It’s too late or too early and I’m in a mood so we are ignoring each other and when we get like this the only thing to do is seal myself off to write behind closed doors. People make me nauseous and even though I’m sure it’s just as much me as it is them, cocooning myself inside the darkness of my own mind is how I deal with the seemingly constant onslaught of other people’s neuroses. When did we become so competitive? When did we become so paranoid and cruel? Why does everyone say one thing when they mean another? Why do we hide what we want so desperately to expose? As I light a candle at the foot of the blue virgin statue among my random collection of mysterious talismans and various house plants, the flickering flame twinkles and reflects on the crystals which adorn a taller faux candle close by. My grandmother, terrified of fire and water and a handful of other everyday occurrences, got us all into the faux candles a while back. I can’t say I blame her as by this point in my life I have caused my fair share of small fires due in no small part to negligence and probably alcohol, but I live to tell the tale(s). I’m supposed to be shopping for holiday gifts but all I can seem to concentrate on are a fine pair of tight black leather pants which make my little heart race, imagining all the ways I could style them over the coming winter months. It’s funny the things we crave. To have and have, to acquire, to rule over a world even if it’s just our own tiny personal universe of visions and dreams. How to fill the void of the days we have been given on a planet which is collapsing in upon itself bit by bit. What’s it all for and where are we going with any of it? All to the grave. A death which stalks each and every one of us which we cannot see. In a flash of memory, I remember you and the way you used to describe the world as you saw it, so much optimism, so much arrogant nonsense, but you believed in nothing more than you believed in yourself and I was too blinded by the sensuous tone in your voice to see that you were just taking me along for the ride. There are shadows all around even as we kiss and dance and smile in the glaring light of a day too bright. Wishing it would cloud over and rain hard and heavy to relieve the itch of my anxiety, I get up and turn the blinds closed. The writing comes and goes because I’m not focused on the deeper things, there are feelings and thoughts inside I am unable to access at the moment and I dread the wait for the resistance to fall. I’m still in a mood hovering over the black pants I now seem to have decided I rightly deserve, but you bring me a second cup of coffee and kiss the top of my forehead. All is forgiven because there was no point in being angry to begin with. As you exit through the doorway, my eyes drift up to survey a dusty book lined shelf. Curling my knees to my chest, I watch in silence as the sand in the hourglass falls.
You cannot wait for them, they will never understand much less encourage you. If it sings within your heart, take it and make it your own. Write what you know and write what you wish you knew but probably never will. There are no rules except to not die with stories unspoken, still haunting your sad skeletal bones. When I was young I wore a micro mini crimson dress that hugged the curve of my hips and made men twitch at bars and clubs until I could dance no more, before going home alone to pass out in bed without undressing. The mornings were afternoons, the mascara was smudged in circles underneath my eyes. Life as a multicolored blur of lights, pulsing music and game of desire. I couldn’t tell you if I was happy then, I didn’t even really try, but the fear which gripped me back then was nothing like the fear which flutters within me now. The fear of being rejected has been replaced by the fear of all the many things I reject. Life at arm’s length, life on its way as it passes me by. As I tell you stories about my younger days when I was carefree, stupid, and invincible, we stroll past tiny gardens fully decorated with twinkling Christmas lights, soft and glowing in the dark. Small scratched animals and a celestial blue virgin in the snow. Blinking stars, animated reindeer, and a plastic Jesus. In the distance I can hear the cars on the interstate sliding by underneath a billboard which flashes the hot pink electronic image of the word Risqué in fancy cursive letters next to a beautiful stripper in a red corset lined with white fur, legs for days and her eyebrows are perfect. The trees are icicles, glistening with crystallized frost. My breath catches in my throat from the stinging cold and I shove my mittened hands deeper into my down-filled coat. Life is a warm hay lined manger when no one will let you in. Life is a slap in the face when what you need most is affection. It’s a wonder any of us pause to celebrate. Too numbed by the frigid night air to continue talking, I look up at you, and you are quiet, your eyes scanning the lane for icy patches. Obstacles. Protection. And I cannot tell you if I was happy back then, when the water I dangled my young body over was black as death and ten times as deep. But as we make our way back on this long winter’s night for white wine and Chinese food at our place, I think I would tell you that I am happy now.
There are millions chasing but few will ever grab the brass ring. She has full breasts and flawless skin but she is far from flawless. Riddled with self-loathing and the feeling that some kind of tiny insects are breeding at lightening speed and crawling underneath her veins, she smiles and keeps it all inside. She’s so pretty they take her picture for hours on end, make her frolic in the frozen ocean in the coldest winter on record as she wears a bikini and her hips are numb and her lips are blue as the razor sharp sky overhead which is a blank stare, offering no comfort and no relief. As I imagine all the models all across the world who have been humiliated just for show, I wonder why so many of us are willing to go so far for attention and why the rest of us care to see it play out in as many gruesome scenes. Is it sad or fascinating. The flashing lights and recognition, is it currency or oppression and are they different things. I once watched a TV show where a beautiful young girl posed for the camera while holding a tarantula inside her wide open ruby red mouth. And as the hairy thing crawled even further toward the back of her throat she didn’t even flinch, whereas I, observing from the comfort of my couch in my humble second floor apartment, began to gag and had to leave the room. I’m fairly certain it was around that time I stopped watching cable television. We share whisky and cigarettes and embarrassing secrets about ourselves late at night while wrapped up in each others arms. We push each other down and inflict bite marks which turn to bruises we then lick and kiss as we fuck with abandon until dawn. When you want it soft I’m distant and when I want it hard you disappear but every once in a while there are sensations which electrify every nerve and could never be described in mere words on a listless page. There are card tricks and magic shows, sleight of hand and lovers severed in half and all the while we wander this circus turning over stones in the hopes of finding anything worth believing in, worth pulling close to our chest and holding on to if for no other reason than to keep from drifting off into a state of permanent isolated melancholy. But truth be told I’m more curious about the ones who hide in shadows and pursue a strange light which burns only within themselves. The ones who cannot find the words but can make your body sing as though come back to life. I don’t want answers and I don’t need one more person telling me how to live my best life. I’ve rarely been one for romance but then again maybe that’s what I’ve been missing all my life. Read me a poem that tears me into a thousand pieces of myself I didn’t even know I possessed. Tell me about the way when she knelt before you and looked up at you with those wet hungry eyes you were certain this here before you was god herself in the naked body of an angel come to earth to spread herself only for you. There are some things we cannot bear to swallow, only write about. There are some things we cannot say no matter how hard we try because something in us is not ready. Will never be ready. And as we dangle our little feet over the gaping precipice, we want nothing more than to leap but something always holds us back.
It could be a burned out autumn, it could be the dead of winter, but either way there is a flame in his hazel eyes which seems to dance to the chant of maidens in the darkness of a thick enchanted wood. As I tug on my tights to pull them into place I catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the window of the small coffee shop where you and I have known so many late afternoon conversations which turned into dinner which turned into bottles of wine before falling easily, hungrily into your bed, which truth be told was just a mattress on the floor of your studio. We were not meant to be forever, at first we didn’t even seem to be anything at all but you were kind and gracious and I was curious and free. As I straighten myself up, the rain begins to fall soft and then hard and heavy causing me to pull my hood over my head and duck under a small overhang for shelter. Despite my best efforts to stay dry, the wind pushes the rain against my face and I taste its coolness sliding into my mouth through parted lips. Life is cruel when you least expect it. There are days when even though you try to fight the sadness it comes and puts its weary arms around you anyway. Across the street, the little stick figure people are running for cover while slamming their feet into giant puddles seemingly formed in seconds flat. Turning away into a corner of the building out of the wind, I cup my hand and light a cigarette letting the first drag sting my lungs. As I turn back to watch the hustle of city lights drowning their colored glow into the flowing streets, I feel your fingers lace with mine as you appear out of nowhere to share my smoke. I’m not sure how you got here or why and I am surprised at the electricity that jolts through my entire body when, without a word, I meet your eyes. You so close I can feel your heat, smell the scent of your skin gently dampened by the rain. My hair is a mess and you see it. My face is cold and stained with gray weather but you tell me all you see is the way everything about me glistens and shines. Having nothing to lose or believe in, we begin to kiss, tongues drinking each other in. Maybe it’s the rain or maybe it’s the rush of seeing you again after all this time, but in what feels like only a blur of slippery moments we are back at your place removing our wet clothes by candlelight, settling in upon a blanket you’ve laid out on the floor at the center of the room. As your mouth tastes the curves of my wet skin, your touch is familiar, delicate and rough in equal measure. Just as it has so many times before, my body responds and opens for you, something about the way you move unlocks me. You trespass and I allow, I beg for the sweet violation. We are an ocean at midnight, our bodies as helpless and obedient to our desire as the rise and fall of the tide. After we are satisfied, after the secrets are braided into our goodbyes, I’ll not stay and you’ll not insist. I take what is mine and leave what is yours behind. Not every story is a fairy tale. There are no princesses and there are no white knights and no one knows what they are doing most of the time. But perhaps there are angels in this world who take you back to their bare apartments with the warehouse windows stretching high in to the empty trees. They’ll make you Manhattans and feed you black cherries in the purple hours of random evenings you will remember for the rest of your life. Maybe in the rare artful hands of a familiar stranger, we are made exquisite, messy and divine.
Some days I am more poetic than others and this used to be hard for me to be okay with, even though to define what that even means is nearly impossible. A poet should always be poetic, no? Have the words and ability to make all things more beautiful. But the truth is I have many sides, many shapes, many forms of expressing how I observe and move through this multifaceted existence. Sometimes you can dress it up in a pretty box all you want but the reality is nothing but gruesome cold hard facts. There are days like today, freezing rain outside and me warm as toast inside with my morning coffee, still in a muffled sleepy state as I shuffle from bed to the writing room and nestle in among my books and papers. Staring up into the white winter sky, I remember a hazy dream I had last night soaked full of lust and carnal fulfillment to the tune of multiple toned and writhing bodies torturing and pleasuring one another into an aching shattered explosion of collective ecstasy. Faceless except for their mouths, the figures were the embodiment of greedy physical desire, the desire to please oneself by violating another. Watching and being watched. We are creatures of unspeakable cravings and yet we are also beings of great ingenuity, generosity, openness and compassion when we want to be. I once read that we imagine a wide variety of sexual fantasies we would never actually want to live out in real life. The imagination provides a cocoon, a buffer, a safe space to play around with dangerous scenarios. I’ll leave that right there and let you decide how you feel about it, my only point is that people are far stranger inside their nasty little heads than we admit and there are days when all this self-righteous prudishness strikes me not as noble strength but as a sad sort of weakness. Too often we cringe at ourselves just for being human. Sure there’s something to be said for decorum and modesty in certain circles but there is also the fact that few things delight me more than reading about other people’s perversions which in no small way validate and celebrate my own. This revelation is no doubt revolting to some and endearing to others but at the end of the day, here we are. There is the truth and there is nibbling around the truth and one is more valuable than the other. Because your last breath is coming and possibly sooner than you can guess. And when it’s all shadow closing in on you and your next heartbeat is the final for all eternity, do you want to have known yourself in all your weird deviations or greet death only ever having propped up an empty hollow shell? There’s writing for them, and there’s writing for yourself, and you have to decide which is more sacred to you. I was brought up to please, to be polite and palatable, and the older I get the less I care about the comfort of others. As a stiff wind moves through the tall bare trees, I crack the window even though the air is a frigid bite against my hands. Running a hot bath, I sink into the liquid pool, observe my alabaster skin beneath the vanilla scented bubbles, and wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I spill secrets on the internet as if there were no consequence. It’s funny how humans are. We want to hide in plain sight, to be seen and understood and yet remain a mystery. We want to believe we are immune to caring what other people think of us. And in our backwards attempt to own what little of our story we have left, we seek control by giving it all away.
Alone reading Nietzsche, I’m curled up in a nest of blankets to keep out the cold as I glance around my writing room at all of the books lining multiple shelves and stacked randomly in piles all over the floor. Poetry, philosophy, mysticism, stoicism, nihilism, erotica, paganism, porn, humor, atheism, usage/grammar/diction, literature, and on and on. Essay collections, short stories, novels, by the young and the old and the older even still. How many words, how much we are trying to say and still we writers believe there are more ideas to be pinned down and translated, more dreams to chase after in our wild little heads. I have taken lovers, I have taken drinks offered by handsome strangers at fancy bars. I have taken cabs at three in the morning, taken the hands of those who got me high and those who held me down. I’ve taken what was mine and taken even more than that when no one was looking. But the one thing I have been reaching for my whole life without ever being able to quite hold on or quite let go is the word. The word that will capture it all, say everything I don’t know how to say, so that this fire in my veins can at last be sated. It is unstable. It is unrelenting. Writing is an addiction. I want to stop and I never want to stop. I write to keep the demons satisfied and the people who think they know everything at bay. It is protection, it is an ember of warmth in the dead loneliness of a starless night. But it also taunts me, laughs at me while calling to me even when I can’t do anything about it. Even when there is nothing left in me, it wants more. Who are we writing for and what is it we think is so important that it is worth the struggle or the search? There are no answers, and yet there are all the answers we believe can be found if we just keep at it for one more day, one more night, one more year upon year of the passing away of an entire life. There are people who are content in this life with what is handed to them. They follow the rules and do as they are told and accept the punishments and rewards, artificial and oppressive as they may be. I see them smiling with nothingness behind their eyes. But something in the artist cannot bear it. Some strange fixation which tears inside my body forces me to question everything. De omnibus dubitandum. Even when they offer me a hand, I don’t trust any of their reasons why.