Before I came here to the great unknown,
my parents warned me to be wary of those with concealed arms.
They never had to dodge a bullet
but they made certain that I knew I had to know how.
Vigilance is a key
turned twice for
check them again.
they didn't tell me about you.
you, cold-seeker, breath-watcher, they didn't
tell me about your brown eyes honey voice, they didn't
tell me about how I would wait for you after dark to open
key in hand
waiting to turn it backwards twice because that would be when you arrived
on my doorstep books in arms, they
opened up to let me read.
then i knew i had to know how.
- a mason jar with broken lips
- the dead sparrow neither of us killed
- the bicycle i never rode
- your mother's apron string
- four cats in a yard
first, do no harm
so I wrap my arms
and fold my knees
at least I am alone.
the smell of popping corn is in the air. yet another strategy moulding into place the image of this wide-open space i hesitate to call my office. greg churns the kernels, that probably isn't his real name, but we'll take that and fly won't we, Red? that's what we do we take it and fly with it to great heights, illusions and falsity, we take them. greg.
i really hate your color, Red, but you can't help it, like i can't help myself, like i couldn't help myself last night when linda, you remember linda, mousy brown hair, thighs of a lumberjack and the voice to go with, when she said you're the skinniest in this program, gracie, you're the skinniest. and i smiled right, all big like this right now, i smiled and turned away so she couldn't see the victory spreading over my face like milky buttercream. no, linda, there's the other girl, mags, right? all limbs and long. linda snapped the heat off on the stove and her curry burped miserably four times in quick succession, little air monsters that grew like eggs and popped like balloons under a thick orange skin. linda said yeah, she shrugged and then went to bed.
i really hate your color Red, you're the color of that witch's hair, but she's no witch for real for real. just another girl like me, and maybe like you too Red. a girl with maybe acne scars and maybe a belly that remained in my hands when i squeezed squeezed real hard. but i demonized her at the same time i worshipped her. i worshipped her perfection and i hated it.
i have you Red, then I have a without-you state. swinging between seeing red and grey and black and white and its all about categorizing so i'll let you decide which little package you want to fall in and tie yourself up all pretty like a gift unwanted gift.
i'm picking pieces out of a brownie right now, mags said she didn't want it and then the other girl, the one who ate and ate and shrank and shrank (that's a demon for another day Red) grabbed it first and then when she was sleeping i stole in and took out a whole banging chunk to bring to work. now i'm eating it with my fingers and there's some stuck under my nails, nails i just got did LAST WEEK RED. Last Week. when the Head came down to do his checks and i was just so upset the whole time because he fed me sweets and sweetheart but i knew all the banging while he was banging HER. that witch. i saw you a lot that week Red, I saw you a lot. anyway, he went and he got me my nails done right? so i pick the quietest color. oh quietest color yes not the type that screams GREEN FOR GO TOP YOURSELF or pink for hey c'mere. i picked one that was two shades lighter than my skin color. and everytime i raised my hands to pick at the scab on my forehead or the scabs on my cheeks i'd see them and remember the Head and his stupid sweethearts.
see you later Red
there is a park slightly before the center of downtown Detroit,
which doesn't have a name.
It does have a fountain in the middle,
it does have rules,
and it has rulebreakers.
A lady in blue cycling past the security guard yelling at her to get off her bicycle.
It has birds,
I saw a pigeon standing on one foot,
silly guy, playing flamingo.
I saw a blackbird with a deep emerald neck,
"Hey little guy," I heard myself calling out, "You're beautiful, come here so I can take a closer look at ya."
I have become the lady that talks to thrushes.
two construction workers walking past,
smiling at me alone smiling alone at me
and my coffee cup.
"Have a wonderful day," they said,
the whole city wants me to have a wonderful day.
Let me tell you what Chicago is,
it is waves lapping against your right foot and gravel from the passing cars spitting upon your left.
It is a single man with a saxophone in a tunnel that goes nowhere,
another single man with flowers in a tunnel on a train going everywhere.
It is impersonal buildings that look the same and men in fishnets calling you "honey" "love" "baby" while flicking back your dressing room curtain to compliment the new dress you find yourself stumbling out onto the street in, having had no intention before to buy it.
It is a cat named Karma and cappuccinos with a view of Uno Pizzeria & Grill.
Above all, it is a city and this heart sings whenever it finds itself in one.
So maybe what I was trying to say is,
Chicago is a heartsong.
I've been feeling suspended in between spaces, and times.
I'll get my bearings back soon enough I'm sure.
one of my favourite lines in a song goes like this
"a tully device to make sinking stones fly"
I think the reason I love it so much is because I love the idea of sinking stones doing the opposite of what they're called to do. Levitating instead of dropping.
I think it's because I wish I had a tully device to do the same.
Instead of breaking hearts, breaking hearts mending.
Instead of crying lovers, crying lovers laughing.
Instead of dying souls, dying souls living.
I think the reason I love it so much is because,
I am so weighed down,
every goodbye a sinking stone around my neck,
I am ready to fly.
If I could curse
i would curse half the world
to forget everything
and the other half,
to remember it all.
could you imagine
the chaos that would ensue?
it would be madness,
and a thousand times over
it would be
me and you.
today while walking home, a man in a black tweed cap said hello, how's your day going to me. good i said, and then to be polite, how about yours. he had a cup of iced coffee in his hand and he motioned towards the sky as he replied i'm going to work now. where at i smiled it was alright to talk because we were walking down the street and the street was busy with other students walking home. just around he replied. he had deep wrinkles in his face. what year of school are you in he asked. second i said. you're a beautiful lady. you're a very beautiful lady. he said. take care of yourself now, take good care of yourself. his smile was kind. his eyes were tired. i thanked him God bless i said as i turned into the shortcut i took everyday after class. he had nothing to lose and even less to gain. so he must have been telling the truth. i allow myself to smile.
There's the skyscraper New York, the loudhailer New York.
Lady Liberty tall and proud and unapologetic.
There's morning Brooklyn, coffee-with-your-flaky-croissant Brooklyn.
Artists walking their dogs that piss confidently on tired but cheerful-red fire hydrants.
Then there's subway New York, the underground New York.
Cowering in corners, caving-in cardboard homes.
There's neon-lit Brooklyn, warning signs Brooklyn.
Young uns backing into the walls, whistling loudly but carefully at passers-by.
drunk on evening wine
eyelids coated in hues of clementine
laugh, not from lack of inhibition
instead from potent need of validation
paint the streets red
with real-life metaphors
blood from their blisters
soles of their feet sore
lie awake in the dark
their lips whisper 'love'
their hips - 'let's just fuck'
with flaming hearts ablaze with guilt
setting alight all the bridges they've built
pay debts from popping tops off beer
for weak men who sell guns
to weaker men living in fear
living under labels misconstrued
are actually just sad girls too
it makes your stomach muscles clench
forces out the fullness of your body
so that all you become
is bitter bone
and skeptical skin
once i read a story about a girl who couldn't stop taking laxatives
"Where's my Ex-Lax" she would hiss
"I want my Colace"
the nurses ignored her
the other mad girls laughed at her
I flipped through the pages wildly.
maybe i would find her cure to my madness
but i was disappointed
because she was sexy too
according to the writer.
with her glowing limbs and lazy stride
i went on taking my laxatives
i purged myself of self-worth
after a particularly strong dose
i would feel light and empty
nothing coating my insides except an intense hatred
Systematic, regulated calm.
I unlock the door, step onto the smooth familiarity of a polished wooden floor. My soles soak up the coolness of sun-deprived boards. "Scratchy, scratchy." I sing out to the German Shepard in the corner of the room who is batting at his ear with his hind paw. A brief thought crosses my mind, something about a vet, but I smell responsibility beneath the fleeting sentiment and willfully, almost guiltily, push it to the side of my mind where it finds its place between tomorrows' chores and today's' class work.
I'm not sure when lighting incense became habitual, but I surmise that it might've been somewhere in between a lazy Sunday afternoon and a rushed Monday morning. I must have seen or read about it somewhere and in all my romanticizing tendencies, decided to embrace it. The first time, smoke attacked my eyes and made them water, a half-burnt ashy bit fell off the stick upon my palm and left a mark for weeks.
I breathe the scent in deeply now - a mixture of citronella and smoke.
Joey Pecoraro's Tired Boy jazzes on. I look through the film photos just developed last night. None of them catch my eye in particular. Instead of feeling disappointed, a curious sense of gratitude for the moment fills me. My music, my scented air, my words. All self-centered but I see the effects rolling out from this little space in waves.
Slowly, I feel the bits and pieces of who I am gather themselves.
It's a Friday afternoon.