Idealist

I had yet another frustration-filled post queued up in drafts and ready for publishing. For lack of any other (good) ideas and in order not to go back on my promise of weekly semi-readable, ranty, poem-ish content, I was just about to go ahead and post it when I decided  to give myself (and you) a break and to only write about things that bring me joy for a while. I can use my writing to chronicle all the things we all know are horribly wrong but cannot/refuse to talk about, but the past few weeks of doing that in every class conversation and homework assignment and work meeting are threatening to submerge me in a black hole of misery and i’m-just-going-to-stay-home-not-shower-or-speak-to-anyone and that is unhealthy to say the very least.

I’m yours, joyfully. And no, my joyful self doesn’t care how cheesy you think  that line was 🙂

***

Every conversation is an exercise in intellectual acrobatics. Dedicated student goes to bed with ideas each night; wrings them out of wet hair every Saturday morning, smells them on your breath–

I’m only now learning that ideas are not two-dimensional and confined to the space between a flashing cursor and a space bar. They are things you can interrogate and dispute, over which you can run inquisitive hands.

Growing enamored with notions of people and keeping them in messages marked unread like pages bent at the corner, so you can revisit the loveliness later.

Ideas are alive and straining against chest muscles, rib cage and flesh; they sniff and cough and snore and shift restless limbs. They jump out of photographs of men in fitted trousers grazing their ankles and women with hair reaching stiffly above their heads.

The idea of you dancing on a floor whose grooves and cracks never expected to feel your feet on top of forbidden– haunted– ground is chilling and oddly inspirational.

Obsessed with the possibility that you materialized from lines of conversation layered on top of each other, conversation about the irrational belief that you exist at all.

 

Collateral Damage

I was standing on a street corner when I felt a baby bird pecking at my heel. I looked down into its needy little eyes and grew suddenly annoyed. I kicked backwards and watched as it fell on its side, flapping its wings fruitlessly, trying to open its damaged beak. I didn’t feel remorse.

I spent a year carving a tribute in marble and sandstone, and even now there are chips of it stuck underneath my nails. I dedicated all my time to this monument, I washed its feet with my sweat and spent many nights with my head resting against its base trying to force a few hours of sleep before I began again. When it was finished, I looked at it and hated it. I took a hammer and smashed through the stomach, the kneecaps, the toes. Again, I felt nothing.

I’m now tearing my way through the air around me, propelled forward only by blind rage which will not pause to clear the haze from in front of my eyes long enough for me to recognize who deserves to be hurt and who just happens to be standing there. You are the baby bird sputtering and coughing up tiny flecks of blood. You are the statue I led to believe was worthy of a pedestal. I’m grinding the debris from the space you used to occupy and I will use it to darken my eyelashes. Stay away.

(This is a work in progress…)

 

Testing Destruction

The dentist packed the inside of my mouth with cotton wool before the procedure began, then injected an anesthetic into the left side of my top gum.

This is going to hurt.

I was the kind of child who faced the lethal teeth of guard dogs with curiosity. I placed a fragile, practically boneless hand in its mouth and squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the pain to knock me out.

I am now standing much closer to the fire than I should be, and I do not even mind that my bare thigh is dangerously close to this mass of twisted metal and heat. I’m close enough that it burns me, leaving a dark vertical stripe on my skin with a mottled surface like bubbling paint. I look down with sick satisfaction. I didn’t move close to it on my own, I was pushed.

I will be destroyed-

 

Sublimation

Even the buckling of the plastic chair on which she sat seemed perfectly orchestrated.

the sublime is the feeling you get when you are so close to someone else’s danger, yet far enough that you can feel the base of your stomach collapsing inwards while your feet remain planted where you stand.

The sublime did not live on the white board of an over-heated classroom suspended above the heads of bored graduate students. On this night, it rested on the triangular base of the leg of this chair, which skidded slightly every time she rocked backwards to get a better look at him, tilting dangerously to the right, whole being on tilt and more off center than it had been when they first sat down.

sublime descriptions of nature are usually replete with detailed, deeply sentimental images of one’s environment. “one” is probably a woman.

In this part of town, family houses with rusty roofing sheets sagging at the edges were squeezed between all night food stands and boutiques with imitation designer bags jumbled together in their window displays. Here, arms were draped across laps in a way that would be hard to explain on the phone later– other arm draped across top of head– casual stance which seemed to say: “I could do this again tomorrow night if you’ll let me.”

sublimation is the direct vaporization of a solid by heating without passing through the liquid state. it is also the transformation of an expression of a desire or feeling from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable.

She doused knowing smiles in large gulps of her drink and looked away and over the top of the next too small table wedged uncomfortably between two equally awkward people. Maybe it’s the first time meeting for you too? She crushed new feelings between the arms folded across her stomach, pressing inwards until they were swallowed and bubbled upwards and out of her mouth as laughter that could have been a lot more well-behaved.

what made you decide to come here?

well, I really wanted to see the fireworks, but I think I may stay a little longer–

 

 

Penance

The air hit the base of my throat, icy fingers digging into the only flesh left uncovered by layer on layer of wool spun by decades of abandonment. The cold grabbed my jaw and forced its fingers into my mouth, digging around irregular, neglected teeth before finding one free of rot and wrenching it out of the gum

pay what you owe for leaving them behind

 I never knew that you could drown in air when it turns into wind, until it rushed up my flared nostrils and displaced the last breaths I took in a place where life smells like burning rubber and roasted corn

Here, the cold curls up inside of me, lying next to my skeleton before pushing it out bone by bone and sitting there triumphantly legs tucked under itself, digging into my sides with its sharp elbows

I have taken the space you should have kept for them

(Image Source: )

Negatives

There are two of you sitting on the sofa. One of you is picking dead skin from the sides of your fingernails, and the other one isn’t trying very hard to hide the contempt in your voice. You know I’m a bully, right? There are four of you sitting on the sofa. Two of you should probably make this the last time you see each other but you won’t, because habits are almost impossible to break, especially the dangerous ones. Two of you are doing the least you can to make sure whatever it is that was once between you still exists somewhere, even if it’s only in photographs stuck to a fridge by broken magnets. Two of you need to give up, but the other two are sitting on a bench in an empty playground, laughing with heads thrown back as if you don’t have anywhere else to be.

There is one of you crying into a pillowcase that needs changing. One of you said this would be the last time you would do this, because all it does is betray your weakness with puffy under-eyes that no amount of concealer can fix the next morning. One of you doesn’t understand why you’re taking painful, ugly gulps of breath in between cries, as if you’re scared you’ll suffocate if you stop. One of you needs to exercise self-control. There are two of you lying in bed. One of you is trying to be reasonable. You got everything that you wanted after all, didn’t you? One of you is  childish and self-centered, and one of you is still trying to access that part of yourself that you are convinced you have misplaced, searching for it in overflowing jewelry boxes, in handshakes that last a few moments too long, in bite-sized sermons you throw down your throat without tasting, in horoscopes you don’t believe in. One of you is empty.

There are four of you sitting in a café. Or maybe there are only two. One of you is trying to contain your excitement. It really isn’t that serious; this isn’t one of your stories. Calm down. Don’t embarrass yourself. There are two of you sitting at a too-small table in a café. The other two left because they must have realized you weren’t as exciting as you first appeared to be. There are two of you sitting at a café. One of you is hoping you can just stay here all day, maybe until the baristas start shuffling their feet and turning chairs over tables so you get the hint that it’s over. One of you has hope beating against your chest from the inside, and the other one feels desperately pathetic– pathetically desperate for trying to bend daydreams until they resemble reality. One of you is pretending to be engrossed in theory and texts and theories about texts and time and what is time and what is text and what…and one of you has focused every last bit of your attention on the legs of chairs that have continued to shift in tiny increments and are now touching, and on how you are leaning so far to the side that you might tip over. There is only one of you. One of you wants to go on typing, but doesn’t really know how to describe the thoughts knocking on the back of your skull. One of you wants to go on typing until you’ve said everything that needs to be said and won’t have to type any longer.

One of you probably shouldn’t. One of you has said too much already.

NB: I’ve been trying a lot of different things with my writing, and if you’re reading this you’re essentially my experimental subject. I’m also struggling with and against the different genre restrictions– prose poetry? fiction? if this is a poem, where are the line breaks and verses etc??? What I’m saying is at this point, the categories and tags on this blog mean very little because I can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly it is that I’m writing. You’re probably just as confused as I am. 🙂

Long Distance

I got a call from 1992 today.

There was so much static on the line that it was almost impossible to hear the caller.

There was so much static on the line that it sounded as though a flock of birds had picked apart the telephone wire for food, used parts of it to feed their young, the rest to build nests that sometimes emitted electric shocks– only sometimes.

There was so much static on the line.

I put the handset face down on the table, but I could still hear the faint squeaking and beeping that used to be the caller’s voice before decaying cables and years of estrangement distorted the sound waves into these grotesque noises. I picked up the handset and smashed it against the wall. Its pieces didn’t scatter and skid across the floor. Instead, it cracked neatly in half, somewhere between where I could not hear and where I could not speak. I took both halves in my hands and shook out– the names of concerts we did not attend, the moisture of hands we did not hold, the covers of comic books you did not buy, the rust of bikes I did not ride. I sifted through the phone’s remains and found the dried flakes of tears I could not cry, the thread of smiles I could not smile wound tightly around a pencil, glitter dust from cards I could not make by hand, dry bones of love I do not have to give.

Next time, I must be sure to check who is calling before I answer.

Pain Control

I picked up my pain today and polished it with a torn rag and some saliva. I turned it over in the palm of my hand before dousing it in anointing oil and the saltiest of tears extracted from the Atlantic. I stared at it with the resignation of stale rage, an anger so omnipresent it has begun to feel like the indelible bruise at the base of my spine left from too many years of bowing and bending of lifting and molding myself to others’ wishes.   I picked up my pain today, but the ink stained my fingertips red and bled straight through the paper and onto the tired ground beneath my feet. I turned to my computer but I could barely see the screen through the thick smears of clots and vessels. I am genetically predisposed to have anger grafted on the insides of my eyelids, so that every waking dream is only a brief reprieve from the horror awaiting just beyond the edges of my page. Today, I picked up my pen only to find that it had sprouted claws overnight. They gripped my hand and pressed inwards, and I could no longer see or feel where the pain began and where my hand ended. I sat down to write with my only tool trapped in this evil clamp. My pain has been injected into every vein, carefully and painfully. It throbs just below the surface of my fingertips, straining to manifest between pen strokes and pulsing cursors. I picked up my pain today and wrote in spite of it.

 

Uncharted Anatomy

And I stood there- my arm outstretched- the flesh of my palm sickeningly pale, translucent even. Vulnerable. I don’t believe in wearing my heart on my sleeve. Frankly, it’s a nuisance, and  people for whom it’s not intended think they have the right to (mis)handle it. I handed you your own personal map- traced the back streets and highways of every artery and vein- granted free access to pathways and trajectories where only neurons fire. You swept up the littered streets and polished monuments and memories until their gleam was painful to anyone who looked. You stumbled across fault lines and paused before speed bumps of insecurity, finding your way around them sometimes crudely and without much patience, but most times gently. But then one day, I found the map crumpled in a ball and shoved roughly underneath a lumpy mattress. You were tired of an eternity and a half of rescue missions and repairs, and I was tired of not being able to navigate.

So I took it back.