i had never come so close to protection like you. with such gravity and depth, such friction i nearly refused my own breathing just to relieve the heat. in the presence of power, the mind is first stripped of itself, followed blindly by the body. we are born undone by love and turned away from what we believe (hold fast). this has become a day like all the others. it has become a night after a night alone with the night itself: a virgin, a war crime, a bargaining chip. a static hall of secret pain, hushed low tones wrenched at the hinge of the half-beaten heart.
tapping upon the door, tapping upon the window sill, as the rain bleeds itself wet with the cold movement of the passing of time. to think of summer underneath willowy trees, to imagine sunlight burning through leaves; these are the gifts we grant ourselves in times of grief. imaginings. fleeting silhouettes. to be taken away. to make a frail cup of steaming tea and tuck our fears to bed until a brighter morning. i wish every voice would say it. but they each fell apart, not one after another but all at once, because of each other. the noise and the silence, both loud in disgust.
i wish we had no reason to fight so hard (hold fast).
as if to eat the fog and live like freedom, we exist as ghosts gliding alone over the stone gray hills. soaked in smoke, calling on death. graveyards in the clutch of our heels. reflections in the crystal droplets suspended, would i allow myself a drink. humbled grasses grow weary atop the soul of an afterlife promised, then revoked. children taken from children. blood of innocents in the breaking of bread.
the world offers no hand. the dark, no shadow figure with which to speak.
in silence the leaves move, only when your eyes rest upon them. self-consciousness is of all living and intimate things. everything which pulses can savor pleasure and detect pain, some entwine the two. the patterns of the skin restructure themselves at the introduction of touch.
i’m waiting for you in a dark room where curtains skim the ceiling and the floors. each shadow encloses a shadow and extends. all across the city the sky tilts its giant black face up toward a sky of its own, which is below a sky we’ll never reach.
there are some people who possess such a vibration that they can enter a room without physically being present. just the thought of you is enough to send rushing my affection, my desire; to command the taut, prickling attention of my entire being.
on the side table, pillowy blossoms in a gold-stained vase flush crimson with expectation.
as the darkness opens herself to a low glowing simmer, i lay back upon the kingly bed. the rich polished wood of this room stands still, stands close. through a window i can see the moon and the way the clouds thinly veil and then fully expose her in clear cold turns.
my love, for how long. for the minutes are hours and this hour i am held within is the mouth of the breathing of a tortured god. here in my chest, the soft nature of the waiting creature. the patient burning seed.
One of the things I’m challenging myself to do this year is to go deeper into myself and find what I am yearning to say. It’s such a basic and simple idea but in practice it is exceedingly difficult. I find I have to break through many layers, many atmospheres, many illusions. The layers of fear, laziness, and judgment I inflict upon myself. The atmosphere of environment, media, discomfort, those voices which seem to emerge slowly and deeply from imaginary walls to make me uneasy, to question my ability, sincerity, resolve, dedication. Are you brave enough? Are you woman enough? Have you the spirit of the lion, the wolf, the dove? The questioning is enough some days to break me clean in two.
And of course, then too, are the many illusions which threaten to derail my inner quest by slyly and insistently (like a deceitful child who pretends for a kiss and then smacks you on the head) turning my attention outward. This is especially difficult because our entire culture wants us affixed to the illusion of “out there.” What will they think? Is this what they want, they need, they expect? Is it right? Is it good? Will it attract enough people to matter? The artist must cut through all of this to get into herself. To find what she alone perceives, what she in her soul, her heart, her mind, her body, feels, knows, believes.
What grows within me is mine alone. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to work to get to it. Inside I am wide open. Unexplored terrain. This is what it means then. To go into the wild.
as the sky falls into the melody of another fiery evening, i am listening to a soft strong voice glide out from the radio. this voice believes in something i am trying to understand. in beauty, in tenderness, in the promise of the ocean glittering at midday. i am alone and clammed by air too warm for February. removing my shirt and my shoes, rubbing the aches in my bare feet. the rich smoothness in the voice’s words becomes the body of a man i wonder if i’d ever have had the courage to become.
birds are floating up above the catch of gray trees and the sun crawls lower into the belly of this lonely planet. i watch the people on tv streaming live, grasping, desperate for hope which has all but escaped them. what would you offer us, and who would you like us to pretend to be. how is the daily bread to be made when suffering comes in stinging waves without relent. the amount of pain they carry, we carry, i carry, the little ones carry. how will we get out of here. how will we get on in this graveyard nightmare game.
there is a gun and there is a child. the gun is cradled, sheltered, protected. and the human fabric shreds itself from the outside in. we pull apart our hearts and they are full of small bones, of vigils, of lead.
the distant radio mouth is still weighted with song. it sings the words. it breathes out and in. but there is no relief.
I write from a place — this place, the expanse of this unending now, with her tangled anguish and desire piled atop my head waiting to fall undone around me in cascades of impossible strawberry blonde. Frustration. Boredom. Stubborn resolve. Pleading. Waiting. Exploring. It is a way to die, to be raised up anew.
There is a place where the words come from which no writer has ever touched, and yet we can all speak of it, reach for it, make love to it. The thing about writing is you must turn the heels of all thought inward and stop walking away from the hushed life which calls to you in constant: the shadowy brow of coming night slanted across an empty wall, the screech of dark tree limbs against the back of your memory. People build entire lives out of turning away. They turn away from the sweet cream of every day and ram themselves into suit jackets and briefcases and monstrous stone buildings with blank faces to match their own. Under the flags blowing wild against a barren winter sky they march away, away, away into glass doors, into steel rooms, out of their own bleeding hearts.
And here in the mist of twilight are the unlikely hands of writers, mighty and meek. The ones who cherish the words as if each one were warm and sacred (even the words which ruin, even the words which despair) . You do not turn away. Not you. You with your fire mind and the glow you sleep inside, dream inside, speak of without even trying. You turn inward and both curse and savor the confusing pleasure of it. You who have been made of something mysterious which tugs at the veins. A quiet ache which places flowers at the center of the womb, weeps, and bears fruit.
i’d have chosen you.
and taken your body
to my warm breast
the burn and the wreckage
flight by flight
wings spread of shallow watering dawn.
mouth, wrists, lungs worn
by the opalescent liquid pain.
i’d have chosen you
And what is there really but fear and little breaks in the fear now and again. In your mouth, the cold wet suburban streets calling for no one. You trace the quiet desperation that rings itself around your week-old coffee mug and cherish the meek sadness of the rain which has gone on for decades underneath your skin. You try to write but all the photographs are full of messages you cannot keep from weighing down your mind. Time is always someone else’s. Every person has a camera and each image is a waste because they are the same and never stop. The people, their hurt-filled eyes, the ignorance of their blackened words in constant.
A soft girl dressed in white dances before the sun, they are setting into the sickness of green seaside.
I suppose I am afraid for all the reasons anyone would be afraid. The deafness of silence and the way a scream fills the bathwater. The fear which both bridges and divides one moment and the next as the evening comes but not carefully enough. There is a moment I can feel in my chest like a song you wrote but not for me, an empty beach in December which drifts in the marrow of my bones. You do not meet me and you are everywhere. You are faceless without body or tongue, though all I do in these dead hours of sliding panic is imagine you exist. A place I can lay down inside forever.
An opening in the blue.
We no longer seek for breaks of light. We no longer hear the ticking of the clock. The photographs and the people they capture, continue falling like rain for ages.
I realize it is more important to be true to something — to identify an underlying truth and pluck it from the shadows and bring it in to my presence, to lay bare before the experience of it. This is more important than ever writing anything. The writing will tangle up with one’s devotion to the truth. They will be drawn to each other because they always have been, they are of the same cloth. But the truth, the honor of it and the relentless desire for it, the burning for what is truly believed, must always come first. Otherwise the words have nothing to cling to.
Aren’t we just looking for someone else’s hand to hold, for their tender ‘other’ burdens to pass sweet between our lips. They were ahead of the snowfall and it just washed up on the lawn as rain. Still the barren cold suits us, the tall of the trees protruding from our hickory laden lungs. Wool coats and the dark scarf which smells of the warm smoke of you. Hard boots against the pavement. I used to be a writer but today I am mostly that small sad person who dreams about a pen in hand, who hopes you cry a little when you understand how far I’ve gone to break though everything, to get away from everything. To get into myself and know what that even means is so terrible and so difficult.
I do not miss you the way you’d hoped. I miss the half I resurrected in my simmering stove pipe mind. Pulled your image from the frozen earth and made you a kiss out of nothing. Magic, I would tell you. Magic, the way a body turns from flesh to object to puddle and back again under the proper gaze. And here you are, worlds on fire in your perpetual eyes, pretending there is no such thing as disturbance.
I offer you the pulse in my neck and you take your sweet long time. No hands. No expectations. And the mood follows the mood, the mood follows no pattern, fluctuates and penetrates invisible, without you. The mood slips off and hangs separate from you yet holds you captive. They are still breathing and I am what is leftover. To peer up into the world is crush and torture, this is the way of a mind that wishes perhaps for too much. We sit in small rooms waiting, showing ourselves for the little fools we are and we do it in secret and we do it alone and the gray sky light offers its bony arm for no good reason.
I clear more and more items from my desk — pages from letters and charcoal bits of my wind scattered heart — because I cannot stand the idea of ever going back, back to the way it was, back to the way I was, out of touch with myself. Groping in the daylight for something to destroy by comparison.
I used to love an artist who would make obscene creations larger than life as though thereby making them beautiful. As though the more gruesomely and intricately she could scratch her claws against the world, the more the world would bend to her and call her god. It was at this time she would become her most gentle, her most lamb-like, tender.
And the transformation was more obscene than the art itself.
In mourning for the lives which no longer touch mine, and I no longer theirs. The transgressions I have made dribble backwards from my tongue and I am left to worry or to choose. The exhaustion of silence hangs vacant from the corners, I recede into the emptiness I cannot breathe. The women I see with their impressive wrinkles deepened into the skin, how I adore them in a way that is pregnant with grace — something I had been taught to hand over for the sake of the ascension of degradation. These are the ways we are changing, walking from summer into autumn, the parting light caught slimly between our teeth.
This day, the quiet panic of any day falling away from January, is spread across stale breakfast toast and steeped in bitter English tea. I do not want promises, I do not want happiness, I do not want to be led to the river. At my fingertips, a slow keyboard. At the tip of my memory, a screen.
Sunset becomes us, it sinks beneath the anxiety and melts away at the grinding of symphonic gears. Women. Machines. Soft lips and terrible steel beams, metal girders pressed against the heart… even still she beats. We do not mean to hold this much poison inside our bones but we mistake the cage for protection, rage for progress. How dulled this prismatic woman gazing out across a graying evening.
Does the cold in the winter moon sky beg or does she stoop a while to listen? Yellowed papers, red eclipse. Our time is thick though spilled across the kitchen floor. Behold, I press my hands upon the breast of the mess we’ve made. We are surprised at the weight of this despair. That we can be so heavy and remain unseen.