You Wonder A Woman Who Doesn't Seem Quite Like by Me, Lyn Lifshin
but when I tell you that girl had long hair, I know you might imagine listen it was in those woods out there, the girl a little crazy. He was stoned on fear, knew that she’d leave him and made love to her violently she bled It was a Thursday afternoon, the leaves kept dripping
if I tell you how bruised she got you’ll probably think she’s me but go out into the trees, the tracks stop mid-valley
“There are no digital natives but the devices themselves; no digital immigrants but the devices too. They are a diaspora, tentatively reaching out into the world to understand it and themselves, and across the network to find and touch one another. This mapping is a byproduct, part of the process by which any of us, separate and indistinct so long, find a place in the world.”—James Brindle, Where the F**k Was I? (A Book) | booktwo.org via (Pakistanically Yours.: Where the f**k was I? (A Book))
We all think about suddenly disappearing. The train tracks lead there, into the woods. Even in the financial district: wooden doors in alleyways. First I want to put something small into your hand, a button or river stone or key I don’t know to what. I don’t have that house anymore across from the graveyard and its black angel. What counts as a proper goodbye? My last winter in Iowa there was always a ladybug or two in the kitchen for cheer even when it was ten below. We all feel suspended over a drop into nothingness. Once you get close enough, you see what one is stitching is a human heart. Another is vomiting wings. Hell, even now I love life. Whenever you put your feet on the floor in the morning, whatever the nightmare, it’s a miracle or fantastic illusion: the solidity of the boards, the steadiness coming into the legs. Where did we get the idea when we were kids to rub dirt into the wound or was that just in Pennsylvania? Maybe poems are made of breath, the way water, cajoled to boil, says, This is my soul, freed.
For three days I have seen sun and rain and now snow falling but it has slowed to a blunder almost, a blight. Winter. January 8th. I try to give the season credit for its importance as one part of the cycle, thinking pain is life, thinking pain is only weakness leaving the body, thinking the cold is that which gives meaning to warmth, our bodies finally finding each other in the morning after a long night rolling one way and then the other on either side of the bed. To divide and conquer. The division is really all that’s needed you see the other is just aftermath just war just silence just misunderstanding and today I fear there is too much of this in the world I fear that we’re not getting it right as people. I am not a dreamer like I used to be. I don’t know if I believe in great things anymore but that doesn’t mean great things can’t happen. When it was April 7:30 and the sun was just going down and the streetlights were coming on and the children were out in the streets the neighbors with their dog, slapping at his mouth while he barked, the two of us on the porch drinking something on ice I don’t remember but I remember the cold of it going down I remember asking St. Francis for the birds just a little bit longer. These days it is more St. Anthony I call upon saying I think I have lost my soul I think I have lost what I want to say, saying Tony, Tony, Tony, please come around. The trees are so stark against the sky today I feel a bit like I am living in a picture which is to say I feel surreal and held in one place and held tenderly by the hand of someone I once knew, folded and tucked away by someone else, placed in one of those boxes we all have where we put the things we cannot let go of, the things we want to keep but not see, nor need to, and I think the heart is like that sometimes that it holds distantly to what it might as well just let go. I tell myself a thousand stories about myself. I tell myself You are a good man, you are a bad man, you are wasting your life, you are doing something right. From one day to the next I am in love with myself or I am looking at myself disgusted and tired of all the bullshit I repeat to one person after another I meet on the streets or at family gatherings, all the same things I have said over and over and over when wanting only to say I really don’t want to talk or I really don’t even like you or You are my family, my friend, why are we speaking to each other like we haven’t known each other our whole lives, like we weren’t there in that world of childhood together, like we didn’t talk about girls or our lives in the future or the big goddamn possibility of everything we might be there is too little of that these days too little of you saying to me I want more, I am not myself, of me saying to you I just want you to not talk about the weather or the next president or all the children even though I love the children we spend so much time outside their world just looking in, the brothers and sisters and friends and cousins, thinking Once life was that simple, once we smiled, once we cried, once we ran through the house naked with no thoughts of the windows or other humans no thoughts of the real estate market except the large expanse of a room as it stretched out in front, thinking I bet by god I can run all the way to the other side. Now we run away, or rather we do not run but we turn from each other very politely, we spend a long time at doors and sometimes I have the urge to say something very important to someone, sometimes it is right on my tongue and I feel like I could make their life better just by uttering a few words because people have done this thing for me and I want to give it back and I can sometimes see them wanting to give it back but we do not give it back, only a hug which is the closest we can get or care to get or know how anymore. We are real people. All grown up now. And I remember going back to my hometown and running into some older woman who knew me as a child, who I couldn’t remember if I wanted to (and I do), who sees only the child in me held in a six-foot body, sees not my mistakes, my faults, the ins and outs of thirty years of making people proud and upsetting people, winning awards and wrecking cars and doing drugs or staying sober they see none of that, only the child as man, that mannish boy and we have nothing at all to say to each other so they just stand back and smile, and hug me as if I was something tender enough to break, small enough not to notice, unless looking very hard, very hard as I have grown older now to become. And I think sometimes I am too much of a man being man. I am too much jealousy, too much indifference, too much paranoia as it comes on, too much guilt. I drag the guilt around like a dead shadow, a heavy shadow, and sometimes I don’t even know what I feel guilty for, only that it seems I should, that it is my destiny. Day to day I am happy or hurting or both and not knowing how not to be, not knowing how to be everything I want to be for you, everything I feel like I can be, everything I feel like we can all be for each other, goddamnit I’m dreaming again, it seems again I am a dreamer, but I don’t care today, I don’t even care about knowing how my caring comes to me, how I care so much, how I do. Winter. I’m taking it for what it is. The longest season, it seems. The darkest. The hardest and by some accounts that makes it worth the most in the end, worth every bit of blossoming I can stand.
Looking forward to Ten’s new show “Can of Worms” which will posit such moral conundrums as: “Is it wrong to dress like Hitler for a fancy dress party?”; “Is it wrong to dress like Hitler while selecting and purchasing mixed lollies?”; “Is it wrong to dress like Hitler when attending a meeting of the local Dress Like Hitler Club?”; “Is it wrong to dress like Hitler when you have invented a time machine and traveled back in time to assassinate Hitler?”; “Is it wrong to dress like Hitler or is Nazi regalia *so* 1933?”; “Is it wrong to dress like Hitler while doing the ironing?”; and, “Is it wrong to dress like Hitler while commenting on national television about whether it is wrong to dress like Hitler?”
“There are loads of people I know who have been killed. How many are going to be left? It’s heartbreaking. When I’m told how many people have been killed in my village, I find it impossible to absorb and when I talk about it, it hurts. It goes straight to my heart and makes me cry. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to go back to the village. If we go back there I will see strange things and I will feel tormented. There will be places where they killed people. And when somebody has been killed somewhere, no matter how much rain falls down, the blood of that person stays where it is, as if you had just poured gasoline.”—
May I never be afraid especially of myself but Muhammed Ali are you telling the truth? Well you’re being true aren’t you and you talk so wonderfully in your body that protects you with physique of voice raps within dance May I never be afraid
rocked and quaked the mantilla is lace whose black is oak But if I’m dark I’m strong as my own darkness my strength the universe whose blackness is air only starry lace But if I’m alive I’m strong as life Strong as the violets in Marlon Brando’s fist his dissemblance flourished into truth She took them I’d take me too I do and my Ali I see you a hard bright speck of me the savage formalist authentic deed of gossip a kind body
when you have forgotten Sunday: the love story, Gwendolyn Brooks
—And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday, And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday— When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed, Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon Looking off down the long street To nowhere, Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation And nothing-I-have-to-do and I’m-happy-why? And if-Monday-never-had-to-come— When you have forgotten that, I say, And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell, And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang; And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner, That is to say, went across the front room floor to the ink-spotted table in the southwest corner To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles Or chicken and rice And salad and rye bread and tea And chocolate chip cookies— I say, when you have forgotten that, When you have forgotten my little presentiment That the war would be over before they got to you; And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed into bed, And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end Bright bedclothes, Then gently folded into each other— When you have, I say, forgotten all that, Then you may tell, Then I may believe You have forgotten me well.
In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls, I walk from one epoch to another without a memory to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing the history of the holy … ascending to heaven and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love and peace are holy and are coming to town. I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone? Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up? I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me. All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly then I become another. Transfigured. Words sprout like grass from Isaiah’s messenger mouth: “If you don’t believe you won’t be safe.” I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white biblical rose. And my hands like two doves on the cross hovering and carrying the earth. I don’t walk, I fly, I become another, transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I? I am no I in ascension’s presence. But I think to myself: Alone, the prophet Muhammad spoke classical Arabic. “And then what?” Then what? A woman soldier shouted: Is that you again? Didn’t I kill you? I said: You killed me … and I forgot, like you, to die.
You are like a leaky row boat pretending to be a raincoat. I am straight-forward: self-confessedly undependable because my right arm overrules my left, just like my brain. Life within a fortress within a life in an arc of motion, oh Russian doll. How to be the years we have? I’m thinking of love. I’m planning to make up the truth: this end-stage sunset, that baby landscape. I’m thinking of laying down slabs of stone across the lawn, big feet of heaven, whole kingdoms. Feng Shui my way: a cadre of rubber alligators protect my door. It’s not as though we can pick up every shell on the beach, but there’s often something nesting in the nest of the bird in the hand. One day I just stepped out of the boat. Relief like a flood I tell you.
Flood, According to Him
You don’t understand limits. Visiting cities with high water marks, you marvel and
flounce on, not a minute’s stillness to absorb all that’s been swamped, what it’s like
to be assailed. You’re playing solitaire. I’m dreaming backlit backgammon, bigger
back yard — and you’re the goddamned wave. You try to avoid my mouth. You fill it.
I want to die with Keats in my pocket along with a jar of honey, a piece of your underwear (the one with the bow), some of Magritte’s nightblue sky, a coin for the Ferryman poling the river, And enough smooth stones to weigh me down, Proof against the promise of my ascent.
I signed a treaty with Adam and I took back my rib. When we were back in the garden I buried my white bone in the earth, pointing towards him. I have stopped eating ash but tasting apples. My son walked around a sundial anti-clockwise to undo the murder of his brother. Forgiveness is a wound almost closed. The blood smeared nipples I breastfed the babies with were the state of not forgetting. When they were crying I whispered to them that one day they would be a shadow falling across the earth, and I would still be hungry.