Monday, August 9, 2010

The Rollercoaster

Click click clank clank clunk
Up the down drop of the wooden roller coaster
Hands in the air
Screams lunging from open mouths
Loud loud louder
Spinning cart on a track
Bodies bumping against each other
Dizzy yelping blurry
Something falling from the sky
Dropping laughing pointing
Bodies on a rope, a cord, a harness
Tinny music
Metal gears
Blinking lights in thick darkness
Fever hot, humid air
Children laughing
A scream
A spin
A turn
Loud loud louder
I drop into myself
It's a bumpy ride
We climb the steep cliff
Of the wooden wall
Will I fall off? I ask myself
It's high up here
The air cooler
The noise further
The danger closer
I drop into the ride
Down the steep slope
Wind stronger
Eyes blurry
Tears blowing past my temples
I hear screaming
I think its me
Sound is round
I am inside of it
I drop into my belly
The bottom falls out
I am empty from the waist down
I am legless
Faster louder faster louder
Metal wood brakes screeching
People screaming
Rattle rumble rattle rumble
Smearing lights like brush strokes
A black hole
A tunnel
A ride
I am in it
I am in the bathtub
I am small
Mom tells me to stop crying
But I can’t
A wall goes up between me and her
If you loved me you’d let me cry
But you didn’t
You were fighting with him
Fists above my head
Me, too small to stop the blows
If I could, I would lift you up, both of you, like King Kong
And let you struggle without hurting each other
There is screaming outside my window
It is late, 3am
He is loving her, not hurting her
She is screaming all the same
I am spinning
In the sound
In the carnival
In the darkness
In the lights
Like brush strokes
I am dropping down
I am dropping in
I close the door between me and her
Between me and you
I will pretend to love you but on the inside
I am lying
I cannot leave here
But I can take my love away
In my corset of smiling and pretense
I will pretend to like you
But I am dishonest
I am deceiving you
Painted on face
Red lips bigger than mouth
Big eyes
Red nose
White and red and smiling
Big smile
I hold the clowns hand
Satin glove
Rainbow jumper
I dance around you
Look at me dance
Look at us smile
Can you see us smiling?
Elephant on bike
Screaming with trunk raised
Dancing girls
Roaring tiger
Clapping cheering
Train black coal smoke rumble loud louder whistle
Sound is round
I am inside of it
Dancing on a stage
Pointed shoes
Dancing on bricks
I am smiling
I am sparkling
Lights clapping bowing
Feet swollen
Toes blisters red
I tighten the corset
People cheering
Faster faster keep moving
I am graduating
People clapping
Clink clink clank clank clunk
I fall down
I tumble head over foot
Down the slope
Down the track
I am in my dorm room
You are sitting on the floor
We are listening to music
She sings
The sound pierces
Like a needle through my heart, then yours
Then back through mine again
Sewing us together
She wails
Hallowed halls
Ghosts in the streets
Haunted house
He pushed me into the closet
He forces his tongue into my mouth
He says
You wanted it
You asked for it
Rooms with zombies and body parts
And children screaming
With horror
With delight
Knots in my belly
The coaster climbs
Up the next incline
Clink clink clank clank clunk
Her back flat on the pinball machine
They force her
She fights them
They win
She loses
Ding ding ding ding
The sound of winning
Vegas slot machines
Happy people
Loud loud louder
Standing in the tree grove
In the forest
In the nothing
Silent at waters edge
Waves tumbling over toes
Breath rising and falling
In quiet
In rhythm
Constant and consistent
The breath inside the sound
Inside the mouth
Inside the voice
I drop in
It’s a bumpy ride
I am in it
I am dropping in

Thursday, August 5, 2010


She tells me that he used to do the meanest things when he was angry. She tells me that when her brother bill was young, he touched something he wasn’t supposed to touch so he held bill’s hand over the flame on the stove until it burned. She told me how he used to kick her up the stairs and call her a slut when he was drunk. She told me how his mother used to scream and pull out her hair and threaten to kill herself when her son wouldn’t do what she wanted him to do. Each story drops into me like a warning, like a red flare flaming saying, there is danger here, tread lightly, there is danger close by. She tells me about someone she knows who doesn’t love her son, who burns her sons with matches ,who tried to kill herself, who has a gun, who may have killed her son if no one stopped her. I am in the fire, the shaking, the quivers in my gut, the place that is forbidden, that you don’t want to know, you don’t want to see. Vampires. Bonfires. Dark alleys. Fertile ground for devils and demons. Am I one of them? I tried to drown myself in the ocean. I laid down at the water’s edge and offered myself to him, asked God to take me out on the waves in the tide so I could reside with the moon and the starfish. God said no, the waves pushed me further back from the shore, deeper into the grass and the trees, snakes on me and through me, black coal inside of me.

I wrap a frightened girl around my body, her legs around my waist, her arms around my neck, like primates, like monkeys, we are no different. Without a mother, without comfort, we are dead. I carry her. She is mine and she is me. Inside and around me, I walk the water’s edge with her. She is light, she is not a burden. I thought I was burden. I thought you said and she said and he said that I was a burden. I thought I was heavy. I thought I was hard to handle. I thought I was too heavy to carry.

I breathe deep. The salty imagined air. The seagull. The sunset. The orange and crimson sky. I wanted to trust you. I wanted to know that I could take 2 steps away and you would be there upon my return. I wanted to know that I could take 4 steps away and you would still be there like a granite stone in the sun. I wanted to know that I could take 6 steps away and I could wave to you and you would wave back smiling and encouraging. I wanted to know that if there were long distances between us that love would travel the miles between us, that we would still be connected. I wanted to know that I mattered, that I was seen and heard. I wanted to know that I was loved.

I drop down into an empty heart. I knew your disarray before I knew my own. I knew the imbalance between us like a tightrope tied to two wobbling poles. You were unstable. I knew your instability as my own. I was bright, too smart for my own good, they say, a small wise one, one wondrous little person dropped into an insane circus. Look at the lions, daddy! All the better to eat you with my dear. He held my little brother over Niagara Falls. He threatened to drop him in. He thought it was funny. Mom cried. I watched. Smaller and smaller, I shrank inside myself until I almost extinguished my own flame. Can you put yourself out? Can you extinguish yourself? The one unique expression of you. Why would you even want to commit such a crime? Would you extinguish a star? Would you pull the plug on the ocean and let it run down the drain? Would you filter the sky in black and white? Pull the flowers from the roots so the smells could no longer burden your nose? The absurdity of it all. The waste. The shame. The malice. The grief. The pain.

I said I’d rather feel shame than anger. I’d rather freeze than burn. I’d rather be small enough to stand on the tip of a needle then be so big that my foot tramples your garden with one step. I grow like a giant with the anger. My long wet pink tongue falls from my mouth like Kali, the goddess of destruction. I can dance her dance. I can ride her tiger. Hissing and spitting. I can shoot fire with my eyes. I must be evil. I must be catholic because I think my fire is evil. I must be conflicted. I must be twisted up in knots, in misunderstanding, in contrast, in contempt. I must be walking on hot coals. I must be older than myself, older than this feeling. I must be God – the generator, organizer and destroyer of my experience. I must be dead. Less alive than the fish and the moss and the cockroaches. I must be all of it and none of it. sweaty palms and cramping hand. I must be getting old and staying young and figuring things out and getting lost. I must be out of my mind.

Take me where you are going. Please hold my hand, hold my heart. Tell me that it’s all ok, that it will all be fine. Lie to me. I don’t care. Let your words caress me like aloe soothing burned skin. Help me gather up all the burnt children – the boy with his hand on the stove, the girl kicked up the stairs, the child scarred with matches – help me gather them all up and put them in a bowl of cake batter so we can swim and lick our fingers and taste sweetness with every swallow. Make it better. Make it safe. Make it the way it should be.