• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 09
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Untethered

The first rule of losing
The sea is to go blind
On the shore.
The second is to have
No memory of my excavation.
I will abandon myself again
Because I have to.
I will leave this costume
Dark
Shifting
Weightless
For the magician who faltered at a
Series of interruptions.
I will let it swathe the limbs of
The unencumbered.
Obscured in the blue,
I will re-enter a scene of birth.

1

Breathless

For Jo Cox

I would have let you see me
if only you had asked.

I would have looked into your soul
and listened; sama,
the Sufis call it, as they whirl
in whorls of dhikr, remembrance.

Remember me now that I am gone
far away into a muted land,
where my heart’s beats are unsteady
and my eyes are blind.

Something came for me before
I was ready. You came for me,
with knife and gun, the old
and the new; in case one failed,
the other would protect you.

You were scared of me, a girl
who packed toothpaste in summer
and mothered two babies
who know you now, who know
the face of hate

Read more >
2

Intermittent Vision

The abrupt rupture

of the limbs

                   and the elongated faces belonging to a mural:

a dream of superhuman abilities

as skin folds over   eyes and mouths.

 

Tattooed on the

       inside

the stars twinkle

across the dark of

       the body.

 

[this is not entirely uncommon

when seeding amanita ocreata:

0.1 to 0.5 incidence of

nausea, a feeling of coldness

more frequent.]

 

Read more >
3

What You Think is Right

Hello – is there anyone there?
Do what you think is right.
But I can’t see.
Do what you think is right.
I am scared.
Do what you think is right.
Please help me.
Do what you think is right.
I don’t understand.
Do what you think is right.
I am lost.
Do what you think is right.
I am alone.
Do what you think is right.
4

See-through

I see through you,
I need no vision to see
Through
You

A chase
We race
Hard pace
Can’t see your
Face

Untrue through and through
(Hide your face in shame)
Sea of fire, waves of hate
Scalding burning warping raining

Make peace, make waves
Make your way out

One small thing remains
We’re
Through

5

Loria Lotus

Certain moments in life reflect other moments that are hidden too deep in the subconscious. Unusual days of getting arrested in one's dreams and nightmares. Which way? What manner? Did you say that? No. The voice is playing steadily in my head. But I did not say such. I didn't say much. These certain moments reflect a life where watching the TV - the news is a suicide. I asked her why she covered her face this misty Monday morning. She scoffed and said: touch here, my bosom, it hurts. The wind blew the scarf backward in despair. She said again: do you know that my heart has stopped beating? The doctor said I have many years to live but the fence of my life got bombed down by threats. Flying threats from threats from threats from the nation. I am covered so that I can't breathe no more. To let the filthy air pass. To let the blue sky wear a clearer apparel. Don't uncover me.
6

Sage, forest, moss

Sage, forest, moss

Steady with that exercise band.
I am still so in love with that shade of green.

I grew my hair for sage, forest, moss.
Pull tighter because I can still see.

I donated my hair when we left Europe.
They needed it you see.

You can’t get these bands any more.
You told me they were high quality and I didn’t

believe you at first but now I wouldn’t dream
of questioning anything you say.

Could you pull it even tighter please, that’s good, that’s very ...
How did you vote? Oh.

7

Freefalling

You took me under your wing when no one else would look at me. You came on an easterly wind, dressed from head to toe in black, your belt like a whip of amber, too terrible to look at. But look I did. I looked for a long time at the serpent head clasp and wondered whether it hissed and spat venom when no-one was watching. You laughed and said I had a wild imagination but I wasn't imagining things. I saw the serpent blink its large onyx eye at me.

We stole away into the darkest heart of a forgotten forest, where old wives' tales dripped from the devastated branches and crows' feathers littered our way. You told me not to look back, that wasn't important; we must look forward into our future.

My foot struck an upturned root and I fell onto my knees, shredding them, the feathers like obsidian razors. I screamed, turned around and saw the trees closing in like elastic shadows, all stretched out of proportion like liquorice laces.

You hoisted me up onto my feet again, your hands firmly clamped beneath my armpits.

'I told you not to look behind,' you said. A faint rose bloomed across each cheek.

We made it to your hut just as night turned into day. A shadow crossed your face.

'You shouldn't have done that. Now they know what you look like. They'll have committed you to memory.'

'Tell me what I have to do.'

*
Read more >
8

Blindsided

Blindsided by love,
we knew no boundaries.
Those were the visions in my mind,
as I thought of the summer
we shared together.
We got up in the early hours
and just walked hand in hand on the beach
talking about our dreams.
The sun was shining brightly
and our love bloomed
radiantly that summer.
Storm clouds were brewing
in the background,
but nothing
could rain on our parade.

9

Horns Over Hooves

You meet all kinds of women in pubs,
women far different than women
you meet in church on Sunday
when you're in a pew with your wife

which is why I was surprised to hear
this beautiful woman two stools over
ask me if I believed in angels
before I had ordered a drink.

Well, as a matter of fact, I do,
I said, happy to get the small stuff
out of the way before we got down
to business, whatever that might be.

What kind of angels do you believe in,
she smiled and asked, sipping a Guinness.
Well, I believe in seraphim, cherubim,
principals, thrones, dominations, all

the different choirs of angels
listed in the Bible I studied in school.
What about guardian angels, she asked.
Do you believe you have one?

Indeed I do believe I have one, I said,
although I saw no reason why guardian angels
couldn't be women if angels had genders
which as pure spirits they don't have.

Read more >

10

Sea Shalls

The future tense sounds careless
when we speak of tomorrow
as something more real than fog
or a glass wall today runs into

when we least expect it.
Blindfellen, we search
as if we can construct what will
as we deconstructed yesterday’s

bits of dead-end beams and corners
we never did look around.
The future is an unchanging ocean
with a wild surf if we dream it

while the mate in our bed
rides a slack tide.
The future channels no wake
before the boat, offers

no certainties of sky,
is what we look to
when this is not enough,
uncertain where the horizon lies.

11

Rest

I have been running away from this body. Running from the fire in my chest, the exhaust in my lungs. Running from hope, a leash that keeps man from floating too far from a body. I want to return to water, to bring the water in my body to the water in the sea. At the brink would I lie, bring my heart to rest at the shore. And wait for the waves to come and carry me, carry me.
12

Not Dreamlike

To be blind is less cruel than to be born.
To wade unencumbered through air,
is to swim in a greener sea.
These things; they are are only ever music.

The sky around my ears is an old sense,
we suspire, this sky and I,
and the sea, this timeless dancer
only in motion, only for myself.

Let this cold dwindle around me and fall.
Let a wind of water delight,
nurtured by its palm and caress.
Let me see again, and for the first time.

13

How It Happened

I walk to the sea;
flat as rolled steel,
destroyer grey.

Nothing pimples the horizon
but a cruise ship
with its staterooms flying.

A sliver of silk or mist
curls from there to here
on a sea gust.

There’s no avoidance;
it wraps around my head
like a start of shroud.

Who uses cerulean
toilet tissue?

14

Her Faith Is Not Blind

She cannot see the turquoise
Mediterranean, or smell the forgiving
salt in the air. But a bitter breeze

pushes her hijab close to her nose,
the black cloth wrapping darkness
around her face and eyes; over her head.

Her assailants are toying with her
faith, they try to shimmy it down
with guile words and a strap

of stiff cloth cradling her hooded head.
Fear climbs up her legs, torso, and grabs
her around the throat; she shakes

it off. Her mouth will not be silenced.
Once, only the Shahada was uttered
from her lips, but now, only simple prayers

like the ones the Jew would have said
before they hung him, before his enemies
crucified him.

15

My Comfort

The ocean breeze blows the sand into my eyes blinding me, but I don’t care. The sand beneath my bare feet soothes me as I lift my head and let the sun beam down onto my face. I listen to the seagulls sing and watch as they flap their wings searching for prey. The waves ripple onto shore, and then go back out to sea. Children splash their feet and hands in the water while their parents watch on from their beach chairs. This brings me joy. I’m at my calmest here and I don’t want to leave. I haven’t much time left, only three months before the cancer eats away at my body. When summer ends, my life will end too.

My only comfort is knowing I will return to the sea shortly after my death.

16

Binding

first you bind the reversed head
a blind of metafictional revenge
on the body you would torture
or swipe with a Daesh dagger
to take out Isis for begetting Horus
a history played backward
still repeats itself
as seen by the one-eye

a desert tribesman I met once told me
his people had no god
not even nature, under the stars
nothing: the oasis as mirage

and I understood him
how else to explain a multiverse
foul death by other means
in places still unknown
our probe approaches Jupiter
still the harsh old rapist
of a million goddesses
on first looking into Homer

the Trojan Horse is my nuke
for most a mere rebuke
we're carried away by it
pain cannot remember how begun

Read more >

17

of tendencies, the thing about jellyfish is

“i can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart;
i am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat”
purified by reverse osmosis let me make you taste her on my lips
if i’m made of longing resolve last sentences then i’ve been here
before cruise control stabilizes the beast momentarily inversion

i want to finger the strangeness on my cartilage shin bumps
calcium deposits allow the mind to rearrange dust furniture
pick it up and put it down no need to throw it out come filter
defeat’s seduction — feelingless — teach me to survive you
gradients of instability since hot air is less dense absolute

oscillation debt and loopholes lithography of gap teeth
lost of sight balanced with tendriled hair salt appendages
chronotope awareness there’s a certain time and place
where the most painful things are easiest to bear

how did we get on the edge of desire?
all we ever wanted was everything
because we were so close
to wanting nothing

18

Last Night I Had A Dream That Polly Jean Was Our Queen

We are severed: families divided, neighbours made strangers, and our leaders blinded by some uncivil war. From the west, across the paths that scar the gold and green felts, she comes. A Queen in waiting. The Arch High Priestess of a fractured island.
Standing atop her stage, 50 feet high, she looks out to the sea where unfamiliar winds rush in from the continent. With them, arrives a diversity of colours, aromas, and tongues. Behind them follow the ghosts of tens of thousands of children, lost.
These strange gales move not one quill on her crown of feathers. She opens her mouth wide, beckoning the foreign air to fill her lungs and, when she has drunk enough, she raises her golden saxophone to her lips and begins to tell our story.

It is an honest tale of places and peoples forgotten. A tale that weaves the ancient with the progressive. A past and future that has become a forgotten country, laid down in the vibrations of the reeds.
And with each note she plays, England shakes.
19

Ailsa

Standing on the cliffs,
above a hissing sea,
Ailsa looked around,
looked down,
the seagulls shrieked.

She lost herself in the sea green glow,
broken shells in her hand
like broken dreams I know.
She covered her face,
lay down,
soul unbound.
With scruffy clothes and
without a penny,
blocking out hitch-hiker memories.

Ailsa, I have known you all along.
Ailsa, I heard you sing your song.
Ailsa, what did you do wrong?

She raced back down to the shore.
With her clothes still on,
she stormed in the chilly water.
Everything that happened to her,
every scream for help,
every tear,
vanished with all the echoes,
vanished from here.

Read more >

20

How to walk blindfolded/ Or make a general mess of things

I asked you a question

but
you did not answer.

The sea

a film around us. Blue,

                everything was blue.

The air smelled like cannabis,
                and I wondered,
if this was a dream or merely something like it. Everything was fresh,

alive

a blinding blue lightness.

                Everything hurt.

I asked again, and you dodged.
We were talking of unicorns.

The sky was skin, unbroken and without blemish
                your teeth skimmed the surface, and I

dipped into scars.

we were together
                separate
Read more >

21

FOREPLAY AT THE OASIS

It reminded me of a long strip of duct tape,
perhaps one that stretched around the world
like a YouTube video gone viral.

Unsuspecting, you gave him a head with hair,
"long, beautiful hair",
and for me you pretended to be blind--
not in the way you really were,
but in the way you insisted love should be.

Like a lightning bolt out of the blue,
like the flash of a sword out of nothingness,
like the foreplay before the beheading,
like a sudden awakening,
it was all gone--at least for you.

If Love is all there is, nothing else matters.
How can anyone be an Infidel?

To your hearts both of you have been faithful,
even as your heads go spinning off
into disintegrating galaxies.

22

Inner Vision

You deny me my sight.
Yet my inner vision and my other senses heighten.
My hearing, though muffled, is still intact.
I hear the sounds of the sea as it laps against the shore, licking the pebbles, washing them clean before sand
and murky inshore waters can coat them once again.
I hear the seagulls calling to me as they fly overhead.
I can picture them as they dive for food and soar on the air currents.
I hear the laughter of children as they play on the beach.
Some experiencing it for the first time.
I smell the sea, with it's odours of fish, seaweed and fishing boats.
As well as the seaside cafe's offering bacon rolls and chip butties, I can almost taste them.
Yet I taste the salt in the sea air as the sea breezes
find my lips.
Though I am blind,
I have all this.
I thank God for the magic of the seaside and the knowledge.
That I will see again.
23

Blindfolds

I am blindfolded
to the world around me
I can only smell
truth dwelling lightly
on the air
I am closed to the senses
that usually mean most to me
cannot feel the consequence
below my feet
like being on an old
Ferris wheel dangling over
a river that is closer than
it seems
waiting to fall or feel
a flash of teeth
or be led into a desert
where I will be alone
for many days.
24

Baring my Soul

Sand is resistant to my feet,
Teasing tight muscles in my thighs
As I brave the boisterous breeze
Buffeting distinctive smells of salt and life.
Through a pall of blue spray
The sun burns bronze, then vanishes altogether;
I close my eyes on the drab despair of weather,
Listen to screaming gulls spill into the sea
And the whistling of the wind that chafes me,
A reminder of the unpredictability of time and space.
I stand firm as a lighthouse and embrace
The rippling in my clothes and hair,
Throw out my arms and take off in the air,
Sweeping over fields and dunes,
Singing soulful unearthly tunes,
Baring my soul to earth and sky
In one liquid, sobbing cry.
25

Memory In Advance

It’s all shades of green and heartache.
Muted to let the air out. I keep telling
myself this isn’t it. But you’re farther
than the horizon and I can’t stop
this slow procession across the shore.
If only there were some sort of explanation
a story we could share among friends
of the time we let the wind take our breath,
that soft percussion hinting at so much more.

26

Girls Made of Poems

every thirty-two seconds, a new poem is born
this specific poem emerges out of her forehead
grows and pulsates indigo grey
elevates itself to a massive light-dressed ball

in her poem, she finds herself
in varied stages of sculpting bodies & erasing
faces with poem friends who
adopt ethereal names like Biscuit, Kitty, Dastard

in her poem, she does the same nonsensical
things like in real life
now she traces infinity signs with a sparkle in her mouth
now, her actions have deep meanings

halfway through the poem, she expects to run into kids
who act like creeps, but instead they play dodge ball
(the ball is a bent unicorn with a symbolic overbite)

unlike other poems, this poem does not
care for her to inspect or cut open her body, let alone
swallow moist, starchy objects, so she can
dissolve to evergreen landscapes

her poem walks her to the post office and
calls up a storm
the wind spins her around, scrapes the sky
red with her hair

what are you doing, poem?

(poem does not owe her anything)

Read more >
27

Lover Killer

Spare her oh spare her
blinding her eyes
will not snuff out life
even as tresses protest
even as she is blinded
spare her eyes
spare her face
but spare her the blindness
that is hard to see inner, outer
ghosts of life
spare her this tyranny
spare her this irony
for you are blind
you masquerading
as lover killer.

28

Battles

Hindsight is a wonderful thing
— useless, but wonderful

When you look back like an invited guest in your own life and then you can see yourself
what you messed up what others messed up for you
— a bird's eye view of the heart's labyrinth

The mind meanders through
your teens, twenties, thirties
every twelvemonth safely kept and yet out of sight
folded like dry petals inside your breast pocket

Hindsight is wonderful, useless
an amusement for a rainy day when
being distracted by the banalities of others on live TV
just won't do

I took a walk down Memory Lane
I stumbled on a few loose cobbles
I have enough wind on my sails to push me ahead

without a doubt

The knot is undone. The hair, down
and longer now than it's been for a while
All around some kind of emotional ground zero, turquoise

The heart howls in crimson

And for some welcome reason I lost touch with my mania —
ill fitted coats once worn in my mind.
All thoughts now wander unclad

Read more >
29

Halter Head

I am prevented from going beyond here.
All my life I wanted to go further than the present would allow.

Bound by past experience — a worry band,
tethered my thoughts
pretended rational thinking.

Now it bites my eyes,
Blinded by this veil —
I perceive nothing.

I can search for the future
Or break free from the ties.

Because I see my limitations,
Could this mean I see who I am —
and then the tethering disappears?

Let me see...

30

Three out of four

It was the sea that blinded me, not you. I must say that first. Otherwise this photo will fill you with disgust, and perhaps fear for me, though you know I am fine. How can I make you understand what you were, how it was with us? The way this image sums us up perfectly, yet you were not violent, did not bind me or blind me. You were saving me, though you didn’t know from what.

The elements owned me, always. As a child I would make bookmarks, boats, anything I could fathom out of paper, all emblazoned with one of those mystical symbols: yellow flame, green hunk of moss, blue wave, lilac swirl of air. There was a purity to them, a simplicity.

In church I would sit in the backroom where they did the children’s liturgy and instead of listening to tales of Peter and Paul I would gaze into the candle flame, amazed by its shape-shifting, its elusiveness. I would savour and swallow the smell of the wax, feel it set my heart racing like a rabbit’s. I would go home and run my hands through the clumps of moss that choked our flowerbed, feeling shivers down my spine as I imagined lying in it, falling asleep, waking frozen and anchored to the ground, pulled down into the depths of the earth.

And who doesn’t love air? Smokers, I thought as a teen. I hated having to squeeze as far from them as I could on the bus, dodging them at shop entrances. At parties I could sit in a fug for only minutes before I had to escape outside to gasp lungfuls of freshness. It felt like a gift. But at the end of the day I am a Cancer, a water sign. I would annoy my parents by staring at a running tap for hours, before a worn hand would bear down and turn it off. I learned to be more respectful to the planet. But then … I met the sea.

Read more >
31

Sirens

Cover my face completely, obscuring it from their hypnotic gaze; they must not recognise me.

Seal my ears with beeswax so that no sound, however exquisite, can penetrate and weaken me.

Fill my mouth with strong mint so that their sweet flavours cannot whet my appetite and make me hunger for them.

Block all vision from my eyes with bands of silk so that no image can slither beneath my lids and bewitch me.

Swaddle me securely in bolts of linen so that I am numb to their touch, immune to soft caresses.

Allow me only the meanest trickle of air to keep my breath alive.

Then, in my cocoon, lash me to the mast and set me adrift.

32

Sphinx

There are secrets behind her veil
of hair and silk
that separate reality
from myth
her flesh from hieroglyph
a woman, a goddess perhaps,
keeping her knowledge to herself
and her life a riddle
of metaphors
disguised as truth—
hers is the face that hides
the history of her race
and the knowledge
of what will come.

33

blinding indifference

we have become blinded
blinded by chaos and indifference
politically and personally
in a world gone awry
leaders leading us into
the darkness of division
divide and conquer their motto
divide with walls of contempt
and fear of differences
weapons of mass destruction
sold to the tune of children's play
schools and churches offer no sanctuary
from the shrapnel of hatred
as roaming vests of death
wander freely through
the clouds of chaos
their indifference to life
exploding into slivers of flesh
children playing on the beach
become targets of missiles of hate
and indifference
and each bombing or shooting
each mass murder bring momentary outrage
and then the darkness clears and the memory
is erased by denial and indifference
and still the crowd roars — thumbs up
yes — we are blinded
and we are bound to death
by indifference...

34

Chapters

“Let’s play hide and seek,” she says.

She’s been lost to me for so long, I wouldn’t know where to start looking.

She’s trying hard, though. Trying to inject some fun, some humour, some games into our lives. She’s read that book about kick-starting your relationship. I found it under her side of the bed, a side that seems to have become both bigger and smaller and definitely further away. The games are from Chapter Four.

Chapter One prompted self-reflection. She’s a master of that, so she sped read and skipped and found herself at Chapter Two - List Making: One column for the good, one for the bad, make a tally and see how things are going. I knew, without seeing the list, that it hung heavily to one side. Chapter Three suggested we talk our problems through. She licked her fingers and scurried those pages away without reading, looking for an easier answer.

So here we are at Chapter Four and Fun and Games. I’m not supposed to know about the book, the chapters, what she’s skipped, what she’s deemed important. Right now I’m meant to find her spontaneous, captivating, like she was when we first met. Except she was never any of those things.

She’s determined to do this, wants me to hide first, hands me the scarf to obscure her vision, as if she saw anything clearly before.

Maybe I should try. One more chance. One more time. One more night.

Read more >
35

The End Times

I have a thought I almost
                follow:

if a tree falls
     in a drowned forest, will it float?

and will anyone be left to tether to it?

       Bobbing to the newly polished surface,
                       of a world refusing
                              progress.
Like a body, its dark mass
                                  comes up water-logged and wreathed
in sea weed,

shining its undone braids.

                                       This fear is white as bloodletting.
                    I can feel the ice translating itself
       into an unspeakable something
else.

          What I’m faced with
is faceless. So what can I do but push,
                                                   push:
                  off and out,
into thoughts that don’t have me.

                    The weird light of that narrowed cell.
                                         (Or is it without walls?)

Read more >

36

The Power of Waves

“Close your eyes,” he said. I smiled inwardly as he tied the slip of silk; we’d played this game before. A longing had come over me, as it did every summer. A yearning for wide open skies and crashing waves; a desire for freedom. As he led the way, the warmth of the sun embraced me. I heard the crunch of shingle, felt the give of sand beneath my feet. I listened to the wind’s roar as it caressed my hair. Licking the salt from my lips, I wiped the spray from my face. When the silk slid from my eyes I contemplated the power of waves and waited for them to recharge my soul.

37

Anchor

I am tethered, masked
taped by you. Your soul
wraps around my head,
sticks to the porcelain
of my face. Smothered
by a chemical bond, I
stretch from you, fail
to escape the halting
reins of your embrace.
My eyes are bound in
blackness, ears full of
absence, and I lament
the stolen ocean scent
with a muffled salt moan.

38

What Wonders to Behold

“Do you trust me?”
“No.”
“Well, hell, girl, this plan isn’t exactly off to a roaring start.”
“I’m teasing, silly, of course I trust you. I let you drive me all the way out here to heaven knows where with this stupid thing covering my eyes the whole time, didn’t I? Are we there yet? This isn’t as much fun since we parked. I’m getting tired of walking.”
“Almost. Just another few miles or so.”
“What?!”
“Don’t stop! I’m joking. Yeah, we’re just about there. Two more minutes, I swear.”
“Where are we going, babe?”
“I didn’t tell you the first five thousand times you asked. What makes you think I’ll spill the beans this close to the surprise?”
“Fine, fine. This better be good though. I’m starting to get all sweaty.”
“Yeah, that was part of my plan. You’re so sweet and sexy when you’re sweaty.”
“My, my, aren’t you feisty all of a sudden?”
“Please. You know you love it.”
“Maybe. A little bit. But this trek is starting to lose you points in a hurry!”
“Then it’s a good thing we’re here! OK, give me your hand so I can guide you across this cliff.”
“I don’t think so! I’m not blindly crossing some…”
“There’s no cliff. Settle down. You just need to step up on this rock with me. It’s perfectly safe, I promise.”
“OK. How high up are we anyway? Where are we?”
“Drum roll please! You ready for the big reveal?”
“Yes! It’s about time.”
“Sure?”
Read more >

39

The Ocean’s Edge

Blindfolded at the ocean's edge,
I can't seem to find my place,
Distanced from the chirping chatter
no longer society's friend.
I've tasted the vacant outlook,
The belly of unrest,
Perhaps it's the belly of the whale
that leads to finding faith again?
I can't seem to find any shells
to gather upon this jaded shore,
I've been blinded for so long,
Now I'm longing to find myself,
My essence,
Not the apple, but its core.
Costumes I've worn, recycled identities
formed in fear of rejection.
The blindfold, I created,
Now I'm creating its undoing,
Arms at my side, ready to dive into freedom.
Losing the mask,
Losing the Blindfold.

40

Wilful Blindness

See.
This much I think I understand: you cannot shield your eyes from it. The world. The chaos. The relentless grey. Though wilful blindness offers comfort of a sort. The caress of silk on skin, the swaddling of tender eyes, the sense that good will prevail if you just turn away a while. Just wait. Just hope. But beyond the cocoon, the world still exists. And it will find a way, it always finds a way, to slip between the cracks. To permeate.

Hear.
This much I think I understand: the roar of a mob does not dissipate. Anger is always carried by the wind and yes, it gathers volume in echo chambers. But a roar is an expression of something. And it is not always hate. Or rage. Or misunderstanding. And you plug your ears to it at your own peril. So listen.

Taste.
This much I think I understand: bitterness is a residue that clings. It is never truly washed away. It erodes, decays, bores down to the roots and if you are not careful runs to poison. You must swallow it down and swallow hard, allow your gut to get to work on it. Break it down, without blood or rancour.

Touch.
This much I think I understand: an embrace is always welcome. Skin on skin, nerves firing, the rush of endorphins to the brain. It can promote quiet contemplation. A moment's reflection. It is a sense which knows no colour. Red, white, blue. Brown, yellow, pink. It does not matter. So reach out. It does no harm.

Read more >
41

We Played our Blinder

I’m looking in.
        I want to see what’s inside because I hope it will be clearer, there.
And now they’re coming, the voices.
Now they’ve come, the people.
They’re every shape and size. They wear every colour and design. They call out to each other. They understand each other even though their words are different. They have come, they say, for a great celebration. They’ve brought food and they tell each other how they grew their ingredients, how they prepared them, to what festivals and name days they belong.
Round tables are laid with fluttering tablecloths, glasses, plates and cutlery of all shapes and sizes. Chairs of all sizes and shapes wait. The people find their places, all of them, all so different, but all together. They fill their glasses and their cups and they lift them. They turn to face in the same direction, towards me or, as I understand, from their beckoning welcoming gestures, towards us.
There are many of me, of us, on the outside.
But we are doubleblind: eyeblind and earblind.
We face them but we refuse to see them.
We were invited but we did not come.
We leave ourselves on the outside.
We played our blinder.
42

black blood is on the move

the ice the ice is blue
velveteen rabbits, guinea pigs and parties for everyone where you now live let's cheer
can you see me?

over the deepest water some perch on metal made from oil and fear
and here
we slaughter sharks because they frighten our loins
a five letter word with alphabets of wisdom and beautiful blindness
skin stretching over the earth, veins, arteries in and out
over its crevices of waiting, wandering, wondering, watching

all of us are sheltering from the outlandish stupidity of now

Dana holds the guinea pig with the Elvis quiff in her right hand and sniffs. Sleet drips across its fur. She reaches into her pocket for her penknife and removes its left eye from the socket, and then the right. Black blood is on the move. She wraps her scarf around the lifeless rodent's head and drinks in how easy it is not to see sight, feeling, promise.

'Can you see me now?' she asks the guinea pig. 'Can you see parites and fun and suggles and running around in circles? Do you ever close your eyes and watch me?'

The animal stays still. But the frozen berries of blood are so pretty against the snow, so pretty that she whispers, 'I'm still wearing your ring. And once, just one time, I believed you were here. And yet, you never showed up.'

43

ABSTRACT PROPOSAL

“A wig?”

A long one, same colour as Kristy’s … and a dark ribbon.” He paused to consider, then held his hands apart in rough estimation. “About yay broad … and yay long.”

Tammy retreated delicately behind the counter and pulled a moue. “Should I ask?”

Connor blushed. “It’s nothing freaky.”

“Maybe the manager would be–”

Connor stepped forward and whispered. “Oh come on, Tammy, there may be a heck of an age gap, but I’m not a friggin psycho.”

Tammy’s hand strayed towards the alarm.

Connor stepped back and gave her distance. He’d obviously misinterpreted faux amiability for friendship. He had no idea Tammy was this paranoid or had such a low regard for him.

He’d never really got ‘life’: that no-one was playing “by the rules” but him – or had a different rule book which dictated that his actions be judged by what they would do – and why – in the same position.

It should have been obvious that if he could opt to give the benefit of the doubt; they could think the worst. Physics really, he mused … equal and opposite reactions in equilibrium. But he wasn’t a physicist. He was an idealist who retained all that child-like hope and optimism for present and future. Maybe it was a generation gap thing.

Tammy was eyeing him suspiciously, but still hadn’t sounded the alarm … unless it was a silent one.

Jeez, now she has me paranoid.
Read more >

44

Until We Are All Free

If only they were tangible,
These things that hold us back.
If they could be easily unpicked, undone,
Broken apart, torn to pieces.
If we had something clear and visible to attack.
At times we did not even feel
Their advancement until
They were at our throats.
And then as we choked we were told
They are not real. You imagine the bonds, my dears.
Of course you are free.

These things that hold us back ripple and change.
They restrain us in different ways.
Never think that we don't fight
And never think that we don't fear and cry
For strangers in the night.

45

The Rupture

Double blind, bound by fear
At the edge of the world
Unable to look
To see
To know

Yet even so the tide is turning
Against blinkered cold-linened convention
Eroding the shell
Exposing the heart, the essence
The mask at last
Cast adrift

And the pulse senses
The rupture coming
Beats to a faster rhythm
Straining against grey mediocrity
Splitting the black-veiled void
Ready to leap into the blue

46

COLLISION COURSE

I watch the seasons of your locks,
and ache to embrace when doldrums weigh.
I love your eyes, yet my past mocks
when I fear to hold your welcome gaze
and skirt the colour they encase.

I want to touch yet dread the burn:
the searing rejection surely there.
Perhaps the HC owned by CERN
could make us whole somewhen, somewhere,
or get me out of your sweet hair.

47

Blind

'Aye, that way goes the game': Shakespeare
knew a thing or two about humanity.

King Lear: Act IV. Gloster, eyes gouged out
by enemies, is led to the precipice.

Following blindfold, obscured behind the treachery
of a taut bandana, all our faceless Eves,

entrapped by games of Blind Man's Bluff
played out at the edge of the cliff

48

Decanter

I see the sea. The pink sea-anemone's arrays
tossing clownfish in and out.
It is transparent, despite squids' and worms' rattles.
Monster's slyness doesn't muddy the sea.
I see. Its scent rise like the spray of colors shot upward,
a bridge between the two extremes.

I cannot see, what this bridge hinges to.
I am told that it is Paradise,
The home of God.
But what about the stench of blood, sight of strewn bodies
that adorn the lining of the sea? Do these reach him?

Scents from Brussels, Baghdad, Turkey, Dhaka.

Obfuscated into Ghosts of reflections.

Blindfolded?
I can no more see young girls playing at beach.
My youth witnesses the gut-churning anatomy of mankind,
as it gets washed down the shore
in form of thousand 3-year olds, at
mile-stretch of beach.

I only see the how faith congeals discriminately,
how tummies go empty for weeks and months,
how hell rewards in yearning for Life,
to survive for another second.

Does he see these too?

49

a different shade of blue

It was Monday. The lack of drones in my morning bus ride surprised me. Two minutes later, there was a same numbered bus in front of us at the traffic light. I turned my head to the left. Dawn was springing a visual treat. The clouds were tame but the naive orange caused a bit of stir on the horizon; creating a different shade of blue. Nobody noticed though. Nobody does anymore. They are all well-fed.

During breakfast my Dad tried to converse with me from the kitchen. He said, after living for seventy-one years, he was sick of eating chicken. Just the thought of chickens made him lose his appetite. I didn't reply him. Instead, I closed my eyes and tried to envisage a future without him in my life. I couldn't. All I could was imagine his lips turn to blue.

50

Creeping

"If you never say your name out loud to anyone they can never ever call you by it". Regina Spektor speaks the truth. You told me once that names were crucial. You said that quote as you told me to protect myself. That was the moment I created my new world. A world where the sun shines not only on Sunday. A world where birds flutter in the back yard and wake me up, where owls coo me to sleep. Where the water is blue and warm on a cold day, cool on a hot one. Where there are cotton candy clouds decorating crystal blue skies. Where people don't deceive. Where the strawberries in the back garden bloom year-round and the blueberries growing over the fence are the sweetest you've ever tasted.

I created that world to contradict what my world before had turned into. Imagine standing in a large room alone. And one by one people start coming in until you're suffocating and drowning and the people are just too loud, too loud. Imagine sitting on the ocean floor, not deep enough to be devoid of light, not shallow enough to stop your toes from going numb. Imagine fighting to stay afloat in an ocean of unknowns.

I flee, let the weeds grow through the garden. Abandon.

This is me. Before, walking from my failed sand castle. Now, escaping sadness, but not running far enough to stop it from creeping back. Then, abandoning the home, only to flee from the living.

This. This is me.

51

The Swaddling

‘I’m serious Ginny; please don’t get mixed up with him again!’ Tamsin pleaded, rocking her sister’s baby; as if this tiny life represented the sum of all possibilities; humans need humans. Ginny contemplated her buxom sister - Tamsin was always the more ‘mothering’ type, her hips announced it thus; whereas she seemed to lie in a continual state of malnourished fortitude. The baby was an accident; his force majeure; now she was considering going back to him; a devoir decision. She wanted - no - she needed male dominance, and Frank knew all about that; her sister could only offer a level playing field.
‘He’s no good Gin, I said that all along. Do you really want your babba surrounded by cigarette butts an’ old beer cans?’ Tamsin warned, aware of her sister’s quixotic vision when it came to men and that such a fragile creature would succumb; even to the detriment of her baby. Ginny shrugged. The baby didn’t mean anything to her, it was simply a crying egg that grew bigger and commandeered her life.
‘I know - you keep her! You’re better at it anyway!’ Ginny pronounced, before thrusting hands in her pockets adding shape to her stick body. Tamsin had already considered this in the early hours of morning; playing bonds-woman to the crying infant. The long wraps of the gray winding sheet, the swaddling, overwhelming desire to protect her sister, to bind her from herself; yet in the knowledge that she could save only one.
52

the sea got over it soon

must it willnots.

i have waited. ad nauseum. waited for this fucking blue to turn cantaloupe of the
burning end of this smoke.
only a hand raised in dillydallying.
only some prunes gone pretty rot.
only a mast sailed leaving the oars to the grey.

all I have known is waiting to become. whatgivestowhoami.
the end will not dole well the undoings.

53

The Sea Calls Me

I have always been curious about the sea.

My mother drowned to her death on my third birthday, after which Pa vowed never to let us taste the salt of the sand again. "Evil, evil, that water!" he would shout, sometimes in his sleep, other times when Michael asked if we could go play on the beach.

I did not bother him. After all, mother remained alive in the sand I had been preserving in the bottles on my windowsill. You see, every year, on the third of March, I see her. I hear her, too. She swims to the shore and summons me to her side, her hair taking on the colour of the sand. She never grows old.

It is true what they say about water; it has no foes. I know this because the water never fails to send mother to me on my birthday.

If you look closely at the bottles, you will notice that the sand never looks the same. Mother comes to me with a handful—grace, she calls it. Last year, she said, "You will come to understand soon."

Today, I turn 24. The tide is low this evening, and the Sun seems to be at peace with the waves. Mother is not here yet, and I have run out of space on the window. Perhaps the time has come.

I am going to meet her.

These bottles should be sufficient for Pa.

54

FUTURE HISTORY

an unmarried woman
or maiden
had her hair unbound
falling about her shoulders
as an invitation
and a signal

her ambition to bind
her hair her life
to another

this girl — hair bound
but falling free
about her shoulders
blindfolded by hair
and binding black as fate
all ambition gone

her hair her life
shortly to be taken
by another

55

Art? Satire? Mood?

1. Painting

Abstraction of life
Blindfold dissecting calm blues
Curves and blocks share space.

2. Politics

There was a young lady, blindfolded
By 'leaders' who spun how they told it.
'Take back control!
Regain Britain's soul!'
But it turned out they'd already sold it.

3. Peace

As wind tugs on paper,
Hair batters her face
And thorns of cold dart through her,
She exults in her hard-won space.

56

Bound

I am pulled back into
Something, though I don't
Know what, quite.
It is the force of history
Dragging me back,
To old habits, a familiar taste, a place
I keep on leaving,
Things I cannot seem to
Work out, no matter how hard I try.

If you think about an impossible puzzle
Too long, too much,
It can drive you to...
Despair, distrust,
Misplaced rage, turned
Inwards, turned outwards.
I put that book away once.
I am not taking it out again.

57

When where it is we’re going, stays still

If I
         turn toward
what light understands I
   will forget
how silence
recalls darkened
   mirrors, their
hallucinating hands
     dressing and
   reconfiguring what
       my mouth only says
     facing east of my
         venerations. I can-
     not contort my spine
       away from the allegory
       of this hour’s fragmentary
         teaching. Covered, I
         contemplate: this
           is the worded braid
         taut within angled
             hands, unable,
           as with parental
               precepts to
                 unravel into
                     winged
                 independence,
Read more >

58

Blindfold

For I have seen all the players make a mockery of love
shelter my eyes, let my mind only imagine the answers
For I have heard all boys and girls speak the way it should be
cover my ears, let my semi-circular canals know such a peace
For I have tasted all the culinary recipes that make a war
let my tongue not waggle such provocation into this world
For I have touched the oceans of thought, so called reasoning
let my finger prints rest on yours and feel the memory of love
For I know the smell of albertine roses and orange blossom
let me feast on all these pretty things here in the darkness

59

Brown is the Colour of my True Love’s Hair

some refuse a blindfold
for it defeats the object of looking out to sea
to view an extra dimension
rather than a sense
though there is merit too in minimising
reducing the senses
to muted hearing
smell as if you have a cold

some would say this is necessary
where due to austerity measures
there is no music
perhaps a passing humpback whale
whose song is a definition
of sensuality in another element
caught truly by Japanese Noh
where a ribbon can depict an ocean
as a non-representation of reality
and its opposite as mere water
and a lover's long straight hair
as strings of fine seaweed
with its own stranglehold over her face

there must be a reason
why conditions are wrapped up like this

60

Do The Math

Five dollars will buy
Acetaminophen gels—
Two-hundred count, at the corner store.
How many headaches worth?
Do you think you can do the math?

If I pull the tape
I might lose two hundred hairs,
Well, what's a few hairs between old friends?
The average daily loss
Is about half that, without tape.

61

Silk

What ties us to this world, this life?
I have cut my long dark hair.
I remember, I remember riding in your car, riding the heat wave, the shimmer on the highway. The sky was wrapped in gray clouds. The wind was cool as rain. I had my hair tied back in a yellow paisley scarf, how it played and danced in the air. How suddenly it slipped, flew out the window, and I looked back to see the astonished face of the driver as it brushed against the windshield of his truck. Then it soared into a nearby field, high into the sky—and it was gone.

Now the years fly by like a light silk scarf,
The days drip like rain, like ripe mulberries.

62

It Lingers

I can see them;
the dreams of gods and men alike
hidden in the place where
wild horses roam.

I can smell them;
the words of beautiful dead things
shifting between our conscious
and our desire.

I can feel them;
the hearts of spectres,
the unborn thoughts of decaying artists,
they all say the same thing:

Live in the hours before the dawn,
when the moon is soft
and the sun has melted.

Live in the space between days,
where birds speak in
watercolor tongues.

Live where love makes itself known
to the clouds.
Live softly. Live like rain.
Live like the Aurora Borealis.

All of this lingers.

63

Defending Mara’s Mop

She goes into her hair to think—a lot,
my daughter’s first grade teacher tells me,
wearing a puckered grin. Her own hair
is bluntly cut, train to fall in line behind
her ears. Her high hairline makes her look
perpetually aghast, which she seems to be now,
thinking about my daughter’s hair. I know
how it looks, having seen Samara like this
a million times before, shutting out the world,
a thick curtain of dark hair framing her face
as she reads or falling so far across her forehead
only a single blue eye peeks out as she daydreams.
I can picture her in the classroom, sitting alongside
the other just so girls who do not have to be asked
to remove the rope of hair from their mouth. I’m forever
threatening to cut it off, to style it myself each morning
no matter how much she protests. But again and again
I discover I don’t really care, that this is just
what I say when I feel the world leaning in, looking past
the child with hair as wild as an animal’s pelt
to the mother who ought to teach her about decorum,
smooth her out and doll her up, subdue her
through beauty lessons. I assure the teacher
that we’ll work on this but I know already
that I’m lying. I won’t play Delilah. I’ll let her
have her untamed hair. I will love her wild.

64

On the Ocean’s Edge

You can block my view—
steal away the sea’s shimmer,
shield its dance toward horizon’s edge.

You can muffle the wave’s roar,
the slap-clap splash upon slick rock,
the giggling giddiness of children.

You can silence my exclamation,
retard my song, ignore my awe,
watch me choke on my own tresses.

I’m not here to make you listen.
I’m not here to make you see.
I’m merely here to feel thankful

for each grain of sand between my toes.

65

Free

Blinded by my own thoughts
Until you sought to blind me with yours.
I thought I had no place, no space, no name, no plan,
Until you sought to bind me with yours.
In this action of yours,
Unasked for, unwarranted, unwanted,
I found my sight, my vision, my place, my space, my name.
I have a plan.
To take the cover off your eyes,
To make you look at the world with mine,
To make you hear my sound,
To turn your thoughts in a new direction.
That you may see the world as I now do,
Blinded and held by you,
I am free.
Can free you
and help you see.
66

Doors

Water is not a stagnant thing on an afternoon
when everything is dying
People here keep finding last doors into pleasure
in strange rituals
They become butterflies. No metamorphosis.
Just bodies distorting
their voices,

streams
seeking lost boundaries,

In the morning
we will settle for climatic secrets
but today is for the smell of onions
turning
on my hands
and the sound of feet we wait for that do not arrive.

67

No Longer Wait

My fireworks are cheap
and damp,
To disguise my shame
I fire them into
A blazing sun and my cocktails
Are green and slow,
To quench their thirst
I serve myself,
and older now,
I put things down
Less quietly and for politeness sake
No longer wait
To lead solitude
To my table.
68

A Mask of Faith

To be blind to the world,
a blessing or a curse.
To see to perceive the workings of it,
what do we know?

To see all,
the day the night and the between.
To judge with one's eyes,
to learn to feel to understand.

Our world is not flat,
nor is it round,
it is layered liked a cake,
with frosting and all.

To be ignorant, to be aware,
To be lead by a shepherd
false or true.
Which path to take?

With eyes closed or blocked,
by leap of faith,
wisdom
or blind loyalty.

To live life as it is,
given to us
with a nice coating of cream and sugar
or do we look deeper.

Read more >

69

The Sentient Being

There was something destructive in the air.
Sullen and tepid, it was slinking through a mist unseen and unheard and had found a way to break its own mould within a matter of minutes. It figured there was a purpose to all the meandering around towns.
Break. Stop. Break. Stop. Bre...
Stop.
A lone shore and a stony silence. Yet, it seemed like there was a call. Not to me or to you, but it. The sense of a deep cry- wanton, and in all probability, something that needed its help. Slinking and shifting through in its shark-like movement, it approached the realm.
Stop.
Why, this was not a call at all!
This was a nightmare.
It was now breathing in fast gulps, its first breath taken in fear.
F-e-a-r.
Alarm with its unknown and undiscovered senses, it backed away and found the escape. Enchantment!
Enchantment! For the first time, it heard its unheard voice- as a scream in its head. Sensing feeling for the first time, it moved backward in short, broken stops.
(Break. Stop. Breath.)
Just before it could turn its back, it was caught tightly, drenched in the downpour and pulled back as if on a leash. Pulled back, almost stoned to feeling...gathered and pulled into embrace.
An embrace of heat pouring through and encasing its very being. In short spasms, the senses broke down to compounds and it felt fear and hope for the first time.
Felt for the first time. For the first time. First time. Time.
Fear. Break. Stop. Feel. Embrace....You.Me.It.
70

Beyond Washed Stars

She is swept by wind and blind
as snow, and she sits on a bench
that overlooks the sea. Hers is
a salt-soaked throne facing
the horizon and its prism sky.

And she stares. Steady as
a pointing stick. Colourless.
Looking beyond what I see.
Beyond a sculptor's marble.
Beyond the washed stars.

And like chinless men who
stroke their beards, she keeps
her eyes closed, tight as fists.
And why, I wonder, would
a blind person close their eyes.

And I watch her sitting calm
as half-light at sunset, her hair
a tangling mane in the wind,
and if my manners were not
an obstacle, and if I were not

raised to keep myself to myself,
I would've asked her if this
wind-rushed scenery feels like
a confined space, a dark womb,
and does the sea sound like

Read more >

71

What We Forget

Even with eyes open,
we are blind
to what the sea can tell us:
breathe deeply,
make waves,
tread lightly on sharp stones.

We forget how soft our hands are –
how tender our feet.
The calloused palm cannot
possibly sense every nuance of hurt –
every heart left mourning.

So we walk forward,
heal wounds,
seek the tick-tock beat
of other broken hearts.
To truly find ourselves,
we must use the salve of spirit –
walk into the vast ocean,
not with fear on our lips,
but with love –
the kind of love
where even the soft slip
of silk against skin
causes a ripple of feeling
and a song –
a trembling that can be heard
as deep as
the forgotten Atlantis.

72

Bondage

When I am blind
to the ocean’s blue, the endless sky,
my darling will you cut
a length of turquoise cloth?

Bind it gently around my face, hair, head;
block out the light completely.

Then, lift a scallop shell to my lips
so I can taste the water’s brine.

Make me stand just so and lean
into the sound of breaking surf.

Unbutton my white linen dress
and guide me into the sea;
knee deep and shivering from a soaked hem
as spray plays upon bare skin.

If you wrap these limbs with love,
I will let you softly drag
my body along the horizon;

to help me understand
how definitely water meets air,
without a drift of apology
for it’s being there.

73

Wane

You tie me up, lead me here
to the curve of the world
to the end of the land
but who is leaving who? The earth
is crumbling, salt
tempts the air, chills it
the sea sways toward us,
then away. Away.

You step back, waver.
Must I carry you too?

If the tears I cry are part of me
do I let them go?
Watch the memory of your touch
slide down my nose, the way
the sun lightened your hair
drip then
pool at my feet, the
dance of my teeth across
your back, a constellation of
skin and freckles and blood
rising to the surface,
the story of my name
Read more >

74

Memories of a Childhood Game

Remember playing blindfold as a kid?
One of us would be blindfolded
in the garden or a room
and made to run, catch someone.

The next time we did it,
was sexually, up on your bed,
tied
the body feeling, tactile pleasures.

Do you remember? Do you remember?

When the pleasures of the body
succumbed to our habits, it was a child's
game we played.

What did mom and dad think
when they saw us play blindfold
in childhood, you think?

75

Apatheia

Drifting through the border of ideas
In search of a hook
To help me catch apatheia...
Hunters and prey are in a distance
But persistent shadows are getting near...
Oppression is a condition that offers me happiness
It's better to be a victim now, but feel free later.
Go on, drag me to the edge of culmination
One step, two steps,three steps towards evaporation...
Towards Apatheia.
76

Head Binder

If I could blindfold you
I’d cut your hair to your nape
puff it out with a back comb
sweep your fringe off to the side
Let it soften the wilderness in your eyes.

I’d paint your lips matt bubble gum
lather them with a high finish gloss,
let your spirit jolt with the pleasure
of every compliment received.

I’d become a surgeon: ease the squint
that comes with your every human interaction.
I’d under crank your muscles just at the shoulder
leave you elastic as exhausted lovers.

I’d hold a fish tank to your mouth
collect all your words, spill them out
onto your notebook, your brain works
better when you just speak out.

I’d make you listen to those around you
fetch them from strength and pitch of their language
instead of tacking flat words on their shoulders.
If I had a blindfold, I’d probably bind myself.

77

Just Blindfolded

She has dark brown eyes
And red desirable lips
Modest yet valiant
Beautiful but unaware.

She is young and zealous
With goals that can go high
But her spirit is blindfolded
With qualms about what’s ahead.

Will you take her hand
And guide her to a straight path?
Or purposely hit her knees
So she can wake up?

Please help her if you can
Let her conquer her fears
Remove the cover now
Or grow old with regrets?

This world is beautiful
But not everyone knows it
Just like her pretty face
A waste, if filled with blockage.

78

weep

the eyes in the back of my head
don't weep

eyes in the back of my head
don't weep

in the back of my head
don't weep

the back of my head
don't weep

back of my head
don't weep

of my head
don't weep

my head
don't weep

head
don't weep

don't weep

weep

79

In Defense of the Mop

She goes into her hair to think—a lot,
my daughter’s first grade teacher tells me,
wearing a puckered grin. Her own hair
is bluntly cut, train to fall in line behind
her ears. Her high hairline makes her look
perpetually aghast, which she seems to be now,
thinking about my daughter’s hair. I know
how it looks, having seen Samara like this
a million times before, shutting out the world,
a thick curtain of dark hair framing her face
as she reads or falling so far across her forehead
only a single blue eye peeks out as she daydreams.
I can picture her in the classroom, sitting alongside
the other just so girls who do not have to be asked
to remove the rope of hair from their mouth. I’m forever
threatening to cut it off, to style it myself each morning
no matter how much she protests. But again and again
I discover I don’t really care, that this is just what I say
when I feel the world leaning in, looking past the child
with hair as wild as an animal’s pelt to the mother
who ought to teach her about decorum, smooth her out,
doll her up, subdue her through beauty lessons. I assure
her teacher we’ll work on this but I know already
that I’m lying. I won’t play Delilah. I’ll let her
have her untamed hair. I will love her wild.
80

No looking back.

Her shoelace has come undone
Like that lady’s mind
She’s decided to become a nun
And help the poor and blind

Tie back the synapses of mental stress
Try not to look behind
Answers can be found in past events…
There for you to find

Her shoelace has come undone
Like many of life's events
Make a knot, tie a tighter one
Or relax and don’t be so tense.

81

HOME IN THE MEMBRANE

You move forward, further than usual.
The membrane pulls taught.
The part that acts as the face you present
Thins, becomes translucent, pores enlarge.
And the birth of the you is a present possibility.
But the membrane is held by dark, rusty hooks,
Above you, below you, to the sides,
And always behind you.
Anchored to the things that weren’t said, weren’t done,
And things that were said, were done.
It isn’t indestructible.
You could, with a push, break through.
But what about the tatters you would leave behind?
And the ones who made the hooks?
Wouldn’t you feel disloyal? Don’t you
Owe them something for sticking with you this long,
Even though many of them are dead?
You’re too nice to do that – as they taught you to be.
So, you ease back and the membrane
Warms around you again.
Still … you look beyond.
Out there is you.
But right here has become home.
82

On the Down Side

At first it was only a shadow
light as air, barely felt
a drift of smoke
I could see through
a grey moment
sure to pass, to lift like fog,
peeling away like the thin
translucent skin
over a blister
a temporary measure
allowing small injuries
a place to heal.
But I was caught fast, stuck,
tangled up in a black mood,
a sticky web,
dangerous as Isadora’s
fatal scarf,
a spreading darkness
clinging to me,
blocking sight, choking speech,
numbing taste and touch,
until it stopped me dead,

silent and lost, unreachable,
beneath this thick blanket
of unspeakable grief.

83

The Dog at the Table

I am not moving towards you
in a way that is threatening
or foreboding. Trust me.

My steps are like my syntax,
measuring out in drops of caution,
spaced in order to give you breath.

As a girl might approach a boy
in a high street coffee shop
only after finishing her drink

might I come to you now
with a lip of foam hiding
the coquettishness of my walk.

And you will stay seated,
reading Milan Kundera’s
‘The Book of Longing

and Forgetting’, as you get
lost in a sentence, and forget
to look up to the angels.

Look up from your borderline.
I’m tearing up the packets.
I’m adding sugar to your tea.

84

Coveted

You wrap the silk around my face, so I can't see.
"It's a surprise," you softly whisper.
I can hear roaring.
"The zoo?" I guess. I can feel the fabric move as you shake your head.
I can hear lapping, like cats drinking milk.
"Is it the kennel?"
Another shake of the head.
I can feel something on my lips, and chest, and all around me.
"Is it the ocean?"

But there is no response.

85

Gandhari re-born

Reborn: Gandhari
What happens when the sighted volunteers
to be sightless---like the devoted Gandhari
of the epic Mahabharata?
The princess married to a blind king
deciding to remain in life-long gloom
as a queen and royal consort
by wearing a ribbon on eyes
as a gesture of love and solidarity
and downplaying the significance
of the eye as the source of cognition.

Framed by a hood of dark hair
enclosed by a coarse band
the frail frame in white
sensing the external and the objective
the phenomenal world with closed eyes

the subject here undergoing transformation
where outer is inky dark
but inner eye--- awakened
and all-seeing.

A bold choice!
To be restricted in vision
in order to plumb the riches within.
Entire physical binary reversed
To traverse and journey inside.

86

The party game gone wrong

She didn't know which way to turn preferring to shield her face behind her raven black hair and a silken ribbon The party game had gone wrong. She would never walk willingly into the unknown faced with a battle of obstacles but one smart tug and that would be all it would take The ribbon awaits the cutting, revealing a new look, a different destiny but not of her choosing.
87

barfly

She tells me she is secretly a princess from a magical kingdom who gave up her magical existence to work in a mid-level administrative job in a city full of squat gray buildings and faulty train lines She tells me I’m special and she’s never fallen in love with a girl before, but that is how she feels about me, ba-ba-bingo That’s how she puts it: ba-ba-bingo She is really irritating me and the bar is filling up with people who keep jostling and hitting my hip and buttocks I am starting to think this was a bad idea Her hair is cropped close to her skull and in this light I could almost believe she’s not quite human, not quite of this world She has these wide-apart, gleaming eyes and a whore’s succulent mouth and a fine profile Her hair is the colour of straw I smile back at her and say I’m flattered but that I don’t date girls It’s true Currently I’m in love with a short American He’s a petite, beautiful man, if you can even describe men as petite He has small hands and you know what they say about small hands and feet… his name is Hans and we met on the Internet, on a fly-fishing forum (no euphemism) because we have both been passionate about fly-fishing from the bright, lazy days of childhood and parental bonding Even that is too much information to give to this woman, this intergalactic princess In order to get to this world, I had to cross three portals, she tells me, one green-nailed hand curled around the stem of her martini glass And for each portal I had to give up something that I loved My mother’s sceptre The shard of ancient glass that had been lodged in my right eye since birth (that one hurt) My mp3 player which I’d been using to listen to music to about fifty million years before the invention arrived on your planet Oh, I’ve known sacrifice, I say Sacrifice is giving up what is important to you Yes! She says Sacrifice is putting yourself on the line Yes! She says Her hand reaches for my arm Read more >
88

Exit

When you get to the edge of the continent
you expect to see the sea, but the past
pulls you back in a blindfold as if saving
the vision of limpid green waters for later,
screening the firing squad of the waves
from your ice cool stare, your serenity.

Every exit is like this, however bold it seems
at first; there comes a point when the edge
just cannot be faced, the parachute strap blows
back over your face, just half of Magritte's kiss
is more than enough to tell you that the future
is an ocean - invisible, impossibly unknown.

89

Be the blindfold called, ‘love’

Love is a paradise that cannot be seen,
feelings of loyalty, friendship and something in-between,
Be the blindfold called, 'love',
as pure as the white dove,
keep me and I shall be,
true to the word for you to see,
believe and your doubts will be dispelled,
merge in my arms you will be safely held,
I will burn and be the light,
always be your secret delight,
hold the hem of magic and move,
let's just sync and groove,
deep in the darkness of night,
breathe the warmth of moon so bright,
searching through the ocean of soul,
blending together in a homo-phonic goal,
begin the journey of trust and letting loose,
where stiff struggles and clenching are of no use,
where dustiness of foiled attempts are swept,
where laurels of passion are kept,
let the blindfold guide,
let the love slide,
between the immortal soulmates,
let care open all the gates,
where I will be yours forever,
by your side in each endeavor.
90

Iron

Hair spells suicide out by the sea
when the moon isn’t looking
and sea turns to dust.

The holy man opens a page
of the holy book and tells me
how my hair will unfold
horrors of a spirit’s unsolicited
attention.

The teeth in my mouth have
slowly begun to ply away
from their gums like a receding
shard of ice.

Light begets courage on healthy days,
harbingers of youth, when the mind
hasn’t read too many books
or heard too many tales.

There is nourishment in ignorance,
the way one eats a bad nut
without finding its worm.

I go over pages of science
warning me of depletion –
various sources of anaemia –

Read more >

91

solitario de amor no more

I've lived as an unloved
man for so long and now
that I intend to get off
of myself for good and walk
the streets face/nameless
at last no citizenship, no
creed --God has no church,
no trace/pretense of any
sort of identity --not even
the sapiens sapiens one,
hominid me if that pleases
your need for branching...,
now that I intended to go
slow -kinda as they say here
in Belize, and just happily
merge my cognition with
the grand scheme of things,
remembering what we all
were and what we will be,
a spontaneous human
love calls me back again
to life as we understand it,
but now I'm heart positive
I will adore Irene as I revere
the good bacterias that she is
--and if you can't handle such
a way of poetizing: the celestial
dust that gave her her beauty,
Read more >
92

Feel You

I don't know where you are.

I'm doing everything right. Everything I'm meant to do. I went to college, got a job. A good one, too. I wear nice clothes, I do my hair every morning and walk through my life with authority, convincing everyone.

But I don't know where you are.

When I was little, I looked at all of them. So much that I'm now one myself. I thought it was supposed to be perfect. I thought that at this point, everything would be shining bright and full and overflowing with smiles and stability and knowing.

But I don't know where you are.

I wander through my crowded life, lonely. I can hear my blood screaming, begging that someone- anyone- will hear it above the noise of my smile.

I don't know where you are.

Is it you that I see in my beloved's hand?

Is it you that I feel on the ocean mist?

Is it you that I taste in my tears?

Is it you that I hear in my veins?

is

you.

Read more >

93

Leaving

Hide my face
Disguise my grace
Reach for you.
Turning, circling
On the life we had.
Stumbling, floundering
After the bad.
Black is white
Fear and flight.
Away, I am done
We are no more.
I rise, stronger
I search, stronger
I wait, stronger,
I feel, stronger,
I am made anew.
I am no longer a girl.
I am now, another...
94

Absurdité

When I think of Brussels I long for
Sticky-sweet aroma of waffles on street corners,
Hot chocolate in streamy cafés,
Carillon in La Grande Place belfry,
The criss-cross of languages,
Magritte's words 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe'
Under his painting of a pipe.
Now in Brussels I smell fear.
Level Three Alert in the city,
Rifle-bearing soldiers at shop doors,
Suspicion loaded on all dark young men.
This is today's surrealism - I want to say
'Ceci n'est pas une guerre!'
But it is.
95

Sanctuary

The screen has swallowed my eyeballs,
their fault, they became gluttons, searching the globe
desperate for hidden truth in ditches while fed on lies.

My boy brain has taken control, I feel safe in here, secure
with the grey melt of colour. He filters news of corruption
and slander, stores it on a high shelf.

He starves me of hate and softens the words of evil-doers
placing them just out of reach.

He sets up barricades in my ear tunnels, limits the numbers
of more death coming in, lets in the soothe of Bowie, offers me
'Space Oddity.'

If sleep returns then boy brain will take my hand and lead my
digested words to paper.

96

Warning

I can see more than you think.

I am more than your scraps of blue.

Do not be fooled by my slouch.

I am not bound by you but waiting

for my turn

        and when I turn

the ember will catch and steam salt

from the waves, scorch your ropes

strip that decent linen shirt

and blister your name in the surf.

97

Blinded by Vision

Binding tight coffin cold deceit
Creeping flesh strained, shielding skin
Taut and stretched bulimic thin
Wide hollow eyes embrace nothing at all

Corpse like, bloated upon iris shores
Withering doubt at last moves on
As the last remaining vestige grieves
Betrayal burnt, slack rope detached

Inside behind locked deep within
Reflection lost, in loves hole deep
Lip sync perfect stale dark smiles
Each corner hung with lurid lies

Release the fear all senseless black

98

THE CALM SOLILOQUY BY THE OCEAN

Like a temple in our eyes
infinite in a tendential sense
in a most intimate attitude.

Shadows, it might be other that they seem,
they bind it geometrically.

I am closer to a secret
that doesn’t reach my conscience
it explores different degrees of fear.
The delicate tact of the cornea, the eyelashes.

Within this limitless or at least vast container
I cannot hope for interludes,
the light of reason reveals the great resemblance,
how else can truth be ascertained from illusion?

Likeness follows likeness
leading from sightless imagination to the real of the real
I remain silent; Heidegger couldn’t have fathomed
a blueness that only bees understand.

99

I HAVE THE ABILITY TO PULL THE TIDES

One day the sea will speak
With the prophesies of an era
Moving gently outward
In a silent communicate
Between you and me.
I wait this time,
Pulling the tides,
Under the same spell
Of the vanishing moon,
Until the right wave gathers
And something new appears.
One day you will mistake me
For yourself and you will see
What I want to see.
This gift of stillness
Will gradually pass, for all sounds
And things have their own silences.
The sea is a room full of people
A curious paradox
Looking backwards
Discovering we have no destination;
We are the continuers,
The inheritors.

100

A sea, between you and me

The gray blind sea between you and me
reads the pebbles on the shore
like braille.
We soak in briny
afterthoughts of a love long lost,
promising ourselves
false infinities.
Countless wishes preserved into
pickle-jars, waiting for sunlight's
warm kisses.
Memories —
old, spotty videos being played
again and again, without changes.
Wiped out
reborn
dying.
There's a sea between us, but
it doesn't roar like a rebel.
We stand there, two blind souls
hoping to feel each
other's wounds.

101

Striped

“Where do you want it?” he asks. “Back? Front? Future? Past?”
I hesitate. I reach out to touch it, but he draws back quickly, with a smile. “No,” he says, shaking his head. “No touching.”
“But it’s not…” I continue to stare, trying to feel it with my eyes. “It’s not what I thought it would be. It’s not…”
He holds it high so that it unravels from his hand towards the ground. “Look,” he says, with a shrug. “It’s what you asked for.”
I come to my senses. “No,” I say firmly. “It’s not what I asked for. It’s dark grey. It’s not black.”
He begins winding it around his hand. “It’s black,” he says, “but it’s not opaque. I never said it would be opaque. It’s translucent, and the light coming through it makes it grey. So—” he tips his head to one side, “—where do you want it?”
A black stripe, he’d said. Mine for the asking, he’d said, to be placed in whichever reality I desired. Who could resist? I had pictured it lying across my past like a smooth dark ribbon, where maybe it would ripple lightly over my regrets, and cover stale memories like a warm, narrow blanket. Or maybe it would slice straight through the heaviness of my present: a long, blank ravine filled with nothing but possibilities and perhaps.
I look at it now, the dark streak bound around his hand. And I watch as it begins to shimmer, and then to move, writhing slowly up his arm towards his neck.
“A snake, then?” I gasp, but he laughs and shakes his head, pulling it gently away from his throat.
“A simple black stripe,” he says. “But I didn’t say it wouldn’t move, or try to find its own way.” He winds it around his fist again. “So, where do you want it?”
Read more >

102

The infinite monkey theorem

Sand scattered. Simple gowns wafted and settled as the book of the month landed. Once it had been a sacred text learned by heart and entrusted to a few. Before “The Burning” it was used by the populace as a manual — a guidebook. Imagine, in those days everyone was expected to read. But that was prior to neonatal substrate implants and pre-dated even the planetary web-hub. This copy was bound and hand stitched by expert artisans, as similarly were their ancestors’ most prized women. But recent history had no anthropological record of any ancient barbarism. Since “The Times of Cleansing” such subjects were void, nameless and anonymous: erased. The lesson: that senseless ventures into knowledge fuel the vestiges of fear that harbour a social disregard, rather than tempting mystery and enticement. Faceless in their unity, past lives were shackled by limited technology, convention and obligation.

Everyone had a name but the name of this book stirred a flurry of excitement, a modicum of respect and nostalgia born from a bewildered hope. Each had been chosen, led with secrecy to participate. Chapter and verse, page by page, the reading group murmured, seated ceremoniously upon embroidered cushions in the dusk of the ochre desert. Only in manuscripts or encyclopaedias did they contemplate a world other than this, theirs a myopic sapience, heavy with heat, dust and metal.

The recital paused for the mantra, to unify the sanctity. A flow of words and the story continued where it had stopped. The yarn unravelled, revealing thickly opaque layers of meaning and references, a tongue that meant nothing. Despite these collective efforts, even the most revered gurus from this modern cybernetic world grappled with the words. Like the very book they held, their bodies were a map, a topology of science and secrets. Diodes and synaptic fluids fused in synthetic flesh and nanowire. Bygone futurologists would have been proud.

Read more >
103

Four months, four women

We've all got something on our mind, but we aren't all oppressed. You'd never know that from what you see here, though. Cocooned in a peach colored womb of self-indulgent woe, veiled double blind by ethnocentricity and paternalism, trapped in defiant disapprobation, androgyny rendered undesirable, blindfolded, an object without a subject, no one, no thing, no reason for the audience, let alone the victim, to condemn. Yet we must risk our voice against this blindness.

104

Chalked

restless
here in double trust

recently expelled
something had frittered away
the tinnutus of history

the roofs    the walls

                                                                                              

stand dismayed in the
stopped air of the afternoon.

something on a broken wall
a hook of superstition      a chrysalis hangs    fogged and ditched
deaf in its second skin cleaving the sway of the weather

no body

something lives here
mud then wire     words break step with light
tilt the stones  names voices erased

something passes through     a distance  shivers spilt light  chalk and flint  bones here  then  now    something

all we find    blears of spittle in the grass
the old days
rain washed bones of buildings          cold and dwindled

105