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

Biding [y]our frozen time

My role is preordained perhaps, the dupe or the damsel.

I never mean to wait up for you to come home but somehow I do anyway. ‘Breathing is easy,’ I try to remind myself, wishing my hands would warm and the icy cold of my feet didn’t betray my racing mind when you slide into bed next to me.

I’ve been counting again so I know it’s quarter past 3am. Eyes closed to the obvious, I’m thankful that sleep sounds the same in any  language.

I think our love turned off its read receipts some six months ago, but at the time it had seemed best to pretend not to notice. So I did.  Now, back to backs turned, binding un-cracked, I bide my time and yours. Warm heart, cold feet; with each inhale I imagine surrealist landscapes and wonder if you’ve seen how ice crystals splay dentelle secrets when you sing them a song. I take mental note to stop drinking so much water in hopes of re-gaining some control over my kaleidoscope mind.

In moments like these I wish you knew that I can’t help but wonder about her…about you. Does the thrill of the chase get you hard, does her lust make you feel alive? I mull over the thought that maybe I’m a masochist, a voyeur, because I find myself wanting to hide in your mind, to experience the burn of this new desire on your skin. Does it taste the same as mine?

But your breath whispers that you’re already asleep and between inhales I’m reminded once again how my analogies never add up in time for my my brain and my tongue to coordinate some sort of response. Metaphor’s imaginations mapping tongues like minefields; save it for another sigh, Charlotte, another night.

If you’d only ask me, I’d tell you I’ve been trying to forget, but freezer burnt feelings just don’t taste the same.

If you’d asked me, I’d tell you everything. But when the cigarettes you don’t smoke tiptoe onto my pillow it’s always been easier for both of us to pretend I’m asleep.

If you’d ask me, I’d warn you; nothing keeps forever, not even here in the cold.

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Cashing in my mental phantom load

I’ve been thinking about the phantom load of a memory, the lagging feeling of a thought you can’t shake. I get snagged on these mental preoccupations that exist like a song I can’t get out of my head. And I can’t help but wonder : where does this wasted energy go?

At night it’s phantom loads that keep me up. That sound I hear– is it feet trudging through snow, blood pounding in my temples or electricity pulsing through my mind from connections I forgot to un-plug?

Today I’m thinking about human connection. And sometimes I get sea-sick when I swim in the immensity of the thought of the quantity of people with whom you could have fallen in love, with whom you still might.

Love is like a job, perhaps.  We’re all just biding our time until something better falls into our lap. As we get older, we’re perhaps less willing to take the risk of dropping what we’ve got for an unknown, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t jump at the chance if the right opportunity came along, the right benefits. Does this mean we should always hedge our heart’s bets? Keep our options open? What is “love” in any form but mere convenience? Don’t give up the ship, but how can a realization like this coexist with the romantic ideal we’ve held for so long?

The cultural used-car salesman who sold us this idea of love was actually just trying to make a quick buck.

I wonder about phantom loads, I wonder if I’ll get the bill soon for the things I’ve been thinking about in the night. I wonder if you have them too, and if you’ve been keeping back burners on just in case this pot is slow boil.

Cripple and the midnight slink (I’m your private entertainment, a one man band)

Happiness is almost certainly given too much credit, but never for its stealth. It comes and goes, a bending continuum of frozen blades, crooked and shimmering. Tundra, as far as the eye can see.

We’re all lost here. Monotony, sprouting futures on the windowsill like seeds that just wont take. A green thumb, an eskimo queen who greets you naked with a melting smile.

I catch myself picturing the things I want to do to your skin but tuck them back away. I put myself on pause, a Sunday afternoon spent in bed when we’re counting the hours by like last night’s bruises painted on my neck and thighs.

I collect your compliments in a jar on the mantle. When you’re gone I take them down and spread them around me, crosslegged on the floor. Two at a time I snap them up before the ball bounces twice, until I’ve captured them all. Keep on keeping on, practice makes perfect; I’ll train my fingers to fly.

We’re the performance of a lifetime, baby, two inimitable artists up-staged only by reality, in a Broadway-worthy comédie musicale.  Imagine us heaving, wet eyed and shaking, standing naked on this stage where we’ve just given our all. We’re brilliant, baby, breathless, and we know the reviews will be written with no regard, that commitment is  key. Acting is our allocated lie.

So here I am. I’m still waiting. Writing, I’m writing again with these crooked fingers. The backlogs to my memories kept on ice, I guess I’m back to biding [our] melting time.

Really, what it amounts to is, I’ve been looking hard for the words to tell you

I know I’m your default darling, but you’ve never been mine.

Luke-warm regrets (AKA Tinder, Take 10, but who’s counting)

You’re un-showered but sipping your Americano like you know you’re on deck, watching her watching you with all the anticipation of a casual Goodwill shopper looking for a halloween costume three weeks in advance. You don’t feel bad about the Beiber pants, (after all, you’ve got a plane to catch) but fuck if you don’t smell like last night’s foray into the land of cheap tequila. It drifts off you like the Sunday morning remains of some “mature slash not-crazy” Vegas-style bachelor party– caution jettisoned like whiskey shots or the unsolicited ass grind from a pair of cowgirl boots wearing too much mascara. Still, even with 11AM’s improbable staring you in the face,  you can’t help but imagine yourself two tongues deep in the mouth of this Tinderella.

If you’re perfectly honest, you’ve had one foot on the flight home since you pawned off Miss Miller Light (and accompanying lashes) on Jake’s eager look between bars. Somewhere shy of 3AM you’d Ubered back alone– bells on bobtails ring, swiping all the way, whereupon you’d dedicated an hour to marketing yourself to fellow insomniac, age 28, and seemingly smarter than the average catch.

You’re not one to critique but really, this is just what it’s come to– a generation that sells itself better via text, a slew of photographic sex-appeal culled from social-media humble brags, evidence of eligibility and success. And admittedly, you’ve been spinning like a soccer mom through the human buffet– at once a willing participant and somebody else’s middling fare– happy to be on the winning side of that right-swiped midnight mistake.

This morning found you half-bored and with only a hazy memory of last night’s conversation to go on but 9am room service came with a Bloody Mary side of bold, resulting in a nude hotel-room selfie, complete with strategically covered/not-so-covered junk. You were hoping for a blush but she gave as good as she got and before you could lie, “I don’t usually do this,” you found yourself and your hangover draped in a chair outside a pun-heavy Nashville coffee shop masquerading as not-a-Starbucks.

When she walked in the door your look dwelled like a long Monday, but hell, actual-size doesn’t happen often in the land of love-by-application. Headache shifting into 2nd you’re only mildly surprised to find yourself copying her coffee order– half way so you didn’t look uninformed, half way because you figured she’d find it fortuitous that you take your coffee the same, half way because you were too busy thinking how weird it was to meet someone for the first time who’d already seen you naked. “Cheers,” she says, distracting you from mathematical impossibilities, “cheers” you reply and you compliment her shoes, meaning her legs, presupposing her capacity to read between the lines.

Tinder does have its perks.

Yeah, this girl’s worth a ten second pause. There’s something about her walk, a little awkward and with a bounce that belied bralessness, or at least something close. No, that’s not it. Maybe it’s the way she talks, like she fell out of an indy chick-flick; 500 days of Zoe Deschanel’s little sister, all dark eyes and a morose so palpable you imagine her skin must taste like the last day of vacation.

You picture telling her all your secrets, that you’ve been fucked since your ex, never found a home in another human and how you secretly liked the idea that you probably never would.  “Serial dater,” Frank used to say, but maybe it was more akin to “in love with being unloved,” ’cause you’re the first to admit the minute you start feeling chased you cash in your chips and switch casinos.

Well, you can’t speak for her but personally but you’re plenty comfortable in the cliché of wanting what you can’t have — New York being filled with the exact opposite, having far too much of what you can’t want. The nice thing about the impossible is you can build this lithe creature a sandcastle complete with moat and never have to watch the waves knock it down. Two sips in and you’re already thinking about Skype sex, but hell, let’s just see where it goes.

The middle is a blur but must be a success because she offers to drive you to the airport. You accept, having already fallen hard for the feeling you’ll get when you walk away.

But hey, it wouldn’t be millennial romance if it lasted longer than a replayed Snap. Happy endings are for cult-members, not modern-day heros with an axe to grind and a lifetime-layover’s worth of luke-warm regrets.

Thoughts on time, language and other such slippery things

I sat candy-land still, concentrating as a half formed idea crept into my ear, down my throat and into my mouth. I sat still, but there it stayed, caressing the sides of my tongue, reluctant to slip from lips, resistant to fingers and their pens, fremissante, patient.

I’m not sure how long it’s been, I suppose I’ve lost track of time; I’m sure the clock hasn’t stopped but the hands seem to speed and slow on a whim.  Time can’t be frozen, I remind myself, rendering it impossible to grasp, which is perhaps why we tend to metaphorize it as water– something that is trickling away, through our fingers, down our throats like this thought, slippery. 

I consider that perhaps my problems began with the letter V. I’d never been one for hard consonants, having always had a marked preference for easy vowels like A and E. Still, I tried it on, felt teeth slipping over my bottom lip, the mouth open [ɛ̃] , the sliding /s/ that seemed like the time, like the water, to slip not entirely away but into the space of the final /ɑ̃/ to which my accent vehemently refused me access. Yes, the problem began with that V, with mouths, with letters, with control.

It began with a V and it ended with an F. F for /fʁɑ̃s/, for foreign, for fear.

I’ve begun to conclude that while there are few things we can truly possess completely in this life fear is certainly one of them– we can entirely become it, allow it to become entirely us. Fear and time are similar in that way, at once impossibly ephemeral yet pointedly present, happily spiderwebbing anyone who pays them too much mind.

Temporal binaries and triptychs aside, I’ve a bad habit of living partially in the past, partially in the future and never in the moment. Still, I’m finding that where I’d tended to lose track in the hollow space of a vowel, I keep re-finding my bearings in the consistent touching presence, the constance of a consonant.

Perhaps the problem didn’t begin with V after all, perhaps it merely came back to meet itself at the root — cyclical, like time, a revelatory [re]solution.

 

 

Lost [my way to you]

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Ugly idleness sits uneasy, manifesting guilt in hobbies found & lost, tilt-a-whirl horizons, or hopes of escape from the blade of a cyclical midnight mind. I’m beginning to think there’s something in the water. The night feels deeper here, as though you could get lost– walk straight in and it would fall behind you as a heavy velvet curtain, separating acts 1 and 2 of your life.

Last night I think I found you swimming in the margins of my post-apocalyptic dreams. We were spiraling, splayed in the crease where the words disappear, blank space where milky silence reigns sovereign and poetry yields to our imagination’s wild. Tonight, when I pass the threshold into the void of low-toned bullfrog silence, I can taste you.

I’m standing at the edge, staring at a sky reflected from above as a skewed surrealist version of stars scattered amongst spirals of ink colored algae. The water beckons, black and infinite, and I feel you there.

Thoughtless, I slide into the murky depths. I sink down and tangle my limbs in the weeds on the bottom of your mind and with one slow inhalation I draw you in. I want to drown in your perspective, swim into the recesses of your mind and trade my memories for a lung full of your hoarded secrets. I want the last breath I take to be silent depths, languid liquid, the voiceless, visionless version of a hidden soul slipping into me and filling me up.

I feel you then, slowly thrumming in my temples, chest, veins, until a heavy stillness takes over. Solitary confines spill a freedom born of weightlessness and I am nothing– just liquid, inky silence, and the void of middling missives in a looping life.

I look up. The sky blurs and stretches to meet the horizon, the water sighs and leans to meet the sky, and I, blank and seamless, lie mired in the weight of silky mud. A pale body quietly drifting underneath it all, drinking it in, hair like algae spiraling and glassy-eyes reflecting a skewed surrealist version of the stars.

The night feels deeper here, as though you could get lost, as though every breath could take you entirely away from it all. There’s something in the water; each swallow may well be the last.

Forged perfection: lap(su)s lazuli

What is living if not death in reverse?

“Paroles suffoquées,” she said, or she would have if she could have spoken. I knew what she meant with the silence. What fluorescent vanity to try and quantify that which what we cannot know, to imagine our fleeting role in another’s passing life.

I hung up the phone then I cried, heaving, child-like forgotten sorrow so often controlled by adulthood into silent trickles. The  words that wouldn’t crystalize found themselves wrenched from me even as I wondered why anyone would make such a scene without an audience.

I took a photo. It wasn’t a beautiful photo but I don’t suppose it was was meant to be. I set the timer and crawled back onto the bed. The pose was familiar, if fabricated for the moment, but I saw the need to freeze this grief in time.

Out the window the sky began to decompose on my horizon and I went barefoot onto warm pavement as if the heat and smell could act as a heel click and Dorothy me home. I figured that rain was some form of paltry consolation prize, a participation trophy– you’ve failed again but your spirit hasn’t gone unnoticed.

I ran and it felt indefinite, ephemeral concrete. The fear of lightening strikes and my [ir]rational pushed me over the line into the much coveted blank space when feet hitting asphalt or gasping breath alone showed themselves as inadequate. Between the lines of the pavement I read a story: tiny weeds told me how life ends and starts again and nothing ever changes. We walk the same cyclical pattern, separating from itself only to come kissing back to its source.

I’ve been holding my breath for perfection for so long, I wonder about the time wasted seeking the sweet spot between too much and not enough. Some take for granted the staggering range of colors, others are too caught up in trying to graph some scientific understanding of the laws of light, but we’re all looking at the same painting.

I tried to imagined what you’d say. Maybe remind me how this blue was an accident, this perfection a forgery.

“Let’s frame it anyway, this is what we’ve got.”