Undefeated

I knew my limits were met when my father tutted and said

You’re an ordinary girl

I wish you looked like your mother

When heron jawed teacher said

You’re an average student

Students with learning disorders should drop out early

When razor hipped boyfriend said

You’re the last choice

I settled for you because everyone else said no

When porn-on-his-desktop boss said

You’re not qualified enough

I keep you down because you won’t ask for a raise, you don’t have the guts

When mint-chewing doctor said

You’re too old to have a baby anyway

What’s one more womb between friends? Unmarried girls are dispensable

I did not crack under the weight

For what doesn’t smother best intentions may

Lend you a fist of iron

Sometimes our weaknesses serve us better than our strengths

My families indifference taught the rule of self sufficiency

I didn’t die of neglect despite best attempts

You shouldn’t have had children but I’m here and I’ll endure without your permission

My limit knew no limit

When I graduated top of my year and slammed the medal on teachers desk

You ruin kids right to have dreams with your judgement

My limit knew no limit

When I told him his actions would come full circle

He’s divorced and not allowed to see his kids, his pattern ran him ragged

My limit knew no limit

When my boss grabbed my butt and I blew the whistle to his superior

I stayed and he resigned, don’t think he’ll be pinching anymore asses

My limit knew no limit

When the grief of being childless led me to embrace others

Try, try, try, turn the negative into a way of transformation

What does kill you can save you

My limit knew no limit

Had no end

Because I am a woman who has survived many scars and

I still stand

I knew my limits were

Undefeated

Rule book for living in the world

Here’s to the day you said

you could be what she wanted

be fierce enough

closing fear in its locket

lent against old tree bark

when you whispered in her unpierced ear

the words she had been waiting so long to hear

I’m sorry I made you wait

it wasn’t a lack of anything

here I am with my hands full

of every emotion with your name

etched sideways, longways in silver script

you were always the reason for everything

I just didn’t have the language to explain myself

why I lived beneath the earth so long

why I’m a salvaged creature who only

comes out with the moon shine

why I can take you in my arms fiercely and possess

the very air with passion

but I cannot seem to climb out of my own tomb

gather my wits about me long enough

to craft that thing you needed most of all

courage or bravery

a rule book for living in the world

that essential passport to success

I was just a girl with leaves in her hair

who loved you with every inch of her hidden self

I just didn’t know how to be

in this country with these double stitched expectations

gathering like unspun wool about me

it is not a reflection of my truth

to fail you

Here’s to the day you said

you could be what she wanted you to be

by leaving

now she can find someone who can give her

the color of the sea found in her eyes

if you lay your hands on her shoulders

if I imagine her warm beneath you

I may finally roar from under the earth with envy

and have what it takes

to lift another up and be human

everyone else knows how

to get by

I try but I find myself

caught by the colors reflecting from the sky

halting my tracks

turning me back to the woods

and the smudge of things

that were

Papier-mache

e23b1d77a3144773d37a060c30b340b9--the-velveteen-rabbit-being-ugly

They said, keep the blinds drawn, what we have to say, isn’t good

they lay her down on a white sheet and beneath, the hammered metal hummed

the bulb in the middle of the room, behind linoleum, sung a hissing song

their white-coated pluck and scratch, indifferent and sterile, she was just, flesh and blood

another in a long line of patients who, largely were forgotten, consumed by a machine, uncaring of individual

she could feel the dried corners of her eyes crack, as she looked left and right

someone once told her, adult survivors of abuse, find it hard to relax

they are always looking for what is crawling out of cupboards

she didn’t want her past to run her future, but now it seemed, her future was in doubt

never before had she felt so alone

the petty bravery of moving countries, seemed a facile thing, for children who didn’t yet know, true terror

surely it is easy to be brave when you have no war, and are just posting letters

she lived like that for so long, running from childhood’s sadness, enjoying the wide open space of adulthood

thinking she had all the time in the world, surely growing older was for another life

it wasn’t entirely selfish, she did her part, but there was always the tendency to want to make up for the past, by living without a care

and then it was no longer that way

impossible to ignore, unable to let go of, she was swiftly consumed and irrevocably changed

even if tomorrow the cloud lifted, she would never walk as lightly as she used to

the power of naivety, ignorance is surely, our dearest friend

now her heart beat fast all the time, unable to still, the surge of emotions inside

she was a rabbit in her burrow, smelling fox

she was no longer the quick silver of a girl, without terrible knowledge

days were unbearably long, and serious, like the frown on an old man’s face

they spoke of compromise, a series of steps, faltering and bursting apart and trying over

it was as if all of her was removed and pummelled into earth and made to rise again

never was it more silent, never did she wish for the phone to ring and something to let her out of the nasty trap with jagged mouth

words are just words, she could have said; I am strong, I am going to fight, but in the next breath she may

simply not be able

and that lack of, that inability, like a prison, or a sudden dismemberment, was, a kind of horror she’d never been creative enough to imagine

like being stolen from yourself, and hearing in the distance, the sound of children dancing

to your favorite song

if life is indeed a battle, she thought, this is where I need to buckle down

put aside my tendency to want to climb out of the window and skip the lesson

stifle the longing to run fast, in the opposite direction

everything so far, had brought her to this point, it wasn’t what she’d imagined

instead, she’d hoped by now, she’d have found her groove, begun as humans tend, to build her fortress

it wasn’t time yet, it wasn’t nearly time yet

and all the days she’d squandered, thinking there would be more

all the long drawn out machinations, to position herself and be ‘responsible’

denying the lustre of living

she’d put off joy so many times, in favor of ‘sensible choices’

where were those now? She berated herself for not having taken

more vacation, more experiences, that glass of wine, danced on that table top

she worked for a future, she may never get to experience, sure she felt bitter, angry at her lack of insight

though most believe, we’re never ready for bad news or, the fall of favor

we think we predict worst case scenario but that’s only an anxious mind

seeking to control the uncontrollable and unknown

nothing prepares you for a premature curtain fall

nothing shores you up to deal with catastrophe

we muddle through or we give up

those are the only two ways we journey

when the wet-ass hour comes tolling

she felt a grief for her bad choices and wished, like others she could have no regrets

it is hard not to regret when you’re cut off from everything

difficult to look forward when the present is biting at your ankles

she wasn’t one to pray for herself

but she did now

she prayed for the strength she felt she didn’t have

she prayed not to feel so isolated

cried thinking of how many before her, went through this darkness alone, their hearts aching to be cared for

she was a little girl again, looking for her mother beneath furniture

seeing her in album covers and from the top of buses

that woman had her mother’s eyes, large and dark

that lady’s figure is slim and reedy like her mother’s was

at night she wanted to feel the way she imagined a child does

put to bed and told, everything is well, you are safe

if she’d had children, she’d be saying it to them now

but life threw her a curve-ball and she ended up reproducing only

empty rooms collecting dust

perhaps it was for the best, now that she’d sunk so low

for how could she care for anyone, when she could not for herself?

if everything has a reason, she wasn’t sure of this

to teach her gratitude? To punish her for lassitude?

if there was a God she hoped, somehow to end her suffering, even by means of eternal sleep

but she felt bad for praying when so many, suffered far worse than her, and how they coped, she did not know

only that she had to try each day to keep going, in what direction was unclear

she wasn’t sure of the sign-posts or meaning, it was too easy to let fear, guide her way

so many things needed to change and yet, she was tired, so tired of fighting and being scared

they say those brought up unkindly, learn to be strong

she didn’t feel strong at all, she felt like only a thin wind, kept her from collapsing

and all her plans were thrown in water, watching the ink bleed out, with nothing left to find, but papier-mache

her grandmother once told her, out of nothing you can build, entire universes

she tried now to imagine a place, where she would be restored

where all the things she still had to do, remained possible

surely you can tell when, the end of the record is over and, it’s about to go quiet

she hadn’t been able to, she’d one day been carrying her dancing shoes, across the newly waxed floor, her eyes feverish with anticipation

and the next, swallowed by sickness, left without curative

only the static of a cold room and a script for patience

she’d been spat out of the system, left to flounder by road-side

how different, she thought, from childhood where, we do everything to protect them from fear

sewing toys that will keep them company at night

mobiles to send them to sleep, songs to ward away nightmares

and at some eventual point, we decide they’re ready for the real world

full of savagery and disregard and people who are supposed to help

but are only doing the bare minimum

is it any wonder we flounder, and miss a step?

looking around in wide-eyed fear

mouthing the unasked question

is this what it feels like, to be real?

Anguish

cc477

anguish

is a selfish emotion

and a raw cry

made from the belly of the beast and all those terrors unseen

something honest and hardly admitted

kept behind fan and sleight of hand

it is something you hide for fear of being told;

do you only think of yourself? Are you aware others have it worse?

why can’t you just GET A GRIP!

You know all this just as you know

you can’t take one more minute

one second longer

staring at now familiar nightmare

feeling it turning you inside out and back again

(as if jaws were attached to your innards, pulling like a lover would)

anguish is an exhaustion

hunchbacked and ready to tear its own eyes

where if you could you would

run away from yourself never to return

where if you could you would

S.T.O.P.

where if you could you would

scream and never quit

until either your heart refused to beat or

something changed permanently

O the salve of darkness, shrouding such horror

how you have begged for change, change, change

please make it BE ANYTHING BUT THIS

and much as you did, nothing ever would

ease up and chill out, letting the prisoners out in the sunny yard

NOT THIS TIME or so if felt when again and again

you returned to

anguish

who is not definitely no

friend

but the enemy you know better than you ever wished

dangling by garter

over an old dunking pond

the shape of witches still burned

screaming in treeline

Thrive

thShow me how

to thrive

not simply devoured

by starched white spread heart of palm

telling fortunes at Waldens pond

for the ice is surely as colorless

as mine own frosted breath

held in dove cot

awaiting relent

 

Show me how

to thrive

in wood cut and lithographic land

forging in Shakers wrapped hand

measurement of generations

prescribing latitude

and those born beneath ice water

hardening by each ratchet and slip

 

We may resemble the other

I assure you

I sink while you swim

festooned in spring

I hear your delight

caving snow into spectacle and whim

scoring snowy hide with virgin bemusement

leaving blushing to first flower

 

Show me

how to thrive

unwary of the cut of fencer’s lance

skaters take their effortless figure eight

cut me out while watching me sink

bleary are the reflecting lessons gleaned beneath

as trees wearing cost of growth will shield in poplar costs against fall

scooping handfuls of strain into colander air

 

Wait for the transport

urge yourself into print

pick a destination

maybe a flurry

picked in shake and shuffle

a bridal bouquet

wet confetti

new days

following season

over wooden bridge

frigid with warm step

Show me

how to thrive

Fermented

dbb8e6a2f03166ae5c27a2b3bce546d4She told me

it is written

memory controls pain

once forgotten it takes a mountain

to revisit it again

or a certain pair of eyes

that retracing back

remind you of the eyes you loved

when you were youthful, fat on luck

and she did not have what it took to

return the emotion

she told me

it is written

memory controls pain

you can rinse out your glass

dry it in the hot Texan air

smelling of ancho chile and fertilizer

and it will not sprout again

until you are ready to expunge the day

start over with blank slate

she said this

because it was her way

to forget what she needed

rewind the silky tape

press erase

and I did not share this propensity

nor was I able

to shine her out of my hide

she had grown long claws

they stitched inside the cry

we both denied

in our modest pin tuck blouses

and matching bobby socks

turned down once

a slight lemon frill

sensible and cloaked

the passion stucco and quiet

tasted like strawberries

fermented in hot palms

drunk over crushed ice