Trash Artist

I think one of the worst feelings in the world is to suffer alone. Yet, so many of us do — at their convenience.

I watched “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix tonight when I should be asleep. The story drove home the point that I am insignificant in this big blue world and that there are a lucky few who dare to chase their happily ever after at the expense of others. (Remind me one day to tell you about Mark.) They destroy innocent lives of good, decent people (enablers), the hop a jet to paradise, dropping a few choice photos on social media for their millions of followers hanging on every word.

Doesn’t seem fair or right, does it?

Those of us left behind stew in silence, going on about our day serving and helping, cooking and cleaning, chauffeuring and gigging, bowing and scraping, bending over for more. We save time late into twilight lying alone in our beds trying not to choke on our tears.

It never ever ever occurs to us to band together for support. Well, it occurs to me. But who the hell do I think I am?

Gut me, bleed me dry, then sell the cannibalized parts in the Temple of Jesus to the highest bidder. Not one trace. Not. One. Trace.

I want to scream, “What the hell do you want from me??”

I’ll have a Cheeseburger Deluxe and a pitcher of beer.

Stones

I watched them gather around her, Stonehenge in twilight before the tourists, signs, and gates 20 feet away. She’s a goddess, dropping love bombs. I wish, I wish, mommy why don’t you want me? If I appropriate Aphrodite, slather on your Cancer, drape my shapeless body in your cheap cologne, would you cover me?

I stay up all night to stitch a blanket from scrap yarn, pretending the stars are my friends, my only friends. They glare with universal oblivion, catch them when I can.

Alone on a slab while the instruments of ego and torture dissect my every move during the 7th inning stretch. I am utterly alone in this echo chamber, that you claim is your own.

But I have been sitting here for centuries. I am, your naked cast-off, waiting for the shield that will never come.

beachside

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Elly Filho

the open mind, they fall in — the star chasers, the stars —

there is no music in this place, a small, quiet beachside town abandoned decades ago, these are Instamatic echoes of my childhood, strangers, friends of friends, my parents’ conquests… Stephen King rejects, I suppose

rain as I walk through them into this empty room, a pocket of complete understanding

his shadow stands over me, across the expanse of offices in this warehouse from hell, the same empty basement basketball court school auditorium I once found myself in after Britney Spears 5150’d

I can’t read him, he’s as empty as this room overlooking a graying beach outside these smudged picture windows

bin laden hitler miscavige madness

he’s coming closer

my mother’s old Toyota, the one that ran out of gas in 1983, starts immediately, taking me out of this dusty old town in the nick of time

I pass these tourists with their tinsel hats and greasy faces running for shelter, none the wiser

flee from the dark ones

Hummingbird

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“My Life Through a Lens,” Unsplash

Hummingbird, it was. I will touch you, wing to flesh. See my inner world in your outer.

A moment’s hesitation but brief respite from the inevitable climax, as if a curtain parted somewhere in the vicinity of heaven and earthly bliss. I am your safe lens. You won’t be harmed.

My quiet, unspoken assent, its descent on my shoulderarm, the small of my cheek, the side I favor when I run through countryside. Barely a brush, a whisper — the feel of rain on an empty shore — as if it belonged there all along, before languages, fatal hand to an angry dirty girl.

The moment we touched, the world opened up, a magical world of log people and superlative infinity sky. A brief second in life’s history books. Then, gone, as if in a dream. Because it was.

I am back in an empty hollow of my childhood. The children have grown and moved away, stationed elsewhere, in pieces on a pillar to American freedom, spokes on a sea. It is black and white, infinitely lonely — the home of the damned.

There are no birds.

when we walk

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“Bottled Up” by Andrew Bui, Unsplash

suddenly, you wait for me just outside Mrs. Hao’s door — a rewrite in your best English Honors (even though you never took the class) —

you, Michael… take my hand, and we walk toward the glimmering dimming light of the 1,000th high school reunion but this time, together, this time, I float on a shimmering glittery path

we pause as I look up into your incredulous face, a beam of yesterday’s sunshine between us, a what-if before our lips meet and the stars align

you linger on the corner of my mouth, and I smell spaghetti Wednesdays, pikake and maile lei proms (I never attended), the puff of soft linen snow on your New England winter coat — the one before business

“Why are we together now?”

“I always wished I had the courage to say yes to you.”

as I look away, two others gather behind the one, as bashful as hormonal freshmen on a Dungeons & Dragon late-night bender

“Did you ever go to a dance?”

“No,” I tell him, holding his hand a little longer.

“Band?”

“—and Bullies.” They’re dead now.

Michael Iwatake, come home.

The Infinity Scarf in Sutton

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I see you have already left, an arrival at a much-anticipated destination. Anywhere but here, we used to say when we used to say a lot before we knew the truth, before the world exploded with too much.

I think I love stitching this yarn in my feeble arthritic hands because of the counting, not the numbers, certainly not the beautiful designs. The counting addresses my internal clock, the compulsion to check the stove, flick the light switches, say, “Bread and Butter,” when they come to part us.

I barely look at the scarf, the blanket, the slouchy black cat hat. It is onto another mystery until a glorious pattern emerges, the patterns that hold meaning in my otherwise brutally mundane life of 32 pick-up, sorting laundry, cleaning cupboards, finding salt, pounding my head against the wall, crying in the shower… that sort of thing.

Somewhere in the spiral of the past, pregnant with regret, I was a Man of Science, locked in combat with sticks and stones, godless faith in only what could be.

I am not good at Math. But the counting refocuses my efforts on one stitch at a time, calm in a storm, tempest in a teacup, Anna Nalick on the precipice of… truth.

I will tell you a secret: I am afraid to turn in.

Rabbit Hole

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“Man in Cafe by Neon Lights” by Clem Onojeghuo, Unsplash

Where does this dream end, and where do I begin?

I practice string theory while walking briskly through the middle of what is now a very nice, modern fusion Mexican restaurant. The knives and forks, chocolate lava cake that glowed, the strange imitation of tacos resonated with my middle-aged childhood, the four years I walked these hallways from English Honors to Algebra.

My short life in layers, the past and the present superimposed, save for this young girl’s voice telling me I am her hero. I should know her as she knows of me, yet dementia takes holds.

I should’ve interviewed my grandparents, beyond their aches and pains. They probably saw what was unspoken, in the gist of their laundry list of physical ailments, doctor’s appointments, talk of Medicare and the current President. Maybe they were too far gone to notice.

Maybe, I am not a ghost or a time traveler, but a cog in a machine. A very big machine.