In our dampened lake-side spot,
hidden by a ceiling of ashen pines,
we stuffed ourselves inside our souls
to fall in love. In a bed of earth, of ice,
and frozen land, we found a chilled delirium,
light above the stratosphere, propelling upward,
unhinged within a hell we called our heaven.
With coffee mugs colder than our limbs,
we sat in wait for the earth to shatter
so we could make it. For shards
of glass from that fishbowl cave
to soar through the air,
come frighteningly close,
and evade us.
The renegades of time
in a private universe.
Where the dirt, the grime,
the memories were all the same
spare parts to shake loose.
On the edge of understanding,
we found the skin we wore
was inescapable; it stretched
days into decades as we marched on
to fight for ecstasy, to waste our days
in want of wanting.
What we loved in this life
before we lived it, when all
we sought was an impossible
dream. Before I saw a certain
harshness in your grin,
an exactness of lines
I had not seen in that darkness,
my dear, I searched for you
to find eternal morning,
where I was exiled and alone.
(Posted with intent to lengthen/edit. Would love some advice/comments-thanks! Sorry about the spacing.)
Tossing on a thick winter coat and a maroon cap, Sam perched on his fire escape to see a night paled by the moon. There were no stars in the city. His wife, Lucy, complained of this often when she was alive. As a painter, she often sought inspiration. Such passion she poured into her paintings that a slight resentment ensued on Sam’s part. If only he could love something as she loved to paint, as he had loved her. With a small sip of black coffee, he placed his mug on the ground beside him and took a drag of his cigarette.
Struggling to balance the weight of his hefty, aged frame, Sam spent a few moments shuffling to his feet. Once he returned inside, he reorganized a few lopsided stacks of magazines on his mahogany coffee table. Old records were found: Bob Dylan and Hendrix albums he taught his wife, Lucy, to love. Her sketchbooks were scattered everywhere. She lived and breathed her artwork, and she was exceptional at it. There was one piece of hers he particularly liked of Clove Lakes. It was a surreal piece with trees a deep shade of violet only her eyes could capture. Though he could not, would not see what she saw. He thought her paintings were fascinating, but he never understood them, even after explanation. An impenetrable gap divided them, and he felt for certain it could not dissolve with thought, or word, or desire. He could dedicate his existence to such a thing but would still float above the atmosphere. To him, Lucy’s works were but an impossible blur.
Then the fire in her eyes paled. A chill seeped into her skin, and her dark eyes froze. She spoke of age, of death, of how she would be remembered. Sam felt for certain she would awake from this and join him, but he lost her two years prior to death. The nature of her fate spawned a dangerous apathy, and it stole her from him. She could not comprehend how he felt; she could not see how she herself had changed. “I’m too old,” she always moaned. “I was a damn good painter then, but it isn’t for me anymore, Sam. Let’s move on.”
He begged her to return to her trade. “It’s who you are,” he had whispered, tucking her soft hair behind her ear. “It’s what you love.” Then he would sink into pale blue sheets and listen to the rain fall.
What were those paintings now—memorabilia? A thick layer of dust wrapped itself around the walls of his home, in spite of his constant efforts. For hours, he sprayed every shelf, organized every corner, and placed papers into folders into cabinets. Even scraps from his days as a Geology professor, twelve years ago, materialized. He found finals exams students had failed to pick up and large stacks of lecture notes, covered with neon yellow highlighter marks. He put his world back together to watch it dissolve.
This cleaning frenzy would be in sole pursuit of personal items, pieces of his past. After accumulating chaos in his life, he longed to rid himself of it. A resurrection of sorts. Once he cleaned each corner, he then proceeded to toss photographs, odds and ends, and other memories into the chimney fire. One photograph was of a family Thanksgiving dinner—decades ago—when his granddaughter, Nathalie, decided to be a smart-alec, sprawling herself across the living room floor at the last minute to flash the camera a cheeky grin. Yet somehow, it was charming. Then, he found a sketchpad of his wife’s that he had not opened in some time and watched it light up in vibrant oranges and reds then fade to black. Hours she had spent on their fire escape, to capture the moments just so, and he watched them turn to ash.
After her death, life had rendered him inert. Now, as he watched the darkly-tinted eve turn to night, he felt awake. Aroused by a knock at the door, he swung it open to find his granddaughter. Her face was stone. “What are you doing?”
“Cleaning what?” she shouted.
Sam leaned in closer than normal, and she jumped a bit, startled. It was unusual for the reticent old man to come so close. “Some old stuff,” he said.
“Those were my grandmother’s.” She shook her head. “Our stuff as well. Why are you doing this?” For a moment, she choked up a bit but then caught herself, exhaling sharply.
“I need to do this, Nathalie. It is time to move on, don’t you think?” He forced a laugh. “She would want this.”
“Her sketches. All of our photographs.” Nathalie covered her mouth. “Why are you doing this to us—?”
“It has nothing to do with you,” he said, returning to his olive green sofa to put his
pillows in their proper place.
“What about you? Your life is a futile game,” Nathalie cried, snatching a pillow from his hand, “you’re destroying your memories and ours. Memories you have no right to destroy. And for what?”
Sam shrugged, peeling off his cap from atop his silver hair and placing it on the coffee table. Though he loved her, he said little of the matter because it was his own battle, his inescapable skin. To him the dirt and grime and memories were equal: spare parts to shake loose. Survival was a matter of motion.
“When does it stop?” Nathalie whined.
“When it’s all gone.” Sam placed a hand on her shoulder, but she flinched, wounded. “That’s all there is.”
“That’s all there is?” Nathalie caught his gaze for a moment then glanced away. “Is that what you think?” She pulled a china teacup off of his counter and smashed it on the floor. “What does this solve? Tell me, how does it feel to destroy yourself?”
Sam squinted. “Look around,” he scoffed, “who am I, Nathalie? I can tell you who I was. I was born in Chicago then came here for Brooklyn College. I bought a place in the city, taught Geology, and married your grandmother. We had lovely children together. And you know what?”
“I am not that man.”
“Everything is transitory,” she argued, “but that alters nothing. You lived through these moments, so they are forever yours.”
“I know they’re mine. That’s why I’m destroying them.”
“It doesn’t hurt you to do that?”
“It does,” Sam said, “immensely. Which is something, and it’s more than I had.”
“What the hell do we do then?” Nathalie’s voice was strained. “The rest of us, should we destroy what we love out of spite? I’ve got a four-year-old at home, Grandpa. I can’t begin to understand you. I only wanted to stop by—” She trailed off before melting into the sofa in defeat. “I just wish you’d find peace.”
Sam squeezed her hand. “I promise you I will. I love you, Nathalie. More than you know.”
Excusing himself for a moment, he crept back onto the fire escape to feel the weight of a naked sky, then light up the same brand cigarette and argue: we desire brutality. To know what we are when we’re stripped to bone.
Fellow blind abiders: we’ve let facts
and figures sink in. Stained our skin
with trivialities for
a worn-out common dream. A future
wine and dine. Where we won’t ask
questions, but sing. Of firm red roofs above
our heads that were once
desert sand. In days when we were
young and deigned to dream. When we
loved this life—before we lived it. We’ll tuck
the cost of stability beneath our store-bought,
white linen sheets. Lift our translucent glasses
to the fine professions we despise.
To the chirping of our tired tongues,
wordless dialogue to soothe
our woes. We’ll forget the lives
we could have led. With
store-born smiles, unlike those
that lingered in our souls. Once. In days
when passion was a pleasure worth pursuing.
Now we will drown in the spotlight
from a meaningless existence:
Longing for something to sing about.
“Must you always do that?” Sarah wrinkled up her nose in disgust.
“Always do what?” I said, glancing up from the New York Times. I then realized I had neglected the coffee and soggy cheerios before me. Perhaps I had been somewhat disengaged.
Sarah shook her head. “You’ve been so absorbed in your work lately. We haven’t had a real conversation this week. What’s going on?”
“I’ve been trying to catch up,” I responded. My eyes danced around the room and stopped as I noticed the black and white kitchen tiles that we had always planned to replace.
“You’ve hardly been home this week,” she complained, “and you’ve done nothing around the house. Why is that I am the only who does things around here?” She shook her head. “I swear, Jack, sometimes you’re impossible.”
I nodded to show her that I understood, and I did. “You’re right. I haven’t been there lately.”
“You haven’t,” Sarah agreed, “and I’m sick and tired of it.”
“Perhaps disharmony is what keeps us afloat,” I suggested with a smirk. “We’re so used to having something to argue about.”
“You’re an idiot,” Sarah responded, snatching an empty blue plate from off the table to place it in the sink.
And she was right. But then she laughed that familiar laugh, which was soft and light and reminded me of the wind chimes we placed outside the front door of our mountain abode. She wouldn’t admit it, and it was probably wrong of me to say this, but that laugh of hers was how I knew I had swayed her.
(Still iffy about a few lines, but here’s another poem. It’s not nearly as dark as it sounds…haha.)
Numbing weights upon my soles,
Steady me on this downward ship,
But my eyes dance across the sea,
To swindle yours in sadist crime.
Your brittle bones taunting me.
To taste the lips of poison.
Which animate with sin.
Sever these bloodless veins;
Feed the fire beneath my skin.
(Posted with intent to lengthen/edit. Would love some advice/comments-thanks! Sorry about the spacing.)
Tossing on a thick winter coat and a maroon cap, Sam perched on his fire escape to see a night paled by the moon. There were no stars in the city. His wife, Lucy, complained of this often when…
Follow this one, guys http://shainaclingempeel.tumblr.com/
Unraveled and undone,
your skin and mine. The
wanting. Of young, transient
fools. Drink in days
with our lips. In that cabin.
Eyes closed, but awake.
Swallow this tangent to shore.
Your hair and mine. The hunger.
Your mouth, warm. Amber
fire, on the inside. We were frozen.
Ice in that cabin. Unpretending.
We were winter. With warm coffee as we woke.
Electric. Veins that could set fire. On that
frozen morning. Sky painted black in its own disillusionment.
Our almost smiles. Wordless. We were each other’s own when
I wore your skin. In that cabin. That cold winter
morning, you stole me. Your skin and mine. In those sheets.
The wanting. The hunger. In that cabin. I loved you.
The torment. The hours. The desperation. Your mouth, warm.
I love you.
The home I found.
You, in that cabin. The wanting. The waiting. Your winter coat.
We were much too young to mend.
On those steps. The suffering—the nape of your neck—The hunger.
The ennui. The drowning.
Smaller, upper back.