poetry

Effigy

When asked

Why did you burn the candle so hard?

She could have said

Running from myself

Sprinting from emptiness

Falling into a comfortable void

Embacing the unwashed boys and heroin eyed girls

Their empty bellies and mouths of hurt

Rolling her razor hips to electronica

Slack red mouth and mocca skin

Racetracks in silver running like rivers along her wrists

She inhabited sound as a moonstone glows brightest in darkness

Teaching me to welcome letting go

Whispering, stop the neglect eating you 

Slip into me

This injection of freedom

Two red lipped matches rubbing against skin

Taste the sulphur, inhale till you can catch dragons tail

She liked to dip her toes in fridgid water

Mastering length of endurance like a tightrope walker

Her strength wound tight like tigers breath

How can you emerge from such a world?

Returning to normalcy as a virgin loses blood

Forever changed

I still glance up, a little too fast

When I hear fast footsteps run across my heart

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Empied of harm

Passion, you may feel it in obvious ways

How he leans in with his enveloping strength

Or, in the thunder of your chest, riding imaginary horses with your best friend

Forgetful of arithmetic and teachers who felt you’d end your days in borstel, because you did like running rings around them, didn’t you?

Regretting those petty rebellions later

Then in the crisp light and imagined stampede

Thrashing to the furthest point in your mind, bathed in fantasy

A place hard to reach, even splayed on cold Mexican tile, pretending your hand was his

Even, swimming underwater, until your lungs burned to surface

It was as if, once you grow up, the way back becomes harder

Like a secret language, only known to children, daunting you with reminder

The tree house of your neighbor, as you take the prescribed walk, your cardiologist insisted upon

The first rain lillies urging through Texan soil against all odds, their impossible fragility, an exquisite reprieve from cracked earth

Have you gone so far child? As to forget the combination? 

Here, where verbena and lemon grass, pummel air with magic 

Here, where you didn’t need anything, but the cupping of your hands, wonderment running through water, like you were born again and again, empied of harm 

Full of the vigor, of not knowing, the beaten path, to adulthood

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life, poetry, prosetry

Beneath the curtain

Peter Keetman Highway By Night, 1956 black and white road photograph

A man ate himself nearly to death

a girl starved herself almost dying

a bird hooked on wire by strong feet

sat away from the other birds

her wedding ring impinging on her swollen fingers

couldn’t be removed with soap and hot water

the nape of her neck pulses with effort

a shrill knock on the door of skin

you kneel in drab faux fur in the back of cupboards

smelling of moth wings, cedar and burned toast

charcoal fingers probing your eyes

the circuit fizz of bulb

trying to send messages through

barbiturates

dissolving

drowsy pain

Debussy plays

as cut flowers bow

in reverence and unending severed thirst

you go, I’ll stay

here in vase, waiver and quiver

etching lithograph outcomes of

left-over marks

sweat and tears and violence

villains without cause

beauty missing myth

when they say “you’re so beautiful”

I’d prefer they heat up a needle

stitch their mouths shut

it isn’t true

I have a russet horse for a jaw

a blue mountain for a forehead

my eyes are continually watering

with their attention

some words do not feel like kindness

they are broken pieces of yourself

irreconcilable

don’t call me that, can’t you see beneath the layers?

a scream is

not beautiful

you speak because words have become filler

for silence

and often for truth

the truth is I am an animal

my jaw continually muscular

you chew on this artificial

sweetener

pluck the instrument

hear your chord throaty and whole

a thrust and burst, losing suspension

this outline of who and what was

before condemned to silhouette we rush

into beckoning darkness

a faint smell of amber and myrrh

left on stale air

beneath long curtain

heavy with dust

(Photo by Peter Keetman, ‘Highway’ 1956).

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fiction

Part 1 – The Farmer

Once upon a fairly recent time, a farmer’s wife fortuitously procured a large piece of land. She did not expect to take on this piece of land and so she gifted it to her husband. This would be one of only two instances in which she was good to the husband.

The farmer was delighted. He invested all of his time, money, knowledge, energy and effort into nurturing this perfect untouched landscape. At first, the farmer was a little anxious, like an artist intimidated by a blank canvas. But the farmer put his heart and soul into the land and soon he was able to see how greatly it had flourished.

Under his watchful eye, the crops grew in abundance. His love and encouragement made the trees grow strong and fast, and all of the flowers bloomed as if his land was in a state of perpetual spring. He spent many hours in the field, talking aloud, reading poetry and playing music.

After some time, the farmer had created the most beautiful field in all the land. People travelled great distances to see the exotic flora that had magically emerged from the ground. He was able to sell lots of fresh produce, his fruits and vegetables won praise and awards, and his farming friends were in awe of him (and somewhat miffed that their own fields never turned out so good). The farmer was so immensely proud of his field, of all the varying aspects of it: the field was his pride and joy.

The farmer lived with his wife, but only for the sake of practicality. They were not friends and there was no love lost between them. But the farmer lived for his field and was determined to stay nearby so that he could continue to watch his seedlings grow every day and tend to this crops, even if this meant having to put up with his wife. The farmer’s wife was a very bitter, angry lady. She was angry for lots of reasons. She had been angry for many years, long before she’d even met her husband. But she was angry still, because the farmer loved his land more than he loved her. So she set out to secretly destroy his pride and joy.

In the middle of the night, the farmer’s wife would sneak out to the field and trample all over his crops, spray poison on the flowers and snap his saplings. If she knew where to find a swarm of locusts, she would’ve released them over the field. She was mean to the farmer and mean to the land.

The farmer was distraught. His beautiful creation had been ruined. Each time this happened, he tried desperately to revive his plants and tend to the sabotaged soil, and again the flowers would blossom thanks to his love and care until they were inevitably destroyed again.

Twelve years after he first started his field, the weather changed. It was unexpected. The farmer had never seen so many black clouds before. The black clouds hung heavily over his precious field, threatening rain and thunder and wind. But still, the farmer kept his faith in himself and his field. They had, after all, overcome hardships together before. He visited a friend’s farm which was very close to his own field, but the sky over his friend’s farm was blue. The farmer was confused.

The black clouds would not go away. And then it rained and it rained and it rained and the farmer’s field turned into sludge. The field looked so sad. The farmer became sad because he didn’t know how to help the field nor how to protect it from these horrible forces that were beyond his control. The farmer’s wife, however, was very pleased: her husband was sad and his darling creation was no longer beautiful or enchanting.

After the black clouds refused to leave, the farmer became very sick, both slowly and suddenly. The farmer was dying and the field was dying too. One day, when the rain tapered off, the field realised what she had to do: she had to help the farmer and look after him, just like he had looked after her for so many years and loved her even when the black clouds flooded her.

She had to learn ways to ignore the clouds and practiced pretending to feel sunshine even when there wasn’t any. She needed to make new crops so that the farmer wouldn’t worry about money. She worked very hard, even on days when she didn’t feel like she could do anything at all. She tried with all her might to become beautiful and strong and abundantly giving and helpful and kind, like she was when she was younger, like the farmer was himself. And sure enough, she grew.

Yes, the field was damaged in many ways, and she had scars on the bark of her trees from when the farmer’s wife had hurt her and footprints on her skin from where the farmer’s wife had stomped on her, but still she managed to return to something that the farmer would be proud of. And when the farmer looked out of the window one day, he saw how glorious his field was and he cried because he was so happy, so proud, so grateful.

When the farmer died, his field thought that she, too, would die. Her roots ached and her leaves dried up. The soil that had been her home for so long now felt like it was burying her alive. Her fruits rotted away by her feet, untouched. There was no more sunshine. Only black clouds and rain.


Part 2 will be posted next Friday here on Hijacked Amygdala

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poetry

Hymn

754db3cdda166e833971a8c8cfd1b855

The dancer has purest art

no need for vocabulary

rules apply not to those

born unable to speak or justify

their choice

language can become a snare

numbers lead to label

you confine yourself by

obeying

while the dancer

her feet in balance

listens to the spinning harmony

of chakras recharged

within as fingers whirl plates at dizzying rate

all is harmonious

a child irrespective of years

charged with equality in all sphere

her center cannot be punched out

not her strength shoved in passing glance

the mirror shows elegance

tamed fire creating music on the floor

needing no conflict or measure

she could be herself in braids with unhinged head and intact hope

or winter bird dying in first snow

living above and beneath

no need for shape or illustrate

hers is the simplicity

bound to no-one

dare to define

she will your bonds

break

and in step with

a deep hymn

spin as fast as lights

glazed on still water

appear to unlock

submerged secrets

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poetry

Bloodied Nails

It will start
With an absent-minded picking,
Tearing away the skin
Long dead and dry.
I will then pause
To admire my work
And consider the dirt
Beneath my nails.
It’s disgusting.
They should be cleaned.
But I’ll leave my nails
To grow,
And eventually chew on them
Until they bleed.
Then I’ll suck
On them, to staunch
The flow of blood
And then
I’ll take a blade
To my finger tips
And carve off
The unsightly flesh.
The self-mutilation will then
Leave me feeling refreshed,
And the gory mess
Begins to look
Beautiful.

And with beauty being
Of the utmost importance,
I’ll take the blade to my face;
To my gut;
To my backside
And to my legs.
Like a woodworker
To his new piece of art,
I’ll rend the undesirable
From my body.
I’ll scrape the blade against my skin,
Delighting
In gravity’s game
Against the fallen strands.
And in the stinging
Of this newly raw skin,
I’ll derive a sense of euphoria;
A sense of the approaching perfection.

Am I beautiful?
No.
Not yet.

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fiction

dead things

photograph by Ashley Lily Scarlett

A wave dumped a dead jellyfish on the sand beside her, where she was building a planetary alignment of starfishes. She poked the jellyfish with her shovel, and because it reminded her of her cat that died a few months ago, she dug a grave for it. When she was done, she stood over it for a while.

The hair on her arms began to rise. The summer storm her mother promised had landed. She scooped up her dolls and shovel and ran back to the house. She paused just inside the front door, tilted her head and listened to the onslaught that drowned out all other sounds.

Is that you, Maya? her mother’s voice drifted from a room. Come here.

Maya left her toys in a crate by the door. When she entered their bedroom, her eyes flew to the eagle perched on top of an antique closet. The bird flexed its wings and screeched at her. It was from Rafael’s last trip overseas, intended as a bribe for his lover’s daughter. But the bird had taken an instant dislike to her. Maya hated it, how it shat all over the antique. Her mother named it Mahatma.

Her mother lay in bed with Rafael, her hair tangled on a pillow like seaweed. She patted the space on the edge of the mattress. Closer, Maya, we have a game for you. Maya approached them, keeping a wary eye on the bird.

Outside the bedroom’s open window, the trees shook as the storm rushed in.

Her mother began her instruction. You must learn to call everything by its proper name: breasts, vagina, penis. She took Maya’s hand and moved it gently over her breast, the hair between her thighs, then over his body. Penis, Maya repeated, as her mother helped her unroll what looked like rubber skin over it. She heard him inhale sharply. In her hand he felt hard as stone, she wondered if it hurt him. When her mother removed her guiding hand, Maya’s fell away too. She slid her hand behind her and carefully wiped the stickiness against the back of her dress.

As Maya stood there, unsure how the game ended, the eagle, startled by a crack of thunder, shrieked and hurtled itself towards the window, intent on freedom or suicide, and was saved from both by the rope tied around its leg.

Her mother shouted for it to shut up and Rafael threw a pillow, which landed on top of the closet. The eagle slashed at it with its beak. There was a shower of feathers. Maya ran around the room to catch what she pretended was snow.

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