I think your face is beautiful, the way it is close to my face, and I think you are the real October with your transparence and the stone of your words as they pass, as I do not hear them. -- Bill Berkson, October October again and again it's full of you. Can you feel this small sadness as it climbs inside and undresses you. How an orchestra of hands can promise to be noteless. Outside everything is beautiful and dying. Can you feel this yawning mouth that only wants and wants. The intimacy of small talk without the immutability of its damage. Is it possible to fall back asleep in your contours without subverting your heart into a hallway. I know I didn't get it right the first time. Can you feel that. Inside me something insatiable comes to life. It reaches up my throat with its claws. Wants to be petted and fed cold milk. Wants to show up on your doorstep. But aren't I an expert on restraint. Again and again. I practice small refusals. I do not touch. I throw out the milk. I try to unremember the sound of you laughing. The way your face looked sad but honest in some moonlight. The way time continues to elapse patiently. A heart that beats slowly and sadly still beats. Still ventures to unremember. What could you have stored up to tell me anyway. After all this time. What would you say to me if you were not afraid.
Please forget me. I won't forget you. You were right about poets. How right you were. Poets are liars and obsessive. Always trying to excoriate reality into something aesthetic and effortless and love into something digestible at all. You were right. They shouldn't do that. It isn't possible and they shouldn't carry on like it is. It is true that I went too far. Something simple about boundaries and delicacy or discretion had begun to elude me. You may continue to blame me and I can live with that but— according to a very famous play (which I'm sure you've heard of) Blanche explains that the opposite of desire is death (death!) Asked Mitch: So do you wonder? I don't wonder, or really we didn't have to wonder, did we? It was the easiest thing in the world to do but very distressing and painful to have done. I mean, physically painful. Like a stomachache. Like sleeplessness. Sometimes desire is it's own death and has no opposite. No one ever battered me quite like you. Early on you told me about a set of mathematical proofs which show that two curves with infinite length can have a finite area between them. Koch's snowflake. Gabriel's wedding cake. But the converse is never true. I don't know why you told me these things, but I did want to understand them. Poets are always trying to manufacture metaphors even from mathematics. I did try to understand you. I shouldn't have told you that I wanted to know you and I shouldn't have wanted to know you. This is another character flaw among writers. The general inability to let things go unsaid or unknown. I still don't know what happened between us or what any of it meant, although I am starting to feel okay about that. As every day it became harder and harder to measure any finite space between us. To even understand what counts as a thing. One can claim they don't acknowledge unspoken subtleties, but isn't unspoken subtlety the only way anyone can distinguish something viable and breathing from all the pointless sediment floating along with the rest of the river? I'm not making that up. I think people discovered this all the way back in the sixteenth century. With letters and glances and common sense. I'm sorry for falling in love with you. Really, I am. Even the idea of you is revolting and obscene like eating food off the floor. I'm not suggesting there was any better way for this to end. In general, I'm okay. In general, I think solitude is a good thing. It's just that your message was perplexing and took a long time to sink in. But yes. Eventually your moody distractedness began to unattract me. The way certain words can create a story but aren't the story itself. Eventually everything you said ceased making any sense at all. So I stopped trying to understand anything. I think the problem is that this went down really deep. Well, for me it did at least. Deeper than I wanted. (But then you snap out of it. Then you realize that the well is deep but empty. So you throw in a cigarette. And the whole operation bursts into flame.) Do you see what I'm saying? I'm sorry that I fell in love with you. That was where everything collapsed. I started to sense that you didn't really want to know me anymore or know anything at all. You just wanted to wander around and pontificate and sulk as if things couldn't be knowable (only you called it brooding). Well. At least I know a few things about you now. Who you really are. It stung but I couldn't unknow. I said I wouldn't write you anymore, and I didn't. And that I didn't love you anymore. And I didn't. I had thought it was a pretext until I looked you in the face and said it out loud. Then I knew it was true. You know, sometimes words can do that, actually. I've realized. Poetry can do that to a story between two people. Make it into something, I mean. And then into nothing.
Only the atrophied animal sleeping at your ankles. No need to chain me to the bedpost. Every seduction needs only the smallest of aches. Every concession: my shoulder tapping your shoulder. My teeth tapping your teeth. Call me your error. Call me your stray. Know that I am more than my heartache. More than my strangeness, more than my arms tied up together. You can't fix something broken with something else that's broken. Empty bucket. Spineless bird. Although you now know me like a nightmare and undress me with your moonlit mouth, I know it's not enough. Sometimes everything works out. But no. It doesn't. Please don't do that thing anymore. Please forgive me. For this and for everything else that's coming. And believe I never meant to let you tunnel into me like that. The way love twists into a heart, mercilessly. And keeps twisting. I believed you when you said you would not be gentle. I just thought there was nothing left unbruised when we met. Only my threadbare heart crawling with larva, brimming with ghosts. I thought I could take it. But then we got quiet. Eventually, I opened my mouth. Call me your downpour. Call me your death. That night, I know I dragged you through the gutter of this. How could you refuse me once you'd turned me over. Once you made me your sorrow, your specter. Your spiral staircase. Your cistern full of pond water. When you said do this and I wanted to. I would live here for another year just to feel like that again. A sharp grip around my wrists. Cool breath like bee wings up my spine. But now all I feel is the vacuum of your egress. Believe me I have enough grief to flood the basement. And enough regret to burn the house down. Tell me, what could stay upright in the aftershocks of this. Even my doorframe is now a skewed and haunted thing. So everything broken keeps breaking. And we can't take the bones out of our bodies. I can't unsay that I loved you. Now that you're gone, the moon follows me home. Call me your aimless. Call me forgotten. Call me your fuckup, your weakness, your garbage. Your favorite aberration. Tell me I'm nothing. You refuse to dismantle this, so I will. If it's harder to unlove a thing why didn't you just leave me there that night on the porch to whimper and crawl up the steps alone.
. will i always digress? i think so impossible not to as i am a wistful type and forgetful i only wanted to watch you. .. first love always begins with this sincerity, perhaps because its earnestness curtails my other desire to possess. what is the point of so much silence? let's talk about something else: let's reimagine a story where we both say the right thing at the right time i've seen you do it before i swear, it is a sure thing stop turning around try to believe me ... can i have some more? it's so good. for once i don't feel so empty less is a lexeme that keeps coming back over and over it is the perfect example of something regretful: i know what i did to get us where we are now. look, i don't feel good about it i was bored stiff. that's why i was so distant and agitated; why i looked so small. it's why i noticed someone else across the room, just the kind of guy i like. don't be jealous. i liked you that way, too you know it anyway, that you're really cute? are you blushing? you are too. so then who is in charge here? not you. you seem out of it tonight, you look like you had a bad day those wet lashes sorry i didn't think that you would ever get so hooked, that you would make so much of things but tell me you wouldn't have done exactly the same if you were me tell me .... "you're not sad out of the blue. there have to be reasons." there's a reason. "come on." i'm coming. "stop torturing yourself." it's over. all settled. i'm sorry. i swear i am. ..... i'll finish my drink first, then i'll come. i'll watch first, then i'll come. promise. so i followed you out of the bar. i followed you into a bar. i followed a crocodilian instinct i had about you. why are you here all alone? being good. your type is so rare, that's why i followed you. i followed you because you have a pretty name, in latin it means hammer i could be so serious back then only cared about art and language i didn't know much, but i liked it. all of it especially egon schiele, picasso and schiele. i'm lousy at english, so i linger on the art and only watch movies with subtitles. in fact, i love english actually. oh i can't remember. anderson, scorsese, aronovsky, i could go on but i'll try not to. am i even allowed to be here? i wont talk more than five minutes. i'll just get that dead look in my face. doesn't it make you happy? i so rarely do anyone else's portrait. "the mysterious weakness of men's faces" and that sort of thing. instead i have obsessed myself with richter. it does me good. the rigorousness of his brush strokes, those wide commitments. ...... how does that look? it's strange because it's you and it isn't you. i have to go. you don't have to like it. someone wolf-whistled on my walk home. ....... i always prefer to be clear. but don't tell me to relax. you just jumped down my throat do you realize? when you mentioned a pathological scruple and what is that? does that mean gravity? like how everything in nature is perverted, and vice versa. the opposite of right-mindedness. "are you following any of this?" i can follow this, i am living this. i'm alive and i will do anything really its scary "so you're voracious?" you can't even imagine. "i can see." can you see me clearly, i don't want to know. it's nice being here. a little too nice. that smile. i admit i was shaking i was tired but i didn't give up i told my bones to go i went big words. to love. delicious. ........ i am still studying the anguish in schiele's oeuvre. those delicate nudes, emaciated and grotesque, gaping in such unlikely positions. twisted, obscure, something very dark. i've tried to keep that out of your portrait but it never works. better not to tell it slant, actually better to embrace one's own disfigurements with an emotional directness that makes others want to look away pleasure being so obvious, and so obviously tangential to torture is it ever possible for pleasure to be shared? unlike pain, it is not a competition even my portraits are really self-portraits it is part of my wistfulness
"The past isn't dead. It isn't even in the past." -- William Faulkner The past should go away, but it doesn't. Even if you try to throw it out with all my perfect cursive notes and the white IKEA furniture. There is still the insomnia and a few mottled bruises on the inside of your sternum. You once told me there was no such thing as a heartache, so now I feel no obligation to resolve anything. The past should go away, but how can it? Once I went hunting for your loneliness, and I found it, my round breath sewing loops right through you. Everything that happened is still happening and happening. The past should go away, but instead it waits for you, motionless, like a flood at the bottom of your basement steps. You. You breathed out like a map. You said worship; you meant it. The past is merciless, fills every recess of a heart; fills all the holes in the sky where there should be stars. The past should go away, but it follows you home like a starving junkyard dog with something dead in its mouth. Haunts you. Looks like you: covered in filth and eating from the garbage. You've always been a sad stray, desperate for affection or a warm bed to sleep in. In that case, the past is a chain for you, dear. You wear it snug around your throat, dear. See how it covers you like daybreak. The past should go away, but it keeps unfolding slowly like a dense fog falling off the stage. Or breaks open like a swarm of locusts. I once let you in. Yes. To my garden of drowning violas. Led you, lured you. Halfway. Left you there alone. Then just when you began to see a crack of light, I stepped in your path, closed my eyes, and swung the blunt object. Your head aching like a broken heart. The past should go away, but it won't stop breathing. A black assault of wheezes. The past looks right at you with its eyeless face, and drags itself across your floor. Laughs darkly. Rotting wood where there should be teeth. You asked why I was crying, and I said it was because I was so happy with such conviction that even I believed it. The past keeps spinning on its demon carousel. You feel guilty because you are guilty. The past should go just away, but it hangs from the beams and sleeps upside-down inside of you. Wakes up and immediately starts beating all its wings. Scrapes against the rust on your heart, and makes a bony sound. The past should go away, but it never does. It isn't over yet. It's barely even started, dear.
I have a bad feeling about all of this. I have a question with a devastating hypothetical inside of it. I once had a long list of questions for you, but I answered them myself. I am the one you are losing, remember? I am not a very good person, but I keep saying I am trying. I want to be let in, I said looking at your diaphragm. I used to imagine: [ ] I am making an artform of my own heartache as an enviable talent. I am starting to adore my own unlikely need. I am making something millable out of this, I am. I could mill a life so full, there's no room for you anymore. I am milling around in the quiet space you left, feeling fragile. I am starting to like it. I used to be yours; now I am mine. My dear, my darling, my dark cloud. I have no rules or secrets anymore. I am sure you know by now: you cannot possess a thunderstorm or bring one back from the dead. I was your first full stop, wasn't I? Wasn't I? I don't know anything for sure anymore. I don't want to haunt you anymore. I never said I would keep searching until I found you. I don't tell you what I'm thinking anymore. I keep ripping pages out of my notebook. I am not eating all my meals anymore. I never said I would. Okay, I did. I am making small but meaningful improvements. I am starting not to love you anymore. I still think of how beautiful you are, how your face fits your face. Fits the palms of my hands. I don't tell you everything I am thinking anymore. I am not a nostalgic person. I try to focus on the things I dislike about you. I love you less and less. I am erasing you, slowly. I used to miss you all the time. I used to want to talk to you even when I was talking to you. I finally realized it was the compass that was broken, it just took a long time. I finally realized the map wasn't even right, and anyway I can't read maps. I touch my own sweet and nervous spine now. I will still be the death of you. I would do it all again, but I wish I wouldn't. I don't feel like a ghost. I am not a ghost. I know you'll be okay without me, but not the same. I am learning to forget as a self-defense mechanism. I tore your pages out of my diary and stopped writing your name. "Write down everything and of course you'll remember things you wish you didn't," I read somewhere. Even if you never read this, you'll still feel it. I suspect you will grow to miss me terribly. When it's over (and it's almost over, I promise) just know I meant everything I ever said to you, even if I wish I didn't. I am taking nothing back, even if I wish I could. I would do it all again, even if I wish I wouldn't.
Even if you never read this, you'll still feel it. I am erasing you, slowly. I am learning to forget as a self-defense mechanism. I am making an artform of my own heartache as an enviable talent. I am making small but meaningful improvements. I am making something millable out of this, I am. I am milling around in the quiet space you left, feeling fragile and raw. I am not a nostalgic person. I am not a very good person. I am not eating all my meals anymore. I am starting not to love you anymore. I am starting to adore my own unlikely need. I am starting to like it. I am sure you know by now: I am taking nothing back, even if I am the one you are losing, remember? I can't read maps. I could mill a life so full, there's no room for you anymore. I don't feel like a ghost. I am not a ghost. I don't know anything for sure anymore. I don't tell you everything I am thinking anymore. I don't tell you what I'm thinking anymore. I don't want to haunt you anymore. I finally realized it was the compass that was broken. I finally realized the map wasn't even right, and anyway I have a bad feeling about all of this. I have a question with a devastating hypothetical inside of it. I have no rules or secrets anymore. I keep ripping pages out of my notebook. I keep saying I am trying. I know you'll be okay without me, but not the same. I love you less and less. I meant everything I ever said to you, even if I never said I would keep searching until I found you. I never said I would. I once had a long list of questions for you, but I answered them myself. I still think of how beautiful you are, how I suspect you will grow to miss me terribly. I tore your pages out of my diary and stopped writing your name. I touch my own sweet and nervous spine now. I try to focus on the things I dislike about you. I used to be yours; now I am mine. I used to imagine: [ ] I used to miss you all the time. I used to want to talk to you even when I was talking to you. I want to be let in, I said looking at your diaphragm. I was your first full stop, wasn't I? Wasn't I? I will still be the death of you. I wish I could. I wish I didn't. I wish I wouldn't. I would do it all again, but I wish I wouldn't. I would do it all again, even if it just took a long time. My dear, my darling, my dark cloud. Okay, I did. "Write down everything and of course you'll remember things" When it's over (and it's almost over, I promise) just know you cannot possess a thunderstorm or bring one back from the dead. "You wish you didn't," I read somewhere. Your face fits your face. Fits the palms of my hands.