Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I found out the hard way

He would show me off. I wasn’t used to that. No man had ever done that before. Out in front of the bar, off smoking somewhere completely unaware of his gaze, he’d tilt his chin in my direction and say, “I’ve got that” to his buddies. He’d brag about me. I never thought I was a catch but he’d make me feel like one. Tell them details, so many that they knew what it was like to have sex with me. What I did well, maybe even what I didn’t. But then he’d pull me to him and make me look him in the eye.
“Look at me,” he’d always say. “I want you to look at me. What we’ve got, it’s real. You know that, I know that. Tell me you understand.”
“I understand.”
“Tell me you agree.”
“I agree.”

I liked it when he told me what to do.

He’d tell me he was a terrible liar and then lie to my face immediately after. Sometimes I knew, sometimes I didn’t. And sometimes he’d be shockingly forthcoming. Like when I noticed the blood stain on his sheets was finally gone; he told me he had to wash his sheets because he pissed the bed. “Don’t worry, I flipped the mattress,” he assured me. He would try to hide the drugs from me, then confide in me he ate speed every day. He tried to hide the drinking and then whispered in a lost moment, “No one knows how much I drink. They think they know, but they have no idea. I am going to die soon if I don’t stop.” He said he didn’t answer his phone because he was on a bender and he didn’t want me to see him like that but then I’d hear he was out with another girl. I started to question everything he told me. Had he even pissed the bed? Maybe he lied about that, needing an excuse I wouldn’t question for washing the sheets when he swore he would keep them like a trophy. Maybe he washed them because someone else was sharing time on that dirty mattress on the floor. His roommate kept forgetting my name even though I was there four or more nights a week. Maybe she was confusing me with someone else.

When it came to it he told me there were others and that he hoped I knew and I lied and told him there were others too but in truth I only went there when I was sure he already had.
“I wonder if I should be discreet when I am out with other girls. I wonder if you’ll find out and it will hurt your feelings but then I wonder if I am worrying about your feelings and sneaking around with other girls that would make you my girlfriend. And I don’t want a girlfriend.”
“I hear things. People tell me things, when they see you with someone else.”
“I wish they wouldn’t.”
“So do I, I’d rather not know.”
“And you’re okay with it?”
“I have to be.”
“You don’t have to be, but it’s not going to change. I told you I was fucked up.”
“Then what am I supposed to do?”
“If I were to ask you right now to be my woman would you say yes?”
“No. I wouldn’t be your woman. I’d never trust you and you’d never do right by me.”
“So why are you still here?”
“Why do you want me here?”
“I don’t know why I need to go out with other girls. To take some stupid girl out to dinner who I don’t find interesting or even that pretty when I’ve got the most beautiful girl I’ve ever been with dying to spend time with me.”
“Maybe it’s because I’m always there when you want me.”
“What kind of girl is okay with her man fucking a bunch of other girls?”

I could feel every twist and turn, every thoughtful manipulation, every appeal to my vanity. “They other girls, they don’t look like you. They don’t fuck like you either.”
Devilish whispers in my ear, tightening the reigns to maintain control just before the release which was imminent. I stayed obedient, kept it coming. Kept holding on to the bedroom. Needing my emotions to find a release through my body and he could bring that release like no other man I’d known. Fucking away from one kind of pain and into another. Night after night after day after day. Hours into hours, he’d be so fucked up he couldn’t come but he’d always get it up. And he would be determined and I’d let him until I couldn’t walk straight the next day. But I felt the punishment was fair and I was deserving. And when he wasn’t around I’d turn on myself. And I would go inward to find that pain, releasing everything my body had taken in, trying to find salvation but only finding exhaustion.

Monday, December 15, 2008

He talked back

“You may pride yourself in evil girl, but you’ve got too much good.”

This was a man who I’d told where my evil dwelled. Who knew about the painful worship and the throat stripped raw with screams into porcelain oblivion. But faulted me for not having enough, or maybe I had enough, I just had too much good to counteract it. And I take being called good an insult and I wonder where that leaves me. Not in a good place I am sure. Clinging to evil when the good wants to take over. Like a child boasting of brawling, I stand shouting of evil but I can’t back up my claims even as I want the world to hear them. To recognize them, because the world had started to only see good and I needed to tell them they were wrong. But how wrong were they? Holding fast to deep dark secrets, evil in their nature, doesn’t curdle one’s soul. Evil can be removed through and emotional exorcism, shaken out through every pore. Its presence does not indicate a full takeover or the slaughter of remaining good. I had let myself believe that just because there was evil inside that I wanted someone to see, that it outweighed the essential purity of those giggles he’d heard and that beauty he’d seen. I still had a heart. And my baby made me believe. Just as he made me believe his evil ran down to the bone.

All this said with one sentence. My mind knows how to race and I am impatient for conclusions. But I knew it was a dismissal. I wasn’t hard enough or soft enough. Not pure in either direction. He told me this as we lay on the mattress on his floor. He hadn’t been back to my bedroom and it was still my bedroom for a least a little while longer. He had cleaned. I’d been gone for 10 days and he had cleaned. He said it was for me, but I knew that was untrue. And I wondered who he’d cleaned for as I stared at the new pile of condoms on his floor. Was this goodbye?

But he had me lay my head on his lap like we’d always done and I nestled my chin against his bare thigh as he leaned against the wall, a pillow propped behind his back and with the remote started what seemed like the hundredth bad movie we’d watched on the tiny television perched on a sideways crate at the foot of his bed.

What if shit creek has an even shittier shore?

My heels sunk slowly into the cold clay ground by the riverbed. The night was warm and the air humid as it usually was during the Nebraska summer. I was back home for the week. I hadn’t known we were going to the water. I was dressed for the nighttime outdoor barbeque we had wandered away from. I liked the way my legs looked in my cut-offs and platform sandals. I didn’t like the way they were going to look tomorrow covered with mosquito bites and scrapes from falling over a log. I don’t remember whose idea it was to walk down to the river, but as soon as I heard the suggestion I was game. The Missouri serves as the dividing line between Nebraska and Iowa. Across the water we could see the riverboat gambling of Council Bluffs. Shining beacons on the water, lights still aglow at 2 am, the only place in the state where the lights were bright enough of drown out a few of the stars, though most still shone bright. On our side of the water there was just railroad tracks and gravel. Not easy negotiation in high heels.

My company was a few of the men from the party. I remembered them from when I was younger, still coming up in the scene in Lincoln. Several years older than me, a few of them had now gotten married, one was even a father. Last I’d seen of them they’d been the 20-somethings to my high school kid. Hosts of the parties where we’d drink their beer and flirt our way into weed. Some of them now lived in Omaha, others, like me, had made the 50-minute drive to come to this annual gathering in our friend’s back yard. He’d roasted an entire pig which we picked apart with our hands. Only the one closest to my age, two years older, recognized me and knew me by name. A couple others remembered me after some brief memory jogging, others had no clue as to who I was or had been. I was fine with this.

I didn’t engage in the conversation much except for with the one whom I’d actually known growing up. I preferred to listen. They bitched about their wives, their car payments, their mortgages, their evenutal families, their non-existent children, their jobs, their lives. I sat quietly on the log I’d previously tripped over 6-years younger and a world away. If I’d stayed one of these men could have been my husband, or in a few years one like them would be. I’d be the wife back in Lincoln annoyed that my husband had gotten too drunk to make the drive back to town and was crashing without me in the bigger city tonight. Maybe I’d be at home alone with my 1-year-old daughter or maybe I’d be one of the ones without a child yet.

When we’d exhausted our trek to the river’s edge we hiked over the railroad tracks and back up the hill. The youngest who’d remembered me held back and asked, “Do you want to see the pony?”
“The neighbors here have a pony. It lives in their front yard along with a couple of ducks. It paces back and forth grazing all day and night although there isn’t much grass left. Come, it’s better if I show you.”

He took my hand and walked me down a side street, turning a few unfamiliar corners in the sleeping residential neighborhood until we reached a house with a barren lawn surrounded by a wooden fence.

“There,” he whispered reverently. “Do you see it?”
And there it was, glowing in the moonlight. A shaggy brown pony standing in the dusty yard. It walked up to the fence as we approached, looked at us solemnly out of it’s big black eyes, then reached its head over the fence trying to reach the few strands of tall grass it hadn’t decimated.
“Can it touch it?” I asked.
“It may bite you, it’s kind of an asshole. Just be careful.”

I slowly reached out. The pony, distracted from its munching, and raised its head to meet my extended hand. I petted its matted mane and it grunted, making soft snuffling sounds. I leaned my head forward, remembering the Shetland ponies of my youngest days onto the horses I’d communed with in later elementary school. Preschool in the country, summer camp at the farm. I rested my forward against the pony’s and it let out a big sigh of hot air from its huge nostrils. The warm flat forehead was comforting and familiar. I closed my eyes and remembered the smell of hay and manure from the barns of my childhood. The sweet stink of the horses coupled with the leather as we strapped the saddles on before we’d ride every morning. I felt a tug at my scalp and realized the pony was trying to eat my hair.

The boy laughed. Communion time was over. The pony, annoyed my hair was out of reach, thrust its head forward and tried to gnaw on a sleeve of the sweatshirt tied round my waist. I pulled away. Angry at my refusal it snorted at me, backed away from the fence and broke into a trot doing laps around the yard working itself into a fury, leaving me standing hair damp from pony spit.
“Oh no, you’ve been rejected.”
“You were right, that pony really is an asshole.”

And then I broke down

“You may not make me whole, but you keep me from falling apart.”
Romantic but untrue. What about, “I am your undoing. You are my destruction.”

Lies. I keep telling myself lies. To get me through. I willingly contradict them moments later, but they are my life as it should be in imagination. At first my imagination let them pass, rolling around in their contradictions happily, let out to play away from reality. If an imagination can frolic (and I am sure they can because imaginations can do anything one imagines) then mine surely did when the lies I tell myself first took hold of it. Prior to him the lies were small, fantasies of an alternate simultaneous reality, the same cast of characters but different interactions and meanings. And the futures! Oh the futures they all had. Anything was possible, all the doors were open! Now the lies are bigger, but even the fantasies of this alternate simultaneous reality, while stronger than ever, these fantasies have no future. Because they change, moment to moment to make room for new lies. And the lies come too fast to build a dreamscape and instead the sub-reality of my imagination is a whirlwind of color and bodies and voices and emergent truths, combating the lies no matter how hard I try to keep them intact. Its joy at starting into oblivion, at the unnavigatable mess my mind has created.

Face of a child with legs like a woman

My baby says he’s got an evil in him and he sees it in me too. He says, “Look at me. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I say, “Yes. A bad seed isn’t always a bad person.”
“We’ve got the darkness in us. It’s not a joke. It’s real.”
“We’ve still got goodness even though we’ve got the evil.”

Except his evil pumps through his veins and mine goes in and comes out my mouth. We lay in bed. He says the same thing, “Look at me. Do you understand what I am saying?” It reverts me back to a childlike state. I don’t say yes, I just look him in the eye and nod, solemn like. And he tells me my duality of nature extends to my body. That my face has a false innocence to it. That my features are childlike but my legs are that of a woman and my bruises make him think dirty things. He makes me do dirty things.

Fucking hell.

I wish I could find that serenity which lies in my expression but not in my soul. The purity he says he hears in my giggles and sees in my face. “I’m not pure.”
“No, you’re not. But your beauty is. Your giggles are.”

Far from pure. Dude thinks he has the devil in him. Why is it that hearing someone believes in god is scarier than hearing he’s got a head for dope? Even though every time he can’t fuck me I worry it’s because he’s done drugs. I have a feeling I am probably right.

In a few days people will start getting concerned I am sure, but then I’ll be gone and then I’ll be back and then I’ll be scared. I am terrified to move. I’ve lived here for 2 ½ years but that’s another story, another stress, another fear. Still having him in this room made me feel all the more attached to it. Very few lovers have entered its walls. It’s my sanctuary. I can’t imagine moving somewhere with normal ceilings. Id feel choked, squashed, cornered. At least here I can look upwards and breathe. I can stretch my soul fifteen feet to the ceiling and still have room to spread my arms.

Consume or be consumed

Scorned by memories that aren’t our own
We weep through the streets waiting for a sign
A signal of something coming to pass
But nothing happens, each next day as the last

Burnt minds attach themselves to able bodies
Ambling through mists that cauterize
Harshing the lungs hypnotic promises
Of other bodies to take inside

I’m so tired of this death dance scene each voice moans
But we bring ourselves back night by night
To consume or be consumed
That’s the question within the answer.

We aren’t of rabid blood by nature
The thirst is one we’re taught
Unpure and filled with lies
Our tongues burn one another as they touch

The death chant: consume or be consumed
To put your fist in my face is the same as putting your foot in the grave
One trip is quicker than the other
But you’ll disappear just the same

Holed up in blackness its hard hard flight
Through the skies against night searching for the day
But you can’t look, you can only wait
And how long you last is up to you.

And god help you if you flee westward
Buying yourself only negative time
Chasing a sunset that never rises
Through oceans back over land back over seas once again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Secret Life of Flies

She was sleeping on her stomach when he entered the room. She was wearing a pair of panties that rode low on her hips and a faded yellow t-shirt. Her right knee was tucked up to her side and a few dark hairs poked out between her legs, making shadows against the faded purple cotton of her underwear. Her t-shirt was worn thin and the ghosts of her tattoos were visible through its shallow barrier. She inhaled deeply as she awoke. A long loud breath inward through her nostrils. She half rolled, half pushed herself up with her arms and sat up tossing her head first to the right, then to the left to a great popping across the circumference of her neck. Then, looking over her shoulder towards the foot of the bed she saw him standing in front of the door he had closed behind him. It was only then that she realized what had awakened her and she sighed softly, disappointedly at the sight of him wearing only a t-shirt, the lower half of him bare and dangling half-mast in the morning light.

“What time is it?” she asked.
“Early still. 7:30 by your alarm clock.”
“You can’t walk around my apartment like that. I’ve got roommates.”
“I couldn’t find my pants and I had to take a piss. What could I do? No one is awake yet, don’t worry so much.”
“It’s too early to start with the worrying.”
He laughed. “It’s true though. Just chill out. You can just hang you know, without worrying, without caring, you know it’s possible.”
“What the fuck man? I’m half asleep, where is this coming from? Maudlin in the morning aren’t we. Besides, I don’t know if it’s in me.”
“It’s in you. You’ll figure it out sooner or later. How not to give a damn.”
“It’ll be a sad day when I do. I do give a damn about something right now and it’s sleeping. And you’re the one accusing me of being too serious. Fucking hell.”
He cocked his head to the side getting a clearer look at her, and she watched his eyes focus on her. His hair fell loosely around his shoulders. It was longer than hers and dirty, always dirty. She’d seen pictures of him when it wasn’t. When it fell just around his chin and you could see his eyes bright. When his beard was trimmed and his mouth quiet. That was before she knew him. She had only touched him in his current state, the type of fair-skinned pseudo-mountain man that was common in the city. They stalked the streets of Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.
They had met one night at a bar on Union. He played music with a friend of hers, one of the many Texans sweet talking their way through Brooklyn. She liked them because they seemed like men, but a twenty-seven year old can grow and beard and throw on a flannel and look very much like a man, but that doesn’t make him so. Still she always fell for displaced Texans and their approximate impersonations of masculinity.