On rare occasion, I love being wired like a guy. Where at a glance and eyeful fuck I can forget women bite their nails or have bad dreams, and for a night or afternoon are fun and fresh as snow.
There are degrees of sex, and Sheila’s had a thoughtless and intimate excellence. She removed her top, threw it to the side with a careless confidence that left me awed. With the fluid wave of her bangled and slender wrist, she cast aside any remaining notion of neglect or lingering resentment between us. With the stroke of her warming touch and kiss it no longer mattered why-weren’t-you-there or never-called-me-back. Lust, although a primitive emotion, makes a lovely anesthetic.
Hesitance gone, caution numbed, I closed the breach between us and found her excitement waiting like an old friend. Our hands and lips, once so familiar, explored the whispered wants of each others skin once more. Silked and shuddering, we dissolved to a desire that was a devastation of man and woman, of what was expected or instilled in us. A thousand years of evolution torn asunder, become nothing to the nature Nature had adorned us in. The windows shut, the doors barred in- for a time the world had no place or say in anything, and in that freedom our instincts made demands that we surrendered to.
Her honey-darling skin was a temple that took me with open arms. She was a poem, a fire, a mountain in the distance that shook and filled me with a burning wander-lust. Such supple breast and forgiving lips, she accepted me entiretly with a hushed thrill and gasp that simmered as our bodies found a silent groove and rhythm.
I laid her across the mattress, her hair long and tangled like Medusa- the ancient hymns and sacrifices of the Greeks and Incas riddled along the veins of her skin like snakes. I ran my tongue along these secrets and found a magic I’d only read and felt no part of. At times and touch she folded under my caress and presented herself like a gift, waiting to be loved and intensively undone. Her passion came in tides and suddenly she would revolt, rise and take control. Eager and commanding, she left me powerless and quaking under the demand of her wild search for her fulfillment.
Our highs peaked, settled, then took wind and climbed much higher. We gave and took of one another until there was nothing left to be given. Consumed by consumption, a gentle tide came like an earthquake and swept our frenzy to exhaustion. And as we lay catching our breaths, I traced my love into a poem on her back in fingerprints.
“I’m quitting soon,” I said, and she took it to mean the cigarette.
“Good. You know I hate that it lingers.”
“Like my affection,” I said. But she didn’t move, scoff, or breathe.
“You’re so heavy,” she said finally. “I worry that I can’t keep up. That you’ll get bored eventually with someone like me. Some day you’ll up and leave, and you won’t look back. I know you don’t. You’ll leave one day like I’m not enough, like nothing ever is.”
They say there are times life presents us moments of greatness that define us. Where what we do will shape not just your life, but the world and those around you. In my bleeting heart I felt it to be one of those moments, and in that moment I was speechless.
“You’re terrifying,” she said.
I nodded and stared absently at the short distance between us. While the reality of one-and-only has always remained for me a distant implausability, for a touch and moment she was mine, if only for the night and orgasm. The night done, we picked up the fragments of ourselves scattered about the room like clothes. And despite the withhold we both know we’ll find ourselves here again, in a month or week or decade thereafter. Two torn souls tearing a room and each other for satisfaction.
The smoke may clear, but the dust, much like our hearts, never does quite settle.
It was the second week of summer and I was riding high in friends and parties without a care or clue of what was to come. Eighteen is such a brittle age, not easily impressed but so tragically impressionable. Adulthood loomed on the corner of job and college applications I neglected to apply to. There would a time for that later, I thought, right after these beers and excessive experimentation with girls and social so-and-so’s. Don’t-even-get-me-started is the procrastinators mantra, and I carried my would-be’s misguided, but like a titan.
Tiffany was leaving soon, I forget to where. Cruising west Manifest Destiny bound on a four year college scholarship, dinner with the mayor, more books and grades to ace while the world her oyster. Lately we’d become surprisingly tender towards one another. I stopped trying to convince her to stay or love me, and instead only wanted to enjoy what little time I had left of her. She must have felt the same, I thought. Short sighted or naive as we may have been I suppose the both of us knew, instinctively, without a word or approach of the subject, that September 3rd would mark a change in both of us forever.
Milton and Anderson, cousins, were throwing a party that Friday. Surprisingly, she was the one who brought it up over the phone.
“It’s this Friday,” she said.
“Yeah I heard.”
“I might end up going.”
“But then who will close the library?”
“I’m sorry, what? I don’t speak Jerk.”
“Come with me,” I said. “It’ll be our prom.”
We’d never gone to prom, or rather, I didn’t. She asked me to, to share a limo with her, Christine, Tamara and Chloe. Her friends, a herd of herbivore What-Do-You-Even-See-In-Him’s. As much as I thought I loved Tiffany, the decline was telling. I didn’t love her enough to sit five minutes with her condescending friends. Through the tragic of social media it later surfaced she’d gone with another guy, Anthony something was his name. I forget.
“Pick me up at 8.” She said. “And you better fucking shave.”
I arrived at her house at 7:40PM sharp. We’d had many an argument in the past on account of my always being late. My excuse was that rushing was stupid, immaterial and pointless. That a friend, a real friend, or love, is not a job that needs punctuality. It needs patience.
“Yeah,” she said. “But it’s also inconsiderate. If you say three but know you won’t get there until three thirty, then just say three thirty. That’s half an hour you’re wasting on my road to a Nobel prize.”
That was the way of words she had. And its ironic, how that mock arrogance and punctuality are two of my most discerning features.
On the way to her house I remember feeling very good, happy, and a little bittersweet. I was aware that tonight was just another night, no change to the inevitable drift distance makes. But we’d never been out together, not to a party. She preferred movies, parks and picnics, quiet nights at home. She’d never seen me in what I then considered my element- the social isotope, loud and loutish, brazen and a clown to a row of strangers. I’d never shared her with my friends or took her hand in public. I’d never held her in a room full of people in a pretty dress.
This will be a good goodbye, I thought.
I rang the bell and her brother, the druggy one, answered the door with a glaze of red nirvana coloring his eyes and spotty beard. Dazed and a little daft, he nodded me in absently, drifted through the walls back to his marijuana smelling basement.
I sat waiting in her living room by the oak colored cabinet and flower blotted sofa. I remember looking at the familiar door to her room, excited, waiting for her to step out looking amazing in a…in a something. That green streak in her hair and fire in her eyes, coy and dryly staring at me to Stop-That.
The door opened and she stepped into the hall in an oversized white t-shirt. But what grabbed me most was not her wardrobe. It wasn’t the nervous in her face or worry in her step. It was the looming figure in her room staring blankly back at me, laying with a tank top and scruffy hair across her bed. Anthony something was his name, I forget. Suma cum laudie. He ran the robotics team at school and was another high hope senior on his way to a top tier college and brighter things in life.
“Sorry I….(something)….meant to call but then….(something)…not getting my text?” I think was what she said. I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t really hear anything over the sound of a deafening and violent white noise that pulsed inside my head and vibrated against my skin.
I don’t remember much of that part. Just nodding along once or twice, saying goodbye and walking calmly out the door.
My mind was blank and so was the world, the air felt stale and my tongue so dry. I walked in a random direction for however long, directionless, and while some noun or adjective might better describe the circumstance I was in, my memory paints it as that one dull word- blank. Just blank. Too shocked and taken back for any hint of sadness or rage to overcome me.
Tiffany…no, everything, it felt like, let me down. Life was a series of bad jokes I could not see the humor in. I ended up going to the party anyway. I laughed and made jokes and danced with girls I thought were pretty. I even took Jennifer back home that night. We had sex in the shower which I bragged about for years, like the rest of the day and nothing ever happened. I kept right on living that night, and every day since. Even today I don’t feel sad about it. Nostalgic, partially, but not sad.
Still, and it is difficult explaining the how or why, but I know something died within me that day. I still feel that blank darkness cataract my decisions when someone I love shows the slightest hint of unsure or indecisive. I walk away from people easily and flippant, broad and sure as a titan. Atlas too apathetic to shrug. I just don’t care.
I’ve never even been to prom.
You have an awful memory and I need remind you:
Nick has just as strange a laugh as you do. You don’t see him often but his heart is bright and being around him feels warm. His jokes are awful but you laugh anyway. Not like work, not like when a stranger says something that isn’t funny and you want to be polite. You laugh because he is not funny to a fault and he knows it and remains himself anyway. You laugh because there is something magical and beautiful about someone who is so unappologetically himself as you are. His wife makes weed brownies and calls you a pussy when you decline, but she doesn’t think you’re a pussy. She’s as hard edged and boiled as the rest of you, and though you see her just as rarely, she feels as if she’d never not been one with you and the group. Jacob is just the player as ever. The women still like his smile and when he turns a phrase or makes That face at “It slipped in my mouth,” you remember any ounce of fun or boyish charm is borrowed from him. Its close to two am and now everyones at rest. Tomorrow will be an eve and end but only feels like a beginning. You never quite feel home or well with anyone or anywhere. But this moment you feel right.
Isn’t it strange that she reminds you of someone you’ve never met before. So silent and full of storms. There’s something violent in the quiet of her eyes. Two coals that look like they’re crying at the sun. Her smile has a frown in it and the way she scoffs at tall talk tells she’s either hard or critical of happiness. People are talking and glasses are clinking and the diner is spinning but the rock of the world was founded securely on her freckled cheek. You asked her name and she took your hand, wrote down CAROLINE in bold black marker. “You know. So you won’t forget again.” She had said and the coals flashed a cool grin. She liked to bite at heels. You could play that game. If you had a tail it would have been wagging.
Her laugh was magic.
You allow yourself a moment.
Sanguine is sappy and happiness is so very fickle. Even now with ones you love and your hearts belonging you feel that nag. That tinge of melancholy. You almost washed it down in a bottle and neglect but remembered September and that trying to forget begets nothing. You allow yourself a moment to be somber on the deck while that familiar grey and sully cloud thunders over you. The air is mint and smarts with cold, and as you breathe out you expected to find yourself the same color as your mourning. But you were not. You see Caroline give you the finger from the window and Jacob makes the motion of a shakeweight. And then the music rises and fills you with warmth, you return to the merry as a friend and not a stranger.
The din of conversation and cheerful embracing has ended to a soft 4am silence and grim affair. You got a text wishing you the best and a happy new year full holding loaded sentiments between ellipses. Dot dot dots saying more than they could admit to. Ex oh ex oh ex oh’s and a smiley face from a number you always recognize. A number that comes screeching from the past and tugging you back every year and time she’s hurt and needs your love. Interpersonal become savage like mogwais if you feed them after midnight.
“New year new you?” Caroline chimed from the reflection of your cell phone. Words you mocked on a Facebook status and Instagram as the sure signs of a try hard. The coals in her eyes are heavy but that fire just doesn’t die. Its what you will always love and remember about her.
Caroline took a seat beside you on the step, a drag off your cigarette, and a slice of your heart in her hand when she lay her golden head against your shoulder. She will be your last Maybe of 2015, the final chapter of a dark saga you feel merits a happy ending.
“You talk too much.” You said.
“Oh yeah? Shut me up then tough guy.”
And you did.
David thinks his faith will save him, but death is coming for us all. Tuesday doesn’t care how long he’s worked, his tired eyes hiding behind his kind smile and midnight shift. A halo of perspiration steaming from his broad and hunching back, grays surrounding the edges of beard and other places where they shouldn’t be. His head, his arms, his chest; but not his heart. Tomorrow he’ll be trimming the hedges around the church, and David isn’t Pentecostal, but what’s it cost to do something nice for someone else?, he says.
David is sulking home from lifting sixty pound boxes and weighted pallets until the wee hours of 4am. I’m recovering from myself and too much Bacardi on the front steps, offer him a cigarette and don’t bother asking how his day was. Because we both know it was miserable. His body is a walking exhaust, crying aches behind a wide and haughty grin his experience doesn’t deserve. Forty five fieing for fifteen dollars an hour, starved for sleep with meandering teenagers just out for a buck and high. He does his best for the two kids waiting upstairs, I forget their names. Somewhere around three and six, and the light inside of him doesn’t stop thinking of others.
“How’s your mom?” He says, like my circumstance means much more than his own.
David is too good for my own good- barely keeping a grip and offering hands he doesn’t have. Here was a man being destroyed and I had the nerve to think myself worse off. I could feel myself becoming consumed and overwhelmed by the world- but not by David and his tragedy, or an excessive and unrelenting emotion. No, my days were awfully regular and pained by nothing but the dull sharpness of routine. Of complacency. Where men far greater than I suffered wars, famine, and persecution, I only struggled to maintain my sanity against the bland reality of existence. The unmentionable and troublesome degrade, not against the graze of strife and grenades, but worried and debased by the grey life.
“She’s good, but hates when I travel,” I said. Because his type of perfect disturbed me. I needed to see some envy, some lust, any kind of ugly that might make the disgusting bubbling in me feel dignified.
“She’s good, but she complains when I leave New York. I was in Cuba last month, I think I told you? Sayed in this little studio near parque central, it’s like their central park. It was this studio with a great view and the landlady never bothered me. I came home at three, four, five in the morning, or sometimes not at all. And she didn’t care. Three days in a row I met her in the elevator, and each time it was with a different girl. But she never said a thing. Once it turned out they knew the same cab driver, grew up in the same town or something. But my mom, she hates things like that. She thinks I should settle down and calls those kinds of girls prostitutes. ”
David chuckled where I didn’t expect him to and looked sad when there should be a punch line. He was excited for my youth and all the dumb I’d done, and while he applauded it, at the same time, he managed to make me feel guilty and not condone it.
“In a row? You’re crazy,” He said. “I thought you were going back for the cigars but obviously not. What’s important is that you had a great time, and I know you wouldn’t tell those ladies anything that wasn’t at least bordering on the truth. Listen- you’re young. You need to be that. No, not stupid, just young. Go to Cuba, go to Germany, go to Bermuda, go. Just go. And don’t worry about it having to end, because it will when it needs to.”
They say each man must bear his cross, but Atlas carries the most. Silently the world turns on his back, silently he winces at the grinding on his shoulder blades. And he still offers a hand, not to Herucles, but a nobody on a stoop turned stupid in disposable income.
“Where you going next?” He asked, my heart on the break of a sigh.
David thinks his faith will save him. And even if it won’t, in a way, he’s saving me.
Our lighting sucks and we take bad selfies, there’s nothing in the fancy bar or liquor shelf we bought because its Sunday and we already drank it all. It’s humid and our hair isn’t meant to be this curly but in our defense what kind of animal wears makeup to the beach? The boardwalk is a Nordstrom of whatever it is you want – hoop earrings and the feelings of 1986 still kicking in the ocean shells glittering on the ear piece. Do you like it? You could be over there, but you aren’t. Are you just that bored or am I just that pretty?
A little of both,
“I just had a shower that was wonderful,” Karina said. “But there’s something in the air that troubles me. This feeling that, tonight, there’s something a little off about you. A thought that’s invasive and makes you act this way. It sounds like…crickets from my window, and it’s not alarming, but it’s there.”
How had she learned my moods so quickly? There’s always a silence in me that’s not so quiet nor my own- full of crickets, left-over sentiments, bubble-gummed sidewalks and marooned moonlight. The phantoms and faceless anxieties I am perpetually facing are nameless, despite the labels and disordered name-tags; are large as the clouds and just as vague, hard to pin into anything so definitive and limiting as a sentence. Tonight’s specters are Friendship, A Sense of Belonging, Suffering and The Much Less Fortunate. With a special guest performance by Empathy & Minutiae. Analyzing the underlying message beneath the most complex social cues and feintest text just saying ‘hey’.
“Call me when you have the chance. I have something to tell you later, even if it means we’ll never speak again.”
I like to over-think because emotions are so unreliable and sticky: like children’s hands at birthday parties. Reason makes much more sense and I love to overanalyze a feeling, but I’m a sucker for attention. Give me the slightest piñata string of affection, and I can get more than just a little hung up on being the helpless one in a relationship. And being the self-bruting masochist that I am, a part of me quite enjoys it. I already know Karina has to confess that she is already in a relationship, but I’ll not let misery have me this time. And rage can exit stage fuck-off, because I already know from all those tires that I’ve kicked that it’s impotent. That nothing ever comes from it.
My mother once told me life is much like a chain- that we are smithed and molded to fit one another like the links on a fence. She meant it in a very old and semi-Catholic way: a butterfly effect that says what each of us are, at birth, is inherent- and thus what we are will inevitably attract only a certain type of person. A personality that connects. I never believed her, but if this was true, my maker must have made me as the ideal third for cucks.
“Is this because I forgot your birthday?” I said, because strings of the heart were made for tugging. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen, I’ve gotten too comfortable with you. We’ve only just recently met but for some reason it feels like we’ve known each other for so much longer. As if this was something we always did.”
Only women of a certain disposition find my demeanor type appealing – and whether they were bored, out of love, desperate for attention or a despot, I couldn’t say. And even if I could, it wouldn’t be my place to judge.
“That made my heart sigh,” Her text said. “How do you phrase what I want to say not knowing that I want to say it?”
Because I love you, and my endings are written clear across the chain-link.
Such bold and violent little mortars. Silent killers
on a timer that explode like an idea.
Bang and death and shrapnel compacted to a pocket;
hand held hazards, lightning in a bottle.
Portable paralyzers stun and blinding on delivery.
How do you throw grenades?
Such small and angry little things. Tiny tempers that explode
full of hate or gunpowder. Do you throw them like a text,
a thoughtless lob and wait, loaded like a kiss, or press the
ember to the wick with a malicious tongue and cackle. Or
do you hesitate, do you consider
the burst of blood and shrapnel.
Does regret deter bereavement,
do you pull the pin and
How do you throw grenades?
Such bliss. After war any headache is a reprieve from the
storm, a temporary escape from the debris of soot,
of bones and ashes bared like a regret.
The dust trebles, the trenches clear, calm and simmered
walks back home on a Tuesday having left before sixth period.
An idle daw superimposes over bullet wounded memories,
calculated candids, and a 1,000 yard stare
glaring into the precise awe of calm and nothing.
A staring contest with the sun.
And what have we left except the pin
still pulsing in our palm
and another hand to hold in Autumn
to close the gaps we feel between us.
“Are you awake?” You want to say, but you don’t.
His guitar gullies in the corner, still. Wood and golden as his breathing as he sleeps beside you. An Adonis? No, maybe a Midas. A touch full of ruin you couldn’t disturb because what a peaceful perfection is the steady palpitations of his back. Your hand reaches for him but winces, no, not yet. It’s only 3AM and his sleep isn’t deep enough. So you watch the back of his neck trying to read between the lines and soft locks your fingers know all too well. He has the talent and latent mishaps of an artist; a body bordering on megalomaniac when his temperament is bored enough to cheat on you.
But who was she? You wouldn’t know, although you’d like to. Reluctant masochist as you are, you never dared to ask. Instead you wrote it down on a notebook full of questions you promised to ask when he came home tired and stinking of band bars and his lust of you. You’ve always had a thing for the kind of men that can’t keep still in their affections. Wander-lust would be an under-statement to what you felt when staring out a window, two wings shy of taking a dive and flying to where lungs would take you. Was she beautiful?, you think, Or did she admire you with the same eyes you did that night in a cab ride he made his face turn more shades than the moon?
You aren’t sure and that doesn’t drive you crazy any more. Insomnia’s been a bitch but lately you sleep much better off than before. Complacency is a dangerous and tragic enemy always snipping at your heels, but V doesn’t make you feel that way. He could be anywhere, with his artist fingers strumming the neck of the next unsuspecting one-off, but he isn’t. He’s here, and he is now, and when you leave to text and stroke the redux of Evan and Eddy’s there won’t be a need for explanations. It will be the silent needs of your relationship, needing each other without a need to be exclusive. Simultaneously mad in love and loving madly whatever fire is ignited in a strangers eyes and touch. Two apostrophes far and hanging on each other, and the bodies that lay between are the sentence.
Him, the beginning. You, the end.
“Shut the window,” He mumbles beneath the pillow and his elbow.
“Mhm,” You say, but don’t.
Because the moonlight reminds you of someone else.
Can lovers remain friends?
No, but May makes me wonder if there isn’t something else our relationship could settle into apropos. Feelings are pretty sticky in a gross way you would expect, like syrup or childrens hands, and it isn’t often after the playground tumults of lust and love that I find much in the debris of interpersonals. Yet in the spaces I thought her absence would leave vacant and yearning, instead there is the same respect and adoration for her company as before. Instead I’m asking my phone out loud, I-Wonder-How-She’s-Doing, then text to ask out of no obligation other than I’d like to know.
“If that’s what you want, it’s fine,” She said. “But I know you, and I want to make sure we stay friends.”
There’s no point in stating the obvious, like those trust exercises when somone falls backwards into a persons arms. It’s not the height that makes me nervous, but why you can’t just take my word that I believe when you say you’ll catch me. I’d unconsciously decided to become defensive because of it. To a monster the norm is monstrous, and my first instinct was to reject any resemblance of feelings becoming stationary or steady. I can’t stand to sit down, am too odd to ever be even. Give me my coffee boiling hot or cold enough to make my teeth clatter. Let my experiences, and not my telling of them, be exaggerate and exhausting. A life lived in extremes is the only life worth living- I’d sooner rather die right this instant than one day look back at all my sufferings, loss, and achievements thinking “I guess it was okay.”
“Friends, right?” She said again.
May is stubborn in her pleasance, and my heart is rendered incapable of offending her love in any form. I remember the spiritual muck she saw me lying in, the hands that helped hang away the hang-ups keeping me grounded six feet deep. My life is owed to her, and whatever she should ever desire, my very bloody hands will find the way to deliver it to her.
“Friends,” I repeated, but more like a question.
I don’t know what the word entails. Will I be a weekend ruin with her, damning our souls and morality down Amsterdam chasing thighs and feelings? Another Roger barking up my phone and timeline on Saturday nights, pseudo-social sojourns with dim girls and coworkers, howling at the moon because we’re too young to be this lonely. Or will she only call me when her boyfriend is out of town and she’s bored, looking to lose herself in the arms and eyes of someone else that isn’t hopelessly decimate in an unhappy relationship? (Here’s Looking At You, Kid.) Or maybe she means the kind of people that only reach out when they need something, like someone else to double date because his girlfriend thinks you’re too ugly and grumpy to make a move on her or suggest a four-way.
“Friends,” She said again, this time softly under her breath. Then something went soft in her eyes that seemed to add
“I can tell you need one of those.”
I’ve never been good at listening to other people’s problems and I’m chronically late to pity parties. I don’t have the patience for whine and dining, I’d rather jump straight to bed where the daily inconsequentials about yourself take a back seat to the deeper things that are at play. Most people are old fashioned and like to take things slow after sex, consider honest truths about themselves too “intimate” to be shared before the flesh or so immediately. I suppose that must make me a slut, spreading my heart to the first pair of honey eyes and warm thighs with a violent pulse.
I don’t blame the shame because I’m no romantic and either way it doesn’t last. Nothing does. Maybe that’s why I have a tendency to hit it and quit it, emotion wise. And sometimes when I’m standing in a grocery line or watching a movie I have this incredible urge to stand up and yell. I never do so I never know what I would actually say. It can’t be anything healthy, whatever it is that’s pent up, but I’ll never let it out. That might be counterintuitive but that’s life.
Nature can turn against itself. My cat likes to chew on plastic.
“There’s something in the way you look at me,” she says. “I don’t think anyone’s ever looked at me like you do.”
Isabella doesn’t drink, she simmers. When I stare into those bright, cloudy pools of milk and caramel she calls eyes a dark desire fills my heart and all extremities. Like burning alive on a smaller scale, and there is no lie in her fire. My nerves tingle in a calm excitement and I become painfully aware, sensitive to the slightest touch that tethers our bodies. Her beautiful mouth curves a smile and I’m called…no, tugged and compelled towards her like a marionette by a string.
“Do you have a wife?” She asks me casually, and I answer no. “A girlfriend then,” she presses, and in the soft intimacy of her legs wrapped in mine, I confess to so-and-so’s. To my heart having grown brash, bitter and unstable. That I don’t trust these whimsies and so called feelings, for they’ve betrayed me, and in their wake I find less beauty in life and even lesser of myself. Sentiments leave a wound and I’ve never been able to resist a scab. Yet it was in that flame of deception and lies that I was tempered, and I was surprised to find my mettle too strong to be melded.
Outside five burros are crying to the dry, arid sunrise. A cricket chirps, two coyotes wail at the moon, and between the bitter thymes of El Torito and Sergio Vargas it begins to rain. Begins to wet the still and thirsty earth so yearning for its due. Isabella mewls and I feel her warm heart thump against the imprint of palm. the crease and edges of her skin smooth and tell a story to my fingertips like braille. Its five am and soon a cab will call me down to home and other sunsets. The notion numbs me. I can’t bare the thought, to leave her side or moment unfulfilled, but what matter that we lay together when sleep tears us apart and a dream will keep us separate.
“Will you stay the night?” She asks. And I nod to confess so.
The coyotes howl and somewhere back home my cat is chewing happily on a garbage bag. I kiss her sweet lips and feel the the ashes of my soul ignite my passion once again.
Love, like life, must find a way.
Raquel is pretty. Not hot, not sexy, bad, or “banging” but…pretty. Gorgeous, even.
There’s something so innocent in her sexy, and whatever makes her sweet so appealing isn’t from the swing of her hips or the way she makes her golden-nether eyes flutter. No, what I can’t resist is her simplicity of skin, the arch of her spine where the back dips like a sunset into her jeans. A smile full of secrets and a sigh carrying the anatomy of stars, clouds, and void. She’s a cosmic cutie; summer solstice for lips and planets where her eyes should be. A kiss full of whispers that fills you with a feeling easy to describe, but wouldn’t want to tell your mom about. A shame without the guilt to it, sin of the highest piety: she makes me emotionally horny.
There’s such a thing as natural talent; people that are good at something for no reason other than that they’re the one who’s doing it. Seduction is a skill, and whether she was aware of it or not, Raquel was gifted.
“Don’t you hate sports? Why do you have a baseball jersey?” Raquel asks, poking through my esteem and closet.
There’s two kinds of lust, I think. The kind we feel at movie stars or your brothers girlfriend- the one for the unreachable and endless. Then there’s the other especially reserved for that girl that makes funny faces when she wears your glasses, the one that’s yours but just out of reach and inches from your hands.
“So this is what it’s like to have a parole officer.”
She laughs, and the melody, I imagine, is the sound of galaxies being born.
“Is that your grandmother?” She asks, and I nod in a numb silence.
But another person in your heart can be terrifying, the way they echo so warm and easy to a place and memory. She has on socks with skulls across the ankle, size 6 Puma’s leaving imprints on the sands of my mind and studio apartment. Sunday nights well spent not doing much. Mum nothings in the sink, the kids are at the sitter, Making A Murderer on a loop and remnants of Peru leaving Pio Pio marks in green sauce. Taxicab confessions that don’t feel so scripted. Netflix and spills.
So many sanguine sensories, unforgettable as amnesia.
“You have her smile,” She says, and the picture of my grandmother keeps scowling.
Raquel is bright as ever in the darkness of my longing.
She walks along my room, my marble monastery, soft and curious. A note I scribbled on the dresser this morning calls her and she almost reaches to read it, but a reserve catches her and she flinches. She admires the scrap from a distance instead: observing it and the mess of books and loose change with a careful and aloof interest you’re scared to touch, like items in a museum.
I’ve never let a woman in my apartment. For sex or otherwise. I liked the privacy, the sanctity, the heaven of having a hell all to myself. A castle in the corner of a second story cloud- I’d left confidences in the kitchen with the cook too dark to share. The joys and pangs aisling my closet were biblical – an entire library of wounds and darlings these bare rooms bared witness to. Secrets of the deepest matters I’d sooner take to the grave than to a therapist.
So if these walls could talk, they wouldn’t be talking for very long.
“Your mirrors cracked,” She says, and I pretend I never noticed.
“I didn’t notice.” I said.
“Because you never use it.”
“Are you calling me ugly?”
Her face, bright and bold by the smooth bows of her eyebrows, is blue and blushed and full of so many beautiful things. I feel the way people must feel just before they get the idea of getting a tattoo of somebody else’s name – positive, but absolutely fucking insane.
I want to call her beautiful, but I know she would resent it. Raquel doesn’t take kindly to compliments. There were names, sources that I could cite vaguely on as to why. Gerald, David, Joseph and maybe a Tom or two. Men that swore their loves to the fullness moon but were waning, waxing girl-crush poetics until someone was late or a baby bump. Men that left nothing but a trail of dust, smoke, and children in her face.
Assholes or the usual suspects, who’s to say?, the only matter to mine being having to compete with the graves they left behind. I want to call her beautiful, to lay my affection for her luna eyes in words just like the wolves. But I couldn’t. So I didn’t say a word. Keeping my wants all to myself and watching her desperately from a distance, stuffing my lust into a look because she finds words and kisses so questionable.
A loaded look is better. Intent has a wider palate than the tongue.
“What is it?” She says. But I don’t say anything.
She starts to undress in a loud silence, and I watch the subtle fluxes of her spine rippling a Rorschach. Dark and mesmerizing shifts slithering beneath her skin like snakes. She came to me that night like dreams, unexpected and all at once, waiting and ready to take my love and passion like a guillotine. Tracing her finger along my chest and hands, reading the cuts and grooves like a wound or tarot card. I hold her close and not at all, run my hand along her face and side in a distant admiration. The way you hold a marble that shines a certain way when you hold it against the sunlight. I turn cruel and deliberate. At times I found arches on her neck, thighs and lips I would love fiercely. And when I feel her ache, feel her breath and heart pause and quiver, I retreat to a tender but empty caress, then say her name when I meant to sigh.
“What is it,” She whispers, somewhere between exasperation and a beg. “What is it, don’t you want to?”
I’ve never liked sex, although I have enjoyed it. The act goes rotten with analysis if you spend more than a thought on it. As a man, anyway. To penetrate a woman…Christ. There’s a moment before momentum moans you on when the act feels terrible and invasive. But nature has its safeguards, and before you have the mind or heart to turn away, a certain sight or sound boils the blood and instinct takes the wheel. Then all is lost, and all is gained.
We’re all slaves to the pleasure principle.
But this was hard to phrase, so instead I traced my name across her chest with my fingertips. Stuck on the stillness that makes my skin feel useless.
“You’re so strange,” She says, bordering between pensive and thoughtful. “When you’re in the moment you really are, but when you’re not…you go somewhere.”
I’ve been told that I have the eyes of a pianist – sad and a little lonely. That I looked like the kind of man to slam a door behind him. I can’t remember who said what. The dead tell no tales and I’ve still got grave dirt under my fingernails. My own Gerald’s and David’s I buried in women and bottles, people that left me pregnant with hurt and my own undoing.
“Where do you go?”
And they’re both the same, aren’t they? Children and a heartache. Sometimes you love or just fucking hate them, but no matter what there’s no ripping them from your veins. Incomplete or inconvenient as they are, they’re yours.
“Nowhere,” I lie.
Because even when they die, they’re yours.
Your days weigh more than the family around your neck.
Nine months and nine pounds without your voice or hand,
my mother called, and you said: “Give Him My Name, Noel.”
And she abided, faithfully, by the promises made
that warm May night. But years proved these words,
like so many other parts of you,
were broken, and so I am yours
in name only.
I haven’t your dark eyes, fair skin or welcome wiles.
That cooing air of arrogance
in your smile, or the graceful way your beard
rises and settles into a dignified chin.
Your daughters are your spitting image,
shorter and effeminate, but telling tales
of their ancestry by the nines
of their soft and thoughtfully thin
eyes, a wild nose above cupid bow lips.
I am not like them;
every camera and mirror whispers,
how my genes have aborted you.
And yet strangers say the strangest things-
like that I am most your son when I look most annoyed.
Something in the nothing of demeanor
makes me summon your image to men and women
that have known you. The passive opening and closing of a fist.
In a folded leg, an unconsciously tapping foot,
staring into the distance with a cigarette dangling from my lip.
All of these acts I thought my self are borrowed,
are not my own, are ghostly references to a man
who grew up growing you
says are bestowed;
are reflections of the seed
My first razor was from the deli man,
his eyes lost when I asked him how to do it,
until he could understand that I was young and
that I needed. My first day of school was Johanna
ironing clothes, running me over with a lint brush,
combing my hair and reminding me
no girl likes a boy who sucks his thumbs.
Sex came from a box, a secret, a word of mouth
passed along the boys and bus rides.
Shared and studied in the dim blue tint of monitors
and television screens when nobody could see us
in our vile innocence. YouTube learned me
with tutorials, my first suit from my first check
a baggy thing. Green shirt, black tie, but
from your few visits I’d already known
how to make a knot
having been left in one.
Yet I am most your son when I look most annoyed.
The passive opening and closing of a fist. A folded leg.
An unconsciously tapping foot. Staring into the distance
with a cigarette dangling from my lip.
And I wonder, can character carry in a vein?
Have I shed and denied your look but not your scowl?
Am I as doomed as you are, to the rum on my breath
and vagabonding with the boys on Tuesday night’s
rather than with my family home? Father,
our days are numbered like the calendar
and when I’m fugitive to a feeling;
waxing gibbons and poetics at the moon,
I’m tempted to think my temperament is nothing
more than an heirloom. Is a remnant of you
in the recesses of my blood,
and I’m tempted to take a razor and gut you out.
But there is no salvation in suffering your self;
it’s best to leave that to the masochist.
Instead I’ll wear your name proudly,
but like a cautionary tale.
Instead I’ll learn to love
better than how you’ve taught me.