Reaching an outstretched hand into the future by attempting to let go of the past, I light up a cigarette while contemplating the strangeness of living within the confines of these four dusty sun drenched walls for weeks on end. It’s as if within me I can feel the heavens spinning about in outer space without relent, without a feeling or care about the turmoil we find ourselves mired in on this tiny ink blot below. Humans are ignorant creatures, for as much as we’d like to congratulate ourselves there are countless instances where we miss the mark entirely and never so much as come close to picking up the pieces of the shattered lives we leave behind. If you pay too close attention you will exhaust yourself which is likely why I feel so tired all the time. I take a drag of my smoke and sip hot black coffee while eyeing up the jumble of tangled words on my screen. I’m a mess as is this room but what is life if not chaos, if not disaster tossed around inside little flecks of hope. The afternoon light is coming in slanted from the side of the window, landing in soft patches upon the plants, the little tables and statues, lamps and books, and I think of the way you turn me on my side in the early light of morning. Trailing your rough hands along the bare curves of my body as you sigh with audible delight. We are only light and shadow, sun and moon, circling. Shaking my head in order to return to the writing which seems to so easily elude my jagged brain riding it out upon these choppy hours, it occurs to me that anxiety burns just beneath the surface of my skin. The room is silent, save for the sound of little birds fluttering by and the single drone of an airplane as it moves lazily overhead. The wings of the little butterfly clock on the wall tick softly as I curl deeper and deeper into myself. I once knew a man who only wore black. He lined his eyes in charcoal and could write poetry that would cut you clean in two. Just the thought of him now ignites my veins, tears at the feathered cage of my ribs, grasping in my memory for an image, a line, a motion of his body that used to collapse earth into sky. What I wouldn’t give to write just once sentence in the way of the brilliance which twisted and glittered in the secret patterns of his hallway mind. He would open his mouth like opening a doorway into a land promised only to the sacred, only for those who worshiped the darkness of his razor sharp tongue. Most of us are corrupted and we spend our entire lives trying to hide it from everyone around us. But some of us. There are some, very few, who hold tight to their wicked and wield it just perfectly so, to make it shine.
You expect me to be slick and clever, witty and warmly engaging but today I am none of those things. Today I am a dark cloud hovering. Pent up. Swollen. My tears and my nerves pressing against the grain inside my skin. As the rain moves in I sink into my study but I cannot concentrate. I am distracted by the stacks of books, the words and thoughts, the poetry of others. Jumping back and forth from The New Yorker to Baudelaire, I run a hand across my forehead wondering who in the hell I am anymore. When all this is over, I won’t want to go back to the way it was before. I will want to stay at home. I will want to be away from people just like I always have. I won’t want to get dressed. There are days when you are so sure, so positively certain, that nobody cares. You sink into the lowest parts of your own human heart and you can feel the blank sadness. You can feel the grip of the lonely. Hear her sighs. Fold into them, watch the rain falling down quiet and soft against the trees, the grass, the little angel statue in the garden. I think of all the losses suffered all across the world, the sheer staggering amount of grief and pain. My whole being is crushed beneath the collective weight. I try to dream up a new vision to keep me going. I make tea. I help a young writer to remember who she is, encourage her to pay attention to each of her feelings, especially the dark ones. The shadows swallow the fear and live with it alone in corners. I don’t know why I am drawn to the them, the shadows, the corners, the hidden, the untraceable. I don’t know why but there is nothing more beautiful to me than the sun blotted out, shielded over, drowned in the wet sweetness of the rain.
Reading Rilke’s love letters on a windy Saturday morning, I can see the empty trees waving, flexing, bending wildly in the bright open air as tiny purple clouds sail on by. Winds of change, the seasons swim out to meet one another, rise and fall on wave upon wave. The coffee is strong and hot, like the love we made which so opened me I’m certain it caused the fires of the sun itself to rise up over the distant hills before spreading its warm elegant golden fingers down along the gray walls around us. I watch the angle of the light carefully, softened by its rays as they are reflected off of a grand gilded mirror which leans heavy against the far wall. I suddenly remember something a sensual woman once taught me about sacred geometry, but as soon as I envision her pretty wet doe eyes gazing into mine, I’ve just as quickly forgotten. Wrapped in linen and lace, in my bones I feel the echoes of ancient stories welling up within me like quiet piercing tears desperate to fall. I swallow them until the ache is too much to bear, and I have to pour forth upon the pages not yet written. There is something in me which needs to be expressed, though at times I feel it is beyond me, or that try as I might I will never be able to touch it, to wrap my being around it. It is mine and not mine, it is here and it is gone. Its voice is a hollow, a begging, a melancholy love song written at the peak of the ripened sweetness of the pain. I write the truth and I write the fantasy, and one lies within the other until it all blurs into an ecstatic kind of fever dream, one I can at last be with myself inside. There are people who will tell you dreams are for fools and fantasies are for fakes, but maybe I want fake, maybe I’ve been the fool all my life so why quit now. Maybe I want a malleable liquid existence where anything is possible, pleasure is a religion, and rules no longer apply. Open your ribs and let me caress what disturbs you. Paint your wicked story so vividly for me that it blooms forth in my mind long after we speak. Listen to yourself. Be quiet and be still. Listen to the blood as it slides beneath your tranquil skin. Listen for the darkness beating its silent drum in your precious veins. Why is it that you are so afraid to live there? Why would you ever leave that place when it is all that you are, when it is the only thing you have worth giving?
Hello out there, how are you doing? I am thinking of you, wondering with you what will today bring? What is today? What day is this day. And what I felt like sharing today is so far away from what I usually share. It is a sort of behind the scenes of my creativity, my process, my writing, my craft, my art. I have been wanting to reach out in so many multiple directions lately but I keep cutting myself off because, well I don’t even know why exactly, I guess I had it in my head that a writer or a creator should have a certain bend, like be a certain kind of writer, only write certain things about certain topics in certain ways. But then that feels boring to me, I think that’s the thing, I do get bored. I have liked to evolve over time, delving into new things when the old things feel limiting, new ways of expression.
But anyway I was reflecting on the topic of women and desire. I think because the days stretch out right now like blank pages you can fill with anything you want. But what do I want? Like you can do anything, but what do you want to do. Not what you have to or should do but what is it that I want to do? Want to study? Want to create? Want to try?
I did this weird thing where in my journal I took a whole full page and just wrote the words “I want” over and over and over until the word ‘want‘ seemed like it didn’t even mean anything, you know how that happens? If you keep saying or writing a single word over and over somehow your brain goes numb to it. So ‘want’, I had to remind myself how to spell it but I kept writing it until I filled the entire page. I didn’t write what I want, because I don’t know what I want. I really don’t. As long as I can remember I have been full of longing, a need, a feeling like something in me is begging me to get it something, do something to fulfill it. Soothe it. Hear it, listen to it, turn toward it. Look at it. But I do not know what it wants me to do, I don’t know what it wants.
I wonder if this is because I am a woman who grew up as a little girl hungry to express, to create, to pour forth. I was taught subtly and directly, right, not so subtly, too be small, quiet, still, grateful for whatever I got. I was taught not to be hungry. Not to ever want, and certainly not to ever want more. I was taught that my desires, my true human desires, were ‘bad.’ I was taught that to want was greedy. If you want nothing, you are easier to be around. Not wanting is nice. Not wanting is sweet, kind, loving. Not wanting is good. Wanting is bad. And so now, and for as long as I can remember, when someone, some motivational, inspirational someone whoever it may have been, when they said to me Dream or Desire or Imagine… I would have a very hard if not impossible time doing so. I would shut down, go blank, go numb. I have been unable to Dream because I don’t allow myself to want. I have often been unable to name, seek, or explore my Desire because what I want is considered by some to be bad and bad is not allowed. If you want to be loved, you have to be good. I have been unable to Imagine because imagination means conjuring up what you want inside your mind.
But now in this alone time, this extended alone time, I have decided I want to want what I want, and I want to know what it is that I want. So I wrote in my journal ‘I want’ a thousand consecutive times just to feel the words in myself. Just to get them out onto the page, make them real in the real tangible world. To break through to myself and my want, my desire, my hunger, my need, my ache, my essence. I do not have the answer yet to this inner restlessness, this inner question “Allison, what do you want? What do you want your life to be? What do you want to do with yourself? What is your most burning desire?”
But I am hoping that by preparing the way, by repeatedly making it okay to say I want, over and over, my desires will break through and show themselves to me. And because I will be ready, I will touch them, feel them, hear them, listen to them, turn toward them. Accept and welcome and cherish and act on them. Make them real.
Hello out there, how are you doing? I am wishing you well, I am hoping you are safe and hanging in there wherever you are across the globe. I thought since we, well, many of us are spending more time perhaps alone that I would record this little something for us today. It feels a little bit more intimate, doesn’t it? Closer? To hear my voice in addition to the words? I feel so, I hope so. In any case, I was sitting with some wine last evening, or whatever evening whatever day in whatever month, and it was sunset and the light was fading out over the rooftops and the trees and I was just making a few notes here and there in some things I was reading, I’m reading some cultural texts, some books about current events and yadda ya all that madness. And my head was spinning in all of the mayhem, right, wishing things were different and knowing that it will be a long time before we crawl out from under the weight of what we are going through with coronavirus and grief and pain and the anger and the frustration and the fear and all these things. But all of a sudden my eye caught the reflection of just this small radiance, this shimmer of light reflecting through just some little houseplant in the corner of my writing room, and I remembered this poem I love, its a fairly popular poem by Charles Bukowski, called The Crunch, from his collection – I think there are multiple versions but the version I think of is the version from Love Is a Dog From Hell. You may know it, but it is a poem about loneliness, crushing loneliness and the state of a world full of neglected people, forgotten worn down souls.
So tragic but also, I am afraid so very real, right. And I think I will read it for you, first, and then I have a poem of my own I will share, the reason being is because it has been ages, ages, it feels like to me, since I have written a proper poem. I have been heavy with the prose and the non fiction and the story weaving, story telling, which I just adore, and I am so grateful that you are here with me for all of it, you hearten me very much out there. But poetry, poetry is where I come from, poetry is in my blood, it is a way of living and dreaming and breathing and being, a way of interpreting the world, outside and inside of myself. I couldn’t live without it. It has done more to transform and awaken me, enlighten me, than any other form of writing or art or expression. So I wanted to spend some time with poetry today.
So here is Charles Bukowski’s poem, The Crunch:
too much too little
too fat too thin or nobody.
laughter or tears
strangers with faces like the backs of thumb tacks
armies running through streets of blood waving wine bottles bayoneting and fucking virgins.
an old guy in a cheap room with a photograph of M. Monroe.
there is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock
people so tired mutilated either by love or no love.
people just are not good to each other one on one.
the rich are not good to the rich the poor are not good to the poor.
we are afraid.
our educational system tells us that we can all be big-ass winners.
it hasn’t told us about the gutters or the suicides.
or the terror of one person aching in one place alone
untouched unspoken to
watering a plant.
people are not good to each other. people are not good to each other. people are not good to each other.
I suppose they never will be. I don’t ask them to be.
but sometimes I think about it.
the beads will swing the clouds will cloud and the killer will behead the child like taking a bite out of an ice cream cone.
too much too little
too fat too thin or nobody
more haters than lovers.
people are not good to each other. perhaps if they were our deaths would not be so sad.
meanwhile I look at young girls stems flowers of chance.
there must be a way.
surely there must be a way that we have not yet thought of.
who put this brain inside of me?
it cries it demands it says that there is a chance.
it will not say “no.”
Mmm. That poem murders me, it kills me with its terrible truth. But somehow, sometimes, when the truth hurts so badly we just want to hear someone say it. Out loud. We are not good to each other. Anguish in the form of poetry.
And I think about some poetry I have written, and one poem came to my mind to share with you today, it is titled “Remember Me” from my book Luminae. I wanted to read it for you in the hopes that for a little while it keeps you company, whatever you are doing.
Here is Remember Me:
Has this been the hurt inside of you these cuts on my hands the crush of broken promises. Your static mouth a shrieking fog
buzzing in my head, humming – you like grains of sand scratching a desert in my throat.
Remember me a grapefruit moon
hanging in your rear view mirror love in the back seat melon. sunset. smoke. love
took a back seat.
Now the morning rolls down her sheets silicone heat waves sweat across my tongue. I listen for you but all that moves nails along the wall are reflections of an empty afternoon.
(my arms reach for three corners from this corner)
The windows are swallowing sunlight the sunlight is dangling through trees traces of a dim lit landscape you used to speak of
And so with this I leave you for now. Please take the best care of yourself that you possibly can. Please be safe and well. And thank you, always, for spending some time with me. Until the next time. Cheers.
Hello out there, I hope that you are doing well. I thought I might read something for us today, a little excerpt from my book Luminae which was released a little over a year ago now. This piece is titled ‘Had I Never Met You’ and I wrote it with much love and affection for someone who made a dramatic though fleeting imprint on my psyche, he awakened so much in me, the way I saw the act of creation, the possibilities and infinite power of word, voice, music, connection. I hope you will enjoy it.
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.
So there was my little reading for today. Thank you for having a listen, I am always so grateful for a chance to share with you. If you are interested in purchasing my book, or even just taking a look through the previewed pages, they are all available now on Amazon, paperback and also Kindle versions. Wishing you well, stay safe out there. Cheers.
You tell me that when you read the poem I slid underneath your office door you had to take a seat and read it over multiple times. You enjoy the way the words taste like the sin of flesh and bone and youth. You do not smile at me and I do not smile back. I don’t want your happiness. I want to tear you into a thousand small pieces from the inside out, set you on fire and leave you there to burn. As you say encouraging things to me about my work, your gaze travels over my body slowly, drinking in my subtle movements, the crook of my wrist, the bend of my hip, the cocky way I tilt my head against the paint chipped door frame so my long wavy hair falls over my elbow just enough to skim my waist. Your eyes like two beautiful blades slicing me open, exposing me without even a touch, coming back up to meet my eyes. You stay there forever etched in my brain and even all these years later I recall you sat back like a very bad man who wanted very bad things. I miss the poetry and I miss the high of seduction, intrigue, play. But I am not me anymore and you are not you. Now the world is upon its knees as angry mobs line up together and demand their own execution. Make it grave, make it public, make it hard and make it hurt, how bored we are of the lives we don’t even bother to lead. Now my dreams are screams, I can hear them so clearly in their vivid colors. Sex and death. Bright fires flaring up along the empty streets of my skin, my soft blue veins engulfed in thick tongues of flames. My image fades in and out of a mirror which stands still against a blank wall, as the wind moves shadow into shadow. Intercourse. Dark moon. Nightgowns on pale women, singing on the lawn in the haunted hush of night. Their black eyes reach out like claws, they touch one another. The clutch of a bare hand to my chest. A fist of long fingers gripped tight around my throat. I need it, can’t you understand that? There is a cord which runs invisible from the pulse in my neck to the heat of my sex. I need to feel something which honors the fear. Something which penetrates the veil. I have such nightmares of late, and wake washed flush in a sweat, in the kind of glistening tears a whole body cries. I have these mad times threaded through the hallways of my ricochet mind. We cannot return to the way things were, but I’ll be alright. I don’t miss your eyes. They are with me all the time.
It could be that the time of writing the way I used to write is coming to a close for now. I don’t have the energy to tell stories, it seems. The life blood that used to urge me forward, used to press against the walls of my veins to be spilled upon the page, runs now too thin, too quiet, almost silent, almost dead. I don’t believe in kicking a thing back to life because you can’t. That’s not how it works. You cannot beat love out of you. If I have learned anything over my many years of writing it’s that it has a life of its own, a path all its own. Inside of me there is a voice all my own which comes through the words but also runs deeper, so much deeper than the words. It is a pulse, a knowing, it speaks without words which makes it impossible to explain. It is a place inside beyond explanation. And right now, as I sit in blankets by candle glow, in the darkness before the sunrise, I have no where to go, no where to run from this place inside, this deep undercurrent of something so much bigger and wider than myself, than anything I have ever said or written or done with my one ridiculously complicated life. Maybe I’m writing this for myself more than anyone else. Of course I am. Writing for them is entertainment. Writing for me is more like a Hail Mary, a stone thrown into a river which is churning and rushing past, crushing everything in its wake. I stand on a hilltop counting stars without counting them, I just gaze up at gigantic swaths of night sky and trace the pierce points from one to the next until it all blurs into one massive swirl of cosmic dust cloud. A mystery unfolds without and within me, something displaying its infinite beauty which takes my breath and turns it to wind. Is it beauty? That word feels much too small, too cheapened by artists and muses. What cuts the breath from my body is not beauty but sheer vastness of space, the spiraling of endless universal space. Stretching my arms and legs out in each direction, I lay like a star upon the grass and imagine myself spinning into flossy light. A weight inside the weightlessness. A beating heart in the center of the irony of time. The things I am afraid of bloom large in the distance. In the silence of my being, I can hear the words I do not dare speak beyond the confines of my weary soul: There is a battle ahead. Yes, I already know.
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.
Sunlight is colder in the afternoon as I sip lukewarm coffee in a tiny gray room high above the rest of the world I look upon but can’t ever manage to fully understand. I hear his words in my head buzzing like one of those irritating hand held machines which hacks weeds to the ground and middle aged men can’t seem to put down on Sundays lest they, heaven forbid, be forced to actually stay in the house with the wife and kids as they claw their way through another day just the same as the last. But it’s tough and we’re punchy and who’s to really say we have deserved how far we’ve come in any case. Sunshine trickles in through trees and though I’ve lost count of the days, I keep enough hope in my heart to sing to myself, even if what I sing is only the blues. I think of her with the wide eyes of an excitable creature and nipples like two ripe raspberries pointing through her thin white tee shirt. Somewhere back a few decades ago, she would sing for them in smokey night clubs while sipping on vodka and tonic, or whatever the thirsty bartender would slip her slim under aged ass. She could feel them salivate, warm liquid honey dripping in response to some sultry song in that voice that was soft and low and just roughened up enough from the cigarettes to make them pulse quick in the chest and hard in their jeans. You’re so pretty, baby, come on, sweetness, don’t be so mean. The nights were every neon color swirled round and round into black until on one particular morning, in no particular month, in a season as long as the streets which lead to nowhere exceptional but call to her like sirens anyway, as a strong cut of light streaks in like a single intruding middle finger pressing through the smudged window pane and across her naked body, she realized none of it was coming back. Not the joy or sorrow, not the ache or the thrill of catching something just to taste the hot sweet blood of the kill. Life moves forward even if you try to hang back. Still. Still she has the shiny salmon scars on her elbows and knees. She has her wooden cradle of secrets, and though they may seem like nothing to some, are hers and hers alone to keep.