poetry, prosetry

Now You Are 71

In the darkness I swayed, numb and unsteady in platform heels, outside the place where you used to live, looking up at the window where so many hours were spent smoking, people-watching, daydreaming, counting how many motorists weren’t wearing seatbelts.

The lights were off: there was no one home.
This statement can be applied
to the apartment and your brain
in your final days.

I tried the gate:

locked.

Wriggled a shaking hand into your old mailbox:

empty.

Looked for the label with your name

taped next to the buzzer for Flat 1:

gone.

With my heart in my throat
I turned and walked away
into the warmth of the pub next door
where so many friendships were made
where your laughter once roared
where memories were shared
of you, an extraordinary man,
and glasses were raised
to you, my darling Dad,
on what would have been
your 71st birthday.

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Uncategorized

Conversation with a bigot

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She’s got red-tights on and she’s got her nose in a book. It’s pretty a-typical.

The Bigot watches her drink her hot chocolate (with Almond milk, hold the whip cream, nix the vanilla) until she picked up her copy of SMITTEN this is what love looks like / poetry by women for women.

The Bigot made clucking sounds as he reads from the table over, the front cover of the poetry anthology written by 120 lesbian and bi poets and artists and eventually, unable to restrain himself, the bigot came over to her table (uninvited, as bigots usually are).

“Young Lady. Do you realize homosexuality is a crime against humanity?” He proffers in the same calm tone he might have asked; “Do you really like Hot Chocolate on a 80 degree day?”

She might be a little vain and a little shy. She might not like putting her face in the limelight but she’s met enough people like The Bigot to know how to respond. “Says who?” (She wanted to say a great deal of other possible replies, but holds her relatively well mannered tongue).

“Says GOD” said The Bigot.

“Have you spoken to Him lately?”

“I speak to Him every day.” (a self-satisfied grin)

“He makes that much time for you?” (raised eyebrows)

“He does.”

“Well that’s good then. I’m glad you have someone to talk to.”

“He would talk to you too you know. If you weren’t hurting him.”

“I’m hurting God?”

“All Queers hurt God. You go against the natural order of the world. God wants us to procreate and have families, God wants us to be happy. No homosexual is happy.”

“I think 120 poets might disagree with you here.” (points to book, which looks pretty happy next to a half-finished hot chocolate).

“They’re lost souls.”

“Lost from whom?”

“Lost from God. Shut out from God because of their behavior. Their choices.”

God doesn’t talk to them because they’re gay?”

“He wants us to love one another but obey the natural laws. Homosexuality is not a natural law.”

(thinks of stories of gay penguins or cheap shots like ‘oh but it feels so good’ and then decides it’s Just. Not. Worth. It.)

“Well you are entitled to your opinion (thinks; although I’d rather not hear it) Sir”

“You should be ashamed of yourself.” (I guess he’s not getting the reaction he wanted, wonders what reaction he expected?)

“I am not sure you can speak FOR God Sir.”

“That’s right you can’t.” – Young man, green waistcoat, brown eyes, standing to the right of The Bigot.

“This is between myself and the young lady” The Bigot is not pleased at the interloper’s presence.

“Not as long as it’s about hate it isn’t”

“You one of those fag men then? Standing up for bestiality and abomination then?”

“What if I were?”

“Then you Sir, would be a sinner.”

“Says you.”

“Says God.” (he sounds awfully sure)

“I don’t hear Him saying that.”

“He wouldn’t make himself known to you, if you were sinning Son.”

“I’d have thought that’s EXACTLY when he’d make himself known. After all why would He talk to YOU if you have all the answers? Wouldn’t He talk to the Sinner most of all?”

“Do you KNOW your Bible Son?”

“I know THE Bible Sir. I know the Koran too. And the Talmud. I try to stay up-to-date with things of importance. To avoid being a bigot.”

“You calling me a bigot son?”

“I’m saying the chances are it’s not God talking to you Sir, it’s your own fear and hate. I’m saying that if God exists He wouldn’t hate someone for being born unable to love someone of the opposite gender.”

“You’re just making excuses for criminal acts son. God would be disgusted at the lot of you.”

“Including the 120 poets in SMITTEN Sir?” I interrupt (pointing to the book, now next to a 3/4 empty cup of Hot Chocolate, I managed to get a few sips in).

“All of darnation if you intend on spreading that FILTH.”

I think of the words. FILTH. CRIME. HATE. CONDEMNATION. DISGUST. I remember a conversation I had with my grandmother who had unexpectedly converted to Mormonism a few years prior to her death.

“Grandma, I think I like girls.”

“Sure you do sweetheart.”

“No. I mean I really like girls.”

“We all like girls sweetheart.” (we DO?)

“I like girls in the way you like boys.”

A HIDEOUS SILENCE

A BOOK PLACED NEXT TO MY BED THAT EVENING, ENTITLED: Why Homosexuality is a Sin.

NOTHING ELSE EVER SAID.

I think of all the kids who had these and worse experiences. Of the kids who were kicked out of home. Of the kids like me who grew up to lose jobs, lose friends, struggle to fit in. I think of the hate that became okay to spout without any basis and without any defense. I think of the Supreme Court hearing the case right now about Discrimination in the Workplace and whether it should be legal for a person to be fired based upon their ‘sexual preference’. I think how it’s nearly 2020 and we’re STILL asking questions like that. I think of how I made the point to a friend of mine about how if it is wrong to stop people of different races from marrying, the same argument can be made against firing someone because of something they are born with. I remember my friend saying it’s not the same thing. it doesn’t say in the Bible that people of color marrying people of another race is wrong, but it does say homosexuality is wrong. I think of how that’s not exactly true and without being pedantic none of us really know the background of Sodom & Gomorrah but it’s a heck of a lot more complicated than ancient homophobia. I think of how women who menstruate aren’t forced to do so outside of city walls and how everyone eats shell fish but somehow that’s okay. How we pick and choose our hate. How we still as gays, have a long way to go and being only 2/3 percent of the world this will likely always be the case.

The Bigot has moved off. He was talking to the brown eyed man but I had tuned them out. Thinking instead of how maybe 20 years ago I wouldn’t have read a gay book in public I would have been too afraid. How there were still reasons to be afraid but I’d be dammed if I stopped now. Now I’d create the damn books myself if I had to!

The brown eyed man comes back to my table. He smiles a warm smile and says; “I’m sorry about that. I’m really sorry about that. I couldn’t keep quiet when I heard what he was saying to you.”

I smile and thank him quietly. What I really want to say is; Thank you for standing up for me. For all of us. Because so often people don’t. They don’t think it’s necessary. They don’t think it matters. They don’t think it affects us. Or that we feel any less safe than anyone else. Just like a black man walking down the road with a hoodie on. A gay may fear being raped or beaten for kissing someone they love in public. It still happens. IT STILL HAPPENS.

“I used to be a homophobe.” The brown eyed man explains. “I’m sorry but I did.” He sighs. “Until my daughter came out. And then I had to re-think everything. At first I was angry, disappointed, confused. Now I understand much better. I try to speak out for her. I want to be part of the change.”

I give him my copy of SMITTEN and I say; “This is a present for your daughter.”

“That’s terrific! But this is your only copy? You haven’t finished it yet?”

“I’m the editor of this book. I was re-reading it because it brings me so much joy. I’d be honored for your daughter to have a copy.”

I leave. It’s time to get back to work. The trees are beginning to look bare and the wind is picking up. My cup is still 3/4 empty and now it’s cold. But I feel really, really warm inside.

 

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Royal Jelly

honeycomb close up detail honey bee

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our era

The anthropocene

Age of humans

Extinction soars overhead

We sit in chairs facing cocktails

Rising CO2 levels

Habitat destruction

We witness the 6th Extinction

Caused by a single species

Resetting the evolutional clock

And Mormons still ask us to have more children

Abortion a sin, the value of humanity

What’s the price of Extinction?

Are we value or flotsam

Bee or rat? Vector or Hunter?

Tearing down clean air

Adapting to plastic, drowning in toxic denial

We don’t need more of us

Maybe new species afterwards will

Enjoy deep time without

Devouring all the honey

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prosetry

The F Word

“What are you afraid of?” she asks, pen poised over the page of her notebook that is otherwise blank apart from my name and date of birth written at the top.

“Nothing,” I say, “I am fearless.”

“Come on now, everyone’s scared of something…”

I roll my eyes.

“Well, the thing that I was most scared of has happened. And it can’t happen again. So it’s all good,” I say, sticking both thumbs up.

“And that was…?”

“My dad dying.”

She says nothing, just stares at me. She wants me to elaborate but I don’t think she deserves to hear about my father. She has done nothing to earn it. She writes DAD DEAD in capital letters under my name and draws a circle around it twice.

“How has your mood been lately?”

“As it’s always been: oscillating wildly between extremes with no warning or explanation, no pattern or logic, no control or constraint,”

“So would you say that you ‘blow hot and cold’?”

“Yes. Hot and cold. The people around me would definitely agree with that. Cot and hold,”

As soon as it’s left my mouth, her lips curve upwards and £ signs appear in her eyes. Having been perched nervously on the edge of her chair, she now settles back into the cushion behind her, making herself comfortable.

“I meant ‘hot and cold’,” I say quickly, panicked, “not ‘cot and hold.'”

“Why do you think you said ‘cot and hold’ instead of ‘hot and cold’?” she asks wryly.

“Because I’m tired? Because I’m still drunk from last night? Because it’s an easy mistake to make?”

“I think there’s more to it than that, don’t you?”

“What, you think that my unconscious mind has sneakily revealed, without my permission, my innate longing for a better childhood, has hinted at problems since birth, has invited you to ask me about my mother and whether I was loved as a child?”

Were you loved as a child?”

“I made a mistake,” I say, firmly.

“Do you think that you were a mistake?”

“Jesus Christ, it was a simple slip of the tongue!”

“A Freudian slip,”

“Yes. No! No. I don’t know,”

“‘Cot’ and ‘hold’ evoke, in me anyway, images of babies, or those first few years of life,” she says, “do you agree with my interpretation?”

“I guess so, yeah, to some extent…”

She waits.

I am annoyed that she would waste a perfectly good page of a notebook by writing only 4 words and 6 numbers on it. There is more to me than my birthday and my dead dad.

“I didn’t have a cot when I was a baby. I slept in a fruit bowl,” I tell her, now annoyed at myself for entertaining her psychoanalyst nonsense.

“And do you remember your parents holding you? As a little girl?”

I am suddenly struck by the realisation that I have not one single memory of my mother holding me, or hugging me, or kissing me, or playing with me, or letting me sit on her lap. None at all.

“My dad held me,” I said, “there are photos. In all of the photos of me as a baby, it’s dad holding me, looking down at my squidgy face, beaming with pride and love and joy.”

“And your mother?”

I don’t say anything.

“Did your mother hold you when you were a baby?”

I look out of the window at the dying daffodils.

“Are there any photos of her holding you?”

With tears in my eyes, I shake my head.

Through gritted teeth I tell her, “I meant to say ‘hot and cold’ not ‘cot and hold.'”

She nods, places the pen on the arm of her chair, and twitsts the ring on her middle finger while staring at me with a searching look on her face.

We see out the final 17 minutes of the court-ordered appointment in silence.

On my way out of her office, I hover at the door. With my back turned to her, I tell her that I am scared of things. That I’m not fearless. That I’m scared, I’m frightened all of the time. That fear is eating me alive. The being alive terrifies me. She asks me again what it is that I’m afraid of. I tell her:

spilt milk
The Blue Meanies / policemen
tomato seeds
voices crackling through walkie-talkies
my brain
the inevitable death of Sir David Attenborough
being sectioned
my mother.

Then I close the door and walk over to the bored receptionist, a shabbily dressed guy who informs me, in perfect monotone as if reading from a script, that I’ve now completed my mandatory 5 hours of therapy and that I am free to go.

A silver thought flits through the dark behind my eyes: could it be that I don’t just need help but I actually want help, too? I think about making another appointment with the same lady, a voluntary appointment, one that I would actually engage in, one that might help me, might save me…

The guy stamps a sheet of paper, an official document declaring me to be sufficiently therapied and henceforth released from the care of the clinic, hands it to me and says, “Go on then. Bugger off!”

I take the paper from him and walk across the waiting room, thinking about his words. “You’re free to go.” I’m free to go. Free. To go. “Free.” After hearing the buzz of the security lock being opened, I push through the heavy double-doors. I’m not free. Not at all. Not in the slightest. “Fuck fear,” I say to myself, “I may not be free, but I am fucking fearless.” I drop my bag to the ground and run straight into the path of a speeding car. My final thought? “Free at last.”

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Foliage

adult backbone black and white dark

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ever notice?

It means nothing to them?

those girls with peaches and cream, café au lait, peau de couleur foncée

their lush hair, plump calves, rosy cheeks

kiss us like they mean it with open mouth, little inquiring tongue

force of two coming together, chests heaving in sync

who knew straight girls could give so much in the heat of a moment?

unhooking bras, peeling underwear, knowing they’ll be kissed where

their boyfriends press with lack of ardor

for we girls are midnight foxes, we stay in places others only visit

fleetingly

complaining of neck pain, jaw pain, inability to know the ins and outs

oh we know the ins and outs, we know the inside curl and the convex

like a well drawn map

they pull their panties down for us so eagerly, we’d be fooled into thinking

they were of our same kind

save the removal of warmth, after all is reached and swept

beneath damp sheets for memory to play. Saying;

Goodbye, Bon Nuit. I must go now, it’s getting late, he will wonder why

I’m not at home with dry underwear

perhaps even opening herself to him, that very evening to atone

for her strung up, hidden outside pleasure

such is the girl who cannot love other girls and yet

finds only release in what they might know and give

surely one of the same mold knows, the key a little better

willing then, to bend and contort, stay for an hour in one position

without complaint

her breasts making dents of thin cotton, her fists curling like words out loud

the nape of her neck, slick and wet with her urge

she doesn’t reciprocate, her kind never will

she’s the impossible beauty, a girl who loves girls seeks

unattainable, disinterested, sinking to the floor in shame at

the concept of trading places

she’ll give you the time it takes to make her cry out

leave an imprint of her body against your mattress

the ink and glow of her skin a permanent reminder

she’ll never be one of you, nor wish

to lend you her heart

only her glorious body and all its angular expressions

only those afternoon moments

when he hasn’t pleased her or she

longs for your brand of deep caress, how you know

what to do to make her moan

fingers against fingers, thighs, hips, buttock

she is every shape of lovely from her arching neck

to the indent in her pelvis where she lets you stray

and play such secret music

things never to be admitted or spoken aloud

when you meet in public you are two women

buttoned up and indifferent like bleached wood

betraying nothing of her torn blouse or

the slide of her stockings from willing legs opening

how she pushes against you to enter her

fill with longing the bursting pulse within

you want to tell her you have loved her since

first meeting

when rain brought her to the library and shyly

you asked if she needed a towel and she replied

no I like to get wet, it never rains enough

her eyes grey and huge, like lamps in darkness

you think of teasing her hair from perpetual dampness

on her thin arms and how flung back they resemble

an instrument to be ravished

how you curl around her with your ardor and pressing

deeply fulfill your own needs against her loveliness

not shared, without return, a woman who will

pack herself away and leave by mail

like an unwritten postcard she is blank, unwilling

to be spoken

you stay in silence afterward

her breathing ragged, gasping you want to hear her

say I love you in every way, especially how you

set me alight with your touch and every time you

kiss me with your full lips I moan even more for

the core of your very heart

Lorsque tu résonne jusqu’à mon coeur

tu capture mon esprit pour le faire voyager

these things of torment

to a girl who loves other girls

and falls for a woman who is already

moving away

merely using your hands and your mouth

as if plucking leaves from a deciduous tree

to see if indeed they will

fall and stay

on the ground

 

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life, poetry

As You Lay Dying

I got our ‘goodbye’ wrong.
All of those rehearsals and I got stage fright,
fluffed my lines, fucked it up on the big night.

What I said: Please, Dad, don’t die, I’m begging you, don’t leave us, don’t you dare fucking die on me, we need you, I need you, Dad, please hold on, don’t die, please, don’t let go, don’t die, don’t go

What I wish I’d said: It’s okay to let go, Daddy, it’s okay, you can let go, I’m here, I love you, you can let go now, you can let go, you’re safe, let go

There is no ‘next time’
in which I could get our ‘goodbye’ right
so I’ve been praticising our ‘hello again’,
making sure it’s perfect for the day we reunite.

@treacleheartx

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Present and glad

person with tattoo holds python

Photo by Sean Patrick on Pexels.com

We talk about the past

I used to like talking about the past

it was a favorite drink warming my hands

when Winter first called

this time what has gone before now feels

sad and heavy like wet wool blanket left to dry

in insufficient heat

it leaches the warmth from my lavender bones

I feel sorrow and weighted down by metal reminder

who was that girl? Who absorbed

grief and laid it on her arms in shapes and symbols

to be read years later by Rune interpreter

did she really? Think she had no worth

so much so the days became years and the pain

soaked so much of her blood she longed to eat

meat

you craved her up and steaming you fed on her

badly wound lassitude

she forgot herself as she pretended

love means forgiving time and time again

she forgot, she was worth something

that girl who didn’t have hands uplifting her from

the clamoring downpour

lost her way in cavorting storm

the spooling moon, a snake wrapped against tattooed branch

this way and that, the even keel of life forgotten

some days it took everything just to stand up

she mislaid the memory, she was not there to be crushed into

tiny pieces of herself and thrown for white breasted sea birds

to swallow whole

love should not force you to your thin knees

it should not destroy the tender parts of you

capable of feeling

fingers playing fiddles with tempura emotion

love is not a white flag of surrender

at times it needs to be a pirate ship

fast on its feet, answerable to nothing but

the truth of vanquished things

torn and shredded in haste

we talk about the past and

I used to like talking about the past

comforting me like a one-night-stand

until I became tired of hearing how I accepted

less and took nothing

raging against the dying light

life is after all

short and painful and full of unexpected turns

do not add to it by self-hate or diminishment

if I could go back in time, this is what I would say

to the girl who got used to having empty pockets

I would take her by the hand and remind her

you may have been broken or forged incompletely

darned with a yarn too coarse for fine needle

you may have been told this was your lot in life, you did not

deserve equality

but just as it seems true, the world will be submerged

when rain comes down pitiless and hard

it is not so

we rise then

we always rise

for one more chance and when it offers itself

hand in your bad habits and leave that moth eaten coat behind

take the tall steps upward

feel the sun on your throat

smile even as you don’t know

what lies around the corner

present and glad

for your very existence

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