The girl is lost, in the tawny wheat of the steppes,
in the cold waters of the river washing past,
in the ruins of the city and corpses their.
The girl is lost, and I am lost, the world burned.
We hold close in the empty field in the summer after,
holding on like drowning sailors to driftwood.
The games we played are echoes in dreams
and voices and laughter half-remembered,
a phantasm of something lost.
The first kiss as we swam in the cold river.
Chasing each other through the tall wheat.
Looking up and the endless stars.
The girl is lost, and I am lost, our world burned.
The cannons and gunfire is silent for now.
The city built again.
It is the summer after, and we hold close,
her head laying upon my shoulder as she sleeps,
and I look up at stars that have never seemed so distant.
I told them, but no one pressed me for details
so now they must eviscerate a lily white dove
and read it’s torn out entrails
to find what the sacred word might have been.
Summertime is a war you cannot win.
The poison in a plain tin cup, the Grail of Christ,
lost in the back of a Romanian cab on New Years Day,
the blood turned bitter in the biggest, most egotistical heist
that turned halo’s into the collar of the killing chair.
To speak her name, I don’t dare.
Nightmares give comfort by telling my heart it works and is broken.
The wings that drip blood never mind the angelic frost on a little girl’s window,
on a crooked street, on the most perfect winter morn, in a slum in Hoboken.
Cigarettes are mother’s demarking of days into nights into weeks
and even The Devil trembles with fear, when her slurred mouth speaks.
Walking home to Cambridge, leaving London, leaving the lights,
those shining places, that thunderous sound, those lovely young girls.
I saw the face in a shadow and it walks with me as I’m going home again,
but home is not the place for me now; only my mind holds any dream for me.
The leaves are golden and yellow and bright, bright red, the sky a soft blue.
I dream of Emily dancing in the grass. A song playing seemed like it told everything
as she turned to me and smiled, long chestnut locks falling over her wicked eyes.
I dream of making love under stars, her softness and warmth, not that she left me behind.
The road is endless, and even when I’m back in my Cambridge home, it will travel on.
The road doesn’t end at the door, or in my bed. There’s not a woman wailing for me with
welcoming arms and a kiss on my grizzled cheek. Not a woman here to wipe away my tears.
I’m traveling down that road even standing still, with the shadows and demons picking skin.
In my old room, with that plastic rocket ship and tattered poster of Marilyn Monroe ,
the records grown dusty, the bed weighed down by the universe and the scoured mind.
I hope in dreams I can catch Emily’s hand again, and call her down like an angel of devouring.
Dreams, the only place to run, the only refuge in a blacked out mind. Count the cost of desire.
Ice cream blonde, hair bright, a silken halo falling down
over her American Flag bikini top.
She laughs and smiles like a child, writing her name in the dark
with the burning sparkler.
Even know, after it all, she laughs and smiles like a child, so free,
in this sweet moment.
Fourth of July and the sky explodes in color and fire and smoke,
and her halo shines back it’s light.
Independence Day, maybe we’ll be independent of the past,
of mistakes and the things that hurt us.
Declare we are one now, again, and the sweetness will come.
Maybe we’ll make love…
…….really make love, with tenderness and hope and softness,
and actually grow close in a touch.
The sparkler reaches it’s end, and she exclaims, asks for another,
to write her name in the dark again
where it will last and be eternal and kept and cherished by all.
Let this be Independence Day.
Man can defeat the Will of God, and burn the world.
Commandments tattooed on skins, but no mark on the soul.
Bottomless pits and hellfire don’t dissuade what they want
And seek and from drawing of sharp knives to kill.
We do what we do, no matter what we say.
We do what we do, no matter how we pray.
A heaven, where God’s own Son would wipe away my tears.
Where the light was forever, and life was everlasting, all was love.
I would be holy and justified, and leave my corruption in the old earth.
I would be holy and warm, never again to fear or hunger or thirst.
Jesus would be with me, and we’d all be equal in his favor.
Why is it here, though, that I fear those that believe?
Up on the roof with a bottle of not all sacramental wine,
Watching the stars above, cold and out of reach, like angels.
My heart swells for love for a woman, and love for the world,
And my soul feels empty and washed away, even as I pray,
For what is love and the wonders of creation, if all Holy Children
Come to burn it’s face, and all that could have been?
What was the meaning of His Dream?
After play practice, sitting together in the early spring sun, sharing a smoke.
A jet fighter roared across the sky, and drowned out the devotions you spoke.
I dreamed of taking your hand into mine, and how soft and warm it would be.
I dreamed of you, and you dreamed of a singer who was born across the sea.
So many things had yet to come, for us and the world; we had something for hope.
We never knew the fire that would come, or all the death with which we’d have to cope.
The jet fighter became distant, it’s roar a dim call against a sky so clear and utterly blue.
I knew not when we were innocent, and with a mischievous angel we blindly flew.
Above the city, on my own, without sleep or peace or even you to dream about,
A jet fighter screams across the night, the war going on, though we’re all wore out.
A song by the singer you once loved plays, and just watch the sky and the city so bright.
I know worse is coming, I know I want only to leave this world, and once again take flight.
The pills can’t fix it all. Only make me able to fake a smile.
It’s still always starless twilight in my useless dreams.
It’s still trying to outrun things implacable and hungry.
It doesn’t go on and off at will, like a light switch, a cigarette lighter.
I can’t just love this world.
Somewhere the child remains, but he is buried so deep and dark,
That the days have all turned yellow like old photographs,
And none of that joy has stayed close, or felt in echoes from October.
She kissed me and I felt nothing. The greatest desire impotent in rage.
She kissed me, and the gamble fell through the table.
The mountains hold spirits unclean and always welcoming.
The ruins of ancient kingdoms and swallowed infancies burn bright.
The stars shine like those useless baubles in department stores.
The dark soil is mother’s milk to the returned and graceless.
The night is some other world, some other love.
I believed, when I was a girl, that a mermaid lived in the little grotto that formed in the bend of the dark, slow river that ran behind my house. The hill past the little back yard dropped severly, and was covered in verdant trees and mossy rocks and tall, wild grass. The little grotto was shaded and secret.
I always swam there in the humid heat of an East Tennessee summer. The cold water made me shiver even in the hot season. I always sang to her, knowing that mermaids sang to people to keep them to come to them. I called out to her that I meant her no harm and I was her friend. She never came, though I always knew it was because she was shy.
My bedroom was in the back of the house, my bed right against the window. We had no air conditioning so in summer I always slept with my window open, hoping for a cool breeze to ward off how stuffy and sticky the air felt. And in those summer months, as I drifted to sleep looking up at the sky full of stars and shepherded by Mother Moon, I’d talk to the mermaid, down in the little grotto. I could tell her anything, for she loved me and used her magic to protect me. I always knew she was there for me.
I am a grown woman now. My daughter is asleep, curled up in a little ball of pink and bows on the couch, cartoons running mindlessly on the TV, though mercifully muted. She holds the stuffed mermaid I gave her close, her best and truest friend. I didn’t even realize what I was giving her when I bought it for her. A mermaid protected me; a mermaid would protect her.
All the windows are open in the living room, but the air is still and the day is hot and even just sitting still on the couch I am sticky with sweat and finding it hard to breathe, like I need gills to breath this wet air.
I decide to go for a walk.
I leave my daughter sleeping and walk to the back of the house and down the wild, unkempt hill to the little grotto. It’s not as dark and hidden now, as blight and insects have killed several of the trees that shaded it. There are still patches of shade, and they are soothing.
I walk to the very stone edge of the grotto and sit down. The stone is cool and I feel it on my skin beneath the seat of my jeans. I feel overwhelmed now, back in the secret place that nurtured me as a child, through all the hard times and wanting to escape and hiding everything inside and smiling brightly like a good girl should. This was my Eden, Neverland and Narnia, my place beyond the world.
I sing. I sing to call the mermaid up from the dark cold waters. I sing to call back something I’ve lost and that was precious to me. The sense that there was magic in the world, and I could slip between the cracks into something wonderous, and that my mermaid really did watch out for me. That someone was watching out for me.
“Over dark seas and endless days,
over starless dark and devil’s ways,
over lost moon and the hope of sunrays,
to know at last heaven’s tattered ways.”
I sing those words, that mantra that called her into my mind, that let me know she was there and that her magic kept me alive and safe when everything went all too shambles. I sing them and I don’t see her and my heart crushes into itself and I hang my head and my hands start to weep. After everything that’s happened not this too!
I start to get up again, and walk back to the house, and I hope compose myself before my little girl wakes up because I will not let her so me cry, when something in the water catches my eye.
It’s her! My mermaid! Her golden hair a halo and crown, her beautiful aquamarine face looking up from the depths. And she smiles at me.