Monthly Archives: February 2012

This Was Supposed to Be the Last Day but There’s One More Day and There Aren’t Any Lights on the Sand Where I’m Standing

There’s a mannequin in the window of the Venice Beach Hostel getting ready to go out for the night and it is cold and it is windy on the boardwalk and it is so cold and all the transients have gone home for the night even though I don’t like the word transient and prefer almost anything like crackhead or nut job or ex-hippie or extra enthusiastic public monologuer but either way they’ve all gone home except the dedicated half-dead dreadlocked transients who have staked their claim and would prefer not to move their tarps.

The mannequin is ready now and heading down to the beer wine food across the street where almost no one speaks English or at least speaks it well or at least speaks it anymore they prefer yelling or snarling or preaching sometimes or rambling sometimes and rambling and rambling and never wondering why no one has stopped to listen because there is always someone stopped to listen or at least there is to them and I hear that counts.

And now the mannequin is drunk and laughing with a very tan man with a skateboard and a backpack and a lizard tattoo and an apartment up the block and a roommate out of town and an expensive bag and a cheap mattress on the floor but at least the floor is clean or at least looks clean or at least he knew he should make it look nice tonight although maybe it’s always that way.

The mannequin never smiles and never cries and never looks up as she walks stiff-legged back to the hostel passed me passed the rambling man passed the joggers in their leopard things passed the old couple with the matching hair passed me she makes her way back to the door to the stairs and she makes her way up to the room to the room and she makes herself still she lies so very still and her mannequin friends never question.

Old Maid on the Bar Stool (part 2)

Read Part 1 here

“Wow. That long, huh?”

“That long.”

Once again, his eyes traced the curves of my fat old body. “You haven’t changed a bit,” he said with that crooked smile I fell in love with all those years ago.

“That’s a lie,” I said. “But thanks for saying it.”

“Either way…I’m glad you made it. I know time’s weird around here but I…I’ve missed you,” he replied, gently placing his left hand on my knee. I placed my right hand on top of his, and we sat there for a moment, just the two of us, surrounded by Eternity.

Then I asked him: “So who’s this new girl you’re seeing?” This took him by surprise; back when we were together, I was hardly ever the jealous type.

“Wow, okay. I was gonna ask, you know, what you’ve been up to and that, but okay, we can go there. She, um, I met her in my Softball league. We’ve just gone out a few times. Nothing serious. It’s just nice to have some company when you’re waiting around eternity for the love of your life to join you. It gets kind of lonely, even here.” He looked at my hand, still holding his that rested on my knee. He stared at the ring for a moment before looking back up at me. “How about you? Who’d you marry?”

I was flustered, but tried to respond. “He…it wasn’t til later…after you’d died, it was…I needed someone, and…”

“Relax,” he said. “I’m not mad. In fact, I’m happy that you found someone to take care of you, since, well, since I couldn’t.”

“We had kids,” I told him. “They have kids.”

“Well that’s a little weird but…”

Then I showed him my other hand, where the engagement ring he’d given me still rested on my finger. “I never took it off. As hard as it was, I never could. I loved Michael, don’t get me wrong. He treated me well. He understood. We loved our children, our grandchildren. But I…you were the One, Kevin. I watched you die, right in front of me, and…and you were the One. And I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”

I didn’t mean to breakdown like that in the middle of the bar, but everything just came flooding back all at once. Kevin just held me and let me cry into his chest. He still smelled exactly as I remembered. He held my hand, and it felt like I was 26 again, and we were looking forward to a long and loving life together, and that his asthma was just some minor inconvenience when he was playing sports with his friends.

A few moments later — or maybe a lifetime — Kevin’s friend returned from the bathroom. “Hey Steve,” he said. “I want you to meet someone. This is Lisa. She was the love of my life.”

A close look at healing

It’s more than a scrape. It’s the tangy
copper taste when you put the wound

to your mouth. The rotting stench of
hydrogen peroxide, fizzing a division

between liquid iron and crimson
H20. The yellow fluid

weeping through your second bandaid,
and the scorched caramel smell when

a thin, Neosporin glaze
loses to infection. The itching

edge around the dried out scab,
the tug where it doesn’t want

to detach. When you pry it off,
there’s more blood. More bandaids.

More pungent Neosporin. A new scab
hardens and flakes off, leaving

a pink rim, puffed like collagen
lips kissing an ochre slit you pick at

until it pulls away like a thread
of cottage cheese. You douse

the leaking crevasse in alcohol,
a clean sting that might heal. Might.


A Fleeting Distant Noise

Sometimes there are random noises during the middle of the night, the times when no rational person should still be awake and functioning. Not the usual whir of a hovering copter or wave-crash of the freeway. It’s a creaking and crunching off in the distance, and some thumps, like someone is rooting around in the world’s basement. And it doesn’t make sense, but you immediately think it’s the end. The end of it all. A flash and a wall of sound and a rushing, ripping, pulling everything apart at the seams. Maybe cosmic, maybe divine, maybe just the endgame of humanity’s ingenuity and cruelty. Is this going to be it? Was that all it was? You can picture it, and you don’t want to move or look out the window. You’d rather just let it happen.

Then it’s nothing, of course. Someone moving something, or a truck on a ridge-filled road, or something or other. The ads end, or you press play on iTunes, and you go back to whatever you were doing before. You’re too embarrassed at having such a catastrophic impulse that you don’t take the opportunity to reflect on the panic. You calm your heart by saying that this might be a funny thing to tell people about, a tiny anecdote of a stupid thing you did. But the right situation never really comes up.

Lamentations of a Muse

I don’t look wonderful tonight; don’t
sugarcoat it. There’s a thread
hanging from the hem of this dress
and there are no scissors to be found
anywhere in this goddamn house
and I just may resort to using your
toenail clippers to deal with it as you
stand by the door, making vague huffy
sounds and fussing with the car keys,

the ones I’ll have to get you to surrender
by the end of this interminably long night
when you’re lolling in the passenger seat
complaining of your aching head while
simultaneously going on about the love
light in my eyes or whatever. I’ll have to
take off your shoes and position one of the
stainless steel mixing bowls next to the bed
as you sputter and blubber like an English
bulldog. And the wonder of it all is that you
just don’t realize how much I love you.

missing california/ missing you

These are not the same pain but both come from the same spot on my body, buried underneath clothes: I wear gloves for cold weather that is not home. The mountain shows a face that is not yours.

Winter Formic

Ender had it easy. He never dealt
with the stress of grade seven depression.

The vacant expanse of this starlit space
mostly serves to deter two species from
making contact before each are ready
for the enormity of the event.

Until one brave soldier launches across
the emptiness, wonder and misunder-
standing against the far wall. And that’s all
it takes. More assemble, as if called by
ansible; they venture forth to raise arms
against a foe that no man claims to know.

Post-battle, comprehension dawns, and aches:
the soldier sees the war was a mistake.