Five six sixteen

Guy on the street corner wearing an army helmet. He nods at traffic. When I arrived 3 hours ago, he was there. He’s still there as I am leaving. He has long grey hair and a grey beard and he reminds me of my father, had he lived long enough to grey completely. He doesn’t rave, he isn’t angry. He simply nods at every car that passes him. It’s a 3 lane street at rush hour. He makes eye contact if he can. He doesn’t with me because I look away. Everyone looks away. And I’m struck with the thought that he’s broken, just not in a way that conforms to the way everyone else is.

Before I know it, I’m crying. I don’t know if it’s the familiarity that does it or the fact that “the world breaks everyone” and if you feel too deeply, it leaves deeper wounds. I carry them and you carry them. We swallow our dreams. We postpone and we ache. We are told we can be anything and so we open our hearts wide. Our eyes brimming with possibility. Our minds whirling with the how and the when. And we wait. Not idly. We save and create, we work and we learn. We drag our bodies through time bent toward that absolution. Clarity. The moment when it’ll all have meaning. Make sense.

Slowly, we are told we aren’t the right shape, that our minds are warped, that we love differently, that we are crazy or damned or both. But we wake and we ignore the ache in our spine, we sleep little or not at all, we survive on stimulants. We scatter our hopes at the bottom of lakes, at the feet of the unworthy.

We mold ourselves into what we think will be good enough, we lock ourselves in kilns. 1,900 degrees and we start to melt and we blame ourselves. The daily take. Love and the little losses of breaking our bones to find homes in the hearts of those who’d discard us. The subtle thief of years. The little lines at the corners of our eyes beckon. Days and weeks and months and years. Decades blending together in an array of blue and black. Bruised, limping toward oblivion, smiling warily at strangers. Speaking softly so as not to disturb. Demure and full of apologies. Lies weave their own language and meaning.

Sometimes we recognize the atoms in other beings knowing the same star forged us. We have been a millennia together, screaming silently. We kill our kindness or it is murdered by treachery. Lost in a sea of could have been. Never was. always will be.

No one said one word to him.
Not one meaningful glance.
No one to say it’s alright
Life in its terrible beauty can save you.

No one made him feel the laughter within each shadow, the way the light plays with the corners of buildings, the million year old particle/waves that illuminate everything

No one to pour out like water the fine art that lives in each shattered remnant of who we are.

The rain menaces him rather than bless.

All of the pain all in one moment, all of it a finely honed blade at my neck.

Kill me now for looking away. It is one of my greater sins. I just couldn’t bear it. We are all just one crack away from nodding at apathetic traffic in the dark.

An Epitaph

Will the earth

With my bones

Swallowed

Find the marrow

Lacks?

Will the grey

Veined clay

Gather in the

Defects?

Will the stones

Laugh?

Carried in the water

In rivulets

With the weight of

Evaporated eons.

In red, roaring wastes,

Will the water wait?

Carving earth in

Mountain and canyon,

What will it make

Of the hollow things that

Once held this shape?

When scattered

Will I finally

Be lovely?

Will I finally be

Comely when

Rearranged?

A promise

Like feathers,

Like lead

Cradled in

The trembling

Of existence.

The ache

Burrowed

And silenced

In silt.

MJGS 3/2/22

Café Macabre II

I received my copies of Café Macabre II today and they’re gorgeous! This is an anthology of short horror stories and art by women, curated by author and editor Leah McNaughton Lederman. It includes my short story “The River” which is about the terror of death and the horror we face in life. Beautifully illustrated by Keyla Valerio.


If you’d like to purchase a copy, please visit the following links:

https://www.nihtgengapress.com/product/cafe-macabre-ii

https://leahmcnaughtonlederman.com

Arbor

Tree removal is a violent act, even when done by a skilled arborist. There’s something hardwired into me that knows we shouldn’t destroy something that provides for life on so many levels. When I was a child, I would cry and obsess over the sight. Imagining the tree in pain, and the animals being hewn down along with it.

I especially worried about the birds that’d made nests in the tree, imagining them cowering as the machines whirred, watching the blades get closer and closer. I couldn’t conceive of the fact that the noise and the movement and the vibrations triggered an innate avoidance of danger in them, and they flew away.

I listened to chainsaws every day and tried to survive them by being very quiet and sitting very still.

Relic

The stars are a fragile constant. Their permanence only an illusion. A trick performed by size and scale and time. Ghosts in the sky.

Our sun is in main sequence. Main sequence means our star is of average size and luminosity. A flickering candle, glimmering in a cathedral at midnight. It’ll take billions of years for it to decay to the point that, when swollen, it absorbs us.

Our minds aren’t made to contemplate time on that scale. Our lifespan, laughably short, stunts our comprehension of it. It becomes an abstract. Knowable but unknowable. Unreachable epochs looming in the deep. Shadows and cinder forever on the periphery.

Light takes one hundred thousand years to reach the surface of the sun from the core. The density inside of our “average” star slows the progress. From the surface it only takes eight minutes to reach us. Standing outside on a sunny day, you are the recipient of something ancient, your skin bathed in relics.

You are also created with them. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, carbon, hydrogen, billions of years in the making. The ruins of a long dead star with breath and pulse and synapse and neuron. A cataclysm that laughs.

Oh.

So, I’m reading about the potential end to theoretical particle physics. One quote struck me about the discovery of the Higgs Boson:

“According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Higgs Field should either have a value of zero which would not give particles mass, or it should have an extremely great value which is likely to give particles too much mass.

But this is where physicists are confused.

Instead of viewing a value of either extremely high or non-existent, experts have noticed that the Higgs field is just slightly on”, which is not as low or high as it should be.

Mr Cliff said: “It’s not zero, but it’s ten-thousand-trillion times weaker than it’s fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position.”

Oh.

The article went on to mention dark energy predictions and potentially proving the multiverse theory to account for such wide variations, other universes having either too much mass or none at all, never coalescing or collapsing under their own weight.

Oh.

How many times
Have you fucking felt
Like a light switch that
Got stuck just before the off position?

Just slightly on

Ten thousand trillion times weaker than your fully on value

And you still manage to hold it all together.

The long walk.

Time is considered the fourth dimension. A force of nature. It is also interwoven with the fabric of space, warped and wobbled by the gravity of heavy celestial objects.

Loss makes us acutely aware of the passage of time, the weight of it like water pouring over us and carrying us away.

The last time I saw my father is at a fixed point in spacetime. That moment hangs suspended, immovable, immutable, and a part of me with it. We have sped away from that point at 130 miles per second for 18 years.

We are now 73794240000 miles from the last I love you. The Milky Way flung from the singularity, inexplicably, irrevocably.

Loss leaves us separated not only by time but an unfathomable distance. My grief, our grief is the long walk back.

Third of June comes too soon.

There are eighteen
Between you and I,
Times around an
Unflinching sun.
In that time stung
With cat o’ nine tails,
I have been in love twice,
And three human beings
Brought through me.
Baby’s breath
from a funeral wreath
In a vase by the sink.
Baby teeth from
A boy who looks
Just like me.
In summer’s insistent
Crematory,
You would hate to
Spectate silently
While my worlds end.
And If your bones could weep,
If they could bleed
Or fight, or if you could
Throw yourself
Again into the fire,
You would,
To save me from
The Moirai.
Six thousand five
Hundred and seventy days
Since your heart
Gave out and
I’ve been
Pinned against
The indifferent earth,
Having forgotten
The gravity
In your voice
The last time you
Said you loved me.
Weak force
Fighting
Weak force.