poetry

thought closet

fix your thought closet
some hangers i will not reveal

yesterday i lent you a green one
its shoulders bent on the ends
plastic ones bother me, the
curled head juts out, with
the eyes of a mother.
she looks for laundry.

i look for a jacket to hide
my feelings. neither of us win.

the cupboard will outlive us.
heavy sweaters
pressed t-shirts
and a lego man
are all shards of stories.

the closet remembers, and
creaks when it closes.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

A stranger’s bed

for Sarah

We lay in a stranger’s bed.
Just the two of us, an old
painting hung behind our heads
and listened to the stories, my
awkward hands, limp on the mattress.

I watched the freckles dance on
your face when you laughed. Before bed we
both removed our glasses.

Between sentences we studied the other,
our naked faces learning a new
language. All over again.

On the second night, I was worn
down by work. Your voice trickled
in excitement, turning each page of intimacy.

I tried to stay awake and listen to
your stories. My eyelids rocked open and
shut like an old boat.
I did not make it to the end.

I asked you in the morning about
it. You said I slurred a sentence like
a sailor, and then nothing.

You turned in the current of duvet, and
waited for waves of sleep.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

The Dinosaur

for my mother

I coloured in a dinosaur, at
the age of ten.

I selected five careful pencils and
put them all in a row.
Sharpened. The heads of fences.

I gave him silver claws, and a
dark green body. The colour oozed
into the page.

After an hour I had carved him
into a story, into my mind.

The teacher wafts around the
room, stacking reptiles into
an old palm.

A few days later the news broke.
I won the competition. My mother
chortled her praise, while she cooked
with a bent back.

I dreamed of art lessons
I won. Excited and curious. (I think
it was the silver claws that did it.)

I never collected my prize. I still
blame my mother. Only now I see
her lack of hands with two boys
bubbling in the house.

I wonder what she did to breath
back then. I think it was the piano.

I rocked in my dreams.
My mother stroked the keys, because
it cooled her head down.

It was her language.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

Sheffield

 – for my father –

I remember the
medicine bottle.
A spiral grows from the
plastic cap, like DNA.

You used them for
hooks, sinkers and
swivels.

I dug through your red
bag of tackle, rolled
like a scroll.

Velcro cracks as
I peel it. Grains of
beach sand dance on
the plastic skin.

My fingers skip like an
excited jeweller. I hold
a grey weight in my hand.

I looks like a battered pyramid,
scars and scrapes
drawn into geography.

Under the butt there is a
metal loop to tie your line.

“This weight is for the sea.”
My father’s voice turns the
tide of my thoughts.

He tells me the pointed end
digs into the sand.
It holds the bait
that flies a bloody flag.

I finger 2 long
lead weights. dead weight.

Ten years on I can still
feel those dense shapes
in the oyster of my palm.

I can feel the smile spill
through the shrub of your beard.
I can smell the scent of a wooden path.

Brown arms become bronze,
Sea and sweat stick to our stories.
Have I become a fisherman?

Well, almost.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

between the two of us

you are like the wind on a
mountain, your voice is supple.
it weaves through my old furniture
in the house.

my heavy pauses frustrate you.
when I plod from point-to-point
you are already riding rapids
in the rain.

I don’t think it will work out
between the two of us. I sit on
my sofa like a comfortable crab
your hands dance towards the
ceiling, parting curtains
hanging paintings

your fingers stroke the pulse of
sunlight, and my
eyes are buried in a book.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

that afternoon

we sat on the bank
father. son. river. rod.
3 ducks watch us,
they wait for knuckles of bread
we throw out for carp.

“yaa! piss off!” – my father’s arms
writhe in the wind like an angry officer.
i hoist my box of orange juice
i take a swig.
vodka swirls
like a warm hand into my chest.

before our expedition…
i hid in the car, and
my father was the lookout.
the rear door left open,
a suspicious window.
i drained juice from the carton,
my fingers unscrewing caps
a thousand thoughts whirred
in my head as i mixed the booze.

the ducks became bored and left.
my bait starts to swirl in the distance,
a fistful of bread
with a hook in it (half immersed).

“you see that?”
my father starts to twitch, jiggle,
his hands bubble up through the
arms of the camping chair.

rotating bait equals a fish, gently
gnawing, picking, probing
underneath our excitement.

“have another drink Dad!”
“n-n-not now, i have to watch your bait.”
his eyes cut through the afternoon air,
heads of trees watch us,
insects trickle in the distance.

the bait stops.
my father sighs, his shoulders sag
like branches of an old tree,
he has a drink.

it is the last time i will see him,
i crack open a volume of poetry,
ducks chuckle further down the river.

we exchange poems, metaphors, stories
embalmed in the loam of our language.
vodka sways through our sentences,
no more bites.

the moment is perfect.
well, almost. maybe if there was
a bronze body dancing in
my father’s hands?

night draws over us
like a heavy curtain.
our sighs parallel,
our hands collect rods and bags.
two chairs jut out of my arms
like old telescopes.

“you good to go?”
i nod, and we trundle back on
the mud path
where our memories
lie buried.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry, Prose

Instead of killing yourself

 

By Louise Anne Buchler

http://www.starfish-woman.blogspot.com/

 


 

Instead of killing yourself
You could make a cup of coffee, peel an orange, play a song you loved when you were thirteen, gangly, and coming undone.

You could paint your nails turquoise, lie in the sun, master Russian, watch Hitchcock films, read a classic novel, meditate on Kafka, and re-think existentialism, your life, your hair.
Watch trains, wave as they pass, stand on the bridge, feel small, feel big, take up space, walk, count every step, run, run faster, catch your breath, hold it, breathe out, let go, the universe as small as the palm of your hand, dispersed dandelion wishes, let go, let go and in letting go hold on
Say I love you, say I hate you, write a letter to your teenage bully, write a letter to someone you once loved, write a letter with all you wish to say and do not send it.

Lie on the grass, lie on the sand, plant something, keep it alive, feel the mulch under your nails, smell the wet breath of soil, pull out the weeds that choke and mar, make space for spring in your heart.

Tell a secret. Keep one. Fold an origami crane, unfold, fold an origami you, unfold. Listen to an aria, listen to Bach, listen to the symphony of voices in small spaces, pick out words, write them down. Observe everything.

Instead of killing yourself
Get a cat. Get 12 cats. Get one more. Feed yourself small spoons of kindness. Swallow. Repeat. Laugh at one thing, let the laughter engage your whole body; laugh at the madness, stupidity and beauty around you – your inner cynic may vomit (that’s ok). Remember your first race, remember the finish line. Remember yourself at 5,6,7 – remember yourself with love, the pictures you drew, the smell of sugar paper and oil crayons, Defend the scabby kneed, jewel of you, cast a line all the way back, champion that heart through the decades, wrap it in tissue paper, keep it safe in a cardboard box, champion all the incarnations of you. Remember how it felt when you understood that we will all die.

Try not to worry. Try to stay. Focus on sitting still. Focus on moving forward. Focus on the scudding clouds, the clarity of blue, September. Do not let the whim of others alter who you are. People come. They also go, they drown in puddles, they sail us over oceans of self-doubt. Sometimes they love us. Sometimes they understand. Sometimes they release us with a hook-wound back into the sea. Bid them well. Tread water, float, swim. Don’t stop swimming.

Brave explorer, I know you have climbed a hundred metaphorical mountains before breakfast – every damn one an Everest expedition, I know something of world weariness, the longing to be still and Novocain numb, here, where everything ceases to matter, that unbearable anaesthesia; it’s a quiet death and there is never a guarantee on the prescription pamphlet that you will thaw from this freeze – like a celebration roast on your birthday, or that change will come, running down the street with the laboured tinkling of a nostalgic ice cream truck or that you will wake a different person, who sucks positivity like a boiled sweet, a mantra of live! Live! LIVE, in your ears. I hear you, I see you, I send my love to you in droves of doves, a deep pelican beak abundant with fish, a handmade kite on a windy day, “a bright red sloop in the harbour” the suicide poets dancing mid air, their words like seagulls declaring their truth – statements are enough in broken climates. We are adorned in these miseries, the heart’s last vestige, it is a poor fit, we are all runway models with broken limbs, birds who forget their wings, we are stuttering like vintage cars, we are negotiating with our ancestors. We are not broken in need of repair, we never ignore the elephant in the room – instead we festoon it with marigolds, offer up a cup of tea. We know the impermanence of life; we consult with graves every day, toes dipping the surface, surveying the depth. We write our eulogies on the body, the staccato tattoo throbs the ending, we are anxious all the time.

I find a forced conclusion – writing it down I imagine we meet on an autumn day, the first leaves scatter like old news – our hands are cold. We sit in silence, the air perfumed with chimney smoke and the taste of green. We are held in the moment, a devastating despair, we face it together, we sound out sadness, mouthfuls of vowels swelling in gutfuls , escaping the gape, they flap and glide – our glossy winged birds, squawking and calling, diving like bombers, circling like vultures, spinning with sorrow. Perhaps we cry, perhaps we feed them bread crumbs and worms, perhaps we load slingshots with tiny stones and shoot into the void, perhaps we build an ornate birdcage, perhaps we become scarecrows, perhaps we release them, perhaps they return. “I am not ok” we say, “I don’t know if I ever will be” – for a moment the sky clears, we are a strange tragic chorus, we are a sad repetition. The birds abandon their squawking. We nod in recognition.

Standard