22 September 2019

Weaponise Optimism

I love a good pithy meme as much as anyone. I like the snarky ones and the silly ones, and I even like some of the over-the-top-posi ones. I prefer a melancholy couplet over a motivational poster, but sometimes it's nice to see something encouraging. Earnest. Sometimes, though, I see things and I stare at them and I try to parse their meaning and all I can think is, 'The fuck did they think they were saying cos I think they missed the mark.'*

And then I saw this one and I had to say something because it wasn't just asinine - it was demeaning and harmful. (I am being a little melodramatic, but honestly less than I would like to admit.)
The strongest people make time to help others, even if they are struggling with their own problems.
Wow, is this a load of bullshit. I am so fucking sick of seeing this kind of sentiment floating around because it pretty much can only incite shame in the people who read it and really take it to heart. They're going to think of every time someone made time for them, and every time they didn't make time for someone else because they were burnt out and needed to rest, and they're going to feel like shit and they're going to feel weak. Why would anyone want to promote a message that will make people feel ashamed and weak? Outside of propaganda, I can't think of a good reason other than sadism. Or really, if it's truly honestly obliviousness? Please start paying attention. Language is changing, but what we do with it is important. Because it affects us profoundly in ways we don't entirely understand.

What this also does is reinforce the terrible behaviours that our shitty capitalist hellscape is forcing us to adopt, where we feel we must give and give and give even when we run dry, because that's what "strength" is. How exactly the fuck is it strength to keep giving past your limit? Fuck that. If someone needs to take a fucking break, and they can't hold space for me when I ask, GOOD. That's a good thing because it means they are setting a boundary, and they are trusting me to respect that boundary. That is the best one-two combo ever in a relationship: self-respect and trust. I would rather someone say no, than to help me to their own detriment. I like it when people set boundaries to work on getting their own shit together.

This isn't to say I think that we should only be looking out for number one. I don't. But having a community of people who respect themselves and one another, who know how to communicate their needs and who allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to ask for what they want and need, means that people will have time to heal and rest so they can keep helping others and (themselves) heal.

This sentiment makes me think of how my father explained "altruism" to me. He said this came from Ayn Rand, and that was pretty gross to hear, but the explanation is still relevant and interesting. If a parent goes hungry to feed their own children, that is not altruism, because the parent benefits from the action, if somewhat obliquely, because they have a vested interest in their children's survival. But if a parent let their own children go hungry to feed a neighbour's family, THAT would be an altruistic act. The parent is doing good, and not just to their detriment. They are doing it to the detriment of their own children. They get no benefit whatsoever by helping their neighbour, because it means they and their own children will go hungry. The parent would feel guilt, but they would do what they believe to be the right thing, even if they're hated for it.

We don't need to promote self-directed harm just to help others. Because it eventually will lead to a massive dearth of us altogether. One can run on empty for only so long before it kills them.

This weird positivity culture thing is getting to me. I don't think we should give up and I absolutely support looking for the good. But what I'm interested in, what I want to see in the world, is a place where we don't have to choose between self care and caring for others. Because we'll actually have the time and means to recover. It sounds like straight up fantasy, but that's only because it's not something I can have in this lifetime. The road is too long, and I'm quite finite. But I can do my part, even if it is small, to help us keep moving in the right direction, not let us give up hope, even if we move such a short distance it doesn't feel like we moved at all. We are making so much progess it's amazing. The conversations and language are changing faster than ever because we are talking more. That means there is hope.

I don't want hope to be some platonic ideal that is treated like a cure-all salve that relieves us of responsibiity. I want us to know how much our ideals cost us. I want us to feel the parts that aren't pretty, that make us hurt, that bind us together, that motivate us to get through this shit. Because those will be our legends, the stories our children's children's children's will tell of our struggle and of our victories, however small they may feel in the moment.
Armageddon is averted through small actions.**
I want to weaponise optimism.

*actually I was just thinking 'whaaaa?'
**Neil Gaiman, "Only the End of the World Again"

Just ... don't, okay?

A furor of indignation and outrage has swept the internet because a remake of The Princess Bride was introduced as a possibly viable idea. The internet went mad, in a truly impressive display of solidarity among lots of disparate and oppositional factions, we all rejected the idea. And the existence of social media means not only can we all talk about it across the globe and foment large-scale public opinion that this is a Bad Idea, but that we have instant access to the opinions of the persons who made the film the first time around. Cary Elwes' response was delightfully eloquent and on-brand: "There's a shortage of perfect movies in the world. It would be a pity to damage this one."*

I have a long and passionate relationship with this film, as do many persons who are crying foul at this idea. I am far from unique in that I know the script and can recite it off the top of my head. But it's more than that for me. So much more. I have owned so many different versions of this film -- every time a new Special Edition came out, I added it to my collection, because each new edition usually had at least one new special feature documentary or commentary track or something. My absolute favourite special feature of the many I have consumed was the Writers Commentary. William Goldman talking about making the film is a gift without price.

One of the nice things about this fan outrage has been the opportunity to drop massive amounts of trivia on unsuspecting audiences, and inso doing, making them love the film *even* *more* than they already did. I love telling people about the connexion between The Princess Bride and This is Spinal Tap. I like telling them about why there are certain significant differences between the film and the book. I like telling them about all the little things I've picked up over the years, that just add to the depth and texture of my love affair with this story.

I have a few arguments against the idea of a remake that have a lot less to do with my own relationship with the film (because I can choose not to see a remake), because it's not that I have concerns I'd be disappointed (I know I would be), but rather that I think if William Goldman were still alive, he'd not condone such a project.

The Princess Bride (book) was published in 1973. It was another 14 years before the film was made. Had he wanted to turn it into a film immediately, it was entirely within reach for Goldman. He was an established and respected writer in Hollywood. He had the right connexions. He just didn't have the inclination to do so right away. This was because the book was William Goldman's favourite book he had written. It was his baby, and he wanted to make sure that when the film got made, it was going to be done according to HIS artistic vision. From the point it was published to Goldman allowing Rob Reiner to make the film, Goldman was approached time and again by people wanting to make the film, and he kept saying "no" because he was looking for "The One" and Rob Reiner was it. (That's where Spinal Tap comes into the story -- Goldman said after seeing This is Spinal Tap, he knew Reiner was the right man for the job.)

Goldman wrote the script himself, and this was not the usual vanity project of a novelist who is afraid of Hollywood getting its grubby hands all over it (though he didn't want that, either). Goldman was The Screenplay Doctor in Hollywood through his career. Other screenwriters would go to him for assitance with their own scripts, and by 1984 (the year Spinal Tap came out), he'd won two Academy Awards for screenwriting. One for Best Original Screenplay (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and one for Best Adapted Screenplay (All the President's Men). He knew what he was doing, what was possible, and what was negotiable. All the changes in plot were THE WRITER'S OWN IDEAS AND CHOICES rather than changes forced upon him by producers or the director.

Goldman had enormous artistic control in this endeavour, not because he was the writer, but because Rob Reiner respected Goldman as a writer, and he understood just how important the book and film were to Goldman. It was very important to Reiner that Goldman be pleased with the final project.

(He succeeded.)

Boiled down to its most basic essence, the reason this proposed remake upsets me more than, say, all the Disney movies we've seen come out recently is because I don't look at the film as merely entertainment. It's much more a piece of Art to me than Entertainment. And the lens of 'Art' vs 'Entertainment' makes it so much more important that the work stand as a unique finished piece that was as close to perfect as was possible for the artist to get to expressing his art. A remake feels like a capitalist money-grab, rather than a true artistic reinterpretation of a work of art.

*(@cary_elwes, 17 Sept 2019)

20 September 2019

Heartless (early draft)

I wake with a start, my heart beating hard in my chest. Sleep paralysis grips me, an oppressive weight crushing my chest. My heart pulses savagely against my ribs, causing my whole body to throb with it. This is my third nightmare in a row. I am healed.

I inhale a ragged breath of cool, antiseptic air. An IV drips nutrients into my veins. My stomach long since past registering hunger, I no longer feel the tight painful cramping. I do not eat, I do not really sleep, passing most of my days in a haze of mindless fog, dreading the Orderly’s next appearance. And then the nightmares come, an ugly, terrifying harbinger. My body registering fear at being whole.

I huddle under the thin blanket on my bed, my restrained wrists and ankles making the effort pathetic. I am afraid. I am always afraid.

My cell door opens and the Orderly enters wearing surgical scrubs, face covered with a mask. Their cold, empty eyes sweep the room, then the Orderly steps to my bed and unlocks the castors with a squeak and a grunt. I am wheeled into the hallway, my IV secured to a post on the bed itself.

I am momentarily blinded. The lights in the corridor glare at me and I blink my eyes several times until they adjust to the blazing light. The ceiling is glass-smooth and mirror-bright, and I watch my reflection as I am taken to the operating theatre. I am a wraith: starved, empty, paper thin. My heart beats hard against its cage, a frightened bird.

The operating theatre smells of sharp lye, ozone, and something slightly sweet, but toxic. The Orderly wheels my bed to a large, pressurised gas canister. A mask with a hose is attached to the nozzle. The Orderly holds the mask over my mouth and opens the tap.

The inside of my nose is instantly coated in a sticky sweet film as I inhale the tranquilising gas, and my limbs grow heavy, as if gravity has increased. My frantic heartbeat slows to a booming hollow gong in my chest. The mask is lifted from my face and the blanket is pulled off me. I shiver slightly in the cool air of the room, but I can barely feel it through the weight of the tranquiliser on my senses.

My restraints are unbuckled. The Orderly stands at the head of my bed and picks up the sheet on either side of my shoulders. A second pair of hands lifts the sheet from the foot of my bed, and they transfer me to the operating table in a single smooth motion. I try to blink, but once my eyes close, it is too hard to open them again. It does not matter if I can see my torturers. I already know what comes next.

A bright light comes on overhead, burning my eyes with pink light and spots through my eyelids. My hospital gown is pulled open to bare my chest. There is a slight buzz of cold as the incision site is prepped. I am almost entirely detached from my body, the tranquiliser making everything soft, muted, barely noticeable, like an echo reach the very end of a long tunnel.

I hear metallic clicks and a needle-thin spike of adrenaline-heightened fear pierces the tranquiliser fog. I know when the scalpel touches and penetrates my skin, feel my flesh part beneath the sharp steel. The Surgeon slices me open like a fish for gutting. My chest gapes, my flesh peeled back, exposing my ribs, my heart beat still slow and plodding.

The Surgeon murmurs something and the Orderly’s reply is a soft buzz in my ear, but I cannot hear the words. Her finger taps against my breastbone and the Orderly hands her something. There is a pressure on my chest followed by a sharp popping that causes a spasm of white hot pain to stab through the tranquiliser. More pressure and another sharp pop, and then again. The Surgeon spreads my ribs, snipped neatly away from my sternum.

The pain subsides almost as soon as each spasm ends. The lethargy of the tranquiliser wraps around me again. I feel the Surgeon stick her hand in my chest. I feel her press against the flesh, shift the bone out of her way, invade the sanctum of my ribcage. I feel her fingertips press against my heart, which continues to beat slow, steady.

There is a pressure, and then I feel my flesh part again and I can no longer feel my heartbeat. The blood vessels anchoring the organ in my chest are severed. I gasp. There is a loud snapping sound and the strong scent of ozone. The light burning through my eyelids is suddenly blocked as the Surgeon leans over me, watching the small organ she electrocuted begin to pulse, erratically at first. The overhead light is blotted out until the tinny beat steadies.

They jump-started my secondary heart.

My chest feels hollow as the Surgeon closes and stitches up the incisions. My secondary heart beats, but it is so faint, so weak compared to the heart the Surgeon just harvested. It is a single tom trying to fill the role of an entire section of timpani.

Once the Surgeon is done, she steps away from the operating table. I am lifted by the sheet and transferred back to my hospital bed. The Orderly closes my gown and covers me with the blanket. They wheel me down the mirror-ceilinged corridor, back to my cell.

A fortnight will pass, and they will come for me once more. The portentous dreams will come with the crushing weight on my chest, telling me I am healed once more. Three nightmares, and then the Orderly will wheel me to the Operating Theatre once more. And the cycle will begin once more. Fortnight after fortnight, as it has gone for so long, I can no longer remember my life outside this hell.

The little plaque next to my cell door reads: Patient #6438900, AB-, bi-weekly heart donor, but I must remember this is not who I am. I have not always been in this sadistic laboratory prison. I cannot have been. I can't.

My name is Tamsin Lev. I must remember. I must ... remember.

11 August 2019

The Four Riders

Conquest invaded and usurped me. He was an irresistible force that I was unable to ignore, unable to stop, unable to turn away. He bent me to his will, he reframed my body and twisted my mind, he pushed and pulled and wrestled me into place, and moved me to his desires. No care was given; there was no gentleness in his touch. There was only brutal demand. It was entirely about him: his need, his pleasure, his to take and break.

War punished my body. Every infraction I committed, she repaid me in full and then again, and once more. For all my sins, I was punished, severely, threefold. She beat me until I was tender, and she raked at me until I was raw. No part was safe from flail or claw, no portion off limits for the shock of the wand, no place sacred against pain. My flesh burned and flushed and throbbed and ached.

Famine was pure, unadulterated torture. After I was ravage and flayed, naked before them, mewling and pathetic, panting with exhaustion, they soothed me with soft words, with light touches and gentle kisses. Soon they were pulling me up to the edge of the cliff, feeding my need with a flick of a finger or touch of their tongue, and then they pulled back, and left me to shiver and writhe, starved for death. Over and over they took me just to the teetering edge of a magnificent precipice, and then withdrew. I sobbed with hunger, begged for mercy, pleaded for death, my muscles tensed and aching, my belly hollow, and my mind far, far away…

And at last, there was Death. He is my Master. I knelt at his feet, suppliant. He rewarded me with himself, and pushed me, pulled me, dragged me to that liminal cliff, and then, finally, together with my Master, I plunged headlong over the edge and fell through endless space. He shattered me over and over with the most exquisite precision, until there was nothing but a pulsing wave of pleasure humming through my bones, an endless, little death.

…and my prayers and pleas are answered -- my mind fades away, and I melt into him, and my self becomes nothing but a vehicle for his pleasure, safe because I know he will always lead me back…

09 August 2019

The Wee Folk of the Wishing Well

So you see, so you see,
So they say, so they say,
What happens at the crossroads in the twilight
In the gloaming
Can you see? Can you see?
Dare you say? Dare you say?
What you saw? Whom you met?
At the crossroads in the twilight
On a warm autumnal evening…

(Follow the stairs down the side of the hill,
Follow the path twixt the ivy-hung trees,
Follow the spit alongside of the Sound,
Follow us into the mossy green haunting…)

Find the place past the troll’s bridge,
Where the cloverleaf ramps thrive
In the brambled, ivied hills,
To the wheel-spoke splay
Where the roads cross thrice.

At the twilight there, in the gloaming,
The light shines upon the path
To the wishing well.
The path is only there on odd nights
When the worlds align
In the twilight, in the gloaming.

Find the well, the wishing well,
Amongst the trembling aspens
The well where they drop down wishes
Like coins upon our heads:
Send a babe, turn a head, spark a love, play a game;
Drop a lure, catch a look, act the muse, stop a pain.
We polish up the wishes they drop
Like coins upon our heads,
Shine them up till bright they gleam,
And then we send them back,
Wishes granted, though perhaps
Not quite as they would think
In the twilight, in the gloaming

Those well-wishers rarely give us thanks
But still we grant the wishes that fall
Like coins upon our heads,
Cos that’s what well-wishing’s for.

The Old Man Who Tends the Cloud Trees...

There is a place in the world that few persons know; it is a place high on a mountain that no one climbs, deep in a wood no one travels. It is not on any map; as Melville says, true places never are.

High on this mountain, deep in this wood, there is a small house. An old man lives there, has always lived there. As long as there has been this wood on this mountain, there has been an old man living amongst the mist and trees.

He lives a simple life deep in the wood, high on the mountain, tending the trees that grow up around his small house.

Every morning, he rises with the sun and goes to the well. He sits on the edge of the well and drops all his hopes and wishes and dreams into the water, pieces of his soul, falling like pebbles from his mouth to splash down at the bottom. He then draws bucket after bucket of water from the well and pours out his wishes and hopes and dreams at the foot of each of the trees that grows around the clearing where his house sits.

When the sun climbs high into the sky, in the clear mountain air, and the mist dissolves, and the thirst of the trees has been quenched, the old man goes to the shed next to the well and takes out an odd looking knife. The handle of the knife is white as bone, smooth and shiny, and moulded to fit his hand. The blade is long and thin and bent at an odd angle. One side has serrated teeth, the other a straight, sharp edge.

While the sun finishes its arcing journey across the noonday sky into the evening, he takes his odd knife and he trims the trees, pruning away leaves and branches, smoothing them, shaping them. While he cuts at a tree, he whispers to it, telling it all the dreams he has for it, all the hopes, and he pours out his heart to each tree as he grooms it, filling it up with love as he pares away the parts of the tree that are not suited for its purpose.

When the sun sets, the old man’s work is finished, and he retires for the day. The mist returns as the sky darkens and the leaves of the trees shimmer and shift in the fey light of the gloaming. As the moon rises above them in the dark of the night, the trees inhale as one, and exhale as one, and they release into the sky great puffy clouds. Once the clouds gather above the deep wood, high on the mountain, the west wind comes and carries them away.

01 September 2016

Compassion in the Face of Humiliation, or How I Saw an Uglier Side of Myself

I like the programme The West Wing. I like Aaron Sorkin's writing and his ideas, and the ridiculous (amazing) platonic ideal of dialogue presented. People don't talk like that, not really, but it's always fun to watch and hear. Like Shakespeare, only with more obvious snark and a highly liberal agenda.

Last night I was watching the episode, The Midterms (S.2, e.3), and there is a scene in it I have loved since the first time I saw it on YouTube. At a function for talk radio hosts, President Bartlett goes off script and disassembles a Dr Laura analogue down to the ground. It is a rapid-fire smackdown using chapter and verse of the Bible to counter her smug and superior justification for calling homosexuality an abomination ('I don't say so... The Bible says so.'); the President asks if he can sell his daughter into slavery, asks how his Chief of Staff, his brother, and his mother ought to be executed for working on the Sabbath, planting two different crops side by side, and wearing garments made of two different threads. He asks if football players can continue to play if they wear gloves (because they can't touch the skin of a dead pig lest they become unclean). Throughout this entire exchange, the part of me that loathes indoctrination, the part of me that rebels against the asinine justification for people to hate entire groups of people, while blithely ignoring anything they don't actually want to deal with, is always full of glee. However, this time, watching this scene, I felt different. I didn't feel joyful, or gleeful, or even my favourite glowing schadenfreude. Instead, what I felt was compassion. For the Dr Laura character.

The character herself is merely a vehicle -- a simple analogue for the writer to make a point. It is absolutely a rant against the religious right and their arbitrary adherence to a set of ancient rules based on preconceived and ignorant prejudices, and that is something I can appreciate both philosophically and intellectually. However, watching the look on the actress' face (and she was spot-on for having only a few lines) made me feel deep empathy for her. The President is not debating a topic here -- he is not trying to engage in a meeting of minds to win someone over to the side of (what he believes to be) righteousness. Instead, it is entirely an exercise in humiliation -- her humiliation. And on a human level, I empathised with her and wanted more than anything for the rant to stop, for her humiliation to be cut short. In the face of such an attack, I would not have been able to sit still and take it the way she does; I would have burst into tears and fled. Just the idea of such a public humiliation among an audience of strangers and colleagues, by a person of such immense power and influence, is unfathomable. The thought makes me sick.

This was not at all a comfortable experience for me. I like to think (mostly) well of myself. I like to think I have intelligent opinions based on facts in evidence and a morality that is inclusive rather than exclusive. I realised I had (until this point) always considered this scene as a one-sided affair to be lauded, and that the side I took was that of a person (a man) of power and influence using them like a club, as a bully, not to humble someone, not to engage as a human being, but simply to humiliate that person to make a point, was incredibly uncomfortable. Yes, the character and her real-world analogue are hatemongers and bullies themselves, but that doesn't make them inhuman -- it just makes them bad humans. But I'm the last person who should be making value judgements about humans -- I'm barely human myself these days. It also made me realise that while I like to think well of myself, I tend to isolate myself amongst like-minded individuals (a very human trait). I make judgements about the worth of a human rather than simply disagreeing with a point or an opinion or a stance on any particular topic. I stop seeing people and I only see politics -- and it allows me to make of them an Other. And once someone (or a group) is made the Other, they lose something, a part of their humanity, the right to basic dignity and respect simply for being another living, breathing creature, entitled to the same freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of choice that I expect as my rights, not just my civil rights, but my human rights. For being part of a larger community.

The other realisation I had is that this is why I feel social media can be so toxic -- why I think our 24/7 linked in hooked up wired global platform isn't necessarily a good thing. Or at least, a thing that isn't inherently good or bad, but is more often used for the latter than the former. We have 'unfollow,' 'unfriend,' 'block,' options for anyone whose opinion we don't want to hear. It is a feature I availed myself of greatly when I still engaged on Facebook. The sort of rants the president gives are equal in their tactical offensive as many of the political pages that are only ever used to make mischief and start arguments. Minds are not changed, dialogue doesn't exist, there is no coming together. There is no community. There are just vast echo chambers where we can surround ourselves with the yes-men of our choosing, constantly finding validation amongst a homogeneous group (homogeneous based on whatever common thread created the group in the first place), and not ever actually challenging ourselves as humans to the betterment of our kind, locally OR globally.

This isn't to say that every single interaction on social media is essentially philosophical masturbation; just that the majority is and it's difficult to discern the valuable from the worthless. I have seen civil conversations (rarely, but it has happened) and perhaps minds have changed. But the minds that are changed are the ones who are open to hearing other ideas. And that usually is because they're already connected to Others in some way (even if it's once- or twice-removed). Human connexion is what we are missing. Looking someone in the eye, sharing physical space with them, acknowledging the commonality, the shared fragility, the need to come together rather than to be right about everything all the time.

Screaming at the top of my lungs, insisting that I am always in the right, tearing someone down to make a point... none of these are effective tactics to change minds or hearts. An offensive is met with a defensive response. Even if a person can see the logic behind the attack, the emotional element is very much a part of the equation, and emotions override reason more often than the other way around. Humiliating someone is not the way to change a mind. If anything it will only serve to galvanise the Other in opposition, and that way lies violence, the most irrational, emotional reaction of all.

28 July 2016

Should I Then Presume?

I cannot fight this battle alone, but the other soldiers have left the field. They have gone to fight other battles -- and not unimportant ones, because the downtrodden are always worth championing, and the cause will always be a siren song for those who seek justice and peace.

My own battle is for my heart and my mind. But my heart and my mind ache and bleed for others’. I want to cry and scream and make myself be seen as me -- only as myself, unique. But I want to hide, to bury myself in a cause, to bring others to the light, to save souls, and let the glory fall where it may.

I need comfort, but I want to give more than I take; my reserves are run dry, and I have nothing to offer the world. My perspective is skewed and my wit is dulled. My mind wanders and my heart wants too much. What have I to offer those who look to me for anything at all?

Nothingness. Both terror and solace, heaven and hell. To be one with the void -- but I fear the void. To rest, in dreamlessness, forever. But I fear to lose myself, the root of all that is me. Not my mind (that comes and goes) and not my heart (it beats too wildly for that which it cannot have), but something else, larger than the sum of parts, greater than a cohesive whole, without which, I will simply cease.

The cessation of the self, given up without a struggle, is both idyll and idle, something to contemplate, but not to achieve. I cannot enter that space which is nonspace, for I know that I cling too much to my corporeal, fragile existence.

Not to suggest violence, but simply letting myself go, dissolving and becoming part of a greater mystery.

And how should I begin?

25 July 2016

sum of the whole

I am afraid. I am tired.
(be bold, child.)
I am hurting. I am sad.
(heal. hope.)
I am broken. I am angry.
(be whole.)
I am aimless. I am restless.
(learn to be determined.)
I am timid. I am weak.
(time to be fierce.)
I am cold. I am drab.
(let the fire burn.)
I am mad. I am lost.
(find imagination.)

(let go of the weight of the world.)


Once upon a time, there was a jumping spider named Parallax.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman named Paraselene.

Once upon a time, there was an antique watch that never kept time right.

Once upon a time, there was a dog with white stripes on its tail.

Once upon a time, there was a cat with a secret name.

Once upon a time, there were stars in the sky.

Once upon a time, the oceans rose up and drowned a city.

Once upon a time, there was a ship with red sails and a silent crew.

Once upon a time, there was a river that ran through a haunted wood.

Once upon a time, rain fell on a cloudless day.

Once upon a time, the gargoyles spoke.

Once upon a time, the churchyard lay empty.

Once upon a time, there was a child without a name.

Once upon a time, there was a mystery...

14 July 2016

Why wish upon a star...

My lucky stars were all long dead
before ever I saw their light--
yet I prayed most every night
to those ghosts of flame.
What good can come of worshipping
gods who passed this world by
and departed before the mind formed,
before my eyes opened
and saw the expanse of sky?
There is naught left but the sundry
corporeal world, the toil and moil
of simply being that is this mortal coil,
the well of the soul long run dry.
My praying lips are parched
from too often drinking moonlight.

13 July 2016

I need a bigger box

I need a bigger box
for all the things I feel
all the time that crowd me,
hem me in, and indeed overwhelm.

I need a bigger box
to put away all the pains
that creep in on me
and rest upon my shoulders,
that curl up in my lap,
that drape themselves
around me like a shroud.

I need a bigger box
to fit all the miles of road
I have already put behind me,
and one for all the miles of road
I have still ahead.

I need a bigger box because
my current compartmentalisation
system is simply insufficient.

21 June 2016

My Valley of Unrest

How long has it been
since I left this place?
How many secrets have
come to rest here
since last my feet trod
this path,
how many more ways
of saying ‘no’ have
fallen from my lips?

I used to fear this place,
the place of denial,
the place of 'without.'
It hemmed me in,
when all around,
just out of reach,
was a lush and fertile plain
that stretched out to Beyond.

I said ‘yes’ here once,
and it almost unmade me.
How then can I say ‘yes’ again,
knowing, as I do, what
that one word can cost?

20 June 2016

puzzling pieces

Sometimes I wish I could take every feeling
and put them into an old-fashioned hat box
with a slot in the lid just wide enough to slip
them in. Then I could open the box and take
each feeling out, quietly, thoughtfully, one at
a time; examine its worth, assess its meaning,
ponder its implications, and figure exactly
where it fits in the jigsaw puzzle of my heart.

17 June 2016

Thank You

How do I thank someone
for doing something that
others find distasteful?
Or disrespectful? Monstrous,
even, in some ways? How do
I thank someone for finding
a boundary in my heart
(my body, my mind)
and pushing his hardest
against it, despite knowing
it could all end in disaster?
(It did not; there was rapture
and begging for more.)
How do I thank someone
for finding beauty in a part
of me that I always found
shameful or embarrassing?
How do I thank someone
for unlocking my heart
in a way I didn’t know
I needed until it cracked
wide open? How do I thank
someone for all these things,
when he himself rejected
everything we did together?
How do I tell him that I am alright?
More than alright--I am finally free.
How can he believe me when
all he sees is brokenness
and misery and dysfunction,
when what is really there
is openness and joy and synergy?
There is always give and take,
on every side of this equation,
and nothing would have happened
if consent had not been freely
(enthusiastically, joyfully) given.
So how do I say thank you, Sir,
when last we spoke,
you disavowed the heart
in you I loved so much?