Read You Like a Book (audio)

You are saying all the things they let you say which are none of the things you are actually thinking. The pleasantries are turning my stomach and all I want to do is scream to end the bullshit, but this is life, isn’t it. Holding back. Shutting down. Slipping off. Turning away like a celestial body hurled far out into the nothingness of cold vacant space.

Desperate for any kind of flicker of honesty or truth, I take your hand and lead you away from the rest. We walk through the tall trees alone, sneakers dusting up along the dirt road which swivels and twists down to a wide open lake, rippled with soft waves and dotted with the heads of black geese off in the distance. You drop my hand and shove yours into the pockets of your worn out jeans.

I know you are going through some shit you don’t want to talk about but underneath it all, you desperately do. Without a word, we light up our cigarettes and joke about how we really should quit as the evening sky slides slowly into dark. The crickets are buzzing louder in unison as the little fireflies begin floating out from under the pines, climbing higher and higher into the midsummer air.

It isn’t easy, is it, angel. To tell me about these twisted desires of yours, the ones which they forbid but which burn so much light into your mangled heart that sometimes it makes it hard to breathe without tears streaming down your tired face. There is a monster inside that is sharpening its teeth. There are voices in that head of yours. Visions full of ecstatic dreams I pray to the heavens you will one day let me see.

. . . .

Sometimes it feels like there’s a story unfolding inside me. Something about a boy and a girl and the darkness which compels them to get together and do strange, beautiful things.

Haunted Girl

You write about me but I have to live it out in real time. You think you know me, think you own me, think you have it all on me. Arrogance. Poison aphrodisiac. Sun god in your own smoke-stained mind. But your lips can be red like berries when you want me so bad the sweat beads along your strung out neck. I want you, too, angel. I promise I do.

It’s dark in this thick wooden room. Dark when the charcoal clouds roll on in and take out the wrath of the seething skies on a blackened earth none of us deserve in light. You tell me eternal, infinite light is contained within the pierce in my eyes. All of it. Electric and screaming. I ask you where the warmth has gone. Can you see that, too, baby, tell me can you see it?

I slink from the leather chair to the hard wood floor, press my thin palms against the grain. I am imagining what it would feel like to extend my limbs outward in all directions, to be pulled apart like an ecstatic star. The Devil at my throat. The angels at my breasts. Why do these dreams come cloaked in nightmares. I talk to you in a growl. I try to tell you what I see. It isn’t light, sweetness, it isn’t light.

It’s not a fixation if it’s part of who you are. To be made of something is not to cling to it. You don’t have to. It’s all over and through you.

Do you know how many times I have tried to shake this feeling of ruin? To build myself into something which can overcome it? I look in the mirror. I shade my eyes black and unfasten my hair. Pale fingers along a pale jaw beneath the blood red moon. The fantasies begin to flash like animals at night. Stray far away from here.

You pull at the hem of my dress. You think if you could just get me wet all the other fantasies will disappear and I’ll be yours. Make me safe, make you safe. But they are not like ghosts, I’m telling you because ghosts evaporate into thin air. My fantasies are bones. The wandering keeps me vibrating along the edge, leaves me desperate. But never just leaves.

The Dark Part of Truth

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.

Body as Decoy

My obsession loves me, maybe you hadn’t noticed. Or maybe you thought I was out of my mind to allow myself to be so crowded with greed. Although I will tell you this: it is not my fault. He found me on the street and I got turned around. He noticed my sinister stare and how I had been disturbed in a way that made me curious.

Perhaps you cannot see the way he sucks at my nipples, tweaks and flicks them until the shocks turn me into a humming, like tuning forks, before ringing the body like a bell.

It’s subtle, it’s subtle, like feeling up a girl in the back of a cab at 3am. Like a voice on the phone tries to finger you by using your hands.

I am a strange sound, crackling through dead leaves. I am on fire, on display. We like to look. We let them look. We are given a role to play and we want to play it well. I am reading the scripts hidden under a bed which is engulfed in flame.

He places his fingers upon my neck until the blood flutters against the skin, soft warm pulse, slender collar bone, traces of withering, feathered breath. I follow his fingers and crawl to the ground. I follow instruction. I eat the words and quiet down. I follow the flow of the motion of his perpetual eyes.

The coffee was hot at the office today before it turned cold, it was never going to be any good either way. How was your day, it was stale and I ate it. The traffic was crushing.

My mind is a bruise; my chest is a knot at the back of my shoulders. I swell and swell with unpeeled need.

He is edging me until I can no longer form a proper response, until my throat can only moan. He is taking me out toward the drowning I asked for myself only to leave me there, treading, treading. I feel divine like a maniac. Take me out past the body, out past the mind, out past the hurt, out past the pain.

Into the bluest blue void. Into the wide open heavenly sky.

Under his attentive coaxing, I am hot ripening, fruited sweat.

Like a soft wet pill on the smooth thick tongue of his fingers, I sway like a pendulum, beat like a metronome. He commands the music; turns my body and soul into song.

Body as Razor Blade

The trouble is she says too much but she can’t seem to help it. This is why when he looks at her with a mix of twisted lust and dare, she looks down at her feet and feels her insides shudder. A little hit of desire in her veins and a little bit of fear in the pit of her mouth makes her swallow the whiskey, makes her flick her long brown hair to the other side of her fragile face, so that her hands won’t reach out to touch what she is not supposed to touch.

It’s later and then it’s later still, she’s in her bed alone bundled in blankets but the shaking won’t stop when the night wind kicks up and rattles the window pane. As the first slashes of heavy rain cut across the glass, she can see the street lights blur, glowing pale yellow orbs hovering at the corner by the baseball fields where she met a man who couldn’t give her what she wanted because she couldn’t name it even if she tried, but the look in his eyes told her he might give up everything he had just for the chance to make her his own.

People can be addicts and people can be addictions. People can turn to chemicals and fuck up the signals in your brain which send messages to the heart: stop, don’t stop, open, close, sigh, kick, swallow, kneel, beg, disappear, run. But who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want to build it all up just to rip it all down and start over once again. Maybe nobody does and that’s what scares her most when she is alone with her darkest thoughts. Maybe she’s fractured, somehow disturbed in a way no one else could ever understand. Her insides not like a flower to penetrate, more like a hand grenade dying to explode.

In the thick dark clouds which gather high above, she sees the face of someone she used to love but who left her faded as a shadow when he died. It can be a terrible feeling to place a piece of one’s heart into the finite hands of another when no one can promise that you will both make it out alive. He used to speak about her like she was divine, like she was a whisper on a breeze skimming soft across the burning sun. Untouchable. Ethereal. Impossible.

People can be lovers and lovers can be storms. Electric, sudden, and gone faster than lightning when it strikes a dry summer field. Piercing the heart, setting it on fire, and then raining, raining, raining for ages.

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.

Chemical Baby

We get so high that I keep inviting someone into the conversation who isn’t there. He’s laughing because it’s just a wrought iron chair and I’m laughing because I don’t like to leave anyone out, and somehow my sudden grave concern is that this empty chair feels rejected. My heart is as big as an ocean and my mind is as free as the little birds which flutter about from tree top to tree top in the sweet evening air.

As I lay back and watch the colors of the sky change, he tells me it’s all in my head and I tell him to shush because when he talks I can’t hear the electric peaches and lavenders as they spread out like gigantic fuzzy fingers across the wide open expanse. I take a drink of his tequila while he’s off to get a beer and somehow the start of a new season doesn’t feel so bad at all.

Somewhere very far away, but not far enough, disease grips the young and old people alike and snuffs them out one at a time or in droves all together. Death is always around the bend but we cocoon ourselves in a secluded garden and play like kids who haven’t a care or an inkling that whatever this is which surrounds us in natural beauty and majesty is nothing more than a breath away from near catastrophe if not complete and total annihilation.

Feeling the effects of everything I’ve done to escape the world around me, I think of a man I once knew who was so hell bent on looking on the bright side that he fell right into the trap they set for you from the beginning. If you peer too long into the abyss it will swallow you whole, along with your entire sense of reality and what’s left of your magic. I don’t want to stay and I don’t want to go and I want both at the same time. I want the warm smooth grass under my feet all day and the stars above to come kiss me on my soft pink mouth one by silvery one each night until my entire body explodes into celestial galaxies which expand and expand forever. For each light, there is a light gone out. For each new beginning, an ending of impossible wonder and exquisite pain. And so it goes on and on like rings of fire blazing out into an endless night which you cradle in the very palms of your hands.

Edibles

Be horny like an impressionist painting on the wall of an orthodontist’s office. Expect your lover to know what turns you on without telling them or even hinting at your actual needs in the slightest. Actual advice dished out in a modern culture magazine by some young thing who probably also advises against washing your face too ‘aggressively’ or eating anything with real sugar in it. Horny is trendy but only if you do it right. How gruesome. How hilariously stupidly entertaining, and yet even so, I can remember gobbling up advice like this from wherever I could get my hands on it in my younger days.

Such is one’s eagerness to get her desires met but only if she doesn’t have to fall on her face in the process. We learn our tricks. We learn the trade and all the while our lusty, blushy, pulsing youth is fading into oblivion as our nerves rattle us near into bits over nothing but mass marketed bullshit.

Sitting down on a park bench which overlooks a little man-made pond, I slip my phone back in my bag and sip my cappuccino as I take in the brightness of the early spring afternoon. It feels good to have nowhere to be but as is too often the case, when there is nowhere you belong, you can’t help but wonder if there is someplace you should and then you start missing it. A little rattled by the assault of so much light, I put on my dark glasses and allow my mind to take my senses back to the memory of the beautiful darkness of the night before.

He wanted to kiss but it wasn’t in the cards. I don’t kiss because it feels too much like suffocating and he knows this about me even though I know we both think it’s insane and possibly more than a bit tragic. Not discouraged by my neuroses, however, he persisted in asking me to dance for him and so I swiveled my hips and threw back my hair and I did it all with grace and rhythm and you would have thought I was some exotic gypsy queen or other worldly creature entirely, in spite of the butterflies clattering in my stomach.

It’s funny what you will do to feel alive. To feel desired in a world which makes you feel degraded and commodified at every turn. As I watch the little kiddos place their tiny homemade sailboats into the water, I see them cheer with delight as the breeze moves their carved wooden vessels smoothly across the top of the pond. One kid with messy red hair and a tee shirt which fits like he’s growing right out of it before my eyes, finds a jumping green frog in the grass and follows its zig zaggy movements off into the rocks, forgetting all about his painted yellow boat which is now tipping almost all the way over sideways against a gust of wind.

In the middle of the day, the sky is as wide as eternity and the trees are frothing with gorgeous pink blossoms, their musky scent a delicious kind of melancholy warmed by the high sun. As the poets all across the world dream their dreams, I wish I could live the life of every single one, just for some hours, just for a haunted night to crawl inside their minds and watch what dirty secrets make them twitch. And suddenly the muscles between my thighs begin to flex with a tender kind of ache, wetness sweats succulent across my soft tongue, and I know for certain that never once was I ever turned on by anything at all in the orthodontist’s office.

God the Body

Smearing my chest with cool thick mud, he makes the sign of the cross all the way down to my navel and across my breasts before using me the way he likes to do when we both need a way out. The strangeness of the crooked stars high above and his crushing body pounding over mine makes me wet but I am used to my body betraying my mind by now. Still, it makes me struggle and gasp which only serves to hustle the whole scene along until we both find our animalistic release.

It isn’t pretty but it’s honest. This is what I tell myself as I straighten up and light a smoke from his torn up pack which falls out of his coat pocket along with a gold wedding ring. He thinks I don’t know but only because he doesn’t think much and because he’s afraid that if I did I would care but I don’t. I’m eighteen and he’s forty six or something close to that but none of it matters to me because I’m on my way to much better things and he’s got a wife he can’t stand and a career that’s killing him, a slow kind of seedy death one stale-ringed Styrofoam coffee cup at a time.

Pulling my knees to my chest, I suck in the smell of summer grass and gaze out across the deep black lake which is sunk low at the center of the park where we trespass in the darkest hour. Watching as the moonlight pools and dips on top of the rippling water, I think about how tight my body is, how satisfying. I spread my legs and admire my pale limbs as they soften into the fresh blades of sweet green weeds speckled with dandelion and periwinkle. A girl gives up her body to keep hold of her mind. It is a sordid trade but nonetheless expected. A shit bargain which must be made in order to play the game, which has fuzzy rules that only make it more intriguing. Smart girls like puzzles. Good girls like pleasing.

I pick up a stone and carve my name into the dirt. I lick at the tiny cuts on my knees and talk to myself like I know what I’m doing but something inside is seething and feels like if I turn toward it for even just a split minute, it will morph into a giant ocean wave and swallow me whole. I am strong, though. I keep it in. I push it down. I am the ruler of the tides.

Little fireflies are dimpling the silence of the night air. I can see them glowing gently as they multiply and surround me like sweet honey droplets, amber coordinates of a heavenly guidance system. The more I look, the more I see.

I finish my cigarette alone with my winged companions and wrap his flannel around my small shoulders. He just sleeps it off.

Let Go of Your Heart

Far away from here, there is a beautiful sprawling countryside and a wide open field of wildflowers, flickered with tiny butterflies as they tumble and flit from one stray bloom to another. In a soft patch of new spring grass, she makes heavenly love to me with her wet succulent hunger before she disappears, right before my eyes, becoming a kind of magnificent bird of prey with pristine ivory wings, which vanishes into the slowly sloping sun.

Dazed by the smooth heat of passion and the sweet afternoon air on my skin, I assemble my hair into a towering mess atop my head and wander barefoot toward a stream. It is cool underneath the dappled sunlight falling through tall trees. In the back of my mind there are images of terrible scenes. The horrors of war and the suffering of every person, animal, helpless creature, all collected in my veins. They run with me even when I am not running. They are swift and deft, they endure and they deflect and they outwit, outsmart, outlast the evil screeching at their backs.

In my womb, unrelenting circles, cycles, tides, planets, and orbiting moons. In the center of my palms, the middle of my throat, there are voices which have persisted throughout all of time and eternity. I have made of myself a home, a sanctuary, a temple of sorts, for them. Have you ever known a haunting you couldn’t bear to let go of? Have you ever felt the pulse of an unexplained, inexplicable thing coursing through you at such a breakneck pace that it quickens your breathing even as you sit trying to keep still?

I realize this could be a manic dream, but couldn’t all of it be, all the time? If everything they ever told you, fed you on, bathed you in, was a lie meant to rip the spine right out from under your skin, then what would you choose to believe if you could and why? What if within you, deep deep down, grows something so soft it is untouchable, so wild it is unstoppable, so bright it is unconscionable.

Lying on the forest floor, soft cool moss beneath my strange little head, I stare up at the fading pale peach sky far off, high above the leafy green tree tops, that endless dome which cups every monstrous beast and every last faint ripple on the waters all over the globe, every transgression, every sweet molten ache. I lift a slender finger up into the invisible evening air which surrounds me, open my mouth and say her name as I trace it into the wind which promises only to blow all of us away.