New skin

I grew up knowing what cruelty was

it curled at the corners of day like

a well fed tiger.

Sometimes I did not think on it much

for I was preoccupied by my own

sense of emptiness and self pity or

just the song on the radio at that moment.

Years later I feel it

just beneath the surface like

new skin, flinty and unyielding, unfamiliar

and somehow horrifying

bleeding like a bruise

as yet unseen.

Maybe the brittle disappointment of

my ancestors, their sagas of

grief, shifting quiet loss, building

like ant hills awaiting flesh to

pierce with poison is my

only purpose.

There is shame in realizing

I am guilty of what I abhorred, this

softening violence, a compound fracture in

my psyche, alarming long held belief

I was kind

when there is no nice affability in

what I sometimes feel

only a wish to burn

deeply, leave charred and dead

those who would harm me or try

to fight, thinking me defenseless.

In that, I inherit the family tradition

of haters, long held like tarnished

shield, we have only endured by

cutting down those who would harm us

we are warriors without goodness

we fight sometimes because we like

the taste of spilt blood on our sorrowful lips

it is a necessary thing, I realize, that I am the last.

So when you tell me I am kind and good

do not use those platitudes so keenly

nor trust entirely, my motivation

I am every bit as wild as that feral

hungry, you bring in from the cold

who scratches you deeply, first

time you mistakenly take her purr

for pleasured trust

for I

know no such.

WHAT WE VALUE

Our society worships entirely the wrong animal, venerating them and reducing others to ash.

The news recently devoted a good portion of the sports coverage to how much money certain sports figures were going to be paid for kicking a ball across a field. And this in a time when our jobs are dissolving, our society is being wrecked, our economy may be irrecoverable and certain industries will cease to exist en mass. Put simply, there will not be jobs to come back to folks but apparently we still need to pay these guys billions for their service to humanity?

I cannot understand how ANY society and how any of us can tolerate/accept a sports figure being paid anywhere NEAR that sum for what they do when those who really do jobs worth paying, are dying in droves because they are not receiving enough personal protective gear to protect themselves.

When did we start paying someone to kick a ball millions and a nurse who saves our life, hundreds?

What’s wrong with us?

If I were an alien observing our planet, I would seriously wonder if we all were crazy in our assessment of VALUE. What we value. What we do not. If nothing else, Covid-19 has given us a chance to see this once and for all and try to do something about it.

We have marched for Black Lives Matter during this time because it was over-due and our raw emotions on the subject burst out of their polite shell and filled the streets with ire and a desire for equality but how many of us really want equality? Not all of us that is for sure, look around and you can see it in every facet of life, a desire to be above someone else somehow.

We still routinely under-react and permit by our inaction, serious hideous crimes like rape to go unpunished in this country and others.

It’s the year 2020 and we still think inequality for women is acceptable in some forms and fashion. Let us not forget what Maya Angelou said about wanting to vote for a white woman over a black man. She said – women were the original oppressed group, thus we should work backward until all oppressed parties are equal. I agree with her.

We still think hate crimes against Jews and telling Jews that Israel should not be their country is somehow acceptable, despite those Jews having descended from that country. Would we say the same to Black People about Africa. Of course not! So why do we say it to Israel? Because of the Palestine Question which Europe in particular has decided to side with, uncaring of the history of persecution toward Jews and their right to have some land of their own. Of course we shouldn’t persecute Palestinians either and of course, Israel has made mistakes but it’s now about what optics politicians choose and what side of the story is half-revealed via inaccurate news reporting. It’s essentially about which side looks right to support? Because Trump supports Israel, most left-wing supporters are against it. Yet it is not that simple and never should be. Lest we forget our history.

We still think homosexuality is unnatural and abhorant and that being queer isn’t natural. We don’t say it out loud because it’s not popular to say it, but we think it and we act it and gays know. They know.

We talk about slavery and how horrific it was, but half the time we just pay lip service to the deeper issues, because we don’t know our history so we don’t mention Native Americans and how they were exterminated en mass and continue to be disenfranchised. We’re so proud of ourselves for changing the Red Skins but we think that’s enough. Or how slavery has never really gone away, it’s just changed hands and outfits, but it’s still well and thriving in many forms.

So it’s never enough. Until everyone is equal and inequality and racism are a thing of the past. But will they ever be? With people who seem to thrive on discrimination and putting themselves ahead of others and putting others down? If people think wearing a mask is too much, is it any wonder they really don’t give a shit if you are sick or you are vulnerable? Don’t they just want you to die and bugger off?

Likewise with illness, with chronically sick people, it’s never enough to just have laws that allow them to not be discriminated against because discrimination comes in a myriad of differing forms. Subtle. Unreachable. Devastating. People of color have to put up with this EVERY SINGLE DAY as do women, as do gays, as do sick people. Just one roll of the eye says everything. Says; ‘we think you are pathetic‘ invalidates an entire moment.

Chronic illness is a little like amputation. Obviously anyone who has suffered an amputation will refute this and rightly so. But metaphorically it remains akin to the loss of a limb. You are left flailing, unsure of how to right yourself, and continue as once you were. A part of you is lost.

They talk of periods of adjustment. The stages of grieving: Anger for what you have lost. Shame imposed by a society who now judges you weak. Acceptance of a ‘new normal’ that includes intolerable things such as chronic pain etc. For many, those stages of grieving never really end, they cycle and you go through different dilutions depending upon how you progress.

But progress is perhaps not the right word. In our linear society where so much is expected. For someone to drop off and no longer thrive, in nature they would be left behind to perish. In our society they are carried along but reminded frequently, of their burden, of their ineptitude.

For many who suffer mental illness, physical illness, both, there is a lot of shame attached to their existing after this fact. Even as people do not come out and say it directly (and believe me, many do!) there is a thin veil that is easily penetrable. People know when they are treated differently, seen differently, worse, judged without jury.

Being ‘sick’ in any manifestation is seen as a ‘weakness’ by our society. This invariably goes back to the ‘dog-eat-dog’ notion of surviving. The weakest link perishes or is a burden to the whole. But these days, with our so-called faith and mercy in place, one might imagine a little more compassion? And if you did, you would be sorely disappointed.

Since getting sick in 2017 I have felt intermittently well enough to continue working and ‘accomplishing’. But as with any pendulum, when it swings deeply toward illness, I am right back at the horror point of when it all began, down on my knees, imploring the universe for healing. And for the most part I have done this alone, because as all those who have been sick for a time will attest, most people do not stay by your side. Even those you expect to.

You can’t plan any longer. A trip is a fear because what if you get sick? Then someone suggests; maybe it’s in your head, maybe you are making yourself sick? And no matter how many times you prove otherwise, they think maybe it’s a choice, just like being gay is a choice, right?

Wrong. You can’t rely upon yourself like you used to because you never know how it’s going to be, how you are going to be. And usually you could be relied upon 100 percent and now that’s gone and somehow you still have to plan a future, but how do you plan a future if you can’t rely upon yourself?

I try to take something from every experience I have, including negative ones. Without learning we don’t grow we just regurgitate and I would rather grow even if I’m throwing up and in pain as I do it. I have taken from this experience what is obvious, but I have also tried to take from others experiences, and have noticed disturbing patterns among those I know who have also been sick for a while or a very long while.

People leave.

People don’t care.

Poverty goes hand in hand with illness.

Anxiety and fear are natural outcomes for a plethora of reasons.

Loneliness can kill.

What I have come to see is this. Sick people are TRUE WARRIORS.

They fight the unimaginable that most of us never have to endure. They have to get pacemakers in their 40s, they have to struggle through taking 2 hours to get dressed and STILL MANAGE TO SHOW UP and this strength – this strength is what I have learned the most from my experiences and listening to others. Strength comes in many forms. We dismiss most of those forms but they are real.

I watch people who have seizures and brain tumors, fight and fight and fight and I realize, we’ve got it backwards. We should be applauding these people not marginalizing them. But we do everything backwards, because as a whole we are poisoned by false ideas of what is valuable and what is not. We toss aside those we deem un-valuable when they are perhaps some of the most valuable people in the world.

So if you are disabled in any way, be it in your head, or your body, remember that. You are some of the most valuable people in the world. Let nobody ever let you forget that. You are some of the most valuable people in the world.

This is written for my sister Angie. You inspire me every single day. You are that light in the dark that refuses to give up and because of you, I refuse to give up too.

Natural state of being

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They don’t want to hear about you

you’re not their kind

color, height, smell and gait

sets you apart, making you unpalatable

cast out from something you never belonged to

your back is curved before you hit the ground

sans parachute

cowing in utero to the inevitability of rejection

this is you, yellow girl, jaundiced before birth

you enter the world with a cigarette in one gnarled hand

the other high in protest

Gloria Steinem. could learn a thing or two about

your resolve

while she grew up in affluence and chose her metal

you were given nothing but inherited disease and

a penchant for purposing

all this in the time when women were

supposed to cross their legs in polite company

and open them for their husbands every whim

it disgusted you, the hypocrisy of hate

people at your Baptist church crowing gospel

calling you sinner when they caused more harm

than any so-called pervert

sent to camp to straighten out, you

fell for your coach and she for you

making out behind the outdoor toilets

confirmation of bias in the unhooking

of her clumsy sixties bra

feeling the first areola and you were lost

to any other kind of conversion

I wish I’d known you then, when eyes bright

despite the infernal din, you struck out against

the norm, trying daily not to let that

milk of magnesia asking that you straighten out

cause shame

it’s hard isn’t it? When even those pretending to

‘understand’ leave you out of invitations and the like

because you’re different, you’re not looking for a penis

not putting up posters of James Dean but Farrah Fawcett was okay, nor

waxing your legs for Friday nights

you didn’t like what every other girl in the changing rooms

coveted and so, they turned their tanned backs to you

and left you alone

to think of why you had more in common with

Billie Jean King and Radcliffe Hall

than cheerleaders with pom poms of scorn

and football players who would rape you to show

what you were missing

was it really such a sin to want to love

another woman? What was it about how you felt

scared them into loathing? And why when they knew

did it seem such a sport to exclude you?

Until you wrote pain on the insides of your wrists

a dowry of teenage repudiation

ending up in a mental hospital where the nurses

were all secret dykes and you fingered each other

at midnight, hiding your disappointment behind

seventies lino

this wasn’t love either, anymore than lying beneath

a grunting boy, at 14, hoping to fuck out the

feelings people said were evil, though

his use of you, seemed far more abhorrent

than the dreams you had of girls

not just any girl either, not just a writhing

creche of women parts, but one startling woman

you hoped to meet, among the girls who would be boys

and the girls who would be bi on dark and cheap drink weekends

gay bars were undoubtedly

some of the saddest places in the entire world

you neither excelled at pool or darts, you couldn’t

join in anymore there with cunnilingus against bathroom stalls

graffiti the tired penitent of fallen souls

with strangers who reminded you of boys in make up

you didn’t want to be with a girl who hated being a woman

dressing more like a man than your father

you wanted to love another woman with all

her madness and her fluxes, the rise of her lace covered breasts

how her thighs were not muscled but soft and her lips

pillows for your fevered whispers

no such woman seemed to exist back then

when gay venues were often raided by bored

knee-jerk religious police seeking to molest a girl in

baggy trousers and flattened chest on Friday night

shame after all, is a universal weapon and you

had tasted its liquored lash many times by then

watching your friends beaten with sticks by

heady boys in pick-ups waiting outside bars, high on local beer

and blood lust

you were too small to protect anyone, but witnessed

with grief so sharp it left marks in your eyes to think

of how the strongest girls rushed to defend the weakest

struck down by weapons wielded by the ‘righteous’ oh! Texas!

You were such a loathing state and things haven’t really

changed so very much

they still close their doors

they still tell their daughters

“don’t play with her, she’s queer that one”

and as grown up as you are, the pain is twice folded

for you wished by now things would be different

with laws and blood spilled surely paving a way forward

you forgot, for every step, there is one backwards

still just as you resolved to go without

you found me and still I found you

among the carnage, and our own wrecked self-destruction

still we laid in darkness sharing our stories

I tracing the scars on your arms and thighs

like Sanskrit of former muzzled lives

when I looked in your tired eyes I saw

how long you had been watching

this cruel world destroy her rainbow

heavy children

sometimes the greatest love comes

from broken people

too late in their August lives

to kick up chipped heals

they find solace in the depths

of their much labored, chambered heart

for as much as they punish us for existing

we keep returning, generation after generation

unbidden, unwanted, labeled abominations

or just silent dismay

carrying our quelled pain in beseechment

the whole world unsure of how to treat us

often resorting to ignoring

for who knows what to do

with something different? I still

don’t hold your ink stained hand in public very often

fearing I suppose our heads being bashed in

or someone cutting silence with ugly laughter

I think I could handle my own

abasing but never yours

you’ve worn the brand long enough my love

I now aim to remove it, defend you

as you saw the bloodshed longer than most

young men mowed down by AIDS sucking

their last breath through second-hand

straws, emaciated by the squander of

their worth, by a society intent on

blaming someone., anyone, in their aimless pointing

Reagan in the office doing nothing

beneath his hollow cross

even Obama had to ‘evolve’ his

opinion of gay-marriage like it was a

right that should be earned rather than

possessed naturally

but after all we are not

considered very natural

are we? Funny really …

as being with you

is the only natural

state of being I have ever

felt.

Lace

32392084_477659045996610_4905939940182851584_o

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