Dying

But let me have this letter, containing nothing but your love; and tell me that you give me your lips, your hair, all that face that I have possessed, and tell me that we embrace – you and I!

O God, O God, when I think of it, my throat closes, my sight is troubled; my knees fail, ah, it is horrible to die, it is also horrible to love like this! What longing, what longing I have for you!

I beg you to let me have the letter I ask. I am dying.

Farewell.

Alfred de Musset

01 September 1834

Precipice

Staring into
a black abyss,
scared to fall,
still jumping in,
never thought
to dream of
this,
feel him move
when gravity 
shifts

He was the 
one exception,
standing on
a precipice,
every bone 
in my body
trying to 
hold back
the wind

Unraveling threads
from the web
I weaved,
walking along
the edge
on the Cliffs
of Insanity

Hiding behind
pretty words
with a face
that would
terrify the
world

Smothered the flames
of infatuation,
took the journey
before I had
a destination

Eviscerated 
every thought,
every memory
from my mind
suggesting
an alternate 
ending

Hanging off
the side 
of a precipice,
feel the rock
crumbling, 
slipping
right through
my fingertips. 

Love by Another Name

Two people you love are hanging off the side of a cliff. Who do you save?

Easy: I let go.

Not Clamence! This man is close enough to see the “cool and damp” neck of a woman dressed all in black staring at the river, hears the sound of a body striking water, and keeps walking.

It’s a metaphor for love, of course; it’s remarkable how often love and death coincide. I’m reading The Fall by Albert Camus and he’s drawing the boundaries around a definition of love from his perspective and experience.

Nobody is born knowing how to love. Growing up, my parents showed love by feeding me, clothing me, and keeping a roof over my head. When my ex-fiance kicked me out and I showed up at their door, they closed it in my face. I was forced to rearrange my own definition of love and face a truth I wasn’t ready to accept.

While heartbreak is universal, not all love is created equal. Camus (as Clamence) says:

“Some cry: ‘Love me!’ Others: ‘Don’t love me!’ But a certain genus, the worst and most unhappy, cries: ‘Don’t love me and be faithful to me!’ Except that the proof is never definitive, after all; one has to begin again with each new person. As a result of beginning over and over again, one gets in the habit. Soon the speech comes without thinking and the reflex follows; and one day you find yourself taking without really desiring…not taking what one doesn’t desire is the hardest thing in the world.”

Love is an ever-evolving concept. The only way I’ve learned how to show love is the same way as my parents showed me: feeding, clothing, and keeping a roof over somebody else’s head. It’s no mystery how three of my own relationships have collapsed. My concept of love dissolved the day a door closed in my face when I needed nothing more than life’s bare minimum to survive.

The only thing I’ve learned about starting over and over again is more about the way I desire myself to be loved, the only kind I’ve read about in books, and not the kind I can give myself. Self-love, for me, is empty and unreciprocated: it is a one-way street, a dead end.

Clamence is a “judge-penitent,” someone who has known love, but only in retrospect. Death is the deepest form of separation to express and properly convey the level of remorse he feels about whatever happened. The details are hardly relevant, not that he did, in fact, check the papers to see if the woman is still alive.

What he attempts to convey is the sense of an irreversible loss, something a better person would learn how to do the next time they are beginning over with someone new. He overcomes the false belief that a “woman who had once been mine could ever belong to another” and learns what belonging really means, that the love he received was taken for granted, not cherished as it should have been.

Now it’s too late because the woman is dead: she will never belong to anyone else ever again.

There’s a tendency to conquer heartbreak by loving the next person harder, instead of differently. Communicating love is an individual act. Heartbreak can become an all-consuming fire in life destroying everything in its path, or it can be a catalyst to do better the next time.

In other words, remorse. Love by another name. As a woman, a series of relationships is a mark against her. For a man, it’s experience. Without starting over, how does anyone learn?

Shakespeare says that a woman may fall when there is no strength in men. Camus shows what strength looks like through his character Clamence by looking back at the life he lived and returning as a judge-penitent, leaving a shining example for someone else to follow.

If there is one thing I’ve never had from a relationship, it’s closure, a definitive reason for why things went wrong. Now the answer to that question is clear as day: they simply don’t know how.

Refrain

Sleepy eyes looking
for yours in a crowded 
room,
making the most
out of what we've been
handed,
reaching for low hanging
fruit

back-to-back, then
in each other's faces,
but we're still standing,
your name right 
next to mine,
if the walls could talk
and the hills had eyes

hearts still still breaking,
cracking under the strain,
hearts worth saving
while we remain the same;
new towns, new places,
a familiar refrain:
when everything changes,
we remain the same.

Limitless

Everything has changed,
even though my hands
still shake,
remember it all
like it was yesterday

no ceiling to stop us,
flying limitless,
needing space to breathe
so we wouldn't suffocate,
memories washed away
with the rain

Explosive emotions
ready to detonate;
every second in heaven
a lifetime on Earth;
ordinary words leaving
scars where they burned
branded on my naked
soul

the games we played 
and the high we chased:
falling fast, falling hard,
falling too late

Quelling a desert thirst,
an endless search
to remain as this
when all we've ever known
was limitless.

Life Cycle

In the Woods

I took him down,
a sinking ship,
a crashing plane;
thought I had everything,
a Phoenix rising from 
the ashes in the flames

Made my bed,
I'll sleep in it,
ran with the wolves,
still feeding them,
Little Red Riding Hood
walking through the
woods alone,
curiosity takes you places
you should never go,
out here on my own

Can't make all I done wrong
make the punishment fit the crime,
thought I did my time,
used to wake up screaming
his name in the middle
of the night

Every day the same,
every day I die,
would have come back 
swinging every time,
but I'm losing the fight

Can't get over what
you don't understand,
can't miss what you 
never had; out in the open,
nowhere to go,
in plain sight,
no place to call home.

Split

He made a heart 
that could break,
gave me something to protect
that wasn't mine to take;
it's a cruel joke
living in a man's world,
two minds living
in a body I call
my own

Tell me what to do
with this body of mine,
punishment for the way
I write,
two sides living
a split life
no where to turn;
it's raining fire and brimstone
on the city tonight,
a comedy threatening
to collapse into tragedy
at any time.

Love Letters

The breeze still stings
where you kissed my cheek,
the ground is still warm
where you buried me

Our talks grew shorter
the more we had to say,
promises for tomorrow
fading into yesterdays

I wrote a dozen suicide notes
masquerading as love letters,
stripped down to the bones
pretending I was getting better

Until I slipped through the cracks,
past the point of no return,
without a way back;
nothing remains to burn

Committed my heart to paper,
scrawls becoming scars across the page,
the sun never coming out until later,
promises for a new day

Lonely hearts in jars,
dreams dashed out on the floor,
too far from home to know
who I am anymore

The language of love letters
tied to a death sentence,
words strung together
with casual indifference

a world too blind to see
what holds me together
ties you to me,
the way you would 
watch me fall asleep
until the only word 
I can cry is: safety,
please

The only place where
I lay my head at night
with secrets too deep to confide,
the world too big,
the lights too bright
for someone like me to hide

Limping home after kicking too hard,
broken bones after falling too far,
pure black fading into the perfect hue,
every inch of my body colored
in the deepest shade of indigo blue

Love letters embedded in fine ink
on my skin of lessons learned
and the life I've lived, 
a whole galaxy 
within a single 
fingerprint.

Noir

Reeled me in
with his movie-
star good looks,
turned my life
black and white
overnight,
a silent film
noir

Tones me down,
removes the color,
takes my breath away,
holds me down,
mutes the sound,
gets me through
the day

A remedy for the impurity
stuck within my soul;
plagued by a world too loud,
he shuts the voices out
when I don't which
way to go.

Riptide

The memories come in so fast
crashing in on me, 
replaying back,
pulling me in with the riptide,
a pirate flag waves in the wind,
there's treachery on the sea

It's a crowded room
with people I've never seen,
objects in motion waiting
for time to freeze;
couple's dance, faces pass,
we're sneaking out the back

He's a renaissance man
with the Midas touch,
everything turns to gold
in his hand; I'm trying
to be the flame, 
not the moth, but 
he's all bite and
no bark

He's driving slow
taking me home,
one hand on my knee,
walks me up to the door,
I'm standing on tiptoe
to kiss him in the dark,
heels have never been
my thing; he's a gentleman
with ideas from another
century, left me standing
there in my skin-tight
jeans

Showed his true face
from the first day; 
it's a new age, 
things will never be the same;
made me a believer,
taught me a language I 
couldn't speak, tore
right through me like
the holes in my jeans

Leaves the room
just to see if I'll follow,
and you know I will; 
waits for me to catch him 
just to tell me to 
hold still...

and you know I will

I'm paying the price
for every woman alive
who killed a man
they couldn't revive,
Ophelia floating on
the riptide

He'll hold me under
until I'm begging
on my knees to hear
those precious words:
you'll never find someone like me

and you know I won't;
I used to wear the crown,
but now I'm the goat

Sharks in the water,
all out for blood, but
he's the only one; I'll
drown before I let 
anyone else take me home

He'll take his time
with the slow burn
until I lose my mind
or get pulled under
with the riptide.

Pinned

Moving through mountains of conviction, 
heaven's mission needed persistence; 
with the face of an angel, 
how could I resist him?

Fire in my veins, 
a flaming arrow falling down from the sky,
the spark in my soul 
ignited by the glint in his eye

He looked so pretty
like a devil in blue,
his smile could Rome,
when I first saw him standing there,
knew I had to get him home

Want him in all the wrong ways,
waiting for the right time and place,
when he tells me he wants to go
someplace we've never been before

Pinned him that night
when he gave me the look,
now his hands are on my side,
he kisses by the book,
fingers moving to my spine,
arms above my head

I think I pinned him right 
'cause he's just my type;
quiets the world until I forget 
it exists; nothing else matters 
when we're together like this.
 

Treasure

My darling Clemmie,

In your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about my having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love…. What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey.

Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and to millions tragic and terrible years?

Your loving husband

Winston Churchill

23 January 1935