life as an onion.

"White Onion" by Justin Clayton
“White Onion” by Justin Clayton

 

Brittle paper skin

crackles beneath

shaking fingers,

exposing the

glossy globe

of ivory white

with its longitudinal

striations of

spring bud green.

 

It is beautiful

and you are young,

unaware of what

lies beneath.

 

Smooth in

your palms

and heavy

for its size,

fair onion

has gravity

hiding beneath

this elastic layer.

 

Then comes

the knife.

Then comes

the truth.

 

Life is an onion,

each delicious layer

promising the

painful sting of tears.

 

 

Renee Novosel

Copyright 2015

All Rights Reserved

 

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

a matter of perpetual creation.

Star Child, by Juliette Crane

 

The carbon of my body

recalls the best of it all:

 

the time before

worry and loss,

the time before

hunger and pain,

the time before

good and evil.

 

The time when

atomic collision

was the long

and short of it.

 

When molecules

that would travel

far and wide

before becoming

you and I

and the skies

and the trees

buddied up

in the belly of an

elemental bakery.

 

A super-massive

pulsating, churning,

bubbling womb.

 

A hostile incubator.

 

Our celestial mother

martyred by iron

so that we

might live as

rearrangements

of her labors,

her reflection

eternally trapped

in the eyes of

those who

know her best,

reminding us

to never ignore

that we are

all born

together.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Florence.

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Januaries Ago

 

Things hadn’t added up

in the past and they

weren’t adding up again,

when I did those

shamefully invasive things

I’d never done during

nine years of lies.  

 

Opening the laptop screen

like a grave-robber afraid

of waking the dead,

I read what I feared the most

in resentfully etched

black and white.  

 

No more speculation –

no more fabrication.

There were the words alive

and here they live

branded into the fabric

of nightmare and memory:  

 

“I’m not in love with my wife …

I can’t stop thinking of her.”  

 

A July Past

 

Revolutionary lusty love,

midnight moonlight passion,

post-apocalyptic, syncretistic,

fortuitously gracious,

sea-soaked cosmic balance,

post-daiquiri Guinness

total darkness –

it all swims through

my elatedly weary mind

helplessly riding

the wild waves

of the wax and

wane of change.  

 

“It’s over and

I’m going under,

but not I’m giving up,

I’m just giving in,”

sings the lithe gazelle

in sea-foam green.

 

(In false fates I’ve

nearly drowned

again and again –

never forgetting

the familiar burn

of empty lungs

and panic;

never strong

enough to

just give in.)

 

Sometime Near Now

 

A dragon in fear

and phoenix in fire,

these salted lips

kiss faded bruises,

clinging to old gods

in hopes of conjuring

something new

from the flames of

recycled prayer.    

 

Eternally the

hunted witch

and restless

Viennese whore,

parts of me  

walk a familiar path

through the thick

emotions of a

muddled mind

and recounting heart,

searching for an

idea of peace

in faded times

of sickly love

and consuming woe.  

 

And there it was,

the peace,

quietly alive

alone,

beneath miles

of tumultuously

conflicting currents –

without lover in mind

or fortune in heart,

beckoning for

the emptiness

of certainty to

pour from lungs

aching for the

powerful peace

of uncertainty,

finally convincing me

after lifetimes

of fruitless fight

to just give in.    

 

 

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

for maya.

Maya Angelou

 

We all have pain.

 

Some more than others.

 

Some people feed

its scraps

to the hungry dogs.

 

Some people take

it to the bank,

stowing it away

in a dusty

safe deposit box,

fading to nothing

upon its key holder’s

fade to nothing.

 

Others fling it

in the face of the

world at large,

an unfortunate fate

for innocents

crossing the paths

of emotional maniacs.

 

Some people

own

their pain.

 

They take it

into their arms

and cradle it

like a newborn,

 

losing sleep

and time

just the same,

 

feeding it from

their well of

inner strength,

nurturing

until it

matures enough

to reason with.

 

Matures enough

to comprehend

how cruel the

world can be.

 

Matures enough to

make peace with.

 

Matures enough

to let go of

like a parent

waving goodbye

over a parade

of packed boxes

and painfully

joyful embraces.

 

Some people

fabricate their pain

knowingly and willingly,

masquerading as

the victim

in a cruel and

unfair world.

 

For others,

the world defines

cruel and unfair,

 

and some,

they let it break them.

 

Others wear the pain

like a pulsating

badge of

bloody honor,

feeding from its

richly caloric

bittersweet powerhouse,

owning it,

embracing it,

overcoming it but

never forgetting

the poisonous needles

prodding them

toward success.

 

We are brothers

and sisters,

mothers and fathers,

lovers and givers,

us all,

and the pain

doesn’t define us.

 

We define

the pain.

 

We define

the suffering.

 

We fuck up

and falter.

 

We squander

and abuse,

 

We withdraw

and explode,

 

We love and learn

while defining

our pain,

 

and it drives

us farther than

the finest

fossil fuel

 

when you

give it

the homage

it deserves.

 

 

images-13

“Cotton rows crisscross the world

  And dead-tired nights of yearning

Thunderbolts on leather strops

 And all my body burning

Sugar cane reach up to God

And every baby crying

Shame the blanket of my night

   And all my days are dying”

– The Memory, Maya Angelou

Renee Novosel

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014