- Vol. 10
- Chapter 11
There you go again,
thinking that if something –
a table, a heart, a pitch, a planet –
is waiting, it is waiting
for you, and your particular
charms: the indolent wheedling,
the faux innocent
pleading, the rising timbre
of a voice saying: I am of the clan
that was born for this
thump of duty, this redcoat
responsibility that must build utopias
everywhere we look,
land, using only what is left
from our thrifty seas of ancient black.
Imagine if you didn’t.
Imagine if you stayed well
away. Imagine if you let things be, to be.
Read more >
'Look', she says, peering down at my hand,
turning it over to better see its landscape,
its crests and furrows, its gnarls and liver spots.
She frowns as she fingertips her way
along the ribbon of a tender ridge
a reminder of blackberrying,
when a bramble caught beneath the ring
her grandfather placed on my finger
fifty years earlier sprung free,
drawing beads of blood through tissue-paper skin.
She touches it gently. 'It's a hurty', she says.
I stay silent, though I want to tell her
No, the real 'hurty' is buried
much deeper, where you cannot see.
It is the pain of brief hellos and longer goodbyes,
of letters and telephone calls, and parcels in the post.
It is the throb of distance, it is the ache of missing.
It is made of moments when I stand alone in my garden
and look up at the moon, knowing only
that the same moon peers back
casting its mellow light through your curtains,
across your handstitched quilt,
your outstretched arms,
your closed and dreaming eyes.
There’s a pink Carnation hanging
on the lapel of the Abyss—
no, that’s not right—
it’s a full Moon, yes, it is,
and I recognize her, yes, I do!
She befriended me, when I was all dressed up
with no place to go but the black night.
A Child, she stepped down on my hand
while remaining in the starless sky,
and for once I did not tremble—
for once I did not die.
We were standing at the North Pole,
dressed as snow-dwellers:
She on the back of my glowing hand,
I with my feet on a glacier that dripped
relentlessly into Nothingness.
No-thing-ness! The Moon, the Abyss,
Carnation suspended from Night’s lapel,
Starlight buried in black effulgence,
un-trembling Hand, supernatural Child!
The Recipe calls for those ingredients,
and so much more. All things considered,
all things mutate, they blend without fixed identity,
becoming each other, then vanishing.
The day hadn't gone quite as expected. Her bicycle had been stolen. She’d got wet walking to work. Sitting down at her desk she'd received a severe telling off from her manager. The coffee she’d spilt over her keyboard at the same time she was being reprimanded hadn't helped the situation.
Looking out at the rain as it cascaded down made her feel even more depressed that, couple with her cancelled holiday (because an air traffic controllers strike), her best friend was getting married. She didn’t even have a partner lurking anywhere in the wings.
The previous evening her childhood friend had thrust her hand and 'the ring' at her and it had somehow made everything more hopeless. Usually, she was quite an upbeat person. What she needed, she decided, was a magic ring or a magic potion that she could drink like Alice. She might be able to reverse time to take her back to when she was a child wearing her favourite red puffy jacket and able to look at the world with awe. It was a time when she still believed in the tooth Fairy, Easter bunny and Father Christmas. Then, she had imagined that earth and the universe were glittering and wonderful and she was a star-bright person.
A message pinged onto her screen. It contained one word "Doughnut". She turned her head and saw that on her desk someone (well, actually, it was her manager) had put a doughnut. She knew who it was, because another message flashed across her screen, "Sorry, I was ratty with your earlier. I know how conscientious you are. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Do you fancy going out for a half price cocktail after work?".
She had been so far into an alternative universe that she hadn't noticed the doughnut with its pink icing, shimmering fairy dust and sprinkled with hundreds of thousands. So, perhaps, there was magic out there if only you could conjure up an imaginary ring to rub, because a doughnut and a date were just what she needed to see her part of the planet in rose tinted hues once again.
The moon has lost its man,
its rabbit, its glow.
we lose our way
trip over curbs
fingers of roots.
Some say a higher power
guides us. We are held
by the same hand
that touched Adam.
I prefer to have faith
in the small fluorescent patch
on a child’s glove
put there by loving parents,
this final heavenly phase of finger-mounds.
Glacial skin, stretched over inner oceans of blood
bear the weight of my walk,
not a trespass,
to reach the other side of this fleshy surface
where, a child, I wonder
what the apple-red planet will do
as I near its southern most pole-
black sky between us
yet to yield a bridge.
sitting crossed legged in the pleasance
rotating antennae touching space
i listened as she slowly started to rise
heat under the emptiness — shushing golden language
perpetually dressed in red galactic shrapnel
ripping space for silence
apple pink magnification at low orbit thrust
bearing speeds beamed in 1.3 seconds
she left her memories 400,000 km ago for safe keeping
my little pomodoro kicked light reflected off eyes
heading into a body of infinite time
Soother to a perplexed mind
Wearing the sea as its regalia
Its people as its crown jewels
For they don’t spare you with their words
The truth seems to reveal itself naturally
As the reflection of the crystal clear waters
On an early Autumn afternoon
With the children’s voices echoing
carving an own path
enclosed within the narrow passages of the Castle
A life devotedly worth living –
A realisation that never came easy to me –
A mother’s hand and embrace
Welling up my myopic eyes
I look up because the sky looks different from here
And the colours I observe and take in
as memories saved for a year of fear
Where concern and worry get the best of me
I reckon I become a bit more pleasant to be around –
a bit more relaxed
a bit less scared
Persuaded by a land whose history is so vast
With thousands of years of life and glory and sorrows,
Persevering against all odds
Against the strong winds.
Coming close to us in the night,
as if it wasn’t quite enough to come
once in a blue moon,
your visit casts a shadow on us,
as you bleed into our night skies
like some mad orange, shadowing
our frosty landscape.
Peach, potato, little boy’s toy,
giant steps planted by a little girl,
picking her way in lace-ups
over the shoreline of the sky.
Pressure on the palm of my hand,
red footsteps burning on the strand,
flaming onto the retina of my eye.
Send us an eclipse, a triple bypass,
a tri-fold omen to obscure the world asleep,
under the duvet of a cold, dark night.
Always have a full moon at your back
preferably one of the interesting ones
with colour or animals attached to
make you feel special in your strut,
be seen in its presence, under its spell –
who knows what you might exuberantly do…
walk on water, on pliant humans, lie
in fanciful muse way out there anywhere
wearing a fur-trimmed coat to be safe.
Although, warm could be offering
yourself to become one with another
stomach if you’re in a bare, cold climate
where any kind of pumping blood
is more than a temptation… is titbit
a’ la carte with no witnesses – tight-rope
walking sans net however beautiful
the setting and magical the moment
shouldn’t end with scattered parts.
Come and take a walk with me,
Fear not the night,
For we are not dimmed of our sight,
There's tranquil in the dark.
Come and take a walk with me,
The night has opened its door,
Let's go through and see,
Her treasures lying in the room.
Come and journey with me,
The moon will guide us across the sea,
Fear not the creatures of the night,
For we're the omen's showmen.
Come and journey with me,
For the wonders of the night we'd see,
In the tranquil of our minds we'd hear,
Words that are cloaked in the dark.
I do know the sound of air
pokes and stares in a quirk curve
curtains fly and sand-like nylons grin beside birds
tot stones grace my eye with all glee and grit
and air douses the censure
unlike wallflowers, gales don't careen/tip/sway
air is not drunk, has no trait of some shrinking violet
and when the end creeps over the horizon, it struts
on mountains, like a little one feels its new toes,
it shuffles, lingers long
long enough to be listless,
takes all in - a plethora of earth's hue and cry
we call it "fresh air"
in our darkest hour
we cull the light,
deep cuts form
at the very edges
of my open mouth,
my hand clings to
the night's skin, until,
a glass red silence strides
out across the thin air,
I didn't notice your
feet frantically kicking
I didn't realise you had
grown into something else
dangling on a thread of time
There’s a feeling you get when a relationship is about to end. It sort of sneaks up on you like ivy climbing up a tree trunk. You see it starting but it’s nothing terribly worrisome; then it slowly starts working its way up the trunk until it overtakes the tree. It’s got a strangle-hold on that poor tree, suffocating it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mighty oak or a frail mimosa; the ivy will win out every time.
That’s the feeling I now had for Jeremy and I don’t know why. I just knew it was time to break things off. That was clear; what wasn’t clear was how I was going to tell him.
It’s not as though we started off like a couple of teenagers on a hormone rush. Ours was a gradual connection much like our disconnection. We had chemistry. We could make each other laugh. We liked the same music, the same food, the same movies. We could talk at length or enjoy a quiet, lazy Sunday afternoon. And we had great sex.
Jeremy gave me a rose-colored braided love knot ring; I accepted it because it was pretty and didn’t feel as permanent as a real ring.
We talked about moving in together but it never happened. Now I’m glad we didn’t; that would have made things so much harder. It was good to come and go as we pleased; now I found we were doing that less and less. I don’t believe it was deliberate; we just started drifting apart. Everything gradually slowed down and cooled off. I realized at some point I had finally exhaled and I was no longer suffocating.
We spent a cool spring afternoon sitting on a bench at the beach. Watching the waves rolling in and falling back, I knew the time had come. Quietly I told Jeremy what I was feeling and he slowly nodded in agreement. I think he was glad the pressure was off him. I started to remove my ring but Jeremy refused to take it back.Read more >
I’ve grown so tall
I live up there
with the giants now.
They’ve taught me
how to polish the stars
and make sure
that they hang in order.
Painting the moon pink
was my idea though.
They haven’t seen it yet.
You’re still so small
I’ll have to lift you up
for a preview.
Tell me what you think!
Our moon, one girl, top hand with ring -
those bones with skin scape, Scapa Flow -
but it’s the juxta, cause play, dis-play,
as if applique, tech applied,
to switch then pose; a question mark?
That pose, spatial relationship -
as soon as real, manipulate;
does tromp l’oeil explore some truth,
a whimsy, quirk, sum fancy take,
or ology more tablet fun -
even a symptom, pill dreams spun?
So hear me, metric, rhyme perchance,
wherever bends, deep breathing sense,
know chosen chime, run rings by type.
Orbit, thence maria sees,
still frozen knuckle, coat for chill,
but sandals, even warm flesh walk,
though soon to cycle, lunar time?
The hue of red - one takes its cue,
but only hand, blood circulate;
maybe Edam, that ball, sky high?
It could be harvest, hanging beams,
not Super Blue (nor glue if need),
but curse or, shortcut, shift and paste;
believing is not scene as seen,
but what now veiled seems reel as screened.
Ten years after they aborted
their first, a girl child,
while passing the pink clinic
they see a silhouette
wearing the strawberry moon
their car radio goes gaga about.
The husband throttles the gas,
and the shadow crashes against
the windshield and scatters into
a sparkle of fireflies.
The man decides to step out, lean
against the car and smoke while
the woman murmurs the stale nth draft
of her monologue on her husband
as a man and as her husband.
In the brief flame of the Zippo
their unborn daughter appears again
as a music box ballerina showing
her pointe technique
on the massy signet ring of the man
who could have been her bad father.
I don’t have time for this
While the lucid feet of my heart’s rhythm bump
I mitten my hands
Flat, matte street
These pulsed moonbeats blink in windows as I pass them
I risk the padded sounds
The rails carve rows through the midnight avenues
The dance goes long
I wish I belonged here below the rosebud moon
The moon has never done me
any favours. I used to look and yearn
for magic and the tug of tides,
but the moonlight that came down to me
was cold, indifferent,
and it never touched my blood.
I looked around with envy wondering
if my share of magic had fell to someone else.
I grew up on stories
of a beast that came and went. Huge
and heavy pawprints in the sand.
I stalked along the foreshore like
a short, red monk, searching for the spell,
the magic ring, what offered me
the key to another realm,
but all I found were mermaids’ purses and wet trainers.
I never curse the moon,
though some as do. It does its job
and holds the tideways in its hands.
If it has magic it has
long since passed me by;
wet feet are a small price to pay
for hoping. And my heavy pawprints in the sand
are always boot shaped.
Sleep. Sleep your deep wintery sleep,
and when you wake, you’ll be a bright little star.
Children will think you can grant their wishes.
Twinkle twinkle little star, they’ll sing.
Or maybe you’ll return as some tiny pink god
from whom new civilisations will descend.
Are you here, or are you gone - have you
fledged with time, you who lived for judgement day.
So you’ll take up with the wind, and hoard words
into the darkness around you.
Sweet dreams will keep you.
a ring is nothing
unless you count promises
casual as chocolates
a shopping list
this rich colour
like a pomegranate:
could its innumerable seeds
be calls to love?
tinier than knuckles
their fibrous pounding
in your belly
is like the moon:
by the wishes
of a needy
I sat in my third-grade classroom
on the floor, legs folded, and watched
the black-and-white screen images
from the moon in the middle of day.
Something important, monumental
was happening on the same screen
where I watched Dick Van Dyke’s
pratfalls and reruns of Gun Smoke.
At home, I sat next to Grandma’s
comfy recliner while she smoked.
We watched Rawhide—dust, cattle
barons, cowboys in hats on saddles.
Grandma’s hand, skin leathering
hairline wrinkles on a blue-veined
mesa, knobby outcrops, dry like
the desert, lonely like the moon.
The hand of time is your platform.
Here the knuckles of experience ring of wisdom, colour you red.
Primary, to secondary.
The purple of the bruise, the night sky.
Look up as well as down.
Look up to the universe as it rises, rises, dark, mysterious.
Your young eyes catch it, develop it, imagine it, sing to it, laugh under it, wail through it, respect it, guard it.
as another moon passes,
another step is taken into the unknown.
It often just comes down
to perspective, doesn’t it? she says.
You don’t notice a meteorological disaster
brewing on the Moon
when something shocking has just landed
on your hand –
a cyberwasp, for example, she adds.
Or something crazy like an extra
from ‘Honey I Just Shrunk the Kids’
or ’The Borrowers Reborn’
in a bloody puffer jacket
like some latterday Li’l Red Riding Hood
to vibe with the latest Blood Moon, he jokes.
Aye, brewing up a storm
of cognitive dissonance, right there
on the knuckle of your forefinger –
that’s how they mislead you
so you fail to take in all the
Serious Things Going on in the World,
Yep, throwing you a curve ball
or hitting you with a truckload of memes
to distract you from the UAPs
and non-human biologics, he grins.
Little Red Riding Hood is running through the wood in the dark, light from the orange moon is shining on her. Her hair’s the orange of the coals of a fire under her hood. What is she doing alone there, hurrying along? She’s wearing jewels too, great rocks of scarlet and blue, so not suited to her demeanour. But actually, she’s not that young a child and around her the red cloak is a little too small and everything is changing for her now, and she runs like a wild animal, and the night and the cold and the shining path in the moon is attuned to her.
At the house, the wolf is knitting as fast as can be done. He’s wearing the old woman’s spectacles and the lenses blur the wool in front of him but still he lets the needles fly, clackerty-clickerty. He’s very afraid of dropping a stitch and everything is slightly off. He thinks he’s purling when he really should be knitting, and he wonders how far he can get before Red Riding Hood comes knocking and then he’ll have to slope off because Grandma doesn’t like him in the house, and then it’ll be him out in the night and the moonlight and the howling, and where’s the empathy for him with all those wild things going on? He hardly dares to think and his knitting is only half done so he licks it with his long, animal tongue.
She was searching for a possible solution
to save a dying planet, looked starward
for a new home, set out to colonize Mars.
Automated probes sent back news:
there is nothing there, it isn't even red;
and there is no sign of any water.
Her mother came up with a plan.
She would throw the child into the sky
and rely on perspective and good luck
to complete the mission. Her daughter put on
her best red coat and looked apprehensive.
"I'll miss you Mama," she said. "Goodbye."
so that the sky is shadowed soft mounds
snuffling with night noise and burrowing
while geosmin brushes my face.
So that my feet dangle above Ptolemy’s hunter
where blue stars burn and
bodies become brighter, brighter as
ancient newborns are suckled in milk,
and aeons are snatched seconds.
So that the past will compel me to watch.
Lost in the knuckles of the hand
the boy is thinking
at the heart of the weariest night
: these streets becoming dignity.
A silence close to the Earth
takes a trip
at the root of all the words
away from the picture
with the misunderstanding need
no smiling a face
He was quite young,
when he accidentally sucked the diamond
from your thumb.
My little brother and I,
in the face of a dream,
beyond our own eyes.
A band of words.
Intentions of might.
Mum loved us back and forth -
to and from the Moon and starry herds.
Who knows if the other thing was right?
Or, was his loss of her,
enough to kill enduring light?
The fire glowed.
Sofas were velvety-green.
The gem between his teeth bestowed
a moment of surprise, humour and glee.
Enough to conquer any future misery?
In the house to which, soon, we would all flee.
Moon wrapt we are
enraptured in the aftermath
of heat and indulgence.
We do not allow ourselves
regrets we still have time
for ghosts and glories.
Requiem and recriminations
come later, wrap up well
for night-time adventures
stock-scented with shufflehuff
the pale tussock moth, snails
on their slippery explorations.
Take my hand
who knows what we might
awaken from its slumber.
The moon is blue again tonight.
My daughter has arrived. I ask
does she neglect me out of spite
or simply doesn't notice passing time.
The moon is blue again tonight.
I cannot reach inside the heart of her.
Her bud remains screwed tight –
an origami lotus to conceal –
as though each petal held
a different self and always one self more.
I do not know what hurt
has made her hide
or why she comes to see me only
once in each blue moon.
The child and her mother sit bundled in the entry of a Paris church. The tourists walk and gawk and pretend not to see the mother’s hand reach out. She asks, not for me, but for we. Most wave past her, but some stop and place a euro, maybe two in her palm and cross the threshold into the sanctuary. A once grand lady with a plastic baby doll sits in a shadowy corner and whispers stories of a pink moon hung in a black sky. Sometimes, the child slips alongside to listen and the stories change to history, their shared history of the city where so many travel, yet fail to understand the struggles of the people. Today was a good day, the mother tells the child at home and slides the swirl of an onyx ring over the whorls of her etched knuckle.
You’ve finally broken the back of time,
letting the minutes drain away,
with a quiet determination
nothing and no one can dissuade.
There is, as they say,
method in madness, where,
imaginary numbers are jostling
for position on the vanishing timeline
to strike root in the arid city square.
Time is a record of the choices you’ve made,
your very own thirty-nine steps leading down
to an unforgiving sea.
But you know this stretch of water well; you know it
like the back of your hand: it’d only take you
a glancing peek, even with eyes half-closed,
to map out where, when and how you would jump
despite the glaring Blood Moon pronouncing judgement, declaring victory, proclaiming a Single Truth.
You imagine your timeline on a motorway,
where madness resides not only on the fast lane,
where squaring your numbers only gives you
negatives with a rootlessness hard to contemplate.
The city’s praying for rain, and is granted
a scorching wind from the North
― eight ― nine ― six ― four ―
breeding atrophy, recruiting silhouettes,
leaving all hopes hoisted by their own petard,
We chased the moon
in all its naked glory,
in all its celestial history,
in all its legendary mythos,
in all its snake oil fortune telling truths
on those stubborn southern nights.
We chased down
that gnawing justice
that we were never going to feel -
never going to feel bubbling,
never going to feel brewing,
never going to feel simmering -
in our marrow
so hot and so desperate.
We chased a closely guarded secret -
a beautifully adorned,
a lovingly curated,
a tenderly rendered
equality that still today
exists only in phantom fantasies.
We chased the fireflies’ midnight pulsar waltzes,
their noon supergiant rhumbas,
their twilight white dwarf salsas,
their dawn neutron two-steps,
never quite keeping time
with that ancient countryside concerto
like they somehow always managed.
The news bears bad tidings of climate change wreaking havoc;
amid extreme heat, after Maui, comes Idalia.
Our politicians and greed hold hostage the healing
of the damage we have caused to our planet.
Where is our sense of urgency? There is only a void;
the silence recorded in a space where no dialogue is spoken.
I look out the window and the clouds part like the curtain
in the delivery room, and there is our constant companion,
our moon all pregnant, in labor,
holding us in
place as we wobble on our axis,
our tilt letting go.
No one hears her screams.
The moon blossoms pink
like a flower, and in her dreams
she hears it sing, bird-voiced, asking
who is listening?
Who oversees the deep-rooted dusk
of winter’s purple sky,
and blushes when she meets the dawn?
Girl-child becomes mother, and still, she hears
moon song, the secret language of after-storm,
the dance of dappled light, the sound of spindrift
suspended silver in the air as the sea breathes a sigh.
She hears every if
in the wobbling moon’s warble,
listens through rotations and revolutions.
Bella Luna, I understand, she murmurs,
as she closes her eyes for the last time
while the moon hums a lullaby.
My trial took place
on the first night
of the full moon,
near the bone rocks.
He led me out
and left me there,
night-blind and cold,
dared me to stay
right through till dawn
in that cursed place,
now home to old
ghosts and new dead.
Child I was when
he left me, but
I woke at first
light, as from a
dream, now made a man.
We took the Interstate to Grandmama’s
house every morning when I was a boy
so Mama could get to work on time. Then
my Grandmama would take me on to school.
You know how when you’re driving down the road,
the morning moon makes everything seem new
and full of possibilities? It was
a day like that. I wore my puffy coat
and high-top sneakers every day to school.
My friends would pump the pump on my shoe tongue
and pick on me because I didn’t have
a Starter jacket. Anyway, we drove
to where the highway splits into two roads.
At that point all the traffic had slowed down.
I still remember Mama’s hand outstretched
to back the seatbelt up. “A mother’s love
and instinct,” as she said. Her college ring
is still so vivid in my memory.
The stone, whatever it was, was as black
as blood. A pickup truck caught up with us
in the lane to our left. We saw it come
and match our speed. I could not see the man
or woman driving even though we passed
it since the traffic started moving then.
Sometimes a driver leans the seat way back
so that it looks like no one’s at the wheel.
However, when I looked inside the cab,
some how, some way, I don’t remember now,
I saw the driver’s seat unoccupied
except for what appeared to be a pool
She gets the saucepan. The red stove plate is at nine. She has even pressed booster because dessert is soon. “He wants pudding. He gets pudding,” says Mummy. But he’s not even my real dad. I stop her hand halfway, pull her hand toward the door. I point to the snowy hillocks without snow angels. The stove plate is burning. A fiery red glares at us. Nine flashes on, off. She wins the fight.
The red circle ends its temper tantrum. She lowers the heat to six. Full cream milk and corn starch thicken like the snow outside. My mother’s hand flicks me away as if I’m an annoying red bug. I sit in a corner of the kitchen, where the hinges are loose and the door hangs. I bury my head in my knees and cry. When that doesn’t work, I think about the fiery cooktop and have a tantrum too.
The man that’s not my real dad bends down, smiles. “How bout we go make a snowman while the pudding cools?” I’m on a roll, so I say, “No snowmen. I want to make snow angels.” “Then snow angels it is,” says the man who could be my dad.
Is it the moon or the room?
The flickering lights seem to want to speak,
not in shades of orange,
but in bursts of dimming and fizz.
I gape from behind the secondary double glazing
as clouds wash over the night,
a few flares of light tease
like the lamp in my room.
I gaze at the ceiling lights –
spots of nothing doing nothing.
Out there the blue supermoon hides,
draped in passing rags.
This old coaching inn harbours many ghosts,
and tonight they dart and worry,
playing with the lights while the muddied sky
dash my view of the moon.
Shadows flit in dark corners of the room,
the cupboard door that doesn’t shut.
My heart flutters as the bar below closes
and silence penetrates the exposed beams.
Come now, I say, and switch off the lights,
nose pressed against the window.
I blow at the clouds
as a chill fills the room.
With their colours matching, red moon, red coat,
there was just a matter of distance
and perspective. She was small in its presence,
but once in space she knew she would float.
It was such a huge leap, from skin to moon rocks,
even in new boots, gloves and thermal socks.
But the colours matched, red moon, red coat.
Once on its surface, which she hoped would be soon,
the leaps would improve, with no gravity on the moon.
She imagined looking down at the distant blue planet,
colours still matching, red moon, red coat.
Her hand steadied me, provided for me
when she didn't have to, when she was
the only one that cared. She perceived
my trembling inner-child unnurtured
by my narcissistic natal mother;
my soul-friend understood, I had to learn
to balance, to raise my eyes and grow. I
found my feet gazing at her lived-in skin.
She offered acceptance, faced with my
unsure, scared belligerence. She soothed
my agitation to a steady beat. One night,
lit up by lunar lights, I dared to trust
myself, raise my eyes and embrace
my providence. Hopes spun within
the spheres: a rare harvest moon.
Selene's skirts swirled in clouds
as I remembered my protector's
signet ring. Her band, her hand
had guided me to love my life,
to live my life with confidence
and in my turn, to give.
Running away from home is never easy. It takes a lot to place that one step out of the threshold. You think a thousand times to walk out on a life that you build from thousands of pieces of a jigsaw puzzle mapped on the floor of your bedroom. I can see the gateway is guarded by a thousand questions, all of them just for an action that might take a second. It seems like an unfair deal to me. I push those questions into the corners of my mind and charge toward the unknown that awaits me. Right at the sill, I gasped. This will either be my death or my redemption from ruin. I squint my eyes tight enough to cage the fears behind them and loosen the grip on my feet for the moonwalk. I raise one step. The rough bulge of cobblestones beneath the sole of my foot marks the start of the path of no return. The next step has to follow, for who would want to hang in the balance for an eternity? I dare to bring my feet back together. My eyes open to the reflection of an old friend on the pathway. The luminance calls me to have a look at the open sky. In the pitch-black silence of the night, I am bathed in the light of a super blue moon. I am baffled by the closeness of the world it holds and the world I hold within me. It is exactly like my dream from the other night, or maybe it is my dream. It grows bigger and bigger on top of me, but wait. It is actually me who is shrinking back to the size of a little girl. I can see the intricate web of colonies of life on the rocky lands, and I wonder, “We really made it to the moon.” An old farmerette resting on the bench waves at me. The wrinkling lines on her hands have a story to tell. I immediately think of ways to get to know her. My tiny figure has grown too small for a crimson heart that is too big. It needs to be set free. I cup my hands around my mouth and let her know, “I will write you letters and seal them with pieces of my heart.” She smiles back at me. I know we both have stories to tell.
Moon as ripe as a fruit
drunk on sunshine,
pinned to its page, blue
like a lonely sigh.
I come to this place
make myself at home
for a while;
sit by the red flame
of its startled eye,
by the daily sight
of distance —
but distance does not
scare me anymore. Here
is where I nest
late at night, try to
connect the dots
Don’t look down, I say, but of course you do. You all do.
I follow the direction of your mitted hand and squint at the figure emerging from the darkness, summoned forth by your childish curiosity.
Ah. That’s who you would be if you went for a coffee with the guy sitting next to you in that literature class, the one with the kind eyes. You’d have a date that same weekend and then - I’ll skip the boring parts - marriage, two kids, couple counselling. You’d still divorce -
Separate, disconnect, divide, disunite, sever -
I trail off and the figure fizzles out like a burnt match. You are not listening, already skipping ahead, looking down, searching, pointing.
You, only this time you say no to the guy. You still get the marriage, the two kids, the couple counseling and the divorce, but with the woman with the loud laugh you meet at the Eagle the night you graduate. You’ll spill your G&T down her blouse and later that night you’ll claim that you can taste it on her skin -
It’s a drink, I say, but you don’t care about that, you don’t care about the answers, none of you do. You are here for the questions.
And who is that?
You, again. That too. And that - that one doesn’t get the marriage, doesn’t get to graduate either. You cross the road running after that rainbow ball you got for your fourth birthday and -
I remember the ball, you say and turn to look at me at last.
Who are you? You ask and I hold out my hand. You stare at the onyx ring on my finger, hesitate.
Take my hand and find out, I say, and of course you do. You all do.
my child watches
dances, sings the day long
like summer's cicada
light as a wasp that settles
is gone, in the same breath
like a summer swarm
yellow dark striped
shut up in the dark
she watches in delight
fearful, wasps emerge
disperse from burrow's bore
to sunlight’s yellow
she zooms below
my grown-up radar
on, off my hand
hard to know
the moon too
when it is gone
Landed on the hand of God,
she acknowledges the knuckle bumps.
Dressed for the chill;
pink puffer jacket, pink skin,
contrasting with the deep velvet
blackness of space
—the colour scheme of afterlife
a fashionable look—
the edgy moon-rock hanging there
pink as a peach,
like a special polished button.
Is she to become another ring
on God's finger?
She must decide soon,
the keen scent of adventure pulls
—its tidal wash—
and she has her own rings,
rubbing against the coins in her mitten,
As a child, I often saw my grandmother rubbing her knuckles, complaining of arthritis pain and stiffness, squeezing squishy toys and flexing her hands over an invisible typewriter. That didn’t stop her from preparing my lunch, slicing Velveeta with red thread wrapped around her fingers. She’d place the cheese on bread and toast it for me, then cut it into three thin strips. The melted cheese would ooze onto her knuckles and she’d raise them to my mouth so I didn’t have to let a single bit of that gooey goodness go to waste.
When she died, I chose a ring she wore once she couldn’t put on her wedding ring anymore. It’s gold with red and blue stones that make me think of the night sky. She said her mother gave it to her as a child, and I love the evolution of her wearing it again as an adult. It’s so big that I now wear it on my middle finger. Sometimes, I can still feel my teeth scrape against her knuckle, never tearing her tissue paper skin.
The world belongs to men. Nothing is created by woman’s hand alone; we delude ourselves if we see power where there is only co-operation. Our voices are heard (sometimes) with condescension, listened to with moderation (or not) as long as they are mild, undemanding, non-confrontational. When we raise our voices and our fists, we are condemned for unnatural, traitors to our femininity.
Because the world is the work of man. The role of woman is helpmeet. Even the name is a ghost word. We have never been equal in consideration and opportunity, except in the deep past, before humankind became mankind became conquerors. We are ghosts of that deep past, and we have the moon in our blood.
Perhaps that is why men are so obsessed with the moon. Not with its beauty, its mystery, not to understand and observe its influence on the natural world, but to claim, conquer, own. The moon, like a woman’s body, is a battleground, to be fought over, carried off as a prize by the victor, so the war can continue in the manly blood of the Red Planet.
Perhaps children, born of women, whose tides are drawn up and released by the moon, are also drops of the moon, tears shed for the world held in the silvery waters of the womb, that is now closed to them. Only when we cease to glorify brute force, aggression and unwavering ignorance, equating compassion with weakness and sharing with theft, will the world of the moon and the moon’s children return.
Blue moon doesn’t cut it anymore.
Why can’t we have pink and purple,
green and orange once a month,
when it swells to full, before being
sliced down to water melon slivers?
Is this just the Netflix mini-series,
the technicolour tale of some young kid
out walking under a deep night sky,
whisked away through wizard incantation
given a hand to see all satellite colours?
Release yourself from heavy
coats and boots of winter,
wiggle the toes and sense the air
scouting your arms and calves.
Consider the mud puddle, slide
the long grass along your tongue.
Sing in response to the sweet-
sweet-sweet of the cardinal.
In darkness imagine your guide,
the moon a bountiful platter
mirroring pink phlox-covered hills
of your imagination. Relieve
your mind of artificial restraints.
Let it loose into the unknown.
bare knuckle mountains.
back of the hand, a snowfield.
ice, a cold-hearted balancing act.
ring, a finger bandage.
pink supermoon shameful of people.
world salvation, a would-be gift to humans.
with finger glaciers
mountains knuckle barely.
snowfield, a handful of back pain.
action and imbalance, a cold-hearted ice melting.
bandaged finger, a ring buoy.
people of shame, moon-bellied super pink-faced.
human gift could be a salvation world-wide.
Rose red is the moon
on this summer’s day,
a petal floating free
from the hand,
perfuming distant skies,
The blossom of childhood
an ethereal moment
of promise and hope
before it too, drifts away.
Snow white is the moon,
of the winter age,
when cold bones recall
the blush-tinted memory
of that fragrant night
and the soul is warmed
for a little while.
He climbed the cot, found his fist,
sucked and greased it in readiness to punch
the candles from the cake.
His six brothers taught him to throw rude words
at ducks and crusts at old ladies.
Hardened on glass his fist grew large in warm
He threw away friends and boxed his neighbour.
One day he lifted a car to stare at the driver.
He had not been introduced to girls when one fell
at his feet, confused and clumsy he struck one last
liberating blow at himself.
Then he removed the gloves and took her hand.
The moon cried…
Blood red tears, peppering
the corpses of victims of crimes
The moon cried…
No! Each time Lachesis measured a
too short and brief a life to children
born to live below…
The moon cried…
Stop! As each child, curious to explore,
dressed in red, and hooded, skipped
to the forest, unwitting lupine sacrifices, below…
The moon cried…
At the signet rings worn by everyman
its eternal symbols, portraying pestilence,
famine, endless wars and countless deaths below…
The moon cried…
As each hand soaked in blood
mistreated, shaped and twisted all
it touched, when encountering life below…
The moon cried…
When finally, time ran its course, the fates
with no destinies to spin, or measure, or cut,
waved farewell, as all surviving life below, died.
moon— I would
lift you, child,
to it, toward that
great eye above
us in the heavens.
I would give you
the whole world
before there is
of it, before we
look up and cannot
see the moon, red
or silver, shining
above us, hidden
by the smoke and ash
and dust from our industrial
fires and voracious thirst.
Will Moon miss
the tides she governed?
Will she notice no one
gazing up at her as you
will do now, my hand
guiding you upward
toward a future
waxing and waning.
Once again Mary could not sleep. She could never sleep the first night in a man’s place. The moonlight might have been foam from a cold cappuccino. Running her finger along dusty blinds, she pictured herself cleaning them. As if that could help her fall asleep. It couldn’t even turn off her mind. And she was not the kind of girl who cleaned someone else’s apartment. Not on the first night.
Instead she traced a cat’s path through the several rooms: kitchen, living room, study, bathroom, but not the bedroom. No, in the bedroom, David was sleeping, with Emily the cat at the foot of the bed. The tabby had been glaring at her anyway.
Mary did not turn on any lights until she stepped into the study for the third time. Perhaps reading the <em>New Yorker</em> would put her to sleep. Or a math journal could confuse her enough. She turned on the light. This study was a museum of old science fiction paperbacks, some faded and yellowed, with rubber bands around them. She looked for something newer, found a book about Mars by someone named Kim. Books had taken over the room’s armchairs. As if she were younger, she crouched on the hardwood floor.
Somewhere into the first chapter, she let the book drop. Later she saw the moon, alone in the starless sky, as if through a filter of watered-down blood. A little boy in a red snowsuit scampered up and down a woman’s hand as if it were a snowdrift. She wondered if he was her brother who had been born dead. If he had lived, his hair would have been like hers: thick, black, straight. She didn’t know what he was trying to tell her, but then she had never told anyone about her dreams of him. She knew not to tell her
I can’t remember if we watched cartoons together,
Or played marbles on the road outside ,
Or hid our favourite toys from each other.
I can’t remember if you liked to draw,
Or play with plastic soldiers,
Or just make up stories like me.
I can’t remember if we loved the same football team,
Or argued about our best player,
Or celebrated that cup win.
I can’t remember if I wore your hand-me-downs,
Like the red quilted coat,
Or the blue mittens threaded through the sleeves.
I can’t remember if you ever saw the blood moon,
Or lay in the back garden stargazing,
Until mam told you to go to bed.
I can’t remember if you borrowed my favourite shirt,
Or if you stole my new girlfriend
Or just gave me some brotherly advice.
I can’t remember if we became inseparable,
Or drifted apart as brothers can,
Or just became ambivalent to each other.
I can’t remember our parents trauma,
Or if mam cried thinking of you
When she was holding me in her arms.
I can’t remember you, Albert
Because you were killed at the age of six
And I hadn’t been born yet.
Once, in a blue moon, sphere alight,
desire woke us from our slumber
of lesser onus, an ancient appetite upon us,
two famished wolves trapped within
our own doors, hungry for more
life, for purpose, for progeny to raise
toward the empyrean, and higher,
bedroom burning, a tidal fire,
engulfed in waves until we drowned
in Yes. We said, Oh come
be our child, wind of change, blow down
this stagnant house, and quick—
midnight pulled you in, raised a blaze
of hope from darkest hour, and later,
as we handed sweets to trick-or-treaters
bundled in costume and coat, you spun
on the backs of our fingers— a secret
only we conceived.
Sand-washed horizons have never cloaked you
so cerise as this night.
Dry, rocky bowls and hollows,
gigantic peaks, never beckoned you so.
And yet the would-be voyager
in apparel of a similar hue
is drawn to the wrinkled hand of Earth Mother,
the chill of polar permafrost
dialling into the radiating core
of its molten lava heart.
The hand that wears the ring of eternity
stirs the broth and breaks the bread.
I crumble and coalesce,
de-focus and reassess.
Do we blindly follow?
The porridge of uncertainty is burning on the hob,
bubble away, smorgasbord
of pot pourri!
Tempus rerum imperator.
Come eat and drink with me!
Dear untrustworthy politician,
(as if there is any other kind),
Yes, you, with your signet ring
and embossed gold band.
You who have always believed
that if it cannot be grown,
it must be mined,
and if it cannot be owned,
it must be colonized.
I see you toying with
the only planet we all call home,
thinking you can pull it back
from the brink of annihilation.
But in your shriveled heart,
I think you know the truth.
You have pushed your avarice so far
that well before the sun burns itself out,
future generations might well not survive.
And so, with your uncanny ability
to make the problem you created
a shared burden for all mankind,
you eye the moon as a future colony.
You hold children’s lives
in the palm of your hand,
as you speechify ad nauseam
about the glories of space travel
I'd been walking like a little kid, like I used to as a child. At the store, the row of aisles shone like a carnival fair—Valentine red, neon blue. I hadn't been thinking about my past, cause I didn't want one, and I wasn't thinking about my future, cause it seemed so vast I couldn't picture it. There was just the stepping, the putting of one foot in front of the other; and then there was her. She was always with me. She was like the snow that falls out of your window all night long—you didn't have to see her to know she was always at arm's reach. Landing, she would progressively fill the ground with warmth, radiating it all the way to your bed. In the morning, there would be those few seconds after waking up, where you wouldn't immediately remember where you were, and the world might have instinctively seemed like a threatening place. But then, you would see that sheer, crystal light infusing the room; then, you would suddenly remember. You would know that the snow had come, and that the ground would be soft now, and that there was no way that falling could ever, ever hurt you, at all. It would be like coming down the stairs on christmas morning and being greeted by the glowing tree, suddenly remembering that, on this day, the world couldn’t, in any way, fail you. Having her with me was like that. Of course, it wasn't always easy to keep her, so much so that most my life seemed to consist of those first moments of consciousness after sleep; only rarely did the pleasure of remembering come to me. Because, in the face of all my seemingly established wiseness, my memory of her was prone to fallacy, and my awareness of her once-so-solid existence was only dim—was, in fact, as feeble as a candle-flame. One gust of wind and I would return to unconsciousness. So that day, on my walk, I chose to step into a winter state of mind; a christmas state of mind, I decided that, no matter the weather and the on-dragging dullness of my routine, it would be a snowfall kind of day.Read more >
A hand can
be a canyon
if you’re small
enough to stand tall
to mount a
pinked by fuchsia
lunar rays a rarity
like Blood Falls
(iron-tainted icy plumes)
fleeing from the
maw of some
or a salt flat
yet to be
Regolith arcs of dusty feeling
Kissing over the scratches on the lune
Burning pink like how scars tingle
When you are remembering childhood
It communicates with liquid spears
(As they cross streams with the moon's tide)
It just wordlessly makes sense
I'm in a memory of snow angels
Before it all melted away
Horoscopes speak of renewal
With the magnitude of the moon's blushing
Like the universe bled on it
Or the gods spilled their wine
At the party where they scoffed stars and whipped each other with astral belts
As a child, I am at the mercy of these hedonists
Who lay down the high speed rail
That obliterates the ossuaries
Where they play voodoo dolls with children
And deform hearts just for fun
But now that I'm older, I've chosen my own god
She's beautiful during eclipse
I do wolfish things during her interregnums
Where I swallow my victims whole and I laugh with big teeth
But the days return to tame me with lashes of light
Domesticate me with father’s wishes
Long gone are the days of snow angels
I am like the moon
so she said, her blind
eyes blazing, glazing the
silvered dunes even as droplets
dripped down her legs.
First blood, she tittered, first blood to Me!
We listened as if the sharks
of the sea would come forth,
gaping vampire teeth bared to eat
her shins, her thin little thighs.
But only sighs of waves touched our ears.
The blood and silver mixed
on the shifting duplicitous sand, twisting pink
Girls' pink, cooking, dishes in an iron sink.
I'm a woman, she laughed, I'm a-
But, oh, I would remain a child!
Because when they saw blood
they smiled, and clamped on a bra
and did things so vile
the moon could not bear
to be compared to that girl
who was, in truth, still a bloody broody child.
The room erupted with cheers of joy as the mission successfully landed on the south pole of the Moon. It was an unprecedented step for the country’s space mission. Plans were afoot to send man once again to the Moon in two decades’ time. Packets of sweets were distributed. The backlava, the cashew pakoras and jalebis disappeared in no time.
‘Raghav, I know what you are thinking,’ smirked Bhavish beside him. ‘You are thinking - I want to be the first from the country to go to the moon.’
Raghav’s eyes widened with astonishment. How could Bhavish read his mind?
‘Forget it. You cannot even write cursive ‘s’ neatly,’ Bhavish smiled an evil smile and capered away.
Half an hour later, Raghav’s mother buttoned up his red woollen jacket, covered his head with the hood and both of them began their walk back home. Raghav tightly clasped his mother’s hand.
‘Are you cold, dear?’ his mother asked.
‘Just a few minutes and we’ll be home,’ she said.
Raghav looked up. The moon glowed like a bright incandescent bulb lighting up the night sky.
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ Raghav’s mother smiled at him.
Raghav nodded and kicked a small stone that lay on his path.
The pink moon rises
in April when winter
reluctantly releases its grasp
on the Northern Hemisphere
but early morning bus stops
keep thick coats in rotation.
I can remember when
I could hold all of him
cradled in my palms
fingers contoured to the curves
of his downy head.
How many moons does it take
before my boy no longer
reaches out for my hand?
Time is warping,
falling away, too soon.
Under a blood-red moon
only the child is oblivious
to gravity's push & pull.
We haved loved,
vows sealed with a ring,
brought life into being,
this briefly held joy,
so fleeting, so full.
Stop, look up,
and watch yourself
fall to earth. Remember
to catch it on camera
on the way down.
The skin o' the moon,
scarred and wrinkled
much like our own,
time-drubbed on its
long arc to dust.
Karpe didn’t want to read the book in her home, where noises made by other tenants would disturb her. She wanted a quiet ambience.
After dinner, she took the book from a shelf and walked to the town’s outskirts. Here, she sat on a boulder and waited for the clouds to pass and reveal the moon, so she could read by its light.
Before long, a full moon emerged and Karpe opened the book. As she did so, the pages glowed red. The story’s lettering then drifted from the pages and coalesced into a pebble that adhered to the boulder.
Karpe flicked through the book. Every word had gone.
She scowled and addressed the pebble. ‘I will find a way to recover the story you have stolen.’
The next day, she returned to the boulder with a jeweller.
‘I need you to remove that pebble and set it in a gold ring,’ Karpe said.
‘Because within it is the story I had intended to read.’
The nature of this commission intrigued the jeweller, so he did as Karpe asked. A month later, he presented her with the ring.
‘What sort of story does the pebble hold?’ the jeweller asked.