You And Me And The Devil Makes Three (aka I Want To Hold You In Contempt)

Her kiss is a relapse, misfortune,
worsening of my worst impulses;
an awful influence full of irresistible.
Her words are drugs and drugs are a clutch,
til highs do us part and lows make us
whole again. Bags of heavy yesterdays
weigh down, and I don’t know what to do with myself.

Taken hands, hushed words, rushed stalls-
what a waste to not grab waist and do
a four letter word (love). Plans to keep
and make her a home, 5PM lockdown, rush hour,
crowded public when doubts double and my mouth
taste like cinders. Slipping  into a thought of her
like a favorite pair of jeans.

Snug, familiar, and warm; she fits well. Run my thumb along the holes
and coffee stains, wonder what memory or feeling
the moment will settle as, when the honeys and the moons
fade. If my name will be a sigh, wistful as a cloud,
or vague as rain humming to what the radio plays.
A feeling haunting me in the distance, a reminder
that you are in tangles and I am tangelsome.

Still I pray for relapse and disaster,
addiction and her sex to once again step into me,
far from fog and drizzled Sundays, so I might tug
on her thoughts like a shoelace.

I am undone again.

Cassie, Episode II (aka Never Go Out Of Your Way To Be Unkind)

That morning I had called in sick to work on my way there, because something about subway posters at 7AM can just be so fucking depressing? Those wide, grinning, dead-eyed actors trying to sell you college courses, some stupid movie, or Old Navy cargo shorts. Baby crying in a stroller, some asshole blasting music through the speaker on his iPhone, some sixty people crowded side by side with nobody saying a fucking thing. Just the hum of the subway train burrowing to Manhattan.

Kachung, Kachung, Kachung, 

“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” 

Ding-doon. Ding-doon.

It was enough to make a man exhausted, too tired to clock in and pretend to give a shit about Bridget’s new baby or an Excel spreadsheet. And if you can’t relate to that, well, then this story isn’t for you, bud. 

So I sent a text pretending I was sick and got off on 96th street, booked a room at Carmine’s like I used to when I was more degenerate. I wanted to get away, needed a low cost escape and bottom shelf liquor type of abandoning ship, and not knowing where to go, I went back to Amsterdam Avenue, where I had traumatic and yet awesome times in my youth. An instinctive return to chaos and creation; natural, the way sea turtles go back to die or lay eggs in the same beaches where they’re born.

There’s also such a safety in what’s familiar, how easy it is to slide into old habits like a pair of your favorite jeans. 

After an hour of checking and settling in to my room I hopped back on the train downtown. I had to get to 79th, which was where the bars stopped and everything south became  skyscrapers and big businesses. Suits, ties and bored housewives walking yorkies on their way to $200 manicures. Not my tempo or atmosphere, to say the least.

The subway was less crowded by then, only a handful of bodies too distinct and all over the place  to categorize as 9-5’ers.  Those wide, grinning, dead-eyed actors on the posters didn’t bother me as much. I felt better, knowing I was on my way to a good time I should not be having. I sat down and let the hum of the subway train burrowing through Manhattan rock me gently to all the irresponsible things I planned on doing. Satisfied, anticipating, feeling like I escaped.  

“BECAUSE DISEASE IS NOT OF GOD.” A womans voice, booming, echoing. I didn’t look, because I didn’t care. Religious fanatics were pretty common at any hour of the day on any corner of New York.

“SATAN IS THE AUTHOR. HAPPINESS RESIDES IN YOUR HEART, BUT YOU SHRINK FROM THE LIGHT. YOU HIDE FROM GRACE. YOU WALK IN DARKNESS.” 

79th Street came and I stepped out of the subway car, the woman’s voice echoing behind me as the doors closed. 

“But what about your soul?”

Stand clear of the closing doors, please. 

“But what about your soul?”

Ding-doon. Ding-doon.

“But what about your soul?”

Kachung, Kachung, Kachung. 

“But what about your soul!?”

The Agony Columns: Katherine

Constantly being concerned with being a better person is cause enough to realize I don’t actually believe myself to be one, and I honestly try my best not to hurt someone else’s feelings while I pursue my own space and happiness.

At least, that’s the reasoning I use for when Evan says he loves me, and I lie and say that I love him too. And I did, I know I did, at some point, because I can’t deny those Summers when I’d watch him working on his car from the rooftop of our house and he was all I could think about. 

Our parents were kind of friends but we only knew each other in passing, because in a small town like ours if you didn’t it was obvious you were doing it on purpose. He was tall- even when we were teenagers he towered above most of us, and even some of the teachers. With quiet, hazel eyes and a sweet but little oafish face. Halfway handsome and gentle in a way that makes you trust somebody instinctively.  He didn’t talk very much back then, a fact I constantly remind him of now that he doesn’t shut up, and even then I had a feeling it was because he was either shy or self conscious about something. Some secret defect he was scared to reveal if he said too many things at once.

We hardly spoke throughout high school so I can’t calendar exactly when I decided that I wanted him. At that age your hormones are so all over the place, it’s impossible to tell, to place it to a single moment. But I do remember it as a slow and steady realization, like a favorite color, or discovering you might like girls too. Watching him play lacrosse during lunch, his long and lanky body rushing and slamming across the field. That year his parents bought him a car, and he spent every single Sunday under the hood of that marooned and beat up Subaru; his face and tank top soaked with a thin layer of oil and sweat. And on Thursdays after art class, him pretending to read the bulletin board outside of choir: his dark, coffee colored hair draped over the his bronze eyes. I remember this exciting envy when I would watch, when his girlfriend would come out of class and brush it aside. 

Lots of these moments made me stare, made me sink stupidly into the thought of him, so the exact one that took hold of me I couldn’t say. But I do know the Summer I turned seventeen was when I decided to seduce him.

It was a blind and thoughtless resolution, and honestly, a part of me didn’t believe I would actually go through with it. Confidence was part of the issue. I wasn’t exactly self-conscious, but I wasn’t arrogant enough to consider myself beautiful or seductive by any means, either. My chin and ears were very pointy, giving me slightly elfish features, which is why I’ve always had bangs and let my hair drown past my shoulders. My mothers side and two years of track left me small, what some might call petite but is really more like a little boys body. Unlike some of the other girls I was nothing to turn heads or stop traffic, but even then, I liked my frame and freckles. I had a quiet confidence in myself, and whether Evan would or not, I would like them and me just the same.

My entire tactic was non-existent. It was a thought that brewed in the back of my mind, that I thought about on the bus ride to school or during my runs. It was Saturday when it happened, I remember, one of the hottest days of the Summer, and I left early for my usual morning jog. I love running; the freedom of it, the feeling of my feet thumping against the pavement and my heart thrusting against my rib cage. Reality fades further and further the more I push myself against the strain of my lungs, my muscles tensing, my chest tightening, until everything becomes obsolete and all I can see or have the capacity to think about is the road ahead of me. And all I can feel, all I care about, is the warm and desperate air I’m gasping for. The blood pulsing in my veins so loud I can hear it. And then I stop and the world comes crashing back in a winded rush, as I struggle to catch my breath and remember my personality.

When I finished that morning, a thought struck me and I decided to go see Evan. I swung around my house, grabbed a pie mom had left on the kitchen counter and made my way to his garage. He was hunched over the hood like so many times before, his clueless gaze thoughtfully considering something. I cleared my throat to get his attention.

“Hey,” I said. Still winded, and my heart struggling against something else. He looked up with a calm surprise that grew as I approached him. “Mom asked me to drop this off,” I lied, gently raising the pie.

“Oh, yea. Thanks,” He said, wiping his hands with a blue and oily rag.

To his credit, he maintained eye contact for much longer than I expected him to, except it was obvious his neck was locked in a brace to keep his gaze on mine. Still a part of me had doubt, thought maybe I was making a mistake.

“Real hot one today, huh?” He added, coming closer. 

“Yeah,” I said. “Keeping cool in here?”

My hair was in a ponytail and I could feel beads of sweat brimming down my temple, sides, stomach. I could feel my chest heaving against the stuffy Summer air as I was pacing the garage. I couldn’t keep still, so I decided to focus on the feeling of my feet wading against the pavement and my heart thrusting against my rib cage. The heat crept into my lungs and I could feel a strain, my muscles tensing, my chest tightening, my body anxious and waiting for something. Deep breaths of the warm and desperate air I’m gasping for, the blood pulsing in my veins so loud I could hear it.

“Not like you,” He said, and I laughed, or at least, pretended to.

But for a moment I saw his hazel eyes flick down, then up. 

And I knew. 

Lunar Interlude – Reflections Of A Recovering Nuisance

Crowded back seats, a choking lust
for sex, for life, for mushrooms,
weed, cigarettes, ecstasy and dick jokes.
My twenties a hard blur of important moments,
never the full cut, like clips from a music video
the teenage years strive for but
never had enough access to the confidence
or drugs to see it through. An era one might consider
overkill, petty, premature,  and thoughtless, down the road,
but that’s tomorrow and my therapist problem.

I like the wild restless crowd:
people you don’t necessarily trust
but never mind having around.
Only benefits without the friends.
Deep down I think Hannah’s the kind of cunt
who’d fuck your boyfriend on your own bed
and not have the decency to take her shoes off.
but she calls me handsome, and compliments my haircut,
so she might fuck me too one day,
and hey, pobody’s nerfect.

Validation is funny, necessary,
like air, gravity or taxes, I guess,
but I don’t understand it.
Then again, there’s many things
I don’t understand. Most, actually.

Like marriage, and microwaves,
or friends who call
“just to see what’s up.”
Cynical, paranoid, maybe, but
I try to see the angles.
Ask me how my day was,
and my answer’s always

Why?

If Your Husband Gets Home Early We’ll Be Nicked At Six (aka 20-Love)

Dianysia doesn’t speak, she purrs.

When I stared into those bright, cloudy pools of milk and caramel she calls eyes a dark desire fills my heart and all extremities. Like burning alive, but on a smaller scale, and there was no lie in that fire. My nerves tingled in a calm excitement and I became painfully aware of my own senses, sensitive to the slightest touch that tethered us on the springy mattress. Swathed in the pale moonlight and sunrise in her eyes, pulled and forced towards her every word like a marionette by a string.

“Do you have a wife?” She asked me casually, and I answered no. “A girlfriend then,” she pressed, 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 didn’t trust these whims and so called feelings, because they’d betrayed me, and in their wake I found less beauty in life and even lesser in myself. Sentiments leave a wound and I’d 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 extinguished or emolded.

“There’s something in the way you look at me,” she began. “I don’t think anyone’s ever looked at me like you do.”

Outside the burros were crying to the dry and arid sky. A cricket chirped, two coyotes wailed at the moon, and between the bitter thyme’s of guitars whining at the night air, it began to rain. Began to wet the still and thirsty earth so yearning for its due.

Dianysia mewled and I feel her warm heart thump against the imprint of my palm, the crease and edges of her skin smooth and told a story to my fingertips like braille. It was five am and soon a cab would call me down to home and other sunsets, and the notion numbed me. I couldn’t bare the thought, to leave her side or moment unfulfilled. But what did it matter that we lay together, when sleep would tear us apart and a dream will keep us separate.

Omaha Hold ’em (While You Still Can) aka V-Day Reveries

Bed covers don’t cover much besides
cold feet and the secrets two lover share,
immaterial particulars wondered out of window sills,
hiding in plain sight from a stranger or husbands eye.
No heat or warmth in this dire night,
only bodies and bed pillows tainted in the thin
perspiring evidence of gentle sin. Wrinkled
like my grandmother’s hands
before she died and used to show me
how to play Casino and read a tarot.

On the nightstand by the record player
are a deck of cards, red, already shuffled,
predestined. The queen of diamonds lays across
the jack of spades while the king rest against
his back and heart. Two fools frolic in his castle,
but for how long? Soon another hand must come
to be claimed a victor, another game will be played,
and all the characters take on another role.

Jacks low, deuces wild,
aces high, aces high.

Tonight might be anything short
of a gambling addiction, only,
it’s not the high or numbers I’m chasing, but
a feeling. The egg timer clicking, a timer,
a wet shade of grey inching across our shared living.
Room quiet like a gasp, and the alarm clocks ring
will be the sigh. Sunrise. Yawns. Brushed teeth
and breakfast as the roulette wheel of responsibility
begins to spin again. My heart winces at the thought,
wondering, unable to determine where I will fall
among the kings and queens of 52. Universe 25
at 9:00AM waving undecided as the flowered blinds
bordered up against the strain of morning sky.

But the day is coming, no matter
how hard I fight. Time is a cruel dealer
and our winning streaks come to an end.
Another hand, another round of betting.
The fools laugh, the king reigns, diamond
and spade slide across table as strangers,
tainted, but quiet, and forced to look the other way.

Jacks low, deuces wild.
Aces high, aces high.

The Diary of Noel Edwards – 12/4/2017

Something in liquor lets my mental ellipses blur. I like the way alcohol allows for things to come more easily, be it a confession, thought, or company I wasn’t exactly fond of.

There are different calibers of drunks, and out my window I see the worst of them. The dog and hound, jeans held down as he releases himself onto a car or corner (he hopes) nobody can see at three in the morning. But someone always does. An abase acceptance of a more basic state of living- primal. The hungry eat, the thirsty drink, and the desirous find a four letter words to fulfill their wants.

Second is the suppressed or megalomaniac. Two very distinct states of being, but both can only answer in one way to liquid opiates: rage, anger, and violence. Either of the physical or verbal reprobate. One explodes like a grenade from the things he never said before, the other shows his true colors in less tasteful expressions of power.

Probably hundreds more, I think, and mine isn’t any different. During the day I’m cold but when night sinks into a whiskey glass, I get so nonchalant. I can’t commit to what makes me angry but rather list all the ways I love you. You not being anyone particular, because, I guess, deep down I must be a harlot. This love is for everybody. For Amanda who had to be so blunt and withdraw from me for no reason other than nationality. For Sam who likes to lie despite 20 years of friendship. For the stranger that called me a faggot on a church pew when I was only asking for direction.

I drink and I love them, all of them, all of you, all of me. Not despite your faults, but because of them.

I am, deep down, nothing but a glutton for punishment.