She writes, she dreams,
In dark carnival scenes
Mad-toothed barkers, twisted mirrors,
Remorseless, deathless terrors
In suspended animation-
I shared in her damnation:
It’s all true, in sideways shards
Where truth leaves truth marred
Where mothers’ lips fuel hearses;
Where mothers’ tongues drip curses
And hunger puts its fist in baby-bellies
And the cold pulls warriors to felled knees,
And bruises, like tribal tattoos, shine
Flaunting hell in knuckle-designs
Barkers estimating height, and weight,
And every flaw, sin, or mistake
Stench and stale smothering
Tender skin succumbed to stings
Of ruthless consumption and defacement:
Run-down rides in broken-down basements.
And she writes with teeth still piercing skin,
Like goodness died, and carnies win,
And I need You to be You again-
The unchangeable God: the same
Yesterday, today, and always.
How many years I’ve carried this body,
And how long its carried me-
An intrinsic facet of my existence
And my identity.
How its struggled from the womb
Targeted while tender,
A bullseye-birthmark stained through systems-
And genes- and gender.
How long pain has walked in stride,
Fingers clasped in mine,
Wracked from earliest childhood,
Constant yet, through time,
Wrecked still, the crawling pain
Shudders my skin awake,
While the cold chill grasping
Does not alleviate my ache.
Bedfellows we’ve been
Thirty-eight years to strive-
One day we both shall die,
But after, only I will come alive!
More than a year, it takes
on a single hand
to count these nights.
The foundations shake,
and I’ve abandoned trying to make it right;
I only try to outlast the hours.
I can, but he has deadfall traps
constructed in his soul.
The bait entices, he devours,
snapping jowls and swallowed scraps,
until the trigger takes its toll.
I forget the Viking even exists.
He’s a stranger here, hard to know,
subdued by character and discipline
but when he took my wrist
and didn’t let go,
I realized he was here again.
His Achilles isn’t in his heel,
you’ll find it in his blood-soaked genes:
An heirloom-trap passed on in grief.
Still angry, I asked him how he feels.
“Good,” he replied, like being mean
brought some long-anticipated relief.
I know his decisions are his alone,
and generally he loves me too well,
but these nights leave me unsettled and concerned-
Is resentment hiding, ingrown,
waiting for the chance to swell?
He wouldn’t be the first good man I’ve turned.
Does loving me require the odd glass?
A little something to feel right-
a drink, an escape, an evening of bitter regret?
It’ll be months before the next trespass.
Tomorrow we’ll forget tonight,
But I can’t forget it yet.
And the days are kind.
But I feel them- blind
Which need saying?
You write from a different state,
And my love still smolders,
But no longer can these shoulders
Carry the heavy weight:
Admission to your spinning fête.
A carnival empire
Begging to be spared
From a survival-bent liar:
Unwitting victim and victimizer.
You stand as your own narrator
Proclaiming all you’ve accomplished
I’m a forced-accomplice
But what do you say to your Creator?
Do you say to the Lord
”Look at all I’ve done in Your name?”
We both know that refrain
Strikes the wrong chord,
And costs more than you can afford.
So why do you fill these days
Practicing it in rote?
A demanding gloat
Or an empty craze:
An entry-fee of praise.
I’m worried sick about you.
You’re old, and you’re ill,
And you’re unchanged still.
With all time put us both through,
You will not be subdued-
Thirty-eight years askew,
But I do care, and I will,
Because I love you still.
Fear is the beast that ever gnaws
A gaping, jagged throat
Churning and swallowing,
In salivating gloat
Over the next meal.
When the fog was lightly lifting,
And the sun came stretching through,
Like some ancient seed of hope
Breaking ground and blooming new,
The fresh life in my arms
Brought back forgotten days with you
I yearned to answer light with light,
To lift the mist atop your years
Returning kindness, even joy,
As the confident victor over fear
And in the silence of my words,
I reached to pull you near.
Three days past:
Remembrances of why we sever ties.
Three days past,
You sent the threats and lies
The creeping fog
Which has capsized us.
How can any sunrise break
Into the fog that takes you?
How long I’ve desired
Love watching me sleep,
Something to keep
When the mundane crimes
Hard breaths, and long,
I’ve sent out my sonar
My words echo so far
Reflecting off future stars
Coming back home
And I know hope, the answer
She’s a veiled street-dancer
And peddles for free
Wares redemptive to me,
But the music runs long,
A song I can’t remember
How to sing.