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.
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.
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.
Isn’t that what you always wanted, something to dangle me over the edge with, some kind of blade some kind of sliding eyes. I believed you when you told me I was everything but maybe we are all thirsty, maybe we are all scabbed over the knees and forever halfway between home and heartache. Some of us live here. And die here. And spin ourselves sick in the cruel open hands of those who cannot take care of themselves. I would open my mouth for you but then you’d come too close. This is a silence we wear on the outside, we are window panes heavy and drunk with rain. Locked down tight but completely transparent. We would hide but our hearts had long ago, by unspeakable things, been forced open. And oh, our hearts. Our mad beautiful masochist hearts.
Turning to look at you, I can barely feel my own body as we nearly kiss. Under your gaze I am already the faintest linen sheets, even before your fingers reach my skin. This is the fascination and the destruction, the way you build me up into heaven before all hell rushes loose from you. No matter the weather, I drink.
Late night phone calls, sex on the sliding pale of dawn, cigarettes and wine, the way the moonlight splays herself down along an endless hallway of cherry hardwood. Through a break in the blinds I can see the old wind turning shadows upon the autumn leaves.
The time changes to sweaters and tall boots and my new obsession with photography even though I never get the angle right so I end up mostly paralyzed and distracted. When it’s pictures of myself it only gets worse, the insecurity, the hyper attention, the opening in my stomach which imagines new and more spectacular worlds, more quiet and less beautiful. We have made ourselves this way as if on purpose and yet we cannot seem to undo ourselves quite as easily.
I like the taste of your fingers across my mouth and how when you speak your voice is nearly choked with worship yet there is a tinge of something on your tongue that tells me you don’t have the capacity to care beyond a certain point. Some people grow a callous around the place too many have touched the wrong way and it gets walled off forever. I don’t need that part of you, at least that’s what I tell myself so that I can live on the edges of a pain I can give my innocence to without losing it completely.
They tell me I have a problem with addiction but I think it’s just that when I look at you the devotion in my heart is like ribbons threaded through a young girl’s dream. Tug on it and the whole thing falls apart. The trouble is you’re just like all the others, the way they sprung up around me like the gush of sudden fountains just to collapse in upon themselves. Mindless. Reckless. Incredible. How the mind can leave its shell behind and we just take whatever we can get.
It’s all around you, the way the vacant words falling from the mouths of those who do not understand separate and resuscitate themselves, surviving only barely by the eating of your breath.
You like the rainy days because they break you and cradle you just enough. I can tell you wear anguish and destruction like a shield, that you believe safety is a gag and a blanket, something you win by paying for it with every aching fiber of who you want to be.
When you smile I want to pull the flowers from your bleeding chest and plant them in the darkest corners of my mind. Never to forget you, you and all of your wilderness, all of your seasons of life and skeletons and death. A wall of tears is suspended in the air, at any moment about to crash along the surface of your limbs. You can tell me all the dirty things, I have no interest in robbing them of you.
The moment I met you I knew we had known each other for a very long time, it felt like my eyes resting behind your eyes would have made perfect sense. The way you saw the majestic and the terrible things I could see and did not turn away. I am always so taken by the souls of those who find silence to be rich, the ones who slide their bodies into a quiet room and listen for the things most people throw away by moving too fast, protruding too intrusively, talking too much. Saying nothing about nothing when I hunger for so much.
They shuffle and speak in low tones as you drift past their illusions and up into the blue electric sky. It’s not that you don’t care it’s just that there has to be more than this, something with a deeper soul must exist if only people would let the darkness into the light and the light into the places where they think there is nothing more to see.
And as they keep trying to sell us eternity, we fade farther and farther into retreat. This moment, the one catching you and I by the gap between heartbeats, this is the only one we need.
Sunlight dims to gray pretending to fall through the window as I pretend my mind is not so full of madness I can taste the blood in my gums. When we speak of art, of beauty, of the written word, of what do we actually speak? Mostly torture. Mostly the cutting away of every untruth the others cannot even detect. I’m no better at life but I do show up and the showing up is usually what tears the skin off the bone.
They say you have to keep going even in the face of adversity and then they try to convince you that the adversity comes from outside. Look on the walls, they say to you; look into their flush faces, listen to their unbridled hatred. We cannot admit the demons are really on the inside, that the monsters may multiply but they all wear my face.
Gazing into the dresser mirror, I think of the way you left me stronger than you found me and then I question even that. To know you was to love you by untying the fears which kept me pinned to the ground. I came up to the surface for air only to discover you and you were a drowning I wanted more than life itself. Why do we do these things, why do we cringe and sweat over the way certain people kiss with death all stained upon the mouth.
Why do we try, why do we write, why do we peel the mothworn curtains back just to reveal another day. To get to something. And even though we know it’s there we fight ourselves to get to it anyway. We the small slits of intimacy, we the sharp unnatural bends in the wing.
When no words worth repeating show up I imagine packing away my notebook and heading back into the world gutted by depletion, rejected even by myself and I know that is the heaviest burden of all. To feel that there is not one single place in all the world – outside or in – where you belong.
Maybe the bad days are just the way too many good ones weigh us down in the quiet moments we never speak about. Maybe they blend the unforgiving sky with the cold rain and even our insides are made of decay. Maybe I just have to wait, and I can do that. I hate it. But here I am, waist deep.
Tracing the curve of my left shoulder with your tongue you whisper your obsession with my feathered tattoo and the way my hair smells of cream linen and musky autumn warmth.
I am trying desperately to tear my mind into shreds to keep her quiet and let me spread into what is sure to come next if I could just let go.
It is a hard thing to manage when the world is falling to hell more quickly now than ever before. Every word is a promise and promises break. It is so much more brutal to have to tell the truth when the truth is that half the time humanity makes no sense to me, that despite all the trimmings we hang upon the walls of the houses we build in our hands, nothing seems to be able to ease this restless burden most of us have become.
You lay me down and look at me like maybe you think I am the answer. The impossible beauty of your heart watches patiently as my body becomes the earth and my veins become rivers of thin pewter floods rushing out in all directions. I am a sea creature, I am a weather vane, I am the sobs of your childhood nightmares finally slinking down through the floor.
You are a kind of safety I am afraid to know. So many people live like lives should all be the same, they skim the surface and eat it and eat it and eat it instead of admitting they have been starving since birth because they are afraid to die. Push each other down, push it all away, press the dry burning leaves against the fractured window panes.
As you bury yourself into me my eyes catch upon a sliver of the sky, screaming blue. As though even the heavens do not believe our anguish.
As the pale ticking of a clock slides eternity farther and farther away from my hands – I cannot shake this feeling buried heavy inside my limbs. There is a place where frailty is the beginning of strength beyond anything you have ever seen, where spring green seeds line the inner corners of eyes yet to be born, and it is there you may dream of everything they told you not to dream.
It is within the fabric of this oceanic thing you may breathe air, smoke, water, freedom.
And the voices which call you away cut against the grain. Where light flashes across your nighttime feet and you remember how to move, clumsily at first, hideous at best. From your dying mouth the world away turns, spins out across the purpling abyss. The inner world is the world according to yourself, the smell of rot, the smell of blood, the smell of a lilac tree blooming eroticism at the fullness of season. The scent of firesides lined with snow, winter climbing the legs of empty trees. It is the most exhausting softness you have ever heard.
There is a spirit who moves among even the least spiritual creatures. There are ties that bind us which we refuse to see. And for all the ways we burn each other to the ground it knows that sometimes ashes are the only way we remember how to believe. Will it come on paper boats, will it sound like drums, will the poets find the words in time.
I watch them write about what they tell themselves is love. I see how they stutter against the words they do not know they do not mean. There is a sadness which has hardened into stone, too many hollow people lusting after one another’s bones.