Stargirl

How much longer can I be Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl? 

Lighting cigarettes with matches and breaking hearts? 

Words trip off my tongue and run away into the wee hours and I forget other beings are around to capture my fleeting sentiments. 

They slurp them up and take them to heart, to head, to body, or all of the above. 

She sits like a succubus on the edge of the pasta pot, the water nearly boiling over, salty and starchy with her feet burning in the bubbles, but she doesn’t care. 

She’s Stargirl. 

If you’re under 30, if you can still snip the stems off flowers and suck your stomach in, bat your eyelashes and keep up with the latest trends, you can probably still be Stargirl. 

Keep breaking your hearts and breaking your promises, making people fall in love with you and littering a path of no reconciliation, loving and leaving them wanting more. 

The hearts in your wake crunch under your feet like so many beetles, carapaces satisfyingly turning to dust as you walk over each, like walking over so many graves. 

But there’s not satisfaction in it, actually, because you don’t mean to steal so many hearts. It’s just something you do. It’s just something that happens. You open yourself up, give people compliments and empathize with them and listen to them and throw your head back and laugh when something is funny. You riff if they’re a comedian and preen if they’re into looks and self-deprecate if the fucked-upness of your brain is what attracts them. 

 You find whichever way it takes to be loved and exploit it — unknowingly? 

Until they’re deep in love and feel foolish when you (inevitably) break their heart and leave them behind.

Once / Numb

There is a ceiling to my happiness, a roof to my joy
There’s a certain amount of passion and splendour I’m allowed to feel
I have a quota of excitement that I must not exceed each day

Once, when I was young, I could sob until my chest heaved dry and empty, shouting at the gods that I do not deserve such exquisite pain
Once, I could celebrate to the moon, create fireworks inside my body and send them outward, shine with my smile and red in my cheeks and beams of light in my eyes like I was a star itself
Once, I could mix surprise and grief
joy
sorrow
fear
flirtation
smug petty low dirty
proud pure clean good happy feelings
I could create a painting, a mixture of high low happy sad
And I felt each one with great and shocking and abandon
I was a map of emotions, you could chart a course on my face from here to there, A to B, pain to calm to exhilaration to frustration and back again
Once I could feel: fully, elaborately, and truly

Now I am numb
Now I can take bite-sized pieces of happy between my teeth
I can lick crumbs of grief from the end of the spoon
I can slurp the tiniest dewdrops of surprise and satisfaction from the end of the straw

But there is a limit
where once
there was none

Once I could feel.

Now I am numb.

Inevitability, Part III

Inevitability.

A surprised voice. 

A sharp smell.

A lipstick stain.

A light trip over the threshold. 

White fuzz separates from the black stripes. 

A sharp tongue nips your temple and the blood trickles down and you reel backward, another blunt force trauma, this time from the back. 

A swarm of sexual memories intrudes upon the violence. The bite of a gnat becomes a bite on your neck. I didn’t check for marks today. 

A scratch that plucks out your eyeball or the scratch that arches your back. 

A heavy dark drumbeat, a funeral dirge or the steady rhythm of two bodies together. 

The slick dark smear of your blood, puddled on the floor, slipping on the mess

platelets white red cells plasma

it all looks the same

delicious enough to drink

on hands and knees

lapping up every last drop

iron-rich and metallic

tangy and gritty with the sand and cement

the ground

And then we’re back

the other dirty inevitability, the hands and knees as the drumbeat of your hand presses in from behind, positioned carefully so it might feel like it’s attached from that spot on your body that’s not your wrist. 

A dirty game we play pretending playing pretend with our body types. 

A cock crows once, twice, thrice, four times and counting 

there’s five 

and it can’t be 

Six

a coincidence, imagining

Seven

this filthy scene, and as

Eight

a responding call sounds deeper (yes) 

further away (further in) 

Nine

It strikes me that it may be no cock at all but in fact a mockingbird, and wouldn’t that be the most delicious dish of all?

Feathers plucked (naked as it were) 

head roughly pulled off and

maybe we’re experimenting with choking here

but no I’ve heard that’s dangerous let’s go back to play violence where it’s all in our heads

it’s too hard it’s too dark here I can’t no please stop POP

Goes the mockingbird’s wishbone

with a satisfying thwack the discarded bones hit the floor

heavy now as they’ve transmuted from bird to human, the sticky sweet floor blood pouring from between 

Your legs but it’s clear now, because you gush like a waterfall when you see me

The violence of passing between memory and reality 

Fantasy and fiction

The disparate worlds

Ten

And the crazed pant as you 

Lick lick lick 

Or 

Chop chop chop

And realize it was all a dream?

But you’re not 

It’s too real, the feel of her hand inside, the slap across the face too stinging

The slowing of her breathing to match your asphyxiation

Where does sex end and death begin?

We’re only just

Getting started 

Inevitability, Part II

The outlines something faded, the shells of something used up. 

It’s intoxicating to be wanted.

It’s a sick-soul balm, but the secret

The caw

The screech

The dreamus interruptus

The balm heals while it’s on, serves as a salve, soothes your wounds and affords you a supernatural strength. 

A level unheretofore known 

AND THEN

when it’s gone…

your soul is worse than before. 

a piece is gone. 

the secret: you don’t have to kill to make a horcrux. 

you simply have to make someone fall in love with you

(A little madness is good)

and – that – there splits off a piece of your soul

it belongs to them now.

if ever you want to see it – that soulpiece – you can – like in a museum box

Just

Give

Them

Call

or read your old journals

look at some pictures together

your soul won’t come back to you. 

No. That’s the point of a horcrux, after all.

It won’t come back, but you will be able to see it. 

And it will hurt.

Very badly. 

Because when you see it again, it’s not yours anymore, but it does understand.

It longs to be back where it belongs — back in your soulbox, returned to you. 

The sense of loss: palpable.

The price.

Of living on.

Inevitability

It was, perhaps, inevitable that the world would face a global pandemic (which, I’ve been told by the Associated Press style guide on the topic, is redundant and should be avoided… that whole “pan” taking care of the “global” part) and it was also perhaps inevitable that such a worldwide event would send many to look after their long-forgotten creative projects.

Pigeonhole has been somewhat of a nemesis for me, lying in wait like the two-pound weights gathering dust on my closet shelf, promising to be of good use if only I’d pick them up.

I’m still at work, actually, 40 hours a week or more (though not at my second job), but the siren song of a long-forgotten project has seduced me into returning.

Hence the marriage of two projects.

I wrote a chapbook about a year ago, and submitted the poems to a contest. The chapbook is called “Inevitability,” and some of it feels especially relevant now. We’ve seen the (of course, incorrect) quote over and over again: “We never could have seen this coming.” But of course, many health experts here and abroad could, and did. It was inevitable.

So how does a situation change when you have prepared for it, versus when you haven’t? Is it self-destructive (or in some cases, destructive of others) when you choose, willfully, not to prepare?

I’ll be posting some of those poems on inevitability, and others, over the next few days. 

And while we’re all quarantined and supporting artists and creators… check out this incredible project birthed by my dear friend Kelly Lamanna, Your Uncle Richard.

Here’s how they describe the project: Founded in 2014 by Katelyn Douglass and Kelly Lamanna, Your Uncle Richard is a long-distance arts collaboration that connects an ever-growing family of strangers. Structured like a game of telephone, each cycle begins with one artist who creates a prompt and passes it on to the next participant.

Right now they’re in Cycle Five: Quarantine, which starts with one of the now-famous tweets showing quarantined Italians singing on balconies to lift each others’ spirits and pass the time. That tweet inspired the first artist to create the first piece, which inspired the next two artists to create their pieces, and so on down the line.

I’m lucky enough to be a part of one of the two concurrent cycles that’s happening right now during … all this. Keep your eyes on their site to see some exciting things.

And please. Stay at home if you can.

The secret to happiness

The tears come out of nowhere
they trace a line down your nose
tickling
and drip off (finally) your chin

A perverse desire, now, to gaze on the one weeping, to see what she looks like
You gaze, but the sharp arch of your brow is unkind in the mirror

When I remove your clothes

(watching, still, in the mirror)
(i always want to watch)

the lines of your socks and bra, biting into your skin, will be apparent
A little red to remind us that we are human

Do you like, then, what you see in the mirror?
The humanity of the redness of those lines?
The uneven surface?
The ripples, the contours, the hairs poking through, the not-yet-tanned-by-summer skin?

no

never comfortable in my skin

that’s truly the secret to happiness, no?

This is why beautiful people are inherently happier

and children

no

The people who haven’t been taught to feel uncomfortable as who they are
Or who are young enough not to know
Or who are pretty enough not to care

They carry themselves with ease and happiness
Some of you have never been ashamed of your bodies
Your smiles
Your body hair
Your crooked teeth
Your shiny forehead
Your crackling knees
The happy trail, a misnomer
Your scars upon lip, knee, ankle, and wrist

And it shows

Good bones

I am like a building they say has good bones.
Rough around the surface, needs a new paints job.

But the bones are good, they say.

It’s classic.
The shape.

You could really make something out of it, if you just put some time into it.

Maybe tore down this, maybe remodeled that.

But it’s got good bones.

Might as well be historic.

Life Update, Part Two

It’s been nearly six months since I’ve updated this blog.

I’ve written in the meantime, don’t get me wrong.

But somehow, after what’s happened, it feels cheap. Or false. Or foolish. To write again in this space.

Let me rewind a bit.

The last life update was happy and full of love and looking forward to a new life between me and my partner. Well, we broke up. And that’s how life happens sometimes. But it doesn’t make it any less of a gut punch when you keep opening your browser, keep trying to write again, and keep failing… because of that larger-than-life picture of when you were happy.

 

Since the last time we spoke, I’ve had a birthday (29 now), gone on some adventures, made some new friends and lost others. Read some good books, tried some new recipes, and in all of it, tried to find myself. It still hasn’t happened yet, but I’m going to keep trying.

Every day.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of me, mostly obscured. 49677B5F-2232-44D8-A76A-C073D7D917AB

Life update

8ABAC69D-6FF8-42BA-AC64-9D99B94E8438.jpeg

Hey here’s a giant and adorable picture of me (on the right) and my beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, and kind girlfriend, Steph.

Almost two weeks ago, we were at the Philadelphia airport, crying our eyes out and kissing in public, to say goodbye once again for an indeterminate amount of time. Reader, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship, but this part of it BLOWS. It’s the worst.

Good news — we’re super happy and in love and making plans for Steph to move to the U.S. of A. so that we can not be so sad and apart!

Slightly less good news — it’s gonna take a super long time.

Better news — we’re going to document the process in the joint blog we have, because I have searched high and low step-by-step guides and how-tos and maybe I’m just bad at Googling, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for… so make the content you want to see in the world, right? Anyway you can check our blog here: https://travellinggreengirlfriends.wordpress.com

We don’t have that many posts at the moment, but we’re working on it. For now, enjoy the adorable pic of us on this post.

Until next time.

— H