Honesty is empty, like pouring a glass of wine into a shot. Glass breaks the same way night does – beautifully, at first, but come morning what’s jagged and terrible stabs into view. “I like you,” Quotes and women you pretend weren’t ever an occurrence as you gracefully stutter awake to the alarm clock. 5 : 00 A M . Man, those red lines glaring could make anyone think they were walking towards a death sentence.
But not you.
The window is ajar in the bathroom, and as your shower the feint aroma of 7th grade reminds you of cafeterias and handball courts you haven’t visited in ages. Nostalgia (hyphen) catalyzed by the way the air felt September 3rd. when you were thirteen with nothing but snug tees and a Reddit account you barely visited, acknowledging that never went beyond an appreciation of memes. Hashtag #I-Like-This-If-You-Like-Me, making friends against your belt that don’t end well.
But you’re bored and he’s cute.
Long drives and short sighs trying to trigger where the lust and listless began. The gorgeous eyes that gorge us guys drifting to Elysium (and molly if he’s down to party, so long as he’s paying for that too.) Ooh, never mind. It’s late and I have to-
We drink and kiss and
cuss and smoke. Talk about
our problems like
distant cousins we haven’t seen
in a while. Then we fuck, but
not like its a big deal.
Casually, after a really good song
or way the sunlight makes
our skin sing after a beer.
Over covers and offhand,
broad daylight against our
We inhabit each other like
its something we’ve always done,
a quiet that is too comfortable
to have only happened once
a lifetime. Bandits hiding
in a safehouse with the score
we’ve stolen – laughing, spending
all that happiness.
Seltzer and a glass of pinot noir
Not particularly my type of crowd, the bar
counters too clean and everyone looks ready
for a job interview. Radio playing out
whatever’s clawed its way to the top 100.
Black and white framed photos lining up the freshly
polished walls, a decor that demands to be Instagrammed.
Minimalist, in design, and character.
I can tell nobody has ever had a heartache here,
there are no cuts on the wood or graffiti in
the bathroom. Debased to a beat and parroting lyrics
that won’t mean a thing to me in the morning.
A polished purgatory, full of things
but empty, sterile, a place of transitioning before
going where you’re supposed to. Like a doctors waiting
room, or an ex girlfriends house.
Hardly the place to start a Wednesday bender,
but it was worth a shot.
It’s the four o’ clock crowd loud in happy hour
just kicking off, pleasant as post 9 to 5 allows
you to be. Caustic kindness. Can-You-Believe’s echoing
down seventh avenue,Karen’s talking candid about what
that asshole Jonathan did. The conversation feels
malconstructed and fragile in the air. Soft, stained,
and glassed- forced. Saying something while not saying
anything at all like Good Morning or an I-Miss-You text.
Bald guys in bold suits guffawing at something
that wasn’t funny, ironic hoop earrings and a terrible
clinking of boots. Old men shuffling. Yuppies struggling
to be interesting. Twelve dollar margaritas, fifty buck
belts from Barney’s, no ash trays outside because nobody smokes
I am a man out of time in the midtown atmosphere.
I-just-want-to-be-home doesn’t mean much until it’s 5 AM and I’m skinless once again.
My baby doesn’t mind the perfume when I’m huff and steaming of cigar smoke somebody else’s scent. She kisses me like it were something funny, laughs at the haste on my tongue like it was a joke. Keeps me hanging in her arms loaded and waiting like a punch line, when the parents are asleep but what’s fifteen minutes downstairs.
My eyes and mind are on Dianysia, thick and bubble with a quench to make your ends go: POP.
But she’s gone home with flies and I’m still hungry as the wolf for Elis and her soft purrs. Soare cu dinti as the Romans say, but you never know how wet it is until you get inside.
“You taste like a strip club,” Elis says smiling.
“Couldn’t be. I’m Catholic.” I said dimming.
She laughs like it were something funny and the tongue on her taste is ruinous. I’ve got blues black enough to make the moon go silent, stars stark as the amber gloss on her faded pajama top and black nylons stretched so far they’ve turned to gray. Dark hearts sea-saw’d in the playground of post open-relationship affections, one swing and a slide swiped right on a lark to hands fumbling for meaning. Prayer made easy. All it takes is a good intention and bedroom to make a sin, all we’ll awake to is an unthought out alley, thick in sweat and brownstone brick kisses. Another sweet nothing visit made elicitly PG13.
Soare cu dinti as the Romans say, but you never know how wet it is until you get inside.
“There,” she hums, nails digging at my neck. “Right there.”
“Where,” I drum. “Tell me where,”
She isn’t wearing panties, just cut-off jeans and a weak hurt. Neither was Dianysia. Brown like the dawn and burning honest as a truth left unread on a text message. A touch that was terrifically terrible, weak and wishing, desperately searching and honorably hungry. Hands looking for something neither of us could find. Whispers that she’s mine while the sun is rising to make us human.
And then it started raining.
Tonight I’ve got an appetite for applying love songs to someone it doesn’t belong.
I’m only Marlboro Red-ing when I’m heavy into missing you at 2 in the morning. People are disposable, and I overlook them like songs I used to love and skip without a thought when they come up on a playlist.Contingent on the inevitable, when I can tell something is close to its ending I can’t help looking elsewhere. Skimming to the back page of a boring book, always opening another beer before I’ve even finished the last one. It isn’t wasteful, but a muscle memory that makes me tentative of what’s ahead. Admitting an early defeat and preparing for the next one. Head full of grays and a heart full of yesterday. The feelings that live inside me are cannibals, constantly feeding off of one another.
Trying to decipher them is an exercise in futility, like second marriages, or microwaving French fries. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.
But I go through the motions. Hop on a midnight train to South Houston on nothing but a buzz and Metrocard. On a road to nowhere and baby I’m in a rush, to Coralines, to the bar you kind of liked and where I wander into when the mood of you strikes and hits too hard to stay home. Sometimes I haunt where we had a life like a specter, and the way I see it, you can take your goddamn love, but I’m keeping the memories (and the dog.)
I need someone to blame it on anyway.
I love this place now, Coralines, even if the music is shit and the drinks are watered down. The walls are crumbling and the floor is always dingy, but I love this place, because it’s where I loved you, once. I love this place and all the personal secrets it holds. The stool you slipped and fell off of when we first met, the ash trays graffitied in ashes and name-tags we swore we would add our names to but never did. The corner table where we held each other as if it were the only thing keeping us from falling into the crowd or sky. Where we fell so deep into each other. Each half emptied beer can and wilted counter flower is a display case in my own personal museum of one of the happiest moments in my life.
And don’t get me wrong: this is not some all or nothing confession/attempt to win you back. There is no recovering from where we’ve been, no going back since what we’ve done to each other. But I like having somewhere so loud with joy, somewhere I can come to forget the now and slip into yesterday without needing the bottle. You always said I drank too much, not to forget, but to remember.
I can have this and not want to have you back, can’t I?
Gail is laying in the hospital while I’m standing on the brink. Burning bridges all weekend as I cross them, and if I ever make it home on Sunday, I’m lighting candles by the beach with starry eyes fixed on the shore. No green lights across the bay, because weekend are a myth and every day is Monday. Just a vague memory or six burning bright against the flames.
Some wounds only heal over time, but those scars are here to stay.
I watch her lay there, lifeless, and understand why there are so many sleeping beauties in fairy tales. But now she is no Belle or Snow White with seven dwarves. She’s only flesh with tubes and wires, some flowers and Get-Well-Soon balloons hovering a bedside. A bracelet her favorite nephew made when he turned six, no makeup and dark purple pavements just above her cheek. Serene, beautiful and peaceful, despite the hazmat ambiance of a hospital room. Hashtag #Iwokeuplikethis, and she looked just as perfect as the first time we made eyes and I just knew she was going to be something.
“John? Where’s John,” A weak voice, two notes shorter than a whisper.
She is surprised to see me standing there at first, but then she flashes that familiar smile so unquestionably unforgettable. Fun and full of memorable, something that never quite loses it’s glow, like watching someone trip or stumble in public. Yet there was a certain kind of sadness in the curves of her lips, in every moment of her happiness, like when you reach for a box of cigarettes and find only one soldier left. A frown formed, only, it was shaped upside down. Like when somebody says they miss you, but you don’t really feel the same way. A half hearted exchange, overdone, overkilled. Packed like this paragraph filled with too many similes.
And that’s what she does to me – filling me full of phrases and cliche’s I hate to see other people be a part of. As if our experiences are the same. As if anyone has ever experienced this pain that is so unbelievably mine.
“I must look horrible.” She says.
You say it like it’s something new.
“And you’re still a jerk. Do you still write?” She asks, and I say yes.
“Show me,” She pleads. And I do.
“You write a lot about girls.” I pause and nod.
Most of them are shades of you.
“What about that night?” She says. “Remind me how it went.”
It was snowing, and I met you at the movie theater wearing a suit.
“Why were you wearing a suit?”
Because my other plans cancelled. I was going to…a club, I think, and the birthday person caught a cold or something, and the whole thing was cancelled. But I spent a lot of money on that suit and I still wanted to wear it so.
“Ohhh, so in other words, because you’re an ass.”
Yes. Because I’m an ass.
“How old were we?”
I was 20, I think? You’d just turned 18.
So you just turned 18, I was wearing a suit because I’m an ass-
“And a pedophile,”
Yes, right, I was an ass and a pedophile, and we saw that movie with Jessica Alba about her eye. She could see the future because of it, and at the end when she gets stabbed in the face some guy in the back of the theatre yelled ‘Bet you didn’t see that coming bitch.’
“I remember that.” And she laughs.
We stayed in the food court talking about your little brother and how out of place I looked in a suit. You put on my tie, so we could match, and when we were getting kicked out at around 3a.m. you straightened your tie and told the security guard- ‘Expect to hear from my attorney.’
She smiles and grabs my hand, I stand still and uncomfortable.
“What made you come?” She asks.
“…you’re dying.” I say finally, because it was something I needed to hear myself say.
“Don’t you always say ‘we all are’?”
“It’s different now.”
“You still love me.”
“I’m not here to win you back.”
She died on a Monday.
Weekends are a myth and every day is Monday.
Friday has finally come, a semi-colon in the exhaustive run-on sentence of responsibilities. The entire bus ride commute to the office consisted of recapturing those fleeting visions from my unconscious. I sleep so heavily, and my dreams are so often so powerful and convoluted, I wake up more tired than I entered the dream. Rather than spend my time catching up to e-mails and mentally preparing for the day, I laid my head against the bus window and fell repeatedly into half-reveries. The visions escape me now, as I sit in my study and try to enumerate them. Only glimpses and intense impressions remain upon my psyche.
A corroding house.
The vast and endless sea.
Airplanes carrying enemies. Bombs?
A tender, chocolate skinned girl that kissed me feverishly when no one was looking.
Work begins as it always does: not at all, and all at once. I could describe my job to you in all of it’s weighty un-importance, but to be frank I haven’t the want or need. Work is work, and any enjoyment in it is a misguided millennial dream. Weekends are a myth and every day is Monday – it is a saying and mantra I must softly repeat to myself in every hour of the blistering sunlight. Constantly, I must validate and rationalize why I waste my time in meetings and excel spreadsheets; otherwise, I would simply waste away. Not from a lack of purpose, but the only logical response to an irrational existence- cigarettes, alcohol, excess and vagantry.
In another life I must have been a hobo. There’s little else I enjoy than having little to do: give me a bed, a sofa, a porch or park bench- even a tin roof and a little rum, and I am happy. If only I can be myself, if only for a few moments I can keep the world at bay and my hands off this damned wheel.
My coworkers have begun to respect me as their boss, I think, and around the office there is the mild chatter of how misleading my natural scowl is. There’s a warmth to my darkness, those who have closely known me have said, but I am terrible at first impressions. They are warming to my coldness, and are beginning to see that the frost of my touch and lacking smile misguides the destructive love that lurks beneath me.
But I dislike them all, honestly, as I despise any group and circle. I despise them because they are so normal in their effortless tumbling into each other. I despise them because they make easy what to me is so unnatural. My love does not come in close hugs and roses. My love is jagged and uneven, imposes upon itself the way folded paper leaves creases. I’d rather be alone than in this office, glaring at a spreadsheet and pretending to be kind to strangers on the phone. Helping this cruel world from the dark dregs other have dragged and mired it into, but from a safe and reasonable distance. To make a difference without having to make differences to my demeanor for the sake of their social comfort and meek sensibilities.
But even the apostles were tent makers, and rum cost thirteen dollars a bottle. So I say cheese, and ask them what their plan for the weekend is.