“The reason one writes isn’t the fact she wants to say something. She writes because she has something to say.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald
Monthly Archives: July 2011
We walk through the heat at midnight
He makes a fist with his hand when I try and hold it
Says he likes his hands free
He folds his over,
The blocks of cement we pass
And like a gymnast on the beam, I tiptoe across
A black open gate with gold spikes
Someone’s red lace up shoes and a stained blanket
We pretend someone enters the gate
He closes it after them
I-open it up again
A shadow on my wall of me and his basil plant that sits on
the window’s ledge
He points it out
And in the film section of the bookstore
James Dean photographs
He’s doing ballet
We both wear our glasses
Blowing smoke outside the door
We move outside and forget about the spider
With the spotted legs that later we’ll photograph
In the morning we’re both bit
I check outside
Spiders in the same spot
Rain now and extra blankets
Clean and laundered fresh
On the outside porch of the Coffee shop
We read each other
For a long while
And browse the antique store with all the keys and cameras
And other people’s lives
And their stories
And come home to hold your hand and snooze
The spiders gone on vacation
Soon, we too will be in a vast desert
Each others red moon sweat
The books our blankets
Covered in thoughts
One shadow; two us
(The basil plant needs a new pot you say,
A different home-you say you’re learning to love)
And even if the basil plant went brown and all the leaves of
my life crumpled to dust
I would still open the black gates with gold spikes at
And love the shadow that’s silhouetted in the darkness
“People see everything through the lens of their obsessions.” -Francine Prose
I leaned my head on his shoulder and peered outside the bus windows. Mostly traffic, some honking car horns and a drab hazy sky. I had lived in this town my whole life, but never taken the bus. We’d bought a bottle of Jack Daniels at Food Value and I was taking little sips, for him big gulps.
“Want a sip?” Sam asked the young busty brunette with an accent sitting across from us.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Yes a sip. And Germany.” She said.
“Are you going out downtown?” Yes. Other friends from Germany are visiting.
I liked the fact that I didn’t mind Sam’s eyes on her low cut tank top, breasts, almost corseted, plunging upward. Usually I was jealous of other women.
The night before, 3 am, my feet swelled and I held my high heels as we walked through a little park hand in hand.
Sam said, “I wish you were the pregnant one. I love you.”
He also told me, “She broke my heart in this park. I cried forever.”
We fell asleep at his place. Candle wax dripped from the window down the
wall. In the morning I noticed a narrow red waterfall of wax.
I shiver on the bus because I’m cold in my breezy cotton skirt with the polka-dots, but also because I’m afraid, and like an unconscious twitch-my attraction to Sam moved my body closer to him-I couldn’t not be close.
When we got to the college, we went into a classroom that seated about 100. Sam had just graduated from this college that sat on the edge of the sea.
I held the bottle of Jack and used it as a microphone.
“Class. Pay attention. Life is a highway. I want to ride it all night long.”
Sam grabbed my hand and led me toward the library.
It was a stuffy 1970’s style library with orange carpet and brown walls. We took the elevator up to various floors looking for a place to fuck. He’d said he’d always wanted to, but it had never worked out. We kissed in the elevator, trying to keep the kisses quiet as not to get him too ready too soon.
It was the 7th floor where we ended up. Sprawling windows overlooked the bright green grass that led to cliffs that led to sea. A gray bearded man sat on one of the stools in between an aisle reading and a couple aisles down from that another young
brunette with a scrunched brow highlighted a large text book.
We walked down more aisles of books with no people in them, toward some tables that were pushed together. I put my hands down on the table with my back toward Sam. He pulled my thong to the side, unzipped his pants and started fucking me wildly, but without sound. My hot pink sunglasses fell down from the top of my head and sat on my face. I looked back at him smiling.
There was some sort of movement nearby, some sounds of shuffling. We didn’t care. The noise passed and we could finish.
I took a gulp of Jack Daniels; wash wash it down.
We walked past the young brunette and gray bearded man, and they didn’t glance up or look embarrassed so we thought maybe we were quiet enough.
“Next time in the aisles,” Sam said.
The sun had gone down through those large sea side windows and now, smeared water color sky, pinks and blues, a wink of purple.
We took the stairs back down in case security had cameras. And for some reason we ran down the stairs, wildly as though we were late, wildly as when we were fucking, wildly back into the cold air near the sea. We had nowhere to go but back on the bus, back home, to his place where he might cook some type of camping food-chicken or sausage or eggs or maybe we’d just drink more Jack and fall asleep.
When we got down the stairs, we saw a homeless man sitting on a bench.
“Can I buy a smoke off you?” Sam asked.
“I can roll you one for free.” The old man said.
Sam smoked the cigarette and we walked toward the bus. I had the occasional puff. I tilted my nose to my hair and took a deep breath. Smoky sea salt, stuffy library books, sex; I needed to shower off.
Back on the bus, I leaned my head on Sam’s shoulder, and held his hand. He
ran his fingers through my hair.
I had to go back to San Francisco. He had to be a father.
“Maybe one day.” He said.
“Maybe.” I said, nuzzling my face deeper into his shoulder.
Like unfinished hems
The threads of canopy trees hang
and line the pathway above my head
We walk in silence
I try sour sap berries along the way
I gather medicinal leaves to make a sedative tea
Another fruit, like a potato is supposed to cure sixty-five ailments
Three stray and hungry cats meow for food
A deserted restaurant
A vacant beach
When we get into the water
We come together
We walk in silence back through the path with hanging
threads that stop before they reach the ground
And the potato fruit we cannot reach to take home
The sour sap berries are supposed to taste like lemonade,
but they have seeds and are bitter
Nosium and mosquito bites make mini-constellations on my
The cats grow irritable
A tourist throws a Pepsi can outside the local taxi driving by
I sit slouched, writing this poem
Watching the dark blue uniformed men and women wondering
what they’ve been up to today
Was it a birth? A bleeding spleen? Maybe a gun shot wound.
But here in the cafeteria you can smell death from their
The hand sanitizers and gloves and headpieces and surgical
And the little girl, the newborn,
stitches down the side of her skull
The wheelchairs and the diabetic
The sickness and sterility
There is madness here in this place of lunch dining
There are flowers in vases on each of the tables
Lilies that wilt and have started to turn from yellow and pink
The chairs are wooden and uncomfortable
There isn’t much warmth in medicine
My mother-a nurse, my father-a doctor, my boyfriend (at the time)-sells medical tools
They understand each other
Hugs are pats on the back
Kisses are irrelevant
I love you is please and thank you
Things are just like the people here-cold, utilitarian
And the most ugly painting in the world hanging high above
the cafeteria ceiling
It is a canvas of brown and blue, jagged puzzle pieces
The most boring painting in the world
There is no meaning that could come from this
Here is where true hell lies.
You said I love you
And the thong hung on the door knob
And smoke clung to the walls
I held the light in the right place
For the photograph
You said I love you
There were peppers and sauce
And as much as I tried to cook, it wasn’t right
And then you said do you know that I love you?
The room like a refrigerator
You say it’s more of a summer house
But I can’t feel the cold
I’m sweating and dancing and loving you back
It’s more of a hazy dream
With you and with me
All the words in the world would fail to describe
When I look in your eyes and know
That it’s not just me, or you, but we
And that perfect night we love forever
We brush our teeth outside the truck
Mini mountains of toothpaste foam soak in the grass
Strolling through the park we reach concrete and city houses
Etched names in the concrete
You show me yours next to the coffee shop
We have some quarters to share a cup
Down the streets we roam
And find the place we first kissed
Up against the wall
I was in a penguin suit
You didn’t dress up that year
We see the Cherry Blossom petals float off into the wind like a first snow
A strange dog in a Jesus van with bibles and crosses
A man with brown teeth who asks if we’re engaged
There are flowers blooming in the night
And sayings on the bathroom walls
And you carry a burning incense stick around with us
Musicians sing to you and me and play the harmonica, drums, and guitar all at once
And all at once we wake up in the back of the truck and you open the side hatch
And it is our window at dawn so we can see the Oaks and elms and redwoods
The light shines through and side by side we laugh, we lie, we scream, we fly
And you that morning, behind the camera, shooting me-the one eye I could see
Told me all at once I love you
And once, I loved you too.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” -Mark Twain
“There are four questions of value in life…What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.” -Johnny Depp
Outside the window, children’s laughter
Bright sunshine melting the ice in my mother’s sweet tea
Yellow roses, orange dahlias, giant honeysuckle climbing up the wall
When I lost you, I lost me.
No one else brought balloons. Pink was Lara Jane’s favorite color so I brought dozens of heart-shaped ones. I placed a few around the bar in her living room, a few more in the kitchen. Then, I put her presents, a bouquet of roses, a pink hat and a long beaded necklace, next to her bed. We both had keys to each others apartment. I could get in and complete the decorations just before she got off work. She said, “I want lots of glitter. Lots of pink.”
The party’s alarm clock-a fast fading sun, leaving a watery red sky brought in Lara Jane and Iris, Lara Jane’s roommate.
Iris cried, “Peter’s fucking that blond girl in our room. Our room.” Iris and Peter lived in the room right next to Lara Jane’s room and Peter was a player. Iris didn’t know until she saw the blonde girl lying underneath Peter on their red velvet duvet cover that Iris picked out earlier in the week. I practically lived there on the weekends. I knew the house gossip.
I started drinking champagne and wished Lara Jane, “Happy Birthday”. Her lips, bright pink, planted a wet kiss on my cheek. Always fleeting, never in one place, Lara Jane pranced to the bar and turned a vodka bottle upside down into a mug swirling in an occasional splash of orange juice and tonic. There were random people floating in and out of rooms in the apartment. A tall white guy wearing a black afro wig kept hitting on me. He went right up to my face and sang, “Witchy Woman.”
He said, “Can I just tell you, you are one sexy firecracker.”
“Thanks,” I said.
“Witchy Woman, Witchy Woman.”
“Come on,” I said.
He put his hand underneath my armpit.
“Tickle, tickle,” he said.
He had a hook nose, big teeth and laughed like a little girl.
“Stop it,” I said.
He wouldn’t stop, so I pulled his wig off.
“Playing hard to get,” he reached down to pick up his wig. “I’m up for a game of tag. You’re it,” he tapped my stomach, too high.
“I’m not into you,” I said.
There was a ladder outside the kitchen door that went up to the roof. I could escape the singing wig wearer. I eyed it, and said I had to pee so bad it hurt.
I actually did have to pee a little. Rogers, Lara Jane’s boyfriend, saw me heading toward the bathroom.
“Hey, hey,” he said.
I looked away and tried to ignore him.
“Hey Sara,” he bumped into me.
He followed me into the bathroom and put my hand below his thick gold belt.
“I want you Sara,” he said.
My best friend’s boyfriend was hitting on me. Again. But I liked the smell of his cologne. It was cedar and pine, lilly’s and fennel. The perfect masculine, feminine mix. Like him: colored rings and bracelets on big strong hands, a deep voice coming through a pouty red mouth.
“I want you Sara,” he said again.
I looked up at the ceiling for a moment and let his hands run down my arms. His fingers moved like curious tarantulas.
I didn’t know what to do. Part of me wanted to let him slide his tongue into my mouth, feel it touch my teeth. Let him grab my shoulders, push me against the wall, whatever.
I stared at the mix of different browns swirling around his pupils. He was too dark; almost like a shadow. We were both silent for a few seconds. Lara Jane’s first painting she completed last year hung high on the bathroom door. A portrait of Rogers’ naked body, every part defined in black ink and pencil. He was well-endowed.
Lara Jane was dating a sexy idiot, and I was buzzed. She was a good friend sometimes. Like when we met, she introduced me to Iris and Peter, other people from her restaurant job at The Lox. She had gone on night walks with me in the city, found hidden streets, secret doors, ivy and hydrangeas.
I pushed Rogers away, “I need another drink.”
I went into Lara Jane’s bedroom and laid down on her bed. No one was in there. There were many naked portraits. A cowboy at a bar, just sitting there with a hat and beer and red flannel, but no jeans. There was also an overweight woman wearing silver rings on every finger. She had curly brown hair everywhere. My buzz was turning to drunk. Next to the bed, red candle wax dripped off the window sill. It smelled like Christmas. I would fall asleep if I stayed here, so I jolted up and went to the roof.
Up on the roof, two guys were debating over a new roommate.
“She’s sexy,” said the short one with long red hair.
“She’s cute,” said the even shorter one with no hair.
“Fuck you man.”
People were smoking cloves and drinking Mickey’s in brown paper bags underneath a starless city sky, crescent moon. It smelled like cat piss up here. I looked over at Rogers who was now in a heated debate with one of two guys who couldn’t decide whether their new roommate was sexy or cute.
“Sexy is fucking sexy man,” Rogers said.
“But who would you rather fuck on a daily basis?” asked the little red head.
“I’d rather fuck them both at the same time on a daily basis,” Rogers said.
“Man, I’m asking one or the other.”
“Fuck man, I don’t know. What the fuck?” Rogers said.
Then the little guy with long red hair pushed Rogers lightly.
“See man, not an easy choice, right?”
“Don’t fucking push me man.”
I left the roof to go back downstairs and grab another drink, find someone else to stare at, maybe take my shoes off. Lara Jane stopped me at the base of the stairs.
“Sara! Where were you? I need to puke.”
Wearing a skirt so short that it showed the tiny curve line of her ass, anorexic, frizzy-haired Lara Jane had started drinking glasses of vodka and orange juice after dinner and had killed about seven by ten o’ clock. Her eyes were bloodshot. Earlier in the evening before her pink lipstick was smeared across her face I thought she looked sort of striking. Her features were so petite, puckered little lips and her neck, the most slender I’d ever seen, too delicate, a vampire’s dream. Also on her neck was a fake gold necklace Rogers had given her earlier in the day with her name spelled out in italic cursive. Lara Jane. This, I envied. I thought how special it would be to have my name out like that for the whole world to see. Sara. I would be the hostess. Sara. I could have the hot boyfriend. When someone asked my name, I could just point at my neck and smile.
Lara Jane grabbed my hand and led me to the bathroom I’d been in earlier with Rogers.
She said, “Hold my hair back.”
I said, “Got it.”
“Here it comes,” she said.
Lara Jane quickly turned her head so that she missed the toilet entirely, puking all over the floor.
She mumbled, “Oh God. I think I’m going to die.”
“No, you’ll be okay. I’m here. I’ll stay.”
I opened the bathroom door and saw Iris who was still pacing the hallway, crying hysterically about Peter fucking the blond in their room on their red velvet duvet cover.
“Can you please go get Rogers? Lara Jane’s really sick, ” I said.
“Peter’s fucking someone in our room! Doesn’t anyone care? Oh my God, why? And then she screamed, “Why?!”
Iris stomped off.
Lara Jane looked up at me, “There’s puke in my hair, Sara.”
There were chunks of brown and yellow everywhere. Intense drum and bass music was blaring in every corner of the house.
“Rogers!” I screamed. “Somebody get Rogers, please.”
“I’m sick Sara,” Lara Jane said.
“I know. It’s okay. I’m here.”
“Where’s Rogers?” she mumbled into the toilet.
Rogers walked in, “Oh shit! What the fuck happened?”
“Your girlfriend is really sick and I’ve been helping her. I yelled for you. Where were you?”
“Let’s put this girl to bed.”
I took some toilet paper and wiped off my new shoes.
I held Lara Jane’s face up, away from the toilet, and asked, “You want to go to bed babe?”
“Yeah. I drank too much. I drank too much.”
“I know. It’s okay. Let’s clean you up and then you can go to sleep.”
She threw her head back and then jolted her head forward, only to throw up this time on the bathroom wall. I yelled at Rogers, “Can you seriously help me, please?”
He stood in the corner of the bathroom with his arms crossed, running his hand through his hair, “I deal with this shit every weekend.”
“I know. You’re lucky I’m here,” I said.
He didn’t deal with this shit every weekend. I did.
Rogers picked up Lara Jane and walked into her bedroom. Like tossing a dead fish into a cooler, he let her long, limp body fall from his arms onto the bed.
“My work here is done, Rogers said. And then he left the room.
I sat next to Lara Jane on the bed and people kept coming in the room and the drum and bass continued making the house beat like a large pulsing heart. The tall white guy wearing the black afro wig woke her up for a couple of minutes. He held a beer bong high above her so that little drips hit her forehead.
“More alcohol! Yeah! It’s my birthday!”
“Go back to sleep babe. You’re fine,” I said.
Iris came into the room cursing about Peter.
“Sleeping with a dumb blond whore in our room. No one fucking cares!”
A lovely French brunette Lara Jane worked with at The Lox restaurant came in and placed a little pink box on her bedside table.
“Tell her I came by.”
“Check,” I said.
Lara Jane was a sloppy drunk. Rogers was right. Taking care of this girl got old quick. Rogers and I had something in common. Neither of us could have a real conversation with Lara Jane, and we both wanted to enjoy the party. The last party I’d been to with Lara Jane was when she kissed her friend Nick on acid in the front seat of a SUV. I was in the backseat, alone, laughing awkwardly. I wondered then, where Rogers was and if he freely cheated on her as well.
The night went on; someone turned the music down, people headed out. I put a wet washcloth over her head, brought in two extra blankets, and a vomit towel and bucket.
Rogers came back in the room, “Let’s split a cab,” he said.
“You want to just leave her here?” I asked.
“She’s fine. Come on.”
He reached out for my hand, grabbed it, and pulled me across the house. He said, “I’ve got the cab. I just got paid. Thank God it’s a motherfucking Friday.”
I tripped down the stairs and decided enough with the black stilettos. I took them off.
“Nice toe polish,” Rogers said.
“Just got them done,” I said.
He noticed these things. I liked him and he was with me now. I was wearing the italic cursive necklace. It was my name flashing on my pretty neck in the bright lights of a cab he would pay for, and it was for me. Sara. I sat on his lap and he held me with his muscular arms and big hands and long fingers and it was sexy.
“Fifth Street, please,” he said to the driver.
Whether it was the champagne or sheer thrill of being the center of attention for once, I didn’t question it. His apartment came before mine, but we were skipping his drop off.
We went to my place and in a whirlwind rush he pushed me up against the wall and held my arms behind my back. He kissed my head and licked my mouth and smashed his mouth up to mine whispering, “I want you. I want you.”
“I don’t really love her,” he said. “I’ve tried.”
He threw me onto my bed and undid the button of my jeans and zipper with his teeth.
“You good?” he asked.
My head was spinning with excitement and fear and Lara Jane and the champagne.
“You’re a goddess,” he said.
And then, rather suddenly, he got up off the bed. And I did too.
He winked and pinched my ass.
“Thank you,” he said.
“For what?” I said.
He winked again, but not suavely, this time with both eyes as though there was something stuck in one or both of them.
Looking out the window, there were a few visible stars. Also a dead pigeon, missing a leg lying on its back, belly up.
Rogers put his hand on the doorknob as I stood pathetically with unzipped jeans starting to fall down my legs.
“See you around,” he said.
That night I found something in my bed that must have slipped out of Rogers pocket. The necklace he’d given her. Lara Jane. I put it around my neck and curled up to my vertical pillow, a substitute man, a fluffy mass of artificial intimacy.
The atmosphere is filled with anxiety. They are waiting for the recital. The finale. The perfect piece. And I sit here waiting as if I too am soon going to perform. Their fingers are tapping and they move their hands in little circular motions as well as their feet. It’s always about getting better-not really realizing the talent they already possess. I hear, “If I get a B in this class it’s like getting shot in the foot and then having to run a race.” Also, “It was a chicken hunt to get here.” There are sounds of piano, violin. I wish they would open the doors. People walk with their brains slightly forward. The brain leads the step. Music vibrates from the building to the concrete outside, underneath the bench I’ve sat on. A dandelion has pushed through the concrete. It’s lovely. There is a well respected Asian waiting for her turn to go inside. Her hair is pulled back in a tight ponytail and she has shiny silver shoes on. Teachers pass by and say refined hellos to her. Abruptly, she is called into the building, and a man sits beside me. Perhaps a teacher. His gray hair dances outside of his large oblong head. And he reads material. Perhaps music theory. He carries a smell of old closets and mothballs. Up he goes. He walks away with a giant duffel bag. Maybe people have to pretend they’re on vacation here. Maybe he had a lot to carry.
I saw you underneath veiny ropes
and twisted nets
in the summer of 99.
Where old sea ships lie
Myths of mermaids
A black shoe
No, breaching acrobat, you were lobtailing.
You were logging.
I remember you now.
My feet are in the sand.
I hear you Monday, Sunday
Your sea songs at first I thought laughter
Now I know your eerie high-pitched tune
You lost your daughter
I’ll come in. I’ll come in again.
I want to hold your dorsal fin
and ride beneath the wind.
Next to the hillside of lilies
And meadow of dawn
lies our blue vacant house.
How I want to go inside and sleep,
Next to you
on yellow carpet.
I peer over the broken fence
walk along its edges.
You stand on the oak patio smoking,
“Darling do you mind if I smoke this joint?”
“On our patio? Darling, why of course.”
We tiptoe to the roof with
and sloshing blue feet.
underneath red falling sky.
Two tangerine fins
One larger than the other
I looked through the glass and made faces.
I made googly crossed eyes.
My fish was a woman.
She was deserted sand caves of silence.
Her tail fell off
(I didn’t clean the water.
I didn’t wash the bowl.
She turned to grains and I felt the grains against my toes.
I felt the grains of lost fish food in my hands.)
Flipping over and over again
She used to dance
A permanent stretched smile like a long winding highway
One too many has been hooked
But old age was the face of chomped fish food salad for Gill
One two three
Or was it dinner?
Crunching sweetness, salutations over, adios amiga.