Constant State of Flux

A hot summer evening, hot enough

to lay my tireless, unending head

on the pillow for its coolness;

thunder cracking down

my avenue

and the rain slanting in sideways, wetting

the paisley curtains.

Somewhere out in that dark the pine

that surrounds me soaks.

 

These nights I am not climbing up

the roots of forgotten things,

I am not clawing

for something solid to breathe my air into,

the old familiar ache of

wanting to feel through my own skin so hard

that I push through like a broken bone

 

because I am here, in a

constant state

of awakening, sometimes only to another dream

only to wake up again

and I stand in the mirror across the room,

and the lightning

floods the black kitchen

and I see a flash of my eyes in the reflection

–my image, so alive that it’s white

heat snags the clouds in a jolt.

There is a calm that never seems to tire,

embedded in my veins, the blood flowing

and I wait

for my mind to revert towards the habits

of self negligence and fear

 

but I am a cyclical rhythm

that sustains itself

and I know a small part in me believes

that I have won something with

my own two hands and tampered mind

when I had had no hands to grip with–

a blind privacy and a last call out to the only thing left

 

my will

 

I had left for dead in the gutter,  camouflaged in an alley

as elegant graffiti, crumbling brick, a broken phone booth–

the shards of glass scattered out across the pavement

and potholes–

    “did you see the moon? in the pieces of glass?”   my will asks me

“I wasn’t looking down,”     I reply

      “so then you looked up and saw the moon instead, love?”  my will is relentless

“No, I tired of dreaming. Hold it up to my face, the glass, and see if I shake,”

         My will  smiles, “straight ahead then, love, beaten and brighter…”

 

And my daughter is asleep tucked away

in the corner of the house;

the coffee is off,

and the flowers I just planted

out in the window-box

are getting beaten but maybe brighter;

it is enough to have these nights.

 

We are not born with a religion in our mind.

We are not born with a narrative or a script.

Tell me you have the courage

to scrawl across your own body

the tattoo of your story,

and would you let someone read it?

 

 

 

*image Noell Oszvald

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Love Your Scribbled, Secret Notebooks

I used to write sad, short, unassociated erotica when I was like…..a fourteen year old Catholic school girl. I’d wait for a quiet empty house when the family was away or out. I’d write the words lightly in pencil so I could erase it. At that time in my life all of the stories centered on lust–which to me was just scribbling whatever would cause that physical rush through my body. I wanted romance but only a romance that had a specific goal–caressing and touching, kisses and naughty terminology and oh my I thought I was going to burn in hell. I believed that that’s what love was. That it had nothing to do with yourself.

Kerouac's first belief....
Kerouac’s first belief….

It was my secret. Now I’m trying to find that mastered fear and write like that again, no erasers for me. But I felt that same fire the first time I learned the hard way what justice meant for the unjust. I felt it the first time I felt power in my talent. I felt it in the first and last time I was abandoned, left to the wolves. Or the last time someone held a mirror up to my eyes and I didn’t liked what I saw, and I ate change like Lady Lazarus ate men.
For those of us who know that deep burning, driving, nameless desire–then it’s no shock to assume that for you as it is for me, it changes shape and form but never its taste. When I went mad and almost killed myself, it was there too–that taste. I tasted nothing for years, a good ten years, and then, there it was, right at the back of my tongue while they shot me up with anti-psychotics and a sedative. In the wild deathless chase to the end, turns out I wanted to live. And so, as there was nothing left of myself I hadn’t destroyed, I used what was left–that small spark. I couldn’t figure out why it was still there, miniscule. It took five years for me to see its growth. I began nurturing it, I bent over it in the dark like a shawled mother owl hovering against the slightest change in wind. I told no one. Because who would have believed me then? I certainly didn’t know what I was doing, what happened to the girl I used to be, or why I was there, existing in a shitty apartment, like a fucking caged animal half-beating. Job, college, fiancé, car, house, all that I thought it took to make the package–gone. And that’s the less painful part, because I hadn’t been living for those things or even in them. I had let myself become so afraid of myself and my wants and needs, I had alienated myself so far. I had let the monsters in my head torment me, instead of show me. And after the six or so years, I took that desire or whatever it was and built a woman out of it. Out of me. And here I stand. Hungry.

Scribbling our lives away in jobs and homes and with the process of doing, but that fire– it is the same feeling and same need for release. This is why I write. The harder I write, the more intoxicated I become, and the bigger the need. I think it’s pretty safe to say that that is why artists starve. But I do know that because of it, I am more alive than I ever dreamed possible.

[Kerouac’s Beliefs & Techniques for Writing]
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Blueprint for a Breakthrough

Shane Koyczan.

If you don’t know him, you’re in for a treat.  Beautiful and amazing and heart-breaking and warming:

“If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.”

[Blueprint for a Breakthrough (2013)]”
Shane Koyczan

“Look directly into every mirror. Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story, and our story starts: We were here.”
Shane Koyczan

Be gracious.
Accept each extended hand offered to pull you back from the somewhere you cannot escape
be DILIGENT
scrape the gray sky clean, realize every dark cloud is a smoke screen meant to blind us from the truth and the truth is whether we see them or not, the sun and moon are still there and always—there is light.
be forthright. Despite your instinct to say it’s alright, I’m okay, BE HONEST
SAY HOW YOU FEEL
without fear or guilt
without remorse or complexity
be lucid in your explanation be sterling in your appose
we will station ourselves to the calm
we will hold ourselves to the steady
YOUR VOICE IS YOUR WEAPON, YOUR THOUGHTS—AMMUNITION.
there are no free extra men be aware that in the instant now passes it exists now as then?
so be A MIRROR REFLECTING YOUR SELF BACK, REMEMBERING THE TIMES WHEN YOU THOUGHT ….ALL OF THIS WAS TOO HARD AND THAT YOU’D NEVER MAKE IT THROUGH…

“but I want to tell them
that all of this shit
is just debris
leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought
we used to be
and if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
get a better mirror
look a little closer
stare a little longer
because there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying
despite everyone who told you to quit
you built a cast around your broken heart
and signed it yourself
you signed it
“they were wrong”
because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a click
maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything
maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth
to show and tell but never told
because how can you hold your ground
if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it
you have to believe that they were wrong

they have to be wrong”
Shane Koyczan

My Interview with Mike

Hey all, I’d like you all to check out the first part of a series of interviews I’m doing with artist/self-taught sculptor/and survivor of severe Rheumatoid Arthritis over at Chicks Dig Scars here: Interview on The Untitled.

Here Mike begins talking about what the sculptures are about, why, and the agony and wonders of being so severely disabled at times.  Please follow him, he’s new to the blogosphere and he deserves to be heard (and he’s hilarious).  Chicks Dig Scars

Mike's

PTSD thoughts…

…just a thought on labels and healing (perspective)  4-7-10

     It’s a tricky thing—this method of healing.  Because I don’t doubt my courage.  I was, like so many others, forced to be tough.  That stays with us as we grow—blossoming and mutating in ways at the same time.  But hey who says the mutations can’t be beautiful?  Just different.  Different perspectives.  I find myself not even having to muster up the courage because it’s within arm’s reach, as it always had to be.  The problem is how to use it?  These are times I may realize I need to just BE and FEEL.  But again, there are good times, and bad, horrible times.  And moments of pure bliss—small, yet ever more than enough, more than I can wrap my heart around.  I have chronic, severe PTSD and the episodes (flashbacks) and anxiety and dissociation quite consume me at certain times.  I was armed and ready and fighting—and then I realized I wasn’t going to win.  There’s no way.  And I think that’s because I’m not just being—I spend so much energy on the fight when I really need to learn to sit and feel, accept it and just be.  How hard it is for people with PTSD to “just be.”  How do you do it without slipping into dissociation I wonder?  But I’ll keep practicing, I’ll get it.  Rewire those thoughts, eh?  I have to have the courage to fight in a different way.  I need to redefine that word.  I need to use my courage to feel and be, to take a moment and love my thoughts and think outside my head and with my soul—stepping away from the disorder when it’s in full swing and to accept myself and be aware that what is happening is natural and not of me, but from something I would never allow to happen to me.  I will respect myself more when I struggle through the dark thoughts and emotions, and tell myself “this too shall pass.”  I’ve started to face the vacuum of my identity, and I feel it, then I try to build upon it, and create the woman that’s inside of me—after I love her up some.  Self-love has to stop being at the bottom of my list of things to do. 

     I feel it’s important that I say that I don’t (and maybe many of you don’t either, depending on your situation) feel like a victim.  That word is so empty to me.  I come from sexual, emotional, and physical abuse since the age of five, so to me—that was just the way it was.  I had nowhere to go and know way of knowing better except for one thing that kept me connected to by spirit: instinct.  I knew it was wrong and that it hurt and I didn’t like it, and I had the courage to stow away inside of myself to get free, because where else could I go?  I knew somehow that I was worth protecting—even then. I carry that with me.  No victim is not the word for me I feel.  Only “normal” “healthy” people see us as victims.  Victims seems to imply an attack on a mind and body already developed “correctly”, taught right from wrong.  I don’t know what word fits—we feel maybe like we’re selfless (or coreless), unidentified spirits with spirits that swell with such private beauty because we’ve seen the agony.  We’ve been burned, and so, we know.  We know what is dark and lost and hiding.  Imagine this though—we will one day blossom and be so striking—striking to ourselves in particular.  Doesn’t that feeling seem so far away?  How do we know our spirits will blossom?  It’s obvious.  The beauty inside has been hidden from us and we searched for it desperately within our own minds and bodies and souls, and we ventured (and continue to) into the fire, and we came out not innocent—but beautifully AWARE and incredibly okay.  We learn to be okay.  We survive and we fight.  We change our definition of “fight” and do it a different way, without the violence and the dichotomies.  We see ourselves.  We survive and we fight—because we had to train ourselves to do so.  We’re self-taught; we know our souls more intimately than anyone else I dare say.  Our souls shone through all the filth and dirt and tears.  Our souls guide us to purpose, and we keep getting up no matter how many times we fall.  We are an army–the most beautiful army in every sense, fighting through love just for a glimpse of ourselves.  We are not ever victims.  We have always been fighters, we have always been courageous.  Our instincts gave us courage.  And now we have to ease those instincts and love them and feel our way toward ourselves again.  My soul never left me—and that used to be my biggest fear.  My soul is bleeding out the infection.

Amy J Sprague