When I Think of You

Time is running short and the day is closing in faded pinks and blues like an eyelid over a dying world. I could not chase you without the strength and so I let you go. But I never forgot what you told me, in the quiet light of midnight fire, about beauty, about the value and nobility of listening to the harvest moon. It is wrapped within the silence, this is the way I feel you now inside my skin. Untouched, untouchable, and pure. My way of moving through the world is at times waif thin, at times so quiet you could swear we had never even met at all. But you remember when you see my face in the mirror beside you, a ghost of the way we once were, radiant, magnificent, two voices tangled in laughter down the hall as we passed through one another into the rest of our lives. When I am alone, I light a cigarette and fill my lungs and the air with pain, sweet, burning pain which crushes out the embers of illusion. I cannot get you out of my head and yet I know my heart is only the more tattered and torn for it. Perhaps what we savor the most is the dread, perhaps it is the poetry which breathes the aching in our ribs. Little cages full of roses and water. In my mind, your hands encircle my throat and hold me beneath the ocean waves. You, like a baptism by drowning. You, like blood in a vein, a body pulsing with pleasure, sound, and magic.

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Photo by Mahir Uysal

The Beat Goes On

In the early morning light as it cuts corners into stark shapes along the buildings arranged in rows, a kind of hot energy bends and breaks itself upon the edges of the shadows. I hear and see things they cannot perceive and it both drains and fortifies me. Watch as the sun rises and falls, remember it stays the same, remember it is motionless and without need. White as cold ice melting at the bottom of a late night glass. As I fold my few things into a suitcase, the ocean plays itself in soft foam waves in my mind. Where in the world can we ever be free, but we try and we try and we run the pavement. He pours his coffee in the kitchen, I hear the mug slide onto the marble counter and something inside of me echoes inside of his daily routine. How do we tear our hearts out of this place. Sweet froths of pleasure sewn into the pain. Landscapes, seascapes, the heart is a difficult unnatural terrain. A summer of protests, the heat of violence, injustice, screaming and wrecking and pleading in the steaming streets. As I was taking down the words of Janaya Khan, something in their beauty tore a fire straight down the center of me. The Future. Their words full of fists, their soul full of dazzling light. I want to be changed. I want their hands on my skin, my wrists, my face, fingers in my blood. Don’t let me stay too long; don’t let me stay the same. They say the only punch that hurts is the one you don’t see coming. Eyes open now, beloved. Head up now, child. It’s time we learned ourselves a tough lesson. It’s time we held each other closer to the flames.

Stimulants

We are not of this world, but of the stars expanding and melting into the far greater beyond. They try to keep us small and it hurts like hell because we try to cut ourselves to fit but it just makes us feel itchy and out of place. I like the way your hair falls across your face when you tell me you want to kiss me but you know it would be wrong. I watch that eager mouth of yours widen as you roll the words around on your tongue. So much we have not yet tasted in this hijacked ride of a synchronized life. What I wouldn’t give to swallow you whole, to turn your prickly panic into ecstatic waves of oceanic paradise. But there are commitments and there are bills to pay, and we’re so damaged we pull the blinds closed to protect our open wounds from daylight. We buy booze and we buy time, trading worn out ideas about regret and love and pain and death. You think the only thing that matters is worldview. You lecture me something about developing an outlook of strength that borders on callous indifference but then you melt like butter over my weakness for poetry and soft pink flowering trees. I don’t like frilly things, I feel awkward about romance because I can never figure out where to touch it to get what I want. I try to learn myself, I try to name the things inside which desire. How dangerous, a woman possessed with desire, how her fire threatens to consume everything she touches, caresses, gazes upon with her greedy alien eyes. We try so hard to be good but when push comes to shove, we are all starved for affection, hungry for love, hungry for a life so much bigger, grander, more electrified than this one. I tell you I don’t know why I write anymore, all it does lately is box me in and I’m already trapped as it is. Writing feels cagey, or maybe it’s me. I’m tense, I’m tight, and something about the darkened look in your eye feels like the release I’ve been pacing in front of for a long, long time.

Portal

Dusk falls in around the house, mellowing the quiet as a strong ray of slanted orange light streaks through the front window and bends off of the large mirror standing against the side wall. I’m curled into the corner of the couch making notes about some books I’m reading but my eyes are tired and my mind is hazy from a long day hunched over papers and screens. I hear you coming into the kitchen, opening the fridge, and my body eases, my bones relax. Maybe what we have isn’t always easy but there are times, unexpected times, but times none the less, when things seem so close to perfect it actually aches in my chest to think there could have been any other kind of life than this. You pour the wine and ask who I am writing for all this time, but the answer is not as simple as you might think. I write for myself mostly, but I also write for other people, people who are changing and evolving just as I am, all the time, becoming new, and then dead, and then alive again, new again and again. I tease my fingers through their distant minds hoping to stroke upon some kind of secret, something with depth, with teeth, something dark. What is in the dark is always honest. Closing up my work and tucking it away, I follow you out into the back garden and take a long deep breath of springtime evening air, moist earth, fresh cut grass, and a hint of lilac from the neighbors’ yard mixed with the smoky scent of burning leaves. Sitting upon your knee, I drink my wine and kiss you deep. You are all tanned skin, wild golden hair, soft lips, harsh beard, and light perspiration. A day in the sun is all you ever desire as I wait inside and pray for the gray soak of heavy rain. How often our lives are one thing on the surface but a whole mess of tangled wilderness underneath. At times this scares me about myself, about us. The thought of promising another access to all the secrets, some kind of entrance into the wide open, unexplored terrain within. The truth is, there are places inside me no one else will ever see. Not because they don’t want to or haven’t tried. Lord knows, how they have tried. But because they will never be invited in.

Feral

Tired of the same old thing and having been beaten to a numbed pulp by the status quo, you and I take a bottle of bourbon down to the boat docks to watch the sunset on the water before the stars come out overhead. These are strange times made even stranger by the fact that we thought we’d already been through everything that could possibly break us apart.  But nothing is forever and there’s simply no easy way to explain to you why in a manner which doesn’t sound callus. Cruel. Foolish. Cumbersome. The things which swim around in my soul are complicated and deep and it’s not that you can’t understand me it’s that it’s really quite possible that nobody can. The birds in the reeds are singing their various springtime songs out across the bay, oblivious to death and viruses and Wall Street and all the rest. Humans would be better off to stay hidden away from nature as long as possible. We’ve become too toxic, too plastic, too chemically infested. I could swear the squirrels and the soft flowering trees look a good bit happier with us all locked inside. Pollution is clearing, smog is lifting, there are actual swans swimming and dolphins splashing gleefully about in a sea port in Venice. As the human race appears to be hell bent on offing itself, creatures all around us great and small rejoice for the end of the world as we have abused it and dance forward into a time when we leave them in well deserved peace. Taking a swallow, I scan the horizon as my insides warm in contrast to the cool air of evening. The smell of wet wood and sandy beach. How many times I sat here with you looking out into a fiery distance which is both frightening and awe inspiring as the sky turns to streaks of reds, purples, and electric pinks. What is the future we think we want to build together and why would we ever think it could work. I go left when you go right and in the end that might be what does it, it’s impossible to be sure. All I know is I don’t want to end up like everyone else because everyone else is barely holding it all together. They work some job to pay the bills for a house and a lawn and a couple of kids. The spark leaves their eyes only to be replaced by the anxious look a wild animal gets when it suddenly discovers it’s trapped in a cage. Though they smile, something behind their fake expression is cut through with sharp alarm. Instead of freedom, calculations are being made, trade offs, compromises, accommodations, until they no longer recognize themselves in the mirror. As they scroll like zombies through their Facebook feeds, something inside their perfectly performed existence always feels like it’s just about to snap.

Tough Guy (audio / explicit)

Never enough time to do what you want, you trade a flashy smile for a few moments to yourself in peace. Is it you or is it them or is it the encroaching of everything that has you short of patience with the mundane? You know the stares and the blankness which surrounds you so well you can see it with your eyes closed. It curls around you as you sleep. You feel it in the backdrop of the dreams you once had which you let fall away like tissue paper snowflakes disappear on the warm cheek of a woman you once knew to whom you no longer speak. All of those wishes for grandness, for a way to touch the sky and dance along the edges of a drunken starry night. The way your hands slid easily up her shirt and encircled her perfect milky breasts as she straddled you in the backseat of your beat up old hatchback, Radiohead, vodka, cigarettes. One at a time your tongue thick upon each nipple, your teeth sunk deep into her cinnamon flesh until you felt her pulse quicken as she sucks at the empty air for breath. You with your angry bloodshot eyes and she with the tight body ticking like a clock. With every thrust you make her count backwards from the end of innocence. Now there is no time like the present and there’s so little hope for a future as the world drapes a noose around itself while humming holiday classics. Sinatra, martinis, pantyhose, mobsters, excess. And for all the elegance she displays somewhere out there where you’re not allowed to be, you can still feel her trembling skin underneath your fingernails, taste the sweetness of her heavenly folds as she lay open, blossoming before you, begging for you to stop. Not to stop. The mind is a dangerous place without escape, your addictions spread inside your bones like wildfire. And as you walk along the streets the swollen winter sky turns from white to gray to black. The traffic lights blinking are signals you’re sending to your own tired heart. Walk. Don’t walk. Yes, no, maybe, try again later. Go, baby, go, and don’t you ever, ever look back.

All You Need (audio)

These strange days crawl into the palm of your hand like little wild animals hoping to be tamed. I can’t get your voice out of my head and it’s making it hard to breathe. What was it you said to me that split my heart in two? Something about love, something about forever. The taste of it is still stuck between my teeth. As I sit on the steps in front of an old church, I watch the people shuffling by with dreams in their pockets, echoes of lifetimes crowding at the heels of their tired feet. If I don’t write I can’t think and I don’t know what I think if there are no words on the paper in front of me, it is a lonely feeling, well, lonely and not lonely. I think it was Audrey Hepburn who said, I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone. That’s about right. My head hurts and my vision is pained. Too much light, too much wine, too much darkness coursing through my veins. How much money do you have to throw at the problem to make the world stop spinning. How many boys do you have to kiss before you turn into something you think they might want. We turn ourselves inside out. We turn the pleasure into pain and the pain into an excuse not to explain why we do the stupid things we do. If I don’t write I can’t see. If I don’t write I can’t get out of my own way. But it’s you tying my hands behind my back. It’s you piercing roses against my wrist with a look in your eye like you need me so badly you can taste the tears inside my mind. It’s you lodged in the back of my throat. Tell me, sweetness, tell me so deep. When is forever and if it’s forever is that all you need.

Virus (audio)

Click the play button to hear me read this to you. It feels like a time for reading to each other, I don’t know… I hope you like it and if you do let me know and I can read more each day….

Fairly unnerved, I sit atop the little bed in my writing room sipping coffee and staring blankly out the window. Birds are chirping their various greetings and announcements from trees near and far through the dense fog which obscures a clear view of anything in the distance. The thickness of the air is strange but other than that the scene appears much as it always has. Early morning, hazy light. Rooftops among bare branches, tiny windows and inside them, tiny pale yellow lights. I can hear the rushing sounds of the highway a few blocks away, but on my street the parked cars stay put. Dog walkers, a runner, but no children walk by to school. No school. In a time like this, with the COVID-19 virus spreading like invisible wildfire, it strikes me that there has never been a time like this. Not that I have lived through. Hope to live through. And I look around me, observing, as any artist does, the reactions and emotions of people, and of myself. I see cycles. There are spirals, there are tracks we race around like figure eights, climbing up, spinning down. I go from anger to fear to rage to rage to fear to anger to planning to compassion to love to strength to helplessness to hopelessness to heart, and all around and back again in a matter of moments which repeat in a loop but the loop feels endless and new and dreadful and old and stale and jarring and shocking and surreal and numbing all at once. Repeat, repeat, repeat, check the news, repeat. And coffee. Much coffee. And while over the past few months I have told so many stories I’ve lost count, the only thing I can think about right now is nothing and everything in a terrible clashing symphony inside my head. My little plants reach for the sheer washes of light which mist through my open window. They are green and leafy and reaching, little creatures of springtime silence. And I thought I would read this all to you, let you hear my voice. Not because I have anything profound or even necessarily helpful to say, because I don’t. But some voice inside keeps asking me to be a voice on the outside, maybe just to let you know I am here. And in a way, here with you.

In Case of Emergency Person

Giving you the middle finger, I smile and take another sip of my drink. We’ve been messing around for hours discussing the disastrous state of the world as the fools who run it flick on the code red emergency lights right before taking off in their private jets to masturbate themselves to a comfortable death as the rest of us run the streets and spin wildly out of control. It’s a sickness that lives in all of us I suppose, something like self-preservation perverted into a blood sport, but you and I have decided to try to be on our best worst behavior in order to forget about everything just for one forgettable night. Pouring us each another, you lead me into a darkened room with a plush rug upon the floor. You trace your finger along my jaw while telling me I look like somebody famous, you just can’t figure out who. The taste of your kiss turns my insides to liquid heat. I’m so warm from the whiskey I’d be anyone you want me to be just to feel your skin on my skin, but I don’t tell you this because it sounds so goddamn cliche. There are lovers and there are players, there are nihilists and there are fatalists. Romantics and devils and jokers and right now we are all of these things and so much more. Like two drunk fugitives, we build a crude fire in the fireplace, smoke something to take the edge off the edge we always seem to be teetering on, and make mad love as our little hearts pound like heavenly thunder rolling out across the breathtaking beauty of a crimson apocalyptic sky. To the moody sounds of The Cure, I curl into your arms and wonder what it would be like to live in a world where everyone is free. Everyone is loved and no one is ever left out in the cold. Impossible, of course. But sometimes when I’m alone, when I don’t have to fake being hopeful or charitable or kind, something inside me is anyway. There are people in this world who are so much better than me and at times I wish I were one of them. They are compassionate and sweet, even when nobody’s looking. I watch as the fire weakens to a cold electric blue, turns to smoky embers and then flickers out. You have fallen asleep, the opalescent light of the moon glowing a sheer path across your peaceful face. I close my eyes and fold my hands praying for escape, but only the stars disappear. Inside I am a wide open space, a static vacancy, an empty silence where faces in dreams fade in and out, but none ever stay.

Drifters

People will take as much as you give them and then ask for more without so much as batting an eyelash but maybe that’s why we only pass like ships in the night instead of slowing down long enough to see each other’s faces. I don’t want to see, I don’t want to know. I’ve seen and known enough as it is to last a few lifetimes, most of them just as chaotic and aimless as this one. The rain is coming down steady and quiet. I listen to it plinking on the tin roof of an old farmhouse just down the road. You can hear that the street has been soaked for hours already and tiny lakes are sinking into the places where the sidewalk is cracked and uneven. There is no wind, there is no chill in the air as there had been all week. It is a random warm day nestled in among the others, more seasonal. I write about the weather because I need to know what’s inside me, and the way in is always through. Through the things you can sense with your body, touch, taste, caress. The trouble is, of course, I see just as much inside me as I do outside me and it can sometimes be tough to tell the difference. We long for a life instead of just the same day on repeat for an eternity until it’s over. We want the magic but we resist the change of seasons. We want the sun but not the burn, the light but not the dark, the pleasure without the pain. I want all of it. I want all the wrong things and the more I keep that locked away the more it pricks its claws in my veins. In an old hotel room with crooked wooden floors and a high slanted ceiling, I am drinking rose wine and trying to abide by the nonsmoking rules of the establishment. Above a distressed looking chest of drawers, there is a painting of an enormous pale blushing pink peony, its dense heavy head hanging low, its single wide eye gazing down at a shadowy garden below. There is something about the way this delicate flower appears to possess all of the ancient secrets to melancholy, whispers from the beginning of time about the way beauty and sadness are forever intertwined. The way its petals are layer upon lush layer of story, of feeling. It is a universe with endless depths. Its softness like the bend of a sumptuous ache which attracts me to it. I run a hot bath and think of the way you pull my hair and kiss my neck. The way you trail your tongue along the curve of my hip, leave little bite marks on my pale smooth skin. How even though I feel it, I am still alone inside and always will be. When the rain falls I can hear its voice, I can feel it wet and healing as it pours itself over the gravestones on the hill underneath a full gray sky. In the stillness I am most alive but what is ever still anymore. What isn’t constantly chewing on itself. What isn’t lying flat on its back, staring up to the heavens, as the earth comes falling in.