Somewhere across town, the lights go out in a room where secrets are written upon the walls in closets lined with cardigans, hung with skeletons like drapes. A slim bottle of vodka cradled in a pair of brand new Nikes.
False gods are false starts. How clever to seek the end from the outset.
Self-care. Self-reflection. Self-sabotage.
She sinks her teeth in.
Shadows blossom, wither, and fall, well before the stars peer listless into dawn.
At the back of the minds of the people who used to know better but seem now to have all but lost their way, the screaming has stopped and the silence moves its black eyes through the cracks in the fencing.
A house built to crumble into the crooked hands of non-linear fate.
There is wet sand in the shoes set out to dry in the hallway. One hundred miles tread lightly in the dead heat of a summer’s night. I have seen her body move like the ocean. I have seen her, she glows in the dark.
Never judge another until you’ve worn the soul right thin.
They will not tell you about the danger because you have kept the press of the winds against the cliffs inside of you still. They cannot tell you anything when the blood is a red rushing river in the blurred ears of your veins.
Come, see. A sin is an injury. It is an angel’s hairline fracture along the broken limb of grace. A rupture; a break in the relationship you had with the person you thought yourself to be but never quite could hold on to long enough to make it to the other side.
I can see you through the waves of heat, swerving like a highway drunk. I will burn every bridge down to its terrible bones. Swallow the match myself and walk away.
The sand on the beach is cool and smooth as it is gently washed out to sea beneath a ghostly moon. Hushed, the shell of a man in his hollow heart. Jaw set. Hell bent. Listening.
There’s the one where I miss the plane and panic, and then there’s the one where I miss it on purpose and laugh all the way to a sexy little wine bar where I kiss a stranger dead on the mouth.
The latest one seems to be that for the life of me I cannot get a flight out of Italy. No clue how I got there in the first place but I’m desperate to get out because, for some strange reason, everywhere I go I’m so tall that I tower over everybody else and on top of that I’m wearing sky high heels which get caught in gutters and cobblestones and make it nearly impossible to walk without stumbling.
I don’t know why I decide that if I could just get out of Italy this freak phenomenon would correct itself. Ridiculous and also quite maddening. as most ridiculous situations tend to ultimately be. I cannot remove the shoes. My lipstick is fierce tomato red. I don’t know how I know this without looking. But I do.
Sleep comes a little easier these days and I’m so grateful for it. It’s that gorgeous time of year when you can sleep with the windows open because the temperatures at night are in the low 60’s and the air is crisp with a touch of smoke from fires always smoldering off in the distance no matter the hour. I fill the house with apple cider scents and pumpkin spice candles. Everything is burnt yellows, rich blood-oranges, and sumptuous crimsons.
We light fires in the evening, play music for each other as the suns sinks out of sight and the sky turns electric fuchsia for a few minutes before easing into soft plums, then finally into the heavy dark blue vastness of star studded twilight. In the back of my mind, I wonder what all of it means and what will come next. I worry about the stupid things like everybody else – money and future and whether or not any of my choices have been the right ones all along.
But the trick is defining right and wrong when you feel like the compass inside of you is less and less synced with the compass of the people around you. You know you exist within society, that you have a voice and all that, and some may even try to convince you it matters, yet all the while it feels like you don’t quite fit the mold they were hoping you might so to voice your voice seems a mute point.
You consider chopping your hair off. You consider torching all of your clothes and starting from scratch with your wardrobe and diet and aesthetic overall. More gleam and less uncertainty. More ink and less conformity.
You forget not only what day it is but what month in what year. This occurs more regularly than not. You zone out in meetings and choke on the coffee which is as sickly stale as the gray-beige walls and industrial carpeting beneath your feet.
Time, which used to stretch out endlessly in front of you, suddenly seems threatening to telescope back in on itself, landing you right back at the start of something you struggle to remember, let alone define, all progress in any direction be damned. There is an eerie immediacy to absolutely everything, out of the blue, and you just didn’t feel ready for this kind of thing to settle in on you like a constant buzzing sensation clutching underneath your skin.
We all have our troubles, of course, and no one is perfect least of all the ones who try so desperately to fuck around with perfection. We all have our demons and we all have our fears. Perhaps there’s some kind of comfort in that, slim as it may be.
A few seconds after I inhale, the sacred smoke blossoms in my lungs like a fragrant earthy flower. I stare into the fire which is now roaring in a heavy blaze at my feet, as a tiny little spider, swift and black as death, crawls right into the raging flames.
Here you are with a thousand questions for me and I don’t have a single answer for you. The thing is, if I had answers I would never write a goddamn thing. Writing is a search not a destination. You write one thing and the only thing it solves is nothing and the only thing it starts is the next impossible question.
I know this exhausts you and I can feel your eyes roll from all the way across the room with my back turned but how the fuck do you think I feel? Me, the actual obsessive, who is mired in the words in the head and the words on the page and the words on the screen all day long.
I follow a thin red thread of ideas like a cat. A soft red thread I will never ever reach but oh how it taunts me, fills my svelte little body with the searing chemical fire of chase.
The unresolved is what drives me. The unresolved is the only thing that feels real because it seeks me out like a finely set trap. A question is a plaything. A dare. An invitation. Always moving toward you and away.
You pour me a drink in one of those thick chunky glasses I like to sip from because it makes me feel like a big strong man which causes me to smile to myself and spread my legs too wide. Which is absurd of course, as if an inanimate object could turn a person into someone they are not but what can I say, sometimes I think the props help. Life is but a stage and you and I are stuck improvising our parts.
Could you imagine if I had the unchecked power in this bullshit world the way a fucking man does? I shudder at the thought and if you really knew me you probably would, too.
As the whiskey begins its warming of my tired body and aching soul, I step out into the cool of night. The sweet beautiful darkness of an eternal kind of seeking envelops me like a familiar blanket of sparkling celestial adventure.
How many I have loved and lost, known and disregarded. And as much as I want to romanticize the timid battered hearts of humanity, in the depths of everything I am, I know I’ll only ever wander the halls of these mysteries which swirl inside me alone.
All day, tiny bits of light appear like puzzle pieces I didn’t know I was searching for until they reveal themselves one by one in whispers of otherworldly voices. Don’t waste your time here, angel. It is but a passing train in the night through your heart in its melancholy solitude.
Reach out and touch. Reach in and slide all the way down into that place where you began in the beginning. I wanted to write a beautiful thing. I wanted to hold you so close you forget that you spent a lifetime pushing me away. I can’t be entertaining, I’m too tired from the length of the day as it stretched me all the way out inside.
Parts of my body still ache with thoughts of all the things we’ve done to each other. The amount of devotion drenches, drowns the imagination, takes the breath and suspends it out over the twilight of eternity.
Maybe they want me to call it love and I do. I do. Of course I do. But the thing is, when I say love I mean it as a kind of relationship. Not ‘The kind’ of relationship. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t always nice or even kind. We try to be but we get in our own way, the way of ourselves and the way of each other.
People change. People need. People hide and seek and tell most of the truth, but not all of it. Not all of the time. They will tell you that’s out of cruelty but that’s not entirely true.
There are promises of adoration and the way time can keep the versions of yourself from recognizing each other. Second thoughts on arguments and second thoughts on togetherness. Panic at the idea of separation and then panic over why that scares you so.
But no one ever speaks about the silence.
It is easier to disregard the sadness so it only rains on the other side of town.
It is negotiation. It is amalgamation. It is a crackling fireside and a bargaining tool.
When the evening rolls in like a back lit summer scene all over the neighborhood, I watch as the dwindling rays of sunshine comb their beams through the low limbs of trees. In my mind are the quiet thoughts of a contemplative soul. Feeling somber and curled up in bed. Feeling thousands of light years from home.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. You with the good hair and the dark evening eyes. You with the tiny butterflies fluttering around in your stomach and the knots collecting in your throat.
I can see how fragile you are. I can feel it when I place my hands on you. I catch its scent when you stay perfectly still.
I can sense, too, the infinite strength of your potential. The hardness of bone and the heat of your fixation. I like your hunger. I contemplate it. I fantasize about its release. I can taste it when you are close to me. Soft, yielding, honeyed.
Don’t look out at them. They cannot see as I do. The visions I have of you unfolding endlessly across a midnight sky. Stars and satellites blinking in the blackness of your velvet mind. Tell me what you see out there in the vastness of empty silent space.
What is it like to feel the first brush of magnificent wind beneath your brand new wings.
What would you offer me in return for the rush of freedom from all the torments you keep inside. To lay that heavy armor down for just a little while. To spread yourself wide open and fear no pain. To recoil from nothing. Reach out and grasp the things you want. Place all of your trust into my sensitive waiting hands.
This world is a menacing place for creatures like us, sweet thing. We have been forced against our own design for centuries. Dragged across the grates of the punishments we never once deserved. It has been an agony we quietly keep locked away. A burden we bear alone in chambers of the heart we lack the words and permission to reveal.
You close your eyes when I kiss your mouth. You moan from the depths of your soul when I encircle your neck. And I can feel the way you need it like a thin moth seeks red thick flame. It has been a lifetime of longing and loss. Bruised knees, bloody gums, tear-scorched skin.
A never ending search.
And I can’t save you, angel. I’m shattered glass just like you, beautiful and true.
I cannot fix the broken things. Cannot stop the storms from crashing in.
But I know the shape of each cut and the sharp angle of everything they ever threw at you to keep you trembling. I know the map of pleasure and the coordinates of desire’s peak. I will take you far from harm. Be your warmth and keep you safe. Give you everything I am and everything I have to finally soothe the ache.
He doesn’t want to be cured because it is his firm belief that the most intriguing part of his whole existence is the disease he wears like a badge of honor. I don’t know if I believe in him or not no matter how real he is towering over me with his big strong arms and flashy white teeth. There are sharks in the water and the water is choppy, dark, and deep. When his mouth is on me it’s too late to run. Much too hot to tear myself away from whatever this is which immobilizes me so entirely. As the minutes slide into oblivion and his hands drag soft delicious circles over my sex, the lines between now and then blur into a place where the only thing that matters is the way we melt together. I’m not really one for romance although I guess I wish I was. Seduction. Lust. Sex. These are languages I understand. I seek out. I’m hardly sentimental if that even means what I think it does, but I fan the flames of passion and desire within. They feel like the closest thing to life itself I’ve ever found although I couldn’t say why. Why does anyone worship anything at all unless it awakens the very essence of the soul. What is the soul if not the ancient, perpetual timelessness of longing which stirs in the blood and motivates one’s most intimate, private, heated yearnings. Perhaps we romanticize the things we shouldn’t and vulgarize the things we needn’t. Dostoevsky says if God does not exist then everything is permissible. What if God does exist but she’s villainous. Willing to burn the world to ash just to feel the rush. We are such fools spinning around in our own little orbits passing each other only briefly, paying so little attention to any of the miracle of being here at all. And so dick pics and sexting and the panic of that, and wine in coffee mugs, lip injections, influencers and all the rest of the merry go round circus. People are lonely out there. Lonelier than ever before in all of human history. And as much as I worship at the altar of carnal desire, I’m not so sure the sick want healing or that the healing will have to take place anywhere else but the mind.
Little pixels of light move in and surround me as the morning begins its flirting with my sleepy eyes. In my dreams, we were on a roller coaster only we didn’t mean to be, we just sort of found ourselves sitting side by side in a tiny box of a wooden seat, clutching the bar in front of us as the rickety thing climbed ever higher and higher into the sky. First we laughed and then we screamed as our frightened insides fell up into the heavens and then soared right back down again, leaving us giggling like children, breathing heavy as our heads went light as feathers.
It is incredible how much of life remains unpredictable and yet so many will try to convince you they have the answers to just about everything under the sun. They will tell you what happiness is and how to get it, what it should look like. They can tell you its ingredients as though one plus one in this mad world of endlessly random tastes and attractions equals a solid two.
But if you listen closely, which you’d not be blamed for not doing to be honest, you will hear what is missing is their ability to describe the way true happiness actually feels. What they are really after is love, or at least affection, but they won’t ever say that because love scares the daylights out of most people and rightly so. Attention is hard to come by these days and you can’t get anywhere in love without attention.
Perhaps this is why I melt a little bit when he surprises me by finding an old establishment which serves peach infused bourbon way out past the rolling farmland, high in the hills of a run down far away town. I’ve been craving peaches for days for some reason. And suddenly here we sit, sipping on this divine nectar in the middle of a late summer afternoon with his fingers tracing the soft curve of my bare knee. As though the trick to love or affection or happiness is nothing tricky at all.
They talk and you try to listen but it’s hard when your heart is so heavy in your chest. As things go, you are fine by all outward standards and tell people you are fine all the time. You hold it together and hold it in. The sins you commit in your mind are locked away, sealed up nice and tight. In the shadows which stroke you beneath your skin, there are the bad things you don’t want to admit you want and these thoughts begin to stir inside of you out of nowhere in the center of the sunny days you spend with him by the lake. It only takes a split second for your world to go black, your palms to itch, the dizziness to send you spinning like a top. You know your triggers. You keep them a secret because the secret is you seek them out on purpose.
The whiskey helps and doesn’t help but it goes down your sweet little throat like a perfect flame. Like a tortured season made for ritual burnings. The highs aren’t nearly high enough anymore and you know the danger of that. You know you know better but so few promises have ever come true for you either way. There was the guy at the bar who looked you up and down like you were an animal and the way the feeling of his eyes on you melted hot between your thighs. You want what you are most afraid of and there is no way of explaining that, not even to yourself. When he spreads his thick fingers through your soft hair, you moan against the way he presses all the way into your mouth.
When the sun is too bright and the cruelty in the eyes of those all around you tears tiny cuts all across your skin, you imagine what it would feel like to just give in. Let it all go. Set the wilderness that screams inside of you free and take the punishment like it’s a precious gift. Ecstasy and dread and the way they sear into one another until you can’t separate them no matter how hard you try.
You weren’t always like this. You don’t think so, but it’s tough to remember the past when you spend so much time slicing it up and burying it in places you hope you won’t ever find. You weren’t always the one with the sad saucer eyes or the timid smile. There just doesn’t seem to be any reason for the madness of the world or the insanity of its harsh judgment of a girl like you. You have become the thing they warned you about becoming. And as night readies itself to swallow you up into the haunted halls of quiet dreams, something in you whispers in your soul like a stiff wind through naked trees. Tells you the truth is that you have been this wicked all along. It touches you all over. Grins and bares its teeth.
Just behind the hypnotic coil of her copper colored eyes, there is a door which opens into a secret universe, a garden plush with wet roses and thick undergrowth, studded with all of the stars which fell like hot amber rains long ago and then disappeared.
There is a plane on which she does not exist and neither do you, yet somehow you sense each other there in that place that is not a place at all but rather a feeling. An energy that can only come to be born out of the clutch of tension which is a promise unfulfilled. The friction of a searing desire unattained against the prison cell of your own yearning body.
Passion is your beating heart in the hands of a ghost.
It is the exquisite punishing weight of a weightless thing.
A song you carry inside of a cage in your chest like the call of the emptiness of a deserted street at midnight. The romance of the echo of the footsteps of a stranger beneath yellow lamplight. Cloaked and mysterious. Faceless.
Once back in college, I wrote a poem as part of a creative writing program and the professor made me read it out loud to the entire class. It was titled Lady at Midnight and was an intimate description of a beautiful young woman in a gorgeous red ballgown – she was in a courtyard by a fountain, then up in a hollow bell tower by the time the poem ended. I don’t remember why. It had a distinctly medieval moody feel.
I cannot remember any of the words but I know I flushed crimson having to read it to a bunch of eighteen year old college freshman who were not poetry enthusiasts by any stretch of the imagination but mostly business majors just trying to check the box and get the English requirement over with so they could move on to whatever the fuck else business majors do.
I had been writing poetry all my young life until then, but around that time my poetry took on a decidedly sexual nature. I hadn’t mastered it yet but I was committed to it with everything that I was. There was no other expression of myself so perfectly me as when I was alone writing a sensual poem.
It fit like my feminine hand in a fine leather glove.
None of the words of that poem about the beautiful lady in her state of heightened arousal described sex specifically but the entire poem blossomed with dark sensuality, it swelled with longing and the haunt of the anticipation of something I don’t know how I described back then but I remember exactly how it felt.
Just writing about it now, I am eighteen again, palms sweating, heart racing, penning that subtly (mmm… perhaps not so subtly) erotic poem I can no longer recall verbatim. I wish I still had it in my possession. I suppose in all the ways that matters most, I still do.
Poems are not words, you see what I mean, they are creatures. They are beings. They exist behind the eyes of the mind of the universe which is too gloriously massive to even fathom, to ever fully comprehend. That is the joy of it, the dare of it. The ultimate impossibility.
Poems are excruciatingly beautiful even when they are about terrible things.
When they are about delicious things… fuck… they are annihilation.
They kill you clean and proper and then put their mouth on your mouth, their breath on your breath, their hands on your ribs, and tempt you to find the words to describe them if you can possibly think straight enough to do it.
That’s the thing about poetry. You have to throw away all the words.
You throw everything out first and claw your way into the body of the feeling.
Inhabit it, become it entirely, from head to toe. Hand your body and soul over to it and let it do what it needs to do with you. Let it tell you its secrets through forbidden sensations in your own being, skin, bone, blood, sweat. Until it seeps through your tongue and pulses in your sex and courses through your every nerve ending. Be patient. Let it come.
If you are afraid of feeling, if you resist the raw, primal, frightening, wild nature of the words, you will never get anywhere worth going with poetry. You have to want it, trust it, taste it. You must embody it from the inside out. Beg it to destroy you so that it can raise you up.
I can’t help but smile wondering where those young business majors are now. If they still make fun of poetry because it scares them to death.
When he lights my cigarette I can see the world spinning away from us in a fiery flash right in front of my face. For some time now, I have had this feeling in my bones like I want to break free but the trouble is I can never seem to pin point what from. That part matters but people don’t ever seem to think about it. They go on and on about freedom but they don’t have a clue what’s got them trapped to begin with let alone why they want it that way.
The corner of his pretty mouth curls in half a smirk when he tells me I think too much and I let his arrogance fall to the pavement with the ash of my smoke because there is no response to that, or at least none which can be of any use. There are parts of my soul which will always be restless and though that may sound sad to some, it’s a comfort to me because I like the way it flutters and beats in my chest, like the melancholy echo of an ancient secret which will stand the test of eternity and yet is mine and mine alone.
There is a deadness in his eyes which cuts ice through my veins. Life has destroyed something in him which he doesn’t seem to want back and I can’t decide if I need or don’t need him to resurrect. If I look too closely, I am afraid I will find out his emptiness is merely a reflection of my own, so I turn away and draw my gaze across the fog which rolls out thick as a wall of stone, hovering just above the choppy waters of the swollen river.
Leaning over the cold steel railing, I take a long drag and imagine disappearing into the white clouded remains of the somber early morning. I want to be larger than this life of listless indifference others seem content to be threaded into. The weather turned suddenly cool overnight when the storm slammed through. There is a spiced scent in the air, a promise of things to come but no promise that we will have any idea what to do with them.
He faces away from me, sips his coffee and talks about something I do not pretend to hear.