• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 08
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Spirit Guide of Childhood

For Judith

from naked seed to root and branch
we do not grow from childhood
suited, booted
pin striped
pinned in
hat bedecked
nor do our women’s weeds fortell a destiny of weeping-wailing
into willow waters

Sweet spirit guide of childhood ever at my shoulder
stoic reminder of skipping days
I dance back to you on the day that we first met
wrinkly-skinned worlds away
downy hair trailing the breeze, brightening rustle of your blue leaves
let down your hair
shadow tree
reach out for me

Send fresh rain
seeping up old pains
water me to sapling

Read more >

Red Light

Did you come back? After it happened, I mean? After the hurt stopped. Before the accusations started. Whilst the blood dried.

Did you come back to try and explain your decision? Your choice to see green when red was dead clear.

You took her choice away that day. Once she knew what rested on your heart. That circle of love was a link in a chain between me and her and you. She would commit to what you had both started.

I wonder then. Did you come back to say goodbye to us as she sat under that budless tree? Or is the end the end. A full stop not pregnant with meaning.


Genesis II: the fair fight

The universe started again with a different god and, this time, I wasn’t so lucky.

First time around, the woman was poorly prepped. “Don’t touch the tree because you’ll die,” means nothing to a fizzy new being with no concept of death. She was still surging with the energy of creation. Imagining death from that standpoint was like trying to picture rainy winter on a hot summer’s day with the sea lapping at your toes and a mojito in hand.

So, my path was easy. Flash a shiny apple, glowing with promise, plant the seeds of doubt, job done.

Humans never learn from their mistakes. History is on a loop; a glitching, repeating loop. But gods aren’t human. This god watched in the wings and learned. How rude!

When the old god died and the whole game restarted, I went to the garden again. Same garden, same tree, so in I swanned, merrily expecting the same response. Humans, as I said, don’t change.

But as I slithered up to her, she raised an eyebrow. “They told me you’d come.”

It all went downhill from there. I stayed with her for hours, using all the tips I’d learned from humans over the years. I tried negging. I tried flattery. I tried neurolinguistic programming. I tried fomenting discord with her husband, about her being made from his rib, and wasn’t that shocking, wasn’t that embarrassing, wasn’t that unfair.

Read more >

Lady of the Wayside

Lady of the untried
Parading her petals
She's planted herself here
To see would she be picked.

Sure enough, here's a boy
He calls her his flower
She warms to his sun
They grow strong together.

Soon she flies his colours
He takes a leaf from her book
Each the other's stake
Blooming equals

Lady of the low tide
Striving heliotrope
Winter comes and he can't see.
Yes, winter comes and she won't see.
But come it does and his sun wanes
Stay it does and her stem strains.

She's read all the books
Seen all the movies
She can't let it happen
They have to be happy.

Read more >


Branches   of my mind shed leaves
find new shapes   forge dead ends open byways
somewhere in the wind
I lost your name
but still I know I love you
I hope you know it too
whoever you are whoever I am

you call me grandda
but have I walked that far...

my life so recently began
I'm dressed for work
attired in my best
togs for my coming wedding day
ring treasured in my pocket —

though my wife
she died giving birth to your mum
and I remember hope and tears
in one rapid cycled day

but who are you...
I had it just then     and now it's gone

you call me grandda
yet granddas appear towards the end
last acts in any man's lifespan
it's hard to understand     I think

Read more >

Over Time

I barely remember your eyes because
You slid them away from me, every chance you got.
I remember your height and your hands
And the terrible awkwardness of a rushed goodbye.
I like to think you almost cried
But I'm realistic and
I couldn't even rely on the rain because
It was sunny that day.
The fallacy left me pathetic in its absence too.

And what's really strange,
For a person so big and bold in real life
You've become almost completely translucent
In my memory
And I can't even recall
How you'd say 'hello'.


The stranger speech

Dear readers, writers, do not mourn:
there is life after life; there are words to imagine.
There are tears, true, and worse, and worse —

the parting beneath the reaching tree,
the flight as fascism scores its course,
the safe passage for a certain fee,

democracy demoted to a farce,
a tip of the hat as Istanbul
again implodes, true to its curse,

and the Hungarian border boasts of its wall,
and more, and worse, and even if
I travel smartly and speak well

(spotted: one sporting handkerchief),
my status cannot *not* look fragile,
since dignity does not reside in cloth

that could secure some safety out of Hell —
a Kentish, not Turkish, detention centre —
and reunite all at the family table.

Yet do not mourn. In a dream may enter,
undetained, the appetite,
the striped flame, the smile, of a TIGER.

He slurps down all the tea in the pot,
he bolts biscuits, raids the fridge,
is both your guest and momentary pet.

Read more >

Some Kind of Camouflage

She put on the suit,
and a tie tight around
the lump on her throat.

She sought solace in
some kind of camouflage.

She stepped into his shoes,
worn. 'Our soles don't match',
she thought.

And a hat to keep the Sun
from illuminating her thoughts.

She looked for his shades
but chose to close her eyes instead
— a waterfall in disguise.

She rubbed her forehead, her
unwanted heirloom — his frown,
like a cloud on a bright, blue sky.

No one's here to stay
and she never solved his riddle:

in a dimly lit room
a man talks to himself, his voice
mingles with the ones from the radio.

Nobody heard him
and she couldn't stay.
She chose away

Read more >

International Harvester

Sometimes the tears fall like jazz-infused droplets, you wipe them with your sleeve but there’s no space there because that’s where your heart is. You tried replacing it with a diamond ring but that grew red and sat outside the chest like the picture of the Sacred Heart you saw in a museum in Seville. The museum that only lasted a day.

The tears drip not from your eyes but from the branches of a melody you are creating, formless but structured. It wanders upwards and seeks out its own trajectories but stays close to the trunk, keeps coming back to the B flat. Her hair has twigs in it, little stray grace notes that are bloodless, have lost their edge and are out of time.

When you compose, you imagine a hat and a pinstripe suit. You really imagine a tiger skin suit but you tell no-one about that. The hat you really imagine is not the Fedora you show us but an insect, recently killed. Japan weighs heavily on your mind, the trees are always German and only the ferns can cool your fury when it rises, as it does, to spread on your neck.


The common denominator

Let swelling men lay where they are you said.
A tongued vocabulary, that bleeds into language.
It’s down to you. What do you see?
Do you see yourself, surrounded by agriculture’s subtle young?
Or do you see a mass of the pillaged, their feeble-mindedness fed on deceit?
No one could ever know, not unless the malnourished ever have their way.
It grows in diameter each year, the hunger crisis does.
This hunger stretches to the lands, the substances, the air, the stock.
The only nutrient, a tear, coming from a dying child’s eye.
Unless the tik-tik expounds the surface, putting the body in an eternal sleep, never to resurface.
While the other folk wander and grieve
For a nation that lay life-like, longing to be rich and fed once more.


Herself Only

She cried ice, frozen tear drops
Wrung from winter’s fingers forcing their way in
Tendrils of cold claiming the skin of her
Absorbing her into that last age
When heat rushed unexpected to flame cheek
And the mind became sleepy and forgetful
Withered and barren were those tormentors
Wood worming through, punching holes in memory
A forced readjustment of self

Defiant, she chose not to sleep
But to awake in spring, new-suited
Rebalanced, reborn
She was not yet done with the world
Nor the world with her
Old, was not her word, nor aged nor weary
Not Maid, Mother or Crone
She was herself only, at last.


At the cemetery

You stand halfway
down the hill,
weeping over her
grave. Nancy
sits facing away
under the tree
at the top.
I cannot see
her tears
but feel them.

I stand opposite
you, so that she
seems perched
like a little finch
on your shoulder.
I watch you,
study your tears,
your pinstripe suit,
the hat you right
as you say Kaddish.

Read more >


A mixture of blacks and blues and reds,
Precise and sharp but standing in fine rain,
misting down on an unseen parade,
the future, perhaps, where all march
with hung heads proclaiming silently
our guilt for all that has befallen mankind.

Oh Artist! Cartoonist! A woman, why a woman?
Gender confusion sets in; a business woman
in a seersucker suit, respectably coiffed,
orderly, black tie, circular tribal pin, triangular
handkerchief peeks neatly from her breast pocket.
Vertical stripes take center stage, chosen to highlight
endless growth and profit margins gone mad.

Meanwhile the blue vines and roots grow
wild in all directions all at once, invading
and reddening the flesh, confusing the order
of things, darkening the brain. A four-fingered
hand tips her hat like a true gentleman at home
in the neo-gilded age. Her lashes and lids
are manicured. Her face, perfectly egg-shaped,
represents a misshapen sun burning in all of us,
unsteadying us, discomforting us
as the ice melts and seas rise.

Read more >

The First Tear

Who wouldn’t want to live forever,
flesh young and supple, regret an
unknown country?

Paradise just beyond the gate,
we dress in our best finery
for the welcoming ceremony
awaiting us.

But sorrow darkens the bare limbs
of that tree we can’t forget, and no
apple glows red on the sodden
ground where only the innocent
ferns flourish.

Loss casts a long shadow where
the beloved sits, her spine echoing
the leaning trunk, her hair a black

And the groom, already on his way
to becoming tree, purses his rosebud
mouth, a bud that will never bloom,
while the first tear stains his cheek.



It was obvious who wore the pants
in our family. My father wouldn’t have
wanted to even if he had known how.

And then, there was some sadness about her
that would cut you like a knife and stay
with you like an old knee injury.
A distant red star, my mother,
13 and a half days of daytime, followed by
13 and a half nights of darkness,
cold, so bitterly cold.

Violent storms, whipping up
clouds of dust, would spread too fast
around her and hide her from us,
from herself.

We joked about it when we grew up, my
sister and I, how we’d lived in a sealed home,
besides having had to wear special suits near
her so we wouldn’t get burned or she wouldn’t
turn us into ice cubes.

And then, there were flowers in her garden she
often talked to, and a tree she called hers, blue
and wind-carved, which understood her
better than anyone dared to.

Fight for yourself, mother used to tell us.
If you don’t, no one else will.

Read more >

Keeping It Together

Bathe in the scant shade of a skeleton
Tree branches take root in your thoughts
Behind you your love kneels, remembering
All that has been lost on the mountain side
Sadness drips from oozing teardrops
Hovers over your stiff formality
Waiting to drown resolve and dignity
Around you ferns and foliage comfort
Trying to soften the impact of grief
Understanding that your body needs this
A soft counterpoint of nature in art

All time holds still

Fire rages
Creeping up past the boundaries of man
Flushing your neck, chin, cheeks, your whole visage
With wobbly hand you steady the Trilby
Keen to gain composure amid chaos
You remain neat, handkerchief arranged
Red pin strategically placed for show
The slope of your shoulders gives nothing
Sorrow roams your quiet, small features
Your love stays there
Throwing a long shadow

Time holds all still.



People had always been able to see through her. "Corpus translucens," the doctor said, when she was born. "Rare, but more common than you'd think. Poorly described in the literature, but there are no known side effects."

"None?" her mother asked.

"Apart from the obvious," the doctor replied, looking down at his notes.

It wasn't so bad, once she got over the shock of self-recognition, the realization of the peculiar way in which she was unique. People could only see through her body. They couldn't know what she was thinking.

Except in the usual ways, of course. Like when she was sad, and a single tear fell down her face, across the pattern of whatever happened to be behind her. A rain drop almost frozen in time, tracing a slow and wayward path from the heavens to the earth.



You may be alive and still carelessly breaking hearts
or, you may be dead ⁠— I don’t know or care

You may be dead ⁠— then who will grieve for you?
Weeping ladies hidden in heavy black veils
might surreptitiously lay a flower on your expensive bronze casket.

You may be dead ⁠— then who would trace the many secret branches grown of your hot semen?
Weeping ladies in torn black veils
raising your unacknowledged children on their own.

You may be dead ⁠— then who will truly care?
Weeping ladies smiling behind their secretive black veils
whispering “Good-by, Bastard!”


The Woods Wash Anew

She went into the woods

She stepped into the woods in fresh polished brogues
dressed up for a meeting with nature
asking permission for a rebirth
a ring of vines round a finger eternal
her love in a white dress waiting on the edge

He went into the woods

He took tentative steps through the trees
soles peeling from trainers crushing dead leaves
seeking an opportunity
a chance to draw a fresh hand
his life stacks up more than believed

They go into the woods

They tread broken branches into soft earth
greeting the trees like old friends
looking for something
a newness or an escape or a refresh
they of the lost find their way


Among the Trees

I shut my eyes
and tilt my head
I wear my suit
and shirt and tie
I place my hat
upon my head
my thoughts turn red
I will not cry
I will not cry
oh how I try
but I can’t stop
a single tear
a single drop
escape my eye
and trickle by
beside my ear
inside my head
my thoughts are red.

I have to learn
to turn away
from nature’s way
from tree and fern
those birds who say
let’s go and play
just us and you
in black and blue
Read more >


Madrid Blues

Dapper Dave dour, disconsolate;
A blue day after the night before,
Wasn't meant to end this way.
Manchester City dispatched,
Wiped the floor with Ajax ⁠—
Emulating rivals' Barcelona win ⁠—
Final, peppered keeper with shots
In 2nd half but all to no avail...
No last-minute comeback now,
Just despair after Salah's opener
Via penalty spot; Origi's late clincher.
Trademark trilby's dejected angle,
Spurs' best dressed fan downcast,
Needing a consoling hug; a lone tear
To dab with handkerchief; ring pals ⁠—
Phone home, moral support; 'this means more'.


When I’m Gone

Tendril me on the lattice
outside your study window.

Let me vine, cling, stretch,
rippled by your wind song,
cooled by the breath of words.

Tendril me in blank verse
through azure, crimson hues
with bold black strokes.

Let me sway, dip, float
on the assonance
of near rhymes,

breathe between
in the empty spaces
where thoughts pause.

Ivy me in arcane,
ripe, nascent words.

Spirit me with images —
thin tapered lines,
rounded globes,
geometric wonders.


The Ring

I dream the April cherry tree
will blossom into season of bliss.
Now it stands naked of every petal and leaf.

On that gently
sloping hillock, she,
in dress the color of raw meat,
turns into chill breeze.

Who would have thought
I would bend,
amid stanchions of wildflowers and ferns,
on a battlefield where I burn
in total defeat?

In my left pocket the ring,
sudden anti-symbol,
scorches an irreparable hole.


From One Refrain to the Next

Back then, when I lived life as if it were a song,
when each minute was a note, each day its refrain,
when a rude suggestion could make me blush red,
back then I thought I’d be content to reach 50,
maybe die blowing out my birthday candles.
Back then, when I wasn’t afraid of everything,

I was once very adventurous…

When I was 24, I packed an overnight bag and
drove to the airport. Took the next available flight.
Any flight.                I ended up in Chicago.

Stayed in a pokey hotel room with hundreds
of hibernating ladybugs asleep in the sash window
frames, and ivy that rooted itself in the brickwork.

No one goes to Chicago in the depths of winter.
But I did. Back then, I wasn’t afraid of anything,
back then, when I lived from one refrain to the next.

I’m a few steps off 70 now, and I like staying
near home mostly. I’m rooted deep in my comforts.
I’m just another old lady who writes too much poetry.
Last month, my granddaughter said,

“Nanna you’re very old. Are you going to die soon?”
“Yes, one day," I told her, "but probably not today.”
I was explicit: probably. I’m not sure where I’ll be
pushing up roots from one refrain to the next.


Sparrow’s nest

“D’you ever wonder how it’d feel?” Dennis asked, chewing on his hay-straw.

“How would what feel?” At that stage, the rope of conversation had frayed beyond the thread, to the fibre, which smelled like weed and summer sun. Ellie turned her head and exhaled the smoke through her pursed lips, in his direction, but the white puff dissolved into the heat before reaching his cheek. He sighed.

“How it’d feel to be… I dunno. Proper adult and all, I guess. The kind that own a nice car, new-looking. That host parties and shit. Like your folks.”

Ellie did not like to be reminded of her family. That meant thinking about her father’s naked back on the day she had seen Dolly’s head poking from behind it, red and confused ⁠— that meant thinking about her mother shrugging and walking away. Her mother shrugged at many things, especially the ones that mattered.

“I’m not looking forward to it”, she said.

Dennis hesitated for a minute or two. “I’m gonna change your mind”, he said, finally. Ellie shrugged.


There was some mild excitement in the community about Eleanor's wedding, and it came in all shades. The gossip-infused excitement of her father's clique from the mayoral office, the sniggering excitement of former school friends, and the relieved excitement of her mother, who had taken no part in the wedding preparations, but had lined up all of Eleanor's belongings in neat suitcases before her (now former) room's door. Read more >


Portraits of the Entertainer Billy Tipton


Her back to the plains
and to the cottonwood
growing on the river bank,
to the ferns and flowers
that look like paper cut-outs
in this harsh sunlight,
Dorothy is waiting
for her first wife
to leave her.

She remembers
the notes she played
last night, the audience
she could not have
if she were a woman.

She pretends
only the morning
is making her cry.
She imagines leaving this place
for somewhere,
not quite Hollywood
but out West. Anywhere
will do as long as
she can entertain.

Read more >

The heart that grew

When we dated, his heart's mouth was slightly open
like an asthmatic. Overwhelmed by love, for it didn't know

what it felt like. It kept over-thinking what we had.
I told him exactly why I couldn't make it to dinner ⁠—

my fingers had grown abnormally large overnight.
Side-effects of his overwhelming doses of love.

I didn't want anyone to see me this way. I needed
space, I needed time to recover. He ended up with

the ring in his drink, his heart swallowed it in one gulp.
Ten years later, his heart has grown abnormally large, cushioning the ring, pushing through his rib cage

for people to gawk. Strangers stop him to ask:
Who did this to you? He tells them everything.


Dress Code

On the occasion or occasions
of this celebration or commemoration
kindly observe the following forms:

Evening wear and black tie are de rigueur,
although, in concession
to the anxious spirit of the times
some indiscernible looseness may be permitted,
within limits.

Gentlemen of a certain ageing
are asked to recall dim school days,
tuck in their shirts,
stand up straight,
and think quietly about fits.

Ladies inclined to imperial pronouncements
are kindly requested to wear no heel
so towering and Iceni
as to prevent a one-hundred meter dash
over rain-soaked lawns.

At the appropriate order of the day,
compliments on another's dress will be given
off the shoulder in the chattering lobby
and are required to be insincere,
and, where possible, unimaginative.

Read more >

Death of the Storyteller

A lone tear on a solemn face
But do not mourn for I never leave
Ideas hidden under my hat
Are yours to discover now
yours to ignite
And bring to life
Like the hidden ring in my breast pocket
A lover on bended knee
New love, new life
Springs forth from all nature
As seasons turn and summer suns fade
Autumn shades and fallen leaves
Bring winter snows
And once more spring sun will soften the ground
New shoots, new flowers, new colours spark to life
The lone tear falls and lips will tilt upwards
The lover receives a yes
The ring revealed
The ideas once buried
Germinate, sprout, and words fill pages
For life does not end nor ideas, nor seasons
Each one begins anew with the turning of the tides
Each story a word followed by another
A smile, a character
A new adventure for readers
The pin stripe suit becomes armour
Knights battling
Or a fancy dress – princess dancing
Or a set of stripes on a tigers back
Read more >


The Seed

We are seeds ⁠—
Springing from the multiple genes
And transferring to different genders;
Me or her,
She or him;
Doesn’t matter when the tree falls,
With each drop
Carrying ourselves to another genes,
And springing again in the
Heart of the life;
Full of red and blues and blacks
Curving in the green and dried branches
Here and there.
Once I was her;
Now I’m him.
My clothes are changed
And I’m again changing them.
To suit the purpose
In each of my tangled


transubstantiation: from earth to air

a pressed flower is a lost kiss,
she said, scuffling her toe, dragging it in cross-hatch
in the sand,
it's an art, for the wallflower bold, the ones who
are dizzy for loneliness, but never show more than
a shy smile

; she stooped to pick a shell, finger traced its ear lobe
studying its soft curves, the milky cream tea colours
the ring of blue on its lip
- she raised it to the sky, as if admiring a fine gemstone
consecrating it as host
the sky moodily squawked a seagull's reeling cry back -
amen _

shrugging her shoulders, the shell ruched its ridged spine
as she put it to her lips, her wish whispered
carried on the wind, she mimicked a kiss
sending it skipping back along
into the water, -
this is where you belong, eventually
she said,
so do I



Only when I look back your eyes are clear answers
that tells me it's inside my head
the trees are blossoming. Anyway, I go
forward in the maze where blindness
is my strength and every snowflake
is stirred like a thought.
There is no way back,
and there is a long way to the point,
where the sea is falling out of the sky,
but when it happens, I call the calls
a call
in the darkness of your presence.
I'm a nice sea.
You can empty it for ideas.


A symbolic gesture

Let us start with the rainstorm where everything begins in the monsoon and we will return to this place again. I do not doubt that, quite possibly in an hours time or less.

In the meantime on the far side a figure steps out and something will happen. I am sure of this. Trees silhouetted in blue, ferns picked out in black and a cocked hat at a rakish angle adrift from a red head. Pinstriped, an oval face, tattooed in branch and trunk with a polka dot handkerchief and an unforgettable red ring pull conveying all that we needed to know. But that’s another story.


Same Self

You said goodbye to the
white-faced woman, made her the absentee
Left her looking at her shadow
left her by the tree

Cut your hair and bought a hat
tattoos creeping from your collar
Found an old striped suit to wear
rose your voice and heard it falter

Felt shadows trail along your cheek with
empty-hearted hope and grief
Ferns echoing your dry choked weep
throat rasping like winter's fallen leaves

Put her kerchief in your pocket
hidden breasts beneath double breasted lines
And pursed your lips and shut your eyesv gave yourself to new designs

Knotted your tie and tipped your hat,
looked inside to see,
That same self, white faced woman
someone you used to know, someone you used to be.


Flora and Fauna

The willow is a brain, veritable
Nervous system, stolid by the river.
Nearby the ancient ferns and their shadows,
Venerable, unravel their small scrolls
To disclose verdant pages of being.
Veins and neurons play canticles in our
Bodies, blood and fire droning in darkness,
Singing songs of joy and melancholy.
Amid the paisley patterns of nature
We instantiate straight lines and perfect
Circles, ideals that survive in numbers
And promises and other abstractions.
They often slice us open, or constrict,
But we persist until we must desist.



I left my land carrying the words of
the dying trees on my back.
I wait.

I lived in a library, slept on shelves,
swept up spare words, dined on documents.
I waited.

I found a disgruntled pinstripe which had lost
it's whip and a hat on a dummy.
I waited.

I scrubbed my skin into a rosy English apple.
I waited.

I laced on father's boots to stamp out flames
then walked the paved footway.
I waited.

I want to be in the house of dropped eyes and busy
fingers, to be seated on the green leather bench.
I wait.

in father's boots. I came to speak.
I am waiting.


To The Spurned

It’s in all the stories ⁠—
we each will have
a mouthful of sorrow
to choke on or swallow,
and will carry our grief
with us, a ballast
dependable as gravity
keeping us here.
And whether you, or she
was first to turn away,
you both remain
for each other,
heartache and joy
worn like a scar,
a mark, a badge,
a testament of grace ⁠—
declaring love,
once lived, remembered, known,
can never leave us less
than we would have been
without it.


Missing Presumed Dead

Uncle Maurice was never seen in public without his pinstripe suit. Even if we called on him unexpectedly, in his tidy prefab, he'd be in shirtsleeves, the jacket on a chairback. He used to wear a trilby too, and doff it very politely to every lady he encountered. He had a clerical job at the town hall and I used to love to watch him write with his fancy fountain pen. I asked my mother how it was that he was my uncle, being as he wasn't actually related to any of us. She said as far as I was concerned that was his name and she'd thank me to show a bit of respect.

One day he missed the Sunday service and there was a quiet sense of panic. My mother's hands were shaking so much she could hardly hold the hymn book. I could feel her willing the vicar to hurry up. We always stopped at granny and grandpa's grave afterwards but this time I had to go straight home with the neighbours while she went to 'just check on Uncle Maurice'. I had to have my dinner there and even get changed into my pyjamas. When mother came back she kissed me goodnight and her clothes smelt of something sharp.

I didn't see Uncle Maurice after that. My mother said he had a growth in his brain and that hospital was no place for children. I had to play by myself a lot while she was at the visiting. I looked at all the ornaments in the bureau and all the photographs too. There was a little album at the back. In it there is a picture of granny being May Queen in 1942 — it says so on a sign that a man is carrying.The man is smiling and he looks a lot like Uncle Maurice only he isn't wearing a suit. Then there is a picture of granny and grandpa, who never smiles. Underneath it says 'Our Wedding Day, November 1942'. Granny looks very fat. Then there are baby pictures with my mother's name underneath them. Read more >


The girl with the moon in her heart

Some girls get the sun in their head;
I got the moon in my heart.
I’m just pretending to live, while feeling dead ⁠—
oh to be a girl with the sun in her head.
Why can’t I have Mars in my spleen instead?
Being a cherry warrior would set me apart.
Some girls get the sun in their head;
I got the moon in my heart.


lament for José Marti

(Cuando, oh Poesia, cuando en tu seno reposar me es dado! José Marti)

i'm closer to the embrace of brugmansia in my mazie in which my forgotten hendecasyllable transpires upon the sunset lit iris just the length of caesura until the Mexico evenings grow into my white bones & your songs run warm like a bullet in my skull

like a sword-billed hummingbird that must hold its long bill up high to balance i once called it belief called it poesia what do they hum like when a turquoise blue crawls inside your jazz wanting to fly back to the dead of the oceans what do they hum like when the pendulous toloache bleeds & i hear my horse coming back for a second time to play favorites with dead



Oh, but look at the braintree bleeding! Meyoublue tree,
redredred of my head. My mind is branches,
a dreamer of wooden veins. Tipsy hat,
cap to trap the blustered leaves, keep lidded on my pain.
Turn away and cry from where she boughbows, hooks
her body upon the grass, shadowcast. Weepywillow
she makes me. Shewillnot, shewillnot.
She was not tempted by roots.
She will stand all saplingslim when I am gone,
or lay herself beneath the gentle shade. Or dance.
I will not know. I wonder if she will leave the shape
of an angel on the ground?
I am a curse of ferns.
I am walking away with copsescar on my face.
I drear a brooch of sadpool from my unsmiled eye.
The ring burns a hole on my heart.


Endangered Species

I carried that ring around with me for six weeks. I had plans to poke it in fancy puddings, hide it in pillows. I knew you would eventually unwrap or hang it around a favourite dog's neck. I even contemplated a drone delivery but didn't trust the local operator. But it was always there for that opportune moment and when that day came it was bittersweet ⁠— you, teary, made your case, you were honest (and I respect that) you were going to tell me sooner but... I understand. All you needed was five thousand pounds. The ring burned a hole in my pocket. I thought long and hard about love and realistic expectations; I was a fit, desirable man who won her heart on a zip-line in Montana ⁠— my humour coming a strong second. How could I refuse what she needed if I truly loved her? I pawned the ring that very day and instead of the ubiquitous knee-bending, my love was handed over in a large envelope of crisp, plastic twenties (I asked for it in twenties so it looked more, but got a mix of fifties and twenties, but the envelope still looked substantial). We said our goodbyes. The next day, I patted my pocket and you were missing. I never thought in a million years that I would lose you to Harry the Sniffer; a six-foot, 600-pound Eastern Lowland gorilla wedged somewhere in an Ape Sanctuary in Africa. I doubt he carried a diamond ring in his pocket or rode on zip-lines telling jokes yet he'd won her 'forever' heart. I decided not to write or buy jackets with pockets; oh, and it might be a while before I donate to a wildlife fund... Here's a good one. What do apes call sunbathing? OranguTANNING. (Yeah ⁠— I still got it.)


Forsaken Lover

A single blue tear lingers,
wrung from plant leaves
against sun and sea’s effects.
Skin smacks red, wracked with pain
and a broken heart, one unfaithful lover,
who promised a diamond ring.
Sleepless nights under a willow taxed
the false, both, man and girl to each other,
tears of woe, what ifs and shame.
Bring forget-me-nots, marigold, violets.


The Wink of His Words

I bloom in the back of his mind
where tea leaves speak and blood
is thicker than tears.

He walks hat tipped in salute
to every dreamer that catches
my silhouette in the wink of his words.

Pin striped lanky limbs struggle
to keep him centered, but I am
the ink writing him out of his mind.

There’s no warning when a pen breaks
a glass heart, or madness finds a mirror.
Love is never born from common sense.


The Things Done Before Pride

you confessed
my smirk was exceptionally queer,
curved upwards of straight, and that did not

quite enough confidence,
for this union to work.

you then mentioned my handkerchief was
cheery, but      it's
                    the only one i owned.

i swore change would come and noted
all the straight things i had done:


wear a boring suit.

- you interrupted but i went on -

refrained from touching my butt cheeks
or plucking my eyebrows for longer than a minute,
banning phallic looking vegetables from the kitchen.

one bent knee in time became     two,
and i felt like i once had in church,
where my wrists too bent downwards of straight
and i was duly reprimanded.

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