Curiously Colorito

By Anthony Ivar Colorito

Category: poetry (page 1 of 6)

“The intensity of my sensations has always been less than the intensity of my awareness of them. I’ve always suffered more from my consciousness that I was suffering than from the suffering of which I am conscious.”

 “The life of my emotions moved early on to the chambers of thought, and that’s where I’ve most fully lived my emotional experiences of life.”

 “And since thought, when it shelters emotion, is more demanding than emotion by itself, the regime of consciousness in which I began to live what I felt made how I felt more down-to-earth, more physical, more demanding.”

 Fernando Pessoa

“The Book of Disquiet”

 

I was telling Massimo about all the times she broke up with me, yes times, plural, with an “s,” but he didn’t give a shit, just told me to suck it up.

 

“Forget about her, she’s not worth it. She’s not who you thought she was.”

 

Who is ever really the person one believes them to be? I thought, especially when you are in love with an idea, a fantasy. Believing another will somehow conform to a pre-established set of qualities I have created in a delusion of who I think they are remains a purely selfish act without rival.

This interchange with Massy was the standard, macho, dude-to-dude therapeutic identification with about as much validation as I could expect.

 

“Go find another chick and bang her.” He continued.

That’s the cure. Just land another one, especially with a big ass. They’re all over the place. It’s a medically proven fact.”

 

I locked eyes with Massy and was silent, holding back a grin and fighting the urge to participate in this.

Here was another one straight form Massimo’s famous textbook: “How to remain unconscious during and after every relationship with a woman and not lose an ounce of mojo.”

For him my experience was a textbook case, another scientific case study in how to cope with the bizarre and unpredictable behavior of women.

Fact was, I couldn’t listen to any of this and I don’t know why I engaged him. That’s false, I actually do know why; in the midst of his flat-out invulnerable sensibilities and ninja compartmentalization skills, I was able to glimpse my soul.

 

So I went about doing some soul-searching.

“Tell me about all the times she broke-up with you.” I asked myself this time.

 

Maybe if I established some distance from that part of me that fell in love and weathered the storm, I could gain some insight. I needed a better vantage point. The emotions I was feeling came up formless and amorphous with milky flickers of light the source of which I could not locate.

I needed to ask myself questions, get some answers, be transparent, move the veil aside, open the lid and feel around deeper under my usual motivations. I had to play differently with that searchlight and train on my insides, maybe find and expose the feminine part of myself I willingly handed over to her. I had to stop wavering and meandering in a lost field. Awareness is one thing but hearing it all at once is another.

Who is that psychiatrist? He wrote about the archetypes, broke with Freud because he was too spiritual? Carl Jung. I read in his books that falling in love for a man means unconsciously giving the female part of his soul to a woman and, to boot, you don’t even realize you are doing it. It’s all unconscious, genius. And it all happens, hook-in, line and sinker, the whole deal before you can blink. Who is this woman living inside me? I’ve never met her. At least she could show some compassion and introduce herself instead of fleeing the scene, embroiling me in a passionate love affair that I gave my all to only to have it mysteriously end and leave me in a quarry hammering rocks.

The first time I heard this I’m thinking, wow, that gives a lot of guys a pass, gets them a scientifically valid justification for infidelity. Massimo is taking that one to the bank. I’m sure wives weren’t too keen on CJ back in his day.

When I really think (here I go again thinking instead of feeling), you know, take the lid off my damn ego and rummage around below it somewhere, I find there was something mysteriously magnetic, and intrusively compelling, a vector-specific drive I could not control, forcing my hand, pushing me hard, operating deep in my gut, way down in those hollow visceral chambers. Or was it my heart? I don’t know how to tell where it’s coming from but one thing I’m clear as day on: my will could not stop the desire and it was not coming from rational thought.

What a heavy trip and after all this bliss and monumental misery in the space of days, I have to say I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.

I started thinking of love as a jam I get myself into. It’s like finding beauty in nature and searching for myself and another at the same time, following a siren-call towards mating bald eagles in the distance and mysterious sunsets and shimmering streams sensually caressing against fluorescent rock formations and right when I’m immersed in the whole spiritual tranquility of the thing I’m lost and can’t find my way back. The path disappears, the scene changes at dusk to an ominous fairy tale where hidden creatures lurk.

So I started doing an autopsy of the relationship and made sure I didn’t go too far back. I don’t mind dissecting, in fact, I love it and that’s not just a metaphor. I’ve covered a lot of ground over the years dissecting every square millimeter of several cadavers and I’m grateful and honored to have been able to do that. What I’m talking about is different, though, and I’m kind of nervous and insecure about it, because my dissection takes the form of intellectually tearing apart emotions so they are not what they seem. When it’s all opened up and I peer into feelings a point emerges where I can’t even recognize them as feelings, and I wonder if they’re even coming from me or from someone else.

There were a few clues along the way, artifacts animated, vestiges and pathognomonic signs fingerprinted on the glass that grew into flares of realization. These kept coming back to life. The carousel revolved around a center post of love while feelings jumped on and off the ride. Christ, why did I put up with that? I don’t have that many lives left and right now the smell of formaldehyde is getting to me.

So I went back to the one I remembered best.

Taking into account my proclivities towards distorting emotions, I realized I’m not sure where these are coming from or if they’re even coming from me. After all, this feminine shadow wields mystical tools, so I better first quote my man Fernando Pessoa and then put these emotional thoughts down on paper.

 

“ In each of these sensations I am someone else painfully renewed in each indefinite impression.”

Fernando Pessoa

“The Book of Disquiet”

 

There was a moment where togetherness felt like floating on a tandem raft drifting on light rapids, manageable and exciting and this inflatable raft nuzzled against the massive polished rocks, brushing and touching with the inside pressed into both our bodies like an inflatable organ finding its blood flow.

Where, in the vigor of a fantastic dream, each other’s voice became a pilot light soothing the insides like a swallow of small-batch bourbon. We painted together and talked about poetry. We read searing and beautiful passages aloud where words became numinous with an electric eroticism.

 

I will be the rock and the driftwood your waves can brush against. You create, in me, such beautiful, smooth and fascinating shapes with your tide.

 

That happened, and that won’t be erased. No matter what usurps passionate moments some things I can’t forget.

By the second time she broke up with me (and even later there would be a third) I had moved from sadness that-now joined an emotional state I was unfamiliar with.

There were three in all, but it felt like a million small assaults, a cumulative barrage where the unexpected became the rule.   These incidents flogged me in moments when, guard down, I least suspected a blade sinking into the flesh of my heart.

I’m getting all these emotions now. Used to be I was pretty concrete about feelings: hungry, ecstatic, angry, sad; nothing too fancy, nothing too complicated just the standard flow of ups and downs. The emotions I was feeling now I couldn’t even name and they were trying to take me down. These were body blows, Mike Tyson uppercuts, blindside targeting headshots in a football game.

Maybe they were always there and I put them deep in hidden compartments and passageways and drowned them with bourbon and distraction.

So I keep asking myself now: I’ve got this chick living inside me and I’m handing her off and I don’t even know it and it affects my soul and then things go sideways and all I can do right now is live in it and try to describe it.

I’m searching for this person and there are yearnings and desires that somehow forecast and create this person for me. That’s what it feels like, like maybe this person didn’t exist before my unconscious drives and conscious desires created her. The thoughts I nurture become my reality. I guess that’s why all those people, billions of them, get down on their knees.

And then I deliver an essential element to her, I don’t even know I’m doing it and now she has it and she doesn’t really know how to handle it. In fact, not only does she not know how to handle it, she’s careless and reckless with compassion lacking. She’s kicking it around like a hackysack.

 

All right.

Are you sick of my shit yet?

I’m gonna continue to try and describe it.

 

A buoyant levity (or was it confusion drawn out and jagged?) upended grief and after the topple I lived inside a lurid, trembling curiosity. A tender and restrained interest coated the balance beam of my confidence creating a slick surface.

That’s what it feels like, if I try to intellectually describe a feeling. I feel like my confidence was shattered, shredded. Everything I did with her seemed to work. Actions and words pulled two people together into a flourishing spiritual connection. Was it all bullshit?

It was true until it turned on its head and then what do you say to yourself? How do you take the next step? Do I really want to reinvent myself?

A refrain echoed, calling me to move out of stillness. Was it a call to control? I no longer know which of my behaviors are irresponsibly manipulative. I can’t tell. I simply swear every one of them is tinged with large swaths of desire for courtship, and for me, that chivalrous drive is an element, polished and pure in my innermost recesses recalcitrantly emblazoned as love. I was dealing with this. I was listening to my inner voice. I was exposing this otherness living inside me.

Then, as if in the cross hairs of a sniper, I was struck fast. I remembered the joy we both felt, a few days before, after re-entering a connection that had been needlessly and ruthlessly discarded more than a month before, by her own fears. She had been living in those fears her entire life, but now, with their attachments fastened on our shared memories, the absurdity and dichotomy of her escape took on a comic hue. A tragically comic pallid light opened awareness in dreams and in the drama of our own experience; even in the deepest segments of my sorrows there was a dichotomy splitting the timbre of my nighttime sobs into both laughter and desperation.

Wow, where did that come from? I’m not gonna lie. I cried. Even after lateraling my feminine alter-ego I churned out some vulnerable insights. There I go again thinking about my emotions instead of experiencing them. I can’t tell if I’m dealing with intellectualized feelings or the emotions themselves. There is a masquerade. Emotions cut-through with intellectual embellishments travel a higher road along the ego’s territory submerging the actual emotions, disowning them like they belong to someone else. Are the thoughts of feelings contorted along the rational terrain of my awareness really emotions or am I deluding myself?

 

This is where Massimo comes in handy.

He said:

“ Let’s get a bottle of some good sipping tequila, we’ll talk about it.”

“You’ve got a find a way to forget about that shit, push it away, pretend it doesn’t exist go find someone else.”

 

Massy was reminding me what not to do. His psychological insights always amaze me. Pure, unalloyed emotions not experienced directly, not lived through, are repressed and they lay in wait always. They do not dissolve in the lap of Patron. They bite back.

Massimo always reminds me that you can repress these difficult feelings by creating all manner of thought games that shift and twist emotions into something else, something now different or distorted from the pure singular emotions that are born inside me right now. It is those, and it is then, at that instant, that I need to understand them, right when they are in their virgin state poised to teach me.

The truth is, those emotions come from the hollow chambers down there somewhere in the animal, in the instinctual terrain that wants to procreate and propagate the species. That’s what I keep trying to rummage around and find. But it is a nether-region without words without logic, only music with flourishes of art’s dizzying and immaculate silent presence.

We can’t find those after tequila and a long conversation with Massimo. It’s an inside job. Once I go that route those feelings are lost in the best macho male-speak.

So the second assault did not come as a surprise, yet, it acted as a paradoxical disintegration while we appeared to be riding the crest of communal bliss. You just can’t know another person. The light hits her hazel eyes and our sustained gazes, like pillowy visions of carnal union, sever truth as it tries to cross between us. A high-amplitude attraction hides sentiments where fear of abandonment or lack of trust smolders and damages the infrastructure two souls have constructed. Behavior mirrors the attraction while fear conscientiously works behind the scenes. The attraction could not be contained between us so how is that a problem? Friendship and common interests fed a wealth of compatibility drawing from vast sources inside both of us. Arousal for her, in a moment powerless to repress, becomes the tipping point for bizarre destructive strokes, brilliant in their cruel honesty, and sabotage, surfacing like a silent snake-strike out of the blue, an ambush that took my legs out on the way to a honeymoon.

Something in me kept coming back for more. Was this love? Was it manipulative, selfish, ego-driven love (representing actions outside of love’s purview) where my cracked center, injured and dragging, yearned for a conjoining glue to repair what only I could fix myself? I had faith but it had lost its bearings in a fog of my receding belief in love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il Cane Corso

Of a certainty the man who can see all creatures in himself, himself in all creatures knows no sorrow.” The Upanishads

His fur is ruthenium gray,

lanced with stripes of silver.

He bears his musculature on erect legs

knowing not how to slouch or hide his true self.

The eyes, also gray, with sunburst yellow

are hooded by sad lids,

yet there is no fear.

The fur and skin about the face

in a fury of furrow and folds

hang majestically in a joyful dewlap.

Ears project sideways, level, traversing outward

then fold down in little awnings under the rain.

He walks on tendons protruding

like Rodin’s Achilles.

Muscles burst from his chest and thighs

as he rises up to greet me.

With rest he meditates like the dawn.

With sound his frame tenses to the faintest octaves.

The broad, square snout consumes his fact-finding

sensitive to those deviant and renegade scents,

yet wallowing in the spacious arms of familiar smells,

never disgusted or deterred

by the array that line collection stalls in his memory

like upright stacks of colored crayons.

He battles the army hidden around him

with curiosity.

Eyes focusing their limited gaze as he prances

on padded paws

reminiscent of ape’s palms.

A stump-tail amputated at birth

tells the story of his fortune and dreams.

He sees the snow outside

as he gnaws on the calloused rawhide.

The door opens.

Clusters of snow add silver to his coat.

He elevates his tongue to a falling snowflake

as the icy drop and his image both dissolve.

Holding Hands

It was a sublime afternoon.  They met for tea.  After it steeped they reclined on the master bed.  She fit snugly and perfectly with her head in his armpit, sides aligned and legs entwined.  Hands touched, fingertips graced with loving abrasion.  Each finger densely populated with coiled and sensate nerve endings, selecting in each other charged points of skin landscape. Hands focused upon one another.  Palms pressed connecting crevices and linear markings, possessing each other in an imagined co-registration of lifelines.  Flexion creases wrinkled together attaching roads embedded on a map leading to one spiritual center.    Even the distasteful wrinkles, like calloused canvas hidden on his worn hands, those marking that could write his story, unfolded into silken textures that enveloped her extreme softness.  His hand, in hers, acted as conjoined and unworked dollops of clay.  Virgin branches of hemlock, green with the sap of desire, their hands lovingly twisting into a forecasted future as driftwood.  Motor nerves shivered their contractions in the pulps of their phalanges molding and brushing hands into new shapes and contours. The electric pulses of invisible synapses opened new hollows within their palms vacated to house an erotic mist.  Fluid was born from fingertip tears.  Droplets, urged from a seminal place, were coaxed along the axial expanse of perceptive digits.  Sexual tension, mobile and shifting, became localized in the hypersensitive terrain where everything could be felt.  All fear and sadness wrapped up in the struggle of words moments earlier shifted and was courteously escorted down the avenues their upper extremities like tumbleweed on a deserted road.  Impeding feelings found a hidden space removed from the cascading overtures of our hands.  The world of inconsistency and tragedy hid in the folds of the sun-drenched curtains slowly darkening in the dusk.  The tightly drawn sheets and chenille spread over the bed seemed to amplify the suspension under their bodies.  Sensory feedback in their hands collided gently continuing its stream, a flow of unspoken information mirroring both hearts and merging each hand into the other.  As light touch progressed to interlocking, where the pallor of skin between fingers, exposed like the underside of blonde wood, digits slid against the yearning sides of an intercourse that was both simple and pregnant with great depth. Then, seriousness overcame her face.  While this union proceeded, her eyes narrowed and locked onto his in a stare that carried erotically charged anger.  He looked back at her and all the sensations seized an opening in her for a verbal torrent. It was an awakening to what was and the moment vanished into disbelief.

Fresh Blonde Pour-over

 

She was a Girl with Purple Hair

 

The courting instinct opens its wings like a butterfly long before being pinned to the padded collection paper and covered in cellophane. 

  This juvenile science project, whose voice comes from a confusing world, meets the veined wings, translucent like a new leaf, awkwardly bumping into pistils on their way to the dew-licked petals.

The racing net follows slow and haphazard attractions where the swallowtail or the monarch or maybe just the moth introduces the flower to the secrets of its own openings and refusals.

In the background the yellow jacket’s helix changes its mind like an off-kilter equation.

 

I pulled my SUV into the shopping-center driveway and parked in front of the café extending my driver-side tires onto a strip of sidewalk so I had separation from the car parked next to me. I checked on the dog in the back and he was comfortable in his bedding with his rawhide chew toys.

 

As I walked towards the coffee shop I noticed the dents in the body of my vehicle. Those were defects in the distracted sides of my psyche; careless brush-ups against poles in tight parking structures. The passenger side brake light plastic covering was fractured by an aberrant grocery cart let loose in a supermarket parking lot. Someone let it roll of its own volition and I found it kissing the rear of my truck one day as I walked back with bags of food. I just smiled and walked the cart over to the receptacle and crashed it into the others. These things used to bother me when I felt I needed to be on top of my game at all times. Now they were reminders. I refused to fix them.

 

I walked into the café and scanned the four possible private two-seat tables in the back and found one unoccupied.   I dropped my coat and satchel and studied the counter. There was a line of four customers and three young women worked taking orders and preparing beverages.

 

She was there at the counter with her loose fitting green apron. I noticed how her close-kept face watched over the customers and the tasks of her co-workers. She was a girl with purple hair. A strip of tightly braided hair wound around the top of her head like a crown. I could feel the old legends in the ambient blues music running through her mind. She was not that young and I could see the vestiges of the myriad piercing she no longer displayed. There was a robust authenticity to her gestures that was fierce. I saw a locked-in confidence that had jousted with older brothers. If she possessed any shyness or significant inhibitions there was an invisible space under her bearing where they lived.

 

The braid that encircled the crown of her head sat back and her remaining neck-length purple locks curled in a charmingly frizzy way. Her forehead sloped back and her chin had a delicate jut with a central dimple.   The skin of her face was oily and large pores on her nose could be seen at a distance.

 

She smiled easily and turned her head frequently as if to keep her anxiety about missing something in check. Over her sloped narrow shoulders a black, short sleeve hoodie sat and was zipped to a cleft below her chin created between the bulbous ends of her clavicles fastening to her sternum. Coffee created a full and engaging attachment to the moment for her and she moved elegantly on her thin short legs hugged by skinny jeans.   Measuring five foot two she wore checkered vans with no socks and had no desire to be taller.

 

At first I was shocked by the loving connection I felt for the striking tattoo. It was elaborately depicted encircling her deltoid and bicep like a sleeve. The colors brought faint murmurings to a voice deep inside me within a cellar where my secret muses arranged the topsoil. I leaned into my mixed emotions while I surveyed this splash of ink on a beautiful woman. It was like I was seeing one of Banksy’s grand spectacles. I caught my half-breed judgments between flights. I thought about a naked climb up from my own repressed authenticity. I burned with a desire to touch and caress the ink that slept in her dermis. The firmament of her bearing projected a poetic announcement of an inner self that was real and fastidious. It was assembled compassionately by her eyes and took into account the parts that grew stronger after the storm pulled her apart.

 

She floated seamlessly between taking orders and preparing beverages. None of the other baristas did both. If she took an order and another girl served a sub-optimal product, prompting a complaint, she revised it herself with a buoyancy that congratulated the customer’s discerning ability to uncover subtle flaws. She owned the production of imperfection. She possessed the beauty of a certain resolve that borrows a look askance in a manner that pulls in just the right light.

 

I ordered a blonde roast and it was not piping hot out of the dispenser. I knew that with cream in it I would be disappointed. As I handed the cup back to her, she scolded the air around herself for believing coffee from that source would be suitable. There was a resin within her that brought out a shade in her cheeks reminding me of the comfort I felt while eating my grandmother’s pastina with butter.

 

She took my cup and placed it on a back counter where it could be ignored while she made haste with a fresh pour-over. She crossed her arm over her mouth blocking a gentle cough in a way that was almost seductive. I watched her delicate hands while she held the steel pitcher of boiling water with its long spout. She applied the steaming liquid to the fragrant grounds in the paper filter sitting inside the cone. She waived the metallic spout like she was watering a flower that needed nurturing more than water. Steam rose and I observed the brown liquid hugging the sides of the glass receptacle.

 

Voices collided throughout the café.   Howlin’ Wolf’s gravely rantings floated over the tabletops lamenting a distant loss within the cold pines. A steady flow of customers entered and most left after receiving their orders.

 

The girl with the purple hair poured the deep roasted liquid into a fresh cup for me. I heard her yell:

“Fresh blonde pour-over.”

 

She handed me the hot coffee through chocolate brown eyes surrounded by her bold black frames.   Those horn-rims hugged the contours of her definitive personality. The lenses of her glasses magnified her augmented lashes. Her unbroken eye contact and authentic smile told me she was one for stark contrasts. Passion lives in sustained glances and doesn’t noticeably display timid embarrassment. She held my gaze in a way that compelled me to wait until I could take a small piece of her with me.

 

I walked over and sat at the table where I had left my possessions. A window behind me projected out onto the front of my parked Escalade. A puckered dent in the front passenger bumper smiled at me and I laughed back at it. The gray Oregon sky stood like a painting outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Love Punch

The love punch gets me every time

It keels me over

The thunder of it echoes back with bass notes

The octaves that strand my fear

 

My small world gathers on an atoll

Where isolation tricks safety

I can sing that cherished hymn from childhood

The one that I call back to my belly

 

I am barefoot on the rocky island

Shards mingle with the rounded polished stones of my heart

Cuts on my feet bleed the milky white sand

The light abrasive that surrounds my trepidation

 

I fall back on homerun thoughts

They don’t last

Then stark winds

Bend the resilient palms

 

I can build a house here

I can hide

Under a trap covering a hole

I ceaselessly dig

 

I don’t want to blacken my eyes

And purposely starve

Instead I look to

Intoxicating breaths of clean air

 

A flushing out of the colliding syndicate

Whose conspiracies

Taint love

Inside the melting populations of my emotions

 

If I am stranded here

I am also lined up to obey

The guides who seek solace

With a gut-punch or antidote to drink

 

The form is immaterial

The clear key pushes me towards

An open book

Mended by the mistakes I’ve paid for

 

The sky-writer in his meticulous travels

Maps the cursive outline

For me to see

In white columns

And cloudy plumes

Sanctioned by blueness

 

But, I can’t just be the dreaming man vomiting into the sky

On the serrated shore

That tears me up

Bowls me over

In the misty-eyed morning whose pain is plain as day outside my skylight

 

It is love’s gut-punch

That pins my delusions of the future

To my face

Like a carnivorous flower

 

The body blows from the ocean of your thoughts

Too heavy for the undertow

Send the message

Of who I AM

 

The love punch gets me every time

 

 

 

The Soul is in the Skin of the Walls

 There is another dream. It “is existing” right now. This is different from “it exists” now.

 

I set about continuing to flash a light into all the corridors of my dreams even after I am awake. I cannot stress the immediacy and urgency of pushing all of me, conscious, unconscious, all the parts of me soon to be dead, and the parts burning to be alive, into the present tense. If I wander, in the missteps of my writing, into a retrogressive tense or peer into the past, please correct me.

 

Please correct me now. And don’t forget to check and proofread for my feet are meanderers. My mind strips the moment away little by little in its resistance to acceptance and soon all I can set down in little black lines on the absorptive blotter of the white page are regrets from the past. At least I am thinking straight about what I can do and not what I could or did do. The “did do’s” are not part of this at all. I hope.

 

The pulse of a blinking searchlight, always blinking to remind me that it is alive to only the present and not trained into a past moment, establishes a cone of awareness in the corners where fleet footed motivations evade me.

 

The light peels back old paint and exposes the ghost of a soul. Now don’t get too excited or concerned about where I am going with this. I already told you this is meant to harness a blisteringly painful awareness of a section of stolen time that normally cannot be perceived. I think I made that clear when I pushed the present tense into a realm where people just don’t pay a lick of attention.

 

This is all very complicated and my mind in its tennis match between now and then falters in its mindfulness, yet when I see the now, the gods storm in at a hat’s drop. And then it’s over. It’s easy to miss. That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t like to miss these things. I’ve trained the searchlight.

 

I can just go ahead and say it. This all really came to a head after a recent death. No matter how mature I think I am, I cannot reconcile death. How can I? It is a complete extinguishing of the moment for another person, often suddenly without warning, in the middle of the night, during sex, on the ski slopes, floating on a glass-bottomed boat in Mexico….

 

The Stoics say to wake up and prepare for the worst possible occurrences.   This includes death, a natural event that is really not that different from the flux all around me. Leaves brown and crumble, apples fall and rot, worms are stepped on, dogs run in front of cars, bullets find crucial arteries,  nourishing coronary vessels occlude, phrenic nerves fail to raise the diaphragm…

 

 

She was in her house with two of my kids there. Like a stone from the sky she fell into a pewter tub in the middle of the night. I think she dented the tub with her head and never woke up. It feels like that could be in a comic book. There is a dark animation to the cartoon I construct to distance myself from blame.

 

I loved her. Shit. There I go with the past tense again. Saying I loved her means I don’t love her now and that’s not necessarily true. Can love finally arrive after death? That is the part about her not being here. I go back into the past when I felt love then I start thinking about how it all fell apart and the contempt set in. Then, next thing, the past is on me like a cloudburst and I’m swimming in the morass of the past with the sharks and then I’m staring at the double rows of teeth as fear grips me and then I’m afraid to even go in the water at all.

 

So where is my searchlight? And why does my waking state feel like a dream? Everything changed suddenly and during that night when her soul stole away a curtain dropped quickly onto the stage in the middle of the performance.

 

So think about it. Everyone is asleep. She gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and after an agonizing six seconds of crushing chest pressure, she loses consciousness and falls into the grey metallic tub dead. The dog whimpers and climbs in there with her and nestles by her side until my daughter finds her the next morning.

 

So now this is where I lose my mind. Where did she go? I’m not saying I miss her, but I was attached for quite a while and we’re not talking just an engine shut down or a mollusk drying up in the sun, this is the most precious section of animated love connected to everyone and to God alive and vibrant with the sun and the moon bolstering the energy and all the great depths of the oceans coursing in the bloodstream with eons of pulsing consciousness thriving inside with relentless expression more powerful than the pull of a thousand horses or the roars of all the massive mammals populating the planet captured in a captivating serving of humanness unique within billions and alive just yesterday and now vaporized into nothingness?..

 

So then a friend of mine offers that she is living in the walls. Just sort of clinging to the exterior of the paint and floating around sifting her smell onto family, knocking over knick-knacks, lighting random candles and spooking everyone into believing they are becoming delusional.

 

Then I really start to think in an unknowing way with my heart. I say to myself, Ok, just accept this as a random fact, Horatio, because there is more to heaven and earth than I dreamt in your philosophy. I like that quote. It helps me to accept: there are ghosts residing in the wall’s lamellar layers still expressing feeling in the painted walls.

 

That is quite a statement. I’ve always heard in parlors of gossip that the walls have ears, but this? Then, that means every new paint job traps a new soul, especially when the house is sold after a death, and so, there is this grab-bag of trapped ghosts in the layers of paint like a brick of organ meats in deli head-cheese.   I know it sounds crazy. I also have lost quite a bit of faith in science, plus I’ve heard this from more than one source and I can never argue with what I, myself, have seen.

 

I say “never” after “I can” not because I take “never” literally; I do this as a bulwark against the past encroaching upon “I can.” Without vigilance I drift into complacent “has-beens.”  Where the hell is that searchlight?

 

The smells and voices that were once thought to be hallucinations leave their true stamp even to those with prominently cultured outward dwelling perceptions.

 

My friends with schizophrenia, manic episodes, Tourettes and OCD take all perceptions as important. Lean into every stimulus and believe absurd connections. That is what they say.   When every perception is crucial, then nothing is crucial and connections become an insane playground. I might be venturing close to this but I am really only taking one potentially insane idea and blending it in.   This could be construed as progress.

 

What I’m referring to is not as simple as a hallucination.   It is a type of conjuring. Not those in the modern multiplex grindhouses. The fashionably creepy newsreels with found footage and professional hunters stalking the spirit realm, no, they turn out another recycled cotton candy product, haphazardly pieced together with hackneyed lore by committee, known today as sophomoric new millennial pre-post horror. What I’m talking about is none of that, nor can it approach it in the level of pure banality displayed.

 

The fact is, she is in the walls and the only way to cover her voice is to apply new paint. Even then she becomes a muted trumpet underwater as the school of fish in the tank nearby turn from turquoise to ruthenium gray.

 

The tendency she exerts will remain and continue to look out from behind the eyes of the oil portraits.  When her will exerts itself, beyond the limitations imposed on her soul, a heart shaped balloon will suddenly be caught with a resounding skid in the arms of a no longer revolving ceiling fan. And, as if that weren’t enough, the dog will also attempt to dig under the laundry room sink and rummage through crumbs on the pantry floor feeling a light scratch on his ear while expecting the can opener to unlock a cylinder of wet food.

 

The fact that she is still in the house cannot be denied.

 

If another person suggests I am like an onion peeling back the layers I will scream. So what if I believe souls can reside in the fastidious lamellae of the painted walls? Like the morphology of bone, a circular crust develops in the wall near heat sources where fire creates a warming of the knot-holes in the painted wood enveloping virulent vestiges of a soul which can now hide in the prison cell of its own lacuna.

 

Do you follow how death happens in the past but the imprisonment of a soul’s remains occurs now?   This incarceration does not have to be painful, rather an advanced burrowing leads towards a new celestial molecular growth that bypasses ordinary biology and the bloodstream while pondering its persistent attachment to all left behind like a virus stirring along the steps of an insect.

 

It doesn’t have to painful but I believe it can be.

 

No matter how much of a positive spin I apply to this I am mercilessly assaulted by an unassailable sadness. The wiles of what still exists in the cracks and interstices of the walls around me unfurl a surreal flag.   Sometimes this is imperceptible in the grandiose moment and I must hold fast that perception is relative and subjective and tinged by belief.

 

In the desperate hours that do not allow for seeing, the walls become blank and translucent like a gossamer nightshirt barely hiding the most supple breasts imaginable.

 

At precisely this time my obsessive thoughts derive their repose in the milk of intoxicants and that part removed from my will comes to possess a positive stroke of genius for craving the forbidden.

 

Then it opens up.

 

This is the golden fragment of time, fleeting in its unfathomable shyness.   A moment so difficult to see, yet, also prone to being exposed, in the realm of the right mindfulness, when the cone of the searchlight traps a sound born of a certain color or maybe a crevice in the attic nursing a leak softens into an inhibited pronouncement of that which is hiding within.

 

An air of vanquished opportunity relishing release.

 

A soul broadly pinned like a butterfly to the padded white expanse of a new limiting science that no one can explain.

 

The walls become a new celluloid hide; a voracious skin holding the stunted fantastical insubordinate desires existing in the wildness of frustration.

 

This deep-rooted failure turns back a melting clock after the bloodsmother and every itch becomes a tick inside the malleable clock of a tortured purgatory.

 

Nonetheless, the occasional novel explosions come through the dense layers and pile up quickly and in my heart.

I can’t believe latex paint solves anything.

 

Then there are the filigreed lampshades that feel like skin burgeoning out with the soul’s latticework.   Drapes hanging like unspooled threads of flesh in silken rivulets like a reflective pool.

 

There is a stifling understanding boxed in everywhere when a soul dissipates and this imprisoning allows only drips from the skins fallow tears to haunt other’s thoughts.

 

All the while the inhabitants of the house left behind sleepwalk through the mist while the searing moonlight preoccupies the same curtains and steals into the low-lit bulbs.

 

Not even the sheets and the whispers of warm, alive, skin abrading the soft bed covers are protected from the silent sting of the soul’s permeating insinuations into the distorted senses that drive the bereaved indoors.

 

No matter how hard I push into the now-moment there is no way to comprehend the straight-jacket of disembodiment a soul chisels against while struggling to reopen lines into the animated world.

 

It could be coming from ten thousand years ago or from a sand castle on Mars. What do I know? I do know for sure, that as I continue to push my own rock and become less able to even begin to break down the afterlife, all the rest of my knowledge falls into a dust bin while I look out at the basketball sun bobbing on the horizon and simply say with great convincing gravity: I don’t know.

 

 

 

 

She Studied Horses

She climbed out from her own desire to make a baby

It became a never could

So there were castaways

The forlorn

The discarded from nevermind yesterdays

The cartoon images folded into her dreams

Leaked from the old television console

A recipe served up early morning in childhood

An array of reproductive paper cutouts

Strung along accordion style

Spruced up and stately like a picket fence

Containing her desires in all their bowling pin enamel sheen

All the while she lived on the farm

And survived flights to far-flung planets

Where cities breathed underwater

She studied the night sky

She studied horses

Watched the mares foal

Under the moonlit drippings

Where fluids coated the night

And the dogs ran off fighting over the afterbirth

When the jewels inside her sought the star’s fire

They attached faraway inseminations inside her

And whether four-legged or two

Imagined herself carrying a forbidden being

Blasted by the revolving planets

She could make this happen

Amidst the crushing boredom of the flat corn fields

And the whirring tractors

The stirrings at four before sunrise

Where everyone ate oatmeal silently

Drinking mournful cups of black coffee

Waiting for slivers of sun

To parse the day’s song like wedges of melon

She lost herself inside the spaces between the corn stalks

Guarding the margins of her private imagination

That swore she would only learn

From the proudest yearlings

Already jousting in their bewildered anxieties

She saw the truth in them

A lonely honesty mired in their angled jawlines

Noticing  how they grew and matured slowly

She saw the fight when they were taken from their mothers

In time they stood silently

Illuminated by stoic celestial orders

Proud in their earnest steadfastness

Reluctant Love

 

“This is a sad story but an all-too real one. The intense imagery and surreal word selections only serve to magnify the emotional currency of how love is bought and discarded and abused by people who employ the same life or death urgency in destructively obliterating love as they do in nurturing and forming love. “

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Found Notes From a Medical School Think Tank

 

Reluctant love hides in the honeycombs of subtle, often imperceptible, actions that allow another person in.

 

A type of love expressed by one unconvinced but persuaded to believe it.

 

This allowance merges unspoken vulnerabilities where disquieting emotions temper their waves into a reprieve that forms an unconscious island obscuring and floating over the labile emotions that otherwise find their own disruptive voice.

 

There are those inner elevators and spirals descending and clutching renegade emotions spawned from vigilant distrustful thinking, carriers of that which starts as an outlier, that become capable of taking down systems of feeling and emotional arrangements previously neatly positioned like a white picket fence around a seemingly healthy relationship.

 

One person is a pathological liar and the other refuses to remain convinced.

 

Then the next thing you know a violent toxic emotional spill is spewed at your lover bathing the whole affair in radioactive destruction.

 

Make-up sex may still be an option at this point but it is unlikely.

 

A quicksand for these tumbling thoughts and emotion quickly traps the makings of a new growing land mass pulled up into the hell spring like an unleashed buoy emerging in its own blood and insidious vitriol.

 

This seems to erupt out of nowhere

 

And there is nothing anyone can do about it

 

Down beneath there is no periscope and the nosedive is all fear and gut punch presaging abandonment.

 

If only two people could be nice and rekindle a fraction of the friendship

 

Instead each braces against the crushing waves of distemper like hyper-vigilant pugilists

 

All systems bust

 

The quicksand starts to seep into both mouths and black slime envelops like tar without a likeness into the moment

 

A time of extinction

 

At this point there are no words

 

There are only bifurcating boomerangs of shrapnel and artillery shells timed to travel a new basis with unrelenting launch points

 

Art fades and music fuses desultory bass tones onto fatigued endorphins

 

Words climb farther onto the bland keys lining cobblestone streets where descriptors move even farther away from being able to describe reality

 

A bilateral self-centeredness lances opposing egos onto bayonets carving up a smokescreen impression that holds a bizarre reality in its palm

 

All this degrades into a ham-fisted attempt reflected in a hall of distorted mirrors

 

Cocksure attitudes emerge presaging the death-knell

 

A digging in of one side’s heels is a pathetic atonement and a mendicant’s salvage

 

Both will soon look through tortured webbing of the bare winter tree’s latticework yearning for change to slow its crushing wheel

 

Each erect and majestic pine cold it its unsuppleness will aspire to scrape the sky’s mist like a soldier crying in your ear.

 

Delusions loom large from one side

 

An attached loyalty is only a splash of acidic graffiti on the heart

 

Attachments guard the rabid dogs protecting their headlong and despairing free fall

 

Sometimes a song or swallowtail evokes a sign

 

A blind wanderer knocks on the abandoned farmhouse door becoming all four walls of the argument.

 

And the black liquid once again becomes the asphalt sheen coating the immobilized frames capturing a section of immediate time

 

All hope, in the end it jettisoned into acceptance and surrender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

experienced silver grey magenta

the beach dried up

the day after the rains

 

the recession of tides

invites

the sun

to burn through

the detritus of my emotions

littering the gaudy sands

 

the wave is too heavy

for its own undertow

 

the ocean pulls back the curtain

emptying

and

then

all the embarrassing shards

of my conscience are on display

 

a faded Coke-can rolls up

affirming its unsteadiness

on the sandy cobbles

it bounces and twists in the wind

dances on the waves

like cylindrical balsa wood

its aperture drinks

the fringed edge

of foam bubbling towards it

The black and red

now  experienced silver grey magenta

 

the ocean’s leading edge

pulls back

gathering everything beneath it

inside it

And tries to deliver

all that it has

to those on the shoreline

 

 

 

Caboose

“Its not the caboose, it’s the engine of the train that kills you.”

Apocryphal

 

The weather vane spun rhythmically on the roof. Wind peeled bark off the trees. Chimney smoke slanted sharply off the brick top. What felt like wind was a strait jacket. New ripples in every puddle scolded the eddies. Blacktop was polished clean. All the fractured glass from the time of accidents gleamed and was embedded like uncut diamonds in lacunae frosted into the flattened slicktrack of the road. Cars dug in and fostered a telepathic burn across the imploding town.   Rubber tore on the train’s serrations marked along the city’s arteries. My glance turned faraway before the inside opened up. Alabaster steam rose up from the grilles. I didn’t know where to turn back. The hair on people’s heads was far-flung. Street corner ministers lost their toupees as bibles split open on the sidewalk like kindlewood. The wind frisked me as I walked. Men in rags circled around garbage can fires like bastions of hope. Saliva dripped and curdled on their beards with snot and whiskey dried by the smoke. One man wrapped an oil-soaked rag around his prosthetic arm and lit it on fire like a torch. He was in his heyday. Helicopters whirled overhead blistering the wind and trapping citizens in cones of searchlight. Fear was a third eye washed in factory smoke. The wind carried a white powder that sugared the leaves. Furrowed brows with eye wrinkles and polluted beards found a circle of joined hands around the ash can. Trains clanged with riveting screeches that triumphed over rabid howlings in the desolate night. The tracks running through the city joined people’s scars and ruts connecting residents all there and plentiful with life receding. The steel rooster on the roof continued its metronomic pirouette.  A roster of shoes set outside the shelter stood fast in the wind as if nailed to the ground. Men fought the doors to get inside. Pigeons clustered here and there, some raced into the air and performed nosedives between the spires. The wind brought white specks everywhere. People locked their doors. Those left outside gagged and flushed their mouths as eyes burned cancelling wells of flesh in the orbits. Great timber cross planks fell into place locking onto cast-iron joints. Entrance was barred. Denizens fought back the flying tree limbs. A train filed past derailing itself. The caboose swung off the tracks into play casting about sidelong crushing human forms in its wake. It was a time of machined flesh entering the meat festival. I was witness to this clamoring exit. Fires raged. Madmen stalked the boulevards. Ladders spiked up. Men were tuned inside out. Faces of the brave were torn open. Weapons were not in the equation. It was all natural elements sidling up to the man-made. Nothing out of earshot mattered. It all fell upon a great screen. I sat there and watched until I was pulled into it. This was the last day.

 

 

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