Being twenty

15541394_10202354632784646_1452891421884110148_nThinking back

being twenty wasn’t as shiny

as bronze coin swallowed by carp

when

I went to eat Chinese and made a wish

to be young again

 

at twenty

I thought my breasts already hung forlorn

much like the oak grandfather clock

my father lifted from a former nunnery

when the nuns were gone and buried with the rhododendrons

the building disarticulated stood empty

beseeching intruders

awaiting renovation into flats for rich city dwellers

whose coins were gold

my father said

it seems a shame to let these apple and plum trees

be torn up and shredded they are mature and have

earned a right

so by night we dug up their rosewood roots

hefting in my grandfather’s wheel barrow down cobbled street

planted them in the little weedy garden out back

where they endured without their crowns

 

much as I endured being twenty

thinking myself imperfect

because of the pressure

burning like a hot wire in my

fizzing young head

like tight roller skates leave indents

my father said the trees never

bore fruit after moving

because once you’re planted

you grow roots only once

 

maybe that’s like being young

you are a tumbleweed and whilst some

take to being a spirit composed of air

there is something reassuring

like a warm fire or

a steaming bath

when you know it doesn’t really matter

all the fanciful dreams you had intended to wear

the way you sucked your stomach in

when he touched you underneath your dress

that tugged uncomfortably at tight seams

because you wanted to be

as gamine as

Audrey Hepburn

Clock-face

a-girl-a-dog-and-a-horse-1921Laughter spills out, an unexpected guest

been many seasons replacing themselves since

she danced to a good song

look! What shakes now that used to be firm

standing painting your public face on

you omitted to check

the clocks wound themselves forward

now you tear the grey from your hair and lament; how long it takes to recover yourself?

standing flat-footed before a mirror where is the succor for survival?

in the weight of your accumulation? Bales waiting tied snug and square

maybe the lake doesn’t ask for praise when it endures the ice

nor the escapees praise, their fortune

we wear the badges of our internal battles on the inside of our skin

nobody congratulated, the warrior who holds us from despair

media will not report those valiant souls making their way through treacle

and every once in a while it surprised you to witness

winter talenting to spring

water getting warmer

new generations crowd shoreline

unknowing in a blink

they too will wonder

how it had been so long?

since they danced

in the arms of someone who saw

the silver thread in their being

as if miracles were fashioned for the living

and stories of a shared song could rub true

instead of lifting your sagging arms toward heaven

halving wan light of a late winter moon

lighting the shift of clock-faces

tucking their knowledge in shadow

Greater solace

651d3294ace9c6e46b0b18587904b847

There you are

picture yourself

standing in a vacated room

the walls are nondescript

from the window comes a little wan sun

hardly enough for warmth

you pull yourself closer

recalling how as a child

sitting on old iron radiators in winter

they’d say you’d develop hemorrhoids

in those days

the sound of scuffed shoes running for class bell

figuring you had a few moments yet

to stare out at brick and cement

stretch out reverie

a voice inside your head

surely this isn’t all there is?

you made a pact with yourself

to get the hell out

whatever it took

gathering your books

mindful of their ticket

you forgot yourself in dream

walking past the classroom

after all

learning is better in the mind

than grind of chalk on board

some boy kicking you in the back

with sweaty socks

you knew even then

this was but a stepping stone

though if asked you couldn’t say

what of the grim facade urged you most

to escape

 

and now

all these years later

more alone than that day

when covered by childhoods vigor

and the smell of something better

just around the corner

hope has been sore in her visits

silence too often your friend

as we fall one by one out of the egg carton

we are without wings

without safety harnesses

all the others found places

in busy lives, babies, families, jobs

the weave and knot of life

whilst you stood watching out of the window

glimmering

expecting to fly

 

now in shallow rooms

artifice has left her scent

they tell you the last one has passed over

you feel it in the curve of your chest

no more hands to scoop you back

from your leaning motion to find

somewhere to breathe

where trees are ever green

sunlight full on face

obscuring all trace of bleak homes

terraced and hollow

where you can hear the flush of

neighbors loud toilet

piercing cry of another

born into fitful times

where you never understood

your own role

just the fallacy of drowning sorrows

sundays in the bar

knocking back glasses of regret

nothing could spur you faster

toward wide open space where

no trace of sorrowful city remained

 

and wherever you go

there you are

still back against the wall

still with the locked door

school girl tights bunched in your mouth

hearing muffled voices

discussing your inability to speak

how long can you hold your tongue girl?

before the need to scream

unfurled

and in one howl you swallow yourself

all the disappointment

all the lost chances

breaking through cloud

fast diminishing in oboe sky

open the storeroom of your mind

clear out those long stored hurts

preserved in obscura

 

you may feel you have nothing

but in the sundering fall of flight

we find again our urge

never to quite escape

perhaps more a reinterpretation

carrying on no more alone than before

for we are born crying in singular pitch

in each step grow further to our end

it is in the humility of knowing this

we find our greater

solace

Stand out

20140113_d5c_20131123_0749_099_fb2-pheasant-malermb-id768Losing your fingers to frostbite

is one way of learning

the lay of land

as patient

night creatures

await their turn by sunset

we who are foolish

blunder across landscape

like lost phesants

littering harmony with mottled noise

when the car flings them to

roadside graves, warm and feathered

twitching their gory surprise

it is the still ebon crow

hungry for ojos

stark against his watch

who shall taste their regret

for dressing too brightly

attracts less than one might guess

in worlds where to last

you must blend a little

with surrounding color

lest you stand out

Seven years


Seven years I let myself formulate excuses

not to return

and on the eighth

guilt had made her way into my closed heart

laying a light ribbon on the frayed part

 

going back was like being reborn

as yourself and not yourself at all

I walked familiar streets, spoke similar words

accent hardly altered

as if no time had passed

and so they said

you look exactly the same

though they were changed and I were changed

all altered irrevocably with time worn stain

as if glass no longer could be relied upon

to give accurately our real prescription

even friends were foreign handed

or I no longer of that land

left behind when things were too sad

I sealed the bottle and set adrift

seven years of absence builds

many barnacles to anyone’s vision

when the damned see the truth

the liars remove their seaweed masks

curtsy finely and pronounce

we did our part

exit stage left

standing on warm boards of the theater of pretend

where dance and energy has dissipated

into cloven wings

hear me now

shadows of my past

the girl with the big smile

her perfect fine figured mouth

and matching dragon tooth skirt

as if we dressed together in the darkness

of one another

except she is a mother and

I have a cut-out womb ebbing in formaldyade

don’t worry I feel no pain now

some of us are bearly hanging on

what good would a child of weakness

bring the sorrow further inland?

I miss her

like I write letters in wax to myself

those over easy days we knew who we were

or felt … some approximation of reality

good enough for then

when she looked at me

unequal teeth smiling and needing

how did the splinter drive that deeply?

wedge like sword between this time and before?

we know nothing of the other

as a blue bottle

cast on green and yellow water

will wait

seven years

to reach shore

when I climbed out and dusted myself off

she was gone

her footprints erased from the sand

nobody recognized me

only the echoes of an angry sea

calling me back to exile

whispering

you do not belong here 

and the white cliffs looked relieved

when I flew overhead

my heart aching with loss

the cheer of relief

like a season

changing from golden red to

brown

Echoing back

 

40ce96627e2a59381507324cc14e8c38She has gone down with the light

into deepest water

where frozen the eyes denied

see murkily through specter

she has gone down because you deemed her

unforgiven

and all your entreaties and kindnesses

were sunken lies

all the time you waited

like the brown recluse

sits watchful

beneath porch steps

for the unwise

she has gone down because you needed her capsize

to stick the thorn deep and watch her bleed

for those who dare to live inspite of you must pay the price

we are nothing if not accurate

in our thread and release

the arrow

a light airy sound

blistering cloud

cutting through

pierces its mark

and she must sink beneath the waves of your wrath

to ensure justice in an unjust world

that is your closure

as you put away

the disturbance of her

and feel relief

to rid yourself of your reflection

echoing back through the trees

Emptied of darkness

amani-alshaali_hope-dwells-in-the-darkness_2015

Among the weary mangle

such love resides

here where refuge once

took up space without solace

for so long anger held her brand

high and unceasing like a hundred fires

burning to the ground those memories

hateful to recover

as land grew flat with stomp and grind

as earth renascent ways forward blind

as people covered over their crippled hearts

bearing children in the dunking pond with

no soothe to weary start

here you go, running away again

thirsting to escape the penalty of your heritage

loathing in fearsome stride the color of your brand

without yourself you have no-one

you lose yourself the further away you stand

staring at the debris of rage

smoldering over former cages

now husks on the hill

statues of ill thought

black birds pecking wet eyes from

anything that dare speak truth

better you claim yourself

the saline sorrow of your history

and with it, the marrow and

the yield

as gasping you reach fulcrum

turning to plough much used earth

fertile again

sew hope

transform wayward regret

bring it out in another form

lend it wings to evaporate

bending with your pain you lose the ache

buried within you for so long like

a long chain dragged from the depths

is colder than the hottest fire burns

we are free when we let go

gather the wool of our people

clasping against savage times

defending those you love takes all

in that shadow play lies the surprise

you were stronger than you thought

forgiveness a reflecting moon

translating on still water

life too brief for fury

bring me the ripples of my divination

murders in hesitant re-creation

whom we once named enemy

now grey and fragile

becomes our salvation

as feelings warm through coldness

once enveloping our soul

ushering light

like a mother

watchful over sleeping child

bends to extinguish selfishness

in the arms of her wealth

she who knew nothing but self

stands like thirsting falcon

savage may the land become

soothed surely by our seeking arms

wrapped around the ones

we call home to stand

shining by the hearth of us

turning this way and that

by our regard we protect

from poison with

full hearts emptied of

darkness

Generation

many-generations-1-e1460333953696Does the song bird know?

outlined in whiskered light

casting shadow against

bare branches

does the deer with her liquid eyes?

a swath of red touching white fields

sometimes think on this marvel

reducing and turning

as ancestral dough left, will rise

for children who grow on their vine

like the bean and heirloom aubergine

turning from light to dark

all is circular

even the silver wisp of dawn

calling angels from their sleep

listen carefully as first the world

unfurls her sticky catkin

and limber flees into legacy sky

ask not why this movement

so measured like firing glass

so it reflects both future and past

in echo and mirrored song

first you are born

then you become

stars looking down

upon those left

carrying the flame

Figure eight

Acrobat dancer attached to a hot air balloon dancing through the sky at Festival Number 6 in Portmeirion WalesIt is true

the feel of grit

kissing skin

skinning shins

learning mistakes

through trial

those forbidden sins

made real behind school wall

where youthful fumble with

strange hooks and buttons to release

their wail against the world

they know not yet

the best comes when

all foible and tinsel is left

to keep night awake

whilst we slip into our coats

leaving tracks across the lake

and skating like dreamers too soluble to wake

turn and cut messages out of powdered ice

in our heady retreat from compromise

growing toward our years in eager release

no more push-up bras needed nor

pinching heels except of course when

drowsy with midnight madness we

reenact those anxious days

now unruffled by the sweaty fears of

first vintage

you are able to carry your own

I shall undress in turn

finding your desire wicked ever more

potent in the slowness of our motion

two figures cutting out figure eights

lit by yellow glaze of moon

wringing its hands in humor

for too soon we will be thawed

returning with pinked cheeks

holding hands close the door

on another year of love

made burgundy under covers

where firelight moves us near

to each others gentle warmth