Monthly Archives: June 2010

What You Do When This Happens (1)

Note: This is something I’m working on. More will be added next week. Here are the first five hundred words:

My sister comes over at midnight. She hasn’t been invited; I haven’t invited her over in years but still she comes. Chase answers the door in his boxers. He knows it’s her and she isn’t worth the hassle of putting on a shirt. I’m not so sure it’s her, preferring to imagine home invaders rather than my own strung-out older sister.

I don’t follow him down the stairs, instead stand at the top with the cordless in my hand. Their voices are muffled, Paige’s especially, and I loosen my grip on the phone. No home invasion tonight. The front door clicks shut and Chase stands at the foot of the stairs watching me. Lately I’ve been feeling grateful that he loves me, and I wonder when it happened that I couldn’t take it for granted anymore. He still stares up at me, years ago he might’ve made a Ghostbusters crack at my holding the phone so expectantly, but I can tell tonight he’s not having it. Paige rounds the corner and I see why. She has mascara all around her eyes, lipstick smeared around her mouth like she’s been making out for hours.

“Jesus, Paige,” I say, annoyed.

Chase walks up the stairs and past me. He cups my elbow as he walks by, and our silent tag team switches out. He has work in the morning, he’s tired. I’m so lucky he loves me.

I join Paige at the bottom of the stairs. She leans against the wall—the sight of her always makes me nauseated and dizzy, like some damn contact or empathy high. It isn’t lipstick after all. The blood all around her lips is dry and caked in some places. How many people did she walk by looking like some murder victim and nobody helped her? When she smiles at me, her front tooth is chipped and I catch a glimpse of tiny nerves dangling from it. I wince and feel a pain in my own front tooth. She squeezes her eyes shut as though to keep the tears in, but they gush through unfazed.

“Jesus, Paige,” I say again.

“I’m sorry to come by so late,” she says with a lisp. “You must’ve been sleeping, huh.”

I soften at the familiar sound of her asking, “Huh,” a grunt from under her belly that she’s made since we were kids.

“What happened?” I ask, unsure how much I care to know. Unsure how much of it will be different than before.

“Joey got mad I couldn’t pay,” she says lines straight from a movie.

“Who’s Joey? What happened to Rob?” I dab her face with a warm, damp towel as I ask after her drug dealers like coworkers.

“Oh God,” she says with the intonation of a teenager, “I haven’t gone to Rob in months.”

She scoffs at me, this woman I don’t know, and I have the urge to hit her, to renew the bloodstains on her face. To keep her from getting too comfortable here on my couch.

Ode to Nicole Scherzinger, Or: What’s New, Pussycat?

Today is Nicole Scherzinger’s 32nd birthday, if you can believe it, so I thought I’d provide a little background info on everyone’s favorite Pussycat Doll before wooing her electronically with my poetic charm.

Name: Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente Scherzinger
Date of Birth: June 29, 1978 (obviously)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Occupation: Singer, Songwriter, Dancer, Actress, Model, Extremely Sexy Female, Future Mrs. Brian P. McGackin
Associated Acts: Pussycat Dolls, Eden’s Crush, Days of the New (backup vocals)
Years Active: That’s a personal question, so you’d have to ask her. I’d imagine some point in the early 90s, though.
Major Accomplishments: Winner-season 10 of Dancing with the Stars; 311’s song “Amber” was written about her; being sexy

Ode to Nicole Scherzinger, Or: What’s New, Pussycat?

I bet you’ve heard that one before.
Damn, when I saw you here I swore
I’d play it cool, maybe act tough,
you’d see me less like Derek Hough
and more the sort of scruffy guy

who drives your own pussy-cat wild.
I’ve got a kind of Eden’s Crush—
no, wait a minute, that’s too much.
I’ve got to try and hopefully
maintain some sense of dignity.

Unless that turns you on? Tell me,
what do you think? No? Possibly?
Maybe you like the nerdy type,
all nervous ‘cus your clothes fit tight
around your ass and show your abs

without a single inch of flab;
and yet, your sexy silhouette,
the solid line beneath that dress,
your thighs, the way you shake your hips
like liquid sandstone, making this

cute guy tape Dancing with the Stars
so someday, when they grow up, our
children can see their mother’s face,
they’ll see your smile, aplomb, your grace,
the moment when you win first place.

I know that you don’t need a man
but I’m no ordinary fan;
I’ll stick with you until you see
our love is real, I’m not some creep…

Requiem for a Chinchilla

Dustbath “Pedey” Pedroia was discovered at the bottom of her cage at approximately 7:00pm on Thursday, June 24. While the average domestic chinchilla lives for up to 15 years, Pedey died at the tender age of 3ish from apparent health complications incurred by a sudden heatstroke. While it is true that chinchillas are indigenous to South America, their natural habitat tends to be amongst the rocks and caves of the Andes mountains, where their lack of sweat glands and their incredibly dense fur protect them from the other elements — great for a Boston winter, but not for a Boston summer such as this one.

Prior to the heatstroke, Pedey was in just as good of health as any other household chinchilla. She lived with her younger sister, Yubnub, who survives her today and is decidedly less fat and black. In life, Pedey enjoyed raisins, pooping a lot, and sleeping. Despite her negative attitude towards her owners and occasional incestuous lesbian tendencies, Pedey was much loved in her home, where she could often be found watching LOST while trying to chew her way through her cage. Yubnub fondly recalls every time that a famished Pedey would sit in the food bowl for hours on end, eating and defecating simultaneously, and rarely differentiating between her food pellets and her feces. (Like any good sister, Yubnub would patiently wait her turn and let her older sister gorge on Timothy Hay and Alfalfa, often being rewarded with an extra raisin as a result) When not hogging the food, or attempting to bite the hands of her owners, Pedey could often be found cuddling with Yubnub in the corner, and generally looking cute and silly like chinchillas are wont to do.

She will especially be remember for her her little T-rex-like chinchilla hands. Pedey enjoyed standing up straight and placing her hands on the bars of her cage, much like a human prison inmate. It was quite precious.

A small graveside service was held in the backyard on the afternoon of June 25. Pedey was laid to rest in the garden of the home where she once lived, and hopefully, her spirit will nourish the plantlife that grows there. Just to be sure, she was buried with a package of her favorite craisins as incentive.

In her honor, Dustin Pedroia, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox and Pedey’s namesake, hit 3 homeruns on the night of her death, leading the Red Sox to a 13-11 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Raisins to raisins, dustbath to dustbath. Rest in peace, Pedey.

Please send grievances in the form of raisins.

The Four Dollar Difference

What a difference four dollars makes.  Not even five.  A measly four.

A deep huff of wind dances my jacket flaps behind me, and I zip in haste.  I forget more things after dark, I notice, than during pleasant walking hours.   With practice, the late-night street life turns near-invisible.  Outstretched hands and shanty placards for petty wares fade in the palimpsest of downtown life like forgotten layers of paint.

The guard at the entrance to the market, nodding half at the late hour, half at the open door, opens his sore eyes a mite wider at my state, the tuxedo shirt and collar stealing attention from the pink-and-blue windbreaker.  His eyes dart as fast as laziness allows above my head to the display of store hours, glancing down at the unmopped tile before stealing a glance at his wrist watch.

Tersely he plods to the electric doors, reaching high above to switch them off, and a light flickers before fading, telling all the store was now closed.  A scattered few scan their wares and trundle to the exit, the clerks with their Lane Closed signs holding tight the grin of relief.

I’m quick through the store, more for self-preservation than anything.  In fifteen minutes when a taxicab cuts from freeway to side street, slowing then stopping at a well-lit corner, when a fare is paid and a driver is generously tipped, when stilettos clack onto sidewalk and a last stolen look into the door’s reflection affords the final bounce of cupped hair, not only should I be there, polished, poised, free from beads of sweat, I should be there with more than my heart in my hands.

I slide two tiles past the wine rack before catching, the bottom of my shoes with the friction of a whisper on earrings.   My arm fires like an automaton clasping the Cabernet, the momentum pirouetting me towards the cashier.

I dip my hand into my pocket the way you would a fish bowl, knowing as the taut fabric touches my fingers my wallet rests on the chair beside the door.  I glanced at the security guard, hands at the ready to toggle our freedom.  He’s not paying attention, I remind myself, he’s only thinking of leaving.

I see the guard, the now-locked door, the permission required to flee, and admonish myself for thinking for a split heartbeat that security cameras can be fooled and single wine bottles won’t be missed.  I rest the bottle on the conveyor belt, shrugging silently to the clerk as I shuffle to the door.

It’s only now that I see what the guard saw on that stretch of unmopped tile; nothing.  With an eye to my own wristwatch, I’m out of options, and the door toggles open.

Again, the wind catches my jacket like a sail.  I have to turn against it, reaching back for the zipper.

And I feel it.  Three bills.  Four quarters.  Hidden inside.  I glance ahead to the corner, a man folding his humble sign for the night, and wave.

“You brought flowers,” she says, wine bottle clutched in her hand behind my back.

A Moment on the Bridge

He saw the whole thing, if it could be called a thing. She had been walking a few yards ahead of him. He hadn’t noticed her, except in the way you notice that there are cars on the road or other tables in a restaurant. She had paused, only briefly, like a dog choosing where best to pee, then she mounted the railing and went over the edge. She hadn’t made a show of it–no arms spread wide in sacrifice to the wind or the earth or the God that didn’t love her, the way TV shows and movies have you expect–and nobody but him noticed it happened. When he realized what she’d done, he looked around him for confirmation of the thing he’d just seen or at least a fellow witness to say phrases like What the fuck? to, but no one made eye contact. No one had seen. He ran to the place where she had been moments before, yanked his headphones from his ears. He leaned over the edge as if to catch her. He saw ripples, a break in the river’s rhythm, probably only noticeable because he was looking for it. He didn’t see her, no head or flailing arms to signal a changed mind, a refreshed thirst for life.

What shook him most was that she hadn’t hesitated, hadn’t shown signs of anything–no sullen, exaggerated sadness in her gait, no tears or show of fear. It was a decision made before that day, before she ever set foot on the bridge. It had looked like something that was supposed to happen, like morning or the end of a movie. There had been no question, no invitation or chance of interference or avoidance. He felt skeptical of his eyes because of the certainty with which it had happened as though there were things he didn’t know, things that, had he known them, he wouldn’t have thought what she’d done was wrong. He stood against the railing a moment longer, counted to thirty to give her a chance to break the surface. He counted slow and not with any even rhythm, just counted as the numbers came. When he did not see her, he pushed back from the railing, replaced his headphones, and walked home without incidence.

I’m Back (Haiku)

I’m back in LA
as of today, so next week’s
poem will be real.

Sonic Spring Shower Breakfast

Hard rain claps
Echo like proud parents
Atop new concrete

Hard toast crunches
Crumble like a nose broken
Beneath clenched fingers

Hard image forms
Ready like a cobra coiled
Between my ears