Backyard tag in humid twilight, slipping into safety, muddy toes, future scars on our knees, howling at the moon. Collapsing in belly laughs atop wet grass connecting the bright dots into people we knew. Being in love with being young.
Searching for worms under garden bricks to feed our pet store turtles. Drawing chalk lines round our fingertips, leaving our impression until sprinkler run-off washes our aspirations into the sewer. We sailed oil rainbows on mini ships. Being engulfed in summer rain to cool our steam. Remembering the terror of that homicidal clown-spider “It” and avoiding all gutter drains. Being scared of the unknown abyss. Being remiss to ever go in.
Candy cigs hanging on our lips. Tough like real street kids stealing nickels from our parent’s hidden drawers to buy more Slurpees and Bubblicious bubble gum; the kind with all the swirls that tastes like a carnival. The boys discovering Daddy’s hidden porn. Hyper speed on our rollerblades and bikes tearing up pavement. Racing to get back out after our roast chicken and potatoes to finish playing Indians in the ditch taunting the weak to fall in the septic system creek. Water never ran clear. Neighborhood strays followed us everywhere we went. Leaders of the pack. Spent all summer seeking solace in shadows hiding from the house.
Often, we pondered what would come of us when we grew up and returned to see the tags we left, the forts we built out of fallen limbs and twigs from the trees we claimed. Can gumption stand the test of time? We were brave enough to spit in wind and curse out bullies with sticky fists when they weren’t that big and we had each other to form a shield.
Alone we always come back to taste a pinch of the past. Approach the drain to face It. Those streets still smell of future schemes and melted Skittles. Those streets still sweat in summer heat, the ghosts of blistered feet chasing dreams. Whispers in the breeze sing amazing future plans. Impractical things, plans never made sense. Face the sun and hope for a good day. Together we took to the scorching streets planning our escape, blowing dreams in bubbles through our teeth.
I must have swallowed something nasty; some expired culpability that tasted like rotting grain covered in soy sauce and curry to disguise the odor. Smelled the container, reeked of sickness; an animal that had ruptured an important part of its organism and was now sort of flailing in its misery but wasn’t dead yet. I eventually threw it out but I knew that’s not how this works. I knew there was some payback for refusing to waste even the worst of things.
Vibrating nails scratching the toilet seat. Retching violently. My throat is giving birth to a Florida summer storm. The kind that takes whole neighborhoods hostage and leaves the dismayed picking through the remains to find their family albums while their babies are holding an empty leash and finally understanding their environment’s severity. Enemy gaining ground, mocking my insistence on hoarding everything even when it could kill me. Maybe some things are better left untouched. Undignified, naked and panting, regretting everything, all my life choices up to this moment. My mother was nowhere to be found in this un-agreeable town. My cries sound like a mourning monster yelling for its young that some men in black suits discovered. She has yet to be found.
My body is a raincloud over some other lucky town. My tongue is the crop dying of drought. Cold and hot all at once. Sweat and shivers, slimy,salty goose bumps dancing over pallid skin. This must be the climate of hell. Yes, this must be hell that I’m in. Bruises on my palms from clutching the porcelain like a steering wheel in an attempt to control a homicidal bus trying to avoid any further accidents.
I questioned hospitalization just til the bad stuff passed. I remembered when I sat with stale coffee watching your heart rate on the screen in ICU. I kept asking the on-duty questions. Studious little sister. Your agony and yellow skin, protruding abdomen, your Vaseline covered eyelids to keep them moist in your dying silence. The hurt you kept in because you couldn’t make a sound. My cries sound like a bratty toddler who lost her favorite plaything and best friend all before naptime.
All your hurt coming out of me.
Cursing Jesus and other awful things for taking you at your most willing, your most desperate, your most vulnerable. My stomach feels like a civil war and no one really wins. Massacre at Gastric Acid Hill. My leftovers have taken a stance in the middle of my intestinal tract and they have decided to turn back.
You waved the white flag on the battlefield too late. Your body is ash on a pedestal preserved for us to gawk at during an uncomfortable wake. My body is your shooting ground back firing its own mistakes.
My cries sound like your insides spilling out. Noises that your feeble body couldn’t make. My belly fighting the battle you refused to wage.
You went to the pond to feed the water fowl even though it’s not allowed. You wanted a new disillusioned mother duck. Steal from her ducklings so you can get a good pluck in before you abandon her the same time her babies learn to swim. Wrap your torso in the warmth of her wings. You need to warm up before you take off. She’ll transform you , teach you how to fly. She’ll nurture your progress, let you grow feathers before her doubting eyes.
But she won’t let you go either. Fingers are stretched, ready for departure. Ready to discover new ponds, a new nesting ground. Want to try those wings out. She’ll wrap her wings tighter. She nursed you, you’re her baby and her ducklings have tired of her pecking. You are her one remaining child. These mother ducks are all over disguised as professional cuddlers waiting their turn, waiting to smother.
Can’t leave now. She’ll try to drown you. Press her wings hard on your head. Dunk you lower and lower til your feet stick to the mud and you’re stuck blowing bubbles out of your nostrils suddenly forgetting how to breathe. Nothing floats down there. Only the fish and microbes and disease and other creepy crawly scary things that scavenge for particles of flesh for feed know how to breathe.
They hate to cuddle, they love to eat. Gain a legion of leeches, suckling your perfect prince skin. They also like to peck on rich white bread and your lifeless body fits the bill. Devouring you beneath mama duck’s feet while she searches for a new baby boy to teach how to swim.
She wants to go to Denver to suck off the wedding ring of a gentle fellow out celebrating a Tuesday with his other ball and chain chums. Take him to the alley bathroom where there is more privacy. She tiptoes over puddles. Those shoes are from the thrift store but they make her appear taller; make her legs look longer like a gazelles before they are some hungry kitty’s chew toy. She always wears them when she wants a boy. He has hypnotizing green eyes and one kid at home, a Subaru out front and a small stock portfolio. He’s still wearing his work clothes. Blue button up and a shit eating grin. He works somewhere downtown brainstorming ways to brainwash the public into buying more environmentally friendly paper products from his environmentally destructive company. She is his environmentally incompatible plastic chew toy. She is the forest he will destroy.
She wants to run a marathon. She wants to sweat out all her unrequited love on a course in Orange County where the backdrop is stunning and the weather is perfect for chasing dreams on concrete. B y the end of her training she could serve brunch on her stomach and her legs are cut like the canyons she deserted to find better scenery. She wants to be admired in her spandex shorts by the little runner boys that she wouldn’t dare approach. She wants to make great distance.
She wants to start her own bakery so other mourning mistresses have a quiet place to go to chew on their feelings in solemnity. She can barely cook an egg but she heard it’s a good way to get discounts on chocolate and other girly things. She’ll name it something weird like “Saccharin Solution” and it will attract the hipster crowd who are kinda into that sort of stuff and they want to see what this new place is all about. It will be popular for less than an hour because she really can’t bake and a new bar just opened up right next door to her. They have $5 dollar wings and $1 PBR. True sullen girls would rather chew on that with their hand rolled cigarettes. She wants to be disappointed into new justifications that she is no good at things like this. She wants to fail again.
She wants to spend the whole summer holed up in her one bedroom spewing out sonnets and sickening hate notes. Eyes sore from late nights scouring the internet for better adjectives to paint her domestic travesty than she could ever pull out of her public school vocabulary. She wants to be crippled with carpal tunnel by the time the leaves start to change in September. She wants to write his effigy so critics can dissect and burn his character defects. Cheer her, jeer him. She wants to be discovered as a brilliant recluse who doesn’t deserve to take on this misery alone. She wants to remind him of his part.
She’s gotta do something to stop herself from pressing her ex-boy’s switchblade to her veins and guzzling glass after glass of 7-11 Cabernet. She stole that blade from him to cuddle with at night when she thought he might leave her a forgotten fuck toy on her hardwood floor, broken in half like an aging girl’s discarded Barbie doll left for the dog to discover. She’ll sit in her daydreams, legs crossed, on her queen-sized bed too big for her now in placid twilight creating worlds where she is needed, men by whom she is wanted.
This lethargy will leave her if she could just come up with a plan. If she could just get some sleep. If she could just remember the names of the islands she always thought she could explore.
If she could just, if she could just quiet her head.
I want you crawling in pestilence. Disease festering infection. One hundred pounds of shriveled shit and regret for sticking your dick in every girl with an exotic name or pseudo-punk princess with a pierced lip and no boundaries. Your favorite countries to explore. Your tongue used for spitting nonsense all dry from the thrush instead of dripping in lust. You can’t taste anything but your unwavering remorse. Chewed up antibodies like a squeaky toy. Clusters of tumors stuck on your brain like barnacles on the lower deck of an untended ship. You loved taking off in the Pacific on your friends’ parents yachts. Your only protection now is God but since your God is lying limp dick covered in lesions on a hospital bed in San Fran, I guess you’re really better off dead.
I’ll buy two tickets. I’ll bring my daughter. Show her the skeleton of the guy I once loved. The guy I once ran to that my daughter will run from. Don’t scream babydoll. Pus and blood seeping from open sores in your skin. The parts that should be left in dripping out like my feelings years before when you told me you could never be a father. When you told me my insecurities were too much of a problem and you couldn’t help flirting. Do you flirt with your nurses? When they wipe the crust from your eyes do you tell them you love them and you promise to stay even when the rough has gotten going? They better get going. They got other patients, and quite frankly, they find you repulsive.
I always come back.
People make their beds. Enjoy the bad reception on your cable TV, the infection has spread an d you can’t close your eyelids. Advertisements for Tide and the state of the economy on CNN; that’s all you can see. You can’t move your wrist to shut off the thing. And barnacles wrap your synapses; it’s too painful too think. Your mouth is so dry like a New Mexico summer where you spent a whole season high trying every dime that walked by. It’s too tiring to drink.
Take a look at your world. Take a look at my girl. I used to be your girl. You had to see the world. You once told me “I’m young, I have my whole life ahead of me.” That was ten years ago and there’s no one home to pick out your gravestone.
You had to see the world. The world ate your body and the women you loved.
Monsters masquerading as puppets parading. The streets are a stage. The streets are on fire. The streets run scarlet when you turn down the blinds. Puppets love violence.
Veneers hide virulence. They sure got style. Victims got a penchant to perpetrate their peers, slaughter on the sly. Victims love crime.
Not naming no names but dysthmic dames play dangerous games with their own mortality. They love to make em cry. These dames sure love dying.
This blood on the pavement, someone’s gotta explain it. Someone must be reported and shamed. Puppets can’t sympathize. They just skirt the blame. Puppets stay quiet.
These puppets they fierce they need to be feared. These puppets throw riots. Their monsters are fed under the table to stay quiet. These puppets ain’t real. Monsters got the strings and they must be revered.
Monsters masquerade as a puppet parade. The greatest charade. The greatest trick the devil did was convincing the world he didn’t exist. The great marronnier and the puppets are his.
Take this space to invade your brain with someone else’s thoughts, someone else’s light waves, someone else’s walk. You spend the whole day immersed in your talk but I bet your mouth could close shut if you had to take an afternoon stroll in ankle boots fashioned impractical all they do is bind toes. But they match her binding clothes.
Have you admired the sun from behind her inked eyelashes? There is no one else who can feel the heat on her shoulders burning her scapula with their indiscretion. Those gorgeous rays illuminate some pretty shady spots depending on the time of day and depending on the spot. She prays for rain, her skins feels like orange coals steaming when the water comes.
You nourish your body with the prejudice you covet and fear it’s eating the compassion you stole from her. She walks like judgment, robe and gavel. You proved that man is cowardly. You’ll perish before you admit fault.
She prays for rain to wash down the rocks you told her to kick that she chose to swallow. They go down nicer than ego. She’ll choke before she’ll swallow. You can nourish your body with her rotten death. You can eat her thoughts. You can wrap yourself in her corpse so you can walk her walk.
We’ll starve before we swallow our pride. We’ll die before we talk.
On Martin Luther King Day where do the unfortunate stay?
I pass them on my work commute en route to help foster independence with some elder who broke a hip and could care less that I have a degree in Psychology as long as I can work a dustpan and make a sandwich. They pass a joint, I pass my judgment.
Huddled masses gather under tree branches, a moth-munched cotton sheet hanging from the limbs to protect their sensitive appendages against the sleet and snow singlehandedly. It’s Colorado winter, they must be tripping if they think that makeshift tent would even protect them from a post-shower branch drip.
As I bike past, I hear someone in the distance go: “The library is closed, all the homeless must go home!” Tramps pushed out of their temporary camps; droves of ponchos and knit caps that reek of hooch and bud stomp out the courtyard. Make their way toward Civic Park to take the bus to town. Scowls like Jack O’Lanterns cut deep in their liplines to frighten children out with their parents on their grown up rounds.
Where do they expect them to go? Isn’t today about social justice? About reverie for one of the most compassionate reverends to ever grace us with his presence? Must be hard for them to celebrate when they can’t even hang at the library to research one of their greatest advocates. When they can’t even trust us. When they can’t even ride the bus more than once without proper fare.
Curmudgeons on a budget, they can only ride one time and then it’s “end of the line!” They’re not even going anywhere just hiding from the snow and little college coeds dance right by them hands full of hot cocoa and iPhones pretending not to notice that one of the bums just spit his dead tooth on the floor.
Do they exist solely to subsist? To show us how it’s fought. Show us how it’s really done. Remind us that technology is great we can stay up late posting pictures of battered gays and casualties of war on our micro-blogs we so proudly prune to lure strangers to us to adore our typed words. Where we discuss how the influence of Eastern philosophy, the teachings of Rumi, have turned savages into sympathizers but we still have so much work to do. We love to pontificate the causes of poverty and obesity and all that’s in between with other middle class nobodies. Nobodies who never done nothing but think about life without ever setting foot in it.
But this right here is in your backyard. Write this down, this is art. Real life militia built from grit and shit, programmed to endure using shopping center garden stones to sharpen their sordid swords. Veterans of change imploring each other to start a war to prove which soldier’s still got enough wine and piss to truly survive the apocalypse. Bundled in found down-feather jackets their feeding is erratic and sleeping sporadic. Each lone soldier resigned to a life that is highly nomadic.
But how awfully romantic.
How do they not freeze? Here I am, double tights over my knees buckling below chattering teeth. Sweaters got the thickest sleeves and still I produce no body heat. My shivers beg for sympathy.
There they stand, three cuddling grown men under a shared afghan swapping stories and Marlboro shorts, rabble-rousers perfecting their retorts and relaying the day’s report about which restaurants waste what and which street corner is up careful never to reveal how much booze they still got.
When they settle down for their wine-infused sleep of what life do they dream? They must dream of endless possibility. They are the only folks I know not already drowning in everything they need. Mornings must be bittersweet when they scurry to their feet to meet their primal needs knowing if all else fails they will soon have the solace of a drunkards’ sleep where in dreams they can be just as comfortable as me.
But do they even want that? I mean, do they even dream?
Once they meet their needs there is truly nothing left to seek. Every reader knows the best stories are about big dreams and overcoming some damned defeat like King said in his famous speech. Maybe they only dream when they sleep. Perhaps safely arriving to their drunkards den at dusk is their greatest feat where they can rest their feet and attempt to just be.
Maybe they dream of nothing in life that looks like me. Maybe it is only King who had a dream. Maybe they want to be left alone in their tents with their struggles and their whisky. Maybe it is only those who know nothing of life that spend their time concocting elaborate schemes in an effort to realize their dreams.
“Stop looking for your purpose - simply walk the path of self-discovery: Heal your old wounds, dissolve your false beliefs, uncover what you enjoy most in life and simply follow the voice of your intuition. Your purpose will reveal itself simply by following your inner guidance without the confusing filters of limitations that are caused by stories you tell yourself and others. Once you clear your mind of self-imposed limitations, you will hear your purpose speak to you through your dreams and desires.”—Nanice Ellis (via ray-a-light)
You’re on some journey you read about on an internet forum. Everyone suggested you check out the beauty of the Mediterranean before those insurgents and recessions crept in and crumbled its beauty with bombs and bank riots. Or how about California? Where you can be a star. Bodies like Bo Derek before she retired. Or Germany where you can perfect your Deutsch and break veg to eat sausage and drink amber stout with real life St. Pauli dames. Those girls crave obedience and have the same cracked brains that led Hitler’s youth on their short terror reign. They just love a boy to bark orders at them when their bent over backwards just taking it in.
You thought about Asia where throngs of gamer girls dressed in attire too young to be worn in America will admire your Starcraft skills. They adore the mediocre. Can you imagine grabbing those pigtails and pounding your own heroine straight out of an Anime film? Your dream of dominance will be actualized. Make sure you tell them on Reddit. “I fucked an Asian girl, AMA.” Was it worth it? You answer: You betcha.
You say, “I’m young, I’m pretty. Able-bodied and ready. I better go.” How do you think these travelers look when they return home? Better check the internet. Haggard and old. Used. A century from their youth. Skin rough like an old washcloth. Cell oxidation three thousand times what a good health care system provides. Free radicals dying from their own radical freedom. They picked up bowel diseases from eating unsanitary cuisine while they ogled the local women who cursed them with water never meant to satisfy thirst. Those travelers roam hungry. You set foot in foreign territory, you’ll be dead before dawn.
Good luck traveling the world pining for a cure you’ll never find. A girl you’ll never like. Me, I’m here writing my feelings; embracing the silence in soft yellow lighting imagining some curdling bacteria feasting on your insides until you hurl out your organs and leave your seeds orphans.
I like my endings to be violent. If I write you in stories, our story won’t die. Your character might one thousand times in the bloodiest fantasies that my fucked mind can devise. Guts and brains splattered on bathtub tile. Intestines like an orgy of worms participating in underground porn. Suicide when it suits the mood. When I imagine you crying in a dark pub in London because no one understands you and all the bud is gone. Killing you myself is more my style. Killing you with words is a career I aspire to.
But our story will live and you’ll read it in the quiet when the scene has shut down and you try meditation for the fiftieth time and you remember you love me and you want to see how I write you.
I write you so honestly. I want the world to despise you.
We war real well. We really bring it home. We bring out the fists and past lovers just to begin. We like to reminisce each other’s best sins. A little aggy appetizer size each other up for starters before we finish with our go-fuck -yourself cake.
You always accuse me of sleeping with her before I even walk in with some little, some little pointed text, like:
Why is she always commenting on your Facebook posts? She straight stays on your page.
But, like, aren’t you always on my page? You’re always on my case about it. I tell her: Look, I just got paid and you’ve already spent one month’s rent in your weight on vintage skirts and dresses and period stationary for your period printing press. And all these books of poetry. Just rent ‘em from the library. You read em once and then you stow em away indefinitely.
Now the skirt she’s hemming is on the floor; one month’s rent in taupe cotton fabric just crumpled up, defeated , in the kitchen corner like a scared little girl running from her daddy when he’s waging domestic war. And she’s sobbing, all hysterical all theatrical, screaming:
Why can’t you understand me? Why don’t you leave me then?
I’m waiting for her to tell me she’s pregnant. That’s her favorite sympathy trap and I always, almost always, fall for it. One time she even had me picking out burp cloths with little yellow ducks round the edges so when our baby Jerome spit his dinner up we at least had something cute and tasteful to clean the mess up with.
Please, don’t baby me.
Don’t baby-trap me, baby. Please.
Then we really feast. It’s family Thanksgiving; the kind that really traumatizes all the young cousins. Years to come when they are basting their 20lb turkey for their own unruly ones they’ll remember drunk Uncle Billy telling everyone he’s three-hundred K in debt and no one gives a fuck! and we can all go to hell! Aunt Leah storming out the house declaring Billy a no-good lazy louse in tears; a wailing, agonizing sound escaping from her pretty, puritan mouth. “I would never do that to him! I would never do that!” Dad trying to push Billy out the den so he could watch the game in peace. No one got seconds. No one got pie. Not one lousy piece.
Don’t talk to me like I’m your daughter. I’m your equal.
(Pass the potatoes.)
Well what happened to the counseling? You were doing so well.
(Pass the cranberry sauce.)
You’re always saying shit like that.
(Pass the wine.)
Well, you’re drinking a lot more tonight.
(Pass the judgment , then the buck, to the left, then the right.)
You make me do this! You make me act out!
For dessert: a slice of cherry cheesecake and a whole bottle of Spanish port and another round of sneering, seething, hit-you-where-it-hurts retorts. My baby’s mouth all smothered in red; she never starves her insanity. Antelope’s blood on a wildcat’s fur: she gotta hunt and kill to keep her baby cub fed. To keep her cup filled.
You’re so fucking smart how come you work that dead end job?! Huh?! You work in a world with no windows and a million filing drawers!!
Baby, calm down, you’re drunk and coming undone. How come I’m working and you’re here making words, sipping bubbly? You’re just living for fun. And when you gonna publish all them books you done wrote? Where are those books? You even write em, I hope.
Straight to the throat.
My baby’s mad, her gaze heats like fire. No water wings, her body drowning in ire. She aims for my head, the goblet flies past; a thousand shattered pieces of thrift store crystal strewn about this section 7 1/2 floor. We almost section 8 but I still work, we got a little computer and some furniture, a nice nest to argue. We ain’t that poor.
She’s in a fucking uproar. She stomps over, starving, mama’s sights set on a baby giraffe. Her paws only graze the tiny pieces of glass; legs like a lioness made to pirouette to violence. I see the veins in her head poppin-out purple and her pores pouring sweat. Finger pointed like a glock in my face. Declarations written in red meant to disgrace.
Motherfucker, you trippin if you think you can talk to me like that. I’m the only reason you’re alive, not in jail. I’m the reason you’re here.
She’s screaming right in my ear, fragrance of tonight’s three dollar fish and fortified wine fills the air. What I mostly smell is fear. I grab her by the wrists and slam her on the couch. The one we found on the side of the road back when I had the truck with the hitch where we could tow it. We were so happy we finally had a place to sit and collect ourselves. Before the truck was repoed. Before we were living in dread dodging trucks that look like they gonna steal all our things. Ignoring ringtones set special for those that remind us of overdue bills. On this couch we mostly sit and collect debt.
Listen, bitch, I can’t take this shit no more.
(My hands on her chest.)
You’re hurting me, Rog!
(Her hands round my wrists.)
Good! Don’t let the neighbors here you, k? You gonna calm down?! You wanna stay laid out like a Nigerian bitch in the jungle heat all day?! I’m the man, bitch, remember your place!
She hisses “fuck you” like a good jungle snake and spits her virulence flat in my face. Purple, vile drool drizzling out her teeth. My baby’s brain juice dribbles down my cheek Smells like mean spirit and blackberry peach. I grab her neck. Like Dad, I have to fucking beg for peace.
You always so crazy and difficult, you know that?
Just a choked spurt of air slips from her lips that I take as a yes.
I wanna let you go, my love, but you be talking all that shit all the time. You think I owe you? Motherfucker, I don’t owe you a dime.
Her eyes are a mirror. I see my peeking canines in her brown irises. Bite my lip so hard blood spurts out. I taste the copper, she takes the heat. My baby’s pupils wide and terrified like Midwesterners discovering a flying saucer sailing over their front yard while stargazing the night sky. Her soul stands with them: petrified.
Would you like to breathe?
A mixture of tears and sweat run from wide eyes to chin. If she could nod, I bet she’d comply. A muted mime, all she can do is lift her eyebrows to reply.
Ok, baby, I’m sorry. You know I can lose it sometimes.
Loosen my grip and gently stroke her broken throat. Her skin is speckled with bruises, black and peach. She’ll need to put make up on it, a little tan and brown rouge. High collars for a while, new hairstyle, maybe even a brush on the throat with the curling iron so she doesn’t get that feminist eye when she struts by in sunglasses even though it’s night and she’s inside. She loves dressing to the nines, the bruise just an excuse to be admired.
I kiss her cracked lips. Sweet fruit polished with booze. My baby, she loves me so much. I’m her man. Her warrior. We duke it out but I never lose. We share sweat on that couch. My baby sweats her anger out. Smells like sweet strawberry fruit infused with blackberry booze. She undresses herself, real smooth. Unbuttons the blouse, unties the skirt. Hands grip her spine, unbridled and wild, I lick her wounds to show my remorse. Like a good jungle ride, she devours my manhood between her thick thighs. She always makes sure I get mine first. Long as she stays soaked in that good jungle juice, I never lose.
We really get it on. My baby and me. When we love, we roar. When we mad, we war. We real jungle. We real free. We really soar. My baby and me. We war real well.