The sunsets of the childhood

 

The most beautiful thing, in a big city, in the summer evenings, is when kids play out at dusk, when the voices mix and fade into each other. If you sit somewhere inside, lie down in bed, with no thoughts, and listen to them, you may capture echoes from other times and worlds.

It seems to me that the voices of the neighborhood have been silenced. They are covered by other sounds, artificial or by a quietness that isolates.

The rhythms of the artificial heart beats of the big cities, with which we are bombarded everywhere, are sound buffers between each and every one, they amplify loneliness, raise sharp, even menacing walls between people. One associates that unnatural sounds with concrete and wire, not with the beautiful images that follow the chuckles and laughter and rumbling of the streets of the evening.

 

All of my childhood I saw old trees in my reveries, country roads, strangers whom I could guess the fate and the character in the features of the face, the same type of people like those unknowns who appear in the dreams, and we know somehow, even if we cannot call them by name. I have longed for the roads that lead to the sea or the forests, to the hills. I dreamed of the ones that bake their own bread, cultivate their garden and drink their tea under ancient walnuts, make love in secret attics or under the open skies. I dreamed of worlds in which, if you raise your eyes, by night, you can see the stars.

In the big cities the sky is black. The stars are no longer visible.

 

Industrialization has not marked just our clothes, but also what we wear inside. The new generations of children dream of scenes, reflectors, luxury clubs, top models, fetish images of an entirely artificial world, ice stars, halls full of illusions, roads that all lead to a giant screen.

 

Since I were 10 I felt the need to write about the melancholy and the destinies of the beloved ones, that we carry inside us.

Who are all those people, angels, and beasts that show up in our dreams?

 

What the source of desire is? Where does it come from? What made us blind to some people and able to see so vividly some others?

 

Unclear then, lucid now, my wish as a child was to become a peasant.

 

Becoming a villager is not a destination in space but in time. I wanted to emigrate in the past, in the simplicity of a world where people did not delude themselves about what was natural and what was not.

 

We are prisoners of big cities, with the minds caught in fights that are not our own, in huge holograms build by recyclable words.

 

Take me by the hand and lead me to the spring of longing. Come with me in that land where everything is unnamed yet.

 

“Few sea birds are quarreling in the sky for a few pieces of cane. I picture myself on a desert beach all day long. At dusk, the water which is already calm becomes even more silent. Is there any meaning in all these? Charming fear of being, sweet neighborhood of a danger whose name we do not know, is living only meant to guide us to our own loss?” “It has always seemed to me that I live somewhere on the seaside, in the heart of a kingly happiness.” Albert Camus, The Summer.

 

Control

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Aren’t you tired of the dictator from inside you?

Aren’t you sick of that inner guardian

that commands you to be better

to love more

to love less

to move forward

to hold on

to let go

to get up from the dead

 

Aren’t you tired of this soul-predator that keeps you awake

and running

aren’t you exhausted of

running away

running inside

running around the same rusted ghosts?

 

Aren’t you bored of the tyranny of this Soul

bullying you like a prick

mocking your hunger, blaming your fears

 

Haven’t you been enough in his service

like an obedient slave

born blind and helpless

and pushed by his Master

to creep through impossible wonders?

Soul mates

Leszek Bujnowski

Image by: Leszek Bujnowski

We could have carried huge sacks in one of the world’s harbors.

We could have been two teenagers captive in an oriental brothel.

We could have been moonstruck.

 

We could have been two fat moles digging their tunnels under the frozen land

ending up together in the skewer of an old Eskimo.

 

We could have been some irate nerds preaching the socialism to a pack of hungy dogs.

 

It’s not that bad what we have been fated to.

 

I could have had the luck to be a sleepwalker and go, through the night, to head for your lands,

like a turtle pushed towards the sea by her primordial thoughts

 

One day we’ll be meteorites

or bodies of water

trees

maybe elephants

aren’t you curious how the elephants desire might be like?

We will recognize each other instantly

and the fever will break out

 

there are other lives

don’t cry

 

 

Like a bullet

 

It must have pierced your chest like a bullet

If definitely must have been true

to come to know how devastating,

how scathing happiness could be

 

How wracking  his empty coffee cup looks like

left on the window still

in the moment when his absence

fills the house

like a snow fall that hurts

everything

 

anthony-garratt3paint by Anthony Garratt

 

Confusion

 

No, mom, it’s not me the woman in the photo

It’s another one, don’t you see, her cheeks have been sculpted by wind

Her lips are thin, her hands are exhausted by labor, you know how lazy I am

She has mild, compliant eyes

You know with how much anger I fly at all jerks throat

Don’t you see how humble she is?

I am all revolt all pride

 

And, besides, you are younger than her, mom

In all of my reveries.

Troy for instance

When I was little I imagined myself with long hair with thin arms and skinny knees

I  invented myself breasts of all shapes and sizes I was afraid they would never grow

As a teenager I screamed: Fuck ”communism” in the streets and I invoked a homeland

Flocks of mysteries and fears passed with the rage of bullets through my fabulous hair which has grown in my dreams up to my knees

Heroically I fought all the nightmares and all the chemistry exams

All the locks and ice lands

Heroically I stood the lost of springtime

Everytime I heared “No” I insisted to say: “Oh, yes”.

I dragged my imaginary sins through all catacombs

Until the day he  invaded my wonderland with his long hair, disheveled, like a savage From then I couldn’t spell certain words without blushing such as Troy, for instance

Until that moment I didn’t even have a language of my own or a truth dignified to wear my name

I had no homeland or breasts

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photo: Jen Kiaba

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27970134-the-black-box

The Black Box

The Black Box

The three protagonists of the book are painters and the narrative follows their biographies blending together, uniting and separating at some point. Tristan and Norman were born at the beginning of the 60s, in working class families, in an English industrial town. Their friendship emerged in early childhood, in a Catholic boarding school. The story of their relationship and of the experiences they are going through is told by each one of them, so that the reader deals with the same narrative exposed and focused from two different subjective angles. The third character of the book is a Belgian female artist, two decades younger than them. She is the disciple of Norman and, through his confessions, she discovers the fascinating world of London of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, with all its specific contrasts, temptations, fetishes, conflicts, illusions and disillusions. The plot of the book brings into the spotlight a part of the wonders, dilemmas and controversies of an entire generation of artists that had overthrown an aesthetical system of thinking that stood as a foundation for the great cultural currents of modernity and had anticipated the dawn of postmodernism as well.

 

The bitch

Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

The woman I feared the most

dwells now in my living room

wallows in my bed sheets

uses my laptop every night

 

gorging herself with the chocolate that I keep for the neighbor children

The woman I despised with fury in my 20ties –

I used to call her bitch in three languages –

lays now in indecent positions on my brand new couch

I paint her nails, I adjust her eyebrows

I moisture her body with dozens of lotions

 

I invent stories for her to cheer her up

I promise her that she could seem as stupid as in the dreams of the prince

 

The woman I feared the most

makes gymnastics every day

counts calories

cries for almost nothing

she has no glimpse of pride

she stays locked in a books tower

making scenarios to tear it down

 

and to take all over again

from the level of primordial tides

 

She is a nymph that came to be naught in a foreign life

like a white whale brought by storm on a desert shore

 

I bemired her in my poems

I wrote humanist slogans against her

 

I had hives anytime when I thought

about how lustfully one like her

offers her heart to any hungry beast

 

And now she lives in my house

in my mind

in my desires

in my flesh

in my mirrors

 

 

Poem with lace dress

DSCN0555

 

I’m dressed in a white lace dress as if I should go to the ball.

I write from the first hour in the morning as though it would mean a thing.

I’m struggling to make the autumn come as if something was going to happen.

I’m studying my face as a traitor, as if I had a choice.

I’m arguing with impossible and untrue things, then I apologize, as if someone knew.

I regret what I thought and felt in vain like an evil act, as if someone cared.

I run through the others’ illusions like a rat lost in a dark cellar.

 

I even have an icon at the edge of the bed as though I had faith.

 

There are terrible struggles given inside me and there are only beaten men in the end.

 

Fall

The falling leaves and the light that embraces them,
the frozen air and your burned lips
are the same
and the buses that will survive our happiness
and the coffee cups from the day with no return
and our shadows embraced on the floor
and the world that will continue after we have leaved
with its hospitals with its chosen ones with its dogs trimmed by the best stylists
and the air that passes from lung to  lung
and the wind that blows from the south
are the same

and the sun heating my temples over which your kisses have once passed
and all those unhappened
that are so hard to abandon

once buried in memory
are the same

Responsible

                                                                                                                                              image Mirjam Appelhof

 

I’ve always imagined myself as an animal, one who takes himself for a human being.
I’ve been told: No. You’re delusional. This is just wishful thinking.
You are and will always be but a poor human being.
An unhappy creature, confused, a miserable dreamer, an outcast possessed by doubt like by a legion of demons.
An idiot contradicting himself every other day.
The animal is pure, it’s a perfect being. Don’t lie to yourself, they told me. What are your arguments?
I preferred to be used rather than contemplated, I babbled.
It’s not enough, they’ve retorted. The animal does not do any harm, he does not make mistakes, he does not know anything.
But your ignorance leads into the madness, your ignorance hurts, tangles, produces earthquakes.
Okay, but we’re born animals, and we turn into people. Perhaps some succeed in avoiding the transformation, I dared to guess.
They laughed and laughed.
Nice try! You cannot escape like this.
No one is excused, lady. From the very first moment we come alive, we do not cease to fall in man like in a deep pit
Deep
From which
Nor  love
Or fear

Could ever take us out

the same story

The romantic version

 

They both hope the impossible.

He hopes that she might desire him in a man’s way.

She hopes that he might realize how a woman is built and that he would accept her with her issue. It is not a crime. It’s just her way of desiring. She will not bother him anyhow. He could follow his chase at his ease.

We are always told: men and women are the same species. No. They aren’t.

 

One cannot hope the impossible forever. The thread that all the sunrises hang on, breaks at one moment.

 

He hopes that her way of being would synchronize with his tides.

She hopes that one day he will stop leaving. But she doesn’t understand the low tide and the ebb tide.

Ulysses is a story written by Penelope.

 

He is revolted because she doesn’t treasure freedom. But he suffers to know her with another.

He would love her to belong to him… but like the lust of music or the silence of noon.

He would love her to be always the same, like the sea. Time not to touch her face and breasts. To be a statue of marble.

The more he desires her to be a thing, the less he lets her see inside him.

By the contrary, she gives herself the more ardently as he strives to turn her into a ritual object.

 

She explodes into an attack of fever and melancholy.

His idol falls down and crushes with noise to the asphalt.  He spits with disdain.

He casts her away.

She remains locked into the cell of insomnia to haggle with his shadow.

 

The postmodern  version

 

the idealist rationalism and good part of the civilization’s archives consign that men are endowed with a stronger metaphysical sense than women, that have been proven to be more carnal.

 

Empirically, things appear to be different.

She tells other women: he has a contagious smile that wraps you up into the vapors of other centuries. His heart is pure ember, his sights are healing water, his arms are the promise land’s ground. And when he kisses me, it’s like trying to suck the whole life out of my breast into the unforeseen depths of his being.

He tells other men: she has a perfect ass. I don’t know if I can make myself clear. By perfect ass I mean The Perfect Ass. It’s such a pity she is a sentimental cow.

 

Night is falling over the city of Troy.

Women are washing their blood spotted headdresses into the same waters for centuries.

 

Psychology

 

The mind is a mirrors system. Everything is backwards in reality.

 

This explains why victims have complexes of guilt,  why intelligent men are convinced that others are smarter, why arrogant pals suspect their fellows of vanity, why the ones full of envy are convinced they are coveted all the time, why women believe in men’s love.

 

The scientific version

 

The good side is that male potency is not just a myth. The bad side is that every potent man is conscious that he is a rare exemplary and he could have an army of slaves. Women that sustain they can make a devoted partner out of a potent man, applying various strategies, have never met one.

 

 

Zen version

 

You better die of a God’s hand, after he offered you the happiness, than living a long live with a devoted slave that kisses your feet because he has nothing to offer.

 

The personal version

 

I always hated the word hope.

 

Anytime

 

You may come anytime

even at the hour when the scavengers pick up the forgotten umbrellas from the bus stations

or in the middle of the night

it’s good anytime

 

just come

 

even only in my sleep

all I want is to see you no matter how

to touch you

nothing more

to sniff your smell

 

show up for only few minutes

no matter when and where

when I barely drag my feet on the beaten tracks of solitude

 

you may come when the leaves are falling

or  in a misty winter morning

when the walnuts are blossoming

or next springtime

even for a few minutes

or less

 

just to let me know that you breathe

no more

 

you may come anytime

even now

when everything is too late

Sanctuary

 

Tristan

There was a joke going around our school: ‘What’s the difference between what the boy thinks about a penis and what an old man thinks about it? The boy reckons it is used for peeing. The old man in certain of it.’ Back then, I was a lad who had just stopped being a boy and the joke amused me greatly. Now I don’t find it as funny.

People don’t really talk about the impotence due to age. You can sooner find information about incurable diseases than about andropause. You are somewhat forewarned if you are to lose a hand in an accident or become paralyzed, whereas no one rushes to warn you about the fact that at some point, you become inapt for what you did best. I can’t tell what it’s like. Are you left with the desire but can’t get it up anymore? Or does the desire disappear as well? The idea that one day I won’t be able to satisfy Irène makes me ill. Because she wants my desire… not a certain type of touch, and I understand her, that’s what we all want. Otherwise, what happens between sexual partners wouldn’t be called eros, but massage or double masturbation. The question is: will I become inapt for love?  And if so, what will the day be like when I look at a naked woman and not feel anything?

Irène tries to ease my mind… She tries to do things for me. She told me she would have taken a beating for me and many other things. She’s exactly like my mother. I was supposedly very sensitive in kindergarten. Can you imagine?

Sometimes, Irène really does manage to take over my migraines, but she can’t want herself for me, that’s a problem…

The first that age are the hands, the skin swells and reddens, the pores begin to open. I’ve seen so many old hands! I look at mine and don’t recognize them anymore. I’ve seen them so many times in others, I’ve seen them in photos and movies. In my imagination, my hands are still young: white, with no wrinkles, ungrooved. There’s nothing stranger than growing old. You continue to have all your former ages inside of you.

Your memories from since you were three are almost as fresh as those from the day before yesterday, as the ones from the age of thirty. There’s no chronology in memory. Time doesn’t pass in a recollection. Each remembrance is another world, another universe, just as real, just as true as the one in which the hands grow old. There is no order of things in our minds. The pieces fall together randomly, in one way or another. I look at my aged hands and continue to see the ghost of my young hands overlapped on their image. We carry an entire cemetery of shadows inside. I think about all the faces that I still carry with me, although the mirror doesn’t recognize them anymore. I think about everything that happens outside of the world, about all the impalpable ramps that make up our existence and about how we all pass through transparent labyrinths of memory, confused, trying in vain to gather ourselves into a single face and a single fate. I think about the hands that I paint with, as if they are one with the painting, as if nothing has happened to them since the moment I started working on a canvas and the moment I finished it, as if they are always the same hands, which ritualistically perform the same gestures, as if life itself could still erupt from my chest with no stripes, no folds, no crosshatches or wrinkles, as if I could still understand it without increasingly complicated maps of desire. All the walls of my heart are covered in such maps. My views are full of crosshatches and arrows, of stripes that overlap the thin grooves that seam my hands, so that I only see the immaculate spaces between the wrinkles, the image of my white hands, with their smooth skin, forever young. Memory is the fountain of youth. Time doesn’t pass in memory. There are only statues with immaculate skin in memory. Caryatid-moments that support the walls of the world. I’m not afraid of death, I don’t care that there will be nothing left of me, I don’t care that I won’t come back, but strangely I can feel Irène’s pain following my inescapable disappearance, it’s an infinite pain. I can’t find another word for it. A pain heavier than Uranium. Deeper than the deepest hole, darker than a black hole. I can feel her pain pulsating in me like a second heart. Like a shadow of my own breathing that widens with each passing day. The fact that I can feel her pain, just as I can feel her passions and her throbs of pleasure, probably doesn’t mean anything. We are resonance boxes for each other, nothing more. What surprises me is how easily I accept her desire to commit suicide immediately after my death, given that I understand the proportions of this pain… Then, there will be nothing, not even darkness, it will be a liberation for her. I obviously can’t let her harm herself so much by loving me. I obviously have to do everything in my power to let her down. I can’t stand the idea of causing so much pain, even involuntarily.

Irène opposes the absurd in an absurd way. She has a sanctuary with photos from my youth. She frantically resizes and processes them in her programs and gives me the impression of someone who is fighting to convince a stuffed bird to flap its wings. My strategy was to live several lives consecutively, to start over from time to time, with no nostalgias. I only managed to do it partially, but I strived to, and I’m still striving. But Irène’s memory is like the National Archive: it records everything, it swallows everything, it absorbs and preserves everything embalmed in the liquors of melancholy, and it’s not easy to live when you are dueling with the hyperbole-image of your lost youth, in the eyes of the woman you love.

Irène

The first thing I noticed was that three of his photos, which I kept framed over the fireplace, were missing. Tristan was sitting comfortably on the couch, watching a very exciting game of snooker on TV.

‘Do you happen to know where the pictures over the fireplace are?’

‘In the fireplace.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘I burned them. I didn’t like how I looked in them.’

‘I hope you’re not serious.’

‘I am.’

He continued to sit there, with his eyes glued to the screen.

‘That’s ok. I can print them out again. I have them on my laptop and on CDs. I also have them on a memory stick, I have enough copies. But it will cost us about £15.’

He didn’t say anything, he just sipped from the coffee cup on the table and fluffed up the cushion behind his back. The folder in which I kept all his photographs was empty. A shiver ran through me. What if! I rushed to the drawer where I kept my CDs, but I couldn’t find the ones with the pictures of him. And the album I had brought from his mother’s house had also disappeared. I checked the memory stick too, although things were fairly clear.

‘Tristan!’

He wasn’t going to justify his actions. I didn’t need to rummage through the dumpster in the street, because the garbage men had already emptied it. I burst into tears, rushed over to him and started hitting him, enraged. He threw me on the couch and immobilized my hands. He started kissing me savagely, believing he could calm me down, but I continued crying.

‘That boy in the photos was my soul! And yes, I love him, I love him. Precisely because you don’t care about him, because you consider him dead, you had no right to touch the photos! I need memory to be able to love, to be able to understand something from this life, to be able to motivate myself enough to move day by day. We’re not all as enlightened as you, as adapted to living only in the present.’

‘You love a fucking ghost,’ he told me, in a harsh voice that I hadn’t known until then.

‘You’re just as much of a ghost as him… In a month from now, none of your cells will be the same,’ I told him, just as cruelly.

I was sorry for it. In the end, he was right. I apologized, kissed his hands and placed them on my chest, crushing my lips on his, but I felt him absent.

Norman

Irène has begun to feel the pressure of his age on her, that’s what she told me. “If I could give him 10 of my years! Or at least grow old myself!” She’s in a crisis in which she perceives the passage of time almost physically. She’s started to go to the gym, to run, to strain herself, as if she could fortify him by acting on her own body or make conservation efforts for him, since his health is pretty feeble after the years of excesses he has subjected his body to. I won’t go into details.

I picked her up from the gym one day. She looked exhausted and was very thin, her cheeks had become as hollow as his. She had dark circles around her eyes and a distraught look. She told me passionately about a new series of paintings that Tristan was thinking about. I watched her gesticulate and utter the words in a manner very similar to his and I was afraid for her. I had hoped that, after knowing Tristan better, her frenzy would die down, but things evolved in the opposite direction. What followed was a failed act on my part, it was the worst possible moment to let her know that I was jealous. And I really wasn’t, I just wanted to understand, so I asked her some questions. She didn’t intend to live peacefully in a beautiful and stable couple life, but boil over, be devoured by obsession, intoxicated.

‘I too am a sort of Tristan who needs to walk on tall roofs and make moral leaps in order to feel alive. I was a child in the ‘90s, I know very well what a free runner is, I grew up in contact with that spirit. You have no idea how much I looked up to those guys!’

‘That’s crazy!’

‘Yes, Norman, it’s crazy.’

‘So that’s it? That’s what love is to you? An extreme sport?’

‘How you love to give definitions!’

‘I understand that you admire acrobats… Unfortunately, your extreme sport is not exactly compatible with his desire to run,’ I told her, bitterly.

I remembered having read in a book, the author of which I don’t remember, that you can’t fall in love with a tangible man. How can you crave for what you have? Passion draws its juices from absences, from conflict, it’s a painful inflammation of an absence. And pain is precisely what keeps the flame alive.

Irène

Norman doesn’t understand, he doesn’t realize. I am a lot like Tristan. I know very well the fogs of melancholy that his wanderlust erupts from. When I was in Brussels, and even during the first years of marriage, I always had the impression that reality wasn’t alive enough. That I was living at a periphery of the world and I had to do something to move from it towards the center. I would have liked to reach the same intensity I lived at in the depth of my loneliness or when I painted, as in the tangible reality. You imagine things at a temperature that you would like to live at and you believe that you are wasting yourself and dissipating in an anodyne decorum. That’s the feeling.

When I returned from faculty, I used to take a bus that came at precise hours of the day. When I got on it, they were already on the bus, propped against the rear window: a boy and a girl. They never sat down. He leaned against the window at the back of the bus and stared into space, and she stood with her face buried in his chest. Their bodies seemed to be welded together and have only one face: his. I got on and off before them and that’s why I never managed to see the girl’s face, and the matter intrigued me. I tried to guess it and one day, I painted it. A few months later, I saw them on the street and almost fainted, that’s how shocked I was at discovering that in reality, the girl looked very similar to how I had imagined her. Of course the phenomenon was easily explainable: I had scraped up a female portrait, derived from his features. But I thought there was something more to it: a law of nature, an algorithm of instinct that made people who were predestined to form a couple resemble each other, in the essence of their features and expressions…

Norman

I don’t know what Irène was imagining, what she had hoped, what she had thought she could do. As soon as he started selling paintings and having some success, things went down the predictable path. Tristan began to disappear little by little. Each day, he was a bit more absent.

‘Where are you going?’

‘Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon… You shouldn’t panic.’

But she knew something was up.

He had begun to spend nights away from home, and she didn’t dare call him out on it. She would have only driven him further away, if she had. He would probably have suggested that they break up. She popped Xanax to be able to find some peace and rest. She could only sleep naturally in his arms. If she had to spend the night alone, she had anxiety fits or insomnia. She had begun to drink almost daily, although she didn’t even like alcohol and became tipsy after the first glass…

***

Irène learned to fight for love, she learned to keep him in check, to make him live under the impression that she was detached, that she had other prospects, she learned to obtain what made her happy and brought him into his state of levitation, namely his desire… If she proved short-spoken, he would begin to fear that he was losing her, it was a concern that brought his desire to the brink of incandescence. “We’ll only see each other if you can’t bear not to, otherwise we won’t”… and she pretended she could bear it.

In reality, Irène didn’t learn anything, Irène only imagines she has learned, she hopes she knows how to keep him in check, but he is toying with her, he gives her the illusion that she controls things from the shadows, but he knows very well the state of tension she is in for the two weeks during which she disappears… and he pretends to be worried by her anxiety.

He undresses her with swift and slightly aggressive gestures, two buttons burst from their tags, the silk of the blouse rips loudly. He holds her wrists in his hands and looks at her relentlessly. He only touches her after a while, running the tip of his tongue over her burning skin. He knows how to intensify her sensations. That’s what he did to all women: he found their weak spots and insisted on them, making them the prisoners of relishes that he could induce and control as he pleased.

‘And all of them dreamt of stopping him from his mad rush towards who knows what. Maybe except Beth, who was more excited by the applause,’ Norman warned her.

***

‘Irène, let it go!’

Irène looks despondently at Norman. She chokes on her words, opens her mouth trying to utter a phrase, but only disarticulated sounds emerge to the surface.

She was obsessed by a movie in which the characters are accidentally trapped on a giant spaceship that takes them further and further away in time and space from the planet that the center of their world is in. They have no control over it. On the day Irène was born, they were both in the center of the world, Tristan was feeling like a perfectly tuned instrument and ready to overcome the noise of the world, and the great adventure was beginning for her. Irène thinks about how they are both driven by a dark force further and further away from the initial moment, when they were at the center of the world. Then, all paths were possible, for each of them. Tristan could have gone down another path then. Or not?

‘Admit it, Norman, you love him too,’ she barely uttered. ‘We have the same problem, you and me.’

‘I have children, Irène, I have a family. A wife that I adore. We don’t have the same problem.’

***

Even Tristan’s mother called her, to confirm what Norman had said:

‘You’re a fool. You think that I didn’t try? That other women didn’t love him? That you are the only one?’

fragments from the novel The Black Box

Midsummer desert dream

Midsummer desert dream
(poem)

 

The only man who ever said to me “You’re beautiful”

saw me as a slut with unexplored potential.

I went with him of course; even ugly women

yearn to be told they are beautiful,

even as they pretend to struggle for truth, justice & other Gods.

 

He saw a genuine slut in me, good for instruction

he asked me with much tact and grace: May I hurt you?

I said Yes

You’re so beautiful with all of these bruises!

May I cut a finger from your right hand?

I told myself: a finger is not a big deal, I will quickly learn to manage with only four

I agreed, and he exclaimed: you’re unbelievably beautiful with this generosity of yours

and he cut my finger

I thanked him with a gnash
May I chop your hips? Of course

The pain, he said, made me more and more beautiful and attractive

May I take out one of your eyes?

I hesitated a bit, I was not concerned about my eyesight, but I feared that the mutilation would make me ugly
but what are two superb eyes, two perfect hands, the most sensual carnation, the finest skin good for

in a world wherein nobody sees you and tells you: you’re beautiful?
He saw me

I could have listened to him breathing even with a single ear

I could have caressed his tensed temples with only one hand

I could have sniffed his smell of animal in heat with a single nostril

 

He was determined to take his trophy out of me

I consented to everything

I let him haggle my tights, my womb, my arms

while doing these he never ceased telling me how beautiful I was

The blood fits you so well, my slut!

May I cut your heart in two pieces?

He asked me this with the smoothest and warmest voice like a true gentleman

I said yes

Without any shade of regret

He went away

And I remained with only one half of my heart

With a life split in two pieces

But this is not the worst
What I hoped for was that he would have killed me

That’s the truth

I don’t care about the wounds

They will heal
The worst thing is that I should return to a place

Filled up with wonderful, well behaved men,

Who think only in the highest respect about me

Men that would never hurt me, not even with a gun pointed at their heads

Men descended from contemporary fairy tales

That never told me and will never tell me

You are beautiful

Reeducation / The intruder

Reeducation

No, ma’am, I didn’t do anything wrong
this must be a mistake,
I’m sure there was some misunderstanding
I was the best of all good Samaritans
I faithfully served both gods and humans
I don’t belong in the reeducation ward
please check the registry books
it must be a mistake
I haven’t shed one drop of blood from anyone
all I did was clean wounds, wash the shadows of the floors as I was told to do
I haven’t committed any errors
I’ve guarded the windows against the invasions of migratory birds
I’ve timed the heartbeats of soldiers and dreamers, following superiors’ indications
I’ve done my duty
I haven’t cheated, I haven’t missed one challenge
I’ve climbed all one thousand steps I had to climb
I didn’t even dare yearn after the great illusions
freedom, truth or love
please believe me

everyone says the same, the she-devil snapped at me,
you all act the innocent
I’m sure that at least once you thought that you could break the rules
I’m sure it crossed your mind that you could open the window and let the flock of birds run wild
I’m sure you cheated when counting the stairs
I’m sure you’ve abandoned a shadow on a wall somewhere
or at least thought about it.

The intruder

An animal of an archaic species has turned my body into its den,
You know the type of invisible animal that only appears dressed as a human
At first I thought it was harmless
I even found it nice, since it used to hum in the evenings, before going to bed
exalted songs that resembled German marches
When I went out it would tickle me and make me laugh precisely when I needed to be serious
Or it would push me through the door, compelled by implacable necessities, precisely when a distinguished contemporary man was beginning his speech
But I didn’t mind because I liked the way it sang
After about a year of cohabitation it caught a cold and started to belt out vulgar choruses like a drunken sailor
I thought it would get over it, but each day it would sing even more out of tune and mockingly, I even believed it was doing it on purpose
When I pointed that out and told it to build a lair in another individual
As a protest, it began singing like a deportee in the Siberian wilderness
And it went on like that for a long time
It wouldn’t let me sleep until I took on all its sorrow
I started to pressure it into leaving me
I dragged it to conferences, I closed it up inside libraries, I kept it in front of the TV
Any animal would give in under such circumstances
But that animal that had taken shelter inside me held on, it bore through everything singing romances, which drove me crazy,
Until one day when, exasperated, I gave up and told it
You can do whatever you want with this body, it’s yours, I’m giving it to you
And then, overjoyed for getting rid of me,
It began singing in my very own voice,
A divine music, nothing less than Schubert.

 

good manners

To be always reliable, to fall on your feet, to be generous but modest and, meanwhile, to be aware of your strengths and special qualities, to be always sincere, to never let yourself humiliated, but to never offend another with your pride, not to lose your temper, to be honest in all circumstances, to be in charge but never patronizing, to talk moderately, to make yourself clear in essential matters without expecting the other to acknowledge what you find essential, but to treasure your values and, meantime to consider them relative, to love with devotion and dedication without neglecting your own person, to have courage, to never lie to yourself, to be inspired, to dream big, but to be always realist and well grounded, to never betray anything of what and who you are as if you would perfectly know who you are and who you’re meant to be forever and ever, in other words not to change, to be consequent, but to keep evolving, to never contradict yourself, to be responsible and enthusiast in everything you enterprise, to fully enjoy life, to take it seriously, but without losing your sense of humour, to tell only the truth, without exposing yourself, to be cautious and very mature, all these atrocious imbecilities and precious contradictory advices are stuffed on our throat with the hose, with the funnel, are sowed in our heads with the trumpet, are stuck in our brains with the hammer since we are little children; we are fed with this junk-mental-food continuously and everywhere: in schools, in public reunions, in conferences, in churches, in social groups, at every corner of the street; this kind of stinky “wisdom” is the elixir we are injected with from the birth of our consciousness, we can recognize its stench in the kind advice of the old virgins, in the deadly boring conversations with the neighbours, in the discourses of the television gurus, in the best sold magazines, in the priests’ jabber, amen.

Nude

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Dressed up, nothing happens.
People touch the others dressed in armors.
They crush into each other like electric cars in a Luna park.

If one wants to do it in a fur coat it makes no sense
If she believes that pride turns her forehead into gold it makes no sense
If he thinks he is smart because he reads books, he better goes read more

That thing doesn't happen because one invokes it
It doesn't happen because he deserves it
Or for a specific reason

It happens if and only if one is ready to undress completely
In front of another who is also naked

That thing cannot be arranged or demanded, cannot be provoked
It happens after one has given up to all jewelries
all the scaffolding all the ornaments

And it happens simply
by itself
As it happens the dusk
or fall of the leaves

Essential matters

 

Stefan Caltia

Let’s wear only skins made of deep longing
And never tell long stories with big punt
Let’s be the sense-free sailors of becoming
The fools that prophets mock with every bunt

There is no room for battles between us
No place for glamour or for desert freedoms
Only for quietness, for fire, for rain’s fuss
And for the haunting sound of waves

The world should not get close to our grove
There is no place for trades no time for noise
No lover needs to understand what’s love
No happy fellow claims the right of choice

The city wants to speak its rampant grief
In my own tongue, while piercing through my chest
But I won’t carry on a false relief
I keep the silence, like under arrest

It makes no sense invoking the mistrust
The disappointment or the tempting face
Of all those things that turn next day to dust
There is no point in naming the disgrace

I leave the words unspoken, place for vows
So that the wind to pierce though their muteness
And to be heard while opening the windows
Maples’ growth to be seen with clearness

Only essential matters, I’m asking willingly
He took the tea? what does he mean by “tie”
How is he dressed, his beard has grown wildly
The light of sunrise ever made him cry?