I do believe I can feel it
Again at last
That slow trickle of words.
Pooling at the back of my skull
Where it hinges with the spine,
Welling up from below.
The upturned corner of a mouth.
The twinkle in an eye.
The slow ache of a lightly bitten lip…
So often inspiration doesn’t strike
Glides into the room
In a mist of moist matcha steam,
Traces her fingers up my spine,
Smooths out the shirt across my shoulders
And gently brushes my hair back
As she leans in
For a gentle kiss.
by Ellen Bass
The blood flows out of us. So we will bleed.
Blood paintings on our thighs, patterns
like river beds, blood on the chairs in
insurance offices, blood on Greyhound buses
and 747’s, blood blots, flower forms
on the blue skirts of the stewardesses.
Blood on restaurant floors, supermarket aisles, the steps of government
crumbs. We can always find our way.
We’ll feed the fish with our blood. Our blood
will neutralize the chemicals and dissolve the old car parts.
Our blood will detoxify the phosphates and the
PCB’s. Our blood will feed the depleted soils.
Our blood will water the dry, tired surface of the earth.
We will bleed. We will bleed. We will
bleed until we bathe her in our blood and she turns
slippery new like a baby birthing.
Among the dim lights and feathering rain of this city
There is a You that is breathing.
Inhaling oxygen and exhaling
Carbon dioxide and tears.
And dreams and fears too maybe.
Perhaps the You is already
Tucked deep within the many folds
Of sleep and blankets,
Socked toes curling and uncurling.
Perhaps the You is drinking
Steaming tea from some well worn mug
And listening to the rain in the darkness
From Your plant-strewn balcony.
Hearing the same midnight churn.
Swift tires on wet tarmac.
Perhaps the You is still out in the world,
Hair a drizzled damp mess,
Head fizzy and drumming,
The joyful stains of a night well spent
Streaming down Your face.
Well we’ll worry not,
The You and the Me.
Whichever the case may be,
And I am sure that this is true,
I will find the We
That is born of Me and You.
I can’t say I haven’t considered it,
Your cold white thighs sliding open
as easily as a book falling to the floor.
A book of poems, of sketches of stretched contorted faces.
But I too often stride waste deep,
Or shoulder deep upon occasion,
Through the mists of impatience and lust.
Too often I fall victim to the
Siren’s song, the cuckoo’s call.
Not tonight quietless one.
Tonight I will not be drawn by any tacit cacophony.
Your woe filled lamentings fall upon ears
Deafened by emotion and
Stoppered up by the belief
That good things come to those who wait,
And those who wonder.
At night he has a tendency
To put himself in awkward
Situations. He let’s his heart
Confuse his head. Passing
Under street lamps the
Shadows make him feel
As if he is moving in a group,
A troupe of similarly silhouetted
Brethren, but in reality he
Is still walking along alone.
She is a creature of some
Dark, sensitive and obvious.
She plays heavy, bass-filled
Music and swings her hair
To the thumping, throbbing beat.
In crowds she drops her eyes,
Fists clenched, and swears
Under her breath. Every move
She makes is a disaster but one
That has already happened.
Thinking about her now his heart
Races and pearly beads of sweat
Pulse on his brow and down his back.
He begins to pick up his pace,
Slowing only momentarily to look
Back down the street. Back at the
Pools of light and the sea of darkness
Stretched out behind him. He seems
distracted and elsewhere. His eyes dart.
He is running from something.
Only the lonely fear love.
It looms in front of their lives
Beautiful and unobtainable.
They have grasped at it.
Reached out for it with their
Fingers and their hearts.
But those who have fallen
Will fear the fall again
And will avoid the leap.
They have grown comfortable
With their own broken thoughts
And pull them up around them.
More like a warming blanket than
Walls but use whatever metaphor
You wish. We are all dead
Until, finally, we live.
The wind tells me when to leave.
It howls obliquely
And I close my eyes.
It’s a strange fact
but it is the hands that I fear yet again;
The pleading golden ones
Waving in the gale
Or your gently distorted hooks
Twisted around my own.
My eyes are black with thought.
Your skin, the feathers of swans.
Seven of them,
Necks all curled like thumbs,
Beaks like swollen yellowed fingernails.
I pull at the skin around my mouth
And it comes away in my hand
Like sheafs of paper.
Leaflets about fear,
schizophrenia and depression.
I offer you a cup of my love
And you sip at it politely,
Making jokes about Parkinson’s
And the the shivering of my fingers
All about your face.
As they twist away
Into the inky black sky
They remind me more of
Glowing deep sea fish
Vanishing into the ocean at night,
Their bellies full of light and dark,
Colours and blackness.
I wander in my mind
To eastern waters
Where the ornate lamp light glints on the waves
As the fishermen dip their arms in up to their shoulders
And the cormorants call out to each other in the darkness.
But a drip,
A drop of hot wax on my cheek
Like a burning tear,
Forces me to resurface.
So I reach out my hand to yours
And we fill our lungs up full of the new year,
With all its yearning and triumphs and terrors,
While the neighbours begin
The chorus of that song.
The one where I can never quite remember
All of these stars above us
Are as distant as your eyes
On the days when you betray,
The days you dream about him.
On those days I am a dreamer too.
I am a dancer in the dark, my mind
Full of deep reds and cigarettes,
Flower boxes and the Suffolk coastline.
Your gaze, for now, drifts back to me.
Your stars shimmer in a haze and vanish.
I relish the hours of neglect
And dream of days and her.
In the back of the car
At night, speeding past.
My old friends the streetlights
Vanish as we approach ever
Loftier heights. I am torn between
My life in reality and the dream,
Incredible as ever: in the relative
Coolness the memory of your
Breath hot on my skin. The tiny
Hairs raise their heads to praise
The head winds. Similarly the trees
Bow and creak and your eyes,
in the dark, are closed.
If, in some far off distant hereafter,
I should weaken with thoughts
Of your curling smile and
rough hewn ideas about
The inception of life, love,
The universe and everything
And send to you some
Pathetically earnest words
Of nostalgic forgetfulness,
Just promise me this:
That you will take pen to paper
And record in ink if you can,
As truthfully as possible,
All the ways that I have hurt you.
Then seal it with some wet ordeal
Into some crisp white envelope
And loose it upon me.
I ask you this simply so that
I may remember
Who I really am.