WORDS'N BIRDS
AND BREATHACHES

  by Nikolina Knezevic
The Other Mind

Sometimes, and it’s a feeling I can barely describe, sometimes I am at a table and someone begins to speak and I feel, oh no, not this, oh, not this, not again; and inside me, in the pit of my stomach, I sense I am dying, that the words being spoken by the other are in fact drawing my life from me, bleeding me. At other times I feel I cannot breathe, that I am being suffocated, that the breath of life itself is being stolen from me and I am being buried alive.

Lynne Tillman, Cast in Doubt
What time should one inhabit – what geographical position occupy – so he or she does not feel like a disposable, randomly replaceable object in a conversation?

“Why this sense of solitude in rooms filled with people.”1

What kind of ‘prison house’ does one have to be entrapped in to quench the thirst for the reality of talking and touching?

“…if I’ll ever have a chance to explore these senses in words, in communication with someone who won’t be perplexed or who won’t deny their realness.”2

What kind of ‘linguistic turn’ could shift the chemistry of need?

“I still have hope in my life somehow. He has the same desperate and at times confused outlook but minus the one seed of hope – a kind of hope or desire that could be bogus or real, but nevertheless I have in me and which helps me ignore the difficult things that surround me, or at least lets me see them as transitory with some future point in store that will absolve me of all this searching or desire or confusion.” 3

What sort of the production of knowledge would suffice to outmode the word freedom from one’s vocabulary?

“These people are really like strict conservatives practicing their idea of what it is to have freedom. No imagination.”4

How should life be worded in order to make one “feel[ing] excited by living and possibility and desire. Not nullify it with pills and needles”?5

How should desire be redefined so one can smash the gates of the solitary rooms and live out the “possibility inherent in impossibility”?6

What kind of the horizon of expectations could render unguarded laughter unnecessary or less desirable?

“Most people I knew for the last four years have grown older than their age and laugh little and have grown cynical and tired and see little humor and don’t seem to have any energy to really live and experience things fully and richly and that is what I tried removing myself from.”7

What kind of neologism should one coin in order to experience time and walk it like a “wire of fire unstrung, unsung and believable (livable)”?8

What kind of ‘affective turn’ could recuperate it from the decades of calling love desire?

How can it affect catalyzing power of the oneiric and overwhelming warmth in the solar plexus? In early dawn. Or while the night is still young. Or dragging hours on a rainy afternoon. Or at night.

The Bird of Music
     Caves. And the Moon above. Whispers and groans. Just a sound. A phantom-hand in the dark. Groping. In the dark. Something melting. Half in the shadow. Dripping through the fingers. Liquidized flesh from another body. Moondrops. Like the sadness buried deep under the layers of daily superficialities. Like insomnia that I miss so much. Timedrops. And the bird of music. A secret dweller, otherwise hibernated . Occasionally leaves its non-space. Makes it a place. Waking me up. And this synchronicity never turns into bitterness. Or into happiness. Ongoing in-betweeness. Until the bird is set free from the haunted house. Freedom in the graveyard of forgetfulness. Self-oblivion of fantasy. Suffocating in in-betweeness. And daily superficialities. Until the bird kisses me again. And hibernation turns into fermentation.

Not What You Is
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

William Blake “The Tyger”

     Half in the shadow, the soft sound of your thighs keeps reverberating. Just a sound – a secluded place where sight and touch mix, fusing yet never identifying. ”Something missing. And what remained implied what was missing.”9
     Have you ever been absent from your own movements? Adventure-time like an incurable disease of the alienated world. Baby data:…feedmebreedmeneedmeseedme… 10 Then die. Gameless. Caught in a trap. Hypnotized life chancers stuck in the pleasure/pain paradoxes . Shooting up false desire. Suicided by a dotcom. “Sex and death…the oldest equation.”11
     I’m everything you are not. In a silent way. You know what I’m not. “It is necessary only to act ‘as if’ one’s conventional categories were arbitrary for one to come gradually to know that they are.”12
     Nurse me back to health. Infect me with a dream of togetherness.– “twas my fearless rebel eye that made you love me my dear…?”13

Damaged Goods
     “if you had to choose somebody to kill you, who would you choose?”14

     While the new sun was peeping through the blood-soaked pathways, a man received a package. The sender was a woman. She wrote a note, saying that she was sending to him everything he had never given to her. He was staring at the empty box in two minds about what to do next. What desire to fill up the box with. He sent the box back to the sender and started searching for the things he had never put in it. Walking it. He walked through a valley till sunset. Between the shadows and moonlight. Then he walked through a dark opening. In the morning he was by the sea. He started to swim. And he swam out as far as he could swim. Until he was too tired to swim anymore. And then he floated. Trying to get his strength back. Then the empty box came floating by. The sender was a woman.

Interruptions
     First I heard a buzz. Made me feel unease. Didn’t like the signs. It started like that. Still could see a bit of a shadow. A grasshopper invaded my dream. Noise…Couldn’t stand it. Tried to remain still. Managed it for a while, but then broke down. Gotta get out of this place. Easy does it. Moving slowly now. Through a dark opening. It’s always like that. Takes a while. Then I heard the buzz. Another tidal wave. Tried to ignore it. It shouldn’t bother me. But it does. Till I break down. Then the wave withdrew. Couldn’t pull myself together. Quite. Buzzing. Echoes of the previous attack? The announcement of the upcoming one? Couldn’t tell. Volume increasing. Noise…Like the serpent’s egg. Thought it might remain like that - never disappear from the frame. A lie. I could feel it come again. Different mix, same effect. A lie. Fortunately.
     Just a sound. Half insane. Then it disappeared. And the dream felt as if it’d been freed from the ghost. Entering the family house. No buzz. Felt good. Just empty. Perfect absence. I was standing at the door for quite a bit. Watching the hole in time. The silence was the echo of the ghost. Haunted house of memories. Tears dripping from the cracks in the walls. Flooding the rooms. Like swimming. Drowning. Can’t breathe. Make me love you again. Make believe. I know you. I know you. I spent a lot of time in bed idly stroking your thigh. Just a sound. Half in the shadow. Moving slowly. Do you feel like swimming?

Neighbors
     “I never had a middle age, I went from twenty to sixty…deep inside me lives a prim, elderly man, and sometimes a woman, like my mother or one of my aunts, or a combination of both…”15
     When I woke up this morning my mother told me about the dream she’d had the previous night. She dreamed about a neighbor, being harassed by her late husband, who came from the dead to tease his wife. Then in her dream, my mother was walking down the street, and my sister approached her marveled, touching her, to assure herself that it was really her mother:”Is this really you?” My mother was even more bewildered for she didn’t know the reason why everybody responded the way my sister did:”Of course, it’s me. What’s the matter with you?” But to herself she said, “I didn’t even know I’d died.”

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hebrews 13:2


While I was smoking in front of the building, I could feel the dampness of the autumn air sneaking in through the night. It struck me how my mother must feel terribly lonely when she’s thinking about me, and the fact that I don’t make her happy made me sad. And the silence made it even more prominent because she doesn’t like silence. But her absent laughter made it more bearable because she knows how to laugh. And she knows how to touch my hands because hers are always warm. Sometimes when we are alone in the room, I feel the things that make us so different like a third entity, almost physical …And yet… her distant eyes make it more bearable because she knows how to see me. She learnt how to tolerate my silences. She can love a stranger.

The Slide
“I had too much to dream last night.”
Jeff Noon

     The morning surprised me with inexplicable softness. In my dream they were parting. Hungry desire. The few words they spoke before the interruption secretly infused a touch of sadness into the simplicity of my tranquil start of the day. I started sliding back into a dream through a warm shower pouring over my head, “…confronting at last that awesome experience that seemed as remote from daily life as a vision of religious ecstasy, or even death itself”.16 Going back for another bite in silence: “…the fantasy could be sustained only if it was not discussed”.17
     In Morpheus’s diving suit, I dipped back into oceanic solace. No oxygen, penetrating the ungraspable space. “Thinking of her friends, she felt the peculiar unshared flavor of her own existence: she was alone.”18 Shadowy encounters with hardly identifiable traces of rainy summer days from a couple of decades ago. Quiet islands of freshness amidst the ecstatic noise of the rising heat.
     Diving on, until the journey reaches the turning point and a shift occurs, where the dreamscape starts penetrating my whole body. My skin like a propulsive membrane, my heart like a core of a phantasmagoria-eater whirlpool. A dream as the ultimate lover. A sun queen’s spell, enveloping me in the fluid from another body. “This is how the entire course of a life can be changed – by doing nothing.”19 I felt the sound of a starburst in my eyes – time to go out and join the carnival flow.

Light Sleepers
“Dreams are a biological necessity.”
William Burroughs in William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers by Klaus Maeck (1986)

     First I thought I was suffocating, but after a warm explosion in my lower belly woke me up, I realized that you were sucking on my toe before you started massaging my tongue. Saliva pouring down my throat. Massive blow to my lungs. And a long exhale.
     Light sleepers. Fall in love with me. But then, I fall in love with so many things…What kind of noises do you make when you make love? Do you take off that face then? Or you never let go? Where do you put your hands when you come? How long does the oblivion last? Do you feel awkward right away?
     Are you ashamed of fantasizing about simple things? Or big things? Do you measure things that way? Are you like that? Are you? You. Do you have craving? How high can you get? How long has it been since you woke up? Getting high on insomnia? Hungry souls. Keep scoring. Light sleepers. High on desire. Stash watchers. Delicate riders. Sleepy kissers.

Nectar Lickers
We breathed in and out together and the flesh fell away, leaving a slight prickle on the skin. It was still raining…It was there without breathing, something objective to which we both listened as, with our eyes open, and with our own thoughts, we looked at each other in the dark.20
     In my dream I was eating a peach. Then you were licking my sticky fingers. Then we licked my finger together. Then you said. And I woke up. And the whole day smelled of peaches. And it was sticky. And I licked it. And then I fell asleep. And I met you again. Recognized the smell. You made me want to measure it with a pair of scales. Just in case…if I was going to stay awake…so I could cut the thick night air into eatable chunks. And a swallow. Came to my window. Put me back to sleep.
     “Should I feel intrigued?” I said to the girl sitting next to you. And you turned your head. Looked at me. And I gave you a long silent kiss. Then you lowered your head. A tiny spot of contact of two skins. On my breasts. Your lips. And you lowered your head. A wet sensation on my right thigh. Then on my left thigh. Then you licked my sticky fingers. Our tongues entangled around my finger. And you said. A swallow.
     Your face behind the window pane. Looking into my room. “How did you find me?” I asked. “ I know where to look,” you said. “C’mon in,” I told you. “Shall we go out for a walk?” you asked. “But it’s raining,” I said. “No, it’s only raining in here,” you explained. “But that’s OK. How long has it been since you woke up?” you were wondering. “I don’t know…since I started digesting the air I smuggled from the outside,” I told you.

“You smell like a peach,” you said.

Your smell so sweet. “You look like rain,” I said.

“The rain in your room is not wet…”

“No, because it’s the air. It’s a friend.”

“Any people around?” you asked.

“Maybe…out there…”

“Wanna go?”

“Maybe…but I’m not hungry,” I told you.

“That’s OK, I’m not hungry either. Just curious…”

“Are you a bird?” I asked you.

“I was once,” you said.

“I know what you mean.”

“I know you do,” you said.

     “I feel optimistic today. Hopeful as a clear blue sky, with no clouds at all, no signs of trouble.”21
1 In The Shadow Of The American Dream: Diaries of David Wojnarowicz. Ed. Amy Scholder. New York: Grove Press, 1999. p. 106.
2 Ibid., 162.
3 Ibid., 172.
4 Ibid., 162.
5 Ibid., 151.
6 Ibid., 129.
7 Ibid., 161.
8 Ibid., 129.
9 Alexander Trocchi, Young Adam. London: Calder Publishers, 2003. p. 77.
10 Jeff Noon, Nymphomation. London: Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, 1997. p. 352.
11 Ibid., 265.
12 Alexander Trocchi, Young Adam. p. 41.
13 Ibid., 138.
14 Jeff Noon, Nymphomation. p.291.
15 Lynne Tillman, Cast in Doubt. London, New York: Serpent’s Tail, 1992. p. 59.
16 Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach. London: Vintage, 2008. p. 19.
17 Ibid. 68.
18 Ibid., 86.
19 Ibid., 166.
20 Alexander Trocchi, Cain’s Book, New York: Grove Press, 1960. p.133.
21 Lynne Tillman, Cast in Doubt. 54
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