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.
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.
Click the play button to hear me read this to you. It feels like a time for reading to each other, I don’t know… I hope you like it and if you do let me know and I can read more each day….
Fairly unnerved, I sit atop the little bed in my writing room sipping coffee and staring blankly out the window. Birds are chirping their various greetings and announcements from trees near and far through the dense fog which obscures a clear view of anything in the distance. The thickness of the air is strange but other than that the scene appears much as it always has. Early morning, hazy light. Rooftops among bare branches, tiny windows and inside them, tiny pale yellow lights. I can hear the rushing sounds of the highway a few blocks away, but on my street the parked cars stay put. Dog walkers, a runner, but no children walk by to school. No school. In a time like this, with the COVID-19 virus spreading like invisible wildfire, it strikes me that there has never been a time like this. Not that I have lived through. Hope to live through. And I look around me, observing, as any artist does, the reactions and emotions of people, and of myself. I see cycles. There are spirals, there are tracks we race around like figure eights, climbing up, spinning down. I go from anger to fear to rage to rage to fear to anger to planning to compassion to love to strength to helplessness to hopelessness to heart, and all around and back again in a matter of moments which repeat in a loop but the loop feels endless and new and dreadful and old and stale and jarring and shocking and surreal and numbing all at once. Repeat, repeat, repeat, check the news, repeat. And coffee. Much coffee. And while over the past few months I have told so many stories I’ve lost count, the only thing I can think about right now is nothing and everything in a terrible clashing symphony inside my head. My little plants reach for the sheer washes of light which mist through my open window. They are green and leafy and reaching, little creatures of springtime silence. And I thought I would read this all to you, let you hear my voice. Not because I have anything profound or even necessarily helpful to say, because I don’t. But some voice inside keeps asking me to be a voice on the outside, maybe just to let you know I am here. And in a way, here with you.
Walking home alone from the small cafe we used to frequent when we were a thing and things were a good deal less exhausting than they are now, I light up a smoke and inhale the soft springtime evening air. The trees which cover the stone city square are quietly creeping to life in mossy greens and deep pinks which tickles me in all the places I have left inside that still feel young at heart. How we used to collect pastel eggs in baskets at my grandparents’ house on Easter. My favorite aunt teaching me to use chalky painted chocolate eggs as lipstick, my eyes wide with defiance and excitement at eight years old, lips a freakish crookedly applied shade of lavender. There are new beginnings and disastrous endings along the curve which inevitably leads to grown up problems and more years piling up on top of your bones than wisdom of ages. We are hopeful underneath it all but rattled just the same. Rounding the corner along the park’s edge, I make my way along the path by the river and take a seat on the grass to finish my cigarette in solitary peace. Though I try not to let it happen, whenever I am still my mind floods with thoughts of you. Staring off into the murky grayness of the water, I curse myself because I am not myself when I’m caught up in your gaze, in its heat I am lovelier than I deserve to be. Something in the darkness of your desire calls to me, brings me down into the depths of my being that make me burn, make my tender parts simmer and twitch. How long has it been since we last grazed our lips over each other’s skin? So long the body aches. So long the song in my soul has all but gone out. I crush my smoke into the pavement while imagining every dirty thing you ever said you wanted to do to me. All that fire in your eyes, all that blood on your decadent tongue. As the night sky crawls its way over the tall glass high rise buildings behind the river, the cold air moves in with it. I pull on a hat and zip up my jacket. My hands are raw from washing so often, and the many blocks home move beneath me without my even noticing. A bottle of wine, another cigarette on a balcony overlooking stacks and stacks of squares filled with electric neon lights. In a velvet bar across town, tight young girls dance for dollars, swivel their naked hips like the sweet promise of a violent end to an undeserving world. And you taste them in your filthiest dreams. And you gush with jittery life as their headless bodies become the blackness you carry around all day and can’t let go of no matter how hard you try. You down another drink because you just need something to take away the pain you feel that tells you you are so empty that even happiness falls through you like grains of sand cast aside on the breeze. You just need one more chance to build a different kind of life. You just need the itch in your palms to stop keeping you up at night. You just need to kiss her but everything about her is nothing more than a whisper on the wind.
Drifting languidly away from everyone and everything which is disintegrating on this hollow glassy globe, I perch in a treetop like a fairy nymph lit up in moon glow. My little feet dangling in the empty night air, I watch as far below nothing happens that anyone else can see. The blackness of midnight stretches out in every direction, swallowing endless fields of graying husks left for dead against the cold hard ground. Looking up at the marbled purple sky, I see the moon looming larger than my entire life, hung there cratered and pillaged and beaming, basking in the strangeness of her own uneven face. When the hour is right, and the creatures of night move within every inch of my bones, I lean back upon the tree to steady myself, part my legs wide as each one falls on either side of the thick branch in which I have made my feathered nest. By the light of each winking star that shines on my skin, I finger my sweetness while riding the tender surges of energy that come in ecstatic eruptions from their distant glimmer. Make me one with the ancients, with each act of deep erotic penetration, commune me with every mouth which ever uttered the mighty names of the Gods as they raised their sharp blades, made sacrifices on altars of crimson and gold. Open my veins and drink of my blood like mad rivers of nightmares and dreams. Part my ribs and dig your grave in the calm center of my slamming heart that I may know you are not afraid of the chaos of the storms that I am and always will be. My sweat mixed with exotic night air, my hair all colors of the wind which blows with steady force against the rising of the tides, I move with them, heaving breath and sacred rhythm. Reaching my peak as the trees tremble and quake with my movements, I cry out in ragged adoration for the white hot explosion I have made myself endure. In this quiet seclusion high above the earth below, I have never felt more safe, more alone, or more beautiful. The others cannot understand. They need love but hate themselves for it. They want freedom but put themselves through all manner of hell to avoid revealing the little freaks they really are. But creatures like us, we worship only feeling. We suckle only upon the full breasts of melancholy, dip our tongues in to caress only the soft flesh of sadness as she moans beneath us, helpless, sinister, supple, needy. Give her what she longs for, bring her to her knees. Having heard my sensual song, you come climbing down from the mountain, your animal eyes flash yellow, reflective, hunting me through the swaying leaves. Your movements are primal, heart beat steady, as your muscles snake their way around my body in the dark.
I don’t want to write about you. I don’t want to write about me. I don’t want to write about the state of things because there is no state, only stasis. I comb through the works of recluse poets as though there were any other kind. A poet lives in a room in her heart, and stays there writing forever. Listening to words of wisdom, words of strife, I am not transported in the least. I ache for the words I cannot find anywhere. I am looking for something I do not know how to see. All I want is to be alone and the world has served the opportunity up to me on a silver plate. Is this what you wanted? Is this how you like it? How could you have let this happen? Perhaps we wash our hands forty seven times in a single day and never once come clean. Perhaps we can’t come down with an illness if we’ve no longer got any skin. In the trees I see the stars as they blink on and off in an early morning sky. Winter, she hangs on and hangs close and drapes herself like ice frosted along the branches. Yesterday I saw some little pink buds, tiny whispers of life, preparing itself in spite of the sting in the cold. And as those on the outside talk and talk, on the inside I don’t hear a thing except silence within silence, I can’t feel anything but a strange eclipse of fear over distance, fear over distance. Time like the ticking of a clock. Time like a lead balloon. There is something at work here that we refuse to see. Weakness, indecency, arrogance, hysteria, seeds of anarchy, greed. Cruelty. There is a cruelty which marks the heart in the declining character of the civilized world; indecision, dishonesty, incompetence, deceit. It goes on in its bluster, it is a joke, it is entertainment, it is ascending, it is the nameless name of all venomous things. It claims lives. It is numb. It is senseless. It is afraid. Please define civilized. Please spell civilized. Please use civilized for me in a sentence. You want to make love and I want to scream my head off until my throat bleeds. You want me to paint the kitchen cabinets, keep my hands busy. Keep my mind off of things. My mind is a thousand tentacles writhing freely, even at home, even in the living room. Even as I speak back and forth with you, unblinking. Even as the news breaks and breaks and breaks all day like tsunamis over our heads, my mind grows three hundred arms as she reaches, reaches, reaches, grasps, grasps, grasps. What will become of the flesh. Will all of our molecules be transformed, will we emerge as new creatures when all this is over. Will any of this finally change us.
I wanted to tell you a story but my grand ideas were all swallowed up by the ocean, whose voice is much deeper and far more profound. The sea knows more than I will ever know, has covered more ground and sunk lower than I ever will in this lifetime or any other. Do you believe in reincarnation? The thought alone terrifies me so I don’t think about it, try to distract myself with anything else. Imagine having to do this all over again but as someone or something else. No, thank you. If I can manage to create something intimate of this one life I have been so randomly given, that will be enough for me. In the thick of the confusion which has now become the general state of the world at large, we pull on our cold weather gear and walk a frigid deserted beach for miles. No one around, only the thunder of the crashing of the waves as the sun streams down, crunchy collections of broken up seashells under our boots, and an empty fishing shack worn and battered atop a lengthy pier. Wind tearing into our faces, we tighten our lips and do not speak. Crisp white gulls with their wide pointy wings are swooping out over the ocean, which is the heaviest inky velvet dark navy blue I have ever seen it, while the sky is a quiet light sandy blue. As above, not so below. Light and darkness in stark relief. Nature all around and inside of us is eerie, distraught, tumultuous. Somewhere in an ancient city across the globe, people are dying by the hundreds in hospital beds. People are singing lullabies, people are trapped, people are writing love letters and eating fish from small jars. Somewhere in the distance between he and I, my anxiety jitters right beneath the surface of my skin. When he touches me, my body reacts by pulling away. My mind reacts by screaming inaudibly Don’t touch. Maybe I’m colder than I used to be, maybe I am afraid. Maybe the things we try to hold on to only want to get away. I don’t know why I get like this, I don’t know why I live with one foot out the door and the other on my own throat. But I know he stays when times are tough. When times are impossible. When my insides are relentless, dark black velvet waves. He stays and he stays until we ride out the storm.
Giving you the middle finger, I smile and take another sip of my drink. We’ve been messing around for hours discussing the disastrous state of the world as the fools who run it flick on the code red emergency lights right before taking off in their private jets to masturbate themselves to a comfortable death as the rest of us run the streets and spin wildly out of control. It’s a sickness that lives in all of us I suppose, something like self-preservation perverted into a blood sport, but you and I have decided to try to be on our best worst behavior in order to forget about everything just for one forgettable night. Pouring us each another, you lead me into a darkened room with a plush rug upon the floor. You trace your finger along my jaw while telling me I look like somebody famous, you just can’t figure out who. The taste of your kiss turns my insides to liquid heat. I’m so warm from the whiskey I’d be anyone you want me to be just to feel your skin on my skin, but I don’t tell you this because it sounds so goddamn cliche. There are lovers and there are players, there are nihilists and there are fatalists. Romantics and devils and jokers and right now we are all of these things and so much more. Like two drunk fugitives, we build a crude fire in the fireplace, smoke something to take the edge off the edge we always seem to be teetering on, and make mad love as our little hearts pound like heavenly thunder rolling out across the breathtaking beauty of a crimson apocalyptic sky. To the moody sounds of The Cure, I curl into your arms and wonder what it would be like to live in a world where everyone is free. Everyone is loved and no one is ever left out in the cold. Impossible, of course. But sometimes when I’m alone, when I don’t have to fake being hopeful or charitable or kind, something inside me is anyway. There are people in this world who are so much better than me and at times I wish I were one of them. They are compassionate and sweet, even when nobody’s looking. I watch as the fire weakens to a cold electric blue, turns to smoky embers and then flickers out. You have fallen asleep, the opalescent light of the moon glowing a sheer path across your peaceful face. I close my eyes and fold my hands praying for escape, but only the stars disappear. Inside I am a wide open space, a static vacancy, an empty silence where faces in dreams fade in and out, but none ever stay.
Like fresh fallen snow which blankets an endless field beneath a heavy gray winter’s sky, the page spreads itself before me in all its pristine whiteness. As would a child, I want only to run right into it, stomp my little feet right through its glorious empty perfection, dig in, disrupt, burrow, tunnel, build, destroy. Leave tracks. Impose my footprints over and over just to see what they look like trailed out like alabaster snakes behind me for miles. My mind is a meadow of infinite expanse. I write because I am trying to touch it everywhere all at once, like a wild tentacled beast. I trace my fingers over the mouth of it, open wide. Alone with myself, I scan the dim backlit horizon looking for shapes of things I’ve long forgotten but would somehow recognize, I’m sure of it. There are shadows which lengthen out upon the snow like fangs. A full moon rising as the stars begin to reach out in all directions. We forget the way the universe extends itself from every angle. We think everything is pointing toward us but it isn’t. We are not the center of it all, much as we would like to imagine ourselves to be. I watch the people who can’t see past the end of their nose. I see the people who cannot see beyond themselves and these are the ones who terrify me the most. The blissful, the unaware, the ignorant. The ones who have all the answers. The ones who care only for the sick bulk of their wallet, get off over the throbbing size of their stock portfolio, thinking all the while they can separate themselves from the obscene indignities of the rest of the world. Stone hearts and hungry mad saturated eyes. Living for greed as though it won’t be that same disease which annihilates all of us in the end. Meanwhile, I sit in a small room and listen as the geese cry their shrill cry, soaring past the clouds in the sky overhead. Somewhere across town, the sign on the front door of a small cafe flips from Open to Closed too early. Two young mothers fight over the last small tin of tuna fish. And the earth somehow stands still in its spinning; darkness, like an eyelid tired, swollen, descends all over the globe.