There was a bet between my father and I
about whether or not I would one day find “God”
whether it was his God, or some unknown divinity,
he was convinced I didn’t have it in me.
I sought your face in the Mojave,
the sun, she watched me carry on, up and over sandy plateaus
the rubber soles beneath my feet disintegrating slowly
exposing one grotesque and blistered toe.
Shining down in disgust, awaiting my submission to the heat
she smiles so sinister as my legs buckle surrendering
the fatigue inundating my weary soul with defeat.
A grainy ingestion of boiling terrain. Vision transforming
two pinholes of light surrounded by black black
Nothing to show for six years of pursuit
for an invisible entity all for some silly bet.
And now I am dying, a mouthful of sand and a bible in hand.
Whispering, then crying, “Show your face”
A lingering, agonizing, sweltering pause
and God’s answer is no
It always has been.
I dreamed of flames and felt the heat upon waking
Flashbacks of a fiery cross and a smoky skeleton
collapsing frames surrounded by a black mass
Feeling wicked and empowered I sat alone
watching the thing transform into a pile of soot.
My hands were folded as if to mock a prayer
the snow melted beneath my boots
and I waited for redemption.
Ruins ruins ruins
lay there in bits and pieces
in a perpetual pool of vomit and
an infinite puddle of piss
An absurd spectacle for onlookers to pity
and no one wants to pick up those sad pieces.
They used to come to admire your wonder
to envy your wit and candor
but that was you, before you were in ruins.
A true palace
a sight to see, painted exquisitely
with precision and poetry,
worth every cent spent scaling
mountains and wading rivers.
We waited for you, anticipating
a wonder of the world
something to be photographed or painted
but that was all before you were in ruins.
A natural disaster must have taken you down
to rubble and dust, ashes and soot
or it could have been by the hand of Satan
with a swift shake, those walls came down
exposing a broken foundation beyond repair
so you sat and grew more weary
while growing ivy vines and a mossy cardigan.
Your jagged boulders are too heavy for hands to move
and the walls won’t rebuild themselves.
Ruins ruins ruins
I miss the wind that blew through your foyer
an exhale of relief and comfort and
I’d use all of the strength accumulated
throughout my futile existence
to bring you back to who you were
but sometimes life doesn’t work that way,
“The leaves are changing again,
I wish you were here to see it
They really are beautiful”
I folded the lined paper and
placed it back in the envelope it was mailed in.
She was always writing these letters
reminding me of what I'd missed out on
by moving to the city.
Like I would think twice
or three times about leaving Oregon.
Sometimes I wanted to write her back
and say “The leaves change here too, you know.”
From green to brown to a pile on the ground
either way, what I can see
through my apartment window
means nothing really.
I do kind of miss the way your ass looks
in those Levi’s you would always wear though.
Send me a Polaroid of that and I
may just pick up a pen and write you back.
“I wrote this” she had my American Literature anthology open on her lap and was sitting on my bed. “Wrote what?” I asked without caring to know the answer. “Wild Dogs in the Fire” she replied while her eyes were still on the big book in her lap. “Oh, I haven’t read it. Either way you didn’t write it. That book was written years ago and published in New York City.” She closed the anthology, set it back on the shelf and continued to dig through my belongings with hopes to discover something convicting as she usually did. “I used to live in New York City, what a ride it was.” I rolled my eyes and made sure she wasn’t misplacing anything. “You lived in Albany for six months.”
Dismissing my remark, she was still rambling on about riding the subway at four AM and of prostitutes in Harlem. “You still writing? You’re so smart, I think you got your brains from me. Your father would disagree but he’s an idiot.” She picked up my glass pipe from the bedside table and looked at it closely then sat down on the floor. “I don’t know why you girls do this to yourselves.”
“Do what to ourselves, mom?” She was staring at the floor gliding her fingertips back and forth along the carpet creating lines and then making them disappear. “Your sister, I get that. She’s just like your father and threw away her life five years ago with that whole reckless abandon thing not giving two shits about her future or me. I’m honestly shocked that she hasn’t picked up a nice pair of lucite whore shoes and gotten naked for her drug money. But you, you have always been my Celine. Your head screwed on almost just right and always such an affectionate little girl. That might explain all the trouble you’ve had with all those boys when you were growing up.”
Wow. I looked at the clock right when it reminded me that it was time to go to work with nine low chimes. She continued “You have always been my favorite and I don’t say that to all three of you girls either. I love you, Celine. You’ve always understood me. At my best, and at my worst. Even as a small girl.” She was next to me now with her hand on my back, stroking it just as she had with the carpet on the floor. It felt foreign like a stranger’s accidental brush of the hand on the bus or when you wake up next to someone you have no recollection of. I hadn’t seen nor spoken to my mother in almost four years and she pretended as if we’d been close forever, this had never been a vague resemblance of true. I stood up and put on my coat. “Where are you going?” She was on her feet now, too. “I’m going to smoke a cigarette. You should probably go. My friend is coming over to watch a movie any minute now.” She looked hurt, or that face she makes when she wants you to think she’s hurt. “You’re right, Dick’s waiting in the car. He has been this whole time. Same with your brother.”
She hadn’t mentioned that my little brother was in town with her and it pissed me off. I looked out the window down to where their Mercedes was parked. He wasn’t looking towards me of course and she liked that. I walked away from the window disappointed and angry. “Ok, thank you for coming to see me. Have a decent rest of your trip. I guess I’ll talk to you whenever.” She was hugging me now and I got that feeling again. Like when she was stroking my back. I pulled away and let her leave. As soon as I heard the luxury SUV pull out onto Main, I put on my “whore shoes”, lit a cigarette, and walked to the bus stop.
A darkened heart, brighter
cold hands, warmed.
Not by the flames
in which I lit myself on fire.
bringing life to a corpse.
Awakened by you.
“I might be a sex addict,” she said while zipping up her Levi’s. “You’re the second fellow I’ve taken to my bed today and I don’t believe I’m finished yet.” In most cases, I would resent such an admission as women should maintain a certain restraint in regards to casual sex however; there was something different about Billie. The way she wore black and wore it well, too. Whether it be denim or leather, lace or just plain cotton, that girl was doing something right. I pulled my socks up around my calves now sore from the previous hour of pumping, thrusting, mounting, and whatever else kept us at it. “Have you been to meetings?” I ask out of sheer curiosity. “I haven’t. I’m just now considering the possibility that I have a problem and honestly I have no desire to resolve it.” Fair enough, I thought. Her disregard for societal standards and the unspoken code of acceptable behavior for women and sex was not disturbing to me but oddly refreshing. She never bothered me with excessive phone calls or letters or showing up at my work wondering where I’ve been like the others did and I liked that. Other women were overwhelmingly aggressive and irritating with their inquiries and expectations. It happened more often than not that I’d lure an unsuspecting stranger into my home at any given time, give them something to remember for about an hour, then push them on their way only to be chased down a week or two later.
The chase would manifest in a few ways; I’d receive small notes on my front door written in bold black ink: YOU NEVER CALLED or YOU’RE NO MAN YOU’RE A WORTHLESS SHIT WITH UGLY BALLS, and the like. My phone message machine was no different except with that I was able to hear their shrieking accusations of supposed diseases and pregnancies. I paid no mind and carried on most days. Oh, right. Back to Billie. Well, she was different, like I said. “Do you always use a condom?” Of course I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only one who was cautious in my sexual escapades around town with some of the worst women around. “Duh, you’re the only one I let inside me without one. It’s because I see you regularly and you understand me. You don’t shame me for what I do and don’t expect anything from me. I like that. I don’t “like” you, but your etiquette is incredible.”
I finished lacing my boots and made my way towards the back door. She laughed aloud, “See what I mean? You even consider public opinion and avoid my neighbors to save us both face.” I hadn’t even realized it until she mentioned something. “I guess you’re right. Must be second nature at this point.” I kissed her on the cheek, she still smelled like sex which was expected as we usually got pretty messy. I liked her and knew she would never let her guard down beyond the physical barrier of clothing when we had our time together. I’d wonder about sex addiction in women and if it really existed. I’m definitely not opposed to it; sounds like the woman of every man’s dream. Hell, I’d go to a meeting if I could find an admittedly sex-addicted woman to take good care of me.
Billie would continue her day with a yogurt, an avocado, a joint, and another house guest. I was never worried that I hadn’t done my job when it came to satisfying her mostly because she was simply insatiable. I’d see her again, maybe next week. In the mean time, my screen door might be riddled with ferocious little pieces of paper and my answering machine full of screaming women but it was worth it. It was always worth it.