the seeds, the trees

"But once in a while there's a great dynamite-burst of flying glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, 'I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.'" – Richard Bach

The beginning

You didn’t look at me or say anything or move, except your chest rising and falling.

I also lay still and quiet, repeating in my head, promising,

promising to be strong,

that if you didn’t reach out and touch me in

10…9…8…7…

I would move, leave without a word. Never see you again.

6…5…4…

everything dark and still.

I wait, hating myself and hating you.

You reach over and wipe off my back with your boxers.

I inch closer but my pride won’t let me touch you. So many lonely places I’ve been.

You mumble something about sweat. I put my clothes on and leave.

Five in the morning.

3…2…1…

never see you again.

Now you say you love me. That I snuck up on you, real good.

You never want to let me go. You beg me to stay longer, to let you make me come.

I let you do these things. I tell you I love you.

But when it’s quiet between us, and nothing holds our bodies together

except a prideless hope that everything will be OK if we are loved,

I almost cry, conjuring the tears,

never letting them go,

and I get scared when you’re holding me, you clever stranger,

that you’re this close to the blood in my heart, because I have no idea who you are.

Que serait le monde sans…

I read today that it would be a good idea if, every once in a while, 19 years I think, we cleaned out our vocabulary to avoid becoming prisoners of it. Prisoners of words. Without words, what is inside of our heads? I asked the girl selling yoga mats if she thought in Vietnamese or English and, after thinking about it for a bit, she said both. But she couldn’t describe it to me, and she didn’t try.

What would it be like to be in words? To be surrounded by everything they meant without reading or hearing a single word? I think that is what Brahman is. I think it must feel like the safest, warmest, most comforting place above the world. Or below it. Around it. To be all around the world at once. To hold everything inside our belly. Would we burst? Would it be too much or finally enough? Would we be lonelier than ever or forget all the faces we have seen and hands we have touched? Would we still feel our bodies? I think to be alive without a body is what gods feel like. Are we in cages of bone and flesh, muscles that hold us together and move us only in the smallest ways? We are so weak, die easily, but we can dream and accomplish and dream more with our minds like gods we can be without bodies only minds and minds without words! The limits are endless. Without limits, there is all, but I don’t even know what that means, because I reside, small and timid within my ribs, warmed by blood so easily poisoned and lost, and I cower within my skin and fat, afraid of what I could do without it. Always afraid. A choice. We don’t do anything we don’t want to do. But what if we don’t know what we want anymore? We have been told so many things over and over again, with the last palm against dry skin, it heaves, and we forget our dreams, a hidden water rushes in our ears. What used to feed our dreams, now only scares us. I feel hatred towards my stomach that only consumes, the thoughts of food and thighs touching until I am about to be sick until I consume more, until I am compliant and like a cat fed prey in tin cans, I grow soft and complacent. Sad and still within my blind, lethargic content.

Dad

Something is lost every time you don’t say, “I love you”

and say, “Thanks for calling” instead.

More than losing you,

I am afraid of not hurting as much as I’m supposed to when you’re dead.

I drink to this animal because I don’t want to think.

Please don’t ever love someone so much her skin burns when you breathe.

Eyelash wish

You rolled a cigarette for me,

I thought of the time we danced in the rain with the homeless people on the street outside his house,

the tobacco pulled through and a strand lay on my tongue like an eyelash,

I wished that what I felt for you was love and that it would be enough.

Good Morning, D.C.

The woman sitting next to me on the metro is hideous. She has a fat rock on her finger. I can mock and recoil from her blotchy skin, fat cheeks and terrible ski jacket, but at the end of the day, who is happier? Her and the crusty bits at the corners of her mouth and her husband who bought her a fat rock like that.

…I can’t believe how important you think you are. Milling around in your various mismatched suits (Is that in now, GQ?), headphones dangling from your ears like umbilical cords. You’re name is Brett and you order coffees with more than four ingredients while telling the man next to you, “Well, the thing with marketing is.”  The person you are speaking to is 10 years older than you with two kids and knows so much more, you weedy little shit, what do you know about love? About giving?

I think the loud, chubby barista is more important than your funeral-clad friends in this Starbucks. He gives you what you want to feel important, a small piece of your busy, busy day, and drinking coffee always makes you feel important and busy, you love it. And this barista, you probably think little of him, you probably take pity on him, yet you need him, Brett. You have no idea what you’d do without him. You have no idea what he’s done for you.

SO MANY – too many – PLATES

I’ve started worrying about the plates again.

I open the kitchen cabinet and there they are. A whole massive stack of them, like very white pancakes. Perfect. And there are, like, 26 of them. No, 20. No, 14. Either way, there are too many plates per family member (three of us in this house now) for them all to get used in between dishwasher loads. It can’t happen. Every day, I take three or four plates, now clean, out of the dishwasher and stack them back in the cabinet, on top of the tall pile of untouched plates, and I feel sad for them, the plates that only get used two, three times a year.

I worry, will the ones on top wear out before the ones on the bottom? The ones that keep getting used over and over and over again, day after day, while their unsullied counterparts remain lifeless, purposeless. I imagine them as Beauty and the Beast corpses. I see gleeful tea cups turning away in horror, all of their chipped but thriving relatives cringing in fear and disgust at the faceless plates.

Then I get angry. What’s the point? What’s the fucking point of these plates that we never use? Should I come in here and mix them up each week? But why would I do that? Am I crazy? Should I smash them, put them out of their misery? Should I, personally, use more plates? Shit. Why am I thinking about these things? Fuck. Do I truly, to the bone, have nothing better to do? And that’s the worst way to end because always, always the answer is, “Yes,” but then the mean, sulky, self-hating sycophant you kill hundreds of times a day whispers from the sticky depths which it has fled, “No. Now come back.”

Dec. 5, 2012 – 12:31 a.m.

When my beautiful city began to rot and stink around me, I thought about the first time we laughed – at the same time, we really laughed. I imagined it felt like birds flying. DSC_0029

Once upon a time

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl more than anyone could love anything, but she didn’t know what love was. She didn’t understand when he said, “Anything,” and cut off his hair because she was cold. Then one day, the boy grew sad. He knew she could not love him the way he loved her. She told him that she loved him, but her words were so light they floated away as soon as she spoke them, like dandelion dust, as if they had never been said.

He is happy, and she is sad. He is easy, and she is hard. He will always have enough. She will always think about dying, even when life is finally and sweetly good.

He only loved her more, until one day the girl said goodbye. Maybe it wasn’t her. Maybe it was the Someone Else inside of her who wasn’t afraid to be alone on the loneliest planet in the universe.

Now the girl cries when she can because she knows she will never have another boy to love her like he did. She is scared to sleep at night. She sleeps with the lights on, but the shadows come in anyway and make horrible shapes on the walls, and she is afraid to see the owl, which is really not an owl at all.

Sometimes she reaches out her arms to touch him. But he isn’t there. He could be warm in another’s or content with his own. She doesn’t know, because they do not know things like that about each other anymore.

The saddest thing of all.

She is afraid that one day he will wake up and forget her name. One day she will see him, and he will not care. She is afraid of the hours, days, months and years that she will miss him, like a hand misses a hand. She is afraid that she needs him, like people need their gods, like her father needs the sea.

Without him, she will forget to breathe.

Cigarettes! I quit

I opened my eyes one morning after getting into bed at 6 a.m. and trying to sleep, but I couldn’t so I just lay there thinking about a whole bunch of shit that doesn’t do me any good to think about, and I opened my eyes at about 7:30 because I swear I couldn’t take it anymore, and I thought that if I kept on thinking I would just go out of my fucking mind.

So I opened my eyes because I wanted everything to stop. I wanted to shut my brain down and I thought it might be less wild in the light. So I opened my eyes and decided I was going to quit smoking. I am going to quit smoking, I told myself. And it’s going to be really fucking hard. Look, you’re going to listen to a really good song in the car and you’re not going to be able to smoke a cigarette. You’re going to listen to Slug and you’re not going to smoke a cigarette. And these are the sacrifices you’re going to have to make. You are going to have to sacrifice. And it’s going to be hard. And when all your friends are smoking cigarettes around you, which they’re going to be, you’ll have to tell them that you quit smoking.

This is exactly what you’re going to say: “I quit smoking. And I’m not fucking around.” That’s what you’re going to have to say. And they’re going to offer you cigarettes, and you’re going to have to say, “No thank you. I’m not fucking around. I told you that earlier. I’m not fucking around. I quit.”

I was so excited to start my day. I thought I had a whole new life waiting for me, and I started wondering about all the ways my life would change. I was expecting big change. Change I couldn’t even imagine because it would be so big.

And now I’m high and want to give up because that’s what smoking weed makes you do, and I’m smoking cigarettes inside and the whole room smells like smoke and I’m pretty sure I’m inhaling all the smoke I blow out and I’m afraid I’m going to get mouth cancer because I chew my lips until they bleed and then smoke cigarettes, inside, and I breathe second smoke, I really didn’t want to write ‘hand’ for some reason, and I don’t know how you diagnose mouth cancer but either my lips will turn purple or I will grow a tumor on the side of my lip the size of a tennis ball. That is what I have decided. I am very sure that this will happen. And there’s nothing I can do about it.