The refugee heart

gratitude
Todd Davidson/Illustration Works/Corbis

Before hard faced words and tightened bouquets of spite,

came silence

The child swirled in embryo, unscathed by adult cast of hate

Yet unknowing we inhabit cruelty, like a brand in darkness will

light no way but vengeance, reflecting shadows of lost conscience

against petroglyph walls

stories dissipated in forgetting what is true.

This child who once had temerity and self-worth clad about her, the vestige

of some right to exist, perhaps.

An instinct, as weeds will thrive in exhaust and skinny cats climb insurmountable

to glut on that thrashing impulse, called survival

words now scarred, like badly bandaged souls do not forget the echo

of a tender heart turned wicked, nor that merciless piercing

through skin thought impenetrable, to embrace hot metal

as if it did not catch our very soul on fire.

Once, we all wished for, love, pure and unfettered, blooming as night rose

carrying her scent against warm air, inhaling vetiver magic, aware then, of all things

our cache of hope, restless in the waves, we yield, undulate and count

moon peal across black water, spinning youth into gossamer

too fine to hold us securely.

Those burnt coals raked certain, beneath the old impulse to run

mindful of how we grow, the thirst for something real remains

tantalizingly distant

against the roar of white waves, crashing tirelessly to shore

reducing our ankles frigid with the climb, a vaunted capture

of sea — receding against open hands to places beyond

our feeble reach.

As it grows light, the footsteps of those who walked ahead

finding debris of promises washed to shore, frozen by their spent fuse

and silvery starlight echoing her distant mockery of possessing any

certainty

those, who for some reason remain here, despite themselves

hollow in the want for familiar arms to gather them up whole

pressed to a beating heart, the murmur of security bound in

crescent sky.

A reddening brings the dream, she swoops low and achingly,

casting silvered birds from their reverie

that we not succumb to our collective despair

finding the drawers and cupboards of truth ransacked and emptied

by unseen robber

and instead, wait by the edge, long in the rising sear of sun

blackening our backs with shadow

for the sound of her footfall, across the dunes, sunk in splendor.

Her journey long, she made it anyway, even in the worst heat

of midday, when insects burrow against the burn and her mouth

opened in an O for the drink of your love

a beacon on a jutting rock, watching seagulls mock the air

with white foamy lift

wanting only for you to need

in equaled measure.

This dance is for the dead

NatalieWood-731wWould that you would stay

would that you were ever mine

would that you knew how

you strip and stir those tender passions

sterile of any other life

I am blackened with desire for you

I am white with inordinate stifle

see the end of the bottle how it glistens?

With promise and her velvet touch she

summons,

turn to me, burn with me, set me alight

leave me wrecked on your shore, blistering

this is why I breathe, to end in your gaze

this is why I ache, to imagine just a glance

this is why I die, to lose you without ever

having

there’s the rest and there’s one girl

she’s a woman, she’s rage, she’s not gentle

she can’t be caged or capitulated

the stroke of her fingers on metal

she’s tearing you up with her untouchable ways

ruining others, for they seem tame

comparison is the enemy of the weak

she laughs at your charade, your belief

she’ll ever want a thing from you, nothing

further could be true, she’s so far removed

reach for her, she’ll bite you in half

try to be tender, she’ll laugh in your face

howling another’s name just for sport

indifference is her game, she’ll toss you

aside before she’s arrived with your petty

longings and your wounded heart

she’s little and she’s huge, she’s magnification

and cruelty and searing everlasting beauty

I imagine lying next to her and it’s a joke

the nearest I could get would be a parallel universe

made of pins and needles, volcanoes and tsunami

your beauty is a storm of urges unspent

my secrets just flowers of passion unsung

feeling your way in the dark is your favorite dance

you’re roaring in your sleep and breaking the sound barrier

you compete for breakfast and throw the weak over

for the sharks

there’s nothing between us except everything

even if I were not myself, I could not be close to you

you abhor connection, you loathe obsession

fearless you parody their love of you

with mocking abandon like a ballerina

needing no shoes

you write songs with the pen of a bloody mad woman

you tattoo desire into my chest with sharp knives

thrown from a mountain

all the while not knowing what you do

for I do not exist and neither does time

it can harp and beat for a hundred years and I wouldn’t run out

of want, just the means, just the methods

just one time, just in a dream, just fantasize

shut your eyes, turn off the light, stand still, run

your voice over broken connection

nimble fingers strumming a line

from another time, one where you give me

one moment, I stand behind you, watching

the shape of your conquer

chaos in the surge of everything

anger, rage, beauty, madness

you can move someone without touching

you can devastate someone without speaking

no injury and it hurts worse than breaking

egotism in a glass vase to be shattered

where we go, nobody will know

children of night, children of satiation

I heard you sing in the past when I didn’t know

names and places, people and feelings

I was a dead thing dancing to numb haunt

you stepped toward me and I saw you

a dervish in halo, a god within a devil

nothing else, the crowd cleared, it was only you

so sure, so dark eyed, with your torture

curling me around your laugh like a rocket

I burned and drank it down and the flames

made me golden

plug me in, I spin on electric want without power

you stop and start, you shout, you demand

you scream at the complacency and kick the rulers

I am a dead star above your night, I am

the person you were before you were born

I inhabit your meaning like a false note

there is only nothing and nothing comes with

a voice until you speak

into my freeway, driving at 100 mph on

drowning streets, they cry for your attention, you

giggle in irreverence

no fault of yours the whole world adores

someone who cannot be won, or succumb

to usual rules, to anyone’s need, it’s always been

about you, about you, about you

i’m happy here, stretched on your rack

beginning to enjoy poison and its benefits

for we make aches out of wants and wants

never cut too deep, they die as they are

absorbed into daylight, scars making scars

you are the eternal night you pull me in

I struggle against your tide, you want to drown me

with your sharp loveliness

it’s your control, it’s what you know

you have the bravado of a broken angel

words leave me struck through with arrows

secrets are best left buried

dig me up, let me whisper, I would say

it’s always ever been you

say it once and I drop to my knees

I was told it was wrong to worship

I was told it was wrong to believe in

perfection or need

you open your red mouth

i’m watching, I’m writhing

how are you still moving? Didn’t you

die? Didn’t you stop breathing?

Turning in betrayal, you can

only betray when it matters

nothing matters to girls made of stone

they sing to the siren and the siren

blesses them

this dance is for the dead

desire so long it’s bent double

it hurts to enter the temple

you burn me every time you don’t notice

but that’s your way

that’s who you have always been

untouchable

untouchable

untouchable

 

For you are

the-guest-bedroom-art-of-sappho-canvas-print

In simmering evening glow

beheld in jewel

moon, its pearlescent oval

hushes barking day

quiet.

For you are

held in my long hand

a heart engraved

rapture slavishly wound

about my making

as roses grow

thick in fragrance

nearer their petals

touch.

For you are

a sound etched in dark

slung over time, carried far

played years later

still we hear

the raw crocus

of your emergence

from stillness.

In unfolded stymen

this pollen we bequeath

each other

wordlessly with

oiled grace

are songs

unsung by

felted lovers.

For you are

my undoing

this life rented out

if you, indigo bird

solace in sweet brine

did not exist

nothing bearable

should survive.

In the marbled cave of our

entreaty, we

pour together till

stiff with purpose

a stalagmite to

behold the

ambering of

our union.

For you are

without comparison

touching that center

blazing and forgotten

sweeping landscape where

birds fill low trees with

their heavy cries

I catch my own voice

beneath your

urging form, we

merge together

softness a dream

to float upon.

In all the days spent

making sense of emptiness

the curve of your jaw

meeting high cheeks

eyes darker than ink

nothing replaced this

urgency to never

leave your side.

For you are

tasted between

consuming sweetness

against

the mellow fruiting

of

my

only

love.

Radiance

Sun filigreed through high tree lines

Touching our chosen space with bright finger tips

We swing, irregular rhythm, sometimes your momentum, sometimes mine

I watch you point your toes and know

It is hard to remain calm, not to act upon

Desires bound by respect and difference

You are a forest nymph, a hummingbird

You are a nayad of the lake, your honey my want

I imagine holding your bottom lip lightly with my teeth

Graze your unapproachable grace with whispering touch

Green water is still and birds sound from high

I hear it all

And only the gentle deep of your voice

How you move your mouth

The tilt of your long elegant neck

Sunlight turning your skin into caramel

Picks out the rushing river of your eyes

Glances off the high wistfulness of your cheeks

Your thin tshirt a wrapper, I long to pull toward me

Your fingers, nimble, I would take in my own

In my mind, I preserve each motion

How you tilt your small chin

The sway of your bones moving beneath skin

If I could I would cup your little face in my hands

Tilt you toward sunlight until all we could feel

Was radiance

Reach for the taste of your tongue

Bury myself in your laundered smell

The brush of forest and leaves, wild and breathing

Stay in that singular and plural second

Retracing the shapes you make, rising and falling

I know there are things pulling us back into the world

I know we cannot stay in this dappled moment forever

That life goes on demanding our turn of attention

But I will keep coming back to your eyes

Capturing light, water, air, me

I think I see

I think I see

More within your secret self

Than our words have yet said

All I can do is hope, I’m not imagining

Or the burning in my chest does not long alone

It would be inexplicable to feel so much

Without return

But as I drive away

The sun dipping slow behind clouds

I have a confidence I’ve never possessed

Certain it is not just me, who speaks silently beneath surfaces

If you can hold on to the courage of now, how we are

To let yourself feel it too

It doesn’t matter how long it will flame

It matters that we do not give up before we create that light

Before the resolve of desire and emotion

Sets untouched and life grows dark again

I do not want to give up on hoping

You’ll look at the same sky

Share my wish

You have planted a longing in me I cannot ignore

Unspoken and afraid to be real

Until you say

From your beautiful mouth

With your lovely faraway voice

Yes I want

I want you too

She is beauty

If her heart were a drum

it would be outlawed for beating too loud

for the insistent and unwary pound

keeping wakeful when those who rest

wish for silence

beneath her is a lake of feeling

if a mime enacted, his black cloth fingers

would grow numb with gesticulation

his elbows fatigued from the shapes

her wordless passion smacked into

taut skin

trembling at the imagining of her

proximity

she breaks a sweat on the fine hair of her neck

a necklace of pearl and moonstone

for each sway of her fruiting body

she is the picker of her sanity

a welcome devil in empty playground

she blinks into darkness, seeing futures

in one, she is swimming in dark water

the stars illuminating only her want

reaching shore, she searches for her among shadows

trying to imagine the way she feels

naked and shaking off

the spill of her longing

in another they are talking

far into time and beyond, where

landscapes break open pink and ochre

like food consumed by gods

she cannot yet tear herself away

from the smoothness of her skin

or how her cheeks slope like arching

cats, pulling beauty from places

she didn’t know existed

she cannot yet reach out

run her tremulous and urgent hunger

along the narrow slope of her shoulders

and dipping into honey, find a

succulence beyond anything yet tasted

she is a terrifying girl who

knows her power and still

is lost at times to its art

the wince and crimp of her slimness

like a willow tree, capturing storms

she holds her head like a wave

cresting against soft shoreline

proud and a little self-assured

the quivering arrow of her curves

tie like a bow around desire

burns in its simplicity

her skin is mango and sunlight

of all her lives spent

before she was found

still like a water fountain

just before it bursts, released from clay

there is harmony and music

in her tread and no one yet

has found the riddle to her heart

something distant and wafer thin

like a fabric of unknown origin

it is not her wish to change anything

but the temperature she feels

when they press against the other

beneath roar of blood and live wire

crackling into cuplets of lightning

it is not her wish to alter one second

save the moment she relents and

sensing something good

releases her perfume and all the

capture of her loveliness

till they mingle as one energy

burning their quickening on the tail of

some unearthed connection

where beneath the moon they

reach for each other and not

the solace of being alone

lying in a circle like warm petals

she draws her hand slowly

over the silk of her

without words sufficient

holds her breath

as long as it can stay

spellbound by her presence

the entire world paused

in reflecting pools

oceans

never deep enough to

swallow

the intensity

of her regard

for she

is beauty.

Waiting for you to read my mind

36483015_1_x

There is

An abacus

Counting sense and nonsense

On the high cheeks of a woman

Whose done saying what she’s told

The photographer

Catches her unease

In the shape of her mouth

It would taste of raspberry, that’s obvious

At night, the crystal of your half filled glass shines

Ice melting slow like peeling clothes

Staring at naked ghosts with their hands up

Sexing on dirty carpets with clean minds

Watching flashbacks of regrets and pleasure

Idling trucks melting snow with their hung over breath

If you were a pill I’d O.D. on your potency

Skipping heartbeat, chasing down roads, your diminishing form

You left one day intact and never returned

Sending a doppelgänger

A confidence artist, in your stead

Who told me; I like your eyes they’re untamed

With a paper tongue and windscreen brow

Wiping away the rain, that endlessly fell

We must get used to death

In each pause, in the rhythm

I touched your skin

And thought of new England apples

The first taste

Belief comes last

Use your imagination

Can you see me?

I’m standing waist deep

Waiting for you to read my mind

Like you did once with the alacrity of an gymnast

In the throes of passion

Braile

Morse code

Signs and wonders

Photos over exposed

Ringing phones in the night

Knowing the destination in your fingers and finding

Without map or lights switched on

Blacking out cries

To be found

Oh god

To be found again

By you

Reach out

the-hunger-1983-0-58-35-323If I had the courage to tell you

I’d tell you I’m foolish

as they say in Texas; this isn’t my first rodeo

I know better

here I am though, thinking of you

remembering the way you move when

you pause to sit down

sleek and translucent like silk

the fall of your chin, and rise of your clavicle

how the harpsichord of your mouth bows and sends

me crossing my legs in want

how I know you diminish yourself

cannot see, what I

quiet and observant

in my courageless pretense of being

just friends

notice in the gentle sway of you

sometimes I wish the world woke up

and girls loved girls everywhere

though it would be like chocolate

lovely at first and then too much

there is something sacred in smaller numbers

we are rare night birds who fly singing

when everyone else is asleep

sometimes we recognize each other just by

a glance

like a language only we damson girls speak

those who love others in whispers

for the most part it is a lonely walk

being the cuckoo in the nest

watching girls you thought glorious, invariably fall in love with boys

their hearts broken when you

could have given them the spin of a dream

it is not the weft of this world to permit

girls who love girls become the norm

we will always be the nightingale and the black swan

I will feel the need to apologize

if I look at you too long

for it is a respectful dance we learn

to stay our distance and not become

a pastiche or cliche; the girl who loved girls led astray

by someone incapable of returning her ardor

though if you could just break the rules

sometimes I suspect, in the way you gaze back

all redolent and tied tightly with secrets

we’d have a grand ole time

there are worlds you haven’t even imagined

places you cannot give names to

once you swim to that fair isle, few return willingly

I don’t boast but what’s wrong with admitting

love between girls has a special season

deep and sonorous, we think such things do not exist

only because our imagination is not so

vivid

if you gave me one word or even

on a certain day, when feeling bold I may

require just a particular arching smile

as you let go and said; Yes I do

I’d not hesitate to make you mine

all your closeted longing

the belief you hold, that love has a sell by date

and you are not worthy

I would remove each of those

aches like the layers of an artichoke

delving into what makes you tremble

and find there, the pain and the longing

owning no words just primal need

like a river coming to flood the delta

I’d pour myself into your loneliness

the many nights you dreamed, of being reached so deep

gave up thinking that will never be me, I could not be loved that much

in the reflection of my longing, you would see

the worth of you and how all those fears

were just surfaces as yet untouched

for we who dance

together

never

stop

and I will not let go

if you just

reach

out

Vapor

V005

Your head moves under hot lights

thrashing

a passion as you open your mouth wide

roar your words

small teeth, thin lips

skin colored by strobes

I want your impulse

your brave furious eyes

your mad flung acrobats anger

it’s the addiction to throwing aside

caution

striking out like match on ink

permanently marking your stride in heat

I watched you take a whole roomful

swallow them whole with your flame-thrower energy

spitting them into stars and tilting laughing

as they adored you and didn’t know why

your mercury vapor left them reeling

clasping my hand in the car with headlights off

driving blind down blurred country roads

inside me with urgency born of

thunder and trees struck silver

firing in strange shapes of want

it felt like flying, I grabbed a tuft of you

spun like a catherine wheel in your orbit

time was fast and everyone watched as

we climbed buildings in our wonderlust

they’re crazy, they’re so in love

they’ll burn out, they’ll extinquish each other

we never did

not until the key stuck, didn’t turn around anymore

rusted and tired of pushing wooden horses

tired in their paint and festoon

oh I would have made them well again

as I did you

just for one more shivering impulse

riding your coat tails as you took in

the capture of your swell

kissing me beneath table tops

our faces glittering from thrown aside masks

hands reaching, climbing up skin

dance of thundering hearts clamoring to be

still

as you lay now, white out, no sound

I dance contorting to cause a smile

there is none

only a wick, half used, half submerged

in waxen reproduction of what was once real

give her back!

give her back!

I yell at rooms without inhabitants

tables missing their chairs

windows containing no view

your fingers trembling in mine

if I could have

I would have

made us one

save this image; a kiss lasting past quitting time

you pull away and reach in again

no ending,  just softness

a song we live inside

calling us home

there we go

hand in hand

through the vapor

vanishing

 

Without you

Your betrayal came before the post on Monday

If I listened it may have sounded

Like paper in air, losing gravity

The unexpected slap of shiny magazine

And echoing hinged snap of closed door flap

The postman left his shoe imprints in the snow

One way in, one way out and the bare branches of the trees

Were cold dancers cupping themselves to imaginary fernace

You had already gone before the skies admitted

Their talcum-powdered descent of white

Your letter, handwriting in your bold certain shape

The same hand that had led me up the stairs

A silver bracelet bought when we visited the seaside, on your wrist

Strong hand, reaching for me, for my rustle and my yawning silouette

We were shapes against the mirror of moonlight

Streaming our own version of whispers and little cries

You never let go of my hand even

As you turned your neck and slept, dreamlessly by my side

And I lay in partial light feeling your resonance

Play like an instrument on my damp skin

Your upright, careful letter and the last word, your name

A name I had put into the core of me and melted down

Covering any fear that you’d crack my heart

Open like a woodland walnut and expose the soft innards

No, not this woman, with her fingers reading my brail

And her tongue searching for stars in the folds of hesitate

She has breathed me in, carved her name in my wood

I cannot stir without a part of her moving alongside me

Life no longer singular I am now and always, illuminated

By her rounding glow and the peach dream of her thighs

Wrapped in mutual surround, the open window

Carrying our symphony into gloaming night wind

How then are you gone?

As rapid as my chest threatens to explode

A single firework

Removed from me and behind, spending in your wake

Emptiness

Letters furthering no explanation, blurring in porcelain horror

If I had listened

Maybe the stir of settling snow or else

Some torn part would reveal

The sense in loss

I stand by the picture window

Wearing an old shirt of yours

Yellow at the collar and faded with wash

Across the road, a neighbor walks her dogs

She glances my way and sees

Only the shadow of

A life without

You

Safe ascent

q64w643

This unspoiled place

holds a silence and a sound both

in the careen of wild bird, dove-tailing against light

swish tailed-fox, caught in glimpsing treeline, scar of russet

your wool pulled and caught like thoughts on wire

I felt you inside, like mercury, descending to places I’d locked

tight against battering fists and claim

how did you learn the maze and possess

parts of me I had yet to give permission?

though all of us are like the wool, caught and fluttering

against a world of happen-chance and calamity

it is only perhaps, in those untethered moments

love, unexplained by all things

captures in unguarded step

drowning tightly held belief

we are our own master

and in this yield

in your arms and the void calling overhead

a vast sky holds swell of rain

just long enough

for our safe ascent