- Vol. 04
- Chapter 03
My mother's parents lived in a region that was out of touch, countrified and deliciously backward. The roads that led to their house were all packed earth, dusty furrows in the summer, soon lined with amber posts to guide the snow-ploughs. My father, who had grown up in a wide-open floodplain, open to cars and to the future, where news from the capital rippled in, had gone to join my mother in this place apart, high above France, where my grandparents doted on ewes wrapped in a swaddle of greasy wool. Up on the plateau he felt as though he’d travelled back in time, travelled into memories: the memories of the people from up there, the keepers of the flock, the guardians of the land my father used to say. Then he and my mother had moved down into a valley that was more temperate and modern.
In that comfortable valley I’d go to sleep every night with a book of stories given to me by my grandmother, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, which I never read. It was my mother – long after I learned to read, in fact – who would read aloud to me every evening til we reached the end of the story, and the following day we’d begin again, always with the same story, my favourite fairy tale, ‘The Ice Queen’. Really it was called ‘The Snow Queen’ but my mother had transformed it just for me. Sure as ice I believed that my grandmother ruled this realm, the kingdom of the cold, the fairy kingdom.
The cover of the book was blue, with, still clinging to it here and there, the white tissue paper that my grandmother had wrapped it in and I'd never wanted to remove: I’d just torn it enough to open the book. Time and our long evenings of reading had worn it away so all that remained were a few wisps of the soft paper, stuck there by the grease from my hands endlessly turning the pages. Read more >
These are the things we cast off.
A wedding dress
spreadeagled on the shore
limp as a body bag.
Inside: a still-beating heart
that flutters with the wave pulse.
The sky is blue as a dart frog.
The wedding dress is a plastic bag
to wrap around the pale beak of a gannet.
is pressed on the beach like baby’s breath
between the pages of an old book
while jellyfish splay themselves;
tiny glaciers melting in the sun.
The heart keeps rhythm with the tide.
Above, a lacework of clouds
lift their flimsy petticoats
as sailing ships weigh anchor
and drift like something
risen from, or returning to, the sea.
By the time the children emerged from their shelter the plane had already ceased to be a plane, a technological marvel transformed into debris the moment the rocket hit.
It was the first time that the girls could remember any of the many projectiles fired off their fathers’ shoulders actually finding a target.
The bravest of the girls rushed out as soon as they heard the explosion (a sound, it turned out, that was different from the ones they heard regularly, when it was the planes that inflicted damage), in time to see bits of flaming detritus still falling from the skies, a spectacle put on for them. A tree was on fire, its leaves shimmering like a hundred small mirages. Pieces of fabric and sheets of papers were still feathering down from the sky long after the first children reached the wreckage.
The pioneers motioned for the remaining children to come out, there was nothing to fear. They scurried out to the wide plains beneath the mountains and began dancing amidst the metal, holding hands and running in circles. Some picked up small pieces of debris to keep as souvenirs, others slalomed between the flames with their arms out pretending to be planes themselves. If the pilot had gone down with the aircraft, none of the girls saw him.
Soon the men would come down from the mountain -- their jubilant voices could already be heard approaching -- fathers would immediately shoo away the girls to take victorious photographs atop the wreckage, hunters before their slain prey. They would preen for the cameras, making faces that their daughters would never otherwise see. Behind the fathers the boys would rush, the rifles clumsy and far too big for their shoulders but carried with such seriousness that few girls ever dared tease them.Read more >
freeze shall all dreams after
skull fractured by impact
of another head once
in shadow play my lights
around head totally spin
splutter and shakes
the water around the brain
can take so much
dribbles out of the nose
of the concussed like vinegar
hearing under water now
what you say
charging elephant in profile
charging across the field
out of the blue
in the head
with a head
now I like to feel the dent
of the hairline gently
when we the fizz
of tender bone
slept for about a week
before staging some regal
perpendicular to any a former
though still attached from the front
this new person
leave the mound to drown
it lies away
from where it began
ghost - like, a shadow
of a silent jelly fish -
or is it simply the outline
of an unkempt promise?
Clumsy, almost invisible,
like some of us: Lost
picked up and placed
where it belongs
(now that is far, far away
from where it began).
Wispy and visual blue
Parachute skeins cloth
I wonder it was accident
No human being as the dress
And parachute entangled amorously
Where are the wearers
As if leaving the scar of something
But blue blue like sky
And not a sign
Not a soul
And love left all alone.
it twists, and, beloved, what is
blue is not always
what we feel, and what is
new is every shape it makes
as it slips, see the face, see
the eyes and watch
as the wind
you were not
it and everything,
beloved, is refreshed.
tissue thin, harmonic chords, angels wings,
It`s only in the blue that white can breathe,
like pushing the sail boat out for the first time
on the lake, we all know those whispers.
It`s only on a backdrop of blue that it can float,
forming and un-forming itself, the white fluff of thought,
as if blue the actual colour has nothing to say
about the ethereal existence of something so very soft.
It`s blue and white, or is it white and blue,
ghosts would know, would feel the substance
the creases so impermanent, would you hear them
each whisper of the coming, the aliveness of it all.
cwóman wan under wolnan
it happens every time
swans - absurd and sentimental-
slow down winter water’s mirk
black-legged spirals of light with well-oiled sails
like the mind’s intended space they find new water
through the pulp of twilight
i saw them
a sprinkling of salt
the white had made them
pale shrouds of sadness.
Constantly I retrace each
dimension of my heart
yet find no refuge.
Wanting to find one thing
to fill the big emptiness.
Within that deep quiet
small awakenings begin.
A fragile butterfly
bright blue flame taking
flight . . . winging up up.
Part smoke, part silk, liquid and solid.
A hint of underwear and tissue?
At odds with the dull euphonium
blurting raspberries through ticker tape
behind your left eyeball. Or your right?
You can't tell one side from the other
until you know which way up you are.
Perhaps you'll just lie here and remain
pinned into the blue sheets, the blue bed
the blue absence of someone you hurt?
Love, fragile as spider film in rain.
The midday world outside is wild and blue.
The band retreats. You open one eye. Move.
The remnants of my being, of who I was
Blue-rinsed ladies, blue berets
Snag at the sac which carries me
Chattering classes and weaponed warriors
Tear every message apart
Denying me my right to be
And I am lost in translation
This is the Fall
Trampled by the blue-rinsed ladies, the blue berets
In their march of unacceptable unacceptance
Pallbearers to the shrouded voice
Suffocated with plastic platitudes
As the incensed censer swings
Purging belief, thought and the Word
Wrapping it in cotton wool
Until then …
No-platform you say
And you stitch my mouth
With your needle of intolerance
Your thread of conformity
Forgetting I can speak with my body
Reshaping the world in pen and ink
I am the recusant
Falls into sand with each tick
There is a butterfly down
Her voice is a wrapper floating to earth
Fails to contain
The post desertion
Fingers on mobiles
Tap code into the ocean blank
As she stands there
Her ankles weaken
One straight line points outward
All other directions dissolve
She exits fast
Through the arched doorway
Leaves only a tissue
a colony of jellyfish stranded
on the dunes
But when it settled down in the town square; when we rushed up to touch it, they detached themselves from its cloak, translucent as ghosts, and drifted out among us. And when they moved toward the mountains, all the children followed.
No music, no Pied Piper playing or Orpheus strumming his lute, yet our children left us, obedient to the cadence of their shimmering dance.
from house to house
the rising wind
The saddest thing, the desperate tearing of her heart and tail.
I listened in awe, desperately shredding my tissue.....and dropped it.....
All colour has been stripped away -
Everything is paused.
In hedgerows, brittle stems
Of nettles, dill and cow parsley
Tangle like umbrellas in a porch.
We are resigned to long days of rain
And welcome a sudden change to snow
When, in the morning, the bowl
Of sky is china blue and almost clear again.
The fragment of silk - she'd decided it was silk - had moved away from the pier now and was heading out into the water. She decided it was part of a wedding dress. Perhaps the bride had drowned herself; perhaps the groom had taken her sailing and thrown her overboard.
Her mother always did say she had a vivid imagination.
There was a seam in the fabric and she found herself wondering who had sewn it. It looked professional - as far as you could judge - not something made by hand like her sister's wedding dress. That marriage hadn't lasted - and now her own was in trouble. Not that she'd worn white: blue had been her colour of choice; blue silk, a dress made in India and costing a grand total of £40. She could still get into it - just. There was a shout of triumph from behind, followed by a clattering of coins; someone had obviously won on the slot machines. 'Bet they feed it all back in,' she thought grumpily. When she turned back to look at the sea, the fragment had gone. Drowned perhaps. After all, nothing stayed afloat for ever. She turned and walked back to the shore, back to where home lay waiting.
A tattered cloth to pass around,
barely a shadow wisp
scattered across a blue wall,
a veil over which to argue
Not to see through, mind you,
not a lens
a garment for more useless
arguments at inconvenient
and unexpected hours
A trace outline
(what might have been,
what was supposed to be)
superimposed over what is.
We are saying goodbye in 2 weeks,
but I want you to know
that this letting go –
is not my giving up.
I am celebrating your half-moon shape,
and your delicate demeanor.
I praise your ability to expand and contract –
your blessing of two healthy sons.
Just between you and me,
you do know what a miracle you are, right?
This long road has been circuitous.
We have traveled a painful path,
and now that there is nothing left for us to weather –
nothing left to fill,
it is time to go.
I feel like I should give you a proper send off.
A proper outing?
You will be out soon enough.
Maybe we will just sit with each other
and ponder the universe within.
We have been to war with our cells,
with tissue, veins, and masses –
with cysts, fibroids, Endometriosis,
IVF egg harvesting, and embryo transfers.
this world and the next.
Between life and death.
We are all born
with a sheer caul of nature.
Wispy, it clings to our faces,
holding us together.
Clean, clear, light, and undemanding.
As we age, the wispy folds
begin to gray.
The tissue thins
and slowly deteriorates.
We step into the next level
Or more harshly, a sudden
accident or quickly moving disease
rips the caul from our face.
Torn abruptly from this world,
we cross to the next.
keep me safe.
Be strong and fibrous yet
for many a year.
by the vegetables thin filmy
a better class of ectoplasm
for the 21st century medium
who is mistaken about the haunting
she is faking
he inhabits the curtain
blue as the sea he swam in
blue as his open eye
wide under the water
blue as the drowning
floating soul that rose flew
much like the motion
of the bag in the wind
much like its slow shredding
fading until all that is left
is the blue this blue
Naked at the ankles
Rain caught us
Melted pressed words
Perfume and cologne
We touched each other’s elbow
Felt the other out
Tested the waters
Searched for connections
Over gooseflesh lines
Too long hugs
Stuck like cohesive super glue
Pinpointed to balloon-pop
the thing that wouldn’t escape my mind
was that plastic bag
filmed blowing in the wind.
Only a nihilist
could think it’s the most beautiful thing
that they’ve ever seen.
Because a polymer that can’t decompose.
It isn’t half as beautiful
as the rocky, bumpy, bloody, heart-breaking,
organic mess that is life.
Everything is born, everything grows,
and everything dies in life.
But plastic doesn’t live,
and plastic doesn’t love,
so unless everything means nothing,
the dance of a plastic bag
is not the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen.
sails cutting lines through postcard blue,
sandcastles swallowed by the shuffling tide,
starfish bleached in shallow pools,
ice creams melting on a boardwalk bench,
jingling silver in the penny arcade,
hand in hand, sand in shoes,
seaweed kisses in the pier’s shade,
the livid V on your pale throat,
prosecco lips, insincere avowals,
smoke rings looping through paper sky,
fumbled undressing in a tent of towels.
Lighting candles of illusion
Add to words decay”
The most spiteful role
Stigmata inked in darkness
Paperweight heavy, the Poets soul
Identifies, with sadness
Nothing at all
Worth writing about
Defying self- explanation
While goodness graces
Without a prayer
The white sheet covers
with their weighted brass
bases rising curved into space.
Polished to a kind of intimate
invitation that speaks
to the smooth-skinned
among us: surely
that surface would suit
the palm of your hand.
No. This bird is flimsy, flat
with the suggestion
of wrinkles, illusion of wind
pushing it northward, off course,
but not—we’ll concede—unpleasantly so.
Caught in a barbed wire fence in a Kentish field edge, it flapped itself to my attention. Locals had been mysterious, cagey even, about it. They sent me in wrong directions, told me it was all rumours, said, ‘why would the last plastic bag in the world be here?’
They had been protecting it, I swear. Shielding their secret from hunters like me. Many had come here before me, hearing the same stories; sightings of a plastic bag in the wild, glimpses of something white and rare while driving down the A2 to Dover. They had come but no one had found it. Until now. I have camped in the nearby Covette Woods for six days, systematically covering every acre of land in a two mile radius from my camp. I was about to give up, but then I saw it, flittering in the wind, a beautiful splish of white on a synthesized green canvas.
People always asked me what I would do if I ever found it. Would I take it home to the lab for analysis, risking government intervention and the weird form of fame that comes with plastic pursuing? Would I leave it in the wild knowing that I knew where it was, but no wishing to interfere with nature’s course? Would I trade it privately on eBay for millions of pounds?
Read more >
Almost a sky in sea
or a skin lifted on breath,
coaxed by a current.
Carrier, no more virgin.
A grand breach renders you art;
embryonic folds untwist
like white flames, luminous,
suspended in clear blue.
Sheer as chiffon, merest gauze,
floating for long decades,
breaking down in silt, or soil.
A scrap, briefly dancing,
washed in cerulean.
I heard the words “Rhone”, “mountains” and “autumn” and of course I thought blue. I thought it would be a blue world, shiny and cool, the sky a stretch of aquamarine, the water soft. I imagined everything would revolve around the river, that you would be able to see it, or smell or hear it, in every corner of the town, in every sweet shop or bakery or church. Something that big, that impressive – something that showed up on maps, a thin blue cut – must be the centre of work and leisure, must be where lovers walked and kids played and fish swam and birds swooped.
But as the taxi carried me from the airport to the centre, through flowery streets and past old walls – I saw no water. I was parched and aching. It was hot, hotter than an autumn had a right to be. Hotter even than the summer I spent in a different part of France, where lizards and caterpillars crowded the baking roads. This should be different, I thought. We are further north, and it is September. But the ground was bone dry and burnt my fingertips when I crouched and touched it. I straightened up. This time would be different. The world was older and wiser. Things would be calm.
Caught up and captured by a current of air.
Floating with abandon.
Ripped apart and torn.
A fragment of your former existence.
How does it feel
To have no control?
Waiting for the next breeze
to capture you
and whisk you off somewhere.
Where will you end up?
The uncertainty of not knowing
And maybe not caring.
eyes close within the dark and dappled ground
A breath is taken and justly slowed
As a heartbeat gentles within your soul
A soft silence begins to enfold
As the soul begins the astral travel
upon the gentled plain
Swirls of light wraps around your limbs
lightening the heavy load
that weighs you to the ground
As your raise your soul to the higher plain
The astral traveller of the soul
Gentle words come floating in
Encouraging sounds ..... rushing in
Music filters through the strings
On the consciousness of Astral Travellers
That returns to the feathered down
Heartbeat returns to normal pace
eyes awaken to sights unseen
Words given, pride of place
From the Astral traveller upon the plain
handle-jaw aghast at the way life
can flatten us.
the seam is not where we split, but a place
wholly unexpected, everything spilling,
skin pleating into ghosts,
a shadow puppet or blastocyst,
an elegant crane or an African mask,
ripped from context.
gusted, we butterfly open, soles
arching to shoulder blades,
contortionists under kliegs.
breaking in tenterhook silence, we wait
for applause that doesn’t come,
aghast, our handle-jaws unhinged.
awakes the blue sky of dreams
a new year
a new sun in the clear sky
a Victorian song
a white piano
dreams inside the halo
of the morning prayer
a miracle of time standing still
within the paintings will
I too was green, a child,
in the green of summertime,
wading into the limpid element,
seeing clear to the sand,
bare feet nudging empty oyster shells.
I'm blue now, dreaming of you, gazing up
at the towering aquarium tank,
sea nettles undulating through time--
O Death where is thy sting?
Where are thy tentacles?
I am not a child anymore.
I may not be born anymore.
I may go on drifting like you, like you,
feeding on nothing but empty blue.
Where is that summer, those sea nettle stings,
the welts on my legs, my tears and whimpers?
Where is that school book's photograph,
that Man O'War devouring me
like time, old age, decay?
I'm harmless now, no more women adore me,
nor I them; I adore what they are not,
they adore what they have dreamed.
Soon I won't see them, they won't see me.
Swirling about like a tumbleweed.
that I wanted no one to see,
now transparently free.
Shame floating beneath me,
Submerged and hidden,
beautiful and worn,
the excess of me.
The light filters up and it releases me.
Parting ways and now I can breathe.
I’ll float away, as you drown me.
a gift from her mother resurfacing memories.
The laughter of family and friends filling the room,
the sounds of voices singing “Happy Birthday,”
and the gifts. The most precious one, the scarf.
She’s back to the present reality and then a terrible memory.
With her body trembling, she sees it so clearly in her mind.
Her mother missed one step and tumbled down the stairs, still and lifeless.
The scarf a constant reminder.
She finds herself with scissors cutting it up into tiny pieces.
Horrible memories fade with the scarf.
When I was twenty-two, I saw through
the dramatic orange crackling of everything
and I just wanted to go into the fire, to meet you.
I don’t look to you for rescue, oh no –
I want to arrive at your brush like a blank canvas.
At thirty-three I rattled my white bones
and danced with the spirit of blackness
like a cat of nine lives. I wanted no lies nor spring.
How could I be happy with this green,
the loudest of them all, the irritating simpleton.
I cracked open into redness at the age of thirteen
like an impatient watermelon, and I reaped a scarecrow
and soft buttercups. Still I am without your touch.
But how do I get out of dawdling in this yellow
without your touch. The years stack up like brown bricks. At last
when I find you, not beneath the ocean nor above the sky,
but sleeping in the cornflower field of my palm, these veins
near the heart line – an atlas, a knowledge, an untouchable presence,
I’d smile, and know you have always been mine.
had tattered into
It hung, suspended
in water, like jelly
from a wrecked medusa,
the bag handle gathered
like nerves in living tissue.
The blind ocean seemed to give it mind,
drifting with a purpose:
there forever, and
gradually choking everything.
Tattered remnant of decorative splurge
plastic apron clung to the shower curtain,
testament to bathroom passion,
as sweaty bodies
smeared with peridot
strove for breath
on the tiled floor.
Her eyes quartered
the small space,
noting the throe-strewn tin and tray
cowering in opposite corners:
that the brush was in the toilet.
In retrospect, she commented inwardly –
while revelling in the afterglow –
it might have been more productive
to tackle the ceiling clothed.
But it set me thinking.
Why a veil? I wasn’t going to wear one for the old reason, my hymen being long gone, so I told my husband-to-be I'd decided not to. He got upset. He said it was traditional.
And that set me thinking some more.
I said we should ask people not to wrap up the presents they might give us, either. All that paper. Such a waste. But he got even more upset. He’d been looking forward to doing things with those Black-and-Decker wotsits he’d asked his brothers to give him (he’s got six) but he didn’t want anyone else knowing he’d asked for them. ‘It’s a wedding, after all,’ he said. ‘Not a do-it-yourself convention.’
So, dear reader ... in the end, I didn't.
a frail candescent wound
a spreading melt
opening and opening
a hole for a throat she is
silent as blue
a fraying bone
a white dissolve
lost as sea ice
an ache light as lace
she drifts a bright shadow
her breath being water
floats gossamer in the air.
Shivering cold, the form
has evaporated into ether.
Captured in a frenzy
of disembodied frankness
she lifts her head and arms
towards the one she loves.
Her body, so light, breathes
frozen wishes of immortality.
Her dress is captured, suspended
in an inconsequential discussion of anxious eternity.
who has a story as everybody has
her history a long one
of how she became a white shadow here
imitates a former self
a pale negative who will never speak
who will now never turn back
and look you in the face
at least she has become that transparent
has now reached the verge of non-existence
no bodily form
and a vestigial portrait that expresses disdain
she will not revive and continues on this course
a voyage only she can fathom
through a filament of blue
there is no substance in what she would never say
under the surface
as she fade fade fades
what we see when the eye
believes its purpose. Strange,
articulation of devoted
arranging within air, a
silence unaware its voice
then against the tongue’s
it defeated basic physics and took
my breath, to see you floating,
diaphanous, tenderly pulled by fingers
best associated with ghosts and gods
and stories made to droop the eyes
of children in warm beds soon to dream
of tenuous things, like your spirit,
just freed from its body to drift among
the jealous clouds and birds beating
their wings in rigorous, time-honored rhythm.
Shh! Look! Is that the sky or drowning? It is x - y = (2), she said. It is 'loves me and loves me not', she said ... Then... Let's just go, she said, let's be lost, she said, let's be circular, blue, like snow is.
Calling one home
"This is where you will find peace"
The weight of it all
too much, sometimes, to bear
sins upon the wings
and upward draft
as if tethered
not to the earth
but to a loftier source of calm
Perhaps one can soar
even with the weight of the world
Your gloating floating
Hell no I am not a cricket
I'm as loopy as a ring hung
Hot as the sun, cool as this
Photograph me before I evaporate
See if you can trace my jellyfish
Arms and halo life
Quiet me like a nurse maid.
A plastic jelly fish,
I take my tidal chances. Close to France,
In a ship’s wake,
I dance some empty dance –
And chance to catch the current shape of an old debate,
Who lose all there is to lose,
If not at home, then deep in the desperate sea.
If not behind the wire,
Then lost expensively,
Far from home and border, in dubious boats for hire.
A strange matter
To warp me, treading water . . .
But then: I touch upon that congregated
Welter where I
Belong. Swell populated,
A nation needing neither when nor why,
Without purpose or end-date:
Asylum welcomes me into its sightless empire.
Surely those who flee
In kindly boats for hire
Likewise are welcomed by those with eyes to see?
I watch the little puffs of clouds ripple in the water, the dirty blue of the sky stretched on its shivering surface. They blur suddenly as the first tear rolls down my cheek. I should never have stood up to the bullies, I am not a superhero.
My fingers curl over a little rock lying beside me. I fling it across the water, it lands on the other side of the broad drain then bounces back and drops into the water. The plonking sound has a domino effect. Anger gathers and spills into my belly like an ache. I grab a handful of stones and start flinging them with all my might. Some land on the other side while some plonk into the water. Tears and sweat blind me and I wipe my eyes with the back of my hands. I can't hide here forever.
There's a white plastic bag caught on a stick on the other side. The current is tugging at it trying to set it free. I watch fascinated by the little tug o' war. I find myself rooting for the plastic bag to set itself free and flow away. I try to will it free as though my wish is a force that can help. It bobs about for a while and I'm more worked up than I know. It is like me getting freedom and floating away. I throw stones in its direction falling short or off target.
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yet, i too profess often.
i am empty. very. but often, lifted by a false hope. one that becomes all too real. like mother's eyes. father's fear. often, an old house in a decrepit alley, where i want to live again. only to leave. leaving behind squirming scorpions with shiny claws. hungry.
again i am sad, too. often, believing and then rejecting you, as in you saying you are empty as well. i distrust words more than i trust them. but then also, i get happy that there is nothing to find. finally, respite from finding. and from losing. and then this: happiness and fulfillment do not need to meet always. what revelation. they do not need to sit side by side on the cold metal chairs, drink coffee, eat strange fruit, and watch the last sun set on the river that has changed course often than we think rivers should.
and then this: what a relieving pathology, that may not produce disease but will cause pain?
me all my hours
white goddess of the night
my fate lies in the lines that you
the clear blue light
of the morning after
the evidence lies in those lines
those telltale dragon signs
begetters of my paper moon's
The youngest boy, with flaxen hair and autumnal eyes, shivered and huddled beside his brother for warmth.
‘Perhaps we should leave it tonight,’ he said, stuffing his star-like hands into his pockets. ‘There’s always tomorrow.’
His brother snorted; the boy with copper hair and seaweed-green eyes, the boy who was three years older and should know better.
‘I knew you’d wimp out. You always do.’
He turned and moved away from his younger sibling, leaving him exposed to the harsh winter elements.
‘What are you still standing there for? Run back to Mom and Dad and blame me for everything.’
A ribbon of embarrassment streaked itself across the younger brother’s face and the boy clenched his fists.
‘The veil doesn’t exist anyway. You’re making it up.’
The older boy sneered, an ugly grin snaking across his mouth.
The younger boy nodded.
‘Well, if you’re not too much of a scaredy cat, you’ll follow me and I’ll show you that the veil does exist. But if you’d rather run home to Mommy–’
‘I’ll come,’ he said. ‘But you better not be lying.’
Read more >
is such an obvious thing,
everywhere and especially here.
To understand the concept
I need to look at artworks,
illustrated children’s books,
the screensaver of a friend’s laptop.
The sky is full
of bags and broken insects
being blown around
by invisible gods.
When there is a break,
an angel comes down on a sunbeam
and plays on the grass.
But angels are such
for one looking upwards.
You have to wait until night-time
for a demon to arrive,
with a mouth of red and revelation,
eating up all your prayers.
I am sick of the wind
(really, I am sick of my hair
and how the sea disagrees
with my conditioner).
Don’t think of me as a mermaid
(I am really washed up?)
ready to fall in love with
the first sailor I see,
all crisp blue and shining white,
tailored to navy standards
and lacking any real military experience.
Don’t think I won’t fight you
and hoist the ropes away from your grip,
turn the mainstay around
(I’m seen it in the movies, I know how)
and find my over little desert island
to cry on.
I’m not crying. I’m just blue.
Don’t think of me
as like you.
Filled with the promise
of friendly utility
with an easy acceptance
you crept into our lives
Unaware you would long outlive us
and our progeny
you tripped us up
How could we be
to your devious nature
of your takeover plot?
in a shiny suit
laying your traps
to strangle and subdue
She is facing away.
She is not an old bag despite what he told her. Her chin points to the depths, sinking to peace. No longer will its point move in speech, displaying the dimple beside her lip curl.
No longer will I watch her defiantly argue against the odds, against the system...against him.
Water; blue yet warm washes her. She is devoid of everything but one pearl earring and the legacy she left behind. I raise myself from my chair and head to the march to ensure her voice lives on. He will be there, watching me, hearing me. In his wallet, hidden is her second pearl earring.
in the gouged earth
in the scoured reef
on the slicked beach
in the tunnelled earth
in the ragged breath of townsfolk
but they will pass.
Earth will reclaim, refill, cleanse
but eons will pass
before the plasticmen
will relinquish their hold.
The drift and pull of moon-tide
will roil and tangle their flimsy grip
but not escape
they twine and twist
their granules lodge in secret places
by their presence.
On and on
the long-dead plastic men
tensed for your touch
velvet in the dark
by star in a silk slip
crushed and rippling
on the pink breeze
by streetlight as I
glow my lips
and nipples with gloss
by crescent moon, dressed
only in a bracelet
a snake with its silver tail
in its silver mouth
or, in nothing at all
save a splash of scent.
“It’s so beautiful,” I whispered not wanting to break the perfect silence that surrounded us.
“Not as beautiful as you,” Evan replied pulling me closer to him.
“How high up are we?” I asked watching my breath float upwards. I wasn’t cold, how could I be with Evan by my side.
“High enough to almost touch heaven,” he smiled.
I took in my surroundings. Stars brighter than I could ever have imagined. Close enough that I could almost touch them.
“How am I breathing?” I asked realizing I was suspended in space.
“You’re not,” Evan whispered running his fingers down my arms as I watched the world below.
“But my breath, I can see it,” I said motioning to the white mist floating upwards.
“That’s not your breath, that’s your soul speaking to heaven.”
“Yes Cassie, your soul. It knows where we are. It remembers the home that awaits it.”
I couldn’t speak, I had no words to answer Evan. I sighed and wrapped my arms tighter around his waist. I needed to be close to him, to feel his warmth. I’d never get enough of him.
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Kay cleaned, labelled and stored her treasures, with the most unusual on display for those who chose to make their way past the raised beds of carrots and frames of sweetpeas. Special acquisitions merited invitations to a new display, most recently the cat skeleton turned up by the gardener next door. She had laid out the fragile bones on a pale green cushion made, her sister saw with some dismay, from an old dress of which she had been particularly fond.
Kay preferred natural treasures. So at first she ignored the flimsy white fabric fluttering like a failing moth next to the style on Bayham Hill. But as a breeze took hold, an edge caught against a branch of hawthorn and seemed to unfurl and set sail. She unravelled the torn fragment to find herself with a flag of fine lace, the edges looped in scalloped embroidery, the net set with pale sewn flowers up to a harsh and violent rip. Kay ran her fingers along the edge and shivered. There was no one there but she felt as though even the trees were watching her. She folded the piece carefully and ran home all the way back down the field.
and consequent fold in the fabric
you left behind,
now rendered translucent by
time’s obvious workings.
It’s best that way--that it’s obvious:
the rusty planer in the corner,
the plastic bag we perhaps used to carry milk
for coffee and cereal
consumed during the mornings
we still endured our fragile
The bag now inhabiting the wind, left to swoop and dive
with exuberant abandon.
We’re told to tidy up,
but the tidier we are the more we notice
The ragged gauze
used for concealment
that always tore from overuse.
lands in a whisper
of silk on slate
clear shadows slant on the wall
where afternoon sun finds
gaps in blinds
she knows he watches
so she spins
turns in a whirl
of sun and shadows
dust motes drift
her skirts swirl
her hands snake in a rhythm
only she can feel
heat pricks her neck
the blush of her knowing
shows in her face
and sweat cools
making a dampness
on her back
(nothing to grasp at, teetering, riding along the precipice)
I dreamt of moving through crystals, shafts of them, beams of light reaching out radiant: and the two of us were climbing through windows and windows – you boosted me up, I grasped and pulled – my body was fleshy and not at all light.
the swell and the recession: gone, pulling, rippling below,
And then left behind, a hole in the air: the emptiness. the grief. the dust, maybe, or a dry lake, warm and dead.
I have known since the start of stars.
I’m coming in fresh from the Kármán Line;
falling through the fingerprint of isobars.
Whatever I capture in my Marsden square
I will broadcast back; record the dry punch.
My message reflects my medium.
I crossed the lines of the Marfa front.
I have taken what I can from what I found.
Get ready for the the fall out from this
after the coming of the loudest sound.
This is all mined, it’s what I do, what I must.
I’ll whistle my way in for you.
Let’s not forget the blue waiting for us.
of wayward fantasies,
into its wild incongruity.
A beautiful web,
It is but, a dreamlessness, of sorts.
I can sense,
the delicious fanaticism,
of a haphazard mind,
that fires shots
jolts you alive,
into the present.
Like the pretty expanse
Of the massive sea,
and the deep blue skies,
the wilderness spreads its wings,
from the beautiful blizzardness.
They label it as 'melodrama'.
and I cannot call my love
to be a generous blue.
Someone slits its throat everyday,
and I am love's favorite fool
believing life flies away
only to return.
I never notice the change.
How can I risk the sky
separating from its own
separating from its peace.
Clouds creep in to obscure and restrict your vision,
Choice never simply,
Hemmed in by anxiety, loss, responsibility or hopelessness,
Escape is not an easy option,
With your frail and flimsy dreams in tatters,
Close your eyes,
Be wafted on the healing winds of destiny,
To a brighter, lighter and enchanting place,
Illuminated by the dawn of a New Year.
memories turned liquid.
Once held in blue veined hands
it floated in the sea,
fragile, curling inward.
Shoulders drooped, eyes cast down
she swayed mimetically
with the ebb and flow.
Watched translucent shifting shapes
in currents beyond control.
Energy spent, time disappeared
as air turned from warm to cold.
Darkness overcame her grief
and she stared, eyes mesmerized,
into a rippled dark abyss.
moss green wood warblers
effuse beneath leafy
hands that unfurl
pied flycatchers flit
redstarts flick fiery tails
breathlessness and restraint
in nightingale pauses
earlier creamy cow parsley
licked hedgerow edges
as whitethroat songs incised blue sky
hurried fret against fall
of effortful feathers
eyelids swoop then lift
accept light again.
demon past, wings supersonic at the
mental defense encircling my brain.
I startle from my Rorschach dream
under the filigree super scrim upon
me. It supersedes my deep dream
with a stark, clear reality undreamt.
Faute de mieux, I drowsily reflect in a
phrase I learned in college French that
now comes unbidden to mourn me.
The plain white sheet sends a plain white signal
Torn and worn out after a purchase
The plain white bag comes with a message
Tired and weary after a long journey
The plain white bird soothes a lonely
Written and revised after a lengthy lecture
The plain white paper stores knowledge for future
Ah! the prism of life, the kaleidoscope of montage lights
Ultimately shrinks within stiff single sheet of whites
pleating white between the palms of Menara.
Blue words, an ochre stamp, a city liquid
with harissaed light, 'we have to meet
will Wednesday do?' Your writing floats.
I can almost hear hibiscus fall like silk,
my night disrobing in some Moroccan room.
That slipping stitch of alleys, a long obscure.
Walking wordless, mouth of sand and stone.
Air has no weight, you left back then, before.
There's this whimper of grey on my river,
as if water feels the rawness of moving on.
Snow outside now, breaking quiet like bread.
How the tissue of us drifts. How blue becomes
some distant sky and you further than the moon.
Are you a whimper
of sweet relief
to the white light
Am I a cloth to cover?
Am I a map
of your hair
to the shoulder of God?
Is this a blue sun melting?
Is this the final brush
of your finger,
I demanded nothing less than collapsing distance.
Surfaces can resist you too.
I inverted from the roots upwards.
The lowest bone split in force and fissure.
I reverted from the roots upwards.
The bone cannot be separated, only encased in air.
Pressure columns condensed, pending decision.
Miles and miles from bonding.
I will spread like water on a threshold.
Limbs sinking through lower surface.
Blades in decay and crystals.
Floating till my blood is thin.
snags on towers, iron girders, arms of cranes
loaded with cargo from wild white horses.
Jellyfish bloom on the sea, cobalt, amber, shocking
pink pulses of light, swarm of tentacles beneath.
The swag and sway of plastic deceives the eye,
the heart, a placenta adrift in strong currents.
Waves broke and the city drowned,
flint tools that struck fire, unfathomable dark.
set against blue,
a haze, sun-lit,
ice tipped, a daze
passing on the breeze
like a parachute
plastic folds, grounded
by a single knot
carrying paper thin
skin through air,
into a gaping mouth,
and like a jellyfish pulsating
it journeys endlessly on into the blue.
Apparently visability will be good [ really??!] There will be occasional blue sky thinking [so very last year] all heading north to Fitzroy increasing six at times, variable three to four.
In a YK blue kind of way We were preparing ourselves for something different, forecasting a little rough weather ahead.
of its imperfect life
without a shape
guided by the wind
like a butterfly
perfect in its flight
where souls outlive
the lives they led
bound and tethered
to their flesh.
that curious mix of cellulose
and nitric acid. On it, we wrote
our to-leave-behinds in pencil.
Some erased, some traced cryptics.
Then ignite! and fire flared and fell
ashless into a terrine decorated
with leaping fish. We wished
to finish what last year
wrought, look forward.
Two people chuckled.
Another drank to his burst.
The widow’s scrap escaped,
one more tissue of her blank grief
chose flight over flame. A furnace
whoosh, an opened door and a scoot
to the will of arctic blizzard winds.
Heaven-bent, fate-sent we knew
whose it was, why her grief
fled rituals of pyrotechnics
and chose the freezing open air.
Settles down on the
blue- denim cloth
lying under the sun
in the backyard
The veined leaf
leaves a pattern
on that rough surface
for a keen eye;
a discarded canvas
for someone itching
for a quick art-work
a restless hand
In a flash our scent and secret froze. Blue
matches my mood, boa leaves me blank. I
know, noon will register another nightmare.
Percipience is a pain, there is ache in augural hungers. A yeasayer is in an erroneous mode. To not be in touch with the truth is a faulty construct. But if it works for you, who am I to stall your sessions?
Smooth enough to
Build safety on
The corners of their
He never meant to hurt her,
Fragile as she was,
His words were swords,
She did not have time to
Prepare for the blow.
She sheltered her heart
Beneath the crevices of
Blue, waiting for it to
Be whole again.
He watched her every move--
Eager to collect
The shattered pieces
Of the pumping muscle.
isn’t as easy as it sounds;
you start with a patch of sky,
spinning clouds out of it,
more ephemeral than any gauze,
a tissue fine as flesh,
heavier than stone.
But here’s the real trick;
you aren’t allowed to unravel;
drop a stitch, miss a row,
let the skein tangle,
and the soul crumples in on itself,
Sometimes the thread fights you,
as if it’s trying to shape itself.
I’ve never had the heart
to throw out my failures,
though I know I should.
In each of them, I see
what I meant to make,
the pattern I meant to shape,
and the thousand reasons
each became a tangled mess.
And yet, there’s beauty in each.
to shape yards of lace, of gauze'
to provide a final bit of mystery
of ceremony on her wedding day.
I clipped and cut, twisted and sewed
until at last the finished piece
was ready for her to try.
She walked into my workroom
at the appointed time.
I held up the veil.
In a slow, clipped voice she
announced, "There will be no wedding."
She grabbed the veil from me
Held it high for one moment,
then proceeded to
rend it into tiny pieces.
Gauzey bits floated about
my atelier, sad remnants
of a happy plan.
I did not want to ask her why—
she told me anyway.
"He had a secret life—another wife!"
She flung herself into my arms
bits of veiling clinging to
her blue dress. She had no need
of demure, ceremony, mystery.
I held her until she cried out
all her tears and pain.
[I can attempt figurative interpretation]
1. Sky surface with crinkled rolling paper.
2. Sea cross-section with intrusive plastic bag, or marine impression with abstract jellyfish.
3. Abandoned half-used baby-wipe on blue toilet changing bench.
[I can proceed to free association]
“And all the clouds that lowered upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”
(Richard III, Act I, scene 1)
Texas. 1865. General Edmund Kirby Smith reluctantly (?) waved the flag of surrender in the early summer sky.
tissue-thin and weightless,
rises like fog
lifted by the morning sun.
So fragile, it tears
when I try to catch an edge
and pull it back
down around me.
Soft as a whisper,
words from an old song
only dreams remember,
fading as I wake.
Not much will be recovered.
The raptor’s shadow passes
and I wonder what small lives
feel its chill.
‘Isn't this romantic?’ he said, taking my hand. I noticed a piece of toilet paper had glued itself to a tree; seems the river that runs through Rome always brings news. I was thinking about mentioning that I was breaking up with him; but it never seemed the right time—the sun was too exultant, the place reeked of melodrama—I needed to tell him from behind the stoic Vatican Wall, then he couldn't get to me, couldn't change my mind, couldn't make a scene. We visited endless houses of religion, where all conversation became confession—but it didn't seem appropriate to tell him in a place where people believed in something higher, something heavenly. The Vatican museum, and all its ancient possessions made my feet ache. He told me I looked glum—how could I not when standing in front of Michaelangelo’s Pietà? It was the only way to feel around such an expression of sadness. I knew I should tell him soon; put him out of my misery. The only time I smiled was standing in St.Peter’s square when the bells were rung. He said, at that moment, I was most happy and child-like. This was only because bells bring good news, and I imagined men in dresses leaping like fleas—that's got to be worth a small, brief moment of mirth.
I've been blue for longer than I care to remember.
I've dealt with others' blues more than I ever wanted to.
Blue is my sky, my ocean, the air I breathe.
You tried, darling,
to bring some white in my horizon.
The whites you bring shred away
even before I can touch them.
I know my blues and
I love them.
When it rains, it rains all day long, she's tired of getting wet
She's tired of those heavy clouds that seem to stay for hours
She longs to settle down and be among the flowers
And to breathe easy.
She often wonders if there is a plan or is it all made up?
Most of us live day to day, fill once more her coffee cup
She's tired of these surroundings and longs for somewhere new
Green meadows, peace and quiet, where the skies are blue
To breathe easy.
She often wonders where love lies in the heart or in the head
Maybe it gets lost somehow once you’ve been to bed
Doe eyed looks quickly turn to ‘why am I with you?’
And when the desire is gone, then you are both through
To breathe easy.
at each other, louder, and louder, and progressively louder. We are told a history of the object, but it does not contain our names, or the names of our ancestors. We do not even know it is lost until we are pressed under the cacophony of –
We have not been given tools to reclaim it from the water, but we attempt it, still. Silly, brave, inscrutable us. We strive and struggle, water sluicing up our arms and covering our necks until we give meaning to the object that we have lost, we place words around it –
and it becomes sensible to us. But we cannot touch it, we cannot smell or hear. We do not feel its beating heart or see its violent light. So, we do the best we can do. We light a votive candle, we fast in its name, we whisper a prayer, we burn incense, we cast its name into the darkness. Hope is our ignition.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Of course she was no more aware of the specifics of her injuries than she was of the significance of the incongruous tatter of plastic. All she knew was that she hurt all over and was connected up to all sorts of contraptions; scary enough by themselves.
She remembered from somewhere that the thing hanging above the hospital bed, looking like a water-bomb, was a ‘drip’. Maybe the plastic remnant which intrigued her was a used one of those? Her head ached even with that much thinking. She drifted back into sleep.
The second Sunday of Advent had passed. Sorcha stared at the walls of the bleak ICU, imagining heavy raindrops battering at the non-existent windows. The doctor with the really dark eyes and nice smile had told her she was in a tractor or something. In the haze of painkillers, this had seemed perfectly reasonable - so she had just grinned at him, giggling in agony for a bit, thinking they would never be able to get her wellies over the casts.
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We sat under the baobab tree for a few years, willing away worries by not doing anything—I mean, by translating Kafka into Pulaar for the kiddies. When I grow up, said Samba, I want to be a bug, a teeny little thing, maybe small forever and with lots of legs. Or, I said, perhaps a vermin, a cockroach, an enormous bane on your sister and mother and your father will murder you. Then the dog made me leave for being so goddamn depressing. What I mean is, I left the village happily because I am a happy person.
Speaking of espressos, Johann and I decided to rob a bank one morning. He mouthed something to me, but I was groggy from breakfast and lost it in the thick air. Besides, I never knew German. For his part, Johann was arrested and hanged for double parking. Then, last Monday, Samba and I opened a third wave coffee shop. We start early, defying daylight by working from dawn until I shrivel and collapse, at which point Samba will presumably just go home. Anyway, you should come by sometime.
A few hours before, he had been sipping burnt coffee and trying to ignore the discomfort of his bottom on the hard plastic seat while focusing on the presenter onstage. “The challenge of addressing Marxist feminism's internal inconsistencies once and for all,” she said, “is no longer simply a political imperative, but also an existential one...”
He knew he shouldn't have come tonight. Not with work tomorrow and still fighting off a headache, a wracking wave of pain that he always associated with flames. The cliché had made him even angrier. His body's inconsistencies were more of an obstacle lately to any kind of real action, although it could still be counted on for the usual fascinations.
Ergo, while he had struggled to follow the visiting speaker's rambling train of thought, his mind's eye greedily recorded the beautiful inconsistencies of her finely coiffed dreadlocks, her flowing blue dress. The speaker exited the stage amidst a politely brief burst of applause before the audience rushed to the refreshments table. He remembered pushing through the milling anarchists and socialists, making a note to update his Tinder profile when he got home.
And yet when he opened the doors and recoiled from the scent of the fish market a few blocks down, he realized he no longer knew where home was. And not in some metaphorical sense—he was immobilized by a complete absence of direction, one that neither his acquired experience nor his muscle memory could resolve.
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More than the place, more than the blue
walls or the fading curtains, more
than the taste of others on your pillowcase.
Is it the eye, I wonder, that stays
with you or the triangular nose --
the base quite one with the lip,
or the scar or the one-eyed gaze?
Why the face?
Does it trace you my dear,
does it take your scream as part
of its scream? Your face
as part of its face?
Baby's breath on glass, plate 1
Your hopes and dreams
Lost wedding veil
A representation of how you feel
at social gatherings
Artist's rendering on an angel
View into a smoker's lung
Aerial shot of a school of albino
Definition of vague
Expression of hope
View of another planet
Long lost relative returned as a ghost
Waste paper refurbished.
that falls from another dimension?
A silken glistening splendor brushing up against the most adamant of places.
My eyes, the stubborn judge,
My mouth, the blind dragon carelessly spewing flames in every direction.
My heart, the garden of gargantuan serpents.
A silken splendor falls brushing up against the most adamant of places like a whisper from heaven descending into tangible space,
Lighting the candle that scares the night away.
The fabric of the cloth sown with tears,
As I lay alone in a room prostrate
like the prey of a panther,
Hoping for answers to my prayers.
The calmness descends,
The peace crumbles ego.
Yet my brokenness remains
like the scars of Christ.
Faith will taper the madness in the temple,
The adamence will lead me to answers,
Pulling me into Eden's orb as the fabric descends.
He was admiring his collection of gumboots. To say that Ernesto had a “thing” for gumboots was a slight understatement. He had exactly 55 pairs of gumboots all lined up on shelves. Some pairs, shiny and new, had never been worn, while others were old and faded from use.
Most of the gumboots were sizes that would fit Ernesto’s size 10 feet—all except for two pair. A little bright pink, baby-size pair and another giant-size 14 pair.
Ernesto could barely believe his luck when he came across them in the second-hand store. Sometimes he would sit the baby pair beside the giant pair, just for fun, and be so amused that he’d take photos on his phone.
He flicked his cloth across the gumboots swiping away imaginary dust. Ernesto loved to see his reflection in the smooth, glossy black rubber and try as he might he just couldn’t get the old pairs to shine the same. He would tell himself that it didn’t matter much because he really did like the contrast of the muted, worn rubber alongside the new.
Ernesto cast his gaze across his collection considering which pair to choose. He was the self-appointed stream rubbish collector in his village. A fisherman of sorts.
Over time he’d fished out a wide range of trash from the little stream that ran behind the rows of 300-year-old attached cottages before winding its way under the bookshop until it popped out again near the village cemetery.
in hand, caught
like sails, parachutes
and our feet skimmed
the hard ground –
silhouettes seemed to
if for only moments
each. short seconds timed.
plastic bags that passed
for parachutes, sails – with
each clear sky we prayed
for gales, prayed for storm
winds that would grant
us flight, leave us
to see the stars close up,
reach the treetops,
observe the earth like birds
as dawn broke.
Discarded and stuck to blue tile, below the numbers of people that are truly going nowhere. People like Shauna, who scribbled “Shauna was here” like it was a reminder, like she forgot that she was going somewhere and didn’t want to forget the journey along the way, leaving little bread crumb notes in gas station bathrooms next to numbers I’m too afraid to call, even out of curiosity just to see who would pick up.
I give Shauna a back story. Every year her family takes a trip from Boone, N.C. to Atlantic Beach, N.C., mountains to coast, through the capital, Raleigh, just to see the state end to end and visit her maternal grandmother in Morehead City. It’s a long, stupid drive and each time the family stops their Prius, she wanders up through the gas station aisles, fondling candy bars to kill the time between fill-ups. She keeps a Sharpie in her back pocket to tag public spaces. She’s really sticking it to the man. So rebellious. Nothing says I hate the establishment like “Shauna was here” in a public restroom. Don’t worry, she’s married to a Wal-Mart greeter with four kids, six grandkids and two great-grandbabies on the way. Even anarchists fall in love.
I mop up the mess and unfold a “slippery when wet” caution sign. Shit always works itself out in the end. Especially here.
First crush, her teenage sighs, in dreams she'd seen his face a hundred times. Across the years in tricks of light, minty chewing gum chat-up line. Silhouette standing, cigarette sucked. He'd changed SO much, hair receded, gaunt, still fit. Weathered skin leather, aged by clever charm and wit. Feathered nests, neither disgust nor embraced, just want pursued, whilst staying chaste.
Not too furrowed in the social race, he turns. His eyes pierce through her face. Fixed gaze, past erased. His own awareness now a-flame. Time slows their action’s frame. "Heeey! Julia? Hubba-Bubba!? Wow! It IS you. Good God you're well preserved." No longer unnerved her smile purred - nine lives inferred. Reduced to childhood they stood, stepping back into their neighbourhood.
All summer heat and emptiness. Every teenage blue-sky-day she'd lain - staring outward, upward to absorb the golden sun's lit orb. Scudded trails of wisp, dispelled by aeroplane’s criss-crossing, cracking heaven’s vast blue reign. Yet her thoughts were not up there with dreams of cirrus-cloud, but down, deep inside herself. Every blue obscene, could be anywhere and is anywhere you choose to be. Year on year she'd lie and stare, sometimes re-living her school-girl hair.
with eyes half-closed
to study the face before you.
A sly grin, sardonic,
crept across your lips
into the dimple
at the corner of
The cigarette briefly flared,
left ash in its wake,
the smoke from the tip
ribboned its way to
the ceiling as you exhaled.
And ordered another
(a cushion squidgy soft).
Oh, yes I have a lovely home
I wave my paws aloft.
Because I am a Persian Blue
the outside world is banned.
Mistress holds me in great esteem
But does she understand
to run and play is just my dream?
Content with windows for my eyes
I see things that others missed
also I feel surprise
when floating snowflakes
white and crystal kissed
melt into tiny lakes.
A tissue here; newspaper there
Blown by seasons weather.
Sometimes I spot an angel's tear-
a curling whirling feather.
Life is good, I must impart
I'm pampered, fed and warm.
Yet there's a yearning in my heart
- to race across the lawn!
Layered up as high as the desk, it was a surprise they hadn't toppled already. Li. stood, at midday on a Monday, with a shoulder rested on the cool metal window frame, and the view they'd gotten used to; the extravagant size of the double glazing meant the sun bathed the square room easily, leaving everything clean, bright and matte. The overall affect was a heightening of the ears - the noise of a scratchy pen, typing, the fumbling-clunking of ice cubes against the thick glasses he drank out of; they all cut through the room.
Walking over to the pile (as said, he was coping today, with a pile of paper) he knelt on both knees. Bare-footed, his toenails caught on the thin wires of the carpet; he set the glass down on its bristle surface, with a quick thought of their conflicting textures, before reaching to feel the ruffled fibres of the paper edges.
They seemed to fit into the room, and at the same time they didn’t fit at all. He’d brought them from home, along with the plant, which had died from not enough light. He’d puzzled for ages, usually before falling asleep: how could there not be enough light when the sun was around for most of the day time? Then he remembered, yes - it was there, but he spent a lot of time with the blind pulled down to just the right angle to shield his laptop screen; the same angle, by coincidence, had shielded the plant as well.
Well, at least the paper sat in the corner couldn’t die. He supposed he must be better at dealing with plants in their later stages, glad that the pressed bark and plant roughage were stiff, and no longer reliant on the sun or light; and the prints required nothing more from it than for the revealing of their colour lines and drawings.
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weeping for a winter of discontent.
Floating on a flood of blue
through plastic tomorrows
with no palpable form.
Give me days to count,
let time be my companion
that I might feel
the rip of pain, the slow falling
away at the edges, know
the sweet smell of decay.
Get over it, love. He wasn’t worth it, and you’ve got your kids to think about. That’s what she imagines people saying. If a small crowd burst into the bathroom right now, knocking the fluffy dressing gown and novelty sleep mask off the hook, that’s what would happen. They’d stand around or perch on the toilet, judging her. And she’d just sit there, naked, stretchmarked and crying, agreeing with them. Why wouldn’t she? They’re her people that she made up out of her own head.
The trouble with her, they tell her, is that she’s ordinary. Ordinary bathroom, ordinary life, ordinary little tragedy. Look at the state the kids have left this place in. Look at your cheap bubble bath, your pound shop indulgence. When was the last time you cleaned the floor tile under the scales? She reaches through them for the spare toilet roll so she can blow her nose. As she leans over she lets out a fart. No wonder he left her.
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Sound is absorbed into the emptiness. The beep-beep horn of a moped, the wail of an unhappy child, the thin, snatched phrase of a song as a car speeds by. There is a rope bed covered with a clean white sheet on the other side of the roof. I walk over and lie down, sinking into its strange comfort. It’s been positioned perfectly in partial shade.
I look up and see the sky even more clearly. A bright white kite floats high across my rectangle of blue. I close my eyes. When I open them again, another kite is floating nearer, translucent and backlit against the sun. Black spots mark its two wing tips. Butterfly or moth? Butterfly or moth? I fall asleep trying to remember.
through the vertebrae of fixated air
Conceive a frame and fall through
Chalk white flakes spill, rush in and out
Salt and lather, shrubs and orchards,
sprinkled over muddy knees and calcium ankles
They hang, my paper boat thighs
they hang in mid-air paralysis
A powder cake with vanilla breasts,
I find myself, berries and lingering mountains,
layered and crumpling, moist and weathered,
Memories clap and echo, boxes of voices
round and around
I can hear
I can hear it now
The oldest song
a submarine melody
to see the universe painted in gossamer blue.
I curve promiscuously, bending in impossibilities
of Möbius strips; folding onto myself
to nth dimensional
space of human experiences.
Disembodied, yet expanding to fill
every corner of your ether
with my sinuous flutters.
Will you find me in your heart
with all my unholy paradoxes?
Your color has infinite eyes,
to keep watching my countless faces;
folding and unfolding in an undivine play.
is no protector or champion of sandbags.
Its wispiness and vacuous translucency
bookmarks my day in hopelessness.
My large possessions glance heavenward.
My small possessions gather in my arms.
And I carry them child-like, so tenderly upstairs.
The wind arrives - virginal snow falls from a merciless sky.
And insidious worries shrouds my desolate heart.
Outside children are ecstatic as the elements frolic.
I wait and wait with dark abiding fatalism.
My large possessions scream for attention.
My small possessions weep at the separation.
They feel lost and disconnected in my spare bedroom.
Neighbours discuss – instant climate aficionados
All the time crossing shaking fingers behind their backs.
It does no good to give in now or plead for deliverance.
Nature takes no prisoners and mocks a cowardy-custard.
My large possessions are terrified at the left behind space.
My small possessions sweetly hunker down together.
Family pictures console – their ghostly familiarity is tangible.
The fatal tide has arrived and the surge has pitched up..
But the capricious wind changes its mind and direction.
And my home greets me with I told you so delight.
I have not gone down with my house after all – not this time.
The storytellers have taken to the streets, wandering and whispering.
They mutter in the ears of unsuspecting passers-by. Blow nebulous words into hard set minds.
Where they take hold.
People on the streets stop to scratch behind their lobes, but they cannot get to the source of the prickle, which seems to squirm freely, somewhere inside.
Some just stand and stare, as if noticing the world anew.
Like this woman here, laden with shopping bags, struck by something which swooped down upon her from a clear blue sky. She stands in the street and watches a plastic bag flutter in the breeze, rising higher and higher like the ghost of a bird. And watching it, a strange forgotten feeling jitters through her.
And she thinks, ‘I am happy.’
Or take this man over there. He was on his way someplace. He had things to do, important things. At least, he thinks he did. For now, all he sees is a yellow balloon bobbing down the street, held by a tiny hand. The child obscured by the crowds around her, though he catches a glimpse of her as the bodies part to let her through. Her upturned face illuminated by the sun, her smile.
He watches the balloon disappear down the street and imagines her laughter. Feels a jump of something somersault in his belly.
And he thinks, ‘joy.’
"Do you miss it?"
In the haze of nostalgia, she thinks that maybe she does. Measured in the frequency of the waves of homesickness and an indeterminate number of bad days, there is so much honesty in an affirmative. But she knows the phosphenes aren’t a good enough reason to stay.
She answers him steadily, eyes never leaving the jagged edges of the bag caught against the branch beside the eagle's nest she's been watching for the last hour. She knows how long it takes for the polymers to break down, to multiply as they degrade to become several million toxic molecules to breed mutations and change everything forever. There is a morbid comfort in that absolute.
"I don't believe you."
Even winter comes as a relief:
the blue sky, the tissue cloud
after months of rain, clouds
stained blue black, not cold enough
Until then you believe that white
is only a memory, the sky
cannot be blue, and the yard
will always be sodden, green, streaked
One day you will look out.
The sky will be painfully blue,
one cloud, flat, empty, floating free,
far from you or the sun. Drying
out, you will walk, just around
the block, wearing your fur-lined gloves
“Mary, what’s on your skirt?”
Mary blinked. She hadn’t been listening to her father as he read, but he didn’t seem to notice. He still held the book too close to his face, but his narrow eyes peaked out over the top of its cover, staring straight at Mary’s sister.
“Elizabeth.” Their father’s voice was strained. “What have I told you about interrupting our daily reading?”
Elizabeth bounced in her seat, making her white prayer cap come loose. She was at that age where she was still oblivious to their father’s severity. Mary envied her.
“But look, Papa!” Elizabeth said. “There’s something sticking to Mary’s skirt!”
Now he was looking at Mary. “Well?” he said.
Mary looked. Clinging to the side of her long blue skirt was a torn piece of a plastic bag with the handle still attached. She touched it gingerly before she peeled it off.
“What is it?” Elizabeth asked again, because she truly didn’t know. How could she? Their father was a staunch environmentalist. No plastic, no visits to stores with electricity, barely any paper except in books or when required for school. Even in a town full of Amish, their father looked extreme.
He snapped the book shut, narrowly missing his nose.
from ocean to ocean
I have seen you only in a Kreisel tank
fascinated by your transparency
wondering how you grow younger
as we age…
but now with what
we throw overboard
you are but the last one
just a veil of transparent white, afloat
in a murky deep blue sea.
She meets her soul mate at twenty to eight. He is broad as a smear on the right hemisphere and he bloats in his thick winter coat as they kiss, more of a peck, they miss. She gets his fat neck. I will him to wrap her deep into his fleece though their proximity disturbs my peace and I wish him dead. Some bullet in the head would be ace. It’s that sort of place. He does not and connects with her instead at the thinnest point, her wrist. She does not resist and I watch them together like a tank with a feather as they reach the cinema doors.
A poster hangs behind glass. Doris Day in a blue dress showing some skin and Jimmy Cagney trying a grin. They don’t look at the poster, don’t read it. It just hangs there as background, they probably don’t need it, but I look and it makes me consider what a girl like that sees in some dirty rat. They talk for a while, gentle at first, then heated, I think somebody cheated. They join in raised voices, maybe enough for her to question her choices and he leaves her there, in cold weather, this wafer thin feather. He’s more primate than soul mate I think to myself and it feels like I wait for a year. There’s no-one to hold her up, to hold her dear. Wafer thin with thoughts unclear.
"Can I help you sir?" the young man asked politely.
"I would like a room for the night please" Evan replied.
The young man's eyes flashed to his colleague before shifting to the computer. It was a brief glance, but still a dagger in Evan's heart. The contempt his ragged appearance incited in others eroded his self-worth, but he wouldn’t let it get to him today.
"That'll be forty nine, ninety" he said.
His eyes dared Evan to back away, but he resisted, producing the exact amount in coins and notes. Evan couldn't remember the last time his fear had consumed him so utterly. He was cold and his joints were stiff, but his heart was thudding hard and fast, and he was sweating all over.
The young man reluctantly accepted the currency. Evan had expected to be treated with the cool aversion that most homeless people were regarded with in civilised society. Unemployment was nothing to be ashamed of, especially for those who fought so hard to return from it. Still, Evan carried the shame nonetheless.
Once upstairs, Evan closed the door of his room and emptied the contents of the bag onto his bed. He placed his trousers into the trouser press, and then called reception for an iron and a board to iron his shirt. He washed his hair and brushed his teeth under a hot shower and started to feel like a human being again.
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Whipped by the winds of fate
Crinkled, creased and ripped
Barely there but here
All against a backdrop solid as the sky
Untouchable but beckoning fingers that would dare
Can flimsy me be clinging still to true unchanging blue?
Can wind-whipped ether be stitched somehow to immovable Spirit?
Say yes from beyond the blue
I too felt the cold thud that surprised you, that felled you, when your body was still pumped with life. Your unworldly screams rucked the molecules of my synthetic structure. Until very recently, I cradled tight- wrapped bits of you – of torn skin, of smashed bone, of chopped flesh - through all the long hours of one dark night.
Executed from behind with a blunt instrument is what the police report will say; then finished off with a kitchen knife.
Blue, you won't walk on so flagrant.
Blue, lest you stand in the light.
Blue persuades the queen of the night.
Blue, the patriot's saw fit for a fight.
Blue, the sky saw you nascent, in sight.
Blue, was it ever a favorite?
Believing in Blue, would it send out another?
Blue, they always said of the sea,
deeper an abyss than him, you, or she.
Blue, were you ever reasonable?
Or rather, did you endeavor to bludgeon?
Could you season their sense of entitlement?
Blue, I don't think you're the same color as my tears.
Blue, have you ever felt the fear?
Blue, they're not behaving as progressive.
Blue the art because it's not enough that we're all fed up and divested.
And Blue, you say they turned on the light.
But Blue, so much of what is there isn't worth our might.
Blue, let yourself go out of fashion.
Blue, don't paint more pictures, stop writing poems.
Don’t start over Blue, I know you,
we don't behave that way.
I know they're saying, Blue, all our shadow's don't match up.
In my twenties I judged every man I dated by how he held up against my vision of that dress and myself, the traditional virgin bride, wafting down the aisle to meet him, and for years every man was found wanting.
Until I met George – bearded, burly, sexy George. Just watching his hands roll a cigarette made me tremble. Riding astride his Harley with my thighs gripping his hips and my face pressed to his leather-clad shoulders, I couldn’t wait for those muscles to be naked in my arms. The result was inevitable.
Mother was furious, and when the heirloom dress wouldn’t fit over my bump she shrieked that everyone would know what I’d been up to and she’d never be able to hold her head up again.
“So I’ll wear red!” I yelled. “If you think I’m a scarlet woman I’ll dress like one,” and she sobbed over her shattered dreams, absent-mindedly wiping mascara streaks onto the heirloom veil.
utter lost and oblivious to all.
She swims, to outrun
the encroaching rubbish of men.
As oblivious as we are of her,
somewhere across that blue realm
a spot, we have not been in generations.
Our rubbish thrown as an afterthought,
have manage to trespassed on that realm of fantasy.
So often you have worried that the ice might crack. But not today. Today might be fragile as tissue, crimped and folded, but it is finely wrought, with a strength tensile as the tracery of bare branches that frame this blueprint sky. You bunch your hands into your pockets, find a balled up tissue, slightly damp, wrapped around the cold hardness of a key. You close your fingers around its serrated edges, stroke its curves absently, your mind unfocused, letting your thoughts wander from your pocket back to the ice and the water where a duck struggles on the edge of the ice shelf, hefting herself, smashing herself against the ice, unable to gain purchase. The other ducks are comical as they slip and slide and penguin waddle. But this duck is still in the water, she lurches and falls back. You think she has given up, but suddenly she circles, races back and then she is lifting up, out of the icy water, she is over the ice, above her mates, over the trees and into the cyan sky. And you - you don’t hesitate, don’t stop now to think; jerk the key from your pocket, drop it into the water.
Next to the stony seashore
The wind speaks to me quietly
Rustling through oleanders
The curious Moon
in the window
Resembling a jar full of fireflies
The Moon, sea and me
Three magical powers on the Earth
Young and old at the same time
The Moon which evokes feelings
Sometimes it's on top of the chimney
Just like a Christmas decoration
Sometimes it's in the bucket full of water
Swimming like a goldfish
Sometimes it shines joylessly
Through the veil of lace clouds
Sometimes it sends smiles to the whole world
Sometimes it's red from love
Sometimes it's blue from the cloud.
Insomnia is my magic power
The wind whispers
I never sleep
There are as many days in the year
As my faces
I leave no stone unturned
Sometimes I take the night from the window away
I leave a small frog on the doorstep
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prevent the crew being alone,
tired and cold at night
A good skipper won’t wait until
nightfall when everyone is already tired
They will share out duties to make
sure they have rest, suitable meals
Wear life jackets
Do not overload the boat
Climb in and out with care
Only make a mayday call if
there is grave and imminent danger
Give the name of your vessel
the position in latitude and longitude
the number of people on board
And the nature of your distress.
freshly blown glass boat
the scent of lightning streaks
thickens the June air
Hoping to be able to spot him aboard, my eyes trail the giant-shaped stones, dreaming different characters into each of them. Chatting on the internet, living in distant corners of the world, we have been planning this meeting for countless months. Maroon streaks riddle the sky as velvet scoters and silver-spotted skippers carry the smell of the nearby fishery on their graceful wings. "Midsommar" is now celebrated by dance and bonfires all over the country as maypoles, like flowery masts, bright up the landscape - it should be the very summer solstice of our relationship as well. According to some rumors there once lived a giant in Kåseberga under the name of Vold, it was him who built the stone ship. One day, encircled by enemies, he ran to the edge of the sea to escape and just as the villagers thought they caught him, he took a boat and set sail toward the horizon. Standing upon the ridge, one may catch a glimpse of his vessel, ploughing through the Baltic Sea’s mint waves. He seems to be present in the fading tapestry of the herbs, in the faltering song of the cormorants…
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My mother feared death, until it stared her in the face and then she stared back with equal ferocity. Nor did she want us to avert our eyes, so she became bold, determined, to die well. But seldom does one die well; one simply dies and death is holding the hand of everyone behind the blue curtain. It may hold gently, a soft reminder of one's mortality, it might grasp with frustration at its inability to succeed or with the grim satisfaction of success.
I have been behind the curtain watching this, and I have been behind the curtain, fearing the smell of death as its breath touched my cheek. Not yet, I am not ready yet--too much to do. Too many to love. My children need me--grown though they are, they have much to tell me before I step off the platform and leave them to contemplate their own mortality.
When Ollie and I walk through the halls of the emergency department, nurses and doctors smile, they stoop down to pet him, a small reprieve from the battle against grave illness or injury. They laugh. When Ollie and I walk through the halls of the emergency department we peer through the openings of the blue curtains to ask, "would you like a visit," and sometimes the answer will be a quiet "yes," or a family member's eager "of course," or a barely audible, "not today." Read more >