the conjuring bells

Something is coming for me from the inside. It began one day when I was walking home alone through an autumn forest on a cloudy afternoon. Out of nowhere I heard the melodic ringing of bells. I sat down against a tree and listened. A strange high started coming over me, and I soon realized that the sound was coming from within. That first time I welcomed it, and allowed the ringing (and the high) to build — its song filled my head and all my thoughts vanished. It felt as though my skull melted and then murmured voices began to speak — but they were too hushed for me to make out any meaning from their words (nor to know if they were speaking English). I had a sense that questions were being asked, fairly banal questions.

The ringing bells starting coming for me multiple times a day, and every time I ran away to be alone and steady myself. The high lifts me out of time and space, and I am swept up into a pulsating and rhythmic tornado while still sensing my feet firmly planted on the ground. Every time feels as if I am being turned inside out — my inner life exposed for all to see, but with no one there to bear witness.

I lived in a roofless house in the middle of a forest. Helen would visited me there, and I would often find her sleeping soundly on my bed. One particularly disorienting afternoon, I was handed a typed letter by a tall, gaunt, faceless man. It was from my brother Bobby. It read:

                I’m dying.    I’m dyinG. 
  I’m dying.    I’m dYing.                     I’m dyiNg.
       Everything is made of Green.
   There is a GUN ship in Hanoi.
…it was used by ghosts to shoot down US Bombers.
                        I’m not ready to see you.            But soon. 

The paper was a work of art. It was stained in colors I had never seen before, and the ink from the typewriter seemed to endless drip off of the paper but leave no marks. I wanted him to know how beautiful it was — but I knew he wouldn’t believe me.

I raced home with the letter when the ringing came for me again. I grabbed a tree and rode the high out. I was tired of this unexpected visitor (or visitors), and I hoped Helen was at my house so I could hug her. I went in and, thankfully, she was there and held me as I wept frustrated tears. Whalen was sitting at my desk. He mentioned the ghosts — he said he spent 8 hours one day teaching them the alphabet.

In Helen’s arms the ringing came for me again. I ran out of the house into the dense forest — the melody became more insistent and began drowning out my vision. I started sliding between two separate worlds…. My eyes would open and I would be in my bedroom (in Hanoi) in a trance, motionless, staring at the ceiling . . . then my eyes would close and I would be back in the forest, stoned, the bells ringing louder and louder. This happened about three times, and on the last time I willed myself to stay in my bedroom — in this world, from where I type this entry. ♨

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the box girl

They kept her tucked into a box for many years — actually it was more like a drawer. I walked by this gray steel drawer many times; it was in a school, high up, a good reach above my head. One day I heard wrestling around, the scrapping of metal — that’s when I first discovered her. She had forgotten how to speak. A few days later, I freed her in secret. Though the drawer was small, she unfolded herself into a fully grown woman. She was unsurprisingly daunt and covered in sores. Her fingers long, brittle, and unbending; her eyes hungry, narrow, and still.

I was teaching a class on mythology at the time and soon came across an ancient myth about a boxed girl and her detainers. As I was teaching about the myth a few of the people in attendance began to get up and leave the room. They were obviously uncomfortable with the subject. I knew I was striking a nerve, so I kept going. A homely woman with curly brown hair turned angry, she knew of the girl in the box drawer and knew that she had recently gone missing. Now she was blaming me for releasing her. I took her blame with satisfaction, hastily ended the lesson, and cursed her in front of the others. They all began to accuse her of evil. Not soon after the taunting began, her conscious broke and she began grieving in shame — explaining that she, and others, loved the girl . . . that they wanted her forever, and that now they would all be lost without her and their lives would hold no meaning.
We gave her no sympathy. We watched her cry. We tucked her into that small steel box. We walked away.

Years later our hearts began to heal and grow . . . for we truly love that box girl . . . and will never let her go.  ♨

under a veil of darkness

She’s nude, lying under a translucent veil. Her eyes are a hazy milky white . . . swirling. She questions me. Beckons me. Tempts me to follow her strange sting of nonsensical language. Without English words she explains what is wrong. She exposes each and every one of my crimes . . . the crime of breath . . . the crime of hunger . . . the crime of thought . . . the crime of motion.

Her breasts form a raised comforting shape, and her nipples, two dark patches beneath the fabric. She smiles, and instructs me to unhinge my soul — to make it spill out through my boney fingers . . . to never let it back into my body once it is free.

Her milky eyes swirling faster. . . .  Blood is dripping off the moon. A fork lodged in my tongue.

I understand: “Write — with reckless abandon — write. But for the love of words — shatter your pen.”  ♨

a glowing face

I’m in a room, fairly large, square in shape, very high ceilings, no visible entrance or exit. I am among a group of people, dressed in black robes, whispering, pacing, whispering. The shape of a human form, small, sits indian style on a raised platform at what seems to be the front of the doorless room. Bundled in a white robe. His head is lowered. Hair white and frizzy. Above him is a spherical, pulsating blackness, subtle on the eyes.

I wait. I don’t know what I’m doing here.

His head moves up. I’m standing to his left. He looks straight ahead, yet into me and through me. His face is other worldly, eyes beaming an blue-green alien light. His features — indescribable with language — not ugly, not beautiful. Beyond words. I know that he knows.

I am shaking. I am emptied out. My sleep is taken from me.

I am awake.  ♨

Elbe unfinished

Dreams are barely linear. How can I describe how we talked of Elbe, its desolate carved mountainous contours with only a train station running through. Even then I was walking in a plot of weedy land, seeing it for its potential, thinking of composting inside the abandoned race car seat hulk.  Big skunk cabbage leaves everywhere. I wandered in this solitude; sheered off by entering the house to hear her crying for me. She crawled and hung by her fingers from the red tool-chest with stickers.  Then she was the size of a fist and cradled in a small hammock. The baby in fever beside me; in the dream I turned off the hot spray of air and a cold shower dripped onto her wet face. I lay there in a naked embrace with the trio of our generation, for her father had joined us.   The lights came on as the bikers returned. Carl, Lars, and a third black-clothed carabiner-wearing crew member were in the room. Lars was finally ready to talk.

He took me somewhere and said.

“Someone suggested I write this down, so I did.”

He had a black and white composition notebook from which he read, “When I got there he was covered in blood and was flushing the face down the toilet.”

I stopped him there. “Was there a body?”

Lars sort of froze, expecting the words to speak for themselves, without question.

I wonder now, did I get off the train in Elbe once, and walk the brown soil, brown facade of a town, emptied of its old mining families; like a dusty set of “Bride comes to Yellow Sky.”  All I can picture is a combination of images accrued from reading about burnt firestorm scenery North of Berkley, and from the hills of Seattle seen from a plane.  And why would Lars hide something so awful?  I did not sit and listen to what he had written unfortunately, and since I was dreaming, I will never know the content of that book, nor what face was flushed away.

&~~

skinless legs

I am living in an old house with my friend Michelle. The place is a disaster. The only places that have any cohesion are our individual bedrooms. The house is windowless, and creepy art is everywhere. My brother and a mutual friend are coming.  I am waiting for them, nervously for some reason. When they finally arrive I give them drinks and go upstairs in search of Michelle. She is working on a project in the corner with multiple sets of bird wings. In her room I also have a collection of human legs. They line one of the walls. They are my legs, and I can still sense and move them. I have a habit of skinning them with what resembles a large fruit peeler. I do this a lot — and though the inner sensation is not comfortable, the visual and textural experience is exquisite. Michelle thinks my habit is gross. I also carve fine lines into them. On the lower calf of the legs I have made a series of six uniform horizontal lines about one inch in depth. I am skinning the thighs now, preparing them for individual carvings.   ♨