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When You Know You’re Not In Someone’s League

Young Woman With Ibis- Edgar Degas 1860-1862

There’s a league,
some know it, some are
bound to stay in their place,
but I am stubborn.
I know no league of my own,
however, I wouldn’t dare cross yours.

The door is padlocked,
no one has a key.
I’ll never be that lucky.
With all my rights, my wrongs
take over and they tell me that
I am not worthy,
I cannot open you.

I can sit and listen to
the ailments that come from
a broken heart, can lend a kind word,
send a tight hug, but I
deny you from my dreams.
You are sacred territory,
I am not fit to clean
the grounds
or roam them freely.

I know this.
The knowing introduces itself
at night, it comes cloaked as
an angel, but I know the Devil
even when in disguise.
I shake the hinges and chain
my heart.

There’s no room for me,
not now.
There’s no way for me,
not now.
I observe every league and count
the beings who are diamonds to
my gold.

My love,
I am not fit to shine
in your direction. I am a
hollowed wall, crumbling in
your midst.
You are what I fear.

savoir-faire

An Audio Poem

After Bathing, Woman Drying Herself|Edgar Degas

I think it was your knowledge
of everything grim yet hopeful
and all things political that
lured me to you.
I could be even more honest and
say that your poetry captivated me
from the moment I saw you
among a host of others, those who
did not strike the first blow.

You–you had an air about you
that said, “I bite, but gently,” and
I am stubborn and attracted to
what can both harm and love me
at the same time.
Is it any wonder that I’d fall
for such an enigma?
For such a mysterious creature
not yet sure of herself either?

But your savoir-faire precedes you,
I shook hands with it,
before I laid eyes on you.

Worn

Worn Out|Vincent van Gogh – 1881

beaten into defeat,
worn and torn, his
body cannot go on.
he leans into himself,
gathers the strength to
breathe out a sigh, and
tucks his sullen demeanor
into his pockets.

two more shifts before
night’s end.
will he make it?
can he make it?
he doesn’t know, but
he will try.

that’s all that’s left 
of him.

spread

Nude Woman Holding a Cup|Léon Spilliaert – 1910

yesterday, right before the moon
began to smile,
I left you.
I gathered our memories,
tossed them into an old
file box, and neatly placed it
on the top shelf of my
coat closet.

I won’t think of the way
you would spread your
legs wide, an invitation for
an eager grin and two
busy hands–those days are
long gone now.

how you hovered over
me, breath–the scent of lilac
and clover, plus fresh mint.
you were my sunshine,
a bright light that lit up
my heart for seventeen years.

today, I remember yesterday
and all of the yesterdays before
it, and I light a match,
flick it into the box where
our sacred past resides,
and watch it
burn.

I spread the ashes
over my feet
and walk away changed.