a la recherche du temps perdu

Month: January, 2015

The Claiming Moon

Some decade ago when my body was still lithe nubile elastic and gravity and I were as yet unacquainted I remember quarreling with you in a carpark under a waxing moon that the Celts called the moon of claiming while sounds of drums and bass and the neurotic scratching of records poured out of open windows because it was a sweltering summer not only because it was ours          You had been displaying me as if I were a new dog on a leash whose length had not yet been measured because we were still strangers despite the fact that I let you cum inside me we were testing the other’s boundaries seeing which I I was when I was with you and vice versa but I was no prize so I took my words out onto the broiling tarmac and started to rip plump pages to pieces one by one until you grabbed my hand and said “Do you know how much I love you?” leaving marks on my wrists like a vise that went unexplained but not unquestioned for days          The growing moon was just behind your right ear throwing your face into a fanciful chiaroscuro as if you were a demented god and the small putrid pond that ran near the block of flats was not quiet like the heat but tongued and lolled in strange waves hooked to a machine a sound so ancient that not even the riot we had left indoors could drown its ripple out           I stopped not because of what you said or how you bruised me out of love or out of some drive to save words you had never once laid eyes on but because I had to retort with something respond in kind I could only tell you how I had been unfaithful but that I did not remember his name and how ever since I had been on antibiotics and that you too should probably take a course just to be cautious all the while shredding the poems as your hand left mine free throwing them into the barely visible pond where the moonlight caught them before they slowly sopped then drowned          When we returned to the party I let you take one of my hands just where you had welted it and kiss me possessively on the lips in front of everyone who was gathered around the music hanging onto my arm like I was a trophy or a crutch or else as if you might teeter forward or backward like you were floored somehow without my weight added to your own and the smiles and upraised eyebrows that greeted us seemed to agree with our absence thinking we had gone outside on our own to fuck rather than to put fucking between us on the table like an unsheathed weapon          In the morning there were empty bottles and ashtrays overflowing onto the threadbare carpet and urine on the floor in the bathroom and blood on the sheets where you had finally silenced me when the words had gone     I went along with you to the doctor’s office and the pharmacy to pick up a round of azithromycin and we never once spoke about the man I mentioned by the hungry water that night the moon somehow made me realize I didn’t want you anymore but that if you wanted me I must at least dethrone you quick wield the power in some way make you feel as small as the half-sized words I’d written and which on some crepuscular morning after when your snoring had kept me awake all through the night I finally found collected at the sides of the pond alongside dead gulls as if they would not die so easily at least not yet           And so I still write those words on occasion when I can call you to mind without anger or without a sense of having lost a limb as if I were a sequoia or a whole body thinking through words I write and then just as quickly erase how I made you powerless because I myself was lame crippled confused about the rhythms of how we came together in a way I have yet to uncover          I never woke you in all of the years we slept side by side not even when the words were words you wanted to hear for by that time we could speak only in notes left on a dry-erase board on the refrigerator or else in glances furtive like thieves conspiring to feign a love that should have perished a decade before when the moon made you look like a shattered god whom I could never worship and that dawn I recall with trepidation when leaving you lying in death throes as I skimmed the edges of the water somehow all my words were returned to me intact like a warning or a revelation I have yet to decide which

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Resolutions; Notes to Self

– Weep more; cry less.

– When M. moved back to the city from Dubai, she bragged that she could fit her entire life into one tattered suitcase; you gawked, you disbelieved, you were envious, you felt liberated by the thought of not being burdened and burdened by the thought of being liberated. As you stepped over the toilet that was in the middle of her kitchenette to relocate to the bed—oh, the prices one pays to rent cheaply smack in the middle of Chelsea; “At least it has a curtain around it”—you did indeed realize how barren the walls were, one cupboard with only one or two chipped tea cups, no photographs, nothing extraneous, nothing that spoke of who lived there whatsoever, and, most panic-inducing, the utter lack of books. You recalled shipping suitcases of books across an ocean, paying exorbitant fees so as not to part with marginal notes, underlinings, tomes that saw you through the dark winters and bludgeonings and the nights measured in years or years measured in nights when you couldn’t sleep after he fucked you yawningly, finishing yourself off with Proust, a snoring husk, spent and stupid, beside you. Annica. “How could I live without my books?” “The hard part is getting rid of everything, realizing that you are not your possessions; but once you do, you never miss anything—you wonder instead how you ever managed to breathe with so many senseless things cluttering your flat, your space, your life.” To live like that: weightless, unencumbered, books in your head, having finally shed all your impermanent skins.

– Strether’s speech to Bilham: make it your manifesto, as he never could.

– N. has become an unexpected model of sorts, quickly and perhaps dangerously so but that is the ripest sort of creative fuel: this will evolve into something; chew on it like a kratom leaf for it will manifest, it will bloom if you trust that it will. There is something singular in N.’s vision, in his way of overlapping strands of memory, observation, nontraditional reportage, a subjective aesthetics, and cross-cultural episodes and intrigues—something to be tried on like veils, experimented with like leather. Contact N. for an interview: pluck his fertile mind to shreds with the most incisive questions you can formulate to get at his source.

– Something about Gauguin; something about magic.

– Memory is not to be relied upon; it is a tricky kind of ghost. When in the middle of the night inspiration strikes; when in an inebriated moment the title for your next book arrives unbidden; when you leave a man’s flat after the most disappointing sex of your life, instead of trying to remember his name, remember the words that came to you when he turned the lights out—remember the splash of red on the opaque walls, the squeal of the city in the background like an automaton whose presence refuses to be ignored, some hum that seeps into everything that you set to paper. If a sonnet begins to unspiral in your mind while on the F train, don’t brush it aside and think that it will strike again: the muses are never kind, nor are they fair. Stick to your notebook like a fly to tarpaper; delve into things; look up “catgut”; never arrive empty-handed but always holding some spot of entrails, some bag of bones.

– Enough with the masks already; enough with the panic.

– Something about Bartók’s sixth string symphony.

– Return to W— Castle where on a foggy day while your lover moped around in the refurbished dungeon to inspect the oubliettes you glanced out over ramparts and saw the world so distractedly and with so little color that you stuffed the only draft of your novel between the bricks and stones for the birds to find and ravage and pick apart like the carrion you thought you were—see if this can be done in either reality or in fantasy. How did the words taste to the crow who ate your I’s and your O’s? What sort of raven did you keep stolid and robust through at least one crass winter?

– Quite simply: let people journey to the bloody dungeons, if they so desire.

– Christen new spaces in ritualistic ways, with or without sage: do not reread; do not rethink. There will be brain matter spattered all over the place; there will be typos; there will be memories that come unwelcome—hold to them. Refuse to run. Sit; just fucking sit with it. (Zazen, again. Again.) There will be something in this, somewhere, if not now then in a future when you look back: that “I” you are some decades hence regretting a lost manuscript, a buried lover, a recalcitrant soothsayer. You have fled enough already, but from what you cannot say until you meet it, head on, like a battle scene straight out of the Iliad.

– Burn no more pages; shred no more words. If you hold on to anything, hold on to those—surely a suitcase could carry a lifetime’s outpouring of syllables in rhyme or otherwise. Keep writing the novel you have been writing for the last seven years—but shift it from your mind to the page, please, please.

– Open your eyes. Above all, above your fucking eyes.