I am in solitude
in the mood I like best
the crucifix gazes
birds brush their feathers
against the gilded cage
in a stirring endless
scene of agitation

You are against the pale wall
like a portrait I frame you

you take hold of me
and I am blinded by white light

we are a flock
different from the rest

you elude me more by the day
becoming a collection
of photographs
gathering dust in the frozen lake
where moonlit swans cool their wings

Pinned under glass…
the sadness of generations
passing down
bending at the spine
losing clarity

and what did I receive
from the man with a hidden face
as he watched her from afar
with a love misunderstood

You are a rough nightingale
one that I shelter
in amorous vexations

Amidst the menagerie of you and I
there are so many mirrors
the angels flock to the window
in anticipation of a ribald encounter

I imagine you when you were young
surrounded by smoke and sailors
a man from another time, another place
I think I saw you on the docks
in a shadow of fog and light

I take a deep breath and
the oil rigs keep stirring
and I feel sea spray
and the salt of some distant memory
a pearl foaming, and transforming

swimming in the deep
I wish you would have taken me with you
I could have departed then
my heart fogs at the thought of you

it seems

we’ve been amidst

a bad dream

for some time now

I send my sympathy on the wind
met with the cool frost forming
in my chest
I hold my head a little higher

“He just has a way
of making everything sacred
seem so vulgar”

I erode my heart in sympathy
he steals my breath away
and I bestow sympathy
as if it were my only virtue

the gilded butterflies are winged
what hope can I offer
the color of your eyes
escapes me
the more I try to remember

the gift of rejection
no cure for reckless daydreaming
it was just a misunderstanding

I do not know from where I flow
ghosts scatter as I light a flame

Should I approach with a knife or a prayer?

your eyes remain silent
darkening into winter

the eyes desire endlessly
I want to claw your eyes out

we are not as civilized as we thought
it is the restrained details which undo my resolve
like the precise American print on your wall

pale walls murmuring
they are closing in
on you, on me
and I could give in

I could give in…

I see the perfect squares
ordered on the chessboard

a bitter rag of tradition
to end the evening in a bind

So these are the games people play
which I participate in
in my adulterated moments

and lately I’ve been intimate
with the in-between hours
when the nightingale sings
most earnestly

It’s true I’ve never seen snow fall
but in my heart the pond begins to still
deepening into something unnameable
in my heart there is untapped desire on ice

I had a quiet dream filled with dove feathers
sleeping beside you in perfect trust
my sense of beauty is immaculate
I am hopelessly biased in your favor

Oh, nightingale, sing to me
let me cage you night after night

I’ve tried to sit right
but I feel my body wandering
like my soul
into oblivion

and my beliefs contradict
my decisions
Why did I ever think
I could tame such a cold front

What compels me to understand
to look into your eyes
and sense a hidden spring
hidden amidst glacial intention

I reason away feeling
forgetting that love
can find potential
in untended gardens

I find double-meaning in the hanged man
I bind myself in self-preservation
fighting against an old wound

I am too cautious
I cross myself
before crossing over
only to lose myself
in the nocturnal reverie
of eternal mutual submission

Now is the time
the birds are hungry
I feel them circling
we are gently lost

and as the sun rises,
an eleventh-hour hope
for the urging impulse
and a final plea
soaked in veiled repose
before I set the prayer alight

— Juliette Sandoval is an artist from Los Angeles.

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