The Forgotten Circus.
Click through for the film.
n: vb: the spice of imagination
The Forgotten Circus.
Click through for the film.
I still smell a bit like the witches, their blood and smoke and sharp perfume, like the sweat of the actor who held me more confidently than many of my serious past relationships, like murder and love and despair and the body swinging from the noose.
At one point I jumped an entire flight of stairs to keep up with The Detective, (Malcolm? Lord Duncan’s son?), only realizing in mid-air, knees automatically tucked, that perhaps what I was doing was foolish, what with the dislocated bones in my ankle, the sprained ligament in my spine. No matter that he just did it, he’s trained, looks like ballet. What am I doing? Too late, too bad, I landed perfectly, slammed into the wall and rebounded, leaping half the next flight, again, impeccably done, the better to run, the better to keep track of the plot, the story, the dark and haunting dream meticulously building inside the McKittrick Hotel. Sometimes you just have to sprint. And when, after I tore up the stairs after him after he was poisoned in the ballroom, as we sat panting on the floor of his office together, when he met my eyes, I almost smiled invisibly behind my mask, but instead I winked.
I was rewarded with a one of the rare and coveted one-on-one sessions, pulled firmly from the audience in the back of his auguromancy office, where the walls are covered in birds, into one of the locked areas, a long darkened room just off of the main street. Once the door was shut behind us, he pulled me to him as as a lover might, pushing my body with his in the darkness, close and incredibly, impossibly intimate. I had thought my time before with the green witch, who put her fingers in my mouth in the closet then tore me through the false back through a Narnia hallway full of fur coats, was familiar, but in comparison to how he held me, it was nothing.
He placed me like a ball jointed doll, manipulating my body with his body, pulling my arms back, trapping me against him so that every possible inch of us touched, and then swept aside a black velvet curtain that we’d been invisibly facing in the pitch dark. It might as well been a magic trick. In front of us was a very tiny room, just barely big enough for both of us, with a dim light shining on a small metal box sat on a very tiny table. We leaned down, still glued together, his unexpectedly powerful dancer’s body keeping me in place, and he opened the box to reveal five pale eggs nestled in straw. Shifting me to his side, as if I were conspiring with him, he then added an egg from his office to the box and ran his fingers over them, murmuring secrets and small pieces of not-quite-shakespeare. After the crowded office, the manic ballroom, it felt like we were the only people alive.
A beat, then another, until we were breathing together, before he chose one of the eggs and carefully placed it in my hand, closing my fingers around it as if it was precious, so gently I was actually shocked, then smashed it, cracking it completely into dust with the strength of his fingers around mine. My hand was suddenly full of ashes, thick and chalky. He forced them into my palm, roughly rubbing them in all the way up my wrist, reading the lines, the black streaks of carbon writing a map of my life. Suddenly a tiger, he brought me to my feet again, picking me bodily off the floor, and pushed me into the wall with his hips, ripping my mask upwards and off my face. “Who are you?”, he demanded, shoving, pulling at my hair, running a hand over my face, holding a massive magnifying glass only inches away from my eyes. I stayed silent, uncertain if I should speak, but then the moment shifted and again it was if we were lovers, and he pressed himself into me, lifting me off my feet, shifting me to another wall, and we held each other so closely, so tightly that it seemed real. I felt necessary, as if I wasn’t there, he would break. The intimacy was almost unbearable.
Then, another shock, the light flicked off, dropping us again into complete darkness. He fell a little, away from me, coughing, barely choking out his lines, clutching at me as his body wracked in agony. It was my turn to hold us up, until finally he spat up a tiny wet feather which he pressed into my hand. When the light came up again, but even softer, more dimly, he said, “The hawk was seen flying at dawn.” He fiercely pressed us into the wall again. I felt exposed by his need. We might as well have been naked. “Do you understand?” I nodded. “And blood demands blood.” His lines were the words that he’d typed on his locked down typewriter only two scenes ago. “Blood will have blood.”
Don’t try to rush things:
for the cup to run over,
it must first be filled.
by Antonio Machado
We’re staying in an unexpectedly large little flat in Harlem. The flight was delayed, the bus driver left without us, so we missed our first day completely to travel, but we got here in the end. New York. Yesterday we wandered a bit of SoHo, going to the Evolution Store and the Animazing Gallery for the Froud family exhibit, which was unexpectedly stunning, before walking over to Supper for dinner with Matthew. From there we sloped over to The Pit for Wednesday’s free improv night.
Today we’re going to the Museum of Natural History, where I’m going to try and lick a dinosaur. Also today: Sleep No More.
Tomorrow we’re going to Shopsin’s for breakfast and The New Museum to go down the three story slide, as well as Dances of Vice: The Moonlight Circus. (To which I’ve just won a ticket upgrade, which I can either put towards a regular upgrade or two more tickets and a reserved table. Woo!).
I didn’t think I’d ever return to New York, but now that I’m here, I am glad.
by Dorianne Laux
Beginnings are brutal, like this accident
of stars colliding, mute explosions
of colorful gases, the mist and dust
that would become our bodies
hurling through black holes, rising,
muck ridden, from pits of tar and clay.
Back then it was easy to have teeth,
claw our ways into the trees — it was
accepted, the monkeys loved us, sat
on their red asses clapping and laughing.
We’ve forgotten the luxury of dumbness,
how once we crouched naked on an outcrop
of rock, the moon huge and untouched
above us, speechless. Now we talk
about everything, incessantly,
our moans and grunts turned on a spit
into warm vowels and elegant consonants.
We say plethora, demitasse, ozone and love.
We think we know what each sound means.
There are times when something so joyous
or so horrible happens our only response
is an intake of breath, and then
we’re back at the truth of it,
that ball of life expanding
and exploding on impact, our heads,
our chest, filled with that first
There was a kiss that tasted like reëntry, the sky hitting the brakes with a roar, that blazing, intimate acceptance of a spacecraft into atmosphere, every unlikely angle, one head tilting to another, a scorched, soft light jet-stream wish to return home. History made and slammed back like a shotgun round. A promise on the wing, the ground salted, memories buried. The cast lines up, takes a bow, walks off stage, and leaves their shadows behind as the curtain falls, and it tasted like hello as well as goodbye. My apartment is choked with memories, my neighborhood is a cemetery, same as the highway south, much like my life.
He asked for my writing once, to permanently tattoo, something short, beautiful, meaningful. “Between our hands, we could have made fire”. To the death, he said, to the guttering of the sun. (The next one, he gave me nothing I have not been able to give back.) In the archives, our shared love, deliberate and valiant, a blazing comet made of fiercely bared skin, and the small delicate jewelry we wore in our ears, drops of garnet dipped in silver, lost but unforgotten. I send him a message just after midnight, from a number he doesn’t know: I am still wearing your name at the base of my breath.
We are all china barely mended,
clumsily glued together
for the hot water and lemon
to seep through our seams.
– Toby Barlow
He walked from the apartment in the direction he always did, like a recording of the life we used to have, and with a pause and a wave, that achingly familiar wave, a chapter of my life slipped behind a corner and shut, as firmly and finally as anything ever is. Goodbye like a relationship on fast forward, my cheeks so hot it looked and felt like sunburn, my hand still splayed on the chilly glass of the balcony’s sliding door. I was supposed to be finished crying for him, but he is moving away, back south, family matters, a phone call from his mother, an inherited house, and his name remains holy. He hurt me terribly, but he is not a terrible person. We were in love once. Probably are still. The worst thing about losing my wallet was losing his letters. Sometimes that is all that matters.
Once upon a time we were beautiful, a miracle, stronger together than the sun, living incarnations of joy, swimming lions against the storm. I named him, the power of sharp teeth, the domesticity of myth, and he crawled into my heart to sleep, safe and warm, and so, more importantly, to wake. When he betrayed us, it was like he’d chewed his way out. Such a surprise to discover him there still, even after so much pain.
In it to win. We talked a little about it this evening, what we used to be. The french man on the bus who gave us a speech about how nice it was to see people in love, the girls at the sandwich shop who openly cried when informed that we’d broken up. He claimed his responsibility and apologized once again, forgiveness, that tricky thing, welling up like clean water through the barren places he left behind. “Of course,” I said, “it is so very good to see you.” I only wish he’d been by sooner, when I’d asked him to, after I took both of his hands and said, “Life is too short to stay afraid of me or of hurting me.” But instead he put it off, and now it is too late, another piece of home flaking away, he has to leave.
“You are beautiful,” he said, “Thank you for everything. For being you. You are amazing. For bringing me back to the light.” He will be gone by the time I return from my trip, so I will think of him when my plane takes off, maybe picture him behind the wheel of the moving truck, marveling at the beauty of the drive, solid as my faith, as our understanding of each other, as he drives toward his chosen exile, an endless, sunny suburb with his family, as both deathless and lifeless as only California can be.
Armament, glass molotov-cocktail hearts by photographer and mixed media artist, Francis Baker.
More photos at Street Anatomy.