miss scarlett in the library

another lovely piece from tongue-tied blue … thank you for being my guest!miss scarlett in the library

spent, breathless
and rosy red
she laid across my lap
on that welcoming sofa
her lovely black lacy panties
twisted at her knees
her slinky skirt up around her waist
and her supple comeliness
presented exactly so
spent, breathless
and rosy red

::: contented sigh :::

moments before
she had been writhing at the end
of my insistent fingertip
gasping, sweating, gurgling
my other hand alternating between
strikes of varying speed & intensity
and then pressing down her lower back
accentuating that eager curve
that hungry opening

before that, there was a point
where the words erupted from me
they always do
where i’m coaxing her along my story line
tonguing honey and pepper into her
part of me listening along
we heard together
“i’ve never stopped wanting you”
and the air in the room sucked in
my ears popped
and i became only aware of the finer quality
the delicate threads weaving
and the nobler, the enduring spilling
spilling, the tears were right there
was she going to cry or come?
or both?
in that ethereal moment
was i?

even earlier, years before now
a rain forest of an afternoon
twilit and hot and green and raining and still
when i first took her up in my arms
when i gave in and really held her
the way she needed holding
the way i needed to hold her
when i looked down into her naked, nervous eyes
and said, “god, i want you”
as much as a surprise to me
as to her

the arc of surrender
finds no endpoint
only mileposts

against the door frame

I’m still in Seattle for one more day … meanwhile, here is a great piece from tongue-tied blue. Thank you!

against the door frame

space holding wonderland
my tongue tied blue
trying to out-dream in the front of my head
the suspicious lizard stem at the rear
the skull fulcrums, spins there

on my left hand i smell her still
her coming flash powder burned
brilliant into my breasts
my belly, my thighs, my ears
my heart
my kidneys are still astonished

the lizard licks her lips
her eyes and
the sweat that ran down

i never knew i could be
so rapt wide-eyed, secret door
surprise present
gratefully me

Charcoal Portrait in the Art Studio

This is an honorable mention from the Sugarbutch Star contest, from Grey. Written from her perspective. I plan to post a few more honorable mentions as well – I am attempting to keep them short, little snippets of a scene rather than the entire build-up and tear-down that I usually include in my stories. I’m doing this to challenge myself and my writing, but it’s also because there were so many great submissions, but I don’t have time to write them all for the contest, unfortunately.

Charcoal Portrait in the Art Studio

There is only the light scratching of my charcoal on paper. Thick and cream, deckled edges on plyboard. Held in my lap. An indication of shadow here. Of hip, of thigh.

She’s posing for me, only a black tie around her neck, black leather harness around her hips, black strap-on eagerly poised. She’s draped on the white studio couch. She’s calm and steady. She’s watching me.

A flick of my wrist and a line for her jaw, her left breast. The angles of her come to life. I recreate her. She lets me.

I fill in details. Impressions of her, sultry, on paper, fall around me like winter is coming. I tear off another sheet and she is moving toward me, all eyes and hips, that cocky swagger.

I drop my charcoal. My fingers are blackened with it. Her lips are at my ear: “Which curves are you still missing?” She takes my hand, sets it on her hip. “This one?” On her stomach. “This?” On her thigh. “Here?”

I swallow the hesitation in my throat.

“Come on,” she says. “You can do better than that.” And I can.

She shows me. Her tongue sketches curves and I am recreated by her from the inside when she slides.

Her lips are charcoal, and my skin is perfect paper.

quarterlife crisis decisions

“It is our decisions
who make make us who we are,”
she used to say to me. Sometimes
that is all we have. The ability
to decide. To choose.

Even with all the social
inequities, we all still
get the same basic things,
in this life here on this planet:
our brains,
our bodies,
and time.

It is what we decide to do
that makes all the difference.

So what am I doing here?
What am I going to decide
to do with my time? What
are the particular ways
that I would like my mind
to grow and change
and evolve and work?
I do have some ideas,
but it seems like – that
age-old cliche – life
gets in the way.

I need focus. Laser-beam
steady focus, pointed precise
direction, precision. I’m not sure
how to gain or maintain that when
everything seems related to what
I want to do, where I want to go.
I’m not sure how to cut things out
when I so enjoy every aspect, the
book group, the writing group, the
drinks with friends, the parties,
the concerts – then of course there’s
the practical parts, the health,
exercise, eating right, taking care
of my body, then there’s money,
there’s my “career” –

all of this hanging in the balance
and I have to decide
decide
decide
what to cancel, what to prioritze
what to celebrate, what to remove
from this delicate balance

how to get your love on

… When you’re single and you’ve finally made it past the age when you’ve felt both love’s deepest tongue probings and also its most random horror-flick slashings, past the age when getting moronically drunk every weekend and hooking up is the ultimate goal, and you’ve had enough sex to fill a thousand porn movies, and everyone around you is no longer on some sort of giddy, wide-eyed first-adult-relationship must-get-married must-have-babies track of impossibly optimistic utopian desire, what it means, at least for me, is that you get to become this odd sort of sounding board — a blank slate of love’s warped potential, a reason for others to extrapolate on the nature of love and life and sex and how goddamn difficult/ wonderful/impossible it all really is.

– Mark Morford, How to Get Your Love On

me in a nutshell

Related to the Life/Lines post, though not quite the same thing, I’d like to offer up my poem Me in a Nutshell which was an “I believe” poem. It uses many, many quotes from various sources, mantras of mine, inspiration, quotes (it ends with a different Mary Oliver line, in fact).

 It was published online at This I Believe through NPR.

Me in a Nutshell

I believe love is the closest we get to divinity
I believe in waiting patiently on the corner for the light to change
I believe in being kind

I believe that as birds fly, and fish swim, humans create;
it is our ‘natural’ mode of operation
I believe the opposite of war is not peace, it’s creation
I believe creative expression is a way to get to know
what we don’t know
that we already know

I believe in finding common ground and elevating the discussion
in wanting what I have and giving what I need
I believe in asking myself how it is that I will come alive
because that is what the world needs

I believe in keeping rocks in my pockets
to remind me to stay close to the ground
I believe stones and aerial maps of the ocean floor
teach me to fly
I believe to be free is not merely to cast off one’s shackles
but to live in a way
that respects
and enhances
the freedom of others

I believe in leaving everything and everyone and everywhere
just a little better off then when I found it
I believe when we let go of who we are, we become who we might be
I believe in paying my library fees

I believe in psychics, astrology, epigraphs
crossing fingers at cemeteries
lifting feet when going over a bridge
ice cream on the hot days
I believe in swimming at the glacier in the summer
and chomping icebergs like snow-cones

I believe asking for – and getting – someone’s consent is sexy
and knowing the pleasure you want and how to get it
is subversive and revolutionary
I believe gender and power and play is what makes the sex hot

I believe stretch marks and scars are beautiful
because they tell the history of the body
I believe the body is a temple to be worshipped
that we are not separate than the earth, but rather from the earth
I believe it feels good to shit outside

I believe in cranberries, avocados and cashews
in redheads and black ink
in leaving a trail on an unmarked canvas
in drawings on skin
in tiny yellow flowers under the chin to check if I like butter

I believe in watching the media, pop culture, consumerism,
and celebreality with a critical eye
I believe in turning off the TV
I believe in accessories: shoes, belts, bags, scarves, glasses

I believe growth requires the temporary suspension of security
in second chances and red balloons
I believe in wishing on the full moon and faery rings
and dandelions gone to seed and eyelashes
and shooting stars and lovers’ laughter and birthday candles

I believe very few people are actually out to get us
but are rather just distracted by their own
human-drama-bubble of daily life
I believe differences are the only way we learn
I believe intentions do matter
I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt
but still protecting the gentle red ribbed cage
around my heart

I believe you and I are not mistakes, we are stardust

I believe in unfolding my own mythology
like an origami swan
asking every day:
what will I do with my one wild and precious life?

four-chambered heart

for sunday scribbling: wingsI have said that she gives me wings.

I have said that, though I have been collecting feathers my entire life, downy and sweet, flight and contour and semiplume feathers, even occasional bristle feathers and filoplume feathers, it was her who gave me the map, the blueprint, for the abilities to soar, to take off and land, to catch a ray of wind and float.

I have said she takes me to such heights, takes me to the peaks of mountains, looking down over valleys where everything below is neat and organized, small, managable.

I could continue with the bird metaphors, hollow bones and unfolding; flying, nesting, cracking open; a four-chambered heart, ruby breasted; flocks and migration and hovering and perching.

But what I really want to say is that I was not raised to believe in pride. I don’t know what it’s like for others to take credit for my accomplishments, no matter how much my accomplishment was helped by your maps, your tender caresses, your careful slices of leather cut around the outlines of my feet for my landing.

This flight is my victory. And while you are calling to me from the clifftop, yelling claims to my own soaring moments, the air is so clear and still that all I can hear is the beating of my own wings.

inevitable winter

sunday scribblings, rooted

I want to get to the root of this. Dig it up, look at it, dip it in water to wash the imperfections clean, to give it a fresh start. Find the source of the root ball and strip away the dirt. Strip away everything that isn’t root.Sometimes trees seem so deeply rooted in the ground that their trunks seem like arms, their branches hands, their roots hands gripping the soil. And sometimes it seems the soil grips back, tightens, tenses around the tree to hold it firm in place.

In New Orleans, after Katrina, the trees that were left standing had protected the house next to which it was planted. The trees that fell often damaged more than the storm.

And it was the native trees, the ones who had been interacting with that particular land for the longest, that didn’t fall.

I want this with you. I want to dig my roots in and feel you grip me. I want to discover where I’ve come from by creating somewhere to go.

Right now, I can only see the trunk, can only see the leaves, and they are budding, they are quivering with blossom in the ready, they are tiny young leaves so baby-green and fresh, ready to burst into something grand, ready to spread and open and course chlorophyll through the veins of it until it courses its last green and turns to yellow, orange, red.

It’s beautiful, my darling. The way things grow and change and come forth in spring.

But if it is not rooted it will not last through winter. And winter will come, yes, the seasons change, the cycles go on, and we are nothing but animals on this miraculous circular ecosystem, after all.

secret identity

for sunday scribblings

I keep myself separate.

When I began the project of myself, I created a separate me for all of you to see. So many untruths, especially in the beginning. Of course, like all self-projects, it morphed into just one particular thread of truth, the bright silver-purple shining thread that I usually keep hidden in the center of all my cords and wires and ribbons, occasionally allowing a glimpse of its shimmering color but mostly it stays hidden, close, closed.

You have such slender fingers. You can easily pick the silver-purple thread out of the bunch and smooth it, soothe it, detangle it from all the rest and point it out to me, show me the places where the edges are frayed and breaking, thin, where things need repaired, where my old repairs of electrical tape and wood glue aren’t holding anymore.

Don’t look at that. Don’t shame me by seeing the pieces underneath what I am ready to show you. Those are my secret threads of light, the ones that make up my very core, the ones that I caught on a moonbeam and tightrope walked and strung up to make holiday lights in pine trees and the lifelines I caught every time I threw myself overboard to drown. Don’t look, don’t see.

I keep myself secret. Sometimes I don’t mean to, it’s just the core of me is so spiderweb thin and glistening, delicate, so easily damagable with even the slightest of breaths, the slightest of soothing caresses. And you want your fingerprints all over it, you want to leave marks, to rearrange and untie carefully knotted holding places and you want to touch the scars with your own fingers and pretend like you understand where they came from.

I don’t even know how you got inside of there. Did I let you in? Did I give you the key, the combination?

There are places in me no one gets to go. The caves of me, dark and damp and dank and full of refuge, where I drag everything back inside and sort through it all, discard what I don’t need and store the rest.

I choose how much to reveal and where. I choose when to show myself. You don’t get to show up and sort through the mush yourself. I know I’ve asked you not to.

Go ahead, tell me I’m not integrated. Tell me I’m living in secret, in hiding, in shame. This is the only way I know how to do this, and it is all I have, for now.

hemlock

I am delicate. This tough guise
comes along with the collared shirts –
briefs – jackets in mudpuddles –
but it is only a performance.
Do not mistake it for the same gauge
of pressure it takes to bruise
the skin of my heart. Purple

gives way to red gives way to pink.
Even the strong language I take in
too deep because I have no wall up
between me and you. I have no wall

up but you can’t tell how transparent
I am when I have cried, when I have
asked a question, turned a doorhandle

so you did not have to. I want to take
care of you. I want to take care of
myself, so invisibly that you won’t notice,
then take care of you. But that is not

realistic. I know. I am sensitive,
affected by all the madness marching
around me. I cannot get away from it

some days. Some days I am eaten alive
by the bees in the hive, some days I am
the hive through which everything flows.
I carry around words like brutal and

punished in a notebook and touch the
letters when I need a reminder of
the damage that can be done, can not

be undone. Phrases yielded like
knives. I refuse to use my words
as weapons, though I could, I could
cause hurt, could leave scars. Instead

I choose to swallow, don’t let it out,
don’t let things go, there is no way
to know what the words will become

once they leave my tongue. Possibly
dandelions, possibly stinging nettles,
possibly a poisonous cup of hemlock.
I drink it all down myself instead:

then there can be no misinterpretation.

from the inside

Sunday Scribblings

This is how it went.

I wanted to say a red goodbye. A crystal goodbye. A goodbye hanging from the rafters of an old cabin in the woods, smelling of cedar and damn rainforest. A goodbye echoing off the silence of an underpass. Goodbyes the size of snowflakes, goodbyes the color of air on a hot day.

I wanted to say goodbye, and again, and again. You didn’t let me.

Instead, you fought. Brought me candles with flames, tall, and bright as the moon. Brought me mirrors in which to see myself. There are no goodbyes in moons and mirrors. Goodbyes in flames are flippant, final, but goodbyes in glass are generous. Giving.

This is how it went. But it didn’t have to go this way.

It could have been a brutal goodbye. The kind that tears up lungs and throats and insides and then wrecks your paper heart. The kind that tosses aside apologies like confetti. A party on your back. Chipping off bone from your spine like roots pushing up a sidewalk made of brick. From the inside.

That’s what you do. From the inside. A crystal goodbye echoing cedar smelling of rafters the color of someone leaving. Someone. Anyone. As if there is some definition of what that is: leaving. Left. Going. Gone. As if I can write these words and let you know what I mean when I say them. As if we have some sort of understood meaning between the times that my brain decides these words, my fingers tap these keys, your eyes scan these letters. There is no way to know what words are sparking what colors of goodbye inside of you. Only inside of me.

Only goodbyes are the color of goodbyes, and very few of us will ever know what it’s like to have the roots of a tree set us free.

sunday scribblings: fantasy

She is the fantasy, and I am the dreamer. Or perhaps it is she who is the dreamer: she is the one who is always creating meaning from metaphors and analyzing the superstitions that are coming between us: bread and butter. Knocking the tree spirits awake and away we beg for forgiveness for being so presumptuous that we would know what is to come ahead of us. What nausea will pass and what we will be doing to ring in the next new year. How much of this will we weather? I already know how and where our great downfalls will come: flattery. Consumption. The great flaw of sunshine on a winter’s day.She is the fantasy, and I am the dreamer. She is the dreamer, and I am the magician with the magic hat who watches from the edge of the room after she cries herself back to sleep, never knowing which magic spell will bring her back into herself.

I have created a swirling romance around her. Sweltering inside a coil of smoke, a glass wall such that I cannot reach her. But that I did not place around her. Did not choose to erect such a barrier between us. She did, when she chose to dream me. I did, when I discovered the fantasy of her was more real than the real skin touch of her hand, her thigh, her kiss.

Is it only the dreamer who comes up with such fantasies? Perhaps I would rather be a writer than a dreamer, so I can write myself into something as solid as stones.

what I haven’t told you I believe about love

that I love freely and with dangerous abandonthat I fall in love at least twelve times a day – sometimes with the same person, sometimes each one is different

that love is a choice and must continue to be chosen in order to sustain

that love and sex are not for procreation or recreation, but for concentration – because there are just too many people in the world*

that divinity is within us, and accessed through practices of loving

that I am at my best when I am naked laughing with you

that I am trusting, sometimes to a fault

that I am fiercely loyal

that I believe in romance like a religion and will gladly offer prayer every time I see the edges of you blur a little bit

that sex play is always of the highest priority, and I will always be late, sleep in, and skip obligations for it

that I have never seen anything more gorgeous than you are right now**

that I live in my heart, nestled down into each chamber with a different story to tell and a different wisdom to hear

that I love too hard too fast too soon, but that is the only way I know how to fall

that most of us have unlearned the innate impulse of how to let the soft animals of our bodies love what they love***

that nothing is forever, but if we can bend together to time’s winds, we can weather anything

that I don’t really know what I’m doing or how any of this works, but I think I’m pretty neat, and I trust my strengths and virtues and vices to carry me through all of these paths that I am walking

that love is never permanent, but it changes me every single fucking beautiful time

references/quotes:

* the film “opposite of sex”
** poet andrea gibson
*** poet mary oliver

for Ally, because she kept me up late last night

tongue
to the back of your knee
ankle
to the top of my shoulder
waiting
for that moment of permission
to slide inside
slide inside

palm
to the camber of your back
wrists
to the wall above your head
waiting
for the telling luminescence
in your eyes
your eyes

lips
to the fragility of your clavicle
teeth
to the tenders of your earlobe
waiting
for the pulse of your hips
waiting
for that ring of fire
waiting
for that shudder of muscle
to make you mine
make you mine

who am I to talk of love?

One of my best friends in the world is getting married over Labor Day weekend and I’m heading back to the West Coast to be his best (wo)man next week. We are both performance poets, met in a performance poetry class in fact, and he has asked me to write something for the wedding ceremony.Right now, I feel like I am the worst person to give any sort of relationship/ committment/ marriage advice or poetic waxing to anyone in earshot, let alone at a wedding of someone I deeply care about. What do I know about making love stay, about sustaining a relationship, about falling in love? I feel like an amateur. I barely have any of this figured out.

I’m jealous of their relationship and committment sometimes. And I know them both well enough to know that I am going to learn so much – about relationships, life, love – from the way that they stay committed to each other.

So I don’t have to give relationship advice – or deep insights about love and marriage and commitment. Okay. But then, I guess my question is, what the hell do I say?

I’ve been a bit obsessed with theories of love in the past five-ish years. I have read and do own A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman and All About Love by bell hooks and If the Buddha Dated & If the Buddha Married by Charlotte Kasl and Against Love: A Polemic and any other books on love that I could get my hands on, really, including the occasionally cheesy self-help variety (which I actually read frequently).

I’m thinking I’ll start there. Perhaps I can pull some quotes or ideas into one coherent (short) piece and that’ll be enough. General observations about loving, nothing too specific.

I don’t know. I’m working on it.