On the Amtrak I break off from myself and slide down on the slippy slope of my tongue, keep going in the tube so like a luge all the way down, hang a left, hooking my thumbs in my pant loops making myself small smaller smallest so I don’t get stuck in any of the sticky and the big I is keeping time and I love to feel the way we rise, we rumble and now it’s getting pretty cold so I know we are arriving at the place and littlest I puts on a parka, big puffy thing which this whole time was smooshed under an arm because there’s only so much I’m signing up to withstand and now I’m only about a mile away and it’s so cold icicles are growing from my hair all the way down to my ankles and I break off a piece to use as a walking stick and then I think why not, and break off another piece and now I’m cross country skiing to the place, parka on, ice-skis in hand, skates slung over my shoulder and I get to the place which is so cold as to be painful but safe because it is frozen fathoms over. I throw the skis away and lace up. It is sometimes nice to skate in this old familiar place, a kind of freedom, a treat in a way, to indulge in this old pain of being without you where we left off
It has occurred to me that if something were to happen to you, I would no longer be able to move. I can see it like in a comic book strip. Each second would stretch, sketched into a long inky strand of something trying to pull me away from the last moment you knew me, but I’m trusting the artist to use graphite or something heavy in their hand to draw me in grief. A shadow behind me so dark, so void, I can carry it with me, anchoring me to our togetherness. Because what if I was able to walk away with slow heavy footsteps, getting lighter each day. What if I succumbed to time and its ravaging inability to not change, what if I let myself do things that you would have loved or hated or been proud of or had feelings about that I could never guess because I would not be there to show you and you would not be there to tell me. Maybe Jesus did not ask for the stone to be rolled away. Maybe the stone that is known is the safe place and if the artist is to do an honest portrayal of the stone in the way I would like, the pen would need to tear through the paper, create a gash, keep going, carving down through the desk and its many drawers, gouge the tile and dig for the deepest blackest earth to even find a shade that would accurately depict the contrast, the relief, the sharpness I would need for my grief.
That reminds me, maybe what I fucking hate about memory the most is that it’s immovable where as you are always changing
Great big hands cracked and caked in excrementsunk so low in your seat, neck weighed down with the noose you see
instead of the world
hanging empty around you
I’m surprised when your face lifts for a moment
and under the hat, a young face
You have all your clothes on, all your things with you
All the baggage of America
And none of the belongings
A watch, old plastic band hangs
on your wrist, stopped
I wonder if it still runs
is it for After. Homelessness.
or from Before
I don’t know how far back
you’d have to go
in your hands, a precious tube
almost used up icy hot
you wake up occasionally
and smear it somewhere
under the many layers
grooving to a silent pleasure
the pleasure of pleasure at all
I want to tell you
and I don’t want to tell you
it’s just menthol
but not healing you
that even your relief is counterfeit
You came all this way
made it through every fire
unsinged, maybe singing.
The heat of capture, hot ships pitching,
whatever you used to be,
whoever you were
forget it all
you’re the thing* we need you to be
*slave animal beast con burden on society
let the new shame spread
riffing on an old flame
Only in slavery
are we leading innovators
ahead of a time
we are forever behind
if you have to be free
we can make sure you aren’t happy
I saw you sitting on the steps today. Huddled in rags in this 26 degree F like a teen tourist at Times Square who just wants to look cute in the pictures I don’t give a fuck if I’m cold. Your eyes were rolling in the back of your head and you were mumbling to yourself. Your large beautiful hands caked in dust held a pen and I saw the beginning of the letter you were writing. Dear Lance. I won’t write the rest here. But it was the letter of a man who knew he didn’t have much longer written with the spelling and penmanship of someone who wasn’t given a chance at life.
I allowed myself one moment of really feeling for you, without any cynicism or blame or maudlin thought, and then I walked on with the rest of the horde of people living their lives in smart heels with their little dogs who have always eaten better and been loved better than you.
The shades are drawn, lights off
The granitic waters are still and deep
the first breath is drawn, relents
gathering from unfathomable depths only to break again, contentment,
the first sigh
He gathers and beckons suspended dust particles
And far away,
the first innocent lapping of a wave
In my exhale, I gently push them away
She is ready to begin
On land they begin to stir too
everywhere with hesitation, even agitation
the flowers uncontrollably give way to sudden bloom.
the regret of blooming too soon
a pristine bare arm falling over the side of the bed.
everything sighing, aching, mourning
Sudden grip of the deadnight questions
the last aborted ghost
strange beauty of barrenness
desire to bloom, desperate to believe
The blackbirds with their beady eyes begin to unruffle their rough plumes.
Conversing quietly with each other, they flick their eyelids in distrust; toss their heads in yarak
he couldn’t love you, who could love you?
Reason in her dark-honeyed voice coos, reassuring them, pets their hard angular feathers
but even she is skeptical
Now the shy flowers are silently unfurling, still careful.
is now the right time? do I look okay?
Are you sure he’s coming?
the blackbirds and flowers lament, with poor blank melodies, plaintive in despair
the slumbering birds of paradise awaken
slowly arch their long necks and shake their tresses
The blackbirds scurry, nonchalance a mask on their faces
I carefully walk my fingers on the heat radiating from your skin.
how much I want to wake you!
caught! lovingly exasperated, held, and he abandons for dreams
serving as diversion for the
The waves now worried, rush up on their haunches only to dissolve as quickly as they started.
Frothy white remnants cling like desperate limbs to the shore.
The waves asking resounding pleading demanding…won’t he come?
And the same thing is happening in the city too…
The city is gray concrete
the distant mewling of a lonely being,
faint echo and hollow imprints of a phantom pair of heels
and a light gold haze starts to perfume the sky
And the whole city is anticipation! Frenzied anticipation! Waiting for what is to come.
In between deafening roars and hushed in-betweens of their infinite repetition, suddenly, there! There it is!! The first sighting of that curious pale yellow substance
In our dusty apartment, consciousness aroused
But will it grow? Will he yet come?
The waves now grow obstinate. Almost cruel.
The world waits defiantly and proudly, beating wildly…now believing without question.
And now the world is growing richer.
Blacker, deeper, and oh yes, sweeter… odd things are taking shape, becoming solid… gaining purpose.
ah! we cry! the ascension! the waves are tumbling, wild ecstatic frolic in their milk and honey foam.
and in our repose, the hollows of our cheeks are being filled with rivets, streams of sun. the dips and arcs in our bodies scooping, collecting, greedily possessing the light wending its way insidiously through the shades, prying its way into the room.
and the whole room is gold enchantment and dizzying gilded atom orbs.
The light is seeping, trickling, finding it’s way into every corner, running towards every once-darkness and illuminating truth, wild joyful and free. This precise moment of alighting this torch divined. And all those men gasping under this weight, muscles rippling under the enormous burden of this sun and everywhere the world is singing in strange high pitches and primitive hoarse groans. all the rest of the flowers burst open now crying at last! at last! we’ve been storing this beauty, this treasure all night for you! and the people gazing dreamily out of their windows, walking triumphantly in their cities…and us too, in our bed, breathless, we chant at last! Yes, at last!
As the world completes another revolution, as we complete our revolutions
I remember those nights in a series of gestures. My hands, running through the pieces, running through my hair, gripping leather at that gay club with saddles, flipping through the books I bought to find myself, in her hands as she read the lines written there, throwing paper at the girls shaking in ecstatic technicolor blur. They were loose nights that stretched into morning and I danced with mania, trying to outpace the thoughts that come with stillness. I loved the dark of the clubs, the red and rainbow lights distorting me, my hair a long cage over my face, unpermitting. I loved the beautiful girls, with faces and bodies so fantastic, I could relax, my female obligation to be beautiful so fulfilled by others. I want to call you sometimes, like I did from that house. In a room with a smell so full of incense I felt it press down on me when I was asleep. The heavy floral scent a long tissue that slowly entered my nostrils and kept filling me. Outside of my room, there was a picture of a man kneeled before Jesus. It was a baptism, but I misunderstood, I thought the follower was like me, believing in a man and getting on my knees, giving everything, receiving nothing. If I called you now, I would tell you that I wasn’t a girl then. You were mistaken. I was broken fragments tied together and hung by string. My beauty was just reflection and my songs were incidental, hollow sounds formed by the shattered parts of my self rubbing together. I couldn’t look at you then because your eyes had such a density and focus to them. I knew that if I met your gaze, I would be fixed in place and I would slow down.
My love for you happened to me the way that someone can be driving alone in the dark for a long time and far off in the distance there is another car and it is approaching at a moderately fast speed and suddenly the glare of your headlights was all I could see, a light that blinded me to all else and I knew that if I kept looking, I would change direction, crash, fall apart, and I just didn’t have time for any of those things so I kept on driving
Everyday she brushed and she brushed, the salty tangle and mass heavy with sand and grit. She trudged through the muck, finding plastic cartons and sodapop tabs and even a whole piano once. She watched it sink, the water pressure causing keys to be pressed, composing certain chords and then others. The proportions of the instrument made even less sense underwater, stolid curvaceous middle, stubbed legs. The light refracted off the strings inside pinging light in myriad directions. It landed gently and there it was, the most exclusive concert hall, an audience of kelp. Occasionally, a fish would dart too quickly and sound a note, more of a muck than a pitch. Each day, she lost her beautiful hair ornaments, the shiny eels and the lugubrious whales getting netted, stuck, torn off her head. But still, she brushed and brushed everyday, her long web of hair that wove around the world, untangling the plastic cartons and sodapop tabs, and there was no one to help her.
There is a moment in Kafka’s Trial where the main character opens the door to a room where he witnessed atrocities the day before.
Typically in the horror genre, the twist would be that there are no signs of what occurred the day before, only silence and darkness.
Instead, he finds that the atrocities are still only going on. He is not crazy, the world is crazy.
I remember how excited I was going to Hazel, which I thought for sure was haunted for the first time. Staying hours in the cafeteria, never having seen so much food, gorging myself on excess of every kind, not knowing there existed such things as mistakes or pain. That I could be a recipient of pain, a maker of mistakes, and most surprising of all, be someone who causes immense pain were things I hadn’t learned yet. Being so ready to leave, biding my time in hopelessness on the couch while you slept in the room. I will walk to the campus bookstore which I thought of as my Tiffany’s. I will breathe the dusty air in Harkness where I was solidified in her class. I will walk by 205, that hallowed space where I spent so much time, reading Kundera on the floor, practicing, loving music, honestly just wasting time, because I was just a kid, I had so much of it then. I will go to my favorite room where I would watch the sun rise on the walls at 7:15 when the school opened. Or I would watch it in Hazel in the upper corner, listening to the heater, reading everything is illuminated in the resplendent light during practice breaks. The first difficult and complex female friendships of my life, best friends today. My beautiful friend who loved to read. I can see her pea coat and her gloves and scarf and her hazel eyes. The first love, the first pain, the deep love, the secret passageway, that one moment I’ll try to express the rest of my life, losing my shit in the food co-op when I first realized that losing someone is something you experience over and over again every time you do something without them for the first time. I’ll walk by my old homes. The home I shared with girls across from the hall from my best friend. Chasing the sunlight in a car. The studio where I would pray on my knees alone in the night, and leave at 3 am to wander the streets because I didn’t care what happened to me. The studio where I quietly put my finger around the idea of being free. And the music, all the music I loved alone in the library, all the texts I read and studied and listened to. All the people who taught me, and played with me, and made me. All the magic of sound which, like every moment in life, happens only once and dissipates.
I have so much sadness when I think of my time there, and I think it’s because the door has been closed for the last 6 years. I’m about to open it.
Back to the darkness, to the sleeplessness, a return to the baby-faced snail in the hollowed ground, unctuous, bumping into roots and rhizomes, antennae yearning, moving forward over ground, slowly leaving itself behind, a dying phosphorescence, dial on a light dimmer, drenched dirt granules clinging to the sodden veil of slime and the emptiness it carries a safety to crawl inside, to collect and distill, gather itself in monolithic sadness