(every death song)

There isn’t much I can say right now, only that I need to write something. Words not winding or aslant will come later. In the meantime, prose poetry.

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In the Hammer’s Wake.

I expected the ocean, the tidepool big as a cauldron full of wyrd that looked down through the earth and showed stars. I expected cobralillies, digesting mnemosynic silver in their freckled pregnant bellies, rimmed ’round the sunken place where the sea ended, rimed in blue frost. I expected that fossegrim fiddling in the briny turmoil and the steel strings wrapped ’round my neck, biting, and the cold salt in my mouth and the confusion over whether it was ocean or blood grown slow in my veins. But I never expected you.

You, terroir and terror, a sheaf of ribs in your hand, red wheat. You trod the seafloor, dense, a dying star.

When mjölnir fell, there was a song. Fiddling and fixenwhine, that golden apple wine of Iðunn, how did you forget? Mjölnir fell and you stood there laughing. I found you down in the ocean, I stood on the rim of Thor’s Well and when the waters receded, there you were, draped in dulse, rust searibbon aflap, your arms aloft, hands open. An octopus and squid had you, asquirm and wrapped ’round your legs, a starfish on your hip, your hair caught up in urchins. You smiled and smelt fled into the antigravity.

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How to Kill a Squirrel

From November, 2015:

Last night on campus I found a squirrel with two broken legs. I was on my bike, ready for another restless night of pacing in and out of Old Nick’s whenever I feel it’s time to head elsewhere or riverward (not that I ever make it to the river; I stop at the trees for something to climb or hold onto or sit under). But I couldn’t keep on. Have you ever seen something crawl on its belly? Not by choice, but because it had no other choice. It is not comfortable. The squirrel’s back legs were limp and splayed; it dragged itself toward the road, belly to wet cement, then gave up and turned for a corner.

My fucking conscience spoke up and I headed to the library for a box, then returned to the squirrel. It hadn’t made the corner. I put it in the box. I don’t know if this was the right thing to do, fuck my conscience, probably it was the wrong thing and anthropocentric, but if I were a squirrel with broken back legs I wouldn’t want to die underfoot near a road. In hindsight, I didn’t do a good thing.

I rode one-handed with a squirrel in a box wrapped in a towel all under one arm, praying the frat boys in their clone suits could hold off their jay walking so I could pass without braking abruptly and having to explain why I was throwing broken-legged squirrels at them. At Old Nick’s, I walked in, I walked out, waiting and winding myself up and chasing dogs off from the squirrel. Then Disemballerina, who were good and what I needed. It felt nice and cathartic and not, to sit on the floor and hide my face and get a hug and a candle from a friend who sat beside me awhile. I panicked in the way I know best (quiet) until the music was over and none of this has anything has anything to do with squirrels, but none of this really does and anyway, I write what I want.

Then the last note and I stood and things were better in the way that cresting a hill and seeing the forest is better, only it’s still far, so you smile and put your head down and keep on. Then I am Skaði. Then shots of icemelt, because that’s what the water at Old Nick’s makes me think of, every time. Then alar, because how can everything be all right and utterly not at the same time, then time dilation and Fae chronology, because in a moment there is every moment from there until another that is white and vodka and linen and birch/birch and goat hide and respite and deltoid, and then even further back (stars, trees, eyes) and then back again.

I suspected the squirrel was dead by then, but I took it up Skinner’s Butte anyway. Really muddy. At the top, I took it from the box; it didn’t move. Dead, almost there. I knew, then, I had been wrong. There is no kindness in intention. I had waited and I was cruel. I opened my knife and spoke to the squirrel. I told it I had no right, I didn’t know what else to do, I’m sorry, I’m nothing and we’re scaled and the choice was never mine. Only then it had to be, because I had gone that far.

After a point I was only talking to delay my hand. I shut the fuck up.

Stabbing is harder than it looks. I need to practice my aim.

I put my knife in the ground, then through the squirrel’s throat slantwise, and the brain was as bright a gray as winter overcast. No blood, so, dead already? I only felt something before I dropped my knife, craven; after that, nothing. Just motion, up down. I laughed, wry, when I had to pry my knife from its skull.

I didn’t bury the squirrel.

After, I watched the stars on my back in the leaves.

Arctic Salvage

Saw two of my favorite bands back-to-back in late September. Day one, I waited against El Corazon’s freshly painted walls, slightly sticky and pungent, the alternate scrape of brick and splinters catching my back. I watched the sky and the planes in it, and waited, and listened to the sound check. Not many people showed up early. More next time, maybe.

That night was Pain of Salvation, of Sweden, of rich and rending and vulnerable music with unbreakable bones. The set they played was good, but cut short by twenty minutes due to…frustrating reasons. It meant they didn’t play anything from their most recent albums, which was a little disappointing; the music on Road Salt I and II makes me feel storm-wrecked and campfire-warmed. But they played well and sweaty, nonetheless, and anyway, I’ve been waiting since I was fourteen to see them, so finally watching them play not a foot from me was a relief. Sometimes release is all you need, and I got a little of that that night (and a hunger), so I’m okay.

The next night was Sonata Arctica of Finland. I’ve seen them six or seven times now, but the show they played on the twenty-fifth felt like one of the best I’ve attended. One of the better shows of my life, too. Even managed to worm my way to the stage’s front and center, despite being too poor to afford VIP tickets. And as usual, I snared my usual drum stick from Sonata’s drummer, Tommy Portimo, which makes that the…sixth? stick he’s handed to me personally, with a thank you. Super nice of him, though I’m forever paranoid of the moment he realizes he’s been handing drum sticks to the same girl every time he’s in Seattle.

The next morning, I was up by 5:30. I had orientation for my grad program five hours south. I photographed my mom’s bacon-lattice masterpieces, packed the houseplant she’d been watching, wrapped Cavan’s breakfast sandwiches, and said goodbye to her and my dad and the evergreens, and damp air that feeds me better than anywhere else.

clocks cut

Sometimes you find that something you love with all your dirt-gritty and blood-gravid heart isn’t universally loved.

Fourteen. I was fourteen when I found my music. Mine and mine and just mine (so you’d think, then, I wouldn’t give a damn about universal adoration–but you know, there’s that whole being human thing, brimming full with logicfuck). Not all the bands from that time survived the course I forged from there to here, but some have. Some I still keep with me, earside, and spine- and bellywards. Pain of Salvation is one of these roadrazers, these unknowing companions (roadrazers), as all bands are (and, somehow, ineffably, aren’t) to the listener.

They:

Viscera. Greencoil. Mosswrecked epiphytic interdependency and knee-plunge and hipclutch. Plunge and batter and rust.

I don’t know how else to verbalize their soundscapes and stories, except with wordstreams like the above. Their music, it’s like kneeling in someone’s chest, stealing their lungs and squeezing the air into your mouth. The taste is seaweed and candlefish all solar-bright and a-flair–salt and oil and ash–and it drips down thick, sick, as any other pearlescent bodily fluid.

But–but I was wondering about the universe, and love. I recently spoke to a friend about Pain of Salvation, and found she isn’t fond of their newer work. Utterly fine. However, it lead me to think–about why Road Salt One and Two rope me in probably harder than any of their previous work.

This is what I wrote, more or less incoherently:

Apparently I have lots of thoughts and feelings about these albums. While Road Salt One does spin a sex-narrative, for me it’s more intensely about the fucked up ways humans catch (fire) against each other, the pain and viciousness and just humanness that ignites when people come in contact. There’s a bonus track that I’m not whole-hardheartedly fond of, but I think its last line sums up one vein of the album:

[And I don’t know where I need to be, but it is not here inside her]

Sometimes sex is the worst answer. The most painful? The least urgent despite all its gravid thrust?

And then, beyond–I think the album is about finding the spinal, self-machinated strength to just fucking trudge on and not letting the bruising and knee-dirt and bed-bow-and-warp keep you from existing in the world, from walking the road. (The songs Road Salt–and Tell Me You Don’t Know–for context seekers.)

But more than any of it, when I listen to Road Salt One, in the context of its it sonic power and musicianship, the thing is…giant. And purgative. Like some sort of wounded animal stranglehold put to music. (Am I somehow implying that strangulation is cathartic? Dunno.)

And then, more intimately, plain, me? I think of the song She Likes to Hide, because I like to hide. And Tell Me Where it Hurts, and Mortar Grind from Road Salt Two, because–just because. (Quiet.)

So on and on.

Listening to songs like Sisters, even after having heard them too-too many times probably than is healthy, the immersion is still…too much? Part of it is just the edgy, doomy subtly of the music (especially in the Leo Margarit’s drumming–not to mention Daniel’s breathwrenching and terribly vulnerable vocal performance on that song) and then, again,

Sisters, Sisters, Sisters. I’ve never been in love with anyone’s sister, yet it. It. It, the song, is oceanic and huge and so so small. The story isn’t mine (but somehow, I don’t know how, it is, it is) chokes me, but beyond that skin, the catharsis is anatomically negating and I can’t help but just sit and sink when that song comes on. I inhabit it?

I change every single fucking time I listen to the Road Salt albums–especially the first. Like I undergo a premature and quick and bloody chrysalis. And when it’s over, though I’m not actually all that different, in the between time, the friction of middle, the heaviness that falls before beginning and after end, in those places, I’m…something else.

And all I know is that I don’t. I just…don’t.

Plan B: Seduce a Warlord

Plan B: Seduce a Warlord

I used to tell myself that art was a good substitute for love.   That if I didn’t find someone, I’d just drum harder and write with blood in my pen.  But on the days I felt particularly hysterical and silly, I promised myself that one day, I’d hunt down Warlord Nygård and make him mine.

This man:

warlord

(gif pillaged from dontpokethewarlord)

So, let’s cut this loose.  Much like a tent spelled with an Undetectable Extension Charm, the psychological space that got me to this point is much larger on the inside than it appears from the outside looking in–mostly because I’m great at making like a black hole and squishing myself into small spaces the density of me really has no business being in in the first place.

Interrogation time.  Why him?  Because I’ve only ever been attracted to musicians.  Also, I spent hours  running through the woods, listening to the songs he spawned with Turisas.  Because, after all, you make deep bonds with the music you listen to while your pulse runs in cut time.

Also, it gave me something to laugh (hysterically) at whenever I felt alone and emotively deprived.  Too shy to open your mouth and say I like it when you sing, it’s like your voice is crawling up my spine?  That’s fine.  At least you’ve got the guts to crawl into bed with that bloody-faced warlord!

And this is the truth: I am shy, and unbearably feral, all at once.   I may seem cold, but really, I’m just getting out of the way, and once, on a switchback somewhere in the Cascades, it probably looked like I was smelling a bunch of fiddleheads–but no.  I was saying goodbye.

Ekphrastic 19/Sisters, Pain of Salvation (Sean Thomas covers)

Mead-for-blood lurks
underskin
winefloods in your eyes.

Voice, your song
in my throat long after
the leaves, the snow, the saplings
have filled, chilled, greened
your footprints.

……………………………………

I’ve been in love with a song, a long time now. And then I found this cover:

and knew I had to respond.  The original still chills and pains me more, but Thomas’s gets me further in the gut.  Each to its own.

Previous ekphrastic: Ekphrastic 18/Fudoki

and

What the hel is ekphrasis + Ekphrastic Poetry Archive (For poems about A Game of Thrones, anime, music, The Hunger Games, Blood Meridian, etc–basically, just the stuff to fulfill your brain’s literary sugar-cravings.)

bones are instruments, too

bones are instruments, too

Six months ago, I cut out my heart and left it five hundred miles to the west. Why do this? For school, for love–for all the best reasons. You leave home to find who you are, even if you already know yourself.

And I know myself. As much as an ‘I’ can know a ‘self.’

Searching for yourself is like looking for the house you stand in
How could you possibly find it?
It’s everywhere
It’s all you know
And there are no other points of reference

[ripped from Pain of Salvation‘s Diffidentia]

There’s something to be said for stepping outside your self, your comfort–the place, the home, you known yourself best in.

But sometimes, I blink and look around at these hills like dirty teeth and I feel gut-sick. Where are my ferns? My moss? My green ocean, my silver sky-bruises, my my my–mine. This place isn’t mine and my marrow knows it. Even the people here, they can tell I’m not meant for this place.

I try to be mindful about it all, exist in the moment. This piece of planet is no less than the one I spilled out on, twenty three years ago. So find something to love about it. Make it hard to let go, when goodbye arrives. Make the parting bloody–because I know I’ll be grinning when it comes.

bones are instruments

many things hanging from my skull

I think I’ve mentioned before my desire for multiple arms. But if I’m being allowed extra anatomy, I think I’ll go with a whole other body.

SO MANY THINGS. I finished a book three months ago, started another a few days later. 50,000 words on that one now. It’s called Fable and is currently hanging. I put it on the hook myself, because that’s what I had to do. Not what I wanted–what I had to. (Because I’m only one body.) I’ll be in the studio recording drums for Moss of Moonlight’s EP at the end of the month and while I’m capable of working full time, writing a book and making an album, I know that stretching myself to ghost-thinness makes for piss-quality art.

So–a breath. I sink into the body I do have.

I wanted to finish Fable by December’s end. No.  Ha.  At December’s beginning, I jammed it’s neck on that hook (books can survive such things) and told it to stay put until the new year. January means my drums for the EP will be writ in digital stone and I can focus on simple things like vocals and aux percussion. Leaving me enough time to finish writing the book by the end of the month.

Don’t ask me where I found the time for these words. I should be practicing blast beats. Or sleeping (because tomorrow I’m getting no sleep, because, you know, THE HOBBIT).

Ekphrastic 16/Remedy Lane

Ekphrastic 16/Remedy Lane

In my hermitage this backwards road is my bed
the place I occupy in dreams
a skull sloshing ocean
bone-scalped, sometimes
dirt stains like anti-matter.
My mane of fern and chain.
My tincture my heritage
it makes my throat glass see

what I swallow:

tree-girls and rope-makers

I have chainsaws for teeth.

……………………………….

 

(Road Salt is not on the album Remedy Lane, but still.  It’s Pain of Salvation, and it relates.)

……………………………….
[Ekphrasis is art in reaction to art. Basically. And I don’t think about the art I consume enough. And I haven’t been writing poetry as much as I should. So every Friday, I’ll post an ekphrastic poem about whatever art I’ve been eating lately (books, poetry, anime, paintings, films, so on).]

Ekphrastic Poetry Archive

Ekphrastic 15/gored

Ekphrastic 15/gored

[currently on-submission]

……………………………….
[Ekphrasis is art in reaction to art. Basically. And I don’t think about the art I consume enough. And I haven’t been writing poetry as much as I should. So every Friday, I’ll post an ekphrastic poem about whatever art I’ve been eating lately (books, poetry, anime, paintings, films, so on).]

Ekphrastic Poetry Archive:

Ekphrastic 1/RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne

Ekphrastic 2/Blood Meridian

Ekphrastic 3/The Walking Dead

Ekphrastic 4/ A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords

Ekphrastic 5/Sextraterrestrial

Ekphrastic 6/Andrej Pejic

Ekphrastic 7/A Study in Aphroxology

Ekphrastic 8/雲のむこう、約束の場所 (The Place Promised in our Early Days)

Ekphrastic 9/Breaking Bad

Ekphrastic 10/The Hunger Games

Ekphrastc 11/Jessica Naomi

Ekphrastic 12/The Fifth Element

Ekphrastic 13/Redline

Ekphrastic 14/Beasts of the Southern Wild