Words From Web
February 23, 2023 / SPARK Web No. 20
An ongoing journal from the Web department.
February 23, 2023
TIME RUNS OUT
My eyes can’t rest even when I'm asleep. they shift back and forth without my permission — conjuring up images projected on my eyelids. Each shift of my eyes is like the ticking of a clock — tick, tock. Left, right. As if each dream which crawls its way into my mind, each thought which sets up residence in my brain, is yet another reminder of limited time.
Time is everywhere. Time doesn’t exist, sillies. We’re in nirvana and samsara. It's not linear, at least — we’re everywhere experiencing everything at once and it’s just an illusion that your eyes are the lens and this is the moment. An oculus rift that only I can perceive. My eyes are the roots of all illusionment and like a man stranded in the desert, I dream up a mirage out of desperation and lay there until I fade in hunger and exhaustion.
Our bodies are so funny for jolting us awake right when we are about to sleep. “Hello! Hey you! Don’t fade away on me, I’m here!” I’m gasping for something that isn’t real. I’m a puppet to my subconscious. How do I tell you that I can't ever forget you? Why do you need to keep haunting me in the safety of my solitude?
Sometimes when I sleep too deep and fall too hard I think about what could’ve been, or maybe what we could’ve done differently? I remember the air knocked out of my chest when I wake, the Sahara that is my throat. A glass of water relieves only the burning on the surface, soothes only the pain when I swallow, not the glass shards which dissolved deeper into my bloodstream with each beat of my trembling, terrified heart.
I miss you with each beat, each systole and diastole. I miss you with each breath, stabbing in my chest as air fills the space you left. I feel like a fish outside of the water. I am becoming extinct.
Your eyes racing back and forth, immobile arms somewhere far away pumping
perhaps chasing, perhaps being chased.
A scream trapped in an unconscious throat which can not be released in reality,
sweat beading at a brow furrowed, then un-furrowed.
Running through sand at the bottom of the ocean,
futile fighting to keep from drowning –
The tide sweeps over the levee. Only those of us with the most reptilian brains survive.
I’m awake (I think?) in the back of an Uber. I think? Holy fuck. Who’s driving me? Where am I? My eyelids are heavy. I’m tempted to go back under, to be saved by the pure depths of the water. Maybe I will adapt and learn to breathe in the water that threatens to drown me. I have no choice but to adapt, quickly! Am I home already? My head is nauseated and I might throw up. I really don’t want that $200 charge on my card. I stumble out into the street in a place that looks foreign to me. Was this where I intended to go? My feet pull in one direction then another, eternally undecided on where home is. Where is home? What is home? Is it close to them or to you? Time slows down.
I started floating — up up up. And fall flat on my face on the concrete below me. I’m alone, I thought. Until I’m yanked out of my misery which is the apartment lobby toilet.
The dream world is just as real as the waking world; we just can’t remember it consciously. I think our bodies do, though. Subconsciously, I think we process our deepest fears and wants through our dreams. Nietzche wrote a whole thing about it. Or was it Freud? It doesn’t really matter now. The only thing that’s important to me is seeing you when I close my eyes. You are my biggest fear and my deepest desire all wrapped up in one. It is in these moments when I feel I can walk on water, without a fear of sinking, the darkness swallowing me whole. But I must let it engulf me, for that it is the only way I can learn to fight. I must give in to the darkness for once.
I'm stumbling through the pulsating walls of my apartment. they twist and fade into darkness.
The floor trembles, lurches, rolls beneath my unsteady feet. Where is up and where is down?
The corners of my vision narrow,
the vocabulary word suddenly emerges from the depths of my memory,
and yet I can only rock on unsteady feet, arms reaching out senselessly for an unreachable balance, lost.
I collapse onto the cold tile.
I see a million helpless legs twitching out my body. I am a centipede and Kafka doesn't even know me. I'm no longer human; I'm something else. I'm fading. I’m fading. I’m… not gone yet. Was it just a dream or an intuition? I can't decipher the code before I fade into oblivion — become the air around me. I found myself falling down a black hole of despair. Yet, unlike Alice, I don't find myself in wonderland. The paradise I desired was nothing but a cold yet fiery hell.
When I land, I find myself in the Galapagos Islands. I'm sipping tea with Vonnegut and sharing a slice of pie with the largest tortoises that ever existed. I'm completely alone, but I am not lost. I blink again and I'm 73 on a balcony in the city smoking.
I feel worms crawling out of the arteries in my eyes, reaching the black holes of my dilating pupils. They sense the rot. They smell it. I can never escape him. Some theorists say that death is an angel. I have seen him, in my dreams, and I can say for sure that he is not. He’s not a devil either. He just exists on my plane of consciousness. He is an extension of my own thoughts. My reflection and my foil character. He is an extension of my own reality. Is this who I am?
My mind is what I can’t escape. It is the creator of my reality both the good and the ugly. It is the instrument of my demise as much as it is my biggest pride. I thought I could do anything until I remembered the limits of my mind. I thought I could do nothing until I remembered the capabilities of my mind. I can do anything until I wake up. I confront the creature, and it looks like me. Well, not exactly. I want to say it has glowing red eyes or snakes for hair, but she looks normal. Almost too normal. Hair unwashed, eyes circled in purple, three-day-old hoodie wrinkled. She looks at me, no, through me, and I'm struck with the feeling to turn and run, to reject this being who is wholly me, yet can’t be, I don't want her to be. Who am I? Who is she? Which of us is real, and which one is from a dream?
— Katlynn Fox, Ellen Daly, Sonali Menon, Safiyya Haider, Hafsa Haider, Jane Krauss, Gracie Warhurst, Annie Kim, Anagha Rao, Pebbles Moomau, & Candice Chepda
February 17, 2023
For some reason I have a very vivid memory of going through a garden maze when I was younger. Did this stem from a dream? Was it real? Is this a false memory? All I remember is that it was dark and the turns were sharp and the vines on the floor were threatening to wrap themselves around my ankle and keep me trapped until i’m one with the soil. I guess that was my first exposure to the labyrinth.
Now that I'm older, now that the memories return daily, the only thing I have left is fear. When will it come back?
I still remember the moment the lines first began to form, left and right and up and down. They’ve been growing longer ever since. I don’t know when they will end or where they are going. There are so many now that I can hardly see. I can hardly tell them apart from each other. The space I occupy gets smaller and smaller and all I can do is watch. Will they one day consume me? The walls are closing in and my throat tightens. I can’t breathe. My senses are stripped bare like my skin. Naked exposed to the ground.
I can't find my way out. I look both ways and yet I'm still struck by a feeling of despair. Directions are meaningless. It’s a liminal space to its truest extent. I should know the way… why don’t I know the way? Like Hansel and Gretel following the breadcrumbs, they thought they knew but they didn’t. They thought there was a way out but there wasn’t. It was just an illusion, they had entered someplace even more sinister. Will I face a similar fate?
Living life in the labyrinth I created has killed almost every part of me. There’s nothing that escapes the confines of my brain after I ingest the thought. My mind is a maze and I channel the inner workings of Icarus. I have struck the sun and now my body is aflame. The Minotaur comes after me now. Heavy stomps making its way through the maze without a regard for the true path. Unlike me, who has no choice but to find the prescribed path. Is that what we all think? That we’re stuck in this labyrinth, this predetermined maze? Is the feeling of being trapped the trap itself? Maybe we’re simply meant to explore right where we are. Maybe there is nothing else, nowhere to run to, nothing to run from.
— Katlynn Fox, Sonali Menon, Ellen Daly, Gracie Warhurst, Hafsa Haider, & Sonia Siddiqui
February 9, 2023
When I’m with you, I transcend to the aether. Self-annihilation has a special kind of spiritual beauty. I no longer have to think, to feel, to be a person of my own. I don't have to know what I like or what I want. I am whoever you want me to be. I love what you love and I hate what you hate. My soul is a mirror yet I am like a vampiric figure haunting your reflective soul but never seeing myself in your eyes. I want to see. I want to see myself in them to know I'm real. To know that I exist. I look and look and look and there's nothing. Maybe your eyes are the aether. Blue or brown, it doesn't matter. All I see is white light drawing me in like a siren with the most beautiful song. Let me take you along. For parting is such sweet sorrow, oh tomorrow, tomorrow what will you bring? Nothing I know, so let me sing! Sing with vampires. and then we will feast like we need to. The desire is too strong and I can't protect you from this place that I've brought you to.
In every pair of eyes we see an aether. Our minds are aether, our souls are aether. We as humans are motionless, timeless, purposeless. We are the temporal experience. Condemned to being ephemeral, the only constant is change.
When we live online, do we live in the aether? My dreams are made of pixels and I feel immortal. My heart is my digital footprint and it beats for likes on a post and comments about my life. I love to be perceived. I love to live eternally in my home online.
The Internet is my aether. It was where the aether originated because that’s where I googled it. My persona online is that of my ideal identity, a polished, perfect version of a self I barely recognize. Google me and you will see the aether I have constructed for myself. You will see the world, my world, but you will never reach it. For it is the kingdom I have built, and no one else will ever be welcome in it.
Maybe the aether is within me,
Jumping around and doing
Somersaults in my stomach.
It’s unsettling and exciting.
She’s waiting around the corner for me.
Or maybe it’s jumping rope in the alley,
Spinning round and round
With sickening dissonance.
Tying itself around my neck.
Death is so sweet.
Aether, a force from the sky.
An abstract science from a different time.
I wonder if life was easier back then… they seemed to have answers to everything. They seemed a little less in this chaos of the cosmos.
Perhaps, this divinity guided them like a compass guides the lonely sailor lost at sea. Perhaps, they are this divinity.
For isn’t life itself an act of divine intervention?
What miracles possess the mechanical beating of our hearts to love?
Maybe the heavens are not for us.
What is heaven? Will it be there when our time has come?
What would it look like what would it smell like what would it taste like?
It can't be heaven if I can't feel.
I need to see I need to hear I need to touch.
I can't live in the unknown and the uncertain.
I crave concrete answers.
Will it live up to my expectations?
— Katlynn Fox, Nysa Dharan, Anagha Rao, Annie Kim, Safiyya Haider, Sonali Menon, Gracie Warhurst, Sophia Lowe, Candice Chepda, & Ellen Daly
February 2, 2023
bliss is to kiss! to miss! to… it’s to….
it’s when you tan in the sun, and check for tan lines. it’s eating peanut butter from the jar. and it’s the feeling of warmth after running into someone you know on the street.
bliss to me is a kiwi and smoothie and bliss to me is hot pink and orange.
bliss to me is glitter in my eyes and around my eyes and spilling it my throat. and it’s when i beam and burst and butterfly and.
bliss is to hold them and to be held. and bliss is like a wail of pleasure.
bliss is the summertime and bliss is like a warm coat. bliss is bathing suits and bliss is a vodka sour.
— Pebbles Moomau
Jingle bells tinkle over me as I enter O-Mart. I let out my last shiver. Around me, my peers chatter excitedly about plans to karoake and play hide-and-seek in the dark. Wine bottles and Smirnoff Pink Lemonades clink and fill the checkout line. It’s a Wednesday night, but school getting cancelled has filled students with a newfound bliss, a release from the pressures of class and exams and God-knows-what else we put ourselves through. For these next few days, time stops, and I smile.
— Anagha Rao
we join hands in cruel harmony,
we, the divinities who worship
the midnight sky.
shunning our sister who turned her back
to the moon, the celestial cynthia,
who protected her from the light.
i allow the salt of my tears
to sear my skin,
in quiet defiance to our mother,
and when they let go of my hand,
i reach into the fireand join the girl.
let our fury unfurl
onto a world
who refused to worship the sun,
instead of her.
— Candice Chepda, “finding bliss”
Graphic: Elain Yao