My Song for You (edit)

I am going to write a song for you that will make you feel weird. It will set your teeth on edge, like trains knocked from tracks.

Your skin will get tight and itchy like you are too much pink meat shoved into too small a casing. You are going to need to start wearing long sleeves in July because you will tear your skin into ugly ribbons with your infernal scratching. You’re going to walk toward the pharmacy for a box of envelopes, say, or a ginger ale, and your skin will slough off you, leaving a fine white powder in your wake. You were that little girl who peed in the pool and ended up bobbing in a floating purple ring. All of the other kids in their brightly flowered bathing suits knew you were the one then. Everyone knows you’re the one now.

You with the skin of your arms like fly strips hung by an open kitchen window will forgo the envelopes so there’s no chance of running into your mother’s neighbor picking up her heart medication. You’re well aware that no one wants to see you looking like this and you yourself are going to need heart medication, not envelopes, when I’m done with you.

You will walk shame-faced into a diner to borrow a little hand broom for your mess on the street. Chilly pies will spin on a carousel. You will think ‘I’m hungry,’ and you will realize you are ravenous enough to eat your hands, both of them and then your toes, so you’ll buy up all the pies, the chocolate ones and the pumpkin ones and the syrupy cherry pies, and even the coconut pies, which you say you don’t like, but watch. You’ll buy those ones, too, along with every other pie in the place. You’ll return to the parking lot and sweep the white dust from the blacktop. You will think about licking it from your palm or rubbing it into the wet screens of your eyes or, if you’re feeling proper like you sometimes do, you’ll think about sifting it into a pound cake batter.

This song I’m writing for you is going to make you put your hand in your pants when you think I’m not looking. I’m always looking. Put your hand in your pants and if you do, I’ll put my hand in mine, and it will be like we are making pies together except that we’ve run out of lard. We stood at the sink and fed it to one other by the spoonful last Tuesday, each heavy dollop nearly big as an egg and run through the sugar bowl. Remember how our greasy teeth flashed at one another, our foreheads glowing like palms of moonlight laid over an evening lake.

So we will make cookies instead, side by side at the kitchen counter, cracking eggs and pulling apart stiff knots of raisins. I will hum it first and then sing this song that I’m going to write you, and it will make your arms and legs and your torso, all of the long parts of you, run loose like running water.

You will sleep fitfully at night while uneasy chains of words take over your head. Words like rotgut and apricot and kettledrum. You will think things like pigeon shit on my fingers and a cold bullet in my brain and gladiolas abloom in my lap. You will lie in the dark wondering why don’t we ever sit on hills and watch fireworks at noon, why don’t we clear away the snow and garden in the frozen ground, when our houses are really in need of something bright. Everything is going to make so much sense, even those things that never make sense. You are use to being coy but you will know what it all means, all of these loose trains of words looping through your head and tying you to the bed. You’ll probably gasp for breath dramatically. I will make you feel so weird, quietly singing this song into your pink ear.

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Songs

I am going to write a song for you that will make you feel weird. It will set your teeth on edge, like trains knocked from their tracks. Your skin will get tight and itchy, like you are too much pink meat shoved into a too small casing. You will leave behind a fine powder of skin in your wake You will make such a mess that you’ll need to borrow a little hand broom from that diner that spins chilly pies on a carousel. You will be so ashamed. You will be ravenous enough to eat your hand but instead you’ll buy armloads of chocolate pies and cherry pies and coconut pies which you say you don’t like, but watch. You’ll buy it, along with every other pie in the place on your way out. You’ll sweep up your white dust and you will think about licking it from your palm or rubbing it into the wet screens of your eyes or, if you’re feeling proper like you sometimes do, you’ll opt to sift it into a poundcake batter. This song is going to make you put your hand in your pants when you think I’m not looking. I’m always looking. Put your hand in your pants and if you do, I’ll put my hand in mine, and it will be like we are making cookies together, side by side at the kitchen counter, cracking eggs and measuring out spicy spoonfuls of cinnamon and pulling apart hard knots of raisins. My songs will make uneasy chains of words take over your head, words like rotgut and apricot and kettledrums, and the chains will wake you in the middle of the night, tying you to the bed with your hand buried in your legs. You’ll probably gasp for breath dramatically. I will make you feel so weird if you give me the chance, humming dirty little songs into your pink ear about whining dogs and blue cheese on picnic tables and raspberry poprocks and folding card tables stacked in an uneasy pile on the morning’s spongy, wet grass.

July 7, 2012: Loving Her. CWE 279

It’s these lyrics that keep running through my head but the song hasn’t been written yet. They wake me from black sleep, and I carry her in my pockets like memories of a trip to Paris, which is somewhere I haven’t been. There are so many stones in my pocket that I wear my pants at my ankles. She’s this candle on the windowsill with a snow white wick and my fingers are warm. An apple in my stomach that I will eat at my desk tomorrow morning. It’s like this to love her. I am weary with love and I slept the soundest sleep last night in my black bedroom. Singing birds woke me when the night was still on its knees. I did not want to shoot them like I normally do because they were singing the song that I sing in my head. That’s what it’s like, loving her. It’s like birdsong, singing a song that hasn’t been written, in a black bedroom in a blue night.

July 4, 2012: Fourth of July. CWE 276

Freedoms we’re still working on:

  1. Religion, to have or have not. We’re all of us holy, and some of us believe that to be an extension of God and some of us believe that to be an extension of the universe or of life or of anything pretty.
  2. Gender expression/gender identity.
  3. Marriage/commitment rights for all.
  4. Civil rights…in regard to everything and nothing, simultaneously. Civil rights are human rights and should have nothing to do with anything other than humanity.
  5. Animal rights/protection, specifically in regard to abuse. As living creatures, animals should be afforded care and safety. No questions. Humans who abuse animals should be treated as abusers. End of story.
  6. Fair taxation that doesn’t reward the wealthy and exploit those who struggle
  7. Access to healthcare for women, including reproductive rights.
  8. Access to education, in regard to children in need of FAPE
  9. Reasonable and affordable access to education, in regard to adults who wish to be able to learn and to eat simultaneously
  10. Access to mental health care if desired. Peace of mind is a human right, and each individual’s peace of mind contributes to the well being of our world.
  11. Access to healthcare, regardless of and probably in direct response to level of need. Those in need get what they need. Done.
  12. Safe housing. Hallways that aren’t dark. Stairwells that aren’t scary. Doors that lock, windows that open. Quiet. Joy.
  13. Access to support with addiction treatment if desired regardless of financial circumstances
  14. Access to culture, knowledge, and experience: libraries, museums, technology, parks…in all cities, everywhere
  15. Gender equality
  16. Access to safe childcare
  17. Freedom to childhood. Freedom from abuse in any form. Freedom to feel safe and valued.
  18. Freedom from exploitation. From domestic abuse. From trafficking, racism, sexism.
  19. Freedom to be forgiven without punishment when it doesn’t endanger others to do so. Freedom to learn from mistakes.
  20. Freedom from shame.

July 1, 2012: First Sentences. CWE 273

She knew shit was bad when lines from poems kept popping in to her head when she waited in line at the grocery store or shaved her left knee without shaving cream. Snippets of heartbreaking poems woke her like bad dreams. She felt like an aluminum popcorn popper shaken over the stover burner, bursting with sadness and apathy and anxiety. She was tired of herself.

She quit drinking on a Thursday. She woke up after being awake since 2:00 AM which is what always happened when she drank too much. She was, as she always was, disgusted with herself and reeling and thinking about how much she sucked at life. She stood in front of the bathroom mirror after she showered, and her skin looked pinker and fresher than it had for years. Her teeth were whiter and her eyes clearer and her hair was drying in a kind of wavy, fancy way instead of hanging limp. This was strange because she had not slept and was still likely drunk and all around, she was hating herself and this day pretty intensely considering that it was only 6:45 AM.

His house was the size of a postage stamp. This is a true story. The roof was even edged with scallops, just like old fashioned stamps were. The kind you had to lick.

When Noreen touched her, she felt like she was being prayed over. And under and through and into. Noreen wrote prayers along her arms and across her stomach and she wrote prayers in the air around her and pulled her hair into long, shiny prayers that were very heavy and very light at the same time. Noreen filled her like water tipped into a vase so that things could begin blooming and the air hummed with yellow and prayers and flowers breaking open in the morning air when the sun burned off the last parts of the night.

It wasn’t so much that she was bossy, although it’s true that the was bossy. It’s more that she was what her grandmother would call a Nervous Nellie. She could work conversations in a certain way, building up interactions and breaking down others. She pulled this string and that leg kicked. She pulled that string and this hand raised.

Title? Prayers, Puppets, and Pumpernickel

She lived in an apartment above a liquor store. All windows to the liquor store had been boarded up years ago. Her attic apartment had to windows at either end, and beams of sunlight met in the middle of the floor.

She sat at her desk going through unimportant emails and she reached down beside her hips to grab two ends of a seatbelt.

I knew the potatoes weren’t soft enough. I knew they should cook longer. I knew I didn’t need another beer. I knew things were getting worse.

***

She kept biding her time, waiting until something came along that was a joy. She kept waiting for joy. I told her over and over that that wasn’t how joy worked. Joy wasn’t going to come along and sit its fat ass in her lap and let loose a bouquet of balloons into a sky washed with a paintbrush dipped in blue. Joy didn’t work that way.

She didn’t listen. She didn’t ever listen. It didn’t matter. I was desperately in love with her. I wanted to name each curl that sprung from her scalp. I wanted to give them middle names and throw each curl a bat mitzvah and a confirmation party and a sweet sixteen. I was at all times twisting garlands of paper streamers and breaking broccoli trees into manageable little bushes to roost beside bowls of dip. She was the party of my life.

I met her in an economics class. It was the second time I’d taken the class. I failed the first time. It was a hard class, but really I failed because I stopped going. That whole experience taught me the importance of failing. Failing will sit you in a plush seat in an ampitheater and raise a red velvet curtain with a fluorish. The curtains will part like the seas and there’s no need for Moses because she will be standing there in the wake, her curls snapping, her eyes flashing.

I haven’t seen her in years. I’ve bought three houses and sold two and cleaned my fridge maybe two hundred times and shaken out clean sheets over a quilted mattress maybe seven hundred times. I’ve made love over and over and slipped my head in to the laps of a parade of women. She still sits in my lap with a carboard book of matches, lighting one match after another and giggling while they fizzle. She still sits her fat ass in my heart, building bonfires and pumping the billows. I smell like sulphur and have spent years in the burn unit.

To contemplate: a story about someone who fell in love with you, instead of a story about you falling in love.

March 24, 2012: Imagine living underground. What does it feel like? CWE 176

Live with me underground. Let me take you away. We need to get away. From work and family and washing machines and overdue bills and broken screens. I have small pills and when we wake up, we will forget that foolish life above ground. We will have a very tiny dirt castle. Just for you! Just for me! I will plant flowers from the ceiling for you, and they will bloom over our heads. Wildflowers. Blossoms will sweep the hair from my face and this will make me beautiful. My skin will glow. I will smell lovely always! All parts of me! Flowers bloom round and perfect. Their fragrance will never grow heady with decay. Petals will never darken and turn crispy and papery like overcooked bacon. Oh no! Not in the underground world. Flowers will lift and flutter in the air from opening or closing doors. Like curtains by an open window. But there will, obviously, be no open windows or closed windows or windows. Our world will be quite dark. But we won’t know it so we won’t have a word for it. In the way that it doesn’t rain grass above ground so we never comment that it is or isn’t raining grass. In this world of ours where it isn’t dark or not dark, streets and hills and bookshelves and kitchens are made of banked dirt that is a lovely rich brown color and the loamy dirt crumbles sometimes, but we don’t mind. We braid flower stems into brooms and sweep up regularly. It’s what we do, like how we brush our teeth or unload the dishwasher above ground. It’s how we pass days. We sweep often. Also often, we pick armfuls of flowers and fill mattress covers. We press the lengths of our bodies into the flower ticking and we make love on a rustling mattress. Flowers snap their fingers and crack slim knuckles in the air in our underground bedroom and we breathe through the flowers and the pollen dusts our lungs green and glowing and we make love until our bodies begin blooming. We have been seeded in our lungs and our palms itch when the buds break through and our legs lengthen with waxy stems pulling their fibrous bands through us and our skin softens. We are soft everywhere. We are a garden in bloom. Petals fall around us and we breathe them into our lungs and the seedlings pull at our fingers and roots stretch open our legs and our feet flutter above our heads, like flower petals under the sun and wind above ground, for which, remember, we have no words. Our ankles tremble and our feet flutter and we turn warm under the mid afternoon underground sun.