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So Jo Apr 2015
I think of it, sometimes
in passing that corner. or

climbing those stairs,
two bodies entangled against

the rail. getting off
the rails. did they, too

recognise something
stranger in a stranger?

something I too thought
I had found. that night

I saw it. I was sure. the light
behind the pain. fireworks

behind closed eyelids.
ready to chase it all down

the rabbit hole. I was
already falling: Wonderland

wondering, wandering lost.
but no. it was just -

just a wet puddle
on impassive bitumen.

just a mirage. a trick
of the light.

whose light? I suppose
it was nothing, just

something very
ordinary

after all.
So Jo Apr 2014
“…nice, I suppose
but xyz are
much bigger.
I've been there and...”

and with that it was clear
what he was:

a man who
when ******* a woman
would make
just passing reference to
the size
of the **** attached
to the previous one
he had
******.
a tourist
on a mountain.
in front of the mona lisa.
above the falls.
on the 91st floor.
in front of a backpacker reception desk.
in a noisy bar.
in a cold bedroom.
take your pick.
or your checklist.
or your number.
So Jo Nov 2014
around and around
the blade-edge of the dark

a sealess white gull?
or a still, silent lark?

a lump down in the throat
sinking up to the knees

lashing out with a lie
yet praying for a please

around and around
at the edge of the dark

a drowning sailor.

or a circling shark.
So Jo May 2014
my jaw aches.

it comes out only at night
a gripping, torn dragging
                            and slowly splintering teeth
        my dentist tells me I've been at it again
        awareness month announced through a 3 ply mask.

it comes out at night only.
when my hand has swum down your riverbed spine
        I count each smooth stone
        try to forget the explosions beneath
        seam mining, undermining everything we create?

        at night my jaw aches.

by day I smile too much
collecting girls' numbers like sea-tossed glass
       once all dangerous cutting edges, now pocketable
       forgettable -
                    I don’t want to run.

        and so our monster under the bed
(the scans show this)
        burns its fires through your head

while mine growls through troubled teeth

       and I ache.
So Jo Jan 2017
too many black suitcases
in this world.

mine gapes,
guts spilling, insolent in an otherwise
check out ready room (bed abandoned,
two coffee mugs dripping
dry).

"so you'll just zip this life
closed..." it leers,
haemorrhaging treasures
gently offered, and *****
laundry, "...will you?"

this page, this pencil, will not
fit; must I leave you, too, behind?
So Jo Feb 2014
I was just walking past
18 months gone by so fast -
she invited me up for tea

and there we were again
dressed like long lost twins
(not again!) - her designer-ripped jeans
comme des garçons striped shirt
my jeans worn through
(life'd dragged me on my knees) yet
all my stripes unearned

this time she made me earl grey as the day
which didn't seem to cool
face to face but not eye to eye we were
mirror images blowing on steam
sisters brothers could've been lovers
but I'd turned my face away

she put on another jug to bubble
I looked straight ahead, (oh god)
already seeing double
So Jo Apr 2014
short is the most delicious look
silence is the loudest book
with lips the hungriest food
and night the darkest wildest mood
breathing is the deepest ****
giving in the hottest ****
love is a bittersweet borrowed lie
time is a slowly emptied sigh
deception is the sharpest yet rustiest lance
and rage the slowest, saddest dance
while truth's just polished-up confusion
with words - the slipperiest illusion








- - - - -
post ciné jotterings
So Jo Apr 2015
there, now -
Fukushima sakura unfold
in perfect pink oblivion.

here, now -
wind tears a madman's
origami from umbrellas

wire crane's feet
curl to the sky.
So Jo Nov 2014
they're nothing but glorified bus drivers*,  said my father after i told him i wanted to become a pilot.

the opposite of love is not hate, but contempt.

what causes the kodachrome to fade little by little to grey? is it really bred of familiarity. the wear of gradually learning the truth about somebody. the minutiae of the everyday sanding away at the idealised, sculpural dream.

or is it triggered rather by the dull shock of an identifiable disappointment; the inevitable transformation towards sallow disgust justified by the devastation of slap-to-the-face betrayal or loss.

must we fulfill the dream simply to learn that it was only ever empty?

my father, a devoutly unspiritual pragmatist, had nevertheless as a young man fallen in love with the expansive embrace of the blue above. the son, grandson, and great-grandson of farmers, he worked his hands down to shredded red sores to put himself though flying school only to have his application for a commercial licence rejected due to a doctor's confounding eleventh hour diagnosis. colour blindness. an all-or-nothing man, my father never once returned to the enthralling blues, yellows and pinks offered up by the cockpit, and from that point forward became a farmer.

i gave up on the thought of becoming a pilot, and later, (much later), developed a fear of flying.
So Jo Jan 2014
day pulls her corners in
folds this dress now marked, crumpled
night – a new disguise
So Jo Jan 2014
a boy in bed, calling
cotton and cares, falling
sonnets on skin, scrawling   
that dawn alarm,
                              appalling.
So Jo Jan 2015
we lived at a staccato rhythm
punctuating each other's
exclamations, yet
traced not a mark
on noteless time: an empty score

dissonant parts leave
not even the faintest of echos



- - - - - -
From an exercise shared by Sean Critchfield. Take the 7th book on your shelf, turn to page 7, and use the 7th line as your first line. The poem is restricted to 7 lines.
So Jo Apr 2014
for I need my night as much as day
and when it comes, it comes what may

no shy question, no subtlety
the tongue may tie, still it cries out from me

day holds the knife, and oh how bright
but where dreams tear free? the realm of night

so take this hand, step to the dark
when the blade’s pressed close
ever deeper beats the heart




- - - -
“Love comes with a knife, not some shy question,
and not with fears for its reputation!”
         - Rumi, ‘Which way does the night go?’
So Jo Jan 2014
grief rolls in - blue waves
tugging down, tumbling under
God between each gasp
So Jo Jan 2014
her name is a cage
his tongue paces, still singing
their duet - alone
So Jo Jan 2014
Every breath pushed me further bobbing and blushing, rounder and tugging, seeking simply to soar. I could taste the breeze, the blue above - waiting, and as I stretched so did my smile.

But I was held unknotted only, oblivion teetering on the pinch of a thumb and forefinger. Until slowly but cynically, gasp by gasp, all was forced out, and when the moment came to go, there was nothing left to go on.
So Jo Feb 2014
familiar unknown
when after night's slow bruising
only one looks back
So Jo Aug 2014
an idea laid on white
stretches once taut and breathless
brief rule-bound plaything
So Jo Nov 2014
lust comes in not at the eye
but the knees
a closer -
closer -
touching, please.

a hand that alights
the promise of night...s
a tiny tear
left at the knee of my tights.
So Jo Nov 2014
what are you doing?
doing! doing!
stop that, you.
you! you!
if you're not in bed by the count of three
... ... ...
but all I see
is a little barefoot parrot
laughing back at me.
So Jo Apr 2014
i curl into your back and you wear me
like armor into your dreams.

under your hands i turn to water
or iron and then you bend me again.

you say you knew it from the first when
the space between us bit its tongue.

i didn't know it though i ground my teeth
down that night under your name

and spat out all others in my sleep.
i didn't know single-mindedness

til you packed your suitcase and placed
it against mine outside the door.

i didn't know that it could be like this.
a reflection caught by the tail

of you watching me and i see more.
for you i am more. i have to be.
So Jo May 2015
chin turns, shadows flit    
cobble stones murmur - do you?      
the lane forks in two
So Jo Apr 2014
eyes tear at the black
pulling each thin thread of light
shadows weave below
So Jo Aug 2014
some people stop feeling as though they've just flicked off the switch as they move on to a different room.
but i will live with every light lit.
**** the electricity bill.

and **** the dark.
So Jo Feb 2014
and here it all feels yet again just the same      
that same little trip as I slip on your name
but to keep it right there
oh entangle this tongue          
how it all feels the same - yet again
we are done
So Jo Apr 2014
~            and she watched from the kitchen stool as he tore the heart from the artichoke while the onions stroked their invisible wet fingertips down his cheeks             ~
So Jo Jan 2016
shoulder to shoulder.
you always sit close, camouflaged

bare skin emboldened
by white cotton

shirt sleeves. yes I feel your heat
right down to the elbow.

winch it all forward:
my eyes chin hips

knees feet, my hands
yet every edge tilts right

does anybody notice this
delicate heeling? to you. do you?

how much is in balance.
without moving, my lips

rehearse all the things
people say to each other
So Jo May 2015
i looked Love
straight in the eye.

Love looked right
over my shoulder.

takes courage
to recognise a lie.

takes a lie to keep
you growing bolder.
So Jo Feb 2014
deep into the wet and salt
uncried tears bracing cheeks
don't matter

run before the wind
slipping on the moon's reflection
lose the world behind  
in whalesong

turn back only then
when the swell has tossed
all inside shifting still

turn back to the world
torn pockets spilling sand
So Jo Jul 2014
god is dead. and i'm not looking
for enlightenment. it's winter

and i test the world through fingerless
gloves: i touch, therefore i am.

so read the universe mapped out
on the back of my hand. your number

inked. and in this palm - the story.
let's trace the lines. the lies. and lie

here where it's written. past future
present here. this. this is all there is.
So Jo Aug 2014
and so yes i did go back to where
we'd once balanced
on stools  

from the chill night into the buzz
where memory
waitfully pooled

but no right here was
"Brendan"
pouring the gin oh so slick                      

sizing me up across the bar
said that he'd make me something quick
(and slipped some ginger

in the glass)
asked me to taste for
"a surprise"

but all that the bottom
of the glass cupped
was the reflection of your ice              

in the bottom of my glass, still there
that reflection, oh yes
your ice.

oh no i didn't want to talk
i clearly wasn't there
for him

said he'd just read something Chris Kraus
said he'd just watched something Goldin                                    
then he leaned over

took my glass, and lit
the tealight
swift and sly

but all i saw deep in the flame
was the reflection of your ice

so when he turned his back i fled  
out of the dream into my night.
So Jo Apr 2014
blade-wings carve the sky
a knife to oblivion
slicing ever on
So Jo Apr 2014
when time is a slowly emptied sigh
and winter grips tight to autumn's last leaf
then I'll hold my breath as I wonder why
the wind shakes the tree when it falls beneath
So Jo Oct 2014
a car u-turns
in an ill-lit street.
hemlines measured
in inches
or feet.
a door leaves cheek
bones
lilac-blue.
something ever-borrowed
it's nothing new.
a downy pillow
held over the face.
a secret
half-packed suitcase.
So Jo Feb 2014
ironies usurp courage
adventure scowls unsated
Times New Roman ****
pixels unconsummated
similes sin-taxed for hits
stale nefarious negging
all heros on the page
reality waits begging




- - - - - -
"oh for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts" - Keats

time to escape the screens....
So Jo Jan 2015
Everyone was saying it'd hit 40°C tomorrow, a truer marker of summer’s arrival than a pinch and a punch on the 1st December. But I was leaving today. Bags packed, ready. A last smoke on the balcony before the taxi would pull up below. Right now on Scott Base somebody was probably typing my name into all the necessary [NAME HERE] gaps in the arrivals documentation, but by the time I’d be in a position to sign along the final dotted line it'd be too late to back out. Flights out of NZ’s base in Antarctica leave every second Tuesday morning and book up more than a month in advance. There are no flights at all from February through to August.

I had nowhere else to go anyway, the spare key to her apartment kicked under her door three weeks ago.  


---
Within just a handful of days of each other, we’d somehow both of us slept with other people. "Slept with." What a frigid way to put it. Of course I do mean ****** – the sleeping part simply an awkward optional accompaniment to the consequentials. So, we’d both of us ****** other people, and although nothing was said the weight of the truth buzzed between us, unsettling and persistent.  

I’m unsure which of us had gone first. I imagine it was ladies before gentlemen.


---
It was six years ago that I‘d followed her over to Australia, six years ago that she'd looked up over some textbook and said with a smirk that she'd never dreamed she’d let a man with such "offensive paws" anywhere near her, let alone fall for him.

It's true that within a few weeks of starting my apprenticeship my hands were stained black, with slow-healing sores opening up between the fingers, and the crusts of tired eczema aggravated by the incessant and optimistically futile scrub of soap. I was known for leaving behind dark smudges around light switches. But she hadn't seemed to mind my leaving soft fingerprints on her.

“D’you think there’s any language that's got sufficient words for all the different kinds of love? Like the Inuit and all their words for snow?”

I took a tray of ice cubes from the freezer, held her wrists behind her back with my right hand, and tipped the frozen cubes down the front of her warm and crumpled shirt.


---
And then? And then.

I won't detail the cruel and gradual tilt apart, increasing degree by degree up over the years, sliding us into roles and positions neither could recognise ourselves in. Mutually check-mated. What better way to tip the chessboard than start playing with somebody else.


---
The day she left her computer on and Gmail logged in the first grass fires of the season were reported in the north of Victoria, and the Bureau of Meteorology was predicting yet another “hottest summer on record.” I could only read the top three messages from him and her responses before logging off.

I hadn't even thought to ask for any somebody else's email address.

I grabbed my own laptop and opened a new browser. Google: jobs antarctica.


---
My best mate and I had dropped out of high school together to be taken on as plumbing apprentices: petrol and beer money in exchange for bubonic hands. At some point during those early days of drain and dame laying I came across a profile piece in the NZ Plumber about a guy who'd done a 12 month stint at Scott Base. Back then I’d doubted that I'd ever become the kind of man who could survive the snow and ice and dawnless darkness of a polar night.

— The End —