Obstacle Course

I am just so accustomed to thinking no one is going to approach my body with kindness.                                                                                                                                           ~ Roxane Gay

  

I push the air in front of me as I walk and hope it cushions,
veils,
obscures,
so that I pass unnoticed through the crowd,
and the scraping feeling across my neck lifts
away leaving only the tingle,
like the shudder from a lemon slice,
still tacked lightly to my nape,
ready to burst out in full force if attention heats it back to clutching point.
I move with dull and dogged steps 
feeling like a volcano,
towered violence waiting to break free,
but it’s not lava that I spill, 
only
silent and dumb tears.
 Words can’t hurt you
should be rephrased as 
words can’t hurt you where it shows…
In a world that bows to the uniform,
those wounds cannot be allowed to surface,
to throw the pattern off,
to jangle the color scheme,
to skew the line.
 
A closed door and a slumping shoulder
are the only signals that I,
the reluctant and battered contender, 
can allow. 
Letting the air move freely,
to surround me,
in such gratitude for a crumb of respite.
As the obstacle course resets itself
for the walk tomorrow.
 ©jayetomas2017
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Language of Love

You don’t see it on my face
I guess.
It’s not in the space usually looked for.
It’s in the words,
 although hidden,
like old notes in a book,
language cloaked in a rough and raspy cloth,
to hide the velvet of my heart.
I love you doesn’t come easily,
they stumble and crowd together in my throat,
like clumsy people in large wool coats.
Emerging as;
Be safe.
Where the hell have you been?
Are you hungry?
You don’t see it on my face
I guess.
My expressions are not arranged to glow,
or shine tenderly with the finer feelings.
They’re frowny and fearful and preoccupied,
but the preoccupation
is a side dish of love…
Have you eaten?   I love you
Don’t be late.   I love you
Try again, try harder, try your best.   I love you
Nothing.   I love you
I said Nothing.   I love you
Yes, I will.   I love you
No, I won’t.   I love you
Just forget it.   I love you
You never talk to me.   I love you
Goodbye.   I love you
Goodbye.   I still love you.
©jayetomas2017
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Terror

It’s about terror.

That’s all.
It’s about being the thing under the bed. The monster in the closet.
The footsteps behind you at night.
It’s about terror.
If it were about one cause or one goal or one vision
the world would be reeling with a ‘new’ word: Terrorism.
But it is old as the hills, older actually.
You only need to whiffle through any history book.
 
Terrorist attacks are about terror.
Terrorist like to see themselves as mighty heroes, when actually they are akin to the cockroach. 
Millions of years of progress and change and they are still here.
Why?
Because they scuttle, they keep to the shadows, they slip through cracks.
And know how to wait.
They can survive on anything; poisons, dirt, things deemed inedible by other species.
The rotten, the disgusting, the discarded – they thrive on it. They get bigger on what other living things shun.
Cockroach heaven is a reeking garbage dump in the dark.
Terrorists are cowards, fooling themselves about a bigger purpose, a higher calling.
Bullshit.
It’s a cockroach move. Making a space for themselves on top of the garbage dump.
And they love to watch us fight each other.
Blame each other.
It takes the focus off of them, safely hidden in the cracks, biding their time.
It’s about terror. Sick, twisted, cowardly and indefensible terror. 
That’s all.
 
 
©jayetomas2017

 

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Blue Lily White Lily

Blue Lily,
White Lily,
where the air is soft and the garden shadowed,
and the perfume changes with the direction of the wind.
Raise your arms and turn…
Quiet dance,
quiet fingers,
reaching to tattoo the sky.
Blue Lily ,
White Lily,
you reach up,
breaking free from the ground…
But the ground calls back,
cajoling,
“Wings can only take you so high,
stay with us here,
in endless space,
and dance the songs of midnight,
the music ghastly and beautiful,
and eternal…
Not the quickburning of the mid-day,
the ballet of sun,
too soon ended.”
Blue Lily, 
White Lily,
where the air is soft,
and the garden filled with shadows, 
and the shadows dance…
©jayetomas2017
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Surface Self

 

 

She stands unevenly as if poised to run,
or topple,
or drop into a hole opening up under her by sheer wish power,
and her eyes have pieces of broken sky in them.
You noticed her and she noticed you noticing,
but never acknowledged it,
because that may mean a conversation,
and no one wants that on a public street where they are trying to fade,
trying to shrink,
trying to dissolve into the background.
What is her best side you may ask?
The one that can’t be seen she would answer.

If she was a tree and you counted her rings
there would be broken ones that marked off certain years,
the ones that forceshaped her into the finished product
she presents to the world.
The ones that persuaded her that this time was the last,
and that the blood staining her hands would wash off,
and that skin deep was the only beauty worth having…
(don’t question it may offend)
So she wrapped her mind in soft and crumpled linen
and stored it away.
I don’t really need it anymore….
she convinced her surface self

The hands that once held a paintbrush now tremble
when the air stirs around them,
and the cracks appearing in her laugh are covered with varnish.
(the shine will distract you see)
Keeping it together has become her mantra,
a song running through her head and hummed in the bathroom
while she counts the tiles
and wonders,
where a magic door would take her,
and if she would dare to go…

 

©jayetomas2017

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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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