Posted in Writing

To The Poets, To The Drunkards

“You read Keats?” he asked.

I took a swig from my Diet Coke, placed it back between my legs and shook my head.  The carbonation burned the back of my throat. “Not really, no.” I said.  I turned my body towards him as he drove.  His right palm drumming against the steering wheel, his left hand continuously flicking his cigarette ash out the window. I was about to rub the back of his neck with my left hand when he said:

“I don’t know if I can sleep with a girl who hasn’t read Keats.”

My hand retreated back into my lap and my face turned back to glance out of the window.  I watched the white dashes loop underneath the tires of the car until I became ill.  Then I looked up. There was a normal day ahead of me: Partly sunny, partly warm, partly alive.  I propped my right foot up on the dashboard while I leaned forward and grabbed my bag to look for a lighter. Instead I  felt a wadded up piece of paper in the bottom corner and pulled it out.

“I mean, when he says ‘My sense with their deliciousness was spell’d: Soft voices had they, that with tender plea Whisper’d of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquell’d.’ It’s … brilliant! Don’t you see?”

Half listening to him yammer on, I had begun to unfold the paper from the bottom of my bag.  The crinkled lines read like a disgustingly false treasure map.  The words weren’t much help either. 

“Seriously, do you read any poets?” He asked this as he flicked his cigarette out the window.  I saw the butt fly backwards, slamming into the window.  My eyes moved back to my crumpled paper and I scanned the words written in tiny print.  “Are you even listening to me? Poets! Do you read them?”

A small smile worked it’s way onto my mouth. First turning up the right side, then the left, before my teeth were forced to show themselves. Smoothing the paper out on my lap, I rubbed both my hands up and down my thighs.  I noticed the faster I did this, the hotter the paper felt against my skin.  I looked back out the passenger side window, watching billboards fast approach with large images before disappearing behind me.

Without breaking my gaze, I replied, “I do read poets. Plenty of them. We’re all poets, aren’t we? I find it very shallow of you to say that you don’t sleep with girls who don’t read Keats. Not everyone can be enamored with a romantic English poet.”

“I thought you said you didn’t read him?”

“Just because I haven’t read him doesn’t mean I don’t know who he is. Jesus.”

I kept rubbing my hands over the paper, looking out the window.  I waited a few more minutes before saying anything. About a mile before the highway divided into East and West I asked him to stop the car. “What? You’re fucking crazy. I’m not stopping the car.”

“If you don’t stop the car, I’ll open the door and jump out.”

“Is this because I won’t sleep with you?”

“I wouldn’t give you the pleasure,” and my right hand gripped the door handle, pulling it towards me.  “Stop the car,” I said again.

He slowed, seeing the seriousness on my face. The Chevy merged over two lanes of traffic as we coasted, then coming to a complete stop directly in between the two interstates. “Thank you,” I said as I reached down for my bag. I took the piece of paper that had been warming on my thighs and folded it neatly, placing it in a side pocket.  I unbuckled my seat belt, opened the car door.

“Oh my God, you’re really doing this.”

I stepped out. He rolled down the window. 

“Get back in the car. Are you trying to prove a point? C’mon. Get back in the car. I’ll buy you some merlot and let you read Sylvia Plath to me or some shit.” 

I leaned up against the window and spoke,

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

A confused look came across his face as I continued, “If you want to be cliche, I figured I’d match you.” 

My body leaned in closer, halfway inside the car.  He met my gaze, “Get in the car. Quit fucking around.” 

I spit in his face.  “I’ll take it from here, thanks.”

The tires kicked up rocks into my knees and I saw his hand extend out of the window as he flipped me the bird.  I stood there for a moment smiling and then continued on with my partly normal day.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Comin Up

Currently listening to: 2Pac

Snacking on: spinach artichoke dip with pork rinds (don’t hate).

On my commute into work, I thought about what to write about today.  It was a quick fleeting moment though, as I got sucked into Portishead that came on rotation.  So let’s just say this will be my free write for the day.  It is lunch hour after all.  Let’s do this.

Yesterday I watched several movies, a documentary and three television shows.  At the end of Jack the Giant Slayer, I helped Md with his math homework, ate some animal crackers and had to frog half a legwarmer.  You have no idea. I tried to fix the error. Pulled out the yarn past the error.  Tried to reconnect it all, but failed.  With one heavy sigh, I ripped it all out and started over.  Such is the game when you’re a knitter.

With math finished up, Md headed out to ride around with his buddies and I started the Salinger documentary.  Highly recommend it. Even if your family is groaning about the fact that they can’t believe you’re watching another documentary. So? I also can’t get enough of cartoons, mini chocolate chips and peppermint gum.  The show will run you about two hours, although it took me close to three due to pausing it a few times. Documentaries fascinate me- it’s your “in” so to speak. I prefer it that way. Being a peeper.

After I finished that up, we all ate supper, watched True Detectives and without fail, I fell asleep on the couch.  It’s been well over a week since I’ve slept in my bed. Maybe two.  I don’t mean for it to play out that way, because I’d much rather be snuggled up by my husband than awkwardly asleep on my sofa.  Around three a.m. (oh that witching hour) I was wide awake. My limbs were numb, my shoulders hurt and the dog was hugging my side.  “I gotta stop doing this shit,” I mumbled while I swung my legs to the floor.  I heard my husband (who had fallen asleep on the love seat) take a breath and say, “I knooooooow, right?”  There is nothing more hilarious than a person who is dead asleep and answers you.

I laid awake for another hour or so watching CNN.

Thinking.

I thought about my friend who was holed up in a dressing room of that Maryland mall over the weekend (she is okay) and that I haven’t seen her since my wedding.  I thought about how I need to get the paperwork together for my son’s upcoming high school career. I thought about putting all my books into alpha order, but then decided against it (too timely). I thought about our upcoming vacations and birthdays. I scribbled a note to call the tattoo parlor about my sleeve.  I thought about passports and licenses to be renewed. I can’t forget to mail that package to Canada. Or write two more letters.  Or edit those poems.

The last thought I had before I fell back asleep was how awesome it felt to stretch my body before pulling the blanket back up over my head.

My alarm went off at five.  I pulled my body off the couch at quarter to six.

There is a method to all of this madness.  I’m slowly working on it, I promise.

For the time being, I fall asleep surrounded by books, loose leaf paper, three pens, one pencil, my dog and my glasses sliding off my face.

Posted in Life, poetry, Writing

Unrelated Objects Moonlighting As Distant Friends

One afternoon, you asked me to build up my dreams.

I assumed you were referring to brick and mortar dreams. Dinner plates and no fork kind of dreams. To be taller than the Burj Khalifa. Larger than Paris at night. Heavier than orange trees and softer than cherry blossoms. Those kind of dreams. Or as you’d say, “aspirations” with a whisper.

I tried to say, that sort of hope, it died right before I had the chance to cradle it against me. Those hazy dreams hang on like a pearl nuzzled in the mantle of an oyster. That sort of thing is gone from me now though. Yanked apart to be enjoyed on sticky summer evenings with mugs of cold beer or frozen boozy drinks that are the color of crayons.

You couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to miss half of yourself.

I wanted to whisper back that not all dreams are about words. Not all are about buildings with amber lights looking like half full glasses of beer beckoning you to drink them empty.

Not all dreams are dreams- they are just there

faint perfume in an empty room
empty boxes in the garage
dirty coins in the bottom of the cup holder
cold coffee in paper cups
time sheets with the right hours
bottles of left over wine which you thought you’d use for a rue
but decided to drink instead
and the struggle not to strangle.

All of this, lumped into paragraphs
and neatly stacked sentences
to try and make you understand-

The best parts of me are hidden.

I am the only one
who knows the rotting hell writhing up from my gut.

The beginning of a short story I started awhile back.

Figures that I would’ve grabbed the one lighter out of the bottom of my bag that didn’t work. As I fumbled to try for a spark, the wind blows strands of hair in my face. The wad of money I’d rolled up from my night of waiting tables for drunk tourists stabs into my shoulder and I’m pretty sure I’ve got just enough to cover rent and a nice bottle of red.  Right before I throw the lighter in my hands across the alleyway, I hear a man ask if I need a light.  I raise my eyes, expecting another jerk off cook ready to bust me for dipping out of work early.  

“Yeah, I do actually,” I say, walking over.  He lights my cigarette and as I inhale that first sickly sweet drag, I notice his eyes. A pale blue, not quite icy, not quite like the sea.  Instantly my heart races a little faster.  He’s wiping his hands on his apron and his gray tshirt is greasy and stained. I notice the bottom tip of a tattoo poking out from his shirt sleeve and his hair is this thick mop of curls and waves.  It reminds me of the ocean, if the ocean were to move in slow motion.  

 
“You new over here?” I ask. “Haven’t seen you before, at least, back here smoking.”  I pop my cigarette back in the corner of my mouth, half talking out of the side with one eye closed so the blue haze doesn’t burn.  I hold out my hand, “I’m Jane, work over here at the Gumbo Shop slinging this slop to tourists. Where you from?”  As I pull the smoke from my mouth, it pulls a bit of skin with it and I taste the blood in the corner of my mouth.  Instinctively, my tongue runs over the tiny wound.  I notice his mouth at the same moment he watches me lick mine.  His bottom lip is thick and broad, much like a canoe and the top, so perfectly pitched into peaks. When he pushes them together to speak, I can only think of what that mouth would feel like pressed against my neck.
 
My thought is broken when I hear the bartender crack the red door.  “You skippin out early again Jane? Mistah Clyde ain’t gon’ like that much.” 
 
“Fuck MISTAH CLYDE,” I say. “Actually, no, don’t tell him that. I was just taking a break.”  I look back into this oddly familiar face in front of me.  “See you round Blue Eyes,” and I give him a wink before tossing my cigarette into a filthy puddle.  
 
The red door creaks behind me, but not before I take one look back and smile.