Cartography

November 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Written in September 2011.

Listen close, my dear
and I will sing you a map of the world:
of living, of dreaming and dying,
with Here Be Dragons in bits of sea
and blank places about the edges
for you to fill in yourself.

Here are the tales of old:
Heracles and the Nemean lion,
Cúchulainn and the Morrigan,
Freya and her necklace,
Raven and the sun,
Amaterasu hiding in a cave –

Not real?
of course they’re real, child,
as real as you and me
as real as yesterday
as real as glass, or time, or wind.

I’m telling you a map of the world,
and it’s not a thing of ink and parchment
(though I could draw it there
in words and wonder, if you like,
but it would take a thousand libraries
to tell it all)
nor a thing of equations and formulas
but rather a thing of stories
legends, myths. . .
true things.

There are new stories, too,
bits of this map redrawn and retold;
and sometimes, very rarely,
in treasured corners, added anew.
You’ll find them in books newly published,
and in amateur scribbles on the internet,
and drawn in comics,
and written on restaurant napkins:
these are modern myths,
news or fantasy or memoir,
all valuable lines on the map of the world –

yes, even the shallow novels
with lurid garish colors that we call
tripe and fluff, and scorn as fodder
for lazy minds and dim spirits,
because even trash romances
are lipstick-smeared maps of someone’s desires,
someone’s secret shadows.

Scorn no tale,
even if it seems shallow,
even if it is hard to hear,
even if it disgusts you,
even if it enrages you.

(Especially then.)

People will say that we tell stories for survival
because it binds a community together
passes along information

little red riding hood
nearly eaten by a wolf
and so: don’t talk to strangers in the wood.

Or earlier:
stories around a fire
tribal tales
mythologizing the hunt
told for generations
so that all remember
how best to procure meat

Stories for survival
Evolutionary need
and that is why we have legends
and need to retell them.

All of these things are true –
their tale of the origin of stories
is just as real
as the ones I speak of now.

Our lives are composed of myth
sung in the stories we share
the dramas we make of the little things of each day.
I can tell you my story,
and this map I’m drawing is part of that.
You can tell me your story, then,
and we will see where our maps join,
how they overlap,
maybe fill in some of the gaps

(but leave the dragons alone
they’re real, and true;
let’s not draw over them)

and then find other tales
map a little of the alien shore of another mind
for nothing is as infinite
as the landscape
of the heart.

Warning Label

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in November 2007.

I am a

pansexual
polyamorous
genderfluid
species-shifting
polytheistic
switch

and what
does all this
make me?

greedy? says a t-shirt and
an icon or three and
(with less humor, more scorn)
the extremes of either spectrum

indecisive? unable to commit,
choose a this-or-that –
make up my mind, pick a side
define the edges of a solid box
(why must I?
does anyone fit so neat and snug
into such things, with no edges hanging out,
no squeezing into discomfort?)

or maybe
it’s just that
I don’t believe in absolutes

and maybe
it’s just that
I think nothing and no one
stays the same

That we extend beyond the boundaries of skin
and there is more to me than what you see
or even what I show

and there is maybe more to You
than you have ever dared to seek.

I escape definition
because I am a flickering, shapeshifting,
role-changing, look-from-every-angle,
turn-it-on-its-head
jackal-child
bathed in
phoenix-change.

To Fly

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in December 2003.

The peregrine
is trying to fly
again.

Wings flap in vain
up and down and up
to catch the wind, but
yellow talons remain curled about a borrowed perch
because although one wing stretches out
whole, unmarred
the other ends in a clump of feathers
cut off far too short
useless half a wing.

So even though she reaches for the sky
Sharp eyes staring wild to wind and sun and clouds
She doesn’t leap forward into air
– she seems to know she’s bound to earth
forever.

It’s no wonder she refuses my offering
limp clump of soft bone and yellow down
dead before it left the egg.
She remembers flight
and freedom
soaring the thermals, silent skyshadow
dark eyes catching every tiny motion far below
wings folding, curved beak aiming down
torpedo aimed unerring for the target
space roaring, screaming in her ears
280 miles per hour straight down…
impact!
and talons wrap around the prey
warm and newly killed and hers.

Then the sun pushes aside the clouds
and the crisscross of wire mesh
imprisons us both in shadow
once more.

Subtle Pallet

November 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Written in November 2009.

I wish
I could show you
this land
through my eyes.

They say
there is too little green
there is too much brown
in Colorado.

I remember lush Ohio
wet, wet greens
straight out of Crayola 48:
spring green
bright fluorescent lawns
tall kindergarten-bush trees
manicured
cultivated
tamed.

Here
the pallet is less vibrant
more subtle:
sage green
pine green
pale lichen green
but green nonetheless.

The brown is not mere brown
but traildust, cliff-red,
sagebrush,
a windswept sea of
tawny, sunkissed, russet
goldenrod grasses
brightening to softest jade
where a stream trickles
off the mountains.

This is not a place
of kaleidoscope colors.
It is a wild, rugged land
of rich textures:
white-fuzzed succulents
clinging to mottled rock
the bumps of prairie dog watchtowers
punctuated by dust-tan fur
standing sentinel.

I know a place in the prairie
where a stunted tree spreads out
over a bare outcropping
of rock, its roots
stubbornly seeking sustenance
above the ground.
It looks like a classic scene
from Biblical tales
lonely tree in the wind
against an impossibly blue sky
above a sea of gold and green:
foam-tipped waves of grass
in the valley below.

Storm Trapped in Stone

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in May 2006.

she is a thing of wind and wings –
one moment solid, one moment fey –
her eyes alight with starfire,
her mind away in flight,
now hissing in birdwarning, now starting in birdfright,
flapping up a fury –

and the sky is dark with fury
of clouds and raven wings,
and the air is charged with fright –
garbage bags whipping like something fiercely fey,
like birds with tattered wings seeking to take flight;
they startle her to instinct, that primal flickering fire –

– like the heat in her belly, anxiety-fire,
as her heart beats a tattoo of thrumming fury –
caged in ribs, trapped from flight,
raging against too-heavy bone, ghost-wings
stretching, straining, reaching for the wind so fickly fey –
ground-chained bird, no way to flee from fright.

thus the panic settles in her breast, the feather-fright
flickering like candleflame in the storm, fearfire
an answer to the shotgun of thunder; she dances fey
and wild, shying, skittering awkward from the fury
of skydrums. she breathes, then, to settle the wings
in her chest and her thoughts, and takes flight –

– not launching freely into air, but flight
on asphalt and concrete; the birdfright
passes, thumpthumpthumping out through the wings
that are her feet, and she is consumed by fire
in legs and lungs; the road soaks up her fury
and becomes her tar-soaked sky, turned fey

and feral by the birdness pouring down, fey
as the moonpaths to another world. this is flight –
or as close as she can get. her body knows the fury
of wind trapped in stone; her mind knows the fright
of the jessed hawk. her spirit bathes in phoenixfire
and within a human shell stretches feathered wings.

there is a feyness in the intimacy of fight and fright –
she knows the feel of flight; she knows immolating fire,
and a fury of feathers fills her dream of wings.

Soul Portrait

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in February 2004.

a body bound to earth,
its skin of yellow clay
raked here and there
by sculpting fingers.
hair like grass turned dead
soaked by red ocher and
bleached by sun’s gold.
the nose: misshapen stone
tossed upon a sleep-gray face
above a smear of sandstone
grumbling with the ground.

but beneath scrub-brush of brows –
the eyes
mirrors of the self and sky,
from false-dawn gray to autumn blue,
fixed ever on the clouds –
and can you see?
through fogged windows
the true shape of the soul…

the east wind’s cry
and all the sky
forged into winged form
and starlight stolen
with the moon
just to be transformed
to feathers bright
with silver fire
soaring on the storm –
a phoenix flies
in glory high

– but yearns, and wonders why
she’s trapped within this human shape
of earth
and clay
and stone…

The Silent Place

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in September 2009.

There is a place–
quiet, dark,
deep within me
soundproof, the edges
cotton-filled, thick fog
fuzzing out sensation to
white noise.

It is safe here.
I am untouchable
distant
layers of clouds between me
and everything.

No feeling.
No panic.
No wailing.
Just . . . silence.

When the outside overwhelms
and I can’t walk away
I retreat inside.
When emotion roars up
and I can’t afford to show it
I escape inside.
When I must do something
ordinarily impossible
I go inside.

because here
I am invincible.
You cannot touch me–
not your anger
not your words
not your hands
not your tears.

here
I can do anything.
I can listen and
cope with making mistakes
cope with my imperfections.
I can face dark truths unflinching
about me, about others, about us.
I can hurt me, uncaring.

I can even hurt you.
See your every fault-line
stick my fingers in the cracks
and push, pull, pry, just so . . .

if I want to.
if it’s needed.
if the impulse strikes me.

here
I have absolute control.

here
I can do what is necessary
but painful, or hard, or
too close for comfort.

here
I can do everything
but feel.

Restraint

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in October 2008.

I don’t worry when she yells
same old refrain
get off me motherfuckers!
little lioness restrained
while the water fountain screeches
and twists from the wall, tortured metal
victim of her frustrations

and I know
if I let go
despite her claims of safety, innocence
she’ll whirl
rabbit-punch me
so I hold on and wait
for help–

eight by eight by twelve
concrete, tile, metal, empty box
and I’m on the floor and all I can smell is
fury, panic, sweat
her shouts are screams now
we took her shoes, her socks–
don’t want to see her face turn ugly purple
and black from the cloth she
rips, ties, strangles
–not again.
but she is crying, screaming
tiny frame lurching
bucking me nearly off her legs and
there are four of us trying to keep her–
succeeding in keeping her–
restrained, prone
but
the screams
echo
off
the frozen tile
and sterility of
concrete

I don’t worry when she yells.
It’s when she screams
and cries
that I know we’ve lost her
to her past

and her mind is gone.
the lioness is a hyperventilating hare-child now
lost in flashbacks
and I hate
hate
abhor that we have to continue
pinning her
because if we let go
her foot will slam into our bodies
or she will
clamp her teeth into our backs/arms/anything
or she will run
into fourty-mile-an-hour traffic again
and sit down
in the dark–

so we remain.

pain howls through the room
pierces eardrums
splinters off the walls into diamond shards
as impossible to repair
as her Self.

she stops screaming.
and lurching, and fighting
it’s just the wide-eyed rabbit-panting now
fear-whimpers
slowing to
silence.

she is numb
but I can still feel the echo
of those shards.

when we leave, she remains as she was in the restraint
prone
arms still at her sides
staring into hell.

Quartet

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in May 2010.

1.
stark pictures
fleeting snapshots
in the crevices of my
brain
i cannot draw them into being
so i try
approximating
with words.

2.
keeling
keening
shadows playing stark and hard
lines on muscle, bone, skin outlines
curving spine
scream

3.
you
are
beautiful
from the clean line of your jaw
and wolf-lean frame
to the scars and softness
of the deep places
between skin and soul

4.
he was not quite fragile
just hollow
bruised
all his life and strength and
power
balled up, coiled carefully
placed in a safe secret hollow
in his core
and locked away
against this
bleakness

Meanderings of Love

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in February 2007.

1. Risk

I’ve played Risk with love
laying out pieces of my heart on the map
but I am a lousy tactician
and refuse to gamble
keeping all the little red figures of me/you/us
in the places easily defended
like Australia, with only one way in
or out.

I’m one for three
A victory for me and you and love, somehow,
and two games lost to loss and fear.
(It’s a big board.)

There’s a new game now
Me and you and love and her
And there’s a player in Australia
with one way in or out
and for once
it isn’t me

which scares the fuck out of me.
See? fear chews at my scattered pieces
backs me into corners
till there’s nowhere to go but
you
and
her
and I’m frightened of Australia
with its one way out –
It doesn’t look so safe anymore
with her pieces hiding in its ocean-walls.

It is my turn
and I am afraid
to move.

————

2. Change

is the Wheel of Fortune
all sun and starlight
a breath before the plummet.
“L _ V E”
what could it be
take a spin
bankruptcy
screwed again by

Change

is Death
with its ending and beginning
transformative
necessary . . .
but I hate it and I fear it
and Love is just Death
disguised so it can
sneak up on you
court you with a smile
and ivory kisses
before the scythe blow
of

Change

is the Tower
crumbling tumbling pain
making room for growth
(but that hurts too)
and I’m the
falling
crumpling
shadow
crashing into

Change

————

3. Taming

I keep falling for the wild ones
gypsy rovers with tangled manes
legs chalked in travel-dust
slaves to the next horizon
enthralled by roadsong.

It’s the wild in their eyes
and souls
felinity purring through heated veins
prancing horse-pride
wolf stalking through movement
wary glitterings in the eyes
fang and shadow refusing
to be
tamed.

Somehow I fall in love
with this wilderness embodied
and this scent of deep pine woods
and this autumn leaf-must
and this wind of storm and freedom
it calls me close
to reach
to touch
to own . . .

but this is humanity whispering in my blood
tweaking startled neurons
with that age-old need to
possess
tame
defend
make it yours and yours alone
not enough to watch or
content myself with the gift
of a wildling’s trust.

But to possess and turn the wild
to my hand turns it to
dust and ash and
makes it tame
and a dog is not a wolf
and a cat is not a lion
and a rover tied
is a spirit broken.

I
must not –
cannot –
possess
the wild things I love
for that turns all
into that which
I
cannot
respect.

————

4. Skydiving

she is
not safe
to love

but love is not safe
and that which I love
is never
safe.

I’m learning this game
– slowly, slowly –
risk is change and
opening up to pain
and loss.
(I hate to lose.)

Love is a choice,
he said:
you do not fall into it
but chase it
choose it
leap
into that infernal flame
and be transformed.

How can you leap into your life,
she sang,
if you never jump
at all?

The fire burns
The height terrifies
and I do not trust
these fragile wings –
I haven’t tested them
not yet.

Fear of love and fear of loss
sabotages love itself
that’s me – the saboteur
of my happiness
– Not anymore.

no limits and no fear

let go

think phoenix
and fly.

Where Am I?

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