Irene took quickly to the scene,
Looking to discover new things,
Looking to be places she’d never been.
Irene quickly became a yes woman all right,
Saying yes to the men’s aberrant advances
And yes to the women’s aimless advice.
Irene took quickly to saying yes
Becoming addicted to their requests,
A few more track marks on her arms,
A few more heads up her skirt.
Irene quickly became a no woman all right.
She became no woman all right.
I have found solace in this fluid state, this comforting womb,
This escape from the reality of mankind’s mania,
Drawn to the water’s stillness, its silence, to its blue
But the waves have torn off this false merman tale
And spat me out saltily to the sands above
Bidding me no mercy, no protection as the ancient whale
Waves a gentle goodbye – I bring my wet, wrinkled fingertips
To brush away these ocean-like teardrops.
I pluck away the barnacles like scabs that have to be compulsively picked
Off like a fish being scaled, flaked until it is merely flesh to be devoured.
I am no longer welcome to live in a world where there is only peace.
I stand naked in my vulnerability, left human after the sea has had me scoured.
I step out of the water and find footing on solid ground,
Gravity weighing heavy on these shoulders
Taking in the sights of the green earth and the sky’s musical sounds
Channeling the mighty thunder of the gods to stand tall, to stay afloat.
Even though, I fear the wind will whisk me away to mere particles of dust
As the hurricane makes splinters of a small, wooden fishing boat.
I fear I would rather be splintered in the sea.
Garden of the Gods
I stand upon this rock where we had our second date,
then both spent and energized from lovemaking,
Dazed by the camel-shaped formation, the gods’ fate
that brought us here, miles from any sound but these beating hearts,
longing to be lost in each other’s touch again,
we climbed higher, fell deeper, believing we would never part
but as the space between the camel’s hump and its head grows,
so does the space between us now, both physical and beyond,
this space, this emptiness, this forest full of woes.
Every year someone falls to their death –
Dazed by the dizzying distance below, I find my footing,
pondering what hope for us there is left.
Charles K. Carter is a queer poet and educator from Iowa. He has an MA in creative writing with a poetry concentration from Southern New Hampshire University and is completing an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. His works have been published or are forthcoming in Dodging the Rain, The Mark Literary Review, Active Muse, and Anti-Heroin Chic.