• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 08

Transcendental Triumph

Detached by our delicate differences
Sublime similarities saved us at the seams

Ruffles repeating, revealing
Not concealing
Our collective need for healing

Mending our mismatches
As the world around us collapses

Imperfect parallels protect us
From unreturned reflections
That are forever free from rejection

Tessellated together
Trust transforms
This awkward alliance
Into our transcendental triumph

1

For Alex, On Your Birthday

I want you to come home for the summer.

I want to feel
Even if for a moment
Like we haven’t changed
And everything will be okay
I think I’ll be able to breathe again

Like the stars we hung in the sky
Aren't just planes
And I can hold your head up
With my own

Like we aren't the worst
Of what raised us
Or didn’t care to understand
Anything about us
Apart from how tall we’ve grown

I miss you in a way
That feels like an end
I reminisce about taking a dip
In your dreams
And letting hope soak into our aching bones
Sighing clouds in the sky
That look like the better us


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2

Be still

Be still the fragile me
That sees mountains not gates
Be quiet and hold your tongue,
Hold the panic, take the weight
Be the holder of a breath
Dark thoughts locked away
Be the keeper of the secrets
neither spoken nor betrayed
Be still the fragile me
Your screams have no place here
Be mine drawn close
Embraced against your fear
Be protected, restrained
Let me bandage your soul
For only I hold the keys
Only I can make you whole

3

The Giraffe’s Daughter

Lovingly holding me in her arms, mommy turned the page and kept the story going: "And the giraffe was so sad because she wanted to yell but she was born with no voice. Everyone in the jungle knew that giraffes are born mute" and I followed a tear running down her cheek with my eyes and asked: "what's wrong mommy?" But I was too young to see the stitches on her lips...

And now, many years later, I can't put myself to sleep coz I can't trust my brain with my dreams. Coz I still remember the pain when they recycled my blood to make sure I don't inherit a thing but the muteness in my genes. Coz they kept telling me that I'm ugly and now thousands of edgy mirrors make my heart bleed. Don't shush me! Coz when I'm silent I can hear my mothers soul crying in the closet behind the clothes that she wasn't allowed to wear. I loved the rainbows in her eyes, and the pink blood in her veins, but noone else did. They soaked her in gas and asked her for a light and made me watch to make a lesson out of it. Then they asked god to forgive her and told me that the giraffe died of a sinful disease.

4

Moskovskiye Sestri

Moscow, last snow, shortly before
April. Armed with a pin cushion,
she drapes my pirozhki shoulders
and decides us: sisters in crime.

Drunken ballerina, I gladly fall for
she who can stitch me back up. She
talks Bolshoi, broken ankles, whether
the dark should devour the swan,

and how to mend tulle with invisibles.
Just because something has assumed
the shape of girls does not make it
any less dangerous than sobaki –

Mayakovski, but with a tape measure.
I am familiar with these delicate
instruments of torture: white chalk,
pattern paper. At the opera or with

a couturière, one is always: contorted,
or waiting. She calls me milaya –
that is, if I quit wearing black, embraced
the colour pink, her brand of abrasive

feminine. A woman needs an oligarkh,
she laughs like little pearl buttons,
then downs half the bottle – she pulls
me close, electrified and etherized,

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5

Shadow-self

Shadow-self flickers and floats
along the ground
thrives in sunshine fails without
long and lean or short and small
shadow-self follows
in a shadowy dance
climbs walls fords streams
leaps ahead or trails behind
but still clings fast
shadow-self cannot be lost
is always there dreamy misty
wished for imagined
or best-forgotten self

6

paraesthesia

i am that eerie echo just under your skin
a reflex to an unnatural breeze
dim light stewing in a corner
ultra and infra jab-bering at your ear
a smudged notion of you
               proof of otherness

i am the pale ghost of twilight
you are substance in the glare
in your dialogue between
reality and illusion
i'm as real as it gets
                proof of duality

i confound your attempts
to cast off the not-you
suggesting sensations that distract
i provide our safety
you see only fears
                proof of schism

my beat is your heart
your soul is my life
my breath is your vigour
your word is my thought
in commune we belong
                proof of sameness

7

Enigma

she tells me
I touch her
with my words

I say

there are
better ways

                       she laughs
                       I love how

                       like she
                       has been
                       for me

                       waiting

we kiss,
sometimes
not even words

that is life

with her
without

                       so high
                       from snorting
                       the lines

                       of her
                       poems

                       I think

8

Visitation

No wings
but a swift exhale of fridge-cool breath
ruffling my shoulder.

I sense your lean in,
the silent stroke of wrist, sleeve, hand
until I drift,

eyes shut
but mind still wide-eyed anxious. But then
your low hum

begins to mute
this world, lets me fill that shouty space
with gems.

Kind words of
platinum and turquoise whisper, curve, dangle
from my ear.

My woven brows
hold spoken slivers of gold, pink agate, silver.
Now, I can create.

9

JANUS

Are you stunned by our beauty?
Flawless noses, sweeping lashes,
chiseled lips, sculpted cheekbones,
elegant skulls, tapered fingers,
slicked hair, embellished brows—
a two-headed god facing past and future—
one head bowed for old humiliations,
the other rising in eternal hope,
four arms to hug ourselves twice over
and keep the hate at bay.
We close our eyes to blind prejudice,
but don’t think we don’t sense your bias.
Nestling into each other’s curves,
using gathered fabric as a shield,
we widen shoulders, brace ourselves,
let criticism slip-slide off unheeded.
Two senses merge seamlessly,
as glittering rhinestone eyes,
watchful, awake, with hooded lids,
dangle from ornamented earlobes.
They see and listen, guiding us,
gently entwined lovers
through a morass of loathing.
Even as we protect ourselves,
we struggle to comprehend
how our love is any less,
why it deserves your animus.

10

Assumption of Identical

We are contradictions sharing the same mirror,
neon and neutral blush swimming
a dream to be more than faces
assigned by eyes to be one reflection.

I wear my heart in pressed coral while you
keep yours in the secluded view of trusted.

We burn the candle at both ends, my wick reaching
the center in an ashy blink, while yours flirts with oxygen
in sputtering wisps of patience.

We are from a single stem blooming as different flowers,
the eyes folly identical always flows the same direction.

11

Dear Sister

I never got to know you, but I have seen you many times before. In the half-reflection of windows, in the forms and colours lurking in a fogged-up mirror. I've always felt your presence, the pressure of your existence. Sometimes it feels like you are the ocean, and I'm down at the very bottom of you, and I can feel you pushing me on all sides, trying to crush me like a tin can.

There is only one place where I am safe from you. I walk out into the middle of the stage to soft applause, and I dance. Tonight we are performing La Bayadère. My body moves in the familiar, welcome route. Sissonne, and I leap. Arabesque, and I stretch. Emboité, and I expand myself whole. Underneath the spotlight, I feel everyone's gaze on me. I am seen, felt, present in these moments.

When the performance ends, and the spotlight is dark, and I'm in the ocean once more, I think of you, dear sister. I catch glimpses of your face in half-reflected things. Maybe one of these days I'll turn to look, and you'll no longer be there.

Until that day comes, I dance.

Yours,
Your brother

12

Another Sunday

“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You absolutely do.”

“When am I even supposed to have said this?”

“In your sleep.”

“You know that doesn’t count.”

“That’s the only thing that counts.”

Our hands unclasp as we are forced apart by a few stranglers in the throng of people. My hand feels empty. I clutch my dwarf patio peach tree tighter under my arm and wonder where I’ll put her when we get home.

I feel their eyes on me. My skin always itches when they look at me like that.

We’ve stopped, apparently. This plant feels heavier when I’m standing still. I can feel it in the soles of my feet. Like they’re being flattened, collapsing in on themselves. The plastic pot cuts into my arm.

Turning to see why we’ve stopped. They’ve got their palm on a stranger’s shoulder.

“Sorry. I don’t want to be weird, I just love your style.“

“Oh, thanks.”

“I thought you might like to know that you were being admired.”

“It’s always better to know…”

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13

Just the two of us

You prop up your breasts in folded hands;
I am poised to wake you as your lids droop
in sleep. We stand together like a single heart,
our colours a mis-match of ruffled taffeta.

My name is a tattoo on your brown skin;
I am written near your shoulder, down
your side like a message on a rock face,
but you have fallen silent as forgotten love.

How will you rid yourself of my shadow;
I am armed with nails, with rings, yellow
brow of jealousy. My eye will be with you
always and yours will be with me, blinding.

14

Plenitude

we
we two
we two are

of the

gender heart
shape or

the gender ear
( with sur

prised gaze )
or eye

-lids tight
shut or

the gender of
falling a

sleep

we
we two
we two are

infinite &
eternal


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15

Painted Iris

One half of me is a blank page,
the other has been painted
over the years and hours —
slow strokes of time at the mercy
of dreams and lesser whims.

I hold the brush to the canvas,
(who am I kidding?)
this is not another's skin.
I want out, so I walk out
of the well-lit room and into the day,
where traffic merges with light
and senses swell in the heat.

In the distance, a siren;
in my back pocket, a pen.
From inside me a voice
rises like tide. On my palm
I write down a poem.

16

Convex Mirror

Behind of the rose wardrobe
the fake diamond rings
she gives the performance of the truly liked –
Over the mantle of shame
the frozen smile on numb cheeks
she wears the bright colors of the future –
eye – closed – eye – half opened – eye – closed
to the present.
The moment is pink clouds
of poisonous rain falling into the mouth –
of whom is dreaming
with lying head on invisible shoulders.

17

Potential

Fate watches with pearly eyes
and a grace
shucked fresh from the shell

dexterous, they begin
fingers unwoven
wrists wriggled like a spell
knives wielded skilfully
repeatedly
until second nature settles in

their trial:
to unseabottom me
into being

to pry my luster from the soft, safe tongue

to soothe me
over and over again
until I shine

18

Rococo

A mardi gras of parakeets bicker gaily as I wander,
paper bags of grain, a pudgy toddler hand in mine,
aiming unsteadily for a creamy-cupped magnolia.

Within its glossy leaves, two peach-faced lovebirds
catch the aviary windowed light and I think of Fragonard,
‘The Swing’ a distant summer at the Louvre. How that

playful painting, galante, serpentine, as intimate as you
and me in our beginnings, held us fixed while half the world
passed by. Loose, florid, that ballet-pink dress billowing out

in boscage air, the paramour’s curved arm, and all the green
arboreal shimmer of that sultry sensuality is in this volary today.
How we both, lounging by the Seine, waxed drunkenly lyrical

on Fragonard’s frantic dog, the two complicit putti,and in spite of all the painting’s mirth and joy, how that cuckolded husband in crepuscular shadows watches the coming of the end of things.

Two exotic love-birds tilt and sway, eyes half closed, the bright mica of their beaks blinking in the tree. Toddler scatters seeds by handfuls, wings fly down in a candy-coloured carefree chittering. We swore we’d never part.

19

Anticiper La Danse

In this the last
and final room
the lookers
knockouts candy
coloured glitter
twins slinky
twins unruffled
in satin flounce
dressed to the nines
velvetine skin
so scin-
tillating so cap-
tivating
waiting in La Casa
Glamourine
for the lush
strings
of La Diaboline
and only then
to make their
entrance
delectable divas

impatient to be admired in monu- mental mirrors gorgeous in ironic poses à La Discothèque en fin de journée.
20

Feathered Affection

You cat-lick wick my
hydrangeas meadow sweet cerise
a thousand sensitive spines
pin prick slick lichen lanugo.
I am yours
whisper in the aftermath
of forbidden tenderness.
My sister is mine to keep
this Saturday and the next,
a Promethea moth visits us
under your breath, her wings
ablaze with stolen flame
from far away Cascadian sunsets.
When you stay the night
I hold you close with feline warmth
lick your lanugo covered body,
indumented stem,
and your blooming flower.

21

The sun and the moon

She says we are doppelgangers
I tell her it’s a play of light.
She is in pink,
I am in off white.
She says I can borrow her clothes
But mine are snug and tight.
She is fleeting, unattached
I have grown roots,
tethered to the rest.
I am disillusioned, whereas
she has an alchemical vision.
I chew on the bitter crumbs
of news dipped in
my morning tea.
She sips hers with
toasted canvas of art,
dripping poetry.
I hide my scars,
they are ugly, I was told,
she flaunts hers,
she marks them in gold.
I think it all ends in pain.
She does not give a thought
to that kind of loss or gain.
We never saw eye to eye,
never touched in the time gone by.
We wonder if we could end that soon.
Yet in our hearts we know,
the sun never kissed the moon.

22

Cocoon Sleep

A cocoon sleep,
Disturbed by the ruffling of feathers.
I can see through the listening ear.
See through the display of colours.
The tactile cloth held between fingertips and transferred, bypassing the ear.
Transferred from my thoughts to yours.
You shall know the colour and texture,
Caught before it falls from rainbow shawls.

A knowing, a look, the transferring of thoughts, bypassing the ear.
A silent message, painted in your eyes.
A symbiotic childhood dream.
While sleeping draws identical waking, opposites draw near.

A cocoon sleep,
Disturbed by the ruffling of feathers.
Opposites draw near,
Delivering a silent message; the human condition may be fatal, if not caught
before it falls from rainbow shawls.
A silent message painted in your eyes,
Bypassing the ear.

A cocoon sleep disturbed by cloth, felt between fingertips.
A symbiotic childhood dream.

23

to cleave

moving the ground with your feet
as you enter and exit
simultaneously
entwined on the threshold
of crossing between
the limits and extremities
the intersections of bodies
forward and back
ahead and behind
into the center of the sacred
dance circumferenced
by everywhere and nowhere
with intangible presence
in a coiled composite
of eternal transitioning

24

Dark Sister

A dream you'd had your whole life
but that was better than your whole life when
it didn't come true.

I have never known devotion in the colors of the sun
--like I give in kelvins all my own--
to everyone.

I have never gotten to wear petals in my hair
or the subalar crown.
Yet it has always been only me that never once
stood down.

25