October

Nikki and Jodie today’s always a bit rough. Love you guys. “yous girls”
For my sisters. 
Sometimes I wonder if, 

Besides your features

And your hands, 

I inherited other things

From you –

Like how sometimes I’m shyly afraid, 

Like how sometimes I escape myself

Like how I love spring and apple blossoms 

Like how maybe I’m afraid of rejection too. 
I wonder if at your funeral

I cried for myself instead

Not the beer tabs and pennies 

Found in your empty house,

Tears I didn’t mean to cry. 
I guess I think about how

I’d be different 

How I would’ve kept myself 

Instead of losing things. 

The entire act of sorrow-

I cry for myself again-

Because it hits like parts

Of my past without you

That are best forgotten 

But also traced over scars

That mean I made it. 
It’s the anniversary of you dying

Like leaves
If you were here would I be different 

Would I be braver

And a little stronger,

Little bit healthier 

Little more ok
I’m alright dad,

I found what I lost. 

But in October 

I wonder how it’d feel

To see your hands I see

When I look at my own

Maybe holding me for a sec. 
In some kind of different season

The act of sorrow 

I remember as your life 

Was maybe easier when you disappeared. 

I wonder if that’s how forgiveness works –

Not an end of grief

But a slipping away in early

Morning hours

And my own return to you

In my own early morning hours 

When I Remeber you.

And Your Face, in the Mirror?

This is a poem structure of Louise Gluck’s, I copied the italics and answered the questions my way, and in this new draft, I am contrasting my old perspective when I wrote this with my perspective now. It has changed drastically-since the first draft of this poem two years ago. You can read the first, old draft here, from when I was in that dark space. Now for the new one:

 

“Are you healed or do you only think you’re healed?”

I told myself it is

terrible and beautiful

to survive.

Believing it might make me so,

with whatever limitations I

guided myself by.

 

 

“But can you love anyone yet?”

I slipped across mirrors,

always mirrors.

I was only yet learning

my reflection, a face

I didn’t know.

 

 

“But will you touch anyone?”

 

I told myself

if I have nothing,

that’s what comes back.

I touched my body

in the mirror,

examined its rounds

and edges, the skin

an …other. Read More

Constant State of Flux

A hot summer evening, hot enough

to lay my tireless, unending head

on the pillow for its coolness;

thunder cracking down

my avenue

and the rain slanting in sideways, wetting

the paisley curtains.

Somewhere out in that dark the pine

that surrounds me soaks.

 

These nights I am not climbing up

the roots of forgotten things,

I am not clawing

for something solid to breathe my air into,

the old familiar ache of

wanting to feel through my own skin so hard

that I push through like a broken bone

 

because I am here, in a

constant state

of awakening, sometimes only to another dream

only to wake up again

and I stand in the mirror across the room,

and the lightning

floods the black kitchen

and I see a flash of my eyes in the reflection

–my image, so alive that it’s white

heat snags the clouds in a jolt.

There is a calm that never seems to tire,

embedded in my veins, the blood flowing

and I wait

for my mind to revert towards the habits

of self negligence and fear

 

but I am a cyclical rhythm

that sustains itself

and I know a small part in me believes

that I have won something with

my own two hands and tampered mind

when I had had no hands to grip with–

a blind privacy and a last call out to the only thing left

 

my will

 

I had left for dead in the gutter,  camouflaged in an alley

as elegant graffiti, crumbling brick, a broken phone booth–

the shards of glass scattered out across the pavement

and potholes–

    “did you see the moon? in the pieces of glass?”   my will asks me

“I wasn’t looking down,”     I reply

      “so then you looked up and saw the moon instead, love?”  my will is relentless

“No, I tired of dreaming. Hold it up to my face, the glass, and see if I shake,”

         My will  smiles, “straight ahead then, love, beaten and brighter…”

 

And my daughter is asleep tucked away

in the corner of the house;

the coffee is off,

and the flowers I just planted

out in the window-box

are getting beaten but maybe brighter;

it is enough to have these nights.

 

We are not born with a religion in our mind.

We are not born with a narrative or a script.

Tell me you have the courage

to scrawl across your own body

the tattoo of your story,

and would you let someone read it?

 

 

 

*image Noell Oszvald

Reflections

 

There are city-wide blackouts

in the recesses of my brain.

I pedal down the alleys

the dirty wash buckets

thrown out the open windows

above in the low-income housing projects.

These alleys are crowded and huddled

and would seem to be fictional labyrinth

were it not for the telephone wires

connecting overhead, a proof and relief.

A man at a crate, wearing denim overalls and

a red bandana, smiles his drunken grin at me

and scratches his bulbous purple nose, whisking

out a tissue from a bony fist.

He is a hint of someone I remember–someone Read More

A Poem about You Bloggers, You Might Want to Read This, Fellow Toads

I bet Shakespeare was bad in bed.

I bet Henry Miller began with a cigarette

and ended leaving to write facts,

the vase empty of flowers.

Allen Ginsberg probably annihilated in

the fucking, chanting run-ons, then passed out in another

realm of the subconscious.

Steinbeck, meh, I feel nothing about that.

Hemingway? Far from ordinary but so many lovers

it cheapened his passion.

 

I think about these things. I fall in love

with writers. I do. I have a little black book

between my mattresses filled with

photographs of words. Just words.

Fonts say a lot unless the word hurts me

in the chest or, some, shocking my entire being. Read More

A Wish

From With Real Toads–When Good Wishes Go Bad. Wednesday prompt.

 

Round, white stones

perfect and alone.

How odd, the shapes curved by the ocean.

I found you in a sea.

I had been drifting on a makeshift raft.

Counting constellations I couldn’t name.

I caressed your smooth unending circumference,

turning and turning you.

Stone.  Open,

I wished.

 

Tell me the answers and the points

of navigation in the charts. Direct

me skyward, seaward–I don’t care. Read More

Star Charts

Sobonfu was an African healer

-a keeper of the rituals of Dagara—

rituals of preparing and healing

mind, body, spirit

to receive.

 

You went to her with my letters.

 

You carried my pain in envelopes and journals.

 

And that alone cannot reveal enough how much I love you.

 

 

You combined our written grief

and went to her, placing and meditating

at the altars. Whispering through tears for

me to find my strength. For me to heal.

For you to heal. Heal from the madness

we had endured.

Heal from the sores this world

bit into us.

 

You were never as afraid of the world

I felt so swallowed up in. Read More

Baba Marta

For Brendan’s prompt at Real Toads.  It took me awhile to really chew on this one. Good one, Brendan! I chose an interesting combo of Plath and the Slavic goddess/demon Morana:

I inhabit the wax image of myself, a

Doll’s body. Sickness begins here; I am

A dartboard for witches.

–Sylvia Plath

 


BABA MARTA

 

They burned dolls of Morana, Baba Marta,

tired of

her winter

her death

her nightmares she breathed into the children

pressing their chests and stealing their breath,

crippling their faith, their little bodies–

her dark hair spreading

around their beds like night.

 

 

I burn her in such winters-

a landscape of old-whore petticoats,

my many faces. My many bodies.

She haunted me in mirrors with her

cracked face, cackling and blinking eyes–

waxen lashes sweeping.

 

Morana in my dreams, bringing a kind of death

to an old part of me, where sickness began

and pressed my chest.

A sleeping winter she taunts.

 

 

Baba Marta doesn’t know

I have passed the fear of broken faces,

waxen doll limbs and pulled out hair.

I saw her in the mirrors and creeks

I used to hide in.

Baba Marta doesn’t know

I let her do it now

so she doesn’t feel bad.

 

The dartboard for witches

has become a board I write poetry on,

my black ink bleeding her away

from this body I have become.

morenaslavic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

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This body’s breath
caught sharp and held

I hold it and like water
it escapes my fingers and spills
over my toes
when I am thirsty
asking too much from my body
when I am not enough

I give it tea and fruit and poisons
I exhale the fumes of the vices
herbal or smoky and fine
licking at these wet fingers
that let a pen scratch
let a word be plucked
from a curl of steam

this body’s breath
will learn it can’t hold what is borrowed

and maybe then stop
cupping and drinking
hold and take nothing
it’s enough just to breathe

let the vices unthread from the seams
of the spine into origami wings
taking flight in paper vees
and leave me in the water
enough

 

 

 

Real Toad’s Saturday prompt on “Remains”