EARS WIDE OPEN // the ley of three (a firefly’s monologue)

Valentine’s Day is upon us again—a happy time for some, but not so much for others. It has been said that love makes the world go round, but what happens when love leaves? The world stops, and you wonder if you’ll ever get out of bed again. Your precious heart goes dark.

When I lost my faith, I thought I had lost the love of my life. I was wrong. I hadn’t. You cannot lose what was never real to begin with. Nowadays, I am able to see and feel more clearly. I can breathe without the crushing weight of dogma on my chest. The people I now know, I can love wholeheartedly. Of course, I try not to hurt them, but I don’t always succeed, and I am thankful that they can look past my failings. I know for a fact that I am nothing without their kindness and patience.

This poem is an ode of sorts. Yes, it’s for the ones I love. It’s also for the strangers I may never meet. It’s for those of you who have suffered on Valentine’s Day because love left. Perhaps you’ve felt despair within an inch of hope. Perhaps you’ve sensed pain waiting patiently at the door for vows to break. Perhaps old age or ill health robbed you of someone, just when you’d finally learned to forgive and accept. It’s fair to say that love is not for the faint of heart.

This reading was recorded with the accompaniment of a wonderful track by Kai Engel of the Free Music Archive. I hope it can help you in some way. I hope it can bring you some small measure of clarity. And I dearly hope love will find you again, that in the meantime you won’t let your heart go dark.

 

 

 

the ley of three (a firefly’s monologue)

i’ve been ghosting in and out of life
for a good long while now
your life, her life, and my own
i’m the conjuring lost at life’s murky end
and i no longer wish to delay
for night threatens to subsume we three

lone perforations in the dark are we
we’ve tarried here, for hope’s shape to beam
behind us and through
to propel us to… something
but it seems we’re not the stars we prayed for
nor the burning triptych others dismayed for

there’s a fallen saviour, dead in the night sky
and i think we know it
it could have clapped hands over us mankind
but chose not to
us mankind that had pledged not to lose our way
back in the good old days

so, what are we
a chorus of one, or are we not
are we some kind of earthen trinity
go on, you can answer me
are we a three-in-one rumbling spark
that shall never let the heart go dark

i’ve been ghosting in and out of life
for a good long while now
pulsing across the ley lines of our heart
linking the terrain ’til death do us part
mapping the terrain ’til death do impart
a silencing hand for all that lies below and aught above

and i said to myself, ‘if i don’t gain the world
then perhaps i might not lose my soul’
but do i have a soul, and i’ll die anyway
without faint recall to when and from
when and from we three embarked
when and from our heart sank dismally dark

there’s a saviour, dead in the sky
gone to be with a dead god
it could have clapped hands and sung over us
but chose not to
it chose not to reunite us in love, us mankind
at the cusp of a new day that was promised us

so, what are we
a chorus of one, or are we not
are we some kind of earthen trinity
go on, you can answer me
are we a three-in-one thunderous spark
that can never let the heart go dark

i’ve been ghosting in and out of life
for a good long while now
pulsing across the grey lines of our heart
without faint recall to when and from
when and from we three embarked
on our search for the day line of our heart

each day has been eclipsed by the day before
the past has been banished to the past
and mortality’s ephemeral scream
lost yonders have faded us beyond recognition
but who says we can only be here for a short while
yet the stars remain impossibly high (and we cannot be them)

there’s a fallen saviour in the sky tonight
at the right hand of a small god that won’t let us in
it could have clapped hands and brung us over once
but chose not to
we’re blood and bone, us mankind, the earth to till
until judgement day, these are the rules

so, what are we really
a chorus of one, or are we not
are we some kind of earthen trinity
go on, please answer me
the three-in-one continuous spark
we must never let our heart go dark

never

 

Text by TONY SINGLE
Audio by KAI ENGEL & TONY SINGLE
Image by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

Slut & Sensitivity (That Idiot Heart)

The first time I masturbated, it was a revelation.

I don’t remember how old I was or how I knew to do it, but it happened in the middle of the night. Between the delicious folds of blanket and darkness, I learned that a body could make itself feel good. A body could experience relief.

Growing up, I was never told that it was okay for me to be me. I was spoken at but never with. And although I was deaf, it seemed like I was making more of an effort to listen in than those much vaunted hearers around me. They required zero hearing devices in order to hear, but they also gave zero fucks about what anybody else was saying, least of all me.

That was how I learned to save my breath. If none could be bothered to listen, then it was pointless to speak. So I became proficient in the art of passive observation, dwelling deferentially at the fringes of social interaction. I’d close my mouth and lean in, vainly trying to discern individual voices within the cacophony, and reading body language for further clues as to what was being said. I learned to react to mannerisms, facial cues and perceived emotional states with little more than inference and favour currying nods. But really, I had no part to play in any of it. I might as well have been a no-show, for I was invisible.

And so it was that I became the unseen fluffer at the gloryhole of egos. I made myself utterly compliant, inoffensive—bland even. However, being so attentive and doggedly amenable meant that I was only hurting myself in the end. I was enabling others to self-medicate and preen at my expense. I ‘gave good head’, but I was also complicit in losing track of who I was and could have become. Still, none of this prevented me from feeling inside. And I would continue to feel everything.

I felt so much that I learned to hide it out of shame. I hid my face which is horribly asymmetric—that’s why I grew my hair long. I also learned to hide my deformed hands—that’s what pockets are for. Then I learned to hide my voice in silence. And if I absolutely had to speak, I made sure to drape that in shame too. On no account was I ever to feel good about me. And nothing was about me unless others deigned it so. If I wasn’t outright ignored, I was bullied, pitied or used, and tossed aside.

This made me a prime candidate for religious conversion, I think. When I was willingly recruited into the christian subculture, I thought I’d finally found my tribe. I hadn’t, after all, found it anywhere else, not even within the relative normalcy of my own family. I’d made myself complaisant in the extreme for anyone who’d stop and take notice, but this hardly mattered when all was said and done, and it hardly improved my lot. I still simply could not manage to fit in—not anywhere—to find a meaningful foothold within the swell of humanity to which I was desperate to belong. No wonder I was drawn to christianity’s promises of unconditional love and acceptance!

But even in church I’d not belong, for the qualities that supposedly made me special soon became sin that had to be rooted out. It was classic bait and switch. Reel me in with what I’d hoped was real only to find that I was inhabiting the worst place possible for dignity to thrive. I wasn’t to have long hair. Black clothes were an issue, as was my taste in heavy metal music. Oh, and no more wallowing in depression for I had nothing to be legitimately sad about. Salvation was mine, so what exactly was the problem?

I became painfully aware that my innermost thoughts and feelings were nothing more than a nest of demons to my better brethren. And my desires? They were a definitive no-no. I was allowed to be everybody else’s fluffer, but no masturbation for me. I could literally gag for christ’s coming but I wasn’t permitted to seek relief at my own hands. Feel good and burn in hell, or be in emotional agony and somehow ascend to heaven. The choice was mine.

So, like the dutiful fluffer I was, I knowingly participated in this dehumanising game of being shammed and shamed. I dropped to my knees and gave them my all. It was more than mere lip service. It was the full performance. I even spoke in tongues for them. I swallowed absolutely everything—not a dribble or drop was lost—but when it became clear that I wasn’t working out, the true believers zipped themselves up and ditched me on the side of a road less travelled.

It feels like I’ve been hungry since the dawn of time, gobbling to be seen, wanted, explored. But none can keep up with this voracious appetite for connection. It isn’t possible. For as long as I can remember, I’ve necessarily been made an option at best, a non entity at worst, but usually something to be avoided somewhere between. It’s had to be this way. People simply don’t last long in my presence. How could they?

I recall a childhood friend telling me one time—outside the main school gate—just where on his impossibly long list of buddies I fell. Towards the end as it happened. That wasn’t good enough for me, and so we never spoke again after that, opting instead to occupy different parts of the playground at recess. Everyone leaves. Or I leave first so I won’t be the one who gets hurt. But this never works. I’m always getting myself hurt, and I’m always hurting others. I don’t mean to.

I desperately wanted to date, but never did. I didn’t have the balls. I wasn’t a real man; my face was all wrong, and I had nothing else with which to impress the girls. Youth and possibility were flowering everywhere I looked, damn them, and I was a withered old bud before my time. I was going nowhere fast. So, I learned to stand still and be alone, and loneliness would become the theme that underpinned my life. I was never an introvert by choice. Genetics and circumstance forced me into that mould. It’s one that I’ve tried—unsuccessfully—to break out of since.

This is why I’ve had to discover pleasure on my own. I never did quite understand what it was I was feeling. No one guided me through this. I only knew that it felt good, that it made me feel human, and that I shouldn’t be doing it. For reasons that no one ever adequately explained, masturbation was branded a highly transgressive act, and yet… I couldn’t stop. Not even when my mother caught me in bed making love to my pillow. She never could look at me the same after that, and we sure as hell never talked about it. I wish we had. I might have found some answers. Some guidance perhaps. And I possibly wouldn’t be so fucked up now.

So, I grew up, a burning hot hormonal mess that wanted to fuck every girl in every room. But suicidal ideation, unrequited horniness and acne would be my only bedfellows. I never got used to girls, and I became the teen that time forgot. It was left to me to make myself feel good, to do more of the thing that only I could do on my own, to self-medicate. The world outside would make me feel truly utterly awful, and when I finally couldn’t take any more, I’d retreat to my room and masturbate. And then the shame. And then the crying. Where did I learn that seeking relief was so bad? Why was it such a crime? Why did I always have to feel like shit? Why was that the law?

The number of women I’ve been with can be counted on the hand with no thumb, with fingers to spare. I know well enough to be grateful to them. They were loving, sensitive, and they took great care with me. I, unfortunately, was crap and needy. I just wanted to feel good, and I wanted them to feel good so that I wouldn’t feel like I was just taking. I hope they felt good. I’m not adept at feeling pleasure—sexual or otherwise—in the company of others, so it can be extremely confronting when I see others sharing pleasure so freely.

The sad truth is, I fail at lovemaking. There is no getting around that. One of the most intimate connections I could ever share in life quickly becomes an onerous task that I simply cannot deal with. When the women I worship most willingly open themselves to me, I can scarcely believe it. My mind simply will not accept that this good thing is happening. I cannot possibly deserve this, so I choke up, I go numb, and my dick goes down. And they’re left genuinely wondering if the fault lies with them. (Is this why I prefer foreplay?)

Neediness is the engine that drives me. I’m empty on my own. I need other egos around me, spilling themselves over me, filling me up like I’m a one dollar whore. Hell, they can degrade me if it means I’ll have their attention for a while. (Can you see how fucked up I am?) Show me a little kindness and I’m tempted to fall in love with you, for mine is not a monogamous heart. Nope, my heart is a glutton and an idiot. It’s a total starving slut. And I will be your slut… if you let me.

I still masturbate, though this no longer enchants as it once did. The shininess has rubbed off, one could say, and relief has left the room. I’m not permitted to be a burden on others, but I am required to be the graveyard for all that imbues me, for I am a dead end. That is my function. Naturally, my idiot heart doesn’t comprehend this—or desperately doesn’t want to—and so it continues to inhabit the fringes, waiting, hoping, hungry for a tidbit of connection.

I’m ashamed of my emotions. I’m ashamed of the things they make me want to do just to connect. I’m ashamed of being a fluffer and a slut. A sexless masturbator. An echo of a dream. Am I just a thing pretending to be human?

Idiot heart, your narrative needs to change.

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

the swansong cycle (part two): black swan (the piano & balalaika elegy)

desolation is just a word
desolation is just a feeling
it’s nothing to do with me
yet i cry anyway
i plan to rise above it all
one of these days

when i can fill no more
when i begin to finally pour
let this last gasp elevate me
let this last gasp make me to soar

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

beautiful homunculus

love ripped through your brightened veins
you wondered how much you could possibly take
the blood (a choir) roaring inside you
rushing to shape a song inside you

naught can be done to hasten the healing
but you have to know they’re only scars
and i love you, my homunculus
hurt and all

your voice was sandpaper’s rasp
no one understood, who among them could
blood in a cage, no doors inside you
no release for the song inside you

naught can be done to hasten the healing
but you have to know they’re only scars
and i love you, my homunculus
hurt and all

you’re loved, deplumed, so no more pretense
no longer can you be about mere survival
blooded for life, a kindling inside you
the filaments of song deep inside you

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

i may never

you died in the month of may, didn’t you
when you slipped and fell from the dead god’s hand
you knew then that you’d only led yourself astray
that silence was not the only silence

and all you could think to say
how is my life not mine
never have i deserved to die
never was i requested to live

you’re the once and ever failure, aren’t you
you never could shine as bright as they
all crafted jewel and curated moments
superior vessels built for purpose

and all you could think to say
how are these tears divine
never have i deserved to die
never was i requested to live

you’re the shadow that shrank behind, so you
became harrowed when tracing your heart song
and moths stole along, they ate your pockets
and then all of your dreams trailed sore away

and all you could think to say
i am the last of my kind
never have i deserved to die
never was i requested to live

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018