Monday, February 27, 2012

sincerely, life and death

A brief letter from Life, to you:

To Whom It May Concern,
The first thing I want you to know is that you have the most beautiful collarbones that I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of collarbones. I'd love to see you sculpt something.

The second thing I want you to know is that I'm passive aggressive. And I'm jealous, I'm so so jealous. I can't help it; it's why I broke your bones to keep you home, it's why your favorite song makes you cry. I wanted you to be there when I took the lasagna out of the oven, I wanted you to be there when I colored the sky red, I wanted you to see just how violently I loved you.

I bruised you, I know that. Your voice must've been too quiet, your skin must've been too soft; I couldn't help it, I put my hands on your shoulders and pushed. You didn't fall gracefully, but I didn't expect you to. You're not a feather or a crystal vase, you're a human being, and when you fall you bleed.

Your soft hair, your bad habits, the rasp of your voice; I'm sick, I'm tired, I'm a glutton for punishment, and you were oblivious and you never raised your hand in class. I'm sorry for the sleepless nights. I'm sorry for the painkillers and the broken mufflers, yes, that was my fault. Yes, I may not have been very kind but you, you, were the one who threw me to the dogs. You're a heartbreaker, ask anyone. You're cruel, ask anyone. I'm getting ahead of myself. This is a love letter, I swear. 

I don't want to tell you lies, but this one is a good one: from now on, I'll be good to you. I won't tear the Band-Aids off prematurely, I won't drive recklessly, I won't give your mother a cold just to see you search the cupboards for NyQuil with your beautiful, beautiful hands. Yes, I'm lying, but I can see that it's what you wanted to hear. All you ever wanted to do was live but look how funny it is that I was the one keeping you from it. 

Quiet, quiet now, and you can feel me. You can literally hear me. I'm right there in your chest, big, bright, and bloody, 72 beats per minute, and even if you hold your breath, even if you pray, I'm still there saying: "You wanted it this way, you wanted it this way".

Sleep well.

A brief letter from Death, to you:
My love,
I've tried to be generous with you. I hope that you know that the entire moon is for you. And the stars? Yours. I picked you up off the ground and pulled the glass and gravel from your knees, and you never cried once, did you? You're braver than me. 

Sometimes at night when I'm asleep on the bottom bunk, I hear you roll over and call out into the dark, "Death? Are you there?" You have a lot of bad dreams. "Death? Are you there?" And I don't answer, because you like it that way. I'm afraid for the day when you beckon me closer. Too soon, my dear, it's too soon.

You're stubborn. I didn't love you for the way you fried the tamales, I loved you for the chicken bones and the way you checked the recipe. I never loved you right.

If it were up to me, I'd never turn off the lights. And I'd never off the television or the transistor radio or the heater. I want everything to live forever. I want electricity, all the time. I want fuel consumption, all the time. I want you to fall in love, I want you to take your medicine, I want you to grow your hair out and then cut it all off. I hope you never see the end coming because I never want you to slow down.

This sort of thing is hard for me. Because I can only promise you one thing, and you don't want to hear it. You swear that we're strangers, but no one is buying it, dear. You're so possessive, so quick-tempered and soft-spoken and frustrated by the ones you love the most. You used to say this to me: "You have always been mine." Yes, yes, I won't deny it. I have always been yours.

Before you burn this letter, before you scratch my face out of all of the old pictures of the two of us, I want you to know that I tried to be gentle. You're angry? Well, so am I. You're hurt? Well, so am I. I feel it all. Blame me. Blame me.

Sleep well.
Be safe,

This has been the Devastation Diaries.

once a year by dave eggers

(by Dave Eggers)

I didn't write this.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

a short tango with pity



featuring Me, dressed in red, and The Rest of You, in complementary and just-as-flattering: black.

(Of course.)

First, the lights. This is a production, you know. 

And then, the music. More like, a Tribute to the Shape of Your Shoulders courtesy of two violins, plus one guitar. 

You lead.

I bet we've practiced this, haven't we, Pity?

"Yes, we've practiced this." This, from you. You clean up nice.

A spin. A throaty dip.

"Tasteful." This, from the gracious panel of judges.

We know the choreography well, I see. We've done this before, haven't we, Pity? Lights, music, what am I leaving out?

Sweat. That's one thing. Skin. That's another.

This is either a stage or a zoo, and we can't tell which, but the audience doesn't care because swivel and snap and you remember the steps and bright lights and hips and spin and skin. Switch.

And the timing must be perfect: the finale and one last dip to the floor, so low we almost go through it, so low we feel the itch of hellfire on our necks---and hold there; one, two, three, four---so low that the audience holds its breath: one, two, three, four, and up. A snap of stiletto on hardwood floor. 

Take a bow.

Applause. And another.

I've never danced before and I just made up a tango. Eyes to the crowd; you fake it well, you fake it well.

"You fake it well." This, from you. And a wink.

"You fake it well." This, from me. And I'm in red and you're in black and they're standing in their seats singing, "More, more, more".

We give them what they want.

This has been The Devastation Diaries.


Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf and who's afraid of paper airplanes? Who's afraid of Sunday afternoons? Who's afraid of poetry, July rain, soft boots, the color red, Beethoven's 5th, spilled milk, haircuts, religion, the touch of a lover, fire, the dark, terrorism, plague, blood, death, apocalypse? Who's afraid? Who's afraid?

Who's afraid of clenched fists? Or snow?

I'm afraid, I'm afraid. I'm afraid of aftershocks, you know? I'm afraid of the afterimage and the aftermath. Epilogues scare me. "Happily every after.... but then..." scares me. I'm afraid of beginnings.

Who's afraid of falling through the cracks? Anyone? Anyone?

I know what you fear: you fear yourself. You fear your own rage. You're afraid that one day you'll wake up and be stripped of your mathematical structure and your way with words, and you're afraid that some naive, blue-eyed girl is finally going to see you for what you really are: sunlight and that's it. You weren't meant to be here, you weren't meant to play mortal with the rest of us. You're sunlight and that's it. You're not afraid of anything. You're sunlight and that's it. 

Okay, fess up. You're afraid of something and you know exactly what I'm talking about. You're afraid of your own shadow because you're sunlight (and that's it) but who are you kidding, sunlight doesn't have a shadow and that brings us back to the gasp of the studio audience, it's the big reveal at the end of the episode: "Human, human, human". You're human, and that's it.

I didn't say it was a bad thing.

You fear your own shadow. Your own human heart. You're dying, and that's killing you. It's on the tip of your tongue, and that's killing you. You're only young once, and that's killing you. So you're afraid of death? Who isn't?

I'm afraid of asking question because I'm afraid of getting answers. But, please, I'm afraid but, please, I'm so curious: What do I do with my hands and my lungs? Where should I run? Why can't I fly? Who am I what should I do where is home what's the quadratic formula is there a heaven is there a hell is there a place with no greed no lust no ivory coast and hunger is there a god is this a war is there life after death? I'm yelling but are you listening?: I AM AFRAID. I'm afraid. I'm afraid. (i'm afraid.) 

I'm afraid but there's no time or peace; you're so brave that you died of fear.

Who's afraid of my temper? Who's afraid? Who's afraid?

This has been the Devastation Diaries.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

a round of applause for sundays in february

Which is better: true love or cheese pizza?

I can't tell.

This has been The Devastation Diaries.


on my mind

9:47 PM and I swear, you haven't even crossed my mind. I'm not thinking about you. And I'm not thinking about your wrists, or your tendency to offend.

I don't think about you like helium balloons think about up and mudslides think about down, but who are we to tell the Laws of Physics how to behave? I won't be bitter, Gravity, if you give up on me one day. I know it's getting hard to keep me around.

I don't think about you like the Garden of Eden thinks about skyscrapers and burning buildings; or the way Lady Liberty thinks about flower beds. We all want what we can't have.

I don't think about you like the raw underside of the pot roast in the oven thinks of burning, this dinner is important, this dinner is important. The housewife checks the clock. 

I don't think about you like sparrows think about shotguns. Well. They try very hard not to think about shotguns, don't they?

Tell me what you want me to do. Make a list? Fight back? Starve? Pray? I'm not thinking about you because I need to sleep and I need to eat my vegetables. I get blisters from my new shoes, and that reminds me of you. I hold my breath underwater, and that reminds me of you. We all horrify each other in little increments; we all look the same in the dark. I'm not thinking about you, and take it as a compliment, because I'm trying very hard not to.

Take a seat.

This is all about denial. This is all a defense mechanism. But cheer up, it's still about you. Yes, I'm thinking about your intake of breath, your apathy and self-defeat. I'm thinking about you, but I'm also thinking about the periodic table and slant rhyme and regression lines. I'm thinking about you, but let's get one thing straight: I have my own red blood cells and I have my own favorite books. I have my own way to get to heaven, thank you. Just because you're on my mind doesn't mean that the dirt under the rosebush is anything more than dirt. 

I am still me, and dirt is still dirt, and I am thinking about you, and also about dirt.

This has been The Devastation Diaries.

Monday, February 6, 2012

this is a love poem

Driftwood love, and it washes up in the grit of low-tide. "That's love alright, you can tell by the footprints". Love has little footprints like some extinct thing, like it's a miracle every time it walks. Face like a glass of whiskey, voice like a foghorn. Love has the softest skin.

Love is a new cancer, but love is more like a taste (salt?). But it's more like the instinct to run or fight with your bare fists. Yes, love is more like a bribe. Oh yes, love is more like the dust on the top shelf.
So maybe I don't know a lot about what love is but I do know a lot about what love is not.

Love isn't the crusts cut off, love isn't stuck to flypaper in the heat of July. Love is not kind. And love is not unkind.

Love is not the soft, kitten skin of the pink rosebud; it's not even the thorns, nor the unquenchable hunger of the sun-soaked leaves---what's it called again? photosynthesis---it's not the stem (no, of course love isn't the stem). Love is the roots. Love lives in the dirt, love is thirsty and no matter how much MiracleGrow you beg from the hands of the kneeling gardener, love is still thirsty. And then all at once: love is very easy to drown in your haste to water the plants before your 2:00 appointment to meet someone somewhere---it could be anyone---but there, you've done it, you've drowned the cactus, you've murdered the marigolds, you've let love's lungs fill with water (because love, you poor fool, cannot swim), but that's fine, everything's fine: you'll make it on time, 2:00 sharp.

This is a love poem. It goes: L for lobotomy, O for the occipital lobe, V for vendetta, E for the color that eggplant is (the color that your bedspread is). Love drank too much, yeah, love is sobering up.

I know another word for "love". It's "karma". Love is the way you run over a cat in your truck, and someday: the way you get hit by a truck. Love goes around and love comes around; you pour love a cup of tea and I swear, love pours you a cup of tea. If you wake up in the middle of the night shouting, "All's fair in love and war!", then love will bring you the TV remote and the pistol, because love won't know which one it is this time: LOVE or WAR?

We all find love in the unlikeliest of galaxies: me in a death threat, you in a blister pack, I know a girl who swears love was the anvil that fell from the sky and broke her neck. Maybe we don't fall in love, maybe we jump for it. You were easy to forgive, but not to thank.

The truth is, I'm seventeen-years-old and I don't remember heaven and I don't remember hell, so I have no idea where I came from. I've got one-tenth of the truth and I've got growing pains and the only word I know how to sing is "love". I love you, that's the truth, too. Whoever you are, you're skin and you're blood and I love that about you. You're so sincere: I love that about you.

This has been The Devastation Diaries.

clam chowder days

We're typewriter people. Under the keys, under the bleachers, we're under your bed. We're not damaged but we sure are... precarious. Limbs hanging on by strings, words that almost almost almost give ourselves away. Laugh it off.

Your slogan could be: "Maybe later".

The thing I've noticed about people is that they know a lot about circles but not much at all about straight lines. Try to get from point A to point B: I bet you can't. There is a lot that we can't fix---the sun is exploding, the paint is drying---but there are some things that we can: the high notes, preventative pre-cancer treatments, your attendance record.

I'm supposed to be doing my math homework right now. Do you get that? I don't cut my wrists, I don't starve myself, but I'm self-destructing just the same. This is my way of cutting out pieces of myself. These words. I'm sabotaging myself for, what? for you? I didn't plan for this is be about you, but look at me: I'm mutilating myself at your leisure.

Let's talk about that, huh? You do that, too: sabotage yourself. But don't worry, don't worry, I may be reckless but I'm a good cure. If you're the rubber, then I'm the glue; but maybe I'm the rubber.

You and I, dear, the ones who both got away. You and I, sweetheart, the burnt underside of the pie. You and I, darling, the sun and moon, no, the day and the night, no, the ceiling and the floor, no, the milk and the eggs. You and I, love, the time bomb, the mine field. And I wasn't there when the bombs went off, but I know how you feel (I'll bet it was just like a kiss on the mouth, only less destructive. Yeah, hand grenades never hurt a fly).

And I don't know if I'd rather be the rubber or the glue, but what I do know is that I'm trying so hard to be whichever one I'm not.

This has been The Devastation Diaries.