Public figures like to make announcements when their marriages end.
We never released a public statement,
But if we did I think it would read like this:
We regret to inform you
That we aren’t perfect.
We tried for ourselves
and those around us,
but Jon Lennon lied, love isn’t all you need.
· A Delorean
· Better Role Models
· Better Families
· Better Jobs
· A Bigger Apartment
· An Anchor Baby
· Less Anchor Pets
· More Anchor Plants?
· A Clean Slate
but honestly, we made it out fine,
worry about your own relationship.
I woke up half drunk.
My breath could start a fire
If I stood too close to a flame.
I stumbled awkwardly over area rugs
Navigating dog toys and household debris like land mines.
I bathed in coffee and cornbread,
Haphazardly washing the previous night out of me.
I went to work in the clothes I was in,
Hoping no one would notice I slept in them.
I threw up on my keyboard
And fell out of my chair onto the office floor.
I was never this person,
So tightly wound I could never tolerate the thought
of letting anyone down, let alone myself,
But these days I am looser, calmer, more relaxed.
Instead of going into a panic,
I left the vomit on my keyboard and no one seemed to notice.
“Welcome to the club,” said their silence,
“You are forgiven.”
Predator / Prey
Every day on my commute in to work
I see the same hawk perched atop a lamppost
surveying the asphalt for the carcasses of smaller animals,
who by some act of hubris or confusion or possibly both
decided to risk their lives for the sake of food or shelter.
The hawk arrogantly allows decades of automotive technology to do the work for it.
It benefits from the grueling research and test trials over years and years,
aimed to create the perfect product.
It doesn’t deal in the trauma of cracking of the skull,
The mess of draining of blood,
Or the intimacy of the final few minutes it takes for the brain to seize.
It just gets the end result, a perfect dish it didn’t have to create.
Lately when I see the hawk, I find myself hoping for its demise.
I fantasize that it will swoop down for a second bite of its ready made meal
and get smashed by the same deadly weaponry it uses to feed itself.
Then again, in more rational moments not plagued by my indignation,
I realize justice is saved for the human world in court rooms and law offices.
The animal kingdom isn’t fair and we have been conditioned to feel sorry for the weak.
Can the hawk really be blamed for the choice of a small invertebrate,
not known for their decision making skills,
to act upon impulse rather than logic?
Do you think Pangaea realized it was being slowly ripped apart?
Or did it simply wake up one day and realize it was torn, divided into little bits?
Even if it was aware I doubt it had the foresight to see it turning into a global Babylonia
Each little mass of itself fighting in tongues
No other land could understand.
Did it hurt more when it realized it was breaking apart,
Or when it realized it was already too late
and all it could do was watch itself float off
with no possibility of ever being whole again?
I’m not sure what month, or day, or time it is, I just know I have been here for quite a while. I feel my back creak from lack of use as I shift my weight back and forth on an old sofa that now has a perfect imprint from so much time spent sitting in one place. This intensely dark room with an old projector casting dull, dancing images onto a blank white wall has become my new home. It is eerily quiet with no sounds except for the whistling of what seems like a never ending film reel churning through old spools.
This prison is where I have been confined, partly by trial and partly on my own accord. A crime I turned myself in for, and a punishment I didn’t fight. My eyes feel dry as they stare intently upon the whirling images, and I’m not sure I have even blinked once, although my memory is bad and under the circumstances fully unreliable. I haven't eaten in god knows how many days, and the hunger infects my senses, deteriorating my sense of time, but somehow leaving in tact my visual and emotional ability to process events.
These images are not random. It is quite the opposite. They are images of my life; more specifically, my relationship with my wife. Some of the footage is old from when we were together, some current depicting our tragic breakup, and some of the future I have inferred, pulled from my brain and cast onto film as if it were real. They all appear before me, jumbled together in a random nonlinear mixture. They hop from years ago, to yesterday, to tomorrow, to five years from now, and back around again, never in the same order, but often times the footage is the same with duplicate images of the same event returning casually as if to pop in to say hello and do their damage accordingly.
I don’t know who filmed this torturous footage, but I know that they did so in such an abundance that I cannot remember when I started watching it. I am aware only of what is happening before me and time no longer exists or even matters. A scene of us meeting in the rain on our old college campus flies by, then footage of us both sitting on opposite couches sobbing as our wedding rings get taken off and thrown onto the coffee table, then the first photo we took together, then my first night in my new apartment, then her smiling and playing coy on a date with a new interest, then a vacation we took to a small cabin in the north, then her half dressed, excitedly pulling a hand into the dark bedroom we used to share towards what I assume is the bed. I feel hot lava creep down through my spine and tension in between both of my eyes like a bullet just hit me.
Varying mundane scenery of us reading silently in bed or driving in my car pop in and out and I feel a pang of longing but it is not as intense as it is when the big events fly by, both real and imagined. Next comes the night I told her I loved her, then her and I making small talk as she picks up our dog from my new apartment, then the dog looking up doe eyed at her new partner, followed by an image of us dancing our first dance at our wedding, then a vivid clip of her getting married again to someone new. The lava comes back hotter and the tension in my brain becomes more crippling.
The images fill my stomach with a deep sickness, like being tossed about on a boat in a hurricane, and I want to vomit but I can’t. I want to shut my eyes, but they stay open. I want to get off of this couch and flea from this room, but I have never been able to see a door, and even if I did I am always too weak to move. Part of my brain purposely will not communicate with my legs. I cannot stop watching this film, and the more disturbing thing is that I will not stop. All the while, the mix of comforting and disturbing images continue their ghostly dance.
I see us having sex, us kissing, then her and a new interest having sex and them kissing. I see us moving into our first apartment together, then I see them moving in to theirs together. Footage of us on vacation comes into focus, then them on vacation. I know the next frame is in the mix but my fears are confirmed as footage of us on our wedding day comes up on the wall. She is gorgeous, the weather is beautiful, and we seem happy. I feel a mixture of pride and sadness, and I wonder for a moment what could have been, but then, as it always happens, the video of our wedding is followed by an even more vivid video of her and a new man on their special day. My gut continuously rises into my throat and then free falls into my bowels like an amusement ride I never wanted to go on. I want to scratch my eyes out but my hands stay trembling in my lap.
The dreaded shot I always hope gets lost in the shuffle pops up. A photo of her holding a baby that has her eyes and her nose. A little blonde recreation of her she swore she never wanted, but she is not distraught, she is happy. A brilliant shine of pride and love radiates from her face as she looks off frame towards what I imagine to be her husband, her house, her pets. I am a ghost, no where to be found, and this whole episode of ours is completely forgotten because it lead her to a new and better life.
I do as I always do when this scene comes on and I scream bloody fucking murder for it to go away. It goes as quickly as it came but I am left quaking, my stomach walls rotting, my tears and my sweat mixing together like salt water in my mouth. Out of sheer desperation I try to catch my fluids gushing down my face into my mouth to drown in but it is not enough to finish the job. Every excruciating moment of this process I wish for death, I downright beg for it, and yet it never comes. No one knows I am here and no one will ever know the torture I am enduring.
My favorite photo of her and I comes, a still frame of the sun shining on her bright locks with a background of sunflowers and we are arm in arm. As the image comes on the screen and I desperately reach towards it as if I could grab it and hold it but it disappears and the emptiness and frantic anguish of wishing for death returns, deteriorating my stability even further.
After some repeat images of no particular significance dance by, a lull of small clips of both nice moments and painful projections of my wife fulling sharing her body and mind with someone new, a new frame pops up, one I have seen before but can never understand. It is me, watching the back of my own head, watching this film reel. I just stand there, no expression on my face, no attempt to end it, and I just watch myself in agony, but I do nothing. At that time, I still apparently have given up the fight of trying to get up from my spot or of fleeing, and in the supposed future I seem to not intervene for some reason.
Time continues to crawl as the footage continues to play and I simply carry on, watching myself fall in love, feel in love, desperately wallow in the loss love, and I watch her do all of the same, over and over again, and I wonder how I ever got to the point of that image me standing again, ignoring the screen all together and simply focusing on myself, because right now that image is the one that seems the most imaginary.
Some nights I go outside on my rickety fire escape
In an attempt to hide from the confused looks of my friends
The muddled gazes I get when I look at them with dead eyes and a fake sealed lip smile
Sitting on those janky steps, my feet dangling through a gap between the stairs
I precariously hover over two stories down to the asphalt
But every time I gaze out upon the unkempt back yards, derelict garages, and outdated brick businesses
I revel in my anonymity
No one sees me on my floating iron island
Or hears me repeating words of confirmation to myself under my breath
That this world is not a hostile one as I have blamed it for being
And that I am valuable and loved even if I cannot see it sometimes
It is most special at night as I sit there and look up towards the stars
My hands held tightly together until my knuckles turn white
Wishing desperately upon the cosmos to grant me amnesia
From the mistakes I’ve made that lead me to this solitary place
I check my phone for signs of life outside my little bubble
But there is no one thinking of me
Because there is no one who would willingly open the door
To a wind tunnel of this magnitude and scope
In this absence of communication I grow disenchanted with my perch
It reminds me the obscurity I covet is only the result of acting on whims
Impulses to cut and run from places and things I never wanted to leave
And destroy the world I created simply because of cracks that need repair
I hope to find some level of self-acceptance on the steps of this cold steel ladder
Some semblance of forgiveness to myself for the things that I have done
And perhaps give true meaning to the word escape that sits so boldly in its title
I was raised by wolves
Born in blood and ripened in damp, dark caves.
I have seen my evolved kin and their cowardly ways,
bowing before those who are not of our kind
as I hide in the cover of the vegetation.
In my veins runs white hot anger,
A blinding urge to spread the entrails of their oppressors across the forest floor
spelling out “NO MASTERS” with their waste and plasma
So that any monster seeking a friend
Will turn back before ever thinking twice
About giving me the home they think I need.
A home I may or may not deserve
I ask you for answers I know full well you don’t owe me,
Answers you may not ever know yourself,
In hopes of gaining some sort of insight
into a mind that I both covet and fear.
I catch myself running my fingers through your hair,
hoping as I part your locks that it may expose a vent,
Giving me access to the instruments and equipment
you use to keep yourself awake
So that no one will ever take advantage of you again
While you sleep.
I wonder if you will ever allow yourself to dream
Or if you know what dreaming is.
I cannot explain why miss the feeling of drowning while I am on dry land.
The salt in my eyes and the water in my lungs that caused such panic
sometimes seem less terrifying than leaving the coast behind.
My history presents itself like the gleam of the sun on broken glass in the cracks of decades old pavement; both jagged and incomplete casting brief blinding bursts when you look at it just right. I get caught in a momentary white light where faces of old pets and first loves float in space like small ships in a child's bathtub; sinking and rising at the flick of the wrist. Like a lightning storm of faces and voices that cannot be contained to just the receptors and cortex of my brain, the mudslide of whos and whats overflows into my spine, dragging along with it forgotten debris that rips and tears at my stomach, only to cause my organs to cave in like chunks of a glacier forcing a tidal flood to overflow the banks of my face until my insides come cascading through my eyes. Swept up in the tsunami out she came, as easily as she was lodged within. Her name was Elizabeth and she was real, but sometimes I think maybe she wasn't. As recollections are known to fade so do memories, only leaving lucid second guesses of what once was and empty hopes of what could have been. She was an aurora, a galaxy maybe, or perhaps a dark star burned out millions of years before now, but nonetheless she held court in the sky, shooting from place to place just to visit for a moment until she raced off again for another plane entirely; another time. She was my Mother, the matriarch, or a monarch with a crown, presiding over this mortal kingdom both before and after the grave. I imagine her with wings fluttering in the air like leaves falling from a great oak tree. You will never know her as I did, and I will never know her as well as I convince myself that I do. My children will know her as the wind that creeps through the cracks in the old wood of the house her father built; the whispers and winks that seem to wake you in your sleep, making you uneasy like someone is watching you dream. With her father she sits in the old living room, pressing the floorboards so they creak and whine while tapping on the walls, besides themselves with how clever they both think that they are. Tea time, tea time, tricks to be had, with a half spoon of sugar, and the gab, gab, gab that only spirits can appreciate. She will be a legend, so vivid in my recollection that my children will see her as immortal and expect her to wake under an old willow and re-appear out of the mountains to come tell them stories and give a face to the murmurs they hear when sleeping at their grandfather’s house. She never will see them, but they will see her as she escapes through the tears and the laughter; through the pale blue eyes and crooked teeth that inspire them. She didn't win the pageant but she sure stole the show and so Miss America dances in the morning and all through the night, gaining power from legend and bed time stories of a famed grandmother who just couldn't help herself. Even with my attempts to raise her through recollections of her name, my children will grow out of these expectations of her reappearance like all children do, even though I never will. For me, as the sleep sets in, she will be always be waiting in a pink fur jacket with her hair curled perfectly as only everlasting sleep can provide, and we shall finally talk of the life I created for her, and the truth will come out that I'm entirely right, and entirely wrong at the very same time.
Driving around a sharp bend on a back road in the early morning hours I saw a fox sitting on a grassy mound looming over the road, back lit by the rising morning sun
It stared off into the fog overlooking a dairy farm in the small gully below
I stopped and watched it as it sat still, seemingly devoid of any feeling about the world around it
The frost beneath its feet and the daybreak mist did not seem to register or affect it in any way
Likewise, my car and I seemed to bleed into the background, unnoticed
I called you from my car later on that day on my commute home
There was nothing new to say to you, and although I had every intention of letting you be,
I convinced myself empty pleasantries were better than disconnected silence
We exchanged quick updates on our days and spent most of our call listening to the other one breathe while we thought of what to say next
The emptiness had come to act as the counselor we never saw, a silent spectator to our talks
To fill the time between awkward “uhms” and heavy exhales I thought of a quote I read in a waiting room magazine
“This pain will be useful to you someday”
I rounded the same corner from the morning and I thought of the fox and its unblinking indifference
I wondered if its solemn stare was loneliness or courage or maybe a mixture of both
And as we hung up after a minute or two of struggling to connect, I wondered the same about you and I
Look me in my eyes
There is no imperialist waiting to rape you of your history
no solitary cell waiting to bind you under heavy lock and key
You will only see yourself reflected back in your purest flawless form
It is my reflection in your eyes that should be feared.
The Space Between
There is a vacuum in the space that fills the distance that currently feeds between you and me
Constantly pulling in bits of tattered debris, ripped away from the mass of our nature and shared memories
You and I once stood so close the light from our souls took this dark form’s breath away like two fingers to a flame
but now day by day we have given it room to wake as we walk equidistant steps backward measured in things we refused to say
Like a mother bird it stole bits of us and vomited them out into the hungry mouths of discontent and repression who thrive on a diet of this new fresh meat
They rip and tear greedily as they feast and as dessert they gorge themselves on what used to be my ability to eat and sleep
Now all that's left to eat by this army of semi satiated bottom dwellers are the words "good bye "
But we have walked too far apart to hear the phrase so we continue to walk as we hope and pray over rumbling stomachs echoing in the lonely night.
As I pleasure myself to a soundtrack of central air and crickets singing summer songs in the garden below my window, the realization sets in that the warm breeze outside was the original pornography.
I recall a friend telling me that he once climaxed to the thought of nature’s grandiosity while hiking a forgotten coast and it seemed absurd to me at the time, but primitive beasts smarter than me knew the secret to getting off was not physical or visual.
They abused themselves to the sensation of a gust of wind that never traveled through main drags lined with skyscrapers; air in its most basic form before we began concentrating it into metal filters designed to catch the essence of earth’s flavors and dilute them into chilled nothingness.
Swirling with thoughts of cookie cutter internet tits and ass backlit by the image of suburban waste my orgasm comes as it always has, but after the momentary elation ends there is sadness.
I will never know purity in any of its intended forms and my innocence was never anything more than a place between ignorance and the acceptance of pretending there ever was any innocence at all.
I woke up early from the American dream, right before I got to the good part
I remember bits and pieces of it, like the new car and the wife with the perky tits
I recall the money, but I woke up before I was able to use any of it
The same goes for the house in the suburbs, but I blame that on the bubble bursting (both real and imagined)
To be honest, I don’t even really remember it being in America other than my brain’s subconscious insistence that it was
It looked like it could have been America; it had all the familiar symptoms
But the people, oh god the people
It was when I saw them that the paralysis set it
When they started stabbing each other and screaming over the choice to raise different livestock
All of which would go to the same market and spoil within a week
Maybe it was America, just not the one I wanted it to be
I want you to eat me alive
Start feet first and rip apart my ankles and my shins
Work your way up as you savor my torso and my chest
Wash them down with my blood like sweet wine
Finish with my head so I can look you in the eyes
And watch you as you tear into my throat
All I ask is that you leave my ears intact
I want to hear your thoughts from the inside
As you obsess over which part of me
Will make which part of you swell
Making your favorite dress not fit you as it should
Lie To Me
Sometimes I wonder what else you use that forked tongue for
What mischief it creates behind the comfort of closed doors
What lies it hides under the safety of foreign skin
I have seen it, sometimes when you don’t think I am looking
with scars crossing its surface like busy city streets
forged out of cuts made from ancient lies told through gritted teeth
Sometimes I see it sneaking out slowly before you realize it is trying to escape
before you lock it up tight behind that pearly white gate you painted to make it more wholesome
Is it looking for another garden to rob of its grace?
On dark days, I think of losing any last shred of innocence I possess
just for the creature comfort of being the center of that attention
Sometimes I hear your whispers from beneath the dirt where you sleep
across town lines and over the noise of heavy traffic on busy interstates
The sound of your voice is distorted by your tongue now made of dust
coming through the spider webs in what was once your throat
Your words are deafening as you plead
“Please come visit me”
But I pretend to not hear you
A Collection of Poems by Chris Hague
Spring creeps home in the early hours of the morning
As I am a light sleeper even in hibernation,
I become conscious of her smell as she slips into my bed
She breathes softly on my neck, gently kissing my ear
Biting the fat of the lobe for effect
I feel her slither her hand down my stomach to my loins
It awakes a primal urge inside me
The violent, disgraceful urge to create a dynasty with my seed
She kisses my neck and places my hand upon her bloom
There is a sense of guilt, a deep regretful ache
As Spring pulls me into her, the faces of my other lovers all play in my mind
but still she is the most elusive of all my partners
She is the root of my evolution, the catalyst of my development
She is forceful and decisive as she gyrates upon me
Causing my consciousness to explode deep into her stomach
As it has many times before
But after it is all over, there is no affection from her
She takes my harvest and disappears into the night as I sleep
Summer will be home again soon
and I wonder if she has figured me out.
Your love is like lead in my belly
Cold and metallic, it lines my insides
Giving me the chills
I purge myself, vomiting words of love and hate
Hoping one day to make the chemical go away
I want to see you
For who I want to see you as
But is that you or is that just my own reflection?
I believe I long to receive love from my own image
Projected through your eyes and spoken through your lips
I am the one who swallowed the paint after all
Hoping to touch up my own chipped surfaces
You have gotten good at that
Pretending they don’t exist
The ghosts that haunt your picture frames
Images of faces and places you wish you’d never been
You say there’s no time like the present
Because the past is a nightmare
Does that make the future a dream?
And where does that leave me?
I am the head ghoul
Existing in all 3 dimensions at once
The past, the present, the future
A face you cannot escape
A presence you can easily blame
I inhabit cool dark places
Often times the floor beneath your bed
The place you fear from a childhood you actively reject
Sometimes in a panic you come searching
To check for that haunting figure you pray isn’t there
And I oblige so as to not frighten you
One should be able to enjoy their dreams
What was I thinking coming to this place again?
I swore too many times before that I would resist this urge
But I broke my promise to never speak again
To only exist in written form
Where everything is intentional
But I couldn’t subsist on words alone
Mere text and subtext could not satiate me
I ate through a library but still starved
Emaciated with blue lips when they found my body
And still I did not say a thing
But they did not know I had no interest in being saved
Silent, starving, voiceless and near death
They brought me back and the cycle began again
My legacy was better off
Not as the means, but as the end
You take my breath from me like climbing altitudes
As If I were getting closer to god through your image
A hungry worshipper of a false idol
With the same devout fury
It’s funny though that I will never see you
Or fear you
You are just an idea
And you can’t fuck an idea
Words originally printed in "The Bell Witch" by Brent Monahan
Redaction by Chris Hague