Birds / 10.4.16 / 1:14-1:44

“You don’t ask a snake why it slithers, it just does.”

I angled the throw from my hip, like how he taught me, forefinger and thumb wrapped tightly along the short edges. I wound up, then released. Watched it as it skipped along the brackish pond and lost it somewhere about ten feet away.

“Nice toss.”

I ignored her, just as I’d ignored her silly statement. She was filled with riddles and I wasn’t in the solving mood.

I bent over for another one, hoping for a smoother one, maybe a pale pebble of some kind, when I saw the ivory skull of a bird instead. My hand hovered above it, the contrast of my black-brown skin to the tea-stained white fascinating me into silence. It was a big bird, had to be, considering the size of the skull. The beak was long, the upper mandible slightly hooked, nostrils like uncovered tear drops.

“What’chu got there?”

I heard her rising from the banks and I panicked a little, swiping at the skull and shoving it deep into my hoodie pocket before her heavy, ungainly steps could reach me.

She treaded hard for a dead girl.

Her cold reached me just as I dipped again for another stone. This one was sharper than the last and I’d grabbed it too quick, a jagged edge digging deep and hard and fast enough to smear blood along the rest of it.

Reminded me of my first fuck.

She kissed her teeth and I grit my jaw.

“Makes no sense, hiding shit from me,” she said. “Just don’t break it.”

And suddenly I was warm again.

***

I was alone when I walked back through the sliding door, but the television was on full blast. Some daytime talking head was shouting affirmations of self-worth and self-preservation when I pushed the dial in, the overly made-up face collapsing into a horizontal blue pill before completely fading into a sandbag-settling silence.

To spite my mom, I walked through the rest of the house with my muddy sneakers. She wouldn’t buy me new ones, despite the new year and a growth spurt, so I only hoped my sore toes found as much satisfaction in this momentary vengeance as I did. I had no idea where she or her boyfriend was, but I didn’t give a shit either. Moments like this were rare and I had every intention of living in it.

I kicked off my sneakers and left them in the threshold as I pushed open the door to my room and shimmied over to the table that served as my desk, my bed being my chair. I stripped off my muddy jeans and tossed them in a corner and plopped down, bare-ass, on my comforter, carefully removing the skull from its polyester and cotton blend nest.

My hand shook as I laid the bone on the peeling varnish, turning it slightly so the tiny baby-yawn eyeholes could stare at me. I stared back for a solid minute before I felt a shiver hammer its way down my back and I felt compelled to push it away. I didn’t, just got up instead and pulled on a pair of sweatpants. The drawstring had to be pulled a little tighter and I was doing just that when the air shifted, fluttered really, then trickled past my left cheek.

I shut my eyes and listened to the rustling, listened as the plumage stretched to glorious lengths and heights and in that moment I could see it, I could feel that bird gaining life and its desire for freedom.

I shouldn’t have opened my eyes.

I should’ve let the theatre of dreams keep playing, keep going, keep projecting those pleasant beautiful images on the backs of my lids, but jealousy got the best of me. Pure envy made me open them, made me turn around to see the horror that was reality.

I didn’t see much after. The plumage got in the way. So many feathers. So dark and full and opalescent as it caught every ray of sunshine that had dared to enter my tiny room.

It was upon me before I could even gasp in with the awe I felt, with the tinge of regret I’d known was bound to happen at the discovering something so sacred.

The hook of the beak took my right eye first, let me watch as the contemporary dinosaur sat on my chest and devoured the jelly as if a treat it’d been waiting forever for.

Then it lowered itself to me, the tear-drop nostrils snorting thick spurts of air, the yawns of its eyes much larger now, more like an adult or an abyss.

Still empty.

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Obligation / 9.28.16 / 12:13-12:36

The first time we fucked was at the back of the red barn on the Meyer’s property.

His cock had a mean 30-degree angle and no amount of warming up could get a woman ready for such brutality against the splintery wall. When we finished, he kissed me tender, thinking the blood was from my first time. I bit my lip and hoped I wasn’t losing my baby.

I didn’t and we married three months later. I let people assume our big-head boy was born early and surprisingly the rumour held weight. No one doubted those bright blue eyes had been inherited from my doting husband. Plus, ain’t too many of those looking like me snagging a white man.

It may have been my Daddy’s ties that kept me safe. Or my Mama’s ability to hold secrets loose enough to pass them to the next generation.

Me and my brother held that town in the palms of our sweaty, black as fuck hands.

We held it delicate. Until we buried our parents side by side, death claiming them in the form of a mean cough within days of one another. They’d refused the doctor and we weren’t ones to defy them.

They left us with nothing but those secrets.

Somehow they knew we would be okay. Somehow they were pleased with the dexterity with which we held and balanced the white lives of so many dirty motherfuckers.

My brother was the first to snap, squeezing the contents of his left hand a bit too hard and bucking at white boy Jim. Jim had exactly three screws lose and not one fuck to give. My daughter found her uncle strung up against an oak tree, his hands cut off and his tongue stretched.

Hostility grew, but gall didn’t. I still had my white husband on my arm, still had my hands full. My heart was heavy but my lips remained sealed.

Just once, I took a bite. Held the gaze of Mary Mulligan in centre square as I held her secret in front of her and let my teeth sink deep into its center, light bursting all around us. The town froze, watching as they tried to grasp the words floating, swimming, dancing all around Mary Mulligan and her hourglass shape. I chewed as the shadows converged, standing tall, melding until a man stood before her, translucent, but solid enough to let his tears smudge her makeup.

I swallowed and he was gone.

Mary Mulligan didn’t meet my eye after that. None of the town did, which was fine by me.

I still showed my face, still walked with my husband, still had my children play in the square.

No one bothered us. No one ever will.

Because every night, just before bed, I share my burden with my babies, all six of them. And they recite them right back.

We are the glue of this town, whether they want us or not. We are obligated to them to keep their lives pure and they are obligated to us to make sure we do. No relationship is perfect. But this will do.

Kelly Clarkson / 6.9.16 / 7:34-8:04

To say I miss you would be an insult so I won’t say I miss you, though I’ve already said it twice. Since you left me, there’s been a hole.

There’s really no other way to put it.

There’s a hole in the bed we shared for forty-six years. In the house we roamed for the seventeen since we retired. In the Buick that’s still running due to some inexplicable miracle, the same Buick you tried to insist I get rid of.

Who knew the Buick would outlast you? Outlast us?

The goddamn hunk will probably survive me, considering the mass eating away at my brain.

It’s funny, that mass.

It’s taken away my hands and feet. My taste buds and some of my hearing. But it hasn’t taken away thoughts of you.

I still feel you, still smell you in my bed clothes. I swear I hear your footsteps on the staircase in the middle of the night, right around two when you needed that glass of water that would nearly make you pee yourself first thing in the morning.

But that just may be the tumor.

For all the holes in my life now, thanks to you, the biggest one is the pit of anger I find myself falling down every time I think of you.

Two years. For two years, you’ve abandoned me, left me here, rotting.

I’m so angry with you, I shake when my nurse touches me.

You would hate her. Call her a hussy. And nosy.

She tried to report my shaking as seizures but I pulled her in close one day and just said your name. She got it then, though she didn’t share my rage. Instead, she looks at me with pity now.

You make people pity me.

And I want to say that I hate you for it but that wouldn’t be right.

If anything, I feel alive again because of it, but it doesn’t fill the holes.

Only you could do that.

But you’re not here, are you?

I should just let go, right? Let go of my anger, let go of the empty feeling associated with you, let go of you.

But I can’t. I can’t let go of you and of my pseudo anger and hatred towards you because I’ll die. I’ll finally let go and I will die and I don’t fear death. No, it’s not death I fear.

It’s the thought there’s nothing after. It’s the possibility that there will be no you, no us.

So I lay here, day after agonizing day, holding onto memories of you, of us, while my brain fails me, my body rots, and that goddamn Buick laughs at it all.

Each day that hole widens, traces of you slipping through. Forever.

I miss you. Goddamn it, I miss you. And I don’t want to.

Emerge / 5.27.16 / 7:10-7:40

“You’ve come to my home. Why?”

The cool waters lap at my naked feet, their thick tongues converging, then pulling away, the slick remnants sending a shiver up my spine.

“I’ve asked you a question, dear. Answer me.”

The beads of sand wedge themselves into the soles, digging deep until the grit scrapes bone. Nails lift from their beds in greeting of the briny waters, the raw flesh recoiling from the forced meeting. Still, I hold fast.

“To see,” I say, my eyes shut tight.

“To see what exactly?”

She is closer now, her nearness puckering my skin into tiny little bumps as the rampant cold grips me tight. My fingers curl into the meat of my palms and my jaws snap hard against one another.

“You.”

She laughs derisively. And I know why.

The excuse is absurd, considering my current state, but I do little to change it. Except stand.

“This place will kill you,” she says, slowly circling me as if I’m her prey.

In a way, I am.

The lace of her shift drags sand behind. Like faithful servants, they continue their momentum, building and heightening until there is a wall surrounding us both, encapsulating us. The heat of the moon no longer pries at my eyelids and I dare to open them.

“I know,” I say.

It is still painful to be here, still against my very nature, but the ocean can no longer reach me and the moonlight cannot peel away my skin. Tears of blood race down my cheeks and her hungry gaze watches their descent with mild concern.

“Sister mine,” she whispers. “Your love knows no bounds. And I fear it is wasted.”

I smile, the grit of my jaw coming apart, my teeth loosening.

“Never,” I say.

She stops her patrol and stares me directly in the eye. With no moonlight to capture, the opalescence of her irises is dead and dark, much like mine. We resemble each other only in death.

She whimpers as she leans forward, her cold, salty lips ghost over mine and my mouth fills with blood.

“Always,” she says, then falls to her knees before me, the sand reclaiming her body, grain by grain.

Haunted / 5.23.16 / 2:30-3:00

My body betrays me constantly.

I feel things that aren’t there, hear sounds that never existed, taste foods that want to kill me.

It’s more than the feather-light touches that dance across my back or caress my cheek. It’s the tickle of multitudes of legs along the shell of my ear. It’s the sharp poke of a fang stabbing my hip. It’s the pinch to my areola, hardening my nipple, wetting my apex.

It whispers to me when I’m not paying attention. I must always pay attention. If I don’t, the low resonance fucks with my eardrum, the treble cracks the tiny bones, and I have to hold my hands to my ears and my head between my knees for it to stop. No matter where I am.

Otherwise, I’ll bleed.

And the blood is loud enough as it is.

Every beat of my heart is an intimate earthquake. Most times I wish for it to stop. I wish for it to cease its pedantic tuning and let me go.

Or give me control.

It thinks it knows best, my heart. Along with my warring brain, I have no autonomy. I am a slave to this living shell that just keeps going.

Betraying me. Overtaking my lack of will to live and making me stay, keeping me existing.

I don’t see the point of it. Digging deep, I find nothing but gore. Nothing roots me here. Nothing wants me here.

Yet my body pushes on.

It’s been a long time since these sensations, these spirits of sight and sound and taste, haven’t been my own to keep. The source has been memories, thoughts, or wishes.

I fuck and suck and listen to ghosts. Phantoms. The company that insists on reminding me of my loneliness. The loneliness that sees no end.

I don’t blame them, the others. I understand the recoil during my moments. The moments that stretch and repeat enough to be a constant. I want to recoil from myself. I want to pull away from this sack of flesh and bone and transcend into what I hope to fuck is better than this.

But my body. It’s not my own. And it betrays my needs. It betrays my desires for the world to see. To laugh at. To compare.

To never alleviate. Or fulfill.

I live in a house that is a gilded cage with no lock or key.

It is not of my making. I do not own it and neither does anyone else.

I wish to sell to the highest bidder.

But I cannot afford my own misery.

In Full Bloom / 5.23.16 / 12:15-12:35

He’s slight in every sense of the word. Fine-boned, like a delicate bird. Pale and sickly. Shoulders rounded, back slumped. A heavy breath from paper-thin lungs could break him.

I want to cradle him.

I want to wrap my large, dark hands around his tiny torso and squeeze. I want to read the notches of his spine with my heavy fingertips, pluck and play his pronounced ribs with my thumbs. My fat tongue fights to taste his powdery flesh. My ears yearn for the crinkle of his reedy skin.

I need him.

Just as he needs me. He’s my baby, my child, a man born of my desire and aching. He is my manifestation.

He looks to me. For care. For comfort. For protection.

And all I want to do is hurt him.

He knows that look. Understands it. Me. More than I even know myself.

My steps are careful, but I am clumsy. Big feet, stubby toes, long limbs. I am everything he is not.

I am his God.

He is my Goddess.

And we fucking hate each other for it.

Long fingers curl into a ball tight enough to crack air. The strike is solid, satisfying.

The sight of red pleases me. He whimpers. I giggle.

The tear is angry, but not alone. More crowd his blind eyes until they fall together, storming down the misshapen hills and valleys of his face. They gather at the peak of his chin, clinging to one another, impregnating each other until there is nowhere to go but down.

Rain meets concrete and I am empty once again.

I turn away, but his claw-like fingers find a wisp of my shift. Clinging. Pulling.

I step forward, dragging him. One inch. One foot.

I stop to peer over my shoulder, to see if he’s still there. If he’s still devoted to me.

His flesh has betrayed him, streaking gore across the gritty floor, leaving him in strips and chunks.

It is my turn to whimper. To moan. To mourn the loss of such beautiful, delicious meat.

I kneel to him. Take his face in my grotesque hands. Press my plump mouth to his sealed lips. Drag my hot tongue along the bitter muscle that is his.

And I squeeze.

Reverse / 5.4.16 / 10:37-11:05

Wait, wait, no I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to be that honest. Really. I mean, I wanted to be honest, believe me, just not aloud. Make sense?

See, the thing is, I spend most of my time alone and in my head. Speaking trips me up. I forget I’m not on my couch in my apartment, staring at walls or blank screens, wishing, waiting, hoping for something different to fucking happen. I forget I’m in public and there’s these . . . rules.

So, yeah, forget I said anything. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.

Though I can’t lie; the power trip feels good.

To feel that sense of awkward ooze into the stale air. To see your mouth open and close like a dying fish as you try to find the right response. There isn’t one. Stop it. Stop searching for something that isn’t there.

I’ve learned to do it. So can you!

But then again, maybe you don’t want to listen to me. I don’t know how to act in public. I pull wedgies and don’t know the meaning of heels and burp and curse and I walk a little funny. Okay, a lot funny, I’ve got this thing with my back and my legs are uneven . . .

Look at you, pretending to give a shit! Bravo!

The level of disconnect while you attempt to connect is written all over. Right there. Between your dead eyes. It’s kind of sad, actually. This is a chance to talk about something other than the weather and a Kardashian’s ass and all you can actually think is-

This bitch is crazy.

But I want you think about it. Long and hard. After we’ve finished this beer and have gone our separate ways. I want you to think about this crazy bitch and all her ramblings and if somewhere within there is some kind of fucked up sense. It may not be yours; don’t try to possess it, you fuck, this is mine, but . . . just think that maybe I have a point.

Somewhere.

How’s your beer? Tangy? Mm. Fuck you.

You ever been so lonely, you could taste it? I have no idea what the fuck that really means, but, lord Jesus, I think I’m close. I hardly remember what it feels like. To be with someone. To have a friend I could rely on. To fuck someone. To kiss someone. It’s odd, being a grown woman who hasn’t kissed a man in years. Well, being a woman that secretly adores affection and intimacy.

Sh. Tell no one.