Inside the dying trees are many circles which mark their ages. We like to think it’s one ring per year but I don’t know if that is exactly correct. Makes it easier though, doesn’t it? To have a rounded out story like that to tell so that we can sound enchanting as well as intelligent. Using this rough calculation, if I were a tree I would have forty one rings around my neck at this very moment. I wonder how tall that would make me among the other trees. I once read that trees have a sensory map within them, that in a sense they can feel things, and feel each other. If a tree is sick, another one who is close by will wrap its roots around the suffering one in an attempt to share nutrients. It would seem that even as humans try to destroy the trees, the trees continue to try to save each other. They also try not to grow too much higher than the trees surrounding them so that they can all share the sunlight equally, thus ensuring they can all stick around and spread themselves nicely but not obnoxiously and grow. They want to be forests. They want to be together in big clumps because that is how they feel healthy and good. I’m not sure what we can learn from this but it seems to me the trees know something we have forgotten or maybe we just get exhausted of it. Connection. Sharing. Not trying to be taller than everyone else so that you get all the light and the rest get the rot. As I sit in the coffee shop smelling the fresh dark roast beans and steamed cream, I see the people on their cell phones and laptops, clicking away in bathed blue glow. Double espressos and knit scarves. Black leggings and nose piercings and finger tattoos. Somewhere out past the crowded street with all the traffic, a train whistles by on its squeaky steel tracks. People getting out of town. One by one, each customer enters and then leaves. I look up from my Patti Smith paperback and peer out the frosted window. There is something I cannot name which is busy eating away at my insides. I wonder if it is illness or just nerves as I listen to the coffee shop indie music softly interlace with the voices of the people all around me. Football games and cancer treatments. New puppies and all inclusive island vacations. Marriages planned and marriages severed into divorce. Funerals and Valentine’s Day, little red cinnamon hearts. Pink cupcakes and red roses and grade school dances in sticky gymnasiums. And maybe it’s me and maybe it’s nothing, but I get this feeling sometimes that I just cannot shake. That everybody’s talking and nobody’s saying a thing.
You forget the quiet in things. The sweet silence of morning as the coffee brews and you stand watching out the window as the squirrels scamper and flit across the frozen ground, all the little feathered bits of nature give chase inside the gray and waiting air. Up in the sky, a soaring formation of dark shadowy geese, crying out their direction, making clear their shriek of intention. High above, the clouds are rippled like an oil painting, soft washed hues of bluegrays and whites, pregnant with a snowfall which promises to quiet this little town in blankets of glittering cold. You forget the magic in being alone, the solace of trusting yourself, being with what you know, being aroused and empowered by the beating of your own wild heart. I think of the women who have spent so much of their time in rooms by themselves. Each a candle dancing, melting, burning. Little silent lights all over the world in their quietude. The arch of their stories bending toward sensuality and disruption. The flick of their elegant fingers across the laptop keys as they give life to the lifeless, breathe holiness into the mouths of the wretched, the forgotten, the ugly, the shamed, the broken. You forget what it has taken for you to have come this far. You forget how much of your soul you have dared to touch, to caress, to bare. But on this intimate morning, of no particular significance to anyone else in the world, with the words alight in your veins and your mind ablaze with decadent dreams, the parts of you which had forgotten, now suddenly remember. You remember all of it, the gruesome and the glorious. And your spirit becomes a magnificent mirrored pool, reflecting the fathomless depths of the reverence you deserve. And for a few moments, this mad life feels good all wrapped around your sacred bones. And just as a little crack in your mind begins to grow, just as your fear threatens to impose, you look out across the distant sky, as it begins to snow.
He strokes and strokes me endlessly, refusing to penetrate, until my mind is blank and racked with desperate need. Still he denies me, keeping me on the brink until I am slain with sweat and tears, until the darkened room, the heat of the air all around me, all inside me, blood, bones, walls, tongue, bed sheets, floorboards, fingernails, turn to molten liquid, I become a prismatic volcanic ocean, my head, my lungs, my entire being swallowed fully beneath the surface of wave after punishing wave of shining explosive ecstasy. Body still quaking, I turn to see my tormentor wears no face, his hands now invisible, I sigh and release him. He vanishes from view just as my skin transforms into finest silk.
I’m sat by a window in the corner of a room with which I am unfamiliar, it is bare and there are no lights, only three candles flickering softly on the floor next to a full length mirror leaning quietly upon a shadowed wall. The window is tall and the sill slathered in ivory paint, no doubt once pristine, is now flaked and chipping all over itself. The glass which is dirty reveals the fog of my shallow breath. Though I am not physically tied to the chair, I am weighted down by a mysterious sensation of sunken heaviness, rendered immobile. Down below in an old stone courtyard where tall marble statues are contorted into various obscene poses, a collection of dead brown leaves is swirling in a mad cyclone along the pavement like small children chasing each other around a schoolyard at recess. Faster and faster they whirl about, some little ones catching flight and drifting up to my window before soaring and dancing high above the treetops on the wind. I watch as they flutter, adrift against a stoic white afternoon sky.
I am racing to catch a plane which never arrives. I forget one bag and then another and then lose my coat and then cannot find my way back to the terminal after a search for my passport proves unsuccessful.
He lights my cigarette in a strip club bar downtown, steps in close and slips a hand into my blouse for a feel. Not here, I plead, biting my lip and looking up into his magnificent sapphire eyes. I’m flushed with embarrassment, sensing the pulsing crowd, their exposed bodies and cravings so close I can practically taste them in my mouth. But just like that he removes my top and rubs a whiskey drenched ice cube back and forth upon my lush pink nipples, making them hard and erect for all to see. In my fevered state, my head falls back and I glance up at the ceiling which peels apart like an eyelid, revealing the expansive dome of velvet night sky. “I will imagine you Venus tonight and pray, pray, pray to your star like a Heathen.”
He writes poetry about the moon drifting toward empty space, the words are vacuous but he insists that by repeating them they become something most profound. He talks about everything he encounters as though it were a treasure special to behold and while I find him mildly charming I am also exhausted by his nauseating lack of awareness. All of these people who surround me all the time, pecking my eyes out of my skull with their excitement over things which not only do not matter but which will destroy each and every one of us in the end. I attempt a search for meaning in it all but the only thing that really stirs me at present is watching in aroused fascination as an extremely talented pole dancer slides her ripe young body up and down the metal length of sleek steel while whipping her hair from side to side in front of her smooth gratuitous nudity. It might be vulgar to some but to me it’s honest and honest is powerful all by itself. So many lies, so many lives distorted and discarded. We deny our pleasure and our animalistic nature all the while behind the moral high ground is the money and behind the money is the greed and behind the greed is the systematic degradation of the human spirit. It’s enough to make your head explode but only if you are paying any bit of attention which I’m now firmly on the fence about in any case. Stepping out into the rainy evening, I light up a cigarette and stare off into the distance as the concrete buildings slowly melt into the street like so many tears down mascara stained cheeks and the skies turn from pink to gray to bleak. I wonder how many words I have written, what they all mean and if anybody’s counting. Does the devil keep score and if so, what for? We’d like to think we’re made in the image of something more beautiful than we are. We’d like to think that someplace in our frightened battered hearts beats the whisper of the gentle breath of god. But salvation is only for some, and not others. Some are worthy and others are trash. We cry for love but just when we get close, we nail it to a tree and divide up its garments while we drink bitter wine and laugh. There are those who tell you what you want to hear because that’s how they get what they think they deserve. Their affection is a shimmering cloak of round cut diamonds, but it’s not so pretty underneath.
Not in any mood for talking or company, I slip my key in the front door and effectively fall into the arms of the words which have been eating at me all day. In two shakes, my grandmother used to say this, two shakes, sometimes adding of a lamb’s tail, which I can still picture her saying with a smile, I’m in sweatpants, hair tied up in a messy bun, uncorking a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand because when given the choice, always New Zealand. The wine is glorious as it blooms and blossoms throughout my body, soothing my jacked nerves, calming my racing mind. It’s not that I can’t think straight at the office (ok, to be fair, that is sometimes debatable) but there is a constant current running underneath my veins, pulling in the opposite direction of this world, tugging me back into myself and into myself is made of words. I read other writers who are so beautiful at what they do it makes my stomach sick, and then I read them again, raking the fingers of my mind through their words as if mining for gold. We want each other but mostly we want each other’s secrets. We want to unlock the codes of the universe so that we won’t feel so useless, so insignificant. We want to be close enough to peer into the abyss of another soul to be sure they are as messed up as we are. Beauty is for lovers and seduction is for strangers and the way we present ourselves is always slightly askew. There are times when I think I know myself so clearly, but then times when I think I don’t know myself at all. There is a deep fear I carry in the center of my chest, a black feathered crippling thing which quivers and shakes. Mostly I try to hide it but when we fuck it’s the reason being restrained feels like heaven and hell all tied into one. The sight of you is like seeing a ghost. Looking at your face, I remember things about myself that I can never change, can never repent for because the hour is too late. Something in the brute strength of your jaw reminds me of all of my sins and bad decisions. Are there people out there who have done it all right and do they feel good about it or do they stare at the ceiling wide awake in the cold hours of the morning, desperate to break free of an existence scripted only by the others? When you lie there alone in your bed and the static darkness sinks its whispered breath inside of you, do you touch yourself while thinking of me? In my mind I lay you down and feed you my poetry as you lick your tongue along the smooth tenderness of my thigh. Tell me how it makes you feel. Tell me, how does it taste with my words in your mouth?
Perhaps it is dangerous, to write with passion, desire, uninhibited. Perhaps the danger is in the telling of one’s inner stories to an outside world which only lies in wait, savage and unkind. Or is that me. The savage at her own throat. When did my passion become the gun in my mouth. When did the words sink their hooks into my blood and why do I seethe for them. I see the others and they appear so content. Each shoulder, each hip, a sun so bright I dim at the corners of darkness left crumbled and unspoken. I see the vacant smiles and the fake fringe lashes and the false dramatic starts, cool salted kisses blown into the ocean wind as another sorry heart fades into the sweet desperate tears of afternoon blue. What you adore, what you tuck under your skin is what will gut you, but this they never quite say. Do they. How fine, how melancholy your blue firm body. How seductive your blue stained mouth. Your veins a map of pain you inflict upon yourself for kicks. Tell me what to write about, tell me just exactly what to say before your sharp gaze cuts the tongue from my voice, a slice of holy hollow shell. She was an animal creature, she wore the tail and the furry ears and purred in my lap. I was every animal in the animal kingdom and every ancient sun which raged crimson, set behind an earth deserted. We suck the breast of our own destruction, feed on the milky flesh of entire continents obliterated. Give us this day the terrors we dread. Give to me the words which devour, lay me at the feet of the prophets of poetry, before there is nothing left here to cherish. Nothing in this madness can warm you for good. What does you good will do you in. And they told me not to let this happen. And they showed me the line not meant for crossing. I took it up between my lips to taste the crooked finger of temptation. Trembling. How fearful. How ecstatic. How dangerous this shadowed fire, burning on thin ice.
Afraid of becoming invisible to myself, I hide away and write some words which contain small flecks of what I have seen. Writing is what makes me who I am which is terrifying but some of us were born with words for lungs and stories for breath and there’s really not much else we can do but shut the door and bleed. Much of it is junk and thus the self loathing begins but once in a while I catch the tail of something worthwhile even as it’s trying to escape me. I hold tight. There is uncertainty as often as there is distraction, such is the way of shifty things you can’t predict. The hallways of my mind lead to dark places where my dreams come alive, where I can watch you from a distance as you flash like headlights across an empty wall. I dance for you. I shed my human skin and move like an angel to heavenly hymns until you can no longer contain your desire. Taking me as your own, the heat in your hardness leaves no more questions. When you’ve had your way with my body, my mouth, my sex, we smoke cigarettes and retreat into perfect silence. There is something mad about you. The way you know just when to speak and when there is more to be said by not saying anything. You are a mystery as shady as any of the ones I map within my bones. Holding hands, we take to the streets, heels clicking as we suck in the balmy night air. Downtown the electric city is a carnival of colored lights and music, voices and laughter sifting out from a lengthy row of outdoor bars. Nights like this are a show, time blurs, fades, disappears. I watch as a beautiful slender girl with rich soft breasts leans into her girlfriend for a kiss, waiting for drinks they tongue and tease each other shamelessly and I am transfixed. Young bodies like supple flowers, wilting and blossoming in pink neon light. Imagining a scene where you are laid down in a forest as several thirsty nymphs surround you and take you to the edge again and again, my mind swells with a buzzing desire for intimate things. I know you see through me. I know that one look in my eyes will tell you all the secrets I try to hide and you will string them out in front of me one at a time. You want my stories, naked, raw, and dripping. When I beg for mercy you don’t for one second let up. The moon is red tonight, the clouds sheer swaths of black as they cover and expose her.
The morning sky is surreal, virgin blue linen draped in dark lavender clouds of a strange heavy elegance underneath a full white moon, hovering just out over the horizon of gray stick figure trees. It is too warm for winter, the squirrels and birds chirping and running all about as if nature is unsure of herself but plays among the earthy sights and smells of the pale pink dawn in any case. There is a softness inside of me I’ve long been afraid to touch. Life has been brutal and beautiful and I’ve seen so much I wish I could forget but that is the stuff of nonsense, you have to take what comes and swallow some things down hard. I don’t say that to elicit pity but I do say it because it is true that I do not often offer myself much compassion or room to grow, I am tender with affection for dangerous things. I am blind, I am naive with no excuse to be. I tend to think or feel that I should always be a good deal further ahead than I am even though ‘ahead’ is an immeasurable illusion. And I know it. All the broken hearts, broken by me, with my own complicit, reckless hands. As I pleasure you I crawl inside and tear your heart out in tiny small bites so even the pain feels like little pangs of ecstasy. I make you tremble, I make you crawl, I make you say my name. I don’t want skin, baby, I want blood. Poets are the death of me, their succulent words in my throat like poison nectar, I lap it up sweet, lethal. My own poetry has splayed me and buried me countless times. I possess an insatiable desire to speak of beauty, to worship at her altar, though she cuts me deep. Though she breaks me I only return for more. I am sacrament and sacrifice. I wish I could tell you a story about me that were true but the truth gets in the way of what I want to say. I don’t fit into the designs of this world. I don’t see things the way the others do and I cannot believe in the things they believe. Mostly I keep that to myself. Mostly I smile and you would never know. All the bitter cold, I see it. I taste it, drink of it, I let it seep into my aching bones and pretend I am made of ice. It’s like how they say that nothing is urgent if everything is. Nothing can hurt me, maybe, if everything does.
I pull on little black lace panties because I’ve decided it’s a night for stirring up trouble and as you watch me trying to select a dress from your position on the bed, you light a cigarette and adjust the growing discomfort between your legs. I tell you not to watch but you don’t listen to my protest nor do I expect you to because we both know I like how it feels to be swallowed in by your eyes, inch by inch. I step into heels as I lean into the closet, certain the outfit I crave is in there somewhere just out of reach. Lately I’ve been scattered. Some kind of eerie vibe in the start of this new decade is messing with my head and I’ve been over thinking even the smallest details, while totally spacing out about the simplest of activities. Just this morning I threw my car keys in the trash before realizing there’s no way to start a car with a crumpled wad of paper recyclables. There is a war out there looming on the nuclear horizon and there is a war inside me between who I was and who I would like to become before we’re all blown to charred bits, and even standing in my over-stuffed closet in the nearly nude isn’t enough to stop my palms from sweating over all of it. But then I hear the growl in your gorgeous voice.
Obedient and curious, I straighten myself up and turn slowly to find you unzipped and stroking your thick self. I raise an eyebrow and stay right where I am, widening my stance. These heels make my legs go on for days and the sight of your throbbing pleasure as you look at me makes my nipples hard as diamonds.
I part my cherry lips, suck in a quick gasp of smoke tinged air, and walk to the edge of the bed next to you as my mind begins to soften into a beautiful buzzing haze. Placing your cigarette into my mouth, you tell me to ‘suck’ and I inhale a nice deep drag. God that tastes so good. And I know it’s bad but maybe so am I and that’s just the way things go. As you place your firm palm upon my sex, I know you feel my arousal hot and damp through thin lace.
‘Finish the cigarette and then that pretty mouth is mine, angel.’
You brush the lace aside and with three fingers you press and stroke the sweet blossoming between my naked thighs as you continue to stroke yourself. Crushing out my smoke, I take a swallow from your whiskey neat and finally my mind is somewhere delicious, somewhere sighing safely inside of your instructive power. Pinning both of my hands behind my back with one of yours, you look me in the eyes, fires of aching desire burning fervently there between us. My adoration is so full inside my chest I can feel tears welling in my eyes. Just to please you, to bring you release is my release from this cruel world. How you capture me, unlock me, restrain, and free me.
‘Why don’t you settle down upon those trembling knees and show me what that sexy mouth is for.’
Fuck. Definitely trouble.
The moon is one dead white eye, shining full in rocky light. In dreams, he strips me naked while telling me fairy tales about enchanted forests and animals who stalk and kill but just for food not for random cruelty. Only humans do that, so instead of dwelling on it we go down by a lake of swans, tease each other into a frenzy and make sweet love until the sky disappears and we become the air which vanishes after caressing the cold light of each forgotten star. All those glittering diamonds, all that generously scattered space which expands and expands and never stops for all eternity. Makes me feel both tremendous awe and completely insignificant at the same time. I respect the universe even as it shreds my nerves and causes me to panic. As I put pen to paper to document a series of disturbing dreams about my skin sewn in places too tight and a man staring at me on a train I am taking to a city whose name I can’t seem to make out on the ticket because my eyes won’t focus, the story of an alternate life begins to emerge. We run across a warehouse rooftop and tumble so close to the edge it makes my heart slam in my chest and tempts me to see if I can fly. Grabbing onto the belt loop in the back of my jeans, he pulls me in and pins me underneath him while letting my head spill backwards over the edge of the building. Observing my exposed neck as my hair whips and blows and turns all colors of the midnight wind, he places a strong hand behind me and to my surprise asks me how my writing is going. Blinking with shock and something that feels like affectionate gratitude for his benevolent attention, I tell him it’s a maddening goddamn torture but I will never stop as long as I live, which if we’re not careful could only be another minute and a half. Suddenly realizing, as one inexplicably does, that I am in a dream inside a dream and he’s about to evaporate, I quickly sketch a mental image of this man into the soft folds of my memory. He is a shadow I want to swim inside, he is a stranger I want to hold my hand. He is a messenger, perhaps, or an omen. He grips me tight without a sound and then fades to black. I wake to the darkness of morning, pull on a knit hat against the cold, pour coffee and open my laptop. The full moon is a single yellow eye sliding down behind an electric wire. We watch each other closely, until she finally slips out of sight.