The Devils Playground

A place of light and color and ice cream truck music,
where all the slides had flowers,
and all the swings had rabbits to help push,
and the smell of summer was in my eyes,
in my face and hair.
I brushed it off and stared at the gold smeared on my hands
and tried to remember how I got here,
but then the tigers came down from the trees and sang,
and courtly men and women were dancing,
and I watched as the clouds followed their steps and I tried to join in,
but my shoes were sticking,
and the song went on repeating
until I was sick of the tune,
and everyone was busy but no one was smiling.
 
When the scales over your eyes are made with such detail
and so expensively
you start to believe in the necessary evils. 
While Gluttony, Sloth and Lust were handing out coupons
the people clamored,
but I kept walking with my pockets already full of useless paper,
until the fence stopped me,
and I leaned against it for a moment,
while carrion birds circled overhead singing commercial jingles.
Only then did I realize that the gates around the playground were made to keep you in,
not out,
a chainlink Acheron. 
 
I once had a map that I kept
in a secret pocket,
and scrawled on the back were the words, “In case of emergency….break.”
and I tried,
I really did,
but after a while it was like trying to win a race by walking backwards,
a  Rubik’s cube remaining forever unsolved, 
and reason never did rhyme…
So I moved along with the crowd and 
the journey ended,
not in lovers meeting,
but in the Devils playground.
And I almost wish I loved the scales for what they hid,
because seeing clearly,
is a house of cards collapsed,
is knowing all the endings lack the ‘happily’ in the ever after.
Seeing clearly is the knowing
that the rabbits are golems, 
that the tigers are just taxidermied cats
dusty and flybitten.
No one stopped me as I turned to go,
skittishing away from my wide open eyes.
Perhaps knowing that my scorn,
my laughter, 
would break the merry go round,
that the birds overhead would drop and smash on the rocks.
And I kept going, 
the rust flaking into henna dust that I kicked off my shoes as I went through the gates,
as I left the playground,
shattered by my desire to stay.
©jayetomas2017
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Dancing On the Head of a Pin

I keep my feet moving, 
fast,
fast,
in fervent hope that it will keep my mind stepping in place,
in unison,
that I can prevent that slide,
that clumsy slipping toward the edge.
The head of this pin has little room to spare
but I have been told to dance,
so with artful hands and smilemask fixed firm,
I spin,
the drop blurring into star trails around the outskirts.
And I wonder about that slide,
I feel the pull and hear it hint that the 
last seconds of the fall
would be the most fulfilling,
a whole and glittering life before my eyes,
but I am no angel,
I have no wings,
nothing would carry me,
nothing would save the dance.
Its call would be the last I answered,
and I am not ready to ring down the curtain,
and if the tune is changing,
my dance must adapt.
If others join me I must be ready to show them the steps,
willing to share the slick and silver space,
willing to be crowded,
willing to hold on
                         together.
And I keep my feet moving,
and I keep my mind moving,
and I just
keep,
moving…
©jayetomas2017
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Over The Hills And Beyond

 

 

I stare at the sky and keep watch as the stars disappear,

so I know that I’m in the right place,
the oblivion I crave,
lies just over the hills,
and beyond,
beyond.
The shouts of the world coating my ears like tar,
and I wrap my hands around my ribs tightly so they don’t slip through and cling,
infecting me,
sitting on my chest and holding breath captive,
until I am forced to ransom myself and turn,
turn…
I stare at the road,
winding underneath without thought or care
of the feet moving with such purpose,
and with such conviction.
Aware that determination can also be mislabelled,
can be judged and found wanting,
and those steadfast feet
shackled.
The turn is my enemy and the hills beckon, 
and the last stars wink out
letting my eyes adjust
to the darkness,
and the final rise comes at last, 
and now then,
and now then…
Will the world resist?
Will it cling?
Or will it let me go with grace,
with a last pleading embrace,
and then release
watching with old,
old eyes
as I stumble forward.  
As the prize pours out like
balm across my head and I bow,
overcome,
with the emptying.
©jayetomas2017
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The War of Glass Animals

 
The squares are filled and in line we wait,
soft bellied mannequins,
secure in our appointed space,
our borders.
Who will be the first to cross?
What paint, what slogan will rise like a balloon and clutch the senses,
if for but a moment, in shutter speed.
Who will break the line?
Who will stand motionless?
Putting their faith in their painted blind,
believing it waterproof and impregnable,
until the rain washes them away,
and that spurious security is thrown aside like a wrong number.
 
I read your fortune in a handful of dust,
in a flame that burns sere green and yellow,
the words borrowed from someone elses mouth,
filed and fitted to the need in yours.
Do not thank me for this,
in the war of glass animals
all will be broken,
all flames will burn higher,
fed by ink and paper
 rising one last time,
 curling,
into the crowd,
who only at the very last,
will weep for the words dying overhead,
will weep for the sad and broken glass animals,
who bleed to splintered death trying to stay hidden,
to evade the lions gaze,
who blame the knife and not the butcher.
Your fortunes are now scattered in the hot wind, 
and the boxcars are approaching,
packed brimful with the next line of mannequins.
Your war is over,
the fires damped,
 and the shattered glass swept away…
©jayetomas2017
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Strange Days

Strange Days ~
 
A stranger tells you that you are made of strange days,
that those children fair and full of grace
are not related,
are not for you.
And before you can reply
angrily,
or with supreme indifference
arched in a sardonic eyebrow,
or just
blankly,
he is gone.
The street chatter filling in,
closing up the air where he stood.
Why did he say that?
What did it mean?
Why do you care?
 
Strange days making up a map of nameless islands,
ringed by harsh mountains and
oceans of tooth and claw and smothering seatangle,
here there be monsters….
A stranger tells you that you have no claim
no kin
with the fair and the blessed.
With whom do you align with then?
What kith surrounds you and fills all the roles in your inner stage?
And what part is this dropped upon you
unrehearsed and
unasked for?
 
The sky still hangs overhead
and the well worn shoes on your feet are recognized,
familiar,
and the spaces inside you tossing
like a small plastic boat in a draining bathtub,
have settled
uneasily,
and yet your thoughts chase over and over,
scanning,
the words he threw at your feet and left you to trample.
Why did he say that?
What did it mean?
Why do you care?
Why do you care?
Why should you care?
 
©jayetomas2017
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Carnevale

Chimera Poetry

“Audaces fortuna iuvat.” “Fortune favors the bold.” ~ Virgil

“Virtue has a veil, vice a mask”. ~ Victor Hugo


Costumed in red and yellow they scamper through the streets
and knuckle the doors
the hot sun pooling,
as if splashing,
pouring,
molten hot from a crucible,
around their feet
the Carnevale is coming….

Porcelain, peacock blue, emerald green and gold mask the windows,
the streets,
the faces,
and the air is an elixir,
and the very stones smell of chocolate,
of figs,
of sour spilled wine and orange peel.
Stained by magic old and new,
by sex and mystery and rainstorms.

Demons and Courtesans eye each other familiarly
while the golden tower is carried through the square
and a humming cry spirals up from the crowd,
its energy bending and glowing as if the moon were melting.
Beads my darling?
the vendors sing
Beads?
Jugglers and fortune tellers and disappearing…

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House of Mirrors

Another day in this house of mirrors,
the hallways heave with amusement as your eyes are foiled once more…
A trick of the light?
A trick of the trade?
A mind playing tricks?
Turn here,
not there,
here…
No cheese at the end of this labyrinth only 
the headache that has become your closest friend,
and the signs that could direct you
start spinning like a weather vane
the moment you find passage.
Turn here,
not there, 
here.
Another day,
another line of smudges where you tried to feel your way,
your eyes closed because they can no longer be trusted,
and your nose crinkled against the scent of your panic.
The senses you have left are 
fluttering like a light dazzled moth,
banging like an enraged gorilla in a too small cage.
Turn here.
Not here, 
not here not here not here…
 
©jayetomas2017
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