En Absencia (aka Love Only Realized After)

I shouldn’t have disappeared the way I did.  I have never felt such a connection, such a symmetry to someone else in this world. It was never so easy to share my life with a woman, not just the center, but the dark and torn edges we often hide in shame from others. The smallest conversations with you were an adventure, you came to me and remained so unexpected like a dream. And with the brilliance of your thoughts and kindness of your heart, a part of me wondered if I hadn’t made you up in one. 

The days and moments we spent together still haunt me, in a beautiful but far too painful of a way. Even now I can’t think of a single use for my hands than to hold yours. My mouth and tongue feel pointless no matter who else wants to listen. The world has become such a stranger to me, and though I miss you more than these little words could ever contain, I can’t bring myself to bring you back into my life as just a friend. You mean too much to me, and that box just can’t fit what my heart won’t filling it with. The maybe of us has gotten its answer, and while I want nothing more than for you to have everything and exactly what you desire from this broken world, it breaks me too much to be on the sidelines and a footnote in your happiness.

I’m sorry my love is too selfish to ever see you as anything else but my everything.

Early Morning Sweet Nothings (aka I Wake Up With Enough Morning Wood To Build A Cabin)

2AM again, a restless dream, undressing under twilight
but somebody has to keep the moon company.

Yes, yes, you said. Not yet, no, not yet. 
I call you Gaia and kiss the sands, 
jump and dance and make a mess, 
and I laugh, you laugh, we laugh;
the moonlight kisses us.  

If only I could love you properly- 
my fingers ready, edging, always aching 
for yours. So young, and bold, and hairy. 
Able. Graying. 

No, no, you said. No, not yet, not yet. 
You call me worrier, kiss my hands, 
jump and dance and make the bed, 
and I laugh, I laugh, I laugh; 
the sunlight kisses us.

But my hands start thinning.

The Sidney Sendoff

You were half sitting, half laying on your old futon sofa with your bodies mangled together like a newspaper in the rain. You remember your hand finding its way to hers, and when your fingers laced you felt a light squeeze. It was a silent admission: the only way she could ask ‘what took you so long’ without having to. Her hair was a frizzy and a mess, makeup faded and runny, nails uneven with the dull remnants of last weeks violet pink.

She was radiant. You felt your eyes linger, wanting to tell her all about the quiet storm brewing inside of you. You cleared your throat.

“That nose piercing looks ridiculous.” Was what you said, reaping your reward: a hard-ish slap across the face. But she was smiling, though. You always made her smile.

“Well I don’t care. I’ve always wanted one but I was afraid of how I’d look, or what people would think. I finally decided to get it just for me, just because I like it.”

You were never really a romantic, never saw the point in things like marriage or family, relationships or even friends. You figured them distractions, momentary lapses we make to forget one cold and lonely truth. Life never made much sense to somebody like you, but when you watched her name a falling leaf Al-fall-fa, or count the tiles on your bedroom floor, somehow it kind of did.

“In that case, I guess I like it too.” You said. She tilted her head and flashed a wide grin, one of her favorite movements. It was her special grin. Her ‘You-think-I’m-so-amazing-and-I-know-it’ grin.

“Because now it has personality?” she asked, and you nodded slightly. When you do, something makes her eyes go soft.

“Let’s kiss.” You start to say. “Let’s kiss, but not right now. Let’s kiss right at midnight. What? Stop laughing, it’s romantic. Isn’t this what romantic people do?” She’s half amused, with a wonder in her smile that has holds you like a fire, and you are Joan of Arc.

She shifts her gaze to the clock. It responds 11:58PM.

“Why wait so long?

This Happened Before The Quarantine, So Nobody Can Judge Me Now (aka Cassie, Episode IV; A New Hope)

By 6PM we were getting eighty-six’d down a string of bars on Amsterdam, where I made ends in low places and chased my blues away in short skirts and everything except a positive outlet. Old stomping grounds where I’ve got a reputation worse than Diogenes, pictures of me hanging from The Lions Head on 109th Street all the way down to the Dead Poets Cafe.

NO ADMITTANCE written in thick, bold and black letters like a wanted poster from the old west. After all these years they hadn’t taken it down, and I couldn’t tell if it was because times change and people forget, or if the bounty on my head was worth so much to the bartender I called a thieving crook cunt for stealing tips and the bouncer who cold-cocked me. Don’t bother asking, because I won’t be telling you that story. It’ll be up to you filling in the blanks and decide if I deserved it or not.

“These’re some friends from work,” Cassie briefed me on our way to the table. “So don’t fuckin’ embarrass me.”

She charged ahead and I followed, passed by my college footprint staring back at me with that wide, stupid grin and a smile I can only describe as It-Was-Worth-It–So-Fuck-You-Too. I don’t remember being so reckless, but the look was something I recognized. There was a dog on my walk home from middle school that had it, these solid black eyes that could be so quiet and almost tender, but the stillness is what made him  terrifying. That gave the distinct impression of what they say comes right before a storm.

“Well now that’s all I want to do,” I said. “What’s a touchier subject for them- religion or white guilt?”

Coming back to Amsterdam Avenue was in a ways a sort of homecoming. I might have missed the ceremony but still graduated sorta-come-loudly. And what better venue to revisit my putida alma mater than the bar I met Sheila in before we painted this whole city red with our stupid fights about Facebook and juvenile love. Which, funny enough, had the same name as the guy who taught me how to pop a beer bottle open with a lighter.

“Me pretendin’ I don’t know you and you’re following me around,” Cassie replied.

Jake’s Dilemma, is what they called it; and his was like mine: Do – or – Don’t.  An easy answer when I was young, back when this place was a big deal because the bulldogs those pretty waitresses asked you to try while leaning just a little too close needed a goddamn leash, and they hung a bunch of bras over the bar top for reasons that were none of your fucking business (if you were stupid like me enough to ask why.)

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry.” I said. “Better be safe and just talk about my dead parents.”

I guess back then I had a hard on for experiences I would now consider in-genuine. Chasing highs in low places with my dick leading the way like a diving rod. My first memories of hunger surfacing in a language I couldn’t speak, but understood. I craved, wanted, needed and surrendered to these wordless demands my body exhausted me with. Cocaine might be a hell of a drug, but have you ever tried it on sex? Rolling down a hill of physical inclinations every single fucking night, waking up and not remembering where or how you got the bruise. Life lessons that I lost to whiskey sours, Sheila, Cassie, myself, and the infinite desires of the body.

“Is that really how you wanna go down t’night? The weirdo, then,” Cassie said grinning, eyes propped up so high they almost became a part of her hairline.

Madness may be doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, but to ruin yourself on a nightly basis for the fuck of it doesn’t have a name yet. For me it was an instinct, a deep and natural longing that watched over and laughed at me as I tried to not swear and give a damn about starving kids in Africa. An impulse that was impossible to ignore, and the nights I tried to was when I learned why lions pace around their cage.  And I was happy, to be honest, letting Jesus take the wheel while I didn’t believe in God. Wounded, really, although I couldn’t say from what.

“I guess not,” I said, trying to look like I wasn’t trying to smile.

And now, much like then, I think, when I look at it from a distance, it seemed to be happening to someone else. And through that lens, unhealthy as it was, or is, it also happens to hurt a lot less.

“How do you want to be remembered, then?” She asked, tugging on the strings of her sideways eight pendant dangling from her collar bone.

“Vividly,”  I said, infinitely wondering what the fuck I was doing.

It’s Not The San Andreas Fault, But Someone’s Taking The Blame (aka Sorry I’m So Sorry I Think You Look So Good In Blue)

And where love used to come to me at night like dreams, she dawned upon me suddenly in broad daylight. A calm, quick and, at first, uneventful revelation whose silent gravity weighed on me greatly in the hours that would follow it’s discovery. I noticed that I loved her the way you discover liking pineapples, or that you should call your mother more. When a thought flashed, crowded by some nine others, and I softly filed each to where and when they belong. But when I thought about her an awareness happened, one I couldn’t blink or wave away as easily as I would have imagined.

Maybe, was all I could think. And Maybe persisted throughout the day until Maybe erupted and it was all and everything. Then, having awakened this nameless consciousness, I felt it inhale its first deep and gasping air for breath, and like a newborn, take one long and finite pause before screaming.

Maybe.

For a while, days which were only seconds, I refused to acknowledge this very daunting and real idea. I ignored it, the way I ignored the concept of me liking pineapple or that I should call my mother more. Whims exist and are only true for a certain amount of time, after all. But this only kept the Maybe silent, I felt it panicked, pacing around my heart, thrashing and waiting desperately to finally exhale.

I said it once to myself, unsure I guess, or perhaps to see. Sometimes putting words to a feeling does not make it real, but only exaggerates how ridiculous it really is. I said it once to myself: what if I love her?

And suddenly I felt the world around me twirl and change it’s shape. What I cared for grew twice the size, and what I didn’t now had such a tremendous sympathy with it. I looked around, expecting a disaster, but the people and my desk were all the same.

Maybe I was the only one wasn’t.