blood scarlet, spider black, a keening in the wind, nearer - I ready
tall poppies bend heavy, sway among grasses in a farther meadow
their breath becomes my breath, I become moon absolute
Requiescat; soft body waiting, existence, a flame, I burn
a burn like opium night windows reflect flames, winter stars, ice
scintillations, frost glazes glass, crimson silver the sorrow of weary I strive
to keep the lull, the sate, the slake,
wholly to regain the sky, to rest in peace, adrift, holy
First published in The Slake August 2000
• The Slake
• Where the earth is hard
• Les Rêves de la Lune
• Ghosts of You
• My Witch
• Les jours noirs • Black Days
• Not Telling Tao
• Three Sijo
• Into Thin Air
• Novembre • November
• Sans mur •Without walls
• My Dead
• لقد رأيت الحرب
• I've Seen War
• الشعر العربي والترجمات
• Arabic poetry and translations
. Poetry Credits (this page)
My field is
covered in stones. The earth is hard here
and flowers will not bloom.
It was only me and him, that wordless summer. We tasted the
grapes from the arbors,
watched the heavy globes ripening sungolden.
In the evening, my father and I ate sunwarmed tomatoes right from the garden
held like apples in our hands while his father's peonies swung heavy with bees.
We'd been digging stones from the field all day
and clearing brush from the woods to burn under the bright August sky.
At night, I burned marshmallows fat as the moon while he burned pages of his novels.
Ashes on fire
twirled in the dark, turned into fireflies, into stars,
some of them falling
back to his earth.
It was a different world then, in a summer silent like the burning sun,
and I fell asleep in the grass feeling the earth turn under the stars.
I’d like to know whose eyes they have, to know
how it would feel
for my tongue to say without thought:
This is my brother
This is my sister
how it would feel
for a holiday to come and invite them in,
how it would feel
for my heart to know
a comfort there.
Where the earth is hard and flowers will not bloom,
I have many stones to tend.
But two of my graves are too small,
too small to hold as vast a thing as death, to hold the terrible space
All the other holes in my earth may be larger but not greater,
and though I still call their names
none of them can comfort me here.
So here I remain,
left, the last, alone.
For my brother and sister with love.
La lune d’août rêve de fleurs lourdes parfumées et d’oiseaux vivement colorés,
de plages exotiques et de jardins d’émeraude éclairés par sa lumière.
Elle rêve de papillons de nuit ayant les ailes éphémères bien baignées au clair de lune.
C’est une symphonie de fragilité, de la vie et ce qui repose en dessous, son contraire.
La lune d’octobre rêve de chauves-souris légères et de trous noirs du temps pervers,
de la chute des feuilles teintées de rouge mordant mais qui de nuit ont l’air de fantômes argentés.
Elle rêve de nos mondes distincts qui meurent et se réincarnent de la terre fertile au clair de lune.
C’est une symphonie de ruine, de la vie et ce qui pourrait la surpasser, nos envies hantées.
Dans le noir j’ai rencontré un bel homme rusé qui ne rêvait jamais, jamais.
Le cœur vide dans sa puissance meurtrière n’était figé qu’à la colère.
C’est le cauchemar qui rôde dehors, la grande faucheuse qui nous noierait au clair de lune.
C'est voleur de l’esprit de l’esprit à l’âme rancunière, aussi froid et mortel qu’une nuit glaciaire.
Je rêve de ce qui n’a jamais été et je rêve de ce qui ne sera jamais.
Je rêve qu’il m’aimait comme il m’a dit qu’il m’aimait, et je rêve de comment ce serait d’être aimée.
Ma chère lune qui rêve les beaux rêves la nuit, je rêve tout autant que toi,
moi, une femme qui dans mes rêves se noie.
Ghosts of You
You left many ghosts
in my care.
You left the ghost of
your voice, your
rage the thunder in my ears
that shakes me unexpectedly in the dark.
Your ghost comes out of my mouth
when I speak of myself.
Freak, you say, Failure;
those names like hexes you spoke at me,
always threatening something more.
You left many marks
engraved in my skin, still etched
on what is left of me, on what I haven’t yet peeled away
to erase your touch, your every touch, your marks
the ghosts of fangs
You left ghosts of your hands,
bruised the throat of my hope
where you strangled it, wrung it
your handprints remain
where you twisted my goals into grievances.
You left one of your ghosts
in the corner,
in the space where I always hid from you
until the day you found me.
This ghost stands there still, still and hot,
the way you stood over me like a disobeyed god.
Your boot prints appear and disappear, laden ghosts
crushing down my bones
to unimportant grime beneath your weight, your weight
somehow less heavy
than the fear tightly packed inside my chest.
You left many ghosts
in my care.
But these ghosts of you
are only half of what you were,
only your echoes, your aftermath, the nightmare
and this is my relief.
Ghosts of You first published in The Horror Zine January 2020
Because you said so,
I changed my name
to iron, plate, scrub, dig, deliver, shame.
At first I became a dead bird, hollow boned and lighter
and lighter with time,
then, dried petals, barely visible, a
mote of dust, and then, then an ember.
particles of me began to flake, to rise skyward, phosphoresce;
irrelevant fragments fell
back to earth.
I am coming for everything
you denied me.
I rise above the clouds, above the mountains, above the rain,
daughter of the morning,
my particles becoming waves, bearing terrible
I am the brightest of the stars.
If you see me now, you will see the depth
your darkness buried you.
If you see me now, you will see no more.
I’m still learning to forget
that you said it was I who was the adversary.
My name is now
birdsong, summer sunrise, morning star, blue sky
because I say so.
Morningstar first published in Prismatica Magazine Issue 6 Fall 2019
you were sleepwalking under a summer moon
and I followed
the air filled with violets
when you told me you were mine
I was burning pages and I caught my feet on fire
this traitorous world carries some of us away
a thief of chances promised me the summer sun
and I followed
until I found all there is there
is sand and blood
I was burning a man and I caught my eyes on fire
this sacrifice for a mere glimpse of my fortune
the incessant tide caught me, faithless,
and I followed
I swallowed memories of your hair in the wind
of wild days entwined like daisies
I was burning my life and
I was the fire the whole time
I’m coming home
you were my witch
you taught me
there are a thousand moons
and all of them mine
My Witch first published in Prismatica Magazine Issue 6 Fall 2019
I have wrapped myself in cinnamon and cedar.
I have filled my body with honey drunk by moonlight.
My feet are oiled, henna stained with lotus blossoms, my hands swarm with bees
who whisper, sah, the sound of the wind chasing the sand.
I have eaten gold and opened the eye while borne on the backs of blue scarabs
who summon me, Star of Egypt.
Recounting the days when I was bought and sold,
I throw your lies back to you from the scale, one by one by one,
until my ears ring with the song of all women before and after.
Floating like myrrh, I stretch my open bones to the bright stars,
to the immortals,
and now I am sure you can never touch me.
Knowing what I know now
I would never let you enslave me
as the price for beautiful days
not even to become the one I am.
Though you tore out my tongue and stole my fingers, yours was a secret I would not keep.
Dignity first published in Cauldron Anthology Issue X Cult Winter 2019
Sah, the ancient Egyptian word for mummy, means dignity, nobility.
The Egyptians called the circumpolar stars the immortals; they were always visible, always watching.
The Star of Egypt is Sirius.
Les jours noirs
Ces jours noirs, ces silences mortels, c'est à toi. Le deuil de la poitrine,
le désespoir, la perte, la peur, tout n'était qu'à toi. J'oublierai ce que tu m'as fait, de ne jamais oublier.
Enfin la souffrance se dissout comme la glace dans les petits bisous de pluie.
These black days, these deadly silences, they are yours. The grief in my breast,
the despair, the loss, the fear, it all was only you. I will forget what you've made of me, never to forget.
At last suffering dissolves like ice in the small kisses of rain.
Not Telling Tao
How do we breathe?
by becoming breathless
wind, black dog
She ran madly and now,
beneath broad oaks,
only breathing, she is still;
How do we see?
by resting our eyes
a lemon tree
Nuit étoilée de St. Rémy, scry
clear fear in each quiver, in
one quick absence of shadow.
Champ de blé aux corbeaux
How do we hear?
by expecting silence
an exhalation of seconds
torn away as maple leaves whipped by wind
Cold stones of earth whisper in the first tongue of the birds, sibylline.
dark, one footstep, the thunder of absence of sound
Something sinister stands still in the hall –
the grisly, syrup-sweet regret of the brigand, the turncoat,
Such a wish to breathe.
How do we know?
by not knowing how
E nadi contra suberna -
qu'ieu no me puesc ni voill a vos cobrire
Ask me the way.
the way is the way we go
from lines of Arnaut Daniel in Canto IV, 13th century, in Langue d'Oc, Occitan
who gathers the wind and swims against the torrent
from lines of Dante Alighieri in Purgatorio, 1308, in Langue d'Oc, Occitan
that I cannot and will not hide me from you
Not Telling Tao first published in The Slake October 2000
Dawn begins on my skin, sweet anticipation of light.
The earth turns, the light proceeds. Sun, a shiver of mourning.
Sorrow for the loss of peaceful night, my bones weigh heavy.
"Dawn always begins in the bones." Hymn to Ra, The Egyptian Book of the Dead
We laugh over childhood adventures. Our treasure was living free,
just living, unconcerned with life, unaware of mortality.
Remembering when, by his grave, we were immortals.
The hard weight of my thoughts dissolves, now light shines, life clear as fresh rain;
each leaf and bud enunciates, a gleam, each stone in high relief.
This day of despair washed clean, there comes my son walking home.
Three Sijo first published in Lynx XVIII: 1 February 2003
Thank you to the late Jane Reichhold, with love and gratitude.
Into Thin Air
From a distant life,
from a thousand miles away,
I recall the innocence of your hands.
I remember the way you held onto me as if to keep from falling away,
the way you reached out for me as if to save yourself from drowning.
This is all I have saved of an innocence when I did not know
your feral malice would sear me into cinders of bone, one day
your fingers would stretch and ache to choke like tendrils of seaweed.
In silence I was nearly tangible
but as I spoke, you alone became immuring stone.
I recall the sharp rage of your hands; born
to tear the voice from my throat, to bury me, snuff me
still, so I,
I dissipate into air, ash, autumn sky.
life slips into the air - blades of yellow leaves rain through slips of perilous sun
someone sleeps on the ground - something slips from my hands
breath escapes, never caught again - you did this
Soon only one of us will drown in thin air and still
love is not war no matter how bloody you make it.
Into Thin Air first published in Ink in Thirds Issue 9, February 2017
Il y a une histoire dans le ciel de novembre
d’une tempête d’indigo bleu orageux,
des corbeaux sanctifiés qui volent
pendant les feuilles jaunes dégringolent
à travers la lumière perlée de neige
contre l’espace violet,
et comme je crie,
comme si j’ai été brûlée en cendres,
comme si je pouvais prouver à l’automne que
j’étais une fois en vie.
J’étais en vie, en vie.
There is a story in the November sky,
story of a storm of indigo and grey, of the way
hallowed crows fly
while yellow leaves sail like pain through pearl snowlight
across violet space
and of the way
I cry, as if burned to ashes,
as if to prove to autumn
I was ever alive.
I was alive.
je ne vivrai que
sans mur sans barres
ni épée ni bouclier
contre tes mains
I will live only
without walls without bars
neither sword nor shield
against your hands
wet black ink
crows haunt the blood forest
a bone moon
in the night, in my bed, she chews my legs down to bloody raw meat
stark bones between feet and thighs
until she shrieks at me what I do not know
as her jaws stretch and clack,
but it is pain.
Skin of shadow blue, veins showing through, gaunt and gut-wrenching, beautiful,
he lounges at my door, thumbing thin the cover of a leather journal in thin hands;
he watches the hours of night and silence slip into early morning,
he watches the dawn come until he fades with the stillness to rays of pink and autumn,
and he whispers to me only,
My dead want vengeance for the ways I’ve made them suffer.
My Dead first published in The Horror Zine January 2020
لقد رأيت الحرب
I've Seen War
انه كان سيف الضغينة
رأيت الدم على يديك
الأمور ليست كما كانت
كنت تعتقد أنني كنت بحزن بالغ عندما غادرت؟
واود ان ابكى فرحا
عالمي أصبح أكثر غنى من أي وقت مضى
لدي الحرية. لي إسمي الخاص
سيصبح العالم اكثر اشراقا فى غيابك
I've seen war.
was a sword of hatred
in the wind.
I saw blood on your hands.
Things are not as they were.
You think I grieved when you left?
I'd like to weep with joy.
My world has become richer than ever before.
I have freedom. I have my own name.
The world will become even brighter in your absence
الشعر العربي والترجمات
الأيام الصيفية المعتدلة انتهت
العواصف الرعدية تقترب
أنا وعباد الشمس ننتظر مصيرنا
رعد في الخريف الأحمر
صراصير الليل يغنون
الهدوء الذي يسبق العاصفة النيلية
tonnerre d'automne rouge
calme avant un orage indigo
sweet summer days gone
sunflowers and I await our fate
thunder of red autumn
calm before an indigo storm
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