Tag: spilled ink prose

Because Every Goodbye Needs A Name (And This Ones Yours)

Another person’s apartment can be terrifying. The way the vase is cut, China shaped, and bedroom laid at such strange angles. There’s a windfall of history on the vase by the windowsill, vortexes of the past lying in throw pillows and dead eyed picture frames glaring from the dresser. I wouldn’t dare look in her closet, where entire eras are forever expanding in his old t-shirts and a shoe-box piled in yesterday’s love letters.

So many pieces of a person on display can make you feel like at any given moment their reality might swallow you whole.

“The next time you snore so loud I’m kicking you out.” She said.

We were having breakfast in her kitchen warm as the silence of the morning. Her cream blinds held back the brightness of the sun, but the snow building on her window sills shimmered into the room and came stabbing through the dim. Elis liked the night as much as I did. She was fine with simply existing and letting me and life alone, so long as she could be herself and go along her own playful, sinister way.

“What if there’s a storm?” I asked. And she answered with a shrug.

Elis was lonely as a firework – sharp and quick, over way too soon, and beautiful. Shuffling in her chair, dark and dank as her favorite memes, rolling her eyes at my long stares and stealing glances from her veggie omelet. Obvious enough to notice but never admit to, her affection was bloody and juvenile. It ran and pinched and hurt enough to remind you that you were real, and every day with her made me painfully gracious for life, like skinned knees.

Her iHome speaker popped to life and a hum of music came between us.

“I love this song, listen…” She said.

Drums and a distant pluck of a guitar strung softly, harmonous. The sound of rain and footsteps pacing against the damp clay of Earth. It resonated with images of forest, of nature, of Africa and distant lands I would never know but held a notion of. A man spoke with the rhythm: calm, tenor, and confident. What he was saying I didn’t know but he said it avidly, a moving moan of ache, of pain, of a violent inner victory. While saying nothing he said everything, spoke the wordless hymns I often heard chorus silently within me.

For a moment I wondered what he was saying but decided against it. A translation would have been a mutilation. Some things are not meant to be known, but only vaguely understood.

“Pass the ketchup” Elis said, and I stared at her like a sphinx. I couldn’t understand or come to terms with her laissez faire. She was refreshingly blunt, disarming and forward- like a poem with too many curses in it. When she saturnines my Sunday morning with that frank, playful innocence, I’m reminded of the subtle intimacy in a pair of bare knees.

“We could be like this, you know.” I said. “Nice to each other.”

She laughed, shy. Kittenish.

“No,” She said. “I don’t want that.”

“Why not.”

She chewed her egg and glanced around the room, looking for the words. The drums and man trapped in the speaker sang on with a blue and bridled passion.

“Because it isn’t fun.” She said finally.

I wondered what it was that drew me to her, why that thoughtless honesty was so refreshing. How her dark smile made me giddy and thawed so puckishly at adulthood.

Adulthood, that prison of constraint by way of conventional. I thought of bygone lovers, artfully carting their personalities and intellect on a cell phone. Yawning over life in half-wit consciousness. Quiet, empty head nods and cataract conversations, calculated candids. They were wordy, they were wise, they were sensitive to words and sunsets.

The kind of women I considered smart, in my stupidity. They were many things, but they weren’t Elis.

A wild, sudden impulse punctured me and I flicked a finger. A dozen ketchup packets flew across the floor, scattered in six different directions, and a thousand moons couldn’t compare to Elis’ beautifully annoyed smile.

“Fucking asshole,” She, lied. And was right.

This was more fun.

Curiosity Killed The Cat, But Satisfaction Brought Him Back (More Jaded)

“Do you know what poisons cows?” He asked.

A plastic bag was rustling between the long limbs of an old, wrinkled tree stump. Two paper coffee cups tumbled down the street, their plastic lids clinking against the worn and grey gravel of a bubble gum strewn sidewalk in New York. Urban tumbleweeds sifting between cars, bodies, half-opened trash bags and brown dry grass never to see Spring again.

“What?” I said, not really listening. I was too focused on the fauna fouling around us.

A valley of ash without the eyes or pity of TJ Eckleburg, the machinations of New York City they never write about in the movies. Grime, industry and man conglomerated into one. The wind had picked up, the bags rustled louder, cups clinked faster, and I thought there was a kind of music to the pollution of a city.

“The cow.” He repeated calmly. “You know what poisons them?”

I shook my head and he nodded wisely to himself,  shifting slightly against his cane which made his thousand year old Puerto-Rican bones groan. A while passed and he said nothing, stood leaning against the earth with the patience of trees.

“What poisons cows,” I asked absently, and his mustache twitched like cat whiskers, as if the question startled him awake. He smacked his lips, a bad habit he’d retained after years of chewing tobacco.

“The cow.” He repeated, again  calmly. “Do you know what poisons them?”

“No, Mingo. What poisons the cows?”

We were leaning on concrete slabs just steep enough to take a seat in, meandering the morning in fifty cent cigarettes and a small bottle of Jameson tucked safely in a brown paper bag. Me, looking too deeply into everyday scenery, and Mingo’s lively little eyes glinting grey, gazing out to Third Avenue the way a farmer does his crop.

He had the patience only age can teach- the still, sturdy, wise air of witnessing and being a part of decay. Wise and old, or old enough to seem wise; I couldn’t tell. An old man can say just about whatever he wants and get an absolute veneration from me. Remnants of my inner Catholic I’ve yet to snuff out: respecting elders and thinking too highly of them, feeling overwhelmed by guilt if I didn’t. Or possibly I trusted experience more than anything, because the hardness of life is also a teacher. And from what I’ve seen, we don’t learn as much from happiness as we do from the scars of healing.

“Esperanza, is a plant. They eat it, and then,” He ran his index finger along his neck, a universal sign, clicking his teeth. The little calf was done.

I felt a stubborn, humid heat smoldering my skin. It was close to 10AM but the day didn’t seem to want to start. Sunlight lingered on the horizon and yawned across the fruit cart vendors temples, slouched between the children across the avenue who’d stopped jumping and found more interest staring at their own feet. Lazy, dingy rays dragged between the plastic lids nestling in the gutter, crawled along the sidewalk and halfway up the 99 Cent and bodega storefronts. Then, just near the top, seemed to wince and suddenly retreat, giving up on ever moving on with the day. The morning was a low, dull Monday: fat, bloated, and sitting on itself, waiting.

But for what?

“Why do they eat it,” I asked. “If it’s poison.” And Mingo shrugged.

Esperanza is a flower, bright and beautiful with yellow petals. And Esperanza is also hope, just as bright and ruinous. I couldn’t decide which he meant, what he was referring to: the toxins or definition. And as I wondered this, Mingo dug his shoes into the sidewalk and began to show his roots.

“I killed somebody once,” He said unexpectedly. “Coz’ of a woman.”

He was calm, not sad or entirely delighted. Not resentful, or proud, but with the air of a man that’s lived, and in living, was reflective of what he had done. I lack the grace to remain kind in cruel situations, but a hot heart for the coldest matters. Mingo had purposefully either confided in me as a friend, or turned the sanctuary of our corner into his personal confession booth. And in either scenario I couldn’t think of what to say, so chose to remain silent and sip the bottle of Jameson as if he’d just commented on the weather. I preferred to come off as indifferent than commit to either condoning or forgiving him, listened as a cars exhaust coughed awkwardly down the road.

“You got a girl?” He asked after a while.

Down the street, a gilded goddesses hips swayed toward us, and she reminded me of a girl I reminded myself to forget. Gray eyes with dark, somber lips; the kind of face easy to compliment and hard to miss-remember. I was staring and I didn’t care, and the longer I dared the sooner I realized that familiar was just wistful thinking. She didn’t look anything like her. Her face, the angles, the sighs were all wrong. She didn’t have the unhappiness riddled along the creases of her cheeks, she didn’t hold me like a gasp for air while crying at the sight of her hand or freckled forearm.

She passed us swiftly, her heels clicking behind her like a round of applause, and swooped around the corner. Mingo slapped his lips again, and the girl I had almost remembered was gone.

“Yeah,” I said to Mingo, and I heard the sound of his neck creaking a nod.

Strange, the debris our hearts seem to build even after years of street cleaning. Odd, how songs still sound the same but lose meaning once outgrown. The plastic bag still rustled between the limbs of an old and wrinkled tree, and a car horn’s scream got louder, but sounded just a little farther off. The wind died down, the cups sat silently in the gutter, and I thought there was a kind of music to the pollution of a human being.

“Never killed anybody for her though,” I added, and Mingo laughed, ominously.

“You might,” He said.

I clipped my cigarette and said goodbye.

A Man Can’t Live Off Of Cupcakes

One neon purple stage, mascara studded women, seven rowdy young men and a lucky Groom-To-Be.

John, sensible and thoughtful John, was settling down with a chipper Vietnamese girl he’d met on holiday two years ago come Spring. Tonight we see him off with too much alcohol and feminine qualities, of the nude variety, doubts on marriage. The male prerogative: just one chick from now ’til forever?,’ is a vehement reprimand on settling down, so we slap his back and call him a fag for the very human desire for stability.

It’s all just a ceremony before he’s gone to the doghouse, the wife, the old ball and chain. Another man down with an arrow to the knee, and while all the idioms are there, the feelings don’t seem to sink in.

In three weeks John will still be John- our John, whether at the altar or the pubs. We talk about old times, share a few looks to the women bending every which way. They have names, but we forget them, either out of respect or because of how little they really meant, so we dub refer to them by their epithets: Left Tits, Yoga Pants, Sesame Street, Brooklyn Bridge and Coyote Ugly. Ivan complains we’re down to a four man team, and while we joke the night away I can’t help but wonder: what ring, what woman or family tears any fabric any worse than time, or distance?

And though I say nothing else but watch the night with a smile, John and I exchange a glance that tells me we have an understanding.

“You scared?” Is all I ask. He takes a moment, then shakes his head.

“Nah, I’m ready.” I nod along and shake his hand, join the rest for the moment we both know about to come.

Ivan, lumbering and brutish Ivan, seemed to forget us all as he stood closest to the stage. Every now and then his deep baritone cat calls echoing through the room along with butterfly kisses, laced in ten dollar bills and 90’s TRL level “WOO’s.” The nights main courses dance and pose, tug and heel on the thin thread of a green paperback leash. Like dreams they came and went, soothed and whispered, body shots and oh-honey-that-cost-extra’s.

Eventually Ivan gathered us together, another circle, another toast.

“To John!” Then down the hatch, bitter shots all around. Then with a wave comes in tonights bride, Blonde and clad in nothing, dragging a somber looking John away.

“This one’s on me Johnny!” Is all that Ivan says, and some of us laugh without saying what’s happening. But we know. We all know.

That back room door opened and closed, we slapped backs and watch Tits and Tramp Stamp strutting skin and sex like nothings happened, but deep down we all know. A small objection lumps in my throat, but I wash it down with another beer and stare straight ahead like a fool. Tramp Stamp’s areolas tilt and almost seem to ask me why I lose my voice when moments are so critical.

Five, ten, twenty minutes. An eternity when you’re on the other side of a waiting room. Close to an hour later we’re all winding down but John is nowhere to be seen. We hear a creak, the back door opens, Blonde emerges wearing a grin, hips and eyes batting triumphantly. The boys are a riot, a series of firecrackers cackling, while John comes out limping, belt haggard as his face marching toward us. He face lean, thinner that he usually is, eyes cloaked in shadows and fringing on regret. Another circle, another toast. More cheers, more jokes, more prods and laughter, but John is solemn as a vow. His blood red eyes meet the group, a stun silence gives way to whimpers.

“I fucking love my wife man, I-…fuck.”

Nobody says a word. Nobody is sure of what to say. We look to one another like we’re clueless, like we don’t understand the cause or what to blame. But we know.

Deep down, we all know.

A Man On Fire Only Attracts Cold Women (aka April’s Fool)

A man can’t be happy with a bottle and a woman. Hes has to choose one. So falling off the wagon for me is a return to form, before we learned how to judge each other, outside the barriers of suffering. Heartache aint just pretty songs, it’s memory of the body, carnage of the blood, when shame didn’t exist and knees were made for grass, concrete and scraping. How do you move on from a lost love?

People love a mystery and hate the answer.

But I can’t help but keep falling if thought of her makes me lose my step. How can I catch my breath if every chance her lips take it? An impossible pink, thick as a consonant or poems in a boot. Been down that road of doubt and I don’t beck, and I have my doubts with people, but I suspect everything except the flesh. Appearance blinds, words reveal, but phrases have disguises too.

Like when I lie and say “I need you,” but really mean “I can’t stand myself,”

She takes selfie pics in the bathroom with her foot on the sink to show off her shoes, a soft grunge glamour and I’m all about that that life. Such a peaceful face- long nose, bangs down her forehead, big hair and anime eyes. The kind of girl a man imagined into existence while in bed and dreaming off into the ceiling. Chaos, counter-culture and pandemonium. A monster, but the good kind that stirs her coffee counter clockwise. Better than these animals that don’t eat meat but put sneakers on dogs because it makes them walk cute, read a Simone De Beauvoir quote and get obsessed over France, start an Instagram and think they’re professional photographers.

“Who did that to you?” She asked me, and runs her fingers gently across me like a wound. I can’t stand the caress of her eyes.

I am uneventful and they write songs about women that look like her; golden haired with eyes expecting miracles.

Being Domesticated Is The Slowest Kind Of Suicide

Pathmark aisle misconduct, condescending at the magazines lining checkout. Pointing at other customers that look strange, or take twenty minutes to get their debit card out at the counter. It’s a woman with a purse the size of my impatience, she rummages through her bag and takes out an entire liter of seltzer water while I fight the urge to scream What-The-Literal-Fuck.

Behind her is an old couple standing desolate in marriage, still and confident in a silence only too much time together affords. One more person back is a boy with raven hair down to his flannel shirt he definitely got at Hot Topic – black nails, guy-liner, and a septum ring. The kind of kid you could tell does molly or LSD and definitely had a falling out with Fall Out Boy.

“You’re so judgmental, stop,” She says, and I make a face. “…maybe he likes Panic! At The Disco.”

I’ve been domesticated and it’s the slowest kind of suicide. My love used to be in a lonely street and empty parking lot, counting the grey tiles of the sidewalk and dingy lights of apartment windows. Empty sirens of the fire department whining down Broadway. I was mad and roaming, rabid and a little moody; roving Amsterdam for a fix, thigh, or feeling. Hardly a name, I dove into every speakeasy I could find in Manhattan. What I was looking for, I couldn’t say, but every night I thought I found it. In a strangers laugh when I said ‘you remind me of Tom Selleck,’ or the way a woman looked at me with disgust or elevator eyes. I tried to make love and friends quite endlessly, but then daylight would break and that victory, touch, or feeling would melt away from me like a dream.

“Gross, what was that?” She asks.

“What was what?” I said, hiding behind a grin.

“That thing your face did.”

My smile was a kind of sob nobody heard or could understand, a nightmare I share with May over dumplings and teriyaki sauce, or that bar with little pink umbrellas she likes to twirl and put in her hair. Johnny Utah’s, I think. Or was it Connolly’s?…Just some other pointless place to meet like a round table and discuss the immaterial but crucial happy accidents of our lives. I could give a list of what you should expect of her as a coworker, and if someone asks why I look so angry May could answer in numeric or alphabetical. It’s strange, how in the inconsequential we’ve found the pattern of each other. Not by some deep or alarming gesture, but with space, patience, an open heart.

“You mean smile?”

“Yeah, don’t do that again.”

“I’ll have you know my mom thinks I”m very handsome.”

I look back at my Bukowski, my era of erroneous, and I think I simply broke down in unrealistic expectations and the company for it. I mistakenly thought the onus of happiness was a burden, something to be waged and fought for. So I roamed for romance, thirsted for touch, lusted after the lack-luster and fleeting fulfillment of friends and flesh because I had a deep and awful yearning I’d yet to give to another person. And I was worried this rare and strange fruit I did not know how to grow might go unused and unfulfilled, left rotting in the dark cellars of my heart. Anxious and a little desperate- I gave it to any pretty face or fiend willing to take it. I was afraid, and over loneliness, I preferred to go bankrupt on a feeling.

“Never said it was ugly.” She replied.

“Then what is it?” I asked, and she thought for a moment.

“You’re always grumpy, like you’re constipated or that! Laughing, yes. You’re either mad or laughing. So when you smile its like this weird in between that’s not natural.”

But life is not a victory march, and much less a destination. Happiness is not a place or moment, but a pursuit. So when May tilts her face and I ask her what she’s thinking, with her smile wide as Sisyphus coming down to his boulder, I’m reminded that desire to throw myself against a wall is selfish and destructive. I remember that since September I’ve been living for more than myself.

“I know it sounds funny, but your laughter, it’s the most honest part about you. Like it comes from somewhere so deep inside of you that…I don’t know. I just like it better than whatever the hell that other thing was.”

“Some of the doctors said I was the best looking baby they ever delivered.” I replied, because the line is moving, and we are in Pathmark no matter if we are somewhere else.

“Can you back up a little? I don’t want anyone to know I’m with you.”