Sunday, December 26, 2010

Certainty


The house was shining with the bright light of a brand new day. The cream colored curtains floated like sails beneath the golden light of the incoming sun and yet the room was ringing with crisp cold air. The thick Persian rugs did little to deflect the chill of polished wooden floors and pale-green walls. A TV was on. A young girl sat on an overstuffed couch, absorbing the sounds of barnyard cartoon characters while she slowly ate her breakfast of fried rice and a single peeled banana.

“What!!??”

I looked at the girl on the couch. I saw her little white hands with palms facing upwards, the same way my grandmother held her hands when she just couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her young body was already formed and aged, all in secret. It had acquired the same basic shape it would have years from now, when this would all be a memory to be replicated and reorganized.
The world of her parents, the clear delineation between right and wrong, black and white, it all lived in her young face. She already thought she knew it all. The world had already been clearly defined and she already knew her place within it.

“How can they say that??!!”
She suddenly looked at me with a smile of disbelief on her face, with a shade of mockery. She shouldn't have looked at me. She wasn't supposed to. I was the one doing the looking.

I used to know it all. I used to know it all before I lost my certainty.

I want to use the word hollow.

I see a female standing at the edge of cliff while fluttering bats shake the night through her hair. I feel the coldness of the house, the artificial sounds of the TV…something is strange.
It is my perception. It is me standing at the side of the slate rock cliff. It is me looking down at the collection of me that is the bottom.
I am the little girl. I am the woman at the edge of the cliff.
The thing that I fear, the thing that keeps me staring in wide-mouthed awe is the subconscious motivations I have just glimpsed. It is that, pulling back the blankets, opening the eyelids and discovering a naked creature that moves without thought, that moves as though pulled by levers and strings.

This moment of discovery is truly shocking, like a zap to the core that laughs in my face as I discover the true intentions behind my own behavior. The behavior I have spent a lifetime justifying, spinning webs and circles around it with my mouth.

It’s not that I lied. A lie requires some sort of consciousness. This is beyond a lie. These are the lies that I believe as truth. The things I call ideas, philosophies, thoughts, life choices. These are the things I call “me.” And I both want to laugh and cry as I look into the abyss of my machine and glimpse the habit behind the impulse.

A girl so young and already she knows everything. She lies that she knows. I know now that she lies.

We all sat in an artificially warmed room. From the shifting light of a glowing electronic box, we watched others like us self-destruct. Through this new form of entertainment, through the captured pain of another girl who walked and talked like Jennifer Lopez in a movie wrought with conflicting personalities and alcohol… through this, I saw myself.

“I started cutting myself when I was thirteen,” the girl admitted to the video camera. “That’s why I like tattoos, it’s a way of doing it without anyone knowing.”

A couple seconds of silence. The sort of time that stops and quiets down even a large TV and two speakers. There was something, something moving, shifting on the currents of artificial warm air, moving through the layers of my body and the soft fabric of the chamber. I felt my body, laying curled up between two pillows. I felt myself still, hardly breathing. A couple minutes before, I had just admitted that I had thought about cutting myself.

I remembered laying in bed, in a heap of hysteria. I had imagined myself walking to the bathroom. Parallel to that vision, I had the thought that perhaps cutting myself would feel good.
That night I didn’t get up, I didn’t walk into the bathroom, I drifted to sleep under a cloud of sadness and awoke nine hours later with anxiety ridden dreams grasping at my heels.

As we watched this girl on TV, I remembered that I had thought about it too. I had never done it, but I had thought about it. Now, as she admitted that her tattoos were part of the same habit, another manifestation of the same impulse, I realized that I too had a body covered in blue and green ink.
The show was paused.

“Did she just say something about you?” I heard my friend ask.

Another second held still in the well of time.
I could think of at least three tattoos that were spawned from a feeling of anxiety that rattled inside me like a soot covered wind I could not shake.
The time my old boyfriend was in jail and I was lonely and scared and felt like the entire world was just too strong and corrupt. That brought the lute-playing mermaid tattooed to my belly.
There was the unfinished doodle on my inner left ankle. It was me, that night alone in my apartment, while my boyfriend went out to score some heroin, me that had picked up the tattoo gun on the coffee table and plunged the needle into my own white flesh. I picked it up out of terror, terror he would not come back, terror that he would. That dark night, I was overwhelmed with his burden and disease, his recurrent need for money that weighed on my young shoulders.
The word “warrior” on my left thigh, the permanent black letters that appeared only a few hours after discovering that another girl was visiting my boyfriend in jail, another layer of his lies revealed. I drove straight to a tattoo shop singing and crying.
The tattoo artist looked up from his hunched position over my leg and asked me “what’s up with this word?” The explanation was crooked and an attempt at ego preservation, a self conscious attempt to hide my own addictive fixation on one diseased person. The man nodded while looking straight through my eyes, sensing the pain that my facial lines and puffy eyes had already outed. Maybe he was already used to this, maybe he had seen it a thousand times, maybe he could have told me so much, maybe I could have heard him. But he didn't say anything. Instead, he nodded and kept working.
That night, as I walked through Bookshop Santa Cruz with a bandaged leg that stung with every step, I held my head higher and noticed that people seemed to be looking at me differently, as though they could see that the orgasmic pain had lifted a dark cloud.

I had painted large artistic circles around the reasons for a body covered in mermaids and foliage, explanations to justify the act, lies to hide the utter lack of certainty.

Now I had glimpsed the energetic contortion, the habit and reaction I could no longer hide. And now here it was, explained in raw simplicity by a brown-skinned girl that still had a mark on her arm and streaks of tears across her cheeks.

The house seemed strange around me, but it was me, not the dwelling that reeked of strangeness. This raw truth, this evidence had opened before me like a gutted pig. How strange to be fooled by myself. How strange to talk and ruminate and make complicated explanations for a behavior that went deeper than skin, deeper than bone, deeper than the existence of this machine.

I am ruled by these habits, these things that I cannot even see. The nature of lies goes so deep that I can't touch it, I can't wrap my fingers around its shape. The nature of self delusion goes even deeper. We have pulled a small layer back and looked inside, a small bit of the subconscious is revealed, naked in the light of day. It is shocking to get a glimpse. So shocking to realize the extent of circular lies and grand explanations.

I see a girl dancing. There are two walls made of bricks. They are miles apart, but they are so tall that their sheer height makes them always known. The pretty girl is in the field, among the gently sloping grass of yellow and green. Her skirt of layered gray chiffon moves like clouds tethered to her waist. She moves around trees and skips over sleeping foxes. She can't know anything. There is nothing to be known.

“How can they say that??!!”

I just shrugged my shoulders and she looked away. She knew too much for me to say anything. She knew too much to wonder who I was or why I was there.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Walking Backwards


She was sitting in her room. The overhead light was off and just a tall floor lamp provided a slight glow to the quiet chamber. Soft light illuminated her white naked legs, her black and green tattoos that coiled around her thigh and calve. Her thin fingers held the pages of a red-covered book open, its pages a pale yellow, its words in deep black.

“I will stop making efforts to remain asleep.”

The words went through her like waves of truth. They wrapped themselves around her, plunging deep into areas she left dry and untouched.

She sat still on the soft bed, letting the sentence roll through her, letting it resonate wherever there was space. She held on, letting the next sentence wait.

She actually made efforts to remain sleep. She took steps in the opposite direction. She turned her back on the path every day, walking backwards, throwing stones, doing all she could to remain asleep, to remain where she was.

Every argument.

Every eye roll.

Every long tangent of jealousy that held her down like a drowning girl in a shallow pool.

Every reaction of jolting anger.

She sat with the book open, her hands still, her eyes soft and unfocused while the words traveled deep, coiling around the sinews of habits and pride.

“I will stop making efforts to remain asleep.”

This is what she did, everyday, perhaps every hour, as rage poured through her heart, dropping her far from the mountain she was climbing. She remembered sitting on the same bed earlier in the morning, staring up into the aluminum covered piping that ran through a part of her room. She sat there for nearly five minutes, staring into the foil, finding shapes and faces and reliving the comment she heard the day before. The four words that pierced her, the four words that she holds onto for hours, holding on o them, letting them form more bubbles of anger and reaction.

It was what she did, she found ways to remain asleep. It didn’t just come naturally. She made an effort. She actively put her attention on things she could not control. She didn’t focus on herself, which would have been the one place it would have made a difference and instead focused on every misstep of those around her.

“I will stop making efforts to remain asleep.”

Could she actively relax and let go of those efforts? Could the anger just fall away like old skin? She imagined herself on the same bed, still and calm, a slight smile on her face while rage just dripped off, falling to the earth and turning into green sprouts and vapor.

Her machine was trying, actually making an effort to remain in the dirt, to keep as far away from the mountaintop as it could. It tried everyday, reminding her of pain, of pride, of the way it all should be, but was not.

As she held the book open, her eyes softened and she took a deep breath, allowing the exhalation to cleanse her. Moving her eyes slowly onto the next sentence.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eyes Of Dust


I look out the window as the train leaves. I am on it, in it, watching a dusty landscape sketched in the shades of white and black. Little dots of brown vie at the edges of the breathing photo and start to scream, warning me of stories better left untold. Of crimes unpunished, of little mouths that cry in hunger and weep tears for a life that will never be. I try and look past it all, searching the mountains for words of poetry, but their shadows, all too real, pull my eyes back. Escape is for the blind, for the heart that has stopped bleeding, for an eye that loses no kiss of salt. I stare in the face of sorrow, pulling its sharp scent in, letting it wrap me with its tears that cannot be shed.
Thin trees dot the land, their scrawny branches hold a few struggling leaves. Dust swirls in tan gusts with every fierce blast of wind.
The elements slap their worn brown faces, those people without tears. The sun takes the side of a heavy handed capitalist, a punishing, unrelenting heat shines never-ending. A cold dark night takes the side of imperialism, the blackness of their glossy boots, their smooth lead of total end.
It whispers in my ear, it is a blue breeze that holds a song waiting under heavy rocks. It whispers… there is a small white flower, a flower easily overlooked and forgotten, only a little girl with bright eyes in a landscape bleached of color. Only she will see the petals before they wither and crack in the sun.
I watch tin roofs that hang by threads. Soil has turned to dust, for the rain has found other places to drench. I see myself in the window, a strange reflection in the afternoon sun. I am spotted in the remnants of dew, I am a silhouette, only a shade different than the surrounding mountains and thirsty crops.
As we leave, I take a thin breath. A pain burns from within, coating my throat, stroking it like the hot hand of Satan, up and down my windpipe, down my vertebrae and into the ligaments of my toes and back up through my torso, escaping out through my fingertips, lingering in a spiral below the crown of my head.
What I see dries my eyes, leaves me without tears, without a drop of moisture in my mouth of desert and skin of old parchment. I am old, a thousand rings surround me. I find myself without a drop of life, breathing in only more heat, more sorrow, more dried up dirt and old wrinkles that had never seen the clouds. But from the front of my soul, something burns and the part of me that dies is like the weeds I never knew I was. I am quiet, but I burn. The worn streets sweep something into my memory, a feeling I cannot contain, an energy that seeks a cup, that reaches out with hungry hands to hold and grasp a metal chalice. I open a door once nailed shut. These people with their rough skin and old eyes, they speak of the conquerors, they talk of disease and death and boils, the masses of hungry, oppressed, searching for a road beyond the small corner they have been given. I shined a light into that small adobe cave, I looked with all the eyes I had, writing, talking, seeing what was there, searching for the answers that tried to evade me like pregnant clouds.
There was a light, a road that traveled a thousand years to end up at my toes, moving up and down, playing games with my limbs and organs until it spurted out, drenching the land with water, creating a road that would last another thousand years, turning past wide stones and tiny sprouts. Water pressed against the rocks, pushing in like woman with soft, giving curves, but it kept moving, never staying, never resting.
The train moves and I watch them walk with their wide hats and their children that look into the sun. There are girls that know of need and dust, dust that finds its way in, working itself into every crevasse, coming in through the ears, through the stomach, seeping in with the toes. They walk along their paths, they walk with wide brimmed hats, they walk with skin dry and cracking, for the hands of their masters had ruined the sprouts, had taken away the rain.
I began to bubble, I could not watch their hats disappear over the mountain crests. I could not continue along this mechanical route made of wooden beams and metal and thick nails. As it poured from my skin, an 'it' which I cannot describe fully, because to see it is to feel. To watch from a train window, to hold their stories, to give your tears for theirs that cannot flow, to hold a thirsty child and see an indifferent hand move through the air sweeping every bit of life into a metal vacuum…to see this is to feel It. To burn from the toes, to burst from the skin.
What I see moves in shades of black and white, screaming of gray and crying for the missing red. The dust, that ever-present dust was talking, finding its way in through my ears, finally ready after all these years to really hear. To simply observe and move on would have been one route. There were a thousand trains, each headed in another direction.
There was the island, there was the medical position, there was Cuba, there was the girl that needed attending, there were a thousand ways, some that I cannot name and describe, some that float by like leaves on a river, floating away before I can even see a shade and shape.
There are so many trains, there were, and I touched them with my hands, feeling the electricity of each, the pulsing hearts, the rhythmic pounding. Some were safe, in some I saw bullets and sticky blood. There were a thousand and I touched them with my fingertips, moving towards the one in which I sit, staring out a window at broken houses and dry people and land that has stopped crying, for there are no tears to spare. I sat with them in hunger, felt their need, the desire of all humanity, the hearts one step away from silence. I sat and touched them with my fingertips, drew in their breath and smell, weaving them into me, turning them into paintings that are colored in black and white and vibrant red.

Friday, November 12, 2010

In The Moment


She wiggled in bed. At some points she was purely wiggling, her body moving huge blasts of energy in unpredictable bursts from toes to fingertips and then back again. Other times she convulsed, her torso lunging forward with wild power that rivaled thunderstorms and bursts of natural fury. Her arms, legs and torso moved without her consent, buckling on their own, reacting to energy that had reached a peak. Her mouth opened, letting out sounds that broke the boundary between moan, pain and pleasure.
She had reached the mountaintop, a place that had once burst with rainbow colored hand gliders and parachutes. She used to sail down the rocky cliff-side on gusts of earth-scented wings, content to fall once again to the place she had come from. Now, it was the same mountain and the same breeze with its salty smell. It was the same place, but she was not jumping. She stayed at the top, holding hands with the man that had brought her there, holding onto him as the wind tried to push them over the edge and back towards the waiting ground.
And now she held back, holding onto the strings, breathing in spite of the breeze and the cries of energy that desperately wanted to move up and over, falling back to where she had once been when her clothes were on and the bed was still uncrumpled and her mouth unkissed. But she was here now, pulling tighter on the strings as the roar began and the convulsions started.
‘uuuuahhhh’ she let out a sound into his bearded cheek.
He lay still as her body twitched beside his, breathing gently, showing her how to relax.
She took in big gulps of air, holding them, forcing her body to breathe slowly, to do what she could feel was happening beside her.
Another convulsion.
Time passed, ones turned into fives, fives turned the clock until the birds sang outside his barred window and her breathing returned to normal. The hand gliders and parachutes melted back into her bloodstream, sitting eagerly on the edge awaiting another opportunity.
Soon she was getting dressed. Pulling on her jeans, her socks, stuffing her bra into her sweater pocket. It was probably cold out, as it had been when she arrived. She put on her jacket, her scarf and gave him a kiss goodbye.
She started her car on the street beside his house and began the short drive to her house which was just a few blocks away. The streets were empty and she began to think, going back to just a few moments before, back to the bed, back to the warm skin that was not her own, yet was. A part of her leapt away, once again wishing to be there, to be with him, not just kissing, not just touching, it was the mountain, the fall over the edge, the sinking into the abyss. She craved that, though they did not jump.
She spoke, ‘you cannot be in a constant state of orgasm, not like the kind you are wishing for.’
She guided her car down the small ramp beneath the subway platform. She remembered she could be happy. ‘Be here. You can be happy with him in bed, but when you are here, driving, you can be happy too.’
She looked at the road, at the subtle curve ahead. She sunk into the curve, putting her full attention on the shift of the yellow line. She turned the wheel of the car with her whole body, feeling pleasure as the car moved. Feeling the dark night coming through all the car’s windows. She smiled.
She thought about all the things she did, all the places she went, all the times she could just be happy if she just remembered to enjoy it. It was hoping for other things, longing for the bed, for his skin, ultimately for the mountaintop, it was the longing for something else. It was the torturous road she liked to walk.
She drove along the dark road, through the two lanes of parked cars. She could be there, in the car, driving, not wishing for someone else, something else.
Not needing anything to happen differently.
She felt that truth wash over her, she understood the source of her daily pain. Her body vibrated with the kisses from the mountain top while her body relaxed into the night around her and the slow drive towards home.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Abandoning Desire


I abandon desire and let go of jealousy.

It is my prayer but the ears are closed and the mouth cannot move. My eyes close and I see the sphere of the world mounting over a black horizon. I am naked and the stars begin to fall in mathematical succession, one after the other, falling like beats on the measure. It is precise and I try to grab them with my extra arms but they slip like butter through cracks in the sidewalk, they fall and take the light with them.

I abandon desire and let go of jealousy.

I hear screaming in the distance, a tight space with black bricks and stale smoke that feels like mud as it enters me and smells of old tomatoes. The screams circles me with its sharp shrillness, circling me endlessly like the dark sun that cannot explode, a sun collapsing in on itself, taking every bit of matter with it.

I abandon desire and let go of jealousy.

The chains around my heart cannot let go. The rust is there, the reddish brown crust, the dark spots and hints of green. The links clink and add to the melancholy of the inverted sun. The chains are strung up like Christmas lights in a forgotten memory. Faded yellow and blue, purple that looks like pink. Those thick chains are nailed into old black bricks that have taken on the scent of old tomatoes and cigars. Walls and walls, chain after chain.

I abandon desire and let go of jealousy.

I walk naked through a dark barren landscape, I feel small pebbles beneath my toes and watch the falling stars. My white skin calls to the animals with red bulging eyes. Froth gathers at the corners of my mouth as I imagine my own destruction, a sun cannibalizing the galaxy.

I abandon desire and let go of jealousy.

A soft breeze moves over me as I move up and down on a swing. It is day and I can taste the smell of jasmine on my tongue. Another thought that springs from a time that never existed. Was it a song? A nursery poem? The breeze continues playing its tune over the curving contour of my torso, finding places to hide, finding darkness even on a summer day.

I abandon desire and let go of jealousy.

It is my hope. But I feel the relentless pull. Thick black hands cling to my ankles like serpents from the hell dimension. The wind comes over the horizon, finding me still naked, finding me with pebbles below my toes and hidden stars below my breasts.

I abandon desire and let go of jealousy.

And with the fall, and as I watch, I crumble into the void that opens wet and wide to accept me. It takes in the falling stars, the inverted sun, the pebbles and sticks and the wind that longs for a place to rest.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reminder


The TV was on and its volume was turned very low. I watched the bright Technicolor images move across the screen though eyes that were almost ready to shut. Letting my body melt into the plush suede cushions, I held the remote in one limp hand, ready for another attack of toothpaste and car insurance ads.
In front of me, people in bikinis and board shorts were furiously diving through a pool of mud, frantically rooting through the mess for little bags of sand in an attempt to reach the blue finish line ahead of the pack. As the screams of the contestants came through the living room speakers, I heard a faint sound from the other room, something foreign to the sound of cheering and sloshing that came to me through electric magic and science, or science that was so amazing, it was magic. Aiming the remote at the cable box, I turned the volume even lower and strained my ears for the sound, had I heard something?
Waiting…fixing my eyes on the hardwood floor…waiting…there it was, a little cry.
I left my embedded place on the couch and opened the door to the babies' room, where two dark wooden cribs sat against opposing walls, perhaps clearly defining the roles they would one day assume when they were grown men and left their wooden cribs and baby blankets.
Jonas, the six month old and the younger of the two, was crying. As I looked into the crib, I saw him on his back, his little legs wriggling in his sleeping bag-like-jumpsuit that covered both his legs. His tiny hands were balled up in fists.
Reaching into the crib and pulling his little body towards mine, his cries came up to envelop me. He was unable to clearly say what bothered him, but something was not quite right. Was it the lack of light? Was he lonely in his crib surrounded by only darkness and tall bars? I brought him to my chest, covering his body with my arms, stroking his head of thin silk hair, bringing him as close to my heart as I could.
I remembered the song practiced years ago while standing in a circle of three in a dimly lit room, it was the melody I strained to reach when it leapt up the scale. I sang it here now, in this dark room. I sang it for Jonas, ‘nothing ever has happened, nothing ever will happen…”
Over and over, the two line song came out, reaching up and then descending only to start over once again. He stopped crying quickly and I held him in front of me, propping his jumpsuit covered legs on my stomach. Jonas looked at me with alert wide eyes, eyes that were quickly turning from baby blue to a metallic brown. He wiggled slightly, his body bobbing and moving with currents of electricity and unanswered curiosity.
I stopped singing and looked into him, seeing nothing that can be explained, defined, or understood.
“You know,” I said clearly, “nothing has ever happened, nothing ever will happen.”
His eyes widened. We went into each other then, me looking into him looking into me. I understood it. Him looking into me looking into him, understanding.
There was no woman, no baby, no crib or parents at a party. There was no game show on a television in the other room and no sore muscles from a day standing in the sun.
Here the words made sense, in a chamber of feelings without words. In this place, we were the same thing, two parts of the same fabric, not separated by bodies and memories or contorted into a canvas of unequal shapes and designs where egos dance.
I had spoken and we both had heard. His sudden jolting was mine as well. Oh yes, nothing has ever happened. Nothing ever will happen. Nothing ever has. Nothing ever will.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Beauty Of Loss


I see thousands of pretty sights.

There are lush and delicate weeping willows whose long drooping branches blow gently in the hot September breeze. I glimpse them as my car continues along at 45 an hour on a newly paved street. I smile, seeing the contrast between the long green branches covered in tiny leaves and the dried up hillsides in the background. I know I will never be here again.

Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look.

I am sitting in front of a bread bowl of clam chowder in Monterey. My parents and sister share the wooden table of the restaurant with me. I look up through the front of the restaurant which only has a wide-open roll up door, there is no barrier between us and the foggy day outside. There I see her, walking on the worn wooden pier. A young woman with short dark hair and dark eyes. She’s wearing a low-brimmed hat from the 20s which covers her eyebrows. For a second I see her. She’s smiling brightly, her eyes revealing flirtation and mischief as she turns to someone behind her and smiles even more broadly. She looks like a painting, like a vision. Her body keeps moving though her head and eyes are focused on something behind, a young man, I imagine.

I see thousands of pretty sights. Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look. Each worthy of a photo but I can’t even grab it fast enough.

I’m on a train weaving through the Italian countryside. It’s fall and the sky is heavy with gray clouds. As we move at seventy miles an hour, I catch a glimpse of lives beyond the train window. Women hanging up their laundry on old cords between barren trees. Huge persimmon trees with bulbs of orange fruit hanging like Christmas lights on a dark fall day. An old woman walking with a bramble of sticks balanced on her head.

I see thousands of pretty sights. Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look. Each worthy of a photo but I can’t even grab it fast enough. They roll in me, through me and pass by just as quickly.

There are people sunbathing on a long cement wall buffered from the Mediterranean by a few dozen feet of large white rocks. I watch the hundreds of sunbathers through the tempered glass of an air-conditioned bus. On my ears are large headphones pumping the hard beats of a Bjork song. As each beat drills into my ears I match it with my eyes, jumping from one person to the other. The tan lovers, the older man laying down his towel, the group of girls sweating in the sun, the mother and toddler. A collection of people moving past me in perfect rhythm to the sounds in my ears. I quickly grasp the moment, feeling its preciousness slipping with each second. The song will end, the cement wall will not go on forever, the bus will change lanes. Soon it will end but as I watch I am struck with each moment of beauty. They mark me as I pass, weaving their way inside without even seeing me inside the bus. I wonder how I could even look at them without the music, they fit so perfectly together. But as the song ends, coming artfully to a close, the bus shifts and the wall ends. Tears rush to my eyes.

I see thousands of pretty sights. Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look. Each worthy of a photo but I can’t even grab it fast enough. They roll in me, through me and pass by just as quickly. I gasp and cry, letting salty tears pay the price for the beauty that moves past, forever marking me, for a passing moment, making me remember.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rockabye Baby

I heard him from the living room as I was browsing TV listings with a responsive remote, heard the small little gasps he made seeking air to fill his little lungs. By the time I opened the door to his bedroom, the gasps were turning into high pitched wails. I reached into the wooden crib and opened my hands for his little body, bringing him to my chest. I carried him from the room, leaving his brother in the arms of his own dreams in the darkness.
“What’s wrong baby?” I asked with concern, giving his downy covered head a few soft kisses.
In the dim light of the hall, just a few steps from the kitchen, he was not consoled. Wiggling in my arms between gasps for air, his face contorted into a red mess of anger. A sudden fear ran through me, “he’s choking.” I held him upright and patted his back and he cried harder. He wasn’t choking, just mad.
“What’s wrong baby?” I asked with a smile, looking at him.
His face was completely red and his little mouth opened wide with each wail, showing the pink soft gums that would one day house two rows of teeth.
Cradling him in my arms, we went back into his bedroom, I groped around his cradle for the pacifier I expected to find in the left corner. When my hands found nothing, I turned on the light to look again, I still didn’t see it, though I had the memory of his father placing it there earlier. I took a quick look at Noah sleeping in the other crib against the wall, his body in a contorted angle on one side, undisturbed by the noise.
Jonas continued to scream, and we walked back into the hall, taking a few steps to the kitchen. Moving him into another position in my arms, I scanned the kitchen, searching for another pacifier and finding one the side of his automated jumper. I inserted the pacifier into his open, crying mouth, he did not latch on.
I brought him into the living room and sat on the suede couch. I sat him on my lap.
“What’s wrong baby?” I asked smiling at him.
I kissed his head again, feeling the few wisps of his silken hair on my lips. I tried the pacifier again, he didn’t want it.
“What’s wrong baby?”
Not a bit of anger or agitation in my voice, just pure questioning.
“What’s wrong honey?”
I tried holding him in a variety of ways, but nothing seemed soothe him.
Then my eyes fell on the mechanical baby swing by the window. I tried to lower him into the seat, bumping his little head on the three stuffed animals that dangled from the upper plastic arm of the mobile. I realized that his legs couldn’t spread because of the baby suit he was in, it was like a sleeping bag over his legs that snapped at his chest like a vest. I pulled him towards me again, brushing his head against the stuffed hanging animals once more. I let out a little embarrassed laugh and his little face scrunched tighter.
I unsnapped his jumper and then his legs were free, I lowered him into the seat. There was a seatbelt, but I didn’t worry about snapping him in. I sat right in front of him, just inches away and turned on the swing.
“Rockabye baby, on the tree top…”
I held out my two index fingers and he grasped them, holding on tight with his own little fingers. I looked at him, his eyes were still all scrunched up and wet, his mouth was open, showing his red gums.
“when the wind blows, the cradle will rock…”
On the edge of my mind, I remembered the preschool I had worked in for a week, one of the little boys there liked the song, “itsy bitsy spider,” and we sang it to him over and over when he was crying.
“when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.”
I opened my eyes wide as I sang, smiling at him.
After repeating the song several times, insisting on the melody, his crying slowed, then eventually stopped.
He looked at me, with his eyes that were turning from blue to brown. They would open wide as I reached for the high notes with my voice. I pushed on him gently with my fingers even though the machine was rocking him, pushing just a little so he could feel me. He looked at me, seeing me, seeing deeper than what was available in the mirror. I looked into him, seeing beyond the baby, seeing a universe of beings.
“Rockabye baby, on the tree top…”
As I sang, and as his crying became a thing of the past, he would break out into a quick smile every now and then when our contact grew strong, then he would sharply turn his head to the left or the right, grasping for something with his open mouth.
I kept singing, kept looking at him, kept providing a bit of pressure with my fingers as he rocked up and down on the swing. He repeatedly returned my contact, his eyes opening wide from time to time, perhaps seeing sound and feeling color. Between phrases I would purse my lips and blow on him gently, letting my breath move across his soft face.
Experimenting, I stopped singing for a moment. When I did, his body would start to squirm once again, preparing to cry.
“rockabye baby, on the tree top…”
I started to forget the lines, or I was repeating them so much, it seemed like there were lines I had skipped, but I kept going, dropping any armor and image, just giving my rawest self.
Soon, I felt like improvising and started making up another melody. From time to time, I went out of tune, and found it difficult to get back. I kept my eyes open, a smile on my face even when I remembered another me that would care about performance.
But here, with him, my desired image was easily dropped. I felt only love for this being in a little body. We could be together without my human ways, I could give my voice to him, calm him, love him with my most intuitive self.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Mute Girl


There were always three favorites in any school election, it had been that way in Zephar High School since the beginning of the institution in 1936. Through the clothing and hair styles had changed with the times, the three teenage archetypes prevailed through each decade.
There was what would become known as the “Brittany,” the one who most fit a Hollywood version of beauty. She was busty, thin, pale, symmetrical and had a boyfriend in various forms since the fifth grade.
There was the “Chad,” the masculine counterpart to the Brittany. He was muscular, athletic and strapping, had a deep voice and fit the magazine version of male.
Then there was another viable frontrunner, a decent looking, if not a little awkward girl or guy who ran not just on popularity and body, but veered more towards principles than the other two, believing, truly, idealistically, perhaps naively, that they could do something unique for the school body.
This year, as in all years, there was a chance for a few select sophomores to join the reigning school senate, made up of Brittanies, Chads, and a few na├»ve faces. There was one significant detail that made this year’s elections worth noting, for as far as Den could tell, the school yearly ritual was just as lame as the one that washed through the country every few years. But this time, there were not just the usual candidates, but a fourth one as well.
The mute girl was running.
According to the pollsters from the statistics class, the mute girl’s chance of winning was whispered to be extremely low, since no one communicated with her or even knew her name. The sign up in front of the office, alerting the school of her intention, just said, “MUTE GIRL, 2009.” No one sat with her at lunch or walked home with her after school. She stood alone in a school of 2000, not one person taking the time to read her notebook scribbles.

Den sat at his desk in Spanish 4, staring into the back of the mute girl who sat in the front row. He thought back to last year’s student election, John and Ivan were defeated by the prettier Laura. He wondered if muscle would replace breasts this year. Or maybe idealism would trump muscle. What would the mute girl offer?
All the posters and speeches and promises, it seemed a bit pointless to Den. Besides adding a vending machine with soda, what had the student senate ever done?
The school was the same drab institution it had always been. They all still sat in rows of uncomfortable plastic seats, read the same old books that had been in the mandated curriculum for 30 years, there were lots of tests and teachers that seemed to only be waiting for retirement or summer break. Everyone learned what they needed to learn for tests and then quickly forgot it. The students were powerless, and the elections only made a joke out of them. It was the illusion of some sort of democracy, but the school had a clear hierarchical structure and Den wondered why everyone went along with the game.
Den’s enemy were the school administrators, he disliked each one he recognized and he knew there were dozens more in unmarked office buildings in the center of town, others in the state capital, still others in the presidential administration. He disliked them all, hated what they imposed on the students of the country- the same standardized tests, the plastic chairs and hard top desks and school lunches.
The student body was akin to factory farms, a processing plant of breathing, living things that came out dead on the other end. The elections were the same thinly veiled joke as the American democracy, promoting the illusion of power in the hands of the people. All the administrators smiled and went along with the elections, like parents nodding and laughing at their children’s buffoonery, smiling through teeth stained with a thousand cups of coffee, smiling and knowing it was all a sham.
The same type of people were elected year in and year out. It was a title to put on college applications and resumes for the local retail jobs that hired teenagers, but nothing more, at least nothing that Den could see. So why was that girl running? What had made the mute girl decide to run?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Intimate Space


I watch with an open mouth. I try to shut my mouth, but it doesn’t seem possible to sit from this balcony’s edge and look onto the yellow and gold light of the stage without wide open lips. It doesn’t feel right to watch with a closed mouth. I note that I’m breathing though my nose and let the jaw hangs as it wants. A part of me keeps pulling my attention to look to the left, looking for a hand, an eye, a sentence whispered. I feel the tide pulling out towards the west, but I follow my mouth and move forward, giving my heart a center seat. I push my body forwards, my body moves north and I follow.

I look from the cellist to the drummer, jump like a pinball of shiny silver attention from the drummer to the guitarist, from the piano to the violin, from the violin to the conductor with cards and a waving baseball hat in his right hand. He puts the card down, picks up another, places the hat on his head. All hands are up, 14 hands. Pointing. A smile from the beaming violinist.

The balcony melts into a garage, we watch their improv session, not a concert, but a group of people playing, laughing, it’s fun and I somehow have a voyeur’s eye into their moment of creation. A few hundred eyes share their intimate space, scrunched tighter than usual, the lights are hot, but it is theirs. A sphere of intense communication, not an eye darts away. They stay together, moving up, where we could go if we keep on working.

My ears hear noise with only an occasional nod towards melody. My eyes see something, translate gesture into music for my slower ears. I coax my mind into relaxing, let it jump from yellow headband to waving hat, a hand over the mic and guttural bursts of energy. 14 instruments, taking turns, jumping, one eye towards the center in camouflage that’s disguised by the stage, one eye moving always around the semi-circle, those ears which remain open, an entire body like a cup full of hot water that remains still without burning. Pointing, the smiles, hands raised, another quick end, then a jump into rhythm.

I watch their eyes, yearn for something like that. They are talking, I can hear their words come out like screams and vibrato. Zorn writes something down on a piece of paper, he closes the cap of his pen. In the back is a man with a glowing Mac, his left hand moves delicately in the air and I hear corresponding sounds move towards us through the speakers. To his right is a balloon. A dark haired man licks the plastic world, I feel his wet tongue and the sex of a man and pink balloon.

They start fast, building into a fever pitch that starts to turn black, then moves towards red but never falls over the edge into green. The vocals, going so rapidly, the vocals, dark screams into a microphone, the smile, so insistent and so close to the floor.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Abraxas

The way out lies beyond the shell. It is hard and white and so solid it seems like I might stay here forever. So I think this might be my beginning and my death. The way out lays beyond this space, this tunnel of softness covered in thick syrup of ever-giving life. The way out is beyond this wall, an obstacle that I have been dreading, a feat requiring all my will. To live, it must break. To live, I must move through the wall. The egg is the world, the spinning earth on which all other eggs sit. They all wait, behind thin shells that keep like concrete. Waiting behind thin flesh filled with warmth and thick pieces of flesh that house our dreams.
I wait to be born. I await my death. The world awaits, holds still, takes a small breath. The hand is coming. The mouth with its beak and sharp teeth. My eyes that come with lasers and my fist for smashing. The world is out there. The shell sits, waiting for a crack. It sees the splinters, the house in ruins with forgotten windows and missing people and all the sadness of a world of missing dreams. They have all flown.
The world sits, waiting. God is in here. God is out there, waiting. We wait while it all spins. We wait while the rain spills over a thousand shells and full bellies. Our fists bang on the walls, our mouths suck on the food that spills into us without thought.
I see Abraxas in my dreams. God of 365 heavens, creator of my demons and my fists, creator of my beak and my shell.
There is a bird that flies overhead, it is a raven ringing a bell. It signals the birth of a fist, the first hammer that opened onto a desolate world. A world of lush vegetation stripped of its sheen and poetry. A world of sad promises left undone.
There is a bird out there, a cracked shell and tiny splinters. There is a fist. There is a world out there, a shell, an egg, an unborn hand ready to strike.
I must move through this wall. I must crack this shell, for the sky awaits another kiss. There is a bird out there, it is a raven, a bell rings in the distance, another death on a mountainside. Another fist is now born.
It is god’s world, the world of Abraxas and his spawn. His angels and demons, his lineage corrupted and his jewels that sparkle. All are in the sky and sprout little arms in my mind. All surround the egg, my world, both cursing and laughing. Watching for both life and the crumbles to come.
What comes must fight. What must be born will struggle, I will push against the hard forward wind. What comes must clench and grit and hit.
It is the egg. The spawn of the perverted seed. The angel with black wings calls from above, ringing a bell. I hear it through the wall of my shell, so curved and smooth. So absolutely thick it is the mountainside of my womb.
Who is it that calls from the mountaintop? Who knows of my arrival?
I come to destroy that which has made me. I will turn towards the east and then rise into the night, this fist that will move through the first wall and then find another thousand waiting behind what is left.
Brick and flesh.
It will be me, my birth, my flight into the night.
It is his name, his name that I seek.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lineage of Desire

The family continues. Or it, as an organism, desires to continue. Despite murder, after betrayal and retribution, after an affair stained with indecent thoughts, the family continues. It is a lineage that travels though blood, mingling and marrying, sharing saliva and mucus, eventually forming other, smaller life forms, who in turn, reach out with tentacle-like arms to find those with a slight taste for blood and reflexes that can easily pull a trigger.
The family continues. It is the desire and impulse, not only of two-legged mammals that claim dominion over the earth, but in every creature that fucks and dies. To continue on, to multiply, to produce more. It is programmed so deep we don’t need brains, even single cells divide and divide and divide, creating more of themselves, not all too different from the warm blooded beings we call offspring. And though our babies cry and smile, it is nearly the same movement through generations, each new life engendered by the one preceding it.
In an old story told to me at a young, open age, it was Abraham who was asked by God to take the life of his son. It was a child hard to come by and with a quick slice of the knife the boy would die and the lineage might end, which would be the greatest of tragedies, but Abraham was willing to make the sacrifice.
My parents told me that story, and now they sit it their marble house, waiting as the clock ticks and no grandchildren are born, it is the greatest of tragedies. For when I die, they will die. The little branch will end, snubbed out, finally, after dozens of incarnations.
In my immediate family, the entire younger generation is female. There are six cousins, all female. Two of my cousins have children, all three of them are girls. Growing up, it was assumed I would have children. But as a minuscule deviate, I always imagined they would carry my last name. In my name I felt all the generations before mine and as a tribute, as a way to preserve them, I thought the most important thing to do was continue the family name, to insist that the next generation not assume the names of their fathers.
It seemed so important. I wanted the family to continue, not just in bodies, but in name. In name as a symbol.
It is different now. Entire species of animals go extinct under the hand of an indifferent man that uses the earth’s plants and soil for profit. Races of humans are taken out, babies are killed for preemptive retribution, one name seems to make little difference.
Is it the wish of every being to keep living? A life eternal, maybe not in their first body, but in the smaller bodies that come after them. Can my child take what I have not finished and redeem me? Can they carry on and change what I have failed? Is this the hope of any parent, that their failings will be altered, the dark memories of their lives changed for the better?
I sit on the edge of this bed and look at the white wall, there is no one who will redeem me, my failings will be my own. Each jealous outburst, each painting left undone, they will be mine. Those are the curses of the invisible generations and their echoes will reverberate through time, just as I carry the unfinished goals and dreams of the generations who never saw me, the ones that exist in faded photographs and memories that I can no longer retrieve.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What I Wonder


What would the choice be? If lights were coming down, blinking and spinning, twirling with red, blue and white like psychedelic lollipops from beyond the bluest parts of the sky. What would I do?
The grass is swaying in the wind, rustling from side to side in the abnormal breeze. Mailboxes are popping open, the fridge door opens and slams shut every second. Nothing is how I know it. The books fly from the shelves, every loose-leaf bit of paper is airborne. None of this makes sense. When the blender whips through the air of my kitchen and the night sky beyond the window is alive with colors I have yet to discover, what will I do?
Maybe I start to run with all the adrenaline my body can find. Do I step back from the porch into the safety of the doorway, moving slowly into the hallway while my hand latches the flimsy lock? Will I run to save my life, this life that I think of as so valuable and precious. Unique and unlike all other lives. Would you find me under the blankets, breathing as shallow as possible though my chest beats out like hands on a tin drum. What would I do if The Other came to me with flashing lights, red and blue lights and hard gusts of hot air?
I see myself running, jumping over chain link fences and scraping my knees as I fall clumsily to the ground. I can see a tiny scared body hiding in the dark of a closet, my eyes closed and mouth rattling off a small prayer. I feel fear running through me like monstrous rivers, seeping out of every finger and toe.
I see these visions and ask myself, what would I do?
Would I walk towards the ship, my fear held tightly, controlled by a will forged in years of practice.
I walk towards the ship to see what lies just beyond the top of the metal stairs. I walk, hearing an inner voice, ‘Look,’ it says, ‘see what will happen.’ Can I take that step? Will I die? Will I fly? Will I ever look back and see their faces, looking towards me with fear and curiosity.
Or maybe I will take a tiny first step and glance back, seeing all that I have left and sacrificed. Will they hate me? Will they ever know what has happened to me? They will know that I went with a smile, holding hands with the Other, happiness and wonderment radiating out of me like a brilliant sun.
Maybe like now, I will step forward cautiously, taking backward glances, stepping forward, little by little, until the door opens. I walk slowly towards the space lit from inside, but it could shut at any moment. Will I act quickly enough? Will I curse myself afterwards when it closes? Will I walk towards that light, those things that my mind can still not define?
It is the Other, and I reach to try and grasp it, though it slips through the language I have learned. Will I learn new sounds, a simple pentatonic language with clear signals? Without words, will I be able to push my essence through the sounds without concept till they find other ears.
I do not want to run with fear, but my feet seem to carry me away. They are brains with tennis shoes that move on impulse. They run towards small solid corners and little boxes. I see myself running, but I do not want to be that character. The human defending the human. The machine defending the machine. I do not want to play that type of role.
But I have not come far enough. Fear still shoots through me like comets, coming and staining my body before I even realize the atmosphere was breached. Unless I work, I will be the hysterical woman shouting for the world to return to normal. I want the dishes and the clean rugs. I want the plants in their proper pots and the fence in the yard. I am that woman, though I get glimpses of the other one. The woman in dreams that smiles and hops on the back of a bike. The woman that takes the hand of a stranger, calling him by name. I am that woman too, a little of each. A lot of machine, a little bit of amazement that lies hidden under the metal plates and gears.
I need to poke holes in the armor. I need that rustoleum and that pickax. I need to make it crumple. The amazing voyage is here, in my backyard and beaming into my room. It is already here and I need to step towards that brilliant, skin-burning light.
I will leave those kids and pets. I will sacrifice those familial ties and the life of shopping and the mall and beer drinking. It will fall like dead skin and I will walk up the metal platform, holding onto the hand of the Other, watching in amazement as the door shuts and we rise into the dark night. Moving forward and up, towards a new home in the stars.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Deer Hunter


Everything was known. The limits of the rural town punctuated in the center with smoke stacks, the babushka that walked slowly to church every afternoon, even in the snow. The tiny grocery store that was stocked and always full of etched recognizable faces. Everything was known. There wasn’t a stone he hadn’t seen, not a person he couldn’t call by name. Those friends he had known since infancy, boys he had grown up with until they were full chested men ready to serve god and their country.

He could walk the streets of the town blindfolded. He could walk from his house, down the narrow treeless drive and go down the hill, knowing exactly as he was passing the Mason’s house, walking steadily as the street sloped until the shops of downtown appeared, he could smell them, could imagine their worn shutters and screen doors. Following the street, he could walk towards the edge of town delineated by the raised train tracks that created a tiny tunnel for the semi trucks that hurtled through town towards the plant.

Every breath he took came from that air, every sip of water fell towards his sink from the mountain chain in the distance. Everything was known. His friends with their worn out jokes, the clear beer glasses and the familiar bar. The seasons shifted, colors changed from orange to white to green to yellow and then back once more. Trucks came and went, paychecks were delivered and cashed. It was a familiar rhythm of gentle movement, but everything seemed to stay the same, it was all known.

But sometimes they escaped. Filling the car with the bodies he had grown up with, bringing along their guns and cans of food, they would drive recklessly to the purple mountains, going up and up the curving slopes until the air was thinner and colder, until thousands of trees did not appear to be the same and instead looked different and new. He would walk with the only man he trusted, climbing boulders in clear silence while they tracked the signs of antlers and nibbled leaves. He saw her walking through the trees, evading him, almost. He went towards it, taking her down with one shot, because even the other bleeds.

He drove back recklessly to the known, down the dark slope towards the familiar lights of the bar. There was blinking neon sign with its comforting welcome, the pool table, the waiting frosting mugs, that smell which was so familiar he could no longer distinguish it from his own.

And then he was taken away. A big jet engine and a uniform and god and country gave him the ride. He went to where the syllables all sounded different, where bodies lay for the flies and even babies were red targets. There the familiar memories crumbled and the smell on him changed. He couldn’t walk blindfolded here, there was jungle and bombs and soaring bullets. He managed to keep his breath and mind and was eventually flown back to the known.

But when he saw the smoke stacks and roads and faces it was not the same. They were the same, but he was different. A part of the other remained in him, hollowing out the familiar and turning it into images that rubbed at his heart, touching it all the wrong way.

He drove towards the mountains again, doing what he knew, what he had always done. He brought his gun and his cans and walked slowly and quietly, just as he had always done, following the nibbled leaves and the traces of antlers.

When he saw her, a wide body and dark eyes staring back at him, he did what he always did, raising his gun. One shot, that was what he always wanted. But the other stared back at him, and this time, he saw. He had been changed and this time, there was no need to shoot.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Within


Do you fear her? That woman with skin different than yours, with eyes that reflect only pure fire and determination?
Do you fear him? That man that lives a world away…whose sounds seem like rocks scattering on pavement.
Does their stare cover you with cold?

If you fear them, then fear yourself, for you are the man with icy words and you are the woman with death giving eyes.
You are what you think you aren’t.

So fear yourself. Fear the parts of you that remain covered in blankets and lies. Fear the self which hides, escaping only in gasps and bursts of red.

All that is not you is you.
All the things called evil, all the shades describes as dark, all the hairy monsters from fairy tales… they cling to your heart by invisible tendrils. They sleep in the caves you hide, in the places you cannot see.

An oval mirror hangs from the clouds, shining light upon a stage.
I am absolutely, completely oblivious to the Other within me. You…inside me.
It is there.
It is the dot of black in a canvas of white. The one dot.

In a clear blue pond resides a single pebble. Not just water, not just liquid…the Other.

I turn to look at the executives in their high rise suites with disgust. I cry when I hear about the man who could kill a young girl…I watch the bear in terror. I view them as totally separate. As something I could never be, of something I am not.
But that is a blind man’s fantasy. I am all the terror that could ever exist. I am the brute, the animal, the psychotic. I am the woman wearing a machine gun, the young girl holding bananas.

Everything I think I am not, I already am.
Right inside where I do not look, where I coat everything in a golden veneer and self righteous pride.
I am the bigot. I am the pebble in a blue lake, the single seed in a ripe piece of fruit.

Perhaps each twinge of pain can be a reminder. Every time I look at the dusty face of a man I think I could never be. It already exists. It is now. Just like I am nothing, I am everything. Every tendency, every shape, every manifestation of the human and its habits, every shift of energy that flows unabated.

There is no need to fear the Other.
I am the Other.
There is no need to fear the other.
I fear myself.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Executive Decisions


I once considered them monsters. Men without conscience in dark expensive suits and gelled back hair that reeked with the scent of hundred dollar bills and imported cologne. I pictured them as clearly as a dream, surrounded by smoke and ash, rising higher as they trampled over bodies in their shiny leather shoes. They never thought about the blood or the oil, the trash they left or the babies born without arms and organs. Men who lived so far away from the rubble and graves that their gated bubbles allowed in only certain parts of reality. Reality that smelled only of roses, filled only with the sound of cartoon cash registers opening and closing. Cha-ching!

Late at night, surrounded by books and pipes and stories I could hardly bear, I cried. How did those monsters sleep and move and breathe? How could a mirror not crumble with their stare? Were they just hollow shells of flesh, content with their bank accounts and fresh strawberries in winter and champagne at every meal? This was the evil in the world, the web of corporations and their flesh-covered robots that breathed in stocks and exhaled only blood. Money was their god. They sucked on half-dollars and bent over for the penetration of rising stock, orgasming into the bright red passing numbers of the trades. Maiming, bodies…it was just part of the game, those born without fortune.

I studied them in school, corporate criminals. Men who pushed hard towards the bottom line, relentless in their pursuit of power and wealth, one begetting the other in a perfect circle. In round table meetings, they decided to knowingly sell faulty cars and tainted food. They used algorithms to determine which would be cheaper, settling the wrongful death lawsuits or a massive auto recall? They were monsters that hid behind a massive establishment, never finding the harsh eyes of the jury upon them.

I thought of them as inhuman, men who could put money before human life.
I thought of them as monsters, until I became one, until I glimpsed the world through their eyes.

Early Saturday morning I loaded up my truck with baskets of fresh baked artisan bread. It was bread I was proud to sell, being both beautiful and delicious. I was in one of the worse neighborhoods in San Francisco, at the very end of Revere St, where the slumping houses gave way to gray warehouses on the edge of the bay. Here, there was graffiti and piles of refuse and old rotten couches on every other corner. Old Victorians sat crumbling, sagging under the weight of years and poverty; and shriveled, skinny prostitutes wandered the streets, looking for another way to score. It was trash and dog shit that littered the streets, and I drove through there every Saturday morning to load my car with handmade bread.

It was an overcast morning, but the air clung to my skin in humid clumps of moisture and I felt the day growing hotter with each minute. My truck was packed with an umbrella, two tables, and all the bread I could hold. There were loaves covered in sesame seeds, others with poppy, a bin of long plain baguettes. I closed the hatch of the truck and walked to the driver’s door, opening it and taking off my thin sweater before I got in. A sound made me look up and towards the back of the open bed truck. I saw a fluttering and before my mind knew what was happening, I was walking towards the bed of the truck, yelling and waving my hands. A tiny bird flew up and away from the bread basket, beating its wings as it dropped a few of the stolen sesame seeds. It flew back to the withered sapling that stood next to the blue door of the warehouse.

I looked into the basket. There were over ten loaves of bread in there, each one covered in bright white sesame seeds and a golden crust. I looked at them, searching for a sign of the bird; a hole, a place without seeds, I could find nothing. An ethical dilemma had been born, brought into existence by a hungry bird and my own conscience. I had no idea which loaves had been contaminated, if any. I just didn’t know. I knew I would not want any loaf in that basket, but I couldn’t just throw the entire basket away…could I? Should I? There was a chance the bread was fine, but there was a chance it was contaminated. It could make people sick. The possibilities played in my mind. Customers retching, wondering what they had eaten.

I got into the car and drove over the bridge to the market.

When the tables were arranged with a red table cloth and all the baskets, I stood, waiting for a customer. I still didn’t know what to do. The first customer of the day was a loyal regular. He reached out and grabbed one of the seeded breads, though luckily he picked one that was close to the edge of the basket, the least likely place to have been touched by the bird. After he left, I walked around the table and inspected the bread leaves another time. I couldn’t see any sign of the bird, but I grabbed the four loaves in the middle, the most likely ones to have been contaminated and put them behind the table.

These were regular customers, how could I knowingly put them in danger? But what if there was no problem, then I was wasting bread. Which was more important, a few sick people or the sale?

I realized it then. I am not pure. In me lies the flecked specks of every monster. In them must lie the sparks of flowers and soft kisses. In me is that which I despise. Now, I could see the bridge.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Judgement


They stand with their arms open, their bodies springing from freshly unearthed graves. At their feet is the earth, once their womb, but something has changed. They are dirty with soot and trails of fallen dew. They stand, the small group of men and women; beside them, three young children. All are pale, as though their time in the ground had been long, so long without sun and air. Now they stand, open, their chests exposed to the sky, their arms open as much as their bodies will allow.

They welcome it. “Judge me,” they say with their hands.

“Judge me,” they call to the heavens, their heads bent back, letting the Real wash over them.

Rolling clouds bubble overhead. The grass beside the open graves quivers.

And what is Judgement? That look, a bit of opinion as I shower you with a stare.
What is Judgement? That bit of presumed knowledge of morality in the symbolic order?
To throw words upon your shrouded body, covering you with a set of expectations I have known almost since birth.

I look at them and see the world through the narrow lens I have chosen to understand it. I watch everything through this porthole. Afloat on a sea of dark mystery, I watch it, a tiny point without reference.

“Bad people are people who do bad things.” I look at that tiny pale body sitting in the car next to me. A little boy so convinced of himself. He is the eye of judgement, a tiny being, clueless, yet so sure of his place.

“Judge me,” the white bodies call.

The angel comes, bringing with it the Real. It is death. The void has no symbolic order, for it is nothing. It is without words, without definable shapes and morality. Step into it like a bath, for the real has come. Open you arms if you can, throw your head back and relish the ecstasy of a new set of eyes. They are doorways, not merely windows. Step up, step inside.

Though their eyes are closed, they see the angel and his red cross. North, south, east, west. The sound comes from the horn at his lips. And it is music, shape without context. Sound without attachment. It has all fallen like a cleansing rain and they welcome him, opening their bodies to a new type of noise.

How many do I judge? I see all of them through the lens of my language. I either assume an understanding, or cross their names from my book, calling them evil and rich. They find a home within the boxes of my aesthetic or I call them ugly and laugh at their pants. I laugh with them if we share the same language, or I squint my eyes and stare, waiting for the sentence to end.

Judgement comes with my language and I throw it out like dice on a filthy street.

Their bodies rise from the earth, covered in soil.
“Judge me,” they say.
No words are necessary. They bask in the void, holding themselves open for a new page to turn.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Apple

I walk through the garden. Light steps. Walking gently on a narrow path of crushed rocks. Fine as gold dust. One clear objective shines like a blue jewel between my eyes, lightly beaming from my smooth pale forehead. To the left, my eyes wander. To the right I look, searching for that one piece of fruit. That one bright and shinning red apple, aglow and pregnant below the bright eyes of the sun. I hold it in my mind, a perfect image, a treasure waiting for my hands and kisses. Calling out for adoration. Red. Alive as all things are. Red like the rivers of blood moving through thin arms. Red like this throbbing pussy that awaits its sword.

I walk with one objective, one bit of reality taking over my mind. That round and sweet fruit. Red. Nothing stops me. Not a warm breeze smelling of jasmine, not a curious flower with twelve soft pink petals and a perfume that smells of the moon and death.

I walk with an ever-present determination, my eyes scanning the sandy ground constantly, looking past the ground up sparkles, searching for the color of deep life. Breathing. A mouth to be kissed. Each step is a new lifetime, another chance. A glance down another path that leads to the sea. Tendrils escape me. I let them go, flying like a curling explosion of laughter and song. They extend to the clouds, sweeping in armfuls of mist and the hopes of air.

I let them go, my eyes searching the dark secrets of trees. Their caves, their shadows. I look, hoping for contact, a gasp escaping its leaves. Will its gift be mine? Will I bite into pale flesh, dripping with desire and sugar, both of us, wanting to be planted. Consumed and turned into something beyond imagination. We will leap past the stagnant shapes of squares and circle, journeying to a place of layered dimension, places undescribed. We are the same. Red and round, ripe and waiting for knowing hands, rough and dirty, full of rain.

I sense that the sun has shifted, that my brother calls my name from a far off field. I can see the white fluffy sheep beside him, herds of cotton and simple stares. The softness of those blades of green, the electric blue of the sky, burning above him like fire. But this shifting, I sense that the air has turned sour, that my brother calls me with a different voice, sounding more like drums than bells. I search the sky for clues, looking, pulling apart clouds with the precision of a hungry animal, pulling limb by limb, bit by bit and muscles tear and bones crumble beneath the force of my hands. I search, hearing my body move like the clocks I left in an old shop. Left and let the door shut quietly as I walked away into the bright daylight.
I hear it once more. This reality is nothing if not the senses, my beating heart, the thump of its call, the sound of its opening and closing valves. What am I if not a beat? A tone in the drummer’s wail…a sound in the dark countryside. What am I if not a blip on the manuscript sheet, just one tiny note, one life.

I am having the clouds for dinner, they melt on me, my tongue and lips turning them into bright colors and words of nourishment. I suck the marrow out from them, sucking like a dog that claims no owner. I am the master. I am the leash. My choking is the grasp of my own hand pulling me in a thousand directions. I am the fire and the pull of the leash, my own master, the dominator of all that is fur and flesh and love. Undying love whose call covers the hills like a thick blanket. Can you hear me brother? Do the sheep flick their ears with my bright call? My message of love which surpasses human ears. It is us, those of fur, those of the earth and dirt, those of the whispy clouds that move like brushstrokes. The night is clear and I am no god. I am the footprint, stamping the earth with my laugh, walking as though there will never be another. I am the trees, the fruit which I seek. The red that covers us in life and sparkle… there is no other. No ground. Perhaps no brother. No fruit. These are my fears. And am I right? I look into the garden and see nothingness. Where is the sheep? The eye that stares without feeling. The eternal colors of green and white, covering me, denying me pleasure, denying me pain. Where is the needle, the cock that sends its message in rhythm… am neither here nor there, a thousand years have passed and I claim no knowledge. Another turn of the path and I wander past the same footsteps, yearning for my brother and his soft sheep, the call that has turned from bells to questions.

They have all shifted with the search. The dogs have turned to mice. The cats above claim the sun as god. Clear minded once, now I dream about other things.
The play has ended and a pile of red roses are at my feet. I search the dark crows, seeing only halos of lights and a roaring of hands. Who are all these people who stare? Light covers them in a fine sheen, but they are only shapes, circles and lines and rivers of blood. There must be blood, an army of robots could not shine like them. But I wonder.

A single clap rattles my spine and I see the apple. That skin for which I have searched. I have walked on soft grains of sand and compact earth. I have walked for so long, finding only more light. Finding clouds that have turned to night and brothers that have faded into memory. I have left all that have walked before me, left them to die in their tatters and murmurs. I took their thoughts, turning them into me, moving them through every part I move. Throbbing, I feel them all. Each dagger of pain, the thrill of ecstasy.

The endless road moves forever forward, I feel the grains of earth below each toe, calling me by every name. And I know theirs. I know each one. This path is mostly the same, though slightly different. But mostly the same. One different shrub, a flower out of place from the last time I licked its pink. It is endless, beyond words, though I continue to try. I grasp at the edges, looking for more. Finding books and poetry and readings by men in white beards. I stroke each tiny strand, loving the feel on my fingers.

Beyond the rim of my eyes I find the desert left for dead. Without rain, without one orgasm to wake it from sleep. This is the reality of dreams and nightmares. The path from which I have stepped forth, naked, covered in tattoos and a few wrinkles and spots of blood that decorate me like a birthday cake. I am clear, a walking mirage, still searching for the fruit of life. The thing that will spring forth like a pool, the burst of life that will live inside me like an eternal fetus, forever sucking and feeding, forever giving of its dreams. It will not be born, not into the air, not to the trees and the men who would create a god. It will be here, a change without eyes, without language. I will know it, it will be my nature.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fading Light

I lay on my bed as the last of the sunlight fades, giving us, this small little planet, its final heroic effort of the day. In a dim room, bright orange light streams in through the window, hitting just three different spots on the walls. I lay on the bed, just minutes out of the shower, my hair now wet and cold. My pale legs are covered in oversized black sweats with jaggedly cut ends and a man’s thin striped pajama top.

I look at the last bits of light, feeling suddenly aware of the calm chamber.

My hands rest on my stomach, my feet are extended, supported by a jumble of three blankets that cradle them. Tiny gurgles call to my fingers below my pillowy stomach skin.

“Just be here,” I think to myself.

My chest fills with air, then deflates slowly.

I look to the wall on my left, the wall my bed presses against. There is a rectangular orange-gold piece of light, like a bright framed piece of sunlight on the wall. Cutting through the center of the light is the dark shadow of a cross. I stare.

“So pretty, I should get my camera…” But I don’t move. My hands stay on my stomach, my legs remain in the folds of soft blankets.

The cross, such an intense symbol; a torso and head, two arms extended, two feet pressed together as one. I see Jesus on a hill, I see myself in the morning, just after 7. How long did it take for people to realize the shape could be used for killing? For the structure of torture?

Perpendicular to the wall is the French glass door that leads to my kitchen. The top half of the door is bathed in soft yellow light, though the top-center of the door is glowing orange in the sun’s last rays. I realize the light is coming through my small window (parallel to the wall with the cross), hitting the doorway, then the glass is reflecting the image on the wall.

I look back and forth between the wall and the door, not needing to turn my head.

To the right of the door, directly in front of my body, on another small section of wall, are a few fragmented pieces of light, long jagged rectangles and bent circles and little speckles.

I think about the photographer I used to work for, Emily Payne. “It’s called the sweet light.” I can hear her say it, holding her big black camera in her hands. I imagine photographers around the world waiting for this time of day, waiting till they have the ‘right light.’ Do they stay indoors like inverted vampires, waiting only for a special hour? How many moments do they let pass? Is everything overlooked until the sweet light emerges?

I look up to the cross and the door. Has the light changed? It must have, the sun is fading by the minute. I search the color of the door. It’s just a bit paler. Still bright, but lacking intensity. It’s fading in front of my eyes and I can’t even watch it, I can’t see its fading unless I look away and then look back.

I turn to the wall. The cross has lost an arm. It looks like a T on its side. I should have gotten my camera. I could have written something about this and I would have had the perfect pictures to go along with it. I stay in bed. It’s too late now. “Just watch it, it’s fading away.”

How often had I missed this light? Maybe it would be the same tomorrow. Or nearly the same. The earth would not tilt too much in one day. What if I had not laid down? Would I have just sat at the desk, doing something, oblivious to the light around me? How many times have I done that?

I look up again, the light is dull.

“Just be still and watch…” I keep wandering away, I can’t even watch the light change for a few minutes without drifting.

The cross has become a single vertical line. The French door creaks open, pulled by the crack of the open window 15 feet away. As the door comes forward, the cross shifts, creating one solid black line, then another slightly lighter shadow line behind it.

Then the door creaks closed, and a single line emerges on the cross once again. The door’s bright orange light has faded almost entirely. I know that soon it will be completely gone, maybe then I’ll wonder what happened, how it left so fast.

I look over at the speckles of light on the wall perpendicular to the cross. The light there has faded too. Watch it. “Don’t take your eyes off it, watch what’s left.” I hold my eyes. Its fading…but a part of me cannot believe it. I realize I can barely watch it straight on. It’s almost painful. Why can I only see something changing if I look away?

The door is now dark. The cross is gone, and just a few sprinkles of light remain on the wall next to the door. I watch them, intent, finally holding my attention fixed as they fade. Dark, darker, then they are gone.

The phone rings.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Guess

What I almost certainly do not know is that I am blind. BLIND. My sight is an illusion, a minor hope of a machine caught up in kaleidoscopic movies that repeat endlessly. I cannot see. Not you, the dog, a tree, a new facet of thought. Every contour is clouded in a haze of fog and thick assumptions. You are what is past my nose. You are beyond the thin skin that contains my brain. Because you are not me, I cannot see you. You are a cloud of pale skin. A sound that echoes from a distant hillside. A fleeting movement that jumps through a tiny hoop.

You are equally as blind, caught up in the illusion that wraps us both in a tight jacket. Two people, perceiving themselves as right and correct. Two people, seeing only fuzz and gray clouds, hearing selected words from long sentences, getting lost in the white spaces between. The other is beyond. The tiny shape of a walking woman, the tropical tree, the fresh picked banana. They all exist in a world of color and form that I watch as though through a television screen. You are not real. The metal jug, the dirt road. Not real and foreign, past what I can ever understand.

I watch from an overstuffed couch, watching the lights move, watching it as complete fiction, for it is. Though I cannot tell I am on the other end of a screen, another light that moves vaguely in the distance.

I am blind, though so are you.

Both of us trapped in the skin that contains a sense of self. There is me, there is you, the Other. I am blind and cannot know, and the guesses begin. All the assumptions, all the conjecture that rolls like a snowball in a cartoon of pigs and rabbits.

It catches speed and I grasp at words. “woman, poor, fertile, bound…”

They are words and I attach them to you, to her, to all those that move on the horizon.

But another one comes, “young, marriage, style…”

More words. More assumptions. I will never know. You are the shape beyond my skin, you are the Other, and I can only make a guess. How can I talk to the past? How can I talk to a shape without blood? The past and future blend together, I grab with dirty fingers, searching for another word, something to hold, something that will make sense and fit easily in this small wooden box. You are the captured cloud, the note hidden below my pillow in a place I will forget to look. You are the shape that will never be known, you are the Other.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Look

There is me.
I see my hand, my eye, my skin.
I look through these brown eyes.

I look at you.
The other.
You.

You who are not me.
Beyond me skin,
past my eyes,
beyond my hand

You, that I can touch.
You that I can see.
You.

The other.
You, who are not me.
You are the Other.
You, who are not me.
Not my skin, not my hair, my ears.

And because you are not me, I am not you.
Through your eyes, I am the Other.

I am not you.
Not of your hands and skin, not of your body.

No matter how much I may long to merge, no matter the hours I spend staring into your eyes.
I am the Other. Just as you are the Other.

Cherry blossoms drift between us, their pink wings fly, and I know that they too, they are not me. Not my skin and flesh, having nothing to do with my bones and eyes. The are the Other. All that is not me. All that I can see and everything I cannot.
For everything is the Other. Everything past this wall of pale skin and this head of short dark curls. The hills and their stories, the trees and their years. They are all beyond me, by definition and purpose and being. They are all things with other lives and other hurts and laughs.
The wall containing me is my prison and my castle, the way I was birthed, the way I have known. Only now, perhaps now I get a glimmer of the Other. The fear of you, the fear of me.
We look at each other, two sets of eyes wide open and staring, each looking into the Other.
But what if we see?
And what if I only feel one heart beating?
What if I stare into the reality and not the illusion?
Is there me?
Is there really the thing with hair and teeth and skin?
Is there a Me?
Is there a You?
Is there an Other?

Is the great illusion the only way to live?
To survive beyond the white walls of an institution and small capsules three times a day. How long can this be explored before we fall into smelly pits and metal cuffs…I see you as the Other, except those times in which we join, when your eyes look like the golden pools that I remember from a dream, and your skin tastes like mine baked beneath the sun. Then the illusion fades, and I see the Other, wrapped in red threads and dark curls, looking like my image in a mirror, looking like it was never anything Other than me.