Triple Point

As you draw closer to christmas, perhaps it’s good to post something that fits the time of year. Something depressing. The title is based on the notion of the triple point in physics, the first temperature at which water can exist in solid, liquid or gas.

 

there is a point
at which friends are neither
necessary, sufficient or useful;
let us call it the triple point
where one is woven in with the background,
stitched to the passage of time.

for example:
I still receive mail for Mr. Daniel Bertrand,
which I place to one side each day,
and which, each day,
the postman places back inside the box
with the gloomy regularity
of a pendulum
My ventures outside become anonymous;
I try not to recognize people or move suddenly
in case they recognize me;
inside, I dart and scurry in hallways lest I get trapped
by a neighbour or lost child.
I have become a rarely-sighted species,
hunting laundry by night and groceries on Wednesday afternoons
the laundry tiger

When one disappears like this
(I think of a chalky white pill dissolving
in a lukewarm glass of water)
it is a gradual process. First
the
edges
dissolve:
one stops talking to those people who require
effort, those friends who are tiresome in one sense
or another.
Next come those who are far away,
then the unreliable
the circle constricts like the shrinking pill,
the shirts you could wear
when younger
which no longer fit right
you are simply a dot in the centre of an
expanding circle of whiteness
that eventually will average you out

Auden said ‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone’
Instead, I remove the battery from my Ikea clock,
accidentally dropping it down the side of the bed in the process;
my telephone cannot be cut off, only cancelled.
Too late, I will receive a large bill for my trouble.
And woven into the fibres of the paper,
so small that even microscopes holding microscopes
could only begin to make out the edges of letters,
are tiny words that reach out and pull me
into a womb of white noise.

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Despair Prevails

Strike the day
From the list by the bed
Despair prevails
Insistent as a switchblade
Writing thin red scrawl
Musings, simply musings
Nothing so coherent
As a stream of consciousness
The pages all torn out
Wrapped in wire and ribbons, dark under my skin

It seems you have opted
For vanity fairgrounds
And golden cups
I am behind the blackout curtain
I think it may be daylight outside
All that grows on this side
Are the uncurling tealeaves
And discarded films
Spiraling mazes left unsolved

There is little time left now
We pull apart the muscles
And grind down the bones
Try to find that divine spark
Like making fire
By rubbing skin on skin
Turn aside for envy
Press out the light against the wall
Every just-glimpsed tress
The only desire left
For a rhyming couplet
Despair prevails

Median Lethal Dose

body

Last night I was having flashbacks again: I see the spokes on bicycle wheels being tightened, each creak of moving metal echoed by a movement in my muscles; hunching, twisting over each other. I see pictures in textbooks of strange diseases, then look in the mirror to see the same picture, my name captioned, anonymously abbreviated. All of my space compacted into the size of a fist. And colours. Green and blue lines coruscating across my eyes like melting plants, the colours running out and making abstract spiral stained glass patterns. A continuous curve traced by a point moving around a fixed point in the same plane while steadily diminishing its distance. Red yellow black white static interference patterns, stopping any other mental activity, truncating the waves. A hand that reached from that space in vision that’s a little in front of you, through my eyelids and into my head.

All this is caused by what that cute French boy in Japanese class called ‘reality overdose’. All things that happen are real, but some are more real than others, although I think he stole that from Orwell. When too many hyper-real things happen at once, reality builds up in the body like a toxin. Given enough time, latency builds up between the thought process and reality. It solidifies.

A girl on the bus asks me if I’m feeling ok. I’m not quite sure where we are, but I’m sure that my eyes are red, because I spent a while staring at them in the chrome reflective bus stop ad. I’m not quite sure where we are. I don’t know why. Reality condensing in the eyes? The input through which most sensory information is channelled, it’s only natural that the problem should start there. I can feel the redness like a slow burn. I realize that several seconds have gone by, and I haven’t answered her. Or was that another time? I have lost the opportunity to respond within a time frame that signifies a normal level of social response to stimuli. I pretend not to have heard, and she asks me again, trying to tilt her head on one side and look up into my eyes, which are focused on a stretched-out piece of gum clinging to the floor. I nod, and get off at the next stop. I remember that I haven’t eaten in four days. Or since Wednesday, whenever that was. The light-headedness makes me stumble as I get off the bus, and I almost knock over an old Asian lady carrying a bag full of empty wine bottles. It has been five days since I’ve eaten.

In pharmacology books, you’ll sometimes see a value for the ‘median lethal dose’, sometimes coded as LD50 to be less morbid. The dose of a medicine, a drug, at which 50% of test subjects will die. The numerical value of Russian Roulette for every substance. From this I learned that less than a millionth of a gram of botox can kill a person half the time, which just proves that there’s no justice in Hollywood. On the other hand, it will take about fourteen grams of caffeine to kill an average adult. That’s 250 espressos. Reality is another substance like these. Less tangible than cocaine, more tangible than feelings. The median, in fact, between emotion and chemistry.

For some, survival is a little like a gift from a former lover. Something to cling to, or discard. It is, logically speaking, a bad idea to kill yourself because of a boy. This is because you only get one go at killing yourself (if you do it properly), whereas you get many attempts to find the right boy. How can you be sure your very own boy is worthy of the ultimate commitment?

I was boiling with the strange thoughts that you get when the internal and externally loaded substances run through your body at time of emotional stress. Condensation accretion accumulation of reality inside my veins was causing toxins to rush to my brain and flick switches at random. How does the body let itself get so out of control? It seems like this particular system is malfunctioning. I see the same girl who was on the bus sitting on a patio at the side of the street. How did she do that? It can’t be the same girl. They all look the same, identical cast-off 80s dresses and slippers, ready to discard those dresses and start wearing flares, tutus, anything else as soon as the marginally more mainstream people start wearing what the hipsters have previously claimed. If you watch very closely you can see it happen.

I’m not sure if it’s easier or harder for you, up on stage. There is a feedback loop that is positive instead of negative. Something like that. For some people there is a vestige of control that allows them to get on a stage, switch something off inside the mind, and channel everything into this controlled explosion, hot line of entropy that distorts the world around it, clears a space in which they can survive. Be alone in a press of bodies like surf, like a bird above the waves. They can’t swim, and the waves want to reach up and drag them under, soak, salt and dry them. Maybe they just stand there and think about the other birds burning in hot entropy.

Vanish

Everyone is vanishing

I meet a face on the street sometimes there is eye contact

I cannot yet read the glances

My world is too small to make out this detail

It is like seeing a wrinkle from space

When I turn around the face is no longer there

And

I turn back begin again

It happens over and over

Every turn more and more are gone

There are so few left now I cannot mourn them

Because misery loves company

Eventually I will turn back and see no one

Editing poetry: Where is it alright?

Rules. I dislike rules. Especially social rules: I’ve never really understood them. In particular, this piece was inspired by my thought that we consider it strange to hear someone singing on the street, and how much time we spend telling others to be quiet. Some of the lines in the second section are inspired by the Radiohead song ‘Polyethylene’

At work
they say
you can’t sing
while the phones are on
those tiny pulses
break me out in ambilateral fusions
down the lines cold lava
keep your mouth shut[down]
or the children will fall down
and spoil their pretty hair

on the crouched busses
music is not allowed
there are signs
we used to hang from
the monkey bars
undulant rider soundwaves
scream the name of the station
happiness, ulceration, earthquake zone, plastic wrap
you must sit with your mouth closed
polyethylene doll

out on the streets
you may abuse your loved one
while the dark hides under the horizon
carve threats and spray wars
leave threatening messages
drape yourself in cured flesh
you should not sing
even close harmony
tubular bells
screech along the delicate
tendrils of the proper noun
we clutch at shame in emotion
search for it
in reflected streetlights
the slight hint of moisture on your skin
hairline faults in
the network stretched out across us
drying and shrinking
withering
the heat generated by
potential difference
broad outside smiles
claws inside

via Editing poetry: Where is it alright?.