There is just love

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Among the strange hinterlands of neither young nor old

lies many adrift woman

mistaken for 28 by gum-chewing taxi driver

feeling ancient climbing steps, taking two at once

age is a permutation moving through blood and time

without oxygen it holds no discernible value

she could be your lover with her handfuls of thick hair held up by gravity of want

she could be your mother, stooping to ensure your coat is buttoned

her soft hands can be conductor, nurturer, passionate or flat for querying

why she must be contained at all in any type of jar or bottle

sent out to sea in glass of blue and green she sees all there is

and upon her return announces

she will thus forth be no age, no ones claim

but her own, velvet centered self

delirious of less nouns to describe her

she is neither straight, octagonal nor completely curved

she is a finely tuned instrument, played softly she can produce music

why should she apologize to women who cut their hair off in sharp buzz cuts

for keeping hers long enough to climb or why she wears dresses and heals

it is her weft, no more no less

and she doesn’t judge you for your penchant for masculine women or you for

your need of feminine men

why then tell her she is breaking the code by being who she’s always been

a woman who loves women

in all their unraveling glory

surely it is that loose dance around the maypole

when they were girls, rushing to catch the others crown

daisies so fragile in hot sweating palms

she saw the design then, of them all, like a quilt of differing

shapes ready to take to air

hers sought a reflection of herself in the depths

of what it is to be woman

that small crease as she laughs and your heart

vibrates with something like a bell

the nape of her neck nude against sunlight

how her shoulders form their musculature while remaining

soft

if she could put such things into words rather than

cries and whispers she might say

a woman was both male and female

holding the world up and bringing forth

life while fighting those who would call her

inferior and simply a loaned rib

oh quickly, quick let us mingle with your

preferred bone and become one

in the forming of calcium and other

periodic tables you see she and I

are of the earth and our very carbon

is born from within and without

beyond labels and understanding

there is just love

there is just love

 

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MAKE ME

war paint

When I’m not telling people

I am the least competitive person you’ll meet

I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema

I am nevertheless, competing with myself

to survive

the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole

appears to be my greatest talent

should they look me up in the dictionary

I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero

it began before words were formed, a slow

incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies

of my relatives

a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty

denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach

was more than a night terror

swimming for medals was competitive after all but

didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded

like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget

noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city

swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found

among cast-off plasters.

Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened

by sandwich of pain in my gut or how

no-one for me sitting among keening spectators

when I came up for air.

Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it

perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house

with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.

When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl

I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy

kid shoes against linoleum hallways

what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated

we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the

shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?

We learn the company of other Reparates

is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot

make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling

soon I gave up trying for A’s

locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends

instead of this disinterested girl

briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater

but coming up for air was much harder.

I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined

surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds

battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world

I rarely visit

it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with

the shifting skin of me

something that happens when you begin to leach

that essence of youth and vigor

realizing, if you can make it out of bed today

you’re doing better than the day before.

I hear in my head, the scold of my mother

who believed I gave myself this illness

and much as they’ve told me that’s madness

I am often found returning to those words

as if they have some clammy power over me

which of course, they do.

I know I was well and then I was not

just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity

or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage

it’s a day when colors and sounds change

in this case, terror walked into my throat

sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.

Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those

paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores

put them in water and watch them bloom

only long enough before turning to ink and

wet tree pulp

it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than

those you expect

angry with yourself for not learning sooner

expectation leads to disappointment.

This could be why I didn’t

enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)

better to stay low and wait it out until

you can have your turn

only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left

then it’s almost too late and you have to change

everything.

Nowadays I compete with myself

can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?

Will it matter if I do?

What happens afterward?

Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird

I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart

Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’

perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but

something lovely, I can only hope

though my body likes to punch me in the gut

as I fall asleep and try to dream

thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice

this was something you did wrong

thump, thump, thump, my own voice

no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around

even getting half way there would be some kind

of accomplishment

which is why I always said it’s not about winning

but making the effort

to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.

Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between

throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying

maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see

I’m not from here, I don’t belong

though where I came from I hardly know anymore

so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw

with every passing year I realize

I can’t win, I but I will fight

MAKE ME I whisper to myself

bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.

 

SweptAway

10585_Shadow-iPhone-Photos-26_w1120Here in the quiet room

you can fool yourself for a moment

joy has returned

her skin like oranges left in sun

narrow feet catching dust, turning in their little arc

you want to tell her you notice everything

as if it were your job to record the very sum

using nothing but words and build from alphabet

exact reasons you still

catch your breath

yet for all the music beneath her skin

a familiar yet unfamiliar person within

she has been long gone just as she remains

a shadow against a wall elongated

like places you once lived in

turn strange

taking one more look around

before you leave

key on the mantle

watching tulips breathe

their redolent mystery

as the color of her eyes

was never a word to capture

something free then

flying

out of the window she left ajar

that day she stopped being herself

and you could return in a 100 years

just for the smell clinging to her neck

how she feels beneath her clothes

places you know like a hidden map

joy solved in one tightly held hand

like a sailor lost at sea

when she is far and away

diving for pearls in hope

one will be as black and magical

as her iris caught by car light

watching you, seeing nothing

even the whispers of who she once was

swept away

the room now bare and empty

readying for new people

running your fingers along the memory

heart in throat

seeing her turn

that beautiful smile

before she climbs

the narrow stairs

The Lesson

Many friends of mine are highly intelligent.

they talk of having to ‘hide’ their intelligence as children, to avoid scaring others

I did not fit in either, but for much different reasons

a contradiction, most who spoke to me believed me to be very bright

but the lore of the highly verbal is just that. An ability to talk circles around people

sometimes the brain is empty behind the Rocky Horror Picture Show mouth.

Unlike my very smart friends, who excelled and won prizes

and knew uncannily how to do things before being taught, even welding, and that was

hard

unlike my first boyfriend who made all A’s whilst watching The Incredible Hulk

unlike my second boyfriend who made all A’s whilst masturbating to Farrah Fawcett

the only way I was ever on top was if I climbed, brick by brick.

I learned early on, not to compete

why would you compete if you NEVER win? If you’re always the slow poke, the last picked on a team, the one who has to ask again and again, the friend who can’t

get the gist of it and stays home reading comics.

Usually the most competitive are those who are naturally good at something and thus, recognize the taste of success

I learned slowly and badly, I couldn’t; knit, use chopsticks, play Atari well, do wheelies, skateboard or boogieboard, or vault over the box without

often falling

I had more ‘not good at that’ checked boxes than ‘excels’ and that never changed.

Some say, if you fail, keep trying, but eventually, if you fail enough sometimes you turn into

something else

a kid who is angry for other reasons too and has found a home in building that anger into a straw man

a kid who is fed up of coming last, of repeated failures and shame in sometimes still wetting the bed

being told you are an idiot over and over again tends to sink in

so I became a rebel.

If someone said; You failed that. I would laugh. Literally take joy in it.

FUCK YOU I would shout and run to the park and drink from whatever bottle was handy or climb whatever tree was nearest

I learned, you could get more positive attention from dancing and putting your hands down boys pants than

making an effort to fail.

Part of me knew it was wrong, I didn’t like boys, so why was I spending any time with them?

They didn’t like me over much either, I was; too short, too flat chested, not enough flippin enthusiasm

damn right.

Then I belonged nowhere

except under the hot lights of the dance floor, shaking out my grief or in a tree house pretending I was anyone but me

I ran so many times away from pain / I began to know the tune and hum it

in a weak moment I would return and feel-up a boy

for 3 minutes of false love

and in that wet, sticky repulsion

hate myself ever more.

sometimes even the child falling off the deep-end can see it coming

but nobody else could; they thought I was just badly behaved / didn’t ask why / didn’t try to intervene

I crashed and burned on the rocks multiple times, like a bad sky diving bird searching for her nest

wanting in one moment to excel, the next to set fire to

everything that rubbed my nose in it.

I absorbed failure like a nicotine patch

I inhaled it like cheap speed on a dirty toilet seat

when I lifted my legs to the ceiling and turned my head away

from the thrashing

the fuck you’s sounded really hollow

drugs weren’t enough to sake

my premature emptiness.

Of course, people are over-fond of

blaming the victim and saying; ‘you have choices’

which is partially true and partially bullshit, as we all know

deep down

it takes a village

or maybe just one person

to lift you to the light and when you’re 14

and saturated in pain without knife sharp enough

to exorcise darkness

it’s hard to grab on and ask someone to intervene.

When you came into my life

my first love, the one I lost everything to

including my shadows and a little cocktail sliver of self-hate

I didn’t know then, what an impact you would make

meteorite girl

I lost my virginity in your hands and

forgot the ammonia of boys and how they’d beg

to go all the way and almost want to pay you if they had

more than a penny and dirty underwear on offer

leaving you feeling worthless and slutty and defiled and violated even if

you kissed while crossing your own legs the entire time.

In your arms I realized my own skin, the honey softness

of your touch, a new language.

You were, the girlfriend of my best friend

you loved him, you loved me (on weekends when he was away)

I was your little secret and you stripped me one by one

of all my petty rebellions

until I stood before you naked and shivering

telling me; Get your shit together, because nobody

is going to do it for you and you don’t want to be

working in High Street Stores at 40 nor do you

want to squander all your talent on

cheap cider and horny empty-eyed souls.

I laughed then, I remember it, day losing light

your face looked older, wiser, molded by shadow

I wanted to press myself to your breasts and find

that special sound you made when I delved deeper.

But you took my chin and forced me to meet your eyes

a deep blue like the bottom of my grandmother’s swimming

pool where I learned to drown

It isn’t fair, you said, it isn’t right, and it isn’t your fault

but it is your responsibility

defy them. Even if you can’t beat them, even if you can’t

ever be as good as them, defy their expectations of you

make something of yourself anyway, and for those who

things come easy, realize you are twice as strong

for matching their ease with your effort.

I admired you more than anyone I’d ever met

not just for the shape of your curls and the way you stood

short and yet louder than anyone in the room

I admired your tenacity and how you had a really dumb side

that you could laugh at and we’d sit in your friends bar

underage (me) barely old enough (you) and I could

never get enough of watching your lips move and wishing

they could be pressed against mine til eternity.

When you left me for the boyfriend you always knew you’d keep

because I was a phase in your life and you were my everything

I didn’t hate you for it. I felt the terrible absence of your

hand in mine and how life without you was colorless and

drab like someone had sucked out all the joy and left only

skeletons of memory.

But I was young, I picked myself up and tried again

the first time in years, putting aside my acting out and anger

the rebellions, resentment at having so many

impediments and not being one of the golden ones for whom

everything came naturally.

I worked so hard I ended up succeeding, but that success

never made me happy the way you hoped it would.

I still felt a fraud

I still knew, if I didn’t work twice as hard as everyone else I would never

be their equal

I knew deep down my short-comings were

who I really was and that being ordinary is never something we aspire to.

It did feel good to fight back

against things people liked to say in cruel moments

about how I would never amount to anything, how I wasn’t half

the intelligent person they’d thought I’d grow up to be

I proved them wrong.

I did not gain confidence in myself because I knew the truth

sometimes you can tap dance so fast, people start to believe

the tune you are humming, but it’s just a magic trick

and you’re as ordinary and bog-standard as

chips in newspaper and clothes on a line.

Did I want to be remarkable? Special? Unique? Gifted?

Hell yeah.

Accepting that you’re ordinary, especially when you were never told

you mattered

is absolutely ego crushing

but I remembered how you laughed at yourself

and didn’t let it stop you

how you might have felt the fear and done it anyway

I took an incomplete leaf out of your book

one that I keep til this day, pressed against my bosom

remembering that people come into your life for a reason

sometimes that’s why they have to leave

for the lesson is rarely learned

without loss.

We cried a long time ago. We don’t cry anymore.

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A warbling, holding, green glass pain

Like joined hands make paper cut

Invisible like girl in crowd, falls

Deep as ink without light

Stinging with clamoring cymbal

Tears almost bare themselves as first night lovers, tremorous

Retreat beyond the naked streets

It is not brutal gnashing strength

But soft lipped resignation

And a little elipsing hope

For bare faced ceasement

Lain like prayers and rushes and thrown flowers wetting paving stones

No ceremony. Only, black cars devoid of dust

A trail without salt. They bent lower to seek. Not yet.

It’s hard to say it. The wind chokes words. Before.

We walk on. Omphalos in fatigued lament

Toward reprieve, illuminate in muted tempest.

Spindle

7d0ed5cd3d2e3d68eddfc2ef7d189b33Sometimes

love is a sadness

a mark against sun

warm rain

stored tears

sometimes on the best of days

you cannot find joy

love can hurt like a sting

reminder

never forgotten

It us better to have felt

all my pain and ecstasy

than feel nothing

and sometimes I see your eyes

graze over me

they are not present

you feel so little like a spindle

growing light of wool

It is as if you need

less oxygen

to function

and in those times, I want to say

oh love me as if we were dying

love me with all of you, not just some

fall as deep as I

but you never have

It isn’t your way

you are

sunlight hitting surface

to us beneath

the warmth barely gets through

and we grow thin

and restless

and hungry

Preparation for our dissolution (3)

1_max_494Down the drain

Watch. Watch carefully. See. See clearly

The comforting sound of water retreating in circles

I used to say that water turned to milk

I used to think when cream mixed with transparency

Pearls swirled and ebbed like fire flies in dark.

Kept warm beneath tiny radiators stuck on walls like beige moths

Glowing against a 40 watt bulb

Don’t open the window it’s stuck, it’s stuck on being underground

We breathe in soot, we turn ebony in our effort to

Rise.

She couldn’t lift the baby carriage, in those days it weighed

More than she did and the stairs, sticky with linoleum were

Narrow like her little arms attempting to heft us toward

Light.

We mired in dark. We stayed still as stalagmite in caves

Children’s books. Detective novels. Smite the key in the lock

Green plants fitfully reaching. Reaching. Reaching

Your arm is never long enough.

Recall the smell of boar hair brush. Of Clinique blue bottles

Is it magic? How does it glow? Mouthwatering

How they had a misted outside, I ran my finger down and traced outlines

Someone in NYC designed this shape. The shape of places far and lettered.

She had wool, it got wet washing her hair, the edges frayed

It smelt like grandma’s farm with damp goat fur at 5am

Nobody had anything then. We opened our hands to emptiness

Paper lotus. Needle. Oh Lord. Darn a way out.

Everything is so different now. I did not learn how

To cooperate

How to join. How to thrive. What if you are

Born only of coal?

The heavy weight of circular plates laid over paving stones

A funeral of sorts, bury the mother, bury any off-spring

Only blood. Only letters after names. Knights and paupers

The history of war. Victors write. The rest rot beneath daisies.

She grew insufficiently, facing away from sun

Her skin parchment, knees knocked

The pain in her. Oh the pain in her! No words.

She closes her eyes. Turquoise like the stones found in New Mexico

When she was told that, she said; Yes I will buy a ticket

Board the plane, swallow the dream, take the red pill or

The blue.

It was so savage. The quiet. The silence.

When she left there was nothing but the brush and the bottles

Gathering dust, follicles left spinning in air

Are some of those skin cells, still her?

Reconstruct

Is it any wonder she knows best, people of vacillation

And change? She knows the feeling exactly when told one thing

Tomorrow another truth hangs primly in

Your narrow closet.

Her ear lobes are detached, she read once in a woman’s magazine

Attached ear lobes are a sign of beauty

She has larger knee caps than her shins

The skin barely covers her climb

Trees of white, pearl, honey, comb, hair brush, blue

Bottles.

They didn’t fix the streets they remain

On fire

And they ate coal in preparation

For their dissolution

“Il y a dans le coeur humain une génération perpétuelle de passions, en sorte que la ruine de l’une est presque toujours l’établissement d’une autre.” Rochefoucauld.