Demon #1

Demon #1

 

Like the very smallest reindeer

I tied bronze bells on my ankles.

 

The jagged edges ripped a little

my skin, the cloth ties slipped

 

Around the softer veined bones

of a child’s bulbous talus.

 

The bells hung with a weight of

responsibility like metal fruits.

 

Feet splayed, bent like a widow

I hear my human drum machine:

 

                        Dha dhin ha,

                                    Na tin na.

 

Bharat, why have you claimed

this dance as your own?

           

Some years later after moving to

an American suburb, my mother

 

(hating her breasts, wishing, I think

to cut a slender Pavlovan shape)

 

found a ballerina with axe blade

shoulders, backbones like bullets

 

And in a mirrored room with pink

stretch fabric, I found gracelessness.

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3 minute monotone

Richard invited me to be a part of his wonderful eye readings. To see, go here: http://richardchiem.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/eye-readings-jayinee-reads-eight-paintings/

translations

Dictionary Definitions of Un-Translateable Words

 

ab-hi-man noun.

1. The swelling of a pouting lip

2. The swelling of a breast in hurt.

3. A wounded glance

4. A silence thereafter.

 

ha-ha-kar noun.

1. A collective wail that shakes our core with a very small earthquake.

2. What has died within us?

 

jheel-meel unknown.

1. A flash of brilliance that shocks the eye into belief and disbelief.

 

na-ka adjective.

  1. Effemination, or abomination.
  2. A weeping shrillness
  3. An unctuous complaint
  4. A twirling of the hand.

 

pa-ka adjective.

  1. A child so precocious that to kiss her would be to kick her.
  2. An infuriating knowledge
  3. A loss of eye-sparkle.

Evenings

Evenings

 

An entire country fed

Upon one psyche of a bearded

fool who grew flowers

From his mistakes.

Those millions who recounted

His songs with voices papery

Loose, crumbled fluttering

Through the mammoth stairs

That lead to a small room

Where the heady fingers of incense

Beckoned me at once, toward

And away from its revolting

Taste of piety.

 

Downstairs on the cool floor

My mother played an instrument

With a neck like I wish I had

that did not cry but hummed

At tones, merely suggesting

What it thought the air should

Vibrate.

My mother played an instrument

that bellowed, cried out against

The cruel breath of air, gasping

Not with love but because it must.

My mother played her voice

In the key of fool.

 

Meanwhile, tiny statues

Repeated themselves

In front of my eyes.

novella- last part

PART THREE

 

Painkillers

 

Can we take painkillers? Well, it depends on how great is the pain.

 

Could it turn the world crimson? Forever more bathe your eyes in a bloody filter that sears your thoughts, drives you to murder your own son with a hammer? Turn his bones a vivid fuchsia that permeates the landscape and makes you burst into ecstatic song? Yes, it is legal to suppress such feelings.

 

But if your pain is purely sadness, a numbing gelatinous hunger that renders you immobile, that sprinkles upon you every day in incessant sheets and tears fall like sugar crystals but not in gasping waves that turn into rage that turns into violence, then no, it is illegal to chemically lift your mood.

 

Do you remember my neighbor Michaela who left the seminary the very first year? That morning in the forest I saw a girl look up at me with the same giant hollow eyes as my old neighbor. She didn’t seem to recognize me. Later I looked over her shoulder to see what she was making. She was painting sorrow with glued on trash, dirty papers cut in delicate lace filigree. Red paint and a hodge podge of images, she seemed to be vomiting up her past—dusty Florida babies in plastic baubles crying, alone. History spewed on cardboard like a television screen showing snowy static remembrances.

When she lived in the city I think that her delusions got too great sometimes—she wouldn’t sleep for nights on end and I could hear her through the open window holding conversations with Our Lady of Guadalupe about the sexual fantasies of small children. Michaela, the eternal virgin.

Her parents thought her selfish and explosive, so they gave her pills to crush these delusions. Why speak to thin air as if it were you and I?

 

The night I noticed she was gone, the air was much stiller. I opened the window and everything was quiet, peaceful, redolent with the blank scent of utter tedium.

 

Daydreams

 The sun is falling quickly behind the cement buildings of the city and the streetlights are flashing: red and green, red and green. You’re melting into your leather jacket as you slide down the corner of a shoe store building. Your mouth is bleeding. A little kid thinks you are a hobo and tries to give you money but his mother grabs his hand and pulls him away. You decide to stop trying to navigate the Russian roulette streets and sink down into sleep. Your eyelids flutter closed.

 

My elbow slips off the wooden desk and I awake with a gasp. The entire class turns around and looks at me. For a second I stare at my classmates, deereyed and spooked until they laugh and return to the lecture. I shove my Epistemology book into my nylon backpack and slip out of the classroom toward our apartment. Usually I pay no mind to my dreams but today my mind feels stirred. The air is so clean and cruel.

 

 

You are getting a glass of water at the sink when I arrive. I put my arms around your waist and hug you from behind. You turn around, your chin and mouth gashed open, coated in blood coagulating like strawberry jelly, the heat melting through the stitches. Aghast, I mouth wordless things.

            “Disease?”

            “Police.”

 

Ictus

 

We stand entwined in the middle of our little kitchen like human tornadoes. You are trembling a little. My arms still linked around you because I feel as if you might explode if I let go. There are so many things I want to know.

“What is it like to have a seizure?” I ask you.

You pluck a tissue from the box, hold it to your mouth and blot. Bloody Rorschach images emerge: horned devils, veiny bat wings, a spray of red stars. Leaning against the white counter, you look like a tree blooming scarlet peonies.

            “It’s difficult to explain,” you say.

“Could you try anyway?”

 “Well, I guess it starts as a wonderful, really almost heavenly sensation,” you smile in remembrance and immediately grimace in pain as the cuts rip open further.

“There’s a tingling, a feeling of reoccurrence.” Your hands are forming round shapes in the air, trying to pluck the right words for me.

“Then I smell the odor of death itself; like death is so near that I can smell her perfume. It’s at that point that I start to get terrified. Time skips like a scratched record from one moment to the next. The world becomes illuminated by a strobe light. And then I don’t remember much of anything.”

I look down at the floor and curl my toes on the cold tile. There is a guilty gnawing in my mind, a yearning for firsthand knowledge of a state of mind as opaque as milk. But I push that away and busy myself with a damp cloth, dabbing at your mouth.

“And what happened today? How did the police get involved?”

Making a quick sound of disgust, you pull away from me and retrieve a crumpled pack of cigarettes from your pocket. You flick the bottom, pull out a stick and place it very carefully between your pursed lips.

“Should you really be smoking right now?” I ask as you light it and inhale deeply.

You ignore me and let the smoke form greyblue nebulas around your head.

The slow red burning of the paper,

the beastly hum of the refrigerator,

your eyes fixed on a faraway tree through the window.

                                    I notice the sharpness of your hooded eyelids,

the gentle sheen of your skin

            and for the first time, I dare to think the word “beautiful.”

“This afternoon I decided to skip class and take the bus downtown to get some books and some blank sheaves of paper,” you start, and light another cigarette.

“At the corner of 4th and Broadway I started to feel strange so I sat down and leaned against a building.”

“Was it a shoe store?” I interrupted.

You stare at me. “I don’t remember, why?”

“Nevermind,” I say. “Go on, please.”

“It was so strange. I felt like I was underwater, my consciousness was thick and the faces of people passing by rippled. I don’t know how long I was sitting there but it felt like I was moving in and out of dreams. Sometimes people talked to me in these dreams but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I remember waking for several seconds to see that the sky had turned dark with rainclouds and the neon glows were casting weird shadows on my face. My jaw felt raw and my mouth stung like crazy.” You pause to crush the cigarette butt in a metal ashtray.

“And I realized I was surrounded by black boots. Three policemen.”

You try to strike a match to light another cigarette but your trembling hands keep missing the side of the box over and over again. I take the match from you gently and light the thin stick.

            “And then?”

            “They arrested me,” you say, not looking at me.

“For what?” I cried.

“For non-cooperation and resisting arrest. Apparently I didn’t answer their questions and struggled to get away when they were handcuffing me so they softened my face with their boots a little. I found out afterward when I came to full consciousness in the hospital.” You point to a row of black hatch marks on your upper-lip. “Four stitches. They thought I was on drugs.”

“But your dog tag, they must have—“

“Didn’t see it.”

I know how much you hate wearing that thing. I go to you and pull on the dog tag (engraved with a winged staff entwined by two serpents) until your face is level with mine. Then I kiss you very cautiously on the tiny patch of lips still unbloodied.

 “Fortunately they decided not to charge me with a felony but instead slap me with a misdemeanor for not taking my pills.” You laugh derisively, your eyes looking manic.

“Do you see the irony, Flavia? I must pay a fine for not being on drugs.”

 

Thick Soup

 

It began to rain late in the evening.

At first it was the winds: crying like a wolf.

Then came the rain.

                                                                                                fat,

                                                                                    clear,

thick like tears,

                                    making wet amoebas on the windowglass

                                                                                    and rolling down my reflection face.

 

The night crashed down and it is still raining.

I am making corn soup in a red pot. I think about the way I want to spoon it to my lips, blow the scorch away and feed it to you  so carefully while you read a book.

            I think about “art”, I think about “beauty”.

                        I think about a young forest girl with a shock of bright red hair, holding a tiny spackled quail egg between her fingers and meticulously applying gold leaf to the inside so the egg seems to radiate pure sunlight.

I think about how the yellow glow makes me catch my breath sharply

and in the silent clearing, this sound is magnified into a gasp.

I think about an old forest man wrapped in a red-checkered loin-cloth holding up a string

of snake bones, threaded together with red yarn.

I think about a forest woman building a structure out of flower petals, looking to me with hollow

eyes—she is blind.

I think about the way these little objects

—objects created just for the sake of creating an object—

make the longing, the joy of my body fight and thrash like a swordfish.

I think about you whispering into my ear,

            “Do you know that you’re beautiful?”

I think about the landscape of your mind, about all its hills and valleys.

            I decide I want to see it, too.

 

And That’s the Truth

 

How do I begin? You look so inviting, all curled up like a golden cat under that blanket. But what will you say when I ask? I sit down on the ground by the bed.

            “Charles?” I whisper.

            “Yeah?”

            “How did you find out about the forest?”

You put your book down and turn to look at me. You smile and open up the blanket, motioning for me to hop in. So I do. I put my face up so close to yours that your features become distorted into mountains and lakes.

            “Remember the dawn when we fell in love? During the Darfur protest?”

            I nod. I remember.

            “That morning I felt a way that I had never felt before. It felt like a completely new part of my mind was activated—I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. So I just took the bus to the end of the line and kept walking. I thought that if I kept walking and thinking, that something would happen, and I would know.”

            I nod again. Keep going, keep going.

            “Then this really strange thing. I saw a girl ahead of me, the thinnest girl I’ve ever seen, pulling a wagon loaded with scraps of cloth and cans of SPAM. She pulled the wagon off the street and started going toward the mountain so I followed her. And you can guess the rest,” you say and laugh.

            I laugh too, awkwardly. Keep going, keep going. But you don’t.

            “Why did you stop taking your pills?” I ask.

            You reach over and turn the table lamp off. The room looks so different in the dark. Small things gain new significance—

            the blinking numbers on a clock,

                        the creak of the bedframe,

                                    and the loudness of your silence.

            “I stopped because I realized—” You fumble on the ground for your cigarettes and matches.

            “I smoked the last one,” I say.

            “Oh. Well, I stopped because I realized that the strangeness I felt that morning was due to the fact that I had forgotten to take a pill the night before. I realized that I’ve been medicated for so long that I forgot what it feels like to not have anything in my system.”

            I wait. There must be more.

            “I actually had a small seizure when I got back to the house. It was one of the beautiful ones where I smelled and tasted these gorgeous flavors of salt and sea, and the floor was covered in electric water lilies—god, it was beautiful. I wish you could’ve seen it.”

            This is it. Putting my head on your chest, I say, “Maybe I can.”

 

Voyages

 

ye I ate that shit

curling me I watch tv

your face swirls by

like under dark blue pool.

            In some hours, small objects start to take on greater meanings. The wind outside grows more fearsome.

 

I join you by light pool

prisms flash by surfacially

or at very bottom I snatch

them they stay glimmering

            The pool water shimmers and we wander through the complex system of buildings and wonder about the lives of their inhabitants.

 

ye I wanna be ocean

            the sound wettens like pool

water floods all senses.

            I feel like I am losing my mind.

 

                        …lllanngggg

                                    uage

                        dis                                                                                location.

 

Why scream you hurt “shit I took too much” chak chak chaka chaka chak chak

                        …do police exist?

                                                                           Do mothers?

                                                                                                   We are fish no need for hard hand

lay that curly head near mine, your face blurs like crying, don’t cry! the beauty kills and your face puffs up little by little…

 

When we finally come back to the apartment, I don’t recognize it. It looks vast, the walls slanting inward. Intellectually I know things in it to be mine—a pair of black boots, a cracked white dish—but none of it elicits an emotional response within me.

            (Long ago, I remember you asking: “Where am I?”

            I remember you looking at me as if you’ve never seen me before.)

I tell you these things and you put your arms around me and say: jamais vu, jamais vu.

           

 

Comedown

 

After several hours of incessant thought, I am exhausted. I sink my head in your cupped hands and say, “I’m tired, Charles. How do you make it stop?”

 

            “You can’t stop electricity,” you say cryptically. I walk out to the balcony in your ripped dress shirt and lean over the edge to feel the purple of the beveled hills touch my cheek. I sense you standing behind me, fingering a pack. You are so bright, it hurts to look.

 

You hug me quietly and we cling to compartmentalize all the information back to a soft gentle world.

 

I wonder: If the soul exists, does it fly away when we eat mushrooms?

 

I draw fish with teeth and we gather, quiet and blown over by a strong storm. The light makes us green. We are all the way we always are and yet this, this state of duality, of the consciousness being ripped out from the body, a state of pure data, is an alternate universe of patterns and seizures. When you come toward me, everything else recedes far away and the space between

u                                         s grows.

 

And beauty? In this strobe flashing.

Realization #1

p40715501

this is a terribly blurry picture of this painting but i lack a tripod

April is poetry month

Maybe once or twice

There was a dress, or shoe

Shoved in dark corners of thought

And maybe there was a wakening

Of conscience

Of sitting up straight

In a four-poster bed, asking

What happened to that magic pen?