"the dark knows this"

The lapfuls of minutes til eyes shut,

the way the throat feels blocked and gutted at the same time.

 

There is an absence fingers know, a leaving.

Fingers try to grip.

 

Where it’s wooded

Where it’s windowless

Where the quilt has weight

Where a body lies

Where a body leaves

 

Where a lake is still

until

water is broken (punctured) by an oar.

 

Where knowing means not

Where letting go means falling

 

A deep well

A dark hole

 

Skin that doesn’t know fingers anymore.

 

I can’t find you.

I don’t want to. 

 

prompted by the line “the dark knows this” Linda Hogan // Dark & Sweet

 

Ecotone

“to begin in the linear way. to say it beautifully in the failure to separate.” Melissa Buzzeo // What Began Us

 

in the ecotone, in between two

lands,

separate climates,

I am sewing together disparate

lines of poetry

of sound

of ruptures

of violences

separate always but also sharing

boundaries,

sharing lines.

the scalp: hair lines, shave lines, strands pull them out, ones that are used to drag a body by, ones pulled and shaved in order to stunt the breaking loose, to draw less attention from eager fingers.

the ribs: hair lines too but fractures, the knowing of the body break as it hits a dumpster, a sidewalk, a police car.

a mirroring in shape and size,

yes.

the body remembering, responding, reacting, rewinding, untying those years connected by disparate lines of poetry.

caption // capturing smoke

“How do you caption smoke?” She said: “You’d have to trap it first.”- Bhanu Kapil, Ban en Banlieue

Fingers on telephone keys, trying to find letters to make words to find you.

I am a tiny embroidered circle. I am using my hands and then yours to ride round and round myself. Make homes around myself. Make homes in myself.

Sometimes the work is avoiding the work, Liz says. Or: sometimes it is diving clear into it, no life boat or vest of a friend near by to pull me back out.

Sometimes I don’t want to come out.

Sometimes black holes are safest, no one can see me searching for homes in your skin. No one can hold me, my long-haired tendrils, waiting to be ripped out. Let go.

Sometimes letting go is the letting in. Sometimes letting in is the letting go.

Sometimes the actual. Sometimes the invert.

Sometimes I am riding on an ocean crest, your hand in my cunt and there is a demon-faced sheep or something watching us and sometimes I find that comforting.

Your hand in my cunt I find comforting.

I want all of your hands in my cunt, I want new hands in there, I want you to open me up so wide I never go back to being shut.

What about the bodies that can never be dead because they were never alive to start? Where do bodies go that were cast off along the way? How many am I still dragging around, afraid to cut loose?

Like peeling an onion, my breathwork teacher says. Just keep peeling, layer by layer she says. Peeling is hard because we don’t know what’s underneath; we’ve made it so we will never find out. Who has time for all that peeling and crying? But really. Who doesn’t have time for it? Sometimes we are worried there is no underneath, no core, that maybe we will get into the very interior of the body of the onion of the story and then poof. Not alive but not dead either.

A fellow survivor writer dearheart tells me that I haven’t even begun to speak of it yet. My advisor says Give me more. I keep wanting you to say more about the violence. Surely it has roots?

Sometimes the body of violence is living in every layer of the onion. Sometimes I imagine you, reader, already know them, smelled me out long ago and now if I tell you, spell it out, won’t this just be repetition? How afraid I am of repetition but really, what is life if not repetition. Moving forward, one stitch at a time, sometimes circling back, making a mistake, cutting out the knot, tying one off, starting over, new stitches going through holes already made.

Notes:

1. Bhanu Kapil // Ban en Banlieue, her new book, 5/29/15
2. Liz Latty // writing date, 5/29/15

3. Erin Telford // Radiant Heart Breathwork, Maha Rose, 5/29/15

4. Aleksei Wagner // a bed, 5/23/15

5. devynn emory // just a chat near a park, 5/26/15

6. Lise Weil // Goddard College 3rd semester, Packet 2

“the human sexual experience…”

prompt writing: “the human sexual experience…”

Oh the poet. I’ve always wanted to fuck a poet. But. I’ve never wanted to fuck a poet that didn’t want to fuck me. Which I imagine is a lot of them, a lot of those poets. The ones who write in series of lists and lines of nonsense I can’t quite understand. Sometimes I cover my head with the quilt when I read them. Eeeeesssssh.

I’ve always wanted to fuck the poet and I’ve always wanted to be that poet that people have wanted to fuck.

Both. And.

Never either/ or. I’ve wanted to be that poet, the kind who knows words even a little better than they know themselves. The kind of poet who twists and turns words, rebirths them into creatures they were too afraid or to shy to be before. I’ve wanted to be and to fuck that poet.

Like Kathleen Hanna and those killer bikinis, who didn’t know if they wanted to be that rebel girl in the neighborhood or fuck her or be her best friend yeah, I’ve always been between. Between the desire to be and do, to fill and be filled, to hold and to be the one holding. Fucked and fucking. I’ve always wanted this and that, hard and soft, slow and fast all at the same time. I’ve wanted to be inside the outside of the shells of someone elses skin. I’ve wanted to be the outside of the inside of a new skin. I’ve never been very good at telling someone else that though.

I’ve spent the day looking at a picture and reading articles about a weasel that decided to hop on the back of a woodpecker.

Take flight.

Sometimes I’ve wanted to take a ride on odd vehicles, go so high high high up that I’m no longer just a weasel but maybe the new shape that a weasel-woodpecker makes when they are holding on to each other.

I’ve always wanted to fuck the poet but sometimes a poet only wants to fuck themselves. Sometimes a poet doesn’t know that the words they turned inside out don’t actually render themselves new but old. Or a rhyme or unrhymed or new shape. Sometimes words can’t take on the shape we want them to and poets can’t be the bodies we want them to be and poems just can’t.

Not for us. At least they aren’t always, are they?

Ritual 1 & 2

Ritual 1.

21 G 1 ½ // precison glide // hip in hip // lie back lean forward // push gently then firm

more, harder, re-line lines

make an x

push in, harder

 

now you.

it's so fresh, bubbles up, i want to lick it

long thin lines, tracing, tracing

reach in and pull out

whats trapped in there?

can it loosen? can it be left behind?

deepest breath like ones that puff your chest out

your eyes on my eyes

 

take a picture

hold your hand over it

the mirror mirrors it back

its an opening

 

it stays.

Ritual 2.

i want to take care of you

 

bonesy, come lay on top of me.

place your whole body on my whole body, lets let everything touch and connect.

rest.

rest.

rest.

i want you to let it all go

put one thing down that you carry, can you?

sink in to me.

i can feel you/ can you feel me?

put all the things down that you carry

softly

give them to me, if you can.

 

are you able to put something down?

you dont need to carry it all, you can share it with me, release it to me, settle around         me.

rest.

softly rest.

 

deep breaths, i love when i can feel them, feel so good when i can feel them.

out. in. out. in. out. in.

 

can you feel that? it's so strong around us.

it feels like an important moment, im trying to connect.

trying to really move into it because it is thick between us,

we are strong, between us.

dont want to miss the chance

to let go.

 

were you able to put something down?

was it easy to do?

how did it feel?

Thread Lines

I want the toothy smiles of the starting-in-the-beginning times to line the walls of that photo album in my brain. We had them, they were shiny and they existed before we traced the old wounds onto each others new bodies. We had new bodies then. We had shine again. We still.

After last time, that time before them, my ex-girlfriend told me (my other ex) she and I, we had been careless with each other. We had the hearts, found the space to be those hearts but then we lost the way. Lost the ties. Or, we actively untied them. They were tied. We tied but then untied them. There was a giving up, in this untying, feeling as if there was no way back to each other. That time there wasn't.

I’m not giving up. There is a smell I know. I have been carefull with them. We have shared hands that before us sometimes were more used to pushing other hands away and now, we have made new ways to press ours together.

Ylang ylang is a smell that sometimes I can hold like it has a shape, or maybe it holds me in the shape of a heart-space. It’s the smell that ties my skin to muscles to bones and then back in reverse. It’s a smell that I can see but I couldn’t begin to tell you it’s size. But it has one, a size, and it fills up my quiet parts. 

When I look at the lines of your face and when we are with other people, it’s a face I’ve known, for a long time. But really I have only known your face for some months beyond twelve. But, like the smell of ylang ylang, those lines have settled into my quiet parts and they tie all the parts to other parts and I’m trying to hard to remember that it’s not just those lines, it’s not just that smell that is doing the tying. The strings are in my hands. I am doing the threading. I am doing the weaving and pulling tight. I know the knots. 

When I remember that I am as full as the ylang ylang that fill me up and the threads that connect all the lost and static parts, I can hold on and be here with them. When I am myself and holding on to those lost and static parts, trusting them, all the tied and untied parts, my shape is as big as before.

Through

The following is a shorter piece of a larger piece: the creatures that cross our paths and the lessons they bring in the crossing

7. 

            Orange red, the eft, so bold it stops me in my tracks. A timid sleeping sweet newt hiding under a leaf and I am obsessed. They are water dwellers trying their hand at living on land for only a short time. I want to pick this tiny friend up, take them along for a ride in my pocket. It is only after first seeing and then following up with some research that I find out this newt is filled with a fire.

            They move quickly but when spotted, stop. Full stop. I want to pick them up and hold them but I’m worried I will pull a leg off or a tail. What if they lost their tail? But then I remember their resiliency; after loss they simply grow a new one. There is renewal, rebirth. Even in the darkest moments, they pull from within and rebuild.

 

8. 

            The seven-day devotion candle, to keep me on track, lasted ten days, maybe more. I would blow it out and relight it each time I left the cabin and sometimes even when I would sleep because I just had a feeling. I am trying to mark time with candles but it’s not quite working. Sometimes I can trust fire to stay where it is supposed to, to not destroy everything in its wake, to stay contained. But sometimes fire needs to be extinguished, needs to quiet in order to come back glowing.

            See each ending as a new beginning. The tarot told me so, friends do too. “But look at all the openness! Now you can create!” I have been the one telling this to other people, it’s the things we say when there is nothing left to say, when the only other option is to lay down on the floor and stop moving. And what if I truly love what I created, what I had and lost? What if I didn’t want more or different or change? But maybe I did, on some level. So I walk outside instead, take trips to the co-op, cook meals to fuel the body and replenish the places that are deficient.

            But why does this feel like forgetting? Betrayal? The candle burns out, I run to replace it. I don’t think of Frank the second I wake up, I berate myself. That candle doesn’t smell right, find another. I buy two of everything so I don’t run out, make grocery lists and to-do lists and future to-do lists so that I can harness some sort of control over the ways I am told I am not even a little in control. People like me can’t just let go of the reins. I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and say “Fuck it, do what you will universe.” So I grip tight, try to loosen when I can. Hope that all that I lose, all that’s been bitten off with sharp teeth will regrow.

            My days outside of the city look like this: wake up, grind beans by hand and make coffee, put on my “woods” playlist, dance when the moment is right, check social media, scold myself, egg on cheddar on toast, light incense and waft it around into all the heavy places, scold myself, make another cup of coffee, look at the list I have made for myself, walk outside, drive to find pottery, answer those emails, try to do a little work for pay, scold myself. Write, if I’m lucky. Reading. Weave thread through new spaces, new fibers. Sometimes I sing really loud, losing that fear of being heard through the thin walls of city apartments. My voice carries here. It’s actually a beautiful way to live in a lot of ways, marking time with ritual and fiber and scent and pen and sound.

            I gather from the woods for Frank. I bring him with me on these walks, I ask him to come, I look to the illusion of him trotting along by my side in that way he proudly gallops, return home with gifts from the earth and the trees and the feathers that fall in our path. His altar filled with my life here, the life he can only feel from the other side, whatever side that actually is. There’s ghost pipe for the pain, self-heal to embrace the healing we hold within our own bodies, cordyceps to honor the cancerous process (and to try to expel its grip on me and him), the “seeker of keys” tarot card as a reminder that we now choices and there are many doors to walk through, the aragonite, amethyst, and sodalite that I placed around his dog bed when he was the sickest, his post-death ceramic paw print, framed and unframed photos, the leaf with the changing colors, the new candle because I can’t be without a light yet. So many of these things I have carried with me from Brooklyn. I wonder when it will be past the point of useful, when carrying these around become just another way I am weighted down with past lives.

            My mother told me that Frank is now in heaven looking down. Morbid and contradictory, I joked that who knows, maybe he is in hell. Or some kind of purgatory. “Ohhh, no. He’s not in hell.” And it’s true, Frank is not in hell or in any sort of imaginary place or place I can’t feel him, he is here, still, and in new ways. Frank was my daemon, not to be confused with demon, and much like he was in life, he is now beyond guiding me in that subtle but necessary way. It helps to think of his guidance, helps the grief that feels like bricks on my toes.

            This grieving isn’t new, even though sometimes I think I have never grieved like this before. The experts and the books on grief tell me that the grieving process isn’t just about the current loss but more of a culmination and bringing together of all previous losses. I start to remember all the ways I have grieved before, the people, the homes, the families, the lost bodies, the wishes; how this isn’t the first time but rather just another time. I think of how my body has heaved in the past, how it has broken down, fallen down, how I have drowned out any sort of corporeality with bottles of cheap alcohol, nights of twenty-five cent bags of Cheetos. I think of how, years ago now,  one month after an unexpected break-up I found myself in a $400 bridesmaid dress, not of my choosing, so drunk I couldn’t stand so I was sitting on a curb in my hometown trying to find a ride somewhere. And then, two days later I was in the back of a suburban cop car after smashing my borrowed mother’s car into a thin-boned tree. Totaled it. How I stumbled out of the car and tried to walk my way back to my mother’s through woods that I knew connected us but that I had never been in. How I somehow managed to be three times over the legal limit. How I hit the steering wheel and airbag so hard, I blew my nose ring right out of my nose. How that loss, that time, maybe it felt like other losses, other times I had lost myself, my body or the times it hadn’t been lost but had been stolen. How these things always happen in the suburbs where I am most afloat, places I am the least grounded, the least hopeful. How I just collapse right into “freak” mode, become all the things they think they see when they stare at the grocery store. How that was years ago and so often it feels like now. How I am imperfect and messy and I’ve been broken and glued so many times, I can’t always trace the first crack. 

      Is it the teen years all over again? Am I a bright fire teenager coming out of the water like the eft? Trying to live on land with my burning hot skin? I worry that this time, the fire is too big and I am too fucking mad and disappointed and it’s going to spread, that it’s already spilled all over. That it’s burning me down from my roots up. That there can’t possibly be rebirth. That I’ve lost too many limbs. That there are too many trees downed, forest too sparse. That maybe it’s too painful to stand. That maybe I’m still just wishing for a new limb, I want someone to just hand it to me already— sew it back into it’s socket. 

There Is a Way

“This particular conversation with the expert.” – Maggie Nelson, Bluets

___

It’s a conversation and you’re in your robe, me in what looks like one. There’s coffee and cream-filled doughnuts. I hate those. We’re talking but it’s not quite right. We’re looking into eyes across the kitchen island but not saying, not seeing, not really looking.

Where it’s wooded, I’m cool. It’s a way of being with you, with me and we’re not really seeing, not really looking but amongst trees that’s ok. There’s so much more in bark, in reishi perched off the tall oak, there are ways to distract, be distracted here. It’s why we walk.

But over pastries and strong coffee we’re supposed to be doing that looking, that seeing, that connecting. We fail.

 

“It is tempting to devise some kind of maturity narrative here.” – Maggie Nelson, Bluets

___

            It is tempting to know more than I say, to say more than you hear. To keep things safely to myself. In.

            The wiser older, the knowing, the way she wants to leave the space, make a move. A decision that feels like it’s owned by someone other than me.

            It is tempting to sit with you, a finger or two tracing denim, your leg but I’m looking away. I’m sinking into a way of touching that I can’t feel.

            It is tempting to believe myself, to be a type who is older, feels more, gives less. If I hold onto it, maybe you won’t be able to feel it. If I pretend I can’t feel it, maybe I won’t. 

untitled

Lately I can’t kill spiders.

Or flies.

I swat at them hoping only to startle.

 

I sleep but really I’m just pulling hairs,

finding ones that displease me,

yank at the root.

 

When we are together I want to be apart

and

when I am alone I am desperate.

You said from the second you walked in you could feel “it”.

We don’t know what “it” is but still,

we feel.

 

Not quite palatable.

Tangible.

Palliative care, we’re doing it.

 

Care turned into nursing to keep living.

Food turned into life.

Kisses turned into “the last” and “can you capture this, take a picture for us?”

Pills line shelves line walls.

Hitting them, turning round, hitting twice more.

Gripping tight.

Holding.

Everyday trying to let in while letting go.

lose to find

 

to live in this body.

the lines drawn that arent mine,

my body stripped of its own bodyness

lines on lines, reworked by scars,

allowing the stiches to fuse into my skin.

 

when i was first mapped,

eel legs,

shapeshifting into new uniforms.

it broke in public.

i ride inside it.

silent passenger.

the way i find my body over and over.

 

lights on lights off,

lose it to find it.