From the outside who would know?

Manon_1Born unhealthy

never bruised

from the outside who would know?

the script runs, ticker tape without parade

bleeds over page

paper makers who grind words flat

pinch their rabbinical noses and laugh

huffing ink turning to night’s best epitaph

words words words

what if no language were taught?

gesticulating without benefit of lamp

deaf to injury, blind to plight

what if I shut you in a box and told you

start over, be something else

when your cocoon matured and sticky with life you reemerged

what would you choose?

if not language then

how to describe the pounding of our skinned hearts

pummeled by trespassing probiscus

or fear or loss or something beyond vowel and verse

such as it is

greatest emotion has only, a mark within person

no color no lines no regular interpretation

I put your citrus fingers on my shoulder

stay the curve, feel the hurt and rhubarb joy

rising and falling collapsing bestowing

levitated notions buried and choking

no accent no ethnicity we come from no place

we are no one

in a world sucking through graceless cherry straw

the fervor of acquisition and absurdity

our stage unheated flat and spartan

we learn no lines no mantra, no soliloquy

the actor stands and reveals himself

without pretense, wig and powder

shining underneath a hot summer pulse

blue raven turns his glassy eye

in shuttered shift of crimson cloud

toward cloth moon and catches hare’s quiet

spring

into infinitum and beyond boundary

speak to me

speak to me

speak to me

use what you have within

 

 

Iris Chang (part of the #unsung heroes series)

Iris-Chang-264x400

Why must the insightful carry the greatest weight?

in their teeth like a bit crunching down until they break

teeth all over the place, white against the dark

enamel lasts long after we are gone

your words are never broken Iris

the love others held for you cannot be undone

by spectacle or ire, you are immune now

as beautiful as you were in life your memory not forgotten

eulogized in statues and prophecy, courage in bronze

such is the legacy of those who live to help others

you shone a light where no light had been shone

perhaps it invited unbidden demons and the silk worm

perhaps it made you mad and rageful in Louisville

who can say what fuse is lit, how long it burns or

whether others haunt us to our fatal choice?

but who would not feel horror when unveiled

the gruesome atrocity of what humans are capable

your Nanking chronicles, bravely revealed

blowing your silver whistle over lies

whether secret hands held you down

commanding, speak not, no more truth released

or you became absorbed in the tragedy you wrote

my hope is you gaze down, aware of the love held

your beautiful face gracing the cover of your mom’s book

a legacy unfurling, one step, two, ever more

you will always rise higher than you thought

such is the way of the guide

needing sometimes to turn from her gift back to the world

to see the beauty held in their own

reflection

 

“The woman who could not forget: Iris Chang before and beyond The Rape of Nanking by Ying-Ying Chang (mom) and The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang.”

part of the hash-tag #unsung (heroes) series.

Phantoms of the brain

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Diana

didn’t intend to develop schizophrenia

which masticated within her brain regardless

of her want

inking pathways and dissecting certainty

a railway of colors lost in submersion

until Capgras Delusion bloomed

the moth of dissociation a star

sewn grossly on her shoulder

branding in disorder

 

Diana

didn’t mean to

self mutilate

causing a bald spot on her scalp to form

like paper becoming chinese lotus

a whirl of follicles perfectly circular

she wholeheartedly believed men made exact copies of people

“screens” that mimicked reality but were not

there were two screens of herself

one evil, one good

 

the good Diana

presented her doctor with a plea for help

I don’t want to be consumed by the whirl she said

biting her nails with reddened lips

the evil Diana considered if

she could reach the pencil and sink it in

to his rotten false arm

you’re obviously a fake she wanted to scream

I can see you! I can see your falseness!

like tar on the beach you wash up dead and stinking!

 

the good Diana kept quiet

this takes time to prove, she thought

sheltered behind her bamboo mask

tight and affixed with unknown glue

where once in a while she’d peer out

tongue lolling against wood

limbic system walking with disabled emotion

feeling like she was looking out of someone else

phosphorous haunting versions or a lighthouse

void of lamp

never finding her way back from cliffs edge

into phantom self

 

(Thank you to Vilayanur S. Ramachandran for his inspiring paper of the same name)

No iron

If you said

I am cold

stitch me something to wear

out of moments

choose the pieces with inside pockets

we can lean closest to

before we let go

bidding adieu

those memories

treasured pieces

lain flat and held

by tremulous hand

one swathe for our life

cut down like barley lying golden

he made his absolution

arching windows cast the tiles mirage of eastern colors against stucco

fabric whispers a song

furnishing breath

as two red throttled birds

will roost

their ease

filling silence

with comfort

everyone sees him through your eyes now

astonishing

a kind of mosaic peace

two minutes

stretching like feeble light

can reach further than possibility

they say you marry your father

my father thinks of himself and fits what he can next to him

in a boat for one purpose

alone

and I see

how many times that was echoed

where I wondered at the empty feeling in my hands

after you made no effect

and expectation became a sore word

lost in tumble-dryer

set to spin on

no iron

Ash

I have always been ash

ash was in my mouth when I first cleared my lungs

coming from the inside out

unwrinkling doubt

I have always been ash

ash was in my hair tinging it with streaks of despair

shouting from roof tops

some of us are better off unborn

I have always been ash

ash was my bed fellow when light was dimmed

we lay side by side, reluctant sardines

licking the brine from our dessication

I have always been ash

ash was my first lover who turned the oiled key 

a world of hurt in carnival ride

the painted horses, so noble, so fine

I have always been ash

ash is my name, fingerprint, DNA

ash is my best friend, last sex, the one who will

nail Beachwood coffin shut, throw the earth

on top, along with ash it mixes and turns

white like skeletons

dance

between

the

plots

Third time lucky

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The proverb

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Was in my mind when

I chose to forgive a third time

it was easy to say “if you hurt me again”

fill in the blank

but promises only matter if the person intends

to keep them

with your borderline posed to strike

it was impossible to calculate

if I would be cast again into fire

the only chance

how I chose to see the play

sacrifice the Pawn

save the Queen

it’s not that I’m especially important

but cruelty

cruelty is perhaps the last sin

unforgiving as karma

shows you the way out

you didn’t know it was only you I forgave

the other one who scratched I cast

far into the ocean

didn’t need their infernal clamor

they, just wreckage from a bad storm

I unfortunate to pass by at the wrong time

you were different

there was always something in the depth

of your eyes and quiet strength

yes I confess

I wanted not to lose you

but I could have said the same

when my mom closed the door quietly

packed her bags and went

see, you think you have me figured

maybe you do

aside one element I keep pretty tight

I’m stronger than even I know

it’s what happens when you get used to

let-downs

when you came and went third time and said

I don’t believe in you anymore

I don’t trust you

I think you’re shit basically

in the clear light of day I could see

this wasn’t about me

this wasn’t factual

sometimes others will believe

oh you must have something to do with it

just as the shallow person who told me

you’ve got a track record of being left

tried to leave her barb

what did she with her haikus know

of patterns? she needed rules to write

I had fucking wings

now she’s just

a taste in my throat I want to spit out

I grew up then when I learned

accusations may sting

but they’re not truth and those

who are weak enough to seize upon them

are just fools

with hypocrisy in their veins instead of blood

but you were different

you were my sister of the plains

we shared French blood

I admired you

it wasn’t enough

you cannot force someone to feel

or undo the damage wrought

in their mind before you met

it’s only necessary that you know

when it’s not because of you

which can be hard if you’re prone to guilt

that’s how we grow and develop armor

perhaps we won’t even trust

the next person who comes up

palms flat

asking for succor

or perhaps we will

because to shut the door

hurts only

the one who is left standing

when you tried to blow her down

erase her

when you hated yourself so much

you had to try to destroy

the mirror image

who refused

to shatter

stubbornly she still reflects

what you hate

about yourself and

what she loves

about you

Three prongs

pluto_and_persephoneSHE

hasn’t shared a bed with a man

two decades

nor smelt the tenor of his hands weighing

on her sleep

place telescope by the moon

stare at what you do not find familiar

all those girls who wake

next to, wrapped in, rubbed up against

the arms of another species it seems

no reflection of themselves

she has only seen

her own reflection

in the curl of her neck to her shoulder

honeyed wisp of them as they cover

rounded buttocks on the way to dimpled shower

girls instinctively know

what to hide and what to reveal

as cats will roll on their belly in trust

giving just enough

holding a claw in the air just incase

she unclenched herself to the water spirit

when the river found its surge she fell

tumbling below surface

where hands that are both small and strong

loins of silver, mouths of tangerine

kiss her delirious

do you think as you draw your pastiche

of a woman with a phallus mounting a girl wearing cherries on her cheeks

do you contemplate wife-beaters and bound breasts

considering the ugliness of plastic stand-ins

and Kerry who came from Nova Scotia said

I’d be gay if I didn’t have to perform oral sex

that disgusts me

but imagine, I could have some rest

my boyfriend he is hard as driftwood

every morning at six

her legs closed to dynamite

squeezing residue of clichés between her thighs

they who are not us, live in an underwater world

you only know when you hold your breath and let go

At ten it was not apparent

though if you consider how much you enjoyed

lying on ladies fur coats and

smelling their perfume

what isn’t known glitters in the gloom

they said poor child, poor motherless urchin

and in their arms you felt

that longing to place a moonstone in a set of gold

translated later the shape and curve

men were all angles and hard

softness is the drift of sand

lapsing back into water

you tried being like everyone else

nobody really wants to wear a red mark

telling them apart

but the hot skin of men as they lay

clumsy and ill-fitting in your hollows

always reminded you of a plug

with two prongs when

three were needed