Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Things Change...

She looks the same, almost exactly the same, he thinks. He hadn't seen her in almost a year and she looked the same. He wants to put his arms around her, hold her, but is afraid. Ironic, that. After all they'd been through, done to each other, with each other, how they had explored every crevice of each other's body to be afraid to give her a hug, a fully clothed hug was the pit of irony.

Forget about a kiss, kiss her, kiss that mouth, that beautiful mouth he had... oh god. Don't go there. Don't remember that mouth, the way she kisses with that mouth, like no one else he'd ever kissed, New York style, Philadelphia style and the dreaded, perfect San Francisco style.

San Francisco kisses. He closed his eyes, the memory of her kisses on his lower torso, the way she used her tongue on him. No one else ever had done the things she'd done. Not before, not after. No one else, ever.

He shook his head to clear the ghosts. Her hair was a bit different. Shorter? No, maybe it wasn't her hair, something more subtle. Makeup, tan? No. It was the way she stood there, the very fact that she stood there, so still. He'd never gotten all the way inside before; she'd always greeted him with those kisses, blocked the doorway. Only after she'd been kissed to saturation did she say hello and by then they were inside, naked.

And now? Waiting. No hug, no kiss. It hurt. It hurt more than not seeing her. Because she is real, here. He could smell the tang of her skin, her peculiar musk mixed with her favorite perfume. She tasted like vanilla. Well, her neck tasted like vanilla. The rest of her was just her. He'd never thought about it before, that her neck tasted different. His wife, his other girlfriends had tasted pretty much the same all over, so why did her neck taste like vanilla?

She stood there. Maybe that was the difference, this serenity and quietude. Larger than life, whirling dervish, his whirling dervish, the energy she put into everything, he wanted that, he missed that. He missed the electricity of being with her. He felt more him when he was with her, felt bigger, deeper, smarter even.

"Hi. I've missed you."

She nodded but didn't speak. Eyes on the floor, she folded her arms across her chest.

"Nothing to say? That's a first. I have lots. I don't want to, but I do. I tried not to, oh, how I tried."

She smiled at that, a small smile. "Tried not to? No pleasing substitutes? New playmates didn't work out?"

He didn't want to admit to her that there had been no substitutes, no new playmates. He was ashamed of the torch he carried. Yeah, he'd gone out, scanned the web, gone to bars, placed ads, driven all over and ... nothing. A big nothing. The women would put their arms around him, press their lips to him and it was nothing.

It made him want her more, the other women. When did it happen? They'd been going along fine. So when? When did a convenience turn into an obsession? Was it when she left? Was it before? He was so angry, angrier than when his wife had threatened to leave. Of course, he knew that was just a threat, his wife was full of idle threats. But her? She didn't believe in idle threats.

"There were no playmates." He stared down at his hands now. She'd loved his hands, his long thin fingers, his fingers that could reach so far inside her and find all her sweet spots, make her cling to him, clamp down on him, biting his shoulder to stifle her cries. She'd leave his shoulder black and blue with her teeth marks. He couldn't look at her, let her see how much he wanted her.

But he was here, of course she knew. She knew that one day he'd call her. Just like she knew that she could ask him anything and he'd comply.

"Oh come on. You expect me to believe that? A whole year? No one? I wasn't born yesterday. I've got a bridge right over here if you're interested."

"No playmates. Not anyone else. I couldn't." Did he really say that out loud, admit that? "I couldn't. They all, they all weren't you." Tell her about the times he had tried, despite te Gordian knot in his stomach, taken some whoever's clothes off and nothing? The bodies that didn't feel like her, the kisses that tasted sour, the feeling that he was trying to fuck a wall of cotton batting and it was going to choke him? Tell her about the drinking, waking up in his car so lost it gave him an excuse to use the GPS she insisted he buy? Tell her that? "No. There were no playmates. None."


"And you? Break a few hearts?"

She looked away but didn't answer, which was an answer in itself.

"Not answering is also an answer, Bad Girl."

"Don't call me that! Don't say that! She's dead! Dead, dead, dead!"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. Oh god, I am so sorry, Cassie. Please don't cry. I'm sorry. Oh god, what did I do?" She was heaving dry sobs, crying without tears. He put a hand on her shoulder, stepped closer to embrace her. She felt so good in his arms.

"Don't you say you're sorry! Don't you touch me! You just leave me alone! You go back to whatever rock you've been hiding under for the last year and you just leave me alone!" She pushed him away, turned and covered her face.

"I really am sorry."

"Go home. Leave."

He nodded, helpless. She's crying and he can't even comfort her, hold her. He touched her shoulder again. So warm. He could feel her heat through the fabric. ‘I'm sorry."


"Can I call you? Someday?"

"Oh darling, don't you get it?" She looked up at him, first time since he'd gotten there that she'd really looked at him, mascara streaks down that beautiful face. "Don't you see? Someday never comes. And Bad Girl is dead. So mourn, mourn for all the things that'll never be, all the things that never were."

"Cassie...I really am sorry. Please. Can I hold you? Just for a minute?"

Standing so close, he felt her go limp against him. Put his arms around her to keep her from falling, careful to keep his hands at her waist and shoulders, not let them wander to anywhere more intimate.

She sighed, then pushed him away. "No, don't. I'm fine. I've been fine. I just don't want to hear any more of your BS. You lied to me, even the articles and prepositions were lies. Why should I believe you now? You just...I dunno. You just can't leave it be. You'll say it and then you push and push and push and before I know it, I'm right back there. I can't do that. I can't."

"I'm sorry."

"Sorry? Sorry for what? For not having a twit to fuck, to play your games? What?"

"No, I'm sorry. Sorry for making you feel that way. I am. I've missed you. You, Cassie. I missed you. Yeah, I know you don't believe me."

"None of this matters. Just go. This wasn't a good idea, letting you come here, seeing you. Not a good idea at all. Just go." She pushed him in the direction of the door.

He put his hands in his pockets, those hands she'd done so many things with, those hands that just wanted to touch her one more time. "Can I call you sometimes? Can I? Please? Just to talk. Please."

She shrugged in response.

"Cassie. I'll put your number under Cassie."

She nodded her head and gave him a wan smile. "You do that. Under Cassie."

Stained Glass

"A good light truly illuminates the dark." She clicks the remote, changing the station.

" Would you shut the fuck up with the homilies?"

She looks at him, surprised, hurt. "Hey, it's true! Why are you so pissed?"

"I'm tired of all your explanations and abstractions and pontifications and and and I don't know what all else. I'm tired of it all. And I'm tired of you most of all."

"What?" She clicked the remote again. The image on the TV shrank, then disappeared. She placed the remote on the night-stand. "How can you say that?"

"It describes us."

"Huh? You make less and less sense. Describes us how? What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that I'm tired of you, your stories, your high falluting mannerisms. I'm done."

"Done? What do you mean, done?"

"Done. We're done. I'm done. I'm taking my things and hitting the road, flying the coop, jumping the fence. I'm leaving in the morning." He opened the closet, flipped the light switch and disappeared from her view.


"No buts. I'm done." His voice was muffled.

She leaned back against the pillows. "It's 11:48."

"So?" Hangers clattered as he pushed shirts, pants, jackets, back and forth. "And in an hour it'll be 12:48, then 1:48, 2:48, 3:48, 4:48, 5:48, 6:48, BRRNG! Time to wake up and I'll be outta here. You and your friggin sayings, morals, whatever the fuck they are. Where's a box?"

She didn't answer immediately, eyes shut tight against the soft light of the bedside lamp. She'd made the Tiffany-style lampshade a few years ago, while recovering from a miscarriage. He'd driven her to the class, "Stained Glass for Beginners," every Tuesday night for ten weeks, sat outside in the courtyard, reading while she worked and healed.

"Where are the boxes?" He repeated.

"In the garage. You'll need the packing tape. That's on a shelf near the boxes." Her neck itched. When she scratched it, her fingers came away wet. She watched him leave the room and murmured to herself, "That which does not kill us-"

"-leaves beautiful scars. I heard that. So pick at the scabs, I don't care. I'm not interested." He opened the door to the garage and the alarm chimed. "Shit." He punched in the code to deactivate the alarm. "Where in the garage? Behind the shelves? Oh there they are."

Funny, she thought. I can hear his voice clear across the whole house, but in the closet eight feet away I could hardly make out the words. "Yeah, along the wall."

"Got them. Thanks."

"Tape's there too." Why tell him? Why make his life any easier? She should be arguing, fighting, throw herself at him. Wrap herself around his knees and beg him to stay, pound the floor with her small fists, anything to keep him. Right? Isn't that what a woman in love is supposed to do? Keep her man happy, keep her beloved by any means?

"Got that."

So why was she laying there, tears crawling down her face? She took a deep breath, exhaled it slowly. Rolled onto her stomach and pulled the cover over her head. She'd deal with it in the morning.

Or not.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Conditional Love and 1st Corinthians

Honeyed sweetness drips from your tongue.
How sharper than a serpent’s tongue
it is to have yours slither over me.
Trussed with words, tight, they wrap me,
my throat,trail down my torso, my breasts,
my waist, my back, my pelvis, and slide between my legs.
The lies we weave are so easy,so good.
They feel so good....
I want so much to believe.
The noose is a caress.
I lift my chin, exposing my throat.
Your thumbs stroke my windpipe,
our tongues dancing to the music of lies.
I press against the noose, revel in it
as you bite the nape of my neck.
Every kiss a lie.
Lies disguised as promises
slide down my arm to my ring finger,
size 5-1/4, I do. I do.
Does not take many.
One. Two. Three.
Certainly no more than three.
And I will believe.
Oh, I will clap hands because
I believe.
I believe in fairy tales and happily ever after.
I want so much to believe.
I want the lies.

There are conditions, too many,
like threats.
Eyes filmed over, vision clouded
but now they see.
You have ripped the blinders off
with your own stupidity.

Woman needs to be helped and lifted and have the best place. And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I could work as much and eat as much. And bear the lash as well. And ain’t I a woman? I cried out, but none heard me. And ain’t I a woman

Does it matter to you?
Not a jot iota bit byte
as long as your conditions are met.
“As long as”
What are you looking for? Why?
Why do I ignore what is before me?
Why do I believe your lies?
Collaborate with them? Why?

I lie here, awake, thinking of lies.
So many.
Yours mine ours, certainly ours,
lies hidden deep within ourselves.
We believe our own lies.
Well, that is best.
When the liar believes the lies
it is easy, so easy
to maintain the illusion.
But the veneer is ripped away.
I swim in a cauldron of sludge
the steam rises, each strand more lies.
The hurt whirls around me.

Faith. Trust. Pixie dust.
Adultery. Betrayal. Mud.
Overtime. Four hour lunches. Lab tests.

Open that drawer.
This is my new weekly sitcom.
Every week a new adventure.
I shut that drawer, silent.
And stay on my side of the bed.

You whisper what I want to hear
Fun house mirrors reflect me, distorted as a lie
and truth even more perverted.
You’ll say anything. Talk.
I’ll believe it
and you’ll believe it
if you say it often enough
loud enough
soft enough.
Your words kiss the helix of my ear
as they travel to my insides
looking for a home.

It all means nothing
if there is no truth
there is no truth
if it is all conditional.

A child cannot see
lines between reality and make believe,
between lies, half-truths, and truth.
An adult learns this, learns when to make believe
and when to lie.
A child, selfish, self centered, stamps his feet because
he wants!
As long as his wants are satisfied.
Nothing else matters.
An adult knows that
cannot be satisfied with lies
or when it hurts another
An adult balances their needs with the world outside,
sees it and does not need prodding.

Love is impatient, it does not wait.
Love is blind to what it will not see.
Love is jealous and has no master.
Love is arrogant and holds itself out.
It is unbecoming in ways that make
me tremble, astonished, excited.
It seeks its place, uncaring.
It provokes and hurts.
It wrongs, it suffers.
It revels in perfidy and rejoices with lies.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things “as long as”

“As long as” it gets what it wants.
I want to be an adult
I am tired of being a child
playing childish things.

It is time to put away childish things.

I can flog it.
So can you.
And we will have tired arms.
The corpse will still be a corpse.
That is, if it was ever a living thing.
I have my doubts.
No, no doubts.
I know what it was.

Even now, knowing that I know,
you cannot keep up the facade
just to please me.
Have you ever done anything just to please me?
No. Never.
You can’t even do that.
How can you do anything else?

I cried out, but none heard me

His Country Home

But the pillars are intact. He stares a moment longer. Just stares.
Thin, thinner than thin, emaciated, he walks onto the porch,
sagging, decayed, black mildew creeps up the walls, kudzo-like.
Just another alien invasive species wrecking havoc on
His Beloved.

Floorboards broken. Shutters hang by a single hinge. Termite ridden, too.
He would open the door to enter the Manse … if there was a door.
Step smoothly over the threshold into that gaping doorway
like a whore opening a zipper and mounting a faceless erection,
still wet with another man’s cum.

Picking his way over piles of debris, abandoned furniture, books, clothes.
Rats? armadillos? snakes? rustle, jump out, slide from sight.
Nothing left of lifetimes. Idly, he picks a book from the melting pile.
A diary, the pages a solid mass, The ink bleached away by fastness.
Another person’s memories

Home is Where the Heart is

And when there is no heart?
Look around, crowded with things,
empty except for the hum, harsh static undercurrent.
Cannot think, feel, brain in tomographic slices,
sliced, diced, split and reformulated into neat stacks.
Cut the deck. Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle.
This way madness lies.

Once, you whispered, “You are my home,
Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.”
How could I?
Homeless myself, you fill the empty in me.
Synesthesia, you are my purple, fresh cut wood, cinnamon, Vivaldi.
Am I as dear as salt to you? Am I?
Now? Ever?
Am I?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wrong Number

The pieces are scattered, some on the board, some on thefloor, few under the sofa. She crawls, stretches to reach and retrieve the errant rook, bishop, pawns, save them from dust bunny hell. Staring at the pieces in her hand, the fallen pieces, she thinks, I've fallen too. Is there is someone, anyone to throw me a ladder, a line, a lifeline, anyone to help me climb out of this chasm? Shaking her head, I wish. But there is no one on the other side. No one.

A giant open mouth, crocodile jaws, the walls press in on her, aggravate her vertigo. Vertigo attacks looking up are rare compared to those looking down, yet they do happen. Closes her eyes and replays the game, tries to find the point just before the game board flew across the room, the point just before the calls started, the point just before her life became chalk.

Picking up the phone, she waits for it to ring, moth to a flame, fascinated yet repulsed by the voice of the stranger, the stranger that used to live with the man who says he loves her, loves her so much, loves her like he's never loved anyone ever ever ever.

"I'm telling you this for your own good." Click!

"You don't know what you're getting into." Click!

"You'll be sorry." Click!

"He will play you and use you. I don't want you hurt. Call me." Click!

"You think you're something? You think you're so all that? So special? You are just a worthless piece of trash." Click!

"Listen, cunt, leave my husband alone." Click!

"You don't even have the guts to answer the phone." Click!

"Here's my email. Please. I need to talk to you." Click!

"Wow, he sure has you fooled. You're just another one of his whores, latest in a long, long line of whores. How could you do this? We were so happy!" Click!

"Get out of my life, bitch!" Click!

""I'll get you." Click!

"We have dogs. We have grandchildren. I want him back." Click!

"He'll treat you like he treats me." Click!

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

The words fill her, put her on a slide under the wrong end of the microscope.

The phone vibrates; she waits for the machine to answer and wonders how she will escape.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Valid Passport

She always carries her passport. And it's current.
Because she likes to pretend that she's free.
She's not.
So grounded, so tied to the ground, as grounded as a McVeigh tripwire
that she's not going anywhere. Ever.

Still, every ten years,
she mails a current photo (2" by 2", full face only please)
and her money ($75 fee payable to the U.S. Department of State)
and renews that little blue book
that virginal blue book she's never used.
Because someday, maybe someday,
she just might.

Someday is now.

There are many roads, but all roads lead to roam
and Rhodes and Rome are no longer fantasies
Seven wonders. She wonders.
The Colossus hangs in the gardens and
Babylon tongues caress her under the pyramids of love, speaking lies,
while Zeus and Artemis, those paragons of brawn and brains, sleep in their mausoleum.
The beacon above flickers, searching for an honest man.

Heat rises from the tarmac in visible waves.

She fingers the little blue book.
"It's time you were deflowered, baby. Fasten your seatbelt, it's going to be a bumpy night."
Face, grimy with tears, determined,
pushed into her seat, adrenaline flowing, she breathes.
Gliding through the sweet cotton, open, waiting,
moon reflects the light on the Pacific far below.

Dream closet opens.

Pen's Oil

"Synthetic oil is better, but not for the reasons you said. Its smooth on the engine, minimizes wear and tear. Mileage? Well, that might show some improvement, but not a significant amount, not like the wear and tear factor."

She adds a packet of natural sugar to the teapot, pours some into a cup and nods. "Perhaps some synthetic oil will minimize wear and tear on me," sipping her tea.

The waitress stood next to the table, a pot in each hand. "Sir, can I hot that up for you?"

"Yeah sure, thanks. The decaf, please."

She filled his cup from the orange handled pot. "Creamers?"

He nodded. She took a handful from her pocket, dropped them on the table and turned to the next booth. "Ma'am, would you like some more coffee?"

He continued."Perhaps. Don't count on it. You need more than oil to minimize the wear and tear on your moving parts. Lots more." He broke his muffin in half, then in half again. "Would you like a piece?"

"No. I'm fine."

"You are that." He picks up a segment and eats it. "Muffins are an oil-based cake. Real food oil, canola oil, corn oil, olive oil. Not synthetic oil. Not margarine."

"True. You can't make muffins from margarine, from products containing trans fat."

"No, you can't." He nods, still chewing the segment of muffin. "No. Muffins are muffins. Why did you say we have to talk?"

"Because we do."

"Talk, not do?"

"Talk, not do."

"Oh." He takes another bite, swallows his coffee and stares into the empty mug. He swirls the grinds up the side of the mug, but cannot read what it says. "Oh."


"Well. What about? We haven't even seen each other in weeks. I thought we elected to forego discussion."

"I think we need closure. I think I need closure."

"Did somebody die? You disappeared, not me. We need closure? You need closure? Psychobabble. Closure. Huh. You are so full of it." He breaks up the last segment of muffin. Crumbs litter the table.

She licks her forefinger and picks up some of the crumbs, then sucks them off her finger.

"I thought you didn't want any."

"I don't."

"You don't want any when I offer you the whole thing, but you pick up the crumbs? The garbage? You can have it all and you take trash."

"Uhh... excuse me, sir, ma'am. Would you like anything else? Or will that be all?" The waitress stood, uneasy.

"No, just the check. We're done here. Thank you." She places the check on the table.

He glances at it, pulls out his billfold. Selects a ten and a five, hands them to the waitress. "Here. No, keep the change."

She listens to this with half an ear, thinking. Why was she picking up his crumbs, his leavings, his cast-offs? If the wear and tear left her worn and torn, were crumbs all she deserved?

He stands, glares at her. "I don't get you, I don't get you at all. Why did you call me? Why bother? Why engage? So you can keep me hoping? You like holding the leash, don't you? Yeah, psychobabble, it's what you do, put labels on things, on feelings. You'd rather label than feel. All the time, analyzing, defining. Fine. I'm going to throw it back at you now. Why?"

"Why? I don't know. I thought you'd want to know why I dropped off the face of the earth."

"Six weeks you don't take my calls, answer my email, nothing. There's a reason? Besides the usual chaos of your life? Another reason? What story are you going to tell me this time? I know you. I've known you how long now? What is it, two, three years already? I know what's going on. You think I'm stupid? Do I really need to hear this? Do I?"

"I dunno."

He drops his napkin on the table and walks out.

She licks her finger again, presses it against the table. Pour tea into his mug and drinks.