Thursday, December 8, 2011

the house with the prism in the window

Before I forget, the name of the street was hard to remember and I would make a wrong turn. But I’d eventually get there. The house right in the middle of a hill. A few more feet and it would’ve been sideways. Up the cement stairs to the landing where there are small shrines with skeletons of starfish, cow’s heads, nautical themed desert planter boxes with small cactuses flowering. Inside and a large bell deep resonates against the door.

It smells like garlic and chicken all the time. There is always a pot of soup on. In the kitchen you can look out the window through a prism shaped like a pyramid and see the city lights refracted a million times below. You might as well be on top of the hill after all. Back down the hallway and to the right, past the room where a man stretches cow and goat hide to make drum heads for his Congo classes, there is a small hole in the wall. Inside there is a Virgin Mary surrounded by dried roses, Christmas lights and sugar skulls. Up the stairs where a bike hangs precariously over your head and a sharp right up up up and you are in her loft.

She lives there, playing Mississippi John Hurt and punk music from Peru circa 1965. She must create. Her hands are either making something or wrapped around a glass of wine. Long, thin fingers. Skin like someone left the porch light on in August. Gold and brown Her dad is Chinese, her mom is White, same hands around the wine. But she has her father’s almond eyes. Black hair to her waist. She doesn't need to, but she wears huge earrings or long necklaces with wooden beads and bright colors. When she does Tai Chi, it is like someone is pulling her with puppet strings.

Sometimes she walks railroad tracks to find treasures. “look,” she holds up a rusted out tin can. Beans, PBR, maybe? “I can totally use this.” She sets it on top of several others to make a crude shooting station. Sometimes she buries dead animals to dig them up and use their skeletons later.
There is a wood saw in the corner to cut circles and gear-shapes. Once, she made a seat in the form of Shiva, all arms around the sitter so they could feel Glory. She salvages shells, feathers, rocks, from the nearby nature preserve and old saws and boxes thrown out on the side of the road. She paints and dyes and cuts and sews. Working at the coffee shop full time, she brings home doilies and brews them overnight in grounds, then pieces them carefully around a bird skeleton and some dried petals, acorns, and pine cones.

Every corner holds a wonder. A kimono clad figure in a carved-out cigarette box. A terrifying ash tray shaped like dentures. A ray fish preserved in formaldehyde years ago and tacked up on the wall, spiny tail shining in the lamplight.
Liz never opened up, but she didn’t have to. I could spend the evening making things out of leather and twine and she never asked. We were quiet and strange. Nothing wasted.

Friday, November 18, 2011

some people collect records, i collect disappointing evenings.

At a party last night and I couldn’t stop looking at girls right straight in the teeth. All of their mouths were different. Some had small, pointy daggers. Some had more gums than calcium deposits. Some had shiny white pearls. They laughed and smiled and talked to me and I pretended to be perfectly normal, staring at their mouths.
I went downtown to look for a beautiful, careless idiot. I pulled on my red lace mittens and clopped down the street, worn heels dragging. Numb hands. Too cold. I peered into dark bars and backed out before any stranger could touch me on the back to say, “esscuse me.” Around the third wood-paneled, warm hole-in-the-wall, I wandered in deep. I slipped between the people talking too loudly, the standers, the hangers on, then I floated back toward the door. Someone said, “We got a wanderer,” right next to my ear. A bicycle bell on the street and I kept my head down. Five blocks to the car, I pulled my purse inside of my jacket and zipped up. No one would mug a pregnant lady; especially one who doesn’t make eye contact. Seem to be stuck again. A record scratch or a shitty needle and I am playing out the same over and over. Over and over.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

sorry about being late.

you came running around the side of the house like a puppy all eager and silent and jumping over bushes.
then you sat on me. you got lake-colored eyes. sometimes brown, sometimes coke bottle green, sometimes in between.
i cried and freaked out more times around you than anyone else. that might mean something, but i can't figure out what.
it was so hot outside that we did not make it all the way down the road.
instead we sat next to your ice-producing air conditioner which, through its own puddle creation and electric nature, tried to kill you.
i am glad it did not kill you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


she was with her kids and they were teenagers now. all ready to cuss and punch. and for some reason she took their disdain personally, even though it was that time in a kid's life when it's natural to hate everything, or so i thought.
but i was walking with the boys dockside, and one kept stomping around. the younger told him, "you'll break your mother's back" and he said, "good." and kept on stepping on cracks.
they'd come from the desert and kept asking about cicadas and the different types of trees.
she was separated from them most of the time because her husband went crazy during the war and left her.
the eighteen year difference must be what does it. i have no choice but to look for her approval. even when she's all bleach blonde, fake tan, pancake-make-uped and doing her nails. cotton candy lipstick and layers of mascara. she could go without anything on her face and be beautiful. but it must be the job at the generic american food restaurant that demands she wear a mask like this.
the boys chose to ride in my car and the next time she was with me she put a cigarette between her cotton candy lips and said, "i think my boys hate me." i wanted to tell her it was not true.
it was so hot that the atlantic looked steamy. we climbed a sand dune and the sea oats were as still as the sunshine.
the older one ran straight toward the water. the younger started after him, then as if he'd entered a flashback and was six years old again (before the divorce, before smoking and pain pills, before either of them knew how to really hate) turned and yelled, "Look Mama, the ocean!"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

a good friend is hard to find.

I'm glad you could afford to travel the world but I wish you could afford to come visit me, instead.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

strangers that wave back

There was a guy who was named after a type of metal who was not at all hard. He was one of the few people around when I was going to shit. Even though I'd graduated, I'd go back to the school and haunt it. I was trying to keep busy to survive. Once I was in the bookstore waiting to meet him, thinking terrible darkness, and he parted the seas of people and put big, cozy headphones on my head without a word. Then we gathered his text books for the coming semester to the private tunes of wash out beach music.
I'd swim laps and he would sit patiently in the bleachers and look at pictures of his dog. He would wave at dogs. And strangers from park benches.

I was in that awful place where it hurts to breathe. All the bones come out because the person you liked the best put a reminder of ashes in your mouth. One afternoon I made him read the kiss-off letter and he said, "This is really personal. You shouldn't show this to people." But I thought he'd have insight into that kind of hurt. Turns out he didn't; instead he flatly told me that the city was full of beautiful people and that one was no more special than the next. At first I thought it was harsh, but when you begin to believe one is more special is when it takes a turn.

I've thought about not showing it to people. Not the letter, but the hurt. No one can help you, and no one wants to think about the unromantic, uninspired truth: that one person is no more special than the next. It could be anyone, anyone.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

along i-40 east and what i realized.

to date a man with a mohawk during these times, you must have tattoos, drink water instead of beer, take yourself seriously, and have an upturned nose.
i will never date a man with a mohawk because it is against nature.

on the outskirts of town where everything is for sale or rent, there is a shabby degraded building and one of those tacky scrabble-letter signs in front that has been altered to read: for elsa.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

-Charles Bukowski

Saturday, July 2, 2011


A BOY and a GIRL eat dinner near a window.

BOY: I go by the Raleigh Times all the time, and I see these two guys sitting out front. One of them looks like Neil Young and is like, 57 and the other guy is in his 30s and looks like a roadie and they just hang out there. Do you know em?

GIRL: Oh, no. I don't go down there that much. I think I've seen the Neil Young guy in a coffee shop, though.

BOY: They're like always there. But I didn't see them for a few weeks, just long enough for me to wonder where they were. Then,
and I shit you not. I am not making this up. I walk by there the other day and they're back, just sitting there like they never left, and I am not making this up. (He puts down his hamburger and looks around gravely, then leans in) They both have moustaches.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


It's hard to want to know people anymore. The effort it takes to become folded into their lives is exhausting. Just to be available to text message or answer the phone is too much to ask. It is like I am being hounded. There is a fictional foresight that projects itself and I'm alone at the end.
Almost like that day when it snowed and I was twelve and instead of going outside I said, "it's just going to melt anyway."
Through what I would like to think of as no fault of my own, I seem to have become the alternative to human being. But I'm a freak, not completely delusional.

Monday, June 6, 2011

To the man from a gold mining town.

"You chump."
Is what I guess I would say if I saw you again.
It'd be in some coffee shop or something and I'd just look into your face and maybe even spit and be like, "did you think I was an idiot?" and you might say, "yes." Well, that's fair enough. I was for a little while.
Do you know the reason I knew you had someone else?
(aside from all those emails you left up on the screen.
You uninspired bore.)
I knew because no one dumps me.
No one important, anyway.
Because I'm the shit.
No, I wouldn't talk to you, even if I did see you again.
This is easier, You cypher. You complete waste.
Now I nothing you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

i got needs.

i am uncertain where a need for you to like me fits in here
but it's probably pretty close to the bottom.