One night back in 1994, el veijo lashed out and bought a crab which he made into an incredible soup for the two of us. Crab filled the flat and drowned out the stench of the neighbours constantly fermenting vats of ngoc mam next door.
Perfumed fishy sweetness filled our noses, dribbled down our arms, filled the air, perfumed the garden, drifted up and met the fug of jetfuel wafting down from the flightpaths above.
We drank, we smoked, we ate. We were trying hard to be happy in our new 2 bedroom flat, trying to hold hands as we drifted apart, trying not to look like a couple to centrelink who’d dropped in for a home visit. I had cut my waist length hair short, looking pained enough so they could guess why we weren’t a couple. El veijo just look pained.
After gorging ourselves on crab meat, we stuck the licked fragments of shell in a bag on the back doorstep. A few hours later, still up, we heard a caterwaul. It was autumn and this was odd. I went to investigate and found a slender young ginger tom, miaowing plaintitively on the back step. I undid the bag and offered him some crab flesh, but he seemed more interested in rubbing himself against me. I invited him in.
My previous feline “Pulgato” had mysteriously disappeared during my birthday party a few months earlier, so I was glad the universe had found me a replacement. El veijo wasn’t. “Cat’s are worse than rats” he declaimed and then launched on a rambling lecture on the evils of those weird four footed furry familiars that people have around. I hadn’t seen such odium until watching Deleuze and Parnet on youtube… checking out the “A” section of ABCDE as the old emphysemic Deleuze coughed and shuddered and his gravely voice expounds on the repugnance of rubbing, miaowing plaintative pathos of pets, especially cats. “c’est odious… comments ils frottent. Non. Je n’aime pas ca, je ne support pas les chats.” (It’s hateful, the way they rub. No, I don’t like that, I can’t stand cats).
Back in the past, as el veijo declaimed, the ginger tom was already on my lap, rubbing himself against me, my face, and my hands. Some cats settle quickly into a furry lap snuggle, but this one was intent on rubbing himself all over me. I guess you could call it heavy petting, and I think it fuelled el veijo’s odium. I think it gave me hives. I didn’t care.
After some time, the ginger tom paused and looked deep into my scratched spectacles, where my eyes met his. I had never seen a look like this from a cat. Especially one I had just met. I stared back. I was definitely in love. This cat was seducing me. Red welts appeared on my neck, my hands and face were stinging, my eyes watering, my throat itchy. Still the cat stared and I stared back. The cat was in love with me. His eyes drew my watery gaze back into his and my hands on his back moved down to his tail. He moved forwards, but mercifully not to rub against my face… but then sunk his teeth into the side of my neck.
I kid you not! As his teeth broke my skin I reached involuntarily for the scruff of his neck and I had to pull hard to wrench him off me! I cried out and flung him away from me with a shudder, and he stood on the floor looking at me. Looking kind of hurt, but still quite loving as well. No actually I don’t know how to describe the look. I stared back in bewilderment. “Eso es!” el veijo declared “El gato culiardo es Nosferatu”. (that’s it, this bugger of a cat is Nosferatu – the famous german expressionist vampire).
I reluctantly put the cat outside, but he hung around for a few weeks – he’d come in, act incredibly affectionate to whoever would let him on their lap, then he’d stare into their eyes, and then try to bite their neck. It was uncanny, but fascinating. I was reminded of anecdotes about animals seducing their prey. I felt like a mesmerised little bird in front of a serpent. I was seduced and terrified at once. It was creepy but exciting, but still creepy.
I was reminded of that look more recently in the eyes of an equally seductive affectionate young tom… and I still can’t quite find the words for it. Other lovers have trapped me in their gaze, and I’ve felt my eyes drifting into theirs and my language drifting into an infinity of bad poetry… such delicious swooning delight! But uncanny for someone I’d just met, a playmate, light sweet and salty sex, no shit, no ties, no games, apparently.
It’s easy enough to fuck up in casual sex and slide from fornication into lovemaking in the bat of an eyelid. (A vampire bat perhaps?) I’d even venture to say that the thrill of a casual arrangement is largely based around toying with the knife edge of seduction – seducing her or being seduced…. Drifting so far in, and pulling away… testing, toying teasing with the limits of our desire, our bodies, our stamina, our hearts… certainly the thrill of succumbing to a lustful embrace is that vertiginous swoon of affective collapse. No words here, my dear. You eyes meet mine, your fluids fill each pore of my skin and stain my sheets, your smell fills my nostrils for hours. I drench myself in our fluids and drown inside your stare. Your eyes have eaten my soul, sucked out my lifeblood, sucked out my secrets, and mine shed tears, and my fingers scratch out screeds of swooning indulgence in black bic biro, etching my lust, your flesh, your taste scrawling itself along my tongue into my favourite silent language, carrion words, hidden on paper, on which I feed, and refeed and savour for weeks and months to come.
Obviously none of this is particularly healthy, and most certainly feeds into my own pathological relationship to writing. Words! I love how they swoon within me, I love to gorge on them and vomit them out, I love to swim in them, feel them enter me, hurt my insides, digest and break down and pulse throughout me… and then I love to feel the end of words…. Knowing that there’s bits of me they can’t reach…. I touch the darkness and draw back…..
Back to the tomcat. Who still gives a strange flicker of soul sucking stares in the strangest of places. My own eyes water and flit and I rub toothpaste on the coke bottle lenses, hoping to shelter behind a few more scratches. Myopic watery pools. Made for scrutinising pores, for focussing on the eyes of a lover, while their mouth meets mine, but little else. Prosthetics protect. Protect my own sad stupid little heart, from flying out again to be hurt and crushed and dropped and crushed, and… no, actually they don’t protect me at all really.
There’s a fleshy pad between my thumb and wrist. There’s a stretchable pocket between my thumb and index finger. On my right hand, which is not my writing hand, though I’m typing with it now. This part of me aches for tomcats…. Impels itself to burrow in their fur, to smear itself on their haunches, soaking up their scent. Neither inside nor outside, the tentative hand fucks that aren’t quite five fingers, rubbing against the edge, as my fingers move inside my palm remains here, where lips and folds are both inside and out, strange hesitating incessant rubbing…. Are you with me? The base of my thumb, the hard wad of muscle wants to meet feline flesh, to rub up and down the fur, feel the fur rubbing itself into my wrinkles and pores, along my fine tracery of warm veins rising to the surface. When I see that stare… I look away, because there’s a lump in my chest, a little reserve, as the blood rises to my face and I blush. Nosferatu can see my vessels dilate, wants me to open up a little more, coaxing me forwards….
Right now, retreating, hidden, safely snuggled under layers of fabric and words, I wonder if Nosferatu is something I’ve just made up. Something I invented, projected out as part of my own desire – my own need to collapse onto something – someone else, my own desire to collapse over my own projected need. As I drag people towards me and push them away, as I hide myself away feeding off my own emptiness, as I sit in the grey fug of my own crushing doubt, noises, shapes, people, conversations, oppress, suffocate me. I feel my life blood ebb. No colour here, only graphite scratchings across an infinite sea of mundanity. To face myself is to face boredom, incredible boredom, counting freckles, squeezing blackheads, noting the increasing greyness emerging from each pore on my head. I haven’t got the energy to flee into colour, the sea wind chills me, and I wonder where my life blood has gone. Why am I so cold all of the time? Why can’t I think in colour anymore? I don’t know who to trust, who to believe, I barely trust myself, I trust barely, I trust myself barely. Naked in the bath, barely naked, strange pale flesh streaking past the mirror, before I hide myself in clean clothes. Is this the same body that stripped, and swaggered and seduced a few short months ago? I can barely touch myself now, and the thought of other flesh renders me nauseous. Maybe I need to go back to life drawing, but I’m enjoying melaleucas, whose stripped peeling bark, gnarled forking forms evoke my own dreams of Daphne…. She retreated from flesh, from flight, from rape, into stillness. Her limbs wooden, her feet rooted to the soil, her hands sprouted infinite leaves. Reset in Erskineville, her skin pushes outwards, splits itself as multiple layers of protection, inscription, traceries. Her skin became paper, her skin begged for writing, to be written on, for the stories her mouth had silenced to finally appear, to be heard only by eyes and hearts. There’s no words here, my dear. Only desperate sheafs of blank paper, multiplying pushing outwards, peeling, folding, splitting, reminding me of what hasn’t been written yet, what can’t be written, what can’t be spoken but could be written, if only I could find the words. I trace my finger across the soft bark, trace my soft pencil across paper, remembering flesh. Bloodless flesh.
I go back inside, retreat into the darkness, to the edge of words, where there is little more than darkness and fear. Trying to make friends with this space. Not to fixate morbidly on my own frailty, but to realise there is something inside of me. This aporia, murk of hell is part of…. Part of me, and part of life. This aporia, murk of hell is deadly, it is my own fear of death, and yet I carry it within me. I don’t need a vampire to suck my lifeblood from me any more to feel it. It’s here, behind my heartbeat, and yet my heart continues to breathe over the top. My chest expands, I breathe, quickly, from an aversive terror, or slowly and I, slowly exhale, settling down into the fixation. I sense the delight of my own collapse, and sense my own inexorable movement away from this. My life is a constant sensing of this, the awareness of hell, and the flight from pain, from death. I’m tyring not to flee so fast, so far. Trying to move a little more cautiously, holding my self as I sense the world around me – not as a fixed entity, but as what I move into, what moves into me, what becomes me and me it. I am merely a species of momentum, a set of movements in a rib cage, senses pulsing down into limbs, extremities, eyelids, pulsing, pushing forwards, connecting, calling, crying.
Nov 11: Giving a reading at Naked Heart Festival
2 weeks ago