Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a writer's dream

she is alone. it seems like days since he left. or is it minutes? but no. he didn't leave. she sent him away. threw him out harshly with three gentle words. let me be. she needed to be. alone. to think. to concentrate. to remember. why they had done it. why she had fought him. he'd known better but hadn't argued. well maybe once. hadn't challenged though. hadn't complained. it happened like this.

she said I want this house. the house the agent said hasn't been occupied for years. the house the agent said is food for inspiration. a writer's dream. he said but babe this house is old. look at the peeling paint. the small windows you can hardly see inside. and a gable. who lives in houses with gables anymore? she said please can we look one more time? she said it with a look in her eyes. a look that said and don't argue with me because i've already decided. but then softened the look with i feel it inside. i can write here. i'm inspired. and he silent.

he listens.

takes the key out of his inside coat pocket with trembling hands. inserts it inside the lock. and twists. twists saying are you all right babe? you seem so far away. and she with chattering teeth saying i'm perfectly fine. words gunned from lips so blue in the winter cold. her mind saying yes. her heart saying wait. don't go. and he opening the door. slowly. maybe she will change her mind. and she stepping over the threshold and entering a place without life without living without breakfast or lunch or dinner at the kitchen table with baby tessa crawling around her feet and nibbling at her ankles. a place without.


a chair. a table. a tray with a teacup and teapot and the tea still steaming. a rocking chair still rocking with a shawl smelling of attar spread upon its arm. and he looking with disbelief. and she going to the stairs. climbing the stairs that creak. crack. beneath her feet. and he following. saying this is absurd. but climbing behind her still. and she walking down the corridor. to the big bedroom at the end. their bedroom. and opening the door squealing on rusty hinges. going to the tarnished brass bed like one pulled by invisible hands. sitting on the rotted mattress in the half light seeping through windows stained with age. and he still with her. with her watching the door closing shut with a padded thud. and she shaking shivering wrapping herself in the reeking blanket old and torn and yellowed by time. and he saying will you be all right babe? and she saying let me be. and he thinking he will leave her for a while. he thinking while the snow slaps the windows leaving weeping trickles.

and did she imagine what had happened next?

did she imagine the steadily dripping pipes sweeping water into the corridor and dribbling gray floods over the stairs and onto the rocking chair still rocking and the teapot still steaming below? did she imagine the rattling furnace in the basement vibrating strange mutterings incomprehensible but stark? did she imagine the mice with eyes like tiny inkpots and grins on their chins when caught in her traps? did she imagine the drip of stinking rainwater seeping through the ceiling and onto the floor of her baby tessa's room? did she imagine baby tessa in her crib swinging violently and baby crying in the dark and her running like a madwoman to baby tessa's cribside to find her sound asleep her face polished and serene like a porcelain doll's? and the dreams. did she imagine them too?
dreams of hands purple hands grasping in the dark
dreams of hearts scarlet hearts beating bursting bleeding
dreams of shadows lead shadows embracing broken floors
sleeping dreams haunting
waking dreams haunting more.

she knows what she knows but will not speak. will not ask him back and tell. he would say i told you babe didn't i?

but he returns. for a spell. and he knows. looks with accusing glances at the doors and walls and floors. and she. wrapped in the mist. wrapped in her chamber of shadows and shapes and smells of things watching waiting following seeking. wanting. her. unbuttoning. her dress. button. by. button. with slimy fingers from beneath and beyond. and she the modest girl of long ago now with arms bound above her head
chest imposed
breasts exposed
legs spread wide like a she-lion in heat giving it all away shamelessly
and hearing baby tessa's cries
again and again and again
trying to get up and go to the door but the hands holding her pulling her back to the bed and into the waiting arms and their companions clinging with a plushness undeniable inviting promising delights indescribable and luxurious while baby tessa screams with shrill voice like nails pounding into her eardrums but she unable to abandon the brushing upon her chest upon her breasts of tiny
not two
not five
five hundred scurrying flitting tickling teasing and the inelegant succulent heat between her legs heat not like the stillness of desert and sand but like the drumming of tropic and storm heat rising accelerating to the final crash.
and he. paralyzed. deaf. dumb. blind. but still. listening to the clipped utterings of pleasure she had once reserved for his love. her mouth fizzing. bubbling. foaming. and he. staring into her eyes that he can barely see through the mist floating around her over her into her. and she. within it sunken in unfettered indulgence while held slightly upright by those unseen hands.

and he seeing inside her sublimated world in which the mist reigns.
in which he no longer exists.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conversation In the Semidarkness

I love her. Somewhere in the distance, real or imagined, just around the corner from the nest of his thin sleep, he thinks he hears a siren. I can't do this, he tells himself. I can't.

He pulls his numb arm out from under the covers. He rubs his mouth with the palm of his hand. He flicks on the small reading light on the nightstand. He turns to her, beside him. He glides his stiff fingers over her cool hair and around her gentle face. He pulls her face closer to him, wanting to smell her.

She opens her eyes slowly. Brown eyes that had always beseeched him to love her. And he thinks he does. Love her. He thinks.

"What's the matter?" she says. She yawns. Her breath is intoxicating. Like preserved fruit.

"I can't sleep," he tells her, his own voice unfamiliar to him in the semidarkness. "Do you love me?"

"Oh, not again." She blinks. Her beseeching brown eyes disappear for a flicker, then return to beseech again.

"I need you to tell me," he says. "Please."

"I don't understand why we keep talking about this." She pulls the covers up to her chin. She looks at him.

"No, you don't understand. Period. That's the problem." He's looking into the brown eyes threatening tears, now.

"The real problem is that you don't love me," she says quietly, as if afraid he'll hear her. As if afraid she'll hear herself. "You can't accept me as I am. You can't accept me without wanting to change me. Or wanting to change my past." She pauses, hoping that he will deny her charges. Hoping that he will keep looking into her eyes in this semidarkness and tell her that none of what she just said is true. She doesn't move.

"I don't know how to accept you." This, after a long silence. "A meaningless concept to you, I'm sure," he says harshly, "but I do have a hard time accepting things or people without knowing why I'm doing it." And then he's silent again.

"It's just your nature." She wants to break the tightness. "It's who you are." She turns her back to him. But stays in bed.

"No. This is the dark side of me," he whispers into her hair, which smells like the woods in autumn. Intoxicating. "The me that doesn't know how to be forgiving or humble."

"It's the scientific you." She speaks to the wall she's looking at. She hears her voice reverberating in her ear against the pillow. "Clinical mind over intuitive heart," she says, craving the comfort of her muffled voice in her ear again.

"Do you even care for me?" But he doesn't wait for an answer. "I don't know why you ever did care, to begin with. If you did. Was it the thrill of the chase? A childlike crush? A kindly gesture to another man who seemed lonely?" But then he feels the slightest bit ashamed. What have I done?

"You're cruel," she says. "Not only to me, but even to yourself. And why would I take all this crap from you unless..."

"Yes, yes, and I thank you for your kindness." He jumps in too soon. Not gently enough. He knows she'll think he's shouting at her.

"Just be quiet," she says. Heavy tears prick her eyes. But she doesn't want him to gloat. He would, too. Gloat. "Your words are like mud," she whimpers. "I hate you." But she hates herself more. For crying in front of him. Again.

"You're too sensitive," he tells her, trying to blend a softer hue into his voice. "Or maybe not." He wraps his arms around her warm body under the covers and breathes in the woodsy smell of her skin. Intoxicating. "Sometimes I think I don't know you."

She stiffens. "You don't," she says through her tears. "Can't we talk about anything without your trying to analyze everything and everyone? Like we're all independent and dependent variables in a damn experiment?"

"I have a difficult time with gray. You know that," he says into her ear. A few strands of her hair tickle his lips. "And I don't know how to embellish what I want to say. I just say it. I don't know how to make what I feel look or sound more attractive." Then he's silent. Again. For a moment. And for that moment he asks himself if he does love her. "I want to be the only one," he tells her on impulse. "The only man in your life."

"You are," she whispers.

"But I haven't always been. And I can't love you and know that others have loved you before me. It makes it all incomplete."

She sits up, suddenly, in disbelief. "But you never knew any of them. They needed me and I needed them and it was good for a while and then it wasn't good anymore. And I'm done with that, so why can't we put it behind us?" She dries her tears with the backs of her hands. "I feel like an idiot for telling you about them. But none of them really loved me, anyway. And neither do you."

He pushes his face into her abandoned pillow. "Forgive me," he says. But his voice is smothered. And although she hears him, she knows he doesn't care whether or not she will forgive him.

Such a senseless thing to say, she thinks. Empty. Forgive me. Like the last few drops of gas in your tank when you still have eighty miles to drive and the next gas station is seventy miles away.

They stay together in silence in the semidarkness. The silence of minutes. Short minutes. Like short, labored breaths. Uncomfortable but necessary. Her smell is dripping like venom through an eyedropper into his senses. Intoxicating. He turns away from it. From her.

She climbs out of bed. She pulls up her hair. She bathes. She dresses.

She is ready to leave inside of an hour.

"Will I see you tomorrow night?" he mumbles from bed when she's at the bedroom door, on her way out.

"Mmm. Ten o'clock."

But she doesn't come.

He will miss the curve of her graceful neck above her elegant shoulders. He will miss how her eyes twinkle like stars in the dimness of twilight. He will miss how she gently bites his lower lip with her trembling lips when they kiss. He will miss her radiant smile, inhibited, but radiant. And he will miss her intoxicating smell.

Friday, October 16, 2009

dreaming devotion

of all my dreams
no dream like this
such sweet release
on vagrant stairs
i chant your name
i worship i cry

walking up
on painted walls
legs in chains
scaling perimeter
skirting beam
the ears the eyes

closed eyes
hurt eyes
of heart of mind
my legs in pain
frantic but shy
to reason to stop

your image teases
glint of cheek
of rock of stone
petrifies defies
my discipline my agony
my devotion

do i know you
do i know you
do i know
do i do i

slave to gravity
tortured beast
will i find you there
on high (up high)
waiting (will you)
will i will i

or will you leave
a scribble on skin
an envelope sealed
unsealed revealed
will the demons be
will they will they

what chance have i
to win a round
my cards two-faced
my arms no-handed
giving giving
too much and why

do i dare dream
do i do i

i dream of trains on rotting floors
in narrowing corridors of dusk
and flames from fallen lamps
dancing on torrid waters of sea
and you i kiss and i you kiss
open mouth to closed eye

what dream to dream
can awaken shadows
send them swinging
on painted walls
waltz (waltz)
not die (not die)

do i dare dream
do i do i

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the elements of thrill

what makes your skeleton rattle

is it the anticipation of a victorious afterward
when you have learned a truth about him and
you will watch him lie about it
without his even stopping to breathe

is it the abuse of power when he
does come to you with lowered head
and admits he has made a mistake
and you say too bad too late

is it the quiver of your flesh when you
pass by the house of your lover
knowing he might be at a window
watching you secretly from behind

is it dressing in the dark and
escaping to meet clandestinely
or the triumphal abandon
of getting caught

is it the tremor in your gut when you are
behind closed doors within closed rooms
indulging in what you know is
forbidden but desirable

is it the sharing of the
promise of a secret
or the moment of
its shattering

is it the heinous desire to
burst out laughing at a funeral
or the twisted need to
be laughed at

the ardent glance of zealous worship
or the icy gaze of remote disinterest

the resolve of succumbing to rapture
or the defeat of succumbing to fatigue

the perfume of liquid sex
or the odor of rotting carnage

the arrival at your final destination
or the transformation you endured to get there

the blanketed punch of climax
or the marmalade zigzag of holding back


the moment is
agitated electricity

and the effect is a
transported ripple

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Spirit, Uninvited

She haunted me. That was one misfortune. I played her devilish game. That was the other.

"Do you believe in the spirit world?" she asked me that night, as she stood beside my bedroom window with a satanic smile on her face and the shadow of the fluttering curtain at her feet.

"I don't know. I've never thought about it, I guess." But that was a lie. I had thought about it. I had thought about it when I was on a flight back to Amsterdam, three weeks after it had happened, not because I needed to be there, but because of the memories that burned like acid rolling over my insides, because I thought that by going there, I could somehow open the door and let the pain in all the way, hold my breath and walk through its poisonous cloud, and then walk out, close the door, and leave it at that. But instead, I had walked the streets of Amsterdam like a drunk, homeless wino, staring vacantly into shop windows, not seeing inside, but seeing instead the image of Miranda, seeing her angelic face smile at me, as if she knew. I wanted her back, if only for a moment, to embrace her one last time before I let her go forever. Miranda, everywhere. And I, in Amsterdam. But that Amsterdam was not the city I had known with Miranda.

And she continued. "Did you love Miranda?" If I didn't love her, would I have fallen so deeply into her melting brown eyes the first time I had seen them, fantasized so obsessively over the silk tassels of her chestnut hair, worshipped so devotedly the evasive dip in the middle of her chin? And her voice, which I still hear ringing in my ears when I sit alone, in the stillest stillness. And the endless days waiting to awaken from this coma. And the dreamless, sleepless nights. And the dreams, when they do come, always of Miranda. Was I to blame for having broken down, no longer wanting to pretend, while peace evaded me like marbles rolling down a steep hill? How else to face up to the gravity of this? A carefree life, without thought, without memories, without the irrational obsession that came with knowing I'd never see, never breathe Miranda again - that was what I sought.

As if hearing my thoughts, she said, "It's not the loss of Miranda that's grieving you, you know. It's your loss of her. This is hardly about what she will never have. It's about what you will never have. It's about you. Not her." Her voice had a disturbing quality about it. It was disturbingly truthful.

"Why won't you leave me in peace?" I said, realizing the futility of the question even as I asked it. This wasn't the right time for anyone to be poking holes in the logic I had barricaded myself within. So who was she to just come along and violate my security?

"I want you to know what you don't know about yourself, Jason. Or at least, what you tell yourself you don't know." When she spoke my name I felt a muscle twitch in my face, a nerve flicker in my eye, an invisible hand grasp me by the head and squeeze. Every inflection of her voice fell on my ears like a thunderbolt.

She smiled at me, now. Half-smiled, actually, so I could see the faintest blur of her teeth. There was a wicked twinkle in her exotic eyes. Her lips also were wicked. And they were dangerously inviting. "I need time alone. Please go back where you came from and let me be?" I begged.

She laughed cunningly. "I'll relieve you of me if you take this. It's so sweet. And you're so so sweet. And I'm so so lonely."

And she came toward me with a perfect red grape held out by two fingers with perfect red fingernails. She brought the grape to my lips. And as I opened my mouth to receive her offering, her exotic eyes became exotic empty sockets, festooned with gems of purple and orange and blue, her beautiful lips, a gateway to oblivion, her face, an abandoned carnival mask. The cold grape touched my tongue and rolled slowly into my mouth, its sickly sweetness oozing between my teeth.

I spat out what remained of the grape, rubbing my lips with the back of my hand, as if to remove an indelible smear. And I heard, as if from far away, the grandfather clock downstairs strike the hour of midnight.

"Come with me," she chimed, her voice shimmering like a million crystals, echoing in its madness. "Let me show you how mellow pain can be." She glided out of the window. "I will never leave you," she chanted as she floated across the horizon, graceful as a butterfly.

I awakened in a sweating frenzy, crying out for Miranda, grasping in the darkness, scrambling for the light. I looked at the window, which I was certain I had closed and locked before I'd gone to sleep. The window stood wide open, the curtain fluttering in the wind. And the sky was purple and orange and blue.