life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

A Disgusting Tryst

gothMany years hence or was it yesterday
I dreamed of giving fellatio which is
never a good dream
and wondered why in the dream
a woman had a penis and I was
hoping by opening my mouth I would
be loved by that woman
there are myths and signs and wonders
even in nightmares
totems to the soul
speaking to our inner darkness
I thought of my chess pieces
how strategizing was never my thing
the mother who hated and was indifferent
the brain damaged father who struck out
in endless anger
and my own yearning for more
more, more, more, more
but when you have no more and that is it
you keep returning to the same place
hoping the outcome has changed
surely the definition of madness
resides very closely in that repetition
no release, release found often
under the pulse of music and movement
dancing away the scathing hurt
or beneath someone I pretended cared
fucking away never worked
it only hurt
more
never good at sharing
gods aren’t male, they’re
created by men for stroking
and controlling like canes can
be weapons or lovers
language shifts like time in grief
now as a grown ass woman
I dream of fellatio as a lesbian
women with penises torturing with
confusing potential
I carry the fetus who didn’t make it
like a scar across my withering chest
and my hormones shout
you haven’t got long left!
Get out there and strut your stuff
before you are truly as invisible
as a ghost
my grandmother if she were living
would tell me to bow to Jesus
because The Old God of the Jews
let us down
and was too angry
and it worked for her
she chain smoked on her way
to saving souls
and chucked the fag butts
out the window
at 80mph
because she knew
her Mormon friends would never
smell the scent of tobacco on her lips
because they didn’t get that close
nor the perfume of vodka
just an essence
I learned to like too much and recognize
drunk women and distant woman
the black and the white queens
chess pieces ravaged by their tendency to torment
as a way to even the odds
cultures eaten by death
I didn’t complete the act
it disgusted me then
as it does in my sleep
step out into a full moon
my other grandmother said
her hands are holding
red books of communism
and when she puts them down
her hands remain red
because she, like the girl in Brothers Grimm
her crime cannot be rinsed
it is found in the pigment of her abetting
the shape of a key burnt into flesh
guilty, guilty, guilty!
I loved her until I knew that
more than you should ever
love anyone
wanting to tell someone how
the ache approximates a bomb
in your heart when it grows large
but the Shrink left her post
abandoned our discussion
she didn’t have the teeth for it anymore
so many people broken
her dance card was full
mine was empty
what a fool I made of myself
for the fiftieth time
lighting candles with my rage
causing shadows to catch with flame
I still burn beans because
I forget I’m cooking when I’m thinking
of all the people who have come and left
now you’re getting married
and I wish you horror
because my bitterness isn’t all used up
the potential for regret is endless
here we waltz to the music of time
made of stars, wrought of cigarettes
and dark bars
I wore black since then because
the shape of knives can be hidden
better in velvet and if you try
to sink it in
I will have the last laugh
one more card to play
violence
dress yourself carefully
pay attention
just so, just so
here we go
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prosetry

Teeth

She looks down and sees her bottom jaw resting on the ground by her feet. Carefully, she picks it up to assess the extent of the ruin but it is clear: her mandible has entirely detached itself from her head and now sits quietly in the palms of her shaking hands. It half-smiles at her, just as it had done so many times before at handsome strangers and bad jokes.

As if newly erupted from the grip of the ivory bone, her teeth form a sparkling semi-circular row. She studies the teeth, noticing that, where they are not laced with blood and saliva, they are obscenely white, almost iridescent. With claret edges, her teeth look like menstruating pearls. They look delicate and indestructible.

She begins to run and so does the blood: it trickles through the gaps in her fingers, collecting in the crease of her elbow before dripping onto the pavement, leaving a trail behind her. The blood is gooey and viscous, and though it looks too dark to be fresh it keeps on flowing. A mess of bloody saliva pours from her jawless mouth, down her neck and settles in a sticky pool on her chest. When she tries to spit out the taste of rusty nails and panic, she discovers that she has no tongue.

The unfamiliar residential street is curiously busy for 3 a.m. and she knows a lot of the people that she passes. She stops to ask everyone she sees to help her to put her jaw back in place. She is met with bemused faces. She screams and shouts and begs but no sound emerges from her, just the occasional crimson gurgle. She looks pleadingly at the passers-by then looks down at the jaw in her hands, motions fitting the jaw back to her head and then looks back at her potential saviour, praying they’ll understand. They look at her with pity and faux-guilt, apologise and say things like, “Sorry, dear, I’m in a rush,” “I’m not a dentist, unfortunately,” and “Oh, I don’t really want to get involved.”

The fact that she can’t properly communicate to ask for help, or even find out what has happened to her, frightens her and causes her far more distress than the fact that her jaw has fallen off. She tries to communicate using her eyes; she is certain that her eyes must surely convey the horror, confusion and desperate need to be helped that she cannot speak aloud. But no: she is ignored and unsaved. Tears tumble down her cheeks, over her top lip and straight down to her chest to mingle with the rest of the mess of fluid. She tries to spit again and grows frustrated upon remembering that she can’t. She runs out of tears and sits under the glow of a streetlamp, with her bloody, perfect jaw beside her, and hopes for somebody to throw her a tissue at least.

Sometimes she wanders about the strange town for hours, begging for help through her eyes, frenzied, covered in blood and clutching her jaw in her hands, rocking it slightly as if it were an injured bird. Sometimes she gives up after a few minutes and resigns herself to living a life of silence, with only her bottom jaw for company. Sometimes she smashes her jaw against an orange brick wall, sometimes repeatedly, hundreds of times, but it always stays whole. Nobody ever helps. She no longer believes that someone will eventually come along and fix her because nobody ever has before, and she knows that if she expects nothing, she will never be disappointed, only ever pleasantly surprised. She remains mute and hungry and ugly and cries and cries and cries, but she never dies. She is, after all, built of the same matter as her jaw: she is delicate and indestructible.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Pas de capital

On monmouth street, the devil lingers

smells the blood of things to come

fingers dipped in black magic

cigarettes and hashish on a double decker bus at midnight

feeling muscles pulled tight from dancing for hours

they left their bloody conscience by the door, it stuck, it did not close

well at all

wanting sex and drugs and and end of time

condom wrappers litter festival floor like signets

her father invited different women each weekend to sample

his sorrow and she

climbed down drain pipes to go where all

kids without structure hang

an empty playground with burnt spoons and plastic needles

the boys there, let her be, they liked their meat less

tenderized

one year she read eighteen plays of marlow and

three anais nin, the latter had her wet and thirsting

but the bathroom door possessed no lock

wax your legs, but not your crotch, the feminists at

night-school implored, she was one of them but not

able to summon the desire to behave well

where do night birds go when they want to devour?

Different to everyone here and the same

a pulse urging movement, willing escape

fucking strangers without pronounceable names

tight buttocks, red hose, patent shoes, broken heals

against radiators leaving stripes down her thighs

such is the transpose and yield of hormones

one day you’ll look back & regret will not be what you see

sleeping on fur coats in the dressing room at 23.00pm

platinum hair on your lapel, can you survive her

blistering disregard or is it what you want?

Sitting cross legged eating tinned asparagus as he

jacks off to henry & june, the part where uma thurman

and her incredible triangular breasts, reach

lighting up blunts on promenade des anglais

grinding hips in la croix des gardes after the gates are locked

no protection, you’re already ruined thrice over

with someone who leaves you before they’ve begun

your grandmother is jarring jam from fallen fruit and she accuses you

of stealing her cigarette money which you did not do

you were out in the garden playing in the faraway tree

eating scabs and letting the neighbor undo your shoes

they fall like birds wings without bird into pond

once you drove your bike into that water and leaches

left their love kisses on your arms

like that boy who fed you clafoutis, calisson and cough candy

when you ran a fever and he sucked on your flat bosom

like starving tight rope walker

running down le suquet in search of brown eyed kids

to buy alcohol and pastille du mineur, danging white legs

and tanned toes into dirty water

one said; You are too flat chested I like them bustier

you smiled in relief, punched their thin arms and ran off

secretly desiring the older sister who stood silhouetted against

setting sun, darkness of her skin reflecting thrashing waves

like she had been born from the urgent depths

her lips large and angry with her age, gauloises yellowing

hardly smoked just flung from painted finger to finger

you longed to reach underneath her blouse, to

black lace, brown skin, white lines

on her dressing table, saints, glaring disapproval

she liked boys with mopeds, tight jeans, long hair

no matter how hard you tried you could not

interest her apathique boredom into desire

instead punishing yourself, with last minute trains to other cities

necking at le grand rex, with sour tasting boys

who supplied black smokes and soft necks

in the darkness of raspoutine snorting on her thigh

leading to empty windows and

the feel of late summer on clammy nude skin

he tells you to close the curtains, watching as you

turn, slender and warm, toward him and away

mother at la main bleue, her own lithe figure

sharpening history, walking into rooms without

locks, a family legacy.

In tenerrife they say without a tan, stand outside

too young for adults, too mature for boys

an urgent pulse, the stage a bouquet of bodies

a turkish man gives me a rose, says I remind him of

sissy spacek, I lend

a blushing danish girl my last pesos, she

returns an hour later and shares a lemon ice

her long tongue licking it between smiles

it’s midnight and the buses run by the half

in earls court where whores and rich men

laugh, knives on board better to walk

he’s holding me up, he’s holding me down

we create a child, we lose ourselves in curling throng

when I see him again, it’s ten years later

his black eyes have bags underneath, he looks like he’s

been carrying grief for the children of pont des invalides

to battersea bridge with green birds no longer there when

it was cold and her art in the water lost

nobody but I believed it happened

je n’ai jamais voulu être blessé. Je voulais être aimé. Violemment.

now she has a child and I ache to hold

onto that time with

both hands.

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Uncategorized

Did you?

Do you see her?

She is buried by her own regard beneath Stolichnaya soaked tree out back

fingers bound with whispering, her mouth artless in its appetite for deception

she’s yours if you’ll have her, the gaudy paint washed off, she’s quite the peach

stretching her capacities like yawning olive tree, aching to unburden heavy fruit

Do you see her?

Or just her famine, dripping from exposure?

To sore things and empty eyes, voting their dislike in shards

She hasn’t the mercy of your mother nor the muscles of your brother

Hers is a hungry abstaining of will and transfer

If she could she’d eat the pink

But illusion renders her welcome and like the rest

She settles in for the long haul, a bag of peanuts and a fat lip

You promised her sanctuary, a place that has never existed

Except in gilded books and crevices of time

Where he left her be and she grew into something golden

Even as the light didn’t get in.

Do you see her?

She is shining until it’s all used up

Then someone else will take over

And the lint of her swept up

Will be recycled for another audience, another era

Thinking they’re the first

To witness such a thing.

(Photo by Ruth Marie Westwood, 2020.)

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

The Wolf

wolf

Photo by Brenda Timmermans on Pexels.com

Again the telephone rings

Shrill and haunting

I would rip you from the wall

Hurl you where I could not retrieve

And break every electronic component

If it meant

I could not be found

Always I have desired to be found

Saved from emptiness

Saved from myself

And the loneliness that shouldn’t be inside

But remains despite this

And to spite me

And now when I am hunted

I turn inside like a wolf eating innards

The glove

Dropped in the pond on a cold day

The hand

Left to freeze without it

I want nothing of you

I want nothing of all of you

Except to be allowed to vanish

Except to be allowed to return

Another time

Not this time

Not now

But when I can finally see

That my loneliness is cured

That I am captured

That I am free.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Holding Water

What I wouldn’t say out loud;

At a dinner party, when the conversation turns to

matters of personal identity and the such.

That I live in a country where

self-confidence is in the very water alongside Chlorine

And possibly many pissed out Pharmacuticals

I don’t know how they import it or how they bottled it

in the first place

but everyone takes a long swig

and grows up self-important and rarely doubting

their worth

A la the internalized cheerleader

I must therefore hail

from an island of thorns

because I didn’t get inoculated against

the sumptuous barbs

my skin punctures at the slightest retort

I bled easily even after I cauterized the wound.

Necessarily, this has caused some

discomfort

people don’t get how

someone can hate themselves

be a painted sin eater

for all insult

until that gobstopper of internalized anguish

turns on them and it feels like

it’s always been about hating the self

Such a natural elegant process of self harm

looking back in the mirror

wishing she could erase

the very DNA, the very face of her.

Now I have a second sight

for bullshit and fakes

and often I’m told; Give me a chance you never know!

But O I do

and I stay away from the saturating crowd

as they live their camera-ready lives

to the fizz and hiss of the insta-bulb

wondering if I will ever

feel differently or if this

deep phlegmy cough

will inhabit my very soul and become

a new lingua of self loathing.

Sometimes I see girls who

could have been me, but grew up

in a different world where

presumably they were inoculated against

self-hate at an early age and given a healthy dose

of worth and manifest ego

they seem like an identical twin who

was raised on grass instead of hay

in the sun instead of snow

and even though they still possess

the abhorant figure of myself

with her squinting mash of ancestral sabotage

I find I like aspects of them

as they flourish weed-like

unawares

there is a shadow

watching them

wondering

if I had grown up just like them

and taken my Happy Pills along with my self deception

what would I have gained?

What would I have lost?

I might resemble them but

I suspect, I would be nothing like them

except in the cracked glass of us

broken and repaired many times

until they can stand no more

to hold

water

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Uncategorized

Ever seen

Give me back to the century

Where emotion rained hard

On the blessed shoulders of mortals

With not long to live

And in their reckless squander

A divinity of purpose

Feel it all before the raging blaze

Is quit

Search the very foundation of self

For magnificent adrenaline

Surging cosmos in franetic energy

Furthering simplicity of day

With abundance

Yea

I follow the trodden path

Tapering to our end

With potence of resin risen from stone

Breaking its balm on thunderstorm

If I do one thing

One thing at all

May it be everything

To discover my core

Welded on the bright of this quick life

Ushering me near, its damaged flame

That I might behold you

As you step from earth

Encrusted with star jewels

The planitary alignment

A sword wound

Carved in my fate

We may only have together

A day

Or life time

In the wandering of us

Beneath mortal skin

A magnetic pull

Brings us to our circumference

Behold the power of two

As they blaze into this long dream

Their fire

The only part of them

Ever seen

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Uncategorized

Of collision & oxygen

Long ago

And just yesterday

I stood behind you when you did not know

And felt, in the shimmering silence of proximity

An answer, I had been asking

Why you stirred in me a maelstrom

How an unknown could

Capture this woman

As if they were a fisherman

In search of a whale

Who did not know he was searched for

Or even led

To his fate

As you are my last doorway

For afterward there will be

No you and no me

We are bound to see the end of ourselves together

It is written in my veins

Activated when I saw you

As clear as diving bell

Will warn the unwary

Of collision and oxygen

I liked when I said

I needed nothing

It is already in motion

My sustaining because you exist

And I breathe your name

And the smell of you gathered furtively

In each step made

Nearer to your guarded heart

If someone asked me

How did this happen?

I’d know no adequate response

For who would believe in self driven things

Or the recognition of one

Become mistress of my heart

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fiction, prosetry

Fear and a Spirit of Hateful Accommodation

Yes, all those things are lovely, but it’s boring when all is said and done at the end of the day eventually in the final analysis after all—indecision can be a like standing in the middle of field of lilacs and sometimes we simply say too much. Speaking of lilacs and sometimes, I don’t do well on the fly, too little meaning caught in too many words, with “do” and “fly” being the operatives here, deep down undercover with fake mustaches and mirrored aviators for obfuscation. We all know “well” well enough, or so I tell myself, to hold the sentence together with minimal disambiguation. The sentence—life, with no possibility of parole, unless you’ve got a little imagination. We all step away sometimes, needing to, receding to or from or for with grimy presumptions of stiff finality all around, creeping up the walls like rot till they seem darker than the corners and we can’t remember how or why we serve the question, but we do. Insistent on the peculiar merits of placement, I seem predisposed to point to the energy and the process like it’s blame I’m placing, not credit, clinging to rhizomatic enthusiasms rooted in contexts so specific and references so obscure that the truth can’t go unnoticed. The truth. What is this appetite for absolutes? Strip that away, and what—the positive qualities of illusion suggesting that the walls and corners aren’t in fact closing in, that they simply have spirit? Having seen it done and having done it, I strain to model myself on something definitive, over and over, ever and ever, ever stepping away to return all over, mumbling mawkish mantras like Destroy, and piece it back together but this time with gold at the seams. Kintsugi, yes? and how appealing, no, how improving, with an orange-juicer twist drop of idealism plus the pulp. Each answer is formed of countless questions, as variegated as the languages with which we pose them, so thus I ask: Do we spill because we break or does our spilling do the breaking because we get too full?

Everything has to go somewhere (that’s definitive-infinitive); there’s action in the outpouring, but I could see it working either way, or both, finding a comfortably uncertain trajectory regardless, whether of containment or release, a course, of course, if you will, running roughly from vulnerability to repair and so on, with voice, agency, embodiment, and destruction all packed in and cozy snuggled between. And so on, and back again. Till it breaks again and I’m back here on the fly again, going nowhere till it feels too right to not be the wrong words for a story.

I had a rough day, she said, barely holding back tears and looking smaller and more defeated than she’d ever permitted herself to look. A hug and kiss were proffered as preludes to a word or two of unconvincing edification as I, draped in coat and bags, walked out the door and down the hallway to the elevator and another hallway to the parking garage so I could warm up the cold little car with rust spots on the hood and drive cautiously through heavy nighttime snow already covering the highway despite evening weeknight traffic to a hotel way out west of the city where there was a meeting of the old white minds that I had to endure the following day. The following day arrived and I woke up from an uncomfortable half-sleep with the outlines of a migraine that would gradually color itself complete as I tried to take notes and look like I gave a shit in a windowless conference room thick with recirculated air and coffee breath, wanting only the essentials of sleep, hydration, and a proper breakfast. The rest—freedom, love, pain—would have to wait.

 


Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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fiction, Uncategorized

Never Forget the Whore

I wanted to learn more about a Russian’s perspective on World War II, The Great Patriotic War, or according to some, simply THE WAR. Since paper turned out to be even more revisionist than memory, I asked around for those who may have lived through it. My friend Ivan’s grandmother spoke a bit of English and he arranged for me to meet her at her house on Tuesday. Her face was a mashing of slate and limestone, she had a button for one eye. She might have had hair, but it was hidden under a musty-green bonnet.

Her apartment was an antique apocalypse, strewn about were books, kettles, chair legs, mummified jars of pickled mysteries, numerous floral patterns creating an eclectic field of colorful dust-bunnies. Great booming closets and mirrored shelves lined every wall, housing dead photographs of even deader relatives. She navigated it well. In the kitchen she sat me in a chair with a flat piece of plywood nailed to two of the broken legs. I gingerly sat and took out my notebook.

“Tea?” she asked.

“With milk and sugar, please.”

She bustled about the dusty sink, taking tea from a tin and setting on an old kettle.

“So, how old were you during the war?” I said.

She didn’t turn. “Wait,” she said.

I waited, looking out the window through a mess of dead plants at the people walking past. It was summer in Saint Petersburg, finally. Outside people wore T-shirts and shorts with a desperateness that only comes in a place where summer is born a dead-leaf. The old woman came and sat across from me, placing a mug of plain black tea on my notebook.

“So, I am collecting stories from the war, from people who were alive and—”

“Bread?”

“Uh—no thank you,” I said, nervously. “So, I thought maybe we could start with the Siege of Leningrad, Ivan said you were a child when it happened?”

She looked out the window, then down at my notebook and untouched tea.

“You want to talk about the siege, but you don’t want bread?” she asked. She stood up and took a half-load of bread from a squirrely spot in a dirty cabinet. She cut a chunk and put it on a plate with some butter and a slice of cheese. I waited.

“Thank you,” I told her after she placed it beside my tea.

I took a bite.

“I remember going with my mother to bring bread to her sister,” she waved in a direction out of the window. “She lived not far from here. My mother would bring me with bread–we were more fortunate. She lived on the top floor of her building and people used to sleep in her stairwell, sleep until they died and there was no one to take them away, so they moved them into the windows. They put them there one on top of the other until there was no light in her building. Her children had died. I didn’t know them very well, but they died. My aunt too, one day. In her building she died because she wouldn’t eat, and they put her in one of the windows, too. I remember the darkness in the stairwell and I remember my mother didn’t cry.”

I didn’t write anything down as she spoke. She looked out of her window through the plants and sunshine. Her face suddenly went dark and she scowled at a woman passing.

“Her,” she said.

I looked. It was a young woman, she was wearing a light summer dress and she looked happy.

“She is a whore,” the she said. “She has been sleeping with the Jew who lives just there.” She pointed at a window, two floors up and across.

“He’s married,” she said ominously.

“Oh,” I managed, and with nothing else to say, I took a bite of my bread.

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