I am in the current, still moving
Amanda-Gaye’s working collection: A breed of live poem-essays following a swampy south-bound path.
Muscle Memory (Thank you, Dana for the beautiful revision-aid!)
She has known, in the basest,
most original of ways:
the bow and
sway of clavicle beat
An Essay on Leaving Patterns (You):
I think it is mostly the life- rhythms, not just sex, that I cannot shake from my body’s muscle memory. I listened to my new roommate play guitar today, plucking out chords, wobbling the melody. I consider how you used to do this, repeat the air vibrating. Over. Over. Huuhhhmmm (I cannot stop vibrations, I shudder with them). If I were a good hippie I would call it something like “the metric Om”. I used to sleep best in the bed/couch next to you while you practiced, soothed not by the songs, but by the protective intensity over your art (at the time I thought your love for me was part of this art too).
I suddenly remember that my favorite observations of you (your process) were the moments of frustration. Your hard-callused fingers would catch one string too soon, something fell flat, your voice broke, distraction, a tinny-buzz on your too-narrow traveler’s guitar (I remember too, often, how this guitar is one of the few items left which you collected during your travels after your father’s death). Anything that broke the sounding of meditation from your hands brought on moments where you coughed/laughed/nervous-cleared the throat/blinked eyes, as if the sudden inability to express challenged everything, even health.
Down the coast, She does not know
a difference in cement or radio,
The runoff, silt here, forgotten to hammer-hard
mountains or wind-wet little Neptune eyes.
An Essay On April 13th, 2011
I awoke after three hours of fitful sleep on a grey striped love seat with the nasty sensation that I had been duped (in location, love, undergraduate debt, and employment opportunity). I was in Roanoke Virginia, which can be fairly defined as the overcooked spaghetti-pot ingrown scrotum region of that state. An extreme south-bound adventure was the only option. Adventure, not venture, this decision to run has promised, and continues to promise, a resounding 0, which is better than negatives and could go positive at anytime. There is no way to know anything yet.
She wishes to be swallowed—
wide mouthed from the weird
corners of Virginia
(cut by coast, sides ruled by frog legged
Through to gut-rope and belly
of something else—
Texas with space for squared shoulders.
An Essay on Deciding Factors
I grew up all my life in Virginia. Born in Fairfax (giving me that Leo rising), moving to Virginia beach at 6 (giving me that saltwater curled hair), leaving for the mountains in Lexington (giving me a familiarity with bald eagles, a stomach for hard-water), soon after to Chatham for boarding school (giving me my taste for writing, cheap rum and cheap weed), Roanoke for college and a year after (giving me my taste for DMT and uncouth knowledge of Greek tragedy/frat bathrooms). I left Virginia for Florida.
The conversation went something like this to a friend:
“I just don’t know what to do” (snots through tears, a cigarette even though I don’t smoke)
“Well I have an uncle who needs a nanny, you should go pick weed in California, come move into my mother’s house in Florida”.
Two weeks went by in a blur; I came-to walking out on the rickety lake-dock for the first time, blinking into a hot sun over mineral rich but muddy water. Standing on this dock, (as I would do many days afterward) I had an experience, a sensation of fear that I was dropping important possessions through the slats, possessions still in the house/car that I was not even holding. I do not fear water, only standing over the water’s edge.
Through that old fire on the mountain
music—he plays her washboard
sides: the divots and dips of rib split
just enough for thick thumbs.
An Essay on Memorials
I am born under a bad moon. Not evil. But I have a troubled path. Backwards maybe. I live for snakes before lilies. I like cold coffee, I like a humid sun. I like heavy boots with short skirts, the space between knee and thigh seems so much less provocative when the boot is high.
“My journey has gone like this” I say to the tattoo artist who squints at me through one of those odd bridge-of-nose piercings. I draw scratch-beats through and across the out-line of Virginia. “Here”, he looks, I can tell from the quickened eraser-flop of his pencil that he sees a scrawl, not the layering of seismograph/heart-monitor trails in my home-state.
“Don’t you have a good quote?” Maybe I don’t have enough to memorialize for tattoos yet, and besides, I’m running out of money.
Jordan’s Point on the Maury
the Life-Line as in
a time-map of you
(sometimes read by
that that beaded girl
at every party)—
splits dark and hairy—
sycamore bank spill
threading dim summer
water. A good toe-hold,
a home for quick fish.
An Essay on Odd Prophecies/ Recollections
Last spring before graduation I had an odd dream, or not a dream in those exact terms, I had a remembrance of an event that hadn’t occurred. Not knowing yet that this realization was of a future memory, I named it a dream and gave it home in a poem.
The dream was of swimming in the Maury river with someone, I think a lover (faceless of course), near the dam where-that-boy-had-drowned a few years before. In my awake-living I had swum there often, sometimes between my breaks at work; always using the roots of a large Sycamore to navigate the sandy bank and the small bluegills that rested there. Months later, I was nestling into a summery fling; I brought him to this river-point. We did not have bathing suits and swam in our underwear. I watched him dive into the water through reflections that hid his face, and I thought, “Well, Fuck”.
Fancy Gap is the Final Frontier
She knows to wind this far,
is too far. Every quick mile
narrows the leaves, cold-colored valleys drop
from the road on the left.
Horrible paths straight-up the
right, planned for the capture
of run-a-way freight and 18 wheels.
An Essay on Marking Wide Trails
On the drive down I thought about the people I loved left on a 48 mile hook of I-81, I dedicated 10 or so miles to each one. It was a mathematical formula for the distraction of my mind and did not allow time or miles to dwell on the evil djins I was also leaving. Before, I had never felt affection for interstate, nothing nostalgic or romantic about speeding past trucks and all those turn-signal ignorant drivers with out-of-state (usually New York or Montreal) license plates. No, nothing romantic about that tree-line splitting black-top, I preferred routes with numbers that changed names in every town they passed through. Route 11 was Main Street in my home town, and Williamson Road in Roanoke.
But now, I was spinning out a thin string down this interstate (I suppose something like a benevolent spider or passionate inch-worm), a life-line of love for every person over every mile, marking a path if I ever wanted to return “home”.
Something on Mathematics
The missing of him is acute
or obtuse, unsure
of the correct geometric term,
it may be more round—
dimensional like meditation balls
divided to chime their lightning veined parts.
Whatever the angle, it wakes
her, four hours
before the alarm. She
doesn’t remember that
she has left him yet.
An Essay on Chaos Theory: The Possibility of Extreme Variation in a Settled Path
The tongue is quick, and I like to bite— return the health, return the emptiness which drives the wanderer to holy places. Even then, I thought the back of him sexiest, dark muscles written in the happy hammock of leaving.
When last Fall arrived, I felt the *pop*, felt its contents blow on my cheek with the rainy whine of changing seasons in August. Katydids still reined in the afternoon, and so I felt it, not sure if I was longing for place, but aware that I would miss school and how it came alive to me late in the last years—what loneliness! My path seemed chosen, only arched in certain clerestory ways, structured and exciting at the peaks.
But now I relish the runaway spiral (circled two mirrors facing, I can still look onto the reflections of my path) , I recognize the modern in a few classical works: a double kick of poise and intrusion. And as I turn over sandy garden beds for sweet potatoes, I come to know proof of the rising prolific.
Uncertain He could Navigate
An exodus of full moon frogs
easily part the wet months, scabbed ground
while She, through hollow tubes
sends sage green, holy ghosts, the
chemistry of balanite trees—
over mountains to a different valley.
An Essay on Scales: Musical, Skin, and Otherwise
California, my zippered path jerked me west, an almost accidental flight out of Roanoke (following a stomach-sick drive, anti-natural-gravities up-coast). On the flight I rose over the Blue Ridge Mountains, beautiful soft rocks cupping the New River Valley. I could almost not believe the above-ground beauty of dark purplish pines paving through the hardwood, log trails scaling the mountains in red clay stretch marks. The display of human “development” did not dismay from the air, rather reminded me of skin on the armadillos I had recently become acquainted with as yard-pests in Florida.
In Roanoke, the accident of about 12-20 hours, I went to the old apartment once, under pretenses of mail reclamation (it was really just to smell the stalemate of our separation). But I did not enter the old bedroom(unsure of what hell would be there, cum-stains on dark sheets like stinger-less jelly fish?). Before I was lifted up in cross-continent jumbo-jet rapture away from Virginia, I bought my friends 3 iris root-bulbs: ivory white, gold-yellow, royal-purple. The following early afternoon while the plane rose, I admit to searching the shrinking valley for that apartment, still afraid of your gory-grey lion’s eyes. Blundering, I prayed for crisis, but with an open hand- I was sent up and out of that valley to watch people blink or shuffle magazines until they tapped out an uneasy cloud-line tune.
But then, California, I was there a short time, and it revealed itself to me as a pacific coast: gold-dipped in nightlights. Rocks rise steep there, no kindness, draped in flowering plants (drought hardy), dry air, a wide sun. It was on a white couch in California I first dreamed of Balanite trees . Balanites Aegyptiaca, a thorned tree from Africa, its bark can serve as birth control and its fruit feeds without rain.
The Final Landscape
The toes’ point,
a half pull under opposite
shoulder, neck’s crest and skull
while laying—she is soft angles,
the rounding and plummet
of aging ridges.
An Essay on Responsibility
Once I skipped half a day’s worth of classes my sophomore year of college to see a concert I never showed up for. I spent most of that night in Richmond first NOT drinking in bars (I was about 8 months shy of my 21st birthday) and then drinking A LOT while watching an acquaintance of mine “fall of the wagon” and crawl onto a 5-story roof ledge. The group I was with all had classes back in Roanoke the next day, so we thought it best to sober in some 24hr diner and drive back. Helen, the girl who had chosen that evening to ditch her plastic keychain chip, played a song on the diner’s Pandora supplied jukebox. I still can’t remember most of the song except a few words, something about floating over a rocky spine, something about a lover’s body being as landscape.
I never could forget the idea of people like bodies like mountains like plains like oceans all hunching around a fire-core. I saw the face of a bald man in the ridge from my parent’s side porch and then backs of dragons under the hardwood and strip-mining from a window in the room of an old boyfriend in West Virginia.
The drive back to Roanoke was uneventful, sleepy, fueled by floorboard scuffed mix c.d’s. To avoid any collision of police and our return trip, Sarah (the Driver) drove the Blue Ridge Parkway and extra hour home. Spring was just then appearing greyish and pink, I noticed its arrival in spurts. Patches of chilly awake-ness inspired by Sarah’s occasional need for cigarettes and down-rolled windows.
Calf Pond, Gainesville F.L.
Corn-snake blues tonight, aqua to navy to sky to standard,
brush temples to settle around her shoulders in
the palm-hollow disk-shapes between collarbones and tendon.
In greater scales, it would be called a crater, this body spot
like the now algae-bloomed pond (so identical to wet wool)
sunk in the setting of violets,
sages (the spread of her green glass water trail).
The usual eddies are laced in black and gold spiders, hand-spread: wiry and wide
in their wicked joints,
so fat with moth dinners.
An Essay on Stolen Material, or Ill-gotten Gains.
Ah, Yes I have been stalking your facebook statuses with relish. I do not lie that I hope eventually they will show that I am missed. But, you’re a player, you consider your games won, your journey sure-footed—experienced. I’m by a shitty swimming pool in California right now, thinking to write the-truth-of-what-I-see while a hippie tries to teach two sugar babies how to clean out an irrigation bucket from a grow room (funny I’m here and quit smoking weed about 3 months ago).
Life is ridiculous, I do not understand its thrusts or thirsts. It makes no sense that I am living in two sunshine states right now, and neither is in my head. I admit to feeling a little cold.
Sloppy Lies Fucking
She awoke wine-acidic:
red and oranges.
An Essay on Uneasy Politics and Unstable Matter
On the front deck I have a quiet argument with my roommates about porch lighting. They flip the cold glowing above-orb “on” for the banana spiders. I leap up, dressed like a slutty Mohamed Ali in blue satin boxer shorts and and flip it off. It is going to rain, and I feel compelled to greet all the stars before the clouds roll in too hard.
Should I spend another day in this high degree of heat? Spread like a lizard or hung like a sunflower, sweating out whatever comes(sweat mixes with dust and raises my skin in unholy and unattractive ways). Should I call to this sun like my father, and respect stars like distant uncles? Do I really leave the house and listen through insects for a man to whistle his dog back across the lake (begging him to avoid alligators)? The first star I see here is not a star, but really Mars. Red and mirrored in the end of wrapped and burning tobacco, both line to the tip of my nose. It is a heavy night, and I do not wish to be a this kind of lucid dreamer: life is well-enough when the trees show no shame in growing beards and I am positive these twining ears of eve-blooming vines conspire to do nothing but convince me to hallucinate again.
Toothless, Like Old Dogs
He runs? She doesn’t
cry her way into the shit (a gully, plush after rain)—
pining away over
sandwiches or old wine.
like sandy chewing gum
An Essay on Seasonal Fashions
On Saturday nights, to watch couples descend from theater steps after a show is lucky entertainment. To watch couples enter and leave restaurants, buy ice-cream, consider sidewalk art-sales. To watch couples buy coffee from the shop where I work—it is all lucky. I consider greedily, how a woman will hold her lips when playing coy, how a man will step back and grin (peeking at her ass in line). These couples converge in unsure parades, teetering sometimes on heels too high for their dates. I wonder at them, how they are formulas, never new, but must feel fresh.
It is so humid here under palm-trees, under palm-hands. To love someone in this city must be all high, all body, all sweat and animals. An alien observer, I watch with the conviction that I too (once, I was very much in love in the summer-time) must have known such chemistries in my low back muscles, but cannot now remember him with my breath-caught brain.
Burning the Old Books
Consider the organ that is health
but smaller than skin. What was grown-in
Tongue warped as
old church windows, iridescent:
panes like streams, flash-frozen.
An Essay on Spheres, Volatile.
An early memory from childhood is of being put to bed at around 8pm sometime in mid-summer. It was still light enough for me to climb from my bed and crawl up into the open window to watch the rain drum on white-streaked leaves and trumpet through stalk-strung purple flowers of the side-yard hostas. Chin to knee through my nightgown:“This”, I thought to myself, “This is what it is like to be in a jungle”. I recall the steam of storm-bruised vegetation through my window screen, and that I prayed for the arrival of exotic lizards.
A Thumbprint Finds Many Homes:
He cracks her lower-half into water-
logged remains and,
spent, finds himself
somewhere shipwrecked (jutted between thighs).
Salt-stilled and gathering octopus wreaths–
They become known
to sonic blips of dolphins or submarines.
An Essay on the Scenic Route
I have a quiet agreement to leave the front-yard poinsettias until fall(or would that be winter here?), to rise red as the plant-homes to many nubile lizards. I will watch the growths bloom– unfolding full– and I will realize that I am farther than a walking distance from home (or further from you).
Necromancy in Jolo
Returning just in time for the whine of the coal car switch,
She’d like to smack that annoying June Nazarene who
makes her play a Lazarus—
conjured from the south
up familiar sandpaper stairs.
She re-lives to see a body unlike her recollections which
live tan, wick, and brutish in old t-shirts .
Spider-bagged beneath his eyes, he is
slack in a button-down which makes his shoulders droop.
Her bored tongue rattles for an hour
at grocery aisle anecdotes, half stories
of living beyond the hardwood root-line with shore birds
tracing the swivel of turtle tracks.
He retorts in turnstile about spaghetti, bad plays, and a rotten gut
which now even willow bark cannot relieve.
The scum weighted bottle glints at the sun
with timed flashes measuring the bob
of its eddy-snagged half float.
Speaking cruelly of birds,
its thick neck points to the grove:
“Have you seen what a woodpecker does
to the belly and arms of an infirm cypress tree?
I promise sawed-off shot is kinder.”
This bottle warns.
I look up from the crush of my feet on snail backs and fish bones,
drive home with his car lights shaving tar
through bearded power lines and oak trees.
An Essay On Cars
The receipt of things weaving your floorboards would be a love letter if I listed them. But I cannot hold my wrists to write with your grey lion eyes humming without sunglasses on every August afternoon.
Cars Mean to Love, E