“Live! And have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”
“Live! And have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”
freedom will teach you how
to stay in all new ways.
January 10, 2020
I do realize that documenting this arctic time is to my benefit, and I’m alone in this house. My house is full of windows. During the day it is flooded with natural light. I don’t use any candles until about 5:30 pm and I am grateful for that but the storm has turned. The sky is gray, nearing black and it is only, I guess based on instinct, eleven am. I want to hide from my street so I close my curtains off and on all day. Frankly, this signals anxiety but I am a hidden moon and my neighbors are obtuse. I conserve sometimes, when I feel adequate, I am able to conserve.I have lit only what I needed. I am quite panicked and terrified to talk to my neighbors or go outside after the riot. I read, and this is before my phone died, that riots had broken out all over the city and tons of stores were looted at once. I really missed my chance. I pace now, eager to connect, frightened by the sky. Turn to my cat licking herself on the floor, her leg raised and pointed mid pirouette. She has already adjusted to the nightmare.
I peek out the window to see my neighbors gathering. They will knock. They will check on me. I have not said a word to anyone since I moved here but they will knock. I peek, I see them, their bomber jackets and beanie hats and strong accents. That’s how I identify breeds. They are wearing Eagles jackets, two of them, and Eagles hats. I giggle and turn to look at Genevieve.
“Get in my truck, I’ll take ya, Jim.”
“We gotta go down to Bob’s first, alright?”
“Well, they have a back up generator. Him and Margie, they are set, they can ride this out. I gotta go check on Mom and Bob and then you wanna go check on your Moms too. She’s where? Wynnefield? I don’t mind.”
The doors open and shut so the voices become muffled quickly. They are yelling right outside my window. I see the red pickup parked neatly to the curb right outside my house and shut the curtains. I snicker some more at their caricatures, unfettered for a moment, feeling almost light enough to open the door and say “Hey! Remember when we didn’t riot for the super bowl! Now’s our chance!” I’m so close to doing this that my left index finger is actually grazing the chilled brass knob. My hips are turning toward the exit. I am almost reaching their conviviality through this wall. But I turn towards the table where my phone sits instead, lifeless. If it was powered on what would I do differently? I linger there, listening to the engine start, to their friendly bickering, their unctuous need to help each other. I am staring at my phone. I am turned towards the front door but looking back at my dead phone. I am feeling a dull sensation in my hand. I am feeling the constant callous on my palm with the right index fingernail as my hands are curled in, balled into fists and my own nails are poking the skin. Without realizing it, I had been clutching the curtain at the bottom and have balled it up into my fist. I release and watch the wrinkles set. Another problem. Hear the gravel under the tires and the pause, the gravel again, the pause, the steady whirr of the engine and the radio suddenly click on loud as the two men leave me. A radio. Those city sounds you get used to: how you know a car is backing up, then turning the wheel, then backing up over the gravel, then the pause before the final execution. The radio. The battery.
Still near the front door, I am waiting for something. I am squinting to feel it, remembering there is a flashlight in the basement. My head is facing the floor and I am seeing it, buried in a box, a white box that says “misc” in my child’s handwriting on it. There were no batteries in it.
That’s why it’s in the basement. Turning suddenly, I nearly step on Genevieve’s tail but hop over it using the wall to steady myself and begin humming; an old habit. Genevieve quickly joins the dance. We skate over the hardwood floor on my way to take a final inventory of the kitchen. She prances behind me and under me meowing for food. I am humming and looking at her, beaming. We have already adjusted to the nightmare.
January 9 2020
What I do in my own leisure is nobody’s fucking business.
I drew flames coming out of a window. I don’t remember what I drew first: the flames or the window.
January 8 2020
I take inventory: four cans of wet food, almost to the bottom of the dry cat food, one half bag of litter. I have water, gas, just no electricity. I have two bananas, one soy yogurt, a cup full of oatmeal, a handful of raisins, three cans of tuna, some frozen broccoli, brussel sprouts and flounder, and a few smoothie mixes. I have popcorn kernels and coconut oil and tons of seasoning. I have tons of beans but unfortunately, most dry that I have to soak which I decide to do now. I had just gotten one of those long lighters and begin to light the burner.
It’s 6:16 and I still have no power. I can’t charge my phone so I am trying not to use it. The entire city is out but so is the majority of the East Coast. I must have misread the earlier reports. The northeastern seaboard was sparking like we were and now they are saying it’s the entire coast. I should have gotten more cat food. This is a good lesson in selected starvation. At varying times in my life, I was able to restrict my food intake due to financial circumstances.
“At least I’ll lose weight.”
I have candles but I should get more. I have fifteen blankets. For now, a gratitude list: gas, water, Genevieve, cat food, a transmutable God I cling to.
January 7, 2020
Right before it hit, I was at my most lucid.I had begun guessing with a 98.5% accuracy. I knew I was off about a couple of things but I felt secure in what I did know, and next to my scrawled sequoia, I began to list them:
1.The bugs that had descended the trees had all frozen so I didn’t have to worry about killing them.
2. The power was out on almost every block.
3. I use intimidation as a tactic to seize opportunity.
this is your death stroll,
you used to dress up for it,
now you take it as it comes,
easy, waiting but
The news told me that everyone was having trouble with their power and that it would be on soon. The news reports stated that they were “working on it.” I had power. I turn the corner to go to Target deciding it’s time to get some things, whatever I could carry. Eidetic memories require a visceral experience to later recall. So when I feel the drop in stomach later, I remember the black street and the way I turned left with optimism, which is my usual manner of going to the store. Later, when my chest tightens, I can also recall how the entire complex was black, guarded by police and it appeared from a distance that they were turning people away.
Unthwarted still and with need, I tucked my hands in my pockets and kept going. It was twenty six degrees and I had to get cat food and some basics: soy milk, oatmeal, some fruit, maybe some more beans. My hood and hat were on and my scarf was tied around my face so things were obscured. Today was windy and the wind cut and whistled and masked things. I kept my head down but I heard them. I heard shouting. I neared and I saw mobs of people then. Where I had just seen a few, I saw mobs of people and tons of police cars. I heard shouting, “batteries.” This was no gallivant. I heard “fuck you.” I need cat food. I heard “water.”
I decided to turn back heading towards the center of city. Later, when I hear the car backfire, I will recall how fast I can run even though I always say my knees hurt. I will recall the thrum in my palms as the surrounding area begins screaming. I will recall the way you only know what something is by context. Sound is deceiving. When I hear the car backfire, I will remember the way I knew the difference by how many times a gun can be fired without stopping.
January 6 2020
Impenetrable. Impervious. Caged. Restless. Irritable. I found my high school journal. I am scared to open it.
Last night I dreamt you bit the head off a blue jay and spit it back into its nest. When I asked why, you said “to prove you will never leave me.”
I know from social media that the power went out in Center City for a few hours. It’s 28 degrees today and a storm is coming. I think I read the power was out in neighborhoods in North Philly and have been for 24 hours. I begin to draw my plans to New Orleans. I still have power and my cat is purring next to me.
Oh, abandoning. Not abandoned but abandoning. What’s the word for that? Detached.
Detached. Fervid. Dry. Optimistic, anyway. I draw a picture of a happy cat’s face and close the journal. I open my food log: oatmeal with raisins and maple syrup, one cup of coffee with soy milk, probiotic drink w spirulina and aloe vera powder, homemade alkaline bean stew, two bananas and preparing to eat more stew with popcorn as snack.
I add: today is a healthy day. I feel jovial without affectation to match.
January 5 2020
(no journal entry)
I have drawn hearts all over the page instead and have no recollection of breakfast.
I am superstitious and clerical, sorting and moving objects all over the house for better symmetry. I make use of corners by building shrine. My therapist would like me to note that I spent the previous night, stoned, standing in front of corners beckoning my imagination to leave. Holding my arms out as if to stay stop, I whispered to the night, “go.” I did this to each corner of the house, pausing longer near the basement and kneeling in front of any mirror. Go. These are the things my therapist wants me to write in the journal. These are not the things I am concerned about. I brought my notebook in once to show her how scattered it was.
“December 18, 2019,” I begin. “I took a bath and now I feel fine. My impulses have lessened. I am not hungry and have no desire for food.”
“I told you my journaling is unreliable.” I open the book towards her to show her. “It’s full of trees.”
And it was: fine tipped black marker trunks with no tops lined the two pages creating a design that wove through the paper.
“I call them borders.”
I begin the decluttering as I do every quarter. I accumulate, even if it’s wasteful plastic garbage. I use some of it, lose some of it, abandon projects, shove them somewhere in a closet or a drawer or under the bed and then begin the slow dismantling;the huge purge from the slow binge. It’s not that I don’t have focus, it’s that my attention is divided. I want to do everything. But I cannot stand having too many things for too long. They must be replaced with different things. I combine two open tubs of blue glitter and spill some on the floor.
I have let things get too far. I have moved into an entire house with this traveling Crayola theater. In this box, glitter, tons of it, inexplicably, tissue paper, stencils, the ink to go with it, stickers, ribbon, lace, so many things and I am remembering.
I have come down with a case of fatigue in the middle of everything. When people say the artists work is reflective of the artist, why won’t anyone glue all my parchments to a wall and let the audience figure it out themselves? I just love to stop.
I read a note out loud to myself:
everything that is really hard
is going to save your life
and a blackbird landed on the branch
outside my living room
still, their eyes small and
waiting to dive,
waiting for the buzz of cicadas
to start again.
that reminds me,
I say in my head,
I take a sip of water.
starved from the looking
without touching and
I want too much
has many meanings.
I read the words aloud again
and pour myself a thimble
i begin to charm him,
untie a ribbon from her
rib cage and kneel,
tie his wrists together
and lick his inner thigh.
and then you become the
and I become
the looming hit.