Within the woods

thYou lost your grip on reality around the same time

my own dalliance with death disturbed the rafters

my shoulders of a man, yours of a sparrow

we danced around amber whiskey bottles

setting fire to tarmac

lifting our skirts before silver ash enveloped us

but maybe I didn’t clean my feet well enough

you began to tremble in the morning

and I found I could not move

it was as if a deer had been startled

standing quite still in dried grass

he was frozen in situ

for a time I wanted to break out

resume merriment and three penny carnival

until the feeling of falling inside

behind the bones of your face

where all emotion blanches and traces

secrets and lies

became my norm

I did not know anymore

how to stir cocktails of polite acquaintance

or make small talk trace like sleepy snails

I did not know anymore

what became of my social graces

pinned and folded beneath me like taffeta

it gave me comfort to

lose my art of conversation

the yawning maw of fraternization

I listened to words and they did not

beckon me come closer

I felt as strange as the outdoor moth

who half wishes he did not

slap against warm glass trying to

eat the light

for it is not you he seeks

but the burn and blitz of some fantastic

singeing his wings in tattoo

and I too

had always yearned for that feeling

never discovered among the feeding troughs

of social intercourse

and once or twice I left

a full and heaving party

to lift my legs for a stranger in

cramped confine

because the hard bang and knock of his

emptying wood was

more honest than all the winks and nods

whispering behind my back

words

I no longer needed to use

only three ever necessary

I love you

though now you are smudged out

by burn of cinders staining toes

gone as cold as foggy morning

selecting mute I retraced my arc

pushed myself back beneath my bones

within the temple

within the woods

where the deer finally moved

from her camouflage and

sprinted light as powder

into converging dark

There you are

15094981_1170125696413806_5262358430950260450_n

about one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I lay in your bed

smelling the indent and the roll

of your dream life when I am not

trying to look through your eyes

into your soul

About one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I stood over your bed

stripping the sheets

smelling where you lived and breathed

all those nights and days

we should have been making memories

now folded away

About one hundred years ago

or three years

or just yesterday

I smoothed the mattress clear

of the weight you inhabited and

little traces curled here and there

persisting to remind me

of the way the moon lit

your sleeping face

now you will always have your eyes closed

maybe now you can see

the shapes of angels

watching over you until

it is my turn and I come to find

if you have been waiting all this time

a year, a month, a day

one hour is too long

without looking into your eyes

to see what I love reflecting back

like dark diamonds capturing stars

will wink out

and there you are

For I feel

080-francoise-dorleac-theredlistTremulous ghosts must stand in patent shoes around me

for I feel their hands on my shoulders tugging at my seams

I who do not cry

weep openly with sorrow

imagining is often harder than

bearing reality

I think of when he will not stand discontented

staring out at flocking birds

I think of the time I found a starling chick

lying cold on the ground

wondering at the bitter sky

why didn’t you give them a chance?

why did you let me stay instead?

discontent

the child who knew the flavor of strawberry milkshakes

was an artifice

lies from adults, how many more?

behind closed doors and screens

I met a poet an old lady who

wrote like she was on fire

when she didn’t write for a time

I knew she had died

again I railed

why take her? why not me?

I stand disillusioned and empty

she who played castanets and sang

she who had wind-chimes and wrinkles in

her vowels

she had so far to go

I do not

I am here at the fulcrum

waiting my turn at the scythe

it strikes me living doesn’t suit

those who feel everything

like a pretty shoe

isn’t practical for walking

you can admire its form

but it will not hold you up

I ache in ways I cannot give a color

or adverb

it is a disturbance of the soul

the card reader told

you have a dark shadow on your back

she has her hands around your throat

until she dies you will wish for your own death

or you could start drinking again

that might work

sitting at the kitchen table at night

rinsing grief from my palms

strange dark sounds comforting crushing hurt

I examine the bones of my face

they feel as if they should have come unglued

reformed into a mask of ache

outside neighbors children are awake

eager for day to start

a lone dog barks at the moon

because it disturbs the pattern of his knowing

it has been long since I dreamed

when I dream I have hope

hope which is always the most painful place to go

when returning to zero you see the futility

of setting sail just as storms are predicted

you were a hurricane I let whip me up

lent me hope

now I am a milkshake that does not

resemble real strawberries

I am sweet enough for take-out

but nobody knows the sadness behind

a glass that looks full and is not

just residue remains

sticking to the sides

I am holding on

trying not to cry

at the nature of things

some known

some found afterward in epitaph

my grandmother’s hand was

blotchy and purple

still I looked away believing her well

you see

I want to believe in fairy-tales

and ever after

but I confess

it is hard when we are surrounded

by lies in

illuminated

jars

Dowry

surrealist_art_by_ray_caesar_5There were no shotguns

no contraception necessary

the sterile

marriage was secret

rushed through with hands in front of mouths

to spare the blush of court-house staff

unaccustomed to women without men

they looked down as if crestfallen

it was fortunate I had not enough time to purchase

a dress

for it had always been my desire

to marry barefoot with knives in my hair

carrying your child to the altar

squirming in my belly

this didn’t come to pass

squinting down lashed road

I see where I dropped myself

in the desert without my shoes

like old coinage without power of purchase

I watched the purple sky

reduce in cold boil

until amber filled horizon

night creatures stirred without sight

I didn’t have a way back

I didn’t have a way forward

this was my dowry

the sand blowing without mercy

scratching at the door

Gone with the storm

surreal-scenes-digital-art-by-christian-schloe1The hardest thing ever was born a baby who had

long learned to float in her mother’s waters

swimming her way to oxygen

with first breath then knowing

all this time held inside had been denial

you can run and think yourself changed

while you convince yourself the fates are laughing

look at her

she thinks herself free

she is right back where she started

minus buoyancy of years and water inside

lending fracture to ideas

now she has less to help her float

no cord to pull her child along in hope

those things she gave up are cut away

they stay briefly on surface before submerging

reflecting what might have been

had she listened more closely

when did she cease making those graceful lines

cut through hushed air?

what happened in the years from then and now

to cut off her need to move?

she had music in her eyes

where did she go?

her loss, is not written down, those

who lament tell a different story

poor years wasted, nothing of what she gave up

it is that silent bereavement she knows

will be whittled into the bow of her boat

she is cast off

land is distant

she has only the water

to return

and find what has gone

with the storm

Zero

267e842992bef6fb109e19c3291fe496I held her fate in my hands

I had a chance to end her sting of me

I chose instead to help her live

it does not seem an easy thing

forgiving yourself for choices

time can never recover

people who take and leave you barren

they’re the ones who will never

know their true darkness

they’re the ones who will get up fast

as if nothing much occurred

it takes a lot to wound someone

who does not have a heart

Winter glass

24469743_c58d88ae1e_m(l.)

Winter glass

is yellowed with old sun

mottled by bird claws

resembling stained relief

a mustard bath

enclosing grief

fields are reaped clear

left to darken

shaken fallow

like wands of sadness

where once they were bright

alive with mice and voles

claiming their hidden kingdom

ears of corn straining upward

unfolding as sun shines

we forget to wipe windows clear

when clouds descend and rivers

freeze

closing off air

closing off movement

we retire in our woolen worlds

tucking our chins against brutal cold

like robins closing their red breasts

and the light that gets in

is tainted

like long left cigarette

stains thumb and forefinger

betraying a little of the smokers emotion

as she holds it

sparking in darkness

inhaling her grief

like swallowing words

goes unseen

beneath the ice of defeat

(ll.)

we who clamor without tongues

who fill our mouths with knowledge

no one is there to listen

we who close our doors at night

to the sound of hibernation

keeping out those who would

tear us from rigid postures

make scarecrows in blizzards

of our rags and scoured bones

for who knows?

how another feels behind walls

or how it feels to be touched by

dirty light letting in the reminder

we are but fields of yellow

turning brown and beginning once more

each time a little less steady

in our long walk