Saturday, February 28, 2009


It is my home. It is theirs. The dense woods smell of earth and flora. The air is damp, the moisture lingers, reluctant to make room for anything but cool, thick air. This population of trees, thick and overgrown, it has been here since the continent was formed. The same woods were once filled with Algonquian longhouses and brown Native children running after butterflies in the summertime.A creek bubbles happily through the woods. It carries fresh, clear water. Red clay lines the banks of the creek. As a child, I forged pottery from this red clay only to be disappointed, time after time, when my vessel crumbled into a million pieces after the sun had sucked the moisture from the clay and with it, its ability to maintain its sculpted shape.
Sometimes I spot crayfish in the creeks, or tadpoles or other small fish whose names are easily forgotten. After a big rain, the creek stops bubbling happily. It rises and swells, full of muddy, chaotic water and it angrily rages its way downstream, leaving long stains of red clay and discarded shoes and trash above the banks.
I walk quietly in the woods, picking jewel weed and spotting gently nibbled branches of low-growing flora, a deer has been through here. On my right, I see a lightly indented patch of ground, a deer has slept here. There, on the ground, there are small owl pellets and next to it, bits of fur and bone, regurgitated from the owl’s last meal.
In the small clearing, a shadow blots out the sun momentarily, I look above and see a circling red-tailed hawk. It lets out a scream. Is it calling to its lover? Is it warning its prey? I guess at the meaning of its cry.
I move below the canopy of the trees. Thick and cool, the air wraps me in its damp arms. Fallen leaves scatter the ground, each step of my body upon them releases a chorus of crunches and an earthy scent. Soil and decay and water and rock, the smell is like a perfume, as raw as can be. Sprouting from the soil, pushing past the leaves, is red and white polka doted mushroom, just like the kind I read about in fairy tales, only its real, and here, and right in front of me. The stories, once painted as fiction, come from this, from the magnificence and strangeness and wonder of this! Where polka-dotted mushrooms sprout. Where fairies dance and hawks unabashedly sing songs to their lover.
Nightfall comes. The woods begin their transformation. The trees become eerie shadows, but the sound of the crickets and tree frogs comfort me. Tiny lights sparkle all around. Small lightning bugs flash their golden yellow light, their only hope of finding a mate. If only they knew they’ll die tomorrow… maybe they do. Maybe they flash their little lights like beacons in the night guiding passing ships to the shore. The urgency is now, tomorrow is death and the species requires a new generation.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Afternoon Memories

The hand on the clock inched itself closer to two with every second that passed in its infinite journey of circles. He watched the black hand moving on the small watch his wife had given him for his birthday five years ago. He was on the couch, a long outdated piece of furniture with worn fabric along every edge and small round black burns of cigarettes that pocked it like the marks on an old man long past his prime. Each burn was a memory that smelled of tobacco and melted synthetic fabric, a moment when he coasted from the relative consciousness required for a TV show to the space of melted trees and illogical planes. Here, the cigarette could never remain in his mouth, and as it fell and began to burn, he was always granted another chance of life. When the entire house already reeked of cigarette smoke, something always came to him, the distinctly different smell of melting fabric, and he always awoke, somewhat startled, to find the couch burning. Now, the house was completely quiet.
The bright light of the afternoon was seeping into the house from the large, bare windows. Inside, it was calm and warm and subdued, and everything appeared to be peaceful, the dishes were washed and everything was tidy, but within him, nothing was calm as he watched the second hand move. Outside, the sun bestowed the warm day’s light on the rural land. There were rows of almond trees occasionally mixed with some old oaks for as far as the eye could see.
In the silence, he heard a single shot.
The sound echoed in the stillness of the hour.
It was a single shot.
Perhaps his neighbor hunting rabbits, he thought, with a passing interest. Besides the shot, he could not find another sound. The refrigerator had stopped humming, the birds were quiet, he had fixed the dripping faucet a week ago, so now, it too melted into the vacuous chamber. The men in the fields had stopped working an hour ago, retiring all the yellow machinery to the large warehouses a couple miles away, so he didn’t hear the distant echoes of tractors or the dim Spanish profanity. There was not a small plane overhead, not a fly that had found its way inside, not a cricket out by the pond, and it was so quiet…and not a sound from the gaping hole of a mouth in his wife, the aging model who had left him four hours and 26 minutes and seven seconds ago…eight…nine…ten…she had taken a suitcase and walked out the door, a final move after 2 years of constant threats and midnight wailing.
He had watched as she packed her small bag, too small he thought, for all the clothes she had stockpiled over the years. It still boggled his mind, he didn’t know where she had bought all the various shorts and shirts and little dresses, there were no shopping plazas within 200 miles. All he knew was that he would come home after a ten hour day of working in the fields and she would be standing in the doorway with a new dress or a new pair of shoes or a new shirt. When he had first brought her here, he had liked seeing her smile so brightly in her new clothes, she looked just as fresh and clean as the garments that covered her naked body. But after a couple years, after she no longer met him at the door and when he would find her asleep on the bed in a new dress without a warm meal waiting for him on the stove and the house unkempt …that’s when he began to get mad.
Where the hell were the clothes coming from? He always wondered, but never asked. He kept his suspicions to himself. He kept his accusations inside. The only thing that seeped from him was the growing sense of fury and dissatisfaction and he always let her know in the middle of the night, when he grabbed fistfuls of her hair in both hands and pushed himself inside of her without warning, without foreplay, without a moment for her to get ready and wet. His eyes would open from a dream and he would feel the heat emanating from his cock and he would rapidly push her flat on her stomach with both of his rough hands and he would grab her by the hips and pull her ass into the air and he would pull down her panties and grab her by her long brown hair and he would force himself inside within seven seconds. And although the pattern repeated at least every other night and although each night he seemed to tear through her with a little more force, she would always be too shocked to scream. Her neck was always too cocked to get a big breath and her mind was on the pain of her head and the dry thrusting in her pussy and she couldn’t scream, not then. Afterwards, she would silently cry on her side of the bed, but when he pushed himself in, allowing his anger to explode into her, she could never let out a sound, she could hardly breath, and knowing that, knowing her silence was caused by his pain, not the lack of it, he pushed himself in harder, faster, until she felt his frustration, until his fury became hers, when his pain overwhelmed her and she began to pant and bleed, then it would all come out in a stream of white anger, then, after he had passed the chaos of his energy into her, then he could fall asleep again and she would let out her own silent sadness.
Sitting on the couch, in the late light of afternoon, now that the sun was turning into the golden cousin of the sun that was before, he thought again about her new clothes, the mystery of their origin, the mystery he had never dared to ask, instead, and in place of questions, he had let the silence turn to poison. The woman didn’t even have a running car most of the time! Where had they come from?
He pictured her now with her father, driving in the golden light of the fading sun, driving back to the city in which he had found her so many years ago. He smiled, remembering how he had spotted her on the side of the road, her rear wheel as flat as a pancake and her face as frozen in disbelief as a deer in headlights. He had pulled his big truck over immediately and offered her some help. Later, he bought her a cup of coffee and then some dinner and then…,she invited him to her small apartment and she thanked him properly for all he had done for her that afternoon. She thanked him good, real good. Her mouth thanked him so good he never wanted to let her go.
Looking back now, remembering that day, he felt like a victim of his cock. An unwitting bystander to the primal seduction of a warm, wet tongue and a woman’s eagerness to please. The rest of him, everything other than his cock, was a victim of the orgasm, the release he found in the grasp of her thick, parted lips. How did it happen? The romance, the wedding, the move? The past was like a blur, a fast moving haze of trucks and tractors and new clothes, and fresh meals and almond trees in the summer and nightgowns on the floor.
He was right back where he had started, alone in a big ranch house, with a couple more gray hairs and rougher hands and some memories that would fade in another couple of seasons. His father had warned him about women, he remembered the warning, he had probably been seven years old, his dad had been drinking and from across the room, rather suddenly, the old man had shouted, "never trust a beauty that will suck ya off!" At the time, he didn’t understand, he was only seven, but it always stuck with him, the sudden outburst from his father that had sprung without provocation, and because of this odd manifestation, he had kept the words with him always, although, the warning had really done him no good, since he married the first woman to suck him off that wasn’t an honest-to-goodness prostitute.
She had been a model, she had worked a couple international shows she had said, but when he met her, as far as he could figure, she was living off an inheritance. She had seemed willing to give up her apartment and move to the heartland, the real honest-to-goodness America, where real men worked the land and fed the country. He was one of the few father’s of the country god-damnit! He fed the hungry mouths, he brought food to the children! He was their real father!
He heard another shot.
It echoed a bit louder, bouncing off the meticulously planted almond groves and into the stillness of the house . The light outside had turned from gold to the dim haze of blue, the last of the sunlight was leaving. In the house, all the lights were off. In the near darkness, he could still make out the hands of his watch, 2 o’clock had long since passed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Goals and Movement

He pushed the heavy shopping cart by leaning forward and resting all his weight on the metal handle. The cart was specially heavy today because they had loaded it with many extra supplies which they intended to use for trade. His woman had found an abandoned baby stroller just a couple of days earlier.
She was so happy when she came running up to him in the late morning, right when he was sitting among a group of friends close to the old smelly tunnel covered in moss and moist with old rain water. She ran right up to him and said: "I found something good. You have to come and help me get it!" but he was too aware of the looks that the other men gave each other as she approached, so he replied: "I don’t have to do nothing woman. I am free as a bird. That’s what makes us special. That’s what keeps us going! Look around!" and he signaled to all the men that sat around him, with their eyes bubbling up red and crisscrossed with sharp red veins and their blackened gloves which protected their blackened hands and their pants that smelled of old sweat and piss and shit and their chins still dribbling with beer and all of them nodded back at her, acknowledging their freedom, their carefree lifestyle which allowed them to do as they wished, and he nodded once again, looking back at her: "See, free as birds and you don’t tell me what to do!" Right then she realized her mistake and slid backwards a little and she whispered, as if to nobody: "I know where it is. Just tell me when you feel like getting it. I can wait." And she walked away and sat by a tall tree and slowly chewed on an old chocolate bar that she had been saving in the side pocket of her old ripped up pants.
About an hour later, he came over to her and said: "Don’t ever pull something like that again! You know that we have little, but at least we have our reputation!" and she nodded and agreed that she had made a mistake and then she led him to where the baby stroller was hiding, where someone had thrown it away in the middle of a web of branches that hung over a pit of trash. He saw it and smiled and nodded to her and he could tell right away that it would come in very handy for them, so he said: "Look after my cart and I will climb around the trees and will get it."
All of that had been a couple of days earlier. The next two days they spent begging pedestrians on Haight street for a little change here and there and they bought old things from other beggars and they scavenged through trash bins and they looked in the metal bins outside of the houses and they even stole a few beers from the local liquor store and finally they were ready. They wrapped it all in bags and loaded up the shopping cart, which always keeled over to the side because one of the wheels was bent, and they loaded up the baby stroller which she had found and he had managed to rescue.
When everything was ready, he said to her: "Now we will go for a long walk, you understand? I know you haven’t been with me long, but now you have to walk with me." She was still fixing the baby stroller just right so that things wouldn’t fall off when she pushed it. When the sound of his voice came to her, she looked up at him, clearing some thick dark snot from her nose, "Sure thing… but where are we going?" He smiled and looked at her with sharp eyes, "We’re going all the way to the beach. There’s a whole other crew over there and I’m friends with some of them. They always have some good stuff, it’s easier to get it over there, but other things you can’t get at all. So we will bring them some of this stuff and they will go crazy happy and then they will give us some of what we want." She nodded, "You sure? I wouldn’t want to go all the way over there for nothing." He frowned and leaned over her, suddenly terribly disappointed that he had shared this knowledge with her. "Look, I’m going all the way to the beach, I’m going to see the crew that’s over there, they’re friends of mine. You can come along if you want to, or you can stay here and wait, or you can go to hell for all I care…" She looked up at him with wide eyes and he was breathing hard and looking down at her with a smirk in his face, and his cheeks were stained with grease and old dirt and his eyes were bloodshot and his chin was all gooey with trails of saliva. He took a deep breath and then he talked again. "Look, it’s better if you come, because I can’t push the cart and the baby stroller at the same time, and now we have more shit, so we have more responsibilities… you can push the stroller, I will push the cart... are you ready?" She shrugged and stood up and said: "Yeah, I’m ready. I don’t have nothing else to do right?" "Right," he said and they started on their way.
Now they were just over a third of the way there and he couldn’t say out lout what he was thinking because what he was thinking resembled too much what she had said: "What if they don’t have nothing? What if they’re not even there?’ and the sweat was dripping over his face, and down his back, and his arms were hurting and his legs were hurting and he was pushing as hard as he could but the heavy cart moved so slowly that it sometimes seemed that it wasn’t moving at all. She was quiet next to him, also drenched in sweat but not as bad as him, and pushing on the stroller and looking ahead, all the way to where a sliver of white and blue outlined their final destination.
They came to a corner and stopped while a loud truck passed by. He grunted and gasped for breath and she said: "You alright?" and he said "Yeah, I just need to rest for a bit." She nodded and took a deep breath herself, looking up at the trees and at few birds that were flying among the branches. "Let’s rest a little, but let’s not stop too long. We have to make it all the way to the beach today. You said so yourself." He nodded and grabbed onto the handle of the heavy cart again. "Yeah, I know I said so and we’re going. I can rest a bit later. I think we’ll make it today." She nodded and pushed the stroller across the street. "Oh, we will. I know we will. You said so yourself." And they slowly crossed the corner, and kept on slowly making their way to the beach. "You said so yourself. You sure did…"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Eye Doctor

I was alone in the optometry office. The room was dimly lit and the professional equipment had an eerie quiet in the soft darkness. The various instruments were big and black and they protruded from the ceiling. Small orange lights blinked on and off and I felt like the waiting captive in a strange film. I studied the big E glowing softly on the wall, I stared at the vertical line and the three parallel lines that touched it, creating the shape I recognized as a letter, an English letter. In this room, in this context, it would be the first in a series of letters that would determine my ability to see and my subsequent prescription strength. I sat on a small black padded chair, it swiveled, and as the minutes turned into longer chunks, first 5, then 10, then 15, I swiveled softly on the smooth linoleum floor. On my right was the doctor’s desk. It was mostly bare except for an oversized model of the human eye and a Plexiglas brochure holder which had information about LASIK eye surgery. I picked up the large eye and held it in my hands. Slowly, I pulled of plastic pieces off, each new layer revealed another hidden section, the cornea, the retina, the iris, everything was there, exposed. Long ago, they had done dissections and cut into the mystery of sight. This was the eye wrapped up in an easy to understand package, easily labeled parts and functions. The eye, glorious in its wonder…I see…the orange blinking, the E, the darkness, the desk. How strange…
I looked at the clock again…time passed slowly in the small room. I heard the doctor’s voice out in the lobby. "Yes, those lenses will be great on him, lots of little boys like that style!" Her voice was booming, it was large enough to fill a small theatre. It was the authoritative voice that screamed for attention. Hidden beneath her obvious words, there was another audio track, it shouted with unformed words and syllables, but the point could not be missed, mixed up with her speech was the mantra, "listen to me…I know everything, I am important."
When the doctor had wrapped up her suggestions to the mother and son and quickly checked-in with the receptionist, she finally entered the exam room. She shook my hand firmly and seated herself on a little round chair next to the desk. Before asking me my medical history or checking my eyes, she launched into a history about LASIK eye surgery. She thought I would be a perfect candidate. She recited the entire history and assured me that it would be the best thing for me. She told me about her days in optometry school and how she met the people who invented LASIK and what her role would be in the surgery. She spared no detail, and I nodded my head obediently to each of her points when she paused to take a breath.
She spoke at length, but I had lost interest in her words and I studied her face as she talked and my occasional eye contact gave the impression I was listening. Her face…the crow’s feet around her eyes revealed she had reached middle age. Her eyelids were just a bit droopy and they covered some of her upper eye. I wondered if her eyelashes were real or fake, they were very thick and black and long. I studied them for I while, I looked at their shape and the way they fit within the context of her face, I decided they were real. Her thin lips were moving, she had a thin layer of pink lipstick which made me notice one side of her mouth was slightly lower than the other. Around her face was a pile of carefully curled and hairsprayed hair that reminded me of movie stars from the late 70s and early 80s. Covering her naked body was a professional dark blue pants suit, over her naked chest was a white shirt with thin black stripes. She had a string of pearls around her neck and two small pearl studs in her ears. I looked down at her hand, her wedding ring held a large diamond…I wondered about the husband that gave it to her. There were two seconds of silence, and then she asked if LASIK would be something I might be interested in. "Sure, but I’m unemployed at the moment, so $5,000 for the surgery isn't something I have right now."
"Oh," she said, just slightly disappointed. After hearing that, she got on with the exam. "Well, maybe LASIK is something you could consider in the future. I highly recommend it."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Game

The lines outside the amusement park wrapped around the brigade of hot dog vendors and past the lone Mexican man selling little cups of Red Fire Juice and past the young blond teenager on the outskirts of the park, a girl wearing small white shorts and a red baseball cap that matched the logo on the various novelty items she hawked from her push cart. The small cart was laden with baseball caps to match her own, T-shirts and coffee cups and pencils and shoelaces, dozens of items that people, mostly families with small children, could buy and take home to remember their time at the park. And the girl believed that they would remember their experience while they carried the items to the car and then perhaps when they used them occasionally, but she always imagined that the pencil or T-shirt would eventually become an object in and of itself, distinct from the memory of the rides and the popcorn and the $4 hot dogs. And for some reason, whenever she thought of this, she was sad.
This particular Monday, the lines were obscene, worse than they were on the weekends, on the unobserved days of the Sabbath, the lines demanded more patience than almost all people had, more than they could endure. But they did, they would wait for hours, sometimes a whole afternoon to take a 60 second ride. For a brief cluster of seconds, the roller coaster would turn them upside down, swish them to the right, to the left, in a full 360 turn. It would turn their reality into a fleeting mush of colors, their thoughts would vanish, their worries and hopes and desperate desires, for a couple of seconds, the exhilaration of flight was all that remained.
This Monday, the lines were off the charts. Three new games had just been released and the arcade at the amusement park was the only place in all of Los Angeles county to have them. The nerds did not avoid the lines. They came in van after van, truck load after bus load. This day was one of the most important of the year, a pinnacle after months of waiting and reading the buzz and the reviews and occasionally hearing sensational rumors. This was the day, the time to confirm or deny, the moment to test their skill, to feel out the new story, to marvel at the new graphics, to grow hard to the jiggling of animated women, images that always seemed to grow ever larger breasts with each new edition of the game.
The boys in line, the theft of their innocence was long gone, raped years ago by marketing firms and designers with billion dollar budgets and the very society which opened its legs to capitalism, already wet, the seeds long ago sown, decades before the first ships arrived. This land, and in particular, the nexus of Los Angeles, was the world’s most foul experiment. A conglomeration of shiny cars and skinny celebrities and a hope for stardom that kept bringing more fresh meat to the eventual slaughter. To win in this land meant losing everything. No one ever came out the same, and not in the scientific way in which everything changes and time shifts every single one of our molecules…the change here was different, it was light turning to shadow, robots crumbling to clumps of molten steel. The large white letters stayed where they were put and those in their shadows kept up the constant drinking of brown air, young men became slicker shadows of themselves. Women became painted versions of the pictures they burned upon arrival. The town bred a strangeness that was not easily described, and yet could be felt by the watchers.
To win in this land was to dive deep into the world of the unreal. Where cars were easy to steal, where they drove for hours without a flattened bug or an acquired particle of dust. In this unreal landscape, explosions earned points and no matter how many crashes the car endured, the driver could always walk away unscathed. This was the world’s hidden army. Sitting on beds behind closed doors, in the darkness of an arcade or the confines of a basement, this was the hidden race. The theft of their identify had been used as satire and parody, but they were all too present. As much as Hollywood tried to avoid its unglamorous half, here they were, in front of brightly lit screens, waiting in lines that stretched for miles.
These were the games of the year, perhaps of the decade. And they were there to mark its coming, to mark its existence, to experience its passing. And they waited, in the lines that seemed to never move, yet they did, like the lines that appeared after years on a well worn face, they made their way into the unreal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Fire

The fire comes in the night, but this fire is not the kind with orange flames that bite or the flickering light with blue tips that seeks out flesh and wood and hair to eat. This fire is a storm of the mind. A rampage of heat and sparks where surely every firefighter in the state would rush to with their hoses drawn and their red hats glistening under the moon, if only their sirens would blare, if only the operators were alerted and the trucks sent on their way, if only they could feel her inner heat, the inner flames, the house consumed and crumbling, the tall-as-tree flames that course through her body like a forest fire without limits, as though the wind itself where the conspirator, the ally of the wild with only one goal, the hope for conquest, land, and blackened earth. The flames move to devour, to travel far and wide, before the helicopters come with their retardant powders, before the husky men show up with hard cocks and heavy jackets. And she wishes she could rely on some saviors in hardhats, but all that comes is the sound of owl wings bating in the night and the tree leaves that rustle in the glory of minute feathered vibrations.
Beneath lenses of red and orange, she watches the black cloaked trees. The floor under her feet is cold, and as she stands, staring out the tall window beside her bed, she simultaneously soaks in the silence of the night and hears the crinkling of flesh turning to ash. The tree limbs sway softly in the cold hours before dawn. She, in her long white nightgown, she looks out the open blinds, as though watching a lit spectacle, the flames inside cover the irises of her eyeballs and even though she stands perfectly still, her body stiff as a statue, inside she is ablaze, watching the forest outside like a prisoner watches cars speeding past a barred window.
The thought jabs, she feels it prickling the stillness of her pose. She feels the knife poking through the flames. Cutting through the moving blades of red, orange, and blue. Like thunder in the middle of a calm night, she looks to her right, to the man asleep on the bed, his arms cradling a soft pillow. She looks at him, at the only home she knows, the castle comprised of human flesh, the guardian of her life. He is without armor, without a metal helmet or even a sword by his side. He sleeps, unguarded, his thoughts lost in a dream of sugar and death, watching as flowers blossom into stiff armies advancing upon the gates of a desert. He, her home. Softly breathing, his heat almost strong enough to arm her cold feet and chilled shoulders.
And the thunder roars, and it rips her attention, takes it from his sleeping body and she turns again to the dark night, just outside the thin pane of glass and just beyond her hands’ ability to reach. Like a jab to her love, her eyes wander to the branches, swaying to unfelt wind that began in the arctic, began while they were still sunbathing and barbecuing. Her body feels the cold, her feet are numb against the wooden floor, but still, inside, it comes and the flames stay with her. Her body is cold and shivering, soon, it may collapse beneath the strain, but the fire inside mounts, the flames in her heart crackle in the night.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quiet Afternoon

The young boy looked out the window, spreading the thick heavy curtains open with his sweaty palms, looking past the little balcony and out onto the building parking lot and the street beyond, for the second or third time that afternoon. It was sunny outside, just the perfect day to take the bicycle out and ride around the park like he used to do. But that would involve pulling the bike into the house, from the balcony where it sat, walking it through the living room, walking it out of the apartment while holding the door open, making sure the front door was closed tightly and double locked, walking to the little elevator and riding it all the way down to the street level, which was only two floors below, then walking it to the sidewalk and then finally sitting on it and beginning to ride, then he would have to do the whole process in reverse when he came back and maybe somewhere in there he would have to call his mother to let her know that he was going out, or that he would be back soon, or that he was ok, or something, just anything to record in her voice mail in case she checked it before he came back, which was probably unlikely, but he would have to do it, just in case. The thought of riding around, out there in the wide open green and brown park, seemed like a distant promise, something that could happen in other days, maybe in the past, maybe in the future, just not something that happened today, because today he walked back to the couch and turned on the TV with the remote control, and sipped at the large glass full of Coke on the side table and glanced sideways at the books on the little bookshelf his father had given him so many years ago, back when things seemed newer and sunny days were precious and unique. Maybe he could read today, and maybe then he would be someone else, somewhere else, in India, in the desert, in the mountains, in outer space, in the depths of an ancient castle, in a dark forest, anywhere but here, just a block away from the park, the green and brown park which spread like a living labyrinth away from his window, now once again covered by heavy curtains which only barely moved with the breeze.
But that one block was just too far, the effort involved seemed too insurmountable, and right this very moment, on the TV screen, there were some women dancing in short skirts to a loud thumping music full of bass and guttural grunts, and the park was even further away and the TV screen was right here, right in front of his eyes. He looked up at the clock to make sure his mother wouldn’t be arriving any time soon. He unzipped his pants and pulled them down slightly and he started to masturbate slowly as he watched the women dancing to the syncopated beat. Sometimes the camera would zoom underneath them and he could almost see their panties and their ass cheeks or just higher up their full smooth thighs and in one of those moments of close revelation, when it seemed that a particular girl was just too beautiful for his mind to comprehend, he started to orgasm and he had to stand up to make sure he didn’t stain his own pants, and the warm semen fell all over the dark rug, in tiny white drops that mostly disappeared into the rug’s thick texture. Soon, sooner than expected, the moment of ecstasy was over and he shrugged his shoulders and then pulled up his pants and buttoned them up, and he went to the kitchen to get a paper towel and he came back and cleaned the small mess on the rug. On the TV screen, the women were still dancing, as intensely as they had before. He felt like maybe he could masturbate again, and reach that fleeting moment of blind joy once again, and let it wash over him like a wave of silence that took away the endless white noise of the quiet apartment.
He walked once more towards the curtains and stared for a moment at the bike that rested against the metal bars of the balcony and he thought that it really was a perfect day to go out and ride but now it was too late, now the afternoon was getting old and he was feeling very tired, maybe if he hadn’t masturbated, then maybe he would have gone out, maybe just a moment ago it was still possible to open the glass doors and bring out the bike, but now the time for that had definitely passed and there was no way to recover it. So he walked back to the couch and sipped at the coke some more and soon he had unzipped his pants once again, thinking that he might as well, since he definitely was not going out, not anymore, and maybe he could read afterwards, and the women kept on dancing, and one of them stared at the camera in a way that made the boy picture her mouth right around his penis and he could only barely imagine how good that would feel. In a flash of pleasure, he exploded once again, and there was a lot less sperm this time, but he still stood up and he still cleaned it afterwards, at least as much as he could. Then he turned off the TV for a moment and he walked to the bookshelf and grabbed a book at random, and it was one that he had started to read several months ago, but he had never finished, in fact, he never got past the first chapter, so he brought it to the couch and leaned back and started to read. The first paragraph was good and then there was some description and then a bit of dialogue and it was all good but he was getting sleepy and the words were starting to dance before his eyes. His eyes closed and he let the book fall on his chest and that’s where he found it, a few hours later, when he woke up. He stood up, put the book away and walked back to the glass doors of the balcony and stared at the bicycle leaning against the rail, and out at the sunlit afternoon that was already getting very cool and very dark, and he knew that now it was definitely too late and maybe he could have still gone after the first time he had masturbated and maybe then he would have had enough strength but now it was definitely too late, and it was getting too cold and dark to be out riding around, and in a couple of hours his mom would be home and then he would eat and soon it would be time to sleep. Maybe another afternoon like this, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, maybe in a moment of clear decision in a day that wasn’t so quiet, or so noisy, or so gray, or so bright, maybe he would open the curtains early, and see the bicycle outside and maybe he would go out and ride and let the sun shower him with golden warmth and maybe then he would not even call his mother because there was no need to, since she wouldn’t hear his message anyway, and then the shower of ecstasy would last for hours, and it would soak into his flesh and deep into his dreams, like invisible tentacles of heat that reach into places of unsuspected depth. Maybe that would happen soon. But today it was too late. He pulled the thick heavy curtains closed and he came back to the couch and turned on the TV with the remote control. New women were dancing, with even shorter skirts, but the song sounded the same. He looked up at the clock to see how soon his mother would be home. Maybe there was still time for another flash of blinding pleasure. It was too late to go out anyway.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Moving Day

It was the day to do it and there was no way around it. The sun was high up in the sky and the air was crackling slightly with a hint of cold, and it was the perfect day to go walking or riding and not the day to be sweating here at the apartment, lifting a heavy brown sofa and some chairs and trying to avoid being crushed by them as we pulled them down the steep stairway, and lifting them yet again onto the bed of the truck and managing to tie them with found rope and belts and bungee cords; this was definitely not the day for this, but there was no other day because today he was leaving and I didn’t really want him to go but there was no way around it and, back when we first sat in the living room and talked, back when he nodded his head in an attempt at friendly shyness, with his brown hair in a mess of half combed curls and his hands folded over his dirty ripped jeans, back when he was simply a nuisance that gave me a few laughs over breakfast and sometimes over dinner, if neither of us had a girl staying overnight, all the way back to that day when we talked and he told me that he was moving, that he had found the "one", whatever he meant by that, and he was going away and I just shrugged and said "cool" and nodded my head intending to show clear and unequivocal nonchalance, that day I also said, "well, when the day comes to move all your stuff out, I will help you…" and he said, "are you sure? I don’t want to be that big a hassle, it’s going to be a lot of stuff, you know, I’ve lived here longer than you have…" and when he said that I remembered the first day I showed up, when I came to be interviewed by this smiling little guy who was only a little older than me, and I tried to be serious and he saw me being serious and he offered me some pot and I smiled and hesitated, but then he nodded and squeezed his left eye in something that was not quite a wink, letting me know that it truly was ok to take it, and I did, and we sat on the same brown sofa, the same one where we sat when he told me he was leaving, and we sat there for hours smoking pot and telling old jokes and remembering old girlfriends and that very same day we became roommates and that very same day he told me he would do no further interviews, the whole process was over, and I was living there now, and I brought my stuff a few days later, and it was only a couple of bags and a few boxes, and he laughed at how little I had, and he pointed out how much stuff he had accumulated in the time that he had lived here, and he pointed out the two bikes and he told me I could use one whenever I wanted to, and one of the park trails started right across the street and we could go riding sometime, and in fact, we did, more than once, and we rode all over the park together for entire Saturdays of sunshine and sweat and we smoked pot in the living room every other night and we watched funny movies and made up our own punch lines when the movie just didn’t have enough laughs and we had little parties that sometimes turned into big parties and girls passed out on the same old sofa, the stained brown sofa, and sometimes the girls ended up in his bed and sometimes they ended up in mine, but no matter where they ended up, they would disappear by breakfast, and we were once again alone in the apartment and we were eating Cheerios while going over the details of the party from the night before, and he was shorter and skinnier than I was, but he was so much better at picking up girls that he would pick them up two or three at a time and give me the leftovers which were not bad at all, and we would laugh together later and slap our hands together over our heads and we would smoke some more pot, right on that brown sofa, which was in fact the sofa that was now tied up in the bed of the truck, with found rope and belts and bungee cords and I was standing behind the truck, calling to my friend, telling him how to move the truck, making sure he didn’t hit the walls or the parked cars, making sure he left safely, with his big brown sofa and his jokes and his girls and his easy breakfast and his crazy parties, all tied up behind his truck, all ready to go and never come back. As easily as he took me in, that’s how easily he would leave. And all I could do was help and smile and crack a few more jokes, before the time for laughter truly ended, and we quickly shifted from roommates to friends to acquaintances to names on a cell phone to vague memories of parties and pot and a brown sofa where we used to talk and laugh, a brown sofa which was now tied to the back of a black pickup truck. It was simply the day to do it and there was no way around it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wild Cats

Those lil’ kitties creep out from under the fence and bite- one, two, three! Gobbling mouthfuls of kibble gone soggy in the rain. Then they glance furtively up at me with bright blue eyes and dash back under the fence. One is littler, more delicate of build, and I think she must be the female and the other is getting a bit bigger, a tad huskier about the chest and can no longer fit under the same gaps that his sister does, so he must dart a little further to a bigger hole. There is a at least one more from their litter of orange crème-cicle kitties and this third is more weary than the other two, always rushing into the shadows long before I am near enough to get a good look.
There are other cats with them much of the time. Some big and fat and clearly domestic and others who may or may not be cared for by one who would call themselves their master. I have seen a striped cat and a black cat with them from time to time. I hear them at night either fighting or mating or both, yowling eerily like tortured babies in the ally between apartments.
They live under an industrial trash bin in the lot next to my building. In front of that gated lot, people from the surrounding neighborhood dump their rubbish, old mattresses, broken chairs, lamp shades, shoes toys and music boxes. My children have often speculated that the kittens are living beneath all of that rubbish, but now it is clear, even to them, that theses kittens turned cats live under the trash bin in the yard, because the debris comes and goes from week to week but the cats remain.
When they were small, I first noticed them running out of the garage at night when I came down to do laundry. The sight of them pleased me so that I brought them a saucer of milk. I don’t know whether they drank it or not, but the mounds of soggy cat food in front of the fence indicated that I was not their only admirer. No doubt they are viewed as both adorable and a scourge by the neighborhood as a whole.
Some will, like me, wish them well and hope that they have nice enough lives out there, and others will curse them when they find the dumpsters in the garage spilled upon the ground.
I like cats and because I do, most cats like me when we meet. I speak to them in cat tongue and this usually pleases them very well, because even if I have got the pronunciation all wrong, at least I have tried, whereas most people won’t.
The little alley cats, however, ignore my cat talk. They don’t care if I like them, they don’t like anyone that walks on two legs. They are wild cats with no desire to speak to stupid people like me. Their eyes are cold and unyielding, heartily disinterested as they wait behind the fence for me to pass out of their way, not caring what I say in English or in Cat. That is how I can tell that some of their companions do live or at least have lived with people, because when I pass by, some of these cats get together and say hello. The little wild cats care not at all, but the others look into my eye as if they understand me. Actually they look at me rather like children who are embarrassed that their old mother has come to speak to them while they are among their friends. They don’t want to be unkind or impolite but nor do they want to show the wild cats how domestic they are. So they look embarrassed and urge me to be on my way so that they can play with the wild kids.
It has started raining again and is very cold out, so now the alley cats must be huddled under the great industrial bin together, the three orange and white siblings all filled up on their wet food, and I am cold but dry while thinking of them, whereas they are not thinking of me at all, but rather visiting whatever plane it is that cats visit when they dream. I wish them happy hunting there, just as I wish it upon them here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Walking Home

Younger Sister looked up to make sure that Older Sister was still there. They walked together through the busy intersection, Younger Sister only half a step behind. She looked down at Older Sister’s sneakers, as they rhythmically flapped against the pavement, and made sure to follow closely. When they reached the sidewalk, she looked up once again and saw that Older Sister was veering to the left. Younger Sister followed closely as always and she veered to the left in precisely the same way. Older Sister never turned around. She knew that Younger Sister was following. There was no need to check. The main large intersection was behind them and they now turned into the park, away from the loud noise of motors and horns, away from the crowd and into a frail world of bent branches and singing pigeons. Younger Sister was always grateful for these brief spaces when the pavement fell behind them and the world was once again full of color and simple light. The cars were still close enough to be heard, and, in fact, some cars still rolled right by them, their wheels screeching lightly on the asphalt, as they walked on the narrow trail of dirt that made its way through the giant city park. But it was just enough quiet, just enough green, to make her imagine that they had traveled far, together, Older Sister and her, and maybe now they would be part of some great adventure, something out of the little illustrated books that she collected, and maybe the cars would eventually disappear and there would only be the two of them, walking through the woods, the deep dark forest that went on for miles and miles, a forest they had never encountered, a forest they had never known. Maybe in the sudden realization that the world had changed, maybe then Older Sister would finally turn around and look at her and check to see if she was still there.
Meanwhile Younger Sister followed, like she had followed coming out of their mother’s womb, just ten minutes behind, but in those ten minutes was a lifetime, and now Older Sister had the crowds of friends around her and the many suitors all eager for a moment of her attention, for a flash of her brilliant eyes, which were so much like hers, yet so different, and she had the ears and eyes of their teachers, and the power to decide when to walk through the park, when to take the bus, when to make their way up the stone steps that lead to the lake, and Younger Sister would follow quietly, always making sure that Older Sister’s sneakers were still ahead of her, always looking up to see where she would turn.
It would take no more than ten minutes to cross the park, ten minutes to make their way through the shadows of the trees, and up and down the gentle curves of the dirt path, and across the quiet inner road, and down the slope and along the little stream and then back up through another dirt path and, by that time, the houses would be just a block away and the illusion of an endless dark forest would be finished. But in those ten minutes, Younger Sister could imagine that the path would go forever and maybe soon Older Sister would say to her "Here, this is where we should sit. Let’s sit here and talk." But of course Older Sister was just quiet, stepping with clear decision across the obstacles on her way, the little roots, the pebbles, the empty beer cans fading in the sun, and Little Sister was quiet as well, her eyes tightly focused on Older Sister’s sneakers as they stepped away in front of her.
As they made their way around the dirt path, Younger Sister saw a man’s foot sticking out of a parked car and she thought that she had seen this before. She then saw a couple laying beside each other on a white sheet and she hoped that someday she would be here with a beautiful boy that would cradle her in his arms and talk to her and tell her all the things that Older Sister would not say. She looked up to see if Older Sister had noticed the couple but she only looked straight ahead, certain of her route, impervious to any distractions. To their left was a stone bridge with arches of red brick and a woman making strange scratches on a large yellow paper. Little Sister wondered if this woman was also imagining this strange world of possibilities that opened up to her when the shadows of the trees fell on her and the loud sound of traffic faded into the past. She tried to look at the drawing that the woman was making, but she was too far away, and Older Sister would not stop. She wondered then what would happen if she just walked over and looked at the strange drawing and didn’t say anything at all. Would Older Sister just keep on crossing the street and never turn towards her? Would she just keep on walking until she was completely out of Little Sister’s sight? Would she turn around then? She felt the touch of temptation come across her, a surge of innocent lust that grew from her crotch and traveled up to her chest. She even made an initial gesture, a physical move to the right, just to see if Older Sister reacted, just to see if Older Sister did anything at all. But Older Sister just kept on walking and so did Younger Sister. It had only been an impulse and it was already a thing left behind.
It was only ten minutes across the park. It was only ten minutes of difference. But in those ten minutes there was an entire life, and in this life Older Sister lead, and Younger Sister followed. She looked up at Older Sister once again as they crossed the street, making sure that she was still there, making sure that they were still together and they quietly made their way back home.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Moment To Be Alone

An hour was all he needed, maybe a half hour when there was too much work, maybe less if the calls were falling like leaves from the tree of endless complaints, the strange tree that he was meant to trim daily but was always overgrown by the time he returned. But an hour was what he really needed and what he hoped for in the long spaces where there was only a computer terminal, a phone and his own hands typing away at a keyboard, like endless little footsteps that go nowhere, nowhere at all and very fast, when the light was yellowish and fuzzy and the window was glazed over with the steam of the heater and the breath of the people that walked by and talked in whispers, because everyone had to be working, and he was too, and his mind was so deeply focused on the glaring computer screen that he could barely hear the sound of the people behind him, or the cars outside, or the radio in the assistant’s cubicle, turned down real low, which only made it travel further and find its way underneath his skin where it would reside for hours, even after he was long gone and there was no longer any radio there, or the sound of his boss talking loudly to another manager on the phone, going over the latest ball game, laughing loudly, his feet up on his desk, just a few steps away.
But if he had an hour, just an hour, with nobody around, then that made it all disappear as if by magic, it made things come back to a place where he could vaguely remember who he was, and why he was, or if it wasn’t really remembering, at least it was a kind of lucid imagination that could stand in for memory, and maybe it was better than real thoughts. Here in his car, alone among the trees and the birds and the joggers and all the other creatures that lived in the park, he could at last breath, and it would take him a full ten minutes to get his breathing down to a place where he could smell again, and then he could smell the leaves and the flowers and the leather seats of his brand new car that he only drove for a couple of hours each day, and the smell of his own sweaty skin which he now realized other people might smell as well, but maybe they were just as clogged up as he was and maybe they were just as compressed as he was and maybe they were just as lost as he was so maybe they would have no smell, no smell like he did, until he was alone, here in the car, and by that time there was nobody else around, so he could only smell the sweat of the joggers as they passed by but nobody could smell him, and it was so beautiful that, for that moment, the smells were like a symphony of aromas and all the different aromas fit in so perfectly that he wouldn’t have rejected any one, not even the most noxious, not even the black smoke that trailed through the branches from the trucks that passed by on the main road just a block away, not even the putrid urine fumes that came from the homeless man that slid his way from one nowhere to another, sliding close to all cars, maybe hoping one would be open and a gold watch would be inside, or at least some change. He wouldn’t trade any of them, not at all, because they all added up to a kind of silence, a silence that drove into him through his nose and filled his lungs with delight and calm ecstasy and soon, after another ten minutes had passed, he would be smiling and his face felt strange for a moment, as if doing a strange acrobatic move that it wasn't accustomed to and then he would know that it was only a smile and it was all ok, at least for now.
It was only then that he would lean his seat back, all the way back so that his face would be looking up at the roof of the brand new car and then he would throw caution to the wind, and set aside all worries of who might see him or who might not, or what they may think or what they may not, and then he pushed his feet outside the window and he opened his mouth wide and swallowed the air like heavy food that would sustain him and then he yawned so powerfully that his whole body trembled, and even the car might have shaken a bit like a horse shaking beneath the weight of its master. Then he was smiling broadly and he knew that he had what he wanted, what he truly needed, the only thing he really asked for: a small moment to be alone, here in the park, in the middle of the trees and the birds and the joggers, just a few blocks away from the building where the computer terminal still waited for his return.
Ten more minutes and the sounds would begin to pulse through him, the footsteps outside, the songs that slid like silver necklaces enchanted by wizardry through the latticework of the thin branches above him, his own breathing which by now had become slow and heavy and then he could feel himself release even further and the sounds had become a drone and the drone was the street itself and the car was still and quiet but for him it was all moving and that movement signified that he was travelling, and he was further than anyone could suspect and the trees gyrated in the window and the window itself gyrated and then he closed his eyes and there was only darkness and the sound of teardrops falling on a vast pool of dark oily water. He stood alone, wet up to his ankles, and the noise of the cars driving by his own parked car were like waves, and the songs of the birds were like flashes of thin lightning across the infinite blackness of the sky and here he was truly alone, and this is all he needed, this is all he wanted. Soon he would be ready to return and the people could keep on whispering and the radio could keep on making its trebly soft complaints and the boss could keep on talking loudly onto the phone. After a moment such as this, he could take another afternoon, maybe another morning, just as long as he got an hour, maybe a half hour sometimes, but ideally an hour. That was all he really needed.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Black oil dripping like sticky medicine from the tapered glass cylinder of a bottle dropper. It is soap? Is it blood? No, it is memory bubbling forth from the deep recess pushing up from underneath and cracking the brittle earth at the surface. I thought I had buried you where none would find you, but alas, I find you because you are buried within me. In the fresh green fragrance pressed from the leaves of a tender plant by searching fingers, I draw the smoky outline that is a recollection, and one leads to another under the gentle caress of late winter sun until an entire scene unfolds and rises like the pages of a pop up story book. My heart hurts as if it has been stapled together by a child, my paper heart splitting at the center because it has been over stuffed with cloudy cotton from a stained pillow, and on it is written,
"Here is a heart since you obviously don’t have one."
It spills out onto the dark umber of moist earth amid a scattering of small brittle leaves and the tiny delicate remains of baby snails who by some twist of fate could no longer use that creamy colored spiral shell which never gained it’s mature color. The quiet is like the sound of nothingness one hears when they press their ear to the mouth of a blue glass bottle; a hollow "shhhh". It drops from the tree tops adorned with adobe bells that hang still and silent. The long slender branches of the tree are thrown up like white arms reaching for the birds that didn’t come this morning, its leaves splotched and puckered with disease.
I can hear the beat of my heart in this quiet; the small insignificant sound of paper tearing, s l o w l y. The characters rise from the depths. Blue eyes, red hair, that I want to touch, to either caress or strangle. Brown eyes, tangled black hair that I want to watch or get as far away from as possible, like a woman teetering on a table top to escape a greasy glowering eyed sewer rat. A beard and a shouting voice which makes every semblance of control shut down as if someone turned the web shaped spicket so tight that not a drop of reason, civility or water can come through, and some one let the bear out of her cage and she’s looking to eat the trainer, no matter how hard he whips, the harder the better to make her bite. Ooooh the things that we drag out the back door on a moonless light to heave into a shallow grave dug with a simple black spade. How they creep back out later, sneaking through the cracks under doors and crawling along in dark hallways that don’t appear in the floor plan.
Poor bear, poor brother, poor sister, poor father. All in unmarked mounds, moaning to be released. And I finger my paper heart, and wonder who gave it to me, what mean child made it so poorly that I will have to make another from these things. I wait like a bounty hunter for each of those apparitions that come to feed on my raw attention. I pounce when they arrive and with silver dagger stay their appetite and take from them my trophy so that I may fashion for myself a new heart of the rendered parts of each and fill it with black medicine and pump it by hand. I cross over the ashy pit where I let my old heart burn, plucked from my breast and set aflame with an empty lighter that looked like hard green candy.
The silent unmoving oxygen fed the frenzy and the fire licked my old paper heart like a hungry little demon sucking at the bloody chambers of a pomegranate until only feathery white and gray ash remained. Then I crossed it, and hoped to die, and sprinkled a handful of seeds here, there and everywhere and call the birds to come. Come bring your song to fill up my new monster’s heart fashioned from the cadavers of ghosts. See how stretchy it is, made of ghost flesh. See how empty of fluff.
Bring your noise and let the flapping of your wings bring the wind. Let the wind ring the little adobe bells as you come down upon pale uplifted arms. Bring the crow, the sparrow, and the lark and let us make a joyful noise to release the spirits of my slain brethren. Black oil dripping like sticky medicine from the tapered glass cylinder of a bottle dropper. It is soap? Is it blood? No, it is the music I make, boiling away the remnants of a life left behind into glossy midnight hued bubbles in the black cauldron of a lonesome self.