The terror & beauty

145675384-640x640When you’re a writer people tend to think

you’re writing about them

that’s if they are arrogant or believe you must feel that way 

so often I am not writing about the person who believes I am

so often I want to write that as a preface before the poem

this is not about you / that ship sailed / that ship never was

securely moored or even existed

sometimes

or should I say, just once

it was about you

I did want you to know

just as I couldn’t bring myself to say it face to face

or sound the words out loud for fear

what is spoken is then real

I didn’t think of myself as a coward, where emotions were concerned

yet found myself floundering and blushing in your presence

like a school child again

perhaps it is because from the outset, you were impossible

as if I had stuffed all my wishes into a jar and set it to sea

and you had returned in the jar, stepping out and holding out your hand

I didn’t know if you liked women, if you liked me and my kind

there’s a die-hard rule among girls who like girls

don’t date bi-curious, don’t let yourself get broken

don’t show your cards until it’s patently obvious

but you’re not an obvious kind of person and you weren’t going

to show me anything until I took the plunge

you said i’d get bored but it’s the other way around

you stay like migrating butterflies, only a short time

before going on with your pilgrimage

and those who want more of you

watch the skies with only memories

I admit I am a simple woman emotionally, who has

a heart easily penetrated by the feeling of loss

but it is time for us both to change

you to trust, me to let go and not need

forever as a promise

it was your mystery from the outset

the little shape of you and your deep voice

wound me up into knots,  got me crazy

a tiny dancer on the fringe of my consciousness

I held back because it terrified me

those kinds of feelings don’t come around often

I keep myself in check and don’t pursue

I wait for them to come to me, it’s safer

but you wouldn’t do that, it’s not your style, I found myself

walking in your direction, wobbly on my feet

from the taste of nerves

for girls like you don’t exist

they are carved out of yearning

I made you with my thoughts

for if I could have said everything I searched for

and put it into a woman

she would have been you

except surely I was imagining it

when I saw you look at me in a way

usually meant for other times

surely what I felt, was not reciprocated

for emotions aren’t psychic are they?

could you hear what I felt, as clearly as if I had

spoken it aloud? Could you tell by the burning

in my eyes, the wetness of my mouth?

As I lay in bed at night I would try to unpick

the moves we made around each other

trying to guage what was real and imaginary

how could I reveal my heart if there was a chance

you’d repulse me and i’d be wrong?

i’ve never been the kind of woman to put myself out there

take those kinds of chances

it’s not a lack of courage

I’m simply not going to walk into rejection

if you know its taste you don’t go searching

but as with all emotions, they either die from neglect

or swell in intensity

I could not sleep, I lost my appetite

searching for you in the folds of day

until it was impossible not to say

even if you turned and laughed

patted me on the cheek and said

I feel sorry for you

but we who have lived in this world a while

can hear beneath the arch and curl

if we really listen

those hidden things people do not tell

and I thought I saw

in the corners of your motion

something stir

so if you read this; yes it is about you

and if you wonder; yes I do

and if you call for me; I will come

to the summit where people who are strangers and known

stand and expose themselves to

the terror and beauty of

their desire

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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

Two cars going in separate directions

What is contained in motion? In separation? In the fluid trajectory of two cars

driving in different directions

when once they drove together in one, singular and twice

with music playing like a warm stove in Winter

watchful eyes glinting at the movement of her soapy shoulders

inhaling a song they both liked

was it really so long ago? time can be a fickle fellow

you believe things have not changed before

the car wreck distorting metal into specters, and then mangled see

all the signs and wonders leading to your loss

glaring and obvious as they were not before

I would say four years, six, maybe more

since like powdered sugar you shook her

out of your system and changed the channel

you think she couldn’t pick up on the dull flat key of your promises

or the way you did not meet her pleading eye

and had someone else nearby

parked with engine still running

waiting her eventual hot buttered turn

you were bound to return to the past

as your memory dissolved through gauze

that is all that remained sharp

like a knife on my chest will cut

only so deep and then retreive

sticky piecemeal

baking it into cakes and giving alms

when we are neither penitent nor dead

but live on

in seperation

as time comes and goes like a trance

one moment I am holding a glass

of your words

believing myself loved

the next the house is being emptied

sold for next family to inhabit, my footsteps

there was a time I held onto

boxes of memories like a kite

I saw if you let go of the string

they rose higher and higher out of sight

more beautiful for freedom

now I can pack the entirity of me

in one small bag and still have room for heartache

this is the season of change

the radio host warns us of impending rain

another storm like last year and the one before

we threw sharp glances at each other until there was no more

blood left inside to keep warm

I feel no regret, only the beckon of movement

on to the future and maybe

I will not need a car where I am heading

watching the horizon bleed

its first bidding autumn evening

and I remember laying with you watching tv

in the dark, the feel of your fingers on my neck

remember reading Bridges of Madison County, thinking

surely people do not live like that

and the car

waiting at the stoplights

long after they could have driven on

blinking in humid downpour

blinking for her to get out and run toward

something already buried and underground

I hear the gear shift

watch in rear mirror

the outline of you

grow gradually thinner

against orange light

and the sound of someone

crying out

https://youtu.be/voZI8NXEO6M

What they have to learn

The teacher hadn’t enjoyed teaching in a long while

ever since her notions and reality rubbed against one another

exploding the myth she held in teaching college, of making a difference

her students

whom the administrators asked her to refer to as clients

wanted to pay for a degree, not to learn

we don’t have time to study they lamented

we are too busy with everything else which is, so much more important

the students

did not respect her because she earned less than

they believed they would earn in a few years time

she wanted to say DREAM ON but it was no longer acceptable

to tell the truth

especially with college administrators

(who were paid well, to shuffle papers from desk to desk)

watching in the wings

she recalled why

she had wanted to be a teacher

at eight she’d been sent to a foster home

where the ‘father’ decided to show and tell

using his fingers in wrong positions

she ran away and lived

underneath a bridge for the night

listening to the stars wink on and off

and the weave and fall of the world

the next day they found her, dirty and lost

spanked her for making up lies about being abused

and sent her to another foster home

this time the mother

starved her lean

told her she was fat and ugly

when she hardly weighed in

got her to clean and cook and scrub

she preferred that kind of reality

it didn’t involve lies it was honest in its

taste of cruel

when summer was over and she returned to school

a new teacher had begun work

she had the faraway eyes of a dreamer

and her voice was soft like bird song

without saying a word she knew the children who

had been neglected and abused

she’d encourage them often and whisper in their ears

this may seem like this is all there is

but there’s so much more!

one day you will be free to escape your confines

you can shrug off your sadness and become

anything you want

so when the time came for her to age out of the system

she didn’t bring flowers and a card for her foster-mother

instead she packed her single bag and left before

morning showed in the sky

the room was bare and emptied but somehow

it didn’t look so different to when she’d lain there

trying to take up the smallest space

funny that we can inhabit a place for so many years and

when we leave it’s like we were never there

a wraith who didn’t get heard or couldn’t

break out of her little mincing trap of potted meat

she hated the flabby jowls and empty eyes

of those who pretended to keep

her safe

being old enough now to look after herself she

enrolled in teaching college hoping one day

she could reach a child who sat at the back of class

with dirty socks and a mouth full of regret

but time moves on and things change even as they stay the same

kids become hardened, demanding, insolent

hurry up, please it’s time!

parents throw expectations like rocks and call educators

pathetic losers who can’t do, so they teach

she wondered

is cruelty a vein, like in a rock

inherited over time to savage and destabilize

our yearning for safety?

standing there, in her cheap hose and one good pair of shoes

the scuff blacked out by polishing

she saw in the sassing faces of her classroom

a loss of care for changing the world

her own longing to reach through time and alter

one person’s trajectory lost

in the hustle bustle of uncaring formula

spitting out diplomas and marching forward

not thinking at all

about what they have to learn

Written for World Teacher Day. In appreciation of teachers.