i never quite feel like i’m breathing (i tell her) – it’s like i’m walking around trying to inhale deeply a sweet breath that finally fills my body and being, but the world and i and my breathing are just shallow little gasps.
she places her hands upon my throat and keeps still.
they always want you figured out: masculine or feminine, pleasing or displeasing, sharp or dull, attractive or unattractive. but i don’t think i’m rightly made into or described as any of those things. i think our bones understand energies we ignore and this is where anguish comes from. most of us are buried with it.
her hands are moving now as if to pull the evening down over us like a shade. the golden eyes of stars protruding. she and i and our sick thoughts dark and rich and ringing hollow as a moonless midnight. i extend a finger and begin to trace the imprint of the words now carved eternal into rough stone: “the past and present are as one— accordant and discordant/ youth and age/ and death and birth/ for out of one came all— from all comes one.” from all comes one, we are stories birthed in half.
quieted by the silent smoke of purple November, she listens with the softness of an afterlife i’m thirsty for all over. the air between us is the beg of touch without relief. we are stories birthed in half. we are the tears at the start of the bleeding.
it’s the blank mind that frightens; one made so terribly messy that all the lines crisscross over top of each other endlessly rendering each individual thought useless. it’s a blank made of noise, crushing static noise. the sound; the vision of suffocation.
but they tell me to write whatever comes and not hold back just keep on so i do until the looks, the ones i can feel without even seeing them, the looks bore into the back of my head like insects boring into the side of a tree they know only how to eat from the inside until they die in there along with the beast. trees are beasts of course, they too have heavy eyes and knowledge, skin and teeth and bones and wisdom; tears. feelings. longing.
i once read that if a tree is dying, a tree close to it will wrap its roots around the dying one’s roots in an attempt to share nourishment. like holding hands or… donating organs, i guess.
i think that is beautiful. and so very sad.
i wonder how many humans would do that. i wonder if i would but oftentimes i am truly very numb. i’ve let up on the drinking a bit but i still go numb from feelings. some my own, some borrowed. i think we want to read someone else’s diary in the hopes of finding the nastiest parts of ourselves. we are all spies but it’s just to try to end the loneliness. i think we want to grow wings and save ourselves but that’s as far as we think.
what if we did get out of this terrible nightmare city of death, lies, cruelty, and destruction. what if this were no longer reality but some kind of emotion-soaked memory of a time we fucked everything up but figured out a way to undo the whole damn thing. the human heart beats for a time before it stops and vanishes forever. the human, her feelings, her gut, her mind, does the same thing. we are (i am) smoke and mirrors, we are embers falling from those mighty trees, eaten from the inside. and i keep writing because they tell us not to stop. who tells us? the ones looking for something to read, i guess.
the childlike ones whispering in the dark to the monsters in their hearts: i love you, i love you, i love you, i do.
the rain begins again, the gray of the sweeping sky sliding cold along my windowpane and it is the season it is. i blink away dry invisible tears. wipe away the coffee rings on the pages of all the things i don’t know how to say. they do not budge. the leaves are flaming and the air is not quite a sharp razor, not quite a soft kiss. as i look along my wrists i see butterflies circling the veins. i see angels in the clouds and i stare out across the brownish fields looking for something like an animal. like a little girl is able to run away to escape herself.
hellish frightened thing.
you hold those dark
one on top of another on top of another
until your whole life
erupts into one long
i think women want themselves. we want to be fully ourselves.
to get to know ourselves before the shame, before the charade, before the cruelty, the confusion about whether or not we are allowed to be here.
i gave everything i had to men. my worth, my dignity, my body, my tears, my beauty, my health, my heart, my joy, my loathing, my terror, my most precious gifts, my sanity, my hurt, my insecurity, my creativity, my time, my desire, my mess, all my resurrection, all my death.
just gave it all away constantly because women are taught to repent for sins they did not commit. to pay for a debt they can never repay.
and those men? and all the insides of me i laid on the altar in front of them. they tore it all apart because the men
are taught to destroy all of the things
they do not know
how to feel.
and it rained and it rained and it rained for hours on end and i could see the sky
from where i am
as it poured wet from
you keeper of the secrets
collector of tears no one could hear them cry
what is this you bestow upon us in these hours
when darkness covers the naked land
drifting inside of our hearts
washed and blown out
i am your little thing
wide as the cloud terrible and trembling as the silvercoin river snakes against the leaves
intimacy a hand in a hand that holds itself
that waits steady
all of the most beautiful
and terrible things
i have done
i have done
and the madman
is mad for love
and the ones you love
are mad for love
and the ones you hate
are mad for love
and the only thing
that keeps us one
is madness & we call
and the world begins
to destroy itself.
just like you do.
just like you burn the
bed you sleep in.
just like the bed
and the fire
and your hands
there is a spirit which moves within me.
dwells inside me, as me.
i may be standing in the center of a room,
crowded or alone,
and i am suddenly overcome
with the sensation of being spoken to
words without words
as they touch like the passing bend
of an invisible wing.
a movement of a love
so deep the veins respond
quietly, joyfully, reverently.
i can only imagine that god,
whatever she is,
this is the way
of her enchanting echo
ever ancient and eternal.
like pale summer evenings
extend their burning fingers
i want to be surrounded by
the poetry of strong beautiful women.
the ones who took the lifebeatings and buried them deep—
wept suns and moons and planets,
the river water of the ages, oceanic tides of grief
beneath their precious bruised
only to have them grow roots
and bloom again in the buzzing heat of morning.
the fragrance of tragedy
written into hope.
in the palm of my mind live
soft summer wings spread, billowing,
sigh beneath the curtains
as they clutch a pale
blue eyes reflect, a lake opens wide & falls
beaming, drawn toward the face of the sky.
a being at the window of an evening
i have yet to know.
it calls for me, my name cupped in the hands of the Word,
moves my body. some trace of what may come.
and i am shown
and i was the one:
closing heaven against your eyelids.
nesting dreams inside your bed sheets.
tasting solace in the mouth
of your sweet heartache.
Plato warned that poets are powerless to indite a verse or chant an oracle until they are put out of their senses so that their minds are no longer in them, and ever since no one feels entirely comfortable sharing a cab with one. In fact, a cabbie once pulled over and ordered me out when my travelling companion introduced me as a poet. Incredible? Mind you, my friend had just introduced himself as ‘a philosopher’. Normal people don’t want to hear that sort of thing. But I’m sure it wasn’t always as humiliating as it has been in these days of professionalism, promotion and ‘bringing the poetry to the people’, running after them imploring, Come back! It doesn’t have to rhyme!
— from The Shape of the Dance, Michael Donaghy