Saturday, 3 October 2015

motorcycles and nothing else

I smoked a black cigarette and as I scrubbed the scent off my body in the shower my mouth tasted like him. Not as he tastes in actuality, but how he tastes in some metaphysical region of my brain, like James Joyce's watercolors and foggy half-remembered emotions. My lips were numbed and spicy as a souk. 

I walked twelve thousand steps late at night down Lake Street. No one bothered me or acknowledged me but one man brimming with swagger and bearing a shopping bag steaming with fried chicken and potato wedges. "Hey, lovely," he said, and kept walking. I chose to offer him a tooth grinch smile. Whistles from friendly wolves. How do they know I'm female when I have no hair and am hunched and swaddled against the wind in a hoodie and pants and pants and boots? 

Song for Zula came on in my ears when I was outside a Mexican bakery, momentarily gazing in at the still pastel offerings asleep in their neon lit cases. I don't believe that Zula is a real person but I swipe at my eyes hard with the back of my hand and glance left and right quickly, in case anyone has seen.

I meet cats when I walk at night. Most are furtive and busy as their nocturnal alter egos, but some come to me. I meet one on a stone wall that reminds me of the fat marmalade cat that jumped from the birch tree, that day by the lake, narrowly missing my face with a flash of its clumsy startled claws. I stood with my back pressed against the stark white bark and your hands were around my waist, your thumbs pressing in, in, until they met at my navel and I exhaled as I melted and left a breath hanging visible in the cold air. 

If I have to be alone, I want to be alone, on salt flats, on the motorcycle. You can go in any direction. Everything about a motorcycle is sexual, don't listen to the rational people. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

I'm daunted and impressed by people who have the courage to let their bodies display their personal histories, because I have every desire to make my history invisible. The parts of my body that nettle me when I look in the mirror aren't glaring because of years well-lived but because they're marks left by grinding, pointless pain. I don't look at lines around my mouth and see summer holidays, I see fragile burst capillaries and tiny cobwebs around my eyes and a deep furrow between my brows, nights of waking in the dark and finding my face sticky with tears. Sometimes my reaction is just anthropological, detached and musing, a genuinely puzzled passing interest in how I could possibly be so broken and so outwardly (almost-) functional. Cosmetic clues to identifying the walking wounded on the street?
Other times I find myself wishing--hard--for the trappings of a coddled suburban lifestyle I never would have found appealing in the past. Botox, fillers, easy procedures. There's certainly a little bit of anger, against a background of general health-centred gratitude, at the notion that every time I look at myself, I have to see the past months of experience stamped across my face, mostly due to lack of money. Once I laughed out loud at myself in utter disgust for imagining charitable professionals who will erase emotional battering from your face, in the manner of tattoo artists who cover mastectomy scars, etc. My own confused vanity is always hissing to me that these flaws will keep away romantic prospects, and depending on the day, this is either a dire warning or a watery concession to circumstance ("Keeping them away precludes the formation of more wrinkles, yes?").
On the other hand, grief has given me a body that I hadn't seen since my twenties. Lack of appetite, compulsive running and yoga (seemingly the only effective anodyne measures available without social contact), and occasionally, twelve hours' sleep a night, excavated my clavicle and scooped out the taut line of my abdominals. This only lasted a couple of months. The toll of stress-eating has fleshed me back out into a doughy, loosely-assembled bag of viscera. The weight is kinder to my face. At some point bone structure works against you, the cheekbones that gave you definition just make you look ghoulish when sadness enters the picture. I can't win. I'm not certain I want to win, if I'm in competition with my own body. I'm not sure what that would mean in terms of flesh.
And that's all I'll write on the matter. What a nasty, shallow business. Inhabiting a human form.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

the house i lived in

the house i lived in, went missing. it walked away, i suppose, like baba yaga's hut on lanky chicken legs. it kissed me on top of the head in imitation of a human, it blithely walked out leaving behind a shucked-off shabby wooden exoskeleton, a carapace that i could cling to with my hands. but the pulsing soft center of it had gone. 

i sat on the chipped honeycomb tile of the bathroom floor, but only after you'd left. i put tiny half-moon marks in the giving flesh of my upper arms while i thought about the places on my body that your tongue had visited often, when my temple touched the cool porosity of the beast-footed tub, i thought about the times we couldn't look away from each other in the half-dark and finally slept with our damp foreheads pressed together. in the front parlor which awkwardly held a bed that wasn't ours, you gave a shrug and a smile even after i showed you the ugliest, the darkest parts of my brain and my heart. at the very center of the wooden structure, months earlier, we'd reified something as the snow fell. the something bought us entrance to the back-most room, which became a proper bedroom for the first time in at least five years. 

later, this breathing house disgorged me unceremoniously. it settled back on its chipped cement haunches, i can only assume, after i left, and swallowed you up again eagerly late that night. it lapped you up and this lit its rooms goldish-warm. Smug and satisfied and amoral as Nature in its ramshackle exclusivity. 

now in my spartan and over-expensive treehouse that is not a home i imagine i can see the house i lived in, two miles away as the crow flies. i can reach across the distance and prise the roof away with my giant clumsy hand and extract the secret mollusk heart, i could split that house in two, and grow myself a whole new house. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


be strong like the mountain says the master
the mountain i chose is the ghost of a mountain that migrating butterflies
still veer around when they're crossing lake superior. millions of years ago the mountain was but now it is not.

Thursday, 11 June 2015


probably had to tell demeter over and over again that she was fine, fine. mother, i took what i wanted, and what i wanted was dark, what i wanted was him. you and your friends whisper that i was dragged, pleading, under the damp earth. but i rule over everyone here, and he adores me for it, with his cold hands. he kneels only to me and i've never felt better than i have here in the dark.  i'll come back when i'm bored with him, maybe, but not today. and i have all the pomegranates i could ever want.

i fell asleep on the bare floorboards in front of 'wings of desire', but when i woke up it had looped back to the menu, it wasn't the world of winklepickers and rowland howard anymore, it was just options. in my sleepy, pilled state that black and white world of dreamy treble reverb wasn't berlin at all but a saturday night where i used to live. saturdays in this weird new world have no meaning except maybe scrubbing all the lateral surfaces until i'm sweating.  new bruises crop up on me as they always have, but they're not the result of touch. i'm in a marriage of convenience with this apartment.

i may begin to trust the doctor.  he knows what's inside me is dark, dark and hungry, and not a place for cowards. he told me so, stole the words out of my mouth. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sometimes you end up in a bed with old sheets
stained with his wife's menstrual blood
A bed that he hasn't been in for
Oh, at least a year
And you don't see it until mid-morning when said wife
Returns home and 
tells you you look very natural together 
in her bed.
She leaves and he throws the blankets up over the pillows,
says Goodbye, Slaughter-Bed
Then looks at you and asks if you need
More tea.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

stinging nettle tea

The ice on the streets these days waxes and wanes, there's the occasional croak of a crow outside, the breath of the radiator, the green spice of a eucalyptus branch laid on a table crowded with candles, books about postpunk London and Francisco Goya, tumblers of swiftly-evaporating water.  I pull my bike over on the Greenway and shake a little and fight tears a little thinking about the terrorism of police, about the currency of white skin.  A man living in Holland and I converse about New Wave footwear, I have late night solo dance parties swaying back and forth with my eyes closed, Bryan Ferry on the record player, cats staring at me from the steps of a ladder.  I suddenly switch to Continental knitting style mid-row after years of English style, a drunk stranger pounds on the hood of my car at an intersection, a pheasant dives into my windshield, I consider not driving, I inscribe sigils into pie crusts that no one will see, I go to California for three days and discuss eczema with a toddler on a bus, I converse in embarrassing German with a kindly old man, I fall in love with seasonal dioramas in the windows of expensive stores on a pedestrian mall, I make bramblewine tea for my dry throat, I think about the work I am meant to do, I watch X Files in bed and my pincha mayurasana is foiled by cats over and over again. I bake gingerbread and listen to Nick Cave, say a silent prayer of thanks for friends even though they're far away, and write lists here, when lists are all I'm capable of.