the poetry of women

i want to be surrounded by
the poetry of strong beautiful women.
the ones who took the lifebeatings and buried them deep—
wept suns and moons and planets,
the river water of the ages, oceanic tides of grief
salted earth
beneath their precious bruised
fingers—
only to have them grow roots
and bloom again in the buzzing heat of morning.
the fragrance of tragedy
written into hope.

in the palm of my mind (guiding lights)

in the palm of my mind live
guiding lights.
soft summer wings spread, billowing,
sigh beneath the curtains
as they clutch a pale
peach night.

blue eyes reflect, a lake opens wide & falls
reverent
beaming, drawn toward the face of the sky.
a being at the window of an evening
i have yet to know.

it calls for me, my name cupped in the hands of the Word,
moves my body. some trace of what may come.
and i am shown
and i was the one:

closing heaven against your eyelids.
nesting dreams inside your bed sheets.
tasting solace in the mouth
of your sweet heartache.

all poets are mad

Plato warned that poets are powerless to indite a verse or chant an oracle until they are put out of their senses so that their minds are no longer in them, and ever since no one feels entirely comfortable sharing a cab with one. In fact, a cabbie once pulled over and ordered me out when my travelling companion introduced me as a poet. Incredible? Mind you, my friend had just introduced himself as ‘a philosopher’. Normal people don’t want to hear that sort of thing. But I’m sure it wasn’t always as humiliating as it has been in these days of professionalism, promotion and ‘bringing the poetry to the people’, running after them imploring, Come back! It doesn’t have to rhyme!

— from The Shape of the Dance, Michael Donaghy

body like wind

Sensitivity is the peculiar home I have grown my life inside. A message folded under the wing of each individual gesture, a whisper in the pale morning light sliding warm along my bare skin. Sensuality, the art of being unafraid of feeling. Pleasure. Pain. Everything. How else do people navigate their stars? I feel the things they do not see, do not believe. I look up at the sky through willowy sea-foam trees and breathe with the clouds as they overtake the vast tender blue. Perhaps I’ll go again, this time alone. Slip into new skin, blossom in the blood of a new creature. All things seem impossible until they’re done and you can do it, too, you know? You can renew yourself, start over, any time you choose. You can begin again as soon as you feel it is time. Don’t wait. Trust yourself. Move your body like soft sweet wind. Let go.

say yes

she opens my hands
my dress
my brokenness
as i collapse inside the winged

starry womb.
smooth sacred alone
in the darkness
bending as shadows

stretch, asleep
resting on the other side of the moon
in me, whisper the mouth of spring meadows.
i drink from her, taste like her,

lie down
my head into the softness
she says:
let me

dismantle you
discover you.
the veins and the rivers
humming softly toward

whatever is next, and i
offer up my secrets, breathe upon the petal
of her skin,
the glass and the scars

the shame and the pain and i
motion alive through tears
fall aching
my way

into
yes.

love at the hem of a girl in flames

it will be years before I can bear the echo
of my own breathing against the walls

in my chest. in the future, childbirth,
photographs together with a man I never knew. a moth

flies backward toward its flame.
I will be well into my thirties before

I stop wondering if I am beautiful
while gazing into the low eyes

of total strangers.
smoke from a single cigarette

stains black rings into the ceiling, I make a mental note:
ash falling up is how to find the girl on fire beneath.

it will be years before I learn
how to heal alone in small slivers of space.

about how the stars are conceived in reverse by
gods tearing slits in the ocean to peer at the earth.

it’s been years since I broke through the silence, or
first pulled on a black dress to

bury a lifetime of bodies
in a hood of dark trees.

I fold my hands beneath my chin as I learn there is a name for everything
except the name I was born inside and cannot stop

repeating. I’m dancing and catching your wounds in my mouth.
unsure if it is love or just finally quiet.

in a way i am still young, still on fire, still losing myself at the soft hands of seasons.
and even though we rise warm like summer mist

as you slide your fingers along my fingers
make love like two shadows, flickers of promise in the evening,

it will be years before we learn
to call each other safety.

my secret, from the skin seeps

breathing dampness, a blue wash of night sky, gray wild
clouds beneath my skin.
i am torn apart from myself.
imagined (standing, multiplying) as two creatures, two beings,

one of flesh, and i, her host.

the body does not contain the ghost
but binds it
to pleasure and pain,
dual prisons.

no matter how you touch me

i am never held.
these evenings slide on quiet desperation.
dark room cells flush with trepidation;
cast away woman, sunken.

terrible the way
love comes
through the walls
speaks softly to the one

who does not pretend
to need her.
i need love.
what an irreverent thing

to say.
to admit.
to embody.

.

Lately I have written a number of pieces about duality. I am having visions and dreams about twinning, cloning, mirroring, being on two sides of the same room at once. Exploring the idea of the life I am living and the one I did not choose, so many times over, walking right beside me always, thus the two shape one another. Perhaps that is what this strange life is, a looking inside of itself. A body and a mind, and a watcher of the body and the mind. Peering in, wondering who we are, and — if we are all connected — who is “other.” 

on reactions to poetry

i’m not convinced i can trust the reactions of most people. or anyone, really. reactions are so often the most senseless kind of expression because they are heavy with preconceived expectation and come from somewhere else, from a past pain or a false look or terrible abuse. people are so full of judgment and distortions. anxieties and confusion. they don’t know what they love and do not love because they are too concerned with listening to all the other people who don’t know either. it seems to me a grave waste of time to try to pull apart their pieces to understand where they are coming from and what they are still tangled up in when they stumble upon my poetry. it’s all just noise and what i am trying to get to is the quiet. inside the body of the writing is the quiet and that’s all i care about. i am busy trying to pull together my own shattered pieces, my own desires and fears. i am busy trying to learn how to really trust myself. because — because at the end of the day, at the end of the poem, at the end of my life, i’m the only one here.

the weight of pale things

as the fading light of evening slinks herself in through my open window, so much lingers and blooms in my heart, my ribs are plush with somber gravity. though whatever this is inside of me does not wish to make itself known in words. not just yet.

a glass of wine.  a cigarette.  i run my fingers smooth across Baudelaire. Dickinson. Nin.  gray dust and centuries suspended in the cooling air.

silence.  not for those in faint condition.

i’m thinking of you as i let go of myself and wonder how long it takes to forget the one who sewed you back together after countless falls. i was torn. that is the only way i know how to tell you i was sorry, that i am sorry. that i was so loathe with greed my eyes saw only your hunger, my body sang only for your resonant ache.

and so the melon sky fades into purple with barely a whisper through the neighborhood.  echoes of bottles, life, static and sadness.

empty sheets and my linen hands still resemble the shape of you.

little lights are coming on all across the globe. and i am quietly remembering a time when i was young and beautiful, and angst ridden and wretched full of poetry but without the words to heal.

where sky becomes wing

i try to get out past that feeling
that you have something
to prove.
as everyone tries to tell you
who you should be,
i seek out that place nobody
can ever own,
no one can ever claim or keep.
not even me.
i know it’s fleeting but i
don’t care.
i want that place where
bone becomes sky,
sky becomes wing.