yawning silouette

We were shapes against the mirror of moonlight

Streaming our own version of whispers and little cries

You never let go of my hand even

As you turned your neck and slept, dreamlessly by my side

And I lay in partial light feeling your resonance

Play like an instrument on my damp skin

Your upright, careful letter and the last word, your name

A name I had put into the core of me and melted down

Covering any fear that you’d crack my heart

Open like a woodland walnut and expose the soft innards

No, not this woman, with her fingers reading my brail

And her tongue searching for stars in the folds of hesitate

She has breathed me in, carved her name in my wood

I cannot stir without a part of her moving alongside me

Life no longer singular I am now and always, illuminated

By her rounding glow and the peach dream of her thighs

Wrapped in mutual surround, the open window

Carrying our symphony into gloaming night wind

How then are you gone?

As rapid as my chest threatens to explode

A single firework

Removed from me and behind, spending in your wake

Emptiness

Letters furthering no explanation, blurring in porcelain horror

If I had listened

Maybe the stir of settling snow or else

Some torn part would reveal

The sense in loss

I stand by the picture window

Wearing an old shirt of yours

Yellow at the collar and faded with wash

Across the road, a neighbor walks her dogs

She glances my way and sees

Only the shadow of

A life without

You

Warning

What if my mother

Who was gone

Did not warn me about you

And so

In the glib night

As I stood wanting to be plucked

From a latch key evening

The cluck and cacophony of

People filled with water

You circled my arm with a snare

With decision and madness there

Made a drink of me

Threw it down your chain-smoking throat

Carrying me on your back like a crab

We waded shorelines

Rinsing the regret for not being as others appear

Bone straight and glistening in their eagerness

We’d been born jaded and recognized

In the other that temporality

A godless place of zero and

Dirty much used sheets

Absorbing the stink of best intention

It was your howl in my womb and my opening ever trusting

Nothing can be as it says or is

There’s only this

The you of a rough hand holding me down

A choking, painful exorcism

In my nil

The bones just beneath skin

And you letting yourself in

After hours

A weight of assumption

More honest for its lack of anything

You do not attempt to please

Or deceive

For ours is not a caring place

Only savagery and hurt exist to sate

The otherwise empty arms of loving