Frida

July 27, 2015

You mustn’t misconstrue what I say in this plane,
the tones I take when I’m feeling blue.
It is the way I address my momentary sadness,
it is how I patch up my wounds.
It is a release from the pressures of being human,
of existing in my multidimensional world.
Without this outlet, I would be stricken with a debilitating anger that would grow like a beast in the dark.

This is my canvas of necessity,
where I use only glittering purples, grays and blacks,
as it is the palette my canvas was designed for.
Any other color would ruin the perfect stillness of this velvety texture.

Yet I don’t mention the many other lives I live,
the ones filled with overwhelming emotion,
brimming over with unfettered affection,
nestled in the nook of my inner circle,
who cradle and support my fragile frame.
These are the lives that make up the core of my robust heart,
it is where my people reside.
They are in the vale beyond the sea,
where the lush plumes of green and gold flicker at sunrise,
their halls gleaming with promise.
They wait for me at journey’s end,
their open arms patient and welcoming,
their eyes alight with acceptance.
Here is where I shine uninterrupted,
where I am my truest self.

Quietly

July 26, 2015

The afternoon was bright. A wind blew through the low hanging willows, making its stringy branches sway like an aging dancer. The driveway leading to the main building looked like something out of a Thomas Harris novel, its gates foreboding and intricate. Every pixel of my peripheral view was final in its lines, hues and movement.

He died just a few days ago. I think. I can’t quite remember. There was nothing black enough, nothing nice enough in my musky drawers. I stared at the stack of clothes I never wore and lost myself in how old they were. I’d never be caught dead in this stuff at school. There were a pair of outdated slacks that fit awkwardly, ones I had to fold up at the edge so it would look less flared… I guess they could work. But what about a blouse? I didn’t own a black blouse. I rummaged through the second stack in the drawer and dug up an old Hurley tank that had the word HURLEY printed in bold white lettering across the chest. Then I shook out the wrinkles of a black button-up shirt I found in another stack in the same drawer. I could wear this over the Hurley tank, couldn’t I? It would look awful, but I could. For shoes, I laced up my triple-striped Adidas. But they were a faded navy blue with white stripes. How did I not have any suitable black clothing? He had just died. I needed something black. Why couldn’t this be like her funeral, where we got to wear white in honor of the dead? White, I had.

I remained uncomfortable for the entire service. I don’t remember seeing him in his casket. Maybe I saw his embalmed visage from a distance? I don’t remember.

I’ve had this bizarre notion of self preservation through the years. I feel the need to right the wrong of that day. Consistently and constantly. I feel the need to reassure myself that I could do it right. That if it ever happens again, I wouldn’t feel so inadequate and unprepared. That death wouldn’t outsmart me. I would know what follows, I would honor the dead dutifully and completely. 

I would have something beautiful and black to wear for the next procession. Fifteen years later, my closet has only black items of clothing alongside minor neutral palettes. Colors and patterns leave a distaste in my mouth. I’ve been wearing black regularly for years. In the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Wherever I go, it’s on me like a second skin. I feel reassured in it. Like I’m prepared for the inevitable.

Meek

May 10, 2015

Time to scrap the courtesies,
the long monologues of misery,
been away for so long,
it took you so long to come back around,
swaying to that hypnotic serenade,
my jumble of romantic words strung together,
for sensual measure, the perfect purpose,
the rise and fall of my breath as it catches between yours,
here in this canopy I lay out my perogative,
my needs laid bare as the Arab sands,
their imminent rumble into a mirage of misguided lust,
of wandering promises and conditioned expectations,
I want the wrong parts of you,
to do the wrong things to you,
I carry the weight of a modern love,
of its incessant and audible machinations,
I want you close by, to feel your rising heat,
as I hold these ghosts at bay.

Another New World

April 7, 2015

The leading lights of the age all wondered amongst
Themselves what I would do next
After all that I’d found in my travels around
The World was there anything left?
“Gentlemen”, I said, “I’ve studied the maps”
“And if what I’m thinking is right”
“There’s Another New World at the top of the World”
“For whoever can break through the ice”

I looked round the room in that way I once had
And I saw that they wanted belief
So I said “All I’ve got are my guts and my God”
Then I paused, “and the Annabelle Lee”
Oh the Annabelle Lee, I saw their eyes shine
The most beautiful ship in the sea
My Nina, my Pinta, my Santa Maria
My beautiful Annabelle Lee

That spring we set sail as the crowd waved from shore
And on board the crew waved their hats
But I never had family just the Annabelle Lee
So didn’t have cause to look back
I just set the course North and I studied the charts
And towards dark I drifted towards sleep
And I dreamed of the fine deep harbor I’d find
Past the ice for my Annabelle Lee

After that it got colder the world got quiet
It was never quite day or quite night
And the sea turned the color of sky turned the color
Of sea turned the color of ice
‘Til at last all around us was fastness
One vast glassy desert of arsenic white
And the waves that once lifted us
Sifted instead into drifts against Annabelle’s sides

The crew gathered closer at first for the comfort
But each morning would bring a new set
Of tracks in the snow leading over the edge
Of the world ‘til I was the only one left
After that it gets cloudy but it feels like I lay there
For days and maybe for months
But Annabelle held me the two of us happy
Just to think back on all we had done

We talked of the Other New World’s we’d discover
As she gave up her body to me
And as I chopped up her mainsail for timber
I told her of all that we still had to see
As the frost turned her moorings to nine-tail
And the wind lashed her sides in the cold
I burned her to keep me alive every night
In the lovers embrace of her hold

I won’t call it rescue what brought me here back to
The Old World to drink and decline
And pretend that the quest for Another New World
Was well-worth the burning of mine
But sometimes at night in my dreams comes the singing
Of some known tropical bird
And I smile in my sleep thinking Annabelle Lee
Has finally made it to Another New World

Josh Ritter
So Runs the World Away
Another New World

Arrival

April 1, 2015

I come around when the action dies, when a moment stands as still as a deadened lake, when the resident owls coo in ominous approval, when the white skirts settle into their stone circle atop the hill, when the songs have broken amidst cries of mourning, when the hearts of many dawn beneath a glowing moon, when the dead come to pardon the living, when the forked road merges into one, when the 14,000-foot mountains rise to the challenge, when the sky grows dark and fills with exploding stars.

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