She laments her lack of inspiration publicly, asks for advice about how to find her poetry again. For reasons I am at first unaware of even to myself, I don’t believe her. Surely you can write a poem if you need to it’s just that it could very possibly be shit. That’s the block. It isn’t a true standstill it’s a standoff with the words. They are always there but if you think you can stare them down into cooperating you’re cute and also delusional. This is why writing is a relationship and a tough one at that. The words are teaching you about yourself all the time and they will use whatever brutal tactics necessary to keep you on your game. To break you down and rebuild you when it’s time. You can have your poetry just not on your own terms. Poetry is an engagement with a cosmic thing, a strange and wild and insistent miracle cloaked in the shape of a random stranger, a nameless passerby on a dirty crowded city street. Seemingly unrecognizable, and yet there is something in the way it catches like a hook at the corner of your eye and makes you turn around. It’s the uncanny familiarity that knocks you off guard. Can you stand to look at what is looking back at you. That depends. You have to care entirely too much and at the same time not at all. Drop the ego, drop the pretense, drop to your knees. You have to learn to trust in something which is invisible, impossible to see or explain. It isn’t that the words won’t come. It’s keeping the faith in what they may reveal that can slam you hard against the wall you hadn’t realized you constructed brick by brick yourself.
Summer sunset is sliding along your tanned face. You by the window writing in your leather notebook. Your eyes cast downward, those magnificent fiery eyes. I want them on me. I want your gaze all over my body. Hot. Penetrating.
I imagine what you may be writing about. Something sensual most likely. About the subtle movement of a nocturnal creature, or a flower opening into the low evening light. You are always taken with a kind of softness which bends itself willingly towards the dark. This I understand with my whole being. My whole body and soul.
In a world of palpable and constant apocalyptic dread, in this madness where the height of human condition is to maul and destroy one another for money and the satisfaction of blood, here you are. Steady pulse of burning attention. Hungry mind reaching out in all directions. Pulling into you that which fascinates. That which is sinister. That which catches the breath in the throat.
Recording the way things are and imagining the way they could be.
Truer. More trembling. More alive.
For all the bravado and showmanship, the flexing of muscle and thirsty threat of war, how much more dangerous it is to adore, to worship, to drink of the cup of that which remains mysterious even after ages and ages of study.
Silently you sit alone in the elegant air. An amethyst universe, glistening, turning in the palm of your ancient heart. There are secrets you are made of, places within you which exist beyond the realm of the written word or spoken language. I am drawn to you because of this. Because you are a thick forested wood and I am a wanderer. Your rich soil flashing beneath my naked feet.
What if the heart could become unguarded. Would you know how to handle the feelings that would flood within you? What if the most powerful defense against death was complete and utter surrender to the ache of passion which begs, and tempts, and tugs at the veins without relent.
What is wrong with me that I don’t believe. That I refuse to see what is right in front of me. I don’t remember at all the girl I was before. It is as though my brain were gauze, wrapped up like a wound in cotton bandages and tape.
You know what is the most exhausting feeling? The second guessing of every single goddamn thing. The madness of circling around and around in the mind without relent and in the end never getting anywhere. Scrambling like a rodent down into a bottomless hole.
It’s growing dark out as you start touching me. A finger along the throat. I wish I could say I feel something but to be honest, I really don’t. My bones are liquid metal. My skin aches for nothing in particular, not even this. The sickness in the pit of me which snakes about the rib cage like black roses. Soaking it in gin like a surgical sponge discarded inside the intestine, like a pummeled wedge of bitter fruit.
You know what is the saddest feeling? Knowing the shape of your own shell, each of its protective curves and spindles. How the salt of unpredictability bores tiny holes in the fragile pearlescent stone.
It happens in the stoic darkness of the passing of time, imperceptible. The way it tenderly curls around you, bends your soft body into a comma or an apostrophe. A break in the story, a pause pregnant and dying on the vine. How you always feel like something better should come next, though, for the life of you, you couldn’t tell a soul where the glittery streets of better are supposed to lead.
I try reading erotica but nothing gets me there. It all just feels like body parts thrown against the wall to see if any of it will get you off by accident. I feel sad for the writers and sad for the characters and scenarios they halfheartedly create. I shut everything down, lay back upon the bed in my writing room, and stare out the window at a pink and blue striped sky. The lighting is breathtaking at this time of evening, a softness in the way its peachy fingers skim the leaves and pines.
On the street below, some exasperated mother screams at her kids to clean up god knows what. I never wanted kids, all I want is silence, so I slam shut the window to the outside world and bury myself in poetry. That, too, proves insufficient at getting me where I seem to want to go but now I think I can see that it isn’t the fault of the poorly written verse or the gratuitous speed with which the author of erotic porno fiction explodes her little pawns into orgasms completely unearned. I can’t get where I want to go because I am as lost as I ever have been and don’t know what it is I’m really after.
Maybe its the summertime that gets under my skin. There always seems a current of madness running through her empty tin can streets. What is it that makes us so restless, so disjointed when there’s too much light? Is it everybody or just me? Tonight the full moon will glow in all of her naked radiance. The reflecting pool face of a dead rock thing.
I read that the tricky thing about Oscar Wilde is he told stories in which the sins of the body redeemed the soul. If only that were true in this life. If only I could reach out of this cage and stroke the forbidden desires as they approach my trembling hands, my open eager mouth. Sin like the Eucharist. Passion all sustaining, a melancholic illusion, wafer thin.
There is a forest in my mind, with trees which grow so high that the sunlight barely penetrates. Cool dark earth beneath my feet. Streams flowing out from my body in all directions, rushing over rocks, cascading over cliffs as waterfalls, diving into mist. This mysterious place inside of me, the ache of my center I cannot touch.
The mother having somehow calmed her hysteria, I light up a cigarette and slide open the window once again to inhale the grassy yellow evening air. I lean my head outside to feel the last of the sunlight on my face. We are all of us lost and none of us quite at home in these body shells. Our blood is alien even to ourselves. A bunch of kids are playing some kind of old school cops and robbers bit as the mother sips something from an opaque thermos. She’s out of her mind. I feel for her, though.
Evening birdsong sifts inside the open window as I watch the light’s eyes turn down against the hands of an antique clock. What cuts my heart deepest is these little slivers of moment, soft sweet flickers of an invisible beauty made just barely visible. A fragment of a second’s split in the veil which drapes the eternal body of time.
A boundary not crossed but extinguished, collapsed entirely into itself: into nothing.
Light sliced along the edge of a sloping petal; consummation without intrusion. So thin a movement of air against skin. Even as you collect yourself beneath it, it has disappeared.
What else could this dead world possibly offer you faith in but melancholy. People are hysterical. People are maniacs. Cruelty abounds as does deceit. In the mind of the killer. In the mind of the rich man. In the back of the throat of the hungry and abandoned child. God and the Devil and the Son and the Blood. And you pass my whiskey and you want to get high and you want to talk about this fucking life as you know it but so do I – so do I – and it isn’t this.
It is not this. It cannot be this. Anything but this.
Everything else is layered on top of what is true and what is true is the thing that aches the most. I pull out a notebook to write a message to no one. Notes on my phone. Lipstick on the wall. Make a world out of nothing and hold it in my hands like a sacrifice. Like a pistol. Like a looking glass I attempt to gaze into. Fall into. We are only ourselves and only unto ourselves can we return.
A tangerine sun, like one strung out eye, sinks into a white glass sea.
You are an outcast. Always have been, even among the included. Even among the chosen, you were the few and never the many. Singular. Disaffected. Dissociated. Frightening.
Moving your face and body the wrong way, they clipped your wandering steps and pasted them upon the tightrope horizon line. It is the one thing about you you cannot bed. It lives inside you and does not rest. It is the only thing about you. It is the hardest part about you.
It is the only thing you love because you want to, not because you must.
I light up a cigarette and sit on the wrought iron chair on the patio beneath the maple trees. The ominous sky heaving with electricity. Solitude is prayer. Is the only universal expression of gratitude. To be left alone to pick up the paper cut-out footprints they peeled off your feet. Nailed the wrong way around. I busted up my foot over the weekend – something stupid.
What if you couldn’t walk. What if you couldn’t run away even as they chased you.
The chain-link fence around the building has two feet of curled barbed wire around the top I never noticed before. They tell you it’s so nobody gets in. All kinds of running are the wrong kind of protection. They can say a lot of things but I am no longer listening. I can picture some of us, shirts torn, skin bloody. Trying to get out.
We slept in later than usual. My body and mind are both still sweetly tingling with the whispered press of our love making which we rode out from dusk til dawn like we used to do when we first met. We have been through so much, traced our way through the darkness of a time we thought would break us, and still you can make me blush, make me open, make me cry for the sheer depth of the beauty of it.
Out the bedroom window the rain is pouring down, a steady thorough rain, and there is a cool wind moving through the blood red maple leaves on the trees across the street. The birds sing wild little songs as I run my fingers through your soft blond hair.
I know I don’t say love because it sounds like nothing to me when I do. But I love you as if that meant more than any word could ever mean or contain or imply. I love you hard like the wet pavement takes the lashes of the rain without relent or protest. I love you until that cruel ridiculous word finally takes root in my limbs, an expansion bright as the sun which exhausts itself sliding through miles and miles of my thin bending veins.
At the beginning we didn’t believe it could happen. And when it wouldn’t let us go we didn’t want to trust in any of it, in anything that could ever hurt like hell again. But here you are kissing me and here I am tangled all over you and here we go clutching again and again and again like the world could end and the walls could crumble and the sky could burn and we would not stop. I could say love and you could say love but I think it just means that we will not stop. Not for anything.
Hunger is tricky to think beyond and she is hungry each and everyday, like running a low grade fever, it is always there pressed against the underside of the skin. Planes have come out of the sky. The thinness of the atmosphere, the weakness of the arms of the air. In early morning, the blood of the sun watered against the moon as it hangs in orbit.
Visions come and go inside of the huger, but I have mentioned this already. I could have been afraid you would forget. It is a numbness in the back of the rib cage, chest and neck. You forget that starvation is deprivation and deprivation is not limited to, not housed within, the body.
Wings of birds are quiet against the branches as the throats of the creatures fill with screams. It is too early for cigarettes, too early for infatuation. Reading the lives of poets. We are studied. We are test tubes, we are lab coats, bleached whiter than snow and cold as ice inside the soiled earth.
Lack of empathy. Lack of reliable direction. Denial of the passions within, and all becomes dark. ‘My heart wants to mate with the dark,’ Forugh Farrokhzad confesses, her words in books which contain her voice from the great beyond. Cars have come out of the sky and have been run off the side of the road. Winter has come to slumber against the crush of her young chest.
Pareidolia: the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous visual stimulus (so that one sees an object, pattern or meaning where in fact there is none).
And then there is you, and you do not belong in time. Not in this time or any other, past or future or present. You are a suspension and an immersion without limit. Yet the more they look at you – the more they study, the more they probe – the deeper you split in half. The body and mind attempt to accommodate the emptiness, the distortion, the division which rages inside of the whole.
The more your eyes detect a pattern which they keep telling you does not exist. You have seen the way the connections are made, hand over hand, hand over mouth, eye over eye.
The trouble is you have to make it fit. And they give you starvation and you give them poetry and your tongue is so dry you can’t even spit. You are trying to recognize the patterns even as they shift.
The trouble is even if you write something good you still have to write something else. You still have to write again. And again after that. The itch doesn’t stop. The need does not subside. It is not erased just because you gave a thing a chance.
In the nest of my dark mind, I imagine a world where there is much less noise, so as to allow for a kind of internal peace not known to most people in these crippling times. There is no reality underneath the lies which swirl and encircle us no matter which way we turn. Each step you take punches a hole through the continuum, each breath is an intrusion.
It is painful to move about within a web of ignorance. One feels as if she is a protrusion, a distortion of some robust and obscene kind. One does not belong, even as one is.
Blood cut eyes. Trembling hands and thighs.
Even the ones who want to save you don’t. By that I mean they cannot save you and they do not want to anyway, no matter what they tell you. No matter what they tell themselves. You have to save yourself and by that I mean no one is coming behind the dogs, behind the search there is no search.
Alone in a cool wood by a stream, I sit and listen for the wind in the leaves. I touch crystal water to my soft wet mouth. I take my coffee black these days. I sip it in the mist which sifts high above the treetops, before the dawn which comes to overtake all worthy forms of thought. Like a black cloud. A thunderous daily apocalypse. Eventually it will kill you.
As will anything. As could anything, really.
Marching against a cruel hard ground, the same day keeps happening on all the days. You make a stab upon the page and it exhausts your lungs. Slinking off into the shadow of evening, looking for the answer to the riddle of a life no one else can see.
They can turn you into anything they want. You should know that going in but you won’t because they are good at tucking away all the signs. You won’t see the red flags. There are none. The red flags are shiny coins you collect along the way. It’s clever, really. You seek them out yourself. Compliments. Praise. A glance. A wink. A dark sensation which excites and terrifies you. A touch. A touch. A touch.
And you can trade that shit in for prizes. A certain kind-of attention. A certain kind-of power. A certain kind-of status. But you don’t realize that you aren’t the powerful one, you are not the owner of that power so much as you need to collect it coin by coin, bit by bit, from them. You may acquire some currency but they are the ones printing it in their basements to begin with. They can turn you into a collector, a trader, a black market, an employee. Even the play is work-for-hire.
You learn to roll with it, though, I mean sure I was a slutty thing, hungry, bright-eyed, electric and alive for whatever could jolt me out of the plain old hell I was living as an every day life. Yes, it’s a game rigged against you all the way to the end but some of it’s fun. I remember a time when all I wanted was to give every guy in the office a hard on. Part of that was about me trying to understand if I had power, if I was desirable, because that made me important and not invisible, not useless, not a throw away. Part of it was just that I was bored.
Life doesn’t always present you with all the options. They bank on you not thinking for yourself and buying into whatever their vision is for you. Husband, house, a bunch of kids. Now you hear all this bullshit about the need for millennials to have more babies or something? In order to stimulate or maintain or keep afloat the economy. This is hysterical to me in the grossest, most disturbed sense of the word hysterical. Hilarious also in its blatant transparency that all along women are essentially just fuck toys or baby-making machines.
When you spend your life collecting the flashy coins, you do it because you think it will make you rich, and you are compelled to do so even though it’s never really clear what ‘rich’ means. Or could mean. You think it will somehow – and granted you hadn’t worked out all the details entirely – buy you safety, protection, leverage, allow you some sort of confidence or freedom to live your life on your own terms.
The trouble comes when you realize that the currency you stashed away, all the ways you used your body in the hopes of liberating your soul, was actually debt. There is no end, there is no way out because all along the coins were red flags and the red flags were worthless. So you just have to keep selling yourself.