Artemis Drifting

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


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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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      She stepped off the bus, shouldering her travel bag and feeling for the lump of plastic over her heart. Good. The passport was still there. It had almost been stolen weeks earlier. The money she could do without, the leather purse and all the neatly filed credit cards within would receive no funeral service. At this time in her life, the theft of her identity was far more of a concern. She had no earthly idea why she felt that losing a cheap plastic binder, a mangled photo and oil-slick empty papers would erase her. In whatever would have become of the hypothetically stolen passport, she imagined, would so befall her as well. Into the ocean? She’d be swept overboard, her legs still tangled in her dive suit with her weight-belt still wrapped around her forearm. If it were to be burned and the flames stubbed out under the boots of an impatient villain, her mangled body would be strewn across the melted plastic shell of a horrific car accident.
Those sorts of horrors, the kind that whisper each time her heart is on the down beat – have a way of sweeping in unfounded paranoia and childish superstitions that quite frankly, ignore most and if not all rules of gravity, relativity, and sanity. 
How did it come down to this? How do any passport cousins – the state identification, drivers license, motorcycle license, military identification .. manage to wield the exact same power? That when lost or stolen, rob us of the ability to move. 
They open doors, they close doors. They get you privileges, they deny you services. The card you own summarizes your worth. It tells you where you can go and when you have to go back.
She must’ve figured it out, somewhere, when she was walking from the bus stop to the office – there isn’t a damn card for your soul.
And ain’t that a fucking shame?

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?

Violent Violet.

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“I ain’t the one you usually talk too, pup.”
I turned my head to the side and ran a finger down the General Surgeon’s warning along the side of my empty pack. Another wishful exclusion from reality, and all it managed to do was leave me wheezing come sunrise.
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Up ain’t safe.

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My dreams are wicked
They drown me beneath miles of sea
and when, finally, I have passed every leviathan
spun uncontrolled in the wakes of their travel
to reach the surface
my wrinkled fingers break through
layers of thick honeycomb
crawling with fuzzy, bloated bumblebees


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Her backyard was earth, but all she saw was the sea. The grass was worn, clipped closely to the heat-dried earth. It nuzzled up high to her house, swallowing the entire bottom floor before rolling down hill and bursting into untamed foliage. The bottom of her yard crashed like a wave, and the brambles that surged upward were the salty foam.
There was a spot beyond the fence that was as mysterious and dark as night waters. Beneath the sprawl of kudzu and stocky wild bushes there was a quiet place. The ground here was moist, dense with moss and clover. If ever there a scent to God’s breath, she would have been convinced that this was it. When she was a child, she felt safe sprawled on the velvet floor, protected by the green umbrella of so many wide leaves. She was so happy there and to speak aloud seemed that it would break the tranquil joy that radiated all around. It was those times that she discovered silent appreciation for life – what moved her rocked her soul, but did not break the still landscape of her face. Through her mother and father she learned what to care for and appreciate, but it was the reflective strength of nature that taught her how to love. Sometimes when she stumbled home from the little nook, she felt so sun-drunk and full that if she tipped, all that she had absorbed would gush free.
She started to grow up. At first, it was nothing but flesh and bones that reshaped. Though she spoke and thought as a fawn, her body had begun to flesh out into a wild doe. And on wobbly legs, walked out into the world. The rushing torrents of a water slide may have blooded her first, when the fine hair on her legs was still tender and blonde, but the sacrifice did not protect her. Hateful, quivering hands found her and she was never the same again. From there, so many fingers came for her – and each one of them left a stain on her skin, and she saw them all as drowning worms squirming up from the flooded earth to breathe. She no longer felt warm, and her smiles were only a show of teeth and nothing more.
She grew and grew. What youth she had she tucked away, folded that little skinny girl up and hid her behind her own ribs. She could not stand to see that child winded, to see her laughter end in misery. As an adult, she found love, but she had spent so long in two pieces – that she had no idea how to free her young soul from behind such dense bone. She tried to be whole, she tried to be perfect. Both of those endeavors turned out to be failures. She was saddled with the realization that no matter the strength of her efforts, she would always fall short and live in a twilight of half-life. The woman decided to return to that backyard, now long overgrown and abandoned.
Today, she has found it again, realizing that her now adult form does not tuck so neatly into this hollow anymore. The weight of her breasts, hips and her fertile womb seem only garish and grotesque. Inside her, there is movement, and suddenly a torrent of emotion breaks the frame of her ribs and spills out steaming. She has birthed her youth into the world again, and laid her narrow, blemished body out onto the small mossy home. Fingerprints were as numerous as her freckles, and the ridges of their owners prints rose like welts on her summer-pink skin. Her breath was sweet and almost indistinguishable from the forest air around them both. 
There, the doe wept over the fawn. If she could not protect her, then she would leave the child in the only safe place she ever knew. 
And from there, begin to drift.

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.


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You’re trying to latch a stubborn earring into your lobe, pinching the impossibly small metal backing in one hand and using numb fingers from a too long elevated arm to pierce a thin spear of metal into the hole dimpling your flesh. Sometimes, this act requires enough experience that a slightly inebriated surgeon might give you a shot at repairing a weak aortal wall. 


Course, seven times out of ten you’re going to drop one piece or another – and for me, it always seem to bounce its way across carpet or wooden flooring to disappear right under my bed. Then there’s getting down on your hands and knees, hearing the familiar pop and grind beneath your left knee cap. It’s worth it. The earrings are cute.


You reach under, grope, and slide your fingers over the floor waiting for the metal to jump up and nip into your palm. It would appear to all be going to plan, and you anticipate once again wrestling with the blasted adornment. This time, though, your finger bumps into unfamiliar leather. You curl your fingers over the crushed heel of a boot and draw it back out into the light. 


You know the owner, you think. It isn’t anyone who has any business with their damn shoes under your bed, but there they are anyways – having lurked with the dust bunnies and the perpetually lost other half of your favorite pair of socks. You cup your hands around the ankle of the boot and without knowing it, you’re measuring. You won’t fit, your narrow feet and nimble toes would flounder in the cavern inside. 


But you’re comparing yourself anyways. You can’t help it. You trace the scuffs, study the fray of the laces and observe the worn rubber soles. You could’ve never done all that, and the history floods into you like a powerpoint dedicated to cold calculations based on comparative yardsticks. There’s nothing like you on this boot, not a single touchtone for you to connect with. 


Anxiety follows, and you have suddenly created a shadow leg that has spilled upward from the black mouth of leather that would have cradled the curve of a muscular calf. Then in panic, you find the boot’s match, and before you know it you’ve created a golem of your own fears. You start to see it in your mirror, and no matter how much you rend your flesh before it – it’s never good enough. It haunts your steps, crawls across your vision when you see loved ones and robs you of your confidence. You blacken your eyes, bind your hair, thrust yourself wantonly towards anyone, anything, that can see through that shadow and still reach you.


But the truth of the matter is, you created a monster that has stolen your bravery, your esteem, your beauty and your hope. Even if you had not dropped that earring and went looking, soon enough, those boots would have walked out on their own.


It is unavoidable.