Creatures of Madness

Life itself is full of craziness and at bottom utterly illogical. Man strives toward reason only so that he can make rules for himself. Life itself has no rules. That is its mystery and its unknown law. What you call knowledge is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life. – Carl Gustav Jung

It’s not that I cannot write a nice little poem about a sunlit trickling stream, or a lovely rose, or a sweet smelling meadow. Of course I can do those things. But even when I try, something drags against me. Something is always pulling me in the opposite direction towards darkness. It wants to be dirtier. It wants to be decay and destruction. Chaotic, sensual, and unpredictable.

Even in my gentlest moments it is there underneath. A kind of prickling reminder that no matter how hard you try to pave over something with perfect order, the wilderness is always gripping you back by the hair. It will never let you forget it’s out there and it’s bigger than you ever will be. It isn’t nice about things like girls are always told to be. It’s got fangs, is not afraid of blood.

And it’s not out there. It is inside you. You are made of the stuff you think you can run from. Maybe that’s why we run. Deep down we know that if we stop we will be right in the dead center of the hot pouring rain. Fear of being saturated with the madness of daily life. Alone with its stubborn unwieldiness . Sucking on the drench of unpredictability and the jagged patterns of the inevitable.

For me writing is a kind of handcrafted wilderness. You take the beautiful filthy chaos and you wrap it all around yourself, pull it, tug it, play with it until you blend together. Until it fits. It is not pretty or safe. It’s like slipping into some racy lingerie. Intimate. Delicate. Deadly.

Bet Against You

If you could only find a way in, you could turn your life around. Find the words you have needed to say for centuries. They’d just be hanging there from the lush summer trees like ripened fruit.

But to find a way in you’d have to be able to bear to look at your life straight on. This is excruciatingly hard to do because of all the lies you’ve told yourself over and over about movement, freedom, power, and how death will never come for you. But you want it. You want clarity so badly. Cognitive dissonance. You seek it and kill it off simultaneously. Mother and maiden and murderer.

The sweet liquid honey of tempting fate just to feel your body melt until it disappears.

I pull a white stone plate from the cabinet and set out my meal. I eat in small portions. I am thinking about ways to run. I am happier than I deserve. This part cuts closest to the bone. Happiness is a knife. Trust no one who seeks it out on purpose.

The brutality of light. This is written on a thin slip of paper which is tucked under my sleeve in a dream. Poets in their dark studies all across the land. Poets as pools of midnight star stuff, floating like dead fish. Eyeless, tongueless, shapeless, helpless. What on earth do we think we know so well we should write about it.

I am starting to notice patterns in the jacked nature of human interactions. No, that’s not quite right. I have always noticed them I just couldn’t piece it together in a way I could articulate. Shy kids in corners. The heated rage of rejection. Silent humiliation. The patterns of destruction and chaos which are woven into the words we speak, our communications and how hilariously stunted they are.

People open their mouths and now we can see all of that. Now we have to see the lips and teeth moving and watch as the mania shrieks out in bursts of static.

I speak with the harried waiter. He is young, jittery, impatient. The sun is hot upon our faces as thick globs of water slide down the outside of my glass. All of the candied colors of summer inverted and splotching down onto the pavement. Is this where we run to to get relief from a kind of pain which sizzles underneath everything. Strangers everywhere. Afternoon martinis. Cigar shops. Lingerie boutiques for the rich and sexless. Fancy young women with their small dogs and their meaty boyfriends.

Behind the door into our fraught little delicate lives is a kind of intimidation which lies in wait. False moves and false starts. Tension wires. A bird in a cage on a leash. What you wouldn’t give to make a couple of fine life-shattering mistakes.

Faces Come Out of the Rain

There is a face in the mirror which is not mine. Not the face or the mirror. An old hotel and multiple bottles of cheap wine. In the restaurant bathroom washing my hands. I have seen a ghost who wears my features. She holds my jaw with hers, gazes into me sadly before she goes.

She was only passing through, on her way to her own funeral, she stopped for a drink. She was beautiful because she was empty, she could walk through walls.

A woman lying naked on a crumpled bed, legs spread, eyes dead. Sharp white sheets and blood stains on the ceiling. In the faint light she floats inside the ocean of her own saturated mind. There is a fantasy carnival life she leads down in the city. Walking beneath the yellow street lamps, carrying her young tight body beneath a long thin coat.

Red is the light. Fire’s alive and it burns all night.

A man at the old hotel bar, mahogany and the smell of wet dish rags. You can still smoke in this place, it still smells like cigarettes and the bile of loneliness. Dust in the withered carpeting which runs wall to crooked wall along the slanted floor. No windows and no doors.

There are creaks beneath her stockinged feet.

“Would you take a walk with me,” she says, “I don’t want to die here, in this run down place. Take my wrists, dangle me over the black water.”

She. doesn’t know why she needs a man to hold her away from herself. Tiny creature with wide silk eyes, flies through the window into the dark blank night.

She. glides through walls.

She. shakes and rattles her smooth skeleton bones. She. dances slowly for a bad man in a small pink room. Her fine pale body is a shadow in the cage of the door frame. He smiles as he watches the little doves on her hips swivel and twist.

Nothing is holy in this place. Red wine in plastic cups and smoke stains in the rugs.

Little girl, little one. On your knees, now, there’s a good little one. We’ll be alright in the end, my sweet. We will be, sooner or later, in the end.

. . . . .

Visions after sucking down over 300 pages of Jim Morrison poetry. Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of his death at the age of 27 in Paris. We were both born on December 8th. He once said if he could do it all over again he would have just been a poet tending to his own garden in solitude.

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.

This Is Our Rules

For the first time in I don’t remember how long, I trace rum raisin lipstick onto my bare lips. Liner to match. I sketch in around the scar on my bottom lip which I despise but friends tell me they wouldn’t even notice if I weren’t so distracted with complaining about it. I had missed lipstick, it turns out. I marvel at its blood-like color, how the stain of crimson makes my blue eyes flicker, and toss my mask in the trash.

It was my third birthday. I was so excited for my party that before the festivities began I was jumping on my little frilly bed in my little frilly dress even after my mother told me not to about a hundred times. Up and down I joyfully bounced until suddenly my tiny little foot slid right off the edge of the mattress and I slammed my sweet little face into the bedside night stand. My teeny tiny lip hit the corner of the damn table straight on, blood everywhere. Screaming and tears and no party save for the cluster of giant Cookie Monster balloons somebody brought to the hospital.

Because I was so young and my lip still had lots of growing to do, the place where they sowed me up isn’t quite aligned correctly now that I’m grown. And there’s a thin white line where the lip came clean off and they pieced it back together. They did a fine job considering, of course, but it bugs me that there’s an imperfection.

Lipstick makes me look like I never jumped on that bed like a rowdy little cookie monster fool.

I read an article someplace the other day about how now that people have had a year of isolation in sweatpants and their boyfriend’s tee shirts some of them don’t want to go back to wearing bras or shapewear or any such constricting bullshit. Not jeans or belts or anything that digs or resists a hearty meal. More power to them, I say.

There’s another guy though, I forget who he writes for, but he can’t wait to tuck himself back into the skin-tight dresses, stacked high heels, and two-hour makeup and wig routine that is the fabulous artistry of drag. More power to him, too, I say. Do what the fuck you want.

We now know perhaps more tangibly than ever that life is frighteningly short and, to a good and terrifying extent, entirely out of our control. Wear the thing. Don’t wear the thing. Enjoy your own body while you have it.

I’m slimmer now than I have ever been since I was in my twenties. I like the way clothes fit when I’m thin. I like the way I feel like a svelte feline animal slinking around. I guess it’s just fun to me. You can’t win with people though, man, they side-eye you when you’re overweight or underweight or you lost it or gained it or lifted it or whatever. I’m over it.

I have friends who have gained a bunch of weight over quarantine and they absolutely love it. Want nothing to do with fretting over shedding pounds and everything to do with reveling in their beautiful new curves. It is so powerful to watch and hear about. Women owning and celebrating their own bodies. What a radical idea.

I would much prefer a post-quarantine life where we all choose for ourselves what makes us feel good. I’m sick to death of the judgments people make at a glance. Give it a rest. We’ve just been through absolute hell. We all have hangups and insecurities and scars. Whether you can see them or not, they’re there. Let it go.

Fits and Starts

I’m late for class again and class is all the way across campus which means I am entirely screwed. Even still, I attempt to throw all my shit in a bag in time to hustle along but I drop my phone, can’t find my ID, and tear my homework in half by mistake before ending up accidentally-on-purpose falling into the arms of a tall dark stranger and making out with him instead.

None of this is my fault, of course, and I would have told my professor the same thing had my alarm not gone off to wake me from yet another manic last-minute catastrophic nightmare anxiety attack. I don’t know what it is about my mental state lately. I am distracted by something I cannot name or understand but Jesus Christ is it persistent. When I am in one place I long to escape to another. When I write one thing I feel is true, I question it over and over to death.

The frustrating dreams happen. Always right before it’s time to get up. My heart races, I’m jittery and nervous about being late or forgetting something. Not performing. Not meeting expectations, maybe that’s it. I’d Google it to find out what it all means but then I might discover even more reason to panic so instead I rise, knot my hair atop my head, pour an obscene sized black coffee and curl up to write a little something, if only to soothe my weary bones. I hate being tired at the beginning of the day. Makes everything feel like quite a long slog from here on out.

Outside the window to my writing room, morning sunlight is beginning to warm itself against the lush green leaves of the majestic trees which tower above the pretty houses along the street. Manicured lawns and fancy cars. Electric wires, home security systems, and garbage that gets picked up like clockwork every Wednesday at noon. All of us prim and proper, tucked and cut and chiseled and ever so gracefully insane.

Body as Fault Line

Transparency and the fright of even just the thought of that. The fear of becoming paper thin, translucent. Sheer.

Your eyes, though black, seem to open up the only doorway of light. Clear, bright, uncanny, probing. All-seeing. A terrifying calmness.

There is a way you have unlike any other. You are not of this world but beyond it, even as you destroy and construct it all around yourself. As you please. Twist of your ribs. Choke in my heart. A forest of majestic trees, bowed in fierce night wind.

A strawberry moon rises up from ice-blue ocean. Reflections of her gold streaming face in the glass. Looking glass, looking; single eye, slow blinking as it turns, four billion years making passes against the infinite sky.

I light a candle in my darkened room. I breathe deeply, purposefully, feeling the air invade my chest. The words of Anne Sexton open on a wooden altar, “I have gone out / a possessed witch / haunting the black air / braver at night”

My body as fault line. The joy of your hands pulling up my secrets by their filthy roots. Exposure. Violation as rapture. Rings of Saturn, Moons of Jupiter, Wells of Blood. Halos of light flickering in dark gardens. Hovering spirits which moan and seethe.

Wrestling this feathered being caged within me. My little wrists. My little claws alone with my smooth skin. Brush of evil. Stroke of deviance, hallowed and grim.

Fractures of Mind

I try reading erotica but nothing gets me there. It all just feels like body parts thrown against the wall to see if any of it will get you off by accident. I feel sad for the writers and sad for the characters and scenarios they halfheartedly create. I shut everything down, lay back upon the bed in my writing room, and stare out the window at a pink and blue striped sky. The lighting is breathtaking at this time of evening, a softness in the way its peachy fingers skim the leaves and pines.

On the street below, some exasperated mother screams at her kids to clean up god knows what. I never wanted kids, all I want is silence, so I slam shut the window to the outside world and bury myself in poetry. That, too, proves insufficient at getting me where I seem to want to go but now I think I can see that it isn’t the fault of the poorly written verse or the gratuitous speed with which the author of erotic porno fiction explodes her little pawns into orgasms completely unearned. I can’t get where I want to go because I am as lost as I ever have been and don’t know what it is I’m really after.

Maybe its the summertime that gets under my skin. There always seems a current of madness running through her empty tin can streets. What is it that makes us so restless, so disjointed when there’s too much light? Is it everybody or just me? Tonight the full moon will glow in all of her naked radiance. The reflecting pool face of a dead rock thing.

I read that the tricky thing about Oscar Wilde is he told stories in which the sins of the body redeemed the soul. If only that were true in this life. If only I could reach out of this cage and stroke the forbidden desires as they approach my trembling hands, my open eager mouth. Sin like the Eucharist. Passion all sustaining, a melancholic illusion, wafer thin.

There is a forest in my mind, with trees which grow so high that the sunlight barely penetrates. Cool dark earth beneath my feet. Streams flowing out from my body in all directions, rushing over rocks, cascading over cliffs as waterfalls, diving into mist. This mysterious place inside of me, the ache of my center I cannot touch.

The mother having somehow calmed her hysteria, I light up a cigarette and slide open the window once again to inhale the grassy yellow evening air. I lean my head outside to feel the last of the sunlight on my face. We are all of us lost and none of us quite at home in these body shells. Our blood is alien even to ourselves. A bunch of kids are playing some kind of old school cops and robbers bit as the mother sips something from an opaque thermos. She’s out of her mind. I feel for her, though.

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.