Saturday, May 2, 2015

Julie Wells: Poetry

Wide Open

Your heart is a crowbar, your heart cracked my skull wide open
I don't remember my hand on the the door, but there it is, wide open.

We always walked the railroad tracks. We kept our pockets full.
Lanky shadows and bony feet, blisters split wide open.

I find your pieces everywhere: notes scrawled with a heavy hand.
A tangled necklace, a tarnished charm. A slap with a fist wide open.

All those times I felt you, a heaviness beside me in bed
the shape of your body burned into my sheets, the eyes the mouth wide open.

Your smoke still hangs all around me. I suck it in, sweet and grateful.
Something to tide me over. I look for you always. I leave my window wide open.

To Pass an Ex-Lover in the Street

Not one word. Not even a slip of sugar-sweet tongue. Keep still

your teeth, made slick with nicotine and lies. A nod of your head

an earthquake; a wink of the eye rimmed sickish and bruised,

a knife in my back. So hold fists balled in pockets deep: no flutter

of milky hands, no sapphire threading. No flash of bloodied crescent

fingertips that once traced my body's lines against secondhand

cottons. I beg you. Turn away the inky head, its imprint lingering at

plump inner thighs: still visible to a trained, quivering eye. The throat

that throbs pulsing with blood dirtied and black; that dip in the flesh

I sank my teeth in, creamy blue. The mouth raw and swollen I took,

whole, in my own, sew it shut and move steady, please! Pass silent,

smooth vapor. My image travels through your cones and rods, fragmented,

apart and away. Tangible: to reach out and touch, to feel, just don't.

Young Love at Dawn

I remember you in flashes.
Blurred and frozen moments -
a picture taken off guard
by unsteady hands.

I remember us both,
living someplace where it's always morning:
forever trapped in the cool, misty moments
just before the hateful dawn.

Lying side by side,
bony knees cutting hot fleshy thighs,
warm beneath our blankets of regret
twitching and falling into shaky sleep;
we fake our dreams when dreams won't come

A fistful of nightgown;
a face full of hair.
Waiting and watching
for harsh, reluctant daylight.

Through an open window,
lies are carried away
on whispers and sighs,
only to find their way back,
at home on our lips,
just as the sun begins to rise.  

Advice for Young Girls: How to Be Crazy in 13 Steps

Step 1.
Dress in a way that doesn't suit your body. If you have wide hips, wear striped pants. Turn your lower half into warm, fleshy parentheses that go on and on, outward and onward, forever and ever. If you're overweight, wear crop tops that let your belly hang out, soft and free as fuck. Slouch for maximum effect. Bras are always optional, but never preferred.

Step 2.
Stop brushing your hair. Let it swirl around your face in a wild celebration of madness.

Step 3.
Wear your makeup all crazy. Lipstick should always overflow the parameters of your mouth; it should kiss the teeth and shine bright like blood. Execute cat-eye eyeliner after you've had a few drinks (or, better yet, the shaky, queasy morning after you've had a ton of drinks). Pluck out all your eyebrows and paint caterpillars over your eyes. Have them meet at the bridge of your nose in a furry caterpillar kiss.

Step 4.
Talk to strangers. Tell them outlandish lies. You could be a widow, a ballerina, a recovering alcoholic, a crackhead, an award-winning photojournalist fresh off a plane from the front lines in Afghanistan. Be whatever you want. The time is now.

Step 5.
Take trains as often as possible. Drink those tiny bottles of whisky that cost $8 each. Seek out men with strong hands and full mouths. Kiss and fondle these men just seconds before your boyfriend meets you on the platform. Go meet your boyfriend's parents with the taste of a stranger on your lips.

Step 6.
Learn to express your anger. Be comfortable with your anger. Revel in your goddamned anger. Scream until your voice cracks and crumbles into a million pieces. Throw things that will break with a satisfying shatter: wine glasses, your mother's wedding china, the porcelain dolls you both loved and feared as a little girl. Hit yourself. Pull out your hair in snarled, greasy clumps. Bite your arms, hard, so that the teeth slice right through the smooth, unsuspecting flesh. Be proud of those teeth marks - you've earned them.

Step 7.
Discourage visitors by letting your yard grow into a jungle. Let the dog shit all over the walk. Litter the porch with empty liquor bottles and used tampons.

Step 8.
Keep the inside of your house meticulously clean. Eat over the sink so as not to drop crumbs. Clean your floors on bruised hands and knees. Inhale the giddy fumes of cleaning solutions until your head detaches from your shoulders and floats away like a runaway balloon.

Step 9.
Mock tradition. Take your grandparents' wedding portrait and scrawl "BULLSHIT" over the impossibly young and smiling faces. Use a bright red marker. Hang new and improved portrait over the fireplace, front and center, where it can be admired by all.

Step 10.
Trust no one. Accuse the mailman of stealing your cigarette coupons, your catalogs, your personal correspondence. When you go to the pharmacy to collect your Seroquel and your Lithium and your Xanax and Zoloft, make the pharmacist open each bottle and count every pill. Demand a second, or even third, recount on the Xanax.

Step 11.
Never follow doctor's orders. Toss out your antidepressants and antipsychotics, and dive straight into the Xanax. Mix them with cheap alcohol and the chunky white painkillers you may or may not have acquired illegally. Spend your evenings listening to the Velvet Underground in hot baths, chain-smoking cigarettes and tipping your ashes right into your bathwater. Stoned out of your mind, call your exes and hang up. Call your exes and scream and slur until you're blue in your fucking face. Cry, but only if you feel like it.

Step 12.
Fuck a lot. Fuck men and women you barely know. Fuck men and women you don't know at all! Fuck mean, nasty men who like leaving marks; fuck men who like seeing where they've been. Fuck women who are just as fucking crazy as you. Fuck in your bed and never wash the sheets. Fuck in parked cars and mark the steamy windows with your hands, your forehead, your ass, your tongue. Fuck until your insides are raw and screaming for mercy. Fuck some more. Fuck and hate it. Fuck and love it.

Step 13.

Do whatever the fuck you want. Stuff your face with brie and chicken nuggets. Chew with your mouth wide open and your eyes closed tight. Drink red wine straight from the mouths of strangers. Sleep in six-inch stiletto heels. Go grocery shopping in your nightgown. Talk to yourself all day and all night. Live free and wild as an animal. Stand naked in front of mirrors and laugh and laugh. Make lists with 13 entries. Only 13. Always 13.