in for a penny, in for a pound

Seaside Improvisation, by Richard Siken

I take off my hands and I give them to you but you don’t
want them, so I take them back
and put them on the wrong way, the wrong wrists. The yard is dark,
the tomatoes are next to the whitewashed wall,
the book on the table is about Spain,
the windows are painted shut.
Tonight you’re thinking of cities under crowns
of snow and I stare at you like I’m looking through a window,
counting birds.
You wanted happiness, I can’t blame you for that,
and maybe a mouth sounds idiotic when it blathers on about joy
but tell me
you love this, tell me you’re not miserable.
You do the math, you expect the trouble.
The seaside town. The electric fence.
Draw a circle with a piece of chalk. Imagine standing in a constant cone
of light. Imagine surrender. Imagine being useless.
A stone on the path means the tea’s not ready,
a stone in the hand means somebody’s angry, the stone inside you still
hasn’t hit bottom.


I’m going to Seattle today, a two o’clock bus that should get me there around six. It feels almost criminal because of the weather outside, crisp, bright, so promising. There was snow on the ground last night when my lover drove me home, my bare feet sank into it by an inch while walking on the gravel behind his home. Earlier lightning, small dark rolls of quiet thunder.

My body bleeds today where I was rough with it last night. I am torn. Bruised, too, with carnations of gentle blue and yellow across my back like insomnia’s physical manifestation, a rebellion of capillaries protesting against lack of sleep. I am shamed that I hurt so much, so easily. The mirror will not meet my eyes. Everything aches – my devotion, the stress of it, the one drop of blood.

not sure what to


I would do terrible things to have a website this good.

It’s been a strange week, cradled in stressful days. I walked a city block today with my eyes shut and didn’t make it into work. Tomorrow I will, tomorrow I will be farther away. The Globe and Mail want to talk with me.

Wednesday I’m going to the Penny Arcade Child’s Play 2006 Dinner Auction.

Thursday, a group of us are going into the theatre building.

It’s the small carved lines that I still see, like when I look at him with my glasses on, all I can see is his age – the distance between us for all that we’re very much the same.

My ghodmother was over today with her Girl. They look beautiful together like the sun and air.


1. His hair has been as long since the day I met him, a dark sweep of night shot through with starlight. I think of Samson as he hangs up the phone to pick up his plane tickets. Paper printed like money drinking miles like the liquid of lover’s kisses I’m rummaging for answers in my little head attic, colour topped but still blonde on the inside, a box of coffee creamers full to the top. How will I ever forgive myself for subsisting on so little for so long? Drips of milk, pull back the paper, there’s only so much laughter left in the reservoir. I don’t have words to fill it with, I don’t have interaction that isn’t taking me for granted. My den of thieves I kiss at night, opening my lips against those that stay closed on the matters of names and meaning. I don’t have to be chased, but the proportion of need is becoming inverse to my reasons for staying. I swore I wouldn’t do this again.


2. My life is an in-joke. If you stare at my picture long enough, I will crawl out of the screen and try to find where you hid the chocolate. I can’t help it. I like meeting people. I like taking my way in for granted. I tickle hearts and make them laugh. If I could market this, I might have a more interesting job, though mine’s plenty good enough for right now. At last I finally exist. I’ve been awhile without it. This reaction is new and my skin is too tight. Your monitor settings are wrong, they make me twitch. Got to deguass, take a shower, de-recontextualize my prescience with my passions. These shoes are made for walking, but more so are my feet. I don’t have any damned boots, they ran in the water.


3. Growing up strange, I believed that everyone had dreams of telephone poles, of the crackling pop of black wires. The piercing sound that went with them would wrap itself deep within my heart, a thin wire cry that tightened around my ankles and wrists every time my father hit my mother. Dusk a method of being, it helped me dispense with personality. Volatile lately, because I don’t know how to tell someone how to be a support beam, a stationary wall moving in love with me. Childhood never prepared me for faith, that was the story of the monster under the bed, something told only to children on the television machine. Recently, my body has changed, liquefying into a spikier shape. Last week or the week before, I broke a bottle at someone in a bar. There was a chance meeting, his suit ill-fitting. He asked me how I was, and newly holding the jagged mouth of the bottle in my right hand, I told them in a dead voice to ask me again.


I think I like Morcheeba, but now I want some Moloko

Nightmares plagued sleep segues into picking up an unfamiliar cat and pressing my face into its fur. I don’t know this place, I can feel it. If someone were to touch me, my body would attack, defensive. I feel unsafe, I’m tense. The cat purrs and butts my head. I remember having a cat. She’s dead. This is not my home. My dreams are of dying, of threat. The last time I slept somewhere I didn’t know, it managed to be familiar. The last time there were ghosts protecting me. Long swathes of text that lettered the walls with palliative assumptions.

James Brown screamed Sex Machine with a moth flame intensity, but he wasn’t talking about this. Bruised with nasty rubber, cracked in places and wearing thin.

I’ve got a hot rant in my flesh this month. It’s nasty edged, serrated with every hurtful bit of self-hating truth that my life can dredge up. The only pity is that now I’m finally feeling something, I’ve no-one to shout at. I don’t understand how I could put it here in any way that would translate. I have to hit myself with this, I have to watch someone wince as I throw a chair across a room. Maybe this is youth catching up with me. That teen-period of angst that I thought I had mysteriously missed or had passed by the time I was ten without notice. I would like to suspect that it’s more the cumulative effect of everything that’s been happening in the past month.

m’love is overstressed

This is what I feel victim of:

“It had been stressful. The most difficult and trying thing I had ever done. We had pulled it off, gotten the damn thing in the can. I learned new things about the nature of stress. Arbitrary try-again-next-time school stress versus real grown-up you-can’t-unfuck this stress. Hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars of ruin-your-credit-rating this-had-better-work stress. School stress, for me, was like a sunburn. It made you crazy, but a few beers, a couple of days reading and screwing around on the computer, and you were right as rain. But grown-up stress was the real fucking thing, persistent and militarized for the maximum infliction of pain and suffering. It took up residence in your lymph tissue, in the delicate webbing of the lumbar curve, odorless and colorless, waiting to be metabolized in an unrelated moment, releasing a cascade of misdirected rage.”

(from )