19 Oct

They never say “Go now, we made you as good as we were able, as made as you wanted to become.” No.  They say, “We made you better than you mother’s womb could. Remember us, you were best here.” But it didn’t really matter.

The speech was cut off with a flash-bang, though it was imprinted in her memory logs. It gave her something to reference, to contextualize after the re-birth. It felt much the same as the first time around. Not painful, but uncomfortable. Like living without eyelids but still being able to blink. A thousand years of non-blinks condensed into a non-instant. Yeli was sure they would give that fraction of time a name someday, but it didn’t exist yet. Maybe Yeli would still be alive once they had. She hoped so, she liked things to have proper names.

And now she was a star, the same way she was a person. She liked names and sprinkles on birthday cake and improvised jazz music. But there was no music in space, no sound either. There was light, however, and she was made of it. She was made of endless, boundless, light and yet the edges she could not reach outnumbered those she could. If she had eyes anymore her majesty would have blinded her, even staring out from within it.

So how was she to do what stars have always done if she had no eyes to see and there was no sound in the deepness of space? It was irrelevant. She had a core of burning fire unencumbered by flesh or gravity. All the coverings were burned away- just like Posy’s coverings burned up with the candles on her eighth birthday cake.

Posy had always been bad at the difference between light and dark. Her pictures were always the wrong colors, but when she closed her eyes she wished like any other little girl. Firstly, because wishes have colors only in the same way emptions do and secondly, because a person’s heart can be any color they want to paint it with. Reality within a human body is not so bound as you might think.

I suppose if you could have gone in Posy’s wish it might have looked something like a unicorn, or maybe just a pony. The lights turned on and her family smiled. She was a rare sort of child who had taught her parents not to ask the sorts of questions that ruined things by going unanswered, and so they did not ask what she had wished for. She never had to share the shape of them, and so she never had to try to give them a shape and be ridiculed for its colors.

Yeli felt the shape of Posy’s wish though, and held it in her heart. She nurtured it with the fire of a star. And before Yeli knew it Posy was nine. She blew out her candles and her wish felt a little bit less like a pony but Yeli, even with her star knowledge and databases did not know quite what it was. But it burned within her and she watched as Posy gave the first piece of birthday cake to her little brother. She felt Posy’s joy when her father smiled and nodded at her.

Then Posy was sixteen and Yeli saw the shape of her wish, but it did not match up with the feel of it. It was Posy as a glowing, wondrous thing, but it felt small, abandoned, insufficient. Her colors were wrong, they were colors Yeli recognized, bleeding into blackness.

Yeli did not know what to do with this kind of a wish. It had been so long since, well. Suffice it to say that stars memories are long but imperfect. And then it was not just birthday candles. It was black skies and bathroom showers and pennies in fountains, and corner-store bracelets that fell off. There was no one stable shape, so they merged together and burned. They were a rolling ocean within the fire.

It made Yeli burn bright and throw off sparks. Posy married under one of them. Her daughter was born under another. In turn, they filled Posy’s wishes and Yeli grew big and red with hoy and sadness. Posy had always known was wishing was about of course, but now Yeli knew the pony-shaped dream was there to be given away.

Yeli missed the fragments that drifted away because they were not from her. But Posy’s heart was not made of fire and it did not need to be. She did not merely hold things, she made them. She built an art studio and did not tell the children they were wrong when the ponies they drew were orange. She remembered and still dreamed sometimes in colors she had never been able to recreate. Yeli felt like a rainbow, every spectrum that had a name and a few that she hoped Posy would figure out some day.

Posy’s parents died, both her father who had been proud of her politeness and her mother who had never judged or demanded after her wishes. Posy laid a rose with them. She did not wish for them back, as Yeli had been taught to expect. Instead, she wished for something that felt like hme, like comfort and acceptance. But it was not for herself. It was one pf those other-wishes that Yeli could only keep a part of before they floated off where they were sent to. But Yeli no longer felt empty for not having them.

And each year thereafter Yeli began to dread the candles. She was just as unready as Posy, however, for the flood of hurt and acceptance when Posy’s daughter said goodbye. Neither of them understood it, but Posy’s wishes for her still felt like a golden glow within Yeli. Posy’s wishes were unwavering.

Then Posy’s husband died. They had a better love than most. Yeli knew it had happened because parts of her centre had begun to cool. The wishes that had been bound up in him died. Yeli grew scared. She checked her databases and scoured her lessons and rages at the sentiment that teachers thought they had made her better. Posy had made her better.

And Posy was dying, a lifetime of wishes growing cold and disjointed in a way that was not merely because of the nature of their medium. Posy did not make the wish that Yeli hoped she would, even though it would not have been her place to grant it any more than the others. Her core grew cold and she felt the blackness of space. No, not blackness. Some other color. One they hadn’t come up with a name for yet.

The universe had no arms to hold her, so she swaddled herself in Posy’s wishes, all the memories that did not burn inside her anymore but that she could still feel she shape of. And then the vastness did not matter anymore. She opened her eyes, and somewhere a star was born.


9 Oct

and maybe you didn’t know
that you were repeating it,
again, that i was repeating
it again.

that i knew about waves and destiny,
and past lives. all the energy
that couldn’t go anywhere.

even if i wasn’t a piece
of the ever changing moon.
i knew these things.

knew like i knew that humans
had eyeballs and threes were

i met fate once, but i’ve forgotten
what she said. some screaming
about the price of butter.

so i made up the prophecy,
don’t the waves look nice today?
i noticed your footsteps again.

someday i will float away from footprints,
and paths, and maybe i’ll remember
what she said. and i’ll forget

how to see the circles.

When beasts talk at borders

2 Oct

I guess we lied to you
told you the land was better than
the water because things died here

and that made the love better.
when really having you here
made us better.

and it was never because of your
beauty, well, maybe for the other
storytellers it was, but i think
as a species we’re bad at seeing
with our eyes.

and i am bad with feeling with my skin,
but i know your knives, and maybe
your search for a soul, is the same
as my search for goodness.

i know i did the right thing
telling you it would be better,
because even those people who don’t
tell stories are better for mermaids existing

but i’m sorry.


2 Oct

I heard her melody
of a new dream.

One, not vested solely
in a humble husk of human flesh.

One, that is not an inherent contradiction
exploding when it contacts a realm
where its opposite exists

That isn’t pleasure strung together
in addicting and subtracting numerical
patters because it is the only thing

here. where adding in a single space
of emptiness, when you are trying to make
bounty, results in a zero sum.


2 Oct

what did they mean?
she made heroines with them,
would have made heroes too

if husbands and fathers lost
their stubborn secondhand shame.

and knowing that role models sweat
and cried and felt shame and
couldn’t even define their own ideal
of perfection

didn’t make the constructs
stop dreaming of meteorites
even though they had sisters and mothers

even though they thought they had imperfect
human, love.

Sunstained leftovers

7 Sep

We were throwing off rainbows
in our wake.

But it still took the sun,
and we still watched them dissolve
into seafoam

like princesses,
and trash.
the problem is on days when i dont know
if any of us deserve to be saved.

when annihilation seems futile
as i stare at our trajectory charts
and that choice seems right for everyone
not just for me.

when i have given up on the rest of it
existing, let alone being saved.
and these mundane pleasures-

even the intellectual questions,
experiences feel like hedonism
that even this ugly type of art
does nothing but serve narcissism

and legitimize pretension.
“how do you ride the sea?” he asked.
“like any wild thing. you pretend your hips,
your core, is made in part by it,
and you hold on.”

Of Dissections and Immortality

3 Sep

Once upon a time there was a young boy who wanted to know everything there was to know in the whole wide world. He had the type of parents who taught him about polymaths and inspired his mind. He also had the type of parents who taught him that to know a thing you had to dissect it- draw it ought in perfect lines and assign labels in clean penmanship. To truly know a thing you had to do this each time to show patterns and consistency.
He was the sort of boy who wanted an eternal sort of knowledge, to understand the world. Now, he knew he could not open up the whole of the Earth- crack at its ribs and vacuum out the liquids to look at its stringy guts. Perhaps though, he could draw and label and paint all the same. He would not know the innards of everything, but he would know the outers.
His parents thought his ideas childish fancy, but as he grew older and did not lose them they simply learned to become happy with the idea that at least he did not set out to become one of those artists. So, when adulthood came he set out with his satchel and pencils and paper. He set out for the mountains, determined to find a way to properly draw their majesty- which he had only ever guessed at at a distance. He found out it was hard to breathe such air, and that his muscles were not used to such hardship. Still, he marched day by day, carefully eking out the miles with his ruler and pencil. He slept in caves and mapped those too. He already was noticing how the cycles of the seasons changed the snow, and knew he would have to come back in summer to see how the sun had melted the snow and freed the paths.
The sun rose a pale pink and he straightened his fingers from where they were furled inside his armpit. He collected his tools and set out. It had been three days since he had run out of food. She was so perfectly white he almost didn’t see her in the blinding light of the rising sun. Indeed he only realized she was along his path because he was drawing her as a snow drift and the placement moved even as he set it to paper. In the end she called to him.
“Traveller!” she cried, “where is it you’re going?”
“Nowhere,” he shivered.
She did not seem to understand. “I will take you to nowhere then. These paths are not safe.”
She approached and took his arm. Her eyes were glaciers unto themselves. He wanted to understand them in lines and depths and millimetres. She took him to her village and he dried his papers by the fire. She laughed at his drawing of her mountains. She showed him how to represent height and depth and brought him by donkey wearing warm furs into the peaks and valleys both. He stayed a year.
He told her when he left it was his duty, the reason for his life that called him. This was his task; to know. She knew that to map a thing was not to know it, that to dissect it was often to kill it. But she thought she knew him, and she knew she loved him, so she remained silent.
“I will return, to verify my findings” he said.
He left the mountains. He knew from his schoolings that mountains were a type of desert. A harsh wasteland, and he had much to show for it. A great desert could not be so hard. So he took off his furs and donned robes of white and soft sandals. The dunes moved even faster than the snowdrifts and each day he felt like he could only map an iteration of the world and not its whole expanse. He wanted to find the beneath the sand-dunes. Find the truth under the fluctuating mirage.
He asked the creatures of the desert who lived underground, the snakes and rodents: “What does the world look like beneath the sand?”
But they could only answer in smells and tastes and the jumps of fear when predators approached over-ground. Soon, he heard of the greatest predator of all: something that looked rather like him, or felt rather like him. All the animals feared it because it made deep wide pits in the desert and shook the earth with booming. And he followed their cries until he found what they feared. It was a salt mine, and he was not an animal, he could speak in words. When he spoke he asked the miners of the earth beneath the sand. They gave him shovels and drills and metal detectors and talked about tectonic plates.
He drew what he saw on their machines, but did not believe in his drawings. What he saw through their screens was a truth he could doubt. He could only be certain of his mind, his eyes, and these things fulfilled neither. Still, the machines let him under the tides of the sand and that seemed to be the only thing here that was worth drawing, worth checking for consistency. So he left the desert- vowing to return when either technology or his eyes were better, whichever happened first.
He had spent so long in a place devoid of water that he felt it was time to tackle the oceans. When he was younger they had seemed so vast, so onerous. But now? He had braved mountains, learned to use machines. With a boat and a capable captain he was sure there was nothing he would be unable to see. Water was just another texture, depth was simply depth. So he hired a captain and crew and a boat and set out. The lakes were easy. The waters were mostly placid, the tributaries small and the rock formations and shipwrecks beneath were clear either in sunlight or through the sound waves of the sonar. The oceans were not so.
First, he hired a submarine. Then, he befriended a whale. The whale talked to the giant squid on his behalf but even if the squid understood what he meant by his questions his reply was much the same as the desert animals’ had been. He talked only of the sensation of deep pressure on tentacles, how to see in shades of darkness and the food cycles of the creatures that lived in that sort of blackness. So he abandoned his quest to map the depths of the ocean, for he still refused to fill in the blanks with dragons or scientific speculation.
Nonetheless, he still had faith in his quest. The things he had seen and drawn and learned of still needed verification. So he set out on his second tour of the Earth. It went much the same as the first. He waited for technology to allow him to see the things he could not before. He saw the Sherpa girl again. Saw his age reflected in her eyes. He completed his second circle.

The snow and sand drifts had moved. The tides went up and down. He started his third cycle. It felt like his third lifetime. The snake’s babies did not remember hm. Nor did the miners’. Nor the whale’s. Only the Sherpa girl’s granddaughter knew him. She painted the sunsets on the snow and did not know why his drawings always had numbers in them. She showed him the constellations she loved and the different pictures between them. She told him five different stories about the same star and all its different names. He started trying to draw the sky. The sky was part of the world, and he wanted to know it just the same.
“Which one do I draw?” he asked, “which is the true tale?”
“Ask my granddaughter in a hundred years. She will have thought up better ones than mine.”
And so he left again, this time to draw the stars from every part of the world he had already been thrice over. He found a strange thing: the stars did not change the way the sand and sea did. His instruments were already as good as they could be for seeing far off surfaces. The fact that they were mere representations did not bother him for he knew he would never go there. He simply tracked their motions and drew them the way he saw them talked about by children and women he loved. People built rocket ships and hyper-drives. He had his pen and paper.


14 Aug

I am in love with every thing,
and in equal parts i loathe,
i hate.

and sometimes, when i play with one
of you, my broken dolls. I feel

because i can hate your suffering
and love your joy and pretend
the world works in discernible patterns

and cycles and pretend that i
am a useful sort of god.

that i can make it better than it has
always been. that i can sew
your flesh and soul, and not just
your patchwork clothing.


there are three books, i have
in pairs. three belong to me.

one, belongs to a dead boy.
maybe he loved me, maybe
i was a reason of his death.

the second, belongs to a dead girl.
she did not learn to love from her parents.
i killed her.

The third, belongs to a fool.
She loved it. So much she forgot
she owned it.

It collects dust now.


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