Twitch

What she saw before is gone now, replaced by gray dishes in a gray sink beneath a gray window beneath the clouded winter sky. The kind of sight which is a presence all its own, with its own weight and skin and intention.

Steady. Slow. Melancholy.

Life is for the ignorant and death is for the curious.

She has become the circumstance and the story. Her mind floating in the middle of no beginning and an uncertain ever-ebbing end.

All day she smiles and tries to blend in. Whittle away at the space she takes up.

The thought of rejection scares her to bits but the thought of solitude is her only comfort. Wanting to be alone and not alone is an exhausting mind-stretched space to inhabit so she opens a bottle to drown out the ricocheting pressure of the need to make any kind of decision one way or another.

In or out. Yes or no. Forward or back.

Truth or dare.

They tell her a hobby would help or maybe a man but she isn’t sure what help is supposed to actually mean so she picks up some arty shit at the craft place up the street and stares at it until finally shoving it all under the bed, lighting a cigarette and staring off into the gray distance.

Never minding the gray dishes in the gray sink.

She doesn’t want to draw this feeling. She doesn’t want to paint the terrible.

Writing is the only thing worth anything to her but that’s the problem right there: writing isn’t like anything else and it isn’t a hobby.

It’s everything real and sacred and true and it is the only thing that can save her because it has to.

It has to.

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Photo by Victoria Volkova

Run, Girl

Beyond the painful thoughts which stab and prick underneath my skin, there is a field of beautiful dreams which I create out of desperation or maybe because I have always believed in magic while cursing the manic grief that is the current state of affairs in a world turned bitter and diseased.

The sun glares so bright against the hills of snow I have to squint and shield my eyes for fear of going blind. Everything is covered in shimmering crystal and for a while I know that I am made of it. Clean. Prismatic. That in each ray of light which bounces off of each tiny droplet of frozen water and ice, I exist shining for all to see across the miles.

When the world has all gone to shit and the weight of it on my tiny bones is too much to take, I run off to be alone, to unhook myself from the walls they pin me to so they can take what they want and leave the rest. There are vultures and they are everywhere and they do not smile or turn their heads, but rather pierce you square in the mouth with their dead black eyes. Blood suckers. Fools. Maggots.

In the field I am alone with the sky, the grass, the earth, sun, moon, birds, animals, butterflies, flowers, trees. It is every hour of every season all at once and the ocean breathes its way through the tall stalks as I am one with all of my surroundings.

I am not the cage of my body or the fence around my mind.

I am only expansion, uncontained, unowned. Free. Beautiful. Raw. It’s the rawness that is the most beautiful. A creature dangerous in its unpredictability.

I am not who I pretend to be to get along in this world which crushes out the soul like a cigarette under its thick dirty boot.

Ever since I turned twelve, I have had this nagging little fear of going to wide open spaces alone because: murderers. It may sound insane but there is this thing that always happens to me, and I do mean always.

No matter where it is, an empty beach, an empty street, an empty classroom, hallway, deli, restaurant. Out of nowhere, a stranger will appear and he will act strangely near me, at me, to me. I have done nothing but exist alone minding my business, and the universe will sense my aloneness and send in some manner of lunatic to interrupt my solitude with their unhinged antics.

It is maddening. It stunts my life. Makes me paranoid, jumpy, distracted.

Perhaps for this reason, in my mind I run into that field of dreams to escape the world which seems to stalk me back into myself.

Perhaps we are all someone we don’t want to be. And yet perhaps we wish we were so much more of ourselves at the same time.

Because the truth is that the animal within is monumental in its power to tempt. To betray. To seduce. To see, to touch, to awaken. To dare, to jump, to leap, to fly.

To kill.

To multiply.

To say No. To say Yes.

To open and open and open endlessly, do you understand? When you show them exactly what you are, you show them exactly what they are.

But they are too terrified to see.

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Photo by Dima Kosh

Fixations

He thinks I’m morbid but the truth is this is just how I am. I need to get a grip around my feelings and I like my feelings strong, vivid, unmistakable for anyone else’s but mine.

Some may call it intensity but for me it exists as heat, sensation, a presence which calls to me and cannot be denied, from which I cannot turn away, until I am able to map it out in all of its intricate intimacy.

Truth versus reality. A harshness of tone. All of this is textured in the patterns of my mind. I don’t know how to just be in this world. There is always a gnawing, a craving, a need. I read poetry to stroke my inner longing. A masturbation of the body of emotions.

You are only and always alone in the reading of poetry. The effects of the words on you, no matter how sinister, remain unseen by the outside world.

I am stalked by a dreadful feeling that these observations of mine will disappear before I may grasp them in full. That I will one day lose them even though they are, by definition, constantly leaving, repeatedly over, and there is nothing to be done about it because the nature of life is the steady destruction of everything.

Morbid is a matter of taste and inclination, not a matter of fact.

Snow is mixing in now with the freezing rain, the frozen drops soaring sideways just beyond the glass. The cruel sound of the wind lashes against my skin all over.

It’s not the big things that trouble me.

It’s the little things, the everyday terrors that grate underneath the surface of the hours. As the ice sprays like razors against my window, the silence in the house crawls upon my shoulders, pressing them in. I hate the hour from two to three o’clock in the afternoon. It is a mean hour indeed, like a glare, like a coldness caught out of the side of the eye.

It approaches and then there is something stubborn in the way it drags itself like nails down an empty wall.

In the dimming afternoon light, I trace the shadows in the corner with my tired almond eyes, following their eerie edges and wayward curves.

There is a shape in the heart which does not resemble the animal it is fitted within. Time ages the skin and whittles the bones, but the fire inside burns just as bright as it ever has.

The child, the shaken creature transported to earth from an alternate mysterious realm knows nothing about time, only eternity. Only forever.

Perhaps it’s the slowness of the ticking of the old clock on the desk that maddens me. Perhaps the way the lines on my hands resemble the waves of my hair or the smell of cold winter in the rings around my coffee mug.

The way mornings become afternoons without so much as a whisper.

The way the night slides in with its claws and its blood and its teeth.

Eyes fixed on me.

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Photo by Malicki M Beser

Breaking Skin

My card doesn’t work and the wind cutting bitter against the skin on my hand is so fucking freezing it burns like hot pinpricks all over. Times are tough and the globe is melting into itself but at the moment I’m stuck cursing the gas pump card reader while foraging for another card to try so I can get the hell out of there before my coffee gets cold or my frostbitten digits fall off, which ever comes first.

If I had half my act together I would have filled the tank yesterday but I was tired of everything and the old familiar feeling of gloom had settled in by the time the red sun sank low into the naked nest of trees in the meadow across the street.

Wandering the back roads on the way to the office, I watch as a man emerges from the side door of his little cottage-like home with his dog on a leash wearing only pajamas and an overcoat. No, the man in the pajamas and overcoat, the dog wearing only the collar and leash and a grumbled look on its face as if it, too, thinks walking in this nasty cold is a bad idea indeed.

The man lights a cigarette, oblivious. Numb.

I shudder as I drive on by.

Listening to someone on the radio chatter on about whether or not to break off her engagement with some poor chap who spent a good portion of his meager salary to buy her a shit ring, I wince and laugh out loud as people call in to offer their advice which the girl listens to and debates as we secretly judge her and all the other strangers for having poor instincts and even less tact.

I shouldn’t judge, of course, but everybody does and I’m quite tired, in fact, of worrying about what I should and should not do or care about according to a society so completely and perfectly morally screwed up it has no business instructing anyone about anything.

Later on I’m back at home with a whiskey, re-reading Virginia Woolf’s “The Death of the Moth” and trying to warm my hollow bones. Woolf observes the helpless winged specimen as it flits and flutters erratically in her windowsill until finally it struggles its last with tiny legs wriggling against the empty air and perishes, as small and strange in fitful life as it is frozen stiff in death.

The essay was published a year after Virginia Woolf ended her own life by walking into the River Ouse at Lewes with stones in her coat pockets, weighing her down.

A deep tug of sorrow fills my heart for someone I admire but do not know.

I swallow hard and watch as a steady swath of white smoke trails from a chimney across the way, thin and pale, vanishing like a ghost.

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Photo by Michele Seghieri

The Thing About Turning 42 No One Tells You

At 7:23am today I will have been on this earth for exactly 42 years.

December 8th 1978 seems a long time ago. And no time at all.

Time is a funny thing that way.

Rushing towards you even as it is rolling on by.

Birthdays are a funny thing, too. They always make me feel reflective but often leave me with nothing of any substance or wisdom to say. Birthdays are more listening than speaking, perhaps.

Just another day in a string of days and nights spent searching.

And I guess forty-two isn’t monumental in any certain sense. Each and every life is different, follows its own pattern, trajectory, path, fabric, and star.

All my life I have been a poet at my core. Everything I write, create, imagine, dream about is, at its heart, in its soul, poetry.

It can be so excruciating to wander the planet with this kind of heart on the sleeve, with these kinds of feathered bones and soft stumbling feet.

All these years, how many times I have killed off and resurrected my own magic, my own desperation. So often I have felt I do not know myself, do not trust myself. Thought that maybe I’m just crazy to try and fit into this hellish earthly place.

But there is so much beauty, too. So much mystery. To be a poet is to trust the voice you carry inside. Submit to it, let it mold you, change you, grow you, expand you.

It’s a weird way to live, to feel, to exist, because you sort of feel like you are trying to express an emotion, or conjure up a vision that no one else can ever understand.

And somehow you know this, deep down. You know it is futile.

But when you are born this way, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times your little poet body swings around the sun.

There will always be a fascination which borders on obsession going on inside of you as you braid your soul into the love and the fear.

Even after all these years, I want to inhabit myself.

Even if it never fully satisfies.

Even if it scares me.

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Photo: self portrait 

// 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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// 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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// And You Call It Love //

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.

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