Through to the Other Side

Morning is still a deep ocean blue outside my window as the cool air moves in over my skin. Accepting the periwinkle dawn’s invitation into another day, I slide out of bed and into a hoodie and head downstairs for an obscenely large mug of coffee.

I read the news on my phone, or a bit of it, before clicking the stupid thing off and tossing it face down on the desk in my writing room. The news of the day is the news of the minute is hardly news at all when you’re so jittery you can’t remember what’s come before or after anything else.

And this is, of course, how they want you. Internally chaotic, externally enraged. Afraid. So twisted into knots that you oscillate yourself perpetually between two states of being: immobile and flailing. Away. Out of their way as they make their way into a brave new apocalypse.

But you know what they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.

I make my way through a day as anyone might, coffee, writing, office, wine, dinner with my beloved, with whom I discuss some things and not others because we have learned each other well by now. Time passes and you arrange yourself into the habits and kinks, making of commitment and attraction as nuanced a cocktail as you can divine.

As the sun is swallowed behind dark clouds of nightfall, I consider giving up the bottle for good, but decide now isn’t the time and sink into bath water hot enough to turn the soft skin on my thighs bright red as I submerge below lavender bubbles. There is a hardness inside which melts a little into the beautiful heat, steaming itself off of my bones, soothing my numbed nerves.

As I lower my face beneath the water I imagine another place and another time, and a childlike innocence sweeps across my tender lost little heart. When I come up for air and open my eyes, will it be different? Will it be better if we make it to the other side?

 

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Photo by Velizar Ivanov

Miser With Your Thoughts

Locusts are thrusting their brittle wings in the high tree tops, making a sound like they can’t stop shivering, which is odd given the thick summer heat.

I pour a crisp glass of white and set it down to sweat on the back porch table, while I light a cigarette on my way to grab the mail. Squinting behind my dark sunglasses, my eyes travel in the direction of two young girls walking toward the basketball courts, wearing cut offs so short you can see the tanned round curves of their perfect little asses dimpling in the slant of the sun as it cuts clear across the neighborhood.

A dog barks across the way, and for a second I think he’s mine before I remember he isn’t, and the mail gets delivered and I head back for my wine in my bare feet.

I make thousands of such useless observations a day but never think to share them. Who would read my thoughts, even if they could, even for free?

I think it was Nin who said something to the effect of not holding back, not being stingy or, what was it exactly? I wrote it down in a notebook someplace, give me a minute…

Ah, yes, this:

You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of the fullness.

What a thing to have said, to ever say. A woman unafraid of fullness.

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT

The Knots Begin

It’s the part of the morning when the sky is whitish-pink, blush. With a kiss of promise, thin. Fleeting. The knots begin their tightening in my stomach, and I worry: will this be a good, safe day? Somewhere it isn’t. And I am so porous (I misspell this, pourous, and imagine my body as a vessel, emptying, emptying, like a flood crushes stone) I’m not sure I can tell anymore what’s in here, and what’s out there. It’s all come inside, inside and crouches like an animal. Coils and coils of panicked stillness. Trembling hesitation. Everything is covered with eyes, all blinked observation. Everything from all sides, inside, outside, watching. Vigilance without aim is fear. Peach light seeping over the grass, melting wet and buzzing in the trees.

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT

Painkillers

A flash of quick flame scorches the tender tip of my finger as I attempt to force the near-dead lighter alive enough one last time to light up a smoke. Snatching it up, you somehow coax the exhausted thing better than I had and burn my cigarette under the dappled sunlight on this dry and brutal August afternoon.

There’s plenty of daylight still to come, though crushingly little to do with it, so we fill the pool and fill our drinks and re-tell the same old stories until the buzz sets in and we can finally say what’s on our minds. Mostly you’re content and mostly I’m overflowing with ideas, thoughts, opinions, anxieties, musings, and all manner of words about words written by the greats, wishing I were half the artist so many others seem to be, or seem to have been.

I’ve been obsessed with Anne Carson, reading everything I can during slow times at the office, scratching down line after line which drags its nails across my heart, my skin, my mind. A poet quite measured, calculated, and yet bold, daring, reaching in the most judicious manner. How I wish I could be such a thing, selective and audacious at the same time. These are qualities worth striving for, I believe.

That is, to the extent that anything is worth becoming in a world which makes it increasingly difficult to concentrate on any given subject, let alone cocoon oneself inside of it achingly long enough to be transformed. Time is taken from us in tiny sarcastic bursts, death to the glorious psyche by a thousand cuts of pixelated knives.

As the sun sinks low, a burning ball of orange fire behind the darkening trees, I watch the ripples of tangerine colored water rising and falling all around our gentle floating bodies. Wine in hand, I swim over to you, drawn in by the way your wet lips glisten with the touch of faded summer sky.

When we kiss, there are hints of lemongrass and grapefruit. I can feel your desire spark electric in the liquid softness of the water. The taste is heaven and the words don’t matter when in your eyes I see the end of everything that hurts.

 

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Photo by Karina Tess

Sweet Sweet Dreams

Clutching for the sky, I slide down alongside the rain as I imagine your kiss turns bittersweet, from sugar to some sort of chemical, like swallowing mercury. The crickets are still buzzing loudly in the darkness of early morning, crackling in the grass like fire. As you disappear I find myself alone again in a crumpled bed, strewn with white linen I have to kick my sticky legs free from due to the unbearable heat.

Unsure if the sweat which slicks my entire body is brought on by the thickness of the humidity which sags through the window and soaks everything damp, or night sweats brought on by either the advance of age or the increase of drink, I peel off all my clothes and lie naked at the center of the bed. The center of the universe beats at the center of my body, as though my heart were located somewhere closer to my navel than my chest.

The mind wanders in these predawn hours. I consider the lost works of Sappho, words lush with pleasure-pain, ripe, swollen with longing, even still, made haunting through their absence.  Their suggestion becomes obsession with interpretation, extrapolation, possibility. Perhaps this is the single common human desire. Our want of the wanting. Our desire for the desire. Our thirst for the neediness and greed.

Sweet-hard thoughts of masochism, sadism, wanton women, hungry men. The feral, the animal, the degrading, the way only pain can satisfy the deep psychic cravings tucked within the folds of our darkest secret pleadings. Imaginings of orgies in days long gone by, humanity, divinity, perversions of beauty and sin, lost to the ruins of time, air, salt, sea. These musings blur into the blue haze of the dewy morning glow.

As my skin cools, sleep descends all around me, slows my breathing. Each desire becomes the mist of the dream. Each dream, a white paper boat I watch set out upon the dark and unrelenting waves.

 

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Photo by Engin Akyurt

Skies Like Scars

Say, everything is going to be alright. Mean it but be unsure of yourself, just enough that I can feel it weighting down my limbs.

Hold me close, almost too close. Feel how I can’t breathe. Afraid to breathe anyway, not sure I remember how. There was a time. I am almost certain of it.

When the air wasn’t so tight.

When I could taste the sounds of cars rushing on the highway late at night, when I would hum with the quick pulse of my machinery.

When my veins were the color of soft pewter
and I didn’t even notice
them.
Or stare.

Say, you are so lucky, you’re an angel, made for this.

Say, it only hurts at first, say, but that’s okay.

And it does.
And you’re not sure if it is.

But you let it burn
for as long as you can in case
you don’t know yourself well enough yet

to know better.

 

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Photo by Anthony Tran

Pornographia

If you and I are talking, there’s about a fifty percent chance I believe anything you tell me, which, for the most part, is more about my own uneasiness than yours, although it may also be that the seediness in you is reflecting its menace in mine underneath the words you rattle off thinking you can put me in my place.

Explain at me. Educate me. Enlighten me. Tell me how it is, I can see you are quite concerned that I come around to the way you interpret the world you seem to own, seem to be in charge of, seem to be the one it was constructed around.

Around and around we go, wherever we stop, you’ll be the first to know. Won’t you. Decide. I take a drag of my smoke and I wait for it all to end, while penning a love letter in the garden under the shade of a mighty swamp maple which shields me from the oppressive sun but not the scorching July heat.

The heat curls everywhere inside my skin.

You ask what I am thinking but it doesn’t matter much unless it props you up. In my mind, the red hot summer sky blooms ripe like drops of blood billowing in water. A mother loses a child. A writer makes her bed in the corner of an empty room, typing out tragedy, stabbing out hope, letter by letter. Explanations are excuses and I don’t offer either anymore.

I watched a young woman in New York get thrown into the back of an unmarked van and driven away by armed men in plain clothes in a cloud of fogged distraction and rage, before I even had coffee this morning. The birds sang as the trees were rustling in the breeze which made a sound like the rush of a stream running by, sloping along a steep hill. None of which actually exist.

She writes like, you know, I don’t know, some stream of consciousness type shit like that. Just from one thought to the next, on and on, and half the time it doesn’t make sense. I don’t know whether to believe her. She claims it’s saving her life.

 

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Photo by Allan Filipe Santos Dias

Underneath

Perhaps you thought the words would save you, from what you did not know. If you could only locate the right ones. The ones more precious than any of the hundreds of thousands you had written before in the clouds as they soared by overhead, into a pale gray distance you dreamed to explore.

Morning dawns in your chest, pinks and blues and lightning bolts. I have a dear friend who shares my bed, stalks my mind, and I refuse to believe that he needs me for anything.

Anxiety. (Generalized.) The shaking spreads itself through everything and you are fascinated by its smoothness, obsessed with your inability to collect it back in. Watch over it, wade into it, like an oil spill, black ink slides out across the vast dark ocean of the void.

We open our hearts and touch our lips to one another for want of the emptiness. Thirsty. You are the taste of sunlight falling through trees, the secrets which twist and ache to keep.

Under lock and key, the tongue keeps hidden inside your stifled breath. You tap at the keyboard just to feel your heart beating. Almost surprised, almost, unlikely. There are multiple lives you live all at once and they each ring separately in your ears, hoping to be the one who is heard.

It is hard to tell. It is difficult to hear the answer among the answers.

Above all else. Beyond all the noise and the rattling which exhausts your veins with trembling. When it is very hard to see, I don’t know how the words can save me.

But still, even inside the madness, something believes I should believe.

 

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Photo by Vino Li

Fourteen Years Ago Today, Time Broke Away from Itself

On this day fourteen years ago, my mother died in the back room of the house we opened and closed our lives in. When it was all over, the pine trees stood in the front of the house, reaching, heavy, immobile in the terrible heat.

I want to say the sun was setting because I am certain it was. How could it not? How could it be any other way at the end of everything. I want to say it was dinner time.

But then, suddenly, somehow, it wasn’t.

It was supposed to be something else, it was supposed to be a different time. A longer time. A time so much farther off that we shouldn’t have been able to see it. Let alone hear it in the ringing in our ears as dishes were done. Prayers were prayed. Let alone touch it, here at the center of the heart in our trembling hands.

We will be back, we whispered to her just moments before she made her departure from us forever. Forever, arriving and departing, at dinnertime.

But there would be no eating, for there was no time any of us could understand. No breaking of bread, no explanation, no dinner. Time. There would be tear stains searing down the skin which covered the numbness. There would be I am so sorry, there would be drinking late into the night on the back deck, voices, both familiar and unfamiliar, in the darkness, as she was taken away.

Taken away from us.

Grief moves through you, in and out of each of the shattered windows in your soul, like wind, empty, hollow, invisible, whistling.

Looking for something it cannot name, it cannot find, it cannot see.

For years and years.

 

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic

On Aligning with Your Soul’s Desire

This isn’t my usual type of content, but fuck it, it’s my space and I feel deeply compelled to write about some of the things that go on in my daily experience right now as they relate to the current climate of revolution sweeping across my country, and across the world.

I was speaking with a very dear and precious friend a few days ago, about living authentic lives, as in: lives which bring us joy, challenge, and fulfillment as women. And how we feel “crazy” when we follow our calling, our spirits, our soul’s desires. We feel misaligned, out of whack, but we also have never felt so alive, so renewed, so fulfilled, gratified, energized.

So OURSELVES.

And I got to thinking maybe we feel crazy when we are aligned with our spirits because our whole lives we were taught what we “should” align with was the world’s expectations of what we are supposed to do, who we are supposed to be.

This alignment with false promises put us at odds with who we were truly meant to be. Deep down, we knew it, but couldn’t name it. We longed for ourselves but looked outside instead, as all women are taught to do, for validation.

All our lives we were conditioned to believe aligning with the patriarchy, with capitalism, and with commercialism, was the right thing to do, the right way to be. So when we finally begin to align with our soul’s calling instead, we feel disjointed in exactly the way we are meant to on our journey to our Selves.

We are dislodging from our conditioning so that we may get in order with our Truth.

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Photo by Izabelle Acheson