Sunday, June 29, 2014

"These, our bodies, possessed by light..."

Title by Richard Siken. Written the night of, posted late due to lack of internet.

You bring in the summer solstice in style without even trying.

Every time you go into the middle of the woods and your lovers make you shout, you leave another piece of yourself in the bark of the trees. When you're shaking and cold and exhausted, and the girl with the waterfall laugh is screaming and you don't know why, you feel like you are a superhero and then like you're an earthquake. You shake like cottonwood leaves without the shimmer to redeem you and the boy with the lakefront smile sits with you as you cry and cry and cry. He tells you to sleep and you tell him no. He tells you to sleep and suddenly you are burrowed against his chest, drifting in an out. I'm sorry, you try to tell him every time you break the surface of awake-asleep-awake. I'm sorry.

Shh, he says. You're okay. Sleep. Maybe I'll sleep, too.

You are sleeping in fits and starts, sitting up and hiding in his heat. When the sun is finally up and the trees don't look like Disney villains anymore, he brings you back to bed, such as it is. You curl close to him and revel in the scent of his skin. His arms around you feel much like home, and you wonder if it's because your roots and his have grown I the same place. You wonder if they are tangling. You wonder what that means.

In the morning, the man with the ember heart leaves before the rest of you are awake. You wake up just long enough to feel a pang of wishful thinking. You want him to stay, to touch him in the early morning light, to watch the sparks in his wide green eyes. You mutter a sleepy goodmorninggoodbye and move closer to the boy with the lakefront smile.

You all wake up later than planned, and you fuck the boy with the lakefront smile as the girl with the waterfall laugh has another cigarette. There are moments as he fills you that his face lights up and you think again, as you always do when confronted with his smile, of bright golden sunlight; of midsummer breeze; of a perfect moment cast in glass, a cottonwood puff caught in resin.

You wonder what he thinks of when he looks at you. You wonder if it matters. You wonder why everything needs to matter or to not, but no answer comes to you.

Later, when you find out you are bleeding, you are not surprised. They have entered you and something has shifted, as it always does. As you slept against old logs and cold dirt and the boy with the lakefront smile's chest, something broke, just like it always does. Your blood does not surprise you.

You have been hemorrhaging emotions for years.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lessons from a Godfather

Or, Does This Change Anything At All?

You step out to have a cigarette and the grass looks like AstroTurf and the moth hitting the porch light is big enough to be an alien. You have the refrain to "Killer Queen" playing through your head and could anything be dumber? You don't even like Queen, have maybe heard the full song twice in your life, but there it is on your internal speakers like a drunken college party sing-along that can't hit all the notes. It's 12:30 in the morning and no one is around to tell you not to have another cigarette, and so you do, casting around your head for real and finding only fragments of a dream you had where the basement lighting was Tungsten yellow on wood-paneled walls and the carpeting was soft green shag. There is soap on your hands but you can't feel the water from the faucet.

I have to finish that conversation, you think to yourself, unable to remember what the conversation was or why it would be so important to dive feet-first into dreamland to speak to someone you've never actually met. You search for real and think of sparklers on a campus lawn in Vermont where you have never been. You try again and there are scenes from a vast and towering skyscraper you know you have been to in your sleep. You can hear the murmur of the crowd but you can't feel them pushing their way past you.

Your boyfriend is here, a blinking name on the other side of a computer screen, and you think he's real but you can't see his face. It's getting scrambled with an orange bedroom and laser lights on apartment walls and all the times when between sundown and sunrise stretched on forever. You remember the first time you stayed up until dawn and it felt like a great illusion had been ruined, and all that blank expanse of night-time was really just hours ticking away on a clock, just like always.

You are elbow-deep in deja vu and just writing that down drags you under some more. Black type like small cracks in cement aligns in blocks as if prophesied to be this way half a dozen times before and you're wondering if you're writing this all down or just scrubbing away the blank space to find the words where they always were.

You see time like a glowstick, all lit up at once, filled with bubbles and phosphorescence, and you are in three apartments, a townhouse bedroom, and a picnic table all at once. There are voices around you but you can’t place them, and you are about to get up to do something important but you can’t remember what it is. You turn to the person next to you to ask them but their face is angled away and all you can do is think of the outline of their profile in the artificial light.

You’re in bed and you can’t quite remember if you were about to get up for a smoke or if you just came back inside. You look for real and find the first night you took a hit from a bowl and spent twenty minutes touching the pole of a swingset, convinced at once that you would feel it and you wouldn't, and being proven wrong twice. You find yourself in memory, slipping a yellow Bic lighter into an older man’s pocket, and for the first time you find something to grab on to. Time slips.

You are sitting with this man on a bench and he’s telling you something. You’re either crying or trying not to, and you’re sure you’re answering but you have no idea what you’re saying, but when you look for real you find yourself on the bench.

Does what you feel match what happened? he’s asking. Think about it. Does this feeling change the way the world just worked? Are you upset because of what happened, or because of something you thought was happening?

For the first time on that bench someone is asking you, real or not real? and for the first time out loud you have to answer not real, and it is something of a relief.

It is 1:30 am, and the grass still looks like AstroTurf, but you are forgetting the words to “Killer Queen” and you are quite convinced, face or not, that your boyfriend is real--so is the presentation he hasn't finished tweaking yet. Somewhere there is probably a basement with paneled walls and Tungsten lighting, but you have never been there. Somewhere there is a bench where you sat with a man who lent you a yellow lighter and made you see a moment as it was.

Real or not, the rest of the world goes on, insistent of its existence.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The kindest hands leave the darkest marks.

Trigger warning for mention of death and suicide.
The internet suggested I watch Michael Lee's "Pass On" tonight and I almost clicked it. I hovered over the small and unassuming thumbnail with every intent of watching it, and probably crying.

I didn't.

Instead I spent half an hour replaying our first kiss over and over in my head like somehow if I thought about it long enough, it would make me smile.

Instead it just made me think of how when I kissed you, the chair rocked back, and how three months later it was that chair you sat in while you cried and told me you had left me alone in the cabin two hours ago to kill yourself and the only thing that brought you back was that you'd forgotten to feed the dog, and you weren't sure that I would remember.

There are nights when cold air makes me think of you and I, and the edge of a lake that couldn't quite stop being frozen. I think of the stars and the window of your truck rolled down and how somehow you made an extra six weeks in a frigid wasteland seem like a vacation.

And then there are nights when I can't sleep and I do almost nothing but think of all the nights you couldn't sleep and all the cigarettes we smoked, and all the ones we wanted too but couldn't because we were too damn broke to buy bread. Somehow we always had to empty the ashtrays, even when we didn't fill our stomachs.

It was almost a year ago when you brought me home and your truck broke down and your dog fought me while I picked him up so he didn't burn his paws on the new asphalt they were putting down in the parking lot. He'd caught your scent and all he wanted was to find you again. The other day I caught the scent of the cologne you hid in my laundry bag before we left even though I hadn't sprayed it for six months and all I wanted to do was find you again.

Sometimes I wonder if you tell your new girlfriend that your mouth is full of worms and that the only reason you don't die is because the puppy with the golden eyes is waiting for you. I wonder if she understands better than I did. I wonder if she is the reason you don't die now instead.

I'm still convinced that someday I will hear news that says you've killed yourself.

Maybe then I'll go find the bottle of thunderstom cologne, and play "Pass On" and close my eyes and remember the first time we kissed. Maybe then I'll smile.

Maybe then I'll understand.