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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fiction, photography

A TRYST

Chris R-0172-4 Image by Christine Renney

He had fallen for a girl on a hoarding, a bill poster. He was living in a tiny bed-sit close to the office.
He had begun to fantasise and obsess about this alluring young woman in a cocktail dress, advertising a perfume, the name of which he wouldn’t be able to remember. The hoarding was directly opposite the window to his room. It was big and imposing and in his isolation his becoming infatuated with her was inevitable.
The advertisements were changed once a month and over the summer he had lived alongside a series of gaudy images encouraging him to eat a particular breakfast cereal, to fly with a certain airline, to think seriously about life insurance, to choose wholegrain to look after his heart.
From the instant that he noticed her, he was mesmerised. After all those bright primary colours, the block capital letters and all those crude messages that he had tried so hard to ignore, this photograph blown-up to super-size of a woman turning away from a party in order to gaze in at him was wholly captivating and he couldn’t help but reciprocate. That evening he found himself drawn time and again to the window, where he stood and gazed out at her.
At the office he wasn’t able to concentrate and the following day felt like an eternity. But when at last he was back in his room and able to look at her the hours seemed to go by in a flash. It was past midnight when he realised that he hadn’t yet prepared his evening meal; that he needed to think seriously about going to bed and getting some sleep.
When she stepped from the hoarding he was startled. It wasn’t so much that she had suddenly taken form but he was amazed by how effortlessly and gracefully she managed in her high heels to climb down the wall.
She stood on the edge of the road and straightened her dress. Watching carefully he expected her at any moment to set off in search of a nightclub but when she raised her head she looked up and directly at him. Blushing violently he stepped backward but didn’t turn or look away. Making her way toward his building she crossed the busy street. He listened as she climbed up to the window and when she appeared he held out his hand and, taking it, she stepped into the room.
He remembered that she had been holding a wineglass.
‘What did you do with your glass?’ he asked.
‘Oh’, she replied, ‘ I put it down somewhere over there I think’.
He looked across at the board at the party scene she had deserted. The remaining revellers resplendent in their finery seemed unaware that she had disappeared but the photograph was hazy and blurred and he couldn’t see the wine glass.
The young woman studied him quizzically.
‘What’s wrong?’ she asked.
‘Nothing, nothing’s wrong’.
He realised that his behaviour was unsettling her and smiling he pulled the curtains. He wasn’t embarrassed, surprisingly. After the first flush he now felt confident and entirely at ease.
‘Come here’, he said and, taking her hands, he pulled her in close and they kissed.

In the morning she was gone and at first he was stricken. There wasn’t any trace of her, no forgotten earring, not even a dirty cup. He rolled over in the bed and then he could smell her, her perfume, the perfume he supposed that she was now promoting across the street. Pleased with himself he basked in it. It had happened and he didn’t doubt that it would again.
Stretching out he decided that he was going to ring in sick, that in order to ready himself for tonight he needed to take the day off.
He slept in until late afternoon and, after reading the newspaper, he watched a little television and when at last it was time he crossed to the window. Once again he watched her step elegantly from the advertisement and climb down the wall.

Over the course of the next week he was surprised to find he wasn’t phased by her astounding good looks. He soon dispensed with any attempt at small talk and the moment she stepped through the window and into the room, taking her hand he would lead her to the bed.
Afterwards, he slept soundly and when he awoke he felt refreshed and eager to the meet the day. And then suddenly one morning he couldn’t smell her perfume. How long had it been, he wondered, how many nights, how many mornings? He tried to count; five, six, seven, eight? But no, it was nine.
He sniffed at the sheet where she had been laying, sunk his face into her pillow. He bunched up the quilt from her side, pulled it up to his nose and inhaled deeply but there was nothing.
That night he studied her and, scrutinising, he decided that she had deteriorated. It was a strange word to choose, he was aware of this, but it felt like the right one. She was fading, losing her sparkle, her shine. He hadn’t registered before that she was wearing make-up but he noticed now where it had begun to run on her face, that her arms and legs were streaked and dirty.
‘Would you like to take a shower?’ he asked.
‘No’, she looked at him, incredulous, ‘Why?’ she asked and smiled.
He decided not to push it.
‘It doesn’t matter’, he said. ‘But do you mind if we just sleep tonight? I’m really very tired and I don’t know but I think I might be coming down with something. I hope you don’t mind’.
‘It’s okay’, she said and sounded genuinely concerned. ‘Of course I don’t mind’.

As she groped and grappled her way from the board, he wondered how many more times she would be able to manage it, how many more times he would have to watch her as she clambered and scrambled down the bricks. He expected her at any moment to slip but somehow she made it. At the bottom she stood with her back toward him. Her dress was torn and coming undone at the seams and her legs were spotted with what, from where he stood, looked like dried blood.
She turned and he stepped backward and remembered that he had done this before on the first night and he hoped desperately that this would be the last. He was, in fact, convinced that it would be but he had decided what he was going to do and he wasn’t about to back down, now now.
She started across the street and, lunging forward, he closed the window and pulled the curtains. He sat on the sofa and waited for what seemed like an age and when, at last, she began to tap on the glass he switched on the television and turning the volume high asked himself ‘how long?’. He was surprised to hear his voice, to find that he was talking aloud.
‘How much longer’, he mused, ‘will I have to put up with this?’

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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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fiction

Plastic

In a sinking submarine, sinking, sinking, sinking to the void like das boot, slow and indefinite, with quiet desperate visions of surface trying to push their way in front of day-plain fateful circumstance so we held our breath in a shared act of instinct of the sort that only later gets inflated to solidarity if you make it through.

The reef up there, we thought, sweating, panting, wishing, a consentient mass of unseen presence known, a freedom firm and clear and out of sight, but clenched in mind. And down where we were? Only some deep underwater landside, the underneath and below into which the world couldn’t peer, rocky and oblique in the sloshing, living murk, only that and the hull’s creak for survival, so we closed our eyes wide and held on.

Late had turned to early and I couldn’t find my car. I’d just peeled myself off of the sinking situation with a girl in it, but I knew back home she’d know, knew everyone did, and knew I’d run out of stories, looking for clues for where I’d go in the secrets of how I’d gotten myself there in the first place.

In truth, the submarine had been a room of a rectangle apartment on the fourth floor of a brickstone, up by branches and leaves sprouting from the grand old dark trunks lining the quiet street below and she’d been taken by my self-conscious pedantry and moody banter. Oh, the feeling type, the wayward soul, the unseen seer with his eyes aflame, troubled and boyish.

Morning drew in around us without a sound and steadily turned up the dimmer, up and up and up, slow and even, and when those branches and leaves began to take on their day-color I felt the adrenaline shining bright on what we’d done, on who we were, on the nature to which I’d submitted, etcetera, etcetera, and so on, so gone and afraid of what that made me and sensing what she’d been all along—just a person, like me, fighting and fleeing.

I’d dawdled there against my better judgment, though, sinking, pretending the darkness would only get deeper and soon nothing would show, not a trace of us, not even a bubble to rise and break, looking at that moon-faced clock on her sad wall and thinking of Vonnegut’s Russian POWs instead of what the continued, unaddressed passage of time meant in the simple scheme of the moment, forming inarticulable excuses in a stupor of lazy mental mumbles as the hull’s creaks turned to groans under beautiful, terrible inevitability and the last shards of daydreams of glorious-meadowed authenticity, as if those daydreams had never been daydreamed before, only by we.

I could still feel her eyes on me in the preceding hours’ dimness as I footed it down the sidewalk heading what felt like west, could still see my Gerda Taro, angel of the small death, sitting there in that bed at one end of the rectangle in the deep dark night depths with white sheets pulled up to her chin and only hints of shoulders exposed, eyes like two eels peering out and a mouth aching to speak comforts in which she could not bring herself to believe. And so down and down, deeper and deeper, darker and darker we’d gone, merging two into a secret oneness with a warm blanket pseudonym of a mystifying ideal in which to wrap ourselves till I finally blew the hatch and lurched back out into the open with a remarkable lack of ceremony.

My feet were heavy on the implacable concrete, eyes scanning and glancing, head on a swivel spinning with the waking day and still-fresh scenes of night, not a soul for miles, it seemed, and a solid line of cars down my side of the street, a street that ran perpendicular to hers with the brickstone forming an upside down T on any map I might’ve had and I knew that wasn’t the proper word for it—brickstone—and lingered some more, slowing, overlooking the blatancy, losing track, stalling for answers I could only taste as questions, anything to distract, anything abstract.

What if I were less gentle? Do you want me to be gentle, less? Tell me to be less gentle. Tell me to be anything, more or less, anything you desire. Tell me to be

and I will.

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prosetry

Fall In Two

Ah, what good does it do. Could mine meaning from every last phrase but sometimes it just fills space.

I told you that and you said you like the way(s) I talk and I heard the parentheses. We sat on the big brass bed in the old white house on the hill where so many of my dreams seem set, recurring stage, varying scenes, and I talked about kissing you and you moved closer on instinct, still sitting up, us both.

The comforter was pillowy and soft and I thought the same of your lips, knew it, didn’t that time say so though. I said instead something annoyingly poetic about the inability to imagine a room you weren’t the center of, hazily depersonalized as if it were some first principle, still thinking about a couple somethings you’d recited earlier, memories and a dream, and I forgot the order and quantities and wondered like I usually do what the difference was, is, and what it makes.

But all I said was even the rooms you’re not in revolve around you, your beautiful energy. It sounded almost too good, the feeling almost too easy, too clear, too shallow, too too true, almost, the echo of my own words in my head making me cringe conscious self and I turned it around to get it out—energy, beautiful—and said so and you said “sometimes the truth’s like that” and I started to tell you the whole of it, soft and low.

*

So, we’d been standing at a red light corner in the daytime, I said, another scene, a brand new different setting seen, new city, it was, not ours but could easily one day home become. Who knows about these things. Skies grayish like a storm coming or just past or both and we were of course in between laughing about the story you heard about the former navy man from Florida who was found unconscious in an LA motel room and only spoke Swedish and called himself Johan Ek when he woke up, which I heard as Johann Eck and said that’s some funny ridiculous impossible shit and that made it feel a little more like it. Home, I mean, like home.

The light changed and we crossed the street on a slight decline, short caterpillar string train of stopped cars to our right, cab at the lead with its blinker on in that dim broad daylight, rows of silent empty vessels parked down each side like bowling lane gutter bumpers from where we were doing our us thing hand-in-hand, down each side to vanishing like the sea was out there and I for no apparent reason said from time to time I defect from time and this is the result and you looked at me like it meant something which made me feel good because I wasn’t sure it did, just that it came from somewhere and had been floating around my head for a while. It came from somewhere and a “from somewhere” always to me meant a thing must not be nothing so I’d developed a penchant for bugging people about sources and origins and preceding thoughts and you were the only one who ever really went along, really and truly wondered and knew because you did too.

Midstreet I told you I can’t be anywhere when I’m with you because being with you is everywhere at once and you stopped walking and turned me to you in some unfelt gesture about three paces past mid and I could feel the cabby’s dead eyes on us from behind his bowling ball’s steering wheel, staring down the spare, could hear his blinker out of the corner of my eye and then I came to, came back, went away, woke up, however you’d call it, before I could find out if we’d get knocked down and swept away, drearily mad at my alarm or consciousness or daylight or whatever I could think to blame for the abrupt cessation.

That’s where I started and truly could’ve stayed, where I picked our big brass bed talk up, with that chopped off cliffhanger, telling you about waking up from the sleep that brought it all, still caught on and trying to prattle us away from that dream of yours you’d recounted about seven minutes before, give or take, the one where you came to stay with me and found another woman there as though she were your rival and in the dream I ignored you and kissed her goodbye in front of you (that time I heard the punctuation) as if that was just a regular thing to do and she was skinny and not pretty and you walked with her down the hall to the elevator bank and she was mean and cold and cruel, rubbing your face in what you’d just witnessed like she lived for that.

Then you had a hard time getting back to my apartment because you couldn’t get the elevator to go to the sixteenth floor I don’t live on unless you break that out as six plus one and so you were scrambling around the terrible Vegas hotel-type maze labyrinth mystery dream building and couldn’t get back to where you were supposed to be, lost and upset and you said you weren’t sure even in the dream sure why you were working so hard to get back up to me and that stung a little because the truth is sometimes like that.

But I understood, dream considered, and who wants to get lost in a Vegas hotel with a skinny little nasty bitch rubbing your nose in ugliness where there’d once been pure beauty, vast and open an untarnished by either word or deed. It’s ok, you said, you’re here now, we’re here, together, only for life.

*

When I’d finished my retelling and finished dwelling for a quiet blind minute in yours from before as if I’d done you wrong in sleep I came back again at the thought of those together words, for life, back to a lifetime of desire sitting in front of me at the old white house on the hill in the daytime still.

You got up to take a shower and mix a drink and I laid myself back on that big brass bed to fall back into the soft duvet like it was a fantastic cloaking cloud till monkey mind did again what it does sometimes when you’re away and I’m out of bananas and turned stormy, replaying bits and pieces of what you’d told me about some guy from before who misread all your poetry, trampled your prose, and was more or less deaf to your speaking spokens and heartfelts with eyes always half-elsewhere on nowhere else and nothing much but who knows what besides his vacant self and I thought “figures, typical” and said it breaks my heart to think of you unheard, unseen, unfelt, un-anything and you said he didn’t care enough for it to really matter or harm and in my stormy replay head he started getting mixed on theme with that arrogant, cocky asshole other I too once knew and knowing he more than knew you made me wish him dead while a not small part of me simmered in self-deprecating resentment that either he or the unlistener ever had the chance, their differences made no matter, that anyone ever had anything even remotely like the chance but me, as if the chance was all and only ever mine and they’d stepped in and trampled my you like how I felt coming out of that other dream that other time where I almost had you and then lost you and woke up dazed and thinking in the waking of who am I to own you who am I to own you who am I to own you.

But that was just a song from the night before.

And the monkey wondered mid-scatter if he, the cocky asshole other, was somehow the one I’d been standing beside in my rueful nighttime darktime imagination when you rushed up out of nowhere and hooked his arm and said hey stranger with a big beautiful smile beaming and he turned like I had and you kissed him a friendly hello lip-wise right in front of me and I thought I’d release my insides mouth-wise and later I told you so and got some odd not-you vague dismissive rejoinder about how you noticed my bother but it was a non-issue though we could address it if I thought otherwise and my misreading mind’s eye saw that as “non, issue” in modest Francophilia but all I said was “ok.” Like me. And like me I didn’t at that moment get up and come tell you in the steamy bathroom what I wondered.

But that was just a dream, too, mine, from the night before.

That’s ok, she’s here now, we’re here now, for life, awake. And in a few minutes you came back into the room in that short green robe and towel on head with a fresh sweating glass in one hand for the both of us and shook me from my trance looking like love and stunner-smelling, talking as you entered about one of those shower musings along all the same lines we’d been tracing and clinging to since words broke into day and proceeded to tell me about a time when … that’s ok … his place … she’s here now … back when … we’re here … beside him … here together … unseen unheard unfelt undressed … for life … and it took us both back in the telling, then.

I listened but only heard pieces, went back in parts cut with parts because parts were all I had to go on and more than enough, my parts and pieces cutting in to that remember dance, and a smaller, sicker part of me was sick at my small sick self for being in any way conscious of what I gave as if the giving were only a countermeasure to counterbalance and tarry with some negative and I thought of Žižek and how melancholy obfuscates, how what we never possessed can also never be lost and of Proust on how the immensity of what’s immediately before us leads the rest of the world to assume the insubstantiality of a dream in comparison and I always liked to wonder if it wasn’t the reverse, knowing my chosen refuge, reveling in the irony and the solace of literature and theory.

I listened, though, stubborn and stuck. I heard and kept hearing till you leaned over to me on that big brass bed and lips on mine erased my mind and in my head I knew that nursery-rhymed and didn’t at all for a second care, because we were back to where nothing else mattered like in the middle of the bowling lane and behind closed eyes I saw pieces of us back in that night the one night the real night the great wide waking night in the pool under stars and my hands under your long back so you could float sky parallel and watch the heavens while I should’ve kissed your stomach but didn’t the same way I didn’t tell you I loved you long ago and only looked and missed and then in the water that night holding you I looked up at the pin-prick holes we might fall into and felt the nighttime flight that brought me there under those same sky specks and over the electric ones around us, all the patches and clusters glowing down below between departure and arrival and the relief inside of simplification and silence, the falling away shedding of peripheral pieces, images discarded from a central all-that-truly-matters-whole that’s always been because I was coming home, finally coming home to where a mountain and a desert were waiting for me, hot, arid, clear, glorious, and as infinite as infinity needs for all intents and purposes to seem.

Fall into these pin-pricked holes; just not seeing right; defect from time; sometimes it just fills space. Say something beautifully, ugly. Say something ugly, beautiful. We found each other in dream, you in night and I in day and in the end I can hardly remember where it started anyway, setting down the shovel and the pick-axe and the troubles they unearth and freely choosing instead to find all the meaning there’s ever been in the finger- and tongue-tip tracing of the soft contours of now, falling apart, together, and back again, no thought, no dream, no fear, no house, no room, no robe, no cover, no bed, even, nothing but it all. For starters, for finishes, foreverything in between and again.

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poetry

Lost though glimpsed

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If I had the power

I might do no more than this

sitting watching dust captured by light

as drowsy it drifts

or I may

do far more

dependant upon the hour of birth

runic stones thrown

alignment of planets

decisions ours and not our own

would it make sense to you?

that I found your burning sage madness truth?

only pausing when I could not follow the maze

for my pocked arms were ablaze

holding no feathers

if I had the power

I would ask you subsume the hour last

you felt a need to reveal and trust

and becoming green-tipped bird

I’d fly you into the mouth of your past

and becoming shivering fire bird

I’d conquer the elements of volition

causing you to shrug me off

as unwanted skin without use

I am slower than your torturer and you

If I had the power

though I have no way of encouraging magic

not even a fistful of lightning to raise our sum

stamping like forsaken giants roar

declaring; no you shall not

claim us

I am

too old by days and hours

by too many stared-at empty houses

with boarded windows rubbed dark

nobody is home to light the way

for either of us

don’t you see that’s why I always strained to hear?

my ear to the flat of your prison and mine

flaying xylophone chords with missing fingers

If you’d sat next to me when no-one looked we’d have merged into one

instrument

taken out of ourselves and the backward clock

a poison for some, is a cure for us

If I had the fusion

to dwell in your rage directed my way

I’d walk through maelstrom seeking reverse of fate

where, by watchful limb

we sit shoeless

wringing our bruised legs over yawning edge

one, two, three

let go of holding hands

If I had the power not to be me

and you had the power not to be you

both of us damaged and saved at differing points in history

overlapping star travelers

burning up the universe to reach through

this hijacked soul

lost though glimpsed

in warm breath on

cold step

Standard
poetry, prosetry

Daughters of descending dusk

Who was that girl, covered in cheap thrill?

the one who got so happy when you looked her way

who drew you paintings

kept your dirty shirt

pushed you on the swing-set even though we both weighed too much

days of over-size flannel and Doc Martens

Smashing Pumpkins versus Hole

you said I looked like

Ione Skye

you didn’t resemble

John Cusack

while the studious exchange students with excitement hangovers

wouldn’t climb out of their window and meet in the high weeds park

even by then I knew how to have sex in public without my skirt getting wet

who needed second base?

go all the way and work backwards

you weren’t the wrong choice were you?

wearing eyeliner and forgetting birth control

all then, a bad trick in adolescent undergrowth

slurs are girls with provocation

before social media calumny

dimpled notes

inking who gives the best head

who has the firmest … grasp

you have me laid open in your sweat shirt like a dissected stag beetle still able to feel its shell

sent me crayon colored tapes where you exulted my willingness

I sang on my knees like Marianne Faithful with a throat-full

thinking you filled me with more than noise

riding our bikes after, sore between the legs

slow were the socially awkward who did it right first time, soothing off their spectacles for CEO jobs

while we daughter’s of descending dusk

carved deep our error

in the inside of our doughy thighs

the days a road lay empty as a girl’s hands

saturating smell of popcorn

fantasizing backward to the beginning

illuminated by glow stars on the ceiling of his room

habits inching across failings

unfinished sympathies

how can a song collapse a heart?

wishbone shaping the way like Baba Yaga’s dance of skeletons

we who didn’t need food

ran ragged on empty

female cranberry bogs filled with ire and specter

and one day we were no longer young

staring down at boxes of cassettes and letters tied with pieces of the past holding up a manikin who could once have been us

now unsure in twilight of age

as time will betray all but deepest memory

adhering despite all attempt

to dissuade

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