poem

Ventura

It’s you and me, on ventura highway, in a big ole station wagon with long wooden panels on the sides. There are a couple of surfboards strapped to the roof: a light yellow one, and a dark blue one with a bunch of wear on the bottom. It’s 1964.

The blue one was your dad’s. He has lived in a lot of places, in a lot of military bases. Stations with the Navy. He picked up surfing as a way to pass the time while he waited to get back home to you.

The route just opened up a few years ago and we’re driving along the summer asphalt. Our dog, a smiling golden with real long hair, has his muzzle out the car window. He’s eating up the breeze that’s tinged with the scent of orange trees. We’re going somewhere nice. The sun is out and we decided to take a vacation somewhere. Somewhere nice.

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Bedroom

I want to stand in awe of you.

I want to point my lens and linger over the shutter with a boyish hesitation that leads only to a grin. The snow is heavy and falling in a gentle way. Like snow in a book. A blinking skyscraper radio antenna sets the cadence of the night outside. It is dreary cold, but we are warm and tangled.

Behind your bed, the wall collapses into a nook that runs the length of your body.  Cuddled into it, your body silhouettes, and I want to snap the shutter. Click.  The chilly air is humming against the window pane behind you, and beneath your feet falls twenty stories suspended by sand and steel. It is quiet. The city is still as the flakes gather on the dampened cement below. Down below, a taxi cab slides across the icy tar like a stick of butter on warm porcelain.

The red light blinks through the foggy glass. Blink. Blink. Like a toddler gazing upon a zoo-kept python, you press your nose against the pane and peer into the night. You are in awe, and me too. I want to tame your lion hair. It is a mane neglected, a worn trophy of the love made, a lazy fluff. Blink. The red light spreads opaque through the dewy cloud gathered on the glass.

In your bed I stretch my sleepy legs. They are sore from the run. In your bed I roll onto the heavy quilt and stare into the ceiling, like Galileo, like a child on an empty hill beneath the sky. Your bedroom is mine. You are mine. You are mine for now, and for ever, as a jumbled blotch of words and colors. The photos burned onto the frame are lesser than the ones in my head, the ones I want to form into words, into pages in a book. The snow falls like a story, and through the powdered haze, a distant red light flashes. Like shipwreck.

You are nestled in your window island, terribly far away. Terribly far away.

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poem

The Sum

I hope to die in the summer!

I moved into this new place, one bedroom and a kitchen, and don’t have a couch. 26 years old and don’t own a goddam couch.

Still admiring girls. Still admiring girls and not telling them.

Still putting on loud guitar songs.

Still living three years in delay.

 

This is a quiet summer. I don’t have anything going on, except for the move, except for a couple of trips back in time.

I’m starting to understand that nothing waits around. You gotta hold onto the one who loves you right. This life gets busy and doesn’t stop, and you can’t keep putting your own foot forward. You can’t keep saying no to the love knocking. You can’t keep serving yourself and pissing into the wind and watching the whole thing move away from you. You can’t keep going forward as if you could go back. You can’t do it, you’ll run out of time.

She will stop chasing you.

 

Only the good times will haunt you. The bad shit, you forget about it.

Go to a place you used to know real well, and suddenly they’ve got a crane up, and a bunch of hard hats around. A loud jackhammer splitting cement. And you’re standing on the curb where you used to stand, looking out at the landscape, and you don’t remember what it used to look like. You just know it’s different. You don’t know what they changed, you couldn’t describe what came before this skeletal conglomerate of steel beams and ruffled plastic, the industrial shit that wraps around bulk lumber and granite. It is monstrosity. Even though you’ve stood there for days. Days on end, waiting on the bus, waiting in the wind, looking out into the landscape. It’s not the same anymore, but you don’t remember how it used to be.

I hope to die in the summer. I know we’re all supposed to go, and we don’t get to choose how unless we do it ourselves, but that’s my only request.

I hope it’s sunny out, and there’s nothing going on. I hope there’s a car driving real slow over a speedbump, and in it a young girl with an ice cream cone. The young girl is peering out of the glossy window and there is chocolate ice cream all over her face. The dad is driving slow because the ice cream is soon to tumble off the cone. The dad is driving slow because he himself is caught in the moment; he cannot pull his eyes away from the back of his daughter’s curly head. She is staring into the sun, and there is ice cream all over the damn place, and he is staring into his love manifest, and he is driving real slow.

I hope the whole world hasn’t changed by the time I die in the summer. I hope I die on a couch, with the window open, with a chocolate breeze swirling over distant jackhammer screams.

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poem

Hungover

Lay down, stretch it out, write some words down.

Eat a peanut butter cookie.

Think about the end, think about the end. Think about the end.

Fall asleep to the roar of airplanes up above. Skyward humans wiping mouth corners with branded napkins bled with dye.

Learn guitar, an f shape with some flair.

Lick tongues.

Shut the door so the others won’t hear.

You are my favorite song. You are gummy quarters stuck to burnt mahogany.

You are the ashtray in Tia’s apartment.

You are gin and tonic.

I wake up in awe!

I tug your hair and make the love.

Your birdsong sweet with every easy push.

Your face blush.

My eyes all wide open.

My eyes all wide.

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Lovely

Folks get upset about the wind; but you gotta sweat it out once in a while, and then the wind is lovely.

Girls have that way of turning your day around. Backwards. Upside down. Just because they wore a dress, or they said your name right.

Eat it up, it’s good for you.

Love is just a measure of how quick you will forgive ’em. She could run her truck through your bedroom walls and you’d still hold her tight. She does no wrong, and you kinda like the way she pisses you off. She knows when to piss you off, and how to do it, and just how much, so that she’s still held tight.

No matter what you say, you’ll fall in love again. It isn’t up to you.

I think pancakes are always better when someone else orders them. I think people should walk on sidewalks as if they were driving on a road. Slow to the right, please. I gotta get somewhere.

I think it’s sublime that I was once a child. I think it’s sublime that I no longer look like one.

This beer has a metal lick to it, like a pipe, like the one you move around a Clue board.

I think the folks we despise have something we secretly want. I think some folks hate the president because he has influence. I think some folks hate themselves because they’re afraid of wanting that thing they want. I don’t have the fix, but I guess it starts with owning your faults.

Eating dead things will make you feel dead. Sometimes it’s that simple.

Sex used to be the drive, and now it’s maybe top 10. Same goes for keeping up with fashion, facebook, and all the rest of it. The world is too loud. There’s no room for the piano.

A piano in a hallway, stuck between two bedroom doors. Chopin’s Nocturne 55, number 1. Four chords, a melody, a lazy afternoon, and dust in the lightbeams.

This is lovely. All of it.

A striped shirt, a snowy blue behind her, light hair in a loose knot on top the skull, a slight smirk, aware of the lens, aware of her elegance, bathing in it, cheekbones, a nose. A virgin neck, a naked collarbone, loose ends falling from behind the ear. She is lovely.

Power grids and a nightmare that fucks you up for a while. Ice cream “dates” that are only dates in retrospect. A general sense of dread. Entwined ankles and exotic kissing between unreal gasps, gusts of wind through the open window. A summer of erotica.

The quiet Tuesday night that brings it all back.

 

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Canary

In the desert, all wide-open,

and upside-down,

the yellow sun raked the sand.

and the six-toed ants

dug black holes into the crusty salt,

burrowing and dotting the earth with whiskers.

I saw in the glimpse of some hellbent mirage

the shape of your bellbottom hips

and sunday afternoon polka dot blouse,

the thought of it now bringing me cigarette tastebuds.

 

upside-down, I watched your vicious knees

bend to the sound of some distant trumpet horn,

your face snarled in a ragtime menace

your spine curved like a yellow fingernail

your hair ripping across the naked sky like a dragster on asphalt,

I could not breath, like coughing,

everywhere ashes coated my molar gums

and burned my thirsty eyes

and the terrific razor scream of that hellish brass

rattled through that big old place,

that big old empty space, that desert.

 

In the desert, all wide-open,

and upside-down,

the yellow sun raked the salty sand.

and the orange sky squints like cataracts

through that fingerpaint blur

to find your face sour like lemons

and cold with thick disdain.

as my knuckles hang like rope in howling winds

and echoes sing your body song

a dance atop the whiskers,

the ants swallowed in the tremors

the ants buried in their home.

 

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Ode to the Crush

For it all began with a crush.

It was the little red notebook that she wrote in, leather-bound, filled to the crisp with tanned leaflets. It was the static of her bun stuck to the chair after the film while names spilled across the silver. It was the clumsy haste with which she peanut-buttered her english muffin, which crumbled into like a thousand crumbs all over the damn place, and then the way she cusped her palm and broomed them into a tiny pile, a tiny mountain of muffin crumbs.  It was the way the knife was glued to the saucer on account of all the peanut-buttering.

It was her sweet voice across the coffee shop:

“I called my brother today.”

The crush is ethereal and innocent. It is a buzz between strangers. It is the flickering romance in the nonchalance of the everyday. The crush is transient and mischievous and drunken whimsy. The crush has sane men falling in love with a pair of worn canvas shoes, falling in love with kneecaps peeking through ripped jeans and thin wrists and endearing ways to traverse a crosswalk. The crush has sane men falling in love with coffee drink orders and horn-rimmed glasses, and even sometimes the word ‘horn-rimmed’ because she wears them. Tortoise shell, horn-rimmed: poetry, to him.

And so then it takes its hold.

And we find ourselves hovering thumbs over keyboards, never knowing exactly what to say, or rather, trying our best to cleverly say “I think you’re so lovely,” butin other words. We stumble over nothing-words and drag our feet across the gravel paths that outline the city, a skyscraper shimmering in glassy puddles underfoot. We find ourselves grinning, looking down, bobbling along, juggling the exact moment to kiss the crown of her hair, a gentle nuzzle into her scent, and to keep walking. That that thought alone is enough to galvanize even the deadest of hearts.

The crush is jazz horns, maximum volume, swinging around in the strides of our steps. It is a collision of glances that lock, the gravity of two glances that do not let go of each other, like shark jaws, like tightrope, and you are wondering if they are thinking what you are thinking, essentially: looking into you is a symphony.

It is the seconds of those glances that feel, non-hyperbolically, like supernovae.

To the crush, my eternal muse, I dedicate this little riff. You keep the beat, my heart thump thump.

For all the lovers, I hope today you found the crush in your other, as you should every day. I hope it was some simplicity often overlooked; maybe they sneezed and you fell a little deeper into the love-tank.

And for all the singlets, never be sad. The crush is zooming about, making its rounds, thrice a day. Go play. Find something of smitten in all the strangers that bustle about this little planet.

Happy 14th.

 

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