Tag Archives: bottles

Bottles and Cans

I set the box down, turn my back to it, walk to the door and hear CRASH! CLANG!, the harsh, concussive orchestra, the echoing collision within glass walls/aluminum chambers, anticipate a soft plastic pop but find it’s drowned out/overwhelmed/consumed by that abrasive cacophony born of late drunken beers, breakfast cans of Coca-Cola Zero, jagged-edge pull-lids still covered in chowdah, all of which feel this crushing urge to prove their worth.

She keeps one hand on a cart/a tank—a prop from some post-apocalyptic time, with ruined treads and bulging sacks of scavenged somethings strapped to its flank—while she squats and sifts through the box. She plays the drum major, conducting a loose percussion section as her hand shuffles through the box/blue box/green box with its tri-angle’d arrow design and the sound slays a single cilia in my eardrum. She looks up at me with sunken, slanted eyes that bleed to jaundice at the edges and offers a glimmer of graciousness, an uncertain/empty smile from behind her dry, sagging lips. Not empty in that vapid way that other people offer—empty in her mouth, where nearly all her teeth have rotted out.

“Sankiyu, sankiyu!,” she slurs excitedly.

I respond with a slight nervous smile. You’re welcome? I never did much worth a welcome. I didn’t realize beer still made folks giddy three days late, especially when there’s nothing left to drink.

No, wait, there’s a little bit left, dripping on her fingers, flowing with the age’d, weather’d patterns/grooves cut into her sandpaper skin/making a medley of sugary juices, mold and soup in the base of the box/puddling on the curb/coating her frail old hands. They looked like latex gloves, her hands, six sizes too small—more like a finger condom used for five and a palm—stretched out, weathered nearly to the breaking point, worn down to a weak, translucent film of thin plastic, filled with pebbles and stapled to her sleeves.

I stand still and silent on the front steps, watching while she finishes her task, tossing empties into her cart with ardor and zeal; the steady clamor of the clinking cans hypnotizes/keeps my attention like raindrops. When she’s finished/when the box is barren, save for the sickening puddle of purée inside, she turns back to me and waves/mumbles “Sankiyu,” again as she pushes her cart up the hill and away; it must weigh 300 pounds, or more, but her fragile, 80-pound frame is determined. She conquers gravity and somehow makes it to the top of the hill. How did I not hear her approach in the first place? I tighten my velvet bathrobe belt. The sharp, discordant jingle/jangle of bottles and cans reverberates down the corridor of rowhouses on the street and I’m amazed it doesn’t wake the neighbors. With one hand, I grab the newspaper; with the other hand, the box/head back inside/wonder if the seven dollars and thirty-five cents she’ll make from the bottle deposit is really worth it.

Like the song never ended.

I remember us as wildfires.

Summer lights dancing through the trees.

Our parents were dry leaves and cigarettes.

Our children were ash and smoke, the kind that won’t leave your clothes for days.

The radio played cheap beer by the case while we sipped old punk songs and plucked the notes to “El Scorcho” on our gin buckets.

Our music singed the corners of our coat pockets while we smoldered dead branches like souvenirs of last year.

We scribbled notes to the future on each other’s tongues and taped forties to our hands like boxing gloves for our souls.

We were tired as hell but we danced all night anyway.

Just because.

We flicked and floated as cinders on the breeze and our glass bottle hearts broke shiny like they never glittered to begin with.

Our taste buds learned the difference between cute girl and light beer but didn’t care for one more than the other.

If both could be had, then all the better.

Our truth poured out as poorly mixed drinks and we flowed from cup to cup with ease.

We woke with good ideas turned ugly mistakes turned righteous crusades.

Our darkness was outside.

We felt warm beneath it like blankets wrapped with care.

Tucked and neat.

We glowed on the inside.

Our whiskey-warmed heartbeats found the drum track and thumped in unison.

The bass line pumped infatuation through our capillaries and with small cuts we bled romance as blood brothers.

The fire popped champagne and crackled sing-song.

Embers were snowflakes on our tongues, lightning bugs in a jar.

We decided that’s all we were.

Just lightning bugs in jar.

Dancing in the moonlight.

Singing out a song.

Still, our fire smiled wide like we never broke to begin with.

Like it didn’t even matter.

Like the song never ended.

Dig Yourself a Hole

I found him in the backyard, shovel in hand. He’s all tattooed arms and spitfire poetry. Razorblade scars and heroin-soaked lyricism. Perfectly unhinged; unchained dog mad with rabies. He burned patterns in my lawn. Bleached stained jeans. Tattered shirt and tie. Shattered glass bottles, thrown at trees; pockmarked cherry bomb testing grounds. Dirt stained everything.

He’s digging a hole.

He tells me, “One day, years from now, Africa with collide with Europe and close the Straights of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean will become a vast desert of salt.”

I stare blank. Unsure of what to say, I drink long slow sips. Burns like a lemondrop, hard swallowed.

“Don’t you get it? The Atlantic is spreading at a rate equivalent to that of human finger nail growth. The Atlantic is fucking spreading! Every second that passes we’re getting farther away from England. How do you handle that?”

I have nothing. I barely understand.

He puts it another way. “Right now the universe is expanding. Everything is moving away from everything else. We’re all drifting alone in the dark.”

His hole is getting deeper. I would really like to pull him up, but I don’t have the knowledge or the tools. He came out here with a mission. Hellbent and headstrong, he’s burning adrenaline like a grease fire. He’s a loaded gun. He’s loaded for sure, has been for days.

“She was mine once,” he said, “Not anymore though. I bled her out. Bled her dry. One too many leaches. Maybe one too few.”

I still don’t get it. Another long slow sip.

“She killed it for me. Knew I couldn’t deal. But that wasn’t it. That’s what she never got.”

A picture’s starting to form. Bleak and bloody, I think I’m getting it now. Rain falls silent on shirt collars. He’s all mud-splattered dress clothes. Real life American wasteland. The shit under your shoes.

“How I could bring it into a world that’s doomed. Birth is a death sentence. I see that now.”

And there it is.

He’s knee deep in slop, waist deep in a trench. He’s digging with a purpose now. His grip tight on the handle, a bear trap vice. Blood trickles from cracked knuckles. He’s broken bones healed crooked. He locks eyes with mine, searching for answers I can’t possibly give him.

Another long slow sip. I tell him it’s not all bad. We’ve got cable and high speed internet access. I am completely meaningless. He’s waterlogged and mechanical motion. Locked in; he’s on autopilot and coasting towards the end. I don’t think I could stop him if I wanted to. I don’t know that I want to.

He’s all rage and fear. Blood, piss, and tears. Mud splashed in fresh new wounds. He’s puncture marks and bleeding open heart. He wants me to be something I’m not. He wants me to be answers. He needs me to be strong comfort. I have to be everything’s alright. But I’m nothing like anything. I never have been.

He’s been digging all night. He’s been digging a hole.

“This one’s mine,” he says, “You have to dig your own.”

Love Letter to My Liver

I  woke up on a stripped college dorm mattress sometime after ten. Something smelled like vomit. I quickly realized it was me. Naked and bleeding slightly, I squinted hard in the sunlight pouring over me like cheap Canadian whiskey.

Is that what I drank?

I was a gas tank last night, match-ready and full of potential. I was far from sober and somewhere around enlightened, or at the very least contented. Somewhere between drinks, or quite possibly, that girl’s legs, I found something wonderful. Although, I’m pretty sure I lost it along with my sunglasses.

Why I was wearing them in the dark is beyond me.

A black guy with a name I can’t pronounce asked me what I wanted to mix my drink with. I responded by doing my best impression of John Belushi. Southern Comfort is a poor substitute for Jack Daniel’s. It’s a little too sweet, but it burns a lot less and goes down fairly smooth, so I think I’m okay with my choice.

I spent some time talking politics with a girl who had been with four men that day, although I’m fairly sure I was one of them. She held her own quite well. Take that as you will. I try not to pass judgement though, since if it wasn’t for girls like her, guys like me would have nothing interesting to write about.

I noticed a while back that I tend to romanticize self-destruction. A recovering alcoholic that I know told me that one day, after he retires, he wants to buy a big house out in the desert somewhere in New Mexico and drink himself to death. It’s strange, but somehow I find that heartbreakingly beautiful.

When I was younger I would write poems about the way light filtered through the glass of empty beer bottles and how different colored glass made me miss the different girls that I had loved. Now it just makes me miss the beer that was in them.

They tell me that peeling the labels off bottles is a sign of sexual frustration. When I’m peeling the clothes off women I often wish they were bottles.

I liked the color of her glass and her label said, “Taste Me”, so I was happy to give her a try. A little hoppy and not enough head, but well rounded and full bodied. Not an all-together unpleasant experience. At the very least, I’d certainly drink one again if it was offered.

I think my perfect woman is a good glass of scotch. Aged eighteen years. Smokey, without all the burn. Smooth going down. Always on the rocks.

That may have been more direct than I intended.

It’s hard being wordy when you’re this hungover. Almost as hard as being pithy when you’re twelve deep into a thirty rack and gaining momentum by the minute.

I should probably shower and wash last night off, but for now I’ll let it stick with me. At least I think that’s what that is.