This dance is for the dead

NatalieWood-731wWould that you would stay

would that you were ever mine

would that you knew how

you strip and stir those tender passions

sterile of any other life

I am blackened with desire for you

I am white with inordinate stifle

see the end of the bottle how it glistens?

With promise and her velvet touch she

summons,

turn to me, burn with me, set me alight

leave me wrecked on your shore, blistering

this is why I breathe, to end in your gaze

this is why I ache, to imagine just a glance

this is why I die, to lose you without ever

having

there’s the rest and there’s one girl

she’s a woman, she’s rage, she’s not gentle

she can’t be caged or capitulated

the stroke of her fingers on metal

she’s tearing you up with her untouchable ways

ruining others, for they seem tame

comparison is the enemy of the weak

she laughs at your charade, your belief

she’ll ever want a thing from you, nothing

further could be true, she’s so far removed

reach for her, she’ll bite you in half

try to be tender, she’ll laugh in your face

howling another’s name just for sport

indifference is her game, she’ll toss you

aside before she’s arrived with your petty

longings and your wounded heart

she’s little and she’s huge, she’s magnification

and cruelty and searing everlasting beauty

I imagine lying next to her and it’s a joke

the nearest I could get would be a parallel universe

made of pins and needles, volcanoes and tsunami

your beauty is a storm of urges unspent

my secrets just flowers of passion unsung

feeling your way in the dark is your favorite dance

you’re roaring in your sleep and breaking the sound barrier

you compete for breakfast and throw the weak over

for the sharks

there’s nothing between us except everything

even if I were not myself, I could not be close to you

you abhor connection, you loathe obsession

fearless you parody their love of you

with mocking abandon like a ballerina

needing no shoes

you write songs with the pen of a bloody mad woman

you tattoo desire into my chest with sharp knives

thrown from a mountain

all the while not knowing what you do

for I do not exist and neither does time

it can harp and beat for a hundred years and I wouldn’t run out

of want, just the means, just the methods

just one time, just in a dream, just fantasize

shut your eyes, turn off the light, stand still, run

your voice over broken connection

nimble fingers strumming a line

from another time, one where you give me

one moment, I stand behind you, watching

the shape of your conquer

chaos in the surge of everything

anger, rage, beauty, madness

you can move someone without touching

you can devastate someone without speaking

no injury and it hurts worse than breaking

egotism in a glass vase to be shattered

where we go, nobody will know

children of night, children of satiation

I heard you sing in the past when I didn’t know

names and places, people and feelings

I was a dead thing dancing to numb haunt

you stepped toward me and I saw you

a dervish in halo, a god within a devil

nothing else, the crowd cleared, it was only you

so sure, so dark eyed, with your torture

curling me around your laugh like a rocket

I burned and drank it down and the flames

made me golden

plug me in, I spin on electric want without power

you stop and start, you shout, you demand

you scream at the complacency and kick the rulers

I am a dead star above your night, I am

the person you were before you were born

I inhabit your meaning like a false note

there is only nothing and nothing comes with

a voice until you speak

into my freeway, driving at 100 mph on

drowning streets, they cry for your attention, you

giggle in irreverence

no fault of yours the whole world adores

someone who cannot be won, or succumb

to usual rules, to anyone’s need, it’s always been

about you, about you, about you

i’m happy here, stretched on your rack

beginning to enjoy poison and its benefits

for we make aches out of wants and wants

never cut too deep, they die as they are

absorbed into daylight, scars making scars

you are the eternal night you pull me in

I struggle against your tide, you want to drown me

with your sharp loveliness

it’s your control, it’s what you know

you have the bravado of a broken angel

words leave me struck through with arrows

secrets are best left buried

dig me up, let me whisper, I would say

it’s always ever been you

say it once and I drop to my knees

I was told it was wrong to worship

I was told it was wrong to believe in

perfection or need

you open your red mouth

i’m watching, I’m writhing

how are you still moving? Didn’t you

die? Didn’t you stop breathing?

Turning in betrayal, you can

only betray when it matters

nothing matters to girls made of stone

they sing to the siren and the siren

blesses them

this dance is for the dead

desire so long it’s bent double

it hurts to enter the temple

you burn me every time you don’t notice

but that’s your way

that’s who you have always been

untouchable

untouchable

untouchable

 

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

Into water

There was grief in the last time I was myself

long-faced, retroussé nose, thick hair

broad shouldered from swimming away

cutting through water, weightless

not carrying your stare, your aprobation, your disregard

if ignored, let us ignore better, make an art of failure

suck the pipe, squeeze the last drop, inject, pop

those blue pills, as blue as you made me feel

psychiatry says nobody can make you feel anything

you choose

did you choose to feel nothing and by nothing

cause my center to crush softly inward

like the river flowers we press in our books

before you were born

carried over generation from generation

I laid in the grass wondering why

no lover had sought to please me

and the boughs of the trees revealed themselves

as my hand wandered back and forth

drenched in sweat

for who can satisfy a tin box with its lid hammered shut

who can know the heart of a girl who is told before she can walk

she isn’t enough, she’ll never be near sufficient

then you walked out of the river

green and shining like forested afterbirth

you did not care about forms and structure

spelling and photographic reproduction

you had a tongue and eyes and hands

like a thought with action

you claimed me beneath alders and pine

stretching so high, embracing unseen faith

I became a woman that day

crying out beneath your stones and mud and lillies

as white as an urge

with pink in the center

craving to crest in sun

and fall wilted back into water

Devolvement 1


The porcelain

Smoother than

Oil in water

Claiming no purchase

Beseaches dreamer

Sleep

Beneath my surface

Remove your layers

Slow A-track deceit

Your wonderbras

Shaved parts

Here you lie

Exposed

Seeing yourself the way

Nobody else knows

Shards

dscn1772-2There is an edge

ever-changing, indescribable

and as you turn your shoulder

thinking the sun has only burnt

one side

the other is latticed

in marks of your exposure

as things of darkness will crawl

deep inside you like a well without end

and build with whitened fingers

their hungry descent

until you are changed

even as you taste the salt of your tears

staining your face like damage

blackening light into rotten parts

tearing your wings to pieces

it’s been so long you forgot

once you were able to climb

high into sky and feel something

unknown now like a lover

who has turned to enemy and stranger

instead without warning

the edge presents itself

in terrible hour like a sharp knife

one moment you are clinking glasses

smiling into the camera

and others remark

goodness she’s aged well

look how happy she looks

the next you are ripping the lies

from your arms, all that glitters

tearing into shreds artifice

tying together knots in hope

they can end

the sudden terror inhabiting you

always cruelest when it shows

just as you believe you might

have escaped

yoking you back

get on your knees

here you are, here you are

your toes grip the edge

you see the emptiness below

much like what lies inside

untethered, unnamed

for who can put a word

to terror? to hopelessness?

who can place a finger on the place

the rot set in and began

to devour the person you once were?

leaving a scarecrow

others do not see inside

the stuffing ready to ignite

they only see the perfect smile

accoutrements without truth

glittering like shards of glass

scattered in the night

Thrive

thShow me how

to thrive

not simply devoured

by starched white spread heart of palm

telling fortunes at Waldens pond

for the ice is surely as colorless

as mine own frosted breath

held in dove cot

awaiting relent

 

Show me how

to thrive

in wood cut and lithographic land

forging in Shakers wrapped hand

measurement of generations

prescribing latitude

and those born beneath ice water

hardening by each ratchet and slip

 

We may resemble the other

I assure you

I sink while you swim

festooned in spring

I hear your delight

caving snow into spectacle and whim

scoring snowy hide with virgin bemusement

leaving blushing to first flower

 

Show me

how to thrive

unwary of the cut of fencer’s lance

skaters take their effortless figure eight

cut me out while watching me sink

bleary are the reflecting lessons gleaned beneath

as trees wearing cost of growth will shield in poplar costs against fall

scooping handfuls of strain into colander air

 

Wait for the transport

urge yourself into print

pick a destination

maybe a flurry

picked in shake and shuffle

a bridal bouquet

wet confetti

new days

following season

over wooden bridge

frigid with warm step

Show me

how to thrive

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