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wine & iron
February brings a leap year this time around. Nothing special, no meaningful way to comment on it.
I remember jokes about how old you'd be compared to others if you were born on February 30th, one birthday for every four you should've had. And calculating your age in dog years – another amazing way to entertain yourself at eight years old. I remember racing across the baseball field, and someone saying they'd gone farther in kilometers.
I've found residence in geeks, I guess. I remember Nils telling me about leptons in 5th grade, bacteria and molecules; the science of geniuses, downgraded.
When did it become so easy to lie? I've probably lied to half of my professors before – about a flat tire delaying arrivals into town, or a family emergency calling me out of town. I've lied to my own parents, as most have – about life and death issues, about who I am at my core, about the questions I am afraid to raise in their presence.
Lying by omission is the easiest. Keeping calm, keeping cool – countenance won't give away minor details left behind. But being found out is the worst. I've almost wasted away to face such a sin.
Mail still makes me feel like a child. Some degree of expectancy, knowing something addressed to "Resident" will be there at the very least, knowing you could walk back up the stairs with something thicker, weightier. Those few seconds before you know, turning the key with a tug, bending down to peek all the way to back shadows. A six days a week game of ‘what's behind the curtain?' A box came today – addressed to Jason, meaning Jordan, meaning me. I've been expecting it – Jordan's cruel game of having me check its delivery status daily to prolong birthday gift intrigue.
A true snow quilt arrives. Nature has doused us with something thick and heavy; she's making us trudge through it up to our knees so that we know spring means emergence from something. She cut the mountains and trees no slack, has them bowing to her, regarding. She buried every path and road, equated all terrain as untouched and tranquil.
This is winter, serene survival. Breath struggles so fierce against Fahrenheit that it paints itself in fog.
We are burrowed in domestic boxes, lamps and heaters buzzing. Nature's licking the window with flakes, wants us to come out and play.
Poker at the Fort. I'll get tips from Nathan and wear my cards on my face; I've learned that sharing a hand with Jordan just makes for lost money and no fun; ante bickering kills a gambling mood quick enough.
Eric's losing dough too. Shame he's not showing more for his money. He's kicking his smoking habits – dope and Camels both. On his way to being a new man, again; maybe it's an annual or bi-annual effort; maybe Abbey's just starting to look more like a daughter and less like a duty that gets passed off to Amy at night.
I'm sorry I've lost you again – in times when I should be able to see your countenance frozen fearful in the snow. I'm sorry for too often choosing to relive our days in listening to songs you'd sing instead of renewing your voice in my ear from time to time. But I guess I've missed you for a long time in that sense. You grew up, bitter instead of buoyant.
I've missed the news, and – good or bad – I shouldn't be getting your heart's printing press issue from Dad's week-old newspaper.
Praying for your health, I await the next headline.
Taber's on healthy weight management food. Diet food for cats. Something seems inherently wrong with it. She's a fucking feline. They have diagrams on the back of the cat food bag too – a picture of an underfed, normal, and overfed cat. Tabs prettily easily matches the hefty one.
But they're not walking down runways, they're not falling over from fast-food heart attacks. So who gives a damn if the self-absorbed little furball packs some extra pounds? Is it an appeal to owner's vanity?
I'm calling Taber "Fat Stuff" for now – just until her hips aren't proportionally the size of mine.
Went to Crystal Magic to get oils for the burner Jordan bought me. Eucalyptus is the only scent he really digs. He hated the amber romance I wore, white musk too. I think one time he even asked "What stinks…?" Talk about a disappointed cringe. I wanted to shower.
It's too hard to get a scent just right, to get something you want your body to smell like, your whole house to smell like. We ended up with lotus blossom and… frangiapani?
Lotus blossom smelled like perfumes my Aunt Theresa would wear. I burn it when I'm not expecting company.
The financial situation grows worse. This place is going to be gone come sometime this summer – probably up for sale in early June or July. I won't have any more money come May – and come May, Jordan will have over half of the money I have left to spend. And he's about to get a job, with any hope.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to stay normal and optimistic about life with only 15 credit hours under my belt for the semester. It's so easy to skip classes, to dismiss this structured education as useless, to find value in rest and dreams.
I ran into Amy from my fiction class. I was jonesing for a cigarette pretty badly, a sociology exam minutes away; the redhead walked up to my rescue. She asked about the end of class, said she missed the last three weeks because of one of the guys in her story, boyfriend character… Abuse and blood and bruises, restraining orders. He got her kicked out of school, cancelled her enrollment.
‘The law's a bitch, protection at a cost…'
‘Nobody won, but I somehow lost…'
I nod with a tender eye, think about my sister, smoke the rest of her cigarette.
Tonight's my power hour. We're heading to the bars, 11:45. I want Long Island specials, have a hankering for the drink since my sister's stories, how she praised it like nepenthe – or so I heard it slip from her mouth.
Charly's is looking dive tonight, cross the street to Maloney's. Right away...
The beats. The beats. The beats. The lights. The douchebags. Ready to drink?
Shot of Jaeger, Long Island. Tequila from Steve. Rum and coke. Girly shot from Lucas's girl. Gin and tonic.
Home now. To the bathroom; make unexpected stop in bathtub, bruised. Sleep – no dreams, just blur.
It's my birthday, and I'm imagining your motorcycle sideswiped with a thrash; your bike skidding across dead black pavement in glorious orange sparks; your body twisted bloody, leg twice broken, fingers and palm gutted to bone.
I wished you dead once, a confession I'll plead the 5th to aloud. I once feared you'd lead to Rae's demise (you have sliced away at her soul, you know). Now I'm praying she doesn't mourn your death with a fatherless child. She cracks easy, breaks like brittle bone.
Ricky, prayers to you too. Lower heart shriveled, we all must offer up our own.
spike & mike. the way the cartoon nipples looked thick like bottle tops, asses upturned to long curling tongue. popping zits; cream on mirror. balloons abusing toddlers, children lynched by their strings. jewish ninja superhero – throwing stars of david like daggers, nazi swine executed. white boy thugs vulnerable and subjugated, cell meat pounded down to prostitutional proficiency; anal retribution. grandpa's balls are hanging out again; bulbous, wrinkled.
man in a big orange cowboy hat, goofy suit – taking seven dollars for a dollar's worth of laughs. not to mention the hefty kid on the street, buying our tickets, pocketing our change.
Nathan barbequed at his new place tonight, a sort of belated birthday bash lacking in the bash. Ribs on the grill, two shelves of Bass in the fridge, and a new set of gold and silver horseshoes to toss around. I think I remember playing before – in a church playground or on vacation near a beach? I only remember the sand and clanking. I teamed up with Kitty, a shemale kind of girl, only having feminine qualities in the baby-skin texture of her face. I don't remember who won, only Modest Mouse streaming out from the window of Nathan's room.
I'm almost certain I'll watch this cat die within 24 hours. Pearl is hurtin', she's hurtin' real bad.
Say her name and she tries to call back like she's always done, but just a squelched breath escapes, a deathbed meow. She's dripping from the face, from every possible opening – eye ducts, nostrils, drooping mouth. But she'd rather suck it all back in and lick the sickness from her whiskers than submit to tissues.
Only vague shadows and flashes of light are creeping through the crust of her eyes now. She can't tell me apart from a door or grim reaper.
another tough phone call, where I stare at the glowing yellow numbers until getting through feels like a code I can't break.
there's a storm waiting on the other end; I prepare to unravel.
"you've changed.. your life isn't right with God anymore.. your mother and I are truly concerned for your salvation.. you have an ungodly relationship with someone who doesn't believe.. are you drinking and doing drugs again?.. everyone's wanted to say something, I'm the only one who will.. I don't even like talking to you, twisting my words like some little lawyer..."
why can't I hang up?
I'm afraid we've become a society of
perverts and chimps. Is it me? We
watch TV like we might learn how to
be human. We see breasts rise and fall
beneath blurred flesh-toned pixels;
something stirs in our private pits,
but who will think of the children?
Who will keep erections at bay?
I've become a fan of laziness, finding
ways to make sitting still engaging.
Will the phone ring in the next ten
minutes? Are there more than five
rubber bands in my desk drawer?
(Check. You must check. How else to
make good on what I've made idle?)
I don't think I'll go outside today, no
I'm comfortable at room temperature
and I can't run into the neighbors –
they'll match face to midnight mouthful.
I'm comfortable at room temperature;
fresh air makes leg hairs prickle tortured.
They'll match face to midnight mouthful;
I'm only audible by moonlight, blackness.
Fresh air makes me prickle tortured,
stranger's alien eyes tickle me nervous.
I'm audible by moonlight, blackness,
biding by windows until hint of dawn.
Alien eyes tickle me nervous;
I'm lost in hiding, bomb shelter heart.
Biding by windows until hint of dawn,
I don't think I'll go outside today.
Nothing goes right, but everything goes right in the right perspective. It's a matter of attitude. It's a matter of keeping your head straight. But mind falters at night. Or day.
My brain doesn't stop. I think about things months ago that you think I've forgotten – Jordan, my father, Noel, Michael, Niki, maybe even Holly Marquez.
Where did she end up? She was never doing well – abused by every verbal or physical standard I ever knew.. I was her trampoline of hope – like Niki's in 7th and 8th grade.
I needed the trampoline for every year after that; belated despair.
Raul and Ang got into Phoenix last night - first visit home from Alaska. There's a family barbeque at the house. Ray's even taking time off work (he's missed vacations for less).
Uncle Ray and Tony are both limping with crutches, mangled from their man-toys getting manhandled by the road. Sheryl's with Grandma – both in their tired and unprimped style. Mom coldly told me to introduce Jordan to Grandma; I hadn't realized it'd been so long since I'd seen her.
I think Ang has gotten more lovely. I think Raul has things to tell me; they're waiting under his tongue.
i wake up and check the time on my phone. every 20 minutes, up again, unsatisfied by the sun. 9:32am.. i haven't even been asleep for five hours.. 11:45.. my cat to keep my company.. 1:09.. he's been out of bed for hours now, has already found a woman in the bathroom to please him, will be on his way to the other side of town in no time.. 2:58.. i'm glad i stayed home, and glad for no television or concerned ones at the door.. 4:19.. kill the sun, life is better in dim.. 5:27pm.. face the bullshit; wake.
Marquee Theater. Tempe, Arizona. I still see your shadow, a ghost, waving in the water of the lake, our smoke frozen in the air, curled under cloudy gray sky, ashes scattered in black water.
Did something die – just like that – a stick that burned until the end, until it was left for an aqua burial that night?
It's raining; I'm left with nothing to wish upon as another year of your life passes by. I don't know what I'd wish for anyhow. I'm listening to someone else's music, wearing no one's hat, in someone else's arms.
I wish you happiness.
I'm struggling with people. Not communication or toleration. It's the worlds we live in. If I'm not surrounded by writers, I lose my significance.; I'm a stand-up prop used to make a crowd. My speech comes from a different place then – a place filled with newspapers, magazines, commercials, gossip.
I'm in tune with a separate existence where words, communication, connection are silent, inherent, weaved into the natural world, mind rhythms. Telepathy. Empathy. Aura. Silent; regarded.
I don't want to speak, only to translate vibrations underground. I want to think the things I couldn't before – not answer to, not swear by.
I'm closing off, down - looking for womb-like center… where I'm still and everything I've heard returns in muffled waves.
Others search too.. We meet in caves miles below the surface; traveling, our bodies dissipate to fog the color of soul.. We form a cloud of colored whispers, humming of poetry transmission – building a thought-knitted block of power. We borrow from it when we're weak.
I meditate there, under covers, waking from dark dreams. I want someone to meet me there, like if we held hands back to the surface, silence wouldn't evaporate; body and voice wouldn't manifest imperfectly again.
Always, dawn has been a weapon of invasion; its beams keep stripping dreams away, stranding me with living.
Each time I close my eyes, buildings collapse and rebuild themselves on the underside of the surface.
I'm buried by the happenstance of reality, myth of control, living in a coffin of superstition, hoarding surplus karma.
He filled my mouth with glass shards when I said life was worth all its pains. I bled silent; a lesson of limits, he said.
The wet doesn't want to be naked anymore; tears seek dresses to hide their beading bodies; water wants to freeze, opaque.
A week and a half later, I am still thinking about a knock on our door that we may as well have ignored. I unlock and open up to a little Mexican boy holding a heavy plastic bag. It was raining or snowing or sleeting at the time, and a blue hood framed and shadowed his face.
"Would you like to buy some homemade tamales?"
"No, thank you. I'm sorry."
Instantly, before the door is closed, I see one hundred other doors close with mine, and a mother waiting at home for her 9-year-old breadwinner's return – wet jacket, empty pockets.
He got me a bookcase for my birthday – "a proper bookshelf for my baby." It's the thing I needed most (other than money, or a new country to live in). He's good at that sort of thing, spotting something that fits perfectly with me. His mom bought me a lamp too – a garage sale or antique store find, she's good at that sort of thing. It's fairly retro, sheds a particular circle of light directly under the bookshelf now, right next to the beanbag chair I thought was destined for garbage (who knew it would become a haven of solitude?).
Barb visited. It's nice to have someone visit, I guess. I thought about if my parents made the same kind of trip, if they ever agreed to sleep on the hide-a-bed downstairs, or my single bed. I thought about how Barb never comes upstairs; how the first time my father was here, he asked specifically to walk upstairs and see the whole place. It'd be sensible enough if he just wanted to know I was living comfortably, but I know he was looking for drugs or signs of abuse, the smallest hints that I was hiding a life from him.
Yeah, you like that don't you.
Turn your head to the camera,
let them see your pretty face.
Yeah, I know you like it rough.
pulling hair, gritting teeth,
the look on their faces that
seems to say, ‘I better get
paid a fucking load for this.'
Here's you load, baby. Take it
in the face. That's how all the
sluts like it. Like mother's milk
coming from daddy's cock.
Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
Keep your cum to yourself,
your dick in your pants.
If you want pornography,
then date your VCR.
The Tip Jar