All That Waits for You

The rush of traffic far off on the distant highway sounds a little like waves in the ocean and as I sip coffee and listen, my mind drifts to memories of a summer long gone. Young love and young bodies, new hearts and fresh born fantasies. The way a kiss could send your pulse racing right out of your skin and into the weightlessness beyond the atmosphere, beating like a glimmering star high above the earth.

To imagine it ever was is a trick of the brain and a blink of an eye against the culmination of time which is etched beneath the skin like rings in a tree trunk circle and circle the veins.

As I stroll around an elegantly high-soaring fountain which is nestled into the side of a lush green hill, I try my best to empty my thoughts and take in the scenery. Not a single other person around, much to my heart’s content. People can so often disrupt the way one sees the things they see. People can blind you to everything that is magic- especially yourself – more fiercely than can the glare of the bleating sun. Wild flowers are dotted throughout the fields, a crystal clear stream is running over thick rocks and large stones cascading all the way down along the sway of the rolling landscape.

As I breathe deeply into the open air, I soak in the sight of the bright blue sky which seems to stretch on and out forever in all directions. Watching a hawk spread its gigantic wings and float high above, I contemplate the limitlessness of my own hunger and desire to reach for more than I ever dared to imagine. I want to touch everything with my body and soul so that just for a while I will feel that I am part of something far bigger and more breathtaking than I could ever hope to be.

There are so many dreams I have yet to realize in this life and I know deep down that I should get on them before this grand adventure passes me by entirely. I guess sometimes I wish I weren’t such a punchy, distracted little thing. Such a day dreamer, mind wandering off into forests of ideas and stalking mad plots which only serve to stop me in my tracks unless I’m writing them down, and even then it’s fits and starts at best.

As I lay back upon the grass, my phone buzzes and jingles with messages but I ignore it and smile to myself because I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but I know at least enough to let go when it is good and necessary. The world always wants you someplace you are not, wherever you are you should be elsewhere. But even though we curse it, there is a little piece of our souls which is secretly glad to know that ‘out there’ is out there waiting for us just the same.

Fielded Body, Wild and Hot

Strawberry dawn, warming at the tips of my eyelashes. A cool morning steps across the naked floor toward me.

I part my lips, drink it all in.

False fingered, he traced the curve of my fielded body, wild and hot,

but could not follow the words in the wind of my veins,

which hollows me out like a shell. For I gave him everything,

everything, everything

that I was. And all of me, poetry.

Love is a dagger you plunge into yourself.

And leave it. And leave it.

Elegant birdsong, echo-chambered longing, sifts in over me,

hovers above my starry head in a dreamspell

state of atmospheric inbetween.

She could write a thing that would thread your heart

out through your throat.

And it was heaven wrapped in silken torture symphonies,

extravagant light, falling itself

feathered through trees,

they said.

And in those moments, he was so far away as to not even exist.

Pearlwater tears

the unfaithful

ghostly, wallpaper rice-flower

as suddenly, a quiet mist.

Forests blaze all through my mind, scorched earth dreams,

the taste of the scent of another, darker stains the eulogy,

another, luminous passage –

pages to dust, ashes to brick, love is a glass house

moonstone

curls my fingers in a fist.

The long purple night coils around my wrists.

Snare of love, ambient tryst.

Sharp claw tore into my roseflesh,

pierced my soft-jawed chrysalis.

After Life

We will bury my uncle today. I sip coffee in the early morning air alone. To be with the trees and the cool grass and the little birds which flutter here and there. Processing. He was too young and as I say it I know it isn’t true because the only way you know how old you really are is if you know the day you are going to die and nobody can ever know that shit. I think about death which is a way to think about life in reverse. What could you have done and all that jazz. What will you do now. How will it feel to burn beneath the tears. How will the rain smell as we stand around embracing and not embracing. Speaking and holding back. The human condition is so strange in ways we pretend we cannot see because we don’t know the words to say. There are the things we know, the things we believe, and the things which are entirely a mystery. These are all woven together even though we keep trying to pull them apart. To touch the face of God. To Rest In Peace. To leave, to be gone. To be over. To be left behind with life beating soft through your veins like a time bomb. Like a gift. Like a joke. Like a complete stranger breathing from your own lungs. I grip the hardness of the coffee mug. I walk upstairs to my darkened study and light what is barely left of a lilac candle among my plant covered makeshift altar. I stare at the chipped veil and hands of the virgin mother statue my grandmother gave to me long ago. The sky is brightening behind her as if morning is a thing that will never stop rising over the treetops and the creatures and all of us. I see a robin upon the wire outside my window and as I watch him fly off into the heavens all by his thin-winged lonesome, the tiny flame of the candle burns out.

Naked Eye

With my naked eye I saw you in the naked light. Beautiful, complicated, sinister, trembling. Creature of nocturnal nature. Proximity is not a true measurement and by that I mean it is very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to see a thing so precious up so close. Reach for me. Stretch. Struggle for me. Can you feel this intrusion thickening, growing inside of you where you open like fruit, in your limbs like vines dripping with the honeyed liquid of many thousand sapphire suns, silvering moons. You have to be able to understand the mood, baby, sense the melody, the messages in the vibrations. She tells me how she spits in his mouth. He needs it. Begs and begs for it. Gets off on the degradation. Now try not to think about that. Try not to feel it in your core, throbbing like the most decadent hatred. There is something inside that wants to feel the terrible cruelty we think we deserve. Please do not say these things, write these things, want these things, spread these things like disease. Like you are diseased. I like to pull the pieces apart from the others, watch it all disintegrate around you like you aren’t even there. Like you never were. Like we never were. Sunshine is blistering along the grass on top of the sea water as no words are exchanged, no emotion, no currency, no transaction, no rushing current flowing along the trickling side of the steepest hill. Had you had expectations. Had you had demands, had you said things you wish you could take back, no. He presses into me where my sap runs deepest, most fragrant, heated, milky. You have to feel the vibrations, you sweet stupid thing. You can’t let go you have to feel it all. His hand is the hand which moves through everything that ever existed or ever will, his hands are the hands which absolve you, break you, tear you until you learn to take it, make you come so hard your tears stain the pillows, his hands all over you, his hands refuse to touch you, his hands offer and withhold and you spread out so thin you become the atmosphere itself, a bare little wing, little pulsar brimming with revolution. The sweat and blood of evolution. And you turn and we turn and we turn into drops of water suspended in the atmosphere which is only the way we are forever our delicate selves, turning and turning and returning. You just have to trust me. You just have to place it to your lips and taste it. You just have to be able to understand the mood is the mood. I cannot explain it.

It Sticks in Your Throat

The mist over the ocean is moving onto the beach. I’ve cut the tip of my finger doing something I cannot remember and now it throbs and stings from my drenching it in the salty sea water until it shriveled. I’d tell you something clever now like healing hurts first before it soothes but I’m not really in the mood for clever and healing is such a tricky thing to actually nail down because it is not linear. The waves are crashing and breaking in very strange ways, swelling way far out and then slamming straight down quickly, suddenly, without hardly ever standing up. They erupt one after another after another up close to the edge. I once heard these kinds of waves are called ‘dirty’ but I can’t ever be sure if I am using that term correctly. I don’t surf, I barely swim, and I spend a good portion of my time worrying obsessively about death by drowning.

I know the tides. I know the way they feel inside me because I have been studying myself my whole life. Still, your insides can surprise you if you get too arrogant, if you ignore them, or try to turn away. My heart is racing from the chill of the ocean and the hazy moisture in the air is pebbling my skin. I take a drink of ice-cold gin with lime and let the sun warm me all over. There are people on the beach tanning, splashing, little kids screaming, laughing, running. Kids are forever running on the beach, toward the ocean, away from the ocean, things need to happen and they need to happen fast. One little guy wears red sunglasses and a tee shirt which simply reads DUDE.

They say a person spends something like seventy percent of their time worried about the past or the future. That the amount of time you spend literally in the moment you are in is minuscule, fleeting. I want to feel better about death, or about life which I guess is the same thing in a certain sense, so I put on my dark sunglasses and stare meaningfully, purposefully, out into the farthest reaches of the wild blue-green sea and try to be in the place I am in. Feel the salty humid air flowing through my hair. As the horizon line blurs into a soft distant kind of turquoise imaged space, I lick my lips and remind myself that the horizon does not exist. It is always out there, unreachable, untouchable. How comical are the men who think they own the world. Think they can plant a flag. Think they know what it is to die for something when they stand for nothing. Nothing at all.

In writing, you can be anything you want but you have to know enough what it feels like to have what you want even if you don’t. You can dissect a thing but never inhabit it. You can know about something without knowing of it. Writers like to talk at you, see what sticks. I like to know if you feel anything because sometimes I can’t feel a fucking thing and I am terrified it means I am starting to disappear. Into the past. Into the future. Either way, we all just want to escape. I like to think that in the words I can escape but mostly I am only revealed. Maybe that’s why they say you need to go away to find yourself. Maybe it’s a lie. Maybe you write because you hope to Christ you will and will never be found.

Bad Girls Need

I want to pull each candy pink cloud down from the early dawn sky and wrap it around me like a cape. I think of the cape I will escape to in just a few days, to hear the pound of the waves upon the wide open beach, listen to the cry of the seagulls as they swoop low and skim the top of the glittering ocean. For now, though, the smell of salt and sand, sky and water and majesty, is only a pattern of ripples in my ever wandering mind, as I sit sipping coffee in the cool morning air. There is something about catching the break of the day before anyone else can get to you and muddle your thinking.

When you think about your life, do you think more about yourself or more about the ones you have encountered in it? Trick question. You think about yourself just like I do and whether or not you happen to like yourself or wish you were someone else entirely is sort of a mute point. You are who you are and you are with yourself from here on out.

The sky is so perfectly soft right now, so swathed in hazy pink across powder blue behind the willowy spring green of the trees that an actual tight feeling in my chest aches with something which is a blend of utter awe and swollen sadness.

All my life, this sadness seems to have held me so close that I sometimes cannot tell if it is love or fear or emptiness. You could call it emptiness I suppose, a void of sorts, meant perhaps never to be filled. But if it is such an absence why does it feel so very present with me. I swear to you on my life that there are times that this feeling, this shady melancholy emotion, takes a nearly tangible form, cups my chin and my face in its gentle hands and gazes at me with the most compassion I have ever felt. It is a tender sadness. A longing, but one which acknowledges me, one I treasure and somehow, for some completely bizarre reason, protect.

There are regrets we carry in our hearts, people we have hurt, people we are terrified we might because we are doing our best but we are also weak and fickle and sometimes it can feel like we stalk and attack ourselves at any given minute. In poetry, there is allowed to exist every inconvenient emotion, every incompatibility with a world trying to destroy itself. Through the word, we are allowed everything we ever wanted. How electrifying and how liberating, which is to say do you dare risk devastation to get to the truth of a thing. How much is the truth worth to you and what are you willing to sacrifice for it, if anything. If everything.

Most people will tell you tales of grandeur about themselves and you don’t even have to ask. They will make it sound and seem as though they have risked it all to come out on top of whatever it is they think will impress you most. They scored the promotion, they got the girl, they made the deal, they quadrupled the cash, their kid did whatever, this and that thing and they are the best at it. Behold the flawless and the blessed. How lucky you should feel to be anywhere in their midst. But they don’t know what they’re doing any more than you do. Don’t let them fool you. The design of this world is fit for so very few to ‘succeed’ inside.

The older I get the more disillusioned I become. If everyone is so impressive why do I feel so generally unimpressed. I suppose you could say it’s me, that may be fair enough. They may say that you see what you wish to see, but I say the heart wants what it wants. And I want so much more than this it hurts like hell to even write it down.

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.

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.

Scorch

I’m toning the body and flexing the mind and all the shit you’re supposed to do to keep on top of things while living a life you only half understand. We like our women pretty and their bodies tight and their thoughts subdued. The currency in beautified, petrified silence.

As I walk the winding windy streets alone, a shower of apple blossoms descends into my long strawberry hair and I reach to touch their smooth pink petals just as a gust of fresh spring wind rushes through and casts them away onto the hard concrete. It’s that time of year when you can wear heavy boots and a tee shirt, or a chunky knit hat and flip flops. It’s warm and it’s cool in equal measure at any given minute, all the while the sweet scent of lilac swirls on the pollen-dusted air along with hints of wood fires burning somewhere off in the distance.

And distance is all there is these days, ways to measure it, ways to deny or cheat it, in the hopes it won’t drag you down. There is sorrow in my heart and a pulsing heat in my veins. Because the seasons may change but life never does. It ends as breathtakingly mysterious as it begins, out of nowhere, out of sight, out of the mind of anyone or anything but a god we’ve been making up since the beginning of time. Was time always a thing or was it the human creature who made it up?

No star has need for it. No planet ever speaks of arriving late or dashing out early.

Doesn’t matter. All I can tell you for sure is that the light is growing in the mornings as well as the evenings and while this may be comforting for some it has a kind of menacing effect on me. The darkness I can understand, I know what it wants and I can soothe it by letting it enter me, fill me, have me. I know how to breathe for it so it will trust me.

But the light can be deceiving. Perhaps because no one expects it to be. She’s just like the springtime wind, she will lick you cold as ice and you won’t even see it coming.

Blood and Wings and Blood

I should have had my period by now but my cycles are all fucked up since I hit my forties. You know it will happen eventually, you just don’t ever think it will happen to you. Like, now.  There was always something about the eventual onset of menopause that was in the future, and a distant future at that.

You don’t want to talk about this? Too bloody? Too gross but not in the fun way like those shit slasher movies you watch with all the gore and gratuitous violence?

It’s funny to me. The way that people are. Funny-tragic, I mean. The way they have convinced you that women are disposable and you believed it and moved on and you don’t think that’s a kind of cruelty. You think that’s just the way it is. I can’t blame you. I thought so, too. Parts of me still do and it seems I keep discovering new ones as the years go by. It’s layered into us. It’s almost eerily clever in its own grotesque way.

Did you know that if you cut open a cocoon at any point during its existence you will most likely just see a gooey mess? You will not ever see a half-caterpillar-half-butterfly because apparently it doesn’t happen like that. The butterfly sort of happens all at once suddenly out of the sticky glob of nothing recognizable as anything.

And if I remember correctly, the tiny creature thing just kind of finally drops out one day, also suddenly, from the chrysalis, wings completely gummed together by the soggy muck is was soaked within for however many days. Eight to twelve days.

It is a rather raw and violent way to exit one form of life and enter a new one. Later on we watch in delight as the butterfly flutters through a garden and think, How sweet, delicate, beautiful. Some butterflies make it and some don’t. Some can’t get their wings to open and so they fall to their sad little deaths. Some can only manage one wing, which is not enough.

I’m not trying to make this some kind of metaphor for struggle or some lesson about how precious and slim your life is, or mine for that matter. I’m not trying to say anything other than birth, death, life, are all parts of a unified cycle, and each stage contains within it its own kind of ugliness, stickiness, and violence. And that our collective denial of the brutality of these cycles, our denial of the excruciating pain of the destruction that is giving birth, or the crushing pain a woman must endure month after month within her own naturally pain-wracked body, is to deny, too, the magnificent awe the strength of a woman should inspire.

All of this has been said before. This is not a new ask, to be acknowledged, to be respected, to be seen for all that a woman actually is instead of for what she has been told to be: pretty, happy, quiet, obedient, clean. Perhaps each woman has to say these things for herself at some point in her life, though. In order to make it real in her own way. Part of it is to finally acknowledge, respect, and see herself. We spend our whole lives holding back or denying a kind of pain which is hard to explain because it is so intimate, so deeply woven in that we are some how too close to see it.

Some butterflies, of course, do make it. They drop and they fly and in one ecstatic movement they are off on their own adventures. And they come to know the sunshine and the soft peach light of summer sunset falling upon the colorful petals. And the cold hard rain and the thrashing storms and the driving winds, too.

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Photo by Cassidy Dickens