Skipping beats

00:00 – She wrote and wrote and sung to forget everything was about him.

/

For example, another excuse on why it wasn’t him who deserved to hear her sing: citing moment X as the tipping point in the nonexistent fulcrum of how they drove each other in circles & always to the same place (i.e., Home, His)- once the song on the radio stepped to 00:54 he should’ve kissed her-

/

Shifting beside her as the song slides to 01:25, chorus just about to begin, he stirs uneasily in their shared space, vehicle heading towards stars, splits the song despite the cushions of the night, silence, saying Wow. We have a soundtrack.

/

00:21 – The traffic tries to ease them in place, delays his departure by an extra minute but neither of them budge, seatbelts securing bodies in place.

/

02:34 – He asks what the dials on her radio mean and she answers by increasing the volume.

/

She meets his laughter with a smile and the tapping of fingers on the steering wheel. 01:42 and she repeats it in her head, It’s not you, it’s not you, it’s not you, and pretty soon the song is telling her exactly what she wanted, It’s not you-

/

The final refrain pulls through the song by 04:02, a few seconds before she pulls over and he leans, hand draped on her shoulders, presses his cheek to hers, mumbles some goodbye pressing at the edges of her heart-

/

-00:00 – Seatbelt fastened in place she watches his figure fade into the crowd. The radio flickers with slight static, another song plays and in front of her the stoplight turns green. Humming, she shifts gears, steps on the gas, moves.

Exercises on self-destruction

 Premise: the world ending as a point in time when certain constructs and conveniences cease to exist. For example: I love you from Point A to Point B, with Point A being I can’t remember (day we rode your car, day we got way too drunk, or maybe that moment you played my favorite song, catching me off guard) and Point B being the point/s following:

The world ended when you left the room earlier than I, finishing the exam first, fireworks and firegods surging in through the windows shortly after – we were doomed and now who the fuck cared which answer was correct?

The world ended when you stopped reading poetry, stopped writing whatever song stirred through your ventricles, offering what remained of you to the girl who made it a point to disappear every now and then, teaching you to unlearn object permanence across continents and connecting flights, crooning Baby, baby, I’m sorry, I’ll be back soon, oh baby, and the call melts into static as cracks slowly crawl on the walls and you try to find a word or two to tell yourself what’s happening, when will this end, please make it stop, please?

The world ended when I gave you your birthday present, wrapped in smoke, laden with charms from an ageing demi-god, and when you said Thank you, blankly, I looked into your black eyes and knew we were done – no more watching out for each other, waiting outside after class, after hours, wandering off into adventures, wasting the nights away – over: what I kept thinking when, months after, I delivered the last kind blow of a sledgehammer straight to your dying face.

The world ended when I let the waters reach my feet, letting the process proceed despite its unpleasantness: feet slowly growing scales guaranteed to shield from acid and toxins, the sea and all its waste, bones split to the marrow, forming fins so thin they could slice through drops of rain; once everything was in place, I knew my body was ready to face a world which no longer knew of songs or the warm glow of stars – a place wanting nothing of me and my human heart.

The world ended following the wrong phonecall delivered on a drunken night. Why are you with him? Said your voice over the noise, Why are you fucking with him? you kept saying so I said the truth you couldn’t and wouldn’t believe: It’s his birthday, and before I could explain anything a bottle of Bailey’s or Bacardi or Jager flew across the room, crashing into smithereens, muting out the receiver that echoed Bullshit! over and over and over as someone’s laughter filled the room.

The world ended when we answered No, closed fists, chests tightening: all those worlds within us ready, raring to spontaneously combust. Fireworks and the stench of a truth you could never forget. The wrong answer picked on purpose or, what we believed was an act of kindness.

A view from the room of refusals:

A set of artworks reflective of something that was past, passed on elsewhere, denied abrupt answer (No), the likewise apology it deserved.

A bouquet supposedly bequeathed for a former beloved, now far off, unlikely to associate her face with beauty, because (You stupid bitch, she remembers his breath on her back)- the bite before the broken bones, the bruise quietly blossoming by her rib cage. Heartbeats heavier than bricks.

A charred cigarette planted on the pavement, ash charting a path to where she would like to be (but could never choose to): chasing after him – comets, collisions, lips cracked from conditions of too little comfort. Inconsolable. A can of worms.  A city of coins gathered in an empty well.

A dialed number, hung-up prematurely, presupposing that a conversation with presumptuous person fond of disappearing acts wouldn’t be worth the decibels, the effort to diminish distance; decisions made and unmade (Don’t fucking do this to me again,)- dedications to the dearest deserter –

An epiphany: everything you love is erasable; evacuate your vessels and bones – find something unafraid of erosion, enduring electrons and earthquakes alike. Eat every morsel. Until your body yields nothing except explosions.

All’s right with the world

Insert the truth you never deserved
to hear. Insert the question that begged
for wings; the first word
unsaid. Insert the time you asked
for my name. Insert desire,
insert indecision, a garden
of forking paths. Insert persistence parading
as postcard, phone call, and a plea
for things to be like before, despite the necessary
changes in climate, the cheap presents.
Insert what you never dared say
to my face. Insert forgiveness
before the climax, the crime, the refusal
to save you this time. Insert the long drive away
from home. Insert the sighs, the skyline viewed
from a common friend’s window, the silly belief
in stars and what they would’ve told us about distance
and the past, stretching out
amidst smoke and the dark loom of night-
how things could still be saved. Insert your hand
in mine. Insert something else
in its place. Insert the absence
of yet another reply. Insert the pounding
of fists on your chest. Insert the light flickering
outside your bedroom window. Insert the memory of waiting
the night out beneath those lights, no questions seeding
in our lungs. Insert the last place
we found kindness.

Betrayal

An apple, a turn
of the head, deciding
to look here or there
instead. Listening to a different
version of the truth, let your lips slur
from that old story. Repeat. What you chose
versus what you choose
to withhold. We can’t get everything
we desire. This body
will falter and fail. Repeat
as necessary. Look straight
into the eyes of the one you’re about to bring
into the fire, drag into that pit. Sincerity
may not give you what you want but it won’t leave you
with nothing to hold. I don’t have a name
for that vessel which keeps pumping sadness
into your heart. Instead I offer you a map
good enough to awaken your feet to dancing
with all beautiful things
determined to destroy you.

Why I think I’m a better person when I’m not thinking of you

Because once upon a time, the world was flat. Or it stood on the backs of elephants stacked on turtles. Some giant, here or there. Excuse me while I recall my mythology library from my youngest sister. For all we know, everything we believe in resides in a sleeping beast’s toenail.

I’m still struggling with my faith in God (or gods for that matter) but I’d like to say I believe in the good. By that I mean any random day when a random person imparts a present or a pretty secret story is pretty nice.

It rains way too much these days, soaking my shoes to the soul of their soles. I bought  rainboots and rainbows after a strange flood but all they do is lounge around in the car. I believe catastrophe tells people a lot about who they really are. For example: a friend who chose to frolic and swim in the high rise pool while floods ravaged streets below. Or, others who moved in X’s home despite how they spun around rumors about X. X never asked why.

What I mean is, I would have called you when you were stranded but I wasn’t sure you’d answer. The world didn’t change so much. We’re both still alive and still not happening. Maybe somewhere else, as someone else. I saw a starfish along the street back then. What would that mean for us?

 

 

 

On the way home –

Steer nearer the intersection. Beep. Let me through, she thinks. Following the full disclosure of truth (excerpt: Yes, but no. Not now.) he asked, Why don’t you just tell him?

She had never been happier to have had to keep her eyes on the road then. No, she begins to speak, raising her hand as if to drive a point, then, as if unsure to reach for clutch or wheel, she keeps it in the air a little bit more.

Seconds –

The span of another accident, a wrong turn, all the necessary collisions – and whose face do you wish to see as your life flashes before you?

Enough time. All she needed to disguise the truth.

No, I don’t want him to know. He doesn’t deserve to know.

Beside her he sighs, mutters as if suddenly flooded with sympathy for our ever-absent hero.

He lets his eyes rest on a distant stoplight, as though they would find an answer from the flickering lights. Green goes red.

She slows the car down; he lets his answer slide.

Not even the privilege of knowing, eh?

She smiles, unlocks the doors. This is where you get off, she tells him with her eyes.

Take care.

See you tomorrow. He makes sure not to walk away too fast.

She shifts gears; the vehicle gives a slight jerk.

She heads straight.

The same direction as always. She keeps her eyes glued to the road.

Nevermind the intersection fading behind.