Arrows in the Sky

Aiming his impressive bow skyward, he shoots arrow after golden arrow at the moon and while some of them stick, most of them explode like fireworks at night and then trail off and burn out like so many ancient stars. I once set a house on fire that way, not with the arrows, with the fireworks, but it was a very long time ago and no one got hurt because the neighbor found the hose in time and also because he never stops mowing his lawn and keeping an eye on things, which can be creepy but in that particular case was very much the reason we all lived to tell the tale. The handsome boy with the arrows, he is young and full of the kind of energy which breathes life through his tan skin, pumps and pulses with verve just beneath the surface where beats the heart of a lion or a dragon or maybe even both. His lips are perfectly flush, his chest and shoulders as wide and broad as the sun.

Meanwhile, I sip wine in the shadows and watch him in secret. I am trying to figure out how to remove myself from a conversation with a man who seems to have me cornered, backed up against the prison cell of my own social anxiety issues and insidious fear of hurting anyone else’s feelings, let alone someone who is already hurting mine. The wine slides down cool and softens my mood just enough that I laugh at things which are not funny and say things I think are but no one else does. It isn’t so much that I am not entertaining, though, it’s that they can’t hear me. It appears I can form the words with my mind and my mouth but I cannot make them fall forward to reach someone else. I am stuck in a dream where they can all talk to me, tell me things I may or may not want to hear, and I cannot respond.

I lean my arm against the bar. I lean my bare back against the cold wall. I am wearing a lovely dress with the back entirely cut out. In the mirror on the wall behind all the pretty multicolored liquor bottles, I can see my back is covered only by a gigantic tattoo of a wolf howling at the moon. It is a beautiful tattoo, the artistry so intricate and precise that as I stare at the image of the majestic creature, I can feel the heat in its primal eyes, taste the sharp cut of its teeth. When I was a child, my mother read me a nursery rhyme about a girl who runs through the woods at night. The girl was good but made a bad choice and the wolf ate her right up because the wolf was neither bad nor good just hungry. Just an animal. Alone. Clever. Strong. On top of the world, on top of a mountain of bones and blood and might. I didn’t know what the story was supposed to teach me or where on earth little girls run through forests alone at night. All I knew was, I wanted to be the wolf.

Mating Ritual

It happens like this: I am inspired but then I am bored as fuck and restless for something that gets my creative juices flowing and by that I mean whatever it is you think I do. He knots his long hair in a tight and perfect bun and uses all my fancy hair product to manage its flyaways and make it smell like the lightest, sweetest, most delicious summer afternoon even as we are only here trying to maneuver around each other in the small upstairs bathroom. They say the whole truth about a relationship is just two people sharing the same tiny space. I can promise you that’s not the whole truth of it. I am naked turning the shower to as hot as I can stand it and just as I catch him staring at me in the foggy mirror he slaps my ass and I scowl and smile at the same time. Unsure exactly what’s right or wrong about either of us, let alone us together, I step into the steaming spray of cascading water and swirl the coconut soap suds all around my soft smooth skin.

The sun is shining but it’s cold because of the wind. The wind is pushing the trees around something fierce, one by one like a million fingers pressing them back as far as they will go toward the ground. Spring has finally fully burst forth, all the plants and flowers a lush shade of enthusiastic greens or blushing pinks and purples. As I towel off, I see their sloped petals soaring past the window like little silken boats cast this way and that on a rip roaring gust of fresh morning air. The chimes in the garden next to the weathered angel statue are clattering their sporadic melody like church bells in a high hollow medieval tower.

Somewhere in a land far off, which comes alive only in my mind when it wanders on its own, the witches and warlocks of old worship the return of the light by performing the mating rituals of goddesses and gods frolicking freely in wide open fields and part of my aching ancient heart wishes with every bloody beat of itself to join them in ecstatic dance and revelry. Flesh and fruit, sacrifice and fertilization. As I stare off into an outer space I seem to occupy a bit too often lately, he reappears in the door frame with two mugs of coffee, passing one to me as he takes a sip of his own. When I kiss him on the lips in gratitude and awe, he tastes like the darkest French roasted beans and a thousand suns which blaze and burn and heat my quivering bones.

The Thing With Feathers

In the blink of an eye, it could all crumble into the blistering sea and be over for good. It could all be gone, really. I’m never quite certain if this motivates me or just chews inside my head like a manic kind of disturbance which keeps me from being better. I don’t know what ‘better’ means exactly, I guess I just always feel like it’s something I should try to be although I’m also pretty sure it’s why we spend too much and drink too much and get diagnosed with ‘generalized anxiety’ because we have fears which span a spectrum so wide and varying that it’s not even special enough to warrant a specific label. But maybe that’s just me. Humans always seem to be striving toward something and I can’t help but think that’s why they are so exhausting. They expect you to get so high even as they pin your wings to the ground.

The sky is dark navy velvet as I sip coffee and type in the dimly lit upstairs room. I listen to the little birds outside my open window, chirping away with marked intent. Together their sounds become a beautiful collection of voices which seem to surround me entirely, head to toe. Sometimes I just stare at them in the garden, peer deep into their teeny tiny black beady eyes, watch the clicking of their small fragile heads and the flick of their clever movements. What holds these creatures together but frail tendons and thin feathers and the breath of a god I almost believe in when I see a bird soar right up into the elegant morning air.

Poets are deeply observant which is likely why they can be so unnerving. It is a strange kind of torture-worship which calls a person to the word. The ones who write too much about sunshine and rainbows, I can’t trust them. Nothing is ever that simple. Or maybe I’m too complicated. Either way, I need darkness in my veins if I want to feel turned on enough to pick up a pen.

Sylvia Plath used to drink martinis with Anne Sexton (“three or four or two”) after their poetry class. At the Ritz Carlton if I am not mistaken (I could be). Sexton would drive them and park in the loading only zone, exclaiming to hotel staff that it was okay because they were only there to get loaded. They spoke a lot about death, and spoke about it with fervor and passion. Tragic in the end, of course, and yet what compelling, intriguing figures both of them were. Women who wrote poetry and thought thoughts which they actually expressed were near scandalous back then. They wrote about masturbation, miscarriage, the cruelties of marriage and motherhood. Unacceptable.

And yet.

There is something about obsession which transfixes not only the obsessed but those obsessed with observing them. To surrender to your passion for expression, for writing, for a life bigger, deeper, than anyone around you is living. So much of life is a question of what kind of conversations you are having. What you discuss is who you are and a reflection of how you value yourself. Which, truth be told, makes the culture we are living in at present a very sad state of affairs indeed.

The artists you cannot get enough of, who are they? They are not just artists, they are so much more than that. They are the embodiment of the dare. Do you or don’t you salivate over a thing. And if you do, will you let yourself feel it all the way through. Will you turn toward it or will you hide it away. Will you own it, say it, stand in it.

If what you want to discuss, if what you feel you need to say, or dismantle, or explore, may turn some people’s stomachs, would you still do it? Would you put your desires, your burning needs ahead of everyone else’s?

What if you did. And refused to explain or justify any of it.

Bad Girls Need

I want to pull each candy pink cloud down from the early dawn sky and wrap it around me like a cape. I think of the cape I will escape to in just a few days, to hear the pound of the waves upon the wide open beach, listen to the cry of the seagulls as they swoop low and skim the top of the glittering ocean. For now, though, the smell of salt and sand, sky and water and majesty, is only a pattern of ripples in my ever wandering mind, as I sit sipping coffee in the cool morning air. There is something about catching the break of the day before anyone else can get to you and muddle your thinking.

When you think about your life, do you think more about yourself or more about the ones you have encountered in it? Trick question. You think about yourself just like I do and whether or not you happen to like yourself or wish you were someone else entirely is sort of a mute point. You are who you are and you are with yourself from here on out.

The sky is so perfectly soft right now, so swathed in hazy pink across powder blue behind the willowy spring green of the trees that an actual tight feeling in my chest aches with something which is a blend of utter awe and swollen sadness.

All my life, this sadness seems to have held me so close that I sometimes cannot tell if it is love or fear or emptiness. You could call it emptiness I suppose, a void of sorts, meant perhaps never to be filled. But if it is such an absence why does it feel so very present with me. I swear to you on my life that there are times that this feeling, this shady melancholy emotion, takes a nearly tangible form, cups my chin and my face in its gentle hands and gazes at me with the most compassion I have ever felt. It is a tender sadness. A longing, but one which acknowledges me, one I treasure and somehow, for some completely bizarre reason, protect.

There are regrets we carry in our hearts, people we have hurt, people we are terrified we might because we are doing our best but we are also weak and fickle and sometimes it can feel like we stalk and attack ourselves at any given minute. In poetry, there is allowed to exist every inconvenient emotion, every incompatibility with a world trying to destroy itself. Through the word, we are allowed everything we ever wanted. How electrifying and how liberating, which is to say do you dare risk devastation to get to the truth of a thing. How much is the truth worth to you and what are you willing to sacrifice for it, if anything. If everything.

Most people will tell you tales of grandeur about themselves and you don’t even have to ask. They will make it sound and seem as though they have risked it all to come out on top of whatever it is they think will impress you most. They scored the promotion, they got the girl, they made the deal, they quadrupled the cash, their kid did whatever, this and that thing and they are the best at it. Behold the flawless and the blessed. How lucky you should feel to be anywhere in their midst. But they don’t know what they’re doing any more than you do. Don’t let them fool you. The design of this world is fit for so very few to ‘succeed’ inside.

The older I get the more disillusioned I become. If everyone is so impressive why do I feel so generally unimpressed. I suppose you could say it’s me, that may be fair enough. They may say that you see what you wish to see, but I say the heart wants what it wants. And I want so much more than this it hurts like hell to even write it down.

Death All on Your Mouth

I once heard the voice of love say she was my pain. Not that she was inside my anguish but that she was my anguish itself. Looking up at the giant flower moon high in the cold night sky, I feel my sadness swell in my chest. It is a kind of tender ache which accompanies awe, which tugs at the sleeves of wonder and amazement that we are at the mercy of so many invisible, sinister forces out of our control.

You cannot choose with what you will become obsessed. Something other than you sets you off, something beautiful, menacing, much bigger than you could ever hope to overcome, with claws and nails and teeth. Take your hands and touch me everywhere and know that I am here with you. My body is the deepest sea of a love so crushing you have no chance of surviving it. Death will come for you and you alone in an intimate moment of climactic separation. Death is the ultimate intimacy, complete and utter solitude and oneness with the universe which spins and pulses indifferent and eternal.

This love you seek is lethal and still you seek it. Beg for it. Seethe for it. Sin for it. Grieve for it. A wise poet once said that when we mourn we mourn ourselves. It is not the dead that choke up in our throats but our own lives in the shadow of their absence. And here I thought I knew it all about loss. But it could be that everything I pinned my life against was always crumbling down, falling away, full of rot and decay. Could it be that the tears I shed were a kind of reflecting pool. I hate to think we are so selfish as we are but I don’t think we see it. Or if we do we think it is somehow justified.

Love like a sedative, love like a junkie, love like a death you want only to fall naked in front of just to be free of the chains of a life you are ashamed to have constructed and know not how to dismantle on your own. Sex as death, orgasm as death, and a life afterwards fucked up with desperation, confusion, emptiness. Drooling, crying, hating yourself.

Some people never get it do they. They think they can side step, they think they can play. But the devil is in the details they say. You think I am sweet but I am never satisfied. I always want more. More feeling, more worship, more thoughts, more creation, more revelations, more pain, more dare, more stimulation. Death is never satisfied. It wants it all and it takes it all, too. Death and I are insatiable.

Is this why you come to me and ask me to break you all the way down. Is this why your whole body trembles when I come too close. Is this why you need it.

Chemical Baby

We get so high that I keep inviting someone into the conversation who isn’t there. He’s laughing because it’s just a wrought iron chair and I’m laughing because I don’t like to leave anyone out, and somehow my sudden grave concern is that this empty chair feels rejected. My heart is as big as an ocean and my mind is as free as the little birds which flutter about from tree top to tree top in the sweet evening air.

As I lay back and watch the colors of the sky change, he tells me it’s all in my head and I tell him to shush because when he talks I can’t hear the electric peaches and lavenders as they spread out like gigantic fuzzy fingers across the wide open expanse. I take a drink of his tequila while he’s off to get a beer and somehow the start of a new season doesn’t feel so bad at all.

Somewhere very far away, but not far enough, disease grips the young and old people alike and snuffs them out one at a time or in droves all together. Death is always around the bend but we cocoon ourselves in a secluded garden and play like kids who haven’t a care or an inkling that whatever this is which surrounds us in natural beauty and majesty is nothing more than a breath away from near catastrophe if not complete and total annihilation.

Feeling the effects of everything I’ve done to escape the world around me, I think of a man I once knew who was so hell bent on looking on the bright side that he fell right into the trap they set for you from the beginning. If you peer too long into the abyss it will swallow you whole, along with your entire sense of reality and what’s left of your magic. I don’t want to stay and I don’t want to go and I want both at the same time. I want the warm smooth grass under my feet all day and the stars above to come kiss me on my soft pink mouth one by silvery one each night until my entire body explodes into celestial galaxies which expand and expand forever. For each light, there is a light gone out. For each new beginning, an ending of impossible wonder and exquisite pain. And so it goes on and on like rings of fire blazing out into an endless night which you cradle in the very palms of your hands.

Edibles

Be horny like an impressionist painting on the wall of an orthodontist’s office. Expect your lover to know what turns you on without telling them or even hinting at your actual needs in the slightest. Actual advice dished out in a modern culture magazine by some young thing who probably also advises against washing your face too ‘aggressively’ or eating anything with real sugar in it. Horny is trendy but only if you do it right. How gruesome. How hilariously stupidly entertaining, and yet even so, I can remember gobbling up advice like this from wherever I could get my hands on it in my younger days.

Such is one’s eagerness to get her desires met but only if she doesn’t have to fall on her face in the process. We learn our tricks. We learn the trade and all the while our lusty, blushy, pulsing youth is fading into oblivion as our nerves rattle us near into bits over nothing but mass marketed bullshit.

Sitting down on a park bench which overlooks a little man-made pond, I slip my phone back in my bag and sip my cappuccino as I take in the brightness of the early spring afternoon. It feels good to have nowhere to be but as is too often the case, when there is nowhere you belong, you can’t help but wonder if there is someplace you should and then you start missing it. A little rattled by the assault of so much light, I put on my dark glasses and allow my mind to take my senses back to the memory of the beautiful darkness of the night before.

He wanted to kiss but it wasn’t in the cards. I don’t kiss because it feels too much like suffocating and he knows this about me even though I know we both think it’s insane and possibly more than a bit tragic. Not discouraged by my neuroses, however, he persisted in asking me to dance for him and so I swiveled my hips and threw back my hair and I did it all with grace and rhythm and you would have thought I was some exotic gypsy queen or other worldly creature entirely, in spite of the butterflies clattering in my stomach.

It’s funny what you will do to feel alive. To feel desired in a world which makes you feel degraded and commodified at every turn. As I watch the little kiddos place their tiny homemade sailboats into the water, I see them cheer with delight as the breeze moves their carved wooden vessels smoothly across the top of the pond. One kid with messy red hair and a tee shirt which fits like he’s growing right out of it before my eyes, finds a jumping green frog in the grass and follows its zig zaggy movements off into the rocks, forgetting all about his painted yellow boat which is now tipping almost all the way over sideways against a gust of wind.

In the middle of the day, the sky is as wide as eternity and the trees are frothing with gorgeous pink blossoms, their musky scent a delicious kind of melancholy warmed by the high sun. As the poets all across the world dream their dreams, I wish I could live the life of every single one, just for some hours, just for a haunted night to crawl inside their minds and watch what dirty secrets make them twitch. And suddenly the muscles between my thighs begin to flex with a tender kind of ache, wetness sweats succulent across my soft tongue, and I know for certain that never once was I ever turned on by anything at all in the orthodontist’s office.

God the Body

Smearing my chest with cool thick mud, he makes the sign of the cross all the way down to my navel and across my breasts before using me the way he likes to do when we both need a way out. The strangeness of the crooked stars high above and his crushing body pounding over mine makes me wet but I am used to my body betraying my mind by now. Still, it makes me struggle and gasp which only serves to hustle the whole scene along until we both find our animalistic release.

It isn’t pretty but it’s honest. This is what I tell myself as I straighten up and light a smoke from his torn up pack which falls out of his coat pocket along with a gold wedding ring. He thinks I don’t know but only because he doesn’t think much and because he’s afraid that if I did I would care but I don’t. I’m eighteen and he’s forty six or something close to that but none of it matters to me because I’m on my way to much better things and he’s got a wife he can’t stand and a career that’s killing him, a slow kind of seedy death one stale-ringed Styrofoam coffee cup at a time.

Pulling my knees to my chest, I suck in the smell of summer grass and gaze out across the deep black lake which is sunk low at the center of the park where we trespass in the darkest hour. Watching as the moonlight pools and dips on top of the rippling water, I think about how tight my body is, how satisfying. I spread my legs and admire my pale limbs as they soften into the fresh blades of sweet green weeds speckled with dandelion and periwinkle. A girl gives up her body to keep hold of her mind. It is a sordid trade but nonetheless expected. A shit bargain which must be made in order to play the game, which has fuzzy rules that only make it more intriguing. Smart girls like puzzles. Good girls like pleasing.

I pick up a stone and carve my name into the dirt. I lick at the tiny cuts on my knees and talk to myself like I know what I’m doing but something inside is seething and feels like if I turn toward it for even just a split minute, it will morph into a giant ocean wave and swallow me whole. I am strong, though. I keep it in. I push it down. I am the ruler of the tides.

Little fireflies are dimpling the silence of the night air. I can see them glowing gently as they multiply and surround me like sweet honey droplets, amber coordinates of a heavenly guidance system. The more I look, the more I see.

I finish my cigarette alone with my winged companions and wrap his flannel around my small shoulders. He just sleeps it off.

Please Don’t Stop

Time is running out and while this is news to no one, I can’t help but wonder why. What is it we are so afraid to be up against, really? If it were the cold hand of death itself you wouldn’t know it because we live like we have all the days and nights and hours in the world to fuck around and figure things out.

He lights my cigarette as we sit in the back garden and as I inhale a deep drag, my eyes scan the new green buds on the mighty branches of the majestic maple trees which have towered over us for years now, and the house for years and years before we ever even showed up. Destroying myself a little bit here and there has become more of a hobby than a habit, though I am not entirely certain if this is progress or just the attempted taming of a sick kind of pleasure in self-degradation but nonetheless, I take my chances as though I had half the nerve to stare down the very face of god herself while mashing the dead smoke into the exposed concrete before lighting up another.

Sharing the whiskey and the wine as the sun is setting off to the sides of buildings slashed in orange and crimson rays, we talk about nothing in particular which would usually make my skin crawl but for this night, this evening which is just another among more than I ever dared hope, it all slides down warm and smooth with the heat of the bourbon and the sun.

Life is always burning. Burning on like the little lights which flicker in the early dark of morning, signaling that the people are getting up and ready to do whatever it is they did the day before and the day before that. Burning out like the electronic buzzing of the breathing machines in blue hospitals on the other side of a town soaked heavy in sorrow, stale air, grim coffee, and regular grief.

By the time darkness has fully fallen all around us, along with the druggy numbness of sweet intoxication, we have stripped off every bit of clothing and crawled into the bed which is each other, into the abyss which is the only way to forget that you are only escaping for a little while, and when the sun swings around the globe and the end begins again, small lights will flicker on and you will wonder why, with every bone in your body, you both cherish and loathe yourself, and yet you’ll splash cold water onto your weathered aging face, gaze into the mirror, and say a prayer to nothing you’re sure you believe in for just one more chance to do it all over again.

Let Go of Your Heart

Far away from here, there is a beautiful sprawling countryside and a wide open field of wildflowers, flickered with tiny butterflies as they tumble and flit from one stray bloom to another. In a soft patch of new spring grass, she makes heavenly love to me with her wet succulent hunger before she disappears, right before my eyes, becoming a kind of magnificent bird of prey with pristine ivory wings, which vanishes into the slowly sloping sun.

Dazed by the smooth heat of passion and the sweet afternoon air on my skin, I assemble my hair into a towering mess atop my head and wander barefoot toward a stream. It is cool underneath the dappled sunlight falling through tall trees. In the back of my mind there are images of terrible scenes. The horrors of war and the suffering of every person, animal, helpless creature, all collected in my veins. They run with me even when I am not running. They are swift and deft, they endure and they deflect and they outwit, outsmart, outlast the evil screeching at their backs.

In my womb, unrelenting circles, cycles, tides, planets, and orbiting moons. In the center of my palms, the middle of my throat, there are voices which have persisted throughout all of time and eternity. I have made of myself a home, a sanctuary, a temple of sorts, for them. Have you ever known a haunting you couldn’t bear to let go of? Have you ever felt the pulse of an unexplained, inexplicable thing coursing through you at such a breakneck pace that it quickens your breathing even as you sit trying to keep still?

I realize this could be a manic dream, but couldn’t all of it be, all the time? If everything they ever told you, fed you on, bathed you in, was a lie meant to rip the spine right out from under your skin, then what would you choose to believe if you could and why? What if within you, deep deep down, grows something so soft it is untouchable, so wild it is unstoppable, so bright it is unconscionable.

Lying on the forest floor, soft cool moss beneath my strange little head, I stare up at the fading pale peach sky far off, high above the leafy green tree tops, that endless dome which cups every monstrous beast and every last faint ripple on the waters all over the globe, every transgression, every sweet molten ache. I lift a slender finger up into the invisible evening air which surrounds me, open my mouth and say her name as I trace it into the wind which promises only to blow all of us away.