Masked

Tension in my jaw
and I’m not sure if it’s the mask requirements
or because I’ve not said I love you;
the words stuck like gunk in a rusty hinge,
squeaks when I think of you.
I never said I love you even when
you lay outside the kitchen door at 5 something am
with your curls on the floor and hips floating.
I didn’t say I love you when I picked you up
and dumped you on the bed I didn’t say I love you when
I got you a glass of cold water – I thought about it when
you sipped and slipped into sleep with your hand on my chest
and my leg trapped between yours. I thought about it when you paused,
looked at me and said
you know I think you’re handsome don’t you
with your hand on my left cheek,
I think about it whenever I remember your belly laugh
from that dirty joke I made, the way you wheeze and forget to breathe.
I thought about it when I was in a different city exhausted by everyone else
I think about it whenever we don’t speak, like last July
I thought about it before, during and after the kiss in August;
Now September’s come too soon and like the flowers of Paris you too will be gone.

A missing ingredient

the way you love(d) reminds me of being seventeen
pedaling ’round the estate with no brakes
playing basketball on concrete;

the way you mash bananas and mix the oats
add an unmeasured pinch of baking soda
and convince me of your recipe;

the way you pause and point at wildflowers and weeds
you tell me i’m the lavender flower between the trees
and you’re the chrysanthemums in the leaves;

and I’m convinced that if my palette could distinguish between
honey and syrup, if i could rake this wild field in my chest,
I could have loved you sweetly (too), like I was seventeen.

To a girl I called my Moon

Do you still want a farm
with goats and tomatoes?
Do you still want an orchard
with apple trees and muddy feet?
Do you still want to wake up at first light
feed hens, chase foxes and fix pens? 

If you do, 
i will still roll on my side when you rise
  &  rinse the earth off your skin when you come in
i will knead your lower back when you lie down
  & tread the vine of your spine with my lips.

If you still want a farm,
I will build the barn.

Dads

Athletes and Grammy award winners are
always thanking God, their grannies or their mums
the trinity of effort, for bringing them this far,
and it’s not a competition but dads don’t get enough cred.
 
I know dads who take Mondays off to build treehouses for their daughters,
dads who trade Friday night boxing for after school ballets,
dads who take pay cuts and cancel flights to watch nativity plays,
dads who all of a sudden cannot believe this is their creation,
the best thing they have ever done, the only thing that matters
and their lives go from monochrome to rainbows.
I know dads with slipped discs who still take the risk of piggybacks
dads who give up cigs, trade beers for diapers, drop Subarus for Volvos
dads who cross deserts bare feet so their flock can rest
dads who trade their lungs as life jackets across the Med to make sure
their little ones can have a beginning.
Dads who for a second or more think they’re steel
when they stand in the way of bullets, bombs and falling roofs.
Dads who get up from rubble, flee and rebuild, still strive and provide
because that’s what dads do.
Dads try.
 
My dad is an “I love you” dad
he’s also an “not under my roof” dad
I know many “I’m proud of you” dads
many “I’ll kill you if you touch them” dads
lots of “what do you want for Christmas” dads
all of them are “I don’t know if I’m doing this right” dads.
 
My dad is an “I love you” dad
he’s also an “not under my roof” dad
sometimes, that’s really the same thing.

Reverie

i know the nickname i’ll give you
when we become one,
i’ve sketched out the tattoo we’d get
on our ribs like ivory keys,
i know which snap i’ll slot
in my wallet & save as my screensaver,
i know my mother will pray for twins
and deliver Hebrew names
i know the ingredients of your favourite playlist
when R&B was really rhythm and blues,
i know your favourite lip balm and
skin butter and where you like my teeth,
i don’t know which Korean drama is streaming
and i won’t watch but i’ll make tea with the lemon in

you, my moon, are a reverie,
a delirium
i can not shake.

Wavy

      when I do
I love like a south east Asian tsunami.
I don’t know how else to be,
I could try being a steady wave
a love that is lapped
                       onto shore
and stored in seashells…

  what kind of love is that?
not mine.
                   not mine.
I will always be
       white capped
       hundred feet
           waves.

I love because I can

my heart is a balloon
and I am always surprised by how far it can stretch.
I am yet to pop from surprise birthdays and
handmade gifts and framed summer photographs
a quiet kiss, a grazed hand, breakfast…
I just expand and expand with the helium of possibilites
to make cherished ones know they are my suns
and so I love because I can.

People love in different ways,

Some love like blockbuster soundtracks, Hans Zimmer on E, casting you as the caped crusader, the one to save the world, mould you from myth, Hercules can’t match your might draped in her love, love no matter the angles, the shots, sequence, your mask will fall with a boomerang and a kiss.

Some love like traffic lights, with caution and care, love so red it will make you stop.
This amber glow will say relax, slow down, spend time with me, what is time when her light turns seconds to second chances and minutes to eons, and when this love flicks green it will send you on overdrive like a Ferrari on open roads, love like a German throttle, fires in exhaust, liberty.

Some love like ice cream, dairy free or gelato, this one beau you’ll crave in summer and winter, and her siren will make you run, chase, you will never have enough, draped in honey gold, sprinkled with chocolate flakes, melt in your mouth, turn to lava in your throat, this lover will melt you in turn.

Some love like thunderstorms, you see it coming, you’ve read about it, watched the weather warnings yet you have no idea, no idea how the static will course through your veins, love so loud your earth will tremble, everything you thought solid will just Jericho fall. This love is the beginning of endless rain.

Some love you like a spaceship, you understand the science, the chemicals that churn in your gut but the magic is beyond your realms, love so out of orbit, the future is brought forth, the God sprinkled stars bask in the brilliance, comets whirl, the planet beneath your ribs finds its sun and gravity feels like helium.

Some love you like 80s funk and soul, like Gaye and MJ were your resident DJs, riffs that make you sink, bass that makes you trip, I mean look at those hips swing, love like fro combs to the tightest curls, love to unfurl you, reveal you, get you stepping, see the colours, see the rainbow beneath your feet, feel that beat.

So, how will you love me?

Things I told her

I don’t want to share you with any arm, lip, shoulder, breath or caress,
God, I don’t want the wind in your curls without my say so.

I want to tuck in my shirt,
get that job in London, invest in return tickets to Amsterdam or
meet in European cities like 60’s outlaws,
steal away to Venice like Corsican smugglers,
build weekend fortresses in Budapest,
slumber on sleeper trains to St Petersburg,
piss off the Mafia, seek refuge in the Vatican,
take a pilgrimage to Eke and Nazareth…

That day on the beach, you were the dawn
the walk to the lighthouse a waltz
the sands beneath us – clouds.
Before, that thing in my chest beat like monsoons
as my drenched palms sought yours, but
that day on the beach, it was as steady as the tides lapped up in seashells
and when your thumb traced my fingers
it was like the divine touch turning dust to living clay.

I want to be up at 3.43am on Thursday nights to hear your drunk thoughts.
I told a stranger at a posh bar you were the love of my life
and she said I should make it work.
I don’t know how these things work.

A love note I will not send

I want to be the lash that fights the dust on the plains of your almond eyes,
I want to be the Moroccan oil that polishes your cheek, the oasis that you keep,
I want to be the strawberry balm that anoints your lips, that tells the wind “no” and the sun “yes”,
I want to be the sinew beneath your chest, yes, the arch in your feet wherever you tread.

I want the air in your lungs to go stale without the residue of my breath in your veins.
I want to be the blood that makes your marrow wet.
I want eternity in the times we have.

Which love do you prefer?

            A
Love is not a tank or a war, it is
beetle in dirt nurturing seed,
morning dew wetting sapling,
westerly wind strengthening bark,
spring ray nudging shy bud.

Darling, I will love you as tenderly
as a hurricane kisses coconuts on the bay.

             B
My love, like a Colombian espresso
distilled into tiny china and bombed down like rum
that sweet heat that ravenous river
cascading into you like waterfalls,
making ravines in the corners of your ribs,
lighting caves in the chambers of your quickened heart
watching your pupils dilate, nostrils flare,
and lips quiver like they just found God, again.