Day 23: Fugue State: A Wind of Change?

Can you be nostalgic for a time that you never lived?

Now, I understand completely how gauche it is to use a link and reference of this level of recognition for a pigdin little piece, but bear with me. I’d been meaning to write for this song for a while now, and the prompt for today gave me the push I needed.

It’s a curious bit of happenstance, really. I was on my way to the library, in a vaguely unsettled frame of mind, and Wind of Change by the Scorpions was the first song on my playlist. I ended up listening to it on repeat, because it was making me feel mournful but hopeful, which is a good thing to take away from a bad morning. After having listened to it eight times times, plus one time right outside,  I walked into the library to finish my book.

I was three chapters into Erben der Erinnerung by Philip Meinhold, which was the only perspective book on the Holocaust I’d found in our German library. It’s a singularly stark and stirring description from a man examining three generations’ worth of emotional inheritance. The lack of delicate handling of the theme and his prose create an almost tangible atmosphere around the reader, and I’m bad at separating myself from words to begin with. I kept reading and would have taken too much away from it, had the last chapter not included a sudden mention of Wind of Change by the Scorpions, and the importance of remembering your own place, too.

Naturally, I was floored. It’s a decently sized coincidence that I spend all morning binge-listening to a song, and it happens to show up again a few hours later, at the back of a book that would have left me disturbed. I was sitting there, staring at the book like a foreign entity, when a loud CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! alarm went off, and we were herded out for a fire drill. I walked out into the garden clutching the book, for all purposes yanked rudely out of a fugue state. Everyone was chattering excitedly as we waited in the wintry sunlight for the all clear, and I leaned against the embankment, watching the girl next to me gesticulate wildly, with a mini-extinguisher tucked under her elbow. It woke me up for five minutes, and ten minutes later the effect of the book receded somewhat more…..  but why should it have had that effect at all?

Can we be nostalgic for a time we didn’t know? Millenials who are moved to tears by Toto’s Africa, or every Rock lover in his teens who swears by the unchallenged greatness of AC/DC- what are they nostalgic for? “They don’t make music like this anymore”. You’ll read the same refrain under every music video on YouTube from ten to fifty years old. But what do  you want? How do you plead allegiance and understanding to a world even your parents didn’t exist in?

And yet, I’d be loathe to call it pretentiousness, because it isn’t. We want to feel understood. We want to feel belonging, in a place or time where it feels as though what we are feeling reverberates with everyone. That wanting fuels this nostalgia, this ache and unsettledness,  sense of unhappiness, that had I been born in this time, or had these places/people/events existed as they do in this bit of recording, we would have been happy. And while that is testament to how much music can evoke, I’ll blame our own unreality a little, too.

Or at least, mine. Being enthralled is one thing. Being adrift, another. After a point, it’s not the burden of creativity but the sheer inability to cut the umbilical to a world that doesn’t exist anymore. We are in the here and now. And it’s often ugly and unbearable, but this is where we exist. There isn’t any refuge in an imaginary world. But there is respite, and I’m grateful for it.

It’s hard to walk away completely unfeeling, when you read descriptions of such horrors. Of pain that has saturated generations, of children born angry for an injustice their parents haven’t known. A world away from all this, even dipping your toes leaves you walking stained for a little while.

But walk away. We cannot look to a future when we inflict the past upon ourselves repeatedly. And there’s still hope. There’s a wind of change coming yet.

Fugue States

This road does not exist

The houses long burnt down

Someone wrote of the cracked bones

Embedded in the ground

Trees have grown over the paths

Rain took the remains

Yet I stand and stare at what was

And come away stained

What lives here has already endured

a hundred years, will live a thousand more

There are traces of words in every inch

Handprints on the walls and floors

My fingers know the stories here

Hieroglyphs, stick figures, seeds,

Unfathomable as an alien landscape

Unblinkingly there, like a wound that bleeds

Again, and again

I hum to the refrain

I don’t know this language

Of a world that is ashes

But I’ll cry for them, because

we all speak pain.

We all speak pain.

©️Yusra

23.04.2018

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Confessions

The softly blushing expanse of skin
of your neck, tells me stories
Thrills that thrum through your veins to mine,
Unspeakable mysteries
Messages that shake the
Foundation of my being
Premonitions, visions, you are
A puzzle with no clues
But your breath hitches
As I splay my fingers
And hold you
And in inexplicable understanding
My heart races too
You’d reveal nothing to my everything
But I know- your eyes do
What passes between us is not heard

I can’t stop reading you
You’re a book with no words

 

 
‘Confessions’

(C) CM
08.09.2016

Take That Write Up Ahead

 

 

I barely know where to start.

 

I’ve been on the fence about starting my book for so long. There have been at least fifty false starts and immediate cancellations. I’ve been writing anonymously for four years now. I feel an almost physical need to shed this veil now.

 

So much to write. So much to say. So much to record and so many stories to tell. I wonder if I’m being a complete blockhead by leaving so much unsaid waiting for some elusive Happily-Ever-After. I haven’t stopped looking for my way out, but I wonder, am I making a mistake by waiting for the end of the road? The path promises to be long- why not start now?

 

It’s been weighing so heavily on my head these past few weeks, that I found myself consciously avoiding writing. Inspiration would strike and I’d hesitate to jot it down. Writing- my only real voice anymore- has almost become another failed dream.

But this is NOT a dream I’m willing to give up on. I will have this. It will be my vision and my revenge all rolled into one. There are stories that I’ve never been strong enough to share, people who need to be unmasked in some way before I die, otherwise the injustice of their lifelong farce would tie me to the ground. And, sadly enough, death is an altogether too likely fact I must consider. My existence is solely because of my anonymity. Were it to be known I had begun to speak, to leak these truths out… let’s just say, Cookie would suddenly stop posting altogether.

But that’s a risk I’m willing to take. This a story that I have to tell. Holding it in is eating me from the inside, especially now that I’ve become stronger, and I’ve begun to realise the weight I’ve been carrying. These sleepless nights and constant dull heartache are hypoxia, from holding my breath. I refuse to strange myself. I refuse to let something as trivial as death strangle me.

The ending can wait. I’ll know my ending when I get there. But even till I’m done, I have a story to tell, and I won’t deny myself the relief of telling it.

 

 

 

I Won’t Read You

I Won’t Read You

 

They promised me happiness, all
the books I read growing up
There was always a happy ending
The fantasy isn’t the hunched, warty troll
It’s the concept that he could find
A partner-in-crime-troll
To live under the bridge with him

Fantasies
Lies, all lies
Don’t you see?

They’ll promise you happiness, all
the books you’ll read growing up
Escape, millionares in the sand, endless limbs
I give up
They all lie
They don’t write of life
Don’t you see?

Find me someone who will confess
To the moments of madness
to loneliness so acute that it sharpens
like a cocklebur digging
Like a parasite under your skin

Find me someone who can find love in
plain brown eyes
In the anger and the heartache and the confusion
Will he glorify my redemption?
I won’t read him till you promise me
He won’t lie
And if he writes of a love
That can hold me when I cry

I might read him
I could believe
I won’t promise, but
I’ll try

 

 

 

 

(c) CM

04.09.2016

 

 

Prophet

Prophet

 

Back when I was a kid, I used to haunt my neighbor’s bookstore. That’s probably the best kind of neighbor a kid could ask for, growing up. His house was a treasure trove- comics, novels, magazines, some stuff that wasnt entirely age appropriate, some completely inappropriate.. and a fellow partner in crime, a girl a few years older than me. It wasn’t enough that the both of us spent every moment not in school or doing homework, together. We’d prowl around in her dad’s store/library, reading books carefully without bending their spines, putting them back, and moving on. We were fixtures there. That’s where I met Prophet.

Prophet was a big guy. In my recollections he seems even bigger than his sizeable 6′ 6″- when you’re a kid, everyone does seem a lot bigger. But the scraggly beard and trademark flannels that would be intimidating on someone else, just served to soften him even more. His real name was Sam, but hardly anyone called him that. The name ‘Prophet’, I found out later, was a college tag that had followed him for his whole life because of his invincibility. He had been in not one, but four near fatal accidents. Two on the road, and two at the construction site where he moonlighted. Not that he was particularly clumsy, he wasn’t at all, really. Just had really bad luck. The last accident, which had totalled his car and one that hit him, killed the other guy on the spot. Prophet had crawled out and dragged himself across the wreckage, which is where the EMT found him when they came. He lived, but the last one had taken his back. He would walk with a peculiar shuffling gait for the rest of his life. When he got to know us better and realized that we weren’t a pair of squealing, squeamish teen girls, he showed us the scars around his calves, too. His calves were nothing but scars.

That, and his odd knack for telling people the right thing to do, had earned him the nickname ‘Prophet’. He was a big teddy bear of a guy, all seriousness and wry jokes around the adults, and an infinite amount of patience for two girls who asked him an endless stream of questions about anything and everything, all the while devouring every book in their reach. Technically, we weren’t the same age. I was eleven, and my best friend was fifteen. That didn’t matter as much as it seems it would, we had exactly the same interests anyway. And Prophet was so familiar a face that her dad would often leave him to manage the register and keep an eye on light fingered customers, if he fancied a chat with someone, or took a break and went off fr lunch. The only times we couldn’t badger him would be when my neighbor’s son stopped by, all grown up at seventeen and having man-to-man conversations about girls and what not- Prophet didn’t care, he treated us all the same anyway, but a couple of kiddie tag alongs aren’t good for a newly cool guy’s image, so my friend’s brother would turf us to the back.

Looking back, I can’t pinpoint what moment was so significant in the impact that he had on us. Or maybe there’s so many of them that I can’t think of one that stands out. What I do know for sure is that he was one of the most important formative influences in my young adult life – some of the lessons of which I’ve carried well into my adult life. Whether it’s his penchant for smoking Reds (which I frowned upon back then), the fact that he drank coffee black as Lillith’s heart (which I would gag on back then, but drink multiple times a day now), or that staple uniform of flannels, which I still associate with safer times, happier times. Or the fact that I learned as much about the real world from him, as I did about the world inside my head from the books around us. About honor, about courage, about morals… never in so many words, often as stories or recollections. About loyalty, about love- the value of both, and the pain of both when broken. His wife left him during a particularly rough patch with his disability, and he never really moved on. While me and my friend used the forbidden words for her when alone -the bitch- he didn’t even need to move on. He loved her, and that was enough for him. Just like he dealt with pain- every. single. day. But it was just pain, and he was master of it. We’d know on days when it was really bad, but the man never complained, never made an issue of it. He was fine, it was fine, everything was fine.

Kindness. Patience. A sense of humor that led him to tolerate out nonsense, and on whimsical days, even contribute to it. Like finding me a solid window frame from God knows where for the rickety shed I built on my roof. Other kids had treehouses. I had a room made by own two hands. I probably wouldn’t anyone’s kid come within four feet of such a dilapidated construction today, but back then it was a fortress. It would be baking hot in the sun, but I’d be up on the roof, away from the shouting that would filter through from the house, and I had a fucking window. Not even the boys had fucking windows.

Things changed eventually, though. He didn’t tire of our questions, or of the fact that his adolescent fan club had whittled down to one. My friend finally discovered guys when he hit sixteen, and boys finally separated us in a way five years never had before. While she fought the make up fight, I was still struggling along with my usual, now working through a pile of my grandfather’s books that had been shipped in from Moscow. And while I pestered Prophet with incredulous questions about Marxism and the World Wars – I always asked him. I doubt my father can even spell ‘Marx’ without asking me which exam I’m asking for – while this fabric of the bookstore bunch frayed, things were changing in his life too. His father passed away, when I was thirteen, and suddenly he was faced with the responsibility of having to care for his mum. I think he was thirty eight at the time, or thirty nine. But he was gone for a month, and then when he came back, he came back only to wind everything up from here and move away permanently. I barely spoke to him for five minutes, while dad watched suspiciously from the window as a guy a good head taller than him stood on the doorstep, handed me a box of his old comics, and told me I’d always been a good girl, and a good friend to him. And that if he was a prophet in any way at all, I’d be in his prayers. None of which made much sense to dad, but it was one the first real partings for me. I was old enough to know, and to understand. We probably wouldn’t see each other again.

This was well before facebook and social media. I never even got his last name, any way. I like to think that he did move on eventually, and had kids of his own to be a great father to, instead of just to a lost kid like me, and some others. One of the first things I ever wrote was in the diary that he gave me, and that my father later read, triggering one of the worst periods of my life- but that’s a story for another day. I wonder if he’s even read my work somewhere, anywhere. Would he know that the girl he gave a window to, shared his poisonous coffee with, has grown old enough to smoke her own Reds now, write articulately enough to miss him on the Internet, and have an obsession with Orthopedics? I do hope he knows. I also hope he knows he taught me how even seemingly indestructible people can be secretly vulnerable. How pain is just another beast to tame. And how a little sincere attention given to a growing, shaping mind, can shape an entire person. Now I’m trying to be that person for a friend’s younger sister, who’s recently begun to write poetry- quite seriously for a fifteen year old, and none of that Insta-crap either. And as I write back to her about how her sonnets work, and how punctuation fits in, I know Prophet would’ve been happy at least with some of the ways I turned out.

To Sam.

Fluctuat nec mergitur

I think I made it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream Psychology (My Apologies to Freud) 

Dream Psychology (My Apologies to Freud) 
I don’t suppose you could put

The meaning of life in a nutshell

– the meaning of life in a bookshelf, though… 
Seems an entirely plausible venture 

After all, you can only study human anatomy 

Best, in the city of bones 

It’s not even tunnel vision, in 

Keeping with the fundamentals of physics, when 

You focus solely on that, of mice and men

– and what then? 

A treatise of biology? 

The surgeon, the apprentice, the fallacy?

The third twin, the imposter, a philosopher’s stone

Seen through a golem’s eye, a man made of stone 

Lemons and lemonade, defiance 

The Bible, the Quran, and Science

The ideal woman, Karl Marx- a feast for crows 

The art of war, the centaur, and selected prose 

Salome, Wuthering heights, the picture of Dorian grey 

The haunting of Alaizebel cray?

-Whose image can I find? 

What is the sum of these stories,

The damned recollections of all lost

Human kind? 

Nested upon each other, dimensions, ideas 

Instigate 

The meaning of life is hidden here, in this

Wooden house of pomegranates 
©CM

10.04.2015 
Day Ten! Today’s prompt is to make a poem out of the titles on your bookshelf. My apologies for the higgledy-piggledy write! Got a bit tough, too many textbooks. And nothing about ISC Mathematics is poetic! 😕