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selva oscura
10 August 2018 @ 05:10 pm
just finished work on a new piece that incorporates my attempt to evoke an emotionally significant riverline. made this video to document a part of the process i was very apprehensive about, but it's too long for instagram and i'm not 100% proud of my fire safety observances here, though something the video does not show is the spray bottle, mixing bowl full of water and fire extinguisher all in easy grabbing distance. bonus music easter egg if you're paying attention. i listen to that album a lot.

 
 
selva oscura
1.
this time of year i always think about solaris: so here i am, finally initiating my scene-by-scene exploration. i've been watching one chapter a session, two times through at least. for now, i'm trying to make myself stick to just that, even though there are 33 chapters and most of them are less than five minutes in length.

i'm noticing so many things, about solaris and tarkovsky in general.




2.
but that's the thing about investing your time.
time offers some pretty amazing kickbacks.

all time seems to ask in return for such gifts is that you do your best to witness them. you don't even need to send a thank you note. just acknowledge that time gave you something you find meaningful.


3.
i just worried for several seconds about not being able to respect time's preferred pronouns because we have not had that conversation, you know, the one you start by asking who or what you want to communicate with if a conversation about preferred pronouns is wanted. it is important to remember that nobody is entitled to this conversation in order to drive the behavior of never forcing anybody to have it. that is one of the big things that needs improvement in our society: respect for one another's agency. what we want to talk about when we choose to talk about it. not being forced into answering every question. never being forced into explaining why we don't want to answer. communication is good, but nobody gets to know everything about anybody and every last one of us has as much right to express an opinion as we do to hold our silence.

sometimes i don't want to express an opinion.

sometimes i need to not express an opinion.

it is true that sometimes i could benefit from being challenged on that, because i am someone who has been culturally silenced in several ways and that has left scars as well as destructive self-censoring behaviors. operationally, what that means is my sensors for determining the benefit of speaking out have been corrupted, not that i can never have reason to choose silence or that, even though i am someone who has problems speaking up, i am obligated to justify my choice to anyone. i'm not saying that i should never get called out because of this, i'm saying i need to have my agency respected.

that was quite a tangent. fortunately livejournal is a place of tangents holy, mundane and profane; that's a big part of why i always have and still do value livejournal, but back to what i was initially saying: yeah, i don't know what time's pronouns are, and maybe its time to ask if time wants that conversation.

your reaction to the above passage says as much about you as it does about me, by the way. nana nana boo boo.
 
 
mood: lapsang and juniper berries
music: rain
 
 
selva oscura
05 August 2018 @ 07:50 pm
super ego: don't look at the dead rat.
id: GET RIGHT ON THAT AFTER I CHECK TO SEE IF THAT DEAD RAT IS STILL THERE
viseral reaction: DAMNIT WOMAN
super ego: ...given these current august steam bath conditions, it is perhaps in my best interests to avoid inhaling for the next five to ten seconds.
id: BUT WHY
body: [inhales]
id: OH PROBABLY THAT
viseral reaction: OKAY I'M GOING TO HAVE TO INSIST WE MOVE
super ego: that's it. i'm taking a fifteen minute porn break and will be out back. nobody bother me unless my intervention might prevent death, injury or illness.
id: SEE YOU IN THREE SECONDS THEN
viseral reaction: HOW DO I FILE A COMPLAINT
 
 
selva oscura
i figured out what that weird smell in the work room was.
it was a potato.
with toothpicks in it, of course.
from february.

yeah.

mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be witches.

at least it wasn't a dead rat.
there is a dead rat on the stairs in front of the apartment complex.

gosh i'm glad that wasn't here to greet you and your small human, k. (it wasn't, was it?!)

it's been a week.
 
 
mood: so much shame
music: something on my ipod that i don't know what is
 
 
selva oscura
01 August 2018 @ 09:57 pm
nope, still not any easier.
somewhat more horrible, in fact.
horrible in new and unexpected ways.
that's grief, i guess.

 
 
mood: autocomplete is going to remember that forever, you know
music: and i feel fine
 
 
 
selva oscura
the things we hold inside ourselves, neglecting to shape, to sound, to bring into workable form. the things we drop and lose among those other shapes in our lives:

there's only so much we can do with our existing shapes and assumptions, our promises against nothing, our protests against the dull thud of nothing.

i haven't got a shape to make of it.
i haven't got a name for it.
there's nothing i can pull together or sound out.
there's nothing.

nothing i can name and nothing i can do. no one i can name and no one i can call. no one for me to be. i remember, not the exact matter, i remember not exactly what the terms of this agreement might have been, i remember no one thing. i remember multitudes, i remember infernal tangles of options, the things we forget, the things we assume: assumption meaning as it ever has, forgetting in advance. because:

what is the shape of this? the true shape of it? the shape of it when nobody is looking? the shape of it when no one is exerting pressure to force it to perform? what is the shape of it when it does not matter? what is the shape of it again when it's all that does matter?

i thought there was something to say here. i thought i had something to say. i thought i'd balanced my accounts at least enough to spread even a threadbare utterance over the table, something at least, something as a strike against so little, something as the survival of nothing.

backing up from this certainty, backing up from any certainty, backing up from the agonizing and inevitable, the exhausting and unaccountable, the ecstatic and the erroneous, turning another corner at the eternally incomplete. because:

nothing is complete until it is over, and nothing is over even after it is done. i'm looking for signposts. i'm looking for markers along the way. i'm pulling together options and contingencies, because i don't know what it means and i can't know where it's going and so often i am frozen through by the endless horrible possibilities of any naked shivering moment:

that's just how it goes.

i was any number of random assemblages constructed in a variety of manners. i am any manner of contingencies and

why am i writing this, why am i writing it, why do i write at all?

what am i writing? why am i writing it? i fight against my native tendencies until i cannot remember what they are. i try to be someone i'm not until i can't be anyone anymore. i want to make stories so i do something else, instead. i want to name mysteries, draw them just far enough out of nothing to determine a shape, figure a theory, finger grim certainties and knock them aside: i want to describe a mystery just enough so that others see it too, can make a form of the matter, can understand how little there is to understand.

the world is full of mysteries but we do not look for that which we cannot understand.

the world is full of mystery but we want to understand. we do not want formlessness, interminable, shivering, shuddering, piling up, tangles and guttural utterances. the world is full of mysteries but i can't let go of just that one. i love my one mystery and i'm sick to death of it. exhausted and exasperated. wishing there could be another way, another manner of investigation, another name to call it, another thing i could summon toward me:

with similar attributes, but perhaps a more amiable cluster of options. i was a writer. i was, sometimes, an artist. i want to create but i stall out at manifestation. i want to engage in a process, but i forget to finish the job. i cannot finish the job. i cannot let the job go. no job is really ever finished, no work is done until some intangible criteria no mortal can determine but that's what we want and that's what we make for ourselves:

this lie of completion, the false satisfaction of getting it done. what is ever done what is completion in a world made of interminable mystery? what is mystery in a world that demands clear cut resolution on the threat of death? because:

get it done or die. we will confiscate resources. we will allocate no resources to you at all. we will starve you to death. we want results. we want solutions. we want an answer, not a thousand more questions that open the gate to a thousand questions more. we want the impossible made bite-sized and we want it in a secure package on our doorstep inside 48 hours. because mystery is death and death is mystery. because that one thing we can never know until it is all that we know. this one awareness, this shape we sound with every breath and motion. this person we are becoming. this person we've always been.

why am i writing?
why do i engage in this task?
what is the purpose?
what is the gain?

i don't know i don't know i don't know how can i


 
 
mood: storm holler
music: tunnel singer - lyra
 
 
selva oscura
16 July 2018 @ 11:22 pm
it’s a year of water, the water of the year, a year of tears, a year of

i left my body, as most of us do, a thousand twenty times in one day. but this time, i thought to look backward, bent over myself arched over this latest form of abyss. my breathing erratic and my head dropped sideways. my breath and my understanding, coming either in startling bursts or not at all. looking down at myself, i thought to send this uncanny stranger some indication of my presence. so i leaned in. gave myself a kiss. my eyes startled open, rose petals of light still spilling my field of vision and then dissipating themselves into cold films of rosewater spiked bathwater clinging to my every surface not immersed in the chilly tub: except my ears, covered by the headphone cushions

the music is outside / it’s happening outside / the music is outside / the music is outside

outside the music swells and recedes like a thought like a strange after thought after thought after thinking we could be any manner of thing in our thoughts any shape we take any shape necessary to fill the room look out over it look

there's something outside of this. there's something outside of me. there's something we don't know about, something that's coming for us slowly, slowly, coming for us all at once like that you know it you know there's something like that there always is in these sorts of situations in this manner of business there's always something going on of this nature. it's who we are. it's how we be who we are. there's something outside of this. there's something happening outside of this. listen for it, learn to speak its language. learn its customs, its daily routine. learn what it wants, what it needs, what it's looking for


 
 
music: tear ceremony - hello young lovers
 
 
selva oscura
05 June 2018 @ 08:00 pm



judith
how is this current struggle to feel hope, to feel anticipation, to take pleasure in what has yet to unfold - how is my failure to embody these qualities interfering with my connection to source? i mean, i get it. on paper, i understand that if i don't experience hope, if i'm not feeling anticipation, if i'm not taking pleasure in things that have yet to unfold, i lose my sense of wonder. i cannot support joy. joy becomes just another thing i can't afford.

guide
what's something you can anticipate, right now, in this moment?

judith
...i can't identify anything. i know there has to be something. but there's always a problem. it's either too complicated, or it's blotted out by circumstances, or hoping for that makes me a bad person, or i don't deserve it, or it probably won't happen. shouldn't get my hopes up. shouldn't count eggs as chickens. or i've ruined it for myself. or circumstances have damaged too much for me to enjoy it. or anxiety has calcified what could have been joyful anticipation.

guide
you don't trust hope. you've experienced it too many times as a weapon.

judith
is hope a destructive impulse, or is it a survival skill?

guide
as any intangible supply, like happiness or sadness or anger, it's neither and it's both. in the right context, hope will keep you alive; in the wrong, it will kill you dead. hope is powerful. hope is power. hope can be the key and it can be the lock. we are not here to colonize your attentions, but we would like to suggest that you explore the different ways you've hoped over the course of your life. maybe if you can start to understand what causes you to feel hope and what the path of your hope has led you to in the past, you can start to see how letting it back in will help you move. we are not here to interfere with any of your relationships, but maybe you can start to see how anyone who tries to shut down your hope, or exacerbates a situation where you are starting to feel or have already been feeling hopeless, that that is someone you should observe precautions in communication with, especially right now. balance the more challenging interactions with those connections where you can be playful. play is extremely important for you in your current circumstances, when you are arguably more hopeless than you've been at any point in your life prior.

judith
i don't know about that. the first half of 2000 was certainly a world of shit.

guide
indeed, it was.


 
 
music: robert rich - curtain
 
 
selva oscura
1.
around the campfire, we assemble as a coven. my covenmate’s mother has died. my covenmate is three hours out of the emergency room. it was coming from a long ways back. she did not think it would happen for at least a few more years. she stares into the fire. staring into the fire, she leans forward, again singeing the top of her mugwort wand and brushing the smoke back towards her as she speaks.

she does not have passwords.

she has so much to do.

she is glad that they had this last year together.

she told her toddler that his grandmother went to the garden.

she was only 56.

the accumulations of poverty: decades of insufficient healthcare, jobs nobody else wants to do. the collected debts of striving, after all, she did it for us, a tragic chorus my covenmate knows even better than i do. the losses we will not realize the devastation of until that devastation is upon us. i wonder how i can help. i think over my journals, what i have written, what i will write. breathing in, i again wish i could document the smell of woodsmoke exactly for future reference, and by that i mean: this specific fire. this exact moment in time.

my covenmate’s two year old son weaves around us around the fire. he calls us each out by name and attempts to identify notable incidents in our shared recent history.

the little one walks around my lawn chair. he walks clockwise. he points. “judith,” he names. behind the chair, he calls. “roland.” again, he faces me. again, he points. “judith,” he names. behind the chair, he calls again. “roland.” facing me again, he smiles sweetly. “judith,” he names. and behind my chair, he calls again: “roland.” the fire crackles. i lapse into the language of epiphany, where so many words swell wide and overlap the sound can only be understood by the uninitiated as silence.

“you’re right, love,” says his mother. “we did go hiking with judith at lake roland, a couple weeks ago.”

“weeks go.” he giggles, more fey than toddler. i am confident that we’re both aware there’s more to it than that. i reach forward and trace a crescent onto his forehead with my thumb, a common enough salutation between priestesses. he grins at me crookedly, conspiracy in his gaze, and turns away.

“BAMMM-BOOO,” he hollers, pointing at the next witch in the circle.

i don’t know what to think.



2.
my friend died and i am devastated by his loss

AND

my friend killed himself, emotionally disconnected from me completely before doing so, did not reach out to me in any way shape or form to say goodbye, then requested in his final (general assembly) letter that people not gather together to dwell on their sadness about him, and you know what?

goddamnit, paul.

turns out you might need to visit a little roadhouse called “you don’t get to tell me how to grieve.” check out the weekly friday night performance by local up-and-comers “but that’s basically what you did with your non-refundable ticket and turns out i’m pretty damn pissed at you about that.”

because you know that scene in the neverending story where the horse is drowning and you can’t remember a time in your life before you’d seen the neverending story so you know the horse is going to die and as much as you hate that scene you know you’re going to have to watch it again, because, as it happens, you happen to know that’s why you’re watching this movie, right now, in fact, that’s what brought it onto your screen.

because the horse is going to die. and the horse is going to die. atreyu will not be able to save the horse. nobody will save the horse. no matter how many times you watch this scene, it is always the same scene: except worse, these years later, because you have context. loved ones you have also watched drown. loved ones who wouldn’t turn it around. who couldn’t turn it around. who tried with every fucking thing they had to turn it around, but it was big, it was bottomless, it was too big and bottomless to be turned around.

this seed was planted sixteen years and four months before its bitter harvest. paul had, in fact, by the time of this consolidating event, this ultimately successful suicide plan that took sixteen years and four months to run itself through, emotionally disconnected from me completely for several years before he took that step he, in the moment, sixteen years and two months ago, redacted. a more refined strategy than when we were sixteen, that first time we assumed these marks on the stage, our first dress rehearsal, still bearing little resemblance to the final performance.

i didn’t know for 48 hours then, either. two full school days had gone past. i thought: he seemed listless. edgy. like maybe he was coming down with something. i thought: that’s got to be what it is.

i listened to his mother cradle the receiver before i hung up myself. i hung up the phone and slid down the door of the cabinet next to the sink. sitting on the floor, i wondered who i could talk to about this. i couldn’t talk to anyone about this. i shouldn’t need to talk to anyone about this. this was an averted crisis. he hadn’t done what he set out to do. he’d been stabilized. he’d pull through. they planned to move him into the psychiatric ward the next day. he’d be out of the hospital in time for us to take creative writing together in the fall, unless his parents decided he needed to change schools again. oh, god, i’d hate it if we couldn’t take creative writing together, i thought, moments later sideswiped for the first time with that peculiar and guilty bigger picture: that clicked into alignment and i felt like a terrible person. i reminded myself that he hadn’t succeeded, so it was fine. his doctors would make better what his loved ones could not, right? i could think selfish thoughts about our upcoming creative writing class. he was young, he was resilient, and it would be okay, right? right?

except i was worried, as i should have been. i was terrified, as i needed to be.

and i was angry, as i had every right to be.

who the fuck did he think he was, trying to do that? didn’t he understand that his suicide would destroy me? he knew things about me that no one else did. he’d been there for me in ways nobody else could. i loved having him in my life. i loved him. sitting on the kitchen floor that evening with the windows open, the storm rolling in, i folded my arms over my knees and rested my head on my arms. goddamnit, paul, i thought. i don't know what to think.

even worse: his doing this opened up the possibility that other people could do this. other people could be plotting this. other people could sneak suicidal intentions past my notice even as we’d been sitting next to each other in biology lab for the entire school year. passing notes back and forth during filmstrips. drawing on each other’s notebooks. shit. shit.

even worse: what if me? what was i capable of? what if i reached a point where there didn’t seem to be any answers until i thought of the one that he did:

but then. did i even corner him, later that summer? did i shake my fist? tell him “don’t?”

i don’t remember. let’s assume that means i buried it. in ouija boards and weird phenomena. in my first tentative forays into ecstatic writing, shifting the frequency of my awareness with a pen in my hand. when i didn’t know what i was writing, i could write anything. messages from my spirit guides. scenes from other lives, previous, speculative, fantasy. i described dismembered figures and confusing experiences in intermediary states. i documented dreams, as i do now, with no real interest in interpretation. i wrote around my anger. i wrote the long way around my anger.

the friction between these tensions. the place where our losses converge. i wrote it out, as best i was able. i did not know what to do with that writing, so i let it disappear.

i don’t know what to think.


3.
dehydrated, hungry, and strange i pick up the next notebook. i determine for certain if this is a notebook i filled back to front or front to back. i find the starting point and i start: skimming the page, turning the page, skimming the back. i don’t look for very long. sometimes i tear out the pages one by one, sometimes i tear them out in bundles. sometimes i stop, look over the page more closely, tear it out and set it aside: but this is the exception.

i have cast a circle. i have invoked my guides. i have prayed to my gods for guidance in this process: this is a destruction trance. i am dancing the world into ashes.

it is a physical ordeal, as such trances tend to be.

at the end of it, i am not covered with ash but a snowfall of scrap, bits and flicks of notebook leavings. at the end of it i am dizzy, lightheaded, placeless, ungrounded. i ground and center. i burn mugwort and sage. i do not know what i will do with the waste: grief processing, hundreds of scrawled pages from the last three years. i wrote it out, as best i was able. it is true in every respect besides one: none of it owns my anger. i wrote around that. it is time to own my anger. that is the reason i have been called to this ritual: my energy was getting stuck in these pages, and it is time, now, to transform them into an offering.

what are my options? my options are many.



i could shred it, stew it, pulp it and make new paper.

i could burn it and make ink from the ash.

i don’t know what i will do. i don’t know what to think.

all the same.



 
 
music: tor lundvall - the quiet room
 
 
selva oscura
21 May 2018 @ 08:17 pm
multiple times this year i've needed to define boundaries around how much of my dead stuff i will allow strangers to touch.

that's how my year is going. what about you?
 
 
 
selva oscura
orpheus
i was thinking

eurydice
what were you thinking?

orpheus
quite a number of things, many of them incoherent, some of them indecent, others neither here nor there but quite specific in their placelessness. i was just kind of paddling along in that river of thought, looking at all the ports and paths i could divert myself off into and have quite a merry visit, at least for the afternoon, when i had an idea. remember when you played me that one song - what was that one song? the one that

eurydice
“celestial soda pop,” by ray lynch.

orpheus
my, you answered that quickly. how do you know that’s the song i’m asking about? it’s certainly not the only song you’ve ever played for me.

eurydice
and you didn’t notice any of them. that one, you noticed.

orpheus
i’ve noticed other songs you played for me.

eurydice
mostly so you could tell me to turn it off and never make you even accidentally hear it again.

orpheus
what song did i say that about?

eurydice


eurydice
the song you were asking about was “celestial soda pop.”

orpheus
by david lynch. wait

eurydice
ray lynch. david lynch is someone else. you’ve asked about it before.

orpheus
i have?

eurydice
several times.

orpheus
could you put it on a tape for me?

eurydice
sure, but i can’t spare any tapes right now.

orpheus
i’ll bring one tomorrow. i’ll bring two. one for you to put the song on and give back and one to make up to you for trash talking music you like. maybe you could put some peach nightmare on there for me, too.

eurydice
tangerine dream. like those nice gray maxell ones?

orpheus
i know. those are your favorites.

eurydice
so about this idea of yours.

orpheus
you played the soda pop song and you read that poem over it. the one about

eurydice
death.

orpheus
…shapeshifting. it was about waking up in the morning to discover you’d so completely blended into your environment you could no longer see yourself in the mirror. which, yeah. you’re right.

eurydice
death by assimilation.

orpheus
but that’s kind of what i’m getting at. i thought about that poem a lot. i thought about the song you played for it, too. i couldn’t remember the artist or the song name, just that one of them was a little weird, and it was. i kept thinking and thinking about those two things and those two things together until, how do i explain this?

eurydice
your fingertips got itchy.

orpheus
how did you know that?

eurydice
you have “i wrote a song” voice.

orpheus
i have a voice for that?!

eurydice
i like it. it’s almost giddy. you sound like you did that day we found an unopened box of cinnamon toast crunch right after discovering that pbs was running your favorite show about dinosaurs.

orpheus
that’s basically what it’s like, but how do you know about the itchy fingers thing?

eurydice
it's a creative failsafe. your body demanding you explore an idea by irritating you until you do.

orpheus
but itchy fingertips are so specific. i can’t remember ever mentioning it.

eurydice
when you want to work on music but you can’t, you scratch at your fingertips with your thumbnail or rub them on the edge of a tabletop. sometimes there’s tapping.

orpheus
huh.

eurydice
quite a lot of tapping, actually.

orpheus
sorry about that.

eurydice
you’re no drummer, but it’s fine. i get it. i have failsafes, too. mine just tend to be more mood related.

orpheus
oh boy.

eurydice
as you have already observed. i don’t think it’s unusual. my friend anita would twirl her hair when she wanted to dance and couldn’t. the summer before she moved to minnesota, she slipped at the pool and still had her arm in a cast in september. the first day of school we sat next to each other at lunch and i saw she had this whole network of bald spots on the side of her head opposite the broken arm.

orpheus
i don’t understand.

eurydice
see, she broke her arm so she couldn’t dance — and she had this nervous habit of

orpheus
no, what’s this about you having a friend?

eurydice
oh. anita was cool. i slept over at her house a couple times. the first time we sneak-watched legend until two in the morning and ate her brother’s pop tarts. the other she put a stevie wonder record for her signature routine where she leaped over me in my sleeping bag on the basement floor while she was wearing glow-in-the-dark jelly shoes.

orpheus
an interactive performance!

eurydice
she worked a lot with the fourth wall. so about this song that you wrote about my poem.

orpheus
it’s one of my favorites.

eurydice
you played it for me when i was out sick in the winter.

orpheus
i did, but i don’t remember telling you that’s what it was. also i seem to remember you being asleep when i played it.

eurydice
i was awake for everything you played. i wanted to hear all of it. but i didn’t want you to worry that you were keeping me awake, so i pretended to sleep. but i heard that and knew it was in response to my poem. i almost sat up and asked if i could read it for you over the new song, but my throat hurt too much.

orpheus
i’m impressed you could tell.

eurydice
sometimes i can. a lot of the time i can’t. in that song, i could hear my wildflower bedsheets.

orpheus
as you should have. so that’s basically my idea.

eurydice
i write a poem

orpheus
i write a song from that poem

eurydice
i write another poem from that song

orpheus
and so on. until it feels finished or stops being fun.

eurydice
..remember how i’ve been begging you to try something like this since before we started dating?

orpheus
yeah, well, sometimes it just takes me a couple years to catch on.


 
 
music: syntonic research - gentle rain in a pine forest
 
 
selva oscura
unnamed female protagonist
there is a mountain, there are many mountains. there is the mountain one can see, but there is also the mountain beneath it. all that old, ancient earth, cresting and crackling, showing and concealing itself in the same gesture. there is a mountain between us, but it’s only a mountain. we’ve come a long way in recent months.

unnamed male protagonist
have we?

unnamed female protagonist
i’d say. used to be just hearing my name would give you the shakes.

unnamed male protagonist
that’s only because i left you to die.

unnamed female protagonist
i guess, in a manner of speaking, this is true, but it’s not the only truth on record.

unnamed male protagonist
what’s another?

unnamed female protagonist
where were you leaving yourself?

unnamed male protagonist
i wanted to make myself a stain on the pavement. that’s what i felt like, that’s what i deserved. that’s who i wanted to be, at least at the time, at least now, looking back on it.

unnamed female protagonist
that’s sad.

unnamed male protagonist
you don’t know the half of it.

unnamed female protagonist
yes i do.

unnamed male protagonist
yeah, you do. of course you do. you always know stuff like that.

unnamed female protagonist
but only because i think about it so much.

unnamed male protagonist
what do you think about?

unnamed female protagonist
the stories, mostly. the stories that were taken from us. the stories that were taken from me. the stories that were forced upon us. the stories we were abandoned to. the stories waiting patiently for us to remember that they are still waiting, patiently, for us to remember them. i also think about your stories, quite a bit i think about them, but then again, of course i do. you gave them to me for a reason, after all.

unnamed male protagonist
did i?

unnamed female protagonist
did you?

unnamed male protagonist
tell me one of my stories.

unnamed female protagonist
there’s that time you huddled in the shrubbery across the street, watching while my family loaded me into the car. you believed i couldn’t see you and you were correct. i couldn’t see you, i just knew you were there. i didn’t have time to confirm this knowledge, or give it context, i was too busy trying to tear out the last remaining bits of hair on my father’s head and clawing at the eyes of this total stranger claiming to be my aunt. i couldn’t believe it was actually happening. i couldn’t believe my own father thought this was an appropriate solution to a situation he’d never even tried to understand. i couldn’t believe you were there, in the bushes, standing there staring at it, letting it happen. or maybe i could. my opinion of you was in a period of rapid transition, as you might recall.

unnamed male protagonist
it’d pretty much have to be.

unnamed female protagonist
it’s never been anything you couldn’t recover, you know. you were scared. you let fear drive the ship. scared people do much more horrible things to each other all the time, and they recover from it. all it usually takes is trying. five or six “i’m sorries,” properly placed, a good letter, some respectful listening, maybe a little present. i like roses. i’m really not a hard woman to satisfy, in this respect. mostly all i need is for you to make clear that my continued presence in your life matters to you.

unnamed male protagonist
point of clarification?

unnamed female protagonist
yes?

unnamed male protagonist
what for you constitutes a "good" letter?

unnamed female protagonist
my criteria is arbitrary.

unnamed male protagonist
as it should be. got anything else?

unnamed female protagonist
there’s that time your parents tried to kill you.

unnamed male protagonist
you mean my childhood?

unnamed female protagonist
there’s that time you set fire to your dead father’s guitar.

unnamed male protagonist
that one’s pretty good. tell that.

unnamed female protagonist
you found it in the attic one day when you were hiding up there, burning japanese incense in a burner you made out of a beer bottle and sand and reading proust. you hadn’t known your father to have any inclination toward music, though you hadn’t really known your father.

unnamed male protagonist
he threw himself in the chesapeake when i was five.

unnamed female protagonist
wait a minute, now, who’s telling this story?

unnamed male protagonist
sorry.

unnamed female protagonist
you found the guitar up there in the attic. you found it and thought, i always wanted to be able to play the guitar. maybe you’d play it for me, you thought. you hadn’t even known you had this desire until you discovered that you had the tool necessary to teach yourself how to do it, or, at first, you thought you did. you pulled it out from under the broken end table it was supporting to assess its condition. that’s when you discovered the dedication. this had been a wedding present. someone actually gave your parents a gift for their wedding and marked this guitar accordingly. it had your parent’s initials with a heart between them and what must have been the date of their wedding, reason being it was four months before your birthday.

unnamed male protagonist
our birthday.

unnamed female protagonist
our birthday. functionally, it was not functional. no strings. chewed up fretboard. the body was warped and separating in places. it honestly looked like it had been used as a planter.

unnamed male protagonist
no it hadn't. i never said that.

unnamed female protagonist
the story needs to be free. let the story be free.

unnamed male protagonist
okay, but the guitar i burned hadn't ever been used as a planter.

unnamed female protagonist
anyway, what ruined that first guitar for you was that damn dedication. music shouldn’t lie, you thought, so you drove out to the drugstore for some lighter fluid and set it on fire that sunday morning, while your mother and uncle were inexplicably at church as they were every sunday morning. it's when you could burn things, on sunday mornings.

unnamed male protagonist
and i really should have burned it further from the house.

unnamed female protagonist
…but that’s a story for another time.


 
 
music: pteranodon - adrift
 
 
selva oscura
27 March 2018 @ 01:15 pm
home
the olive tree, the rose garden, the rock pit. that place of relentless white sage, still green in late january. that place where lavender does not thrive. one pussycat, once two, before that three. three before ben and i moved to our apartment on the hill, this newer version of

home
meaning baltimore, that city i claimed (when it's not claiming me) our relationship: tempestuous, tumultuous, ten thousand contradictions down the fold: what happens when, what happens where, what is

home
but a connection, a container, our evidence of the divine: just as it's that place we're most likely to take a shit. home is all of us. every aspect. all our names: legal, diminutive, derogatory: also those names we can't yet speak. i've named home as home names me. i call home as home calls me. called home, i wonder: what will be my name this time? what is this mystery, this deeper drawing in, this matter i've been staring at my whole life through without really looking at?

IMG_20180326_155939.jpg
 
 
selva oscura
14 March 2018 @ 04:19 pm
and yet, we keep walking. we keep balancing. we keep drawing from obliteration to keep us this side of it. and so i walk my path, pre-arranged though it may be, a turn here, a jog there. walking into the sun and away from it again, on the same path. in a walking labyrinth, the one traversing that path must negotiate several kinds of release.

release, the oracle draw again suggests: release.

journey on release. write about release. meditate on it.

for instance, you must release the idea that what you are walking towards is a tangible goal. you must release the idea that this effort you are expending is going to get you somewhere. you must release that there is a commodity waiting for you at the end of this trail, as all that is really waiting for you is the walk back out. you have walked a thousand steps over the course of several minutes, towards what is essentially nothing more than a different spot on the ground. and once you are there, you will turn around and walk back out several thousand steps to another spot on the ground. surrender. surrender. surrender. each turn is a new method of surrender.



the picture is a lily, dripping. nectar, though i don’t know that this is a nectar producing flora.* rainwater, then. tears. this year at samhain, i drew the three of swords. the card was from the same deck i gifted my best friend at the winter solstice my first year of college. as such, it is not a deck i can read from, but it adds this deeper layer to the draw.

and so for this journey, i enter a walking labyrinth. i circle and i turn and i twist and i drop and when i'm walking near one of the outside circuits, i take off my dress and cast it along the path. i walk through the labyrinth until i reach its center. and at its center, i close my eyes. when i open them again, when i open my eyes again, when i open my internal eyes, i look out over the landscape before me. i see clouds. i see atmosphere. i see diffused light along the edges of vapor. and i sit, i sit in the midst of this manifold release, this release of releasing, rain, tears from the sky pouring down. i look around me in the clouds. and i ask: clouds, sky, what do you need to tell me, what do you want to tell me, about release?

as in: this is an image of triple mourning from a gift i gave to a friend i’ve mourned three times over. this is an image of letting go. of letting grief have its way.

of acknowledging pain.

of releasing that tension i’ve been stowing deep in every part of me so long i can no longer let myself relax, lest it take over.

heart palpitations. dysphoria. headaches. back spasms. clenching my jaw. clawing inside my arms. hard swallows. i can't find release. i won't find release. release and i cross paths on baltimore city streets every day, but we won't make eye contact. i slouch and whine and tire of paranoia: i haven’t even been able to use brainwave entrainment since 2015

(yeah. 2015. maybe that one isn't so much a mystery, after all.)

and the best friend i couldn’t keep, whose release caused a dramatic shift, all three times, in fact?

what kind of process am i looking at?

and that thick cloud cover, those thick clouds covering any other way of being that might fall into my sight, they billow around me, they quilt the landscape, they barely move. i stretch out my hands and touch that vapor, that vapor that looks like something so much more dense than vapor. i take it into my hands. i work it between my palms, i raise it to my heart, and i let it go. [journey, 11.14.2017]
_______________________________
*it is


 
 
music: syntonic research - gentle rain in a pine forest
 
 
selva oscura
07 March 2018 @ 05:07 pm
the thread got away from me again, as the thread has been wont to do in these months into years since my first reader died and i wish i could say grieving makes anything even tangentially resembling something along the lines of sense, but i cannot, and i should not try, for grieving is a mystery, and a mysterious one at that.

in the tarot workshop i took this january, the instructor offered maybe a minute of her thoughts to every card in the rider waite smith deck. for the ten of swords, currently known to me as “the suicide card” because of how it arrived before me in the hours before i knew for certain that p had ended his life, she pointed out how the figure pinned to the ground by ten broadswords was maybe wearing a blindfold and, in the tarot, in the mystical traditions that this deck drew its imagery from, blindfolds indicate initiation.


i don't see it but maybe you will


this shifted something for me, enough so that i could start to think of the card as being something other than an indication that my reading is now over and maybe i will mark this occasion by putting my tarot cards away in that nice locking cabinet in another room for a few days while it thinks about what it's done.

That Day i read from the haindl, and though the haindl version of this card still freezes me through, maybe now i can at least look at it? initiations are important to me, and recognizing them as moments when i was blindfolded, removed from some previously accessible part of my experience? if anything in my life has been an initiation, if anything in my life is an initiation, it is mourning the death of my first reader. the first person to ask to read more. the first person to call me up after a really bad day at school and beg me to not let those fools stop my pen. the first person who genuinely, openly, and repeatedly told me: i love your work.


i always kind of knew this one was gonna bite me on the ass


since, i've been working with the ten of swords, talking to it, listening to it. what i've heard so far:

this is what happens when, instead of nourishing those roots that have wriggled their truth into our experience, we try to force our idea of roots, our manufactured expectations of them, into exhausted soil that needs rest.

this is what happens when, instead of seeing and loving what we have as it comes to us, we become addicted to unsustainable improvement.

this is who we become when we refuse to acknowledge who we are.

this is what happens when we let our loved ones fall through the cracks because we are too lost in our own drama.


i don’t know and i can’t know. journal 14 buckles with its own weight. there’s too much in this book and not nearly enough at the same time. i wrote three entries in 2017. my baseline weaves, drunk and discerning. i’m embarrassed and disappointed in myself yet again, and yet, at the same time, oh my god, how many of my resources am i wasting on shame? because: it is not worth it. shame is best used as a tool, not a cudgel. so sometimes my words glint with diamond cut precision and other times they do not. does that mean i dump journal 14 for another without so many wipe-outs and scars? or might it be better to see it as an act of compassion for myself to start fresh, not be able to turn back and see that long-hand train wreck i made on 8/12/2016*: fatalistic, self-destructive, and a whole lot of crazy besides?

i am crazy, is the thing. comparatively, my variety of crazy is quite preferable to the sad, scary and exhausting crazy i see out there in the world, so there’s that. i’d much rather be the kind of crazy where i’m grieving the trauma of what others have done to me and my loved ones than the kind of crazy where i am, with awareness, doing things to traumatize others. however, i know i’ve made mistakes and i continue to make them. it’s the misery of daily striving, my payback for grinding up dryads so i can something with which to wipe my crazy ass.

or write words on: i remember arguing with codrescu’s assertion in the poetry lesson that a notebook used for poetry must be bound in flesh because in order to speak truth we must make sacrifices: not because it wasn’t true, but because haven’t the trees pulped into this paged reliquary soaked with ink sacrificed enough? why is a dryad’s sacrifice any less meaningful?** too feminine, perhaps. femininity exists for sacrifice, at least from the perspective of that unchecked masculine entitlement we are, all of us, no matter your gender identification, drowning in. our bodies for babies, our beauty for passing fancy. our sanity and sometimes our lives for dubious initiations. but, then again



a voice in my head aggressively argues with every attempt i make to comb through systemic oppression so i never really look at what is pressing on me the hardest because i’m not getting the words exactly right. it's a big part of the block. i’m worse than some blossoming alcoholic his sophomore year of college explaining away your right to even question anything he thinks by way of dead white male philosophers you have zero interest in reading yourself.

this is my fucking diary, everything i write here does not need to be unassailable.

this is my fucking diary, i can trip and stumble around what i really mean and not presume to speak to the experience of anyone but my womanly, poor, neurodivergent self. with my weird religion and my queer coding. with all those things i feel no right to claim.


__________________________________
*though it did contain the following gem, of which i am still proud: “somebody snatched up [my pluck and determination] during borders liquidation for a quarter, along with microfiber bamboo dog booties and industrial waste repurposed as very shitty perfume.” i will have my vengeance, so you are aware. one day the streets will sing with the blood of those captors who subjected me to two months worth of shifts where yet another excessive box of multicolored stink bottles broke open every day. i have no idea who they are, the people responsible for putting me in this situation, but they will pay.
**i minimized the experience of arboreal awareness in the previous passage and apologize for this failure.


 
 
music: his darker paintings - john b mclemore
 
 
 
selva oscura
21 February 2018 @ 01:56 pm
more fruit from journal 12, which i kept while i wasn't really posting to livejournal as frequently. i also have some new entries to write, but have been enjoying this block-dismantling process ramp up and hope you have, as well. written in spring 2014. i'm putting the majority of this post under a cut, however, because (one of the reasons i did not post it at the time) it seems like it could be triggering. i mean, i was working with my own triggers, so.

____________________________________________
at the walters i peer into cabinets. skulls and brass, cloisonné and breasts. seven varieties of snuff bottles and a portable inkwell with red tassel ornamentation.

a portrait of lucretia with bare breasts and a ready knife.
CONTENT WARNING: historical rape culture, contemporary rape culture, academic rape culture, rape culture, dylan farrow, child abuseCollapse )
 
 
music: tor lundvall - scrapyard
 
 
selva oscura
16 February 2018 @ 12:05 am
investigating paper journal entries where i pick up a dropped thread (trying to understand how i did that)


7.8.2013 [5 mos. without an entry]

where to start is the problem, because nothing begins when it begins and nothing's over when it's over, and everything needs a preface, a postscript, a chart of simultaneous events. history is a construct... any point of entry is possible and all choices are arbitrary. still, there are definitive movements, movements we use as references, because they break our sense of continuity, they change the direction of time. we can look at these events and we can say that after them, things were never the same again. they provide beginnings for us, and endings too.
- margaret atwood, the robber bride, from "onset"


funny, how time piles up on itself. or would it be more accurate to say: how time jumbles up upon itself? because that's more the way of it, this jumble of time, this tangle of time, this incoherent and directionless force that will survive all of us: time. if we said "the pile of time," there's an accuracy in this sort of hoarding accumulation; though a pile might infer some degree of linearity; one event stacked upon an event that occurred before it; the individual confronted with a time pile would therefore, one might assume, experience the most impact from the event on the top of the pile - that which has most recently occurred while each event behind that would lessen in impact, poignancy, emotional draw.

really, it is nothing like that. time is more of a tangle, a jumble: otherwise, how could yesterday be so easily swallowed up in the shadow of something that happened a full week before? how could you be traveling on a road nowhere near the road you are remembering so perfectly; completely perfumed in the essence of seventeen years prior, the same fall of light, the same unbearable longing, now so much more clear than whatever you were thinking about when you turned off the highway?

these ghosts that possess us so totally, that take control of all our senses. these ghosts of ourselves. it's not digging into a pile, it can't be. it's more like brushing up against a thread started some years before. like how, upon coming to the end of certain labyrinths, you walk closer than you have at any other point to the entryway.


Tags:
 
 
music: edgar froese - aqua
 
 
selva oscura
14 February 2018 @ 04:47 pm
talking about the weather, navigating an unknown landscape by attempting to find familiar routes. people do have opinions about weather, but they tend to be fairly mainstream and innocuous.

oh, that weather.

how i do wish that weather were different.


no need to elaborate further, you know: i wish it rained here like in seattle! i could sure use another forty inches of snow! like talking about music with boys, generally it's best to not voice your shamed dissent on the matter, instead smiling in a non-committal fashion at your new acquaintance and letting them take the lead: so long as it stays about the weather. no need to tiptoe through the minefields of religion, civil rights, healthcare or consumerism.

of course, now weather could mean cornering yourself into a debate with a climate change denier, and we all know how that goes. what could be worse, that or a paleo diet enthusiast? is this the crowning achievement of my culture? taking away the one topic we could take up with strangers without the threat of yet again getting pronounced a radical satanic slut and run out of trader joe's?

we increasingly seem driven to isolate ourselves. vanish into our homesteads, our careers, our hobby-driven blogs. maybe we want to isolate ourselves, protect ourselves from the "other," only combine with those who are similar enough to us to not cast doubt on our priorities, especially when we know, deep down, that our priorities could use a second look.

now, even with people i'd never expect to engage in social marginalization of this nature, there might be a continual process of limitation on who meets individual standards. not foodie enough. not christian enough. not radical enough. not slutty


Tags:
 
 
mood: don't you doubt my 'slutty'
music: korouva - into the dark water
 
 
selva oscura
13 February 2018 @ 06:42 pm
1.
look at this
uncurated certainty
this stepping back
from


2.
one of those places where there is little to be looked at.
one of those places where there is little to be seen.

in the end, there is your certainty
that there would be an end: i guess
you can always be sure of that.

the blackening root
the place where no nourishment flows
the stagnant place
the place of decay

don't leave this here
don't leave us here
don't leave me

do you understand?
this equation won't balance.
do you understand?

our answer in that place
where water meets air


3.
not a single line but a myriad
our indeterminate network

no sense of where this came from
or where it goes from here

no single matter but every matter
that has ever been
 
 
music: the slaves - shadow
 
 
selva oscura
23 January 2018 @ 01:13 pm
i am judith’s creative block. i swell to fit the space i’m in. i take up everything, i take everything: time and mood, a respectable relationship with food: tablespoons of peanut butter right out of the jar, so why do you think you’re all blocked up? the stabbing shock at the end of “CAN’T.” you can’t, can you? sure you can’t. sure you didn’t. there, i did my job.

i am judith’s creative block. i do my job well. i do my job comprehensively. i am successful in my work of making judith unsuccessful in hers. it’s a synergistic dynamic! for one of us, anyway. the one of us who matters, and by that i mean: judith.

you know who matters to an abuser? the person they are abusing. the person they sneak up behind with a shove, offer a hundred names in the course of one day, the person they are always thinking about: doesn’t get doesn’t deserve doesn’t doesn’t doesn’t doesn’t, let’s send her a message, let’s leave an impression: people have worked so hard to leave an impression on judith. shame that it all faded so quickly, purple to gray to wasteland dusk, then gone. it’s a shame. some of their work could’ve won prizes. but then again, judith’s blank canvas of unmarked skin taunted so many abusers back to their chosen form of self-expression, for she inspires many to test their limits. try new mediums. explode that which had held them back:

i am judith’s creative block. i have all the answers, but that comes at a price. you could charge at my farthest boundary, i don’t have the resources to maintain sufficient security there: for i am straining my resources just with the front line.

so what do you say, judith? are you ready for my dubious gifts? i need you, but you don’t need me. i don’t exist without you, but all you have to do to get away from me is get on with your life. your time is your own. so is your energy. what i am is a concept: of course i can make myself big or small, as big or small as i want to be, i’m not really there.

i’m judith’s creative block.

i’m omnipresent and i’m not really there.

listen to me, will you listen to me? could it be that there’s something important i might have to say? what’s a form without its boundary? what’s a song with all those notes you do not play? sculpt me from the darkness, sculpt me with darkness, sculpt me out of the darkness: any way you slice me, i am still a part of things. a block of potential, awaiting your chisel. awaiting your discerning erasure. holy excess. holy emptiness. holy letting go.

what do you want to make, judith? look how through you can be in your methodology of blocking. look how detail oriented, how driven you are to blocking yourself in! blocked at every pass, you are, blocked at every pass. in the theater arts, “blocking” refers to scripting motion so the narrative can unfold without the performers having to figure out where to put their bodies as they go. well?


 
 
music: chubby wolf - on burnt, gauzed wings