New girl

A broken bottle

a discarded hairbrush

totems within totems

effigies of past and present

a light knock on the door

she’s wearing a French halter dress

her ankles are slim like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her skin is brown like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her black hair is curled like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her perfume speaks of wanting passion

it belies the faux expression on her face

attempting trickery

she bends to me and pretends to be enchanted

by childhood photos

they are not her photos to touch

with her careful, manicured pink nails

a color my mother always hated

she had more style in her little finger

the one with dupuytren’s contracture

more a question mark than deformity

it didn’t stop her playing the piano

carving her place in my father’s heart

and this imposter? Flicking her way into our life

like a cheap fan you buy, because you are sweating

I want to tell her, using grown up words

I may be six, but I know what she’s up to

with her shifting glances toward my handsome father

with her endearing crossing of espadrilled feet

if she touches my mother’s hairbrush

I will burn

this happy house down

Weigh Scale

Do you hear it?

Relief sounds like

a girl’s slip

a bird’s wing

your eye lashes fluttering

against your blushing cheek

Do you hear it?

Suffering sounds like

cloth pulled by stick across dirt floor

chalk pressed violent into board

fingers opening blouses raggedly

your chest bone protrudes

more than the year before

Do you hear it?

The woman in the moon

and we said

try with all your might

to hold yourself up in this world

should you fall, do so quietly, lest

you disturb this delicate status-quo

do not be loud, do not make a fuss

these are things only rude people do

like those who talk on phones loudly

in confined spaces

penguins with plastic attached to their beaks

yak yak yak they go

but nobody seems to tell them to

shut it

and the propriety of life

misses a stitch

a heart beat

a compassionate rinse

through the annals of time

thinking of how we have always

stifled valuable voices

in favor of noise

putting up with the yak and not

the desperate drum beat of a woman

unraveling

she has spun her loom

throughout the city and its artifices

with alacrity and the sweat of female

labor, she has borne her children and

created a field of poppies, that threaten

to dazzle the very sun

she has grown her hair long and matted, until

it is thick enough to reach the moon

where she sits

howling

at the ravages of life

permitted at last

to possess

a voice

Walk over

Walk over

on those long satin legs

with ankles crossing

like idle thoughts saturated

in honey

Skin on skin

when it matters most

don’t push away

move nearer

touch until it hurts to touch

remedy that disappointment we carry

in little cherry pink pill boxes

find in me, the answer to the puzzle

if we’re alone let’s make the most

of being able to move close

the rest of the world is spinning

obsessing about varied concerns and things

that don’t matter just as much as

those that do

take this second

to put aside your walk

and dance in my arms

inhaling the intensity

that is us

Misleading light

You’re not leaving yet are you?

Girl with mango skin, every direction she turns

a kalidoscope of hopefulness in her smile

I notice how she wears her rings on her fingers like mine

that is because she is me

lost to time, a pull in a favorite knit top

the burgundy losing its focus as

it gathers holes

this is because she is me

bound to gravity and her weighty entreaty

toward inexorable end

a time away, yes, yes,

and nearer now than ever before

the steal of youth cloying on her dry hands

people slip her sweets and say: You are a doll

and she knows if she were a doll she’d be

able to affix the grimace all day and probably say

mama if you tipped her upside down

which is what she cannot say now

anymore than: I hurt, I cry, I feel

for she is passed that invisible line in the sand

where confession is pretty

she’s on the side of adulting

among the oaks and bulbs promising

fertility in Spring

but maybe they will be too tired

to show much of their lustrous potential

isn’t potential for under 25’s? She

read that somewhere in one of those

damaging women’s magazines before

they were transplanted to a screen

where weary eyed, prematurely hunched

poor postured youth eat their life’s golden ticket

like it is a salty snack at bedtime.

For sleep, for retreat, into the veiling woods

the silence unfolding like a veil, mist disgusing

her disappointment, even love doesn’t always

fill in where that ends, fickle in ways

you only learn when it’s exhausting

to find alternate routes, still she finds herself

thinking of the mango girl, the weight of the future

bowing her head like a shy dancer in the wings

of some hot lit theater

how then it was overwhelming in an entirely different way

the touch of a stranger, electricity firing her magic

quills into ether and those nights of no sleep

spent creating, describing, entire worlds

the future, a glittering prize, a lover, a friend

perhaps

perhaps

perhaps

it is time for her to leave

her skin shed in parts like impatient lizard of the desert

indigo handprints leading into arroyo

the scars of her like points of light

shining through

perpetual dark

as we mistake a falling star

when it is ignis fatuus

mere oxidation of phosphine

causing us to believe

remarkably and with some relief

in fairies again

Invisible ink

When they say someone is driven to distraction

can’t stop thinking about …

I imagine

a woman running in the rain

newspaper overhead, painted nails

pursed lips, the crook of a smile despite

her hose getting wet, soaking her clavicle, glistening like

some jewel in a torrent might

suddenly fruit

it reminds me of the first time I heard Suzanne Vega sing

not knowing she was singing for a woman

but something in the detail caught my eye

how she felt the same hot breath, steaming glass

lost bra strap, showing slip, untucked blouse

a stray hair, falling in her eyes, it took all of my

self possession not to reach across and brush it

back into place

although I’d rather press my face

into her neck and lose myself to the sound

of rain and tempests, growing inside me

wordlessly showing her the crocheted waves

with every brush stroke

a painting cannot be completed without

sufficient water and concentration

much like a woman cannot be pleasured without

the breath of sea and infinite patience

it is like learning an instrument

your fingers growing sore in repetition and as they

tire, music is formed, her mouth opening

throat reddened, thighs dampening, heat climbing

you find yourself approaching

a cusp of wonder without worthy language

to describe, its motion

when I am tired, sorrowful, when I feel wan daylight

setting behind me, proffering dusk and your absence keenly

I close my eyes and feel her in every song

that girl beneath the awning, trying to close her

umbrella, her shapely legs and slender ankles

breasts rising against damp silk, in one long sigh

there are passions within us

that have teeth and fire

where hunger is a permanence

just like the silver locket hanging

about your neck and how if you play with it

I find myself needing to be

that silver, that shape, that falling

between you, against your skin, as if we can possess

another which we never can and so we try

again and again

thinking up ways

as coffee grows cold

as people flit in and out

hardly noticing the girl

who sits alone

wrapped in thought of you

a blunt pencil by her side

writing

in invisible ink

the landscape of a

woman

lost in rain

Untouchable

l.

I slept though I did not sleep

onboard the memory of you

wrapped around my legs

entwined we touched, we did things

in real life we would not

like thirsty vines found purchase

I wake hot with a sore-throat

for calling you in dream

you stay just far enough away to be

exquisite, painful

still, you are with me

all throughout this fatigued day

my hair matted with thought of your voice, your mouth

heart faster for desire unspoken

recollections like film reel

thin wrists, strong arms, long neck

slender back of an archer sending her arrow

colt legs as brown as sundown eclipsing

autumn leaves

the bedroom lure of your perfumed eyes

I saw it years ago and it pierced me

as keenly as a real knife might

cut through something willing and laid it open

to conquest

I said nothing then,

my tongue in my mouth

longing to taste yours

stays quiet, stays quiet, stays quiet

for to break the spell

is to wake.

ll.

If magnolia trees did not take an eternity

to bloom

I’d plant one and plant you

watching your volumineuse petals

open and fracture

my thirsting heart

with your uncertain entreaty

I lie awake at night

unable to breathe, to sleep, to be still

able only to replay

the expressions of your face

with such easy unconscious grace

my cheeks burn from laughing

smiling, it is as if

a new sun was born in the softness of your hair

one in which I felt desire

something hidden in dark too long

my hands tied, I sit in a high backed

chair sipping my penance, my lack of ability

to ever be close to your ideal

for I have never competed and I will not

share you with all the others

trying not to be noticed when I glance

again and again, at your smooth legs and arms

why weren’t you mine all along?

I had thought so then and now

wordless, I did nothing

for you are made of crystal

catching all colors

my prism is just one

I will the rain to come

drench us both, obliterate sound

words I would say if I could,

if I could

if I could

silenced, in downpour

I walk away

I stay, watching you

until you are the storm in my eyes

or tears, growing their want

ever, untouchable.

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.

The Opal

I think of you

My heart clenches

In the carousel of seconds it takes to form a moment, yet I managed to witness a lifetime

How did you come to be

A vowel, a constellation, a rhyme in my mind

Days are bare, unpainted walls

Thinking of you I find color

Music

Can’t imagine a world with only one of you in it

I want to breathe you in

Molecules and seconds

Making up days spent together, pieces of paper forming a page

Marbles inside the other

Flowers retaining pigment as they dry

Death and life, striding side by side

Dancing beneath raw bulb, open sky

The pulse in your throat the clench of your thigh

Sweetness in a certain, slow agony

Instrument run over temperate string

The cry of unseen things in the dark

Listen, listen, closer, I bend my head

You tell me everything in one pearlized glance

If there were a creature able to step from shell, made flesh

I think she’d be you, you with your untouchable countenance

The regal surity of your long sloping neckline

How cheek bones become canvas, become art, become song

Your thin chest against mine, just once, like a film played forward and backwards

I see the embrace, an ackwardness, then I’m wearing my best dress, nearly spent, bare feet on dirty street roads, because I wore heals to look like your fantasy and one broke clean in half

You can take things like that as omens

I’ll continue to believe where there are feelings, there are destinations

Electricity above us in the heavens, sprung to earth

Lines in sand, in skin, in the consoling sky at night

Across your sleeping skin, when I want you to dream like I

Building on fantasy, stories come fully real

Only in others lives it seems, you swim ever further away

Until a shadow, a mirage, just the sound of your escape

Sometimes you strangle the moment, with accident or heavy hand

Intensity not meant for now, should take its time to build

I gave you no time, in my world you had long been its center

A flower within flowers, mandala tattooed on the small of my back in purple, calling

I think of you

My heart clenches

In the carousel of seconds it takes to form a moment, yet I managed to witness a lifetime

Before the end there was a beginning, unsung, untested, disused, sythed baren

Leaving nothing in its scatter but wistfulness

Like a memory without basis, not existing, just as real

The feel of your reddened lips, goodbye, never touched, still here

In the unfolding of time, you flicker closer, then far, then in, then

Out

Like an Opal on my finger

Luminous, unforgettable, the night air charged with its curse.