is it time to let go?

Though it is just barely autumn here in the U.S., I have already found myself cozied up to more than a few bonfires on these recent cooler evenings. Bonfires in the chill of a crisp fall night, surrounded by the crickets below and canopied by the dark trees and bright stars above, are some of my absolute favorite things. The promise of change — bold, rich, deep, earthy, soulful transformation — crackles in the spiced smoke air.

Every cell in my body can feel it.

As if I am a collection of seasons myself, every year at this time I begin to feel the deep desire to let what is done be done, let what must die die, so that eventually, new life can begin in time. Recently this idea of burning the old to the ground has come up in articles and books I have been reading, as though the universe were reflecting back to me what is going on inside, helping me to make sense of this strange need to seemingly “throw it all away.”

After all, if you let go of everything you have created up until this point, doesn’t that mean it was all for nothing? No. In fact, it is the opposite. To let what is done be done is to dare to honor the full cycle of creativity: life, death, re-birth.

No one better described this feeling than a woman whose brave, difficult, critical and important work I have been following for only a few months but who has dramatically changed my perspective on the world around and inside me. Layla F. Saad is a Black feminist writer, racial justice advocate and spiritual thought leader. I could write for hours about Ms. Saad’s impact on me, and on the culture at large, but that is best left for another time and space.

What I most want to share with you on this Full Harvest Moon Monday is an excerpt from Layla’s recent essay, which she shared privately with her most loyal followers. She sums up exactly how I am feeling now, about setting myself on fire so I can start over. That letting go in order to move on is what is required of all of us at various points throughout our lives, and that does not mean our past was not vitally important. It’s just that what is done is done, and it is time to move on toward the next beautiful thing.

“Before the world sets me on fire for not living up to expectations that I agreed to because I was growing too damn fast and ignoring my heart, I’m choosing to slow down and set myself on fire so I can start over and figure out who I am, what I want and what my expectations are for myself. I am choosing to let who I have been and what I have done go, so that I can define myself for myself and move forward with an unshakeable foundation of clarity and sovereignty. And again, saying that does not undervalue or invalidate any of the work that I have done up until this point. But my heart says it’s time to take a different road now.”
  — Layla F. Saad

Sometimes what is next is deeper and therefore more painful. Often it is the most painful things which can teach us the most but only when we are ready to face them. I can feel that time is bubbling up inside of me. I sense the claws, cries, whispers, and possibilities of my own personal stories welling up inside. Stories I have never shared before. Because I was not ready. It was not time. But if it is now their time to come forward, I must honor that. That is the call of all writers always, to let what needs to come forward come forward, no matter what the reactions may be.

There is a secret wisdom in this work of writing which can only be revealed through the practice of doing the writing itself. By paying attention, by listening, by remaining alert and willing. After a while you learn to sense the turning of seasons. You can see it in the way the wind catches itself in the withering trees.

If I am to move forward in this way I must first take the time to go silent and search inward for the messages coming forward. To tune out the world and tune into myself. To burn myself to the ground in order to emerge a new season.

“That love voice.
She’ll help you find treasure. but she’ll guide you right into the minefields first.
   — Glennon Doyle

Are you feeling it is time to make a change of your own? Are there things you are doing that feel like they are dragging you under, that perhaps they would be better off let go of?

If you are going through this time of transformation as well, I understand. And I wish you well on your brave journey inward.  Burn, baby, burn.

 

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how to decide what to do next (in writing & in life)

If you have been at your writing, or whatever your artistic craft of choice, long enough you will inevitably face the following annoying (though, annoyingly important) question: so… what’s next?

No matter the milestone you reach — no matter how many books you publish or TEDx talks you give or exhibits you display or awards you win or tickets you sell or followers you gather — after all is said and done and the confetti is swept away and the empty champagne bottles are tossed a strew, eventually the quiet of endless future space will descend in around you and beg this one simple, maddening question.

Perhaps strangers will ask this of you, or fans or family, or you will simply find yourself asking yourself: so, what’s next?

Fear not, beloved, for here’s what. I came across an unlikely and absolutely brilliant answer to this question and it turns out that to actually find the answer we need to change the question. How terribly existential of us.

I follow the refreshingly insightful and wildly entertaining Ash Ambirge, author, CEO & Founder of The Middle Finger Project who has the cleverest, sexiest way of making sense of this inevitable crossroads. (I enjoy following successful entrepreneurs – and I’ve been watching Ash killing it for years – because I believe entrepreneurship is much like writing in that it is creative, innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, and you are constantly trying things that may or may not work.)

In her most recent article, Ash flips the question from “What do I want to do?” to “What do I want to change?”

And in that nearly imperceptible shift in how you ask the question about where you are headed in your creative life, or your life in general, your next step begins to come into much sharper focus.

Because as creatives, we are change-makers. By choosing what we want to create, we create the world in which we live. So… what’s next? Well, maybe start at the end and work backwards… how do you want the world to be different when you’re done?

 

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this is why we need you to tell your story

As I write this, it is so early in the morning there are still sounds of the night whirring outside my writing room window. It is pitch black. Crickets are chirping their low piercing cadence upon the silent dewy slumbering earth. This is my favorite time of the day to write. There is something especially inviting about writing ahead of the claws of the day. Your body is still warm and snug from sleep, and with fresh coffee in hand, you can crawl up close to the words because you’re ahead of the fear.

A good deal of writing is about fear and pushing past it to get to the other side to a more beautiful, more free place. Isn’t that what art is? What life is? What death and the burning threat of it, ultimately, is?

The further into my writing journey I go, the deeper I mine my own thoughts, ideas, projects, and experiences, the more I recognize fear as a guide. It is always an indicator — all be it a sharp and gripping one — of interesting things to come.

One of the fears that surfaces again and again for me is this (lame) limiting question: Who am I to tell my stories?  Why would anyone care what I have to say? Why do I care? The amount of mental and emotional capital I waste on jabbing myself in the ribs with this shaming technique is truly astounding. It cuts absolutely every beautiful idea off at the neck. It is a way of beheading a perfectly fine creative endeavor — that of sharing my experiences with the world — before it can dare open its imperfectly hopeful mouth to speak.

So this week I’m loving the idea of turning my big fear into big motivation by flipping the question from: Who am I to tell my story? To: Who am I not to?  

Who are we as writers, creatives, artists, humans, to hold back what we were given the tools and the gifts and the inspiration to offer? What else do we have, really, of any lasting value?

Maybe let’s stop killing a good thing before it even begins. Our writing doesn’t have to save the world or achieve massive wildfire success to be worthy of existing. It doesn’t have to matter to everyone else. It just has to matter to us. And we have to allow ourselves the space, the permission, to let the things we dream about creating come to life. To simply begin.

If you’d like to explore this concept further, do check out this article on OnBeing, by Elissa Altman, Writing and the Permission to Succeed: The Intersection of Art and Shame. Here, an excerpt in response to the all-too-debilitating question, Who am I to tell my stories?:

“‘Who are you to not tell them?’ a writer friend said to me. This writer friend — author of novels, memoirs, a short story collection — tells me that it is ownership, the acceptance of the fact that our stories make us who we are, that is the most complicated and treacherous part of what we do. When that ownership is withheld, we cannot succeed. When other forces say, no, that story is not yours, they have not only killed it and its place in your soul; they have killed you.”

We need your stories, dear one. We need them because the telling of stories is often the only way to own our lives, our selves. We need to tell our stories because that is what writers do, this is our work and our stories are the material. The telling of our stories is how we discover the many millions of ways they intersect with other people’s stories. This is the fabric of connection, empathy, collaboration, community, understanding. This is how we weave the past into the open palms of the present so that we can show ourselves to ourselves, and ourselves to each other. 

If you never tell your story the way you need to tell it, in your own creative mysterious voice, the world around you cannot grow any richer for it. And the truth is, this is all we have: the story of our lives. And none of this is permanent, none of it. So whatever it is that burns within you to create, whatever the story you have to tell, give it breath this week. Start today, don’t wait. Put it into a body, a body of art work. Watch. Listen. Let it amaze you.

In closing and until next time, I leave you with a poem by Mary Oliver called When Death Comes. It is one of my favorites, because I too want to know that “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement.”

Click here to read When Death Comes by Mary Oliver.

Click here to listen to me read When Death Comes by Mary Oliver.

As I finish writing this post, the first little bird begins her dimpled singing outside my window. As if to say with full force and affection: the night turns into day, the day will turn into night, and all things will come and go in time. Write your story, tell your tales, give breath to your song, for soon enough, you and I will blink, and fly, and be gone.

 

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on art, democracy, & dangerous play

There are a few artists and thought leaders I follow and read regularly a few times a week. No matter how busy my days or how disconnected I may be feeling from my creativity, there are a select few people I turn to again and again to ground me and at the same time who expand my view of the world and my place in it as a creative.

One of these artists is Maria Popova, author of the incredible treasure trove which is Brain Pickings. The amount of sheer love in the form of magnitude of work she does to curate her collection of posts on everything from art to philosophy, from poetry to astronomy, from activism to mysticism, is astonishing. And such an incredible gift.

Most recently I’ve been taken by this piece in particular in which she explores the writings of Iris Murdoch, why art is essential for democracy, and the ways in which art makes us “not only human but humane.”

“The sensuous nature of art is involved here, the fact that it is concerned with visual and auditory sensations and bodily sensations. If nothing sensuous is present no art is present. This fact alone makes it quite different from “theoretical” activities… Art is close dangerous play with unconscious forces. We enjoy art, even simple art, because it disturbs us in deep often incomprehensible ways; and this is one reason why it is good for us when it is good and bad for us when it is bad.” — Iris Murdoch

It is no secret in my country, in the USA, democracy and freedom upon freedom is under attack. It is dizzying and maddening to say the very least. These are radical — sometimes, often even, inexplicably complicated and complex times — and one of the things that pains and concerns me the most is the attack on the truth. The eroding of our ability to engage in intelligent, respectful and respectable discourse as a humane society.

As a nation, as a world, as a global network of artists, writers, creatives, connected ever faster and with more and more urgency, we are losing touch with the essentials for growth, nourishment, deep thought, deep commitment to our soul’s purpose of truth-telling, no matter how painful or uncomfortable that may be.

I call myself a writer. Maybe you do, too, or maybe you don’t. But either way, we are all contributors to language, we are all users and shapers of words and ideas, how we use them to build up or destroy, to honor our common dignity or to pick away at it.

So not just this week, but these days in general, when facts seem harder and harder to pin down and the very use of language seems to be broken, splintered, desecrated, dismissed, and left for dead, I cling to the strength and wisdom of artists and thought leaders like Maria Popova and her work. She is an anchor, a pillar, a lighthouse.

We need art because we need to stay in touch with our own humanity.  To remain humane, to remain close to compassion, understanding, knowledge, humility and grace we must all be concerned with how we use language. What we say, how we say it, why we say what we say, who we say it to, all of these things matter each and everyday. We are all speakers. We are all writers. Writing this world we live in, speaking our way one word at a time toward a more brilliant or more cruel existence.

“Any society contains propaganda, but it is important to distinguish this from art and to preserve the purity and independence of the practice of art. A good society contains many different artists doing many different things. A bad society coerces artists because it knows that they can reveal all kinds of truths.” — Iris Murdoch

Until next time, I wish you a beautiful week ahead.

With much love & gratitude,

Allison Marie

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forget about passion (& follow this instead)

As I sit down to write this, it is pouring sweet earthy summer rain outside my writing room window. The sky is wild and electric with sharp slams of thunder and jagged streaks of lightning. This weather, this darkened gray stormy weather, is my absolute favorite. Which can only mean we are off to a splendid week ahead. 🙂

I came across so many treasures in the past week. Each made me think more broadly about how culture affects our creative minds, look at my writing in interesting new ways, and challenged my assumptions about what art does for the artist as well as the observer. Here are my top three finds…

1. This article by Megan Abbott about Sylvia Plath and female rage. This is a topic that fascinates me. In countless ways, our culture perpetuates the outrageous idea that women are not supposed to feel anger, let alone express it.  Abbott references Sylvia Plath’s final collection of poems written just before her tragic suicide, Ariel. The poetry in this book burns, it spits, it bites, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.  In her signature cool, measured, sinister manner, Plath confronts and disarms at once.

“What mattered was that I—this well-behaved, compliant young woman—was writing from deeper, darker places, reservoirs of anger and frustration I’d always denied were there.” — Megan Abbott from her article in The Millions, A Mad Woman on Fire: On Sylvia Plath & Female Rage

2. Austin Kleon wrote a thoroughly interesting article Ideas in Cars, Honking, in which he introduces Brian Eno’s ideas about the balance one needs in creativity between surrender and control. He likens the concept to surfing, in the sense that one needs to have the skills (control) to perform the act of surfing, but also— and just as importantly— needs to know when to let go of control and surrender to the rhythm of the waves, to roll with their natural movement. Eno argues that in much of our art we have become too obsessed with control, and we need to focus more on surrender.

“Control and surrender have to be kept in balance. That’s what surfers do – take control of the situation, then be carried, then take control. In the last few thousand years, we’ve become incredibly adept technically. We’ve treasured the controlling part of ourselves and neglected the surrendering part.”
Eno considers all his recent art to be a rebuttal to this attitude. “I want to rethink surrender as an active verb,” he says. “It’s not just you being escapist; it’s an active choice. I’m not saying we’ve got to stop being such controlling beings. I’m not saying we’ve got to be back-to-the-earth hippies. I’m saying something more complex.”

3. This may just be my favorite interview with Liz Gilbert ever.  Here she speaks with the brilliant Krista Tippett in On Being, about forgetting passion, and choosing curiosity over fear instead.

“And it’s a little bit like — gosh, I mean, even the word, “passion,”
has this sort of sexual connotation that you’re — I’m much more interested in intimacy and in growing a relationship, than everything has to be setting your head on fire. And curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly, and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you. And it may not set your head on fire; it may not change your life; it may not change the world; it may not even line up with previous things that you’ve done or been interested in. It may seem very random and make no sense. And I think the reason people end up not following their curiosity is because they’re waiting for a bigger sign, and your curiosities, sometimes, are so mild and so strange and so, almost, nothing — it’s a little trail of breadcrumbs that you can overlook if you’re looking up at the mountaintop, waiting for Moses to come down and give you a sign from God.”

And so there you have it, my friend. A little snapshot of the artists and ideas that have kept me going this week. Until next time, I wish you an inspired week ahead, and thunder and lightning and coffee and books and charm.

With so much love and gratitude,

Allison Marie

Receive weekly creative goodies like these by clicking here to sign up to my mailing list, and I’ll catch you on Mondays. 🙂

“At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then — and only then — it is handed to you.” – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Want killer writing? STOP doing this.

It’s okay, I do it, too.  Even the most seasoned writers admit that they have to remind themselves over and over at the beginning of any writing project or piece how to start fresh. Each time we sit down to write is a new beginning and this is at once frightening and freeing. But the one thing we must stop doing if we want writing that is real, vulnerable, dangerous, true, meaningful and pulsing with delicious energy is being so damn polite.

Now then, I’m not suggesting you march out into the village square (village square?) and start screaming obscenities at innocent women and children, but what I am saying is we need to follow the forthcoming advice to the letter if we want to get anywhere worth going in our writing. In the brilliant and timeless treasure titled Writing Down the Bones, author Natalie Goldberg shares the secret to “burning through to first thoughts” which are “the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what your mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see or feel.”

The idea is that what lives on the surface of our manic minds are actually third and fourth thoughts, the things we layer on top of our true thoughts and feelings in order to make them more polite or socially acceptable. But the good writing—the beautifully dangerous, cutting edge, electric writing—comes from first thoughts. The thoughts that live closest to the bone.

So this week I’m challenging myself to follow these 6 rules from Writing Down the Bones for getting at my juiciest stuff. Are you up for it, too?  Cool, here we go:

This is the kind of writing I believe we need to get back to in our regular practice. The first thoughts, the ego-less raw truth of what we think and feel. My suspicion is that there is one thing that keeps us from really delving in and that is that we are terrified that whatever we put down, we are forever. That if we write something that scares us because it is so real then we cannot recover and move on from it.

But as Ms. Goldberg would also have us remember: we are not the poem. 

“There is no permanent truth you can corner in a poem that will satisfy you forever. Don’t identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black-and-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down and capture.”

In that same vein, I love it when a lesson comes full circle and you start to see signs of its truth around you almost everywhere. As I was contemplating this idea of burning past being so polite in censoring my own first thoughts and feelings, and the worry I seemed to have that if I wrote it down I had to be it forever, I came across this same biting truth explained by the fiery Janne Robinson. (Click on the photo below to read her entire invigorating piece.)

I adore the liberation in her first line, “A poem is a moment.”

So this week as you are writing and creating I hope you will give yourself the freedom to keep moving the pen across the page to get to the real stuff, the truth inside. To stop fighting what is within you and instead accept it, curl into it, become one with it.

And then, when the moment is gone, to just as gracefully and impolitely, move on.

Until next time, I’m sending you so much love & inspiration,

Allison Marie

Receive weekly creative goodies like these by clicking here to sign up to my mailing list, and I’ll catch you on Mondays. 🙂

 

on finding your flow & not holding back

As a creative, poet, and voracious reader, I read hundreds of poems every week. I came upon one a few days ago that stood out because it spoke so brilliantly about how we create our own containers, but we do not belong to them. Here is the poem by Alice Walker titled When You See Water.

When you see water in a stream
you say: oh, this is stream
water;
When you see water in the river
you say: oh, this is water
of the river;
When you see ocean
water
you say: This is the ocean’s
water!
But actually water is always
only itself
and does not belong
to any of these containers
though it creates them.
And so it is with you.

What I am thinking about this week is: how am I holding myself back in my creativity by boxing myself in? How do I need to more often remember that I am the water, not what contains it?  In so many ways over the years, I have told myself some version of: “No, you cannot write about that.” or “No, that is for other writers to say, but not you. you are not ready / capable / good enough / wise enough / clever enough / etc. to write about those things.”

I had decided I was a certain kind of container who could, therefore, only contain certain things. I was a river, so I could only write about river. What I did not realize was that I am the water, and my water was ready to be ocean. It wasn’t about defining myself, it was about flowing where I naturally needed to go.

If something is true for you, and it burns inside to be created, written about, painted about, sung about, then that is your water, that is your life and it will flow in its own way as long as you do not judge it or try in some (ill-fitting, unbecoming, overburdensome) way to define it by some arbitrary parameters you yourself impose upon it.

Our job as artists is not to become so worried about how to contain a work, or restrain it, or fit-it-in to what we think the rest of the world will accept or is ready for. Our job as artists is to be one with our own personal creative flow.

And when we are oceans we will be ocean. and when we are rivers we will be river. and when we are rain we will be rain. and so it is.

Until next time, I’m sending you so much love & go-with-your-flow inspiration,

Allison Marie

If you are afraid to write it,
that’s a good sign.
I suppose you know you’re
writing the
truth when you’re terrified.

—Yrsa Daley-Ward, bone.

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I’ve just finished reading The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward. A lyrical memoir about going under, losing yourself, & finding your voice. Yrsa’s ability to pierce the veil & get straight to the heart, to place her hands on the pulse of a thing, is astounding. You will come away stronger because she is vulnerable but never once flinches. An outstanding, haunting, gutting, redeeming read.

From The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward.

5 secrets to good writing (& a good life)

I must admit I am rather s l o w l y returning to reality after spending a full glorious week relaxing by the sea.  But as we were making our way home over the weekend, I got to thinking about life and writing, and how many lessons I have learned through my writing practice that have also been lessons I apply to living a good life. To be an artist is a special way of being, I have always believed that to be true, and the more closely we explore our creativity, the more life secrets we discover.

With that in mind, I thought I would share the top five ways writing has awakened me to a fuller, happier, more expressive life:

1. Writing has taught me the intimate, critical skill of listening. When we think of writing, we tend to think about a person who has things to say, and while that is of course true, it is equally true that in order to be able to say something worthwhile, you have to spend a great deal of time listening first. Listening to yourself, to your inner voice. Listening for the poem within so you can understand its message before you know how to craft her lines. Listening to the world happening around you, listening to other people. Listening to nature with your whole being. Listening by reading the works of fellow creatives. Listening longer and more attentively than most other people do is a beautiful way to cultivate a writing practice and a life rich in meaning.

2. First drafts are a lot like beginning anything that scares or intimidates you. The only way to break through the paralyzing perfectionism is to just keep writing through the mess to get to the gold. As Anne Lamott so brilliantly puts it: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” Don’t judge— just write. Beginning is the hardest part. You don’t have to know everything before you start, just start anywhere. Move. Decide. Jump in.

3. Both pain and pleasure can be wellsprings of creativity. Always approach them both with love and respect, and pay attention to how they manifest within you. This is how empathy is nurtured, and all writing, all art, all connection, all life, can only benefit from an increase in deeply empathetic humans.

4. Cherish the elders. There are people who have come before you and paved the way for you. Learn about them. Be grateful and humble in their presence. Spend time with them regularly because to listen and learn from their achievements, disappointments, triumphs, struggles, stories and traditions is a sacred gift. Their contributions are holy ground. There are certain secrets to life that will always be true. Learn what is timeless and honor it.

5. Good writing has its own rhythm and pace, so does a good, authentic life. Every writer, every artist, has her own unique voice and style. When I first started out writing, I was sort of taking bits of those I admired and imitating them, trying their styles on for size. Eventually though, I discovered my own flow and rhythm that felt like “home” and I found my own voice by becoming more accepting of my own limitations and talents. All of which is simply to say: Find your groove and let it guide you. You are already wiser than you think.

Also? Coffee. Even if everything else falls to dust, coffee is really the secret to the good writing and the good, good life. 🙂

Until next time, I’m sending you so much love & gratitude eternal,

Allison Marie

Receive weekly creative goodies like these by clicking here to sign up to my mailing list, and I’ll catch you on Mondays. 🙂

// Here Is The Flood (Audiofiles) //

 

 

This is an excerpt from “Here Is The Flood” — one of the opening pieces in my upcoming book Luminae.  You can click play to hear me read the full piece.

I find that one of the hardest things to do is to try to speak about why I write. For me it’s about going deep enough within to a place where one can find the breathtaking beauty in pangs of sorrow, and terrible longing even inside joy.  Whenever I write it seems more and more is revealed to me about the paradox of what we are as humans. Though I know I’ll never be able to grasp it in full, I believe somewhere in the search for myself lies the truth of who I am. It is that elusive truth which keeps me coming back to the page.

I hope you enjoy this piece. I hope it sparks something creative inside of you.

Luminae will be available on Amazon beginning November 15th.

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// Wax Figurines (Audiofiles) //

 

 

As the wind on the other side of the house spins dry leaves into playful funnels, I pour a glass of red to take the edge off the cracking in my worn out limbs. When static picks at my insides, I think about how the passing of time can do strange shadowy things to the air in an empty room. I remember your arms reaching for me under warm wool blankets like rays of twilight radiating from behind the gray pale hills in winter. The way the coming season tasted cold in my throat just before your lips made silver puddles in the curves of my fading summer skin. We bent like swans in a secluded cove, beauty is more beautiful when it moves back and forth between two creatures, felt but unseen.

Lighting tall candlesticks made of honey and wax, I swallow the darkness in bottles to help sleep through the pain.

I miss the way you used to hold my eyes with yours so gently that to look away felt like a thousand little claws tearing in my heart. The heavenly weight of you, once pushed against me now hangs burdensome within.  I notice I am clutching my hands so tight there are marks in my palms, I’m trying to hold us together though we have long been torn apart. You linger in a place which grew so loud inside me it screamed itself alive, built its strangled silence into faces on the walls.

The scent of heady incense stays nestled in the curtains, the bed sheets, the windowsill I run my fingertips along just now.  Splinters, glittering stars, little fires spitting heat. Spirits hollow, sing; your ghost in the bird wings scattered at my feet.

There are traces of you in my reflection, your bones carve out the shallow in my cheeks, the stubble on your chin still scratches the length of my collarbone before the dead mornings like knives rush in, bleak. I saw you. I could almost swear but what’s the use. When the heavy snow came down you were red fire in the smoldering paprika sky. My lips burn swollen at the thought of the flame of you. I wish you could still feel the blood pulsing expectant in my wrists, your hands upon my neck. I wonder if you still do. If the places in the mind which ring the mystery of longing exist someplace safely in a place far beyond my name.

But the days have grown short inside of me and midnight falls too easily now, bleeding and so full that when I close my eyes I forget everything I had ever been told about what it means to love, what it means to die, what it means to touch. I still hold you close without thinking and bury my tears into your memory before I lose the grip I once had on what is real and what has disappeared. When will this madness lift. When will all the ache be gone.

The wine is plush and smooth as silk as it glides over my tongue. How is it that as the world grows darker, you grow luminous. How is it that the dead still breathe in dreams. When will those little brown leaves finally let the tired north wind rest in peace.

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(*If you click up at the top there you can hear me read this piece.)