The Japanese Cherry stands in front of me, shivering and trembling. She shies away from the breeze, and her Cherry Blossoms look like cotton balls soaked in blood. It’s noon, and I hear the crickets. They sound like a man with a slit throat gurgling. The sky is a pale beige, and red birds fly across it reminding me of slashes on a depressed man’s wrist. The sun is dying as the black serpentine tendrils of the night slowly choke him. My eyes are bloodshot with little crimson rivulets running across them, making their way to the dark brown iris, the color of putrefying flesh. I’m unwashed and unclean with a matted beard that looks like a burnt rope. It looks like the remains of a once healthy cord you’ll find underneath the stake after the witch dies – shrieking and screaming; howling and wailing.
A choir of angels dressed in pristine gowns plays its harps and flutes behind me. A chorus soars, and an ethereal melody inundates the place with sweet sopranos, smooth altos, and rich baritones. Fireflies drift into my space, and at that moment I’m whisked away by something inexplicable; something beyond reasoning, and it teleports my senses to a haven outside time and space. The realm between this world and the next splits and showers of mercy fall like gentle rain, caressing my every bruise; healing each scar I’ve gathered over years of fate kicking me in the ribs.
But the feeling quickly evaporates, and I find myself held upside down – fastened by chains to a sturdy branch of the Japanese Cherry – by the same demons, the same imposters, the same charlatans and I feel the blood rushing to my head as quickly as pus leaks out of a broken abscess. The old enemies then place a saw between my legs and slowly cut through ballsack and midsection, and my screams are like soothing lullabies to them, making them nod their heads and cut right through. At that moment I’m the archetypal Kierkegaardian poet. The one who suffers for the pleasure of others.
And then I hear a sweet call from the abyss. A soft minimalistic piece rivaling Richter’s ‘She Remembers.’ A glorious, delicate song. I’m overwhelmed with emotion and forget the torment. The song reminds me of dewy grass and sun-kissed slopes. It reminds me of the cool mountain mist obscuring the ugliness around me like a scabbard conceals its sword. It reminds me of petrichor and its invigorating taste. And my eyes close as the music breathes life into me; stitching my wounds. I look at myself, and I’m in a valley of dry bones, a cadaver myself, but tendons and flesh envelop me, and I’m soon alive and marching to the promised land.
The Japanese Cherry stands withered, and the azure sky symbolizes more things than words can depict. Am I free? Will the old demons never haunt this house again? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but by and by, I’ll win.
I read your last letter and it moved and shook my core because the date nears, and the court has dismissed all our appeals. You told me about Sara deciding to move on, having found another man, and about how she has never brought little Ruth to visit you though she’s twelve now. I always believed that Sara wanted to protect Ruth from a scarred childhood impression of seeing her father in chains, given an hour to pour his heart out and weep because that sort of thing leaves an ugly, indelible stain on the consciousness, and it’s usually suppressed before those grotesque colors coat all sense of identity later in life, making the person see things in monochrome. So, in that sense I believed that Sara was justified. But what outraged me was her questioning your innocence. Now, here was the woman who stood by you these last ten years, meeting lawyers and filing appeals. A woman who knew you from childhood, experienced so much with you as your friend, sweetheart, lover and wife, who knew the ins and outs of your labyrinthine personality, who stood by us when we couldn’t bear seeing mother suffer so much, and then eventually be snuffed out by cancer’s gale. I called her but she doesn’t pick my calls. She’s cut ties with both of us, as if we were putrefying sores so gangrenous that there isn’t any other course but amputation. Now, I don’t know what happened on the 27th of August, all those years ago when some homicidal, spree killer got away and you took his place like Christ did for the Church. I use such strong Biblical symbolism because I believe in your innocence, and even if they stripped off my skin, my blood and bones would cry for justice, my dear brother. Forgive me if all this sounds like hyperbole. I assure you it’s not. I saw you the previous evening with your friends in a local bar, enjoying yourself and infusing the place with your honest vivacity, and I can’t believe that the same person resorted to doing something so vicious and heinous to an innocent family who lived a few blocks away the next day. You didn’t even own a gun. But why did you not say a word and remain mute during the trial like someone unsympathetic and unafraid? You refused to answer questions properly, and your monosyllabic replies enraged me. And though a few witnesses saw another man dart from the house, you strangely dismissed that claim. They caught you with the weapon and blood-stained hands, but you stood trial in a place between light and dark; neither defending your innocence or pronouncing your guilt. You, the brother I looked up to, a man of integrity who never conformed to the Janus-faced parade with their gaudy robes masking reptilian skin, suddenly seeming somewhat catatonic. You, who despised the hypocrisy of ‘perfect’ people and embraced fractured finitude suddenly seeming conniving. You knew something that you’re still unwilling to share, didn’t you? And somewhere deep inside I know it too, which is why we can never look each other in the eye for an extended period during visitations. I’ve searched and dug but can only unearth hazy traces of who, why and what. Traces just as blurred as my days of addiction back then. So, tell me. Just throw it at me. Let it rip through me that the lamb sacrificed himself for the degenerate. And if you have the proof, clear your name. I’ve avoided asking you this because our memories are contortions of actuality. But as the day nears, I sense things inching their way to the surface, and I need to know. I don’t want your sacrifice or love, just the truth.
The day we broke up, the dying Sun was a blackish crimson like the color of menstrual blood. The only sounds heard were the incessant cawing of crows that sounded like the noises a lunatic in unendurable emotional throes makes. There was a slight drizzle, but it wasn’t like the soft healing rain that people enjoy. It felt acidic and bitter; sharp like little tungsten needles piercing flesh; grim and nihilistic.
She said, ‘I never loved you, and I don’t know why I put up for four years,’ and though that statement echoed my own feelings, I was bitter, and I felt it – some green, thorny reed pulsing in my chest, urging me to lash out at her. Anger gripped me like caffeine intoxicates you when you’ve had too much coffee. A manic thrill flitted around each thought of mine, scratching at their surfaces and creating a terrible itch like an allergic rash – red scales imprinted on chest and stomach. I wanted to wound her emotionally. I wanted to crush her with words like a rattlesnake’s bite. But I bottled up my rage and just walked away with seething hatred in my eyes.
Ours was a slipshod romance based on ideas of who we were and who we’ll become. The problem with such romances is that when they hit hard ground, the idealism quickly evaporates like nail polish remover or acetone, leaving a pungent stench. Then a bleakness sets in and the lush grandiosity is replaced by a wasteland, littered with scraps of ‘what should have been.’
We made the mistake of staying together despite the staleness and the acrid stench. We were far past even a hint of recovery, but we pushed on, though we secretly despised each other. I guess the need for companionship even if it’s toxic and volatile makes people do stupid things. We complimented each other, but there wasn’t any depth to anything we said. Everything became an ostentatious façade of the clichéd three words said, or pure lust gripping us like myriad demons and making us devour each other – possessed, insatiable and hedonistic.
‘I love you,’ she’d say after semen like little glaciers coated her breasts and stomach.
‘I love you too,’ I’d say, cleverly masking my nonchalance.
‘Where do you think we’ll be five years from now?’
‘I don’t know; possibly married with a child and a dog.’
‘Yeah, and we’ll be successful writers too.’
This trite, mundane small talk enveloped every conversation we had like smog enveloping a footpath. And strangely, it was only after sex that we’d even bother to engage in longer conversations.
There’s a difference between lust and love, and lust can often imitate love like Satan masquerading as an angel of light as the good apostle put it. Lust is an impatient, reckless muse. She gives you half an hour of pleasure and then dumps you, making you fall into an intense pattern of introspection as complicated as the designs you see in a kaleidoscope.
Love, however, is patient and soft and selfless (or so they say). I’ve never known her though I’ve romanticized her using sonnets and lyrical passages in my prose.
‘Do you want to get a cup of coffee?’
‘How about we go to this new café on Church street? I’ve heard the ambiance there is terrific.’
‘Yeah, why not?’
This sort of conversation marked our relationship like a birthmark marks a finger when boredom seized us, and we felt sorry for ourselves. It’s tragic that you see something in a person that was never there and cling to the chimera like you’re clinging to a branch you somehow caught when you fell from a cliff.
Sleazy sex and cigarettes; squalid thoughts and booze; dirty lifestyles and cock and cunt; thinking in shades of black and white. All this slowly creeps into the archetypal deluded relationship like the serpent in Eden who destroyed Adam and his progeny.
In the end, I was living with her in a sordid apartment, squandering my time, while self-loathing and hatred for her was the bile I was holding back using all my effort. Eventually, it reached a stage where I had to puke. I had to relieve myself of the artificiality and inanity. But she took the first step.
We had a fight, and it was only the second fight we’d ever had, but the redundancy of our relationship like a classic Macintosh computer broke our wills.
‘Is all this only about sex?’ She asked me with a look of disgust after we’d had an intense session that lasted nearly an hour.
‘What if it is?’ I said, and I knew I’d said something I could never take back.
‘I’m not a whore, you bastard! I need something more than just physical satisfaction, and I can’t believe you just said that!’
‘I didn’t mean it that way. I don’t even know why I said that.’
‘Yeah, but you did. What’s deeply rooted in the heart always untangles itself and becomes an utterance.’
‘Look, I’m sorry,’ I said halfheartedly, ‘I never meant to hurt you.’
‘Then why did you say what you said?’
‘I don’t know. All I know is that there was something else on my mind, and I just said something stupid,’ I lied.
‘Stop lying. Maybe you’re right though. Maybe these four years have only been about sex. I’ve longed for intimacy, but I’ve never found it with you, and I don’t think I ever will.’
‘What do you mean? Do you want to find it with someone else? I’ve tried hard to make this work, you know, but you’re always so distant and preoccupied,’ I said with a hint of insecurity.
‘I’m preoccupied! You’re the one who’s never there. All you do is mumble now and then, and honestly, I’m sick of it. ‘
‘Do you want to break up? Is this what this is all about?’
We avoided each other for the next few days, but we did eventually break up. Thinking back, I didn’t want her to find someone else, even though I was relieved that we weren’t together.
Freedom at last! It took a few days processing it. No more pretentious conversations, no more hypocrisy, no more sacrifices to altars of nothingness, no more suppressed hate like a pustule festering inside, no more us.
She soon found another lover, and that strangely felt like someone had clamped my heart with crocodile shears. I felt like someone boxed me in an iron maiden of emotion and slammed the door shut. But what fascinated me was me getting aroused thinking of her and her new lover in bed. It was an ugly mix of bitterness, turmoil, and libido. I spent days masturbating to the thought of them having sex and writhing in self-pity at the same time. I’d then think that I was a sick freak and masturbate to that thought too.
I stopped caring about personal hygiene; walked to the liquor store in the pants I’d shagged in and years passed as I watched my life ebb away. Was there a part of me that loved her? Did I miss the sex? Do deluded romances also have an aspect of actual, tangible, beautiful emotion that we suppress? I couldn’t get over her, and I still haven’t. I guess things will never be the same, but what’s ironic is that they were shitty to start with.
When we said, “For better or for worse,” some dewy-eyed part of us hypothesized a forever walk under an innocent Jacaranda, purple Cherub-flowered tunnel, through sickness or fortune, seamlessly walking to the sweetest song, hand in hand, laughing or smiling, kissing or just thinking of each other. But as the years rolled by, some wistful reverie made us theorize about creating our own tunnel, out of the wood and golden auburn leaves that remained: if not something surreal, then something more earthy, natural, like a soft, glinting Maple Tree tunnel in Autumn with its own subdued, slightly muted enthusiasm. But then time being the strongman he is, shaped the heated metal of our relationship on an anvil of work, pressure and forgotten dreams. And this made us practical, and we stopped chasing the will-o’-the-wisp, and made the most of embers on the hearth, prodding to create a quick spark now and then, because little affection is better than faking something long gone. But merciless fate changed our work shifts: you working as a teacher from 9 to 5, and I working my call center shift starting at 6. And the hour between throbbed with a jaded you, coming home after battling unnecessary childhood angst, real trauma and a profession noble but hardly helping foot the bills, and the black coffee lay on the table, with a white sheen on it, perhaps embodying the pretense we’d become: a couple purely mechanical, almost machine like. We drank in silence with the occasional forced smile, said our goodbyes with a façade of a kiss, and I left, returning with bloodshot eyes, to find you gone with a note saying, “Heat the sandwich up. I left it in the fridge,” and so, I guess we both think now; never nostalgically or even practically, but just impulsively about where we went wrong, and I guess we both have thoughts of an affair or a fling, but some clockwork keeps us ticking, just like the whiskey I drink secretly once I’m done with the sandwich, trying to wash away a memory of a memory, or a simulacrum of when we said, “For better or for worse.”
When I spoke to you today, in that café, a Portishead song
played in the background, I don’t like them much, but
a part of me wanted to drift with the tune, slowly
with you, uncaring, unyielding, unbending,
I guess naïvety flits through consciousness,
even now, a false moonlight, chock-full of diversions,
delusions, disturbances, I love you because you admit that
you’ve messed up too, unlike the people who
hate facing the real places in
their lives, denying, suppressing, blaming,
and pretending, but that’s not the only reason,
I love you because you showed me more
to life than both imagination and hard ground
did, and I just love you for reasons unexplained,
unsaid, unfelt, but you and I cannot deny
circumstance, things happen that both
knowledge and insight can never comprehend,
I try, but I’m often falling short, relying too
much on inspiration while I’m studying
and writing, and a part of me knows
that sonnets fade, and passion becomes
a parched lip kiss, and tragedy untunes
strings of will, we only think of whispering to the stars,
and I don’t want you to stand by me if
I’m crushed, I don’t want you to try
to futilely make me remember us,
I don’t want you to try to help me fight a
war that gives me no Cadmean victory,
you’ll find that in fables, and so I tried hard,
holding back everything, and then choking
and spluttering, before saying things hurriedly,
and running off, but I told you about
this place, where I’ve provoked, moved, admired and
liked people, and when you read this,
you’ll know why I left short-lived flawed togetherness,
and left you staring at my back, breaking your heart
the right way.
Walking past these headstones,
in this churchyard, I kneel, look back
at the little Presbyterian prayer
hall you used to frequent,
pristine white, with blue-cushioned pews,
its simple beige altar, grey steeple, little cross,
and a miasma of nostalgia seems rise from
the architecture, slowly creeping towards me,
the twilight complementing it. I read your epitaph,
“I’m grateful, and content now, as I was when I walked,”
it says, and I choke, holding back tears
because it’s true, I remember you holding
my hand when I was utterly despondent,
finding no beauty even in the simple things
like a cup of coffee, or a stroll in a picturesque
park with marble statuettes, or the photographs
we took of that crimson horned pheasant with its breast
like a red satin cloth embossed with little white
raindrops, you said, “Remember we’ll always
have each other, and I’ll walk with you, even if
we’re trapped in this prison maze of regret,” and that
was enough reason for me to start seeing
again. And it wasn’t something without, it
was a breathtaking, inner waltz of emotion
I got a glimpse of, warmth, and kindness
turning round and round on the floor of passion.
I felt it, so intense, and I can only call it love.
You fought a war with fate, refused bending
and bowing, rejected servitude, and stood strong,
and you still do, maybe not as something tangible,
but as an indomitable essence, a force that helps me
carry on even though I pass illuminated billboards,
country houses, and alleyways imbued with poverty,
reeking from the potholes, and bits of scrap alone;
but I still come here when I’m weak, when I forget
to remember, and find myself trapped in a paperweight
of a haunted existence, the swirling mass threatening to
overwhelm me. I come here even though something within,
maybe a part of you says, “Let go, move on,”
because I’ve never loved anyone like I loved you,
with my very being, and as I clasp that stone now
and wet it with tears of anguish, the cold, icy droplets
of Pyrrhic victory, leaking from a hypothermic
soul who longs for the fever of yesterday’s touch,
I want you…no,
I need you to know.
I get stoned these days; not an intentional, ‘I need to get high,’ stoned, but I struggle with migraines, skin rashes and cold, and I’m on cough syrups and antihistamines. Maybe I take an extra swig of the syrup because I’m tired, and just want the day to get over. But I’m not sure. I went to the departmental store to pick up an energy drink and found myself staring at the woman behind the counter. It wasn’t because she’s hot or anything, I basically looked right through her with dilated pupils, while she kept asking me for some details. I liked standing there, while people rushed in and out, surrounding me, but then I couldn’t do the catatonic thing forever, and so I snapped out of it, paid her, and left. I then went to a small tea shop and bought some cigarettes, and drank my lemon tea, and suddenly that whole light, euphoric buzz started becoming something ugly, just like the sickening feeling you get when you smoke too much bad weed. And so, I didn’t finish my tea, paid the guy quickly and walked home. It’s like certain places give me this cool solitude and gentle atmosphere when I’m high, but other places just make me feel sick and nauseated. But I don’t really need to get high. I’m usually a total recluse who loves solitude, and when I get it, my mood and being shifts into something ethereal, and I feel like I’m floating, suspended in mid-air, or defeating gravity. I had a friend preach to me today while I was catching up on blog posts. He basically judged me and said that I’m doing nothing with my life. I guess he’s both right and wrong. He’s right in a superficial sense, but in a deeper sense, I don’t want to lead his life: Working as a software engineer, drinking like a fish, gambling and then preaching the prosperity gospel in some hysterical charismatic church. He takes a half-day vacation, and then gets up and goes to work. Fuck! If you’re taking a break at least make it four days is my motto. But hell, who am I to judge? Live and let live, I guess. The problem with him is that he won’t stop arguing until he has the last say, and so, I just blocked him. Let him think he won the argument and ‘humbled’ me, or whatever. I guess I’ll read a little Fitzgerald tonight and then hit the sack. I’m sort of nonchalant now, and I like that too. Anything’s better than paranoia or neurosis. But as I dig deeper, I’ve realized that my subconscious and conscious mind got merged at some point in my life. So regardless of if I’m writing or talking, I’m passively spilling words out. And when I’m walking, I’m mechanically crossing the street. All my actions are passive. Even my strength is a passive strength. It’s never an active grit. Maybe it’s a good thing, or maybe not, but I’m past caring.
I saw a blazing sign in bloodless skies!
And so, I must obey! The shields they paint!
We won the war! I must erase the taint!
Both foolish men, and dirty pagan lies!
I fight for truth, and justice never cries
About men who hate blood and swoon and faint!
These idiots and their undue complaint!
But my son’s grief! That look! His sorrowed eyes!
No, I’ll not let inane fact govern me
And Licinius? Didn’t he warrant death?
They cheated Truth, they only claimed they’re mine
Now Jordan begs and I won’t let it be!
I must hear her and then that final breath!
I made the bloody sky and put my sign.
A simple law
I said he is immortal and I’m wrong
But didn’t he rescue us from tyranny?
If truth were told, he doesn’t need praise from me
But certainly, requires some potent song
And only fools attend the pagan’s throng!
The world is clearer now, can’t they all see!
But murder haunts my law and won’t let be!
I often wonder if he’s truly strong
My errors taught me I cannot revolt
Against raw power, all that does is kill
Poor Crispus, rebelling against the light
But look at him now hanging like a dolt!
Just for a horrid, thoughtless, carnal thrill
I said he is immortal and I’m right.
A simple truth
Is life a blessing or an awful curse?
I find a law in that inane, small phrase
As some say it is with each passing phase
when friends forsake, and painful wounds I nurse
I could allude, say that a hidden hearse
Awaits me; it was never truth that stays
That lifts anemic men to realms of praise
My name wasn’t written in ecstatic verse
I’ve tried to rage but dropped my fight to peace
I thought of love and looked at sparkling stars
I’m Crispus at the Emperor’s behest
What justice, fact is this? These thoughts don’t cease
And nothing changes that I’ve lost my wars
But no one answers the need for this test.
You and I amble past collapsing brownstones – circumscribed by decaying barks and withered grass – hand in hand, looking for a place where the common denominator is madness and the ecstasy that both pain and pleasure bring.
You and I see through ostentatious facades lacking depth and semantic: pretty, insipid Instagram photos and Facebook status updates, designed to impress.
You and I know the unknown and see the unseen, and that breaks us each day but ties us together with a fabric of blood that murmurs of a togetherness that transcends even the sweetest aubade of the songbird at dawn.
You and I haunt decrepit, tumbledown places, looking for solace, a place to sheath our swords until we fall to our knees and with red droplets of anguish creating our Gethsemane, we look at each other and know that the only way of battling the void is to embrace each other in that beautiful, twisted way that only we can.
Eden & Chernobyl, the Puppeteer & the puppet, the Wasteland & the Crucifix, the Glory & the Passion – these things we know intimately.
We’ve seen the horror that unhinges minds, alters personality and chokes with its paranormal tentacles, but we’ve come out both defeated and victorious.
We’ve felt the sorrow that kills, that feels like a spear in the side while the executioner hammers nail after nail, tearing skin and breaking bone, but we’ve come out both weeping and with renewed grit.
I look around me sitting on ruined pillars with broken gargoyles atop them and see the starless sky, the smog, the industry, but the thought of you making your way somewhere along these winding roads in a different space and time makes me think that there’s hope in desert places.
Humpty sat in the refrigerator pondering and pondering, which is pretty much what eggs did. They were deep existential thinkers contemplating on the nature of good and evil, the nature of man and man’s relationship to them. He pondered on metaphysical things like the nature of the eternal yolk, the finitude of the shell and predestination. Why do some eggs hatch and become chickens when the rest are refrigerated? Why am I here? What is the meaning of all this? What does tomorrow bring? He thought. He never quite understood man. He very carefully and gently caressed eggs and placed them in the refrigerator with utmost care, but he’d seen another side. Another vicious side that another poor egg who was now either in heaven, hell, purgatory or the void experienced. Man, just picked him up and smashed him over a woman’s head in rage. He watched in horror as shell broke and yolk spilt. How could man who’s capable of such tenderness do something so vicious? Did man have two yolks, one good and another bad? Or did he only mask his depravity? Humpty thought and wished he could express these feelings, but he had no outlet and he felt uneasy and discomforted when the refrigerator door opened, and a child looked at him before picking him up. Humpty remained mute but his yolk froze. Terror gripped him. It was time to finally experience things and face truth or judgement and he didn’t know what lay before him. He couldn’t express his sheer agony and inner torture. A whirlwind of emotion gripped his yolk. Help! Save! Redeem! He desperately thought when the child suddenly brought Humpty out of the house and he saw the light. The sun. Now, he had some innate knowledge of it but had never truly seen it. He felt warm, comforted and consoled when he was placed on a wall. He was ecstatic. He had inner peace. So, it’s redemption after all, he thought and lost himself to the moment when he felt a slight nudge. He suddenly found himself losing consciousness and experienced severe nausea, and he felt the urge to vomit but couldn’t. He was falling. ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,’ he heard the child sing. The agony was excruciating. And then he crashed against the cobbles and felt his shell cracking: a small crack before a split and his yolk oozed out. What did I ever do to you? Why do you hurt me? Aaargh! It stings! It burns! I can’t handle it! The pain! Please make it stop! He thought, still unable to express himself. And then he saw the murderous child wearing a crown and carrying a toy horse. He crushed Humpty some more with the horse. Oh God! No! Please! Don’t! He thought. The child then squashed Humpty into pulp, letting the yolk run on his hands. Make it stop! Make this murderous bastard quit! Humpty thought and then he heard a voice of a demon when the child shrieked with glee, saying, ‘All the King’s horses and the King’s men. Couldn’t put Humpty together again.’ And everything faded to black just after Humpty realized that existence is meaningless and embraced nihilism.