scribbledshadows

Words. Lots of Words.

Canary Perfumes — November 22, 2016

Canary Perfumes


I wonder if war is something you can smell.

If all the citizens in all the worlds have always

been able to sniff it out, know its approach

like garbage on a summer morning

 

sniff it, like they sniffed out dissent

and difference.

 

I wonder what it smells like.

I know it is not the tang of gunpowder and

gas, not yet. It is not yet

the smell of dishonorable men and

rotting babies.

 

No, I imagine it more like the wafting of

unshowered bodies on the sidewalk, of moon blood

on women’s clothes, of hot ink on shredded newspapers,

of ketones in the urine of the hungry but

not yet starving.

 

Or perhaps it is like smog, like pollution

only palpable on the bad days, the days

that acid stings your eyeballs, the days

the posters go up, the days

you go back to the countryside and realize you can breathe again

 

realize that your senses are not dead,

not yet.

 

 

Limbo — November 19, 2016

Limbo


Once upon a time

there was a charming haunted house,

its spirit kind.

 

his sadness charming, like the house,

like the Sad Little Raincloud;

there was  character to it.

 

but rainclouds rain,

and leave your socks wet in their shoes,

and ghosts wail in the night, ruin your

sleep, jump from the shadows,

and sometimes, they are angry.

~~

I live in the house, and I am unreal

but not undead. I have lived

more than my share across lives and worlds

not fearing death, not fearing the severance

from life, not clinging to the houses that I loved

 

because I know I will go on,

because I have already touched eternity

no matter the violence of my passing,

I am already complete in my multitudes

without a need to linger.

 

And so, I must not linger here

in this story, lest I be haunted

and the shadows tempt me.

 

 

On haunted houses — July 15, 2016

On haunted houses


I am tormented by

possibilities, and I wonder

if you are not all

ghosts.

 

Shadow selves, separated

from a body, grown twisted

by the angle of the light.

 

~~~~

I never found my door.

 

It never came for

me

 

with terrible purpose

on a green wind

under a flower bush

in summer.

 

I wrote it myself. Out of folk songs

and paper. Needles

and hallucinogenics

 

Logic and Nonsense

both.

 

Germ Lines — July 8, 2016

Germ Lines


I am not seven generations

of seventh sons.

 

I am four generations

of eldest daughters.

.

Four generations of heirs

without namesakes

of curses, without gifts.

.
I am constrast, comparisons,

a different kind of lucky numeral

 

my lineage, interrupted.

Godmothers —

Godmothers


“Can you spare some change for an old beggar?” he asks.

A woman in a red coat sniffs her skinny soy green tea latte and walks by, refusing to look down into his pleading eyes and dirty hands, though she is not wearing headphones. She has heard the waver in his voice, the crack.

“They used to know better”, he mutters sadly to himself.

At the next crosswalk, the heel on the woman’s left shoe breaks and the green latte spills down her coat. The beggar watches it foam and steam all the way down.  The woman curses loudly enough for the beggar to hear. He smirks like a god watching a child repeat a mistake they have already been chastised for.  He bears an air of righteousness, and its aura leaks from under his brown and cracked fingernails.

~~

A mendicant holds up a sign:

“Bookmarks for Sale: Pay what you can”

They are flimsy things on the dirty blanket in front of him. The thin strips of paper are covered in colorful whorls and small cartoon animals. The edges are uneven, slantwise, as though they were hastily made. A businessman walks by, not noticing the blanket or the treasures laid out upon it. His shoes, dirty from the city rain and leftover cigarette butts track across three of the bookmarks. He walks briskly leaving the poorly laminated paper smeared, and peeling apart at the edges. His shoes shine where they are visible.

The mendicant yells after him. “Hey Buddy! Aren’t you going to pay for those?” He holds the sign up like an edict, high above his head. The businessman returns, a look of scorn on his face. The mendicant lowers his sign and raises his cup, quarters and dimes spottily filling the bottom of it.

The businessman looks down towards his shiny shoes, down towards the cup and the treasures that have filled it, and spits.

~~~

A woman sleeps in the shadow of a bridge. Dawn has come and gone and there are so few hours that are safe as houses. She hears schoolchildren throwing pennies into the river. The children squabble amongst themselves and tease each other. They toss the tiny bits of copper over their shoulders and wish for love and money, all the while throwing it away.

One of them turns to her. She cannot hear the words in the crowd but she can feel the whispers. The children begin to pelt her with pennies. They are tiny circle bruises falling underneath her blanket, slipping into the sides and holes of her too-big shoes.

A rock crumbles. A scream resonates for a heartbeat before a splash. The children’s teacher runs to them and throws and a lifeline. She looks at the woman in disgust and says something about how hard it is to awaken from a drunken stupor.

The river smells like sewage.

~~~

He stands across from a lock covered fence with a cup. Passersby put their two dollar bits of metal love on the barrier between bridge and sky, concrete and water.

They can pay for this, this symbol of unbreakable adoration that will surely be severed by wire cutters for practicality, or envy, or sheer vandalism.  A pair of lovers turns to each other, away from his empty cup, his hands, his dirt, his sweat. For love, even the symbol of it, is worth more than life, is it not?

A cyclist knocks into him, and he tumbles into the middle of the lovers’ passive declaration. His dimes and quarters roll off towards the river with all the keys, all the escapes that though tossed away will be re-made with divorce papers.

The male half begins to yell, “who the FUCK?!”

He picks up the empty cup and his eyes begin to glaze over, having heard too many obscenities too many times to bother to be here for this one. The female half snaps the lock shut, turning the male half away from the beggar and his fleas, whispering “…not worth your time”.

As she turns away she catches the eyes of the cyclist. An explosion starts behind their eyes. The beggar cackles at the avalanche.

~~~

A man sleeps outside a convenience store, his head resting on the pillow of a mangy dog. A child skips toward the store’s door, carrying the change from a day of small tasks. A quarter for laundry, a dime for each dish she has washed and polished and put up in the cupboard with her reaching arms and tiny tiptoes on a favourite footstool. Her mother has taught her not to talk to strangers.

Her hand catches on the door, cool air wafting out into the hot summer’s day.  She notices the man’s cracked lips, the bones of his dog stick through the fur, but she knows that they are towers she could build up even higher. She could.  The dog looks up at her with big wide eyes.

She enters the store, firm in her quest. She buys an ocean and some hope. She leaves the man with a water bottle and a candy, popping one into her own mouth as she darts away before he can say anything so she will not break her mother’s lessons. She wipes her sticky hands on her pants.

She walks in her door, her mother calls from the kitchen, “what took so long?”

The child tries to answer, and vomits up a diamond instead. Emeralds cut the inside of her mouth and she begins to cry.

~~~

Outside, the snakes wake up. They slither forth, born of careless poison.  The bucket in the well is empty.

Drying — July 7, 2016

Drying


There are no gossamer

dreams left, no spun

sugar sweetness

 

to taste on the edge

of old cabinets or in

the blood of finger-pricks.

 

it is summer, and there are

no adventures in tree-houses

left to be had

 

 

my mouth is open not to catch blood

or gossamer, or snow spun out

of sugar

 

it is open to keen,

to let loose the moan of ache.

Crafted Wonders — July 6, 2016

Crafted Wonders


I am choosing joy.

 

Making independence, out of longing.

shoving down the intensity, the careless

idleness.

 

I am putting drywall on it,

calling it art, scratching the wetness

off my thighs, ignoring ecstatic muscles

 

pasting miracles in their place,

dreams, putting miles of grass

and history between the rawness of it all

 

and here, instead

 

reminding myself, all wonders were built

by will, or time.

for women who are not made out of metaphors — July 2, 2016

for women who are not made out of metaphors


No matter what pair of arms

tries to warm me

I am stone.

 

For him, I melted into a sphinx.

He rubbed his fingertips raw on my

sandy sides.

 

I gave him the word “no”.

I gave him riddles I did not even

know the answer to because the only desire

I could fulfill was the gift of a quest.

 

But I will be gone when he returns for his prize.

 

For some I am a pillar,

they run their  hands over my ionic curves.

I do not move or speak.

 

They search for depth where there is none

they walk themselves around me while I am

rigid, holding up buildings against

the pressure of the sky.

 

For you I am a statue.

You grab me whole and drag me

to your Pygmalion’s workshop.

 

My marble clothes billow against a wind

that does not exist

and for a moment when you touch me

I breathe, and shudder.

 

 

But I am a mountain

still made of stone.

I have myths in my valleys and

mysteries on my peaks.

 

I am too vast for any two hands

to hold.