Lace

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On the outside

I button up well

zip my mouth in pink

comb my hair with calico

hold my faux ostrich skin purse close to chest

the powdered lady at the department store said;

yes, you will need to throw out your old bras and buy new ones

plumping her glossy lips as she showed me

a larger cup size and I

drank from my own, the last dregs of eleven am coffee

I couldn’t tell her

each one has a story, especially those broken

they smell of you still

their color is that of emotions I felt

when you unhooked them and took into your mouth

my wandering need

instead then, I nod acquiescent and purchase

three new bras for a stranger who is not me

black for night

white for day

violet for the hour

you again

lay your claim in my dreams

as I walk out, she waves and says;

you’ll be much more comfortable now

happy she’s done her job

dressing women with empty eyes in fine lace

she doesn’t know

for me, comfort is an emotion I have no need of

I like to feel your sharp ivory teeth

run across my skin and break

me open

spilling my seeds, red and glittering on the wet cotton

of our writhing impression

it’s more than bra size that cuts deep

leaving lines and circles of indigo and purple

colors for the bruises blooming inside

a field of damsons fallen from tree unpicked

for who now knows, how to make such wine?

I think of the times you tore

and rent and split

that wire artifice from my trembling frame

I remember the taste of blood on my lips

as I bit down in want and fire

for your fingers to beckon and curl

within the flexing circle of me

and that girl was smaller and opaque

like japanese lily she grew swollen with water

shedding her kimono stain beneath surface

swimming without need of air

to bend and contort like alabaster crane

between you and within you

her tongue no longer using words

to sate her impulse and your

hungering claim.

As I wait for the elevator

my head ever bowed in recollection

holding desultory purchase like fly swatter

I cross my neat legs and watch my shiny high heels

click together in tight voiceless longing

I am seen by all, as a demure, well-dressed woman

shopping without thought, her lips slightly open in musing

the mine of my mind is burning

for your take of me

and the memories

contained in

a crushed piece

of lace

December

The bells of the church rung

He said it’s why he didn’t turn back

That and blossom in the thimbling trees so early

He believed in signs and symbols, so did I

Before I was grown and knew the torn things inside

He was the boy who learned on me

I gave what I could, but kept two things to myself

My secret was, I wanted a child

My sin was, letting him take you back

Standing fighting at the top of his marble stairwell

Smelling of his mother’s perfume and congealed cough sweets

I saw myself falling, pinwheel, before he cast me down

The imprint of his reedy hands, a daisy chain around pale throat

His child in my swelling belly, with eyes the color of regret

He said it was an accident, I felt his hate as I lost my balance

Jabbing me in the back with whisper and sharp intention

Get it out, get it out, get it out

He didn’t know the truth of us, my child and I

She wore silver bells around her neck

And in his mother’s sea blue bathroom of mirrors

I stood watching the rapture of your being, take me over

And in the night, your father tried to tear you gone

With his thrusts into me like a spear and a blunt knife

Still my child you held on

Staring through my eyes at me when we were alone

I could hear everyone’s comments before they spoke

If you have that man’s baby, you’ll be shunned

And alone was really alone. Still I thought

I am not a warrior, but I would fight for you, daughter

Quickening in me like a secret slipstream of language

I felt our connection, you were more than blood and sinew

I watched my burgeoning figure, as I removed my clothes

Thin and narrow, except where you were taking form

Stepping into the bathwater, I felt something cry and give way

And the bath became blood

Hot water on, with the door closed and locked

Your father saw water running on the tiles in the hall

All pink and gorgeous

He broke the door down and saw me sleeping in gore

All pink and gorgeous

In the hospital they whispered words of relief

She’s so young, so petite, it was a mercy and a blessing

Any more blood and she wouldn’t have made it

They didn’t see your father’s fingerprints or where

He cut you out with the slow deliberation of an absent butcher

The whoosh and hiss of hospital machinery

The soft whisper of pretty nurses shoes sliding on lino

Your father watching over me, the violence still marked on his face

When we got home, the taxi driver said; take care you goofy kids

Your father dosed me with pain killers and turned his raging back

I saw the emploring milk leaching from my breasts for you to drink

And it was red

I felt the sting of your vanishing scraped dead from myself

My stomach still swelled with your ghostly outline

Your father moved in his wrath lain sleep and mounted me

I said; I’m hurt, it’s too soon, oh God!
But God refuses sinners and pearls

You were gone so you could not speak too

And your father dove into places raw, stitched and mourning

With his eyes closed he imagined nothing and saw nothing

With his fists closed he rose above me in darkness like a wraith

Not touching the spilt evidence of you

Not realizing he was slick with blood and tears bound in a girl

Till morning when he washed you off and with it, me

As I lay in the stained bed with my nightdress hitched around my wrung neck

Feeling the milk in my breasts, the wetness of your ever spending

Feeling the tether from you to me and back again neverending

Your father went on to conquer worlds with a rod

A rich man with the same long fingernails and sharp soul

He calls me once in a while

Tells me I’m still beautiful

And if I saw him, he would bring harm

So I keep us safe and I see no one

As we sit on the balcony and I imagine

You’d be tall and you’d be beautiful like climbing honeysuckle

Because you are my daughter

We raise our glasses to your December birthday and 27 years

And your father he cannot attend our moments together

He may hurt us again, he may seek to take you away

He stays in his apartment in the city and grows richer

On weekends he chooses whores that look like I did

When I was just a young girl

With hair down to my bottom and no breasts to speak of

He had me before I ever menstrated so we thought

You could not exist

It was true, you did not

Home from the hospital with a pad of loss between my legs

But that was a fall I can still feel in my displaced bones

Seeing the future with each tumble, seeing his fists open and close

Alone now and you have been dead 28 years almost

And I light a candle

For what I was not meant to have

Though I would have loved you so

And I do

You speak to me when I sit by myself and the night is quiet

You tell me not to be lonely though it is impossible

I smile at you because that’s what mothers do

Spare their children

Any pain

Lingua

If you saw everything in retrospect

What language would you hear?

Climbing through cumulus clouds

The color of death valley

Sand strewn prayers

Over scraped knees and heavy cello bow

You slapped me backhanded

I watched myself

Fall like water

Wet against the sound

It excited you to see

Blood on my lips

The outline of violence

Lacing time and roses with secrets

You look out at a stark dull day

Feel glad you have the assurance of what stands rigid behind closed doors

We wear bright smiles at parties

The golden couple, they admire our rehearsal

Like pedigree animals who mask their bad nature

I’d bite your hand

And he’d fill your throat with glass

The lowered sun casting a haze over

Our magnification

Teaching darkness to obscure the simmering

Hand pinching my thighs open, striking

Quiet match of fire beneath

I hold onto your dismissal

Like butterflies

Slipping and fleeting

Driftwood

Skipped stones as smooth as

Your tongue in my mouth

What language do you speak?

As you lean in to remove all hope

And pinching between wet fingers

Extinguish light til only the circumference

Of stars

Lend their distant

Glow

With life

She is nude

Dearticulate

Her nipples graze the passage of her downfall

Blood is dry and hennaed between her thighs

Who stand witness

To aborted possibility cut short

Held glistening above her in crucifixed parody

She will never bear life

It is not her weft and the thick choker around her neck

Tightens as reminder

If she grows swollen it will be from loss not gain

No feeling of a child pushing its way out

Only the deadening cold taste of metal on her skin

A doctor’s “tut, tut” and rough handling, his voice a graze

Staining her inevitable socially affixed shame

She stares out of a small window

Paint pealing like tears on the empty sill

Where a bird sits sheltering from rain

She thinks of him cutting his way into her with flint eyes

Hands around her throat, pulling her apart

A flashlight douses darkness, shining on blood and her hand

Reaching out

She is empty now

Passion snuffed, an ember no longer close to surface

She is an arroyo dried and crusted over

She is a gourd grown without seed

Disappointment is her meal, she is a featherless bird on wire

Dried empty by sun and rinsed of music

Before this, her watermelon body swayed in water-sprinklers

Feasting on her abundance and possibility

All that would be, all that would be

Is laid waste

Tumbleweed and Joshua tree

Punishment and consequence

The rapist will return at night to his wife and

Three blonde children

She will recover from her tears and cuts

Even the shame of feeling his soil enveloping her

But she will never

Never

Forget what he took in miscarried act

What would happen if we swapped vision?

The fridgidity of growth or a certain constraint

Because if you split my casing I would possess less chance

My surround would envelop your shadows and night cross twice

For women have a shorter life and a longer one

Small boned with narrow shoulders and deep set eyes

Stretching barren like a long road through desert

If she could turn the knife around

Press it gently against his steady pulse

Cut out the evil as he removed her chance

To fill her arms

With life

Telephonic

tim-burton-bakerRing, Ring, Ring,

Except it’s 2017 your phone is set on silent you do not own an answering machine

from the nineties, accidentally recording overheard conversations

little tape cassettes, the mechanics listening, catch you shouting

the message goes ‘don’t leave a message’ followed by alliteration

doe ray me fa la tee

people dial-in, listen, to cacophony

whose house is this? what party line? her voice can you hear

it’s someone singing in the background

taping over

you quote the silence with your abstract

lying like a fallen star on the kilim rug

the cat nudges your head he knows you are not dead

would that you could warm yourself up like leftovers

swallow whole emptiness, banish that gut of bile

back then I recorded myself, how stupid it seems now, a voice in the comforter

what did I impart? love makes us opaque, lust even more so

you used to play my voice backward and say

that sounds like Bob in Twin Peaks

Fire walk with me would look good in ink

before tattoos were mainstream, we had no money for luxury

our pockets calcified and taut turned inside out like jagged tongues

of want and want not

in the smothering green light of your bedroom

I hid the places I didn’t want you to go

pre-wax, pre-tan, prematurely ejaculate

don’t call me I won’t answer my phone

Ring, Ring, Ring,

what chime, what sound, what soundtrack

do you carry?

mine is set on mute

if you asked to speak to me I could not

form sound

would you really want to hear my truth?

every step forward chalk on my shoes

hop skip jump throw the stone

leave a message after the bleep

after the fall

I’m leaving myself a message

get up now

get out of this house

climb from the windows if you must

do it fast before you grow into a place

you cannot claw your way through

nobody knows that neighbor, the mother of four

lies prone from 9am to 3pm whilst her kids

drink milk out of small glass bottles

in her bare feet and unwashed hair

garish scarlet lipstick sliced on limp wrists

how deftly you can cover your crimes with dry shampoo and

a dusting of perfume

wiping your mouth on the back of your horror

nobody knows how long you lived

not breathing

counting pills on the convex of your emptiness

and if they came

hauled you away, locked you in a padded room

filled your arm with urinal liquid, your mouth stuffed with ‘medicine’

you’d soon find an open door, fling yourself

glorious from fifth floor like a Rorschach crow

not all are made for asylum-life

feral animals cannot endure cages

the fax machine of the past, showed us our shadow

interpreting our malady as Jung

prophesied in his hunting vest

Ring, Ring, Ring,

Schroeder and Skinner take bets

packing tape wound round their vivisection

no-one is home please leave a brief message and we’ll

lose your distinctiveness in the rollerdex

you gave me yours in a wet crumpled ball

call ME! Blondie sung

in a snug t-shirt with her head larger than her body

this year I noticed my finger tips desiccating

despite warm temperature and heirloom seeds

the doctor said

this is the first sign of albinism

drink the days to your unnatural end

of your shrinking bones witherment

breasts diminishing like deflated ardor

bellies sag,  lost balloons caught in oaks

and what stood proud wilts

like tulips left too long in burned afternoon sun

Ring, Ring, Ring,

I am not a girl in ballet shoes

my feet are wrinkled and cracked like a beggar

who has walked too long for his supper

I do not want to eat the fat of the land

or the dish served cold

warmed with your insincere scold

for my weakness is abundant and I

lose moisture like a white fish licking brail

dries on Greek dock where you can if you squint

almost make out the shoreline of Italy

watching boats take others far and yonder

leaving crusts of their sandwiches for birds

the fish only seeks to return

to the deep still of ocean

(what would I say if)

my doppelgänger pushed me aside and ran to answer your insistence

hello it’s awfully good to hear from you, how am I? well …

I’m fair to middling for someone with a dagger in her back

depends on your definition of

walking underwater with undertow heavy beneath feet

cue the camera, take a shot, bang, bang!

the roaming dogs pee against your leg

on the shallow side of consciousness drift in and out

my pipe is smoky and hot with chastised resin

fingers dirty, the refuge of digging for my soul

you don’t want to hear that though … do you?

no question mark intended

I know your breed your pedigree your label

just as I gnawed mine apart

wove the strands into a length of yarn

tied it around my neck and vaulted

because I am the black dog we all avoid

who shakes her wet coat over dry make-believe

the echo behind the broken cup

one piece beneath furniture, the other

still containing a leached circumstance of water

we do not sup, you and I who have sober fists

I tried, I really tried, then the day went on without me

clocks winding themselves

girls pulling up their underwear in some basement flat

overlooking a river

men taking a piss in bushes, usually reserved for perverts

watching women jog in tight shorts, bounce, bounce, bounce

Ring, Ring, Ring,

is anybody there? What do you say?

are you home? Are you sleeping?

no and no

anything but the shape of arms

making circles against bare wall

here is my crucifixion

behold

words we never tell

are pigment

and egg yolk

and torn hose

 

We believe

Use your long words

describe the smell of memory

antiseptic

there in your transparent igloo

born to incubate

smoke before it’s legal on your mother’s habit

bequeath me the tendency

to live without need

from pockets we pull

the nurture the seed

sprouting in defiance

when everything else died of frost bite

against the ire of a late Winter storm

gusting itself into white rage

through the glass you see

yourself being re-made

in the eyes of old women whose wrinkles

make a universal puzzle

and the swell of hills

cast over with violet

a heaven of sorts in setting light

glazing countertops

for foot prints of unseen beast

leading off into nearby copse

could we will ourselves

another go around?

stepping backward into

infancy, chewing the umbilical

surrounded by potential like

a wet firework strains to explode

would it be any different?

your hands, molding my shape

DNA

the type of pasta eaten

over Lake Como the day

of conception

holy was the love that bore the wish

lost in steepled weather vein

glistening against straining light

a mockery of control

just out of reach

there she is

eighty years from now and

just re-born

in unfurled leaves and first sprouting

green a forbidden thing

among the white ushers and

dark flitting ponderable

marveling we can be conscious

of ourselves and of nothing more

than a stream aching to unfreeze

creep closer to living

inch by inch

two warm bodies without a thing between them

aside the shame of knowing

we live both futile and richly

worming our way into the meat

and tender bruise of absolving

those things we believe we need

Command

9edcc63634776b74ee5539c5d4f18ce7She sat

the leather of the chair

damp beneath her

no underwear

revealed in candle light

a straight spine

a crouching mind

she obeyed

not for fear or need to ruin

but the sheer freedom of feeling

her knees rub against carpet

her mouth close upon bit

her eyes lost beneath satin

she knew

when it came

the lash would last

as long as forever

the welt may diminish

the pain may recede

still she could feel

the weight of regard

afixed to her as light of fire place

illuminated what she could not

her darkness exposed

take what you will

take what she cannot give

willingly

and in setting her free

she is within and without cage

able at last

to feel the breadth of herself

by your regard she finds reflection

not the echo she reinterprets

there in the scour of past

but the lover

piece by piece she learns

to offer her secrets

for trust is earned

in every move toward

the command