Old Lady Cactus

Backup Poetry™ to rid the ringing in your ears. No idea what I'm doing.

I Don’t Cry Much Anymore

My womanhood thus far has been roses and scorn,

full of the trials of not-texting-back and

the chalky taste of multivitamins and not fitting in.

 

“I am …”, I thought at ten, “… a shy girl,”

that’s me, “a shy girl who likes animals.”

 

And now I’m not sure if I like men.

Or this* man,

or graduating early,

or getting too thin.

 

I was taught the subtle art of

arched back, chin up,

one eye on the rear-view kids,

one eye along the road ahead;

trained in graceful knuckles run across

a loved one’s head.

I’m an expert in quiet frustration,

in keeping it in.

And I stopped believing in pain

when my mother caved in.

 

I learnt to worry at the door,

and on the phone,

and in the car.

I learnt the colors of the rainbow

on my knuckles.

I learnt the value of

women,

but most of all

I learnt that

tenderness

is spread much too thin.

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Paris

The city of love has more mathematicians than any other city in the world,

and I’ve fallen out of the mould we’re cultured in:

fed a strict diet of rigor and theory and whispers of beauty,

I was caught starving, and out cast.

 

So, jerked awake by the cold tears of an evening in April,

I now roam the streets bloated with hunger,

looking for the light in a city

overwhelmed by smell.

 

If QED is poetry then it’s contradictions I hold holy.

So let there be,

let there be,

a set of poets in Paris more open

than a face, unaware, steeped in peace.

The Mind is the Matrix of All Matter

In the sky we saw the deal we’d been looking for

since the year Max Planck died and then a couple more:

only 19.99 to buy into this divinity.

Own a share of your symbolic God and Oh ! God !

Stock splits, quick, add that s to symbolism, bless the spirits,

split your losses, mend your atoms, hold black bodies to your chest

and build them shelters in this storm, and plank yourself in whatever constants

you can afford.

 

Imagine that shift in frequency –

the ring of freezing lightbulb walls spitting up the harshest light

as your infant spiritual singularity glows a little less bright.

 

Gods are what you make of them, the sky now said,

so quantize the planes above and bathe in this 19.99 rite.

I’m sold.

 

I now own one trillionth of the first recorded prayer:

               on the absolute reality and its planes,

               on that finest spiritual light,

               we meditate, as remover of obstacles,

               this is what enlightenment feels like.

 

Wash Me Better

This time next year

you will not be here,

because homes grow wild

and plenty, my dear.

So relax.

Calm down, take a breath.

Take the riverboat down

to the farthest pier in your nicest dress,

and marvel at the upstream’s roaring press.

Cleansing means churning but clean means calm.

 

You’ve been through this all and more before,

my dear, so

relax.

Calm down.

Take a breath.

Thank You For The Sundays

Something they don’t tell you is that there’s a magic garden

in every courtyard in Philadelphia.

Gardens made of glass, and tears, and gunfight.

 

And through it all, as the sun sets,

roses creep out of window-barred pots and slither to the streets –

every atom in the city chasing that faint ocean air.

 

The city of symmetry, city of two rivers – entre fontaines,

je t’aime from here to there and back again,

the Atlantic rolls between us.

 

In the meantime, I’m eating up spoonfuls of Sundays

I’m all too willing to give.

 

And in this time I’ve hidden myself in every corner of the city,

every bustle in the suburbs, here I am,

sarcastically.

 

Found in yarn stores in South Philly,

fingers running through the strands

despite the weight of cheesesteak in my hand.

 

Resting the holy hollow of my body in a Temple cot in summer;

ring around my toe and vision hazed

in vodka-sparkled saturation.

 

On my knees in a bathroom or two in West Philadelphia

setting tiles in the floor of a soon-to-be home

so a single mother can breath a little easier for a little while.

 

And out here on the Main Line,

wrapped in white sheets, a pen in my mouth,

listening to that goddamned bell toll,

 

Waiting for the gift of Sunday exploration

in the holy city of gardens and love.

I AM NOT THE PERSON

Sitting listless in a twin bed writing;

the smell of carnal acts a day away still alive on the sheets

and the sound of our breathing in my head,

I got to thinking.

 

I am not the person I was when we exchanged hellos.

I’ve cut my hair and cured my skin since then.

I’ve been healing,

a healing where I’m learning not to pick at

peeling, mending skin.

 

You’ve changed as well in ways unknown to me;

existing an island away, living only though the ripples of the

three floating dots at the bottom of my screen

I’m coming,

I’m coming,

I’ll be right with you.

 

Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for hearing.

Thank you for helping me grow.

 

My heart is bigger because of you

and I am not the kind of person to let that go untold.

Thank you for choosing me, thank you for holding me.

Thank you, however briefly,  for the person I am to you.

 

 

A Song Of My People, Should They Accept Me

Mirror, mirror, shiver me timers,

three shots of rum and it’s not any clearer

to the people I’ll run in to later tonight,

to the pictures I’ll be taking under darkened lights,

that I was not built for beauty.

 

I was built for walking.

 

I come from a people who haven’t forgotten the roots left behind

when they were pulled like weeds, culled like beasts,

and corralled onto the path to their future.

 

I was built in their honor,

built in the image of the tears they trailed in their wake,

the tears that blossomed into the white rose: Neakita.

 

I was built to let them stand again, out of red earth from Oklahoma,

the people who crawled from a hole in the ground and into the flaming sun,

and flourished under it.

They do not deserve these scars.

 

Twenty-two hundred miles of death-dotted trails,

carrying only blankets reeking of disease, $50 to spend, and a loaded gun,

it’s no wonder there’s a grave every step of the way.

There still is today.

 

So, Lax Bro, I wasn’t built to be pretty.

And Lacrosse? More like Stick Ball, war’s little brother,

not played but fought across the plains.

Do not test me.

And don’t you dare desecrate the sport my people created

with your poor excuse for a personality.

I’ll cut any blanket you give to me in two.

 

I was built in their honor,

not to be pretty:

The gap between my teeth closed with seven years of dental work,

almond sliver eyes, cheekbones high and strong,

overlapping digits on my fingers and toes:

A, Chahta sia.

Yes, I am Choctaw.

I am of Chickasaw too, and

I was built to uncover this part of my culture.

 

So let me remember.

Lean on me while we walk together.

Katimma ho hotupa?

Tell me: where does it hurt?