The Body Is A Robot: Elsewhere

I am waiting on the stoop for a sunrise to appear.  I hardly know what to say these nights when I aim to be so occupied that the words in me dry up.  My thoughts are singular, not kaleidoscopic as the work demands.

Where does the need to write go when it goes, if it goes?

It goes in a scrap heap, with every other sort of faith and belief in intangible things.  Go to work, press the start button, buy the coffee even if no one particularly likes the coffee – it’s too bitter, type the emails, remember to check the mailbox, follow the steps, twitch and snort when out of view, taste the salted flesh preserved and simple, and constrain your metal heart.

If it goes, you go, really, with it to the scrap heap.  And the robot runs the work, while you nestle without pain into the witch jar of rusted nails and half-broken thumb tacks and sharp memories claimed to be forgotten.  You dream in the lemonade, you start floating around with the chili pepper, you burn and reformulate.

We do not say I love you afterwards, but it hardly matters when everything is kind and soft and urgent and sincere.  Sometimes I almost do, and I stop myself. We do not say the name so we do not conform with casings and shells and polymers and masks.  But we are somewhere while the body is the robot.  We are somewhere and we are there together.

I find it difficult to remember because I am trying so hard to recall everything about it.  Every breath and the way the voices sound as I make them, the one I lapse into without trying, this coquette, this flirt, this woman I never knew I knew so well.   I want to name her, this persona so casually undertaken, but already she feels like dream dust.  All of this feels like the sort of thing I would make up, with the bends in it to make it seem real even though it’s all a blue caravan trundling through the dark trees along the mountain pass.  Steady and not stopping, no matter your curiosity as to the nature of its contents.  It whirls in my head, that this is happening, and it’s heady like a drink first feels when the alcohol sets in.  It is chemicals, the scientists say, and I say, but the body is a robot. This is me and I am elsewhere.

Today has been marked down as Friday and perhaps the world will end soon.  Terrible things are happening – hate is just spilling out like so much acrid, poisonous sulfur bubbling up from caverns we had long held to be sealed.  So sealed as to be forgettable, paths forsworn, unnecessary for any travel reasonable souls would undertake.   Terrible things and as one of those things, we are given to watch from our robot eyes and these arms so new with such shoddy articulation that we have yet to finesse our grip.

Meanwhile, we are not there at all.

 

 

 

 

Moonache

The bad habits.  The bad, bad, bad habits.  You give one inch to one of them and down the hill you roll with them all.

Now, I have some ice water.   It seems to be a medicine and I can think again.

Tomorrow: brunch.  And then, we have an order of groceries that does not give a centimeter to the plots of bad habits.  Back on track because failing this has been boring and bothersome.  A sugary slurp, a salty grind, a belly ache and a delirious desire to pay a ridiculous fee for the opportunity.  I feel the reasons out quick as ever as to why a woman who eats out for her meals at every opportunity might feel ill and ungainly.  I lose one wagon, but I know where I can find another one to climb upon.  The path I chose is the only one that will improve my lot.  Out, out, damned spots.  Let me have the future I desire.  Some slice of it, the parts I have my will to alter.

And I hope to find the words tomorrow.  Tell me what we are.  Tell me what you guess we are.  Tell me that this is not the most painful sort of game.  You call yourself single.  Outright.  For all the world.  While an hour later, you say, stay with me.  Just stay with me.   And I do, because where else would I go, and you hardly mean anything more than stay on the line.  Stay attached to this very long strand that clutches around my throat, the one you’ve tied to some bedroom door so that every time you enter I feel a gentle choke.

Because it can’t be real.  Me here, you there.  And as soon as I am the one who begins to believe it possible, as soon as I swear on stones that there’s some grander scheme at work, you go and say, I am single and things are hard being alone.

So I, not wishing to look a fool, say, with delicate darts to keep the truth hemmed up, pinned in, I, too, am looking for the sort of man who…the kind of man who is…the wistful dreams of my heart have yet to be requited in any mortal form and I am amongst ye, oh, walking and wakeful damned who have found your hearts cleaved in full from that of any others.  I share your fate.  I have no answers.  I have no claims.  But no, none of you dare approach me for succor or support, because if you do I shall be forced to drive you out of my presence.  For what manner of villainy would allow for me to idle for hours in some communal, if imaginary bed, and reciting any manner of romantic assertions, cooing and giggling and playing the part and then, wordlessly, doing the same with someone else?  How profaned would I be to learn that he might afflict such an act upon me?

So I have nothing.

Give me the strength to take my nothing in one lump, one gasp, one shot.

 

 

 

The Containment of Multitudes

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Come on, Fred.  Come on, and make your presence known, please!

I wore the witchy poncho today.  I didn’t think anything in particular about this beigey chenille, fluffy, blanket style poncho, until a former co-worker said it made me look like a witch.  I was thinking about that adjective today, as we are on the eve-ish eve of Halloween, and I am entirely sans costume and really, sans any sort of spooky spirit.   I was thinking about it and a memory I’ve held closely, the memory of the girl in the mist.

I only saw her once, I think, and she sat in the middle of a very suburban park.  She was, in the terminology accessible to me today, probably just a vegan who was into grunge.  I remember she had a plaid shirt tied around her waist. But as a 2nd-grader with an endless imagination, the college-aged girl who had a pan flute and sat cross-legged in the park was some sort of nature spirit.  Lithe, thin, pale, with wild hair, she sat in the middle of the green playing this eerie, magical music as the mist moved around her.  Who was she?  Where did she come from?  Was she real?  I remember being very clear that when I grew up, it would be necessary to my happiness, to approximate that aesthetic, that state of esoteric relationship to the world.  To expressly not spend my time at any sort of desk.  To be free and immune to any brand of cultural conformism.  To evoke magic with my being.

I wanted that.  There was no part of me that found it laughable, or anything other than the highest, truest, most holy calling.  It is hard to sit here on this couch, cats rambling and banging into walls with their raucous fighting, all the while thinking about the day I had loading vans full of vast tubs of paper to be shredded, the grumpiness that appears as fact, the stress that is invading my body, and dream. To luxuriate in dreaming about being barefoot in cool, dewy grass, wearing flowers and gauzy fabric and talking to the moon.

It is hard to accept the true juxtaposition of these things within me now.  But even when do so much as lean towards the Stevie Nicks-loving, flower-chattering, candle-burning side of myself an inch, I do feel better.  I do feel more hopeful and less like everything is so far out of my control.  A witch is a woman who is dangerous and sought after not because she can change the universe from what it is, but because she can make it bend out of its pain.  When things are hopeless, she has, at the least, a path that can be walked.  She is not contained by the appearance of physical laws.  She can make you believe that there is no smallness about you, that your wills are the same as those of the universe.  That where you are kind, the universe is kind. Where you are patient, so are the flowers that lie buried in wait within the earth for the right year of rain.  That where you love, some spirit startles awake and begins the long journey of seeking your sanctuary.

The things you can’t think when you are being ground into powder by what would make the world move easiest for others.  The priestesshood of breath, of force, of self.  Those are the magick spells we have been passed down.  I do not mind being a witch because I never was anything else.

Henotia

It is not impossible to siphon off a bit of brain and bobble it around, spin it and aerate it.  Make the story of things as they are and serve it up yet again.  Just a stretch.  It’s late.  I am tired.  I am thinking about so many things that I have not thought of in a long time.  Justice, wedding dresses, walking the rest of the way on my own.   I am also choosing to set all the thoughts aside and just listen to the trickle of worries spill until I hear the thoughts behind all that.

You’re alright.  You’ll bob back up.  You’ll come a’right.  You’ll end up alright.  You are all right right now.

Dinner with the sisters.  Monte Cristo sandwich that tasted light and fluffy. A fifth of whoopie pie that tasted like a sugar brick.  The things I would do for ice water.  It is my singular desire and I never look after making it ready when I should want it, here as morning rushes towards me.  It feels somehow, at 11:30p.m. like you are sitting on the day’s windowsill as the earthly set designers change the scenes around you.  Draw in a tree and drape blue and purple leaves on its arms, pull out a curtain of evening sky and stud it with zirconia, paint the middle distance until it pulls the eye into infinity.

It was Friday and somewhere on the periphery, a terror, somewhere further out, a war, somewhere at the furthest edge, an end.

But here, we put dresses on drunk women and sent them careening down the street in new, orange-brimmed sun hats. Here we send women who might have been ourselves away empty-handed, shrugging as they offer themselves up.  Twenty pounds, they assert, and I’ll be back.  No, I say, you won’t.  But…for a moment, we hope together for something that gives you some illusory pleasure.  We try together and we don’t judge the reason we’re trying.

Isn’t it funny how the things we swore we would never do come to us so easily now as a way to get by, pass through, ease the coming and the going?  We don’t question it.  We just softened in our insistence until the demand to be upright is taffy to the touch and the demand to make life go just that little bit easier is as hard as diamonds, inviolate.

This is growing up.  You say it won’t be like that for you, Peter Pan, but it would.  This is the ladder and we are the salmon.  We only know what we know to know.

I wouldn’t mind you turning up now, peeking out and climbing to sit with me here on the windowsill overlooking the new day.  It shall not be, but I would not mind it.  I wouldn’t pine so hard, I think, if you had cut the cord betwixt us and let the lie be the blade.  But not three ago you insinuated, you inveigled, you turned up. Now, I have truth and a long chain on this particular manacle.  And a key in my hand if ever I care to run away from it all.

I will, when I care to.  I will.

 

Pink Abstract Guitar Background

Fuuuu-ck!  I have so many words and it’s getting so late and I’m tired of giving you half the right amount of attention, blog.  I am tired of being dismissive of your role in my life.  Of betraying you by writing elsewhere, of not bearing my soul into your passive, peaceful, restive arms.  I am here, my darling!

Watching the marvelous Focus Group by the marvelous Sara Benincasa for the second time which I backed and now has come magically to life.

The Focus Group (2016) from Sara Benincasa on Vimeo.

I don’t know what to say.  The things I talk about elsewhere I suppose I could talk about here.  I suppose I could talk, but it’s not like it’s something that I can explain without using language I don’t care to use.  Also, it’s not like it’s something that anyone needs to worry about, that alters anything, that need be noted anywhere.  So we will sink into frippery and vague claims.

I have certain places to put myself now that make me distracted and jolly.  You, sir, for whatsoever time remains us before we tire of one another, of the ruse, of the whole kit and its caboodle, are one such place.  A Mr. among Misters.  Chief in a few ways, mostly you’re just here and I am just here and that’s odd that there’s no there there.  It’s just a lot of here.  Too much here? It has not yet been determined.  It’s just wild, lacking even the fearful brand of symmetry.  It’s one of those situations that you think you understand while it’s happening, but can’t, can’t until you get far away and very still and very quiet and then you just laugh yourself awake.

I feel a charge of the ars poetica.  I feel like I climbed through a dark tunnel, and there’s a thousand more to go, but, here, in between, we’ve got open air and moonlight.  Both are dark, but one is free.

It’s this and it’s the filibuster and it’s the way I feel after reading the poem that everyone’s reading today and loving it in my own Good Bones, (thank you),  I remembered that I wrote poems.  I looked back and read a poem I wrote about how I wrote poetry.  I have a lot of poems about my love of poetry.  Poems that I believe no one has ever read.  They are not great poems, but they feel great because they are tied to memories of hope, quilted to other poems that meant other things.  I remember and it’s not a bittersweet remembrance because the desire has not diminished or been thwarted.   It just finds fresh fuel and burns all the brighter now that I’ve cast my attention on its eternal flame.

The muse does not give you up if you do not give her up.  She will chase you down alleys and dive off of parapets and clobber you if you smile twice.  If you tell her she’s pretty or she’s got a thrilling turn of phrase.

 

Unaccountably Peckish (Here’s Hoping)

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And now we wait.

For boys to wake up, for cards to turn, for time to run out, for hair to dry, for itches to take to the scratch, for London to rise, for bravery to outweigh procrastination, for earworms to crawl toward their exits, for the revelation to be revealed.

Boys that aren’t boys.  Boyz that have gone through the whole process and have properly turned 2 men.  Ahem.  Sorry.  It’s late and I have a sugar-headache and there’s no shaking it as I took some aspirin and quickly had a nosebleed so I am just going to drink some water and stop my excessive thinking.  Boys.  Men.  Ones who have expressly stated that they need to be bonked on the head to realize a girl might like them.  A lady.  A woman.  Funny how funny that feels, like five glass marbles I’m trying to mumble through.  A woman and a man called so by virtue of nothing, really.  I’ve always prefered being a girl.  Ah.  So, it is entirely up to me if I feel anything whatsoever to Charlotte Lucas it.  So not my strong suit.

And in the wings, a kind person I feel, completely arbitrarily less for.  Hovering.  Curious.  Asking how I am doing and I care, but on several orders of magnitude less that I do for this man I have arbitrarily decided is the pick of the litter.  Neither of whom are in anyway positioned to knock on my door and invite me to dinner.  All of this is talky-talk trouble.  But that’s where I do my worst and best work.  Where I conjure marvels, where I skin my palms and knees.  He just wants me to say hi.  I feel like saying hi is a minor betrayal.  It ain’t, but I got my plans, and this is a complication in that it requires me to grow some parts and say, I am delighted for your friendship, but we’re both here for the purpose of finding someone for whatever lies beyond friendship and I don’t want to waste your time when I am pining…waiting…scrying out a good moment for someone else that will probably come to naught and yet, even then, I don’t think we’re compatible anyway so don’t be mad at me for letting you bark up this tree because it feels nice to be appreciated.  Just because friendship itself feels warm and nice after so many long years out in the open air.

I know how this shit goes.  I had to throw one tormented artist to the proverbial curb to take up with a devil-may-care, honey-addled jewel thief.  It’s the chase! We wish to be better than that, but ah, life is meant to be fun at some point so it might as well be now.  At least it’s not a Rubbery Man.

Ah!

We had all the cupcakes and frappuccinos and tacos and orzos and oh nos that exist in the world if you end up looking for some tomorrow.  I also have a Chipotle gift card I attempted to give away five months ago.  Once that is spent, I believe I will also be well and truly done.

Here’s hoping!

The Red X

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I am sitting at my desk to type this post.  I am going to sit here and type the whole thing whilst on my less than comfortable chair.  I am not going to pull the laptop back to my lap and sit back on the bed.  I bought this desk for a reason.  I think I am becoming Quasimodo, hunchback-wise (his most salient descriptor, I suppose, aside from the ugliness we conflate with hunchbackery) and I think it’s unhealthy.   I know it is because it causes me pain in my shoulders as they wrap around me. I feel the straitjacket of my own ribcage, my own arms protectively surrounding me, squeezing my heart.   There are no breasts, there is no body, there is just a shape.  The shape that holds the phone up to the face and takes in cat videos and shimmies fingers to set timers that are inevitably ignored.  The inertia is profound and negligible.  When I can’t, I don’t.  There have been so many days when I don’t, though, that I stop asking whether or not I can.

I will stop when it hurts enough.

I am noticing today how much better my mind feels when I read, when I listen to intellectually provocative material, when I engage myself in an inquiry not just of self, but of the media I take in.  When I push.  Laying/sitting/reclining in the bed day in and day out has some sort of knock-on effect of relaxing my ability to coalesce thought.  I am not treating my writing as the honorable, necessary exercise that it is.  As the lover I love, who loves me so desperately that he calls to me at all hours, murmurs in my ear, pets my arm and says “Let’s just try, it’s only just for us.”  In response, I shift and turn my back and say, just one more video, just one more act of creative voyeurism, the release of looking at worlds made and projects lifted up to the light.   I know the muse feels the coldness, I know the muse feels regret.  We could be so good together if I could just let it in.

Every now and then, though, I sit up and I say.  Okay.  I say, if you’re sure we’re not going to make this a big deal.  If we’re just going to play.  The pilot light bursts forth in a shroud of heavenly blue, the shoulders release, the dancers stretch their legs.  The muse and I climb beyond the bay window and walk down to the water and watch this far-distant ship slowly turn and bring itself into the harbor.  After what feels like hours of waiting, it finally drops anchor and all of the pirates jump over the the hull and swing ropes onto shore.  The dancers emerge and guide them up off the beach and in the rough-hewn, thatched-roof cantina, we drink with them and listen to their adventures.  Their hungers, their thirsts, their old shanty songs and we take notes.  They don’t mind us eavesdropping, not so long as we let them dance with the dancers and drink all the mead.  Eventually, they drop, drunk, exhausted and drained of all their stories and we crawl away so as not to wake them.  There are only a few hours left until sunrise and they won’t be here in the morning.

Every now and then, the notes are readable, they make a sort of map.  And every now and then, the muse and I climb up over the bluff, and eastward, and south-south-eastward, and look for the stand of three threes that reach up as if in prayer.  We use branches and invented shovels, and sweat away just at dawn, just as the sky moves from its groves of oranges and violets to that first breath of heavenly blue and dig at the red x.  Deeper and deeper into the sandy soil, until there is a thump.  We’ve hit something.

Every now and then we open the chest and it is not empty.  It carries in it another map that the water and acid of the soil has not tainted.  And every now and then, though our arms are tired and we’re keen for a picnic, the muse and I will follow that map to the next.  We will go until once in a very great while, when we’ve forgotten the clever pirates’ great claims of riches and spoils and are only concerned over discovering the next Red X, and we’ll use our dirt-stuffed fingernails to claw open a chest that holds no map.

It will seem empty at first.  But we’ll sit still, blinking at it and at each other for a very long while.  It feels different, the muse will say.  It does, I will say. It feels like an ending.   Satisfied, aching, under a heavenly blue made dark save for its map of stars, we’ll head back to the shoreline and try to sleep.