I rub my lips with my fingers until the friction starts to really burn and become too much. I bite into the agitation and think about the taste of blood. I admire a new stem which sprouts from an old root buried deep in the rich dark earth. I read your words and select a few that turn my fantasies into physical reaction. I am a miner and a thief. I am shameless. I take everything I see.

Full moon in July: The Buck Moon. The male of the species in full-on growth mode, antlers jutting above the tall thick grasses, proudly pointed for all to see. The sinister supernatural spark in the eyes of the natural world. We train ourselves to un-see, what a nihilistic privilege. As I walk past the fields, there are three of them standing stark still, staring directly at me. Frozen in place with picturesque poise. Three bucks in a perfect row, roaming beneath the afternoon sun.

I take myself to the new hipster bar, it’s all craft cocktails, lavender infused ice cubes, homemade liquor. Organic or some shit but I like the way they pummel the actual herbs while you watch your libation take on a signature little life of its own. Give me something strong and interesting. Spirits and distilleries and the heated, aromatic subsiding of the edges which never seem to let up on their jamming me beneath my skin.

It’s a cooler afternoon than we’ve had in quite some time, a welcome relief after weeks of the oppressive kind of heat which can kill off a good time and scorch the living hell out of a pale complexion like mine. I find a burnt orange leather armchair by the open window to the street and sink myself into its buttery softness.

When I watch people, sometimes I wonder if their insides are as manic, as calculating, as curious as mine. When they smile do they mean it because so often it doesn’t look like they do. Here comes a shy looking girl with a short lace dress and long tan legs. There goes her fuckboy sliding his beard along her bare shoulder as she stirs her old fashioned. Oranges and spice and a goddamn waste of time.

I sip on my drink and drag my eyes across the full length of the hand-carved wooden bar. Remembering a thing you wrote once a while back, I pull up the notes app on my phone and type your words into the glow of my electronic memory. This life is so fleeting and so vacant. How rare it is to find even a few little bits of anything that cut through the static. Some shreds of the soul left in anything to cling tight to.

Kiss It Off Me

I wake up late because last night we got into the gin, though it wasn’t the gin so much as the conversation which blossomed forth. Juniper and trading secrets. Palms against flesh and kisses that somehow quench as they leave you thirsty for more. There is an effortlessness about you I wish I could inhabit. Crawl inside, live inside, never leave behind. I know you think I could do it but don’t on purpose, as if flicking off a switch. I promise you that if it were so easy I’d have done it decades ago.

In the dimness of morning haze, I pour my coffee and stare out the window into the garden. In the darkness, I can just make out the white cuts of feather on a single blue jay which is perched upon the handcrafted bench, facing the roses. Its long pointed tail stretches itself all the way out, up and down in a startled motion, before he flits off under a low bush. There are creatures of night and creatures of dawn and for the life of me I swear I’m one when I could just as surely be the other.

Nested in blankets and pillows in an upstairs room, I grab my laptop and begin to type a thing I don’t see coming but let unfold anyway. Writing is a bit like improv. You just get in there and say a thing and something else related until you look back to find you’ve strung a piece together like a dangle of party lights, the ones which lit up your backyard when you were a kid. Pink and orange and yellow together were always my favorite. Summer grass and shadow puppets. Knees in the dirt and eyes wide beneath the stars. Lanterns, swimming pools, fireflies. How can it all sail by so quickly. These are the thoughts of a woman of such an age as mine.

In the back of my mind is the idea of you. You are faceless, though not without form. A beautiful, majestic form, like something cloaked in the darkness of a thousand exotic nights. I try to write but my fingers think only of typing you into being. My fingers breathing into your lungs and your body even now. My breath at the parting of wherever you come from, far beyond the deadness of this ordinary place. Dawn cascading her ribbons of soft creamy light across my skin.

There is something about you I don’t think you even know is there but it wraps itself around me, flutters itself through me like the winged expression of a sensation forbidden, the pulsing threat of the catastrophic truth of it. Its existence, a burning impossible to survive. Something which cannot help itself but to rise, up and up higher and higher, into the waiting, sun soaked sky.

. . . . . .

The title of this piece is the title of a song by Cigarettes After Sex, with whom I remain obsessed.

You Can Feel It Coming

Staring off into space and imagining an ocean made entirely of glittering stars, I suddenly notice a squirrel darts right in front of me and I jolt myself alert to train my eyes on the road ahead. The same old roads to the same old tired places, mostly brick and mostly mortar and mostly one foot in front of the other until I can break free from the high glass tower and curl up with my notebooks and fantasies once again.

If they had any idea, they’d never believe it. It’s incredible to me how zero-dimensional people assume you are without thinking anything more of it. The good part about their ignorance is it makes it easy to hide yourself when you need to. People prefer it when you blend in because it makes them feel like the big deal they wish they were to feel important. I straighten my skirt and tuck my hair and smile and nod and write stories about the many ways to escape in my head.

Coffee in hand, I meet him out on the curb where the smokers are taking their break, never minding the blistering summer heat. The heat doesn’t faze any of us anymore, except for the new guy who just came in from Arizona and keeps going on some bullshit about the difference between this particular kind of hell hole and a “dry heat” which is apparently much easier to stomach. I have to take his word for it because I’ve never been and also it doesn’t matter.

My friend offers me a cigarette from his fresh pack and I politely turn it down. It’s been many weeks since I let myself indulge and for what it’s worth I’m trying to stay the course. It seems like in general if it feels good you probably shouldn’t and if it’s grueling you probably should, such is our fucked up puritanical culture where self-inflicted punishment and/or self-deprivation is the highest honor of all.

What I don’t think they get, though, is there is a toll all this posing is taking on us which is constant and invisible to the naked eye. There’s a current underneath everything like something is about to erupt. No. Something is about to finally break. Something which has been brittle and disintegrating for a very, very long time.

I suck in some second hand smoke as one by one the smokers peel off to head back into the manufactured shade of their air-conditioned offices. I sip my coffee and watch as the small personal jet planes taxi along the runway at the center of the wide open fields. Rich but not famous. High but not high enough. Never high enough.

In the corners of my mind, I can feel the way the life drains out of my system when I have to pretend I’m fine all the time. A restlessness like screaming blindly into the void in a dream. He crushes his cigarette into the sidewalk as we make our way back to whatever it was we were doing in the first place. Cuffed sleeves and neon screens. But there’s something in the way he drags his feet. Something in the way the side of his young mouth turns down when he gives me a parting smile. Something unspoken which tells me he feels it, too.

At the Beginning of the Ache

Death as signature cocktail. Destruction as punchline. Death as if anyone has any idea about what life could possibly mean without it looming off in the gray smeared distance. Hills rolling along for ages, fields and fields of silky patterned shifting shadow and light. I close my eyes and squeeze them tight.

They say it’s frightening how easily horror can become habit. How grim a trick that is and how we do it to ourselves. I know I’m not for everyone. I know I say the wrong thing even when I try to make it come out right but I don’t think we should trust that anymore, do you? What’s wrong or right. You know, they used to force the left-handed kids to use their right hand. How stupidly unnatural and what a waste of time.

I know I distract you. That’s probably why you like me so much, or imagine you do. It’s a softer way of hating yourself. You should know it’s how I distract myself that I’m most afraid of. Perhaps you should be, too, but I can’t think for both of us. Life is trouble enough. Idle hands are the Devil’s tools, did anyone ever tell you that? They told me. Fold your hands. Sit on them. Keep them to yourself. But never touch yourself, splintered seed. Only to groom or to worship or to serve others. Them.

I cut off my hands in the dark and place them in the silver box they came in. For good reason. For Christ’s sake. I am forbidden to myself. This is where arousal begins its slick slithering, its low slow burning. How the witch ignites herself. I fasten my hands to one another. Slide them along my smooth thighs. Pray to be forgiven.

It wasn’t the boredom they told me about that dismantled me. It was the rise of dark fantasy which has existed since the beginning of time. Sacred Eve. Hallowed Evil. Curled and coiled Serpent. It has been the sweet, succulent curse of creativity. The Womb. The magick of the Devil’s horned vision and its swollen press upon the vein. Mouths full of degradation, mouths full of the decadent fall.

We are out there in the world they painted red for us. Watching. Splicing together scenes. Personalities. Dismantling them, reassembling body parts, mind parts, ancient symbols and distorted themes. The trouble is they fed me lies about my power and I liked them. I nursed on them and bled for them and made them true. And now they don’t seem to like it so much anymore But I do.

. . . . . .

Trying to pull apart some things which are likely better left alone. But such is the strange cruel incision of my curiosity.

The Bad Thing

It can’t just be simple, right. Everything has to be sharp edges and jitters unless it’s knocking you out entirely. It’s the feeling that’s the matter and there’s no way around the feeling because you are only human and to be human is to ache. This we know. And yet we fight it with everything we can figure out to give us any kind of relief from the pain.

Taking a bunch of assorted wildflowers into my arms, I attempt to feel happy about their lovely wild purples, blues, yellows, and greens, even though underneath the skin my insides are as pushy as dark oceans in the midst of a violent storm. It’s like that some days, I guess. I pay the old man at the check-out register in cash. I muster half a smile and he does not bother with any at all. The heat is murderous as it soaks his filthy white shirt.

On the walk back to my place, I peer up into the hazy light blue sky, watch the thin fuzzy outline of a few stray gulls hovering on a pale summer breeze. Everything is too bright but the clouds are soft like a whisper thin linen, unfolding for miles and miles into the endless horizon. It is a strange existence when you can’t unthread the loneliness from the rest. When you carry the hurts of the entire world in the middle of your chest. It is a heaviness which seems to increase its burden around the sunniest part of the afternoon.

Into the cool of darkness. I slip the key in the lock and pull the blinds to nearly shut. I should take water but I take wine, walk to the center of the smallest room, lay the flowers on my bed, and run my hands over the spines of the many, many books which line the shelves. We are little shells of hollowed out soft-bodied creatures. We don’t know what we need so we try to act as though we know which void to fill. More is more and more is never enough.

Bring me your words, pour into me your thoughts, that I may break free of mine for just a while. We are nothing in the end but punctured, salted evaporations. Bittersweet desire and the way she curls her melancholy fingers around your heart. Begs to take you far away from home and you almost believe her because the tethers inside are loosening up, coming undone, undone, undone. It isn’t that you do the bad thing. It’s just that something in you which pulses with need is constantly aware that the bad thing knows exactly what it loves most about you.

My Hands Take the Shape of You

The windows frosted with fog, the air sweaty and smug, I lift my eyes toward the morning mist which hovers low in the trees. There is something about the very early part of the day, before it’s really the day yet. This time when you know the light is coming but even when it first appears it is so gentle as to almost be only a suggestion of any kind of time at all. Nothing is pressing yet. Everything is soft, hums with the possibility of elegance, and elegance only.

Lover is a soft word. It has no other way to be. It is soft in my mind and soft in expression on the page. Inside the poem. Rolling down off my tongue like smooth white sheets tumbling lazily from the bed. It has been quite some time since I held that word with any kind of care, any kind of tenderness.

It is ten years ago or maybe more, and I want to be so tough. I want to be the kind of invincible they promise I can be with the right lipstick and sky rocket heels. Love is for the needy. Fear does not exist. To think back on it now is a swollen type of sadness, nostalgia but also grief. The curtains sweep back into the room, gliding on the faint summer breeze, sweet grass and honeysuckle. The fizz of the dawn resting cool on my skin.

Before there was you, I would imagine myself without being able to picture my face, my hair, my body in motion, walking into a room. In my memories, I did not exist in form only in concept. But now I see clearly my own presence. I can see my body draped along the mattress, my face has its features, my hair has its cascading wave. Something about the way you see me, piercing like eyes of extraterrestrial nature. You observe with a keenness. An energy which penetrates, resists distraction with a pulsing, strange sort of ease.

I turn in bed. I reach for my glass of water. I remember you like missing someone I’ve never met. The image of you against my palms. My fingers along the hollow of my throat. My hands resemble the shape of you.

The Trouble You Keep

The trouble is that writers always think the answer to everything is in the words. It’s been a whole day and I have produced nothing at all. Not a single word worth saving or repeating. My head is creaky and my mind is entirely exhausted.

I gaze out the window into the summer evening, tiny bits of dust linger suspended and then sift along on the sheer breeze. For some reason the light does not bother me today. It is soft and kind where usually it makes me cringe a little bit. The deep green leaves on my many potted plants are turning toward the sloping sun.

Pouring my wine and swallowing it down like rain water in a dying place, I think about the calmness we each exhibit as the world around us rages and burns. Humans possess an uncanny ability, it’s terribly eerie really, to deny themselves to themselves. We monetize it, strategize it, optimize it. You flick through some social media bullshit. Advertisements. Boats for men and bodies for women. Flashes of a kind of alternate life which doesn’t exist except for in your head. Your head like a screen. Your limp limbs like poetic tragedy. Movies and distractions, sex toys and ‘self care’ as if we knew the self or remembered how to care. Glossy lips the size of grapefruits.

All the while underneath, you can feel the darkness sliding in your veins. Everything is on the brink. Life in all of its various junked-up forms, huddled on the edge of collapse. They say sleep disorders are on the rise. I read about the garden variety traumas. I read about the interworkings of the modern mind. We are research. We are blue clinical and we are aquamarine sterilization. Dressed and pressed and injected against the latest disease.

Another glass of wine and dinner facing the back yard alone. Chain link fenced in quiet dramatization. The trouble about the body is it will betray you when you least expect it. You were supposed to remain cool. You were supposed to extend your gratitude. You were supposed to stay patient and you were supposed to hurry up. But it’s all spinning so far away from you now.

Swallow your food, swallow it all the way down. Kill the bottle and swirl your dumb panic around and around. Gaze across the distance until another day turns from pale to crimson. Do what they tell you not to do but do it in secret. Just don’t let them see the way the invisible crush takes you out.

Fade to Black

You won’t remember so I will try to for both of us. Gin in the evening before you touch me the way you like to do at the end of a long hard week. Shadows falling along the walls as the dark caves in. I wanted to write something for you but I swear nothing would come. It was so many hours, baby, I just don’t know what on earth is wrong with me.

I can be sweet sometimes, I know maybe not often enough. The clouds grow thick and sink all the way into my bones until I am like a weighted thing, a pearlescent stone long buried among the wreckage at the bottom of the sea. You like a watery beam of light I can barely distinguish, reaching all the way down, down, falling all over me.

You tell me not to worry, everything will be alright. And I hear you, angel, I promise I am following every word you say. I watch your beautiful mouth move warmth around the sentences. Curves of breath which extend from the thickened groves of your exotic mind. I tug on them as if we were leashed together. Please give me more. I’ll do anything you tell me to, anything.

Somewhere far away from here the ocean turns black as the night swims in, velvet strokes of shimmering dark. There are surf sounds and there is freedom, I can almost taste the salt on my tongue. They will tell you you are only good for one thing but it is not true. My body is ten million ways to find what you are looking for, I promise you it is.

This little hand shining your shoe. This small soft frame against your palm, as though a painting you could hang upon the wall connected with hooks. Shadows now and again, nearly still, moving into one another. I glide like the open air, as though a portal, a vision, a river flowing out in all directions.

Isn’t it a funny thing, I try to tell you, as you stiffen my drink. This ridiculous life all around and through us, tossing us any way it pleases. I think about all the people who can’t imagine any other way to be and I feel sadness wringing my whole heart. There’s so much more to you and I. So much more we have yet to see, if only I could figure out the words.

I Can Give You Anything But Love

As he sings in his gentle androgynous voice, my head fills with images of women smoking cigarettes, lingering, touching their long smooth hair and gripping their tall microphones. Dagger nails and black lipstick.

He says he wants to crawl inside, he says he wants to fuck her slow.

Would you sit with me a little while, stranger clad in shadow. Would you listen as I tell you a sad secret that nobody else can know. About a little girl who could feel the thirsty flowers growing in the center of her soul. They grew and grew so wild until the cage of her small chest was full of petals soft as snow. The pretty press of passion, suffocates her slow.

Can you hear the static in my throat when I whisper to you in soft tones. It is the noise the cosmos makes when it is exhausted of its own gaping expanse.

You exhaust me, baby, in all the ways I need to be spent. Spend me like the money you wish you coulda made, pay me like a hooker, pay me like the rent.

I will make it flow. I will make you feel it, make you never wanna go. They will tell you about the blinking of the stars above, but they don’t know their loneliness. I can feel it when I fall for them from way down here below.

This world is so man-made, collapsing at its mechanical knees. Whatever happened to candy-flavored lip gloss and sky-pink lemonade. He’s much older than me, I know you think that’s wrong. But I love the way he loves me, love it when he takes me home and turns me on.

This life is so much darkness crying for the light. I take my own heart between my teeth and sink them in, sink them in sharp and tight. Your mouth is summer in the jungle rain, baby, won’t you stay all night.

When I sing for you, your head fills with flashes of bodies making love and making war. Shallow is the soul of this desperate hellish place. Fuck me til you have to leave, fuck me til it haunts me in my sleep.

Creatures of Madness

Life itself is full of craziness and at bottom utterly illogical. Man strives toward reason only so that he can make rules for himself. Life itself has no rules. That is its mystery and its unknown law. What you call knowledge is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life. – Carl Gustav Jung

It’s not that I cannot write a nice little poem about a sunlit trickling stream, or a lovely rose, or a sweet smelling meadow. Of course I can do those things. But even when I try, something drags against me. Something is always pulling me in the opposite direction towards darkness. It wants to be dirtier. It wants to be decay and destruction. Chaotic, sensual, and unpredictable.

Even in my gentlest moments it is there underneath. A kind of prickling reminder that no matter how hard you try to pave over something with perfect order, the wilderness is always gripping you back by the hair. It will never let you forget it’s out there and it’s bigger than you ever will be. It isn’t nice about things like girls are always told to be. It’s got fangs, is not afraid of blood.

And it’s not out there. It is inside you. You are made of the stuff you think you can run from. Maybe that’s why we run. Deep down we know that if we stop we will be right in the dead center of the hot pouring rain. Fear of being saturated with the madness of daily life. Alone with its stubborn unwieldiness . Sucking on the drench of unpredictability and the jagged patterns of the inevitable.

For me writing is a kind of handcrafted wilderness. You take the beautiful filthy chaos and you wrap it all around yourself, pull it, tug it, play with it until you blend together. Until it fits. It is not pretty or safe. It’s like slipping into some racy lingerie. Intimate. Delicate. Deadly.