Tag: prose

I’m Here For The Music Tonight

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I’m here for the music tonight. Mine, yours, his, hers, theirs; the sound of the dark encroaching on the boundaries of light, the sound of people hitting the floor with fiddles flying, the sound of guitars resurrecting Spanish ghosts. I’m here for all the music.

I’m terrified of silence. Not the silence between myself and the empty room I’m in. I’m terrified of the silence between uneasy people, the silence that squats down on a street with thunder clouds that never break, the silence whose cold breath rushes across my skin without stirring a single hair or locust or ghost.

The silence that lets all the other voices in.

I’m here for the slow song blossoming into morning with the plaintive cry of the grieving dove shifting above us all, remembering before we do the lost notes of our sacred instruments abandoned for brief disillusioned passion.

I’m the grieving dove. I’m the bow of the fiddle. I’m the instrument shed to the ground in exchange for ephemeral passion whose cut-lawn fragrance fades before you can wrap it in your silk veil of prayerful propositions. I’m never sure the grieving is worth the life of the song. Never sure the grieving is worth anything.

I’m the muscle that takes you in and pushes you out of love. I feed you oxygen and blood and at the end of the day I would bleed you out if I could because you never appreciate the small gesture, the small proofs, the boutonniere of passion. You unwrap everything like the cheap chocolate you crave but hate because it makes you sick, because it never tastes quite big enough for you. Because it’s never quite sweet enough for you. Because it never satiates your false hunger.

I’m here for the music.

I am the music.

 

None of the Pieces Match

killer van

I wish everything in life could be reduced to an equation that ends in fruit pie.

Instead, I orchestrate my life carefully to resemble an easy jig-saw puzzle confusing everyone who approaches my board so they never discover that none of the pieces match and most of them are bruised anyway.

I’m the first carnivorous plant that feeds on its own flesh.

I’m the first moth killed by the shadow of its own wings.

I gave all my secrets to a bay tree when I was a kid. I gave it all my tears and shudders of shock. I shouted my nightmares into its leaves, slick with rain, reflecting the last light of my soul. Storms were born in that canopy of sharp herbaceous scented leaves. Storms railed and burnt out in its branches.

Sometimes I think that’s where I left myself.

I wonder if the course of my life would be perverted if that tree were ever cut down.

Full of Emptiness and Thorn

all in the eye

Maybe it’s time to stop writing myself grim lullabies about graves and soft warm webs of earth that suck me down into the heart of everything where I suffocate kindly with the brevity of winter twilight. Breath frozen across lakes of cold fire will become pebbles in your shoes, slowing your steps until you stop and look behind you at the ghost dogging your every step. All you’ll see is the veil of frost my shadow has become. All you’ll see is the bluing of your ragged memory. Time is kinder than you know.

Maybe it’s time to stop writing myself grim lullabies about the graves I’ve dug to bury myself in, lost in blind thickets of brambles where only the wasps dare visit. Under cover of damp leaves, fresh with soft rain, my bones shift restlessly, clattering against each other like new life impatient to breathe in the first dawn. Impatient to taste dappled light and sour fruit and all the other young things. My bones rustling in their nest of soil, rock, and petal attracts the keen hunter threading through the woods. Nothing here, nothing here, I whisper just above the serrated edge of the leaves that hide me. Move along, move along, move along thirsty hunter! My bones are dry as your parched mouth and full of emptiness and thorn.

Maybe it’s time to stop writing myself grim lullabies about the graves at the edge of town where all the homeless people huddle for warmth in the cardboard city built of acrid sweat and torn shoes. Their roofs of thin branches and icicle daggers are nothing more than spider lairs hung between their thin blankets and the feelingless stars. Even when I try to hold their heads in my marrow lap they can’t feel these dead hands. Can’t feel anything but the chill of my heart spread across the winter grass fields in hoarfrost.

Ain’t No Melon Cool Enough

straw bubbles

Sometimes I’m swimming in a lake of moulting snakes and I feel the turbid water thickening around my ankles, pulling me down. Pulling me into the deep. Pulling me into this turbulent body that’s meant to be glassy and clean, that’s meant to be a mirror. Been feeling closer to my childhood name. Been feeling closer to my natal temperament, my hot red-faced rage at things that don’t work the way they should. Remembering the water that terrified me, remembering all that outrage, held down in such small ribs with such sharp nails.

Ain’t no melon cool enough to fix this bruise. Ain’t no space safe enough to fix this bruise. Doesn’t smart now, in this late-life hour, it’s just the grave I throw my rosemary over.  Grassy and cold, ain’t no cradle big enough to make this spirit rise again.

The moment to become anything is every moment. Doesn’t have to have trumpets to announce it, doesn’t need a royal carpet to invite you to walk to the light, or to the dark, whatever calls the loudest. Doesn’t have to come with the odor of sandalwood and roses to pull you forward. Just needs your heart still attached to your arteries, just needs your sinew still holding everything together in a piece that can give voice to the moon, to the sun, to the ghost pines weeping through city alleys.

Ain’t no song rich enough to fix this break. Ain’t no basement deep enough to hide this break. Doesn’t smart now, in this late-life hour, it’s just the grave I throw my cards across. Ain’t no cradle big enough to make this spirit rise again.

 

There Isn’t Enough Rope For This

Petaluma alley

This dirty corner crusts with regret faster than you can count cost. Nightmares rise into morning like train whistles killing time. Jump cars like a punk and find your bones breaking under the weight of emptiness, the feral smell of skin gone rogue. Whiskey mornings blazing through your blood like newspaper clippings drunk on all the sick, wait for it. Every time. You thought it would be easier than this, that the siren call would sound more like love and look more like joy.

It’s all been recorded on the freeway of your emancipation, the asphalt, the better Roman roads. The blue silk Cheongsam Ms. Rose gave you, the one that seduced you like the math she said could calculate and translate your curves. A thousand cigarettes couldn’t erase her influence on your mind. Took years to unbury what she built in you but it paid off like a lottery of love.

All these small ladders, the tie shop, the passionate crush, the eloquent silences, the concession to friendship with the man, dead this year, who broke up with you for fear of breaking your unbreakable heart. You laughed at his arrogance, you knew yourself to  be harder than he could possibly know because your face wears your hope rather than your experience and knowledge. Twenty years later and nothing has changed.

Can still smell the clove cigarettes and hot coffee. The shelves you put these things on are weak. The light snakes and the memories shake like blancmange. Predators circle and you smell them first so they can’t net you into their game. You’ve dished them the rope they needed to hang themselves and there’s no regret. No looking back at what you might have done if no one had forced your hand.

It’s always come down to this.

Everything I know to be right is sideways.

There isn’t enough rope for this.

The Upward Thrust of Death

the upward angle of death

The upward thrust of death is something I’ve spent more hours thinking about than the average mortal. If you’re looking for proof of the irrationality of the death obsessed – consider my simultaneous belief that I would be dead by the age of 30 and the need for silverware to eat food with, a concern that obsessed me when I was 15 years old and planning to leave home.

I’m not in the habit of making promises I know I can’t keep. I’m not in the habit of counting seeds before storms. I’m not in the habit of counting bets before the race is over. Not in the habit of dying before I’ve had a chance to count my appointments with ghosts.

All my life I’ve been looking for my whole tribe and it’s taken stiff education to recognize them, to be brave enough to hail them, to understand that they’re always going to be different in unfathomable ways but be the same in all the ways that engender love, laughter, deep hell cleansing, and complete love. I’m so lucky to have, at this point in my life, gathered so many bright lights around me, tethered by alliances that can’t be denied or diminished. Peers, older generations, and the permeable beautiful youth that needs old hags like me to light the way to the non-partisan table of appetites and passions.

I keep wondering if I’m going to die before I do the thing I was born to do. This goes expressly against everything I believe which is:

1. We die exactly when we’re meant to die, you can’t die when you’re not meant to die.

2. Whatever it is you need to accomplish on this earth, in this life, is immaterial.

3. The only thing that matters is what you did while you had the chance.

I’ve spent so much time in the last two days cleaning up my office and throwing things out. Culling my junk. Sweeping out the dust and shittiest shit ever to hit the shit shelves. Sullied papers, blank letters, torn bits of self esteem, everything that reminds me of everything else except for the stuff that reminds me of the things I can’t bear to forget.

Been burrowing for too long not to know when I’ve hit the underground ocean, the sea-wall of underwater limitations, the line across which I have to swear and dance and tap and kick because I refuse to be held back yet again, silenced, led, and sold.

Good luck with this flesh.

 

The Last Possible Egress

golden grasses

It isn’t lip service, this scorch in my bones, this fire in the head. It isn’t lip service, the heat that makes the ground crumble and the sand sink. I pick out faces in the dark and I can see into souls like they’re lit up with Christmas lights in the middle of the vast desert. I will follow the light into the darkest caves, the worst streets, into the human dumps where children scramble for the crusts of cardboard sandwiches. I will follow the light where it sucks itself up in a tossup between nirvana and complete annihilation. I will follow the light through the scrapheap where it is crushed and compressed, cracked and shaped, melted and fused without the chemicals of care or proper grieving. I will follow.

If the drums shake my skin off my spirit, will they shake the truth loose too?

I will follow the words until they lead me home. I will follow them until they gut the past, skin the present, and bone the future. When you hang in flanks on the laundry line dripping with vague sorrow like sorry rain that stops every two seconds wondering about its purpose, its worth, its place in all the grasses and plants of the universe and you stretch out towards the parched ground and feel it sucking your will to live away, that’s the moment you seize everything.The moment you realize that you have the power of the rain, the power of thirst, the power to satiate passions and put out fires. The moment before the moment it’s too late. The last possible egress.

Don’t walk outside where the blistering of your skin is the aria everyone has come to watch from the standing room gallery only. Don’t take down the lights or put the dishes away. Don’t look at the moon or tell the hour under your curdling breath. Strike the watch from your wrist. Cut the neck of the snake. Cut the umbilical cord and you cut the source of all light.

Egress is differentiation. Egress is the great tunnel to freedom pocked in the dark with collapse and the will to drill through the bedrock. Egress is everywhere you’re not looking for it. It’s where the best love holds you high but sees your darkest thoughts, loves you anyway. Egress is mining expectation with dynamite.

You have tried to find your way, your path, and you’ve been dreaming over the graves of the lost, the dead, the unvanquished. Tap shoes from the Good Will that don’t fit right, a pinch that introduces awkward rhythms to your dance attempts, they pronounced you ridiculous before you discovered the last possible egress.

The last possible egress will rise while you’re dreaming of doors, entrances,  beginnings.

You always choose, even when you don’t think you’re choosing.

The last possible egress is narrowing every minute you tell yourself you don’t matter, kick your dirty heart into the gutter, trash yourself beyond recognition.

It waits.

Tonight, it waits.

 

 

 

The Dark Holes Listen

dumpster in Petaluma

Mapping out the original fiction. Taking hold of the ship mast because I’m the only one left who understands the wind. My compass is running on the fuel of my barefoot nightmares. It’s running on the exhaust of spent mornings and archived broken transportation routes. The money’s there if you can find it.

You won’t find it.

I’ll always be standing here watching Ava’s house burn down with the creepy doll in the attic melting into the woodwork and her kids looking up from the pavement with the same wide eyes. We played next to each other without words. I’ll always be pushing my baby sister across an endless tundra of fear and hot asphalt. Six years old and aware of the porn magazines ditched in the bushes I pushed my infant sister past. Shadows I’d crawled into clandestinely with other children to flip pages with penises we’d already seen, vaginas we’d all caught in the corner of our eyes.

Some of us had caught them in other dark holes and corners no one ever talked about, that we knew weren’t right. The broken toys always know they’re broken, you don’t have to shout about it.

Is It Enough That I Came Back?

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The boat had torches, and I lit the the soaked cloth with convenient flame and floated on water clogged with movie images I was living, but not living. I came back. I came back too late to catch the end of the short French film. Was it worth it? Was it everything to find the broken treasures on the stairs to nowhere only to have to come back to earth for floods and lunch meat? There were pathways to the water and secret stairwells from which I could see the world and its end unfold. We celebrated what was left of the minutes, the wet waves, the light filtering through the rustling leaves, until we almost walked across the miles together. There were invisible hands that held us aloft when the air sunk and the water rose too high, we rose with it and watched the other boats drift with flickering lanterns into a blurry imagined horizon.

You saw Paris ahead of us and I saw swamp sucking the light down into mud whorls. People mired on the banks, looking for beacons reminds me of tailored wool coats and whiskey. Of fragile winters and atomic bombs, banks littered with bones. I touch your cheek, just as I always do, to make you look at yourself through me, and you see the struggle as though it’s new. You see yourself through this hazel light bristling with the dark of the shredded edges of the world. The place everything stops, the boats drift nowhere, the cups are empty, the torches dim to useless moth-blind pools of memory.

Then there’s this peal of life that rings down on the silence so loud I mistake it for death, this sorrow of mine screams so loud and grabs me by the spleen until I’m bleeding out in my sleep. Just another night of bleeding out in my sleep.

I can’t care about sex when there is this breath leaning into me, this weight spreading through my muscle, this anvil cutting across my thoughts not unlike the swath of retribution, of punishment for things I was never ashamed of but think back on now with the pitchfork raised against the slightest hint of everything you revile. But it’s only for you. Without you I live innocent, I live blamelessly when there isn’t you to answer to. When you aren’t the horizon rising with the water to swallow every slight deviation of light.

I am the boat, I am the torch, I am the choked river.

There Isn’t Enough Rope for This

Petaluma alley

This dirty corner crusts with regret faster than you can count cost. Nightmares rise into morning like train whistles killing time. Jump cars like a punk and find your bones breaking under the weight of emptiness, the feral smell of skin gone rogue. Whiskey mornings blazing through your blood like newspaper clippings drunk on all the sick, wait for it. Every time. You thought it would be easier than this, that the siren call would sound more like love and look more like joy.

It’s all been recorded on the freeway of your emancipation, the asphalt, the better Roman roads. The blue silk Cheongsam Ms. Rose gave you, the one that seduced you like the math she said could calculate and translate your curves. A thousand cigarettes couldn’t erase her influence on your mind. Took years to unbury what she built in you but it paid off like a lottery of love.

All these small ladders, the tie shop, the passionate crush, the eloquent silences, the concession to friendship with the man, dead this year, who broke up with you for fear of breaking your unbreakable heart. You laughed at his arrogance, you knew yourself to  be harder than he could possibly know because your face wears your hope rather than your experience and knowledge. Twenty years later and nothing has changed.

Can still smell the clove cigarettes and hot coffee. The shelves you put these things on are weak. The light snakes and the memories shake like blancmange. Predators circle and you smell them first so they can’t net you into their game. You’ve dished them the rope they needed to hang themselves and there’s no regret. No looking back at what you might have done if no one had forced your hand.

It’s always come down to this.

Everything I know to be right is sideways.

There isn’t enough rope for this.