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wine & iron
Laundry night for me, since Jordan's in class and I'm avoiding everything that calls me. I've been shoving quarters in machines, soap into cycling bins, dryer sheets into warm cylinders.
I wait in the washroom, reading a course text explaining why men are competitive and I'm a nurturer, just a girl on the playground who wanted to play mom before the bell rang.
There's a message on the machine for me when I return. Don't know who it is, but I like to assume it's him, that he got my message, that he'll tell me I was sensible, responsible, wise.
I called home, expecting Dad to answer, expecting the tossing storm of his words that leaves me drowned, hurricaned, seeking gills instead of lungs as tears wet me.
But Mom answered. She told me she missed me, that she thinks I've changed, that we used to be something different, deeper, and all of our conversations have become topical and empty.
We cried. We both knew the truth. That I had let us separate so that I could be alone.
"There's a limit to solitude, honey... There's a fine line between what you can handle and what you'll let ruin you..."
The breasts and cleavage are shoved in my face – I want them, and he wants them too. Girls are covering their mouth and eyes to sell me make-up for my lips and lashes; they're covering their faces to sell me jeans.
Decapitated women are selling items that I don't want to buy without seeing the full picture. But we'll consume anyway. Because a nice ass beats the flabby one we see in mirrors.
He'll never know what difference it makes to us. He'll never know that we've cried in the dressing rooms – wanting to be an ideal that doesn't exist.
It's humans calling their fate from birth. It is only humans who fear the day they die from the moment they know death or loss. We live in fear of not loving enough, not living enough, not producing enough, not imparting enough to our successors, not leaving enough with the living world to recognize why we've lived and died.
An animal could know no such fear. It lives in its every moment – for food, for procreation, for survival. No faith or rationality will confuse its pursuits.
Live and let die; make as makers die; feed on prey as predator must.
I dreamed last night that money had my mind so wrought that I would enlist. I screamed as I walked out of the house, frustrated. Down the block, I applied. A male officer could tell I was stoned, starting asking me questions of sex.
He told me to undress in a bathroom. He molested me there, and I couldn't move or speak louder than our four walls. I left, found my father in the garage and cried for help.
The police arrived, and I pled an exaggeration – my scream was only hyperbole. Will called me a bitch for my silence.
Washing starch from
rice; watch the water whiten.
The texture feels like
fog on ungloved fingers,
thick as pearled breath.
Beyond the ache of
desire is fondness of
turning away from
their tomorrow, a widow
still cooking breakfast for two.
Pieces of night fly
like witches on brooms,
sweeping dusk down
canals of bricks in buildings,
shrouding sky under black skirts.
mud, leaving tracks I can't
wash away without
scrubbing, hands and knees.
Wipe your muddy heart.
Light a match, watch
it sparkle as it's called.
Nothing acts with such
joy to die; I would
burn like firewood.
Looks like we're moving. There's a guaranteed job for Jordan and I at the Grand Canyon – pay, housing, meals, benefits, staying in north country where I've found a home.
Or Tempe – sister City of Sun, where we hope he'll find a human resources job soon, where we'll live with Nathan again, where I'll be able to continue school with ten times more douchebags and whores instead of dread-heads and hippies.
I'd take what's closest to this place before taking the Valley of Death again. But love affects options and decisions. It's love that made me indecisive in the first place.
My upbringing was a fallacy. The world's not what they said it was.
Mistakes were called sins. Instead of learning or analyzing, I was to repent, let go. When the Bible stopped making sense and I read poetry instead, I was disobedient; I should've prayed for God's guidance through his Word, and the jigsaw pieces would fit. Man is the leader of home and faith; I must submit, recede from other inclinations. Heaven is my reward for belief and righteousness, but I've lived and died before this life.
I want to send my parents my experiences, educate their empty clinging.
I'll bleed again soon. I lose track of days, but it's a sense; I can smell it when I piss, feel it in my taut nerves, see it in my blemishing face.
I wouldn't mind if I never bled again, if I never felt anything but a man between my legs for the rest of my life. I don't need a monthly reminder that I can be a mother. Condoms are my more frequent memo.
I've got adoption on my agenda anyway. I won't populate this world with more blood when so many go motherless. I'll leave procreation to breeders.
Dream: I'm in and out of reality. One minute I'm with my brothers, the next I'm in a prime-time drama or ad, part of scripted life I can't control.
Julia Roberts is my real estate agent, finding me a white-picket home as music is cued; commercial fades to black.
Later, I'm in a subway or sewer; a group of us is being shot at; a black woman rips her shirt to wrap a wounded arm. My brother breaks the scene, splits fiction and reality, unconcerned with the attack but commenting the black woman's tits.
Waking, I evade reality, seek fiction.
I went frisbee golfing for the first time today. It was a good time – perfect weather, a chance to be outside, to stretch. I go into things like this not necessarily having the best attitude sometimes; just doing something for the first time, feeling incompetent because I'm not up to par, even as a beginner. In some unexplained way, I can't deal with certain kinds of inferiority, I guess. And there's no rhyme or reason to when this "NO" feeling will show up. It just does. And I stop trying. Not today though – just playing in Flagstaff trees and breeze.
skip. fork. block. top. stick.
frock. glue. york. paint. ever.
ban. horseshoe. figure. twenty. is.
black. brave. manly. port. ding.
sickle. glove. tray. sort. tin.
raw. dew. tortoise. blend. vibe.
court. taxes. hinge. meal. dam.
mangle. slab. gorge. express. oak.
slang. lover. bite. grit. buffer.
buttress. rug. welcome. divert. oh.
jimmy. trick. try. yuppy. haunch.
traverse. pert. contest. bore. bin.
brag. foggy. jokeless. reefer. corn.
shifted. grave. prize. govern. loss.
strung. plank. crux. gilding. cove.
animate. jug. lemon. walk. wave.
tongue. plaid. plague. forward. ten.
stuck. rank. sour. gut. obliging.
graft. fruity. barnacle. nick. plant.
give. unborn. hark. hanker. melee.
"Hey, this is Dad. I just wanted to let you know that you got a letter here from the DMV. I don't know what it is or how important it is. I'm really busy, so I'm in and out of the house anyway... So maybe you want to call and have your mom open it up and read it for you. That's all. Bye."
Messages like this, his business tone, like he's the house secretary, not my father. I suppose it's his little revenge for the "impersonal" nature of my sending emails; he never bothers bringing content into the equation.
We went to the Against Me! show tonight at Mason Jar. It was a small joint, overcharged for drinks and had a packed house by the end of the night. The floor was littered in cigarette butts and beer bottles by the end of the night too – kind of place where if you drop anything on the floor, it's gone forever. Against Me! was excellent. But the lingering music in my head for the night was Lucero's. Just a little Memphis country band who makes you want to drink a beer all night in the back of a pick-up truck.
We heard yesterday after the show that Christie has been sober for three months. The whole time, during the show and afterwards when we all hit on the Beam, I hadn't even noticed that she was without a drink in hand. Especially since Cory can sometimes drink enough for the both of them. They both smiled when Cory told us, an achievement that meant something for both of them. Cigarettes are always the lasting addiction, the one that's deemed least immediately harmful; silent killers are immortal, invincible, socially acceptable, least altering of our behavior, but building a silent death within.
I keep a book in the bathroom now. I think Jordan's responsible, his insistence that something be there to pass the time. I laughed, put a poetry book on the tank lid, and waited to see if its pages were ever opened. It's not exactly Playboy or Maxim. Sure enough, a sarcastic poetry review the first time or two. Maybe past that, past humor's value, the words are read mechanically, forgotten with the flush. Meanwhile, I go into the bathroom and start on one poem to finish in a quick minute, but I might not emerge for another half hour.
It's too early for this. But if I talk to him now, I can go back to sleep, still wake up feeling a little alive.
It's the same old conversation anyway. There's a cycle of topics he must cover – God, school, Jordan, drinking, drugs, and my mother. Predictable, but somehow still necessary? This time, he went as far as to say "Your sex life is my business, because I'm your father!" Christ. I even keep my orgasms too private now.
"I'll let you go, but I want to continue this conversation later.."
I was too groggy to cry or disagree.
Nathan visited recently, showed up some day other than Sunday, a bag in hand, and I knew something was up. His eyes were wet; his voice shook. I went to the bathroom, hearing Jordan ask what was going on. I couldn't make out all of the words, just random bits...
"never go to work sober anymore... get high just to get myself to go... just been real depressed lately... don't know if I still have a job... haven't been in all week... don't know what to do... she had to move because of it"...
Feels like my own brother speaking.
I've never been able to belch. I don't say that because I'm a female. I don't say that because I'm afraid to be unladylike as I tag on years. I mean with all honesty that a true burp has escaped my mouth no more than a handful of times – and those were typically in my childhood. The only time I distinctly remember was at Mr. Schafer's house when we all went swimming in his pool; I must've swallowed a gallon of water (I was never quite a an aqua-child, was never a fish; I abhorred them). Are there belching coaches?
"There's a true paradox – brother and sister, blood and flesh, yet they barely know each other. Isn't it ironic?
I'm not asking for an explanation. There's one thing I need to ask, though... Are you happy? Can you look on your life and be satisfied?
I leave you with that question to answer honestly. Not to drive you down on what isn't fine but to drive you to improve it. You can do it. You just have to believe, look beyond yourself. There's one thing I want you to know... I love you. That's all that needs to be said."
around the room tonight, or always:
solar storms; a briefcase full of blues; kingston; amoeba music; managing human resources; thelonius monk; all formats include previously unreleased tracks; bob dylan, 1965; I'm ready; the essence of louis; the show that really hits the road; lowblow; recipe for hate;
bathroom décor; kind of blue; bad religion; life without parole; let's go bowling; schlitz malt liquor; the sky is crying; london calling; food not bombs; punk rock song; isaac green & the skalars; sold here; the clash; you're in the mood…; gray; jackson street "the hole"; camel wide lights; birth of the cool
"Life's too short to smoke small cigars... The world's a big place; why be afraid of yourself when so many other things shrink us down to size?... A pretty face is a horseshoe of luck these days. And we're hellbent on meeting the almighty dollar's six-figure rule of success. But it don't amount to shit if you lynch your soul to get it... If you can't face the day without feeling a little crazy, I'd say you may as well jump the cliff now. You kids, I swear, MTV's turned your sense of self to shit… Bullshit, life..."
Jordan's 23rd birthday. I wish I'd done more about it, but when don't I say that? We went to dinner at Buster's (after making it to Strombolli's just in time for closing), got the works - appetizers, drinks, dinner, and dessert (birthday freebies included).
I screwed up in the gift department though, my staple move. The day just seemed to sneak up on me, and each time I looked at the calendar, it felt closer than it should've been. I bought CD's he picked out at Hastings, wishing I'd had my act together, wishing I'd get it right just once.
"I'm telling you something about me giving insight between black and white the best thing you've ever done for me is help me take life less seriously it's only life after all...
darkness has hunger that's insatiable lightness has a call that's hard to hear I wrap fear around me like a blanket sailed my ship of safety till I sank it...
went to the doctor, to the mountains looked to children, drank from fountains more than one answer's pointing me in a crooked line, the less I seek my source for some definitive the closer I am to fine..."
She asked me to stay after class; she needed to speak with me. I sensed a nervous humor in the way she said it.
The room clears out. "So, uh.. what's been going on?" I pause on an ummm, somehow closing with the fact that I've been making a whole lot of bad decisions. She laughs nervously again.
I say it's just family problems I haven't been handling well. We talk grades; I worry about what she's saying, hope exaggeration. She asks if I'm okay, and I cry. She continues talking, professional way to handle it, smiles while listing faults.
Always thinking of them, what I'll say if they call, looking for ways to defend my life and choices, noticing how we pick and choose the way we remember our pasts. They want me at sweet sixteen, somehow more solid to them then, despite living a series of trial-and-error facades. I went from student body president in 8th grade (suicide's first knock) to being a raging loner, more than content – if her world is still.
It's still at 3am. It's still when voices are silent. It's still when we fall asleep together. It's still when I erase my past, future.
He's got a job now. It's... great, it's weird, it's good. I feel better about summer and Tempe knowing that there's going to be a steady source of income to pull from when we go. Lord knows my money will be gone by then.
I'm bummed that it's not as close as we'd hoped though. To not be able to visit him, especially with all my loosely spent time, it's just frustrating.
But I guess it does give me a chance to have time for myself, to push myself into my schoolwork, to have my ideal conditions for writing too.
"went to see the doctor of philosophy
with posters of Rasputin
and a beard to his knee
never did marry
he graded my performance,
he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate
to the higher mind
got my paper and I was free
stopped by the bar at 3 a.m. to seek
solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
woke up with a headache like my
head against a board, twice as cloudy
as I'd been the night before
I went seeking clarity.
the less I seek my source
the closer I am to fine."
A test: what poetry form are you?
I am, of course, none other than BLANK VERSE. I don't know where I'm going, yes, quite right; And when I get there (if I ever do) I might not recognize it. So? Your point? Why should I have a destination set? I'm relatively happy as I am, and wouldn't want to be forever aimed towards some future path or special goal. It's not to do with laziness, as such. It's just that on the whole I'd rather not be bothered - so I drift contentedly; an underrated way of life, I find.
The sociology quiz tonight was to write about one particular institution – economy, politics, family, health, education, etc. – and throw out some ideas about its importance, to society, to us personally. I wrote about religion. With strange clarity, I saw the importance of religion as a function in one breath. I saw (with granted exclusions) that we're forced to go to school, born into the families we're raised in, governed by men we don't want in power. There are so many things we can't control... to have some other realm, a spiritual place in yourself, of your own choosing, is essential.
We read a poem about necrophilia today that was… strikingly beautiful to me, I guess. I think it was called "The Mortician's 12 Year Old Son," but I can't remember who wrote it. I just remember the lines and images...
A memory of a woman in a long green dress, a flower right between the breasts. Dead now, she lays shadowed on a table under a white sheet, watched and tongued by this boy, bringing love just a kiss away, "tonight, just a kiss away," as he mouthed her nipples.
How dark and wanting; Michelangelo violating and loving his subject.
The Tip Jar