I write from a place — this place, the expanse of this unending now, with her tangled anguish and desire piled atop my head waiting to fall undone around me in cascades of impossible strawberry blonde. Frustration. Boredom. Stubborn resolve. Pleading. Waiting. Exploring. It is a way to die, to be raised up anew.
There is a place where the words come from which no writer has ever touched, and yet we can all speak of it, reach for it, make love to it. The thing about writing is you must turn the heels of all thought inward and stop walking away from the hushed life which calls to you in constant: the shadowy brow of coming night slanted across an empty wall, the screech of dark tree limbs against the back of your memory. People build entire lives out of turning away. They turn away from the sweet cream of every day and ram themselves into suit jackets and briefcases and monstrous stone buildings with blank faces to match their own. Under the flags blowing wild against a barren winter sky they march away, away, away into glass doors, into steel rooms, out of their own bleeding hearts.
And here in the mist of twilight are the unlikely hands of writers, mighty and meek. The ones who cherish the words as if each one were warm and sacred (even the words which ruin, even the words which despair) . You do not turn away. Not you. You with your fire mind and the glow you sleep inside, dream inside, speak of without even trying. You turn inward and both curse and savor the confusing pleasure of it. You who have been made of something mysterious which tugs at the veins. A quiet ache which places flowers at the center of the womb, weeps, and bears fruit.
i’d have chosen you.
and taken your body
to my warm breast
the burn and the wreckage
flight by flight
wings spread of shallow watering dawn.
mouth, wrists, lungs worn
by the opalescent liquid pain.
i’d have chosen you
And what is there really but fear and little breaks in the fear now and again. In your mouth, the cold wet suburban streets calling for no one. You trace the quiet desperation that rings itself around your week-old coffee mug and cherish the meek sadness of the rain which has gone on for decades underneath your skin. You try to write but all the photographs are full of messages you cannot keep from weighing down your mind. Time is always someone else’s. Every person has a camera and each image is a waste because they are the same and never stop. The people, their hurt-filled eyes, the ignorance of their blackened words in constant.
A soft girl dressed in white dances before the sun, they are setting into the sickness of green seaside.
I suppose I am afraid for all the reasons anyone would be afraid. The deafness of silence and the way a scream fills the bathwater. The fear which both bridges and divides one moment and the next as the evening comes but not carefully enough. There is a moment I can feel in my chest like a song you wrote but not for me, an empty beach in December which drifts in the marrow of my bones. You do not meet me and you are everywhere. You are faceless without body or tongue, though all I do in these dead hours of sliding panic is imagine you exist. A place I can lay down inside forever.
An opening in the blue.
We no longer seek for breaks of light. We no longer hear the ticking of the clock. The photographs and the people they capture, continue falling like rain for ages.
I realize it is more important to be true to something — to identify an underlying truth and pluck it from the shadows and bring it in to my presence, to lay bare before the experience of it. This is more important than ever writing anything. The writing will tangle up with one’s devotion to the truth. They will be drawn to each other because they always have been, they are of the same cloth. But the truth, the honor of it and the relentless desire for it, the burning for what is truly believed, must always come first. Otherwise the words have nothing to cling to.
Aren’t we just looking for someone else’s hand to hold, for their tender ‘other’ burdens to pass sweet between our lips. They were ahead of the snowfall and it just washed up on the lawn as rain. Still the barren cold suits us, the tall of the trees protruding from our hickory laden lungs. Wool coats and the dark scarf which smells of the warm smoke of you. Hard boots against the pavement. I used to be a writer but today I am mostly that small sad person who dreams about a pen in hand, who hopes you cry a little when you understand how far I’ve gone to break though everything, to get away from everything. To get into myself and know what that even means is so terrible and so difficult.
I do not miss you the way you’d hoped. I miss the half I resurrected in my simmering stove pipe mind. Pulled your image from the frozen earth and made you a kiss out of nothing. Magic, I would tell you. Magic, the way a body turns from flesh to object to puddle and back again under the proper gaze. And here you are, worlds on fire in your perpetual eyes, pretending there is no such thing as disturbance.
I offer you the pulse in my neck and you take your sweet long time. No hands. No expectations. And the mood follows the mood, the mood follows no pattern, fluctuates and penetrates invisible, without you. The mood slips off and hangs separate from you yet holds you captive. They are still breathing and I am what is leftover. To peer up into the world is crush and torture, this is the way of a mind that wishes perhaps for too much. We sit in small rooms waiting, showing ourselves for the little fools we are and we do it in secret and we do it alone and the gray sky light offers its bony arm for no good reason.
I clear more and more items from my desk — pages from letters and charcoal bits of my wind scattered heart — because I cannot stand the idea of ever going back, back to the way it was, back to the way I was, out of touch with myself. Groping in the daylight for something to destroy by comparison.
I used to love an artist who would make obscene creations larger than life as though thereby making them beautiful. As though the more gruesomely and intricately she could scratch her claws against the world, the more the world would bend to her and call her god. It was at this time she would become her most gentle, her most lamb-like, tender.
And the transformation was more obscene than the art itself.
In mourning for the lives which no longer touch mine, and I no longer theirs. The transgressions I have made dribble backwards from my tongue and I am left to worry or to choose. The exhaustion of silence hangs vacant from the corners, I recede into the emptiness I cannot breathe. The women I see with their impressive wrinkles deepened into the skin, how I adore them in a way that is pregnant with grace — something I had been taught to hand over for the sake of the ascension of degradation. These are the ways we are changing, walking from summer into autumn, the parting light caught slimly between our teeth.
This day, the quiet panic of any day falling away from January, is spread across stale breakfast toast and steeped in bitter English tea. I do not want promises, I do not want happiness, I do not want to be led to the river. At my fingertips, a slow keyboard. At the tip of my memory, a screen.
Sunset becomes us, it sinks beneath the anxiety and melts away at the grinding of symphonic gears. Women. Machines. Soft lips and terrible steel beams, metal girders pressed against the heart… even still she beats. We do not mean to hold this much poison inside our bones but we mistake the cage for protection, rage for progress. How dulled this prismatic woman gazing out across a graying evening.
Does the cold in the winter moon sky beg or does she stoop a while to listen? Yellowed papers, red eclipse. Our time is thick though spilled across the kitchen floor. Behold, I press my hands upon the breast of the mess we’ve made. We are surprised at the weight of this despair. That we can be so heavy and remain unseen.
I was born with poetry
for a heart.
I have never known
a beautiful thing
which did not
you say you want to be free.
have you any idea how
difficult that is?
to choose for yourself
and to act upon that freedom?
to un-clench your fingers
from around the throat
of what you think you know
and open your hands
your abused and corrupted
instead to an
uncertain and treacherous sky?
is not easy.
freedom rages against everything
built into the culture you are immersed in
which wants to keep you bound.
wants you hooked to it. addicted to it.
upon your knees at the click of the heels
it takes a ferocious spirit
one with nails and bones and teeth
to be free.
i write along the edges of a thing i cannot name
a species without a way.
in or out of itself. a kingdom falling
undone. both building and retreating.
and it is sorrow-filled and it is lonely
and i am drawn into its melancholy
when the light dims just right
my selfish useless prayer. beads of sweat
to eat and drink and know of this thing.
the center of which. i may never
but i forget myself
even as the rain fills the streets.
as the bitter wine swallows me alone.
i wash away.
and the shadowed droplets
streak the windows
falling against the highest iron wall.
my slight shoulder in passing —
screech the wet tracks of a distant train.
moan the bells of a church
stained of bent glass.
i curl my body into sleep
feather my limbs into
the stitch of skin
the abstract of what
i may still