- Vol. 09
- Chapter 06
As my mother before me and her mother before her
I emerge in red waters
Drinking my mother’s tears
As she holds me.
And in her lovely embrace, I realize
I am her exact reflection
Born in an endless cycle.
As my mother before me and her mother before her
I am bearing my mother’s features
Her voice, her hands
And her traumas of an endless war.
Pain that has never been told
How can I feel it within me without ever knowing it?
As my mother before me and her mother before her
I am birthed, into cycles
Carrying my ancestors within myself.
As my mother before me and her mother before her
I am born from air
And everything on Earth feels familiar
Listening to the ones who died
And whose voices still resonate within me
Carrying their legacy as I become my own
Belonging deeply to myself
Content Warning: Contains references to sexual assault and violence.
there’s blood in the bathroom
where a stray bullet hit
a gun pokes the windscreen
soldier man needs a lift
sis dons her red mini
showing off those great pins
soldier man says bend down
show your arse for your sin
sis touches her toes
can never more raise her neck
no matter, this is revolution
time for revolutionary sex
market mammy’s too slow
hiding wares from plain sight
soldier man shouts, expensive
military punishment tonight
mammy’s stripped naked until she’s all bare
curves out in the full glory and the whole market stares
soldier man cries, open your legs
then close as we cheer
it is shining, it is shining, it is shining over here.
Read more >
I feel like I've already fallen from God's grace.
Sometimes, out of the blue, I think 'I'd love to pray again', but I can't bring myself to do it.
Yesterday, I found myself saying 'I wish I had never left home, never found a way out'. Being in a bubble is so comforting, it gives a sense of peace that I'm missing.
Ignorance is a blessing.
We spend our entire lives rediscovering ourselves. Sometimes, when I look at myself I can't recognise it, but there in the eyes, something is still glowing, an unfinished story, an unfound dream.
We are revolutions.
It’s not just in what we protest for. It's in what we feel, our spontaneity in letting it out, our ability and flexibility to allow God or the universe or energy to flow through us. In our attention to details, not just out of curiosity, which is our basic instinct, but also out of love, unidentified, unlabelled, indescribable. In the dark we tend to only see our shackles but in reality they're nothing in the face of our desire for change.
Our fevers and passions are nightmares to some, they claim but secretly they enjoy them. We remind them of how it is to be human, vulnerable.
When we are what we are, we unknowingly start the flood of change. We practise being us through writing, drawing, singing in the shower, dancing in the rain, buying flowers for strangers.
The first step is to embrace our fears.Read more >
Do not deny it—
the sun has left a scar
where there once
was wretched sameness,
soft & warm. No story
to tell. No burn.
I see the skin stretched thin
across your ribs, raw
with ache & alchemy.
You thrust your body
in ignorance of art
rusted with age, bloodied
by trial & error.
Let go the lies
through your limbs—
you do not need them.
You are enough.
That rippled radiance
within you wouldn’t
have stirred awake
I prefer the under you,
underwater, under stress,
ill – defined curves,
wobbly outlines, body of red,
flowing liquid of human form,
shape – shifting, outpouring of blood –
red grief in water. You shimmer,
you draw me in to imperfection,
to chance. Above is a mirror,
a gloss upon truth. Underneath,
you are mythical creature,
mermaidman, embodiment of freedom.
Look! You are twisting out of silver wires,
breaking free from chains,
ripples give you texture, movement.
No concentric rings to encircle
a champion statue, an emblem;
no victory stance. Here you move
in your own way, Calypso of the sea,
you cast aside five circles, blessings.
It is time to move your own way.
That bullet was for me. The empty
hall, fatal voyage,
the destroyer of republics. Know
this, we rise from your tears, not
emerge from rust,
grow roses from your corpses.
Knee deep in the cold mud
of idol induced trauma, we have
dodged swings of swords from kings;
swallowed fire, embers, ash;
rang the bells three times
for lethal transubstantiation.
It’s raining blades now, blood
lays a scarlet veil over the eyes. We
see the crows are coming, you better
be ready for judgement day.
Blue sky notwithstanding:
The plate slips from the hand without warning, tumbling across to the other basin of the twin-tub sink, sending droplets of washing-up liquid in all directions, and promptly breaking into seven pieces of varying sizes and shapes; reluctant fingers arrested in mid air, restless but still, bearing all the unwanted guilt, and slow-motioning an invidious decision yet to be made. (O, why is the ground so earthy brown?)
“I dream about being
a bright-red personage
the five Olympic rings...”
The breaking of a plate: a marriage dissolved or dissolving; a kingdom split or splitting; a portent of the conundrum that remains: shards of history, bits of clay, questioning the whence and the wherefores, the inexplicable accusation behind an unnameable shame. (Bright red, O bright red – the sin is scarlet!) When nothing could be said, there’s nothing else to say. Talk of mending seems fanciful: how is it to be done, and where’s the space for imagining ― for love... for hope... for faith...?
“I dream about being
a bright-red personage
the five Olympic rings...
my feet are still trapped
by the other three remaining...”
With an open heart I stand ready
With an open heart I see myself in the wind
I see a reflection that blares red
A song of life
A song of blood
A reminder that we are entangled
We are in a webwork
Created by us all
Yet the magic remains
As I fling forth circles of light
With an open heart I dance
The sun bright upon this heart of mine
The hearts of all beings
So afraid, so brave
We step upon a red soaked land
We step into a life never imagined
Yet the magic remains
Untangled now we join
With open hearts
We face unspeakable terror
Broken landscapes will not break our love
Love for the broken lives
Love for those who stagger blind
Who push violence as strategy
We know that we live
With open hearts
Dad stepped away from the edge of the water. The relief of finding water cut away by its putrid colour. I lingered with my hope. I stared into the murky red of it hoping to see life stirring below. But all I saw was the metastasis of pink foam at the edges. A signal to move on and look for relief elsewhere.
Dad still believed. He believed there was something more. He always left behind a trace. A token. Something to tell the earth that we are willing to make sacrifices for its saviour. We were ready to redeem the sins of the generations before us. We were different. We were on its side.
Only once have we ever come across another survivor. It was after the rains had dried up, and there was a massive pool of water that had formed. Attracted by the possibility of fresh water we trekked towards it. But then we were stopped in our tracks. There stood blistering red before the sun, like an ornament offering itself up to some gods, another survivor. They stood perfectly still arching upwards with something gleaming in their hands. It seemed as though they were willing the sky to lift them away from here. We stayed hidden. It was best to keep moving and acknowledge there were others, he warned. I was scared, having never seen another survivor before.
Later Dad told me there were believers everywhere. Those who believed in the ablutionary possibilities of tragedy. He made sure to say that the tragedy of our times was not one any prayer or offering could secure relief from. He made me repeat it aloud to him. There is no cure for this tragedy. Repeat it. There is no cure for this tragedy.Read more >
the earth is red
like that time
the plane touched down
on Cuban soil
and we felt the warmth
trapped in layers
the earth is red
like that time
on Mount Olympus
so many years ago
Citius - Altius - Fortiu
and on that mountain
with red dust on
their hands and
sat the gods
on their wins
amid toxic gingerbread
I scribe with a believing hand
of Mars’s fiery rings
a billion years ago,
his moons have tilted orbits
causing specks before my eyes
like a swam of flies in honey
they float on Martian tides
stained a rich vermilion
from the roots of ancient wars,
taste the rosebud full on my lips
a surviving record of memory
it is a god for something.
You won't find this place on a map.
This river is a song that runs through me.
Father sits by the water and hums.
There are children, and one day my own children might come.
I tell my mother, 'I will stay here'.
She says, 'good, you'll leave when you want to leave,
not when they tell you to'.
'Mother, would you sing me a song
about a river unseen?'
Oh her stitched on sequin smile
when all those hoops are spinning –
school run – and lipstick – and getting into work –
and what's for dinner – and hairdresser – and
dentist – and dogfood – and new trainers –
jaunty on the tightrope of her life –
and oh the crash when her fingers slip
when she glances for too long at a passer-by –
when the train is late or the traffic queued –
and all those hoops go tumbling
rolling away down streets and lanes
so that she's chasing everything
reaching out just missing fingers closing
onto empty space.
When she was pregnant, the enemy's airplanes flew overhead sounding like wasps venting their frustration, and sirens pierced the air in a menacing hymn becoming mourning matter for the future.
This was the habitat in which the baby waited for its release, its freedom into the world, its place in a hotbed of future stories looming over its life narrated in ominous tones.
Mother sat and breathed deeply caressing her belly. She took shelter in a shed of flaky cement on which walls were inscriptions of eternal love and eternal hatred.
She fought hard to stay calm for the baby's sake. They would flee together. She would abandon Father and flee from this place she adored but didn't adore her back. A place that morphed her into a volcano, a dead mountain into which her ability to feel gradually burned exhuming fumes of flames. Dark matter. Mourning matter.
The war could be her excuse to leave.
When the baby was born Mother wasn't what she used to be. Mother had forgotten about her plan, her emotions slowly culled. The sirens had stopped but Father went on. She digested things recommended to her and they became her personal war. She exploded sometimes, releasing dark matter, mourning matter. And the baby, growing up, learned to understand the circumstances that made it want to run away, divert and disrupt, being born inside a volcano.
Blood has drained into the river
and seeped up through the soil and shingle
It has soaked through the earth
then drained into the water.
The goddess Olympia, defender of the downtrodden,
embodies their pain.
Her strength is maimed, distorted.
She struggles to break from bonds of the past and the present
Fighting the constraints of her own powers of prediction.
She reaches for the future, grasping for hope,
The magician is God
Creator of everything
Of magical dust
We too must trust
To dance at the lake
To perform beyond the
Cameras quick take
To see the silver rings smile
Dancing for awhile
In red to wed the days array,
To click the clang of tap,
Tap, tap olympics medal
Stretches muscle proud.
the red team arrived first. a full five minutes before the first of the opposition. all teams assigned. all colors taken. the red jerseys took to the court with an energy that rivaled the heat of the afternoon sky. blazing. hot. streaks. a small family of crows scattered. along with a stray cat. striped. everyone ready.looking.eager for (a) game. daily specials chalked & tallied.
three for a dollar & a game of hoops.
1: 100% beef hot dog (boiled) & orange crush
2: soft pretzel (salted) & diet peach tea
3: red swedish fish (fresh) & pink lemonade
ready. set. throw.
the hoop on the right lacked a net. the hoop on the left simply lacked. all systems hacked. all participants tracked. each a reflection of each other & the red clay court. boiled. salted. fresh.
the whistle blew. a small piece of plastic on a long red cord. all shades clashed. a man with an oversized middle & an undersized sense of lung capacity exhaled. leaves scatted. a baby wailed. the shrill sound prompted blackbirds in a nearby oak to flee.
most souls regained composure & regrouped within minutes. all creatures of habit. & happenstance. behaviors more a reflection of past practice than pretense.
by the second quarter all comrades had returned & adopted characteristic spaces. amidst traces & tracks a critical mass of charades & camaraderie crafted community.
Her ribs strain against taut skin
Hip bones jut like porcelain under silk
Rosebud lips pressed closed
Tongue clamped in teeth like a hunter’s trap.
A face masked with crimson veil
Rust, sand, rubble, blood?
She is stained, bound,
Feared, yet desperately afraid.
The water reflects the image
Of the sins they painted on her flesh
And offers no promises, except
A baptism, or the end.
A tear, a scarlet drop, a bud ready to blossom
Touched thy holy grace – O Vitasta!
Configurations and arrangements came alive
Ripples seen far and wide.
Mother, thou art of my blood
Swaying, swinging, singing fast
Drowsy at once I grow, forgoing ties of past
Curled as the fetus was.
On the shore, they call my name
I’m not that one anymore
Looked around found another
Barely alive, swimming along
Eyes shut, we sink in your embrace
i wear my heritage proudly
in my eyes, fresh raked
farm, brown soil. my blood
is a river into which
my ancestors dip
dahlia flowers as a parting gift―
i stand spine arched
& tongue metalled.
stances, eyes glinting . i press
riddles my grandmothers before me
asked to my back & colour the world
outrageous red. proud stances,
metal spines, my
blood a river not just mine.
my blood a river not just
mine; dahlia flowers―
pink petals unfurling,
tongues rolling. i imagine
my grandmothers before me
as strong women, their pink tongues
sharp-edged, eyes glinting. i stand
and my memories of you
like the rippled reflections of orange-red
in a koi pond,
the inviting mystery,
the plunging depth of color.
I thought you took your stories with you
when departing this world,
but then reels of film kept appearing,
a night-time movie in my dreams,
a daily ritual of time travel,
when days and years flooded brain cells,
an excavation of family history,
like the paintings of your Uncle Jules
that I had never seen,
but somehow knew in my veins,
the texture of oils on canvas.
I am the hoop dancer at the water’s edge,
a flash of spinning red.
I am yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I am the imprint of your life well-lived,
now singing through my DNA,
the spark of life in your grandsons.
Even blinded by the cloth of earthly existence,
I still see you.
I can see for centuries.
I can see you there
cloaked in red
on the promontory of
I can see you there,
waiting, while I have
nothing to offer,
across this length of time
within this volume of space and stars,
but the beam of a million points of light
upon the ether.
I can see you there,
in the light of a brazen electronic screen.
The dark cannot crowd out
the artful stark relief of your features
as we meet on the new promontory
cloaked in knowledge shared,
where promises will be kept
and spirits unbroken.
Have you said goodbye to the plague, which drained you to the point of death?
What are you waiting for?
It makes you speechless
or you don't have words to describe it?
Crawling from your nose and choking your throat, flowing into your veins and making you bloodstained numb!!
The world had changed yet stayed the same, a curved mirror image.
The pandemic stole your freedom!!
And every day I am waiting for the certainty;
test after test of humanity.
Left or right, stripe or stripes will switch?
waiting or fooling our brain?
Have you said goodbye to the plague?
Like reflection we are looking in the mirror, it's always there.
embraced by warm light
enclosed by a rhythmic stillness
reflected in the spaces between
sky clay water
we can’t see where we are going
invisible threads complete us
blue waves cloudwander our thoughts
we are led by the circles
not the lines
the future always becomes now
no matter which language we speak
all translations follow the same heartbeat
underneath the skin
...like that planet some call after a god, but names
are just names – essence slips through fingers.
When I look out at night, I just feel my blood loose
and close, pulled magnetically up. Even now,
the sky blue, it is out there: everything there is
and ever has been. Maybe we are too afraid to accept
that – the finality, wonder and gift of it slowly dying.
We have a great view.
I turn to bloody muscle and nothing more, gummy
and awash with salt, or to a haze of electrons
and howling dogs. I tried keeping these circles going
around my waist. I never had the skill, couldn't do limbo
either, was only good for books and saving ladybugs
and spiders from being crushed. Funny how
in the water, the circles break, or rather, fall
In dreams, I go back in time and into the future
all at once, find people and we talk, and it is coy
and soft-bellied and old, and sometimes I am
told someone has died, and what does that mean?
I wish I were somewhere I could see the stars,
preferably over water. I think I remember that place.
I’m not sure who I was, there. If I was awake.
If it matters.
I may not look
like I belong
but my song is my potion
I am a walking heartbeat
drifting in the wind
I am bondage
the waters around
my feet have adapted
and are red orange
but there is no pity
for anyone who
weeps in shades of blue
If Narcissus had been bolder
he might just have climbed a cliff
and dived into the water below
not passed so much of his time staring
at his own beauty in a small pool
If Narcissus had been bolder
he may have sheathed himself in red
and plunged to the waves below
no care for hidden rocks
which might bloody his image
If Narcissus had been reflective
he might have realised that
the face that gazed at him
had no substance
perfection an illusion
I was born of red sierra clay.
Of chilis and hibiscus flowers,
dried and pressed to extract savory juice.
I was born of Lake Texcoco’s womb,
poured out like blood, wearing the same
scarlet vestments as the setting sun, the harvest moon.
Born of heritage maize kernels,
radiant like Mars, full of potential stalks reaching towards
white clouds, blue skies: my body a five-petaled flor,
holding circular portals to ancestral wisdom.
Born proud—chest puffed out, yollotl leading the way:
my inner hummingbird sipping immortal nectar.
I come from flying arrowheads
made of red tecpatl stones, slicing into ignorance
like cacti roots into desert soils.
Born of the red threads of curanderas,
Mami’s pomegranate rebozo,
of the crimson agave roots that shoot into the Earth
like snakes weaving pathways into ancestral treasures.
Born of red pozole, ceremonial fires,
the red tail feathers of hawks circling over canyons at dusk.
Watch as she dazzles the world, juggling the silver hoops of success, love, motherhood. It is a feat to keep just one aloft, but she spins all three with a showgirl's smile. She grins, apologetic, when her alarm interrupts a meeting. 'Pump time,' she says, and the office laughs with her. They cannot argue with her sky-high KPIs, her willingness to overtime.
But at home, her son won't take the nipple, won't stop screaming, reaches for his exhausted father who takes him with a sigh. Dinner, then, will be her responsibility for the night, but with her mind on the baby, the clients, the weight of it all, she burns the salmon. A treat, in a household on a single salary, which she has now ruined.
And those shining hoops she has kept spinning day by day, fall in a pile around her feet. Her last magic trick of the night: she bends to lift one, only to find it linked to those around it, a chain. One loop is locked around her ankle. Though she pulls and pulls, she cannot find the other end.
That it is always a circus.
That there are plates spinning
and occasionally one falls.
That climbing through all the hoops
takes patience you may not possess.
That sometimes plumed horses
turn wild and buck and kick,
but they remain beautiful.
That some days the best you can do
is put one foot in front of the other
and not look down.
That there are always clowns and hecklers.
That the drama may be in the fingertip catch
but the real skill is knowing when to let go.
That spandex and sequins and make-up
can help disguise tears.
That balance is everything.
That contorting your body into the smallest space
can be difficult and painful
but beats getting cut in half.
That when the knives are flying you need to keep still.
That there will always be blood and sawdust.
In contort streams and fields the guttered coat-tails drip and dream,
Young were forgiven, their darkened edges left to scheme.
Questions moved to action others, on Sundays were their thrall,
But question none that enters minds when pulled asunder in the haul.
Words do make a vicious spike on which they fall.
Greater still, it moved me and their sin,
No frightened boy was found to stay inside and lest to grin,
Or longer last in cheap disguise and hide within.
Now narrowed eyes strained my face,
Gulp down that endless dreamt up place,
The desert you were born to never did quite leave,
Dunes held out what your heart would thieve.
Sculpted breaths and fettered in your tongue’s protests,
No wizened caution drifted by as bursting shadows taunt the sky,
Your guest suppressed was frightened with a dead man’s words,
“If it were I”, mocks like herds,
Your candied shell of thoughts ablaze within the dust of that dreamt up place.
this is where the road rises
at a border between living and dying
a wash of crimson light the celebratory rush
of spun shapes held to the sun
On a bridge, a landscape
in the red-tilting, a tiled town of mourning
in lakes of reflection
"All that I searched for
I cannot sleep now how could I sleep without music"
And it was said,
"As my eyes closed my heart, listening
to blood surging around this world
of sun and words and loss"
A hope chest
flung open while shrinking under
the weight of medals
Metal blood’s taste dawn’s sleek
fields of bombs land mines
the menace that bleeds
into cups of water
down sinks down drains
With the last of my strength
I crawl, snake-like
Into the rays of the sun
I rise, I prance, I dance
I gather solar power
And into the day I advance
To cause mischief and mayhem
When you’re at your keyboard
I buzz around your ear
Distracted, you press send
Before you’ve time to think
When you’re in the supermarket
Scanning as you go
I sneak things into your trolley
And make sure you are checked
When you’re driving stop start
You see me on your shoulder
You turn, I’ve gone
You turn back, too late
You’ve hit the car in front
I still turn milk sour
And make hens cease to lay
As I have for centuries, yet
Sometimes, I just knock
On your door, and run away
Clad and masked
in saviour red,
sauntering down from the cross
you nailed yourself to,
Haloing yourself in hoops
they'll jump through
just to be near you.
Behold your golden - child crown!
You've done it all!
High - five a stigmata palm
to those that stoop (rightly - so)
in your shadows.
And as you near the water's edge,
The ripples roar a glitter of applause,
Walk? Ha! You'll run!
Fastest runner in your school!
But then with a fleeting glance,
to guide your footing,
upon the glassy paths
meant to bring you victory
You see the smears
of narky neurosis
across nature's mirrors.
You jump feet first,
On a good day
I feel the rush of crimson,
and my mind are strong.
But spinning hoops
and the mirror,
too bloody honest.
But reflection gets distorted
stirred with clay foundation
then the mirror
But without the buts,
on a good day, I’ll return
and I’ll look past the mirror,
feel the blush,
face the blue,
The red man comes when you’re walking
down the cereal aisle on a Tuesday morning
wondering whether you have any porridge
or when a football flies into the top corner
and hotdogs and beers are lifted like trophies.
The red man comes when Barbara Streisand sings.
The red man comes when you see
a fluorescent running vest in a charity shop
or when a boat is strangled to shore
or when freckles grow on your son’s cheeks
or a guitar enters the room or a pen breaks
or a Labrador runs or you hear the word Scotland.
The red man comes.
He comes with no face, just a canvas
to pin on any eyes you remember.
did you think to burden me
with all those hoops you threw
saying jump through these
juggle them if you dare
well here I am
blood red and unbowed
Zeus I do not fear you
I await your thunderbolts
raise my arms in triumph
like those champions of Heracles
proudly show the triumph of my labours
I shaped them to my will
I rise to meet the sun
strike me if you wish
you cannot miss me
hoops … what hoops?
these are my playthings
see how I hold them
I’d rather be my watery
double a little out of focus
the red and the blue a little
less primary and shocking
the hoops that anchor
my performance daily
would shimmer a bit you’d
have to look harder to catch
them you’d have to look
harder to catch me if I were
my wavering watery double
keep us centred
on the one
with smallish hips.
One who knows that
momentum keeps our
They resist invasion
with flick and thrust,
flick and thrust
of small hips, and
our centre of gravity
falls over the
centre of their body,
and the weight is
their pelvis from
to their thighbone,
their knee, and their foot.
And all awhile
they hold us aloft –
rings of hope
Lamine says it’s raining time
It’ll rain any day now
The skies are overcast but the drops don’t fall
Last year there were only three big rains
Lac Rose is not satisfied
Her pink waters lap low on the shore
After the first big rain the farmers ready their fields
After the second, Lamine will plant tomatoes
And after the third, peanuts
Lamine says in past generations the lake was fresh
Teaming with fish (today there are few)
The estuary was open to the sea
But the heavy winds came
Pushing with them the desert sands of Mauritania
South and further south
The dunes filled the estuary
And now, only a tiny trickle of water enters the lake
Evaporated by the Senegalese sun
The lake became saltier
The fish died
The algae thrived
And turned the green waters an unnatural hue
The fishermen became salt miners
Coated in shea butter, they wade into the water thick as oil
Scooping sharp crystals into wooden boats
The women in bold patterns borrowed from the Dutch
Carry buckets from the shore to be bagged
Read more >
Lost in the margins of reflection,
you were not born to be an Olympian, nor
to cloud-surf, your mouth a perfect ‘O’
as you dove into space, eyes as wide
as astronomers. Magnified
hope is extendable and fractious, like a lens
that’s found the sun and changed
it to a thousand burning visions.
One shows an accountant spidering
lines in forests, waiting for the rasp
of flies, their web a Venn diagram, smooth
as the rings of Saturn. But you?
You’re just a satellite in a blood-red pool,
an image of clouds burnt on your retina –
a thousand water droplets, rising, waving.
Choices glint in the streaky, clouded light,
inviting your performance.
Candy floss sticks to your lips,
manure and straw to your feet,
while skin tight promises of fame and fortune
give the illusion of a star ready to explode.
As you flex, limber and leap
the audience are enrapt,
they have seen you fly.
in the madness of the fertile lands,
a red blossom and its red leaves―
and from its seed, red caterpillars
bending into Red admirals, strong
in wing and shape, a rugged Vanessa
do not mistaken fractures in the sea
for weakness of the heart, soul sickness―
she knows the beauty of self and water
from her place on the shore of power,
a current: she flips into the air, sails
within the wind, reflects on strength
and courage. Sometimes a butterfly
becomes human and changes the world
black nail varnish
is all underneath
under hot red
to toetip an unnatural
red to wear
like bones like skin
performer show off
cling ching how
high how fast
in chemical red
Resilience rose defiant on the crumbling stones.
The sun rose then fell into water where blood soaked
soil was washing its stains.
Circles of deception washed ashore, social circles gave
of their opinion, while broken wheels spin
spilling rescued treasure onto forgotten streets.
Bicycles drop their dead.
Mother paints on a pout while I hold a candle,
– can't get without – can't have without.
Grandmother carries the radio like a toothache
for silence is as deadly as the mud.
Red curl and gold
Tango, silken, across my back.
A thread comes loose from my stocking
I feel it snap against my skin and tear free
Screaming, it escapes on the wind.
I flit and curve, as in a vine light with flower
Creeping finite across cobblestone wall
Sincere in dandelion sunshine.
Silver catches in the corner of my eye
I stretch into biting air and
Vitalize with breath.
the first time she saw red
she was a slow dancer
in a ravaged land
they called her visionary
and named her after their dreams
the second time she saw red
they slandered her a firebrand
who just happened to be caught
in a twisted arabesque
on the ruddy clay
the last time she saw red
her lacerated reflection
was strangled by a tangled rope
she wielded hoops on tiptoe then
tumbled gratefully into the abyss
the light that day was magnificent
Hello, I am an empire builder,
and I am here to help you.
I know you didn’t invite me,
but let’s not be formal.
I come from a rich heritage of
melanin-based racial superiority,
but for God’s sake, literally,
let’s just call it evangelization.
Yes, I know you might be aware
of your abundant natural resources,
but you don’t yet know how to
pillage and rape the planet.
That’s a clear sign that you’re uncivilized.
The idea is for me to use your labor
to plunder your riches. So I win,
and oh dear! I win again.
I’m a decent sort, so we’ll just round
my finder’s fee to ninety percent.
In the name of God, gold, and glory,
I can’t take any more of
what I pretend is rightfully mine,
but let’s not quibble, OK?
Of course, everything and everyone
on your land are at my disposal.
I operate in stealth, and cover my bases
leaving no footprints or fingerprints.
Read more >
Your balance must be impeccable
To focus on so many spinning things
Throwing them about with little care
– I wonder if you've practiced. You must have.
You stand on the cliff-side
Arched to the unyielding clouds
There is no applause
But there is an audience in the water
The cartwheeling waves swooping and soaring
– I wonder if you care. You must.
So here comes the wobble
The plate hurtling towards the ground
But you can catch anything
Because you're a juggler
– I wonder. Aren't you?
so the legend goes: the river was d(r)ying and to bring back life to warring lands
a pact was made in the crevices of grief: they would perform the bhairav pyākhan
but those few that had departed long ago from bhaktapur had forgotten their steps
so, after whispering into the twilight, it was settled: someone else must suffice
born far away from the old home, an anomaly, seto karābir would visit the east bank
every night until the next blood moon and dance alone for five and a half hours
seto karābir gave it a day’s thought and agreed, upon a singular condition: silence
and without any question, the masses of dhākā topis and chaubandi cholis watched
how, instead of exorcising the land of the bhoot, pisāch, and rākshas of the past
seto karābir become the majipā lākhey that cavorted late until the charcoal night
impersonating the child-eating beast to appease that old prophesy, and soon
in yanlā, misnamed september by some, the moon came but nothing changed
except for the waters that coagulated and reminded them of buffalo blood cake
they painted their faces in marooned fear and washed their hands till the dawn
in the river rushing to meet the bay of bengal, while the stoic orb self-immolated Read more >
it’s time we talked about the blood
on the outside of our bodies, a product of
hat/red, once clean hands, rising with
our Empress, cycles on edge though
perfectly balanced until we, with her,
seve/red, leaving the other animals
(no longer interested in our suffering);
ripped from nature, the revolution
murde/red, our trees rooted in dank water,
darkened rings ai/red under an afea/red sky,
quiet, quiet, our life now hangs by a
You are taut with blood,
stretching east and west,
red-limbed on the sand.
I can see your rib cage,
make out your hip bones,
sense the ripple in your
thighs. I know your age
from the tree rings
dying in your grip.
When you bleed out,
a new world order
will stain the shore,
cast red shadows.
Above, the sky burns
blue, sneezes clouds
enough to vaporise
tears and rain down
a pack of lies.
you need the bell of another body to ring
your fat tongues of fire.
whatever wet red dream is still lodged in
your gazeless stare.
you need matches. you need propane,
gutting the house of your neighbor,
punching it blue, looting it white. what
others ways to release your nervous
tenderness, your tinnitus, your tetanus:
the women and the children first.
you need to demonstrate the little big,
the big little, and every window smashed.
your daddy marched. his daddy marched.
you need good songs, red choirs.
somewhere, someone is making a movie
about this – there will be poppies
and plaids, wheat-blond, and a balalaika.
every body suffering on your watch.
when the world ends, every child will
inhale solvents on a rooftop –
it will be grand, it will be brotherhood.
my gift to you is the word: no.
Faster, higher, stronger
Mortal gods, we revel in your light
Obstacles we overcome
Wars we fight, but why?
Created in our own image, wretched creatures one and all
Doomed to replay the play again, again, again
Olympic in nature, we are strong we will rise
Falling falling falling
I stir the cereal around and watch the milk turn pink. I try not to let the spoon scrape the bottom of the bowl. You’re looking at me again.
“I didn’t like it.”
“I know you didn’t.”
“Don’t do it again.”
“I said I won’t.”
You throw back your tomato juice to wash down your antihistamine. You’re still looking at me so I know it’s not over.
“Maybe we can try something else.”
“We don’t need to try anything else. I told you I don’t mind.”
“I want to try something else.”
My loops are growing soggy. The washing machine has started its spin cycle. I try to block it out.
“Let’s try, yeah?”
“Okay. If you’re sure.”
You finish your drink and look away. The door clacks behind you.
I close my eyes and listen to the plates clattering on the wall.
blue, red, white
celestial rings silver
in the air
the body a flame
cool gaseous cerulean skies
atoms forming and dissipating
earth umbers and carmine crust
emerging from liquified air
rings like Saturn’s belts
magician tools sift
wavering on the surface
of celestial tears
Look all around.
This is no Mickey Mouse Club.
This is the underbelly
of happy animated morality.
We are stained,
by what's easily-consumed.
Behind the confident smiles,
lies misinformation—and blood.
There will always be blood.
We are easily read, inside and out.
Reaching through steel hoops
meant to entangle
understanding and resistance.
The red earth, a sponge,
absorbs only so much misery.
Misunderstanding erodes footing,
stirs river red. Unfiltered, it flows.
We drink it back in
like strawberry Kool-Aid.
No difficult questions asked,
return to regularly-scheduled broadcast.
arrives at his own lake in the Gobi desert,
to lodge his solitary protest before the camera
with a selfie.
It is a pure lake
within the dead infernal
ancient lava-flow of the land.
And shortly after it is taken,
Five Ukrainian children will appear from nowhere,
joining him in a joyful game
of hula hoops.
It is magnificence that stands
where cirrus battles cumulus,
or strafing trails with copter whirls,
and hovercraft like spider drones.
To hold the ring against the sky,
from down below in circle found
the soles of bridge, arch, rainbow, heal,
though water stopped, call sirens heard.
Red ochre, iron oxide belt
embankment, Mount Olympus, pride,
with terracotta by the gleam,
unsplash, save for the ripple scene.
We’ve seen and heard the artists' faces
in prints and strings, both plaintive, bold,
and hold their treasure close at heart,
the art of phoenix from the drained.
These elements, earth, water, air,
fire stature now defiant here;
there’s no doubt page transparency,
where even Saatchi played a part.
This is the site for underground,
beneath the surface of the land,
as if meniscus thrown, and bound
to skim, be skin, fresh skein about.
I don't mean to get political,
but I'm the guy who holds the rings of servitude—
each silver circle represents a country—
those that are free,
and those who are held captive
I juggle them for the world—
to be balanced and spun
as if on a high wire act,
not for entertainment—
but for security
If one ring should slip from my grasp,
a dark and ominous cloud appears
over free and independent nations—
rings are connected, blend into the other—
a global structure that signifies trust
And when one is lost,
our world's security is in jeopardy—
wars replace peace,
greed and unbridled power
is the cost
That's why I have to remain strong,
make sure these rings are tightly held,
and keep this global community alive—
for my talent is in my versatility,
my nimble verbal dexterity,
and dedication to global unity.
Everybody seems to assume that I am but a reflection
of the five-hooped Olympian man on the copper shore
but I am here to plead my difficult yet streaming case
for you see the red-suited body raising solid circles
is actually an un-reflection of an original being that is
me: I am an aquatic entity with powers of projection
and I have projected my vermillion version of things
to a spot on the bank where I can appear statuesque
and be a beacon for the unity of all red-blood cells everywhere.
The cloudless sky and the mid-morning sun deliver warmth after the previous night when winds rattled the girl's balcony shutters, mistaking them for gunshots.
The girl echoes her mother's instructions:
There will be four men sitting behind a rock that will look like a colossal tortoise from your boat. Go to them. And deliver this bowl of fruit.
She steps into the boat and holds the bowl, pressing its sides like an accordion. Clouds reappear, the sky turns grey as if to warn her danger is near, and a slight breeze helps her reach the island urging her to paddle faster.
Men dressed in a green she can't name. Their hard hats are like the fruit bowls in grandmother's kitchen. Thin strips of paper snake between sanguinellos, prickly pears, and pomegranate. Her grade six teacher said she reads very well, but the girl can't decipher the hieroglyphics. Her sandals sink into the sand when she stops to replay the moment her grade six teacher was taken away by men dressed in a strange green she can't name.
One man winks. The other has a bushy moustache. Her eyes land on one man's cheeks covered in moon-like craters. The last man keeps his head down, sliding his boots inward, creating miniature sand dunes. The girl thrusts the bowl in their direction. Water crashing against her father's fishing boat breaks the silence. The man with the bushy moustache gives her chewing gum. Her hand closes like a clam but remembering her mother's words, her clammy hand tips the gum that parachutes and lands in a crab's burrow.Read more >
I wonder what she’s trying to prove,
the statue, athlete, red, her perfect symmetry.
Like the tiger, she burns bright.
I wonder why they put her there,
looking out to sea, poised like Nijinsky,
juggling with her Olympic hoops.
Who is she gesturing at across the sunset
water, where ordinary folk like me come
to watch the tide come in?
With her hoops and her unitard, red
as blood, I can almost hear her shout,
but I don’t understand the words.
It’s only when the sun goes down, and
the rays slant across the water, slipping
through the hoops, pinning her to the sky,
and the gulls circle in a mocking wreath
about her head, and the tide rises and slops
around her points, that I understand—
the posturing is clutching at past glories,
a blind Arno Breker gathering only
indifference, points, poise, irrelevant.
Such immensity of water can never be conquered,
no matter how much red she spills, how high she holds
her banners. The crowds have all gone home.
carry the croquette without the hands for
it, everyday dinner
the cat eats stinky two day old fish and
full from the whiff of a half-open vessel, white chicken skin that glistens beneath
the washcloth and
breaks out a wrinkle, the distinct burner
smell before it conks out soon, a
breaks upon the tranquil, the
clutches of adequate domesticity, enough-
enough as we would think last before
sleep swallowed the dark, but for
crashing down to
I and cat looking at each other across
the ceiling, the floor, the
broken expanse of
in-between engulfing our silent
stinky fish, skin blown out in edible fashion,
the timely burning out of a burner,
and we think, we remember, we
lived long, so long
Crumble, verb, to fall apart when pressed
become a biscuit base,
a fudge of uncertainty,
feeding stomached butterflies
and sometimes sharks
who rise, tart and acid
when it is time to test and judge
melted moments, the disappointments
life handed on a plate,
forgetting that the chance to lick the bowl
clean, is the best bit,
spun sugar for the soul,
and anything else
is just the icing on the cake.
My skittish soul is made of dramatic red acetate.
Try a little harder gravity, if you don’t want me to fly.
Staying put is something you never contemplate,
when your soul is made of dramatic red acetate.
The ground from up in the air always fascinates.
Every moment of the land reflects you as you pass by.
My skittish soul is made of dramatic red acetate.
Try a little harder gravity, if you don’t want me to fly.
No end or beginning,
and pray for
God’s mark of creation,
even the smallest atom,
restore our place
in the hoop of life,
Dance the circle.
Sponsorship in the Olympic Games reached a new turning point in ingenuity this week when McVitie’s were given the all-clear, for an undisclosed fee, to put their name to the latest event permitted by the IOC, namely the clumsily titled ‘Juggling the Five Olympic Rings whilst Posing on a Giant Floating Ginger Biscuit’ whilst zipped into a rather fetching luminous red onesie. It has raised even more eyebrows than the notorious event in the 1900 Games in Paris in which contestants had to shoot as many pigeons as possible in the allocated time (the winner killed 21 birds). The winner of the new event will be he or she or they who devises the most original rearrangement of the Olympic rings before sinking into the enormous dunked biscuit.
“If the spirit of the Olympic movement is to thrive and prosper, it is vital that we reflect the zeitgeist of the evolving times in which we all participate,” said Lord Coe, outgoing president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
At the cliff edge she dances alone
but her water spirit ripples out her name—
Lithica, Queen of the Bloodstone.
Clouds commune as she circles,
her hips locked, feet planted, a crimson ortholith,
an angel risen up from the earth's core.
We listen as her heart flatlines,
we watch her arc above our world and she waits,
for this is the long part of dying.
Her taut skin redolent of war,
she is the fresh meat of flesh glistening,
the human pared back to animal.
Her cry is the keening of every mother
who has lost a child, the earthy iron of the unborn,
each little life extinguished.
Who will lay down on the Bloodstone?
Who shall we sacrifice to appease the ancients?
Will it be me, or will it be you?
Our fate is the algal bloom of the toxic river.
Our fate is the rock face weathered by acid rain.
Our fate is the red earth leached of all she has given.
Lithica, Queen of the Bloodstone, is her name.
Like a body is sand dunes
That undulates into
Turning round and round
Till the dust flows blood red
Into the adjoining dry lake
As if the figure is vapor
Sprouting out from itself
Into saplings of wounds
And the trouble with wisdom is
It never comes too soon
But like a tried and tested routine
Takes its time to settle in
Like a face staring down
Soon gets scalded and burnt
The diversions of deliverance
Have pleasures as tortuous
As a loaded gun
Pointing back at you
In tandem with the hindsight
Of a blood ransom
Creeping slowly back into
The wealth of images
None of which can be segued
Into a seamless transition
Except by letting go of
Both the apparent and the apparition.
Red clay rising, arms, legs, head
sculpted from the wet muddy mass;
never a lad gifted with a hula hoop
I dreamt of tossing one, two, three
four, five of them skyward all at once
catching them in limbs supple, body
crimson clad, form uncompromising.
Back arched, toes tip the embankment
gossamer mist coalesces in clouds
that traverses skyways azure blue
as I peer through my scarlet spandex
breathing deeply, guided by voices,
feeling alpha ninja, beta cirque du soleil
steeping through round bands, I thrust my
chest forward like a rooster strutting
across a barnyard, seeking adulation.
My crowd-pleasing performance elicits
oohs, aahs & awestruck approval, gasping
when I criss-crossing rings, clutching five
sacred loops aware of their trajectory as it
reflects on the river & mirrors precise actions,
wavering only when wind gusts distort
my glassy acrobatics in series ripples.
I reflect. That's what you can do when you're above the water. And if you look down you see yourself as you really are, as others see you. I twirl, pirouette and spin, deftly handling and managing all of the rings, keeping them spinning, supporting, thinking that I can cope. I hold the rings because all revolves around me.
I could manage everything much better when I was younger. It isn't easy now. My father always told me that anything worth doing isn't easy. So I remember that and accept all that is before me, no complaining. What would be the point anyway?
Nobody would listen or wish to hear. They have their own rings to manage. So many things to think about, so many people to please, so many to keep happy.
I stand on the very edge of terra firma. If I make mistakes I will fall. Maybe there will be others to push me over. And when that happens I shall struggle, trying to return to land, but not knowing how, floundering as I drown, being submerged beneath the waters.
And now my arms tire. I stretch to keep all in place and the stretching becomes demanding, laborious. My arms begin to drop, my shoulders ache with effort and I know that soon I won't be able to continue as I have. The ground begins to shift beneath me, things change, I drop one of the rings and it falls into the water. For a while it floats but then, ever so slowly, it starts to sink. I try to reach out to it, to bring it back towards me, to grasp it again but it is disappearing, the waters lapping over it, pushing it down, out of sight, away from me and my grasp.Read more >
For a moment, shimmering in reality, captured bright and bold and almost real, the understudy of the proud performer, distorted beyond reality, captured by a cruel lens, longing for escape, for release, the ability to take off and fly, sink back into anonymity, uniformity – but stuck, forced to become the imperfect twin, unimportant. Unnoticed.
on the brink
of all life’s blood.
from skin, sinew, bone.
tall, straight, proud,
The dose makes the poison
The dose makes the poison
The dose makes the poison
The dose makes the poison
Guatemala was going through the “dark times,” the violent years between the 1950s and 1980s, when the military ruled the country. People lived in constant fear for their lives. Unidentified vehicles with unknown masked passengers kidnapped males off the streets, while the police patrol nearby looked the other way. Bodies pulled out from the Motagua River daily, riddled with bullets, some blindfolded and showed signs of unspeakable gruesome torture.
Courage is speaking out when the military government took away people’s basic rights, cancelled elections, destroyed homes and property, and killed more than 200,000 people — just to stay in power.
Courage is wanting the world to know about the violence of the military, political corruption, injustices against indigenous people, and the plight of the poor.
Courage is writing what others didn’t dare write over the course of the 36-year-long civil war.
— 342 journalists murdered, 126 illegally arrested, kidnapped and disappeared without a trace.
arms outstretched the figure red
reaching for the sky
reflected in water
rending the air
interlaced orbits, interwoven loops
uniting separate destinies
fusing individual fates
into a collective cycle
of shared history
of countries, kingdoms, continents
the blood red misery of human race
pain gives you a ballerina’s grace
while the world goes round and round
covering distance reaching nowhere
Bone beating skin
The Drummer of Life
Spins the wheel of time
From the thread of memory
Blood on fire
Belly blazing bright
Lips petals tight
Consumed by her desire
Bloom in carnation
The Dancer of Life
Spins the wheel of time
Wishing to rush the season
The full moon knows
The wailing of her womb
Days when the Weaver of Life
Burns burns burns
In rivers of crimson
Scarlet and vermilion.
It's funny that the skin is what's seen,
measured, quantified, tolerated
but not the lungs that breathe fire
from behind clenched teeth,
viced in the hot, flushed anger
of a cursed child. Or that heart,
that thump-step heart
stamping blood seals
on every spat syllable,
impossible to temper.
But the skin,
the skin never knows
why this is,
never meets a single molecule
nor lines up in semi-formal
The skin simply knows
that tears sometimes spill.
I'm not held by any prevailing circumstances,
I'm unruffled by my perplexities,
The world has no hold on me,
I'm freed from its tenacious grip,
I stand on a lofty height,
My mind eased from its weights,
My thoughts on a serene flow,
I can periscope through the gloom,
I bask in this unprecedented moment,
Hoping it'll last for an endless time,
Freedom is the meal I have longed for.
Rise – human Being of solid blood
out of wrecked cities – bombed remains
of refugee columns – the collapsed theatre
full of children – rise up red and clotted
tiptoeing over tripwires and mined bodies –
rise – raw Olympian
testament to mothers maimed –
children with cancer
driven by bombs
out of their hospitals
in time of pandemic –
eyes gleaming frightened
above their masks –
rise – with your wet reflection –
hot embodiment of Will and pain –
rise enraged – aghast – indomitable –
rise wet – livid – breathing
to the last corpuscle
of your Being –
On this blue sky day,
a flash of red, a crimson bird
flits from ring to ring –
a magician’s trick,
his assistant in a scarlet body suit,
turning the ocean pink.
Meanwhile, in another place,
innocent blood is spilled,
sticky and rusting into rubble
and frozen mud, shrouded
by freshly falling snow.
Conflict, as our reality
‘The outside world turned inwards’
like crimson as our river’s natural tint
like debilitating ache, as our everyday
like all our senses, overwhelmed
by deathly stillness
Tears, as our cover art of life
‘It is being hollowed. Scraped out.
As if saturated with a secret
that must only pour from eyes.’
Something, before ‘Aftermath’
where breath still equated, worth
Poet’s straining to encapsulate wordlessness
‘There is no syntax or simile
to do justice to this. No metaphor.’
So we break free, rub clean
that blank canvas and reach.
There’s more sincerity, in an ounce
of our mourning, than in a decade’s
ephemeral experience of happiness.
Loss, tragedy, death
all – a thread’s width of distance
from everlasting peace
yet anchored, to that thread of chaos
we call existence.
One more hoop to jump through
More red tape
Another day of misery
Another forced performance
In another dog and pony show
Missing those red letter days of my youth
Missing everything about myself
my internal motivation
I felt as a barefoot child running
Dancing out my demons
Dancing a death waltz
Dancing so mechanically
with none of the easy movement
with none of the pizzazz
with none of the passion
of my gloriously misspent youth
In awe of our differences
In awe of the night sky
In awe of my reflection
now so disapproving
now so haggard
now so aged
the years having crept up on me Read more >
I dreamt of a woman in red,
and when she spoke,
I heard her heart in my ears.
I heard her blood rushing
heavy rhythms of storms,
and she stood there
in all weather, as if victorious.
She, with no shadow,
and no angel’s trumpet,
followed me like
the wind’s direction.
She, a rusting
iron sign post, seeking direction.
Arms up, she’s a poet.
Arms down, an old woman
who’s looking for her voice.
Who is she to those who see her –
confusion, an obstacle, denial?
She called out names and places,
pointed left for freedom,
and left for conflict, called out to
those who left life behind.
There is but one road on a journey,
but the distance is always incorrect.
It's always longer than you think.
That’s what the woman in red said.
A river of blood runs
under the white, blue, and red
of the Russian flag
The dignity of the Olympic rings
is shattered by the human rights
abuses of its hosts
A lone human, blood red,
attempts to right all the wrongs
in the world
I sit here
write a poem
think about evils
This is not an ode
extolling the virtues
of our heroes
Instead it is
lamenting that I value
my comfort more than
what is right
Her headless reflection cut off,
sharply decapitated at the base
maybe even sinking to the watery depths
that once happily reflected hazed sepia
sunshine. Now muddied, with blood brown
glaze on the surface.
Defiant she stands on dry land
as soft water laps
like the slow incoming tide
on an estuary inlet.
And I imagine her crimson grimace
under expressionless scarlet clothed face –
Imprisoned by argent annulus
for all time in this place.
Taut, stretched tight on tiptoe,
trying to hold life's circles aloft, above
and around and behind my stringent body
throbbing with heartbeats stolen from
invaders' grasps, their unholy fingerprints.
Friends praise my poise, my strength,
enemies aim weapons for target practice.
I dare not glance down to bloodied waters
swirling fetid at my feet, over the lip of hell.
I must not see my body zither, my life quiver
from all I suffered then, by his hands, by all
I've suffer now revamped devils have returned,
emerged from nightmares into daylight.
I look to the sky, muscles tense, mind
disciplined: I will turn bloodied lakes to water,
clear enough for children, born in pain, to drink.
I’ve dressed for the part
red, the color of power
the color of war.
I’m ready to juggle the rings
life’s given me.
At the edge of the water,
I practice my balancing act,
feeling the strength in me
magnified by the still water’s
of my movements
Ripples, distort the rings
As I glance down to
check my skill.
My back arched, my power
intact, I am ready
to face all, all things.
I am dressed.
I am ready.
I will overcome.
Jumping through the hoops,
what is my name?
Why do I hoist my energy into
the air, performing
for an invisible audience?
What do I do when the audience
is of my own making?
These are the hoops of false flame,
escaping the truth.
Erasing the truth.
Embracing the need to be free,
no longer dancing
the music of expectation.
There in silence,
The blood flowed,
A memory of the night,
To see the flow,
Covering the floor,
A dance there, by the river,
Her sighs grew into screams,
A distant memory,
A silent rage,
Against the dying of her virginity,
This was the end,
Against a raging river,
Could we say fuck?
Read more >
Rise and be reborn
from the waters and slime
Rise from the depths
survive and grow
Face into the morning sun
new and sublime
Rise and rebirth
out of the old world
into the new
rising above it all
Rise and stand ringed
with resolutions of steel
revolutions of light
circles of energy
and be reborn
Dust and mud cover cold fingers,
That create a civilization of which all of us are victims.
The waters turn red,
From the blood of those trying to escape the bondage of chains,
But how can they fight themselves free,
When the other side of the swim means drowning?
I am here to speak to the ones that still have a soul:
They cannot seal the horizon,
We will all be what we’re destined.
I no longer tremble; I no longer fear.
I am no one, and I am everyone.
Together we swell the numbers of those bearing the burdens,
And they no longer crush us.
Out of the spirit of love,
We burn incense to clear away the hate,
And manage to escape it.
What now it’s red will turn into spring.
There will be flowers,
A landscape ennobled by the ones who hoped,
By those who ceaselessly believed.
Alluring. Enticing. Mesmerising. You were just astonishing in every way. Captivating any room each time you entered came so effortlessly to you – like breathing. It was in your DNA. You would flash that seductive smile of yours so naturally and there was always a glimmer of unpredictability in your eyes. Nobody ever quite knew what you would say or do next. Perhaps that was all part of your popularity. You exuded an irresistibility and fascinated even the most stoic. However, behind that glimmer there was something more, something the untrained eye would never be able to see. When you are subject to hundreds of spellbound gazes throughout your day it would be almost impossible to spot that one gaze which observed you with an all-consuming intensity and dedication. Mine.
Much like a global virus which goes about its rampage, picking off people without method or mercy, I too had no immunity when it came to you. Committed to memory was every curve of your figure, the graceful gait of your walk and the dulcet tones of your silky laughter which had me begging to be shrouded in. Wherever you went. I followed. Whatever you prepared. I ate. Whatever you bought me. I wore. Whatever you asked. I did. Whenever you wanted me. I came. Even when you were done with me. I stayed like a stubborn bloodied stain. Before I knew it, you had made me the centre of your world before systematically and deliberately, dismantling mine. My tears fuelled your happiness, my insecurities boosted your ego and my growing weakness only made you stronger. Of course, deep down, in the very core of my being, it was clear to me that these feeling didn’t stem from love or lust or even loathing…Read more >
"How many times can you hula-hoop, kid, how many times?"
"Maybe 100," I say, "if I try."
Hoop after hoop was hooked over my head, around my neck.
"Prove it, kid," they said. "100 times."
The weight was enormous. I bruised my hips but reached 100.
"200," they said, and I kept going, not knowing why.
For some reason they seemed to be retreating from me.
"300," they called. I struggled on, panting, hoop after hoop
falling to the floor. Puffs of sand flew into my eyes.
"When you drop the last one, you die," they said, through a mega-phone.
"What?" I yelled.
There was no answer and I could not turn to look.
I hula-hooped on into adulthood, until my skin was peeled
and bloody, until the lake at my feet was red and rusted.
Explosions went off periodically in the distance.
Hello? I tried to ask.
But my mouth was full of dust.
All I could do, at last, was choose to stop.
Hoops held aloft like dragon-wings, I faced the sun,
or a gunshot.
I can write right now onto this white page and make a mark and hope or expect even that I will not be tortured or killed for daring to show my own mind and the words happening inside it.
What is freedom? What is meant by this word?
How might it feel if I dared to dress up in red, the brightest, the most challenging and daring of all the colours and went out and danced at the edges of the world amongst beautiful landscapes whilst daring to look up at the uninhibited skies? What might it feel like to not expect to get killed by incoming bombs or missiles? What am I taking for granted?
Is it freedom to know that our fellow humans are being persecuted and we are powerless to help, or feel powerless or fear we may be punished if we even dare to show support in any way?
Statuesque hoop dancer
greets the sun.
Features obscured by
Is this a new form of
First Nations hoop dance?
disturb their reflection,
the human looks
like a sound wave echoing
away from the shore.
Is the red hoop dancer a
ballerina (or ballerino) on point?
The low light reflects off
the scarlet costume
and crimson earth.
The water vibrates with
Which is the true form,
on land or within water?
When the Queen, blood moon, rises
and her court of diamond stars shine
brightly from their black velvety palace,
they leave their boyfriends, husbands
and their children, sneak out from the
open windows and fly to the top of
the Lysaya Gora - the Bald Mountain.
Under-loved, underappreciated, they
gather in their thousands. Lighting
the fires of their dreams, they burn
herbs. They sing songs and dance in circles.
Naked. With hula-hoops and tambourines.
Channelling their inner goddesses.
Somewhat lost. Somewhat forgotten.
In the dark waters of the blood river,
they re-capture the true reflection of their beings.
Goddesses. Powerful. Fearless.
of all the ages, colours, shapes, and sizes.
Rejuvenated, they return at dawn,
to be once again
girlfriends, wives, and mothers.