Crawling out of bed and into the light of the soft pale moon, I sit at my open window gazing up at a gray swatch of clouds moving past. The truth about me lives somewhere deep inside but all my life I’ve had to try very hard to get to it. You might think as a writer it would come easily to me but it doesn’t. I circle too much and never seem to land. Hovering above the world as if on a string, I observe the madness down below and lose my sense of self, which is disorienting because your sense of self is all you ever really have in any given moment. Thinking of you while smoking a cigarette, I tap the ashes into a small flat tin on which is painted some sort of an exotic bird, blue, purple, and golden feathers draped long and elegant over the branch of a pink flowering tree. There is dirt in the beautiful and magic in the filth and no one showed me the splendor of that sultry paradox more vividly than you once did. In your hands I became the muse, in your gaze I became the apex of all creation. You had a way which was sinister, devastating, alluring in its dark command. You could reduce me and raise me up in the same heartbeat as you took me to the edges of my very being, pushed me just to watch me fall. Cut me just to admire my pieces, one by one fondled my vulnerabilities under dim shadowy light. How I worshiped the devil in you, how the smell of you ruptured me sweet. But even in bad dreams the clock strikes twelve. My richness turns to rags and the empty streets begin to twinkle in the gray morning silence. In every lover a tsunami swells. People change and bodies disintegrate. The way of rebirth is the way of destruction and history is bound to repeat itself even despite our best intentions.
Never enough time to do what you want, you trade a flashy smile for a few moments to yourself in peace. Is it you or is it them or is it the encroaching of everything that has you short of patience with the mundane? You know the stares and the blankness which surrounds you so well you can see it with your eyes closed. It curls around you as you sleep. You feel it in the backdrop of the dreams you once had which you let fall away like tissue paper snowflakes disappear on the warm cheek of a woman you once knew to whom you no longer speak. All of those wishes for grandness, for a way to touch the sky and dance along the edges of a drunken starry night. The way your hands slid easily up her shirt and encircled her perfect milky breasts as she straddled you in the backseat of your beat up old hatchback, Radiohead, vodka, cigarettes. One at a time your tongue thick upon each nipple, your teeth sunk deep into her cinnamon flesh until you felt her pulse quicken as she sucks at the empty air for breath. You with your angry bloodshot eyes and she with the tight body ticking like a clock. With every thrust you make her count backwards from the end of innocence. Now there is no time like the present and there’s so little hope for a future as the world drapes a noose around itself while humming holiday classics. Sinatra, martinis, pantyhose, mobsters, excess. And for all the elegance she displays somewhere out there where you’re not allowed to be, you can still feel her trembling skin underneath your fingernails, taste the sweetness of her heavenly folds as she lay open, blossoming before you, begging for you to stop. Not to stop. The mind is a dangerous place without escape, your addictions spread inside your bones like wildfire. And as you walk along the streets the swollen winter sky turns from white to gray to black. The traffic lights blinking are signals you’re sending to your own tired heart. Walk. Don’t walk. Yes, no, maybe, try again later. Go, baby, go, and don’t you ever, ever look back.
If you had one hour what would you give to it? If you had only one day where would you live in it? The sky is underground today. My sighs are long and low and grieving. It is a regular day in an erratic time where we seek solace in other people we cannot touch. I touch the light as it suffuses through my window. I wear a sundress in the middle of winter. I touch my own hands with the colors fading in and out of the dreams I’m escaping to. I once knew a man who told me I tasted like poetry, pressed my long hair back behind my neck. I looked at him with hope filled eyes, told him I know I don’t belong here as the tears came flooding through like knives. If you found an hour falling like rain, would you open your mouth and drink of it. Would you like to watch me dance, would you like to know if I can still laugh after all this is over. I would like to know one thing: what are you reading. What are you doing behind that door, behind those eyes which gaze out across an empty landscape. In the story of my life I weave moments together and then pull them apart. I look myself over in the mirror. Place my necklace on the dresser. Wait for answers to invisible questions. I am afraid to move. I am afraid I will burn. I am frightened of the things I need. To say. To need. Across the globe, they climb into their beds. The stars blink anonymous overhead. I could write for you, would that change anything? I could read for you, would that make it easier to breathe? If I had an hour what would I give to it. If I could only say the words. If not poetry, what else is there to be.
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.