so i had a new job, that much made sense. i was wearing thick-rimmed glasses and my hair was up, strands dangling like fast rain. no one would let me in the bathroom, which was small and the color of cardboard. these types were the best safe-havens for moments alone but still halfway in public, to collect and clean the scattered crumbs of my distorted thinkings and remember who i am exactly if and when i am myself. the other waitresses were fast and proficient. i knew i had been too, once, i just couldn't grasp it now, i couldn't grasp anything - everything slipped. i'd been proficient before too, i swear, but my brain fell out, somewhere. i was leaking.
a very important group of people were beginning to arrive, dripping in like large insects in different colored suits. i was expected to do things. i looked at a pile of clean cloth napkins neatly folded, ready and a crumpled pile of used dirty ones. they looked back. things clicked in my brain that concerned me.
you were there, your bright boy face, a part of the group of important people. i peeked past corners at you, you glanced occasionally. i died, a little, each time. what did i want? i couldn't tell you, i couldn't even tell me.
my mother showed up unexpectedly and i ran to her, grabbed her off to the side. i pleaded.
i said please, my brain is in pieces. it's in piles, messy and cleanly folded ones. i can't do anything. i can't see straight. she was mad. this all made her very angry.
"no, be fine."
"you will lose this job."
my eyes were teary and warm and felt like the last sip in a beer bottle no one wants. i went to the managers office. walked over in a panic i know so well the merriam websters dictionary definition couldn't even compete. it was not foreign but so well known. too well known. the three women in the office looked at me like i had done something unspeakable that needed amends or punishment, at the least. i tried to explain. a tall brunette spoke slowly. "your glasses are full of fog which i know means you're lying. it's a tell tale sign." i felt the fog. i switched lanes.
"look," i said. "look, i'm with child. i can feel it. i'm sick. i can't breathe. he's here. i can't separate the clean and dirty napkins. i'm not sure whose inside me, who did this. i can't lose this job. he's here. will i lose this?
"separate the napkins." she said.
i tried to use my hands the way the other people used their hands. they were unwilling.
i dropped heavy silver forks and knives. the sound was lusty and full-mouthed. the other servers picked them up for me, it's alright, they said, we'll take care of this, they did their job and mine. i thought he must love them, as they set up his silverware, he must.
the sky outside was so sharp, wrestling through the restaurants glass windows. the sky outside was my mothers eyes times a thousand and i knew when i looked at it that i was liable and flimsy and that i should be filled with shame and i was.
i lost my mind, i would lose this, and the job, probably. what would i lose?
things happen out of nowhere. we were in the city but i knew very well it never looked like this. everything was off, everything was choked up and about to cry. i watched you more and more from behind hidden things and looked for any slight signs of possible love, any more love. you laughed with the important group of people and maybe there were small moments for me but nothing was big enough to compete with the universe. i decided quickly to run outside and got on the first bus i saw. a country bus, a city bus, it switched up, like the napkins. a man said "chloe" and i said yes? without thinking. he said your name is chloe? and i said oh no, but it sounds a bit like kerry. he said are you with child? and i said its funny you ask that because yes. because i am with child. he asked me my name and i thought of all the names i wanted for my child.
i touched my stomach. everything was threatening and childrens-sing-song loud. the two men in front of me were kissing, they said "bless you child, you are beautiful". but i knew beautiful left me when i stopped sucking my thumb and started to bite my nails, ignore phone calls and drinking vodka from the bottle. it left me in a mirror asking questions with no answers, only this darkness. i saw you then in my head while i was on that bus.
i had my head against the window and then there was the city, there were store fronts i recalled. we passed a home, unlike the others. it was subtly colored, a soft yellow, and a dark indigo blue with dark purple paneling. a woman nearby told her companion "its just what i imagined. we can live there one day, after everything."
once she said this i saw their whole lives up until this point, in an instant, i felt all of it, fast and hard and clear. it was not pleasant but beautiful, still.
in the movie we watched in a dream i had, that house was the same colors of your blanket that you pulled up over your head, in my head and i wanted in there, no matter what. i wanted inside no matter what.
i think i know i think i know i saw it, i think i really saw it. i never told you, i always told them everything. i
never punctuate - i fly, i have wings but you can't see them. they
don't come in two's but by the thousands and they are not kept on our
backs, they are somewhere else, they're all over. no, don't look. it's clear now that i am not a person exactly but a place. some place you come to, you come to sit and lay, you stay and talk here, like a confessional in a catholic church, just a really different kind of holy. growing up i would always lie during the sacrament of penance. i was never honest inside those tiny confessionals. not because i was scared or very guilty of something but because i didn't know why not to or how. why true? what did god want with my sins? fuck it, i kept them wrapped around my tiny fingers. i couldn't remember, let alone fathom not sinning. ten years old, i couldn't even process what it was exactly, sure, they'd try and try to teach me, i just didn't understand. just what wasn't a sin? it seemed like not much. seemed like not anything at all. but this i didn't mind. everything there happened too quickly to make any sense, anyway.
i remember choosing between the heavy cloth and a grid-like screen to separate the priest and i. this decision seemed important. i usually chose the screen, like maybe i was braver if i chose the screen. it validated all of my made up sins somehow, i was still able to see the priests green or purple robes through the very small holes and still smell his holy churchy aftershave. we were all subtly urged to whisper. the compartments, like wooden photo booths, lined the walls along the sides of our church near marble statues that i liked to touch when no one was looking. i had trouble with how hard the things here groped for beauty. you can't do it this way, with their stained glass windows and elevated alter. the priests all delicately robed and holding up books and bread, whispering words to them. this isn't how it works and i knew it. things were dirty and things were evil, skin always beats marble and it always beats glass. but there were still songs we sang in church that made me cry, songs that sounded exactly like reaching like mad for something bigger, my eyes would fill up and drip for the people that sang with their eyes closed and for the sound. i still memorized the prayers and said them right and closed my eyes and folded my hands and tried to find the god we were told to get on our knees for. i was just gone, is all, learning things they didn't care to know. so in the end, it just seemed best to lie.
even through the screen the priest usually knew it was me. he knew me by name and he knew my life. this made it worse. things would just plop automatically out of my mouth without warning. yes, i had been bad, yes, i had pushed my little brother -- hard. and okay i stole bubblegum from a bodega, or ten dollars from my mother, i kicked a kid in my class just for the fuck of it. i fudged a lot of facts and a lot of numbers. this was much safer. i wasn't like the other kids i knew or the teachers or the priests. i watched water & wind & made gravel move with my eyes. i did this for minutes and hours and days and years. i watched people that were there for me only, they would languidly visit my little existence. they never asked me my sins and i never asked them theirs. sometimes they'd touch all the wings. they'd tell me about the lines we draw between real good and real evil. i wondered things like just what did crows do exactly to warrant their dark symbolisms besides eat the dead? we'd all walk and talk alone, together. i'd pick up used stubby cigarettes off the ground and smoke them absently. i'd think about sickness and death and how to share human grittiness, the things people ran from with their eyes closed. i reached always, for everything. just not the things everyone else was reaching for. i learned things about places inside people that they had never traveled to, i touched finally the edges of all the meanings of sin and what it was to be human but more importantly how many of them would do anything to deny all the facts. at the end of confession the priest would make the sign of the cross over me with his hand, sideways, palm out, and only then was i absolved. absolution. but no different. i wasn't. maybe i should have chosen the cloth instead or told the truth, whatever that was, i should have hid my wings better or stayed on the ground. i saw it, i know i saw it. i see it still.
was the tenth or eleventh year of my life. i wore big soft t-shirts and
never had any shoes on. there were trees along the sidewalk that we trusted to be bases during tag, specific trees that jut out of the cement
like exclamation points. there was a girl that i would kiss that kissed me back. we'd kiss and kiss, touching for hours. we'd kiss under blankets at
sleepovers, inside big dark shoe closets (the bumpy shoes underneath us,
jutting into our girl legs and the crowded hanging clothing
embracing our cheeks and faces as we moved, that we grabbed in our
furies). softly or very aggressively we'd kiss in her bedroom and in the
dark empty classrooms of the elementary school building on sundays
after church. i would kiss her whenever i had the chance to, and when it
started some unnameable new sparking force would find me and nothing
could stop me from looking for my body, this new and greedy body. i swear
there wasn't a slope or curve that could fill me up. i was so hungry.
these were our bodies now. no one elses. her lips were
raspberries and i was all fruit-stained and covetous. i was learning. we
both were. i dare you to try and explain those first skinnydipping
kisses in the shoe closet. we
were all little-girl-knees and soft tongues, we were vlad's lolita,
nothing was dirty or impure, even all the spit was spotless. the most
magnificent thing was that we were unaware, we had no idea at all, the
things that were growing. everything turned
delicious. that's the thing about clean skin. that's the thing.
girl-soap air and wet hair after a whole day outside, the leftover scent
was proof that we defeated the world, we were the gods and martyrs of
our street. i wanted to be covered in absolutely everything. when
they found us kissing they arranged a talk with our priest. we sat in big
wooden chairs with round bouncy purple cushions under our bottoms, side
by side with his face across from us. i can still smell him, i can still
smell the room. he spoke to us calmly about pornography and the
troubles, he talked about sex and men. it was halloween. i used my
special vision skills to look outside the window behind him at trees and
autumn leaves while still appearing very attentive and focused on his
face. i didn't want to think about sex anymore, not here with this
priest, not like this. i conversed with the maple leaves and with myself
in my mind while his longish older-gentleman mouth moved carefully,
more at us than to. i wondered what he really knew besides the nothings coming out of that mouth. the trees moved soundlessly. i wasn't with either of
them in that room, but outside, away. i can see you god, can you see
me? my hands were folded, aware of one touching the other. it wasn't
about her anymore, something left me then. it was my tenth or eleventh year, in october. i
started to write in marble notebooks all the time. the wrong god answered. it wasn't
about her anymore, or the priest or the shoe closet or the wet hair.
instead it was a sooty gorgeous sickness that i still breathe in and
out, every time.
i visit your mind from the inside of mine i visit everyone it is not my decision
i am in a spot that is maybe your great great grandmothers sisters garden where her husband would watch her for hours from different windows of large house. everyday she'd grow and groom lilies with more efficiency than people that worked hard for money.
i am in an earthy, shady spot in that very garden and i am digging. everyone watches me. my name is said twice in a poem, which i think is very beautiful. some silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids seem to inspire my onlookers to repeatedly ask me how my garden grows and I don't know and when they ask it just turns my heart into a thing with eyelashes that is capable of crying. maybe the little salty tears are good for the soil and digging, i mean, the lillies still grow, so i don't stop. it is not my decision. they all think i am dreaming. i wonder what i look like from the windows of the house, i count the row of pretty maids and i hope, as i dig, that maybe now you or i could finally exist as something more than just human. its happening but it never happens. sometimes
you're you and sometimes you're already not, but either way,
somebody big and tough holds the reigns on your subconscious car
crashes. who you are then controls the colors of your garden dwellings
and elementary school memories. nobody i have found sounds the same but my garden is your garden quite contrary i know it is.
I'm sorry, I can't, there's 5,000 blades in my stomach. I'm sorry but I can't, the birds are all talking. Don't move, I think they're saying. Don't touch me, don't shoot. You love me you said? Is that it? You love me no matter what? I mean no matter what?
They're hunting turkeys outside but besides that I hear nothing. Yes, the television counts as nothing, your voice counts as nothing, my heartbeat counts as nothing. Okay, never mind, I lied, your voice is a semi-precious stone, at worst.
So all my apologies --- every single one. Tell me, were you always a god?
I move my body, my teeth chatter with the talking birds. Don't get cold, I won't be cold. Keep the bones warm and alive. Your hands are not helpful but your eyes are the kind that look to the color of the shirt worn for guidance as to how to shine. Look, you don't understand - I'm not a storyteller, so put all that shiny good stuff away and show me some shadows. You're distracting, I'm distracted. I scribble in my head and I hold your hands with mine. I'm sorry. I missed your call, I'm late for all the appointments, I'm sorry, I lose people like pens. It's complicated, I was always a late bloomer but maybe I could make you some tea? I could fold all your clothes? I could pour us some whiskey shots and I swear I won't stop until you tell me to. I could write you vague love letters on the back pages of novels, but not this, I can't do this.
Just please, wait and don't move, I'm trying to tell you something. I swear there's a point. There is a matter and the matter is this: I lost. It's that simple and I'm so sorry. It's too much like swishing warm salt water in my mouth when I lost a tooth. Blood and salt and teeth and 'Kerry, spit it out' and 'Don't play with that new, bloody hole there' but I would anyway, my tongue searching for a distinct bitter proof of something missing. In my growing-adult-teeths phase I remember being moved from one place to another by the sound of bells. They weren't silver or gold but I remember still a deep sounding ring and complete understanding. I left then and i'll never tell you where I ended up. My mother still has a baby tooth of mine inside a very tiny soft envelope. The others I swallowed in my sleep, like most things. I can remember learning somewhere that teeth are stronger than the bones of the body but i'm still not what you think, i'm still not that storyteller. Still lost, still sleeping. That baby tooth in the envelope is meaningless, I know, in the giant looming scheme of things but listen. It's a symbol and I can't stop searching for those. I play with the tooth in my hands back and forth, I press the sharp edges of it into the skin of my fingers. Listen up, please. I was born. I was born and then there was a gold rush.
Where have you been!? Where the fuck did you go? Was that all you had? You spin & spin, you ask yourself as yourself, out loud in the car, in the shower, whisper it in bed. I don't know whats happened, you say, all of yourselfs agree. We are very quiet now. You have been making cuts and we don't mean the bloody kind. You have let go of your sounds to love, a giant offering. Do you mourn for it? You no longer kiss us and words and time get lonely too, dear.
But we can do this, just start at any beginning,
Start at that beginning.
You know the one.
Go, for christs sake, fill up the giant black garbage bags and run. There, start here.
Its only the memories that bite but we know how you love your scars. Start on the cities concrete streets of your very minuscule existence, just begin, you hummingbird. Wake up at that subway station that is outside and still under-ground (where lost girls fall and things rumble forever) Wait for your train. Anoint your expression with your involuntary distracted-by-thought look. Walk with yourself across the platform. Find the edge, apple blossom, where you are not permitted to walk or stand. It is a grime-browning yellow and its surface is made up of thick round bumps. Walk on that ledge, press your feet down on the little globes and think about the things you think about love. Not home, darling: love.
Home is just some slow condensation. it's underground and outside. I can't tell you how dark and deep it goes because no one knows, not really. So do not think on it, dreamer, please, push all your girl-weight down on your feet & step into the jutting yellow earths under them. We are awake and we are dreaming of you. You have no past or present, you are only a roamer, it's simple. In this city we are all native voyeurs and we are all alive. Even keeping very still in this warm womb you remain in fast transit and camouflaged. Peek over, seeker, keep watch for the shining silver beginning tip in the dark sheltered tunnel. Two wide-eyed ivoried lights will appear first. When the train swells forward, breathe hard the hot moving air its silver body pushes towards you. The train will stop. Hear a once-rung bell and an airy pause, a mechanical swish. Your heart maybe flutters the way it would when you'd walk out onto a stage. Faceless and not human but loud: "stand clear of the closing doors, please." Walk inside.
Sit in your new neatly ordered yellow and orange chaired world. Fresh but homesick smells will find you, like old laundromats or bookstores. Foreign faces surround you, belonging to lives that are unknown and are not yours but you make their stories up in your head anyway. Take this train to places. Let it stop at its stops but mostly just tuck up into your brains. Wait to hear nothing. No one can touch you when you're moving this fast.
No one can say a word so don't ever stop going.
You know what they say about hummingbirds.
Things looked so perfect outside train windows, right where they belonged, fast & far away. You used to take your notebook to write and the faster you'd formulate with your scratchy pens the more you felt watched and yet you'd go on, kitten, looking for that you-tailored noise. Find them now, recall it and hold it in your head, earth and all. So many years with your tiny wrists, your forever unclean knees and loaded eyes. That noise you fell in love with in your mind when the world showed you all its disfigured truths.
You were so loud.
Lusty poems that would deafen and peal, Cusses on the high school bathroom stalls all about you, terrible, loud things, ear-splitting louds, little kids sneakers squeaking wild and wicked on a church floor. You wore makeup on your eyes that smeared just so. You were the patron saint of unremovable sadnesses. The portrait of chaos, the graffitied-stall-headliner.
Are you there?
Are you there yet?
You would hush up your heart and it would come whimpering out in public and all your so-called-friends would call you 'psycho' and you'd cry. Listen. This is a story of a girl thats almost woman, halfway human, mostly ghostly, ferociously no ones. Just a creature of that wooded borough with a hungry little heart. You would cry so hard back then, never spoke up or pushed too hard. You'd sip your vodka or drink it fast and watch things take place on the earth you refused to call mother. You'd walk home alone when you could. slow and sweet orange-street-lit-city paces to your house. You'd sit at your giant, amber desk and make lists, put on radiohead & smoke joints outside the fire-escape window. The lists you'd write weren't the usual kind. These didn't want to be lists at all, but wanted instead to be monuments to the things that everyone really thinks about when they make their own. Your grocery list was waterlogged and wheezing, rhythms of a mind parade with marching band drummer fingers, whispered wants and peoples heart shaped noises. Your oversized, white bed was a musical flavor. High and in tune, in that room alone but with everyone there you'd stay up and write down the usually quieted uproars. You were no seeker but a finder and giver of the weird unconscious places of uncommon safety and silence people look for in sleep.
Now, you ripe earth-girl , put the sound in your head, love-maker.
Find whats not bare and get it fucking naked
touch softly the undressed and leafless, open and exposed.
Unplug it all and drown, darling.
Watch out your train windows and come home.
world is sleeping
i play with the moon
dear kerry, it writes, in lit and non-lit alphabets
i know you are listening
so get your dark blue pencil
& tell everyone.
write in the spotted darkest darks
write on your knees
write on the floor under the bed & say fuck off to your monsters.
i always wanted to be colors but
the sky was greedy and all your eyes
had dibs on the ones that mimicked every emotion
i am white and yellow and black, or whatever you want to see
make me look important & use me.
one million years ago i'd sit in bed really late at night or early in the morning and write you long, rambling letters about why i could never really love anyone fully, not for anything ever, i wasn't the kind. i was trying to make you to understand, get it? and then in the blink of someones eyes i was here next to you in this bed, your lips parted slightly for breaths while you slept and i'd stay up and think and worry and think. i'm still up and yeah, fine, there's a very exact time for every task and every token, for every blink you lose a home. for every dream you get ten nightmares and for sleeping in they'll be the kind you know you're in but can't wake yourself out of. for every saint i'll be the sinner. i'll leave. i'll live with you-know-who and i'll just try not to think while he fucks me. and no, i am absolutely not sitting indian style, alone, playing the same song over and over smoking cigarettes while trying to articulate what exactly it is i am missing from myself. i am going to call you. i swear. i am going to call you and i'll say. i'll call you and i'll say whatever falls outof mymouth. i will not say that there is nothing romantic about romance. i will not say there is nothing wild enough in the wilderness. i won't say anything of the sort because it's not fair to life even though life is never fair to anyone. chestnut i said things that were terrible but they were true because i am only good at falling fast, arms flailing and maybe you could put me back and then i could remember how i got here and how to use my hands and head - forget my heart. i have learned that it is yours, there's not a chunk you don't own, i can't have it ever again, not anymore. but it really doesn't matter much, in the end, because everything will just stay forest-quiet, i know, and we'll keep moving and moving, me naked and mentally in pieces and you on fire.
two pills two stories some maniacal preacher on a cocaine buzz in my brain but he sounds so earnest so try i'll and work it in somehow get on your knees and pray we can love you. my eyes are big hazel zombies put me to sleep or wake me up but don't ask me to sing for you i won't. there is a bell outside that won't stop ringing among other horrifying things "such a naughty girl" with inklings to start forest fires and crash cars to get numb and find any way out make it easy on me or i'll make it easy on me i promise you won't feel a thing at least i think you won't. i make wordy diagrams but in the end its not getting what you want and not wanting what you get vs. actually having something you wanted. now you're a needle in the hay remember? i inhabited i stood there, kerry. bruisy and reckless and loud and lovely, i would kiss them all just because i could, because i could make them feel things crowded with color, watch i'd wake sleepers, rowdy and rough-housing, damp sweetnesses, lots of alcohol and trumpet-tounged poetry, sad stories that loved me so good. but now i need you i need now, incubus. i can't remember myself, i'm terrified and misplaced time & air mobilize me like a puppet then casually throw me around i handed over my world and wonder for a flimsy, shiny tin-foil element that bends me and brings me left and lost and empty. it's like, the pain was muscular and trustworthy but trust is now gawking, waiting for the go-ahead and i can't breathe and we'll get bored and we'll be worn and useless we'll wander we'll fall in some hole & never get out think rain forest humidity think packed cars drowning underwater
THERE ARE SMALL AND VERY MENIAL THINGS I ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO WATCH YOU DO, TO SEE YOU HAVE. a myriad of random things.
THERE ARE THINGS I SHOULDN'T TELL YOU BUT WILL, FOR THE SAKE OF ROMANTIC COMPULSIONS.
it is intoxicating, darling /
1. you pumping gas / i have a habit of studying you through the rear view mirror it's the specific way you stand and how you maneuver your hands. i watch the way you look off distantly and lick your lips and breathe.
2. you in deep conversation with others / i watch you talk and know that yeah, you're mine and it's very possible that we belong to each other on some other-worldly level that has nothing to do with conversation or politeness or opinions.
3. the way you put your hands in your pockets / you keep them there, showing off your wrists. it changes the way your jeans hug your legs, the veins in your arms pumping.
4. watching your hands when they touch me / there i become less phantom and more girl: corporeal. i'm less brain, mind-melty moments because of two hands and my skin.
5. watching your eyes take in information / they have opinions, those two eyes, and the skin around them. they have control. but it is not just that you are powerful, it is that you exist to hold a whole-worlds power but only over me.
6. watching you unconsciously hold this power / the power is warm. that is my favorite thing about it. it makes the air a song-singer.
7. when your eyes are black, like railroad oil. when your eyes turn crystal green, usually before you might cry. when your eyes turn yellow and i find gold. i promise to keep digging.
8. watching the muscles in your back move like ripply water / i want to swim and i want to go under but all i can do is put my hands there and try to move with you. to move with you.
i'm drunk and my face is puppy-nose wet with tears. it's way up in the a.m.'s and we're sitting here, two red faced animals, angry about being angry about not being angry. this is about a moment. a very precise hot-buzz of a moment that slides sideways into the room where i realize that i have never once hit a man. never in my life have i slapped a man without it being some sort of joke or rehearsed set up, like little kids first kissing. this is not to say there have not been men that didn't deserve it, they did. i still remember. but hand in hand with this inkling, a concept tiptoes along, hinting that just maybe i am hurt and angry enough for exactly that sort of thing and how often do i let anger win? let me tell you, i don't ever. anger lives in the older, atticy part of my brain inside a sleeping bag - those ones that you can zip all the way up. more than that, i know that i could probably slap you right now, if i had the balls to, i could. i decisively want the balls to. i imagine it and replay it, it looks wrinkly and weird in my imagination. right across your face, like in some movie - deliberately - without missing or awkwardly grazing or backing out. this moment then shakes itself off and dissolves into something thicker and much further from me. something is not contained that should be and i no longer have any authority. i try and find it, i grab for the concrete existence of our situation but i feel only a slight air-to-skin-tingle and vast distances. this happens occasionally, perhaps you've found at times, you're not quite sure what it is you might do. i'm watching myself from off on the sides and standing, i see myself want to be someone else, to be somewhere else, to undo some pasts and some knowledges. maybe our emotions get tired of telling us how and when and why and just want us to surprise ourselves. these emotions steady themselves. there is disorder and sabotage. what should be my body and what should be my mind play a quick and hostile game of hide and seek. the mind conjures things up and then quickly retreats from any notions its created while the body grabs the gun. i've never held a gun. i think of your hands on her. just right across your face. your face, my face, that i hold and adore. i think of the two hands you use to touch me, writing to her about your desire to kiss her lips, or anywhere on her. ergo, we pull the trigger. the smack is authentic and loud and somehow it seems to really be my hand and your face. it pulls me, bottom line. loud objects fall from the sky in our little room that only i can see. the slap is the brass tacks, it is how things are, like it is, a crack in lifes pavement. it echoes in my brain along with your two roomy, brimming brown eyes. the bedroom is so hot. i don't know what i am looking for exactly, is the thing, with this slap, but it happens with a cracking that would confuse a tree twig. out of any touched or felt reality, time keeps indifferently moving, shrugging its shoulders. the atmosphere has a hangover and i am very thirsty, my heart muddied and walloping. you just sit there looking at me, with your mouth a little open. i measure the guilt with my chest breaths and try to filter them accordingly. you'd be surprised how much a heavy something can be so inexhaustibly nothing. you get up to leave and i am alone, crying harder now, all dowdy and waterlogged. even my ears felt full of water. i watch the muscles in your back move as you walk away and i know things have been changing for some time inside me, i don't have the same power over myself that i used to. i ache to hold that burst and smack, to scream again with poems. i know you and i are both unlike the other. i wipe my nose, nurse my bruisy heart and face like a kitten with its paws. i know that you are a very far cry from ever being any sort of muse for me, any sort of animus. there are no more whims and rumbles. i fall into a deep drug-like sleep, alone.
mike was center-stage, the nerve point of the body of the road, he was holding a knife the size of his thick, soft arm. it was pre-pre-dawn, the dark air was mentally preparing for the idea of slow sunrise. he was alone, that was visually understood, even though he was surrounded by a scramble of people, watching him like pre-k students breathlessly observing a teacher perform some unfathomable experiment. he was facing me and there was a fury. i was his road ahead and he was very slowly stepping toward me while what seemed to be my body stepped back and back and away, hands up. he'd thrust the knife in my direction, stumbling and then he'd stop and his arms would go slack. no one else moved but him and me. as he walked, he muttered, a debate between hard or soft, hate or love and then without warning his right hand thoroughly and deliberately began to slice each finger off of the other hand with the very large knife. he watched his right hand work as if he was creating a very detailed drawing.
"see?" he said to me. the aggression was full-mouthed and i had nothing to breathe with. i did. i saw. i nodded.
there was a sound for each hack, a sharp symphony of sorts. he barely winced but he was sobbing. when he had gotten completely through one finger fully, it would just fall off the hand like leaves but louder, they laid there bizarrely arranged on the road.
he was talking, it was clear that he was only talking to me, i'm not sure if he even saw anyone else there. in half english he spoke, said my name a few times, the rest of it my head couldn't hear at all.
violence was jiffy-pop-cracking in the air and everyone just gawked, no one said anything, no one, like dumb-found birds. i was crying, tears like your fingers over and over down my face. he would stop between each finger and point the knife at me, quicken his pace, obviously teetering back and forth from mad to madder, self-destruction to the furious preparation to destroy all the parts of me he saw. that is what he came here for, he was there for me, i was the prey, everyone knew it, no one did a thing. i heard slaps of messy sentences when he looked at me, between the sobs and the loud dial-tone throb of fear behind my eyes. ('you did it,' 'did you know,' 'did you know they're not okay?!' 'its not okay', 'never,' 'you')
after the thumb, without thought, he used the knife to cut right through the skin past the hand -- the cartilage and then the very hard bone of the wrist. each layer had a sound. getting through the bone was the first time we saw him wince, all of us somehow surprised at its hardness, him sawing at it like a carpenter. the people would look at him and then at me, maybe for answers, i didn't have any, what did i do, what. the sky was full of heart pinching whimpers, it was like all of the birds were waking up at once. whimpers or birds whimpers or birds, he was shaking very hard now, a bad song. breathing was not an option. it just wasn't. somewhere something had gathered the breaths of all of us watching into a giant cloud and gave it to the sky. i was suspended by the oncoming hurts i could see he wanted for me but still not ready for death. shaking. still though, it sat there, fingers laced and waiting.
i was thinking after all those fingers, the crazily wasted pain, five thin bloody tree trunks in a morse-code line on the road, after all that and only after did he think of the wrist, of the rest of his hand. he removed each one just for the fuck of it, just for the torture of each one. why not the whole arm? all at once? whats never okay? and me?
trucks drove by but the people inside had no faces, or no voices, they'd just shrug as if to say 'i don't know, the kid seems to know what he's talking about,' they'd wave and keep driving, like, 'no, you'll be all right,' but i wasn't.
what was left of his arm hung there while he used the knife in his good hand to split the skin of his chest, from the bottom of his belly to his neck, with a straight deep long dash. blood isn't red, really, like in stories, but black. a sticky black that kisses crimson. he fell over, first on his knees and then face down.
i remember attempting through a petrified smothering air to get in touch with you using my mind. you had been gone for days, you had just taken off. we were in her house before it all happened, your hands were around her waist and the front of you pressed against her back while she brushed her teeth and then you both just left. the house filled up with water, up past my ankles and then people all came. people that i knew and didn't know. they filled the house up with smoke and ignored the water, which was always moving, sloshing room-temperature, threateningly. this is when he showed up, outside, with the knife. the kids looked at me and gestured out to him like i had received some package, like i was before them in line at the movies but wasn't paying attention. they shoved me out there, and his debate began. what i knew he wanted was my hands and my fingers. the blueish blood in my veins jumped startled, aware it was hunted. this is and isn't a horror story. if i pleaded it wasn't with god. they shoved me out there and you never came back.
it was early. i was at the beer bottle-&-can recycling dispenser with a shopping cart full of bottles. it was busy devouring and destroying until it was pot-belly-full and an attendant had to come and empty it. it was too early for this sort of thing. but i was okay. the sun was cold and could only flicker quickly through the wind but i was okay. i was studying peacefully the inside a giant dirty bin filled with the ready-to-recycle crushed shiny cans the greyish grand union employee was emptying. i thanked him twice in one sentence. he wouldn't look me in the eye at all and i'm pretty sure i confused him or made him very angry, something of the sort. i do that. i have habits.
"that looks really pretty, actually" i said and gestured with a nod toward the christmas-tinsel-silver mess of cans. he didn't respond or he did but just by scowling, he lifted the bag out of the bin that reeked of one hundred strangers drunken nights, month old nights. he didn't seem to find it at all pretty, let alone any opposite of disgusting. i could see that he hated me. his face was giving away his obvious notion that probably i had never had to get involved in anyone else's messes ever. it was windy and the garbage bag was flapping, sounding like a bird with very large wings. the situation now was no longer okay. i felt small and entitled to something i didn't even own, we all empty garbage bags, we all carry them. sometimes the bags' tops that we grab and twist in our hands are wet with that smell of trash and week old life, sometimes the juices leak out and drag on while we drag on. i took a step away from him, allowing him his assumption, which seemed to sort of relax him a bit. "not her, not ever, no sir. " i visually resigned to the front of the beat-up chain supermarkets machines' decor. there was a flimsy paper ad taped to the beer bottle dispenser with a pixel portrait of what might be called a happy couple. the flier was announcing this very happy couples search for a baby to adopt. they were stable and catholic, it said, they lived near good schools. the kid looked up at me examining the paper as if i probably wasn't from this planet and i thought maybe he was right. i took a picture with my cell phone of the adoption seekers flier. i wanted to remember that life was actually like this. not even the stale, heavy old beer smell could make me not need one, but it was early and the kid was almost done with the garbage and all his personal crosses to carry so i put my phone away and lit a cigarette.
they switched the lights on really fast, which okay, it just swallowed me whole, that light, i whimpered and squinted. they hate that. they said c'mon whats with the sad songs? and i was all bells and whistles, i said nothing, i said fuck off, with your questions. bring me to the ocean. i want to hear everyone talking from the ocean. they were all like why don't you quit writing about dreams? i said make me. i miss you in a way that only dreams allow so you will have to grin and bear it or find another room, you lucky bastards, the hallways are vast, so go find another room. whatever you do don't just sit there. make me a drink, a stiff one, make yourself useful. did you think you could be the ocean? maybe talk its language? don't answer that. just put four ice cubes in my drink, no straw. you think the ocean stops calling? just like that? sit down and i'll tell you a story. i said a stiff one, kid, you know what that means? it means i feel a juicy, mood-ring warmth from the first ice-chilled sip. you'll learn.
i said turn the lights off because that is the way i say 'we have to talk.'
darkness is required.
i'm glad you're listening because i still wonder you know. i didn't forget one thing. look, boy, you were always so frail. there was a volatile atmosphere to the love-making. there was shaking. you shook often. the bedroom would become disconsolate and colors would change completely to let me know i'd been very very wrong. i was alone then. we were together but i was alone with new colors. i moved and you moved. you saw shooting stars and i saw a new sharp, swarming, needle-pointed blue, so? fuck, i'd think. "fuck" you'd say before you'd come and i'd hear my name inside and around your heavy breaths and there i'd become overwhelmingly aware of a gigantic space where my heart used to be and the unfulfilled commitments of a job required to respond to situations just like this. mentally in need of a checked-off "to-do list" only it would say "to feel" and when and where and names for these new hostile colors. this was the wrong kind of movie, the distantly sad, but, of course, this was just the kind i'd watch. me; masochistic and curious, i stayed and i waited and watched myself in the corner near your window. it was a strong and distant sadness that was easily intoxicated, getting numb and then realizing that, i wasn't, not really. but dove: you were just that, i wasn't just trying to be nice, dove. have you ever held one? any kind of bird? don't. it is frightening and it is never what you expect. the delicacy is startling. it's the sort of animal body that when first touched makes you jump bit at its softness and fragility. i am not explaining this right. listen, sit. did you ever notice the world is filled with things too gorgeously and painfully alive to be messed around with? they don't belong to us or here. look, like horses. have you ever possibly admired a horse close-up? face-to-face? you hesitate. hey, but, they'll let you. a tawny black one, maybe, or a pure earth-white horse, its muscles artistically placed and moving always as it moves. it is almost disturbing how the muscles move this way, like a quiet girl dancing very well but not showing it off. i am asking you to watch. watch the horses. there is some trinity, total and perfect you can witness right there in their eyes that is from heaven and from earth and from hell. they're burdened by an awareness of something we are not designed to understand. it's there. peer inside. love and fear were put there and stay wildly naked and available, a bit frighteningly. right here its never a lie. they carry us without question, we get up on and ride like god called us a cab, but he didn't. we shouldn't. you and i, we are undeserving. the earth does not wish to carry us. it wants the attention of the horses. focus. blue: i am saying. you were wild in this way. there were bon-fires in your eyes. i watched. i never wasn't looking. even with a vacationing heart and it's empty bedroom. the earth is warm on you, you it wishes to carry. darling you were never the wolf and i know it makes you sad but you are the fast-breathing sort of creature, the prince of animals of a graceful frailness. and blue, im not lying, it was beautiful.
in utero in you to her i whimper it so. i'm okay i'm okay i'm not okay i heard you on the radio i sort of sang along i put my hands on myself and i sort of sang along i pretended i wasn't the machine gun that could leave you so alone ignoring any bang that said i was my own i rewrote that check the edits i am your own, your home, use my bones i don't mind at all, we're already sewn i'm okay i'm not okay.
so the truth is that last week i left a note and a small ceramic cat underneath some periwinkle flowers outside your house. i thought it best to get as close to the roots as possible, so you'd be sure. i lied to everyone. i wrote the note in light blue ink, in capital letters. the tiny flowers were all hugging.
"i dreamt about you last night. we were naked but i can't recall, really, if we touched or if we fucked. you called me tangerine."
i left fast. hello roots, touch-and-go, my heart was beating rabbit-fast.
and now i just can't seem to write with my hands at all, they're heavy and slow.
we can't sing.
i'm not blaming you. i blame the the hands. we know too much. the stories and this atmosphere and the roots and the old poems have been subdued. i have been uninvited from a place i used to curl up of and inside and it wasn't cordial. i am telling you because you know. things move especially slow or especially fast and the story is already exhausted. it's cheap and used. it's men in bars forgetting to close the door behind them while they take a piss. it's bankrupt. even autumn is hiding. the leaves don't want to die this time, i swear, they told me and even though they begged it was all done so quietly. the tiny whimpers of leaves saying "please" and a gloomy grabbing for a season dedicated to death that somehow smells just like being very, very alive. but look what could i do? there was nothing. the air was impatient and relentless and i just stood there with the ceramic cat trying to come up with reasons not to cry.
everything was impatient, the air was fucked up, air with an amphetamine buzz. no one ever wants to be the one to decide. i was never good at being the one who decides.
regardless, it was time, and i thought we should aim for graceful. we should at least try and shoot for graceful. hey, i can do this, i said, to no one, to the ceramic cat. i promise, whatever you want, i can figure it all out. you will never grow old. it will all stay wet and cinnamon and comely and 'tangerine'. you will never not feel clean.
the things all said: prepare for newness, sweetheart. this is a change so big even the stars are watching. video cameras are propped absurdly in the giant sky, a red recording light blinking like a planet, waiting. in the end i know we have to pretend the leaves will be okay, just lets pretend we are large mountains made of bravery and for god sakes let's not ever, ever bore them. yes, bravery. and even if it's not enough, i'll keep trying. you. it's only a dance, it's only a season. just a harmless rooted letter, no spells and no deception. the ceramic cat, resting on the roots? its for good luck and it's very wonderful to hold in your hands tightly. it is soft and hard at the same time, just like love. and okay i should say, i should tell you, i lied. we did, we fucked, in my dream. but it wasn't for me to write there, with the very sad leaves watching me and the tiny cat and her car in your driveway. no, it was best like this.
"well maybe if you weren't wearing that red lip-stick it never
would have happened."
"maybe if you hadn't been born with those hands of yours."
"don't look at me like that."
"it's the same way you look at the sky when you get out of the car and slam the door shut - you're up and inside and taken away. just now those eyes look hungry like a mouth would and your hands are your eyes; observers, and your mouth is just, it's all incredible." "oh, and then you sang. softly and more slow than the original version." "you spin me right round baby right round." "yeah and i smiled. 'like a record baby..." i pictured a red, red room. i pictured all my pasts as various dingy shades of changing greys. i told you this here and now was color and you verbally replied with fervent hands. red rooms, please. always with these colors. right round, round round. "you're like my personal little fireplace." "you are like a slow moving electricity buzz, a witch of a man. what do they call that? love, do you miss your river? could i be the sea? right now, this, does that feel like a wave?" the room smelled like cinnamon and felt like roasting chestnuts. things didn't happen, they were dreamed. maybe god or a stranger or a man moments before his death desperately conjuring warm images of the most light and love he could fathom were dreaming all this up. we belonged to the collective idea of what love could possibly be, if it exists. there was a slow pattern of a tactical series of moments that were in control instead of you or i or us." "put your fingertips on my shoulders, sweet potato." i never ever needed to say yes. "i think they're warlocks." "hm?" "male witches, in christianity, they're warlocks." "no, no that sounds wrong. you're a healer, a mystery." "i am not the mystery here." you crawl on top of me, your eyes still seekers. "i said don't look at me like that." you stay right there, comely and persistent. "okay" i say, but don't, i just surf without words. on a spin-drift collision course, in circles, everywhere, everything. later on i look for the meaning of warlock. it is apparently a deragatory term for witches. it means "traitor," "deceptive." a male witch is just that, a male witch, a sorcerer of sorts. when i come back to bed you are asleep on your side, knees up and child-like. i am consumed. i sleep without dreaming.
it's been fifteen minutes. a slow and concentrated fifteen minutes. there he is, he is the one, right over there. he is sitting casually, his hat pulled down over his eyes, which i still have not seen. the hat just barely covers his whole nose, the tip jutting out like a rock on a seashore. his small daughter runs around his feet with a giant bag of cheese doodles. this he ignores. he loosely wears a pair of white-paint-splattered, ripped up and softly faded jeans. when i say he wears them, i really mean it - he's defining the word "worn" sitting there in those jeans. they know him well. his t-shirt is faded also, everything about him pretty faded, personally historical. he tips his hat up and squints at the sun and yes, okay, there are his eyes. both are the color of tree bark, wrinkles hug the outsides of them lovingly. i imagine his home life is a bit like those reality television shows, the kind on channels people flip right by, or else watch distractedly, gaping mouths half open. he's scrappy and disheveled, his beard looking somewhat thrown on. he's the sort of gentleman you just know smokes cigarettes. a lot of cigarettes. his fingernails and knuckles are railroad-track dirty, which is endearing, i think of guitar players and dirt roads. underneath his hat is a sweaty bandana, this is a man that sweats. today is saturday. i'm sitting in a car in front of the laundromat, the outside of which is lined with 70's-furniture-yellow-colored chairs where he temporarily resides. i can just barely hear him from my car, his voice a bear-growl. he strongly suggests the promise of an "ass-whoopin'" to his daughter who responds by lowering her head the tiniest bit.sitting on the chair he leans almost over himself, as if he's going to tell someone a secret, his boots perhaps; which are big and black, respectively. as i pompously assumed he might, he takes out a pack of cigarettes and examines the inside for a moment, choosing one with a careful confidence. he lights it like a cowboy, shielding the wind with his wedding-ring-less hand. we look at each other for a moment. he seems nervous, anxious about something, i think, as he takes his drags, seemingly more in thought now that he's inhaling and exhaling plumes of grey smoke. some monumental things have happened to this man. some monumental things happen to everyone. i want to tell him that it's very possible that everything is or will eventually be very okay but i know i can't, for too many reasons to even begin to think about. "shit," he says and puts his smoke out on the bottom of his boot. he takes his daughters cheese-doodled fingers in his big hand and leads her to their off-red toyota camry. i smile right before they get in and he grins back at me toothily.
the mud has involuntarily converted to velvety-soft brown water.
it is streaming like a slow dance down the road in lines. you are far
from me and it stings. each ripple that laps up is its own unit, they
look very much like tongues making out with the gravel, there's licking
and petting and love so obvious it sings. you - you won't be here for a
very long time. years even. three men with black umbrellas are crowding
around the house discussing something of obvious importance ignoring
the tiny rippling phenomenon. out of every street scene anywhere, i'm
here and i stand and look after the water like a parent watching their
kid on a carousel. i miss you. what i miss out of everything is you. i
wonder what you're wearing. i want our hands to do things. and why the matching black umbrellas? why here? "if
we don't do it now, we're done for" one man says. the freckles on my
face have turned on, bright, like someone hit their light switch on. you are
somewhere moving your body and probably that mouth, too, making sounds
and breathing in that specific way that you breathe and everything that you are
wearing is lucky because it enfolds and sips you, because i'm not made
of cloth but one can dream, i think. or that is what they say. everything about you is both wholly familiar and yet still strange, together exhaustively so, at the same exact time, you oxymoron. my cell phone rings. if we don't do it
now, we're done for.
it was august 23rd, i'd be twenty-five in four days.
these were the sounds:
helicopters, some far-away sirens,
tiny shouts of small children & not very small adults.
right, there was also "one more cup of coffee" filtering through those, as by sound - as by sound by the mind, born there. i was thinking about when we inadvertently repeated that playlist of every version of it while we made love on the living room floor.
cell phone-less, fat dark roads. just me, a grey hoodie and my bones.
all the traffic lights were lightless, left with three speechless vacant black holes.
all the stores were deadly dark except for one chinese take-out place dubbed "YUMMY ASIA" that i had never even vaguely noticed. i walked in slightly shaking. some indiscernible electronic device welcomed me in an asian accent when i pushed through the door, i stopped halfway through my second step, facing two confused asian employees. a soundless beat and then they spoke, i stood there, not understanding a word they said. it sounded like the room was shaking in my head, so i shook mine as some sort of response or explanation, bodily mimicked a half-circle and walked out. i was still inside my skin but back outside again, inside the airs icy coat, on top of the earths skin, inside of gods brains, playing all its tricks on mine, all of us were raw. i said some things out loud into the dark and i said some things more quiet and some things i didn't say at all. i could feel all the negative spaces of the loves of my life, the opposites of bodies and bark. the sky was bloodthirsty but still had a pulse.
"mom, it's kerry. the stars are falling, i'm watching them right now and they're way too close to be, to be safe or normal or okay and i can tell they're getting closer, i think this is it. i hear bells. i don't know where you are."
i live on an island made of ice. here it is so, so silent that there's a background of terrible, steady screams, a loudness only silence can master. it's not the thin layered kind of ice, thin on the top, with easy cracks and freezing water underneath, the whitish top coat that tries to be cloudless, the colors that want to be invisible. no, we're solid, all through. it has veins you know, ice does, thin and bloodless and clean. speaking though of invisible colors, our heart is around here somewhere, we're sure, see, because of all these veins. this island was born for me and i for it and i am slowly learning that this will somehow be it's own kind of okay, has to, sometime soon.
to get here, you adventurer, you must be capable of this almost impossible innate ability to exhibit underwater flight, you''ll travel like this for a leap-of-faith-type dull distance until you reach a solid, frosted surface. this is how you'll know you've found us. we might give you socks and rain boots and mittens, a simple courtesy, if we really like your voice and your hands, you might say "aw-thank-ya-so-much" and you'll smile. we'll ask you, darling, if you decide to wander could you keep your heart on the lookout for ours?! you'll close your eyes, maybe you'll nod, yeah you should definitely nod. nod, okay? so yes, it is a very large heart shaped almost like a fist. it's not cold like our ice, but void of temperature, the veins connected to the surface your boots are walking all over. when the air is very still we can hear a certain sort of secular beat-beating that leads us to believe the assumingly ghostly hand-fisted hearts scattered iced inky veins are connected to just everything, ever and that when found its veins will lead to a catacomb only a heart would crawl into.
we won't, can't, promise that you won't find anything monster-like. they tend to lurk quiet and change forms like those awful reoccurring nightmares. we don't tell you this, but as we watch the curves of your upper arms we decide that you can handle anything. we'll probably tell you stories, we're known for making up words to make any expressed literary emotion really, really emote, that there which is guiding you. and if, you observer, you ask about the truths or falses of our stories we'll watch you carefully without uttering a word. it's likely this is where novelists and the clever poets coined the phrase "icy glaze" -- here we reside and survive, its folded, ready in our sweater pockets, the gaze. it's then, love, that you should press the side of your face against us, use up all your god damn will power to deny the loud buzz of the chill breathing you in, touch here. this here, is where you could put your hands on our back, each finger poetically pressing, each tip sentimental. if you wanted you could say something quiet, anything you were not too cold to say, because dear, we can hear deeper than anything else, all the fucking way down and maybe, you beauty, you'll taste something delicious in those grey-white plumes of visible breath reaching out of your mouth, searching, that will change everything you thought you knew. especially about us. especially about islands and hearts that go AWOL. everything you thought you knew about everyone, ever. we'll detail the subjects that people much farther than the island and i tend to avoid, vehemently. because look, what doesn't an island of ice with a no-show heart not know about solitude? about strangers? derangement? nothing. our knowledge of it is endless and cold and unstoppable. you hesitate and argue with me, somehow pouting your eyes, but just try and get under or inside with just your hands, cozily mittened or just bare, and good luck, you saint.
look, you vagabond, sit down, i'll make some tea and we'll talk or hum and you could stay here always, you should even, but i don't tell you that. we can already hear our missing heart distantly calling as you sit here with us, on us, your booted feet just now adjusting to what each step on a supposedly heartless island of ice entails, but i don't tell you that either. sometimes you lose your balance and you slip fast, your arms out like airplane wings, dipping in and up against the darkest ever permanent-marker-black-sky. you laugh, i watch the corners of your lips crawl up and a smoky cloud of cold air exhale past your bumpy, gorgeous teeth. the ice has quieted. my mouth doesn't open at all while my mind is pot-belly full of all the wrong doors to ever open but you just look incredible. we think you just look god damn perfect. but heroes?! but those? even if my brain spins way smarter than that i still involuntarily pulled the hi-stranger-smile when you got here and you're still here, wearing my mittens and holding my homemade mug of chamomile tea really close to your face and even though i keep trying i can't find the word "melt" in my mental memory of my entire life so far until right now, this very second, here and on fire.
the truth is it probably started the first time i heard "let her cry" by hootie and the blowfish.
it probably started as soon as he put his cock in me and i said no and the tears started to tiptoe and then they started to run fast, but our clothes were off already and i guess that meant it was too late, it was my own fault for letting him take my shirt off, it was his own mistake for not being able to focus on the repeated no's and the crying. i remember his bed was broken and the new one was on it's way, i remember the dirty mattress on the floor. i can't remember his face then, just the weight of him and the way my hands felt pushing up on the sweaty sides of his hips, pushing off but to no avail. to no avail. the pushing. tiny arms. it was the way it felt to be under water when a wave hit you too hard and all this water found it's place in parts you needed to breathe. it was the way i cried no and said it over and over and the movements were fast and each one was like swallowing something that always made you sick, it was the way he came and after it was his quick movement upward and how he let the cum land on his belly, on the stubs of the hair he shaved off. how after i turned over, still sobbing hard, cradling myself in myself like those russian dolls, his face was like he suddenly realized a war was taking place and he had killed a soldier for the first time. it was how he cried after and i think he knew then because he said "i'm sorry" over and over, it was the way that still, despite all this, my heart broke and i pitied him, the guilt was there, somehow, like the beginning of rain. this has something to do with it, i'm guessing, with all of this now. me, twenty-three, 3:17 a.m., tired, writing poems about trying to love someone. i remember the smell of his house, even just the whisper of the memory makes me gag, the sound of his mothers voice and baseball on the television. i remember smelling how much he loved me in his sweat, mixed with his cologne, mixed with the way his hands were always grabbing and saying if you don't keep me i'll die, i remember the way he'd say it even with his mouth, because he did, he did love me, but a kind of love i still can't grasp - a kind of love that easily forgets not to suffocate, or something to that effect. this was one of those moments you realize how deep selfishness can run in the blood and how little i had of it, at the time. i remember leaving and that my shoes weren't tied, i ran out of his house, the laces slapping hard at my ankles for blocks, the tears and the makeup mixing and making the getaway obvious and cinema-worthy most likely. he chased me and caught up and he stopped when i did, in front of a pay phone i bet is still right there, he put his hands on his knees and bent over, panting, he was sorry, he said. come back. his tears were rolling but how could tears matter then? no, not then & not right now. i don't remember how i got home, maybe i walked. in my dreams i walk all over.
maybe it started after when i met you and we talked about nothing very intimate but you were incapable of causing pain and i could tell. you were a smart kid and an awkward love seeped out of your skin, showed up as the freckles i counted when you weren't looking.
it started when we were in that park on those benches, you were there but really it was "she sits alone by a lamp post, trying to find a thoughts that escaped her mind, she says dad's the one i love the most, but stipe's not far behind" i was thinking it, right then, and i was sipping my beer but faster than sipping and you loved me and i knew it. it probably started when i wanted to hide the cuts but have people see them at the same time, like writing something i know i couldn't show you, just putting on me instead. it started when we were lying on the cold laundry room floor in that house and i told you to sing to me and you asked me to what to sing and i told you "something" the beatles song, and you did. you fucking did. it all started because i thought you could save me but instead i swallowed your soul for you but then spit it out because, well because why? i still don't know. she lets me in, only tells me where she's been, when she's had too much to drink.
maybe it started in that dark purple room with one brick wall dreaming about you and waking up sweaty and sad, salty with tears, i lived in that room with words, the bed was big and for months and months it was the sticky words and me, the lack of you.
it could have started when i took my moms pills out of the cabinet, at 7am in the morning in my saint saviour uniform and took six of them, nonchalantly, truly it was- i can't remember the reason why, i just walked over opened the bottle and swallowed. my friends said "your pupils are so big" and i liked it. maybe it's the way the sound of paper sounds ripping, or the way it feels to sleep on a damp, moldy couch. the way it feels to hear music like you feel bruises, or water on your face in the shower. maybe it was being small enough to hear "a case of you" by joni mitchell and know there were things about the world i knew but would re-learn and re-learn and every time i did it would hurt, just like the song.
maybe i'm going too fast. maybe it started when that teacher called me worthless in front of all my classmates, or when i used the word "surreal" in an essay and she didn't believe i wrote it or could have known what it meant. maybe it started when i heard them fucking and cried all night with my little knees tucked up, knowing it wasn't pain but was it love? that feeling in my gut, the question sitting there, aching.
it probably started when my dad would pour bottles of wine down the sink and my mom would yell and sound like some ghost from an old movie i never saw so i let it get blurry instead. maybe it was there all along. i've always been a bit whimsical, prone to melancholy, i always was the one kissing my own knees, rollerblading super fast along the park side in the dark thinking about how good it was that my body was moving as fast as my thoughts, finally. finally things matching up.
but all of this is what they all say, it's happened before, it's probably happening right now, as i type this.
it's just the ones who know.
they know, the ones like me, how many times we ignore the itchy beginnings of our stories in our beds at 3:25 a.m at night and we all know how many times we begrudgingly sit up and actually put the pen to paper because the words always win, they're vicious creatures, words, like the god of abraham: no mercy.
went too fast is right though, so i'll tell you. not where it started and not where it ends but where it continues, with great effort and small sighs, with typing sounds and a love so big it might very well have grown so big it disappears, something that can contain so much it it becomes something else, quite small and broken into tinier pieces. i don't know, i was never good with physics.
it's amazing how little you can see when confronted with car headlights face on.
i tried to tell you, or i wanted to, which definitely isn't the same as trying, unfortunately. but by some heavenly happenstance, you existed. by some fucking grace of god you stood there next to me, our arms touching just a little.
and i swear, when you walk, the world sweats. i just, how do you tell someone that, how do you say it with your mouth?! while you can hear everything breathing around them? no, no -- for them. i couldn't, there wasn't one way. you bent in angelically and i lit your cigarette for you and went inside to order another drink. no longer interested in it, you flicked the cigarette behind you and followed me, you were humming some R.E.M. song and that was enough. that was enough for me.
"i mean, who doesn't have control issues? fucking no-one." you said, when you caught up. you leaned against the bar like a celebrity on their way to rehab, still looking outstanding. i blinked.
when i told you about the man with one completely black eye, iris and all, you told me to stay away from the devil. i sighed. "but he was the only one who would listen to my story" i said and you said nothing.
after i double clicked the folder all i saw was limbs. she was lying on your bed, waiting for you, her legs long and skinny and yours familiar, that creamy ivory. you were crawling on top of her, i could almost taste the subtle vanilla scent of you. i wanted to keep watching, i don't know why. maybe i'm a pervert, or masochistic, crazy. her in the video on bed, you on top of her, me in the chair; watching, you next to me, we all knew you were going to fuck her, it was only the times that were confused. you fumbled and closed the video quick, in it there was a hunt and you were the hunter. you didn't want me to see this. i wondered how she tasted.
i remember the periwinkle eyes and her voice singing that beatles song. i remember thinking we must be melting, thinking this is what it's like to be inside of inside. i smelled like you when i got home and i held on to all of this in my head like a band-aid that tries to slip off that you press, remind it that it's sticky and has things to do.
words is what now.
a copy of a copy of a copy, they say.
the alarm goes off, 11:00 am. feeling heavy and dark clouded, moving like a whisper.
socks, no socks, throws socks, fall into the car, fall into sleep, half-sleep, begs sleep. the day moves even with no watch on, even with your eyes closed it began just like that.
we walked in and had to wait a long time in the waiting room but i laid on my mothers lap and tried to sleep, i was definitely inhabiting some sort of cloud, some thick haze, i waited until they called me in the back and asked me some questions, questions like "are you sure of your decision today?" and "what medications are you on" the doctor and the nurse, yes the nurse had to be there, i remembered it was something to do with sexual harassment laws, and they ran some tests then they took me in another room and gave me a juice box and these pills to hold inside my cheeks for thirty minutes to soften my cervix but i wanted to take something good and strong, real. i wanted drugs, i wanted white light in the brain and warm blue in the body. i thought they would give me something to relax but they didn't i sat there for this thirty minutes i tried not to think of anything. the juice box was apple and eve, what my mom used to buy when i was little. the doctor came in, i thought of everything, i took off my pants and underwear and sat on the bed with my feet up in the stirrups the doctor kept needing me to inch closer, he kept saying "scoot" the end of my back almost off the bed the machine was next to me with three clear tubes coming out of it.
when i laid down it started to rain really, really hard, a thunder storm was starting the sky got all dark the doctor said there were hurricane warnings, hard thunder rolled and rocked, i said "typical" my mom sat on a stool next to me and positioned my head so it was in her arms and i put my little white headphones in my ear, hard and the doctor was a very kind old man and he looked at me in the eyes but i wouldn't look back and he talked to me but i couldn't hear him, nothing he said made sense, it was another language, i was sure of it. my mom was trying to help me breathe properly but i couldn't, my insides were greedy for the air, the air was so stubborn and my lungs were the smallest thing in the room, the doctor opened me up with an instrument and gave me a needle on both sides of the inside of my cervix to numb it and i started to cry, "road to joy" came on the ipod and i worked real hard to concentrate on conor obersts' voice and it worked, his voice was hard and juicy at the same time but the doctor turned on the vacuum and i could hear that, too and he put a tube far in me and i could feel it rubbing against my insides and he was talking but it sounded really far away and i told my mom i couldn't hear him she said can you hear anything?
i said yes and she put her hands real hard on my ears and came really close i felt bad i didn't give her a headphone she didn't want to hear the vacuum either but i couldn't i couldn't and then it started to suck and move around and it hurt so bad, like slicing up, and i could feel it when it was a big piece and when it was blood and liquid and when the pieces went i cried so hard and i thought about you a lot and baby hair and baby heads and boys or girls and i could hear the pieces bumping in the tube and the thunder was really loud and i knew, and i let it happen and i let it come in me until i knew i couldn't, i heard the biggest piece then i skipped every song until i heard conor again and he said "reinvent the wheel" and when i heard "so i hope to see you soon, in some other form" i kept thinking it. i didn't want to cry in front of everyone, i tried not to and a lot stayed in my throat and i kept wondering if it thundered because the baby was important and i was thinking about its hands and i could not stop crying and it was a long time it felt like a long time my mom cried too we both had our heads together and she was whispering things but i didn't know what and it didn't matter and re:stacks started, tiptoed in and i was shaking all over and i thought how many songs did i skip over? those four that i heard? how long is that how many minutes has it been? i didn't know, years maybe.
the doctor said it was over, i thought how many of these has he done today, there has to still be sadness somewhere in this room, they all stood around, everyone knew it was done and i pulled my head phones out and my whole body was shaking and i couldn't feel my lips, not even a little, and my hands were cold and my mom tried to hold my body still but something else was stronger than her and it wanted me to shake and the nurse said it was okay but not to stand up yet and i got a shot in my arm and i lied there and made attempts at breathing and keeping in the crying and after awhile i stood up and everything felt different everything feels different and everything hurts . i've been asleep since i got home. these words are all that will ever exist of that, spirit. is this allowed to be written?