Tempera

Query feels like a brand though it comes with veil

the doctors say, phantom pain becomes step mother

to fragile veins

first one to freeze come a cold snap

ready for tindering a bristling fire

at noon I want to eat warm eggs from your palm

touch your vermillion paint brush to my own face

feel the render of tempera against parchment

without any contempt for you, I wish you gone

but ink dries fast in the cold, it’s a myth it takes a warm day

to run a bath and slit your wrists

they never ask why, only how

the fire trucks blink like fallen damsons on melting streets

it was your enemy knocked on the door, broke it down, carried you out

not laughing at your slack form, the way your hair when wet

thins into dismal life line

the bequeath of surprise leaves us wordless

I with my bandages, you with your newly found soul

the sweetness of sharing this clementine center almost makes us forget our mutual hatred

to burn in respective votive, prayed to by sinners, also cherishing the role of loathing

dying is a slow storm, coming in squall, lost to its own menace

we leave the phone off the hook and become masks affixed to unpainted wall

maybe the next inhabitants will lift them gently from their nail

and remark before painting

that they left no shadow

ecstasy is the iris and the onyx

Oh no

don’t

dare write it

honestly, I’m warning you

don’t do it.

Haven’t you been listening?

People (that’s the noise you hear outside your cardboard box)

don’t (that’s a definite by the way)

want . to . hear. about. you.

Frankly? They’ve had it up to here

(or even higher, if you stand on a chair, but mind you don’t tip over)

with the words of women who possess

white skin, light colored eyes, a middle class background

or something approximating (after all, the middle class are dying, they are

collapsing under the weight of holding up a false fabric and you can see

the lie of it, peaking from underneath a pretend sky, yellowed with time)

you are not

in the trenches anymore, you safe, safe feminist

you are yesterday’s news wrapping up cold fish n’ chips

we read your forebearers already (sometimes I too found them depressing and self-involved)

the ones who (drowned themselves with stones in their felt pockets)

the ones who (put their heads in the oven, miraculously keeping their stockings from running and their lipstick without a smudge

the ones who (had privilege even as they thought they were dispossessed and impoverished by the stern buckle of man)

the ones who (could get a university degree, were not turned away from being served at a restaurant in Cambridge Massachusetts only last year, with #BLM on the brick wall a few streets down, what a fucking irony that was)

So until you are (a person of color on the OUTSIDE where people can decide to treat you with respect or shit on you from their delusion of superiority)

until you are (condemned, mocked, belittled, ignored, rejected, for that skin)

until you know (what it’s like to grow up without any money, security, education, safety, prospects)

we’ve heard you and we’re bored of you and we don’t want to hear anymore

click

dial tone

letter unopened

goodbye sender.

It is 2021. The worn shellac from the withering year before has

begun to buckle, we don’t know what to expect, we only know

what we can no longer tolerate, even as our ivory towers

continue to hum with the incessant, nascent buzz of egos

bathing in each other’s radiance (but they are too far away to really count)

(aren’t they?)

those left in the shadow, carrying mixed-genes in multicolor packages

drugs on the tongue, under strobes, nobody can tell where you’re from

ecstasy is the iris and the onyx

pick up their belongings and leave town for good

they are done with Pushcart trollies of people

bartering and bantering, blinkers full on

creating a better world out of the same blunt tools

we used last time to ill effect (putting people in jars, saying who is and isn’t worthy, over compensating and then rejecting those who were and now are not)

it makes them laugh and then cry, if they think on it

but they do not think on it often, they are focused instead

on walking without shoes and how, by doing so,

they feel everything

maybe even the smooth stones in Sylvia’s pocket (was it really felt? Or fur? Is fur allowed?)

as they eat their Vegan treat and rub their foreheads clean

of Athena’s damning pinprick.

Defacto

And the big ball in the sky and the slit eye of Un Chien Andalou and the upturned chin wielding the knife and the rinsing sink pouring sacred wine said:

Why don’t you believe in yourself?

Others who are fair to middling to pithy served over weak tea (don’t you just hate tepid and the nudity of wearing clothes?).

The result of waiting in your head, as others stream out and strap their wings, the consequence of exile, invariably madness, the quiet kind most likely, sometimes the type they label histrionic

which is really a way of saying get it out, your woman-hood and your messy gore, leave us nothing of who you were, be gone feelings, welcome the sunshine state of not giving a good god damn

They believe. They over believe. They sit fat and grand with crown and chips and mushy peas and rosacea and secret leak-proof underwear

they preen and fetishize their dusty heads with nothing special inside the sagging tent. So why not you?

You who are marvelous, hideous, magnificent, repulsive, malodorous from not washing (did Simone Mareuil wash underneath her arm-pits before committing suicide by self-immolation, dousing herself with gas-lit-fire in a public square somewhere) 

when the rot and the unplanted bulb decays in damp corners and still produces no birth. You who are broken in the long arm of fracture and making an art of surviving by licked many times, thin string, waking to the caw of crows and their beady-eyed-scream. Why not you?

You who succumbed to the Piper and didn’t wake up, not once, somnambulist, you write behind your wafer-thin eye-lids, ink streaming like borrowed tears, nobody reads, water or divination, they simply don’t believe that crap anymore (I don’t even believe in YOU anymore)

We wouldn’t lie to you would we? (whisper whisper whisper) we tell the truth (oh surely, we do, we do) we venerate you on Monday and poach your blue eggs badly on Thursday. Liar liar liar! You let the cat out and she was run over by the hill you never walk UP.

That’s why. That’s why. That’s why.

Ooohhhh that’s why
It fits like a glove (big hands, black heart) not your glove, your glove is velvet and lost, your glove didn’t ever feel right when it was on

fits like a mussel in your mouth, squirming. A muscle unused (you don’t desire me, I have lived too long and too short, I don’t drink enough to blot it out, I am a thing of dust that isn’t touched or fucked or run-over) cold mussels in brussels (overcooked always worse than raw)

I tried to be frank (all cold thumbs, warm brain, brain on fire, leaving debris of a life badly lived, in little love bites around her neck, praying mantis wearing jewels)

you turned me down for the jingle jangle and fizz and pop (old hat, large gloves, ashen feet, holes in the middle of you like whiteout) one pierced ear, Queen of Hearts. Black nave of Diamonds burrowed deep in fecund rib.

I would if I could (believe) but your exquisite lie is a third eye in my fever dream, it pulses like Soho

It tells me not to swallow.

(Inspired by Un Chien Andalou, 1929,  Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí).

Le repas

The way she cleans

puts away the day

into lopsided drawers that do not shut

well even on easy days

their contents lost in shuffle and exploit

planes over head, mornful drone, a whine

of grief as they attain height

her hands chapped from slapping herself

back to life

rivets run like zippers down her nails

a light somewhere is extinquished

another turned on, sudden furnace, shadows

vanquished, she has not drunk

all day, for the trembling in her hands

betrays the wait.

Dusk smears sky, oranges hang like

tired bosoms pressed in a woman’s dress

amidst plump leaves, blue-black birds

caw their hunger into the cavernous pitch, cats

with arched tails, disappear potently, eternally

her ankles swell with want, her thyroid

a box of treasure, alight with waiting in chocolate dusk

she dozes in her reverie, business put away

the calm of darkening, a hot bath scalding

dry air with its promise, oils filling her nostrils

pungent and wistful, infusion of sorrow

she remembers when

they lay together without fault

or breakage

the outline of their union

a mandala, with complicated lines leading back to circles

drawn in henna, indigo, cheap car paint, permanent in bare footed sprint

poured into a tattoo gun in the wild hinterlands of Canada

stabbed in little sticcatto for her eternal, sea sick

pleasure.

She lay then, thinking of

burning up

like fireworks

set alight to bloom and bloom till dry of pollen

in empty skies void of furtherment

she wanted to melt

the snow as she walked back

alone and hurting, wounded by her own loathing

a cigarette in her mouth

pressed against clenched, chipped teeth

and you? You were far off like winking lights in sea storm

and you were so far then… gone
without being gone

As is so much of life. Waiting. Closing curtains. Wrapping away disappointed hours

to bed, to claim, to screaming beneath wedged pillows

till the thankless clock in the downstairs anteroom chimes not

and without putting our heads in the oven even once

we are done
Done
Done.

Return my love, lay your grief down

I don’t care how sorry you are /

Because I have seen now /

The error called “us” /

Is bigger than we are. /

Our tiny insignificance /

Has already burned and turned to diamante ash /

There is nothing to say, to ash. /

It is my wish /

To rage in smoke /

Just as I learned today /

Babies born of smokers /

Usually end up with emphysema /

End up with holes in their lungs like lattice work in chantilly lace /

My least favorite thing is to think of the future and its slick, short, night-clubbing inevitability /

It looks like a darkening banana skin coming down the elevator, hitting basement on repeat /

Vanquishing hope to avoid the insouciance of age, invisibility and the dreg of illness. /

Sometimes I let myself briefly wonder /

What I will die of? Will I be alone? How much will it hurt? Why do you never get used to pain? Is it any wonder they strive to build artificial life? /

Other days it is hard to keep from dying, like the flower opening her lillied face to a desert and seeing the absence of nourishment. /

As I stand /

In ash /

Waist high /

You were /

Not as important as I led you to believe /

I say this, not to crush you /

For I have refused that need to inflict hurt /

On anyone but myself /

You simply never realized /

Because you’re not as brilliant as the outline of hot wax on fingertips /

A well shined bronze, shadows of madness, cages in novels /

That I was half a person /

Unable to understand how to inhabit a world of well oiled souls /

Where people work out to avoid cellulite, even if they are dissolving like white sugar cube inside. /

It’s what you do /

All of you /

Automatrons with data phallus, souls without windows /

I used to think it was real brave or real, real /

To wear my hemorrhaged bandages on the outside /

But it wasn’t. /

There isn’t room in this crowded world for the sick /

Let alone the well /

There wasn’t room for me /

In my parents marriage /

In my well brought up friends houses, with straight backs and braided hair before seven am and tepid eggs in their fragile shell /

No room in my own life, of empty vases because I don’t want, have never wanted, to pick the flowers, the wild scent /

I can’t even kill ants, swarming me, biting my frigid skin at night /

Like once you did, train track lover /

When we were demons and goddesses and liars. /

I wasn’t tutored in appreciation, or deception of how to survive the hanging /

Life bequeaths those of us born in violet hour /

And when I was born, my mom /

Lit up another cigarette and looked outside into the bleak world of wards and cut up hearts /

Not wondering how I would survive /

Her yellow child, her wallflower bride /

But how she would. /

When I was old enough I wondered how I would too /

Over and over, like practicing ballet will invariably deform your toes /

I grew misshapen in my ghosting despair /

While all around me, others who were well and adjusted and filled with jam and feathers /

Wondered what they’d have for tea, who they’d go down on at the office, where they got their hair dyed and how to fix the run in their cheap stockings /

How to bottle it … How? /

I am flying above the world on the key around my neck, the lock is in my bones, it rattles and disturbs me with its pricking /

People tell me to remain calm but I am already doused in gasoline and alight on the lyric pyre /

You watch with a bucket of water at your feet. You stand still and unmoving like every time, nothing is done to save /

Choose a side. Choose a side. Choose a fucking side! /

My nails grow long and bullets make polka dots in my dress like punctuation without sense /

Once more I am the young girl trying to dance away her hurt. Once more the Winter is hot and nothing freezes to kill the pestilence /

A man said on the TV the other day that he had no desire to better himself. A cult leader told us we could become gods if we just lowered our cameras. /

I wanted to learn to tie the knot in my core, right. /

There are golden tickets in the sky if you look long enough /

And it is not even bloody /

Fireworks night Charlie. /

I don’t care how sorry you are /

Because I have seen now /

The error called “us” /

Is bigger than we are.