i. Bullet Brass Ballet / Games of Strategy & Green
I didn’t want to tell you. I didn’t want to tell you anything. The geometric shapes on grass and water caused by the wind. You should know already. We turn to silence as coping strategy. Or politesse. You are well-mannered. You sit with your own kind. I do not speak your language. I am untidy. Serendipitous: two authors with animal names. There are wild turkeys on my street. This is not retweetable by the authorities. A saxophone can be subtle with ivories backgrounding. You swagger. You brag. You ignore the lesser beings. How does the howl work. The instructions of howl. Begins as a small coil inside. Word-bundled. Sensitive nerve endings. A tingle. An ache. A need to go wide. Uncoiling. A question of the degree of damage. Lead. We are cloaked in metal. A hollow point. We are not titanium. You and I. We are thin-skinned game. We are simultaneously both.
This particular instrument has a squeal. We are contained within the squeal. It is not a jail. We are opened, it is not a blare. No one trumpets anything. Several repeated squeals. Hands on brass. Each finger pressing down and up. The speed. We note the player’s dexterity. The rainbow effect. My favourite things. This note. I am keyed up by the weather. The slide. Of sunshine. We gleam. Our teeth polished clean. No rough edges in this scenario. You like your whisky neat and your world pristine. I try not to stain the white cotton napkin.
You have given me ornithology. A catalogue of commonalities. Borders. Isn’t it obvious. We recoil. We obey. We travel a few chevrons behind. Air is silent until disturbed. I have made a map for you with imaginary countries. To play. I have my reasons. Pastel colours show labels best. Over the land the ghosts. Over the sea the phantom monsters. The wild things. The bright young things. Parrots winging over the green.
Ruby slippers break down in the rain. Beauty mark and blue eyes high forehead and blonde hair in a chignon. A sapphire pendant swings from a long silver chain to emphasize the vulnerability of a neck. What if we refuse to pliée.
ii. Treacle Sharp, Flame & High Water
I used to adore the rain, but now. Water is treacherous turns to ice. hard black treacle on the sidewalks & you will fall. Crescendo. Diminuendo. I’m telling you that I fell. I’m trying to tell you that I have fallen. All of me, my ego. Shattered. Just like that. I howled. Crooned tunes to my imagination for solace. For comfort. My voices inside crackling like the background murmur of the radio. Thinking I was alone. This is one of the times when I wanted to be alone. The joggers arrived. The rain had turned to sleet. Steady beat, percussion. The sleet pelted me. I was pelted by the sleet and hatless. My toque had slipped off during the fall. My body. I was fragile. How fragile I was. A new note, played tentatively. This is when you realize you are fragile. When you fall. Falling from grace. Falling out of favour. Sliding down the scale hair by hair.
On display, splayed out. A petrified bug, a scarab, glistening with icy rain. Clambering along icy sidewalks. They helped me up. The kind strangers, two young men. He took my elbow. Escorted me to the edge of the sidewalk. Suggested I walk on the snow. The snow was on top of the ice. I hadn’t realized the slippery layer below, the signature underlying the melody. I hadn’t realized. You don’t. You don’t realize what lies beneath. Don’t say lurks.
Nothing lurks. Don’t personify. Don’t assign blame to the inanimate. It is you. Make your own music. It is life. This is what happens when we. I climb that hill again. Daily. By myself. With others. With lovers. The summit. Not much of a goal, but a goal. To arrive without falling. To reach the end of the song. I am a recording. A scratchy record. In a paper sleeve.
I was listening. Only listening. I wasn’t eavesdropping. I wasn’t. I didn’t hear. When he said that he wanted a divorce. I didn’t look. I didn’t look at her. I didn’t. She was crying. I didn’t try to overhear. I was only. It’s just that. I can’t bear it. I can’t tolerate. Even the cries of newborns. She was like a newborn. Was she helpless? Was he? I didn’t know them. I didn’t know them at all. They were young. They were younger than me. I was calm. I had been calm. During my divorce.
I didn’t leap to conclusions, but I leapt away. Very quickly. It was easy. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. The people we know in life. Insight. In silence. In sickness. It never ends. There was shouting. The two shouted. I ducked to escape. The sharpness of their words. Pointed words. The way words can pierce the skin. We are soft. We walk in the air. The air is gentle. We let our bodies enjoy the soft air. But words. Guns. Swords. Knives. Bombs. Chopping harmonic shifts. Able to penetrate. Tear holes. Destroy. Maim. Remove. Obliterate. This is what words can do.
I was tired. So tired. My only excuse is that I am tired. I am always tired. I tried. I tried to stay awake. It was autumn. The light trilled out. The light had changed to autumn light. The sun. Glissandi snap. The angle of the sun. The dark came earlier. The dark came too early. I wandered in the leaves. I like to get lost. Soulful. Sometimes I am lost. I dragged my feet through the red and gold. Polyrhythmic. In piles. By the river. They floated in the river. They swirled toward the dam. The water was high. So high. The river flooded every year. Why can’t they do something about the flooding? Who are they? Who are we?
Who is responsible for the flood? Why can’t I sleep? Why can’t someone give me something that will help me sleep. I don’t believe in narcotics. I don’t believe in anything. In monsters under the bed. In false gods and prophets. In idols. I worship. Nothing. I am godless. I am heartless. My heart a stone. Is it obvious? I am calcified. This body will not relax. I don’t bend. I am inflexible. I can’t hear you. Whatever you say. I want to. But I can’t. I watch the leaves, how they let themselves be carried away.
I hold the candle in my hand. It is a small candle. Is it redundant to say a wax candle? Are candles made of anything but wax? It is white. This small candle. I cup it in my hand. It is lit. Did I say it was a lit candle? I cup the small flame in my hand. Its flimsy, gypsy jazz. Its metal holder is warm. Precarious improvisation. The wax will eventually pool. But it is untouchable. I am untouched. Too hot for my hand. My palm. I don’t want to blister my palm. So alluring this flame. Dangerous.
I am seduced easily. You can seduce me. The flame is growing higher. Do I want it? This flame through the flimsy metal? Do I want the wax to drip over my open palm. I have a long life line. It curves around from the edge of my hand. Almost to my wrist. Upturned with arteries exposed.
iii. I am fond of glottal stops
it is not a fetish. some say I have a fetish. perhaps a sweet potato yearning. quirky. to be the queen of quirk. is this a hierarchy. we stand alone. I always commiserated with the cheese. while also being on the side of the lactose intolerant. I am complicit. the rain today is brass. forgive. that’s the answer. you could be graceless. I know how this feels. to be without grace. the mornings are full of.
the wind, low-pitched, it moans. alto sax. it doesn’t ask for permission. how often we push against the unnamed. to learn to love the audacious is to learn to love. to lean to love. rough-hewn declinations. I have a penchant for anarchy. a wee drop in my tea in the small hours. up before dawn. the word is grey & graceful. long o. curls with smoke. the cold fire started. flame, a living beast. the room chokes. open the flue. the lungs of the house are breathing in & out.
I walk past the point where my feet are tired. three horns. sparkle. the lilacs are insistent. I obey the gorgeous. to stroll without limits out in the. all is ocean. the mind storms. have you found. the stray. objects. resistance is fertile. a notion. kept in a pocket like needles & thread. to sew all these images together. how quaint. no one offers buttons today. button your lip. the unbuttoned revolutionary
Amanda Earl is a trouble-maker from Canada who writes poetry & occasionally pornography. She's the managing editor of Bywords, & the fallen angel of AngelHousePress with its shit-disturbing imprint, DevilHouse. Her poetry book Kiki came out with Chaudiere Press in 2014 & a smut collection Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl also came out in 2014. For more info, please visit AmandaEarl.com or connect with Amanda on Twitter.