Long, pale arms in dreams, setting your hair just so.
You sleep in front of the mirror, eyes wide open, gathering dark pools of starlight. They come for your council, sitting, rapt, at the foot of your bed. You pour them words, like silky gin, and speak of giants’ shadows, grown long along the gate.
High queen of loitered memories! How assured you are in that court. How regally your receive their lips, as cold as comet fire, as enduring as the angels’. They whisper you their secrets, though you claim them as your own. Flattery is easy for them; it costs so little.
They spread open your palms and read from them the universe. Here is man and here is his reach: the deep lines of your fine sensitivities; so indicative of that power you hold to be your birthright.
But it does not last.
—When morning comes, they’ll cast you down, left lonely in the earth. How could their company be anything but a midnight lark? The kind of joke so cruel it could only be of your own design? How much sport must they take in you, in your finery and airs, conjured by vanity from the shifting dust?
You taste it in their mouths as they smile at you, but you swallow your invectives. In the end, the heat of their scorn is the only fire burning bright enough to light the darkness of day.
When your hair grows lily-white, into the ground, they will mistake you for a tree. Twilight will spread through your open fingers and they will come to you, dancing at the banks of fresh-thawed streams. Forces that cannot bend you will lure them to the water.
You will drink.
You will draw lovers from the air. You will breathe them in your heart. That dark cavern will swell with each day, dripping and climbing into strange shapes, the design of which are the jurisdiction of your own dark liquids only—sourced from the depths burrowed down into your bones.
Explorers will venture into the caves, binding with their ropes and piercing with their picks. They will caress the smooth surfaces of lime, leached from time itself; they will gasp at the fire of mica—reflecting the pale flame of that which has grown up out of darkness. They will mark their charts and wear paths with their footsteps, but you will only laugh at their arrogance.
You will be bottomless and slow and unquenchable. You will move with the unhurried pace of eternity; swallowing history at your leisure. You will be a lake; deep and black and hidden from the moon. They will mistake you for a mirror.
You will not reflect the same face twice.
I awoke with the taste of it under my skin: that little corner I’d belonged to once; the same coy corner who’d pretended to be mine.
We slept together enough nights for her dirt to mix with the sweat of my hair, enough for the perfume to explode in open windows, enough to be wrapped in the billowing of curtains, crisp and white on the edge of summer rain.
We were barefoot against the seasons, curled in a chair overlooking the side street, the geometry of church spires reflecting city heat. I want it back: the way each plank and road and flower grew up in layers against the next. I want back the tiny cracks where they couldn’t quite fit flush.
Buildings grow too far apart here. Walls are so separated that they cannot speak. There is no conversation, only an illusion of independence. I miss the pressure of those voices at night, rocking me to sleep in the spaces of their beats.
Photo by Amelie Andrezel
This is the whisper of fallibility: oh, my sweethearts, I’ve done wrong.
I’ve locked my pride in nine hope chests and hoisted them wide to the sails. I’ve bid strong men kneel to the sight of their obscurity.
These are the tea kettles where I boiled down my passion, where I let it steep and settle, where I super-heated love and blew it off like so much steam.
These are the lines of my regrets; wrinkled mistakes on the veins of my hands. You lay them down over my eyes, lover.
You accept their shadow in our way.
Maybe this time of night is good for honesty.
Maybe I will hug my knees and go walking, backward, in my mind, along the little side street that is sinking into the creek. I will think about the rain and the roses and the cats, those kings and queens of waning evening.
I will not mind the blisters on my fingers. They will keep me company while I wait.
Maybe I will drink another drink, from the gold-leaf bottom of the gold-filled glass. Maybe for the passage of some golden, sorry words, I’ll let slip the copper wishes bottled, burnished, further down.
It aches so much, the sound of wings so high above. The echo of them in photographs. The rattle of them on tape. I think we’d have so much to say, but I haven’t earned you yet, wild things. Your shadows brush my hands as you sail on, high above me.
I am learning to grow feathers. I have made some wax of wings.
Oh but why does the sun shimmer so? What is the allure of a pair of eyes or the curve of a cheek? Where is the magic in hands and in lips; what knots can they tie with their smiles and their sorrows; what is the secret madness that draws the secret in?
Three beats of two hands and one mind and no purpose. The laughter of an empty heart and no wings left to fly.
Go on without me, wild things.
The ground has been inviting. I have not walked enough to fly.
Oh but I want to play—so badly.
There were the beds that weren’t beds at all.
There was the couch at MacDonald, under the darkest contiguous American sky, the fire catching the mountain and flaring it up across the valley. We shuffled to and from the dome with searching flashlights, up and over the ridge to watch the horizon in flames. The fire made us part of the darkness, merging our outlines with the shadow of the night.
We made screwdrivers from the contents of a lab fridge, respectfully conservative with the limited supply of orange juice. We drank with enthusiasm and cat-called the television. We waited for a spark—for the striking of our world against a world of ice and mystery; for the lifting of a veil ten million miles deep.
We saw the flash and raised a toast. To the fire on the mountain. To its long march down the valley.
We piled onto the couch and across the floor, vodka and victory swimming in our veins. There were stories in the air, drifting down on the smoke and across the border, into the Mexican hills and under our skin. It was magic, cast on the edge of shadow and flame. For a half breath and a heartbeat, we believed it. Then someone screamed and the spell shattered, collapsing in laughter and breaking against the walls. He jumped off the floor and curled beside me on the sofa. It was only a second, but he was vodka warm and fire bright and smelled like smoke and magic. I never kissed him. I wouldn’t have wanted to. But I’m grateful for the darkness and the desert and that night.
Spread out your spoils under the harsh light, cups and boxes and brushes and pens against the red table cloth. Moonlight catches the snow beneath the window, but your eyes are ready.
Your hands belong to them, for at least as long as you let it. All the painful thoughts are gone: everything but your eyes and your reaction.
Build one mark at a time. Feel the roundness of the smooth edge; catch along the other. Conjure it up from the dark. It comes without trying.
You cannot keep track of your limbs.
There are dark smears on your face and red splotches under your fingernails, but there is joy, by god, in the hollow points of miscommunication between your body and your brain. The lights go off and you wash it away. Grey little rivulets stream down the sink. You forget to be anything but clean.
But for now, let it take you: away in your eyes. Away for as long as you let it.
I want to think about arms and lips and hands and eyelids and leave behind the notions of bodies.
I want to wallow in their intangibles; to lose myself in the fire that sparks the flesh into motion. I want to relish being ugly. The humanity of weakness.
I want to twist it in on us; sharpen it as a weapon; polish it into a beacon that will only draw us in. I want the comfort of our skin together: the closest physical memory of your wild, unphysical mind.
I want it to be exactly that simple. I want the complexity of us.
There are little threads that you dance around, twirling them through your fingers, round and round and round yourself until you are sick with the dizziness of time.
The white walls of your kitchen are the same, and the whine of the kettle and the pink stains on the table cloth where you spilled orange juice that you poured some sleepless morning.
The walls are always the same. And the notes and your hands and the words you expel—abandoned by the page. You wake up. Scratch them from the wood work of your soft and wormy mind. The dishes are not done.
Tomorrow will be just the same.
lucifer, 80’s soho club scene
They were so pretty, he thought: the pretty little dead-eyed ones, bodies glowing all around him. They shuffled to the bathroom or they lit up on the floor—they were pulsing with the lights; they were seething just to live.
"No one around here old enough, anyway," he said softly to himself, slipping the silver cigarette case back into his pocket, "To remember what living really is.”