Misc Poems, Usual Fare.

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Kisses like energy
Kisses like lightning between our lips
Kisses like they hold their soul in their mouths
And offer it with their tongue
To mine


How does a girl like me
Love a god like you?

With the empty foil packets
Remnants of my medication offered as
Proof of your blessings?

With the scars on my thighs,
Like a sacred brand these welts of
Flesh offered as incense?

With the dances in the dark,
Naked and writhing, sweating, rent,
Faces as contorted as your tragedy mask?

We, your blessed, feel your innateness
In the bars we inhabit too long,
The pills that we take,
The long nights spent staring at the moon
And thinking of the train-track choir.

Alcoholics and addicts, each
Trying to temper the wildness of you.
Maenads and satyrs, each
Wounded with love for you.

How does a girl like me
Love a god like you?
The only way she can.
She loves herself, regardless.


Dionysus, the god of the mask.
Dionysus, the god of the script.
Dionysus, the god of mood stabilisers and anti-psychotics.
Dionysus, the god of seedy nightclubs and 2 am taxis.
Dionysus, the god of the morning after.
Dionysus, the god of bruised knuckles and split lips.
Dionysus, the god of the blackout.
Dionysus, the god of the emergency room and suicide watch.
Dionysus, the god of ‘untreatable’ and ‘permanent’ and ‘chemical.’
Dionysus, the god of shock therapy.

Dionysus, the god of get the fuck up anyway.
Dionysus, the god of the first laugh in weeks.
Dionysus, the god of late night deep and meaningfuls.
Dionysus, the god of looking back, relieved.
Dionysus, the god of the love of living.
Dionysus, the god of 30 second dance parties.
Dionysus, the god of enduring vulnerability.
Dionysus, the god of Hi, my name is.
Dionysus, the god of recovery.
Dionysus, the god of “We love you anyway.”

Dionysus, the god of I am alive.
Dionysus, the god of I am alive.
Dionysus, the god of I am alive.


Bare breasted and veiled I am presented with yet another
Feminine Archetype
Robed in wilful fucking wisdom like
God Himself blessed her
With an approachable body
Capable of creating life.

Slow like bile on my teeth, stringent,
I contemplate why this like every other
Disappoints me somehow.
After all, isn’t it enlightenment
That this woman is so powerful
That she can be presented without precept?

That she is not covered,
Like the other Holy Women?

I am told of women in history.
They were erased, slowly.
“Men were terrified,
They were too powerful.
They could create life.”

Why is it always our bodies?
Virgin, mother, whore.

Is it any wonder that the worth of our existence
Is relational?

I am not your fucking chalice.


I am not your fucking Chalice.
My purpose is not to be filled,
I am not empty.

I am not receptive, I am not open
waiting for your seed,
I am a god in my own right.


You are
Heavenly bodies
Grand and slow-whirling
Witness
Beautiful gargantuan
With a slow, secret smile.


And you wonder
Where you came from
What parts of you
How hungry you are, which
Tongues you ate

The tower of Babel had nothing on you, love.


It was always an exchange.
She felt him heave slightly against her, his breath fast and sharp somehow half-caught in his chest. Her hands slowed in their exploration as he came, letting everything, the energy, the heat, the pressure, flow between their lips.
As far as one-sided sexcapades go, he was pretty good.
But it was still an exchange.
She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She’d ride his masturbation as though it were her own, helping when she could, kissing the light from his lips when the time came. She liked the taste of him. Every time they settled into the routine- food, flirting, fondling- she meant to pay attention, to catch it as it happened. But every time it slipped her notice.


She stretches, cat-like like the cliché, sun warm on her flesh, rolls like so much fresh bread. Ghosts of smiles on her lips and the pressures of imagined hands on her hips she breathes in life and exhales joy, sprawled here, splayed, happy. The world outside is a roar. The world inside is a roar, too, but she loves it, loves all of it, even if just for one day.


Alcohol and funerals go hand in hand. It’s almost like the act of brewing, fermenting, was perfected just for this purpose. It helps, it numbs, it warms, it loosens. It makes you forget.
But that’s the problem: it makes you forget. For a moment you’re yourself, or rather, not yourself. You are grieving, you are far away. Something else takes your place and laughs for you, cries for you, holds space for you.
And if you’re lucky, you come back, and you’re okay.
If you’re not lucky, you come back, and start all over again.

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Old Writing

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Some people write because it’s the only thing they enjoy. Some people write because it’s the only thing that can help them. Some people write because it’s just something to do on a Sunday night, when there’s nothing on television and they’re alone in the house in their underwear, wishing that someone would touch them. Some people write even when they feel they shouldn’t.

I’m sure the best books in history were written at the most inopportune moment.

Sitting alone in a small, patchwork house, in my underwear, I’m fighting off the demons of self-doubt and self-loathing. The house is cold. My bedroom window is open and carries the scent of a thunderstorm on a chill breeze. Down by the foot of my bed is an aging, gassy jack russel, creatively named Jack Pavarotti. My grandmother bought him when he was a puppy for ten dollars. “His name is Jack!” She’d proclaim proudly. “Jack Pavarotti, ’cause he cost me a tenor!”

And then she’d guffaw like it was the best joke in the world, and when I was little, it was. I’d guffaw right along with her.

Loneliness is not a feeling I am fond of. I would like to say that I’m one of those people who needs to be alone, who enjoys a private life, but it wouldn’t be true. I dislike being alone just as much as I dislike being around people. I think sometimes that it is better to be alone.

Perhaps not alone. Perhaps solitary is the better term.

Solitary but not alone.

Out in the bush, in the red dust, breathing in the clear air and sweating beneath the sun, I felt good, for once. Safe and comfortable. There were no eyes on me, no invisible enemies prepared to attack. I was only a child but the strangeness starts young and I had already exhibited traits. I feared everything, but in the desert there was little to fear: just the wildlife and the smell of heated clay. I remember the way my grandmother would stride down gravelled paths with dead rabbits clasped in her hands, at home in the bush. Though she was soft as marshmallows she would do what needed to be done, and told me in short gentle words of myxomatosis, of the terrible and inhumane, shaping cruelty into words a child can understand without trembling. The rabbits would then be buried somewhere far from where they had been found, far from any rabbit holes, and kept from the dogs. Kindness to animals and a love of stories was tantamount, she’d tell me. I’d be distracted by the smell of apple crumble pie and wouldn’t respond, but she preferred it that way. As a child I seemed more a wild animal than a human being and kept better company. As children we are not so confusing. We fend off the loneliness and do not comprehend the private. As a child I maintained her solitary world, as yet unknowing the problems that could arise, that would arise, as time went on. Her otherness was not as clear to me as it was to her own children.

She was strong in the world when she was solitary. She was never alone then.

Years later I’d come to see her at family gatherings and in crowded places and she would stumble about like a rabbit herself. I had grown into a young woman then and did not visit her as often as I felt I should have. I stood back, behind the scenes, and observed, deep in the clutches of my own difference, noting a similar difference in her but dismissing it in the same moment. She would watch conversations with glassy eyes and a furrowed brow, as if we were all speaking a language she had never quite grasped. She was always happy to see us but eternally confused and I both pitied and resented her, remembering the strong woman who read to me the tales of Strewwelpeter and gestured with the corpses of diseased rabbits. Here in a room full of family she was the most alone. She knew it, too. Maybe that was the worst of it.

She died not long after that.

At her funeral I felt I’d suddenly taken her place. We- my father, my two aunts, my sister, and I- stood at her grave and gave short, respectful speeches. I had no speech to give and when called upon found myself unable to move, to breathe, to look up from the absurdly peaceful ground in which she was supposed to be buried. She had opted for cremation, but the service called for a burial, if only of an empty coffin. The strangeness of it all raced repetitively through my mind, drowning out all else. I could hear the grinding of the earth as it turned on its orbit. I could hear the soundless keening of the long dead. Most of all, I could hear the silence as my family waited for me to step forward, to speak, to offer the words they knew I kept folded beneath my tongue.

Eventually they moved on without me and I realised I had adopted her curse.

After the burial people offered their condolences and gave me strange looks when I attempted to arrange my face into one appropriate for the situation. I did not understand why “I’m sorry” had become the new greeting for the day, or why these people I’d met all of once in my life chose to offer it at this moment. The few words that I stammered in response left them confused and wary and soon they would turn to my more sensible sibling. They were comforted when she thanked them and relieved them of their fickle grieving-burden. I avoided eye contact. She would only scold me for my rudeness.

I don’t mourn. I feel grief in multiplied immensity but I do not mourn.

I do not understand those in mourning and avoid them when I can.

Skip forward one month and I have my first real breakdown. I don’t know who I am and I feel nothing- not numb, not empty, just nothing. I convince myself that I am purely exoskeleton and feathers, that my insides are made of birds, and my birds compel me to stride out into a busy street. I don’t know why. At the time, I don’t care. I am caught before a bus by tough, fleshy hands and pulled roughly aside and I find myself relieved to feel rage towards my saviour. It is an overdue wake-up call. He does not realise what he has interrupted and instead is bent on continuing an argument I no longer care about, and shouts at me while I curl up and shiver outside an icecream store. A month later, he leaves me. We believe it is for the best. I find a new love in the blades of knives.

I return home and my grandmother’s ashes follow me there the next day.

This time I find my aloneness reassuring, comforting, a kind of soft and gentle place in which to recuperate. I do not consider myself solitary. Rather, I am always around people; at home my parents speak to me of a better life and teach me to cook. I feel pain and sorrow but I believe it healthy and take it like some kind of daily vitamin, a boost to the senses. I can cross a road without doubting my arrival to the other side and it feels to me a slight victory. When the house is empty I stand in the kitchen and watch my grandmother’s green urn-box, contemplating her awareness post-mortem. I do not leave my bedroom for days, and spend my time peeking between the blinds. The world continues to turn regardless of whether I am in it, and often unaware of my presence altogether. I watch families move in, move out, have parties, have children. It feels as if I have visited a zoo and they are an exhibit, strange creatures behaving in strange ways in strange fenced-off boxes.

I spend too much time like this. I paint. I think. I pace. I do not write.

My grandmother’s belonging populate the house. Her lamp finds it’s way to my bedside table and illuminates my workspace. I begin to write again.

Standing again in the desert heat but this time alone (alone, not solitary) half a year later I would think of her, and of that moment, and wonder what it is about us that sets us so far apart from the rest. There are words, of course, acronyms and medical terms to explain us away. This time I know I am mad but do not yet know the name for it: while hers was dementia and stroke, mine is more complex, more fragile. This time my neck is heavy with a camera and I shake with laughter, sneaking kisses from my partner while my sisters play on rocks. We share a secret, he and I, a secret loneliness, though his is different from mine. Together we are solitary, a pair, alone in the crowd. We stand apart. I feel crazed beneath a deep blue sky and he holds my hand and does not understand, but is patient. For the first time in my life ‘alone’ is not such a bad thing and when I mount him later that night in forty degree summer heat I feel neither alone nor solitary. Somehow, after the act, the stickiness and heat does not seem as pure as it had, the connection more tarnished, but we savour it anyway. Our kisses transform the old metals of sex into burnished gold. Everything is sacred during those first few months of love, and beguiled I open up to him. I tell him everything. Afterwards we ache and bemoan our sunburns and ask each other if how we felt in passion is how others feel in the crowd.

We doubt it. He suggests that everyone is alone. I believe him.

I ask him if I am crazy. He shrugs, and kisses me, and tells me he doesn’t think so.

I tell him I need help, and he agrees.

Later again, not long ago now, and I know my words, I know the description for my loneliness. My otherness takes on an acronym and a rough cloak of stigma. I am a girl, sitting on a bed, alone and tired and not altogether there. I keep the company of a jack russel named Jack Pavarotti who has a terrible issue with flatulence and sad old eyes that always seem guilty. I am well loved and well cared for and very rarely solitary these days but I am maddened, an other, apart from the rest.

I write at inopportune moments and of inappropriate things, and it brings me catharsis.

I wish my grandmother had been granted the same kindness.

A clunky unedited book review!

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Sacred Band, by Joseph D. Carriker jr.
 
Where to begin? I am emotionally compromised, that’s where.
 
My favourite thing about this novel is the characters. I’ve been thinking about how best to describe them, but then, describing people has never been my strong suit. I describe characters well enough, using the labels assigned to them: troubled, gentle, loving, queer, trans, motherly, a person of colour, powerful, traumatised.
I struggle with describing the powers at play in this book because they’re not characters. They’re people. They’re alive and delightfully complex, each one more than their assigned archetype, each one richly developed with backstories that are not laid bare and tossed in your face for easy consumption. They tell you as much as any person would, and in ways that people do: in action, in small talk, in expression and emotion. Their defining traits aren’t tossed and jumbled into a single paragraph early in the chapter. They’re complicated in the ways I am complicated, or you are, or the ways the people you love are. They’re messy. They grieve. They get scared. They can be irrational and clingy. They can project their insecurities onto others. They also love and feel in a very, very real way, and that is the core of what makes Sacred Band so brilliant. A superhero is a symbol, a representation of a concept, and it’s important that you understand the face beneath the mask before you can begin to grasp the hero. These people are heroes, and not because of the (overly tight) outfits.
 
My second favourite thing about this book is the sheer diversity of cast. Gender, sexuality, race, and background mix and merge to bring people from various walks of life- with respectful appreciation of the reality of their existence- into eachother’s company. Each has different strengths and different obstacles. Sometimes they chafe, sometimes they soothe. Difficult situations are dealt with in unexpected ways, and I’m not just talking about the fight scenes. A friend of mine uses the phrase ‘A balm to my soul’ and that’s exactly what this story has been for me. Familiar struggles (especially the queer kind) played out on these pages are mysteriously lacking in mass-produced media, and although that issue is slowly improving, the representation of queer culture in these pages is so much more satisfying to me than the token gay characters popping up in our standard superhero fare. Here queerness is written the way most of us experience it. It’s every day life. It has events that mark our history, and sometimes they can define our personal narrative, but for the most part it’s just part of who we are. For the characters in Sacred Band, it’s just part of who they are, but within that, they give voice and power to the inherent rage against inequality and oppression common in the queer community.
We’ve all heard about those who are not so lucky as to be born into a safe environment. Those who have been disowned, discarded, abused and tortured and even killed for who they are. The fact that the novel begins in Ukraine and mentions the unrest in Russia hits a nerve. The villains in Sacred Band are real. We’ve all felt their touch, one way or another. From those who fought hard in defence of DADT to those who beat frightened transfolk and post the videos to youtube, we know these villains. The pain and anger in Sacred Band is all too real.
This novel gifts us with the superheroes that Hollywood pretends could never be: the queer, the underfoot, the outcasts, doing what they always have. What we always have. Fighting for our own, for the lives of those like us.
 
When I first settled down to read, I had no idea how sorely I needed that.
So yeah, I’m emotionally compromised. Read the fucking book. It’s worth it.
 

Trigger Warning

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Hunched in the seat in the stains of all who came before to- sex crimes division, glass door, bullet proof, sharp black lettering on the wall behind, locked tight with a bell to ring that only rings if you press it for five, four, three, two, one–  look at the file, the tissue box, the bland bench, the white wall, the Duress Button, red and hemi-circle. Feeling oddly little, well, not oddly, you know this ritual, distance so that you don’t cry. The predictability of that feminine display of emotion is extra humiliation under his blue-eyed stare, blue-eyed like him, like- “You’re a girl, it’s what girls do” when you comment on how many messages you have to scroll through to find the evidence, thick, dripping, distant rage flares and dies and you don’t cry. You don’t say a word. You read the blue bubbles like clockwork for the fourth time, hand the phone over, already violated, privacy is nothing now that you gave them username and password and everything you ever said in the name of evidence, of proof, of please for fuck’s sake someone fucking believe me it was real it was real it was real it was-

He hands the phone back and you exit the screen, flip it closed, flip it open again, flip it closed, and open one more time before clenching it in your fists until they ache. Bite down hard on antipathy the way he bit your thighs before you knew when a chuckle precedes “I hope you’re not into any of that nasty stuff like the cutting, disgusting what we get in cybercrime,” conversational like his revulsion at your being isn’t something you can taste behind your teeth.

Recounting it takes the taste and slips it into narrative, this you know, this you do well. Absence again, watch his face carefully blank as he types what you say, intentionally getting details wrong for later, when he prints it, and you have to read and correct, like critical thought is something anyone can do. Her name doesn’t have an e. That’s the wrong date. Yes, he was naked. No, I slept on the couch. Yes, they knew I was there. No, I didn’t tell them.

He’s typed it all like it’s jealousy. They’re dating again. You try to correct him. They post photos, together on beaches, smiling like he didn’t do it and she didn’t know. He amends some sentences, but the story reads the same. He’s not sorry. You’re exhausted. You don’t try again.

“You have to understand” You have to understand, you do understand, you knew before you made the decision opened the door stepped through and spoke, “That most people on a jury will think like me, they’ll see this-”

Gesture at the file, the statement, flicking through earlier he let slip the photo of her, the closest one, who in one breath said It’s not your fault if he took the bait and in the next said well you brought it on yourself-

“- And they’ll think that you got what you were asking for, it’s what you were talking about after all.”

No it wasn’t no it wasn’t no it wasn’t what about this do you not fucking understand

Sharp smile, practiced, your voice is strained and you hate it. “Well I have to try anyway. Someone else might get hurt.”

He looks at you like you’re lying, and again you feel filthy, and somewhere far away the rage burns in a small glass bottle, growing dimmer.

You go home and have nightmares for the 14th night in a row.

Minotaur and Other #Dramatic Poems.

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I lay with your weight upon me and
All I could see was a hand that was not my own
Stroking your shoulders, dazedly, hazily
An echo of my own movements
And I could have screamed.

There’s a heaviness on me that now
(in your absence) feels fuller than you did
I’d push my fingers through the flesh above my breasts
And tear them from my body
But I cut my nails in preparation
For this just in case.

Hands in my mouth
Pushing from the inside out
A retching that never ends and chokes me
And stifles
And ruins
And mangles
And I heave

In my mind my body can be discarded
A heavy overcoat made sticky with wet and slow rot
I’d grasp my heart and wrench it
And fling it from my chest in one great gasp
And be free again of you.

A snarl rises now and I bare my teeth
Expressions of an animal shape
You savaged inside me
Where ‘girl’ and ‘good’ and ‘whole’
And other such words once
Shaped this creature I called me.

Cavities and wretchedness and rage
And hanging flesh describe now
The minotaur you made of me.


It always amused me
When they- you- never considered me dark enough.
I always wondered what enough could be-
Did it have to be blackness and exhaustion,
An obsession with the sucking absence of light?

I am a thing of flowers,
I love a queen of flowers,
And both of us in our petalled glory have the taste of
Death
On our lips.
In my body an aching inch of time,
A slow decay,
A steady treading from spring to summer,
Summer to autumn,
Autumn to inevitable winter.

I always felt your darkness to be stagnant.
What is the dark without the bright,
The life, the living,
The brilliant dazzle of energy you work so hard
To forget?

Beautiful Persephone,
Immortal and mortal in her own way,
Taught me darkness like language.
Every breath a word, progression,
Marking a step toward the finish line.

We are all the living dead.
Flowers plucked and wilting.
She in her mistold tales
Rose from her kidnapping to become queen of the underworld.
Bruised pomegranate in veritas:
Vanitas, memento mori;
She is both alive and not alive;
She is thriving life and enduring death.

And so am I.
And so am I.


 

It’s like memories
Slipping my hands across your chest
Up your throat
Pressing and feeling you let me

Arms pressed down against the sheets, scrunching maybe, but still
Resistance-less, I press, and watch
And release to see the parting of your lips
As you take a breath.

Memories that never happened,
They’re rich like the chocolates I never ate
Or maybe I did
I think that I did,
They were wet and foul and turned my stomach
But they were something
And I swallowed.

The touch of your tongue to your teeth
Is particularly endearing.
I fantasise often
About the trust it would take to let me hurt you.

It has always been about trust.

Always memories that never happened-
Backward and forward in time.

There is discomfort in this confession.
It’s not pleasure. It’s not sex.
Understand that this format is never poetry,
Understand that these forms are timed
Linked to
Tied up within
My hesitations,
Each new line a caught breath,
An ache in my throat,
Waiting for fear to crest and ease
Or for my stomach to stop turning.

In my mimicry of you,
It’s your tears that pique my interest like
No one else’s.
In my mirrors and reflections I can see
This is not what you want.

But this is in you, too.

Observations

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You asked me to write you.

You asked me to write you and yet

And yet and yet

Here I am writing but it’s not what you’d like-

Not what you asked for, I suppose, not what you can use-

But that there are blue veins beneath your skin

Blue eyes to match

Blue lips- cyanotic- too long apnoeic

You play the role of the dead too well.

 

I wrote once of a girl who explored her insides

She was dead too, you know,

Preserved but cold; slippery and wet, still,

But yes, very dead.

For her traumatic, for me erotic,

Rather like you, like you,

You drive me to lick my lips

But I don’t know why.

 

I see, I see,

When I close my eyes I see

The imprint of your skeleton against that void

Not empty, but vast, vast, so vast

That any glimmer of anything else gets lost

Minutiae before- within- the face of god.

Camouflaged your heart

I can’t see it, but I’ve a fist that fits

Within your chest to feel it.

 

I’d suck the sun from your lips I’ve written

As good as saying it

Almost as good as feeling it,

But you, an autopsy scar,

I don’t know if I want to tend you or rend you.

You want to break open as badly as I do.

It’s almost like you invite it.

 

It’s not sex, understand,

It’s far more guttural than that.

 


Sit back and wonder
And wonder, and wonder
If the heaviness in my hands as I bring them to the keys is simply
A lack of practice or an absence of feeling.

I’m tapping an invisible pen against the back of my teeth,
The distant knocking of words that yearn to be written
But they’re invisible to me
I feel them
I feel them

Stilted and jilted a love song I can’t quite provoke
Words of regurgitation,
Of abstinence, of the guttural and distant
Nothing here comes smooth
No trance to suck it from my gut
No passion, no inspiration.

Every word a tired, dull thud upon the page.

If you have to push for it,
It’s not worth it, right?

Give me my words.

I will wrench them from the universe if I have to.
I will write trash. I will write paragraphs, solitary paragraphs, with no end and no beginning.
How dare I be given the need but not the substance.

Here with no stories.
Fierce passions lost to the ether,
Nothing new to explore,
A burning I smother by spreading my legs and opening my mouth,
Loud and proud and still

Silent in the only way it matters.


Angel.
I would call you angel, if he hadn’t
Hadn’t been the first, I mean.

Initially an antithesis, you,
Chin dropped, brows heavy, an unconscious manoeuvring
Of limb

You seem nothing of an angel.

But if they were wings you hefted upon your back,
Instead of the weight of your world,
You could be Michael or Lucifer
Or Uriel lamenting, your sword in flames.

You think fire does not become you.

Cloying smoke and burning ash
Seem dark enough to me.

 

Red Dust Lover

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I wrote this in response to this beautiful post by @inkskinned.
It started off as a comparison between ‘seasons’ for the rest of the world and the Australian seasons. It ended up becoming a sort of therapeutic self-love thing. My healthy self writing about my sick self. Shh.


When they say their lovers are like the seasons, it takes me a moment to remember that their seasons are not like mine. I’ve never thought of her as being like the seasons- but then, I have, I have, I’ve thought it to myself on quiet nights when I watch her sleep, her expressive face stilled, body sanguine, naked, uncovered. Sweat-slick at 3 am we do not touch, the overhead fan creaking with exertion. Our seasons are not divided into quarters. There is no clear winter in her, no autumn, no falling golden leaves.

My love, she’s red dust and blooming acacia. She’s a wide sandy grin on the coast at sunset, in September, when it’s warm enough to swim but not hot enough to coax the cicadas into song. Her laughter is the creaking of the gum trees, and her kisses, her whispers, are the susurrus rippling through their leaves. She is soft and precious, like the orchids we find on our evening walks.

By November there’s a cloying stickiness to her love. She grasps for my hands despite the humidity and overhead the clouds rumble. It’s hard enough to breathe and like the flies she clings to me and I slick her from my skin- I love her, yes, I love her, please, enough, enough already, enough!
The sky flashes and over the crashing waves I hear her thunder, a crack in the depths of her that shakes the windows of my soul. Unbeknownst to me, lightning far away strikes bright the first bushfire of the season.

As quickly as they came, the storms pass, seemingly overnight. Left in their wake is a dryness that yellows grass and leaves me rasping in her presence. Her eyes are hard. Her voice is something crueller than cold. At least cold is wet, at least ice will soothe the parched lips of the lonely and the lost. I seek her but I am blinded by the brilliant light of her; I reach for her and find only vapour. She is a mirage, far from me, beautiful and devastating. The crispness of her conversation pricks me. Her barbs hook and catch and carry with me through the days.
We fall to silence. It’s too hot, too dry, for me to speak.

She burns.
We are taught in summer to clear a boundary around all we hold dear. We strip the land of life, we soak it with water, we plan our escape. We burn in advance. We pray that this year we will be passed over for the inevitable destruction. I follow the guidelines as closely as I can, careful to maintain control as I lay my boundaries before her. The silence is stifling. Across my lonely distance I watch her tremble in the sunlight.
When finally she does erupt, the flames are devastating. She is summer in full swing: the fire in her obliterates all it touches, and spreads, and devours. She rages without cease. Charred scars remain wherever she sweeps, smoke billowing on the horizon, and when her gaze settles on me I am already choking long before I feel the searing pain.

When January comes, and it does quite suddenly, I find her smouldering in the remains of all we built together. Her face is streaked with ashes. She is dripping, almost extinguished, no longer considered a threat now that there is nothing left for her to burn. She looks about herself like a child. She doesn’t know why she razed so much. She doesn’t even know what sparked the onslaught. All she knows is that it began, and raged, and ended.

More fires spark, here and there, as the months cool, but none of them with anything of the devastation of her summer fury. We sift through the remains of last year’s world, listing the names of those lost, salvaging memories. We lift water to eachother’s lips as the cleansing rains sweep in again. The Doctor, that ocean breeze named for the relief it brings, cools our skin. I hold her as she trembles through the shock of cold nights. I braid white wildflowers in her hair with each new day.
Those who survived the bushfires return. They survey the damage just as we did and a few of them leave, finding little worth saving. Those who do remain, however, band together. They help us rebuild.
In March, when the heat finally breaks, she sobs an apology.
They chuckle gently and murmur, “This is part of loving you.”

You don’t live in Australia and expect safety. You take the suffocating heat and deadly summers with the balmy days and sweet blue beaches. I love her even though she is like the seasons because when April and May roll around, bursts of hardy green break the scorched earth. Seeds released in the flames- seeds that are only released in the flames- sprout and bring new life to the ragged landscape. Our autumn and winter are not seasons of death and stillness. They are rich with new life. They are the salve to the aching wounds of our summers. They are resilient beauty, thriving in the chaos.

And there is nothing more beautiful than my red dust lover after the burn.

My love is not aesthetically pleasing.

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I offer only gristle
Because in bleeding there was nothing.
There were no flowers in our lungs,
No sweet green tendrils twining our lips and tracheal cartilages;
My anatomy is not so illustrated
Ill-defined and wet,
A mess of acrylic red and kidney maroon.

And my tendons twanging, twinging,
Stretched taught against yellowing bone-
I am not clean and sun-bleached.

I wrote a poem once of lovers in the kitchen,
Dusted with flour, a delicacy.
In this body a slab of meat, calf muscle and tender heart,
But fat and connective tissue also;
The less palatable with the rich and bloody.

If there is art in my physiology I struggle to find it.
There is no melody in my movement,
No marble to my flesh,
No recycled literature to be splashed with paint
In depictions of my ribcage as a vase.
Rough-hewn I am rickety
And stagger in the dance.

Even with flour and a sprig of rosemary
There is little craft in the making of me.

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11 pm and mulling warm tea, contemplating my perversions – garden variety, darker and richer perhaps than some would be comfortable with but nothing overly problematic- and a hollow-eyed Dionysus comes to me, rising like a marble statue from a black fog. Around his head are living ivy wreathes, straining, dancing as though for the sun. His lips are curled in a grimace stolen from the countenance of Adam, his brow heavy bit still beautiful, his cheeks stone white but growing ruddier the longer I gaze upon him. It’s as though he’s the metaphorical to my thoroughly literal. I am sore from my dancing, and aggressively ignoring as usual my fears of abandonment- he did not come, not when I painted myself red with crushed berries, not when I swallowed the wine, not in the hours I flung myself rhythmically to madness–

But that was the problem, wasn’t it, it wasn’t madness. I could never leave the confines of my thoughts. Locked in my head I may as well have been dancing alone.

But here I feel him, swaying, aching as I ache but differently. The hangover in more ways than one, the greenish tinge to Caravaggio’s Bacchus, a hint of the slouch in Rodin’s bronze, the hands to big, the face too pained. Marble and flesh, this half-born, thrice-born god-man-child. His festivities, his beauty, his rage, but so rarely we see the shuddering breath that comes after. The fall beyond the crescendo. He’s there too. There’s madness in grief as much as there is in ecstasy. I wonder now if we confuse the Dionysian with the Apollonian in our manic golden age. No more the maenads alone: He rides the world. In every city his festival roars to life with the sleep of the sun, on every crackling screen his ithyphallic countenance groans and moans and rolls, rushing, languid, spent.

Alive – The Glut

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I like living, I really do. I’m hopeful. I hope the world learns from history and things are actually getting better and we just can’t see it yet.
I’m hopeful for a future where things are different and good and that humanity is evolving toward a better, kinder existence. I don’t actually believe so, but I hope so, and that’s close enough.

Today is a nice day, it’s sunny and clear and I’m talking to a beautiful woman across the other side of the world who tells me she loves me and has such a big heart and is excited about going to dinner with another beautiful woman

And there are colourful yarns and I’m listening to music, music that is so bountiful I could listen to a new song every three minutes and never ever have to repeat one

And I am healthy, and relatively young, and I have touched and been touched by some of the most brilliant minds ever to be totally unappreciated by the world, and there is art, centuries of art, cataloguing all that the human race has ever done

There is architecture and philosophy and poetry and cooking tv shows and Gordon fucking Ramsay and christmas carols which I hate except for when I don’t and people crying at airports and orgasms and news anchors who burst into tears on live television because they saw a picture of a dusty young boy pulled from the wreckage of his home and

metal rulers and movies about slavery that make me cry at 2 in the morning and memes and stupid articles about Apple headphone jacks and beach breezes and a Cute Pancake Girl who may stay or go but right now she kisses me

And family, blood and found and chosen, and pretzel sticks, and drinking water from rivers and bacteria and very pretty rocks and very plain rocks and wine bottles being recycled into glass walls for glass houses and cruel politicians and the goddamn KKK and whirling planets and songs about Voids and boys with body issues and girls who write porn

And dalmatians and pallas cats and wine and anthrax and
This world is a glut, my loves.

None of it matters, and all of it matters. Everything hurts and there is joy all around. We’re all going to die someday. The whole human race will die someday and all of this? Everything? This is all history that we’ll leave behind, and whether we’re alone in the universe or if there’s some kind of life out there, these abstract passing functions of our existence will outlast us.
Is there a word for being simultaneously hopeless and hopeful?

This is what we are. Neither good, nor bad, just… Alive.
For a brief moment. Alive.