death

Family Miasma

I'd left my family and friends to go and live the kind of life I'd always wanted to live, up in high mountain country with Liadain where the air was clean and time wasn't so important any more. But it seemed like it wasn't so easy to leave that life behind, because they all followed me - my mother and sister, grandparents and uncles and aunts, in a convoy up from the city for reasons best known to themselves.

I was trying to find Liadain so that we could leave, but my uncle cornered me in a small room and told me that he had found a passage in the Guru Granth that would make me have visions. I stayed to listen, and he read from the book with high drama, making me kneel down at one point. I really wanted to have visions, so I started to sway back and forth, trying to get into it even though I didn't understand the words he was saying. My mother and sister were trying to get my attention but I ignored them. Eventually my uncle finished the invocation and nothing in particular had happened so I got up and went to look for them.

To get out of the house I had to climb out of a large hallway window, and I got stuck, and a couple of my relatives tried to help me get down, but my uncle came along and told me to stop looking for attention, so I screamed at him to fuck off, which he didn't like at all. When I finally got down I went up to him and yelled "I'm sorry I told you to fuck off! OK? I'M SORRY!!" and then ran off crying, because everyone was being such an asshole and no one understood me at all.

Especially my mother, who was getting into her car and driving away because I had ignored her earlier. I caught up with her and sat in the car and tried to explain to her that I loved her, but we were never going to be able to have a proper, adult relationship if she was going to keep on getting upset over stupid things like this.

I don't know if she understood. The next time I saw her she was playing Internet chess with a man who was pretending to be John Wayne Gacy, Jr., who kept sending her disturbing instant messages which were supposed to be erotic, like "Now I'm cutting off your little finger, slowly," or "I'm flaying the skin from the inside of your thigh." My mother would make her move on the chessboard, and reply with flirtatious, coy messages. I didn't understand what she was getting out of the whole interchange, and I know it's not just because it was a dream, because I so rarely understand what people get out of the things they spend their time doing.

 

No Funeral

dream horizon
    rising indigo
        swallowing the sun

no one owns
    the killer wave
        or the destroyed city

in the arms
    of new friends
        we’re drowning

ivy seaweed
    fish caressing
        our shocked skin

where we lived
    hammerheads
        circling the hearth

no warning
    no funeral
        for these memories

You, The Marionette

you, the unstrung cello, with your factory hands and your crazy pale hair, what do you think you're doing? knives for the kitchen and kisses for the bedroom. you're supposed to be a healer. what else did you think would be any use? no physician heals the self

you, the bad actor, you live in a sea of mirrors, you're running through streets paved with faces cut from friends and family, you're always lost in someone else's labyrinth. you told yourself you were a chain on an angel but did you really think about it? your storm-smashed glass, your excuses to be angry. you, the maker of the sea. smiling shining everlasting if only it could always be that way



like furrows for planting seeds, red lines on your forearm. you, the unimportance of damage. so what does it mean when you stand in the empty white kitchen imagining yourself torn to pieces by knives. something is calling you - let me go. you said it was the closest thing to your dreams of flying, weaving through the rushhour animals with a mind like a razor, a razor through meat. let me go past the ring of hills into the psychic woodlands where dead pine needles crunched under the soles of my shoes in the silence of sleeping shadows. let me go out of the gravity well to swim in your space hotel.

you, the imaginary one. you met your twin and he told you the truth. he loved you and gave you the truth. where were you when the sky froze and the neverending mirrors toppled into the darkness of the sea, when the girl with no face danced the other universe open, when the star maker was visible in the eyes of every living thing, where were you when the fox screamed in the early morning through the fine mist of the woods, where was your heart when everyone else was given theirs. you, the island of the sun. you'd like to be marked. you'd like to be special. you'd like to be noticed. you'd like to tear yourself apart. you'd like to disappear. you, the one who was supposed to be loved and never hated, the gazer upon the face of the dark waters. Nero was an angler in the lake of darkness. we love for so many different reasons. we are shaken through space and time until we are free.



you, the mercenary. a visionary in the pounding aftermaths of your dreams, you're awake when you're invisible, forget what you think you know. your blood solves nothing, your thoughts are telegrams sent too late: when the door to the world of light closes stop you've seen all this before stop you've pushed the demons back a million times stop what new thing could you have to say now stop I broke myself, I lost myself, I wanted to eat the tendrils of the sun, they were made of gold sugar stop she told me I wouldn't ever die if I would only love

black windows falling. cold metal on your arm that you wish would bite deeper than you meant. oops - an accident. It's nothing. something bloody to show for all the wars you're going through. scars from someone else's battle. you, the healer. two homes high above the clouds, one a darkened pool of water that you fish in for tools, weapons, secrets. one a bright, quiet house, hidden between two leafs of a book with infinite pages. the clawed hand from the sky, the thousand-fired city catacombed through a mountainside. you, the hero, letting your friends pay the restaurant bill while you stare at the new continent in the sky. so strange you never noticed it before. I've been asleep all my life. crestfallen, ashamed, guilty. you stare at their faces full of love, at your own hands, twenty years older than you, the hands of someone shocked into silence and oblivion by a dead baby, a dark-eyed girl. never meant to hurt. you. anyone. dust and blood in spirals at the bottom of the broken staircase. the dread ringing in your ears fading with the grateful, lying thought, this is a dream as you give up the struggle and slip under the waves with your dark sister. sometimes it's true. if it's false, you lose everything, and start again with empty hands and a little more confusion. isn't it better for everything to be real than unreal?

your little comforts. the blue sky at the top of the mesa, the gravestones they turned into pavings for a park, dead acorns painted gold and hung on a string for Christmas. you, turning death into life. The mirror tells you that you’re dying with every second. life into death and death into life, the skeleton dancing in the valley of skulls and snowdrops. baby heads pushing out of the frozen soil of the suburban parks, the arcs of the suspension bridge lurking in the fog, bubbles and frogspawn collecting in the corners of the shattered cesspool. you, the witness, desperate for understanding. you, the mariner. you, the firm grip, the knife, the cut, and the end of the cut. you, the one who isn't harmed. you, the liar, the lie, and the truth the lie tried to hide. you, the menu and the meal, the map and the territory, the hand and the glove. you, the spiral flower.

offerings in the morning darkness to the empty chair, crying for a mother who never existed. you held her out of the bathwater until her death turned to life again. later by the wild shore raindrops closed your eyes, shouts from the hillside from friends hidden in the ferns and grass, hunting lemons and papaya for when the beach is set on fire. we'll set it on fire. we'll offer it up if you want. anything but what you're asking. you, the one who knows what the fire rituals mean, you, who kissed the sand at the centre of the universe, you, the only other person who saw the rainbow's end in the trees near the jetty, while the storm rains churned the sea and you floated with no dreams left.



the dreams came back. I am their playground, writhing between pillars of lightning. I, astronaut, caught in the birth of something that howls with flame and darkness. silent absolute zero burning through your bones. you, the one in the sun's heart. this is my mind. this is my gift and what it costs. to build bridges across a shifting sea, to link the cold cores of stars. this is the other world you wished for. I don't know how I didn't die.

Washed

woke up from dreams of murder
into tears of the heart and throat,
sobbing into my pillow
on a sleepy, rainy sunday morning
because I'd died, because she was still alive -
she was me, walking home alone, head held high
though washed and wrecked by pain

I remembered my years of forgetting,
of being at war with my own soul -
please god, let that soft touch on my forehead
be the fingertips of the one I love,
invisible, impossible, distanceless -
I'll be crying for everything I ever hoped was true
this joy, this rage, for finally finding you

Antimatter

solar powered, battery free hopeless incompetent hero drowning
partially helpless unclothed mystified you're my freshness and my sight
I'm outside everything, wiping a finger on the window of my dreams
fogged up and freezing, friends and failure, my god helps me to see into
the nighttime dynamo and the whirling metal glacier indigo
I'm not here, I'm not anywhere, I'm not a thing at all
nowhere, nothing, a twist in the sheet metal of the mind, a noise
in the storm of the mind, an image writhing on the surface of the mind's sea
all this is nothing, I need my own voice to come through
not some reflection of the screams and confusion going on in my brain
but my real awareness, how I'd want to speak to god, how I'd want to speak
to my own soul, my own heart, how I'd speak to my mother after this life is over
this is nothing, there's no reason for it, I can't see or hear, like something
not even born, wailing unformed and limbless, egg sac, egg yolk skin and eyes
not that nightmare, something real and ordinary, a fetus, an amniotic teabag
there's no identity here that stays the same across each moment and second
no ghost dancing in my bones, no woman drowning in my mind, no hero
puking into the dark river, no lion raising its paw to pull down
the screen of the universe and bring all pretending to an end
mama mama let me sing before the dark god coughs and the goblin claws my throat out
let me roll in the brambles near the reservoir, let me leave and never come back
fist, throat, name, hand, shoes, walls, sun, sister, road, knife, sky
a new style in the magazines or the third greatest novel in the history
of an insignificant country - another barefoot, smiling guru, another teacher
clawing desperately at a sick blackboard as the faceless students scroll by
on film strip winding around a prayer wheel, a maypole, a stick for entrails
three kilos of quivering calculating brain cereal, bone and meat, leatherbound,
decorated and stamped for approval and processing, rapid insertion into the equation
no purity, no home, no return - halved and quartered and divided until we are sand,
we are dust, we are antimatter, and our burning heals us, our screaming soothes us
I remember how I used to sing, and listen to singing, how I used to shout
when the birds and the frogs in the old garden woke up and the ditches shook
I am just a bag of memory, old stories repeating, sun and moon cycling, blood
in the veins and arteries, a system of systems, words and words and words
trying to find a new way of writing but my mind is empty, nothing comes
India, father, pillars in the evening, sand and kisses, the smell of the dead house
smoke from bodies, slow river, roots of mountains, clear water, the bellow
of an emperor trapped in a dream, horse rotting in a riverbed, flowers in eye sockets
fuck how I love to breathe, to feel it bursting in my stomach and my spine,
that insane loving energy shooting me like a maniac bullet at my own beautiful death

Dark Night of the Soul

shrieking under folds of blackness,
hands clawing at the fabric of an unlit tent.
veins swelling in a vacuum, empty eye sockets wide.
the midnight of his memory full of monsters.
what we know as horror: the crossing of death into life,
the corpse walking with a blind smile,
the puppets jerking at their strings.
his mother's bloody grin, holding her own head by the hair,
and he ran out the door into the apocalypse they promised him:
the destiny of the destroyed atom, and a trillion ghosts
left to roam a nightmare planet in unfinished visions.

slicing himself for the feeling of bright sharpness, the reality.
sky on a frozen winter's day, the cloud diamondcutter.
the clarity when he first loved her, when he first recognised her
and became a river running to her. the deathly fear
when he lay awake in the living night-time, presences
crowding in his awareness, afraid to turn over.
when he took the elevator to the basement of his mind
and found the mutilated man, madness shining in his remaining eye.
the boy in the abandoned house who swallowed a living scorpion -
tongue numb with venom, his skin turned black and livid -
but inside he became a storm of daisies, summer light and wind.
someone who would love the demons and angels alike -
an alchemist, at war with the dead physics of his universe.

strange notes from the other side of a drugged mind:
"what the FUCK happens when we die?" and the feeling
of crossing into an unknown land. his only journey:
miles of roads lined with bodies and flowers, tiger paws,
daggers, vertigo footage from cameras falling off cliffs.
or, like faded newsreel, spotted and flickering, set to the sound
of muttering, whispering voices, old showtunes:
the body's last words,
spoken on a sunlit evening stretching into neverness.

Little Burning Petals

Yellow roses are cold. Red roses burn you inside and white roses are broken pieces of a purer sun, but yellow roses have no flame, they are cold. Everyone knows this.

Karen remembers the day Dad gave her roses. She sometimes thinks about his as he was on that day, at that moment, the butter flowers making his face glow as if with an interior light. She knows it was only the fluorescents reflected off the petals, because as she took the flowers they chilled her skin.

Karen still sleeps in her old bedroom. She takes the same steps every day and smiles to herself as if each of her actions contained a secret. She is a shower of dark hair. She gets more beautiful every day. In the morning she sits outside and waits for the sun to crest the oaks at the edge of the garden, soaking up as much light as she can. When she comes back inside she radiates it – it’s almost painful to touch her, and there’s nothing beautiful in the world except her. When it rains she folds up her light neatly and draws it into herself. She drifts through the house like a thing barely alive. She arranges the flowers in every room. Daffodils for the kitchen, daisies for the bathroom, lilacs for the hall, and roses…

Roses are powerful flowers. Dad brought her roses that day. Their stems were bound with rough string. His face was caught in expressions from which he had no escape – every smile held the seeds of the frown that would soon return. He brought her flowers because it was raining and he knew that rain broke her heart. Karen thinks that the rain falling in our garden sounds like a dead person breathing.

Karen has put all her books in boxes and she says that one day she’ll burn them. In her bedroom she is surrounded by red and white roses in vases, jars, glasses, dried and hung from the ceiling, pressed between sheets of paper, pictures and paintings of roses, roses on her bedcovers and sheets. She says that they keep her warm at night when the sun is gone, and while she sleeps the scent wraps around her and she feels loved. I’ve seen her smiling in her sleep. I’ve seen her sleeping with open eyes.

She saw it in Dad’s eyes when he gave her the yellow roses. She didn’t say anything then, but later she told me that she had known what would happen. The yellow reflected in his eyes, the smell of the petals, the slow crumbling of his smile. The way he’d been reluctant to let go of the flowers when she took them, as if he needed the light. When she took them he went grey again in an instant – the stone eyes, the stone mask of skin, like a golem. When he left again she dropped the roses on the ground and wouldn’t pick them up again. They were pulling the heat from her, she said.

Sometimes I bring her away from the house. I try to take care of her because she needs it so much. She sees all places as if they were the same place. She gazes through people as if they were as shallow as the skein of dew on flower petals in the morning. But at home she’s alive because she knows where she is. Even on her dark days she burns from within like an angry ghost. When I have to go out she turns the lights off and moves through the darkness, and I come home hours later to find her glowing a subtle white, floating from room to room with her arms full of flowers, wet from the garden or crisp and pressed from the pages of books. Some day she’s going to burn the books.

She says that as Dad turned to go upstairs she heard him whispering, but she didn’t catch the words, and then it seemed to her as if she might have been wrong, and what she heard was really the sound of the rain in the garden, the deathly whisper.

I keep the room locked, except when Karen comes to me with yellow roses in her arms, smiling, her eyes full of hope, a knowledge that she would give to me if she could, and I open the door for her. He had always given her flowers. After Mom died his love locked itself deep inside, and the harder he tried to reach out of himself, the further away his voice seemed to be when he spoke, the more distance his gaze had to cover. Karen sometimes cried after he spoke to her, and that’s why he brought her flowers. They made her smile again, and the house would grow warm for a short while, and his spirit would come closer to the surface of his skin. He gave her lilacs and carnations and daffodils and irises and hyacinths and roses. Red roses and white roses. Then yellow roses, at the end. I’m sorry. That’s how she knew.

At first, Karen burned the roses in his room because of the gunpowder smell. The cordite scorched her nostrils and brought tears to her eyes, and she put the yellow roses in vases on the windowsill and the shelves of his room and burned them with a cigarette lighter until the sweet perfumed smoke hung in the air like fog and the smell of powder was gone. Black, tattered petals floated to the ceiling on plumes of heat and fell on his body as ash. Then she came out and looked at me and I locked the door because I didn’t know what to do.

Yellow roses are cold, like the moon. Karen watches the moon at night and smiles to herself. She knows who it reflects and she knows she shines brighter. She drinks the sun in the morning and gathers flowers for the house. She knows a secret. I don’t know the secret and she can’t tell me. She burns flowers in Dad’s bedroom to take away the smell. Dad smiles a smile that isn’t going to go away. Karen floats through the house like a star. I try to help her but soon we will have to go. When she smiles I feel warm. She’s my burning little sister. She cries sometimes because she doesn’t know how to say what she needs to say.

She says that we’re outside time now. We’re always going to be here, she says, and we were always here, pressed like petals between the pages of a book. She burns the roses and she will burn the books too. I know we’re not always going to be alone here. Someone is going to come. It’s not supposed to be like this, but I need her. I need her and I love Dad’s smile, his beautiful cold smile.

When the others come Karen says she will bring me home at last.
 

Mama Kali From Before

My Holy Guardian Angel
Is the Jesus of the Spheres
The am beheld and cradled
Imperceptible appears

In skin She wraps the Radiant
Of Gold the ether sings
Her arrows arch the firmament
In glory of its wings

I worship at Her Fountainhead
Undrinking I inhale
Her passionate and bountifed
Impressionless impaled

The murderer between us She
Possesses undefiled
Deliverance unslivers me
Unshudder with Her Smile

Repent and only sinnerless
I infinitely True
My outcry for Her Tenderness
Destroyer I Love You