for B

Stricken. Sound waves ripple
drop a bass beat
and I hear it. Words like clappers
a sonic devastation
tolling above me, heavy bell skirts
pound after pound driving in
oscillating, filling my head with nothing else,
this pale sternum
leaves me reeling, replaces
solar pulses encircling
my pulse with itself, thrums in my blood.
ribcage shocked
Even stopped, I am slammed
into recognition
again and again in the quiet moments.
comprehension rising
Never peace, and I wonder why I
like the dawn
keep going even after the warning,
every word a meteor
for whatever reason, wilfully unaffected,
heedless on the earth
mute and sightless, removing my senses
burning into a scar
one by one in pursuit of love, lust,
say you can never be
my drug, jaded, jaundiced, blued,
washed by the river
I follow you down the pit, every step,
what do you know about barriers
circle by circle. Today I stopped
you take my collarbones
a disaster of my own making,
my clavicular notch, every one
willed into being. Have I not learned
up to my neck, my chest-plate
anything? You must never know
I check to see what’s left
how much it costs. I must love
and I hear it: love singing
the taste of salt, how it hushes
in the bell tower of my heart
in my hands, the simplest alchemy.

Filipino idiom meaning to give the full force or the strongest (literally, with all exhausted strength)

Ivy Alvarez is the author of 'The Everyday English Dictionary' (London: Paekakariki Press, 2016), 'Disturbance' (Wales: Seren, 2013), and 'Mortal'. Her latest collection is 'Diaspora: Volume L' (California: Paloma Press, 2019), with 'Volume N' forthcoming.

A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work appears in many publications, including Best Australian Poems (2009 and 2013), with several poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.

Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived almost a decade in Wales before moving to New Zealand in 2014.