Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

We didn’t think of Spain until the cooking show. Then, Elton John’s song came back to me, as if in a dream. I thought of you gently placing three sugar cubes in my saucer before a sudden gust of wind took several pages of our book into the epilogue before the acknowledgements and the references.

Who are you, really? A stranger made up of favorite songs, a few childhood memories with father, the cabin in the woods I think I misplaced from an old movie somewhere between my first boyfriend and our last good-bye (when he turned anorexia into a revenge fantasy). Attachments that I will never know.

I stitch my love into a blanket — in my underwear on a friend’s Barcalounger, pretending I am out under the stars with my bad knees and my handful of wishes. You will miss me when I’m gone, caressing the holes in my favorite stitches, wishing you’d said more.

As the people in the neutral-colored suits trot out the tired eulogies (“I can’t say anything bad about him, he was a saint”) in another terror-driven hit parade, I watch lone gunmen eviscerate their carefully constructed fiction by chasing cheap thrills across state lines.

So long.

The Man in Blue

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Really, why are you here?

Tall. Almost a monster. Waiting with busy work. In over your head. The fuselage of gig-heavy desperation, that last-ditch effort to keep it together, to snatch one final curtain call, your battery of secondhand fusion.

A hundred half-finished love stories run through my head, like the half-baked almost-been writer you shrug off when controlled compassion suits you.

Song dedications. So many out there. It’s fucking ridiculous…

how much I long to bake you oatmeal cookies, comb your unruly salt and pepper hair, dance real slow to Steely Dan’s 400th run of “Aja,” take a running leap from the dresser (her Pottery Barn special) to your California King Bed, 1,000 thread count, Egyptian cotton, feel you fuck me from behind until my organs bleed out

Every single time you come within 10 feet, is the night before Christmas. A hush falls over the room

Will you go… away?

Or will you invade my privacy break every rule say what you need to say

violate me please

sinking in the sea

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I woke up in a dream. The seas cast a radioactive orange haze over the shadow of a once-tourist-rife season. All that’s left now, debris from their pre-packaged civilization: a milk carton ($8 a half-gallon!), computer-generated messages in a bottle, a child’s headless doll float by.

Soon, I, too, will cease to exist as the very last breath overtakes me, not a cell phone in sight.

My last thought is of Stephen King’s last book, the one where the people turn into a murder of crows.

Tilapia with Eggs

Photo by Timothy Ries on Unsplash

a severed head

maggots oozing pearly whites in their own special sweet-sour sauce (the day I chewed a fly in my Campbell’s Alphabet Soup)

tilapia’s mouth opening on little tiny gray-haired caviar

in one week’s time, a small orchard of U-Pick raspberries awaits before the children go back to school

this dream, mottled with traces of time, where it’s always early morning, the gauzy sore that never quite heals in my early childhood after I fell off a cliff and lay drowned underneath liquid layers of orange soda

my father called her a “cunt”

mother cursed in her ghetto-Korean, her own ball and chain staring, petulant, jagged razor sharp from the corner of our paper-thin room close to the hole I used to shit in outside

where am I now, and should I stay inside this endless gig at the 24-hour Irish marketplace waiting for the gypsy to play? the coffee here is always bracing hot, cream in clouds above the lip of my dishwasher-stained cup

I can’t forget the tilapia with the eggs, his whispery notes playing havoc with my memories



Joseph Barrientos

there are clouds here from before when I drove for miles to see you play

only it was Vancouver, this south side of elongated ultra-modern apartment buildings swaying from the occasional quake after-hours, after the billing and the time stamp, the rudimentary Starbucks run, this young, lithe Asian woman of about 20 with her nondescript friend

an entire world awaits

I drive as if I’m stretched from the back passenger seat, vertigo and your cabin in the last resort on my mind

you always receive me somewhere in the middle of friend and, something more

I remember monkey lights strung from end to end of this great outdoor vantage point underneath a prism of diamond rings, waiting for you to rustle up the courage after soundcheck, and meeting me at the Irish pub style bar for Shirley Temples and wedge fries — the Colcannon is better than most

you love me here, as if I am split into these non-categorizable personalities

I could bask in your refracted spotlight forever

the Chai you recommended at Li-Mui’s warms me across the Bay, when I think of our outdoor jazz festival

I think of us often, as my clumsy fingers find the right colors to stitch in waves to wrap around your neck, your chest…

like my hair woven into the upturn of your face those times we sat watching for star-crossed lovers to appear underneath the Big Dipper

you still breathe me in on a summer morning, the winter light of dawn, alone on a rain-soaked walk in the woods, I know you do

holding my breath underneath the colonoscopy waves, I will forget and I will remember you in cobalt, black, and flashes of light

(the dreams recurred in 2008, 2012, and 2014)

Moments of Now

Samuel Zeller

Today, a man I thought I knew talked of reuniting with his Savior, and the purgatory between then and now. His well-worn groove sent me into the pits of hell while he pounded feebly at the gates of heaven, his old man without the Mud Bay mutt.

Another man I remember driving Golden Gate bridges for, flooded me with delight — for a moment, we are young, around the corner and back again in our Rainbow colors. Does he remember the night I met him halfway between the outdoor festival, oh the monkey lights!, and the pub maze inside? So much time, so much music.

The times I shunned your shallow make-up, now consume me. Where is my beauty? my childhood? my long-lost one true love? These toothless, Grimm fairy tales my mother threw away?

I watch my body fall apart while the handsome man in the tall black suit quotes Scripture, never once taking his eyes away from the chem trails. My translucent hands are an empty gesture, as he beats himself with his own quiver — diluted in her Delilah silk.

I’m dying why can’t you look at me? Look at me! Please, just one kind word.

“I am not afraid of death, for then I shall be with my Lord and Savior once more.”

Her flood, his blood from stone. I am the fallen woman on the last mile, he is the repentant disciple who scorned her graceless care the many moments of now reaching for the hem of His dangling robe.