// the trouble with heaven //

flowers-heaven

I’m too much of a dreamer, so the story goes, but the truth is that what they call reality often turns my stomach in ways that are hard to describe. People want straight lines and I want the way pink stained glass bends images into cigarette smoke curling foreign tongues down your throat. As everyone else joins hands and I fall farther and farther away from the circle, I tuck myself inside a faith in the broken shards, the holes in the floors, all the crooked sides of my comical cosmic existence, and attempt to pour forth a drench of words that flood the earth until we all worship at the single altar of mad love instead of sadistic runaway greed.

What is the harm? What is this fear no one can seem to define, yet lives within all of us roaming freely, assembling crucifixions like clues on a board game. Is it blindness or hope that gathers us together, vulgarizes us, vilifies us, heals us, gently carries us toward a distant red sun that delivers us to the promised land of how brief we are, how inconvenient, how troubled, how beautiful.

Will they release or neglect me, these graphic phantom fantasies I press my head against in the quiet of night? Perhaps too many times already, the vacant songs of the things I’ve loved and lost could have remained my veins, my daily ritual black, but somehow I’m the dream coming true in spite of itself. Magic is a fragile flower welcoming the sweet assault of the rain. My obedience arouses you, something in your disarming movement touches me with invisible hands, holds my fickle attention. I want only for you to descend with me and escape, love is the danger of infinite folds, a sapphire ribbon of milk skin; resurrection is your hunger for my sacrificial bones.

Bodies on the pavement, serpents in the sky, and I am undone by the slightest trigger in your eyes. Grace is stillness swallowing hurricanes as an exotic universe creates and destroys itself just to please you. Your teeth against my pulsing wrist startles a flock tiny ancient birds: thin flutters thrusting violent wings in my chest, a dead world ecstatically disturbed. Your mouth on my breast is baptism, the way you collect me breaks us down by fire, fingertips for flames, the gravity between us absorbs the cries of a helpless world, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Sometimes, angel, pain is freedom and the prophets reach for heaven in reverse.

You tip my chin up to the sky, bend me just too far before letting go, I am aware my limits are merely physical. A matchstick glides backwards across the splintered catches in my mind. And as the clouds eclipse the windowless room we inhabit underground, deep beneath the time the gods play roulette with and wider than the desperate gaps between our staggered breathing, our union may be distorted but it is certain. Let the hoards of humanity speak, lifetimes of faces become one face and I’ve lost my lust for listening.

Lovers on the edge have the unfortunate habit of spilling dark secrets when their backs are naked against the wall, but I hold on to mine: silence is my only vision, a castle built upon the rugged journey of your voice as it calls me home, even after all this wasted time.

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// private lives //

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We are restless and unborn. We have been wounded by over exposure, the futile beg for love denied, maybe that’s why I clench my teeth so terribly at night that in dreams they split my gums and fall out in clumps. Such brutality, such crush, we are scattered little bugs, terrified of ugliness, we want to be beautiful and strange, want to be stroked to the dripping heat of heavy crippling pleasure and left to walk the streets alone. Daylight is the flash of a screen but I escape to the dark matter of my own haunted castle mind, my crumpled writer’s room, my wrought iron winter garden, listening in stillness for the linen voice of the ghost you hung to dry on the line. Where I can stand the thrust of the words, where limbs like curtains reach for me on the wind.

My messages caress you like candlelit passageways that open onto the tops of trees and spill my lucid thoughts out over a vacant listless sky, every star a headstone carved with the crude tools of their abbreviated lives. They call me crazy but I call it hopeful, for I believe you loved my bones before we met. Someplace inside you is where I come from and where I long to return, smooth and familiar is the way you taste like liquid metal knives and the crystal jewels of molten sex, a golden chalice erects in the healing hands of God. Love is religion like pavement glitter and nuclear dust clouds, a way to glorify the beginning of a thousand setting suns.

As I’m turning down the bed, your motionless face is rain sliding down the window of this house you occupy inside me. I wish you could trade my awful secrets for something better than I deserve, but lover, I will drink from you until the moons have turned themselves to snakes orbiting the delicate feet of angels if you would only look at me. Let them wonder about us, let them spin their every seductive bedtime story from the one we’re killing ourselves to write with our surrender. All that matters is this moment, everything else is fair disease. You and I are a single tragic blink, every second is eternity, every breath between us a fragile ritual. We have birthed each other, been raised from death into life after death.

We are fading and obedient bodies, thick volumes of handwritten history buried under lock and key, plunged in glossy wooden tombs to the bottom of the ocean. Instinctively, you know when I am wet and you dangle me there on the edge of my own pearlescent cliff, my mysterious gift, until the way I crave you becomes the quiet shatter of truth at the apex of desire. I can read the casual insanity behind your devotion as if through scars and blindness the code of your flesh will finally make sense of mine. Come and bow your head into my private madness, beloved, I am the tranquil depths you seek. Make me dangerous while everyone else is watching. We are as wild as we are high, painted figures in glass boxes wearing our scratches like diamonds, feathers, swords and star dust falling from our newborn eyes.

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// lady in waiting //

weeds

I sit down to write but the only thing that comes to me is everything I’d rather not say. Writing is just like anything else, the hardest part is finding a way in. Shadowy advances, wet wide eyes, shattered hearts, lovers stalking alley ways, all come in jars they hope you can’t see, but writing is tougher to open even on a good day. A drink and a half later, I’m undressing in the doorway, watching you as you absorb the fading evening light that drapes itself around my body. I wish you thought of me as a temple, intricate tunnels adorned in golden dragons with emerald eyes, ferocious winged mystical things, but delusions like these are just a way of shadowboxing with the truth. Even in this heady haze I know what we want to be and what we are is split by glass of a thick and distorted kind. You ask me to spread myself over you and my skin is hot pricks head to toe, the way you barely touch me makes the beginning taste like spiced flecks of the afterglow, just the way I like it.

Under your command I am a dove, an alien, a robbery, a beast because I have learned to stay awake even in my sleep. Once you become aware of the ground beneath you in dreams, the rest is simply sleight of hand. We try to shift ourselves wide enough to take more than we ever thought possible but it’s hard when you’re certain there’s a message tucked behind the eyelids of everything, and you’d swear on your headstone that the rain smells of swollen lips and secrets you thought were buried inside someone else. Seven minutes in heaven, spin the bottle, the time you skinned your knees on ice, slammed back to life by the sting. Your first kiss stabs me in the back, spills blood across the time before all the times you can’t stop sifting through now.

Be patient with me, angel, even in expert hands like yours this doesn’t get any easier. Winter seems to follow winter, all the seasons of dying and frost take place at once like a crystalline nest of frozen trees that crush your tender throat. Time is a gift and a thief and a scream and I promise to collapse the minute you leave. You wrap my hair in braids tight around your strongest arm, the pain is just enough to catch my breath on a single hook. This bizarre strain of release, a decadent thorn. There will be rug burns and bathtubs but my mind is walking on the street counting black birds on a wire over the railroads tracks I was framing for photos; five, six, seven of them in a crooked row and one far off, alone. This doesn’t mean anything, of course, except that I am not in the world the way I’m supposed to be; I’m in the one I resurrected from cut-out dolls, cardboard panoramic scenes, living in the cream-colored curl of imaginary pages.

Pain comes to me daily but I trust it, I let it lead if it wants to, it teaches me not to hide as much. The way you slide into me is a forked tongue, one side torture, the other ecstasy; I have to take them both or deprivation. As night takes over the moon, the salt in my veins sparks and flashes all around us like colors from the dark side of rainbows. You need not cry for this strange love, I like to watch the pieces of me fall, it’s the only way they catch the light. I’m stronger now. And even though generations of misguided wars rupture themselves through me before you can even say my name, it’s beautiful madness to hear you try.

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// iron boxes //

wallflowers

You reach for me but I am a void, I am a hellish collision of dying worlds inside. These cruel words hang me on the wall and leave me there, exposed, afraid, unraveling, alone.  And I’ve been writing, baby love, writing, writing, awful, awful, terrible writing, it ought to be a crime these unforgivable lines slashed in defiance against borrowed time, wretched incoherent manic overflow like bleeding an animal of poison, I’ve written one hundred journals in a mouthful of days, page after page, one more useless than the one before, stacking them, digging them, dragging them through the mud and the rage with me. Please don’t touch me anywhere, I am fever. My eyes finally adjusted to the darkness of this strange religion, where wings are clipped and spread at will.

Still as a cradle robbed of death, but for the smooth motion of the weapon in my hand, and the raking in my brain, and the slamming in my chest to the beat of city after city dropping to their weakened knees, I’ve kept on like the possessed searching for something. Moon rise, moon set, I have not aged since birth and I have never been so sure I’ve died too many times, I am only a pale reflection of myself, the blue fade of a forgotten lust for beautiful sins. The days have been rusted white cages, feathered ink, lace candy legs, something is dark and tethered inside me, darting its many faces in and out of the brush. Something nameless in me that I can’t seem to clutch, needs a love beyond anything the world can produce; a flower opens itself to an empty room.

And I am trying and I am failing, and this thing, this need that swallows itself into me – it is still waiting. All the world is wasted panting breath and me on the wall, and these words like ears on such abysmal pages, we are all waiting.

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// black sparrow //

landscape

We are all midnight animals groping for a beautiful starlit chaos we can never grasp. Searching through lifetimes, little galaxies born and reborn within our tangled mouths, fingers, bodies, words, smiles, lies. In dreams we speak the anatomy of hearts roaming like wild herds of instinctual beasts across an African plain as the mist rolls in. We smell the coming darkness in the air and move forward in collective silence, listening for the shifting of the earth.

Music plays in gentle cascades of silken sound as I kneel before you on the lawn in the rain, ready, willing, hungry for the darkening storm of you. You get me so close I can taste the salt waves of a thousand oceans crashing underneath my skin, again, again, again. The way you search me like the beak of a gull prying shells to expose his prey reminds me that since childhood we have wanted to be free of the injuries of who they told us we would turn into if we turned the corner, swam away, sunk within. The flesh is soft inside, and sweet, and the more we seduce the more we unleash. You bring to radiant life my bare desire and my eternal struggle.

But after the lullabies, after the bruises, after the climax, after the desecration, after the warmth and vacancy of centuries of setting suns across a desolate planet with a name long forgotten, in our calculated madness we still crave the kind of love that is not a lush pink tongue, not a milky white pearl, not a nimble body, not a portrait, not a poem. What we want to find scrawled across the pages of the secret ancient diaries of the gods, hidden underneath broken stacks of golden beds on fire, is the secret to spreading ourselves inside a love that is unrelenting in its heat. Be slit up the core by the clutch of a thing more peculiar than death; a thing that will not let us go, a thing that cannot be held or captured or touched.

Love is not a person, people were made to let go and let go of. These human faces are masks, the haunted hunt for deliverance in painted disguise. Clever but untrue. Don’t be so easily fooled, so easily amused, so easily distracted, love, it’s unbecoming. Love is not the phantom; it’s what is beautiful about the phantom. What you really want to taste I cannot give to you, for what you truly worship is that she’s left you and she’s coming back for you and she’s trembling before you now all in the same glistening moment; not for long but forever. Love is staring back at the ghosts behind you in the mirror, speaking in wordless angelic verse. Love is your shadow dancing on these walls, and you don’t live here anymore.

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// evidence of bodies //

tree

I don’t want your body, I want your secrets. I know the games you play and why you play them but you’re so lovely it makes my mind bleed. Even the dreams in me have dreams and yet I can’t manage to extract a single one. Of course, no one ever said love makes sense. I pour a glass of Merlot and my insides are a relentless penetrating bloom of thick red roses groping their thorny vines around the veins that push my blood toward a heart that knows no boundaries.

When the last sliver of daylight finally fades across the grass, I can feel the setting sun unbuttoning my inhibitions. The way you wait so patiently for me binds me with threaded ropes, framing erotic images that deepen my darkening mood. You want to touch me but I’m not where you thought I’d be; my mind is seductive but it’s always somewhere else.

Using only the memory of your hands, you wrap me in crimson ribbons of delicious heat. The swift movement of your body sets me free to water midnight gardens of savage desire in beautiful rings around the moon. I’m ugly in ways only you can make an aphrodisiac as the twisted things I long for hang suspended from the ceiling, purple faces tongue the agony of my ecstatic soul. Everyone seems to think they know how your life will end up if you’d just sit still and listen but most try very hard not to understand anything that could make a difference.

Sliding past everyone else’s better judgment, I light three rows of candles and drop into a darkness that is not sleep. It’s more like a strange way of awakening in order to hold hands with death and own him before he owns me. We all worry about being invisible; that’s why we hide. I devour volumes of ancient spiritual texts and Bukowski, they seem to break me apart and deliver me back to who I am in a package I almost recognize. Deciphering their codes is the plot of every gutting love story ever written. The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life grow like inverted mirror images, side by side. To be human is to have a grasp on neither.

I drip hot lavender oil into a steaming bath and sink in as I envision you with cake in your hands. I’m kneeling at your feet licking icing from a dozen silver spoons between your fingers; the sweet life is not always what it seems, but we do try. At the center of something more encompassing and brilliant than we can possibly fathom, everything is submerged. Right here. Everything is different and the same. Every safe choice should make us more and more afraid.

It’s warm underwater and even though I drown my head in thoughts of self-defeat to keep from slipping into the vacant sky where I might finally be free, I trust being alone more than I trust anything else. I don’t know if God is alone but I know this world is mass murder on painted screens that cover up the truth.

In my makeshift blackout room, spinning pins and needles on the windowsill of the universe, all I ever wanted was to make a spark that would catch the hills on fire.

It’s not hard to breathe in the dark, it’s just that you see so little of who you really are.

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~ Allison Marie Conway ~

My book of poetry, Vein, is now available on Amazon here.

Signed copies are available in my Etsy shop AllisonMariePoetry here.

All my deepest love and mad affection. x

// of thy flesh //

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aren’t we only here for so long, angel,
aren’t we only a lonely nighttime street
stacked high with patterned silhouettes
of celestial bodies wearing blindfold eyes
no words left to speak.
do you taste me like traces of fire blood on lips
pressed against the looking glass
strung up above intimate scenes.
aren’t we only a mouth full of whispers
panting on the feathered tips of forbidden things
while other people
scream.
aren’t we only the siren curves of an hourglass
sifting through phases of the moon
from the grave to the skies
i wear you like an echo of time
when the soft in the skin
that drove you mad
was mine.

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~ Allison Marie Conway ~

My book of poetry, Vein, is now available on Amazon here.

Signed copies are available in my Etsy shop AllisonMariePoetry here.

All my deepest love and mad affection. x