#12 (475 words)

•January 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

Some Saturdays, Mother took us on drives to the north end to see big houses with winding driveways and yards of green green grass.  I don’t know if she was trying to torture or motivate herself.  Perhaps to her, torture was motivation. 

She’d drive with the windows down, the radio off and point.  “Look at that one,” she’d say.  “I wonder if they appreciate what they’ve got way we would.  I bet they don’t even clean it themselves.  How’d they make so much money?”

There were always those questions.  “Do you think they have a maid?  I bet they have parties all the time.  How much is their electric bill?  Who does their yard?  Would they speak to someone like me?”  And we would stop  mid-squirm in the backseat.  We thought she was asking us and we’d start thinking real hard, but we didn’t know the answers.

I liked looking into the windows.  I liked to see other people’s walls.  They looked crisp and white like snow.  I imagined the interior of those homes to be silent, cool, odorless.  Clean clean.  The visible tops of couches and chairs appeared rich from our rusting little Nissan.  Deep.  And in my mind I could see myself sinking into them, eating an entire package of Oreos, which we could never afford.  But if we lived here, we’d have a pantry full of Oreos and we could drink all the milk we wanted.  There’d be a bowl full of the oranges I craved.

Our couch at home was lumpy, scratchy plaid.

And somehow, if we lived in one of these houses, my hair would be long and straight, I’d have lots of friends, my sisters would be angels, Daddy would be alive again and Mother would stop smoking and drinking coffee with amaretto all night.

Yet, these houses seemed so empty.  They looked filled with whispers, tip-toeing.  Lifeless.

Other Saturdays, Mother with her eyes soft and wet, would take us to the local drugstore to get thirty cent cones.  “I’m sorry girls,” she’d say.  We didn’t know why she apologized.  We were happy.  We had ice cream in our hands. 

We’d follow her, dripping and sticky, to the pet shop next door and look at the puppies in the window, rolling around in wood shavings while licking our cones and fingers.  By then I’d learn not to ask for a puppy.  We couldn’t afford one no matter how cute or slick a puppy was or how we promised to take care of it.  But my sisters, they’d start whining.

Mother, upset, would complain about how messy we were getting with our ice cream cones.

“Get in the car and stop all that whining,” she’d say.  “So ungrateful.”

I’d feel guilty.  I didn’t know how to be grateful for our ugly couch or not being able to get a puppy.

north end (Copyright 2009)
01.17.09

#11 (243 words)

•January 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

That’s me: the crooked hairline, the tender and slight swell of a new, second chin, the scars.  Or it looks like me.  There’s my red sweater I seem to have on in every picture.  Why is my smile so hard, so thin?  I hate being photographed.  I hate looking at myself glossy and flat. 

Have you ever heard that in some cultures it’s believed that pictures steal the soul?  I have a slightly different take on this belief; that when a camera is aimed in my direction I feel so awkward and ugly, that my soul is pushed out of the shot.  There’s no room for it.

I see my eyes.  It was cold that day and I was sad because there’d been no sun for a few days.  And I was jealous- stuffed between brothers and sisters and aunts, uncles, our grandparents and parents- of the joy of those others at perserving a memory which wasn’t really perserved.  Because I haven’t seen most of them for four years.  Because I don’t recall why we were all together then, or what was said. 

I keep them all in a box covered with a vintage purse design.  Mom on top of Scruffy.  An old crumpled picture of Dad in his uniform, yellowing at the edges.  My brother’s first car.  My first day of kindergarten.

All meaningless but here, taking up space, taunting me to look.  To remember.

To remember how awful I look through life.

foe-to
01.12.09

#10 (444 words)

•November 24, 2008 • 1 Comment

I watch a commercial filled with brown silk and an olive skinned brown eyed girl in its midst, indulging in a square of chocolate.  It’s supposed to be gourmet.  Probably expensive.  Luxurious, sinful, selfish. 

I’ve never seen a man in one of these lush, airbrushed, beatific ads.  I guess men don’t eat chocolate unless it’s hidden between two meat patties or a candy bar.

But I eat chocolate like that.  Ever since Shay.

We were both seventeen.  She was shaped like a boy.  She’d had big boy wrists and played guitar sitting on the hood of my car in her cut-offs and sandals.  Meandering stuff, a string then another, but it sounded honest.  I loved her. 

I bought her candy and flowers.  Well, my Ma bought the good candy- some deluxe sort of chocolate squares- and told me better than roses, poppies.  White poppies.  And when I bought them, I thought they were perfect for Shay.

She loved them, the poppies.  And when she offered me a piece of the chocolate, I shoved the whole deal in my mouth.  She laughed.

“You are supposed to take a little bite and let it melt on your tongue.  It’s supposed to be an experience.”

Aw, c’mon Shay.  Guys don’t suck candy.

“I know.  You men have to show you’re tough by chewing.  Not everything’s to be treated like a steak, my friend.”

And that laugh.  That laugh that was calm and not at anyone but just was.

“I won’t tell any of our friends I’ve taught you to eat chocolate like a civilized gentleman.  In front of them, you can cram it all in your mouth.”

She broke a little piece off and put it on my tongue, then put a piece on hers and we let it melt on our tongues, dark flavor spread over my tongue.  And warmth, a warmth that began in my mouth and moved slowly all over my face.

“See?” Shay said.  “An experience.  Better than just a mouth full of goo right?”  Then I remember the look on her face.  “And here’s the best part…”

And she kissed me.  A chocolate kiss.  A slow dissolving, warm chocolate kiss.  Real gourmet stuff.  No kiss has come close, not even Helen’s- though she’s not too shabby, I’ve got to say.  She’s kept me in a good supply of kisses for going on thrity years now. 

But there’s never been another like Shay.

Anyway.  Every time I see one of these commercials, I think of Shay.  Every damn time, but I gave up chocolate the day she died.  But I don’t need it anymore.

It’s still with me, still on my tongue.

Melting.

chocolate in the masculine
(Copyright 2008)
11.23.08

#9 (488 words)

•May 5, 2008 • 4 Comments

March 15, 2000
One sky
One sky like one word
Gives
I want your eyes

How I long to share your tongue
Sweet, sweet
Guide me Guardian Jack
Live inside of me
-K.B.
 

just breathe. slow, easy. your nose, not your mouth. slow, slow. in… out…
in…
out…

One eye is swollen shut. The other stares out. She can’t discern anything with one working eye. Each breath brings pain and she can feel the nakedness of her body. Something thick and sick is stuffed into her mouth. Her hand tries to go to this object (the object is foreign) and finds itself bound with the other behind her. Tears begin to slide out of her good eye and collect in a pool on the bridge of her nose. She strains that eye to see more but it is dark. Dark all around.

She thrashes, growls then drifts.
My thumb is up. I’ve been walking for miles and now it’s raining. My thumb is up. I just need a ride into the next town. I‘ll get a room. Clean up, write, sleep.
There is a shape darker than everything else, a monster. It speaks like a man. “You awake? I‘ve been waitin for ya.”
She shuts her eye. “Uh-uh-uh-” the shape says. “Too late, sugar.” Her bladder drains warm and stinging over her thighs. The shape grows, and she can make out a moustache, thin like scribbles over a hole. She is overwhelmed by the odor of sweetrot. She knows what’s coming in her pussy. It’s burning there. Her eye tightens. It burns.

Oh thank, God. He looks okay. Hicky but harmless.

“Where you headin?”

“To Creekville. Thank you so much.”

“Dint anybody ever tell ya hitchhiking is dangerous, sugar.”

“Well, I’m doing this whole ‘On The Road’ type of thing.” He’s probably never even heard of Kerouac. “You know- traveling, wandering, and writing down poems and stories about my experiences.”

“Sounds kinda like a waste.”

Pssh. “Well, maybe to some. Not me. I’ve met lots of interesting people.”

“Reckon I’ll be the most interesting.”

And I know…

She feels the heat near her skin- the back of her thigh. She grunts, grunts, struggles. The monster bites down. The monster pushes the heat into her flesh. She screams into the gag, her body goes rigid.

“Ima letcha go. You gonna get a good little pome outta this, sugar. But if ya don’t quit yer hollerin I’ll break all those fingers uh yours.”

Air. Air. Dampness. The stench of burnt flesh, urine, shit. Skin pulling taut around burns. Shivering. Jumping. Looking all around.

Something always behind. 
 
Someone help me.

 

April 27 2000
Because I loved your words and followed
Abraham is dead
So is his god
And so are you
Instead the devil lives
He drives a dusty red pickup
Smokes women like “sugar”
And now I’m dead too
-K. B.

 

#8 (496 words)

•April 29, 2008 • 2 Comments

Marie remembers when she first saw her. Her hair, dark gray marbled with veins of white. Marie wanted to feel it in her hand, its frizz tangled in her fingers. She imagined it smelled of alfalfa- fresh, mineral, healthy. And Marie loved it best when she wore it loose, a symbol of freedom, abandon, openness. So many women her age had that butcher job- short, practical, died some unnatural reddish color- but easy to manage.

“What?” Polly’s hand goes to her hair, tries to smooth it down, tuck it behind her ears.

“Don’t.” Marie says, taking the other woman‘s hand into her own. Marie is not afraid of this. She has thought about it since the first time she saw her. Marie has thought about it her entire life- through her marriage to Tiny who was a good man. While raising Moses and Shiloh. Tiny’s dead and the children are grown and busy. It’s sad that she had to be gray before loving and being loved the way she was meant to.

Marie can walk on her own. Her dark skin is still quite supple at age sixty-seven- as is her shape. Polly’s teeth are her own, big clean incisors, minute serrations, beautiful. They had to be gray, but happy to be able to, if only for a while, if only with this brief touch, with this other woman, be the most real she‘s ever been in her life.

She stares at that head of hair. Polly feels those dark eyes combing through it slowly, her face weathered not by hard things but fullness, and smiles completely. “Let’s walk.”

They hold hands strolling the garden and talk about the orange sunsets of their youths, their mothers, men, their children. At night, in Polly’s apartment, they sip coffee and laugh and argue because they are strong. Later, they kiss each other. This is their first time. Their first time that is meant and honest. Of them. They touch skin and look at each other and Marie rubs Polly‘s hair across her breasts.

When Delia notices them walking the dewy garden one morning, notices Marie’s fingers twirling and twisting a lock of Polly’s hideous scraggly hair, dislikes the tilt of their heads toward each other, she complains to the Resident Manager, Frank. “It’s not natural, Frank. It’s disgusting. They‘re swooning like dykes.”

Frank understands Delia’s discomfort and his own, but corrects Delia saying, “The correct term is lesbian, Miss Delia. Please don’t use other terms,” and invites the women to his office for a chat. He explains that he’s been getting complaints about them. “I know you two are close friends but the affection is a little disturbing. People are getting the wrong idea.”

They know it’s strange to others. Polly’s son disowned her when she came out and Marie has never told her children. “Once my daughter told me that as far as she was concerned, I had no vagina.”

She and Polly had howled at that.

dust  (Copyright 2008 beezies)
04.28.07

 

 

#7 (335words)

•April 17, 2008 • 3 Comments
I find her again, lying in bed.
Johnnie- one hand numb beneath her pillow, the fingers of the other rest against her mouth. I see the smooth shine of her shoulder, the aching bend of her hip, the crush of thighs against her belly.
The stare of her eyes infinite.

I note the bedclothes amassed about her ankles, hiding her feet.
It is meaningful.
She is captivated by anguish.

you ain’t goin nowhere

The room is dusty- the bookshelf and the books in it; layered on the lampshade and swirling in the air with that thick sweet odor coming off her body, remnants of her thoughts.
All dust and sick.
And it is dim.
I’ve drawn the curtains thinking sun may move her, reanimate her eyes, bring her back to me, but no- she remained inert.
She hasn’t moved for days and she is beginning to soften.
I finally had to close the curtains again.
Her faded skin and empty eyes become more horrific in the bright light.
The present dimness makes her languishing glamorous, even lovely and romantic.

I wonder what she sees now- if she sees me standing over her.
Does she know what I’m thinking?
I am tempted by the dark eyes, mutilation of her mouth with my thick ropy fingers, her body silent and bent like a fetus to go to her.
Embrace her or berate her, to uncurl her person.

It’s not so much that I’d like to fix her but more that I want to join her, spoon her, bend my thighs up behind hers and press my own aching stomach against her back, press my face into her hair and sleep.
I think I could do that and wake up in another time to everything fixed and in its place- even if a little dusty.
My own hair long but my body unaged, my mind wizened by years of dreams.

I do this. I do this and more.
Johnnie’s so tight, so cool.
I love her to death.

 

die my anguish  (Copyright 2008 beezies)
04.15.08

Word count: 335

#6 (500 words)

•March 28, 2008 • 7 Comments

He grasped her right hand, caressed her knuckles with his thumb. The hand was tight-skinned, white-skinned, unadorned. Her defined joints were all she needed for decoration. He thought her fragile as her regarded the strange convergence of blue green veins at the nape of her hand. This excited him. A thin, white gold chain draped her wrist, shining over the bone. He thought- gaunt, haunt, taunt. He liked thin women.

His eyes traveled up her arm to her shoulder, to her clavicle. He imagined tracing that piece of her structure with an index finger, then his lips, then his tongue. He imagined mashing her into a primitive meal made up of marrow and blood.

He had asked her, on their first date, how she kept so fit.

I’ve always been thin. I have a fast metabolism but I still work out every day. Also, I am a vegan.

She wasn’t sickly looking. She didn’t look anorexic. And he did not find that type of bony woman attractive. He merely sought the hint of bones- prominent cheek bones, the feel of a hip bone below the inclining slope of abdomen, knobby knees…

She glowed from within. She possessed the slightest curves, but did not appear soft. Instead she was lean, her body efficient, and that is what he desired in women- efficiency. Efficiency and control. Coolness. He was drawn to the idea of bones; this brought him closer to her inner self, even if it was mere physiology, structure, rather than heart or spirit. Still it was below the surface and for this he felt like a deep man, a man seeking more in a woman than his peers.

Something about thin women brought to mind death. And he wanted to fuck death, tonight maybe in the ass. She seemed open. The only thing about her that bothered him was her smile. It ruined the stoic, reserved physicality of her face, which was diamond shaped, pale and round-eyed. Her smile was a bit on the horsy side, on the verge of silly. Death doesn’t smile, despite society’s caricature of the specter in black carrying a sickle. Death does not revel in itself. It is a calm state, it is tasteful. It just is. It just does. And he wanted to push himself inside, be calm.

His mother came to mind at this thought. She is dead. Alive, she was the most efficient woman he has ever encountered. Her hugs, too rare and almost too sharp, are what he searched for in each thin armed lover. She never wasted a word or kindness. When he was younger, he tried to overlook softness in women whose personalities were great, whose faces were almost lovely, except for a fullness of cheek or plump lips. But they were too warm and overwhelming.

Are you ready, he asked.

Yes, she said. Her blue-lidded eyes stirred his impatience. He took her home and mashed her pelvis.

Respectfully, dryly, he kissed her bones.

skinnies (Copyright 2008 beezies)
03.27.08