Building Up The Bones

I am ready to build my house, now
I have bones to to build my walls
Feathers to put a roof over my head
Stories to lay as my foundations.
My windows will be made of eyes
So that when I look out of my house, I will see souls
The fences around my house will be made with words I’ve wasted arguing
The doors, with keys
That do not belong to locks.

In the garden no flowers will grow
Instead I’ll plant unsent love letters,
Missing pages from unknown journals,
Unpublished first drafts culled from drawers.
Notes passed between schoolchildren will grow like weeds between the rows.
I’ll build a trellis of salt and dragon’s teeth
Where myths will snake like grapevines,
Wild and unpruned.
Lost and drunk on the fruits of their leaves,
I’ll wake in the morning lying in a fountain
Of ink.

Inside, treble clefs and concertos will paper the walls
I’ll build my stairs of boleros
My chairs of cellos
My floors of jazz and waltzes.
The lights will flicker constantly
Powered by lovers’ quarrels
Against a scratch of vinyl
Extinguished as they fall into bed
And the saxophone breathes its last.

konrads-2 konrads-3

Image: Cornelia Konrads installation Passage. Photo credit to the artist. 

Crystallized: A Poem

Blue lips
Cold bird
Half-buried in snow.

Don’t tell me
You’re gone.

White boughs
Heavy
Limbs
That ache, tired.

When you fell
In
On the twenty-first of December
I knew
Then.

Summer is here now
But you are still
Crystallized.

Don’t tell me –
I know.
Where you’ve gone.

Dormantic-gohmn

Image: “Dormantic” by Gohmn on ello.co

Carnations (Water): A Poem For Mother’s Day

I

Water seeps from between your fingernails
Gushes from between your legs
Drips from the corners of your eyes
When you open your mouth there is water
When you open your eyes you are water

Carnations bloom from your fingers
Lilacs sprout from your hair
Daisies adorn your ankles
Lilies bursts from your breasts
Crowning your hips, yout thighs, your navel

Water the color of roses seeps from between your legs
Tasting of cherries
Smelling of chocolate
Water the color of lilies seeps from your nipples
Tasting of honey
Smelling of apricots

Man never left the garden of Eden
She has been with him
All along

II

To all the mothers who have forgotten:
You are life incarnate
You are flowers in motion
Your waters are the tides of civilization

To all the mothers who have forgotten:
The scale does not weigh the size of your body
It weighs the worlds you have birthed
Your breasts are heavy because they breathed life into humans
Your thighs are thick because you carried not one but two or three or many lives between them

To all the mothers who have forgotten:
The numbers curling around your waist are no greater than the secrets you have kept for your families
The shames you have endured for the crime of being a woman
The others you have comforted, carried, or shouldered in their moments of weakness

Remember:
You are gardens
You are flowers
You are the Tigris, the Nile, and the Euphrates
You are life.

 

malgorzata-chodakowska-primavera-ii

Malgorzata Chodakowska, Primavera II

Skeleton: A Poem

Dan Beckenmeyer CardioToday was the first day I felt your bones
And not your breath.
Today was the first day I ran my fingers over your clavicle
And not your skin.
Today was the first day I lay against your rib cage
And not your chest, taut and rich with youth and fear,
Today I felt the hardness of your jaw
Not the warmth of your tongue, not the richness of your lips, not the redness of your mouth.
Today I wrapped my hands around stark jutting knuckles
Not sweaty palms, not sweet grasping fingers
So eagerly seeking my own. .
Today as I slept my feet wrestled with bare bright shins
The kind of whiteness that blinds
Colder than January snows.
Today was the first day I listened not to the beating of your heart
But to the echoes of wind through your ribs, to words you never said,
To echoes of words.
Today I lay with the skeleton of what might have been
Dry and brittle, gaping eyes, wide smile
The dream of you
Crumbling into dust
At my feet.

Dan Beckenmeyer Cardio 2

Images are photographs of a mixed-media work by illustrator Dan Beckemeyer. Pen and ink with stitching and hand-felting on abaca paper. 

Mirrors: A Poem

“Forget him” was the most useless advice anyone ever gave me.
“Forget about him,” my friends said. “You deserve better, anyway.”
Forget him. The thought had occurred to me one night years before, but it meant nothing to my hoofbeat heart, stampeding in my chest, meant nothing to my butterfly eyes, wings beating open every five minutes as I slept.
Forget him.
My mother said the same thing on the phone the first time I broke up with a boyfriend in college.
“Forget him,” she said. “If he doesn’t recognize how special you are, he’s not worth your time.”
I didn’t understand.

I wonder where anyone ever got the idea that we are anything but mirrors.
Polaroids that capture wavelengths of spirit
After all, I’d have never seen a rainbow if not for clouds crying, cracking rays of sunlight into technicolor halos in the sky.
I’d never have seen the moon
Without the sun’s reflection to crown her every night.

(I am your ocean
You are my moon.
In the undulations of my body
You crystallize and bloom.)

Forget him? 
We are all refractions of each other
Prisms triangulated for a multitude of color
“Forget him” means nothing to my autumnal palms
“Forget him” means nothing to my bellows lungs
“Forget him” means nothing to the billowing sea,
When told
To forget
Her moon.

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Artist: Jim Hughes, Installation Series: “Give More Than You Take”

Saltwater and Ink: A Poem

Opalescent moon, senescent sky
A fog at dusk that speaks to me in tongues
Like the prophets of old
My phantom dreams, papier-mache and origami, so fragile,
Milk-white, and pale
Are laid at the altar
As I clutch this knife
With your name on my lips.

This love isn’t pretty but it is real
(Real like the paint peeling off your front porch
Real like the first scent of smoke on autumn’s breath)
Drenched in it, saltwater and ink
(Your sweat, and mine)
You will lick me clean, and I, penitent
Will baptize you.

John Atkinson Grimshaw

“Lovers in a Wood”, oil on card, John Atkinson Grimshaw

This Is How To Love Her: A Poem

This is how to love her:
Tell her about that summer you spent every night staring at the stars.
Ask her which is her favorite constellation–
Orion, Gemini, Scorpio?
Listen.

This is how to love her:
Play her the CD you listened to for two months straight when you were seventeen.
She might laugh at you, but that won’t matter.
She’ll want to play you hers.
Let her. You can laugh at her, too.

This is how to love her.
Take her to the movies.
Not the AMC or Galaxy in the suburban complex next to Chipotle and Panera.
Not the newest superhero flick, not the summer blockbuster.
Take her to that cash-only theater with a hole in the sign and a neon tube that hasn’t worked in years.
You know the one I’m talking about.
Maybe you’ve never heard of any of the features, but that won’t matter.

This is how to love her:
Teach her to shoot pool, throw a frisbee, shoot a gun, surf.
Don’t laugh at her.
No, seriously.
Play tennis with her.
Let her win.
Or maybe she’s better than you. That’s okay, too.

This is how to love her:
Take her to an art museum.
Stay for hours.
Tell her which piece is your favorite.
She’ll want to know why–the real reason.
Tell her.

This is how to love her:
Take her to a bookstore.
It can be a strange one–used books, art books, comic books, science books–in fact, the stranger the better, maybe.
Browse. Get lost. Lose track of her in a different room and let her float away for the moment. Get comfortable with that.
Find a book of poetry.
Buy it.
(Who cares who wrote it? That won’t matter.)
Spend the afternoon reading poems to each other.

This is how to love her:
Name every place in the world you want to see with her.
Every city, every ocean, every river, every desert.

This is how to love her:
Argue.
Shout.
Cry.
Fight.
Don’t worry, these things will happen whether you try or not.

This is how to love her:
Kiss her cheek.
Kiss her eyelids.
Kiss her collarbones.
Kiss her palms.
Kiss the scars that dot her body, the stitches holding her together.
Let her do the same for you
Let her map you.

This is how to love her:
Take her to a park.
Bring your camera.
Take pictures.
You can sneak a few of her.
Hand it over to her; she’ll do the same for you.

This is how to love her:
Be honest.
If you don’t love her anymore, tell her.

This is how to love her:
Let her love you.

This is how to love her:
Don’t be afraid.
And if you are,
Tell her.

Gaylord Ho - We TwoSculpture: Gaylord Ho, “We Two.”

The Grand Canyon: A Poem

The Colorado River carves through two countries,
Seven states,
And half the history of the world.
They say it took seventeen million years
(What patience, what strength!)
To carve a line so deep you cannot see the bottom.
To think that you and I
Achieved the same feat
In a single day
(Our strength
Is of a different kind;
Our patience–
The kind that burns).
The gap between your shoulder, here against the pillow,
And my cheekbone, there
Looms dark and dense, a mile down at least,
So wide in places I cannot see the other side.
Unfathomable, this chasm that spans perhaps six inches
Of rumpled sheets, breath of cigarettes and whiskey,
Words dying on the vine.
I dare not plumb these depths.
This canyon I’ll leave for the geologists
And you on the other side.

Sleeping couple

 

Jarke Puczel Lovers

First image: Egon Schiele “Schlafendes Paar” (Sleeping Couple). Second Image: Jarke Puczel “Lovers”. First image chosen by me; second image chosen by Elena Makansi. 

 

Devotional: Fear

I am afraid
of so many things
I cannot count them all.
like failure, for instance
there are uncountably many ways to fail
and I am afraid of all of them.
or sadness
and its harsher twin, weakness.
I fear them both.
yes, darkness too
there’s a reason I don’t go out to howl
at the moon.
I am afraid of being alone
but I console myself: isn’t everyone?
I am afraid to be poor
and more afraid to be rich
because what would I do with all that money
except be unhappy?
(I am even
Afraid
Of myself
Most of the time.
What do I do with the empty spaces
Rattling around my brain?) 

"muro8.b" by Hyuro, street artistAlyssa Monks - Oil on Linen

mantra:

“The person who has not, in a moment of firm resolve, accepted — yes, even rejoiced in — what has struck him with terror — he has never taken possession of the full, ineffable power of our existence.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

First image: muro8.b by Hyuro, street artist. Second image: Alyssa Monk, oil on linen.

Blind Like Water: A Poem

IMG_2006

Tonight, I will sleep in the garden
Buried under rocks and sand
A man will come with a rake every now and then
To carve lines into my body
And he will say
“The flowers are sweet today.”

At night when the lights are quiet
The moon like a sea shell washed ashore by a tide of stars
I will creep out, blossoming, coaxed by succulent breezes and
You.

Your hair coarse like sand and skin softened by years of salt and nibbling fish
Your hands made of black ink from the octopus
Your sea-glass eyes, blind like water
Where I see myself and you see
Nothing.

In the gunmetal morning, with fog for breath and city walls for hands
You will bury me again
Under the rocks and sand
And the man will come back with his rake and wonder
At the new lines
And he will say
“The flowers are sweet today.”