Sunday, October 18, 2020

Nature of lies

He tells you to strip.  Or maybe he asks.  The distinction, while important to you, is not to him.  His delivery of the word allows it to be either and most certainly permits him to believe it was a request when he retells the story for his most wrapt audience.

And so you strip.  Not particularly slowly or even carefully, this is not a striptease - this is a revealing, an unveiling. Seven layers down, clothes off, what will meet your skin? Not the warmth you expect.

Scrutiny, assessment, evaluation, appraisal. 

You can only stop what starts in you.

You learned this once, on a platform in a train station.  You felt the fish hook perforating your gut and with calm precision, you unhooked it, held it up to the light and let it go. Such a simple task and yet so difficult, it took years to get to that train station.

This is no fishhook, it is a web of lies, grooves on tracing paper from so many reproductions. His signature on it, amongst so many others, surprises you. He would not like to know it’s there. 

This natural thing, used unnaturally. You remind yourself it is wood pulp and charcoal, this web, these lies.  They willingly yield to the flames you light to burn them. 


Thursday, October 15, 2020

The only thing we know

A pointed look that groped and grabbed, despite, or maybe even because of the crowd around the playing field.  Home field advantage and this is not your home.  This is a math class.  Do you remember that day? The day when that math teacher, or was he a wrestling coach, taught the whole class that you were the sum of your parts. He was the math teacher, how could we question a formula he taught us?

Decades later, when the sum of your parts has been altered, all the accounts of the past have to be recounted, ledgers balanced, coupons redeemed. 

Mull this over.  With tea maybe,  probably an oolong because this is a time to recognize the subtle gifts of oxidation and fermentation.  Of exposing things to air and waiting.  Of letting things go off a little bit. 

Air is your element now, with a flick of your wrist the axis shifts again, linear time becoming vertical, just long enough for the scales of justice to balance out.  You leave that class again, but this time the mistress of a different kind of math.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

My new lover

A coffeeshop artist, you have found so many creative ways to state and restate your suffering as art, your victimization breathtaking nudes of you on the walls and everything done to you as living theater, played out again and again, encore performances for rapt audiences.  A subtle shift, but not really, in the music they play here has made you rethink the basis of your performance art.  You’ve seen others spin softer tales to match the times, think maybe you should.

This is not that.

This is scrubbing through the plaque on the arteries of what beats beneath all of that art.  

A different kind of detective you’ll be, no longer looking for art in the stories, but rather sleuthing for beauty and meaning in the blackest sky of the darkest night of the deepest descent.  Not to deny the night sky.  There is no pretending a descent is anything other than what it is.  Not to sprinkle artificial sweetener on poison.  Nor even to create homeopathic doses of it to trigger immune responses.  

This is not that either.

This is a wild dance with darkness.  Facing, an embrace.  You feel his grip on your nape, his lips on your neck, his other hand on your hip, leading this dance.  You’ll still bleed, it’s still a dance with darkness.  But this embrace, this wicked dance, it is where the honey comes from. Just enough to staunch the bleeding and save your life. 

Dangerous lover, barely a lover at all.  But a lover nonetheless.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Redemption

The whole point of tapestry is to capture the story, weaving in colors of time and context.  To be hung on a wall, maybe inside a museum, seen by many.  If the sources of light are managed, the colors can last for thousands of years, preserving the tales it tells. 

A lifelong patron of the arts, you’ve made unique contributions.  As you sit on the floor unraveling a priceless piece of art, you’re forced to reconsider that particular commitment to the arts. Security guards run in, you nearly get tasered. They settle for a fine, but it’s a hefty one. 

Best purchase you’ve made in a long time, maybe ever. 

As the tapestry unraveled in your hands, the past was not undone, the events remain as they ever were.  But the tales told now, the colors used here, they are colors that didn’t exist then.  They are the deep shades, gem colors of mercy, witnessing, and compassion. Not the blind kind.  The seeing kind.  

The hand that once covered your mouth so you could not scream, the other that choked you so you could not breathe, the knife held to your gut to keep you compliant and in place, the ropes that tied your hands and feet so you could not fight back or run.  They are all reunited with the other side of their coin.  

The rivers of blood and truth run together and you dance on its banks.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Hell and high water

Engineering runs in that family, usually the more well known kind, their lives filled with structures they’ve designed and built.  Civil, but not really, the father built dams and locks, worked on rivers his whole life.  No mistake there, a man of water himself, he never concerned himself with what holds the rivers in, but rather trying to control and manipulate their power, flow, and force.  

At the mercy on the inside, we work on the outside. 

One generation down, another one, a linguist this time. Analyzing the slippery intent mapped into structure, sound, and meaning. Decomposing, composing.  Years spent reading the braille of depth, feeling and energy in clumsy stick figures.  Feeling the lies and making an artful science out of studying them.

Another generation down, the structure of connection and connectivity.  The central column he’s named science for now is a quest to identify, create, and modify links.  He feels too much, holds too many so he’ll spend his life understanding how they work, trying to make them work for him. 

In the space where time is vertical,  these three live at once, their lives spent running from water, while calling it something else. 

In traditional time, one Sunday this month, one door closed. No more dams, no more locks. Just a river and its banks.  Free.

One day soon, the quest to understand the lies, make them somehow true, make their utterance somehow acceptable, will end. Another kind of freedom.

Someday maybe the scientist of links will uncover what he doesn’t want to know.  He was always free. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

And so we dance

Smooth, refined. Hands that don’t exactly match the whole, you’ve contemplated them many times. Now you know why. They are hands you know.

What are hands if not extensions of the heart, worldly instruments for the otherworldly? Those hands have reached out to you thousands of times. 

As they brush past you this time around, you wonder at the music playing in the background.  Its tone is deep, saturated with something strong and ancient.  A song that was composed forever ago and that is textured and layered each time it plays for us. Another unclosed loop, we hear it and in response, our pulses, our blood reach out to it, caress it, leave traces. The moment of its creation and our listening forever on a vertical axis existing all at once and weaving us into the music itself. It does not end.

Thick and heavy, nostalgia and regret were the first couple to make it onto the dance floor this time. Why exactly have you invited them to this life?  Their haze is thick, we can barely see each other.

But there it is, as it has always been, home and belonging in the scent of smoke and earth that is you. 

Heart and lungs full, yes. But we know life is in the exhale, not the inhale.  Would you hold your breath if you thought it were your last?

Sunday, September 20, 2020

XVI

Dressed in your Sunday best, you’re surprised to feel snowflakes landing on your bare skin, it’s not the season for this.  Friends have taken pictures of you and one of them didn’t frame it so well, or maybe framed it exceedingly well.  You’re standing inside a snow globe.  A whole life along with you.

And what a pretty snow globe it is, red base, decorated for the holidays, just waiting for someone to walk by and shake things up comment on how pretty it is.

You hear notes of a Peter Gabriel song on your breath and feel the weight of the tool in your hand.  You almost said weapon, but no, it’s just a tool. You feel more than see the globe shatter, hopefully no harm done to the contents, just the container.  

Seven rounds of this, cycling in, below the bottom of the ocean floor where everything that lives has no name.  Each time, a pulse that becomes the sound of hands clapping together, inciting, supporting, calling to action.  The tower falls again and again, by your own hand, and from the outside of your inside.

Given the fact that you chose tool and not weapon, we’ll call this one a breakdown to break through.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I feel you

First and last breath here.

Less entertaining than a hamster wheel, this is more like a wagon wheel, wooden spokes crafted with care to withstand time and distance.  Your limbs are entwined within the pattern of spokes, immobilized by entanglement and stiffness. One Russian nesting doll out, you can see the veins on your arms as they grip the spokes, see the wood scrape and bruise the skin of your thighs.  Another doll out, you can see your own horrified and helpless observing. Seven layers out now.  Anger, grief, sadness, hopelessness, acceptance, surrender.

Tears and blood, which washes and which carries away?  Tears as you find a sacred place on the wall for the sword you’ve always carried, sadness and joy at once. Blood as you turn it on yourself one last time to slice off the ribbons holding you and get a bit cut up in the process.

This story will only exist in the old war room now.  You’ll paint a sigil on the wall, purple. You’ve finger painted purple before, deep mixes of blood and truth. You’ll cover it with the shellac of tears and honey.

Why honey?

Honey is what you’ve found in every wound where you thought there could only be blood.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Forest walk with me

Permission slip signed, you packed lunch for this field trip, this walk in the forest. You imagine it will be like the time when you walked along a rushing river and slid down a slippery bank, saved by the root of a nearby tree.  Lovely sights, small adventure, memories scented with sweet flower water. 

This is not like that.

First of all, you’re alone and you weren’t supposed to be. Darkness heaves and in such darkness, it is impossible to see where anything begins or ends. Your hands gently touch each other even as they are touched by everything here.  Do you know where you end?

Soft pine needles cushion and call. Come to me. Crawl. You follow the hunger of your hips, heed the snake sliding up your spine.

Breath in, ribs open.  Fragrant nectar drips from within, beckoned forth by a pulse that is not your own.  Womb, belly, and heart bleeding out onto the forest floor. Offering. Becoming.

A lioness called you to a cave once, swiped at your hand to get you closer to the ground. While this is not her natural habitat, you feel her again in this darkness, calling you back.  

Friday, July 17, 2020

More than the artist

Unclothed, not really nude though, seated, spread, reclining, contorted, or stretched.  You’ve participated in art before.  Rooms full of people, seeing you but not seeing you, as it should be. You’ve seen what goes into their creations. You’ve seen them create.  You’ve felt their tight hold on your throat, fist punching through a canvas to strike you, grip you.

This is not like that.

You hear the wave before you see it, big, the kind that would be fun to run from if you were dressed for it. A chorus, which is weird because you’re here to see a soloist.  Silence, no sound at all, which is also weird because this is one place that cannot be silent.  Stillness, air captured and held for just a moment.  You think everything is suspended but maybe it’s just you.  The coin has been flipped and is neither heads nor tails, you’re in the slice between them both.  Or you are both heads and tails at once.

This art isn’t finished, won’t ever be finished.  This artist left the paint and brushes out for others. Forty pairs of hands reach out and bruise you without doing any harm.

Days later, but only moments, the tickle of soft grass on the back of your legs, ashes swirling at a pace too slow for your eyes to perceive.  Legs folded, your thighs seek the caress of another and do not find it. Untouched, solitary, but not alone.

Ribbons, always ribbons, this time black and smooth and silky.  Deep below, they rise to meet you. Riding the wave of what pulses inside of you - blood, lymph, life - they whisper up, like fingers walking, to a path you do not know.  

Vessel.  Only the memory of silk remains. 


Friday, May 15, 2020

I will know you

Ever the prey, capture is a different kind of death you learn.  

Shame, panic, terror.  Crimson drops of blood make art on the ground, your blood, but the art is co-signed. 

Gone in a breath, carried away in the ash remaining after the light has stopped shining through a window you swear this cell didn’t have before.  Pull up, legs through, you’re free, or at least out.  You don’t run though, they would expect that.  You stop without freezing, just a pause.  You gather your ribbons and stones and allow the path to be revealed.  Bloodshed is never for nothing. 

Eyes closed in reverence now, your footsteps sink into the earth hallowed by your sacrifice, your blood, the pulse it carried seeps deep.  Beats in time with the dark beneath it all. 

Your fingertips reach of their own volition to the ground and swirl the new color that has been made here.  It looks like burgundy but not quite.  Red and brown, yes, but also the black of shadows.  It will need a new name. 

Finger painting down your body, it seeps back in, yours but different.  Pulse of your life, infinite depths of earth, darkest shadows from your time below.  You are safe to be wild.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Be here

Less air than needed, constricted breath from that gentle squeeze, soft pressure that grips your neck.  Your body goes to the panic it knows well, that hand has been around your throat longer than your memories.  Palms scrape against the wet stone, your back body intimate with the porous grooves that do not yield.  What kind of predator plays with its prey?  It would be helpful to know what you’re up against.  While your days have always been numbered, your life is not in danger here.

Infinite darkness, breathtaking in its expanse and confidence.  As if you had the breath to spare.  When you asked to walk the labyrinth, to be shown, this is not what you meant.  This descent has teeth.

Full gasping breath.  You’re awake now.  When did the hand at your throat become your own?

You look at the darkness again and see it is within, not without.  You feel its pulse and see that it is just the sky of night.  Surrender to me, it whispers to you.  Let me be you lover, surrender and let me take you where you could not go alone.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Angles morts

Four directions, four elements.  Four ways, you discover, that you’ve been hiding from yourself.  Blind spots are dead angles in French.  Where have you been dead?

To the East, where a field of red flowers should grow to brighten and enliven, there is only barren earth.  Nothing can be felt here.

To the South, where lightening should strike and restore balance, numbing grey mist has covered the land.  Nothing can be known here.

To the West, where rivers should meet lakes, a dam has been built.  Nothing can connect here.

To the North, where a circle of stones should mark territory, there is only gravel scattered by careless visitors.  Nothing can be held here.

At the center of it all, you seek the source.  The deep well holding the secrets hiding in those four corners.  Instead you find a river, wild and strong, currents that can only be felt not seen, the water looks safe from the banks.  You follow it upstream, a long walk.

You find its source seven generations’ away from where you stand now.  A treacherous climb to the top of a mountain both beautiful and brutal.   As you return, you follow its path to you.

You are the end.  You are the cliff over which the river will fall and cease to be a river at all.    

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Innocence

Ribs up, breath held for years at a time. Brief exhales with lightening bugs on summer nights. Forever believing, I am always only what you see.

None of us saw the viper lying in wait.  Lulled into thoughts of safety by the stillness of boats and steadiness of the ground painted on the picture above the coach.

Do you know who I am?

Tidal wave, volcano, whirlpool, tornado, hailstorm.

Thick drops fall from fingertips, you think it’s blood.  It sizzles and burns, no veins have been opened, you see it is lava.  Structures shift, fractured, and the lava follows its trail to you.

Grey and fragile ghosts, only ashes remain of you.

Soft mist, caressing breeze, delicate snowfall.

I am no longer what you saw, I am everything you could not.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Wanderer

Brief, tiny memories - the kind that prove that the space between moments is infinitely divisible. Because those were all that remained, it was easy to believe you were both more and less than you actually were.  Larger than life, certainly stronger, and still too smooth to be real.  Like one of the stones you collected and polished.  Ridges and indentations show how and where something has been and you had neither, just like those stones.  A ghost of something once real, maybe.

Grief and heartache and wounds without names create folklore out of failures, misfires, and accidents.

What if you were just passing through?

Your walk was brisk, you had places to go.  Your hunt is never over - there is always something to kill, you just have to know the seasons and you know them very well.  The remains of a crisp, tart apple in your hand, you turned to the west and tossed the core.  You saw blazing reds and oranges paint a fire in the sky as the core hit the rich dirt - it was a sunset, time and direction told you that.  You continued on your way, you had places to go.   The colors stayed.  Their heat bled into the earth as they faded. You didn’t think about the apple core or what happened to it.  Why would you?  Your boot prints in the ground might have led to responsibility and accountability but you knew to walk the land just before the rain.  You knew how to become a ghost even then.

What if you were never meant to stay because you never did?

The apple tree that grew out of that place does not remember you, just the memory of a wish.  Stories abound of how it came to be there, none of them true.  They are all more and less grand than is real, like your ghost.
  

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Wholeness

Called forth by a voice that has not been silenced, just shushed.  Scratchy wool rubbing up against silky skin begins to feel like wires.  They dig in.

Unfurling and unraveling, crimson ribbons glide out of blackened depths.  Swampy and murky, a long hidden cesspool with a life of its own.  Creatures in your domain but not yours.  Why are you not afraid?

Fingertips gone, talons sharp as steel blades in their place, they speak in deadly swirls.  Gentle waves of hair slither as venomous snakes.  Those crimson ribbons now drip with blood at the end of a beautifully lethal whip.  You know it will whistle when it is yielded.

You are not only this.  But you are this.

Can you feel the blood those talons could draw, the life that could be shredded, eviscerated? Can you see the fear inspired here?  Silence reigns but it is no longer yours.  

Safety.  Freedom.  Winds whisper to you, teasing you with tales of things you thought you would never have.  Protection.  Power.

Holding and hiding up until now, the stars and soil are now too bright and too rich to be ignored.  The heavens sparkle as jewels in the black earth at your feet.  The forest tells you to fly and fall, not to choose.

Enjoy the silence that is not yours.  As nails and hair return, they are marked.  You are marked.  Your nails are blood red.  Crimson ribbons weave through your hair.  You are always and never only this.  

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Who are you Woman?

A large silver mirror, simple and stark, holds the reflection of a woman reflecting. Reflecting on how she began - petite and curious, heart open and pure, here for reasons that had little to do with her. On how she continued - steadfastly but painfully.  Brave and courageous perhaps but with hollow gains and no peace. Grinding her teeth while being pleasing and pleasant.  Being a nice girl, saying yes when yes was rarely want she wanted.  Always prey and never safe. 

Will you continue be that woman you were raised to be?  Can you remain a taller and older version of the girl, quiet desperation clawing at you from the inside, a hungry ghost haunted by insatiable cravings for approval, love, and validation that never arrive, never fill?  Not a woman, just a girl living on an endless loop dressed up like an adult.  But grown up enough, lived through enough to now be living with the deep knowing that any pursuit from this place leads to heartache and more emptiness.  This castle will never be safe.  Its walls are damp and dank with the violence and terror of decades past.  

And yet she is not any less you nor any less valuable for all that she has been.  She is simply no longer what you can be.  Literally.  Most of the pieces that made her what she is no longer exist, except in memory. And those that do remain no longer serve.  Can you honor her and allow her passing?  Can you let the smoke and sparks of what burns away in the funeral pyre leave a celestial body, a constellation of all that she was for you to see in any night sky, even in the underworld where the blackest sky is only a memory you hope to see again?  Give her constellation a name that is pure and strong and remember her as such.

Outside the castle now, dense forest calls.  What woman will you be?  What kind of woman can live in the wild?  A woman whose voice sings true, from sweet songs of devotion to rallying battle cries.  A woman whose sword is weighty with the justness and discernment that reside in its blade.  A woman with a deep and wild river that runs forever inside her, serene or churning, but always alive and moving.  A woman whose fire burns for herself first and foremost, light and heat landing only upon the worthy and often only within.  A woman whose strength and sovereignty gift her with the possibility of sweet, aching vulnerability and endless support she does not have to source herself.  

Silver mirror left in the castle, the reflection holds, even in the darkest forest.  She sees herself in the eyes of the wild creatures come to bear witness to what has been and what will be.  In their solemn eyes, she sees the darkness holding her from below and the light illuminating her from above.  Suspended and grounded between stars and soil, crown, sword and wings her birthright.  Whole unto herself.  That is the woman you will be. 

Go into the forest tonight.  Burn what must go and let it be nourishment for the soil, bless its season and harvest and then rest.  Gather your gifts, unknown until now.  Leave the forest the woman you were meant to be. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The knowing of darkness

No stars in this night sky, the moon forever dark.  Tides run on their own as does my blood.

You’ve pulled me close.

Fight rises in me, fire and white hot rage. I struggle, push, squirm, but I am no match for your strength.  I have never been more ineffectual.  Powerless.  My fire sears only me.

Surrender then.  On the other side of freeze, collapse.  Blood returns to my center and pools there, extremities are no longer needed.  Not here.

Aware but not awake, I feel warm sweet lips brush across mine.  You’ve pulled me close.  To embrace me, not kill me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The end of opposites

Shimmering and sinuous, wrapping up around your spine, a snake you do not fear - the only one you do not fear.

And speaking of fear, how is it that you have always been the hunted, never the hunter?

But back to that snake, what is she doing here?  She calls for parts of you to be danced, now.  How odd to be dancing when the music is screeching and you are alone.  You feel your way beneath the screeching, seek a pulse to follow.  All you need is a pulse.

You find the answer in that quiet space between breaths, the one that waits and listens.

Are you flying or falling?  Can you be both?  Not do both, be both.  Be star and soil.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

In you


Black earth so old and deep its minerals sparkle in the dark night, their nourishment the only light to be seen here.  Only perceptible out of the corner of your eye, it disappears if you look straight at it.

No permission or access granted, not to this place.  Sacred and solitary, this terrain welcomes none but you.  An invader then, ruthless and cold, merciless and relentless.  You choke on shock, your own claws grown feral rip and shred at the very essence of you for hope of a breath.  It does not come.

Revived but not renewed, you review the dénouement of your own expiration.  You find a note written with the blood of your wounds.

This season is one of violence and brutality, you feel their echo still, their bruises and gashes landmarks on you.  An echo so strong, your teeth rattle with resonance.

Alive still, you can believe the intent was not malicious.  This violence and brutality are just a stage, the place where this ballad will be sung.  You let them whisper to you in the fading echo, you listen.

Ever in character, they ask brutal questions.  What would it take for you to soften your edges around my brutality?  To sink back and down into your darkness and your silence when faced with my violence?  To surrender to the harsh tones of my echo? To cherish the relief you feel when I am gone knowing you only get to feel it because I was here?