Thursday, September 27, 2012
Hold still and wait, the messages come through our skin, into our eyes. They bypass the mind and seep in like water on a meadow. Patience. It comes. More slowly than you’d like, but sit still, you’ll feel it tingling, moving like excited bees over open flower faces.
Yes, we are sweet, just let the city melt as it needs to. Those lights and bulbs and glass are not needed. Let them melt into pools of reflection.
The bees will find us open and pungent, sticky sweet and seeping with desire.
Sit still, you will feel it. Silence is the space between six hands. The stars are there, blinking. Night waits for us, holds us in its quiet hours.
Let your skin listen, the space behind you knees, the shadows radiating with intensity. Wide are our hands, chests, tubes and ventricles. Tired, our bodies. Sit still, let the body listen. The muscles, aching. Screaming for rest.
Oh, the Blanket. Mother in her folds. Infancy folded and clean, smelling of newness and fluff. The eyes, so bright, peeking from behind lids that weigh down; gravity will not be outsmarted, though we try.
Dream, oh, the dream. Shifting in its red and black. The orange moving like wispy clouds.
Ours is the road. A spiral of tar and gravel. Wide avenues that sometimes break into trenches and dirt paths.
None are the same, as the labyrinth walls can attest. Travel is motion, our steps clatter in the cracks of time, bouncing in the silence between our hands.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
How many moons have I in this skin?
Looking out, the night sky is littered with light.
Other stars, other worlds.
The celestial is within, flowing through each limb.
The body is alive.
The dark pattern of galaxies, the rings of Saturn illuminated by the sun.
The body is alive.
A young girl in a bed, naked and reading.
For the moment of one inhalation she can feel the enormity of the cosmos.
Space stretching further than the mind could touch.
dark and speckled with light and solar flares.
She looks out the window and sees a palette of greens and shifting leaves.
Blue skies and the faint wisps of clouds.
Beyond the atmosphere, it is all there, as ephemeral as her own body.
We shift together. The body on earth, the earth around the sun, the sun around the galaxy.
Shifting together as one massive entity.
Caught up in shopping trips and career plans and the dinner menu.
The furthest stars shine, exposing themselves as worlds unto themselves.
I know them.
The wormhole is here taking me from one state to the other.
The mind opens with many doors,
I step through the threshold over and over,
finding myself a little ahead,
sometimes many steps behind.
The body is alive.
The leaves shine, letting in speckles of light and creating layers of shade and shape.
I am a universe unto myself, a uterus of creation eating the blood that lines me.
The stars are fed, they cannibalize the glory.
Friday, September 21, 2012
I spent 6 years trying to make up for one sentence said to the wrong person. Six years trying to dig my way out of sorrow and regret with money. Shirts, shoes, cigarettes, cds, concert tickets, milk, orange soda, hot dogs, art supplies, a silk screen press, heroin, lots and lots of heroin.
I worked and he spent as he wanted and I knew it was all because of that one sentence blurted out at dawn in the police station. One damn sentence condemned him as a felon forever. A string of words put him in minimum security jail for two months.
When I first saw him in that bright orange cotton pajama uniform and had to pick up a telephone to talk to him through the glass in the visitation booth, I thought I would crumble. I ran around town meeting with lawyers and bail bondsmen, I looked for an apartment and picked classes for the upcoming term. I went to his court dates wearing the purple paisley skirt he liked and every gemstone I owned for protection. I put the red garnet ring his mother had sent me on my left hand and walked into the courtroom, knowing I had put him there, knowing I needed to get him out.
I did what I could for him, depositing extra money into his ‘inmate account’ so he could buy extra food. I went back to my job and saved money for his bail, I accepted the collect phone calls and then worked like hell to pay them off.
When he was sentenced to two months I went to visit him faithfully every Sunday. He had been placed at “the farm,” the low security building by the city dump. It was a one story facility without fences or barbed wire, there were cats and peacocks that roamed the grounds. There he was issued white linen pants and a thick jeans jacket. We were allowed contact on those visits and he had me smuggle in cigarettes under my jacket, which I always hated to do.
He got a job in the kitchen and I was impressed when he told me he made a mini mountain made of melon pieces and parsley. I thought that he found ways to make even the worst of circumstances beautiful. He became the resident artist and drew pictures for the wives and girlfriends of other inmates. On Valentine’s weekend he presented me with a drawing of a sleeping mermaid with her arms wrapped around a heart-shaped moon.
I would arrive early on Sundays and be one of the first people in line, which was the way I insured we would have the full visit time of two hours. We would kiss and I would wear a skirt and sometimes he would touch my clit and I would leave there sopping wet.
Six months after he got out our troubles really began. The heroin became a necessity. I lived with the fear of death or jail. I wanted to save him, I wanted to be with him, the guy who drew and made me laugh, but I had not seen him in years.
I kept trying to make up for my initial wrong, but it just never worked- he only got worse. He was out of jail, but I had never left that one moment, that damn sentence, those few little words.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Ready… once again, as the circle returns.
I can almost taste it as it curves along those invisible walls that make up the magnetic fields of our existence. The sound of that bullet, bursting forth in anticipated explosion, waiting, waiting as it pierces the air with hot precision.
We wait as the circle curves back and we prepare once more. All of us, here with our attention, as the stars tell stories from above. The horses neigh in the background beneath leafy trees. The smell of sweet, crisp water overwhelms the charcoal, earthy odor of our shots.
We lay in the brush. The dry leaves press against my sweaty chest. With one eye closed I find my target, alive and filled with force, his gun glittering in the moonlight.
The sky, always dark with wide clouds that shift and turn. In the silence between bullets, before I draw from the endless cycle and aim once again, I turn towards the road. In just a moment I feel its long dusty tongue lick the dirt from my rough skin. Its gaze of passive indifference opens like a wide tunnel and I see myself on horseback, riding west beneath a sky so vast and endless it brings tears and fills my chest with indescribable longing.
The road, it cares neither for the sun, moon or children of stars. I am nothing to it, it takes the salt of my death and turns me into the path itself. I am the ground and move over purple mountains taking the silent message of choice up and up, zigzagging forest-covered mountains, down through the open ranges of the yellow valleys, through rain, over desert so parched and white that nothing lives, nothing can live. The sound of bullets ding and clatter from above. The horses stir and I squint once more.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
This was not the sweet sound of evacuation. It was not civilization coming with dry walls in the midst of a flood. It was the brutal force of empire. It was metal and strength looming from above. It was reinforced steel and bullets. It was brute strength.
There was one more tree left, the rest had been cleared away. Chopped, roots dug, bark mulched.
I had been there when there was still a small grove of oak trees. It had been a sunny Saturday. Blue. A soft wind that carried summer on its wings. The earth had been covered in a blanket of tan leaves that were hard and brittle and sharp along the edges.
The spirit was still young then. There was still a chance, they thought, to save the grove. A small group had gathered around a guitarist. He leaned against a tree, eyes closed in concentration, lyrics forming on his lips.
My steps echoed with crunching leaves, adding a bit of unnoticed rhythm. The leaves, one step closer to the earth. Dust. The trees were a canopy. Late afternoon light sprinkled in like glittering jewels.
A barefoot man in cutoff jeans walked through the grove holding burning sage. A thin, button-up shirt, unbuttoned now, exposed his smooth hairless chest. Skunk and earth. Smoke looked like genie dreams in the rays of sunlight.
Close to the sidewalk, a few bicycle activists distributed bruised apples and oranges collected from the nearby farmer’s market. The small space was alive. Young girls in wide skirts. Old women with long white hair that had seen this all before, and yet still hoped.
"We will save it," they claimed. They would. They wanted to.
Months later, the university was through with games. The guitarist, apples, the sage. All forcibly removed. The squirrels, birds, they were all gone. The police had built a metal chain link fence around the grove, trapping a few lone tree sitters that had climbed into the thick oak branches as a last resort.
I had almost been one of those girls. I had almost taken my sleeping bag and gone into the night. There could have been moon light, a stolen kiss, but that was a different path. I stayed in my blue carnival house. Warm, cool-hued and imagining, never regretting a night under the stars that would never be.
There was a different tree to climb and I listened to him sooth me like water. Cool. Tranquil. His words dripped down my ears.
The fence went up, metal and cold, doing what it was designed to do. The crowds watched, pushed to the other side of the street, their hands clutching the barrier, watching as the chainsaws came. They cut every old oak in the grove. They turned a home to little pieces, they turned it into dust.
Just one lone tree remained. The barefoot activists. Just a few thorns left.
Force was nothing new, force stretched out, trickling into every dark hole. Fifty years. It was not about war or free speech, it was only trees. Nothing had changed, the eyes of the country still blinked in hazy sleep.
Far worse had been done, more violence stood tall on batons, ready for another skull.
The police came, the fingernails on the octopus, the lowest level that would squeeze into those holes, bashing the centers with their metal-toed boots. Trained men. Guns, bullets, gas, masks, batons, handcuffs. Helicopters. Once again.
There were just a few left. The only animals now remained high in their branches, waiting for the inevitable. Barefoot, eating granola, waving signs, burning sage. Surrounded by gas and guns, the tree could offer no protection. Its own death was coming.
The grove was gone. Steel bars and cement were no longer a bad dream. The hard hats were ready. Plans. Fiberglass. The obstacles were cleared and soon it would all be over. Most would forget this ever happened.
I listened to it on the radio, driving early. Bright morning light coming through the windshield. News of the final standoff. The barefoot people came down. They said they had been assured no charges would be pressed. The university later denied making that promise. And the final tree came down.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
We were all sitting around in a circle in the living room when the doorbell rang. Bright and clear. Like Isabel’s voice on green hills. It rang again as I day dreamed. I jolted awake, eager to see what lay on the other side.
Standing illuminated in the glow from our weak porch light was a green dragon. He was not the giant lizard of old fairy tales, larger than ten buildings, but he was taller, thicker, and more scaly than me. Standing at least seven feet tall, I craned my neck backwards, feeling the back of my head touch my back as I stared up at him. I could see my own stunned reflection staring back at me in his glassy eyes.
I thought that I detected green and scales, smelt burning embers that somehow reminded me of clean wind just above the clouds, but I was most entranced by these smooth yellow eyes. I sunk into them, for as I said, I could see myself as he saw me, a nervous woman stunned by a creature she had only read about, but I could also see my form as the world he came from would see me.
I was blue and purple, a nebulous shape that was held together only by the tiniest strings, like blowing scarves stuck to a clothesline in spring. In his world, my flesh had already fallen, my colors were already singing.
Seeing the mixture of confusion and wonder in my eyes, sensing that perhaps the neighbors would begin to feel that something was amiss, somehow telepathically as nosy neighbors can, he cleared his throat and a few fiery embers escaped his jaws as he opened his mouth.
I shifted attention from his eyes to the tiny bits of flame that rose into the night like orange fairies.
“Excuse me for that. I am here for the writer’s meeting. I am Maurice. I brought some of my work. I hope I am not to late.”
For a moment my mouth would not move, I must have lost control as I voyaged into his world. Coming back into mine, I could feel my tongue was stuck somewhere behind my teeth. Pursing my mouth together, I found the little bit of moisture that remained.
The underlying sweetness of his voice echoed between us, as clear and bright as the doorbell had been. Like Isabel’s voice on a green hillside.
We met eyes once again, “Oh yes, come in,” I managed to say, using my best hostess voice. Opening the door wider and stepping aside, he crossed the threshold, forever entering our tiny world within a world.
As he passed, coming from the night into the daylight we created, I looked down at his hands, where hands would have been if he were human. What he had were scaly green arms that ended in long yellowish-white claws that doubled as hands. Using both claws he held onto a thin manila folder, the kind used in offices around the world, which I assumed contained his written words.
It was only a few steps from the door to the living room. As I followed his thin trail of smoky air, I saw the stunned looks waiting in their chairs, looking the same as I must have.
“This is Maurice,” I announced. “He’s a writer here for the meeting.”
Several people nodded obediently, taking the information in, the lifelong schooling in American social politeness not failing them yet.
“Maurice, I’m going to get another chair from the kitchen for you.”
Stepping away I could hear the awkward silence beginning, though just as that void opened, it was filled with the steady voice of Chester, perfectly timed to avoid any crash in energy.
“What do you write Maurice?”
“Mostly poetry. I just started writing really.”
“That’s ok. Everyone is welcome here.”
I walked back into the room with a slightly worn metal folding chair in my hands, seeing polite nods from the gathered writers as the encouraging statement reverberated around the room.
“Here’s a chair for you. Let’s kind of... rearrange the chairs so there’s still a clear circle.”
We took a moment to do this.
I could feel slight tension in the room, more palpable than just the usual bit of nerves that seemed to accompany all the writers that came to our house. Jen slipped me a nervous look, her eyes were questioning, perhaps looking at me like I understood something that she didn’t, wondering, most likely, what a dragon was doing in our house. I had no answer, I looked away.
“Ok, thanks for coming everyone. For those of you that haven’t been here before, we take turns reading our work, or someone else can read it for you if you like. Afterwards, we discuss it. When you make a comment, try to give your impression and reactions. Talk about the way it made you feel or if there were any parts that were confusing. In general, try to avoid saying if it was good or not. Stick to how it made you feel. Ok Jen, do you want to go first?”
“Sure. This is the second half of the story I read last week.”
She looked down at her lap, to the story that was already sitting there on neatly typed pages, and began to read. Her words went into me. The same flowing, evocatively descriptive work I was used to.
Interested in reactions, I looked around the room. Maurice sat with his eyes closed. The scales between his eyes were ruffled as though listening intently. Small bursts of steam shot out from his nose in intervals, growing more steady and thick as the tension in her story mounted.
I looked up and noticed Scott was not watching Jen reading either. His attention was on Maurice, watching his recurring bouts of steam and hiss, entranced as I was. Scott’s eyes were wider than usual as he watched steam evaporate delicately into the middle of the room. Looking up suddenly he caught me watching him, his eyes full of questions. I was as surprised as he was.
When Jen was done reading, I snapped back into writer’s meeting mode, listening as each person gave their reactions. We went around the circle, taking turns. Maurice opened his mouth to speak and more orange embers escaped.
“I felt like crying when the baby was drowned by the crashing waves. It was beautifully described. I could really feel the emotional pain.”
There were nods from those around the circle.
Chester went next, reading in his barely accented voice the short story of one sunny afternoon in his childhood. Maurice did not close his eyes this time, he stared at Chester, his yellow eyes growing wider as the dialogue unfolded like a sweet smelling flower. Smoldering smoke came from his ears, slithering up into the air in quiet movement. Jen coughed, reacting to the extra smoke in the room. Chester coughed every once in a while, giving Maurice a curious look every time he did so.
When it was Maurice’s turn, all eyes turned towards him.
“Ok, this is a short poem I wrote a few months ago. I have it memorized.”
There were nods all around the room. I felt my heart begin to pound as he readied himself, that uncomfortable feeling in my chest when the energy has mounted and soon we will be at the cliff’s edge.
He closed his eyes, his wide bulging lids seemed to be made of a thin green skin, though I thought I could detect the yellow of his eyes glowing beneath them like little lamps.
The room was quiet. The skin around his mouth began to move, twitching as though out of his control. It went on like this for half a minute and we exchanged nervous glances, for we were not used to silence among us.
Then the scaly skin on his nose began to twitch as well, joining he erratic bursts of his closed mouth. A grumble came from deep within him, somewhere in his gut, though it sounded like a call from another world. He opened his mouth and several deep and extended syllables emerged, through none of them sounded like the English he had spoken to us all night.
I craned by neck towards him, hoping the gesture would bring me closer to understanding. Just as I did, I was met by a wall of pure fire. I could smell singed carpet, I saw the black spots of melted nylon.
I looked at Sophie who sat across from Maurice, her long blond hair now singed to the ears. Maurice opened his eyes. One final burst of steam rose from his ears.
He looked around the room.
“The fire comes out involuntarily when I get into a sort of trance state. I am so sorry.”
“No. No,” said Mike, “I could see that you were really into it. Must be very emotional work. I have to say though, I didn’t really understand it.”
“Yes, it is not really meant to be understood, just shared. Perhaps you know what I mean.”
There were nods once again all around the room. We held another moment of shared silence, taking in the truth of what he had said.
Chester coughed once and then cleared his throat.
“Well, thank you everyone for coming. We’ll be meeting here again in a few weeks. Everyone is most welcome to come,” he looked right at the dragon.
We rose, stretching our limbs. We all shook hands and I grabbed Maurice’s cold claw as we said goodbye.
“Thanks for coming, hope we see you again.”
He nodded with a smile, “Yes, possibly.”
The door closed, everyone was gone. The smell of smoke still remained.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
playing with the spiders that hide in my thoughts
out comes the rain
washing me out.
pools and puddles
all that blackness reminding me of the leaky drain
wash me away
every part that answers when they call my name
were it easy
were it easy
were it easy the rain might
when I looked into the moon
and saw them kissing.
We sat in a café as the bright silver plate filled the sky.
And then it rained and I came
Driving through puddles
The freeway was just a long river towards
Blue eyes and a sea hidden by clouds.
I thought the spiders would slip out
But more came in
You pushed them inside me
On those rare occasions.
You pushed them inside me with all those
Cigarettes and the tiny little lies that turned into mountains.
You pushed them inside those places I let you carve.
When you went away
The pools felt like they would not end.
When you went away the clouds lifted
When you went away there was joy
When you went away I opened for the first time.
Caressing the wounds, I let you fade.
And then today- your birthday.
I had almost forgotten.
Has the rain found you
and all those spiders you sent?
I am hidden in the clouds,
may we never meet again.