all, prose & poetry, thoughts

Take me

….to the old library in your home town. We will leaf through frail pages and trace the faded photographs of your ancestors with our fingers. We will sit down in a fort of books and journals pulled from the shelves and search through forgotten family trees and piece together untold stories. We will imagine what our lives would be like in those sepia tone years, how our days would be filled with work and fresh air, and our nights — with candlelight and barefooted siblings and freshly baked bread. We will find your namesake in a crumbling tome.

….to the bridge above the city on a moonless night. We will rise above the traffic and the taxis darting through the dark like so many fireflies among sleeping skyscrapers. We will watch the water of the river below us ripple and fall still in the breeze. We’ll look up at the stars and make up constellation names the way the ancients used to, connecting mythical beings to human fates born under their dim glow. We’ll write ourselves into the story of a star and float upwards, stretching our hands out until we touch the sky.

….to your windowsill, both of us breathless after a kiss so long and tight that all the air leaves our lungs. We will wrap ourselves in blankets and climb up into the window, nesting in that portal between the entirety of the world outside and your bed, still warm, where our shadows now stretch. We will share a cigarette from a pack your brother left behind, dangling our bare feet, our toes touching, unable to let go. We will feel innocent and young, like high schoolers drowning in new love, all the roads and possibilities still open, twinkling ahead of us and calling forth.

….to an island in the north, where fir trees and winds rule the landscape and the sea is onion-green and wild. We will come by boat and gather driftwood for a totem pole you want to build, and make a fire out of bark and pine cones. You will take the dog out for an early morning walk in the fog and come back hours later with a new song you wrote among the pines. I’ll make the coffee on a rusty stove and curl up on the porch, a ball of wool and fleece and notebooks on the mossy logs, writing a story that can only be told in a place like this, where the air is cold and filled with smoke and seaweed and your music drifting in the morning wind.

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all, prose & poetry, thoughts

Blink

Again, doused in, saturated with the soul of the city. Milti-faceted, crystalline, it shimmers and adapts, like a peote trip gone urban.

On one hand — glamorous parties, willowy, beautiful people, a sea of buildings overflowing with talent and ingenuity, each skyscraper — like a giant ladder with an open ending waiting for a top. Everywhere: bubbling chances, infinite roads to probability. Even trash cans radiating with distinct identity and auras of modern art, opium dens of inspiration at street corners.

And then you blink. The whole city is a trash can, stuffed to exceed capacity and the aroma to match. Humans crawl up and down the reeking piles, scavenging for the distinctly rotten bits and feeding on each other. The men are lizards and orangutans, the women — snakes and yapping poodles. And everywhere — ostriches of both sexes, filthy and loud, stupid birds that can neither sing nor fly. Flapping their deformed little wings, demanding tribute from the universe; sticking their heads into the sand when the universe roars back in anger.

Then — the rats. Rats in the subway tunnels: big, mean cannibals, with steel for eyes. Rats on the ground: rats that used to be squirrels — grey, with patches of burned, dirty fur, diseased and demented, hopping rabies personified, glaring at polluted trees in sheer Shakespearean madness. Rats in the air: pigeon-shaped gangs of battered, scarred, red-eyed mafiosies. Watching, pecking, conspiring. Waiting to move in. Each straight out of a Chuck Palahniuk macrocosm.

Rats in the alleyways: meowing and clawing, rats in baby carriages: sqeeling and demanding, rats in neighbourhood dives: drunk and vulgar, rats in posh store-fronts on 5th Avenue, rats swimming inside corpses swimming in the East River.

Blink. Lights, music, beacons piercing clouds over the skyline! Flashes of worship, crimson carpets, opening nights like corks popping on hundred-year-old wine. Rows and rows of perfectly-filed teeth, flashing in tune with the cameras, nails — red, lips — redder.

Blink and the masks come off. Blink and you lose your mind. Blink and the world collapses, like a house of dirty cards in the hands of a drunkard. And then, ding-ding, the subway doors open and it’s your stop.

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all, prose & poetry, thoughts

The jet stream 

Flying that night, caught in a fierce jet stream — the pilot’s voice emerging over the racket: “…there is nothing we can do about the turbulence, ladies and gentlemen, except ride it out…” — colors fading in and out of themselves outside, becoming sea-air-cloud-sea-night, ink pens bursting in perfect synchronicity over in-flight magazine puzzles at sudden jumps in cabin pressure, everything so free and beautiful and utterly unstoppable. At home in a tearing steel machine like nowhere else, thoughts rupturing in tune with all that ink: what’s anything if home and self and wisdom live among the brutal deadly winds at 37,000 feet? what are words which haven’t turned to molten liquid, haven’t fought and slaughtered a thousand samurai, haven’t shattered their own bones and minds to be worthy of depicting the frailest petal blush? what-and-what-and—

I’m smearing the ink into skin, rubbing it in deeper. I’m accelerating evolution, reinventing everything from flesh to bone. Imperative to attain the ability to write in blood, now only how to get the ink to smear that deep. My fingers belong at the birth of all civilizations, the tips are now black and from them spring mad naked spirits; they clutch to the night’s ends and pull it against time. My hair turned to sand sometime between the sea and the palm trees, my skin is marble — cold and immune to the tropical sun, and now my blood is ink. I must be passing over land now, I must be over you wherever you are, I’m exploding and little pieces of sand are landing — a grain at a time, a steady route to follow back to the sky, back if I ever have to find my way. Land (everyone claps as we collide into the runway), drive home, plug in — my brain is ones and zeroes, my fever exists in keystrokes and in pixels.

New York stands warm and strong tonight, a fortress of toxic air and unrelenting hope. If only dragons flew their hunting rounds at night, breathing fire and navigating over skyscrapers, if only the trees held council and raised their roots up high — with concrete, buildings, everything — oh, to live in a city where the wind gods assemble shrines among lights and bridges. Here, I build my camp. From here I will wage my battles. 

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all, prose & poetry

Nothing at all

We were in a boat, sailing in the North Pacific. That’s when the bombing started. We had to turn off course and hide behind a cliff of a small rocky island. Frantically scanning the radio waves, we finally caught a part of an English-speaking broadcast. Someone was saying “…we were so focused on Iraq, and now North Korea will destroy us all…”

So there we were, just a few kilometers off the coast of a post-apocalyptic nuclear battle station. Watching as the missiles were taking off in all directions one after another. We sat in our boat and watched. There was nothing else to do. Someone would get up once in a while to make sandwiches, or bring another bottle of whiskey. They tasted amazing, those sandwiches. Crusty bread and cold cheese. 

The missiles were leaving beautiful trails of smoke, curling and glowing as the sun had started to set. The closer the sun got to the horizon, the deeper the smoke’s color became. By then, we could hear the sound of explosions from where the missiles hit. It took just less then a minute between the fireball taking off and the sound of shattered everything.

That’s when the sun stopped setting, hanging just barely an inch over the horizon. The ocean itself began exploding, and water seemed to be draining out from under us. The boat was dragged along with the retreating water, and then just sank into the drying sea-bed. From here, we had a better view of the nuclear station. It had also lowered into the sand, with its metal upon metal and steam and endless rails and ladders. The missiles kept taking off, but there weren’t any people in sight. We watched as gravity itself seemed to shift, and the sun was suddenly in the wrong place. The ocean floor was breaking up and gallons of sand were slipping off somewhere deep into the newly formed cracks. Someone passed me an almost empty bottle, and I let it slip out of my hands, off the boat, into one of the cracks. It disappeared, and someone else laughed, and then…

I woke up and the TV was talking. A bald guy in a worn suit was saying something about inevitability. Someone must’ve left it on. Nothing wrong with the world. Nothing at all.

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all, prose & poetry, thoughts

Instructions for Breaking Free

Paint nail polish over your broken dreams. The heart, or what’s left of it, should be tied firmly to the rib cage. Use staples and duct tape to hold the pieces together if necessary. Wash out memories in industry-strength bleach. Throw old photos into the rinse cycle. 

Douse your soul in 2-3 liters of alcohol daily for about a week. Follow up with equal amount of tea and juices. Refrain from ingesting food throughout the process. Avoid contact with anyone capable of commenting on how thin, starved and sickly your soul has become.

Drape sexy red velvet securely over stapled, duct-taped heart, and allow beautiful strangers to cleanse your mouth with kisses and body with imaginary love. Wake up, re-adjust drapery, repeat until the velvet sticks permanently. 

Resist urges to indulge in any artistic impulses. If you must create, discard these misguided fruits immediately by fire or nuclear weapon. Resist thoughts of looking back, chopping hair, reading religious publications, lemming/virginiawoolf tendencies, and calling mom. Resist calling anyone, for that matter, as it is crucial from now on to only communicate with those who will initiate such actions. Cross out names of anyone who hadn’t done so in over two weeks. 

Substitute warm couch blankets with fresh, freezing air; rhapsodic music with silence; TV with yoga. Imagine your body as an icicle filled with frozen flowers. Turn your arms into tree branches and stand still long enough for birds to complete a nest between your fingers. Your hair is now a wind-torn spiderweb over a mountain rock. Gales and snow-storms holler among the cliffs. You are now free.

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all, prose & poetry

The Fall

It’s been one of those months that build up inside you, day by day, each hour a composite of lead-weight minutes, and the seconds all ticking from within your rib cage, tick-tock atop a tickety-tock, all at once, like a flurry of water drops on cement, loud, pointed, neverending, each a tiny kick, cracking the surface until wild underground weeds push their way through and take over. Eyes blink slower, hair rustles, whispering amongst itself, and the heartbeat becomes an overflowing river of white noise. Something will implode, alone in the proverbial forest, with not a soul to hear nor make a sound.

You write the same thing over and over. Start with a doodle and the inevitable comes out. Sketches of blank-faced women, thin arms ending in long, alien fingers, falling, floating in space. Sentences that drag on, imagery of decay, destruction from within, people morphing into something inanimate, entrapment, something impending to both awe and indifference.

You try to hold onto your old gods and their prophets: a sea of pink elephants swimming in the rising sun; impending apocalypse; a dozen photos of the sunset spread out on a bed; an old envelope filled with a moment, a breath, a key; the sounds of enormous flying whales, their wings flapping-flapping-flapping, moving higher and higher and taking you up up up, beyond air, beyond sound and life, to somewhere that never existed but matters more than anything that ever has.

You stagger, pull up, fall. The sky above is actually cracked white plaster, pipes forming a crude geometric design alongside its breadth. Wind is gushing in the largest of the tubes, clouds escaping among steely weldings, precipitation forming in small shuddering droplets.

Mesmerized, you are unable to recall the oldest of all things – how to breathe, move, struggle. Your thoughts form into hollowed out caverns, framed by impenetrable rock and darkness. You forget what came before, what brought you here, what lies beyond the present and eternity. Sounds descend through a burrow of interweaving nerves. Vision calibrates among lost concepts of dimension and time.

You focus on the last remnants of what was memory and language. You put words to what are floating, unsteady instances in the quandary of being. This here is a stone, a brick, one upon another. Between them, a solid membrane and another above, and here, yes, another brick, hundreds of them, in tall, proud columns, gargantuan rows. That’s around and below. A body of you stacked in still, umber pieces.

Abandoning your dreams of the sky, you try to sink into the earth, reach for the groundwater, sprout roots and harden with bark. In a last breath of reason, you absorb this solid new self until the reality of it is irreversibly set and wrong. Despite your best efforts, you have not become a tree, but an empty, abandoned building.

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