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About Deviant sharonFemale/United States Recent Activity
Deviant for 8 Years
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birdsong on a battlefield
On my first night here, the amber candlelight flickered invitingly
over the village, and I was transfixed by the sight;
like a dream-like setting, a place where all forms of possibility
rise, like chimney smoke into the mulberry ripe air.
Oh but as I had predicted, you were not as impressed as I was by this
because you had seen this view, a hundred; maybe even a thousand times before,
I'm sure; in your tragically young and strong-willed,
noble-hearted, and yet, still stubborn-minded lifetime.
However, I was new here, having just stepped off of the dusty age-beaten dirt road
bordering the “lake of invisible mermaids and great green monsters”,
as the villagers called it in those days;
just me in my worn sand-colored trousers and a linen shirt that was
dyed a forget-me-not blue by my mother,
with a knapsack slung over one shoulder,
and an ever-hopeful and curious gleam in my Welsh-hills gray-green eyes.
Oh boy, I bet that when you saw me, the first time,
you laughed inwardly,
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 8 0
Harbor Lights by autumn-spirit Harbor Lights :iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 9 1
God save our young blood
You were waiting at the bus stop, with starfish clips in your hair;
with ear-buds tucked in your ears, through which
Sunset Boulevard melodies streamed into your memory,
but you weren't as broken as you appeared to be..
Oh no, my faithful Bliss, I hate to break it to you,
but you don't look nearly as invisible and inconsequential as you feel inside;
and who am I to say so, to know better, you ask.
Well, I'm just a guy who's been around, peering over the ivy and red-brick wall
that you've built up around your ego, your swift live-fast-die-young reputation;
a penchant for trouble, excitement and dancing heartbeats.
Girl, you never saw me coming, and granted; I didn't know you, either,
but I was still there, I can assure you; on the margins of your memory,
your day-to-day schedule, like a blurry Monet landscape.
I had only heard of you in passing, at parties on the beach,
after-midnight bonfires; all crackling wood-chips and sea-salt,
the taste of caramel and root beer on my lips, the tas
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 5 0
blue-skinned boys
I tried to find you in our old neighborhood, only traces, boy;
snapshots, flashes of your know-it-all grin
reflected on the surface of turquoise pool water,
in the alleyways, pushed up against the cracked walls.
I remember feeling resistance in the shadowy
rain-streaked outline of your arms,
hearing familiar whispers of “I can't”
in the sugar-palm and sea-brine breeze,
but it was nothing too crazy, I promise;
nothing too queer and hinting at obsession and regret,
unfinished business, a roller-coaster of emotion
more thrilling than any amusement park ride that ever
ran in circles, upside-down and around;
butterflies-in-your-stomach, last-glance ruin.
And we left so many things unsaid, back when we were
two blue-skinned boys, learning how to swim in the ocean;
with its merciless waves tugging at our skinny little limbs,
threatening to pull us under, take us far far away
from the not-so-warm, yet, still familiar comforts of home..
Or should I say “home-base”?
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 8 0
I pulled you out of the river, girl, as if you were a swan maiden;
shot down by some cruel and greedy archer, hiding between the juniper shades,
the tip of an arrow pointed directly at your elegant and curved, long, neck;
the beat of your Scotch Mist wings, the gentle fluttering of a near-death experience,
only solidifying his cold-hearted intent.
Oh I watched you fall, but I couldn't stomach the sight of your rapidly drowning form;
now completely human, now completely mortal and feminine,
so lackluster, as all of the natural color drained from
your cheekbones, your lace-trim jaw-line and tulip mouth;
as your breath caught in your throat, eliciting only a handful of stuttering gasps,
desperately clinging to the fragile spring life-lines,
the thinning threads of a sinking star-ship, a silver-gold youth..
Flightless bird, I could not live with myself if I were to ignore your gargled screams;
the frantic splashing sounds of medusa-haired water,
all threatening and envy green-colored fear
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 14 0
letters to the sky
One Monday morning, before the dawn's sunflower light casts its shadow
over my clay-toned features, I wake up to a curtain of silver rain,
falling gracefully outside my window; and your ghost is there,
materialized, floating; see-through, over the balcony.
But the strangest thing about your sudden appearance is actually
your wings, so iconic for a non-haloed being, dove-white and ever so bold,
taking up space and announcing your arrival
as always a heaven-sent; goddamn half-bird-half-human, star-skinned child.
Yet now, they are nowhere in sight; your wings, that is, boy;
I can't help but notice right away how they are suddenly missing.
And sitting up in my large bed, I feel the cold and empty spaces around me,
as I watch your phantom press a hand against the glass bordering my bedroom.
I find my lips forming the forbidden shape of your name, but no sound comes out.
And before I can gather up the courage to call out to your impossibly
shimmering silhouette, you are already gone, vanishi
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 10 0
country breakfast by autumn-spirit country breakfast :iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 5 2 French Toast a la Sharon by autumn-spirit French Toast a la Sharon :iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 8 3
I had your name in my head, before I even knew you..
I swear I'd heard it in some strange deja vu moment, a 12 o'clock fantasy;
all sleepy-eyed, pajama-clad legs, crazy-socked feet and
a tangled mess of honey-brown hair draped down my back,
winter night ice-toned fingers rubbing sawdust from my lavender and sunflower lids.
With my stomach growling, almost subtly; perhaps that was me,
when I first stopped to listen to the rain streaming gently
from the chalk-white heavens, outside that unfamiliar apartment;
as I wondered whether I had been there before,
many years ago, in that slippery-glass hallway.
But maybe, you weren't there at all, darling..
Oh maybe it was really just the dream of somebody like you; understanding and calm,
nonjudgmental and oh-so interested in what I had to say,
in listening to all of my favorite songs,
reading all the scraps of homespun poetry that came out of my head; my heart,
too fast and never making it to the publisher's office in time
for his or her morning
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 9 0
Oh some people might call me crazy, confused, still; shameless and lost,
a golden sunrise broken child with not so much as an ounce of common sense,
leaving behind bread crumbs; tracks everywhere,
all the way up from the navy-blue and scarlet East Coast,
down south, back to his moss-and-ivy green hometown of Metairie, Louisiana.
Some folks might even claim that I got what I deserved,
that it's only a matter of time before I burn up; from the inside out, and
turn this godless, yet, still scorching bronze soul of mine
black with the very fire that made my renaissance-heart beat so fiercely before.
Oh yes, but tell me; even if that's true, dear Leon,
would you still come looking for me then, between the faithful bride-white
magnolia trees, through the cotton fields and peach groves,
if you knew that I was still here waiting, shamelessly, would you come meet me?
Oh I could never say no to you, Leon; that's the god-honest truth..
And coming from a cellophane sinner like me, you'd better bel
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 10 0
Druid blood and flower crowns
Your sea-glass eyes peek out from beneath fern fronds and ice-pine saplings,
always careful, always watchful; collected in the way
they follow passersby on the road, patiently waiting for the right moment,
for the right target to appear; perhaps on horseback,
or on the soles of dirt-encrusted boots.
You've changed so much, girl, in such a short amount of time.
Like a serpent, you live in hiding now,
slithering around the borderlands of a place you once called “Paradise on Earth”.
Oh how strange it is to think about the times when
you used to dance in the courtyard of your family's summer-house,
a perfect Elizabethan cottage; all ivy and tea-roses,
emerald maze-gardens and wild rabbits
hiding in mulberry hedges, behind marble bird-baths.
“That was another life, entirely..”
Girl, your voice carries a note of regret, and yet,
the rest of your emotions are overpowered by sharp and heavy doses of pent-up rage
and fiery scorn; bitter pain, the inability to trust,
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 12 0
of blood-root and naivete
All I remember from that ink-splattered blue-black night;
before I took my last sip of mulberry wine from the bottle
hidden snugly inside your hunter's pouch
and we kissed until we fell asleep, is how
the sky was tainted with fire and lightning;
remnants of a war that went by, too quickly
to be completely erased, to be trusted as genuine relief,
to be comforting in any way, shape or form.
And all I remember is that you were searching for hope,
boy, your eyes searching for a light
through the gloomy wall of trees surrounding us; and
I was just trying not to think too much about anything,
to just live in the moment, listening to the sounds of
nocturnal creatures lurking around;
all disquiet and anxious, buzzing with electricity,
with strange radioactive energy, just like us.
The owls and coyotes; insects and god-knows-what else, were
making more noise than usual, and unexpectedly,
you held my hand because you thought I was scared.
But the truth is that I was just tired of
putting on a br
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 11 0
missed the exit
Maybe I shouldn't have stayed as long as I had
in that tiny little town near Mohican Hills, Ohio.
Maybe I shouldn't have gotten on a bus, after outstaying my welcome
in the Midwest and headed for your city of origin;
your home in the clouds, high up in the Catskill mountains,
surrounded by fog and evergreen pollen, haunted
by blackbird calls and the distant mechanical churning of wheels,
of train engines and newsboy shouts.
Perhaps I should have been braver, more resourceful and less vulnerable,
picking up my few belongings and walking out
into the chilly and unpredictable iced cherry air.
I told myself that I only needed one night to realize where we stood
and what we meant to each other, assuming that the end was near,
assuming that I had nothing left to lose but the memory of your smile;
crooked, due to the cigarette tucked between your marzipan-dusted lips.
And perhaps, I was just a foolish girl who lost her footing,
who trusted a stranger; a self-proclaimed drifter, city-slick sin
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 9 0
We are pressed shoulder-to-shoulder, in this makeshift lean-to;
built with poles and branches from old dead woodpecker havens,
hummingbird twigs and scraps of dream-cloth, tarp and aluminum from an old rocket,
fired off from an unknown faraway kingdom; into this great navy expanse of night,
and missing the stars, landing here, of all damn places, where we are; you and I,
lying side-by-side, in the middle of a castaway's hidden jungle.
Oh where the sky was once tattooed with little glittering jewels for your own amusement,
girl, it is now just sporting a terrifying gray-orange-red tint
as clouds of toxic gas engulf the sun; the early June half-moon,
and everything enchanting that ever smiled down on us from above.
And you don't know how much I wish I could wake you up with a different scene entirely..
Yes, I wish I could take you back to what was once our unassuming railroad town,
in our home-country of wheat and lavender fields; old cowboy saloons and
other square-shaped buildings, dre
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 11 0
I'd give you the world
There is no wedding-cake moon on our side of the planet, friend.
It might sound absurd but it's the god-honest truth, if ever there was one.
Whenever I look out the windows of my apartment in the upper-city,
I see a cluster of equally crystal-styled buildings and skyscrapers
surrounding my super-lux home, where the night is nothing but onyx-black
and slick; shiny and perfect,  smooth-faced and hollow with no stars,
no wish-granting diamonds to give it that magical quality
that it always has in Turn of the Century romance novels.
Of course, on your side; in the slums, you don't even get
a ceiling of velvet-patterned sky, boy.
No, where you grew up, the paper-cut houses of the poor and sick are
all that remains of a dilapidated and abandoned kingdom;
not even green and lush with 1950s lawns, no, not anymore.
Your world only consists now of grimy alleyways and mini fires that
burn bird-and-grass meals for large and hungry families;
knife-and-cheek cement slabs for sidewalks, dumpster
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 9 3
Holy Ghost
Pale blue-yellow skies, winter chill and violet eyelids;
that is all that this city is reduced to, now that you're gone,
now that your precious name has been smudged out of our hometown record.
It's so frustratingly sad, but true; my lock-heart season,
your memory has now been compromised, somewhere out there,
in that immeasurable and silver-toned ghost-space.
Even so, I promised myself that I wouldn't let you float too far away from me..
Because blood-brothers; we swore, almost a decade ago,
with actual gold and brass markings, hands gripping forearms,
promising to never abandon one another in any type of
hopeless scenario or post-apocalyptic universe.
Friend, it was just that; an oath that could never be undone, could never be soiled or broken.
And perhaps, I put too much faith in this; perhaps,
I got carried away by my self-assured means of survival, didn't
look back long enough to see what you needed most in that moment,
failed to catch the eerie signs of toxic violence
lurking aro
:iconautumn-spirit:autumn-spirit 9 0


Audio ghost
Subliminal thoughts
Skipping tracks
Mind contortionist
Marksman in my head
:iconrjbg:RJBG 11 0
on a clear day you can see Brooklyn
casually surrounded by piles of books-
obsolete accounts of bespoke legerdemain-
in terrazzo-tiled halls
schmoozing in the voluminous folds
of Lady Liberty's skirts-
here I remain
beside these muttering testimonials
as if
they were transfigured
as if they were herringbone gears of
a complex drivetrain for a stupendous
one with which I might ascend to rarified climes
to see the world
to escape
to be on a first name basis with angels...
:iconblacksand459:Blacksand459 3 2
Sweet Dango! Japanese Traditional Sweets. by hanatsukuri Sweet Dango! Japanese Traditional Sweets. :iconhanatsukuri:hanatsukuri 25 15 Freyja by Ephaistien Freyja :iconephaistien:Ephaistien 148 60 Bubblegum x Marceline by Fumicheri Bubblegum x Marceline :iconfumicheri:Fumicheri 336 29 Bubblinee by Elentori Bubblinee :iconelentori:Elentori 843 9 ... by mechtaniya ... :iconmechtaniya:mechtaniya 92 8 diamond in the rough by SonaLorano diamond in the rough :iconsonalorano:SonaLorano 59 9
and now i will sell it, watch me.
i’ll write an autobiography titled
           IN LOVE
SKINNY                  AMERICAN
                   AND OTHER THINGS I’M NOT
and maybe it’d sell
a few copies
                                   or many copies
     you’d get one
straight from the press
          hot and smelling like
  newly printed paper.            you’d read it
and it’d make
:iconpansydiv:pansydiv 16 11
Viktor - Cosplay Again by robin2712 Viktor - Cosplay Again :iconrobin2712:robin2712 5 0 'Vulnerable'- 8 Dec 2018 Commemoration! by Oasis-sky 'Vulnerable'- 8 Dec 2018 Commemoration! :iconoasis-sky:Oasis-sky 4 0
Broken Wings
We kept the other out here in the air
We didn’t ever see how we were falling down
She doesn’t believe I really care
And she’ll be running soon as her feet touch ground
The angels lead me on
Away from loving arms
I never knew what we were all about
I turned and found out I had been left behind
Empty within and without
I keep crying and shout, held back by ties that blind
The angels lead me on
Away from loving arms
My home is built on shifting sands
Al I understand, is where I fell and went wrong
Left with empty hands
And my long fall coming, to plunge down to fall headlong
The angels lead me on
Away from loving arms
:iconshihsntz:ShihSnTz 19 7
Urban Walkabout by Pajunen Urban Walkabout :iconpajunen:Pajunen 1,182 108
to yawning tigers by jade fountains
talk fills the empty Chinese restaurant at midnight-
tiki umbrella shadows
empty red vinyl booth shadows
island no music is playing
hear the non-rhythms
damn his soup
damn the golden tiger by the jade fountain
plaster-of-paris carnivore
traffic ignores you now  
:iconblacksand459:Blacksand459 2 0
60 Years by StargazeAndSundance 60 Years :iconstargazeandsundance:StargazeAndSundance 9 3 Annika by Val-Mont
Mature content
Annika :iconval-mont:Val-Mont 137 3


On my first night here, the amber candlelight flickered invitingly
over the village, and I was transfixed by the sight;
like a dream-like setting, a place where all forms of possibility
rise, like chimney smoke into the mulberry ripe air.
Oh but as I had predicted, you were not as impressed as I was by this
because you had seen this view, a hundred; maybe even a thousand times before,
I'm sure; in your tragically young and strong-willed,
noble-hearted, and yet, still stubborn-minded lifetime.
However, I was new here, having just stepped off of the dusty age-beaten dirt road
bordering the “lake of invisible mermaids and great green monsters”,
as the villagers called it in those days;
just me in my worn sand-colored trousers and a linen shirt that was
dyed a forget-me-not blue by my mother,
with a knapsack slung over one shoulder,
and an ever-hopeful and curious gleam in my Welsh-hills gray-green eyes.

Oh boy, I bet that when you saw me, the first time,
you laughed inwardly, thinking that I looked like the biggest fool on the planet,
the sorriest Peter Pan reject; while on the outside,
you maintained a perfectly cool and stern expression on your face,
a frown pulling at the corners of your copper mouth,
displaying priceless scorn at the sight of a stray cat showing up, out of the blue,
on your father's doorstep; a country-bumpkin appearing,
one early morning in late March, oh am I right?
But it doesn't matter to me, though, I'm sure that you weren't expecting the kid
that your father hired to be your personal servant;
a valet of some unfortunate sort, to be such a breaker of rules,
speaking his mind and bad-mouthing you from the very start,
calling you out on your arrogance and oblivious nature,
not afraid of being struck down on the spot.
Yes, Sir Fake Lancelot, I bet you weren't expecting this from me at all..
Yet, you caught me by surprise, as well; or rather the circumstances did,
for I wasn't expecting to be appointed to such a high-ranking
and sought-after role; to be placed in the thorn-crowned position of being
your attendant, standing so close to pure-blooded royalty and
detesting every minute of it, all on my very first day on the job.

Oh it was a parody of an epic tragedy, a ballad, not quite taken seriously.
At the time, I wished I could curse the gods,
if I had it in me to go against my mother's faith, her long-standing belief
in the spirits of the natural world, the Celtic legends
that I grew up hearing about every night before bed;
tales of Wiccan chiefs and fey folk, healing gourds
filled to the brim with drinking-stars,
and protection runes carved into immortal tree bark.
Not even banshees scared me anymore, no; for I was taught to see death
with bright eyes, to accept it as a necessary passage to higher dimensions
where our souls could be free to roam peacefully
over water and earth, no longer weighed down by heavy and aching limbs,
eggshell skins and ashen daisy-powder bones.
Oh back then, I was young and proud, eager to make something of myself
that would surpass everybody's expectations;
their wildest imaginations, painting my name on their lips in transparent gold,
so that even when they swore that they couldn't remember it,
I knew that they were bluffing; I knew that
I had surely made an impact, no matter how small.

Oh that's what we all want, isn't it; to be recognized
for some heroic deed or selfless sacrifice,
on our failed-to-fly-but-still-trying all-human part?
Oh yes, you would agree with me because
all you did was dream about being spoken of with so much adoration,
that the echoes of your subjects' voices reached the very heavens above
and you would be rewarded by the angels for living up to the name
that you inherited at birth and that made you a prince, to begin with.
Yes, indeed, that's what we all want, isn't it;
to be respected and remembered, for decades to come?
Some of us want it to the full extent of shining winning-fame and fortune,
penned proof of our achievements on scrolls and journals, on legal documents;
while others only wish to be thanked, every once in awhile.
And I guess I'm one of the latter, friend, and you are definitely the former,
and there isn't a goddamn thing either of us can do about it; how fate
decided to push us in each others' paths, whether we liked it or not,
whether we wanted to fight the saints on this seemingly insane and ill-fated choice,
or just succumb to the irritable proximity of the situation that we were both in.

It was all out of our control and I can't blame you for being angry,
friend; for looking at me with nothing but derision
in your cerulean-blue stare when we first met,
because, god knows, the feeling was mutual.
Yet, now it doesn't matter, does it; those first few impressions..
No, now we sit with other knights around a campfire at dusk and
trust one another with all of our doubts and fears, unburdening thoughts
of shame and casting them into the hickory-smoke flames,
watching as flicker-beat fireflies rise from the ashes of our past mistakes,
soaring up into the crisp night air; like tiny bits of proof
that heaven actually exists beyond this
tangible and thick darkness, somewhere unknown.

Oh I assure you; I am not the only traveler here on this spacious jade-green land,
that hasn't felt lost and confused, at least once in his life.
No, I am not the only lonely soul who hasn't cursed his own reflection in the mirror
on nights when he is haunted by images of unrequited love;
of candlelit beauty, so easily admired from a distance, so utterly flawed up close.
Oh of straw-colored hair, made to resemble gold in drunk sour-wine poetry, and
eyes like storm-clouds; that is your caricature, burning in effigy now, friend; and
it is not a fairy-tale when you are stoned to death for believing certain things,
for practicing sorcery or simply being yourself.
You cannot blame the unfortunate, yet, brave ones
who stood up to your father and forefathers, who still think of you as the enemy,
as a threat to their safety; their survival and happiness,
in this magnificent dragon-scale kingdom in time.

And yet, despite it all, I still had faith in you; in my starlit knight
in crescent-moon-skinned armor,
believing that you could be better than the men who came before you,
those blinded by greed and poorly aimed power;
something that they called justice,
that was really just an excuse to kill that which they feared most.
Yes, that is why I chose to stay by your side,
when I could've run away, fled back to my mother's land, to her people;
a village in the mountains, so well hidden that
no one in your topaz city would have ever heard from me again.
Undoubtedly, I should have left when I had the chance
to avoid immeasurable pain, even the threat of death, heartbreak;
seeing lovers fall by the sword, seeing friends engaged in betrayal
again and again, seeing the concept of honor; of good versus evil,
being defied so often, misplaced in drunken dreams
where we shiver through episodes of tearful memories and resentment,
all the while the aftertaste of berry-wine stinging our tongues
and causing us to wake with still-sleepy, misty-heaven and clouded eyes.
Yes, my friend, I stayed; I risked my life, my secret past,
everything I was leaving unsaid and unwritten, because
I remembered having caught traces of compassion in your cobalt-blue stare,
bits of hope and revolutionary courage that I thought
would someday be enough to save us all.

But in retrospect, you never thought I could do much for you, did you?
Oh that is the saddest and most unfair part of all of this;
how there was so much that I could not tell you in the moment,
the short fire-bird red time that we had together, that
one of us took for granted and that the other was forced to let
burn itself out, like ashes on ebony and timber-wood;
sparks of dancing coral ribbons, unmentionable promises and
the truth replaced by sighs and grumblings, childish excuses
and the sound of your name being uttered from an unknown source,
starting out so clear and strong, adequately loud and proud,
eventually trailing off, eventually dying without honor in my throat..
Oh I remember; on a Fall night in the mountains,
when we were alone in the forest and I called out to you, my prince,
you turned around and I saw the stark trust in your irises; and I thought,
for once, that I was exactly where I was meant to be, by your side.
And though you did not say it, I knew in that moment that
you considered me to be one of your closest friends.
As absurd as this sounds, can you believe that I almost stood up and
grasped your shoulders with both hands,
confessed that all this time, I had been wanting to show you everything;
all of the ways in which I could be of service to you
as your mage, your protector, healer, a student of the Old Faith; anything,
really, that you needed me to be, just as long as you promised to still
look at me with those same noble eyes and say that
even after uncovering what I had tried so hard to keep hidden from you;
my identity in shadows, you still loved me, anyway..

Oh yes, my friend, I was almost that type of spineless fool; and sometimes,
believe it or not, I still wish I had listened to my heart instead of my brain
because being called a coward by the person you can't live without doesn't hurt
any less than an actual blade tearing through the leather and tattered cloth,
the flesh that makes up the very being that you are,
ripping out the seal of allegiance to the crown
that you had branded onto my chest on the day that
I had stumbled onto your doorstep, the day
that I resigned my life to being your servant
and declared my destiny to forever be tied to yours.

If I was a better man, I would say that I did all I could for you
and the rest I would leave up to God Himself,
but the truth is that I'm not; I'm not wiser or any less honorable
than your typical soldier, your unnamed peasant companion,
and I am no less cleaner than the lowliest bastard, church-mouse.
And so, that is why no matter how many times
I promise to do better and light votive candles in your memory,
I know that it will never be enough.
No, my prince, I will always wish that I'd had
the supernatural power that any half-mortal needed to save you
from premature and unjust death on a battlefield;
and your response, your echo, will always be silent
in the chapel of St. Cecilia, built by your grandmother,
because the past will always lay unfinished in my mind,
when it comes to the two us; here in this clover-valley.
It is the only real thing you left me with, friend.

I'm sure you didn't meant to, but it is what it is;
and there are so many things that we could have done differently,
but at the last minute, you swore that you understood my reasons
for not telling you who I really was and
that there really was nothing to forgive.
But, friend, can't you see how much harder it makes this whole mourning process,
knowing that you really had no clue how much I would have given up
if you had asked me to, if you had known that I loved you?
Oh it's rotten, isn't it; our luck in the end, our failed attempt at redemption?
“Live by the sword, die by the sword”, that ageless motto goes,
but even though some holy rulers, priests and archbishops,
may claim that violence and greed never ends;
even so, while you were here and breathing,
standing beside me on this fairy-home spring hill,
I swear I felt the kind of hope that only comes around once in a million light-years.

Oh you were my sun, even though I never would have admitted
how much I needed your warmth, your optimism;
while all around us, there was so much bleak devastation, merciless gray judgment.
Listlessly, inconsequentially, I remember now
how on the night before that last tragedy occurred,
no banshee did howl into the east wind; a wrecked war cry,
spelling out your name across the charcoal sky.
No, there was no warning sign before your sudden demise, boy,
because; to my unacknowledged surprise, I realized that
I had been denying the inevitable, all along.
Yes, the dragon mages did warn me once on a clear evening,
in a prophetic dream amid candlelight, that
a friend of ours would indeed betray our trust in him and
reward our kindness in helping him escape, long ago,
with resentment and silent hatred.
The oracle said that he would stab you in the chest with an ancient Celtic blade,
feel no remorse as he watched you fall to your knees,
but also feel nothing akin to satisfaction, only pure
regret that the bloody moment hadn't come a day sooner..

And as I saw you; vulnerable on the ground, in that split second,
I heard you gasp your last breath, holding it in
against your utter refusal to live with such shame in your dulling Persian-blue eyes.
Choking on the spirit of the crown you were; of
the lion symbol that had always adorned your father's house,
your father's strong and prideful name losing its luster like a pearl,
washed up on some forsaken Viking-conquered shore.
And all I felt in that moment was dread,
watching devastating defeat in those images
flashing before my still sealed-shut nightmare-eyes.
Friend, I swear I felt fear like ice water trickling down my spine;
and I wanted to reach out my hand into the fire of an unseen battle
and hold you close, hold you there, alive..
It was then that my tutor woke me up;
when I started mumbling your name in a cold-sweat sort of daze,
and he said that I sounded inconsolable,
that I sounded strange and unlike myself, suddenly so faraway,
like an echo of the fragility of youth.

But in the end, I had no choice but to confess what I had been hiding,
all along; the fact that I had been keeping this huge part of my identity
a secret from my very best friend in the entire world.
And there never will be any excuse or reason that wouldn't sound terrible
to my own ears, no matter the logic behind it.
Yes, that's the truth, the fact that I didn't want you to see me as anything
other than your most trusted companion, your brother in arms;
and how it could've been so much worse,
how you could've banished me from your presence, your court,
forever; or locked me up in a tower, yet,
still seeing the pain caused by my betrayal in your cerulean stare,
I swear that it killed me, right then and there.

“But I understand,” you said, unexpectedly,
quietly showing your own vulnerability
in a moment of hourglass enlightenment, just before we ran out of time.
“I understand why you kept this hidden from me,
and it must have been torture;
these last three years, living in fear, holding your breath,
every second of every day,
afraid of saying too much; of making a mistake
that would cost you your very life.
I am so sorry about that,
about putting you in such a difficult and dangerous position,
backing you up into a corner; into a spot where a sword hung above your head,
even though I wasn't aware of it.”
Then you looked at me steadily and said,
“It's my fault, too; for not standing up for people like you,
for not letting you know, from the very beginning,
that you should never be afraid to be yourself.”
And to my utter shock and confusion then,
your eyes misted over with fresh tears as you whispered those last words,
and you turned away from me, hiding your embarrassment
like only an aristocrat would ever do.

Oh I couldn't tell you what I wished for most, in that moment;
for your life to be restored to how it was, only a few hours before,
golden and bright, without any risk of dimming in the slightest;
or for mine to be taken in place of yours by some jealous god
or green-skinned unnamed forest nymph with a merciful heart.
Oh boy, you collapsed in my arms, after taking only
a few staggering steps in the direction of the river,
the wound that you received from that rusty Druid blade
refusing to heal, underneath your armor.
And there was nothing more I could do,
I was being told this from a heavenly voice that sounded too faraway
to be believable; and so, I refused to say goodbye,
even as you leaned your head back on my shoulder and told me that
all you needed was for me to stay there and hold you.

Oh no matter how tragic and unfair that instant felt,
weighing down on me all around, still, I refused to let the reality
or the sadness of it settle and sink in; like the tide that rolls into the bay,
into a place where the ocean and the river meet, coming together to collect
and eventually sweep away your weary Libra bones.
No, boy, I clenched my fists against the rough and tattered material of your cloak,
the one you wore underneath all that metal that was
supposed to protect your youthful flesh and hold you up to your full height and stature;
more than just that, more than an autumn-born king,
a sheltered ruler, not yet 20 years old.
I remained stubborn, sure; shouting at the heavens,
begging God for forgiveness and mercy,
until my voice died out and my throat became so sore,
that it failed me with an angry and tearful groan.
Oh I knew that you were gone, of course,
but I still grasped at whatever warmth that I could gather from your body,
the one that still felt strong and vital in my arms.
Oh I was hoping that you were actually playing a cruel joke on me, friend,
playing dead like a hunting dog in training;
I wished that you would open your eyes slowly and call me a fool, for old time's sake.
Yet, it all froze over then; the faith I had clung to for so long,
the hope of resurrection, of a second coming
in the form of a golden-haired prince who I never thought I would
find myself so horribly close to,
bound by something a little less ridiculous-sounding than destiny,
a little more than the kind of love that
won't let you move on or rest in a sort of resigned peace.

Oh you were mine, and yet; you weren't, really.
No, you were everybody's; and I was just the one who saw you fall,
who was there, at the very last moment.
And I know now that after I confessed my secret and you whispered
“Don't ever change”, you were actually
saying thank-you, and it left me speechless, friend.
But even so, it was up to me to send your soul out to sea; to lay
your body down in a rowboat, as per tradition in your land,
and watch it disappear into the glen-loch mist.
And it didn't matter if I didn't feel worthy in the end, acting as
a sort of highwayman in this strange passage to the after-life,
one that I wasn't even sure existed, that I longed to follow you through.
Oh no, it didn't matter because I knew I would be waiting for your ghost
to turn around, either way, to give me that overconfident smile
that used to drive me insane; and until then,
I would be haunted by the memory of the last time you said my name.

Yes, at the time, I was inconsolable, so hard to reach in my own sorrow,
because the truth is that when that rowboat floated away
with your body lying still and frozen in it, friend,
it felt like the current had taken a piece of me that
I never wished to reclaim without you.
Alas, like a birdsong on a battlefield;
the whisper of innocence and joy sounding so out-of-place,
your voice did reach me after that, years later;
when I had grown older, yet, no less wiser,
still carrying a torch for the steady beat of your lion-heart, my king.
birdsong on a battlefield
inspired by these beautifully sad Merthur videos :)…

song: The night we met by Lord Huron…

song: Echo by Jason walker
You were waiting at the bus stop, with starfish clips in your hair;
with ear-buds tucked in your ears, through which
Sunset Boulevard melodies streamed into your memory,
but you weren't as broken as you appeared to be..
Oh no, my faithful Bliss, I hate to break it to you,
but you don't look nearly as invisible and inconsequential as you feel inside;
and who am I to say so, to know better, you ask.
Well, I'm just a guy who's been around, peering over the ivy and red-brick wall
that you've built up around your ego, your swift live-fast-die-young reputation;
a penchant for trouble, excitement and dancing heartbeats.
Girl, you never saw me coming, and granted; I didn't know you, either,
but I was still there, I can assure you; on the margins of your memory,
your day-to-day schedule, like a blurry Monet landscape.

I had only heard of you in passing, at parties on the beach,
after-midnight bonfires; all crackling wood-chips and sea-salt,
the taste of caramel and root beer on my lips, the taste of
a quick shallow kiss from a girl who wasn't quite a friend
and not exactly a lover, either.
Oh before you get all defensive, Bliss,
wondering what kind of gossip I heard,
you should know that the way that people whispered about you was
how old-time sailors used to spin out tales of sirens;  
vivid and often exaggerated descriptions of half-fish-half-human females
rising from the wicked gray-green sea,
enchanting men with their voices, coaxing
only the lowest of treasure-hunting fools into the water
below their ships' bows, luring blind mortals with tinkling jade-like arias.
Oh yes, they spoke about you in a way
that made me doubt whether or not you were actually real,
somehow just a loser's fantasy of a street-wise drifter
with peach-tinted skin and captivating sage-green eyes.
They said that you were some kind of pickpocket with an unknown accomplice;
with a getaway car and a taser that you kept hidden
either in your purse or underneath whatever cocktail dress
that you had swiped from someone else's clothesline.
According to my peers, you always targeted the rich and deluded
belles and bachelors of our Southern Comfort society,
never batting an eyelash at authority, at police officers
or stocky security guards at ritzy clubs;
white-collar bars that were your playground, because
word on the street was that you could run faster than any gazelle,
sprinting breathlessly away from a lion or other savanna predator.

Oh girl, I was sure that these stories sounded too far-fetched to be
based on anything close to reality, in the same vicinity
as your unrecorded presence; all sneaker footprints on melting tar
and concrete chipped sidewalks, broken bicycle chains
and screwdrivers, pale pink ballerina slippers.
But as it turned out; much to my surprise and admitted curiosity,
those people spreading gossip as a way of passing time
between history and calculus classes, choir practice and sit-down family dinners;
those people that I had considered to be gullible and drunk, high
off cocaine and wine spritzers, had gotten a few things right, after all.
For starters, girl, you really were sly and nymph-like, to the bone.
Yeah, even in frayed jeans and a Goodwill hoodie, you wore this modern era so well,
adopting an attitude that screams “free-bird”, a curious way of carrying yourself
over the crumbling Projects; these caving tin rooftops, like you didn't give a damn
how much you have to lose, which is nothing too precious,
like you were constantly living on the edge
because you knew no other way of breathing
Indian Paintbrush fire through chlorine-flooded lungs.

With no swimming-suit on, you leaped into the ocean; like a tiny October suicide-baby,
because I dared you to and you fired back at me with all the bullets you had saved up
on the tip of your tart raspberry-tongue,
refusing to swallow the bile of ever being wrong, ever sounding frightened or panicked;
no, not even a little bit, like a brown-and-white cottontail rabbit.
Oh but I have to tell you now, girl, before it's too late; that I was the one at fault,
that I was the one who spoke out of ignorance, out of pain and anger;
pride damaged by a death in the family that tore me apart, ages ago.
Now, reading the emptiness in your round marsh-green eyes,
you're my starlit silent fighter in Rock n' Roll t-shirt sleeves;
and I know that no excuse or apology I make will ever justify
taking your feelings for granted, mocking the cause of your long-carried depression.
No, god knows; it will never make us even, but I am still determined to keep trying
to prove my worth, my courage, the right to stand beside you
and share the burden, under tainted urban wire-lit cerulean skies.

Spitfire street-kid, yeah; I guess some people would assume
that this is all you're made of, taking into account the way
you dress and float around in trail-beaten sneakers, ironically,
with the gold ring that your father gave you still sparkling on your pinkie-finger;
with the word “goodbye” permanently scratched out of the travel-sized dictionary
that you carry in the pocket of your heavy-duty army-green hooded jacket.
“Oh she's a character!” people mutter as you walk past.
But I smirk silently to myself, knowing just how wrong they really are
for judging and labeling you like that because
the truth is that this wild-child persona is not the real you at all..

And even if my friends ask me, “How exactly do you know that?”,
I'll never tell them how you taught me your secret code of misplaced honor, girl;
how you showed me the trick to getting away with murder and other delicate crimes,
as swiftly as a garden snake in summer, explaining that:
“Character is what you do when nobody is watching”.
And I know you embellished on this meaning off of a famous quote,
but to tell you the truth, I found that I still admired you for it;
how you took whatever life threw at you and molded it to suit your purpose.
And yeah, some folks may claim that you're nothing but a cold-hearted swindler,
a tramp who thinks she's too clever and witty, too ruthless
to ever get caught; that it's only a matter of time
before she's cornered with her back against a wall,
fighting for survival, just like everybody she has ever mocked.
But I refuse to believe it to be true, girl, because I have more faith in you..

Even taking into account, your split-end thorns and roses, sugar-skull persona;
your old dusty sweatshirt and frayed denim shorts, your gladiator sandals and,
the tough windblown drifter-spirit that is still there,
still visible underneath your desolate shadow, even then;
what people tend to miss is the subtle irony,
glittering like sunlight on your tiniest baby finger,
the gold band that your father gifted you not long before
his car skidded across the Crescent City bridge,
going over the railing and causing a shattering explosion
that led to him drowning in the deep gray-blue star-illuminated haunted River Delta.
Oh girl, funnily enough; despite our differences,
I know exactly what it's like to be misjudged, every time you step out your front door.

Yes, Bliss, believe it or not, I know how you must feel when people in town;
at school or in the hospital, at the convenience store,
practically everywhere, look at you with suspicious eyes, claiming that
you're trash, even before you open your mouth.
Yes, I know because it's so goddamn frustrating
how whenever I walk into any Claiborne establishment,
people immediately assume that I don't belong, that I'm a thug, a low-life;
their eyes following my every move, waiting anxiously
for a slip-up on my part, for a confirmation from above that I am indeed
the immoral and conceited, lawless scum of the earth.
Oh you don't have to tell me about prejudice, girl,
because when the skin you were born in is as coffee-brown; as dark as mine,
you learn early on that ignoring this kind of thing and moving on,
choosing not to hide from the sun, no matter how
scorching hot and uncomfortable it is out in the open, amid blaring car horns,
sirens and shouted slurs; it's easier said than done..
Yeah, I'll even go as far as to say that sometimes it's almost impossible, sweetheart.

And I remember one of our earliest arguments, how you fired back at me
when I accused you of playing up your “white privilege” stance;
making yourself out to be a victim, when you weren't one, really.
I insisted that you could be reckless to your heart's content
because nobody would suspect a thing, looking like you did; like
a long-lost Hollywood starlet, a milk-carton poster child that the entire nation was
fighting to find alive and healthy, humming Willy Wonka show-tunes
and begging to be taken home, with big Jolly Rancher green eyes
on an innocent Puritan Christian face that no one could say no to.
Oh I'm so sorry that I said all those things, that I was mean and somewhat of a hypocrite,
because I had no idea that just a few hours before, you had almost
been assaulted by a monster; a low-life rich bastard on a night-washed sidewalk,
pressed up against the wall of a speed-chase high club, groped and
almost stripped of your clothes, of your spinel-blue compass-heart humanity.
Girl, you told me about that later; after I'd said some stupidly awful things,
convinced that you were a plain clean-bandit by choice, in comparison to me.

Bliss, you told me that there is really no such thing as unified justice.
Indeed, you scoffed and said that I had some nerve,
accusing you of acting entitled and eternally smug,
when I was the one attending classes at a private religious school.
And you know something, girl? You were right..
I was way out of line, perhaps projecting my own anger and insecurities onto you.
I did apologize later, as we sat on the cold floor of an abandoned church,
gazing at our reflections, mirrored through painted-glass windows;
two very different specimens of the same old Southern Comfort experience,
realizing that discrimination, as it turns out, goes every which way.

And truth be told; if I were to follow you down the river to your old neighborhood,
I most likely would find tiny squares of dried lime-green grass,
surrounded by chain-link fences and simple taupe houses,
hearing the blaring noise of police sirens down every other street,
every other chipped and chalk-paved corner.
Yes, Bliss; inside your home, I would find your mother,
who's seen better days, all wrapped up in a fluffy pink blanket on the couch.
Watching soap operas and smoking cigarette after cigarette,
she would be almost catatonic, her slender fingers still trembling from bouts of anxiety
and depression caused by bad memory-filled dreams from the night before.
Bliss, sometimes she would acknowledge you, without taking her eyes off the television;
and other times, it would just feel like she was just staring through you,
her glassy eyes seeming not to recognize any part of her daughter at all.
Oh like it or not, honey, you were sure that sometimes
your mother was simply searching for god-knows-what, for
some kind of miracle or sign that not all hope was lost.

Ironically, the other day, you introduced me to her as your new friend,
even though technically, I'm not; even though we hardly know each other
and have trouble understanding our reasons for doing shit, most of the time.
But that's just fine by me, sweetheart; I don't have to force a smile
or aid you with a proper introduction..
I don't need to gift your mother with an explanation to put her mind at ease,
to reassure her that I would never let any harm come to her daughter.
In all honesty, I actually appreciate
your willingness to avoid asking and answering too many questions,
even though I think that in your case,
it is more of a coping mechanism than a sincere and real-life personality trait.
But still, girl; in some weird way,
you understand me like no one else does
and I honestly believe that I can help you trust, slowly,
curb your desire to always run away.

Yeah, Bliss, I'm dead serious because you're eighteen and still breathing, girl..
Although some people may not think so,
after everything that you have endured, it's still something to be proud of, for sure.
When I finally told you this, inside that old abandoned church
that had become your new haven of sorts,
you actually smiled, girl.
Between flickering October-spice candlelight and stained-glass depictions of Christ;
saints and newborn kings,
your smile, Bliss, was more angelic than any artful innocence that I had ever seen.
Yeah, against all tributes of superior immortal beings; both winged and wingless,
splayed in glittering hues of rose-gold and sunflower yellow
across a dimmed twilit window,
girl, you were still marvelous.
It was partially because on that night,
you finally threw away the powder that you kept hidden in tiny capsules, underneath
the floorboards; the drugs that helped you stay awake and alert,
preventing you from letting your guard down,
getting caught in a dangerously vulnerable and frighteningly human situation again.
Of course, I can't be sure, but that night, there may have been
an expected chill in the air, girl;
or my words must have reached you somehow
because you called me and I sneaked out of my quiet house, just to see you after 12.
Yeah, at around 2 AM, you fell asleep with your head resting on my shoulder;
with your wheat-blond hair brushing against my collarbone,
the strands so feather-light and curling at the ends.

That's right, my sun-gliding spirit; that was the moment that I wasn't expecting,
but with the first light of dawn, our shared closeness melted away
and we were abruptly scrambling to get our backpacks and jackets,
our school-books and wallets together, our bus passes;
and creating distance between our tense and slowly waking shadows,
we were suddenly running towards the same exit of that morning-dove sanctuary.
Girl, we were leaving each other with awkward farewells and sideways glances,
just like before; but still, we couldn't ignore how
the universe seemed to always be forcing us to meet by accident;
crossing paths on forest trails and highways, amid sirens and car crashes;
on basketball courts and even cemeteries,
on the corner of voodoo shops in the French Quarter.
Yeah, Bliss; even through the glass walls of your father's skyscraper office,
we were channeling each others' energy,
each others' fears and post-disaster magic,
all the while facing the dreary-looking Pontchartrain Causeway.

Oh I felt like we were just trying to navigate this strange new world together;
over precariously placed stepping-stones, oil-slick swamp water,
and the secrets of our strict, yet, doting elders.
Rest assured, it was complicated, darlin'; it was confusing, beyond belief,
whether we asked for guidance or not, whether we were faking confidence
as we tried to figure it all out on our own or actually getting somewhere
as we leaped over neatly placed camouflaged alligator tails.
I can't help but recall how you told me about your latest partner-in-crime;
your most recent almost-lover, how you felt guilty about leaving him behind,
leaving him in the dark, because you believed that you had no other choice.
Oh you told me that you saw his hopes and dreams through a kaleidoscope of blue-green,
dogwood pink and white; a vibrant spring-valley scene, with veils hanging
above an alter and a sparrow-carved gazebo, a slow dance with inside-jokes
whispered between you two, and somewhere; bells and chimes tinkling,
keeping time with the rhythm of your rain-and-blues beating heart,
hidden underneath the delicate fabric of your cream-and-rose tinted gown.

Yes, girl, you confessed that this seemingly innocent vision filled you with
inexplicable and unimaginable dread, causing you to shove that poor fool away
when he tried to kiss you, to promise you forever;
and you ran back into the shadows that had ironically become your safe-haven of sorts,
in the reeking sour whiskey filth of St. Patrick's Day slums.

And unable to suppress my growing curiosity, Bliss;
learning this brand new thing about you,
I couldn't help but ask, “Why did you do it?”
I couldn't deny that I was already intrigued by your peculiar and on-the-edge,
your disastrously mortal, fascinating existence.
Girl, I was already caught in your unsuspecting trap of random twists and turns,
despite knowing better; and I wanted to discover the reason as to why you loved
putting yourself in danger so badly, why
you never screamed through the pain or asked for help, why things like morality
and heroism never seemed to matter in your mind.
Bliss, your actions and your temper; your
overall cut-throat style, suggested that you more
like a fallen angel than a mortal, a fragile damsel-in-distress, not quite evil
or violent in nature, and yet, not entirely
harmless or naive, either; just a tiny bit lost..

Oh my guess was proven correct when you shook your head and said,
“That boy; he wants to marry a girl like me.
That's why I ran away; because it sounds too absurd to believe!”
Yet, now it was my turn to shake my head and
tell you the god-honest truth, girl, that:
“No, he doesn't want to marry a girl like you, my martian princess.
Your so-called partner-in-crime, almost boyfriend or whatever;
he wants to marry you, after everything has faded away,
the illusion of your high-class speed-chase, outlaw fantasy;
and that has to count for something..”
I tried to hold your forest-green gaze for a second there, girl,
but you looked away, stubbornly.
You looked at the dove painted on a wall; opposite a crucifix,
and said, dully, “He doesn't even know me.”
Oh Bliss, I couldn't deny hearing the sad note in your voice,
and I couldn't deny being able to relate in some weird way.
I knew that you pushed people away, for fear of getting hurt
and being judged, eventually losing the ones
that you had opened up to, unexpectedly; at the last real minute,
holding them close and believing them to be allies.
Oh I understood, but at the same time;
I realized, after my brother's death, that
we can't shut out the world and still call ourselves brave.

Surprisingly, girl, you listened to me, but I still have no idea why.
You let me play that tape that I found in an old shoe-box under my bed,
the one with my brother's voice on it; his beat-boxing talents recorded,
his awkward-sounding adolescent-toned sentences and the mention of my own name,
followed by my high-pitched childish pleas for attention.
And we heard his last original notes; basement melodies,
songs that would never be written and sung on the radio, replayed into recognition
by jaded underground society, obsessed with fame and fortune.
And you told me, girl, that you never wanted to forget your father's gentle whisper,
the same way that I never wanted to forget the sound of my older brother's laugh.
Oh that was when I realized that we knew each other so dangerously well..
Some people would have said that we were too close for comfort,
but even when I did my best to avoid thinking about you, girl;
drowning in my own frustration and resentment; my growing compassion
for our shared experiences, I found that I couldn't,
no matter how many laps I ran around an empty gym at night,
how many crunches I did in my bedroom when I should have been asleep,
with sweat streaming down my neck, my arms and back.

During this time, girl, you had a nightmare,
in which you were driving out of your hometown;
the scenery around you pitch-black, except for a few gleaming emerald trees,
the highway like a beacon, a diamond-back escape route
leading towards both nothing and everything.
But the most curious thing about this dream was the fact that you were in a prom dress;
all cream with lilac tones, like the flowers
hanging over balconies in the white-hill Garden District,
or carefully placed over gravestones in an ancient Catholic cemetery.
And, Bliss, there was blood trickling down your your forehead and your date was missing
from the passenger seat; with nothing but his tie and cuff-links left behind,
those subtle little reminders that once upon a time, you had a heart to give away freely.

Yet, now; driving down a moonstruck bridge late at night,
with glittering buildings to your right and the Mississippi Delta to your left,
you weren't sure if you were supposed to crash the car
and hand over your some unnamed narrator; or just moving,
heading out of this eternally damned and broken pipe-dream city.
Tell me, Bliss, because I'm curious; did it matter at all, that unspoken choice,
as you drifted down less friendly and eerie blocks of homes
in shambles, remnants of Katrina casualties?
You realized then that leaving wasn't as dramatic as you thought it would be and
perhaps that was the thought that scared you the most;
but, darling, who the hell knows?
Bliss, when your eyes flew open, you reached for your phone.
You decided not to dial my number, you later told me,
because the action felt too much like an instinct;
like such a goddamn natural thing,
that it made you worry, acknowledging that we had just met, weeks prior; and that
no matter how close we had become,
we were still from completely opposite sides of a social class spectrum.
“It shouldn't matter but it does,” you admitted later on.
"This isn't a fairy-tale, in case you haven't noticed, boy.
There is no easily discovered solution, no happy-ending
with crowns and pumpkin carriages, dewdrop diamond necklaces.”
You sighed and continued, this time, not even looking at me,
“There is no promise of eternal adoration, of security
in the arms of someone who never dies young.”

Finally, you glanced back at me and said, hesitantly,
“I didn't want to sound desperate and needy on the phone is all.”
And it probably wasn't funny at all, but hearing this confession
actually made me want to chuckle because
feeling desperate was something that I could easily understand,
but picturing you as anything close to needy was, quite frankly, impossible.
Of course, I knew that you were the one who pushed people away
as a defense mechanism, having to fend for yourself at an early age; and so,
it didn't make any sense that you would be afraid of coming across as weak.
No, you were too much of a bad-ass for that;
you were too much of a bronze-and-silver toned silent warrior..

“And you're hard-headed, for sure, girl; daring, to a fault!”
I felt the need to tell you out loud, not through text message,
candle-wax postscripts or an email that you hadn't used in ages.
“You're so stubborn and proud, even in your loneliness.
To tell you the truth; most of the time, it's frustrating being here
and witnessing your willingness to be forever numb and cold to the world.”
Girl, I take a deep breath before continuing,
“When I see you sliding down a precipice;
your hands clawing at nothing but rocks and dirt,
I feel the need to run to your aid like an electrical current,
shooting through my veins.”
Bliss, you say nothing but your cheeks turn slightly pink as I say,
“Even on the edge, dangling precariously in mid-air,
you still refuse to scream or cry out for help;
you still refuse to show fear like any other wingless human being,
and that's so utterly stupid, so incredibly insane.”
Oh but instead of getting angry, giving me a withering scowl or a death-glare,
you managed a small wry smile in response
and I managed to hold your gaze steady.
I told you that; no matter what, I would never look at you, as though you were
weak and worthless, as though you were
destined to fail and never shine brightly,
never amount to anything great and memorable.
Granted, I'm not sure if you believed me or not, but in any case,
you still gave me a real smile of appreciation
that wasn't at all marred by heartache for once;
by pretense or irony, by chills-down-your-spine, trademark regret.

The enormity of that moment hit me then, how; even though I had been
giving you a hard time about not seeing the good in others,
I didn't always know what I was talking about because like it or not,
faith didn't always lead to promising results
and trusting someone felt a lot like handing them a knife
and letting them cut you open, see all of the raw apple-white
and cashmere scraps of flesh, your vulnerability glistening
with all of its frightening rain-and-gaslight secrets inside.
Bliss, I should know that; at the very least,
giving someone that much power over you isn't
the most pleasant or painless way to go, to leave this world;
the most smooth-sailing and easy-swaying way to die young and beautiful.
Oh that's why; at the end of the day, trusting one another was
probably the bravest and least selfish thing that we had ever done.
Yes, in our crystal-blue and American red-robin youth,
we were finally redeemed, after all this time.

And I told you so when you showed me the shackles
that you planned to wrap around your ankles,
that you hoped would be heavy enough to weigh you down and
force you to drown underneath the murky green
early spring waters of the Mississippi River.
I'm not going to lie, girl; I was stunned, hearing how you had
actually gone to the bridge, not even 24 hours prior to our meeting
with the intention of committing suicide
because even nine years since the accident that took your father,
you still wished that you had died, instead.
Oh I remember walking over to you slowly,
as though you had a knife or a gun in your hand;
and I remember reaching my hands out,
hoping that you would trust me to hold you because
I was so goddamn sorry that I had once shouted at you during an argument,
that I had once dared you to end it all, right there and then.
Bliss, I couldn't believe how stupid I'd been, thinking that you didn't
have the nerve and the self-hatred to do something
that you had secretly wanted to do,
since you were just an 8-year old girl in mourning.

“It's called survivor's guilt; this thing we have,” I told you once.
That's why I should have known better; that's why I should have seen
the signs of defeat in your eyes, the loss of innocence,
and recognized that pain like that doesn't just go away, magically;
that it can't be wiped clean with holy water, salt and lavender rain.
No, darling, you don't just get over a past so grim; and you know something?
Truthfully, it was the exact same nightmare that I saw
hidden in my molasses-coated eyes, in front of my cracked seventh day mirror.

And so, I should have known, better for so many reasons, girl.
But after everything, you still fell into the circle of my arms,
as if it was supposed to happen, anyway, Bliss; like it was a long time coming,
and you also untangled those chains from around your body,
let out a sigh like it was such a huge and startling, breath-catching relief.
You wrapped your slender arms around my shoulders and pressed your cheek against my neck.
Your ivory skin felt cold against my flesh, your breath sounded shallow in my ears
as you started to cry, shedding those tears that had been trapped
in your wild ginger-and-honey throat so long,
that you had forgotten the real motive for your sorrow, long ago.
But in that moment, darling, nothing mattered but the truth;
the simple fact that we could be ourselves, without apologies or excuses.
And so, I folded my hands around your waist and I held you close,
told you that now that the worst was over,
it had to be easier to move forward, now that we'd both been able
to confront the monsters from our shared past.
Girl, I told you that even though my brother and your father could never
be brought back to life, dug up from their unmarked watery graves;
still, we were no longer hiding in their shadow-like memories,
no longer tied to the ground that had been
marred by slave children's footprints for centuries.

Oh no, we were no longer sob-story grief-carriers, sweetheart;
no longer lost and blind, soulless travelers with backpacks
strapped to our crescent moon-shaped shoulder-blades.
Oh I insisted, Bliss, “Give yourself a chance!
You and I are going to survive, whether that be together or as individuals,
doing our own thing, faraway or close by, seeing and loving other people;
it doesn't matter, but we are going to survive.
We're going to make it, no matter what the odds are,
no matter what the statistics say about kids like us;
in the paper or on television, they don't know us,
don't know what we can do with our strengths, with
our terribly twisted and fucked-up but still powerful brains.”
And you actually laughed then, surprisingly.
girl, you wiped the tears from your face and asked in a small, almost shy tone,
“Is that what hope looks like?”
Friend, I couldn't help but grin and playfully bump your shoulder with mine,
say, “You tell me, warrior princess.”

We were brought back to a single moment, again and again,
but nothing changed until we willed it to; until we forced time to stand still,
trap our screams inside an invisible bottle that would then be cast out to sea,
until we decided to forgo suicide and try something new,
to finally fight against our cynical and mind-reading demons.
Oh girl, I decided that I wasn't going to end up just another
lifeless midnight-toned body shot down on the east side of town;
and you decided that you weren't going to walk out of your house
and disappear into a faceless crowd, never to be seen again.
Yeah, unexpectedly, we were beating the odds, defying the records
claiming that we were nothing but two trash-talking kids with the words
“most likely to die, unrecognized” stamped on our foreheads.

Oh maybe-someday child, we weren't supposed to meet like this, were we?
Lying here, side-by-side on top of a water tower or abandoned building;
perhaps even on the bow of a ship, stranded in the middle of the ocean,
we weren't quite sure how we ended up there or why we had survived,
when others hadn't been so lucky, doomed to drown with starfish corpses
pressed on their eyelids and secrets forever embedded in the delicate
skins of their throats like gangland tattoos.
Oh believe me, girl; I wanted answers, too,
but before you started asking the really difficult questions,
persuading me to shout at the soundless void of the autumn night sky,
I reached across the concrete and found your hand.
I covered your fingers with mine, before you could say a single word.
You glanced over at me, girl, somewhat shocked that I had the nerve,
but still; you didn't pull away and I took that as a sure sign
that you understood all the things that I was trying to communicate,
that no matter how confusing our surroundings, our fate on a night
filled with black water and oil-tainted turtle-doves; broken toy cars and guns,
I was still there with you, refusing to let you suffer alone.

And for once, you just bit your tongue and looked up at the navy-gray clouds.
For once, you were simply grateful that you were still breathing, Bliss;
and that  your heartbeat wasn't the only one echoing in your ears,
after a near-death experience.
Feeling fresh warmth rise to my cheekbones as you squeezed my hand,
I imagined white-and-yellow daisies sprouting from our fingertips,
between the carpet-burns and bruises on our all-spice and umber skins.
Oh in that moment, I kept my eyes on the starless sky above,
so I didn't see if there was a wicked spark in your eyes or
if your confetti-pink mouth smiled just the tiniest bit, but I clearly
heard the calmness in your voice
when you sighed and whispered, “God save our young blood..”
God save our young blood
got this idea, watching Cloak and dagger
Lana Del Rey- God save our young blood
Jai wolf- starlight
I tried to find you in our old neighborhood, only traces, boy;
snapshots, flashes of your know-it-all grin
reflected on the surface of turquoise pool water,
in the alleyways, pushed up against the cracked walls.
I remember feeling resistance in the shadowy
rain-streaked outline of your arms,
hearing familiar whispers of “I can't”
in the sugar-palm and sea-brine breeze,
but it was nothing too crazy, I promise;
nothing too queer and hinting at obsession and regret,
unfinished business, a roller-coaster of emotion
more thrilling than any amusement park ride that ever
ran in circles, upside-down and around;
butterflies-in-your-stomach, last-glance ruin.

And we left so many things unsaid, back when we were
two blue-skinned boys, learning how to swim in the ocean;
with its merciless waves tugging at our skinny little limbs,
threatening to pull us under, take us far far away
from the not-so-warm, yet, still familiar comforts of home..
Or should I say “home-base”?
It's true, my long-lost friend;
I wasn't exactly happy, wasn't exactly well cared for back there,
in sunny and sometimes shady Florida.
My mother wasn't as concerned with me
as she was with her prized stash of cocaine,
never hidden out-of-sight from me; under the kitchen counter,
because she was too high and lost
in her fractured mind to notice anyone else's pain.
No, she never thought it necessary to put on a show
for the neighbors' benefit, to lie,
make up the pretense of a kind and hardworking
grocery store clerk, a faithful homemaker.
No, my mother never had the energy to fake a decent life,
and I honestly don't know what is worse, friend; the fact
that she had no shame and no compassion,
not even in regards to her own child, or the idea that perhaps
it would've been easier to bear this type of neglect if she had
just brushed her hair and cleaned herself up a little bit,
got up off the couch and pretended to be perfectly capable of
feeding her son, teaching him how to grow up strong and brave.

Oh I always knew that I was different from other kids
in my dirty corner of a tropical paradise.
I knew very well that it killed to be so odd and recognizable,
so out-of-touch with stark depictions of violence on TV,
so in tune with the delicate beauty of nature, instead;
those Peruvian lilies growing in our backyard,
those long-legged cranes that flew over the swamplands
gracefully landing on Spanish moss and crocodile-like logs.
Oh yeah, you and I; we weren't like other people, boy,
and yet, you were capable of fitting in more easily than I was
with my shy gait, my lost and starry-eyed gaze
always drifting towards the ocean, wanting to dive in
and disappear underneath the cool early morning waves,
wanting to become a merman of a freak-show,
rather than a popular and fierce athlete,
a basketball player or evening wrestler,
showing strength with muscles and speed but not much else;
oh so appropriately violent, masculine just because
it was natural and right in our West Palm Beach setting.
And boy, you weren't meant to be my friend at all, so I always wondered
why you tried to get me to participate in playground games
and chase after girls in short skirts who never bothered smiling in my direction,
who never showed interest in my dark night-plum eyes, anyway.
Oh tell me; did you want to make me become just like everybody else?
Did you want the other kids to stop teasing you about our attachment,
our strange and confusing connection?
Is that why you wrestled me to the ground, that one time,
why you tried to make me fight back?
But I didn't, did I, friend?
No, you didn't see a shred of meanness in my glassy stare,
so I guess I disappointed you with that corpse-like, out-of-sorts reaction.
Oh tell me; is that why you continued to beat me,
punching my arm and my face,
yelling at me to “man up”?
And yet, all I did was jump to my feet,
feeling a mixture of resentment and pain; betrayal,
and cold rage swirling in my stomach,
becoming something akin to a storm-cloud or a tornado.
I clenched my fists as I stood up straight;
my former ally, I shoved you hard with all my strength,
unwillingly releasing the tension in my bones,
all my immature adolescent fury; and to my surprise,
you toppled over then, fell flat on your face.
Boy, your chin scraped against the dirt and rocky soil.
I saw the scratch on your skin and I felt guilty, for an instant.
Can you believe that I couldn't bring myself to hurt you more,
even if that meant that I would be mocked and called a weakling later?
Oh that's why I ran away that day,
and we were never the same again, after that one humiliating moment.

After that, I lost my way, started getting into trouble in school
more and more, but still; unlike before, now I didn't give a damn.
I eventually got sent to a juvenile detention center, and then, adult prison;
and all through those brutal and confusing years,
I thought of you with a mixture of anger and regret, unsatisfied longing,
an unquenchable thirst for answers and support.
Oh I wanted to scream at you as I sat there, lonely and freezing in my cell,
surrounded by the shadows of both prisoners and wardens.
I wanted to demand to know, face-to-face, if you were happy now, boy;
if you were proud of me for putting up my fists
and showing everyone that I was just as much of a man as you were..
Oh how cruel, how ignorant and shallow; damaging this thought process is,
but when you're raised to believe one thing;
that you'll never be good enough, that you'll never be normal, as long as
you continue walking and talking a certain way,
fantasizing about dancing with no music and holding hands with another old soul
trapped inside a Floridian teenager's restless form,
it's difficult to learn to like yourself for who you really are.

Oh I'm so sorry for all those years of silence, friend..
I'm sorry for ignoring your calls and avoiding your township home at all costs,
during long drives in a sleek black BMW, the first gift to myself
after graduating high school behind bars,
a means of escaping the low-life existence that my mother forced upon me,
when she chose drugs over her own child.
Oh what can I say but that I was a coward
for running away, without saying goodbye?
That didn't stop you from trying to reach me, though,
even when I moved to Georgia and adopted a new identity.
But the sad truth; the one that I would've rather denied ever being a part of,
was that this new character I had adopted was actually
just a glammed-up version of a seedy and dirty thug,
only now living on Atlanta's ritzy English Vine avenue.

Yes, I was still seeing drugs everywhere I went,
both in powder form and in tiny pill bottles, all
different colors and different levels of dangerous;
different stages of toxic dream-land poison,
sweet-and-tart, red-white-and-blue, candy-cane illusion.
Sometimes I would even hand them over to folks in my neighborhood,
travel long distances to larger cities,
just for the chance to sell these mini death capsules
to the mentally ill and wealthy,
the otherwise law-abiding party and church-going citizens,
all the same; all thirsty behind blank or defensive kohl-lined stares.

You wouldn't be proud of me if you knew the truth about
how I got out of the Projects and wandered off in search of a so-called better life.
Friend, I know it to be true, that it's not a pretty picture;
selling the very thing that almost killed my mother,
that left me a neglected child, confused as to why
the woman who was supposed to take care of me wouldn't
wake up to make me breakfast or to take me to school;
why when she did wake up, she was in such a bad mood,
cursing at her own son, shoving him out the front door,
telling me not to come back home before midnight.
Oh I don't know how I got here or why, honestly..
I suppose I thought, after high school, that there was
no other way to live in a skin like mine, to feel with a heart like mine;
so strange, inside my American reject-type chest.
Lined with denim, ripped and oh-so-nineties shit;
I walked the streets like a zombie who had nothing to fear,
nothing to live for but one more high-ride, feeling fire in my veins
and coming down from a mad-wild cocaine mind-trip,
ending up shaking through nightmares later on, all alone in bed;
sweating ice-cold memories, wishing for the sun to hurry up and shine
through the dusty motel blinds, touch my eyelids with sweet gentle warmth.

Oh I was lost, for sure, but I wasn't about to admit it.
I was angry inside, but I had no idea how to express
the feelings of abandonment and shame, without
falling apart on concrete; on sand, losing my dignity
in front of passing crowds of people who seemed like
they had it all figured out, who would look down and
judge me for my failed good-boy stardom,
my inevitable descent into self-destruction.
Oh it was terribly unfair, to be sure,
but it was also so goddamn real, that
I forgot how to deny it after awhile..

And so, when we finally ran into each other;
when you finally called me and I finally answered,
I was shaking inside, worried about what you would
think of me when you saw me again.
Friend, it was strange how; back in high school,
you were the one encouraging me to break the rules,
but almost ten years later, you're suddenly so clean-cut
and diligent, hard-working; a chef
who puts all his creativity and passion into every single
dish that he prepares for old and tired travelers
who roll through his small coast-line diner, for curious tourists
and long-lost acquaintances who wander back into town;
like sandal-heeled prodigal sons from biblical times,
not knowing exactly why they were there at all, why they didn't just keep going
until they reached that brilliant rose-gold line
where the Atlantic ocean meets the cobalt-and-metal sky.

Oh you told me how you had gotten my phone number
from my now recovering-addict mother,
how you had gotten a reality-check after high school;
after one of your random hookups, this girl named Cambria,
got pregnant and made you think about consequences for the first time.
Oh I thought it odd, for sure, friend;
how you told me all of this, so casually,
as though you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would somehow
understand and not judge your actions too harshly.
But the truth is that I didn't know how to feel, really..
Yes, I was confused, more than anything!
I kept thinking, “Does he remember what we did when we were sixteen;
sitting on the dusky beach, that night;
all those wildfire years ago, when we were staring at the waves with
crystal-eyes and wind-chapped lips,
wishing for sweet cinnamon-sugar warmth and human contact,
unconditional acceptance; but not knowing how to communicate that
with stuttering heartbeats and shaky breaths; curious, yet, timid
hands that were slowly inching on the sand,
crawling like crabs towards each other,
towards a point-of-no-return for Jolly Rancher type innocence?”

Everything changed that night, eight or nine years ago;
and I thought it extremely unlikely that you wouldn't remember it,
unless you were so ashamed of that memory,
that somehow your brain had blocked it, had convinced you that
that moment had never really happened.
Oh it was a very real possibility that I didn't want to think about
because though I did my best to forget about you, most of the time,
my mind never let me rest on that wishful-thinking stance, no.
It never let me move on with my adult life, day-by-day,
without thinking about the fact that
you had been the first and only shell-crowned prince
who had ever dared to reach out and touch me,
pull me into a caring and strange embrace,
trace the nautical-themed lines of my shoulder-blades;
all ship-and-anchor shaped bones,
as you hummed a Spanish nursery-rhyme and whispered in my ear
that everything that I was feeling
in that terrifying and confusing moment was perfectly alright.

Oh I had to tell you that, when you invited me over to your house.
I had to finally confess that not much had changed for me since
the last time you laid eyes on this tongue-tied fool before you now,
despite my new and slightly intimidating appearance;
all rough-diamond edges and steel-toed pride, gold-toothed independence
resting heavily on callous-skinned knuckles,
still just as unpredictable as hurricane-prone weather.
Friend, we were no longer teardrop castaways;
little more than lost-boys, cursing Peter Pan under our whistle-cool breaths,
but you can believe that I still felt that way; all nervous and inexperienced,
naive and scared, anticipating your reaction
when I admitted that all these years that we had been apart,
there still had never been anyone else..
Yes, you were the one who pulled me in like that, without even realizing;
who made me feel like I wanted, more than anything,
to belong in the comforting and protective circle of your arms,
seeing your unexpectedly kind eyes fall on my face,
and yet; all the while, not knowing how to reciprocate, to make you want
to be close to me and say that I was also
your only weakness and that you weren't ashamed.

Oh tell me that this isn't just a pipe-dream of mine;
to be recognized by a gentle ghost from my past,
who was forced to use violence against me in his former life
but who came back, repentant and sincere,
without any cruelty left inside of him.
Oh tell me that I am worth getting to know, all over again,
that you forgive my silence and my distance;
my fall from grace, that you still see a spark of firefly innocence
in my dark carob-brown eyes, when you look at me today.
Tell me, friend, that you understand this wretched pain of regret,
more than anything, because now I'm ready
to take out the pistol that I carry in the glove compartment of my car
and toss it into the steel-cut waves of the sea below Suicide Bridge.

The truth is that that fiery black-silver weapon wasn't so much about protection
as it was a symbol of a life without escape-routes and possibilities;
a life that I thought I had left behind in my childhood,
predicting no real future where I was honestly smiling.
Oh you knew that, somehow; that's why you stopped trying
to be just like everybody, long ago.
You were always so much more honorable, so much cleverer,
than people gave you credit for.
Oh don't you hate how; because of where we both came from
and how we were raised in the low-hanging shanty-towns of the Sunshine State,
it was always assumed that we would grow up to be nothing but thugs and losers?
Oh don't you hate how; at one point, we even believed it to be true ourselves?

I guess you were the one person who I knew
I could count on to hold me up, hold me steady, no matter what;
who wouldn't be turned off by my secret, so bright and stark,
glowing like a sunset inside my guitar-shaped chest.
But at the last minute, I was the one who panicked and ran away
when you reached out your hand through the darkness,
offering me a chance to swim up to the surface of the dreary water,
to breathe comfortably and freely again.

Yet, now we are no longer little kids with fear in our eyes
and anger streaked across the knuckles of our tiny fists, no.
We are two modern grownups with new responsibilities and real future plans,
but still; I find myself standing on the same beach
where I learned to swim in my birth-city of Orlando, when I was eight.
I find myself looking over the slowly crashing waves, waiting for you,
friend, to reappear, underneath the toucan and shell-tinted moonlight,
calling my name, a blue-skinned wanderer just like me.
I pulled you out of the river, girl, as if you were a swan maiden;
shot down by some cruel and greedy archer, hiding between the juniper shades,
the tip of an arrow pointed directly at your elegant and curved, long, neck;
the beat of your Scotch Mist wings, the gentle fluttering of a near-death experience,
only solidifying his cold-hearted intent.
Oh I watched you fall, but I couldn't stomach the sight of your rapidly drowning form;
now completely human, now completely mortal and feminine,
so lackluster, as all of the natural color drained from
your cheekbones, your lace-trim jaw-line and tulip mouth;
as your breath caught in your throat, eliciting only a handful of stuttering gasps,
desperately clinging to the fragile spring life-lines,
the thinning threads of a sinking star-ship, a silver-gold youth..
Flightless bird, I could not live with myself if I were to ignore your gargled screams;
the frantic splashing sounds of medusa-haired water,
all threatening and envy green-colored fear bubbles,
mirrored in the pool's celestial reflection.
So, I dove right in, without thinking twice;
I grabbed hold of your tired, yet, still warm body.
I pulled you out before the rapids could overtake us both;
before it was too late for my foolish and headstrong soul,
and in that moment, I realized, unexpectedly, that
I was just as desperate; just as nearly suicidal, as you must have been.

But we were both alright in the end; we both got out, in the nick of time,
and lived to tell the tale about how we had no choice but to leap off of a cliff,
our hands clasped and our hearts stuck in our parchment throats.
It was all a lie, but it did not matter because we both had so much to lose
in that moment; so much we could leave unsaid and buried deep
underneath September dirt and acorns, russet leaves and robin nests,
peeled blue eggshells, simply to dub no one the wiser; our legacy
nothing but blind faith and malt-tasting teenage runaway passion,
New Year's Eve regrets in rain-spotted silk.

Oh but nobody expected you to make it, girl..
When I found a village in Normandy, Lorraine,
with a tiny inn where we could stay a fortnight;
nestled between the huge alabaster rock formations and lavender fields,
with rose-tinted buildings and winding cobblestone streets,
I was carrying your half unconscious body in my arms, girl.
And the woman inside the inn who worked as a herbalist and a part-time nurse
told me that you looked weaker than a drowned-out kitten,
a sick pneumonia-stricken child; and that I shouldn't expect
you to walk around, for a couple of days.
But truthfully, hearing this, I felt devastated, terrified that you may never
recover and that I would have to return to Paris
a failure; a killer by association, with the group of hunters
that had attacked and threatened to maim you, mar your exquisite form beyond repair.
Yet, soon I realized that if you had been strong enough
to survive such a far-off fall from the treetop heavens; then, there must still be
some fight left inside that still-beating Paisley heart of yours.

Now, I'm glad to say that I was right; after hours of restless sleep,
you started coughing up river-water as you tried to sit up in the narrow guest-room bed,
gasping for clear breath and almost choking to death, girl.
But I wouldn't let you sink back down into that dark and lonely state of mind and body,
almost losing touch with reality again.
No, I refused to cower in the corner and let you fall; and so,
I called the midwife and the nurses over.
They all gathered round and told me to lift your head up, so that
you wouldn't bite down on your tongue, accidentally.
And after a couple of gentle, yet, firm pats on the back;
a thimbleful of sage, brown sugar and vinegar,
we finally got you to settle down, Lorraine,
to breathe properly and easily again.
“There,” said one of the old women who had tended to your health,
who had eased my anxiety, as well, unknowingly.
“Now she is just tired from all that coughing, that wretched choking spell.”
She said to me in a motherly tone, “Just let her rest, dear boy.
I assure you that your lady friend will be right as rain by dawn.”
And, relieved, I smiled in gratitude; but before she left the room,
the old innkeeper's wife said, “Believe me, child,
you've done more than enough good, just by bringing her here.”

Oh even though I was grateful and I wanted to believe in that woman's words more than ever,
I also knew that I wasn't the one who was ill and in need of encouragement, and so
I sat back down in the chair in the corner of the room.
I waited for you to open your eyes and acknowledge my presence by your side
as something close to noble, by heart and not by blood;
because, honestly, it was the only thing that mattered
in that dull taupe and pumpkin-seed moment.
And when you did wake, the third time, you turned your head and gazed at me, solemnly,
You inquired in a hoarse voice, “Why are you here?”
Of course, we had known each other from Versailles;
from court where we used to walk down those dimly lit corridors,
almost knowing our exact place in time, almost feeling like we belonged
among the majestic peacocks with their vibrant feathers,
the tea-rose hedges and meandering maze gardens;
cathedrals filled with organ music and gold-trim finery,
locked-up jewels and phantom footsteps echoing, hauntingly familiar.
Yet, the truth is that we never really did fit in, did we, my Lady Destiny?
No, but we wanted to believe it so badly, that sometimes
we caught ourselves humming meaningless sonnets and Latin prayers,
distractedly under our breaths, walking like Egyptian pharaohs; young gods
and goddesses, teenage rulers of indestructible kingdoms.
Lorraine, you and I made quite an odd pair, for sure,
but still, I instantly answered your question with one of my own;
wondering out loud, “Where else would I be?”

Indeed, you fell from a cliff and almost drowned;
that's what I told you, darling, how I'd waded through
the early spring chill, the gray-green waves, and pulled you out.
I swore that I couldn't just leave you behind;
that I couldn't just turn my back and walk away,
climb up on my gypsy stolen horse and ride off,
as the April sun shone brighter in the marble-clear blue sky above.
And for a moment, you didn't say anything; you were
perhaps remembering the last time we saw each other at court,
when we were both dry and comfortable, both decked out in warm garments
and not at all desperate to survive, desperate to win back
some of kind of dignity and favor from the angels;
patron saints of lost and foolish souls, if not from our parents.
Yes, girl, you had seen me before, but time stood still then..
It was almost like you were deciding whether or not
asking questions about our coincidental meeting,
our ill-fated run-in and complicated history; an undocumented past in the castle,
was worth bringing up in a not-so-casual conversation,
after everything that had transpired there, in that
peasant-inhabited and still charming part of our ageless country.

“Oh but I would rather you didn't,” I was about to say.
“Please don't ask me anything out of the ordinary.”
Because there was nothing ordinary about our situation,
I knew that I could get away with being silent because;
for once, nobody had the right to judge me.
And truth be told, I felt like being snarky then; slightly disrespectful,
saying something that would label me a cad, for sure;
an illegitimate bastard with no manners or values at all,
with nothing to distinguish myself from a pine-wood wolf,
from a barbaric knave, exactly the type of creature that
people back home had never failed to remind me that I was.
Indeed, they all thought that I would end up just like this;
a runaway youth with no respect for the law, with no common sense
or voice, no clear conscience hiding beneath my seemingly wealthy
and well-fed, well-grown and dressed-to-the-nines, fake courtier appearance.

Yet, when I looked into your wide cedar-brown eyes,
I realized that you weren't at all like the other nobles who mocked me silently
behind their ostentatious peacock-feather fans;
behind their pearl-lace handkerchiefs and glasses of warm port cider, no.
Girl, you actually regarded me with serious understanding,
and this stopped me from making a fallen-dove joke or lying shamelessly
because I didn't think it would be fair, considering the astonishing fact that
you were now trusting me with your entire life on the line.
Yes, and so; I told you my secret, why I left the castle,
left a seemingly comfortable and worry-free lifestyle with an almost decent family.
I told you that my mother had begged me to leave; to run,
saying that there were spies watching my every move,
planning to harm and later dispose of the threat that I had unknowingly become
as a child of mixed heritage; both of noble and outlaw gypsy blood,
unlikely to ascend to any kind of high-ranking status,
yet still, not completely innocent and guiltless.
Unexpectedly, you placed a hand on my forearm then.
After my confession; Lorraine, you said,
“No matter what happens, I'll make sure that you get out of here alive.
No matter what; even if I don't reach my own destination, friend,
I promise that I'll find you a clear path away from all the lies and accusations;
the mapped-out violence and strategic threats
that may have followed you up until now.
I'll make sure that no one ever lays a hand on you,
never finds your hiding-spot and drives a bayonet through your chest,
impales your warm September heart,
as though it were nothing but rabbit meat,
meant to be roasted and gobbled up by greedy-eyed goblins over hellfire.”

Oh I told you, while shaking my head and smiling slightly,
“Honestly, my lady, you can really paint a macabre picture,
when you put your imagination to work!”
And I held my breath, not knowing if you would get upset
and demand my head on a plate, for what I had just said.
But instead of shouting at me in disgust or fury, you simply laughed.
Tucking a lock of mahogany hair behind your  ear, you casually
drew my eyes to the freckle on your neck, a tiny plum-colored dot
on the otherwise clear expanse of buttermilk-toned flesh of your neck.
Oh you seemed unaware of how you were affecting me, darling; and
and so, I diverted my gaze quickly as you agreed that your words were
indeed cynical, despite your intentions being all mercifully good.

All through the night, it rained heavily, then slowed,
the winds only whistling like ghosts; eerie songs as old as time,
as ancient as stone and mortar, brick and thatched cottage rooftops,
notwithstanding the silver-needle season's upcoming storm.
All through those fragile and unpredictable hours, we huddled together on the window-seat,
with a thick bearskin wrapped around our shoulders, watching the sky
outside turn charcoal-gray, as though we weren't at all
nervous and worried about our plans, our futures;
so easily changeable and sometimes impossible to believe in, fully.
Oh you were scared and you weren't too proud to admit it, usually;
but that evening, you held your tongue, refusing to scream at the sound of lightning
crashing against the wall of rain outside, like cymbals clashing,
like a Greek god's angry symphony of scorned muses with their siren-stringed instruments.
Yet, still; you didn't make a sound as you leaned back against my chest,
rested your head against my shoulder and let me pretend
that I was worthy of your summer-warm and inviting touch,
that I was noble enough to hold you in my arms, Lorraine.

But the truth was that I was never the ideal portrait of a romantic hero;
a prince, a soldier, even; painted in gold and purple and blue;
all holy royal colors, decorating the pages of storybooks read aloud to little girls
by their nannies and doting parents, just before bedtime.
Oh I'm sure that you were once just like those tiny princesses;
with flowers and seashells braided in your hair, dreaming of
a proper church wedding and love that will last longer than your Byzantine century,
following you all the way to your grave and keeping watch,
just like the angel with the flaming sword, guarding the entrance of the Garden of Eden.
Oh we both knew that I couldn't be that for you, even though
neither of us had the nerve to admit it out loud yet; how
I could never be a pure-blooded monarch because I was born out of wedlock, my mother,
a mistress; a favorite of the king but still a heathen, by a Catholic priest's standards.
We heard it all the time; gossip, back home in Versailles,
filthy tales illustrating my mother as a whore,
whispered by courtiers who loved to tear each other apart with words,
as well as jewel-studded daggers and butter-knives.
Lorraine, we always pretended not to hear, always ignored the facts;
the sad and lonely truth that even though I was privileged
to a certain degree of immeasurable wealth,
compared to peasants and luckless, shoe-less soldiers;
still, I lacked real friends who would defend me,
without being promised anything in return,
who would not label me a sinner; a mongrel, due to my mother's reputation.
I only had you, girl, and one other person;
your betrothed, the dauphin, the true heir to the throne, to call my comrades in court.
And yet, I felt like I was betraying you both,
and so; I held my tongue when you thanked me for saving your life;
when you pressed a kiss to my jaw line and whispered,
as your eyes fluttered closed with sleep; that I made you not feel alone.

Oh but when we heard that he was sick, the next morning,
we rushed back to a home that we had both abandoned.
And you were welcomed, of course, despite it all,
because you were still a monarch, still a lady and a bride-to-be.
I, on the other hand, was seen as a fiend, a traitor and almost sentenced to death.
Lorraine, once again, you spoke up on my behalf,
prevented the sword of authority and jealousy from crashing down over my head.
Lorraine, even though I am eternally grateful,
you told me; as we both stood outside the throne-room later, “Boy, don't thank me..
You saved my life when I fell from a cliff and almost drowned in the river.
I am simply repaying a debt.”
And for what it's worth, we both understood in the meaningful silence that followed,
that some debts can never be repaid because we were both sinners,
quietly longing for things we could never have in our teenage hearts;
red strings tied around our throats,
choking us and preventing our true feelings from rising to the surface,
our lips from taking shape around those damning, yet, truthful words.
We were both longing for the kind of freedom that we could not own,
could never afford to buy with countless strings of pearls or gold-silver coins.
We were lusting for firelight memories;
corset ties coming undone, bare shoulders and timid, yet, excited glances;
mahogany and cedar brown hair dripping raindrops, and the rush of a season
dying on the hearth, heat burning freckles
and rosy marks on devastatingly youthful and alabaster-sharp cheekbones.
We had both wanted that, Lorraine, in a wild moment of surrender;
a quick-tempered farewell to rules and regulations,
decorum be damned, when we thought to ourselves:
“I've got nothing left to lose, so why not dive right in?”
But that all changed when you woke up and heard the rumors in the town square;
when you received the news that our prince was ill,
and you realized that you could not kiss me and not feel guilty, not think of him.

Because he was my brother; my own flesh-and-blood,
I got up, as well, mounted the tan-colored horse I had ridden
out of the ancient city of my birth,
and followed you down the path that would lead us back home.
Though you looked surprised, girl, when you saw me at your side, you didn't say a word;
and I appreciate that, how you seemed to understand that
no matter what had or hadn't happened between us, the other night in the countryside,
we both had a higher purpose now, to serve the same young king.
Yes, for all intents and purposes, my heart would always belong to you in secret.

We never spoke of our time together after that, Lorraine;
we never mentioned our failed escape-plan or the map we still had of Scotland
tucked neatly in the knapsack that I hid in the stables,
the evening that we arrived back at the castle.
By dusk, you were with the king; you were with your beloved by his bedside
where you belonged, helping the royal physicians nurse him back to health.
And I was awaiting judgment in the court of my merciless power-hungry father,
later taken to the tower, facing charges of treason and
accepting imprisonment as a welcome punishment,
as opposed to a god-appointed monarch's sword.
Girl, you still fought to get me out of that dark and rain-damp cell,
but I wanted to tell you to stop, to save your voice
for more worthy causes, such as the fate of your people in Scotland;
your home-country, because the truth is that
you had no clue of the full extent of my guilt.
I was afraid that if you did know, girl, that perhaps
you would be so disgusted and appalled by my treacherously dark thoughts;
how much I thirsted for your summer-ripe lips on mine,
that you would never want to see me again.
Oh honestly, I could handle losing you as a bride,
but not as a friend, I knew for sure; and so,
I bit my tongue and kept my true feelings quiet, the remaining threads of
my tearing pride guarded, like it was the only thing I had.

But of course, you would never let me rot in prison
because you were too kindhearted and honest, deceptively fair.
You came forward and told my brother everything,
all the details of our short stay in that cliff-side village;
how we were only there long enough for your weak and tired body to recover
after that nasty Doom's Day fall, and how
nothing happened between us to make us guilty of betrayal and fornication,
in the all-seeing eyes of the Catholic church.
Oh my brother believed you and pardoned me,
by morning, ordering the guards to release me from my chains,
but of course I was disgraced; of course I had to win back his praise,
his trust, slowly, even though I had no right
to stand before him and still complain.
I had no right to anything, really, but my own misplaced Burgundy pride;
and even that was dwindling in the light of dawn,
like sand in an hourglass, thinning, disappearing
like a phantom's icy breath on the back of my neck.
Oh Lorraine, you were still that exact whisper of fragile happiness,
loyalty stronger than desire or anything mortal;
and my brother was the crown, the cross, the bronze and rose-gold blood
that I had sworn to protect, even before
I had grown to full adult height and stature,
even before I had learned to form proper sentences with naturally lying lips
and an adolescent voice that cracked on the loneliest syllable.
Oh of course; I couldn't have you both,
Lorraine, and that was the whole truth of it.
I could either be a traitor or your unnamed knight
who didn't really care about honor when he was kneeling before you, blessed
by the faith that your carob-brown eyes had
always shone upon only the luckiest of fools.

Oh girl, you could say you loved him unconditionally and not be haunted
by unrealized dreams of countryside rebellion,
gypsy dances and raw honest-to-god conversations by candlelight.
Lorraine, you could store my letters in a cabinet,
file away our could-have-been story-line for another lifetime;
but I, on the other hand, would always be reminded of that midday
sunlit hour of disappointment, of regret, when you told me that
we had to let go of what we could have had, for the good of our family and friends.
Oh you were right, of course; and I had no choice but to concede..
Dispelling dreams of you at dusk was easier said than done,
but someone much wiser than both of us once said that no matter how strong our loyalty,
fierce our affection or devotion; fiery the passion behind our eyelids,
we still have to remind ourselves that we don't belong to people forever.
No, darling; sooner or later, the clouds in the sky
above our fairy-tale castle will start to darken,
even without our noticing; and it will be time to blow out the candle,
to close all the windows, to say goodbye or goodnight,
whichever phrase leaves the best impression for all the holy seekers
of light and eagle-winged angels in the afterlife.

You experienced this when his hand slipped from your grasp,
when he collapsed after an afternoon horseback ride in the woods.
You held him there; inside a cathedral of cedar trees,
on a ground laden with crinkled bronze and orange leaves.
You cradled your prince in your arms, Lorraine; you called for help,
trying to steady his ragged breathing by stroking his cheek.
You did all the right things, but in the end, he was the one
who told you stop fighting against Fate and chance, heaven and everything.
He said, “No prayer or sacrifice, mortal substitute, can undo what has been
predestined by something supernatural long ago.”
Oh girl, you were shaking your head, still refusing to believe
that that was how your story would end; that was how
you would lose your first love, with blood-stained sleeves and
hot tears burning your eyes, to the point that your vision was blurry,
that you couldn't see how fragile your knight in shining armor suddenly looked;
how out-of-place the white-yellow poppies on the ground were,
clinging to the earth and calculating rain for a later time..
Oh nothing made sense in that moment; all you knew was that
you couldn't let him go, not even when he whispered his last words.
Oh to you he said, you'd tell me later, “I want you to know that
all I ever wanted was to make you happy because you make me
wish for sunlight every single morning, even in the dead of winter.
You were always near, not just as a comforting presence,
but also as a guiding light; a flame that refused to quit burning,
no matter how bleak or cold the night that surrounded us was."
And you told me that he smiled widely for a second, that
he looked up at the sky and said, “Oh I wonder what I did right,
what I did to deserve you as my bride,
a fearless and merciful angel an unmistakable beauty by my side.
Rest assured, my queen, I'll ask God that very question, if or when I get to heaven.”
Oh he also said that he wished for you to marry again,
that he wished for you to move on with your days on earth and smile and do great things
in honor of the free-spirited child that you once were,
remembering the day that you met him by the seashore, nine years ago.
Yet, all you could register in that moment was
the shock and pain of watching his eyes close;
of feeling as though a huge and invisible piece of yourself had been ripped off,
leaving your body hollow and soulless, even as
screams and sobs wracked your form, rattled your bones,
underneath the elegant brocade of your riding clothes.

And I wasn't there, but I can imagine it, for sure;
his fading legacy, your lover's, but he wasn't entirely yours.
No, truthfully; I am reluctant to point it out now,
but his grave was not the lily-white cradle of your arms,
no matter how much you longed to sink down into the dirt;
into the blood-stained ground beside him and lie there,
never to be dug back up and resurrected,
made to breathe summer night air again.

When I met you back to the castle,
your eyes were glazed over and you were stumbling,
even though you didn't have a limp or any sign of injury.
And I caught you at the foot of the staircase leading up to your bedroom;
and I stayed with you, Lorraine,
long after the burial attendants came and took our prince's body away.
After you had shed all the tears that your body had
saved up over the years just for this day,
you stared blankly at the dried blood on your hands.
And though I knew my place; I was still a bastard
with no real church-blessed claim to the throne,
with no right to stand so close to you, my lady,
to say your name with so much careless familiarity,
with so much shameless concern and longing..
Yet, still, I decided to forgo all rules of decorum, to say
“Damn it all!” to everything that had been
trying to keep us apart up until then because
seeing you there; looking so broken,
not even wearing a tiara, no evidence of wealth or stature,
I realized that even royal, you weren't any less human.

Oh that is why I sat down beside you on the last step of the staircase
and encircled you in my arms, girl,
let you press your cheek against my shoulder
and whisper his name to no one in particular.
If that was all you needed, then I was happy to give you all the time
in the world to mourn the friend that we had both lost,
our defender, leader; something like a St. Michael,
prepared for battle always with his fire-lit sword,
prepared to defy all forms of darkness, even the invisible demons that
humans create when they feel like they have nothing left to lose.
Oh yes, without a doubt; he was the one worth fighting for,
if there ever was a king so honorable.
And it isn't really the crown that makes you a monarch in the end,
we find out later that it is the sacrifices you make for your country,
for your people, for even the right to wear that precious crown
that define you as admirable or conceited;
whether you will still feel proud at the end of the day, despite
the weight of the jewels on your forehead.

Yes, I think; in that moment, we were both praying to the same holy ghost,
the same unnamed angel unlike all the ones we'd seen painted in churches
or standing tall in all of their marble glory, in cemeteries and tea gardens;
no, we were both thinking of something else, something new
and indestructible with the blinding light of a modern age in its topaz eyes,
when we asked for strength to make it through all the pain and
anguish of that earth-shattering, heart-wrenching, soul-tearing moment.
Oh whether royal or peasant; blue-blooded or illegitimate; noble or cast-off,
we were both kneeling on the floor of a makeshift temple in that instant,
with our heads bowed, not knowing what else to do but admit that we were
frozen in our numbness, in our still startled grief and wanted
to feel warm and alive again, like August sun-rays
reflected on the surface of a swan-bed fairy-tale lake.
Oh yes, Lorraine, equals we were, never having been anything less.

And you dropped your prayer beads at one point, darling,
the same ones that you brought with you as a child, traveling alone,
across the stormy-gray ocean from your native home in Scotland.
Reaching for my hand in silence, you didn't have to look into my eyes
to know that my thoughts and fears; my hopes, were the same as yours.
If we were going to survive this moment of confusion and shock,
overcome this dreadful loss, this traumatic season;
then, we first had to admit that we couldn't do it alone,
that we couldn't stand and fight as individuals,
when so much of our time had already been wasted
on a cold and hazy morning, shivering with no real reason.
Yes, darling, I think we were both thinking of innocence;
like the memory of our golden-haired king; still
small and reckless, chasing rabbits in the forest.
Darling, we were thinking of finding an angel with tiny fairy wings,
holding it in our cupped hands like a candle flame
or a glowing lightning bug, and asking this baby saint
for the chance to start again, for the desire to stay
and mend the pieces of our shattered meadow-lark faith.
Cement- Nichole Dollanganger
Youth- Daughter
Angel by the Wings- Sia


United States
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GothicNarcissus Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2018  Professional Photographer
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