Horror

September 12, 2019

Horror cannot be spoken because it is alive; because it is silent and is going forward; it drips into the day and it drips into sleep.
Sorrow-recalling pain.

George Seferis
Last Stop
trans. Rex Warner

Torn

September 6, 2019

…She has never been in pain; her intact delicacy is like that of an apple blossom. She will be torn.

Anne Truitt
Daybook: The Journal of an Artist

Loving me is difficult

September 2, 2019

Loving me is difficult.
Because sometimes
I shed my skin too quickly
Trying to forget what it feels like
To be held by the brown callous palms
Of uncles, friends and strangers.

My new skin never remembers
The coolness of your touch
On the parts of my body where you need maps and lights to navigate safely.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
When it hurts too much to become
I wear masculinity like a cloak
And refuse to leave enough room for you in the spaces between my fingers

I forget the taste of your mouth
And allow bitterness to drip from my lips
The kind of bitterness that tastes like hate

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
I ask you not to say “I love you”
Afraid that it will sound a lot like
The first one I ever heard
I will be 8 again, trapped beneath the taste of sweat and disgust.

I forget, that your I love yous
Sound like caresses and taste like nectar.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
I package my anger and grief neatly
And hide it in my sternum
Waiting for it to become potent enough to poison you

I haven’t learned how to stop eating my emotions.
Or how to stop throwing them up on your lovely blue dress.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
When you kiss me
I slip marriage into your mouth
And refuse to perform the Heimlich
When it becomes lodged in your throat

I forget that you choose me every day
And choosing me in a wedding dress won’t change a thing.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
I forget to see the world in you

I forget that your pupils are galaxies
And you are wind.

Loving me is difficult
Because…
I am still learning to not pick at my wounds.

Charli Cleland

another person’s hand

February 16, 2019

There’s power in the touch of another person’s hand. We acknowledge it in little ways, all the time. There’s a reason human beings shake hands, hold hands, slap hands, bump hands. It comes from our very earliest memories, when we all come into the world blinded by light and colour, deafened by riotous sound, flailing in a suddenly cavernous space without any way of orienting ourselves, shuddering with cold, emptied with hunger, and justifiably frightened and confused. And what changes that first horror, that original state of terror? The touch of another person’s hands. Hands that wrap us in warmth, that hold us close. Hands that guide us to shelter, to comfort, to food. Hands that hold and touch and reassure us through our very first crisis, and guide us into our very first shelter from pain. The first thing we ever learn is that the touch of someone else’s hand can ease pain and make things better. That’s power. That’s power so fundamental that most people never even realize it exists.

Jim Butcher
Skin Game

the ups and downs of love

February 3, 2019

Love isn’t only love, sweetheart. It’s hard work, and trust, and tears, with even a few glimpses of devastation. But at the end of each day, if you can still look at the person at your side and can’t imagine anyone else you’d rather have there, the pain and heartache and the ups and downs of love are worth it.

Nicole Williams
Clash

The Needing

January 6, 2019

i need you
i crave you
it’s the only way i survive
you are my weakness i desire your control

in this space
down on my knees
this is where i belong
this is home my home

only you know how to satisfy
this hunger inside of me
i’m you little blackbird
you love to make me scream

who would have thought
through all this pain
my truth would be exposed
you did…

you knew me better than i knew myself
you saw my confusion
in the way i came crawling back to you

the needing
the bleeding
i’m conditioned
to always want more

but you make me wait…

I am Indigo

Anyway

December 26, 2018

He was pointing at the moon but I was looking at his hand.
He was dead anyway, a ghost. I’m surprised
I saw his hand at all. The moon, of course, is always
There — day moon, but it’s still there; behind the clouds but
it’s still there. I like seeing things: a hand, the moon, ice
in a highball glass. The moon? It’s free, it doesn’t
cost you anything so go ahead and look. Sustained attention
to anything — a focus, a scrutiny — always yields results.
I’d live on the moon probably except I think I’d miss
the moonlight, landscaping craters with clay roses in earthshine
and a reasonable excuse to avoid visiting hours
at the mental hospital. In space, no one can hear you
lying to your mom: “Can’t make it, Mom. It’s
a really long schlep.” The coffee’s weak and the coffee cake’s
imaginary. You’re not missing anything. Inside: a day room
and a day pass. Outside: a gazebo under a jackfruit tree.
The other inside: a deeper understanding of the burden
and its domestic infrastructure. Make yourself white.
Make yourself snow but the black bears trample
your landscape like little black dots that show up on x-rays.
It is not enough to be a landscape. One must also become
the path through the landscape, which is creepy. Truly.
The sun melts the snow, the bears wander off, the leaves
tremble like all my sad friends. I can still see his hand.
Once, in a fable, the moon woke the dead. Buried
underground, its light was too much to bear. How did it
get there? Greed. The brothers who owned it had it
buried with them. Later, St. Peter hung it in a tree.
The dead went back to bed, allegedly. One wonders why
a story like this exists. Who wrote it and to what end?
An ingenious solution: trees. Cashew, avocado, fig,
olive. Put it in a tree. Hide it in plain sight and climb
higher. We are all of us secret agents, undercover in our
overcoats, the snow falling down. Little black dots.
Some dream of tall things – trees, ladders, a rope trick.
My dreams are filled with bricks, or things in the shape
of bricks. Rectangles in the hot sun. A cow, a car,
a carton of cigarettes. Even my imagination sleeps
when I sleep and why not rest? Why crash the party
on the astral plane? You’ll just be too tired to go
to the real party later. Have you ever eaten
Swedish meatballs at a dream party? They taste like
your blanket, because they are your blanket.
My imagination wants breakfast burritos. It refuses
to punch the clock until then. I could eat six but then
I’d need a nap. A breakfast that puts you back to sleep
is useless. Dear bears, we must not hibernate!
The bathroom tile is always wet and slippery and the door
from sleeping to waking always sticks and squeaks
but I have arrived, triumphant, with corporate coffee!
Tawnya has written our names on the paper cups
in her immaculate cursive. Her eyes are dead
and lusterless but her heart is in the right place, I guess.
Somewhere deep in her chest, I guess.
We take our hats off and get down
to business. “You got plans tonight, Dick?”
“Eight dollar spaghetti dinner and all you can sing
karaoke at the Best Western. Gonna school
Pace and Killian in the finer points of falsetto.”
Not even one hour later: smoke break
in the breezeway by the handicapped bathroom.
Why is it we believe we only have one soul?
Because it’s easier to set the table for one. And you can
sing your dinner tune to yourself while you eat over the sink.
The throat of the sink: silent. The throat of the argument:
more silverware, a tablecloth, gratitude, more souls.
A kid under a tablecloth insists he’s a ghost. A table
underneath a tablecloth is, I guess, like the rest of us,
only pretending to be invisible. Or worse:
dressed for work and not in the mood for, you know,
how it all plays out, always the same ways, boring times infinity.
“When I grow up I’m going to be a truck,”
says the kid underneath the tablecloth, and that’s one way
to deflect the weight of the inevitable, to insist on possibility
in the face of grownups and the pumice of their compromises.
The trees die standing. My Spanish teacher told me this.
I had conjugated the verbs beforehand and taped them
to the bottom of my sneaker. Cheater, yes. Also uninvested
in the outcome. She could tell. Nothing to be done about it.
Verbs of being and verbs of action. We, neither
of us, were doing much anyway at the time and the room was
too hot. I think she meant unroot, which is a good thing to mean
but a difficult thing to hear when you’re living under someone
else’s roof. I climbed trees then, too. Then climbed back down.
How do I tell you how I got here without getting trapped
in the past? I suppose that’s a bigger question than I expected.
“Hey Dick, tell ‘em about that one time when we made out.
That was a good time.” Yes, it was. And yet
should we really spend our velocities on backwards motion?
Yes. Any motion, every motion. It’s spring, green, take off
your coat, pull down your cap, roll up your sleeves, we’re
hunting, we’re arrows, we’re stag in a meadow, in a frenzy.
“Like I said, Dick. That was a good time.”
Soul 1: Was it a good time?
Soul 2: I had fun. You seemed to like it.
Soul 3: He’s no Neil Armstrong.
Soul 2: Few are.
Neil Armstrong: Hush.
“He was such a colicky baby. Always fussing and crying.
As if he didn’t want to be here at all. Right, Dicky?”
No, mom. I don’t remember. And you’re not supposed to be
in this part of the poem. You come back later, near the end,
with the ghost and the hand and the moon, after dark, after
the gimlets. “Sweetie, you asked for prompts and it’s getting dark
on the East Coast. Tick tock. And don’t type drunk.”
Dear East Coast, I’m sorry it’s getting dark. It must be problematic,
living in the future, always a few steps ahead, knowing
things you shouldn’t say, since they haven’t happened
to the rest of us yet. And Poland? I don’t dare wonder
what you know about tomorrow. “Your grandma was from Poland.”
I know, mom. And grandpa was handsome and you
were the smart one and the pretty one. “Still am. Poor Barbara.
You know, Dicky, I’ve been out of the hospital for a while now.
Remember how you promised you wouldn’t write about me
while I was alive, Dicky? Remember? So if you’re
writing about me that must mean something, yes?”
You’re not sticking around for the end, then. “No, you’re
doing fine, Squish. And yes, I miss you, too.”
We cannot tarry here. We must march, we must bear the brunt.
Smoke break: in the alley by the oleanders, the pink ones.
Dear East Coast, it is getting dark here too now. Suddenly.
“It’s getting late, Little Moon. Sing them the song.”
It’s not that late, Mr. Kitten.
“You are my moon, Little Moon. And it’s late enough.
So climb down out of the tree.”
Is it safe? “Safe enough.” Are you dead as well?
Soul 1: Sing.
Soul 2: Sing.
Soul 3: Sing.
Stag In The Meadow: Sing.
The Black Bears: Sing.
Kid Under The Tablecloth: Sing.
I’ve been singing all day.
“Yes, you’ve been singing all day. And no, I’m not dead, not
everyone is dead, Little Moon. But the big moon needs the tree.”
There is a ghost at the end of the song.
“Yes, there is. And you see his hand, and then you see the moon.”
Am I the ghost at the end of the song?
“No, you are the way we bounce the light to see the ghost.”
He was looking at the moon I was looking at his hand.
He was dead anyway, a ghost. I’m surprised I saw
his hand at all. Once, in a fable, the moon woke the dead.
One wonders why a story like this exists. Who wrote it
and to what end? Sure, everyone wants the same things —
to belong, and to not be left behind — but still, does it help?
Perhaps. Once, in a fable: a man in a tree. Once,
in a fable: the trace of his thinking, the sound of his singing.
I like seeing things: a hand, the moon, ice in a highball glass.
The light of the mind illuminating the mind itself.
Put it in a tree. Hide it in plain sight and climb higher.
We are all of us secret agents, undercover in our overcoats,
the snow falling down.

Richard Siken

“As a dominatrix you must dominate yourself,” says Catherine. “Otherwise you take the chance of killing someone or doing serious damage, so you have to know your limits.” How far will she go? “Blood is only drawn with initiates,” says Beverly. “It is considered a special mark.”

“I stop at what is irreversible,” Madame says. Except when she doesn’t.

Christian first contacted Catherine in 1986 when he was a beautiful young man of 23. He wanted to meet her, to serve her. One day, some years later, he delivered to her a handsome brown box, lined in olive-green velvet, in which lay an exquisite and unique object. It was a branding iron with a carved ivory handle and the initials of Catherine’s nom de plume, “JDB,” on its end. He wanted her to brand him. She did.

“I fell into my dream,” he says of his relationship with Catherine, “and I have never left it.” Over the course of almost 20 years, the marks faded, and a year ago there was another ceremony, to renew them.

Toni Bentley
The Thin End of the Whip

mystical ecstasy and death

December 7, 2018

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death — all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence.

After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

Aldous Huxley
The Rest Is Silence