Red

the person you love stands

in a doorless room next to yours

with a lightbulb in her mouth

 

flat teeth score the glass, the metallic end

in the gullet plug sparks a fire

in the filament, and you see

 

the dumb blood rushing

in dark riverbeds behind the lantern skin

the illuminated face full of string, and without

waiting for your interference she crushes

the shell between her teeth

 

splinters climb into the rivers of her face

tear light into her body, all the places

where she opens up, where she gapes

until the walls and your throat

and her teeth glow red

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The Green in Black

I look for the green tinge in the black paint. When it isn’t there, I know my eyes have adjusted, finally. I feel my hind legs straighten almost all the way, which is supposed to be a sign of something. Then there is the fur that comes out in clumps whenever she touches the skin underneath. Could the energy of it rupture something as sibling as these quick moments woven into one another?

*

The bonds between cells, which the plant material releases are wet paint, never had a chance to harden, crushed beneath a stride.

*

There is no healing. Not for anyone in this world. The work of healing is distraction, an occupation like any other, towards an empty eventual fall, a failing, there is no healing, not from anything. There is the moment of being passed through by life, and there is chemistry, and there is the no-longer.

*

I reach into your solar plexus all the way up to my elbow, and I hear the gushing, when my arm comes out it is coated with mud, and the touch of the world dries the mud so quickly it pinches my skin like tiny slaps before it crackles and flakes off, dusting my feet.

*

So little in the grain of the table is free from association with the things I own as a girl, these thighs, the striation in the skin goes both ways, up-down-left-right, and then some associative, diagonal nonsense.

*

My teapot is somewhat green, my cup is black. There are other colours and tints in all of this, like silver and white, but those don’t blend in with previously written words.

*

I think of the fact that I’ve never liked drinking from straws, or sucking at those water bottles that come with nubs. I’ve not been fed by breasts that way, I’ve been fed by rubber, and I’ve had enough, I think, of all this sucking.

I’m hungry, not for the difficult pull that constricts the throat and makes eyes bulge, but for the wide gulp of liquid tumbling in, the flow inward, unconstricted, a fall the size of an apple, into the mouth open as a well.

*

I don’t close my eyes during daylight hours. There is too much that could be missed, and I still haven’t earned my passport to life, after all I have spent years not really partaking, feeling so separate that I was convinced I would never die. Now every beam is something to be soaked up, something to be put aside for later use. As you can tell, I still postpone, but at least I consider the world something to be partaken in, in whatever way I can.

*

Money can be thrown at objects and it places them into your hand, it’s like magic. Food can be put into the mouth, then ferried into the stomach, and from there into the blood. It’s amazing. I can drink and speak and hear and see. I don’t know what to do with any of what I take on, but I’ll take it, who am I to say no?

*

I leave the day with armfuls of objects and words and pictures and thoughts, and I arrange them around my body every night in bed just in case I don’t wake up, and this is my way of saving my family and friends the effort to decide what to put in my grave.

*

We are Egyptian still, never got over that side of ourselves, and we still surround our dead with things, and I surround myself to pretend I live, just like the dead wear sheets and makeup, because it is spooky to look at them with their bones so slack in their faces, looking loose like the earth that calls them home to it.

Confetti

perverse and unwritten, the hired car

bullets down the thirty year old road

I hired had to hire – a teacher to continue existing

and if the world approved, I thought, I just might

licence myself to sing my affectations

in a different key

 

I turn in my glove as if so much dirt

had just fallen on the ground in winning shapes

to be read like fire tracks

 

some ancestor, stiff with rheumatism, never once

was home when I came home

from lessons

in the afternoon where in the gutter of daylight hours

I found his fingers chopped

or, who knows, perhaps gnawed asunder

 

a noble earlobe, I think,

catch in myself a shudder when the thought

plasticises

and hits the ground

 

once I called myself sixteen and said

no, I wouldn’t call it aquiline

it’s much more of a slope

with a teardrop or a cherry at the end

 

like a great man reciting by a dying torch

the words of someone immediately killed

 

I often group the thin along with the dying

as if it’s only a matter of waiting for the thing

to roll down the predetermined slope

and on the rusty sullen beach I wait

 

when you left me my mouth said I permit it

as if it cared less about me than it should

and I remember that the building

shook with all the rotten foods it carried

 

something in that thought only punishes more

with time

 

once, when a bullet

found no recourse, not even in sleep

even in the silent erosion of the brain

it condescended to the state of seed

and waited, like I do, around

 

my ability to feel ugly is so textbook

a ragged pad of token use

 

I am now too angry to sleep beside you

I am too dark with beaten blood

to cradle your large body,

even its outline, inside me

 

your shoulders have toppled and the shaking

has begun, but all I think about each time

is the dryness in my mouth

 

and each time

my tongue is cracked like golden fruit

in the sun

 

I organise the words of songs because I cannot

respond simply, identify

what about a person is a person

and what about them is

a silent winter tree

totally indifferent

 

I am dragged into

a thumping office room where I dictate

the words from the inside

to the outside

to an exploding typewriter with stars for keys

stars untouched for twenty years

and before then only by hands of molten rock

 

here goes, I say

and the stars punch themselves deeper and deeper away

until the world dissolves into innocent

fragile grey confetti

Digging

I start digging, using my hands like the front paws of a dog until they become the front paws of a dog. Brown earth rolls in clumps around me, soft wet brown, darkening the deeper I go to bring it up.

I heave the earth out of itself again and again; sometimes in the dark my paws hit something other than earth, something hard like bone, sometimes round and indeterminate, sometimes soft, pulsating and shot through with veins, like the flesh of a worm, but without the wriggle.

When I hit such things, I pull at them until the earth lets them go, and I throw them blindly behind me, away from me.

They are things I do not need, do not want to need, and there are handfuls of them. My claws rip them from the earth, I cannot help it. They come up, but I cannot deal with them now. I need to see them disappear, and I keep digging as they fly over my shoulders, trailing a heavy veil of earth into the dark behind me.

Rip them out. Rip out the parts that want my attention, that glisten with seductive gloss, splaying the flesh that needs more from the world than the tired earth can give.

I dig and my paws are numb with earth, with what the earth does to them.

You, past person person past, lie expectant in my wet black earth, your traits mummified and meaningful in a way they never really were. I dig into you, through you, send parts of you flying: I know that if I look too closely at you I will slow myself down, slow my digging, and I will think that everything I dig out of us is something that I need.

What I need is to keep digging, to dig for the part of me worth saving, worth uprooting and moving into different soil. The part of me that will agree to live and grow in different soil.