A night out

Screeching cockies 

Plum staining the sky

We left it too late

Our breath, clouds 

And the lamplights whirred golden

We could hear the music from streets away

The pummeling of drum skins

And a sitar 

Rosy light from fires 

Underneath the looming gum trees

Shedding leaves and branches

They snuggled in, the two broken-off bits of me 

Swathed in wool and fur

Woodsmoke descended like a feather down quilt

And I breathed in its warmth 

I left them lost in dreams 

Filling my throat with too-cold beer

And my skull with fog

I taught my self to dance again, 

Surrounded by every generation

Children, mothers, great-grandparents 

Hips, knees, feet

Clapping the floor beneath me

Moving to the strains 

Of Eastern European polka

The world spun blood orange

And my memories gathered me back to myself 

Like the catching of poddy mullet in ocean pools

This new self, this older self 

All the days I’ve been in this skin suit

Breathing, moving, taking up space 

Faces laugh, make eye contact 

They know what this is

To be solitary and alive 

I was told I was beautiful, once

I was told I was beautiful, once 

Loveless, void

I’m half the woman I thought

Stringy haired and bloodshot

I sit alone, walls blank

Nobody talks to me 

 

Not the right fit for anyone

My edges gouge and leave empty spaces

Leaves fall, dark purple like clotted blood

I’m chilled right down to my skeleton

Face awash with sour milk

 

Someone’s taken an eraser

And smeared my perimeter

There’s new skin that ripples and pools

I hadn’t thought it a bad thing

But it keeps you away

 

Am I your breeder, your whore?

(Surely I’m more?)

I remember love like a childhood mirage

Golden flecks where the sunlight

Gets in the way

 

Once I was held

This body not abandoned

Hurtling through space

An old model discarded

For a fresh breeze and an untouched waistline 

 

I could go a week, a month

No voice speaking my name

Surrounded by life but,

Lifeless, void

The greasy mark where skin once pulsed

 

I see you, I see a stranger

Could we have ever been

Known by one another?

Your ambivalence, your silence 

Saturating the seams of your face

 

Are these two splendid beings

Who have grown from the crack 

Between you and I 

The only fingers holding us 

Together

[Un]Holy

Day breaks on those Parisian curtains,
Freckles and scars illuminated along

The creases of your form
Rising, falling, plunging 

Through the incense [holy!] atmosfears
The leather gloves, my silent gasp,

The nails tearing down my back
Rip me awake and I dare not close them

I can’t bring myself to distractions,
I want to be consumed by those parted

Lips all bloody rouge with Shiraz,
Limp skin sliding off 

Like those paper-barked voyeurs
Peeking through the panes

Stained with the fog of the next morning,
That film-grain same rotisserie sunrise,

You tried your best 
To talk me out of it again

Rolling over then,
You checked your phone

Something strange was in the air
and Notre Dame is burning.

Ivory Walls, Empty Rooms

Saying goodbye to empty rooms

Palms on bare boards that held your bed

Cupboards that yawn like empty tombs

If you were here what would you have said?

 

Amber bars of light from slatted blinds

Where you stood white-capped, serene

A trail of dirty finger marks left behind 

That final garden in all its shades of green

 

Is there a trace of you on these ivory walls

Upon these dusty moats

Some withered cells, a stray hair falls

A bit of ash stuck in our throats

 

The heavy door clicks shut

Mirroring that close of musty drapes

Farewell couldn’t be more clear-cut

Flames consuming that beautiful face 

 

I holler your name into the waves

Could I be more cliché?

The expanse of the ocean is your grave

A grief I can’t allay

Rudie / Elephants

Your hand electrified the back of my neck
As we hopped down the highway
Listening to Rudie Can’t Fail,
Talking of Tintin and juvenile justice

At times your fingers would chisel
Down my jaw and across my throat,
Molding me
With my hands trembling
On the wheel,

Calling me your little elephant,
I thought of the skin
Between your two freckles that,
When squeezed together,
Would make a trunk

Sometimes I wished
I didn’t remember.

Monday Night Yoga

Winter’s coming

And it’s been a decade

Of powdered snow deep on sleeping soil

Pink light fills the space around my eyes

and I’m inside an oyster

Pale geese framed in spun sugar buoyed by luminous green

My limbs stretch and harden

The room is filled with sun like amber ale,

The edges softened by bubbles of glinting gold

I soften and drape

I’m back in that dappled cove beneath your chin

Drapes of turpentine, eyes of ash

A knotted bulb I’ve had tucked in my back pocket these years long

I close my eyes against the magenta kaleidoscope 

Ribs expanding, contracting

This life I’ve filled apart from you

The warm yolk slips 

And skies of lavender are muted

By a shadowed cloak 

A single goose shouts into the rising night

The boards beneath my back become yellowing grass, carpets of pine, smooth rocks warmed in the sun

All the places this body lay with you

These trips around the sun shorten and morph

Five million minutes filled with growth and buds

Decay and the shedding of those turning leaves

My tight shut eyes open to an absence of impression

A coolness in this day’s death

Winter’s coming 

And I’m lying on a yoga mat remembering you

Fireworks (Remix)

One day I’ll hold you
Warm and close like my 21st
Summer, that quiet foreign
Night, gazing up at the minaret
I’ll smoke, find communion with all I can
Hear but not see, and I close my lies,
Fireworks decorating my inner galaxy;
Outside is cold and loveless
And inside isn’t always any better, but
I’ll find you there, you’ll wear my sweater,
Listen, I will see you soon, but first I go
To the desert of this dying moon, learn all
The lessons I have to learn:
Memories are worlds and I’ve seen plenty
As they colour the girls and the faces as
They bent me and remind me to hold on,
Cry into my shoulder, we nurse our hearts
Crying growing older,
Cry.

Without You

I’m lying here where your brittled form lay curled and breathing not so long ago. Your skin turned sour and your voice too soft. I held your fingers and turned away from you folding in upon yourself. Breath held and eyes swimming, open upon a ceiling of smooth meringue. A collapsing seed planted in a mound of smooth white linen. It’s been an entire year upon this salted tide, the cold water that rushed in to fill the depression in your half of the mattress. Everything else undisturbed; a brown bottle of hand cream, a cabinet of pills, a closet of clothes. That moment every time I open your front door and feel a catch in my throat as I realize the voice I’m hearing is only between my ears.

You forgot Luca’s name in the hospital, that final time. Called him by another. How it ravages me to think of you in that hospital bed, a fresh nightgown daily from your dutiful husband. Being spoon fed soup until you fell asleep. Lips slack, face yellowing. Those words that dropped out of your mouth as my father made the statement “you’re standing on the edge of a brand new adventure”, your cloudy eyes wide, your face sincere, “I really am, Pete”.

And then those horrific days where you remained. Slipping, slipping. Ever smaller amongst those pillows until you disappeared altogether. A piece of driftwood where a great oak had stood. 

The family knit themselves together over you, a blanket of hands and hearts to try to keep you warm that early autumn day.

Now this baby like fresh risen dough sleeping where you should be. Draped with a forest green knit that still smells of you. Toes like podded peas poking through.

Ne Me Quitte Pas

This concrete shrinks each evening,
The sky’s no longer streaming
And my dreams have been bleeding
Together with you in unending
Farewell

The garden-beds lay flat with bitter shame
As crestfallen chlorophyll fades into sorry brown,
The cobbled pathways feel an empty same,
Leading to the faded hue of
this wretched town,

That shamrock breeze that shook
My trees and scattered my fruit on shallow roots,
Picks me up, and from me took
That contented cup that it
so graciously filled

This coronary carrousel that spun and swayed
Our hearts away from the bitter daze
And confusion of moonlit touch,
Has blown its fuse and twirled its last

Round and round
with unholy pasts.

What we left in the sand

I tried to sync our breathing on the dunes
As the sky split and you shone amber apricot,
But the climb left us both gasping
In our own private oceans.

I tried to find where the creases
Of your eyes ended
And the gentle contours of sand began
As you laid your head back against my chest.

I stroked your cheek and pulled
Your gaze away from that
Bright bubbling rainbow-seized disk
Just for a moment
To rub our red tingling noses together.

I know you despised me for trying
And failing
To put words to this moment,
Mumbling some faint reply
That felt more like an obligation.

I rolled down and the earth began to oscillate
And I couldn’t find you for a second;
You seemed to be anywhere else
But under my gaze.

You marched down, caught somewhere
Between astronaut and primordial desert dromadaire
In that camouflaged wool,
Bringing forth great plumes of dust and creation with every unearthed footstep,
Saying “Maybe they left without us.”
They hadn’t, of course,

But I understood.