Encroachment

You saw your disintegration

In the shrouded reflection of a store window

Already losing custom

And for years prior

Women adjusted hose and children’s grubby faces wiped

In that smeared glass

It held

Decades

Like high cheekbones

Will shore up time in a beautiful face

I saw my eyes fail me

In the encroachment

Of some uninvited color

As if the sun

Greedy for attention

Had left a permanent marker
The doctor

With his accentless voice

And starched finger tips

Probing my retina

For answers like a tarot card reader

Will shuffle and cut her deck

Declared me blemished

Stained by time

Imperfect

Possibly going blind, wrapped in news print

And I laughed

The same laugh my grandma had

When terrible news was delivered

Along with cold dishes and

Empty seats where once our ancestors sat

Filling the roost of our quaking bones

Marking time and Advent

She would raise a thin lipped glass

Of “this n’ that”

To Gods and Monsters

To Plato, Communism and Woody Allen (before we knew we was a paedophile)

There should be a preface to every memory

She said; toasting velvetine shadows

Swilling away the horror

Like a rinsed mouth will always be

More kissable

And come New Year’s Eve

We’ll forget our enemies and join shoulders

Kicking our long legs into space to the chime of twelve

Not yet knowing

What will become if those flung into the future

To forge ahead alone

Unsupported in ancestry

Just the sound of voices

A snatch of tune

The smell of half finished dinner, paused forks suspended in song

Stewing pears over cheap white wine

Her hands red like mine

From scrubbing too hard

That blemish

It won’t come out

So it sinks

Orange streaks of sunlight beneath green orbit

And a stranger in a bar once remarked;

You have gorgeous eyes like they came from the depth of sea

All green and lost

And I think of loss

A stray button, a missed appointment

Maybe I won’t return

To the doctor who found my stigmata

Bleeding like a fish cut on rocks

Into the very bones of earth

See? I don’t anymore, my eyes look inward

In the old days we toasted with pink cut glass

It was all anyone could afford

And I remind my American friends of this

Poverty after the war

A tendency to never feel

Safe

Like city foxes

Scour

Empty streets

For scraps

And squint

At the harsh glare of street lamps

Attracting insects

Bleached yellow

By the piercing quality

Of their intent

She told me, don’t worry about it

We’re sitting talking about how we know

You’re making me laugh at jokes, about Hannibal

How I only like Gillian, because she’s a bit like you

And I can’t tell anyone, including you

You reminded me how I knew, I was still alive

In the video of you dancing, uncaring and wild

That’s how I’m reminded why

I know beauty

How women

Are the possessors of

All that is beautiful

With your downcast eyes, the color of absinthe

Hair falling in your pale face, cut cheekbones and grace

The switch of your merciless, marching intelligence

The sorrow, the humor, the passion lines

How you make me laugh hysterically and blush

Pouting, pulling on your cigarette, getting me aroused and nervous

Without trying, you command all attention

Your wit is sharper than a sword

When you didn’t talk to me

It was like a blonde flower, turning her lights out

The night was darker

Still I heard

That song you made immortal

The sway of your slim hips and secret smile

And I’m speaking to you in a language, I outlawed

Because he dirtied it for me, forever

But you sound so lovely talking in the fog

I know I have to stand at a distance, or I’d reach out

Grab the concentration from your lovely brow

But to be in your blazing aura

The tiny, angry, intelligent, firey soul

You inhabit like no other

You were the girl who woke me up

I’d give anything to dance with you

To that exact song, in those same clothes

Your then blonde hair, a chaotic wisp

The crunched concentration on your francophone face

There’s classic and there’s disheveled-perfect and you’re both

I’d take your hand and say

Don’t worry, I know the rules

But for fucks sake we’ve both been here long enough

born the same year

You got the small chest I always wanted

And you said you liked my eyes

Same color green as yours

Not narcissism

But sisters

Lovers of

Pain and hard living

We only trust those like us

Who smoked and drank and have to show on our tired faces, the weariness of living

Where boundaries are never crossed

But fantasy is free and inked

And you like being adored

I am good at loving

Sad, happy, gorgeous girls, with crooked smiles

Who hold my attention with their spark

Catching in the darkness like a skinned rock, thrown out to sea

On Brighton beach

Where we’ll always be young and beautiful

Me chasing you in the cold sea

You disappearing into green waves

In the witness of wonder

lindsay-kemp-moving

Lindsay Kemp died

And with him

A torn piece of time

From the quilt of

Those rare beings who are irreplaceable

I wonder at, the length of a life

Seeing some eek out forever

Living fossils unable to pass

Whilst others seem more

Moth to flame

Their brightest extraordinary

The arc to eventual dim

Inevitable

We all perish

But some burn so bright when alive

Even in death they ecclipse

Ordinary forms

It is those extraordinary beings

We cleave to and covet

For in our own search for meaning

They fulfill the dark spaces of our need

Like arrows pointing to starlight

We dance when they come into our orbit

With the flow of children

In the witness of wonder

Lyndsey Kemp died

Images in my mind whirl

Of a young Kate Bush dancing

My own outstretched hands in ballet theater

As he strode poised and strong backed across stage

Like he owned and bequeathed

All the oxygen in the house

And indeed he did

Indeed he did

(For Tim)

Anticipating wonder

I’m on the bus in Mont-Dauphin

young sunburned boys are looking at sunburned girls

with low cut tops and tan marks on their thighs

taking the overnight Intercités train

where sleep is found in drizzling dots of lights and darkness

interspersed with wolves

Perpignan, Marquixanes, no stop beckons

but memories pile, like popping candy

fizzes in your mouth just long enough

to remind you how you once felt

in your own brand of youth

dirty and wide-eyed from the road

anticipating wonder

Within us

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Love is a drowsy hand

held beneath quilt

and long after it has gone

you remember

the familiar warmth

and though the day is raw and filled with white clouds

you walk the dog through the uncut grass

remembering how it felt

to touch.

 

Love is a pain, sharp between your ribs

as if blunted knife has found purchase

to imagine one moment in this world, without you

and yet, so often

love is a terrible morning, waking in disbelief

you no longer walk beside me.

 

Then love is all you have

to hold onto, when the day swells and charges

emptiness spitting her spite in your face

your only recourse, to reclaim, that drowned memory

of when you were both without suffering

no worn streaks of tears tracing your jaw

nor the wink of life fitful, in the candle of your eyes

stillness, in yet unbroken reverie

stretching forever, because we do not think

of what it is to love on the other side of life

or how in love we choose a certain fate

and even if we had …

young then and without knowledge

been challenged with some slip of truth

many years down a well traversed road

I know your answer would be as mine.

 

even if love is fleeting, never captured long enough

even if, as first leaves budding on bare trees

are the most frail

they herald the coming of a new season

courageous enough to live briefest

yet with the glory of an entire summer

never fretting over loss, for it is not present in that moment

we loved for always

unbroken in a circle of flowers emerging

from frozen earth come such wonders

as fragile as petals we hold

each, within ourselves

The blood of words

I am addicted

To the ever deep pool of your mind

Hearing boys say, to a younger version of myself

Don’t be too serious girl, lighten up

You look so pretty when you smile

I read, people gravitate towards humor

I move

In the direction of a bright mind

Illuminating darker recession

It is evident I will never, win popular award

I do however, seek eternally

Your inky thirsty thought

It has told me

To fuck off

Countless times

And hurt me

With the shards of a shattered cup

Pieces too finely crushed to piece back

But when I witness

Your pensive half smile and darkening eyes

When I read your words, smudged on page and hold my breath for wonderment

When I listen

To what you are not saying, in half turned observation, listing on margin

I ache

In a place I had left hallow

Hoping

Time would heal it over

And it may never

For your existence

Is a shape in my head

A girl with the blood of words

Urging me to remember

The wonder of thought

Walked with angels

You are the wonder of the world
a red man come from desert

you saved this girl from drowning in sand

pricked her lips with cacti juice

told her of the stars in your mouth

collapsing mountains

summoning sleeping giants to lie beneath us.

With cicadas, you wove me a blanket of safety

though you had nothing

you gave me all.

From the empty handed

comes the greatest gift

unfolding like paper water lillies

leaving stigmatas in my palm

the shape of echoing stars.

Never apologize 

Dearest

for being poor or empty handed

when your feathers are full and sunset lifts you high

the circumference of your heart

longer than a sincere word

taught me humility

and how to know 

the tenderness of kindness comes often 

from those who receive no thanks

for they are not rich

nor need those things to sustain their souls

walking with angels.

You are a man of your ancestors

truth in the words

as the bell chimed, you took me to be yours

pouring salvation into candles 

lighting my way to freedom.

So many years I had been caught by the neck

twisting in the wind unable to escape

the trap of circumstance

and in one pull 

you gathered me close and saved me

a hunter turned tender 

for the fluttering of his people

bestowing goodness like late harvest.

From the empty handed

comes the greatest gift

before we reach heaven

we may have still

walked with angels.