Keer

Buk,
liewe kind,
die sweepslag staan jou te wagte,
sjamboksalf vir die verontrusde jeug in jou.

Byt vas,
elke bloubloed aar op jou wang sing ‘n hooglied
aan die allerhoogste in jou.

Kyk op,
kleine liefde,
meer mag het jou siel nog nooit ervaar nie,
woedend en verwoestend slyp dit jou brandwonde rou.

Hou moed,
‘n leë aardskrag het die oorhand oor jou,
vir nou.

La petite mort

midnight –
and the wolves won’t stop howling
and you aren’t here –
but your scent traces the windowpane
resisting the onslaught of another southeaster
you stay –
and i can’t help but breathe you in
lungs languishing in loving revolt
against the invasion of oxygen in the midst of this souvenir
you left behind –
while i lie here breathing you in
heart folding gently around some small token of sin
symbolizing the movement from sand to castle
you built –
but the foundation’s worn thin
and the crow is drawing near

View from Erebus

            for Zach

there’s no need to fill a silence that’s already full
    you are completely unexpected
shades trace the ruins of a once-vivid psyche
    blinded by every small hurt
yet there you are     unafraid
    an intimation of phosphorescence
    impossibly true
it’s okay not to know what to say
    except that you do
my recollection of this timeline is protean
    characterised by loss of character
somehow you’re the only thing
    i manage to hold on to

it takes hours to collect the debris
    of a melancholy mind
nothing is not the absence of feeling
but the utter negation of emotional capacity
    in a single soft motion
you tempered the fury
Nyx had left behind
and the clock keeps ticking
and I’m still here
    unfolding
and you’re still here
    silently holding

Seasonal Love

In the tumult of the past weeks I have completely forgotten about this little scrap of information: Poetry Potion published my entry for their a-poem-a-day challenge on 3 March. It marks the first time my poetry has appeared anywhere other than this site. Below is Seasonal Love as it appeared on Poetry Potion.

Seasonal Love
Would it be alright if I kissed you
on your perfectly asymmetrical lips?
Turn around and let me risk you;
hold my breath with your fingertips.

Would it be alright if I missed you
and the curve between your spine and your hips?
Raise your head don’t let me forget you;
I’m not quite ready to abandon ship.

Is it alright if I can’t resist you
when you turn your voice just like this?
Hold my bones don’t let me regret you;
I have too much to lose, but not my grip.

The Terrible Beauty of Freedom

Nobody tells you how terrifying it is to leave a psychiatric clinic. They tell you how much good it will do to go there, how comfortable and safe it is in there, how intensive the treatment you receive will be there. Making the decision to go is terrifying, because you finally have admit to yourself what you’ve been trying to avoid: you need help. But not a single person tells you that coming out of there will be almost as difficult as going in.

It took me three months to get to the point where I admitted this was something I had to do. During that time shit got rough, and increasingly so. I didn’t want to deal with any of it anymore. The clinic was so safe and sheltered. Physically and mentally you’re being cared for by a team of people who learn your name within a day. I hated having to go to classes with names like Life Skills and Coping Skills, but I was given very little choice. I hated it even more when I had to admit that those activities and everything else in the clinic had a positive impact on my well-being, that I had gained something valuable from them even if I couldn’t put a name to it.

Clinic wristband

Then I slowly came to the realisation that when I left that place I had to go back to everything I had left behind, everything that brought me there in the first place. Outside the clinic, nothing had changed, and I knew this very well. So what would be different this time? The answer, which dawned on me some time after the dilemma presented itself, is that I am the only variable in this situation. Well, me and my medication, which is an internal mechanism and therefore I guess still me. I had to make it work, because the world out there was still just as fucked as it was when I left it. The knowledge that you are going back into a place that drove you to your lowest, most extreme point, that brought out the worst of you, and that above all is inevitable and inescapable, is unnerving to the point of petrification. I almost decided to stay in the clinic.

My first outing was simple. On the way home we stopped at a grocery store to buy veggies for dinner. My heart was beating a million times per minute. I didn’t see the products on the shelves. Everything looked the same. I trembled when I had to pay. For the next few days I hid away and saw very few people. Only on the 5th day did I manage to go out in public again. I made it quick because I was still shaking when I had to interact with people. It wasn’t just that I was afraid of them, although I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t and am not, but also that I was afraid of what they would and wouldn’t ask me. I didn’t know what my answers would be. I still don’t.

Spending time in a psychiatric clinic has had one unexpected upside: I now know who the people are that really, truly care, and I am surprised at how many there are. In some cases I was even surprised by who did and did not show up. Being out here is terrifying. These people keep me in the game, not because they want something from me, but because they want me, simply put. As scary and as painful as this life is, they make it worth it, and without them I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m slowly finding ways to make it work, and leaving behind what doesn’t.

This Tree

this tree, it shakes under me
the flames at its roots feed on my feet
his crackling weakens my knees
and my grip is feeble

this tree, its branches tackle me
the sun in its leaves sets me free
it has a hold on me (how did he?)
and I am conquered

this tree, it envelops me
sends me into rapturous hyperbole
wipes clean my book of debris
and writes only me
                and he

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.

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.