Fine Spirits & Wine

This is not my story.

It belongs to the man in front of me in line at the spirit shop, stealing liquor.

 

Old hands with a handle of rum shimmied into a cloth tote touting

Small Business Saturday.

Sir — firstly, it’s Sunday, and you’re not helping business.

 

But as they yelled you out the door, casket of amber glass torn from your grasp,

I understood how you came to be —

stealing

liquor

at 1pm

in Center City

Philadelphia.

 

I’ve been scared myself,

but the stress of time and anxiety of facing God every single day

has hit you so much harder than I. And eye to eye,

I see how the diamond-shaped bottle top looked attractive on the shelf.

 

In removing it to drink you could have used it to cork your achy joints,

plug your malignant growth, stopper your untreated pain.

 

I understand.

 

You could have massaged the liquid down your throat

to fill the empty feeling.

 

You deserve better than your circumstances, Sir.

And while I stood silent as you left,

now I’ll pray for you.

Turned

Before my hips shift and shoulder cuts through the humid air I take one more look at him; swollen eyes falling on rolls of oiled, doughy flesh.

Creases of arm and taught warm belly lay grotesque in the sun, fattened by warmth and by womb.

No bigger than a breadbox, no figment of a dream, he lays swirled in leaves and needles and light beams.

Angelic.

Fragile, and hardy, and tarnished; made in the Image, indeed.

My eyes widen,

A shadow rises like water in the wind and the ghost of a bird settles into a landing on his shoulder.

The tiny dark head fuzz with kisses next to the old, stiff bird is too much for me. The trees stand stoic and my knees sway.

The ghost of the bird stays silent, ready.

My baby lays still with disease-ridden skin and feverish eyes. He will not last the night.

But nor would I if I held him tight. Villages are razed by one, birthright damned, and to the soil returned.

It was a horrific fight. My knees give way to the right, and in the desperate gait of women trained never to run I weave through the trees.

The forest spits me out, and shame consumes me.

The boys are still waiting. They bring me back to the square and lift my palms in the air.

I am hailed a savior, a matron, a bringer of peace. I sank to the ground and still they hold me, like meat.

I Womanhood

The scene.

 

Two women stand on the sidewalk sharing a chocolate cream puff,

Spines bent to me, ravenously protecting their feast.

 

Yellow oozes from their teeth,

Pastry rips softer than cotton, and

Sighs like the breaths of lovers escape their swallows.

A sign touting

Creative Office Environments for Inspired Minds

Hangs behind their heads.

 

I am sitting in a trendy hotdog eatery, people watching.

I do not plan on eating dinner

Or if I eat, I do not plan on eating mine.

 

How brave they are, I think, the women.

All women, really, but these in particular

With their tightly held treat.

 

If confidence is a rolling sea,

Womanhood is defined by pallor and green cheeks.

Your worst days spent slumped

Against the pillory of a toilet seat empty but heaving,

Your best days spent standing in a white dress

On the bow of a sailing ship, gorgeous and starving.

 

The story.

 

Feasting on street corners defies these teachings and

Pallor turns to Pallas. Femininity suddenly means hungry

And women lift the torch to carry inspired minds.

 

I Don’t Cry Much Anymore

My womanhood thus far has been roses and scorn,

full of the trials of not-texting-back and

the chalky taste of multivitamins and not fitting in.

 

“I am …”, I thought at ten, “… a shy girl,”

that’s me, “a shy girl who likes animals.”

 

And now I’m not sure if I like men.

Or this* man,

or graduating early,

or getting too thin.

 

I was taught the subtle art of

arched back, chin up,

one eye on the rear-view kids,

one eye along the road ahead;

trained in graceful knuckles run across

a loved one’s head.

I’m an expert in quiet frustration,

in keeping it in.

And I stopped believing in pain

when my mother caved in.

 

I learnt to worry at the door,

and on the phone,

and in the car.

I learnt the colors of the rainbow

on my knuckles.

I learnt the value of

women,

but most of all

I learnt that

tenderness

is spread much too thin.

Paris

The city of love has more mathematicians than any other city in the world,

and I’ve fallen out of the mould we’re cultured in:

fed a strict diet of rigor and theory and whispers of beauty,

I was caught starving, and out cast.

 

So, jerked awake by the cold tears of an evening in April,

I now roam the streets bloated with hunger,

looking for the light in a city

overwhelmed by smell.

 

If QED is poetry then it’s contradictions I hold holy.

So let there be,

let there be,

a set of poets in Paris more open

than a face, unaware, steeped in peace.

The Mind is the Matrix of All Matter

In the sky we saw the deal we’d been looking for

since the year Max Planck died and then a couple more:

only 19.99 to buy into this divinity.

Own a share of your symbolic God and Oh ! God !

Stock splits, quick, add that s to symbolism, bless the spirits,

split your losses, mend your atoms, hold black bodies to your chest

and build them shelters in this storm, and plank yourself in whatever constants

you can afford.

 

Imagine that shift in frequency –

the ring of freezing lightbulb walls spitting up the harshest light

as your infant spiritual singularity glows a little less bright.

 

Gods are what you make of them, the sky now said,

so quantize the planes above and bathe in this 19.99 rite.

I’m sold.

 

I now own one trillionth of the first recorded prayer:

               on the absolute reality and its planes,

               on that finest spiritual light,

               we meditate, as remover of obstacles,

               this is what enlightenment feels like.

 

Wash Me Better

This time next year

you will not be here,

because homes grow wild

and plenty, my dear.

So relax.

Calm down, take a breath.

Take the riverboat down

to the farthest pier in your nicest dress,

and marvel at the upstream’s roaring press.

Cleansing means churning but clean means calm.

 

You’ve been through this all and more before,

my dear, so

relax.

Calm down.

Take a breath.