The Witch in the Doorway

The sky cast an ugly shade of red on the ground. Normally she enjoyed the sunrise, but this particular blood-red reminded her of the streets piling high with bodies. The blood rose up to her ankles. At least. The blood fed the harshness of tar like rain fed the miracle of plants. The blood covered the buildings. The cars. Her hands. How could she ignore it. It was supposed to be beautiful, but it made her resent the light. Normally she prayed to the sacred ball of fire. Closing her eyes holding her hands at her sides palms facing the heat absorbing the vitamins the light burning her lids awakening the third eye. But today it stung her skin.

Not the usual start to the day. She took it as an odd omen.

She returned home and brewed a pot of coffee. She opened her notebook to a blank page.

The night prior she dreamt of a field swaying with a single type of flower. Chicory. The plant grew four feet high with delicate blooms and green, hardy stalks. She harvested a basketful of the periwinkle flowers. The breeze combed her hair whispering pollen and yeast.

A city sprung up around the field.

It felt romantic. She walked the tiny alleyways. Passing little yards. The fire escapes hung with clotheslines. Graffiti covered the brick. The sidewalks cracked with plants. A slight creek cut its way like a snake transforming the post-industrial roughness with a trickle of peace.

She paid a visit to the house of a witch. It was a reoccurring theme in her dreams. The first time she found the house she awoke with such inspiration she became determined to find the house again. The walls were lined with everything you would expect to find at a witch’s house. Books of ancient musings, glass jars tightly sealed with herbs, potions, oddities. Flowers hanging from the ceilings. A cat purring on the window sill. The sunlight filtering in slowly, gently touching every plant in the house.

She gathered the chicory flowers in exchange for a ritual. The witch did not charge her but she gave them to her anyway as a token of appreciation. The witch placed the flowers in a bowl next to the cat on the window sill. It had taken awhile to convince the crone to perform the spell. Many nights dreaming. Many visits paid. She had never expected to find the old woman again. What were the chances. The subconscious is infinite. But that initial dream made such an impression she had to return.

She laid her hand on the table, palm up, as instructed.

The witch retrieved an old tomb with tattered paper full of signs and symbols and flipped to a particular page. She tapped it with a long fingernail and cleaned a knife while whispering succinctly a strange tongue sanctifying the metal. A spider scurried across the pages of ink.

The witch made the cut quickly. Blood dripped into a cup of dried petals and crushed mushroom caps. The witch instructed her to place a pinch of the mixture on her tongue and the rest was lit on fire. It crackled loudly, surprisingly so, reminiscent of fireworks at a distance. The flame disappeared in a flash with no trace left. The witch dressed the small incision on her palm with dried yarrow and St. John’s wort. It healed instantly. The cut swallowing the flowers transforming into flesh.

She closed her eyes and fell into another dream. But she couldn’t remember anything from that second dream save a cellar door leading to a dark basement. She woke up.

What was the meaning of the dream? Why the basement? Why the blood? How did it connect to the anger she felt upon seeing the blood-red of the sunrise? What was the witch trying to teach her? She had so many questions, but what frustrated her most, it was her own subconscious. She wanted the witch to be real, but she knew better.

She refilled her cup with coffee and began reading the other entries in the journal. Perhaps a clue would arise. A missing piece of the puzzle. After a few unsatisfactory entries, she flipped to the beginning pages of the notebook where she found the entry from that very same day one year ago:

I visited the witch again. This will be the third time. But she keeps repeating the same lines over and over. “Seek the place where the rage is cultivated. There you will learn. There you will hear the strength of your mother, your mother’s mother, and her mother before that. Seek on and on until you awake.” That’s all she says over and over. I don’t understand the message. Mom was never angry. Not that I ever saw. But she grew up in a generation like that. A quiet generation of domesticated women. She had her “wild days” as she described them but then she had children. She grew up. And I never got to know my grandmother let alone her mother before that. I don’t know what to think. I question my own anger, to understand where it comes from. But nothing appears beyond the normal narrative landscape. Misogyny. Men’s entitlement. Rape culture. I could go on and on. Pressures to have children. To be beautiful. Yes. Everyday I am filled with a quiet rage. I guess I hide it out of fear of repercussion. But am I missing something? Is there something deeper? There’s war on brown and black bodies. Both at home and abroad. I am ripped apart daily. The destruction of the land is ever-present. I just don’t know what to do. I do what I can do. How am I supposed to cultivate rage?

She closed the notebook. She had forgotten about those first days of visiting the witch. But now it seemed connected. She remembered another dream. A dream she had only once. A dream she didn’t have time to write down. But it returned to her like a breath of fresh air amidst a midsummer’s heat.

When she fell into the dream, the surrounding city never arose right away. The buildings sprang up after she spent time in a forest, or a meadow, or a river. There was no telling how long it would take. To pass the time she went on hikes, took naps, dipped for a swim, meditated under trees until finally the city appeared. Except once. One time the city didn’t appear.

She fell asleep and entered the dream as usual. She wandered the woods and found a stunning plant. Ghost pipe. A wonderful specimen of life. A plant without chlorophyll so it remained totally white. Because it didn’t produce its own food, it latched onto the mycelium of a mushroom to gain nutrients. The mycelium received nutrients from the roots of a tree. An epi-phenomenon. A dream within a dream. The ghost pipe spoke softly, “Save my spirit, dear one. Save my spirit.” She smiled. The whisper echoed the trees like the wind rustling feathers and leaves. She sat with the plant.

She noticed smoke in the distance so walked in that direction. As she neared, the entire forest looked to be engulfed in flames. She walked closer and soon realized the flames arose from a single cabin surrounded by trees. The cabin remained unaffected despite the violent flicker of flames. She thought it might be an illusion, but the heat pouring from it proved her wrong. The witch appeared in the doorway. Also burning. But like the cabin, not the least affected.

In a very unexplainable moment, her awareness split in two. She saw herself standing outside the cabin & she saw herself within. On the countertop a giant cockroach crawled into a mortar. It disgusted her. Her body shook in revulsion. She found it amusing too. Animated. Cartoonish. She wondered if she could act quickly enough to crush the cockroach, but realized that would be foolish. The splatter of cockroach wasn’t a welcome ingredient. The cockroach perked up its antenna and scurried away.

The witch stared at her, nodding as if reading her thoughts.

“To hold rage close to your heart. To be in the flames but not burned up. To throw heat in the direction you choose. Protect yourself, dear child. The anger you feel is not simply from your present life. It arises from generations and generations. It is a weapon you need to learn how to use.”

Advertisements

Three of Hearts

I am a relatively reserved person. I keep my expressions calm. Yet I feel often lustful. Moments exist when I’m scared of my own heart. Not that it will stop ticking, but the wilds she speaks.
.

We spent a couple hours talking at the coffee shop. Mostly about relationships and illusions. The way people feed into one another and create groupthink. All these little cliques of belief. The masses. The contingents. Securing a particular language. A secret code only for the initiates. If you don’t speak it, or attempt to learn, you are as good as gone.
.

I kept looking at her lips. Kissing them. My eyes betraying desire. I try not to stare, or ogle, but I do enjoy welcoming beauty into the dark wells of my sight. To see souls. To see into, more fully, the life of a person. She has a little goddess etching of birthmark on the underside of her chin near her neck. I remembered kissing it and gently nibbling. Running fingers through her hair, scratching lightly the back of her head. Pressing forehead against forehead. Seeing her eyes. “What do you want? It’s okay. What do you need?” I fell headlong. I kept seeing her teeth, scrunched up like a groundhog close to the earth. The fragrance of soil on her lips.
.

“You love being a poet, don’t you? Everyone must want to know who you are writing about.”
.

Lightning sparks from foreheads. Thoughts kiss. Like the rapidity of electric currents. Third eye linguistics, enmeshed. Timelessly conspiring, the telepathy of ancients. Entangled in breaths.
.

Veronica went on an interview at a sewing & design school. She unofficially received a job as a professor within minutes of the directors seeing her work. She spent hours making a bra. This is magic! She kept yelling. Until it wasn’t magic anymore. And then she let out a string of expletives. Honestly. She’s probably one of the best stitchers in the city. I’m proud of her for that. And humbled by her craft. It’s not terribly difficult to spot someone who holds mastery of an art upon seeing their work. There’s not a certificate in the world that can do that for you. It’s a gift.
.

I get so frustrated when I read the news, especially international politics, the continued destabilization of countries for the sake of oil. Power. Money. Control. The willful blind eye, American as apple pie. I ask myself why? Why do I keep reading. It’s maddening. Yet I have this urgency to stay informed. To shout into the abyss. A drop in the bucket of worldwide corruption.

I’m all for lowbrow art. But the esteem for being a dolt, it breaks my heart. There’s so much at stake. How easily will people be swept off their feet?
.

How do we speak a common language without losing the cut of a subversive tongue?
.

She grabbed my hand and put my fingers in her mouth. Tasting them in the early morning. Wetting them again. We pressed into one another. Gently at first, then more roughly, I wrapped a hand around her neck.
.

The largesse of an artist. The utter frustration of the writer whose pen keeps running out of ink. How are we supposed to communicate with one another profoundly if we haven’t dug out & filled in our own trenches?
.

She stepped out of the car, and I could smell the lingering of blood.
.

Every night she stayed over, the next morning I dreamt of animals. Horses. A large goat. They nuzzled me. We looked into each others eyes. They, always much stronger than I.

the intertwining ineffable grotesquerie of desire & death

( )

i’ve been coming out as non-monogamous my whole adulthood
slowly hitting bumps & shadows
fucking up because i get stuck in infatuation
i get stuck in the binary of two
always wanting elsewhere
breaking her heart, my heart, their hearts
because my fragile male ego couldn’t take responsibility
for inflicting hurt
for the inability to reveal
for the lack of communication
the festering
the convoluted decisions
hiding, repressing emotions & connections
becoming a monster full of rage at myself
lashing out
taking it out on others
for which i regret being stubborn &
full of self-righteous supposed knowing
there are not sufficient words to dispel scared immaturity

( )

you can’t erase memories.
you can forget them,
but the moments still happened.

( )

growing up in Christian Catholic Puritanical America
surrounded by guilt and shame
finally breaking through the status quo denial
to more fully act upon & trust my desires
to live openly, sharing romance
and intimate visions of loving one another

yet new struggles emerge
with every transcendence into collective selfhood

( )

if eros is pleasure and the urge toward life
then thanatos is the urge toward pleasure and death

( )

the wrenching loneliness
amnesia
riddled poison
panging through blood
the shit-ass wasting away in bed, sagging like
the whiteness of hospitals
trapped and aching
aging, dying, in a room alone
the fucking sadness, riddled
this is where we go to die
like a bullet in a body
like a catheter
a machine
wires dangling
external veins
a heartbeat simulation on a screen
beeps and valleys
beeps and peaks
the white noise static
the whir
the beat in the chest
alone

instead of dissociating into embodied fervor & collective madness
we dissociate into digital fantasy
alienated
so often ((far)) away from others

( )

crushed by propaganda, entertainment,
apartheid, stricken to believe
the singsong narrative of explosions
beholden to comment on the going rhetoric
wrapped up in another’s tongue
imposed dramas
rampant disorder
excruciating awareness of the tears, heaving
body shaking, repeating the same words
over and over
“what is this mental institution?”
the way the spit dribbles, baffled
scattered in dementia
memories fleeting like tiny rivers

( )

what of the song of grandmothers chanting
the stomp of feet on earth, the ancestors stirring
what of the echo in ribs like mountain winds
calmed yet stirred by the beat of drums

“isn’t there something better?”

( )

the fucking tear through life
the bullets ripping
banging
the mayhem
the pandemonium
pandora’s box unleashing
fire, murder, flooding
the scorching realization of apocalypse
the absolute state of terror
the gut gripping,
America, brutality

“isn’t there something better?”

( )

forlorn ecstasy

( )

celebrating in dionysian fields of forgetfulness
the intoxicated fear
trumped up like the trumpets of death

( )

the squabble of lovers disappears
the desire to kiss and kill
cascading bodies atop bodies
consumed by chemistry
the flesh dripping sweat
like flowers after rain
petals falling from the sky upon climax
to cuddle & whisper
impulse to closeness, closer
peripheries mushing
abruptness of intimacy conflicting
drawing on tensions
the sting and flush of skin
pleasure
swimming in spit
saliva
desire
the sumptuous feast of little deaths
repeating

“what is this mayhem?”
“where is my breath?”

( )

the cry of the dying rings across the land.
the empathic flame of people,
blowing prayers in the air with the smoke of a cigarette

“isn’t there something better?”

flash bang thirteen

i.

a collective dream with porous edges fading into the surrounding city.
when we see it snuggled within the multifaceted dimensions of reality,
there is so much more at stake
simply down the street.

ii.

especially on new years. what a random day. what’s it connected to? well intentioned partying. people need that. rhythmical celebration. resolution. it can take on the form of community when it is not all dressed up and soaked through. it seems empty, but it’s not quite like that. not quite vapid. it won’t entirely disappear. i believe it has a lot to offer people and society. but its transformational ability seems quite like the ouroboros. the snake biting its own tail. round and round it goes, reinventing itself yet still maintaining the same form.

the snake who peels through layers is still a snake.

iii.

“where’s the after party?”
“which one? there’s so many!”
“the party is in the elevator. right now!”
*small chatter*
*sensuous hugs*
“it’s 4am.”
“i want to go home & feed my cat first.”
*sensuous hugs*
“the sun will be up in 3 hours.”
“honey, i love you.”

iv.

she appeared at the beginning of the party.
no one saw her. but they felt her presence.
she swept through the crowd
a hard, shadowed edge
bright as the sun. & warm like ambrosia.

it wasn’t the sun’s glow that lit her up.
she was not the moon.

she appeared dripping with what the witches call profanity:
full of sustenance, ravenous, & yet
she possessed a particular stillness that draws out the depths of sound.
like a mountain,
outside the temple,
the whisper of leaves,
the cackle of coyotes,
the wind upon precipices,
visible & meaningful, fresh.

she spoke in a weird tongue. but not weird in the strange sense.
weird in the way her language licked movement into the future.

although some chanced to see her, many never had such fortune.

v.

everyone danced, grooved, strutted, sexed up the atmosphere. wheeled around. costumes and fancy dress to the nines. glitter. tights. lights. the bass hit deep, knees bent animate, hips punched quick, the rhythm, the night, a swirl of psychedelic symposium. an upheaval of platitudinal seduction, gushing, not so much from a deep-seated wildness, but rather an urge to love the world into fantastic nonexistence.

it’s a fun scene, but it’s an exhausted scene. the burning healing aesthetic-expression-of-spirituality scene. it’s a necessary stepping stone for some, a home for others, i’m sure it has saved many lives. and yes, it’s true- it’s abundant with people who want to explore further, who want to know deeper, who want to love freely without abandon or shame. it’s a scene that is a vehicle for nonconventional ways of relating & being. it’s true, it’s a global phenomenon and has surely impacted millions, and it’s clear people will continue to cultivate it as one might see to family. but despite the penchant for flow arts, it is a scene that lacks movement. its pitfall is hedonism. it gets lost there, and it floats, almost too comfortably, in a paradisiacal bliss, a cuddle puddle dripping tenderness into the enchanted hours of the dark night.

vi.

mama matrix most mysterious,
the lust for idealism is potently choking.
ancestors honored & blessed.

vii.

“it’s a derivative of a derivative.”
“what about the offshoots?”
“what if everyone ate ecstasy and the doors were locked for six hours
and we had to get real with one another!”
“a social experiment?”
“and afterwards, everyone hopped on a bus and went to feed the homeless.”
“a socialist burn?”

viii.

she appears like a vision at the end of the evening. when everyone else is blasted and spilling a smashy smash of semblance, she is refined and elegant. she is kept together. she isn’t at the same party as everyone else. maybe she is staying at the hotel, sipping a hard drink at the bar before heading off to her room. or maybe she waltzed in with an irresistible charm, spontaneously called from afar. her chariot, the deep cold of the night, collectively arriving, carried lovely from the sea by a murder of ravens guided by moon and stars.

ix.

they woke up sweaty. a boutique hotel the dead of winter. they fell back asleep. adjusting. cuddling. two husbands and a wife. she in the middle, turning one side to the other with the frequency of a full moon. sleepless, dreaming. the three lavishing the sunrise. each one, the other, a lover. resting.

a man like a hobbit asleep on the floor. he snores like a chimney.

x.

have you ever gone to bed and awoken in another dream?

xi.

a woman sits at a diner’s table staring into the distances.

her eyes blank, gazing, she cries lonely without a tear. a thought flits across her face, seen in the catch of her eyes, her cheek muscles pulsing faintly. she is not alone. she snaps into her body and looks at her husband. she beckons with her lips, perched, cooing, purring moist like a cliff overrun with waterfall. enticing him with her eyelashes, batting at a distance, dancing gently in the air, wings light as feathers. love, love me. love you.

he’s engrossed in his phone.
he mumbles something to her without looking up.
she laughs without a sound.

she coolly recoils into her own blank stare, looking at the space ahead, nowhere, a fantasy too far away, it flickers & wisps like a cloudy dream, a morning fog, she almost grasps it, a reality so intricately webbed, so convincingly cradled, so fragilely lost.

the waitress sets a cup of coffee under her nose.
she smiles thank you. isn’t this happy, a tiny excitement.
she sips like a bird, the steam wafting hot.

a thought again flits across her face and she smiles, looks to her husband and beckons, lips pursed, so unforgivably supple, he feels a light pout, the fragrance of a kiss, and he moves closer, unconsciously, still glued to his phone.

she purrs, and snaps her neck quickly, any more sharply and it may have hurt. her eyes zip focus. another thought, her husband moves an inch closer.

they know this game well.
she stalks him like a wild animal.
why? she doesn’t need him.
she wants him.
closer.
her desire isn’t licentious.
it’s an indefatigable aspect of being human.

and the heat of her look touches him, but only nibbles the periphery of his being. as she massages with patience, he begins slowly to put down the device. he looks at her and she smiles, slowly drawing him closer like a mama spider wrapping up a bit of nourishment & death.

xii.

sometimes it’s fireworks. sometimes it’s guns.

City Intimacy

Wandering downtown, on the lookout for the moon, but she is nowhere to be found. The buildings obscure the rise up. Instead, I find so many people, and emotions, the blur of city busy-ness sweeping up the wild instinct, cajoling the primal pulse of heart and erotic nakedness of thought.

You ever walk by a person and get a whiff of their life, little glimpses at where they awoke in the morning, what books their noses are stuck in… ?

It happens here and there, the stories. But more so, it’s a quick emotional sense, a drive-by connection, fleeting

Like a pedestrian passing, rushing with tinged anxiety, maybe late for dinner, trying headlong to be on time.

Another person, eyes wide in an attempt to repress fear, perhaps unused to the city, unsure what lurks in the saturated unknown. He’s probably watching too much cable news.

There’s youthful excitement emanating from those going out for the night, dressed to impress, feeling good, reeking of desperation and cheap cologne, unaware of their surroundings, loud as can be, ready to drop bills and gulp shots.

Homeless folks bundled up, broken down, begging, or just sitting, talking to no one in particular. One man slouched against the cold concrete of a building, he’s crumpled like his cardboard sign, fast asleep as people bustle by. I can’t imagine how tired he must be.

But there’s a lot of that in general: People tired, ready for a couch, a bed, ready for a vacation, a holiday, anything. And frustration. There’s so much frustration in the city. Furrowed brows, confusion, impatience, existential crises deeply expressed in far-off looks, wordless stares into the void of everywhere.

I stop to listen to a man on a loudspeaker. He stands with a small group out front the municipal building downtown. He speaks about dealing drugs, using drugs, finding God, encouraging the youth – and, I catch a wave of sadness. It echoes off the city walls, the faceless windows. The street lights absorb the words in fluorescent indifference.

I thought God might come through with unbridled lifeforce. Ecstatic dance, joy, unrecognizable movements even. Not every time, I suppose. In the fractalized everyday overwhelmingness of kaleidoscopic urban reality, sadness figures in prominently.

When I was younger, and still to this day, a curiosity of mine finds a home in mythos- gods and goddesses presiding over parts of life representing human behavior, personalities, archetypes, feelings.

I learned about Weeping Buddha when I was given a wooden statue by my mom. His story stuck with me.

He was a “great” warrior full of hubris. He fought everyone and anyone to prove his mighty strength. All his challengers fell before him, dead. Until one day, a masked man challenged him. They fought tooth and nail, evenly matched the whole way.

Blow for blow. Viciously.

And finally, the masked man got caught off guard, and they both tumbled to the ground. But not before a near death blow was made. The masked challenger fell limp.

To ensure victory, the great warrior slit the challenger’s throat. Blood stained the sword. With sweat dripping in maniacal laughter, he reached down and pulled off the man’s mask. To his great dismay, it was his son.

The great warrior began to weep. And he didn’t stop weeping. How could he be so caught up and kill his own son?

Right then and there, he gave up the life of war.

He continues to cry and cry, day and night, to this very day. People who find a terrible sadness visit him, and shed tears alongside him, and so, he is known as the Weeping Buddha. Sharing the world’s suffering.

I take a pause as I’m writing. Feeling as though I’m wrapped in a memory, getting off track, wondering how I’m going to return the writing to the city landscape.

At this point, I’m in a bar scratching up the blankness of paper with pen mark after pen mark. People leave me be, but through experience, it’s only a matter of time before someone barges in.

The bartender comes over and asks if I’m writing a book. We smile and flirt.

How many times have writers sat and stirred a particular feeling? Swiping pen to paper like a wand across a canvas, the ink trails a fleeting mark of romance. “By chance, dear writer, what are you writing? I don’t really want to know, though. You’re just piquing my interest. Tantalizing my creative sparks. I want a piece. A fleeting glimpse.”

And I let it happen. Why not? Part of writing is living the story. Giving over to mystery.

A trio of folks plop down next to me and the one guy almost immediately reaches out and says, “Hey, hey. My friend here is from Toronto and she’s loving the vibe and didn’t want to interrupt you writing, but she wants to know if she can trace her hand on your paper?”

I say “Of course, sure thing, why not.”

And just like that, we’re intermingling, chatting. Within a few moments, I realize I know the guy who first said what’s up. We share experiences. He’s showing both the woman and her husband around town, giving them a taste of Philly. We get to talking about mutual friends, free spirits, disappointments, and the complexities of relationships.

All this, in passing.

The woman who traced her hand chimes in a bit more, and we break off into our own little conversation. She says, “I saw you writing. I saw spirit. You know, I’m a believer, but not like that, nothing crazy, but I just saw SPIRIT, and oh my god it’s making me cry. I just saw you spilling your soul into that paper,” and she tears up and wipes her tears, sniffles.

I tell her what a happenstance. Look at what I’m writing.

It all makes so much sense. Weeping Buddha, the despondency of urbanity.

Before long, they take off, and we a hug a long hug. What warmth in a chance encounter.

Two people
in a big city
longing for connection,
something loving
and human
from a stranger.

xoxo

Absorption Into The Ocean

If I could wake up
every morning so peaceful
so many people still sleeping
the silence of waves
crashing
arhythmic meditation
a briny thickness
hanging heavy
opening up the lungs
deeply breathing
the heart swelling
like the spray of sea foam
crashing
in the distance
a flock of sea birds
splashing
in flight
the horizon lights up
a brackish pink
the receding waves
catching violet
reflecting salt
and purple rays

The way the sun engenders vision…
And gives birth to the morn…
It must be so easy to drown…

I get a cup of decaf coffee
with a splash of regular,
a small dose of pick-me-up caffeine

and the ocean feels less
like a womb and more
like an old crone
dispensing wisdom with each
ruffle of wave

arhythmic meditation
packed into the push
and pull of crashing
waves

I want to jump in
but only get my feet wet,
for now

It must be so easy to drown

like falling asleep
or jumping off a moving boat

This is what I think about
when I think about absorption,
little deaths,
the facade of self
crashing against sand and rocks,
the stubborn ego
holding on
to a capsizing ship.

I always wanted to be buried
naked in the earth
My dead old body decomposed
by the passage of worms
But I can imagine
being thrown overboard
at the edge of a dark, dark moon,
maybe a star will shoot off
and you’ll know I’m gone to the sky
the way a bird takes off and flies
a fleeting memory swallowed
by the unanimous nature of time

It must be so easy to drown

Last night we walked out to the ocean
to catch a glimpse of the setting sun,
but a heavy storm cloud
met us instead.
It brought with it
a deluge of thunder and rain.
We hid under a pier
at a vague attempt to stay dry.
Maybe to wait it out,
but there were dark storm clouds
covering the sky.

We were only delaying the inevitable.

So we ran out
into the storm
small acceptance
and shrieks of joy