ero-re humanum est

to ero is human

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It was like pomegranate juice that stained
your lips, tart like human flesh and Aeschylus is writing —
it’s her flesh that’s so tart, raw and bloody
your mouth leaves a stain and it is all a stain
the way your hands leave prints like a press and
this is the only book that has ever mattered.
And you have written it and read it and bent the spine backward
until it lies worn and loved in your hands, and broken;
and that is the way things are.

——

I never write poetry because it’s always terrible.

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She had once loved a man who was whiskered and beautiful, who went rippling throught the dark like it was music and he was the memory that hummed and hung in the cotton-soft vacant air after an ivory key had nodded back into place. Under her hands he was maybe like dry wood left in the desert to turn into stone or dust, ancient and mean and brittle or old and slow and terrible. Or maybe he was like greenwood, young and strong, pliant, bent under her kneadful fingers, wood that smelt wet with sap or green treeblood, his arms smooth skinned and fingered, so she could hang off one of his limbs and pivot on her toes, making slowing, lazy arcs with the brief line of her body. Or maybe he was oakwood, or rowan wood, or limestone, or granite, or

She had once loved a man who was whiskered and beautiful and gave himself like an unaired room: locked and private like there was a secret to be spied through a keyhole by an enterprising sleuth. Inside there were impressions of sleeping tigers under white shrouds that might have been furniture or contorted dead men nailed to posts to keep their shape and dust so thick it was morning ash, inches thick and adding antiquity. It smelled close and shuttered, like gangrene and when she ripped back the sheets she found furniture, plain and ordinary and unused. This was worse than tigers or dead men. He was both, with his lockbox room filled with nothing but rests and indents. He would continue to live like this whenever allowed, as if hiding his everythings was so commonplace that he hid them even from himself, because it was safer to have an empty treasure box than to love or even intend to love anything. In his hollow house he would not even pretend to show his patriotism, giving instead a dossier with so few marks of residence that it was too plain to be believable.

In another whenever he said That’s not really where I live, Minx. It’s only where I store my things.

But maybe those were the same thing until he bothered to realize that they were not.

She once loved a man who was whiskered and beautiful and was somehow through trick or fancy steady, steadying, like the Rock of Ages, or Gibraltar, whichever was more impressive in its immobility. Contrary though, because he was faster than a fly or gravity, faster than movement, as visible as wind or intention. The quick of this stone still man was her father until she realized he was not and then he was again when she read how even he was in the pattern of things and had him back. She measured her world by the cubits of his arms and took two steps for each stride as they paced out the dimensions of their time. He carried her when she was tired or her feet were cold or when she had gouged her foot on a talon of the universe, or he carried her because she was meant to be carried. He had a voice like the devil, and although he never sang she felt it in him when she did. He sounded like shivers and purgatory. He sounded like a judgement. If he had sung she thought the apples would have fallen from the trees to stud themselves in the soft earth. She would have liked that. She would teach him to sing whether the apples fell or not.

In the morning they would go into the sun.

In the morning they would go into the sun.

He had a monster in him and it was terrible. She loved that wicked, terrible thing because it was a naked thing, weak and mean and small, and it was in her to love things that were in need of it. He cut and culled and killed and spilled and his smile was tight and old like leather and smelled the same. He wrenched things apart, rent flesh, ran ragged and foul and delivered agony to the small and hurt as well as to the great and terrible. He was ruthless and dripping, not assassin. Murderer. He went into the dark and she watered his flowers for want of anything better to do until he gave her something. She took his fingers and then lay back and cried. He gave her blood and push and weight. She would drown herself like a mewling cat.

In the evening, there was music.

She once loved a man who was whiskered and beautiful, wicked and lean like a brushtroke or the tail of a cat. She loved his naked quick and his stone and the dinosaur climb of his spine to the colon stop where his tail would have been, had he been a leaping creature. She loved his taste and his shape and his hollow that was full of secrets that he ignored. She could feel his hearth and his heart when she threw herself against him, and rolled in the strong scent of his menace when she did not. He was old, but not as old as an hour, and when he went into the sun he bloomed like a flame, the curve of his mouth unread. His alphabet was hers.

The sun set.

It came up again.

—-

That is what we call a prose poem.

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"Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky — "

Thin and bonewhite and unlovely in her threadbare jacket that would have been patched if there had been someone to patch it, Cheshire Finnegan wasn’t a woman. She was some sort of razor thin genderless dwarf: a kid the puberty fairy had never visited so she was eternally skinny and raw with angles all the places women were supposed to be rosy and round and dimpled. Her hair was short and ragged because she cut it herself or had him do it, which was probably worse but better than when she tore it out in clumps when she was screaming or shivering. She was always lost inside her shapeless clothes, like a jacket buttoned around a broom. She was jagged and brutal and hard and broken she wasn’t a woman. She was a thing. She was like a rat he’d found living in his house and hadn’t stomped because it was something else breathing. She wasn’t a woman. She was a small troll. She was a little crooked gremlin. She was an it.

"Stormy weather."

But when she opened her mouth sometimes what came out wasn’t poison. Out of that drug thin, self-scarred body came a sweet, husky, musky sound. Whenever she let it all go and sang with her favorite songs when he tuned the radio to WEAF she didn’t sound like the Cheshire Finnegan he knew. Her voice was old and sweet and low, slinking muted and bronze through her favorite Gershwin tunes or Irving Berlin, and he knew it was the same as when together they’d been the two voices to lead the caroling on the first day of Yule, or when she was queen of May and the world smelled of grass or clean fires burning and the crowd howled for her to sing the may song. When she sang, she closed her eyes and tilted her head back and he could read the impossibly thin line of her chalky white neck and listen to the sound pulse out like the beat of her blood: intense, mewling, languid.

"Since my man and I ain’t together — "

She liked the program that was on so she hollered that he’d better not change it if he valued his genitals and then she left the door open when she took a shower. She wasn’t worried anyway. People on the street didn’t touch her. Not even children. She broadcast Typhoid Mary. She looked hollow eyed and sick and sick at the world. Nobody touched her. Nobody wanted the mange. She scrubbed at her scalp until it was raw and she was raw and hanging close to the beat of the song.

"Been rainin’ all the time."

She dug through her clothes that lay crumpled in the corner of the bathroom, hot water cooling on her skin until it stood like droplets of cold sweat, slidling ticklish over what there was of her to puddle sullenly on the floor. There wasn’t anything in here worth wearing. She needed to have her laundry done. It all smelled. She smelled — or had smelled — a common indicator that she’d been going through other people’s garbage again. She sat back on her haunches and shivered in the draft from the open doorway then cloaked herself in a towel and stopped belting along with Lena Horne long enough to holler at him.

"Hey Cagney, I don’t have anything to wear. Think you can spare me something from the prince’s wardrobe? I swear I won’t get too many fleas on it."

He was still listening to the radio and didn’t move from his battered arm chair where he was nursing a blue ribbon, as was usual and dainty.

"I guess I ain’t got any choice unless I want your bare ass distracting me from the jazz hour." He shrugged, although there was nobody to see it. "Go ahead. It ain’t no secret where I keep my shirts and drawers."

She came out like a half-swadled scarecrow delinquent, arms crossed over narrow shoulders so he wasn’t sure if she was hugging herself for decency or for warmth.

"I’m not wearing your shorts, Cagney. Hate to dash another of your hot night time fantasies. I’m not gonna loan you any of my dirties either, so don’t ask."

"I want your dirty laundry I don’t exactly gotta look hard to find it," the blue ribbon gestured eloquently to the far corners of the room, where she was apt to leave clothes wherever she stripped them off.

She ignored him in favor of a shirt, dropping the towel with a complete disregard for what he was or was not interested in looking at. She always did that. She wasn’t afraid of being seen. She wanted to be seen. She wanted to throw it in the face of whoever would watch. No one wanted to watch.

She kept her back to him and her fingers were slow and awkward at the buttons. The button holes were too small or she was too small and suddenly she was burning with a hot wretched sob that wanted to vomit out of her like a storm. She bit it back. She bit it back and tried to breathe. She breathed.

Then.

The song had changed. The song had changed and it came out rich and hot and sweet and poison.

"Treat me rough, muss my hair, don’t you dare to handle me with care. I’m no innocent — "

His nose bumped the back of her neck, finding bare flesh between the collar and the fine wet weed of her hair that clung unlovely to her collar bones, his hands awkward and heavy on her bony hips that were naked under the unbuttoned shirt.

"Why can’t you sing any songs about a tisket a tasket or about how you’re dreaming of a white christmas?" he asked into her neck and she was still and he wasn’t sure whether it was because she was thinking or not, "Why can’t you sing about all the rhythm you ain’t got in your white girl feet?"

She shivered and closed her eyes. “Tomorrow. You know what I want to do tomorrow, Cagney? I want to go out to the park and roll around in the grass. I want you to take me to see Follow the Fleet three times and buy me so many peppermints I get sick on them. I wanna go walking and not stop walking. I don’t ever want to stop. I wanna find what’s gone. I gotta find what’s gone. So many things are gone.”

He leaned forward, chin over her wet shoulder the same time as he pulled her hips backward until she was leaning against him, skin and his sweaty undershirt and her open shirt that was his anyway.

"That movie ain’t been in the theaters for years," he pointed out, and this was true. She was limp.

"You ain’t gonna take me to the park either, are you? You and me, we aren’t going dancing. We aren’t going anywhere."

She shivered again, a full body tremble like she was going off clammy and gooseflesh cold turkey again and he held her hips hard to hold her still while she shook so hard her teeth chattered, like he was afraid she was going to shake herself apart.

"Where you wanna go, Chess? When we get there you’ll still be you and I’ll still be me. There ain’t nothing you can do to change that."

She hung like a little piece of lean meat, a soup bone, gelatin white and milky.

"So tell me what it is I should be wishing when I’m ripping the petals offa flowers, Raph," she asked slowly and she at last deliberately moved, one hand to brush fingertips against the side of his face. "You’re warm. You always been warm. I guess that’s one thing I gotta say about you." She leaned back into him, into the slide of a clarinet that was singing softly to itself on the radio and felt his breath on her neck. "You’re warm and you burn. You burn, you burn, you burn," she repeated half to herself because he had put his mouth on her neck — open, tongue and teeth and heat — and one of his hands had shifted up her rail thin body to catch a nipple between callouses.

They didn’t have a question and answer session for why they were doing what they were doing, her breath coming out fast and trembling as she fumbled with the belt of his trousers unexpectly and then he fumbled with it and then they were both swearing and laughing and laughing, bare-bottomed on the floor like children after wrestling them off finally, and then her with her arms around his waist and her cheek on his stomach and her mouth, her mouth, and him fisting up a handful of her shaggy brown hair and pushing her head down, her pleading whimper and then his hands on her, in her, the feeling of old, greasy carpet. The two of them wild and desperate and grasping, then him empty and her spitting white into his crumpled undershirt and falling over limp on her side, breathing shallow, body blushed, eyes closed.

"I don’t love you enough to swallow," she volunteered.

"I don’t love you enough to want you to," he answered, and lay back beside her on the carpet. The song was soft and low and after a moment, her voice spilled out again like caramel.

"So deep in my heart, that you’re really a part of me. I’ve got you under my skin."

"You find Follow the Fleet at the goddamned theater," he said at last. "And I’ll take you to see it. Three times."

—-

I lied.  I totally found more crap.

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And now I am so exhausted I will go lay on the sofa and watch MST3K until I can finally go to sleep.

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"Mae hi wedi cachi arna i," he murmured darkly, and she could feel the shift in his muscles as he ran one hand through his hair.

"Gareth!" she started at his language and then was forced to laugh softly, "Such language, and right before we see the vicar! He’ll cut out your tongue to wash it, filthy boy."

He grunted and said nothing, stopping for a moment to scoop her up and sit her in the crook of his elbow, “Mudpuddle,” he explained, and she could feel his stride lengthen as he stepped over it, “I still don’t understand why we’re going.”

"Because he asked us to come," she explained patiently, her fingers wrapped firmly around the sheepskin of his collar, thumb playing lightly over the muscles in his neck which contracted just barely as she brushed over them. She leaned her cheek against his for better balance and wrapped her arms around his neck, "And that’s usually a fairly solid reason."

"I hate him," he rumbled low in his chest and she shook her head.

"Oh, Gareth, you musn’t. He is the vicar after all, and he was only doing what he thought was best — "

But he had cut her off before she could finish, his own voice washing over hers and drowning it out, ” — wanted to have you institutionalized. Myn Duw, if he hadn’t been the vicar, I would have broken his nose on the spot.”

——

Gareth will definitely break the nose of the vicar, if given the chance.

3 notes

justanotherphoenix:

gabi-hime:

That time I made Merlin a tiny blind girl who wets herself.

this is why you’re my favorite.


It was later than she had anticipated, almost too late to go to bed. The radio station she’d been listening to had gone to soft hissing static only a little while after Meleri had left, but she had not had the energy to get up and switch it off. The chair was safe and deep, and here she was warm. Here she was not alone. The low static even made the room a little more full. As if she were not sitting by the fire quite alone except for the dog. He whined softly, and she heard the heavy thump of his tail against solid oak of the floorboards. The house shivered against the snow outside, and still falling heavily, and she shivered against the night and began to sing, softly, in hopes she could lull herself to sleep.
"If to me you can be true, just as true as I to you, then it’s one, two, three, four, five, and six, sing the bells of Aberdyfi," her voice was querulous and warbly, wandering without direction against the soft hiss of the static and the mindful tick of the clock – her own metronome, "Boys do love to be in love, and girls do love to marry, but my love’s for only one, for Bess of Aberdyfi."
The house shivered again and suddenly the dog started and Keen felt him jerk away from her hand.
“Ust, Howell,” she ordered gently, “It’s just the house settling.” She knew well that she would get an inkling that something foul was happening long before the dog did, and she felt nothing other than the slight chill of the room. She squirmed out of her slippers and thick woolen stockings and tentatively settled one toe on the floor. Immediately, Howell was snuffling it, and his attention soon caused her to draw it back up into her cocoon, “Ymddwyna,” she chided.
The dog obediently sat, and she laid her hand on his head again, though she could tell he was still watching the open doorway behind her. It was a little unnerving and she trembled despite knowing better. He settled, and she was about to begin singing again when suddenly he started again and was out from under her hand and out of the room before she could call him back. She heard his rattling clawbeats fade out rapidly as he headed toward the kitchen. She drew into herself. Howell never disobeyed Gareth’s orders, and now she’d been left all alone.
Her voice climbed tremulously out again, willing her to be calm. It was just the weather that was making her like this. Just the chill that would not break. Always winter, but never Christmas, at least for her, and Gareth was so far away, up on the hills that they wandered together in springtime.
"If your love is just as true as the love I have for you, it’s one, two, three, four, five, and six for the bells of Aberdyfi."
She heard the floorboards pop almost directly behind her and whirled around, sightless eyes wide, a reflexive action, as if she might see what stalked her.
“Pan ddôf adref dros y môr, cariad gura wrth dy ddôr; mal un, dau, tri, pedwar, pump, chwech, meddai clychau Aberdyfi,” and his voice was right behind her, warm against her neck even though she knew he was with the sheep, almost half a mile up the mountain. “Mae’n chwith gen i. I’m not one made for singing, but it is a pretty song.”
—-
I love being your favorite.

justanotherphoenix:

gabi-hime:

That time I made Merlin a tiny blind girl who wets herself.

this is why you’re my favorite.

It was later than she had anticipated, almost too late to go to bed. The radio station she’d been listening to had gone to soft hissing static only a little while after Meleri had left, but she had not had the energy to get up and switch it off. The chair was safe and deep, and here she was warm. Here she was not alone. The low static even made the room a little more full. As if she were not sitting by the fire quite alone except for the dog. He whined softly, and she heard the heavy thump of his tail against solid oak of the floorboards. The house shivered against the snow outside, and still falling heavily, and she shivered against the night and began to sing, softly, in hopes she could lull herself to sleep.

"If to me you can be true, just as true as I to you, then it’s one, two, three, four, five, and six, sing the bells of Aberdyfi," her voice was querulous and warbly, wandering without direction against the soft hiss of the static and the mindful tick of the clock – her own metronome, "Boys do love to be in love, and girls do love to marry, but my love’s for only one, for Bess of Aberdyfi."

The house shivered again and suddenly the dog started and Keen felt him jerk away from her hand.

Ust, Howell,” she ordered gently, “It’s just the house settling.” She knew well that she would get an inkling that something foul was happening long before the dog did, and she felt nothing other than the slight chill of the room. She squirmed out of her slippers and thick woolen stockings and tentatively settled one toe on the floor. Immediately, Howell was snuffling it, and his attention soon caused her to draw it back up into her cocoon, “Ymddwyna,” she chided.

The dog obediently sat, and she laid her hand on his head again, though she could tell he was still watching the open doorway behind her. It was a little unnerving and she trembled despite knowing better. He settled, and she was about to begin singing again when suddenly he started again and was out from under her hand and out of the room before she could call him back. She heard his rattling clawbeats fade out rapidly as he headed toward the kitchen. She drew into herself. Howell never disobeyed Gareth’s orders, and now she’d been left all alone.

Her voice climbed tremulously out again, willing her to be calm. It was just the weather that was making her like this. Just the chill that would not break. Always winter, but never Christmas, at least for her, and Gareth was so far away, up on the hills that they wandered together in springtime.

"If your love is just as true as the love I have for you, it’s one, two, three, four, five, and six for the bells of Aberdyfi."

She heard the floorboards pop almost directly behind her and whirled around, sightless eyes wide, a reflexive action, as if she might see what stalked her.

Pan ddôf adref dros y môr, cariad gura wrth dy ddôr; mal un, dau, tri, pedwar, pump, chwech, meddai clychau Aberdyfi,” and his voice was right behind her, warm against her neck even though she knew he was with the sheep, almost half a mile up the mountain. “Mae’n chwith gen i. I’m not one made for singing, but it is a pretty song.”

—-

I love being your favorite.