Cosmopolitan

a billion microscopic particles of light bouncing
simultaneously off my skin and that of my doppelgänger
end up finally cascading through my retina.
the enemy is at the door.
it is dressed as that natural ally of the sort of men
who read people like they read books
that they will put away on a shelf forty pages in
: featureless and anodyne it watches me
as i go through my ritual ekdysis
and am for a while naked.
it lifts eyebrows at the state i’m in
girl, your arms are way too thin
and your shoulders so slumped,
stand up straight!
and now i see my little ribs
carve their way down into charybdis
and then rip the whole thing outwards and upwards
revealing themselves as treacherous scylla.
i try to intervene in this never-ending war
but my heart has the final say
and i am defeated by her and her army –
who surely cannot be enough to protect her
looking as short as they do, and half-limp too.
there on the collarbone is a nice line
quite defined on which my greatest crime
sits beckoning. it is a circus up here
but they welcome me as one of them
until my gaze falls to see brazil get consumed
by a tribe of amazonian women
who have no need of men –
or have forgotten why we keep them around.
from behind their ranks a siren
screams in protest and causes an uprising
that reaches all the way to my thighs
from whence i see my feet –
immovable as they are –
find their footing in the same grotesque way
as the eagle grips its prey.
then I breathe it all in from my hip bones
to my chin and watch me
surrender under the onslaught of
a billion microscopic particles of light.

On This Occasion

This is my heart on a stained-glass platter. Please do not break it. I cannot afford a new one. It is torn and the glass is cracked, but it’s all I have. Take it, it is a gift.

These are my eyes in a ceramic pot. Please do not shake it. It makes me dizzy. They are cloudy and the one eye is black, but it’s all I have. Hold it, it is a gift.

These are my lips on a bed of velvet roses. Please water them often. I have spent a long time cutting off the thorns. They are small and rough around the edges, but it’s all I have. Nurture it, it is a gift.

These are my hands in a porcelain cup. Please do not drop it. I inherited it from my mother. They are weathered and the rim is chipped, but it’s all I have. Cherish it, it is a gift.

This is my spine on a black-and-white canvas. Please don’t neglect it. I have spent years trying to fix it. It is skew and the paint is peeling, but it’s all I have.

Keep it, it is a gift.

Rules of (re)(dis)engagement II

Where do you draw the line, they say.
This is where I draw the line.
You don’t call,
    so I don’t call.
You don’t text,
    so I don’t text.
You never looked me in the eye
so why should my coffee be stained
by the storm that is always brewing in yours?
You crossed the line
    when every interaction became a reaction
    a filthy spade
    carrying the bones of our shared past.
The sluggish dismemberment of nearly a decade
    clings to your violent silence,
    uncanny and brutally beautiful.
In the shared sorrow of losing something old –
set adrift aeons apart
as though it were not one thing
but two –
blossoms a red space for something or somewhere new.
Articulated more fully by carefully curated spikes of rage
    boxes of polaroid patriarchy delineate the passage
    from snow white to the darkest tundra
    a revenge march rent asunder.
And as the great beast spreads her wings to draw
    that final breath before casting off
    a graceful arc from thesis to synthesis
    to savage antithesis and back again
the uncomfortable ease of quietude grips us
    and we sink ever more deeply
    into the ebb and flow of this jagged and broken age.

Rules of (re)(dis)engagement I

I have to constantly remind myself that I am not
the sum of our interactions;
remember the time we argued about the importance of “you” and “me”,
and how you called me a radical individualist
the invasive words glided out of your larynx
and got themselves tangled up in mine,
dripping aloe vera with a hint of pepper.

I never liked the way you seasoned
your food or your words or your age.
How forceful the bite of your blind malice,
calmly, facetiously, graciously:
“I didn’t know you wrote so well,”
the devil is in the detail and his throne sits on your brow.

The softest words often carry the heaviest sentence;
“I love you, please stay.”
That’s not mine. “I’ll pay.”
Our “we” turned blue when I realized that the thing you loved
more than me was the way you had made me love you.
The rise and fall of your shoulders caught in a hiccup
no longer signifies the natural rhythm you and I belong to,
but the hackneyed tune we have been repeating for far too long.

I can’t let you leave before having my say,
but the words have drowned in my gullet
and I need an ambulance and a good chef to stitch them back together,
so that with a little help they might tumble clumsily into your lap.
All that just to deliver a small message, unintelligible and rather bland:
It’s not your fault.

Inbound narrative

I could tell you how I have become the worst
possible version of myself in less than a year.

I could tell you how my skin lies fallow,
raw from consecutive summers and the blizzards
that punctuate them.

I could tell you how many nights are etched into my pen,
drunk on the half-life of white roses and champagne
while you snore beside me.

I could tell you how my heart has become
tired of this cold current home-grown.

I could tell how much time I’ve wasted
trying to get this car to start before I realised it was
out of fuel: much more than Jon Snow wasted on the wall.

I could even tell you about the spiders on the base of my neck
when you rage in/past/through.

I could tell you about the scars that litter
my paper-folded crow’s feet, hidden expertly
behind sunglasses and a patchwork irony of habit.

I could show you the raw inversion of flesh upon flesh,
a bloody lactation of piecemeal promises
staining the sheets I bought in your wake.

I could tell you that I still remember your number after all this time
and that sometimes I confuse it with mine.

But I won’t. You don’t deserve that.

Quantum Mirror

Climb the summer sun party bus
let me tell you about the time
I drew a line in the sky
;          with pure intention
tore through tartarus, purgatory,
glimpsed the elysian fields
 .       bright crystal starlight
in pure unadulterated context
grazed the moondust of the weaver
and wore the cloak of persistence
on the sandsnake’s back
 /       sacrosanct           anathema           vagrant
a fugitive in a land of outcasts

let me tell you about the one
who tied the sun to her feet and jumped
:          such great passion
burned onto the soles of Chronos
!          electric           erratic           titanic
ran all the way to the end and saw only more
{      of the same haphazard composition
burned it all down and burned herself with it
and fell through to tartarus to play the underdog

let me tell you about a dream
where the seam of the sun came undone
and the red-hot ice of the blacksmith
#          tumbled starfall
@%&*      eclectic           vivid           neon
from nowhere in particular
,,,      to nowhere really at all
and the ash-green eyes of the maker
gazed at it and smiled
  )      and gazed on

fall the autumn wind party train
let me tell you about a memory
in which the moon hums a tune
§        and I whisper a melody
the blind black blue mistress carries the bass
singing a song lost to everything but us
and the leaves brushed the remnants of the footpath
  ˜    and the moon hummed his melody
and I whispered my song

Planetary migration

Where were you when the planets were falling
when the sands were shaking
when the oceans set on fire
when the trees were speaking in tongues
when the gods were praying to some higher power
deliver us from this fury

Where were you when the stars were drowning
when the mountains were walking
across the seven continents
to join the winds in their ritual of bones
and call the moon to witness their holy union
blessed are our forefathers

Where were you when the rivers were melting
when the deserts turned to stone
when I stood at the tip of Sagittarius A*
to shout your name into Andromeda
and call on the sun to follow you home
save her from myself

Where were you when the forests were freezing
when the tornadoes were dancing
and met the hurricanes on the beaches at dawn
to celebrate the festival of the Erinyes
and call on me to act as amanuensis
liberate us from this mania

where were you?

Another unfinished lustpoem

I open my eyes and there he is
like a fever dream gone nuclear
the razor sharpness in his eyes
tear the words from the back of my throat
to my lips where they dangle
incomplete like this space between us
there is a million tiny miles
I’m not sure I will ever get there
with these letters covering the curve
of my most attractive feature
then like any good hallucination he
morphs into a city of lights
and the thoughts that are stuck
in between my teeth like the fleshy part of a mango
turn saline and crystallise in place
I smile almost as bright as he does
when he draws the last bit of energy from
my heart is bigger than my hands
where I see his resting cradling
my words so they do not slip from my grasp
and end up on his tongue.

Lullabye

Roads.png

These days I feel like everything I do
is an act of remembrance, a conscious
decision to greet everyone who
might think I owe them an apology.
Like Beth, who wanted a favour, and
thinks we’re now even. No, Beth,
now you owe me one too.
Please, don’t cry at my funeral.
It’s a tough act to keep it all together
when you’ve got it all figured out
but not in the way you’re supposed to.
My five-year plan is to reduce CO2 emissions
drastically by reducing my oxygen intake
and maybe also the use of my car.
My two-year plan is to grow a tree,
preferably one with thorns.
There is no way to say sorry
that will accurately convey my deep sympathy
for our loss. I can only say that if
it could have gone some other way
I’m sure it would have. But at least there’s this:
these days I tend to forget the bad memories
and care less about the bad people.
I’ll take only the good with me.