Deviant Behavior

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.

Eventually You Break

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.

Prick

He’s talking to me about the cannabis, its strains, effects, origins, flavors, cost, the whole bit, as I flick my cigarette and watch the elegant curls of smoke glide past my face and lace up into the lush spring afternoon air.

The trees are full-on canopies of thick green now, and everything that can burst into silky bloom has all but done so. I watch as a little bird falls from its nest in a bush and lands, feeble and disoriented, into the smooth stones below. The wings spread but it cannot take flight. As I wonder if I should intervene, the baby bird curls up into a ball a third of its size and sleeps, just like that, breathing super fast. Panic? Trauma? Protection? Drama. Life kissing death, feathers and beak and sunlight bobbing beneath a wide blue sky it may or may never get to see.

I sip my coffee and let be what will be. Humans are always inserting themselves where we do not belong. I don’t need their expectations and I don’t need their delusions. I am not all sugar and soft pink folds. Life is shit sometimes and I can be hard as rock when I want to be. You can ball up and sleep and they will think its sweet. You can curl up and die and they will continue to dump on you all their reasons why you had it coming but couldn’t see it in time.

Everybody always knows, don’t they.

It’s too hot for spring, which pisses me right off because I don’t want summer. Not yet. I hate the heat especially at the peak of midday, it’s obnoxious the way it heaves you around, wrings you out with sweat and all that. All I ever wear is black, maybe that doesn’t help. I trace the outline of the angel wing tattoo on my left arm with the ring finger on my right and nearly burn myself by accident. I should really quit. I should really pay attention.

There are little insects all around on the concrete, little punky ants racing around carrying crumbs from some biscuit or cookie someone left on the ground. They are so tiny that the bits of crumb look like monster size boulders on top of their minuscule beady black heads. They are so tightly marching together they look like many bodies inside of one body. I can’t tell if they are jittery because they are starving or because they are just busy.

I fight the hunger in me most days, beat it back with caffeine or nicotine or whatever else. Until the shaking gets too much and my heart flutters against my chest. Have you ever read the confessional poets? No, I mean the great ones? The ones who do not give a fuck about spitting out the real shit that needs to be said? Or screamed or shrieked or moaned or bled onto paper?

It’s tough to do that kind of thing. There is an art to it. To spilling your guts and coming off mighty instead of pathetic.

I tell him I want to try the pink moon variety. I want to be sedated as I sniff the calming scents of citrus, clove, and lavender, and feel like I’m gliding into a nothingness which makes the pricking stop.

Pricking?

Yeah, you know. The way the pins and needles of the day take stabs at you non-stop like life is daring you to give it all up but you keep shoving back against it the best way you know how. It hurts and it’s exhausting. And pushing back against the quills of the thing only makes it worse.

I Know It’s Hard to Do

Time is running sheer all around us now, sweet thing. Look me in the eyes. I know it’s hard to do, to look into the love which you are terrified you don’t deserve. Like an abyss, like a falling which is blind, which is without end. Soft like forgiveness. Heaven and hell all around but not within reach. You are falling at a speed incalculable, which doesn’t matter of course, but it grates on you that you do not know. Cannot know.

Stick figure. Paper cut eyes. Six hundred and sixty six ways of playing God. Go ahead, taste me. Go ahead, drown yourself, end it all like a murder, like a suicide. Love and death. Like you can handle it.

Promise me this: you will carve out a space where only you make the rules and then you will kill the rules off one by one. You call the shots. You say the things which need to be said. There is a voice you carry within you which is beyond this world and its fixtures and fixations. Your voice, your world. The likes of which they have never heard. Couldn’t possibly fathom. But you know of deeply, intuitively, instinctively.

Words carved into your palm, onto your lungs. Poetry etched into the way you move your curved body, like a breathtaking storm. Like a tornado. Like destruction. Like a deep oceanic sound. Haunted. Hunted. Charted. Mapped. An invisible vibration of color, of darkness.

Please understand, no one told me any of this. Not directly and not anyone I could trust but somehow I learned it along the way, or I knew it as far back as the beginning. No, no, not of me but of time itself, of life itself. The dawning. Surely you know what I mean, even if you don’t believe in anything other than beginnings. That’s all God is. The Devil. Something penetrates, wets, agitates. Some kind of life swims in the womb full of the heavy blooded blackness. Death all around. Death as beginning. Beginning as a terrible light.

Please pay attention, my love. Note the number of times you think about time. In the coming hours how often you worry about the hours. How you split yourself, turn into yourself trying to make the calculation. You pour your coffee. You turn the key in the ignition and the day is too clear and too cold and the windows a fogged frost, thin.

Traffic as time left. Red light, green light, the turning of the eternal, tires grinding skin.

You say you do not pray but you feel the sickness in your bones while waiting at the intersection. You open the glass doors into the glass building from which you stare out at the swaying spring trees as the boss needs and the phone rings and the hollow man in the side office is talking at you in a voice you cannot understand. You type a letter you delete.

And somewhere far, far away from where your life is breaking into silent pieces blown away on the stale wind, you are standing in the dead center rush of the middle of that intersection, twenty five lane highway as the cars and trucks blast past your tiny fragment frame, like standing among the wildflowers, you are soft, supple, drugged, alone. Let the sunlight take you from here. Let the beams of little dust light all around you make like a thousand points of potential impregnation.

At the beginning is the end and so it is, too, the reverse. Look into me, sweet thing. Life as blessing, life as curse.

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.

This Will Be Our Drug

Across town, he lies in bed in an upstairs room in the darkness of early morning, trying to write out a poem entirely in his mind. He is anxious, sweat seeps from his bare body into the soft white sheets. The trouble is he can’t help who he is.

Sleep doesn’t come so easy. Writing helps but that, too, seems elusive these days. When your mind runs in every direction, the subject of your work is impossible to stabilize. He is always somewhere else and he is always racing to get there.

The world spins desperately slow. If only he could rush it along, get to the next thing. He doesn’t know when he lost his nerve. When he let himself off the hook for building a life of adventure, wonder.

It’s in the words, he knows that much. Every castle, every love, is in the words he is dying to write if only the shaking would stop. If only he could stop the self-abuse. The sex, the drugs, the drinking, the smokes. It all wears him down, gets him off, drowns him out.

There was a girl once but she passed away long ago. In dreams, she stands off to the side of his visions, motionless, eyes as wide as the many turning moons which orbit his head like a halo.

He can sense what she feels by the shape of her mouth. That mouth, that sensual sinister moving mouth, how it would thrust him right out of his mind.

One by one the stars burn off like so many glittering deaths. The cyclical nature of the universe is the pulse in his veins is the measure of sanity throbbing in his snuffed out brain. Night always gives way to morning. And the words do not stop not coming.

Peeling off the covers, he rises to peer out the window into the first swellings of dawn. Across the sky, a pink ribbon, faint like smoke, a shifting mist of rose water over the crystal blue horizon.

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Photo by Shannon VanDenHeuvel

Moth to a Flame

Lying back in the grass, her body is covered with butterflies. A thousand tiny spiracles breathing out and in against her warmth. A quiet host of countless wings, still wishing she could fly. Away from the cold earth high up into the evening sky, higher and higher until with her own eyes she can read the dark secrets written in the crumbling caverns of the moon. The mysteries of time and love and eternity all revealed before her, resonating with a part of her which had already known, which had always known, but she had forgotten so long ago. All the many truths which had been taken from her, returned. As the night drapes over her, the tiny creatures take flight, leaving her one by one, flittering off into the ether until she is covered only in darkness. This girl with the flashing golden nocturnal eyes. Out here away from everything, nothing ever questions its own instincts. To hesitate is death, to doubt is a lethal compromise, a final and devastating mistake. The natural world respects not greed but vigilance. The songs of her soul in the blackness of midnight number more vast than all the stars strung out against the sky and she knows in the way the night wind is moving across the field that she belongs only to herself. That the choices she makes from the depths of her heart are all that was ever meant to be. Her body, her bones, her skin, her hands, her lips, are all the ancient texts ever written into being. In her nakedness, she runs freely, she swims in the moonlight, she presses herself to the roughness of trees, the coolness of rocks, she carves her name into the fallen logs by the stream. Her footsteps are offerings upon the earth, her scent left swaying in the willows. She takes herself in a bed of blood red roses, blooming in the dark, pulsing with the heat of a thousand suns, breathless. And by the first pale lights of the promise of dawn, she’s vanished.

// This Chaos It Suits You //

Morning rain is gentle and steady upon my face as I huddle into myself, thankful finally for a day without sun. For the most part, I find daylight too harsh. It interrupts my sense of what is beautiful. Who could I ever tell that shadows help me find the most dazzling silhouettes of light.

My mind is wandering (which, really, sounds too calm because my mind, she whirrs and trips over herself and cascades to places I would rather not say). I do not speak the way I am supposed to, I speak too much like fire and ice and volcanoes. I do not understand the language of the stars which birthed me. I do not speak words bred of tenderness anymore without turning this tongue into blades.

Rewards become punishments.

To sink is to swim.

It’s now and it’s never and it’s always in-between.

If I lose track of who is winning will you still let me in? I get so tired of keeping score. I get so sick of counting doors along hallways which never seem to end.  (What are we counting for?)

All these floors hidden underneath the scaffolding around your heart, all these thick windows which slip away from me fall and crash and descend as I am cut, I am bruised, I am a shattered face on the inside of the muse.

But if I look deep enough, there is you. And you just keep rising up and up above dark clouds and I wonder why we try any more to place these blistered feet upon the ground. Will you run, will you stay, will you break as I have. Who will save us now when the walls are oceans splitting in half.

As I write this, all the lives I have since let go of drift off and I remember a time when I mistook the perfume of your secrets for nourishment. You who collects hearts in mouths and swallows their tears one by one, slow.

You the one who digs the claws of adoration in like furious flashes of heat across the summer lightning in my veins, you could have me and it breaks my heart you don’t want me anymore. When exactly does that shift? What rock face crumbles away from my self disclosure against which you suddenly decide if this is madness it suits me, not you.

And somehow the chaos appears to reduce you only slightly.

And somehow I have become the one fading from view.

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