first night with

He has the softest hair I have ever felt in my entire life: like down and puppy fur and clouds and I swear this sounded sensible in my head and so damn literary right up until the point where he kissed me and then I lost the plot a bit. …A lot. I can feel my fingers tearing at his roots but they’re strong and they hold and I’m so glad because it really is wonderful hair. The stereo is blaring acoustic guitar and concert strings, something light and ethereal, something we can sort of dance to: hips swaying as our hands roam. He’s suddenly so tall and I have to stand on my toes to reach him. I’ve never felt something this passionate: mouths pressed so hard together our teeth crash and it might hurt if I cared but I don’t right now, I just don’t. The ardour hasn’t died once since this started, since he pulled me towards him with mischief in his eyes, and we’re christening every nook of his flat with this wonderful, wild fury. But I’m not in love with him, I think. Is this wrong of me? Is this cruel? But his eyes are this wonderful colour I’ve never seen before and he wants something to happen and I do too! That can’t be wrong, can it? And it feels so nice to have that want, have someone look into you and undress you with their eyes. I’m laying on the floor spread-eagled for him and I damn well know it. Writers.

I’m not a whore! Don’t think that: I’m not! It’s not that I go and find blokes in bars to fuck and leave; I’ve thought about this! I’ve thought about him. And maybe that’s what’s sealing the deal or maybe it’s his eyes, but this isn’t a habit for me. It’s not. It’s just not. He just feels so good, so solid and real, and I’m feeling real for once, too. He keeps pulling me back to smile at me, looking devious and joyful, and that smile is infectious and wonderful and I’m being reckless, I know I am, but I haven’t felt this free in a very, very long time. I’ve missed recklessness. I’ve missed the rush.

His fingernails scrape hard along my exposed arms, setting the hairs on the back of my neck on end. Something crawls up from low in my belly and rumbles past my lips. He captures it with his tongue and laughs. It’s lovely and soft, just like his hair–and then my fingers are locked into that again and life becomes a blur, a haze of significant caresses and crushing mouths. ‘You have beautiful eyes,’ I say, and he does. Beautiful eyes, smile, arms, lips. He’s a beautiful man and I’m flattered when he returns the sentiment, even if I don’t think it’s true. But he’s looking so far into them, I’m sure he can see my soul and maybe that’s what he’s saying is beautiful, I don’t know. I’m not sure I believe that either. But then we’re curled up on his couch and he’s over me and I think I could believe anything right now if he told me it was true. ‘Let’s go upstairs,’ I say and he looks at me with fear. I think he thinks I’m kidding and I’m not sure if I am, he just feels so solid: so warm and real. And I feel real, too!

For once.

He feels so good and I want to feel more, live out this dream if that’s what it is, and wake up tomorrow, sated and spent and wondering if this ever happened at all, if it’s just a dream. Or something more. I hope it’s not a dream. I hope he understands. But then he’s pulling me up his ladder, into his loft, and his mouth is on mine, hands tugging at my clothes. I love the sounds he’s making. He smells like summer rain. Is this wrong, I wonder, is this wrong of me? ‘You have beautiful eyes,’ I tell him: beautiful eyes and beautiful hands. His mouth is on my lips and I’m dizzy from the heat, hands roaming, nails scraping; it’s all very surreal but it’s not. This is something my mother warned me about: dark men who could draw me home with them to have their wicked way. She never mentioned how wonderful it could be, how sometimes a stranger is really a friend. How one can look in someone’s eyes and know, suddenly, the rest of one’s life.

The music swells and so does he: I can feel his heartbeat on my collar and it’s making me shiver inside. Our mouths are growing frantic and sloppy and I’m starting to forget everything: who I am and where we are and all that really matters is that I’m here and so is he. I can feel myself questioning this still and wondering and then he’s inside me and I’m fine it’s fine it’s more than fine it’s summer rain and old movies and Christmas day back when Christmas meant something, back before Da was called evil and Mum lost her mind. He smiles like sunrise and pushes back my hair. I love him, I think–why am I thinking that? I don’t! Do I? But I could. I know I could if I wanted to, if I was ready if it was right. And that scares me a bit. That scares me a lot.

I’ve never felt beautiful in my skin. I’ve never felt beautiful like this: sweating and wheezing, it’s all strange noises and stranger smells, wondering if I look as ridiculous as I feel or if this really is what I’m made for. What God intended for me to be. The way my heart is telling me I’m supposed to be. I’ve never felt beautiful before. But folded up on his bed, looking up into his eyes–so clear and calm and certain–it’s the closest I think I’ll ever get.

This sounded sensible once. Right up to the part where you kissed me. Then I lost the plot a little. I lost the plot a lot.

June 2007

© Charlie Pevensie


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{can’t stop thinking about last night}

just a little fluff that came to me at work today. no idea why. –c.p.

can’t stop thinking about last night:
your voice
on the end of the line
whispered promises
just now
just this moment
just with you
and tomorrow doesn’t matter
and before is nothing much
here together
miles apart
feel your hot breath
against my cheek
your hand
on my neck
your body
abovearoundinside me
fills my mind
captures me

June 2011

© Charlie Pevensie

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in praise of normalacy

I want to know what it is that makes a person exceptional.  There has to be something, some sort of formula or an equation I can’t master, which makes someone worth fighting for.  I see people —  Okay.  I see women.  Women who are ‘attained’.  They sit on their pedestal, up there with the roses and diamond rings I keep hearing I should want, and I find myself wondering: why her instead of me?  If I wore my hair down and listened to Elvis Presley instead of Elvis Costello, would that do the trick?  If I traded my roughed-up trainers for a pair of high-high heels, put down the Sylvia Plath and picked up the Cosmopolitan; if I took the effort to cover up my masticated cuticles, my ever-dwindling acne, the cock-eyed bend from busting my nose so often it finally quick growing straight, would that put me in a position where I was wanted?  Would that cross me over to the other side, the side of the Woman Who Must Be Won?  Would I, too, be sporting a ring people secretly think is ugly and planning a wedding that will indebt me for life?

This isn’t about her.  Really.  I know it’s not serious, at least not yet.  It’s just a few dates and a couple of laughs.  Still, she makes perfect sense to me.  She’s light years beyond me.  We belong to different galaxies in universes that never would’ve met if we didn’t happen to share a star.  (That’s you.)  She’s incredible.  Honestly, she is.  And I’m just…average.  I’m okay.  I know that; I’m fine.  I could’ve gotten it a lot worse.  Look at my brother.  But I’m not…‘Wow’.  I don’t stop traffic.  I’m not an Audrey Hepburn.  She is an Audrey Hepburn.  I’m more of a…Bette Davis?  Though Bette Davis is much more attractive than I could ever dream of being.  Come on, she’s stunning.  Now that I think of it, I actually think she might be hotter than Audrey.  I mean, damn, girl!  Bette Davis!

Okay, that metaphor isn’t working at all.

She–  She’s a Cannes Festival Winner.  Five stars.  Internationally recognised.  BAFTA, even.  And…  I’m, like, Pantagraph Reader’s Choice.  Okay, on a really good day, maybe Good Housekeeping, but I don’t go much above that; let’s be realistic here.  I’m pretty much stranded in the theoretical Heartland of America along with a whole lot of casserole and Jell-O salad and County Fairs.  It’s not bad.  There’s a lot worse places you could be.  Kosovo?  ‘98?  That’s a good example.  The Grand Café is a Pantagraph Reader’s Choice pick; it’s quite respectable.  Not my favourite, but more than edible.  Really good beef and broccoli, actually.  Their Egg Fu Young gives me indigestion, though.

I don’t blame you.  I’m not mad.  At all.  I wish I was, but I’m not.  I like her.  Jesus, I don’t think it’s possible to not like her, she’s so damn likable.  Lucky for her.  And she likes you.  She clearly likes you.  Like likes.  I’d be doing the same thing if I were in your position.  Maybe that’s what bothers me.  It doesn’t even bother me that much.

But I do kind of wish I could branch out from The Pantagraph.  I mean, hearing Dan Craft say that your masterpiece is worth five stars and ‘two enthusiastic thumbs up’ isn’t exactly what you aspire to during the gruelling hours of your cinematic training.  I’d much rather go to Cannes.  I’ll be their Festival Winner.  Please, lay it on me, Cannes!  Fuck, man, I’d take a compliment from the AV Club, Variety, even the  Chicago Reader.  Something – anything – above the Pantagraph Reader’s Choice.  And why the fuck shouldn’t I have that?  What makes her so much better than me, anyway?  I mean, I know I’ve got it.  I know how to please.  I can make people laugh and I can touch their heartstrings.  I’m a goddamn family classic.  And I know you got pretty excited during the swimming pool scene in my second half at least once during the long torment of your high school years.  Oh yeah.  You know which one I’m talking about.  There’s a reason why you stopped watching me with your mother.

I know your secret.  You shoved me on a shelf in your basement, but there’s not a lot of dust on me; my shit gets watched.  It’s Saturday afternoon, it’s raining, you didn’t really want to mow the lawn in the first place.  So you come down to the basement.  You pick me out from all the rest of those battered VHS tapes.  You cradle me just a little as you take me to your den and stick me in your VCR.  And you love every second you spend with me.  We have a ball for those sweet, brief hours, just the two of us, a bag of popcorn, maybe that ratty blanket you made in Home Ec a thousand years ago.  And afterwards, just as we’re parting ways yet again and you return to the life you show the rest of the world, you smile at me.  ‘We should do this more often,’ you say.  ‘Yeah,’ I say, ‘I’d like that.’  Oh.  I know your deal.  You won’t show me off to your hipster friends; you won’t set aside valuable time just to study the subtleties of my composition and the splendour of my script; you will never discuss my beautiful complexities at artistic cocktail parties when your shoes are killing you and you would murder for a drink without an olive in it.  But I bet you money that when my name comes up at a bar or on the subway after work, you will quote every quip of witty dialogue like it was Holy Scripture.  And you laugh hysterically with all of your friends.

I may not be exceptional.  But for you, I am significant.

See, that’s the advantage of being trapped out here in Pantagraph land, drowning in the average wasteland that is Midwestern banality.  You won’t ever admit it to anyone else, but we both know it’s true: nothing feels better than going to your old favourite place, where you were safe and you were happy even when you were hurting and the whole world sat on your shoulders.  And now when things get lonely and your life gets rough, you lay awake and think about those things: the things I mean to you.

So when you tire of studying the otherworldly exception that is your albeit stunning Festival Winner, do what makes you happiest and come down those creaking basement steps.  Push back the cobwebs and throw off your corn-crafting party shoes.  Wash off the make-up and quit worrying about your hair.  I’ll be waiting, sitting right here, always on this painfully ordinary shelf, you know the one: next to the cases of PBR you pretend you don’t drink, the beat up sneakers you swear you’ve never worn, your dusty, sweet-smelling books that will never, ever replace the crap you buy in the CVS every morning.  The memories will flood you.  The joy will feed your soul.  And you’ll go back to being all the boring, average, everyday things that make you the radiant, brilliant, marvellous enigma that will never stop fascinating me.

August/September 2009

© Charlie Pevensie

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lyrics below in italics are from ‘going to morocco’ by the mountain goats

This never gets easier.
No matter how often it happens —
how glad you are it’s not someone else —
this never gets easier.
It’s terrible every time
and you’re an idiot for crying,
but you do it anyhow.
I’ve been waiting for the call:
my father’s voice at the end of the line,
How are you honey, you got a second…
But it doesn’t soften the blow.
I thought it would.

It’s not the thing itself that bothers you,
it’s the inevitability of the call:
the icy hand at the window,
the icy foot in your step.
It’s my mother’s voice betraying her worry.
It’s that one day,
I’ll be the one to make these calls.

You take my hand and lead me to the car.
You open the door and help me in.
You turn on the engine,
start driving us nowhere,
turn off the music,
watch me talk on the phone.
I’m just trying not to cry.
If this is what maturity is,
I’m hiding in your bed and never coming out.

There’s wetness in my eyes,
tracing lines on my sooty face.
You take my hand and kiss it.
I stutter and choke on my breath.
You touch my face and smile,
and then you begin to sing:

There’s no reason to cry.
There’s no reason to cry.
You can have a seat for a while.
But don’t touch that dial,
’cause there is no reason to cry.

The tears are coming quicker now;
your fingers reach to wipe them away.
I look up for your smile
and see more in your eyes.
You pull the car into a space
and unbuckle just to hold me:
not saying a word,
not pressing for more;
breath coming steady and keeping me close.
Wipe away my fear like you wipe at my eyes.
There’s snot on your jacket now,
but you say you don’t care.

There’s a guttural stop in my throat.
There’s a guttural stop in my throat.
The wind comes in from far and wide.
Sands blow.
Grains collide.
I’m changing inside.
And there’s a guttural stop in my throat.

Somewhere in a distant place,
it hits me that she’s gone.
And the knowledge comes:
I could be next.
My family,
my distant friends,
my everyone.
But you are the epitome of life:
your smile like being born again,
cleaner than I was before.
And in my newfound salvation, I look into your eyes,
and I have never loved anyone more in my life.

Mid-July 2007

© Charlie Pevensie

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{i’d like to write you}

I’d like to write you
a Valentine’s poem: with
steady lines of undying love
and quiet innuendo
so as to win your heart
(if I haven’t already done so).
And you would open up
your letter box on the Day of Love
to find my note —
written in red-gold, swirling
characters; with tiny
hearts dotting the ‘i’s
and the soft scent of perfume —
and you would smirk
at my immaturity.
And perhaps years from now
I’d be searching through
your desk, looking for
the electric bill, which is
always overdue, and I
would find that poem
and laugh.
And I would read it to you
melodramatically before the fire,
And we’d remember it all.

February 2005

© Charlie Pevensie

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by s. morgenstern; chapter one

he picked her up and settled her in the saddle
and they rode away on four white horses:
past the castle walls and up and out,
onto a hill in the setting sun:
kissing, laughing,
that’s bullshit, I thought.
that doesn’t happen.
even in my six or seven years of life,
messy hair, messy shorts,
my innocence, my Kool-aid covered mouth,
even then I knew.
even while my best friend was sighing and singing,
‘can’t you just wait, sister? can’t you just die?’,
even then I knew.
there aren’t horses in real life,
not pretty white ones,
stamping hooves, shaking manes,
no horses to ride off majestic.
there aren’t castles to be rescued from,
evil princes driving away true loves.
there are pirates and giants,
pits of despair,
but true love doesn’t walk up and slap you on the back,
pull you into its arms,
sing you to sleep.
not in the Midwest.
you can find a cutie for a one-night fuck.
you can get married with your white picket fence.
you can have the dog and the little kids…
you can be comfortable in your life.
but the divorce rate is climbing
and the violence is growing
and sometimes it’s best just to hide.
so I hid.
and I hid.
for months and years at a time
up in the castle of my mind.
until I met you
with your white horse and your dark black mask.
and you smiled at me and told me to hope
hope for it
for you
for the evil princes and the castles and the hills,
feel that strange connection, that desire to just
just be
just be with me
and now I’m waiting for the sunset that’s never going to come
and that summer home in the fire swamp.
and despite the evil princes who keep rearing their ugly heads —
some uglier than others, I’ll willingly admit —
I still think there’s a Spaniard with a father to avenge
sooner or later,
he’s going to pull you back to my prison
my false marriage to a false love,
my despair.
you’ll come find me in my bed chamber,
and pull the knife from my breast.
and we’ll hop on your horse and off we’ll go,
just like my best friend told me so.
and when we finally get to our hilltop,
when we’re finally alone,
the kiss we’ll have will never end.
and maybe then I’ll know.

4 April 2007

© Charlie Pevensie

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{your skin is down}

Your skin is down
Insulating you from the elements
………..Insulating me from the world,
…………………From wrongs,
…………………………..From things I want to forget but can’t,
……………………………………..I’ve tried, G-d help me they’re there
But not with you
Not when you look at me
…………Touch me
…………………..Offer a smile
Not when those words pop up again
……….Words I think constantly but can’t say
………………….Won’t say
Will you say them too?
Like you’ve said so many things?
I think I do
Me too
I think I will
Sweet Christ, I will!
Not yet no
Slow take it slow
You’ve got to make the moment last, just–
Those things fade
…………Fade with your laugh like dew
……………………………………………………………………….And sunrise
Metaphors are all I have to offer
At least when those words stay pinned
Pinned underneath you
………..Bubbling up as I watch your face
………………….Blushing face
…………………………..Brows furrowed
……………………………………Eyes lidded
…………………………………………….Lips parted
I think
This is it
I’m in Heaven
Running with you
So fast they can’t see us
…………………………………………………………………………………………………….Catch us
Stop what’s happening
So fast they won’t hear my words
So you can say them back:
……Kiss me again
………………Hold me
……………………………………Fill my insides with your sentiments
No voyeurs here
Not tucked between us
……………………In the clouds
Behind the Gate
………………….Not again
……………………………’Cause when we passed by St Peter a minute ago,
…………………………………………His smile was so perverted.

20 May 2006

© Charlie Pevensie

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