You Come and You Go

It’s 4:17am and it’s not time to be awake yet but you are. The room is dark as the sky is out the open bedroom window, save for the faint distant glow of the harvest moon drifting behind the fog. Your mind is wandering as it so often does these days, skittering over events long past, over and done with, if only you could let them be. The email you didn’t return for no real reason that cost you an entire friendship. The million things you do in a day except for the one big thing you didn’t and you lost the respect of the colleague you hate anyway. You seem to be incapable at times of cherishing the things the world expects you to and you’ve no idea why. What is wrong with you, anyway? Don’t you know how good you have it. Don’t you know how many people would kill to have your life, your body, your stuff. But what do you do when this need-with-no-name persists in you and keeps you awake and motionless in these early morning hours that crouch before the dawn. What is wrong with you when a beautiful home doesn’t cut it, and marriage doesn’t cut it, and money and security and retail therapy and wine and smoking is only temporary relief. You love your family. You love them with all the heart you have left after so many many heart-obliterating things have happened to you. But how often it feels like the love you have is tainted, inadequate, blurred out like your image in the bathroom mirror when you lift up that warm hand of yours to wipe the steam from the glass and catch that sadness in your eyes that you can’t remember when it lodged itself so quietly there. Looking closer, you realize there is something underneath the sadness and to your surprise it is mischief, it is a feral desire, it is a boldness and a freedom you would give anything to touch.
Opening your mouth you begin to say the words you hear in your heart that scare you to death, the words you know no one else will say to you but yourself because they are afraid even more than you are afraid and fear makes everything a never ending scream on mute. You say the words to your own reflection as an act of faith because you aren’t even sure you deserve them but if you can’t, if you won’t, then why are you even here anyway? It’s only a whisper but it’s yours: ‘I believe you.’ It comes from a part of you that is desperate to flower into its own kind of strength. It comes from the person you are, that you have always been, and that you wish you were now but you were certain had been drowned out long ago. One that no one else can see or understand but somehow that only makes it all the more real to you.
It’s still dark inside the room inside the bed you share with your husband. He is sleeping soundly and you are more alone than you were as a kid staring wide eyed up at the stars through the soft summer air. And time isn’t enough and words aren’t enough and prayers aren’t enough because as you hit ‘snooze’ to fend off the start of another makeshift Wednesday, beyond the hum of the crickets and the rustle of the big oak trees on your front lawn, you hear the faint rumble of the railroad tracks two blocks away, and all you know for sure is that God has caught the last train out of the worn-down town that is you.

Deep Down

Before the storm there is thick fog and before the fog there is a dreadful humidity that suffocates every molecule of the air around and inside of us. As I settle in with my laptop to write literally anything I can think of to get my fingers moving and give permission to even my most perverse thoughts to come forward, however sheepishly at first, I am wondering what gives anyone of us the energy to keep going. What is it we are after that we believe will prove to us that any of this is worth it? What is it that drives that man in his properly pressed button-down blue shirt and buttercream tie to walk into that office just one more day and try to hold it all together. Why does it feel like I’m walled off from everyone else by some kind of static impenetrable distance. So much of what I am supposed to find fulfilling I find unnervingly not so. What they worship I cannot understand. Is it enough to work the week out in administrative minutiae and microwave leftovers and water the houseplants on weekends in between bouts of writing? Don’t you ever want to just cut loose from everything in your life that feels so maddeningly mundane and do something else – something that actually matters, something that finally scratches that wretched burning itch to wrap your arms around the sky?
The thunder is collapsing loudly now, shaking the very foundation of the house as I reach for my coffee and take a long hot sip. I make a mental note that we need more coffee beans and sugar next time I am at the market because a day without either is no day I can drag myself through.
Fraught over my lack of creative flow and cursing myself for my obsession with trying to remain loyal to my writing practice despite very little interest from the outside world, I pick myself up off the couch, slide off my sandals by the back patio door and step outside into the pouring rain.  I can taste the sweetness of the heat coming off the pavement as it rushes full with fast forming rivers. Closing my eyes I turn my head toward the clouds and feel the cool water streaming onto my face, down my neck, over my bare shoulders and soaking my skin thoroughly all over. Hands in my hair, heart in my throat, wondering if the only worthy motivation for writing is to put myself in deep touch with this melancholy soul of mine who cries out for something so much more than this. And I can’t help but wonder what about our souls makes us terrified to live the lives we are so desperate for? How they ache to tell us so many secrets and how we turn them to face the corner again and again convinced that to listen – to quit being so damn afraid and choose our dreams for ourselves – would be the end of our sanity. When the truth is that those wild dreams are the only worthy motivation for anything.

Carry Me Home

Tangled within a new argument about the same old thing, we walk side by side along a worn path in the local park. It’s a winter evening and the alabaster sun has slid down into the brush behind us. All day the gray sky hung heavy and low and now the light snow is dusted on the shaggy pines, glistening in the pale fading glow of another day gone by.  How many has it been since we last made love? How many since the taste of your kiss contained the truth? Time is a deceitful thing. You think you’ve come so far when suddenly a word is said or a smile is broken or a promise is fractured and you realize nothing has changed at all. That some parts of the human heart move forward while others stay lodged exactly where they’ve always been: stuck somewhere between the throat and the tip of the tongue. In an earlier time perhaps we would have let the little hurtful things slide but not now. Not when so much has been aching for so long. The air between our mouths is cold and the ice around the heart of whatever the matter is is thick.
As we make tracks toward a darkening horizon you fumble for the car keys in your coat pocket. With your other hand you reach sideways without looking up and take mine, and I let you. I try to let you, let you take what you need, let you in, let it be tender. Because as hard as it may be to believe, tenderness does not always come easily to me. Poets are rose petals and knives all mixed up together.
I’m tired of trying to explain and you are tired of trying to figure out where it went wrong so there are no more words, just silence swirling like smoke around our breathing, the scent of damp frozen earth and a campfire in the distance. Beneath the blood in our veins there is the heat of love mixed with a strange kind of trepidation. Pieces of us leaving and not leaving, forgiving and not forgiving. For all the ways we hope to crack open the darkness and bathe ourselves in light, instead we bury what we are afraid to see. The healing we are afraid will destroy us. In the quiet night I hold on to you and do not speak. Our footsteps fall in unison, but the claws of past mistakes are sharp inside us even now.

Grade schoolers

two grade schoolers kissing
in a thin soft rain
at a bus stop. public transportation
public displays of private affection.
wet sweetness, hard concrete
street, observers.
it is early and the sky is pale gray
and i can taste the strawberry chapstick
of my childhood, slung on a braided string
around my neck.
the fade of shy gymnasium
romance smoldering in my skin.
i remember a time when i thought
i had to be everyone’s favorite girl.
all the while knowing
i never would be.
the weight of the world
on the wait of my girlhood.
the sharp claws of that. made to think like that
was the only way to think.
like that. because he
likes that, they like that you
don’t say what you really
like. what you are really like
is
whatever it took, whatever I had to do,
to become, to degrade, downsize,
legitimize
to hide.
it takes years.
decades. fire storms. drownings.
to exorcise that sickness.

god, whatever she is

there is a spirit which moves within me.
dwells inside me, as me.
i may be standing in the center of a room,
crowded or alone,

and i am suddenly overcome
with the sensation of being spoken to
words without words
as they touch like the passing bend

of an invisible wing.
a movement of a love
so deep the veins respond
quietly, joyfully, reverently.

i can only imagine that god,
whatever she is,
this is the way
of her enchanting echo

a vibration
ever ancient and eternal.
like pale summer evenings
extend their burning fingers

through trees.

// 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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// Crawl Inside You (Interspace) //

The cool dawn is so clutched with frost that the atmosphere cracks when I exhale. I have been here all this time waiting for you to come home, to build your little warm nest inside me and thread your ribbons through my bones. The air has become rich with darkness inside my lungs; thunder and church steeples round and round like a crown above my low fallen skull.

How is it we emerge again? Is it through sheer force of will, is it by the benevolence of something tried and tested by the fires of hell, something divine which guides the universe. White lights are flaring up, one by one, along the runway toward eternity and all those uncertain things which eat away my organs.

How many ways are there to find your way home. How many people are as lost as I am, listening for voices, calling out for affection, tracing their chipped fingers over bumps in the globe.

As I gaze up into your cloud space eyes, my skin blooms with the taste of that heady sensation just before ecstasy and the way it tingles through my wet body. I drink the sweet rhythm of you and at last begin ebbing away from the pain. I am only as strong as what I believe and I believe in nothing if I do not believe in you. Prayers are fresh tears in a jar by the bed, prayers are the beads of dread and sweat I swallow to try to forget.

With my mouth I hand you a leash of promises and you lead me like an animal into the sun. Four small sparrows sit huddled upon the window ledge and as we depart the earth they sing. Every winter which ever scarred the womb has buried itself inside my final breath. A tangle of rose buds encases my heart like a cage and I sleep with you peacefully as the stones which once erected the bloodiest cities in the world begin caving in.

The footsteps I hear are whispers and the whispers are trees. Could the beauty of your stride be my darkest secrets suspended overhead for all to see. The way you collect me like a child collects the dying leaves tells me we are not done here. We are not done.

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// to nowhere //

and the static played long
children lost, bred from the bleeding of chewed tongues
the sounds came from each corner of a carousel
crumbling human paper
entire days thrown into waste baskets affixed to nowhere
to nothing

digital profanity came dripping from their radio eyes
all in the streets the Sickness
in dark rivers rushing
cutting the small silent figures away at the knees

but they do not see
what i see
they do not hear
they have faces which blister with angry sky
bodies blown away slow
on the wind.

not i.
not i.

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// Dream Angel //

But when I called out for you you were not there, you had become a collection of the things other people laid to rest inside your chest. Your eyes heavy with the quiet death of something I wanted entirely to taste, to be made of, to take into my hands and off your slender shoulders. What did they do to you, my sweet love, that made you cloud so thick inside, fold so yellowed at the edges of your crumbling mouth. I look toward you but you are shifting, you are many sodden bodies multiplied, a wave of faceless mobs turning away in a crowded city square.

The breathing of the pavement hovers inside a dreary mist as I pull a cigarette from under its foil. Inside this void which whispers your name I suck the smoke across my teeth.  I would try to keep you but we are only echoes of each other’s imagination. The way you move is a ghost train sliding off its tracks. Yet in your silent mind I am the single voice which curls against your senses, my mouth upon your neck like warm gravestone hills swelling into amber evening. I am the single touch you let touch you everywhere, inside out, outside in.

It is dark where we come from and where we are going, so we make this kind of love without a sound, without a word, without a trace. I am the pulse in the slow glide of your fingers. These chains you tug around my throat, they turn to milk-white doves. They rush against the heavens when I close my eyes.

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// It Was You //

Low in sound
skin bereft of shadow
it was you
tongue the soft feather bed, you
crushed into the word
fallen
broke free the wing
of dark autumn sky.

you frothing window
wintered
you moving hands among wreckage
they do not know
how to speak

for you. you each night turned
paleface
at the beginning
always the beginning
again and again the ground
opening
opening
opening
clawing at the back teeth
a dream gaping, half-lit
within a dream.

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