“Here my dead father knocks on a little paper door. Here my family murdered in the Holocaust knocks and waits. Poetry lets them in. And dreams let them in. If my poems seem surreal I suspect it is because dreams have taught me not to look away, but to look and look again, to become porous, permeable. Both poetry and dreams teach me to be receptive to the disorder of the world and to be generative in the midst of joy, destruction, and pain. Grief made into art.”—Hadara Bar-Nadav (via ahuntersheart)
“Once I dreamed I was on a gorgeous ocean liner, all pale, gilded, cupid-encrusted, rococo as a wedding cake. There was smoke in the air, people were drinking and gambling. I knew the ship was on fire and we were sinking, slowly. They knew it too but they were very gay, dancing and singing and kissing, a little delirious. There was no hope. I was terribly elated. I could photograph anything I wanted to.”—Diane Arbus on the elation of abandoning hope (via claytoncubitt)
“If the level of intensity of anybody’s disorder is sufficiently high, you can’t move. For people who’ve experienced clinical depression the problem is getting to the next moment. The room tilts, you lose your balance, you’re incapable of coherent thought.
It’s a popular notion that it is exclusively suffering that produces good work, or insightful work, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think in a certain sense it’s a trigger or a lever, but I think that good work is produced in spite of suffering. As a victory over suffering.”—Leonard Cohen on depression and art (via claytoncubitt)
My orgasms are watery, thin and forgettable, diluted. There’s a ridge of anger running under everything, a live wire, a mountain range of rage. The photographer sent me an email about his coke addiction, about his “infatuation” with me. “Trying to figure out right and not wrong,” he wrote. Who bothers with that anymore? I couldn’t reply. I hung my torso over the edge of the bed. I went down on the floor. The dream told me how much I hate being paid to swallow someone’s lies. I learnt of my own absence during sex, saw the zero that sex has become, like I’m a serf fucking to build a monarch’s empty empire, bending my body over a foreign agenda. (“No one is mean to me,” I often think. “No one treats me badly.” I shouldn’t assume permission to speak like this.) Planes become almost safe spaces. They are a pause. My hotel rooms are only inhabited after dark. I play the TV to feel like part of the world. I sleep with my cheek packed with cotton to ease the ache in my mouth.
“Body, bundle, country of twigs. Your nine gates opening, closing, spittle wet. A miracle you existed at all. Fontanel, fallible. Your soul shaking inside. When you died, Leaves unhooked themselves from Trees. I watched them go like little mouths, dried and paper-flat, without music. Ticker tape in shades of blood-orange, rust. And the wind did gently lay you down. I waited. I watched.”—Hadara Bar-Nadav “ How Soft This Prison is” (Titles and italics from Emily Dickinson)
you’re gonna spend the rest of your life going after pretty girls who don’t actually laugh, girls who just open their pretty eyes real wide and say things like ‘wow, you’re really hilarious’.
it’ll be like a kick in the throat when you try to feed her fruit and she asks ‘are your hands clean babe?’ in that moment you’ll remember me, my name will weigh down your tongue and you’ll excuse yourself to go to the bathroom but you won’t wash your hands.
that night, she will eat from your soiled fingers and you will plough through her roughly, she’ll tell you to ‘slow down’ and you won’t hear her. you will never be the same.
Once I was home, Dad told me: You have the blood of 100,000 innocent Iraqis on your hands. This was confusing because when I was twenty-one and flying into Harare, he said that it would be better to join the army. But I didn’t, and I didn’t understand the change of heart, Dad’s slip between “we’re-all-in-this-together” and “you’re-here-on-your-own.” That evening I saw a snake contorting itself around itself over and over. Quickly, I warned my neighbor, but she said she had already seen it. It had been poisoned in her garage, and she had tossed it over the fence into our yard. I wanted to ask why she didn’t lie when she had the chance, it would have been easy enough, the right thing to do, better than pretending the snake wasn’t a living thing dying in front of me, better than admitting she had chosen our yard for that. But I didn’t ask her, I just nodded and steered the mower in a wider perimeter around the snake’s seizing body.
“The grief over not only not being a mother, but now also suffering from feeling ‘less than’ because I just simply hadn’t found love (or mutual love), was at times overwhelming. And as I saw couples younger than I getting sympathy for their biological infertility, I wondered why all I got were accusations of not doing enough, not trying hard enough. Trying too hard. Being too picky. Not being picky enough… And the hardest comment to defend: “You better hurry up!” (Hurry up and fall in love?)
While I have not suffered from biological infertility (as far as I know), I imagined my grief was at least as deep as couples trying to conceive as I didn’t have a love who shared the grief. Heck, I often didn’t even have a date to get closer to trying! Every month that passed, I grieved a loss. But I grieved alone. I have no husband (or male partner) to grieve with me. And lamenting my infertility to close friends who are parents or to family was never well-received.”—
What do I do with my biological clock? I want to rip it out of me with a coat hanger and drown it in a river.
I feel like I have no strength left to grieve another day for the absence of what I don’t have - love and a baby. I’m only 28, and if I cry every day over this now, how much worse is it going to get, the older I get? This year I have learnt it is possible to be heartbroken, even though no one has broken your heart.
My biological clock means I wake up every day and feel like I’m going to a funeral. Probably my own funeral.
like hats in a high wind, though there was no wind and the border lay only a mile or two ahead. Cross it and be free, we thought, holding each other a last time before dashing out, heedless of patrols scouring the hills for we who were hated, we who believed. And because of our belief, perhaps, the bees
were soft and stingless all through that day, warming us, whispering of secret ways, humming a tune we followed
like a path. And later, what a night it was! Loving in a roofless ruin, starlight falling over us like music we had never heard, like joy’s lanterns, diamond bees spending themselves as we were spent, lighting up the dark hives over which we knew God bent as though happy or blind.
The camera, slumberless, cannot shut out its visions. Even resting in your palm, lens cap on, it beholds the numb black. Without you, it forgets—all oblivion. You are the mnemonic, the trick of recall. The body is a dark hallway the mind winds through. A door briefly blinks, and the film, enlightened, moves on in darkness. I notice the invisible worries you. You want to pop the body open, study flesh as ghost. See, you can’t. The darkness carries without gestation. What you saw stays what you saw, and, like any dream, is damaged by brilliant awakening.
When I was a stupid and far from sober teenager, I heated up the head of a fork with a lighter and branded the top of my thigh with it. I can’t believe it’s taken me over a decade to mentally link that scar and my thighs to the phrase “a fork in the road”. Bemused at myself.
Coiled spring, analogous tension & pressure, pre-enormous neighborhood, cauldron of nuclear power: we were drinking gin & tonics from the planet’s jaw when the news came. Roses are red, violets are blue jeans; cupcakes are cop-food, death is a dinosaur (extinct & et cetera) whispering the future is an old friend shouting “don’t be afraid.” Dear degeneracy, dearer street map of Texas, dearest thrust-to-rocket ratio from which God puts cock to abyss: Modernity, my fucker, is the natural language of structure. Our goodwill gets complicated when we break Hell in unsimple shapes. Fourth of July, fifth of July, sixth of stellar lighthouses surrounding space, seventh: one is always coming upon some American city whispering I am some American city & I am the desire to be within it when the sun fries. We dance under the asterisks, dip our toes in the ink. The odds the stars will write our sentence remain incredibly low.
“I laughed and grabbed his head as I had done God knows how many times before, when I was playing with him or when he had annoyed me. But this time when I touched him something happened in him and in me which made this touch different from any touch either of us had ever known. And he did not resist, as he usually did, but lay where I had pulled him, against my chest. And I realized that my heart was beating in an awful way and Joey was trembling against me and the light in the room was very bright and hot. I started to move and to make some kind of joke but Joey mumbled something and I put my head down to hear. Joey raised his head as I lowered mine and we kissed, as it were, by accident. Then, for the first time in my life, I was really aware of another person’s body, of another person’s smell. We had our arms around each other. It was like holding in my hand some rare, exhausted, nearly doomed bird which I had miraculously happened to find. I was very frightened, I am sure he was frightened too, and we shut our eyes. To remember it so clearly, so painfully tonight tells me that I have never truly forgotten it. I feel in myself now a faint, dreadful stirring of what so overwhelmingly stirred in me then, great thirsty heat, and trembling, and tenderness so painful I thought my heart would burst. But out of this astounding, intolerable pain came joy, we gave each other joy that night. It seemed, then, that a lifetime would not be long enough for me to act with Joey the act of love.”—Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (pp.10-11) [emphasis mine]
“When you read a good practitioner of any form of writing you are also provided a lesson in the practice of the art itself. Here’s what you learn from Manan Ahmed about blogging: Blogs should be short in order to be true to their medium; bound to the everyday, they should appear like fresh blood on the bandage.”—Amitava Kumar in the foreward he wrote for Manan Ahmed’s book Where the Wild Frontiers Are - Pakistan and the American Imagination. Amitava Kumar interviews Manan Ahmed On Academic Blogging.
That child was dangerous. That just-born Newly washed and silent baby Wrapped in deerskin and held warm Against the side of its mother could understand The language of birds and animals Even when asleep. It knew why Bluejay Was scolding the bushes, what Hawk was explaining To the wind on the cliffside, what Bittern had found out While standing alone in marsh grass. It knew What the screams of Fox and the whistling of Otter Were telling the forest. That child knew The language of Fire As it gnawed at sticks like Beaver And what Water said all day and all night At the creek’s mouth. As its small fingers Closed around Stone, it held what Stone was saying. It knew what Bear Mother whispered to herself Under the snow. It could not tell Anyone what it knew. It would laugh Or cry out or startle or suddenly stare At nothing, but had no way To repeat what it was hearing, what it wanted most Not to remember. It had no way to know Why it would fall under a spell And lie still as if not breathing, Having grown afraid Of what it could understand. That child would learn To sit and crawl and stand and begin Putting one foot forward and following it With the other, would learn to put one word It could barely remember slightly ahead Of the other and then walk and speak And finally run and chatter, And all the Tillamook would know that child Had forgotten everything and at last could listen Only to people and was safe now.
Back when I used to be Indian I am standing outside the pool hall with my sister. She strawberry blonde. Stale sweat and beer through the open door. A warrior leans on his stick, fingers blue with chalk. Another bends to shoot. His braids brush the green felt, swinging to the beat of the jukebox. We move away. Hank Williams falls again in the backseat of a Cadillac. I look back. A wind off the distant hills lifts my shirt, brings the scent of wounded horses.