There are people who believe it is their fate to lose, that somehow they have inherited a life of loss. That all good things will be taken away from them so they don’t get attached to anyone or anything. I never really thought about it but if I did I suppose I could understand and even relate. It’s everyone’s fate, after all. To lose everything eventually, to be left with nothing but memories and even those can be cruelly snatched away like grains of sand on the winds of time. When I look at you I can see the struggle inside of you, your smile betrays the sadness in your eyes. And that is the part I want, that is the part I recognize like looking into a mirror. I have dreams sometimes in which I am trying to catch something I never do, I try to make it somewhere my mind wants to be but my body won’t move fast enough. And the whole time, I am reaching for something I never quite come to grasp, though time and again I come so close to it I could almost tell you what it is. There is a kind of loss in which something you had is taken away. Goes away, somehow. Then there is a kind of loss which happens on repeat over an infinite amount of time. It is hollow like the sound of a ghost as it passes through you to the other side, a breath sucked out slowly across an absence of tongue. It takes up an infinite amount of space and no space at all. You can feel it like lead inside of you although it is invisible, it is always sinking though it never touches bottom. It is the loss of something you never quite had. It is a feeling of perpetual stagnation, even while moving, even while intending to move. Perhaps some fill this void, this emptiness which contains weight inexplicably, with religious beliefs or promises. Perhaps some fill it with cars or money or women or men or fetishes or art or family photos on Facebook or plastic fame on Instagram. Perhaps with jobs or careers or titles or power or greed or sadism or masochism or nursery rhymes. They fill it and fill it with anything they know how but it can never be filled, only denied. Only ignored. Only feared. But what of the ones who sit with it, holding the hand of a clock without hands. Who instead of turning away from the ache, worship at its dimmed singular altar. Who touch the weighted face of the weightlessness and caress it into their very souls. The ones who mourncherish the loss of everything before it has gone. Who taste and seek the melancholy, the anguish and seduction of her sorrow laden song. I suppose we are the poets, and we name the darkness home.
He was a freedom I couldn’t quite see myself inside, though I wanted to. I wanted to so badly. But people can’t change their souls, only their habits and it is here at the feet of the dying of hope that I sit and wait in silent sadness. It may sound strange but the words I write to him appear in my mind as I imagine typing them, his image superimposed behind each one as if the words can see through him or perhaps he can see through the words. I doubt it, though, he’s never been one for attending to words. I don’t speak of the things which matter most to me anymore because they don’t matter to this world the way certain other, flashier, glossier, neater things do. I am too deep, too idealistic, too difficult. I get so close I forget to breathe. I can see how this would be true so I’m not sure how to react or respond, aside from the drinking and other invisible tools one uses to quietly, diligently dismantle one’s existential hangups from the inside out. What matters. What matters more. What shouldn’t matter to me but does, simply does. They speak about being yourself. They hurl it your way like a whirling blade, a cruel and punishing threat. Be yourself, as if I don’t spend every waking second trying to figure out exactly who she is and be able to hold her hand through everything in spite of everything else. Lighting a cigarette as I duck under an overhang to avoid the rain which is now torrential, I tuck into my coat and begin questioning my life choices one by one as they parade in front of me like a manic marching band, decision after decision obnoxious and loud. When I write I am not myself. When I write I am more myself than I am anytime or anywhere else. Did you know that gazing up in adoration at someone else can burn your eyes blind and scorch your skin raw? True story. Did you know that power can destroy innocence because beauty is not far enough away from sin to keep itself in line? You watch me. Feast on my words and spit out what you don’t like. But I? I open my mouth and my veins and my chest, and I, well… like it or not, dirty or sweet, angel or demon. I have to take all of it.
All dolled up in leather and lace, matte red lips and heels so high I’m half distracted with worry about teetering from the slow drip of my martini, I’m stood before you wondering what you think of me. I hate that I care but here we are and I’m unsure of so much that’s gone to pieces in this world but you, with you I forget everything else and focus. You exist somewhere dead center inside the line between aphrodisiac and sedative which perhaps makes no sense, this I’m willing to concede. It has been a while and by that I mean we have never been, but the way you pierce me with those eyes, electric, sharp, blue as God though I’m not a believer. As you speak I skim my hand across yours and I wonder if you know it means I would suffer for you. I would swallow the sin deeper and deeper until my veins expand and contract with the delicious agony of you, gliding smooth as silk across the melt of my tongue. You don’t say too much so I say just enough to keep you guessing. I like the way you maneuver inside the words you choose, the way you move into and out of me, tasting me, testing me. Daring me. Turning me round and round in your prismatic mind. As clever as you are, I can feel the heat rising in your blood. I see it in the way you sip your whiskey while your fingers cradle the glass. I can see your cool fingers upon my neck. I can feel your fingers unfastening the dread I carry around with me and all I can do is pray for you to continue. Please don’t stop. I crave the hellish tease of you. I suckle upon the torture which hangs suspended between knowing and not knowing the devious things you desire of me. Speak for me, coax me, breathe into me. Underneath my skin, my lungs are tender wings, my heart is a fragile race against a time when it is at last too late. Underneath the words I offer, there beats the pulse of the words I hide. Only a poet can touch me there. Only a poet could ever know the mysteries which glisten and burn within this darkness which calls me home to a place where good and bad no longer exist, only slow pleasure, only slow death, and only the holy have mastered the way to manipulate the difference. You finish your drink as you trace the curves of my body in silence. Only a mad creature of the word could ever penetrate these depths, hear the quiet beg of my aching reasons why.
Tired and punchy due to a hangover I immediately regret having inflicted upon myself, not only because it’s a weekday but also because I have to sit through some hellish kind of corporate training during which the instructor is cracking jokes no one finds amusing except for him, I sip stale coffee and wait out the worst of it. The trouble isn’t me of course, it’s you. It’s you and it’s the rest of the world which sucks me in and weakens me until I am reduced to less than half of myself and thus reach for anything that will numb what can only be described as thinly veiled panic at the idea that there really is no way out of this absurdity aside from death. And yet. You are a drug that gets me high, you are the opposite of numbness. When you touch me anywhere I feel it everywhere. When you kiss me with that defiant mouth we spin in circles until each molecule floods with dark sensation. The rain was heavy last night as we walked the cobblestone streets of an old forgotten town by the river and as I am telling you some story about being a kid collecting lightning bugs in jam jars, I notice the way the street lights bend their necks down somberly as they shine dim yellow light into the wet depths of the pavement. The whiskey begins to burn in my stomach and I briefly wonder what I am doing here fucking off while the rest of my life is so heavy, but being with you feels like all the weight has been lifted from me and tossed carelessly out across the water. Some people are freedom and some are an escape and the problem is I can never seem to tell the difference when I get too close. Ducking inside the crooked foyer of the restaurant, we sit ourselves at the fine mahogany bar and I take in the strange atmosphere. The building is nearly four hundred years old and absolutely plush with crushed red velvet, cigarette smoke, and ghosts. There is something sultry yet sad here in this dark hideaway place, as if the people are sinking along with the uneven floorboards, as if they know their lives are meaningless but they smile anyway. Despite it? Because of it? Doesn’t matter. I haven’t smiled in so long it almost feels like defiance. The overly polished wood and the piano player tucked into his shadowy corner, the warm hushed sounds of people dining, glasses clinking, candles, laughter, song. Naughty secrets whispered into lovers ears as they blush. Crossing their hearts as they uncross their legs. There is a woman in a black evening gown cut so low I can see the perfect curves of her ample breasts rise and fall as she breathes a Sinatra song into a microphone while leaning her sparkly hip against the piano. The eyes of the crowd seem to stroke her and she laps it up like warm milk, they pet her like a cat as she sways, slithers and purrs. We order Manhattans with rye and walnut bitters, the drinks far more sophisticated than the things I imagine doing to you in my filthy mind as we sip them.
We tell the same dumb stories and repeat the same old lines but something inside of me seeks for the magic in the mundane, the surprise inside the necessary. You’re talking too much about the things you can’t stand and though I don’t blame you, I’m tired of listening to the sound of the way the words drag me down. Think bigger, stretch it out until you can swim inside it freely. Take your clenched fingers and pry them from their bone white death grip around what they tell you you’re about to lose at any given moment and just breathe. Running barefoot up a grassy hill in the heat of summer we tumble and laugh while trading fiery glances, drinking from the wine you brought along with some biscuits and fruit. Romantic and trite, we are wishing it could be this way forever as we get drunk because the reality of our situation while beautiful is also too painful to absorb outright. Straddling your lap on a flannel blanket, we kiss until I slide off my shirt and let you suck my nipples, perky and splashed in broad sunlight. Pleased at the sight of my breasts so smooth and natural among the flowers and butterflies as your hand moves eagerly up my thigh, I lay back upon the soft ground and run a hand through my cascading hair, spreading it out all around me like rays of shining light. There is an earthiness to the airy scent of these fields which makes me feel like I finally belong. The clouds are an invitation to a better life way up in the sky, I secretly accept and float away on the breeze, higher and higher, until my insides fizzle and I merge with eternity. As you insert two fingers my arousal warmly welcomes you and I open, pink and juicy before you. Desire, greed, hunger, holiness. Feeling dizzy with wine and pleasure, I watch as little birds soar and swoop, tiny sudden chirping movements among the underbrush. Afternoons like this are made for the dreams they forbid us to dream and we refuse to waste a single drop of intoxicated bliss. We were never meant to be together at all or maybe there is no such thing as fate but perhaps in this life you take what you can get and hope for the best. I write about a sadness in my bones which never seems to quit and you write your name in bright lights inside your mind. You give and you get and along the way there is sweetness if you can learn to let it in with open arms, and then find it in yourself to just let go.
Who will save you and by that I mean who will entertain you as your cursed ship sinks down into the bottom of the sea. Show me everything about yourself that gnaws at you, turn it all inside out so that the blood is fresh and the skin is crawling, corrupted, sweetly acrid for the vultures. And they are out there, baby, vultures, vultures everywhere. You write about the snakes, you taste the venom in your mouth and spit it down onto the page, how hard you get off when everything falls so beautifully, so desperately apart. At least it’s genuine, at least you can draw a perfect straight line between good and bad, telling everyone you meet how kind they are for watching as you cry beneath a teardrop moon looming larger than this life which seems to swallow you whole at every turn. Never say never and never say die but the thing is, I have died so many times it’s hard to keep count when the lights are this bright and the things they say, and the things they don’t say but you can hear the way they cut into your bones anyway, all add up to nothing in the end. Did you think I was sent along just to please you? Little bit of a god complex, have you, darling? Figure I was silently fervently grateful for those thin slivers of your affection? Think I didn’t see it coming, don’t know your kind? Did you think within me beats one single solitary buttercream heart? Not even close. I carry a thousand hearts within a thousand hearts, each pulse a new sensation both familiar and unfamiliar, and I am contained within them all. Try to remember this. Try. We don’t want love we want self-inflicted mutual distraction and the more I say it the smaller we become. The trick is not to need the screaming in the fibers of the nerves to stop. The secret is to not wait until the words are there to write them down. It’s hard sometimes to see things clearly when you’re looking up at the sun from so deep below the surface of the water. The view gets blurry and your sense of depth perception is thrown off. The body gets heavy and it’s awfully tough to breathe. But I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty. The sky today is blue as ice, the most menacing and cold I have ever seen it.
Inside the dying trees are many circles which mark their ages. We like to think it’s one ring per year but I don’t know if that is exactly correct. Makes it easier though, doesn’t it? To have a rounded out story like that to tell so that we can sound enchanting as well as intelligent. Using this rough calculation, if I were a tree I would have forty one rings around my neck at this very moment. I wonder how tall that would make me among the other trees. I once read that trees have a sensory map within them, that in a sense they can feel things, and feel each other. If a tree is sick, another one who is close by will wrap its roots around the suffering one in an attempt to share nutrients. It would seem that even as humans try to destroy the trees, the trees continue to try to save each other. They also try not to grow too much higher than the trees surrounding them so that they can all share the sunlight equally, thus ensuring they can all stick around and spread themselves nicely but not obnoxiously and grow. They want to be forests. They want to be together in big clumps because that is how they feel healthy and good. I’m not sure what we can learn from this but it seems to me the trees know something we have forgotten or maybe we just get exhausted of it. Connection. Sharing. Not trying to be taller than everyone else so that you get all the light and the rest get the rot. As I sit in the coffee shop smelling the fresh dark roast beans and steamed cream, I see the people on their cell phones and laptops, clicking away in bathed blue glow. Double espressos and knit scarves. Black leggings and nose piercings and finger tattoos. Somewhere out past the crowded street with all the traffic, a train whistles by on its squeaky steel tracks. People getting out of town. One by one, each customer enters and then leaves. I look up from my Patti Smith paperback and peer out the frosted window. There is something I cannot name which is busy eating away at my insides. I wonder if it is illness or just nerves as I listen to the coffee shop indie music softly interlace with the voices of the people all around me. Football games and cancer treatments. New puppies and all inclusive island vacations. Marriages planned and marriages severed into divorce. Funerals and Valentine’s Day, little red cinnamon hearts. Pink cupcakes and red roses and grade school dances in sticky gymnasiums. And maybe it’s me and maybe it’s nothing, but I get this feeling sometimes that I just cannot shake. That everybody’s talking and nobody’s saying a thing.
You forget the quiet in things. The sweet silence of morning as the coffee brews and you stand watching out the window as the squirrels scamper and flit across the frozen ground, all the little feathered bits of nature give chase inside the gray and waiting air. Up in the sky, a soaring formation of dark shadowy geese, crying out their direction, making clear their shriek of intention. High above, the clouds are rippled like an oil painting, soft washed hues of bluegrays and whites, pregnant with a snowfall which promises to quiet this little town in blankets of glittering cold. You forget the magic in being alone, the solace of trusting yourself, being with what you know, being aroused and empowered by the beating of your own wild heart. I think of the women who have spent so much of their time in rooms by themselves. Each a candle dancing, melting, burning. Little silent lights all over the world in their quietude. The arch of their stories bending toward sensuality and disruption. The flick of their elegant fingers across the laptop keys as they give life to the lifeless, breathe holiness into the mouths of the wretched, the forgotten, the ugly, the shamed, the broken. You forget what it has taken for you to have come this far. You forget how much of your soul you have dared to touch, to caress, to bare. But on this intimate morning, of no particular significance to anyone else in the world, with the words alight in your veins and your mind ablaze with decadent dreams, the parts of you which had forgotten, now suddenly remember. You remember all of it, the gruesome and the glorious. And your spirit becomes a magnificent mirrored pool, reflecting the fathomless depths of the reverence you deserve. And for a few moments, this mad life feels good all wrapped around your sacred bones. And just as a little crack in your mind begins to grow, just as your fear threatens to impose, you look out across the distant sky, as it begins to snow.
He strokes and strokes me endlessly, refusing to penetrate, until my mind is blank and racked with desperate need. Still he denies me, keeping me on the brink until I am slain with sweat and tears, until the darkened room, the heat of the air all around me, all inside me, blood, bones, walls, tongue, bed sheets, floorboards, fingernails, turn to molten liquid, I become a prismatic volcanic ocean, my head, my lungs, my entire being swallowed fully beneath the surface of wave after punishing wave of shining explosive ecstasy. Body still quaking, I turn to see my tormentor wears no face, his hands now invisible, I sigh and release him. He vanishes from view just as my skin transforms into finest silk.
I’m sat by a window in the corner of a room with which I am unfamiliar, it is bare and there are no lights, only three candles flickering softly on the floor next to a full length mirror leaning quietly upon a shadowed wall. The window is tall and the sill slathered in ivory paint, no doubt once pristine, is now flaked and chipping all over itself. The glass which is dirty reveals the fog of my shallow breath. Though I am not physically tied to the chair, I am weighted down by a mysterious sensation of sunken heaviness, rendered immobile. Down below in an old stone courtyard where tall marble statues are contorted into various obscene poses, a collection of dead brown leaves is swirling in a mad cyclone along the pavement like small children chasing each other around a schoolyard at recess. Faster and faster they whirl about, some little ones catching flight and drifting up to my window before soaring and dancing high above the treetops on the wind. I watch as they flutter, adrift against a stoic white afternoon sky.
I am racing to catch a plane which never arrives. I forget one bag and then another and then lose my coat and then cannot find my way back to the terminal after a search for my passport proves unsuccessful.
He lights my cigarette in a strip club bar downtown, steps in close and slips a hand into my blouse for a feel. Not here, I plead, biting my lip and looking up into his magnificent sapphire eyes. I’m flushed with embarrassment, sensing the pulsing crowd, their exposed bodies and cravings so close I can practically taste them in my mouth. But just like that he removes my top and rubs a whiskey drenched ice cube back and forth upon my lush pink nipples, making them hard and erect for all to see. In my fevered state, my head falls back and I glance up at the ceiling which peels apart like an eyelid, revealing the expansive dome of velvet night sky. “I will imagine you Venus tonight and pray, pray, pray to your star like a Heathen.”
He writes poetry about the moon drifting toward empty space, the words are vacuous but he insists that by repeating them they become something most profound. He talks about everything he encounters as though it were a treasure special to behold and while I find him mildly charming I am also exhausted by his nauseating lack of awareness. All of these people who surround me all the time, pecking my eyes out of my skull with their excitement over things which not only do not matter but which will destroy each and every one of us in the end. I attempt a search for meaning in it all but the only thing that really stirs me at present is watching in aroused fascination as an extremely talented pole dancer slides her ripe young body up and down the metal length of sleek steel while whipping her hair from side to side in front of her smooth gratuitous nudity. It might be vulgar to some but to me it’s honest and honest is powerful all by itself. So many lies, so many lives distorted and discarded. We deny our pleasure and our animalistic nature all the while behind the moral high ground is the money and behind the money is the greed and behind the greed is the systematic degradation of the human spirit. It’s enough to make your head explode but only if you are paying any bit of attention which I’m now firmly on the fence about in any case. Stepping out into the rainy evening, I light up a cigarette and stare off into the distance as the concrete buildings slowly melt into the street like so many tears down mascara stained cheeks and the skies turn from pink to gray to bleak. I wonder how many words I have written, what they all mean and if anybody’s counting. Does the devil keep score and if so, what for? We’d like to think we’re made in the image of something more beautiful than we are. We’d like to think that someplace in our frightened battered hearts beats the whisper of the gentle breath of god. But salvation is only for some, and not others. Some are worthy and others are trash. We cry for love but just when we get close, we nail it to a tree and divide up its garments while we drink bitter wine and laugh. There are those who tell you what you want to hear because that’s how they get what they think they deserve. Their affection is a shimmering cloak of round cut diamonds, but it’s not so pretty underneath.