Category Archives: This Isn’t Poetry

Trigger Warning

Standard

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.

Observations

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Observation

Standard

It’s  a little cold to be wearing this dress, but I don’t mind the chill. One leg is uncomfortably warm anyway, perched precariously close to the heater. I’m watching waves of goosebumps roll across the skin of my forearms. They tingle. I guess my body can’t figure out whether to cool down or warm up.

I’ve got half dreams and semi-stories lingering on the walls of my mind and I’m not sure what to do with them. I spend so much time sitting at this desk these days, and so little of that time is spent writing. It’s almost like the part of me that wanted to be an author buried itself somewhere in a dusty nook at the back of my mind, never to be seen again. I tell myself that it’s simply because I haven’t found my story yet. Something about being unable to tell a story I haven’t lived, but I know that’s nonsense. True for some, I suppose, but the stories used to pour from me. I hadn’t lived as much then. Why the silence now? Perhaps I’ve done too much living.

Perhaps my well has gone dry. Hopefully not quite as dry as Hemingway’s.

Most of the scenes playing themselves out behind my eyes aren’t new. They’re old tales, brief flickers of love and lust, fascination with other human beings. Sometimes they’re not even human, just beings, sentient creatures, human-like, human enough. Perhaps that’s where things went wrong. I lost that fascination. Now I’m just like everyone else: waiting for someone to come along, to sweep away the bitterness, to restore my faith in what humanity could be. To remind me what love could be.

I don’t think it will happen. I don’t think it ever does, to anyone.

Human enough.

Am I human enough?

Am I too human, perhaps?

Where has my imagination gone?

There’s silence in the other room. Intermittent. Interrupted by brief guitar. He’s good, I’ll give him that. He’s talented. Talented in a true sense of the word, an inborn trait, an innate ability to achieve in almost anything he puts his mind to. It’s an irony that he hates himself quite so much, not because he can’t see his brilliance, but because that’s what everyone else sees too. That’s all anyone sees.

I have that familiar creeping craving for physical contact, comfort of some kind, but I’m not sure if the asking is worth his indignation should he be disinclined. The answer will almost definitely be no and I feel that if he says no too often, I’ll somehow matter less and irritate him more.

Best not to, then, I think, and save the asking for another night when it’s not so much a want as a need.

I wonder if there was ever a time when curling up with me wasn’t tinged with obligation. I’m sure there must have been, I’ve had other lovers, lovers who actually loved me, but such is the nature of my brain that I can’t remember what has been and only what is. What is, right now, is a lot of time spent alone, and a little time spent with someone who would rather be alone.

Perhaps that’s why my desire to write has been so absent. I tend to write love and longing. Cravings for adventure, for the land, for the touch of someone new and sweet to the taste. I don’t feel that much myself anymore. I wonder if writing is a kind of pharmakon, a cure and a poison, depending on the dose. Am I unable to feel these things because I do not write them, or am I unable to write them because I do not feel them? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Outside the night is full and warm and buzzing with noise. It’s only a Tuesday night but the world is still so very much alive, and I still feel the pull to go wandering. It’s not safe alone, I know, but the current is still there, tugging at my heartstrings like fishing line. There’s so much inspiration to be found under the night sky. Is it fear or laziness that keeps me from it, I wonder? When did either gain enough power over me to determine my actions, to deter me from my adventures?

Spring crickets have begun their song, and I can still smell the fresh cut grass from earlier this morning. I don’t know what phase the moon is in, or if I can see the stars. They might be covered by clouds. I could get up right now and go look, just to know, but I don’t. My left leg itches with the heat of the heater. My right arm tingles with the cold. There’s silence in the other room. This is how it will be, until I go to bed.

I could change it. Will I, though?
I suppose that, there, is the question.

Emotional Landscapes

Standard
Sometimes I feel as though I am blinded by emotion. As though each feeling is a shaft of light, and I have the brightest torch shining directly at my eyes. I find my way through a world I can’t see, as I am seeing too much of it all at once- I let my hands guide me, I knock my shins and stub my toes and stumble at the edge of the stage. I reach out and I grasp on to others as though their movements through a world I cannot see will keep me from the pain and confusion I am experiencing. It doesn’t, naturally. Most of the time I just end up hurting them as well. I’ll either hold on to them too tightly, or pull them down with me when I fall.
I can’t see. That is, I can’t feel the world through my emotions. I feel altogether too much all at once. I can’t even tell what direction the ‘light’ is coming from, only that I am dazzled and overwhelmed. I could close my eyes and block out the light entirely, but then, that would just be another kind of blindness. It would be more comfortable but also dark, a self-imposed impairment to my senses. I am afraid of the dark. I fear it would leave me cold and helpless. I have been experimenting with closing my eyes but they have been open for so long now that doing so hurts just as much. I am not very good at feeling nothing. It’s a little too much like being nothing, and when you can imagine what the world looks like without you in it… things start to get dangerous.
People like me are landmines for those who can moderate their emotions. I understand why we are to be avoided. When every feeling is like an unexpected camera flash it gets tiresome quickly. You have to be ready to be a stumbling block and a makeshift ladder, simultaneously the thing that trips us up and keeps us from falling. I understand, I truly do.
What I am learning now, however, is that it’s not the effort people are afraid of. It’s the exposure. If we can’t see, we find our way through our other senses. We feel everything or nothing. When I am with someone, I have to learn their thoughts and feelings by touch. I can’t keep my distance, because otherwise you might as well not even be there. You are wiped out, just like the rest of the world. To be emotionally involved with me, you have to be as emotionally exposed as I am. Think of an encounter with someone where instead of just looking at you, they have to touch you to identify you. There is no personal space. You can’t maintain a respectable and respectful distance. If they are to see you, they have to touch you, and that is the way it is with me and those like me. We cannot see you, only feel you. We are contagious raw nerves, live wires, wild hands searching in the bright light or the unfathomable dark.
Who in their right minds could stand to be as exposed as we are? As I am?
Who could handle that kind of intimacy and honesty, when it’s so obvious to those who watch us flailing about in our blindness that we are obviously completely out of control?
I wish I could describe the relief that comes with having a piece of the world take shape when I’ve been stumbling blindly for so long. I wish I could describe what it’s like to feel the world through another person, to run my metaphorical hands over their emotional landscapes. How much trust and wonder and joy and fear there is in touching other human beings. What it’s like to have friends and loved ones who dance close and then away again, so all you experience of them are flickers and flutters and temporary brushes against your extended fingertips. That when you’re not directly connected to them, you can’t tell where they are or if they’re even there at all.
Not to mention finding someone else as blinded as you are, and the emotional overload that comes with two people trying to experience eachother all at once. From nothing to everything, or everything to nothing? It’s madness.
Those of us who don’t break our necks navigating the emotional wilderness learn to live in a world so full of sensory information that we lose our senses. We learn to survive. We learn how to guess where someone is in our world without touching them, even though we crave to know them. I am trying to learn. I’m trying to find that strange thing people call self-respect that to me just seems like loneliness. Maybe one day I’ll stand on my own and not have to grasp the arms of those near to me to be sure of who they are.
I have to admit, I don’t want to. I want to touch the minds and hearts of everyone I meet. I want to learn who they are, to feel them, to feel with them.
I hope one day someone will be brave enough to let me.
In the mean time, I’m trying to be okay being alone.

Prisoner

Standard

     Days passed, locked in that grand room. Liessa slept through much of it, waking only to eat or to bathe- a comfort she hadn’t realised how much she missed- or to ask the only servant for any information. The boy was small, quite young, with soft brown eyes and mousy blonde hair. The overall effect was a little disconcerting, giving him an intense, alien kind of appearance, although his expression always remained respectfully blank even in the face of Liessa’s interrogation. He would tell her nothing, politely informing her that any questions she had could be directed toward the lady of the house. She fluctuated between bribing and fury, at one point throwing a plate full of fresh vegetables and dried fish at the poor boy’s head. He hadn’t flinched, only ducked with practiced efficiency and then set about cleaning up the mess. His calmness was infuriating and frustration drove Liessa to tears. He came and went at the same times every day, regardless of her behaviour, though eventually he ceased to speak entirely.

     No one else visited the room. Guards came and went outside, the two posted at the door checking the lock whenever they changed shift. Liessa re-fractured her left shin attempting to kick it off its hinges and her short screams of pain brought no one to her aid. The guards ignored her. Her struggles were to no avail, and eventually she fell resigned to the bedroom, sleeping through the daylight hours and wasting away the night.

She had no idea what Zax-Sia did while she slept. Little had changed in the room when she woke, although the bath was often left full of chilly soapy water.

     Her healing was slow but steady, and though she ached the pain was rapidly easing, her scars fading to the faintest silver. When time moved slowly she would trace each of them, trying to remember where they all came from. Many of them she couldn’t, and she supposed they were from Jaraen’s attempts to interrogate Zax-Sia, and there were a couple on her arms from the battle for Aeskeir. The wound from her sacrifice remained open, though not gaping and foul-smelling as it had been during the early days. Every now and then she’d test how much pain she could take, reaching inside and exploring her own cool, wet organs.

     It occurred to her that perhaps this was not a thing that sane people did, but she didn’t particularly care, either. She was dead. Sanity had no place in the world of corpses.

     Time passed and eventually she lost count of the days. She noted interesting things that happened in the silence- once, something exploded nearby, and she watched smoke trailing around the city for what felt like hours. Someone was being chased. She heard the city guards yelling in the oddly mathematical languages of Shinkara.

Long silences.

Standard

The world is making me terribly sad this evening. So much pain. So much pain! Individual pain, pain of thousands, millions, everyone with their suffering on tiny scales (a single candle, oh my god) to enormous scales (Gaza, Iraq, you know the places) and all of it so deafening. It drowns out the whispers of those who rescue dogs and volunteer to be doctors in foreign countries and old ladies who smile at people on the street. All the good in the world is so gentle and quiet that sometimes I think, against this raging bloody darkness, we have no hope. No hope.
And then I curl up in bed, and wait for sleep, and wonder how long it’ll be until that darkness finds me.

Some Not-Poetry

Standard

Lying on the floor, preparing to push out another 500 words before I let my manuscript rest for the day, in my underwear

In the path of a very pleasant ocean breeze, and music playing

Listening to Liam draw and whistle at the workbench beside me…

 

I myself am tucked neatly under my writing desk, laptop propped against the foot rest,

Watching my toes dance, reflected in the screen while my face remains dark.

I harvested another tomato today. Would have been two, but the caterpillars beat me to one.

 

Ah well. Small victories. This is a good day.