music

Pleasure Principle

Apéritifs: In the months leading up to the release of our book “A Single Throat Opens,” a collaborative lyric exploration of addiction, Meghan McClure and I will be compiling a playlist pairing songs with new writing to be enjoyed before the main course. Cheers, friends.

When we first met I was talking to a friend. Later you said, “I heard you making excuses to him and thought you lie just like I do.” And just like that I was the child who covers his eyes. You found me hiding in the open. We lied gracefully together. What a strange truth to admit. There was something elegant about being bound through falsehood, a gymnastic ease in the way we could bend a truth just so.

I read recently how small lies lead to bigger ones in the future, how our brains become desensitized to the negative feelings associated with fooling those nearby. I never hunted so why would I believe I could track the lies like blood on snow toward something beautiful, undamaged? Here is one truth: we never experienced winter together. Here is another: even now when I read the letters you wrote, I hurt. I melt. “You…are the only thing that could shake me.” Although you said it, I am left quaking.

If we can fool ourselves into greater lies, let me begin as small as an almond. I don’t remember the color of your eyes. I don’t remember where we spent our first night together. I don’t remember where I saw you after we stopped talking or the expression on your face when you looked up to see me, then down to your plate, your hands slowly moving to your lap. I don’t remember your husband. I don’t remember what I mouthed as I left.

I didn’t love you immediately or for so long after.

I’ve disguised you in poems, single lines like stitches to keep me together. I think it’s okay now. Unravel me: Chant heavy / three times like you did when I carried you…Pull it further: freckles / sprinkled across her shoulders. You described your own summer-smatter of freckles as “angel cake under nutmeg.” I could still tell you about taste and hunger. Heat. I could show you a primal pleasure, a small hand plunging down into warm cake and frosting, fingers smeared across the lips. O appetite. O insolent, senseless love. We made such a mess.

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All is Full of Love

Apéritifs: In the months leading up to the release of our book “A Single Throat Opens,” a collaborative lyric exploration of addiction, Meghan McClure and I will be compiling a playlist pairing songs with new writing to be enjoyed before the main course. Cheers, friends.

Dear Izzy and Sophi,

My mother (baba, as you know her) could never grasp the idea that some of what we’re seeing in the night sky is light from a star already extinct. I wonder if you’d understand if I tried to explain it now. But you’re more interested in seaweed and sandcastles, cheetahs and pandas. We can talk about the stars later. There is still light in the day.

One day you will realize I was someone else, someone less, before I was your father. Even now, while you two sleep, I’m half the person I was while you were awake. I am full of dust-ache and disappearing. It takes you two to swirl me into the air, make of me a dance worth seeing. Otherwise I settle on the chair, make no impact. Otherwise light passes through me; there is nothing concrete to stop it.

You two like torches impossibly bright, it’s only by your illumination I feel visible and warm. As something only made beautiful in relation, proximity. This isn’t sorrow you hear; it’s my ecstasy. Simultaneously, I realize now I was, in my own way, a candle for my parents, a fire passing through them. I never noticed their own twirl and twist, their unique movements until nearly too late. The day is nearly done, the sky darkening.

Maybe this is what we all are. Not dust, but glorious light. Not disappearing but passing through. When my parents think of their parents, eventually when I think of mine, and someday when you think of me and your mother, it’ll all make sense, I promise. The stars, the light, the darkness behind it all, even these stories I had to tell …you’ll understand everything someday.

With all my love always,

Daddy

Twilight

Apéritifs: In the months leading up to the release of our book “A Single Throat Opens,” a collaborative lyric exploration of addiction, Meghan McClure and I will be compiling a playlist pairing songs with new writing to be enjoyed before the main course. Cheers, friends.

The way he sings the opening lines (Haven’t laughed this hard in a long time I better stop now before I start crying) convinces no one of laughter. Some of us prioritize despair. We hear the heart rending itself and call it music.

When you left I wrote you slant on every page. I sing off key and often: your name. I drank my thoughts quiet but my heart continued its frenzy. There is no quelling the core of who we are. We either bear the beat, or we burst.

Touch me; I’m full. I am an impossibly small grape whose body contains every glass of wine. Yours is the mouth that broke my skin and drank from me everything. Still, dry as I am, I have created the most magnificent life. I find joy like a dragonfly hovering nearby, always. I am profoundly, unexpectedly happy. When I think of you it’s only in the dark. It’s been so long; you’ve missed so much. I want to share every detail but I better stop now before I start—