the fifth stage.

The Surreal House, by Francesca Woodman
The Surreal House, by Francesca Woodman

 One.

 “You are the house,”

she explained

while discussing

the somnambular wanderings,

dreamscape happenings,

inside of the childhood home.

         Home.

I live seven walking minutes away

and never pass it.

         Some say they

miss home.

         I avoid it.

“You are the house,”

said Therapist in

a freezing January room,

magnified white-hot

winter rays

penetrating the lace

curtains veiling

modest sacred pulp.

         (When dreaming

of wandering

through houses,

we wander

through ourselves) –

         and in the house

wallpaper was

thirty layers thick,

dead aunts

sat in familiar

wingback chairs,

parents were lost

like children,

and trash piled

to the ceilings.

         “You are the house”

with the dark curtains

and basement shower.

         “You are the house”

with the onion layers

and fruit cellar.

        “You are the house”

with the yellow bricks

and chalky mortar.

         “You are the house”

with the frantic eyes

and ambiguous borders.

Five.

They always made me uneasy,

but not this one.

This time,

the house

was as it was.

No strange rooms,

no unfamiliar decor,

no temporal trash,

no cerebral symbolism,

no shaking shell of a mother –

the house

was as it was –

plus something

filtered,

something refined,

plus something

pure and peaceful,

and it was mine.

 

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

fruits and nothings.

Kiyo Murakami
Kiyo Murakami

 

What does

it mean to let

come what may?

 

Formless words

dense with

abstraction

 

dripping with

the tart juices

of something

 

less than love

and greater

than reason

 

shock a tongue

expecting

the tickle

 

of sweet

fruits and

nothings

 

tasted and

whispered

after the

 

world was

asleep

and only

 

the stars

were

watching.

 

Bitter fruits

growing from

the soft petals

 

of decadent words

(with vibrant hues

and sweet aromas

 

that trick the bees

into yielding

poisonous honey)

 

are innocent

carriers of the

impolite pain

 

of sacred words

lightly thrown

into the face

 

of a one who

craves them

like breadcrumbs

 

toward the

eager beak of

a starving pigeon.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

persistent ghost.

Skull - Vincent van Gogh
Skull – Vincent van Gogh

 

Head throbbing with

an inner knocking

and coffee sliding

down like

someone’s died,

the sunflowers

dance around me

in strangely cool

winds of a steady

summer rain

as I try desperately

to define the

abstract sadness

hanging heavily

around.

 

Willing this

intrusive pain

to dissolve in the

static of emotional

white noise

fails me,

as some emotions

aren’t soluble in the

deepest reaches

of mindscape.

 

They take root,

growing limbs and

creeping tendrils –

I navigate

around them

denying their

existence even

while they

break through

the meniscus

of thought,

blanketing the

waking world with

the leaves of

formless sadness.

 

Everything

everywhere

reminds me of

who and why it is,

the persistent ghost

of disappointing times

unlikely to leave

until it’s given

a proper burial

and paid its

proper respects –

because life

and people

and places

are never perfect

but everything dead

deserves a funeral.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

just enough fight.

The Double Secret, by Rene Magritte
The Double Secret, by Rene Magritte

 

Riding memories

on salted ocean air

thick with loves

and pains of a

preternatural past,

the temporal space

is filled with

monsters and men,

perfumed nights,

sun-kissed cheeks,

and tired red eyes

hidden beneath

borrowed shade

as I move

through it.

 

With aching legs

and a soaring heart,

the prophecy

of pivotal change

moves with me

through humidity

and time,

proving itself right

despite jealous visions

and skeptical longings:

change happened

because I willed it,

accepted it,

embraced it,

nurtured it,

and because

it was time.

 

Here and now

the ghosts

of these nights

remain mournfully

hopeful sentinels

as I return

to remember,

and shall return

until the day

they are no longer

shadows of lives lost,

rather visions

of life gained –

 

the champions

of here and now

fighting for meaning

and honor

in a place filled

with senseless pain

and profound beauty,

eternally armed

with just enough fight

and more than

enough love

to get by.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

 

 

 

the other half of weird.

Aya Takano, The Light That She Yearns For
Aya Takano, The Light That She Yearns For

 

We met through a window

with the most dismal view –

 

everyday peering

through filthy glass,

waiting for

the moment

a peek of color

might flutter

by on hopeful air.

 

I’d nearly given up

on the window –

 

its cracks

too deep,

its panes

too obscured

by layers of

filmy residue

left behind

during neglectful

years and

thousands of

salty tears

shed amongst

the slinking

shadows hidden

between rays

of penetrating

starlight.

 

And then on

a typical day

of chronic

disappointment,

risking a glance

up toward the

hazy view,

I was greeted

by two orbs

of sage

staring sadly,

quietly,

knowingly

back.

 

Everyday I returned,

compelled by

curiosity and

comfort to

seek refuge

in those

deep pools

of dark pastel,

 

everyday feeling

less alone

in a world

where things

are broken

that cannot

be mended,

 

where years

of pain surface

as evident scars

that only the

scarred can see,

 

where love is

still possible

after a beating

heart is torn

bleeding from

its chest,

 

where two people

can seek refuge

from a polluted view

by finding completely

weird beauty

in each other.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

 

The Laughter.

Ricke Rahmond, 1979-2013
Ricke Rahmond, 1979-2013

I.

 

When he asked

if I liked it,

the bright

yellow paint

splattered

with purple

where the

crumbling ceiling

met the

cracking wall,

time stopped

for long enough

to watch our

precious moments

together replay

in my mind.

 

I always loved

whatever his

spidery fingers

produced:

the art, the music,

the fluidity

in dance,

the long

firm hug,

the trustworthy

hand held

through a crowd

thick with

pulsating youths.

 

Unlike everything else,

I didn’t like it,

this Pollock-y

matte paint.

I didn’t like

how the purple

attacked the yellow,

sunshine struggling

through bruises,

surfacing in

painful patches,

fighting for breath

as purple spread,

smothering yellow

before my eyes:

a rash,

an infection,

an aggressive disease.

 

II.

Three months later

I trembled

in a doctor’s

conference room,

cold white and

stainless steel,

surrounded by

his best friends,

mother, and aunt.

Ricke knew

what the doctor

would say.

We all did.

Our heartbeats

were audible

as the file opened

and words

spoke aloud.

He told me

in the yellow

and purple.

He knew

and I knew

that he was

a frightful

kind of sick

and life

was on a

countdown.

III.

Eleven years

and three

lifetimes ago

we sat on a

Southside curb,

watching traffic pass

in silence.

Eleven was always

his number,

but that

wasn’t his year.

Twelve months in

and HIV

consumed

the yellow

I once knew,

tearing him

apart and

pushing

everything

away.

IV.

I miss

his laughter

the most,

the way his

expressive face

exploded into

violent fits of

contagious hysteria.

I’ve never laughed

as much as

I did with him,

my Ricke,

my best friend,

my soul-brother.

Somewhere near

his laughter floats

atop gentle winds,

swirling through

creeping tendrils

of pumpkin vine

and mighty arms

of sunflower,

and he’s happier

than he ever

was in life.

He is everything

he could never be:

he is free …

Free from

the burdens

of damaged body

and mind,

free from time

and pain,

from longing

and endless

heartache,

free to laugh

and be the joy

he always was,

trapped within

the suffering.

He’s free

to embrace

the living with

his loving laughter,

our Ricke,

riding upon his

comforting winds.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

 

Ricke and Renee, Renee and Ricke, 2003
Ricke and Renee, Renee and Ricke, 2003

the nervous courage.

The Apology, by Mark Ryden
The Apology, by Mark Ryden

 

Putting off

the dusting

the watering

the weeding

the nothing

I sit to write with

hesitant hands

and a stabbing

yearning

for that from

which I hide.

 

Afraid to face

myself in silence

when the world is still

and truth is bold

I create,

cherish,

and squander

in the privacy

of loneliness,

words open sores

bleeding and

oozing the everything

I labor at concealing.

 

This private legacy,

selfish secret,

dark horse

breathing down

my neck

whispers hot

words of courage

and purpose

and meaning

bigger than fear,

 

so there it is

and here I am,

unprepared

but entirely assured

that it’s time

for the naked silence

of speaking

words aloud.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

the weak cog.

Fleeting, Shayne of the Dead
Fleeting, Shayne of the Dead

 

So we’ve got

these things

that are just

the best at

what they do –

 

fruits and fireflies,

trees and tigers,

demons and dogs,

each commanding

a unique

genetic purpose

without question

or doubt.

 

Countless creatures

of leaf and fur,

of scale and skin,

of life and breath

working and resting,

foraging and nesting,

attacking and defending,

keeping this

clockwork ticking,

 

while we struggle

with our big brains

and fancy thumbs

to get at

the meaning

of life.

 

You’ll never

see a bear

slumped over

on the forest floor

wallowing in

the despair of

meaninglessness,

 

an ant paralyzed

by fear of change,

 

a fern listless

in the wake of

unrequited love.

 

Human beings are

simultaneously

the most effective

and defective

animals

on the planet.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

 

abstracts.

Faceless Composition, Lara Jade
Faceless Composition, Lara Jade

I.

 

Alone,

mourning pale yellow light

as velvet plum wine reflects

a vacuum sea of stars

struggling to penetrate

the city’s glare.

 

Without rational passion,

without positive prostitution,

without damaged ears to hear

or bloodshot eyes to read,

 

alone with my

reckless creation,

all around,

all stillness,

all movement

is without.

 

Hands compelled to

write with open honesty

are stunted by caution,

my remora

fattened upon the

volatile words

of a weary brain

as they drip

down through

to fingertips

in a parade

of ink beasts,

vowels and consonants

shaping a strained reality

determined to undermine

the foundation

of these precious

fleeting moments

where there’s still

life to live.

 

This thing on my mind

leaves me stranded

without option,

without power,

without a plausible solution,

giving birth

to coded abstracts,

disguising the truth and

feeding from within,

replacing the me

with the nothing.

 

II.

 

Were I to know unmitigated satisfaction,

I might die in its arms.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014

 

Demolition.

Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington

 

How often

I wrote your name

in invisible ink

on blind paper

to a deaf audience

in an empty theater

while imagining my skin

with your skin,

my mouth

with your mouth,

my body

with your body

within the walls

of our modest home.

 

Grassy yard,

happy dog,

sweet child,

wily garden

each blooming with life,

 

our patch of passion

and contentment,

secluded seduction,

calming condition

where we share

wine and wishes,

philosophies and prayers,

secrets and dreams,

where we sleep deeply

in each other’s company –

 

and here we are.

 

Close enough to

feel your breath

and all I can smell

are hot lies

and bitter delusions

pouring from

that precious mouth.

 

Far enough to

see your disembodied

hands tearing down

our fragile house

while your mouth

claims to mend it.

 

Piece by crumbling piece

the foundation breaks away

in arid clumps

within your tightening grip,

turning to dust

in unorganized winds

blowing into my

eyes and mouth.

 

Blinded,

suffocating,

stumbling,

reaching out

for your shadow,

you turn

away and

do what’s best

for us all.

 

 

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014