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compassionate release

An idea before July the first.

Don’t be so serious, keep it lighthearted.

They’re always nervous the first time.

Try to keep them calm.
Use your hands. Use your eyes open postures. Everything loose and gentle. Feel them ease into your embrace. What do they do next? What is the next move? It’s always the same. Eyes flutter long lashes, nails along the neck. They want this. They need it. Make them feel they’re the ones who are giving it. You are not in control of their desires.

How am I doing?
I’ve never done this before. Show me how to do it.

I once held a man in my arms who used to be young and beautiful. I saw it in the curve of his mouth and in his full lips. When he smiled his skin folded, creasing into a paper bag.

What does any of this mean? All of it is meaningless.
Take a sip of water.
Do you taste it?
Tell me what it tastes like. But use the right words.

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image-2

Writing prompt image provided by the good people at Happy Square Studio

The world is watching. We stand on an outcrop of rocks at the edge of a wood with red lanterns woven through the branches. The world is waiting and they cannot look away. They will watch me disappear, my back melting into the wall of trees. I pause, straining to catch movement in the space between the trunks. I don’t know if I can do this. I hear Miles exhale, his breath mingles with the murmur of the party behind us.

He reads the list in his hand saying, “There’s nothing here about how long this is supposed to take.”

“Roger is going to time us while we’re searching. He said the game doesn’t end until we find all the items on that list.”

“Always the despot.”

“We can just grab a few and call it a night,” I say and he looks at me. His smile is crooked and the wind ruffles his dark hair.

“Let’s just see how this turns out,” he says.

I don’t need to glance over my shoulder to see his brother shift his feet in impatience. Miles takes my hand. “Ignore them,” he says. “Keep your lantern up. We’ll be in and out in no time.” We start walking and it’s abundantly clear that we are not light of foot. Twigs and dry leaves snap in our wake, and my heart strains to keep pace with our steps. Steady now. Always steady.  It’s nearly time for the sky to blush with the first touch of morning. I look up, hoping to glimpse a familiar cluster of stars, but can’t see anything through the red.

“Tell me again why we didn’t stay home tonight?” I say.

“We are wild and social creatures, Olivia. Plus we were hungry.”

“Traipsing around in the woods past midnight in exchange for free food? I don’t know who wins in this situation.”

“You weren’t complaining during cake.”

“Roger knows my many weaknesses,” I say.

“Not as well as I do,” says Miles.

I turn to him, crumpling my mouth in mock despair. His eyes soften and I feel his thumb tracing my fingers.

“Want me to carry the lamp?” he says.

“I’m no damsel in distress.”

“Not even if your arm starts cramping up?”

“Then I may or may not concede.”

Miles stops for a beat, pointing at a blue ribbon fluttering feebly around a branch. Roger has no imagination. We contemplate who gets to climb and who stays on solid ground.

“There could be bears,” Miles teases, putting me at ease.

I toss my head back, laughing, and climb the tree. Bark flakes under my hands and I think of being swallowed by the earth and rising, taller, with time winding around my limbs. When I’m back, standing beside Miles, I hand him our first prize. He ties it around my wrist. The lamplight pools at our feet, causing our shadows to twine through the grass and fallen leaves, until we cannot tell where we end and a tree begins.

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three days to disembark

There were moments when she wanted to question who she was and who she had become. There were days when stretching her arms in a sun-salutation felt like release from the overwhelming pressures of the week. Then again she didn’t really have much to be stressed about. There were things in her life that changed drastically over the days and months that passed. Then there were things that felt as if they were always there and probably would always be a part of her. People come and go, experiences change as the seasons do. Everything was a transition from one plane to the next, and yet there was this nagging sense of longing to become part of something bigger. There were things in her life that she longed to do and places she wanted discover. So she couldn’t furrow her brow at people’s thoughts while her own words were left to sift in a trough.
“Tell me where this is going.”

Isn’t she on the road to self-discovery? Her glasses sit uncomfortably on the bridge of her nose. They are an extension of her sight, but sometimes she prefers the solitude of her room where her nose can be free of the weight. Tell me where you will be and where you are going. You had a moment of hope when his words appeared on your screen. You thought, How nice. How lovely. How wild how free. The practice today focused more on vinyasa. I wanted to take a breath and stay in downward dog for a while so I could feel it in my arms a little. There were positions that went over my head, but I appreciated the strength of the voice and the arms, the gentle way the hands guided my back deeply into the stretch. I wonder if I trembled to the core with nervousness.
“If you’re shaking then it’s working.”

Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and lean against something strong and stable. There is the alliteration waiting to be touched. Hasn’t it been such a long time since you have done this? Get the feel of the keys again. It’s much like music. But my back longs to have that languid stretch. It’s not so much that the beauty is missing. It’s more in the know-how.

“I want to know what’s going on with that poor girl.” You used to send pages that were unfinished. Why don’t you try sending them again? There are the question marks. There are those guiding hands that slide along the length of your back, how gently they encourage the alignment of stars. Your eyes watch the space between your thighs. And you exhale. Listen to your breath. Feel it course through the spaces between your spine. You don’t shiver because here the walls are solid and nothing threatens to tear through. The man is all gums and he smiles and nods you ahead of the line. Surprise lights the eyes, a shifting blue to green. It’s something that reminds you of the ocean. Do you miss the salt in the air or the salt on the skin? Think of a mountain who tastes the heart stone of the sea. One track has Vera Myles on the white cliffs of Dover, while the other leaves Buddy Guy wondering where the blues have gone. They know that landscapes change and buildings can collapse under the bone blind shrug of the sky. So here is the beginning of everything.

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the watchful

Farmer Oak awakens at the touch of dawn. The window is boarded up.
Light seeps through the cracks and he pulls the blanket over his eyes
while the cat curls into his shoulder.

There is a cup of water on the nightstand and a lamp with a bulb at half-life.
His stomach speaks.
Nearly breakfast.
Heavy footsteps walk out of the room next to his and pause at his door.
-Awake?
Says Tom.
-Nearly.
Says Oak.

Tom turns on the radio. Music sinks into the walls.
The cat turns over, mumbling something in her sleep.

Farmer Oak cranes his neck to look at her,
then pulls the blanket over her chin.
He shifts his weight. The bed creaks.
Her dark hair tickles his nose and he brushes it aside, gently.
She turns to him, still sleeping.
Her face, calm.
He is watchful.

 

—-

written for Memory

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venus de milo

Sleep escapes me
A step beneath me
No arms to guide me
Muscle and bone

Come and find me
Those hands inside me
This sheet around me
Street lights and stone

 

 

***

an attempt at rhyme for: Street

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Begin with Atlas.
The world nestled across his shoulders
The weight is a kiss
Something heady,
soft and full of life.

Now passing cars stencil shadows across the wall,
follow their movement.
Evening casts a sheen
across the kitchen table.

see it?

silver and blue and perfect?

Diane thinks:
Why must the world be a burden on Atlas’ shoulders?
What if he carries it freely?

Picture the earth is a book full of stories
he holds in his arms,
where one face rests in the crook of her shoulder
fitting perfectly,
smooth skin
dampened hair
curling
in divine exhaustion.

End with Diane,
listening to breath.

 

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leap day

Elation.
Greetings after hours.
Bars of light spill through the lattice.
Callahan.
There’s a forest out there
swaying with sounds
Coarse
Heavy
Like his green eyes and whiskey breath
After their first kiss by the garden wall near the streetlight.
Brick fence.
The wind picks up,
gathering under their coats.
Waiting for the moment
to do what is right.
Entwined.
Fortify.
Faculties align.
Until a glass slip pools around her ankles.
Then a smile.

—–
Leap

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