Sway (poetry)

We were meant to dance
I think
This is how the, “Push me.
Push me.” love rounds
Into something more like sway
With the long ache and
“Hold me up
Hold me up.”

-M. Ashley

This poem is about ten years old. One of my all-time favorites.

Lemon Mystery (creative nonfiction)

“How often have you sailed in my dreams. And now you come in my awakening, which is my deeper dream.”
-Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”

In my dream, I walked with my god through his sacred orange grove. The trees all had white bark. That was important somehow, the white bark coming off like ash, but healthy healthy. The trees were all so healthy.

Today, walking my puppy, I came across two lemons on the sidewalk. It was around the side of someone’s house, not near any trash cans. No wind had been blowing so they hadn’t come on the wind. There was no lemon tree leaning over the fence or anywhere nearby. It was as if someone had been walking that way and dropped these two lemons for me to see and follow like breadcrumbs, but sour and more vividly colored.

I thought of my god’s white barked orange grove and could this have been my god walking this corner, dropping these citrus fruits for me? Do oranges in the dream orchard become lemons on the waking dirty street? Dreams communicate this way in the sleeping and waking dream. Color color, symbol symbol, the promise of a taste. A god that walked that way before you. Mystery.

-M. Ashley

Is a Lie (poetry)

If you tell the truth
No one will believe you
Intentionally obscuring
The truth
Did you lie?

Is a lie a lie or
Does a lie have lie-ness?

Is truth on the lips
But a lie in your heart
A lie that can’t commit?

If the root is a lie
But the tree is true
Where do the limbs lie?

Is it the letter of the lie
Or the spirit?

Lie with me, Spirit–letter
Lips and limbs.

-M. Ashley

All Dizzy Things (poetry)

The Star is the center. All
Things revolve around it—the
Room, dimly lit—the flashing
Optics—gilded mirrors that
Turn on time—doors pulling
Themselves open and closed—
Gears, wheels, sprockets,
Springs—gods, humanity—
All dizzy things.

-M. Ashley

Easter Portrait (poetry)

All gone to oranges now
once flamed with pink on spring green tendrils
that climbed our matching dresses to touch
the shocking white of our lacy bib collars
accented at the throat with plum satin bows.
My sister smiles a broad white that reflects
my broken child’s hair. I smile with my teeth
out a touch. Light bounces from the lenses of my
half-transitioned Coke bottles, near permanently
dim, to one of my sister’s neatly arranged
auburn Botticelli curls—one twist of many
about her I envy.

We each have one hand on a taxidermy-stiff,
red eyed plush bunny the photographer
shoved between us to encourage
something shared and quiet.
The closest he got us to sisterhood that day
was leaned-away touching at the shoulder—
the furthest torso point from our hearts.

All gone to adulthood now
and Valentine’s Day vacuum cleaners
received with kisses like hand cut doilies,
my sister and I have become
pre-midlife reawakened to something like
crystal-sucking New Agers without
the liberalism, too much nature stuff,
or any urgent concerns about the patriarchy.

I step off the train on a wet, sky-spitting Saturday night
to celebrate my sister’s 29th-again birthday.
There is streaked silver in the puddles through which
the train runs, upside down, loping on to LA.
My sister wears a demure sweater as accent
to a royal purple petticoat that flounces
in the whoosh of the train.
I wear an oversized silver lotus petal with seven
fake stones masking a magnifying glass behind.
We hug.

-M. Ashley

Not the Gods of Light (poetry)

We are the gods of piss and bile—
dead skin that flakes from the body
mingles with dust and sweat
makes a sweet filthy paste
worn in the groin and under the breasts.

We are the gods of ashes—
rendered fat that drips from
a wide-eyed sacrifice,
pristine bone, survivor of the fire,
that glints and pings against
the grinder blade
makes the stuff for sausages.

-M. Ashley

The Star (poetry)

Is he the black dog in the night when
it’s noon and all the lights are on,
or is he the star around which
noon and all the light revolves. To know
him with bare eyes is blindness. We see
him once, poorly, and never anything again
but the flash burned into our corneas—
the red, the lightening purple, the terrible
white. The half memory our only light.
And he would still not be
black dog in the night,
nor black dog at noon.
He would still be the light itself
and we irreversible, starless, dying.

-M. Ashley