Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season. Here in Central Florida, where hurricanes never hit, it's a phrase that provokes yawns and perhaps some gloating over the coastal inhabitants who routinely are evacuated to the general environs of the Happiest Place on Earth.

Until I moved here and my life fell apart.

For more than forty years, no hurricane had traversed either I4 or the Turnpike, but that year, the year I realized my carefully constructed world had crumbled, a Class 4 hurricane flew right up I4, detoured onto 417 East and blew the roofs off homes within an eight-mile radius of the house I lived in. Not my home, not even my house, but merely "the house I lived in" and please don't argue semantics with me. Please.

All around, there were trees uprooted, power lines down, pool screens adrift like giant dragonflies, buildings turned to rubble and the house I lived in, that despised place which had seen the apocalypse, that place built to the latest hurricane code, circa 1998 post Andrew, even that new construction sitting in the eye of the storm, suffered obvious damage.

Let's not discuss the damage inside, which was just that, inside and invisible. But the external, well, there is no such thing as coincidence.

The walls separated from the floor, the house tried to rip itself off its moorings, disown the earth, and join the merry mishmash spinning skyward. The northeast corner of the house flooded, water seeping, flowing, gushing as the crack grew.

That corner? The master bedroom suite sits in that corner, the northeast corner.

It flooded and became unusable, which was fine, as it hadn't been used for anything except fitful sleeping, hugging the far side of the bed, as far away from possible accidental contact with anyone else who might be there as possible. The only lovemaking in that bed was between me and fear.

Hurricane season spun me around and spat me out the other side.

For which I am grateful.

Because years later, during another hurricane season when there were no hurricanes but only a symphony of tropical storms and lightening strikes, so much wet in that not-hurricane season, I found myself in a new home with a bedroom in the southwest corner, facing rosy coral sunsets, a room which seems destined for everything except sleep, a room where the torrid nights are inspired by the maelstrom outside and not the other way around.

I rejoice in that room which keeps me close, encourages me to dance in the rains, the same rains which poured down my prison bars years earlier and then blew them apart. I stand outside, now, stand there in the downpour, counting the seconds of the flash, wondering what this year will bring.

I'm not afraid now.

I'll never be afraid again.

Hurricane season: it destroys. And I rebuild.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Separation Anxiety

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder
Well, perhaps, for some, for persons wiser than I
Not me
Too many absences from my life to add another
Expect I'd be used to it, absences
Gaps in my life like spaces in a bookshelf,
where the adjoining books fall over, spread out, trying to fill in
They don't
The shadow is still there, pulling me, reminding me something once...
How do I ignore what isn't there?

Maybe they were talking about absinth

Modern Art

They were your typical, pretentious, artsy-fartsy devotees of the oeuvre, given to hyperbole and polysyllabic vocabulary such as senescent, canard and effluvia, which they used but didn't necessarily know the meaning of, nodding their heads in agreement or cocking them to one side to show deep consideration of the opinion expressed, before either nodding or arguing the opposite most vociferously, even if they didn't sincerely hold that view but enjoyed the questionable glee of playing devil's advocate or dogged supporter.

They drank double espressos, smoked cigarillos, not cigarettes which kill [besides, cigarillos cost at least three times as much as Camels, so they must be better], shopped at Zabar's, Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca but never, ever set foot in a regular supermarket or mass market retailer. They had the nanny or the housekeeper pick up toilet paper and canned goods at Target, pronounced Tar-jay, and carry the purchases up in a recyclable bag with the bull's-eye logo.

Milling around the gallery, sipping Chardonnay and nibbling brie encrusted with cranberries on multigrain crackers, snatching rumaki [so retro it's chic!] or spanakopita from paper lace covered trays, they exclaimed, gazing at the epiphanic work of the exhibit:

That streak of white-it speaks to me.
So evocative of Pollack.
The whole scenario, it's, it's, it's the Vagina Monologues writ loud.
See where the artist channels Gentileschi right there.
I can't get enough. Sweetheart, do you think it'll fit on the library wall, if we clear all the furniture out so there's room for the piece to be properly appreciated?
I've followed her since she was a student at Pratt.

Buzz, buzz, buzzword. The critics were in their glory, pandering to each other, upping the ante with each glowing phrase.

Then the artist entered, frowned, and removed the buckets.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Even after it's fixed, there's a scar.
She'll always be aware of the scar
betrayed by it
afraid it will reopen.
She knows there is no logic to this
every scar she's ever had before healed imperfectly,
leaving fissures which caught on hangnails and velvet nap.
She crawls closer to the edge, then turns around.
Balm in Gilead might not complete the healing, might only soothe the pain
push it down to where its not slapping her in the face.
For now, that will do.
For now, that is a beginning.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dearly Not Yet Departed

sss sss sss that soft rasp...
Do I know you?
Do I know you any longer?
Grey tinged, hairless, curled,
skin breaking away in pieces, bedsores.
In the olden days, before medical interventions of extraordinary measures,
I'd have held a candle to your lips, waiting for the exhale, the last exhale,
the exhale that leaves the light burning.
In the olden days.
But now, I watch the monitors, blip-blip-blip, etching you on thin strips of green paper.
Kissing you, cool, dry, kissing you goodbye last night, tonight, and I think, tomorrow night, too.
The goodbye kisses will go on as long as there is paper to feed through the machine,
writing your long agos and maybe somedays and most of all, your nows in ink
that will be stored away, protecting someone somewhere from possible future liability issues.
I carry you, inhale your exhalation and the blue flames rise, guiding a chisel on granite.
It writes your name, but it doesn't write you.
I write you. I write you inside me. I write you.

Leaky Elbow

He stared at the notorious plumber's butt crack protruding from the man's jeans. The tattoo above that crack, rising from it, more common for a woman to have a flowery tramp stamp, but not unheard of for a man, shifted. He wondered if the flower snaked around to the front, and if it did, where it ended.

"I'll just give this another twist and you'll be all set." The man adjusted the wrench? plier? tooly-thingy-ma-jigger? and turned it gently. "Okay, that should hold it. Let me see here." The man wiped the join with a rag, then rubbed the rag on his cheek.

He wished he was a rag on that cheek.

"Nice and dry. No more problems with this here set of pipes. Now, it'll take me fifteen minutes or so to get that wall sealed back up and my tools packed away and you won't even know I was here."

He died a little then. The last thing he wanted was to not know the man had been here.

"You have any problems with this or any other fixture, you give me a call, here's my card, you stick that on your frigerator, I'll be over ASAP. Anything else you want me to look at long as I'm here? You're already paying for a service call." The man puttied the wonderboard back into place. "Rio, 1963-1987" danced on his bicep.

"You wait an hour or so, you paint over this. You want me to write it up now?" The man pulled an invoice set from his folder, entered a series of codes, totaled it on a pocket calculator. He ripped the top sheet off and handed it over. "Here. You can make a check out or call in a credit card. We take all the major cards."

The man bent over, revealing the flowers again, replacing his tools in the case. "You remember, ‘Trojan Plumbing Satisfies Every Time. No Job Too Big, No Job Too Small. We Clean Your Pipes and Fix Them All.'" The plumber extended his hand. "A pleasure, sir, a real pleasure. You have a nice day now and thank you for your business."

"Yes. A pleasure. Thank you for coming. Thank you." What he wouldn't give to see all the tattoos and piercings hiddden under that "Trojan Plumbing-No more drips, leaks or breaks!" tee shirt and jeans. What he wouldn't give...

That Smell

The shirt smells.
Clean, from the drawer, but it smells.
Chemicals, sweat, sulphur, decomposition.
Is it the water? The detergent?
Or the pack of animals with full time run of the house?
I slip it on and choke back bile.
Cigarette soaked hair smells better than this,
this not-scent of wet fur but something worse, far worse.
I scrub with bleach, but the damned smell won’t come out.