The sum of us

Good Girls don’t write about sex

Overtly

They disguise their want in paralipsis

And allegory

Hoping the one they wrote it for

Reads in between watery lines

Just as we think we know and we don’t know

How to play a violin to life

What specific string to rub dulce, with bow and how?

To produce the exact sound

Of heaven

For we rely on machines purchased

In stores that wrap them in paper and

Blush behind their make-up

To soften the blow of loneliness

They even offer them in pink with ears.

I decided long ago to

Forgo batteries and think of you instead

With my flesh and my bones

Nothing more but those images in my head

Of you lying back unclothed

Ready for feasting

I’m long past apologizing

For my need at midday to think

About sex

Women do it too

Maybe not in the office bathroom with a magazine

Or tiny screen zooming in

But quieter, and softer, lying in the bath

Lights out, candles giving off waxy

Myth

The world is changed outside and we

No longer obey fluorescent lights

I dim ours and the moon in turn

Shies from long curtains

In dusk I see the curves of you

Reminding me, as if I needed reminder

Of why I think of you all the long day

And how and in what ways

For I don’t believe there will be a time

I’ll stop boiling my blood in imagining

And the moment we come together

Is ever more for waiting

It seems at times I wait, more than I actually find

Perhaps the rejoinder of fantasy is

We can inhabit it more, than what lies real

Yet as you undress, I know

Nothing I can conjure up, can compete

With the real feel of your skin against mine

The human touch of our hands enjoined

I may be called creative, but I could never

Describe those pleasured hours well

We are it seems, beyond all living illustration

For beauty when it is actual

Is not the plastic doll on the shelf

Nor her vibrating friend, who promises

To get you off so easily.

Some things are worth waiting for

Some people are necessary, chasing eternal

For even one night with you, would suffice

Against a hundred with someone else

I cannot replace what you do to my heart

Every time I see you turn a corner

And smile that crooked smile of yours

Eyes glinting, a little cocked half walk, half run

We meet in our dreams

We stay together when apart

It is the sum of us

We add up

Even as everything else

Does not

And tell her to stay

cotton-in-braille

My mother sits on the side of the bed, it is 1980 or 1999 or never or sometime in the seventies or perhaps she’s not really there …

Her indent remains after the door closes, after the light is extinguished in the green hall way, where usually people go to sleep and she goes away, away, away …

Even then I could not see well, I squint into the half light, I look at the painted gypsy caravan wardrobe my parents picked up in a flea market before I was born, the cheap thin wood which now, years later, would be considered ‘antique’ – oh the absurdity of those things.

I think of them, crouching on elastic knees, abundant youth, painting, red and blue and yellow. I think of the song I learned in nursery about a rainbow, I think about gays appropriating rainbows later on and how ‘gay’ is not how most of us felt. How appropriation is always ironic.

When I began to stop wetting the bed, my father bought a calendar and stuck it on my wall, he would let me stick stars on the days I did not wet the bed, when I got enough stars he said, something great would happen. It had to be better than the machine I’d had the year before that ‘buzzed’ when I wet the bed and woke me up. I didn’t see how sesame seeds and electric buzzers would stop any child peeing in their nightmares.

A week later I opened my curtains, there was a stuffed toy rabbit on the windowsill, it was slightly damp from being there all night, and it smelt like fur and home. I still have it. It still has me. I never named it. How do you give a name to the earning of pain?

We lived in a basement, it was moldy in the Winter and cool in the Summer. I couldn’t see the sky, I grew to like the idea of living underground, of burrowing deep into the earth beneath city concrete, where the bodies murmured against river mud. I believed in Ghosts. Ghosts most certainly believed in me, they were my companions.

They shimmered past in half-light, caught in doorways and shining windows and dour corners. They contorted into devils by the astigmatism of my eye, becoming faces with fangs, fingers reaching upward. I wondered even then, why I feared the unseen more than the seen. Why what was not real felt more real than real? How ghosts could become my torment, when the world outside felt equally remorseless? Why not put them away and tackle that which existed? Perhaps that is exactly why. For a child who did not know how to make things right.

My wardrobe was little for a child, I was little for a child, my bones were plastic and breakable, they snapped when I folded myself tightly into corners, and the four cheap velour rabbits bought one Easter sat alert and watchful on the windowsill with a half moon shining in and lighting the face of the wardrobe into a grimacing creature.

The rabbits and I heard things. We saw things. Through bad eyes and deaf ears. The sound of my mother leaving, her presence skirting the room like a flamingo dancer, her lithe form, her long graceful arms with impossibly thin wrists, the smell of her on my skin because I was born of her, and then born not at all.

A clock did not exist on the wall, it did not tick down time, it did not remind us of what we had lost, it was not there, it left only the outline of its being like a circle set by sunlight on fading paint. A sundial without hands, without notion of time. Existing as planets exist, not realizing they circle the other.

My clothes grew tight as I elongated and sloughed the years, I kept an empty bottle of my mother’s eye make up remover by my bed, it smelt of her, as her hairbrush did, I wondered how she could live without her hairbrush. I did not wonder how she could live without me.

The tenants of the tall building were unhappy and they smiled a lot to cover it up. They said things like; We will be glad to look after your little girl. When my father cycled away, relieved, lighter, seeking a woman, seeking freedom, I stood on the doorstep and watched and the ache in my chest felt like a piece of lead piercing unnamed parts and I thought of my mother, how when she was my age she watched her parents sail back to Africa whilst she stayed still and I realized … how she and I were interchangeable and only the years were different.

Once, my mother said her mother put perfume on a handkerchief and left it for her and she kept it under her pillow. I kept my mother’s hairbrush under mine, it smelt of the oil of her curly hair, and the damp of my tears and the dust of time, sweeping her skirts along the empty floor.

I am alone now. As I was then. It feels the same. It feels worse because there is no illusion. Nothing like the future to hide behind and solace yourself with. No ‘things will be better when you grow up’ after you have grown up and realized they are not.

Again we are back in my bedroom. She is standing up. She is sitting down. The moment of her departure is fuzzy like my eye sight and I tell her, in years to come I will lose my eye sight and you will gain yours and my father will still be cycling away not knowing they piled on top of me and beat me to pieces, or that three little boys could throw marbles so viciously until a little girls heart burst and she ran away.

She turns to me and says something but it was twenty years ago. It was never. It was yesterday and I cannot see what she says or how she says it, to know if it was meant or just words spilled onto temporary carpet. I cannot know because she did not know, and our act was just a part of a grander outcome, both of us have forgotten and remembered many times since.

I love her in a way that slices through the fat and gets to the bone. I love her in a way I cannot articulate meaningfully but she knows and that’s the worst part, she knows. Maybe ever since I have found my father’s bicycle and learned to follow his trail, looking for her, looking for myself, seeking the way out of the high rise and the pinching boys and the ugliness that turns away when they see what is happening because maybe they are glad.

It is a day later, a year later, a decade past. We sit on roof tops in the weak sun and eat boiled sweets. Ants pick at our toes, dandelion’s die and float in their seed form to be wished upon and we leave them alone, already knowing, wishes are foibles.

You say it won’t hurt but it does and I knew it before it happened but I let it happen because of the ache inside that needed anything, even if it was pain.

The roof top is strewn with the debris of childhood, and my mother’s brush no longer smells of her, it goes through my hair like it was only my straight, boring hair it had to brush its entire life, as if she never existed and we did not sit on the bed together, the curtains closed nearly completely, only a hint of darkness spilling through.

If I had remembered I would have told her then, do not leave me when the time comes in twenty years, do not say goodbye a second, a forth, a nineteenth time. No matter what you think I have done, how disappointed you are in me, what disgust you hold in your heart. Instead remember this, the moment we sat quietly and I put my hand in yours and said it was okay and you cried and I cried from then until forever, without using my eyes or my ears or my mouth.

My father is cycling away from me, he is squinting ahead as if he sees something worth seeing, and I am turning, watching my mother close the door, asking that it be left open just a crack, to let the light in, hearing her steps in the corridor, not quite believing she will never come back. Because children always believe in magic. And Ghosts. And Monsters. And boys with marbles in their cheeks and demons in their eyes.

When I woke next to you and you asked me if I had a bad dream, I watched you as you sank back down into sleep and your hair fell across the pillow, the tangle and darkness of it against white linen. You could have been her, I could have been him, we could have never had a child, I ask you not to, please, do not, I don’t need to be born.

That’s why I was late, and why you struggled for 40 something hours in labor, they should have cut you, small as you were, small like me, but they didn’t, maybe it was cruelty, we have seen a lot of that in our life haven’t we and it wouldn’t surprise either one of us, or maybe it was the belief that women were strong enough no matter what, and we know that to be true also, even as we think it’s a damn shame sometimes.

You were strong enough and I was strong enough – to survive or endure but never really thrive – maybe you did – perhaps you were the only one who could – I had my eyes set on a future that never came, and a bicycle turning the corner, and my grandmother waving me from the street as I climbed the stairs to my class, and just as she turned to go, I ran back and I came outside and called her name and she said; Why aren’t you going to your classroom? And I wanted to say; Why would I go into a classroom? I’m not going to learn anything there? I have learned more here sitting on this bed, watching my mother leave, hearing her say things she did not say, wishing I were as powerful as the God of the wardrobe and not being able to eat my marzipan frog she brought me last. Because she gave it to me and I could not consume it and for it to be gone.

And you would have understood because you had your emotions close to your skin as I have, which makes you easily despised and sometimes admired. Because you were a coward as I have been, letting her be crushed by your absence and thinking it nothing at all, when you set sail again and again leaving her with a handkerchiefand a loneliness the size of Africa. I could not fill that loneliness although good God I tried many, many times, but when you break someone, you can put them back together, it does not mean they can hold anything you then pour into them.

She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, and that from a child who didn’t yet know how to lie. I compare my lovers to her now. Wonder if they could beat her at chess and laugh because I know they could not. Think on how she managed to stay strong even in the harshest currents, when I cannot always stand without leaning. I look nothing like her, there is only sometimes in the cast of light, a glint of her in my eyes, looking back and when I see it, I ask her, why didn’t you spit me out before I was whole, so that you never had to be disappointed and I never had to lose you, then and now and never.

My grandmother taught me to swim in a basement, I dreamed the river would break its banks and my little home would be drowned. I dreamed my father was on the bottom bunk and I on the top and every time the water receded he was lifeless and I could do nothing, except scream impotently underwater for him to live. My grandmother died before I was old enough to let her know the truth, that I was not her grandchild but a water sprite dredged up from the river mud and set to swimming in dreams not of my own. That I had no parents but the marzipan figurines of night terrors and mares and I peed in my bed until I was too old to tell and old enough to lie.

Learning to swim was the only thing I learned fast and well, everything else came slow and difficult, just like trying to love someone who doesn’t love you, or expressing things too painful for words. I could sit with my parents and paint my wardrobe but I could never, ever, close the chink of light coming in from the slightly opened curtains, spilling on the floor where she walked across, soundlessly, growing dim and incomplete like the china dolls set back on a distant shelf somewhere.

Now I wear heavy glasses and even that is not enough, I cannot drive at night, I see things that are not there, and do not see what is. I think that is quite ironic really all things considered. My stomach hurts to think of how easily the brush goes through my hair, and how girls with curly hair never needed hairbrushes, so how hers became mine, seems like it always was, and the bottles she left behind were empty when she was here, when she was gone, when she never was.

If one day I am asked, I will say, I tried my best, I learned to swim well and I could pick up one of those weighted bricks from the bottom of the azure swimming pool but nobody came to see me swim so I did not compete well and soon I gave it up altogether. I will say I remember my grandmother running after a man who had broken in to watch us swim and bellowing at the top of her voice she scared him off, all 5’1 of her. I think my mother would laugh at that story, she has a wonderful laugh, it lights up her face and makes everyone else in the room join in.

We will not invite the shadows, we will not ask the ghouls or the disappointments to attend. We will stay the two of us, and wait it out. The past, the present and the future. We will talk on other things and not linger on those that prick and make us bleed. We will circumvent the pain like a sleeping lion and I will make her smile at my stories, the way I did once, once some time, some where. I have forgotten exactly when. The two of us, so alike and so different, sisters, strangers, with love the size of a river, with regret as deep as a drowning. Things never said on the tip of my tongue, burning with love, as we are quiet on the edge of the bed, with my mother about to leave and yet, still there, and me, always leaning, leaning towards her. Wanting to reach out. And tell her to stay.

The promise of the dream (nombrilisme series)

I dreamt or made up that I did

In sweet spot between wakefulness and sleep

giving over to fantasy as bolster against, hard spit of life otherwise

sometimes, you just need spoon of honey stirred in warm drink

reducing disappointment, like when you were ill as a child

someone laid a cool hand on your fever and whispered;

there there, there there

when I was little, I was very disappointed

with empty rooms, lack of interest, invalidating reasons to exist

I learned before I could talk, to fantasize and imagine

sustaining me throughout life, both as warm blanket against harsh reality

sometimes a drug that I used too much to ward away gloom

for when we live inside the rooms of our imagination

we create such spectacular palaces

sometimes, the outside world is neglected

we do not try as hard, if we can imagine instead

I danced with Jennifer Beals in Flashdance in my mind

why then did I need to try?

and reality it is necessary to know, you get nothing without effort

dreams are just dreams, eventually avoir le cafard, leaving you cold.

Once in a while, I still permit myself to

think of a world where everything I want, comes true

what would it feel like?

think of what hurts you the most, turn it into the best scenario, that was my moto

I hated how I looked, so in my fantasy land, I was free of all taint and condemnation

always abandoned, so in my mind, people came to me open armed

as silly and unrealistic that may be, in the cold light of day

lying in my bed, yesterday, I flung my arm out of the covers

into cold air

imagined a lover taking it

kissing my goosepimpled skin with warm lips

until I could hear their words, whispered in my ear

feel their want of me

curling around usually empty flesh

so long I felt, I had mastered the feeling of rejection

I could write a monologue on it

wanted to kill it, leave it dead and bleeding

never again know intimately what it felt like

to be lied to, walked away from, deceived,

never again know, how it felt to make mistakes

trust someone who promised and gave nothing

in my mind, I needed nobody

still they came, as fantasy will

the girl I set my sights on

changing her mind, bending to Fates chant

it was all rather sad, when you thought about it

here I was making up worlds that didn’t exist

when in my own, there was only indifference

but it is, the unbearable likeness of being

sends me to my mind palace, hiding from the world.

As a little girl, when it was cold outside

and rain fell or my own tears, in my prison

and I had read all the books, thrice over

nothing to see out of windows, nobody to speak to, or call out for

the emptiness of days, absent of structure and attention, I was to all, invisible

behind my eyes, I created a world

of being wanted and validated and sometimes

amazing

where lovers spoke entreaties, wonderful things occurred

and as I grew older I could pretend

it was not me who touched myself

but the hand of someone, I only dreamed of

for reality was falling rain

nothing worked the same out there

it stung of let-downs and empty words

even when something seemed real

it would not be me, who it came for

maybe recognizing, I was not worthy

for I spent too much time pretending

not working hard enough in stark light of reality

for I was ever a coward, escaping the grunt of dull living

for the majesty of the fantastic.

On weekends going to clubs full of dreams

just to escape sordid living of emotional poverty

drugs can be snorted or made up, by concentrating

and lovers who did exist, could be magnified

it is said, you do not fall in love with a person

but with passion itself

and I was guilty of that

though always I wanted, to meet the one

and I still believe such things exist

though not for me

I was never a fantasy girl, despite living in the fantasy

and you were my fantasy

though I did not make you up

I may as well have

for you did not want me

I cannot now, recreate you in my mind

you are more than I could ever imagine

now the dream is soured

because I knew you in the real world

and for the first time

wanted to stay there with you

dancing beneath changing trees

for once, I threw everything of me, at making something come true

it only confirmed what I had always feared

it may be true, we do not live without effort

but to risk our hearts and realize we are not enough

doesn’t seem recoverable

it is no wonder

many of us I suspect, live inside ourselves

where we cannot be hurt, by what we want and do not

have

is that selfish?

was it greedy of me to believe?

we are not given these feelings for them to

simply wither

but here I am, so many years later

still dreaming, solitary, untouched by something real

growing it seems, with every year

a little colder and more removed

for nothing is as sad, as going through life unwanted

having to find succor in the promise of our dreams.

Coming Soon from Sudden Denouement Publishing- Pantheon by Eric Syrdal

THIS is a book I was delighted to review and I highly encourage everyone to buy a copy when it’s published it’s going to be dynamite! My full review of this novel should be out soon, well done to Sudden Denouement, for once more supporting and producing the highest quality and original work out there today!

Sudden Denouement Collective

“I won’t spoil the brilliant conclusion of this novel, suffice to say, if it is your desire to read something astoundingly original, from a writer who is not only a truly breathtaking author, deft with supernatural words and ideas, but a dreamer of worlds, who will blow any preconceived notions you have away and leave you shell shocked by the sheer power of his mind, then I cannot recommend Eric Syrdal and his novel Pantheon more highly. “I built this beach / and the stars / and the moon …. I turn back the wheels of heaven / and make time stop and rewind / over and over ….. Because I don’t know how to tell him / A machine had a wish.”

Candice Louisa Daquin, Pinch the Lock

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Stitch

nude-woman-in-river-monica-and-michael-sweetShe left

like a thread

pulled through muslin

her pillow smelt

of the push of hair in night

turned in bad dream and

from me for so long

I had

held on

the capsize of our ship

drowning us both

outstaying oxygen to

feel her return

how she used to

take my hand in dark

placing it where she felt

the most

there is a varnished gulf

a painted arroyo

starched land thirsting for renewal

lapsing between us

and it will not be with me

her eyes have lost their glitter

when she turned

it was with the flat gaze of someone

who had already

closed that chapter

bought her ticket

and was reaching for the next

like an arrow

driving its way into my chest

and out again

the feeling of quills and feathers

pulled free by strung force

a sound of cascading hurt

almost like the world sighed

in the room that was once ours

by the violet light of afternoon

where I lay watching her move

in green light, the weight of dew

like words without meaning

I tore myself to pieces

unable to let go

of the ache she left

in her shattering wake

as pulling stitches when healed

will always feel

like something whole

is breaking

Thin girl

couples-sleeping-1

The afternoon

like used rubber

lost in roll

one in pleasure

the other cold and full

beneath their day clothes

thrown off like wings

she looked nude like a thinner version of herself

lost in angles and jutting hip bones

a little skinnier than his wont

but you know what they say about skinny women?

you can put them on top of your pencil and rotate

sharpening to a point and using until blunt

her smell is on his fingers and in his hair

his mouth aches from kissing her between her legs

she’s showering with the door open

the tiny bones in her spine popping

as she leans into the heat

the steam fogging up frosted windows

he inhales her and his fifth cigarette

simultaneously

it is this

the indistinct

stillness of afterward

sought most of all

when his body is sate and slick with her dew

nothing, not anything, matters

she

will ask for him again with her eyes even after

she has washed him off

it’s the contradiction of

passion

to re-dress only to have them torn off

he traces with his little finger

a selfishness that tells the rest of the world

to go to hell

languidly replaying how

her thin body rose and fell above him

weightless

the sound of her pleasure

pressed against his neck

like vibrations from a train

speeding into station with

oiled momentum