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If a Picture Tells A Thousand Words...

Box of Ashes


my mind is a box


inside the box is a garden

inside the garden is winter


your ghost is a great gnarled tree

sprawling bare black limbs

against the sky


the sky is the color of ashes

I held your ashes in my hand


I hear your ashes rustling

like the echoes of leaves

that have long since fallen

I hear your ashes rustling

like whispers in my mind


my mind is a box


(This poem was published in Issue 3 of Clementine Cannibal's riot grrrl compilation zine "I Knew a Motherfucker Like You and She Said...")

Seagulls


my body is beautifully imperfect


my flaws become stars on the sky of my skin as he runs his hands over it, brushing against me with his fingertips like summer rain and with his palms kneading away the wounds of time


all I really ever wanted was someone to talk to


about geese and seagulls and crisp autumn mornings and the way my thighs settle into sleep


next to him


I found one day that what I called my face was only a mask of death


I found that out because he took the mask off


and my real face with it's real skin stretched into a real smile


with twinkling eyes to back it up


these eyes that have seen too much death


there's more to life than death


there is love

Growing


you looked, with eyes


so old for your


soft face


carved into the world


that we carved out


for you


you would know more than us


for awhile, but when


you could speak of


the death that just happened


you'd forgotten


and grown into your flesh like the rest of us

The following poem was inspired by Norman Maclean's book Young Men and Fire



Fire



Up


in a distance


are mountains


crying with flame


You


stride up into that distance


without realizing you have


conquered the world between


a piece of ground and the looming apparition


above it,


and the moment these two


change places.


And so, now you stand in the flames


and the mystery seems to be as simple as


when another was in your place


but not of his choosing


and he had no ground, only the apparition of it


thousands of miles below


and quivering with flame and smoke


and finally it swelled up to meet him


and now you stand where he


once died


and you have to believe that it is his voice


crying in the shape of flames


and the sound weilds its shape into


everything around you


and that you think of

Last Light (Unrealized)


The half and so almost golden sunlight and almost candles. Had they been there, glowing not far and not casting shadows, only around themselves. And paper plates and napkins, and people almost faraway. Sunday evening, like a child. And going to bed when it's light out. But not now. With the people and voices and almost-dusk light outside faraway at your window, and seeping in weakly and not reaching the corners and not even real as the fading disintegrating furniture and deepening corners and swallowed by the corners. Later would be even halfer light of twilight or dusk, and streaming carlights and colors. But not now. A conversation. What we said was more real than what was around us. Always on his mind, she was, and his face was shaded. And their voices faraway. Even when she or others of them came close to us, grainy and when you get closer, the grains come apart and are all that are there. But not now, not even possible. A window and light from the other room. And a walk outside, with faraway children and dogs. Since the light drapes on you, everything else seems to, draping over and falling off. And falling away, but not now. With the voices and people in its folds.

Landmark


Perhaps the light


will never fall there again.


Or we will not be here to


see it.


A patch in my hair for you


and a patch on


the floor for me.


In this moment:


record the lighting.


At what point does it fall


on my eye, or a tooth in


my open


mouth? Record


the movement.


So we move on.


I now turn my hand


and light falls on my hair


and silence sustains


the thoughts in our


heads.


You must always


remember this.

Slow Blink


Lying in my bed that is a dark forest full


of serpentine straggling bedsheets twining betwixt my legs there are no secrets here,


every thought is real….


Dark windows in the London night as I ride by in a double decker bus,


that was seven years ago and even then, it’s still here


Here, in my bed


I work things out this way


I invite what’s bothering me to go for a romp in my bed and let’s see


If we can work it out


You must realize, I’m alone the whole time


My pills help me see the realness of my thoughts


Even as I cannot express them


You’d think it’s sad, you’d think, “she’s wasting her life in bed.”


What you don’t know


Is that I am on a vision quest


What you don’t know


Is that I have a mind that time moves through in circles, not lines


What you don’t know


Is that when I wake up in the summertime with the birds chirping outside my window


What I feel is dread


In a fist in the pit of my otherwise empty stomach


Sometimes get up and smoke a poem or a cigarette or two


The day opens and closes outside against my window shade like a very slow blink

Hissing of Summer Lawns


well, here I am again


chain smoking at dawn


missing the festering green carpet


of outside's summer lawns



wishing I could lay down on them


and just be five again


now they just hiss at me, like in Joni Mitchell's song,


that this is now and that was then


--this poem was published at http://www.wordsbyamy.com/

His Music


as we watched the day wax and wane


check that: as I watched it


through the dusty windows beyond your


potted plants


I grew to hate you


a little bit more and then a little bit less


and I grew to wonder


if I really needed you


or if I just wanted to pretend I did

Silence


tap me when you wake up


I'm going underground


down where the bones lay


down where the earth is molten


tap me when you wake up


I'm going where the stars burn like suns


I'm going through the earth's core


I can't stand your silence


any longer

A Poem Out of Focus



the strip malls of Skokie


gleam


red neon in the twilight


slushy curbsides


trashy lingerie and cheap Chinese food


the sky hardens to purple


signs are cold bright and buzzing


someone changes the wig on a slutty mannequin


waitresses lean on counters


bus boys in paper hats


someday I'll drive past this whirring hateful mess


into the desert


sky black, stars bright yellow and red


like the signs saying goodbye


we'll make love in a teepee


before we start all over in a city in the desert


with its own neon signs


to eventually grate on my skin like a dry and hot gust


of sand

Diagnosis



her uterus


like the top half of an hourglass


when the hour


is up


ready, it's time


to scour out her demons


all the evils you don't see


ferment in this dome


and sooner or later they trickle up to her eyes


and her brain is limp with containing them

Too Deranged For Her Kisses


Her arms stretch out between earth and heaven

(her legs go from here to heaven)

A lit cigarette dangling between her fingers

My vision is nicotine-stained

I see things others choose wisely to ignore.


Is THIS good enough for you?

Is THIS good enough for you?


I’m so fucked up I take pills that fuck me up even more and I sleep all day


Spring is all around me, mocking me:

“You’re too deranged for my kisses.”


I think my brain is made of splintered wood

collapsing in on itself like a sky

With the weight of deformed wishes made upon stars


(This poem was published in Issue 4 of Clementine Cannibal's riot grrrl compilation zine "I Knew a Motherfucker Like You and She Said...")

Never Break


long-limbed

big red mouth

you're no ballerina in a jewelry box

no, not you

tiara askew

smeared eyeliner

fake lashes falling off

you live to mock the candy-coated strait-jacket of womanhood

that you will gloriously never break your bones trying to fit into

I can hear your soul

in my car stereo

"I always wanted to die, but you kept me here alive..."


Why are we still here, Courtney?

Maybe we never really wanted to die after all

Maybe what we really want is for all the electricity

all over the world to shut off

all the haters on the internet

all the loud and pompous TV personalities

all the top 40 hits

if they could just shut the hell off and shut the hell up

you and I could have some peace


peace doesn't come easy for people like us


you know what it's like

to be made of fire

you know what it's like

to burn and scream

you know what it's like

to be a girl

coming of age sexually at a time when sex could kill you

you know what it's like

to feel ugly and betrayed

you know what it's like

when all the great legendary men of rock'n'roll don't


I find peace

when I hear your voice

because you are made of fire

because you know what it's like

because you remind me I am brave and strong

and that no one

can break me

Ugly as Sin



twisted and grotesque


ugly as sin


miserable as the day is long


and, believe me, Sister, it is long



but sometimes She fills me through with Her light


Her light that is like wings made of panes of glass and late afternoon sun


never mind the long shadows



I have known such ecstasy


I should never forget that


but I do


I do forget it, I mean




I am the color of leaves on the trees illuminated by street lamps in summer


I am the color of an ocean that thinks it is the sky


I am the color of sapphires and diamonds


and of the scratched steel of dented dog tags


dented like so many mess hall or mental institution soup spoons


but I still wear them


because I'm not done fighting yet



I am the color of the light in November


yellow and brief and swirling with tinsel


and as the snow falls through the thin yet palpable sunlight, I realize


I am not ugly as sin


the world is not ugly as sin


She wants so desperately to tell me, to show me...


and then, I feel nothing


and then, I am buried



She wants so desperately to tell me, to show me...


that I needn't let my past mistakes bury me


that I'm not dead



She wants so desperately to tell me, to show me...


that She is me


that She is inside me


that She lives within me


that She is me


She is everything beautiful, alive, and light



as am I


even at my ugliest


because sometimes that's where the fight takes me


and the fight is probably the most beautiful thing of all

I'm Still Here


the darkness is everything we want but shouldn't

have, or shouldn't do

magical darkness

shape-shifts trees and bushes in the bluish-silver moonlight,

it's like you're on drugs

but you're not


darkness is my voice of silence

I have spent the past several years silencing myself

for no good reason

other than the fact that I live in a glass house

check that:

a glass coffin

because this isn't living

I'm not really sure what's holding me back

I'm not really sure if when I look back on times I didn't feel held back, I was too wild

too weird

alienating others


being a woman can hold you back, if you let it

we say things are better now, we say we live in a "post-feminist" era...

but I'm still afraid to ride the train at night for fear I'll get raped

and then get blamed for it because I was riding the train late at night

I'm still afraid I'll alienate people every time I open my mouth


there are more insidious things


like people asking my husband and I when we're going to have a baby and then become hostile when we say we don't want children


I'm sure that someone, somewhere, once told me it’s all in my head, that if I just take it like a man and pick myself up by my boot straps I won’t feel held back

that I’m so lazy I can’t even admit I’m lazy and that I'm holding myself back because I’m lazy and chicken-shit


even though I don't remember who said it, they're in my head, their faces running like masks of wet gray sand, telling me my feelings aren’t real


but they are

and I know I'm not lazy


I know because


I fight

I fight every day

and I'm still here

most of the fight, these days,

is still being here

and I am  

What Hairy Armpits Mean to Me


Standing up for what I believe in. Standing up for what's right. Doing what I have to do. Putting myself first. Not thinking in "binary code" (ie, if I shave my armpits but still pluck my eyebrows and shave my legs, I can be free to be contradictory in other things.) Standing up for myself. Taking care of myself. Eating right. Exercising. Not worrying about what other people think of me. Not worrying about whether something I want to do or how I accomplish something "makes sense." Rejecting that because I am a married woman in my thirties, that means I have to act or be a certain way. Not defining "sex" as vaginal intercourse. Rejecting the idea that if I teach myself to do something a certain way and it's different than how other people do it, I'm "doing it wrong." Embracing the dark cunt. Embracing the dark faerie fissure in the woods. Embracing the dark swarthy sweaty hairy armpit. Embracing that life is messy. Embracing that people die for no reason and there's nothing you can do to stop it and pictures fall down from off the shelf for no reason and the glass shatters everywhere and this can happen twice in one week but through all that not getting lost in the tangled woods and keeping track of the light, even if it is from a waning moon…


--this piece was published in Issue 2 of Cherry Bomb Zine

Also, please see this site's blog for my blog entries for the esteemed mental health site http://www.healthyplace.com

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