Softly by the spoonful

33879402735_73c9d87faf_kThere exist still

people who were born when the world

like a split fig, bequeathing aubergine center

was half the size

in a fabled time when

individuals could be appreciated

for more than their overt strip-tease

hot and pulsing on flashy poles oiled by media

consumption

 

my grandmother

with her perfect straight teeth

and flossy hair refusing to be tamed

called a beauty in her day

would never have held up now

a corn maiden left to rot in untended field

days then, of gentle reproaching and

beguiling unknown

how intoxicate to consider, what you cannot reach

where now, less possesses such mystery

in its hoard of foil

than generations guarding jailers keys to reaching secrets

you could think all your life you were set

in one direction like weather vane, divining nature

and upon the death-bed of your elders, find out

nothing you rolled in your palm, was true

not even the dice you flung impatiently forward

 

for now we have proof

and proof is not

like a closed oven door

raising cake or bread

proof can rob us of dreaming

and those imprecisions and improvision

making fantasies stick like early

peas fattened against their husk

 

now the only fantasy

is waking up to become someone else

soon they will have us inhabiting machines

thinking ourselves free

maybe the irony will be

in those metal cases our brains

will grow mercurial wings

we are after all, rather fickle things

thinking ourselves to immortality

as Icarus searched to quench

his melting dissolution

 

I don’t share this ache to overcome my nature

it is my wish to lay me down and sleep

fertilizing the next seed

so when they say eat your greens

if you do, you may be the one in six to reach triple digits

I secretly chew and spit into black soil

preferring the liquor of a shorter candle

if I lived that long

nothing of the world I once loved

would remain

 

Buddhists say

live in the moment, not past, nor future

but I am a backward bespeckled girl

with a tilted womb and trigger finger

I am a girl who was partially born

with patched lazy eye and pigeon toe feet

I inherited bunions from my father who

stole them from his grandmother

she was blind with cataracts and still able

to see clearly

don’t live in the city, she chided him

the country boy who sought

museums on sunday’s instead of church

you’ll always be lonely, she prophesied

and he was

staring out windows at tall buildings

with long faces, void of harmony

 

whilst I leaned more toward my ancestors

who tilled fecund earth with prematurely calloused hands

finding peace in silent prose press of peat

to nourish encroaching tides of meaningless

gabled society can bring

 

from my mother I gained

some wit and spark

but also the propensity to climb inside myself

so far I didn’t know how to trust

and when it rains and the weather shifts

its turbulence

my head aches with clamoring change

an internal disturbance like children

playing band with pots and pans

it was always the habit of myself

to disbelieve the town crier

hefting his false bell

handing out sugar for the children

and pills for heavy-lidded adults

back in time I stood

warming my small hands against radiators

gloves wet from snow thawing

capture of damp wool in sticky air

the psychiatrist said

did you come here alone and you are only twelve?

I wanted to tell him

how many times I learned the way forward

without hands or trace

but some truths are best kept

behind your surface

he told me something I have never forgotten

it is the unkindness of those familiar

scars us worse of all

than any cut from a stranger

yet still

grief is a thing of feathers loosened by seizure

as rain will envelope sound, cutting off from usual ways

we tread deeper into ungulate symphony

he said; somebody should have loved you better

and I watched

my gloves shrink ever so slightly

as loose wool pulled taut in warmth

just as I

will lean into glassy light composed of grainy prism

away from those who string their netted words

higher and higher in hope of catching

butterflies

 

it is summer now

the sprinklers in gardens come alive at night

catching mating dragonflies unaware

lightly slapping window panes as they arc

and fall

the cat will only seek to step

on cooling tiles when sun has set

and behind my eyes if you looked

a hundred cages stand emptied

where generations have flown

toward the sea and diminishment

 

I know

as I feel the tilt of myself shift like

long seated shadows will at last

urge toward darkness

the slightest ember could ignite

this fragile ballet of footprints and placement

as tables set for breakfast loam in nightfall

specters in deletion, we rise and consume

time and understanding

softly by

the spoonful

Time

Rabarbra or Wife Engel picking Rhubarb via WikimediaThis place called time

tastes like rhubarb pulled from dark earth

washed too quickly

holds the grit

and fervor

my grandma says

coal and dirt protect the child

from disease and rancor

but will they erase? I ask

the tenor of nightmares brushing

thin window panes at dawn

before first bird call wakes

the timorous

for fear

can come in the unexpected moth

hitting light and dying upside down

bearing fangs

or in an accumulation of loss

seeking refuge in cooling pipes

when the world sleeps

are we lost then?

to the debris of ourselves?

making masks of highs and lows

as mountains would cleave themselves

into castles

I would like I told her

to be a badger or a fox

stealthy and unseen

beneath hedgerow of cast offs

wild and lost in retreat

among spun floss of highlands

where moss turns aubergine and dries

into purple air

once I saw a skull bleached into chalk

more could be said of its expression

than the world of scraped chairs

and reluctant mouths downcast in an effort

not to betray themselves

when they pulled me from the weeds

daubing calamine for poison ivy and

salt on adhering slugs

I asked they leave me

just a moment more

to turn into a hollow

instrument awaiting its pluck

in the warmth of an

empty room

Remember

The words that pass between them

pressing hot arms

Absolute

in funny angles

smell it on her wrist, a divinity of trivia and

rolled secrets, ready to inhale

death curling the corners

Approach

touch fevered forehead to clay floor womb

all the footsteps regressed

We are too late to undo

our indentation

it presses down

like dowel swinging thickly against undertow

will measure weight of air

and your truth

offered by word

Ask me

where is the mark?

repeated on inside wrist

past pulse, circling back upon itself

infinity you said

mine the arms wound around

soft value

memories taking form in brief coats of ice

a sorcerers palace

to divine

Remember

Forever

is no promise ever

kept

IF

6093430_orig

If depression were a shadow

when it is my shadow

waking me up with glass behind my eyes

replacing authentic feeling with

stifled, muffled, agonies

depression tells me; don’t get your hair cut

the hair dresser will stare too hard and you cannot

bear to be scrutinized as your father who called you

many things like plain-faced and ungainly but most of all

stocky leading to a starvation worthy

yes that father who because of his own mental defect

could not really stand long in the sun of parenthood

you’d have been better off loose and lopsided

with latch key children

to climb dog piss stained trees that barely held your weight

as they pushed through concrete with white pealing hands

as city green must

an effort make

we would chew on wild rhubarb, give ourselves stomach aches

eat dandelions and wild plums and share a precious few

hard-boiled sweets sticky in our pockets

some turned our mouths the color of tar

behind the corrugated iron where bombed out houses

stand like disfigured moments

collapsing in tombed neglect

we chased skinny wild cats and built fluttering camps

fortresses around destruction and sadness

something I learned to carry inside

when I sought to travel far from the city

its anonymous bricked faces

lending little grace

when I said goodbye to prefab family who

had their own lives

I was an appendage

needing to find my tribe

instead inheriting faulty DNA

tingeing my wake with sorrow

much as I tried

even on the warm days I wore leg warmers

pretended to be auditioning for FAME

when I ordered a hot chocolate and watched curling waves

change sequined shoreline in slow swell

though the world amassed around me

glorious and glittering like water touched by fire

as bleating sun dipped low against horizon

I could not find a way to feel unburdened

or climb aboard the impulse to slough skin

care nothing of what others would say

try hard as I could to become

laughter

that ephemeris

out of reach … thing

Afraid of heights

boy-brunette-cigarette-cool-Favim.com-1321050I always wanted to visit New Hampshire

because of John Irving’s book & the film with Rob Lowe & Natasha Kinski

who

could not act

yet their chiseled attractiveness

stood in for them, a superficial filler

as often is the case

for some that is how

life’s entirety unfolds

they don’t really choose

going with the muslin crowd

falling into things like sharpened

pencils sit neatly on a desk

ready to be taken up & blunted

I never felt easy or molded to

others surges

when the crowd hastened to rise

I would take the other pew, sit a while

watching the admonishment of wood

bending over itself in prayer

where discarded moments

buoyed a sense of artificiality strung on a line

flung into frozen lake

as melancholy as any conjured mist

for it was my curse to be a romantic

& New Hampshire is just another place

where my dreams lay a while

purring against naped fancy

it is sometimes better not to seek them out

for they will never be quite as you imagined

life is no film or book

it is a long & windy road sometimes rendered ugly by

man’s fecund print

the only dream is found

in youth or its diminishing wings

when everything is a stage

& beauty elucidates our need

to believe

the hand of ancient love

helping each other dress stiffly by creaking radiator

four knees popping with affection

I want to retrace the mortar of what beseached

me to hold castles in the air & believe

one day I would witness magic

for if my hopes were less grand

more flat and ordinary

I may not have spent so long

gazing upward at empty rafters

thinking myself an acrobat

afraid of heights

 

Anything seems possible

image002.pngEating peanut butter always reminds me of the night a gay man tried to seduce me

the irony is I never ate peanut butter until I became American

nor did I have any gay male friends

they thought me too girly with my waist-length hair, frilly frocks and high socks

an object easier for ridicule, there are status levels of coolness I didn’t care about

because I didn’t fit in with their ideas just as they were not

societies chosen children

it seemed a shame two outcasts wouldn’t bridge the gap

but Rick did, he was he said, a Bear in the gay world

what does that mean? I wanted to know

it’s a kind of look he said

there are others, like geek, school boy, father

why must you have labels when society already forces them?

maybe that’s why we do, he said and looked sad

which was an unusual thing because he laughed all the time

you know what they say about comedians and how

they make others laugh because inside they hurt

and he was left handed-too like me

maybe he did resemble a bear

 

so when I sat on his lap in the bar and he whispered

the feel of you is driving me crazy

I gave him a double-look

those words can’t be coming from you

I thought I was safe on a queer man’s knee

you’re not safe on any man’s knee in this country he said

we’re no longer in France and it’s not du rigor

all men want sex, gay men may be gay but they still

sometimes take to bed the occasional woman

I hadn’t known that

the lesbian world was more rigid with thick rule books

and tightly closed legs

it was hard enough to sleep with another woman

lesbian-bed-death and all

but men? A few who couldn’t get pregnant with turkey-basters

fell in love with their male donors

but only on a full moon

and whilst I made no habit of sitting on men’s knees usually

the bar was heaving with sweating twenty year olds

and he was gay and I was gay and everyone should be gay and do a little dance

except I was sad and lonely and Rick complained that

men down the leather bar thought 30 was old so he feared

the day when he would be irrelevant and nobody would desire

his gentle paunch and diminishing hairline

I told him that day will never come you matter to me

and we both saw how we filled each others needs

better than someone of the same-sex ever could

which seemed a painful irony

I might have drunkenly slept with him if I didn’t

already know he’d been promiscuous

and I am a responsible child of the AIDS era and

not fond of navigating awkward mornings

he might have slept with me the way a lonely boy

finds a hole in any surface

to release the places he keeps hidden

then we wouldn’t have been friends

and that would have been the last time

I’d sat on a boys knee, queer or straight

so I wouldn’t have seen you on stage performing or

your ex girlfriend staring at you with open-mouth desire

when she was supposed to be courting me

that night I learned a little about people

I would have understood less from the back of the room

forgetting the advantages of the heterosexual girl

smoking a black cigarette and knocking back my gloom

for minority status isn’t all about being different

it can be the loneliest place in the world

and even dyed in the wool queers

have fantasies about knights, princes and castles

when the room is dark and oily

and anything seems possible

Ageing

Older woman holding young maskThe grime that won’t lift from underneath fingernails

is the yellow glimmer of youth

uncaring it is messy and rigorous

when you can live unbrushed

climbing from bed to public without spending

an hour examining your face, patching scars of endurance

when did age, creep so effortlessly into expression lines?

when did light, become so certainly, a foe on certain days?

as if inhabiting mood explained itself in the creases of your skin

you may deflect, somersault and berate

after all so many years wearing your emotions within

bound to spill once the cork is sodden

those hours you thought nobody saw

burning candles between pinched fingers

rubbing sulphur on volcanos urge

how many tears and ache does it take?

to leave emotions wreckage like single moment captured in paint?

who is the photographer who knows how to unearth

our secret selves hiding in wainscoting and plaster

of the past?

I understand why women plump their gaunt hollows

filling their lips with plastic hope, to go a few more years without

showing the world their chapped inside

they seek their former selves, to feel warmth of sun

on unfreckled necks

perhaps it would not sting if love could wear age well

when you are hot faced and tear streaked

wiping in one stroke and smiling

everyone believing the dress you wear is new and unwrinkled

such is the forgiving fabric of youth

succor for the gentle hearted, sugar for the brave

now in unforgiving light you see the evidence of age

lying on your face like a lover will unwittingly expose themselves

in a flicker, in a mere blink, beauty reduced to ungainly

for what we cannot see is more intriguing than

all the dilapidated truth behind our eyes

as much as we may wish to express ourselves

not that candidly, not as if pinned by wings to cork board

spread for all to see every instant of our writhe

biographies of the years, footprints of etched grief

can’t hide the truth as you age, can’t help but reveal

if I leave now without putting on my face

combing my hair over the deepening lines

hiding behind color, clothes, artful turn of head

if I don’t literally prepare myself

like a carefully followed recipe

or posed selfie empty of truth

I will feel as if I am walking naked in public

no skin on my feelings to disguise the years

I have been trying to get well

 

tell me?

is that why contentment is much like a cake

rising beneath warm air

and disappointment a river

shallow and fast

is that why they say joy can be seen in a person’s smile?

and sadness will devour, even the best actor

looking at my fracture, I resemble every melancholy spent

like old wine will eventually revert back to sugar and sediment

settling cloudy at the bottom of a carafe

buoyed no more by light