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.
Please turn down the daylight, please shut out the noise streaming through the blinds. A single lonely jet rolls by overhead in the sky which is obscured by heavy clouds, I hear it rumbling the glass of the window pane as I sit motionless. As the world stands still amid the tumult of crisis with voices mingled in between hospital beds. And all of its lonely people sit motionless. Few things are more sinister than an entire population sunk in their sinking seats. Mouths pursed. Wide eyes protruding into a blackness which has no end, no beginning, no intent. It is a silence veiled over a scream which is featureless. My mother used to tell me I was boy crazy. My mother used to tell me I was rude. My mother did not like that I was shy. Or pretty. But secretly she did. I found out later, much later toward the end. That for her I was a beginning of something she never got to finish, she never got control over. Grabbing my keys from the bowl on the side table, I’ve no where to go and finally everything is in its place. For a long time now, maybe, set in its place, as the dust sifts in through stripes of evening light. I watch my reflection, decide it is the age of the woman and I will be everything a woman needs. Soft. Supple. Willing. Are you afraid and looking for something to do with your trembling hands? Give them to me now. Feel the warmth of the beating of my chest. This is what we have in the darkness of days which have lodged themselves in time like logs in a dam in a river. What we have in the hallways of the minds we sit reverently trying our best not to take leave of. I curl my body behind a curtain like a snake. There is a small corner of the room where I hide when I cannot stomach the day. There is the smell of old coffee in semi cold rings, the hope of a tiny flowering seed. I keep track of the minutes as they tick around the face of the clock. I think of the man who liked to watch young girls at recess. I am reminded of the temptation I once was. And something inside me begins to ache.
Crawling out of bed and into the light of the soft pale moon, I sit at my open window gazing up at a gray swatch of clouds moving past. The truth about me lives somewhere deep inside but all my life I’ve had to try very hard to get to it. You might think as a writer it would come easily to me but it doesn’t. I circle too much and never seem to land. Hovering above the world as if on a string, I observe the madness down below and lose my sense of self, which is disorienting because your sense of self is all you ever really have in any given moment. Thinking of you while smoking a cigarette, I tap the ashes into a small flat tin on which is painted some sort of an exotic bird, blue, purple, and golden feathers draped long and elegant over the branch of a pink flowering tree. There is dirt in the beautiful and magic in the filth and no one showed me the splendor of that sultry paradox more vividly than you once did. In your hands I became the muse, in your gaze I became the apex of all creation. You had a way which was sinister, devastating, alluring in its dark command. You could reduce me and raise me up in the same heartbeat as you took me to the edges of my very being, pushed me just to watch me fall. Cut me just to admire my pieces, one by one fondled my vulnerabilities under dim shadowy light. How I worshiped the devil in you, how the smell of you ruptured me sweet. But even in bad dreams the clock strikes twelve. My richness turns to rags and the empty streets begin to twinkle in the gray morning silence. In every lover a tsunami swells. People change and bodies disintegrate. The way of rebirth is the way of destruction and history is bound to repeat itself even despite our best intentions.
Never enough time to do what you want, you trade a flashy smile for a few moments to yourself in peace. Is it you or is it them or is it the encroaching of everything that has you short of patience with the mundane? You know the stares and the blankness which surrounds you so well you can see it with your eyes closed. It curls around you as you sleep. You feel it in the backdrop of the dreams you once had which you let fall away like tissue paper snowflakes disappear on the warm cheek of a woman you once knew to whom you no longer speak. All of those wishes for grandness, for a way to touch the sky and dance along the edges of a drunken starry night. The way your hands slid easily up her shirt and encircled her perfect milky breasts as she straddled you in the backseat of your beat up old hatchback, Radiohead, vodka, cigarettes. One at a time your tongue thick upon each nipple, your teeth sunk deep into her cinnamon flesh until you felt her pulse quicken as she sucks at the empty air for breath. You with your angry bloodshot eyes and she with the tight body ticking like a clock. With every thrust you make her count backwards from the end of innocence. Now there is no time like the present and there’s so little hope for a future as the world drapes a noose around itself while humming holiday classics. Sinatra, martinis, pantyhose, mobsters, excess. And for all the elegance she displays somewhere out there where you’re not allowed to be, you can still feel her trembling skin underneath your fingernails, taste the sweetness of her heavenly folds as she lay open, blossoming before you, begging for you to stop. Not to stop. The mind is a dangerous place without escape, your addictions spread inside your bones like wildfire. And as you walk along the streets the swollen winter sky turns from white to gray to black. The traffic lights blinking are signals you’re sending to your own tired heart. Walk. Don’t walk. Yes, no, maybe, try again later. Go, baby, go, and don’t you ever, ever look back.
If you had one hour what would you give to it? If you had only one day where would you live in it? The sky is underground today. My sighs are long and low and grieving. It is a regular day in an erratic time where we seek solace in other people we cannot touch. I touch the light as it suffuses through my window. I wear a sundress in the middle of winter. I touch my own hands with the colors fading in and out of the dreams I’m escaping to. I once knew a man who told me I tasted like poetry, pressed my long hair back behind my neck. I looked at him with hope filled eyes, told him I know I don’t belong here as the tears came flooding through like knives. If you found an hour falling like rain, would you open your mouth and drink of it. Would you like to watch me dance, would you like to know if I can still laugh after all this is over. I would like to know one thing: what are you reading. What are you doing behind that door, behind those eyes which gaze out across an empty landscape. In the story of my life I weave moments together and then pull them apart. I look myself over in the mirror. Place my necklace on the dresser. Wait for answers to invisible questions. I am afraid to move. I am afraid I will burn. I am frightened of the things I need. To say. To need. Across the globe, they climb into their beds. The stars blink anonymous overhead. I could write for you, would that change anything? I could read for you, would that make it easier to breathe? If I had an hour what would I give to it. If I could only say the words. If not poetry, what else is there to be.
As the rain comes down angry and hard against my window, I curl deeper into my cocoon of warm blankets and pillows while attempting to thread through the million thoughts gripping my insides at once. In between the rooftops scattered with pigeons shuffling for space among their dirty huddle, the sharp point of a church steeple pierces a dark low hanging cloud, as if probing it to unload its heaviness onto the sleepy streets below. Behind the weather, morning creeps, slowly turning the driving rain into a thinning drizzle, the crystal droplets intermingling with the wafting white smoke coming from multiple chimneys across the way. The sky is charcoal gray, back lit with an eerie yellow light which makes the atmosphere feel unpredictable, unfriendly. Full of voices struggling to be heard. They are as sinister as they are honest. In every swaying branch there twists a ghost come alive from my haunted past, still shallow breathing, still waiting to take my hand, to grip my throat. Last I saw you I had been impossible and knew it. Sometimes I can’t help the way I shut down like a vault, trapping all of my feelings inside. For someone so blindly obsessed with words, my tight lipped demeanor doesn’t make any sense to you. You are pissed, certain I’m withholding on purpose, locking you on the outside while I am conniving on the inside, but your anger only fuels my refusal and the air between us becomes a fuse. Love is a ticking time bomb, love is a train gone off its slippery rails. When it all feels helpless, useless, desperate, there are no guidelines, no rule books, no referees. And if there is one thing a human being is good at it’s being stubborn, I’m no different and neither are you. As I sit in clipped silence, my mind flashes back to that night in your apartment, as you poured our drinks I sat comfortably in a bra and leggings on the edge of your couch near the mirror, lining my eyes in onyx liquid ink. As I traced my blue eyes until they were black as midnight I sipped on gin and tonic while imagining us naked, our bodies entwined in positions I’d only heard about but had yet to explore. Back then everything was so loud. The drinking, the music, the anger, the passion, the sex that shook the walls and split us both in two over and over again. I wonder when you look at me can you see it in my eyes. That freedom is just as hard for me as captivity, and in some ways just as sweet. That all my life I’ve been hunted. That even on a cold wet morning which threatens a snowfall that will have us stuck inside for days, my heart still burns with the fire of a young girl who knew what she wanted as soon as she saw it and took it without asking a single soul for permission. I hold on and I hold back. I want to be consecrated and I want to be shattered into a million pieces, thrown out into a wild winter sky. Lost and found and missed and deserted. Words can heal, words can obliterate. Please be patient. Please don’t go. I am a chapel as much as I am a cave, and what I explore in the darkness is the only light I ever learned to trust.
These strange days crawl into the palm of your hand like little wild animals hoping to be tamed. I can’t get your voice out of my head and it’s making it hard to breathe. What was it you said to me that split my heart in two? Something about love, something about forever. The taste of it is still stuck between my teeth. As I sit on the steps in front of an old church, I watch the people shuffling by with dreams in their pockets, echoes of lifetimes crowding at the heels of their tired feet. If I don’t write I can’t think and I don’t know what I think if there are no words on the paper in front of me, it is a lonely feeling, well, lonely and not lonely. I think it was Audrey Hepburn who said, I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone. That’s about right. My head hurts and my vision is pained. Too much light, too much wine, too much darkness coursing through my veins. How much money do you have to throw at the problem to make the world stop spinning. How many boys do you have to kiss before you turn into something you think they might want. We turn ourselves inside out. We turn the pleasure into pain and the pain into an excuse not to explain why we do the stupid things we do. If I don’t write I can’t see. If I don’t write I can’t get out of my own way. But it’s you tying my hands behind my back. It’s you piercing roses against my wrist with a look in your eye like you need me so badly you can taste the tears inside my mind. It’s you lodged in the back of my throat. Tell me, sweetness, tell me so deep. When is forever and if it’s forever is that all you need.