Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brief Note

Another chapter finished. have just completed a project [well maybe not] that has consumed far too many hours of my time. which was the point of it, to see how much time i am willing to devote to this or to anything. for now, for this week, it is done, put to bed. so i will have more time to write!!!! and perhaps, post here? until i get consumed with the next project...

Why I Never Read the Papers

Raining. Sick. Afraid.
I know, you see. I've been there.
I can't see to drive.

Understand it all:
Twisted psyche. Possession.
Nine tenths of the law.

They think so. It's their
right, to own, have, and yes, kill.
Because it is theirs.
No one better touch their toys,
but a person isn't a thing.

A person lives, breathes,
has a mind, feelings and guts.
But to them, a thing.
Not person. A nobody.
Display piece. That's all. Or else....

You see, I've been there.
I lived that every day.
And the rain comes down...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

House is Not a Home Part III

There seems to be an obsession or perhaps a synergy between damaged relationships and domiciles. I look at people, picking through the detritus of their lives, the vacant wounded stare as they turn over a broken bit of crockery. Over, over, over, as if they've never seen a shard before. I have. Shards have sharp edges, cut. Drag the shard along the length of my forearm and watch the pretty design well up. And a new work of art, see! red rain on the tiles.
Oh. Oh god. Oh. Oh no. Oh god. He'll...... Oh. It does not matter what he'll do anymore. He can get mad, he can get furious. I am not there to care, to hear it. Lovely spatter pattern, burgundy on cream colored tiles.
There is other flooring. The carpet is stained. It is red, not red with blood, or at least I do not think so. Green sofa, neutral chairs and bed coverings. The walls are beige, benign. Sterile. Functional. Anonymous. Air conditioning off and still cold, despite the Florida heat. Windows open to let in the warm air, but it does not help.
This monastic cell is cold, so cold all the time. A place of retreat, prayer, repentance. A place to reevaluate a life. Perhaps a place to begin a life. Perhaps a place to end one.
The furniture is cheap, knocked around. So many water rings on the coffee table, marks of the many faceless former residents. It is a no-smoking room, but there are cigarette burns on the counters, window sill, carpet. Cigarettes bring some small comfort, or at least a five minute distraction. And sometimes a five minute distraction is comfort enough.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands have slept in this room, in this bed, one night at a time. Covers pulled up over my head, trying to keep out the cold. Alone, hanging off the edge most nights. Perhaps not quite alone as my laptop lays here next to me, constant gateway to the world outside. Its bright glow calls me. One a.m., three a.m., five a.m., I turn to check the screen. Is there anyone awake, anyone I can talk to? Can anyone hear me? Count the tears?
It is supposed to be an oasis, a haven. During the day, the three blankets are smooth, tight. You could bounce a coin off that bed. Look closer. It is worn too. No sheet to cover the box spring, no dust ruffle to cover the bare framework holding it up. All surface and nothing underneath.
The four mismatched pillows are piled at the top. Two are old and flat, lumps of padding. The third is a feather pillow which never holds its shape. It suffocates the head that lays upon it. The fourth pillow will not be used as a pillow. It pretends it is Japanese, a carved wood head support, but that is more pretense. Obvious what it is and what it is not. Everything in this room, obvious in its pretense and pretend, its simplicity and reality.
Cigarette burns, stains in the carpet, so many. Can't clean it, carpet so worn that dirt and dust are all that hold it together. You can't tell if those are blood stains, the floor a puddle of blood. Except for the tiles. They are cracked. Once upon a time, did someone pry up a tile, test the sharpness of its edge? They are as sharp as the broken china which litters the floor where I lived, in a universe long ago and far away. I sit on the floor and touch the cracked tiles gently, stroke them with my fingertip. I suck the warm blood, a frisson, eyes closed with pleasure.
There is a table, or perhaps a desk against the wall. Crowded with work files, printer, CDs, a small incense burner, it is hard to see the surface. Scent floats up from the burner, but does not cover the stale damp smell of too many bodies. The desk lamp does not work. Ironic, a light which casts no light on any subject. This room sucks it up. Curtains wide open to the sun, but the sunbeam is anemic. The room absorbs the very life from those who enter. "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate." Yes, abandon all hope, you who enter.
The sofa, a two seater, sags in the middle. Directly in front of the air conditioning unit, it is even colder than the bed. No. Nothing is colder than that bed, except the bed I slept in before. The freezer isn't as cold as that bed. The void isn't that cold. Hell isn't that cold.
A small white tiled bathroom. Anonymous. The shower is hot, scalding. The room fills with steam. It cannot wash away your crimes. It cannot wash away the crimes committed against you. Memories set by a branding iron, scrubbing deepens the scars.
There is a one door refrigerator, full of food. I bought it. All of it. Every last item. Is there a party in this room? Are there plans for a party? Gourmet foods, sauces, rare chocolates and spices, four bottles of wine, champagne. The two-burner cook top is scrubbed, the cleanest spot here. I have to make it clean, scour it, scrub the damned spots from it, scrub them out. This is only place in this room that pleases me, that is me. Mixing bowls, mugs, pans, wok. How many kitchen appliances can fit into that tiny cupboard? Curries, crepes, chow fun, fondue, mashed potatoes, soups, every shade of ethnic cuisine emerge from this corner. This building is the honorary dormitory for the local culinary academy, $50,000 tuition for 15 months, but mine is the only room you can trace from the elevator. Hansel and Gretel follow the scent of cookies to the witch's home. I pretend that this is a home, although I suspect it is an oven which will send me, smoke, to the heavens.
Photos, embroidered pictures, throw pillows, stuffed bears. Art attached to the walls with push pins, not even hung. Shabby attempts in a shabby room. All transient. Does anyone notice the comings and goings of those who reside here? Does anyone notice me? Does anyone care?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tin Ear

"Somewhere over the rainbow..."
She can't sing, you know.
Can't sing a tinker's damn
But she will sit in her
Itty Bitty Honda
and sing her soul out
when no one is watching.
A karaoke of the self,
audience of none?
Audience of one.
One hears her.
One hears everything.
And to her,
is all
that matters.

Vodka Straight

He wore a lavender tee shirt
with a unicorn and a
raaaiiinnnbow on it.
A rainbow.
Could you get any more cliche than that?

But he was beautiful
broken tooth smile
Made my bones hurt
marrow boiling away

Stands there, microphone in hand
Eyes shut, so far away.
He sings.
Silly karaoke bar.
I watch lean back on my bar stool.
The counter holds me up
my bones are melting.

He unlocks the door
of his beat up civic del sol,
old dented.
The rear passenger panel is red.

I wish
I wish I knew
I wish I knew his name....

Thursday, September 6, 2007

His Memory

Jeff died erev Sukkot. I was in Hong Kong or the moon, same thing. Every year, preparing for the Days of Awe which leads into his yahrzeit, I binge cry. I cry without awareness of the tears or the root cause. The tears slide down my face, splotches on my tee shirt.
Jeff was...Jeff. I am truly blessed to have known him. I am not the only one to make that claim. He was special. A gay, short, in recovery alcoholic, a fussy little bantamweight with a broken tooth and you could not find a more beautiful person. He glowed. When Jeff came into a room, all heads swiveled to see "who"? He's cute in photos, but live he dazzled.
He was my brother's bashert. When they met, my brother said, "I prefer men shorter than myself." Jeff looked him up and down carefully. Said "I'm only 5' 6-1/2" myself." He was lying. But he knew and David knew. This was The One.
They each told me, independent of the other, what it felt like. One would wake up. Look at the other and say to himself, "This is my home. This is the one who completes me. This is the one who makes me whole, a better person, a better me."
I'd spend time with them, absorbing that glow. I was so happy for them. And oh, how I envied them! I was sick with envy and desire. To feel that way, to know, to be so sure.
One of Jeff's biggest complaints about being ill and dying was how cranky it made him. He became needy, irritable. We told him that he wasn't a burden, it was our pleasure to tend, coddle, indulge him, but he worried about it. Silly boy. The only burden was that AIDS took him before he became a burden.
At his memorial service, on what would have been his 30th birthday, there were so many serious speakers. Everyone extolling the virtues that were Jeff til I wanted to scream. I am one of Jeff's biggest fans. If there were a Jewish counsel to propose sainthood, I would enter his name. Still, after a few hours, I gave into my rebel streak and spoke of Jeff's wicked sense of humor, his ability to tell a joke and lighten any occasion. I related a few of his favorite, filthiest jokes. In sign language. And pantomime. Which made them even more explicit and filthy. His jokes were raunchy, never cruel, never mean.
Jeff saved at least one life. Directly. As metaphor, as influence, he saved so many, enhanced so many. His feet were guided one day, one cool autumn morning. A friend told this story. Jeff never knew what Mark was planning that day. How could he?
Mark had decided it was time to end it all. He went out to buy some junk, to put an extra large dollop of heroin in his needle that day and float away on a cloud of bliss, never to return. Went downtown to meet his supplier. Mark turns the corner and runs smack into Jeff. They hadn't seen each other in a few years. Jeff did not frequent that part of Manhattan.
"Mark! I haven't seen you in ages. Oh, we have to catch up. You must tell me what you've been doing, what's going on. Look, there's a coffee shop. No, Mark, I am not taking no for an answer. It is so good to see you. And hey, they have seven-layer cake. How can you resist seven-layer cake?"
Jeff put his arm around Mark's shoulder and led him into the diner. They spent the rest of the day together. And Mark did not buy heroin that day. Or the next. Or even the day after that. Jeff gave Mark a chance at life just by being himself.
Why was Jeff there, just then?
There is no such thing as coincidence.
Everything leads to everything else.
Paths diverge, converge, digress.
Time passes. The strands weave in and out, to that one moment which changes your life. Which gives you life.
"I'm only 5' 6-1/2" myself."

Moshe ben Esther of blessed memory.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


If This is the
Happiest Place on Earth
Why do so many people look
sooo miserable?
Great expectations lead to
Great disappointments.
Too often.
Your family will not change
Your friends will not change
You will not change.
Will you? Can you?
Whatever miseries
you had
you bring with you.
Can you let the joy out?
It's in there, hiding.
Let it out.
Let yourself be happy.
A day, an hour
even a minute.
Let yourself.
The only one who has to give you
is you

14 days

All that is left are
Three White Crosses
Cars pass by
too fast to notice
But I notice
I see them
When the crosses, too,
are gone,
beaten into the ground
I will still see them

It's been another two weeks. Ordinary weeks. Everyone went back to school or back to work. Sloshim is not even over. It is not yet 30 days but everything is normal or at least gives the appearance of normal. No more memorials. No more flowers. No more drapes or teddy bears or pictures. The only markers now are three small white crosses. And nothing will ever be the same again.
I still pass it. Three, four, five times a day. Every day. Cannot stop crying. I see the cars whiz by. They don't know. I don't know. It is not my grief. I am just a bystander, a witness. But I cannot stop crying.
I am glad I cannot stop. I am glad it hurts. If I could touch them, tell them I don't know, can't know.... I have a shoulder and tears to mingle with theirs. The world is shattered. You do not cry alone. You don't know that, know me. I am a stranger who saw. A stranger who cries. And cries. And cries.

Epiphany: Control Alt Delete

Clear memory
deleting old files
write new pathways
over the old.
They are there.
Links are broken.
Dust on them
I do not need them
any longer.
Build new ones
Faith in this

Moments of awakening
Arise, ye sleepers, arise!
Moments when I am
Each one
I was not here.
Can't hear god talking
So full of noise...
I stand
one foot on the other side
pale shadows of music.
I hear.
Understanding will come later.
Maybe. That is not important.
But I hear and I obey
Sed audio obsequorque.