Five-Litre Red

vis-a-vis harmony, and other optimisms

new year

My first winter, without a boyfriend. Shocking in its chill. At midnight I ride alone on the metro, sitting quietly, legs together, back straight. Instinctively I can’t wait to be home: I still associate that emotional shelter with the physical structure. Tonight I step into a concrete bunker, devoid of warmth, and loving chatter. The sound of my jacket unzipping fills the room.

I want to dream. I dream I am a diver. I part the cold blankets and sheets, angle obliquely beneath the crest of pillows, diving for depth, but the thin mattress and its shallow warmth barely cover my body. This is a dream, and I want to wake up. Wake up, and shake the chill. 


growing potatoes

between distant foci

the blood grows like rhizomes

beneath skin the color

of topsoil


where the dirt is thin the blood sprouts

blooms tender green

petals we carry

in crooks of elbows




residuals of vegetable notions

that darkness which we cultivate 


these days






difficulty re: completion

blanks boldly in the face

a face bald as a lightbulb

stripped of lampshade and wiped

clean of dirt



how to move on


                                    (from here)?


to rely on a fallacy

that easy slide

the truth is

thin ice

okay, so you have it

the marriage of knife

and wrist

the giving way of inside

to out-of-body


this place has no television

to calm my nerves

those dark cherry blooms

palms up on a white

bed, the sharp crescent moon

so lonely


in the earthly struggle

must we begrudge the small people

those who cannot break bread with their betters

turn to breaking skin

by the poolside


in this place

the earth rotates

but the moon never changes phase  

soul abrasion

the light lengthens

velvet curtains draw

to a close

deeply blinded, the scent

of sassafras in wet

loam, come

lie with me in the flower bed

overhead the stars


like grains of salt in humid air


at the apex

the crystal pyramid of feeling

a flower bed tomb

for those white rays of sun



our souls like soiled linen

steeped in aged crystal

the shiny green of fresh tea leaves

stewed, folded, and drowned

in hot waters

to brown opacity


from the tea leaf prism


the projection of hues


each crack flowers

the length of your light

Why gay men hate lesbians

According to D.C., my imperfect paraphrase:

Along the sexual orientation axis, gay men share the experience of straight women. Gay men and straight men relate on the gender identity axis (Although not entirely orthogonal, these axes do a pretty good job of describing the sexuality landscape). However, lesbian women share neither characteristic with gay men. Faced with incomprehension, homosexual men react in a very human manner: ostracization.

This is all in broad strokes; I don’t mean to paint sexual orientation and gender identity as discrete. It does help rationalize the strange looks the girl and I have gotten in the Village.

wound excoriation (your laddered bones)

now that i stand before you, there is no denying

the pain

the burned past all over your shirt cuffs.

watercolor blues

and faint, charcoal smudges, you

always held your brush too close

for comfort


your sadness

pours out of cups like warm, flat, beer

we drink it up, it’s all we have

on this warm, summer, day

feel the supple plastic


the stiffness has slipped your spine

it hangs from your shoulder blades

lazy like a wet dress

drying without breeze


but i do not touch your bad arm

i do not lift

the shirt from your shoulders

and launder the scuffed cloth


it is enough to know

the words for your wound

there is no need to speak it

I, Daughter

a thin man stands

at the epicentre of my sadness

the bones of his face like a broken plate


into fragile unity

when he walks

the earthquake carries, and i stumble


a million cracks in the dirt of my skin

a million hungry mouths

i feel

like a lost mother


how did he get so thin, so lost

in otherness?

i try to imagine the moment

when everything caved

he had to pick up the pieces

make the convex out of the concave

learn to walk again

his lurching steps


the child followed

in the thin man’s wake

“strongly interpenetrate”

Something is wrong. I feel like I could sleep for centuries and not lose count of my breath. Finally I understand why they call it “falling” asleep, because it is a Fall (La Chute). At midnight I take a dive, into a deep black vat of tar. It fills my nose, my mouth, squeezes from my lungs into my blood and my heart. I could chew on it like gum it’s so viscous. In the morning I must dig myself out, surface in this lake of molasses. I feel sticky, and foggy, and I remember no dreams, just black. I just want to go back to sleep, and I do.

At high concentrations, polymer chains strongly interpenetrate, and coil dimensions shrink. Viscosity increases. 

[eat a slice of apple. it’s a Mutsu (睦奥) apple, cultivated in Japan est. 1948. it is a favourite of the fungus Biscogniauxia marginata]

Skylar: Out burying bodies?

Walter: Nope, robbing a train.

[chug scalding coffee. what would my dentist say? get up, gargle with baking soda]

Belong the glass transition temperature, the polymer sample becomes hard and brittle. 

But of course nothing is wrong. In fact, from a pragmatic perspective, things are better. Cigarettes and speed are out, tea and flossing are in. I don’t drink, and I don’t sleep with anybody. For eleven days now I’ve even kept my head out of the pantry and out of the toilet. Finally I have routine, “the net of pragmatics” (I.X.L.) that catches me.

I’m just too practical to die.

Bulk free radical polymerizations are susceptible to the Trommsdorf-Norrish effect, in which autoacceleration leads to metallurgic failure, or worse, explosion. 

I feel like all this talk of practicality, of objective well-being, detracts from authentic living. My attempts to be sincere, passionate (strongly interpenetrate) paradoxically reinforce my withdrawal (coil dimensions shrink); in “communication” others take up too much space, and their words back me into a corner. The thought of sharing a bed. I feel less lonely, but more alone, and more convinced of the correctness of my solitude. I reject intimacy, because look, I’m doing fine with my vegetarian diet, regular exercise, and good poetry. When I lack suffering, my resolve strengthens (becomes hard and brittle).

So I’ve become caught in the ontic. A sticky bubblegum contentedness (viscosity increases), that lacks (read: empty). A routine that precludes “learning new feelings” (I.X.L.). I sit in my room drinking tea and counting breaths, feeling like a little pig. Sometimes I feel like climbing out of the tar, the easy way, with pills and drink and new bodies, but passion of this type accelerates out of control (Trommsdorff-Norrish effect), and leads only to irony (again, empty). I need a new way to feel truth in moments, that leaves both my body and my sincerity uncompromised. As usual, the Continentals proscribe no useful answers.

the evening of, the morning after

thank you mr. one night stand love photo love image,

Sleeping with him is like sleeping / with a still-warm corpse: he’s going to die soon, you can feel it / in his every thrust and the weakness / of his sperm.

They, like him, will burn up in acid and tobacco. He collapses away from me without so much / a shudder.

At 22, he has disposed of fear, cut it out of him like a surgeon. Scalpels are sharp as they are sleepless.

His amygdala / shrivelled to the size of a kernel of corn, leaving a vacuum, a dark space deep within his head. His head hurts him / His heart hurts him. A hurt, from disuse? No, over-use. It pounds too quick and uselessly, carrying him at fast pace away / from the heated centre of things.

Sometimes, his left side disappears, and he is only left with his right, a half-a-person, cupping his coffee and cigarette awkwardly in one / shaky hand.

He is a sad person, a bad person. (He tries too hard to convince me of this. He thinks he knows / everything. But there are many things he doesn’t know. How to forget is not one of these things. But how to kiss / is.)

Of course, this is entirely his own (un)doing. By noon, he is on his twelfth coffee, and his blood thrums / with the joyous discord of amphetamine and nicotine. Come Night / there is ice / to calm him.

When he brushes my hair, his hands shake like lettuce leaves / And hardly / out of desire.

It hurts to see him like this, a blinded bird of prey. It makes me want to blind myself.

Turn off the lights.

Lighting our cigarettes. In the darkness, we are two forest fires far away. Through the window a cold breeze and he / pulls a blanket over himself, curls up like a fish. I watch his face as he sleeps. The burning cigarette illuminates / a small, orange cone.

Turn off the lights.

We do not see eye to eye. In the darkness, we hardly see each other. We stand on distant shores of the same ocean, and sometimes, we touch our toes to the water. Then / there is that brief union, but hardly / dissolution.

Turn off the light.

Wake, to the soft frost of morning / bright