Edge

Prologue

Here is the law, here is the windshield. Open it up, and see all them PHYSICS.
Them bones them bones them–hard facts.
I.

Flying into a windshield, bouncing down to the ground.
Seeing dripping red, dripping, seething red. Rocking back and forth.

Spilled the water, broke the pitcher. Spent minutes paralyzed and many more weeping, worried about myself until the universe gave me a good shock, something to reel me outside of myself, and my worried weeping over water on the wooden floor. A friend is shouting in my ear nonsensically from New York as I am about to swallow a pill.

I noticed the tree, its bigness, my littleness, for the first time that night. Babbling to a friend down Old Milwaukee Avenue. Babbling to him, too–before I gave him a push. It’s physics, see. Dead man swings into me, and I send it to someone else, the live man who would have stood beside me but I took one look and knocked him to the ground.

Hysterical streaming, breathing, reminding myself to breathe. I furrow my brow at the underlined words in the greeting card I’ve received many times and shudder to think I might get it again… but how much have I left to lose? How many more cars? How many more contusions?

But never again another man until another man buys a rope. This time – next time – it will only knock me down and not the one beside me. I’ve walked away from the Domino stack, leaving a blank space, sending last-minute regrets.

II.

The trouble with technology is how easy I can relive those breaking moments and I do, again and again. Keep myself perpetually on an edge. Forget and feel an uneasy calm til something, some fuzzy reminder, reels me back into it. Then I look, and puke.

And I’m breaking again.

It could go on forever, like some terrible made-for-TV movie rerun, re-run. I have lost forever my right to run by very little fault of my own–or maybe…

See I recall writing a little fantasy, an ending to my sorrow. It was going to swallow me. I wanted it to. Being in the hot mouth of the dragon was too stressful. I was ready to be burned in the belly, to be digested and shat out and scattered. The unholy but too true way.

Sitting at pitiful cafe where the cupcakes were only okay, loading up on cold press and trucking these bleak thoughts. Like rats they chewed my wires. I let them. I let it all.

I even pictured it – before it went down – I pictured it gruesome, but quick.

It was gruesome.

[And the chances I had! The opportunities! They were rich, ripe, ready for me, but I closed myself off I could not taste. I shut my eyes to all of it. Squinted, looked the other way, feigned oblivion, lay prostrate and helpless. I sat on my ass and stared into space and saw nothing until it had passed.

Every shot. I heard nothing but now I know what I missed.

More than a man.
Ever so much bigger.
Ever so much brighter.

So my gloom is twice as galling.]

III.

My edges are scary they are yours. That is what frightens me about them. I’m a square among many, I’m but one on a whole page of perforated squares, SHARING EDGES.

So when you folded
and tore yourself away

we all SCREAMED

we screamed as if our arms and legs were being ripped from us.

Maybe you did not see what I see: that you too are one square on an infinite sheet of squares, sharing your edges, and when you folded, silently, along the perforated lines, and tore yourself out of the page, you stole some of our edges and left a vacant square, so all the cold could get in, and all. The night, and all. I know you saw it.

I dreamed of you and forgave you, thinking you’d reneged and come back. But opened my eyes and opened the book and saw the page with the square missing.

YOU CAN’T RENEGE.
AND I CAN’T RUN ANYMORE.

Ice cream man comes to save the day
and I SCREAM
but cannot run.

The dragons have left me behind.
Afterword

Is it a simple physical disability

but no, it’s tied to a thousand disappointments–it’s greater than what my feet can’t, legs can’t do, it goes back to the quiet nervousness that always there.

Not from some broken home or childhood trauma – though, leaving childhood was itself a kind of trauma – but a sense of something out of place, a disturbed feng shui, or one never actualized.

It’s the pattern, it’s disturbing, it’s the images of broken glass and exposed bone, it’s the reverb of pathetic moaning – my own – and frantic screams, breathless, automatic, is that me?

Or maybe more that too much loss all at once is like a bucket of cold water thrown on you in an ice storm. You stand still for a long time. You’re certain you will die and you want to.

The good news is, we all get to.

Perhaps that’s too morbid for this night, this cause, this expedition. I set out to find edges and be assured of their smoothness. Only they are jagged in places, blurred in others, ill-defined where I most need assurance of their firmness. I want unwavering edges, neatly drawn borders, lines, lines, lines! And corners.

 

 

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The Half-finished Love Song of Sure You Can Call Me J. Alfred Prufrock (Working Title)

I spent half an eternity inside a line of T.S. Eliot.
I dirtied all the coffee spoons.
I cleaned them one by one. Only
to dirty them again, like Sisyphus.

I wandered between rooms, I came and went, talking of
Maya Angelou
more so than Michelangelo,
talking of red rocks and prickly juniper, scuttling
like a five-legged spider with a view of the saddle mesa worth
living for.

I lived in a thicket of paradox.
I called it my Indigo In-Between,
where I entertained
my own hundred indecisions and their thousand attendant vices.
I lived there, in the bare,
musty ice-chest of inaction, idling.

Ever idling.
Could not commit to a damn thing.

To eat, or not to eat a peach?
To bring
the roving eyes all over the room
to a single
fixed
point
upon my person,
or dodge their every glance at any cost?
To gain weight and pull the batteries out of my scale,
or resume worship at the altar of self-cancellation?

To chime in, or leave the decisions to the ones so at ease with power?
(To chime in, or leave the decisions to the ones standing guard snarling over their lion’s share of power?)
To let out my bellows of political discontent, or snuff out the indignation by any means available?

Mom has an answer. Snuff it out!
Repress! Deny! “Don’t rock the boat.”
Verbatim, that quote.

Perhaps I will become my mother, for whom, at some
unknown point,
taking charge became too hard. Decision-making dizzies her.
Too etherized to care, to dare, she nuzzles into apathy like it’s a fuzzy blue housecoat.
Perhaps her survival is hinged on her denial.


Nine years ago I stood paralyzed in the threshold
between a lit room and a darkened hallway,
in the drastic, 
screeching silence of an emptied house. I stared
at the dull yellow light scattered around my shadow, debating my dares.

Do I dare
throw myself down the stairs?
Or swallow a pill?
Do I dare creep over the window sill?

I watched my slumping silhouette, so deadly still
against the incandescence that spilled cold and disinterested across the grayish carpet
carelessly,
and wondered.
Do I dare.

Do I dare walk out the door?
Do I dare move a muscle?
Or do I dare exhale? This breath,
this stale suicideation I’ve been holding,
blue in the heart,
do I dare
let go
this only thing I know?


Nine years ago, the only thing I knew. How to be blue. How to shrink from daring. How to hide out and nurse
self-doubt until it was twice my size.

Wishing I could be anyone
other than myself, who was obviously worthless.

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.


Written by Marianne Baum, with thanks to T.S. Eliot and Abra Fortune Chernik.

Houses in motion in ruin.

Yes I should write a yes I should write a, we should shine a, I mean I should start a, we should make a FORT and eat these bananas before you-know-what!

We will sit in our undies having macaroons and argue about a lyric in a song that no one ever liked anyway. I will live on the moon live off the grid live off the fat of the live off the land live on peanuts live from New York it’s not Saturday night.

Still I ride.

I am always in motion, I am houses in motion, but sometimes I do it electronically and then it’s emotion. Bad joke. Poor form.

Definitely out of practice putting words into lyrical arrangements. These sands are staying the same and I am pretend-stoic, pretend-to-forget. Pretend-me-not. Remember what? I have reminded myself to forget to remember which is as good as forgetting for real. For real for real.

I do however remember circulations and cakes delivered all over the city and a lot of hills and grumbling. Much much better off, the way things are. At least, one of us is. That much can comfort me, coldly. Textures, scents, sounds forgotten. Only watery eyes and a missed opportunity. Oh so many of those, eyes, eyes, EYES! I would run out of fingers and toes if I tried to count. I’d have to go to Wendy’s for more finger chili. Better than five-alarm.

I am not feeling the poesy I am feeling poorly and in need of a large glass of sparkling water with a lemon slice. I watched the hands on the clock play an intricate game of hopscotch and missed my opportunity to fetch some sparkle-water from the neighborhood co-op. Damn, missing opportunities all over the place here. Eyes and opportunities.

Yours or mine? Ours? Something has been lost, I have missed something. Something has gone missing, I have lost something. It is long long lost it is long long past. Oh so long ago lost it’s as good as gone, it’s oolong lost. We should have a we should get a we should catch up we should meet for we should we won’t I won’t ask. I won’t ask him to do something he clearly doesn’t have room for in his a) life b) schedule c) I’m making uneducated assumptions I don’t care d) June 25. Forget everything between now and then and everything will be fine. Just stay up all night like the song whose lyrics we have forgotten so we make them up. “My nose was trying to reach you at your brother’s.” Like that, exactly.

I couldn’t reach you if I tried. The sand is stone, the world just stones, see? Listen. You can hear the sighs and someone says “soon” off in the desert with only laughter and the night and a lifetime of little disappointments, if you allow. A lot of regrettable irrevocables.

A lot of words and stones and bones and dead batteries. That’s what. But what. What can I do? I can has agency. I can and I sit up, I read the book rip the pages oops and I stop buying bananas. They always rot. They ALWAYS seem like a good idea, and then I go for it and then they rot.

Clearly, I’ve been hanging out on the D end of the Creation/Destruction continuum. But count me in for dioramas, singing lessons, bike camping and some incredibly nerdy plans I just hatched.

Highway is for gambling on influence.

That it would have turned out any other way, that I would have sung any other song or turned down any other lane. It seemed possible, then, of course, butyouknow, it was always secretly set. Like a jewel or a fancy F-word. Fucking foreordained, that’s right.

I don’t know why that would bother, but I am bothering to be bothered. By so many naps and bad songs that flew through my head on that long, long, long ride from there back to here. They were like mosquitoes and noseeums only they did not bounce off my brow on the sweaty long long long ride they got through my skull bounced around inside did their dance and went on their way. So. Many. Bad. Songs.

So to get to the point, point pleasant, points near far and middling. If I could go to Halifax I’d probably find it as good or better than any afterlife, any of the options available. If it were 150 years ago I’d be questioned, judged for saying so but there’s no harm now in speaking my mind. Some say that heaven is hell, and some that hell is heaven, and I say to hell with heaven or hell, I’ll be in Halifax or nowhere at all. Point Pleasant Park it shall be. Violets and Dickens. Still redheaded, sadly.

I have started to bemoan more than I have time to change, more than I can change, more than’s in my control and that’s a shame.  I won’t change a thing, you won’t change a thing, for me, for me… Yeah good song, yeah good pedaling power and fine feathers and better even are the petals collected after they’ve been soaked in the afternoon rain. The rain brings out their scent and their color and I walk around with a sprig of lilacs for my vice rather than a cigarette. It’s sort of working. It’s working well enough. Now to decide: Halifax or simple sleep. It’s not the same as purgatory.

Think of all those petticoats! What a gas. What a sexist, racist, homophobic world we live in. Ah, well. That much hasn’t changed much, but then I think, well, but we have birth control! That trumps all. But it’s all this hormonal fuck-with-the-fishes fuck-with-your-emotions give-you-a-stroke kind of control and it’s all on women to use it, pay for it, suffer the side effects.

“If women were allowed to vote, we should soon see a blessed change,” said the good Mrs. Rachel Lynde. Was she correct? Where has happened that my poem trees have grown off to? Like young boys with slingshots and fishing poles and mischief in their hearts, toddling off to the corners of the municipality with every intention of innocent fun and no notion of frazzling their guardians.

If you cannot tell what I have been reading of late, you haven’t read it. That’s as fair a guess as any, if not exactly educated. Would you rather be fair and not exactly educated or exactly educated and undecidedly fair? For chrissakes you should read what  I’ve been reading it’s a real beauty but I won’t admit it.

Lilting light things whispered whimsy.

Slip beneath the covers, dream & breathe. Deeply delightedly because we’re just a Dave Matthews Band away from the apocalypse. Time is always transferring hands. It’s a helluva scheme, time is money, time is money, money. You’ve got to stop calling me honey. Or: you’ve got to stop calling me, honey. Those are options. But I don’t call you honey. And I don’t call you, honey. It is the same dithering. No reason to call & nothing to say but what I can say for and to myself. A little cold in a large room, a little swirl of sleepiness after red wine and dinner with SRD. Life is peaches plums and pears.

Song of Saturn

Offensive defenses! Fisticuffs, ears to the, nose to the ground I’m down to the bits that I left up-town they sing. Sweetly and nosing around in old notebooks. They’re gone. In fifteen seconds or less the remembrance of things passes and they move off-stage they move west; I left my reading glasses where all the passersby can see through them. Use them to discern between dream and premonition. (I’ve never had one. Dreamed big and still bigger, grandiose! But the spoon and I are the same, we stay put we stay placed, playing it safe. Our power, our house of straw, our daisy lanes.  These are all talk and you know about talk: it only takes us to the end of the block.)

Saying on my way toward singing, perhaps a music hall is built and I wear a new hat and coat. Swaying on my way to the music hall built over the bones of trolley cars & skins of pinwheels. Say can you say if my tail feathers are falling out or my hands are shaking. A little kohl around the eyes to the guests’ surprise, but did you not know, surely you knew, how grandiose I am inside? I am. That night I was inside-out, taking a break from the belly breathing taking a chance to dance, a tiny chance to take a dancer by the hand.

Beating eggs to make a scramble, I rest my wrist.

The smoke clings to cotton it clings to wool it even clings to steel which clangs inside my bag against a spoon. Eyes and fire, smoke and fears. I think of all the words I can’t pronounce thee. I know them well and leave them be, to be or not or what thou wilt. I’m waiting on a music hall’s being built. From the ground up. My nostrils maybe quiver but too quick to catch on film to catch on fire, ears ring the smoke clings the spoon clangs receipts rustle under the cat’s paw and we’ll walk to the end of the block to hand off the keys.

Was I, have I been, something of a wind-up toy, I installed the mechanism myself and backed into you in a crowded room. That’s how it feels in my hands now that I’ve dismantled it. I didn’t save the world but if someone went free (and he did) then I’ll say, it is only skin. Stolen verse, second to first. I’m still moving moving so maybe it’s me I went free, I wanted to but didn’t make it quite. Not yet.

Soon. Do you hear? The alarm bells have a pleasantness so I stay here and burn, I like the noise so much I forget my physicality and live on soundbytes, briefly, til my stomach interrupts the melody. Say, gee, I was working so hard, hardly noticed, one day you’re grinning ear to ear feeling childlike and safe in it. Next you’re noticing the cold on your march blissful thundering towards death to paraphrase, to pare a phrase. The moon moves over in my sky now a planet lights my path, for the first time I can trace the then-lines and see, oh, they are fading. Nothing to declare, I’ll keep my earnings and my ear to the ground.

I do kind of.

Drafty at the driftwood rooms for scorned suitors where one cannot be too careful not to step in daffy. Simulating from the discomfort of a desktop indoors the experiences of real life campfire and camaraderie. Memories drift in on the tide, oh the tide, yes the tide, ancient in a comparative way of the word, dog willing. Dogsbody’s body. This is what these shores are for.

Here is a recollection: a red skirt. Only it was yellow. Maybe cans of Dr. Pepper, maybe Bali Shag tobacco and pretenses that dissolved when we looked too closely, we looked away. It’s gonna take a hurricane to get me off the ground. Yeah, what the drifter said.

What drifts in in fits like flot and jetsam drifts out in pieces charred, afloat to be chewed forgotten. Wolf’s head, Wolf’s jaw, its watery ways.

Maybe there were long lines at the Greyhound station.

I don’t remember why it stopped being so important to remember, what let me let the driftwood be drug at last to its watery grave. I do remember that it took four years.

Perhaps my present grief will require as many. Three years to go, can I bear it?

I spoke to my father over the phone he said he’d sent an e-mail to my former partner telling him he’s welcome to visit our family’s cabin any time, god how embarrassing happy father’s day k thx bye. More than embarrassing, worse, the ache startled up from slumber somewhere in my spleen, or heart, or elsewhere, startled upwards to trip through my wires in a flash I was weak-kneed recalling dumbly a story of nevermore, best buried like its predecessors.

Fold up the chairs fold the hands fold the laundry, fold myself neatly so neatly I fit into a drawer and there hide.

This too shall pass
This too
This too shall
This shall pass too

This shallow pass too narrow at times even cut off from itself where trees have bowed to things bigger than trees, winds stronger than any I’ve left in me to brace and be courteous, accommodating, accepting. To be good. Bright-sided and uncomplaining I have braved to be of late, but how brave is it to be when it’s not me, when I contain multitudes and wish to contradict, contradict myself.

Love is a political beast with jaws for a mouth I don’t care.

I said I always admire best those folks who are unselfconscious, unapologetically themselves, who determine their individual boundaries distinguished easily from corsetish limitations the so-called civilized world would impose. Jedi mind tricks only work on the weak-willed.

So if in imitation of the brave and unashamed folks of the world I were to check my self-consciousness at the door, I would say that was the shittiest accidental run-in I’ve ever had to smile-seethe my way politely through.

Three years to go. I wonder if we’ll ever be friends. It seems some lines have been drawn in the sand and I said to myself, last summer, don’t worry it’s sand, we can redistrict. Only we never have and that sand is looking so much like stone I fear to touch it.