In one place

He shakes the ground where he stands. Rage between the lines, because he remembers a different view, a heavenly one from above, fast in flight, and only the fleeting touch. He forgets the beauty of stillness.

His salvation (for mankind) is movement, “miracles … happen as we trip.”

Will he give her a symphony when this is all over?

Spring

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My parents never told me what it is to die a slow, painless death. But I came from a time where you didn’t talk about these things. You just ate the last cocktail olive, wiping away the crumbs with a paper towel, and waited until the children were in bed before taking the knives out.

Somehow, while I spent my entire lifetime chasing their mottled, three-car garage dreams, I forgot to look at myself. My shadow has wandered off between 30 and here. I am a ghost, waiting to remember my epitaph.

And, I never danced with you.

Touch and Go

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She sits by the computer window, waiting to hear a personal moment — usually tucked in the middle of his fire and brimstone sermon. Usually, she is there, dressed up as a life lesson, an example to be made of sacrilege.

Casualties of war, they once bonded over forbidden fruit, the cut of the smallest piece of cartilage, the impulse to flee, imagined hurts, daydreams of resurrection — real fire and brimstone, as they bore into flesh, tore apart the good bones of the brokenhearted victims of her anatomy.

With every passing service, he worshiped away the remains of his angry young man into the role of the pious, spouting scripted Scripture, carefully maintaining polite society, strangers gathered together on the first day of Bible study.

Every other year, she pores over transient pages of their shared past, drawn together by mutual hatred of the prodigal daughter who got away — the one he fantasized about the fucking from behind, the one who blamed her for everything.

In her intermittent dreams, she sits there still, three rows behind the exit, waiting for his return, wading through the grandchildren, the ex-pat rejects, hungry parishioners unlocking their jaws for one more crumb from the Bread of Life.

The hours between Sabbath and Monday are always the loneliest.

 

10 miles from Keauhou

For Jon Komatsu.

It is the life we dream, you downtown in your own little world of x-rays, vegan Indian, and keeping boogie men away, me up in the ‘burbs married with children and a forest of surround sound.

I touch your bare chest. You leave me paper butterflies on the hotel windowsill overlooking a crowded beach the tourists have all heard about in Condé Nast and Yelp reviews.

In six hours’ time, when the sun touches down on the decayed horizon gone hazel, bleeding its polluted water toward a man-made carnival of Dixie cups and beach mats curved into the world’s biggest ash tray, you will return, my hand in yours to walk along the Pacific ocean that once saw our youth from two islands away. We never miss the sunset, you and I, Jon and Carol, former lovers, former best friends, nothing now as soon as my eyes open again.

As I wash your prized Telecaster and that old radio we discovered in an antiques store off Ballard, I remember where I am.

Keauhou, I dreamed of you once or twice. Maybe we can take a drive before he feeds me jasmine rice and Palak Paneer.

Fall from Grace

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one day it won’t matter

counting the times I stood still, and the earth revolved around me, the distant memories seem birthed from a million stars in the minds of a million strangers, they crawl out of the crevices like big, fat cockroaches that used to fly into my mouth, on the lip of my Campbell’s Alphabet Soup

I’ve told you many times a million, the weight of this body keeps me from reaching you. These words that used to anchor me, at a loss, or tumbling over after I’ve bumped into a buffet table of grand riches trying to find the exit. They’re useless against the mortal depths — bills and charges, checks and balances, the Tupperware after a Thanksgiving potluck, your Niacin and Prozac, your broken family

you look at me, love, and cannot push past these outward grievances, the imperfections guarding my wanton beauty: my black lips, the rusty hair before, these slanted eyes, the careless creases of a woman who gave up long ago

and now I watch you slowly disappear, the hidden figure you once were when she cast such a long shadow

we can only resort to the small talk of polite society, where it’s safe, where you don’t have to address me from your knees, head bent, cry damn you, scream at the sun, tell me I’m right tell me I’m wrong say something let me know I was here I was here I was here

I was here

 

Edward Thomas at 4 a.m.

“Like the touch of rain she was

On a man’s flesh and hair and eyes
When the joy of walking thus
Has taken him by surprise:

With the love of the storm he burns,
He sings, he laughs, well I know how,
But forgets when he returns
As I shall not forget her ‘Go now.’

Those two words shut a door
Between me and the blessed rain
That was never shut before
And will not open again.”

-Edward Thomas

“I built myself a house of glass:

It took my years to make it:

And I was proud. But now, alas!
Would God someone would break it.

But it looks too magnificent.
No neighbour casts a stone
From where he dwells, in tenement
Or palace of glass, alone.”

-Edward Thomas

Polite Society

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Acetic acid, a priest without a proper wardrobe. You seem to appear out of nowhere, a voice that carries when she leaves well enough alone, caressing my name hard and soft, a ballad somewhere in the chromatic stage.

My earliest memory is of you with the children, pulling a makeshift sled past the brick and mortar of her latest pet project in the dead of the worst winter in Northwest history. You smell of steel-cut oatmeal, and ashes. A few short months later, I crept out in the night of my embankment, the haunting epithet of my late father hanging over me.

No one wants you.

You never said a word, save for secondhand hearsay on her behalf, the Christ to my Judas — blaspheming my name.

She is to blame for all of this.

She has no grace.

But my love, I did not stray.

“Are you coming to the next show?”

It is last summer, and we are two strangers coming together in the aftermath of her execution.

I sit above the din of the bar downstairs, waiting for him to see me. Because he asked.

He doesn’t stay, he barely touches me. We talk about things that don’t matter, my blackened salmon, where’s the toilet, when I long for more. Simply more from the shadow of her backward glances, pointed stares in her missile range, her hands and mouth still sharp with self-recrimination.

Such the dutiful soldier executing orders.

How can you stand there so polite, so quiet, when you fucked me from behind, gave me ivy, shaking with terror and naked need?

This is where I leave.