2016: A YEAR OF TRUTH

My new novel, The Long Ride Home, which will be released by Sourcebooks in Summer 2017, is about a wounded teenage girl named Harley who is driving across the U.S. on her motorcycle, ostensibly to reach the Atlantic Ocean and spread the ashes of her mother, whom she accidentally killed when she started a house fire.  Along the way, she finds out she’s pregnant, so the story becomes way less about spreading ashes and much more about how she comes to terms with her tragic past and decides what she will become in the future.

me harley.jpg
Me doing research for The Long Ride Home.  (Someone else drove.  I just watched what he did very carefully while clutching madly at his waist and hoping not to die.)

While the book is by no means autobiographical (my own mother is kicking it in the next room as I write this, and if I tried to ride a Harely without some dude or dudette steering it in front of me, I’d likely die), it very much dealt with issues I was grappling with while I wrote the book.  My own past, like most of our pasts, has been littered with miracles and wonders, but also with tragedy, loss, and abuse.  The past few years, and especially the last year during which I was writing The Long Ride Home, have been about wandering the country trying to come to terms with the darkness I have known and trying figure out who I want to be next.  A long time ago, I realized it’s important who you become.  It matters who you choose to be.  I just had a hard time figuring out who I really was.  It took years.  Decades in fact.  But I think this year, I finally got it.

In the book, Harley goes to a jewelry shop to meet a curandera her mother knew while she was alive, in hopes of finding out if her mom really loved her.  The wise woman asks her, “Do you want the ugly truth or a pretty lie?”  I wrote this question because it’s a question I’ve been asking myself again and again of late.  So much of the darkness that came into my life came to me because I chose pretty lies over ugly truths, even though the ugly truths were staring me in the face if I cared to unblind myself and look.

I have been going through a process of unblinding.  I used to be really good at lying to myself.  I’d tell myself people who clearly didn’t care if I lived or died loved me deep down.  I’d tell myself that nasty scenes full of broken people who wanted nothing more than to tear one another apart were families.  I’d tell myself that my choices didn’t matter, that all roads led to the same place.  I’d tell myself I’d forgiven people I still hated.  I’d tell myself I was happy when I was dying inside.  And on and on and on.

But now, having gone through a ragged, agonizing process of unblinding, I know that love and family are sacred words, and sacred things are deep and rare and real.  People who love you show you.  You don’t have to wonder.  You don’t have to make excuses for them.  You don’t have to suck up abuse and call it love.  Love makes its presence known in the actions of the lover.

I know that not all groupings of human beings are families.  A letter from the CEO of Tollhouse Crackers, for instance, saying “Welcome to the Tollhouse Family” is nothing but an airbrushed lie, a slick marketing package taking the sacred and making it profane.  A family, I have learned, is a precious rarity composed of people who will die for one another, protect one another, sacrifice for one another, function as a unit for the benefit of all.  I will not call all groups of people in my life family.  I do have family members who are not biologically related to me, but ours is a bond of love that goes just as deep as blood.  They are people for whom I would take a bullet.  They are people who would take a bullet for me.

me river of lights
Me on the way out the door to see The River of Lights with my biological family, which happens to be full of kick ass people who truly love me. (Lucky, lucky me.)

And I found out that all roads don’t lead to the same place.  Some choices—brave choices, true choices, loving choices—lead to really pretty places.  Some choices lead to hell on earth.  Usually, the hard choices are the good choices.  Usually, the road less traveled, the one covered with rocks and prickly pear cactuses and angry bandits in the bushes screaming obscenities at you, is the road that leads to heaven on earth, that leads to true and lasting peace, that leads to a life well-lived, not wasted.  There is a meme going around on Facebook that says, “The fact that there’s a stairway to heaven and highway to hell says something about anticipated traffic numbers.”  I think it’s funny, but I also think it’s true, in its way.  I don’t believe in a God that throws us into fire when we die, but I do believe we have the power to throw ourselves into fire while we still live.

So many people choose the pretty lies over the ugly truths, and in so doing, condemn themselves to agonizing, miserable hells on earth.  For years, I was one of those people.  I don’t want to be her anymore.  I won’t lie and say I forgive when I hate.  I don’t want to be what Jesus called a whitewashed tomb, beautiful on the outside but inside full of reek and rot and dead men’s bones.  If I’m rotten inside, I’ll tell you about it.  How are we going to clear out the the corpses if we pretend they aren’t there?  If I’m miserable, I’m not going to lie and say I’m happy.  Let’s talk about what fucking sucks inside me.  Let’s do some hard work and fix it.

This morning, on the very last day of 2015, I woke up early to talk to Momma, which is what I often call God, because to me, God is both male and female, and most of the time, the female part resonates with me more (maybe because I have a vagina and stuff).  I said a lot of things to my mother this morning, but this is the one that stuck out.  This is the one that made a rush of wonder prickle over my skin.  I said, “Momma, I’m done lying.  I want the ugly truth, not the pretty lies, because ugly truths save your life, but pretty lies kill you.”  As I said this, I felt all of the energy I had put out into the wrong places, all of the love and light I had given to pretty lies, rush back into me.  I felt my own strength, my own power, my own dignity.  I felt my sacred Mother pulsing through my veins.

me thank you momma shrine
Me saying “thank you” to Momma the day I sold my first novel, Beauty of the Broken

My loves, while pretty lies may be easier to swallow in the short term, in the long term they rip you to shreds.  There is a deep and profound beauty in seeing true.  This year, I refuse to be willfully blind.  I refuse to look at shit and call it gold.  I refuse to pretend abuse is love, victimization and manipulation are relationships.  Painting ugly truths with pretty words doesn’t make them any more beautiful.  Calling a snake a dove doesn’t make it any more gentle.  It just makes it more likely to kill you.

P.S.  Because I always add a song to my blog, this is the one that popped into my head.  Cheesy eighties tripe or not, it’s an honest prayer.

 

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HOW ALCOHOL AND ROCK-N-ROLL SAVED MY WRITING CAREER (AND P.S. I SOLD ANOTHER BOOK)

merainbow
Let there be rainbows.

If you keep up with my blog, you know I’ve been ingesting copious quantities of cookie dough, trying to stave off madness while waiting to learn the fate of my new novel, The Long Ride Home.  I’m delighted to announce that my binge eating has come to a screeching halt. The Long Ride Home will be released by Sourcebooks in Summer 2017.  My former editor from Simon & Schuster, Annette Pollert, who is now the editor-in-chief at Sourcebooks Fire, will be editing the book.  I’m so thrilled and honored to work with this brilliant woman again, and to join the Sourcebooks family of authors.

We closed the deal on Wednesday, and I’ve sent the past few days reeling with joy and disbelief, stealing wine from my brother to celebrate, and trying to absorb the news.  It’s over.  I crossed the finish line.  I’ve also been thinking about how precarious the genesis of this book was.  Conceiving a literary love child is just as statistically unlikely as conceiving a physical love child in any given sex act.  It is dependent on all sorts of factors coming together perfectly.  And as is often the case with physical conception, it is also dependent on just the right kind of drunk.

The Long Ride Home was conceived in Charlottesville, Virgina in July of 2014.  As you may have suspected, I was mildly inebriated on the day she came into being.  That summer, I was teaching a creative writing workshop at University of Virginia, where the father of three of the band members of Sons of Bill is a professor. (Incidentally, he’s the proverbial “Bill” in question. I’ll get to why I’m bringing up Sons of Bill. This information is not as tangential as it seems.)

The day I arrived, a giant thunderstorm knocked out the power during a meeting, and my coworkers and I went outside after the rain stopped to play soccer.  (It was better than sitting inside in the dark.)  When I say “we” went outside to play soccer, I mean they played soccer, and I, being a total klutz, stood on the sidelines and looked at the sky, which was lucky, because an exquisite rainbow appeared.  My wonderful boss Lauren, who later saw fit to sneak out with me for beers at the ends of exhausting days, to listen to all sorts of my confessions and life dramas, and to become a lifelong friend, took a photo of me touching it.  I felt then, and still believe, that rainbow was a harbinger of magic.

meandlauren
Me and the beautiful Lauren

The University of Virginia is indeed a magical place.  I sent my students out one day to write poems about things they found.  When I taught in Arizona and did this exercise, my students returned with poems about rocks.  But in Virginia, they came back with poems about deer.  Mother freaking deer were cavorting about the campus, being all Bambi-ish and providing unprecedented inspiration to fledging writers.  It was really all too much.

For weeks, I worked rewarding but grueling 12-hour days and then returned to my postage-stamp-sized dorm room each night to try to come up with an idea for my second novel.  My agent, Andy Ross, who is awesome, thinks I’m the best thing since pillow top mattresses, and believes I am being a slacker if I am not writing 24/7 (I’m allowed to take pee breaks, but that’s it) was pressing me for new material.  I kept trying to hammer out something “good,” something that would be similar in some way to Beauty of the Broken, and had failed miserably twice. By failed miserably, I mean I had written three chapters of two bad books, so that’s like a hundred pages of failure.  I was feeling pretty freaking frustrated about the whole thing.

Finally, I had a day off, so I decided I was going to walk to a nearby pub, drink until I was either drunk or inspired (or both), listen to music, and write whatever the hell I wanted, good or bad.  I was three glasses of questionable merlot in, scribbling bad poetry, when Sons of Bill’s cover of “Unknown Legend” came on my iPod.  I’ve heard Neil Young’s version many times, but I never loved the song until Sons of Bill covered it.  Their music has a haunting, otherworldly quality that makes everything they perform veritably gripping.

“Out along the desert highway, she rides her Harley Davidson, her long blond hair flying in the wind.  She’s been running half of her life.  On chrome and steel she rides, colliding with the very air she breathes,” James sang. The sound of his voice made me want to cry, (as the combination of bad wine and good music often does), and immediately, I saw an image—a skinny, scared, suicidal girl flying down the highway on a motorcycle ten times bigger than her body.  For the first time, The Long Ride Home’s protagonist Harley spoke to me.

She said, “If you picture me as a rugged girl on a Harley, speeding down a leather black highway at 100-miles-an-hour, you might be right.  I’m like that some days.  A scrawny thing clad in my mom’s biker jacket, long, blond hair flying behind me in the wind.  If you see me riding, you’ll think I’m tough.  You’ll think my biker boots mean I could kick ass if I wanted to, and I guess I could. What you won’t see, if you’re only glancing at me as I whiz past, is that I have tears on my face.  The tears would be frozen if it was winter–really winter, I mean.  Alaskan winter.   My tears would be almost invisible in Bangkok, lost as they would be in a mist of summer rain.  But I’m neither of those places, and I’m not riding my Harley just now.  Where I am is in Los-freaking-Angeles, and not the pretty Beverly Hills part either.”

My agent now uses that paragraph when he teaches workshops on how to grab an agent’s attention within the space of a paragraph. I don’t know if he tells his workshop attendees that the secret to literary success is considerable inebriation, or if he spins it in a more professional direction. But friends, I will tell you there is something be said for drinking, listening to music, and not trying to be “good” while writing.   Harley kept talking, and by the end of Chapter 1, I knew:

  1. that she was living in L.A. with her mom’s weird friend because her mom was dead,
  2. that she was responsible for her mom’s death,
  3. and that she also might be pregnant.

I sent the chapter to my agent, and he wrote back one sentence: “You are a genius.”  After that, I became Harley’s bitch.  She would wake me up at midnight and tell me about her stupid best friend (baby daddy?) Dean.  She would heckle me at rock shows about her PTSD.  She would force me to yank out my computer in airports to transcribe her morbid jokes about her dead mom.  She never let me drink in peace.  At least half of her journey was originally chronicled on bar napkins.

A year later, I pulled her ramblings together, and viola, I had a novel.  A couple months after that, my agent received word that two publishers were interested in the book, and a few weeks later, I sold my second literary lovechild to an amazing publisher.

This sale means so much to me.  One of a debut novelist’s greatest fears is that she will be a “one hit wonder.”  The publishing business can be merciless.  Statistically, I’ve heard that about 1 out of every 10,000 books written gets published by a mainstream publisher.  Even though breaking through that seemingly impenetrable wall and publishing a debut novel feels like a monumental accomplishment, not everyone that publishes a first novel publishes a second.

The precariousness of a new writer’s professional standing is compounded by the fact that many people don’t read books anymore.  They watch T.V.  They play video games.  They go to movies.  But weird little blocky things with squiggles in them?  No thanks.  Unless you are Stephen King, there is no guarantee that anyone is going to want to read what you write. In all honesty, I have lived the entire year since Beauty of the Broken came out feeling like a fraud, thinking that I was going to be unable to sell anything else, and the jig was going to be up.

But as of Wednesday, the jig officially isn’t up.  I can almost, almost breathe a huge sigh of relief and say, “Look, ma.  I’m a real writer.”

Still, I keep rewinding to the moment Sons of Bill’s cover of “Unknown Legend” came on and thinking, “If I hadn’t gone to the pub that day, if that song had never come on, there would be no second novel.”  I’m quite sure I owe at least some of this novel to Sons of Bill.  In addition to be some of the most accomplished musicians I have ever known, they are just all around great human beings.  Thanks for making amazing music, guys, and for rocking hard enough to save my literary ass.

 

OF CONTRACTS AND COOKIES (HOW MY AGENT IS MAKING ME FAT)

mecookiedough
Me at my mom’s, having just eaten a bowl of cookie dough.  My shirt says, “Word to the nerds.”  I also want to send a word to the binge eaters out there.  I love you, man.  Solidarity in numbers.

I’m sitting at my mom’s kitchen table, trying not to barf.  I’d like to say I have the flu.  Well, I wouldn’t.  I mean, I’d rather say I won the lottery than I have the flu, but saying I have the flu would be better than what is actually going on, which is: I have just eaten about six cookies worth of cookie dough and six actual cookies on top of that.  It’s all in the name of research.

Backstory: I’m staying with my mother in the New Mexico mountains this month.  She pastors a church and asked me to make three dozen cookies for the kids’ classes tonight.  Things you should know about me: I cook almost as well as I dance.  (If you’ve never seen me dance, picture a monkey being overrun by fire ants.  I once almost knocked a man out at a concert.  He had the audacity to stand behind me and fell prey to my bad ass moves.  This wasn’t a moshing kind of show, in case you were wondering.  But if you stand with me at a concert, even if it’s Handel’s Messiah, you have just landed in the mosh pit.)

Undaunted by my history of epic failures in the domesticity department, I started my day by making three dozen cookies, as per my mom’s request.  I had to taste the dough while I was going, to make sure the butter was thoroughly mixed in, and then, I had to taste the finished products.  I’m sorry to announce they looked and tasted like hockey pucks.  That didn’t stop me from repeatedly “trying” them to make sure they weren’t any good.  They weren’t.  Now, I’m making another batch.   More dough, more tasting.  You get the idea.

And as my second batch of three dozen cookies was mouldering in the oven (I don’t bake things, I moulder them), I opened a blog post by my friend Eva Langston, who is apparently force feeding herself butter to try to gain weight.  Eva, come on over to my mountain.  I’ll fatten you up quick.  The key is mixing the butter into cookie dough and eating all of it.  Tips from a girl who has never, ever had problems gaining weight.  Now you know.

I’d like to say this behavior is an anomaly, but it’s not.  I’m stressed, and when I’m stressed, I eat.  And eat.  And eat.  If there are yummy things to eat in eating distance.  I’m like one of those cows that will eat themselves to death if you don’t take the corn away.  Which is why I never buy fattening foods.  My mom doesn’t usually either, but those pesky kids need cookies, so here we are, trying not to barf.

What’s that you say?  “Why are you stressed, Tawni?”  I thought you’d never ask.  As I’ve mentioned here, and in a few recent interviews, my agent recently submitted my latest novel, The Long Ride Home, to publishers.  Of course, it took a few weeks to get responses, and being the impatient, melodramatic thing I am, I threw my hands in the air and deemed it dead in the water.  (Picture me holding my manuscript aloft, weeping, whispering, “Alas poor Harley”—that’s my protagonist’s name—“I knew her well.”)

Just when I was setting about organizing a very tasteful memorial service in the New Mexico woods for my fallen literary love child, my agent wrote to tell me he had received a phone call from a publisher who was seriously interested.  “Oh, frabjous day!  Callooh! Callay!”  I shrieked, which is to say, I was happy.  (I quote “The Jabberwocky” when I’m happy, having memorized it in high school in an effort to become one of the “cool kids.”  Shockingly, it didn’t work.)

This was Wednesday of last week.  (If you are not a math person, that’s seven days ago.)  He told me not to get my hopes up.  We’d hear more this week.  Until then, I should distract myself.  So I decided to distract myself from the agony of waiting by eating everything I could get my hands on.  As I indicated, it’s not as bad as it sounds because my mom is a health nut.  She only buys broccoli and lentils, as far as I can tell.  So I was getting lots of vitamins, and my digestion was moving along beautifully.

But then, Andy called me on Friday to tell me another publisher was seriously interested in the novel. And that we would hear more from them next week too.  When he said “next week” at 5 p.m. on Friday, I assumed that meant Monday at 9 a.m. sharp.  He didn’t say it meant Monday.  I just assumed.  I was wrong.

So, as the days go by, and my phone fails to ring (Andy Ross, what I wouldn’t give to see your name pop up on my iPhone screen), I eat more and more and more.  And now, my mother has thrown cookies into the mix.  I wrote her a while ago to let her know the first batch of cookies tasted like hockey pucks.  I told her I would try again.  She wrote back, saying, “I’ll do it when I get home.” I could hear the desperation in her voice even though she wasn’t speaking aloud.  She was picturing the poor church children breaking their teeth on Tawni’s hockey pucks.  She was envisioning dental lawsuits.  “Too late,” I wrote back.  “I already started.”  Which I had.  I imagine her now, gently rocking and weeping at her desk, having thrown the fate of her cookies into her culinarily-challenged daughter’s hands.

“Why the hell are you telling us this, Tawni?” you ask.  I’m mostly telling you his because my agent forbade me to talk about the interest in my novel, or my angst over it, on Facebook.  I usually post everything on Facebook. I’m a Facebook whore.  If I get a hangnail, you will see a picture of it on Facebook (and you will like it, or so help you God).  But now, I can’t talk about this HUGE issue I’m having.  My primary mode of decompression has been immobilized.  So I’m eating more and more and more.  Not talking about this is making me fat, Andy.  In the interest of my health, I had to talk about it.  This isn’t Facebook.  So I’m technically not disobeying you.

Yes, I know nothing may come of this.  Yes, I know I may be having that tasteful memorial service for my literary love  child after all.  Of course I know that.  Why do you think I’m eating my weight in cookie dough?  I am utterly aware of my professional peril.

If this book doesn’t sell, I’m going to have to find another career path.  Clearly, “chef” is not an option.

P.S.  When Tom Petty said the waiting was the hardest part, he was on to something.  Tom Petty is a modern prophet, in case you didn’t know. He’s one smart cookie.  Pun intended.  And yeah, I know it wasn’t even remotely funny.  Shut up.

 

 

POEMS TO SLIT YOUR WRISTS BY

I’ve been pretty honest here (and in other areas of my life) about my battle with depression and anxiety disorder.  I’m honest not because I want attention (I don’t–part of me hates for other people to see weakness in me), but because I know so many other people struggle with these (and other) varieties of mental illness.  I think the more honest we all are about what is really going on in our brains, the less alone we will feel.

I’ve struggled with depression on and off for most of my life.  The anxiety disorder was gifted to me about three years ago.  I hated being on meds.  They made me feel dead, and I couldn’t string words together, which is a big problem for a writer.  In the interest of feeling alive, and being able to write,  I learned to manage my anxiety without them.

I haven’t had a panic attack in about two years.  The secret?  Kittens.  Lots of kittens.  Seriously, when I was in the middle of the full blown manifestation of the disorder, everything, everything would make me panic.  My brain was a confusing tangle of bunny trails of the most lethal variety.  Any word, any subject, any song, any thought, would somehow lead to bad associations, which would send me spiraling into panic.  Except kittens.  So I watched hours and hours of kitten videos, focusing intently on them, not letting myself think the thoughts that were so determined to make me crazy.  After a while, refusing to engage with the panic worked.  I stopped feeling it.  The world stopped being a terrifying place.  But thank God for kittens, man.  Thank God for kittens.

I’d pretty much handled my depression (or so I thought) until about four months ago, when it returned with a vengeance that seemed rather intent on blowing my brains out.  I didn’t let it.  I am nothing if not stubborn.  Once I set my mind to accomplishing something, I do it.  And I have set my mind to not dying of depression.  What I did in lieu of blowing my brains out was write poetry.

Now that I’m over that bout of depression, I can look at its rather sickening, dark fruits with objective eyes.  Some of it was good.  (Those poems have been submitted to journals.)  Some of it was bad.  (Those poems have been burned.)  Some of it was fair to middlin’.  (I’m posting the fair to middlin’ stuff here.)

I post these poems that came from the darkest recesses of my psyche in the interest of saying: You’re never alone, kids. Other people are out there feeling what you feel. You are not a freak.  You are not an anomaly.  You are a beautiful human living a sometimes difficult life, and sometimes, it makes you really, really sad.  It’s ok.  Even on your coldest, darkest nights, you are not alone.  Even at the holidays.  (As a side note, if you are depressed at the holidays, don’t watch Love Actually.  Love isn’t actually like that at all.  Nobody out there is living that movie.)

You are not the only person in the world feeling alone and and sad and pondering blowing your brains out.  Don’t do it.  You have such a pretty face.  And tomorrow, that one thing you’ve been wanting to happen, that one thing you’ve been dreaming about for years, could happen.  Wouldn’t it be a shame if you weren’t around to see it?  My daddy used to sing a song to me that said, “Well, it’s nice to be alive when a dream comes true.  Maybe you should stick around.  It could happen to you.”  Stick around.  It could happen.

What’s happening to you right now is only a chapter in your story, the part where the hero faces the darkness, the part that happens just before the blazing and amazing dawn.  Don’t turn it into the end.  That’s a really shitty ending.  I hate stories that end with beautiful people blowing their brains out.  Stories like that suck.

(Full disclosure:  I was a bottle of wine in when I wrote most of these.  I didn’t spend time editing them.  I’m just sharing them here as they were on my computer when I woke up the days after the bad nights because I want you to know even the sparkliest souls go black sometimes.  And I also want you to know that this sparkly soul is on the other side of this bout of blackness.  The sun is shining again.  Even the darkest nights are followed by dawn.)

 

RICHOCHET

Love,

when you placed that pistol between my eyes

and fired

your bullet burrowed

deep into my skull

bouncing between brain matter barricades

erasing memories

replacing them with carnage

It slid down my throat

burning

like the worst kind of liquor shot

sifting through soft tissue

leaving me torn

and voiceless

When it entered the great hall

of my ribcage

it shattered bones

pillaging the pillars of my heart

until it imploded

leaving a pile of meat

a puddle of purple blood

a vast expanse of nothing

 

MARRYING UGLY

I had always been afraid to let you love me

up close

afraid that maybe you wouldn’t be

the pretty thing you seemed

from far away.

And then I saw your ugly,

and though it broke me,

I loved it more than I ever loved your pretty.

I loved your terror

and your rage

and your trembling weak.

That was when I knew

I wanted all of you

to melt into

my bones.

 

I married your ugly today.

 

LUSTER (LESS)

Don’t you feel gray inside

organs bags of grainy sand

skin stripped bare of everything that made you shine?

Your options for rock bottom have multiplied

exponentially .

Heroin addiction is a best case scenario.

Time

has always been a hungry noose,

and you didn’t know until just now

its jaws were closing tight.

Last night, there was a hole in my dreams

where you used to stand

a torrential up pour

of quick sand.

 

PAINT JOB

Bad whiskey tastes sick sweet

like forgetting

and that’s enough to make me

drink it down.

I wonder if this pain

camouflages the real me

like flat black spray paint

on a cherry red corvette

or if underneath

I was always

this color of

dead.

 

MIRAGE

She spoke of the drug

that bled light into your bones

until it melted through muscle

shone through skin.

She told lies

knowing there

was no such pill.

She tried not to remember

but she did.

Even the pretty things

cut.

 

The river Thames

Mina Loy sitting beside her

while gray water rushed.

A stooped man played the cello.

 

In the cantina

named after a cockroach

the man

knocked his beer from the table

watched her catch it

awed by her reflexes

as he had never been

by her mind

though it was good

and thick

sinewy

ropes of hearty gray matter

twisted together

to create

a sculpture

only a scientist or a madman

would fully appreciate.

 

By the sea in Puerto Penasco

she ate her corn from the cob

slathered in butter

sank her teeth into it

as if the kernels

were pills of light

drank three glasses of wine

to wash it down

sat on the stoop

watching the sun droop into the sea

making gems of the tiles

and far away the water

where He

 

told her a story

of trolls that lived on that rocky island.

She watched the place he had pointed that day

sink

knowing someday

this beauty too

would fade

 

nothing more than

a dull, never-ending ache.

 

SPECTRE

I wake in the night

to the sound of your

disembodied

voice

knocking on my skull.

I fling myself open like

matching doors

carved from river wood

drawn up whole

already painted cracking blue.

I slept in the gap

between your tongue and teeth

for three whole weeks

before you noticed me there

nesting like a small rodent

or medium sized bird.

You spat me out with

that pat-too-ee sound only you can make.

The ground quaked your revulsion.

Sleepless

I stare into the not-yet dawn

listening to your ghost wail

threading my fingers through

his not-there hair

kissing

his invisible lips

tasting rotting citrus and heavy air

whispering

there there 

hoping he understands

even now

in the wake of the tsunami of you

the shattered city of me

craves your holy water.

That Innana corpse

you made of me

and hung up on your wall

has loved you all along.

 

P.S.  This song always gives me peace when I’m in a dark place.  It goes out to all the beautiful hearts that are breaking this winter.  May you find some comfort here.

Watch Sarah McLachlan’s Duet Of “Arms Of The Angel” With Pink That Will Leave You Breathless