Artemis Drifting

Just because she tippietoes, doesn't mean she's a creepin'.


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In my friendships, it was the union of our mutual griefs and joys that brought tears to our cheeks. Hot, sticky – with rolling breath filling in the fleshy caverns between.

It was cold when I laid beside the numerous pits in the rock floor, my fingers exploring the grooves within. Above me, in this cave, were explosions of wet fauna seeking to lattice downward and veil me into this cave. Here, my fingers bruised and bloody, I feel the women so far back pouring sweat from their temples as basket after basket of rough root or dried corn into paste for substance. In these intricate notches, I wonder when they went to gather the remnants of a days work – do they sweep them to the center of a pit without another thought or do their calloused fingertips gather the grainy discharge to the center of their bone-dry palms.

Rediscovery- the face that so many years was a sewing needle distance from your own, suddenly thrust into a world. I say a world – because I have no right to break it down. It was simply somewhere other, a place that the sun was left to simply skim over the dense fogs and the swollen rain clouds above. 

Some of us, that day would be the most marvelous of natures wonders. For others, like myself, my soul climbs, leaps, flies to the very point of the needle – and with one great big breath – scatters it all, so those young gents and gentlewomen can throw their heads back and see the true stars – dying messages, infant sparkles, the sky so blue that it urges those who would seek more to find that stone of cobalt blue within themselves. The sky, the stars, they do not attempt to reach you to impart a message. They reach towards you to find a comrade, a brother – because as you use the skies to see their extraordinary powers – their abilities see the budding galaxy within us all.


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What cruelty we bring, coming into another’s home and claiming it undone. When the hammer comes down and catches the back of my spine, having each bone scream pain to the next, I am frozen.

I becomes her, and soot sweeps beneath brutishly short nails.

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They say being unable to acknowledge insanity is a sign that one is truly insane.

But in the twilight of madness, there must be some sort of acknowledgement. Before the sun sets entirely, can man finally turn to see the shadow that has followed him for so long?

She can’t bear to turn around.

Instead she looks at the knobs of her wrists. Skeletal, the bones are winter trees on an empty skyline. Her fingers do not lay, they crouch. Bruises mottle her skin because she cannot bare to watch herself reach out to grasp what she needs, the very action reminds her of reanimated corpses clawing their way to air they do not need.

Her pores leak shadows, becoming beginnings of inky umbilical cords unfurling away from her body. Soon they will find their way into the moldering bodies of her ancestors, and between them, spark life into dormant genes.

Do you know what Unjust really is?

As much as I want to spin it into being a story of redemption, a collection of therapy sessions – it really is only about grief.

It is a lament of the generational curse, one of which none of us have ever been able to escape.

We die standing, we die in institutions, we die in secrets – hidden away in the many held breaths of those who still survive.

But still we breed.

Because what crawls behind our eyes will always need more.


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Chagrin, she tells herself. It’s all about chagrin.

She finally understands the insistence of philosophers on human absurdity.

But she stands on the edge of the roof in ill-fitting stone washed jeans. The waistband is a vague gesture at her hipbone, those which cut like shark fins.

The wind picks up and her hair becomes a forest of chestnut kelp. It runs with wild abandon along her exposed ankles and billows her awkwardly cut sleeves.

She closes her eyes and turns her face toward the sun, the light burning through to create a bloody horizon. She thought if she refused the nipple at birth, her mouth screwed shut – she could avoid being tethered to this world.

The infant had become a woman who had been fed the lies of choice. Each choice was to be a step upward to freedom and enlightenment. The Ballot was to instill in her confidence that her opinions could change the world. The Degree to certify her knowledge. They turned her over and on her blank skin inked in nine numbers.

Curling her toes, she feels the sandy surface of the shingles biting between callouses. Her childhood games were preparation for adulthood. Play correctly and you will be rewarded. She was told that the wicked would be punished for cheating and her revenge handled by authorities. The reward for staying beneath the skirt was unthinking joy. They regarded the power of the human spirit with the same respect of as the urge to empty ones bladder. Uncontrollable, yet able to be channeled through the proper facilities with societal suggestion. Emotions now had labeled wastebaskets. The psychiatrists bin for madness, the doctors bin for sadness, and the jail bin for guiltlessness.

She touches the hollow of her neck and opens her eyes, her irises becoming silver wire in a mere heartbeat. The light swallowed her as she pitched her body forward, hands like starfish in the sky.

Forward did not indicate necessarily the empty stories of air beneath her, nor the solid safety of the roof behind her.

The one choice she found that they could not teach or steal from her was love.

And to her, it never really was a choice at all.

What was most important to her came like heat lightning in the summer’s haze. And try as they might, love was a hurricane they could not blow away. Still now, they plot, to break up vapors in the sky. But if love does not come as a raging storm, it will be the stream’s chilly current at your calf. And if they block the flow, it will always find a way to gallop through the bloodstream and straight to the heart.

Absurdity, she thinks, is the way they say head over heels. They want love to sound foolish. But she knows if she keeps her eyes on the sun, every direction is up.

Those stairs are real.

Those stairs go somewhere.

Find your staircase in the sky.

Stray Cat Strut.

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She buried her face in the crook of her elbow. Eyelashes sticky with tears and gummy from mascara fluttered like the wings of a dying bird against her skin.

She did not close her eyes.

The back drop fell away, crashing to the ground thunderously. The vibration shot painfully up her shins and stayed behind her kneecaps like troublesome nettles.

It did not matter where she went, for moments after arriving, everything around her would leave her behind.

Seconds before she had been surrounded by trendy, cheaply made clothing that hung from sari-wrapped walls. Hermit crabs twitched nervously in painted shells, shying from the tender fingertips of inquisitive children.

The music overhead was an eccentric blend of East Asia and techno. Only the continuous, hard and insistent beat of the drum soothed her. It was the only thing that felt human in this place. Everything else was coated in a thin shell of plastic, hardened chemicals from fast industry lines. Insides were bits and pieces of children that never got to play with hermit crabs. Children that would grow up with legs bowed and spines hardened like an arthritic fist.

Grief tore at her, but could not possess her. It reached, but could not grip, the stickers that announced discounted prices muffled its screams.

Inside everything was a story, but they were all stories she could not tell. They were butterflies she could not catch. Some of them would stay with her long enough that she could memorize the rainbow sprawl of their wings. Others the half second flash of a fishtail during dusk. Either way, eventually, always, they left her.

So like the stray cat, she wandered in and out of scenery. She tried to hurry before the walls fell. She tried to run before the sound of their papery wings alerted her to the next departure. She was second look, second best, the chalky line from where anxious runners began.

Carefully, she stepped over the broken habitat of the crabs, waded waist deep through poorly translated buddhist wall scrolls and onto the next scene.

No one stapled her blurry visage to light-posts.

Her first name was After, her last name was Thought.


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She’s got all the lights on. Illumination finds its way into the crevices of plush furniture and into the metal mouth of a half full coke can. It even burns through the thick comforter over her body, making her skin warm to a dusky-rose.

But it’s not enough.

Televisions from three rooms throw their voices past the doors they are behind, disorienting carefully planned sitcom humor to gibberish when they encounter each other. Cliques at a party, she thinks, everyone is talking about something important to them that the audience could care less about. Just talk louder. Someone’s voice will get hoarse first. She even welcomes the abrasive howling for territory that bounces across the lake and splinters into fretful keening on the rocky shores.

It should be enough.
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Intentionally Blind.

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I’m sure I’ve said it before, you know – the fact that it isn’t always easy for me to speak freely. Of course, I could always just take a browse through my archives and come up with enough examples that the whole first statement becomes ludicrous in light of said research. I’m sitting outside and it’s a pleasant day. The sort of day that makes you itch to go do something, even if it isn’t something you really enjoy. Already the sun is setting and I can hear our neighbors boats cruising in to dock up for the night. It’s well enough to be boating when it’s sunny, but the wind will nip you until you’ve got too many goosebumps to count when you’re gunning it to get back home.
To those who’ve kept up with me these past few months, it’s no secret that I’ve been having a rough time of it. Frankly, I’m having trouble finding a memory to indulge in that’s fresh enough to erase the pain and discomfort that I’ve been subjected too. So all I can do is take the snippets of pleasure I get between doses of foul medication, stomach aches, anxiety attacks and strangle them to get every ounce of relief out. It’s tough feeling sorry for yourself, it isn’t something I’m real good at. I have a habit of gauging myself against the entire suffering world and finding myself with no excuse to be as down as I am. But here I am anyways – and I’m sitting outside on a spiderwebbed reclining chair and listening to the stray dog we’ve adopted rustle through the trees that lead down to the lake. I want to feel miserable and sorry for myself, I want to crawl up into a musty hot attic and sleep until the sour feeling in my stomach goes away.
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Wince and remember.

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How does one record the events of life? Not only for themselves, but the other beings one encounters throughout living? There’s a certain arrogance that must be attained to summarize the scope of a person into a mere flashback. It’s impossible to wrap up the experience of life of another into a hundred books, a thousand snapshots, and countless retelling of stories. Even when I sit down and feel the desire to write, I find myself helpless in even describing myself. This is not exclusive to sentient beings, even the deepest gorge with the coldest water can be stripped soulless of beauty.
Of course, some of you are thinking – what in the hell is that little rant about? I don’t know, I can’t tell you. The caution I feel in describing any event, emotion or person is enormous. I often find myself whittling away at my own personal works, tearing jarring sentences apart and eradicating unnecessary remarks. There’s a charge on me, a debt, that I have felt ever since I could hold a pencil. I have within me a voice that is remarkably silent until I take up the task to write. It’s a voice with far more wisdom then I could muster with a thousand years of life. It tempers my fingertips to war ready steel and creates a floor of eggshells as my path. I must tread with utmost care and at the same time, wield my words to pierce on the first strike. There can be no feinting, no lingering battle with an explosive ending. It must be as perfect as it is raw, and my blade must still be hot from the blacksmiths forge. Otherwise, I have animated a corpse. A mere parody of what I truly experienced.
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The hot concrete of the dock had made my jean shorts unbearably warm. Luckily, it was the time of the evening when chilly breezes rolled over flesh and pimpled it in its wake. My legs are not long enough, even with my toes pointed they do not skim the luke warm river below. 
I remember the days before I graduated high school. It was a ritual in my imprisonment that before graduation, one must do a series of cultist activities. Ah, I mean senior bonding. Someone’s mother had scurried into the Dollar Store and snagged cartloads of tea-lights. The ceremony consisted of each senior lighting one of the tea-lights wicks, take a good bend in the water and dip. The intention was likely to see the little fiery candle-soldiers braving the vast unknown to disappear in the dangerous waters of the Tennessee River. However, the ending result was half the boys murdered their tea-lights by lighting them and tossing them casually into the waters with no real grasp on buoyancy. The girls were much more careful and cautiously released their wax ships once they had achieved stability. The end result was that no tea-light got more then twenty feet before being turtled by an oncoming wave. Most found this hilarious, I was more horrified then amused. Mind you, morbidity is my thing – but the sight of allegory souls being drown one after one in quick succession is disturbing. 
I’m on the dock right now, and I continue to strain my legs. A scoot forward, and I am rewarded with the tip of my big toe caressing the surface. But my pleasure is dimmed, because I cannot shake the sight of those flames being extinguished in a wink. Inside of me, there are essential fires. They charge each emotion, desire, love. Would they fall pray to being blinked out if I were to plunge into those waters? Would I float away, heart ripped wide and head full of nothing? And more importantly, on shore, would there be anyone watching in mirth?

Old Nightmare.

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I have awoken to an apocalypse this time. The air is hot and stripped of moisture, mercilessly burning delicate tunnels of flesh in the breathers nostrils and turning the caverns of mouths into stone deserts. 
Around me, shells of wheat stalks crack and tear away from the dusty earth each time the wind surges – invisible tsunamis that remake the barren landscape again and again. 
I have found two children, twin boys whose hair would be the color of bleached straw for not the filmy coating of sweat and grit that has obscured what beauty may have lain there. The crowns of their heads would be like the noon-day sun if they were not so filthy. They are living examples of the sky I can no longer see. Their clothes are paper thin, the parched skin beneath endeavoring still on to cover the sharp protrusions of their malnourished, bowed bones. 
I am carrying them. They cannot walk, their flesh has thinned over their cheekbones and split open. Vicious fluid bubbles and dries, layering like rose petals open to obscenely expose the white bone beneath. Neither one of them cries, and they breathe in whisper exhalations and the sighs that dip their narrow stomachs close to their spine. 
I do not know where I am going, but I know I am being followed. Whenever I step forward, I feel the ground behind me grow dense with the intention of pursuit. It is a long time before I finally look over my shoulder to confront the being shadowing my journey. 
But there is nothing to be seen, and even with the dust hovering thick in the air – I know it is no man nor monster hiding beyond my range of sight. It is only with that acknowledgement that I feel the curious urge to look at the path I have been traveling endlessly. 
What followed me, and the dried shuddering children in my arms were my own footsteps. The toxins, the disease, had begun to long ago strip the flesh from the soles of my feet. Bloody prints sank into the earth, speckled chunks of skin and fat. The hot wind could not reduce the blood to dried, obsidian flakes. I stained the earth like virgin blood, and the evidence of our travels could not obliterated. Not by war and not by the pitiful few scavengers that still scraped out an existence hiding under the cool shades of warped stones.
It did not matter that I knew not where I was going, only that the children were starving cherubs of hope and I would not give up and roll them into the yawning caverns of sink holes that mother-earth had torn open in her death throws. I would find them life, even if I had to feed the poisoned terrain with my life to ensure due passage.
I did not look back again.