Twinkle, twinkle little bat. How I wonder where you’re at.
Credit: Igor Morski
Despite what you may think, a real friend is not someone who will stand by you in hard times or beside you in good times or even your dog. A real friend sends you stuff to read, knowing what you like. Well, maybe that isn’t entirely true, but I do appreciate when someone pays attention to my ideas and tastes. Take, for example, the article a friend sent me by Jill Lepore entitled “The Man Behind Wonder Woman Was Inspired by Both Suffragettes and Centerfolds,” appearing on NPR three days ago that starts off this way:
The man behind the most popular female comic book hero of all time, Wonder Woman, had a secret past: Creator William Moulton Marston had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y. And the best part? Marston was also the creator of the lie detector.
Only someone fixated on the subject of the “mistress”–all we own and are enslaved to–as I am, would not only find that opener giggle-in-excitement enticing, but would find the hallmarks of a true friend in sending me such a tasty morsel. Unfortunately, that was really the best part of the write up until the end, when the writer mentions Lady Gaga. The in-between was information-light on Wonder Woman, her story, and the author’s influence by First Wave feminism and Vargas pin-ups in creating the character. Anyone who has seen her knows that she is, in part, an early feminist cultural production (freeing others and herself from the chains of bondage in the name of justice and truth) while socially palatable as traditional object of fantasy female–the voluptuous dominatrix (but sometimes submissive) with American good looks.
Despite my disappointment, the subject did inspire a meditation, once again, on gender performativity and camp, especially after the ending citation of modern day’s most notorious, campy pop gender-sexuality blender–the Lady G. Of course, for me, all roads lead back to Judith Butler. Gender role playing and displaying–what Lady Gaga capitalizes on–with its concommitant effects is Butler’s preoccupation in much of what she writes. In her book Gender Trouble, Butler posits that gender is not merely a biological category and gendered behaviors are not natural; gender is a learned performance of the role female or male in a given culture that has been repeated and imitated throughout a society, performed roles passed down from prior generations. Gender is performativity, not a binary–male or female–but a fluid space on a spectrum of culturally produced notions of the “norm.”
In other words, if you take Barbie, on one extreme of the scale of “girlness” and Superman as the opposite extreme, of “boyness,” most people fall somewhere in between those apogees, closer to or farther from society’s picture of the ideal girl or boy. There are Barbie doll models and there are androgynous indecipherables walking among us. I remember reading in graduate school this passage, which struck me with its truth:
The act that one does, the act that one performs, is, in a sense, an act that has been going on before one arrived on the scene. Hence, gender is an act which has been rehearsed, much as a script survives the particular actors who make use of it, but which requires individual actors in order to be actualized and reproduced as reality once again.” (“Performative” 272)
Until today, years after graduate school, I respect her concerns with the politicalization of gender, the reiteration of gender norms that marginalizes those outside the “norm” and her advocacy for counteraction through exposing the nature of gender as an inherited role. Getting folks to realize that gender is produced, not fate, is the first step to understanding it as arbitrary and a choice, neither a prison nor a target for shame and isolation if performed “incorrectly” by society’s standards, i.e., girls who are too much like boys and vice versa. Butler believes that to allow for an inclusiveness of those traditionally marginalized from the heteronormative gender actualizations–homosexuals and transgendereds–alternative performances need to be disseminated in the population, ones that perform alternative gender iterations.
Here’s where Lady Gaga comes in. She mixes up the gender space with non-normative gender depictions. Whereas Wonder Woman is the straight laced asexual power house “feminist” constrained by imagination and norms of her time (created in the 40’s) and those of her creator, thus her bondage to men (See Lepore’s article), Lady Gaga is a shotgun approach to blasting traditional notions of gender and sexuality in her outrageous meant-to-shock live and video performances of vixen lover, lesbian or straight, mistress or chained submissive, engaged in violent or passive poses of gestured gender and sexuality.
Wonder Woman’s feminism is one focused on proving that a woman, in her mixed portrayal–beauty, chastity, submission, virtuosity, strength, domination–is powerful and worthy of respect, can even save society. She competes with men on a man’s level, physical powers, though hers are emitted from material adornments and tools, her bracelets and lasso, harkening bedroom S&M exploits.
Lady Gaga, on the other hand, is a mesh of exaggerated, contradictory blends of the classic and “aberrant” imagery, the socially “non-normative” gender performances such as gay, lesbian, and transexuals. She thematizes gender as a performance. Camp productions such as those of Lady Gaga in her live and video performances do not merely challenge and expose–something Butler might nod to–gender stereotypes, but they also question heteronormative performances of more sedimented institutions such as monogamy, in addition to alluding to the political history of violence against women. Her Telephone video is a gala explosion of deployed gender, sex and violence.
Whereas Wonder Woman as precursor served as the mixed-gendered asexual icon of the truth about gender and role playing, Lady Gaga overplays and performs a cacophony of gender, sexuality and feminist history.
Exposing the inherited cultural reproduction of gender as well as the strategy to deploy alternative social productions of gender is important not only for little girls who want to grow up to be paid equally to their male counterparts and for anyone who wants to love freely and openly without fear of homophobic hate crimes, but also for breaking up the binary that gender has been, historically produced and transmitted from generation to generation. Wonder Woman needs to break those chains, invisible and hard to grasp. Or perhaps we need a man to do it, someone like Mr. Rogers, who, on one of his shows, exposes the Wicked Witch of the North as mere costumed grandma–a performed role; nothing to be afraid of kids (click on the link to view). And just in time for Halloween.
So, who kicks ass, Wonder Woman as suffragette foremother or Lady Gaga (click on the link to find out) living off the capital of her inherited legacy?
I cannot vouch for the validity or weight of the studies in this article, but the findings range from “duh” to “really?” “Five Studies That Offer Fascinating Conclusions About Human Sexuality”
Christopher Ryan, co-author of Sex at Dawn in this summary of a TED talk discusses the origins of sexual behaviors and patterns growing out of an agricultural society and notes that the monogamy outgrowth of the Victorian era succeeded a more open sexual model based on needs and dictates of a more flexible community. I have excerpted a key passage below:
Ryan explains that our sexual patterns are an outgrowth of agricultural models—which accounts for only about five percent of human history. For the other 95 percent, human sexuality was “a way of establishing and maintaining the complex flexible social systems, networks, that our ancestors were very good at.” In hunter-gatherer societies, there were overlapping sexual relationships between members of a community—a more fluid system than the Victorian model we’re wedded to today. In fact, several contemporary societies around the world argue against the sexual myth we’ve built up, too.
“My hope is that a more accurate updated understanding of human sexuality will lead us to have greater tolerance for ourselves, for each other, greater respect for unconventional relationship configurations like same-sex marriage or polyamorous unions, and that we’ll finally put to rest the idea that men have some innate instinctive right to monitor and control women’s sexual behavior,” Ryan says. “And we’ll see that it’s not only gay people that have to come out of the closet: we all have closets we have to come out of.”
Another interesting data point about bisexuality as a transitional phase or an identity in its own is detailed in question and answer format below:
Question: Is bisexuality a sexual orientation, something that’s temporary or an outgrowth of the sexual fluidity we all exhibit?
Research: In a 2008 study, Lisa M. Diamond of the University of Utah presented the results of a decade-long assessment of nearly 70 women who identified as lesbian, bisexual, or sexually unlabelable. Five times over the course of the study, the women detailed their sexual identities, attractions, behaviors, and their social and familial relationships.
Results: Based on Diamond’s findings, bisexuality is not a “transitional stage that women adopt ‘on the way’ to lesbian identification” or an “experimental phase” for heterosexuals. Her results, instead, supported that, “Bisexuality may best be interpreted as a stable pattern of attraction to both sexes in which the specific balance of same-sex to other-sex desires necessarily varies according to interpersonal and situational factors,” she writes.
And finally, another point of interest for me was the question of the sequential order of arousal and desire in humans:
Question: Which comes first—desire or arousal?
Research: In a study from 2004, described in this New York Times article, Ellen Laan, Stephanie Both and Mark Spiering of the University of Amsterdam examined participants’ physical responses to sexual images.
Results: The research indicates that we respond physically to highly sexual visuals before our mind even engages with them. In other words, desire doesn’t precede arousal—it’s the other way around. And we aren’t even aware it’s happening.
It’s a brief but interesting read and something a little more substantial than a five reasons for sexuality or six steps to a better sex life article.
Some might call you a rapist. I know you thought yourself one long ago, but funny how that doesn’t matter now. You were an enrapturing Minotaur, as graceless in body and limb as you were fluid in serum tongue, like mercury measuring my heat.
I was an older child (who looked like you), as you were too in retrospect, only much older than I though not so today. You merely sketch the outline of adult now in your busy importance.
Back then, you taught me heavenly hurt love, called me Lady, read me the mythological scenes of poetry penned just for me, the words mere song seeping into my uncomprehending color-less imagery. It might have been Frost or some other celebrated required reading poet; I know not now and memory is a poor substitute for imagination, but I knew there was magic and I was enchanted–lying on your cot, head cradled in the tee of your forearm and elbow, both of us facing the opened pages held fast above our upturned eyes and the Beatles Rubber Soul album playing “Norwegian Wood” softly below the bass hum of your words.
Staring at the mind-image that was you while in my basement bedroom reverie, I later wrote you letters of teenage wonder and blossoming wander lust and…just lust. Truth is, we were narcissistic flings, a trip into fantasy backpack floats through alpine crests of European mists, of narrow cobblestoned canals and sweet Portuguese Porto, a tent, a station, a kiss, a forest fuck, all for the flavor of black and white romance in tender hearts of sweet meats and fleshly oats of breakfast cereal dreams.
They came in the middle of the night as they do
crumpled in a catatonic somnambulant stupor,
stone cold molded to mrsa laced cell benches,
floors with black mold splotches scattered and
mad banging blasts of batons and bitches’ yells
through bullet proof windows looking out and into
the overcrowded bodies shivering and fetalized
in various states of dress, undress, partial dress.
Picked up without warning, no warning but panic
and running from parties, trips to the supermarket,
dance halls, bedrooms, hangouts on the streets,
of pink, purple, green, magenta or ray blue ratted
hair, tattooed arms, legs, faces, and necks, pierced
faces and breasts, rotten and missing toothed,
blotchy skin pimpled, bruised, track armed, skinny,
bloated S/he’s from teens to terminal, mid to low.
And they slept for days, awakening only to the yell
for meds, health checks, court, chow, count or call
but barely scraping their hides from their sheets
for the shouts, curses and kicks of their cell mates
to get up and out or get t.v. rights and room taken
causing everyone around them to suffer more while
the days on end of motionless moaning sleeping
keeps on blacking them out from the painful blame.
It’s just like those left behind, on the streets, and
in the car–their kids, their dogs, and their wo/men,
their mothers they abused, their fathers who left
their sisters and brothers they don’t even know of–
some of them learning how to get high at 9 years
when dad or mom showed them how to burn even
and how to smoke it until it made it all smooth cool
and smell like the chemical resin burning off wood.
Those around them suffer while they sleep and
awaken to too much lost time and commotion
until they emerge day after day after day then on
to a slowly formed former human participant–
mother, daughter, sister, wife, partner and mate–
who smiles, cares about others and herself to
protect those she loves and comforts strangers
in a sisterhood of sorority chat, slights and H/er.
And just when their skins clear, their hopes appear
they will go back–to the streets, to the madness
to pimps and scams and stealing and ever to H/er
their mistress, the one they all know and sell for
their soul, their children’s, mothers’, fathers’ and
partners’ and mates’, all for H/er–what no one else
can give, the thrill that only their mistress gives
then takes and takes and takes and takes and takes…
Gregorio woke from his nightmare with a start. The sheets stuck uncomfortably to his sweat drenched body as he fought free to sit up in the darkness. He placed his hands over his face and massaged his temples, then reached back hoping he would find her in the absence. The pillow was cold, reminding him that her weight and warmth no longer rested there.
He glanced up and away from his loneliness and caught the glimmer of moonlight in glass eyes. Across the room, still and silent she sat, the beautiful doll, Marion. She had belonged to his wife as a child and had been passed down to their daughter… before they both were lost to this world.
Gregorio stopped himself from thinking of it and stood, approaching the doll slowly. Her glass eyes watched his every step curiously. He knelt and stroked her hair softly, imagining his wife and daughter’s fingers tracing the same path through those golden tresses. This was how they were all connected now, all he had left, memories shared through the porcelain flesh of this doll, and her silken hair.
Gregorio struck a match and lit a candle so that he could better examine the doll. Marion had been crafted by the finest doll maker in the realm and was given to his wife when she was a child after her sister had drowned. It had been made with the idea of becoming a replacement of sorts, to calm her anxieties of facing life without her identical twin.
Now facing his own tragedy of loss, Gregorio saw just how much Marion favored his wife’s appearance and by blood extension, their daughter. He stroked the lines of the doll’s face, tracing his large fingers over her brow and cheeks, down the bridge of her nose and longingly over her lips. He lingered there for a moment, looking at her face reflect the candlelight, and gazed into the depths of her brown glass eyes.
Gregorio sighed and picked up the doll, carrying her gently in his arms and placed her into the bed in the place of his wife. Marion’s green dress bloomed out with lace like petals of a flower, and he stood over her, gently unfastening the wooden buttons of her blouse. As he parted the fabric above her breasts he could see the delicate joints at her shoulder and neck, the skin underneath pure, unpainted and white. Gregorio moved the candle closer and gently slipped the layers of fabric off her arm.
The joints clattered as he placed Marion’s hand above her head. It was then that he noticed small nipples had been painted in red on her breasts. He stroked the mark softly with a thumb and then checked the other side, repeating his motions across the porcelain nipple. The stain was permanent, as was the memory of his wife’s sensitive nipples.
He’d been fond of teasing them with his fingers, her soft nipples growing stiffer against his grip. He continued to roll his hand absent mindedly over the doll’s breasts softly as he removed Marion’s right arm from the sleeve and placed it above her head.
Sliding his hand down her smooth belly he gently removed the dress and bustle to reveal Marion’s crotch, thighs and legs. Her torso was one solid piece with joints for the appendages. Her arms and legs hung on bits of old string, as tattered and frayed as his broken heart. Examining her holes and estimating the strength of those strings, Gregorio left the doll on the bed alone for a moment and disappeared with the candle to rummage in his workshop.
Marion lay there in the dark, naked and cold. The doll maker had cursed her so that she could not move without having someone else manipulating her body. Her eyes fixed on the ceiling and watched the shadows of the leaves chase through the moonlight. She remembered the past fifty years fondly, her time with Gregorio’s wife and child, but her Mistresses were gone – dead. Marion understood that he was the Master now, and she knew she would have to do exactly as he said.
He returned with leather straps of various sizes and a knife but was unable to detect the glint of panic in her eyes. Gregorio set straight into work, spreading Marion’s legs apart and taking another look at the joint. He pressed the knife gently against the string of her left thigh and cut deliberately. Too much pressure, he feared, would shatter the thin bit of porcelain that was to hold her together. Freeing the first string he moved to the second and third, until he was able to remove her leg completely. Marion had felt safe in his arms, secure in his protection and comforted in his gaze – but now she screamed silently behind her dusty and crackled skin, afraid of her fate. His machinations were soon revealed as he began to inspect the ceramic of her torso where he had amputated the leg. His fingers pierced inside her wound, sliding into a spot she’d never felt a man before. Marion struggled to remain still. He held a warm cloth, cleaning carefully around and inside the hole, she was relieved that he’d forced her face into a position he couldn’t see. Her eye lashes fluttered with the pleasure she was experiencing. Marion felt a strange energy growing inside her as he took up a soft bristle brush and scrubbed softly against the edge of the joint.
Once she was clean and dust free, Gregorio lined the inside and outside of her torso with a leather fold, protecting the ceramic where it would come into contact with her leg. She loved the feel of his fingers against her, and the sensation of the leather against her skin was remarkable. Her face flushed and her lips tingled.
He continued the cleansing on the inside of her leg; she could feel the wetness from his cloth dripping down her thigh. Next Gregorio lined the inside edge of her leg with leather and fitted the parts back together by punching holes through for leather straps to replace the old string. As she felt him draw her leg back in place with his knots she struggled not to moan. His touch made her cold flesh feel like no one else’s touch had before. Gregorio repeated the same technique to remove, wash, and pad her shoulders, elbows and knees. His fingers felt wide and warm inside her; she struggled to remain still, parting her lips to moan softly. She barely managed to withhold the noise from him.
As Gregorio finished securing the final tie on her leg, she winced sharply. He had pressed too hard as he tied a knot in the leather straps and the ceramic of her crotch cracked. A cleft formed a roughly curved line up between her legs from the joint where the two halves of her torso met. He cursed and gently examined the fracture. The pressure from his fingers caused slivers of porcelain to fall away, leaving a small uneven diamond shape behind.
Taking his warm, wet washcloth he pressed it into the jagged crevice between her legs, leaving soft folds around the edges. Gregorio tested the pressure, making sure the rag would prevent the fissure from spreading any further up her belly. It seemed to provide enough padding, and he traced his finger softly along the edges of her new folds, feeling where the doll’s torso had split. He carefully tucked the fabric over the sharp ceramic edges.
All these sensations were new and overwhelming to Marion. She lay still, panting from her open mouth, licking her lips. Her body felt warm, wet, and tingly; it was a feeling she’d never known. Gregorio was adjusting the wetness between her legs, his fingers pressing inside her and pulling softly at those folds. She could feel his flesh against her flesh, a pressure building between her thighs as he manipulated her. She remained as still and quiet as she could, a rush of pressure and pleasure roaring in her.
She was close to her first orgasm when he withdrew his hands.
Gregorio sat back and looked at her. Marion’s legs were spread before him, she was now dressed as if in leather garters, her nipples rouged, her porcelain skin parted between her legs, inviting him inside her folds. Her face looked different in this light, her cheeks flushed red, mouth pursed in anxious anticipation. His erection was throbbing as he gazed at his wife’s porcelain doppelgänger.
He cursed himself, blew out the candle and crawled into bed weeping with sorrow over his deceased family; overcome with embarrassment by his desires for this doll.
Marion lay there stunned, feeling his weight against her, his arms pulling her tight against him as he sobbed into her hair. She listened as his breathing calmed and deepened. After a time, Gregorio had rolled away from her and fallen asleep.
She discovered to her delight that she was able to move her arms. She lowered the hand furthest from him down against her breast. The nipple was still sensitive and felt as if it burned as she pressed her fingers against it. She rubbed and teased and felt the porcelain go from cold to hot, returning to human flesh as she teased herself. She moved her hands down to the damp hole between her legs that he had created and explored delicately with her fingertips.
Marion stroked at the bottom of the folds and found an opening; it was quite pleasurable to insert her fingers inside. She pressed them in deeply and felt the fabric squeeze in against her fingers when she pressed her hips up. At the top of her moist folds she found an area that made her shiver and moan in delight as she massaged it. The sensation of her fingers against that spot was intensely pleasurable, an amazing mixture of pain, pleasure and surprise. She wiggled her hips softly and arched her back as she sighed deeply at this new flood of feeling.
The fabric and ceramic had become flesh, transforming her from doll to woman.
“Gregorio” she moaned as she played with the wetness between her legs. “Greeegooorrrioooooooooo,” she purred, managing to complete the orgasm that he had started earlier with the sound of his name on her lips.
“I must be dreaming,” he said, having been awakened from his slumber by her masturbation. He had rolled over to watch her, admiring her beautiful body.
“I am no dream.” Marion replied, moving her hand to stroke his face softly. “Your want and desires have made me real, broken a curse I’ve been under for half a century. You’ve given me pleasures I’ve never known.” She kissed his lips hungrily. “Now use me, put me into the positions you enjoy and let me be your toy. I have had enough of little girl’s tea parties and playing princess – make me your slut, Gregorio, for I am yours.”
They embraced and kissed passionately, his fingers discovering her skin was now warm and soft. He fondled her breasts gently and then kissed his way down her neck to her nipples, pulling against them hard with his teeth. Continuing to suckle and nibble her breasts softly, Gregorio moved his fingers down her belly and explored the wet warmth between her legs.
“Roll over and get on your hands and knees.” He demanded, standing at the side of the bed with one hand idly stroking his cock. He watched as Marion complied and then pressed his throbbing against her mouth.
She furrowed her brow and looked up at him with concern. “I don’t know what to do with a man. You’ll have to show me.”
“I plan to.” Gregorio replied with a sadistic smirk, pressing his fingers against her chin to open her mouth and placing his erection inside. “Good girl, now massage me with your tongue and suck. Gently!” He admonished her as she inhaled sharply against him. “Gently…good.” He moaned and moved his fingers into her hair. As he began to move her head up and down his shaft, Gregorio moved his hips in matching rhythm as Marion moaned around his girth.
Feeling his cock inside her mouth was amazing. She could feel him throbbing against her tongue, her mouth watering for more and more of him inside her.
Marion’s eyes shot wide as he plunged himself deep into her mouth, as if reading her thoughts. She struggled against gagging and choking, feeling her spit sloppily drip down her chin as she took him into her mouth fully. It was a feeling of total helplessness; she was consumed by him, controlled by him. His cock filled her mouth as he roughly fucked her lips, tongue and throat. She felt his strength forcing her to take his cock, and knew his desire.
As He withdrew she coughed and gasped for air, a long trail of her spittle trailing on his dick and dripping off to fall against her neck and breasts. It was a humiliating feeling to be used that way and she loved it. She wrapped her hand around his cock and moved her mouth for more, but he pulled away from her slightly. “I want more!” She purred, pouting.
“Good girl.” He said stroking himself and removing her hand from his shaft. “Don’t move” Gregorio circled to the other side of the bed and admired his handiwork. Marion’s crotch had been an androgynous flat surface of seams and ceramic before, now her pussy glistened in a glorious celebration of her womanhood. He teased her wetness gently with his cock, rubbing her from behind so that the tip pressed across her clit.
Marion arched her back and moaned. Gregorio’s touch against her was many times more pleasurable than her own. He reached up and wrapped his thick fingers against her hips before pressing himself slowly and deeply inside her wet, tight little pussy. She found he was considerably larger than her own fingers had been, and she could feel his bulging veins and his swollen cock head hot inside her, filling her up. Marion’s pussy contracted and clamped around him as she screamed in pleasure.
He took her slow and steady at first, letting her feel his shaft slide fully in and out of her. Then he slapped her ass and pressed in harder and faster, feeling himself swelling up inside her. She thrashed into him, moving her hips to match his seemingly angry motions. He stabbed his cock into her savagely, watching as she struggled against him. She fell face down into the bed and moved her arms back to try to push his body away slightly. “Be a good little doll and take it,” he growled. She accepted her fate and spread her pussy open for him with her hands as he fucked her.
Gregario didn’t remember his wife being this tight, nor wet. Marion’s pussy also felt hot like he’d never known in a woman. He reached down to pull her hair hard as he struggled to concentrate; the feeling of being inside her was intense, magical.
She felt his orgasm inside her, his hot juices blowing against her walls. Gregorio collapsed against her back and kissed her neck before sliding his dick out from in between her legs and rolling off her. Marion could feel his cum dripping out of her as she lay down satisfied, astonished, and happy.
It wasn’t long before she was again listening to Gregorio sleep next to her. Soon she felt her own eyes getting heavy and going glassy.
Marion began to feel her skin turn cold and firm, it was drying up and changing back into stiff, fragile porcelain. She stood cautiously as her body was transforming and redressed herself, stepping back into the bustle of her dress and fastening herself into the comfort of modesty.
She did not want Gregorio to wake and see her cold, stark white porcelain skin. She wanted him only to remember her warm, pink flesh.
Making her way clumsily back to the chair across the room, Marion looked back and tried unsuccessfully to crack a porcelain smile at her master. Her face and body had almost entirely returned to solid form as she settled into the chair.
Marion rested her head back and shut her eyes as she drifted into a dream state. She dreamed of running freely through a field of flowers, the grass tickling at her ankles. She would giggle and laugh at the butterflies, chasing them. She heard music in the distance, and could smell the smoke of a nearby chimney.
These dreams were partly fantasy and partly a memory of Marion’s youth. They were remembrances of the time before her parents had sold her into slavery and before the doll maker had cast his spells upon her.
Gregorio dreamed of his family, of his wife’s kisses, his daughter’s laughter. He dreamed of sharing a meal all together, sitting at the table. He could taste the food in his mouth, and could feel the warmth of his wife’s hand in his. Her eyes were brown and full of life. Her generous smile warmed him. Marion was there too, laughing with them, enjoying her dinner. He watched as Marion poured his wife a glass of wine, the twins kissing each other hungrily, their fingers pressed against each other’s faces.
Slowly waking, Gregorio rolled over and reached for the woman who had been in his bed last night. No one was there.
Had he been dreaming?
Fumes of the extinguished fire lingers filling the room with scents of wax and burnt wick.
The smoke, though invisible to me in the dark, reminds me of your thin figure, your fire.
Your sweet aroma of earth and leaf, tobacco leaves damp and smoldering, beckons me
and recalls your soothing sedimented richness through my blood, surging in my veins.
I had my first taste on the elementary school playground seduced by smoldering cool
you were when introduced to me by a school mate, someone you just met days before.
She wanted me to know you better, so we met by chance secreted on the very edges
near the woods and the hill, closest to the shady space of the field for the most privacy.
Since then, we have been friends, sometimes lovers, often thought bedfellows for life.
There were times when I had to let you go poison and pleasure someone else’s bed.
Many years went by when I merely longed for you, craved your touch, your taste…smell.
When I had my kids I didn’t want you around, denied that I ever knew you, needed you.
But my desire for you never left completely, and when I would see you around, I knew.
I would always love you, always wish you were back in my life, so comforting and calm.
Though, you come and go, drifting into my days after I have begged you to come back
then begged you to leave, give me my healthy peace, my independence, oh my mistress.
I cannot be who I yearn to be, full breath me, flexing into the wind and the drawing in air
not with you in my mind, my heart, my veins, my throat, my mouth, your scent reeking,
making my clothes, my fingers and my breath smell like you always wafting in before me.
You’re no good for me and I will never be free of longing for you, controlling you always.
Mistress C, I cannot commit to you, even with what you supply, stress release and repose,
and commit to the other side of me too, the one united with the rest of the respiring world.
For you are no good, kill me with your alluring touch of my fingers, mouth, face, and hair,
my mistress addiction who constricts me like a boa, my lungs, blood flow running freely.
Disease me not, be gone and beguile some other unsuspecting foolish follower of the flame!
Slow sipping coffee on a pre-work, getting-ready-for-it morning break, she looks out the window onto the busy street. The soft drizzle powders passersby with a glint but there is no sun to reflect the shine and create jewels of these busy movers, so they merely look dusty wet.
“I work at a mindless dead end job,” she thinks as she sits and stares out the window, the people now in bas-relief, mere objects of her unfocused gaze.
“The repetition of breaking down and building up the frozen yogurt machine, it’s the same mechanics every day of draining the yogurt, both bins of the machine, in plastic four-gallon buckets, lugging them full and heavy to the refrigerator, running water through to flush the yogurt from the moving parts inside, wiping down the yogurt bins with sanitizer, unscrewing the faceplate of the machine, pulling it out along with the mixing blades and the crank shaft, and then stripping each of those down to their basic components, washing them all methodically, drying them just as methodically, greasing them back up, putting all the pieces to the basics on again, re-assembling them into the machine and finally pouring in the yogurt and turning the machine back on. It’s mind-numbing.”
Two young girls, perhaps late teens, walk by animatedly close to the window, their pink, teased out hair bobbing before her at eye level as she sits high on a pine stool tucked in close to its matching table. She is momentarily re-focused on the street activity, removed from her reverie.
She senses she has five more minutes before she needs to hit the road and off to work, giving her enough time for prepping and opening up the shop for the day’s business. She looks at the tree trunk of a clock seemingly growing above the serving counter on the other side of the cafe to confirm her suspicion.
The decor is eco-earthen hippy with its unvarnished pine tables and chairs and natural, charcoal wood-beamed ceiling, autumn colored table cloths of deep rich dark chocolates, rusts and oranges, and leafy printed matching napkins. The coffee is organic and the pastries vegan. Los Angeles.
“But there must be a reason for me to continue working there. I could quit any time. I should quit,” she continues. “I have a Masters degree in Political Science. It’s humiliating. I could wait tables and make more.”
Approaching her table now is the smiling young waiter with the heartbreak haircut, romance and freedom spelled in its asymmetry, long locks below the left ear sweeping from short shaved up right side of his head. His eyes are rich deep espresso gleam, his smile a thin lemon peel twist.
Holding a mini coffee pot, he asks, “Do you need a re-heat?” as he smiles that twist to the corners, exposing pleasantly symmetrical square white teeth. His entire face smiles.
She cannot help but smile in rejoinder–slightly, the corners of her mouth marginally upturned while the rest of her lips remain in repose. “No thank you.”
He moves on past her after nodding faintly in her direction, the smile still installed in his face fitted out for it.
“I’m sure his job is mindless too. He seems intelligent, something in his face and eyes, his hipster clothes. I wonder if he is staying in it for money or because the schedule fits in with his school schedule, or a second job, or perhaps he’s in between careers, has criminal charges pending or is helping out a family member,” she muses. “No, those would all be me.”
Swiveling her head slowly toward the window again, her chin re-installed onto her folded up fist like a podium, she watches the people-wave rushing by. So many colors, shapes and pace of the life-passing-by street, a whir of stewed up cells, ions, protons, all the biospheric material.
“I think I have to learn something there, something about patience and process,” she ponders, immediately looking down on the three healing cuts, one deep and aggravated on her thumb and the other two older and more superficial on her index fingers.
“When I drift, let my mind wander from the immediate task, the immediate step in the process, steps as unforgiving as instructions to fixing a computer software problem, unmerciful in its unwavering necessity for methodological exactitude, I get hurt.”
A skateboarder threads the lull in the ever-marching morning mania, only two groups of three people each to skirt around.
“I have to be present and faithful to each movement in this mindless operation. Otherwise, I miss something or do it inexactly, which causes something else down the line to malfunction. Or I try to rush bending the plastic blade coverings over the metal blades, so that when my fingers force them into the tuck of the fastener, I brush the top of my thumb over the blades and catch the sharp edges for a painful skin divot.”
The smiler returns and deliberately places the bill down beside her elbow planted atop the wood and ingratiatingly near-whispers, “When you’re ready,” and he’s off, leaving the suck of air that follows him from the heated room’s palpable atmosphere of coffee particles and central heat from shared street-lined shops dust.
She opens her purse and reaches in a pocket without looking, pulling out a few singles and a five in a grab fist of money. She looks at the singles, realizes it isn’t enough and lays the five down on the check, looking for brown eyes to meet hers in the unspoken code of near departure.
She lifts her thrift-store faux leopard skin lined trench coat as it drapes across the stool on the opposite side of the table, and fits her shoulders inside the arm holes, wearing it as a cape. She swings her purse strap over her left coat-covered shoulder as she walks to the door and opens it, looks out onto the busy street, first glancing left then right, as if she were expecting to cross traffic safely. Stepping out the door onto the sidewalk, she turns right, quickening her pace to meet that of the masses, even though no one is immediately nearby to keep pace with her.
“Back to the rock pile. There’s froyo to be served to sweet craving, self-deluded folks,” she sighs as she heads briskly down the now wetter sidewalk.
“What did you say? You whispered,” she says softly raspy-tinged returning from a lull in vocalization. They are relaxing now in exhaustion-peace, under the blankets, warm, woolen and wet with sweat, cum, grape seed oil and Pink lubricant. They have been lying together like this for a long while now stilly on the edge of slumber.
Her face is half under the blanket nose to chin, while her eyes rest slits to the air, mouth twisted into her lover’s shoulder molded to the contours of shoulder and nape of neck.
“Oh, I love you too, baby.” She tucks her head further under the blanket so that her eyes are now covered and closed.
“I think I have always loved you.” She says it out loud and the muffled words resonate in the stifled air as she thinks about how that’s true and not true. She is sure there was a time when she didn’t love her, didn’t even know her. But she experiences her like a roundness that encircles her whole being from before time til after its cessation. She can’t put the feeling to words, articulate the depth or expansiveness of such a knowing. But she continues to search for words, foggily, as she lies there inside the growing humidity of breath, body heat and dissipating oxygen supply.
She thinks, “It’s like a light…. Hey, a light! I can see a light, yes. Wait…” She is stunned. Her breath pauses stuck on the inhale for a long 5 or 6 seconds. Her eyes widened in astonishment, her mouth an anguished “O” of recognition, she tears away the blanket in a swift swoosh, cutting the warmth of the now suffocating air and razoring it with a cool streak of newly realized air, fresh from the surface where her love lies now awakened by the sudden explosion of motion….
“Are you checking your cell phone?!!”
I want to write about you, tell them how good you are
Seated on the stool beside me in this old seedy bar
Where I feel like I’m the only one here on Main Street
As you dip me in dance-sway, swinging low on my feet.
And your wife is home waiting not knowing I even exist.
You tell her you’re working late-early to cover our tryst.
Even to my husband’s mind I work long for me and him
So he thinks nothing of my telling him, “I’ll be at the gym.”
The kids know no better since they have their own lives.
With need for money, your car and someone who drives,
Kids take your cash and don’t care much for your advice.
They say you don’t know their friends or music or minds.
Now you and me we have something surpassing it all.
We have heat and steam and fire inside the hotel walls.
You toss me and I stay flung while you flatten me in bed
And not a thought of her and him or the kids in my head.
There’s my coat, my hat and my shoes for running home.
Here’s my panties, my shirt in the dark room on my own.
I have nowhere to go, no one to confess my lover’s skill.
I walk home alone, buy me a beer for something to swill.
Life as a cheater, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a drunk
Hiding secrets and letters and love inside a rusty trunk.
Lonely as queer loving hags like me with no way home,
We tramp from room to room taking any a tossed bone.
Out of lies and tired of deluding yourself with lusty love,
You leave me, pretend your shiny life is high and above.
But you and I both know that underneath your floor is rot
And grown in the cracks of your loined heart a mossy sot.
So give me your number and tell me your name, my dove.
Show me your smile and your ass; I’ll take out my glove
And wind up my arm to let fly the anger-ful powerful sting
For love is a splendorous obsequious onerous ugly thing.