V. Lucy

I never gave her a toy crown or tiara, for even though she’s my princess she is that to no one else, and the world will only see a cheap circlet of painted plastic bejeweled w/more plastic, and isn’t plastic the fakest of the fake? But she is flesh and toothy grins and an abnormally large head of unruly, imperfect curls that add up to a perfect bouquet to gather in my hands and dig through to find the base to cover in kisses, the kind of pecks reserved for the sweet-smelling brain-cap that protects the unspoiled dreams that float through the misty evening fields. Even the fireflies have silenced their softly smoldering glow that manages to blare through the peace belonging to the mysterious constellations. In this darkness, the black blanket is peppered with those named maps of stars whose names everyone forgets or perhaps never knew, and perhaps they will forget or never even know my princess, but my hand to the god of those heavens, those who remember her eyes, heavenly white-streaked violet eyes, will never forget the warmth they bestow on every living creature from ant to great white whale, and when your heart rises to your smile to answer hers, her spirit jumps higher than any great white’s. I can’t stand to think of how this hard world will place road blocks and hurdles in her path, and can’t bear to bring those on by spoiling the dreams under the brain-cap and curls that smell sweeter than a bouquet of spring violets w/hearts of white and gold, because truly, a plastic crown painted gold would take my princess away. And so she remains crown-less, and while I never call her “princess” to her face, she will always be that to me, curly head to my heart.

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IV. Baby

I hear the baby crying at the other end of the car in shotgun screams pausing only for breath as the train races underground, popping ears and causing discomfort for all but for none so much as this infant whose tiny head must feel as though it is being crushed in a vise grip like a nut in a little handheld nutcracker, the kind that so handily cracks crab shells and lobster claws so someone can pick and pull the white meat from within. The pressure mounts and the shrieks continue and I sit on my hands to actively resist clapping them over my ears and crying for the crying to stop because it’s so unbearable to hear such expressions of pain from a creature so small and unspoiled knowing that not so long from now the pain that causes such tears will come from the pressure within and not without. Everyone’s ears pop and everyone feels discomfort but no one’s physical pain rivals that caused by the internal invisible hand which cracks their bones and picks and pulls the heart meat from within, daring us all to cry in shotgun screams that we cannot allow ourselves to cry. Mummy and Dad try to soothe Baby who wants none of it and continues his gulps and yells and no one on the train can look at him for we all know that in his every tear and sobbing breath is a little of ourselves, a little of the wrenching ache we suppress because we’ve grown and spoiled like an old quart of milk left in a hollow log in a clearing in the woods that none will approach except the bearer of the hand that scraped our guts and left us there to spoil. And so we bury our heads in papers and books and turn up the volume and close our eyes, turning away from the little pan of new milk at the other end of the car with the fresh cream rising and threatening to spill as the train rattles along, because unlike Baby we know our destination approaches rapidly and there is nothing we can do to save the milk that will inevitably spill and spoil.

Excerpt: Free writing on the back of an Eileen’s Cheesecake order slip

2014-08-25 00.45.55

…Mostly, today has been full of water. From my desk, I can see the peace garden and the surrounding apartment buildings. I can judge how hard it’s raining by the funnel near the roof of one building. If it overflows, unable to channel water down the drainpipe, I know it’s pouring, and water is running down the streets w/actual currents. At that point, when the streets become rivers, I always pay attention to which ways the currents flow. They never seem to add up at first glance. The way they run into each other doesn’t seem to make sense, towards and against, independent of any continental divide. And then, w/enough time, you see the hills and valleys of the streets, no matter how slight. Imperceptible on clear days, these seemingly insignificant characteristics completely control the direction of the water. It always makes me pause and appreciate how the minute details count, whether people notice them or not. The height of the curb, the incline of gutter, that pothole. They all affect where these powerful waters go, and that affects everyone. The water falls down, runs back and forth, but you never see it go up. Even so, it disappears. Is that faith? Faith that the torrential waters will dissipate? For me, it’s more like evidence that everything is ephemeral. No matter how unrelenting the water seems, it will relent. Never will it go on forever. “AND THIS TOO WILL PASS AWAY,” right? This joy, this discomfort, this awkwardness, this pain and this contentedness will all fall away. They’ll flow into each other as all the tiny details quietly dictate, before they so unobtrusively evaporate into the ether.

I can’t help missing the beach right now…

15 July 2014

 

III. Water

once there was another life and not on the other side of the world but almost there was a city and through that city ran water so still none knew its depths with certainty but when sticky days dissolved into clammy nights a silence settled creeping in slowly from that water, a silence so earthly that none could call it anything but sincere and the only sounds were the soft splashes of thousands of baby crests against sleeping boats, so constant that the white noise faded into the diegesis of the night

for each night there was another narrative in the stony streets and unmarked alleys alongside the still waters, a story of abrasive praise from voices singing and bodies dancing unbridled and so bold as to interrupt the cool flow that came so naturally to the city in the dark bringing dreams into the unknown depths where on the surface rests the muddled reflection of self so fleeting and removed

and not so far away in any sense of the word lay another world within this world where nights along the city’s river brought the crooning of sidewalk troubadours who stood below lights of the blue violet and moon variety on smoother pathways worn from loving footsteps walked from all walks of life, where arts of every kind from high and low flooded over the majestic parapet and seeped into the ghastly river and in the darkness there are the echoes of lingering symphonic strings letting loose last measures and of breezes passing pages of paperbacks and of film reels rolling and of scuffed wheels surfing spray painted surfaces and of a whisper bidding good night sweet prince

below the bridge into the unknown drift away the echoes into a fog that will burn off when the sun returns and as the minutes fall the last figures fade in the darkest of all the hours but there is no fear of isolation for in evening you found your face in the face of every stranger and you couldn’t help but turn away

and elsewhere runs another river before your feet and above you see the paved streets on which pass body after body in a gray rain too dismal to belong to any but the city itself which consists of six story buildings and the arches of that most gothic structure you read so much about where in each beam and stone and pane of glass is the touch of the hundreds of souls who poured life into this house for all the people who came thereafter seeking the serenity that dwells below the aged eaves

around the bend in the river those arches exist only in the abstract and along the far bank strolls couple after couple entwining their nerve-filled fingers and you can only imagine that sweet warmth and the spinal shivers and the unseen accordance behind the looks they exchange which betray a serenity of their own, but when you turn about there stands a countenance of camaraderie marked by lines from smiles and sleepless nights defined by endless streams of wine and revelation and from that familiar visage gazes a part of your own self and there beside the lively water you rise and take the gifted grace extended to you from the palm of a kindred hand.

II. Milkshake

it means something to walk down the bustling street in a trench coat drinking a milkshake when it’s freezing and clear and I’m not quite sure what that something is but to be in that condition is special not precious or unique but special in that not everyone can walk down the street with a chocolate milkshake in January

and nobody looks but everyone is jealous of the trench coat that can walk alone and drink his body chilly instead of heating his hands and heart but they don’t know that in his chest rests only an empty shell of fragile salty caramel that can break at any given moment and so is surrounded by a strong igloo constructed for self-preservation purposes

maybe he is the type that wishes he could be built as a tiny cup overflowing with all the life he can’t retain but in the grand picture that the red capped man has seen in the soft eye of a newborn and the glaring reflection of spectacles resting on a wrinkled nose there is a warning of the wool coats and window lights

for the skyscrapers cast shadows that blend together and it is impossible to distinguish where one shadow ends and another begins for they flow together like miserable memories of a threadbare coat and thin soled shoes so sadly worn over years of pounding pavement where the only lights come from small offices in high rises severe and cold, and each window stands for a multitude of thick woven coats and heavy boots shrouding skeletons so much more melancholy than the man below in the red cap who holds a broom and sweeps the streets with determined motions, a man not born to do such work but who does it with all his heart

when you trade the light cotton for wool and street shadows for unwavering window lights you don’t look out that window at the red caps on the streets at the patched jackets that slide through the shadows and that is a sad thing in itself for all the red caps and patched jackets can look up at the lights and sigh with all the pain of the dark valley and the joys in moments of light

in the street for an eternal moment stands the uncertain trench coat seeing in a revelation that you can’t hold your milkshake and also chill your igloo and you can’t stand atop the building and below where the lights shine too.

I. Tree

today is still today until tomorrow and the sky is gray this ink is pink and all I feel are chills down my severed spine leaving me immobile below the bare branches breaking at intervals to free themselves from the slowly dying trunk of a rotten tree masquerading as a stronghold and guardian of children’s not so little treasures

an arrowhead and two weathered stones and a fragile cornhusk dolly so large in heart lie in a damp hole hidden from all but the girl and boy roaming the woods primeval along the stream of icy life so painful and alive and painfully killing everything alive that dares to try and survive

the breeze is light and gives soft kisses to tips of noses and hands held tight, aging little youths a thousand years or more with each passing second and gnaws at their insides like the ruthless death pawing at the inside of trees waiting for the time when nothing can stand alone any longer and all crutches have vanished and in this moment of weakness someone else finds strength through unnatural evil of the worst kind and schadenfreude set deep in the soul rotting it away like the ruthless death pawing at the inside of trees

and so goes death and so goes life and so goes miserable joy and sweet sorrow of the highest kinds and so sinks the remorse and melancholy contained in the sky so gray and the pink ink and my straight spine which bends and flexes as I move through midnight woods and beyond.