I am alive.
The breaths are caught somewhere in my chest, and they scrape as they part through my lips – there is a thrumming I can only feel in my skin, and not on it when my fingers reach for a pulse. I cannot feel through my fingers, only in bone and muscle:
It is a longing for movement, I believe. My hands speak to me what they feel they should do, dance, shake, and take flight. They never tire of movement, and they tell my legs so. My legs cannot accept, so only my toes follow, touching light and rippling air. My legs long for it, the bone is in a waiting sort of silence.
It becomes a longing for movement, for kinetics. I want fire in this room, or outside, where the rain’s just ended to another starry red night. I want to burn books and read them as they turn to ashes – I want to get mad and drown myself in something cold. I am fixing my words, and how I think I sound like I long for death but it’s hard, hard, so hard. I am simply alive and alone.
My hands crave for some new life – a television to flicker on by itself or the stars to explode into victory (in memoriam, aeternae). I exist only through a pulse, and I can’t feel it anymore. It’s under my skin, but I press fingers on it, not in it. Hands feel nothing, but the cradle of my skull feels so much more: a longing for motion, for some kind of change. Breathing is difficult and my heart does not care – fueled on by a sweetness I’ve not tasted in a millennia. The pulse is the sea, persistent and changing with the moon, but I feel alive.
This is not happiness. I don’t feel terror lying here. There is no anger, depression, excitement or free-falling emotion in this. Simply a pulse and a few words that are pushed forward by restless fingers. They are impatient, and they move without consent, moving, moving until I have felt nothing more than hunger. Craving movement, kinetics, and motion – a reason to feel this way, a reason for the rush of blood down the line of my chest, down the center.
There is no reason to this. I do not like it.
You’re 8 feet deep and no closer to drowning
when the old pool’s had another reclamation:
knotted between the fingers of spray-paint, a
bit of mold, and nature. A bit of water does no
harm when it’s facing the sky and old Persian
ceilings, though the splinters of empty desks
and chairs may slice at your feet as you walk–
the dip is empty of that old laughter that once
ricocheted past the windows at summertime.
But in the day, it’s easy to pretend that people
still swim around your head: there can be faces
and there can be summer when you’ve sat in
your smudged puddle and looked at your words
in blues, yellows, and reds. The cold of vanilla
on your tongue is ancient, though that doesn’t
stop you from seeing yourself fall from the board
and into the colder chlorine-water and down
your hair drifting over your shoulders and light
shifting above you.
The day is locked away in a tower
by night’s resolute torments—
it (always) waits to be saved, its soft skin
and its silken gown growing colder
with every fall of the sun.
A brave knight will slay
the night’s last dragons, and
he will climb the tower and the ivy,
his heart between his fingers:
he’ll gift it to the princess, and she’ll
give herself to him,
a rose for a rose,
and a sigh for a
And when darkness returns
just after the day’s skirts have
disappeared over the horizon,
the last nightmares will have at last gone:
only shadows trace their memory
and they need no mourning,
for they were never there.
It is only when knight and lady
have taken to the skies
and touched nebulae and stardust
so far from the golden earth,
when they have spiraled
towards the white canvas
beyond their hands and their fingers
and spun in dawn and color—
it is only then
that the world begins:
shrill voices downstairs,
old t-shirts and sneakers.
The day again trapped in a tower,
the night far behind,
the knight awake in his bed.
oh yes, indeed, she leads a very merry dance:
in my truest of hearts, i find that i can envy
any young girl who can make love to a name
and readily play a man’s heart like a fiddle,
in a gleeful disregard of any and all sense,
for a lingering gaze across the room.
indeed, it is from across the oak wood room
that you first see her red skirts twist in dance,
the sweet red wine leaving you without sense,
and her bright smile pricking me with envy;
it is to no one’s surprise that after you fiddle
with your cuffs, you advance and ask her name.
her bowed lips gift your ears with no name,
but behind that coquette, you leave the room,
with the incessant shrieks of a man’s fiddle,
and cheers as our patrons begin, again, to dance:
once more, i burn, and forevermore, i envy,
i crave your desire, your desire without sense.
she’ll lead you to the moonlit garden, i sense,
taking hostage your heart and her sweet name;
this tryst, dearest, is one thing all would envy:
the chance to sweep her skirts from the room,
to touch her red dress, to join that a merry dance
and to forget the ceaseless shrieks of a fiddle.
for a moment more, your heart she’ll fiddle:
something even the roses and the lilies can sense;
in the night’s silver glow, she’ll spin and dance,
and again leave you with no kiss and no name,
enkindled with mirth, skipping back to the room
to another man, drowning you only with envy.
they sigh no more, these ashes of envy,
they cease their keening with the fiddle
as, cheerless, you stand only by the room;
though i still desire and dream, without sense,
that you may one day ask for my name
that sometime, you’ll ask me to dance.
i desire your envy, your love, and a dance
to the fiddle’s shrieks; (i’ll even tell you my name)
and the room will spin: nothing will make sense.
The curtains are blue. They are fucking blue, and no one is going to tell him that they are a sign of his depression and the enormity of his intellect and calm. No, he isn’t fucking calm, he isn’t sad: the curtains are blue.
He sits in his grey chair, and no, it did not represent his dread and boredom with life, no sir. When the room lights up at his daughter’s entrance, it isn’t because she is his light, it was because she flicks the switch on her way in. There is a smell from the kitchen, and his wife, with her black curls and her red dress – she’s going out with her friends, a sign of the decline in their relationship, obviously – is stirring hearty soup in a pot.
She pours it, hearts and souls alike, into two bowls.
And then she leaves.
The television is on, and the books pushed open against the dining table. The light buzzes above them like the teenagers next door. He watches the news and his daughter looks at the stars, and they both burn their tongues on soup.
She takes a shower while he reads a book about impromptu fantasies that says that a man had once dreamed he was alive, and had discovered that this was true. Another dreamed of living, only to remember that he was not, and was in fact the main character of a story: he promptly fell into the cold plight of words. His life was brief, but so was his death.
Both men are stories now, remembered only by an author and a reader. One man is a word, and the word becomes mind-flesh and dream-blood in the weavings of cognition and recognition. For them, there is no leak in reality, not against the five-way mirrors that guarded existence: for him, it is the same.
And suddenly, the curtains aren’t quite so blue – they pale and they darken beneath the coat of aged dust. Touching them, he comes away dirty. The television and the soup remain by his side as his lovely wife in red smiles without him and his daughter sings softly beneath a steady jet of water. He sits before the television for a few more minutes, reasoning against the weight sinking to the sides of his eyelids. Retirement is easy.
When the lights are out and he is alone in bed, the colors blend together, and he realizes that he has become literature.