Under the Streetlamp, 11pm at the Crosswalk 

and it’s snowing like Vermont snows at night.
A blurred December magic,
Christmas lights flickering like it’s alright.		

Holding her cigarette, barehanded, she sits on cardboard atop concrete, 
in her usual spot, alone, corner of State and Main. 
I give her my gloves and head toward the bar.

I’ve slipped again, already four doubles into the night. 
I remember a story. It goes something like: 
A long time ago. Another coast. Another life. 

I slummed and scavenged and hustled and begged. 
Sunk years in minutes. 
Back where meaning still holds her breath. 	

I know the shadow of you. 
The shadows in me.
A muted listening; a withholding.

A kind of melancholy; a melody.
How emptiness sings: surround sound shrill.
A closed-in sadness. A cry to the clouds.	

A splatter of darkness, 
drawn bleak black under curdled sky. 
A breath of scattered thoughts.

The way it feels when you can’t feel.
Feels like abandon—
tomorrow, abandonment. 	

She is not young, not old. 		
Sometimes she sings. 
She is not singing.

I glance back just to make sure.
She is not me. 
She is not me. 

It wasn’t like you planned it.
You’re supposed to be alone,		
Everyone tells you. 
Divorce blah blah blah.

The in between then and when,		 
you need self-love-shit.	
One minute I’m meditating, even journaling, and then

pure unparalleled passion — a delicious bowlful of sin.

Free 	Falling	

Taking the You from You,
all-consuming and assuming. 	

You let it happen, 

like a trance — oh how they saw you.
It was easy

                          slipping out of you	into them. 

The carnal desperateness 
                                           veritable, visceral, violent. 

Dampening the quiet like a light going out.	

                                    A piercing sigh.

You want to let go and yet

you keep coming back		only to go further. 

Resistance swallowed in the starkness,
creamy nakedness, 
a blur of flesh like moon in morning light.

Faux candle flickering, battery dying, in the corner. 

And the smell of us	 		
                                hanging rich and blatant in the air like a cliché,

like long walks in the park and 
                                            five drinks later and we’re fucking till four.

Hey girl,
                 the loudspeaker in your soul is hysterically calling for you to come back 

                                                                   you just don’t know where to come back to.

We free one another with our words. 		

                    I love your secrets.  How they feel like mine. 

Your heart scars    	read like flowers in my mouth. 	

                    Soul spit up-on the page. 	

Don’t spare the tongue 	 the telling.

Pressure and release. 	

Such pleasure, such torment 	being split open	into light. 	

        Sprawled in the intoxicating idiosyncrasies of our minds 

        Letting go of this tethered existence—

                 I can’t help myself. 	I let myself.

                 Like an echo on repeat     Yes, fuck, yes —

A wildfire raging

           spark by grasping spark [unintended] [untended] in the dark. 

           It will be defined as destruction.	It will be all the things.
          Watered down with each telling.   A breathy lullaby.   Just a hum, hanging 	

          Stealthy yet blaring. 	

          Come on now.

Come like the sun.	Blistering sedation.	A stiff serenade.

You are not mine   and yet you are. 	

Touch me   I’m so close to dead.

This is the sum of all relationships.  

Give me your radiance, I am all out.

And we burn in an abyss seeking bliss 	until we are no more.

The expiration of certainty in a bullet life is certain.  

Belief is a fictitious hoax, a pollution, a cavity of blindness.

                Abstemious isn’t sobriety any more than daring is unsafe.
		We get to make the rules.
		We get to break the rules.
		We get to opt out of the rule-cycle altogether.

We desire or we don’t.   Ignorance is another thing entirely.

The blasphemy: to never know how good it tastes.	

      Here: 	it is always here   if we want. 	

     We get to choose,   	just remember   

                                                   time is spilling.

C’mon, show me yours.   I’ll show you mine.
There is no other way (of course there is — but don’t go that way) once you go

                  Wild with the rapture of your own being,

                  Undomesticated, effusively alive — 

                  A heart rare and bleeding, screaming for more.

I was programmed without my consent.
Those before you, my gods.

Just a hint of trepidation and I’m out.
I can’t stand the sound of my own heart stuttering, so certainly not yours.

In the dark, we were stitching indecision into a quilt never meant to be shared. 
The scent of newness has a way of covering, but I recognize the stink of stagnant brokenness. 
I know it well.

I thought I’d sidestepped potential harm, 
claiming agency over fear of what might or might not be.

Maybe it was the hormones. 
Maybe it was the knowing.

Or maybe it was in the un-knowing, the unbecoming, 
where wisdom slowly surfaced from a muddled analytical blathering, 
unraveling false beliefs, a slice of surrendering. 

Accepting the journey, this Libra ever questioning, 
I’ll tune in to the monotony of routine, still rapt with desire, remembering

what it took to shake myself free:
raw and ignited, beyond the script of anything, beyond the need for a you and me.

The pattern of crumbling into another, escaping the call of contemplation.
So close, but never close enough.
The carnality of conjoined souls screaming—the innermost sound of two.

It filled a need, and yet my mind will still sour it.
I was annihilating apprehension in the perfection of unthinking.

What is lust but the spinning of desperate disaster, grinding reason, the pulse and push, feral.

Too bad pleasure and passion are not enough.

Here, in the very crater of my being, I’ll hold my own heart.
I’ll let truth flower beneath the folds of regret.

Still turning tricks for the universe, heart full and still hungry.
I am a gorgeous disarray, despite the fuckery in my head.
I am cloaked in a fire that knows boundaries, yet still tiptoes to the end for one more look.

It may be a scratched searching, spitting out indecision like poison, 
soothing the infection of doubt, but I know my way home.

Midlife and sober, I recognize suppression disguised as safety.
No more perpetual hiding.

My heart says: Hello—Hell no—Goodbye.
My heart says: I’ll take a gut-punch of open-endedness, 
just as long as I don’t disappear along the way.

For as long as I can, I want to hover in this avid allowing, in the balance of urge and becoming, 
in the not yet written plot, awaiting the deliciousness of knowing.

Because the requisition of control is as bitter as unrequited love.
And, time, you are a romp in the backseat, leaving me begging for more.

About the Author:

Tracy Haught is the managing & fiction editor for Isele Magazine. She holds an MFA in Writing & Publishing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. A poet and writer exploring themes of addiction, sexuality, women’s issues, mental illness, and homelessness, Tracy’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Awakened Voices, Barzakh Magazine, Cybersoleil, Helix Magazine, Hunger Mountain Literary Journal, Isele Magazine, The Lumiere Review, Magnapoets, The Montpelier Bridge, The Oklahoma Review, Poetry for the Masses, Polyphony, Prime Mincer, SLAB Lit Mag, Sugar Mule, and others. You can read more of her work at tracyhaught.wordpress.com. Find her on Twitter @haught_tracy

*Featured artworks by Walt Ward