Calm


i forget how far away I am

i have always been … too far


she says; Goodbye darling

in a voice I know better than my own 

a voice playing in my inner ear 

avoir d’autres chats à fouetter

distracted after my first mistake 
pencil in mouth, sucking on lead
never good enough or precise in my knit

i don't know if

it's the last time I'll hear those words

what I do know

is I'm trying to stop myself

crawling out of my skin

and I can't say why this has happened
this creature who seeks succor 
at the end of the day 
to hear your voice
letting her know you're okay 

but they'll never know
my child's wrapped need 

i can set a tone
as ships collide and planes come down
when literally the sea is on fire and
she's no longer coming home 
These thirty years 
cyclones making cream of wheat in fields

and when I'm at my worst

i sound

so damn calm
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It is in horror, we see truth

horse-2565584_960_7201262177708.jpg

Before

is a color I cannot describe

a place I don’t fit into anymore.

 

Even if I am restored

things will be changed for good

for most of us there are times

that shape our marrow

could be in the form of torment

maybe sorrow, sometimes joy

often the hardest times leave deepest imprint

perhaps it shouldn’t be that way

we should rejoice our luck a little, usually too busy enjoying ourselves

to leave permanent mark or maybe, challenge speaks louder than mirth

it is easy to accept a good day like a hot bath

than deal with a bad and hollow foe

that’s when our quick is sharpened,the story of our lives written

on the tip-toe of endurance

and what if we do not want to endure?

too bad, shit happens, legs break, minds crack

we’re going to end up there at some point

better waterproof our leaking sides best we can

the ocean isn’t a forgiving mistress.

 

When I fell, my mouth filled with salt

even then I didn’t know how far torment, reached down

it was a well, beneath the sea

a second drowning

for those who long to be free above ground

shackles of the merciless kind

only then I wondered at the strength of others

enduring from such an early age whilst I

ran long in the garden, unawares, chasing butterflies without a care

thinking I knew real pain from a momentary hurt

I knew so little

just a moment ago and a life time apart.

 

I am a twin of my previous self

we stand on different sides of the same coin

I am submerged, she is still, basking in the glow of a harvest moon

sometimes I look over at her and feel such envy

anger for my lack of appreciation when I, was her

but you cannot lead a horse to water

you cannot teach a child what she must learn

getting stung on the principle, she discovers through pain

it wasn’t in my thoughts that I should be

the girl on the other side of the echo, pleading to return

I don’t know if I will be permitted

but should I ever, walk again without curse

it won’t be as the same person, but a mixture of two

once you’ve seen yourself and begged for mercy

everything alters and everything stays the same

it’s up to you to be mindful of what you learned in that maze of pain

I learned what we think of as hardship

is often just everyday life

what we believe is suffering

can be comfort compared to other lives

when we don’t think we can change

then we aren’t given a chance, we know we should have

it is in diminishment we find elucidation

it is in horror we see truth.

 

Let me back inside my life again

and I will not be the girl who, took the easy road

for she now knows, just how deep anguish can go

it is in the tangle of the briar

and the wormwood of old trees

whispering advice never heeded

by the youth who believe themselves free.

 

Before

is a color I cannot describe

a place I don’t fit into anymore

 

 

For Paul

016_imogen-cunningham_theredlistIn the other place of keeping

afterward when door is softly closed

and light extinguished

where flowers bloom without need of sun

perfuming air with unseen stamen

at last you are unburdened, free of torment

we sit at oiled wood table

eating buttered toast with fingertips

you tell me of  real things

that time you fell into a river as

you reached for tires swinging overhead

just one more inch and you’d have been saved

from submerging with oily fish

and yet you say, it taught you

the value of sinking and how quiet

beneath the world can be

where creatures with opaque eyes glide past

watching you try to breathe

they called it a near drowning

you claimed second-sight

we shuffle our checkers, mindful

it’s your turn to win tonight

 

for Paul

you were a brother of sorts

sprinting ahead of jostling crowd

lean and bronzed by effort

your heart a flutter of machination

once you said, now I am old

and I laughed and reminded you

there’s so much time left

except you knew

and I did not

time can collapse upon itself

just as it begins so it can end

all the days we spent waiting for the next

better to live now and climb

that tree to sling rope and dangle seat

children long after us

will come to the river and watch

each others fear and then wonder

jumping into the void

and as you are gone

I clear away the plates and ready for the next day

not sure it will be free of rain

I hear you outside among the trees

you are laughing at me

for my fear of things I cannot know

remember, you say, it’s not about control

it’s about having the courage to try

I watch you walk toward the river

you are straight and lean again

no scars, no pain cross your way

I want to go with you but you have told me

it is not yet time

we’ll play again, be patient

master this moment

live now in the warm rush of water

watching overhead

moving clouds turning from blue to white

and then to grey

 

For Paul. You counted, and you mattered.

 

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

Presque vu

MSDMAOF EC057A noise disturbed deep night

rinsing slumbering cloak of peace

in my wake I almost see

the outline of you beckoning

come out to the moon

you sign

dancing in peals

incomplete and ethereal

with crooked smile

turning your feet across

the epiphany of carpet

checkered in fistfuls of

left over dream

where

what you think you see

is uncertain and irregular

touching magic between

there and here

as time can lisp

and places exist

that are not with day

fully real

Stillborn

thFrom Germany to Australia your parents fled

the brush of taint

your mother a beauty

your father with only enough room in his heart

for singular devotion

when she died, cut down by trolley car in front of you

aged six, catching the splatter of her broken skull

he took you into his bed to make up for her absence

you grew wan on divulgence of sin

til neighbors found out and your doors were broken

three men in uniform standing around the bed

get out they said

the smear of their inferred condemnation thick in your ears

like river mud swallowing you up among grubs and slugs

who blames a child for her abuse?

those who know nothing of truth, shining their finery with glass

you walked the line all the way to a foster home with metal teeth

thrown out at 17 for falling in love and shaming their Baptist ideals

as you and he prepared to marry he rode his bike in the night to pick up

his mother’s narrow ring

skidding on freak ice on the way back his head caved in like an exploding star

you stood at the altar alone waiting

impatient clock showing

he will not attend

afterward with nothing, there was no reason to stay

someone said like they do before you pass 20

let’s go to India

so you packed up your emptiness, put your leather sandals on

high in the Himalayas you caught the fever and nuns with tight wrapped mouths

whirled with lines and decay

nursed you as you slipped in and out of consciousness

liquid and sorrow pouring from you in bucket loads

a miracle! they announced when clawed your way back

what did you have to live for? being the whispered irony

and there, in the desolation of knowing nothing you walked

kept on walking until your feet blistered and your soul took flight

in the low hanging mangrove trees

where at night the shadows looked like an epiphany and you decided

I will return to my native land, the one of my ancestors

you wrote a distant aunt, she replied; come to the black forest we have

mud that will cleanse you of your sorrow and broad-shouldered men

Germany with its fairy tale castles and starched people rolling their own

you clambered over your wreckage, beginning again as only the young can

a flutist falling in love with your dark eyes and shiny thick Germanic hair

a marriage led to loneliness, he toured, you waited, touching his absence

with lightest fingertip

until it seemed being without him, would fill you more than staying put

traveling to Greece alone, you burned and burned and burned

turning yourself into oak

a waiter slept in your bed and kept you cool

against the battering murmur of sea tapping at french windows

life grew inside of you

when you took your first real job in London’s garish metropolis

heaving with anticipation and empty suitcases of hope

your daughter gave you the first peace you ever knew

a perfect child with a little mouth and large eyes

your Greek baby she lay in the curve of your hips smiling

and you breathed, deeply, and slow

like a long traveled bird finds purchase and easement

on empty shore

she, with her little tiny fingers and little feet

died of crib death just as

a match can be blown out never to

be re-lit

feeling like she hadn’t existed and she couldn’t be gone

here was your second decade of sorrow

etched between your fine eyes and deep clavicle

WHY? was not a word you used

absent of all

living only because your chest deemed it necessary to rise and fall

in time to your still-born ache framed

in reluctant silver requiring continual polish

you wanted to hurl yourself out of existence

yet you flourished as if life had said

we have taken and now we nourish

you grew successful, wealthy, every night you tucked yourself up

alone in a singletons bed

until the smell of the sea on the shores of Australia called you

it’s been eighteen years and it’s time

to come home

passing over Sydney Opera House you saw

the curve of sky and water meet

something within you released

he seemed to be waiting in the first corner you turned

as if always there, just ready to reveal

his promise to stay

with time they say pain subsides

which you know isn’t quite true

though love can keep together broken halves

by its stubborn hold on people who

would otherwise fracture and become

light on water skimming surface

it was not fair,  it was not right

now you are back in your homeland where

you began and will draw to a close

I hope

with the knowledge that even lives

built on pyres can hold

depths we release like night birds

flying unseen

overhead

Unwilling

016_imogen-cunningham_theredlistThere are differing forms of narcissism

and sadness

wrenching and unyielding

can produce

solid fat trapped in water

thickened floating, unformed intention

we cannot breathe

holding hands to jump rope pinching noses

against fumes of exhaust

her knees were smoother and brown

elbows protrude like question marks

and when you are both fortunate enough to be old

her breasts will still point upward

whilst you shall swing heavily like a dowel

losing time with the rest of the world

she is lighter, her skip higher, cheeks flush with

the sting of cold weather tingeing red pinpoints

you don’t know yet

a time comes, the path breaks

one way is without constraint

the other a heaviness

you cannot shrug like boiled wool

as you see her wet feet climb upward

there is nothing to stop the relenting undertow

that’s what children don’t know

when they play behind wire and protection of youth

but if you look closely

like the colt whose legs and teeth are examined by horse breeder

tapping his aquiline nose

you can tell the furlow of a soul

in their pedigree and infection

do they have worms or marrow?

she was born hot and unwilling

jaundice beginning with first labored breath

but if you gave her a chance to dance

she would break over you, turn into water

a hundred fingers enclosing

circles of diminishment

no matter how fast she danced

legacy caught up and held her down

Queen of Thorns

grandma why didn’t you

prune me back when you had the chance?

cut off my head and let dead parts turn me violet

before you grew demented and wan

why didn’t you tear into my stuffing and let

the tartan apple seed scatter

maybe I would have stopped being a child

turning into a great ancient tree

where the girls who had smooth unwrinkled brows

could climb and flash their starched knickers

hanging upside down catching bird song

reflecting off fish pond surrounded by nettles

I was always better at being a spectator

than entertaining life’s specters

you should have cut the cord

played your last best record

let the needle run it through

scratching out hurt and

unwilling children