I’m thinking of him, though I try not to because only angst can come of it. But a seductive plaything he is none the less, and try as I might to concern myself with other things, my mind returns to the memory of his lips on my thigh inching higher and higher as we lay beneath a cloudy midnight sky, the glitter of the tall buildings of the city stacked twinkling below. The night he pressed into me so deeply I thought I would lose my mind right there at the mercy of his expert hands, his hot thick body, there was nothing to do but give in to our darkest temptations. And so, the parting of legs and the parting of lips and the opening up to the parts of yourself you try so hard to keep hidden, the neediness, the greed. Tongues like sweetness, tongues like snakes. Something in the sly of his smile destroys me, pleasure shooting through me like an ache you spent your whole life praying for, that exquisite melancholy ache impossible to resist. Drifting off into such dreams causes my mouth to water with poetry, words of lust and desire tumbling out of me onto the pages of a journal I’ve not touched in ages. There are roses in the margins, roses blooming thick inside the cage of my chest. There are those words which must be bled, and those words best scratched and burned into the secret fires of eternity instead, read only by the deities, accepted only into the dirty womb of the earth on which our hopeless little hearts blister and break. The day is sliding down, slow as gray rain on the distant tombstone hills as I arrive home, finally able to exhale the staleness of the remnants of whatever is leftover when the useless chatter of this life at last falls quiet. Shadows begin to enfold me, the first swallow of crisp white wine caressing my insides in fragrant plumes. So many faces, so many mouths, so few lines worth repeating for fear of turning into just another nobody who thinks that they’re somebody, though no one ever really cares to ask. Gazing out the window, my eyes scan faintly across the concrete miles as my pulse grows lazy. Somewhere out there, lovers embrace for the first time. And the trees in their cold naked skins, bow toward the whisper of spring.
They want you to tell them what they want to hear, but they don’t know what they want. In my life, I have made myself into many forms of woman to fit in, to get along, to be what men want, to be what women want, to do what they say and please as I had been taught to please. But I never like myself much for it. Not as much as I like myself when I do what I love, what I crave, what I desire, in spite of the judgment of everyone else. So now I do not beg. And now I do not chase. And now I do not need anyone to tell me what I’ve done is good enough. In this world, evil rises. Cruelty reigns over many a nation, climate, industry, air wave. I am not sure how I missed this, or how I ever believed anything else. Childhood, protection, institutionalization, privilege, innocence. I still remember the exact feeling of pulling a knee sock up my little leg, sheer virgin white with a thick elastic band at the top. Tight. Tight to keep it up, where it was supposed to be, strangling the small area where the calf met the knee. When I would remove the sock upon returning home from school, I could still see the ridges, the red indentations left in the skin in a circular band just below the knee. I don’t have words to share that people want to hear. I don’t have stories worthy of telling. But if they would want me to, I could turn myself into one. I could be any kind of story they want, I know how. I have done it ten thousand times before. It’s easy once you get the hang of it. You just remove your eyes. Peel off your skin. Cut off your hands and pick apart your heart into a few hundred tiny pieces. And eat them. Swallow them down so that it doesn’t hurt so bad to need the love they promised if only you could just behave.
A small black bird sits alone on a wire high above the street which winds around the train station. There is the guy who is always wearing the same thing: jeans, tee shirt, heavy boots, green army jacket, too big in the shoulders and too long for his thin frame. His back is slightly curved so he hunches over just a bit, making him look much older than I imagine he actually is. As he shuffles across the train tracks, he drinks a cup of coffee from the Dunkin’ Donuts up on the highway and I get the impression this is not just a daily procession or a special ritual, but this is his entire life. Right here in this over sized old jacket walking slow along this side street by the train station into the misty morning fog, he walks, always in the same direction. Or maybe it’s just me making up stories about people I know exactly nothing about, just because I can see them, and I can’t help but wonder. What do they do? Where do they live? What are they worried about? What keeps them hanging on? Across town, there is a girl in an apartment building watering a plant which sits on a stand by the window. She’s going through some heavy shit, what with being a newly single mom, and the cancer they found in her mother’s breast. She tries to be a good girl even though she’s a grown up woman, tries to be a good daughter and a good mother and a good friend. She stays positive in front of everyone else though at night she closes the door and cries, but not tears because that would be the end of her. No tears fall because if they fall she falls apart never to get back up. Instead she cries bottles and bottles and she cries cigarettes on the back stairs under the gruesome yellow motion-sensor porch light the landlord installed for safety. Nothing feels safe now. But crumbling is not an option so she goes a little numb and she chews on the trembling fingers of anxiety and she keeps her sadness to herself. And everyone seems to think she’s a really good girl even though what she really wants to be is bad. Because bad is a choice you have to make, and a lot of times, good just feels the same as fear. In a stale high school classroom, a bunch of fidgety teenagers sit in their desks and listen to a lecture about the history of their country which has been re-written to make things seem less bleak and more noble, as the hands of the clock click slowly toward the rest of their lives. It’s strange the way time passes differently for all of us. We keep track of it as though it were the same, but it isn’t. For some it’s speeding by faster than they know. And the bird on the wire does not sing. He just flicks his pointy wings, once, twice. Tilts his tiny tick tock head. And watches.
I’m not sure it’s an emergency but then again I’m not sure how I got here so who’s to say when the urgency sets in. Can a person slowly slide toward their own demise without ever actually seeing it coming? Doesn’t matter. Across the street, a woman has placed a blessed mother statue in her front window facing outwards with palms raised and eyes cast downward. I’d say she’s done it as some sort of ritual prayer for good weather but she did it so many years ago now it’s hard to tell if it’s worked out as she’d hoped or not. It’s funny to me what people believe in, or I should say it used to be funny until it started becoming more and more absurd. I am not a believer in much of anything but I do read tarot now and again and it stirs something in me, could be the idea of witches and magic, could be the pleasure of escape from the everyday world with its pragmatism and general low grade misery. I don’t think you need to believe, I think you just need to be open to making up your own story the way you want to. On the drive home, I passed the odd shaped one-level building tucked under tall pine trees back along a gravel road off the highway. It’s dark and seedy, the muddy color of wet bark and indignity. Used to be a sex shop but now it’s a kids day care center, made only slightly less grim by the cardboard cutouts of smiling red, blue, and yellow dancing crayons in the small front window. How much we endure between then and now. The grown ups I see, I can’t help but wonder what the hell they are thinking, or if they even think at all. So many random lives on autopilot, bodies and dreams on medication. How do they keep it all together and why do they try so hard to impress each other. And why does it always feel like I’m not one of them. Not even close. The more they want to make me like them the more I retreat. The more they reach for the outer signs of success the more I want to scream. There is a tangerine streak of cloud falling from the tail of a plane running jagged across the evening sky. It looks like lightening stood still and turning soft at its edges. The house creaks as evening falls in and I wonder why any one tells the story of anything. Why anyone who gives a damn about this life speaks what is untrue so often it becomes everyone else’s reality. I pour the wine and wonder why any one of us speaks at all.
Life is happening in a small body I once occupied, like a barren land frozen in opalescent frosted glass, far off beyond the streets I live on in this hard tangle of a neighborhood I didn’t grow up in. In my mind’s eye the visions of where I have been and where I think I ought to be going grow increasingly blurry, my head is heavy and my blindside dim. Some people never move and some never move on and at the moment I’m too tired to explore the difference. There are days you want to crawl inside yourself but you just aren’t there so it feels more lonely and less like home in the silence. These soft flickering evening moments filled with shadow and memory and time lost, dripping through the faucet that won’t turn off down the hall. The great writers write of great things as I lift a glass to the closing of another day, the beating of lonely hearts, the clasping of empty hands. These strange hollow nights when the moon does not glow, and no words are spoken because when you can’t feel yourself they don’t mean anything. And the dog in the distance barks at kids kicking a can down the road. And the whole world hangs its listless weight like an uneasy arm, slipped invisibly around your armchair shoulder.
They don’t see you even when you’re here, even though you observe each tiny detail with an obsession you are beginning to worry is problematic, or at the very least alienating. Your eyes, hungry, penetrating, absorbing everything and compulsively making note of it. The way the rain is wetter than usual on this early morning as you make the drive you’ve made for what feels like centuries, slushy drops landing in thunderous thuds upon the windshield. And are you living, and is this real, and is anybody out there, is anybody listening. Last night at the dinner table. Last night, the sink and the wine and the dishes. Last night’s pornographic scenes as you get yourself off just so you can sleep. The high school girl wearing red and black flannel pajama pants, smoking a cigarette while walking along the side of the road in rain boots and a winter coat, with the hood pulled over her head so tight the furry edges nearly obscure her tired, down-turned eyes. The corner convenience store with the lit up neon signs declaring it *OPEN* even though it appears too dimly lit to be any such thing. It’s only got one tiny window placed strangely high up and there are six thick iron bars over it. What miniature intruder are they trying to keep from breaking in to steal warm beer and chips? Sometimes your skin aches all over and you don’t know why. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed. There are moments when you consider making something grand of yourself but they are mostly overtaken by the frightened way you perform this life you wear which you know doesn’t fit. There are naked winter trees, bare and black as tar, feeling their wiry way into the heavy white late afternoon sky. There is a dirty kind of peace in the stillness of this neighborhood. Patches of gray grass and alleyways full of ghosts. Little girls and boys who once were running, shrieking. Timid kisses and scratched up knees. There is an arrogant kind of gladness in being left alone as you walk the streets. Red foil hearts placed neatly in the windows of row houses placed neatly on maps placed neatly on a planet spinning out of control, hurling out into space. Back at home I read Nabokov’s love letters but can’t feel the heat in a single word. I scroll through images of lacy lingerie, poetry that tries too hard to be deep, and quaint little sail boats in some town in Sweden. I do not fantasize. I do not dream. I do not move as the sun and the moon continue rising and falling in lock step, in turn.
There is a certain space which opens up in the middle of the day in the middle of my chest in the middle of my heart that swallows me whole. It doesn’t happen every day, but nearly every day. Around four in the afternoon, something inside me drops deep within and the outside world becomes less a burden than a blurred background noise as my mind grows soft like thin gray rain, the kind of beautiful darkening mist that cools and stimulates just enough to make you feel like a flower as she opens for the gentle spray. There is a small airport I escape to where I can lay in the fields of grass and weeds and watch the small planes and jets landing and taking off. One after another they glide on the same flight path in almost any kind of weather. I hate flying but I’m trying to get better about it. On this particular afternoon, I’m watching the planes with him as we pass the bottle back and forth between us and the wide expanse of the sky is burning into fiery pinks and reds as the evening ripens all around us. Looking up at the electrified atmospheric dome, I feel myself beginning to fall into a kind of fear that I recognize and dread. I tell him that even though I know I’ve got it better than most, there are times when I want to run. Times when I want to slip away and start over as someone else. He turns to look at me, his face neutral except for the glassy shimmer in his eyes caused either by excitement or alcohol or probably both, and tells me I should go for it. He smirks, the side of his sly mouth curled in mocking amusement. He knows I won’t run I’ll only dream of it. People like us aren’t made for greatness, only plagued with wild imaginations and words in the blood that require constant tending to. As exhausting as it is necessary, we create things in order to have something we can touch that doesn’t leave us cold. To us the world is a mess we try our best to navigate without dissolving into nervous break downs on the daily. Just for now, we hold hands in the grass, our bodies limp and our minds hazy. I take a sip as another plane comes in, red and white lights glowing fierce and steady straight down the runway as the wheels come down. I envy whoever’s inside. Not because they are obviously rich enough to own a private jet, likely lavish with leather seats and a glossy wooden minibar. But because, for this moment at least, it looks like they know exactly where they’re headed.
Being my own worst enemy, I dust up old troubles just to see what comes of it instead of leaving well enough alone like a properly adjusted person would do. I get bored and I get lonely and I get to wondering if I’m the only one who feels that way. The words are solace and they always seem to be there which is a good thing most of the time as long as I can get to them. If not, I get anxious. Scratch that, I’m anxious all the time, words or no words it makes no difference. Last night I dreamt I was walking down a cobblestone street somewhere in an old foreign city. Could have been Rome, though I’ve never been so your guess is as good as mine, but in any case it was absolutely dazzling. Tall buildings lit softly in afternoon light, red and white striped umbrellas, street fairs and tiny moped bikes, beautiful women, beautiful men, all brimming with life at an enjoyable pace as the deep blue of glittering sea moved lazily upon the shore in the distance. I’d like to tell you I was wearing some sort of indulgent flowy designer sundress, would have been so much more romantic, but I know I was wearing high-waisted jeans and a white midriff top punctuated by a very large pair of over sized black sunglasses. I know it was jeans because at one point I took the opportunity to slip my fair hand inside them to pleasure myself. It could have been under a sweet smelling willow tree in secret or in all honesty it could have been while walking down that cobblestone street, without shame, in front of the whole adorable scene. Judge if you will but dreams are dreams and if I had to venture an explanation I’d simply point to the pathetic way we treat acts of sexual pleasure in my culture. Girls are taught to be sexy in everything they do, made to feel they are on display at every moment, here to seduce every man, married or single, attached or not, attractive or not, while we are eating, shopping, studying, walking, sleeping, showering, dressing, undressing, drinking, speaking, teaching, learning, breathing, and the list goes on and on. And as we are out there being as pretty as we know how, we are also not supposed to be doing that because that is being immodest. Shamed if you do, shamed if you don’t, and truth be told I’m over all of it. If left to my own devices, I find myself intoxicating. Not because I’m special but because I am here, a flesh and blood and bone creature of mystery even to myself. Women fascinate me. Sex and fantasy draw me in again and again. All growing up I was never sure if that made me a good girl or a bad one so I played both sides all at once, splintering and shattering myself into a thousand tiny pieces I had to learn to put back together all by myself. Fuck what they think. They tell you lust is a game you play to try to capture someone else. But did you ever think that maybe you are the game, and you’re just playing with yourself?
Tired of making things up, I tell you something real about myself which you dismiss because my real bits can be tough to take. I light a cigarette and think about all the things I’ve wanted to say for so long but could never quite find the words so silence was key and darkness was comfort. Do you ever dream about the day you can finally come clean about the way you feel inside? Do you ever chew your fingernails while worrying that it will be too late in the end, when the wind and the rain and the sky come closing in on you and death doles out his inevitable fate? So little time and so much to say. So many mouths and so many empty promises swimming inside the churning sea of our complicated souls. I refuse labels but since you seem hell bent on putting me in a nice tight box I tell you I am a sensualist, which seems to both satisfy and frustrate you because you think I’m being coy. The truth is I don’t have the energy to be anything but honest which is likely what gets me into tricky situations I then find difficult to wiggle out of, though somehow I always do. Taking a drag, I lean back in my chair and spread my legs a little too wide. You raise an eyebrow as I breathe clouds of smoke into the dead air between us and stare at you straight. Open your mind and let me in. Open your doors and let’s fly away to a place where they can’t touch us, soar higher until they can no longer claw us down. Can’t you see I want to run away from all the things they promised would keep me safe from harm. Can’t you see the flash of hunger in my eyes when I ask you what you see when you look deep inside those secret places you keep hidden from everyone else. I want to taste every last drop of this life on my tongue. I know they don’t understand you and I know it hurts. You dance for them. You jerk them off to the self-righteous hymns of the religion they shoved down your throat and you hate yourself for it but alas here we are. You’re no better today than you were last week and I’m none the wiser but I still believe I could show you things you’ve never seen. Out the small window littered with tiny potted plants, the horizon begins to blush as the sun’s coming up. Another day, another chance to forgive and forget and throw it all behind you once and for all. But you and I both know you won’t run, and if you can’t run you can’t fly. We are alone when we are together and together when we part but somehow the agony sticks in your teeth. Behind me I feel your hand on my shoulder. I hear the indifference as you turn on your heels, and leave.
I tell you a story which begins with the sun sinking into the ocean and ends with a killing at dawn on a hill overlooking a graveyard littered with broken glass and dotted here and there with those ugly dollar store plastic flowers. The blade was sharp and she was willing and you probably saw the ending coming anyway, as I’m not the most clever story teller especially when I’ve been drinking. But I can tell you for sure that both the ocean and the blade were slashed crimson as blood. We disregard the danger to get to the thrill and with you and I it’s no different. There are bottles of whiskey smooth as hot silk and my tongue stroking yours as you gasp for air. You’re so pretty when you struggle, baby. There is the wet taste of my sex on my fingers as I insert them into your mouth and make you suck them deep down your throat. I like the sounds of you when you beg to be used. Such a handsome needy thing. I like the whimpers you make when I get you close to the edge and keep you there as I ride you like the wind. In the corner of my room there is an altar I made to remind me that I don’t believe but if I ever had a change of heart I would know exactly where to confess my undying devotion to whatever it is that has turned me into such a mess. In dreams, I carve symbols into your forearm as I kneel before you in the center of a towering cathedral. It is dark except for the bluish and purplish light streaming in through dusty stained glass high above us in the peaks of the church ceiling. As I lick your wounds I drink of your sweat and your skin, my chest aches with lust for your pain, your healing, it all belongs to me. In the presence of every god and every saint and every sinner who ever walked the earth, we fuck like sweet slutty angels upon an altar of marble and gold, much more solid, of course, than the makeshift one I’ve got at home, but still there are similarities. The ivory candles and the smell of incense, an air of reverence which gets me off as I take pleasure in our ruinous acts of desecration. You come so hard you start to cry and in my sated haze I lap like a kitten at the stream of your beautiful tears. Out across the graveyard, the one I told you about in the story earlier, the sky does not end nor do the clouds and something about the endlessness of the view from atop the hill is captivating in its eerie stillness. We are so small, so completely insignificant it both inspires and devastates. Our hearts pump the blood through our veins until they give up on us for good and all will go black, all will go silent and the pain will finally be done. I remove the blade from my pocket and carve the symbols from your forearm into the tree which stands stoic and tall in this unfeeling place. Maybe I do believe in something it’s just that it’s something no one else can understand. They hand you a rule book and tell you to pray. They tell you to keep their naughty secrets and look the other way. But the truth is, you get to decide what you worship.