46

{ morning }

the early hour strikes like a beating heart,

soft and radiant,

and time rolls in and out again;

rises and falls without beginning or end,

and all the while an entire orchestra playing pianissimo alongside the crickets in the ambient atmosphere.

the descending glow of the Guiding Star rises in me,

dances across my heart,

then all too swiftly

departs, before i can record

that tune.

photo: @stolenpainting

45

{ Napoleon was a poet }

soft light falls like hair around my eyes,

paints my cold skin the color of amethysts,

reminds me that a diamond is not so important,

and cannot keep me warm at night.

there is madness in the sky at this solitary hour;

the moon’s dull glow frantically searches for some hope

to replace what was loved at noon

and displaced at midnight;

but it would be a mistake

to pity this ol’ mare—

even the oldest and wisest blindly follow the dance,

mistaking art for something serious.

curious flowers with their ruby lips and inquiring eyes

glance askance in my direction, but pay me no mind.

crowded around a tall oak

conferring amongst themselves,

they say that Napoleon was a poet,

and proceed to speak to me without indifference,

as if we know each other.

bats, all in rhythm, go chasing each other,

their shadows twist between my fingers,

swarm around my head,

like insects, like smoke;

they leave me to rest beneath the spectacle where

i am alone among foreign scents, feeling at home

between their movements,

bored and waiting

for the mist to encroach and the dew to form.

.

.

.

Photo: @mr.babies

44

{ Ananke }

day exhales,

deep from her belly as she sighs,

her gentle breath

sweeps across the grass,

ushering in the night,

tickles the gossamer wings of young maids on a nearby swing,

they giggle and writhe with glee.

summer leaves rustle impatiently —

wink in my direction.

bluebirds and robins whistle down stream,

whispering to each other between melodies,

a secret from another place,

songs of innocence

and of experience

tease my hair and kiss my cheeks

with the affection of tender moments that were never mine,

calling out to be remembered,

in exchange for more time.

fireflies don their evening garments,

the sun, sinking behind clouds,

oozes oil painted rose petals,

sweet sounds of honey

drip, drip, drip

into the wind and rush along its rivers.

a rogue wave subsumes the glow of evening.

how full of stars was the world that night—

open arms of eternal summer

stretched out to catch me just in time;

how kind was destiny that night.

[ photo: Harri Peccinotti, 1969 ]

41

{ moments alone at night }

tranquil,

moved by the darkness

and the spectacle of the constellations.

surrounded on all sides,

infinities

deeply hidden in every direction;

revealing identical forces within me…  

a sense of something departing,

something descending—

mysterious exchanges…

contemplating

the fragility of the future,

the eternity of the past—

dichotomy in unity—

strange agreement…

in my soul,

whatever that is,

a deep respect for the

mystery which envelops me…

but who can accept these

mysteries without examining them,

if it were so,

they would not be human.

.

.

photo: @city_scum

37

{ death of a stoic }

she sits

like a good little girl,

well behaved, which she’s been told is best,

with good posture and a pretty little smile,

like a good little girl.

one day she will be blind

like the rest of us,

trying so hard,

struggling against the tide

in vain—in vain!—

but i do not pity her,

i’m not so vacuitious.

we sit together,

in this whimsical waiting room

with the many other patients

also waiting.

how peculiar

we must look.

so absorbed in it,

so full of it.

how pitiful we must look.

so stuck in it,

sinking,

inch by inch, into the void—

everything beautiful

tangled up in decay,

swallowed up by it.

the finality is overwhelming, and yet,

somehow i’m indifferent,

even bored with it.

a stoic,

sitting quietly by,

as everything mysteriously withers and

i am allowed to keep nothing.

no longer bothered

by the madness.

impervious to it,

grinning while

choking on it,

enjoying myself while

i wait—in vain!—

for what, i’m not sure.

[ photo: “Falling Slowly” by photographer, Brooke Shaden ]

36

{ chiaroscuro }

i recognize them all,

the undesirables,

the windows to my soul.

round and round they go,

somewhere down

in that place—

locked inside a dream

within a dream—

untouched and untouchable.

cloaked in darkness and

by the light of the moon,

shadows,

settle around my heart—

dreadfully gray, diaphanous waves

drifting and swirling

like leisurely cigarette smoke

around my heart,

whispering something

indecipherable.

a thick,

sticky voice,

a redolent voice,

echos forever

in that place, where

space and time are distorted,

where nothing,

not even light, can escape,

where my devil has been long caged.

beautiful, annihilating

darkness there and nothing more—

that’s my madness.

i know there are no honest people,

only better liars,

but a dream never lies,

madness never lies.

[ photo: ‘The Remembrances of the Soul’ by photographer Michael Vincent Manalo ]

34

you’re gone, and

you took your love with you

on your way

out the door.

you were my last cigarette,

now,

i don’t smoke anymore.

what a shame

it is to be human,

what a burden

is the heart,

love is only

beautiful,

when it’s

portrayed in art.

robbed of my vice,

with nothing

to show,

except a hole in

my chest

where your love used to be,

not long ago.

how easily tender memories

are swept up and away

like smoke, or a cloud

on a windy

winter’s day.

how quickly love is

betrayed by fearful

gluttony—

you left with my last cigarette,

not even the ashes are here

to comfort me.

[ photo: photo by Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison ]

31

sitting quietly on the bench,

looking up at the night sky—

a vast, gaping abyss,

alive with brightly shining stars,

a reflection in my eye,

all looking down at me,

looking up at them—

a smirk crosses my face and

lingers there.

whatever souls are made of,

i saw mine out there.

i close my eyes and

press my fingertips against my eyelids,

trying to imprison,

within my mind,

an image

i never wanted to forget.

whatever beauty is,

it’ll never compare.

[ photo: photo by @seamlessoo ]

30

{ dorian gray }

i think it a terrible curse to be a woman.

at times, when i

look in the mirror,

i imagine

i’m seeing a teary-eyed,

young girl—

robbed of her innocence,

deprived of love, and

grasping at fading beauty.

the girl always asks me:

what happened to you?

and while staring deeply into my own

tired eyes,

i’ll tell her that i paint my face

for myself,

that i wear uncomfortable clothes and shoes

for myself,

that i remove my body hair and

keep my skin soft and

smooth like a child’s

for myself,

that i’m not hungry.

and to this, she’ll ask:

why do you do it?

to be beautiful?

but i simply shake my head because

i know that youth makes her naive, and

she doesn’t understand that

the reason i behave this way is

not so obvious.

i’ll tell her that,

beauty is just a means to an end, and

the reason i do it all is

so that she can be happy.

then, i’ll tell her not to worry, that

i’ve got it all under control.

day to day, i see the same

tired eyes, that i see in my reflection, in

the faces of other women

passing on the street, and

i imagine that each of them,

while standing in front of their bathroom mirror,

stares intently into her own reflection, and tells the

eyes of her younger self that she’s happy, too—

that she’s in control, too.

i imagine, like me,

she’ll say whatever she needs to say, and

she’ll say it for years,

hoping that soon

someone will love her for

her beauty,

but, like me, she knows

somewhere in her heart that won’t happen,

that she’s not in control,

that none of her lies are true,

that beauty is the enemy of happiness, and

the enemy of love.

it is the tragedy that befalls every woman,

that by the time she realizes the truth,

it’s already too late—

her youth

is gone, her beauty

has faded,

the curse has already done its work,

and she finds herself,

standing in front of a mirror,

explaining to the eyes of her younger self

that she has everything under control.

[ photo: photo by @cecile_hoodie via @witchyfeelings_ ]