THERE YOU ARE AGAIN
There you are again standing in my doorway backlit by the red hall emergency exit sign as if you couldn’t make up your mind whether you had a spur or a wishbone stuck in your throat you know so little about what you’re going to say. There’s a child that’s fallen down an abandoned well. There’s a morning dove still wedged in the chimney at nightfall. There’s a bruised blue orchid of aristocratic blood that’s gone slumming blooming in the nook and cranny of your arm. You smile at me like a broken mirror that wants to know if it’s still pretty. I lie to you lyrically and say you still have the beautifully hurtful eyes of a voodoo doll that could cast a spell on anyone. But why do you keep sticking pins in them as if you were fixing butterflies and nebulae to black velvet starmaps that glow in the dark? I want to say I know how much you hurt for reasons that neither of us are sure of but that’s an old lie and it doesn’t work. You have the wings of a butterfly. More a swallowtail than a monarch. But you lack the antennae. You’ve got no lightning rods. No weathervanes. No compass. No filaments for the light to arc between. And you keep falling for spiders doing bass runs on their musical webs like street musicians with celestial aspirations playing for chump change in front of the bank. Razorwire and wild grapevines. I don’t know why whenever I see you haemorrhaging like this I think of blue roses with titanium thorns taking blood samples to map your genome like the keyboard of a piano you haven’t sat down and played for years. Now it’s a few bars of this and that but I miss the old torches of rhythm and blues you used to snuff out thumbs down in the tears from the eyes of a feral cat in heat. You didn’t waste the creative rapture of your pain back then. You always managed to scratch an ecstasy of fire out of the witching sticks of your voice and the more you were hurt the higher the flame. The more intense. Until it burned with perfect pitch like the clear light of the void that immolated you like a phoenix on the pyre of your own talent. Too many unburnt bones in the urns of your ashes these days. You’re still enough of a firefly to ignite the acetylene but the dragon chokes on smoke.
What can I say? Come in. Sit down. What’s up? You feeling ok? You want something to drink? Smoke? Have you eaten today? You need a lifeboat with a white sail for awhile a few bucks a place to crash for the night and a reason to stay? I wasn’t kidding when I said your eyes were still beautiful. A lachrymose doe caught in the highbeams of headlights on heroin. You freeze in your tracks. But you’re as indifferent to the vulnerability of your suffering as the road you’re on is to road kill. I think you come to me with the blood of a butchered angel on your hands to see if you’re still acceptable in your own eyes. And ask me to help bury the body parts decently where the wild irises bloom like blue hydrogen without any prompting from the florist. It’s a fertility ritual with you. You hallow the graves you walk on like a goddess of the grain who’s lost faith in herself. And you return like your own daughter to the flowers you left behind when you come back from sleeping with the Lord of Jewels to find they’re all blooming like dealers with someone like you on their mind. The diamond bees and damselflies are hooked like brooches to the petal lapels of florid pimps. He loves me. He loves me not. But the answer’s an incommensurable that goes on like pi forever. You wouldn’t be the first lily to root in a swamp and by August of next year there’ll be a whole harem of others. Why do rich girls feel that if they get the dirt of the world on their teddybears it somehow makes them more real? If you come from the gutter like I do it’s hard to think of the street as some kind of finishing school. When I was younger I tried to upgrade my childhood by lying about my return address. And I’ve read the collected letters of the ventriloquists of prosperity writing sexting dirty messages to underage puppets under their dresses. And I know how hard you’ve worked to find a voice of your own without any strings attached to the arachnid puppet-masters of your Mummy and Daddy who look upon you as their failure as if there were still something devastating about you they could own. I grew up in a neighbourhood where there was only one kind of weather. Despair with a chance of violence. Same thing every day. Your mother going to hospital. Your father getting out of jail. Afraid of the emergency exits. Afraid of the emergency entrances. Squad cars and ambulances. The only colour in the lives of bleak grey children. Poppies of blood on the sidewalk. But if you didn’t want to be enslaved by welfare the police or the loony bin of your supervised home life you learned to take possession of yourself. You didn’t trip down to the pawn-shop with it. You didn’t take it to a fence. You didn’t pimp it out on the street. You didn’t use it to pay off a dealer. You kept it like the silver bullet of a masked man for the day you got even for being an orphan. Like Pascal’s note of revelation or the jewel of inestimable worth sewn into the coat of a poor man leaving his house to seek his crust of daily bread you kept it like the udumbara flower of the Buddhists that blooms in fire once every seven thousand years. You didn’t need to vent it with updrafts of rage or water it with tears. You didn’t need to uproot the weeds that grew around it. It was a seed with a life of its own and the flame of a flower that had never been seen before until you discovered it and it took your name in secret like a vow of silence over the icon of the saint that burned in your hands as if you’d just plunged them into hell to pull yourself out of the fire. No rats. No cops. No liars. You were a made man in your own eyes. You had self-respect. You understood the beginning of wisdom wasn’t the fear of God but a healthy fear of yourself forgetting that roses aren’t just roses. They’ve got thorns as well. And it’s not just blood but fire that flows in their veins. That the smooth polished lustrous stones are empty and it’s the dark crude ore that’s freaked with silver motherlodes. That the dark sinister hand of fate shapes the pot on the wheel of birth and death no less than the white gloves of the orthodox. That joy may have talent but it’s pain that’s the dark genius and between the two of them pain is the greater creator. You learn to honour your own suffering like a root fire that not all the volunteer fire brigades in the world could put out for the best of reasons. You discover hidden jewels in your own ashes and begin to intuit that your eyes are fireproof. Stars mingled in the mud of your makeup. You watch them burn black holes in your afterlife so you can get out of the wishing-well of a drug cartel like a starstruck pharoah or a trapped Chilean miner. You see there’s nowhere you can walk down the street without walking on your own grave. And whenever you step on a crack you break your mother’s back.
I see the dangerous potential of your wounded beauty coming undone like scarlet ribbons of blood in the water in the mirror in the bathtub. I see the feeding frenzy that’s already circling you like fins and razorblades. I see how your addiction to addiction pulls you around like a one-eyed wanna-be star with an identity crisis hauling on you like a shepherd moon. You’re in the forbidden zone where pretty blue planets like you end up as asteroids that crash and burn in the
O Queen Mab what has befallen you that you’re hooked on your own faery dust? The powders potions and elixirs of your own black magic? Don’t you remember the first law of innocence was that you can’t curse a blessing without falling under your own dark spell like an unpredictable eclipse? That a good dealer doesn’t abuse her own product Take the hex off yourself. Exorcise the demon wearing your stars in its eyes as its own. Even in the cultivated gardens where you come from there must be vines that reach out for you with ingratiating tendrils that will choke the life out of you like morning glory rooted in your bloodstream. Put some steel in your dream and stop riding under the banner of the last fit you flagged. To paraphrase what another Victorian junkie once wrote the angels keep their ancient places under the stones not hot moon rocks in a spoon. The shining isn’t cooked in tinfoil. There’s no crusade. No holy war of one. No pilgrimage to a desecrated shrine. No
So what can I do for you? I can remind you that you’re human and that’s as rare the Buddha said as a turtle rising from the bottom of a boundless sea once every ten thousand years sticking its head through a lifesaver the size of a doughnut floating freely on the surface. I can remind you of what you used to practise in front of the mirror alone in your bedroom at night when you were dreaming of becoming a singer and couldn’t wait for the dawn. Remember when the future had a beginning not just the end that it holds up to you now like a black mirror to your face without a reflection? Remember when you used to park your Fiat Spider sports coupe under highway overpasses and bridges because you could read graffiti like sheet music and they treated you and the pigeons to great acoustics? Who could ever have imagined that a bridge can be a voice coach? And when you put the top down it was just you and your car radio and the highway for a stage? And the roar of the wind and passing traffic for applause. I could tell you that the last thing people will ever be dispossessed of is their misery. They hang on to it like you do your voodoo dolls. If you suddenly snatched the misery out of people’s arms like a nasty little sister they wouldn’t take it as a case of identity theft. To them it would seem like death. They wouldn’t know who they were without their wounds. When was it you starting dressing your dolls differently in junior highschool? The sexual vamp that thought bats were almost as cute as butterflies. What name did you give her among the strawdogs and scarecrows of the boyfriends you spit blood and Fireball whiskey on like roosters that were about to go under the knife? The only mercy you ever extended to any of them. A sharp blade and a quick kill. I can remind you that you live in the twenty-first century like a survivalist dandelion between the cracks of slabs of concrete like an idea that keeps breaking through your skull. That the aesthetics of desecration on a planet deeply disappointed with its gods and beginning to develop a horror of themselves saturates everyone’s emotional and imaginative spiritual life with mustard gas and Xyklon B. That the sins of the fathers are being afflicted upon the daughters of the earth like toxic stars of insight into the nature of darkness. And you take all this in like fish take in radiation from the same medium that sustains and profanes them. Even the atmosphere is treated like real estate. And when people grow tired of damaging what’s old and venerated they begin to damage what’s new and underestimated. The kites we used to fly caught fire in the powerlines and now the heart is leashed to atrocity and outrage like pitbulls and Martian moons. People fear the sun the air the rain. And the new iron rule that replaced the gold one like a degenerative era of time is do unto others before they do it unto you.
I could remind you that your brain is three and a quarter pounds of supple starmud and not fourteen hundred and seventy-five c.c.s of coral stuck on the
Peacock blue of the sky through dirty windowpanes. The earth is whirling like a Sufi at a mystic crossroads toward the east again. Aubades of pain to false dawns tuning up the birds to sing to the real one. Is it not so with all of us Queen Mab? Isn’t there always in all of us one small ruby-throated humming bird left that comes to the unfolding of the rose of dawn to extract the sweetness of life like nectar not inject it like a syringe in the coils of a rubber snake in the breast of Cleopatra when she couldn’t take it anymore? Sweet one. Brief one. Life is a flash in the pan not something you boil in a spoon and sip like a lotus-eater. And even if that scintillance lasts no longer than the lifespan of a firefly or a nugget of insight washed down the world mountain in a torrent of tears isn’t that the sign of a motherlode of gold further upstream waiting to be revealed? Eclipses don’t always come in black. Sometimes the white light of an artificial dream can conceal the stars on the midway of its blazing more thoroughly than the darkness can. When was the darkness ever deep enough to ruin their shining? When have you ever known a night that wasn’t more lavish with stars than it was with shadows? Dark abundance. Bright vacancy. If the world seems like the bleak lifeless prospect of an alien in exile maybe it’s because you’re the one that’s missing. Queen Mab with her coven of bat-winged dolls. Queen Mab with her sisterhood of fairies dancing on toadstools long before the fallen angels learned to dance on the heads of the pins you stick under your tongue between your toes in the death valleys you’ve made of your arms as if you were collecting butterflies on an endangered species list. And your name first among them. Queen Mab of the Shee. Hummingbird junkie and lepidopterist.
Human suffering is human suffering. Yours included. It isn’t a class war. It isn’t a charity run by the poor for the rich who feel they’re out of touch with reality and have to get way down low with the blues to be worthy of their delusions. That you hurt is clear enough in any economic bracket whether you can afford them or have to wheel and deal and steal your vices from the man who knows them all. You took a fall. But it doesn’t matter to the ants down below whether you fell from the nest or were pushed. You’re a haemorrhage of sunshine on the rocks. You’re the Faberge eggshell of a busted locket in the foodchain that makes you cry everytime you unlock it and part its wings and attempt to recall the last time you tried to fly on your own. But for the grace of God and circumstance there goes everybody like a last chance to blow it. Take pity on them. See who they remind you of. And with even more empathy learn to take pity on yourself. Your cosmic egg didn’t wake up in a snake pit. What’s the point of coming down here to grind your teeth like continental plates making earthquakes in Atlantis? There is no rift between our species. We share the same biodiversity. The same blood line. You shoot faery dust into yours and I shoot stars into mine. Dangerous hope. Futile despair. But we both aspire to shine in our own way. It’s indefensibly human. Born of starmud into darkness it’s only natural to want to light it up and go off in all directions at once like a sudden gust of radiance. But when you do remember that you enlighten hell with the same clarity that overthrows heaven. But stop any star on the Road of Ghosts who ever abused paradise. And any one of them will tell you what I’m trying to say to you tonight Queen Mab. Whether it’s faery dust the Milky Way Disneyland lightning fireflies stars or the isotope of a radioactive antidote to a toxic mindstream leaking like a nuclear meltdown of the heart into a subterranean watershed. The drugs get high on us. Our addictions are hooked on us. Not the other way around. We’re the horse that sets them up. And we’re the horse that lets them down. And in your case Queen Mab of the Faeries hiding like violets under the duff of the fallen I do so fervently wish as you drift off to dreamland. The winged horse that throws them off.