A Poem For Jealousy

31 10 2006

for lovers and those who love

a jealous heart
only jealous of the time,
or one person,
or just a few,
or no one at all,
envies the paper you
write to
in secret-
so privately
and lovingly and teasingly,
so empty am I,
a poor heart with no
eyes or ears, naught but
or suspicion,
whichever way you see it,
I can only be love.

For Sarah

25 10 2006

A Girl Writer

If I died would you blame me,

Sarah read this poem by the bench where we’d grown up, spending summers counting down to our last; she was my sister, but she never complained or hurt me, or stole my dolls or my boyfriends. I was her little Marie. She’d left for college, of course, but even now I can see her on our front porch, dreaming of more, better, pink suns falling over distant beaches. Sarah was not just a writer, she was a girl. A girl more a girl than I’d ever be; she would glide almost effortlessly, gracing the front steps of only the best young men I’d ever know. Beautiful hair, too – but that’s beside the point; she was a girl that Cosmopolitan only tried to emulate and capture. Sometimes I wondered about the story behind the poem, who wrote it and stuff. I asked her once about the little slip of paper in her copy of Sunrise, Sunset; she fell to the floor, and beneath the delicate, shivering folds of pink satin my sister cried.

Just curve a little – fall away,

Sarah was never much for growing up; and I’m concerned she’s still fifteen inside. I visited her at the Ivy with mother yesterday; the summer light spilled over onto some early falling leaves covering the grass and I knew that behind these walls were people, but still I felt that they were not real in a sense – they all had their fifteen year old selves sleeping and waking. And between it all was Sarah, and it was like there was a Kennedy in the air, you could taste the intangible prestige (the worst kind, mother says). She glowed like a girl and salvation was only so far away. The boys knew it too; mother wouldn’t look at them, but I could see something divine reflected in their eyes.

Could you hate my tender eyes,

Beneath the bench there is a collection of short stories Sarah wrote in her darkest hours. Whenever I felt on the brink of something awful, when the color drained from the photographs in my memory, I could turn to her in secret. I wrote notes sometimes, as someone must have written the original poem into one of her stories. I read her stories and discovered her secret; I felt that psychotic pull towards the gray of life. I knew what sadness was, and against that, what joy was. I am not like her, but more than her in secret, a pool of potential waiting to wake up.

Or save me from my little lies.

On the floor of her college dorm I saw that she had grown up. Something occurred in me as I stretched out there on those hardwood planks and my Marie and I stole away from the life I could no longer be a part of. Floating above my family, watching their movements, little soulfilled tears forming suddenly, I turned to Marie and asked if we could go back. She looked into Sarah’s eyes and so did I, wondering how suddenly I stopped, and we saw her break too. I reached towards my dying body, understanding that I was as much the light of her life as she was mine. I gripped my still-warm hands and cried into them invisible, so invisible, to my Sarah and my mother. When I woke up beneath the rose-red glare of hospital lights and mother, I felt in my hand Sarah’s note; a poem maybe or some secret. And we knew I’d lost Marie.

Piano keys are playing here,
I sense your grace, the smell
The taste, and your atmospheres.

In Transit

10 10 2006

Sitting at the subway station, I notice that there is a surreal amount of tragic hope in his eyes. Like as if the grays have finally bled into his life. And where once I was innocent, now I know him and I am in part responsible. I feel like he’s hiding something. Like behind his concrete eyes, maybe he knows the reason behind living. Then I wonder if he’s ever read the news about the boy who was stabbed twelve times down by the pier; I might have had a chance to ask him, I could share a secret, maybe trade.

We know he’s not the killer, though, for several reasons. 1. He’s too sad; murderers are usually proud, sophisticated, and smiling. 2. He looks suicidal, not homicidal. 3. I dated the man for four years, knew him since high school. Nick, (or Nicolas Benedetto if you’re that curious). To start off with more facts, 4. We got married in the spring of ’97. 5. We never had kids (he was happy for that). 6. I haven’t really dated since. I could hear the subway train coming, and I wondered about the chance nature of our little encounter. And I could hear it coming; this reminded me to look at him, but I changed my mind’s mind, grabbed his hand and kissed him – pure surprise.

It was a few seconds, life reborn, with a dawn a sunset anew, like coffee-cups with sugar, yellow glow melting us, people all around blurring to non-existence, us and only us, alive, standing and more standing, like twenty or forty dates all again, like life, just like it, in a few seconds. But I knew it was a stolen moment, tragic in its birth, sunset on the horizon. I saw the ring on his finger, I must’ve known – oh but how easily, so willingly forgotten.
My flight back was the next day; and right now I am passing over some barren state nonstop towards LAX, to see Eric. I’ll never forget the subway scene, or what he did to me afterwards; Eric is my current obligation. Both Eric and Nick would be good for me; and now that I know I should never take Nick back, I should develop a thing with Eric, right? It wouldn’t work out, so .. Eric?

But Eric isn’t Nick. Eric’s different; you’d know him as the ‘Harborside Killer.’ I know what you’re thinking. You think, “Lady you’re out of your goddamned mind, leave him and find someone else.” But you don’t understand Eric. You may never. There is such a passion to his love, not abusive, but alive and strong in its caffeinated midday glory. Eric is not a killer, he is a person. The act was one thing, his life is another. He’s struggled to pay for his mom’s healthcare costs by working two jobs. He worked his way through Yale, but he’s never put that on a single job application. Some kind of honor thing. Honor means a lot to him I think; his father used to beat him three times for every mistake, one for disgracing Eric, once for disgracing the family, and another from God.

We’re about to land now. Being with Nick again was pure ecstasy. The wholeness of our encounter, the dissolution of me into the many, like a melody that transcends life itself. Against the palpable beauty of becoming tabula rasa, Eric feels like an enchanted drug with his artificial tones of remorseless existence. I am still not sure about what happened with Nick back East. I know what will happen with Eric, what always happens. I’ll see Nick again. And if it can’t be my Nick then maybe another. So I could feel life once again. The hope of it loose under my skin like a thousand subways carrying it to every part of me.

[note: read twice] [composed on a plane flight in a little black book]

Ice Like Sky

4 10 2006

My psychology textbook reads to me: “To survive, we must know the world around us.” People ask why my stories are depressing; if they could defend themselves, and I am sorry that they in themselves cannot, they would say that they are not sad, but instead real. And in that reality, there is a tangle of light and dark, suppressed joy, limited sorrows. Life is far more suited to sadness; maybe we need to take a deep breath, swallow our pride, accept life’s flaws –that it is innately flawed, and instead seek out the glimpses of perfection that sometimes bleed through the smog. A friend, though I haven’t seen him in so long and he doesn’t respond to my correspondence, once told an English professor of mine, who in turn passed on to me, that he would be content if for just five times in his life he was completely happy. To reach nirvana five times and to descend again. Strange, so strange, so miserably painful, to pass through the years of college. English was a good class (reminded me of high school, except we bought more books, spent less time talking, more time listening). When we write stories, or when we share them out loud over a dying campfire beer in hand with the moonlight eroding into sunlight friends all around yellow haze little fireflies, we have an audience, right? That audience we share with, they the listeners, are touched throughout life by experience. So really a story is just one person’s life trying to cross that gap, the space between, to someone else.

I’m always talking about relationships in stories; the bitter joy of a relationship with another. And so I’ve covered something of a range of “events”: adultery in the woods, a lesbian looking for sense and sensation, a lover looking on at a relationship consumed by fire in the distance, and a girl looking for anything. I have not quite yet explored relationships gone stale, maybe that’s worth going into. Passion lost, however, is not quite as interesting (as happy) as passion found. So I try, but of course, reality sets in and everyone rolls their eyes at my stories. My girlfriend, too, sighs at the stories. “Is this one about me,” she asks. “No, but it’s based on you.” Stories approach reality. And that depresses my readers, my fragile and tired audience. But I’m there too, I’ll finish a story and if I engaged it, I cannot remember how it began, so I read from the beginning. And I don’t want a sad story – my life is enough a sad story, just like everyone else’s. But it has to be real, so when we want a happy story, we really only hope for an escape or at best a nirvana-moment. Relationships are just a platform to explore the monotony of life.

I watch a mother leave her crying child in the alley behind my row. Something in my mind brushed a smile onto her face, some pleasure of the strong washing over her sin. I could not care to listen to her cries mixed with the infants’, instead I shut my window. Disappointed in the thoughts I had read upon her face, I began my attempts at rationalizing her motives. She somehow became detached from the crime itself, and when the police came hours later this is all I could recall. Some pleasure of the strong washing over her sin. I could not identify her. She became another story. And it is in the gaps we divide ourselves with that we find ourselves lost in, looking for life – a fully fleshed, joyous and colored in, intelligent life, one painted in the moment.

Just like a mother can so willingly abandon a child, I too, often abandon my craft, my stories. I let them out, never speaking on their behalf (like every author that maintains their own view of a story but accepts and encourages every one to come up with their own, just because it sells more books if they’ve got to try to get it on their own). And everyone to some extent has to let go of their product, or else they get consumed by it; parents know this lesson best of all. And children too, if they can flee the sanctity of impenetrable innocence, if they allow themselves to be poisoned by maturity (it’s both a blessing and a curse), if they choose to see life for what it is (a teeming swamp of failure attempting to save itself from the dredges) instead of what it might be (a swimming pool where everyone gets their fair share and people ask first before jumping in and no one eats less than thirty minutes before getting in). So to grow up, to embrace story, to embrace what we feel is both never true and potentially true, to embrace sadness and look at it not as some morbid fascination with the negative but instead as a genuinely positive perception of what life is, to embrace such a view and learn from it, to do these things, that would be a lot of growing up, and from what I’ve seen, the adult world has a long way to go.

So thanks to my girlfriend because yes, our problems were sometimes cast in slantways light so that I could record (for myself and others maybe too) what was real to me at a time in my life. Thanks to my dad, for giving me the best lie (or double-talk) I could learn from, that we can be optimistic in looking at every potential problem. Thanks to my mom for teaching me that no one wants to read my stories, but that some will do it out of obligation. And thanks to everyone who’s come up to me and shared how depressing my stories are, and have, out of sheer kindness, worried for my life – for you who have stressed about my depression, thanks. I have only embraced the depressions of life, I promise – nothing more, and am wholeheartedly content in knowing my humanity (my depravity?). To more people, so many more, from whom I’ve borrowed incidences of your lives, thank you and sorry and I-hope-it-all-worked-out and a million little emotions I can’t explain; I’ve used your lives as both a canvas and a mirror.

I’m at a turning point in life, another disillusionment from the inside, from which I’m unsure where everything is going. Part of me wants to sort it out in a sudden collectively perfect day, like I used to back when I was younger (back when I could?), but part of me knows it will be sorted out in odd ways knee-deep in a substance I can feel but not understand. And I’m fascinated by the liquid, could it be life, could I drown in it, or could I breathe it, could I escape and walk above it, or float, or rinse my face, is it clear or sticky, and most of all, a question that should put our post-modern sex lives on hold: is it right to introduce someone else to this, can you ethically reproduce without having sorted out what life is or means, or at least whether or not life is honestly worth living. If I could, you know, go back to being a soul and nothing more, just an angel floating above watching people cry, smile, live, I would. But in pursuit of putting on a good show, I go on, for those lucky enough not to live and those who have suffered enough that they’ve stopped living. Maybe this reads like a suicide note to you, but take it instead as a letter, maybe not a “happy” one, but a real one, from me to you, from a friend, a living friend willing to look at life for everything everyone’s prepared an excuse for; I’m against cynics, inside I’m so much the Romantic: feeling is everything, feel the sad, feel that happy, but feel it all at once, let it dance in the icy skies.