If Loving You Is Wrong I Don’t Want To Swipe Right

This City Is Alive. Can’t You Feel That Pulse Vibrating On Your Sole? I’m not sure if you mean sole or soul, but either way I’m nodding along, feeling my way down that soft hill just where your spine dips and your back ends, and I can’t begin to imagine what else a hand is for. That’s when I get your back hand.

Don’t Be An Ass, Just Stop, Listen. And we pause for a moment to feel the wind and vague aroma of pretzels whisper and whisk us away to the promised land. You hear a voice in an empty street, I feel the murmur of midtown traffic. What’s with yours? The Fuck’s With Yours? We laugh it off, but in retrospect, that difference turns out to be so tragic.

It’s barely sundown but we’re near halfway done with this town. Flannigans, your favorite place, Oh My God You Remembered! Open balcony and buffalo wings so good They Must Have Got Me Pregnant. But I’m just gunning for sympathies. A last stake and a blunt mood while you blunt moods, swinging this weeks crush down my face like another God Damn meme. Oh, I bet he’s a fucking prince. Works where? Oh, you don’t say? Shut up and order me a drink, I can do without the Me-and-Him while I’m mapping out your decolletage. I’ve got a heavy heart with heavier thoughts, but if you want to brag, I’ll allow it. Because the way you say my name still makes me useless.

Go on then, I said. He sounds so great, please show me.

And you go reaching for your phone, flick, swipe, flick, turn page: Facebook gallery of couple selfies so synonymous with our generation. Too close for comfort in those comforts, vacation photos where you hide your feet in the sand because I know you’re too self conscious. He’s grinning, so damn winning, Joe-Yale jaw and an All-American gleam as he’s leaning on his side to your open arms and open-ended’s. And anybody else would say in dears, Awe, Well Now, They Must Be So Happy.

And yet, just like that, here we are. And yet, just like that, there we were: mourning in the morning, even by the evening, smoked in the dusk, and I’m the dew to meet the sunrise. Smell me, taste me, feel me, breathe me, breathe me. Inhale. Inhale. Tensely, deliberately, you ask for your iPhone charger while I am none the wiser and glimmering of you.

We had the whole of a sleepless town to dance around and be depraved in. The music calling, your hips responding, three missed calls on your neck where my lips felt they had a part in. (Near)missed connections in the way you said my name like a taxi cab confession, soft and blatant but underhanded, so our driver had to ask Can’t-You-Wait-Until-I-Get-You-There? And we laughed about it later, while you were wearing my shirt and I played footsie under breakfast, because fuck, do I wake up ready. Because last night is so distant and never enough, and I have these damn instincts that won’t let me let up.

But I’d be remiss to not reminisce in the way you smiled when we spent the day and I locked the door. To keep everybody out, or maybe forcing us in.

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Kamikaze Pilots Don’t Wear Helmets

Bed covers don’t cover much-
only cold feet and secrets two lovers share.
particulars wondered out of window sills,
hiding in plain sight from a stranger or husbands eye.
no heat or warmth this dire night,
only bodies and throw pillows
tainted in the thin evidence of s[k]in.
wrinkled, like my grandmother’s hands
before she died and showed me how to read a tarot.

come nightstand, by the record player
a deck of red cards already shuffled,
random, pristine, perfect and predestined.
queen of diamonds across the jack of spades
and I lost the king of hearts a long time ago.
the egg timers clicking, counting down,
a wet shade of grey across our shared living.
room quietly loud, like the gasp before a scream,
and the alarm clock ring sounds like a sigh.

and sunrise, and yawns, and brushed teeth and breakfast
and the roulette wheel of responsibility and love
spins again. my heart winces at the thought,
wondering, unable to determine where I stand,
how I fall. the days keep coming, back to back,
relentless. two people can’t keep a secret and
our winning streaks come to an end.

another hand dealt, we place sour bets.
diamonds over spades, tainted, quiet,
forced to look the other way-

aces high, aces high.

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.

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. 

The Cassandra Complex

You can’t honestly love a dishonest thing, and the loneliest women always find a way to me. With their steel eyes and emptied hands, pockets full of lint and wedding rings. SoCal socio-megalomaniacs; idle, only innit for the lol’s and cheap thrills. Desperate, for attention maybe, often restless and occasionally cold feet. Melancholy misfits and Tinder-ed housewives, specifically of the military variety (Here’s Looking At You, Kid) curious to see beyond the veil and iron curtain of their staled lives of routine.

“Little young for jazz, aren’t you?” Says Marianne.

Everybody’s got an audience, my uncle used to say, and I happen to know mine very intimately. I provide risk with a bit of comfort, I suppose; the safety of A hedged bet when the thought that There-Could -Be-Something-Better-Than-This creeps into your bed sheets and makes a home inside your head. Because nobody puts baby in a corner or ever really bets it all on black, that stuffs for the movies, so the easiest way to steal second base is by keeping a foot on first.

“I won’t card you if you don’t card me,” I replied.

Friday’s are dry, dull, and take forever to get you anywhere like a NY taxi. When the office population is sparse and I can’t bare the sound of another fax or thunk of the copy machine, I like to throw on Spotify to help fill the empty hours in anything work appropriate. Personal playlist are a hard pass and immediate negative; there’s far too many expletives and small tragedies behind those lyrics for me to care about e-mails, when Arctic Monkeys are asking the only two questions I give a damn about. Whatever’s on top of the charts sounds so recycled I can’t tell one song from the other, and is usually popular for the kind of people who still laugh at the word faggot or don’t shut the fuck up about Beyonce.

And I honestly don’t really need that kind of noise in my life. So Jazz stations are the safest bet, not necessarily out of choice, but a process of elimination. Much like Marianne.

“It’s not polite to ask a woman her age,”

“I never said I cared.”

She was pretty. Not hot, beautiful, stunning, breath-taking or amazing. Pretty, like a painting or very well kept apartment. She had a fading glow of gorgeous, the makeup, accent nail and deep-vee blouses stressing just the right amount of collar bone and decolletage to make her desirable. But there was a hunger about her, a poverty of touch, expressive gestures of the mouth, hands, and tongue. Eyes that said yes to questions I hadn’t been asking.

When she talked she had a habit of putting a hand against my arm or chest, remarking casually about receptionist schedules or what Debra said to her last week. Let it rest and linger for just enough time for it to be considered suggestive, although not entirely inappropriate. While I go by on empty head nods, trying hard not to smile in a way that’s too obvious or says Hi-My-Eyes-Are-Up-Here.

“Have you had lunch yet? I’d kill for some eggplant. Doesn’t some eggplant sound so good right now?” She asks. A loaded question as far as emojis were concerned.

“The killing or the eggplant?” I say. And she smiles, not answering.

Honesty is the best policy and I am a liar of the worst degree. But God is good and prone to favoring symmetry, so She evened me with a horrible poker face, so bad the only way I could be any more obvious would be a tail wagging between my legs. Which, in a sense, there actually is.

“How’s Richard?” I ask. A Self sabotage, because I love to ruin things for myself.

Poor Richard, off on a different kind of fishing. I’d heard his legend, the atypical over protective and underwhelming handsome- pale, blue eyed and red tan lines notorious in men of adventure. Likely under the impression that golden ticket of appearance and arm candy doesn’t start to fade after six years of a flat-lined marriage, hadn’t seen the signs in the sand of Marianne building castles elsewhere.

“Around. Visiting his brothers.” She says, her thoughts elsewhere.

I couldn’t blame her. Emotional ransom is a dick move and there’s nothing worst than feeling indebted to someone. Infidelity is a sin big as littering, in my humble opinion, especially if the alternative is a long conversation on what’s wrong that is on its fifth resurgence. Nut up or shut up, I guess, but that’s much easier to say without a mortgage and your entire life nailed down to another person.

“You should call him,” I say, and quite honestly. She scoffs like I’d ask her for ID and takes her hand from my arm, collects herself in a physical retreat.

Un chiodo fuori un chiodo,” She says.

“What?”

“It’s Italian. It means, a nail takes out a nail. Or, you need a nail to forget a nail. Something like that.”

I understood, I think, how much cheaper it is to add another coat of paint than go all in on another lease. How we bury uncomfortable in other things, money, people, sex, memes.

“Sounds like a painful way to solve a problem.” I say.

“I’m going downstairs to close up. Keep your phone on in case I get stuck,” She says, dismissively, turning away from me and the suggestion down the hall.

Leaving me to wonder why do I not lose my voice when the moments are so critical? Why do I see a light at the end of tunnels and look for shadows? I’m terrified of not standing in my truth, of growing younger, because regression is a form of death and I’m proud of the monster I’ve worked so hard to become. Was it desperation? A hunger and poverty of the soul? Unexpressed gestures of the mind, heart, and tongue. Sometimes, above all else, I wish I knew how to just shut the fuck up and enjoy a bad thing well.

A while passes and my phone screen lights up, with a message from Marianne.

“Deb leave yet”

The worse weight a man can carry is a conscience, and a best practice among sex and love addicts anonymous is to pack light.

“Negative.”

Because the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, especially when it comes to orgasms.

“Come to elevator rm when she does”

It’s heaven on the way down but one hell of a climb up. Which may make me a hypocrite, but only on a technicality.

“Are you trapped again?”

Like atheist who moan about God during sex.

“No. Bring 🍆”

Un chiodo fuori un chiodo.

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.

Hey Baby Are Your Parents Pilgrims? (Because It Looks Like You’re Settling)

Sandy asks me why I’m so quiet, and I don’t know what to tell her. Lately I’ve felt a lack for words and feelings although I’m pretty overstocked on both. I suppose I could be hoarding sentiments, saving them for a rainy day or bright eyed Jane on the subway. And I hear the tip-tip-tip-tap-tap-tip drizzle against my window sill but when I stare at the shelves then back at Sandy I just can’t bare to part with a single phrase or hug or Good Morning Beautiful. I’m overflowing again with so many thoughts in my head, but they don’t race any more. Instead they’re sluggish and relentless – dragging their feet through the recesses of my day while I’m in the shower or silently consoling strangers on the train. This afternoon I made a best friend and we carved our names on a tree trunk just outside of town although he doesn’t know it yet.

Sandy knows it though, I think. She knows too much sometimes.

And normally stuff like this is fine because I’ve always kind of lived my life with head in the clouds (and between warm legs,) just musing for amusement and just going through the motions with my body on autopilot. I’ve forgotten what the sun feels like so now I’m restless and sticky and asking what this thing dripping down my brow and heart is. Sandy says its pulp, and then I wonder if she’s calling me a fruit or something she can squeeze dry. I guess human adaptability can also be a pretty terrible thing when you think about it – becoming so used to something that the opposite feels like a threat. What a strange notion, to consider that I’m not used to happiness. It’s such an off term also if you read too deep into it like I always do: used to happiness. Used to it.

Happiness is using me, so happiness must be conniving.

So I’m far from melancholic, far from lonely, far from Moloch, far from observations of human desolation, but I’m never far from Sandy. And I’d rather not write about love if it ends well, to be honest, although that’s exactly what this disease is. I know it, but I won’t ever say it. Not ever. There’s a certain level of defeat that goes with that statement, and I don’t really mean in a sense of being ‘vulnerable’. It’s defeat because I feel I can still do better. My hormones remind me often – super models, and that girl who turned me down in secondary school, and that cutie on the third floor with the red hair and bitter eyes: they’re all as appetizing, have infinite possibilities and maybe friends that are probably even more attractive and more quirky and have even more strange and fascinating habits I can poke fun at over lattes and orgasms.

But they aren’t Sandy. They’ll never be Sandy.