31 July 2017

Cipher Lock on the Gates of Heaven and Hell


The wheels crank and turn in the riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that is my heart. Numbers scroll past the inside of my eyelids, grown weary of holding them open to witness the majesty and tragedy of the last fifteen years of life. Love, death, and heartbreak neatly condensed to digits as if that would provide some anesthesia or euphoria.

They do not. Not entirely in either direction of pleasure or pain. The numbers are signposts. Delineators of anniversaries never to be forgotten, some cherished, some dreaded.

Summer is the season of heat. The cipher transforms it into a hell broken only by the memories of love that somehow have survived amongst the ruins. Those memories, as water cupped in my hands brought to a trembling mouth that gulps to soothe the burning in my heart.

The wheels crank and turn. The code will be scrambled. With luck, the vault will stay shut long enough for healing to take hold. Healing perhaps will make the numbers add up to something.

24 July 2017

Et Tu, Amor? (Sensory Deprivation)

Long ago I read somewhere something like to be writer one has to deal in hard truths, discomfort, and things that make one cringe and squirm. Honesty of feeling is paramount in what goes on the page. Credibility is at stake. I know this. I have written about some things that made me squirm and cringe. I understand this need for honesty. Honesty has been on my mind overly much these days, a byproduct of emotional turmoil and loss. Here is a little hard truth I need to purge. I want love to bleed.

My cup may brim full of cynicism and bile, but love is an asshole. An asshole with inexhaustible resources to keep reminding my heart of that fact. Omnia vincit amor (“Love conquers all,”) wrote Virgil in his Eclogue X. I believed him, once upon a time, but in a very different fashion. That has changed. Love may conquer all as a creator, but this time it conquered me as a destroyer.

In my time of writing I have spilled much ink, digital and physical, in defense of love. How it can sustain you. How it ties one to others and allows growth, security, desire. Now I am seeing I have no faith anymore in my own hype. There is a limit to the numbers of heartbreaks I can take. It is most maddening that we have no way to hold love accountable for its transgressions.

Love lied to me. Not once, not twice, but three goddamn times in my adult life it flattered to deceive, pulled me down a path I believed led to a cure for loneliness and pain, a fountain of belonging. Love betrayed me. It smiled the entire time, every time, with every twist of the knife. So begins the stripping away of the senses that give juice to life.

Betrayal by love disturbs touch. Heat, cold, rough, smooth: all that is tactile carries with it at least a little irritation. Even the absence of sensation creates its own peculiar pain. The hands mourn the loss of a lover's hip, the mouth the lover's lips. There is perhaps nothing so generative of heartache than the void within one's grasp. To reach out in the night and feel nothing but space and sheets is agony realized to a degree bordering on obscenity.

Love as a pillager can ruin a good music library. All those great songs, and so many become unlistenable now. Listening is either a reminder of how good love was or how searing its absence. It is a small percentage of songs left that I can or want to hear without hitting skip. Raw emotion, anger, frustration working itself out in the screaming of lyrics that speak to all of those things festering in a heart exploding along the scars and fault lines. Most importantly, a verbal catharsis to help numb the lonely helplessness if only the sound did not hurt so much.

Do not think the palate escapes the collateral damage of losing love. Oh, no, taste suffers its own degradations. Brightness and sweet fade from the tongue. Savory turns to sour, ashes in the back of the throat. If taste remains it is bitter metallic. To sometimes eat alone by benign circumstance is a fact of existence, easily endured. To eat alone because of banishment from the table of the heart is an exercise in catered despair. Forget about cooking for joy. Stirring the pot with a broken heart is mere pragmatic numbness. The soul may be in limbo, but the belly has its own agenda. When they quarrel, hunger often wins at the cost of inner peace.

With love's loss, the eyes offend us but common sense lobbies hard to not pluck them out. Much business of life still depends on seeing in spite of the searing reminders of what we once had. Who knew that a photograph could pass as a branding iron? What terrible hooks in the heart are pulled at passing glances of social media feeds and photographs! They lie in ambush, these frozen memories of a life once well lived. Turn the page, scroll down left or right, none of it matters. Our eyes collide with the now fractured landmarks of a shared history that was more good than bad.

The heart swears that it recalls the scent of love yet it is the nose that does the work. The gentle aromas of existence, sunlight on a lover's skin combined with rumpled cotton and sweat. Pheromones aloft in the kitchen sensed over the aroma of dinner, teased out with a nuzzle to the neck. Exhalations and inhalations of a nightcap's departure in that time-stopping moment before the consummation of a goodnight kiss. Even the humble nose deals with loss when hearts disassociate.

Someone once told me that love is never the wrong answer. For years, I subscribed to that theology. I was a True Believer. It felt good, it felt right. But I woke up one morning after a few weeks alone again and decided my name was Thomas. The stigmata haven't changed my mind. Maybe because the stigmata are in my palms and I know the source of the pain.

You may think I wish to banish love from my life. No, I want to interrogate it. I want to cuff it to the table in the Box, break it down masterfully like Detective Frank Pembleton did to those perps on Homicide: Life on the Street. I want love to sob into its fist and tell me what horrid excuse it has for killing my heart. Of course, love is not guilty of murder, because I'm still alive. Fraud is another matter, and love is guilty as fuck.