Use for Feathers

Light as a feather

Light as a feather

Levitate

Lock the door

Don’t let little sister in

Sweetness

Innocence

Feather for a stylus pen

Lock the door

And the diary

Don’t let her pages in

Lay her head

On a feather down bed

Only for respite

Don’t let the bed bugs bite

Otherwise

She’ll soothe herself with

Flyaway

Disarrayed

Feathers

Sweetness (a sad infuriating little story)

She waves away
raving gnats
from her face
in the sign of the cross.
He says this is a cry
of last rites
as he drags her
into the burning bushes.

The burning bushes
are put out.
Put out by sheaths
of sweet melting skin.

The gnats circle the pyre.
They circle the pyre
of gross innocence.

* * *

The burning bush gnats
are not the same
as the kitchen kind
that swarm the skin
of rotting bananas,
but they are cousins
linked by the draw
to sweet sweat.

She peels the sweating
skin off the browned banana
and tosses it into the pan
(the skin, not the fruit
because Mother said so),
into the pan,
the pan that burns
when ‘hotter than hell,’
Mother would yell
when in the thick of
her own hot-blooded temper.

She feeds the fire
of the hot sizzling oil
with her soft, warm tears
(unintentionally),
and feels the swat
meant for the gnats,
not for her sweet
sticky cheek,
but Mother
in the thick of it
squelches the heat,
she squelches the heat
of her fury and
of the sweet
sweating skin.

She tried waving
away the swatter
but the hand of anger
is swifter than
the resistance
of innocence;
besides, she’s never
in a hurry
because to hurry is a sin –
don’t force the petals
of a flower open,
nor scrape the scab
off the skin.
Light a candle,
say your prayers,
cross your heart,
cross it again
for emphasis.
She crosses until
the crossing becomes
an emblem for everything –
even of irritation
(unintentionally),
as in waving away
raving gnats
from your face.

He stakes his empty
time on it.
His empty strong hands,
on emblems,
on signs,
on invitations
and obedience.

Rather than cutting off
her golden flowing hair
or letting it tear,
she grew it to full length
because Daddy said
that’s what good little girls do.
Bend your knees,
lower your eyes,
except for when
I’m talking to you.

* * *

Sweetness does not
sleep, for sleep
is merely restless rest.
She is: feed for the pyre,
for the groping tongues
of blazing gnats,
and the burning
backhanded slap
of a hand that
so easily
turns the other sweet
sweaty cheek.

Finger

Your hand without my finger

to trace M to its inevitability

from pulse to edge

to clasp

somewhere in between

Open

Insistent

Insistent clenching in the bowels
thrust and throbbing in the neck
after you left
traces of sweat
Can’t wash out
insistent yellow stains
or the sallow of my skin
nor the blood-tinged taste
stuck in my throat
or the smell
I swear
yellow smells
something like
the squish
by a spastic fist
in this big bloated
yellow belly
crushed by your cruel
pressing fingers

and yet
I hold and stroke
this big empty
in the sweaty sticky
palms of my hands.

Not Here (Excerpt)

The Changer stands directly in front of three padlocks, which hang on a chain chained to a chain-linked fence. A red and white sign hangs directly above the padlock: “NO LOITERING NEXT TO FENCE.” Beyond the fence is a man-made reservoir.

Disregarding the NO LOITERING sign, the Changer stands close to the fence for thirty minutes. He then turns to his friend the Oral Writer, who is standing a few feet behind him. “What do I smell like?” he asks. The Oral Writer takes a whiff of the Changer and says, “You smell like rust and pine.” Glaring up at the sign, the Changer then slips his wrists into the chains that chain the chain-linked fence.

The Oral Writer, who only speaks aloud what he has already written, has never written anything addressing a gesture of this magnitude; therefore, he has nothing to say. The Not-Here is over there, on the other side of the fence. He observes the Changer struggling within the confines of the chains. He ponders over whether his friendship with the Changer is of any use in this situation, given the fact that the Changer stakes little value in the value of friendship. From the Changer’s experience, friendship is as burdensome as the chains that chain him to the chain link fence, considering that the more friends he accumulates, the more projections he must suffer. For example, to his friend the Oral Writer, he smells like rust and pine because he loiters next to the padlocks, which smell of rust and pine. However, he wishes that for once, he could smell as nature has granted him, and not according to the whims of man.

The Oral Writer explores his toolbox of sayings and phrasings that would address the Changer’s plight, mainly because he feels guilty. He feels guilty for smelling the smell of rust and pine, against his friend’s wishes. He does not have the ability (or the sense) to discern the difference between the objectivity of an object and the subjectivity of his friend. His ability is with words; he can tame the words that formulate in his brain by writing them down and arranging them before he forgets. At last, he finds a saying that possibly relates to the Changer’s dilemma; therefore, he speaks it aloud: “Man mocks nature, and then sets up signs and prohibitions that mirror his own fears and judgments; whereas, nature welcomes man to roam, explore and discover its challenges for themselves.”

The Changer ruminates upon this saying as he wriggles in his chains. “This lake is manmade, and so a mock form of nature. But it’s been here so long and populated with geese, ducks, swans and so on, so that it functions just like a real lake. So is it artificial or now a part of nature?”

“You already know the answer to your own question,” the Oral Writer says. He instantly recognizes these words as a platitude, spoken an infinite number of times before.

The Changer – as usual – smells exactly like the objects he is in the vicinity of (or is it like the objects that are in his vicinity?) Not only does he smell like rust and pine to his friend the Oral Writer, he begins to smell like the padlocks to himself. The worst part is he begins to feel like the object that he smells like; he and they blend into one. As he loses any sense of himself he can hardly bear it and so casts a
pleading look at the Not-Here. The Not-Here cannot act in behalf of his friends until they make a first move, and he recognizes this look of distress as an emergency call for friendship. The Changer maintains a focus on the eyes of his friend the Not-Here, and instantly he removes his wrists from the chains, releasing himself. The chains chaining the chain-linked fence fall to the ground.

Sweetness cont.

The burning bush gnats
are not the same
as the kitchen variety
that swarm the skin
of rotting bananas
but they are cousins
linked by the draw
to wet sweat…

Sweetness

She waves raving gnats
away from her face
in the sign of the cross
He says this is a cry
of last rites
as he drags her
into the burning bushes
put out by sheaths
of sweet melting skin
The gnats circle the pyre
they circle the pyre
of gross innocence

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