Monday, April 21, 2008

This Girl Called, Interrupted

New York might not know that I can see her veins through her skin now, or the scar where she got her tattoo removed. I'd always liked that tattoo -- if only because it seemed like something permanent -- but I guess I never told her that out loud.

Sometimes, I spot a break of sweat or an incandescent glance -- a sweet split-open moment where I can see absolutely that she's lying, possibly even to herself, and that we both know it, and that I'm going to let her lie, and furthermore, listen, New York has her reasons; knows we can't argue.

Me: I'm sorry.
New York: What did I tell you about that? All the apologizing.
Me: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Thank you.
New York: And that --
Me: Thank you.

New York might not know that when she turns from me, her back and its blades to my face, her front and its eager flesh to the wall, that I want to make her bleed so bad. But moreso, I want to make myself bleed. I can't tell if New York wants to hurt me or if she just doesn't care about me at all.

So I remain still, and wait for the bite. All night long, I wait for the bite.

She sleeps. New York sleeps. New York sleeps but I can't:

New York: I never sleep. There's so much anxiety, a fog of it. And those damned amphetamines ... consequently; the pearls.
Me: Always the pearls.


Out West, wind whips and water laps like the earth itself drifting in and out of sleep. Our feet sandy, laughter vaulting, we submerge constant self-analysis and its demanding dreams in favour of skylight's sunny screams. Our brains [our sins, our souls, no longer nymphic but girl-children still we have been everywhere, we have seen nothing] empty out -- or is it something else, a kind of opening? -- to welcome wavesounds and the soft pulse of a world barely awake. We walk easily along a whole coast inhabited by half-alive humans who already know the secret we're just now learning: You never wanted to be whole-alive, did you. I mean, didn't it hurt? Wasn't it hard? That was just a trick life played on you to enable the breeding of strivers; dogged, miserable, beaming, brilliant. Somewhere between halfway and all the way, you lose something. What is it?

It's so pretty.

My father scooped me up with one arm before I got swallowed altogether by the wave. On the shore, my grandmother laughed nervously, one hand on her husband's stoic back, said something about being careful. Thank You, I say. I can't hear what she's saying about being careful, and the water keeps going. I shook sand from my suit, and hair. I never learned how to swim, but loved to tempt drowning.

California stops me with her breath, like just her body existing behind me is enough. She removes my shirt with her fingernails. I turn to her. I'm not hungry anymore, she's feeding me with air. She bites my lower lip, lets her teeth linger. Her tongue like waves with mine and then she pulls back, places her palm on my jutting hipbones and yanks me to her. I grab her hair in fists.

I'm curious about her secrets and her ugly heart, so when she leaves in the morning for work I snoop around and find an old drivers license with her photo on it; she looks young and angry and her name isn't Los Angeles. It is Kansas City. But I don't care, I like her plastic and fast and full of lies.

I'm grateful to everything, even to Kansas City, one of a million places I've never been.

On the beach, my feet still wet, my suit still soaked, we pass equal numbers of dogs and humans. There is also the audible experience of birds chirping.


And so I used to be fascinated with hands, lately I've been into spinal cords. The tracks beginning where legs leave off, parallel to gut, snaking gallantly towards brain, full of nobility. The ink at the back of the neck, itself a kind of prologue.

New York's hand grasps the back of my skull, my hair in her hand like it's anything you can steal, or borrow, without penalty, and so I bite her wrist. She doesn't flinch. Her unyielding mouth kisses me like I'll die from it, like she'll kill me of it but she does this with the silent understanding that first, before I die, I'll break out into a kind of muscle-wrought song that'll make everything worth it, and in that moment the rest will fade away -- the jagged anger, couples squabbling on street corners, car alarms and thump-thump hip-hop from giant mutated cars and cleaning trucks and go-go gunshots and kids looking for someone even more pissed off to get riled up about, girls and boys looking for love and knowing it won't even matter if it's real or not, as long as it's alive -- all of that fades away -- she tastes like toothpaste and cocaine, her fingers are limber snipers, knowing when to get there, and how, and then exactly how to exit without a trace on her but the signs nearly exploding from me.

And I'll thank her, which is a kind of apology for never being enough.

When I come, it'll be pure, it'll remind me of hearts and love, it will be a star, it will be a chorus of stars, a body pulsing like a star, when I come, you'll know it, you'll feel it all over, when I come, I'll say,

Here I Am,

I'll say,

This is Me,

you'll open your mouth, begin to speak, I'll say,


don't ruin it.


Haviland Stillwell said...

I like the "girl children" part...cynthia still calls me "girl child," which is perhaps ironic, always, but maybe not anymore? Have fun with the wax. :-)

eric mathew said...

these are my favorite riese posts. your style of writing is fantastic.

i wrote a lil song and you, hav and semi are featured in one of the bars.

happy passover!

emilykate said...

lovely. And nice that you've expanded out to other cities...

The line about spinal columns reminded me of this amazing anatomical table in the Hunterian Museum in London (which of course I couldn't find a good picture of online). Back in the 1600s there were these commissons to make visual aids of veins, nerves, etc. by reducing bodies to only those parts. The best I could do for you is this one:
The fingers are what get me.

Meghan said...

Riese, this is so lovely and intense and vivid.

... I'll thank her, which is a kind of apology ...

I've always been fascinated by those twin compulsions, to apologize and to thank. What we're really saying.

jenn said...

oh me oh my, what can i say.... let me just wipe my eyes.....

that my lady was bloody fantastic, the power of you're pen/type/mind still amazes me, not much more i can say...........oh wait.....supreme!!!

Anonymous said...

That was quite amazing.

Adam said...

The last six lines slay me.

Thank you.

A. said...

I love this more than I can express.

Crystal said...

Beautiful. I second Adam's comment. Those last two lines to New York were something ...

tinkerbell said...

This is, was, and always will be beautiful. Thank you. You're amazing and I love you and all that you do.

Anonymous said...


pat1mi8000 said...

I have never abandoned myself in love the way NY’s lover does. It feels probably like a jump into abyss knowing the predictable end.

It must be a terrifying experience not to care anymore and let yourself go in such a total way despite all of your screaming conservation instincts.

I love your NY stories, they remind me of myself.

AK said...

I had a long distance relationship with New York once. She sent me maps and postcards and every time I saw her in the movies my heart would leap. "Look" I would say "there's Park Avenue". Would that I had visited more often; I might have learned to write so viscerally.

e. said...

My eyes are stung, are drowned, my mouth tastes of copper. Reading this was a kind of deliverance. (I would dissect its insistent beauty, but I'd risk breaking it.)

dani said...

oh riese,
this is sooooo beautiful.
i just caught myself sitting infront of the laptop with my mouth wide open...your style of writing is what i wanna read all day long.

j said...

i adore u

Heathar said...

Such gorgeous writing. I'd be envious if it wouldn't somehow detract from the beauty of the word placement, and because of that take something from the experience itself. I only hope I can evoke a tenth of that emotion someday through words.

This, m'lasy, is amazing.

amlisdabomb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amlisdabomb said...

you know how you linked us to the article about elevators and such.

here's a video to accompany that.

Man trapped in elevator 41 hours

Lozo said...

i can't believe you talk to new york. i can't be close with anyone that so lovingly embraces the golden shower. get it? manhattan smells like pee. that's the joke.

NEP said...

so last night i deleted my entire ipod which was cool since i was trying to back it up in order to prevent exactly this scenario. fuck free shareware, and sensuti is the devil.

anyway, i read your post after the devastation that comes with "ipod has been restored to factory settings" and it made me forget for a bit about my 6k songs reduced to silence. so, thanks.

i've resorted to listening to music on this awesome site where you can make a MIXTAPE (remember when you would make tapes off the radio? no? just me?) .. and even tho' this isn't quite as good as an old fashioned cassette -- its pretty damn close.

and so i made everyone a mixtape as an outlet for my grief last night at 3 AM.

Music From the Music-less

Vesper de Vil said...

this is SOOOOOOOOOO gorgeous!!! i love it, all the way to Kansas City and back again. and more still.

you've captured the essence of these places, and also revealed your own. positively divine.

Martine said...

Wow, nice post! Please write some more!

MoonKiller said...

Do my english exam for me?

Mercury said...

I read this 3 times & didn't say anything, like,

if I say something, I'll ruin it

but it is beautiful the way things are when they just happen when they just become, beautiful random, beautiful honest, beautiful new like a tiny green leaf. you are amazing, things like this remind me of how you always find a way to bowl me over no matter how balanced, carefully stanced, I thought I was

riese said...

You're all very special, and you say such nice things, and these things warm my heart. I'd respond to all of them one by one but I feel like mostly I'd be saying "thank you," and if I say "thank you" a lot of times, that would be meta, and i am many things but not meta. JK I am both many things and meta. I mean I'm like, shhhhh don't ruin it ... to myself.