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Posts Tagged ‘suitably vague’

|| September 5, 2015 || 11:42 pm || Comments (2) ||

He watched her go down the halls, untethered and unawares. He watched her stand easy in her own skin, laughing with people, ducking her head and covering her mouth, mirth leaking past her fingers.

Everything about her called to him, and nothing about her knew it.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

She always appeared to be present in the moment, alive in a way that none of her peers had yet learned. There was a constant part of her, though, that was out there, called across the ocean, fixed on a heart that she’d fallen into unintentionally.

Because she was focused on the hum of it, on keeping that signal, she missed other more subtle intonations.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

He didn’t know what it would be like to be with her; he had not the first clue, but he wanted to know.

He wanted to know.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

She lit up when she saw him, warm with affection. She liked his unassuming way, and she saw the spark of quiet fight that danced deep in his eyes.

Others may have missed it, but she caught it.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

He woke up one day. He rolled over, face to the wall, and decided.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

She woke up one day. She was still asleep, adrift over the waves, holding signal.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

He had decided, so he watched. Today was the day. Everything in him was taut with knowing that, so he watched for the when of it.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

She gathered her things: a stack of three thick texts, a sweater she draped across her arms. She clenched her keys, oblivious.

The parking lot was big and quiet. The fall day was perfect, mild, beautiful.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

He saw her go out the side door. For the first time that nervous day, he hesitated.

The instincts he woke up with took over again; they propelled him forward.

“Hi,” he said to her as he caught up. She turned to him and squinted against the sun.

“Heyyy,” she said back.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

“Can I?”


She felt a strange skip in her middle when he stretched his arms out, “Can I take those from you?”

When they got to her car she unlocked it and turned to retrieve the stack from him.

“Wait,” he said.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

He sailed into it. He’d not rehearsed, because he was somehow wise enough to know that, in the moment, no amount of practice would matter.

He told her how he loved her, how he’d always loved her, how his guts fell apart at the sight of her.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

She listened, feet fixed to the pavement, car keys dangling in the door lock.

The look on his face: Far before he finished, the look on his face made her decide to sidestep her promise.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Before he even knew they were coming out of him, he pushed the words toward her, bunched-up but sure: “I would give anything in this world just to touch you one time.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

The hum was overtaken by the racket of a thousand angels shouting. They urged her to dive.

|| April 20, 2012 || 5:37 am || Comments (3) ||

when the blood poured out of me

Her stories read loud and
She spends punctuation like it’s going out of style.
His voice is tinny
(advances in telephonic technology be damned), oh
How in the world is she
Supposed to hear that over her yammering heart?
She has read him,
She has read to him,
She believes every word he says.
He doesn’t know the truth;
He never has,
So how could he possibly be lying?
She bore the brunt of his profound
–and innocent–
Still, though….
Still she wants to level with him,
She wants to explain
(all the beseeching long ago done).
Her inability to dismiss key factors
–hey, ignorance notwithstanding, and
dignity still of some small, grave importance–
Causes them to fall from her swollen, untired mouth,
These words, this towline between them:
“You weren’t there when the blood poured out of me and I became someone else.
“You weren’t there at all.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

No, I’m not asking much of you / Just sing, little darling, sing with me / So much I know, that things just don’t grow / If you don’t bless them with your patience

|| January 6, 2012 || 2:22 am || Comments (10) ||

“You aren’t so strong, you know.”

My head dipped; I was grinning and I didn’t want him to see. Sometimes my amusement was just for me and to explain it was worse than trying to justify it and God knew I hadn’t needed justification for a fucking thing since about the age of three.

I crossed my ankles primly; I waited for the grin to dissipate because I didn’t want him to hear it in my voice when I told him what I needed to tell him. He was a white boy –technically a muddy blend of Irish-Italian, like me– but the local Kings had taken to him when he was small, at a time when hearing himself referred to as cholito swelled his bony chest with pride. His coloring and build let him pass as Rican, but his swagger was all Guappo and of course, I loved it….until it was aimed at me.

“You don’t get to tell me who I am, Tony. Not ever.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

The first time he saw me I had bows on the backs of my socks. It was at my cousin Nita’s birthday party and he told my cousin Jonno that I would love him one day. I was visiting Chicago, being made over by the extended family because I was full of yes sirs and no ma’ams and drawl-tinged smarts. I was leggy and blonde with peach-bronze skin, completely unaware of the males that would have eagerly dipped into me if I had only given them the merest indication of want.

There was a wall of fully street Italian cousins between me and any summer romances, with me suspecting as much; it was the same with my towheaded Delta cousins, so I knew the routine. Some of the Chicago boys’ friends had started sniffing around me that visit and been promised beatings if so much as an “I think you’re pretty” tumbled off their tongues. Anthony had not been warned because he was accepted as family, and as such was an acknowledged part of the Wall of Cockblock. Jonno had laughed when Tony predicted I’d love him.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

The first time he slid into me some five years later, he whispered into my ear his early want of me, his dreams over the years where I would sit in a dim room unmoving and say just one word –his name– while my eyes, big in their sockets, stayed fixed on his.

Frustrated, he knew I’d be back.

“Anthony,” I said in return, and my whole body exhaled into him, grasping, trying to push us further into one another, “yours.” It was all I had and all Tony needed. He put his hands flat on my ribcage and rocked the cries out of me, murmuring the whole time, the murmurs words of devotion because we were young and that’s all we knew. When you’re young you have not learned the power of filth yet so desire alone is potent and overcoming enough.

He wasn’t my first, but his was the first lover’s shirt I’d slipped across my back and stirred awake wearing, alone in the bed and drunk on the chafing of my vulva and the bitten spots on the inside of my lip. I delighted the first time I found the bruises that the dig of his hipbones had left on the meat of my inner thighs. I wanted his signature all over me in any fashion I could garner it. That he would never be so reckless as to mark me intentionally made those painful purple blooms prized possessions.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

“I’m staying.”


“I’m staying. Nita is joining the Corps and I can have her room; I just have to convince my Mother that it’s a good idea. That shouldn’t be so hard; my aunt and uncle love having me here and they’ll help.”

“No fucking way.”

“Yes!” Now I smiled.

“No,” he winced, “no, what I mean is that there is no fucking way you stay here when you can go back down South and be safe.”


“Jett. If you stay here then it will eventually get around that you’re my girl. If it gets around that you’re my girl then there are a lot of things that can and will happen, fuck! You have to go home. I’ll come see you.”

That would never happen. Everything in me told me it would never happen. You didn’t run with the people that Tony ran with and just pop in and out of town on a whim. You held down your x amount of square blocks and only ran across town or across country at the express direction of key individuals.

“Leave them, Tony. Leave  them so you can be with me.”

“I will. It takes time, but I will, I swear.”

He was dead before my Christmas break that year. I still have the taste of him on my tongue if I think about him at long enough a stretch, all these years and all these loves later.

It comes on so fast, and I am beaten before the gun even goes off; there is no readied startle, no uncoiling, no explosive start.

I am having coffee. Coffee is not my focus, not ever. It is always an aside to whatever else I’m doing, gentle punctuation on a task, a sitting with someone, a get-up-and-let’s-go. Sometimes I drink it not because I want it, but because it makes me feel secure and capable and adult. Professionals drink coffee, don’t they? People who know what the fuck they are doing drink coffee.

I am having coffee and the sun is streaming in the windows. I was so proud to have these windows when they were first given to me, to have the ample natural light and the gaze of nature on my bent head as I sanded and hammered and painted and set my mouth just so as I was coaxing something into existence from a pile of throwaway things. I have a broad expanse of white workspace secured to the wall below the windows and I can look up as I bite my lip, as I focus and hum something old and familiar that pulls at me deeply, to see the tops of the trees I am floating amongst. I can survey the kingdom all the way to the street. It is a terrific view. I’m still proud of these windows.

I am having coffee and the sun is streaming in the windows and my work table is piled over with things crying out to be other things. Perched on the edge of my chair, I’m securing one something to another something, pausing to look with a stranger’s eyes, pushing, adjusting, clamping the things together because they’ll live this way from now on. (Although. Sometimes it occurs to me, you know? It occurs to me that one day this thing might be just another throwaway thing and then maybe the things I put together will fly apart and parts will be discarded while other parts give rise to something else.) I tilt my head, set the new thing down. It’s a process and I can only do so many things at once: There are constraints to alchemy. I begin something else and my chest explodes.

I am having coffee. The sun is streaming in the windows. The work table is ample with materials. They want to be other things, things other than what they are. My chest explodes. Who the fuck am I and how is it that I have a right to be here? It would be better without me, it would be easier to be gone, I am blindsided with worthlessness and anxiousness and why did this start, when did this start, I used to have the answers, oh no.

Oh no, oh no.

What then, when your whole life is scripted as apology? I’m sorry I’m here. I’m sorry I did it wrong. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I’m tired of misunderstanding. How is it that I am so often misunderstood when I put everything I have into being absolutely plainspoken? How do I stop being hostage to the hearts of others? My own heart is far afield. It’s rebellious as fuck and will not come to me when I call it back. My chest has exploded and my heart is running away from me and I curse the day that I ever thought that to let it be seen was a wise thing.

It comes on so fast. I am crumpled at the gate. It opens. It opens and I am never ready.

Six days ago you wrote,

“Was it something I said?”

Six minutes ago I wrote,

“No, it’s because you have an iPhone, you douche.

“Okay, unkidding: Send me your [most recent] number. I’ll dial it. I can tell you about the time my brain cracked and the time that I wondered if it would just go on and split the rest of the way through (the fissure was dangerously close to making itself a jagged, glittering break that calls raw marble to mind) and leave me in its wake. Sometimes I self-loathingly blame this state affairs on myself and my complete finesse in/natural gifting toward matters of addiction when I was but a wee sprite. Other times I’m like,
‘SonofaBITCH, I been telling people that I’m crazy all these years and come to find out, it looks SO much different than my limited capacity for imagination.’

“Yet. I’m mostly word-stuck when it comes to describing it. And it makes me angry, because there was a definite lack of planning on my part. I mean, shit, it just doesn’t occur to one to have a contingency plan for that time when s/he takes a little foray into the cray-cray. Thing is, well, in the last few days I realize that it was merely lapping at my toes, washing into my instep a little. And thinking on that, I am just in horrified awe: ‘Imagine that you were swept into its undertow. Just dwell on that little bit of possibility for two shakes.’ Ohhh, all those people whose insides are begging for just ten exhausted minutes on the shore, and here I still have my legs under me.

“As always, I am far luckier than I have a right to be.

“About one week(ish) prior to said break: ‘This is how this week feels.’

“This week I had one perfect day. That’s a start.

“I miss you in that strange way we have of doing so, you ‘n me. I want to be sorry for my silences, but that wouldn’t make sense, because the silences are a definite part of who I need to be and I’m not so sure that I want to apologize for myself any damn more. Or maybe I’m just not old enough –not quite yet!– to be sorry for losing time. I probably never will be. I still hold to the opinion I had mostly formed up by the time I was about five or so: Regrets are really fucking stupid.”

Six seconds ago I realized that I should have appended all of that with this:

“That’s part of the reason I have three, four tops: They’re easy to keep track of and at least they’re usually polite enough to take turns riding on my shoulders.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I don’t wanna be laid down / No I don’t wanna die knowing / That I spent so much time when I was young / Just trying to be the winner

So I wanna make it clear now / I wanna make it known / That I don’t care about any of that shit no more

// The Belle Brigade, ‘Losers’

|| September 27, 2010 || 8:55 pm || Comments (10) ||

I was maybe eight, which would have made Fred six. We sat on the high bar stools that tucked under the counter on the pass-through dividing the kitchen and the dining room.  We were in the middle of autumn, one that was apparently tired because it had broken suddenly the week prior and dipped us into temperatures that hinted sharply at winter. In the deep shadows of dawn we had pulled our winter corduroys out of the back of the closets, excitedly exchanged cowboy boots (Fred’s) and Chucks (mine) for the tall zipper boots that were standards in our winter wardrobes. It had taken a week of begging, but Mother let us have them, finally.

Do you remember what Finally felt like when you were a kid? Like this:
Oh my God, finally.
It was inevitable, but finally!
Finally, finally it happened!
Finally, woo-wooooo, finallyfinally!
Finally was always linked to anticipation when you were small. Now that you and I are big, finally is nearly always linked to something  more cynical altogether.

Grits. We ate grits and toast and link sausages that morning (I have always liked mine buttered and salted and just this side of thin;  Fred prefers hers like wet cement, a dainty teaspoon of sugar sprinkled across them after the butter is stirred in). Fred had this sweet face, this round cherubic thing slathered with goodwill and innocence and wind-bitten apple cheeks. Always smiling, always teasing a laugh from you, always never sad, always the earnest and good one.  That face had amazing green eyes that I coveted; in our family blues are a dime a dozen.

As she ate, dipping her little head forward, her heavy-long hair curtained. Its silky whiteness was held at bay by her shoulders; the barrettes that were wrestled into that hair’s thickness daily were never quite a match for it.

We ate mostly in silence, because neither of us have been especially inclined toward being morning people and we both require introspection and a slow emergence to consciousness to begin the day.  As the bowls were cleared of grits and our heads were cleared of fog, we began to come alive. Eventually, when plates were rinsed and we had spun around atop the barstools infinity times, we faced one another, talking and laughing. The sun was coming up over the pond that was framed in the bay window behind my sister, setting the silhouette of her small body on fire, making her white-blond tresses this neon thing.

And then, because we were kids and we were tomboyish and we were bored as fuck waiting for our mother’s hot rollers to bring her hairset to fruition, we began whacking one another with the heels of our yet-to-be-donned new boots. No shoe-wearing in the house, see? Boots in hands. Boots swung  like hammers  at another one’s person.  Torso,  off limits. No face! That one was a given. Legs it is! We come from sturdy stock, strong legs that can bear a goodly blow! Empty boots, psh, cakewalk.

Thwack. giggle
Thwaaaack. good one!
…and so on.

When I dealt the blow that elicited the peace-rending shriek, I was jerked abruptly from deep and unselfconscious mirth. I’d never heard a scream like that in my life, and Oh My God, I am responsible for that noise she made, for the rolling across the dining room rug, for the tomato-red face rendered goblinesque with pain, for the racking screamsobbing that Fred –epitome of all that is tough and emotion-stuffing in girldom–  exhibited as she clutched her knee in agony.

My mother came flying from across the house, head part-rollered, wearing only her stockings and a blue brassiere. Whenever I saw her half-exposed like this, she looked miles taller than six feet to me, Boadicea come to fuck up the day of any fool with designs on breaching the peace and sanctity of her realm. When she was able to cut through the flailing and the scary hysterics (one of those moments that took –tops– twelve seconds but felt like twelve hours), she raised up my sister’s pant leg to get a look at the damage.

I was fixed to my stool, feeling swimmy-headed, overlarge sockets about to release my eyes to roll out and about on their merry way. Had I broken her kneecap? I had hardly tapped her on that swing, but how could that possibly be believable in light of what was transpiring, this great agony being expressed?

The hem of her cords’ leg cleared her knee and a fat scorpion promptly fell to the rug. Fred began shrieking at a higher pitch then. Mother grabbed up one of my stray boots, gave it one pop, then squinted at it closely before she launched herself toward the telephone.

The scorpion had sought the refuge of the house for warmth, nestling happily down into a never-disturbed dark fold of pant just around the knee area. When I hit my sister next to its resting spot, it startled and struck, the first of an agonizing series of strikes. The rest occurred when the scorpion found itself both panicked and trapped by my sister’s fluttering, grasping hands.

Harmless fun had turned into horror when I’d startled the unseen, predatory thing that my sister carried blithely next to her skin.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Normally I have a pretty thick skin, but I have my share of scorpions that get startled and dig in, striking over and over. It’s because of this that I try to be mindful of the fact that others do, as well. I value being forthright and I value being kind and I’m of the pretty staunch belief that the two don’t have to be exclusive of one another.

Lately my scorpions have been activated sort of en masse, both haphazardly and maliciously. I am inadvertently clutching them to me and, agitated, they are dealing me strike after strike. I’m writhing as quietly as I possibly can and I don’t have a whole lot to give right now in the way of an empathetic gesture to those who need it. The very healthy ‘I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks’ attitude I usually carry has recently morphed itself into just plain ole ‘I don’t give a DAMN’,  which everybody knows is code for ‘Fuck you, World’.

And that’s so very frustrating, because I’ve worked crazy-hard these last several years to drop my dukes and just be, to spread my arms in the easy stance of someone who is ready to welcome, to embrace.

And yeah, to be embraced in return.

|| July 26, 2010 || 12:31 am || Comments (0) ||

Two reasons why I don’t trust you are as follows: You have a slight underbite (not a solid, really-committed one, which is decidedly un-sneaky, unlike the merely slight underbite) and there is something wrong with your eyes. They are the color of a mostly-dead person’s, I think.

Oh whatever. Isn’t it enough that I just don’t trust you? Why do we have to do all this tedious explaining? We don’t.

Well, I don’t. I imagine you have a lot of explaining to do.

Here is where I open another window and write a poem titled ‘Save It For Saint Peter, Because I Don’t Really Want To Hear That Shit’.