Gripping, unflinching, award-winning literature & art

Sexual History of a Girl

by

My first boyfriend was a boy named Steven Eriksson. He had blond hair and wore glasses of the same colour. We were in fifth grade. Another boy passed me a note to say that Steven liked me and would I go out with him. I said yes. I thought that was my only option. Other girls had boyfriends. They giggled about it at recess. My best friend Natalie was going out with a boy in secret. She refused to tell us his name. The only reason I knew was because Michael Antar said he was going out with a girl from another school named Desiree. Desiree was Natalie’s favourite name. So I knew she was her and he was him. They were together for the winter and broke up in the spring. Steven and I made it only a month. He never did talk to me, except once to say hi. When we broke up, I didn’t care. Fifth grade was like that.

The first boy I kissed was in a closet in seventh grade. His name was Matt. It was in the basement of this girl’s house and we had to go in together because of a game. I don’t remember the game but I do remember his lips. They were soft and wet and I thought they felt nice against mine. After the party he got together with my friend Crystal. They kissed all the time. He acted as though he hated me. At first I thought it was because of the closet, but after a while I started to believe that maybe he had always hated me. We’re friends on Facebook now. Growing up is like that, I guess.

My first real boyfriend was a boy named Nick VandenBerg. He was a year older than me and could grow a full beard when he was in ninth grade. Once he came to pick me up from school and the office staff thought he looked like the picture of a guy who was wanted for raping a bunch of women in a town close by. They brought him in and questioned him and called his mom, and I thought he had stood me up because I didn’t know and he wasn’t there when I finished class. It took him a whole week to tell me what happened. He was so embarrassed. I thought it was hilarious. It turns out, that wanted man ended up a serial killer as well as a serial rapist. His name was Paul Bernardo. I don’t think it’s funny now.

Nick and I dated for two years but never had sex. I let him touch me and put his mouth just about anywhere he wanted but always stopped short. I wondered why we never did. I think maybe we should have. That Nick VandenBerg would have been the perfect person to lose my virginity to. Instead, we broke up and I lost it to a boy named Scott behind the bushes during a high school football game a month later. We were high. I had met him at Arts Camp. He had brown hair and brown eyes and played the guitar and smelled like cologne and shampoo and toothpaste. We dated for a few months. Our relationship consisted of him calling me so I could listen to him strum invented songs, and sneaking into public places to have sex. We never really talked. We’re also friends on Facebook. He has a kid and lives up north now where it’s cold most of the year. Sometimes he sends me messages filled with videos of himself snowmobiling. It feels familiar.

After Scott I went through a phase where I only dated virgins. I was in tenth grade. It had occurred to me somewhere between Scott’s guitar playing and incomprehensible phone chatter that no matter what happened for the rest of our lives, I would forever be his first. I remember feeling very pleased with that idea. So I started collecting the virginity of other boys. Jeremy, then another Jeremy. Ken. Andrew. But not Nick. Nick had sex with a girl named Amber who had crushed on him the entire two years we had been together. She was so proud she glowed. So I punched her in the face. I hated that face. Nick and I didn’t talk for a long time after that. She was the only girl I ever punched. I wonder if she remembers me.

In eleventh grade there was a boy named Nate who all the girls liked and all the boys wanted to be like. Nate would put together these lists of the girls he was into and everyone would read the names and compare each other’s rank, only we didn’t call it rank and it felt like a game. In September I was number one. I had never been anyone’s number one before but I had always liked Nate. I let him have sex with me at a party in someone’s parent’s bed. I thought it was great. I thought he was amazing. I thought that I really needed to stop having sex with virgins because they never knew what they were doing and start having sex with Nate all the time. After, while we were laying there, he asked if it was my first time. When I said no he asked if I was sure. As though I might have forgotten. As though I might have lied. I wished the bed had turned into a giant hole and swallowed me so I didn’t have to pretend not to care that he thought I wasn’t good. In eleventh grade you were supposed to know what you were doing.

In February of that year Nate invited me over to watch a movie. He put on a version of The Muppets where all the characters had giant breasts and exposed genitals and fucked each other in every skit. I was high on acid. He sat on one end of the couch laughing, and I sat on the other reliving my childhood but replacing wholesome family TV nights with traumatic rape scenes. Kermit the Frog was definitely not supposed to put his dick inside Ms Piggy’s mouth like that.

In March Nate drew me a picture of two people that were attached, but seemed to be pulling away. The girl person was holding a heart and looking at the boy, while the boy person looked in the other direction and tugged on his hands, only his hands were stuck to hers and he couldn’t move. I thought it was sweet of him to draw me a picture. I thought we might be in love.

In April he got this girl named Renee pregnant and I never saw him again. Neither did she. Renee and I are friends on Facebook. She sometimes posts photos of their kid. He looks just like Nate.

After high school I worked as a bartender in a restaurant just down the street from my parent’s house. Wes was from Australia. He had broad shoulders and freckles and sandy brown hair and big blue eyes. He came in every day for lunch by himself. He wore a suit. He was fifteen years older than me. I thought he was perfect. When he asked me out I thought I was dreaming. I didn’t understand how such a beautifully put together man could be interested in someone like me. We had drinks together and flirted and he kissed me and I thought I might melt into a puddle right there in the street. He lived in a motel a few miles away. He had recently caught his wife in bed with another man and was in the process of re-evaluating his life. We would fuck for hours in that room, and on the playground equipment outside at three a.m. When people talk about where they were when the planes crashed into the towers on September eleventh it’s his bed I think of. I wonder if he went back to Australia.

When I turned nineteen I fell in love with a man named Christian who drove a fast car and liked to practice rally racing on the dirt roads outside town and snorting coke in the bathrooms of the local bars. He was twenty-seven. He touched me the way Wes used to, but was more available. I could take Christian home to my parents. I could never do that with Wes. Christian worked at a bar close to mine and we would meet up after our shifts. He was a vegetarian. I had never known a guy to be a vegetarian before. It was nice. I had been one since sixth grade. We would stay up until four a.m. watching movies and making toaster oven pizzas on the floor of his living room. In the morning he would make me coffee that was rich and thick and fill it with cream and sugar and together we’d read the paper and pretend we were grown ups before putting on our white shirts and black pants. Before slinging drinks for drunk college kids and retired alcoholics. Before doing lines off the back of the toilets in our respective bathrooms. I told him I loved him first and he didn’t respond. I’m not sure he ever responded. I’m not sure I noticed.

Christian had been engaged to a girl from Brazil who died of cancer. I never knew her. His family were friends with her family and they would travel down to visit regularly. That’s how they met. When we were together he had a picture of her pinned up on his wall. I wanted to rip it down. I hated that he still worshiped at that photo but I couldn’t say anything because she was dead.




When I was twenty I decided I needed to travel. I settled on Southeast Asia because it was cheap and the guide books made it seem exotic enough but still easy. When I told Christian I was going I hoped he would want to come too, but he didn’t. When I had to drive five hours to the Vietnamese Consulate because they had messed up my entry visa, he joined me. We slept in the car because we misjudged traffic and arrived at five a.m. He bought us coffee and bagels and sat with me while I waited and drove the whole way home and didn’t complain once. But when it was finally time for me to leave he made up excuses not to see me. He told me he didn’t have time. That he had made plans. That it wasn’t a big deal. I spent the night crying about not leaving, and loving him, and making a mistake, while my mom stroked my hair. He never did call. Or write.

While I was away I told myself I wouldn’t be distracted by men. I would focus on travelling and experiencing the culture and being present in the moment. I landed in Kuala Lumpur and made it up the centre and through the Cameron Highlands and across to Penang before I met G in Langkawi. He was part Malaysian and part Thai and lived on a huge sail boat and hated tourists but liked me and played guitar on the beach in the evenings and sailed his boat on the ocean during the day and I was completely caught up in what it might be like to stay there and be that, with him. There was an English girl who ran a breakfast bar on the beach who had blond hair and was married to a Malaysian man. She was eight months pregnant when I met her. I imagined myself as her every morning. When it finally came time to leave I played Portisehead on repeat and looked longingly out the window of the bus and pretended I was in love.

A few years later the island was hit by a tsunami. Nothing on the beach survived. I wonder if she made it. Or her child. Or if their bodies were among the bloated things washed up later, on another beach. Black from sun and ocean and death.

In Bangkok I met a girl named Freya who I had known on my first night in Malaysia. We were so excited to run into each other again that we celebrated by drinking our weight in beer. At two a.m. she decided she wanted pancakes and while we waited for them to cook, three men came up and grabbed Freya’s breasts. She was so drunk she didn’t know what was happening, but I did. I yelled at them. I punched one in the face and in retaliation he reached his hand between my legs and grabbed my vulva. They were tall. Thick. They felt like nightmare monsters with horns and tails and talons for hands. My punch had no effect. But the pancake vendor’s screams did. We ran while he shouted for police. I was so scared I cried. Freya didn’t remember anything. I hoped the vendor was safe. I hoped he knew what he had done for us. I wish I had asked his name.

Then there was Tim in Cambodia who helped me trap a giant spider in my room. We stayed in all night and half of the next day before he caught his flight back to Thailand. Then an English guy in Saigon who’s name I don’t remember because I was drunk and got my period in the middle of the night and had to take the walk of shame back to my room in the morning with the additional humiliation of being covered in blood. As though I had just fought a battle and lost. The only memory I have is his disgusted face when he realised I had bled all over him. It was the first time I’d had period sex and I didn’t even know. I ran into him again a few days later at a café but he pretended not to know me.

At the Full Moon Party I tried to hook up with a French-Canadian named Guy, but he was into some other girl. I got so high I passed out on the hammock outside my guest house and didn’t wake up for almost two days. I had to ask my neighbour what time it was. And then what day. I think something may have happened to me during that in-between time but have never been able to remember.

I follow Guy on Facebook now. He’s made a fortune renovating an old building into condos, so now all he does is travel and practice cheerleading. His profile is filled with photos of him holding up tiny women with one hand while standing on exotic beaches or mountain tops. He’s grown his hair out but on top he’s bald. I’d never be interested in sleeping with him now.

In Vietnam I met an American who was shaped like an upside-down triangle. He had a buzz cut and wore glasses so that he looked like a nerdy bodybuilder. His arms were so thick that when he walked they didn’t touch his sides but instead swung outward like a gorilla. He and I jumped into the ocean naked while all my things were stolen from the beach. He lived in Hawaii and knew about Buddhism and hated Bush and laughed all the time. When I left he wrote me everyday. He told me he was in love with me. I thought he seemed sweet.

When I got home Christian was waiting for me with flowers. As though nothing had changed. As though a year apart with no letters, no goodbye, no plans or talks or proclamations of love or ‘I’ll wait for yous’ meant that I should run into his arms the moment I landed. But I did. Until one day I woke up beside him and saw that he was fat from alcohol and cocaine and still living in his parent’s basement and working as a bartender and at twenty-eight had no plans or ambition. I couldn’t be sure I remembered him ever saying sorry. Ever admitting he cared for me. Out loud. Where I could hear it.

So I told him I was pregnant with another man’s baby and moved to Hawaii a few weeks later. The American was thrilled. Like he had won the lottery. He had no problem telling me how he felt. Everyday. About everything that crossed his mind.

His house had cockroaches and dogs that were covered in fleas and too many men and mattresses on the floor and sheets that hadn’t been washed in months. The floors were covered in sand and dirt and the walls had layers of oil from constant hand prints which turned the white paint a shade of stomach bile that made me cringe. He liked to hang upside-down from these ankle braces and do sit-ups from the roof beams. He was really into Shaolin monks. He carved out a corner in our room where he could stand on his head. He told me that the monks practiced head stands for hours everyday and that it was the key to a long life. That somehow standing on one’s head prevented aging. I spent a lot of time pretending I was somewhere else.

I started trolling Craigslist and dating sites and reconnecting with old boyfriends on social media. I began meeting strangers in dark corners and parked cars and hotel rooms just to feel something. I slept with my best friend’s husband. I slept with her too. I once answered an ad from a guy with a foot fetish who wanted to give me a pedicure. I went to his house and sat in his chair and let him wash my feet and paint my toes and was still when he put them in his mouth. When he licked my heel and calf and rubbed his cheek against my skin, I was fascinated. So fascinated that when he told me he was into more than just my feet I let him have sex with me even though he was fifty and I was twenty-four. Even though he had a huge nose and small eyes and chose to buy a guitar amp instead of going to Japan, which I thought was such a waste. Even though he spoke with a lisp and talked only of bands and albums and how much he hated his job. He spent a lot of time talking. I don’t even remember the sex. Or his name.

It turned out the American wasn’t oblivious to my indiscretions. While I was busy with strangers he had fallen in love with a woman at work. Together they coated everything we owned with their fucking. I knew this because I found the emails they sent each other in which they relived all the details of their affair. She was married. I wasn’t even mad. But I told her husband anyway. I thought he deserved to know. That maybe he would be relieved the way I was. That he could finally move on with his life. Only he really loved her and she loved him and my American was her mistake. He was mine too, I wanted to say.

When he left on a long trip I signed a lease to a new apartment and sold all our furniture and bought a new bed and a new couch and a new kitchen table and chairs. I left him with the mattress and his dirty sheets and his ankle braces and yoga mats. He was so upset when he returned that he pinned me to the bed and demanded I come home and when I ran he chased me through the street and when I jumped into our car to drive away he tried to open the door and get inside. The car was moving. In that moment I was more scared of him than I had been of those men in Thailand. Fortunately someone saw, and called the police. He spent the next two days in jail where he wrote me pages of rambling letters apologising and begging me to stay, on the back of sex offender forms. I keep them in a box in my closet.

When he was released from jail I let him come over and have sex with me using every toy and strap and device we had collected throughout our relationship. I thought that might make him feel better. Like we had closure. I pretended my body belonged to someone else. That I was just watching. When he left I made him take all the stuff with him. I didn’t want to see it again. Or him.

My best friend found out about me sleeping with her husband. So did the American. It turns out that email is a shitty place to keep secrets. They both decided they didn’t want me in their lives and changed their phone numbers and blocked me on social media before moving away. I guess I knew that might happen. I guess I knew the risks. I guess I deserved what I got.

I wondered what had become of Christian and Nick. Whether they had turned into something bigger than they were. I thought how nice it would be to see them again. How nice it would feel to lay down with either of them and just be still together. I thought about how I’d like to hear about their lives and their accomplishments. And I wondered if they ever thought of me. If they ever regretted not holding on when they had the chance. As though I were something elusive or ethereal. As though they desired either, still. Or ever.

Christian got married a few years ago to a girl from Colombia. I think that was my problem; that maybe his heart had always belonged in South America and he had just become a little lost before finding his way home again. Nick, a year or so later, married a girl who looks like me. Even her smile is tilted the way mine can be. They have a dog and a house and take family portraits on gravel trails in the woods which they both post as their profile pictures on Facebook. It makes me uneasy to look at them. It makes me feel sad and happy in the same way but for different reasons.

I stopped having sex last year for awhile. It was like quitting smoking. It left me with nothing to do with my hands and mouth and made me anxious for movement. I painted the walls and rearranged furniture and paced the hallways and the street. I signed up to do things and then cancelled because the burden felt too big, the commitment too real. I still got emails from strangers I met on Craigslist. I still got photos. I tried to ignore them, but it was nice to feel wanted. Desired. It was nice to know I was distracting men from their otherwise peaceful lives. It made me feel powerful and in control. It made me want to send my own photos and emails. But it didn’t make me want to have sex.

Sometime during that break I met a man at work who kissed me after I drove him home. I hadn’t thought of him like that. I hadn’t picked up any want from him, either. It felt impulsive. Like he was just doing it because he thought that’s what was expected. I told him to get out. I told him that he wasn’t wanted. But when I went home I thought about him. I imagined desiring him, imagined knowing him in a way that was meaningful. And for a few minutes while I sat alone in the dark pretending he was someone for whom I could have feelings, I almost did.



Disfiguration

by

She never paints herself covered in gold. The crash strips her naked. A sign-painter’s bright spilled dust gilds her bloody skin. She doesn’t die. She doesn’t heal. She hurts. She marries four years later at twenty-two, small and frail. He is forty-two, blunt and fat. He warns her he’s a womaniser. Her mother opposes; her father approves: her husband can afford her expensive medical care.

She is ambivalent about having a child. She has an abortion. They spend a frozen year in Detroit. Another abortion fails. She reluctantly continues the pregnancy, which ends in a hemorrhage. Lab coats.

The industrial and mechanical development of the United States interests her. Assembly lines. The behaviour of the wealthy enrages her. ‘It is terrifying to see the rich having parties day and night while thousands die of hunger.’ Machines.

Her paintings develop. The sharing of pain is an essential condition. The Detroit News headlines her interview “Wife of Master Mural Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art”. Appendectomy, two abortions, amputation of gangrenous toes. Lab coats.

 

 

The crash strips me naked. A surgeon’s spilled light gilds my bloody skin. I don’t die. I don’t heal. I hurt. I marry five years later at twenty-one, lush and strong. He is forty-one, tall and frail. My father consents; my mother resents: my husband can afford what she herself desires.

I am not ambivalent about having a child. I bear one prematurely. We spend two frozen years in Chicago. Another pregnancy ends in a hemorrhage. Lab coats.

The industrial and mechanical development of the United States envelops me. Assembly lines. The behaviour of the wealthy amazes me. It is shocking to see the rich having parties day and night while their children die of hunger. My husband sweats money beside me. Machines.

My sculptures develop. The sharing of pain is an essential condition. The Los Angeles Times headlines my interview “Wife of Master Financier Enjoys Attempts at Art”. Hysterectomy, lumpectomy, amputation of left breast. Lab coats.

 

 

Fight the power, others say, but I’m here to play. I keep my mutilations safe. An essential condition for dignity. From guns and baseball bats. From police. Assembly lines.

Sorted as I was sorted. Police won’t see me, a soul with a brief, beautiful body. Guns, baseball bats. Machines.

Sorted sliding into this world. A birth defect gushing through another birth defect’s birth defect. The operating theater’s always lit. Lab coats.

Pierced and torn until spent and harmed. Another. Another. Assembly lines.

A flawed fitting to shape and cut, a faulty mechanism moving toward a terrible crash. Machines.

Spilled fierce light. Blood stuck to bright dust. I don’t exist. I never have.

I have nothing to say and I am saying it.

Covered in gold.



Shooting Waters

by

Aimar plays shooting waters with a bag with a tiny hole in the corner and a puddle swished up into it. He holds the top tight and squashes it, aiming the spray at the blue plastic on his and Joram’s tent. The water bleeds down the side, little dribbles.

‘Hey, Joram,’ he calls.

Surely Joram has heard the spurt of the water against the plastic. Surely he is crouching behind the black canvas which hangs over the doorway, giggling.

‘Joram, you scoundrel.’

Still no noise. Aimar stoops to scoop what’s left of the puddle and as he rises his trousers come away from the string holding them up. The lady from Germany brought the trousers, just after the barbed wire had been laid across the roads and fields. She held them up against him, pushed her fingertips with the fabric into his sides as though it mattered that they reached half-way round him.

‘Thank you,’ he said and whatever she replied he didn’t understand so he looked away, not wanting to see if she was angry or sad. But she went on talking as though he were three instead of thirteen and that made him stare even harder at the police.

Aimar is taller now and thinner. The trousers don’t stay up and, when he squats, they come away at the back so that he is forever holding the material to stop people looking. But that is fine, since the trousers are his and no one will mind as he was given them by one of the German ladies who came and went.

He reaches behind and hitches the waistband over the string.

‘Jooooooraaam!’ He lines up the corner of the bag again and removes his finger from the pin prick hole as he applies pressure with his elbow. This time he doesn’t let the water all land in one place; instead he writes out his name across the sheet. The wind blows and he shivers. When the lady came, he waved away the coat she offered. It was hot then, as hot back in Homs. How could he know then that they would stop here forever and the wind would arrive bringing wet and snow? And still the lorries don’t stop, and the trains whoosh on past to Budapest as though they are frightened of him and Joram. An elephant frightened of an ant. A man frightened of a baby.

No response from the tent. No judder of the canvas from inside. No rat-a-tat-tat banging against the plastic to indicate that Aimar should go away since Joram has someone with him, someone Aimar must not see but who he would see later anyway. A man from Libya or Sudan. A man who leaves food which Joram shares with Aimar.

‘He go.’

Aimar turns. This man is tall and thin and has that Somalian face.

‘Soldiers come,’ the man says. ‘You not hear?’

Aimar had been shouting through the fence with the others in the morning, before sneaking off to the woods for a shit, his first in two weeks. It had been a good shit, a great long one. He felt lighter, relieved, ready to wander for an hour or so along ditches and through a snicket where he found this bag.

‘Everyone go in a bus,’ the Somali says. ‘I hide.’

Aimar smiles but his smile is a trick. He is not going to fall for any false charm from a man telling him a whopping great tale. Joram wouldn’t have gone, not without Aimar.

‘Liar.’ He drops the smile.

‘Tell them you’re a boy, or they put you in a container. No windows.’ The man from Somalia glances around like this is a foreign place, not somewhere they have waited for a year. ‘Everyone here is a boy now. You be one too. Maybe then they put you in a house not a camp.’

The Somali backs away.

‘Where have they taken him?’ Aimar calls but the man turns and lopes towards the railway track.

The bag has leaked down the front of Aimar’s trousers. He throws it on the mud. His name on the blue plastic sheet has merged into a damp smear, little droplets running out of substance. Around him there is no noise of rustling, no murmurs, no shouting. When Joram was here to call Aimar by his name, he was someone. Now he is alone with the wind, he is nobody.



Soul Cries in the Wilderness

by

The old man’s boots are strung by their laces, hung on the neck of the guitar case resting on his knee. He’s on a bench at the bus station, waiting. I’m in a queue three stands away. He waves me over like a rich man summoning a butler but his feet are bare.

‘You look like you need to sit,’ he says, and slides along the bench. Above him electric lights crackle.

I’m confused because I’m young, healthy, and not tethered to a toddler. Why should I need to sit? His beard is square cut, old-time grey. I’ve never seen him before and he’s right: I’ve been six hours waiting tables, and my bus is half an hour away. Nobody notices that.

Being offered a seat calls for conversation. ‘Your bus due?’ I say. It’s the best I can do.

His shrug is exaggerated; puppet strings pulled by drink. Two buses come and go and he’s not waiting for public transport.

‘Then what’re you doing here?’

He wiggles his toes. ‘It’s nice to be around people living to a timetable.’ He pulls a silver hip flask from his coat, unscrews, swigs, and hands it my way. I know it’s scotch before it reaches my lips. He’s given me a seat and a shot and I relax on the bench. We’re not strangers; we’re humans who haven’t known each other long.

He takes back the flask and stashes it. There’s a square, purple bloom on the back of his right hand.

‘Where did you get that bruise?’

‘I hit a man,’ he says.

I wince; as a youth, he’d have had a solid punch.

‘We was talking, and I didn’t like what he was saying, so I hit him.’

I nod. I don’t say, That isn’t a knuckle bruise, but maybe he hears.

‘And then his dog bit me.’

He rubs a scab, a bite with corners. I’m sorry for him and I take his hand and kiss the bruise.

‘Now we’ve both got rabies,’ I say, but he’s not listening, distracted by his other
senses.

‘Well, wasn’t that lovely.’ He sits up, eyes sharper, and pulls the guitar case over his knee. ‘Can I sing you a song?’

I know he’s been playing for years by the way he tunes the guitar. His ear is clearer for notes than conversation. But he sets about strumming chords and his hand is shaking, fingers unable to form the shapes on the fret board. He manages a tune, something simple, and croons. A few coins fall into the open guitar case at his feet. He keeps the music going like it’s easier to talk that way, ‘That’ll buy me a little more,’ he says.

‘More what?’ I ask, but I’m intruding, talking over the music.

He coughs. ‘My lungs’ve had it.’ He hugs the guitar, but his hands don’t stop trying. There’s still a tune. ‘Cancer’s spread from one to the other.’

He wails. A single note, distinct from the crooning and it goes deep. His hands fail and the music stops. I stand and take the guitar, put it away. I hand him the coins.

‘Do you want help with your boots?’ I say.

‘What for?’ He stands. ‘Don’t need shoes where I’m going.’ He points. ‘Is that your bus?’

My ride’s pulled in. I don’t want to leave. ‘Are you going home?’

‘I’m going somewhere.’ He grins. His teeth are black and broken.

The queue for the bus is getting smaller. If I stay, it’ll be an hour’s wait, and I’m back again tomorrow for another shift.

I hug him. My arm across his back, my fist between his shoulder blades. I squeeze so hard our bodies blur. Nothing I’ve felt before—like I’m useful and not a waitress in a grimy burger bar. As if my young cells are slipping into his old body, replacing his diseased ones, and a hug is the only cure he needs.

From the bus I see him walk, unsteady, into the station, his boots swinging from the guitar case. He’s not there the next night, or any night, and I stop believing a hug can heal. That’s not nature’s way.

Instead, I collect everything I remember, from one night, one kiss and a swig of whiskey. His leather-thick soles, bunion on his right foot, thin blue eyes and soft grey hair. The resonant cut of his cry. And I begin to grow him on the inside.



The Synesthetics of Silence

by

To make silence more palatable for you, she sweetens it. And gets immediate results. The next day, you’re sitting beside her on the gritty shoreline of Red Shell Beach just as you have many times before, but now with absolutely no conversation between you and her. You say nothing of it being too quiet, of this feeling awkward, of this being boring. Instead, you delight in the notes of maple syrup and coconut mixing with the hypnotic surf that seem now to stroke the shores of your mind.

Soon you’re asking for more, craving her silence for the sweetness she has infused it with. This eagerness to partake in silence is exactly the kind of result she was hoping for. Now she can gradually reduce the sweetness, encouraging you to acquire a taste for unadulterated silence—to develop, hopefully, an appreciation of the nuances within different kinds of quietness.

Over the following weeks, as she dials back the sweetness, you notice the character of her silence changing, but you mention nothing about this.

Until your senses discern a substantial shift.

‘Your silence has a firm softness to it, like thick velvet is draped over us. There’s also a slight purpleness to it,’ you tell her after a thirty-minute session at the Hamrockery, where you just lay wordlessly next to each other in swaying hammocks—yours set to “sluggish,” hers “only slightly.”

She’s stunned by your words. They defer her delight that at last she can spend time with you lounging here without chitchat or music.

My silence doesn’t have those sorts of tactile and chromatic qualities, she thinks. I’d know by now if my silence were like purple velvet.

But, afraid that disputing your claims would be off-putting, she says nothing.

While in the kitchen making dinner that evening, she thinks over your remark and becomes convinced that what you described was a hallucination; your other senses must be overcompensating for the diminished sweetness. She concludes that once you’re accustomed to silence without additives, these sensations will subside to leave you with the subtleties of plain silence. Glimmers of contentment. Undercurrents of subdued exuberance. Mellow existential wonderment. Transient wholeness. Dreamy nostalgia.

But you continue to comment on aspects of her silence that she has never experienced: hints of cardamom and lemon, twinkling specs like tiny brassy fireflies, fleeting tassel-y tingles, wafts of humid air.

So she pays closer attention to the silence she shares with you, in case there’s something to what you’re saying.

Then, noticing nothing akin to what you’ve described, she starts experimenting with the composition of silence, in attempts to amplify any faint sensations she hasn’t picked up on. Systematically she tests a variety of modifications. A dash of ennui, a pinch then a sprinkling more stillness, a smidge then a thrush less self-absorption, a twist of worldly detachment.

Still, she feels none of the sensations you’ve reported, but she does begin to find fragments of stories within the silence. Glimpses of who peruses the catalogue of inconsequentials and how the bay of attention fills as the tide of workplace drama comes in. Why being a patience coach is such an important profession. When to go sit for a spell in the dreaming chair. What happens when ego pumps become commonplace.

Maybe you’re on to something here, she muses. Maybe I’ve just been wading in the shallows all this time. Or have I been too far out to appreciate the shoals?



Megaphysics

by

Few are really aware of
such universes
existing beyond our own

Even fewer of so many other versions
of selfhood living
in each of them, let alone
this simple secret:

At the depth of consciousness
lives a quantum
Por soul as we prefer to call it
a particle, demon and/or angel dancing

the same dance afar, far apart
in an entanglement



Epiphany

by

When I woke in the night,
saw the stars suffocating
in heavy blackness, I prayed
again my wordless, dry-heave
of a prayer for him to live
but there was no echo, no
bottom to the well where
my coin would land and
sound back up hope.
There was no God,
only this bottom of a well
and the fathomless
space up above, crushing,
smothering me.



Compilation of Light Hitting Objects

by

against the many leavesPuttt & broken
twitching scintillaPutttttttttttttttttt on asphalt.
Jumping
Ptttttttttttttttcar roofs &
back to the
streetPttttttttttttt in flakes
ofPtttttttttttttttttt glowing dandruff.

————————————————–

pastedPtt toPtttt thePtttt midnightPtttt wall

fillingPttt softPtt thePtttt room asPttttt if inhaling

a flickerP ofPttitt almostPtttiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit blue.

—————————————————

across the bed;—A Flood of Honey—
what must happen when god looks
anywhere for too long.

—————————————————

stuck
Ptttttttttttttttttin

Ptttttttttttttttttwindow-pane
rose-gold;

frosted PttttttttttttttttasPtttttttt a

PttttttttttttpartialPttt thought.



Birds upon Threshold

by

We stand upon the meadow,
(amongst the wild-flowers), gazing at

the Moon — and we sway,
(as though enchanted), wave after wave —

coursing, through our hearts / our eyes:
wide, to the silvery light; our

hands: touch the night / how
breath arrives, and breath departs, (true

to Its spiraling Nature) / how: bare-feet
hold firmly — the silent ground /

Now: an extension of our Voice,
(a whisper), set upon the aire — to care,

to care! / these [ ] disappear —
Pia Copper, drop’d in-

Pttttttto The Well.



We Danced

by

at last, we sang
within an orchard — each radiance,

Piiito cast a voice
of Harmony, about the stilléd land /

each leave and ev’ry orb, the silent
Piiiaire and sudden

water — raining from the cosmos /
Piiiwet faces, wet

bodies, nude we sang: our chest
Piiiof rivulets,

Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiibeads of (rain)-
Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiwater, naked feet descendent

Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiithrough a slowly
Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiflooded plaine — (rain)-water

Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiat the ankle / oh!
Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihow we sang . . . and oh! how

Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiwe danced!



1 2 3 4
0 $0.00
Go to Top