Archive | December, 2009

spider

18 Dec
There’s a girl in my bed and she wraps herself around my tongue
To keep me from speaking when you come round.
She crawls up in between the sheets and up between my legs and spider girl gets stuck in my teeth,
To keep me from saying anything when we meet

If you could only see all the things that she does to keep us apart and if only you could hear my beating heart
that she howls to cover up
Cos when she’s there it’s me possessed by lies, ties, and serpentine vies for your affection and
her tears
are misdirection from the way it could only be if she wasn’t such a part of me.

Road Trip

15 Dec

After they had been driving for a few hours, they stopped at a rest stop on the side of the highway. The brick building was ugly, squat, with low ceilings and a smell about it that was distinctly bleach and urine and grease.

He said that he would order a hamburger. She thought that was probably the only thing that could be eaten in such a place. She also ordered onion rings, hopeful that they would taste good. He was not as optimistic as she was and ordered a side of fries.

They thought the building would be empty at this time of night, but children ran around, unsupervised. She thought they might not even be real children, just projections of the screaming banshees that were expected to be roaming the hallways of such an establishment. After all, she saw no one who could be their parents, except the tired servers who leaned on the counters of the various fast-food stalls that jutted from the brown tiled walls. Maybe they did just bring their children and let them run around like balls darting off the sides of a pinball machine in the large pit like dining room that sat in the center of a burger place, a pizza place, and a Chinese place. All the food smelled the same: beef fat grease. The fourth wall housed the home of the other two smells; the bathroom was all bleach and piss.

“Should we eat outside?” He was okay with the cold weather. After all, it was June and warm to him. He had a t-shirt on. It wasn’t summer as she knew it though and kept her body wrapped up in a jumper.

“It’s raining.” It was spitting.

“We’ll sit in the car.”

She didn’t want to argue, she was tired and it didn’t matter where they ate because they would still be sitting down and after all, he’d borrowed the car. It smelled nearly new.

The burger was not good and the onion rings were very soggy, like breadcrumbs that had been dunked in water. She ate the whole thing without noticing anything except the pickles, which were cold and slimy against the roof of her mouth.

When they were driving, she liked the way the trees went by so fast that they became a wall of green, padding the side of the car. Sitting still, she noticed the smudges on the glass and how the trees were a bit brown around the edges, dying from something. It was better when they were blurry. He was a very fast driver, lurching the car this way and that way, and they were getting to where they were headed very quickly.

He talked a lot in the car, and she listened. She thought that maybe it was better that way. Sometimes she got a bit of a headache when she tried to separate his words and his voice and make him stand out from the crowd.

She had asked someone about this once. She was twenty-one and had a best friend in college who had a lot of boyfriends and the two of them would sit on her single bed, legs crossed Indian style and ask each other questions. “Do you like him?” “Do you think he likes me?” There weren’t any other questions important enough to ask. So when she’d asked, “Do you ever lay in bed at night, trying to sleep, trying to count sheep, and instead you try to count the boys you have loved? Do you ever think they start to blur together and you start to forget who said what and then it’s all the same?”

Her best friend told her to smoke weed before bed and then she wouldn’t have to count anything.

She ate her last onion ring and felt around her lips with her tongue to see if there were any oily crumbs left on the skin or in the corners where her smile met her cheek. As she crumpled up the slick paper and put it in the brown bag the food had come in, she had to stop and think what car this was. It was getting dark and they were heading home.

“You’re lucky I waited so long. If it had been anyone else, so late, I would have left you. Would have driven up here on my own.”

She turned to him. His voice had been sweet. He was picking on her. She smiled. “But you love me.”

“Yeah.” He turned the engine on with a click of the keys and smiled back at her.

June

15 Dec

After he had begun sleeping with her best friend he was almost entirely sure that a relationship between the two of them would not work out. He could not quite pin that to be true, but he had been under the impression for most of his life that mostly girls do not like that. Not that she had ever said that they were boyfriend/girlfriend, so he supposed that he could not be held accountable for things like this, and anyway, they had only kissed on the orange couch on the third floor those three times and when he had nervously pulled away from her and she had made that bored face, like when the professors started to go on about what a great writer Kerouac was. He almost expected her to follow up their sessions with a rampage about modernity. She did not like the word ‘modernity’.

She didn’t seem to mind too terribly much about when the truth came out about he and her friend. He wasn’t sure they would call each other best friends anymore. But then again, he didn’t ask. They continued on as though nothing was going on. They both looked at him with their dark eyes, as though he was a charming grasshopper pinned to a bug board under glass. He didn’t even bother to squirm anymore: the pin had gone right through his heart. She did not kiss him again though. Not for a long time. And when she did, it was different and years had gone by and they were two very different people. Although not so different, because the curves of their lips still fit together quite nicely and he still liked the way her hair felt at the base of her skull, where her neck met the hairline and it was soft, like the down on a goose. He knew the hair there could not be smaller, shorter, or made of feathers, but he could not see it, and it did feel that way.

But that was years later. And she was playing with her skirt, which fell at her knees when she sat and there might have been a thread loose at the hem because her fingers on her left hand worked the fabric back and forth, back and forth, and her nail scratched a bit at the skin on her knee as well. She looked nervous. But she never got nervous. She got bored. She got agitated. She would sigh. Blow air up over her face to move the hair from her eyes. She would pulled at her eyebrows, in case there were any loose hairs. And he had known then that he had better kiss her before she said how much she had the word ‘modernity’. Although he didn’t know if she still hated that word. They had left school such a long time ago. And the intellectual debates that seem so important to you when you are twenty fade quickly when you have to pay the electric bill. Or decide who you would like to be your gas provider.

In all that time between, between kissing her on the orange couch and telling her that when you really love a girl that it doesn’t matter if she hasn’t brushed her hair or has a rip in her stocking and sitting in the car beside her, between falling into, under, the dark purple sheets (that he’d slung across his dorm bed to make him seem more interesting) with her best friend and just now, only the gear shifter between them, in between all that, he had started to forget how to parse a sentence or how to do an in-text citation. And he no longer thought all of that mattered. But he wanted her to say, to hear her say, the word ‘modernity’ as though it was a vile slug that had crawled across her tongue and now she must spit it out. The way she always had.

She arched her eyebrow and let him catch her gaze. She was not coy. She did not look away. But she did not lean forward either. Instead she leaned back, sideways, so as to face him full on, against the door, her head held up by the glass. She made herself comfortable. She would wait this out. And this was when he kissed her. And he did not feel false in doing this. He did not feel that he had said the wrong thing, ever. She did not hold it against him.

Sailors

13 Dec
She had been quite sure that he had been lost at sea, as generally sailors do tend to drown quite easily. They are not very good swimmers. They are excellent letters writers and will spend a great deal of their days and nights penning long and rambling love letters where they wax ecstatic about the tropical ports they have pulled into and all the ways that they have seen the sun rise and set over water, with the clouds from various longitudes and latitudes making a crisp frame around the natural beauty that was their environmental art. Sailors, you see, turn into poets just as easily as they drown. They seemed to only be armed with an oar and a pen and neither one is any good at fending off tidal waves or pirates.

Although, I can let you in on a secret: they do not really drown.

After they have emptied their inkwells, after they have splashed out all the beautiful and unique stanzas that they have in their hearts, after they have written you a hundred letters that you can tie up with a red ribbon and tuck away beneath your pillow, under your bed, or inside of your favorite book on the third shelf of your bookcase, they will have nothing left for you. They will not know what to say to you. They will not know what to write, as there are only just so many metaphors for water. They will use up the word ‘krill’. You will get as sick of reading it as they have become of writing it. Although, it is a fun word to say, ‘krill’. And it looks beautiful when written in curling cursive and surrounded by carefully sketched mermaids and octopus tentacles, reaching ever upwards through a mass of air bubbles, dotting the borders of their pages. So they pepper their letters generously with it. But it will all make you sick to death after awhile. All of their promises and sainted dreams will begin to wear you down, as though you were a piece of sea glass.

And that is when the letters will stop.

And you will assume that they drown.

It is a common misconception, as they are all weak swimmers who can be cast overboard by waves, as feathers on the end of a line. Because why else would those tear soaked pages stop being mailed to you, after all, they had poured so much of their heart into these envelopes: stuffing them so thick with lies, packed heavy so that they must use industrial strength tape to seal the edges, so that all this does not escape when the papers are crushed, pressed through the postal service’s sorting machines?

But really, mostly, when they have exhausted their brains with all the nonsensical thoughts of the sea that they can carry towards you, they will simply change direction, like a current shifted by the winds. Pen still touches paper, ink still scrawls, wet and slick, spreading blackness over white, cream, egg-shell, ecru. Only the name on the front of the corresponding envelope is not yours, but another girl tied to another port.

You’ll wish and pray for mermaids and sirens to lure the sailors out to their deaths, bash their skulls against the bare rocks, have their brains picked at by rabid gulls and their bones gnawed clean by the sharks and mollusks that will make quick work of it. But the truth is, they batter on, for sailors have great strength of will to survive, so they avoid the depths.

So tuck the letters beneath the pillows, cradle the rings to your chest, and pretend to be asleep, reading no more. For sailors do not drown in anything but themselves.

California Burning

10 Dec

You said there was ash all over your face, that you could feel it coming, but you never ran so fast as you did to pick up the paint off the floor and back there, back of the closet, back where you had tucked away every bit of memory and here I sat, thinking of you, but I didn’t know why and all that time you were running and I wanted to ask you to come, but then you were gone.

they weren’t your home

blue tinted wind swept tree lined too far away from down below which came sucking up swooping sparks; water didn’t douse and now you write to me, repeating rinse repeating rinse repeat the same old tragedies which of course, everyone knows by now.

skin matches under night skies and i stare at your teeth to remember the moment which is no different from last. only it is. and i lay, splayed out like a bug at the head of the doctor and you sat reading that book and then we sat reading that book, in italian. in latin. in love.

johnny-long island

10 Dec
There’s a picture of him, where he looks like a boxer. Where the hood of his sweatshirt is pulled up over his ears and all you’re left with is his eyes and a shadow falling so dark across his face that it blots out everything else. And the way he’s sitting on a metal folding chair, he’s crouching really. Legs are wide, giving him the illusion of a fighter’s stance, even then.
It’s black and white and so you can’t see his blue eyes, but even in the absence of color, they still look bright. His face isn’t tight with anger, like he’s ready to pull a punch; he’s got a slack jawed calm over him, which will win him more fights anyway.

And in this picture, he’s not thinking about death. In this picture he’s not thinking about moving off of the island. In this picture he’s looking off in the distance and he’s waiting for the light.

He likes the beach and he likes the way the white sand gets smashed up with waves. He takes girls there. All of the girls. Even the ones that come to see him in the winter or the icy spring, when the chill in the air means they are wearing coats and scarves and would rather tuck their hands into their pockets to keep them warm than hold his. Maybe they’ve seen this picture, where he looks tough and frail all at the same time, where his blue eyes are so blue that they stand out even in the dark. And so then they don’t mind sitting on cold sand and letting the wind, which is salty and wet, slap their faces and twist their hair into knots. And later, he will take them home and he will do the same thing to them. And they won’t mind that either.

He is that kind of man. He is the kind of man who has crisp white sheets because girls like to feel as though it is new for them. He is the kind of man who does not like to disappoint. He is the kind of man who does not have time.

sub-editor reads between the lines

10 Dec
I don’t wear tights
on the tube
and so the fabric grazes my knee
the hem hits the skin
and I shiver
but i’m not cold
and you’re jealous
of his hand on me
the way his fingers tickle the bone
and we roll, long coat covering up what goes on beneath, under the lights in the station, that flicker and cast shadows over our faces in odd ways that are like puppets on our cheeks and tongues in our hands, the way palms stroke down below and then it’s a huge gust that shoves us up and out the door and into the street and against the brick and he says down, down, down on your knees because we grin like this when you see us like this and then

quiet.

hush up cos they can hear us when we talk about the dog and the book and the music and it screams cook and soul, we’re cook and soul, cook and soul and the rhythm tries to beat out all the noise that the neighbors can’t hear and he says, lay like this and he says, it’s so quiet the way you breathe and I get settled on the ink, waiting for this all to leave an imprint on my cheek which I can wash off the next day, but all I get is a bruise on my arm, from where his elbow crushed into my bone and I keep it for the next week, while it goes from purple to blue to green to yellow and here it is, fading into the pale and I can’t remember anything but the way I woke up at 2am with our fingers intertwined and thought, how did that happen, how did it go like that, how did you make me believe in all that shit, even myself?

cool

10 Dec
i’ll make you think i’m cooler, red carpets and whips and phones and dead things hanging off hips. i’ll make you think i’m cooler, i’ll make things happen, with a band round my bicep, growing bigger by the day, my shirt pulls at the buttons and you say
all sorts of things that aren’t true when i ask you,
so how many has it been now?

i’ll make you think i’m cooler, i’ll tell you what you think, all chicken wire and gin and tonics drink up and pour down the bathroom sink when no one is looking cos we be big hits up this week and we be big hits up to your knees and

lie back now girl, lie back down because all i want to do is

well hey now, they said bobby couldn’t come cos bobby had to hit and john sails ships, no john writes words, no maybe I got it all confused, no baby, there’s no shame to lose, cos eddie tell jokes and al, he writes prose, luke he gets nose bleeds up in the bleachers where he’s still fucking away at all of those teachers, and stuart he hurts like nails down your back, oh yes we are having another panic attack…the kind where I hold my skin back on and he’s got your throat so you can’t move too strong. and libraries are burning with all of the boys who had lips on fire and made too much noise. you don’t read this? well don’t read it now, the dogs are about to get out, they’re about to howl.

truth knows, truth prose cut it up and ship it back and send it off like a muther-fucking heart attack and we all already decided we all loved Cook and the way he snorted shit up his nose and then shook

free from her and free from me and who the fuck cares if he’s only on tv, unless he’s next door, getting on his bike, helmet in hand and he starts to riot up across the land from north to east like a ripple wave effect and we all just say words cos to stop yowling is a sudden form of death. shall we go to montana, get a horse and ride? suck it up and swallow your pride and just ask if you can, just ask her right now, but you won’t cos you can’t and so then we all bow

out and down and here’s what we say, from bed to bed to lay to lay and sleep too late, but I always wake up at three am and reach for you and the way your hair curls up into mine and that doesn’t happen everytime, cos I chased accents and freckles and

sofia did die

which killed us both and threw it all out the window and i know that *you* read and i know that *you* see and these are just personal letters that don’t seem to seep into the darkness of being and there’ll never be anything but fights and kitchen knives

but punk rock is different and we don’t have to fight, cos he holds me all night in the way that it just couldn’t be with anyone else cos we’ve fallen asleep, against raging screams and howling winds and voices that bleet against machine gun screens and I do think he’s cool and i do think that’s right and i do want to say

i think i’ve given up that fight.

Fuck Fear: London Edition

1 Dec

Fear is a really unreasonable thing. It thrashes out at you, in the night, grabs you by the ankles, and tries to drag you around. It will lock you up in the closet if it can and it will make your screams fall silent. It will make you dream that your teeth are falling out and it will make you lie right to someone’s face. It’s sneaky too, cuz it will hold your hand while you’re waiting out the nightmares under the covers and sometimes fear can become your best friend: you don’t know what you would do without that pounding feeling in your chest or the headaches or the feeling that you need to be on the constant alert.
And fear can manifest itself as anything: a girl, whose blog I quite like, wrote about how she was *afraid* to stop having an eating disorder. She said she didn’t know who she was without her anorexia. Her identity was all wrapped up in having the illness and there was a terrible fear that she would not be anyone without it. She had lived with her fear for so long that it had manifested itself as something she *couldn’t live without*.

It was holding her back and crushing her. Every choice she made was because she was driven by fear.

And fuck, so many people are.

Afraid that their families won’t be able to function without them if they go off to take care of themselves (or are they really afraid they won’t be able to survive without their families?). Afraid that their job or business will crumble if they don’t sit tight and just do the same exact thing every day. Afraid that if they say what they really want that they won’t get it, so best just to sit tight and shut up. Afraid that if they move away from where they are now they won’t be able to make friends, to be happy. Afraid that if they go for something that it won’t work out exactly how they want it to.

And fear very happily laps up all this self-doubt, this worry and hugs you nice and tightly and says, Don’t breathe, I’ll take care of you. I’ll keep you from getting too hurt.” And suddenly fear isn’t that great kick of adrenaline it could be, it’s not that shot of fight or flight that you get when you get mugged or go to war. It’s the suffocating embrace of your great-aunt who crushes you or maybe just a big sheet of bubble wrap duct taped all around you.

I’m really scared. I’ve moved to another new city. I moved in with people I don’t know. I’m doing a job that frankly, carries a lot of responsibility (if not prestige). I have no idea if my visa situation will work out. I have no idea if my romantic situation is going to work out.

But fuck it.

I’m going to kick fear in the fucking face and say “what now, bitch?”

I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t care if you think I’m smart or funny or beautiful or interesting or a good writer or the world’s best omelet maker or a complete and utter idiot. I’m not going to sit here and say “I conquered fear. I am not afraid of anything anymore.” Such a lie. I’m scared all the time. I’m scared of the dark (gremlins totally exist and so do ghosts! ha), I’m afraid of serial killers, I’m afraid of being in a car when it’s raining, and I am really afraid that I will get old and be bored.
But I am really grateful, really thankful, for fear. Fear has made me do so many things I never wanted to do, not on the surface anyway. It makes me decide to say fuck it and do it because being afraid sucks and the worst that can happen is that you can die and really, that isn’t so bad. It’s just being dead. And being alive, sitting in your room, wishing you had done something else, is so much fucking worse than being dead.

That’s why I jump. I’d jump with you: but no one wants to jump. My fear comes to me like fire (or like that rabbit from Donnie Darko, wielding a knife, if someone makes me mediatate on my fear…go figure) and I feel stuck in a room. I have to choose between the window or letting myself be burned up. If I jump, I might fly. I might land on an awning and bounce happily. I might fall into a pool, spy style. Or I might splat on the pavement. So worst case is that I die. Which I would do anyway, even if I didn’t jump. Because absolutely no one is coming up the stairs to save me. All those super hot firemen you envision? Totally not coming. Probably rescuing a cat, ‘cause it’s easy.

So okay, I am thankful for fear. And I am also thankful for all the people in my life who take the easy way out, making me have to fend for myself. I don’t mind fending for myself. I do a pretty good job.

“stand up and be a man about it. fight with your bare hands about it.”

figure out what you want and go for it. fight for it. if you want it, it’s worth fighting for. you honestly do have to fight for everything good in this world. no one is going to give it to you easy.

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