I had the great good fortune, apparently, of being a nonentity who did nothing in high school except get bullied. Positive spin, 40 years too late.
shoutout to all the other ex-gifted & talented/honor student/straight a/senior editor/star student/99th percentile/once-creative burn-outs who have, since high school, realized they are truly miniscule fish in a giant, endless ocean, criticized themselves to the point of creative paralysis, and participated in so much self-sabotage they no longer see the point of doing anything at all because they’re just going to ruin it for themselves anyway
this one’s for you
When I look at my old flesh, I give up.
When I feel my old flesh, I stop breathing to see what it feels like.
When I look at pictures of my old flesh, I smile & I guile & I push toward a different edge with the same name.
When my old flesh moves around me, loose while I walk, I try to run.
When my old flesh refuses my command, I sing out loud to escape truth; how truly I have no right to vouchsafe anything to you or them or to us.
When my old flesh, which looks like soft tofu & feels like clean lead, fails my alchemy & denies my vision of mercury, I go to Vulcan & I whisper “Hera wants you,” although it is not true & I am here to stir shit.
I trusted the green wet spring around me. I trusted the dog’s ears, pointed & eager. I trusted the air, washed by rain & suspended clouds. I trusted the lake I could feel, although hidden by real estate. I trusted the phony church bell, amplified to saturate Catholics with Episcopalian woe. I trusted my delicate, handlike feet to feel & speak to the ground. I trusted the calendar date to affirm my aversion for walls. I trusted the hands that made these garments in distress & desperation.
In distress & desperation I obeyed the call of afternoon. I obeyed the defining urge. I obeyed the reluctant animal, her suspicion: how she might be taken. I obeyed my own will, or stubborn resistance, or irrational expectation of prosperity.
Expecting prosperity, the hill starts falling away again toward the lake. At the point of expectation, the dog lifts her nose & smells water for me. At the downward slope of the broken concrete where it tortures my fussy jinxes, at the point we commit to miles not blocks: pain stops. At this point, I feel the dance in my muscles. I feel steps with intent, steps not forced by nowhere to rest.
Nowhere in dark, particular dark under trees never rests. Sound of a rushing stream in city heart. Sound of water lapping anciently, forgetting all somebody’s mothers who died here without word or empire.
(Of things I want to give up in my word empire, articles lead. Discard need to be read or known. No “the” without scare quotes. Or write not to need articles; nobody notices; so trick them.)
Tricking them, bones become irrelevant. Muscles luff in sudden calm. Walking continues in separate branes. Not where I believe I exist, I go colloidal, physical integrity lost. Anonymous as pavement, entropy distributes my effort. Flesh no longer flesh, no personal pronouns apply.
I continue to walk impossibly, dog’s leash loose—still-whole-dog, on-a-mission-dog, let’s-do-this-dog, long-tongued-dog, pretty, healthy-coated, muddy pawed. I follow. She walks what isn’t me.
She only walks to shit next to water.
She shits next to water. Not-me carries shit, cradled as snifter in baby blue plastic, to garbage. Avoids reading note addressed to pet owners. Not that or anything now.
Not me, colloidal-entropy-invisible me, then uphill, then fluids turn me visible. Saliva, sweat, urine. Sounds I make. Words I say, ostensibly to long-tongue-dog. Dance back in muscles, pain returns. Breathing. Knowing flight because I cannot fly.
Photo+text (c) 2013 Lydia Swartz
This is in the top 3 reasons why I abandoned what I can no longer unironically call “journalism.” In my current job as a flack, reuse is a smart strategy. In terms of SEO & yada yada, you could even call it necessary. But it is not journalism.
I beg us all to end the duplicative journalistic practice of “matching.”
Just when I’ve fallen in big, belated, swoony love with Tumblr, I suppose Yahoo is going to fuck it up. Tell me now: Where is the next trough to overfeed my geek-greed?
Sexual Techniques Guaranteed to Work on Me
William S Burroughs me.
Courtney Love me.
Lou Reed me.
Chaz Bono me.
Don’t Lady Gaga me.
bell hooks me.
Don’t Bill Clinton me.
Glenda Jackson Marat/Sade me.
Lotte Lenya Threepenny Opera me.
Roger Corman Little Shop of Horrors me.
Fight Club me.
Never ever Forrest Gump me.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert me.
Rocky Horror Picture Show me.
Pink Flamingos me.
Do not fucking Mrs. Doubtfire me.
John Tavener me.
By all means Arvo Part me.
La Monte Young me.
Please do not Arnold Schoenberg me.
Not finished, not finished, not finished, totally in progress & not done.
Nevertheless (C) 2013 Lydia Swartz