What will you do when the words run out, when the sands of the grains of the time you spent together slide through your fingers only to scatter on the wind. Not everything you want is something you need. How do you tell the difference? I carry within me multiple hearts. I know because at least a few have stopped beating but I’m still here. People have come and people have gone, some a complete surprise and some I have helped along. I sit at my altar staring into a single flame which flickers and sways slowly in the morning breeze. I picture you and your liquid movements melting all over me. I imagine a pale blue sky above a cathedral, so full of black birds circling the steeple that their bodies and wings block out the sun. I wait in a smooth black dress by a fountain, my hair undone. Water cascading in grand arched streams, from the hands of topless maidens, from the mouths of naked children who reach for the heavens, white marble statue eyes, cold, like ecstasy unfeeling. A filthy city crawling to life beneath my fingernails. My skin is hot with a fire I am dying to remember. I’m wearing that lipstick you like, dark as blood, you hesitate to touch. You watch me like a picture you suspect may come to life. The ache in you possesses me like a predator, hungering for prey. If you come for me with teeth, I will offer you my neck. If you come for me with roses, I will fasten them in my hair for you, that you may imagine me innocent. I open my mouth and swallow the sun to keep precious the night. When I close my eyes, I still see you. Feel you ring through me hollow as church bells as they clang high above, shatter the air against my chest, locked in a tower made of stone. I once wrote a poem that went like this. A boy takes a girl and carries her home. She kisses him deep, makes love to him sweet, and come the serene light of dawn, can never return. And though one of them dies, the rest of the hearts within her continue to beat.
Reading a few lines about the supposedly dreadful effects of Mercury Retrograde, I wonder whether or not one can really make her own luck or if the cycles of the giant globes spinning through the universe really do control our emotions and energy and there’s not much we can do about it one way or another. People are strange creatures who, more often than not, aren’t sure what they want of themselves let alone of you, but so many of them carry on as though they do, dragging the rest of us right on down with them. They tell me to speak up, they tell me to quiet down. They want me naked as the truth, they want me covered up in shame. The more I think about what to do next, the more paralyzed I become so mostly I try to leap before I look and speak before I think so hard I never say a single thing at all. The year is advancing at a speed I feel unprepared for but how many of us are ever prepared? If anything we are much better at hindsight than foresight, and absolute rubbish at apologizing for the mess we’ve made either way. We live on a giant rock hurtling through space as it burns out of control, out of existence minute by minute, as ever a new disease threatens to annihilate the weak and destitute, and put coins in the pockets of the rich and weaker still. It’s enough to make your head explode, but sure let’s talk about the eerie threads of misplaced weather and laugh about the state of affairs we know we can’t control. As we climb out the window into the dark summer evening, the sky turns a deep bewitching purple as the millions of little stars twinkle to life and I take a seat next to you on the roof. You’ve got one cigarette left and we pass it back and forth between us along with a bottle of dry white wine, virus be damned. We are already sick, our sedated veins already hum with whatever it is that will bring us to a blacked-out close in the end. You tell me about a time long past when you met the girl you thought you would marry but then it all fell apart as young love so often does. Lying back and gazing up into the endless atmosphere, I feel as though the entirety of time and space beats slow and steady within my tiny heart. The words you choose tell two versions of the same story at once, one laced with sorrow, the other hope. The air moves in soft circles around me and I am listening but I am drifting out over the lights of this glittering city of smoke and pollution, energy and sin. We don’t have plans but the promise of an experience beyond our wildest dreams beckons us forward. Some days you can barely hold it together, you make it out, but only by crawling on your hands and knees. But some nights. Some nights you run so fast you fly like an angel on high, dance like a carefree child along the Milky Way with a flash in your eyes, arms and hands and heart open wide.
He places his fingers deep into my mouth to teach me to be silent. I struggle and bite them at first but then my mouth floods with hot wetness and I cannot help but suck like a dazed hungry animal. He plays his games with my body and I play mine and, as if by some cosmic random miracle or joke, inexplicably we fit together more often than we fall apart. Removing my blindfold, he looks me straight in the eyes and in a dark flash I can see the beautiful demons within, I can see all the way through to the other side of his sweet desire to the mischief of his reckless need. With my lips and tongue, I taste the way he tears himself apart, the way his muscles twitch and flex as he raises himself up like a beast. He tells me I’m a filthy precious angel right before flipping me over and taking me as his own. We are rough, we are sweat and restraints, and yet we are a softness so naked with silence you can almost hear the feathers move on the wings of the black birds as they flutter and soar past the open bedroom window in the evening springtime light. I exist for his pleasure. He exists for my pleasure. We take our place in the endless circle of life and death and resurrection. For reasons we do not speak about because we don’t need words we only need our bodies and our fantasies, our mutual aching greed. I take him from her. I take him from all the rest and lock him away. I am his, he is mine. I take him like he takes me, with intentions to expose, intentions to deliver into the sacred hands of madness and destruction. I do not fear the fire, I would like to watch it all go up in flames around us as we consume each other until the end of time. Sing for death. Sing a hymn into the wind of a new beginning. All my life I have observed the others and wondered why I can’t be like them. Why I am more selfish than servicing. Why I am more the shadow of a coming storm than the sunshine on a grassy summer field. Maybe we are each born inside the garden we are meant to become, if only we would let our wilderness grow as it would desire. Climb its own walls, bloom its own strangely colored flowers. Perhaps the way to satisfy the restlessness inside our own hearts is to worship the ways we are different. After we have ruined each other, he lights my cigarette as he stands over me in the dark.
You search, but you are more afraid of finding than you are of holding onto the mystery. I can see it in your eyes, there is so much more to you than you dare to reveal. I can’t say I blame you, of course, I’m the same way more often than not. But don’t you ever lie awake at dawn as the traffic rushes far down below, hear the screaming sirens, and wish for the ending of the games? Don’t you sometimes find yourself exhausted of the regular people with their mediocre thoughts, their flat unfeeling speeches? Take a person, one on one, and I will get them talking, they will turn themselves inside out and let me touch them anywhere. It’s not me, it’s just this thing I have where I am consumed with mad curiosity, perhaps it is love, perhaps it is just a sick perversion. Call it what you like, makes no difference to me. But the masses are a blindly obedient herd, and if this doesn’t scare the shit out of you I’m not sure there is much else for us to talk about. Privileged troubles I know, but the world is the world it is and here we are bathing in it like two wounded animals in the open early morning air. Don’t you think half the time I wish I were not like this? How pleasant it must be for the ones who think nothing of challenging everything, feel no sense of angst or frustration with the way things are or the way things go. What good is this life if you don’t create it on your own terms. What is there if not resistance, how can you tell if you are getting anywhere if you aren’t pushing against the onslaught of the status quo? We are living, right now, this very minute, as your palms sweat and your gum line itches, in a dystopian nightmare. Want proof? I just had to “add to dictionary” the word dystopia. It’s like nothing we have ever seen or experienced before, this being led by a lie, the truth is not the truth, strength is weakness, weakness strength. It’s not me it’s you, or is it the other way around and when did you stop being able to tell? And we play along and we finger ourselves, pleasure ourselves, buy the big toys. I want the things that matter but more and more I have trouble discerning just what they are. In a world, in a time, in a place, where the walls are on fire and the smoke clouds the mirrors in the haunted halls of my mind. Don’t you wish it were different? Don’t you wish there were more love? Don’t you wish that instead of feeding you fire and calling it water, someone would look you dead in the eye and finally acknowledge the flames?
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.
Walking into the wind down a tiny side street, I suck the final drag from my cigarette and tighten the collar of my coat around my chin to try to keep out the chill in the air. I take myself on walks when I can’t write and I can’t write at the moment because it seems no matter where I go I can’t get away from the feeling that every move I make is being sized up and picked apart by some freakish peeping omniscient entity. Could just be my own paranoia but it feels like I’m being watched and watched much too closely which makes it hard to think which makes it impossible to write any kind of cohesive thing. This is probably why I keep my distance from most people most often. You get too close, you fall in, and it’s really hard to crawl back out. It can take days, months, and I don’t have that kind of time let alone patience. Stopping for coffee in a nearby cafe, I take a seat at a small table by the window and open my notebook. It feels good to get away from the laptop and the phone for a while, I suspect because we actually are all being watched, tracked, and monitored all the time through our devices so it’s no wonder we crave solitude, time away to fall into our own arms and breathe. But I’m starting to think taking respite inside myself is not in the cards today. Today all I can do is pick at my arms, chew on my fingers, and the fuck if I can breathe. Pen in hand but still unable to think straight enough to write, I look up and notice a tall woman who comes in to order some kind of exotic tea, and as she swings her hips ever so slightly and walks back out into the wind, her long honey colored hair whips around in the sunlight and I notice she is very beautiful. Toned and glowing in her skin tight workout clothes. A woman like that will always be watched. She will always be looked at and fantasized about, by strangers she will never know. It can feel like an odd way of living in the world, to be a woman who is looked at, because the hungry, wandering eyes never leave you even when you are alone with yourself. Somewhere, perhaps beginning very young, deep within we become aware of being observed. It both frightens and intrigues us. We want it and we do not want it, and we are not even consciously aware of why, or why not. There is something about being taken in by another being whom you do not know. What are they doing with you in the privacy of their minds? Is it sick and twisted? Or is it perhaps beautiful, luminous, poetic? What pieces do they take away and keep for themselves? Is that why you feel so depleted sometimes after being out in the world too long? But we are brought up this way, we are used to it. And because we are used to it, we do it, too. We the watched also become the stranger. Watching. Maybe that’s why so few of us ever write one goddamn thing.
Please don’t come so close to me. I can’t protect you from all that I am and that has been enough trouble before to burn even the most beautiful temples to the ground. In my mind there is a circle of white winged doves, fluttering elegantly, continuously, in a slow spiral toward the sun, which descends as it glitters its golden rays over a placid pale blue sea. In my blue body, my veins are the rivers, my lungs are the flood. I am the womb I was born within, the womb rushing violent, the womb overflowing with peace, tranquility, the tides of time as humanity is created, humanity is destroyed. You dream of me, parting lips of an exotic fragrant flower, petals lush with warm sweet rain, the nectar of the deep folds of night. Please don’t. Please come. Come closer and tell me what you see in the mirrored halls of my eyes as I take you in, body and soul. He was forbidden and she was a playground as evening falls, she was a carousel of dazzling light on a crowded filthy city street. I hope you will write of the things no one speaks about, the things they are afraid of. I hope you don’t let them tell you what to say, or how to say it. You have to be on guard at all times, you have to protect the only thing you know for sure is yours and yours alone. That magic heart of yours. That mind racing like mad back into itself, shield it, lock it up tight. I know you don’t believe me. I know you think I’m skittish and paranoid but that doesn’t mean the danger isn’t real. This world will try to out run you, game you, play you, gut you, leave you for dead. Don’t let that happen to you, don’t you give them the satisfaction. When they threaten to leave you to the wolves, remember you are the wolf, you are the wilderness, you are the hunter. Make your own fire, be your own shelter. Shine. Shine brighter than all the rest and don’t look down and don’t look back. Smile in the face of death. Walk on water. Walk so you can run and run so you can fly and fly so your bones can burst into a million ecstatic stars dancing so high above no one can touch you, only wish upon you for the things they dare to dream of in the silence of their trembling hearts. Don’t be the answer, be the dare. Don’t reveal your secrets. Do it all and don’t explain any of it. Don’t forget you don’t owe them anything. Be the way an illusion shatters expectations. Show them even in the pits of fire and hell, nothing is as it seems.
All night the wind rattled the clanging chimes in the backyard and drove itself mad in loud rushes against the houses and buildings. The rain slashed the window panes and glittered in large crystal gobs, pinned, suspended by the great winds, before sliding its streaky path downward. I tossed and turned a little but not much, more because I left the notifications open on my phone and the random glows lit up the corner of the room like those many soft fireflies we’d collect as kids and put them in jars with fistfuls of leaves and sticks. I can still recall the way it felt to be out in the late night of summer, my bare toes rustling through the freshly cut blades of grass underneath the low hanging trees, you could see the bug’s lights better under there where it was darkest. I could scarcely believe my mother would let me go out in my thin fuzzy nightgown even though I was already clean from the bath. I remember vividly the feel of the warm air upon my skin all over underneath the fabric as I ran and ran and twirled and opened my arms to everything. It is my first memory of freedom, of wilderness, and the taste of the dream that I belonged within it. One misty morning, I woke to find my tiny jar of glow bugs didn’t glow anymore, too young to understand I’d smothered them by fastening the lid on too tight. We try to hold things we have no business holding. We make our attempts at nailing beauty to the wall and think nothing of the arrogance of that. We punish, we manipulate, mutilate, violate, annihilate. We glorify control, exacerbate it, turn it into a perversion and call it adoration. As I sip my coffee and type, I flashback in my mind to the night I left his apartment after we had a brutal fight, stabbing each other with words like knives. Some wounds are invisible to the naked eye. Suffocation. Gashes in the psyche, bleeding in the red tides of emotions we refuse to tame. Pain is where the tears come from, screams come from, hurt comes from, a place you can feel but cannot point to on your physical body, on an x-ray, on a scan; it does and does not exist. Perhaps this, too, is the place where poetry comes from, this placeless place. A pin on a map that nobody can print. A homeless home we crawl towards with what is left of us, that we try to return to when the storms come to your front door. And like a perfect fool, you open up and watch, as they come crashing in.
Unsure of the best way to slip out unnoticed, I take a door that looks rather hidden in shadow and open it to find you smoking a cigarette behind the bar. The air is bracing and the smell of snow threatens ever so slightly off in the distance. My eyes catch yours in a flush of surprise recognition. I’m glad to see you but unsure of your feelings toward me, since last we were together I was making out with your girlfriend in a parking lot as you watched. Exchanging pleasantries in somewhat awkward fashion, I notice that the way you look at me almost seems tender as you offer me a smoke and I accept. I’ve had a few whiskeys and my insides are glowing with the spice of the stuff as the stars in the heavens begin to be covered over by dark gray clouds, one by little beaming one. The girl you’re with, is she the one? Do you love her or are you just fooling around? You answer in the vaguest of manners, essentially telling me you are both in it for kicks but there is something special there, too, though love is perhaps too heavy a term for who can really ever be sure. The more you tell me the more I want more. It turns you on, the way I am when I am with her. It excites her, too, and she wants more of the way I kiss. You smile and something inside me melts a little, slides toward the gravitational pull of your devilish charm. You look like freedom but the kind that feels intimate instead of expansive. There is a wilderness inside of you that calls to me in the same way as my own. The same way as hers. To be explored. To be naked within. To be worshiped and warmed. Savoring my final drag in a lengthy dramatic exhale, I lean my back against the brick side of the building as a stream of bright white smoke lifts, widens, and slowly disappears. Sensing my curiosity, you step into me close, cup my chin in your hand and trace my glossy bottom lip with your thumb. The pressure releases the faint sweet scent of strawberries. It takes every ounce of my weakening self control not to bite that thumb hard, take its beautiful thickness into my hot wet mouth and suck on the taste of your bare skin. But before I can even utter a ragged sigh, you slide your fingers down my neck like petting an animal, look at me clear as the cold night air, and ask me to meet up again sometime. Just the three of us.
Coming alive for you as you stroke my tenderest places, my breathing is ragged as I try to describe how writing a perfect poem is like building to a perfect orgasm. You want it to bloom petal by soft petal opening under expert touch, you want the layers to send wave after wave of ache and heat until finally you can no longer breathe for the beauty of it all and heavenly desecration spills over upon the page, dripping from finger and mouth and tongue. Impressed by how little my need to tell stories even during such intimate moments distracts you from finishing what you started, I turn over while still quivering and you work me from behind until your desperation rattles the walls and shatters us into weightless shimmering pieces. After a few minutes of spiraling down like feathers on a warm summer breeze, all is quiet and motionless. People are needy and mostly preoccupied with themselves and I’m no different. As much as there is an impulse in me to soothe and nurture, there is a part of me that switches empathy off like a night light flickering dead as the first rays of slim morning dawn relieve it from duty. Lighting a cigarette as I stare through the curtains down to the dirty street below, you slumber peacefully and I’m content to be left alone with my thoughts about what, if anything, can truly be considered beautiful and the color of the sky after one has passed over to the other side. These moments of tranquility which shudder in my veins. These itchy fears of a life wasted on emptiness and greed, how they stay with me as if they, too, need comfort from the outside world. I have been a thunderstorm. I have been a shelter. The thing about people is they flicker on and off and there is no way to know when they’ll be dark and when they’ll be light. As I close the curtains and turn to look at you, I blow smoke across your naked body and imagine you feeding me a mouth full of diamonds, glittering in moonlight as you watch my parting lips. You with your heart full of black birds, head full of blades.