• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 08

Melt

Time she says is like an old tin box
you drag it down from the attic
but nothing in there makes sense.

You are sitting in a garden café
in the middle of a wood,
watching chickens in a makeshift run
scratching around in the dust.
The day is so hot you feel like a waxwork
that’s been left out in the sun,
like you are wearing someone else’s skin.
There’s a thunder fly floating in your tea
and a film of sweat on the rubbery cheddar
inside your ploughman’s sandwich.
Her lips keep moving but you’ve stopped
listening, you wonder what it would feel
like to be made entirely of cheese.

1

Sadim

Incense, bells and chants were the constant background to my life – from dawn when the great doors swung open to admit the first worshippers, to dusk when the monks hustled the beggars out into the street.

I watched from my pedestal as people slipped off their shoes to kneel on the cool tiles, praying for wealth, or for a good crop of rice, or for a pain to ease. My task was to winnow out the chaff, leaving God to deal with major requests. I must have cured at least ten thousand toothaches, boils and rashes, and more piles than I care to remember.

They brought offerings, of course, and the heady perfume of lilies mingled with thin threads of smoke from joss sticks. Occasionally there would be the earthier scent of freshly baked cakes and the monks would hover, their eyes gleaming with greed, though by the time the golden doors clanged shut and they divided the day’s hoard, the food would be cold.

Monks or beggars, I envied them their freedom. After a hundred years I was bored and restless, and asked God to release me.

“There’s no coming back, Sadim,” He warned. “You’ve heard their prayers – it’s a harsh world outside.”

But I wouldn’t listen. “I want to taste food, to see the world, maybe to fall in love,” I insisted.

So He stretched out His hand and I was free.

Read more >
2

Set-Up

No cheap trick, this.
Expense of time and money.
Expense of expertise.
A rare camerawoman.
Some body braced to be
our victim/model again.
Luck’s liquid kiss.

Our model’s mind
lights on Shirley Eaton,
dubiously detained
on screen by gilded death!
A killer scene for smitten
007 types, if
not exactly what we’ve planned.

Smoothness is out;
a slow deluge conjures
something: this spirit brought
from some forgotten palace
where corruption’s run its course.
One hand betrays imbalance,
a qualm found in the throat;

Read more >
3

For the Plinth

Memories disperse into mist –
pointillist specks separating
like the universe –
and numb blanks will pixilate your face
and plane your profile…
so breathe slow,
calm in your balmy stupor,
warm in the glow of pagan flames,
as I dip my brush into liquid sun
and gild you in immortal light.

In long strokes, your soles
become golden angel shoes.
I tickle your toes, slipping bristles
between them, and slick your calves,
pushing the brush into tucked-away places.
I glance at your silent face;
it will be the final portrait I paint.
I coat the curve of your buttocks
and the ripples of your spine –
the union of brush and skin our metaphor.

From mound to mound,
my wrist furls and unfurls,
graceful and balletic as your shoulders become orbs.
I am conducting a symphony
where musical notes are lovers’ heartbeats.

Read more >
4

The Periodic Table

Vanity is a dirty word around here, up there with greed but they all come, line up, sign the declaration. Understand they must not open their eyes. ‘I’m doing it for the fame,’ she says. ‘I’m doing it for the money,’ he says. ‘I want to get naked and feel it slide over my body,’ someone else thinks. They all want number 79 pored all over them. Hot gold liquid seeping into every crack, every line, every wrinkle.

Later, when 79 has been exhausted, number 80 is used. No one signs the declaration. No one cares, their eyes wide open as tiny balls of quicksilver hang on curled tips of eyelashes. Visible to the naked eye after sunset, Mercury lingers close to the huge ball of gold that hangs in the sky.

5

Long Gone Bye

There's a story I heard
that "I Melt With You"
was based on an actual incident
that took place in the Karakan Pine Forest
in the dead of winter of 1933 —
the coldest ever recorded.

I am told that two peasants
collecting woods
found themselves freezing to death
despite being dressed in layers of
sheepskin kozhukhs
and woolen papakha hats.
To survive
they raided a hut
filled with hundreds of
wax candles and
set them on every
tree in the forest
all of them straight
and tall
like soldiers.
The men lit the candles
and were briefly warm.

Read more >
6

Of Bees

Send for the wax workers.
Send for
the drones
and the nurses.
Send for the younglings too.
Tell them we
have found their queen.

And more than that besides,
we have found her heart’s desire:
dripped
molten
yellow
overflowing
with
richness.

A man of honey
made from dreams of bees.

7

Surya

There once was a god.

He was the sun and he burned gloriously. Every morning he would rise, sweeping away a curtain of blue velvet to reveal drapes of crimson.

The world became his theatre; the red curtains would part to reveal a powdery blue, thick with his honeyed light. Then came the show. A graceful performance. He would begin his dance, thousands of feet above the ground, lighting the stage from side to the other.

When the show finished, he would dip into a gentle bow, before the scarlet curtains drew back together.

He knew that he shone ferociously. He knew that he dripped with gold, and that the world would wither without it. That it dripped down to the earth, breathing life into the gentle loti that unfurled their dusty-pink petals every morning. Nothing could make him burn brighter.

One day he awoke, ready to begin his heavenly ascent. It seemed like any other day. He prepared his chariot, ready to sail into the clouds, yet instead of rising he found himself falling.

It was a sensation like no other. From the moment he laid eyes on her he began to fall. He felt helpless as he tumbled – as one would when they have never fallen.

Read more >
8

A Story of Instant Coffee

An old woman is being reprimanded by her daughter at the backyard of the crematory after the funeral was over. She is wearing empire line gown of velvet and chiffon as a mourning. Is this the reason or what? She has a poor body, was a plain and silent wife.

She changed since she had her feeling of acceptance. She began to learn French and became elegant. She fell in love with a French teacher, a young French man. She brought a French man the funeral.

She is no longer an old woman, covered her thin bones with the drape around loins, flashing a smile of pale pink like a clover on her tense cheek, talking quietly in French with a lover at the cafe of the crematorium.

Her daughter spills coffee on the floor and sobs. I wanted to wear a beautiful dress at my wedding! Mom's old-fashioned round cape dress was caught by my friend ― A nun!

An old woman drinks her instant coffee. The freeze-dried powder of coffee dyes her mortal heart in dark brown. She poured her coffee into her internal organs and melts herself into her paper cup. A cup of coffee is her watery coffin.

Anyway, this is a story of instant coffee spreading on the floor of a crematorium. Sugar cubes, milk pots and plastic spoons on the table, and the powder of damp instant coffee. At least, in a story of instant coffee, it is unlikely that hot and arid airflow may extract a scent of the real romance. As in a film of Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

9

As Himself

Under blank clocks, his skin
was my skin. He never talked.
Blood dripped from his tongue;
discarded gossip.

Afterwards, music played;
we sang each chorus, hungover
songbirds at dawn.

In a silent film,
by an actor’s name
it read, ‘Himself’.
There was no character.

For as himself, he shone;
he was gold, always.

In a silent film,
by an actor’s name,
one day soon,
I will find him.

10

Perfection has no Sound

You are carved from wax,
youth preserved in a gilded shell,
voice torn from your throat.
Your face is a sculpted fantasy,
glamour painted into your eyes,
rage pinned to the roof of your mouth,
trapped behind shellacked lips.
Your image is puzzled together,
hand stitched bits of plastic
that stick to your ribs and
keep you motionless under hot lights.
You are re-created under the
precision of a steel blade,
your undesirable bits left like
scraps in a hazardous waste bucket.
You trade in your identity and buy
yourself expertly crafted slices of beauty,
searching for a place in the spotlight,
but you begin to melt and realize
perfection has no sound.

11

The Dream

I dreamt of my sister last night
as I watched her walk down a road
towards the golden gates

The urge to call out
filled me with an urgency
I couldn't understand

Like a thief in the night
the illness stole her essence
covering the core in
unending darkness and despair

Before I could say a word
she turned to me with a smile
I'd not seen in years

I swore her body shimmered
like a jewel in the sunlight
her soul for all to see

And she waved
                   farewell
                           my little
                                   sister

12

Molten Muse

Setting: Dingy, downtown Manhattan art studio a couple of blocks from Central Park
Date: Unknown, springtime

Girl à la Ferrero Rocher-painted
Opportunistic self-marketing,
Linked memory to certain 007 film
Dappled in the sunlight
Full-on dramatic cliché
Indifferent, accepting expression
New-found bodily liberation
Gilded, girt, engorged, enveloped
Empowered or disempowered?
Renovated, reconditioned, remodelled

13

Chorus

The goose had laid the golden egg,
cracked on a dancer
in a pantomime of gold
waxing her lyrical and
yolked, stoic as a Covent Garden
mimer, struck like a
statue, still, levitating over an empty cap
for the wrong audience, shopping
in a lane of dreamers,
dancing for an absent queen,
striking gold in
poses,
watched,
never seen.

14

Busk

Down the steps Futurist legs
Kids eat chips in the sun
18 carat rings and watches
Alarmed glass. ‘Is it real?’
‘I saw her move!’

Why had she chosen the thinker pose?
The sense of confinement
constriction in the chest
Cramp in the fist
She could watch the coins.

Coal tar soap and olive oil
Fingernails and hairline
It comes off grey / Out
Did you think she was looking at you?
Stretching her eyes around the room.

15

Eyes Shut and Golden

I close my eyes
and midsummer melts,
burnishes skin with liquid gold,
warming bones
bullied brittle by an unforgiving
winter and a late spring.

Sunlight, sticky as yolk
from a cracked egg,
trickles down my neck,
runs its fingers over my back,
velveting vertebrae on its way
on the first true summer day

so bright my eyes won’t open –
but the view is golden.

16

Midas’s Lover

Tourists are gathered around her, squawking in a Babel multitude of languages, ogling her face and art and, above all else, her stillness. Passive, docile – is this what all men long for? – nothing twitches. Only the eagle-eyed spot a slightly pursed lip, the subtlety of a puff of air trying to dislodge a stubborn strand of hair. She is dripping with it, Midas’s lover, and the humidity and sweat coax molten rivulets down her back. There is something exotic in this image, the suggestion of halcyon summers and warmth and light, a woman bathed in gold and lustre. Against the concrete backdrop, 70s grey and gum-glued pavements, this mirage is almost corrupted, better suited to palm trees and sand and flat blue skies. Still, she doesn’t move, the drawing-out of time stretches, elastically, and soon the tourists are beginning to bore. Who wants to watch a painted woman, still and silent, and pay for it? In spite of what she represents – a glittering idol – the box at her feet is testament to society’s expectation of getting more and paying less. It would have been more appropriate if she had painted herself in copper, lowered the expectations or the tone. The spectators who have ambled off (apologetic and appreciative smiles do not pay the bills) are not replaced, and now the atmosphere is Weymouth-out-of-season. Clouds dampen her image, darken reflections on her curves and angles, and when the first splashes fall she knows that her working day is over.

It begins to pelt down, and she casts caution aside, streaking through the streets as her illusion begins to dissolve. A man from an upstairs window – a pub, drinking with his mates – yells at her. But his cat-calling is lost in the flow of gold from her hair, shoulders, chest, and her retort like the rest of her body, feet pounding pavement, is unapologetic.

17

Goddom

There’s a guy sitting in the window, between the tropical leaves and the coffee tables. He’s gold-dipped where light has wrestled from the sun, crossed through space for eight minutes, then passed through a break in the clouds to the fjord of a Manhattan street. He’s oblivious to being a deity, just squints a bit as he reads The New York Times.
I’m at the counter, out for coffee, jet-lagged and bemused by the reality of yellow taxis, brownstone buildings, the proximity of The Met. I’ve just woken to birds in Central Park and, so far, have only spoken to the red-jacketed man who pressed the lift buttons for me: ‘Ground floor, please.’
The deity doesn’t look up when a waiter brings him eggs, salmon and sourdough toast. He eats. Reads. He’s an unrelational god, then; up and beyond the realm of men. I should’ve known from the neatness of his cuffs.
My turn: ‘Just coffee, please.’ I wave green notes.
I think there are two options for his type of goddom:
1) brutal, uncaring, Zeus et al, or
2) distant and vast, beyond morality, physics and philosophy, both lurking beyond the edges of the observable universe and hiding in the orbits of atoms, pulling on the strings of dark matter, in everything, but somehow older and wiser, like a conscious coating overlaying all we see, do, touch, and vaguely caring about the almost-conscious creatures on a blue bit of dust, in the same way an author might vaguely care about characters created to fill up a crowd scene in the proper narrative of the universe.
Coffee, in a too-thin paper cup, is handed to me.
He’s a Greek god, then. If I walk across the café, sit in the seat opposite him, stretch across the table to press my atoms against his atoms, gold-leaf my fingertips, I’ll find concrete resistance, I’m sure.
I soften the heat with as much milk as with fit.
And anyway, I like Greek gods better, their theatrical turbulence makes me feel better about the state of my own life.

18

Midas Touch

The sorcerers and scientists
of past times
experimented with their powders
dissolved them,
fired them up
in their laboratories
searching for the glows and gleams
from base metal,
the Midas touch
that would create the riches of gold
for them.
They never found it.
Now, the sorcerers and scientists
have discovered how
to dig deeper,
scrape harder
and stand by while
we dig and scrape for them.
And watch the gold flow,
watch it pour
like magic
making wrinkles and scars
suffocating our skin.

19

Conceit

You asked, would I compare you
to a summer's day?
Well, yes, said I, I would,
though not in the same way.

Temperate you are not,
you are all but mild,
at times I’d say too hot,
and other times, quite wild.

I guess someday the Sun
will see you and pause,
conceding you are one
defying many laws.

Awed by your perfection,
the bright sun will melt,
lose his gold complexion—
his molten gold will start

to rain over your face,
and you, my dear, will shine
and give light in his place.

What are you saying, the wine?
O no, I had not one drop:
you asked, I replied—full stop.

20

Sun Worshipper

You came too close
Like a moth to the flame
Attracted by the heat,
The light,
The beauty.
Bathed in molten gold
It left you.
Running from every pore
Golden boy.
Child of the sun
Touched by the ball of fire
That gives us life.
Yet
Not burnt,
Just burnished
In liquid
Precious beyond all understanding.
Kissed by the sun.

21

MOONSTRUCK

I watch you,
night after night.
From frosty streets
and open windows.
Rising,
and then hanging
out over deep oceans.
You are a torch
out over the wild hills;
yellow white
and then the color of snow,
a circle that rises
and falls,
casting light on the black woods.
Then,
you fade between cloud
and dust;
closing your eye
a crescent of orange red.
You vanish then,
leaving me empty
searching the constellations,
wondering:
where did she go?
And why are you here?
Each month
you return,
faceless,
your mask a phantom
of the night. Read more >

22

The Photoshoot

She’d always fantasised about the chocolate photoshoot. You know the one: melted chocolate running smoothly across sculptured cheekbones, into the corners of scarlet lips, off the edges of sharp jawlines. I resisted, telling her that it wouldn’t have the gloss she imagined, not even with my lighting rigs and the best lenses money could buy. In truth I was afraid it would put me off chocolate for life, like living above a bakery can put someone off bread.

When she came back that last time – so sensuous, so loving, so contrite – I nearly agreed, although part of me balked at simply giving her what she wanted. After all, I was the wounded party. She’d left me, disappearing without so much as a backward glance with some waitress she’d picked up at the canal-side bar. My career was just taking off back then, the Sunday supplements running articles on how a gay, working-class woman was making waves in the rarefied circles of art house photography. I’d had that week in New York, all expenses paid, and other trips to Rome and Berlin.

It sounded glamorous, but she didn’t see the hard work: the days spent travelling, scoping locations and setting up shots; the loneliness of eating in empty hotel restaurants, and the sheer exhaustion. She wasn’t interested in the post-production: the headache-inducing hours peering at a monitor, selecting the best angles, and then cropping and enhancing to create those flawless images. All she saw were the final prints, on bright-white gallery walls and in the pages of magazines. The rugged cityscape and in contrast, the sleek beauty of the women. I know now she felt jealous. And guilty. Mostly I turned a blind eye. Infatuation does that to people.

We’d been watching ‘Goldfinger’ when she suggested the shoot again. A variation, with golden caramel. I’d heard the urban myth, the one where the actress dies from skin suffocation. It was nonsense and we’d laughed about it. But I remembered those old stories of Russian spies. Tentatively, I agreed. Read more >

23

BEFORE THOUGHT AND ACTION

there is no taste only patterns
of ochre as they drip in surprise
down the contours of your face

I want to kiss you – try to find
a space between your lips and
will them to open – let me into

the dream you dream now – suspect
an intention in your hand held across
your breast as it drips slips up

and down as a posture to be maintained
passion for paint a premonition
of what will happen when you wake

to thoughts so fluid they will ache
long before the arrival of any action

24

Amenome

Gold sweepings pool
in the crucible and a swirling
sunset dances before my eyes.
I breathe in the scent of metal,
wipe the sweat from my brow
and pour the molten liquid
into the hollowed stone.
Bright reds and yellows fade
as it cools and hardens
with no trace of a blemish.

I spend my days fashioning
wondrous objects: pectorals
to adorn rich men’s chests,
necklaces to caress soft necks.

But my masterpiece will be a funerary mask.
It will shine like the sun god Ra
and gild a pharaoh's face for eternity.

25

Glistery

Even a light spray of gold
is bad for the pores,
preventing free transit
of the finest perspiration.

When it runs like clarified butter
over hands, the thinnest eyelids,
it’s worse than that; all light
comes back – yellow.

Her eyes are closed
against the blue and green,
only egg yolk or a Rocher wrapper
coats a harvest daydream.

Mother says wash it off, before it sets.

26

Milk & Honey

The cool blend of milk and honey wrapped itself around her. This would be a cleansing, a release of the heartache that plagued her for weeks. She never thought she would have to say goodbye to a love that lasted longer than her dream of love. Three years... Three sacred years that she will never get back, gone — forever.

As she stood still, every pore of her body welcomed the cleanse and pulsed with sensation. She thought of his touch, his breath, his hands pressed onto her spine. He was all over her: in her bedroom and her walls. He had taken over everything she knew. She thought of scrubbing him away, of relieving herself of his presence with pads and soap, but there was no escaping him. There was no relief.

The milk coated her skin and made it feel soft and welcoming. The honey lent to it a silky and smooth layer and opened up the natural smell of her skin. She sniffed and touched and kissed her hands.

"I am finding myself again. It won't be long now."

She turned around, gazed into the mirror, and smiled. Milk and honey, could this be the cure-all?

A voice from the other side said, "in your dreams."

27

Just Cause It Glitters Doesn’t Mean You Call It Gold

It's catching up with me. This life where my cyber identity has more contentment than my reality. I know you see the quotes where I ask you to love my lifestyle and fall in love with my mindset. I crave the authenticity again. It started off honestly and as soon as I gained more followers I deleted my humble posts. I hid the human side of me. As soon as I began deleting the old and deceiving others with the new, I felt a sense of power. I began to make money online as a socialite, influencer and blogger. I began making money on my own terms and this fuelled my desires that I called goals. There was nothing wrong with my goals and using my platform to make money. Yet as I grew, so did the convergence of my reality and online began moving in opposite directions. It caught up with me. With the revenue, I bought a house with a picket fence. Yes, like the movies. I bought a car with real leather interior. Yes, like the movies. Until I realised I couldn’t manage this image. I could keep up with the appearances. I couldn’t keep up with the maintenance. What I had pilling up was the amount of tax I needed to pay as a self-employed person. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t hide. I was drowning in the image that I created for myself but struggled to maintain. I feel like a fool covered in golden paint and asking others to call it gold. I have come to the realisation that just because I glitter doesn’t mean you should call me gold.

28

Ageless

It began innocently enough. A stir of the spoon. The first plop of the etching liquid. Soon there was a smattering of blobs on the table as she stirred more vigorously, the scraping edge of the blade whooshing closer and closer to the rim. Whoosh, click. Whoosh, click. An errant dab landing on first her finger, then hand. A slight upturn of her smile. Mischief creeping into her eyes. It was precious, this gold, but irresistible, the urge. Her fingers slowly submerging. One knuckle, two, three. Hand sliding to the depths of the bowl. The cool ooze turning her hands eternal, age invisible. No hesitation as she shed her garments, lifting her hands to her face. Droplets of golden rain falling on her shoulders, her neck, her breasts. Lifting the bowl of gold, she poured. Velvet raining from the heavens, coating her wrinkled skin, her sagging spirits. She closed her eyes, an anguished sigh escaping. This. This was good.

When they found her, she was sitting on a stool by the window. Eyes closed. Face lifted to the sun. Her hands caressing her neck and arms, spreading the golden liquid into the crevices of her aging skin. Sighing only when they lifted her, towels covering her hastily. Their disbelief at her foolish behavior. Her wastefulness of their precious time.

Allowing them to whisk her away. To return her to a sensible state. One in which an old woman should be.

As the golden sun went down, she had no regrets. For one blissful bit, she was ageless, a golden goddess. No old, wrinkled woman had she been.
She. Had. No. Regrets.

29

The Alchemist

What is this curious alchemy?
Your touch turns me to purest gold
I’m blindsided by chemistry

I lost grasp of reality
Desire for you was uncontrolled
What is this curious alchemy?

Such fervour would not let me see
The lies, the untruths that you told
I’m blindsided by chemistry

In feckless hands you held the key
To secrets you chose to withhold
What is this curious alchemy?

The heat of passion melted me
But truth has made my blood run cold
I’m blindsided by chemistry

And though it’s over, am I free?
I feel I’ll never be consoled
What is this curious alchemy?
I’m blindsided by chemistry

30

Dreaming in Gold

Eyes closed to pain,
I think of the orange globe in the sky
and imagine the lake,
where dappled light skipped
along the surface—
a path of bright circles
leading to the raft
where we raced to.
Sunning ourselves, like harbor seals,
too lazy to escape gravity—
our bodies became sun dials.
Time passed slowly—
dripping moments
that washed us clean,
leaving no trace of learning
how to ride a bike,
or how to navigate a conversation
with the cute boy from English class.
If I never open my eyes,
these moments will stay golden.

31

The Art of Idolatry

Lens baby,
I croon to you.

The silence of the blur
I allow to cloak your shoulders
pleases me.

You know I’m only
gilding the lily.

These fingertips of light
stroking your bone structure.
Your perfect brow.

In that split second of breath
your lashes dip.

The fluidity of gender
neutrality, the runnels
of gold that touch the cupid’s bow

Like I do.
Midas. Midas.

32

The Midas Touch

She was a wealthy pauper,
yet she had something I didn’t,
and so I followed behind
watching her transformations.
Everything she touched turned––
I was looking for just such a turn
when I sat down beside her.
I asked for advice about amassing wealth.
We were talking about distribution,
stowing away, hiding, investment,
and how to get ahead of
the market to cash in early.
Unexpectedly she leaned
over and touched me.
I remember the sudden oppressive
heat, her greedy look,
her salacious smile melting
into something macabre
as my sight occluded.

Read more >
33

Saving Icarus at sunrise

I'm walking through a glitter of yellow dunes,
light like fused glass, sea-sheen beaching up

far far out, past a labyrinth of morning pines.
One bright bird falls, falling, feathered flames.

Water honeycombs with heat, a sublimated sigh
of blackened wings as if a body can melt, drown

in sound. Such is the hubris of cloudless wind.
Easy to flounder him unharnessed on the sand,

to strip him down to this simple alchemy of skin,
a muscled maze of gold, lashes pollened, lustrous

lines of fingers, fleece. So easy to take his mouth,
breathe him my godless air, keep him hanging there.

34

Fool’s Gold

A pretty face,
Not beautiful,
But elevated by gushing, avaricious parents,
To the rank of gorgeous goddess, incomparable and perfect,
She could have been useful, kind and satisfied,
But fed on the nectar of compliments,
Indoctrinated with creed of money ‘above all’,
She became untouchable, unbearable,
An idol to Midas and Materialism,
Designer clothes, parties with the ‘right sort’,
Even though she lived a gilded life,
Nothing could ever conceal the impurities of her heart.

35

That’s Why I’m Through With You

Eyes closed and yet wide open,
consenting to whatever needs to be done,
ready to be licked and nibbled,
eaten up, swallowed, digested, forgotten—
is that what it takes to prove your love?

What am I supposed to do?
Lick off the caramel coating,
as from a baked and candied apple?

You said it was the Golden Rule:
That we have to do unto each other
what each of us wants the other to do.
I think something was lost in translation.

This is no way to treat a fellow human being,
even if that person wants to be treated that way—
even if that person is only you.

Don’t do that to yourself.
Don’t do that to anyone else.
Don’t do it to me, it’s not my religion.
That’s why I’m through with you.

36

Gold

Someone sold me for gold;
Ingot rolled, shiny bars sculpted
Like cold hands warming
With friction from counting coins.
Like females' bodies sold,
Painted sweet like ecstasy seeping
Between bones burnt in prayer
Encased in gold; a gift to a Magi.

Promises, secrets spilling
Through painted lips, forbidden,
Forebodings of curses laid to rest
But awakening know the furnace heat
That melts skin to shiny baubles,
To satiate like sex, like wine and sin
But even gods dying with stained garments
Bleeding wet foot prints on asphalt,
From altar to bank,
From womb to grave.

Read more >
37

Too Much

Cold metal cruel
An Ill Wind gathering moss
Soiling love's gentle brush
Death’s slow kiss fans the cheek
Platelet shifting, shaving love dry
Emotional locomotive
Cat legacy clawed
Warm finger forever welcome
Tracking time mind gentle
Fearful, wet tear eyed
All distant deity pointing
Gods create iris lines
Soft willow bathed, elemental

38

Worth its Weight in Gold

Splattered with molten desire,
I glow in love’s golden fire.
His canvas is my body;
his brush plays a rhapsody.
The paint flows like a stream
and it’s all a glorious dream.
Love spills
gleaming, glowing
liquid gold
and seizes me in its glittering hold.
I stand still in a mesmeric trance
while my inner eyes behold
a land of love and romance.
I hear my gilded heartbeat,
feel his fervid fever and heat,
and his art sweeps me off my feet.

39

Golden Boy

You were our shiny penny. We put jam on a silver spoon and made you open your mouth. You clamped down hard, not releasing.

We poured gallons of viscous, golden love over you, hard earned love, so that you could polish your brilliance and line your nest, like a magpie, with glittering reasons for everyone to admire you.

When you tarnished, we poured more gold on you, layer upon layer, it seemed to brighten you, temporarily.

But, as each layer hardened, the definition in your features began to obscure and your senses faded.

First you closed your eyes, no longer able to see what was happening and then your ears filled with syrupy gloop and our voices became too feint. Midas’ gift tasted bad and forced you to shut your mouth, so you didn’t speak to us anymore. In the end, barely able to breathe, you lost touch.

40

Museum Piece

I was a wooden touch-me-not
But it only drew the lovelorn,
The flightless, night’s remnants
Cursed with coins to spare.

Then they fashioned me into
A bronze see-no-evil, my cage
Worth a king’s ransom, cast
In silver. Only the homeless came.

Until they poured molten gold,
And I was drenched like god.
My heart quickened, almost human,
Seeing them flock like black birds.

41

Solvent

The Midas touch torched you molten,
gold drizzling like icing along the infinite layers
of your body. Your eyes close, hand
to chest feeling your heartbeat –
soul-struck and rhythmic –
while the frosted sponge of your lungs
tries to inhale, suffocating while all the world
holds its breath, entranced.

You wait for water, pine for turpentine,
thirst for heat to cleanse you of this richness
that seals your pores. Every part of you
is solvent, tear-stricken
with the weight of preciousness,
glistening in supplication,
begging to be delivered from starvation.

42

Golden rush

Circling its way through a child’s hair
to the amber grasses of a slow sunset,
an old clarinet plays humoresques.

In high notes their song
still resonates on top of sea waves,
inside our eyes.

Golden fragments
of an invisible dress
shape stars.

In millions of ways
within a golden veil,
the Guardian of the Holy Grail
reveals where she dwells.

Out from infinite nets,
swirls of glitter fall on achromatic days.

43

You Are Not the Fallen Chandelier

We’d sit listening to rain jumping off the roof. ‘All that speech pouring down, selling nothing.’ She had a slant way of looking at the world that surprised me. I couldn’t tell you about her sadness, how deep it went - she had shadows and rivers like we all do. I’d watch her through a hole in the fence smoking on the kitchen step, looking beyond long grass. She wasn’t making plans for the future I knew that.
‘You’re not the fallen chandelier,’ she said to me one time. I took this to mean that she could still see some light left in me, despite all I’d done. I was grateful.
‘You’re the guru of the street,’ I said to her, ‘like you got dipped in gold.’

44

Midas Asshole

You touched me:
Here.
And everything turned to gold.
Explosively.
That old drag carapace of mine,
Gone now.
Transmogrified, alchemically, magickally.
Instantaneously.
If you were able to see my inner life
You’d know that molten ore flows through my veins.
There was that one moment between us
Of nova-like intensity.
Up for it?
Believe me, I was gushing for it.
But now, WTF?
You froze me.
Into something you said you couldn’t have.
Why bother
Doing that to me,
If you didn’t want to keep me alive?
Go make a statue of yourself.
Midas.
Asshole.

45

Midas

You were Midas, you claimed.
One touch transformed.
Iron became gold,
Became liquid,
Became yours.
Melt in you,
Melt in me,
Seeped under my skin,
Into my veins
To the heart,
Dipped in gilt
(Or guilt?)
Filigreed with love,
Love became me,
Became you.
Or so I thought.
How the heart fools the mind,
(Or the other way round?)
Both fools nonetheless,
Moths to flame,
Flame to fuel,
Fuel, your music
Sweet, sweet symphony
Became bitter-sweet –
Your touch, that is.
Turned to steel
Turned to rust
Turned to dust,
Your Midas touch.

46

Torrid Summer

When the air smells of popcorn and smoke and raspberries I remember you.
The memories are still there, still full: the strident colours of a lollipop bought from the market fair, the sticky cotton candy weaved around a splintered wooden stick, the yellow, muddy lemonade. Oh, the circus performance of a life time!
You used to bring me gifts: every piece of story, every scrap of word you could find. I needed then the wall of your words to rest my mind in its shadow, to crawl on it like wild ivy towards light and rain. When it collapsed I ran and hid.
The corner of the moon dipped into the dark, bitter night makes it now soft and bearable. Tomorrow your absence will once again scorch my day.
I still remember the story you told me, about the little desert animal able to increase its heart beat, to raise its body temperature, becoming hotter than the burning heat, the air around it suddenly cool and soothing.
I tried and failed. I really tried but look at me! Look at me now!

47

Nude

I listen attentively as the artist explains what she will do, what she expects of me, the materials, the safeguards. I calculate the length of time that I will need to hold each pose. I assent, sign papers.

We rehearse the position, my head tilted at an angle, my back arched, one hand raised in false modesty to my chest. Lights swivels toward me. I feel their heat on my skin.

This is not the first time I have posed nude.

I undress behind a curtain, wrap myself in a large yellow towel. The photographer is ready. I am ready. An assistant helps me step into a shallow porcelain basin as wide as a small Jacuzzi.

“Be sure to close your eyes, and keep them closed,” he says as he takes my yellow towel.

I assume the pose and close my eyes, careful not to squeeze them shut. I draw a deep breath and hold it as the liquid bronze pours from above, slowly cascading over me.

It runs, drips, and thickens into pear-shaped tears that hang in pregnant suspense from lips, nipples and fingertips. A new topography of rivulets, valleys, and hidden crevasses emerge in a caramel landscape that I can only imagine behind heavy, painted eyelids and lashes.

My breathing slows and becomes shallow. Only the liquid bronze gives the impression of life as it glides down my arms, my belly, my legs, like a thousand caresses.

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48

Stay Put

Anoint me with honey
all the honey the bees can find
from pavement flowers.

Anoint me, coat me, cover me, mask me
let golden paint flow through the thickened
folds of my puckered sadness, drip from my
nightmared skull.

Pour molten gold into tubes that listen
halt the drum-beat screams,
sugar-coat my rasping voice.

Soften my rough fingers to feel the skin
of an absent lover, smear unction
gently to my nostrils

to soothe my breathing, the entrance to
where the scars dwell deep.

49

ERUPTION

His pores bursting,
the golden lava flows mercilessly over his entire being, marring his Adonis face and body.
Beneath the heat and burning, he remains stoic,
allowing his inner self to ooze over his outer being – the competition fierce.
Serenity leaks from his eyelashes
allowing the molten thoughts to taste the air
congealing on his tear-streaked face.

What strife remains inside this body
to have it bear such pain?
What angst still exists to erupt yet?
What more is left?

His body shimmers with the pain
being borne so majestically,
He will rise from the volcano
purging him and will begin anew.

50

SUN BED

I told him:
don't stay long on the glass bed.
It was his lunch break,
a melted cheese toastie
and a cup of Gold blend.
But he fell asleep
as the girl on the desk daydreamed.
He was adamant:
can I take my lunch in with me?
Sure thing.
the spilt coffee
and cheese dripping on the red carpet;
third degree burns
and his eyes
welded closed to his skin.
They had to cut him free,
but he survived;
and the girl on the desk
in the sun bed place,
doesn't work there
anymore...

51

The Golden Woman

I stared mesmerized at the statue of the golden woman. Gold drippings covered her naked body and her hand sat daintily against her chest, eyes closed in thought.

“This is an incredible piece of art work,” said a young woman with long blond hair and blue eyes wearing a skirt a little too short for my taste.

“Yes, indeed it is. I wonder what the artist was thinking when he created this marvel? Why do you suppose he painted her golden and why not leave it at that? Why the drippings all over her body?”

The woman lifted her right eyebrow and tapped her foot. “I suppose he did it for this reason. To make people talk and wonder. What I see is a sad, lonely woman, drowning in sorrow and she’s desperately seeking a golden life.”

“Hmm, that’s a good interpretation.”

“Well, it was nice talking to you. Bye.”

“Mr. Smith, I saw that young woman speaking to you. I assume she liked your statue?”

“It would appear so.”

I took one last look at my work, smiled and left the room to the art enthusiasts to discuss my golden creation.

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