re-visiting

Hi, church-janitor guy.

I see you, peeking your graying head around, your white t-shirt bunching around your middle, hesitantly clutching your trash bags, thinking, “What is she doing?”

Yes, I can read your thoughts, why do you ask?

Then I watch as you bravely trudge closer to me, to the dumpsters, and haul your bags in with a grunt.  You look at me again, and then wander around, pretending to pick up trash, pretending to be solely consumed with the emptiness of the parking lot, except for your car, and my car.

My boots are kicking the clouds, and my black skirt probably looks too short on this swing.  Haven’t you noticed how the other two are broken?  Such a mangled swing set, one of them dangling on its only hook, the rest of it splaying out across the mini rocks.  The other tied in twenty knots.  Can’t you get a ladder?

I don’t blame you for your fear, Janitor.  I mean, anyone who finds it their task to inquire of a goddess why she is flying should be afraid.  But be brave, I would have mercy on you, if you asked me what I was doing, and why.  It didn’t happen on purpose you know, but something drove me here, some past ghost of mine who is sitting, probably on the one-armed swing, she called me here, maybe seven years old, or thirteen.

And now my hands may be getting callouses I’ve been swinging for such a very long time, and singing, and letting my hair ride itself over my face and then down my back in sultry waves of pleasure, as my stomach lurches proudly and the wind in my face gives me a high, and the old bars start creaking because I won’t stop pumping my legs into the sunset, and writhing midair.

If you were brave, I would Knight you, and tell you why I came here.  I would point down the hill and say, “That was my house, the blue one with the little garden, and the tree I planted in the yard, and the one my brother did.”

I would tell you how my whole life was spent in the church you are miserably cleaning on a Monday evening, and how I know every inch of it twice as well as you do.  I would talk about the way the sun used to come through the windows in the sanctuary while I waited for my father, hours after service, to lead the final weeping parishioners to the door and lock up, his exhausted pastoral countenance never looking my direction.  I would tell you how we used to run these hills, weren’t they bigger before?  And how we used to suck the sweet nectar from those lilacs-

WHAT THE FUCK?

What the FUCK is that fence doing there?  Who the fuck put a FUCKING FENCE in front of my lilacs?!

Oh, oh, I am enraged, I am infuriated!  Where are my gods, my soldiers, my legions?!  Rip it down!  Gnaw away every last sliver of this hideous cage, let them free!  Free them!!  They are MINE, they are ours, they are my childhood!  What are the children to do, wicked neighbors, now that you have locked them up behind your lecherous planks?  You fools.

It is a good thing you went back inside, Janitor, a very good thing, because I have somewhere misplaced my mercy.

 

Dear C.,

Remember when we escaped

the holy sea of tents

and your girlfriend that one time?

I still remember the

freedom of the wind

coming through your car windows

while we blasted the radio

and laughed like laughing was oxygen,

and remember the fortunes?

Twenty-four in a row,

and yours opened flour and water

to reveal curses,

and mine promised divinity

in a cookie crust.

And remember when we sort of loved each other,

but never said so

until afterwards?

We had only ever joked about

my fork in the road,

and which way I should take.

You said you were waiting at one end,

and I pictured dancing casinos,

wearing red top hats,

and fast cars,

and the cloying singe of

cloves on my tongue.

But I said no.

I’ve had so many more forks, C.,

it’s hard to think about them all,

and how they’ve led me winding here,

to my happiness and dissatisfaction,

which is why I have to walk

with a foot on each side

of the path.

to the man-boy whose house i cleaned today:

Your ex-girlfriend opened the door,

half-dressed and hung-over,

blinking into the raging sunbeams,

which were bouncing off the melting snow mounds,

breasts leering through white-striped folds,

those expensive wares you buy for each other.

She mixes up cocktails all

haphazard and dog fur covered

and chatty.

I dust your pretend possessions,

and feeble cushions,

piled on top of each other like

a fur-lined feather orgy.

Do you sleep in every room

of your solo mansion

on purpose,

or do you do it because

it makes you feel

like someone else is there?

I dust the trophy room where

your son sleeps in fits of rage;

your ex-girlfriend pokes her head

through the door

to tell me he will

end up a serial killer.

She has showered

and shellacked herself,

but she was prettier

half-asleep,

and makeup-less,

hair a mess,

like a fluorescent

phantom.

She talks about her new

snow-globe apartment,

and I help her pack

eighteen pairs of shoes.

They look like dollar signs.

“I am a kind soul,” she told me.

And what she meant to say is that

you are not.

dream town

I awoke dreaming into the same town where my dreams take me in sweet encumbrance, always lonely, pacing or running, to or from, they are the same.

There is a castle there but I rarely go in, because I followed him once, screaming that I could not love him, into a basketball hoop forest, and arenas where the ground is caked with sandy blood.

Another time, I waited tables in a red and yellow diner with no walls, but they fired me for never showing up.  “I am only here every so often,” I tried to explain, “like Pevensies and Michael J Fox.”

The lake once poured forth crocodiles, barely chewing the toes of my howling infants, breaking my mind with biting consistency.

And the hedge maze: cowering trampolines hide there, and rope bridges pass over elegant swamps.

Beyond a chipping playground, red paint and lead nightmares, lies the cave.

I wandered there this time, and upon arriving, felt your presence.  I looked up and breathed.  You had written my name, a thousand times, a thousand ways, a thousand cuts.  I curled up inside your handwriting

like a closed tomb,

like a fragrant ocean,

like a pulsing womb,

like a rocking motion.

an euphoric sky

1.

Life is a shallow pool.

And the younger you are, the shallower it is; though you think its depths are endless.

A sunflower is god, because it is yellow.  The fucking blue sky burns your retinas with glory.

A rotting, wooden board is a pirate ship and you are the captain.

You can believe lies so easily, when you are young.

2.

I am almost-young.

A fading.  My new self is forming within my youth, like a pearl forms inside a shell: surrounded by weak flesh.

This may sound all well and good.

You may be saying to yourselves, okay, so she can be more of a realist now.  She can stop living in careless frivolity.  She can step up and become something.

3.

Um, hello?

Don’t you know me but at all?

Jesus, readers.  Pull yourselves together.

If I don’t have my fairy tales, what am I?  I won’t make it through that kind of transition.  I’m not built for it.  I need my worlds and my universes and my fancies.  If my existence becomes mostly about doing dishes and seeing a rotting board instead of a majestic vessel, obscurities will bury me.  A literal sort of burying, like taking too many sleeping pills.  You will hardly see my shadow on the wall.

4.

Now you are certainly saying amongst yourselves (yes, I can hear your muttering) that realism and fantasy can hold equal magic, but you are wrong.  Because I know we are all headed in the same dusty direction through sinks and riverbeds into stone.  I know that we are all lost.  I feel pointless.

5.

I am the oyster.  The pulled apart flesh.  No more shell.  You might gain a pearl from my life.  I hope you do.  But I won’t be there to see it.

6.

I wish to find personal galaxies in the evolution of the sky during a partly-cloudy afternoon.  There are at least seventy worlds in the sky on any given partly-cloudy afternoon.

Don’t let me live myself into death.  Help me go back.  I want to un-know horrors.

I want to live in a sweet, sordid euphoria.

7.

DSCN0940

on reading ‘The Hunger Games’ whilst suffering from the stomach flu

Photo on 2-23-13 at 3.21 PM #3

You awaken suddenly to a familiar rumbling.  A discomfort which only progresses the more you attempt to ignore it or will it away.  After five minutes or so, you can no longer fool yourself.  “I have to throw up,” you think and force yourself to push the covers off and get to the bathroom so your boyfriend can be spared the wondrous sights, sounds, and smells which are about to accompany your existence.

“Katniss is waiting for me in there,” you encourage yourself, grabbing your copy of ‘Mockingjay’ and lurching through the darkened corridors.

Once there, you re-discover what misery is.  You beg and plead to a God you may or may not believe in to make it stop.  But the hours go by, relentlessly.  Soon, you find yourself curled up on a towel midway between the toilet and the furnace vent.  You curse the furnace every time you hear its final click and feel its sweet breath fade away, because there is no way you are leaving this bathroom floor.  So you lie there, miserably shivering, clutching your painful stomach that will not give way between bouts of illness to let you sleep.  And you read.

You always try to remind yourself how lucky you are when you get sick.  “Look at you, you spoiled person!  Sitting on your plush little towel with your heating vent and your running water.  What about the people in blazing hot Costa Rica?  Think of how the stomach flu feels in a tin shack two miles from the nearest stream?  Or what if you got the stomach flu in the Tower of London, what then, hmm?  Literally nothing to comfort you; nothing to draw out even a minuscule amount of the suffering and the smell and the wanting to die.  Quit your whining, you ungrateful first-worlder.”

So you rinse your mouth for the hundredth time and read about people who are perpetually in the state you are in now.  They are either fighting or killing or dying in terrible ways.  Burned and twisted and sick and in pain.

Somehow this comforts you.  Somehow it eases your mind.  “I am not alone,” you think.

Peeta and Johanna are tortured in the Capitol while Katniss recovers from the arena where she watched countless friends die.  Finnick is torn apart by a reptilian, whispering mutt.  “What is it that you are complaining about again?” you ask yourself almost smugly, as if dystopian fiction should somehow make your miseries lessen.

But, then again, somehow it does.

Photo on 2-23-13 at 3.21 PM #2