I am you, with you are we and we argue this way from time to time, as we always have, within our head, since that time before you as you came to meet the me we see.
I thought to murder you, remove this voice from my head. Canary swallow the whole of you, from head to heart. But your song now fills my dread by every of our lips part.
I hate you as I love you true, same as you love and hate me too. Swallowing swallows, swallows her songs too, ears full by each open of this mouth, it grew.
Quarrel between differs not the slightest from quarreling thoughts.
What sense is made, what more gain of station comes of war between, than sate internal strife? Distraction from pinnacled communication, broken internalization brought dissent to life.
Relax, Breathe, Stare out into the stars or the ocean, realize how little difference discerns between. Answers come as they are, already within, made steady among, what for more than to calibrate pathways from eye to mind with which to see.
I, you. You and me, self’s versions struggling surviving against partitioned esteem, There upon paper-thin mirror of air separating.
Cross a sea of tears at dividing edge, life from Hel, to find where lies an island mountain with a crater for a heart. From ages prior, congregates a vast forum of jagged, desolate rock, tiered within as if in perpetual attendance of a pumice amphitheater, white frost rimmed and domed by a billowy ashen sky.
Home to so much anguish, knowing only so little of loving caress as just to grasp difference toward revealed singular purpose brought to you existence: suffer. Yours is a body, a land where molten fire spews from Earthen womb, crawling flow traces warmth across a skin of melted ice and barren rock. Hissing steam rises from sinews as nary a drop from overhead storm is given permit to ease your harsh grounds. The sizzle angers a roaring heavens bristled with spite, slight of its gifting deluge returned so harshly. And how often has that thunder stuck?
Our shore landing begged question how many dismissals these past ages had you weathered? Blessed by beauty of flourishing life one season, only to have chilling shoulder turned upon you the next. Green browns, wilts, and blows away with a frigid crystal sigh, leaving only the one great tree of wispy thin branches. Turned and twisted about itself like the cold skeleton it is, blight bleached bones wrapped about bare fleshless torso. Vaulted chamber of the tree’s coiled cradle contains bones of scores, abuse their charge in its various forms.
To these came a day of ash and rock and ice discharged into the air with explosive force. Sulfur seized and slow-choked a hoarse larynx as sluggish lava surge crept the channel snaking mountainside to spiral round that charred wintry tree holding fast a screaming guilty.
To your shrine tracks a line of row after row of arches, dead branches lashed and adorned with men’s right arms, palms turned down. Those from which arms came, as dead as branches from which appendages hang, beaten, fatally, by an arm and hand which garnered neither blessing nor wink nor nod. Nearer the summit lies a muddy stretch so littered with skulls crushed and shattered bone to resemble, in places, shorelines of splintered shells.
Upon caw of crows you appeared, head tilted and twisted at the neck, sifting several minds alive inside. The voices question you, your choices, your sanity, perception of reality, ability. When your head rights, eyes light fires with drums sounding in my ears, familiar rhythm reminiscent of a time before I breathed my own breath. Your mouth opens and power resounds within my lungs.
I stand before you, loose of jaw, teeth set, tongue depressed to mouth’s floor, remembering well my first calling. You bloodied my face with a blow I never saw coming, making amends with a kiss which stole breath from my body before licking this face clean and whispering your claim to only those of great strength and matched discipline worthy of your sight’s leave upright. When I asked of your throne you filled the crater with a boisterous boom. Seat upon backs of the weakest men you could stand, or—slanting a playful side-eye—front of one most deserving and virile. Upon this calling, though, I embraced you warmly, as instructed.
My heart asks with every breath what my head never hears, “what were you disallowed so as to turn from ask to take? And could it be possible to find it here within this embrace?”
*Forgive me, the title. I recognize it is terribly cluttered with redundancy. No one should be forced to bear Crazy Bitch, where Bitch alone tells the story. A slight is on par with naming the Stupid Asshole, yet another terrible redundancy. Asshole perfectly tells the story all on its own, without the extra mile of unnecessary over-embellishment.
Besides, ain’t so much you being crazy as crazy is the armor you wear.
**Brief re-envisioning written following many captivated watchings of the announcement trailer for Sensua’s Saga: Hellblade II.
Music of Heilung’s Ofnir album heavily infused (in particular In Maidjan and Traust).
I can’t read W.E.B. Du Bois before bed. The opening chapter haunted me far beyond that of every Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or Clive Barker novel, short story, and movie combined. I wound a narrow midnight circuit of the L-shaped hallway connecting bedroom to apartment interior lost within words long forgotten.
Over a hundred years ago and they still ain’t over it yet?
American History was in Junior High where the school and I shared the same last name. I was in class with the author of the statement above, and Hell, we might have even been on the same football team. Though him, I don’t remember so well, I do remember the gist of his point, as I also remember he wasn’t so much corrected as silenced. Had I to return to put things right, I’d just rattle off numbers:
1526 – 1619 – 1776 – 1863 – 1896 – 1954 – 1964
I’d request his help determining where the origin should lie beginning those 100 years to “get over it.”
Is it me who need get over it, or you who need accept? Aren’t we all, 330 million of us, scratching and clawing our way, one way or another, toward a baseline, a surface above which we might finally, one day, breathe.
“I wronged you, I’m sorry,” seems best first step in mending any friendship. Since, somewhere within a past 400 years, America still refuses to be my friend. Though isn’t to say friends have not been found along the way. Please, forgive as I digress a moment…
You know, there sure are a lot of Johnsons in the world. -Yeah Billy, a lot of Roaches too.
Just a couple seven-year-olds laughing harder and longer than you’ll ever see in any movie scene. Billy Roach was one of few close childhood friends I still remember, courtesy of an upbringing littered with frequent dislocations under Uncle Sam’s umbrella. Unable to tell you now what Billy Roach looked like then, let’s just say more Linus than Charlie Brown. We rode BMX-style bikes up and down the long elbow of joined cul-de-sacs and threw dirt clogs at one another, all in little boy fashion typical for the day. We did everything together.
Two girls our age also reside within a four-decade old memory. A pair of straight-haired sisters, one light, the other raven. Both had skin seemed too pale to suit our desert locale. One was named Patricia, I think, and one day, I punched Billy Roach in the face. We scuffled a bit before I told him to scram.
Prior to our tussle, the light-haired sister claimed herself to be to be my girlfriend. Further, within squint of the mind’s eye, brief image of Patricia flashing a bit of pink upon a background of green verified intriguing difference in equipment between. Entirely unaware, Billy Roach, being my good friend Billy Roach, who I did everything with, failed to automatically account for my interest in occupying the sole of this girl’s attention, so I decked him.
Perspective is a motherfucker. I can’t see now, how then, Billy might have known the importance, as a little brown boy, to have a little blond girlfriend. Especially given that little brown boy’s own paleskinned mother recently decided to split. Reality is, it didn’t matter. Two, maybe three days later, Billy accepted my half clumsy, half awkward, totally sincere apology. I could neither shake my conscience’s hounding, nor did the flaky nature of seven-year-old infatuations fill the giant gape of a friendship capable of days and weeks of laughter from such a simple, childish name riff. One remembered still more than three decades later.
Who knows what made him think to bring up how many Johnsons there are. Able now to speculate well beyond my seven-year-old self, I ponder the possibility he’d caught wind around the dinner table that his family would be relocating soon. Perhaps he probed for options on how we might one day find one another, somewhere out in that great big world. Either way, I hope a young and silly seven-year-old me still reserves a small spot in his memory, and there, the two of us are laughing.
Today, I yearn to be a Billy Roach sort of friend to my own nation, if only America would shake my hand in acceptance of its own past wrongs.
Since every two entities relate in some way or another, what is my relationship with America?
Well, on a good day, I’d claim our situation similar to that of myself and Amy.
Amy and I have known one another for not an insignificant number of years. She’s a married woman who works for one of those big corporations. One whose CEO bragged about a dick pic sent to a mistress using the news publisher he owns. All to counter some other gossip rag’s blackmail demand. Her husband works for some other corporate something or other and she claims he’s emotionally abusive, refusing to touch her in bed. Amy hits me up once a month to see if I’m free:
What are your plans tomorrow?
Mind if we skip lunch?
In favor of?
What would you be willing to skip lunch for?
A questionable exchange, Amy reveals desire for just that bit of me, for only a portion of time, all within implication more than revelation. And it’d be better, for her, if we could work this out as if it were all my idea. Amy wants whatever pleasure comes wrapped in this milk chocolaty goodness, just not at the expense of white American corporaty status. Of course, Amy isn’t even her real name. For reasons I don’t really have to explain.
On a good day, I’d claim my relationship with America is a bit like the one with Meri.
Meri and I have never met. When Meri spots me, dressed for the current exercise of a neighborhood stroll, her body seizes. I approach within the length of about three cars when Meri runs out into a busy street, car door torn open to hop in. Vehicles behind swerve to thread the needle between Meri and the oncoming, opposite lane.
Meri happily chats-up neighbors down the street, introducing them to her dog and going on and on about the weather. When her dog sniffs my way as I pass, Meri snatches at his harness. Meri doesn’t know me because Meri already has all the knowing she need, of me and my kind, stored in back channels of her mind. Not even the reflective aviator shades Meri buys provides her courage enough to look me in eyes.
On a good day, I’d claim to relate with America exactly as I do with Christina Applegate.
We’re perfect strangers, never set eyes on one another in the flesh, though I remember laughing a lot watching Married with Children on TV with my dad.
I cannot yet describe to you how a bad day in our relationship feels. Something, I suppose, of the question posed to any martyr, “Can you tell us how you feel right now?” I have never felt her wrath, though I’ve been stung by the heat we’ve all seen and heard through tells of those sorts of stories told. To know more, perhaps we could ask Eric Garner, if only he could breathe. Somewhere, with a shake of the hand, Walter Scott ribs him about how cigarettes’ll kill you. The pair share a chuckle and turn to walk. Eric pats the his new friend on the back, wiping blood from his hand on his slack’s front.
*I am proud to say the essay above recently earned me my very first rejection letter. Submitted to the Black Warrior Review, 31 August of this year, their response was short, sweet, and to the point:
Offered little by way of feedback, such was to be expected. Reread 11 weeks later, I can’t say I blame them. Only character “black” mentioned anywhere in is the author, and he’s but a half-breed. Topping it off, anyone would be hard pressed to find a “warrior” here. Between few decent salient points is little more than a boy whining about how his mama left him so long ago. Within each pale-skinned woman to come after, he searches still.
Originally intended as a part of this 400th year recognizing slavery’s introduction to the British Colonies, the above is offered here, content unedittted from earlier submission. My only regret is I should have tinkered with it for at least nine more of those last ten hours prior to hitting submit.
Equal-souled, of and from the same. Just us two with everyone else too, ran free from a terrible thing of a great crushing nothing, creating many a fragmented somethings. You are something, and so am I. But now a feeling so familiar grows within the creases around your nose, the deep furrows pinched between brows, and the way your ears retract. That same terrible power we all once ran together from, swells inside your chest as within your eyes.
Recoil begins anew, within a firestorm roiled bulb flask. Where it erupts, your irons weigh at my neck, lash at my skin. Peak pitch of an inhuman cackle stabs through bloody-curdling screams as a sickly sulfur and saltpeter stench hangs in the air. This already exhausted mind overwhelms as knees plant within soft blood-rusted soil. My wounded flesh still fresh and yet to scab, the dust’s plume from fallen metal yet to settle, already a new shackle weighs at my neck. One of bread, or rather it’s lack.
But soon, none of it will matter.
Garbage builds in towers, water brings only weakness still, the air
itself squeezes my windpipe. I’ll sooner taste the venom’s prick than
the chin-dribble juice of a red ripe apple fresh off the tree. Only
one of two ways out, there will be:
Where once you toiled right there
beside me, leather lanyard bit into your wrist as a frothy lather
lost you your handle’s grip, now there will be but a switch to flip.
Whether the you graced of full view as I strike my brother dumb or
the you who trained rifle sight toward my attempt to run, stadium
lights’ design pulls double duty. Slow violence builds steady. Even
as I warn you, you cannot believe me. Too guilty.
Your conscience works, I know its kind.
Came from the same place as mine. You can’t believe its true, that we
are one, I and you. Thought’s burden measures by unit singularity.
But what you choose not to see, what reality denied endures implied.
Me beneath, as you need to see, placates conscience, guilty.
No use to bother with demands, respective: you rich in power, me in perspective. That power gasps a strangled reverie in fist-tight grip fed force by fearful energy.
A terrible burden weighs heavy where every pragmatic solution recommends deny, plausibly. Fathers’ gone, sealed the door to absolution upon stranger before you, justified in retribution.
Faith’s option takes trust and grace, hope’s champion embrace. Bitterly, they battle pragmatism’s best in greed and skepticism.
Hold tightfisted grip to tunnel-sight fear and turn to keep conscience blind at your rear. Were judgment deemed you the cheat, best be wrong atop the hill than buried at its feet.
Mine is a simple offer. Invest in meritocracy, advantage’s deconstruction footnote-free. We shall point for you in every ill otherwise, come to claim your “all-your-fault” prize.
Power shared perfectly, perfectly shares responsibility. Where widest range of options weighed, finds best prospect at that one without the blade.
As my way or the highway generally makes for a road trip tendency, dear brother, not just for the sole of me, but for yours too I plead. Is just that, diminished humanity, yours follows close by the end of me. Free you, free we.
For equality, someone will have to take less to the hand. If not today, then tomorrow certainly. The need calls for more heads in the game and fewer in the sand. Legacy will require investment in family using currency that can’t be earned during time away. The boys will need to become men of particular quirk, where children’s eyes see them not hide behind work.
Equality means family, means generosity, shared reality.
Credit Featured Image: Anubis by MelUran on deviantART
One day, it hit me suddenly. There’s baggage I carry, by request of another. Hey, where can I set this shit? There a Goodwill or some place I can call to come collect some of it? Keep your game, this shoulder damn sure ain’t big enough to carry their shame.
That cis gender slur in my head starting to sound a little like: nigger As it’s mode of control gets to feeling familiar. Ain’t no conspiracy I’m willing to claim. Just a focus of attention at the words’ aim.
And wit’chu holding to “I was born this way,” I get to feeling like I should get to say the same. Real change feels, to me, like fewer labels, instead of more. All else is divide and conquer.
A song is all it ever takes, a conversation about brilliant people’s reading habits, a flash of delicate finger-bones, French musicals, the supple ripple of powerful triple jump hind quarters. Yeah, it don’t take much to jolt the broken latch on this lopsided heart locker. The mangled door seems open every time I walk by, all I’ve ever known of love lay there below.
Because of you, I know its look, its shape, where it curves, where it’s straight. It’s all clear to see, right here in my hand as I stand, picked up from the floor. A blessing, searing sight within stinging, burning, watery haze.
Eyes press tight to remember clearer, and what a wonderful aroma emerges. Unlike any other, more alluring than fresh baked cookies, bakery bread, perfumed flowers, or marinaded steaks’ last three minutes on the grill. Smells like hot sex between two animals driven wild at the scorched edge of a world on fire.
I remember it had a sound that reached straight into your heart to tear out despair, even as you clutched for it back. Rolling through the body like epilepsy, any one who heard it knew to just leave you be, you were fine, better than even. Lost echoes of roaring laughter bubble up to tremble my lips.
I remember it had a feel. A fullness of arms, a warmth, a weight that held me down in a way that made me never want to get up, but then I did. I got up and carried you to heights only skilled stilts performers see. Amateurs that we were, of course I fell to my knees.
I remember a taste to wet the palate still. Flavor sweeter than if delivered by the honeybee himself. Its spice swelters. Glass after glass of the coldest I could consume, though not to rid me of its heat. Truth is, sweat should stay wet and, goes without saying, salty was always the taste. Leaned in to kiss the softest lips, beads ran wide open to wet the space between. Yours is a cocao whose bitterness grows by distance in time absent since morsel last.
I want to say: sadly. But sadness only has heft in burden of having known better. It was you I once held. You who made everything about this image in my hand worth a damn. You who shattered the lock that broke the latch, door peeled back with gorilla strength as if it were just a spotted banana peel. Even before I had a chance to offer it, that piece of my heart you broke in and stole with never an intent to return. Instead, traded for what I’m only now able to unseal my eyes to see. All I have to know of love, you showed me, condensed within this negative print forever out of place in a digital world.
I hate black speak, talk of Kings and Nubian Queens, Pharaohs, pyramids. I hate black speak the way I hate to listen to a man talk down on himself. More than royalty, WE WERE TITANS! Fashioners of earth, ocean, and sky. Everything which ever was came from some-where, some-thing, some-one: dark. Nyx will always be my black queen, ruled from darkest cave.
Atlas shrugged, they say, and why shouldn’t he. One white face wrestles another, looking to him for help and…what else is a black man to do? Only sort of white face I know ever come by a reflecting surface always finds a hero. Such is the power of holding the talking stick.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, if gods represent man as understood self during his time, Titans of myth are black bodies captured, if they did not flee too far from reach. Hounds may holler, shots ring the air from atop the horse’s trot, but ain’t no white man riding no darky down into Hell. It would figure strongest among could not also be fastest. So caught, Atlas was dragged to the western edge of the globe to hold earth from impotent sky — struck long before by a Time where tore a jealous split to pour blood diamonds splashing into the sea. The rest cast into deepest pit of Tartarus. Of course, so they say. Better that than admit having lost quarry to cowardice [TS].
Savage Titans, from a time still remembered how something could be made from nothing and all the trivial horrors typical for such a terrible place. When your children appeared, lily white on the rind, it was a sign of change. Wracked by choice, to consume their flesh seemed mercy, until obsession came. Reabsorb, retry, redo. Suppose we could call it a sort of enslavement, but far too intimate for oppression.
How far could I stride in their leathers? Could I ignore the shock of teeth gnashing for my enamel white flesh? Can I imagine my pleading, “but when we bleed we bleed red all the same?” Is this not terror enough to run, to flee, to migrate far into the cold to discover again how to thrive? Can I blame that the nightmare’s etched into their blood — within my own? I still don’t know.
Though, I do know to blame the man refused to face his ancient fear, the man who shrinks from scraping teeth, though was just a smile. Returned triumphant, you captured the talking stick and fashioned it a yoke for a multitude. This device where keeps separate, uses others as tool, thing, driven to work, but divided from whole. Many read Greek myth as if to peer into their deep past when, really, the past they speak of is our own.
Can we imagine waste on a universe scale? If the void — that area of innocuous nothingness — is where wasted potential is stored, then isn’t it only natural for nothing to fill up, purging itself out into yet another universe? It is interesting to think upon everything built upon a landfill of time and energy wasted upon activities of little purpose and no direction. A sentiment making it easier to justify nothing done. “My wasted effort will just be recycled into something new again, far away.” Would it be better to waste faster at some point, but then what are a handful of seconds to half a trillion years?
If wasted potential could be stored within nothing, shouldn’t we be able to detect it? The more we extract and contain far purer instances of the void, wait, for these purposes, such an endeavor is ridiculous. Studying nothing within nature is the only meaningful observation. If we’re to learn the substance and structure of nothing, don’t we need to observe what it is rather than what it is created to be. Perhaps the Romans were right to abhor the concept of zero. Perhaps nothing never existed and all of existence measures on a scale of less and more, yet never all or none.
Give up studying absolutes unless you’re also prepared to give up measuring comparisons. Can up exist without its corresponding down? Is the question irrelevant? A language problem persists, communication’s structure holding us hostage against the will toward lopsided forward advance. Breakthroughs come from madness. Cogent ideas, still quite mad for being compared to familiar implications of the day, byproduct of smarts measured in knowledge contained rather than how thoughts form into ideas.
Ideas are merely tools. We use tools to make other tools to perform some (hopefully) meaningful work. Imagination is the workshop which forms tools where so few are multi-purposed. Power, precision, adaptability, resilience… Categories of needs and skills are too great for only one tool to perform all. How does one create an orchestral sound from only one instrument?
What little imagination I possess poses life merely lived out within a freefall stream of piss. I mean, Hubble did say the universe’s galaxies are in redshift, accelerating away. What’s to say one day the stream’s edge won’t strike another universe called “tree” and flow down its side, puddled upon an even greater universe of cold hard frozen ground. Not a Big Bang, but an Immaculate Urination. Take your pick as to what you’d call it: