Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Black Thing

im going to stay here until they go away
im going to stay right here in the closet
oh stop smirking not that kind of closet
no one in this family is in that kind of closet
im in a for real closet                                                                                                            
my favorite closet way up on the top shelf sprawled across the hatboxes of military helmets collapsible toppers berets fedoras souwesters and bowlers where i can inhale the leather scent of the mans jackets  

its quiet up here with the good smell of leather and man sweat
i dont like the hubbub the crowds in the living room kitchen bedrooms
even the bathroom where the man keeps my box
the apartment is full of people
the mans sister
his friend
his friends siamese bitch
yes i know a bitch is a dog but i am using the other meaning of the word
you dont insult my intelligence and i wont insult yours
at least ill try not to insult yours whatever intelligence you have anyway

so many other people that i am dizzy with the smells
i am too old and fat to avoid their legs
keep their heels off my tail and their hands off me
i dont like when they touch me 
i dont like strange people touching me
i belong to the man
im not even sure how i managed to get up here
its been years since i climbed the coats but now i am here
up on top of the hatboxes in the warm quiet
so quiet up here away from everything everyone all over
im going to stay up here until they go away and the man helps me down

i hope he comes soon
he should be looking for me i think 
such a long time since he fed me
since anyone fed me even the mans friend or the mans sister
they give me dry food but the man shares real food with me and I bring him presents
okay I used to bring him presents when I was younger
he even made a poster for the door with a scorecard because he is proud of my hunting
ill just take another little nap while i wait

its late

its so very late

i know its late because im very hungry and i want down

when the man gets me ill pretend to be annoyed and hiss but i hope he comes soon
maybe when he gets me down he will be sorry for forgetting me and he will hold me and give me treats and stroke my fur and play make believe and put me in the hats and take pictures of me like we used to do before when we were young and sleek and not grey anywhere

hes gotten so thin
i wish i could give him some of my fatness
i wish i could

im so fat now i take up his whole lap and the rest of the sofa too 
he pushes me off because his stomach hurts all the time so I go up on the back of the sofa to nuzzle his neck and watch the fireplace with him

i know what ill do
ill call him and he will come and reach way up and say come here black thing you silly old black thing what are you doing up there all alone and pull me down and hold me and take me to sit on the sofa with him

im going to call him now



oh man come get me man
if you get me down we can sit in the living room and i will do the firefly dance on the windowsill and play peekaboo with the curtains to make you laugh and i will bring you a present
oh maaaaaannnn my man come get me please

i wish he'd come get me
im lonely up here
i dont want to be up here anymore

why doesnt he come
he always comes when i call
where is he            
where is my man

i wish everyone would just go away already so the man can get me and sit on the sofa with me and watch the fireplace and eat sardines right out of the can and itll be me and him and everything will be okay like before

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Staring at the out of focus mirror, at the baby smooth skull, I smile. There is a safety razor on the edge of the bath, and I know the blades will be counted later.
I’m not allowed to keep the extras, not since they found out that I’d found out and tried to make a quick and almost painless blink but since then I’d acceded to their wishes,
drank the Kool-Aid and lain in the hum hum hum machines.
They do give me a little bit of privacy.
The soap lather is slick, squishy, making quick work of my final depilation.
If I make myself bald now, then I will be bald all over.
I can’t reach my back, but I think that’s pretty hairless anyway.
I look like one of those very naked mannequins, hairless and sexless.
I won. Not them.
I tricked them, tricked them all, not waiting for the hum hum hum machine to take my hair, take my sex, take my me.
I’m going to use a whole bottle of lotion now and make me feel pretty.
And then I’ll count the stitches on my ribs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Quiet is Underwhelming

We’re too silent now. I know, we promised silence, misguided thing that silence is, thinking silence is the same as comfort, that silence is the absence of strife.

It’s not. It’s just silence.

Except when it is another symptom of yet another cause, another reaction to another unknown.
Walls, gates, moats,
Wagons, caves, motes.
We build so much, wanting something different.
We know what we don’t want, everyone knows what they don’t want-or they think they do.
That is the easy part, knowing what you don’t want: vanilla ice cream, brussels sprouts, sardines.
But doing something you don’t do so you’ll get something you don’t have...

It’s time.

I’m taking down walls, storming gates, crossing moats.
I’m slipping between wagons, searching caves, removing motes from our eyes.
From both our eyes.
Put away stubborn, pride, inflexible. Put away fear.
How could I think less of you when I am so so far from the shadow of perfect myself, staring at perfect’s ass, so far behind I am in a lapped field on the verge of being pulled?
Beat down stubborn, pride, inflexible-more you does not mean less me.
The fallout and backlash anticipated, those are just shards from another goblet thrown by someone else, not me, never by me, and missed by the vacuum cleaner.

I’ve been there.
So take me to the common ground and we will open out mouths, let words pour out, smudge the chalk art in the driveway and the lines in the sand, cross the boundaries leading to a new place where no one cowers in the closet behind the winter coats and worn out sneakers and crumpled scraps of gift wrap.
We’ll go there, speak untested, unafraid and be silent together later.


I am a feral dog fighting over rancid meat.

Scared, wild, hungry.
Sniffing, snarling. Stay away!
All slowly dying.

You think we’re human?
No, poverty took us down
to woods alleys graves.

Invisible now,
feel their cold breath on your neck,
hear their echo howls.

Goodbye Girl

He stood over the shredder, feeding it, watching it gulp his former life, their life and spit out confetti destined to soak up bird poop and urine in the bottom of a large cage.
It gulped so hard it pulled the papers from his hand, reminding him of the plant in "little Shop of Horrors’, of quicksand, of the days she nursed their younglings, their frantic sucking, the milk spurting everywhere and her becoming thinner and paler as their bellies rounded hard., excess spewing out their little bottoms an inhale later.
He fed more into the shredder.
Her bank card.
Her checkbook.
Her photos.
Her passport.
Her notebooks filled with lies.
Her flashdrives, disks and tapes.
All that contained her, the machinations of her multi phasic mind.
He fed it.
When the hopper was full for the third time, he went out back and dumped the bits and bytes into a hole, shoveled dirt over it and turned the tarp. It was, if not a good feeling, certainly satisfying.
He called the girls to lay violets on the mound and, slowly, slowly they walked back into the house, one by one.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Naegleria Fowleri [Brain Parasite]

"Work gives life meaning, a sense of purpose, makes you feel your day was worth something."

Crashes in my head, tide roiling over the boardwalk, pulling human detritus out to mid-sea where passing cruise ships will wonder just how THAT got out there, turn the panaceas into so much white noise.

Work locks the demons in the closet, skinny fingers claw under the edge, desperate to reach the doorknob so they can come out and guide me to the TECO oven and sing me a lullaby , perchance to dream of happier days.

The Future is Invisible and So am I

     "You know, we’re at a crossroads? That things are going to change, evolve? Whether we want it or not, change is inevitable. Trite, but true, and the changes outside are going to impact us. How we deal with them, cope, in the end, it’ll be okay, we’ll be okay."
     I hear his voice, words I wish I heard, but it is all imaginary. He says nothing, staring at the papers, document sets, email chains, the bottom piece removed from a Jenga pile and the resulting crash.
     He says nothing.
     That is my position, silence, not his. My standard operating procedure, mode du jour. He has no right to usurp my place in the relationship, no right to mystery, circumspection, privacy, reticence.  How am I supposed to respond? Do I take his role, wiggle my ears, turn cartwheels, cajole? I am clueless. The endless ramble voice I wish I heard strangles whatever my tongue might dance.
     "This is a good thing. It’s time, more than time and now we’ll be able to move forward to another level, we really will. Just think, baby doll! No. don’t think, babe, feel! Let yourself feel, babe! I love you and this is good, it’s all good. You’ll see. I’ll be fine, we’ll be fine, more than fine, better than ever."
     But the fantasy in my head, whispering sweet nothings, protestations of eternal love and rose strewn silk sheeted beds and microchip diamond rings, the voice promising tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, stays there, in my head, hammering my brain, not swirling down my helix to caress my tympanic membrane. The ossicles spin, measure and cut in a padded room.
     He says nothing as he folds the papers back into their standard sized envelope, adorned with a certified return receipt required edge, nothing as he scrolls the numbers in his cellphone, nothing as he fills a duffle bag with pants and shirts and socks but not the photos he took of me.
     Nothing as he throws the bag into the back of the car.
     Nothing as he turns the corner.
     Nothing as he gets onto the Interstate.
     Nothing as he watches the odometer climb.
     Nothing as
     Nothing as
     Nothing as
     The air conditioner clicks on and the temperature drops a few degrees, startling me. I lift the needle from the scratch, worn through to the turntable, on the 33 rpm. I suppose I could burn it to a CD or MP3 player, but what would be the point?
     It will still be stuck in limbo.

Secret Life of an American Wife

Secret Life of an American Wife
Surrounded by secrets-What are we hiding, anyway?
I know, I know what lurks in the hearts of all
and it is not evil, not anything that exciting or creative, no
it is fear
it is resignation
it is past hope, devoid of redemption
See! That one over there? 
He lives behind Walmart, in the truck he bought, used, when he finished high school.
Her? She skips her insulin and lunch was dumpster diving.
The greyhair across the room? She drives without insurance and will be relieved when they repossess.
Young man with frayed jeans? He moved back in with his parents and her sister and her kids.
But they all smile and pretend and make like they’re going to work and class and and and
and oh my, yes, education and integrity are so important, of course, yes sir, I will, thank you, and we all want more of this and and and
I know their secrets, how close, shoulders burning, white fingertips clutching at the precipice, they are to falling. I know.
I have secrets of my own.

Wellwood D14

He’s pushing up daisies through the hedgerow
I waited too long before, too long since
The blip in my life that was us
Grey roads and heat wave ripple air before,
tree root broken sidewalks and tsunami wind since
I lie down, partly hidden by the bushes
Soon, I will take his hand and we will push up daisies together.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue

     "Momma, Momma, I didn’t mean it, Momma. I don’t know..."
     My girl stands there, holding a rag doll, a muddy rag doll that used to be my light, my angel, my joyful noise in the morning, in her hands.
     "Momma, I think I broke it. Can you fix it, Momma? Can you? You fix everything, Momma. Can you? Please?"
     I stare at the flat eyes, greyed skin, fingerless nails. I, who rewired lamps, cleared elbows, soldered cracked engine blocks, I, who fix just about anything, I knew I couldn’t fix this. No one could fix this, not even God. No one.
     I shake my head.
     "Momma, please, Momma. Can’t you try? I don’t know who else to ask, Momma."
     I shake my head again, so cold except for the urine I realized was streaming down my leg.
     "Momma, help me. You can, you have to, Momma."
     The uneven plaster on the wall snags my shirt and keeps me upright while I shake my head. I watch the spinning colors behind my eyelids. I cannot look at what is in front of me.
     "Momma, if you can’t fix it, can you make it go away? Momma?"
     I swallow and nod yes.

Sushi: A Fish by Any Other Name is Still a Fish

Lying, cheating whoremonger.
He’d rather sit there, staring, contemplating a ‘relationship’
with her. Not me.
I scroll my email logs, going back.
Fourteen months, twenty-three days.
So many broken promises in those fourteen months, twenty-three days.
It made me not like myself, the me I was with him.
The needy, whining, shutting my eyes to truth, ignoring the elephant conga line snaking around the room, head pounding me I became with him.
If I don’t respect myself, why should he?
If I don’t value myself, why should he?
Why should anyone?
So many broken promises in those fourteen months, twenty-three days.
The last trip, the test trip which I didn’t know was a test and was doomed to fail, questions written on decomposing paper with disappearing ink, letters rearranging themselves faster than a speeding bullet which stops in the cinder block wall behind my head, which ended in a bout of hepatitis A for me after eating oysters in August.
The realization that he was emailing her from my computer and clearing the cache in a futile attempt to keep me from knowing he was making plans
with her. Not me.
So many broken promises in those fourteen months, twenty-three days.
You want her, you want to fill your belly with sushi?
Go ahead. Eat. Eat as much as you can.
Eat, and when you are hungry an hour later, eat some more. Enjoy.
But she won’t take fourteen months, twenty-three days of broken promises to move on.
I have lost my taste for raw foods, for duplicity.
Give me hard-cooked eggs, pasturized milk, blackened catfish and grilled bok choy.
No more broken promises. Ever ever.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Meaning [lessness] of Life

One more in a long line of one mores
Aphorisms swirl through the brain, trite and treacle,
knitting a shawl that wouldn’t keep a newt warm
No, not even a newt
There is so much rejection before "I can’t take it anymore" sets in good and hard
So good and hard all I want is to be amontilladoed in
before I hear dirges of accept and utilize, accept and utilize
Accept and utilize is a curse, not an inspiration
before the good cop bad cop shuffle has me confessing to crimes
I haven’t even heard of and couldn’t imagine

If I turn it inside out, struggle, nails claw chalkboard, to make this another learning experience
I am too old for this BS anyway
But if I do-
There is a truism, that fishing is like life
Not the cast your reel and you will surely catch something
Not even the teach a man-or woman-to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime
but my own variant,
My own, "If I don’t do what I’ve always done, I’ll get something I haven’t already got"

Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for life
There is no bait
There is no hook
There is a broken reel
The ocean is so dense with salt, so full of tears, it cannot sustain life
So teach me to fish, hookless, baitless, broken
Let me cast my reel into barren water and watch me pull in a 1978 Bridgestone tyre
Watch me

Amabo te, fame deliria. Videro finem, exitum...
Da mihi piscis, piscis, amabo te. Lac humanus beneficii, amabo te.
Just give me a fish, just for now, to fill my mouth with sweet
calm the spasms for a little while
feed me enough for today, I won’t ask again tomorrow
I know I’ve worn out whatever welcome I had

Amabo te. I am the chum. Please.
Even if life is perfect in chance, in equity, in fairness,
[Who said life was fair, anyway?]
all the skills/training/certification/experience
when chance or unspoken paradigm intercede
and move a half meter to my left for the catch du jour
while all around, dozens doing pretty much similar with similar get

Life is a banquet, but most poor fools are starving,
while mouse rejected crumbs litter the table
and the Maid of Honor, never a bride, is the designated driver of a limo,
gas tank hovering on empty, who can’t even numb the hurt with Patron

Please, I am delirious with want. I see the end, the final end...
Give me a fish, a fish, please. The milk of human kindness, please.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Return of Who?

Bad Girl stood there, silent, eyes downcast, pink leather collar dangling from her left hand.
Master stared through the pier window. She couldn't see him, not only because her eyes were down, but because of the crazed one-way glass. Even if she had looked up, stared right at him, all she'd see was a kaleidoscope reflection of herself. On his side of the glass, inside this house, he could be any denim clad statue, himself, the housekeeper or any of the train wreck of roommates he'd had since she'd disappeared three years ago. He opened the door.
"So who are you today? Cassie?" chucking her under the chin. "Alice, maybe? No, you're not. Are you Bad Girl?" She flinched, shook her head. "Are you Bad Girl come to see me? Come back to me for whatever god-forsaken selfish reason you could have? Come back to me to fix whatever nasty mess you've gotten into this time? Hmm? What now?
"Drugs? Alcohol? Work? Mick? Jerkwad still hanging around? Cynthia? Some one else? Someone new or shall I just go through the list of usual suspects? Stop your crying, I can't stand your BS. Come in, you're causing a scene. I don't need Gladys Kravitz calling the HOA on me."
She shivered as the air conditioning hit her, so much colder than when she was in and out all the time. He never ran the AC when she was there, called his bedroom "the little rain forest" but with only himself to please, or himself and whoever wasn't her, he had at a more typical temperature. The in-line skates, the orange and brown sweater draped over the chair, so not like him, alien to her memory, added another layer of cold. How much had he changed?
Master pulled a throw off the sofa and draped it around her. "Stop shaking. Come on. I'll boil water for tea. Cassie... please." Filling the kettle, fear and disgust played ring around the rosy in his mind, desire and love, yes, love, played in his heart. What was she doing here? "Why don't you put the collar on? That's why you're here? You need me to tell you? Put it on, go ahead."
She stood there, still except for the shivering.
"Yeah, you know better. Wear it with anyone else, no, no. Mine, that's it, right? You returning to your rightful owner? Huh, yeah, rightful owner. Sure, tell myself another lie. I never owned you, not even a fragment. Bitch owns me, though, heart and soul, she does. Did I say that? Here. Drink your fucking tea.
"So I guess you're here just because you missed me? I already lowered the AC, don't worry about hypothermia. Drink."
She looked at him, then into the mug, trying to read the leaves but could only see the stains left inside by long ago nights. They were all Greek or Serbo or anything she couldn't read anyway. She took a sip. "I shouldn't be here. I have to go."
He says nothing, but takes her arm and leads her into the living room. He removes the orange and brown sweater, pushes her towards the chair. She curls up in it, sips the tea. That chair, the same chair he was sitting in, reading "I am a Strange Loop" the day she left, closing the door with a gentle click of the knob. Her toothpaste and nail polish were still on the bathroom vanity.
In the few minutes it took to register that she was gone gone gone, no answer to email phone letter, he even sent flowers to her office, everything marked ‘return to sender unknown' he lost his taste for philosophy. He left the book on a fast-food table.

They Say

They say it’s easy to see, looking backwards
They say every chicken finds it’s own roost
They say if you wait long enough, it’s all good
They say, they say, they say it’s god’s truth

Well, I say I don’t want to wait no more
I’m sick and tired of passed over
I’m going through that door
No more searching and waiting on four leaf clover

The say sunshine rises to the one who heard
They say keep working at your post
They say it’s hidden in the word
They day, they say, they say prayer is for the just

Well, I say I don’t want to wait no more
I’m sick and tired of passed over
I’m going through that door
No more searching and waiting on four leaf clover

They say it’s a matter of getting the right card
They say change rumbles coast to coast
They say if you believe it’s not hard
They say, they say, they say love God the most

Well, I say I don’t want to wait no more
I’m sick and tired of passed over
I’m going through that door
No more searching and waiting on four leaf clover

Well, I say I don’t want to wait no more
I’m sick and tired of passed over
I’m going through that door
No more searching and waiting on four leaf clover

Me and Maybe You, You and Maybe Me

I photoshopped myself into your life
I was your buddy, your girlfriend, your wife
Played with shapes and shadows
Put myself in the highways and byblows

I cut and pasted into your past
Made myself your first and last
Call me crazy, call me obsessed
Call me, call me, call me, call...

Do you know who I am?
I’m your strawberry pudding and jam
Can’t you see where I belong?
Where you’re weak, I am strong.

Do you hear angel harps?
I am your flats and your sharps.
I’m the one you can’t escape
No such thing as coincidence, I am your fate

You’ll be fine, shh, hush, now sleep
Accept, let me in, breathe deep

I cut and pasted into your past
Made myself your first and last
Call me crazy, call me obsessed
Call me, call me, call me, call...

Life is Rolling Thing

I’ve found I can live with anything
Torment of a broken soul
Seizure of a schism heart
Yes, I can
Yes, I have
but I can’t live with fear
Icicles in my eyes and paralysis of my hands
and pulse of blood slower slower and so cold
oh my god, the cold
No, that I cannot live with
I can live without you
a bone splitting I can take, take easily, take fine
just fine, everything will be fine
but the powerpoint possibilities you flash
hypnotize me to sleep, perchance to dream
of a place I cannot, will not go.

Ropes and Ties that Bind

Every rope wants to be a noose
they lie there, so politely curled in on themselves
just waiting
I’ve watched them
when they think no one is looking
just past my peripheral vision
casting a shadow
as they test the ceiling rafters

Saturday, May 28, 2011

More and Other HBKs: They are Everywhere and They Look Just Like Every Other House

"Hey, Miz W, what's gone on in your life since I saw you last? How are the girls? They working? Both still living with you or has Gwen moved out again?"
"I'll tell you, they are a blessing. You know, Gwendolyn has a great position at Price Waterhouse."
"She got it? Oh that's great, she wanted that so bad."
"Mmm. She loves it there and they love her. She is getting it all there."
"Well, she should. Smart, hard-working, talented, beautiful, good tempered. Lot like her momma, if you ask me."
"Thank you, child. All Jesus doing."
"Amen. And how's Genny? She back in school?"
"You know my Genny. She, she jess needs a little more time to get acclimated than some folk do, a helping hand on her back to guide her a bit, but she do right once she gets points that ways."
"Leastwise it's a helping hand on her back and not on her backside, like some need."
"Child, you do make me laugh! But yes, a gentle push now and then to keep her moving on her track, plenty of others could use the same but no one to give it to them. She's in this program, part work, part school. Likes it well enough, pushing papers around and around. Don't know how Gwen or I would feel about that, we like talking too much to real people to push papers or do that Internet frou-frou stuff, but it suits my Genny just fine."
"Be proud, momma, she hasn't had it easy. She is doing so much with what she has, be proud. And what's going on with you? Teaching, selling, training? Where are you living now, every time we talk it's somewhere else."
"I tell you, child, that is true. I have had no luck the past few years with living places. We've know each other five, six years now and I've lived in more places than that but right now we're down in Kissimmee, real nice two bedroom apartment."
"What about that big house you were renting, over down the street, the one that was all redone for you? Gwen told me you had new carpets, appliances, a garage even..."
"That house? That house! That was the Original House of Bad Karma, Hunter's Creek! You know they had to repaint the outsides three times cause the red kept bleeding right through the grey, cream, whateverall color they were trying to paint it!"
"Wait. You mean the house you moved into last year was THAT house? The one across the street from the park? Back of the fence, I mean the divide?"
"Yes, child, that one!"
"Oh no, Miz W, if I'd known that was the house, oh if I'd known, I'd've warned you right then that place is evil! I rode past it, sure, but on the other side of the street. I didn't even like driving past it, could feel it clawing out at me. You know it had two major fires? You know people died in those fires?"
"Yes, they told us before we moved in. More and more on top of what was already there. Getting new blood to feed it on top of the old, pulling down on itself anyway it can. That second floor they added, it was not right, not ever. We looked at that house, we went in through the front door and said, this is nice, this is very nice."
"How long were you there? Wait , as strong as you are, how'd you ever move in?"
"Few weeks. Work was still going on when we saw it, that's why we never did see the garage til after. Place had been empty for a year or so, we got it all new and shiny.
"And then we went up to that second floor. Whatever it was in the garage, it came right up through the floor, cold cold cold, room was so much colder than the rest of the house which sounds like a good thing but no, believe me, no."
"You know this whole area is built on Indian burial grounds? Or so I'm told?"
"I believe that, why not? That house, the fires and the stains... My Genny, she swears something slammed the door on her hand and one time she was going up the stairs and something grabbed her and pulled her and she fell over backwards, nearly broke her neck. We moved out after my Genny got pulled that night. Next morning, we just packed right up and called the owner and told him he could keep the security."
"Smart. Expensive, but smart."
"You should've seen it, like the Amityville horror all over again. Stuff dripping down the walls, nasty mold growing up from the floor. Course, that could have been from the hurricanes, they went right over although maybe the hurricanes were more and the same. Mm-mm, the noises... All hours of the day and night, there were these noises that came from the closets.
"We didn't move any stuff up to the second floor, that was going to be Gwendolyn's own private apartment, but then she decided to room with Genny, that it just was too much trouble to be going up and down the stairs when she works such long hours. I don't even want to think what would have been if Gwen or my Genny had been sleeping up there. I don't want to think about it.
"Miz W, that scares me, you living there, even if it was just for a while. Please tell me the new place is better?"
"Better and boring. Boring is good. I don't know why folks is always badmouthing Kissimmee, it's old and sturdy and boring and the rumors of it being full of crackers, well, I'm from New York but I have family from Ocoy or and my kind don't live there."
"Ocoy, up past Colonial, where the Turnpike crosses it."
"Ocoy? Ocoee!"
"You say Ocoee, I say Ocoy, that's how the Cherokee pronounce it, or that's what my granddaddy claimed anyways. Me, I still wouldn't live in that part of town, but some black folk do, now. Yes, child, that house, surprising to both of us that I didn't smell the angry in it."
"It was hiding."
"I hope it stays hidden, good riddance and far away. Meanwhile, we all gots to live while we can. More air we blow here, good air that is, righteous air, rich oxygen air, more air going round to light God's candles and snuff Satan's right out."
"You burn bright, Miz W. You give those girls of yours a bit hug and kiss for me. Let me give you some articles I clipped for them, but you bring them next time.
"Thank you darling, I'll say a prayer for you, too."
"Amen, Miz W. Can't hurt, especially an old reprobate like me."
"No, can't hurt, child, can't hurt a bit."

A Night In Funland

"We have a winner! Here ya go, little lady, pick any prize off the top shelf. Every time a winner, folks, every time! All ya gots to do to win is play the game!"
She turned around, confused. A winner? There's a winner? Not her? Who? The barker had his hand on a girl's shoulder, not her, a girl with a Cleopatra drape of light blue beaded dredlocks.
Why her? Why not me? How come I never win? And no, I don't care if there is a next time, if I can play again later or tomorrow, I don't care what he says, I'm never the winner. I'll never walk out of here with a four foot Scooby Doo and everyone going ooh and ahh at me. Not ever.
She wasn't sure how she ended up on the curb, leaning against a light post, but the brigade of fire ants marching up her ankle was just one more line on her list of "Bad Luck Lori Stories." Tonight, she should have been snuggling up with a sawdust filled, imported from China, cartoon character and instead she'd be slathering her feet with antibiotic and antihistamine ointments, hoping to avoid a visit to the doctor and a ten day regimen of cefalexin.
Maybe a twistee-treat would turn this night into a not quite total waste, but her pocket was empty of the eight single dollars left after playing a few rounds at the water-pistol gallery. A man walked by holding a vanilla-strawberry and a chocolate-banana, leaning towers of ice cream, dripping sprinkles a Hansel and Gretel trail behind him. He handed the cones to his codfish mouthed kids. "Don't worry about finishing them, we're going to have funnel cake later."
Lori sat down again and let the ants resume their reconnaissance mission across her legs. She sat until the carnival closed, until she had to go home, until she couldn't sit any longer.

First, Last

"Alright, but this is the last time." There is never a last time, not with him, not with her. Every time is a first time or an again time or perhaps a last time for today, but never ever a last last time.
I love my disciples.
Adjusting the clinchers, I made a mental note to refurbish the linings. The padding was thinning out and that could be, if not dangerous, certainly uncomfortable. The zippers, too, needed a quick spray with WD-40, and the safety locks. They weren't as smooth as they should be.
I like my zippers quiet.
They look so pretty hanging there, nude except for their matching cuffs, hoods and those heavy, heart-shaped lockets attached to their collars, sweat running the formal lacework design I'd painted on earlier, a touch of whimsy provided by horsehair and Trimtex acrylic paint. I'd considered doing a sharpy design a la Jigglypuff, but removing sharpy from flesh is tedious.
Leaning back in the swing, I kicked until I could grab the handle by the switch-pad and flick it.. It would have been easier to walk, but the swing, a cutaway tire, amused me. It was so iconoclastic, so irreverant, to have an old tire swing here. I'd picked up a rotating clothes rack at a dry cleaner's going-out-of-business sale and it had proven to be one of the best investments I'd made in terms of furnishing my studio: inexpensive, unique, multipurpose. They swayed as the rack rotated through and around the room, toes a few inches from the floor.
Then Clara sagged and her foot caught against a sawhorse and broke off.
Oh, dear. That will never do.
I stopped the conveyor and picked up the foot. A clean break, quite dried out. I poked Wilhelm's limbs and torso. He was dried out, too. Were they that dried out when I painted them the other day? I'm not sure.
I released the clamps and removed the hoods. Yes, those zippers definitely needed a spray of WD-40. Folded them neatly into a barrel and threw Clara's foot in after her.
No more play time for them after all.
When we got to the dump, I rolled the barrel to the edge of the sludge pond. Gave it a gentle nudge. "Ready for a ride, children? Alright, but this really is the last time."

Contract Work

"Maynard stumbled over the slick, lichen cover rock. He was sure he had clambered over the same rock an hour before but who knew in this dense fog; he could barely see his hand in front of his face. If only he hadn't given in to that inquisitive urge to turn of the main highway and satisfy his curiosity. What a stupid decision that had been..."
"What a stupid decision? That's an understatement. Oh fuck, are they paying me enough to read this crap? No, they're not. Didn't even do basic spell/grammar check on this and now I'm supposed to do that and content edit?
"I can't even look at this, it's so full of mistakes. It is hurting my eyes, I want to put needles in them! Look at that screen, red, red, red, underlines, green, tick marks. Where am I supposed to put my edit notes, tell me that one.
"It's as bad as reading the Slantinel! Okay, fine, maybe not that bad. As bad as the New York Times, that once great grey lady who has sunk so far she buys copy from Huffpo/AOL.
"How much time did I budget for this anyway? One hundred twenty-one thousand words, single-spaced, 10.5 font. That comes out to 400 pages at a 12 font? I gotta get new glasses. Oh fuck, this turdlet isn't even a doc. The asswipe sent it as a pdf, now how am I going to work this? Enough. Where's my phone?
"Hey, Rik, I opened that project you subbed to me. Yeah, that one. Rik, did you look at it? No, Rik, not the word count, the content. Did you look at it? Didn't think so. It is so bad it is Braxton-Hicks contender. Fine, Bulwer-Lytton, dark and stormy night, yadda yadda.
"We agreed to what as my percent? Uhh huh. Well, I think we have to rethink this. It's a lot bigger than we were led to believe-and a whole lot uglier. Really.
"No, can't do that, not at this price point. Rik, it wasn't even spell-checked. I am staring at a checkerboard screen of red and black. Or maybe a backgammon screen, I dunno. Cribbage? Very not funny. So it's copy and content work. Fix the basic errors and then cut it down to ninety. That's a 25% cut. Which shouldn't be hard, having read the first paragraph. Easy deleting drivel, but making sense of it, seeing if there is a plot and character development here? I think the difficulty will be not cutting it by 75%.
"Rik, the protagonist is named Maynard. Do I really need to say more?
"Yeah, yeah, I love you, too. You're my hero. I'm your muffalato? In your dreams. Fine, get back to me later, big guy, would you? I've got youporn to watch, at least that doesn't make me ill. OMG, I can't believe it! Rik, Rik, it's the midget hooker! I'll send you the link. You're welcome. Well-cum. That, too.
"All right, I'll close this. There it is already.
"I love the smell of roasting flesh. It so much reminds me of bacon."
"I like this one. Great first line. Thank you, honey. Later."

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Terrors

The terrors are back
We’re not going to hurt you, no not us
We’re not going to sharpen our nails and drain your blood
or pierce your eyeballs
or pull out your throat
or bite off your fingers
No, not us.
We’re just going to sit here and watch while you do it.
You make out job so easy.
Thank you.


Given a moment to breathe
I’ll take gulps but find no oxygen
The insta-harden holding my lungs hostage
If it is not out there, where will I find it?

I can choose to believe or I cannot
Doesn’t matter what you say or do
I close myself and open to
A reality? A future? I can create
or I can stay closed.
I think I will sleep a while longer

Toy Cars and Other Fictions

The child, of that age and appearance where gender is indeterminate, pushes the toy car back and forth in the sandbox until it is buried. Grabbing a bedraggled sock monkey, runs off to another adventure in the land of playground, while I ponder retrieving the tiny vehicle from its cat litter grave.
I’ve heard there is a car cemetery somewhere in Florida, a row of cars standing on end, noses in the concrete, their own row of neat gravestones, near a major highway, but I’m not sure I believe it. Perhaps it is another urban myth, like the sewer gators who run the New York City subway system or the underground civilization in Section 9.
But the roof of that tiny car is violet, the same shade of violet as my first set of adult lingerie, bought for a once and future life which came to the end I did not anticipate a few short years ago. Violet ribbons threaded through the palest green lace, so pale it could have been green or a shadow from the light because it was hand-dyed and custom fitted with teeny-tiny pearl buttons.
They, the buttons that is, were also violet.
And the button loops were pale green, all sixteen of them, in a neat row down the front, way to small for a man’s fingers to manipulate. One by one, I undid those button loops I’d painstakingly done up a few hours earlier. One by one, the chemise fell away, leaving me naked, vulnerable.
I shove the car back into the sand box and hurry to push the child on the swings.

The House on Orange

My fake blond beauty sits, on the curb, head on her knees.
Open the back door, get into the car. Please get into the car. Please get into the car.
Get into the car.
Can you stand? Can you crawl?
Sway against the car, mascara smears, matted hair and a bruise on her collarbone,
visible through the tear in her shirt tell me more than I want to know
but not enough that I need to know.
Do I need to know?
Does it matter, will it make a difference if I know what nightmares are coming?
She curls into a ball across the back seat, thumb in her mouth,
as if she was still 18 months and not 18 years old.
The more things change the more they remain the same. Trite but too true.
Don't waste your breath apologizing, I know you're sorry, ever so sorry for everything,
for fucking up, for getting into trouble, for costing me so much in time and energy and money
and some parents would say the money is the last of it but they don't know.
This is just another 5 a.m. emergency pickup after too few hours of sleep and
if it takes too long and I'm not at work on time I'll be terminated, no questions or explanations.
The job market takes no prisons and gives no ransom.
Any absences or lateness are automatic cancellation and I don't know whether I'm more afraid of that,
of losing this crappy job with the only redeeming quality that it keeps us from homelessness for a few more months or if I'm more afraid that I'm not going to have a daughter to scream at any longer for being a stupid fucking idiot who is wrecking her life with her self-destructive behavior, that this emergency pickup will end in some city-run, Medicaid accepting hospital instead of a ride home and soaking her clothes to get the vomit smell out.
I just don't know.
I don't know anything, ever.
I make a U turn and head for home.