Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It's All Sunshine, It's Nothing But Sunshine

When I was a kid I liked to stare into the sun. Or, in its absence, light bulbs.

It was a game for my friends and I, like an ocular version of chicken. On clear blue summer days, or hunkered down in dark bedrooms. Coaxing the pupils to maintain their resolve, relax focus past the obvious. Straining to pick out the ghost of filament, the burning buried at the center, until blinking back tears we’d rub our closed eyes. The impression of all that light crackling against the sudden black of the interior.

Thankfully, I outgrew this habit, probably around the same time I started wearing glasses to correct my myopia. But there's still something about direct sunlight. Eyes closed, chin tipped skyward so sun’s gaze bores full into me like maybe the game could be reversed, like maybe that great big eye is relaxing focus past the obvious and searching for the ghost of filament inside me.

Today I'm thinking about combustion. Thinking about light, thinking about the things that sustain us and keep us alive. I am a body that requires food and water and sleep. I am a skin-draped sentimental spirit that thrives on sunshine and good conversation. I am a throbbing, four-chambered word machine pumping poetry.

When I think about you I think “sun” and “fierce” and “teeth”. I think “ocean” and “closer” and “hold me”.

Today I walk across campus to the transit center, and settle my body on a slip of warm concrete. Turn my eyes, closed, to the sun. Turn them open to the coming and going and there must be something to this, something obvious I can't quite wrap my thoughts around.

When I relax the focus, here is what I know: heat and skin, and the persistent thrum just below the surface of a beast consumed with its own burning.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What's new, Pussycat? Whoooa, whoooa whooooa....

[In which That Cat has a very different memory of the last month...]

It has been nary a full moon cycle since I was cajoled, with promises of affection, from the tranquility of the neighbor’s sun-drenched porch into the plastic confines of a most egregious hell. I am still haunted by the olfactory specter of urine and my own terror; these scents that lingered in my memory and downy undercoat. A mere month, and yet it seems as if lifetimes have passed! Imagine if you can the slow revolution of the earth beneath us. Somewhere the rain furrows temporary canyons into the flinty terra firma. Somewhere pods burgeon with life into tender green shoots, even as leaves grow heavy with color and drift listlessly to the ground.

I bear witness to none of these common miracles, imprisoned as I am within 400 square feet.

Mother appears to have departed from all her senses. I can only assume her fragile mind was permanently fractured by the traumas we endured, rumbling along in the sweltering belly of the mechanical beast. I have long suspected she lacked mental fortitude. Recently my worst suspicions have been confirmed. She frequently shambles about in various stages of undress, swilling down an acidic dirt water that offends the nose. She becomes quite agitated when I do the simplest things, for example sharpening my claws on the furniture.

I do try to help the poor fool, ensuring she doesn’t injure herself in the process of cleaning, feeding, and clothing her pathetic human body every morning. I’ve found, through stringent scientific elimination, that she responds best to loud vocalization and an occasional swat directed at the Achilles tendon. Eventually, nearly every day, she becomes confused enough to leave the house. I do not know to where she goes, or to what she gets up to! I while away my time, momentarily fretting for her safety before slipping into the restful slumber of the proverbial housecat. Recently, she barged into the house reeking of spicy meats, sweat, and the devil’s brew. God knows what depraved situations she finds herself in. I do not trust this cult of “Taco Tuesday”.

I am sorry to report I do not fare much better. Our domicile is beset on all sides by the most brutish scoundrels. One particular menace enjoys leering through the windows, taunting me with the freedom I am denied. Once whilst I lay in a peaceful reverie, pensively reflecting on the wondrous night sky, he materialized like a nightmare from the cover of his only true mother, The Darkness. The cry that tore itself from my throat was laden with rage and despair! I’m afraid the sound quite rattled poor mother, who sprang from her bed in a cumbersome flurry of confusion. Luckily, the demonic interloper was startled by the sight of her pale, bare breasts swinging pendulous in the darkness. He melted back into the oily night from whence he came.

I have not seen him since, and can only pray the image remains branded in his memory, serving as a permanent deterrent.

Speaking of the night, I must mention that I quite fear for mother’s well-being. Perhaps these past long years I have been selfish, free as I was to wander the dark streets. Even then, no matter how sweet the gloaming dew felt beneath my paws, or how gently the wind rifled my majestic mane, I made sure to call on mother several times to ensure she was well. Now I see she has cleverly lulled me into a gross overestimation of her health. The horrifying truth is that every night, for as many as eight hours, mother becomes so despondent as to be non-responsive. She lies quite still in her bed, face pressed to a pillow, mechanically breathing.

In an attempt to rouse her spirits, I’ve taken to boisterously singing the traditional nightsongs, which run through my veins like blood itself. I encourage her participation with vigorous head kneading. It is often to no avail. She quite determinedly clings to her debilitating apathy. We are as two ships, drifting unmoored upon the tumultuous sea of each day.

Fortunately, I have found respite in my cat tower (the only thing I ever have or ever will love). For some mysterious reason, mother also derives an almost maniacal glee from my sanctuary. Every time she finds me curled restfully in its gentle cradle, she will either shake her head, smiling and muttering You’re the worst. Or crow joyous obscenities such as Goddammit, I KNEW you would like it eventually. I know not of what she speaks. As previously stated, the cat tree was, and always will be, the only thing I love.

I know not where we go from here! I rise in the morning (and the early afternoon, and midday, and in the evening, and several times throughout the night) to fuel my body with ever-plentiful sustenance. I sleep, rousing occasionally only to seek out more direct sunlight. Infrequently, I muster the energy to vomit on the kitchen rug. But at present I feel as though I am merely going through the motions of a half life. I am certain the memories of my former freedom will wither and blow away, as all things must in time. I will know naught but the carefree pleasures of the housecat. I will want for nothing, and yet.

In my dreams, morning dew quivers on the trembling whiskers of my helpless prey. The vermin freezes, pointing a beady eye in the direction of where I crouch, tense and still. I am silent death. I am the reaper. I am stalking closer, and closer, and…

Dammit, mother! How dare you wake me from my dreaming! Yes, I know I am your cutest, most precious little angel. Truly, now is not the time to... Yes, I am also the flurfiest little kitteh. Yes. Of course, yes. I know.

If I knew what to call this, it wouldn't be the same.

If this were my third attempt at writing this paragraph, it would definitely say what I wanted to say. There would be no cliches. The unravelling sequence of words would strike a perfect balance between wry humor, thoughtful observation, and the quiet sort of nostalgia that makes you close your eyes and inhale very slowly through your nose, while gently shaking your head. As if to say “Oh… oh my.” while saying nothing at all.

If this were my third attempt at writing this blog post, I would definitely say something important, so as not to waste your time. Regale you with humorous anecdotes from my first month in San Diego, maybe. The slow process of convincing That Cat she’s no longer a feral beast. The pure joy of accidentally stumbling into the Coronado Beach dog park. The ways I've perfected my coffee ground:swamp water ratio. The simple magic of creating something caffeinated I can drink every morning (two dashes cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla extract).

Or something softer. More sentimental. The days I walk to the big box stores two miles away and cry about the dead pigeons in the underpass. Or the ritualistic quality of my afternoons spent purifying water. Relate that somehow to my life/heart/soul/mind/etc. Somewhere this is poetry. I’d tell you about campus with all its white walls and arches. The way the sunset turns everything pink and orange behind the palm trees. The way something can be so pretty it makes my teeth ache.

If I weren’t afraid of sounding trite, I’d describe the awkward stumble stutter dance of new friendships. Taco Tuesdays and too much tequila, and the taste of 2 a.m. Thai. Reaching out to see who reaches back. And again. And again. And again. Exchanging art and secrets, phone numbers and memories in dark bars and hookah lounges. So in two years someone can say Oh my god, remember when… and some of us will, and some of us won’t but we’ll all laugh anyways. So we hope.  

In my weekly writing workshop, the professor says You’ve written the poem. Now write everything you didn’t want to say. This is how you get to the real. There is an electric box on the road that takes me to school. For the last month, it has said Whatever Happens on one side and it has said I Will Always Love You on the other. Two hands floating in waves of blue, purple, green like a sea of galaxy. I took a picture. I never sent it to you, but I hold onto it because it feels true.

Now that box has been painted over with something I haven’t walked past enough times to memorize. If I knew what it looked like, I would tell you. I promise. I’d lose myself in the simple joy of putting words down, one after the other. I’d remove my head from my shoulders. I’d type with my heart. I would not get distracted by mindless scrolling on a handheld screen.

If I were to draw you a pie chart of my average day, it would look like:
2% - Going to school/doing homework
28% - Worrying that I should be putting more effort into school
12.33% - Lying on my floor, wondering if I will ever stop lying on my floor
17% - Cooking on a hot plate
40.67% - Thinking about tacos. Or, trying to keep the cat from scratching the couch.
**These two things are mutually exclusive.

I would draw you an actual pie chart, but I’m currently lying on my floor, and wondering if I will ever stop lying on my floor.

This is all to convey something very important. Something that gets said too often, but still feels good to hear like I love you or I’m thinking about you or

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear,and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

If this were the end, I would always say Talk to you soon instead of Goodbye, and you’d either be grateful for that or not even notice.

All my love.


Monday, September 12, 2016

A Brief & Incomplete List: #6

Things That Made Me Cry (or at least tear up a little) this Week:

Making oatmeal.

Watching Beyonce’s “Lemonade” for the 47th time.

Driving on the interstate with my window down, and my arm weaving its way through the morning air’s complicated machinery while Regina sings, and I wonder if we ever see our downfalls coming.

The thought of hugging a manatee.

The Ada Limon poem where she writes:
“But love is impossible and it goes on
despite the impossible. You’re the muscle
I cut from the bone and still the bone
remembers, still it wants (so much it wants)
the flesh back, the real thing,
if only to rail against it, if only
to argue and fight, if only to miss
a solve-able absence.”
Watching this video. And thinking about watching this video for the 2-3 hours that followed watching this video.

Standing in solidarity with Standing Rock, on a corner in downtown San Diego with my sister. Listening to traditional prayer songs, and Water is Life, and how glorious it feels to be alive and basking in the unity of its protectors. The strength of the human spirit, and the fact that there are still people who give a damn in this world.

Vodka. A hammock. The time/space continuum. The sound of a voice and the weight of missing.
The Ada Limon poem where she writes:
“...How good it is to love
live things, even when what they’ve done
is terrible, how much we each want to be
the pure exonerated creature, to be turned loose
into our own wide open without a single
harness of sin to stop us.”

A crippling hangover.

The finales of not one, or two, but three different seasons of television. How it felt like saying goodbye to the only friends I have out here. Watching Murphy sleep. Mission Beach at sunset, and how the light looks on the water, everything glowing rosy pink. The sun through the inversion layer. How it rattles on the horizon like a white pill the ocean swallows every night, but still never sleeps.

Feeling lonely the way that lonely must be.