a meditation technique taught over the course of a silent 10-day retreat.
The expression “finding your voice” baffled me most of my early writing life. It sounded so pretentious, like a teenager who wanted to skip college for a year to go find himself. Well, I was one of those pretentious teenagers (only I skipped 8 years), but I still thought my voice was anything I put on the page, which is to say, the expression had no meaning.
Most writers I met back then, and many I meet now, talk about Writer’s Block. That’s something that still baffles me. There are times when I don’t want to write, but there isn’t a mechanism that kicks in under poor conditions where I am unable to do so. I hate to sound unsympathetic, but I’m already on record that I think Writer’s Block is bullshit.
No writer is ever unable to write. Writers become afraid to write poorly, choose not to write, and hide behind the idea of “Writer’s Block” because it bestows on them the title of writer without them having to do any work.
Before I met my mentor, Carey Harrison, I was one of those writers who stopped writing when everything that came out felt awful. It’s a shame I didn’t meet him earlier in my life because he taught me that I wouldn’t find my voice in my best writing. I wouldn’t even grasp the meaning of what my voice was in my best early writing. I found the thing that was unique to my voice in what I perceived to be my worst writing, the writing that when I mustered the bravery to offer it up for criticism to other professors was told, “It’s fine to experiment. So long as you don’t want to be rich.”
My best early writing was familiar to me, but not because it was written in my voice. The writing I was the least afraid to show others resembled what I’d read and admired, what I thought others would recognize as “as good” as something they’ve already read. Prior to finding my voice, my best work was a byproduct of reading more than invention.
Other than Carey, the second most influential writer in my life was a fellow student in my BFA program. Over the last decade I’ve tried to contact him via old information I find online and come up empty. I want to publish the piece he wrote for a workshop that was met with the same lack of enthusiasm as the “so long as you don’t want to be rich” crowd. I hope he’s still writing. I hope he realizes how brave and ingenious his piece is.
It’s written in Jamaican patois. I’d never seen English manipulated like that before. While listening the first time, as far as I knew this writer invented a way of talking that matched how he thought. It reminded me instantly of the shorthand I used when fleshing out stories, a language that made sense to me, but was translated into “writing” before I showed it to anyone. That one piece and the mentorship of Carey helped me realize that my voice was that shorthand, not the clumsy attempt to translate the shorthand into something that sounded like some other published author.
Québec is a personal piece, taken from my life but resembling it only in the emotions evoked in me. It resulted in something Carey dubbed wrightspeak, but I always thought of as menglish. Most of my efforts since graduating have been to domesticate my work so that it’s marketable, because although I don’t need my novels to make me rich, I would like to see them published. I still love this piece, and still remember what it was like to write the first draft, when the shorthand was allowed to be the story. For the first time in my writing what I saw on the page matched what I felt. That singular experience finally gave the expression “finding your voice” meaning.
y (ee) my Morning good.
the sun comes up slowly. pauses. she asks in a whisper if i’m ready for her. she, my Morning, has a voice like an angel in a paper dress, sheets of patterned vellum made elegant by the divine. she, mmm, is like a soothing doctor with a pleasant cool hand on my forehead; my tropical-like skin made nice and Morning.
“Yes. I’m ready.”
she draws the curtain back. sunlight in, hums and warms quiet. birds twitter into my room through slight crack at the window bottom, land on the end of my bed and sing awake me. eyes, mine, appear through the slightest fog as the feathered mingle with me on the shoulder exposed to Morning. i smile and reach out a hand just from the other shoulder still buried deep in the futon snug. my hand like a little-
yes, i hear the sing-song:
“chickadee, chickadee, chickadee-dee, chickadoo.”
-perch. tickles friendly. peck playfully at my hand landing, no pain, just familiar greeting Morning.
in return, i say,
“I chickadee-dee do.”
prance they up my arm and around my head, eyelids, brows, warbling like laughing. and i promise: get out of bed soon for you me.
little groan from me, more like “auwk, auwk” but the Chickadee-dee understand, spring to, do. titter back to the end of the bed singing as a few “auwk” and “auwk” more escape me.
y (ee) a still Morning good.
i rise, creep near the window and lookout. glistening silver lattice fencepost corners, walking time for the early, gram school kids spinning around tired parents with bang lunch boxes.
my shower is a Morning rain; nor too hot neither too cold. water playing my follicles like lyre golden, Orpheus if he was wearing the same calfskin dress with as much grace as my Morning with her Flights and lights.
mmm. y (ee) a good still Morning. chicka-sing-song. waterdee-dee-du.
suds on sweet, with cucumber and aloe, vitamin e, lanolin too. smells real nice, makes my skin whistle. shoo-schwoo with the shampoo, almonds and hemp seed oil, nicy(ee) nicy(ee). all those kitchen smells make me member, childhood and creekbeds, worn shoes in running water. hot summer days and plenty chicka-sing-song.
member i grandpa, and grandma too, their tough farm skin, hard-working southern skin, but nice to the touch. tested true. like mine this Morning do. suds off but sweet stay, member lather all day i dee-do. puff puff towel all over my new Morning skin. breathe deep, smile to myself in the mirror, see grandpa-ma in me.
mmm y (ee) i do.
sun stayed right there, just lounging on my futon while i was in the bathe. yoga salutation, one- two. quick nod and thoughtful “om” to the dee-do Chicks before i slip into my clothes and they out the window. we’ll meet up later. tomorrow latest.
fresh cleaned cotton, still warm from the mat last night late. all my favorites washed and ready to go-do. open door and stick a wet thumb in the air. not nor neither. just right. mmm. into cotton slacks, cotton t, nostick honey cotton sweatshirt and the big shoes. comfy. y (ee) my Morning good good still.
outside and moving towards Astoria coffee shoppe. caffeine friendly head waits patiently for the fix. day warmer than i expected and the honey gets sticky, too much shirt sweat and the big shoes be slipperied soon. walking, taking off honeyed cotton and tie waist around. nothing i can do about the big shoes. i’m feeling the y (ee) slipping.
i cry, “my (ee) my (ee).”
but it’s a nice day y (ee) i don’t mind working a little harder for it than usual. there’s just so much i can do though, out here, no chicka-sing-song for only me. angry and fast chestnut Flights zoom in and round AstoraQueens. my home, but not my house.
this but is how she my Morning begins most every theseday. she shakes off tiny fragments of onetime dust. bleeding clay i try but to remember days of rosy blood, when more than she my Morning woke me.
Manhattan, West 12th-off-Washington
rosy blood days there were giggles and dark spun hair like silks, smell coffee beans, my Moresmile next to me or close by. know i she would be up and grinding the day to a life easier. memory now alone, though that she is out there, moving in circles, head back, arms out and in-linked as if there were an enormous barrel between her breasts and hitched hands. thoughts mine past remember: angular body hers, vicious wiles, sharp muscles. all the time she, never not fresh in mind. a light fog, but Moresmile memories play out like presents.
years ago she is up early to look for the lowercase morning. years and a day ago i see before sleep there is just enough smell coffee for one pot more. i take it in a small clear bag and tuck it under my pillow before Moresmile and i go to sleep. she wakes, not knowing my little trick secret, creeps quiet to a deadbolt door and no key. no smell coffee; no unlock to be found; trapped in with me and my sleepshow. she shakes me slight.
“Sam? Are you awake? The deadbolt is locked.”
yes. i know.
“Sam? Did you lock the deadbolt last night?”
“What?” through the thin show, “Jesus. What time is it?”
“It’s seven. Sam, we’re out of coffee.”
“We’re out of coffee.”
“Go get some then.”
“I will, but the door is locked.”
“Unlock it then.”
“It’s the deadbolt, and I can’t find the key.”
“What’d you lock the deadbolt for?”
“I didn’t. Where did you put the key?”
i roll over smiling the too much fun. “It’s not locked is it?”
“Where did you put it Sam?”
Moresmile leans over me, cracking, gives me a few warm pebbles to drop into the snow. kiss kiss. “Where did you put the key Sam?”
“Under the coffee.”
“Give it to me.”
the alarm cockledoos. Moresmile jumps to snooze-slap. i intercept her air and pull her back into down and pillows. Moresmile drops a few more pebbles and finds my little bag of smell coffee and a dull key to an old door. leaves me the old dull as spring she to to her kitchen feet. a few breaths and i hear the grind, smell deep but not as close to my head anymore.
that morning is coffee in bed, canceled appointments, sex races with screaming laughter. too happy with Moresmile so the deadbolt untouched until years ago minus a day, when the smell coffee was really lacking.
a thousand mornings never brought back Moresmile, but in time and unbegged for i was greeted by my Morning. up to get got for good this time. No turnback to to sleep. regret is forever without love. the light never goes out. all my playback is projection of missed Moresmile. that hair really tied me up.
but untie the ends and nothing falls out. no tears for my Morning ever presents. i am already outside waiting for me. my Morning jogs in place and waits for the present present to catch up to a pastless dreamday. my head mine is weightless. i take it off my shoulders and set it on the ground by my feet, until there is only a vacant space there i was before. Morning pats then kisses the neckstump, leans down to retrieveandplace the head after letting all but the eyes evaporate. so i remain vacant. my Morning loves that. the past and Moresmile are for the moment safely vapor.
yes yes. dayrise mine with my Morning. i motion, feel the eyes breathe into a nod hollow and allow them to giggle using my mouth. giggle.
the Flights are back with my guffaw cawl. and don’t they but seem to notice that my head has been Morning made: a balloon. perhaps i could fly with them in present my kilter. perhaps we could australia together, hold together our delicates and titter. they titter-do. i think to giggle back but that only reconstitutes the bits my Morning has so freed.
damn it. even a giggle is a terrible invitation for the thought and pastplague. the plague comes back without subpoena; amorphous past evolving into a constant present illogically grander in scale than the pieces that went into making it. the Flights alight. all but one chestnut beau. he’s no tattle tail, although all his winged kin rush off to mother Morning-
“he’s thinking again, again, again.” this, of course, is paraphrase.
the rear guard Flight prances his flitter up to my shoulder and tickles my ear with chirp crumbles. i ask him to peck out my there, but my Flight is not about it and i am pulled straight down, through my knees, to another damn Moresmile memory. giggle bitch.
vacationtime is not a reality all its own. Moresmile and i are not familiars enough to brave a tenday, but here we nestle just at the tender feet of Appalachians mount. deer but crossed as i mild swerved to come comfort stop. a benign trailhead with deer feet and look back.
“Let’s follow her Sam. Down that trail.”
lets. in an hour stride warm day, deer gone. forgotten a motivation. she is under a waterfall, waving at me in a bathing suit with the other hand extended into the current falling down. i see a pond reverberating and lapping the spray of fall water. i am up to my chest; she a bouncy figure from rock to rackled rock. this is chaos water, spraying wings and flit-tittering down, the revolving space there. i see her and i lose her. i but am lost with the eyes focus. i am partially submerged and do not know myself from the chest down. she is a water nymph. i a head and shoulders floating lily pad.
“Sam? What are you doing? You look like you’re about to fall asleep.”
“Weren’t you just under the falls?”
“Twenty minutes ago, waiting for you to come over.”
waiting. up she still so. these ideas of mine don’t work for her. waiting. she glistens, smiles, wades out to my lily torso. my legs and chestdown have sunk to the bottom. my lily sees below, the rest of the body a fish, flap-happiling around with his new fish friends. a headless flipping fish chestdown, darting with tiny schools and my lily doesn’t seem to know how to call him back.
“Sam, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing. Tired I think is all.”
“Come out of the water. You’re scaring me.”
“You look out of it Sam. That water is deeper than you might realize.”
“Are you ready to go?”
“Let’s get you clear of here.”
i look back down to find my lost body mermade. i think to it, my lily begs it to return. it flap-happilies up back to me as Moresmile wades further to pull us both back onto shore. she is wearing a bikini today and this is new to me, top with a pair of nylon shorts. rugged and sensualistic. i’d like to pull us both down to the schools below, to breathe in fall water and stare up at magnified sunshine. sun, spread out and rippled by our fish gaze. huge sun. crackling watercolor sun. Helios blowing air bubbles for us to breathe light. hard to want the air there before after sun god sighs.
“Come out of the water okay?”
“Are we leaving?”
“Yeah. I think it’s time to.”
“Okay. I could probably use a nap. Do you mind driving for awhile?”
i pull water heavied muscles towards Moresmile as she hints a face worried, before the back heads outward the park. the look i stops me still in ankles. she turns when my hand in hers linksnaps. she walks slowly. in the water our ankles meet. i touch her waist. she moves my hands to both sides of her face. she whispers, but i don’t understand. her stomach tightens, shimmers. there. an enormous womb, a birth ocean i will first drown then breathe in. soon. for now i am an estuary.
just a little salt with the pressing of tongues. another tug water away. she really wants me out of here. my eyes go black as a Flight pecks me back to present present.
“too much,” he would titter if he could more than, “chirp.” i rub my head thankfully on his. he seems to bend his beak in Flightsmile, but that is a silly mine illusion. his little heads jerks friendly and inquisitive.
exhale the past.
my landlord is asleep, two floors up. but there’s no way of proving that. i don’t know where my today went. Flight woke me but from a few steps the Morning door, and then a later afternoon bleating into a lowercase night.
yes, caselower. so far only my Morning makes it personal. perhapses on Afternoon or Night, but neither so far that i’m aware. they could be unconscious friendlies, wanting to recognized be. it still amazes that out of all those drops of unknown my Morning stood out surfaced. what’s more distinguishable
but that’s only my human grasp of inliquifinity. after all the unconscious is measurable. like stars.
i loose my grip after five briefs of one, two, three, four. they’re stars. what do they want from me? i got a good mindeye, but christ, “One, two, three, four- Shit. Did I count that one already?”
i can’t get out of Draco and Littledipper is giving me minor Ursals. what can i count of the celestial, outer or inner? i crunch down on the egg pastshells, tipping toe to try and get the stars right. at least more than five. i need a toe bone in my nose to smell where i step.
down here, there’s the bright shiny chaos beautiful. yes. the score Henry. but not a song. one must sing sometimes i agree, even if it is only words and no sound. so no Afternoon or Night. okay. Morning is the best place to start anyway.
Manhattan, West 30’s
Jeremy. has been talking lately. of things.
“Take care of that Sam. You really should. It’s not funny anymore, all this partying. You’re not in high school anymore my friend.”
for another of our high school friends but married last week.
“You know Sam, there are only a few of us left.”
“I know J. They’re dropping like flies.”
“That’s better. No use moping forever about her.”
“One thing has nothing to do with the other J.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Yeah, I don’t call you S for fucksake.”
“Nice. I know why you’re not married fuckmouth.”
at the caff Jeremy takes his coffee for granted. we, the world and i, admire him. he is a sensation. he gives life to inanimate objects by having no real interest in them. the room and its elements are extensions of his body. his suit doesn’t need him, but is thankful. i want to run my hands down either side of his inseam.
a woman enters in supernatural dress, liquid movement of flesh and fabricc, solid deepening blue that hoards breasts like beads of rain on the tip of a well oiled finger. black heeled shoes with straps writhe around drunken snake ankles. she rotates her head and a wisp of hair drops in front of her eyes. she orders a latte.
“There’s your reason I’m not married Sam. Something that rich? You can’t resist it, but you sure can’t eat it everyday.”
the cashier takes her money. he has a ring through his eyebrow and pale skin. his shirt is too small, and reveals tight muscles and the strict adherence of (to) a coffee and cigarette diet.
“Go on J. No apologies. You and that suit are a walking hard on.”
“It’s not criminal is it? Just because all you do is drink anymore-”
“Forget it J. Go hunt. I’ll catch up with you later this week.”
hand clap on my shoulder, any argument dis-J-mounted by the rapid blood flow to his central heating unit. we are best ofs now, so long as i am satisfied with,
“Right Sammy. Cheer up man. Forget about her.”
“Right J.” and Jeremy slithers to the liquid, not hearing my soft, “prick,” as i exit, less coffee.
outside another woman sits perched on a park bench. she watches as if she expects me to jump at her. she smiles and digs through a purse. i expect a gun and walk on.
in a few steps, i cup the thin air into my hands and bring it to my mouth like water. the cold day on the tip of my nose makes me laugh. i forgive. for a moment.
but now my head is splitting. last night Barpatron said she wanted a fuck in the hallway to the bathroom.
she vodka breathes heavily in my ear with her arms around my neck.
“Not in front of a crowd, but maybe if-”
“You don’t really want it.”
“Of course I do. Let’s go to your place.”
yanks her arms from around my shoulders and pushes gloom dejection into the ladies room. i grab the door before it comclosesplete.
inside lights are peculiar eyes on her. she ignores me just enough to let me know she’s glad took i the bait. the show includes concerned hair and re-apps of the marykay cosmos. a little cokedive in the purse with a measured no offer. bright now eyes. imaginary wrinkles to do on a handpat sides of tranquil little dress black. fabricc snaps quiet on drugtight skin, ribbly stomach like a semper fi mattress. she but would make loose change projectiles. the little black tight alright, but just on this side of classic sexy.
i’ve waited her out.
“What did you follow me in here for?”
“Don’t treat me like that. We just met.”
save the abuse for better knowns.
“Are you embarrassed?”
“Should I be?”
should we? i can tell things are working but shouldn’t.
she leans sinkover, inspects her there. i door by, hand think to turn. wince. this is too far from Moresmile lives. this sad is no present, but a fretted futurepast. my eyes begin the memory daze as i turn to escape myself. Shebar looks over me not shelooking, says,
“Isn’t there a lock on the door?”
isn’t there. look down i destroyed. yes. there is. effective slidshot open as it will be after-
-to keep out better judgment mine. the love i is beyond the lock, waiting but not disappointed. my Morning will have plenty to say about this. there’s no come over here needed now. we crash together the desperate, angry enough to enjoy the hate inside.
“What’s your name,” ask i.
“It used to be that simple,” she laughs bitter. word toughs, but body piranha conscious, wrapped with mine on a fear thin raft in the midst violent of our marble press jarring sex.
“No really,” i persist.
“Funny. Mine’s Sam too.”
i don’t say anything that after. we find a spot enough, though can’t bring ourselves to prop the john. walls and sink only. we’re civilized for that. when we surface, no one looks up. it’s a nightslow juke drone behind a tvbleacher backdrop. a desert. we stare unsure.
“Do you want to come back to my place Sam?”
“You don’t have to offer.”
she walks door through and i puppy follow with the no thought to. her elbows are up thinking through her purse. she corners a cab and leaves the door open. all this without looking back at me. no words. i in climb and speed away to inknown liedowns. the escape drink will wake us. think it we both know this is mistaking. our threads bare to the fresh impulse already. waking it will be rough and primitive in a public sink. while in this moment the thread still wants to be love(d).
present present i am overstranded on the eighth floor above a crowded street. a million lives move past, dart, and i feel straight up through the drop ceiling, the crucial. the mass slip, flip fish fins. a thousand speeding stars give constant sun impressions. a sad nod of Atman and Brahman. a million individuals. one soul.
that’s a spin off way of thinking. what were my first instincts about the eighth floor? there’s no telling. Barbara is at me again about thisandthat. that i should know which. i should, sincerely believe. but i can’t be bothered be on this eight flights up. i miss my winged friend Flights and Morning.
“Babs needs to see you when she gets back from lunch.”
“From lunch is it? It’s three fifteen.”
“Watch your step Sam.”
fair enough. soon enough. need i to focus out of the unusual commute this dayrise. her name was Karen. i checked her wallet while she in the bathroom savored, solitude most probably. we spent the night on lifeboats and no she mind when the Karen slipped out.
“I would have told you eventually.”
want i to ask why, but it seemed but a sniffle, with us bent spoons rocking slight, tack and tepid forth on the few slivers of- not peace. an injection of relief for the few hours it took the spin cycle.
but with this think, i am beating myself with a numb arm and a blindfold on. the kiss not a kiss in itself. not the good ones remember i. the push me to believe kisses kiss. times i mistake targets for the passage of arrows. blood up believes in the ideas of tomorrow. dizzy corpuscles pass over the haveandnothemingway; one arm stumpy secret revealed dead end. nice day for it though.
the weather is wonderful. outside, below my window, fatted squirrels chase each other around trees. they are furious, driven, and i cheer waitfully for them to tear each other to shreds.
an old woman bends over to retrieve something at her feet. she must have forgotten by now what it is. to me, from here, i could swear it was a piece of trash and not money, not a picture of the man who widowed her, not an old handkerchief. nothing worth the pressure on old creaking vertebrae or the loss of time she could spend coughing and straining over a newspaper.
spleen for the elderly. sometimes sucker memories are a public mine service. the truly old woman is glad hair, grey spindles that can’t but bring hair Moresmile thoughts. a few way inches, the elder trieves; a piece of litter; a pollution too close to her morning bench. looks but up at window mine as a pitying smile drops the refuse into a tinyslight better world. point taken. ablutions. faintly she reconsiders her usual prop and benches on, giving a penance nod of head hers to my eight floors up; one that says: keep to your Moresmile memories.
Manhattan, Saint Mark’s
The first we meet, Moresmile wears a thin silver bracelet, clinks to the wooden bar, tinks to the glass her drink down. tink. tink-clink. each clink-tink jolts through me. she’s smiles. i feel a begger, but Moresmile thumps melons mine grocer. what’s i like? clink. tink. she but puts at ease me. she is not that intimidating pure happy. the smiles come but there’s more travel there too. there’s enough life antsy to agree to a blind and comfort alone, but she’s still livingandbreathing. after an age you want a second head pillowed some nights. dreams don’t fill up the bed.
“So. What do you do, for a living I mean?”
“What a dull question Sam. Don’t you mean: Do I like my job? Was it a first choice? Is my every day filled with plans for the future?”
“Well no. Just what do you do?”
“What don’t you do Sam?”
“Just what I said. What don’t you do?”
“That I wish I did?”
“I don’t understand the question.”
“Yes you do.”
“What don’t you do?”
“I don’t usually drink. See? Easy enough. What don’t you do Sam?”
“I don’t usually meet anyone in here.”
“Okay. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast.”
“I don’t usually eat breakfast.”
“I don’t straighten my hair.”
“I don’t floss enough.”
“I don’t sing in the shower.”
“Never once Sam.”
“I don’t call my boss by her first name.”
“I don’t like cashews.”
“I don’t like this bar.”
“Why are you here then?”
“I don’t want to leave yet.”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to sleep alone tonight.”
the air stills. the last sound a punch sucker with me not sure why i rounded the house. think but i’ve said too much, but Moresmile,
“That didn’t take much to unearth.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t usually blurt things like that out. I think I’ve had too much to drink again.”
Moresmile hands run along the sides, tiny sharp indentations in the bar. i stand. i don’t know why. i almost speak and don’t. she stands, faces me. i am coiled into the floor, balancing on knees driven through feet i don’t feel anymore.
“If we stand here too long Sam, you might lose your nerve.”
Charleston, South Carolina
we the road on. a rising ocean sense melts into each building, park, cobblestone. wander we round White Point Gardens, west towards Murray Boulevard, past rainbows of eighteenth century homes, up Ashley onto the perimeter of Colonial Lake. the air thick with smell harbor. towards the shipyards; the sandier roads, stick to skin. palms sigh, shake bowed heads side aside. evening blows kisses at dusk, sighing, filling me with storm sense. doesn’t come. come swarms of locusts, palmetto bugs, just so long as the palms stop sighing and water from heavens returns sand to sea.
we make our way. it’s hot less than noon. the sun is only out to play for another hour. perhaps a more bite, but ours, playmate for now.
running is a lonesmile that tilts corners, drink, and lights into our mouths. running is a perfect, waiting for us. the world comes in, one frame at a time; each passerby the history of movement, a point in ourandtheir time. hisandher time. a flash for the both of us, taking theys away and back to the self hope. our plodding faith in steps unite us in motion.
i bend down and touch the ground with palms. the asphalt breathes to my touch. people on the sidewalk don’t seem as they tiptoe round moments here. everything is orchestrated: the movement of people, the scent harbor, the shadowstretch from benches slim trees. a few joggers more than Moresmile and i. bicyclists moving along circuit to meet market, cannon, and sea shudder down. stare i on King and Queen corner, face down. the sidewalk a featherbed. the mosaic old moviehouse tile block to hum smellsounds. kiss kiss Queen Street. little golden nameplate tastes. kiss kiss Atlantic Ocean. palmetto pleasing. kiss kiss Charleston. sweat swimming light-headed euphoria. kiss kiss. even awkwardness is comfortable in my feet hesitant.
“You have a cramp or something Sam?”
yes. the constant endearment terms. my name made command; gistless.
“Sam? Are you okay?”
jogs she in place, looks onandon, not here but ahead with moments to come. the breeze follows her gaze, an eye-desire, the panic of happy a tenuous.
“I’m a little dehydrated I think. You go on ahead. I’ll make it back alright on my own.”
“To the hotel? Sam, the point wasn’t the run, but to spend time together.”
it’s a frail on her part. look i down to her padding feet, up and down, up and down, soles tack taken, volley themselves and the whining eye. they and she want the harbor now, the cannons near, the splash power of an ocean at her feet. her point was the run.
“I’ll see you in an hour or two. No use pitching your run because I’m tired. I’ll rest up and be better company tonight when you get back.”
“Yeah sure. Run.”
the world is indeed period.
she running ignores fleeting moments melancholy. Moresmile bears no grudge or resemblance to Lot’s wife. think i to wait for her safely away, but only a headback. no worries of concern. look i to my own digits, embrace my slice of King. in and ex hale. mine not my own.
i break into my desire sprint, back hotel the way. a three minute. slumped body mine, the sweat, the stride accent conversion; day to night. i am buried in the slow moment, gladly. body speaks for the pester-wind, trudges give voice to the palms like hands coming together in imitation applause silent. and smile. in the side, all i can is curl to a bedded ball. i and the mind drift where: she smiles. she is happily run. i resent her immunity to dusk. she but is immune to most things that soul sneeze me. her allergies are a mystery. sometimes a breakdown to knee collapse, but leave i no better informed and wonder if she walks with much more. things get to Moresmile. not dusk, but other parts of the days between, other words that spill, other news, smells.
i don’t learn. mine internal war; the battles contrived, unnecessary, lost.
when i am a very old man i will remember watching her brush her teeth. it was a more specific frozen moment. my frozen didn’t know why, but the bris-brush to attention mouth telling not so delicate hands to do a not so delicate thing. bris-brush forth and back, bris-brish, brush-brush. riveting.
there were two Moresmiles in my viewfinder, one directly in through the eye and one a reflection in the bris-bris mirror. i didn’t know why. i still don’t today. it was notconscious, to step back and watch such a simple thing. it thawed me, eyes warm coals seeking ground through scalded snow. she, my Moresmile, was brushing and burning light. i was aquatic crisp toasted time living in my Moresmile motion. she let me stare never wavering, really enjoying the cool brush-bris, turning with lip smacks of fresh teeth to take a biting smile out of me.
never loved anyone more than that instant. she was never more Moresmile to me than in that short sweet performance to a mirror and me, me still and loveanxious, waiting for her decorous jaws to spread wide and devour me. start with the neck my dear and forage what blood you might have left there. take every last drop.
dream turns a birthday party childhood six. little first grade friends mine. i feel and friends seem: strange. what does it mean to be six? what had it meant to be five? i a kid still a kid. am i looking forward to being six? do i feel older? my mother must be proud of me. for turning six? that’s crazy. marshmallow icing. pin the tail on the donkey. someone spin me around. give me a needle. let me do some damage. i’m seven. i’m eight. nine. seventeen cake and candles. twenty. maybe two three. no thirty. let me try a hundred seventy. just cake the bring in and bury my face to the earbacks. let me eat cake for one more year.
hush little baby. don’t say a word. mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. if that mockingbird don’t sing, think i of Salieri. no there comfort. Mozart is already dead with no hand i in it. pale skin degenerates. hair and nails push deeped into six feet soil. no hand i to it. just one raindrop deluge and lines dissolve, shake a little as body becomes compost, feed for growing children. the child grows from my hands from days ago dig dirt palms.
baby present. a cloud-staring day turnpike. the swampy surroundings of New Jersey. the glow of the perpetual dawn. perception. concrete forest. deadening human silence amid horns buzzing streetlights. rusted cars move in and out of themselves as we descend the tenday. any ending but would be untrue. memory locked in a perpetual youth, wrapped inside fantasies.
something happens for everything lost, dozens of potential lines, chapters even, sweep past as i saunter. i was there when the waves were harder and more distinct. things like that tickle and it’s automatic to look for Moresmile then. she but is watching while i the exist out, the shake of the mind panning. i can see her forever, hers, and no mystery to be. my forever is more mystery, a cloud to her seashine. deep as the ifeels these are only superficial elevations of the flesh, psychic the pimple’s goose, the laughter of gulls, ears ringing for a call to splash me out of the clinch.
some nights Moresmile comes to tell me of a life don’t i know. always as if a return, though never material. they are visits, stolen moments from her sleeping Newsmile. she doesn’t know she’s never me allowed to sleep complete. sometimes she fidgets and say i,
“You have to go back to him?”
“I am with him. You have to go back.”
“No. Should I go.”
“I’ll never ask.”
“You’ll never stop my indulge here. and what am I left with but-”
“It’s not tragic Sam. I come to no tragic. to comfort, but we’re spilling over.”
“You come to talk about-”
“No. the testimonies Sam. look at them lyclose.”
“I don’t have to.”
“Of course you don’t. I can keep coming here forever. What’s the parade and plea for though Sam? Morning is never where the poet’s skin winter cracks. no blood or roses. no nonsense.”
in my dream the waterfront steps back to King Street. we’re all going back. the harbor is behind us, behind the safe railings of waterfront walkways, the world-collecting feet moving out to sea and back to the edge of toes forth. tense little piggies squaw to the ocean chill through spine. you can hear wind and bay communion; a two focused but deeper and let go. the horizon grows lips to disrupt the hypnosis, swallows the world by taking its light.
inside the godfish. world mine no smaller for being a bellyful of dream. the wind still. i still. passengers gather me by the armpits. the fishgod grumbles as the sun inside sets me slumped against the waves.
come together, we are submerged on dry land. dogs walk their owners. palms point the way wind. everyone smells the ocean tempt to paddle out. but yes we’re back. we are that sound, of somehow waves rustling in the bellyfish. godfish wants the world to want. we don’t want. we have everything here and the safety of scales. old streets grow deeper into the ground. thought and memory dive through thick stone.
it is all a fish trek trick. augurs clown and we laugh as the scales fall away, giving us back to our old familiar horizon, our setsun, our harborsound. the godfish flickers out of sight, ploomps below again, leaves our vision slightly more clear and slightly less ours. we fishbreathe and return to earth through sub conduits, echo into past and freeze for memoried connects to present present.
i am only a thread and drownsmiling.
the smell coffee is strong. it has been raining all morning. i am scratching at the locks with my fingernails. i would sacrifice my teeth to be free. not but from my Newfound cheeks, gravity’s answer to skip yesterdays. not a cure or a different strain; the kitchen.
yes. there she is. Professor Cheekbones, even one night after, la profesora. bottle an open chiseled chin, beautiful ferocious. Rodin features. the Hand Of God pale cried marble; found art in human form. and i besides can see the ribbons in my own arms and white naked torso, bedpropped. things which all surround art become beautiful periphery. i no different. nice.
“How do you take it?”
“You look worried.”
“Just surprised to be here.”
“I thought you might be. What were you waiting for?”
“The semester to end.”
“Were you going to show up in my office on one knee or with flowers?”
“I hadn’t decided yet. I was waiting to see if the figure of authority was what was doing it for me.”
“Yes, a little. You’re- Still, the mentor to me.”
“That’s less about me than you.”
“I need you to be the mentor for now.”
“That I am, for now.”
>>perhaps<< when you are at one with the world there is no such thing as unrequited love. recognition is superfluous. Moresmile is longgone, Professor Cheekbones coffee cradles and rubs feet together at bed bottom. i could tell her everything. my Morning somewhere laughs what a silly feeling and says,
there is no longgone Sam anymore than Cheekbones are forever or present feet will but not roll under fallen house shoestolen. vain dreams are a laugh pat, Pet, and a pleasure to mirror. little shoes to step around almost everything but Dorothy and the coming of light mine.
“You’ve got something in there.” Cheekbones taps my temple and rests a hand on my chest.
“No. Not today.”
“I won’t be a mentor forever Sam.”
ah, but the words are coming; a smiling typhoon.
“I’ll be a student forever though.”
“If you’re lucky.”
the smell coffee sips and Moresmile memories stand in unison, no turnaway, no selective focus or lazetopast. sharp lines. clear thoughts.
i am the present present. Cheekbones finger tickles where the past knew but little chestnut dreams. my friends the Flights stand the windowstill, Cheekbones smiles to the question churps. they are used to my routine, kamble and kerp to expect me there. why here? i can hear them thinking.
because she wrote a little note. i wrote back. a little insignificant exchange took place. i thought about being a kid again and passing notes, but only a second. then it was a beaming face framed virtuous veil. i looked and didn’t understand. she was beautiful and caught i staring.
“Do you have plans today?”
“None worth keeping.”
living is ready made. every thought a pirouette.
a meditation technique taught over the course of a silent 10-day retreat.
it’s the people who try hard to forget who go the farthest later to remember.
An agoraphobic woman spends decades of her life expanding her already enormous home.