What they saw

What they saw

was a fracture of four

or eight

kalidoscopic prisms divided

who knew how many parts constituted sum?

One

an accent, a way of holding herself, spine sharp against humid skin

the torn down dancer inside

they levied their best pipe bombs

you don’t know suffering, you don’t know duress

all your life you had it easy

they lobbed over the wall and

a part of her that wasn’t her at all

was gone.

She had so many pieces left

scattered like dried petals and torn out chunks of hair

each one held a secret

was violate for its succumbing

they had their edges of cruelty

a quota for destruction, she existed in the

erased margins, picking her way through fatigued debris

others baggage and make shift games

falling on top of her

close the suitcase

suffocate the girl

here is Wendy here is Jane.

She’s a kid again, the boys are playing

marbles on her back

later she will have a tattoo where

their game turned nasty and left its

ugly smudge of sweat

filling in the spaces of rage

with ink and screams, uneaten pain getting cold

put frills on it and you’re ready for prom.

She’s walking in your shoes, they don’t nearly fit

they’re going to hobble her run at the kitchen table at night

father carves a turkey into birthday cake

slices of trust, quarters of must, beg for mercy

dot your i’s

her mother has something in her eye

guilt, shame, blot out the voices, lock them

between your legs, don’t cut your hair

let it grow like a river until you can climb

out of your underground sink hole

here is a change of clothes, a new

language, some pennies for a fast train

felate the man who carries your bags

compensate his wife with stark widow’s stare

you’ve lost your first three turns at the table.

Fingered beneath crinoline, elastic biting inner thighs

stockings wet hanging over the rue de cremieux

as he rolls his tongue in your ear like a edible snail

you recoil and spring

down the side of buildings, a black cat is not sought

her search for cream forming on first milk of morning

kiss me with your entire mouth, till I bite my lips blue

let no words spill out, lay me down, taste my colors

fingering brail with sticky pianist hands

speak in sound

hear me now

movement is a push

then you are in

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Lingua

If you saw everything in retrospect

What language would you hear?

Climbing through cumulus clouds

The color of death valley

Sand strewn prayers

Over scraped knees and heavy cello bow

You slapped me backhanded

I watched myself

Fall like water

Wet against the sound

It excited you to see

Blood on my lips

The outline of violence

Lacing time and roses with secrets

You look out at a stark dull day

Feel glad you have the assurance of what stands rigid behind closed doors

We wear bright smiles at parties

The golden couple, they admire our rehearsal

Like pedigree animals who mask their bad nature

I’d bite your hand

And he’d fill your throat with glass

The lowered sun casting a haze over

Our magnification

Teaching darkness to obscure the simmering

Hand pinching my thighs open, striking

Quiet match of fire beneath

I hold onto your dismissal

Like butterflies

Slipping and fleeting

Driftwood

Skipped stones as smooth as

Your tongue in my mouth

What language do you speak?

As you lean in to remove all hope

And pinching between wet fingers

Extinguish light til only the circumference

Of stars

Lend their distant

Glow

And that someone was you

Most of my life I had a steadfast rule:

only date people capable of love

who have the courage to show you their heart

preferably girls who wear glasses, have larger hands, broader shoulders

it was a thing you see …

to stop me feeling like a beast

I had been told repeatedly when little

you’re a damn ungainly child

look at your monstrous Frankenstein shoulders

see your long white witches fingers

myopic squinting from behind trees

coke bottle glasses, badly cut hair, missing front teeth

that’s what I see, when I look in the mirror now

the girl with a fistful of neglect and a dragon tail.

I felt like a freak from the get-go

patch over one eye because it was lazy

wetting the bed into double-digits

work on your personality child it’s the only damn thing you’ll have

I was the girl who lived in a coal filled basement

eating would-be-diamonds in French

going out at night picking flowers before they saw sun, turning them into moon shine

then you broke all my rules

in that way you have, that’s unapologetic, visceral and bittersweet

you with your California tan and your miniature temper

you with your indigent words about love and how

some of us just don’t go there

I’d been hiding in my coal mine most of my life

my mouth was blackened from eating rocks, my teeth all broken

you shone a light on me and said

how about being something different tonight?

what would it feel like if you didn’t need promises

what did they bequeath you anyway?

egalitarian, aiming in the same direction all the time

repeat the pattern, more the fool

how would it be, if you left your rule book at home

tripped the light fantastic with me?

I’d built up my arguments for everything

they hung in rows like early Danish tulips

I didn’t want to be an ungainly laughing-stock

didn’t want to be the spectacled girl people rejected

don’t want to be told I was no good anymore

you showed me; if you stop having expectations

just let go, then you’re free

I’d spent my life reacting to what I’d seen

my handsome father sleeping around, my mother’s absence

promises broken, lovers lying, the torture of romance

now I realized, it’s not cute anymore, to keep repeating bad patterns

how about you do what you want for a change?

I wanted you

as much as I’d wanted anything

I wanted this moment

not tomorrow or yesterday

but now

I wanted your cocksure attitude and

the relief of your certainty, things don’t last

I wanted the sell by date and the last dance of the evening

because I’d be the one taking you home

and you, you were fresh-faced and confident

like only a girl who is sure of herself can be

with your straight back and your ballerina’s neck

it took this long to find out; I’d just been following ghosts

not letting myself out of my own trap

to feel the circumference and shine of life, without fear

find in my escape from self-hate, a world outside rules and confinement

something real and

that someone was you

for 24 hours or a year

suddenly time didn’t matter or what people avowed

you see, nobody knows, and nothing is real

except now

you and me

a girl with dragon tail and penchant for seeing

the glitter of sweat on your thin collarbone

Waiting for you to read my mind

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There is

An abacus

Counting sense and nonsense

On the high cheeks of a woman

Whose done saying what she’s told

The photographer

Catches her unease

In the shape of her mouth

It would taste of raspberry, that’s obvious

At night, the crystal of your half filled glass shines

Ice melting slow like peeling clothes

Staring at naked ghosts with their hands up

Sexing on dirty carpets with clean minds

Watching flashbacks of regrets and pleasure

Idling trucks melting snow with their hung over breath

If you were a pill I’d O.D. on your potency

Skipping heartbeat, chasing down roads, your diminishing form

You left one day intact and never returned

Sending a doppelgänger

A confidence artist, in your stead

Who told me; I like your eyes they’re untamed

With a paper tongue and windscreen brow

Wiping away the rain, that endlessly fell

We must get used to death

In each pause, in the rhythm

I touched your skin

And thought of new England apples

The first taste

Belief comes last

Use your imagination

Can you see me?

I’m standing waist deep

Waiting for you to read my mind

Like you did once with the alacrity of an gymnast

In the throes of passion

Braile

Morse code

Signs and wonders

Photos over exposed

Ringing phones in the night

Knowing the destination in your fingers and finding

Without map or lights switched on

Blacking out cries

To be found

Oh god

To be found again

By you

Reach out

the-hunger-1983-0-58-35-323If I had the courage to tell you

I’d tell you I’m foolish

as they say in Texas; this isn’t my first rodeo

I know better

here I am though, thinking of you

remembering the way you move when

you pause to sit down

sleek and translucent like silk

the fall of your chin, and rise of your clavicle

how the harpsichord of your mouth bows and sends

me crossing my legs in want

how I know you diminish yourself

cannot see, what I

quiet and observant

in my courageless pretense of being

just friends

notice in the gentle sway of you

sometimes I wish the world woke up

and girls loved girls everywhere

though it would be like chocolate

lovely at first and then too much

there is something sacred in smaller numbers

we are rare night birds who fly singing

when everyone else is asleep

sometimes we recognize each other just by

a glance

like a language only we damson girls speak

those who love others in whispers

for the most part it is a lonely walk

being the cuckoo in the nest

watching girls you thought glorious, invariably fall in love with boys

their hearts broken when you

could have given them the spin of a dream

it is not the weft of this world to permit

girls who love girls become the norm

we will always be the nightingale and the black swan

I will feel the need to apologize

if I look at you too long

for it is a respectful dance we learn

to stay our distance and not become

a pastiche or cliche; the girl who loved girls led astray

by someone incapable of returning her ardor

though if you could just break the rules

sometimes I suspect, in the way you gaze back

all redolent and tied tightly with secrets

we’d have a grand ole time

there are worlds you haven’t even imagined

places you cannot give names to

once you swim to that fair isle, few return willingly

I don’t boast but what’s wrong with admitting

love between girls has a special season

deep and sonorous, we think such things do not exist

only because our imagination is not so

vivid

if you gave me one word or even

on a certain day, when feeling bold I may

require just a particular arching smile

as you let go and said; Yes I do

I’d not hesitate to make you mine

all your closeted longing

the belief you hold, that love has a sell by date

and you are not worthy

I would remove each of those

aches like the layers of an artichoke

delving into what makes you tremble

and find there, the pain and the longing

owning no words just primal need

like a river coming to flood the delta

I’d pour myself into your loneliness

the many nights you dreamed, of being reached so deep

gave up thinking that will never be me, I could not be loved that much

in the reflection of my longing, you would see

the worth of you and how all those fears

were just surfaces as yet untouched

for we who dance

together

never

stop

and I will not let go

if you just

reach

out

Vapor

V005

Your head moves under hot lights

thrashing

a passion as you open your mouth wide

roar your words

small teeth, thin lips

skin colored by strobes

I want your impulse

your brave furious eyes

your mad flung acrobats anger

it’s the addiction to throwing aside

caution

striking out like match on ink

permanently marking your stride in heat

I watched you take a whole roomful

swallow them whole with your flame-thrower energy

spitting them into stars and tilting laughing

as they adored you and didn’t know why

your mercury vapor left them reeling

clasping my hand in the car with headlights off

driving blind down blurred country roads

inside me with urgency born of

thunder and trees struck silver

firing in strange shapes of want

it felt like flying, I grabbed a tuft of you

spun like a catherine wheel in your orbit

time was fast and everyone watched as

we climbed buildings in our wonderlust

they’re crazy, they’re so in love

they’ll burn out, they’ll extinquish each other

we never did

not until the key stuck, didn’t turn around anymore

rusted and tired of pushing wooden horses

tired in their paint and festoon

oh I would have made them well again

as I did you

just for one more shivering impulse

riding your coat tails as you took in

the capture of your swell

kissing me beneath table tops

our faces glittering from thrown aside masks

hands reaching, climbing up skin

dance of thundering hearts clamoring to be

still

as you lay now, white out, no sound

I dance contorting to cause a smile

there is none

only a wick, half used, half submerged

in waxen reproduction of what was once real

give her back!

give her back!

I yell at rooms without inhabitants

tables missing their chairs

windows containing no view

your fingers trembling in mine

if I could have

I would have

made us one

save this image; a kiss lasting past quitting time

you pull away and reach in again

no ending,  just softness

a song we live inside

calling us home

there we go

hand in hand

through the vapor

vanishing

 

1995 was

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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