written february 2017
crashing through the bedroom “door” in typical grunting fashion, fighting back the plastic laminate and lifting the blanket pinned to the frame behind it, I stumble into the little hovel i’ve fashioned into a solitary living space — curtain, window, desk and chest of drawers, radiator broiling bitter oil and threatening to set the place aflame. These items stand stoic round the single bed shoved in the corner, positioned as if guarding sentry against the devious nothingness that steals in every night and hogs the tattered blankets: the only thing that enters here other than myself.
imagine my surprise, then, as I toss my keys onto the table and unshoulder my pack looking up just in time to see you there, stretched out on that tiny plank of a bed. though the dreams i’ve had of you have often kept me warm and helped me pass the winter nights, never did i have so clear a vision of you here — lounging somewhat comically, one leg extended fully to the edge of the bed, perhaps a little over — your head propped up on one hand, the other resting on your hip, sumptuous as a curvy mistress posing stacked in lingerie, clutching a can of whipped cream cooing “welcome home, honey buns.” But it’s you, just you, in your sweater and your jeans, glint in your eye and your gaze on the doorway, waiting to surprise me. flew all this way just to find me, hunted down my address, broke into my house… that’s fine, that’s all just fine with me.
but again, the shock. i draw a sharp breath as my head jerks back to get a better look at you — just in time, as I said, for in that flash of time you’ve vanished. again i’m left alone — certain but shaken, gazing blankly at the imprint your body left pressed into my shoddy bedding.
my boy, my lad, stop haunting me.
only three times in my life have i experienced these visions, if that’s what you want to call them — unearthly flashes almost too vivid to possibly be a product of the mind, the conjurings of shining eyes and wet lips parting to murmur all the half-truths I want so madly to hear. perhaps it’s some sort of miracle: to love a person with such delirium that the heart, mind and eyes set to collaborating, constructing human forms from dust and longing and poor lighting. i like to think it’s not a symptom of a broken mind but I know I shouldn’t jump to conclusions; when a mind is born broken, so are each of its careful creations.
there was one time on the subway in Berlin late at night, my brain full of fumes in the flickering jaundiced glare. i was the only person on the night line — then looked up and bam, there he was, clear as day though so clearly not, gazing hard at me with those sparkling blue eyes, transmitting everything he never said that night when I left him. I dared not to blink as I knew he would vanish so I sat there, swaying in my seat in that hurtling yellow tube, waiting for his dimpled smile to slowly lift his cheeks, and I could not move or breathe as I watched him — that’s the rule, see. twitch and you break the cosmic balance. reality comes busting in and sets the scene to neutral. everything you ever loved will vanish in an instant. remember, remember: remember not to blink.
we built our home on a lone dirt track that the map said not to follow
and when you went hunting rabbits I was huddled in the dawn
a darkened mass of wool and bone and bowls all lying empty
squatting like a child in the dirt to search for stones
answers hidden in the hardened prints of hooves and clawmarks
left by better beings as they watched us keeping warm
but the frosted earth tore back my nails and pulled my lungs to pieces
and I couldn’t find you anything of worth
so I trapped a little bird and watched her struggle with her noose
and pretending I was elsewhere broke her neck
for freedom loses meaning when the blood is running cold,
the only thing important is the silence
I’ll light a fire with what I’ve got and pray that you will find me
one clawed foot, one iron needle, the burning pitch of an evergreen
my shaking fingers stretch her wings and
nail her above our door with little hope you’ll find her
she’ll call to you,
I can no longer scream
march 7, 2017. jrw
itches i can’t name
all over this broken
thing all tattered up
and covered in holes
the itch means healing
but i can’t tell the new scars
from the old ones
every day i stain something
else with my blood,
the pale gaunt face full
of larvae like a nervous addict,
which i am, and was, and will be,
til sliver by sliver with dirty nails
i tear apart the rest of me and
pick to pieces the remains still
searching for something
you are the
you are gone
from my skin
like a mist
or a phantom
you rose out
left some stains
the clouds are red-black
and the wind
cools me down
i haven’t felt
i’m sorry. you know this can never work.
je suis désólée. tu sais que ça ne peut rouler jamais.
jeg beklager, men du ved, at dette ikke kan gå.
ho sento però ja saps que això no pot sortir.
lo siento pero ya sabes que esto no puede salir.
it’s been years. have you forgotten?
ça fait du temps. t’as bien oublié ?
det har været år. har du glemt?
que fa anys. has oblidat?
ha sido años. has olvidado?
i hope that you get some daylight in
that you listen to heartbeats, eat sausages made from
pigs you met, stuff your face into big fluffy
hope you squeeze tight
whoever you’re squeezin
squeeze ‘em good like
you used to squeeze me
(but not better)
hopin on hope you eat shit that you ripped from the
ground with your hands and stay dirty
if just a little
hope you’ve come as far,
and as much,
and as many times
as i have
(though of course
i doubt that
i did love you,
bien oui que je t’aimais, quoiqu’il étàit bref
jeg elskede dig, selvom på det forkerte tidspunkt
jo t’estimava, però no prou,
te quería, aunque por sólo un momento,
i could never lie about that
sometimes i know she’s there and i can feel her.
my body feels
shrinking in and crowding us
the two of us
and in this way
i am suddenly a
girl who is also
a sheep-cart towing
two unshorn heifers to the barber
(right that’s where they go tho)
fighting for space and the farm hands are laughing
but those heifers are two feisty
mamas i’ll tell yeh man
now you can bet your bottom dollar
they’re in there hip-checkin the shit out of each other.
a laugh from the rest of the boys:
they come crawling
like clawed children
in hallways, in day – light
and night – light,
the worst ones of course
hands grasping in
from the walls and
you will love the way they feel
this place isn’t safe
for lovers or dancers
or birthers or swimmers
build an altar
get a stepstool
waist and burn
place to ashes i
to inhale you
like fiberglass dust
in my lungs all
blue and purple
dressed with flowers
venom and tea tree
i found some leaves
on the ground in
lisbon on these
steps in the
rain and the darkness
made them greener
they looked like lungs creased down the
middle so i picked one up and
held it to my chest and