It wasn’t that there were stars in your eyes, it was that it was all you could see. Twinkling lights and your own name blinking in and out like a vacancy sign on that old hotel that kept advertising colour TV long after it stopped being a selling point. It was like that with love—realizing everything I thought was special about you was just the basics for most people. Telling the truth and housing hurt for each other like old furniture with not enough room. That’s all I was, in the end. I was your storage facility. Your long-distance U-Haul. I was the place you put everything you had no immediate need for but didn’t want to give up. All those things that you thought you couldn’t part with, until parted, are forgotten. I don’t want to be the dust on your picture frames but that’s better than the dark, better than nothing at all. Better than the whispers of what once was—all your old suitcases packed full of ghosts, lingering like old love letters. Like the versions of ourselves we used to want to be. ‘Til we knew better.
There were things we wanted then that didn’t seem ridiculous.
Coffee without the grinds. Ice water just before it turns cool leaving wet rings that soak into the wood. We didn’t need the bad with the good, the good was enough, it was plenty. Maybe it was naive to think we could section off our emotions, corner our dislikes with barbed wire, “Stay! Good boy.” Until it leaked out and over and through again.
So, OK, we loved but we did it in our own way, reusing the scraps that kept falling to the ground. Ten-second, three-hour, four-year rule. Now we don’t even pretend to like the same things on Facebook. We keep twin tufts of hair instead—the scalp still on—all our secrets in shoe boxes.
Which feels more true.
I take a job copy editing and find comfort in the culling of words, the monitoring of space. It’s easy to love something until your flaws are pointed out to you—the things you let slip by.
I pull out errors in everything I read, feel thwarted, let down when something passes my scrutiny. We don’t all, apparently, make mistakes.
When the job ends, I bury with it my red pen; my compulsion to be right. Re-draft and revision.
I begin to build new dreams outside the wainscoting of words.
Maybe all disappointments are trials in disguise.
We sit at a tall table in a cafe listening to the cacophony of coffee-making beneath the music that plugs our ears, ideas budding above our own mindful detritus.
Throw it out, break it down, rip it all apart. Shed.
Then pull your wooly sweater around your shoulders as the breeze blows in.
It’s either that or close the window.
You finally surface, smooth as salmon, like you always do. Breathing just under the surface and I think for a moment that I could touch you without getting wet. Hover my hand over the skin of water just breaking, those ripples whispers of something more than movement.
In the belly of it, we were always backwards, and maybe now I still am. Turning, turning. No one’s broken rib.
I clean the dead flies off my new window. Reposition the plants. Throw up in the bathroom.
A quick recap for all my admiring fans. cough. I got more traffic on my last post about the publishing apocalypse than on anything else all year! I feel like this means I’m not a crazy person ranting to the wind. Rather, a crazy person ranting to the relative silence of the internet.
To my left is my most recent book review for The Coast, they didn’t see fit to post it online but it was in the print paper. The book of poetry is Sympathy Loophole by Jaime Forsythe, a local writer, and it is actually slap-yourself-in-the-face-amazing. She’s that good. Quirky, funny, but also a little dark and disturbing. All things that are good in a book of poetry. And reading it didn’t feel like a chore—as I find a lot of poetry does—rather, each new poem was a treat to be read and reread. I mean, any author that has you reading up to and including their page of acknowledgements is pretty special.
Today, you can find a bit of fiction I wrote called “The Last Summer of Love” over at Pooping Rainbows:
It was the summer of engagement. Almost as if—like a light turning on—the entire generation took that next relationship step together, feet protruding in unison.
At first, you wanted to hear all the details: the whens and whys and hows of it all. But, WILL YOU MARRY ME? spelled out in beach rocks was superseded by a villa in Italia and then a handmade scrapbook with Post-it notes, rings hidden in cakes, Jumbo-trons, hot air balloons, a dolphin trained to flip a fish into her hands—“But look inside it!” Screaming yes with fish bones in her hair and scales under her nails, which of course would all wash off but the ring…the ring would last forever.
You can also scan last month’s “Ophidiophobia” which is a little bit darker:
I’ve always been afraid of earthworms. Their bodies curling in around themselves, stranded on the pavement, each segment a revulsion, what I imagine the inside of my throat to look like—pulled inside out.
And, that’s about it for now. Thanks for keeping up with me!
There are poems that she never stops writing, filling page after page until her fingers numb and she has to tap them on the table to wake them. She has no shortage of revelations, in fact, starts awake in the night grasping for ink instead of light, her hair electric with nuance, panting.
For me, the words are like pulling teeth. A bend taken too fast; the clenching in your gut. I write cement sentences that weigh down my pockets, fit together in the same pattern and stand unfinished. I become intimate with demolition.
And you? You are just pages in a book, well-fingered, turning.
He makes soft mewing noises when he sleeps, tossing belly-up, like a puppy. I like him with his eyes closed, when I can shed my pretenses in skins, dirty on the floor, and climb into bed. I curve against his convex and map the paths of freckles on his shoulders until they form diagrams in the failing light.
You are here.
“It’s amazing that you still haven’t read Anna Karenina. And you call yourself an English major.”
“It’s not that I haven’t tried. There’s something about the title that sets me off Karenina… Kar-nin-nin-a. I want to pronounce it like an engine revving. Is that weird? Don’t answer that. Maybe it’s just that I get so much pleasure from imagining that I’ll like it, filling up my bookshelf with things I’m meant to read, someday, when I have the time. Actually sitting down and reading it, getting into the nitty gritty of consuming, well that’s something else altogether. I can’t promise we’ll get along. Me and Tolstoy, I mean. So I put it off. I like the thought of liking him.”
By now she’d stirred three helpings of sugar into her coffee without really thinking about it, one at a time, little granules covered her saucer and the reach of her teaspoon. She paused for a moment mid-flight while she studied her new friend across the table, and then scooped another lump into her cup.
“Of course, I don’t want to be one of those people that reads things just because they’re on a million different lists or worse, avoids things because they are intimidatingly popular. I want to want things in my own time. I hate that I can’t just come to it on my own now, it’s already been claimed as this great classic of the world. What if I hate it? Won’t that say more about me than Tolstoy?”
“Only as much as your sweet tooth says about sugar.”
They say your eyes were closed the first time you smiled but they’re wide open now, shining, and I can’t tell if you’re delighted or just scared. Your teeth are clenched but you do that sometimes, when you’re excited, sometimes when you don’t know what to say.
So, I’m hesitating because you might be hesitating and the box in my palm is still firmly closed, frozen. My knee hurts and I remember, now, that I haven’t swept yet like you asked me to yesterday. I just know, when I stand up I’ll be a one-legged lint trap.
But, tell me. Tell me yes. Tell me you want to get frustrated with each other every week for another fifty years, sixty if we’re lucky. Tell me you want to believe I’ll follow through even if sometimes I don’t. Or, don’t say anything, just let that half-smile teeter into a grin. I’ll know.
This one was supposed to be for drabblerousers but it turns out the word limit is 100 not 150. Shit fuck damn. We’ll get ‘em next time boys. (Sorry Peter).
His eyes were heavy-lidded, as though they were swollen, healing from a slight. I avoided them carefully and how they followed the lines of my body beneath my over-sized sweater.
I bought it because my mother thought it was hideous, on one of those forced shopping trips that always seems to end in angry silence on the drive home and slammed doors. She said, “Ugh. Who in their right mind would buy that? Maybe her—” pointing with one fake manicured talon at an overweight redhead working the cash register. She reminded me of a vulture sometimes, my mother. I knew the girl. People called her Haggy-Maggie under their breath or just loud enough for her to look over at the familiar duo of syllables. It struck me then, how funny it would be to buy the lumpy thing. So, I did. Pulled it off the hanger and marched over to the till. My mother didn’t say a word. She just left the store. Waited by the car. It was easier sometimes, to hate her.
The next day Maggie smiled at me when I walked into History. Then she went back to covertly reading a novel behind her textbook. I only hesitated for a second.
“What are you reading?”
She tilted her textbook down so I could read the cover: The Bell Jar.
I don’t know how it happened but in a matter of weeks we were walking home together, turns out she only lived like three blocks down. We just ran in different crowds I guess, by which I mean, maybe not at all.
That’s how I found myself in her basement on Thursday night. Her father’s plaid shirts piled up on the washing machine and no idea how I’d got there. Basements, they really freak me the fuck out.
“So, are you going to do this or what?” He held the canister out to me.
It reeked. Wrapping my lips around the opening I inhaled as hard as I could and then sat back against the cold concrete wall as my throat began to tingle. I could hear him doing it again beside me, Maggie’s brother. Maggie’s brother. I couldn’t remember his name and when I opened my mouth to laugh I could feel the words rupture on my tongue and watched as they danced into the air before me. Purple, red, pink.
My face was on the floor before I realized he’d hit me. I let my cheek hold the ground, whispering secrets like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Giggling when I felt my insides tear and turn inside out. You have to shed your skin, that’s what my mother always said, at night, when she’d take a hot washcloth and exfoliate my face. “Cast it off!” She’d laugh, holding my jaw in her hand, until I was all angry and red.
“Don’t you want to be pretty?”
My eyes, rolling marbles kicked across the floor. Pooling and then bouncing up up up—there—to her face at the top of the stairs. Like it was waiting for me. All white holes, halo burning. The moon and the sun—and the sky, swollen, like right before it rains.