My heart skips a beat a bit too often and it worries me because they tell me the palpitations are probably nothing. But when you are losing trust in all the people and systems which are supposed to keep you safe, yet are crumbling around you like sidewalk falling away from the soles of your feet, you watch your steps more closely, and their eyes, and the fog which smothers your hands as you hold them up in front of your face. What you see is not what they see. What you see they do not believe. What you believe is not held in their hearts or written in their palms, but rather in the sand as you approach the great gray waves, in the sand as you depart along the lonely beach you must walk alone into the cool ocean mist. Removing my clothes I wade into the rushing water. Removing my inhibitions, white robes cast into the wind. Renewal. Reclamation. Intention. Disrobing my fear, setting it aside like a discarded blanket. My nakedness, my beautiful skin, my fragile baptismal bones, I deliver myself to the womb of the tangerine sea. The lakes that I carry become one with the water which holds my body like liquid silk, warm against cold, fire against ice, frothing, bubbling, flashing, washing and burning away my terror of this life, this one life. Sparks, salt crystals flash hot in the orange sun. Finding my feet, I stand and welcome the evening glow all over my body, shining, shining, shining so bright I caress myself inside my own admiring gaze. When they come for me I will be gone. They will never come. I lay down upon the sand, it is warm and grainy against my back. Waves crashing like thunder slamming again and again, pounding in my ears. My heart is skipping multiple beats, gushing, squeezing, pulsing too wildly. They tell me it’s nothing. Just age. Just a random, fleeting kind of thing. You have nothing to worry about. You are nothing to worry about. My mind warps, inverts, collapses. There is no pain. There are only my fingers working my breastbone, massaging my own tissue, wondering if Death may only be peace. If He may simply take me soft like a lover would, into the petal pink tongue of His open mouthed heat.
Click play to hear me speak it, read below for transcript. I’m here. You’re here. This is it for now. I’m thinking of you. Please stay safe…..
So hey there. I don’t know what to say except that I wanted to write a fantasy fiction prose piece but what kept coming to the front of my mind and heart instead was to just say hello to you and tell you I am thinking of you and I hope you are okay. Over the years I have written for so many different reasons. I have written and published two books of poetry and prose for people who like dark stuff, and witchy stuff, and spiritual stuff, uplifting and mind bending and inspiring stuff. I have written multiple blogs, some about art, some about business, some about teaching and learning and social media and all kinds of things. I am interested in so many things, I like sharing so many things. As my tastes change, I have changed my content, my audience has changed. Been through some changes. And people read my works for so very many different reasons. To express, move through, explore or experience love, pain, regret, abuse, fear, dreams, hopes, grief, sex, erotica, fantasy, fiction, non-fiction, what have you. So many many things, for so many reasons.
And up until today, up until this very moment I thought I knew what I wanted to do which was keep writing and reading and sharing as I always have, these short pieces that have brought you into my little wild orbit. Stuff that makes us think and feel and sweat and beg and cry and dig deep down into our bones. And I do still want to do all that. But today as I sit here listening to the wind howling outside my writing room window, and watch the little pink petals falling off of brand new spring flowery trees, I cannot help but think that this pandemic is changing all of us on some very fundamental level. Nothing feels the way it used to feel. What felt right before feels all distorted now. And it’s this weird time where we are forced indoors, afraid to go outside and for good reason. The world has not ever seen anything like this. We have not experienced anything like this ever before. All day wondering what the fuck is life, what the fuck are we gonna do now, and after this is over. When will this be over, right like when. Nobody knows.
And I have no answers. All I know is I couldn’t write anything but this right now and I think it is because I am usually the first person to check out of this world and fantasize or imagine or tell stories about alternate lives, random experiences. But there is no getting away from myself on this day. In this moment I am so very present, so confused and angry and afraid and hopeful and scattered and suspended somewhere between the coffee hours and the wine hours and I am not sure exactly what to write for you. What to say for you. What to offer for you to feel a little better, a little bit like there’s a candle for you here in the dark.
I like to write so we can feel the things no one in our regular life lets us feel. I can’t help but think that people who write and share like we do do it because this is the only place, or one of the very few places, on the planet where we can be ourselves without labels or judgments or explaining ourselves to anybody. I don’t normally just riff but today, I can’t help it. This was the only thing that felt real and tangible to me. To say I’m here, and I’m glad you are here, and I am sending you every heartfelt wish for health and safety and the preciousness of sanity in this absolute world gone absolute mad. Please take good care of yourself and the ones you hold dear. I am thinking of you. I am hopeful that I can get my head on straight soon and be able to write some prose that you will enjoy. Meanwhile, feel free to scroll through what is here, there is some written stuff, some audio stuff, there is my book Luminae on Amazon which I honestly do not know if it will ship right now physically but there is the Kindle version you could download if you’d like. Maybe if I make another one of these random pandemic fire side chats, I could read from my book a little bit for you, share some stuff from it, tell you why it is called Luminae, what kind of mood it is, why I wrote it, that kind of thing.
I don’t know. I’m here. I’m trying to take this all in and figure a way through. Just like you are doing. I salute you in your creative endeavors right now. It’s funny – well not really funny, but – it’s funny because before this crisis hit, very few people in the “real world” gave quiet time, or artistic endeavors, or writing or poetry the time of day. They thought art was a silly side bar after thought. But now, look. Now, watch and see. The artists are so important in times like these. So maybe that’s all for today. Let’s just be gentle and humble and honest and if we can, let’s just go make some good art.
Having traveled endless circles around the sun only to return to the same exact place each and every time, I lie back upon the bed and feel the warm heat of the blankets underneath my tired bones. I wasn’t always so tired, but now the days seem to stack themselves in towers which compress my chest like so many cinder blocks until it is genuinely hard to breathe. Drifting off into the abyss as I fall deeper into the darkness, there are dreams of another time and another place, another life and another version of myself which is dying to exist but I get tripped up inside the irony of it all and in some ways haven’t changed a single bit in decades. The skin fades but the eyes still shine like ocean in sunlight; the heart palpitates, lungs ache, but the ways in which we pleasure ourselves become increasingly hedonistic. In my childhood there was so much wide-eyed awkward potential, in my teens so much secrecy, wonder, and fear. The black cord necklace of his he fastened around my neck, my mouth grown thick with the taste of his heavy cologne. He lead me around and around for months like a new pet as I learned my body was a playground, my body a hot loaded gun. In my twenties, angst and freedom and danger and escape. All the power I claimed as my own back then without flinching terrifies me, takes my breath away now. In my thirties, perhaps something which could be described as desperation, devastation, destruction, but each one laced with sex and whiskey and hope. There is sweetness in numbness they just need you not to admit it. Numbness is like comfort but doesn’t feel nearly as close to the soul. Forty is no more excuses. I should own myself by now so what is it I’m searching for that is always just out of reach? There is a voice inside which is impossible to silence though it keeps telling me things I don’t want to hear about time and space, about regret and neglect, seduction and truth. The spine straightens, curves, arcs, at the thought of it. The stomach in the pit of my throat leaps at the sound of the grip of it. It is a kind of sick hunger wrapped around a deep moaning sigh. It is without name, it is without a face. But from time to time when I catch myself reminding the cells of my body to breathe, I think I can see the whites of its eyes reflecting themselves in mine.
In my name I hear the echoing voices of each of the women who came before me since Eve taught us all the wild beauty of our sinful desires. The pain of each birth exists within my womb and now and then I feel it all at once. Last night in a dream I asked you not to touch me but you wouldn’t stop. I don’t remember what came after but I know parts of me were frozen while other parts fought you off with a rage that came from some place primal, some place we are told doesn’t exist for fear we discover the power of its jaws, of its shiny white teeth. All the women, all of us. We stand on the ledge of a building in flames, afraid of each way out. When I jump I learn I can fly and leaving is as easy as I feared all along it might be. How we tremble and shake to unlock the chains which don’t even exist. Soaring like a wide winged bird up in the sky as I encircle a high rise and catch the wind as it swings around the tallest reaches of the steel beams of a massive extension bridge, I swoop out over the water, dipping so low I become drunk on the salty scent of the sea, swallow it down whole. Dare I dream of a life more beautiful than the one I left behind. Life is a series of traps. Life is a collection of delicate shells you keep in a jar on the side of the sink. Walking along that same bridge I flew over earlier, the street lights come on as night closes in. All that dark water swirling and rushing below is a thrill. I think of those who have made it their grave, their final riotous destination. I think of Virginia Woolf. I think of women wearing stockings and layers and layers of skirts. Heavy. Tangled. Writhing. Did they regret it half way through but then realize it was too late? I hope when I’m dying I don’t know it. Or maybe I do. It depends. How many days are left if I count backwards from you might be losing me? I’m not ready to go but I light up a cigarette anyway and burn myself to stun the pain. I don’t know you but I wish you were here. I wish you would look me in the eye and tell me it’ll all be okay even though we both know that’s impossible. All of these wishes, little aches in my soul like feathers of soft weeds blown out into the night air, scattered, surrendered. Wondering, just like me, what any of it means.
It can be lonely as night falls against the backdrop of a day whittled away to nothing but a rose washed sunset sky. Streaks of peach and amber and clouds drifting behind my tired eyes. It can feel empty in your chest without even a reason why. Such is the strange aloneness of being human, of being alive in stillness. Silence scratches its nails along the wall, pulling shadows down like shades. Wrapped in a flannel and dim light, I’m sipping on the spice of some old fashioned bourbon you left behind and tracing the curls of smoke as they circle from my lips to the ceiling and out the window which opens to the street. Desperate for words which reach inside and claw at the marrow of aching bones, I’m reading poetry by Donaghy, looking over his boyishly handsome face like a ghost in the mirror of a talent reflected back into itself for all eternity, too soon buried, filed away on a shelf only to be taken into soft hands on a cold winter’s evening. Somewhere in a far off hotel room, a man arrives with a bottle of champagne and makes sweet love to a woman he hardly knows who hardly knows herself, but with the tenderness of his touch he teaches her everything she needs to know to get her through another lonely night on the road. I’ve lit a few logs in the fireplace to warm more than just the body, the kind of flames which lick and split at the foot of the soul you carry around with you all day wondering where it fits. Where you fit. If anywhere. You write for some but others show up, unfamiliar, unforgiving, unable to listen or understand even the simplest of truths you hold close to your birdcage ribs. When you stop and think, as you too often do, of how many stories you have told you wonder how many are left to tell. Which will run dry first, you or them. Little rivers of quiet thoughts in your veins, thousands of miles to see what you have seen, to hold upon your tongue the words you searched for long ago only to find them back at the start. That’s the hardest part, maybe. Just to scrape together the courage to pull your heart from your throat. And start.
Good enough isn’t but you continue to pretend because life is complicated and you aren’t as strong as you wish to be. You want to write about anything else but this is what keeps bubbling up and it’s trash and it’s useless. You pour the coffee and check the news. Social media. Prophets. Sages. Hand sanitizer. Beach wear with no where to go. Money where money always is and poverty everywhere. You scroll through your phone too many times a day and make tiny calculations in your mind. What am I worth. What is art worth. How do you cup the meaning of a word in your hands. How do you explain you can’t help the ones who need you most. What is the weight of the poetry on your tongue, and what would you sacrifice to ingest it. Would you dare let the past burn down to the ground right where it’s standing. Would you light the match. Do you trust yourself to see past the flames, watch the heated burning smoke blurring the tops of the pines. I remember she said to me: This too shall pass. Stay close. I remember her dress caught on fire, I remember the sound and the smell and her face. Fear. Indifference. Infatuation. I remember. Underneath the screaming is the anger and underneath the anger is the sadness which just will not shift, like a lump in your throat on the cusp of the tears you try so desperately not to cry. Don’t let them see. Just don’t let them see what you see. Where has your soul gone in all of this. Can you turn your back on your self, the ghost of your body, a severed head. A severed heart, alone in a far off field, still beating. Each night a dream takes me to visit my desire. Each night an angel kneels next to me, repeating the words my blood knows by heart. I speak without speaking, my voice is the pulse in her chest, the sound of the beginning of time, the music woven into the fabric of every star long faded out. How did I get here, why did I come. Where am I going to rest my tired bones, will it be safe there. In my own womb. In my own hands. In my own head.
Leaning up against a massive gravestone, thick gray marble half as tall as you are, you light up a cigarette and pull the collar of your long coat tighter around your neck. The mist in the air is cool as it mingles with the scent of damp grass, mossy earth. It’s too late to be out here in the pitch dark but as I wind my way through the cemetery, I can just make out the outline of your tall slim silhouette as my vision adjusts. Watching the curve of your hand move slowly from your mouth to your side, all I want is to fall into you like death. Even my ribs yearn for you, even my gums itch for the chance to sink my teeth into the stoic heat of you. I walk with a metallic heaviness no one in this world understands, it is mine and mine alone to bear. Such is this life. Such is the nature of pain. In my soul I carry the bones and the secrets locked away in order to keep pace with a world which has been lobbing off pieces of itself for ages. My heart aches but only as often as it beats. Maybe that’s why this soft wet burial place enraptures me, the cold seduction of the quietness of the ending of everything. I listen to the branches of the sodden empty trees which creak without motion, I can feel their wooden lives stiff and rigid in my veins. Coming up close to you, I take your cigarette between my fingers. Our breathing mingles together. Standing so close to the animal in you is surreal and yet it snaps my entire being to immediate life. Have you any idea the blade that you are, the knife which twists and grazes all over my skin. You touch me without a sound. With your feathered breath you enter me deep and spread your glorious wings until I am stretched with this wild beg I have become for you. You do not say anything because everything that you are pours forth from you without relent, without invitation or coaxing. Cloaked in a black hood, you are a shadow in the flesh, the skin on your face, your neck, your chest, dewy and flawless, your eyes shine and flash like search lights as they flicker over my body. If you are the cup, I will kneel down and drink of you. If you are the answer, I will open my wrists and bleed for you. I watch as you trace an outstretched finger along the name etched into the headstone. With the same finger you trace my lips slow and I begin to tremble. It’s the way you handle me like dangling me over the edge. It’s the things you do to me, the curse of the seduction which I seethe for and I dread.
Lighting a cigarette as I sit against the tall windows, I am watching the street cars sliding along down below, the thin glass cold against my bare shoulder. They said it was supposed to snow around dusk and sure enough, in the final strokes of evening, the twilight sky has turned reddish purple as the snowflakes begin to fall in earnest. Street lights and crystal globes glittering behind me, I turn to look at you as you work a small flame in the fireplace, coaxing it into a soft roar. I swallow my whiskey and walk to you, feeling the delicious warmth smother my insides. The way you look at me tugs at everything tender. In your eyes I feel beautiful even as the stuff of violence and lust clutches in my chest. Embers flashing and crackling through the smoke, the darkened room becomes the outer reaches of the universe and we are satellites in orbit high above the earth, my hands skim down your arms as we kiss, our tongues dancing, tasting, searching each other. The taste of you is ocean in winter, is the clarity of sunlight falling through pines in a secluded wood. Easily, forcefully, you pin my hands, you lay me down. It is deliberate in its freedom, the motions of your body as you hunt and devour, the pleasure you take from me. What we have is strange and twisted. What we create tears at the skin, drives waves of crimson tides through the body and floods over the mind. Sweet brutality of touch. I bloom and bear fruit at your command. Shadows moving along the walls, shadows full of protruding eyes, observant in the darkness. As night falls all around us, snow swirling in prismatic cyclones, you take me into the fear, your breath is fire in my veins. You take and you take and you take from me, anything that burns you.
I play with fire and burn the house down to the ground only to raise you up again from the ashes and use my own tongue to lick you clean. This world we’ve created is madness. It is hell on earth brought down like a curtain, like a veil draped over the faces of eager virgins. Faces obscured. He wanted all of me and I gave him the few slivers I had to spare after dividing up the bones and discarding the filth. While I’m soaking in the bath reading poetry aloud because the way my voice reflects back into itself as it echoes against the tile walls is a turn on, he kisses me when I am drunk. I kiss him back because I like the taste of the liquor on his beautiful lips. He has the most wickedly talented mouth, I can’t deny that. With it he violates, penetrates, and dismantles me entirely. He reaches a strong hand beneath the water and touches me where I open like the gates of heaven, warm, blushed, honeyed. This is how we breathe at the bottom of the ocean of uncertainty. We close our eyes and grope each other’s bodies searching for something we need to feel but cannot bring ourselves to lay eyes upon. The burdens of the ages they try to fasten around my neck are their way of telling me I mean something but I don’t want any of it. I don’t want to mean anything, I want to be free of definition, left to my own reckless devices. After we make love, I sit in our small garden beneath the bedroom window naked, smoking a cigarette while watching the storm clouds move in across an apocalyptic sky. Please let the rain come down hard and heavy all over me. If there is a god please don’t let it take away this exquisite pain which threads itself in my blood. No one’s aloud out and no one’s aloud in. We have only each other to degrade and to satisfy, to feed and to fuck and to sink and to swim. I am gray as the others fade to black. I am the ghost of my haunted past and always have been but the trick is that none of it matters now. Taking a deep shredding drag of my smoke, I run my hand down my body from neck to breast to stomach. Will we ever get out of here. How do we ever get out of here when all we ever do is keep turning back.
I wake up long before first light, make my coffee and fire up my laptop. There are things I share and things I keep to myself and each time I sit down to explore this unknown with you, I wonder how we will fall into the abyss together. I suppose I am the lead, I am the one offering my hand to you, inviting you in to the mood I occupy, the worlds I create. Perhaps there is a hopefulness to it. A dare. A question. A promise. An illusion. Perhaps there is a rawness here in this place that you are not used to experiencing in your day to day life. And this is where we meet. In a field of twilight stars, far enough away from everything else to be ourselves. As I sip my coffee and type, the birds are awakening, one by little one, beginning their individual songs. Last night was a flurry of terrible dreams. Dead bodies along the side of a highway, I looked out the passenger side window to try to understand how many there were but it was dark and there were too many to count, all scattered across the concrete, some in burlap type bags. I did not scream. I did not turn away. I could not tell if I felt anything except confusion. The faceless man who was in the driver’s seat, he told me not to look. It’s just the way it is around here. I ignored him as he careened the small car through the human obstacles. Too many people in my life think the answer is not to stare down the agony, not to look the cruelty right between its eyes. They don’t want us to see. They call it protection, they call it help. They will call it anything they need to call it in order to maintain control. Keep you placated. Distracted. Optimism is a game they play and sell it to you for cheap. Now I’m sifting through some new material I’ve written for a reading I want to pour my soul into fully. I think I must have been born this way, with a deep desire to give myself completely to the creative work that I do. A lot of people can understand that, but only up to a certain point. The sensual realm, the erotic expression, is a dark power for a woman to possess. And what they do not understand is that the erotic is not a separate category, that my sensuality cannot be severed from all the rest of me. Darkness is a part of the mystery of me which courses through every single thing I do or say. Darkness to some is evil, is frightening, because of its rugged unapologetic power. This is where shame is born. Where the imaginary chains of modesty, morality, and religiosity tighten around the flesh of the spirit, the mind, and the body. Darkness to others is bliss, is pleasure, is heaven, is beautiful, is life giving, is seductive, haunting, twisted, welcoming. Beckoning. What many cannot understand is that some of us want the fall. We want the shadows to penetrate us deep, we adore them. We spend our private time inviting them in. We want to possess the intimate feelings which churn within us, make them dance, make them poetry, make them come to life. How much of the song of my soul must I suffocate in order to fit in with those I do not respect. How much of my wilderness must I leave unexplored, sacrifice, death before death. It is raining now out in the street as the blue gray fingers of the dawn rise up toward the tears in the sky. I won’t get to read this one aloud and it breaks my heart a little. I love to read for you. It is one of my very favorite things. But I couldn’t not write it. The more insane the outside world becomes the more I need this one that you and I occupy together. More and more, as I live my strange life, my imagination is the only place I want to be.