Thursday, April 29, 2010

The High Before the Crash

Friday Two-fer. Poetry prompt: and suddenly. Interesting prompt. My birthday today made me consider how fast life flies past. The prose piece, excerpted from Brighter than Bright, reflects the heady feeling of youthful limerance.

and suddenly the bed shrank

along with your cleats,
your jeans,the Hard
Rock café tee
bought in Boston;
everything smaller
but the reach of your arm,
the length of your stride,
the burgeoning pile of
diaper bags, board books,
Pokemon cards, and other
childhood detritus, never
again retrievable.


The High Before the Crash

The pathos-ridden notes of Mahler flow through earphones, reverberating at the cellular level. Words zip from my brain to my fingertips and onto the computer screen. Already, two poems knocked off. I crank in my journal in the darkened living room, recounting the past few glorious days at the beach with Phoebe. All we did was eat, sleep, make love; my skin still titillates.

Seeking inspiration, I pull up my sex_p folder, my catalogued memories of all my romances. The last dozen poems recall when I lost my virginity to Gloria. So many years ago. I close my eyes, remember the tall Tuscan grass, the sky anointing us, and for the first time I don’t feel sad remembering. Gloria’s face morphs into Phoebe’s, black hair melting in the sun turning to gold, and new words rush out… Amidst silvered sheaves we lie, hidden from all but God’s eyes and bees… My groin starts to ache.

A ding. Email. Who else is up at this infernal hour? Ah… Kevin, former Andover buddy, an ass - but one with disposable income interested in buying my car.

Ran that little black Maserati of yours down Route 1 and popped 70 in six. Superb. Can’t believe you want to sell her. Thanks - check’s in the mail. K

BTW, man, your sister’s HOT – when did she grow up?

My fingers hammer back.

Excellent! Enjoy – take good care of my baby. B
And keep your diseased dick away from Izzy – you can’t afford for me to chop off the last two inches.

Yes! I swivel in the chair, pumping my arms in victory. Kev’s always coveted my 420S, ever since a bunch of us dragged her down 128 one crazy August night, hammered out of our gourds after winning lacrosse regionals. We’d crashed some RISD party, I still don’t remember how we ended up in Providence. Kev might as well enjoy the car, she’s languished lonely and neglected in that hole of a garage back home. Yes! Last Fall semester’s paid off, only Spring and Summer tuition left to figure out, then financial aid kicks in. Finally.

I return to the computer, too excited to process words. Der Abschied concludes. Enough lieder already, too heavy. I shuffle over to La Sonnambula, the elegiac notes waft through my ears. My head turns meditative, the page fills… Time slows, time stops, clouds drape the azure canvas. I’m deep into the poem when I sense someone watching me.

“Sweetie.” Phoebe stands in the bedroom door, the nightstand lamp illuminating her from behind. In her long, white cotton gown, right fist rubbing her eyes, she reminds me of a little girl at the foot of her parents’ bed after a bad dream. “It’s almost two. When are you coming to bed?”

I pull out my ear buds. “Soon, baby, soon.”

She patters over in bare feet. I swivel in my chair, blocking the screen.

“What are you writing?”

“Nothing,” I say. “Just poems. Journaling.”

“What about?” She balances on her toes, trying to peek over my shoulder.

“Uh, the past week. Our trip to the Cape. Sex. Love. God. Death.” I bounce in my chair, impatient, wishing she’d go back to bed. “My usual existential stuff.”

“Are you okay?” She peers down at me, her eyes sleepy and suspicious.

“Okay?” I jerk back against my seat. “Of course I’m okay. I’m great.”

“Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“Ideas in my head need to get out.” I fidget, pass the MP3 from my right hand to my left, then tuck it in my lap, between my thighs. “Phebes, baby, go back to bed.”

“Only if you do.” She rests her hands on her hips.

“Promise,” I say. “Just five more minutes.”

She sighs, then slowly shuffles to bed. The lamp clicks off. Back to the poem. The words look unfamiliar, aseptic, and for a second I panic – the flow’s abandoned me – but I reinsert the earphones, the music fills me again… Ah, yes… the wind sighs low…

The opera ends. Pleased, I gaze at my new masterpiece, then save the file and creep into bed. The red 3:00 of the clock glares at me, an evil eye. Phoebe sleeps with her back to me, swaddled in blankets, an almost indiscernible hump. Except for her soft purring, it is eerily quiet, the time of morning when all the world’s noises cease. I ease myself under the sheet, tug on the bunched-up blankets and cradle her from behind. When I cup her breasts with my left hand, she makes little sounds. I nuzzle the back of her neck. She turns to me, drowsy, spearmint on her breath.

“It’s late,” she murmurs.

My hand trails to her waist and under the gown, between her legs. Her thighs part, warm and soft, and I lose myself between them as she moves under me, half-asleep.

I come quickly. I roll onto my back, breathing hard. Phoebe curls onto her side and returns to nirvanic slumber. I stare at the ceiling, body throbbing, and watch the fringes of the walls begin to glow grey. Still wired. Still hard. I want to make love again. But Phoebe dreams, motionless. She’ll be pissed if I wake her again.

I shimmy off the blanket. Too hot. Strings of words dance before my open eyes, phrases of poems written or yet to be, strobing in stark black and white, the light fluttering with my pulse and melting from one image into the next, an infinite slide show.


Wonderful birthday -- thank you for reading and dropping notes on fb, gmail, everywhere. I am so blessed. Peace, Linda
Peace, Linda


  1. You are a master of this universe. I lose myself every single time you choose to share it with us. I will buy your book.

  2. Oh yeah, the sex_p folder. Yeah, I only keep romances in there, too. Totally. What else would I have in there? What are you suggesting?

    Swift prose, Linda.

  3. There's so much to love here. I really dug the voice of this and so much of this is familiar to me in my own life.

    I especially dig: " The red 3:00 of the clock glares at me, an evil eye."

    Know too much about that ;)

  4. i'm with ant - great voice. also with carrie - gonna buy that book as soon as its out!

  5. This is so fantastic.

    "When are you coming to bed?"

    With the words flowing like this, why would I come to bed?


  6. The poem: Got me a little misty. It's hard to see those favourite things put aside, the little ones left behind as new beings take over. You captured that bittersweet feeling perfectly.

    The prose: There are so many phrases here that I wish I had written.

    Glad you had a great birthday. :)

  7. An infinite slide show indeed, one image after another deliciously tumbling off the page. You get inside a male psyche really well and the psyche of the writer bouncing him between sex and creativity, nicely twinned.

    Marc (did you ever send me that e-mail? Is it about your book other's mention here? Please tell me more)

  8. Love the poem, Linda.

    I like that last bit in your story, too. The inability to shut the mind down while he's in bed is spot on.

    And again, happy birthday to you.

  9. Great pair of works, Linda. Excellent voice and tone in the prose piece.

  10. Masterful piece of writing, Linda.

    So admire you and your work.

  11. Thank you all for being so NICE to me on my birthday! I chose this scene because it is actually the night before Phoebe's b'day and Ben is soooooo excited -- can you tell?

    I am so happy to let any of you read BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT -- and help me sell it. Seriously.

    Off to read yours.... loooooooonnnnnnnnnggggggg day. Peace...

  12. Happy Birthday to you!

    There's something uncanny about how well you describe the inner life of a young man. Do you have psychic powers?

  13. Can't add anything new or clever to what has been said already. Good to see BTB get an airing.


  14. defines the literary and historical significance of the prose poem as “above all that of a critical, self-critical, Utopian genre, a genre that tests the limits of genre” (16). The prose poem, he adds, “aspires to be poetic/literary language’s own coming to self-consciousness, the place where poet and reader alike become critically aware of the writer’s language”

  15. So when are your novels coming out Linda? You can't keep teasing us like this. Blissful and effortless again :)

  16. Happy birthday Linda! I absolutely adore the bittersweetness of the poem, just gorgeous.

    And the excerpt? Brilliant as always. Will definitely help get BTB as far out as I can - as Lily asked, when, when, when? I'm anxious!

  17. Happy Belated birthday! I can't believe I missed it, it's been a crazy couple of days.

    In this piece, the High before the Crash, I loved how you described things. Like how he shimmied off the blanket, and how the light fluttered with his pulse. That kind of writing is what makes your writing flow the way it does.

    I have a feeling the crash is coming soon for this character.


  18. Thank you all for reading! And yes, there is a lot of crashing after this very happy time. After all, a happy protag makes for a very boring book ;^)

    Peace, Linda

  19. Love the idea of a guy turned on by poetry. Awesome.

  20. That perfectly describes how you feel when you're hot into a story, disappeared down the hole of your own imagination, and someone shows up and asks you a question and jerks you back up the rabbit hole. As much as you love them, you just want them to leave you be.
    And then lying in bed, your thoughts bouncing... yup, been there, done that, too.
    Happy Birthday, by the way! The older you get, the better you write.

  21. Happy belated birthday. You're the one giving gifts here. Such great flow, and the voice is so strong.

    It's a pleasure to read.