Tag: short read

Two Is A Crowd, Episode III (aka How To Swim)

I can’t dance, I said.
And she said ‘It’s like swimming’
But I can’t do that either.
‘Because you get nervous, I bet.’

Because there’s so much under you
hell, monsters, angels, saints,
the deliman you stole two croissants from,
hell, hell, hell, hell, no floor, no life, no source
no footing, no knowing, nothing steady and

She hadn’t said a word.

‘What you can’t touch you do not understand,
so you panic. You can’t live when you can’t stand,
or feel. Couldn’t believe what won’t touch,
couldn’t be sure of what you can’t know.’

I nodded and hadn’t said a word.

‘Do you know what the secret to swimming is?’

I shook my head, but before Anna could answer,
a man came and swept her dainty hand in his.
Striding towards the dance floor with her in tow,
limp and swaying. I watched them sway their waist
and rhythms and bend and fold until they disappeared among the flow
sure and unhinged, let the strangers body press
direct

each sway wile her thing and pale arms flayed straight into the air,
buoyed to the earth by his hands along.

“Well?” Asked Sam. And I nodded.

“It’s letting go.”

When You Reach The Last Stop, Show The Grim Reaper You Have A Transfer Card (aka Subway Soliloquy)

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Somebody sucks teeth and the whole train sighs.
An afternoon turning evening ride home, ten stops away
from Wednesday rituals and the nonsense we do to get
over the hump of a work-week. Walking starts looking
like an option from all these delays. And if this
old ladies bag pushes me ONE MORE TIME I swear I’ll-

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
PLEASE-GIVE-UP-YOUR-SEAT
FOR-THE-PREGNANT
AND
THE-ELDERLY
IT’S-STANDING-UP-FOR-WHATS-RIGHT
AND-COURTESY
IS-CONTAGIOUS.

Sweating, hot and suffocating in 9 to 5 company.
Undone ties and tired eyes fanning magazines,
smearing makeup, grunting offhand conversations,
complacent and wailing for home. Singing to the rhythm
of train tracks and middle class disappointment.
ka-kun ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-
A Game of Thrones Ringtone plays and somebody sneezes.

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
FOR-YOUR-SAFETY-PLEASE
DO-NOT-BLOCK-OR-HOLD-THE-CAR-DOORS
WHILE-THE-TRAIN-IS
IN-THE-STATION.

Two men argue over who touched who first,
but it doesn’t matter and devolves to racial slurs.
Fingers, movements, violence vibrating in IF YOU COME
ONE STEP CLOSER
and voices getting louder
and louder and louder and louder and
more uncomfortable the longer neither of them backs down.
Then one says F**K THIS and starts reaching in his bag and

THIS-IS-A-SOUTHBOUND
SIX-TRAIN
THE-NEXT-STOP-IS
SAINT-LAWRENCE
AVENUE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Red floor, red doors, red rails, red everything.
Red advertisement on prescription acne treatment
on sale with Dr. Zimmerman, blood blushing his smile.
People running. Screams. Yelling. Shoving. I TOLD HIM
HE SHOULDN’T. I TOLD HIM. I TOLD HIM.
Sirens.

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.

He’s Always So F**king Late & Smells Amazing (But You Didn’t Hear That From Me; aka A Party Night Prelude)

It was cold that night – not that it made any difference to you back then.

With your first step out of the smothering embrace of a stuffy building, the cold wintry air was a stifling but liberating pang against your lungs. There was something indefinably invigorating about leaving the warm pleasantry of home into the unforgivably bitter night at so late an hour. The tender, luminous bulbs from indoors seemed to shine brighter as you took your first steps into depravity. A soothing glow calling out your name with a flickering beckon begging for you to return. But you turned your back on these cries, stepping nimbly into the enveloping darkness while ignoring its silhouetted plea. Waltzing into the familiar embrace of a dark city, the last trace of light recoiled from your jacket and the transformation was complete.

It was calm that night. At this hour, even in a city so restless as yours, everyone was either asleep or on the verge of it. But not you. You took a deep breath, soaking your mind in the wet moonlight, reveling in the chilly stings of the winds embrace, and watching your soft breath take shape in the form of a thin vaporing smoke. You couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else. There was something almost exotic about this time of the evening – the silence deafening. Only occasionally could you hear the distant rhythmic melody of urban traffic joined by the thin blue layer glow of a television screen echoing from a first floor apartment window. As you walked, you enjoyed the rustling sound of your coat and the feint but persistent click clock click your shoes made against the hard concrete with each passing step. Not a soul to be seen for miles. The night was a voiceless orchestra.

Walking further, you creeped toward the distinctive but familiar black car with the ominously tinted windows. The world seemed to echo off of the small but elegant vehicle. There you saw the reflection of surrounding cars, the distant flick of a lamppost, a nearby cat scurrying across, the past, the future, the present, and most importantly yourself. This was no regular car, too unworldly to ever possibly be of this universe, but neither was it part of the ongoing symphony. As you neared the apparatus the passenger side window slowly lowered, carting with it a cheerful and familiar tone. He said something, but you didn’t hear what as you slid comfortably into the sleek leather seat. The inside of the UFO was even more brilliant than the exterior. Glancing through the window you felt completely separated from the outside world; the hue of the tints increasing this effect greatly. Though only an inch away, the orchestra now seemed unreachably distant through the thick dark coating enveloping anything that nestled in its den.

”…I didn’t say you could get in.”

You laughed, briefly, and flashed an unimpressed smile.

“Will you shut up and drive? We’re going to be late.”

He laughed too, as were your way of things. There was never a need for hello’s or how-have-you-been’s. Changing gears as you slipped on your seat belt, the engines soft rumble exciting your heart as the spacecraft came to life, bound for distant unimaginable lands. The night was young, adventure was just one mistake away, and you had an entire list to finish before the sun rose and made you human.

Silence Is A Kind Of Conversation

Her kisses are the perfect reason to stay in bed,
bar the door, close the windows and
drown out the world with our favorite shows on Netflix
and casual substance abuses.

She’s dangerous, holes in her pj’s and Medusa in her hair
while she’s changing a vapor and
complaining about her sister.

On weekdays I’m on a stay-cation,
babysitting beers and cursing at the idiots
May mentions.

Neck deep in her neck, finger ready
on the pulse of a curve I know is a trigger.
And in my heart of hearts, I think,
this is the perfect family.

(Until we actually had one.)

Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her (aka A Broken Heart’s A Heavy Bar Tab)

Even when I’m not a vagrant there are days I get the taste of gin and cinders on my tongue again. Waking up skeletal, bare as bone, with nothing but a name. Veins poking from a sleeve, revealing what I’m made of, like wires from old headphones you get ashamed to pull out in public. Some days leave me feeling ends-less, frigid and grey as the clouds I’m blowing smoke circles at from the balcony of my house. The air feels wet, the grass shimmers just a little greener, and as I take a breath I’m thrown to somewhere that isn’t here. Smell, they say, is most directly linked to memory, so there must been a scent of the early 2000’s perspiring in the grass of Trump’s America.

I was nostalgic, I guess. Remiss of the past, the way a particular type of weather reminds you of that time in third grade when it was raining, the day you saw Samantha scrape her knee in the PS 143 playground. A gash so long you couldn’t tell where it began or ended. You can’t even remember what it looked like, just the sensation of black tar and plasma. And while some kids ran for the nurse she just sat there, no crying, not shedding a damn tear, staring into that cut the way adults look at sunsets or somebody they used love. Almost hopeful, like waiting long enough might make something jump out of all that velvet. Make it more than just colors and blood.

I think that’s when it started for us, really. Fifth grade, Ms. Turmiski’s class. She made an impact on me that day, and no matter where she sat I had my eyes on her ever since. Even if she was in another room. Feelings I denied vehemently until sexuality amplified too high to be tucked away in an Ew-Girls. Samantha had came back from Summer damn near 5’5, towered above the rest of us with her home-cut bobbed hair and thick black rimmed glasses (before that fad came in, you hacks.) The only girl in class who had a binder when all the rest of us were early-primming into drawstring Nike bags and spiral notebooks. Come junior high she started keeping a deck of cards on the sleeves, and I’d make it a point to always sit across from her on the other team when we played spade or casino. Took the usual route of juvenile affections, found it easier to make her an enemy than admit her face made me want to do things with her I didn’t understand yet. Bluffed through boyfriends like Troy, Elijah, and Anthony like a champ. Fake-It-Til-You-Can’t-Take-It was the name of the game, and I was good.

Kept it cool until that one long walk home Sophmore year, hit a slump I couldn’t manage to flash a smile and hump over. Told her what I always felt, even mentioned that thing about her knee in fifth grade, and she said “I always knew, dummy.” Kissed me on the corner of Taylor Avenue, deli lights flashing above our stupid little heads. A world on the verge of conquering us at sixteen, and a universe of intimacy opening the floodgates. Going at it like jackrabbits and a lot of arguments over silly things. I wanted to make the world laugh, and she wanted me to study and make something out of me. She had kisses made of phosphene, I still remember the way her lips against mine would make my head melt. The only girl I ever suffered the dilemma – kiss her, and feel that bliss of touch and sexuality, but miss out on all the lovely things she could have said.

“i want to see your face. send me a photo.”
Her text read at four in the morning, and so I did.
“no. a real one. something I can hold and write your name.
scribble the date and the way you make me feel on.”

Her love was comforting, the way a light from another room is when you’re trying to fall asleep but afraid of the dark. Or yourself. When I couldn’t bare to go down a street because it looked so lonely, she’d remind me what I was scared of wasn’t outside. But in. And I loved her terribly, but only in retrospect. Spent more time dreary eyed with the boys on Amsterdam when I should have been watching Samantha color code her study binders. A realization I wasn’t able to see or understand until long after it happened, and honestly, only because it was gone. Like suddenly missing a limb or finger, or admitting you were an asshole to somebody that didn’t deserve it. There’s a learning curve to gratitude and I was on the verge of overcoming the anchor line. Which is no excuse, I guess. Hindsight is 20-20 and not having regrets just means having things you haven’t thought of enough yet.

“So just like that, you’d leave New York,” I said. Unable to admit by ‘New York’ I meant me.

“It’s a scholarship. Why wouldn’t I?” She said.

And I think we could have made it work, past the slammed doors and distance. Rebuilding trust from where there was none over jokes I shouldn’t be making. Six month breaks that break easy over the holidays, and all the blood we’ve tried to draw from one another wiped clean with something as simple as an I-Miss-You text. Enough distance that makes us wonder what we were so angry about anyway, two weekends into Lets-Just-Be-Friends that ends the moment we notice its 5 am and the bar is closing. Goodbyes and lonely train rides home that turn the world into a stranger, that make us pull the breaks and reverse into each other. Is it still falling if its the fifth time in love? Why are we so surprised to be veering off the side of the road because Why-The-Fuck-Does-Everything-Have-To-Be-A-Joke-With-You? A phone call slammed, and I don’t call back, because I’m tired and her birthday is right around the corner. I’ll take six months off before I start rolling the boulder of our love up over and over again, like Sisyphus. Glossing over our past in grey, summer weather. Sitting there not shedding a damn tear, staring at the sunrise like somebody I used to love. Hopeful, like waiting long enough might make something jump out of all that rosy velvet. Make it more than just the colors and blood we shed to each other.

That kind of chemistry can become exhausting, so her walking out for good was a victory, really.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it.