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

Unrequited love longs

New York in The 1960's - 70's (3)I didn’t know you felt that way

just as the golden-haired girl

with bleached French roots

didn’t know I felt for her

(or worse, knew, and felt

less than dismissal)

we are ebony dominoes

pass the plain papered parcel

our affections whittled and sharpen

by the smoky knowledge we can never

confess ourselves or pardon

to objects of secreted passion

so remote and out of touch

the girl who falls for

a woman who loves men

the heterosexual who has a crush

on a flamboyant boy

things get broken without throwing

why is emotion so deluded?

I will never tell her my secret

just as you will not reveal yours

in our actions and what we do not say

there is the truth

explaining the easy pain of social discourse

masking itself behind awkwardness

when she talks about the men she dates

I dare not say … choose me you fool

I could make you dance

in a way you have not yet discovered

some people hang out of reach

even for sailors

leaning into the confessional surge

I can empathize

I would never have said yes to unwanted

dinner guests

so why should she entertain a cliché?

girls who like girls fall for those who

cannot be reached across life boats

better I hold my green tongue

admire from afar

the provoking shape of her

the way she knows

people are watching

her sway to

unrequited love songs