Melodramatic Stroboscopic Picture Show In Words: A Love Affair

bloody plate

She had always been unhappy. And it couldn’t be helped. He loved her. And it couldn’t be helped. She fought with him that he didn’t really love her. And it couldn’t be helped. He fought back with her that he really did. And it couldn’t be helped. For ages she told him that they needed to take a break. And it couldn’t be helped. And for ages he resisted her saying that they needed take a break. And it couldn’t be helped. To try to spice things up between them, she brought an old sex book she had owned to his bed. And it couldn’t be helped. He tried to ignore the oily stains that had been on the book’s cover. And it couldn’t be helped.

She told him all her problems she had with life the next day on the phone for half an hour. It couldn’t be helped. Unable to speak a single word himself, he listened to her problems and felt exasperated listening. It couldn’t be helped. The next day after that, she did it again, filling him with her problems. It couldn’t be helped. He felt beside himself, listening again. It couldn’t be helped. She felt that they were finally at a new beginning, that she was opening up to him again. It couldn’t be helped. He told her that they needed to take a break. It couldn’t be helped. She broke down and sobbed. It couldn’t be helped. He listened to her sobbing for an hour on the phone. It couldn’t be helped.

The next day, he sought to recant their taking a break. It couldn’t be helped. She denied his request that they not take a break. It couldn’t be helped. She skipped his birthday when it came. It couldn’t be helped. He felt pain. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him text messages indicating that she was inclined to let the whole thing go. It couldn’t be helped. He panicked and missed her terribly. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him a picture of her wearing his locket. It couldn’t be helped. He felt love seeing her wearing the locket, the same one which he wore, too. It couldn’t be helped. She messaged him a picture of her engagement ring, now carefully placed in a little house of sticks and bark and stone he had once built for it for her. It couldn’t be helped.

He felt love for her, holding onto hope from that sweet picture. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him more texts telling him she couldn’t talk. It couldn’t be helped. He felt despair. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him text messages that she felt relieved and had discovered a new, happy social life. It couldn’t be helped. He felt deeper and deeper loneliness, missing her. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him messages that said she would let him him know when she could talk to him. It couldn’t be helped. He respected her request for space. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him more messages telling him to let it be. It couldn’t be helped. He sent her messages that told her he loved and missed her. It couldn’t be helped.

She sent him messages indicating that she had no intention of returning to their relationship the way it was. It couldn’t be helped. He felt some hope, that indeed they could change the way their relationship had been. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him texts that she wanted their relationship to be over. It couldn’t be helped. He sent her messages that indicated he was lonely and missed her. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him texts that said she was worried about him but would not help him. It couldn’t be helped. He arranged with her to pick up his belongings at her house. It couldn’t be helped. She agreed and told him she did not want to see him and to be gone with his belongings by the afternoon. It couldn’t be helped.

He was stunned to find every stitch and scrap, from his tube of face moisturizer that had been in his drawer in the bathroom, to his running shoes in the closet, had been already neatly bagged and boxed in the little, dark room he had worked in down her basement when he got there. It couldn’t be helped. She weeks before had removed from her sight any sign and any remnant ever associated with him from her house. It couldn’t be helped. After packing all his belongings into his car, he bought and lay dozens of roses for her in her house—in hallways, in the kitchen, on the staircase, upon her bed, and wrote her short love notes telling her he would do anything to be with her again, and drove away. It couldn’t be helped.

After therapy and work, she came home and changed out of her work clothes to go out with her date for dinner. It couldn’t be helped. After he had left, he had turned back to see her in person and to beg her to speak with him. It couldn’t be helped. Having left the front and the back doors of her house flung open, she shouted down the staircase from her bedroom that she would be right there. It couldn’t be helped. He’d rapped on the back glass door, just open enough, and called out to her. It couldn’t be helped. She came downstairs and when she saw him, she screamed and screamed and screamed. It couldn’t be helped. He followed her outside where she was screaming and screaming to her car. It couldn’t be helped.

She screamed and screamed for him to leave her alone. It couldn’t be helped. He begged her on his knees, “Please! Please! Please!” It couldn’t be helped. Her date appeared behind him in the driveway and claimed the police were on their way. It couldn’t be helped. While he believed this was not true, he also didn’t care if it had been. It couldn’t be helped. She ran to her date’s car waiting for her on the street. It couldn’t be helped. Afterwards, he struggled and fought for her for weeks. It couldn’t be helped. She held her ground against him. It couldn’t be helped. He sneaked into his friend’s house nearby who had plenty of guns and put a bullet through his beautiful head. It couldn’t be helped.

The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance: B-Side

disrobed

She mourned the recent death of her fiancé by going out on dates. That is how she grieved. For there was no use hanging around and moping. There was no use feeling sorry for him or for herself. She deserved a life of joy and joyfulness. After all, wasn’t that what the tattoo on her backside read in Latin, just above her buttocks in permanent  blue: “Inveniens Gaudium”? And the truth was, he hadn’t been the showboat anyway of her life. Judgmental and cruel at times, he could walk the rice paper path like a monk and never leave a trace. But, the truth was really in his essence: boy-like, full of wonder, like an Elephant’s Child’s mind full of “insatiable curiosity.” If one were to pass out gold stars for good human behavior with strangers, many a new star-lit constellations would fill the painted skies.

Almost everybody who met him had left him blinking their eyes in open human wonder and delight. In supermarkets, barber shops, railway stations. That was how he was, touched with a lightness of being and gaiety that was like the cheerful song of birds. These ways of his would not stop her for a moment, however. She’d dine, and undress, and pull through a continuous orgasm of amazing sex without him. No use sitting on the shelf like unused bed sheets and turning gray and brittle there for nothing like that innocent lost girl folding linen warns against in that poem by Brecht, who instead was destined to live her own life to the fullest, and be a woman completely manifest. No sense in hanging onto the past. It was just as Jesus had said, “Let the dead bury the dead.”

And besides, where had he been for her? What had he done for her lately?  Fuck  Eddie Murphy! He’d done nothing. He hadn’t been there. When she was down and in need, where was he for her then? True, he had once repaired and painted white her crumbling garage; he had once patched her roof; he had once changed the basement pump; he had for a spell from time to time minded her children when she had slipped into the coma of her depressions. True, he had battled off her irrational and abusive ex (chronic guilty reminder of her past life mired in poor choices, sickness, mistakes & misdirection). True, he had protected her from her mother’s mania (who’d beaten her to tears as no child a mother ever should). True, he had amused her boys endlessly every night at supper (when at the table she had been a maternal ghost). So what!

He had been such a bastard. Her past was her past. He was always judging her by that. That was who she had been then. She had changed, she had changed, she had changed. And where the fuck was he? Last winter, he had abandoned her, abandoned her when she had really, really needed him. He had abandoned her! She had been all alone. He’d just come on the weekends and fuck her and leave, leaving her alone again. She didn’t need a man like that. He hadn’t been her partner like that. That’s not a partner.

She would find a man who loved her the way she deserved. Where had this dead fiancé whose diamond ring (which she had bought with her own hard-earned money) that she wore for nothing for the four years they were engaged for nothing who would never have married her anyway been? She was an ageless goddess. She, without him, was an amazing, powerful woman who had now become fully herself. She was an amazing, phenomenal woman. She’d enjoy her life for what it was—“Life as itself now,” and sleep with and date and fuck and love again whosoever she pleased. Whether he’d been dead two months, two years, or a day, what difference did it make?

Janos Kirkpatrick

benches

I can’t even stand anymore. My knees, my legs have been hobbled. Who did that, I ask? Was it the limb from the oak that fell in my sleep last night? Was it the fence that caught the thistle growing up through its wire mesh? Was it the truck’s plow waiting to push away the blowing winter, soon to come? The coffee beans I had ground and ground by hand are all wasted, too. Used, but now wasted. That is how things go, I suppose. The sodden discard seems to outweigh the use. The driftwood in the lake so much heavier than the forest from which it all came. When my own breath became short, I had to also look around. There was no lack of air, nor occlusion of space, no crushing infinity closing in on me. What was it, I had asked myself once. What is it, I must ask myself again. The well I had depended on to bring me water still worked. The roof I had counted on still kept me free from rain. The garden I trusted would bear me food, still did. I had only to swallow, once or twice, and accept that a kiss upon a man far greater than I had been, had betrayed me, exposed me as being rather soft, and rather gentle. It was especially hard because this had occurred just as my good arm had been reaching out again, and the blow came from a fallen angel, and she struck without grace and without mercy.

Twinkling Morning Sigh

morning-bed

After four years she told him that the sparkle she had hoped would happen didn’t. He went to pick up his pajama tops, his bicycle in the garage, and a handful of crystals that did.

Tiniest Heart Of All

flesh-burrowing-tick-b

Everywhere in hell I looked, I could not find a place tiny enough to fit her heart. I went first to a galvanized bucket full of last winter’s ashes. The burned remains of wood were overflowing from the long season’s cold, so there was no room for her heart there. I went out to the dirt, where I had planted radishes, garlic, and tulips. As it was already springtime, all the green-growing beds were taken, and nothing else could be planted, even her heart. During the summertime when I was chopping wood, I thought to stuff her heart into a crack inside my woodpile for safekeeping. Alas, I had chopped so much wood in my loneliness, the pile was stacked so high, so high above my head, it was impossible to lift any to slip her heart in, it was so heavy. By autumn, when I began to notice overhead geese flying southward, I thought to toss it up to them, up in the air to catch in their honking bills. They were in such a hurry and such a clamor, I could see their fat red tongues and sharp geese-teeth also had no room for it, her heart was so small. Later on, after years, after years of keeping my beloved’s heart on my windowsill, I thought to take it to heaven. But heaven I also know is a place for all the most forsaken, the tiniest of tiny hearts there ever were, and I felt she had deserved better company.

Close Friends Over Time

icy pond and rocks

My old friend had driven up on his motorcycle and I really wanted to apologize to him. For almost four years I had barely seen him, besides trading emails about which set of snow tires to buy, and some political impertinences. And, just as he had called me about a week before pretty late at night to thank me for a talk that he and I had had while boiling down around a hundred thirty gallons of sap to make maple syrup when the thaw came this past winter about six months ago, I had in return wanted to say I had been sorry not to have been around much as good friend ought to be. There had been such trauma and turmoil in my life, I just didn’t want him to know, I told him. And, I said, really it must have meant not that I was afraid he would have whispered to himself about me, but what I instead might have been whispering about myself. I gave him lunch, some leftover pasta with pesto made from the basil and garlic grown in my garden, and he looked at my gas grill which I had cobbled together from an old rusted one I’d had that for years I was expecting to blow up in my face, and a nice Weber I’d found discarded along the roadside that some people who were not handy at all had ditched, or were too well off to be bothered with. He remarked that he had been impressed, actually, when at a local diner right across from the tall pine trees close by where we both live, I had declined his wish about four years back to sit down in the booth with me and my breakfast companion. There was, he felt, a sort of integrity in my establishing boundaries of privacy like that. But really, if it had been that, it was also that he would have been about to become privy to the world of danger, peril, and deep personal suffering I was just stepping into, despite the gorgeous vistas of the endless Atlantic ocean, the wild spray flung white up on the jagged rocks, and some ordinary summer vacation snapshots of steady Maine lobster boats motoring into the cove at dawn being flipped through at our table before the eggs and toast came. No, I told him, had it really been good, I would have wanted to share everything not hide it all from him. Come over to the pool anytime, he said, before he rode off, no need to call, an invitation he and his wife had been giving me for many years.

Sweeter Than Any Silken Losses

oven birdWhat else could it have been, my little friend, that you had gone away so sweetly? The voyage to Mont Saint-Michel never occurred, and the northern sands of Carthage must, too, be blown away. Instead, some old snow shoes in a rusty shed had had to be returned, and I trekked the hills alone last February without you. I can’t even say that I had shown you even the smallest part of my record collection. Most of the things I grew you ate. Few of these I remember your hands, your fingers, planting beside mine. The cords of wood we stacked together, they were burned more than two winters ago. The chemises, silk camisoles, and dress I once bought for you are crammed on hangers with oddly fashioned jackets from the 80’s in my back closet where every so often I go inside and throw out whatever under plastic has grown any mold. Though I re-did by hand the gravel in my driveway for you and me, I think you pulled up beside my car once. I’ve even switched the side of the bed I sleep on; yours was so much firmer. I’m out of all sorts of things. Almond butter. Fish oil. Sardines. Walnuts. Hair conditioner. The reach up to the shelf to buy them is too high for me alone. And I do without them, do without you.

Jump Here!

cracked wallNow this old piece of lie, so the story goes, so the story went, it went something like this. She’d walk there and he’d walk there and then they’d get to this point on the concourse or the causeway or what have you, and as they were approaching, and this was years back, mind you, he’d go to her: “How many days would you remember me if I jumped off right here?” And she’d go something like 58 days, or a week, or 29 hours, or some such reply. And it was all in good, suicidal fun, you see. It wasn’t expected of him to jump for anything. After all, the one that had been on the brinks, the one that had been in the bin, wasn’t him. The one that loved life, why, everybody you had talked to always knew it was him. Her? Well, enough said there. There was enough medical documentation in the files to keep the Easter Bunny happy till Christmas. Of course nobody’d suspected that he’d had such a deep down mordant sense of humor that went quite that deep. But when you look at the crack in the cement, and you come to realize that through freezing and thawing, through freezing and thawing, expanding and contracting the way water does year after year, season after season, it does things to a story-teller’s own mind. See, they’ve got a mind like no other. What they think is funny, like D. B. Cooper with the made-up middle initial like that, is not as funny as it is to other people to whom story-telling is not an art but just a thing to pass the time with, you know, make a marriage go on with destroying each other in a few years. For most people, stories are just like going to the movies. They’re just entertainment. But to other people, why, they are as earnest as coyote’s eyes glowing in the dark. They’ve got a special kind of intelligence, not like IQ-wise, but another kind a lot more seeing and a lot more important than that. They can see themselves in the hunt of things, just way the coyote slipping past the last cool air of dawn most certainly smells if it cannot exactly see its own natural destiny whilst in the midst of being that very destiny. So, too, is the earnestness of the story-teller. And the way it goes, she had said forty-four days. “I will remember you,” she had said, “forty-four days after you jump.” So it got to thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine, and when it was forty-four, that was pretty much the end of it.

Some Beautiful Leftover Debris

pull tiesThe forgotten and leftover things that people do are forgotten and leftover. There are all sorts of untellings of things that nobody will have talked about. Fierce, blood-letting accusations are dropped as if they had never been. Hatreds seem to disappear. Easy betrayals, like jackals crossing the grassy lower backlands with bright yellow eyes at night, go by like northern ghosts. A cobbled together clutch of new-found friends all whispering together they make quickened decisions feel right. How mobs and rabbles work is generally like this too. Jellyfish with their huge poisonous red manes bob and flow in the sea, catching the bare limbs of this and that swimmer swimming unawares. And what later washes up as memory? What comes ashore as truths? It is raked up with seaweed and debris, carted off to a nearby garbage heap, or burned under watchful eye in the sand. As for infidelities, fits, or the other small but aggressive human cruelties? At length, his final handshake with the kind proprietor after the couple’s last meal is over is all that can be left to mind to bear, after his lips have spit out a pinch of mukhwas clearing the palate and very good for digestion on the curb.

Geewhiz! (And it’s free!)

bluestone

Hey, Geewhiz,

You’re just the kind of trouble I like. Behind your sado-masochistic array of words, I know you’re just a romantic angel falling headlong first into the lap of love. You can’t feel or fool me for a second. But, you’re really wrong about the dating bit. Are you kidding? This place is a paradise for successful daters. Even Stephen Hawking could make girls pine and yearn here. And that, basically, is the lost art of romancing, isn’t it? Some dude with the right amount of DNA to thrill your shot glass with, who’s witty and smart enough to make that little rictal smile of yours appear and wander off into the desert the same way that that poor great fool Enoch with God did. I am looking, prowling, a big Virginia Woolf-sized lighthouse on the lookout for an “adjective whore” just like you. Come on; come to Papa, and crash your vessel upon my rocks.

Egbert

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