veins beneath the water

Marilyn Monroe took all her sleeping pills
to bed when she was thirty-six, and Marlon Brando’s daughter
hung in the Tahitian bedroom
of her mother’s house,
while Stanley Adams shot himself in the head. Sometimes
you can look at the clouds or the trees
and they look nothing like clouds or trees or the sky or the ground.
The performance artist Kathy Change
set herself on fire while Bing Crosby’s sons shot themselves
out of the music industry forever.
I sometimes wonder about the inner lives of polar bears. The French
philosopher Gilles Deleuze jumped
from an apartment window into the world
and then out of it. Peg Entwistle, an actress with no lead
roles, leaped off the “H” in the hollywoodsign
when everything looked black and white
and David O. Selznick was king, circa 1932. Ernest Hemingway
put a shotgun to his head in Ketchum, Idaho
while his granddaughter, a model and actress, climbed the family tree
and overdosed on phenobarbital. My brother opened
thirteen fentanyl patches and stuck them on his body
until it wasn’t his body anymore. I like
the way geese sound above the river. I like
the little soaps you find in hotel bathrooms because they’re beautiful.
Sarah Kane hanged herself, Harold Pinter
brought her roses when she was still alive,
and Louis Lingg, the German anarchist, lit a cap of dynamite
in his own mouth
though it took six hours for him
to die, 1887. Ludwig II of Bavaria drowned
and so did Hart Crane, John Berryman, and Virginia Woolf. If you are
travelling, you should always bring a book to read, especially
on a train. Andrew Martinez, the nude activist, died
in prison, naked, a bag
around his head, while in 1815 the Polish aristocrat and writer
Jan Potocki shot himself with a silver bullet.
Sara Teasdale swallowed a bottle of blues
after drawing a hot bath,
in which dozens of Roman senators opened their veins beneath the water.
Larry Walters became famous
for flying in a Sears patio chair and forty-five helium-filled
weather balloons. He reached an altitude of 16,000 feet
and then he landed. He was a man who flew.
He shot himself in the heart. In the morning I get out of bed, I brush
my teeth, I wash my face, I get dressed in the clothes I like best.
I want to be good to myself.

Trouble, Matthew Dickman

i blink my eyes into morning, your smile the only one i see.

They told me that I was meant for the cleaner life;
that you would drag me through the mud.

They said that you would tread all over me,
that they could see right through you,

that you were full of hot air;
that I would always be chasing,

always watching you disappear after sleeker models—
that it would be a vicious cycle.

But I know better. I know about your rough edges
and I have seen your perfect curves.

I will fit into whatever spaces you let me.
If loving you means getting dirty, bring on the grime.

I will leave this porcelain home behind. I’m used to
twice-a-day relationships, but with you I’ll take all the time.

And I know we live in different worlds, and we’re always really busy,
but in my dreams you spin around me so fast, I always wake up dizzy.

So maybe one day you’ll grow tired of the road
and roll on back to me.

And when I blink my eyes into morning,
your smile will be the only one I see.

No Matter the Wreckage
Sarah Kay

crash. boom. bangg.

Years away now. Years my life without you near. Years in solitude and just like that you came back into my life. No signs, no hunch. No sting in your gut trying to tell you this is the day. This is the day you’re going to again meet the love of your life. You got rid of him and now the universe is giving you a second chance.

What have I done? I set you free. I have set you free.

Emma Glows at Sunsets

I don’t know her. But I imagine Emma glows at sunsets. She radiates like the sun. Even now as I am writing this, I could see her face smiling at me and it gives me warmth in my stomach. How tender she must have been with you. You smiled differently, you seemed happy. When I saw you with her, I felt peaceful. If you should be with anyone, it should be her.

I imagine all sorts of things about her. How she took her morning coffee. How she sang in the shower. How she glided on stage, singing and chanting her lines. I imagined the crowd inside the theater mesmerized by how she moved, how she spoke, how she shined. She had so much light. She was the light you needed in times of gloom and darkness. I was thankful for her, but only in some hidden parts of me.

To say that Emma is talented is an understatement, but she’s humbling, even more with a star’s qualities. You met her when you were working on music scores for one of her sold out plays. They took it out from Broadway, touring around the globe. You needed a space to forget me, and so you two met.

Joe told me this.

He didn’t mean to set you up with her, you just happened to be there when Joe, Shelly, James, and Emma had a dinner at the Bel Air. You were at the bar, drinking alone yet another night not long after we broke up. Joe dragged you to join their table.

You didn’t even say much, nor did she. But you and beautiful Emma, you two exchanged looks like no one else was there. You loved the way she smiled almost immediately, how enchanting that you couldn’t take your eyes off of her.

She drove you home that night because you were a bit tipsy. You gambled fate by asking her to stay the night and she did.

But she wasn’t me. She didn’t wake you up the way I did. She didn’t make your coffee the way I did (too much sugar!). She didn’t make you breakfast. She went into shower and head off to work. She didn’t say goodbye. She smiled at you from the door as if she knew you weren’t really there.

And just like that she’s gone.

And you were alone (and lonely) again.

But perhaps she did woke you up the way I did. She did make your coffee exactly the way you wanted it, and she made you perfect breakfast: french toast with sprinkled Swiss cheddar, or just a plain old blueberry pop tarts, piled and warmed up, glazed with honey. She kissed you goodbye and said would call for a dinner date, you didn’t have to do anything. She’s perfect and you fell in love head over hills for her.

Only years after I would know you weren’t with her. The whole time I wasn’t there you were lonely, working like a dog, then hopping from one bar to another, drinking.

In July

You and I moved fast and slow, twisted time to match the beat of our hearts, eyes closed to something no one dared to see. Go on, I said, you’ve made your choice but we breathed and lived for all the wrong reasons and you left for years without looking back and here you are now, bittersweet perfection, sullen and angry like a Cat 3 hurricane too far offshore to be noticed, sad and angry like the hot tears you once cried so long ago in July.

Diana Perry

for a thousand more.

When you proposed you didn’t have a ring, and it was not pancakes, it was eggs. It was not fairytale-like or slow paced romantic. It was late morning and you smelled like penicillin. Your hair was crazy curls and you hadn’t shaved for like a week. You blurted, “what if you changed your name into Mrs.C.” I was stunned, offended, my eggs burnt. I said you can’t say things like that, smelling like that, looking like that. First take a shower, get a ring, and ask on bended knee. You said nonchalantly: my knees hurt.

the added weight of all the years.

The real difference between youth and age is not physical, or even mental. It’s just the added weight of all the years piled up behind you. You can call it experience if you want, but having a considerable past doesn’t necessarily confer any wisdom. It just compresses time so that things that happened last week and things that happened in the mid-1980s sit side by side in your memory.

read more.

where guilt is alive.

When you are living in a house where guilt is alive, it leaves a mark.

And when you are living in an atmosphere of daily, ever-present guilt, what does that do to children? It changes their souls.

Molly Shannon

like morning.

i think a lot about your eyes
…and how painful it is to be
in a room full of people with such
empty pockets and words that are
so heavy i cannot lift them from
the fog.

you are the greatest secret
if i could i would hold you between
my hands like morning.

Alison Malee

the unbearable.

“Our day-to-day life is bombarded with fortuities or, to be more precise, with the accidental meetings of people and events we call coincidences. “Co-incidence” means that two events unexpectedly happen at the same time, they meet: Tomas appears in the hotel restaurant at the same time the radio is playing Beethoven. We do not even notice the great majority of such coincidences. If the seat Tomas occupied had been occupied instead by the local butcher, Tereza never would have noticed that the radio was playing Beethoven… But her nascent love inflamed her sense of beauty, and she would never forget that music. Whenever she heard it, she would be touched. Everything going on around her at that moment would be haloed by the music and take on its beauty.

…Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This symmetrical composition—the same motif appears at the beginning and at the end—may seem quite “novelistic” to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as “fictive,” “fabricated,” and “untrue to life” into the word “novelistic.” Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion.

They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven’s music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.

It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences… but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.”

Milan Kundera

nada, perhaps.

…because friendship and intimacy are subjective, and there isn’t a widely used scale researchers share to define those concepts across studies. Closeness can be particularly squishy. 

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strings.

Sometimes I felt that there was something physical connecting us, a long rope that stretched between Boston and Portland: when she tugged on her end, I felt it on mine. Wherever she went, wherever I went, there it would be, that shining twined string that stretched and pulled but never broke, our every movement reminding us of what we would never have again.

Hanya Yanagihara