It never really felt much like home again.

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It never really felt much like home again.
The sun-kissed meadows of my youth
were now replaced by a tawdry and vulgar juxtaposition of
discount furniture stores, blaring neon 24-hour checks cashed signs,
and eldritch lofts hastily adorned with
skeuomorphic Victorian-era window panes
sometimes doubling as
psychic’s offices.

Where the ferns once blossomed now sits
a ghastly array of pastel-colored houses with no windows,
overgrown gardens with no flowers,
and sinuous dusty streets endlessly teeming with decrepit cafes
emanating sounds of droll laughter
from patrons with no bodies.
But I still had her.

Art: Justyna Kopania

Beneath her saccharine platitudes…

Beneath her saccharine platitudes...

Beneath her saccharine platitudes he caught a brief,
yet disturbing glimmer of her pain.
The passion and sincerity in her eyes
dissembled a flame of hurt
that always sought to be extinguished,
but managed to persist all these years
partly through his inability
or unwillingness to see it
and partly through her mistaken willingness
to remain convinced
that the flame was precisely
what she needed to survive.

Art: “Jacqueline with Flowers”
Pablo Picasso

She balked…

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She balked at my advances,
but her eyes were flushed
with a raw desire
that both challenged and seduced me.
“If you truly love me, dear,”
I adjured, grabbing her delicate hand
and pressing it into my throbbing chest.
“Your words will come, and they will flow
freely through the rivers that course
throughout your heart; without qualification,
without reason, meaning, or subjoinder.
But with direction.
And purpose.
Your eyes will rest.
And your lips will follow.”

Photo: “Lovers Beneath a Streetlight, Paris”
Brassaï (Gyula Halász)

“What is Eternity?”

“What is eternity?” she asked.
“Here, take a look, as far as the crow flies.”
“Where?”
“Straight ahead. That’s eternity.”
“How so?”
“Just keep looking, far and wide, but without searching.”
“How does that work?”
“Just stare into the offing, without guile or expectation, and eternity will settle right here, in the moment, encapsulated in the breadth of your very gaze.”
“And what happens when I find it?”
“It will find you.”

Art: “Near Sydenham Hill”
Camille Pissarro

Water

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Startled by the shrill cries of feathered sable-winged imps, I awaken.

I stumble with purpose to the bathroom, turn on the faucet, allowing the stark cold deluge of life to overtop my cupped hands. Perched over the sink like a sordid mendicant in the throes of his final prostration, I am momentarily transfixed by the effortless and inconstant swishing and swirling, movement upon movement, all manner of transparent, tenuous being turning back on itself.

Just as soon as it is there, it is not, and no sooner it is there again. In a singular thrust my face is fully immersed, arising to a glass bespattered with errant streams scurrying toward the white porcelain base like fugitive tears from a dozen eyes, giving it a cracked and mottled appearance. I am confronted by a mere semblance of a man, slipping in and out of definition, his visage melting and separating into disjointed components of an indifferent and superfluous reality.

I peer out of the kitchen window, expecting to find the imps alighting on the balcony’s ledge. They usually gather around at this time to discuss the day’s events, to celebrate the passing whispers of days and seasons, to plan, plot, make love, then polish their sleek sweptback wings for yet another excursion.

They are gone. Treeless limbs rest lethargically in the distance, valgus and brittle. The rays of a rapidly descending sun cast them in a particularly stark and reprehensible relief. I make my way to the door, turning back once to take in this vast expanse of muddled ambitions. For the first time I leave it unlocked. A clear, bitter calipash congeals around my neck, through my nose, and over my eyes no sooner than I can manage two steps outside, asphyxiating me whole with stoic hands that only toil in withered fields.

I push my way past a gaggle of unkempt urchins frolicking aimlessly along the side street that eventually leads up to the old abandoned tea house two or so blocks east. I make my way south down towards the sparsely-dressed hillock that seems to be in perpetual solicitation for souls or at least a once-in-a-year ablution from the fleeting but curious clouds.

To my right is the road to Happy Ville where I often drowned myself in liquid sanity and floated along swells of lusty, sweltering bacchants with no faces. A particularly fearsome bacchante bedecked in an exotic suite of blue nainsook, rose beads and flowers coruscates with vulgar abandon, cheered on enthusiastically by bearded virtuoso vagabonds camped on the corner with whatever managed to produce just enough euphonious strands of harmony to get them through another night.

Two knights perched on horses look on with authority half subdued by prurient amusement. Tonight I drift along implacable currents of beings who knew no care but their own, bodiless heads weaving in and out of art galleries and watering holes like little organic molecules connected by skeins of dilapidated spirits and proud destitution. For all the activity, there is no life in this place.

I stand atop the hillock and set my gaze on the lake below, coloring it with what little my eyes have left. Forms arise, disappear, then back again, but always stagnant, an enticing tableau vivant bedewing my affections with delicate but devilish hands. My form is incomplete, my body a disjointed mass turning back on itself to find completion in a broken world. “It’s all vain, vain,” I cry, wringing my sweaty hands as I ponder the depths for all the answers I’ve ever needed.

Art: “Turquoise Blues III”
Carolyn Zimmerman