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Teal Swan Poetry

Punishment

You strive for power,
By stealing power from the powerless.
Until you are left with nothing
Traveling a dark and reckless path to a place that feels like protection from all the things you do not want.
But it only leads to pain.
You have forgotten this.
Your desperate quest to make this life controllable, when it is not yours to control is futile, 
Just like it always was, as rules which are made, are just as quickly broken.
It defies the basic rule of universal freedom.
You have forgotten this.
You have lost the power of knowing that anything you push against, 
You just get all the more of.
You can not fight away pain with pain.
May you come to remember this.

Hands

I remember your hands,
The cracked and calloused expanse of them across my face,
As you took my childhood from me ten and fifty and a hundred times.
My tear blind eyes turned up to heaven.
It was never quite enough until the flesh you crushed and blood you let had pulled me to my knees.
As a child I ran as you hunted me with your pocket knife and mule across the noisy hem line of so many a field back home, thinking I deserved it.
I was no longer a child; you were no longer a man. The blood and bone and sinew you took from everything, is what you made the landscape of your life from.
Indeed it was even your covenant.
A pledge I witnessed seven children die by, and I was almost one of them.
The lies you told, like scriptures I lived my life by.
You said you were my father.
You said it was my home.
That dark, forgotten hole in the ground, under a lattice of weathered and rotted planks that shut out the sky.
For years, you followed my path of bleeding pain, in the attempt to flush out my spirit...
With electric shocks,
With confinement,
With ketamine.
Trying to make the life you suffered as a child, my life too,
Dispatching little pieces of those who could love you and those who still do.
Deaf to “I love you” and Blind to “I care”.
You needed those words, but you couldn’t hear them, and I couldn’t yell.
I wanted so much to tell you that day that I left home…
To
Remember my hands.
Their scars are no longer fresh now.
Let them bring back the simple truth to you
That the universe suffers as you suffer.
That the universe smiles with your joy.
When all you are left with is grief and pain, you can hold these hands and witness what beauty is born of bent and broken lives such as ours.
We need not search for salvation. It is in us always, waiting to be seen.
An internal benevolence is burning just beyond the reach of anything that can happen to you in this life, though faint, it is not fragile.
The message of love can come from anywhere without warning.
I am not angry anymore.
It is now instead my greatest wish that you may know the ineffable solace of love and the freedom it brings with it…
As I do.

Worth

Without all ornament, and with substance still,
To love one’s self, despite life’s tainted course is no kind of false art form.
Is worth so faint a thing to perceive?
The seasons of life that cover it in complex cobwebs 
Would have you forget that potential… Is worth.
And all that dies around it, leaves it green.

Sunset

To begin with, you were sire to a chrysalis, which bore the difference between dreaming and awake.
The twins, which emerged were a sun and a moon.
And you taught them to walk in rotating circles around you.
Saffron back boned and violet faced.
Do you know the mountains believe, 
You are their water colored kiss goodnight?
A momentary, sandwiched emotion, 
Reflected for your own lacking of darkness and light.
Groom to the sunrise, covering the opposite end of the clock.
Protecting the ridges with your tangerine tendrils.
The fabric of nudity, which belongs to a day before it chooses to dress 
In a cloak of bruised and blackened leaves with white blossoms, 
Which it trails across the sky.
Teaser of artists, 
Daring man kind to come up with a color only you can recreate.
A color which was meant to hold to no canvass other then air.
Are you licking each part of the ground as payment for the amount of gold, 
That you've never been shy to dispense of?
You are the frame around an ornamental memory 
That though the sun and moon suffer a funeral everyday that I survive, 
They also suffer a birthday.
As does a personal desire in me to stay alive.

Nothingness

Go to bed tonight with the idea of sleeping with forever.
In hopes of making it conceive of you.
The illusion of nothing is only the fear of being so small, 
The only ship you have to board is your own.
Could you fathom your feet walking life, but not blindly?
Where an illusive smile leaves its hand print not only on the lips?
Nothing is a land without senses,
Where you're unable to find the other side.
A silent but spoken double dare to tour danger, but the will,
Which makes danger only a horizon to gaze upon and to want to cross.
Place void in front of the eye, and learn to see it.
Dull the tongue and learn to taste it.
Remove the music and learn to hear it.
Nothing was an ocean once,
Taught not to evaporate, only to blanket the world.
A place where you can swim if you can learn to love to drown safely.
Simply needing to leap from the birth inherited vessel you sail upon.
Its below deck kitchen, serving fear cooked over fire in sugar and spice.
Convincing yourself that is the only way to add flavor to life.
Then letting a virgin, 
Carved and mounted to the bow of your ship, 
Be your guide.
I bet you grew up thinking you should be more like her.
But that was before you swam in forever,
And stopped convincing yourself that nothing was only an endless sky,
And you were the only one piloting there.

The West

I find now, that I have removed myself. No longer a part of a life that can be considered “western”… The life that I was brought into by default and cultivated from. It is easy to forget sometimes until caught off guard, at which point you can see it at my core, coming through the lack of repress. And then, it is like I truly am the land that grew me.
There was never a way to win against all the odds in the west. It is a commonplace cycle of death, birth and survival. Since the beginning, people have been coming here mistaking the impression of endlessness for opportunity. No one ever came to the west who wasn’t running from something. And those of us raised here by those people, were suckled with that desperacy. It has worked its way like a disease from one generation to the next.
The sun is fixed on life here, sucking the water from everything. There are wildfires in the summer, and blizzards in the winter. Dust and cold alike, covering sagebrush and skin and life itself, turning everything into the same numbness of grief so that there are times between one year and the next, when a person has no way to tell the difference. The valleys and plains, though dry, give more of a lonely impression of open ocean than of land, or of anything you could ride a horse across.
The men here (that I grew up with), are made as callous as the hands they work with. Stripped of unnecessary flesh… By weather. Rained, and sunned and blown and beaten into a state of crudeness where all elements of mercy are lost. And the women are disintegrated. Trying to muscle up an impression of invincibility and of grace, in a place where it was better to not be born a girl in the first place.
Out here, femininity is the easiest meat to feed on. It is devoured into rarity before most of us reach the age of five. So what is left is women clinging to religion as a means to cope with the insensible cruelty. Trying to extract meaning and purpose and control out of the constant tragedy, so as to not lose themselves.
To live without God here is to live alone, as prey. Children are bred heartless and made more heartless by the poverty of their compassion, as the law of the land has always been eat or be eaten. It is true in the emotional sense of the word as well, maybe even more so.
The main streets of the old western towns I grew up in are littered now with impermanent chain stores. Absent of a building code, it looks as if the businesses who came here, all snagged themselves on the destitution. Unprepared for the kind of customers who leave their Christmas lights on all year long (they are simply that degraded).
Walmart, Kmart, Taco bell, gun shops and E-Z Pay day loans are the only stores which have made it out here. Like scavengers they are the businesses which survive off of the unfortunate, and left behind as if they were a food source. People who would be driving cattle, growing gardens, canning their own food… Are now swallowed by the wave of modern society and left behind by it.
And now the cowboy, who once conquered the Native American, is conquered, their life made obsolete, making way for the new wave of people trying to take over out here. Now a days they live in trailer parks, or houses falling apart on the outskirts of what can hardly be called a city, living on cigarettes and chew and easy access television. Working in metal shops or corporate dairy farms, or meat packing plants, selling their souls to Walmart and Kmart and E-Z pay day loans, because it is all they can afford to do.
And so, still an infant by settlement standards (as it was conquered barely over one hundred years ago), it is already full of a hard won, gun shot, broken history. And the kind of wounds that never heal. Guarding freedom like prison was on the other side of every door.
But beyond the hot crackle of the grasshoppers and dry, winter frostbite, there is a slow, heartbreaking beauty, a vastness that can never be possessed. Un peopled wilderness where the night sky is so dark, the stars are a bright, white dust instead of interspersed lights of only those which can out shine the nebulous glow that humans create.
There are sunsets and wildflowers. Animals outside cages, people outside metal and glass. The collection of them, made intimate by having to live a life, simplified by realizing the temporariness of everything. Taking nothing for granted.
And though the struggle is a violent dance that no one would participate in if given the choice, it has a way of connecting you to the earth. In a way where life itself is distilled to it’s raw, original self.

8 Lives Left

Selfishness she called it,
The state of a slowly vortexing world 
That has been my prison of such isolation, instead of small,
It is the desperate expanse of every desert.
I have been here longer than I can attempt to not own it as home.
And this “end happiness” of which you speak,
I have been here longer than I can attempt to remember what that even feels like.
It is more that I seek a state of not desiring… something else so much,
I can’t ever really stop to see the day.
You see…
Selflessness I call it.
The state of a slowly vortexing world.
Imploding on an identity that instead of made,
It was given.
A way of ignoring open wounds and seeing torture as a validation of strength
And loving the man, above all, who did it to me.
I have been here long enough for freedom to feel like abandon.
It is more that my survival was those chains that kept me so tight,
I confused the claim for love.
You see…
A death you call it,
The state of a slowly vortexing world.
A woman can’t be until a girl dies.
And I am still 4 or 5 of them,
Caught in the prison that memory is for me,
Screaming to be held and heard and noticed, and “put to sleep”
I have been here so long that I have died without the falsehoods I believed.
It is more that the child died,
The one who silenced the truth to begin with but had been screaming to tell it ever since.
You see…
She died so I could live.

Plead

A plead as simple as bleeding,
To be free of the warm veins,
forged for survival.
Where?
Directions are lost,
Obscured by wind and stinging soot
Pulled relentlessly from the earth,
No longer stable and turning black.
Where?
Is it the prison of it , 
That shapes you the most?
Or the shapelessness of your keepers?
Reality is scarcely a fossil here
Where?
The chemical blood, smeared on forearm and thigh…
It brings out the best in us.
Bravery’s way of finding us, where mercy would not
And honor’s taste, heavy on a bitten lip that will never speak of this again.
Where?
I am the only soul here,
The only thing living, besides molten,
That flows in slow, spitting rivers, breathed in by nostril and pore.
A living cadaver, in skin like wax that never melts.
As cold as the idea of this being not where I belong
or what I deserve,
has become.
Where?
The path of devastation, leads you in circles they say.
Back to the same Iron,
The same brand.
The same vision every way you see it.
You are a slave.
But the tears don’t come beyond the thousand degree heat, 
and the way it’s scarcely felt now, when it burns me.
Where?
Against what bones still un fragmented, and what flesh still un torn,
Fear is a rising tide.
The only thing I fear is fear itself.
It is the only thing telling me, life is not like this for any soul but mine.
But any love they drip to me will fall like blood in the end…
No way to take it in,
Once it’s outside you…

To Winter

Awaken love.
May the blue, ethereal, newness of your eyes look upon this world.
May your tiny, uncoordinated hands explore it.
The sun lays itself across your window this morning.
May you greet it with a smile which will never vanish from your lips.
You are home, with me.
May you always keep this kiss I lay across your cheek.
Awaken love, and know you make a heaven of my everyday.

Summer

These early summer days feed off of time, 
Stripping light and darkness alike from the sky in cycles which feel mere minutes apart.
The sun rises and the sun sets with blue and rosy lips kissing the tips of each rolling hill, 
As if the colors were trying to suck life from them, the grassy breasts of the west.
Weeds and flowers appear to be the same creature, 
Their complexions, the colors of love's own breath.
Pink fields, the blushing cheeks of the seasons.
Each rainy day stands as beauty's beast, 
And for a time these storm clouds serve as gravestone to the stars.
The mortal moon is devoured by shadow then is reborn, 
Crowning itself king of the midnight heaven.
This dark sky procession is of endless age.
My voice, barren of pride, for next to this I appear poor but free.

Tiger Lily

Swollen, dark, bulblets at the axils of each of your whirled leaves, 
Pointing upwards, as if a sign of your fertility, 
Painting you the most sexual of all beasts.
You are almost waiting here tonight, 
Like a siren, intent on seducing the entire month of July.
Petals melting back, 
Daring the touch of a humming bird's tongue, 
Then declaring the act Erotic.
Sometimes I think you wish you didn't wear the clothing of a vixen, 
The only lily that doesn't hold the copy write to a lonely face, so people could 
Find your fragility before they plucked you to watch you wilt in a prison of glass, 
With no sky to look upon, and to love you.
East Asian native, garden escapee, 
Your spots instead of dew drops look like blood stains on orange satin, 
Bleeding through, until they end up drying on your blossom, 
Maybe because you are the one who hides your battle scar 
Beneath a forest of stamen, reaching outward, 
Cupid infected and pollen tipped.
These grass blades stare at you as if wishing they were worth notice, 
Yet you are the one never satisfied with having represented enough color for the world to recognize.
Don't you know, 
You are the one with whom the departing side of the day chose to leave its claim!
Don't you know, 
You are part of the sunset's array, of mango colored children!

Horseback

I rode, under a cloud multiplying sky, which matured yet garnered no age. 
The temperature had yet to dissolve into summer.
Miles and miles of touch- less acres daring to be run through. 
Land under hooves, newly condensed with the tears of spring.
Heaven and hell could have mixed and spun, as our pace made time and space seem void. 
Pressed up against his withers, his breath boiled upwards, through my hips and chest and heart.
We've made imprints upon a field, which when blown, moves like the sea.
So there I wept in some place inside, for the feeling of this I so much missed, 
His coat grabbing at the fragile shade cast off under my legs as if it were tightly knit webbing between us.
All the matter in the living air took breaths as one, 
And I listened to him so as to climb up the sound of his inhalation.
We have birthed a resurrection, you and I… 
Of power in the sweat it took to achieve the second that we were no longer separate, but one. 
One creature forged of the two broken halves of each other.
Together, we concealed our secret intentions to escape by any means possible and by any means now. 
In that jointed stage of self-synthesis.
It was then that I told him “Fear not this second my horse like lover, 
Fear only the fact that like everything else that feels perfect, to this moment too, 
Will be fastened an iron bridle, which will restrict the longevity of it’s movement.
And this moment will slow, and dive into a thing called yesterday.... 
The waters in which triumph tends to drown, but how it sparkles as it sinks.
Because beauty is still possible in yesterday, its water isn't dead. 
And it is there that we will be preserved… 
Our identities melded, sinking this ship wreck of a plan to keep us locked up in a round pen.
No matter how many faces a round pen may assume, 
We tore the vein giving life to any and all of them today.
And now, 
I'm half man and half horse”.
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