Last night I had a dream that I ran away from home. I don’t remember why; I just remembering running and running and running until I found myself in a town of rough language and heady dialect; it was the middle of the night but no one seemed to be sleeping, and it was at that point that I realized I had no money, or anything besides the clothes on my back, for that matter. And I remember feeling crushing defeat, thinking I would have to turn back around and find my way through a maze of forests to grovel at the feet of people I never wanted to see again. I didn’t cry or anything, I just pressed myself against a wall and forced the cold to invade my sense of numbness. Then a middle-aged woman came up to me and took my hand, she was cocaine-skinny and her hair was poorly curled, and I immediately trusted her.
She led me back to her flat, and told me to wait while she rattled the key around in the hole. “It sticks sometimes,” she said apologetically, and I couldn’t respond, I was still confused as to why she was helping an insipid little stranger, but she didn’t seem to mind, and showed me to the kitchen. As she was peeling an apple very complexly, using scissors and steak knives and her acrylic nails, she told me sharply, “I assume you’ve got nowhere and nobody so now you do. You stay here til you’re back on your feet.” She nodded absently. “I know we don’t got much room, but as long as you don’t mind nobody else here gives a flying fuck about privacy. Just don’t go in that walk-in closet over there, it’s where I deal with my, erm, clients. You can stay in there.” She pointed to a door. “Gotta dash,” she said, smiling weakly and reapplying her lipstick as a line buzzed. I walked into the room as she had instructed, and found three girls sitting on a couch and one on a bed reading history textbooks, all wearing formal, tight-cut dresses. The one with chopsticks in her hair looked up at me, cracking her gum: “Why are you here?” I shifted my weight from one leg to the other. “Things fell apart,” I said quietly.
"They always do." I grabbed a spare textbook off the table, trying to see what they were studying so intently. I flipped through the pages of what looked like early American history, and skimmed some on the Civil War. I was surprised. "But this information is all like, really wrong,” I told them. They looked at me like I had three heads. “For example: ‘The Battle of Gettysburg passed with little consequence one fine summer’s day’ but that’s not true at all, about 50,000 people died! And,” I said, continuing, “the South most definitely did not win the war. This textbook you’re all reading, it’s lying.” They just laughed. “All history textbooks lie, sweetheart,” said one in an electric blue dress. “So, this one is about what could or could not have happened, and maybe it did, maybe it didn’t.” ”But that makes no sense at all!” I was overcome with frustration. “Why bother then?”
The girls all looked at each other. "Yes, why bother at all?" one said softly. "Nothing makes sense…" They each pulled out a small handgun from their purse, and the one with chopsticks in her hair passed another one to me. "Why bother at all, why bother at all, why bother at all…" they repeated like zombies, blasting their brains out one at a time. “Your turn,” said the girl with chopsticks in her hair, and I pulled the trigger.
you and i are the shadows of skyscrapers. our souls shine dully, a skinny-legged Ophelia and a fidgety Hamlet. we stand beside lakes and our broken longing hums like rain forests at night. our innocence is white-hot and stark, and perhaps that will be our excuse. we know nothing of what we do not know, we are young, and shall never learn to wear our rue with a difference. we were doomed from childhood, doomed from birth, doomed to think too much in a shallow pool. barefooted and loose, we run too fast for a slow-moving world that thinks our ambitions and morals are misplaced—take them from the sky, lay them on the ground. we refuse, and die young in protest of expectations altogether.
There is a loneliness in your bones, like being bereft of marrow, and it makes you shaky and brittle but you can’t admit it, you’re waiting for someone who doesn’t disappoint you up close, someone brave eye to eye.
I wish my teeth didn’t get stuck on words, I wish I could comfort people and I wish I could interest them, but even to myself I’m generally everyday, run-of-the-mill, maybe one that leaped a little too far into the deep end but devastatingly normal, still. Just another teenager with an endlessly suburban mind, living in the In-between, with no map of where I’m going, but I’m gagging and crawling to get there.
There are some moments you keep in your pocket to look at later, like photographs, and when you line them up they tell a story, even if it’s one with no cohesive plot. Little memories that echo of the trueness life can contain, those are the ones worth remembering, and the ones that define you.
“I descended the steps of this fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space…I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something.”—Tennessee Williams
And nervous laughter.
Your breath smells like Marlboro Reds
And each of your movements is
Deliberate and quiet as a library.
I’ve envied your ability
To always be the person you mean to be
There’s only one of you—
And about twenty-five of me.
We drive around town in your old sedan
Looking for something to look for.
It’s spring and I’m molting.
When it comes to coming-of-age
The moments don’t matter ‘cause they never last;
They dissipate and twist before the sun
Those who are forgotten
Among those who forgot.
Fountains of youth
Sprouting like weeds
Filling the seas and madhouses.
The beautiful people are owned by everybody
The ugly people are owned by everybody
And the other people are owned by nobody.
That’s why the movie stars and models
In lipstick ads kill themselves
The ugly people get married young and wear more lipstick
Than they should
And the other people are lost, unwarranted and unanchored;
Out to sea.
Here’s an anecdote for the road—
The kingdom won’t come
And the devil wears pearl earrings.
Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path.
No one wants their life thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control, and are somehow capable of sustaining a house or a structure that is already rotten. They are the engineers of the superseded.
Other people think exactly the opposite: they surrender themselves without a second thought, hoping to find in passion the solutions to all their problems. They make the other person responsible for their happiness and blame them for their possible unhappiness. They are either euphoric because something marvelous has happened or depressed because something unexpected has just ruined everything.
Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it - which of these two attitudes is the least destructive?
There’s nothing lonelier than turning the last page of a story you felt; I mean, how can you be expected to navigate real life so shortly after? ‘You’re done the stupid book, pick up the groceries’…’where have you been, I haven’t talked to you all day’… ‘c’mon, why won’t you come to the party tonight?’
And it’s like people don’t understand…after I finish a story I felt, one that wrung me out like a dishcloth, I’m not me for a while, and this isn’t home, or even a place I recognize. Those crumpled pages are, and I’m that person, a new and colorful self of mine that emerged from wrinkled pages and sat inside my heart, and whose sharp and sudden disappearance has left me in a cloudy daze.
Everyone else is stupid, everyone else doesn’t know what it’s like to feel like this. Everyone else is content with the awful things they can just buy and happy with the other idiots they’ve surrounded themselves with. No one else has to pretend, pretend like their lives depend on it. No one else knows how to be alone anymore. No one else knows. No one else has to be their own ghost.
“Cold sinks in, there to stay. And people, they’ll leave you, sure. There’s no return to what was and no way back. There’s just emptiness all around, and you in it, like singing up from the bottom of a well, like nothing else, until you harm yourself, until you are a mad dog biting yourself for sympathy. Because there is no relenting.”—Louise Erdich
sleep through the mornings, eat breakfast at one, save bullets in between your teeth for later. the sun may burn you but the night asks questions: a somewhere owl ‘who, who’ and you see, i don’t know… wave from your afternoons and evenings in carriages, with snorting russet horses and let yourself feel beautiful, sometimes, or maybe not. it’s all in your head, like the way branches pitter patter against your window and some days you love it and some days you hate it. perform autopsies on murderers with your bare hands, stare at the blood underneath your fingernails for days after. the anatomy of a murderer is quite curious, as these people can tell you, when looking at their hearts and brains it seems they care so much that they don’t care at all, in being so sensitive they become insensitive, in the way that all of the largest and most dramatic spectrums are simply and astoundingly, circles.
i go to cities to find and to lose, and at nights i dream i am a pair of ragged claws. i am the soldier who didn’t want the war to be over, who could only see his face in the gloom and dust and fire, what am i without fighting and struggle? the war was terrible, but i was so sure it would be the end and now i am required to look past the point of my own death? what does one do when the ends are not in fact, the endings? scream, perhaps. cry, maybe.
I’m no exotic beauty. My face won’t show up in museums long after my death, painted by a modern-day Picasso who fell in love with the jut of my chin and the plane of my cheeks. I have a simple face. A quiet face. One that whispers instead of speaks, coaxes instead of shouts. No one will fall in love with it. There are no astounding features. My eyes don’t make you want to whisk me away to Paris for the weekend. My cheeks are sallow and my skin, though soft, is tired. I don’t have eyes that you can fall in love with. Believe me, I wouldn’t fall in love with them myself. My mother had found a way to put warmth in hers, but I look in the mirror and I am lackluster. There’s no glow. I do not glow. My two front teeth sway into each other. I never wanted braces. I like them, though. My crooked front teeth. Straight ones have always intimidated me. They still do, to an extent. I’m a simple girl. A quiet featured girl. But I like it.
I like that I go unnoticed for the most part. I won’t sway the world with a smile. I can sit quietly, erasing all sense of my own presence. I can melt into furniture and wicker chairs and watch as the world ebbs and flows around me. I’m a quiet presence. Reassuring. You won’t directly notice when I disappear. You’ll just feel that there’s something off in the wind. That’s all I really am. Just a change in the wind.
I feel stilted and stunted, like I have shrunk in my waitings. Patience patience patience, the words will come, and if they don’t I’ll be a fish sprawled out on the shore, gasping and writhing, drying and hardening in the sun…
For months, I couldn’t write. It was the loveliest vertigo, sort of like drinking tequila but without the hysterical blindness. My blackbirds were wingless, legless. They sputtered on the ground like firecrackers while you played flare gun, fire engine. I smelled like grass and rabbits, waited in the field for days for lightning, wanted that spark, the mailbox sticky with wasps. I could say I wanted order, all my ducks lined up like a carnival, playing hide and seek, patty cake, with the wedding rings. Shiny, sharp toothed and singing. But I meant I wanted us strung together like lanterns. A sort of morse code in my molars. Once for no, twice for yes. Meant I wanted turbulence, trouble, to be sawed in half by wanting it.
I sink into autobiographies past midnight, intertwining my fingers around themselves—I’m always twitching slightly, like I’m on the verge of tears at every moment—but here’s a story I always wanted to tell: I’ve always wanted to go to Paris because I think of it as a magical land where girls don’t twirl eagles’ feathers in their hair but ride upon their backs, and at night, everyone is always breathing words to themselves, like hypnotizing spells. Artists are abound at every corner, living in flats, barely making a living, primitively starving, but fiercely loyal to their craft, and there’s fainting, burning color there, and in their eyes. And there are streetlamps straight out of A Tale of Two Cities and when it rains, no one uses an umbrella, and the French are lilting and wild yet romantic in their words, and everyone is drunk, but pleasantly so.
Here’s another story: I never want to go to Paris because it will be a dirty city with too much smoke and people crowding around, and no one will fall asleep to Tchaikovsky except me. Perhaps the traveller does not see as much beauty as one who knows but a hundred miles, perhaps that is the reason for their restlessness.
“I love things with a wild passion, extravagantly. I cherish tongs, and scissors; I adore cups, hoops, soup turrents, not to mention of course- the hat. I love all things, not only the grand, but also the infinitely small: the thimble, spurs, dishes, vases. Oh, my soul, the planet is radiant, teeming with pipes in hand, conductors of smoke; with keys, saltshakers, and well, things crafted by the human hand, everything- the curve of a shoe, fabric, the new bloodless birth of gold, the eyeglasses, nails, brooms, watches, compasses, coins, the silken plushness of chairs. Oh humans have constructed a multitude of pure things: objects of wood, crystal, cord, wondrous tables, ships, staircases. I love all things, not because they might be warm or fragrant, but rather because- I don’t know why, because this ocean is yours, and mine: the buttons, the wheels, the little forgotten treasures, the fans of feathery love spreading orange blossoms, the cups, the knives, the shears, everything rests in the handle, the contour, the traces of fingers, of a remote hand lost in the most forgotten regions of the ordinary obscured. I pass through houses, streets, elevators, touching things; I glimpse objects and secretly desire something because it chimes, and something else because, because it is as yielding as gentle hips, something else I adore for its deepwater hue, something else for its velvety depths. Oh irrevocable river of things. People will not say that I only loved fish or plants of the rain forest or meadow, that I only loved things that leap, rise, sigh, and survive. It is not true: many things gave me completeness. They did not only touch me. My hand did not merely touch them, but rather, they befriended my existence in such a way that with me, they indeed existed, and they were for me so full of life, and they lived with me half-alive, and they will die with me half-dead.”—Pablo Neruda
so, i asked my smartest friend to come up with a verb that described me, and he chose “pull.” i asked him why, and he said something very interesting: “pulling is what you do; it’s how you accomplish things. you initiate your relationships—shallow and deep alike—by pulling people in with the way you care. you have this one face you make that’s ‘pull’ personified—thoroughly intriguing. you’re a completely open person, even when you try not to be. it’s the way you want things: you pull. your desires are very directionalized, very deliberate, very persistent, very passionate. when you want something, you do not goad or coax or plan or push or force—you pull.”
It was called “Redflower,”
And the protagonist was herself.
She had an aestheticism sadly out of place in this world,
And brilliant hands.
She had a wooden face, and had been in love once,
With her college roommate, who requested a room change at the end of the semester.
She survived on Rice a Roni and vodka, and on nights when she drank too much she always stood on her porch
And jangled her windchimes.
Naturally she was lonely and naive,
As all writers are required to be.
Her world was just an inch more
Than eight miles wide.
To her, everything was small as unrequited love.
She wrote short stories as a salve for her rashes of passion,
In efforts to remind herself that violent delights
Always have violent ends.
She fainted at the sight of blood,
So her lifestyle was…fitting, really.
Her heart beat slowly.
I experiment because I must see all things for myself rather than taking the majority’s view on it. Because here’s the thing about the majority: they may be the one’s that rule today, but tomorrow they’ll be dead and wrong, and I can only die knowing I’m right.
I didn’t mean to start this again, I didn’t mean to make you afraid. I’m not, I never have been. That’s why you worry. This morning I awoke in a leotard at the kitchen table, a cup of cold tea in my hand. I couldn’t fall asleep, because I had no fears to dwell on beneath closed lids. I looked down at my tea, then my thighs, and cried. Some things are worse than dying, smiling ruined girls whisper, glazed and charcoaled. Skinny. Beautiful. Not me.