Needle

Learned early

How to let go

Always saying goodbye

Short twitches of time

I learned

Through closing french windows

Palid light playing in empty spaces

Where dust looks like a jewel and distance

Can be swept up with the debris clamoring to get there

Doing nothing honors nothing

So we packed our memories in minced words

The river poorly stretching like colourless yawn

You inhabited the past before a future existed

Leaving, the ambelical chord severed in a neat recoil

And I learned, as in your turn you learned and in your mother’s turn she knew

Not to expect the people who should love you, to stay

I am a string of colored glass about memories neck

And as the rocket becomes totem in rain swollen skies

I wish myself an astronaut

To propel from tierra and leave behind legacies

Of loss

On a hot night, my hand sweats the melting ice tonguing glass

And in our imagination
we are needed

Vouched for by a tight stitched safety net spread over jagged edges

I was told I said thank you and sorry too much

So I quit saying both

Though it was only a habit bourne from

Being from people who never apologized.

Letting go is the most familiar feeling I possess

I turn to it like a lined book and scribble my fears in its grimy recesses

And the hairbrush and night light you left behind

Burns out and stays as cold as walking around the house without socks

Clings and repels

Calling in sick

Staying absent there is more oxygen

Catch me if you can says the long distance runner

We who stop and start our watches, so many times

Much used joints ache prematurely

And the thrum of rain is a constant

Thread through memory books

Poised as young dancers

Will crane to catch

Every elongation of unfolding sound

It was what bonded us

Immediate, like transferred ink

Can’t be licked off

The intimate knowing of good-byes and loss

Its reverberation in unused spare rooms

Pacing emptiness and her poor assuage

Until it was our turn

To raise the knife and bring our uncertainty

Puncture through fine quill of transparency

Hurt has that synonym

A song playing on repeat

Forever tasked to jumping her needle

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Splinter

8.Boubat.-Portugal_-1956There is a thin slice of glass in my foot

I cannot see it

but I know it’s there

at night when

the fan whirls like a dervish overhead

and I play the xylophone between my legs

a storm blows in

like a warning and a representation

of everything felt and bottled up

old trees hold on, their roots tested

by the metal of young wind hurling

all order into chaos

we stand in our night-clothes

looking over fences

at destruction

she has a white line the length of her stomach

he has a scar hidden in his throat

mine is without and within like

a snake who cannot decide

which part to digest first

we three are the wounded lovers

with our perpetual thirst for

promises to ring true

devotion to stay where it was first placed

by the window in a jar of water

to bloom and scent the pulse of night

but such things rarely obey

wont of humans without power

the storm and her threading fingers

lays waste to our belief we control

even the tiniest morsel of this crochet world

…(l)…

when he married her

he thought she would obey

the tick tock of her laboring heart

stay steadfast by his side in the howling wind

but she was a maelstrom of her own

making

soon the wedge in their marital bed

was a dry river without resurrection

…(ll)…

she wanted

her husband to save her

when the doctor said C.A.N.C.E.R. and she turned

to the eyes of her children and they

looked away in painted terror

but he only knew how to put out fires

not the slow melt of all safe things she had

taken for granted 33 years

so they diverged

like a split oak touched by

lightning will remain

upright yet stranger to its mate

…(lll)…

and she was the string

between the wounded male and female

her own heart hollowed out

murmuring at night like a singleton

by the small hands of trust and promises

unkept

it was as her grandmother said

a poor thing to imagine humans

to remain steadfast

after all, the storm blew everything

even our very best intentions

whipping them into the air

until they were fragments of themselves

transformed what we knew

what we were familiar with

lending no safe harbor

for the weakened need to have surety

the only thing keeping them

upright

was their conjoined pain

a frayed ribbon between three houses

in the wildfire dead of night

where even

creatures who prefer darkness

stayed in their nests

for it was only then, in the tempest

they felt themselves capable

of surviving another moment

only then

shouting their grief into four pursing winds

writing pain along the narrow margins

of life and death

they lived another day

and on that day

wrecked and emptied

found succor in the equal fall of others

bending to pick up the debris of

their former selves

rent into splintered pieces

unrecognizable and sharp to the touch

For what they did yet not know

140829195756-22-women-in-comedy-restricted-horizontal-large-galleryYou thought it was bad when

you got your first zit

and the unblemished skin of your youth

erupted like Everest

you thought it was bad when

you got your first stretch-mark

and the smooth thighs and breasts of your growth

betrayed the camouflage

you thought it was bad when

you got your first scar

a thin line of emptiness which they said

the bikini would hide

you thought it was bad when

you sagged and you spun with weight loss and gain

in the span of twelve fevered months

and then it seemed

unimportant

because those scars

the immature loss of vanity and adulation

crying over not fitting into yourself

the lament of sudden change

was less than the stubborn plant of your feet

in survival

and you went to your neighbor

who was missing a breast

both of you shared

the disjointed humor of pain

and you went to your preacher

who had lost his testicle

he joked about being single

and you went to your park

saw women with brain tumors cut out

walking their high energy dogs

and you saw

this silly game of magazines and perfection

of I will stay 20 and flawless forever

of men who would leave when you get cut up and bleed

how it is but part of a bigger picture

that of sweat and guts and fear

and surviving through gritted teeth

even if he left because you were no longer perky and up for it

because you threw up at midnight instead of

giving him head

even if the girl at work could wear heels and short skirts

and you hid your swollen stomach behind swaths of cotton

or couldn’t get out of your bed

because then … just as everything seemed

to be wrinkling and disintegrating and rebuilding

into something unfamiliar and changed and partially incomplete

another man with light in his eyes

who didn’t care about such things

smiled at you as you walked beneath the yawning trees

because your medication said

avoid direct sunlight

and he said

I have the same problem which makes it hard living here doesn’t it?

and you talked and he smiled

and said

I like the way your eyes twinkle

and you said

I get that from my grandmother

even when she was eighty-five she was

proposed to by farmers who thought

she looked like a kind of Katherine Hepburn

and he said

I can see that

red

would you like to meet here tomorrow again?

and you saw the way the world really worked

underneath the adverts for boob jobs and butt lifts

and reality tv that’s nothing of the sort

his hand brushed yours and you saw

sunspots on both

it made you laugh

a little like a hiccuping hyena

and he laughed too

the survivors

beneath the canopy of life

snorting like five-year olds

as skinny joggers with air-brush tans ran past

with sad empty looks

for what they did not

yet know

Your misuse

hijacked amygdala

They can tell you

Because you’re not going to back down

You won’t sell your sisters for a side ways glance

You won’t burn your bra, you may need it to strangle someone

You have the same look

All of you

The ones with green hair and multiple piercings who say fuck off before you smile

The ones who rule the world behind the scenes and nod as their husbands slip inside

The ones who are glory and begotten and forgotten and eclipsed and insist

They still live

You can tell

Even as they spell it out in myriad ways

I am not your slave

You do not own me

But once I was hurt very badly

By my father, mother, brother, sister, best friend, neighbor, uncle, stranger

And I carry the brand around my throat

Once in a while when I lean over

You can see it quickening

I…

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Family photo

Draw a line in sand

She’s the border of one side and the other

At times unteathered

Without prediction

There’s a mystique to change if it’s bidden

And if not …

Galloping down flights of stairs in Wellington boots

Doors unlatched, bodies surge toward the wild

Leaving behind tables of cups and saucers

A black current stain on her dress, she didn’t

Care what others thought

Letting little boys see her private parts, beneath the weeping willow

Hers was the reaction

A swinging, uncovered, naked lightbulb

Denied its right to be switched off, to sleep without searching hand

She learned, the way of obedience, had a sharp taste in her throat

Better climb out, scale the walls, tear your hands than

Be mounted with his collection on a pinkering wall

To dessicate and lose color, for each pulse of his filthy yen

A gamble necessary to quit and never look back

Running on bare feet with feathers in her mouth

If she left the earth would she sink or float?

Going over the edge, empty-handed and savage

Yet .. children survive

Incomplete and clean of doubt

Their enemy known, in the family photo

The road

At first the road seemed seemed impassable

Such a long distance with no sighted end

90 pounds was

A hollow eyed effigy, struggling not to drown

100 pounds was

A sickened mouth, forcing itself to swallow and chew

110 pounds was

A hunger to gain lost appetite, swill of food laying heavy with each urged step

120 pounds growing muscle

Punching the fuck out of weakness and despair

125 the goal, she fought, her joints bloody and plastered together

When she arrived, her body, her mind, her vibrating soul, she stood and cried

At the distance she’d travelled, cracked knuckles captured in dried clay

Stretching like bad memories, bleached by unrelenting sun

In spite of this, still, a flower is able to bloom

Random cruelty

Her mouth

Had a tremor

Just beneath the surface

It spoke

Of the repression of horror

If she let it out

That creature would

Climb to the highest point

And start screaming, needful not of words.

She wrapped her arms around her chest

Feeling the absence of one breast

Her mom used to say

You forgot to grow into a woman, flat chested sparrow chick

Her boyfriend liked her angularity

It’s not very Latino, her sister decried

Shaking her own ample swelling bossom

She favored simple necklines and no bra, catching soft balls with callused hand

Then why she wondered

Did my breast betray me?

I never demanded anything of her

My children did not

Tug with hungry mouths on her unduly

Nor a lover, bite unkindly deep

She felt the tight, smooth scar

Like a flat knife lain on her chest, like unwanted medal

It seemed to hotly whisper

The curling, metal irony of us all

Without sufficient power to stave

Fate’s random cruelty

(For all women)