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Kissing the Velvet of your Shoulder Blades: Poems by Abigail George

velvet kisses

(for H.)

    If, if, I cease to exist, or co-exist in your
world, suffering is progress. Flesh museum.
    Bone museum. Open to interpretation.

    The caves are over there, breathing. It is important
    that you know this. This information.

    I think of you in moonlight. I think of you
    when vodka spills from our glasses
    onto the shoreline of the carpeted floor.

    Onto my pantyhose. Onto the fabric of
    my skin. My body cannot keep all of this down
under the ancient pink. Hurt has stunned

    me. Unhealed me. Wounded me. I know
    your anger. Your kind of superiority. Your self-hatred.
    It is only a reflection from youth. A twisted

    crack in the system that is called illusion.
    It is only ritual that will mark you until the
    end of time. There’s a lot to disguise.

    A violin does not only make beautiful
    music. Photographs make me long for something
    we once had. I was no bride. Had no

    groom like my mother once did. I wish
I could be beautiful like the tribe of her.
    Instead the ocean calls to me. Embraces

all of me. My lithe limbs are green, then
    purple. Yes, the ocean calls to me like a
lover. This morning image secret. I’m

    homeward. Tracking driftwood into
the house.
    On the outside, you will find me there. And,

as the waves come in explosions, so
    does the healing. So, does Jean Rhys’s
    Dominica. So, does Brazil. So, does China.


(for H.)

Love, how you taught me the bonds of family.
And how you sometimes held me close and kissed me.

Leave the light on. Let it overflow this
room. I want joy to fill my mouth.
Somebody leave the light on. Draw the curtains as
the charming night falls all around us, mother.
You’re ancient and thin and smoked
too many cigarettes in another life.
This valley is private and irrational. Its
language does not have a safety-net.
Language must be translated. This valley is distant
and shifting. Its company is toxic as
if you didn’t surmise that already.
No one cares about you the way that
I care about you. No one is going to
love you the way that I love you. I was
talking about this valley before you
interrupted me. This valley that is
part-decay, part-life, and faintness, and
electric depth, and cutting burning

flight, and spine-envy and of the toothless shepherd’s season.

Books come from ghosts. Ghosts, ghost,
ghosts, ghost. How I love all of them.
How I want to dance with all of them.

How I want to kiss their cold lips. Dance
from the winter in their arms. How I want to

visit stations. Feast upon and treasure and
trace the winter in their veins. These
invited-uninvited guests. They’re headless

in the lamplight’s moth flame. They’re
my tribe. These friendly boys who once
could have been anything. Now they’re

all washed away but not their sins. I tell
myself with feeling that ghosts come from books.
Ghosts come from books. Ghosts come

from heroic writing. Winter studies of
the sleeping tongues of beautiful women.
This is the road taken if you forget me.


(for H.)

Once, once you were like Persia to me.

For the last time, show me the ways
to love. Cue me its despair. It’s hardship.

This deprivation that must follow its

demise. This starvation that must follow
its poverty. This progress. This madness
that eats away at my soul. It twinkles like noisy stars,

those glam beauty queens with their own illustrious alibis,
their lunar emptiness and subtle-subtle

No more walking in circles for me, friend.
No more wishing the past is gone while
sitting in at my kitchen table. I’m over that bridge.

These stars have their own silent-silent
moon-sick horses. Moon-sick bones. Butterflies in their governing
confusion leaving scratch-marks on

the seawalls of my stomach. The red brick
walls of my lungs. I think your parade
beautiful. I think you’re lovely. I think you’re

Jupiter. Does it matter. Does it matter.
I think of those Caucasian stars pasted
on the ceiling of the night sky. I am ready to confess.

Does it matter that I am only ready to
confess now. I am trying to erase the beast-monster.
Monster-beast that has made me suffer so.

The forest was painted. It even had
wrinkles. Age lines made out of soul.
Spidery leaves marking the end of

time, that

hourglass country, a hive found there
in the segmental ruins of the God-supernatural
found in the honey and milk and blood-

work of the desert. Let’s take a trip
out there to where the wind blows. That
infant deed. Can you tell. I’m dreaming

of those Parisian-syllables. The ethereal.
The apparition of that high mountain-top.
That drum. That prophet. God’s lions.

Elijah. David. Jeremiah. Job. Jonah.
God’s chosen. There were others. There were others.
I’ve written about this before. Falling in love

and falling out of love but I’ve never
written about our love before. You made the veins in
my heart splendidly narrow so that only

the pure river could flow through.
The smell of roses. Old wounds forgotten.
Only the reigning legend of the

sparse river could get through
before anything else. Before the blood itself. I wanted you to
know that I’m pressed for time. That

you’ve been a legend in my life before
you became a legend in real life. I’m
writing this to thank you for not taking me

all the way to madness like the others
did. You were the virtuous one. You
were the one who saved me. I just

thought that you should know that.
I’ve been carrying that around with
me for the longest time. You were

genuine. They were fake but I ate
their cake anyway because I was

I called myself victim under a
million stars.
I just wanted you to know that life

is different for me now. I’m no longer
running up streets and down streets in

I’m authoritative when it comes to
my feelings now. I don’t try to slip a yes in
when I mean no. I’ve learned how to say no.

Oh, I also know what thirst is.
But I don’t project my hate unto
other people and I listen to others (which I never did before).

This grid, I have put it away.
It is an exile like me. I don’t
know yet if it must be forgotten.

I keep watch over spring or
it keeps watch over me. I don’t
know which. I only know this.

Sometimes when I get angry
my anger is as hot as a desert and I don’t
ask for permission. Only that you listen. I forget.

Please forgive me when I forget. Please,
please, forgive me when I forget myself. Once, yes,
once, you were like Persia to me.

Poems © Abigail George

Abigail George
Abigail George
South African Abigail George is a blogger, essayist, short story writer, screenwriter, novelist, and poet. She briefly studied film in Johannesburg. She has two film projects in development and is the recipient of two grants from the National Arts Council, one from the Centre for the Book and another from ECPACC. Her publishers are Tendai Rinos Mwanaka (Zimbabwe, Mwanaka Media and Publishing or Mmap), Xavier Hennekinne (Australia/New Zealand, Gazebo Books), and Thanos Kalamidas (Finland, Ovi). Her literary representative is Morten Rand. She is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net nominated, and European Union Poetry Prize longlisted poet. Her poem “The Accident” was Identity Theory's Editor's Choice for Spring. Ink Sweat and Tears chose her poem “When light poured into me at the swimming pool” as a September Pick of the Month, and she recently made the shortlist of the Writing Ukraine Prize 2023. She is a poet/writer who believes in the transformative, restorative and healing powers of words. Her latest book is Letter To Petya Dubarova (Australia/New Zealand, Gazebo Books). Young Galaxies (a poetry book) was released in 2023 from Mmap and a memoir When Bad Mothers Happen is forthcoming. “Clarissa, Hector and Septimus Redefined” was recently published by Novelty Fiction in Kindle format.


  1. I`ve enjoyed reading your poems…they make me want to write, opened up a tender river in me…have to find expressions for my mounted dreams for my scented daughters and rainbow son, me, genie in flight seeking to embrace the cosmos. Well done and thank you.

    • Thank you for reading my work, and for enjoying it. Because that is all that I want. For people to enjoy reading my work, connecting with the ideas, principles, ideals, foundation of creativity and imagination behind it. Poetry is hard work, and sometimes it is difficult to see how that hard work pays off. To tell you the truth I live for comments from other people, I live to inspire others to write as well. To inspire other people to write in their own mother tongue. Language and translated work is such a beautiful thing. A commodity really. Thank you once again for your comment.

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