a straight answer

January 7, 2020

I am what I am. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, for you have been kind to me. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer.

Peter S. Beagle
The Last Unicorn

People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkeyskins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kind that seep up from your subconscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teach you how to prevail, and trust. And maybe even love.

Charles de Lint
The Onion Girl

I Wish

January 5, 2019

I wish people enjoy poetry as much as hypocrisy.
I wish they created art rather than wars.
I wish they discuss atoms, aliens, sex, science, music instead of rating each other by ethnicity, religion and nationality.
I wish they had a twisted mind who speak with emotion and kindness, not with hate and blindness.

Rim Zeiny

one story in the world

October 7, 2018

the correct path

A child may ask, “What is the world’s story about?” And a grown man or woman may wonder, “What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we’re at it, what’s the story about?”

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught — in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too — in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well — or ill?

John Steinbeck
East of Eden

9th August

I keep a diary: a day-to-day record of my thoughts, activities, and impressions, handwritten in my spidery script that no one can read. I’ve done so most of my life. Here my most sordid secrets are laid bare. The Sapphic loves of my partners, the intense physical and emotional relationships I have experienced over time, and even the tempestuous passion I felt for Claire P all those years ago. All this and more is recorded in a series of black, hardcovered notebooks.

My secret life. Erotic, nebulous in parts, full of clichés with great lapses into flamboyancy and ecstasies transcended. Here is recorded my first lovemaking with SAM:

12th March

“Skin honey and scarlet, blouse the colour of pale wine. She wore a front fastening brassiere and her fine, pale breasts tumbled easily free – only to be trapped by my waiting palms.

“Fire & ecstasy.

“I turned a corner in space as we sought each other’s hidden soul. She came so very quickly, unexpectedly. Later she came again when I went down on her, licking her wet, puckered sex.

“Afterwards, I escorted her home. High, full moon and wind and light rain. Waited an eternity for a 138 Northwood bus at the stop beside the photographer’s studio.

Then, returning to my tatty flat, experienced intense loneliness and a sense of terrible loss. Masturbated aggressively in bed, the scent of her hair on the pillow beside my face. Felt myself outside of time. Tiptoeing through chaos, in another, alternative dimension. I tried to persuade myself that SAM’s love would endure, but knew it wouldn’t. My head full of fire and suspended stars. I couldn’t come until I thought of Georgina – her big eyes and nutbrown skin, my favorite fantasy girl, her curvaceous young body. I moaned her name aloud, over and over, as if casting a spell of protection against SAM’s encroachment on my life. Finally came imagining Georgina acting in a most lewd and provocative manner – which in reality she never would…!”

In time SAM became my wife – my first wife. I was deeply in love with her; or rather deeply in love with who I thought she might be. Hence this two years later:

5th December

“Blank days. So much dull work. Looking forward to a short break. Walking with SAM in Claraden Road. Snow falling and whiteness spreading around. Christmas lights in all the shop windows. Snowflakes on the collar of SAM’s grey overcoat melting. We kiss and her nose is ice cold on my cheek. She is so childlike at times, so in need of protection.

“I ask the question, straight out: ‘Will you marry me?’ By its suddenness, I surprised even myself. After all, what did I really have to offer her?

“The falling snow became millions & billions of falling diamonds in the streetlight’s glow. Pure white diamonds descending in silence –

“ ‘I haven’t a ring yet,’ sez me. ‘I thought we could go to Spivack’s in the morning and you can chose one you like.’

“Still she remained silent, contemplating my proposal, its ramifications and future complexities. Then, finally, she said: ‘Yes, I’ll marry you…’

“And the whole world came alive in me. White magic prevailed. SAM was happy too – and oh so very amorous. We hurried to my flat which was as cold as the North Pole in deep winter. We had each other on the living room floor, both still partly clothed – ”

Once SAM said to me that ‘There’s not more than thirty-six ways of doing it.’ Her own technique was one of virginal innocence. A child in a world of nasty lust and unspeakable desires. It was a technique that had its attractions, and a number of other admirers beside myself. Bruce, an American service man and Jazz musician, who lodged with SAM’s parents, practiced eight of those thirty-six ways of doing it, the night before our wedding. The child was a bitch on heat who believed her knickers were ankle warmers. But I was totally blind to this at the time. None so blind as those who will not see –

18th June

“Love, art, wine. Read the Kama Sutra. Fuck T’s wife in revenge for SAM’s many betrayals over our five years of marriage. Lust is all exposed nerve endings. It permeates every fiber of my being. As if every nerve in my body is pulled taut and stimulated by an almost continuous series of short-circuits.

“T’s wife, Pam, Pamela, a name invented by the poet, Philip Sidney – perhaps from the Greek, meaning “all honey”? Certainly, she is ALL honey. I pollinate her honey pot at every opportunity. And she is intoxicated by Pan, a thing of pandemonium, with a sex urge too violent for her body to sustain.

“Tranquility is no longer a possibility for either of us.

“Instead there is anguish, spasms of hate, terrible depression for me – which I cast temporarily aside in fleshy acts of revenge on Pam’s pale body. Clawing hands. Exhaustion. I have her in shop doorways at night. In alleyways by stinking dustbins. In her husband’s bed – even once in a toilet cubicle at Debenhams. Repeated humiliations. Only ever half-gratified, we both come back for more.

“But today SAM talks of a ‘Fresh start’. Forget the other men in her life, they’re not important. Temporary aberrations. In the past. It is me she really, truly loves…

“Words, words, and more words. Mostly lies, too. Heard it all, so many times before. Our love is fucked and there’s nothing I can do about it. What she “feels” is no longer “love”. It is nothing more than attachment, the habit of having someone familiar to touch, to hold, to control. A safe option. I did everything in my power to keep her close, everything in my power so that love would not disappear, not fade away between us. But I was living in an imaginary relationship. I was a fool…

“She tells me to give up Pam but I say, ‘Perhaps, we’ll see – ’

“We visit Al and Di this evening. We go in a black cab to Ealing. I finger a supposedly repentant SAM roughly during the journey’ She will do anything to gain my forgiveness. I make her “finish” herself off in front of me. She sits on one of the pull-down seats opposite, legs spread in compliance. After she comes, I make her kneel on the floor of the cab and suck me off.

“Eros crucified.

“The hate I let lose is equivalent to all the hate in the world. Behind the hate is love. Damaged, distorted, but not finished with…

“I can only think of all those evenings spent together in mutual silence, wrapped in love, the two of us in front of the fire. Her skin smelling faintly of buttermilk and baby powder. A unique small, this, like no other woman in the world. They were times we were both happy –

“Yet that too is probably a lie. Even during the best of times Sam was seeing other men. I know that now…”

So, in the pages of my diaries, I’m able to experience again the ugly haemorraging of love from my first marriage. I can witness afresh the sins, negligences, and ignorances of my earlier life, and gain fresh inspiration from them. I can see exactly how time distorts my memory of such long ago events, too. These diaries stand as witness to everything, warts and all.

#

“It takes a woman years and years to unlearn the things she’s been taught to be sorry for.” Yes, but in unlearning these things, she may become a monster. Most men are uncomfortable with sexuality that is not made for their own consumption. And this new, superwoman will display many male traits – a propensity for violence, for example. And like most men, the ability to see things not as they are but as they think they should be –

You have been warned.

#

The one thing that really, really turns me on. The most sexy thing in the world –

Kindness!

And one of the most exquisite experiences in the world –

‘Lying in bed on a summer morning, with the window open, listening to the church bells, eating buttered toast with cunty fingers.’

#

Who the hell pays any attention to the world ending? It ends for me every single night. But it begins again next morning –

Kindness

November 18, 2016

breathe-fire

Nicaragua, 2008

The barefoot boys are little men.
Sticky children wielding machetes, slicing weeds.

Dogs in gaunt elegance
bow their heads and follow –

scabs and bubble gum on their matted fur.

We say if there were ever animals
to kill themselves, it would be these dogs.

The girls we never see. I imagine
they are grinding corn
or rubbing their hands raw

on soap and slabs of concrete in the morning fog.

In my dream last night
I was pregnant and didn’t want it,
so I used nails.

That’s all I remember: nails
and a birth not celebrated.

How easily we protest discomfort: the heat making nests
in the thickets of our bodies, the insects
like scissors on our ankles, the shit and static water.

How we learn to praise
a grain of rice
when we hear the slight gurgle
of hunger in the flute of the body.
How we learn to love
an egg.

We can eat until we are shamefaced and swollen
with happiness and light and the neverending.

What can milk say?
Victorious milk,
milk like mucous
in your throat—a pearl.
Cruel milk with a hair in it

The kindness of milk.

Granada: a British man with bleached hair
walks barefoot in the street
in his imagined bohemia. Among glass
scattered like confetti.

Two backpackers
with sores like tropical flowers,
iridescent sores,

sores like opal.

A young boy kisses his fingers,
presses them to our cab window.

In Estelí
a rattle of history, a photograph—
Miliciana de Waswalito: Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
A radiant Sandinista breastfeeding,
a rifle on her back.

In the morning my period comes
like a warm and languid Sunday afternoon.

My breasts still remembering
the milk the body can brew.

Erika L. Sánchez