Inevitable

You left today, drove off,
and so I ride around on my bike
looking for the rabbits and squirrels
that we saw yesterday, but there is no one
nothing for some time.

Florida tests your imagination
of apocalyptic futures like that,
it’s the emptiness, the perfect
blue sky shown at the start
of horror films, and the endless,
newly paved streets that hit dead ends
no matter how hard you try to get out.

My wheel hits the breaks in the road,
mimicking the heartbeat of the moment,
the dull thuds that fill you
when something’s just left.

The ever-growing hunger stamps itself
in my belly. Still, nothing moves,
the wind blows hard.

Today the world wants me to peddle faster
a tempting fate of concrete and
scraped knees dazzles in the sun.
It’s doing me a favor,
the sweat distracting me
from the melting parts inside.
I’m the candle already lit, and you
are the lightbulb. I burn
and spread on surfaces, staining.
You stay lit until a fuse blows,
then you upgrade.

Advertisements

Tiger, tiger: My hallucinations as a child

I heard the tiger at the door at the age of five. It sounds early but that’s how it happened. I was small, smaller than I can ever understand, and my mother who now stands nearly a full head shorter looked down at me. I had a high fever and she gripped my hand hard as she watched the sweat drip off my face. Her eyes darted from my face to my bedroom and back again. I didn’t have to say a word. She knew that I saw them in my bedroom. I would not take a step forward. They were there.

When you’re young, you’re taught that seeing is believing and my eyes saw them. The first tiger padded its way around the end of my bed, turning around at the corner and walking out of view behind a wall. The second and third followed. Their eyes glowed red like the bits of coal that I saw in the barbecue when Dad grilled sausages or skewered meats on the weekends. Red to me meant the devil. I guess I had learned that at Sunday school but I wasn’t entirely sure if they meant any harm. They certainly were intimidating but I knew that they were majestic and beautiful creatures as well, especially in the way they moved, their shoulder blades flexing up and down, undulating with every step. About a year or so later, I would discover the full extent of my double-jointedness and re-enact the stalks of prey I saw on Discovery Channel documentaries. Cheetahs, lions, tigers, all with those pointy bones jutting out of their lean bodies built for the kill.

When I saw the tigers in my room, I was incredibly afraid that they would deviate from their path but they never did. They always went around the bed and away towards the wall. My fear made me want to bury my face into my mother’s thighs and grab her clothes for comfort, but I could never look away. My eyes stayed open and watched every movement. It was like when I watched a horror or action movie and my parents would tell me to cover my eyes near the climax of the story when death was imminent and I’d watch through a slit in my fingers not wanting to miss a thing. I was in awe of the possibility of what a human could do, or what an animal could do. I wanted to find out how unreal reality could be, how painful, how beautiful. That’s how I felt when I saw the stripes, the fur, the big paws, and the eyes. I didn’t want to miss a thing. I was captivated. Their hypnotic movements and their graceful power entranced me. It wasn’t until years later when I’d wonder, why were there three tigers? Why did they visit me? Did they mean me harm? And the most interesting question of all, where did they come from?

Now at the age of twenty five, I have come across a review of a recently published memoir in a magazine. The author uses the phrase, “hear the tiger at the door”, and she uses it to signify the moment when a child realizes that one day their childhood will end, that it’s already ending, that all’s not completely right with the world. After reading that phrase, my thoughts jolted back to the several occasions I saw the tigers. Suddenly I am my five-year-old self again clutching my mother’s hand and staring ahead at the red eyes. How strange it would be if ‘hearing the tiger at the door’ for me is literally when I saw tigers at my door. The connection is uncanny. I can’t help but think that when I saw them I realized there were mystery and grief in the world, pain and loss, and that this was only the beginning of my understanding.

Ever since, I have been weirdly fascinated by tigers and I can’t help but attribute this instinctive desire to stick posters of tigers on my walls, tiger magnets on the fridge and buy tiger themed calendars, to those several nights in which I saw the big cats walking on the carpet I played on, walked on and laid on as a child. Perhaps, the very fabric of my reality, the threads of understanding that weave their way in and out through the years started being sown then. The bud of consciousness that came with witnessing these grand events was planted then and the realization that my five-year-old self did not know everything. I guess that’s what we call wisdom.

Hey There, Are You Going With Your Flow?

Right now I’m resisting nature. I’m resisting my desires, my inclinations, and my dreams. And for what reason? And at what cost? Too much. The only valid reason I can see why someone would forgo their dreams temporarily is to earn money and save so that doing the dream is easier, but I’m living paycheck to paycheck for something I don’t want, so what am I doing it for? Experience? Experience for what? More of the same thing? I might as well live paycheck to paycheck for something that I love.

(What do you think?)

I think I’m finally understanding what life is all about. I think I know what I need to do.

Go with the flow.

Just go with it. Or better yet, be the flow. Or even better, go with your flow.

Ok, there’s a lot going on here. What I’m saying is take the opportunities that you see and watch where you go. Listen to your gut. That’s flow for me. But there’s not just one way to do things. Everyone’s flow is different. Go to the beat of your drum. Why pretend to be someone you’re not? I feel that when I stop flowing, I get grumpy sooner or later.  Out of sync. But if I listen to my beat and really feel out my thoughts, I am a lot happier.

Follow and be numb forever.

Breathe, I say to myself, look up at the sky. For me, this is flow. Concrete may surround me (since I’m in New York City) but the sky is always there, and a tree, a leaf, or a cup of soil is not too far away. This is why I walk to Union Square this Friday evening. To see the tall trees. The greenness. To smell the peppery French lavender at the stall in the market. To touch the snap peas on offer. To bite into an apple. All these things put a sense of peace inside of me that not many other things can do. I feel like grabbing soil, getting dirt under my fingers, and seeing roots weaving through the earth. I want to feel grass under my feet and hold onto a tree for support as I climb up, up a hill to a lookout where I can survey the land. Hmm, maybe I should go hiking. Or volunteer somewhere like this.

(Do you like hiking? Gardening?)

This feeling comes from a desire to be the animal that I am. Sweat, grunt and exert my body. That’s why I like the gym. I awaken and feel the burn in my muscles. After running, I am light and mindful. I also want to love and make love. One day, I’ll even reproduce. How cool is that? We are all animals.

I keep singing.

I want to feel and not stay passive or mute. Follow and be quiet forever. Eventually, you’ll be screaming inside. Nearly every morning before work as I take the elevator to the 7th floor I start to sing. Sometimes I shriek. I tell myself that I’m warming up my voice for human interaction but I know it’s more than that. I’m releasing something. I am bringing myself into my body and feeling my breath. I always think someone will catch me one day belting out a song when the doors open but it hasn’t happened yet. I keep singing.