Baltimore

Image courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine

Pulled my anchor from this harbor
Years ago.
Yet the current pulls me back,
Some irritant speck,
Yet to yield a pearl,
In the soul,
Some rough edged
Needless need chafes away
Until confession is made
And a pilgrimage to graves
Must be paid—

There is no why to this–
This steel wrought laundry list
To be run down and checked through

A visit, a meal eaten
At the landmark restaurant,
Where new owners chiseled hieroglyphics
over a history of years when
the landmark lived across
A narrow brick paved street
And my family lived upstairs,
Erasing my mother’s sacrifice
Of bloody fetal tissue,
My fraternal twin,
On the bathroom floor there
While I hung on to be born.
But such bloody sacrifice
Doesn’t sell cheeseburgers,
Greek salads, and over easy eggs,
A fairytale of family ownership-
Sells well and makes for spots
On reality television shows.

A drive by the childhood home,
Sentimentality at its highest,
Revisit the torture chamber
It became—
A wooden yardstick and when it broke,
A metal one I had to buy to be taken
Across my back by a drunken mother
Until the skin broke open to bleed.
.
Why the drive by?
Who the hell knows?
When all I’d like to see
Is it all disappear—

Then the statue of Christ
In Hopkins Hospital lobby, a must see.
Where I stood as a teen
Confessing the darkest
Thing upon my soul—
A part of me wishing
My mother had died
In that surgery of fifteen hours
The other part thanking Jesus
she had lived.

Then the graves,
To place some flowers,
Talk a bit to the air,
Turn my soul inside out
To find it dusty and dirty again.
We can think our souls clean
Until turning them inside out—
That is where we find the grime
Of all the living done.

I visit my brothers,
The man who was my real father,
Then on to the man I thought was,
And then my mother,
The saint she was,
The monster she became.
At her grave, my soul aches the most,
Tweezing thorns left from her old rose bushes and my own,
Turning itself inside out,
Leaving all the grime and dirt behind,
Or so it feels.

Then on to visit with what is left of the living.
And though, I love the living,
There is little, so little–
To charm me into staying.
But the currents, the tides
Of some blood element,
Like an ancient memory,
Bring me back
From time to time.

This is Baltimore—
for me.

 

Periphery

Image is my own. Taken at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

VJ’s Weekly Challenge: peripheral – One Woman’s Quest II (onewomansquest.org)

Periphery

The whitest teeth

Of one brother’s smile.

Hair so black

The curls shine blue,

My mother’s hair

A forehead with a line

Of slicked back black hair,

My real father.

Clark Kent glasses,

The frames of the coke

Bottle bottom glasses,

My other brother.

The whisper of an accent

mingles with scent of Old Spice cologne,

the man I thought was my father–

Fleeting things—

Such imagery captured briefly

In the corner of the senses

Some strange trick of heart and mind—

The mind’s empty, missing parts perhaps

Playing the trickster

With edges of the senses,

So we think we see, hear, smell

The seeds of things we grieve.

Images of the dead

Cannot be real.

Such things as ghosts

Do not exist.

These ephemeral flashes

Of the senses share no breath,

No grace of God gives life

To them as they melt away

Before a half breath

Can be taken.

So, I stood

Still

Afraid to breathe

Afraid to blink

Or let the tears

That gathered fall

When I saw

A lion’s mane of hair

As you tilted your head back

To smile—

For six years—

I had not seen you

Felt you

At all–

Until

I stood

Gazing at Van Gogh’s

Field with Irises near Arles–

Your favorite flower—

Irises–

and art you loved—

the first time

in six years,

I feel you nearby—

I am stilled—

Until

Someone else moves

Beside me,

A distraction,

And you are gone.

But you linger with me

Like a wonderful and strong

perfume

Whispered Tales

Image courtesy of Pinterest.com

A phoenix rises in flames

From out the left side of my chest

With feathers of flame yet,

Set free to fly where it wills.

 

One day, it will return,

Nuzzling deep inside my chest again,

All the ashes gone,

All flame having died away,

Its fiery colored feathers

Whispering, singing to my blood

Of beauty seen,

Of tantalizing things touched,

Of all the air breathed, smelled, felt,

Of the sounds soft and harsh heard

All along the way around the earth.

 

Through the whispered tales

Of those fiery feathers

My blood will tell me

Where I am to go.

 

Decision on a Birdfeeder

image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

 

I hesitate in remembrance

as if the fates would choose

a day of gray and leave me there,

as if a blossoming could be had upon

a second visitation to any day.

 

The creamer clouds disperse and swirl

in my extra strong coffee

like memories of things I wanted–

never had, never attained

all those years ago.

 

Stirring the coffee still,

I stare out the kitchen window.

Decide against a bird feeder

filled with black oil sunflower seeds.

I do not want cardinals here.

People say cardinals are spirits

of those you’ve lost come to visit you—

No.  I want no cardinals here.

No spirits of the lost to visit or say hello.

No twittering or chittering away.

No vibrancy of color outside this window.

No.  Not here.  Not in this place.

 

I’d rather this be a spiritless place,

A virgin place, void of spirits, void of touch—

 

At least for a time

 

 

 

Emerge

Image is my own

 

Days lengthen,

The sun returns

In an earnestness

We have not seen in months.

Not yet does the earth send warmth

Enough to climb through the soles of our feet–

Not yet warmth enough to creep onward up our legs,

Stretching, reaching toward our souls,

Where I carry the wish I have of you

One day, perhaps—

Perhaps, I may find the courage to grasp

In an aching, aging hand the bone to break

And set loose the wish I have of you.

Song of My Sisters

Image courtesy of Storytrender.com

A daily battle with memories,

Offering emptiness,

Even the sparkle of gem like happiness,

Leaving small smiles for the moment—

Before tears begin.

Standing separated

From the ashes and earth

We once kissed and touched so tenderly,

All we embrace now—air,

Some ephemeral being of memory

As voice and smile and laughter fade.

Some of us,

Too many, told too often,

By those once precious, counted family,

Our grief, less than, less meaningful,

Really nothing more than dust,

Containing no rawness of a bloody heart.

Thus, I voice, singing the lament

Of my sisters in widowhood,

As we wait for our souls to soar–

To take flight once again.

When each in her turn is ready,

Able to begin,

Renewed,

Emerging, uncurling, however slowly,

From our blanketing storm clouds of grief,

Wings wet, drying in the sun.

The Sixth New Year

The year ends with heavy rains

As if to wash us all clean

Of the leavings and grime.

 

Now, standing with each year

For each foot of earth

Between us forever—

I gather to me

Broken pieces of colored glass

And think of—

 

Just after midnight,

An early morning

Long before dawn—

The third day of a new year six years ago,

You left in blinding, flooding rains.

 

If only on this third day

Of this new year—

I could open the earth

And roll a stone away,

Bringing you back from under

This six feet of earth.

 

But I have neither the strength

Nor the talent

For miracles great or small

When most days

There is not enough

Left over to become

A mosaic of brokenness.

 

Sleeplessness

Image courtesy of Wikiart.com

Sleeplessness always told the story

Between the here and the now

The between and

What she thought a game

The tracks that led to nowhere

The last section of a living

Something not well lived

A swirl of memory

Piercing through knots

could not be undone

She had lived with no plan

With only a heart that failed

More than once

A heart she could not ever trust

A heart that spoke in religious tongues

She’d yet to understand

Its rhyme or reason for speaking

In lies and whispers,                                            

For leading her astray,

For leading her to abandon her dreams and plans,

She would never know.

This was her last act, in her last years,

To strip herself of harlequin clothes.

 

Who I am

Image courtesy of Wallpaperbetter.com

VJ’s Weekly Challenge #123: warrior – One Woman’s Quest II

I tire

Slaying demons,

Not my thing.

 

I’ve chased

Misplaced

Braced

For the reckoning

Of evil deeds.

I’ve offered up my neck

To bring utter happiness

And still—

Nothing would do

Till cutting myself in half

To dig, dig, dig deeper,

Bury the self beneath the soil–

The dirt of need, want, desire

Lay it all to rest in the infertile

Grime, the level of your rule,

To be consumed by rot

Of prayers you pretend to answer,

But you are neither God nor Goddess,

Despite all your pretentiousness.

 

In this, this turning away,

I offer up prayers

To God and Goddess that truly be,

And I do lay down the sword

I used in battle with myself:

Thus, I become the warrior

I was meant to be.