Tag Archives: Poetry

Purge

There is something stopping me. A cork lodged sideways in Sauvignon, I feel like I am eighteen again, prying that pressed bark from dark glass with a fork. Using every object but the real thing to remove the blockage. Like my young hands leveraging the fork, I try to find substitutes.

Yoga in the morning, reading again from the Charlotte Bronte novel I can only digest piece by piece, long sips of coffee, pulling the caffeine behind my eyes, bus rides to unseen corners of the city. All these forks I try, but I am a firm believer in not forcing myself.

I never want to feel writing as that proverbial monkey, and I don’t want the comfort of losing myself in lyric to slip from my grasp. But as with any love, roadblocks in my writing deserve attention. This is the labor of love.

I can talk the circumference of a million circles new and exciting, but I can’t quite calculate the heart.

I am in a new city, yes, but what new stone hasn’t been overturned somewhere else? To take a page from the eternal Bronte, I’ll address you, fair reader, and ask selfishly, what should I do?

Do you want more flowery drawings of nature? Recitations of journies sat on bus seats, rides on new metro systems? Imagined stories I derive from ancient paint? A ranking of the best places to place my high-maintenance coffee order?

Maybe. But right now, my pen cannot ink those words in a new way.
I want to return to these light-hearted topics, to revel in the beauty of the simplest moments I find in each day, but right now, I do not know how. Whether it is a classic case of burnout, a symptom of the sputtering broken heart that started my Summer, or a touch of that delightful writers’ block all us creatives experience, it doesn’t really matter. I need a purge.

I need to cleanse myself of all the little pieces and poems that are choking my bottleneck. So here is the cork, the pieces I am spitting out slowly, the pressed oak I’ve dismissed in previous posts and I am finally coughing from my throat.

The Three-Year-Old Paper Clip I Keep On My Pocket

something so small it becomes a feeling
something your eyes learn to ignore
unnecessary information, unworthy of sight
until it’s gone.
it’s the opposite of an aberration,
whatever this is,
but just as eerie when it leaves.
I can feel myself growing more abstract
each day I spend in my own world.
one day I’ll be modern art,
that red square
selling for millions to millionaires
who purse their lips and whisper to each other,
“do you get it?”
“I do.”
they lie,
their gold bracelet wrists bend under sculpted jaw,
and they nod because they think there is a point.
but what makes art but the lack of words to describe what we feel.
we fill in these gaps,
hoping some arrangement of letters or colors will unlock meaning
like magic.
what if my art is just this filler?
will you need magic to understand me?
I’m not hard,
not expensive.
I’m as simple as a toddler paperclip,
bent and flexed around a flap of denim.
the denim is not important; none of this is,
but it’s the piece of silver that makes it worth it.
the glint of metal that makes it mine,
so special in the way it sits, ordinary.
arms in shallow spread,
reaching to hold onto something important.

Growing Pains

I miss the morning moments,
when my body grew different each day.
Time spent discovering the curves to my edges,
realizing what my body could do,
where it could stretch,
how it could bend,
learning the limits to my bones and
how they snapped as I broke myself
over a crack in the concrete.
Now I only grow inside.
New synapses accentuate the curves of my brain.
Knowing my body and teaching it to others,
I learn what their bodies say and what they mean
breaking my insides
over the cracks in their promises.

Self-Gratification

Do I write for the love of watching
my own ink line the page?
Do I love the control of curling each letter,
a tendril of intention?
Is it that I want to see
my words stick to each other,
cursive delicacies I gift myself?
This self-indulgence in letters that breeds
pride in violating their classroom rules.
Am I addicted to the smile that clicks ignore
on red underlines?
All this is more modest
than screaming my name in a crowd,
but hardly humble.
How can I feign humility
on the sanctity of the open page as I
grip it, host myself spilling forth,
and ask you
read this.

Here is the Truth

One month of stamina burned through
everything I ever wanted,
but I am still here. And
I am paranoid,
for the first time in ages.
I think about him constantly
& drink about him often
all over again,
after weeks of solace.
What if I just drown myself
in Red Wine and Aperol
rather than sun & steps forward?
I think I hear Rush on the loudspeaker,
but to be honest, I hear my own voice louder.
Asking if I can just let myself drink
until my lips choose another’s
over another glass of wine
& maybe if I were younger, I would.
Or if it wasn’t just me,
a world away & alone,
perhaps I could give in and not sit
solitary & sober.
What glory of stupid youth this would be,
to go to the same Mexican restaurant
across from my Austrian apartment
& order €2.50 drinks all night
until all I know is walking home.

The Same Words I Hear In My Head Each Time I Walk Outside

Listen to the timeless symphonies of leaves on leaves
See how bark liters the same space
where sprouts reach their green heads from hours of shade
Or watch the soft plummet of curled brown arms
as they break from steam
These are the lyrics, the only real ones
Silver circles signal away birds from their garden
Blinding my eyes with each turn of the wind
How slow can we break from ourselves
How many times can we break from blindness and return to it
Forsake our own cycles for this natural reverence
and curl back like fetal flesh into ourselves
each morning

The man with the pink cast looks over his lashes through the window

& at first I was offended.
Another male figure taking the liberty
of a perfect view of me,
sat up & prettily in the sun,
eyes tracing pages and lines.
Now, caught in glance myself,
I can’t help but sit straighter.
Easy voyeur, performing myself for him,
smile curling with my pages,
slowing my throat as I sip my coffee,
eyes caught on his in earnest.

Land of the free man & home of big britches.

these stomachs stretching
50 buttons til they pop
some strained more than others
plastic flying one by one
while some hold on by white thread
fortified by the twisted integrity
of a population who defines the word differently

its time for new clothing
whoever said classic doesn’t go out of style
was lying to cover a country with bleach
so all would ignore the big eyesore
the oozing from the same ignorant sores, from the
elbow, where all come together,
resting against its own skin
unable to see how it rubs itself raw

When I Was Afraid of Spiders

my spine crawled at the sight
eight legs pin pricking points along my back
a myriad of eyes sparkling into mine
toes curled at this contact.
Now arachnidan figures hanging loose
from tented ceiling don’t shake me.
Instead, my eyes close and rest easy,
spine riddled rather by the harsh reality
of the rest of this sleeping-bagged world.

Where are we Ourselves?

I am most myself in a crowd
If I fall, here, it is real.
There are eyes to see and mouths to laugh
as mine do,
at every folly. But
there are two beings inside of me.
There is Caroline,
made & maintained
by all those who see her.
She is beautiful & happy
red-faced & laughing.
Then there is me,
and I have no name.
I am just a something,
something that comes from inside.
I stare with Caroline’s face
& debate the center of being.
Am I her brain?
All her intrusive and intrinsic thoughts?
Or am I in the face?
The identifying cue to her name
that feels different each time it burns into our retinas.
Or is that just it? Am I her eyes?
Trapped in these green iris depths,
at the glittering point of our envisioned world.

Red Wine Lips

I want to lick hers, over there
or his, just the same
red & dripping- fresh & warm- flesh & wanting.
Do you think they would mind?
If I drowned in cherry & took the headache like a pill,
blue first, then swallowing the oxidized color
choking on the glass.
Do you think they would care?
If red passed between us, like a secret.
If we looked the same
& the slices were just stomped grapes
sinking into the anemic feeling
sinking into the barrel, aging.
Could you tell the difference between us,
if you only saw us from inside
pressed and trampled fruit.
I’ll blow smoke over us,
if she is me & him & I watch all of us,
dancing
there, with flowing hair & drenched trousers.
Can you tell which exhale is warm air,
and which is air burning?
Can you tell who I am?
Red.
Like a fallen apple, but those can be green too.
Ripe & ready to be juiced,
I am all the colors in between.

Just Because You Mean What You Say Doesn’t Mean You Are Telling The Truth

Bristle pulls through the gold that hangs
in tangles from my head.
Start from the bottom,
we all know this, it hurts less,
& work your way to the scalp.
Tease the strands into straight lines
like straight foreplay &
with a quick flick from the same stroke over & over
see how the ends omit a faint mist-
a second shower,
this one for dust
as it falls to the floor.
I wish I could live there,
be a single strand floating
in the post-soap soft cloud where all is
washed & not red, scrubbed & not raw.
I want to glow from places other than my hair.
From that empty hall inside,
the space I must gargle and rinse out of me
with salt.
Spitting out its pieces like the second mist
of spring snow.

Remodels

when we assaulted my childhood bathroom
my father and I armed ourselves
with hammers and saws and sandpaper
first we stripped paint from the walls
layer after layer
we peeled pink after purple
and took back the yellow I asked for years ago.
I grabbed hammer in the iron-clad grip children seem to possess
& wrecked havoc
broke walls into their naked beauty,
smashed through the second door that made everything too small
all while my father sawed in half
the tub we could never bleach white enough
and from the empty space I pulled
powder and nails before we paused
looked upon a paper cup with plastic straw
preserved by working hands in the hallow walls of the room
long before I was built

Construction

climbing over you is nothing
but building a wall backward
taking plaster from planks
pulling on that pink cotton candy
that’s where you are,
you are the fleshy fiberglass
sparkling at me with your supposed soft
that cuts each hand
reaching for your false pink.

Chambery Charm

Though my reason for this morning trip to Chambery is far from ideal, as I sip my Cafe Glace, I can feel my bones loosen as the city’s charm works its magic on me.

So much empty space reaches its body from market to market, from boutique to cafe. Ancient cobblestone polished by the tracks of over 700 years of foot traffic. The light steps of locals trace these ghosts of Sovie’s 1295 kingdom capital, and it is hard to be upset about my little tragedies.

My waterlogged laptop, the bike gear tear in my jeans, the broken teeth of my expensive wallet zipper, and the never-ending soap drama of getting prescriptions in a foreign country. Okay, I am still upset about the laptop, but really, I shouldn’t be.

How many people have trampled over this very spot with no grasp of what the word laptop could possibly mean? How many trousers have been torn from ankles here? I am lucky to have coins to spill from my wallet, and experiencing another country is a gift I will never regret.

Privilege checked for the moment, my mind can wander from red roof to gray tower, awed by the morning mist that enchants Chambery’s center even further.

I can see eras of petticoats catching on the stone underfoot. The same stone clacked by horseshoes and soothed by wooden wheels for hundreds of years. Ivory canes stamp the places in between, and language passes like a human symphony. Moss grows in tufts along pale walls and collects in green patches where stone and cobblestone make their corner, forever.

Amid the regular chatter, my ears pick up on the sound of English from the table beside me. I overhear one woman, dressed in green beaded lace that travels from collar to floor, telling her knit sweater companion that “you cannot truly be yourself in front of others. That is simply the performance of self.”

I have heard this remark before, and though I have previously decided it doesn’t strike in me a complete note of truth, it does spur delicate digestion of the words.

Staring

Which me will I dress in today?
I flip through endless hung selves in mirrored closet,
What does it mean to perform for others?
Is the self another? Does the girl I touch from inside count
as a swollen head, tracking the movement of her limbs? My limbs.
Do I have to belong to anyone?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
but what if it’s not beauty but being?
We belong to our beholders, to the eyes
wandering along scrubbed skin. The eyes that
climb the length of our bodies & burn our image
in the back of our retinas, just like science class.
You- there. The you that is me,
the one I see in flipped phone camera,
do you see me- some faceless puppeteer?
Or is it her you see? Pretty & Confident & Smiling
at the lens. The same being regarded
by marbles, inlaid in friendly heads.
They have seen so many girls.
Spent years seeing a teenage basket case
and observing an accomplished woman,
watching a comic, a sad girl, a girl full of laughs too late at night.
Do they mean their words when they purr them to my ego?
When we smash our faces together and smile?
There is nothing to do but laugh at the other eyes,
the yellowed and bloodshot who whistle
from mut mouths.
Twisting unintelligible words through yelps and howls.
They see fresh meat walking- how miraculous- an object
they window shop and wish they had the year and money to buy.
Even their selves are elusive. A moment
changed by the next, but this I know.
All staring eyes trace the outline of my back
and imagine what lies beneath. Sometimes
thin and rumbling ribs, or a heart beating & bleeding
fresh and blue, still a lace cage of bone. This I know.
I am a woman,
shaped by those who see her. Owned
by all versions of the truth.

This weekend, the 17th and 18th of September, France hosts the “Journees du Patrimoine.” In Chambery, the celebration of French heritage means that their historical attractions are open and free for the public.

Aside from the buzz of museum patrons and sightseeing families, the town swells with the typical Saturday traffic of its weekly market.

The pedestrian square overflows with vendors of all kinds. Large cheese trucks with flagrant fair, vegetable tables bright with organic orange and local green. Other vans open their doors to hanging meat, and farmers create castle walls from crated chickens. The hens scream through beaked mouths when his rough hands bind their red flailing legs, and I can’t help but cringe away from the sound and sight.

It feels so cruel to shove life into cardboard boxes, even if the strapped and peddled journey leads to a happy home, to a daily life of eggs and stroked feathers. Even if their small life serves infant hands as they are both taught about the circle of life.

It still feels wrong.

Chicks & Chickens

Is there anything worse than life in a box?
Strangled semblance of a free-beating heart.
The heart still bleeds.
Even if you can’t see it.
Even if you lock it away.
Even if you close your eyes & scream.
You will still smell iron, dripping.
Metallic nature will lick on your tongue,
the veins caught in your teeth.
This is the way of life. This is the fate
of the delicate & delicate hearted.
If you can’t fight & win with bare hand, you are weak.
Because words can’t break the force of muscled arms,
elbows locked around necks stop the sound from echoing.
Words are latent. They slither,
poison like Eve’s serpent.
Lingering in that empty space between ears & biting
after its smart tongue has been severed.

A walk through the loud market brings me to my true objective, the Musee de Beaux-Art de Chambéry.

Entering the former grain hall, its sliding door entrance lacks the awe of the paintings inside. Mounting its three flights of stairs and resting my eyes on painted canvas and wood, I begin to enjoy the quiet beauty of this Savoie art.

The museum houses a small collection of art from the Middle ages to the 20th century, focusing on beautiful renditions of the region’s landscape and religious paintings. The landscapes are soft and understated as the religious works boast gold and violence in their typical fashion.

Among the others, one painting stands out for its subtlety and elegance, despite the hints of violence that lie beneath first glance.

Judith Presentant la Tete d’Holophere Vers
Mattia Preti

Draw violent lines into soft curves.
Light reflects on faces from imagined source,
but the faces are imagined too, and
aren’t we all?
All our digits & prints just figments of some God’s imagination.
Some say life makes no sense without a Him,
without their voices singing hymns to Him in the sky.
But isn’t that the point of all this?
Nothing is meant to make sense, nothing is meant to do anything
but live.
Isn’t living all the more magical this way?
What is living but a waking dream of life?
Our dream. Our life.
Our violence and our severed heads
rolling.
Who’s to say that is the end?
Perhaps like stars, our souls burst into that same dust of being.
Perhaps our faces come home as the earth takes flesh from bone.
Isn’t this more magical than heaven?
Isn’t nature more righteous?
The rivers that chisel rock & the drops that dew our skin
are followers of no right or wrong.
All they know is stardust. Gravity,
the buzz of perpetual motion inside ourselves,
the falling and severing of molecules,
love & hate stirring between lips & hands
is just movement.
All the same, as we are.
It all gets kinder
if we stop straining to know anything for certain.
Some things just fall from the sky like rain,
all bodies are flooded with dust & some self we named soul,
and life just flows,
leaving rocks & the rigid behind.

One Year.

After nearly a year of forgoing caution and letting baggage float away in soft waves, dropping the heaviest from BA passenger planes over the Atlantic, my whirlwind love has been severed. In the following collection, my heart beats in erratic morose code and bleeds fresh and fragrant with the unbridled flood that flows from first real love. Some written at the precipice, the peak, the fall, and all riddled with the fire I felt burning and tied myself to until all that was left was smoke and bone. Here lay the pieces, and I hope you enjoy picking them up.

Fall

Waking up without you is like chewing gum instead of brushing your teeth.

boy&santorini

it was nothing at first

sat across from me on the patio

nursing a cigarette and

it makes my head spin now but then 

I didn’t even notice how much I was paying attention

how much I liked the way his lips tugged and his eyes softened

as he took each drag from his cigarette 

Grecian Aubade.

5 am, I wake to a rustling.

Hasty hands scrambling in the bunks below.

7 am, I feel salt under my brows,

under my eyelids, 

saltwater washes over new bodies.

You, next to me, consumed me 

like the waves that stripped us raw.

3 am last night, friends made mistakes

as we played out our own transgressions,

but I feel more than Catholic guilt this morning.

By 9 am, you wake,

we kiss because we’ve kissed before.

When you leave me in bed,

it’s to come back with bottles of water, 

the object of my throbbing head’s greatest desire. 

10 am is too long 

I tell you, I have to go.

11 am sees you cross the abyss, 

between dock and deck,

five hours late to meet your friends.

They are there, but not waiting, 

right there 

at the harbor.

The next 11 greets me above your name.

Your voice streaming tears down the screen–

you meant everything the night before. 

I cry too, I don’t know who for,

but a tear falls from my cheek,

as I whisper to you.

I love you too.

never have i been so sure.

i don’t understand how i am sitting here, 

a pillar of sparks

lit up by nothing more than the heart that beats inside a boy 

a million miles away,

and im not scared.

Not in any real way. 

I am terrified, 

of the feelings i have and the daydreams that circle my mind.

I am frightened,

By the way, my heart jumps when i see his name and pounds when i see his face.

But i am not scared. 

Not of him. Not of me. 

For some strange reason

When i close my eyes- When i think of the reality of him,

I feel safe. 

Signs. 

You are everywhere, walking in whispered visions through my mind.

Your name written in mine like we’ve been written together before.

You wear black on black every day like what I wanted all along was simply, you. 

You add Amy to the playlist you make me and I cant help the goosebumps that line my skin everywhere 

I want you to touch me and 

I want you to touch me everywhere.

& you say

I’m written in the chant of your favorite team.

My hair, falling down my shoulders the color that caught your eye.

My nose ring you notice and my lips you want to kiss. 

I make you nervous, as you mix your drinks and tell me my spiderman shirt is sexy

& i like that.

loverboy.

I fall through sheets 

Silky and soft around my figure 

When my name falls from your lips

When your voice touches my ear

With the hint of your touch

Cities of nerve endings erupt

Down my spine, faltering my breath, quivering my skin

I want your hands on my hands and

Your breath in my lungs

Your taste on my tongue, I want the

Yellow sun that lights our skin 

to immortalize you in my eyes.

declarations.

How am i supposed to tell my friends that we screamed i love you.

I love you. 

I love you to each other. 

I  love you between waves.

I love you all night.

Winter

Few and far between are the moments of absolute clarity.

Those sparks that illuminate who you have been all along. 

Fleeting knowledge- a diary burning quickly in the dark of my heart.

I Fear You Love the Romance of Me. 

With your arms, embrace

my shaking corpse and chase

your blazing yearning from my body.

I want this branding kiss on my forehead,

to feel flaming fingertips as you slip,

down my flickering wick 

until I can’t belittle the power 

of your finger.

I, the instrument you play and tune

With eyes- soft when they strike.

Fingers- careful when they pluck. 

You never burn through.

I love the way your rough hands cover me

and I fear 

I love the danger of you. 

ENG 101.

Im trying to bite my tongue 

as I sit in a class I’ve outgrown, but

Id rather it be your teeth on my flesh

pressed against my mouth to stop my voice.

Id rather it be your hand on my neck

latching onto my throat,

Than the tight grip of the clock 

as it ticks the time between us.

Victorian Love Affair.

his thumb traces my lip like a secret;

the taste sweet and sultry and sleazy.

he glares at me with eyes sharp and piquant. 

he bares his teeth to diamonds, greedy.

I am too modest to love with all he desires,

though cold and stuffy in his supposed nature. 

our tempers kiss with lips of raging fires. 

toeing the line of passionate anger. 

with corset tight- taught enough to collapse a lung;

I still see us written in the stars like a zodiac. 

rich and pompous with his reckless tongue;

swiftly speaking, the ribbons off my back

and now there is nothing left but him

as we tear each other limb from limb.

Iris.

Just like the waves rolling over our weightless bodies,

There is a soft peace reflected in your eyes

Your pupils, dilated just enough that I can see

Windows to worlds where we are infinite 

always running, but never away

you play me like an instrument

tuning me with your touch

Our footsteps pounding the pavement

A metronome

keeping tempo as I get lost in colored iris

So much depends upon my smile.

You hold yourself responsible 

for any twitch that curls my grin

and for finding peeking pearly whites 

under these lips you part as the sea.

So much depends, yet

as with anything holy, 

you hate being held responsible 

for the tremors 

that tremble these same lips apart.

So much depends, so 

through silver lens, I hide

tearful reflections 

from sparkling their presence

upon my cheek. 

So much depends, still

I am powerless to hide

the quiver-

holding taught all arrows

behind mute lips. 

So much depends for you, 

my amenable God, in

seeking my eternal providence. 

Taking my silicone path of least resistance,

with white knuckle grip on the short leash that snaps,

upon my smile.

Spring

I miss you. I think it is time. Maybe. I think it is. 

Confessions, you watch my body and imagine you know my soul.

Never doubt my fondness of your happiness, nor my devotion to my own. 

Too many words crowd my tongue 

as I speak of you. 

LodontoChicagoistoofaradistanceforlovetoomuchtoofarawyandIneedyourighthererightnowbabypleasebringhometome

These syllables fall 

flat against the open pale palms 

you reach to my lips.

All these worries  

Silenced with touch & Raised with a look. 

All parting lips licked 

in perfect harmony. 

Sweet sweat drips from our temples 

drip-drip- dripping from the sun,

combining on the tongues

of bleach blonde brunettes below.

Shape me into an object of Permanence.

I am writing you out of me, but

the only one who could change a name was you.

Acceptance is self-love,

blaming bruises left of lust 

as they mark the way my eyes meet my own.

I am more beautiful in ruin,

no tension clouding my features,

no pressing or impressing anymore, just gravity inflicting it’s slack truth.

You couldn’t take too much.

It was all too much.

Still, I remain sickly grateful that once,

your lust was enough to fuel the rest. Enough

to move your hands

to make love to clay

to mold an object with permanence

Public Transportation.

With a gold band that binds stone to skin, I imagine I am tying 

you to me. 

Under any gold glow, we see the best version of the truth — 

and assume all is revealed with the sunlight, 

bouncing from edge to edge, 

crystallizing uncorrupted purple.

I can’t help thinking about you in train cars. 

You, the same way I can’t avoid the ring of blue around my heart.

The very same shade that lights 

my finger under the fluorescents of the underground.

And here it is again– this CTA blue, 

so strong the chlorine color prickles your nose 

just as your eyes meet the acrylic blue-bottomed pool.

Why is it in transit that we chose cheap blues,

sparkling away from noble purple, 

under artificial light.

Eating.

Where is your smile? 

Where are your teeth? 

Did you eat them while you were waiting?

Did they crunch different from my flesh?

Did they crumble as you did as they were broken by your lips?

Did their cigarette-flavored bleach burst on your tongue?

Did they taste as poisonous as your words?

Did they slice your gums and gnaw on raw pink?

Do you ever think about these incisions?

How they came from you and consumed you,

while I, powerless, watched.

The Knowing.

To know someone is to accept an anger born from understanding their trespasses.

No.

To know someone is to hate everything else.

Summer

Today we dared each other to say something, but it could have been all in my head.

To Date A Man. 

They come in every shape.

Tall & always falling short.

Big & suffocating with skinny arms.

Fast & Slow with Fingers & Minds.

Trading types with the twist of their tongues that

say this,

say that,

say anything

they think will unlock you. 

Like all humans, men are self-conscious,

staring daggers into your most intimate corners.

Hilt forward,

the tip breaks their skin. 

Watch how he bleeds for you. 

Watch & clean up the mess,

he shouldn’t have to ask, it’s for you. 

So many men & so many games,

how am I supposed to remember a name?

This question I ask 

until I wish I could forget. 

Men are easy 

until you find a good one. Then you

Say this & that & anything & falling over

the dull point of your own blade

to keep his eyes open. 

Cutting hair & ties just

to keep him calling your name. 

But what you forget is we are all the same. 

Distract him, 

he falls,

he is warm putty in warmer hands

until he remembers he is 

broken. 

We are all broken,

but he thought you were meant to fix him.

Writers Block. 

I have not written this version of you in lyric,

saving your absence from becoming real

from being past & not present,

this hurt

 because we no longer walk the future.

hovering

your vacancy in me must hover

must keep its pulse

beating.

away, but not a ways away,

just close enough to feel your fingerprint

even if I can’t feel your finger. 

08/22/22

Like a pen with half its ink,

I am splintering,

lost & tired & running out.

I am so many things.

A child.

A woman.

A free spirit.

I’ve been so many things to you.

For you.

A lover, a consoler, a daydream, an idea.

How can all these things mourn you?

I dream of the space you used to fill,

I can’t afford it anymore,

only you can curl my limbs in that direction.

My body has writhed and twisted and lied,

but only yearned for you.

You are too easy to replace,

too hard to replicate.

I’m not drunk enough to touch you,

though you still live just behind my eyes.

There, you ruin me.

Thank god I’m too strong to be ruined.

Toppel my tower,

and my stone will still see the sun.

Suns.

I need a new side of the sun to glaze over 

my eyelids in the morning.

I thought different lips would make me cry, 

but they are just different.

Pillowed skin powerless to change me,

only yours could do that. 

Yours showed me new parts of myself,

other sides,

other suns.

Different lips don’t make me miss you more,

you are chronic.

Different lips are just different;

different from me so I am not alone,

different from you so I am not changed.

I need a new part, a new place, a new sun.

But what if like lips,

different suns cannot change me. 

The Truth.

Static cling to the thought

of you.

Just static. 

You pull apart easy,

as I fling you into a different corner,

hoping to hide you for longer

among the dust. 

While I was honest.

you gave me half-truths,

devotion with a half-life.

I knew, even as I signed myself over to you.

I knew, so I am okay 

in the aftermath I saw coming.

I knew you couldn’t hold on forever,

but I would still choose to dream with you.

over&over.

Camping at Detente et Clapotis

Violet petals lay delicate betwixt my fingers as I weave stems through each other. Birds sing their presence over the lake that laps like a tired tongue over pebbles, smooth with the softness that only comes from years of kissing the same water. Boats row gently over this blue pool and circle each other in arched loops, their waved tracks meeting and breaking into new peaks.

It is moments like these that I question my unwavering commitment to city superiority. This peace of nature seems to smooth my bones and carve new ridges in my brain- for what is true that cannot be observed in such Eden?

It is easy to sink into the tranquility of this afternoon.

Focusing on the task at hand, braiding my flower crown chain, I can’t help falling back into childhood memories of Nebraska field kingdoms and woven inaugurations with my sister. Her chubby three-year-old hands breaking stems and my heart with that childhood beauty always accentuated by time.

I’ve been thinking about us a lot lately, tiny Elizabeth and lanky me, as I take my post as a live-in nanny for two weeks in Chambery. The young girls, two and four, drive me back in time and send sentimental memories to the forefront of my mind as we embark on school days and camping weekends away.

To go back and feel that youthful version of freedom is a pipedream I would curse if ever felt to fruition. A warm idea, but I am thankful to lay on the coin’s other side, fingers tracing flowered memory with the real freedom of tracing any thought to its end.

Kids.

Let’s tuck our shirts into our sinched pants
& flip our small bodies around metal rungs
like kids do. Limbs flying in unrehearsed circles
& eyes open and seeing everything below reality.

Let’s tell the truth like kids do, say
what you mean because you mean it.
No hesitation- just pure unadulterated thought,
baked just long enough to travel head to tongue.

The fountain of youth isn’t a fountain at all,
but the dissolving colors behind pressed eyelids.
Dizzy heads and sticky fingerprints collapsing.
When did we trade drugs for what is just below closed fist?

This pilled fantasy of bursting universes
is never quite the same.
It smells of chemical static,
that chalked taste that giggles us into our youth.

We can still be kids in the way
our eyes close together.
In the way we cling to the ceiling
& imagine a life upsidedown.

Have tea with me here.
We can use the fan’s wings
as spiraling seats,
& the center bulb as our kettle.

I’ll pour you invisible light in hanging cup
& you’ll pretend to taste
because I say I do,
& it’s true.

This empty gulp of conjured air breathes
down our necks & we are okay
because we think love is a song
our parents sing to us.

I am happy because being a girl means more childhood choices.
How sad for you trapped in two-legged trousers
when I can trade them for dresses, blue and pink make violet
if I feel like it.

Who knew the world wanted my choices to end in fashion?
Thank god for the 21st century, not perfect but malleable,
but do I mean that? I do, I think.
Yes.

But let’s stay here,
where the future means walking on the floor,
letting gravity seep into our pores, spitting love back in the cup,
& finding temporary happiness in cocktailed playgrounds.

As we rolled our four wheels over gravel, our small company arrived at the Detente et Clapotis campsite. A swift tour of the grounds discovered the perfect pitch. 

A plot of land extending under shade and spilling green into the sun. Surrounded by the cover of trees and the tan walled back of the shower building, we were allotted a balance of privacy and access. 

Quickly, we unpacked bags and boxes, snacks in metal tins and wine bottles in blue plastic coolers. 

I unfurled a gray and green tent just like the infomercials. One springed release and there lands your crawl space home. Screen portal zipped like a shallow fortress against the campsite league of ants and insects in the night. 

I can’t remember the last time I camped, at least like this. Spine straight on thin padding you close your eyes and pretend is a real mattress. Nighttime chills and morning dew staved off by the tight wind of that nylon bag, tucking your toes like a child. 

I like it. The smell of wild mint underfoot at daybreak and the smell of wood and fire burning like the setting sun. 

Finding a personal plot with an adequate amount of grass and an absence of stoney gravel, I staked my tent’s four corners and settled into this modern semblance of original life. 

Dinner was three-minute pasta, a plastic scoop of tomato sauce, and a serrated sprinkle of parmesan, perfect. Taking my pasta slow, I sat back and listened to the stream of french voices bouncing mouth to mouth among my new friends. 

I can follow most of the conversation, the subject landing, and sentiment loading, like watching a film with a two-second audio lag. My ears pick our keywords and capitalize on them while my voiced sentences are broken and basic, sticking to the present tense and walking my vocabulary around what I want to say. 

Lessons.

Where do I run when home was you but now

I guess it always lived in me. 

Mother tongues glaze over my ears in ways I cannot understand

& with you, I could say whatever I wanted. 

Your friends lapped up my words with fresh ears

while you rolled your eyes, knowing all my stories. 

These tales of the past & moments with you I want to speak

but can’t. Not for lack of memory 

but of language among this foreign present.

Here, past tense is as hard to formulate as the thought 

of you, forced to stay in past without a goodbye. 

I work. Straining my ears to hear the meaning

in words I don’t know. My mind filling in the gaps

and glazing over your memory, practicing

the living of the present. 

Château de Menthon St. Bernard

Green- it’s everywhere, surrounding the harsh stone cliffs and lapping at the castle’s feet. Red roofed towers point their sharp skulls through the fog and break the rolling air, cascading across rocked edges. 

It is easy to see why this Chateau was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Red paneled windows and painted roofs send me instantly to my childhood and the joyous promenade of flags and families at the start of the film.

As if the castle’s appearance wasn’t impressive enough, the structure dates back through 23 generations of the Menthon family. Originally built in the 11th century, the family of Counts continued to expand their construction into the 20th century. 

Now operating with plumbing and electricity, part of the Chateau remains the residence of the same family. The other part exists as an exhibit for tourists and locals to travel through time. 

To the left of the castle, a little garden of medicinal herbs and spices is cultivated by the grounds keepers. Labeled and manicured just as they would have been through the middle ages. 

Animals rest next to the garden, a lamb, some roaming donkeys outside, a pair of chickens, and multiple peacocks occupying the land just before the sprawling vineyard. To this day, the castle’s vineyard produces local wine, though another family oversees the process. 

Briar Roses

What would have happened if he forgot to kiss me?

And the vines overtook stone with their binding arms,

thorns prickling my hem through the open window

Would I be overgrown?

Would my nails grow long beside my idle limbs,

my hair cascading in knots across the bed and onto the floor?

Would I spill over the edge, and would we be buried, 

living but not quite alive?

Would you take me now, as your prize?

Mount my flower on your wall of corpses,

I’ll stay pinned and pretty, I promise. 

Forget my string of lovers and 

I’ll forget yours, I promise.

Before you call me yours, I will be,

placing your lips on mine, you claim me.

This is how the story goes, 

you marry me with silver inlays

and introduce me to pearl’s mother.

Prick your finger on my poison

and it tastes so sweet. 

You have me, but we will never have

Absolute serenity, only this hovering peace.

Love close enough to touch but not to grasp; 

compelled affection cannot hold with closed fist.

This freedom lies just out of privileged reach.

With a small group, we made our way through the Chateau’s most historic rooms. Starting with a small courtyard, the open air was lined with passageways and balconies above. 

The small doorways and petite hallways stood out, reminiscent of the smaller figures that occupied these halls centuries prior. As such, our modern size made it difficult to shuffle from room to room but ultimately allowed us to slow down and appreciate the antique details of the castle.

Reaching the Menthon family’s personal chapel, I took in the intricate medley of stone, wood, and gold. A site of tranquil devotion, the small room holds artifacts and art through multiple centuries. The ornate robes of religious officials are kept behind glass alongside golden chalices and open ancient texts.

Next, we entered the kitchen. Slightly larger than the previous room, it resembled the courtyard with wooden passages forming a triangle of open air. 

One oven and one table took most of the kitchen space, with two cavities carved into the floor and covered by thick glass. Filled with ash, the cavities operated as pseudo fridges in the early centuries. Kept cool within the building’s stone, the compartments remain close to freezing year-round. 

Though the kitchen’s limited appliances and layout were thoughtfully constructed, its location within the castle was not. Placed on the opposite side of the family’s dining room, the designers remedied this problem by burrowing a service tunnel that allowed servants to propel meals through the walls with a system of pulleys and tracks. I’ve never seen anything like it. 

As we ascended the tight, circled stairway, we were led into my favorite room. The library.

Over 12,000 books lined the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, all dating back to before the French Revolution in 1789. I was in complete awe. On a table rested a book of law documents, open to a page signed by King Louis XIV.

Three walls bursting with books were completed by the fourth wall’s wooden mantle, telling the story of St. Bernard of Menthon in eight parts. Thought to be one of the first residents of the Chateau, born in 1008 and passing in 1081, St. Bernard boasts a life of incredible charity and religious devotion.

The legend goes, St. Bernard was engaged to a rich heiress, but knowing that he desired a religious life, his father locked him in his room before the wedding. There, St. Nicholas appeared and instructed him to jump from the window. 

Heeding his advice, St. Bernard lept from the open window and was immediately caught and carried to Aosta, Italy, by an angel. There he helped build hospice structures for pilgrims and anachronistically healed patients of the black plague. (The black plague occurred in 1348, 267 years after St. Bernard’s death). 

At last, he returned to the family castle, where he was forgiven by all.  After, St. Bernard rose to the rank of king in heavenly paradise. 

Moving on to the great saloon, one can see St. Bernard’s supposed room and the fateful window just to the left of the room’s grand fireplace. 

The center of entertainment and relaxation for the Menthons, this room also charts the family history through portraits and paintings of its members and their various coat of arms. Aside from St. Bernard’s chamber, the great saloon also hosts the room occupied by the Counts of the 19th century and a smaller saloon where many objects of the last century rest. 

Moving toward the Countesses’ bedroom, we observed a slightly grander chamber with wall-to-wall tapestries and a rather petite bed. Redecorated in 1820, this room was home to the Countesses of Menthon over the last few centuries.

The bed, slightly arched and small, was built in this way due to superstition at the time. It was thought that lying in a flat position was reserved for the dead and was therefore avoided by the living. Negligibly creepy bed aside, I was impressed by the attention to detail that stuck to every part of the room.

Wooden cabinets were inlaid with gold and mother of pearl, carved intricately with delicate strokes. The tapestries depict scenes of the surrounding nature, and in the corner lies a dress ruffle owned by none other than Marie Antoinette. 

The grand finale came with the pilgrim’s room. An expansive said to house those who journeyed far to see the site of St. Bernard. 

Equipped with a small oven, religious paintings, a long table set, and ancient arms, this room maintains a communal feel that has no doubt extended through the ages. Helmets above the mantel date back to before the 9th century and the construction of the castle itself.

Exiting the Chateau, I remained in awe. The sheer beauty and integrity of the castle rival anything I could possibly imagine in America. 

Chateau

Guarded & Silent.

Stone cage & Gold chain.

This is how you find me. 

Make me home.

Clean my bones & Paint me pretty again.

Carve your crest into my arms.

Cover me in quilts & Stamp my hands with new ink.

This way, I’ll never really change.

You will

Grow gray & Sag skin.

But all I need is polish.

Bury yourself & I’ll take care of the rest.

Your body a bulb 

I will surround with water.

What a beautiful history

you can have with me.

My limbs may fall

but what do I care?

They’ll be mended in next bulb’s bloom.

More parties & calamities will ricochet inside me,

but I will always love your blood

run through any veins

I will hold your tired body with mine.

Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart

A name too long to capture the simple beauty of his music. 

Ears open and facing the open Opera, I took it in. Horns vibrating from lips pursed and pressed to the narrow end. Strings shuddering with the touch of bow hair. Precision in the procession of Mozart’s music. 

Dressed in wigs and white ankles, the orchestra arrives. 

Now though the music is Mozart’s, his command never graced this hall. Big and beautiful, the Wiener Musikverein opened in 1870, just under eighty years after his death. 

Despite the anachronism, the Wiener Musikverein’s style is that of the high renaissance, its designers enforcing strict historicism in its form. 

With high ceilings and gold galore, the site is impressive. 

Wiener Musikverein

Crystal sparkles like a smile with translucent teeth

One bling, one bright star on hanging canines

Lips laced with golden antiquity.

gold&gold&gold 

Dripping there- down the walls from coated ceiling 

Here- across from our balcony- more.

Deep winds and slow strings

weave something more valuable if you listen.

Trace the walls with your eyes, with

Ears pressed firm to solid beauty, hear,

the music congealing and falling

Like loose crystal between us.

But I am getting ahead of myself. You can’t have the music without the man. Let’s start at the beginning. 

1756, Mozart is born in Salzburg. Within his sixth year, he is paraded around the country as a prodigy. Just a child, the music flows easily from his nimble fingers. It is in Vienna where he spends most of his years composing and playing, elevating the city to a new standard of music.

The city of music, this is what I thought when I booked my ticket to Vienna. Though the city is known for a multitude of artists, Mozart is at the forefront, his name marking more cafes and shops than any other, vendors grasping at adjacent notoriety. 

I decided to play along, poking my head in such storefronts and strolling through the manicured garden that encircles Mozart’s monument. 

It was beautiful. He is immortalized in frozen figure, but the tribute is alive. Flowers grow from under his feet and form a giant treble clef in the grass.

Resting my legs on a park bench adjacent to the monument, I began researching Mozart concerts and quickly found the Concert Wiener Mozart Orchester. The Orchester plays through two hours’ worth of Mozart’s most notable pieces.

I booked it, pulled out my little black dress, and began a slow walk to the concert hall. Stopping for dinner and a glass of wine, I wrote.

Pre-Music

Red wine for my red lipstick

More rouge than red

Color set to fade above

My corset pinned and clasped a hundred little times

Over silk and cotton until I settle on nothing

It is best to be bare

To be stripped of every awkward article until

The corset fits just right

Taut around torso

Something to look at before my face

The lipstick is fading after all

Rouge on the ocean of open lips

And who am I if not pretending

As my salad settled, I continued my stroll to the Wiener Musikverein. I still had an hour and a half to kill, and the concert hall stood in all its evening glory in front of me. 

I took a lap around the block, wandering through side streets and storefronts I found myself in the deafening silence of a hotel restaurant. The friendly waiter went erily quiet as soon as we passed through the arched doors, and I knew what was happening. I was among the rich.

Accidental Glass of Rose

The rich do not speak, they murmur

Taken by the cafe quiet, they are silent.

Young girl can’t return my smile

The small movement is hushed

By stone-cold parents,

Shushed lips vibrating together for snide from

White face and white hair spiked like an aristocratic Guy Ferrari.

The waiter is more than kind to me,

I wonder how he got here.

Where he smiled before preparing these silver platers

How they shine, sparking 

around an inch of food for €55.

I’ve been there too,

Serving the silent,

Paid for pretending,

For smiling at their luxury of nothing. 

Sipping my single glass of rose, I read and wrote as I watched the time tick by. At last, it was five til eight, and I stood in line for the concert, excited and slightly uncomfortable with the abundance and glamour around me.

Nevertheless, I mounted the stairs and took to my balcony view, a birds-eye just over the musicians, perfect for quiet observation. 

White ankles and calves starched to the knee. Here, legs turn black with a fold, leading up to yellow, blue, green, and purple, all colors gold with threads of antiquity. 

The music swells and changes, a dull churning consuming sound, and this is just the first song. We clap, polite silence save the slap of skin on skin. We must clap before and after every piece, just as they must don powdered wigs for posterity. 

For the semantics of the symphony.

Austrian First Impressions

The new apartment has a bath. This detail initially shrugged off, has become a luxury. And I am grateful for the simple pleasure of a steaming tub.

Perched in the attic of a red-toned apartment building, my white windows stick their noses to the street. The sill- wide enough to hold my body- does, as my eyes roam the modest skyline.

Orange talons, filed by my idle hands, pull my shoulders up and out the slanted window and over the street.

Lion-headed guards flank the building to my left, their jaws clenched tight around marble rings. Behind their carved heads, the building’s stone is veiled in an Olympic sea color, softly fading with weather’s attention. To the right, the clouds consume the horizon’s view.

After the breeze had adequately nibbled my shoulders, the bath was ready: steam wafting from soapy waters, illusioned fingers curling to circle my rain-chilled figure.

Here I am recounting my activities inside an AirBnB while free to roam a foreign city. But listen, the days here are slow. Breaks don’t break your schedule; you drift through quiet corners and cobblestone corridors unbothered and unfazed.

I am fast.

I make the most of each pound on the pavement, marching through an urgent mission toward whatever color in my vision can slow my gaze. The local lull doesn’t slow me down; they linger along the side of the street in quiet clusters, shoes pressed in a deliberately ambling procession.

Even so, sometimes, one catches my eye.

Girl Crossing the Street Vienna, Austria. 08/21/22.

Pink is her favorite color,

So she wears it in a flash below darkness. 

A quick zip up the other side of her sole,

Pointing teeth up to scarlet head.

I wonder if her step walks along Wien or Vienna.

Tongue purring along different letters for the same sound,

Curling around their last letter. 

Distinction stamped and pressed 

In the darting color 

across her shoe.

I feel like I am on 2x speed as even the river seems content to spin lazily towards its spill. I sound bitter, but I promise I appreciate the change of pace. With ease, I can wind through the thin crowds and find my way to my next objective in a snap.

Contrasting their leisurely steps, mine gift me more time for my own kind of leisure. Hence, my bath.

As I soak, I think about the constant veil of rain, how it peppers the river in its rush, drops joining the current as it drips along the graffiti-colored channel.

Green. No, more aqua and turquoise in color. Unlike the crystal waters of Munich, Vienna’s add to the city’s color palette. Salmon pink, grey stone, touch-of-blue sky, and gold, darkened by the turn of time.

Squinting your eyes and tilting your head, turns back the clock. The gold is bright and polished, the apartment buildings freshly painted and carved. These bones are still there.

Venders are now burrowed in the lower levels of each building, window-display eyes opening ancient brick. Construction does cluster around street corners, but with the object of maintaining, not reimagining. Restaurants take an opening and spill out onto the street, littering the ground with tables and chairs and spritzers under light rain.

At these restaurants, you are brought water without asking—a miraculous gift for my dry American tongue.

I have grown accustomed to Germany’s (as the rest of Europe’s) gatekeep of water. The simple drink is guarded by prices higher than beer. Perhaps the Austrian glass is enough to compensate for Vienna’s lack of Summer sun.

When I arrived at the Munich train station to make my departure, I realized I had assumed it would take me much longer to trek my two suitcases and hefty backpack from apartment to train and now had an extra half hour to burn at the central station.

A make-shift chair formed by an overturned suitcase separated me from the grisly ground, and I began people-watching to pass the time.

Cigarette Vending Machine

Chubby fingers stick to the plastic pressed buttons
Toddler eyes wide, hands spread in plump starfish- reaching
Her father turns his attention to his burning cigarette
Tiny legs dance in pools of day-old rain
Anger comes with discarded drops but
At the center, he loves her
The curled-haired nymph
as pink and pouting as all innocence
But golden chains hang his ego like soft silk
Legs dangling over their own reflection
Empty cigarette boxes litter this floor
Cardboard universes for all
She inhales tobacco breath as she looks inside
Stars shine through worn corners
Thick is the smell, the smoke, the ghost
Burned out and discarded, he can’t find her
His hard hands can’t hold on to both
Pocketing his cigarette box
He only finds it empty when pressed flat
A wet galaxy, crumpled with grief

Leaving Munich was not without difficulty. Not only did I imagine myself indifferent to having an actual seat on the train, but the railed road was taking me away from new friends and now-familiar street corners.

A backrest bolstered my departure as we pulled away from the second stop. I had found a backbone in the cascading steps at the crossroads of the train car’s exit doors. Resting back on backpack, my eyes were graced by a few fifteen-minute almost-naps before the final stop.

Emerging from the stationed train, my feet touched Viennese soil. Now the German language doesn’t mean German lips, but I am finding my rest tucked in the rainy streets of Wien.

€1 Sundays pt. 3: Bayerisches National Museum

Of my triad of €1 museums, the Bayerisches National Museum holds the greatest amount of intrigue and history by far. At 167 years old, not only does this composite collection’s own history supersede that of its current colleagues, but stands as one of the sole representations of Bavarian history from its own perspective. 

Its story begins in 1825 with the death of King Maximillian I Joseph of Bavaria and his kingdom’s transfer into the hands of his grandson, King Maximillian II. 

Driven by his promise to fulfill his grandfather’s wishes of establishing a collection of the Wittelsbach dynasty’s artifacts and preserving the royal family’s history, Maximilian II began exploring the developing world of national museums.

In 1851 he attended London’s World Fair, where he was instantly inspired by the emerging trend of nations showcasing timelines of their technological and historical achievements to the public through collections housed in museum galleries. Taking this notion to his own dominion, Maximilian II committed to collecting an extensive record of Bavaria’s royal achievements and history. 

Of course, as an 1800s Bavarian King, Maximilian II left the cultivation of his ambitious project to the charge of the Royal Bavarian Director of Archives, Karl Maria Von Aretin. Realizing his vision, Von Aretin succeeded in identifying and preserving the cultural record of Bavaria. 

With an initial focus on art and artifacts of the Middle Ages, Von Aretin set out to represent all of Bavaria’s recorded eras up to 1800. This required the king to pull pieces from his Residenz Palace in Munich as well as from other Wittelsbach palaces around the country. 

Opening in the year 1855, the Bayerisches National Museum found its first home at the Maxiburg in Munich’s Kreuzviertel. For 45 years, the collection lived at this late 16th-century residence for Bavarian Dukes.

Just a few decades after its 1900 transfer to its current occupation of a wing in Munich’s Pinzregentenstrasse, the museum underwent reacquisition under the aspirations of Hitler. 

With a plan to transform Munich under his authority, many pieces were taken from Maximillian II’s collection to serve Hitler’s personal preference and to bolster the emerging museum branches such as the Bavarian Army Museum and the Achaologische Staatssammlung. 

As WWII raged on, the museum was forced to evacuate its walls, preserving its pieces while great halls of the building were bombed and dissolved into rubble. At the end of the war, the museum’s directors began restoration. 

Save for an assembly of shattered porcelain crockery, the museum’s great pieces were salvaged; and, with the completion of restoration in 1955, welcomed a new wave of patrons. 

The current gallery spans from Late antiquity to Art Nouveau, leading you through a layout of Bavarian history that covers all aspects of their cultural life. Wooden furniture and halls, silver cutlery and porcelain plates, ivory figures and tusked candleholders, woodwinds and strings and pianos, backgammon and chess sets, weaponry and armor, sculptures and tombs take you through an extensive experience of Bavaria.

With an eerie beauty, the pieces housed by the Bayaerisches National Museum exude a haunting presence; heavy with the history they have seen, the dark wood, pressed metal, and bright ivory emits somber energy that goosebumps your skin as your eyes graze their collection.

Domesticity

To wake every day to a cross over your head, 

the weight of what you can and cannot do 

resting heavy on your bed. 

To hear the creak of wooden voices,

crying with linseed mouths,

a pale orifice drawn across Wittelsbach blue and white. 

Dresser doors swing stories open with their hinges,

obscuring frozen faces with their open arms. 

To break sleep, grateful for this wooden metropolis,

no dirt floors or thatched roofs, 

your feet cross timber grain 

and your blonde hair never sees the sun inside.

You sit prettily, back pressed straight with corset ribs,

elbows resting on that round, splinterless corner.

Eyes locked in contest with the circled portraits,

faces guarding kitchen tables.

The green man sings as he cooks,

pipe kind and warm 

he hangs this tight wooden room with the thick smoke

of breakfast. 

This Emerald before Oz,

he gifts you comfort 

before commercial. 

Porcelain and Ivory Affair

Even dainty fingers,

white as European wet dreams,

take hue from Chinese porcelain-

imitate from African ivory.

These precious, delicate, white fancies taken

and rocked to sleep by foreign ships,

sung lullabies by sirens, and

polished by salty lips.

These fabrics trekked through more culture

than the white-washed figures 

they twist to impersonate. 

Here, they are painted 

with the thin-thistled brushes

of cleaner hands,

unsoiled by the virtue of the world’s dust.

They are looked upon 

by powdered eyes, and 

judged down the noses of those cultured 

by the blood in their veins.

Here, they say:

foreign pieces- how profound!

How remarkably mendable,

how ready and white they glisten-

primed for European salvation.

Duels

Even in stone, our fair eyes are downcast,
subservient to the stare of our chisel-toothed masters.
We are unworthy of our husband’s and son’s silver.

As our children weigh their small bodies down for battle,
the only silver we touch is to our lips.
The only iron linked in the gifted chains around our necks,
hanging like the noose of a dead man.

But we are not dead,
the men and their manly fruit do the dying for us.
Count us lucky in their final moments.
Who are we to complain?

We are the lucky to lie lifeless in wooden cage houses,
where our bodies are used to spawn more militia for death.
The lucky to make no tough choices
just take the brunt of their consequences;
privileged to bear more sons,
to break our bodies into breeding and bleeding life.

We, the lucky to dwell in locked stone towers,
running our hands through the same locks again and again
until the hair catches on our rounded fingernails,
until it is caught in our throats
like a cat hurting herself with grooming.

Nothing to do but look at our reflection in mercury mirrors.
Admire our luck.

Call dark circles our smokey eye,
bruises our blush, and
bless these lips into a smile.

Garments (18th Century)

No iron cast, but we are cast in silk.

Our armor these iron hips that force distance.

A welcome defense, a delay between you

and unguarding our garters. 

Beautiful, in linen and lace, we step

allure with ribbons and 

incite with shapes 

unachievable without tight breath

and even tighter bones that break our own.

Our eyes droop with deficient breath,

so you see our delicate weakness. 

You can take a sword, 

swift and sharp, 

carving through your ribs.

Would you give the same silent grimace

to iron carving your ribs into a new shape?

Could you swig shallow breath

and not drown in silk chainmail?

You say yes with your simple minds,

and your arms catch our feigned falls,

eyes dripping down our bodiced necks.

No doubt you linger on how easy it would be to break,

to snap our pretty bones and 

paint our dyed dresses cherry red.

This isn’t the worst you could do,

though you think it so. 

The worst we do is bruise your pride,

sentencing you to nothing 

but the knowledge of a simple answer

to a question, you will never ask. 

You will separate linen and skin,

worse than skin and bones.

You will ruin tomorrow,

worse than taking it away.

You will hold our hands and necks gently,

and still smell the metallic juice 

of cherries.

€1 Sundays pt. 2: Alte Pinakothek 

Trading modern for masters, I left the Pinakothek der Moderne for the Alte Pinakothek. 

Paneled windows and tan stone replaced the overwhelming white of my first destination. The renaissance revival architecture a clear indication of the museum’s contrast collection. 

Founded in 1836 by Ludwig I of Bavaria, the Alte Pinakothek houses one of the oldest art collections in the world. 

Over 700 paintings populate its walls, art by Europe’s old masters spanning from the 14th to 18th century. The wonder of their world immortalized before me.

Trailing my eyes over the ancient flicks of oiled color, my mind dissolved into the stories bursting through each stroke. 

The Fairer Sex

Fine Lady,

your flesh is too white for truth,

white enough to suffocate your pores,

a different kind of corset in powdered lead,

you bargin a slow death for idle perfection. 

Finest silk,

Poised & Polished

Languid & Limited 

No sharp edges to your tongue,

no harsh threads bristling his hand on the small of your back,

all lines soft to the touch. 

Delicate, your defense. 

Lazy, your lie. 

Guarded and ignorant to manly matters,

you pull loose strings and unfurl hidden triggers,

you touch ivory notes with feeble fingers, 

you seduce glances with supple skin. 

You find power in your soft,

buried in the droop of your eyes,

in their lust for your body, 

in the limbs you are allowed, and

twirling your virtue signed over with deeds and discretion. 

Judgment

Severance & Reunions. 

Love & blood & the wandering bodies of naked men

nursed to health by Homer’s womanly words. 

Caressed and cut by mythic fates- disturbed by discontented Gods, 

their jealous egos staining creation. 

Reaching with flawless fingers for golden validation,

for the authority of their particular beauty,

in last judgment, they laugh.

Too plump with pride to see the cliff and what crux lies below. 

These petty Gods drowned out by a more covetous God,

He takes all divisions and divinity. 

Smiling the devil’s teeth

in the face of flesh. 

Damning the forked tongue he sliced,

ugly is the enemy. He calls

erase your ego. 

For your God holds all pride 

for Himself. A divine blanket

to cover His manly insecurities, 

to ease the threat of self-love,

condemned by this free love’s snaking eclipse of devotion. 

Sacrifice your severed sons, 

and still, it is not enough. 

There are no complex corridors in the pure mind. 

To question is to condemn.

Close your eyes. 

Stay silent as we trade one fantasy for another.

Drown beneath your own blood and thank Him. 

Watch within as your iron paints over clouded Olympus with His gated heaven. 

The Question of Virtue

How many versions of my falsehood have been painted by the faithful? 

Never have I laid with a man. Only angels,

So my story goes. 

My pure iris watches these men believe the right woman,

bolstered by her husband’s immaculate conviction. 

His denial deemed faith enough to cover my unfaithful.

This power of innocence & ignorance. 

My greatest indiscretion,

the proof in my child’s karmic arc. 

His fateful cross mine to bear for justice. 

Penence for the blade I drew through his father,

a vengeful passion left over from his draw through me. 

The consequence of the stains on my soul

tracked in the blood I painted red on the floor. 

A tragedy of trauma,

an act of an expanding universe. 

I must believe the strings are pulled by God,

hold his son’s head in my hands and hear the voice of heaven. 

In my dreams and delusions, He seduces me. 

Him, the taste on my tongue and the name I spit 

to believe my womanly deception. 

Pre & Post Impressionist

Embraced by the 1800s common ground,

these lines dart & dash in visions

clouded & close they come together 

as you depart. 

Van Gogh’s insanely sanctified in sunflowers,

Manet’s layered in a vision of Monet,

Monet in his aqua white flurish. 

Brushstrokes touched with the sameness 

of afternoon cigarettes ashed on cobblestone

blown to dust by shared conversation. 

Cradled in the 2000s they still converse. 

Across galleries their eyes meet,

their scenes moving in wooden frames,

touching still-their impression 

burned behind their beholder’s eyes. 

Side by side in arts infamous severance,

neighbors kept in canvased immortality.