Full Exposure

Fuck a love poem

It only took three days
for me to think
I’d finally found someone
perfect and I begged
you for your flaws
you discombobulated
my love flux capacitor
penetrated my apathy
and climbed my spine
with your diction
you made my heart
want
again
you made my heart
think all the time I’d wasted
wanting to find my match
my someone
were the final yards
to a destitute race
but then you called it quits
while I made foolish plans
left me to wallow
in a murky shower
of self deprecation
and wonder who gets to love you
and why she’s not me

Dirty Halo

She tripped on it
rambling through
the forgotten field.
The grimy thing sat amidst
a pile of rotten junk,
The dirty halo.

She wiped it on her sleeve,
drab and hanging loose
on cold bones
like a mossy fern after
Winter’s damnation.

Spinning the halo
on a fingernail,
an eclipsed moon.

Clouds pinched at each other
grey, like the saggy suit
of a man
with a furrowed brow,
a bleak prayer on his heart
culminating into a trinity
of holy mystery.

The faded halo
now forgotten,
kicked and bent
like the neck of a sinner
who’s bowed head
could never
steep far enough,
deep enough
down
to reach
the pit
of forgiveness.

*    *      *   Airplane Wishes      *       *   *

thought i           saw a             shooting

star

it was

just a

plane

but i             made a wish                 anyway

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♦                                                      *

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BECAUSE FRIEND IS JUST
FIEND WITH AN R

I’m always late for some work where I just
copy and collate something for someone in some class
I don’t care about.  And then when I sit down to type
out my homework I really don’t care about just something
to get a grade I care even less about when I think.

Friend is just fiend with an R.
And maybe none of it all matters.
And we’re all just some insanedivinescientific
evolving experiment and how easy
it is to go from being someone who
matters to someone else who doesn’t
to just some
one being alone.
A fiend.
For something, everything, and anything,
you give up everything and anything
for that one thing
because that is everything
to you.
Even if you’re just a joke,
kidding yourself
on a stainedandsplintered
popsicle stick.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Is my manifesto, manifesty?  You tell me.

language is my guitar

A man sits at a desk wired to a speaker and some contraption with a bunch of knobs on it, something like a soundboard.  He flips the power switch and it lights up flashing red and green.  He starts reading the labels on the knobs and turns one on, and hears voices.

“I want to kill myself,” says A.

“There’s no shame in suicide,” says B.

“Who said that?” asks A.

“I just did,” says B.

“But like who. Who?” asks A.

“I don’t know but truer words have never been spoken,” says B.

He switches it off and turns another knob labeled After Marge Piercy.

“If it wasn’t for Marge Piercy, then well, I don’t think any of us would be here.”

Where’s here?

“Well, yeah she really knew me, I mean those sneakers she gave me, big and floppy, falling off the backs of my heels.”

“What were you there for?” says a female voice, she sounds young, but like she has kids, like she can snap into a sharp say-your-full-name-like-a swear-word tone at any second.

“Because I was a gentleman pleaser.  And before you ask, no.  Not a hooker, not a prostitute, not an escort. It may sound silly now, but I needed the money, and I knew how to make them really want me, to be happy.  So did what I had to.”

No one’s judging you here, girl, we were all there for something.

“I could tell she wanted to do something, to try and save me some way but knew she couldn’t.”

“I don’t she would have kept coming back to the clinic if she didn’t feel that way.  All those protestors with their pictures of aborted fetuses and the phone calls.”

“Didn’t the whole thing start with a phone call, some lady asking if that’s where they kill babies?”

“What do you think happened with them?” asks a different female voice, meek, like she’d just woken from a nap.

“Brian and Maria? They were engaged but I don’t think they got married.  She was always at the clinic and I heard them fighting once when I was there.”

“Me too.  I know his Dad died when he was pretty young and after that guy came there with a gun, he probably couldn’t handle it.”

“That was my step-father,” says the meek voice, “I told Maria about him, raping me, and he found out.  They found a gun on him.  If they didn’t make it, it’s my fault.”

“Don’t say that child,” says the voice that sounds like here name should be Shirley or Maybell, “you know if it weren’t for Maria, and people like Maria, there would be a lot more girls on the streets, having unprotected sex, and getting pregnant before they even leave high school.  I’m sure Maria is happy wherever she is, with or without Brian.  So you mind me asking how things turned out with your step father?”

“Uh, no I guess.  He got arrested, mom bailed him out, and I ran away.  Never go to tell Maria how bad I felt about the whole thing.”

“I’m sure she knows.”

The man turns on another knob, the light is orange, and the label says, Hopeless.

“I can’t believe I actually married Zach,” says a female voice, it’s bubbly, early twenties, maybe.

“It was an early one, probably good for Tiger Beat or something,” says another.  It’s not quite monotone, but close.  “I guess that means the love potion worked.”

“Yeah right, there are no such things as loves potions.”

“Now you’re sounding like me.”

“No just like her, we all sound like her.”

“But isn’t marrying Zach what you wanted?  Maybe the psychic lady was right, she said you would find your true love.”

“The psychic lady was taking advantage of a boy crazy teenager.  And if you’ll recall she said my crush would find his true love, I just knew that it was me.  And then he asked me to help Sally with her homework because her parents wouldn’t let her hang out with him unless she pulled her grades up.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right.  That’s when I won the spelling bee.  You know I still read the dictionary.”

“Of course you do because we didn’t change, you’re still a sarcast-a-bitch, and yes I know that’s not a word, and I married Zach.  All wrapped up, just like that.  It’s never that easy Alissa.”

“Maybe not but you can’t blame her, that’s just who we are.  Katrina and Alissa, best friends since seventh grade, she loves us, we make her happy, and so she wanted to make us happy.”

The man turns the knob until the red light above it goes black.  There’s a knob with a yellow light flashing with the label, Stars of Summer, he turns the knob and here’s a male voice.  It’s deep and the words come out slow.

“She killed my dad.  She killed him and made my mom wait three days to tell me.  She knew I wasn’t going to call back right away.  She made my mom hold onto my dad’s death for three whole days with out me.  She was “saving me” that’s what she said when I came home that Monday morning from New Jersey and we sat outside with the curtains flipping in the wind.  She said it was the closest she had ever been to saving someone’s life, her son’s life.  Saving me.  All I could do while my mom called everyone was think about those three days.  I still can’t remember exactly what I was doing, working.  Trying to move up in the company.

And now what?  She leaves me clutching at a tumbler my dad used to drink from on the brink of misconstrued alcoholism and augmented sobriety.  But she’d never let me kill myself even if I wanted to.  She’s going to keep me going to work and worrying about my mom back in Texas, even though my mom is probably fine.  She has God.  She’s always had God.  And Rock.  But Rock’s dead now and I don’t know why, a heart attack.  A heart attack in August.  Is that supposed to mean something?

I don’t know how my mom stays so strong.  Stop calling her Vicki, call her my mom.  She needs to make sure people know that—about my mom—that’s she’s strong and Rock wasn’t an alcoholic, and neither am I.  Maybe if she why I stopped drinking, things would be different.  When I decided to leave San Antonio, I knew it was the right thing to do.  Why New Jersey?  I’m not sure, that’s probably where she’s from, or her parents, or maybe she just met someone from there.

But when I graduated from Penn, I knew I wanted to do things differently, and that was just one of those things.  Or maybe it wasn’t my decision.  Maybe that was hers too, but it feels like me, and that’s why I did it.  And I was happy, work was good, everything was good.

And then my mom calls, to tell me about my dad, and doesn’t leave a message.  She doesn’t call back, and when I think about it now, she must have told everyone not to tell me either.  I mean, how could Charlie or Maddie not call me?

I was trying to become a better person because I have this great family and friends I’ve grown up with, for all of my life, and so many people don’t have any of that.  And I was doing what I could to appreciate that, trying to become a better person for them, and then my dad dies.  A heart attack?  That’s not fair, that’s not right, is it?

She killed him, in the middle of summer.  And now every time I look up to the stars, I think about my dad, teaching me the constellations, and in them, I see his face.”

The man turns the knob until the room is silent again.  He reads the labels: Four Weeks, Home, Happy Hour, Shock Therapy, The Candle Shop…and then he sees a blue light in the bottom corner of the board.  It doesn’t have a label but when he turns it on he hears a whisper that turns into something squeaky, and then starts to tremble like static.

I need to do this, to keep going.  The voices though, they won’t want stop coming.  I think they want out and so I try to get them out but I don’t think I’m doing it right because they keep coming back.

I try to manifest the complexities in their truth.  We all want truth.  Truth.  In the dark white blankness.  To get out whatever is inside the light behind my heart, and wakes me from my sleep, even when I wish I could sleep forever.  Truth.  Is subjective but language is real.  And I see language like a can of paint—no multiple cans of paint, a closetful of cans of paint all stacked up on top of each other.  Rows and columns in all kinds of shades; and even if I used whole rows and columns, painting everyday, I’d get nowhere because the closet is that deep.

There’s a pain shaded paint, a lime green one called vodka tonic, black with gold sparkles is called gossip, there’s one gritty black and white one, like static on the television called for the grade, which is quite similar to the shade of lazy.

It can get messy when your tongue devours words like a blue otter pop on the first day of July.  It can get unequivocal and tiresome.  It can get mischievous and unbearable because I’m tenacious about my truth seeking mission and I don’t want to stop until I’ve said just what I was trying to say, like I’m carving each sentence out of a block of ice, and my tongue is on fire.

Stars of Summer


Brian sits at his desk the layers of paper flattened out underneath

the glass.  He looks up at the calendar still stuck

on August: Milford account update; pick up dry cleaning;

electricity bill; student loan bill: everything past due. The

lamp curled over shoving light on graphs between manila folders

with dates on white labels.  His elbow pushes at the stack

making it widen when he adjusts the lamp to shine on the glass.

His duffle, spilling out, sits next to the

door leaning over on itself like an old man with a cane.

It’s raining outside the window in his studio smacking

down on the pavement.  The sun will be up soon trying to

break through his curtain-less blinds along with loud

horns and screeching tires.

He holds the glass to his face with his palm. Bottoms up. He takes in deep breaths, taking a large hit of the glass his cheeks ballooning. A hot feeling starts to catch around his neck and move down his throat into his stomach unsettling and suffocating like carsickness in the middle of the backseat. The glass is opaque as he slams it down to the desk, panting, and clutching at it.  “God dammit,” he says, “God damn it all.”

***

Brian stood outside the San Antonio Airport waiting for Charlie’s faded blue jeep to drive up, the paint so worn you could see the metal.  He gave Brian a nod signaling the door handle worked, and after Brian moved over the Snickers bar wrappers, socks, shoes, and empty bottles, he sat down, and Charlie told him where to find the find stash and the papers, and to check under the seat for the flask.

Charlie always picked Brian up from the airport when he was coming home to visit.  It wasn’t a problem since they’ve been next-door neighbors since both of them can remember.

“You sure you don’t want to hit this, I saved it for you? I got it from this chick I met at Psychfest.  It’s from San Francisco.”

“It smells great, but I’m good, really.  Besides, we’re almost home.”

“You act like they don’t know. I think I saw them smoking a joint on the porch once,” said Charlie.

Brian laughed, throwing his head back and slapping his knees.  “Vicki and Rock.  I wish.  I wish that were true,” Brian said, “just so you could tell me about it.”

“Anyway, the point is you’re an adult, an adult with a degree.  You can do whatever you want.”

Charlie had slipped into his house by the time Brian got his bag from the trunk.  He put it down on his front steps to pull the screen door open when his mom yanked it open.  “My baby!” she said, wiping her hands on her apron.  “How is my baby?  Put that bag down and give your momma a hug,” she said, wrapping her arms around Brian.  “Dinner’s almost done, all right.  I know you got to be hungry, look at you just skin and bones, what have you been eatin boy?”

“Vicki, give the boy some room to breathe,” Rock said, coming in from the backyard holding a spatula in one hand, a beer in the other.

“Oh hush now Rock, I know how long it’s been since I saw him, but he’s home now,” she said, looking at Rock and then back to Brian.  “He’s home now,” she said, kissing Brian on the cheek.

“You done now Vick?”

Vicki scowled at her husband, “I’m gonna go finish cooking, you know your dad’s been out there burning everything up.  Charlie comin over?”

“Yes ma’am,” Brian said.

“All right,” she said, taking the spatula from Rock and slipping out to the backyard.

By nine o’clock, most of the neighbors had stopped by.  Maddie and Chuck brought a balloon bouquet and a card, the Wilsons brought him a tie, it looked like one of Chester’s old ties, but it was still very nice.  It was deep blue with a tiny thread of gold woven throughout, nearly invisible, but with the right light, it gleamed.  Chelsi was the first girl Brian ever kissed after they played tetherball and he slammed the ball so hard it almost knocked her over.  He kissed her flushed red cheek and she shoved him to the ground.  She came over with her husband Adam who used to eat ants for nickels and their dog Pookie, a brown Yorkshire terrier that wouldn’t stop barking.

Charlie and Maddie were washing and drying dishes.  The walls had lost their post-it note coloring and looked more like white out.

“Well that was fun,” Charlie said, wiping his hands on his faded jeans.

“Wasn’t it?” said Maddie turning around in the kitchen.

Charlie and Brian looked at each other and then to Maddie, she was running her fingers over the drawers and cabinets, inching everything closed.  They laughed from their stomachs, clutching the counter, and bending at the knees, waiting for Maddie to look at them with squinty eyes her mouth opening to say what?

They walked around the block to Maddie’s truck.  She took off her work shirt exposing a black tank top, showing off her complex hips and bony shoulders.  Her jeans rode low on her square hips; Charlie called her etch-a sketch.

“Hey Etch, you want to come hang out in ‘the ment’ with me and B-smart.  Maybe you can get him to tell you why he quit being fun.”

“I didn’t quit—“ Brian started.  “I’m not getting into this again.”

Maddie stopped on the sidewalk pulling her arms in and folding them across her chest.

“It’s nothing,” Brian said.

Charlie poked at the lock with his keys while they stood behind him silently.  Charlie’s mom was either asleep or working, so they kept silent until they reached the basement.  Charlie’s basement had this smell to it, like virus, the scent of sick on someone’s breath.

“What is he talking about,” Maddie asked the moment the basement door shut.

“It’s nothing, C-Horse is just upset I’m not gonna get stoned with him anymore.”

“You quit smoking?” She asked, picking up the tambourine, tapping at it with her palm like a song for mist instead of rain.

“And drinking,” Charlie said, picking up his guitar.  He picked at the chords, playing the same soft rift over and over again, falling in between the jingles of the tambourine.

“Okay listen, I didn’t quit anything.  I stopped.  That’s all.”

Charlie strummed Betsy. A beautiful Collings D Series, Brian’s parents helped him get Charlie for his thirteenth birthday, a year after his Dad left for the open skies of Colorado.  The newest is the bass, she doesn’t have a name yet, but she looks like a Gwendolyn.  Charlie won her by eating forty-seven jalapeno peppers in under a minute.

Maddie slapped at the tambourine, and Charlie strummed Betsy until after midnight when Brian walked they walked to her where they sat on the curb pulling at the grass.

“So,” she said, folding a blade into a little green accordion, “you stopped?”

Brian nodded and leaned back, looking up at the sky.

“How do you feel?” Maddie asked, pulling little shreds of the folded grass and then flicking them.

“I feel…I feel like that blade of grass.”

Maddie rested her head on Brian’s shoulder.  “Remember that go-kart?”  She laughed, wrapping her arm in his.  “My dad kept telling me to put it away, but I didn’t.  I guess I was hoping that one day something would happen and it would turn into a real go-kart.  I knew that if I was a good little girl and helped out at the shop and did all my homework, I’d come outside one day and see a bright red two seat-er sitting out there.  And then it was gone one day.  And no one said anything.  And I forgot about it.  I asked my dad about it a few weeks ago.  He said he put it away because he didn’t want me wasting my best days trying to make something because when I got older that’s all I’d ever do.”

Brian did remember.  He remembered Maddie invisible behind the counter of Chuck’s Hardware and how excited they all were when she told them she could get the supplies. After four days, it looked like a caveman’s wheelbarrow on exhibit in her backyard with its bent nails and one wheel slant until one day it was gone and it was hot and they ran around each other, arms full of balloons plump with water, stretched blues, yellows, and reds splattering from the sky.

Brian walked home after Maddie drove off.  He peeked around the corner to the dining room, and saw his mother listening to the radio.

“Hey babe,” she whispered.

A row of bottles with black tops and colored bodies sat in front of her.  Little brushes and cotton balls, and different sized nail files all atop shopping ads from the paper.  Brian watched her run the little board across her fingernail, back and forth.  She held out her hand in front of her and then filed some more.  She had trouble opening the bottle and put the top between her teeth.

“Here Ma,” he said, “let me do that.”

“Oh thank you sweetheart, you know your father hates the smell of this stuff.”

He watched her fuss over every move, angling and re-angling the brush before touching it to her nail.  She bit at her lip, furrowed her brow, painted on the polish spreading it down the nail.

“Will you help me with my other hand?” She asked blowing arcs of air on to her nails.

“I’ll probably just mess em up.”

“It’s all right hon, don’t mind me, I’ll manage.”

Brian tried holding the brush at an angle.  He made jerky uneven strokes, getting paint sliding over the edge of her nail in the crinkled river of her cuticle.

“Thank you honey,” she said blowing at both hands.

“Ma, they look terrible.”

“They’re fine, I’ll just clean them up a little, but they’re better than me doing it myself.  You have no idea how hard it is to paint whatever hand you write with.  When you get married, you should paint your wife’s right hand, or left whichever.”

“Thanks ma, I’ll remember that one.”

“You think I’m kiddin?  Ask Maddie.”

“Maddie paints walls and stuff, not her nails,” Brian said looking at the names of the colors.  Saucy Hot Sauce.  Blue Metallic.  Petal Soft Pink.

“Brian, every girl knows how to paint her nails.  How’s she doing anyway? You two set a date?”

“Ma,” Brian said, leaning back in the chair.

“Don’t Ma me, you know you and that girl are in love with each other,” Vicki said, dipping a q-tip into the polish remover.

“She’s been my friend since we were five.”

“Best friends make the best lovers.”

“I’m going to bed now, good night Ma.”

Brian felt like the door to his room should say what’s wrong this picture on the front.  Like another life was put on hold and didn’t start going again until he stepped over the threshold.  There were blank spots on the walls from posters, pair of Chucks he forgot he owned, a small plastic bag of flakey brown weed hidden in a copy of 702 Spanish Verbs.  Brian knew what was wrong this picture; it was him.

“I’m moving to New Jersey,” Brian said, standing in the living room.  His parents sat on the couch with the air conditioner on, it was July and usually the only month Rock allowed it.

“New Jersey?” Vicki asked, sitting up in her chair.

“Yes Ma, New Jersey.”

“But you’ve only been home for a month,” said Vicki.

Rock put his arm around Vicki’s waist, “that’s great son, you got a job lined up?”

“Workin on it, even with a business degree it’s tough,” Brian said.

Vicki took Rock’s arm off her and stood up from the couch.  “Well you can’t go out there if you don’t have a job.”

“He ain’t gonna get a job from here Vick,” Rock said.  “I think you’ll do good out there son, they got a lot of farms out there, don’t they?  You still remember how to work on a farm?”

“Yes sir, I’ve been looking into management and already sent out resumes to most of them.”

“See Vick, he’s a smart boy.   You raised him well.  He’ll be just fine.”

“I know we did,” she said, walking to the kitchen.  She pulled out a bag of onions, “that’s just what I’m afraid of.”

“Oh Vicki calm down now,” Rock said.  “Don’t mind her.  She was the same way on your first day of school.”

“Ma, don’t cry.  I haven’t even set up any interviews and I still have to find a place.” Her nails moved through the onions flashing golden flaked orange.

“Your father’s right,” she said, sniffling.  She stopped chopping and put the back of her hand in front of her eyes.  “I just never thought you’d grow up so fast.”

Brian was Vicki and Rock’s only baby.  He had his mom’s sapphire eyes and dark curly hair like his dad.  Vicki worried about not having a brother or sister for Brian.   She thought that being an only child might not be the best thing for him when she noticed the collars on his shirts.

“Brian, honey, you chewing on your shirts?”

“No mama,” he said, pushing his hands down in his pockets.

“Come here,” she said.  He ran over and gave her a hug.  She nestled him, smelling his hair, his goodness.  “Now let me see this shirt,” she said, pulling his collar between her fingers.  “Now honey, why would you lie about your shirt, I know you been chewing on your collars, baby?”

“Because I didn’t want you to be mad at me,” Brian said, turning away from his mom, his bottom lip starting to jut out.

“Oh honey, Vicki said, hugging him again, “ I want you to listen to me, all right.  Now I don’t want you to ever feel like you need to lie to me about anything, okay?  Even if you think I’m gonna be mad at you, I want you to tell me the truth because you know who don’t like lying more than me?”  Brian looked at his mother from under her chin.  “God.”

“So why are you chewing on your shirts honey?  People gonna start to think I don’t feed you.  I can make you a sandwich to hold you over til dinner?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“So what is it then?”

“I just do it,” he said, tucking his chin into his chest, “I don’t even know I’m doing it until my collar is all wet.”

“I’ve never seen you do it at home, somethin goin on at school?”

“No ma, it’s nothin like that.  I won’t do it anymore. I promise.”

“You know I’m not mad don’t you?  I just want to know if there’s somethin wrong.  Come here I want to tell you something,” she said moving the sewing machine away.  “You know your dad used to do somethin like that?”

“Really?”  Brian asked.

“Mmmhmmm, now don’t tell him I told you,” she said running her fingers through his hair, smoothing it down at the crown of his head.  “I noticed one night when we were studying he would keep running his thumbs over his eyebrows, and sometimes he’d lick his thumb real quick like this,” she imitated Rock darting his thumb to his tongue, “and then he’d flip a page, and move it over his eyebrow again.”

Brian laughed at his mom he thought she looked like a lizard.  “And then what happened?”

“I let him go on like that and kept studying like normal. He walked me home and I asked him about it.  I said, hey Rock, I’m not tryin to be rude or anything, but why do you do that thing with your eyebrows? He didn’t even know he was doing it until I asked about it. I just felt awful.  He said it was something he did when he was a little boy like you when he got nervous.”

“What was he nervous for?”

Vicki closed her eyes and held them there for a second, and smiled.  “Because that’s the day your father knew he wanted me to marry me.”

***

Brian sits outside watching the curtains on the line, drying.  The sun splashes in the windows, lighting up the house.  Vicki comes back carrying two tumbler glasses in one hand, the other holds a large glass decanter with a honey brown liquid sloshing as she walks over and puts it on the table.

Brian remembers his dad after dinner moving his hand across the wood before opening it, checking for scratches or a dent but there never were.

She sits down and scoops out ice from the cups that held the sweet tea and drops them into the tumblers. Brian smells a rich thick scent, stagnant on the air like the glass is sitting at the tip of his nose.

“It really is better this way,” she says.  “The closest I’ll ever get to saving someone’s life, my son’s life.”  She picks up her glass and holds it underneath her nose.  A breeze picks throwing the curtains up and back down the light starting to fade.  Her nails are smooth and shiny, the pale pink of her natural nails lit up in the sun.  “It’s not that uncommon from what they told me,” she says moving the glass around in its condensed puddle.  “They said it could have been caused by an earlier problem that Rock wasn’t lettin on about, but I don’t like to think that way.  You shouldn’t either.  What we need to do is put our faith in God.   It’s all part of His plan, His will is our way.”

Brian didn’t know anything about God or his plan or anything else.  The only thing he knew was his father, his Rock, was gone and dead and wasn’t ever coming back.  And the other thing Brian knew was it took too damn long to know any of it.

It was Thursday when she called, around six.  Some of the guys at the office were taking Elliot out to celebrate his promotion so he let it go to voicemail.  She didn’t leave a message.  She didn’t call back.  He called her back on Sunday and as he was flipping his phone closed when he heard the whirred pause of the answering machine.  And then his mother’s voice thanking everyone for their condolences and saying please forgive her if it took her some time to get back to them because she was making arrangements.  The message came and went too fast.  Brian held his phone unsure if he heard the beep, or if the silent realization had blocked it out.

Brian thought about those three days when he booked his flight home early Monday morning.  He took a taxi to his house and Charlie’s jeep looked midnight blue in the dark shadows before daybreak.  He carried his duffle inside and left it by the door.  He pulled boxes out of closets.  His mother held up clothes to him before tossing them aside.  He woke himself up in the middle of the night trying to remember Elliot’s last name still thinking about those three days.

He scraped the grill for every one of them, firing it up letting the old meat burn off.  He scraped and slid that brush up and down jabbing at the dirty metal until sweat spots pushed through the back of his shirt like a paper towel in a Bounty commercial.  If not for the splintered handles one might think it had only been used for a few months and not the decade plus, of birthday parties and hotdogs, Super Bowl parties, warm nights when they ate grilled steaks and full cobs of corn in the backyard and Rock would show him the constellations or tell him about the blind man that could see while they sat together passing the crossword between them, wooden toothpicks in their teeth.

August turned into September and even though the summer sun stretched into late hours, by the time Vicki walked up to speak, it had started tucking itself away.  Fans started to drop back below the chairs as Vicki stood at the podium her arms at her sides.  Her dirty blonde hair pushed behind her ears and hung straight down to her bare shoulders.

The picture of Rock was taken when they visited his parents in Georgia.  It was Brian’s junior year in high school after he submitted his application to Penn State.  They were sitting in the living room working on a crossword together.  Rock was quiet studying the clues, counting letters silently.  Brian watched his dad rubbing his finger over his eyebrows before jotting down an answer.  “It’s true what she told you about the library,” he said.  Brian sat still in his chair, his eyes on the television set. “If you find a girl that makes you chew on your collar, don’t let her go.”

“Today we’ve all come together to honor the life of Rock Gabriel Forrester.  I don’t have to tell ya’ll what that man means to me.”  She put one hand on the podium pulling the microphone closer, her voice getting softer, “I don’t have to say why I love him, why I’ve always loved him.”  She put her other hand on the podium, cupping them and leaning into the microphone, her voice starting to shake.  “Rock sure did love his Georgia Moon and he loved that grill of his too, nobody could tell Rock about his grill, except maybe me,” she said running her thumb over her nails one at a time.  “He loved working down at the school, teaching these boys how to turn a tree into a piece of wood.”  She smiled, slapping her hand flat on the podium, running her fingers against along the sharp woodened edges.  “He loved his boy, his one and only son,” she said, tears starting to fall.  “He loved him more than anything, and he was so proud of him.” She took in a deep breath and wiped at her cheeks.  “I know the Lord has him now,” she said her with her eyes down.  “He’s in good hands.   And I will keep loving him, honoring him, and cherishing him even though death has done us part, because that’s all I’ve got.  That’s all we’ve ever had.”

Vicki looked out at everyone gathered in front of her and raised her right hand touching her thumb to her tongue, smoothing it across her eyebrow, “In Jesus’ name,” she said, repeating the action on her left, “I pray.”  She brought her hands down, pressing them together in front of her face letting her elbows rest on the podium.  Amen.

My latest publication intended to make you chuckle 🙂

my attempt at the aubade

Parched
my tongue unfurls to the dry desert of my mouth
like a snake writhing in a dark cave,
unwinding slow
luring me from the abyss
that is my subconscious unconscious
escaping into the night.

Shades hide the shining forehead of the sun
as the earth rotates
birthing a new day
stealing the night away.

The dream fades along with the shiny flickers
on the backs of my eyelids
and I reach out to the empty space
next to me,
a breathy fear arises due to your absence
my palm flattens the warm gap you’ve left.

I turn away from the window
from the new day
from the hole you’ve created
shattering my complete comfort,
when I see your shadow emerge
in the cracked light of the doorway.

You come closer
holding a glass
a slosh whispers
as you place it in my hand
my fingertips, your knuckles
brush.

I close my eyes,
and put the brim to my lips
the snake writhes in anticipation.
I roll the edge along my bottom lip
before tipping it back
letting the water fall
and slide down the valley
of my throat
and hills that form my esophagus
surfing down like silk sliding off fingertips.

The water coats my throat
until it is wet
with satisfaction
My tongue dances
in the circumference of the empty glass.

My eyes open
and your shadow has evaporated,
next to me
your warmth delivers a shiver,
my thirst quenched
a new day drips closer.

————————————————————————————-

a short drug filled narrative

Home

I veer away from Diamond Drive, sirens wail, and red and blue lights eddy into the darkness.

For the past two months 1546 Diamond Drive was my place of residence.  It was a gorgeous house.  Not just gorgeous but beautiful, and everything in between.  Driving by, you might not notice it, you may even think it looks a bit small, but step over that threshold and it will take you over.   I can’t even say for sure I’ve seen every room in that house because of its size and depth.  To keep the house lit for a month has to be at least a couple grand.  But that’s not so much of a problem since Jay’s father died and left him the house.  Nothing has been a problem for him, or me, since that.  Not the bleached and bent grass or the garbage piling up on it.  I’m not sure when they stopped receiving the newspaper, the ones that were out front have been trekked over so much they would probably be unreadable.  But none of that worried Jay so I didn’t care either, and neither did anyone else that found their way to 1546.
But, I knew it wasn’t permanent.  But, I just wanted it to last for a little while longer.  But nothing does, and when that reality sets in harder than before, I head to the coast.  To the water and sand, waves breaking hard, and settling slow, a salty whisper at its lip.

I was fifteen years old the first time I truly experienced the absolute pacification of what I now call my realm of serenity.

The beach welcomed me into its arms that day.  A day I searched for solace like never before; it was my savior.  I wish my love for the beach was still that pure.  Now I’m in one of Jay’s old t-shirts broken sandal, kicking up sand, looking for the only thing that brings me peace.

The combination of papers, clothes, and food containers shift around in my back seat as I pull off down the road.  I lock my door and start off to the beach search, to get supplied, to score.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done it alone.  Jay’s been tying me off and shooting me up, slipping pills onto my tongue and bringing glass to the tip of melting point; taking us to the limit of ecstasy.  I try to remember his face; try not to forget it, but, the waves of pure stimulation and gratification start to overflow.  Right. Now. I can feel each. grain. of. sand.   I know exactly when the wave is going to fall over and crash into itself.

I wasn’t always this way, taking repeated tracks nowhere.  Things really changed when the guy that got my mom pregnant stopped sending child support the few months that he did send it.  My mom had to pick up a second job to support me and my younger brother, so when she was working I would lock Ryan in my mom’s room and invites some friends over to party.

I was making out with some guy in the living room, when I heard my friend Tia, screaming.  I almost bit his tongue as I scrambled off the couch to find out what was up.  Tia was pacing back and forth in front of the opened door.  She stopped and turned to me.

“Jackie,” Tia cried, “I think he’s dead.”

I found a bottle and took a sip before I stumbled over to see, my little brother passed out on my mom’s bed.

“He’s not dead, idiot!” I said.  “Ryan, Ryan, wake up you little shit-face!”  I plopped on the bed and his little nine year old body was heavy with stillness.  “Ryan,” I said putting my face right up to his, as our noses nearly touched.  I took a breath and he didn’t I whispered his name again and black emptiness filled my stomach.

My life after that isn’t very clear, like looking into the cloud painted sky murky white and no way to tell what the weather might bring.  The only thing clear is the beach.  I was there if I knew my mom would be home, and even when she wouldn’t be.  The horrid feeling that crept upon me when I was around my mother was unlike any emotion I’ve ever experienced.  Her eyes grew darker when she looked at me, like they were trying to shield themselves; they seemed to shrink, contracting away from me.  I thought I might die from the palpable guilt getting heavier every day, hour, and minute.  Smothering me, enveloping me at every thought that entered like a disc that just won’t stop skipping; scratched too deeply, and no way to move past the track.

The sand is cold but, in my hand it turns warm.   I hold my breath waiting for next wave to break.

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2 Responses to Full Exposure

  1. Pingback: New story on Full Exposure: Stars of Summer « what rhymes with orange?

  2. Pingback: Airplane Wishes (Reverse Haiku) | what rhymes with orange?

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