Please Don’t Stop

Time is running out and while this is news to no one, I can’t help but wonder why. What is it we are so afraid to be up against, really? If it were the cold hand of death itself you wouldn’t know it because we live like we have all the days and nights and hours in the world to fuck around and figure things out.

He lights my cigarette as we sit in the back garden and as I inhale a deep drag, my eyes scan the new green buds on the mighty branches of the majestic maple trees which have towered over us for years now, and the house for years and years before we ever even showed up. Destroying myself a little bit here and there has become more of a hobby than a habit, though I am not entirely certain if this is progress or just the attempted taming of a sick kind of pleasure in self-degradation but nonetheless, I take my chances as though I had half the nerve to stare down the very face of god herself while mashing the dead smoke into the exposed concrete before lighting up another.

Sharing the whiskey and the wine as the sun is setting off to the sides of buildings slashed in orange and crimson rays, we talk about nothing in particular which would usually make my skin crawl but for this night, this evening which is just another among more than I ever dared hope, it all slides down warm and smooth with the heat of the bourbon and the sun.

Life is always burning. Burning on like the little lights which flicker in the early dark of morning, signaling that the people are getting up and ready to do whatever it is they did the day before and the day before that. Burning out like the electronic buzzing of the breathing machines in blue hospitals on the other side of a town soaked heavy in sorrow, stale air, grim coffee, and regular grief.

By the time darkness has fully fallen all around us, along with the druggy numbness of sweet intoxication, we have stripped off every bit of clothing and crawled into the bed which is each other, into the abyss which is the only way to forget that you are only escaping for a little while, and when the sun swings around the globe and the end begins again, small lights will flicker on and you will wonder why, with every bone in your body, you both cherish and loathe yourself, and yet you’ll splash cold water onto your weathered aging face, gaze into the mirror, and say a prayer to nothing you’re sure you believe in for just one more chance to do it all over again.

Let Go of Your Heart

Far away from here, there is a beautiful sprawling countryside and a wide open field of wildflowers, flickered with tiny butterflies as they tumble and flit from one stray bloom to another. In a soft patch of new spring grass, she makes heavenly love to me with her wet succulent hunger before she disappears, right before my eyes, becoming a kind of magnificent bird of prey with pristine ivory wings, which vanishes into the slowly sloping sun.

Dazed by the smooth heat of passion and the sweet afternoon air on my skin, I assemble my hair into a towering mess atop my head and wander barefoot toward a stream. It is cool underneath the dappled sunlight falling through tall trees. In the back of my mind there are images of terrible scenes. The horrors of war and the suffering of every person, animal, helpless creature, all collected in my veins. They run with me even when I am not running. They are swift and deft, they endure and they deflect and they outwit, outsmart, outlast the evil screeching at their backs.

In my womb, unrelenting circles, cycles, tides, planets, and orbiting moons. In the center of my palms, the middle of my throat, there are voices which have persisted throughout all of time and eternity. I have made of myself a home, a sanctuary, a temple of sorts, for them. Have you ever known a haunting you couldn’t bear to let go of? Have you ever felt the pulse of an unexplained, inexplicable thing coursing through you at such a breakneck pace that it quickens your breathing even as you sit trying to keep still?

I realize this could be a manic dream, but couldn’t all of it be, all the time? If everything they ever told you, fed you on, bathed you in, was a lie meant to rip the spine right out from under your skin, then what would you choose to believe if you could and why? What if within you, deep deep down, grows something so soft it is untouchable, so wild it is unstoppable, so bright it is unconscionable.

Lying on the forest floor, soft cool moss beneath my strange little head, I stare up at the fading pale peach sky far off, high above the leafy green tree tops, that endless dome which cups every monstrous beast and every last faint ripple on the waters all over the globe, every transgression, every sweet molten ache. I lift a slender finger up into the invisible evening air which surrounds me, open my mouth and say her name as I trace it into the wind which promises only to blow all of us away.

Scorch

I’m toning the body and flexing the mind and all the shit you’re supposed to do to keep on top of things while living a life you only half understand. We like our women pretty and their bodies tight and their thoughts subdued. The currency in beautified, petrified silence.

As I walk the winding windy streets alone, a shower of apple blossoms descends into my long strawberry hair and I reach to touch their smooth pink petals just as a gust of fresh spring wind rushes through and casts them away onto the hard concrete. It’s that time of year when you can wear heavy boots and a tee shirt, or a chunky knit hat and flip flops. It’s warm and it’s cool in equal measure at any given minute, all the while the sweet scent of lilac swirls on the pollen-dusted air along with hints of wood fires burning somewhere off in the distance.

And distance is all there is these days, ways to measure it, ways to deny or cheat it, in the hopes it won’t drag you down. There is sorrow in my heart and a pulsing heat in my veins. Because the seasons may change but life never does. It ends as breathtakingly mysterious as it begins, out of nowhere, out of sight, out of the mind of anyone or anything but a god we’ve been making up since the beginning of time. Was time always a thing or was it the human creature who made it up?

No star has need for it. No planet ever speaks of arriving late or dashing out early.

Doesn’t matter. All I can tell you for sure is that the light is growing in the mornings as well as the evenings and while this may be comforting for some it has a kind of menacing effect on me. The darkness I can understand, I know what it wants and I can soothe it by letting it enter me, fill me, have me. I know how to breathe for it so it will trust me.

But the light can be deceiving. Perhaps because no one expects it to be. She’s just like the springtime wind, she will lick you cold as ice and you won’t even see it coming.

The Feeding

It’s 3:47am and your eyes blink wide as saucers pooling under the moon glaring in through your dirty bare window. With only the glass and the cold and the sweat trickling down along all of the places on your body where the skin creases against itself. Everything you feel disgusts and intrigues you. You are too high. Sensations much too erect for this time of morning which bears all resemblance to the bottomless panic of the night before.

When I write, I pull from all time and space. All of the things I have ever been through or read about or watched happen or experienced through or with others, my dreams, my fantasies, each is alive as a fluttered heart beat within me all the time. We live together in our own place and answer to no one.

What I mean to say is that it is today but it is not today. It is any day, any night, any season, past or present or future. I am here but I am not here. I am with you so close you could almost reach out and caress the heat of the fragile bones in my throat, but I am not there. I do not even exist.

Some people journal. Some people write exactly how it is, when it is. That doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t matter. Not here. Anywhere else but here. In this sanctuary where I need to be seen and not seen. Touched and remain untouched. Do you get that? This is where I can be virgin, pristine, innocent, even as the violation occurs. Even as it is happening, the devirginization, the corrupting of the purity of the emotion, of the feeling which is not words. It is never – nor can it ever be experienced as – words.

The words are mine, of course. Everything here is mine. Even as you try to take it and make it your own. Of course you do. That’s why you’re here. You read me not for me but to find reflections, glimpses, of yourself. Your own sexuality, sensuality, your own beauty, your own filthy neediness. Perhaps the filth most of all because that is where the deepest truth resides. In your hidden desires, your most luscious and forbidden wants. All those needs that are clawing at you from within but you aren’t allowed to talk about. They don’t disappear, though, that’s the catch. They just get pushed down deeper and deeper until they become an entirely different kind of trouble, kind of torment, kind of instrument.

You have been trying so hard for so long to discard them, to rid them of you. And so maybe, just maybe, if you find them here in me, they can be outside of you even just for a little while. And that is why I am here. And that is what I do because I can’t help it and I don’t want it any other way. I’m a masochist or a sadist or a nut job. But even so, maybe now you can finally sleep instead of watching the heavy blades of the fan in your bedroom as they whir and spin in the dark. And cut and slice at the empty air like the blades of a knife.

Before Anyone Can See

There is a stillness in the early evening air, a tender bite through the damp coolness as it descends in shadow across each building on my block. Brick and mortar and tiny blue rooms inside of empty people.

Hearts shriveled and shaking and alone. Funny how loneliness can feel. How a void can feel so full, how the longing fills the nothingness and takes your shape.

There is a small white dog looking out of his window across the street. I am looking out my window, too. I look at him as his little wiry head follows the bounce of a squirrel across the pavement. Wild geese cry overhead, out of sight, and I wonder how the wonder of some things, some sounds, some movements, can stay so fresh and clear for season after season.

To never get old. To never let up. To never say never even when you stopped believing long ago. There is a young girl in her upstairs bathroom studying the lines on her face. Washing small hairs down the drain. Trying to brush the tears and the stains away before he sees her. Before anyone can see.

Does life see itself in itself? Are there notions of familiarity even in creatures who have no words at all, and no dreams?

There isĀ  a way the fading indifferent light holds on to something curling inside of you which is closing, as is its time, as is its season.

And this, too, is an ending that you hold in your palm.

And this too, a beginning.

And once more the night slides over as the moon sails up into the midnight black. The piercing of the stars like ice cold twinkle lights.

Remember snow globes? How you were just a child and marveled as you shook and shook the glittered underworld scene.

Kissed a plastic girl who was not breathing. Cursed a severed sky, stone white.

Until the castle disappeared.

Until the looking glass went blind.

Sometimes the Body Stays

You braid your fingers into mine and bite my lip until I whimper just enough to get you off. You insert two fingers into the swelling place where I can’t help but come undone and you know it and I hate it but I want it just the same only worse than usual tonight because tonight I cannot bear the thought of tomorrow. I catch a glimpse of us in the mirror on the wall as you look at me without seeing anything I wish you could.

But I can’t see myself all that clearly these days so to blame you really isn’t fair although who’s to say what’s fair and what isn’t in a world so complicated, trembling, and half destroyed.

As you suck my neck like you’re thirsty for someone else’s blood and press your hands to spread my thighs I am reminded that beauty and filth are a similar kind of artistic expression if you think about it wrong. It doesn’t matter and you needn’t dwell on it, I am a thousand miles away from this disheveled cave, conspiracy theories stalking through my manic head. Take the whiskey, take a drag, take the hand which reaches to pull me high above the thunderous clouds.

I can see inside the souls of the frightened ones. The sweet apocalypse like candy fire sliding all over their forked tongues.

Everybody is afraid of the end, all convinced it’s here or will be any minute. And so vigilance. And so the skittish and the paranoid and the constant riot inside the rib cage and the screaming. It’s the waiting that disturbs them most. They cannot stand that they cannot stand not to know what they can never know for sure and so the guns and so the neon faces and the dislocation of limbs and brittle minds and fragile bodies.

And somehow you finish. And somehow I can tell. And somewhere deep inside my blood begins to rush again through my veins and my ears and my eyes are filled with mysterious tears I imagine are sacred like the stars. But the stars, of course, are empty. They’ve all but gone out a long time ago.

Sand pours through the slender neck of time. Space cradles the tiny erosions which scratch at the skin of the moon. Sometimes the body stays in place of the heart, covers for the soul. Sometimes the only thing you are desperate to hold is the thing that’s falling apart.

Some Unholy War

It won’t matter in the end, not as much as you think it will anyway. But what do I know, I’ve not yet been. All of these voices, all of these people, telling you what to do and how to be, what makes you trust them more than you trust yourself? How’d the bar get set so low for what matters and what doesn’t?

Or maybe it’s the opposite problem. Somewhere underneath the scuttled noise of your arrogance or theirs, the bar got set so impossibly, irretrievably high that even to reach it became nothing more than the failure to clear it all together. We fear the fall and we fear the fear to take the leap in any case. Maybe that’s why you trust them. At least then they can’t peg any of this on you.

When I light the cigarette I’m not myself. When I swallow the gin I am more magic than sin. When you speak at me like you think you’re gonna teach me something I don’t already know, I spit on the concrete sidewalk and twist my thick heel against the stones. You don’t take the time to think it through. You take half the time it takes to make any sense at all and I wish somehow inside I could separate my frustrations from the wild tentacles of your charm. I wish I could untangle your endless wandering words from the silence I so desperately want to drown into in my own deep dark soul.

For all the “man-made” advances we congratulate ourselves for making in technology or science or war, an erosion takes place little by little within us collectively. I feel it in the pit of my stomach and try to numb it with all the wrong things. Looking into your eyes, I see blue skies which never end and twisted feelings which somehow always do. I’m unsure if I want to pleasure you or tear you apart piece by piece. Perhaps a little bit of both because what good is one without the other.

You’ve seen it before, you’ve felt it in places you’d rather not admit to anyone. The sweet, sweet anguish of destruction in the palm of your very own trembling hands.

In a dream, she was soft as a feather as her bare breasts brushed against the open heat of my mouth. She gives me a tiny book of matches with a darkened navy washed image on the front. I cannot recall what it was exactly, a typewriter maybe or a peacock, some wild, exotic, beautiful thing. We blew clouds of smoke into the velvet drapery and plush carpeting. We slid our fragile hands all over each others’ smooth pale skin. When her eyes flashed like fire on water, mine did the same in response, I could feel it. No words only laughter, only touch. The liquid of the dream giving way to pure ocean glow like crystal in sunlight, the soft hazy burn of the salt of desire.

I could not tell you where my dreams come from and I cannot tell you where any of the folds of my mind begin or end. What they will expect of you are answers you cannot give. Don’t even try. What they will try to trick you into spilling are the secrets you were meant to keep all to yourself. How many kisses are apologies planted right square in your dying mouth? It gets complicated like that, but mostly because we set it up to be.

Everything Could Be Different

I never really spoke that much in grade school. I was never a storyteller, unless I was lying about something generally insignificant and then again when I had to confess my minor transgression to an old obese white man, wearing a black shirt with a tiny white square in the center of his neck, while we were both tightly suffocating in the oppressive heat of a small dark wooden box. I was too young then to make the connection between this small wooden box and a casket but in hindsight it’s pretty glaring, the nailing together of sin with eternal damnation.

I remember there were velvet drapes in there, a good bit of thick blood-red material hanging all around and the smell of incense which I wanted to be soothing but was more like the invocation of the sensation of the masking of a trembling kind of trepidation. The seedy scent of humanity: sweat, gingivitis, hair, teeth, fingernails.

Which is all simply to say that I was quiet when set out against the outside world. My mother would have said I was shy, in a way which more than suggested I should apologize for existing inside my own silence, but really I was just discerning as a scrawny timid kid who was taught that the universe (and maybe Jesus, but I never could quite get a handle on that) was trying to harm me at every turn. But in my journals I would tell stories through words, poetry, whatever. I guess it’s just inside you when you are born. A natural obsession with the way language works and how you can play with it. It all starts out as play pretty much.

All across the budding trees, the rain is coming down steady and heavy, creating a meditative atmosphere in my writing room. I have so many books that when I want to find any particular one I am just as likely to find it on a proper shelf as I am to find it cob-webbed and teetering in a corner stack of novels which are propping up a potted plant or a tiny lamp, or nothing at all – just teetering and helping the dust to settle.

I was looking for a certain collection of poetry for a friend the other day, one I have yet to read myself. I have had the thing for years but I am absolutely terrified to read it. I know it will be so cripplingly beautiful it will kill me. Can you imagine that? Afraid to read a thing for fear of how it will wreck my entire being, change it, cut it open and crush it until I can’t be put back together the same way ever again.

Writing is a wicked trick and impossible to unhook from your own veins once it’s been dug in. It all starts out as just messing around. You tell things on a slant and the slant becomes a distortion which feels so delicious and so right even though it’s wrong until it becomes a story which becomes an alternate world where it can become the truth. Even if only for a while, everything can be different. Even you.

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Photo by Emma Simpson

Alone In Here Anyway

What would you say is the worst of it?

The way I laugh when you mention the sins of my past or my insatiable passion for the things you refuse to understand?

When I was young, I used to lie in bed in my thin pink nightgown, listening to the night creatures make their crickety nocturnal sounds until the last of the summer sun’s light disappeared into complete purple glittering darkness. As the sweet soft air caressed my tiny body, I imagined the angels came down and opened up my ribs like opening the golden doors of a small cage which was a house, a stained glass temple reflecting every color of the rainbow, constructed in the flesh of all creatures who fall to this earth against their will.

A fire was placed inside of me. The ivory gates were closed and locked around its precious reddened flame. And even after all these years and decades I have spent attempting to make a life I swear is mine and mine alone, that other-worldly flame sparks and courses all through my veins. I go blind in the daylight if I just close my eyes and believe. I glow like the stars all through the night when everyone else is fast asleep.

When you look at me, what is the deadness you feel and why? I can see the way your eyes shut down as mine flicker open, hungry, eager, pleading. Where has your light gone? The light which slips out the back door of your spirit. Why does it recoil?

This world can be so bitterly cold and unfeeling and what frightens me more than the bony fingers of Death itself is a life devoid of feeling, so I place my hands on your chest anyway. When you slip the straps of my dress down my shoulders, I cover your mouth with my mouth anyway. When you offer me what is left of your body and your strength, I claw my nails down your back anyway.

Perhaps what I think is love is really just a prayer tenderly, secretly spoken by the child who was an angel who never knew anything other than to place her trust in mysterious things. An attempt, doomed maybe, but true nonetheless, at soul to soul resuscitation.

Is it your fear of burning which keeps you close but not close enough to taste the risk of ruin by the viciousness of a love as thick as mine? Sometimes I forget that you can’t see the things I see. Sometimes I pretend I don’t remember. That you can’t fathom the terrible beauty of this fire coaxed to life inside of me. I guess I could say that maybe that’s the worst of it.

 

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Photo by Kristina Stepanidenko

 

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What They Never Tell You Is

The sweet soft air of springtime slides in through my open bedroom window and I sit up to inhale a deep drag of it, hoping secretly it will come inside my body and heal it. All my bad decisions. All the ways I wanted nothing but to obliterate myself entirely. The little tiny kills spread out across a day, an evening which picks at your skin like pock marks on the face, shameful, obvious, but even that doesn’t stop you from the gouging.

Maybe I wanted help as much as I wanted to be left the fuck alone. The little tiny kills that happen and happen and happen and accumulate over a lifetime, only the life is still happening while the time, well, the time is anybody’s guess, except to say it’s moving on with or without you.

Rising from my bed and taking a few steps into the light of morning, I am surrounded by rays of silent sunshine and the glowing flecks of dust which hang suspended in the air like pollen hovering, waiting, static impregnation, it feels alien to be among this brightness. I am remembering what it is to want this. For so long the darkness was the only thing I could trust.

I do not reach for the cigarette which burns in the front of my mind. I swallow gulps of the late March breeze, and water. Lots and lots of water these days. I raise my hand to touch my face, to reach for the drink, to reach for the self-loathing I know and love so much, and stop. Beyond the sickness and the shaking, beyond the bones in the river by the houses lining the bend in the street, there is something heading toward me and I want to welcome it in.

There is something already inside. What they never tell you about is the quiet. They only tell you about the noise, which is easier to deal with because noise is something which has to be dealt with. But the quiet, well, the quiet, it just stays as long as you can stand it. And once it’s got you, you and it are all there is.

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Photo by Darius Marshall