fiction

Recurrence

We’re moving to Paris, we said to each other in astonishment about where we were. Only where we were was London and it was bleak and gray and confusing and I was trying to make sense of the subterranean rail system as if I’d never been anywhere before, let alone there. The map on the small screen in my hand was moving around like the carpet in the hotel lobby in Fear and Loathing. The film. I don’t remember what the carpet did in the book, because whatever it did was in my imagination and that was years ago.

Ali Smith commented on the suicides that take place each year on the north line out of King’s Cross, I recalled, aloud, as if that’d help us navigate and we maneuvered like two lost fish, our foreignness silvery and glinting amidst the hurried throngs, side by side and single file, slant formation, a desperately rhyming dance of happenstance through crowds and corridors and around corners and finally up some stairs at the top of which we emerged into noncommittal daylight and stepped our way past a woman with such judgment in her eyes she stood out from the blur and we couldn’t help but notice her glaring harshness and contempt like we were about to walk some plank and she knew it and enjoyed not telling us with her mouth, only her look.

We left her behind us like so much else but carried her look along and felt heavier for it, stepping out onto a walkway under construction or re- at the edge of a wide bridge high up some few hundred feet over a green-black river I thought shouldn’t have a name but surely did and was speckled with all manner of vessels going this way and that and lined by tall mirror and gunmetal buildings rising from its foam and filth banks. I noticed that part of our path consisted of a vehicle-sized rectangle of steel of the sort they lay awkwardly over giant potholes or trenches cut temporarily through streets for the laying of pipe or power only this had nothing beneath it but a long drop into that terrible water. We took our first halting steps with my mind full of wondering why we couldn’t simply stop, sit, and think this over… And that’s where the story begins, always.

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poetry

Mediocre

Being “someone” felt like taking
care of a baby that wasn’t mine,
sad little helpless stinking bundle
of other people’s exhaustion,
expectations, and distress, alone
in a home not my own at night
fumbling around in a dark room
with anemic hallway light coming
in thin, searching for bottles and
rattles and whatever the fuck else
those bundles require for pacification
while the bundle itself kept
unraveling from its swaddles,
squirming and wailing, loyal only
to its own suffering.

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prosetry

Unindifferent

“All lovers live on partial knowledge,” Cole says. I say symbiosis, our nameless and personal act, so-called for the world in you and the world in me, corresponding. Everything from simple two-arc birds, white against the starry sky above, to weird fishes down in the cold dark depths beneath, crescent moons for eyes like dreaming. I often think I am, because I don’t know what else to call it.

Is it imprudence we show with names, or do we simply spoil wonderment with everyday answers, and what would be the difference? I’ve longed to believe in one, waxing at times quotidian, and now my simple ardor is enamored with no longer longing to love because there’s you in my solutions, you more than anything, and that’s now, I call it, the always-been.

And now you’re here with me, sleeping beside. Astonished, gazing lunar, I feel as _____ must have when _____. Forgive my universalizing. I know how history pulls us apart, to speak of partiality. Such is the hook on the lure of its richness: the past becomes a domicile and then dwelling is easy.

Do you know how many times? I looked at that picture of you, smiling back at me from years ago, trying to feel precisely this without knowing, without reference, without time, without content, shy of what it added up to. How nice would that have been, I’d think, venturing to calculate my refuge in memories pulled present.

There’s such talent in your beauty, such easy virtuosity in your being. I lean and whisper two things I hadn’t read aloud the night before. “All measurements change for the person who becomes solitary;” “Life is always right.” Far from us, he is, that poet from Prague, but close, given the angle, which I suppose was his point. Symbiosis means never leaving, never having left, but always coming home and knowing. That’s mine, as are you, solitary, partial, perfect, and loved to entirety, my land, my sky, and my sea.

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prosetry

Gnossienne

Maxine Groffsky talks too much and I hear too little from any of you, but the kettle’s on. In my head one time we made a career of it like Jean-Paul & Simone everyone had weathervane opinions on the winds of influence but I still only knew either of us like I know her: through words, choice. She edited her own interview, for chrissake. The limits of imagination are four words that could title a book it’d take an eye blink to read, but most poetry would say a lifetime, and take it. Lifetime, you decide.

Take words out of your stories, you’d say, and stop trying to write yourself away. Stop trying to hide something and pretend it’s essence, stop trying to say what it’s all about. I’d know what you meant, having recently finished a little something by di Benedetto I felt I was supposed to appreciate but didn’t, partly because it was just too austere. Laferrière said “there’s nothing more false than real life” and it’s convenient for me to agree right now. Imagine how much freer we’d be in speech if we weren’t so compelled to riddle. I wonder if the pictures taken by strangers contain some message to me. What might they be trying to say?

I fill in the blanks, because I have a way of thinking I tend to say too little and a corresponding way of making up for it. On my own, ironically. When I was younger I called this “research” and spent time at prestigious institutions full of people I could keep away from, filling my head with others’ ideas of how to appropriately tangle with this great mad web of overfunctioning desires, dreaming of wholeness like it was a bill a real person might fit but everywhere seeing only pieces to emulate, and excelling at making lists, but having a hard time knowing what to redact.

Some things never change. Dreams, speech, others, and what of reality. Imagine the simple joy of dreaming without hope, in spite of what you know, finding meaning in letting meaning be, longing, but no longer longing to escape the in-betweens, no longer conflating satisfaction with complacency the way we often mix authenticity with originality. Borges called originality a modern superstition. Of course he would, and when I read that it felt like Satie’s No. 1, if you can imagine, easy and free, comfortable with distances. And I had nothing more to add, no answers, no replies, no noise. What would you say to that, anyone?

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prosetry

Proclivity

Let’s perform this procedure and run these tests and hopefully then be done with this. Oh yes, and your heart can go on beating. That’s what the cardiologist said in a dream I had in August, not in real life, but it was nevertheless a relief, albeit late.

Camus, in real life, said “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” I should’ve asked the doctor about the possible side effects of semantics on one’s physiognomy. But one rarely reasons in dreams.

It’s a good thing I’ve gone from documenting my brain patterns and emotions like so much abstract-realist reportage to actually simply merely finally really trying to tell stories, without so much cognitive noise going on. A good thing indeed.

Who else can I appeal to? Well, Ali Smith said novels are about sequence and short stories are about all that’s unsaid. “There is structure, but you know that there’s life somewhere in it, around it, free from it.” Saying without saying, living without looking. Albert, Ali, and expressionism, with an abstract look on its face.

If I had a writing teacher instead of a cardiologist he(?) might applaud that sentence. But one night in September, awake, I realized that no longer does my apparent fate seem to hang in each sentence’s balance, and no longer do I desperately hurl “my” words against the confines of presence and circumstance. They’re just structure for the story of life somewhere in it, around it, free from it, happy and living.

I close my eyes and sit on the edge of the bed and see thoughts as a tangled pile of string needing to be unraveled and pulled taught and I enjoy that double entendre without thinking myself clever. I can’t find any ends, which might just be how thoughts do, and my heart goes on beating.

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prosetry

Continuous

Made choices not from equilibrium, as sometimes thought, but from crests or troughs. Just a ship at sea. I can’t get over how primitive I feel in even acknowledging that, how human, how dare I.

Is it always this way, though, so reactive? I sometimes get sea sick and think it should be spelled -ee rather than -ea, thinking if enough people hear me as me (t=0, where t stands for thought) then maybe they’d show me how to cut the kinds of breaks I’ve been so loath to cut myself and be usual.

There’s a knife around here somewhere and I promise I’m just being dramatic. I would say it’s because I’m Latina if I were named Micaela, and a woman. I can imagine it, though, and did, so why not say so while we’re at it, just a little rocking back and forth. It’s not that sharp anyway.

Crests and troughs, highs and lows along this simple sinusoid since birth, growing to the kind of anthropoid that takes remarkable comfort in the disquiet of his expository tales of questionable oscillation and completely ordinary rates of change, stories of this for that and because of or despite, trying every which way of treating normal as a phase so he can be it but not just.

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poetry, prosetry

Fortitudinal

Had an idea. I’d play on what “better” means. Mix it up with the categorical imperative of the should, a played-out life theme of troubling externality, but tied to illness—of mind, of heart, the usual. Weary of weariness, that sort of illness, I thought, anxious my abstractions would never get me out of the gate, recalling Pound and characteristically reading too much into things like when someone says too little or too much.

Is anyone worried I’ll succumb again? I am, sometimes, but I have confident things to say this time. Responses, I’d call them. And recovery, but unclinically. The benefits of solitude, together with you. It’s not thoughts that are dangerous, but thought patterns. The dream is more than process. I’ll still love you when you’re fat on Monday. Taken out of context, these things make sense.

“The unforeseen, improvised and fatal, fascinates me.” That was the Muse, again, making so much sense that there’s little left for us to… carve. What about another category of word, one that doesn’t seem to follow “making” so intuitively, so simplistically—that’d be poetry. This was supposed to be poetry. A centered column of left-right justified text of maybe eight words per line. If I knew more about language and the written word I’d know whether there was a proper name for that or not.

Time to get _____. Takes _____ to get better. Take all the _____ you need. Get _____. Do what _____ need. Take _____.

Time doesn’t come back around again like my poems do but seasons seem to make me think it does, and that’s more than just more language. This winter is unforeseen; it won’t be like the last, no matter how many words I throw—or don’t throw—at it. Thoughts, merely, and I look to the Muse, even though she was there then too, and ventriloquize alternative patterns so I’m not the only one speaking.

Not everything means something, says something. Not every moment is to be learned from, only learned, presumably with better grammar. I do the dishes with a whole new gnomic outlook. Whose word count am I exceeding and whose stylistic and formal sensibilities am I offending. Ezra, I hope, and all his acolytes. The more the merrier. Mencken said that in a letter to Dreiser in the past but he didn’t mean it the way I do now. I put the silverware to dry handle up. I mean I realized that the dream is process, held together by trust, the way one time in September—in a September—she said be better and go, trusting I’ll take what I need.

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