A person can be internally consistent and absurd at the same time, like a comedy skit. Our imagined summaries make us lifelike, or so I heard on television. Don’t mind me, I’m just looking for permission, filled with suppositions about self-preservation through simple perseverance and tricky transposition mixed in blender-wise with kind attentions to the scratches on the table and the streaks on the glass as though I really believe I’d dissolve my fears if I could only embrace the imperfections of my style. Style—ha! When I set out to write I expected each stanza would begin with an abstract observation followed by a loosely corresponding question but here we are in the middle of yet another goddamn paragraph because I don’t stick with anything and slip on Freudians—a fact which you, conscience, always somehow saw as something akin to sin. In the end it was a party that pulled Styron out of his second round of depression, a fucking party, can you believe it? You could tread upon enlightenment and suggest all human achievement amounts to an elaborate mating game, though some pleasures, you’d surely concede, are incrementally higher than others, while others still are far. Sometimes, for instance, you sit nude before a keyboard looking for a compelling way to resist invisibility and silence through the publicizing of one’s life’s truths—a foolish pursuit, no doubt, when you’re so overwhelmed by unreality that you cover your face and refer to yourself in the second person because distance and non-knowledge appear to offer the only way through. But who knows the unwritten rules till we write them and then reject the limitations of language, opting for the ubiquitous lure of second-rate visuals of ritualized identity since it sometimes seems skin is all the world cares to acknowledge in the first place.
If you made a sound
This is the sound you would make
Mauve in color
Straining to speak
What do you say?
Sitting at the family table
All my ghosts
In carried repose
And the new
Who replaces you
Has no power to stake
Because I am
Watered by indifference and throwaway cruelty
Fed on your critique
It is your bed – I like in to sleep
Your brand of survival
So sore and foreign to mine
If you made a sound
Would it be a crow
Or a blackbird
At night when birds used to sleep
Wary of rasping day
They call out
To their unseen maker
As I suppose
I call out to you
As I suppose
You hear and
Tears in the morning at the slightest provocation—the inconveniences of sensitivity, the troubles of necessity, and the opportunities to oppose it. The rain falls or it doesn’t, and coarse tabloid judgments are hurled at everything in between. I grow weary of trying to be definitive so I set the glass on the windowsill and avert my eyes from screens, doing my best impersonation of choosing stillness.
Miłosz observed the inescapable influence of historical context at a time when that context was quite literally governed by historical context’s inescapability, suggesting that acceptance, meaning, and possibility are dependent upon the extent to which our expressions of them reflect the zeitgeist with “scientific exactness.” Today, limits on time and attention breed anxious “musts” which branch out in all directions and frequently send us headlong into tranquil, violent, and utterly mundane abysses of pure diversion. Are they one and the same? Chaos and authority? Meaning and meaninglessness? Escape and captivity?
In the twentieth century, it was the dialectician, with his towering rationalisms and tunneled threads of theoretical consistency, who controlled the rhetorical landscape. Now, it’s the petty carnival ringmaster megaphone-spouting from every angle of every corner but I keep talking in code for lack of anything expressly geometrical to say, at once both caught and cozy in little brick and A-frame languages of home and shelter. To you I simply said part of what I felt, more or less knowing it would stack up and you’d understand. It could’ve been this way but it was that, or is, or however.
Image by Christine Renney
I follow the other travellers across the car park and toward the rest area. They reach the doors and they push their way through but I stop and hover in front of the entrance, where people step around me, hardly seeing I am there so intent are they on getting inside.
I move close to the plate glass and peer in at them under the bright lights and although what they can do in there is limited, so very, very limited, they falter. It is fleeting but they are disoriented and unsure, if only for a few seconds and then they are able to re-focus and move again. It is a glitch and I realise that this is how I feel, that I am unsure, but for me it isn’t a glitch.
I step away from the entrance and begin to pace in front of the windows. Intermittently I raise my head and gaze into the cafeteria but I am unable to concentrate and I don’t really see them, they are just a blur.
You damned me with your penchant for
only the smooth hollow of a quiet buttoned up body
resting now, untouched chalk and mortar
lain still so long, breath has left
I did not want to wake up
pretend to function at the end of tugging string
there was a place in my head that dissolved living
a spindle that gathered all my yarn and knitted something else
back into a shape I did not recognize
she went on without
this clockwork version of myself
whilst I followed the bath water down the drain
hearing your serpentine taunt
what was it you said?
you would feed me?
I don’t need food
I don’t need air
I am existing on memories
of being fearless and before erosion
the wonderlust of the young and close to flame
possessing no sticky cleavage, no rub of thigh
or need to sup
the fealty of those who have not yet
watched their bones dissolve into chalk
this theatre is cold
like love when it is left
on a low flame
catching and diminishing
as most will rest
and one dances
mad arms flung
like sticks of liquorice
have you ever known what someone was like?
but somewhere along the journey, without any good reason, forgotten
gone on forgetting until all the things they are capable of
are lost and you see them with fresh eyes
just as wrecked and pulled to pieces the next time, they tear your fucking heart out
is that forgiveness God? When you forgive and you don’t forget?
except the very act of forgiving means you do forget
the extremity of pain and its after effects
how can you walk next to someone capable of pinching off
all their emotions as if you were snuff
turning out the light on you
just. like. that.
harm stains the mattress a livid hue
as if I were given a blood transfusion of pain
tell me please
who do I have to hurt to stop?
myself, or all the years
I wasn’t myself?