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

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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

It is in horror, we see truth

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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

 

 

Claim

Don’t open your chest up

let the butterflies out

burn the velvet gloves and seek to trust

hands held over hands in circles

dancing to the gravy of secure claim

Don’t risk dissolution

by the marble hands of your own family

it never gets easier

a little death upon a little death

pursed words kissing with violence

and just as you know all these things

you hang yourself by the neck

that’s the fool who is a child

keeps returning to empty chairs

all fall down

such is the rope burn

when love turns cruel

when love lets you down

family existing to crush the lotus

how then does the bloom float

something wide and spectacular

with waterlogged roots seeking ground

how then does the moon touch water?

reflecting shapes of wonder against glass

the hurt is

fierce and terrible

the tiger is

open mouthed

the knife digs

deep into sound

stars blitz like warm shower

lights echo in soft purr

you can cut me down with one word

you hold the key, you are my blood

and I love you when you hurt me

more than I should allow

how do we learn

to avoid exposure when

our wrists are bound

by family ties and emptiness

perhaps the pain is reminder

life is a knife, it can butter, it can cut

if we try we can surf

the upside more than down

like migrating streams releasing winter’s cold

 

 

Crescendo

Is it an astigmatism or

The blur of a questioning heart

When things are disordered, the very edge 

Clutching bitten sides as hollow city dwellers

Imagine faces looking downward into fast moving water, seeing drowned doves

A predilection for extremes

Where daughters cut their ropy hair

And open like heart chakras beneath festive lighting in department stores

Accents donating starry landscape above

Informing choices as snowbound relatives learning to talk over cold soup

Girls in A-line skirts, boys hiding erections behind glossy schoolbooks

And the heat of asfalt, curling like collars made of beaver

High gloves, no verbs, learning how to dye mouths like hair

Standing on unstable chairs, wobbling with frail grace

Where is moral nerve? Where negotiation? 

Responsibility for one’s life, defines self respect into a set of bronze rings hung from pinched hips

Whatsoever the plan, pinned to walls to hide the cracks

Tension strung like artificial silk, Protection sitting among lotus words

Flattering our need only leaves a sick emptiness

As when your mother left and the heavy latch 

Never fell back

Locking you in

Toys and books and closed looks

Guests who leave their fingers uncurled, will be claimed

As shadows whisk the corners of sobriety, in sating stain

When all is said and done, back to earth we come

Folding our weary necks against soft shove

If you take anything, take the memory of

That first summer before the shimmer rubbed off 

And everyone was golden beneath August, like hot dancers 

Turning their pliant necks to the orchestra’s

Swelling crescendo

Gilt


The icons

Their gilted, leafed, gold

Vibrant vermillion

Watch with watery eyes

Dried on stone

As old as memory

They shift

Imperceptably

Less than the fierce jackknifing

Of human need

As hot as birth

Waiting for rain

The saints

Painted with care

Remain vivid

As those who bleed

Live too fast and bruise

As dragonflies tussle

Enmeshed in each other’s flicker 

For a shortness that seems

Long