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.

 

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.

Thank You For The Sundays

Something they don’t tell you is that there’s a magic garden

in every courtyard in Philadelphia.

Gardens made of glass, and tears, and gunfight.

 

And through it all, as the sun sets,

roses creep out of window-barred pots and slither to the streets –

every atom in the city chasing that faint ocean air.

 

The city of symmetry, city of two rivers – entre fontaines,

je t’aime from here to there and back again,

the Atlantic rolls between us.

 

In the meantime, I’m eating up spoonfuls of Sundays

I’m all too willing to give.

 

And in this time I’ve hidden myself in every corner of the city,

every bustle in the suburbs, here I am,

sarcastically.

 

Found in yarn stores in South Philly,

fingers running through the strands

despite the weight of cheesesteak in my hand.

 

Resting the holy hollow of my body in a Temple cot in summer;

ring around my toe and vision hazed

in vodka-sparkled saturation.

 

On my knees in a bathroom or two in West Philadelphia

setting tiles in the floor of a soon-to-be home

so a single mother can breath a little easier for a little while.

 

And out here on the Main Line,

wrapped in white sheets, a pen in my mouth,

listening to that goddamned bell toll,

 

Waiting for the gift of Sunday exploration

in the holy city of gardens and love.

FEAR

Mothers watch with weary, wary, tired eyes

from doorways and corners on every continent of this godforsaken world.

 

Stepping on cracks did, in fact, break their backs

but they bite their withered tongues and train their skin to shield the pain.

 

They watch their children

and the men they’ve become,

 

and they see girls weathering their withering tongues:

training them to speak in rhymes and riddles

and to speak no ill,

 

and they see girls growing thick their skins

ridding them of the ghosts of hairy hands

and men hunting them for the thrill.

 

The daughters get buried alive

in guilt and unheard rage and the weight of blood-ripped skin.

 

This pain wears and wars their tired eyes,

and as mothers of unwanted kin they cloak their eyes in shadow,

backs breaking from within.