The music never stops outside and inside my head. Sometimes the melody pounds in time with a pumping, thumping drum beat of a heart. Sometimes the violins screech and thrust me deep in a Psycho movie scene, stabbed over and over again with high pitched wails and screams, decibels higher than eardrum capacity.
But it’s just the neighbor toddlers yowling and the dog yapping. And that spinal column creep of approaching slippered steps of an interruption about to happen. My neck tenses awaiting the final knuckle knock knock, a rapid five or six in a row.
And all the while, the pings and bings of phones, IPads and computers tick away at flesh, flying skin chips scattered everywhere. My attention shattered in shard millenia. That’s what it’s like to write at home. Life music blasting me and my mind all day.
But my mind has steeled itself impenetrable against so much more than noise before this. My constitution has weathered barn storms and hurricanes far greater, like three, grueling, sleepless days of exams preceded by years and years of mind-numbing tedious study. And then untold hours, thousands upon thousands, invested in a slow-bleeding, fast burning career life-suckingly anchored, financially and personally, that eventually landed me inside the court house walls.
Dismantling a person brick by brick, thorn by thorn, thought by thought, nerve by nerve, takes a long time. I got away with a quick turn, only 56 years building and breaking. Some take a life time. And it’s not over for me—or anyone. We turn like the worms we are.
No lives matter, not in the sense that we think they do. They merely breathe and do and be—just like everything else. The rock and me, we stream steady, hold our ground and pass unnoticed by most. Human fate, being just another assembly of matter and particles. I don’t understand why it feels so different to be human than to be a rock.
Observing the world through the wrong end of the telescope
again jitters me anxious.
Everything appears near and far
all at once, and yet,
the horror bursts under my skin–like inverted leeches
and the loud clown faces stretched wide
like reflections in a round, polished door knob,
gold, red, bleeding before my mind.
Their insane grins rattle the dendrite bones .
The shouting matches pervasive from Twitter to the barroom
to the soccer field to my inner universe, debating
whether to sit or lie, kick or run, vote or march, rail or listen…
all at the same mad, ear-splitting volume, nerve-splintering.
And yet, the glass distorts the all of everything–
the faces, voices, coughing, snarling and sweat–
keeps them remote though their breath cooks my calm,
no matter whether in ear shot or scope range,
targeting me and mine.
I witness the movie screen from miles away,
despite the price of dislocation—death,
a deadness like numb itchiness in sleeping limbs.
It’s no good at all is all I’m trying to say.
Nothing good can come from so far away, distance
that does not create peace,
does not create…
Distance invited, procured and deliberate,
not fortresses defended.
Like any other morning, I wake up to muffled door rattles or slams,
And the crystal plea of a squeezed bladder–release, sweet release.
The blinds drawn and the clock radio dead for a few years now, I reach
For my phone to check the time: the usual 6:38 a.m. flashes retinally.
Taking inventory, I listen for a high schooler soon to fly out the door,
Perhaps her older sister stirring in poor sleep or kicking the disruptive
Cat out the door to purr in someone else’s ears, perturbations unleashed
For those battling anxiety and depression: IBS, TBI, PMS and US politics.
Challenging gravity’s rest, I aright myself and further assess the day’s
Bone placement as they all align, sink and press in allotted pegs, dips
And slots, and all measure properly without incident or undue notice.
My body has not joined in some stealth overnight rebellion for unpaid
Dues or sins of my youth just yet, and I take my first steps into morning.
Upright, leaning into space opening up to the bathroom door a mere six
Steps from my launch, I begin to feel it: the heaviness, not in step or
Weight, but an anchor-dragging shadow that resists verticality from
Scalp to balls of the feet, slowing the advancing doorway to a shuffle.
I know I’m already late, but the excursion’s effort, to pee and back,
Begs my re-bedding just for a hair’s breadth of a moment, I bargain.
Soon, the phone or entry door will vibrate with his questioning call or
Needy knuckles, reminding me that it’s time for his intravenous push
And his diabetes blood check and his arm wrap for his shower and his
Pill box re-filling as it is Monday: the array of multi-colored, go-gemlets
Shaped like candy paper dots or pez ovals popped out of a clown mouth.
The anchor widens and grows tentacles, linking chain to arms and chest,
Pulling down shoulders and the corners of eyes and lips no breath can re-
Vive, no gratitude check can lighten and release like an emptied bladder.
I glance out the now-opened blinds at the orange clusters in threes and
Fours, heavy with juice, hanging impossibly high at the thinnest branches
At the top, mightily fighting, irresistibly drawn downward while floating
The resistance between soaring, maintaining and falling: mass, space and
Time–all illusion, as is this overwhelming dread and angst that will dry,
Crumble and dust, blown into an afternoon breeze that kicks up after June
Grey dewy mornings drip, clear and stiffen to bolster tender leaves against
The love, need, hate, and anger over their circling heads tethered to a sun,
The same star that guides ships, unanchored, daylight drifting or swiftly
coursing waters tumultuous and calm to destinations charted yet unknown.
Another rudder-less morning steering me blindly, I have survived the first
Passage and make my way to the door, enjoying the last five, quiet seconds
Before the physical proof meets the prescient mood, while nothing is wrong.
“I was going to make you a cake, but I had no eggs,” she cried and then crumpled to the floor. No consoling her. She was crushed, fragile as the empty space where the egg carton used to be–a shadow of a former delicate, susceptible embryo container.
She too had been plucked from her mother’s warmth too soon, arresting her world in a devil’s playground of tears and fearful misfortunes always on the verge, always.
“It’s okay, really okay. It was their time to fly. You couldn’t have known. It’s not your fault. I love cake, but I love you more. Come up and sit beside me this time, just now.”
She wiped her nose in the plaid flannel folds of her elbow and rose. It was over.
Marked by forever embrace
arms to mind
nose to heart,
I will never recover
a touching scent like you;
no other lover
rapes pelvic thoughts
musks up a spell
pushes my deep
and levels a deadly wrench kiss
to pulpy plum;
in your leave
I hollow gourds of song
await the pine needle drop
and hum Jesus and rum.
No more apologies:
Not enough, not long, hard, gentle or
joined in heart when I hold you,
I hear your silent reproaches.
A lip corner flick.
No sorries in my storage.
un-sick over baggage.
Time I give is all the buzz
I have, all my life,
before run before hide
and composed thus
I always was.
the sigh of it all,
with your, his, her, their
expiry utter other grunts, twists, glances or
dances belly deep,
and all I beg is a bite of sleep.
My gutters sag under the weight
of leaves and leavings and arrivals,
the spinning door rotates you for you
and him for her for him for them,
and back again,
a reversion ahead of me, the fool
to believe in words
deployed poison control tools–
bright, early, sunny-gregarious
gets the worm–
the norm of help-me-happy right
keeping the dark ones light.
And the farewell letter went something like this:
I started the day with an affirmation, a term resoundingly kitsch in an age of everything packaged for the spiritualist or recovering something or other in all of us. I could call it an intention, a wish or a note to self to suit my more cynical needs. I will not call it a resolution. First, it is too early for resolutions, the new year still a couple of weeks away, and second, I am not waiting two weeks to act. I have already decided in whole or in part this goal in action.
Soon I will disappear. My aim for today and tomorrow until fully accomplished, is to become invisible. The process started a couple of years ago when I toppled from the pinnacle of respectability only to land flat on my ass on the untouchables’ cement floor of society’s seething underclass. Thereafter, they started slowly, one by one by two and more, to forget me, the people who wanted to be near me before the fall, those self-proclaimed humanists. Turns out selective humanists crave less unsavory humans.
It only took a bit of ignoring and then some looking away for me to begin to disappear. From there, my reflex to shun the shunners lightened my shades of skin, hair, bone and eyes even more. But then the nose grind to recovery, the working endless hours with my head bent over my body, over my computer, over myself, kept me from seeing the rest of them, the strangers and people never met in person nor online, the unfriending and closing up shop, prevented me from knowing anyone existed but my inner circle.
And finally, to date, my love affair with those discreet few who have refused my refusal, love me despite the growing imperfections wrinkling with age–like me–and worn for use and abuse, as well as my continued affair with the word, a lifetime infatuation, the one true love that has never waned, never left and never judged, has nearly obliterated my presence among the living. Seclusion, surrendered suction into the recesses of imagination and thought, a comfortable den, affirms by the ease with which I slip ever more into that n’other world that I will one day be invisible. And I am glad. So I affirm to continue as I am, ever strengthening inside my own germinating vine climbing the walled off society I peer at occasionally from over the ledge.
Hard to get up sometimes, pick myself up from a fall
when every day’s battle is a sword fight with gravity.
“Don’t ever trip,” she told me, “because you’re done.”
That unicycle riding the edge of a fence, well, it’s hard.
Teetering masquerade as shakey equilibrium traces lies.
And circles make hopeful promises but terrible homes.
One word awry, one awful image, and all turns lopsided,
my brains screaming out my ears while my gut collapses,
and I simply can not recover steps, a broken frail rhythm.
“Who are you to punch me in the waking dreams I made
to stay the course, mime the normal, and be-fool myself?”
What a mindless, insensitive sot to remind me who I am!
You just bombarded my world, shattered my sheltered piece,
unexpectedly patronizing the safe haven of an employing
menial job away from my usual world of impotent pledges,
places that belonged to another life, another me, and you say,
“Hey, I remember you. I saw you there…from the court”
Memorizing the cold inside smile like a lightbulb flash, burnt in air,
scalding the fingernail of an infant size will to forgive.
Just pop me back there why don’t you? I’m long sprung now–
for over a year and minding my business, picking up the pieces,
and here you go dragging my ass backwards, sliding me down
there in the dankness and graveyard dreams, the hole of holes.
I could hear my heartbeat in my eyes but somewhere receding
like a mote under the metal mattress of my will to forgive.
I know you were reprieve, a nice girl, honestly asking, earnest,
wanting to be what I was, aspiring while I was spiraling down,
you upward with your youth, all possibility ahead, to recover,
re-coup, pop yourself up from a crack-split of a morning that
caused you to fall, while I was on the downslide, much older
career-weary and worry of the world, on my way out of it.
Crushing reason pounded my back and sides of a silhouette stare
piercing the baton flesh of your powerful thump on my will to forgive.
But I too have regained my step some and gathered my thin-self.
Only you jarred me out of pretending nothing is or ever was wrong
and “I will forge ahead,” make it like it never happened, reinvent
myself, my life, and call it a new beginning replete with hope.
To the place where I first met you and left you in half smiles
on the sooty bench of ash, our smoldering embers of I will forgive.
Until you walked into my store, my place of candy cave-shelter
to kick me in the flashback and remind me that I am still in it.