Andromeda

I dreamed you

came to me

asking to tattoo the night sky

on my body

starting small, you

cut into me

and marked the constellations

across my skin

Pegasus on my pinkie

Cassiopeia on my collarbone

Lyra on my lip

Hydra on my heart

After that, you

Swept across me

Mapped the nebulae until

I was full

With no space left, you

cleared away your inks and left me

unfinished and incomplete –

a partial galaxy

Nightmare

Vocalion 4306 B LabelNightmare, by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W59FzOwYIs)

The sound is smoky and
close. The trudge comes:
a march through honey.

I can feel my rusty heart
align itself to the heavy
thunderous pulse, as

the scorched pitch of the
trumpets wheeze out their
melodies with dry throats.

From nowhere, a narrow
squealing clarinet pours up
and down the stave, like oil.

Your kind of jazz beats me
over the head and shoves its
fingers into my open throat.

Relic

winter-trees-1393803.jpg

I am found,
just by chance,
in the clammy, whitewashed hours
of morning: laid
upon the earth.

My sunken heart
is rolled around
behind the quick-closed door of death:
a silent bell in
a baby’s rattle.

Soon after, I am
lifted into a box,
which is stuffed like a fat goose
with offered elegies,
and then sealed.

Sodden and limp,
the smell of me gone off,
the lamplights of my eyes put out:
all my body,
dun and done.

Language

th21-630-istock-language-dictionary-learn-book-630w

My mouth is a treasure chest
a pit of language

my tongue stirs this cauldron

sounds swell
and drop out of my mouth

like heavy stones

each a swollen fruit
of differing flavours

too rich to swallow

puce
plump
pearl

colossal marbles clacking
against my palette

I savour all

sunk in the noise of it
and too drunk on sound

to climb out

Closure

 

the-light-shines-through-1232162.jpg

For just a minute
let me pretend
you aren’t there
and that the sounds
I can hear
are the sounds
of trees
softly brushing
against the sky
of rain
softly sousing
the earth
and not your
beautiful hands
softly closing
the door
between us.

 

Plums

plum-1690494_1280

When we were kids we’d sometimes
sneak out into the plum orchard
and steal our parents’ wine to drink.

In the dead of night, like jailbirds hidden
beneath the trees, we picked at branches
and planned for foreign days ahead.

It’s funny now to think we never seemed to
eat a plum in time, being always so
bitter, or sick and wet with ferment and rot.

Each season brought a purple harvest;
the sweetly cankerous smell
hanging low above the slack, damp ground.

Even now I sometimes remember
us, and how the whispers of
anxious leaves would rustle up the dawn.

Though we don’t know each other now –
and isn’t that always the way? –
I remember when we weighed our futures

and how for us, the dark, rank fruits
burst their vernix jackets, and spilled
violet ink beneath a chasmal sky.

 

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