Charlotte E. Wilde

Identities constructed on the linguistic champ de bataille | Words, like little foot soldiers, march out in the armies of my poetic failures

Category: control

Overwrite my mind [You know nothing of Hiroshima]

Tu me tues.
Tu me fais du bien.
-Hiroshima mon amour

The trudging of my thoughts keeps me up until I Nyquil them down because being sick legitimizes pillow-talk lies and goddamnit if I haven’t been saving you for a rainy day. My headboard is a hostage cell, tiny tickmarks remember each night spent shaking memories out of my ear like pool-water headaches.

It had, of course, occurred to me that maybe this floor and this room would always remind me of midnight imaginations run to ground, but in the end I decided it was easier to blame it all on December.

Two days in and a three hour drive from anything resembling civilization– if you’d think that would account for a little peace of mind you’d be wrong.  I’d quickly figured out that unlike everything else around here, memories don’t stop for snow-days.

Let me explain…no, it’s too long. Let me sum up. The math of it is simple: I hate interims– it’s too hard to run from things when time slows down. 48 hours and counting, a so-called vacation. 2880 minutes hitting the bottom of my stomach like pennies in an empty wishing-well. 172,800 seconds, strung along like Christmas lights–no use in neighbors trying to out-do each other, we’re all just spectacles of wasted energy, little orbs of dissipating heat.  Each second splits like an atom and I consider that my isotope must still contain particles of us– a love at critical mass, fantasy fission failure.

Or maybe my memory picks and chooses what it wants to remember. I heard once that the average human heart beats 100,000 times per day…but anxiety’s an overachiever. My EKG speaks in morse code:  You can’t go back, it says, when we both know hard habits die old.

I’d closed the curtains on January, but it’s still out there, looming like a bible belt horizon, greenish gold and slippery around the edges. Sure as quicksand, this is no time for stalling, I need to be new. Bleach my mind; eternal sunshine; spotless hatred; Given enough time I can turn anyone’s touch inside out. Given enough heartbeats I can short circuit a feeling, activate radioactive decay process.

And sure enough, like a quarter in a gum-ball machine, the thought of losing you, of watching the skin slough off the bones of our memories, bought me a handful of sleep.


Violent imperfections

  I hover again on another 3AM where this time I’m discovering how the lights of my unwanted skyline lend themselves to new memories like so many Russian dolls. Moments are as fickle as anything else, I suppose. Or maybe when my minds blades have processed and blended a person or an experience enough times over it just trickles away.

My fingers are so cold they forget to hold on to the determinism I’ve been keeping in my pocket next to my agency or regret. I suppose I’m dangerous because I  intermittently want everything and nothing and simultaneously all at once. Stretched truths are things I avoid with ardor, but what of the lies we tell ourselves?

I wonder if my insides aren’t smooth and white like the cereal milk in magazine photos. Inedibly appetizing and thick with the slickness of a grippingly convincing imaginary.

I wonder if I’m even human sometimes.

Exsanguination, population 2 (retrospectively)

Yesterday weakness saw its way to strength but today strength wished many times for weakness. Three days to waste, were we to break? Physical symptoms down cycles of blood that cleanse lingering traces or fragmented tastes still floating in the stream of unconscious. Three days to wash away but we’ve been holding out, not on.

Still, I remember how wistful thinking over motor-oil coffee didn’t blink your eye, and lingering grounds were grounds for laugh when we sat wanting, wishing for a breakfast made of sterner stuff than Cartesian eggs ordered easy but served hard. And no, my floor’s not clean enough for five-second tongues… nor am I. But how maybe you thought rules were bent to be broken and those whispered words sank slow.

Three days to an addiction, did it not drown? Thoughts washed away as a reluctant shower or Monday mo[u]rning meant for one— but they linger longer, leaving washed up ‘no-wake’ memories to transform as after a storm to greener pastures, not greener grass.

Remember glaring yellow post-its in your sigh: ‘I’m tone deaf to hummed happiness, honey,’ I read. But hunger licks flames, toasting tangible feelings of an emptiness and all the milky ways I’ve filled myself with bowls that snap, crackle…but do not remember the multitude of reasons why nutrition was equally as important for the soul.

Can one starve for a person, a thought, or a moment? Such sentiments remain restricted to the asylums of the mind where the sun forgets the way you sound, or smell— soft like steady rain on windows and fear of thunderclaps that resonate, reverberate in my chest, having never known you that way, herself.

Inevitability still lies sticky on our horizon: sinking, setting, swiftly closing in with darkness, where erasure eliminated, eradicated temptation, if only theoretically. Ignored coins flipped tails on full speed ahead but such tales always take themselves to the letter and heads are heavier than a heart hoping for the best of two out of three.

Yesterday weakness saw its way to strength but today strength has wished for weakness many times, and again. But ignorant wishes were no less ignored, no less cyclical for two tropical minds.

So pleas[e] just turn away, there’s nothing to see here but a chalk outline seeping on pavement where electricity flashed and one small shivering sigh: the remnants of a crime, access restricted to an [ex]sanguine nation, population two– the scene where we were, but no longer are, and can only wish to be.

Three days? Right…

6:45AM, Hour 22 

Almost-7Am funds my narsicistic almost-thoughts the way a change collection lends itself to corner café espressos. I say “almost” because I’m no longer sure after such a trek that the dull blade of these thoughts in particular can be considered as such. Perhaps they’re more akin to a roving state of mindful forgetfulness turned mindless remembrance ad nauseum. As such, almost-7Am finds me by the water, coffee in the sorry hand of my memory-laden night and a would-be smile handed off to the barman in place of a tip because yesterday’s 200% is yet another a well traveled mistake.

I make sure to always remember my mistakes. In the morning the groan of the city streets set the slightest triviality, error, or misshapen comment glowing in my memory.  These tiny nagging instances awaken at the first fluttered lash or yawn where their presence makes itself acutely known even through the wishful haze of just-a-few-more-minutes-plea destined to be ignored. Commence the clicking of my worries and regrets, past missteps point to potential for error revealed as combatable only through constant vigilance and a firm hand. However, when indulgence has been too sweet instead of slinking away into my dreams to manifesting as a bloodied AM cheek or aching jaw we hold nuit blanche. I am glassy, ghost-like, somnombule and they, in some sublime show of feverish loyalty, never quit my side. Step for step I retrace the paths I might have followed or may still take, my preoccupations in stride, turning as I turn onto the cool side of the pillow or night and matching their every breath to mine.

The water always soothes me on such sleepless mornings. Something about the beauty in the grime or the leaning lovers who find themselves looking into each other’s eyes for the first time without the brume of alcohol or darkness, both wondering who will draw the line on an evening turned night, turned morning, soon to turn distant memory as such reckless attachment is wont to do. Vaguely I’m remind of naive pasts less easily relegated to the back of the listless line of my trudging thoughts now destined to lapse like an old lover. Perhaps, instead, it’s a glimmering recognition found in the man with sorry eyes– bent over his bottle on the bench yet willing to look me straight down with an audacity found so rarely in the sober while bringing the last sip of opiate back home to his lips. Or maybe it’s in the people who have begun to emerge from the shells of their mornings, blindly walking to the metro where they’ll sit blankly staring until they blink away another day’s work and deftly trace their well-worn path back again. I glance at the twisting canal lying still as some great omniscient black snake, reconciling the idea that this army of pink-eyed dreamers drank of the water’s verdure or city’s allure to render them complaisant in such a looping doldrum life. Perhaps, after all, it’s a glimpse of the occasional vagrant or pair that linger, like myself, on bridges to stare boldly back at the glassy surface of this turbid water, hoping for mirages or answers that might eventually emerge from the depths as an enterprising Excalibur.

These are the elements, the building blocks, that bring me here after my still-hopefull sleeplessness yields its lolling head to a reconciled stretch-and-creak as I leave my night for dead. These moments comprise the salve applied to the burn of my mind’s friction; a walk, a state, a problem not my own. On mornings like this I let myself be lost where the swaying repetition of movement metronomes my mental meanderings as I learn this city’s secrets. And so I wander pavé-lined streets looking for some unknown reprieve or the catch of a kindred eye– perhaps also seeking some lost truth in the opaque depths of an early morning coffee or canal, perhaps also sparking limping recognition of persistant memories clinging closely to both an unforgotten future and a lingering past.

Burning Letters, An Effigy to Obscurification

“[I]f you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”   Friedrich Neitzsche

Some bodies seethe tension, radiating worry as distorting heat waves from summer pavement in the sun.  And I, I am scalding like a thought, flickering orangey-red in the corners, the translucent places of eyes or elbows reveal the molten heat beneath. But skin is merely a container for my esoteric contents, nothing more–so when sleep jerks away as a hand from the stove I know I must burn to the touch.

At night I think I am some unnatural furnace or natural disaster where the ash of so many incinerated thoughts hide tiny glowing embers, ready to re-light past fires for warming future fears. Clicking hollow, dull like a November radiator, I come roaring to life in the dark–- fingers trembling with combustion to slowly melt down bone and being into a voiceless liquid mass. Sleepless, simmer.

And so I eat nothing, only smoldering macabre thoughts and incandescent fears, but flames lick my sticky fingers clean so I travel fast. The greatest consumer consumed, I fly sure-footed and nimble-fingered over every well-known memory or moment, mind glowing in the shadows of another 3AM.

Here, finally, where I can neither speak nor think because I am devouring myself. And so it must be that if you are what you eat

I am, in fact, infinite.

Prose and Cons (Another Sleepless Night)

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset As I’m writing this it has begun to pour, the city is hot concrete and shivering wind and the smell is making me sea sick, thick with memories of the sea. I’m hiding, then standing with my nose to the window and back again. I think I’m afraid of storms: partly terrified, partly hoping the roof caves in, partly just wanting to walk outside exactly as I am, barefoot as you please and hold the force of this driving rain right on my skin.

It’s 4AM again. It’s perpetually 4AM, maybe, and chewing my fingernails until they bleed doesn’t negate red w[h]ine reminiscence, pacing, or wondering at replacement. Everything is cyclical these days, everything brings me back to you. I’m not keen on cold shoulders nor do I dwell on such page 6 indefinites, but I’ve always known something good when I [read] it. And it was– better than 21 days of love lost, better than anything I’d wrung out of fingers or eyes in months, better than the sum of us, certainly.

Part of me, most of me, wants this storm to whisk me up and away like Dorothy—a red heel-less, heedless Dorothy with no dog, no song, only a cowardly lion heart.

Sometimes in life we come across people who are not lonesome, merely think themselves to be. At night they pull loose threads in their relationships just to prove what they always thought they knew eliciting a continuous unraveling where every tiny falter serves as gavel to the sentence they’ve already written in their head. Some people can withstand this sort of thing, this sort of scrutiny, but Plato aside, I was never one for limbs.

I feel a vast aloneness in this wallowing city that seems to want to turn in upon herself;  I wonder actually what will happen if a tornado runs a stripe right down the middle of her, filleted to the gills like Haussmann did Paris. Is that what it would take to remind us we’re alive? Unspeakable, but perhaps a little tragedy isn’t worst thing in the world. The concept of death doesn’t phase me but I’d just like to see it coming– a morbid curiosity that has always kept me in its graces, no different now than ever before. I’ve been told a tornado sounds like a freight train and if I listen carefully, I wonder that I can’t make it out rumbling heedlessly along. Trains have always soothed me, there is something about their iron-sided regularity that is just so reassuringly grim, still it’s hard to tell if the noise ringing in my head comes from within or without.

I only wish I was brave enough to blink, not to not watch you unfold, but blind eyes were never mine to keep and curiosity has always killed for softly shutting doors, no less closed, no less divisive. This is my punishment, a self-inflicted penitence like a coyote in a trap. The leg has got to go but the phantom limb, that will take time.

Heaving silence and sirens, the calm after the storm is anything but.

Seeking A-Muse[ment] (Please Apply Within)

“What’s a girl like you doing with self-esteem like that,” he laughed with a smile that fell off his face at the edges.

I couldn’t say. But here I was, and we both knew I was looking for something. We both were— sorry seekers inching quietly towards a handle closer to a handle on life when, despite whispers to the contrary, it seemed that fortune smiled on the weak and heartless. Two shadows huddled together in a dark corner of a still darker night where dim lighting lent itself to imaginations’ wild and our skyline yawned the toothy grin of her indifference. Through grit-fogged windows I thought I saw the city wink, prodding us astray as a sheep in wolf’s clothing, proffered approval appreciated but never sought. They say the ignorant sinner holds no fault, but I see it glimmer in his eye as he asks me again what I’m doing here.

“I lost something I thought I might find in someone else’s lonely, someone else’s reckless demise,” I faltered.

I didn’t attempt the real explanation of how sneaking thoughts not my own slunk into my mind in the very early morning or very late at night. Neither did I allude to attempted escape from that wavering space where my mind ebbs partialness, allowing another’s voice to fill me up as foreign epics crawl down my fingers and onto my page. Nor did I hint how this, here, was intended as step one in a sort of formal writ of eviction; he knew it all without a word.

Instead I smiled, touched his arm and called it our hallelujah.

“I think what I meant is you sound a lot like someone I once knew.”

“That’s funny,” he whispered, leaning in, “because I think we’ve met. Years ago, last time you let someone dismantle you, I think you came looking for me then.”

I nodded. He was right.

“Your skin’s so thin, I can feel you seething,” his silhouette whispered into mine and my neck tingled warning when I forgot to look away.

Instead I slid the safety off my silence right into the warm span of his open palms. Maybe we’d been waiting for each other, after all, a sinners salvation in a word, two broken phrases cobbled together into something new.

So I traced your memory on the tab and signed your name instead of mine— one copy left in the barkeep’s knowing hand and one kicked to the wind outside, a message in a bottle, a final goodbye. It fluttered from my grip as he pulled me to his side or when I turned, as a cheek to the sun, to see a neon sign blink “Losers;” subtext “I don’t usually do this, but ‘what prose, what prose, what prose.’”