Monday, June 27, 2016

Incarceration, institution, or death.

...and I'm already two for three. 

Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing...

But I need to confess. To someone, anyone, I need to tell the real story of how it happened. I don't know if I just need to get it off my chest, or maybe I want someone to know what I'm really capable of. Maybe I want to test the age old adage that the truth will set you free. 

Does that still apply when the truth is something dirty and awful?

Probably the most dominant emotion I have, ever-present and tyrannical, is shame.





I am embarrassed. I am humiliated. It's like I banished myself to the depths of my own dungeons, but with just a wing and a prayer, I began to hope for a way out, began to forget that this darkness around me was no ones fault but my own. 

When I built this penitentiary, my single-cell Supermax, I lined the walls with my greatest fears. I hung every charge against me like Tiger Beat posters in a teen girl's room. Hundreds of thousands of pictures and words, overlapping each other and hugging every visible inch of my cage. Evidence. Every scrap of damning evidence, a mosaic of memories, bore witness to my sins. If you stood in the dead center of it all, you could see them as parts of a whole, illustrating the crime I've been convicted of.


I am a fraud.
And I am guilty.

But ever so subtly, as I carried out my sentence, my weaknesses began to get the better of me. My hopes and fantasies, wishes I never even bothered to wish, began to knit themselves together and take shape. Giant wings formed and stretched themselves wide, covering the tapestries I'd placed to keep myself locked away. They unfolded themselves to reach their full open span, muscles rippled under the countless white feathers and grew stronger by the minute.

It practically writes itself, really, this pathetic story...

When the demons who secured my prison were blocked out by the guardian angel my dreams pretended to be, I forgot about them entirely. I started to believe in my distractions, my delusions, they were all I could see. I constructed my totem carefully, forming an idol that gave shape to all those things I forbid myself to say. And then I took that last, tiny step off the edge of reality, and fell face first into what was, essentially, a scarecrow. The next natural thing was to breathe life into it. This imaginary cell mate I created was just to keep me company in my solitude, but I poured so much of my soul into it I began to lose my perspective. It took that one breath I gave it and awoke with a start, gathering me up in strong angel arms to carry me up and out of darkness, gaining momentum with powerfully flapping wings. Each fluffy white feather was a pretty white lie I told myself to escape an eternity reliving my mistakes.

I almost made it out alive, too.


But that wasn't really freedom I thought I was heading for. The bright orb above me I willed those lie-covered wings towards was the harsh light of reality, and as we flew closer I felt it like the heat of the sun, scorching the pristine white feathers. Just like that, I plummeted all the way back down to where I started, a whirlwind of smoke and flames trailing after. Those wings, those beautiful wings, were nothing more than white feathered lies that danced as they fell, burning all the while, before settling on me as a blanket of dull gray fluff.

Its not that the walls weren't high, I had built them as high as I could, and they appeared to have risen impossibly higher as I looked all the way up the length of them from the heap I'd collapsed in when I hit the cold, hard floor. The regrets and reminders I'd plastered all over them weren't just condemning me anymore, they mocked and jeered at my attempt to fly the coop. I was breathless. Injured. Immobilized. There wasn't anything left to do but lay as a few wispy gray tufts continued their descent like snowflakes, burying me in the ashes of each white feathered lie that had gone up in flames.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

a waiting room to purgatory.

I am the teeth rotting out of your face. 

I am the ghost that haunts their empty space. 

the secrets hiding in your mouth, held and chewed and kept at bay. 

those bones that creak, the lies you speak,

it's me. 

it's me. 

it's me. 

every night I pray at the edge of that grave, which for some reason, no one has ever bothered to fill. it occurs to me ever so briefly that maybe I'm the one who was supposed to fill it, but then the thought is gone. 

my knees pressed into the mud, my hands to the sky, "help me!" I beg her. "what do I do now that you've left me here? what do I do without you?"

I'm here, she whispers as the dry leaves flutter around me. Its me, she says, as rain falls into my upturned palms. when she was alive, when she was here, when she was the girl I went to hell for and stole her back from the devil himself, she had eyes like fog and needles. 

she had eyes like the dead.

but I believe she still saw me. I had to.

she had arms like a sieve but she still held me, tighter than I've ever been held. 

I know she's here. I know the sun that creeps up over Death Knoll has her in it. I know the wind that bites and nips my cheeks is her. but I can't let go of who she was, who she used to be. I always said she was too beautiful for this world and I stand by it, I do. I'm sure now that she breezes from heaven and earth and back she's in a much better place. I know she's happier. it's why her words are gentle. it's why the lavender air is so faint you'd hardly notice, if you weren't expecting it. 

but FUCK her. what about me?

when the warmth from the morning wakes me up graveside, a brand new day filled with promise, I beg her to come back. if anyone can do it she can. 

it's because I love you, the dew (her) tells me. I can finally show you now. 

I turn my face. I want to hide. I hate the sun. 

but now, the birds chirp (her), the sun never stands still. you have mornings, noons, and nights. you have everything you wanted. everything you asked me for. 

maybe I didn't steal her from the devil after all. maybe we struck a deal. yes I wanted days and nights, I wanted sun and warmth and life and stars and love and hate and oh... but I wanted them with her. 

after everywhere I went for her. after all the people I was for her. after every despicable, disgusting thing I did, the gallons of blood I washed off my hands for her, I had hoped I would have something to show for these scars besides the fucking sunrise. 

nobody likes to watch the sunrise alone. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ENC1101- 6/2012 midterm

Most situations speak to a particular side of the affected, calling out to either their good or bad qualities.  When one’s good qualities are more dominant, they tend to be called on more often.  The higher the percentage of positive traits to negative ones, the higher the likelihood that they will control the outcome.  But this isn’t set in stone, and it’s not always the case.  If an event speaks to your less dominant side, sometimes that part of you just answers, whether you give it leave to do so or not.

            I believe in friendship, in camaraderie.  I believe in loyalty.  I believe we can only face a single direction in a given moment, and that it’s up to us to look out for each other.  It’s up to us to protect one another from the threats that attack from directions we can’t see.  Once upon a time, my #1 sidekick, my first choice in who I would share my foxhole with, fell prey to drugs.  The rumors had been flying for months, every time one hit my ears was like the deafening crack of enemy fire. Under shelter of our friendship, I hid from the attacks, sticking my neck out from the barricade every now and again to hurl my rebuttals.  I fought long and hard, constantly on the defensive, but it seemed like we were surrounded on all sides.

            Eventually the shelter began to give way, and under constant bombarding the stronghold of our union began to crack.  I turned to my counterpart, frantic and desperate, hoping he had back-up ammunition to return fire with because I had long since run out.  But when I finally faced him, I didn’t see what I was expecting.  He wasn’t on the other side of our base, at the ready.  He wasn’t waging the same war I was. He had curled up on the floor, numb to the constant attack on the shelter I had given my heart and my reputation to protect.  What happened next shames me to this very day.

            For all my conviction on the subject of loyalty, for all the strength I believed myself to possess concerning the matter, I abandoned him too.  Once I realized I was the only one of us fighting, I turned and left, waving my white flag of surrender.  I like to think that I was shell shocked, that I had fought to the point of exhaustion and that my decisions were no longer my own. The fact is, I was weak.

            Once the truth came out, which it inevitably does, I dropped those convictions.  I like to think it was in an effort to distance myself from unsavory behavior and potential downfall, but the reality is I turned traitor because I felt betrayed.  My weakness was my vulnerability, and I let my broken heart overshadow the fact that my friend’s life was in danger; he was in need.

            For a time, I joined the other side, firing off insults and throwing grenades built of malice and spite. But after awhile, I realized he wasn’t defending himself, he never fought back.  The mortally wounded, as it happens, often don’t.

            Not long after that, I came to my senses and found myself again.  I went back and looked for him.  I dragged him out of that ditch and nursed him back to health.  With the civil war over and our little social web quiet on all fronts, we let bygones be bygones.  In every war, there are casualties, and there are friendships that never recovered from the battles that shook us all.  But for the most part, we, most of us, forgave each other our trespasses.  It took much longer for me to forgive myself.  I can’t say with certainly that I ever really did. 

            Our friendship resumed.  It picked up where we left off, and never again have I doubted in his loyalty, and thankfully, nor he in mine.  We’re better friends now; we’re better people for living through the fallout of that year, but I haven’t forgotten when I let my weakness leave a fallen soldier behind.  I’m sure I never will.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

possession is nine-tenths of the law

when a person dies, they may stay in spirit, if their business is unfinished enough.

if their energy is strong enough, they could speak to the living. 

and every once in a great while, if all the stars align and that spirit has enough to say, they may even inhabit some broken, empty person they left behind.

her words out of my mouth. 

her thoughts in my head. 

she's inside me. 

I can't pinpoint what happened. maybe during one of those endless funeral services, one of those many cold, still nights when I stood over that hole in the ground, maybe that's when it happened. maybe all the accusations I hurled woke her up. maybe the countless barbs I shot hooked under her electromagnet ribcage and ripped her from that bruised petal body, forced her through the spaces in those cheap, unfinished pine slats and back up to the surface. maybe my sobs and tears, my whimpers and moans, lured her upright on the edge of that abyss to stare me down, eye to eye, nose to nose. maybe my desperate gulps for air drew her into a mouth propped open with a long, drawn out scream sounding vaguely like her name. maybe my eyelids, clamped shut in an attempt to slow the drips and drops of wet, salty grief locked her in here with me. 

maybe I held tight, with a churning stomach and ripe, gripping lungs, as desperate to hold her as I ever was. 

or maybe that wispy, willowy, angel's breath soul had been with me since the day I cut her heart out. maybe I stole them both together, greedily hoarding them under my skin so I wouldn't be without her even though I was walking away. 

maybe every funeral I attended, every night I inched my toes over the edge of that seemingly bottomless pit, every  insult I spat onto a splintery, nameless box was an effort to exorcise her from me at last. maybe every goodbye I choked on was her, scraping my throat and wrapping herself around my tongue to avoid being wretched out into the stark, harsh reality of a world without each other. 

whichever it was, she stayed. and I kept her. 

we share an existence, a body, a mind, a heartbeat. 

she thinks, and I say it. 

I hurt, she weeps. 

I was always the louder of us, I was brash and imposing. she more or less stood slightly behind me and to the side, a shadow. but now, after her life and death and resurrection, she has possessed me. it's in the silence of midnight car rides that she speaks. it's the stealthy slip of steady hand, up under my shirt and along my spine that operates my dumb, speechless mouth. a caress of the neck and the ventriloquist show begins, my ripe, life bitten lips whisper her words to the wind as it blows across the surface of the earth and dissipates into the heavens. 

not knowing how it started doesn't matter, who inhabits whom is irrelevant. what I do know is that I can never again sleep without her dreams to keep me under. I would never again address god if she was not supplying the prayer. I would feel nothing if her tears didn't sting my eyes, if her laugh didn't spark my smile. 

to some folks, some folks think possession is to be controlled and manipulated by a force other than oneself. some folks think possession is quite simply, ownership. 

but to me, to her, to Imogene, my Imogene, my beginning, my end, we think to call it nothing more than a Tuesday. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

(not untitled, but no title)

I've never really been able to explain Imogene in a coherent fashion. 

I think it's because the so-called living don't understand what it's like being trapped between the two worlds like I am. between here and there. between now and then. they don't get how I can't assign myself to one or the other, life or death. they certainly don't grasp that Imogene, my Imogene, my beginning, my end, was more than just a girl, a person. she was a smile. she was a kiss. she was a laugh, a fuck, a teardrop. she was a place. she was a time. she was a feeling. 

when I met her, it was like getting in touch with an old friend after years of separation. as we told each other about ourselves and pretended to get acquainted, there was a recognition, a familiarity, a sigh of "oh, I already know you" and relief at finally being reunited. 

when I kissed her, it was everything you grew up expecting kisses to be. it was like the point in the movie where the hero, whom you'd never doubted all along, finally gets the kiss from his object of affection that you wanted him to have in the very first act.  it was the first spoonful of pudding in your grade school lunch box, cool and sweet. the way it slipped over your tongue and slid down your throat with ease, conforming perfectly to the shape of your mouth, coating your lips with a light sheen of happy that left you hungry for more as soon as you licked it off. 

the nights we stayed up worshipping each other, the nights that were ultimately when she first set hooks in my heart, were just like the concerts you went to as a teenager. the exhilaration of the sound waves being so strong they were tangible, bodies packed in, sweaty and excited, like Alaskan salmon battling to get upstream. it was those nights I fell for her like a stage dive, that feeling of "I don't know what the fuck I'm doing but I'm gonna do it anyway!" that sensation of your toes leaving solid ground, a nervous, electric free fall, and finally, being caught by eager, frantic hands. 

being in love with her was a drive in the fall. the colors were vivid, the ride was smooth, and the air itself was enough to make you feel alive. 

being without her was a week of insomnia. the flies on the wall saw you pace and moan, saw you whimper and turn circles in your bed until you (almost on accident) wound your sheets into a makeshift noose. they buzzed about your head, following you from room to room to empty pointless room, all the while making a constant droning sound that you hear even still.

getting her back was the shower after a very, very long, hard day. she was the water you lifted your face up to, no reservation or hesitation, letting it drench you from the top of your tired, weary head and rush it's way down over your sore throat, your aching shoulders, your protruding hips, down the backs of your trembling knees.  imagine letting her wash the day and the exhaustion and everything that wasn't her off your flushed exposed skin while the steam rose and filled your lungs and cleared your senses. and when you just can't take the downpour of hot and the thick, wet clouds anymore, you turn the water off, wrap yourself in terry cloth love, and emerge a new person. 

losing her was the worst ill you've ever been. the pain and tired, coupled with the "how?" and the "why,?" covered in "ohmyfuckingGODwillthiseverbeover?!"  it was the oaths you swore to a god you usually don't believe in, laying in your own toxic sweat, swearing things you don't usually mean but you would mean them this time if only this misery would stop, or even lessen. it was a car wreck, terrifying and chaotic. it was trading your existence for the color red; like going from having and appreciating all five senses and the variety that they afford you, to the only thing you know being the touchtastesmellsoundlook of searing heat. 

but these aren't specific memories, experiences.  this is just the closest I can get to describing a girl, the girl I lived and died for. the girl who took me aback, took me aside, took me from behind; I was so taken with her. explaining that to the average joe has only ever gotten me the kind of glassy-eyed, slack-jawed stare that so often precedes "do you want some fries with that?" 

I have trouble believing that anybody who didn't know her, and know her the way I did, was ever really alive anyway. 

she's my heart, my lungs. 

she's my blood, my air. 

...haunted or not, ghost or not, the fact is she's still fucking gone. 


Friday, January 10, 2014

cotton fever

sometimes, being haunted isn't that bad, not really. 

every time she was taken from me before, I would scrape the walls of my skull, I'd push my way through the sinewy mass around my brain like walking through a roomful of cobwebs. I would let my footsteps echo across the empty surfaces as I made my way down a mental hall of mirrors and memories. I would really feel the lonely, like one feels the winter cold in their bones. 

sometimes I'd shut myself inside this backstabbing, treacherous mind I've got and think her name for hours on end. 

now that I'm haunted, I'm never alone, not really. 

it has it's downsides though. sometimes when a real, live person speaks to me I can't hear them over the breathy angel sighs she makes in my ear. she always keeps herself wrapped around me, like a mink stole, filtering their words, only allowing the ones she knows I like to reach me.  sometimes she does them the same favor, and sifts through my response so that by the time it goes from my throat to my mouth to the air to the opposition, she's removed all but what she knows they want to hear as well. sometimes she plays mediator, protecting me from their coldness, and keeping my heat insulated, trapped closely between just the two of us. when she rests, nuzzled against my neck and humming softly, I forget how to speak. 

but sometimes, it's the only thing I know how to do. I'll lay still as death, clutching at the wispy smoke of a ghost, letting my words flow through her, talking in circles about absolutely nothing but her mouth, or her kisses, or her lush lavender scent. sometimes she'll talk with me, we'll pore over where she went, what she misses, which side of the coin it's better or worse to be on. 

after times like that, though, I always wake up. 

some well intentioned interloper will shake me by the shoulders, scream in my face with warm, moist air that feels thick with the living. 

"you're so cold," they'll say. "I thought I'd lost you," they'll say. 

you never had me. I was never here. 

I'm every bit the ghost she is, looking for her every where I turn. looking for a sign so I can cross over to the other side. looking for where I belong, looking for home. looking for my heart, sticky and bloody, beating haphazardly in the grasp of the girl who stole it.  she stitches together all its broken pieces with her sharp needle stare; she sews straight, even x's with words like "I need you." 

it takes a long time for wounds like that to close. 

but while I'm looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, I pull my ribs further apart so she can climb into the hollow space she took that traitorous muscle from. I want her to curl up where I can keep her safe, where I used to hide her memory, and let her keep mending it. let her hold my heart in place while it heals, let her sleep soundly where she belongs. 

which is, of course, with me. 

my beginning, my end. 


When I sleep, I dream of her.

In my waking life, I swear to never indulge that kind of obsession again, to never fall prey to temptation and addiction and hallucination again. I won't do it, I won't bear the pain, or the loss.

But I do bear it, the worst of it, over and over.

I bury her every night.

I relive her death every night.

Sleep or no sleep, moon or no moon, I lower a cheap pine box into the ground, with numbers on it instead of a name. I throw a handful of dirt and rose petals on top. I say my goodbyes, quietly tearful some nights, hysterical and violent on others. I say goodbyes that I never got to tell her, and things I didn't think of until she was already gone. some nights they're hardly goodbyes at all, just accusations and insults born of confusion and hurt and lonely, lonely, lonely...  I trudge off, turning my back on the hole that my heart lives in now.

And then I wake up and the mourning is fresh. The grief is as raw as it ever was. Imogene, my Imogene, is a memory. A tri-fold pamphlet with an outdated picture and a poem I didn't write.

She's as gone as she ever was.

...which is to say, she isn't gone.  At all. Not really.

Now she's the wind that turns my hair unruly. She's the rain that runs slick down my up-turned face, dragging ribbons of mascara with her. She's the ache in my stomach.

She's a ghost, silent and cold, descending from her watchful spot on the ceiling in a haze of TV static. On nights I can't sleep, she settles on my skin like mist so she can weep into my pores while I lay there and stew. So she can gather in the corners of my eyes, pool in the hollows of my collarbone. So she can work her oppressive chill into my sheets and pillows, grind into my mattress with every fretful toss and regretful turn. On nights I can sleep, she lays next to me like a thick blanket of fog, watching my eyes twitch under their lids as I dream of her funeral again and again.

Why do you keep burying me? she asks. I'm right here, she insists. She walks next to me at the supermarket, sits by my side at dinner, politely requesting attention in her quiet, unassuming way.

I walk.
I chew.
I smile, swallow, laugh.

I'm the only one that sees her.

When she loops her icy arms around me in the middle of a crowded room, I stiffen and excuse myself to collect my bearings. It's difficult to hold a conversation with an honest-to-goodness person when the dead half of your soul is draped around you, nipping at your throat, begging for kisses. 

I often ignore her.  I more often can't.

When I'm leaning over the sink, staring at myself in the mirror through a matted curtain of snarled hair, she sits on the counter next to the tap and brushes it out of my eyes with cool fingers, just like she always did.  Sometimes the lavender is so strong it makes me gag, and I double over and spit things I don't mean across the faucet, watch things I do mean circle the drain.  She rubs my back and holds my hair to the side.  Sometimes I get fed up, and whirl on her in a fury, matching her coolness with a heat of my own.  "Why are you doing this?" I'll hiss at her.  "You're dead.  You're gone.  So just fucking go." Sometimes she just looks at me sadly and fixes my collar, tucks my bangs behind my ear.  Sometimes she opens her mouth to respond, but I can't hear her because somebody else has come into the room and asks me, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

She's right in front of them, the most beautiful thing they could ever hope to see, and nobody sees her.

I do.

I turn the water off, pull my hair up, and check my face one final time before I turn out the lights.

I'm late for a funeral.