To all but I

Two naked women - I am author of this imageThat silence you hold around you like a mink

is just a stuffed head with loose teeth

meant to rattle on long voyages

if you had the guts to take them.

Do not go beyond, to that infernal

evocation where haunted,

camouflaged people trade real glass

for plastic and suck deeply on

the opiate pipe.

Stay here, pealing as we are, beneath onslaught

Et je fus plein alors de cette vérité

possessing real in hyssop, amaryllis and anise

you say it’s getting late, I say it’s still

early enough

people fall away like pealing clementines

at Christmas, tossing orange skirts on

low fire, see them eaten by flame, till

blackened over, their pride is absorbed.

You climb winding steps away, concertinaed

in your certainly we are ruled by time

reducing from me in sleep

tucking the parts of you filled with shame

like moths will beat and beat and beat

herself against electric light.

I cannot show you the tinder of my heart

convince you of my worth or your

premature funeral for us

lying next to you, as you curl outstretched from me

further into your onyx shell, you

learn to inhale holding your breath

underwater.

Would I were, more courageous I’d

pry your fury into edible squares, pick

them off one by one, scabs and

scars you press dearly, leaving marks

of harm against molested hope.

In our fight, we share an appetite

to return through time to a past

emptied of doubt and pain, if I

were able I’d take you there, a

reminder of solaces discovered in each

other’s dusk and shape birthing music

in forests, surely you remember?

How can it have wiped you clear

of trust? Of knowledge, in trying to

shut yourself, squeeze into a box

tie the string, send it anonymously,

some far place without me, will you

find yourself again, when you arrive?

A stranger to touch you as I once did, with

boldness, there are only so many times

before rejection builds walls, disbursing

bitterness like jasmine growing wild

will perfume even the smell of death.

Disguising ourselves as other people

we step from the ledge, falling into dishonesty

like the fools we become, scoring wood

with our determination to undo crimes

past, often brings empty places at the table

we are removed as we are staying still.

In your mind a stranger takes you violently

against a wall, on our bed, through this unlatched window

into sweet void, you fly clasping your climax

to yourself with embarrassment, for

there is only strangeness in the fantasy

of others, surely as they will sup on your

verge, claiming purity with a red arrow

now lost, now loosened from our fold.

I have called your name until my throat

is raw and scolded with rejoinder, you

are not coming home, she echoes, this body

no longer mine to behold, we are now

photos in a frame, gathering dust

for future inspection, or forgotten entirely

to be crushed beneath footfall

how can such intensity fade? And

turning a page, become no more than

whispers against encroaching sea

lending her wrath and depths to

flood, even the gentlest memory.

Ah, you in my arms, my fingers beneath

your back holding you close, we arc and

move together, inside each other, tongues

salted with exploration, urging for

summit, we climb as one, reaching

mountain top, viewing our world

douce maistresse touche, pour soulage mon ma

just to tumble, slow and sure, clasping

damp skin, sticky hair, hands entwined

the lure and melting red possession

and with one slam of insolent door

you are emptied of such tight intimacy

as if it were nothing less than

a skirt to be discarded. Left behind

worn and used, torn by prior

dance, now abandoned in

savage hollow, to turn no more

in softened movement

hitching up, riding against

my skin, your arms crying out for purchase

eclipsing each other in thrust and

joining, meeting only to burn, lost, lost then

do not go, do not change

yet in this sounding evocation

that is exactly

who we were together

no more, a fable

may-hap children

shall recall in

skipping to

some primal

chant made

insensible by

the drawing of

years in chalk

and pattern lost

to all but I.

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

 

Flowers grown in dark

close up of red rose on black background
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For so long I learned how

to unlearn living

taking from myself the stuffing of hope

letting it sink into water

to become sea dragon.

For so long I learned how

to unravel my sense of self

until she splayed like un-knotted parts

lost to sense, blown away

by wind and rain.

It is hard for me you see,

to understand the codes others live by

grasp a secret language of self-worth

belief in the core, where others cultivate

confidence or ego in neat parcel.

I had instead, a drive-through approach

shake-n-bake

leave the oven open

for patients to escape the asylum.

I was born a weed

between dirty post-war concrete

little watered, little attended to

I grew and persevered alongside

dog piss and empty coke cans

my color brighter than the cultivated plants

in your garden for my contrast to

yellowed grass much bleached by

urine and exhaust.

But weeds and thin things of little substance

need more than a little luck

to grow up whole

at some point I stopped leaning toward the sun

chose moonlight as my mistress

where over the oval of my sadness

I mistrusted the rest of the world

for she seemed to me then, full of

unkindness and pinches from cruel people.

In safe-guarding ourselves so long

we can easily forget

the chime of purpose

the rain of love

we think we can subsist on existing alone

that’s what I did,

survived without living.

It was long ago now, but still it seems

only yesterday at times, I met you

with your bright electric eyes and your

shocking lack of restraint, how your

madness compelled you forward with

a lightning rod as your scepter

I felt your hand reach for me

and I was undone by the intensity

of us. A jewel within a cave

that for so long held no light.

When you stopped loving me,

it rained for forty days and stayed

dry at night, I walked empty roads with

bare feet and saw flowers like I had

once been, growing fitfully by the side of

street corners, not knowing yet, what they

reached for or whether fate

or courage, would give them

wings.

If you take someone broken who didn’t know

how to be whole and you give them

love, they will either break it accidentally

in their desperation and fear, or love will

consume them and leave them unable

to live without it.

I felt without you;

incomplete, erased, unwilling

to live on, there seemed no point

for I had not learned to love myself

and perhaps I never will,

it’s in my blood, my DNA to be

shockingly empty of self-worth

I exist without living and it has become

a nasty festering wound refusing

to scab over.

You went on with your life because

for you, living wasn’t dependent upon

anything but hope, you had enough of

that to last several people’s lifetimes

it was, I think, the bequeathing of your

sickness. A magician claiming to

turn things to gold, when all he

possessed was slight of hand.

I however, did not know

how to forge hope or find reason beyond

habit for waking each morning, every

day I did, the burn grew ever deeper, never

really resisting the urge to

consume me whole. I heard voices

they would sing lullabies of

jumping from tall buildings

as others would have dreams

of flying. Mine was bent toward

destruction, a solace in the imagining

of ending this charade.

Tarnished people with little reserves

are good bait for hungry souls

who feast on their need to be wanted

with the savagery of a nation.

Since you, I have lived with dying almost

every day, the punctuated purpose of more

than wiping the slate clean, devoid

of consciousness, tantalisingly distant

I am haunted

by memories of joy like a slow

sword delivering poison

too intense for most of the world

I remain alone in my grief

binding it to me like a silent

child.

You knew this when you met me, you let

the dogs of your heat devour what

little strength was left, for survival

isn’t easy when there’s no water in

the deepest well.

I blame myself of course, as all

good victims are taught,

occasionally I wish for anger

to cleanse the pain away

even if it left just charred parts

and blackened ruin, it might

be easier to bear than

regret and memories

as potent now as the very day

I let my defenses down and you

walked in, radiant and unafraid.

WE are shelters for the needy

but so often, the Narcissist chooses

the same abode and for those of us

who grew without succor, or enrichment

there is nothing easier than our undoing

at the hands of a cold heart.

If I had a daughter I would never

let her flourish trapped between concrete

I would watch her until she grew

strong and had within her, all it takes

to ward off those who seek only to

bleed and consume what is good

and untainted. Perhaps it is too late

or maybe one day, I will learn

a way to keep growing

not just existing, and it is possible

in time, the scars of you could be

replaced by someone else. If such a

person existed, I cannot fathom, for this

world is often frozen in its

eternal demand for the cruel and

the unkind to conquer

and dance on the

fallen necks of

flowers unable

to keep facing

toward sunlight.

Still.  We.  Exist.

Perhaps in time

we will do more

than simply survive.

Unfettered liberate

lesbian picThere’s a place in me

despite it all

where contentment lies

fragile

a guttural home

of solace and loathing both

for joy

not found where others

locate easement and meaning

you will not discover me

spearing a whale or

circumferencing your fattened

demand to chain my needs

for more than this routine of

sorrow.

Indeed it will be likely,

on Tuesday you find me

supping with strangers

libation undulating in my wine

blotting out focus

lighting humor’s wick

on Thursday just as likely

the ledge and its cold

grey slate, quivering beneath

my teetering weight

as I rinse myself beneath falling rain

and the impulse to let go.

This is the clatter of a discontent soul

made such from before recollection

no excuse, no explanation,

sometimes in mendacity

surviving without living, only

able to get that far, past and future

not present tense, as if vaporized

an empty window with no view

the back handed slap

a ruined chemise in your teeth

for whom of us really knows?

How discontent works into the marrow

the trickery of sorrow leaching

satisfaction as silent hemorrhage

I could point to bad habits

reeking of gluttony and a switch of

madness or else

modern world’s awareness

calcifying our retinas with

24/7 neon lights

nudegirlsnudegirlsnudegirls

I peal my sins off one by one

leaning into you with regrets bosom

and suffocate the very spit from your lip

until you are blue and unmoving adjective

like my fucking heart.

Maybe it is the torrent of rejections

piled like sawed off limbs

miniaturized in pill boxes

for Ash Wednesday’s cross

I may expect too much out of poor, dear life

rickety wooden hope almost burnt to a char

but what fancy isn’t ecstatic joy?

Indulge me, or write me off as

vagabond hedonist, but never

was a math class or week sitting at

office desk, an ounce the pleasured

meaning found between your oiled legs

and that as they say

is the naked truth.

you can condemn me a coarse, vacuous being

malcontent and ululate, and you’d probably be right

especially on Friday nights

when displeasures wick burns low and

all hallowed souls gather to

seal their profligate covenant

to dance flung mad beneath kilowatt moonshine

arms outstretched in varied postures

of abandon and short half-life glee

sticky with fevered imprint, they

shuck off adornments and expectations

grown over with moss

and when it comes to lapsing daylight

dive nude and fluid like seals

into the sea’s very throat and its briny acceptance

of traitors and rebels and girls with

too many bed fellows

where all but the sheer furtive birth of freedom

glimpsing off unencumbered skin

chewing the skies

with effervescent glow, is sate

as if mermaids were beseeching

tender men and women of houses

and diaries, book weights, lapsed vibrators and bottled ointments

leave your rules and your sadist alarm clocks

set for 6am

abandon the car you upgrade every three years

before it’s lost its new smell

to impress neighbors who give you no heed

retreat, retreat, retreat

past scraped plates of burnt lasagna

fox tails, lube and licked spoons

to this emptied isle of underwater

solace and lay your wretched superlative

disappointment in our laps

that we may render you

lost

and because of that

unfettered liberate,

eternally

blushingly

free

The box holding the sea

man and woman hugging each other
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Goodbye

was said in the early hours

all of us bleary eyed and trying

not to reveal how we really felt

for there is no way, no way at all

for true goodbyes.

His golden head and the missing cat

harbingers of things to come

none of us could fathom back then

for then he worked among flowers in Columbia Road

where for his labors, he fantasized a life of being

a garden designer of small, expensive, London flats

all walled in with Victorian crimp, longing to be rendered

Japanese, Drought-Resistant or Minimalist.

He slept with a girl called Candida, 25 years his senior

with a fat address book of horticultural leads

these things seemed then, necessary and normal

like the broken flowers fallen from their stem

at the end of a days market where people

trod over them when hours before

they emptied their purses to bloom.

He understood survival like a woman does

and for that reason and others, we were inseparable

if you’d asked me then, were it possible we’d be lost

to the other, I would have laughed

long and confidently — no bloody chance.

But time is a mortal coil of copper

winking in the sun among pomegranates and opal flowers

that render color to city lots, exhausted by their pilgrimage

and his white paint and his tall dreams, they were

like songs we play in the shower, or driving fast

moments of pleasure – – nothing more substantive.

Years later he has a house in Hastings

did I mention his parents were rich?

Built from drift wood and sea shells

I wondered what he thought, when he opened the white curtains

and stared at history stretching out like a quiver of arrows

unspent

or back at the girl who lay, tattooed and lean in his iron bed

which had once been mine and before me, my grandmothers.

What would she think? To know if she could

of strangers inhabiting her things like rude ghosts?

Would she say; You are the specters of my privacy

you sleep and fuck and dream on my mattress

who gave you the right? This reminds me of my

mother, who a few years ago declared; I won’t be buying anything

anymore, for who shall I give it to, and who will keep it when

I am gone? The thought haunted her far more than

the ghosts on my grandmothers bed, for she saw then

her own fragility and the absurdity of youth

decorating their lives with accoutrements as if they will

prevent a drowning or save them in a fire

when soon enough they feel heavy and unnecessary

to go through the ether with. Again, it was a

prescience, for she knew without saying, I would not

be in her life and she did not want her daughter

to inherit her bed or her clothes like a thief

who sells their organs on Sunday.

I understood her fear, I should have told her

but then I did not know she would be

leaving for good

I was fattened on the notion love stays and

what a pretty little fool I was.

When it comes my time, I will

create a life raft and put all my possessions

together in a purple kerchief, climb into the middle

and set off across sea to the isle of

forgotten or unwanted toys and there

my otter and my badger and my Kermit the Frog

and even dear old, much mussed penguin, they will live on that isle

with me until we retreat into the mist

to be truly absorbed

for no-one will be claiming my left overs

it will be as if I am

already absent.

Just like he is gone now, perhaps to Scandinavia, he was

learning the language like braille, touching the words

hoping they would sink in, and she would scold him

for coming home late smelling of cigarettes and remind him

in Scandinavia they do not smoke, so you need to quit now

why not get some ink instead and cover your body with

Viking symbols? He was

Scandinavian but only in his blood, the rest of it was

a good little English boy who didn’t know about

blow jobs or girls who wanted to fuck all night

still wearing their satin bra and smoking all

the while

until he began University and with the cliche

of all young men, he learned fast and began to

roll his own on the bronzed thigh of a girl who

dealt hashish and spoke with a pretend cockney

accent, we all know, those types they

usually borrow money from us when they

have more than most.

Sometimes I look for him, among the

river beds and the high lands where rabbits without

Myxomatosis ran plentiful and unafraid, unlike

Texas where there are snakes in grass especially after

rain and it rains

more than I cry these days for I am a form

of paper that does not require sustaining.

If he could see me now he would say; You

aged well, I am glad you never cut your hair, did you

see I went bald just like my dad? And look, is that

a new poem? Can I read it? Just as

we used to stay up late, typing on clapped out machines

without grace and laughing at

jokes made over smoke rings

in our underwear with the window open

and the midnight breeze

lulling.

I liked how he reminded me of

a gentle girl, for I knew no gentle girls

save my imagination. In my world girls

were cruel and they played favorites

like black jack and demanded their 80 percent

of the takings before giving a red cent.

I didn’t know then, girls would soften

become merciful or desperate, who can say?

But adopt some of his gentle ways, though

not one of them would be as romantic, I cannot

lie. What a shame a man isn’t enough

when in every way he is the very thing

except his masculinity which he cannot help

though it stinks like a wet dog

seeking shelter to shake it off.

I am glad she appreciated these things

and sad that I was unable

for our natures are shaped like spinning clay

no more under our control than the potters

wheel, once it has begun its harrowing ascent

I am after all, no crafts-worker, I can barely

sew buttons on my torn places.

But often I miss him with the piquance

of something that was real and gleaming

when youth was our high grass and snakes

did not exist much. I miss his gentle bestowing

and nobility, the way we would work off the other

like crafted pieces of the same wood, you could say

he was my best friend, until time made

strangers of us. After all, it wasn’t really

time as much as the ocean engulfing bridge-less

space and far flung conversations held over wire

did not transpose that immediacy or the smell

of spilled wine on paper, or his warm hand enfolding

mine in encouragement, for he always believed

when I was unable, a brother I hadn’t been

bequeathed in birth, we shared the same

eyes and tendency to cry when laughing hard

I even punched him once to see if

I would hurt and the bruise was a

flower forming in our shared heart.

He kept a cat of mine and had three of his own

but his Scandinavian girlfriend was allergic

to cat fur and second hand beds belonging to

my grandmother and before long both were

consigned to others I never met, and they

purchased IKEA or something modern to

fit their new life, where I had no place

but perhaps one day when his kids are older

one will be rooting through a box of shells

his father kept in a high shelf, looking maybe

for weed or diaries, he finds instead, photo of

us, we are so young, grinning all

fat cheeks and uncreased eyes, thinking of

a future that never came, how strange to imagine

then, when walking down the street to Cuba Libra

hand in hand, if they had said, you will

one day not know each other. How time bewitches

us with the certainty such things cannot, will not

happen, ever, oh foolish, foolish! He asks his

father; Whose the girl? Just for a moment

in another language, in another part of the

world, the grown-up him, stops, a lump in his throat

the size of my fist, and smiles, before

dismissing the memory and putting me

back among the shells and the dried smell

of sea water.

Goodbye

was said in the early hours

all of us bleary eyed and trying

not to reveal how we really felt

for there is no way, no way at all

for true goodbyes.

Slothing prejudice in times of pandemic

e34173503d0fbafd7b42b9958616f6da

What do you say to a housebound suspended agoraphobe?

You hear Greek words in their diagnosis, the turquoise

hesitation of grasping fingers reaching punctured doorway

how even ordering take-out is

courage to face what cannot be faced opaque

the urgency of illness spreading her

mollified mystery beyond

we read Apocalypse books on the Berserker train

sleeping faces pressed against convex glass

the smear of skin oil, traces against trace, glutted

fingerprints even as we know not where we go

tampered before birth with the adultery of a universe.

what do we say to an extrovert cut off at the wing?

Sinning in the best possible way beneath vaporized bar table

licking salt off girls thighs and shooting glasses and powder

with a wink, shouting; How can you contain this shit?

Close them up and give them a key to be used in

a month? A year? Never?  After cataracts?

They burn with attention and fade without

fuel, here, there, is silence and they don’t know

how to be left alone.

What do you say to lovers who live apart?

She stays by her window watching smoldering emptiness

barren streets where once you would walk

up to her and tap on her cleaving shoulder

things were light and free, taken for granted

becoming closed and jarred, boxed in tinted cupboards

within houses shut down like sad faces, eating stale

cake, we try to lift our stinging, souring spirits

sometimes it feels better to binge watch

End Of The World movies and

eat all the bad things in the house, one by one

vacillating between giving a damn and not at all.

The feral cat outside hides her kittens, as if she knows

volatile is the word du jour

the birds sing less as if they can sense

death withers wild against the Oleander

feeling, our collective shutting down, end of

card game, square-jawed gambler has lost his

horse and boots.

Wasps build mud nests, otters chew through

phone lines, apple blossom stands in for

confetti at a wedding of creatures,

clinking wooden cups, the world breathes a collective sigh

animals take over, humans are

yesterday’s big thing, now forgotten

streets sprout trees, lemons fat and sour sweet

concrete, tarmac breaking open

hungry for repair, the long toiled earth

builds trellis’s and green space

from grey whispering ghosts of past

whilst we sleep and dream of

dancing in indigo pointed shoes on patent floors

to dead musicians in violet dresses

held wantonly by the nape of our neck

creatures quietly retake the planet

our savagery emptying like

the very mantle of earth has

shrugged it off, let it splinter, break

wide apart, asking for sexual healing

asking for change, burning the waxen lotus

stigma of our mistakes, time is up. Oh Goddess

have we come upon the end?

What do you say to a child?

Who has yet to know light or dark and asks;

why do we stay indoors, what is the purpose?

We can kneel down and remember, when we

cared, if sparrows fell from their nests and

scooping them up, would run to school nurse

who smelt of magnolias and iodine, our chant

“please make them well, don’t let them die!”

Remember the good magic? Bring it back,

when kids are released they will

not wish to run rough over green fields

tear down trees to make way for

metal and slag, in ten years standing there

smoking inhaling cancer beneath the whistled song

theirs will be a new time

if we learn, we can repair

what do you say to yourself?

When it’s over and it’s just begun?

When we make with every step

a choice

a consequence

a claim on this

delicate land.

For Earth Day 2020.

Quintessence: A Literary Magazine Edited by Tremaine Loadholt

Dear WordPressers.

If you have not yet heard, the immensely talented Tremaine Loadholt of much beloved WordPress a Cornered Gurl https://acorneredgurl.com/ and extremely successful Medium site https://medium.com/@trEisthename has Edited and Created an incredible collection of works by up-and-coming authors and poets called Quintessence: A Literary Magazine.

This beautiful collection is based upon the work Tre has tirelessly done i recent months through her championing and encouraging of younger authors. This success has garnered her much praise and appreciation in the writing world and she is truly making strides with her selfless support of new authors.

Quintessence is a literary magazine to be published yearly in the Spring. The writers you see featured in this literary magazine are contributors to A Cornered Gurl and have been faithful in their support, encouragement of others, and submitting strong and poignant work to be read freely on the platform. This is the first issue.

Quintessence can be purchased via Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Quintessence-Literary-Magazine-Featured-Writers/dp/1716132363/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2TOW5XSHEO2ZD&dchild=1&keywords=tremaine+loadholt&qid=1587574468&sprefix=tremaine+loadho%2Caps%2C190&sr=8-2 and I highly encourage you to consider purchasing a copy, because this is the ultimate publication of support for indie and upcoming authors, produced and edited by one of our own.

Congratulations to Tre for her tremendous accomplishment and all this whilst working a full time job and much more! She’s an amazing human-being and I’m so proud of her and proud to call her a friend.

Come on Elaine

glasses of wine in a table
Photo by Inga Seliverstova on Pexels.com

Come on Elaine … this is how it would go

you’d get the email about your son, either dead, or gone, or famous

extremes of an only child, spoiled by two successful parents

likely famous, as he was in childhood, yeah … fat and famous

so now, he’s still not tall and he’s still not thin but he might be

unwrinkled and have lots of kids or … Venereal Disease

he might hate me, i suspect he would

why? Why do i think he’d hate me?

When he was the one who threatened me with a sword

when he was the one who broke the Lalique vase

i suppose because breaking hearts is worse than betrothed glass

though someone, with his desire for the world

i doubt anyone had the power to break his, because words

written by 18-year-old boys on the inside of cassettes of

music for my girl, rarely mean what they say and speak

with their hermaphroditic pricks.

i was older than him in lots of ways

i would have told you Elaine, it wasn’t my intention and yes

you remember us arguing but it wasn’t all me

when he was high, he was really high and

when he was low, he was really low

a sundial beneath the earth

i stayed witnessing, smoking chain after chain

his taking of porn, watching nude and slobbering

as i clamored in my shared insanity, letting him

have his hunger sated in my emptiness.

Well … depravity is depravity and girls who hate themselves

they’re really good at running with that and boys who

like to torture cats

did you know what he did behind that red door Elaine?

did you know what he was really like or just your little boy?

i remember his father once visiting and how

estranged they seemed and he hollered at you like he’d

never stopped not for one minute

and you screamed and screamed and screamed

i remember it because i witnessed it, see i’m not the bad penny

you assumed,  but he might think i am, that’s how our memory works

put her in this box, label it wrong; She’s the reason i got a Second at University

she’s why i didn’t fuck enough,  she’s why i fell out with my really good friends

(who weren’t so really good, if they had those seducing intentions)

and she? Sure, she let his friends do her, like she sold her soul for lasagna

or a slice of wholesome bread with Ganja

God she was always hungry, or purging

and the drugs he gave her, sometimes with prescriptions, sometimes with sweaty palms

sometimes naked on his stomach where his scar, shone like a dalmatian on a fire truck

she half-liked his brown skin and his imperfections, the matted hair, green eyes, short squat pudgy thighs and tiny cock

they didn’t threaten her, they reminded her of a girl

she felt safe even when she felt scared, his hormone injections, wild untamed stare

he said she made him calm, especially when sucking him off to a good record

yeah I bet. Swallowing is harder for those who give head, to narcissistic boys with pretty

circumcision.

Though it’s been so long, she can’t be sure, of what cut what and who bled and who left the door, slightly ajar,

because that was the year she found out she was mad

and he was too, so they sort of worked

though he wasn’t her boyfriend, though he wasn’t her brother, he was a lot of things under the covers

places where they could escape themselves and that eventual horror of knowing

you haven’t got any hinges and the world’s gonna spit you out into the gutter.

Elaine, she could tell you that your son, was actually a surprisingly good lover after she got through showing him how

or she could lie and say; We just watched horror movies, sometimes he posed me

and pricked me, and played, games, with paint and swords

which was also true, because it was all true.

We gorged ourselves, only children without parents who were home

and when you were, you chain smoked too, behind your dust and your exhausted slump

we all did, drinking your wine, eating delivered organic food, such irony Elaine

you think i was just some dumb girl with thin hips and a small brain?

You used to look at me like; Who the fuck do you think you are? And I’d look right back because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I was fucking the world with my sadness and it really didn’t matter what you thought or what anyone thought, because i’d already decided to jump

and i was watching all the time i was standing there, in my short skirt and my bare legs and my impossible tight breasts and my impossible tight cunt, all of which you hated, because your husband had left you for one

but one isn’t me, and i wasn’t her and she wasn’t it, and you weren’t alone, you were free of him, and he was the reason your son hated you, not me.

I watched through the floor boards, through holes in the ceiling, to your life unpeeling

for your short stubby hands revealing, to the kisses you gave the picture by your reading glasses, to the wine you drank and stained your hands with, before you passed them over yourself in genuflection like a good Catholic and reached for the vibrator

to your son hating you,  as he may have loved you also, why we never quite knew, does anyone? Hate being so close to love, as sex is to horror and horror is to desire.

Elaine, you summoned like a Magi, some kind of anger in him, at a strong mother or women in general, he was a sexist asshole, who liked men who hated women and women who let men hate them and I was a great substitute for Robert Crumbs little busty girls who bent over and let anger take them right up the ass

but he thought anorexic actresses with dark nipples were beautiful and one time i visited his office in Greek Street Soho WI and he was talking to a Jewish actress who i also thought was hot

Rachel Weisz you still are …

and she walked away with her five-inch heels and his eyes up her skirt

i wanted to say what about me? But i was just ordinary despite being an eight to his one, and she was a handsome, famous, adored shiny girl with a full rolodex and you were a tit man

who because you were a man, (though you’d never be a real man and that made you crazy) thought you could, (fuck Rachel Weisz? Seriously?) and you never would, but it was funny imagining, especially when you already had more than you ever would

(with me, the girl of cinders and soot)

so i watched you watching her and later on when you pretended it was her you took

i pretended right back because i wouldn’t mind being her or being you

and if i were her I’d let you split me open four ways like star of anise and divide me back because it’s a soulless game and I’m your whore and i’m your mother and i’m your bloody crack.

I’m sure now you have a young wife and four chubby kids with green eyes

or you might have died, by plunging into a canal, or cutting your throat with a blunt razor

if you’d started to shave after you starred aged ten in Ms Marple as the fat cheeked boy with shorts on and a smart mouth (yeah that was about right)

but either way, i hope you will let me know Elaine, what happened to your son

because i didn’t burn his house down, he did, he struck a match and he lit us both

on fire, until we stopped being repulsive and we stood charred and broken

in Camden Town, not being able to afford to drink, at The Elephant

or fuck each other in your bed, or die standing up right then and there

because burned people are shadows, they persist

in

reminding us

of

them.

I think of him regularly, whilst I’m sure, he has long forgotten me, which isn’t fair and is ironic and really typical, because men operate on a different time and hour. They think of the girl who is bending over now and not the one who did when they first learned to use their magic wand

unless she was obedient at all times and acted the part, in which case they will brag at 45 of the one they did in St. James’s park, who hitched up her skirt and got on all fours, and she was a “right go-er that one,”

Yeah I gave it to her so many times, she couldn’t walk and yeah, yeah, yeah, builders salivating in a pub talk, I guess you had me enough you could, but you’re probably an attorney and that means you like being tied up and debased, and it’s bad taste to talk about women who left you

raw

because you’re in control, you’re the passive one with the fat wallet and the penchant for sex in the afternoon in a diaper, or with a plastic mask over your hair, that you cut when you became serious, so you could hide the scream and the mess of your desperation.

Sometimes I check online to see, if you posted the naked pictures you took when I wasn’t even legal, in your bathroom, where your mom had lots of soap in fancy bottles

whoops

because we both have ruin in our DNA, and Elaine, if you’d asked, I might have slept with you both, your eyes were so lonely and I liked how ruined they were

the extending, unending madness of your family of animals

it comforted me, slowly dawning, I was mad also, I really didn’t know it, until

my

little foot

fit

your

little shoe

that

is.

(First published in Ascendum Magazine 2016).

Mercy for the wild

brown tabby cat sitting on brown wooden stool
Photo by Anderson Martins on Pexels.com

Quarantined kids escape briefly, screeching loud into empty streets

their thin bodies desperate for release and water sprayed

high into quiet air

I grew my nails because I am not touched, I do not arouse desire

there is no purpose in their being short or useful

for love I had once, in the magnolia dimness of loveliness.

Racketed sound is a mockery, a reminder of how things used to be

when you believed in love and it slipped through your hands

like porcupine quills that have no sharp

distracting yourself with empty boxes and things unpacked

for you belong not here nor there, nor any place

always the need to pack up and relocate, find what

has never sought finding in great wild.

You may judge if you wish

I did a good thing, though you will say it was wrong

I saw nature today at its most timorous and yet bold

I let it go, I let it go.

Many months I planned the capture of her off spring

as she ate from my plates, watching side-ways with distrusting gaze

I am after all, someone prone to superstition and wonder

she arrived a month after the death of my cat

it seemed in her resemblance, it was his return

then she is pregnant and I believe I can have

a house full of life again.

But this heart cannot take one more attempt at loving

this body though young, remembers the torment of losing

those mercies in the night and belief things last eternal

when nothing but the certainty of natures hammer sounds

and nature is not a kindly thing

though perhaps in her supposed cruelty, she is pure

whilst we save cats and neuter so that they may

grow fat and listless without purpose, swatting flies for entertainment

our city nearly drained of ferals and life, and hope, it occurred to me

I didn’t want her caught and diminished by

our belief we know what is right for

creatures of the wild.

I would say, especially as a virus seeks to diminish our population

a mass of humanity grown out of control

this is natures doing, this is the deliberate

consequence of our unprecedented surge to exist

maybe she will forgive

if she does not, is that even wrong?

We place our beliefs as if they are more

than tin soldiers and waxen effigies

as proofs of some superior knowledge

all against the tilled marrow of this earth

long outlasting us, fecund dirt and soil

from which life springs eternal and unfettered

laughing at our arrogance with our

purple capes of chastity and piety

golden crosses forged from raped stone

rules to contradict and suppress the powerless.

She was caught in this cold cage and I saw

her yellow eyes find mine

they say if you stare too long into the eyes of

a wild creature they will perceive a threat

better to bow your head in prayer and submit

they say too much that is tired and old

she looked at me and with the beseechmentof her kind and mine

she asked to be wild

not neutered for ‘her own good’

because she will develop cancer and her kittens

will die time and again to the coral snake and all

other natural things.

She wanted her chance at freedom

she would take them away now, her kittens whom I watched from

my isolation and my hurt, brightening my day

a salve of selfish joy, what is it that saves

the sanctity of the unsaved?

Her shoulders were down, almost crushed, I knew

to release was the greater good

as the wild rose is always more beautiful

on the wild rose tree and not in a vase

in a sterile room to bloom and wilt and lose

richer, than the bland salt-less life I lead

tame without children, without those who

call me when they promise to love and obey.

Our human folly I saw as glaringly

as those kittens in a line, following their mother

through high grass away

my heart stung, same as when my own cat

breathed his last and we said it was a mercy

to euthanize him in his pain

but what of his freedom?

Did he go from that place of needles and

kitty grooming and dental hygiene for pets

to something as noble as her green field?

I saw roses die when I was very young

even as I dried them and tried to keep their wholeness

they crumbled because life is bidden by our false extension

but the visceral and the sad and the sorrowful and the tragic

and quite often

something more achingly beautiful than we

with all our art and books and music

could ever be.

I didn’t want to let her go, I wanted to control

insert myself into the story

trap her kittens to tame them

save them from a less noble fate

and yet who am I?

Am I a worthy example?

with my loss of love, my lack of family?

who was I to prescribe my way? To these

who had every right to live their way?

You see, I have long known I am not

their superior, they are not inferior to me

I am neither their master nor willing to decide

their fate when they have a greater sense of life

real life, than I, in my artifice, ever will

I do not eat flesh for this reason, it is to me

a cannibalism in the way we farm and produce

milk and animal products neatly spit out

without thought to their suffering, or the

terrible way they know what will happen.

We are unnatural in our artificial world

we are too aware of things, our intelligence

can be as much a curse.

Many days I wake and have such a pain inside

me, I know only comes from the unbearable

awareness and I wish I were as simple and as

loving as those felines in my garden or that

I had not listened to sensibility as a young girl

and like this cat, who so resembles mine, who is dead

believed like the earth, after rain, we should

grow wild and free

unbidden.

Yet we have in a way, and with our vast numbers

disease and famine, virus and pest try to

even the score

it is as natural as it comes to get a virus and die

but we are not able to accept that, we believe we

should conquer this God given earth, spreading ourselves out

until we are no different to bacteria or roaches.

I pity us, I pity what we know and do not know

in some ways we are the same as this mother

trying to save her kittens because of an impulse

in her case the purity of instinct

in ours we have choices and often they lead to greed

and an insatiable desire for more.

I choose

seeing her resigned, defeated self

I release the cage, it springs back, she rushes out

it feels so right to see her dart across the field, unencumbered

I know she will take them far away now

I know I will lose them

I also know I never possessed them

and that it is right this way

for pets are not ours to ‘own’ or be master of, they are the chained

learned mules and horses who have been broken

maybe they do not know it and are happy

but what of those who are still wild?

Who am I to take, to decide? To think I know best?

I have read all the books about feral cat population

show cruel it is for nature to flourish unchecked

how disease runs rampant and sickness abounds

and I think of us and our wish to have choices

even as the same thing happens and we perish

to the hands of disease and the will of something more powerful

than our tinker toys and our belief we know all.

As much as she punishes me for my error

walking away, leaving nothing but footprints

in dry sand on my emptied deck

I feel I have listened to

something deeper than talk radio or

my biology books, I have instead

heard the call of the wild and it told me

do not always think you can disturb

this felted land with your superior knowledge

you should only know, you do not know

much.

How am I an example with my perpetuate grief

my unfulfillment, unhappy childhood, empty rooms.

All the awareness we have can be a curse

better to be wild, not to expect love or loyalty

those are human constraints, doomed often to failure

better to be without rule, not to live for glory or purpose beyond

the simplicity of instinctmy instinct told me to open the cage

it has always sought to protect rather than capture

even if she dies out there, she dies intact

not a creature molded by us, into something hybrid and wrong.

I have nothing in my arms now, as I had

nothing in my arms then

and I don’t cut my nails because there is no-one to love

or hold me when I need to be held

because humans promise and break those promises like

egg shells cast on skillets

because you told me you loved me always and

soon you couldn’t even lift a finger or try

to write a line in love, for your bitterness soured your

entire soul and I had a heart filled

but with no way to empty it.

I no longer want to be let down and told

I don’t write because there’s nothing to say

and I don’t want a relationship based on writing

because all those who were separated in the past

wrote letters to each other many, many times

no matter their distance.

It is rather, our modern impatience that says

I want it all now, I want it all or none

then you shall have none, as I shall have none

and all those wasted years were a grave mistake

just as many things I have done are.

I am not making another mistake

I will not keep her behind bars

where I have been waiting for you to do right by me

where I have been expecting to be treated right

when most people are anything but … merciful

it is our human world and I wish I were

instead that mother or a deer unbound

it is sad that we die of the virus

it is more sad, that we live as we do

things happen as lessons to teach us

will we listen? Or will we repeat

and repeat and repeat?

I release her back

into the mercy of the wild

where she looks once

over her shoulder and then

quick as lightning

she is gone.

Written in memory of the cat who loved me loyally more than any person ever has and whom I loved very much and brought with me to this country so long ago.

Halo 2001-2019. RIP.

Sentiment

two women kissingPause

take note

before wishing adieu

consider those rushing years

how they go

girls in wide skirts with brown elbows

flaring in pluming circles, colors of earth and sky

feet tripping over movement, making hexagons of their desire

look back … oh look back

those long years that lay like the junk drawer in your house

untouched by thought or query

ransack shelves you have long forgotten

a hair band from her, 2006 I think, the texture of caught wisps changed so much.

Every room carries the souls of every person who inhabited them

a ring made of silver paper, from the inside of a cigarette box as we sat

in a dark bar on the edge of town, knocking back whiskey and birch

playing footsie beneath sticky tables, with shoes off, bare toes searching

photos of people lost, people found, people who no longer exist lost in circles

the force of life remains inexplicable.

Times past, fast and hot like racing cars revving their engines as soon as dusk

settles like a woman’s gloves on the sorrowful face of the world

for years you rushed around, paying no heed to silent pieces of life you accumulated

halogen lamps stand like cupie dolls with radiant faces

stuffing them in boxes, tying with ribbons, preserving for what day?

There’s lavender from my grandmothers farm, her old best silver spoon, a dog

tag from my father’s first, the smell of grass and good doggie sweat still adheres

an old stone mill and my cousins would drink from tadpole ridden water

and I am the one who grew up to outlast, everyone.

All the people in this photo are gone, still they remain on unsettled periphery

what would they tell me? Get rid of her, she chokes you like

late wine that has corked, she takes and gives nothing back but ingratitude

it’s never enough, it will never be enough, you are not seeing clearly

and the memories of velvet as soft as snow haunt like miniature heart

attacks caught in disused webs.

in jars there are stars and in skies there are words, for everything existing here

is upside down

I write about you until my fingers bruise, I remember the little things

you long cast aside as of no use, like me, like us, like this, once and lost

your memory is a cruel sieve with no regard for history or effort

only the smelt of immediacy and present day full exposure

I have long been your past, just as we have

become junk in drawers, lost to further inspection

when words run dry and even letters stay unopened

your cough sweets, when you ran a high fever and I made soup

the times I took, the hours, the moments,

caught in nets in your mind, to be drowned even deeper

crabbing pots without capture, no dinner tonight you sustain

yourself on bitterness and temerity.

When i am gone, tied in forgetfulnesses bow, you will not recollect

the cards I hand made, how I stitched your favorite sweater

three times till the moths had their eventual dinner

when you were lonely, the words we spoke in the dark

those comforts that are lost in the past,  never to be unearthed

I built a life time and you forgot the shopping list

and driving into the sun, lost your desire for remembering.

Here in this place, I keep the momentos of lost walks

the day you whispered to me, I was the one, how we

climbed and fell together, like gradual waterfall

here is the photo of us laughing

here is a snapshot of us ending

still there are always rubber bands and pins at the bottom of a drawer

to snap and prick you back, to caring about something other than yourself

where we lay beneath cherry blossom, because you said you always wanted

to eat sandwiches and drink wine beneath Spring trees

my hair growing below my waist, the pizza they gave us

when one was not enough, drinking coffee on tindered street

wishing we could still smoke, being well behaved, havoc resting

the copper light of that room, how it smelt of patchouli and wine

even as we left.

I still fit into those days

they fit me like old clothes made new with sentiment’s stitch

climbing from the silence of today into

a divining bell and sinking beneath perpetual hurt

till music swells and covers my consciousness with

buttered fingers

they slip into me as you dove

deep and never released

your breath, my swimmer, my underwater love.

I still see you there

telling me to trust, when I am walking on our ash

here the trees are taller than those we grew to

know and there are no cactus or flowers of the desert

to go with that favorite tune.

I climb California hills with Barney and he hands me

a piece of advice,  a white flag

don’t look back, do what it takes

life is an arrow, cast it wide, cast it careful.

Pink is a damn sunrise slung over beautiful shoulders

running rest of the way home, past the old mental hospital

where secrets are wrapped in files never read, like mosquito nets in Alaska

I go back to my Canadian house and the closed feel of doors

watch snow fall and think of tattoos

over 30 and how time is like unconsciousness

you feel it in another part of you

searching for a way to unite the two.

Slow jazz playing on a malnutritioned needle

here the fair comes promptly in June

they all rush outdoors, so grateful for sun

I tell them, where I came from it never relented.

And I wonder, are you still there? Waiting for me

on the one day of rain? As we kissed goodbye

beneath lampposts, driving separately off, blind in downpour

each aware of time ticking further apart

long arms flung like an acrobat in green ocean

flips ever more easily, than we on land

shall inherit perhaps these fitful musings

of things left behind

unsaid

undone

withdrawn.

The fence between us

you hammered in

you uncoiled and made

tall and hard to

climb.