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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
i was thinking

what were you thinking?

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

“celestial soda pop,” by ray lynch.

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.

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

i’ve noticed other songs you played for me.

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

what song did i say that about?


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

by david lynch. wait

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

i have?

several times.

could you put it on a tape for me?

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

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.

tangerine dream. like those nice gray maxell ones?

i know. those are your favorites.

so about this idea of yours.

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


…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.

death by assimilation.

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?

your fingertips got itchy.

how did you know that?

you have “i wrote a song” voice.

i have a voice for that?!

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.

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

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

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

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.


quite a lot of tapping, actually.

sorry about that.

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

oh boy.

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.

i don’t understand.

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

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

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.

an interactive performance!

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

it’s one of my favorites.

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

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.

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.

i’m impressed you could tell.

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

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

i write a poem

i write a song from that poem

i write another poem from that song

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

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

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

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

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
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

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

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?

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.

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

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

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

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
selva oscura
20 January 2018 @ 04:59 pm
my relationship to time is wobbling, shaking the matrix, not centered quite right: a matter of some import housing a matter that cannot be discerned. after all, how much is even in here, and what is the quality of it?

is it mysterious, gleamed with obsidian: well outside my current understanding, thought for the thinking, thinking to grow on? does it glow uncanny, long with shadow? or is it aisle after aisle of normative big buy nothing stacked to the rafters under a sickening fluorescent strobe?

how much time do i have, i wonder, what will the quality of that time be, i wonder, and that un/certainty is often what makes my potential alliance with time feel strained and antagonistic.

(listening to records as i write: at that line, the record dropped out. spiraled out slow, like a cartoon shock. spiraled out slow and then nothing, nothing, 5:29PM, “taphead,” two dead seconds two minutes from the end: it’s a record, i’m spinning it out as a record, laughing stock, laughing stock: whether or not it started up again with a phonographic echoing warble, i don’t like how that felt at all.)

hard boundaries. mortality. limitations. tick, tick, tick. men always seem to get more of it. more time to think things over, more time to have kids, more time to have a second thought. men always seem to get more time: like they get more of everything good to get. more power, more money, more employment options. more readers. more privacy, more fabric to more comprehensively cover more parts of their bodies, more leniency when they cannot make it on time.

it’s supposed to be okay that he’s got more, at least we’re not supposed to talk about it too much or we will get slapped with undesirable labels. that’s why we don’t make it into some kind of big thing, we cannot. it’s a man’s world. it’s a world for a man. as such, men can trick themselves into believing they don’t have a relationship with time. they do, but they can pretend otherwise: quite a number of them even get away with it, for a time.

the cultural idea of a woman, you see, is that we are made of cycles. women count time. women run time through their bodies and their daily activities: women are made to be time pieces. men get all our time. all our work and our waiting. all our best words. all the time we put in to make ourselves presentable: to men, for a man, for other women who judge us with the standards set by men.

my relationship with time is dictated by men’s relationship with time: sloppy seconds, the raw deal, the load-bearing necessity. abandon us for a dog’s life and then complain about how much cuter we were before, how much more energetic, optimistic, fertile: tell me again. tell me again how much time i have left to go back to school! the problem there isn’t with time, the problem is with coordinating my resources. the time, the money, the resilience, the social network. the capacity to demonstrate my talents when a better future is on the line.

my relationship with time is confusing. will time take me to the prom? is time expected to call me first, or should i just bite the bullet and make the first move? first, last, always. always about time. always about time.


music: joy division - twenty four hours
selva oscura
always this certainty: this pulling in
this pulling away
this draw to draw: always moving

i remember that first moment i needed to remember as a moment

now it is all fragments. laboratory experimentation. something not yet this side of comprehension: something that could, just as easily, slip away

so slip away. there are answers. there are certainties. there are paths for matters to take: but nothing aligns, not one response pairs with a call: just slipping away into certainties, into conclusions we never asked for: conclusions simply thrust upon us and abandoned

did you think
did you really think

do you ever
think at all

nevermind that wasn't really what i was getting at
diversion tactics, i've indulged my share

i wanted to be an answer, not a reasonable solution.
i wanted to be an answer, not someone else’s excuse.
if i wrote it plain, that could be embarrassing, so instead

i’ll say
i meant to say something

but then again

again i said something isn’t right here
again i said we’ve been left to our own
again i said something, but i don’t know what
i couldn’t make out the words
i wouldn’t bring the words together
and now we’ve been left to whatever we’ve been left to
whatever that may be, whatever we’ve forgotten
to make it into

and the oceanic roar of my uncertainty
the rising tide of my general deficiencies
the infernal noise of my repeated undoing
undone and unfinished i draw my jagged nail
alongside the interior ripples of my opposing arm
a creature of air bound to the earth
crowned with fire, soaked through with brine

the laboratory abandoned. the experiment unfunded. always this un/certainty:

i have nothing to say

music: pteranodon - across the sea
selva oscura
09 January 2018 @ 01:43 pm
the cold, the bitter cold, the shivering cold, the isolating cold. the cold of defining circumstances, the cold of a limitation. you’re getting colder. colder still. cold, cold, cold. resistance, cold. silencing cold. shivering, i pull my sleeves over my hands and duck my hood over my head. shivering, i feel winter’s chill seeping in around me, pinching at my exposed surfaces, reminding me i am a vulnerable creature negotiating my relationship to the elements in every moment, in every movement, in every stage of life: from my first gasping wail in the doctor’s arms until my last breath:

and what it is, at the end of it, what is the purpose of this struggle? why do i continue to consume the mother’s resources as though i’ve earned my access to them? why do i insist, not simply on survival, but pleasure: desire, mystery, a meandering path? who am i, whoever it is that i am here, and why: and why: and why and why? i’m tired. i’m lonely. the cold is a dull ache way down in my bones. things don’t feel like they’re coming together. things feel like they’re coming apart.

other things, thing that can’t fall apart fast enough in the interests of the survival of my species, such things consolidate their power, become impenetrable, become an unholy force. shivering, in the cold, i am vulnerable to it. shivering, in the cold, i worry that too many of us haven’t got a lot of time left.

so i wonder: what does this mean? and i wonder: what’s taking so long? and i wonder: why the fuck do i keep ending up back here, where there are never any answers, only more waiting and questions?

i could start a fire. i could burn it to the ground. i could deny my own name, or insist it be only spoken by those who speak it in power, with respect, with appreciation for everything i have survived, every last thing i am yet surviving, everything i will continue to survive until survival drops its last grain of sand through my hourglass.

i’m a witch and a wanderer, a woman of the crossroads, a woman between the worlds but i can’t: and i can’t: and i cannot still: still the wind, the cacophony of sleet, the maddening relentless rain stirring on the roof, like a dull roar, a roaring dullness, the white nose generator of that with which i cannot cope. curled up in bed, covered with blankets, swaddled in layers upon layers with a wool hat pulled down over my ears. we are weak, and ineffectual, and i cannot fail you like that again but the land itself is giving way with failure and i can’t look! i can’t look! i should not look:

but i do. heaven’s aflame. hell’s rock solid with ice. ice inside, ice outside, ice in translucent elemental glass or glittering touches of frost: ice performed in the touch of exposed fingers, fingers exposed to the sureness of definitive of cold and cold and cold. but it won’t stop, but it is relentless. but if we sleep we shall not awaken: so wake up, stay awake, blow into the folded cavern of your fingers, rock back and forth, light the hearth when you can, fill the room with glass jar candles so it can fossilize into memory, so it can blow itself over and out:

i used to have words for this. i used to have words. i filled pages and notebooks, i bottomed out internet forms. now it’s cold and the words have gone rigid with it. words are hard to come by, hard to catch, hard to shape into anything more fluid than the same stark necessity from which they came. but look for the evidence. the tracks left deep in the snow. listen for it. i don’t know what else to tell you. listen and be enlightened.

i tell myself: there is warmth in this landscape. there is safe haven to be found. my efforts toward improvement will make my situation improve. it could be that i am just kidding myself. it could be that’s another unsatisfying development in the directory of ways i can be diverted from my cause. but it’s cold, and my resources are dwindling. it’s cold, and i cannot survive such cold for very much longer. it’s cold and, soon enough, i must move on.

so listen, will you? feel the change. feel the change and make some changes, should you not like where that change is going. except i don’t know, and i really don’t know, i don’t know and i don’t know, i don’t know again i don’t know. i do not. i do not, do not know.

selva oscura
13 December 2017 @ 08:08 pm
a year and a half ago i joked to a friend that orpheus was my high school boyfriend. it was one of those things blurted out with barely a thought, but i heard it, stopped, and thought about what i’d said. in its own way, it was true; and, in its own way, it was important for me to realize: not in the least because it started a book.

music informed my development in a number of ways. music taught me different ways of approaching and appreciating something that may have deeply confused me the first time i heard it. music taught me that an album i loved wasn’t always a pleasurable listen; in fact, sometimes the albums i loved most were also the ones that frightened me or gave me a headache. i loved music, so music taught me a lot about love: what i loved, how i loved it, how experiencing that love changed me.

a tale of three aprils:

i checked out in visible silence from the library where my mother worked because of the cover art, which felt like something i’d draw. i sat in my new ecru beanbag chair with my new headphones on, entirely unprepared for what i was about to hear.

the only other tape i’d checked out from the library to that point was men at work’s business as usual. even just three seconds in, i couldn’t say this was anything like that. i couldn’t say what this was like, except that it shook up images and atmospheres from dreams i’d forgotten, or previous lives, or the universal unconscious, or who even knows. somebody made this music, i thought, but where did they get it from? it struck me for the first time that there was so much music out there about which i had no idea, to which i might not even have access: what if i never crossed paths with my favorite artists?

i remember the exhausted exhilaration, the fear, the urge to steal the tape for myself. my mom had only been working at the library for a few months, so i didn’t, but that was my first glimpse of the sacred relationship between music and theft.*


the power went out before school one morning. because we couldn’t be trusted in the cafeteria, we were herded into the gymnasium. two windows as opposed to none, i guess. it was still quite dark. annoyed with my friends, i slipped away so i could climb up onto a stack of gym mats and listen to remain in light.

in this period, i frequently routed my earbuds up through my clothing and wore my hair loose so i could leave them on all day. what i’m saying is: the wire from my headphones was a tactile presence between my breasts and over my abdomen. i was okay with that. orpheus and me in a stolen moment, making out on gym mats in the almost dark.


i’d been sick with an upper respiratory infection for a week and couldn’t think straight. the doctor apparently felt i was at increased risk for pneumonia. in order to avoid it, he told me, i needed to rest and avoid cold air. so the next morning, i got on my bike and rode to the neighborhood strip mall. without a coat. in weather that might have topped off at 50 degrees. teenagers.

from the drugstore, i bought junior mints and a bar of yardley triple milled rose soap. from the video rental place, i bought talk talk’s laughing stock, which i’d been courting for a year. bending to unlock my bike’s combination chain, i broke into a cold sweat and only just barely didn’t throw up a half box of junior mints on the rack.

still, i survived the two largely uphill miles home and collapsed on the living room floor. shaking from exertion. dripping with fever. “that doctor was sure right,” i deliriously informed my feline friend as he licked my eyelids, historically a successful resuscitation technique, though this one time it could have been for the salt. i crawled upstairs and took a hot bath. i crawled out of the tub and into my bathrobe. in my bathrobe, i sat on the corner of my recently floored boxspring and pried my new CD out of the clamshell.

the sacred relationship of music and theft: this album should have scared the junior mints out of me, but because i’d allocated resources from my physical wellbeing to get it, and/or because my brain was strange with fever, and/or because of some other reason, i heard it like i’d never heard anything before. not that i could say what i was hearing, except for that it shook up images and atmospheres from dreams i’d forgotten, or previous lives, or the universal unconscious, or who even knows. i remembered who i was. i remembered who i wasn’t. i closed my eyes and let “ascension day” take me wherever it wanted me to go.

so where does music want me to go?

where does love want me to go?

along with the artists for which i proudly wore shirts, there has always been an artist, a few artists, an album, a mix tape of songs, a show i recorded off the radio: something i regularly listened to that i didn’t talk about, that i didn’t share with friends, that i kept for myself. sometimes by accident, sometimes by subconscious intention, sometimes by overt herculean effort. i wasn’t sure why. i felt guilty about it. at first, it felt so good to share music. at first, i wanted to share every song that i loved with every person who was willing to hear it, and i wanted to hear every song that meant something to someone i loved. it was play for me, it was one of the safest forms of sexual contact. orpheus was my high school boyfriend, after all, and the only one who ever gave me mix tapes back. good thing they were all so good.

then again, that could very well be why nobody gave me mix tapes back.

then: i got into a bad fight with one close friend. i'd introduced him to one of my favorite albums and, consequentially, his favorite band. as much as i loved playing musical matchmaker, as much as i loved the compersion trip i got off of introducing someone to something they found meaningful, i found that sharing music could have some ugly consequences. after the fight, not only could i not really listen to that album any longer, i couldn't listen to anything from that band; it all made me too angry and sad.

then: another close friend really didn’t like me to have media i wasn’t sharing with her. she was jealous of anything that took my attention away from our friendship, and she was very jealous of the music i listened to most. this wasn’t a problem until it was. when it became a problem, i understood something important about love:

but i couldn’t iterate it at all for a few years. i struggle to iterate it even now. i was already practicing it, to the best of my ability, and i practice it still. i will try to explain here.

active listening, for me, means engaging without attachment to outcomes.

maybe i will delight in what i am about to hear, maybe i will be disgusted by it. maybe it will change my life in some way, probably it will change my life in some way, but i have no place trying to define such a change in advance. i am not going to understand everything about a song in one listening; in fact, especially when i love a song, i am never going to understand everything about it, and i have no interest in trying.

that is an important ingredient in love for me: something about it will always remain a mystery. as it should be. each instance of contact has the potential of offering something new, but that’s never to be assumed. assuming i will “get something” out of every instance of contact with anyone or anything i love means objectification. it traps that person, creative expression, or idea inside my expectations. it forces my limitations on them. it violates both our boundaries. it makes who or what i love into a thing. i don’t like mixing up love with expectations. i don't demand the beloved to be who i expect them to be or do what i expect them to do. i want to experience them as they are: the being i am in love with.

love, for me, means engaging without attachment to outcomes.

i do not submit to my culture’s current mainstream interpretation of seduction, which can have everything to do with control and commodification and very little, if anything, to do with love.

seduction should not be anywhere near the rape spectrum. unfortunately, because of the world we’ve made, it is. it’s become a way of manipulating one person into surrendering to another’s will, often using tools to impair the will of the person being seduced: gaslighting, pressure tactics, inebriants. oh, god, reclaiming speak: it’s power-over, not power-with. it risks erasing the will of the other, turning our very bodies against us.

many of us have been wounded by seduction-as-weapon. through sex. through marketing. through social ambition. through politics. through society brainwashing us into believing that seduction can only ever be used as a weapon and you better be the one wielding it or you will only ever get used. the overculture’s interpretation of seduction means engaging exclusively because of an assumed outcome. relationships resulting from this kind of seduction aren’t about “who do i want to share my life with,” but, instead, “who can get me the best version of what i want as quickly as i want it?”

consumer love sabotages the development of agency. fuck, it promotes the attitude that agency, that of others and ultimately your own, is nothing but a pesky obstacle to material success. it totally is, by the way. developing one's free will is a horrible way to succeed in business, no matter what line those seductive bootstraps are trying to feed you. that's a truth you can take to the bank. or not, but anyway.

probably it’s because of my history, but the only way seduction works for me is if it is mutual. shared seduction. an invitation to go deeper, to share sacred risk, to revel in mystery. to experience what is there, even if we cannot understand it, in the moment or ever. to embody sacred will. to honor the other’s will as sacred. to surrender to each other.

where does music want me to go? where does love want me to go? nowhere i need to be forced. nowhere i need to force anyone else. maybe where we already are. so: where am i, really?

gratefully in audience of orpheus, as i’ve ever been.

*NOTE: this is a mystery, one about which the author has written dozens of pages that she can never show anybody. please understand that the author is not condoning literal theft in any way shape or form. it both is and isn’t more complicated than that.
music: grouper - we've all gone to sleep
selva oscura
07 December 2017 @ 02:45 pm
“i’m worried about you,” the words come back, though there’s little i can do about them. after all, she’s probably right. i seem to have quite a number of problems.

but that’s the thing of it, with a traumatized brain: there are quite a number of problems. it’s what we’ve been conditioned to notice, to fixate on, to gravitate toward: if not what is wrong with a situation, what could be wrong, what could go wrong, what could pull off the track and slap back violently against a vulnerable part of the mechanism, throwing the whole machine into chaos.

i mean, i don’t want to be like this. understand that. i really don’t. i want to embrace the process, give people some credit, demonstrate myself as a nimble dancer of circumstances, only expecting and receiving the very best. i hear that's how you get what you want: by deciding you will get it and never once doubting that decision. that's not how i am. i can't decide. i doubt. i confuse and cause concern. i am, you see, a broken dancer, a dancer dancing out her breaks, a breakdancer. i have a traumatized brain.

i don’t want to be like this, but the truth of it is: i’ve been assaulted and i’ve been assaulted repeatedly. if i see a place where i could be assaulted again, i cannot relax until i feel i have made restorations against that. warded myself a circle. sprinkled the front entryway with eclipse water. crossed my arms over my chest. chanted my protections in rhymed verse. then again:

i have been abandoned, abandoned to myself and abandoned to my failures, abandoned to the shortfalls of the public education system; abandoned to thirteen-year-old boys at the back of the school bus on a substitute driver day; abandoned to a man who’d had both too much to drink and a point to make about all the ways you can abandon someone even still in the room with them. he didn’t need to prove anything, i’d already been a prisoner of that proof for decades. that’s because: the traumatized brain does not work like the non-traumatized brain. we do not understand the same things. we do not understand things the same way.

one example: i've heard that a non-traumatized brain can look at a gathering of people roughly the same age and gender identity as that brain’s landlord and not necessarily find themselves overcome with the urge to bolt, thirty years later or not.

another example: i've heard that a non-traumatized brain can walk past a total stranger in a public stairwell and not automatically clench the handrail in anticipation of the coming shove. so what if it never comes? that doesn’t prove anything. surely not that i am safe to complete my journey down the stairs unmolested. maybe my passer-by was simply indulging in the non-traumatized brain’s rumored luxury of thinking about something other than trauma, their trauma, another’s trauma, the potential traumas, the next trauma, that one we damn well know we won’t see coming but maybe? if we do?

the thing is: like everyone in middle school, trauma recognizes my face, but i frequently cannot recognize trauma until it is upon me. it’s that same home field advantage every instrument of trauma i’ve encountered has used against me since before remembering: they know who i am, but i won’t even be able to recognize them after the fact.

that’s because: trauma has changed my brain. every time. every trauma. like snowflakes, no individual instance looks anything like any other individual instance, no matter if the end result buries me to my chin.

trauma has made me into someone i would not necessarily choose to be. trauma has, to some degree, devoured my agency. but, perhaps more important for the non-traumatized brain to understand: trauma has made me into someone you cannot and some times will not entirely understand.

that’s what the enemy is going for, after all. isolate the traumatized. cut us off from necessary resources because, as hard as we've tried, we can't fit in. we're dented in all the wrong places. we can't tell it straight, so we are not allowed to speak. we are not allowed to speak our trauma. we are not allowed to speak our trauma the way we need to speak it. we are told we are too confusing to be bothered with. we make others angry because we are so confusing. because we are so inappropriate. we are told: nobody wants to listen to that. that's too much information. that's more than anybody wanted to know. should someone choose to listen anyway, we are interrupted frequently so that the listener can inform us of something we've never heard before: nobody really meant it. you know, everybody has a hard time growing up. you know, it was all in the past. all in the past. a million years ago. two million years ago. three. they forgot about it, why haven't we?

we are told if we "insist" on still talking about it, that means the trauma won.

we are told something else that we hear very infrequently: the trauma is winning. the trauma won. we are told all about how the trauma won. we are told this, sometimes, in every conversation with certain friends who've never once had nair thrown at their eyes. no matter what we do, no matter what we've done. no matter what we've survived, no matter how hard we've worked to do better, no matter how much of ourselves we've fought back from the abyss: we are told, over and over again, in a variety of new and exciting ways, that if we show evidence of trauma, any evidence of trauma, any evidence at all, that means the trauma won.

i would like to tell you something now that, perhaps, you have never heard before: yes, the trauma "won." of course the trauma "won." if the trauma hadn't won, you wouldn't be reading this. anonymousblack would not exist. i'd be otherwise occupied enjoying a masked hot tub orgy in my mammoth country estate funded by the three million dollar sexy vampire franchise i was able to realize because all my body's resources weren't instead tied up in feeding my hungry colonizer. the trauma won. in many ways, the trauma is still winning. i mean, i don’t want to be like this. understand that. i really don’t. but, you see, for me? for the person trying to get on with her life in trauma's shadow? this doesn't have anything to do with "winning." all apologies to the american go for it spirit. i don't need to win here. which is a good thing, because trauma isn't going to let me.

if i want to survive the trauma, if i hope to someday consistently experience life outside of a somatic flashback loop, i have to acknowledge that the trauma nearly kicked my ass dead several times. this isn't a fun discovery for the traumatized brain, like realizing you are truly beautiful in the girl's room at the senior prom or that you are levelheaded and efficient in the wake of a natural disaster. this is more the kind of discovery where you evaluate your trauma response team and find that in the wake of your being assaulted, instead of taking care of yourself, getting treated for shock and spending a couple days under light medical supervision, you drove home, drank until you were unconscious, and went to work the next day. that's how badly you treated somebody close to you in one of their worst moments. that's the kind of abandonment you, yourself, are capable of: forcing yourself to pretend it's just any other day, no matter the predatory loans you just took out on your body's devastated resources.

like an invasive species, trauma thrives under conditions that keep the native populations in check. unexamined, trauma can become everything in situations where it might have been controlled. the goal of rerouting a traumatized brain is to not let such a thing happen. to still exist outside of that terrible history of who done me wrong. rerouting, not conquering. in order to do that, we need people to make us allowances. ask us some important questions and actually listen to the answers. believe us.

frequently, the tipping point in rerouting is somebody believing us. more than one person believing us. a number of people believing us. a growing number of people. more people even than the ones who believe out of hand that we're all full of shit: and anyway, his work has been so influential isn't it just a shame what these allegations are doing to his career?

“i’m worried about you,” the words come back, and of course she is, of course she should be. one traumatized brain looking out for another, one non-traumatized brain demonstrating gratitude for its lack of trauma by helping us establish safe space. somewhere i can untense. somewhere i can exhale. somewhere i can be confusing. somewhere i can start to heal.

because that’s enough, most of the time. at times there's more to it than that, but for the most part that’s the alpha and omega of what a traumatized brain needs most: permission to breathe, space to be, and an unspoken understanding that we are more to our loved ones than a traumatized brain.

music: orbiteer - descent
selva oscura
14 September 2017 @ 03:01 am
i don't know where you are, in this moment. but then,

i don't know where anyone is in this moment.

i have assumptions. i could call and check. at the same time, what does it even mean, knowing someone's exact physical location? what does it mean to know someone's exact physical location when you are not there with them? because, at the same time, that only means so much, where someone is. there's the why they're there. there's the how they're there. there's the how much of them is present in that moment, in that space.

i imagine my lover sitting at his desk at work, a man before two monitors. i imagine him struggling over the course of his day to meet his day as fully as he is able, whether or not it so often feels as though some part of him is being dragged along. i think of my friends at their jobs, in their classes, out in the world or not: at home, working from home, not working at home, working on their homes. i know where some of them are supposed to be, i know where some of them say they are: but the thing of it is, where am i?

if i can't know where i am, really, if i don't have a place on this map, what does it even mean, the idea of being somewhere else?

the myriad places i am instead. so i will be here, now. so i will try as hard as i can to bring myself into the present moment. i will circle the edges of the present moment. i will hold that circle in space. i will breathe into it, expand it, drop into its center. i will drop into the center of the present moment. i will recognize myself in the present moment, and i will recognize myself in that present moment again, and then i will wonder: am i really? am i really in the present moment? am i capable of being in the present moment? am i even capable of it? and:

i will fall out of myself bringing myself into the present moment with my effort.

here i am. here i am. here i am, a servant, a slave, a willing handmaiden. a protector. a victim. a patient and nurse. a rebellious child. here i am, a voice, a disembodied voice, a voice stumbling over the chaos of her embodiment. here i am. why won't you let me be? not as in why won't you leave me alone, not remotely, not exactly. instead: why won't you let me be in the moment? why won't you let me share the moment with you? what does this moment hold, that you work so hard to keep it out of my reach?
music: celer - the satisfied disorder
selva oscura
42 is literally way too fucking old to be pulling this specific manner of seven a.m. dark side up on myself

Photo on 9-2-17 at 6.46 AM.jpg

and yet
mood: this might be an odd form of self-abasement
music: i'm thinking about empty motion
selva oscura
august 8 2000
10PM b dalton

what the reader needs to recognize is that we are as clearly defined by our failures & shortcomings as we are by our achievements and lucky gifts: okay judy? because look at it one way, and it is a shortcoming. another way, and it is a talent. works both ways.

what i am saying is that i may have found my path, spiritually. it is a slow recognition, but fast in comparison… and i've found it by looking at my shortcomings: inability to structure my thoughts according to systems imposed by society, lack of social graces; no idea how to play by "the rules," no idea what "the rules" might be, no real investment in finding out. honesty, sometimes fumbling; a desire to dig deep into everything, so deep i come out the other side. the mental translation of the intangible into symbols and the ability to translate them back. my ability to read situations and places swiftly; the gift i have in making someone look more closely at themselves. with no social graces, no sense of the rules successful people play by to ensure their success, i am able to go alone, solitary, to know myself across a crowded room. on the fringe, between the worlds - god, how do i begin?

without a society that leads me to a mentor, i don't know how i can be sure of this feeling - or how i can train, learn the things i will need to travel the path. i have books. are books enough? i don't know. i will have to see.

the gate broken, the broken gate, i sat on the bookstore floor, by the sale books, let's say 42 thousand dollars worth of sloppy grisham-steele-king-thatguywhowrotethatdamnbridgesbook seconds piled up on the middle table alone. are books enough, i wrote in my anonymous black journal, not without irony and not without hope. i don’t know, i answered in my anonymous black journal, purchased from waldenbooks, my employer’s most immediate competitor, during winter break my last year at iowa: back when i thought it would mean i wouldn’t end up back here. i like contradiction. i like when things don’t quite fit. also i liked the journals at waldenbooks a great deal better than the ones that we sold. so.

three months ahead of an election night that would run me around the subdivision loop twice at midnight, sweating even in november, crying even though i knew from a long ways back this was how things would go. sound familiar?

eleven months out of a party that destroyed everything i’d been working to heal for the three years prior. climb out from under the trauma of my life to that point: the sexual trauma, the social drama, the scholastic ineptitude: how i could never connect with my schooling in a way that remotely satisfied my desperate need to see and understand as much as i was able about the world. sound familiar?

how long is three years when you’re not yet twenty-five? a lot longer than three years when you’re not yet forty-two. it was a lot of work to have undone over the course of an hour.

then again, it also took a lot longer than that.

Outside of this room, the party keeps going. Inside of the house, the party keeps going. Outside of the house, in bursts of shouts and fire, the party goes on and on and it will not stop: not if I scream, not if I explode, not if I drop dead, not if I rush these ugly, stinking, shrieking strangers with a fire axe and mustard gas. And here I am, in this room, sitting on the center of his made bed, suffocating myself again to keep it going. Choking myself out to keep animating this ghastly corpse. [broadcasting live, episode 3, 2014]

god, how do i begin? the bookstore gate hung, angled sharply. couldn’t go up again, couldn’t go down again. the technician didn’t come and didn’t come and didn’t come. midnight approached, midnight passed. i knew this would be the case and had come prepared with a duffle bag packed with microwave popcorn, jeans and my fixer-stained joy division shirt. i listened to low and sigur ros and patti smith on my discman. i drank two cans of cherry coke and wrote in my journal on the bookstore floor. the second-shift security guard walked by at his most recent half-hour interval; he ducked down past the broken gate and waved, asked if i needed anything. i paused my discman and looked at my half-finished second can of cherry coke. i asked if he could watch the gate for a few minutes while i ran to the back.

when i returned to the storefront, a humorous observation for the waiting guard shredding my lower lip, i found him instead intently talking into his walkie to another guard. he waved goodbye and walked away without hearing my observation. disappointed, i sat on the floor and didn’t want to write in my journal any more. the technician didn’t come and didn’t come. i chose a b&n classic, the collected works of edgar allan poe, and i read.

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow:
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

i picked up the duffle bag and walked with my sister down to the car.


my life
as lived
in hospital
waiting rooms

she woke me at 6:11 with a knock and i tried to go back to bed. now a few minutes later and my stomach hurts, my body is unsure of itself. i shift my eyes and everything slowly catches up with that movement. we have a room. a delivery room. a room in which we will deliver a baby. light is strange. color is oversaturated.

mom: “they want you there at the crack of dawn and make you sit in a corner, waiting for them to catch up with where they’ve been making you wait for hours."

mom wanted coffee. she looked at me, then she looked at my sister, then she looked at me again.

my sister, hooked up to the pitocin drip, stared at the television. she wasn’t crying, yet. she wouldn’t start crying until her chemically forced contractions really kicked in. her induction related to pre-preeclampsia; the heart monitor wasn't about to let us forget that fact. i wondered if, as a woman who had three babies now in the delivery room with her daughter about to have her first baby, my mother might have some important wisdom to impart to my sister about the labor and delivery process. operating on wisdom overload and less than an hour of sleep, i wasn’t in a space for information i’d recently come to grieve as not applicable for me, so i told mom: sure, mom, i’ll get you some coffee.

i walked through the maternity ward, listening to the sounds of the maternity ward. a woman moaned terribly less than forty yards and several worlds away. “push push push,” another voice yelled. someone somewhere laughed uncontrollably. someone somewhere moaned again.

i wore a t-shirt printed with a dragon because i tend to gravitate toward artistically rendered dragons in times of uncertainty, and i was quite uncertain about how i would react to another human being emerging dramatically from my sister’s body. also what that meant, you know, for all of our futures. especially my own, if i am entirely sincere. figured: maybe if, against all our protective measures against having my sister’s abusive ex-boyfriend show up on the scene with his new gal still on her “i wanted to have his first baby, bitch” trip, the two of them could maybe talk to my dragon.

i walked past the ward kitchen three times, twice without understanding exactly that i was looking for it. one’s purpose and function frequently becomes muddled when one is at a hospital. a nurse on her way to one room or another noticed me walking by again and wondered if she could help me not be wandering around aimlessly in the maternity ward. i said my mother was hoping for some coffee and she pointed me two doors back to the left; she said it looked like the machine was out so i’d have to brew some fresh with the packets in that box on the counter. i smiled and nodded and thanked her. i walked into the ward kitchen.

i don’t drink coffee. i’d never made it before. i’d never really even handled a coffeemaker before this moment. it really is a significantly more complicated and mysterious process than you think it is. i had no idea what the fuck i was doing.

halfway into my twenty minutes in the ward kitchen and that much further out on the brink of tears that had little to do with my task, i sat down on the floor and wished this wasn’t happening. i had no idea what the fuck i was doing, about the coffee or about my sister, about the baby or the baby’s pending adoption, about my grandmother, her two strokes, or the six days she'd spent in the ICU of the hospital where i'd been born.

i remembered watching my mother watching horrible news on television when i was very young. i remembered her taking the gold cross on a gold chain around her neck and putting it into her mouth, clamping it between her teeth. it didn't seem to help, but all the same it was something to do. i reached down into my collar for the silver ankh i wore all that year on a delicate silver chain i'd stolen from the gatekeeper of my freshman year community college social drama and resulting spiritual crisis. i put the ankh inside my mouth, between my teeth, and pressed my teeth against it. it didn't help. all the same, sitting on the floor, i rocked slowly back and forth, wishing this wasn't happening. wishing this wasn't happening, i rocked slowly back and forth for several minutes. then got up and figured out how to make coffee.

mom looked relieved when i finally returned to the delivery room. “thought we’d lost you there, for a minute,” she said.

kind of you did, i thought.

august 9th, 2005

grandma died this morning, a little after five.

it is my nephew’s third birthday.

these things lead me slowly to thoughts about temperament and fortune. i keep reading people my age who feel they can find all the prosperity and success they could possibly want in life, simply by denying that anything bad could ever happen to them. maybe it works. who knows? i’m sitting here feeling like the back of my head has been used to draw a hopscotch set on the sidewalk. surfaces aren’t so much surfaces as they are a feeble promise against open air. i feel maybe like i haven’t slept in a week, maybe i haven’t, who knows how my poor parents feel.

i hadn’t slept and i hadn’t slept and i hadn’t slept and i wouldn’t sleep. i lived at the hospice, not even leaving for meals. i sat with my relatives, barely able to relate to them outside of this dreaded, anticipated moment of: she’s gone she’s gone she’s gone. i found a pack of my grandmother’s favorite lemon ices in the family room refrigerator and immediately sat on the hospice family room floor, no ankh to crush between my teeth. i only did it because i was alone.

Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!

late monday night my father walked me down to the parking lot, put me into my car and told me to go home and sleep. i didn’t want to sleep. i wanted to be with my grandmother. i wanted to be with my grandmother when she died. i wanted to feel the room change like it did when my nephew was born, i wanted to understand what that shadow transition felt like, but i was out of time and out of magic and really did need to drop out of hospice awareness for a few minutes.

so i drove home, i’m not sure how. probably i shouldn’t have driven. i took a shower, as long and hot as i could make it. i made some rye toast so i could stare at it until i gave up and threw it away. i watched stupid television, i listened to stupid radio, i laid in my bed not able to close my eyes and listened to the quiet house. i wasn't even able to pick an album to soften the atmosphere because i knew that would basically mean throwing that album on my grandmother's funeral pyre.

i felt for my grandmother living.

i felt for my grandmother living.

i could still feel my grandmother living.

it started getting light outside, that deepening blue, that slow seep in around the fabric blind. i could still feel my grandmother living.

then my body betrayed me. all at once it was an hour later. i opened my eyes and understood: i could no longer feel my grandmother living. she was gone. she was gone, and i missed her. i missed her departure. so this is permanence, i thought without thinking.

Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

i sat up in bed. i waited for the phone to ring.


whether or not books are enough, i take delivery of my latest acquisition late this morning: ian curtis’ journals and notebooks, scanned pages upon pages of a handwritten scrawl that chills me with instant and unexpected familiarity: i’ve seen this handwriting before. i haven’t, but

we’re all going somewhere, we’re all doing something, except when we aren’t. too many of us are too busy with the shit that's killing us to make time for what all of us need to stay alive. magic is in peril, like honeybees, like sustainable climates: but too many of us are too busy with the shit that's killing us to make time for what all of us need to stay alive.

i’ve got contract work, a creativity challenge, and a five-week class on time magic to hold me through the first week and a half of august, but what i may have taken on in means of healthy distraction is causing me pain because: i am stuck, i can't write, i am mired in shadow, i miss my dead friend, i miss my dead grandmother, i miss the babies i couldn’t trust society enough to have, i miss all the versions of myself who were left with no choice but to walk away unexperienced, except in those cases where i slowly exhale with relief, because there is a vice to that versa. of course. there is a vice to every versa.

last night i thought i might journal my experience of developing a relationship with time as an ally as a letter to someone else i’ve been missing, in part because they've demonstrated at least as much of a problem with time management as i have: but they took exception to the last letter i sent them unbidden, and i (ultimately) made peace with their reasoning, mostly because that was the most tenable of my options.

but, then again, i do like my contradictions.

paging through page after page of ian’s uncanny handwriting, i consider making my magic-journal-letter to ian, instead. he might have been one of my readers, all things considered. all things considered, i’m a pretty good writer, for a girl.
music: karma moffett - boundless
selva oscura
that abyss of:

anything could happen
at any moment

that abyss of:

any moment
could be my last
(any moment.)

that abyss of:

writing over my own words
to obscure them from view

that abyss
another abyss

that abyss of:

piling up my words in boxes
labeled “i need you to destroy this
if i am not able to”


too many abysses
too many sinkholes
too many places i’ve left myself to

too much unspoken
and too much unspoken
and too much unspoken again

magic magic magic
are you in there
is that a pulse, or

the ritual lists to the side
our allies have something to say about that
our magic is not enough against

not enough against
not enough again
never quite enough

the roaring abyss
of the indifferent and placated
of the walking dead

who want and want and want
and want and want and want
but refuse to receive

not so much that i wasn’t made for this world
as it is that i was made for a world
that then changed its mind
music: dark muse - ethereal alchemy