1. how ever

    wearing the signs
    self hypnosis
    prickly sun beams drawn
    from a fiery orange core
    by a five year old hand splayed
    across the faces
    grossly interested
    onlookers
    gazes

    caught

    oblivious
    swollenful
    making
    a stand

    however wobbly

     

  2. vacuums and the persistence of purpose

    Given how hard it has been for me to let myself need anything, I was surprised how quickly and obviously my awareness of the thing I needed rushed in. As if all it needed were it’s exact absence for me to feel it and know it in a sudden rush of unquestionable intuition.

    The way a vacuum draws. The way it destroys itself. The way its definition is its undoing.

    The way I could not name it. The way asking for your simplest sensitivity seemed ridiculous to articulate until it was gone. The way my sensitive response to your, more than likely unintentional, insensitivity was a slick filet knife. Even tempered and well-filtered, my pain the thinnest blade made for slicing. Slicing layers of myself free.

    Beginning with the first layer. The layer of your protection. The layer that needed to be everything smooth and easy and not need. This failure to be granted the one thing I now can only see in its absence I needed but can’t reasonably count on, this failure has freed me to need it. I suddenly feel completely reasonable expecting it and consequently in my outrage at not getting it. Your sensitivity felt brisk in absence. 

    There is no blame just surety in my own deserving. I deserve not to feel that again. No matter how accidental, it is unbearable even merely as a risk.  And I was the one who put myself at risk. It’s one thing to drink before you know. Another, another thing entirely to drink again later. 

    So not getting what I was afraid to need has freed me to need it in a way that means I won’t give myself a chance to get it again. Get it either way. Smack in the face or need met there are some things, places you’ve gone, you can never unclaim.

    A flag on a stake that even drawn out and laid down leaves a hole in the ground. Unmistakable and round and a reminder, not a line because that is not how time works, just a small circle around which the rest must recline.  

    A vacuum around which all future interactions must stay far enough distant to avoid falling into the draw of that cold empty place. Each misstep feeds the void and makes the hole bigger.

     It makes play far away, outside the range of the crater, easier. Feeds a different hope of returning to picnic one day. It’s a circle, like all things, and the persistence of purpose. 

     

  3. tricks

    my father is a rabbit
    my mother a dove
    i the hat
    wearing magician

    my disappearing
    act makes reunion
    impossible

    nothing existed
    before
    the illusion

     

  4. the eagles asleeping
    in a silver web of night

    vision caressed through
    the long gaze washed
    in slow metallic light

    watching together
    from separate ends
    we saw the opening up
    reach for our joined
    unconsciousness

    a space in time and place
    where our dreams dance
    together and together
    stay safe

     

  5. never said nor done

    I have never said, nor done, nor harbored any intention designed to convince you or talk you into anything. Except that I know Bukowski is mostly a stupid hypocritical drunk poser, otherwise, I think you are entitled to your opinions and principles and decisions without question from the likes of me. 

    In short, what I am trying to say is: I have not the slightest desire to lay one finger on you even in the approach to a hug if I thought for half a second you had any doubt about whether you wanted me to. I don’t have any need to touch you, certainly not you, specifically. 

    So the derby girls are going out for drinks after the show and they’ve invited me to come along and not completely unenthusiastically. You know? I love skates and girls and short skirts, especially altogether at the end of winter. I even warmed up the other night, had half a beer with my sister because I’m a lightweight and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how quick alcohol goes to my head. It felt great and I handled it well and with grace, which means I am confident I could go out tonight and enjoy myself over cocktails. Part of me really wants to. 

    But another part would be really happy to stay in, maybe still with a drink, but be alone with one other person. To spend our time thinking while we sit in the same room. Maybe we’d read a story to each other or even write a poem. There would be music and maybe focused, controlled breathing exercises, over the shoulder browsing and take-turns body massaging. Drumming or tapped time-keeping, stomping or clapping. Maybe jump rope or elastic hand strings routines. But most of all just quiet, companioning. It could be equally satisfying with almost any person with whom I shared a certain minimum intellectual compatibility and common sensibility in terms of taste. I might need touch, but I don’t need it to be with any one particular person. 

    Except… I cannot stop thinking about what it would feel like to have my hands tangled specifically in your hair. I’ve been thinking about that all week, as if to remind myself that what I want and what I need might be two entirely different things. 

     

  6. because it was time for breakfast

    awareness and understanding
    poured through my skin into my cells
    with the weight of water’s boyancy
    doused me drenched me lifted me
    liquid wet to floating
    picked up drifty on the breeze
    a feather drying pleasant
    from damp to warm to slick to fluff
    then wafting back down to the surface
    once more and more diving
    swirling twirling lifted dance
    dropping round the miracle
    of constant change
    the consistency of paradox
    i swam oiled and bobbing for fish

     

  7. past the blur

    the kind of sharp
    living beyond
    the edge of
    the point of
    the prick slick
    stick of the blade

    the kind of sharp
    extending
    in past
    and out back
    through
    and then retracted

    leaving a hole

    as cost
    of the looking
    eye pressed
    in gazing

     

  8. it was a beautiful place and i did not want to leave

    I traveled to the intergalactic council where they speak an entirely different sort of language but I was allowed to listen in and understand by magic. Afterward, they insisted (though I agreed) there was a need for me to at least try and bring this report back to you.  

    So without further ado, I bring to you, the following. 

    When the chief affiliate for the planet Earth stood up to give his report, in particular on the dominant terrestrial life forms, the gist of his message read something like this:

    "Liquefied, infinitely pupal, their bodies made up more than halfway by water, the humans are so significantly un-self-aware as to live ninety-nine point eighty-nine percent of their lives pretending they are each a separate entity, rather than mere cells in the body of the community.

    As we know, that is not at all how bodies really work because cells are acutely aware of their connection to all other cells even when they are not engaged in the most active functions toward which they serve. The idea that any single neuron along the path between the brain to the hand is independent of any other nerve cell in the path - or of the surrounding cells or of all the body’s cells for that matter - this idea of disconnectedness is absurd to the cells that make up the living flesh. As it is to us. Because as we live and breathe and know, these cells are in constant touch with each other. Each cell is perpetually feeling its tight interdependence with all the other living cells in the body at every moment. That is what DNA is for, it’s a holographic information system. 

    Sadly, while the humans are equipped with the necessary parts and the complex mental capacities to grasp this, their cultural memes, norms, and standards have effectively eliminated their ability to comprehend themselves and their world in any way that is realistic. 

    Humans instead turn everything — even love, even interdependence, even connectedness into a zero-sum game of competitiveness. Invented concepts like exclusivity and loyalty make it impossible for them to open to the reality of their infinitely mutual influence on one another. They remain unable to delight in the way that each connection harbors the touch and influence of every other connection that has come before it, and around it. That each touch is an input into the next instance of touching, of connecting. Humans fail to see how their memory and experience connects each of them to all the experiences of every other, present, past and future inseparable. 

    The only great unique potential humans have in terms of the creatures currently inhabiting earth is their reflective consciousness and ability to communicate with language. But, the language itself seems to have inhibited their ability to be aware of themselves. Or they have allowed it to, at least. Unless we can find some way for them to remove all the false certainty that is clogging up their systems, I can’t see much use for them. 

    And they are, without any question, a major drain on the ecosystem.”

    The next thing on their agenda, is to take a vote. 

     

  9. pour

    the purity of water
    has nothing to do
    with its sexual history
    but everything to do
    with its cohesiveness

    each drop connected
    to every other in continuous
    mutual reciprocal bonded
    communication in the language
    of touch expanded on trust

    you cannot learn
    the sounds the letters
    the words the notions
    the rhythm of the fluid
    fluency of it without
    immersion

    each encounter
    betrothed
    beholden
    to every
    single infinite
    other forever
    and never

     

  10. plucked and stuffed chicken

    the use
    of eyes & ears
    to abuse
    masking truth
    held
    in our absolute
    interdependence
    it catches us
    unaware & unprepared
    reality unseen & unheard
    in favor of a single cell’s ego
    and eternal yellow cowardice

     

  11. cosmic

    obsessions make good company
    until you need some
    personal space
    time

    life defined by carbons
    and proteins and
    membranes
    energy exchange
    the reproductive transfer
    of dna

    or put another way
    but a quick harsh
    glorious moment
    to be immediate-
    ly erased

     

  12. losing my religion(s)

    atheism

    It does not take long to lure a pre-teen girl’s attention toward atheism when her sunday school classmates see the sabbath as a sixth opportunity to bully her.

    "Nice shirt," they said pausing through fake smiles.  "Did you wear it to bed last night?"  It was the same compliment-pause-backstab pattern every week. If she walked away after the compliment without saying thank-you, they accused her of all kinds of rudeness. If she started to say thank-you they immediately interrupted with the knifing, second clause of the routine. Then she betrayed herself to be, not only whatever awkward they were accusing her of, but also stupid for thanking them for their obvious mistreatment. She had the drill memorized and analyzed by the time she was nine, but she never really figured out how to derail it. 

    "Does this tickle?" They said one morning when she was 11. Smiling wider than usual, using solicitous postures, huddling around and running their fingers up and down her back. She smiled and looked around like a happy owl, unsure of what this kind of attention meant having never been such a recipient and then, the punchline.  "Ha! We knew you weren’t wearing a bra, you little whore!" She was condemned. 

    When her twin cousins, two years older and popular in school, held her down behind the house and took turns squeezing her buttocks and spanking her bare ass. She was chastised the next week for trying to get them to “make out with” her. By the time she was twelve she was sure religion was simply another vehicle via which the grown ups and their miniatures could administer bad deeds. She withdrew from the very idea of gods, then, for good. 

    sanity

    By the time she reached college she had officially discovered obsessive compulsiveness as an effective method for managing her anxiety. For example, she kept her apartment exceptionally clean, had a place for everything and everything in it, she knew the exact location of every single item she had ever owned and could describe said placement of the thing in 500 words or less that would lead any thinking person  right to it - like a treasure map. She kept a handwritten schedule and a daily list of tasks all the way through graduate school, down to the detailed level of an entry for every fifteen minute interval. She crossed items off as they were completed.

    Eventually, she obsessed over the space her obsessions were taking up in her brain and then she worked obsessively, with yoga and meditation and self-hypnosis to conquer the compulsions and their accompanying behavior — to empty her mind of all those details and learn to be more open to chaos. And that worked and then served her well during motherhood where it was good to pay attention but not obsess over details. She even learned to live with and tolerate a certain degree of mess and the side-effectual anxiety wasn’t even really worth noting, it certainly required no specific or focused coping strategy. 

    By the time her mother, invasively but not with mal intent (she was sure), left the stacks and stacks of boxes and more boxes full of childhood and family memorabilia, behind her couch, and on the coffee table, and basically in huge waist-high piles all over the living room covering roughly 75% of her floor space, all while she was on a short weekend vacation? By that time, she was quite well-prepared to deal with the mess and incovenience. She barely had any anxiety (or rage or irritation, even) in her reaction at all. Her mental health had been, she thought (not at all obsessively) fully restored. 

    a failure to clean up

    To celebrate and confirm her new found sanity, she went through a series of what she thought of as work-outs, of her sanity. She told herself it was a kind of self-beta-testing of her strength as she refused to deal with the boxes for months. Thinking she would have time to go through them on her “Easter” vacation, and then again when that didn’t happen and they collected a layer of dust, maybe when she had time off in the summer, or maybe over the winter holidays. Eventually she moved them to the spare bedroom/office space, which they basically filled up entirely. Oftentimes she would simply shut the door to the hallway and pretend they weren’t there. She spent a little time at work each day picturing her home office the way it used to look, before she moved all that crap in there. Most of the time, she could forget the stuff existed.

    She made the mistake once or twice of opening the top of a couple boxes and looking inside, peering down and rooting her hand around in the contents a little bit. Occasionally going so far as to draw something out, but trying not to commit, at any point, to any thing resembling a close or careful examination. She found two shoe boxes full of her estranged father’s love letters to her mother when they were both 19 years old. Christ, she thought when she saw all the envelopes — more than 51. She had shuddered and closed the lid on the things quick. She found a box with her own grade school and high school yearbooks, and one that had all the fancy bras and underpants she had bought to wear under her prom and formal gowns during undergrad. She nearly gagged when she realized what she was looking at. They were all clean, carefully dry cleaned as a matter of fact, after the fact, but she was still glad she hadn’t actually touched them. 

    Now, she was getting ready to sell the house, get something small, sustainable, maybe even portable housing, she didn’t know yet. But she stood there in the doorway of her once-office turned world’s largest closet and sighed through a smile. She chuckled and wondered…? If she could hire someone to inventory this shit and how much she would have to pay them to go through it. 

     

  13. in this day and age

    if the wicked step-monster of the west
    has an address
    i’m pretty sure it is on golf course view drive
    but the number is not likely
    to be six-six-six
    that would be far too obvious
    the bitch has a sense of finesse
    don’t forget

    if the wicked step-monster of the west
    got undressed
    found a ransom note tucked in the pocket
    of her sporty culotte
    it would not take
    much for her to be long gone
    on the next train that left
    the station

    if the wicked step-monster of the west
    lost her husband
    i’m sure she could find a way
    to cover up the mistake
    whereby she let the kidnapping
    insurance bill slip
    by unpaid

    if the wicked step-monster of the west
    was truly related to us
    we wouldn’t claim her
    as long as we could get
    away with it
    and as it is
    we can do
    just that

     

  14. slip

    The only time she ever saw him lose a tear, or really even come close, she was the woman on the cliff scrambling. Her heart and mind scrambling in the blind and deafening of the slide along the outcropp over the edge of the cliff where she had just been flung. She couldn’t listen to what he was trying and failing to say because she was trying to save herself from the imminent free fall that was coming. To save herself at least long enough to figure out if she had jumped or fallen, and, in either case, whether he had pushed her. The only thing she could be sure of was that whatever the answer was he had not done any of it on purpose. Even if it was his hands and a hard shoved that sent her, finally, over the edge, this had not been his desired outcome. The tear was further proof of that. 

    But she could not look at it, had no hope of processing it as long as she was it. She was the woman. She was the woman reprieved by an outcropping over the edge of the cliff. And he was saying, as the tear fell, as he wrung his hands, as he hunched next to her in what every cell of her body knew was agony because she could not, not feel it with him - as the tear fell he was saying he hadn’t meant anything ever and she was trying to take the tenderness of this from him but her insides were screaming:

    I already know you didn’t mean it you have to tell me something. Something. Something more. Something I don’t already know. 

    And his hands shook and there was something he wanted to explain and he was saying something about the first time he ever met her, during her job interview and she did not care about that and she had to make her throat stop. And then she wanted to explain, except for the screaming part inside her guts screaming NO - you cannot explain! He has to tell you something new you don’t already know. He must explain. But  she refused to say it out loud because she had never ever ever expected anything from him. It had been like some automatic rule or covenant in her from the first time she met him. He might be friendly but she would never place an expectation on him. She had forced her own hand and she had no expectations but she did want something. Something she could never ask for. Something she sensed he didn’t have to begin with. She almost slipped then. But held on. 

    And for the first time in her life she did not speak through her tears but just sat there, on the treated log guardrail, on the side of the gravel road, looking out over the lake. She sat next to him, crying. In silence. While she let her paralyzed body and its insides keep screaming. 

     

  15. the smell of clay in april

    vague window
    cave window
    hidden corridors
    doors without
    hinges nor
    keyholes
    a slip
    dark cut
    or a mistake
    the blank space
    rending rent 
    caked
    with muddy blood
    where i put my hand
    in & out & in all winter
    through, scraped my wrist
    again and again after digging
    too deep in the wet earth
    so dense nothing grows
    from what is planted
    there