28 April 2016

Into the Woods

The woods are just trees,
The trees are just wood.

~Stephen Sondheim

What happened here? Did I take a wrong turn?
I fear I cannot see the path that led me this far.
I see the trees of the wood; who fears trees?
But the light is not good here in this wood,
And I fear I may have lost my way.
I fear the dark, for the night hides in its depths
the things that lurk out of sight, preying
on those unaware, or of lesser might.
I am small and fragile and not at all strong.
I long to be away from here, from this place
where, no matter where I turn, I cannot see
whence I have come or whither I go.
If one is not predator, then must needs one be prey?
I cannot go on and on and on, along paths
unmarked to destinations unclear, but
neither can I stay here for the night, fearing
what waits for me to sit a while, takes its time
to stalk closer, muffled in the murky shadows,
padding softly closer on clawed paws, teeth
long and sharp, ready to rend my tender
flesh when I stop to rest for just a moment.
No, I shall find no safe quarter in this wood,
nor can I find my way out again, for the way
in is not the way out; through is the only way
and the journey is a long and treacherous trek,
but they say the rewards will be beyond
anything imagined or imaginable.

21 April 2016


I drink too much on occasion;
I smoke too much sometimes,
too; I take drugs every day; no
it’s not you it’s me. Really. Inhibitions?
I don’t have them. I know how
to say, I want this. I fancy you.
Please kiss me. But still,
I don’t let you see me sober.
Sobriety is a curse -- it is me
stripped bare and saying, See
how damaged I am? See the pain?
The fear? The insecurity and doubt?
See where I come unravelled, where
I am frayed and worn, where you
can see the light shine through
because I have no substance left,
at all. See where I come undone.
I fill myself with cloudy smoke
to obscure what I truly am -- to hide.
It is putting on a mask, or perhaps,
wrapping myself in a shroud. It is
comforting, calming, centring.
You don’t believe me; that’s okay.
Or maybe you’re not sure. I still
won’t let you see me sober.
Because, let me tell you, me sober?
I’m not what you think I am. I am
not who you think I am. I am not
the inquisitive, intelligent creature,
with an open smile or an easy laugh.
I am a darkling thing. Furtive.
Irrational. And sober, I do not have
my voice. Sober, I -- me -- myself--,
am not the strongest; I’m not the one
that is heard. This body, sober, isn’t me.
Someone else comes in
when the drugs wear off.
She walks like me, she talks like me --
but she isn’t me. I don’t want
you to meet her. Not yet. But someday,
you will look into her eyes. Will you
see me there, deep inside, standing
in her shadow? Will you see me
scream in silence? Will you see that
when I go mad, I do not go anywhere at all?
Will you see her and think she is me?
My sobriety is where she lives -- where
she rules -- where she is in control. So,
I don’t want you to see me sober.
Because I fear you won’t see me.
You will see her -- and she’s a fucking monster.
Let me keep her under lock and key.
Just a little longer. So maybe --
by the time you meet her --
maybe you’ll fight to keep me instead.

20 April 2016

Scott Expedition, 100 Years Later

What hubris was it
that grabbed hold
of his brain--
what madness seized
him, and said: Here,
where others failed
and died, here
I shall succeed;

In that remotest
part of the world
where there is no
night for months,
no horizon, no markers
by which to navigate.
Just the punishing
expanse of glacial
landscape in every
direction; no sea
and no sky, just
bare white desert
stretching infinite.

The bright yellow
sledges and red
rucksacks and blue
parkas were the only
colours to bend the eye.

And then, with
a headwind the whole
way for the first
nine hundred miles,
the two-man team
ran out of food.
Grit and determination
failed, gave way
to hypothermia
and malnutrition,
and there were times
he wanted to give up,
to die in the desert
of endless white noon.

Starving, ready
to lie down
in the snow,
'utterly pathetic,'
he radioed for supplies.

Sitting, eating
the smoked salmon
and cream cheese
on crackers before
resuming their journey
in the fabled footsteps
of the ill-fated Capt.
R. F. Scott (buried
under the ice),
he contemplated
his own failure
to complete this journey
unassisted, with only
what he could carry.

But surely the man
who died alone a century
past in the cold
on that shelf of ice
at the very edge
of the known world
would not begrudge
his successors' success.

written 17-02-2016


Take the fragments
of this clay pot
(broken into pieces
against the wooden table,
fallen to the floor)
and paint the seams with gold.
Fit them back together
and fire them in the kiln;
Life exists after death,
and light shines bright
in darkest spaces.
My body is the clay
vessel, made of the earth,
and of the sea, hardened
by the sun, and shattered by
the world; paint my scars
with gold dust and make
my brokenness beautiful.

19 April 2016


i am falling -- falling
falling in(to the void)
falling out (of love
with the world)
falling on (my knees)
falling up falling down
all around and back
again -- just constant
(constant constant)
constantly falling through
(space and time)
((place and purpose))
plummeting plunging
lunging lifting
and out and over
up begets down
and out chases in
(round and round)
and through
(through -- through)
falling through (him)
and (her) and (me)
and (we) and (they)
and (you) falling into
us and them
same and other
others fall with
fall against fall
fall back to down
fall down to out
twice and thrice
and once again
there is all and
naught and in
between the fallen
sacred spaces
(falling into ruin)
((falling in the dust))

18 April 2016


Take your fingers, my love,
and trace the scars. Here,
down the curve and underneath
the skin is hard, bubbled up
where the knife cut,
where the flesh parted,
where a piece of me came away.
Touch me where I am now
less than I was, with this
smooth, shiny reminder
of being more. I will close
my eyes as your hands explore
the new story my body
has to tell.

09 April 2016

Means and Ends 2

How it must feel
to shed all that density
that life-preserving fat
to feel the body split.
Is it transformation
or simply emergence?
Thin and fragile and cold
having only the fur enough,
stretched out like a rug,
on which to lie.

Means and Ends

The mermaid splits her
fin and gives up her voice
in the old story yet, the
pain beyond imagining, her
desire is stronger than
the knife that fillets her,
spreads her legs. Why
must it be a man who
gives her her own soul?