white. stone. portrait.

I drew in the corner of the stone tile; hunched for days, obsessed with my impermanent task. Crayons scattered across the floor, vanishing beneath the bed.  It took me three weeks to coat every tile on my side of the room, but the footfalls from our parties wore a streak through my masterpiece, even as I knelt.

She had arrived like a cold wind in a firestorm. Comforting us even as she scattered the flames of our little drama, deeper, faster, and to the wind.  She was tall and still and young.  At fifteen years old she was enrolled in college art classes and graduate level geometric theory.  She loved math, the sky, the color blue, and the girl in the corner.

A few degrees from my fixated hand and white crayon, the girl in the corner is hugging her knees and laughing.  Her hands are shaking and her feet are poking through the duct tape holes in her army issue combat boots.  Her socks are two different shades of blue.  One is rain she says, and the other; water.  I am drawing snow, rain freezing it’s way down to earth.

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cart, mortgage, campaign

You were a writer then; sleek black hair for ages and a stare that rendered me still in moments of wildness.  Those first nights in my rented room I would wake to find you still awake at my bedside, my hand bound in yours.  It was terrifying; your devotion, but I could not turn myself away.

There it was, the cart before the horse. You were a mystery to me, staining the summer heat with your questions, your silent arrivals.  When we were too shy to admit our feelings, you scribbled on the white rubber of my converse.

You were still in high school, but you paid attention me, paying mortgage to your future.  I would belong to you; and you were impatient.  I was in college, staying in New York only for the summer between semesters.

In the afternoon sun you would hold me like a wild bird, binding me into your lap.  I would writhe away to flirt with my other lovers.  I belonged to no one, but you kept your leash on me.  In the dead of night my girlfriend sought you out violently, and you hid, again at my bedside, always watching, always awake.

It took months to get your clothing off.  You would fuck me like a chellist fucks her instrument, always in control.  You would whisper can i kiss you, even after I came. You mistook me for something fragile.

When I left your side you wrote me letters, endlessly campaigning for my devotion, for my attention.  I was one thousand miles away, chasing a scarecrow lover with a fractured mind.  I couldn’t say a word to her, so I poured my love back to you in letters.

When I finally agreed to be your girlfriend, it was a surrender to your fixation.  When you came to visit, a friend drew a cartoon of us.  You stood behind me, dominant, and I flew in front of you, a fairy with a chain around her neck.  You were offended, but I saw a gleam of pride in you then.  I was yours.

wicked. filgree. corrode.

when night fell we were lost in the dew, unprepared for darkness.  my hands were wet on the neck of my guitar and i was spinning stories.  singing webwork from my spindle throat, capturing you. capturing her. the sun fell and our shadows rose to meet us.

at least it seems that way, that the darkness came, but if i squint my eyes it is still daylight. your blond hair is tangled in my fingers and we are rolling off alone in the grass.  i wonder if our friend feels abandoned, now, looking back on the scene. in those days i never thought about stuff like that.

i remember that the grass felt fragile that day, a precious filagree ornament to the earth. alive and beating like a heart in my hands. all of life so tender and unsupported.  i tore a single blade in my fingers; a homocide.

your smile was sweet and warm and mine was wicked as nightfall, biting at your lips and tumbling through you; a white rabbit and her rabbit hole.  you were chasing me, but i would never notice.  too busy, much too busy, lashing at the intricate, weaving and singing my stormsongs.

it was your father. the shadow that came.  the night that seemed to fall in midday.  your eyes grew dark and haunted and he rose to meet my lips like a vacuum. we froze and captured him, a djinn in a invisible glass. a nightmare.  I dont know how long we sat there, holding your infinate devil still in the sweet summer daylight.  i was high and stupid and i asked you to be my girlfriend.  your kiss was strawberry and iron, sweet and corrosive.

this is where we would hold eachother, for lifetimes.  half between the winter and the unfortunate spring, belonging to eachother for a fraction of a moment.  trailing sawdust and symphonies, the ink would bleed here for years, staining pages and scattering text.

narcissism; art cave

This is the moment that I look in the mirror. Not in the morning (when I am often deep in dreams), or in the rush of applying some small amount of makeup on my way through a day. There is a stillness at two am.

There is paint in my hair again, and I may have to surrender to a hair-cut soon. If I think too hard about this I will find myself debating the cost of a hair-cut versus the negotiation of a trade. This could lead me to an exploration of my personal budget, which would lead to a sugar craving (at the very least). Lets just let it hang in the air.

The paint in my hair is yellow. Not the best color for hair-paint, and I’m stripping int out with my fingers, but this is when I love myself most easily.  I am not magazine pretty right now, and I have streaked orange and green across my eyes on a whim. My hands are darkly caked with paint and glue and spices.  I smell of garlic.

There are pitfalls to painting in your own home. When my mother calls, I am standing naked on the carpet, paint dripping off my body. I am aiming my camera-phone at my feet, where layers of paint are bound to collect. You should have worn pants, I’m thinking

but you look lovely.

I remember the late nineties. The day I took LSD in an attempt to spend time away from my obsession of the decade. Her name was S; and she was mad, beautiful and entirely dangerous. I could have gone to class, taken myself seriously, slipped away from the chaos. In those days my reactions to neon warning signs amounted to smears of electric blue paint. Chaos onto chaos. Liquid LSD as a grounding place; a meditation.

I took three steps into myself before chaos and chaos collided, like layers of wet paint shifting together. Everything going black. Halfway through Strawberry Fields on my father’s old walkmen, I sunk to my knees in psychotic despair.

Grass is green, then grass is fragile. The world injured by my mere presence. Step and kill, step and kill. This is where the road leads; unregulated consciousness.

Hours later I found myself in a corner, on my perch/bed listening to Pearl Jam’s Black on an endless loop and chewing on the wrists on my shirt. Looking in, I may have seemed vacant, but the story inside was rich and wet. Wet black paint. S. and her lover across a chasm, and I was painting myself into a corner. Black; always black.

When S. comes to collect me for class, I dress to my imagination, and reach endlessly for her hand.

boat. red. brief

The boy was rich. Not rich like the kids in my home town, or at least not like any I knew. He was from an old money family, the next town over.  The day he took me out on his little speedboat, I thought I had found a guy worth wasting my time on. I won’t go so far as to say I was an opportunist, but at age sixteen, a guy with his own boat, loose morals and a home without watchdogs was a find.

In my memory, it was a summer afternoon.  We bought chicken sandwiches from a greek beachside stand, dumped them in brown paper bags and set off on the water. He pointed out a boat that he had stolen, or that he would steal. He would get arrested, or he already had. My father didn’t like him, but he seemed harmless enough.

The sandwiches were delicious, and possibly kicked off my lifelong love of chicken patties on sad, weatherbeaten white bread rolls. Passing the day like this, I almost felt like a normal girl, on a normal date, with a normal boy, but something about him refracted the sun.

A few nights later I tried to give him a blow job and he felt nothing. He was disinterested. He never tried to sleep with me. He was cold in the summer heat. We try to light damp matches. We strike them against every frictional surface until they crumble.

The night Amy stole her mom’s van, we met him on the road. We were driving so fast we lost our joint out the window and spent hours grazing our hands in dew, where the shoulder of the road met the manicured lawns of the neighbors. Maybe the police came. Maybe we just got tired. We abandoned our mission, leaving a memory like a streak of fire that disappeared into the night. Cold and fast. Empty.

A few nights later, I met him at the playground up the hill from my house, and sat in his car one final time. I was enamored with him, kissing him despite the hard edge of his smile. Despite the cold. He was electric that night, crackling with some new dark joy.

I have something to show you
he said
Pick up your feet

I tucked my feet up tight, and he reached into the footwell. I felt his excitement, and it felt cold. He pulled back a secret panel in the fabric. I was curious. He pulled out a loaded 45.

His smile was cold, and the metal of the gun was cold. He was proud of his acquisition. He had found a new way to try to get warm.

Feather. Armchair. Lightbulb.

I am trying to fall in love with the world again. I remember now, what it is to tumble freely, to let the gesture of each day sketch a course.  I know that this is symptomatic of vacation, but I want to vacate permanently.  I cast my eye upwards and the sky is plain, empty even.  My scattered collection of love affairs amounts to so many feathers, a collection in hairthin bone, but there is no body here. No bird.

I can smell my own body, and I find it comforting, appealing. I am sitting on a green wooden floor wearing nothing but high heels and lingerie. This is not to be provocative.  I simply cast my evening gown aside, while the sky remains, painted plain and unruffled.

If I could make myself small, I would live in tatters. One soft body cast easy on an armchair. I would wear fabric light as eggskin and dance only in the thinnest of moons.

As it stands, I am one bright stone cast into an ever-widening river. I would live in expanse and let the world rest quietly with me. In every city however, I feel large and unseemly. I am a flash of neon, a fishing hook.  Perspective is everything.

I haven’t been waking in the morning.  One unprotected light hangs from a string above my artwork, and I waste away hours there, burning in the hot glare of twilight. I seldom read, and I play the same sad songs into infinity.  Something has to change.

Endnote:

this was a scrap written in a stolen moment. the band was on tour, amidst other distractions, and I haven’t written in awhile. now there is paint drying in my living room, food in the fridge, and time.

xx it’s good to be back

breakfast. warrior. sediment.

Breakfast has changed shape dramatically over the years, but I still don’t have it quite right.  In 2003 I started the day with seaweed in miso broth and tiny tofu cubes, and about 6 cups of coffee.  Yesterday, I microwaved a corn-dog.

At age 15, when the summer was in full swing, I would sneak a small glass of white wine in the morning.  This was paired with a few spoonfuls of vanilla ice-cream and a handful of strawberries.  I am an alcoholic, and lactose intolerant.  I moved through my days then like a tiny glitter storm, shedding color and catching light every time I moved.  My mother spent hours trying to clean glitter out from between the floorboards. We weren’t getting along very well.

When my pilfering got too much and my family changed the locks, J. and I moved into his car. We worked out a poor-mans breakfast that would make prison inmates shudder.  We had those giant coffee mugs from the gas station, which back then came with 50 cent coffee refills for life.  In the morning we would wash the mugs in the gas station sink, trying to rid them of a thick layer of chicken broth from accumulated ramen grease.  Then we loaded them up with chicken flavored coffee, and bought a few packs of smokes.  That was all we consumed until hunger struck, at which time we returned to the station to fill those same coffee mugs with ramen.  J. called this breakfast of champions. By the end of the summer we were waking too drunk to make our way to the station, and collecting cigarette butts from the hot concrete outside the city hospital where my mom worked.  Several floors above us, my mom would watch the car from the hospital window.

We were warriors.  Fighting for truth and justice and the right to party.  When the locks got changed, J. threw me onto the roof of my house.  I climbed through the broken screen window to my own bedroom.  I grabbed my guitar and some clothes. After years of fighting to be free, I got to learn what freedom was to a kid.  We woke most mornings glued to the hot black leather of J’s car seats.  I never opened my guitar case. We overstayed our welcome at parties.

In February, well over a decade ago, I woke with a girl sleeping in my arms.  A glass, red from sediment, sat inches from my hand.  That day I remembered everything.  Every strange morning, every lost day.  Things haven’t been quite the same since.

When I quit drinking, I spent nearly a year in the kitchen compulsively making fried egg sandwiches.  People came and went in our apartment, and I went through nearly two cartons of eggs every single day.  Someone nicknamed our apartment ‘fried-egg’.  I took orders from my post. Fried-egg, egg-in-a-basket, scrambled egg. I dusted each sandwich with herbs and layered on swiss cheese.

I don’t usually eat corn-dogs, but I still have a long way to go.  When you live by yourself there is no one to hold you accountable.  When you host travelers in your home, they leave behind all sorts of things in your fridge.  Soy cheese, hot pockets, a box of frozen corn dogs.  I keep a list on my wall of the things I do well each day.  About a week ago I ate quinoa for breakfast. I’m sincerely hoping to repeat that particular gesture. Create a habit.  A good one this time.

Thirsting. Careless. Grime.

My heart is a machine pumping memories, but there is no thirst. When I pray, I pray for loneliness. There is a piece so many are missing, so I am collecting the world. There are moments when my philosophies develop a sense of grace and surface headlong. Ancient and singing, like my whale-song family, in those moments I know what color lipstick to wear.

It’s not complicated. The layers of grime on the heart can not be ignored. They are future stories, or nights spent in secret, lifting your body from your lovers bed to weep privately into the starscape.  Those are the moments I want to share, but as of late I have discovered that you can’t pour your reflection into a mirror. Glass and glass until you have no choice but forgiveness.

And forgiveness would change everything. I hate change. I like macaroni and cheese, late nights and careless poetry. I like the shadow I have named and befriended, in you, in myself and in those I try to love.  I like the dust on my instruments, the anger that eventually sings you back to Yourself. Do you want to know where it all comes from? When you tear the veil off the words, the weight, there is nothing but motivation. You motivate me, like a trigger motivates a bullet.

I was tangled up in forgiveness when You called. I meant to say hello, but it came out in vertigo.  You were a stranger. It was a wrong number.  We spoke for 14 minutes.

You never change, I said.
I never will, you scolded.

luck. alley. rabbit

When I arrived in Prague, I drew a solid white t-shirt from beneath my skirts, a garish tie-dye in human blood crossing shoulder to hip. I pulled the shirt over my head, the blood still wet, and we left for dinner. I called this an experiment. The human mind will perceive what it wants to perceive. I smell of blood, am covered in it, but we sit happily in a candlelit restaurant. The waiter’s eyes never once flit across my body.  This may be a first.

I am wearing a rich cashmere scarf, a gift from my mother that Christmas. It is the finest fabric I have ever owned, and for this I cherish it. The color is a soft hunter green, and it looks lovely against my bold red and white. My steps leaving the restaurant were hesitant, then cocky somehow. I knew then exactly how invisible I was. How invisible we all are. I moved quickly, and it took me some time to notice the hunter green scarf had fallen away.

You always humored me. I don’t know what we were chasing then. Some idea of love, a white rabbit covered in blood.  We knew we had no chance, so you spoke to me in watercolors, and I listened like a vortex. Loop and fall, sequence.

My hands moved to my throat, and you saw me, stricken with panic over something so small. You had a soft spot for me, despite our entanglement, and turned on your heel in the January cold. We walked slowly, because my faith was different then; deep and thick with the fates and the gods. If I am meant to find it, it will be there, but I have to look.

I don’t remember what we talked about, only that my scarf appeared hanging neatly on a fence, and my heart surfaced. I cast my gratitude not to you, but to G-d, and an unnamed stranger.  A few steps into the night with my newly reclaimed trophy, and you lingered with my blood and my armor, painting a green alley, dreaming of snow.

Stones. France. Blue.

Intuition is a tapestry, and not unlike delusion, it can be difficult to pull yourself from the crosshairs. The stable horizon line. The depth and sacrifice of as above, so below. These should not be at odds; motion without and motion within, and yet we are stretched beyond capacity, and I am having difficulty shopping.

Yes, shopping. The prescribed behavior of every upper-middle class American. Please go shopping. Security is a tidal wave, a fear and a fashion that hangs for sale signs on our very roots. Upheaval, but the wave never subsides. Its essence is generation, but not generational. We will keep the wave moving, and we will forget.

My family is beautiful. Every television screen, every advertisement for what you are lucky enough to afford depicts them. They are aliens to the workers in Detroit. They are sub terrestrial. They might not have hearts.  It is possible to buy your way into their kingdom, but they can smell their own kind, like rats. The smell is doughy and green. Artificial but damp. The smell is life blooming, hearts ascending where the wave can not stir. Older waters.

My sister returns to France every few years, and has a somewhat acceptable grasp on the language. I am lost everywhere I go, and for this, they call me a genius, and a nuisance. I am standing behind the house, at the edge of an ocean tamed so long ago it might be contained somehow.  I spend time looking for signs of a bottle at the edge of the horizon, but there is New York City blinking cold and calm in the distance.

When they travel they remark on the food, or the quality of certain accommodations. They drink wine and visit famous landmarks.  When I travel I wear electric blue fabrics that catch the wind just so. I aim to look mysterious and to conceal my endless collapses of consciousness. These are tiny revelations, inconsequential against the stone and thatch of an old country. Here in America’s fabrications; they are matches.  I want to talk to someone, but the whole world feels silent in the same way I feel old.