Third time lucky

006-alfred-eisenstaedt-theredlist

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

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Being twenty

15541394_10202354632784646_1452891421884110148_nThinking back

being twenty wasn’t as shiny

as bronze coin swallowed by carp

when

I went to eat Chinese and made a wish

to be young again

 

at twenty

I thought my breasts already hung forlorn

much like the oak grandfather clock

my father lifted from a former nunnery

when the nuns were gone and buried with the rhododendrons

the building disarticulated stood empty

beseeching intruders

awaiting renovation into flats for rich city dwellers

whose coins were gold

my father said

it seems a shame to let these apple and plum trees

be torn up and shredded they are mature and have

earned a right

so by night we dug up their rosewood roots

hefting in my grandfather’s wheel barrow down cobbled street

planted them in the little weedy garden out back

where they endured without their crowns

 

much as I endured being twenty

thinking myself imperfect

because of the pressure

burning like a hot wire in my

fizzing young head

like tight roller skates leave indents

my father said the trees never

bore fruit after moving

because once you’re planted

you grow roots only once

 

maybe that’s like being young

you are a tumbleweed and whilst some

take to being a spirit composed of air

there is something reassuring

like a warm fire or

a steaming bath

when you know it doesn’t really matter

all the fanciful dreams you had intended to wear

the way you sucked your stomach in

when he touched you underneath your dress

that tugged uncomfortably at tight seams

because you wanted to be

as gamine as

Audrey Hepburn

Recommendations for healing from a distance

3cc304c617aef064d101cf543e95361e

I told a compassionate jurist once, the recipe for understanding the anxious at heart:

the most disturbing clamor, is that of positivities drum

it beats loudly outside their chamber

be grateful for life it proclaims

illuminating sub-text running a ticker tape parade

if you are not grateful you are a bad person

 

for we know, the anxious will always examine

the inverse and underside

as they themselves are examined and categorized

if you say well at least be glad you are not dead

they will consider all those who seek life

so desperately and why they

who remain unsure at water’s edge

do not perish instead

(take my place! take my place!) (what crimes exist within our fates!)

if you say well, it could be much worse

they will consider all the terrible things that can occur

and condemn themselves for any pain

 

it is the nature of the anxious mind to examine

things in detail

so when they’re told to be happy

go to the gym every day and wash your hair

eat right, socialize even when you feel quiet

through positive action you can get a handle on what ails you

the inverse message reads

and if you still feel sad or anxious afterward you are to blame

it is that sub-text that haunts the most

cure is the curse is the cure is the curse

maybe if it were not seen as elective

subj-text: I choose to feel this way

torn into pieces flayed by wolves

a part of me wants to live like this

how absurd

would we say that of someone with cancer?

you know you want this disease! You brought it on yourself!

 

ironically depressed and anxious souls make

good bed fellows

when they say misery loves company it is a judgement

wedged between passive and aggressive

you choose to intensify your downfall is the implication

but in truth

those who will reach for you in the darkness and say

come take my hand I will walk with you and light the way

are many times those least equipped to do it

often it will not be those who think themselves compassionate

they will stand on the fringe and shout

recommendations for healing from a distance

as if the leper who cannot be touched

must stand apart and die in a new brand of isolation

 

the divisions of the haves and have-nots

contributions to misery

like tossing a penny in a well and making a wish

is not as good as causing that wish to come true

by actions

not scolds

not rebukes

Reflecting our make

6610155a671a863124b18faa259d9037Born inheriting jaundice

from an incubator world

nobody wanted to hold

the baby with malform

forehead elongated, she held on

wishing not to be born

till calipers force the point

leaving behind viking indent

brand scaring watery soul

who dreamed still of utero

without air banishment

moonshine, her first sup

on the mustard kick of luckless child

unwanted by chain-smoking teens

seeking succor in bricked up people

climbing invisible ladders to some faraway mount

not of tablet and command

more a belief if we earn enough

we can pay away our sin

she was a ward of one

listening to water rise in radiators, surge and grow cold

before her first birthday she learned

life is a scolding pecking bird

retreat inward like sleeping charm

wait out first 18 winters

till freed of snow you take flight

cutting yourself out of smite

the unwanted will inherit their cast

dyed in river beds to wash never indigo

the hue of their regret

O to be counted

surely one more drag, one more wrought night

lying back on pillows watching stars trip beyond

their pinpointed direction never clarified

do they seek their diminishment or

have they already died?

showing their skirt tails like faint ghosts

for weary-eyed consumer of bottled night

blinking as neon sign beneath liquor store

stays on throughout retching dark

luring empty hearts toward comforting glow

we drink because we need to feel full

starve ourselves to let bidden pain flow

cut out the parts that remind us how

we came in and left without touching earth

those children of no consequence

developing thick soles and empty shadows

no wonder then we stay fissure thin

in diminished light of birth

reflecting our make

as weary moon, closes her eyes

flits behind rolling cloud

blocking out acknowledgement

like a candle can be snuffed

between a pinch and rub

you are no more than you were

the crust of you, harder to break

underneath there is a word

waiting in turn to ask

why?

must we inherit for our legacy

indifferent design?

The bottle

the-birds-cage-avihai-cohenFar away

or near

a roar

is heard

and not

answered

for after a while

what can you say?

it is the way of pain

to rage in quiet ire

with tongue numb of speech

most do not hear

most walk on

thinking of themselves

and the roar

tries to find

the sea

within

the bottle

Zero

267e842992bef6fb109e19c3291fe496I held her fate in my hands

I had a chance to end her sting of me

I chose instead to help her live

it does not seem an easy thing

forgiving yourself for choices

time can never recover

people who take and leave you barren

they’re the ones who will never

know their true darkness

they’re the ones who will get up fast

as if nothing much occurred

it takes a lot to wound someone

who does not have a heart

Frozen music

16003205_1833113303616542_7912161581201337846_nThe ice storm

swallowed sound

as suddenly as calm was lost

trees became music

weighed with the tongue of cold

if there is one time I should think

letting go and lying down

to bathe in clarinet wonder

it would be after ice

has swept clear our pretense

that we are in control

that our little lives are not

at best

fragile

liable to

freeze and thaw

by the whim of storm