Yo’ Mama

Daddy makes you dance still though brittle bones merely shake not shimmy.

When you were full bloom and wider than the sprig crouch you are now,

you could swivel your hips light on your feet and in sync with the song.

I didn’t inherit your body’s rhythm but I followed the beat of your words,

those words, shiny and adored, I could tell from the way you caressed them

pouring sweet-tongued in pristine ears framing fresh faces of your charges.

And while sparks sizzle out in your eyes cycling the dead grey matter zones

the heat of your humor and the glee of ironic days are frozen inside your skin,

a dead pan face with little recognition and remembrance of those words sharp,

flying shot gun but pinpoint targeted to prick, tickle and touch those of the world,

not the one you inhabit now, some filmy inchoate plane from once you lifted us,

your children whose words now breathe yours in silent days of stiff witness past.

A silent language heard timelessly is a nurturer’s toil and care, archetypal love

coating countless centuries streaming through bodies perpetuating in birth.

Ripped and rattled, torn and repaired, spited and sorrowed, she reawakens

each day renewed from sleep of the dead spirited with ancestral compulsion

and primal tenderness of urgency, survival, the burden of her species’ thruway.

And when she has been sucked dry of her duty, she sinks in immortal cliché.

Killer Thoughts

It’s been around for a while, but I just saw this delightful Ryan Woodward animation “The Thought of You,” which has made its rounds on Facebook, Vimeo and Youtube ad nauseum. And my fresh look adds yet another interpretation among the hundreds of others mostly fawning observations and applauding. The difference in interpretive tone–positive or negative–is probably affected by the accompanying song. In one version, Nick Lovell’s “Cradle in my Arms” is the backdrop, which is slow, severe and mournful, whereas the other version is accompanied by the Weepies’ “The World Spins Madly On,” a much more upbeat though just as disillusioned song.
 
In the short animation, I see thought, airy nothing, on display. I see the “lost in the world” lyric, with two ideas dancing around each other, illusive in the acting out: he grabs her but she evades him, slips from him but then there she is again, and they dance and she caresses him but he ducks away, also slippery.  
 
And the lyric, “woke up wishing I was dead…the night is here the day is gone,” floats into my consciousness as the scene changes to dream sequence, a longing, where she is an angel, the feathers falling as she flies from him. Is he about to kill her off? When they finally spin together as they and “the world spins madly on,” she suddenly becomes real to him, her clear yearning to touch him, there standing in all of her need–real–and he lets her go.  She is real, depicted with shading and fullness, depth, and he is still an idea. He lets the real go. Dreams and fantasies are far more interesting, full of potential.
 

Nick Lovell’s “Cradle in my Arms”

I don’t mind
Where I wake this morning
I will only be misjudged

 

You are here
But your mind is elsewhere
You have battled for so long

 

Just call me when you feel like coming home
Call me when you feel like coming home

 

Have I changed?
Or do my eyes just see things
So much differently now?

 

Lay the blame
Only if you have to
But it’s you who brought you here

 

The animation suggests thought as the figures are mere sketches until the woman acquires shading, a touch of reality, when she is more concretely identifiable as herself and not the projections of the male configuration’s imagination: as angel as the feathers that fall suggest or even a dancer. When she stands there just herself in want of him, not playing chase, at the end, he leaves her. He loses interest or runs in fear or both.

 

I want to peel off my skin and roll myself in salt when I see this where others–Youtube and Vimeo commenters–look to the beauty of the dance and feel warmth and loveliness. The projection of my own thoughts on someone else, making that person an extension of my own desire and will is a life-long habit and a doom to so many relationships.Too often have I wished another to fill the expectations of my imagination, which is powerfully creative and unrealistic as if totally unleashed from senses.

 

The result: not actually seeing or finding the person standing before me because I have never been there–present–in the first place to notice. Wrapped up in my mind’s eye, not my physical eye that sees not envisions, causes blindness–and eventual loss.
 
When she is an idea–a thought–it is easier to hurt her. Experiencing another as flesh and blood makes it more difficult to hurt that human being, compassionately and empathically sensed as one senses him or her own self. 
 
That is how genocides or near genocides have been possible in the past–making whole populations an idea, a problem needing a solution, the Jews of pre-War World II Germany as only one example. No human being but the most unfeeling, the sociopathic, could be convinced that the economic solution for a failed economy and the woes attending such is to kill another singular, seething human fleshly being standing right before one’s eyes. No, that person would have to become an idea–the economic drain, the problem, caused by immigration, greed, religious destiny, or some other idea.

 

For me, fantasy has always been greater than reality and my heart is a painter. Those who show up to be my canvas often cry out, insist on themselves as I sketch and color them brighter, fuller bloom. 
 
The Weepies’ “World Spins Madly On”
 
Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
I thought of you and where you’d gone
and let the world spin madly on

Everything that I said I’d do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on

I let the day go by
I always say goodbye
I watch the stars from my window sill
The whole world is moving and I’m standing still

Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
The night is here and the day is gone
And the world spins madly on

I thought of you and where you’d gone
And the world spins madly on.

 
“And the world spins madly on…” The world of the imagination is a mad spin, crazy making in its delusional world making.

 

How many of us do this–imagine what we want rather than experience what we have?

Ring of Fire

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credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/

Now that the pressure’s gone, I wake up,
reach for my phone and push pause
before my eyes open.
Can’t be sure what time or day it is.
I’m in between worlds.
Vaguely, there is a sense of somewhere to go
but not urgently.
I fall back in the wispy strands of the dream:
You and Carmen and Rick stood in a circle
at the end of the street
breathing in the thick of the night.
The air around you was smoke
dotted with tiny red flares,
a mixture of fog and tobacco fumes.
I thought you quit years ago.
You did.
I remember the sound of the scraped butt
smashed to the ground
under your cowboy booted heels,
sizzle to a stop.
“I’m finished,” you said.
And then it was as if you had never smoked
those last fifteen years.
I never could keep a forever mind like that.
Everything is conditional and environmental
like a chameleon, something I called you.
But when Carmen, who smoked a pack a day then,
stole your glances and eventually your heart,
you never resumed the habit.
And there you were standing with them
at the corner of my block.
Maybe you weren’t smoking.
It was hard to tell in the nighttime mist.
I wanted to say something to you,
Something about how it has been
since you left,
not a complaint,
just to make you understand something,
a notion about passing time
and diminished threats.
But the block was too long
and it kept getting longer
each step bringing me farther from the circle,
closed circle you made in a ring of fire.

Breathing Lost

credit: http://www.foundmyself.com

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Silhouette drifters deliver songs to the ears of my playlist memory
some hissing in vain anger, some lilting in lusty loss, some on mute.
One such sketch of a man filtered trinklets of tuneful gemlike stars
to my eyes in naiveté, my world that had forgotten to look up in awe
at celestial showtime light o ramas for centurious eyes innumerable
and me, I owe him vision and wonder and the tickle of the unknown.

And I thought he was for me and he was mine to be so sky forever.
He lived in my skin and I breathed him spiringly in pores and lungs.
I think that is what I was looking for–someone to inhale all that I am
each morning and exhale all that I ever was at night–an airiate man.
But air was not enough and we didn’t find the child of singing songs
only the age old stories of mistrust and lies and justifications long.

And we found that out, what we wanted, what we didn’t get, what
we missed out on, only too late. Yet, we still have the time we had.
As stolen time from the unknown and unsuspecting keepers of it.
We secrete desire now, let it expire in one swift and dark, salacious
moment of ecstatic loss and losing in that space of let me out and
come with me and be mine and I will ever ache in my heart for you.

Mistress Memory: the Mother Mime

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An undeniably aching yet slumbering craving, she must fall back endlessly, eyelid-enwrapped orbs unable to keep her consciousness, which slips down into the darkness with claws still clutching and inscribing their twitching seismographic indentations in the eyeballs as the arms of it, consciousness, stretches wincingly, impossibly lengthened for the body to lie in the depth of darkness. She goes deep.

I speculate that she is not falling, implying a misstep, away from her conscious self but has turned and run. Who wouldn’t? Her life has been hard. She was neglected by an unloving mother, one who was abused herself by cruel parents. Her father was a specter who haunted the apartment, manifesting a physical man on payday. Her mother rarely cooked for her or comforted her or advised her of the dangers of the world. No, she was left on city corners at 4 years to find her own food, hoping that the mothers and men entering the five and dime would offer her something without her having to ask. And they would ask her with irritable concern, “Where is your mother?!” and feeling ashamed, she would make up a story that her mother was sick.

But no documented illness kept that mother from cleaning and feeding her baby. Embarrassed and unkempt that child was with untamable kinky hair that refused a brush even if one were offered it, and a sizable gap in her two front teeth. She was scrawny and sallow, though with sharp, slit-eyed hazel-glistening maturity and wit. She was a meerkat.

Eventually poking her head above the layer of grimy gutter life, she cleaned herself up and then mistook love for sex. Knocked up and married at 16, she merely survived a childhood of neglect to enter into an adulthood of abusive banality and benign ignorance. She married, like her mother before her, a ghost of an unfinished man, a workaholic incapable of appreciating the finer things in life–books, art, mystery, passion, and romance, namely: her.

But he gave her a family. Children salved the sore of scooping up in arms love she missed out on. Only, to overcompensate for her own shadow life, she spent every moment caring for, thinking about, worrying about and attending to her inevitably affected children of greed, helplessness and jealousy. She fed them too much, cleaned them overly, loved them enough but not enough for the canyon of need she created in them to be the sole capturing eye of the gaze of her great giving.

She raised them. They came to visit on weekends with their growing families when they themselves grew up and away, but she, heliotropic, contorted her body reaching for the circling sun of her prodigals who, in turn, rounded back to her, their heat center for hot food, unconditional love and sound advice. Warmed and wiser, they left her withered in the waiting for their eventual return. Until they didn’t.

So long as she could give, they came. When she could no longer give–her core cold like the moon’s with her shine a borrowed reflection–they stared and stammered and shivered in unimaginable loss and fear.

She forgot how to make the dishes everyone loved from the recipes passed down from her grandmother, the only woman who cared for her but left her only too soon, days before her fourth birthday. Dishes that made home–their home–like blintzes and pirogies and beef stew, were irretrievably lost because her children forgot to ask her how to make them. She couldn’t remember how any of them started, though she made them hundreds of times over her 75 years.

Nail biting in isolating anguish, her children suffered alone, for she did not understand what everyone noticed. Her husband alternately shrugged and shook fists at the sky. No one knew what to do with her. When she could no longer speak, they stopped coming. But she could see; she could hear. And for many years she still could.

Trapped in her muddled thoughts so long, wasting away, her body dis-remembering how to process food into fat or even how to chew and swallow, she closes her eyes now like no one has ever closed a pair of eyes before–her face drawn in by the corners of its angles of cheek bone to chin, skin sucked tightly to skull–and exhales.

No, she is not expired. She is pure unconscious desire now, streamlined to her essence and sinking into the only place she was ever going to anyhow. She succumbs to the lure of the lover and beloved, and it is a release like no other in her candlelit dusty life.

She opens her eyes again, and the illusion is gone. I can no longer see the purpose and direction, imagine the lilting lie of the siren’s song, “Come to me, my mistress and be my Penelope awaiting her king’s return. Rest in my bosom, my touch, my caress.”

This is how I cope these days with the agony of her slow decade-long disappearance.  I imagine she is on a mythic sea voyage, sailing the still waters of slow afternoon noddings, drifting down into the arms of her self-embrace and so engulfed in the arms of the loving mother that she was born to be and always will be.

I stare into the searchingly bewildered eyes mirroring a woman focusing her lenses, and see me. There it is! The three second connect, her recognition marked by the eye twinkle and quick spasm flash of an upturned corner of her mouth, the missile memory launched in my direction absorbed by the heat of my desire. “Hi Mom.”

The sound distracts her. Her eyes move off mine in the direction of where she thinks the sound came from, the cataract gaze returned. I look away. I pick up my keys and move to the door, glancing back briefly before touching the handle. Her eyes cannot follow me at this distance. I walk out the door. It’s time to pick up my daughter from school.

Vanished Heather

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Held in breath there is yet the wind about her.
She stands with a sway and walks with stillness.
I want to change her shadow in two steps two.
But her gait is slippery in her foggy wilderness.

She waits her turn to pass me without a glance.
Her sleek is smoke and stale beer and wine.
Some reproach her the time of day she sleeps.
But I wake to find her near me disinclined.

Not a chance I have to make her see my eyes.
She travels past herself while others wait to see.
Will she pick up and leave the road she’s on?
No way to swim the future disappearing sea.

She left me there on Venice Beach note-less.
Friends we shared asked about her last steps.
I had no answers to give but to shrug and blush.
Her story mystery lives where she’s air’s caress.