Thursday, November 29, 2007

this universal bulb

apple dumpling gangs up on me
I am choking on the sticky sick sad of grandma's peach cobbler
I am turning on the mat of trailer park shag
I am tossing out reminders of microwaved meatloaf

I am missing the movie
the smiling monkey and the frowning man sing and dance without me

inside cinder blocked

outside this arena of corrugated metal someone is shouting my story
I will hear it when I die

a song that teaches feet to dance

it/I/my story will increase the wattage of this universal bulb
darkness cannot hide from my light
I know because I have tried

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

unfinished fiction, part 2

He woke up. The ceiling had a gentle bubble forming next to a naked bulb. It looked like a milky tit hoping for a mouth. How had he never noticed the needs of the ceiling above his head? A smell tiptoed its way to his nose, welcoming the new day with the essence of old sweat, bad dreams and lonely handshakes with the stranger between his legs. To start by washing the sheets.

He rose from his ten-year nap, stumbling on his tangled beard, and began to strip the bed. The upper left corner of the fitted sheet resisted, and let out a tiny whimper as he tore a small hole in it. Perhaps he would buy new sheets today? The old ones hadn't started out yellow. He took the wrinkled old sheets, like a pile of dead skin stripped from the tired body of his bed and threw them in the garbage on his way to the bathroom. Turning on the light he noticed that of the three bulbs in the fixture only one had not given up on shining, though it looked to be contemplating the point.

He walked to the kitchen, noticing for the first time the extent of its neglect. A crusted microwave and a rusting tea kettle watched him open and close empty cupboards. He found scissors he didn't remember placing in a drawer where one would look for scissors. The drawer where one would also go looking for double A batteries and old rubber bands removed from newspapers never read. He found bulbs he didn't remember buying next to a mop that was still in its package. He stood there in the pantry thinking of the boy that had intended to keep his floors clean.

He returned to the bathroom with his scissors and his bulbs and lit the space to reveal a man he had remembered a boy. As he cut, he watched the dead fibers of days neglected fall from his face. He found a razor where one would look for a razor, next to the escaped hairs curling and clinging to the soggy bar of soap. He steadied his shaking hand and scraped at the face he did not yet understand. He was astonished at the strength of his jaw, the confidence of its lines. It was as if his jaw had remembered his integrity while the rest of him forgot. He was suddenly struck with the question, "What colors are my eyes?" Not what color, but what colors? Not green, but aquamarine and gold with tiny flecks of burnt orange and a blue-gray line drawing a circle all around this unique firework that was lighting the sky of this face. His face. A face not disappointing in its beauty.

to be continued...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

unfinished fiction

To start by stopping, that is what he had decided to do. First he would need to stop working for the airline. Then he figured it would probably be best if he stopped spending all his money on $20 drinks and one-sided lap love. After all that, he knew he would need to stop beating off to Internet porn pop-ups as well, maybe even find a girl who wanted him back. And then, finally, he would stop imagining a better life and start living one. Up until this point, he had been under the impression that he was not only incapable of living a better life, but unworthy of one, as if all the happy people had some special skill he lacked. And now, as his sleepy eyes blinked open, all around him he saw signs of things he would need to stop doing. His ragged nubs where fingernails should be, reminded him to stop eating his nails for breakfast. His large and brightly painted ceramic ashtray, intended for an army of smokers, reminded him to stop smoking. The shit taste in his mouth reminded him to stop forgetting to brush his teeth before bed.

He was used to being wrong so it didn't really upset him when he realized that this error on his part had cost him almost a decade of his life. As a child he had been happy, even hopeful, but somewhere along "the way" he had given up completely. Perhaps it had been the job; jobs so often can do this to the hopeful. He had started working for the airline, lured by the promise of travel vouchers. A job that paid not only in steady paychecks, but in new horizons and free adventures. He had imagined very little about the fluorescent lighting or the angry passengers. He certainly hadn't imagined the thinly veiled "promotion" to Lost Baggage Control Specialist, nor had he been able to imagine the utter loss of hope that would come with such a daily dose of hatred and undeserved blame. He had, however, on multiple occasions, imagined meeting some lovely and lonely traveler also waiting on standby. Making conversation as a welcome diversion from the anticipation and anxiety of connections possibly missed, or made. "I like your backpack." He might have said to the big-brown-eyed traveler. "Thanks, it used to be my grandmother's," she might have replied; a strand of hair ignored in the making of a haphazard ponytail sticking to her lips, moving with her mouth as she spoke. The trip and the travelers forever changed by the exchange.

He had imagined all the possibilities to the point that imagining was all he could do anymore. He imagined himself into the corner where the red glow of an EXIT sign did not reach. He had backed himself into the darkness of sleepwalking wide-awake. Wake up, that is what he had decided to do. Every word from an angry traveler became an alarm buzzing in his head. WAKE UP! Every flickering fluorescent bulb, the shifting numbers of an alarm clock. WAKE UP! Every changing traffic light, every smiling stranger, every speeding train, every crying baby, every waking moment of his sleeping life was alarming. WAKE UP! To start by stopping, that is what he decided he had to do...

to be continued...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

rose is a rose is a rose is a rose

roses want to grow
so why do we resist it so
why is a step oft seen with a fall
how do the roses grow so tall

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

a stranger is no stranger than you

There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met.
~William Butler Yeats

I love this photo. I took it in austin waiting under a bridge for a great mass of beady-eyed bats to emerge for their nightly feasting. a hundred or so people were there with me, waiting to observe this nightly ritual. dragonflies the size of small planes dare-deviled around our heads. children chased after them laughing.

I love when strangers gather in close spaces, sharing in the intimacy of a moment. all of these people, stopping on the bridge, bringing with them their separated days to share in this coming of night. I imagine conversations being held, new things being taught and learned, recipes being shared, jokes being told, phone numbers being exchanged. this photo leaves out all the divisions, all the differences. on this bridge, strangers exchange strangeness for connection and they walk away as friends.