John David Morris Meriwether
is not knowing.
Change is going.
Change is wanting invisible things and looking for them.
and looking for them!
When you don't find the things, that is change.
Change is going
You told me it was wrong.
The magnetic pull of my body towards the need.
The way I feel it, the longing, in my chest,
how I place my hands absently on my neck,
sultrily telling you what I'm feeling.
Perhaps it's a ripple of something that has been brewing
for many years. Something always there, underneath.
Heightened by loneliness and summer heat.
Maybe it comes from a lack of normal things,
things which usually accompany
Those things I didn't get.
Maybe it's someone's fault.
Maybe I should ask Freud, maybe he
could place his hand on my delicate cheek bone,
how it comes it a gentle hill.
He could stroke the freckled valley underneath my eyeball with his smoking pipe
and tell me pragmatically
the reasons for my feelings,
why I wanted a man to touch me without asking,
to make my face his baby in wrapped cloths.
You told me it was wrong,
like the smoking
done after the house had gone to bed at hushed hours
in the dirty garage.
like the tequila shot I did at the kitchen counter that summer
how it tasted like heat and pine needles,
how it tasted like the wooden chest in our home,
like the inside of it, the dark unvarnished interior
that could hold my tiny body if I had needed to hide
where my father kept his winter sweaters.
And how I sucked it down with the lime that I didn't bite hard enough,
my eyes were red and flooded.
It was wrong.
You would have seen me
and I would have been driving.
Driving down the road of the house,
the house where we all lived.
I was going there,
but as I approached with my champagne steel trap,
in a moment
I decided to keep driving.
I saw your car and with a flutter
my foot didn't graze the brake.
You would have seen me,
if you were looking out the window.
If you would have recognized my car.
Amidst the gathering of things,
the putting of books in boxes,
or clothes into bags,
between the hidden sips of beer in your bedroom,
and quick, terror-filled glances behind you,
did you see me? In those quick seconds when my car brushed past.
Did it matter?
You would have seen me keep driving,
past all the other small houses
and you would see me at the stop sign,
before a road clean of cars.
Reading the words of a woman of flames
gone up into the sky at her will
with greater forces inside her than in a planet
I feel quietly disturbed
sad that I cannot help her
make her happy somehow
but she was smarter than me to be sure
smarter than most.
She knew what she wanted,
I only wish that it had been happiness.
I read her words sitting on a rock by the lake,
the rusty green water licking the large white stones.
I take a long flat leaf and tie it inside itself,
once straight, now making it form an L.
I toss it with some vigor into the water
but it only goes inches in front of me,
oscillating in the shallow,
wanting to come back to it's creator.
I knew that she saw beauty in the world around her,
I wish ardently that I could know why it was not
What great awful power must have pushed against her.
That I am in the same world that once carried her unsettles me;
that a world may be damned and cruel by one's perception,
and not by another's.
I see a dragonfly with it's impossible wings
trying with all of its self
to go against the wind of an indifferent lake.
Into it she plunged
I sit but on the edge, looking.
"Do you like wasabi peas?"
She hands me a small sage-green orb.
"It's hot, spicy," she says, nodding encouragingly. "Have you ever had wasabi?"
It tastes like horseradish and is not at all spicy in comparison to the chile-spiced mango I've been snacking on. I nod and smile to her approvingly.
Before I know it, she's handing me a chocolate sandwich cookie and without saying a word, going back to the duty of putting away the groceries. It's delicious.
Jivy, upbeat soul music blasts from an iPhone speaker dock. The kitchen faucet is running. Cabinets, the dish washer, opening and closing like a delicate rhythm.
He was building a fire pit outside, thick white smoke billowing up into the sky. But it started to pour a soft summer rain, as it had two or three times already that day. The world beyond the kitchen is grey, wet, happy. The shabby porch is used to being drenched in rain, the mason jars filled with dead cigarettes and the disarrayed furniture.
With more than one person in the narrow stretch of kitchen, it's a crowed party. I watch on from my chair in the breakfast nook. She chops vegetables on the counter for cold gazpacho soup.
She, in a delicate red rose skirt. The men except for me in cargo shorts.
I'm drinking flat Dr. Pepper from a painted mug, instead of something hard like I might want. The sip of black beer he gave me tasted like soy sauce. It fizzled on the porch a bit.
"Oh, shit!" he said, putting his hand with the overflowing beer out the door while standing partly inside.
Asking the cook for permission, he sits down across from me and begins to sing a song on a guitar. A sad song, one that he's played before. Maybe the only one he knows.
I sit in my chair and watch it all go by. I take out a book from my bag to look like I want to read it. I'm really just sitting here, like a fly stuck tragically on the fly paper he hung in the kitchen two nights ago. Lying there all sprawled awkwardly, eyes open to what's around me.
He finishes the song. "Beautiful," she says, gathering papery remains of an onion and tossing them into a plastic bin. He strums another tune. His voice is untrained and not hard to listen to if not a tad syrupy and self-aware. A bit like the way he carries his wide personality.
He answers questions from across the room, interrupting the melody for a few seconds now and then. The two men are on separate wavelengths. But the singer didn't seem to mind being interrupted. They must have grown up with this dynamic, the men. It's a story they tell easily.
"Buongiorno!" she says, slicing a lemon.
"Hey, you have a nice accent. Arrivederci!" says the guitar-player.
"Arrivederci!" she responds, playing up the dialect with sweetness.
"Good deal." He says, striking up another tune. He puts on a different voice. Deeper, with more swing, like a caricature country-western singer. His voice fills the space.
Our mugs are gathered all together, mixed up in a menagerie of colors and shapes at the end of the kitchen counter. I brought several of mine from home and they mingle with the others unnoticeably. Multi-colored ones from Poland. Mine, purchased at various thrift stores. All of them stacked awkwardly and happy.
He asks me if I want to share a smoke on the wet porch. I say "Not right now. Maybe later, though."
sitting in a cliche orange prescription bottle
the tobacco-stuffed tip
peaking out half an inch from the top
scrawled in black ink:
gone for a week and a half in a rehab center
left that morning with wet hair from the shower
long black tights around her legs
and a huge hiking bag which consumed the back of her figure
as she was walking out the door.
i imagine she wrote these words in her mother tongue
after she rolled the cigarette herself
to her boyfriend
depressed, anxious, lost
then plunked it into the small bottle
which bore her name on its label
into the flourescently orange plastic,
symbolic of her dependency, of
the missing pieces
a flower in a vase:
and then she was ready to go
attracted because believe close
don't everything feel feels felt
his just kind know
last life like
love man me men
more my myself
need not now poems poetry read
scared see sexual something
stories thing think thought true
up very wanted
people get forgotten.
the worst part is
people sometimes forget themselves.
sometimes we need others
to stop us in our tracks
and look at us in the eyes and tell us
a man is standing on my sweater
the rubber sole of his boat shoes
just brushing the hem of knitted stripes
only moments before,
I lay in my bed
on the white sheets
posed for sleep
and the room was empty
save for the scattered bits of clothing
and shards of private moments
crumbs of food eaten in solitude
but now there is a figure in my doorway
he has been dipped in the midst of all this
and he lightly places his foot
through the threshold
i just want to dip myself into a piece of music
and swirl around
without hunger or fear
the roundness of your being
the curl of hair
and of eyes, lips, inside a circling face
the small fingers which poke me
or which become hands that hold mine
on the floor of a small room
laid out across the carpet
drawn out into a single line
your hands, your eyes
holding words and secrets
like the tiny cups they seem to be
held out in front of me
asking to be filled
ever in need of a vessel
I want you in my arms,
but instead you are a pillow.
The emptiness makes up for my fingers in your hair,
the cold bed is your breath.
I want you bad,
but not when you want me.
That would be too easy.
I say to myself: "I'm going to write a poem."
So I situate myself in the proper place to do so.
But then, what to write about?
I look about my room, as if this is supposed to inspire me.
A teacup, a candlestick,
Box of unopened fig Newtons,
Mess of clothes on the floor.
It turns out, I'm not a poet after all. Either that,
or I'm in the wrong room.
I snuck a cigarette in the back yard
at 10:45 in the morning.
The sun shone bright and shaded the smoke gawdily, so
I smoked it in the shade, behind the fence,
keeping an eye on the sidewalk to make sure the coast was always clear.
The dog was on his leash and he stared at me guiltily.
"Why do you give me that look?" I said,
I petted him affectionately,
that seemed to suffice.
I made coffee in my bedroom, filling the electric kettle
with water from a mason jar.
I wrote two postcards to friends in China while it brewed,
I drank my liquid breakfast,
and stepped in cat vomit.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
I screamed at her as she lay docile on my duvet.
She gave me the blankest, the most Idontgiveashit cat look ever.
It happens most nights when I'm feeling sort of sad,
but mostly really tired and confused.
I've been thinking too much, about too many things.
And my brain has finally quit.
And all I want to do is cry my eyes out and feel better.
All I want is to be held and to be loved without reason.
I want to lie down in my bed, and feel a body wrapped neatly
around me. I want someone to cry onto,
someone to understand. I want something so cliche, it would be perfect.
I don't want to care about life,
about art, about my future, about myself,
I just want to cry and cry and cry and
lie there with someone and be held and be understood.
I need a vacation.
I need a break from my life.
I need perspective.
I need someone to hold me without asking me what's wrong.
I need to cry until the sun rises.
I need to not think.
I need a break.
I need time.
A dawn is breaking
Over the line of Atlantic expanse
A piano is playing
But only through modern implements
A soft mechanical din is
Heard over it
And children are at once quiet and asleep
As men and women scruffle to find comfort
A small light finds its way across the open Atlantic dawn
And blue takes over black slowly
I am restless and racing
The destination must be near
That moment, when you kiss Don
good night and then turn away
to switch off the light on your bedside table,
and the smile is suddenly wiped off your face,
those three seconds when you rest your hand on the switch
and then quickly engulf the room in darkness,
that is your entire life.