The phrase, from The Merchant of Venice, is "a pound of flesh," but She has never read Shakespeare. Revelations is Her book of choice.
She carves an ounce at a time.
The first time, I was able to curl my fingertips under my bottom-most ribs. Another wa(more)rm, taut, secret space on my body. I've found so many with Her help.
The next time, every curve of my body shrunk and withered down to rough, rain-washed bone. In the winter, they buried me. Damp and chill seeped through the frigid earth, through my lank, ragged graveclothes, and mold bloomed inside my ribcage. When they exhumed me in the spring, I traded my mildewed heart for a coat.
This time, I can't tell from the mirror what She has taken.
No manicured-claw marks rending my belly. If I'm standing, She hasn't crushed my vertebra in Her teeth like a candy necklace. My bones are invisible under smooth flesh.
I stretch carefully in front of the mirror, my reflection meeting my gaze for the first time. I turn and the reflection turns too. We look over our shoulders at each other, waiting for Her to appear, reach down our throats, and pull our intestines like taffy.
She doesn't appear. A clock that doesn't exist in my room ticks anxiously in the mirror-reversal room.
A folded letter slides under the front door.
It looks like parchment, but feels like silk. A delicate, dark strand is looped through a needle hole to hold it closed.
It's from Her, written in the language of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She must be feeling formal.
I've gone on holiday. I was Hungry.
Your friend is delicious.
Eat. Wait for me. I will be back.
If I had an ounce of confidence I still wouldn't go.
We're having coffee, right? Just coffee,
yet the weight of my expectation could fill this room.
I am a heart melt big mac for this,
(more) a wind-up doll eagerly marching towards this.
I want this. You gotta want this, my baseball coach
used to say. I want this.
And there you'll be at the cafe wanting this too
and together we'll explode
like the mystery bomb I saw in a play
last night. Just fucking implode with
how much we want this.
Avatars would be helpful here.
One for each of us.
We could watch in sleeping bags
each from a tent
from a safe distance
as they whole thing jelled
or went up in smoke,
the awkward silences growing cranelike
in their awkwardness until
fake rustling of "things to do,"
oh I have to do
do some essential nothing
In our tents,
we would weep copiously in private
having dreamed the dream once again
and have it profoundly shatter
and the heart keepers would come and
minister unto us and offer us wine
and Kalamata olives with Feta chese,
strawberries dipped in chocolate,
and other fancy treats,
none of which we would be able to eat.
Notice, how I assume the worst,
how I assume no cause for celebration,
no walking off to another cafe at least,
much less the sunset.
no rain of connection,
no this could be the beginning
no, not, ever.
Shield in place,
I put on my cute clothes now,
having slain hope and skinned it.
Dogs and love and friends and the folks and all that cracked nail polish and laughing and the radio and spanish lessons and bread and lust and angry drivers and better writers and frowning dates and the internet connection and wet laundry and the tv antenna and the forsaken(more) typewriter and Lisa's new puppy and all that hummus and both bald spots and the stuff we can't say and three bottles of hot sauce and the crush on Paget Brewster and all the firewood to split and the shoe box of pictures and the boots in the corner that the box was for and the lovers doing it wrong and the band playing it wrong and the writer reading it wrong and the dancers who don't give a shit about what they look like;
I have to go where I'm going alone. Not figuratively.
In class She said, "To succeed the way we understand it now, you will have to give up more than you ever understood before. To write you will need time and that means sacrificing other parts of your life. That could mean friends, family, holidays. You might need to live a more meager existence than you did before. How little money can you live on? Do you need to live in the same space? How much time and energy is your job depleting from you?"
Bennie shifted in his seat nervously. He was sitting right next to me and whispered in my ear, "Give up time with my friends...are you kidding? I could never do it!"
She is no Shylock. She doesn't demand it, just asks the question of me and my answer has always been yes. I will gladly give my pound of flesh for an ounce of what she offers.
"I've only got so much left, you know."
"Come on, man, I told you I'd pay."
"Yeah, yeah, all right. Let me get it. And listen, be careful with this stuff, okay?"
"Why? It's not dangerous, not addictive, not-"
"That's what they all fucking say. I don't want another(more) one of you fucking junkies coming back here wanting something I can't supply."
"I'm not a junkie, man."
"Yeah. Right. Just be careful."
"You got it yet?"
"Keep your fucking pants on, it's back here somewhere...ah, there it is. My last ounce. Got the money?"
"There you go, then. Now get out of here. Can't believe I sold you my last damn ounce of love. Get out!"(less)
i have not seen a sun in three weeks
because there is murk in my eyes and my breath has turned to pound upon pound of grain
the kind you can't toss around
my hands shake and skitter and that isn't even the extent of my nerve(more)s
my hands, my fingers atrophy and release in seconds and they try to scrabblegrasp at anything
times like these, anything will work
to get my head above the waterline and suck in the crocus-scented horizon
and tast the sun that i haven't seen in three weeks
and taste the tendrils and the explosions it ignites for fun since suns can do things for fun
and it tastes like cherry poprocks and kerosene
while my ocean is a blank amber-eyed taste
and my whiteretina spider fingers twitch in the breeze
but they can't pull me up(less)
How much is an ounce? More than a milliliter, for sure. But not very much, really. Unless it's something like perfume, I suppose. Or cocaine?
Or prevention. In which case it's worth more than a pound of... shit, how does that expression go? An ounce of prevention is(more) worth a pound of cure. Benjamin Franklin, of course. God love the internets.