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

Tag: love

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.


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.

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 down 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, sighing.

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 slipping, 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. I’m beginning to think there’s something in the water; each swallow may well be the last.

A mystic in the wild (another eloge)

In every odd moment I lack the necessary courage to love this life — three, five, seven seconds in the day of nine, eleven, one o’clock and back again.

[Our innocence would make you cry, lost thing, sorry thing,
hug your knees to your chest and be thankful.]

I want to call upon all the mysteries buried in myself, wake them like so many specters. Día de los Muertos, let’s celebrate the madness of life. One by one, masks fall down and my secrets grimace their sublime surprise at having been summoned for such public consumption, such shameless nudity of self.

[I’m looking for a cleaner language, the geography of consecutive circles that Aristotle assures must be the key to all things. Squeaky clean and soaped with the glossy bubbles of a purge, a solitary sun.]

I’m a widow of love; lost breed of unravelled entrails. ‘I love you’ is reduced to its grammatical structure, the subject subtracted and direct object of a  performance enhancing drug.

[I suppose it’s true because I’ve been biting my cheeks again, exsanguination and defenestration of the worries of calcium deposits in my head.]

Where do we get off getting off on an idea of intimacy that never existed?

Fluffy words float like clouds above the heads of so many lovers, nouns or verbs or even adjectives, invented by yours truly (mine not so truly), sloping like telephone lines between one human and the next. Silently, a lesson learnt. A sorry that must be seen to be believed and eyes closed to rationales or blinded by perspective.





Anemic speech acts (your words bruise so easily)

I could say I felt you slipping away again, felt my fingers losing their grip on the hazy mirage we’d built for ourselves, sigh-laced with swelling feelings that dripped like sweat from bodies.  But I wont, I’ve started this habit of 64oz of truth a day, 3.5 bottles left scattered like the remains of “doctors orders” and wont-he-be-proud. I’ve started something and I move slow, but I don’t take beginnings lightly.

“Say sweet things to me.”

The words came ever easier and softer like they’d been waiting to tumble off my tongue, down your cheek into your neck. I made our bed with William James who told me that repetition makes a truth. I arranged the dishes with J. L. Austin, who whispered about the power of performative utterances until every first, second and third kiss became a theory of locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts.

The power of suggestion. The power of words. I search the n-grams for “madness” and find only an EKG. Rate and rhythm, how easily we confuse hormones and hearts.

“This wont last,” you’d  said.

Somehow I felt a comfort in that, felt beautiful in its sorry. I fell into you, lost track in soft spots and tales of adolescence where fingers stole my caution like sun on my skin. Too late I saw your “nothing ever does” was due to the kind of sweeping decision-making you drape over all aspects of your life that are disposable.

This feeling, disposable? Just like anything that can’t be chiseled into perfection and time-blocked into a Wednesday evening between 7:15 and 8.

Let us remind ourselves then how hormones and hearts are heavy things. One is replaceable but the other must be held closely out of reach for lost caution burns and scars like lessons learnt.

“This wont last,” you’d  said. But it will. It will.


Don’t slow down (you’ll catch up with you)

Driving is a good way to run from things but it’s always been a bad way to get caught. There’s something about staring down a highway, that man-made stripe that cuts through hillsides in rural Kentucky or Tennessee or nowhere-city Kansas, that reminds us that no matter how far we drive, we can’t escape the road. Let’s not give this town a real name, lets pretend it’s make-believe, let’s say this town and its spider-web of roads belongs to everyone. It snakes across our minefields and connects the dots between the lives we’ve left scattered behind us along the way. All those humans– the girl with the red hair who smiled at me like we had a secret, the man with the wedding band he twists as he waits for his coffee, the sorry-eyed stranger standing, smoking, that I could have sworn was a remnant of my past but for coincidence and cruelty couldn’t have been. And why? What does a human constellation etched on my ribcage amount to, a splayed hand of would-be loves or brushes of a shoulder that buzzed with importance I was desperate to allot if only to bring some future to the trudging weeks ahead? We’re all desperate for our 7 touches a day, and deficiency drives hallucinations and decisions as bad as espresso cheesecake at 11am.

But here I am alone again and I’m beginning to think we all have the same name, the same face, the same initial that was written in the same way with the same significance and it has ceased to surprise that I might be so easily replaced. Aren’t we all, after all?

Love is a lie we tell ourselves to give a little hope to rolling over on a Melrose morning-after when all we want is the reassurance that we taste sweeter, feel smoother, get wetter than anyone who has ever existed before us or ever will again. We have no future here. The couch knows it, the silence whispers it, the sheets on the bed have always curled away from our feet as if to say “remember when this was easier said than done?” But now, easier done than said for those four letters have revealed themselves to be a bit of a highway themselves. Let me trace the happiness brought by an L, the picture-framed-reality of our O, the V that reminded me what want was, and the E for “Ever” that was anything but.

In no particular order I woke up. I cut my hair.  I payed a man to draw time on my left side, the one with no broken parts, and he said I lied as still as anyone he’d ever seen.  I asked a girl with a sneer to give me something to concentrate on instead of my face and she said she didn’t recommend it but did it anyway. In no particular order I have re-arranged my body. I left him. In no particular order, I have been looking for myself.

I’m still trying to figure out what parts are me and what parts are the ones I made up over time to fill in the spaces between the L, the O, the V, and the E that never really fit together like the fairytales said they might.

But what’s a fairytale if not a lesson learnt about good and evil and the wicked way that heads or tails dont matter in the end? This year has been one of glass houses with glass ceilings and glass slippers left on the looking-glass stares as we all just try to remember how many hours we have left until midnight.

Final count: less than we think, more than we probably want, but let’s chock up our half-way hesitations to a necessary lie. What’s better than a fine layer of glittering ignorance, fairy dust, that lends a little meaning to what our fingers search for blindly in the dark?

Let’s have a drink. I’ll cross my legs, I’ll smile. The name we give it– a noun, a verb– it’s all just a fancy way to say let’s play pretend.




Intervals (or the spaces between my letters)

I’m writing again. Writing because I’ve found that strange solitude that pushes me to do so, the heavy alone carried on a shoulder or a look that keeps me errant down the streets of a city that allots me exactly one secret per year.

I’m writing again because I’m swimming. Swimming in the intervals between my words, my breaths, my letters or the empty space where lonely licks my dripping mind clean. It chases me to corners where I watch strangers for signs of alive and fill my mental pages with the stories they write in the margin of a scattered conversation or a sideways glance. That’s me, knees tucked under and eyes glassed in wavering between invisibility and a presence so violent I feel it burning on my cheeks.  But looking down I see my splayed fingers flicker like headlights on a country road; I’m fading, surely… then again aren’t we all?

It’s the weather or the way of things in November. It’s that sneaking memory of a desire or the desperate tug I have to feel some consciousness other than my own. I call it trouble, and trouble is at best a fickle, fair-weather friend.

Last year on this day in this chair I didn’t know intervals. Last year on this breath, in this circle, I saw dead ends instead of second chances, a long line of mistakes instead of spiraling lessons learnt. But today, this time around, I know that people come to me, willing me to write their stories on my skin, to sift through memories like a prospector to find the pains they’ve tried hide or relegated to forgetfulness.

I think most of us are ever willing to ignore how memories function on a sliding scale. They slip gently down, pooling deep and  patiently waiting for the right combination of clicks or notes or eyes to bring vivid lucidity flooding back into these lives we live half-heartedly, ever batting them aside like sleep out of 4am eyes. Call it collective consciousness or a generational gap, I’m here to remind you– a miner of moments too precious, too formative, for us to have the vanity to believe them so easily brushed away.

But why stop there? Has it been a lifetime? How long have I been holding tight to these secrets, collecting the pieces that slip, the ones whose eyes we meet on the subway and quietly look down pretending not to recognize. The repressed ones that slither into sweat-soaked dreams that we tell ourselves we can’t remember in the morning. Has it been that long?

But these are are our chain link fence, these are our blushing beds, these are the soil of a soul.

No response? No matter.

Yes, poetics are often lost on November– falling short like the day-light savings, like luke-warm morning coffee for one, like the time and like the space between the paragraphs of two lives destined to dead end into a [death] sentence writ to skip.

I wonder if you can read it in my glance or smell it like sleep hanging static in the air when you walk by me in the morning. You’ve taken refuge in some past version of yourself that I only thought I knew, but you stay. Then again I always knew I’d be the one to open my fingers, to release you trickling through my palms to the ground. I suppose nothing surprises me anymore, not the change nor the cycle, and certainly not the spiral of a coexistence based on held tongues and a healthy American complacency with the status-quo.

So here we are. I’m spinning intervals and you’re thinking simply but for bulbs and branches. Here we are again, but we are not fallow. We are not fallow but we’ve forgotten how to grow just as winter forgets the changing of the seasons, just as summer struggles to rise and meet the fall.

I think maybe one day, this November or the next, someone will stumble upon the remnants of this garden we planted with upturned-eyes. A secret garden laden with original sin and those stories we buried in tiny boxes made of ticky-tacky. Tiny whispered secrets that grew branches and found their way to the surface of our skin, a veritable treasure trove of reasons-why.

Lately I’ve been sleepless again. I spend my nights stacking memories, storing scattered thoughts on a windowsill. I’m watching them for signs of bloom, waiting patiently for them to grow into a page worth reading, a page worth forgetting, a page worth tossing for some other perennial scavenger to swallow and re-write.

I lie on a couch that knows more than it lets on, imagining my breath slowly filling the room with a carbon-monoxide haze that will sing me back to sleep. I count seconds until the space between my words has become so great that they turn back to letters, the letters back to ink and the ink back to liquid which runs off the sides of my thoughts into my dreams. I am just a memory of these pilfered moments repressed into a reverie, into a void, into the desire for the comfort of forgetfulness, the most human wish of all.

But I wont take refuge in refusal.

We’re all living in intervals, the space between us gets wider every day.