Noise Pulled into Notes

“Still, we ignite anyway,
becoming love in
a time of fire, almost
touching our lost
fingers in a collapsing
swirl of sparks—”

–from Brendan’s poem “Love in a Time of Fire”

I’ve been sitting on these words, so many words, and I have been lost on them and yet breathing them for too many seasons. Brendan’s poem above unblocked me, so here goes a start to what I am centering around:

 

 

It’s Just You. And a Pulse. And breath.

 

Carl Jung said

“The highest and most decisive experience of all…to be alone with one’s own self…whatever you choose to call the objectivity of the psyche…the patient must be alone if he is to find out what it is that supports him when he can no longer support himself. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation.”

I have been spending the last several months to maybe even since last winter when I wrote an essay about a little black flower, Papa Hemingway, and the circles we center around and travel and leave lost footsteps around. Here’s a clip:

“…Walcott’s old and tired voice deep in my own chest it seemed as he read: ‘I broke my own heart too. It’s broken and gone…you were my little black flower…’   And just like that, breathing was suddenly harder to do. My throat hurt, my eyes stung. I stopped walking. I stood there on the sidewalk staring into a sort of what I call a “shiver” of what was keeping me—a glimpse. Emotions rolled to the surface and my heart continued a forgotten ache. That line, that one line (I bit my glove off and replayed the audio) “I broke my own heart, my little black flower…”  The tears were a relief and I walked home with a hole in my chest. I replayed it over and over, pacing the warm wood floors, an eagerness growing in my body….”

Later in the essay I wrote “love doesn’t exist when it cannot get in or out-what keeps you are the black petals surrounding your center–and those petals are what you had left out of all that you had and lost , that kept you going.” –They are the pieces of you you spent your life giving away, letting, and taking from, cowering from yet hovering over your gutted pearl someone took from you and threw into the ocean, leaving you the shell sucking up silence like the ocean–an emptiness you would forever try to fill, your identity and worth words others use freely towards their own foundation.  You spend a lot of time losing yourself in what you thought you would be versus what you had become, and then that black flower dies and blooms again wild and new, into what you are becoming–constantly becoming. I am my own Black Flower. We all are.

I thought I had to find love from someone to fix this. To be the something that would pull the noise I am into notes. But love never belonged to me as my own, so I put it in a box-designed, painted, framed and absolute–so absolute that I couldn’t fit inside it right–loose in all that room. I thought love meant something was wanted from me that I couldn’t part with because there were so few pieces left. I was too small for what I Read More

Advertisements

Shame and Lightning

 

 

“I am Burning and Becoming…
I Heard about shame and I heard about lightning…”

I have spent I wonder how many evenings and dark mornings pausing beneath street lights, circling around and over and through and across but not quite in to the center of what has been festering in me, blooming, burning, becoming. How many trips did Bon Iver take with me as I worked my away around charting the symptoms of lust and love confused, of a discovery of myself, my body.
I have been pretending in my life. Not sleeping. Pretending. Because parts of what I am and who I am are hard to accept for me. This is about looking at myself, stripped of tragedy and triumphs, and I’m standing in the street alone in the dark, my heart fluttering in my chest as I make yet another connection–the big one about my body. Hunger started fucking me long ago. So much hunger. But I’ve passed that point and am now mapping the symptoms I’ve charted.
I am my body.
I just spent six years rejecting that notion, teaching myself with reason, logic, and books from the greats that I am consciousness–I am not my body. But I am. My body has been my instrument since its very beginning. It shut down when it was taken, and it hid so well I lost me for a very long time. It returned in a sick state I tended to once I was able to attend. My body has been my alarm system, enemy and foe and protector for a long Read More

Forget Your Personal Tragedy

 

Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it–don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist–but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.

-Hemingway

Starry Eyed Seas

I’m stuck on what to write about for the blog, as I am in a sea of stories, vignettes, ideas, chapters, tabs, notebooks, note-cards, and a new storyboard on the actual wall. But this quote by Allen Ginsberg I found in my writing notebook is saying something to me in some kind of poetry, about my current life as of now and how it feels and how the creation of the book grows, and so on. So I am going to free-write a poem about Ginsberg’s quote, which is this:

“Without even intending it, there is that little shiver of a moment in time preserved in the crystal cabinet of the mind. A little shiver of eternal space. That’s what I was looking for.”

–Allen Ginsberg

 

“That’s-what-I-was-looking-for.”

When I look at it, when I word what I’m looking for,

it vanishes. Once I get to the word “looking”

I see the tail end of its nightgown moving as if underwater

rounding the corner or entering a door, carrying away

the simplest sentence I have chased all this time.

The words, the connections, move but also elude me. Like treasures

in lush green grass I get intoxicated like Sarah

in Jareth’s labyrinth, time escaping, all wrapped up by

oddities, curiosities, layers, touch, sight, smell, test.

 

So I go back.

“…there-is-that-little-shiver-of-a-moment-in-time-preserved-in-the-crystal-cabinet….”

Shivers of moments. Shimmers. Light. Slivers. I see Chekhov freshly pressed in Times New Roman:

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

I carry so many shivers, gathering them in my notebooks and poems,

quick jots, so that I may take it to the keyboard and write the vignette–

the cut-out of my heart.

 

All these pieces are from one broken mirror, its large pieces

splintered; sharp diamonds reflecting the night sky overhead.

I near the broken mirror barefoot in the grass, and the pieces

look like speckled seas I could dip my toe in, then maybe my limbs and body

and then under into the cool diamond-studded water;

so deep is the purpose of my reflection

that it too eludes me–

the water, the night reflecting myself

contains universes, black holes and dwarf stars,

death stars and gases and vacuums

and molecules and atoms

and the graveyard for stars.

 

The purpose.

The purpose of the words? To reveal the shiver,

so shaken that words lose sound and then form.

To reveal the shiver–the trembling, clearest point

of guts and instinct and longing, pain, and beauty.

To reveal the shiver–which is ourselves.

 

 

Silent Centers

My father arranged me to frame despair

in the shape of a shell–

he said it

would make me look pretty

as he dropped my gutted pearl

into the water,

closed me in his palm,

and took me home for dinner.

 

I’d curl up in my empty body late at night

when the heater kicked in

and line my dolls up on the smooth

belly of the shell,

sweating and organizing and kissing them,

trying to make room, trying to love

and a forgotten piece in me would move–

like an isolated bubble, a pressure in my chest rising

until it hardened into a globe of glass,

and I fingered the marble

in my pocket each time he made me nervous.

 

My skin hardened into porcelain.

My lips a painted curve.

The girl in the womb and the doll in the house

looked at each other in the mirror,

and I was the mirror

I was a million different faces;

this cannot be explained any other way.

 

I became the dolls on my bed and

in their small house in the corner

I became their holidays and patterned wallpaper;

I became the patterns of my behavior–

trained, obedient, good.

I became the shell at the dinner table,

sucking up silence like the ocean.

 

I told myself

if I had nothing,

that’s what would come back.

And getting nothing back

meant you didn’t have to love.

And what was love to that girl

with her marble

and no pearl.

With Wild Wolves Around You

“Petals”

A Memoir Excerpt Published Here at Two Drops of Ink

Note: This is a vignette from my memoir-in-progress, Small Parts. This piece is part of a chapter early on in the memoir-a scene of myself with my biological father before I left for another city with my mother and abusive stepfather. That abuse resulted in suffering from Complex Trauma/Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder and dissociation for a large part of my life. A loss of the self, and the rebuilding of a woman. The memoir is in vignettes and disordered prose, mirroring how my mind works.

 BY AMY SPRAGUE

 

 I fish for the knife in the pocket of my dirty overalls and slice at Barbie’s pretty blue eyes, so they open. I sit and poke little holes where her pupils are, and then I saw at her ratty hair. I lick my bottom lip, almost got it. A pleasure fills me.

“Amy!” Nikki dashes out of the white hamper of a farmhouse, the screen door slamming shut. I throw the doll, stash the knife in my pocket, and leap out of the lilacs in time to see her break across the dirt driveway for the grass. I know she is heading for the apple trees.  The swing.

Lunch must be over because Gramma Helen walks out after, pressing her wrist to her lower back, her heavy arms tan against the white apron she always wears.

“Amy Jo, I know you was out here in them flowers again,” but I have no time for her, it’s my turn for the swing.

“Daddy John says he’ll push you now!” Nikki squeaks with excitement. I can hear the zip-zip of her corduroy pant legs racing ahead of me, but I know she’ll save it for me even if she wins.

The swing is made out of a splintered, soft wood with thinning yellowed ropes knotted beneath it, reaching up to the boughs of the crab apple tree. It creeks when I swing and the pink apple blossoms shake down like snow to
the green grass my bare feet dangle over. I pick at the unraveling cords and notice the fresh grass stains on my knees around a medium-sized hole I had managed to make in the pant leg. I want to pretend it’s not there, that it will go unnoticed at home. Read More

Tripwire, Cigarette, Pencil

Tripwire, Cigarette, Pencil–in that order.

THE TRIPWIRE–TO TRICK AND CATCH ME, KEEP ME LOOKING, ALWAYS LOOKING WITH ALL OF MY SENSES, KEEPING THAT INTUITION SHARP AND PARANOID.

THE CIGARETTE–FOR ATTEMPTED ESCAPES, FOR GRANDIOSE TAIL-CHASING, ESCAPADES IN THE BIN, SMALL REWARDS FOR BAD SHORTCUTS, COMPRESSED AND REPRESSED PASSIONS, DIRTY GOODNESS AND SNEAKY REMORSE, THE ULTIMATE CURSE FOR ALL OF US THAT WRITE OR PAINT OR PLAY AND COMPOSE–BECAUSE WE DON’T CARE ABOUT OUR BALANCE IF IT’S GONNA TRIPWIRE THE PROCESS; BECAUSE WE KNOW WE WILL NEVER PERFECT THAT SONG, THOSE WORDS, THAT VISION, THAT SOUND IN OUR MINDS AND HANDS, PLAYING OUR BODIES AND ABUSING OUR MINDS THAT NEVER REST.

THE PENCIL–ALL I HAVE.

Hurt, in Black

This is a poem about the night I painted my writing room completely black, shortly after I admitted myself and spiraled out.

I hurt myself today

to see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

the only thing’s that real

 

Out there, just outside of town, the frozen

snow-a crystallized ocean in the moonlight and icy stars,

their white heat, their white bodies

still against the night’s sheet of winter.

The land a bald moon out the window, the birch trees

black past the fields.

I am painting. Strokes and rendered slides of the brush,

steady, steady focus on the many canvases…

dip, skim,

into “Space Black” the gallon reads.

 

The old familiar sting

try to kill it all away

but I remember everything

 

I paint my reflection onto the white walls.

My fiance and child somewhere in the house

maybe asleep. Or not there at all.

Bald white planet out my window,

I trace my eyes and lashes in ebony lashes across

my computer desk. The

white lampshades. The

white picture frames. The

white bookshelves. The

white ceiling and trim. The

white woman in the dark. Voices come at night. I am afraid to sleep.

 

What have I become

my sweetest friend

everything I know goes away

in the end

 

My history I remember smooths past me

in a narrative I watch with each brush stroke and stride.

The story, what is this story, I do not know, but

my hands are sweating like they do

in the essays that pour out for my next class

in the morning.

Memoir.

I paint faster. I feed the temperature.

I cannot see me in the mirror anymore.

But I never could, I calmly mouth the words

“I never could…” up to the corner where the walls

meet the ceiling. The

white is almost gone. It must go. The lighting

is changing, hiding me, I hear the dryer’s tumbling

has stopped. But the sun it can’t come out.

I can’t.

I take sanctuary in night. I paint the girl

from my childhood who dreamt of being a singer.

I paint the young woman who stopped feeling in front

of a mirror one Sunday after church. I paint the young woman

 

I wear this crown of thorns

upon my liar’s chair

full of broken thoughts

I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time

the feelings disappear

You are someone else

I am still not here

 

high on ecstasy on the rooftop of a building downtown

in a city I couldn’t get lost in no matter how I tried-and

how she was afraid the control she had been losing

she would lose at that very moment, above the far-away

pavement. I paint how

she never lost that part though, just all the rest.

All the empty pill and booze bottles, amphetamines and cut coke.

I paint her father’s death. I paint her mania. Her depression.

And still, I cannot frame this piece.

I can’t figure out what all this black means,

all this vacancy. I just don’t want the voices

when my eyes get heavy. More.

I just don’t want to wake up and have to take care

of what I built of my life with these numb hands,

Because I am

Erasing.
I am painting

it away and darkness ahead, behind, and now, it’s all I see.

 

You could have it all, my empire of dirt

I will let you down

I will make you Hurt.

Exposure

Memoirists are  often held up to harsh light. The needle-prodding into what is truth, what is your truth, what is the one and only truth?   And what are our memories but perceptions? I am going to trust my language, trust my memory that abides more by flashbacks in body and cognition. I can tell you I will honor my suffering, I will trust that what I went through is worth writing about and I only know that because it has kept me awake at night for over fifteen years. My mind is wired against what is expected of nonfiction writers, so I will tell my story as I have seen it and felt it, in a sort of peripheral blur of cognitive, emotional, and physiological flashbacks, along with so many moments of clarity that I could never outrun. I know what happened happened, because my body remembers it the way you might remember the feeling of water holding your body up in the ocean, the way your grandmother’s arthritic fingers traced circles on your hand and back when you were young and maybe afraid; the way rain smells on the street and the vision of those drops on the blooms by the back door where you retrieve your newspaper and Spring fills you and in that moment–you may have missed it–but you were existing between two spheres, coexisting in the memory of the fragrance of lilacs in rain in May  while simultaneously putting your body in the present moment of something new.

That is how I work–I am between those spaces yet in both at the same time, so that part of me steps back and watches on the fringe, curious.

Like the time I smelled ici perfume at Macy’s about ten years ago and it pleasured my sense of smell while at the same time triggered an old emotional state and fear response because I suddenly was aware that I had been wearing that perfume on the Sunday afternoon after church when my stepfather told me he didn’t see me as his real daughter but rather as an object of desire he would try to control himself around. Read More