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You gambol about without a care in the world, heart pure but body lascivious, or so others believe, and you let them. Saying you have Catholic guilt is just a pose, you throw those words out to throw folks off the trail of your real feelings, make them feel like monsters for prying into the worst years of your life. When asked to describe your evening later, you hesitate, your tongue lingering on the roof of your mouth the way your gaze lingered on your true love's face, framed in the window of the train taking him away from you.
You took me to vertiginous heights, so overcome was I by the wonder of you. Really, I was overcome by the image I made of you and embroidered into my heart with figure-of-eight Vicryl stitches; when I learn the truth I can't rip you out without ripping out part of myself. I filled my ideas of you with helium, tied a string and held on 'til I was so high my ears popped. Eventually my illusion popped, spat me out on a mountaintop, I scraped my flesh on pine as I fell. But would this view be possible without you?
You defenestrate yourself out the apartment complex window on a makeshift rope of sheets tied together just like in a fairy tale. You'd longed for adventures like this, for action hero verbs like "defenestrate" to apply to you. Yet you can't help but think this would be more romantic to look at than actually live. You're deathly afraid of heights; you feel uncomfortable looking at the basement food court from the third floor of a mall. And who are you kidding - "defenestrate" means "to throw out," and you're doing it gradually, with a tool. You promise God you'll stop cheating.
How to make a Me trap: Stick a wounded puppy under a box propped up by a stick with a string tied around it. I recognize the materials, the logic behind it, deduced through someone else's careful deduction of my own logic, saw the friendly person on TV show folks how to make it in five easy steps. Still I fall for it 'cuz I don't know what else to do, don't know how else to love, don't know what else I have to give. I'm the shoulder to lean on, yanked down by the weight of someone else's fears.
The cops searched for us. Just like on a prime time drama, I imagine them dividing in twos flanked by dogs and flashlights, stepping into the copse of trees as real life attempts to comb through the fairytale tangles you've dreamed up to obscure the pain of reality. I don't know who to root for as I hear dogs barking, see faint fingers of light, hear thick Chicago accents stab prosaically. I sense your fear, your panting and heavy breathing behind me as you hold a cold blade to my throat. It's just for show; you wouldn't hurt me. Right?
When your heart's on the line and the clothes are off and the arms are entwined and the air's a blank page you can fill with your dreams, you laugh everything off, you obfuscate your feelings, you keep things light-hearted, you don't want him to think you're not fun. All this therapy and you still see "fun" and "emotionally honest" as either/or choices. You won't allow yourself the possibility that you might hear what you want and so you nervously spray everything with chitty chatty white noise and spend months writing poems trying to figure out what it all means.
He kicked you when you were down. You let loose everything you'd held in like a good girl, released the times you bit your tongue and dug your nails into your palm instead of curling your fingers into fists to defend yourself. It was glorious, a verbal vespiary freed - you wish Shel Silverstein were alive to draw the metaphor as literal reality, it would make a cool album cover, your songs would help release pain the world over, sticker images of your opus winding up on messenger bags that strangers on trains would see and think "I've found a friend."
All the days feel the same. Calendar pages turn, the TV tells you to change the clock twice a year, leaves change from green to ocher to absent, Christmas jingles remind you to buy presents for people you barely know, eventually you break down and schedule a haircut. There's empiric evidence of change, but it feels meaningless as a play where moving a bow tie from neck to upper lip to hairline is the only indication of change in character. Sometimes you're willing to play along; right now you just wanna say "dude - really. Don't bother. We know it's you."
You took me to this great place I never knew existed, a place I'd hoped for, had seen clues of in the body language of people in love, heard hints of in the songs I listened to in my sister's bedroom when she was gone and no one would talk to me so I tried to unlock why in Elvis Costello lyrics. Alone with a soundtrack beats alone in silence; the pain and hope and joy forming an audio rope that might not lead anywhere but will at least take you away from where you are, which is good enough.
You took me to this great place I wasn't sure existed, a place I'd hoped for, had seen clues of in the body language of people in love, heard hints of in songs. It was like I saw colors for the first time, my joy tinged with sadness and anger at all the wasted time littering my past like insect carcasses. I keep reminding myself that you were just the vehicle that got me there, the finger pointing at the moon and not the moon. I'll get there again without you, filling in yet another road map from scratch.
I put up bars and lament being a prisoner, stack the deck out of my favor. I only know how to tap tunes on steel bars and feed on snippets of sympathy twisted out of someone's guilt. The stage they set for me was spelled "there but for the grace of God." I look like an ordinary chick, but when all the chaos rattling around inside leaks out my mouth it makes me a sight people make the sign of the Cross to keep at bay. I usually save them the trouble, save it for poems no one reads.
Your harangue is my meringue, all your vitriol and spite a fluffy delight. I eat it with a dainty fork off darling china dish, it smears my lips, tastes sweet sliding down my esophagus. I feel no pain from your travails, the energy you waste the wind in my sails, your delusion my amusement. You're a fierce grizzly bear with fur of black, standing up ready to attack, but you can't hurt me 'cuz you're taxidermied. Face it - you're conquered, rare bird. Does having the opposite of the effect you intend drive you mad or make me the ideal friend?
I've a proclivity to cleave you to me. Seems natural as sweat on your brow in July, something you shouldn't fight or you'll get sick tryin'. But I sit proper as a lady in church, legs crossed, wrists on thighs. My hands are clasped together, in penitence or pleading. Or both. The answer's up to you. There are reasons we can't be direct. So my heart rattles like a pitiful Pomeranian scratching a kennel cage, the nail of my left thumb sliding down the medial surface of my right thumb, the way I'd be scratching your back now, if only...
The piano guy plunks out that plangent tune. The lyrics don't hide themselves in clever metaphor, they spell out heartache clear and unequivocal as a horse head in your bed. You frown into your whiskey like there's a roach in the glass and you can't decide if you're low enough to drink around it anyway. You feel a sharp poke between your shoulders and jerk your head around, hoping for a fight to shake loose your blues. You see the weapon was a woman's elbow, twined around some guy as they slow dance. "Sorry," she slurs. They stagger, in love.
You raise the nostrum to your nostrils. "Inhale," the old woman tells you. You can't decide if she's soothing or menacing. Is she strictly chicanery, hoping to profit off your misery? After all, you'd been given her brochure by a girl who looked like she'd pass out youth ministry pamphlets, the super friendly type who you're sure are suppressing an in joke they can't let you in on. Or is it just your mind resisting what it needs, should you gently ease your doubts, shuck them painlessly as a citrus peel as you take her hand and finally become free?
You ran to him frantic, not knowing what else to do. Your face was a mess in spite of you, in that out of body way tears have sometimes of shouting all your secrets when you think you're bein' cool. He puts his arm around you and says things that sound vaguely like answers, exhaling smoke thick as sand, enjoying his role as your sole tether to the truth. You sense this kind of power doesn't come his way often and, like an Armani suit magically left in his work locker, he is gonna make the most of this opportunity.
I am thankful that you said "if that happened to me, I would've gone postal years ago." You could've easily shoved aside what I said, as most people do. You could've easily trumped me with a worse story of your own, and I would've tried to get your attention again, and we would've gone on and on like that, using our pain as weapons 'til we whittled each other down to toothpicks. A dance I know so well it just feels like walking and breathing. But you simply accepted me. You probably forgot, but it still overwhelms me to tears.
You try to filter what he says, separate the sweet talk from the true, but it's like you sucked down a philter, the way he looks at you. Your heart soars with hope like a Catfish Collins guitar solo. They say physical love cannot be real, it's a sin the way we feel. They say it in such smooth as butter harmony the words might as well be fingers inside you, all the shame drained - or still there, dressed up and used to whip, if that's how ya like it. You bite your lip, aching just to feel his skin.
Dusty with desuetude, your dithyrambs have been summoned from the bowels of your dishabille and are now filling the air with delight, etching smiles on faces trying your phrases on for size. You feel out of body, like watching a movie about somebody else. You need some distance to breathe, must create a crack in the perfect porcelain of this night; to fully embrace it would mean you'd have nothing left when it's taken away. A crack you can keep as a souvenir. A toast is raised to you. You drink fast, try to be truly grateful yet not maudlin.
I wrap you in my arms, my lips on your neck murmur things to mollify, slow the tsunami inside you to gentle waves. A head tilt with neck bared is a sign of surrender in the animal kingdom, to signify acceptance of death or acceptance of another. To trust another is a coin toss with a thin serrated line between love and devastation. The odds don't look good, and after awhile you don't even want to pick up the coin, can't even look at it. It's a gift to be invited into your world. I promise to tread gently.
You've a curious trencherman's appetite for both drama and avoidance, so you come here like a pub where everybody knows your name, except they just know your throw-away moniker. You crave intimacy and coming here is like mainlining it, you crave unburdening so you do, and others snort your confessions, and you float in the community of self-contained islands wondering why they're alone. Sometimes the fourth wall does get shattered and real friendships form, but mostly it's like trying to grab a fistful of water, hoping it'll turn solid through sheer force of will, writing about things you don't do.
You carefully comb out the concatenation of events, wonder why you can't stop thinking about this stupid boy who anyone can see is completely wrong for you, is completely wrong for anyone, for anything but serving as poster child for a campaign warning against this or that bad choice. But the posters people buy and hang dreams on show a rebel without a cause, and he ain't eating an apple, he's smoking a cigarette. We all crave what's bad for us to define our edges, test our mettle. But what about him fits so well in your poison receptor cells?
Why do I find online interaction so much more romantic and urgently important than real life? I'll go out and have a perfectly lovely evening with friends, drinks, laughs, a rapt audience for my jokes and nervous, subtly competitive chatter. I enjoy it, yet at the end of the night it's like the whole thing was pleasantly forgettable as a candy bar consumed, and now all I have is an empty wrapper. I come home, check my e-mail. I fetishize written words and disembodied names inviting me into as yet unrealized worlds, always impatient with the ground under my feet.
She smells like booze if you stand close enough, her hair and clothes and breath woven with a sour mash gauze that cloaks her unease. You sense she needs release in a room gravid with expectation. You understand the feeling and do the same; the whiskey sliding down feels warm and soft and comforting as a loved one's arms wrapping you in a thick towel fresh outta the dryer. So you have that in common; yet will having that in common doom you to a shared life of standing and watching others, always the museum goer and never the art?
The piano to you is like a cross in the church - a symbol of suffering, a symbol of faith. The site where your Mom lashed out all her frustrations and disappointments on your 5-year-old shoulders in the form of counting out beats. Yet music is what saved you when no one talked to you and you tried to figure out the world through cryptic Elvis Costello lyrics. You have perfect pitch and know the same instrument Nina Simone did. You don't have to just be a groupie, you can be the star. Drown out the critics with your own songs.
Sick, sad, silly. Horny, hopeful plainsbilly. Try to fit "formication" and "fornication" together in a poem, get depressed, give up. Set cell phone alarm for hour and a half nap. Check e-mail. Consider calling in sick again even though you already did on Sunday. Eat rectangular, microwaveable, lunch, same thing day after day like Albert Einstein and his suits. Look at piles of crap on desk, get disgusted, look away. Try to resist urge to shove spoon up nose to manually clear sinuses. Stare into space like someone so hardup for something to believe in they see saints in tortillas.
Balance is boring but what everybody seeks. They don't wanna jump through the hoops necessary to get it. It remains an ever elusive beast, the stuff of myth, the stuff of legend. Is it like snipe hunting, searching for something that doesn't exist while others laugh, a hazing ritual you hopefully only go through once? Or is it like fishing and then throwing back what you catch? Everybody wants to coast on what they're good at, reap the benefits of their flaws. Being hyperemotional is fun when the emotions are fun; unfortunately, you don't get a menu to choose from.
You're an attention addict. Orgasms you can give yourself, but approval you need an audience for. Yet the attention you seek is a curious double edged sword. It makes you feel like a rock star, a force of nature, yet also makes you feel as if your worth is summed up by the size of your tits, makes you feel like a commodity. It's like getting praised and insulted in one fell swoop and makes you dependent on others for your happiness. It's such a bewildering tangle. You don't want to give up, but you need some space to breathe.
Your ebullience has struck you with abulia, and your unmade decisions are piling up. You feel like an unfixed dog or an oversugared child, it seems like if you stop moving, if your nerve endings stop madly vibrating from this or that stimulus, you'll cease to exist. You wish someone would hold you, give you permission to relax, to just be, to assure you you don't have to try so hard. Failing that, you try to just clear your head, seek solace in books, believe horoscopes that tell you you're acting famished even though the cupboards are stocked with goodies.
Right now fornication holds all the appeal of formication. You're tired of this dumb meat dance dangling just out of reach like medallions of beef on a string pulled by a drunk puppeteer, tired of begging like a dog. You've lost your heart on the burning sands, a prisoner to your glands, your skin cries naked hunger for hands. You try to silence it all and rise above, but you're stuck with your hormones like a glued on glove. Just give your courage a shove and this can all be over, love. Your hopes are scarred from thinking too hard.
The Tip Jar