Volume II

by dschapman

There were dreams, and I interpreted dreams. I took little for granted, uncomfortably numb, the edges swept up by emotions, the sadness like walls that fell down all around me, the bread and the grapes as they fed us, unhappy, the paint as it came off the walls into specks on the floor… I hardly remember what things were like, then, when things were good, when they were so good I could not even notice, so sweet I could not taste the flavor. Blank open-ended movement, sparse open eyes without lashes, the way I was handsome, the way I demanded blood, demanded beauty and ego. I put art in the world and I took art from the world. Pauses crept into my symphony. Silence seeped up from the earth. I listened to the songs as I played them, and knew I could play them, knew that one day I’d play for them and they’d cry with me, because it was music to cry to. I felt like crying, what’s worse, not like crying, like drifting or sifting or fading, from doors freshly locked into attics unclean and unopened. Suddenly I could read again. Suddenly I could listen to music. I fell against the wall in my kitchen, away just for once from the mirror, into a wall where I stared at the wall, into recesses held deep in my heart. Then, those days, when everything mattered, or nothing even mattered, when I was awake from my dream for the moment, or back in a dream for a moment, with friends that I knew and a life still so innocent, hands in my hands and my neighbors still watching me, watching over me, the angels still steep in their ceilings. I did not even cry then, I was never even heartbroken. I still cannot cry, though now I’m heartbroken. I slip into dreams that I dread to come up from, dread going into, in cities I’ve long since abandoned, with lovers I’ve long ran away from. I was deathless, yet. Deathless, in a world of death. And then death, it came upon me, and it set with me, and it led me to morass. But I’m not scared of death. This isn’t for death. I still have my mother, my father, my life. I still have the world and it grows up around me, grass that it comes up to greet me. And though there is sadness, I meet it discreetly. It is strong, somehow powerful, somehow something I’d lost from my life, now returned to me. Like childhood, like unbearable nights spent in great mystic sadness, like the nostalgic hum of waves under powerlines, hayfields and horses and full-blooded babies. I was healthy, then; I smiled. Strong, ever stronger, ever more intolerable, ever more aware, intrinsic with terror, at ease with old terror. Things were so good, once; then things began slipping. I was never able to hold on to it. I was aware of it, I awaited it, I tied my knots tight and held on for dear life while all time fell away from me, but it was no good, it left me, and then it was like I’d never even had it, like worlds folded up and cast free from the world. Days when it rained and days slept away, so drowsy. Nights like new tremors arising inside me, new easy pieces, new philosophies, new art on the walls freshly spun from the ether… five easy pieces, I played by myself all alone on pianos, pianos I polished and saved from distress, pieces I learned on my own in due sadness. Eras came and went. I stayed put, in my footing, and died for it. Things went too perfect, a world too serene. It makes me want to cry, could I cry for it.

In Edinburgh I will sleep tonight, and the streets will be haunted and I’ll hide in strange places, loving strange women afraid of it all, sliding weird ways over worlds wet and dripping. I will glide through potentials both real and unrealized, cities I slept through and people I slighted. I was never kind enough – I was never as good as I hoped to be, never as mean as I seemed – I made nothing good of it, I came nowhere gracefully, I cradled no baby to sleep who deserved it. I knew how big a thing it was, how important it was to observe it, but somehow I saw not a thing, I said nothing right and I sped speeding by. Goodbye, I might have said at least. I loved you, it was wonderful; I could have said, why didn’t I? Swept up in new tidings. New shapes in the distance, the mist taking shape then dissolving anew, the dreams creaming up onto paper, synapses flashing. Yes, this is me; I’m emotional. I said to the street, I am sad again. I came into night, this time all alone, this moment I needed a good friend beside me. There was nowhere to go; if I stay here, I will die here, no matter how much I deride it. Cut me open, see me writhe; see me fall to pieces. It is there, in the pieces, I’m safe from my self; it is there in the pieces you’ll love me. My friends fell in love with new people… and though I know loveless I can’t even face them, I break down into tandem around them… I never even said goodbye, I never even kissed them… my friend then he came once, I could’ve held on to him, I turned him away and I kept him at bay… I kept the grass cut, pockets empty… whimpering bed of roses… shining blade of glass…

I have never been alone before… I am old and lonely now.