Crocodile

Crocodiles sharpen their teeth
on a chainsaw while I sleep
and dream of pianos whispering,
mixing drinks, and
laughing about the economy
because it had nothing to do with them.

I was raped when I was 16 and he 21.
Not gorgeous, just truth.
I didn’t even know it was rape until a friend told me it was and I could press charges. I didn’t know
rape could happen in a relationship. I didn’t scream. He didn’t hit me. I wasn’t raped. Right? Poor Little
dress up doll Megan, so naive, but no one to tell her otherwise.

Wait no, now I kinda remember.
I was raped by the crocodile in the attic
under the ceiling fan that goes
Round
and Around
and Around
and you just grit your teeth and
dissociate off with Alice and
her Mad Mad Hatter world where
everything is nonsense.

I was raped on a circus wheel,
a pin wheel,
a tracker wheel,
with a brick in my stomach,
my black feathers,
in tufts being pulled out
of my bleeding back
for his extra kicks,
a needle in my eye.
I was raped in the bed of a truck,
someone’s backyard
with the street lamps still lit,
in his parents bathroom,
in front of his catholic alter,
on the cold dead floor that starts to bleed.

Not all rape stories are the same.
We lift our voices.
We share our stories.
We commit to being heard
even if the bleeding hasn’t stopped.

 

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

What am I alive for?

What am I alive for?
Is it to breathe the easy insolence of the wind,
to see it circle around a cherry sky
strike violets against the blue (birthing violence into a calm)
causing merciful ripples into a dead lake.

Is it to feel the fables rustle the leaves
dense green and raging into the void
of a parable breeding in a forest,
feel the singe of human hands write stories
and imprint the words onto the blossoming of sand.

Is it to embrace the rescuing sun
and find comfort in the day’s ugly scream for attention
to seep into the welcoming rays
and sing with the lemon wings of birds;
or perhaps to dull into the night and
sleep under the fluorescents of a celestial ambiguity,
to cry with the lulling moonlight
and to forget with the forgiving morrow.

The whispers in the quiet of my thought
tell me that the dearth of the living is to find content amongst the incomplete,
the omniscient, the ever-changing
the falling tides of the earthen weather:
to feel the soles of our feet sink into sand
the waves tickle our toes
to submerge into the subservient
and fret peacefully under the warm glare
of never knowing what there is to be known.

The cold shudders of winters apart
and the sweet reminiscence of springs akin-
we envisage a purpose so out of our reach
that we forget to breathe in,
and hold, and wait,
and feel the flow of human emotions build a lake,
build a home, and quiver into a promise
forsaken to keep us alive.

And I guess for that reason I am alive
just as things are meant to be,
no grand gesticulations borne through atonement
just the mere presence, the slow hum of a heart speaking,
“give, give, give…”
I am alive but for the sake of a thought,
for the sake of writing a poem.

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Wildfire

In your stained glass eyes and colourful tears,
I see through to the fire burning in your heart
Calmed not even by the cold tile of the bathroom floor.
As the party ends and the liquor ceases to flow,
The moon rises like a curtain on a theatre stage,
Crushing the sun and collapsing on you like a curse.
The sound of the clock ticking on the wall seems endless
As time passes, but you stay the same.
Despite the burden of the world on your shoulders,
I can still smell the smoke.

 

 

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

FELONIOUS

On a dare
I slunk by you
smoky eyeliner
tight jeans
pierced belly

Took a stool
Bartender
I’ll have
what
he has
on him

Watched you
in the mirror
crowded by bottles
You glanced
I wet my lips

Hey baby
you said
Hey baby
I said
my best
bedroom voice

Come
a little bit closer
Tonight I’m feeling
a
bit
felonious.

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

female socialisation

let her deal with it

but give her
some gauze

some booze
for wounds
to rub
with burning

and catch the colours
of her face
as her blood
betrays her
for a gratuity

and watch

as they find an in
beneath a nail
and widen the wound
with their lips.

they will have the hand
but first
the fingers from their tips
to the bended joints
and then the rest

the flesh down
to the bone
of the knuckle
and beyond.

delicate girls
curl the skin
into their own arms
taking inch by inch
the sheet covering
of the self as though
when pressed, when
ironed out the other
might become
a beauty
and fold

giving in
once disentangled
of its organs.

what a meal
softened skin makes
of its mentionables

its catalogue
of pump and puss
cartilage
glass-like bones
and fat.

obsequience
to social mores
makes tastes
of richer sorts

haem enhanced
by hurts
performs a miracle
of flavour, textured
lightly by the violence
that brought it forth.

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

my beloved: daughter of Jerusalem

mouth is better than wine.
thy name poured

after daughters, my soul loveth
women. my beloved is dove eyes.

i am rose and lily.
lily love among daughters,

apple tree among
wood, will not spoil

the vines.
my beloved is mine,

and i am
among the lilies.

daughters, come out
of the wilderness. mighty lilies,

shadows flee the watchmen
in my mother’s house

in the chamber of her
that conceived me

my sister, my spouse,
my sister, honey and milk are under

thy tongue. a garden
is my sister,

a well of living waters
come into my garden, o beloved

open me. i would kiss thee;
i should not be despised

head is filled with dew
with drops of night

who is this that cometh up from
the wilderness? women

are queens. praise her
she looks as the morning/

as the moon/as the sun
i went down to her garden.

thy belly is heap of lilies.
the roof of thy mouth

causes the lips of those
asleep to speak

come, let us go into fields
there will i give thee

my love.

 

 

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Back to Black

The last thing I remember about last
Night was dancing on a tarnished table
To Amy Winehouse’s, Back to Black.
Everything was uneven like shattered
Glass, a Picasso painting, a gaping eye staring
Presumably at my preposterous behavior
After drinking five, or was it six Margaritas?

A hand here, a foot there, a decapitated face,
A breast dangling on white canvas like a sort of
Hot air balloon balanced. But I recall a man
Standing in the corner, a dark shadow, a penumbra
Penetrating, a chiseled piece of marble. His voice,
A deep cave of endlessness causing my ovaries
And organs to giggle like two girlfriends sharing
Secrets. I couldn’t figure out if he were a Poet
Or a God, so decided on Poet since words have
Perpetually seduced me, undressed me, brought
Me to my knees with their powerful tongues and
Textures, and anyway, poetry is the only reason
I’m still breathing today.

I think he recited Donne or Byron, not that it mattered
A damn. I was already in love, already unfastening my
Buttons, already wrapping my silk stockings around
His thick neck and licking the syllables dripping from
His delectable jaw.

I don’t know how I ended up on the table, or how I encountered
This beautiful Poet. I don’t know why I was kissing Allegory
And Alliteration off another man’s mouth while my husband
lay curled next to me. I don’t know anything about anything.
But this is what poetry does to me; this is how metaphor alters me.

My apologies, Mr. Poet, Mr. Donne, Mr. Byron, it really has nothing to
Do with you, it’s what you do, it’s the verse, how it immerses me
With sound and sensuality at the same time, it’s the way the sugar
and salt sticks to my lips…

Even now as I write this. 

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Violets

after Courtney Love

Tiny, four leaf
vibrating and glistening.
Sprouted on
the hillside of her yard, listening
to the murmur of cutting blades.

The size of dimes,
drops of ink. Theirs is a secret
fragility when held in hand,
they would crinkle from the July heat.
Delicate not for the sake of being romantic
but for the purpose of being alive.

Little fires of wealth everywhere,
in April. Reminding one of bruises
from fingertips. Whose fingertips?
Maybe we’ll learn in time who planted
the flowers, their plan always in mind.
Or the master cultivator will remain unknown, free.

Gone like horses replaced with finer,
faster things. Thin stems that break but
withstand the wind. Who remembers
the shades of purple set against
a manicured yard? If not the young
girls who pluck the violets, only to have them
die in their hands?

 

 

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Prize of Poison

I want it.
No,need it,
the panacea;
Or, perhaps
the exhilaration
of the release
trailing after it –
unsure which;
Does it matter?
Drink to numb.
Calories purged.
Caffeine pulsing.
All drenched
in familiar relief.
The isolation
don’t want,
but it’s mine,
handcuffed to me,
by a rusted padlock
made of shame.
Addiction swims in
vast oceans of alone.
Sunrise sees today’s
plans, etched in stone.
Decisive.
Immutable.
Unchanging.
The answer to
this daily riddle:
How to soothe
sadness’s ache
ever-lingering,
soul-deep within?
All unobstructed
paths to the prize
are bathed in lies.
Always indelible,
a clear-cut route,
never to be
fucked with.
Try to intervene,
strangling tendrils
hellbent on success
will simply tighten.
Do you not realize?
This is unstoppable.
It knows all the rules.
It made all the rules.
It owns me, you see.
I’m striving, endlessly
to outrun it. Or stop it,
but no barricade is
impassable enough.
It’s swamping me,
pulling me under,
twisting my mind;
no lifejackets here.
So, I dive deep,
yet again.
In the watery dark,
enveloping me,
I quickly find it:
prize of poison.
It soothes me,
releasing me;
I can breathe.
Until tomorrow.

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Sun Rays in Strands

Cool in Japanese garden shade,
parchment spirits float on a sea of clay.
Empty are the raindrops that fall on storm faces,
conversing about the philosophical indoor games we would play.

You golden Greek goddess,
you Norse heroine of mythology.
Mixing the raiment with remedies,
tea sipping and singing of the spices of herbology.

Gaia wades in a pool of spring elixir.
One magnolia blossoms in response to your witty banter.
Minutes pass like seconds riding horses.
One steed gallops towards you, equine enchanter.

Help my speechless tongue,
for it is at a loss for words.
Attempting to think of clever sentences,
lost in your eyes, two Antarctic flightless birds.

What is a dream and what is reality?
Something to say, some jaw to close.
Watching you in musical wonderland.
You walk the quadruped teeth of canis
as the Anointed Nature Mother commands.

Fighter in her face, barrels of wine and laughter.
Some day will turn to me to meet her.

So, we speak in bilingual drafts.
Your speech of humor meets my fumbling gibberish.
Reassuring life to move forward,
brief series of moments with you, my last wish.

Page after page, I write the encounters.
Cannot stop this newfangled inspiration.
You are immortalized in self-indulgent ink,
coming to life in my mind again for each manifestation.

I will meet you at the corner of the dawn
and where the hawk devours the dusk.
I have been thawed out of prehistoric ice,
waiting for your warm smile next to the last Mastodon tusk.

Thank you for placing the Moon
back on her rightful throne in the skies.
Voice of noise-canceling priorities,
my mind’s machine meets yours as you begin to hypnotize.

Into trances deep and without escape,
my only path is your ancient land.
Without simplicity and complication, you stroll with grace,
catching Sun rays in your yellow-chocolate strands.
Watching you in perfect motion,
viewing you lose yourself in musical wonderland.
We are friendly acquaintances, yet do not know one another.
If I extend it to you, would you hold my hand?

 

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

The Math of a Princess

is there’s just one of you — more in the corps,
a dozen girls who covet the headpiece
secured by thirty bobby pins.  Abhor
your good fortune. Pretend to be friends. Peace
is mathematically sound when it’s ten
surrounding one, too terrified, thin.  Learn
survival means shopping, invitations —
one texting this evening, ice blue eyes burn
your soul:  “Art party, castle, wear faux pink
mink stole.  Tiara, I’ll borrow — you’ve got
so many of them.”  No doubt she keeps track. Think
you should say no. Stay in.  But it’s a thought
that doesn’t add up. You factor her wrath.
Too many girls hate you. It’s princess math.

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Listen to Your Mother

I am your mother
the birth-blood on your forehead
a fedora
the milk nipple
a trough gone dry
I am coyote cry that curls from your throat
spittle that chokes your forlorn moan
the wolf’s rattling howl
I am Pontius Pilate
the hammer
the nail
the washer of feet
I am Mary and Aunt Jemima
maple
syrup
the Christ cut on your side
a salt tear in your wound
I am the ivory and the ebony
keys   the fingers
of your masturbation
I am your wedding bed
I am a high heel
a mink stole
a rabid wolverine
I am a low-cut vamp
the cleavage between your toes
I am your embryonic home
a flood-ravaged slough
the slough
the flood
the valley floor
I am a crouched and rocking niño
the sliver in his bare feet
I am a hundred year old cello
the hollow of a bell
the hairs you pluck
a match head you strike with your nail
I am clavé
I am the dance
I am cobblestone
an asphalt drive
the scrape on your knee
I am the cave you spelunk
the knot in your groin
a splint
a strand of DNA
I am a cable-stayed bridge
rust   green
patina on your pewter lips
I am the wolf-whistle you tongue in your teeth
ceramic
porcelain
the vessel of your wont
I am a tuner seeking electric vibes
a rod
a diviner
a seeker of rain
I am a vibrator
a vein on the back of your wrist
the blue vein that stiffens
underbelly’s thin skin
I am frog legs
bullion
a knuckle of bone
I am basting sauce
butter, reduced onion and wine
the taste in your lover’s mouth
I am the accelerator
the wheel in your hands
the gears you rev
I am the cigarette you drag
the butt you flick away
I am the crack in your blistered lip
the salve
eucalyptus
your boyish fumbling under a sheet
I am the sheet
the wing pocket from which you fly
I am the Torah
I am your mother
I am the best kiss you ever had


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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

White Horses

He offered me a white horse and a happily ever after.

I have never been much for hollow happiness,

And ever afters are plans I couldn’t ever stick to.

 

I counter-offered two white horses, two streams of thought,

And the uncertainty of love in the here and now…

 

 

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Bibs

Don’t leave me on the road,
summer asphalt
My body turned to dry rot
I’m raw meat

Sizzling and squirting away
My guts on display
Black capes and wings
Surround me

Don’t tear me apart
Treat me kindly
And don’t forget
To break my itty bitty hollow white poles
And crush my skin
like the soft embers
Of a cigarette
Our time spent,
Insignificant
Like the dust
Blowing in the wind

Lay roses on me
And honor my memories
For the treasures that they were
They mean everything to me

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For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Rebecca

“Don’t stare at me like that!”

I had cried out in a fury, but Duak kept her gaze locked on me. Looking at her blood red lips. Burdened, I repeated gently, “Don’t stare at me like that. They’re going to figure it out…” My face was blushed; my heart was foaming up, flowing from my breasts onto Duak’s snow-white skin. Forgive me, my good Lord! I’m in love with her soft, smooth skin.
Her majestic body is as light as a leaf swaying in the wind. Her long hair is always flawlessly pulled up and has a permanent healthy sheen, ever the noose around my neck… Her sweet almond scent never drifts from my nose; I dare not breathe. If only I could die… If only we could die, and have our own place in the afterworld. A simple, bare room would do. If only she and I could stand intertwined in a tight, warm embrace for an eternity.I am frail; slave to this exquisite woman. She knows it too and challenges me, her every wish my command. I adore serving her. Guilty as charged. My guilt devastates me, but she is unlike me. She is quite strong; my sweetheart gracefully shoulders all of my anguish and never lets go of my hand.

“Duak, what are you trying to do? They’re almost here. Eat your food and get that foot of yours out my crotch!” As I came to my senses, the din of the cutlery in the restaurant filled my ears, her scent still vivid on my nostrils. I am scared and breathing from the mouth. The four of us are seated at a round table; myself, Moure, Duak, and her husband Luka.

This is a private restaurant and club where we ate occasionally. As usual, we are seated at the dining hall that has an Eastern Asian theme. We appreciate the décor here—“we” being Duak and myself. Additionally, we like the fact that Luka and Moure frequently step out for cigarettes. They smoke so often that it feels like Duak and I are out on our own, dining by ourselves. That is how all this had started in the first place… Now the two men are returning from their smoking break. Duak starts telling me something. I want to savor the last few instants before Moure returns, and focus my gaze on Duak. By now, her words have shed all sense, and I merely perceive the melody in her voice. It flows like a calm brook, as her beautiful head undulates over her fine neck with such passion and force, in a display of rock-like confidence.

Duak smiles slightly. That means there is nothing to worry about and I am relieved. She abruptly moves to the chair next to me; her hand wanders on my legs. She did it again! I feel numb from my forehead to my knees. I cannot find the strength to refuse her again. I feel empty in the gut and pained in the heart. The din of the restaurant leaves my ears again. I cannot keep my eyes and my body off her skin. She grabs my hand, and says “Rebecca, come!” Perhaps, she did not even utter the words. The rumble in my heart makes me dizzy. For a while now, I have been unable to differentiate what is real from what I imagine. Mesmerized, I drag on after her as if in a dream.

As the two gentlemen approached the table, Duak smiled at them and pointed to the restroom. Too embarrassed to look Moure in the face, I lowered my head, fumbled around in my bag, and swiftly walked off before they got to the table. Duak was aware that I would not get up if the men reached the table. It had happened before; on that particular day Moure had sat down next to me and had kissed me on the cheek. It felt like a metal hook had been jabbed on my face, ripping my skin. A rusty, hard steel chain connected to the hook was thrown down my throat. It did not stop but ripped through my gullet, and into my guts… It slit through my womb and ended up on the ground between my legs. The hook at the other end was still buried into my face in the exact spot Moure kissed… My involuntary reaction was to touch my cheek. My teeth ached at first. I just sat there, between the hooks, my insides bleeding. I had been impaled. Motionlessly, I sipped my wine, which smelled of stale grapes and looked more black than red. The alcohol stung my wounds even worse. I was being punished. I yielded. Despite the burning sensation, I kept drinking. Duak watched me in silence. I could not look at her, but I felt her gaze. My love, my dear heart had me figured out that day. She made sure I never had to live through that again.
I rose from my seat, took two steps to my right and was now walking away from the table. I was much calmer. We headed towards the staircase. This hall was crescent-shaped, held inside the wings of a gigantic bird. It was Duak and Luka who first brought us here last year. As I walked in, I felt the embrace of a massive winged creature. The large and astonishingly elegant statue of a bird loomed over the whole dining area. Through a staircase, it ushered the diners down into its nest. As you arrived at the end of the stairs, to the center of the hall, the softly drawn eyes of this matronly bird became noticeable. In its mouth was a bunch of grapes, the gentle promise of an enjoyable meal for the visitors. Engulfed under the wings of this mighty mother, the dining hall had an air of serenity and sincerity. Faces around the dining hall radiated with trust and with the joy of good food. This was a refuge that looked nothing like the rest of the city, a secret place isolated from all else. A home that brought an unusual sense of attachment and belonging…

“Rebecca, come!” Duak’s voice is leading the way. We climb the stairs. Each step takes us farther from the nest and closer into our own mystery-filled cosmos. Duak proceeds ahead of me. I follow her deliberate steps inside her long black silk dress. I eye her ankles; I watch her fly on her spike heels, light as a feather. I imagine that she has picked this dress which fully revealed her back only with the intention to turn me on. With envy, I wonder how such a fresh and pure beauty can exist at all. My jealousy grows. Suddenly, I realize that we have been through two steps only. Yet it feels like minutes. My eyes move from Duak’s back to her shoulders. An aura, a wave of light envelops my love. I get confused; my passion is driving me delirious! I want to climb all the stairs at once. I want time to accelerate so that I can leave the crowd behind! As I get more impatient, time seems to slow down. It must be the Lord’s way of punishing me. I pray in my mind and beg for patience and forgiveness. I want to forget everything except for the divine female walking ahead of me. Repeated over and over my prayers provide the strength I need. I lighten up.

And little by little, I prepare myself for Duak… As I take another glance back, I realize that we have almost reached the end of the stairs.

Moure, my son, my mother, the whole city, my life… everything is so far behind now. Duak turns to me and holds my hand gently, leads me to the end of the stairs. Her eyes full of love, this beautiful woman pulls me out of the dining hall into a corridor with velvet walls. Here both the sky and the earth are soft and red. The shaggy velvet carpeting also adorns the walls; the ceiling is quite high and decorated with icons: angels, saints, virgins. Golden borders extending at the junction of the wall and the floor serve as a reminder that one still stands on solid ground. I walk, letting my free hand brush the wall. The melody echoing in the corridor seems to fill me through my fingertips. We approach a coffee table propped against the wall right in the center of the corridor. It has long wooden legs decorated with gold leafing and a white marble top. Above it, hangs a large mirror, with ornate curves on a golden frame apparently made of the same wood. Duak pulls me by the hand, and we stand in front of the mirror for a few instants, admiring our reflections. The green satin dress I wear barely holds on my slim shoulders. I caress the cold marble of the coffee table and notice the chipped polish on my nails. My hair is done carelessly, and my makeup has long vanished. I think I look weary and ugly. I turn to Duak, a smile on my face. She is also contemplating her reflection in the mirror. Lord, what a beautiful woman. How fresh she seems, how peaceful and self-confident.She touches my cheek, inviting me to smile, and I am happy.

Our spike heels stab the soft carpeting as we walk towards the powder room. This place is right next to the ladies room and is meant to be used to freshen up makeup, to adjust a dress, to fix a busted seam, or to make love. The walls are made of cool grey marble, and inside, there is a burgundy velvet sofa, large silver framed mirrors, and crystal chandeliers. I find myself on the soft couch kissing Duak. Her lips are lusty and red, and her breasts firm. Lord forgive me! Her back is smooth. I want to touch her more, even more. As I feel her body weighing on me, as I touch her belly, her groin I feel my mind leaving me completely. I let go. The twinkle of the crystals is intensifying. Eyes closed, I make love. Duak now leads me, my hands, my lips… I do not need to think as I make love to her. I just do whatever it is she wants. She holds me in a gentle, sometimes rough passion and does not leave me until she is satisfied. I do whatever she wants; I do it with pleasure, with a smile, with insane joy, with passion.

After we fill up our lovemaking time Duak and I break apart, despite ourselves. We did not get enough. This is what always happens. Promptly fixing her hair and makeup, she puts on her alluring smile and is ready to return in no time. Then she waits for me. She is alarmed a bit, asks me to hurry. She is impatient. I like it when she gets this way. I am not sure though. Normally, I am not fond of rushing. I smile and speed up immediately. As we quickly pace through the same corridor, her reflection in the mirror winks at me. This is an indication that she is pleased, and it soothes me. 
As we arrive by the stairwell, she squeezes my hand slightly before releasing it. As our hands separate, I feel compelled to look towards Moure, and it is painful suddenly. I want to see, to ensure he does not understand… He is chatting away with Luka, does not notice me, does not know.

Does he really not understand? Did he not realize anything while I was feverishly lovesick for months on end? Does he not even notice my eyes? Poor Moure! We got married seven years ago. I thought I was in love. I was excited because I did not trick him into anything. I loved, I made love, and I gave him a child. The poor soul was a good father and a good spouse. He did his best to keep me happy, to take care of me. He did not expect anything from me in return, and he did not provide much actually… I am certain that he and my son will have a very beautiful garden in heaven. A few moments ago, I made love to Duak for the fifth time, again almost right in front of Moure’s eyes. My poor husband!
Is he really the victim? He must have some role in my errors. He must… for I cannot bear all this on my own. Duak nudges me from my back gently to lead me. I start descending the stairs, my eyes on Moure.

He is tall, thin and always well groomed. My husband is polite, smart and naïve. My father was big and tall, a mountain of a man; hence when I met Moure, he had seemed very different and inviting to the touch. My mother was a tiny woman, and next to her, my father appeared imposing. I always thought that he overpowered her. My mother looked like a frail little bird next to him. Her voice was tiny, and her words were fearful. The steps under my feet seem to sink. I lower my head so that I do not fall. I was protective of my mother and was always afraid of what my father did to her, or rather of what he could be doing to her. I could not help but getting mad at my dear father… could not help hating him. I wanted him to die so that we could be rid of him. He was quite the tough man in his youth. He was authoritative, and his word was the law around the house. But all this was not sufficient for him. “Smile!” he would say with a model smile displayed on his face. He had never raised a hand on , but the mere possibility scared me to death. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had ever disobeyed him… And now I suppose I will never find out because he died last year, five days before I met Duak.

I had spent all of my life wishing that my father died. But so much has changed after his death, and I realized that I had grossly misunderstood everything. My guilt escalated out of control and engulfed me. I suppose I am still engulfed in it. I lived in fear of encountering his ghost, until the day Duak and I met. She shook my hand so tightly that I thought my father’s soul had possessed her. The strength and might in her eyes reminded me of him. I was in mourning that day, but I warmed up to her in a moment, I wanted to take refuge in her and talk. For a few hours, I felt peace inside this bird’s nest. I ended my mourning.

My mother cried a lot after his death. For days on end we kept her sedated, yet every time she opened her eyes, she would cry again. She resumed her mourning right where she had left it, as though the hours she slept had never happened. We had to give up on the useless medicine, and she experienced her grief to the fullest extent. We had to take her to the emergency room a few times. Her blood pressure had gone up, and her heart acted up, but she remained alive and suffering. It would be months before my mother managed to pull herself together, back to normal. In other words back to her normal self. She returned to a state which did not provoke the feelings of anger towards my father, and my pity towards her. I saw my mother as an abusive, selfish, manipulative person who would not even condescend to dispense a drop of her love.

Since that day my eyes grew even darker, my brow thicker, my hands stronger, and my neck longer. My back is bent more than before. My heart is heavier, guiltier and angrier. This woman has given me an injury I can never be rid of… one I can never cure. Carved it smack in the middle of my forehead: “I was unfair towards my father!” and he died… During his illness, I showed no affection towards him; I thought this was his punishment for the years he spent abusing us. I was mean to him. I was not concerned. “Smile Daddy,” I said during his hardships. “Suffer while smiling,” I thought to myself. My vengeance occurred silently. My mother was content watching from afar. She made it obvious that she saw it and I was proud. I thought that my mother “loved” me. I was proud of my retribution. Lord! I’m in pain now, the things I have done to my poor father! As I got to know my mother’s reality, my memories became even sharper. I recognized that her stories were huge lies. I remembered that she was the one who actually “used” my father.” I realized very late that when he asked me to smile, my father had wanted me to be “happy.”

That night Duak had touched my cheek “let’s make a toast while we smile” she said. I understood that she meant “I want you to be happy.” Each moment I pass away from my lover, I am tired and hurt. Angry. While making love to Moure, while talking to him, I constantly have my father in mind, and the anger I feel towards my mother. I do not realize that my husband is embracing me, and do not hear him. My only peaceful moments are here, next to Duak; the moment she touches me, the world slips away. Another me emerges from within, someone with no issues and no troubles. Someone who enjoys loving, making love, touching, receiving and providing affection. I don’t know; sometimes I am not really sure if Duak is really showing affection towards me. She must be!

I finally arrive at the end of the deep staircase. I look up, and the hall dining hall revolves around me. The eyes of the great bird look at me in madness; I almost hear the wild call of the creature. I rub my face. As I reopen my eyes, I see Luka ogle. I have seen it before, but not to this extent! I turn around to see if he is staring at Duak, and I face her angry eyes. I lose my balance and stumble. Luka jumps up from his seat and holds me from my waist. Good God! Trying to remain polite, I escape near Moure. I dare not look at Duak’s face again, but in the periphery of my vision, I see that they embrace and kiss. In an extremely polite gesture of cheekiness, Luka helps my lover, his wife sit at the table.

I realize that Moure’s hand is in my own hand a few minutes later, my cheek is wet. Did he just kiss me? Lord, I’m a mess, I pray silently. I try to join in the conversation. I thought I managed to catch the discussion, but after every utterance I make, Moure explains that I am tired. Why? Am I saying the wrong things? Do I look tired? What is it, am I really tired? I take a few sips from my drink. I cannot figure out what this cold, tasteless and colorless drink is. Duak and I lock eyes; her eyes are angry, but her stare is still childish and attractive. Duak is an ambitious woman. This is the first time I read this on her face. Perhaps it is not. Do I really want to jog my memory to remember? I do not. Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to forget what I just have seen. My Lord! I need her so much. Please do not let me be wrong again. Please!

I cannot delete the ambition from Duak’s stares. Across from me now there’s only a woman who wants to get revenge from her husband. My eyes fill up. Duak is not even aware; she gives me blank stares. I’ve lost her.

I feel something on my lap, looking down slowly, I see Moure’s hand. Lord, does this man never leave me? Poor Moure, is he aware of any of this? Does he love me despite this?

I want to end the evening but cannot find the strength to do so. I can no longer bear to look Duak in the eye as I no longer wish to face her anger. Moure’s hand feels tight in my own. I cannot look him in the eye either; I am guilty, but cannot let go of his hand. Why am I here, between the two of them? “I must leave immediately!” I stand up. Something is stuck in my throat, Moure notices my moist red eyes, and gets up in alarm “Okay sweetheart, whatever will make you feel better” he says. His only concern is my comfort and peace, and to feel peaceful in return. This time around there is fear in Duak’s eyes. This is the first time she is not smiling. Then again, perhaps it is not. I am not really sure.

We leave them seated at the table and walk out. I hear Moure apologizing, taking the burden on my behalf. I want to flee this bird’s nest immediately and to go home. My husband’s hand is still in mine; I drag him quickly. At once I want to climb those stairs. The angrier I get, the more time seems to slow down. The Lord is punishing me, and there seems to be no end to it! There is still an opportunity to turn around and take one last look at Duak and Luka, but my heart is not in it. With all that time on my hands, I now have a chance to refresh my memories, to reminisce. I remember Duak’s fury during our lovemaking. I remember how she dominated me through her gaze and her words. Why is it that I remember this now? Why had I chosen to push these memories away? Did I really want to know the answer? No! This much will suffice for now. I need to get out of here. I must get to Moure’s garden and rest inquietude. I got to find some peace of mind. I arrive at the last step. Then, I change my mind and take a look. Duak has her back turned. Luka and I lock eyes, he smiles and waves. I miss my step, and I stumble again, this time Moure catches me. He takes my arm and escorts me all the way to the door. In front of the coat check, he gently tugs at my arm to indicate that I should wait. Ever the gentlemen, he fetches my coat. Through the glass door, I peer outside where it is snowing. The air is quite cold but pure. In the dark street, I see black shadows struggling amidst the snow. People knee deep in the snow, their heads lowered, walking with great difficulty, snowflakes piled up on their backs.

I walk out without waiting for Moure. I take a deep cleansing breath. I am not feeling the cold. I now turn to a new page, one that is already stained by the traces of my old scribbles. I turn to this page in full realization that it will all get even more confusing as I write. My husband arrives, and I take his arm. Poor Moure! My poor husband. He takes me home. I look at his face, and I kiss him on the cheek before we sleep. He feels loved. His eyes have that certain gleam. Poor Moure, I cannot leave him.

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“a plea”

Caught

Diffraction

Hiding Below

You commented on the bags under my eyes
I said “thank you, they’re designer”
And I meant it
Because I designed them myself
With sleepless nights
And a starving soul
(my body might be starving a little too)
And I did it because I just wanted
The outside to match the inside
And now, maybe someone will finally wonder
If I am okay
Or if I ever was okay
At all

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Dusk falls in the night with no end

Hours slip by ticking
Out cells of my eyes
One laborious, one
Yogurt, wet, heavy
Slides thick like thighs
Waitout the drumlike
Dance of blood upon
The water plane, a
Would be quenching
If it weren’t for the fact
Of saturation—one cannot
Force a toilet filled red
Any more wet if it
Were monsoon, typhoon; the
Katrina of my doom. I
Look to the wall—I thank
God for the ticking, memes
Of my eyes tickle fight
On the floor. It all is
Inappropriate, and I am
Not young enough anymore

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

The State Of Us Women

Young ghosts comb dreams so vast
they splinter in twelve and are bruised irregular
by twenty.

Your age is the number of stars that have fallen
while you sleep.

Streets are proud doubts–foul charm, but proofed.

A sometimes can seize but an always can cease.

All visions of progress: much heard, less seen.

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

10 Hopeful Hacks for Beating the Holiday Blues

I am not a fan of beating the blues advice that is patently gratuitous, overdone, or quite obvious. Yes, a walk on the beach sounds invigorating but I live in Arizona. You know what I’m talking about, these lists inundate Google if you search for overcoming a down mood or depression. For anyone experiencing a hard time or if you have a case of the blues—I’ve gathered some of my best mood-changing activities for you which I’ve indulged in to distract me when I’m feeling down. These are not your same old tips, so come on, give one a try!

  • Visit a local animal shelter and take a look at the puppies and kittens. I was afraid this would make me feel worse because I’d want to adopt them all. But it didn’t. They make me laugh watching them play with each other and their complete and utter sweetness. I also saw that so many of them had “Adopted” written on their information cards and this made me feel hopeful and happy. On the way out, drop a dollar in their donation box. You’ve helped yourself and the animals!
  • Look for the Nickelodeon or TVLand channel and watch reruns of Friends. This iconic 90s comedy boasted one of television’s most creative ensembles and there is rarely an episode without a laugh-out-loud line from these comedic actors. Just hearing Joey say, “How YOU doin’” or watching Monica’s obsession with household order makes me giggle. And who doesn’t want to hear “Smelly Cat” one more time?
  • Upcycle a decorative item or piece of furniture in your home. Pick something small and doable that won’t take too long and could use a new look. Don’t take on anything too complicated or you’ll risk a worse mood! If you don’t have supplies, almost everything is sold at Michael’s. I recently redid a small  Goodwill lamp I had, put a new inexpensive shade from Target on it, and painted the very unattractive wood base a barn red. This lamp was on its way out and now sits on my ottoman coffee table. I ran an extension cord hidden by a rug to make my new upcycled lamp work in a completely unexpected area.
  • Dive into a Netflix binge watch. Google best Netflix movies or search for a television show you’ve been meaning to watch but want to start at the first season. I recommend The Crown which just landed a second season. This is a great historical drama about Queen Elizabeth’s early years and coronation. I’m now watching Gypsy, a quirky drama with Naomi Watts. I was hooked on the first episode. It seems like everyone’s watched Orange is the New Black (I LOVE it). If you liked OITNB, try Wentworth, a darker women’s prison drama from Down Under.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or children’s charity for a special event or holiday. Contact St. Vincent De Paul or one of your local charities that serves food on holidays. Volunteering to serve usually just takes just a call to sign up. But do call ahead because this is a popular idea for service groups. Most malls have a Christmas tree hung with names of children needing gifts. Shopping for a gift to make a child’s holiday special is heartwarming and so rewarding. This maxim is very true. Giving to others is a sure way to cheer up even a Scrooge.
  • Spend an afternoon rearranging a room’s furniture. Giving a room a new look will make a difference every time you walk in afterwards. Use some decorator touches on your bookshelves, making books stack vertically or adding photos and small vases or candles. Take a lap blanket and drape it over the back of a comfy chair. On an ottoman, place a tray and fill it with magazines or books and a small candle. Gather several of your framed photos and create a group on a sofa table or end table. Position furniture at an angle for an interesting look. I get so involved rearranging I find I forget my mood for awhile and get a new look for my house!
  • You will find this idea on every list but don’t discount the benefit of movement. I had a therapist who said depression means time for action. Usually this is the last thing I feel like doing but I force myself into engaging in some type of endorphin-releasing activity. I have DVRd several episodes of a half hour yoga show on PBS. On ambitious days, I’ll roll out my mat in front of the television and spend a small amount of time stretching and clearing my mind. I’m not a gym person so I’ll do anything rather than go to a public place. Well, because people. What I also include in this hack is a trip to the grocery, drug store, or any place where I have to get dressed, get in the car, and walk around for a short amount of time. I always feel better after some type of movement. Lucky dog owners can sneak in at least two walks!
  • Two words. Manicure and pedicure. If not one, then the other, or both! I go to a reasonably priced salon where for one hour I am pampered and then leave with great-looking hands and toes. If you have the budget, getting a massage is the big kahuna here of self-indulgent self-care.
  • For people who like to read (me) there is an infinite library of books out there. I completely forget about why I was sad or down and get lost in the world of my book’s characters. My tip for a good read is Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere—great literary fiction with several twists. I have a Kindle which makes reading easy but I also buy used books from Amazon. If it’s a title that’s been out for a while there are usually one cent used offerings and you only have to pay the $3.99 shipping charge. I have so many four dollar hardbacks thanks to Amazon’s used book sellers. When I’m looking for a new book to read, I search on Amazon or Google for the top sellers in a genre I love. Don’t forget about your local library! Many libraries now offer online lending.

My last tip may be the most effective but sometimes the hardest to do. Reach out. Call, email, or text a dear friend who understands that sometimes you get down and need a listening ear. Reaching out comes in different ways and styles. Send a greeting card—a lost art but greatly appreciated by the receiver. Even social media counts. On Facebook and Twitter there are many ways to interact with others. I have a friend who just joined a Facebook cooking group and she loves it. Whichever way you choose, making the effort to reach out pays off. I am often guilty of isolationist behavior and this is a top priority that really works to help me feel better.

It would absolutely help me to beat my blues knowing that one of these hacks worked for you. The hardest part is finding an idea or activity that appeals to you. Once you do choose one, taking the first step is a little easier. If you find yourself in a holiday funk or catch a blue mood, give one of these not-your-same-old ideas a try. My therapist is right. Taking action DOES lift a mood!

 

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Diffraction

Angry Woman

Found Wanting: Burning With Anger, The Hidden Truth of Eating Disorders

Anarchy

I am anarchy
in your pacifist bed
I am your guilt
your foolish fear
love
your unsated lust

I am your revolution
filthy riches
your poverty
a gratified
reassignment
your pain

I am your peace
and mayhem
your demands
and delicious
nightmares

a run on sentence
no punctuation

I am a noun
a pronoun
I am your id
your ego

I am you

 

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

MARGARET

Within her green garden; an hedged veranda
filled with buckets of lilies, sweet herb pockets,
a sunburnt chandelier dimming in the breeze

Our garden with hydrangeas, and thistle vines,
and azaleas in phantom fuchsias; though
if only we could still sew posy wreaths

Rings around Margaret, May forgotten petals
to help settle her tummy. Glad, then
perhaps then she could water back her seeds.

Margaret sits in the mourning, and so I join her
birdwatching. I tend her soft plot’s dying greens
tending the nightshade she would madly weed

Days when it rains, we sip white jasmine tea, steep
it with cannabis oils, honies and Summer leaves.
Poperies, perhaps her secret dried poppies

Across our canopy, the sad salt wound of away,
Sea— Margaret and me, growing crooked under day,
Stirring love in urns under drapes of leaves

Margaret can’t feel winter in me and I think, she
quit watering what died. But with tides, she might

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

If I Was Your Child    

Would you cover me in a coat of armor
So my blood didn’t weep
If I was your child
Would you shield me from the dark
The boogeyman that wiggled my doorknob whilst I sleep
If I was your child would you smother me with sweet scented well-meaning
kisses
If I was your child would you teach me all the adventurous things I needed to be
Brave, bold, fierce, strong, fearless and kind
If I was your child would you grant me an open-hearted curiosity and gypsy spirit
If I was your child would you fill my belly when it gurgled and hiccupped from
hunger
Life’s pains
Everyday ups and downs

If I was your child would you discover the planet with me and all her beauty with
excitement
If I was your brave child that got broken with bruises
Would you patch up my busted knees and broken hearts
Would you shower me with love even when undeserving
Would you share your coat of kindness and mesmerizing colors
If I was your child, but not yours to hold onto
Not for too long, too tight or even a million kisses

If I was your child would you prepare me for the cold, greed filled world
where other children were not born into luck
Or love or grace or unselfishness
Born to endure beatings, assault and fear and hunger and pain
With no escape

If I was not your child, but someone else’s mistake would you even bother
to open your eyes and look up
Be braver than your peacock feathered rooted in pride shielding a blind eye
From the lost children forgotten by mother earth and father time
Unlucky, undesired, unwelcome
Powerless without cloak and dagger
Lost children born without a family tree rooted in structure
Where words like kindness, grace, beauty and bounty were spoken freely
If I was your child
Brave, bold and confident
Surviving and thriving free from lock and key responsibility
Smiling in prosperity
Would your heart be filled with pride and purpose
If I was not your child would you send some hope my way

Hope does not have to dwell inside your house exclusively
Hope should be shared and scattered like Hershey kisses
It must live in your heart and smile and willingness to cross the street
Born on the open roads and mountains and highways traveled making you wise
Opening your eyes to plight and diversity and pain

Because you too, were somebody’s child once
Who deserved to be sheltered and showered with meteor worthy hugs
If I was your child would you give me the moon and stars
Hell I’m only a child, I don’t know any different
I’d settle for the black hole we all live in, illuminated by cracks of sun
not asking too much, but perhaps one teeny tiny star to guide me
My own true north

 

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

GIRL-6

She finds her resolve upstairs, in a built-in cupboard in her bedroom, a cool black nook between eaves. She empties the house of herself, in a way – she can’t see anything, and in the wood, a sacredness and functionality must aid the process of unadulterated, unfleshed thought. Having strewn her uniform on her bedroom floor, she stands naked on purpose – in here, between her skin and an inside wall, is a place for judgment. Girl-6 hopes to perform it swiftly, ritualistically, leaving no room for self-sentiment – she does not intend to gratify herself when she imagines a freshly avowed nun in her chamber, just stripped of identity, vanity, and pride, about to commit that first brevity of nakedness between habit, and nightie.

What she knows: Girl-3 got her good this time – ‘had one over her,’ they’d say. Girl-6 can tell she’s been had, by this ungainly indignation she suffers, causing a loss of humor, and energy. Some girls can tell. Girls who study the rungs of the social ladder attune to other girls because you have to go to school with them and compete for status. There, at school, no matter the ferocity of your companions, you jointly create the status bond – the knowledge of a hierarchy that begins in silence, with an up and away look, towards a greater idea of yourself that seems to live just above the nose and, once there, to show indifference to the existence of others, except maybe ponies and a best friend who must understand that somewhere else in your international life, is an even closer friend who knows better secrets about you. From this point of the status bond, some chilling skirt-twirl freeze outs and lip-biting dislocation of personal articles – like a doll from your father, or an expensive retainer, involving the active concern of the entire upper school upturning the premises – will speed a lower former’s social flight to the highest rungs – oh ye adorable pet of top-form popular girls. Divorced parents are best; you have tricky holiday arrangements – double lives, double gifts, and the curse of a peppy stepparent bribing your favor with coolness. Pony collections work also – to fuss over their silk platinum tails is a pledge for rank – tangle-free tails equal supremacy and an orderly mind: you’re a girl who wipes her bottom til it burns. Is your stable regimented, under constant re-organization, or roaming freely about the room? These are desirable frivolities so long as you’re not sloppy about anything. Sloppiness is akin to being depressed.

The key to this status bond is in seeing its ladder in ascendance. Girl-6 is, without doubt, still at the bottom, but half-heartedly working up to being labeled ‘a bit of a snob with great hair.’ Snobbery’s an art; austerity rules over the niceties of existence. To climb the rungs, one must create from the bleak coils of her imagination, rungs lower than her – girls whom she must consider less than, and thus, assigned a place beneath her.

Rung-jumping is no easy task. Once, Girl-6 might have seen inside another girl’s mind. This girl’s school position implied invincibility; however, on parents and guardian’s day, under that girl’s porcelain-prefect’s mask, a vulnerable and practically motherless child swum too close to the surface and betrayed the girl everyone knew – just briefly. It was a spooky happening and disintegrated Girl-6’s upward drive – precisely, for jumping rungs. In the stew of uniforms flushed into that vale of learning, each passing face a pristine sponge for the heart’s adventure; this skill eludes her. More apt, the desire, that necessary cutthroat blood is, inside Girl-6, living dormant in a deep well of her whole ancestral being, as it must in every girl, this carnivorous, congealed pool of molten instinct curdling, screaming and shriveling as it waits for that bucket to come down, and get some. One girl descends for just a bit of this incredible blood, and comes up empty, thinking, is her bucket undeserving, incapable? She’ll go again, hardening her heart as she descends into the pitch, at length, to discover her well is barren. Water, let alone that blood, doesn’t exist to drown in, or even break her fall, should she be inclined to dive in.

In its place is a cold, dusty floor, until – oh look up, and down again – why, here’s the floor of a beautiful white palace – a kind of girl paradise where ladders and rungs have no credibility and should anyone remember their history, will feel inclined, no, ecstatic in figuratively fuelling campfires with its worth – where all girls are equal, and mass sleepovers typify the new order. Where boys don’t rate a visit to the commons for lemonade and sandwiches until graduation year, to general gasps of ‘at last’ enlivening a sense-edged enthusiasm, so the girls surveying those boys, can map out their lives, choose suitable mates to suppress the faults of the other, while enhancing the promising parts. This combined with a non-hysterical love of no less perfection than flight itself holds for mutual and all-encompassing prosperity. Until that day, a stream of good men, role models like her brother, will inspire feminine expectations. For her part, Girl-6 sees herself breeding ponies, doing good works, and writing books of her experiences as a great leveler.

Anyone showing potential will be welcomed on a daily basis. In conscience, they’ll stand apart; they’ll not pay taxes, because they’ll be on solar power, and true only to the realms of spiritual law. They’ll relearn ‘Beauty’ as the expression of inner achievement. They’ll have their own fashion sense. If any soul falls to crime or ill intent, it will be a shared injustice and judged as such. That will make a grim day, easily overridden by the days of joy, swim parties, and productivity. As the inventor of such a paradise, she accepts some respect due her, but the new school won’t serve status bonds, only fairness, and joint aspiration.

Status – going against the ethics of the white palace, Girl-3 has that. At first, Girl-6 could appreciate Girl-3’s independence from the confines of suburban virtues, her apparent ability to exist without vanity or, what Girl-6 terms, ‘radiant procession’ – that is a way of tackling the future with less than what birth has endowed you, and being fortified by this condition, like an amputee, or an orphan. This Girl-3 with unknown aspirations embodies something between hunter and hunted – she is hunger, and coveting. Girls in the upper form mundanely call her poorly socialized, but their hearts pound for what’s unsaid, what words would devalue, what strikes their eyes with electricity normally reserved for sexual wonder. Thus slipshod minds made slackened rungs, allotting Girl-3 in, and up, without regard for her young schoolmate’s place or hard-won privacy.

Everyone at school has a creative projects drawer. Girl-6 got rummaged and someone’s tasteless curiosity still physically turns Girl-6 hot suppressing her indignity, instead of airing it, so she is at length disturbed. Bad enough to be visually poked and prodded, to have every move you make, every backpack protrusion, viewed on a microscopic level; every action singular, discombobulated, and judged as such and out loud – and it’s so unfair because day girls are, for practical reasons, like manic relief forms of themselves. Seeing it through the boarders’ eyes, all the to-and-fro of Girl-6 unto them, renders her as sport, a landing pad for diversion, a cool pool to swim in, towel off, refresh, until mass hot symptoms excite them again.

Her interesting parts stay home. Girl-3’s make front page.

Things she brings from home outside of necessities, usually carry quite eloquent back-stories, and her practices, serious intentions – both are just disengaged and discarded by Girl-3. Because Girl-6 occasionally, seemingly, reads minds, she’s been seeing herself through Girl-3’s eyes, as if for the first time. Under cold examination, Girl-6 probably falls flat: stern is the facade of her solemnity, petty are her annoyances, calculating is her just and ritualistic style. However, Girl-6, emphatically, isn’t stern, petty, or calculating. Lest she calls herself above-board, she feels practically alien just thinking about herself.

What she won’t do: deny Girl-3’s bravery as an isolated, yet celebrated foe of sorority, an alter conscience, and absolutely when everyone rubs the stars from their eyes, a thief. No one objects to her peculiar tastes in food, clothes, and etiquette; all this should be seen to be natural and endearing, given that Girl-3 is unnatural, coming via front page from a suspected blonde desert cult. It’s this idea of her as something to celebrate that unnerves Girl-6 and makes her revise the status bond ladder – the idea that nature created an apparently loveable girl out of none of the accepted methods. To be free of society for your entire youth, for some reason, makes you pure and innocent; your deeds, however vile, a display like a learning deficit, or something lost in translation, because they must not matter. Society beyond ‘tween sorority’ then, as a mass brain, must see itself to be sordid and beyond saving. If so, why has no one, acting for the whole of society, done anything about it? They allow Girl-3 everything. Her murky history must not matter, except to thwart the saccharine, and plastic, of perfection, and veil her in victim hues, because they must persist in loving her. Despite everything that’s certainly bad about Girl-3, they have made her perfect. They insist upon it. They-must-persist-loving-Girl-3-not-6.

And then, Girl-6 began to love her too. Despite the faults, Girl-3, who menstruates and paints with her tampons – really has neat skills of her own – appears to secretly want to copy her, a day girl, and she’s done so, by way of appropriation, while Girl-6 was home. Girl-3 couldn’t know that Nerelee exists because Girl-6 buried her six months ago, behind the creative projects drawer so purposely chaotic inside is a formless spikey mesh. Nevertheless, seven days after the new girl’s arrival, Nerelee of the Wattles disappears.

‘None wud blink if ya never’n hid her but ya did, an’ she is burnt,’ said Girl-3.

‘That’s a confession, then?’

‘Na.’

‘Then I must have blinked and missed it.’ Girls 1 to 5 got her looking, swearing ‘she’s so close you can smell her – check the eaves, and the cellars…’

She never told them that she hadn’t smelled for months. In fairness, Girl-6 must appreciate herself as an interesting subject, and not just for not smelling. Just being herself, going about her ways, she has earned fascination, from perhaps the most fascinating girl of all. And were it not for Nerelee’s value as evidence against herself, she’d forgive the not-so-cute Girl-3 everything that she, as an accidental figurehead, as a whirling catalyst, has caused to illuminate.

In those months before Girl-3’s arrival, school and home tremored expectantly, with the to-and-fro of it all, with the tremendousness that Girl-6 was experiencing her finale in a gentile term of life. At home, playtime became an investment. She grew ever more observant, even mercenary in seizing moments that tomorrow, she might view as ‘indulgent.’ To take afternoon naps between booyongs, press flat chest to earth and beat her heart against eons and sniff, listen, and interpret so hard because she might not again – made sense. A term whose death was knowledge by way of falling; falling as an intangible succumbing; a succumbing so charismatic and alluring as naught but the ghost called her future formed on loose probabilities; that one day she too, after a term of exam hysteria, would age and marry. There’d be separations, choices, and sacrifices involving men and the independent feminine goal and online bills to pay.

Nonetheless, that afternoon that had secured her brother home, and her father from work and into his dreams, felt thick with safe prospect, and peripheral thinking, a warm cup of freedom. Coming out the back door into tracks through banana trees carrying her covered basket, both she and Nerelee smelling of guava sunscreen, Girl-6 foretold no volatility in the body of this party: in the basket; fairy-cakes, her doll-size sudden beauty set, and child-size tea set; in her uniform pocket, a forgotten felt pen. A threshold lurked, but because it was her first, her instincts were innocent to foreboding. Yes, some guilt, ignoring Mum shouting, ‘where be my green sandals?’ Mum had missed her arrival from school, and she didn’t shout hey, but Girl-6 felt already swept away, and singular in her intention. When she spied her father and brother at the picnic table exchanging wry glances, cotton-wool sensations encased her. Her father already wore his yay the weekend paisley robe and his starriest eyes because her brother had incited debate. Men discussing matters deemed beyond her concern, her comprehension, her responsibility – it swaddled her good. That any moment she could run back, invade their manly knot, for a cuddle, or duty to frill their afternoon – bring biscuits, take a memo, pour frothing beers…

Girl-6 passed unnoticed; passing the ficus hedge, crossing lawn behind the house, dodging shadow prospects of snakes until she reached full coverage through the dip in the landscape of beyond. Here thick cloud compacted her world. Rising heat dissolved her nervy sense of mission, and she felt rather light-headed as her joints moved as if coerced by surprise, and her body fell into pathways, and her mind rolled musically along. She considered her style of walking, which opened her to this deeper, richer atmosphere that said I’m exclusively yours before evening’s birdsong ran amuck before one breath of humanity should spook it away. Everything appeared at her touch, steamy and miraculous, including the interlude amongst the miracle that was herself in this rare spontaneous action, herself in great single strides. Every arrival point embraced her; every layer peeled away to reveal the next until her full stop came, at the booyong grove. At its sun-baked edge, pitched high above the river, was a grassy hideout, arid, but misty so vested with drama – she imagined a futurist might choose such a site for a clubhouse. So here she put down the basket, laid a striped blanket and did her best to flatten the long yellow grass bunching in baby hills underneath. Warmth released the blanket’s musty indoor smell as if retelling dream-filled hibernation, inspiring in her, fresh ideas of time’s ghostly substance. Once all elements fell into place, she asked Nerelee, ‘Care to join?’

Felt pen bled pink through her blue-checked pocket, likely since that morning’s art class – oh her school shoes! Incredibly, she hadn’t changed into something flouncy before starting out, but a lesser breed of fate directed this day.

She now thinks that a person, just before she changes greatly, discovers herself in her most basic, beloved identity – the last flight of self, already retreating into memory, the great hug before death. Enough time passed that the sun found a cloud pocket, beaming her its hot send-off hug from outer space. In its warmth, the pocket stain fed her ideas. Soon, Nerelee was admiring her speckled complexion in the mirror of the sudden beauty set. Now they were twins. More bunches on the blanket needed smoothing. The sun’s position in that ferocious blue patch indicated it was time for afternoon tea.

She took from the basket teacups, leaf-patterned saucers and the container that she opened just enough to dispatch fairy-cakes to saucers, and shut. She then blew off the ants, one by one, that already, psychically marched onto the blanket. So she missed the rift of smoke rise off the grass behind her and has since reassembled that into its crazed cobra form. When the flame bit she exclaimed, then understood her serpent as a springling of smoke. Whose tongue was blue. Whose fangs hooked her at the waist. Who breathed a hole in the blanket under the mirror that curled away and lit the dry grass underneath.

She stomped out the flame. The blanket kept melting. It formed a delta that relit the grass into hands blazing fingers, and she retreated in a half-backward run, on an animal path zigzagging down to the river. In mud ankle-deep, she threw off her uniform and dunked it. School shoes slurping and gurgling, she ran the soaked dress back towards the dreadful. Branches and vines anchored her scramble up the last bank shooting embers, and over, to her cobra multiplied into six crackling serpents engulfing her picnic. Dress flopping, she pounced, and they devoured the hair in her nostrils. Thwack went the dress at every side, and within, immersing her with the spew of their foul blue table, their spines wrapping her skin as she corralled and whipped until they collapsed into each other, and fizzled to a stewing, breathy silence.

Cloud regrouped, thick and pocketless, shrouding Girl-6 in her deed – panting, hugging herself with incredibleness, with triumph. Still, something burned, but this was the acrid and waxy smelt of synthetics. She looked down because she knew her shoes, though sodden and sooty, remained intact, and she was conscious of a tremendous nudity that her shoes made explicit. The smell was an evil beckoning ‘locate me, so here, so central,’ but she stayed on her black shoes. The evil pleaded. As if to steady herself for its corruption, her eyes shifted from shoes to picnic scene and carried out a ground report.

Only thing you cannot burn is what’s already burnt to hell!

The fallout was a fantastical science lesson, a moral riddle about personal power and hellfire – perversely, the essence of a potential hit song, and in quiet times, she’s reminisced on that brief creative elation. All that survived of her uniform was a blue-checked moon-shape, its edge a scorched corona. A flatworm was her pink pen. The basket, black. The tea set and beauty set made a waxy jam with charred mirror. After looking everywhere, here, right here, was Nerelee at last, in Girl-6’s arms. However, Nerelee was wrong, incomplete, yet endless. Following her sweet limbs, Girl-6 arrived at her new panties, dangling off her stomach. Their elastic edging had crusted and shaved a place in her skin. Nerelee’s foot had melted and attached to Girl-6’s stomach, and Girl-6’s stomach was curling around and over the foot.

When the pain struck, as if it had waited for this carousel awesomeness, she ripped the doll out, but she couldn’t save the foot from her stomach, or herself from the foot. She ran everything against the rush of mountain air. Has anyone run so fast? Looking back, she must have known instinctively, the necessity of living outside of time so heat and gore didn’t catch up, though they lived, and desired her intimacy. Pain knew as she knew mid-run, becomes a choice: you leave it behind for as long and as fast as you run. What happens is a real kind of time-travel – and in the same vein, speed turns your locality beyond logic. Possibly, theoretically – Girl-6 barely believes her own experience. With little but the blur of trees to contain her bodily sense, she grew aware of where she wasn’t, where she must be missed. White noise accompanied an image of her brother, her father, the picnic table: so vivid, she knew she’d viewed it from above, and so high did she fly, her body, progressing, transferring, glowing like a gladiator, was in her control. Into house, dashing body, climbing upstairs, into bed, falling, under an animal duvet, safe, away from ‘here-now-ness.’

Girl-6’s dominion over pain was fleeting, her time theory stood. Pain caught up, their relationship consummated under the ghost gums behind the house. She’d only stopped to gulp, and instantly felt dragged out from her magic duvet, and on the ground grasping her midsection; here she learned of pain’s taste, its hunger, ability, battlefields, births, the thousands of years of souls who knew it too. Nothing would ever know her so well. It was all so unfair. Girl-6 moaned for herself part of the time, for the lost ideal of play, for wasted fairy cakes, and for the feminine whispers of sisterhood snatched by six Girl-6-made cobras.

Thus returned to the now-of-here, she ran again, this time back down to the river and in. Underwater, she permitted a cry to satiate pain. It rippled a rogue tide along the banks and probably out to sea.

Comprehension was a violent, ecstatic pinnacle. In the hours that followed, the water’s blood warmth extended her physical sense of herself; the dread of irreparability kept her alert; a riverbed body mask sapped her of smoke, her youthful perception swung naturally, gladly, to buoyancy, through a rare brand of romance that attended her wilt. It had to. Loss, she saw, doesn’t cave on itself, doesn’t govern the negative territories, rather, it’s an invasion of new sense after the last has consumed itself; this had mass, and volume, like a flood, like absorption. Loss in a raw body becomes something grand, intriguing, consuming, and, having consumed all other territories, must become pleasurable at last. Great sufferers fill history – the greatest sorrow, the loneliest grief… She swam in her grief. Drowned in her sorrows – any poetic longevity in Happiness hardly compares.

Girl-6 owned that her suffering offset her guilt over potential mass-destruction – she couldn’t mollycoddle this romance, however… Foretelling family horror, this romance advised her to bury today. So, Girl-6 accepted that secret suffering gains virtue, and specialness; that individual ails little in comparison to her so-called caretakers, whose guilt might plummet them into helpless, self-absorbed sentiments – and in accepting all this, she afflicted herself with enough guilt for, what was inherently, a gain.

Then romance wanted her name for this episode. ‘Thank you – Vanity.’ She took comfort. No backstory need adhere to New Girl-6, going forth, quietly inhabiting home and school, exciting no suspicion in her will to amend and remorse properly. Vanity. Nature deemed hers overfull.

Nature, I have no belly button.

The dreaded train of self-sympathy, secretiveness, more self-pity – some injured girls turn their eyes into saucers and get bandages and pens from Nurse in Sickbay. Often, she’d peer in as the migraine, and aching tummy types lay under actual hospice blankets, basking in the awesomeness of feminine consolation. How she’ll miss her stomach horrifying them all!

While in the river, she’d ignored her father, a bat swooping the banks shrieking, his frenzied robe flapping. Mum was probably soft-sobbing. This made Girl-6 watchful for the suddenness of her stealth. In their calls was birth itself, clanging in her chest and crunching her ribs as she made fools of its makers. Her name as a flying muscle, blind and deceived. Her brother’s cries practically scalped her, but couldn’t beat the lone licking of wounds in the river. Shadows stretched treading arms, swishing and brushing, overpainting what she’d ruined underneath. Birds quit for the multi-tone overland hum. Clouds, increasingly black, were reachable, as a starless night fell and she welcomed its obscuring sweep.

‘Dear God let me disappear. Please! Let them think I’m dead so they’ll forget the bushfire that nearly erased a mountain face. Oh please…

It took a sense of ‘overt specialness,’ Girl-6 supposes, to drag her from the river. Those shoes slopped along, caked mud like chains, as she climbed the track. Through banana trees up to the house, darkness and nudity tempered her progress – a darting spirit, reforming her life step-by-step, grasping an open window, melancholic for placement again. The haze of usualness as she crept was a body of times past. Her bedroom light was on, so she crawled through, her feet humming a feral tune as she crept below windows, noble in her slowness of motion. She wrapped a towel around her waist, squeezed her hair with another, and from her closet pulled the hem of her frilliest, flowy-est dress until it fell on her, and she wriggled herself in. From the shoes, she removed the feet, wiped them, crawled through the hall, and jumped the back window.

In a dell in the ficus hedge, she beheld her family: at the picnic table, her brother, soaked; muddy father in the robe he’d chuck for ‘negative recollections,’ fossicking ancient chambers of his mind, pleading for grounding within metaphysical answers. Mum, suit, and flip-flops. By the plank table, they swiveled directions with their bodies. A police car, two officers, notepad, and pen. On the table, her father’s cup that he kept picking up, sipping, finding empty, putting down. Cloud cover, lush. Girl-6’s sigh nearly exposed her. Who witnesses emotion like this? Only while lying on your deathbed, or announcing your terminal illness. Even with a lost limb, people get ‘sporting’, and rally around you. She was inside her parent’s heads with her mortality – maimed, kidnapped, a runaway… hold me!

Instead, she huddled overwhelmed in dearness for the past and her people. Dear Mum, click-clacking the officers’ pen. Brother, for whom most calamities are bearable, most worth a fiver over the results, swore he saw her, giving ‘m’oath’ to ground, mid-distance, to the beast in his brain. Mum slaying neighbors with finger-filled words: ‘do-gooder, potty, suspicious, never-there-open-to-squatters.’ Father, the hysteric: ‘a responsible girl. Not a wanderer. Bloody no: never. Never chats to strangers, avoids them.’ All wrong but she loved him for his faith.

Faith. The hedge inspired grotesque ideas. Sap-tacky leaves spoilt her dress. Pain; racing lion, sitting croc, soaring bird, was skin rerouting around Nerelee’s foot. She could feed pain her brother’s pills, and herself, some sleep. To build nerve never needed, now sought, she force-whispered the word, grizzle, and foretold her scar’s form – in one incarnation, a giant horse eating a donkey and spewing it out. Each year she and scar would grow. Go clothes shopping alone. Swim in full bathers. Go to sleepovers when everyone runs about naked for fun. No one could know, so Girl-6 would grow sly. What normal man would want her for a wife? Men being somewhat conceited, he’d have to carry a scar worse than hers. He’d want himself ten times the sorrier before he’d concede to loving her.

As she painted her male atrocity in her mind, she untacked the leaves from the flounce and pasted them to her head. She’d come from behind. ‘Mum! I guess I fell asleep, in there.

The officers, wired for the scent of offense, tried to breach her film of slumber. Girl-6, dazed in the unfurrowing relief, squeezed into herself like a kitten. A performance governed by the resourceful romance, it shifted the scent and extinguished doubt. Mum dropped down, picked leaves off her damp head, and with her hug, unconsciously molded Girl-6’s skirt around her small hips and legs affirming her most thorough female safety. ‘I am alright,’ Girl-6 whispered, lifting Mum’s head from the towel wrapping beneath.

‘Hair’s damp,’ she murmured. ‘Swimming, eh?’ Mmm.

Relief oh drooling puppy set free. Still be the sacred delight in a girl riding the cusp of her feminine spurt, just woken from her midsummer’s dream, insensible of worldly calamities. Her father howled without tears because ‘tears are flowing full stops,’ he explained, and he was ‘still locked in the maze of horror. Come on, come on!’ he scolded himself. The policewoman said over him, ‘Suspect any burning on the mountain today – no one else smell it?’ ‘No,’ said the puppy to its leash.

Girl-6 woke to her clubhouse shimmering, the perilous genii seeking ground. While dumping earth and wheeling her barrow up from the river, she found Nerelee face up under wattles. Shoes Black Janet and Smokin’ Jane would hide their sooty smirks under lush polish, their warp under thick looping laces.

All Sunday, Mum pursued that uniform, finally calling foul for imagining there was ever a spare. Girl-6 got a new one, the sports-set too – the latest, boasting invisible stitching and a skirt with flappy pleats that you need to hold down in strong winds. Her sport-set has what she’d call, esprit; all the girls are getting it now and turning their old ones into bandana tops that squash new breasts together to coerce a cleavage.

Yes, to thrills. Life, she suspects, applauds empathy, towards others, towards self. If the white palace deplores inhumanity, it must tolerate status bonds. Girl-3 and Girl-6 must co-exist; as numbers advance the army, so to its sleeper soldiers. Still, Girl-6’s joy over the pleated sports skirt somewhat wanes in Nerelee’s absence and choice, to paraphrase her father, is ‘a bit of a buggar’ both ways: she must somehow befriend Girl-3 to an overpowering degree, or, burn down the school.

Overall, she’s angry with herself, for storing Nerelee at school, not here, at home, upstairs in her black nook, where it seems, at least to Girl-6, that adulthood’s distinguishing factor, beyond height, mortgages, and the absoluteness of decisions, is a unique solemnity owing to regrets, and consequentially, an unworthiness to express utter and unadulterated joy going forth. So adulthood, at its pinnacle, is courageous sadness.

Those who lack the courage need help. Here’s why nuns have nunneries; why this naked Girl-6 will have her white palace. Here’s why she won’t burn every rung of the status bond down with the school and the evidence somewhere, somewhere, inside.

Girl-6 won’t rise: ‘My body is an allegory. I am the emblem.’

Photo Credit: Paula Satijn Flickr via Compfight cc

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Two Tall Women in NYC

Caught

Mindscape of a pregnant girl after the death of her lover

Previvor

Where do these women go when they die, these
Women who are like me
like how I used to be before
I became rooted in stinkless rock?

“Previvor” is for the catch of an early dusk
before it settles, or
the trespass of the moon before dark

A champion equals a survivor in the pressing
Previvor foxes it first

unless

the thing is rape

you smell on me an anger appropriate, yet
My words touch you chaffingly, they
aren’t real:
inappropriate for think, hear or feel

because

the word is rape

I could not have been a previvor of violence
because the dread blossom grew
not in me but in
you

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

Shulie

When I tell you that she is a fireball,
I mean to say
that she fears not the
charring of cultural silks and rods,
burning up oxidized visions
until her words are carbon-sealed
upon the perennial page,
her feminine veil
forged in smoke.

When I tell you that she is a firebrand,
I mean to say
that flames know how to dance,
performing heated contortions
of fist and wit
singeing holes through
sepia newspapers and Freudian slips,
hungrily lapping up anachronisms
like old kindling.

When I tell you that she is aflame,
I mean to say
that her light comes with a price,
ample mind ablaze
with neurotic shadows
blooming, ball-and-chained
to the heels of her incandescence,
the fire that commanded oceans
snuffed out by airless spaces.

Photo Credit: Thad Zajdowicz Flickr via Compfight cc

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”

WAR

I can’t keep
Them straight in my head anymore-
The shootings.
The victims.
The gunmen.
The guns used.
Vegas.
The hotel. The windows of the hotel.
From the window of the hotel.
The concert.
The nightclub.
They were dancing.
They were young.
They were shot. Hiding in the bathroom.
At the school. In the classroom.
In Florida.
In Virginia?
In New York.
At Church.
They were old.
They had survived tragedies.
Only to be shot-
In school
While dancing
At church
While praying
During College Night
In Thousand Oaks
Doing yoga
They were
Women
They were men
They were just kids
They got shot
Hiding in the bathroom
On Lockdown
In Starbucks
At the concert
While they weren’t looking
While he reloaded
And they were trying to get out
Trying to escape
They got shot
With an assault rifle
A war weapon
Something about “multiple magazines”
They died
At school
In kindergarten
They were 6.

They were in High School
They had just transferred
He was about to retire
She wasn’t going to go that night-
He’d just moved there-
They were all shot
And they didn’t die right away.
Because they released cell phone footage of the massacre on YOUTUBE-
And my kids saw it-
And we all
Died
Inside.

Because
It’s
Happening every day…
To every body…
All of the time…

Am I going to get shot?
At church?
In the movie theater?
While I’m dancing?
I’m young…

With a war weapon
While I’m not looking
Or will I get a call?
That it’s my child-
Laying lifeless in
A bar with all the lights on now.

Would she have been trying to escape?
With her friends-
On lockdown- in
The Starbucks bathroom

Were they all scared
Was God there-
Did they have a chance to pray-
In the church
On the dance floor
At school
In the movie theater…

Will they get shot when they are old and I am gone
And they survived this lifetime of tragedies?

I can’t keep them straight in my head anymore.
The shootings.
The victims.

It’s everywhere.
It’s everyone.
It’s me.
It’s you.
It’s WAR.

Photo Credit: Quentin Verwaerde Flickr via Compfight cc

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POLITICALLY CORRECT

For the Jukebox that Won’t Stop Playing the National Anthem

“a plea”