- Vol. 03
- Chapter 10
a means of dissembling so that the couch resembles the swan
and the ouch the elevator closing in on your fingers.
I did not like the image the world came in so I roughed it up.
My intervention felt necessary if I were to save myself from sweetness.
To stage the event as if it were given rather than invented.
To mask the terrifying calm with a gesture so broad it felt like the sea.
I did not care to be told I had the morality of a leech. I gouged out
my eyes and bled them dry. There was nothing to it.
To construct a defacement. To make room for only those elements that
would keep your statement loaded, and steady.
It was easy for me to refuse. That was how I turned the winds
in my favour. How thoughtless of me to have capsized.
To eternally be summer. How awful not to have known any other weather
or faced any storm not of your own making.
I slit open the inadvertent envelope. When the bill fell out
I pinned it to the wall of someone else’s shame.
To know pastiche is a pastille to be sucked until it melts.
To be able to pack up your troubles in your old kitsch bag and smile smile smile.
I resisted and it made no difference. Two girls were forced
to swallow toilet-cleaner. Their oesophagus burnt.
To take one shiny happy scene and replace it with another.
To exist in modus operandi. To never go hungry in protest.
I wanted to have a hand in the way things were going.
I wanted to make up for everybody’s pain. This was not the way.
To make amends.
When I kissed your tears it took me sailing—
deep into Baltic waters where harpoons rust,
U-Boats fall apart and depth chargers roll,
where eels that were the hairs of dead sailors writhe — sending morse bubbles to ripple kelp.
Only the boaters linger here,
dredgers move on, trawlers raise their nets,
only buoys like vultures bobbing
and the all too frequent life ring whirling
where it was still moments before.
Seabirds halo white horses,
as they shake their manes out and rear,
stamping the boat bones to dust.
But up here it's all deck tennis and aquavit
as we bind our curls in silk,
marinade ourselves in olive oil
and dangle our painted toes in the brine—
humming your lullaby as the sun dips
to all our unborn children
as we rip shrimp skins with our teeth
piling their pink coats by lemons
and the salt somehow chilling—
'Vem kan segla förutan vind?
Vem kan ro utan åror?'
This one’s so fluffy it’s almost hazardous.
Fills my mouth with foam. A submarine
in a domestic fish tank, or trying to get a double bass
through a car door. I never feel I’ve been swimming
if my eyes don’t puff and sting.
It’s almost like drowning, scratching the surface,
pulling teeth out, more than anything.
I’m going to be left with these little grooves,
the sides of ashtrays, if I’m not careful.
My father in law dates in pyjamas. Churning
snow tires, a cowboy with a lasso,
a terrified salmon about to be canned.
Dates in lilac (in pastel), and maddeningly
statuesque. Bats questions (somewhere between
an earlobe and an armadillo, an uppity breath,
switched off.) Description, address,
hail, oak, breath, oak, breath.
Notwithstanding, stomach heaves into evening,
beaks scrubbed with red soap, necks.
Brace through jagged leaves, television,
the back of the company van. This paste
dissolves in a spruce-risk, rewriting
smile design manuals: a kind of yacht,
slashed sail, soil to weigh it down.
All I want is sparkly, luminous, small teeth,
and a meaningless tongue.
I paint my world
in the colors of my lips
one day fiery red
a shade of coral ice
as is my disposition
and my mood
I make the world
as I want it to be
in my image
and the color
of my character
as if the world
was mine to paint
Mine is the hand that paints on smiles
Creates a lipstick border
At the gate of words
Lies and wiles
Guarded by pearls
The barricade which bites the tongue
Mine is the hand that colours speech
A slash of red
Shades anger and passion
Blue hues weep
Drizzle ice and distance
Between the lines in a rainbow of emotion
Mine is the hand muddying waters
With hidden messages
Cued by the palette
Of this pantone matchmaker
Who winds up the world and watches it go
I refuse to cry over lost friends
I`m drunk too
It feels good to up the anchor of sobriety
Let alcohol give winds to my sails.
I`m a clipper buying tea in China
not useless toys
Sleek the line and the women admired me
let the clipper sail
I don`t care I will stay here and
make love to you.
I`m sorry I left you, my Liverpool girl but
I went to Brazil to harvest coffee beans
Guatemala I got there by chance
the beach in the moonlight
I have not forgotten my promises
one day more, just one day more
but the ship always sails to other shores
and I never got to write
the poem of my life
My oceanic sideswipe of moulded smile
is everything, is really something to you,
my backwards glance at a sexy guide
is everything that is wrong in me; to you,
hands that float in a dream like a tide
are oh quite something, are everything
you’re feeling in your sex-dream of a child,
everything is something broken to you, acts
that must receive a wide sea of apologies
which mean absolutely everything to you:
that dream-image, my child-lips gone wild,
everything is something symbolic to you,
but your child is inside, blaming the flies,
where everything is hardly visible to you,
where death is silver in between my thighs
and everything is selling something to you,
the analogy watching the child as it cries.
Everything, watching you with its mouth,
its dark equivalent, is something to you
what did I know of blonde boys
from the ritzy side of town, boys
whose families belonged to the
Tennis and Country Clubs, boys
who already had their own cars?
I’d met him in the young people’s
group at church, then gone to a party
where he asked me out to sail on
his family’s boat. Excited, I said yes,
and the next day risked my first sail
in the Bay, giddy with adventure.
I remember the salt wind, the sun
flashing on his golden hair, the muscles
flexing in his arms as he managed
the boat. I dared not let on that it was
my first time as he yelled for me to shift
left, shift right, both of us ducking under.
It all happened so fast, that throwing
our bodies back and forth on the waves
of a summer day, the sail barely missing
us as it swung. I didn’t fall overboard, but
feared I would, trembling and breathless
in the shimmer of those bounding moments.
If I could hold this smile,
daubed red and white
succulent but reserved.
I'd save that smile
for a few selected friends
set on the same voyage as me.
In smooth fluoride seas
where famous people go
for highs on life's rich portico.
I'd sail on a red and white schooner,
sooner to find myself
than drown at sea.
We'd bob and dip
and bob again in miles
of salt water, set free. He, he, he!!!
and the livin' is easy."
The reincarnation of Moby Dick
is what I'm fishing for.
Those white teeth, so perfect;
and those ruby red lips, are they unkissed?
The mouth of the Great Deep, waiting to devour
the very animals we waterboarded
for so long in our laboratories.
All to keep us afloat for one more day...
One more day!
Standing on her seductive mouth,
casting our rods across the water,
lipstick on our collars!
They say God always answers prayers--
that sometimes the answer is No.
"Cast your bread upon the waters",
and one day...one day...
it will come back to you on TV.
In the storm upon the Sea of Galilee,
she devoured my loins before I could gird them!
And then at times
the dips of our marriage are
no different than the falling
into love in Richmond Park
before we started home, and I
wrote every day until the motion
of the ship made me certain that
for every berth going out,
new souls put in, spit from
foam. If I could read Greek or
understand the errand of the
cardinal we watch for with coffee
in our hands, I could make poetry
on the tips of fence spears where
he stops and the fire of you would
go urgently from land to land.
The one-armed and bald-patched ones said they woke up altered. They told me not to trust reality.
I asked one of them what my purpose is but she never replied.
I made friends with a wooden one. He tells me tomorrow I’ll be gone; because I’m new.
He tells me my owner will decorate me in exorbitant glamour. And that if I’m lucky, I won’t get damaged and returned. He wants me to enjoy my first, maybe last, night with him. So I do.
to those long ago rebel girls
who sailed out on a wind
of Whatever Will the Neighbours Think
like our jaunty auntie away on her quest
for the land where real silk stockings grow
(So does it matter that he may have been a little vague
about the mileage between deepest Mississippi
and the nightclubs of midtown Manhattan?)
but those old postcards prove
she didn't linger long
and went cruising off to wherever next
while scattering our lovely DNA
like tiny rose petals upon the waters
bequeathing us (and you)
a planet full of kissing cousins.
You were given a dictionary that had two number ones branded in exactly equal height on the front cover. Nascent was written in invisible ink, hidden behind a first page of Happy Birthday in 11 different languages.
You added an extra page to the dictionary and dotted it with fragments of an imagined language.
You still held hands, jumped over cracks, darted around ladders. You laughed at being an unlucky age.
You wished there were two more hours every day for sleeping. You would sleep happy if it matched your age. If all was co-ordinated with the emerging stripes of you.
You spent three hours trying out faces that did not fit before going out to party only to be home again in less time than it took to get ready. You blotted parts of you and used mirrors with secret abandon. You lost track of time and numbers.
You walked around the house in a dotty bikini to perfect an air of nonchalance. You made jokes about not being able to replicate the heat and faked strokes in the water.
You settled on a version of you that added swirls and waves to the stripes. You swayed and laughed and time and words became dots.
cherry lips kiss better and that's just a fact,
pretty in pink
and petty as a picture.
Perhaps I spent too much time as a child
and thinking life
with summers of love
along the French Riviera -
But in reality we'll pitch a tent
or somewhere in the Midlands
you will never be happy -
the little bird in the dickie-bow.
It's here that all the world is plastic,
and honestly -
I think you might be melting.
I'm just that photo hanging on the wall,
that's faded and frayed and bending at the sides.
Cherry lips kiss better
and I am dry as crackers,
It's all about the me through your eyes,
and she's pretty as a picture.
in far away seas
does love surmount
Break waters and
start anew the beauty
of times on sails of ship
carry with you the paint
the living hush, syndrome
then someone will take you away
from these seas into islands
of longevity. Permanence.
I applied red lipstick and let my long, black hair, drop against my shoulders. I put on my strapless white sundress and matching white pumps. I grabbed my purse and held onto the wall steading, as the sail boat rocked. When I reached above deck, Johnny had been waiting for me and my mouth dropped. T-shirt and shorts? Why wasn’t he dressed yet?
Johnny enthusiastically said, “Lori, you’re looking real hot! I’m starving. While you were showering, I did some exploring and found a great fish and chips place down the road. They’re having fried shrimp and french fries, two for one dinner special.”
I guess after ten years, that’s what I should’ve expected. I went below deck and changed into my jean shorts and t-shirt.
Our voyage will be one of promise and pleasure,
We'll scare off sharks and predator fish
without any effort or pressure.
With a jolly crew,
and a girl named Sue
we'll calm the seven seas.
We've a helping hand and nothing planned
except floating along on the breeze.
We're heading south,
on this red lipped smiley mouth.
Climb aboard, join our merry throng.
With music and laughter
it's fun that we're after.
We guarantee you'll burst into song.
‘Can Uncle Finken swim?’
‘Only in alcohol!’
‘Damn it - we’re sinking and everyone’s smiling and laughing! Shouldn’t we be calling for help or something?’
‘Who would hear? Those sharks already know.’
‘They can smell fear - that’s why we’re being upbeat.’
‘When were you thinking of informing me?
‘Now. Now you know. Think happy thoughts.’
‘Not sure I’ve got any of those since Aunt Maggie…’
‘SHUShhhhh- they’ll hear - no negative thoughts!’
‘Looking forward to Gilly’s wedding…’
‘Wonderful, they’re so stinking rich it’ll feel like everyone’s getting married! I hear the guests all got tickets to Milan -some show or other…’
‘They look awfully close or we’re getting nearer the water…’
‘Everybody sing! I AM SAILING! I AM SAILING!!’
‘CAN YOU HEAR MEEEEE? CAN YOU HEAAAAR MEEEE? THROUGH THE DARK NIGHTTTT - I AM DYINGGGG - FOREVER CRYINNNG!!!’
‘Not that bit!!’ Keep it cheerful damn it!!’
‘Water on the deck - there’s water on the deck!!’
‘That’s not water - that’s - that’s…
‘Oh hell! I don’t care!! We are SINKINGGGGG- we are SINKIINNGGGGGG!’
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the chained raft is loose and lost,
but the same waves lick the day into shape.
Though my eyes are closed, I know
my skin’s the shade of candyfloss,
the breeze teasing years away
to days of arcades and Ferris wheels,
spinning high and kissing strangers
because I could, building lighthouses
of sand, hope and aspiration
to see beyond the smudged horizon,
so far that I see myself
now. Thoughts are origami boats
folded from teen mags, pin-ups,
lipstick messages in drained bottles,
with ice cream sails that billow
like swirled cotton skirts, dancing
with dazzled gulls on a summer pier.
There’s no shadow in the light that flickers
on closed eyelids; no threat
in the whispered promise of the endless sea.
of red lipstick
launches each smile
on a wind-tossed sea.
these are not
In darkling depths,
Neptune instructs his daughters,
simpering seductive sirens,
in aquatic locomotion,
graceful mermaids in the ocean.
Try as you may
to keep your smile afloat,
those mermaids are tough competition;
not even an oil slick
of red lipstick
can save your sinking
She sat at the bow, applying the gloss while my father's hands pulled at the sail, which curved out and tugged us forward upon catching a new current of wind. My stomach lurched at the movement, as I adjusted the rudder to take us left.
She remained completely still, unmoved by the brief frenzy. Setting aside the cylindrical tube of gloss, she reached over the side, and dipped her hand into the ocean. I mimicked her action, my rough calloused hand touching the same water as her soft pink one.
The ocean was cool, still, and blue, but there was a hint of something a few feet below, swirling and spilling away. A hidden undertow just a few metres beneath the surface.
Her eyes were hidden behind her sunglasses, but the corners of her mouth twitched into a secret smile, and for a moment my father was gone, and it was just the two of us on the boat. She took off the sunglasses, and I could see her eyes, blue as the ocean around us, fixed on mine.
Carefully, discretely, I took my hand off the rudder, and traced my fingers along the scar that ran across my stomach. She nodded at me, her eyes soft, the smile vanished from her lips. She tilted her head back. It was an invitation.
Standing, she dived off the boat, plunging into the depths. My father took his hands off of the sail, anger in his eyes.
“Alice,” he said to me, a warning in his voice.
I shook my head no. Trembling, I stood, as he staggered across the boat towards me. His hands grabbed at me, but caught only thin air as I plunged beneath the surface.
Down and down I swam, towards her. I reached out, and took her hands in mine just as we were caught by the force of the current.
Traces of fresh red lip gloss swirled in the surrounding water as the ocean carried us away together.
she’ll carry you far on her slippery lips.
She’ll take you to sea and tempt you with laughter;
your mind will be thrown into powder blue waters
scuffed pale with intentions and tactics and music
that batters your limbs and drums up your heartbeat.
Watch out for the spinnaker of sweet Madame Tulip,
it’ll billow and bind you in its red and white stripes.
You’ll be dazzled by laughter and thoughts of a future,
for sweet Madame Tulip is always convincing,
and salts up the seawind with alluring proposals.
But your friends will all turn to face other directions,
and no one will see you except Madame Tulip
who’ll simper and smile and lather on lippy.
You’ll start to believe that fate isn’t predestined
and the sea is a safe place.
You’ll cling to the notion that you’re in control.
We were all so happy and smiley. That's what the photos said, what the mouths said. What postcards and letters said. Olga and Essie and Felix did plenty of little kisses and hearts and flowers and, most importantly, smiles. Every name had a face, smiling - thank goodness Olga had her O and the other two an i, or I don't know what they'd have done. Improvised, I guess. They knew to do that, knew not to whine as that was the last thing we needed.
They'd watch the dolphins, quiet, jolly. They'd coo softly as the spray drenched their hair. They flung fat little arms over their heads as seagulls dropped around them, cawing. They watched fish swimming just under the surface, all orange and bright below the sheet of translucent turquoise. They made fortune tellers from paper and the few colours of pencils we had. They mixed red and blue to make an attempt at purple.
They were fine.
We tried to be fine, too, tried to find something to do with ourselves. You would sit in the cabin with a magazine and I would play at watching the kids, though the captain was there and they were fine anyway. Then you would take your turn at hovering over them and answering their mangled requests for numbers and colours and their guarantees of happiness and "You will have a nice holiday soon," as if in their little minds this wasn't one, and I would try to focus on a shiny page and the bright red lipstick and not feel sick.
I could never imagine having that on my lips, so thick and gloopy, like a hand clamped over my mouth. At least out here I felt salt, felt chapped. Felt pain. Felt somehow real, connected to the world.
If I was being unkind I’d say you were an unthinking set of folk, but I’m not unkind. I just do my job.
You trust us because our mouths look pretty and our teeth look healthy, just like yours. We look exactly like your own females. But we’ve gone beyond.
It’s the makeup that does it [makeup, derivation: ‘the manner in which something is put together’. That should give you a hint.]
If you cleaned my shining lips you’d see the blood that’s permanently stuck in the cracks. You’d see the sneer, not the smile. And if you pulled at just one of my teeth it’d come away easily in your fingers and you’d have to hold your nose against the stink of the rotten stub.
I’m always surprised you never smell us. Our disguises can’t mask smells. But you trust, you believe. You think we’re just like you. You never investigate.
You spend your summers on yachts [yacht, derivation: ‘fast pirate ship’. That should give you another hint.] And the summer’s when we make our harvests.
You trusting set of folk have a simple love of sun, sea and sailing. And you have the money to borrow, or even to buy, fast pirate ships so we lie in wait and when you’re on board and far enough away from land (not to mention somewhat drunk) we emerge and you think we’re part of your party.
It’s your makeup we use, your yachts we sail.
But we make it back alive, every time.
You never do.
Ship sailing away
In search of quick plunder
On blue briny waves
With a flick of the wrist
False teeth in a glass
With a lip tickle stick
Becalmed steal a mast
Ruby red rose swiped
The nine tailed cat
Half way by midday
Dipping toes lost his hat
I slowly paint your cargo of red smiles, and let it float.
You have found me there, and my packets of swelling
anxieties. The calm of infinite coordinates, beyond and beneath.
You smile at me without your eyes, the hadron colliders
of deathless particles of hopes. The rapture ruptures me.
I refuse to kiss the moon, to let you safely sail
on my skin. While I will remain an unplumbed dark.
The water is sweetened to tame the turbulence.
I will guide the wind, to let us be the singular blue.
The dress that billows out when I flamenco
Scarlet for my lips
pillows as yielding as Caribbean waves
passion of the tsunami
crimson for my lips
people to hide from after rum and lime and coconut
just enough salt on the skin
just enough sun
a tale to tell about octopus, marlin and flying fish
ruby for my lips
and a sunset and a moon and a sunrise
Lures you back to my soft tongue.
But past my lips are shiny teeth.
Pressure. Cold. And dark beneath.
Last month, and then last week, I roared
I swallowed everyone aboard.
Are those pearls that were their eyes?
Or just a breeding ground for flies?
You think you're safe, cavorting nude
I think you're safe as packaged food.
I'll drop the lipstick, rest my finger
On your prow. That'll sink her.
and so many do
you don’t seek them out
until you need them
and when you’re through
you get up and go home
and tell them you’ll call
but you never do until
you need them.
Then you call around
until one of them says
it’s fine to come right over
and over you go
and when you’re through
you get up and go home
and tell them you’ll call
but you never do until
you need them.
You keep their numbers
ranked on your phone
according to criteria.
Lush is important
but so is location and
and minimal aggravation.
I’ve been thinking about the sail on your lips
lost of nautical height. We speak in sign
the best way we can; eyes from an island
against hand of segregated belief against words
of an unspoken boat halted sail. The sun is
too hidden for horizons to show. Smoke
from the fire from where your hands carved
a thousand holes mock the sea for its depths
in sight. My arms have died on these waves
where you promised to keep running, away
to meaningful bonds of camaraderie, away
from the spectacle of love; the water-bright
emotions shelled in an empty grenade, wearing
the sock like a sleeve, to show me righteousness,
floating on wheels –
that the ocean’s calm reflects the glistering sun,
that the tide is slipping beyond the curve of the bay,
that children build sandcastles on distant beaches.
You can smother my senses with strands of silk,
brush my hair across my face, into my eyes,
clothe me in finest slubbed linen, couture-cut,
whisper your soothing falsehoods into my ears.
But even blindfold, I know the sea’s narrative:
how on this bleak day the tide washes in
salttears and cuttlefish, driftwood and birdbones,
how the dunes are stripped bare in the wind,
how the horizon blurs water into air into water.
How the end comes, stormy and shipwrecked.
by mouth an oil stick to wave
in breath no answers only songs
on salted waves we danced
your mother said, you would not.
It was the fifties
white teeth promises
ran chartered waters,
we layered up our promises and
ran to new shores,
listing our route on
in hand your breath
by mouth a striped horizon
in breath your sails bubbled up
on salted tears when we forgot
to look at what was below.
It was only yesterday,
and layered on thinly,
watered-down glue is our smile.
Strip back the hand, and you’ll
see our quick bitten nails
pasted over. Move carefully.
If we’re quick we
can hide the changes in
tide, before the years come
over and sails curve under.
The airmen far from home turf painted their fuselages with one of a bevy of pinup beauties. Like the prow figureheads on ships, these muses and angels were charged with delivering them back safe and sound from each mission. Back into the bosom of life. But as the tide of the war turned in their favour, the boys got cocky on the wing, while their officers were uneasy with such lubricious representations of the women they were fighting for back home. So the warpaint migrated towards the nose cone, where the natural contours of steel and canvas under the propellers lent itself perfectly for the depiction of a raptorial maw. Shark mouths replete with blood-tipped teeth became the norm. Their kamikaze enemy were actually the ones desperately plunging their unadorned Zeros into the water, making themselves shark food in their miss-the-boat attempt to stave off defeat.
[Lips] I got to hand it you. You’ve nearly got me convinced, but I know you’re bluffing. This is a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. Yep, that’s right. Your left hand is out to lunch while you’re playing boss-man.
[Hand] You leave my left hand out of this! I’m in control. You sail your butt over here, err, I mean to the dock over there, pronto. I’m gonna count to three.
[Lips] Maybe I didn’t mean to call you empty-handed because I didn’t see your other half. Maybe we can kiss and make up.
[Hand] You’re stalling. One…
[Lips] Ooh! That sounds so sexy. Why don’t you put that thing down...
[Lips] What’s the rush? I’m coming, I’m coming! Don’t let the wind out of my sails.
[Hand] A little faster please!
[Lips] Okay, okay.
[Hand] Tie yourself to that dock…
[Lips] I don’t do bondage.
[Hand] Now let the hostages go!
the sun’s power masked by light breezes.
So much can be hidden under make-up,
under polite smiles with white-blue teeth
The beautician’s soft hands don’t even shake
as they move in to choke you.
Would you like a cold beverage, sir?
The cooler is full of ice. Drop it
in the sea & see how quickly
each cube melts into the greater body,
almost before it slips below the surface,
long before it could ever reach the sea-
floor. Of course, ice cannot sink
as density is equal in all forms of water.
And what of the people on the boat?
Would they float or go under, if they
jumped or were pushed? Would the soft
hand drop her tube of coral lipstick
to reach down and save them?
We cover so many imperfections.
What if we just let them be? Let our
lips be the color of lips, our nails
the color of nails. Our souls, soul-
colored and smooth sailing in a boat
built not on words but deeds, poised
to go where the wind might take us.
Plug in now or find another power source.'
Make-up makes it all better, of course.
Even when every sky is raining
and the foundation washes from your pores;
your lips just require re-staining.
You remember TV’s comforting tale:
"Everything is better with Coke."
If only it was that easy: hitch up the sail
and escape. The ship soon becomes a wreck.
A day in the sun is worth your soul.
A shore of breakers. MTV Spring Break.
Let’s not get to analytical
and let the pigs feed from the trough
The pig is unclean, and in Biblical
times you might have considered the truth
of being here with them. 'Battery critical:
your device will now switch off.'
‘Such a brave little girl.’
‘You just sit up for me, ok? You just sit up now.’
‘Don’t let go.’
‘You’re getting heavier, princess. I can’t carry you any longer.’
Planted a grin like
a rose on plastic
popped up out of the rigid
earth, to travel
across hillsides and oceans.
It's not like cheer
A pump that has to be primed,
remembering to look at the bright
side when you're out to sea
remembering you left something
deeply important at home.
No chance of going back for it,
might as well laugh
with hysterical forgetting.
That's when she saw him below her on the beach, emerging from the water, footsteps imprinting in sand. His dark wet hair shimmered in the sunlight. Drips of water glistened as they trickled over his torso. She followed their undulating journey, impressed by his tanned physique.
For days she watched from afar, longing to ruffle his hair and caress his skin; to wrap herself around him. She caught him looking in her direction, but he didn't see her. Of course he can't see me, she thought, I'm invisible. She huffed in disappoint, knocking over a bag. What she needed was something to catch his eye.
The Gods listened. A lipstick rolled out; coral, her favoured shade. She followed him to the waters edge; watched him from the quay. She’d caught him in time. He was sailing away from her. Their paths might never cross again. It was now or never. Mouth shaped in an O, she applied the lipstick before puckering her lips. She blew him a kiss across the ocean.
Sand swirled. Waves foamed and frothed, scattering spray into the air. The sky darkened as heavy clouds rolled in, masking the sun. He glanced up and caught sight of her coral lips. Their eyes met at last. He smiled. The yacht began to sway in the turbulent waters. Horrified, she watched it capsize.
"That nasty bitch." I scowled at the photo inspired postcard gripped tightly in my hand. I'd show her.
I grabbed my bright red lipstick and proceeded to cover her bikini clad body snuggled up tight against Jake. She knew he'd invited me personally and she knew I couldn't go because of my parent's stupid anniversary party. But I'd show her. She thinks she’s all that with her perfectly toned body and ample cleavage. Well, two can play that game.
"Think you can take him from me do you, Natalie?" I spat out as I planned my revenge.
Outlining the perfect set of lips in a glorious smile across her postcard, I smiled to myself.
Oh yes, revenge would be sweet.
I created the perfect set of lips to go with the grin on my face. I turned picking up my mobile phone from my nightstand. Time to put my plan into action. I began a new text to Jake.
Hey, Jake, see you're having lots of fun on the yacht, hope you're looking forward to a lot more when you return xxx.
That should do it I smiled looking at the postcard that still displayed his tanned, muscular body. Jake had been asking me out for months and Natalie knew it. She also knew that I was going to say yes. She’d taken her vendetta against me too far this time and now it was time for payback. I'd have my revenge and send Natalie my very own photo inspired postcard.
and gave her sails of red and white
like shiny scarlet lips astride pearls
of white teeth.
We roamed the seas in her.
Entered every port
in search of the scarlet women
with hot ruby lips
who would give us a hand
to paint the town red.
needs music too
blue sky, blue sea -
come on, come on - all banal
soak up some sun -
done, done, done
doo wap de doo dah - baby
could be a clincher
every song needs a baby somewhere
gives time to take a breath
tell me baby - babeee
where did you get those big red lips
I've still got your lipstick in my hand
baby - babeee oo oo doo wap
since you left me I'm so alone
all I do is lay around and moan
will sail my boat 'til you come home
doo wap dee doo dah - baby babeee
getting somewhere now
doo bee doo bee doo
as the day becomes part of the language
those remains of the unthinkable.
music is the only certainty,
but words are here
facing your lips
after the footsteps.
the body and the heat are not like the lips
you must keep on dancing,
fooling the dead
in a naked play
with a hand on the lipstick
and the other
over your brains!!!
I dream of returning home,
I dream of my wife and children—
Once clad in solicitor’s robes,
chairman of town plans,
loyal husband, father, son and brother—
I administer red lipstick like an expert,
dress in a gypsy gown, step into stiletto shoes,
link a matching handbag on my arm...
I open the door to my apartment,
inhale the sea-air scent,
stroll along the promenade...
full blown sail inhaling capsizing capitalist chords
bound by bondage knots unescapable, never untied
memory mooches, meanders with each killing tide
smugglers lips lick profit as salted sailor lips crack
and crunch refugee realisation of never a way back
to a homeland now desolate and destroyed by war
wreaked by factions oblivious to international law
Sail away for a week,
Maybe even more,
Forget all chores,
Find a new life on some far flung golden shore,
Swim into someone else’s life,
Pause and pose on a warm deck with a glass of something chilled,
Listening to the lullaby of the waves as the sun sets,
No nappies, no feeding bottles,
No sleepless nights filled with fitful cries,
Instead I could be dancing beneath a star bedecked sky.
An alluring orange lipstick tinted mirage,
But not tempting enough,
For no dream holiday could replace the adventure of watching the tiny form in the safe harbour of his cot,
A cuddle with him is worth an eternity of parties on a rich person’s yacht.
Desire paints red
Clutching something like a bomb
Some phallic colour
Or sweet rose blush
Lipstick twisted naked
Stuck up in the air.
Entrusting transformation to a
Lips skim across the blue
Her calibrated smile
Erased face hovering like a sail
So many voices in her mouth
Become one woman
of the Peace Bridge, stylistic spars
spreading high into the air:
sleek metal limbs …
reminding me of the night before.
Our clipper sliced through the tidal river
as we tacked against the fretful gusts
in bold seduction of sweet Sídhe,
reminding me of the night before.
We passed the mouth of the Lough:
red striped sail and crew whites of portside craft
summoning an image of her smile
and Atlantic swell recalling that
as I watched her apply her lipstick
the morning after,
naked and glowing from the night before.
Two options lie ahead
Sink or swim
Give up or rise up
Life is not easy
It ebbs and flows
Dry one day, wet the next
We steer our course as best we can
Tides push and pull
All things are transitory
I paint on my smile and sail away.
winging its options
to my window,
to be taken with breakfast,
fresh orange juice
You rip a
voucher – valid today
a 2 for 1
so when you turn
the page a pouting
This is how we’re doomed,
or how we get by:
Do they know the fragility of their value? If doves cry, this species of kookaburra shrieks with laughter, youth and beauty in spades. Diamonds shining in a sea of clubs. Stakes are high, competition fierce with limousines and the red carpet’s treats. Business is pleasure. Pleasure is pain. No pain, no gain. Repetition won't stop the clock, the heart's tick-tock. Models, hostesses, croupiers, all dazzling aliens in pin-up stilettos. Tops tied with gossamer threads. Knots unknot.
He aims and shoots. Perks of a career in every ocean of photography's stars and stripes. Parallels of blanched-white opulence, red-raw between the lines. The girls snort through thoughts of common sunburn, carbohydrates and loneliness. Their diet hysterical: hot tans, Instagram, aspartame and champagne. An American dream spread on caviar canapés, imported from a fish farm in Dubai.
His phone bleeps. Message from home. Reads like a telegram. Punctuated with sighs of telepathy. Icons, pervading, persuading, burrowing reality under his skin. Is a bird in his hand worth betrayal? The knot pulls tighter. He adjusts his swim wear.
On sailing to Carthage
I had dreamed
of sailing to you
with pomodoro lips,
I feared that a local
Lolita might have
woven you into
like a siren
or an island witch
until you climbed
into vineyard arms
memories crumbling like cliff rock.
I will bruise my lips
into spilt iron,
nibble at belladonna
to design beauty for you,
sell all trinkets
of my jewellery instead
to collect you.
Jonah's hands fly free in the air, her sweetness that I still remember after a hundred years, airbrushed the postcard. She has left her hair to grow into glistening frame and hide all that were not to be seen, not to be imagined, left to be forgotten, to be folded back, trimmed out. In those curls are held the stories of black mornings and grey nights; in that swimsuit her fragile body winds around a crepe scarf like a dead tendril.
"Jonah looks beautiful!". My Gran knows not of the heavy waves that have lashed over her body before the picture is clicked.
No one knows what's with her in her yatch, but I.
I, her pen-friend.
The sun’s first rays,
Making her glow.
Her warmth at his side,
He opened his eyes.
And caught her reflection,
From the membrane of glass.
Her lips bright red,
Against the backdrop of sea.
Like a round hull in full sail,
On a journey of dreams.
He could keep the moment still,
And greet the desires from her depths and will.
like the smooth slope of caverns.
I breathe out solace –
the silver-capped waves of indigo depths.
I breathe in absence –
the white room with no sound.
I breathe out all need –
releasing to the sea
what will never be found.
On the outside of time,
on the surface of the body –
these lips open and close.
Love, like the deepest cherry red.
Only thought can take me there.
I open up to the thread-like seams
of people flowing into and out of this realm.
The wind shifts – an unexpected dance.
We sway –
but set my sails,
I am constancy.
I know too that my tears deserve to be un-caged, let loose
And let them walk endlessly through the empty streets of
Existence. Empty? No. Through the stuffed cabins of life
With a sister known as Pretense that has other sisters who
Never show where it hurts. We just know our hearts burn.
I know now that I am tearing myself apart searching for that
Cursed guts of mine. The cursed Pretense, the cursed life.
‘Why always coat your lips with thick-red lipstick, smiling
Like you never knew that living is a prize to be won that can
Still wear the winner out?
Why pretend like all things are good, drinking to craze, laughing
Like a moron (who rarely has shame or pain), looking in the eyes
Of friends even when you know that you’re not searching for love,
strength or courage –
That you’re only rummaging through their archives to know
Where in their life it hurts the more?
To identify? To mock?’
I know why the world is made up of water. I know why hydrogen
Is nothing like oxygen but the two are forces that ruined the days of Noah.
I understand why crying is a sin and pretense is worth all the penny.
When you cry
Who cares to look into your eyes
For real and be touched?
There was a certain red and white symmetry to the whole boat: the white hull, the white yachting clothes and the red sprinkled everywhere like Jackson Pollock had come through with a knife. I opened the tube and applied another layer of grease paint and cow brains and whatever else they put in this stuff. That my hand was shaking seemed only natural.
There was a hushing quiet to the open ocean, a maddening reminder that you have nowhere to go if you step off the deck. It was only broken by the screaming gulls, their cries telling me I shouldn’t have come, shouldn’t have gotten on the rocking prow with people whose barking laughs sound so much like the calls of carrion birds. I popped my lips apart, making that bubble-like sound that spreads the color into the cracks and crevices as if proper coverage could fool the eye into seeing this red as my natural color. It poked holes in the quiet around me.
When the white shape and distance buzz of its engine crested the horizon, the color on my lips was layered so thickly, I imagined it gave me one of those pretty pouts girls resort to needles for. When the wake rocked my white hull and added wind to the sails, I pasted on my smile and waited.
When they stepped into my red and white symmetry and saw me, I like to think they felt welcomed before the horror set in.
red lips on a sandy shore
I was a fool to believe
the golden words
your warm lips
when you waved goodbye
and promised to be back
I waited all those long years
of wife and kids
and no regrets
I guess the skipper was a good catch
now the horizon plays
the fool with me — from red
to grey then pinch-sharp blue
I thought I saw your face again
when you first came to me
red lips on a sandy shore
Crashes and brakes
To a halt
Not sudden but simmer
Foams on the surface
And pulls away.
Like you in my life:
and lips Untamed
Only One step
And we flock to the flamingo like magnets
Attract- they do attract
When will we stop the migration & stand still this flowing river
And stand out for the stars we are
Start thinking and serving a purpose
The purpose is not to be fooled
Don't let the foolish spirit take hold
Read it off
From corner to sleeve
Tear it with tears of prayer
Ask for forgiveness
Ask and it will be granted
Epochs followed one after the other, the Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age, and they could have built skyscrapers a lot sooner if they had not put the knowledge to making swords instead. Rome’s soldiers marched across the then known world, short blades and shields and people conquered. An idea saw the eventual end to Rome, ideas and words are powerful, a new church and ideology, land was no longer enough, men wanted other men’s souls as well. Those outside the circle, labelled barbarians; and Rome’s retreat, labelled ‘the dark ages’, where agricultural society was up for grabs by bearded heavies.
For them the oceans they crossed must have seemed endless and the villages they pillaged, alien. Only years later to settle down and integrate; tribe distinctions blurred and the birth of nations. It only took a couple of thousand years to get to modernity, consumerism and pop culture, for her it’s all lost now between the latest snippets of online news while applying lip gloss.
And after all, the skyscrapers were built.
thousand sails in the
the lip that remains
passive in underlying
myths of water and storm
the lip that sails through
myriad images is now blue
soaked in water, traversing skies
the lip that subverts all death
the lip is now doomed to die.
Calm all of you- sea shores,
sea horses, sea myths
the lip is forsaken- another world.
refused to engender, hiding our sex
in clothing that revealed nothing.
now, genitals bared, we cower.
the training has begun. practices
that must be mastered.
we cannot leave until we speak
a stranger’s voice, move foreign
flesh, our own dismembered.
we are made to pace the deck, mince
not stride, capsize ever-threatening.
lips readied, we must kiss or drown.
What inspired the first erection?
Why don't your lips move when you speak?
What do geraniums smell like?
How does one lose a memory?
Why can't God be more obvious?
Have you drunk champagne with vodka?
How do they say "fuck" in Spanish?
How long could you live underwater?
What are we going to do now?
it flutters like a butterfly in the wind.
Put on my face in the mirror, so
I fit in society's mindless grin.
Expectations, perceptions, vile preconceptions –
it all contributes to our judgements, to
your judgement, to
our and your actions.
Make pretty and it becomes girly,
make ugly and it becomes boyish,
make anything in neutrality,
and you'll find an impossibility...
a shark dancing on bare feet, shaking a tambourine.
Brains are wired before we're aware we think.
Make pretty the gloop, the grey and the white,
they matter! before we all need shrinks.
Fuck making pretty, and just make what you need.
And just make.
It is a riddle with no proper count
You mask it in a color
And drown me while I wander
How do I get in?
How can I come in?
Let me sail in your thoughts
With this fire you've caught
Let my sea devour you
As I wish to hold your hand
Will it be better soon?
Let's find out while we still can
Swim swim and let's find out.
Stay and don't go out.
rippling in tight knots
cresting/ breaking by a wind
flirting with the languid Poseidon
a bunch of post-modern hedonists
watch the convulsing bosom of the sea
finite pitted against the infinity
mortals vs. gods
then a slender hand emerges out of depths
and paints a face over the yacht with a red stick
a work of mysterious force as in a Spielberg film
Or, challenging such cognitive boundaries!
and dull routines
of everyday life;
the sticky tape and Blu Tac
that hold it all together.
The familiar maps,
are cast out.
It's time to forget time,
to see anew,
navigate the unfamiliar,
explore the unusual.
There's a chance
to rewrite the story,
be someone else;
a little foolhardy,
An exotic adventurer
of some gentle frontier.
Blood splattered almost every surface, the length of deck head was speckled and daubed with large smears, the insides of the hull walls were splashed and sprayed with ichor, the mast bottoms that still ran through from the deck above were freshly dressed in red, as if painted to protect the wood from the sea. The deck crew all now slop together, their rhythm of movement fixed by the swell breaking in, their raucous words now silently swallowed by the salt water they lay in, every man and boy split, riven and holed by the shot and shell that had ruined the ships sides.
Once proudly cleaned and inspected everyday, the wood inside the ship that had been turned smooth by many harsh hands and years of patient polishing was now scarred, scratched and blown into splinters that had spit the hands that had carefully tended. As the ship leans against the swell items half hidden in the clouded water wash down from one side to the other. Unused cannon balls, bits of gun carriage and parts of people cut into chunks by the flying wooden knives pile against the wooden walls of the ship. The unclotted sea water leaks back out of the holes rent in the sides of the hulk whilst bodies, rope ends and wooden remnants make small dams around lesser rents sifting out the debris from the streams of blood that slowly bleed into the sea around.
Read more >
lip liners sail by
tip the bit of buoy
out the boy
The Ocean of Your Mouth is
So you'll apply and reapply layers to lips that might one day speak the right words
doom storms pacifics
Go go go get away from here
Blow it far with your Big Mouth
let the party continue in an ignorant eye so you may tell a lie of freedoms
mixing their gin with salt water
And what's worse
you are left with a drowned ego
Rugged lover's rigged curse
Licked by a west wind
Served with the soft pucker
Of absolute red, steadied
By a hint of salted breath;
Blessed with the luck of full tide
And promise of a harvest moon
Striped with purity of soul
And honest pulse of heart,
Set sail your trust in me
Buoyed by my love for thee.
"Its the hand of destiny!" someone yelled out.
I remain somewhat sceptical about all of this. A possible stunt for the adversarial board? All of which remained me to be prepared, as its not all plain sailing, that raising the cruising shoot is not without problems, thats it's a cut throat business out there. But, we will keep on sailing right to the end.
come melt with me on this sugar sea
and I won’t ask you
to choose a useful destination
or think beyond
each deep sensation
as we ride the rock and roll of it
the flash and tease and pull of it
where I don’t need
or any fervid declarations
no signatures no pledges
just lips and tongues and fingertips
tracing lines of sweet and salty
pleasures on our skin
A slight downturn, a reddened smear,
An irritant fly on a candy striped day.
Chatting through even teeth
on a Monday
buoyant as we drove through chalky streets
towards a flattened coast.
A mouth that ran away
click clacking its way
through painterly skies.
That mouth with its pelican cry
gulped my horizons
and its loose tongue
lassoed my defenceless soul.
One could still float
Nautical miles away
from the anchor.
After wearing the
ocean on the face,
Voyage is a carousel
of want and water.
is a rind to peel off,
Every colour an island.
Every hour, rudderless.
To paint almost-words
was utterance enough
A blush of air
And the keel kissed a
The horizon, a shadow
Without foundation, remained
Out of reach.
We steered with a caress,
A lovers touch to the tiller
Took us out, deep beyond
Our lives around us,
Gathered on a deck,
Stowed for a storm
Forecast by a storm begun
In a land untouched
By the sea.
where swimmers, surfers,
sun worshippers cavort.
Long salty hair
wild flowered gowns.
Streams of silk
waves of taffeta
They sail through
my watery face
combing my eyes
whispering in my ears.
Kissing my lips
again and again.
Brother pushed me in the sand, as he did. It was all the same: Mom scolded him, I was the saved. At night Bill Withers cried Lovely Day! on the radio and I just cried: Brother cheated at cards! He sang in a baritone to soul music, smooth jazz, whatever the decade called it, and I remember loveliness.
Mom called yesterday: suicide. We got some fries, Mom and I, played cards to pass the time. Brother had a way of getting from nothing to something in one sentence. Our game was unfair, he said one Sunday, and then it was just growing up and then it was getting older, and then days were too short. Wars passed, as they do, but we once got to play music on a boat, and that was nice.
Brother said: I remember milkshakes, and I said, I never had one, and the boardwalk was destroyed by a hurricane, the beach swept into the ocean, and then it was Monday morning. He said: You never gave me anything, and I said, I do remember the sad radio station and the fries. There was water around my ankles and some nice sunsets. Anyway, the truth was that I never learned how to play cards because I knew I would lose.
Hard wired, adrenaline mired
To recreate an ally when in need, the
RPG overlay of multiple paths
To lead us to safety or ruin:
The gain of being able to
See outside of ourselves
Even when we're struggling to stay pace
Afloat in qualia, waves of polarised energies.
They say we search
Motor neurons drive to replicate
That struggle against entropy,
Muscles tightening in embrace
Flushed with the red of blood
To show that yes,
I feel good today
My teeth shine like gates
As I wait for you.
Harriet’s new husband turned out to be a few months older than her father. From one old codge to another, she observed. He was a renowned artist. An artist who didn’t want anything to do with human love. His heart and soul already belonged to his Muse. What he needed more than anything was his own ‘slave.’ The artist, of course, didn’t say this to Harriet’s father, but her pater understood the silence between the words.
Harriet never complained. She cleared up after her husband, made his dinners, washed and ironed his clothes. She became adept at conducting one way conversations, where he did all the talking. She brought calmness to his chaos.
And the artist? He continued to devote every single ounce of himself to his Muse. His latest work, a special commission, the perfect showcase of his talents for painting the sea, and those who sailed on it.
His wealthy patrons took great pleasure in showing off their passion for consumption to those less fortunate than themselves. They never felt more alive than when they saw the envy reflected in others eyes. They came to the studio the once. Stood in a line, modelling their exclusive sailing gear. An afternoon proved sufficient to capture their exact likeness. The artist was that good. On the day of the appointment, Harriet escorted the noisy group of patrons into the studio. They watched her from under their privileged eyelashes, tittering behind their hands. Read more >
Swimming free and wild.
Candy stripped canvases billowing in the breeze,
sailing, surfing the high seas.
“SMILE HO’” the lookout cries, pointing at a particularly large grin.
The helmsman spins the wheel, pointing the ship in the same direction.
The deck explodes with activity, hunters pulling out stored lipsticks,
their points sharpened to a razor edge.
The hunt was on, having only seen sneers and the occasional grin, it was time to hunt the greatest prize,
a Pacific smile.
it is cosmetically enhanced
a plaything for happiness.
Her sex burgeoning
in the womb of the sea.
She hands them enhancement,
fishers of men,
draws them in.
Dwarfed by the power of red,
her promise of liberty.
Promises have teeth.
She defines their need
and shouts it above their pleasure.
As far as holidays went, it was a bore, God thought to himself as he flipped the pages and hummed to himself.
Yawn; scratch belly; pastels; turbulent weather.
Change of plans.
Throwing in the blue, breaking the graphic, adding some shade, becoming a she.
And stepped into the pages he’d written for herself, you and me.
as the Summer breeze
leads it through
over the blue as above
undressed of woes
(how do you do what do you do is this your first time
how do you do what do you do what's your name)
- 'read my lips', she says
Red her lips, she sails.
You know, the part of me I can’t reach.
But you can with your keyboard hands
Your hands that crafted a sonata for my flute and your piano.
This would be our andante, our allegro, with tacit parts
Whole measures where our fingers would be paralytically still
Hovering over the gasping holes of my Gehmeinhardt,
The ivory silent just beneath your fingertips.
Earlier that day we had composed our own suntan oil
A bottle of Johnson’s baby oil and eleven drops of iodine.
I dyed my skin and you ran your thumb across my lines,
Without a passport, mapping my body.
Later, we huddled in the perch of that Silver Maple treehouse
And you put those headphones on my ears
Clumsy earmuff contraptions
Telling me your father had done this for you
Giving you the world outside Casey Kasum and the Top 40.
Deepmud Mississippi Delta jazz
Dixieland bands saint-singing the dead to the cemetery,
The Julida polka squeeze boxed out of an asthmatic accordion.
And today you give me Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring
Tis a gift to be simple, Tis a gift to be free
And we found ourselves in a place just right,
a valley of delight, unashamed
With your hand tapping rhythms between my shoulder blades,
Crossing all boundaries.
can't do water now, flat screen
nothing to hang a bikini on.
A shire horse in Norfolk owns
my shoe collection, my toes are buried
in the cathedral of a mole.
I gnaw with gravestone fragments
while placing a perfect pout on Mt Everest,
grow shadows in the desert.
I cool hot wired fingers in a politician's pond
then pop a camel in his duck house.
Photoshopping all day, I might paint me
a loin cloth lover later for a little light
I follow 2,000, some follow me.
neither makes you God,
nor what might be transfigured,
much less considered by God--
you and I are such a non-event.
These lips have kissed yours, though not in a life--
you’ve told me with much assurance--
we should have no illusion will go on beyond
the four walls we’re trapped in here.
Yes, even this seascape, not exactly Homeresque,
in its false calm, and lack of promise
can be captured in art and song.
Here, I hand you. Take this. Try that.
Is there much to lose?
We were going to sail it on the bluest ocean
wild waters filling our horizons.
We bought a hull and a manual.
We studied rigging, tide tables,
the Handbook of Knots.
All summer we sealed and sanded
we fitted it with a teak deck
where we would lie back, gaze up
we’d drift on summer songs.
We gave our ship a bright striped sail
Revlon red - to contrast with the sky.
By August the tarmac was sticky
varnish bubbled, our sail hung limp
my lipstick had melted in its tube.
The ocean had shrunk to a puddle.
We were lush with heat.
Relentless days bled
into star-rinsed nights
and I longed for cool water
I longed for you to take me out to sea
but summer had set sail
and our boat was still in dry dock.
on her chest.
She enjoys the pawing Rivera Ponente
cool her blushing cheeks
ravished by the lusting sun.
she dances with the blue ribbons
easing her arms through glistening reflections.
She swims in diamonds.
the ice caps of danger and inquisition
take the waters over head.
Filling lungs with tales of oil smugglers, cave drifters and Greek cliff flyers
She goes under.
A train ticket to her name
snapped sandals tied with hair bands,
she retreats from the quilt
Sailing in her sleep with the most sincere smile.
To objects lost - brown soil - orange dust
Everyone else is sure they see the same images
Just on the fringes of the familiar
Murmurs in the margins
Fitted together like the tesserae of a mosaic
A corner turned down
Reminding us later to concede to vulnerability
Under graphite - light and air - the glitter of sun rays
Sitting in obeisance to some command that
no one might have uttered
Drifting to ever widening circular pools
Our bodies' edges merging into another
What is it? Who are you? An insect
Your despair displayed with tassels
and spread on the floor
A gust of wind in the labyrinth
The affect of a magnet on physical things
A photo stuck to the mirror
Orsola, Orsolina… Little bear
A smile is a cipher
A threshold between your life and the lives of strangers
A twitch in the upper lip in the right corner of the mouth
Allowing the eye to wander occasionally off course
with the force of deception
A party in full swing
With wind in their sails
Corks were popped, so it began
Someone decided to add some zing
It was time for cocktails
Suddenly, from the depths she appeared
The lipstick lady
Hearts began to flutter
All went quiet - not a mutter
The hand of misfortune as one they cried
She had not surfaced for a decade or more
One and all now frightened to their core
The Bermuda triangle would not be denied.
Let’s sink into post-imperial love, giggling into the waves.
Give all the diplomats a bit of a necessary shock –
Quick! With a kiss we throw off the geopolitical padlock.
Dispatch our previous unions, trash the trading blocs –
isn’t taking back control such a delicious, glorious rave?
A kiss, a liplock, then we throw off the geopolitical padlock.
Let’s sink into post-imperial love, giggling into the waves.
Win a trip on the good ship, the Lady Lipstick.
He dare not blow skew the tidy tableau
With his tremble inland of her steady hand.
He would ride with the others, his victim brothers,
On sweet loop from prow of her cupid's bow,
But should he miss and she ruckle her kiss,
It's all blue over down, it's all down, it's to drown
All alone in the blue, it's to drown within view
Of her red and red lure, cruel upon the azure.
It's a yum advertisement, a rum enticement
But perhaps he should shrug her and play the land lubber,
Admire from shore the good ship, the Lady Lipstick.
smiles will wreath my face as winds fill the sails.
Let us billow on the ocean from outside my home
to all the places I have missed since I left them,
and some new locations in between!
I will know the heady scents of islands in the sun
where I basked to restore tiredness in my soul,
I will know the tastes of foods I learnt to cook
in countries flung across the globe.
Sail me away, smiling, to see friends I have missed,
their faces pictured in my mind these years.
We will eat and drink, breaking bread together once again.
Smile me away as we sail the oceans, warms seas and bracing
swells will bring me to my homes,
all etched in my mind and held in my heart,
never far from my lips.
The ocean lies on my bed
breathing in conch-whispers
I float up to give it space. It is dry and feverish tonight
and curls around my ankles tugging me down
Its amoebic tips reach my lips, caressing them -rudely, carelessly its eyes somewhere else
The inattentiveness insulting my softness
An yacht floats out from the depths
People dance to music on the deck
Their laughter floats into the deeps
turning into another language of imagined gods
These people left a world I knew
but they still laugh
Death is much maligned after all
A mast straightens
A flag pours out from a toothpaste tube
in stripes of red and white
and I stand to attention listening to an anthem
that plays till a clock stops and drags it backwards
and I try to read that script too out of habit
We bleed together
music and mouth
in the aftermath of reversal
We are the dreams of the ocean
We wait for its sonorous waves to take us home
to turn us into seashells
each housing a crawling memory
Fair drained she was, she said, and I knew it were all from the WI. Sure enough, some soft-hearted tin shaker from one of them corduroy-and-cardigan shops popped round, spouting off about poor little potbellied mites in Chad or some such mess of another's makin'.
Oh, full of the starvin' little beggars she was, all through two pots of me Wednesday Darjeelin' and a wedge of me fresh cream Victoria (for 'manners', mind). Now Lord knows I'm certain no kiddie should starve, wherever the poor bleeder's spat out, but I were still right bothered about them groceries and I clocked they'd subbed the butter for some of that spreadable muck you can't cook with. It's cod bake on Wednesdays. Me breadcrumbs won't crisp up with that spreadable muck put over.
Oh, she gave me such a look! Soggy breadcrumbs? With starvin' mites in the world? And 'er with a flippin' great gobful o' sponge!
Well, I weren't havin' that.
So what, I said. So what if I don't get all salty-eyed at the thought of 'ungry nippers? They're in my world alright, but they're stuck there a long way off wantin' out and I'm stuck 'ere with no butter not wantin' in. Not wantin' in ain't the same as not givin' a sod. It's just what you're in, where you're in it. Read more >
to the edge of
where our party
tunes lead us
plays on lazy
We are the makers
Make us up
Paint us with
Paint a trail back
to the landmass
In your lipstick
purse shopping mall
pop music world.
Better not try
With your red lips
Life has few hollows
To be empty
Your promises are leaves
In a forest deciduous
Fertile in fall
If memories were governed
By demand and supply
Market forces I mean
All geniuses could be ordinary
All histories linear
Since they are not
Meanings can be metaphors.
I thought you loved me.
Bright red lips set me on fire
blue eyes sparkling with desire
white teeth acquiescence
aspiration showing presence.
I know your lips told them my story
to cover you with treacherous glory.
Were your blue eyes damp with shame
as you gave away my name?
They sailed across the sea with me
I must die; and you are free.
The world of mixed emotions and divided intentions
So cruel and so joyous
Ready to sail, sail away to unknown shores
What faces us, what things to come?
Face it, we need to unite
Let’s face it together
Co-ordinating lip colour and manicured nail;
Sapphire placid Pacific, Dali-inspired poster,
Santa Barbara heat, breeze tempered coaster.
Santa Ynez peaks fill backdrop skyline;
American Riviera, refill glass, Merlot wine.
Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, conflicts remoter;
Woman, sun dress, adjusts shades & straw boater.
brandishing lip lolly
the hand of a Charlie's Angel
attempts to reapply blind slick
to the overspilling gossip gloss
of a rose frosted cupid
rudderless; as wind diminishes
like a sag end cadence
teetering on the brink
the tooth mint paste of spinnaker
begins to unfold and Riviera dreams
are held in the hands of a flick stuck Fonda.
Lilliputian lemmings - they draw straws
For who will go below
trapped in a weekend supplement
awaiting the decoupage slap and glue
Of a new companion.
the wind through my sails,
the infinite deep.
Your lips are the ride of a life,
the paint on my skin,
the roar of high waves.
Your lips are rose petals from God,
the kiss of ambrosia,
the peace felt within.
Your lips are laced with red wine,
the peak that is sought,
the smooth sailing sky.
Your lips are sweeter than sugar,
the path laced in honey,
the nectar I crave.
Your lips are an angel on earth,
the truth born from love,
the core come to life.
Your lips are a song of salvation,
the pulse of pure heart beats,
the thump in my chest.
(Statements like that should come with a health warning.)
YOU’RE A BLANK CANVAS. they said.
(Yeah, right - we all know where that can lead, don't we?)
WE CAN'T OVERSTATE YOUR POTENTIAL, she was told.
(Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?)
YOU'VE GOT STAR QUALITY - their very words.
(That’s what we’d all love to hear, isn’t it?)
YOU’’LL BE THE NEXT TOP MODEL, they said.
(Who wouldn't be flattered?)
THEY PROMISED HER THE EARTH,
(but what they didn't tell her, is that when you’re in hospital
after an overdose, you’re as dead to them as last night's news)
to launch the brightest ship.
A sail swells in red and white
matches a glimpse of teeth,
a shimmering blush of lips
gliding faster than knots.
Her skiff afloat for a wink,
a glance, then a blown kiss
across an ocean of longing.
Her lips rock on her breath,
taken in and expelled, a tide
dictated by full moon of her.
Pouting provocatively - lips replenished.
Pearly whites on guard protecting that winning smile.
They stand behind me – my faithful acolytes.
But its me you have come to see.
My gorgeous life-style – lipstick always poised.
To make a flourish and nourish that stellar mouth.
BUT it takes endless HOURS to achieve that SMILE.
You must envy me – my privileged life.
As you sit on that sweaty commuter train.
Up early - feed the kids – do the school run.
Slash your face with last year’s colour
Stand on your feet while I lounge and loaf
at the top of the ocean – all played out.
While you dish up the remnants of those tatty bargains.
And finally lock-up shop.
A picture? A painting?
A picture and a painting?
Who did this? Why?
There are people and lipstick,
And a hand, and the open sea,
And... And... And...
Who knows what else.
But, it's original.
It's originally unique.
That says something
More than I thought it could.
And, it's also a surefire way
To ensure recognition, remembrance.
I guarantee you I will not
Forget this piece.
It'll stick to my bones
In the dreaded hours of night.
I will awaken, open to
Memories, bent on
Recalling this very masterpiece.
And in that moment,
In that one, secretive, shut-me-in
Moment, I will be free.
And you will too.
To conjure up Lispector, to snatch at the other’s hand, to imagine what was moist and what, instead, was drowned underneath. The once-living, the lost. How can a water so blue, a liquid glass that never lies, conceal all of those bodies inside; for whom did those fingertips reach? Only to find, a rush of sea-grass, silver once it has dried.
A sound so slight, a husk of rice cracked open in the wind. The mirto has stained our teeth, so, drunk and hot, each sound can only be a shiver. Still, we scream – just look at the colour of this water, how it shines.
We fetch the words, smooth pale stones cast upon the sand, catching small rays onto which we cling. Wild gesticulations, swimming toward each other as though the tide, curving against the shore, can only deliver us to another pair of feet. T holds up her camera, right up, to her face, she wants to grab it all – time sliding through her fingers, like trousers turning to liquid and she cannot pull them on – what else could we do now?
Long harpoons tied to a yellow string, red balloons wilting, the only sign – we are underwater, we are searching. Sea urchins leave us with speckled fingernails and K unfurls the sail, at which point it can only be a metaphor for how we feel – overripe, greedy – flung against the wind, our bodies burnt, both thirsty and quenched.
But my hands can’t help you float across the ocean
And your lips can’t help me speak to the silence
Part them, partially, glint me in pearls of courage
to see past the shimmer, to fear past the clouds
to emerge in a place so remote that I barely remember a thing
and took a day off.
Why shouldn't it?
It's been a long year.
Once rote, once spoke,
sailor-boy's sails billowed
but now he sings
"If I had a boat".
Where was her touch,
her holy communion?
An anemone coronaria
is a flower from
Isreal, a poppy but
black at its centre
with a white outline -
its white teeth
around how it kisses
deep the bees and
its stem reaches up
to colour its lips.
He had watched them leave in the early hours, the sail unfurling as they rounded the harbour wall and hit the open water, its candy stripes, red, white and incongruous against the shimmering morning ocean.
'So frivolous,' he thought. And her crimson lipped smile flashed before him.
She had tiptoed onto the deck, tottering down the gangway in diamanté slippers, lifting a veil of pale blue chiffon which swathed her modesty - but only just - as she hopped on to the deck. Boats were not her territory. Terra firma, that's where she glided. But she smiled her crimson smile and almost concealed her unease as she swayed there on the deck, their eyes meeting when she became aware of him staring and realised that, somehow, he understood her.
The sea, this is her greatest fear.
He had thought to tell her that she was right to be wary. Her unease quite rational. Necessary even. But the ropes were already loosened, the mast raised, the course set.
As they rounded the harbour wall, he called out and waved, just in case.
'Bon voyage!' Knowing she wouldn't hear.
Read more >
laughing and happy
among family and friends
on the edge of my lips
as I paint on a smile
and adjust the sails
to weather the storm
that no one can see.
The storm that rages
'neath the calm of my face
as the mask is pulled tight
hiding all trace of you.
Never sail into view
without applying lipstick
to the sunset.
Stick your sweetest
on public display.
Mix clear blue skies
with tagged pink drinks
to create green.
#Love is: less than 3.
Laugh out loud.
into the gloss of how
the mouth hides with
finger-sized painting... where’s
the fix from heat? The dialect
what’s popular: behind the smile:
a bouquet of bone and further smiles,
assisted living atop
what blue means
in the advent of