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, thoughts

From the inside of the now

Dreaming in stained glass. Images and scenes of my life appearing as sheets of beautiful, painfully-colorful stained glass, wrapped and layered one atop the other like sequential stills on a roll of film. 

The glass is solid, semi-transparent, sticky. It isn’t even glass after all. It’s all made of lollipops. I’m watching from the inside of the now sheet as someone else is picking me up, arranging the stack, trying to bind the lollipop stills of my life into a giant spiral notebook. Trying to look through the layers, to see if there is a title on the cover, but that sheet is lying face down on the table and the only thing I can make out is the inscription etched in scribbles on the inside: 

“With love.”

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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, thoughts

Forget it.

There’s no beauty and no truth in mirages. They shimmer so enticingly, false promises shining like so many fallen stars, calling you near, inspiring you to find the strength to go toward, throwing out all caution and fatigue. You make the trek, stepping cautiously and gently, holding your breath, stripping yourself naked, anything not to disturb the fragile, ethereal being before you. But one false step and the image unravels.

You stop, try to grasp at something, fighting to preserve the dissipating shape before you, picking up the pieces of old words and connections, trying to piece them together — see, look, this was us just a little while ago, there was something here, something important. But no, there wasn’t.

The winds have risen and blown apart the smoke houses that never were, and now you’ve fallen to the ground, fingers picking at quicksand, sinking slowly and without a bit of fight left in you, watching from a distance as the mirage swirls and dances just far enough on the horizon now, all brightness and colors and music, snake-charming another star-struck traveller, the desert quiet and eternal around you, as if to say: the oldest story in the world.

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all, thoughts

Different standards

Again, going too far, hoping for too much. Setting unrealistic expectations, which don’t seem unrealistic because those are the standards I set for myself. Because my instinct is to be completely open, selfless and generous with the people I chose to connect with. Because I want everything and everyone to be their best selves, and combine to form something even greater than the sum of their parts together.

But it’s unfair to expect the same from anyone else. No one else cares or gives so much. I am an anomaly, not the standard. I have to pull myself back, not push others forward. I have to curb, not strive. I have to stop, retract, and equalize.

If I want to coexist with others, I have to be less than my ideal self. Pull my head out of the stars and set my feet on the ground, dig my toes and hands into the earth until my fingernails are black and my skin is rough and smeared. I have to be the lowest common denominator.

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all, inspiration

Utopia

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.  And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.  Progress is the realization of Utopias.”

― Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism

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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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