Cassandra

On a Saturday afternoon,
running through the busy streets,
a lunatic screams:

“On the far side of the desert,
there lies the open!”

The crowd listens,
forced from inattention
to focus on this strange woman,
who’s voice reaches them all
regardless of their distance.

For a second
she holds herself still;
though she’s a physical presence
her appearance
is not settled:

she is a synchronous image
of the terrifying
& sublime.

Then, she begins to speak again,
her voice softer now,
but no less loud:

“Between the desert & the open
there is an ocean!
It is up to us,
& us alone,
to construct the bridge
which will allow us to pass over
the unfathomable darkness
that lies deep beneath the water.”

Throughout the crowd ripples a deep unease,
an undercurrent stronger than the sea:
she disturbs them,
this woman
disrupting the process of consumption.

All they want is to be left alone so
that they can purchase objects & atone
for the sin of wanting
what cannot be bought, but
they’ve been taught will save them
if only they try hard enough.

She senses this,
attuned as she is
to the hostility of others:

she is speaking to the distance.

“We can be deceived by belief
in what is not true, but
we can also be deceived
by not believing the truth!

Yet to acquire that which we desire
first we must suffer
that which we fear cannot be endured;

& we need to do it without knowing
the possibility of success, because
live must be lived forwards yet
can be only understood backwards.”

Confused by this disturbance,
annoyance spreads like a spore through the crowd;

some cease to listen, while others
throw out angry words
only to find them return
as words of shame
generated from a place
they never knew existed;

some in the crowd are transfixed,
but the woman doesn’t know this,
accustomed as she is
to rejection.

These silent admirers remain hidden,
lost to anxious thoughts
about what the others might be thinking.

Her message finds a motion of it’s own.
Now, even she isn’t sure what she means,
only that it needs to be said:

“The bud unfurls into the blossom”
she says, as she somehow produces a flower
& rolls it between her slender fingers
“just as this” – & suddenly the flower
becomes a ball of paper – “will unfold
into what it has always been, but now
has also changed.”

The anaesthetised audience walks away,
but the attentive stay
& begin to approach this strange creature.

Suddenly she becomes desperate:

this wasn’t supposed to happen;
she doesn’t want disciples,
only for people to listen.

“The present must die
for the future to live;
the music is always playing
& if you do not dance
then why continue to exist?

But however well we dance
death will still persist!”

Soon she is surrounded by questions,
& having no answers, she makes her exit.

She leaves her follows with a final message,
& then, impossibly, suddenly
disappears.

“The tyrant dies
& their rule is over; the martyr
dies & their rule begins.”

Funereal Debauch of the Mind*

In hopeless devotion to absurd dreams
I ceaselessly spin a thin web of words:
a hurdy-gurdy turns, a sound
ridiculous yet unnerving emerges;
as the wheel rubs against the strings
the skin begins to bleed a little,
    then fists
        & skull
are slammed against the wall.

But of course,
nothing breaks that isn’t already broken…

Beauty serenely disdains to destroy me**,
so I destroy myself:
beyond the reach of sedatives or sleep,
I cut once & then cut again
        & again
            & again,
    furiously I slash
until my hand
is slick with the wet warm red
    & the blade
slips from my grip.

Now
    there is a brief moment of peace

& I survey the scene: me
    alone in a room
        covered in blood:

A fucked-up,
stupid,
ridiculous mess.

Laughter is all that is left to turn to
        but soon
that sound too becomes unnerving,
& all that is solid
melts into squalid self-pity.

Now
    what else is there to do?

I don't fucking know, so
– always one for a dramatic gesture,
for the deep allure of hysteria –
I lick away the still warm blood;
        a taste of salt,
the trace of assault
            exalted
in the crazed nature
    of what I am doing.

There is an undeniable,
self-directed
sadomasochistic pleasure to this,
which will soon turn to shame
& eventually fade
into just another memory.

So once again the impossible state:
    something both does
        & does not exist:

change,
    everything & nothing
        has changed…

***

Draped in the word-web, I begin dancing.

A proposal is made,

a proposal that this "I" is a lie,
a reified grammatical necessity,
a reference to the referent,
no more than words hidden beneath skin & skull;
words that haunt a tormented animal,
trapped within a network of veins
& a cage of flesh
that will crumble to powder one day,  
        like butterfly wings:
 
desiccated,
        useless things.

A proposal is made
that this self is a dislocated time-line,
    badly narrated
        & ultimately boring,

    a thing
severed from transcendence,
reduced to the facticity of presence
        & the unbearable density of being***.

These proposals
are to be considered at a later date,
    but I suspect
that they will be rejected.

***

I think
the medication isn’t working.

* A Short History of Decay – E. M. Cioran
** First Elegy – Rainer Maria Rilke
*** The Ethics of Ambiguity – Simone de Beauvoir