Archive for loss

The Imposter Remembers

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The wind makes the tails of my coat snap, pennants whipping behind me. It moans, softly, but steady, a constant, drawn out exhalation, weary, grieved, the sound after the first sharpness of loss, when it’s become dull, familiar. The only other sound at all in the vast, flat emptiness is the hiss of dust, fine particles rubbing one over the other, small, but when multiplied by a billion billion times it becomes a delicate roaring, the terrible monotone of absolute desolation. The dust is red, fine as sand yet gritty and it stings my cheeks.

In every direction there is nothing, maybe the faintest trace of geography, the hint of a hill worn down, pressed into submission by Time’s heavy thumb, or the suggestion of a valley, but for the most part the land is a table beneath the perfect bowl of the sky. It is a nothingness made so much deeper when added to the knowledge of abscence, the ache of a festering within flesh that appears whole, the rememberence of a wound scabbed over, healed, but still present. There was something here once and it lingers in the hole it has left.

I know, right where I stand was a plaza, the architecture of it a wonder, stone and steel and living plants woven together, hung with lights, glistening with fountains that would lift up columns of air and water that caught the beams of lanterns and threw up jeweled fire into the night air. Beside me, a bench still holds the lover’s that sat, hands entwined in knotwork of love and flesh and bone, content to be each with each, watching the passers by but only with concern for one another. Children swirl around, have me spinning on my heels as they run, a school of bright fish flicking this way and that, laughing, mischievous, full of wonder and dreams and promise. I can look into a shopfront, see the makers at their trades, here haggling, there bent to their craft, one taking their meal with a spouse that brought it, another passing along the secrets held within a lifetime of callouses, failures, and successes. It was all here, and now it is gone. I see it still though, I must, there is not a thing I do not remember, not one since my eyes opened. Every single moment exists perfect and complete within my mind, drawing the was over the is, making a palimpsest, a double exposure that defines the emptiness and drags it across my memory like a razor.

I had no choice. If I had not acted, the one who came from Outside would have riven the entire universe, shaped it into what its vision thought it should be and all would have been undone, every life across billions of planets snuffed out. I tried to reason with it, tried words to steer it from its course but these failed. It was far too sure in its reason, built an impregnable fortress of certainty and righteousness. So I, being the guardian of The Real, sought to fight it. That, that was foolish. The power of it was vast and deep, so deep the well of it could crush you down just by the pressure of it being. Those inside do not change anything, not really. Magic, power, it can be used to make things happen, bound in patterns and spells, but reality itself remains the same as both hammer and nail remain fundamentally the same when applied one to the other. Their nature never changes. Those Outside though, with the power in them make things different, can simply make what is in their mind be and not only be but always have been, reweaving the threads of reality. It was a power I could not withstand.

We fought across the stars, across worlds, plunging through clouded nebulae, where it passed The Real screamed, tortured into new shapes, rent apart in ragged wounds I did my best to suture shut even as I fought back, striking with every charm or spell I could remember or devise, attempting to surround it with The Border as a body might do with a cyst, condoning off its infection, but it changed and shifted and slipped free. I know not how long we fought, time flowed in torrents, a gale of it whipping me, lashing and battering as I contended with The Outsider until at the last I was weary, wounded, a blackened rag flapping at its heels while it was undiminished, a titan that would pale Chronos, towering, invincible. It turned to me and in that moment, in its eyes I could see my undoing, but not just that, my cessation, the complete unwriting of me and everything that had ever been. I could see only one avenue, one small, desperate gleaming thread, so delicate that it might snap even by clinging to it. I knew what it would mean as it and I stood upon the curvature of the planet’s atmosphere, I knew the cost down to the penny, down to the last bright life just as I knew that if I did not act the price would rise too great to account for. In that last moment, as it turned to gloat in its triumph, I broke The Border.

The Unreal poured into The Real. The space around us boiled as nothing became something and then nothing again, endlessly, warping everything it touched, dissolving the rules, eating away at the is with the isn’t as a wave might eat a castle of sand upon the shore. It crashed into The Outsider and where it was became something else, twisting so rapidly even it could not hold onto itself and was undone. Alas, it did not stop there. The planet beneath us was tortured, racked by storms of madness, stone and seas and flesh melted, ran like wax, became something else but all of it, all of it dead. By the time I’d grasped the ragged seams of reality and knotted it back together all that remained was a planet shaped grave.

All of this I can see, as I stand on the planet’s surface, on what once had been stone, in the middle of what once had been a plaza in what once had been a living city, that had once been a part of a civilization that exists only in my memory of it. I come here every year to stand upon the red, red sands and remember them. They kept their history in one long song, each new thing, every discovery, every new event another verse. I learned it long, long ago and it still exists perfectly in my mind. So every year that has passed since then, millions of years before life would even be a contemplation for its nearest neighbor, I come, and I stand in the emptiness and let the wind bite at my coat and let the dried blood sting my cheeks and I sing. I sing the decades, the centuries, the rising and falling mingling with the dull ache of the moaning wind, I sing the life of a people that were beautiful and terrible as all other people save these where stalks mowed too soon leaving their field fallow and barren. Alone, I sing and remember, always, my purpose and my failure.

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The Imposter Listening

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The Borderlands don’t always reflect the lands they touch. A bitter wind swirls around me, grey and chill, damping the sunlight of The Real into fragile eggshell white. I’m standing in what was a field, the wan blades of grass superimposed over concrete and asphalt, the remembered dreams of a deep green. Here though, in this place, the most solid are the bodies, so very many, stretching out past all sight, in every direction. It’s a curious thing, in a place where one can observe the everyday people wandering through the walls of a castle that’s no longer there in the place they are, their feet instinctively avoid the corpses, unconsciously reorganized footsteps adjusting their path so as not to disturb the twisted limbs.
Of all the places where memory gathers, this is the one I visit only reluctantly, when duty can no longer be shirked. I call it the Untimely Vale, because the geography dips slightly towards the middle and that things need names and here I am the sole namer. Here lay all of the dead cut down, the victims of Fate’s shears too eager, clipping threads in frenzy. I’m gazing down into the lidless eye of a young girl, a well of ugly red and clotted black shattering the left side of her face, splits in the flesh creeping in spiderweb fractures. They’re all so delicate, broken so easily and carelessly. I kneel down, long fingers brushing the hair back from her brow, trying to turn my gaze more to the rich brown of her other eye as she begins to speak. Dry, ashen lips move slowly, haltingly, as she tells me her tale, and I listen with reverence, every word, each pause, all of her inscribed somewhere permanent and unforgetful. I won’t share what she says, that is not for anyone. I just remember, forever, and that’s the point. Long, long after mortal minds let go of their shame and anger or indignant righteousness, I will remember this person wholelly and completely, from beginning to end. At least one perfect record will exist of this woman for the rest of time. One among many, oh so very many.
She finishes speaking, returns to rest, and I move on. I try to listen to as many as I can, as many as I can force myself to before the weight of them, this place would trap my exhausted limbs to the earth and all I could do was lay down with the rest. Not far away, a new form begins to shape itself, quivering into being like heat over tarmac. I cannot see it fully, but it is small, oh so tiny. My eyes wander over the landscape, taking in the vastness of it. I’ve written down so many of their stories, carved the letters of them into my soul, but there are so many more, new ones ticking off the seconds. I worry sometimes I will not be able to speak to them all and those moments are the closest to despair that I care to wander. That precipice is dangerous and crumbles easily. It must be done and I am the only one to do it. So today I will spend with the discarded, my footsteps resounding in the thunderous silence of billions.

Turn of the Tide

Posted in Poetry, Social Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by beautifulimposter

There is rust upon the tongue, flakes of grit
The taste of metallic decay, bitter silences
Poisoning all thought, each stillness the longer echoing
Of all the words trapped beneath cowardice
Or strangling themselves stillborn,
Infinite infant corpses dangling faux tears
Strung grisly ornamental from spiny, crusted lashes.

Something rotten indeed
Cloying, unlovely, limping mockery
Nuzzling lascivious leaving viscous fingerprints
Stains beneath the flesh, the marks of remembrance
Bruises and cuts clawed desperate fingers digging
Oh, to remove the cancer bequeathed
Undressing bare to the bone not ever clean enough.

Bouquets of fear in full bloom thorn tearing
Wrung hands raw, wounds upon wounds
Every day, over and over and over
One moment, one touch, one word, or look, or any other abuse
The wreaths hung choking in lungs buried beneath
Crushing weights, pinned butterfly beneath the thumb of oceans
Gasping in the dark alone and alone and alone…

…when of a sudden, a match is struck,
Timid flickering, more shadow than orange burning
But warmth where there was cold, a point
Fixed, a spar to cling, then another upon another
Till there is a torrent of pricks in the night
A blaze, one into one into many and there is a raging blossom
Strong and terrible and righteous.

Bill Of Goods

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2016 by beautifulimposter

A landscape of scarred pew backs
Faded under used up onion skin sunlight
Sweat and salivation
Something hungry and panting lustful
Beneath linen suit and tie,
Hollowed out eyes glinting feverish bright
The cut and fit slim difference
Between any other carnival barker.

All the things you want to hear
Slow comfort honey drip, drip, drip
We are right, we are good, yes
Nod your head easy, meek and mild
It’s them what’s wrong, big scary them
Growling at the threshold, oh little lambs
You’ll be perfectly safe, long as you’re afraid.

Think not on this world’s woes
Let the wounds suppurate and fester
The stench just angel baby’s breath
A grave made of this world
For the empty dark hole of the next,
You know it folks, step right up
All it takes is evetything you’ve got
From now till forever and ever amen.

So the dirt clogs lungs,
Clots beneath eyelashes
Lips sewn shut by scarabs and worms
Isn’t it lovely, the next life
So cozy beneath blankets of fruitless earth
Barren and threadbare bereft
Choking on aspirin bitter
Ashes under the tongue, we all fall down.

Refugee

Posted in Poetry, Social Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2015 by beautifulimposter

Fear is never a word that should describe “home”
Desperation has been defined
In the ruins of a father’s face
Crumpled helpless hands slack
Beneath the impossible weight of t-shirt, jeans, new sneakers
Soaking up the morning surf
Emblem of bodies throwing themselves
Into the thoughtless, indifferent waves.

All sense of direction is lost
Just how fast and how far
Clinging to scraps of what was a life
Finding a place where prayer and hope offer no comfort
As one hand let’s go of what can’t be saved
To clutch feverish at that which may still
How many times can anyone
Keep making Soloman’s choice?

Is there actual refuge?
Bereft of any dignity, hands in the air
All hope pinned upon humanity being remembered
By the terminally forgetful
Crying out for mercy only to have it fall
Upon ears dumb to the language,
The subtle speech of so much grief
Lost among the clamor of not our problem.

An Open Letter

Posted in Journal, Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2015 by beautifulimposter

Dear ***,
I’ve tried writing this letter so many times over the years and every time I could either not find the words I wanted or I let my cowardice win and deleted it, convincing myself there was really no point in writing it, that committing myself in writing served no useful or constructive purpose. I’m still not convinced this will do any good, but I think it can’t really hurt either. It’s not like I think you’ll actually ever read it and even if you did happen to come across it I truly don’t think it will matter that much, not now, not after so much time and distance between us and now. What was “us” anyway really? A little bit more than a year when we were both still kids? Nearly twenty years in between filled with other people, experiences, good, bad, or indifferent but all changing and shaping each of us into two people who may not even recognize each other if they passed on the street?

Only for me, I know that’s just a little bit of bullshit. I’d know you anywhere. When you can’t stop thinking of someone, picturing their face, holding on to the sound of their voice it makes remembering very easy. I honestly haven’t ever stopped thinking of you, not once. At first they were all angry thoughts, trying to justify myself I guess, distance myself from my own stupidity and selfishness. They changed though, over the years. I replayed everything out over and over, all the moments, all the conversations, all of the mistakes I made just coming clearer over time. I was a shitty boyfriend, from start to finish, there’s no way I can deny that fact. I took you for granted, what you were and how special that was, how rare. So now when I think about you, all I can feel is guilt and regret.

There’s the big word, “regret”. You are, among all of my many regrets, the biggest by far. Kind of late in the game to realize this, but it’s true. I never once stopped loving you, no matter what I actually said. It’s quite possible that you’re the only woman I can truly say that I do love, that I can honestly use that word for. I’ve told other women that I loved them, and I’ve always wanted to mean it, I’ve convinced myself thoroughly that I did mean it but the thing is I don’t miss any of them. Not like I miss you. Some days I think all that I am is missing you, not a person, just this raw walking streak of loss. I know with a grim certainty that I will go to my grave missing you just as certainly as I know that I won’t ever see you in the flesh in this life again. And that’s my fault.

I think I’ve tried to evade that fact for a long time, tried to twist out from under it for years yet I can’t deny it any more. I could make excuses, I have made excuses, I was young, I didn’t know what I was doing, I was stupid and foolish and just fairly horrible all around. But those are reasons, not any kind of justification. In the end, I convinced myself that this wasn’t love, that there was this mythical something out there, that despite believing for all of my miserable life that there is a “one” that you weren’t it. I’m very good at convincing myself into things. Most of the time in doing so, I hurt people, just leave a lot of wreckage in my wake. No more so when I walked away from you. If it helps any, not that I think it will, I hate myself so much for doing that. I’m so angry all of the time and I can pretend it’s because of the state of the world, my disgust with humanity and all of its failings, or whatever other high handed bullshit I can scrape together but in the end I’m angry that I threw something precious away and I have no one to blame but myself. I punish myself every day, I use memories of you to beat myself raw and bloody because I don’t think I can ever suffer enough to make up for my mistakes.

That doesn’t really matter though. It’s not going to make any difference in the end. I’ll still do it, but it’s a pretty useless and futile gesture. Even if I could look you in the eye right now and tell you how sorry I am, would it matter? You’ve gone on to have loves of your own, you’ve built a life, struggled, suffered, become someone who might in some way remember a boy who broke your heart once upon a time. My relevance in your life is a negative, something so much less than nothing. Fuck, I’m just close to being a complete stranger to you now. I like to tell myself that that’s why I’ve never written this down before, that at best all of this would be an awkward and unwelcome reminder of something that once was, at worst it’s just pulling open an old scar best left closed. The truth is though that I’ve never committed to anything, not you, not my life, my writing, my marriage, nothing. I’m too scared, too much of a god damn coward to lay everything down and make a choice for better or worse. So much of my life is filled with moments where I let events unfold until all the choices where made for me, except once, and I made the wrong motherfucking choice.

I really don’t know what all of this is, why I’m writing this. There always seems so much I want to say but it never comes out just right. Maybe there’s no right way to say this, maybe I could start talking now and never be able to explain everything, just keep talking until my voice got lost but I’d still be making the words with cracked and broken lips because it will take me the rest of my life to truly convey all of the pain and anger and regret I hold inside of me. The bottom line though will always be this and this alone. I love you. I always have, I do right now and I always will for the rest of my wretched life. I always keep the hope that you will find your happiness, that for every hurt you will find the remedy. I want you to always know how beautiful, intelligent, amazing and truly wonderfully weird you are and I hope you will always keep who you are and feel that strength. I will never, ever be a part of your world ever again but I hope I can always find some way of knowing that you are out there and doing well.

I guess that’s pretty much all I have to say. It’s not really, but at some point the words have to stop. I just want to leave you with this and then I’ll stop. No matter what happens know this one thing as the truth. There will ALWAYS be one man who loves you, who thinks you are the most incredible person he has ever known and believes with all of his heart that the world is truly better and special and magic because you grace it. Know that sweet, beautiful girl.

Forever yours,

Matthew Brewes, The Beautiful Imposter 

Sunday Best

Posted in Poetry, Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2015 by beautifulimposter

I don’t sleep any more, not really. Whatever happens when I close my eyes is fitful and restless, plagued by strange dreams that I can’t remember but still they haunt my blood, my bones. I can’t remember what it’s like to rest, I feel like a ghost haunting myself, something wearing my skin but loosely, ill fitting, a child in its father’s Sunday suit, the one he’ll be buried in. I can’t tell the time any more either, I’m aware of the hours yet they make no sense, I am just here and it is always now while the sun wheels through the sky until it doesn’t any longer and the stars wheel instead. I feel lost in this body, I’m longing to touch but I forget how, or am fearful that I’m forgetting, that if I found another body to touch it would be foreign, strange, alien, a collection of obtuse geometries and unfamiliar geographies, like trying to kiss the dust of Mars or run my fingers through the tresses if Valhalla, or thrust into the cold brightness of the Milky Way becoming dizzy and lost in the slow spinning. This is where my thoughts lay, not in my head, outside of it, spinning on vast wheels, twisting from the carding combs into thin, fine threads that tangle, twist like streams of blue smoke from my lips, twining about my fingers in wreaths, hanging from around my neck as beads, thick garlands of holly and mistletoe, talismans, fetishes, skulls or relics, fragments collected in silver filigree or golden ligaments. I am dissolving, I know this, becoming something more and less, a collection of scrolls, bright capitals, illuminated by slow, worshipful hands, the crook of my neck becomes the bell of a trumpet, my belly a cluster of grapes, limbs sheafs of wheat ripe for the reaping, my teeth a flick of lambs lead by the shepherd of my tongue. My skin in the flaying and scraping becomes fine parchment, laid flat, a map of veins and arteries slowly scraped palimpsest, pricked by stylus, scored for new lines, letters small insects crawling along the ladder of my vertebrae, dense text to be read aloud to the canonical hours, some strange liturgy preformed by imbecile mummers to the tune of washboard and rib cage. I become the sounds made by whippoorwills, the burbling of doves in Saint Mark’s Square, a vast thunder of wings, a pinwheel of dusty feathers purple black bruising the fair sky, falling to bits and pieces kept in mason jars like rainwater or rose petals or all the odd screws, nails, door hinges, the bits of oddments that once had purpose but now sleep beneath the rust, crumbling as wood, an old barn falling to the embrace of time, the vegetal insistence of ivy, writhing green and suffocating through lungs tanned and leathern, smith’s bellows cracking, abandoned, unable to draw full breath only fitful wheezing, as fitful as the sleep I can no longer find behind the locked doors of cathedrals that stand alone and pointless amidst naves of trees, open forever to the predations of foxes and crows, those who dream up from the black earth towards the black skies where the stars stop wheeling, become fixed points from which I hang, broke bodied, pendulum, swaying from the neck, all of the joints out of place, rotting under the canals of Venice. Oily waters embrace, filling the empty corners, perhaps here is sleep, beneath the forgetful ceaseless waves, bereft of names, wandering ribbons of ragged white funeral lace, within the deeps, drifting down and down and down until bones twist into strange driftwood tangles, sea smoothed, salt waters carving the ivory beneath the flesh into scrimshaw, bending, warping all of the architecture until it loops and I’m biting my tail, devouring my own flesh, what sacrament could this now be, I don’t even like wine, but my blood is sweet and if I should drink it all down like milk of the poppy, like Buckley’s cough mixture will I finally lay me down to sleep, the kind I no longer know or remember knowing or forget in the remembering? I cannot say, I am tired yet no nepenthe, just ceaseless rustling of all the pages of me left to write.