The exact volume of every room I’ve ever shared with you, sifting over me in my quiets like warm sand.
for all my frequent calling on the body as the heart of me
I am so rarely even close enough to smell your skin
yet every second I spend near you gets you
deeper in me than however long your dick is
which I wouldn’t know.
but I know the way you shift your weight
the way you laugh when something pleases you
the craning of your head to see something no one has noticed.
seeing my desire in another’s smiling arms
her eyes shining.
let us pour over the archives, and mark
yes, this many to him, and these to him
and all this petty stack of words to her
note down the tallying of hours, waking and dreaming
devoted to each one, and let my flesh be divided
a knuckle bone to everyone who ever lost me sleep
The neck that does not turn so fully yet, the hands that shake, the foot that shifts, all my breaking bones do go to all of you. I want to reach into your guts, make light of all that slick and dark interior, I want to braid the hair inside our bodies and make you value breath so I might learn.
Strange American men leaning on the sides of pickup trucks in light rain, voices meant for radio buzzing against my neck, the kind of lives that lead to broken bottles and ever-forwarding mail, I just want to lasso myself in to something with a form, and it seems I can trick myself a thousand times with that old golden ploy, pretending that someone clever’s sticky thighs will pluck the fever from my head and give it shape.
Learning the ways in which a heart is broken by design. My mouth is filled with matted bits of clementine, little bones, your name. Slide that palette knife across us both to get the color right. I am not a safe woman, but I am predictable at worst. Give me your dirty hands to wipe my skirt on. Give me all the pretty boys and girls to make the scapegoat gleam. oh well, oh well, oh well, the lilting set of hinging time abets all criminals and I am only a beast of desire. I raise my hand to my brow to think and find it sticky with the recollection of your face.
more installation study stuff by sid branca
For this second iteration of this scavenged materials study, I tried taking myself out of it, and working purely with an assemblage of scavenged objects. all of the objects in this installation study (by no means a finished thing, just some more experiential sketching towards a future plan) are things that I acquired rather than bought—gifts, hand-me-downs, things taken from the trash. (except the paper on which the “scavenged” text was printed on, and the paint used on the cardboard— ideally these would also be scavenged in a later iteration.)
The text is from Sophocles’ cycle of plays Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone, recomposed through erasure via blacking out with marker, and then further obscured by the pouring of peppermint oil on the pages, running the ink. The room was filled by the very strong smell of peppermint. There was also a short audio loop playing, the voices of my mother and father trying to work an audio recorder.
As I continue this, I think I need to reintroduce human bodies as sculptural objects, just not my own, so I can continue to compose from an outside perspective. I also want to push harder on the audio and olfactory elements. I’d like to fill an entire small room with various stations, altars, sites, bodies, that are all continuous in a sort of horror vacui way, and with further explorations of erasure writing techniques working with ancient greek texts in a more contemporary (but still somehow existing not in the present) visual environment.
From this moment on, the number of people you have loved who are gone will only rise. The blacked-out lines in your telephone book, the songs that sting to hear, the memories whose blurring focus frighten you. Rising, rising.
Our job, our mission, our only item on the deepest, truest list, is ensure that our love, alongside, rises too.
Before I go to sleep, we are enjoying each other and saying goodbye. In my dream, we are enjoying each other and saying goodbye. I wake up, and we are enjoying each other and saying goodbye. I love you, and will always, always hold you in my heart, awake or dreaming. Bon courage, mon cher.
dream: technical rehearsal (slow dance with white shoes)
I’m arriving late, everyone I know seems to be there, in elaborate costumes. We’re rehearsing for something. I walk through the space, looking for the corner that’s mine. I pass many friends and lovers in the first few steps, the men in dresses and the women in lingerie and wigs. I move to another room and settle on a stool to watch performances rehearsed. A very tall man in a monk’s robes performs with a video monitor, telling confusing jokes that come out funny in the end, when he strips of his robes to reveal glowing beads.
You’re there, waiting to perform, and as you walk just past me I grab your arm. You grab mine back. We stay this way, muscles tensed and bodies close. A count of ten. You kiss me, long and slow and then again, as we move through the crowd to a tiny kitchen, built into the room, where some of the women are practicing their dances. A song is playing, one we both know. We slow dance, wearing matching white keds. We are very close, I can feel your hips and your cock and your ribs against me. I look at our feet. Our shoes are white but I’ve stepped in rust, or orange paint, and every time I step on your feet because I’m bad at dancing, I can see the mark left. I do not mind, because you do not mind.
The sensation of slow dancing in a dirty white sneakers in a crowded kitchenette is making my heart bloom, my body fall apart. You kiss me again, and then I see a girl do a backbend right behind you, almost hitting you, and I laugh, and we let go. “I’m gonna go pee,” you say.
"I’m gonna go kill this boner with a notebook," you say. "I’ll meet you back here later." You are grinning at me in that way I like. I nod. We walk off in separate directions.
I head to the swimming pool in the basement to cool off, and get entangled in an argument about racial politics with some teenagers, and I wake up before you and I meet back up in the kitchen.
I realize that in my dream you were clean-shaven, but when I saw you last you had a beard, and you look better with a beard, I think. I wanted so badly to take your photograph.
I have been trying to write a poem about you for weeks. I imagine your name on the dedication page. I imagine the way you don’t look at me when I hand it to you. I imagine you reading it aloud, alone, in your bedroom that I have never seen. The work of my heart is largely one of fiction.
I am clinging to a cup of coffee, my limbs are tangled in the door. I look at the place where you were. I am falling apart. The bird in the head is making new song, new song. I try to look at the counter, the sidewalk, the outlet hidden near the ceiling.
Every room holds secrets, blossoming out from the depths of them, ivy unfurling in bright light unnoticed. My body is displacing secrets with every movement. You see them, because you see. I am learning to look.
Learning the ways of silence is its own method of speech. My mouth is filling up with lake, with wanting and inarticulate touch. I will code and code and quiet. I will let and let and listen. The mystery is worth the mystery.
Today I have been too occupied with frights.
The frights of the world and of the head, the slick panic that crawls up through your chest in that ecstasy of ruin. The hand that shakes and shakes and the desperate voice that asks unceasingly questions without sense.
Help, and help, and help, and the refrain continues, and help, and help. The refrain continues. The body knows nothing. The body is raw, and the mind is simply meat set in all that bristling.
Time passes, and I am afraid. The bills go unpaid. The lights inside my skull flicker on and off. I sit behind my eyes in blind panic. Hold, hold, the moving of the self through sheaves of water like a bladed fish and I cannot control the currents. The one that I would call to me is gone, resting before battle, recovering in softer lands.
My name is Sid Branca and I am depressed. Hold my hand in the night.
An ant crawls into the ear, and the recollection of a body blurs in time to music. Put my heart upon the wind, because I cannot stand to house it here. Put my tongue upon the sea, because it grants no wisdom to these teeth. The collapse, the assemblage, the discarded part. The balloon that lifts the woman to the sky.
Sometimes, I think, things could have been easier.
I could have crawled up from the sea, no father and no memories, a blazing fire in a mussel shell, slowly grinding into sand.