His fingers sunk pale hooks
upon the alabaster jaw:
study me with those wet eyes, angel.
Be still and I will teach you
all that cruel body aches
His fingers sunk pale hooks
upon the alabaster jaw:
study me with those wet eyes, angel.
Be still and I will teach you
all that cruel body aches
I know you are not listening.
I know there is a voice which speaks to you
and you hold its neck beneath the
choke the truth
that’s choking you.
You are silent, thrumming in stoic madness
to keep it hush.
It is silent
but the truth is a disease with no breath
carried along on the scarred back of eternal breeding.
It has no heart for beating
or not beating,
shadowboxing with the pulse of
a faceless time of day,
swing and a miss
and miss, miss, miss.
What you fight is what is biting
you, the Mistress and her missing fingers and
her broken window teeth.
She is there despite you
in you because of what you are
and the howl in your stomach is filling
itself as you swallow its tongue
cursed hunger without permission
filling itself with rage.
Tell me about the dance. How you have drawn chalk lines on the floors but all they ever did was spin in circles and trample one another’s feet. Spread your hands all over me and let me feel the chill of the voices. How has it been to see in the clouds what has become of the poets, the way people panic now behind a cross of stones. Ever since your song has been laid to rest they all pretend they have forgotten how to sing. Perhaps it makes it easier to imagine you are not here.
But I still sing as I tap sticks along the fences in my mind (funny how darkness looks in upon itself and names it ‘other’). The quiet of some days is just too much.
Your legs above the earth are as strange as your heart sunk below. Do the hills rise into the sky for you? If you can find the secrets in your wounds to open up to me, I will tell them everything you need them to know. This splintered curtain of spectacular glass across your face still cuts me. Why is it I cannot stop peeling my own when I think of you? I had almost forgotten the way the sunlight fades through in diamond-shaped slivers. When you speak I still listen for you, I’m sure it’s then you deepen the rasp in your voice. I would have done anything for the way you wore that sound.
Your ebony rose gardens have overgrown my ivory body. I suck on the rustblood of their succulent thorns, their petals crush as softly as summer midnight lakes filling the holes in my sadness. Everything about you was soil they neglected. Everything you left was torment I can’t believe they buried.
I do not sleep but have been forced to wander dreams. We meet; we separate.
They could not understand you, that is what I understood about you most. You, the angel in my murderous hour, remind me what love with iron claws is like on fire flaring up inside my wrists. Speak for me the terrors they tear open the ground to exhume. It has been so long since this kind of glow remembered a creature as faint as me. When I think of the dance I think of us. When I think of the end I pray it traces away the waif I have become.
While they count syllables you have moved on, you begin to dictate the waves along the shore. While they grow tired and I grow distant I sense you at my heels, you at my tableside, you shadow of my shadow, you purgatory’s music of peculiar beat.
They read my words and think they are mine but there is no way that can be true. I don’t think like this. I don’t sound or fit together like this. This is not me, this is me trying to get to me. Can you not see that? That every time I approach the writing the writing throws me up against the concrete. These words do not want to give themselves to me.
This is why I am gentle. This is why I approach with folded hands, skinned knees, hollow bones. What I seek is unhinged around a dark corner which moves away when I get close. I search for cracks in the ceiling skin, faces in the mirror. I count out loud for the way thunder forces open the fists of the rain. I taste the tremble in your fingers as they spill wet heat upon my legs. There is no mystery in doing the work and yet the scratching underneath the surface is everywhere. I once heard a wise man say that a writer just observes what other people don’t take the time to notice. Maybe that is even closer to the truth than we would dare admit.
The way we salivate over satin flesh and annihilation. The way we don’t notice anything anymore. We don’t feel the earth sliding off the edge of the precipice, the fire in the sickness coughing up the back of your throat. The way you turn away from me without moving a muscle as the red evening stiffens in the center of my cemetery chest. We pack our eyes with mud instead of drinking one another.
And so my eyes do their best to become the words you need. I let the secrets in my body scream. Here are the break-away walls of my life, it seems. My small heart beats. My instrument.
There have been chance moments within all of this, moments of madness and grace,
which I fear I will surely forget. But for now I am here with you and the twilight is sliding across your face. For now your eyes holding mine and the way our fingers become whispers become the lengthening of necks become flesh over the fragile bones of dreams come back to life, for now I will feel everything. I will shatter and I will expose and I will untie all the things about myself that I have kept bound in the dark halls of my petrified being for ages. So that when this moment has gone, when it has become part of the next, and these small things become smaller and smaller still as they walk the eternal distance of time, I will have been made into everything I could have become. Because I let it all in and I let it all go and this is the magnificence, and this is the miracle of the blood of the life we are invited to know, when life is allowed to open and to close and to flow.
I am learning to look back and see that every cycle, every phase of the things I have been through, they each needed the space and time and energy they needed. That is simply the truth.
There was nothing I could have rushed through and nothing I could have prevented because I was unfolding in two ways at once: in love and in fear of love. And these two streams were crisscrossing each other all the time exactly as they were set in motion. I made choices, of course, but each was made from that intersection of love and fear of love.
I can see that now, however briefly, however fleeting that clarity may be, I can see my life, my love and fear-of-love story, as whole. As complete in the way it met and did not meet my expectations of myself.
There is a place which is a way, which is a way of thinking about these things without judgment. It’s a center, a balance, we can seek out if we can trust ourselves enough that it exists. This place within is where we cut ourselves free, let ourselves off the hook for whatever we believe the past held for us. What it gave to us and what we gave in return can be what they are.
It is really tough to dwell within that clarity and it moves ever in and out of focus. But through some kind of madness or miracle, it can be done.
Maybe not everyone will like it but I wanted to write a while on sadness. I needed to.
Why? Because this is something we all live with, live within. It’s all around and underneath our fingernails, our tongues. Sadness is upon our shoulders, in the hand of our minds. I want to write from it, I want to become her lips and bones and match my heartbeat to hers.
I want to listen.
The only thing more crushing than sadness is sadness which is lonely.
The warm stained scent of wet city sidewalks and all the ways I struggle to say what I mean. I don’t know anymore if that is voluntary or medicinal but I’m often overwhelmed by the possibility that it might be either. Or both (I know it’s always both).
I flip through vacant magazines and pace the floors barefoot but all I can see are storm clouds closing in on me. The second you walk out the door they move in. What happened to the way you used to make poetry out of flickering skylines? Whatever became of the sun setting behind my tender flesh and how it used to spark the bones we traded. If I had any words left I would give them all to you. I would sit underneath your shadow and pretend to be protected.
Did you ever want to run away with me? Search my eyes for the deep blue rivers of a time you had forgotten but still believe in? You come to me in dreams but so do so many others.
Heavy rain slides down the kitchen window. So many things that happen like lightening seem to last forever. I watch as raindrops make patterns of circular chaos in the cracks on the pavement and I know a journey into me is a journey straight into the center of the earth. I know I am not easy and the pressure gets inside your head. The way you look at me is your gray lungs getting weak.
You are orange slices and sticky fingers, so sweet, so goddamn inconvenient. The way you rip the names off of everything and throw my longing back at me in the words you so carelessly choose. We rehearse the end and then we welcome the mistakes in all over again, lighting cigarettes one after another in the dark for hundreds of thousands of years. Your terrible lips and your beautiful eyes, your pearl teeth in the moonlight glistening. Even through all this blindness I can still hear you smile.
I can still remember how my dimples curled themselves against your swollen need for satisfaction. I cannot find the words to tell you gently that I’m trying so hard not to be gone when I’m with you. So hard that I write about thorns tearing rose petals, that I have often secretly hated myself for being and not being with you.
When I was very small I learned that pink bleeding hearts are flowers, and once they tell you they never tell you again. You kiss the way nothing lasts forever. We make love the way civilization collapses apart without making a dent in the universe.
Do we touch or just open our mouths. And are we talking past each other now.
I remember you, you despite everything else which has faded from my memory. Even when my light is dark and my skin is crumbling graystone, here you are, like the most beautiful shadow falling upon the hills and caverns of my shoulders. I remember we walked, we walked all night to smell the buds of the roses climbing the trees. Observed in quiet stillness the death of a carnival, rusted in the dew of cherry cigarette glow.
Passing by the water, you take hold of my hand and I come alive with ecstatic electricity. Why would you do that (how could you not)? We have belonged among these shared ruins for quite some time, where even the darkest secrets choke and expire.
Romance is nothing compared to war. The bridges all on fire overhead. Some will not make it to the ones waiting for them on the other side. These are the ones you must look out for, you must learn better to recognize mourning. It will be odorless, it will come to you wrapped in a plastic smile. We write love letters to the universe, we write ransom notes by connecting the stars in the northern sky and grabbing love by the cords on her wrists.
We write because no one ever told us these things would happen.
We became wings as all feathers tend to do when they gather close enough and the sunlight over the ocean kisses them with just enough promise. I offer you my tongue and you remove the metal fences from my throat. Two small animals, soft, wet, unafraid. I undress as you separate my ribs and whisper your words like small mouths into my heart, in response she beats for another century (or more) only for you.
And all the tears that pour forth from my eyes which never dare to seek the sun, they will turn this trembling earth again green. All the colours of the wind are made of pigments I had never seen. Here is the tomb of the little unknowns, here is the way they walk the nighttime ceilings. Here is the way I kneel at the foot of the bed and listen to my own blood slamming in my chest.
It sounds like the dawn may return any day now. Amen amen amen, I carve myself upon these words made flesh. I hear the faintest sounds of stirring, like maybe this time we will all rise to greet you, but I have been wrong so many, many times before. My pain bears a panic you wouldn’t believe.
And sometimes the weight of this desire tugs so deep it splits me clean in two.
Maybe I should have spent more time worrying less about time. Maybe the things we waste sweaty nights and crying dawns raging about are just a handful of gory jokes offered up to the maniacal gods like mandarin sunsets that bleed from the open wounds of missing someone who has been taken away from you too soon. Maybe I write too much about loss and feeling left behind but what is more real than the cuts of separation, what is more beautiful than tracing the steps we should have taken in reverse.
Tears are the sickest sweetness. Hearts are the purplest greed.
I can taste spring on the lips of winter and in the face of the sky I can see the memories of the man in the moon, who grows tired alone. Planets and stars all burning out in soft lavender trails, no more hills, nothing left to climb.
What will become of the way we are, who will remember what we said in the fields. All these screams rising up from the tortured earth. Butterflies are messengers sent from another world. There must be someone up above, this is what they offer me like warm milk, and I sift in and out of believing. I breathe in hungrily and take this strange life for granted. I do it as I run the bath, I do it as I pour the drinks into crystal glasses of oblivion (take this cup away from me, take this chalice from my lips), I do it as you speak and I try but am unable to listen.
I love you and you are lovely and love is everywhere but I’m on the outside because I am the carrier of anger and I am a collection of ways to be torn apart, and my smile fell away from my bones a while back, and no one can see except these pages.
And so I give them everything. I come into the silence to bleed.
And all they ever give is the light reflected into the darkness.
All they ever give is myself back to me.