Friday, January 25, 2013

I Hope

I hope the tremor that breaks your rancid heart
Rips through you like an earthquake
Like an avalanche
A convulsion cleaving the blubber and bile

I hope the diseased flesh bursts inside your chest
And fills your lungs with your own putridness
As black as fury; as black as fear
As black as your conscience, if you had one

I hope your whole soul seizes with woe
As the air burns away and your bloodshot eyes go sightless
I hope you feel every ounce of life leaking away
From the arms you will never raise against me again

I hope God is harsh
I hope He is wicked
I hope He is cruel
And I hope your glutton's death is the easiest part

I hope you wake in a room of fire
Drenched in liquor that only burns
I hope eternity is hands around your throat
Staring into a pair of scarlet eyes

And knowing what it's like to be helpless

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Yellow House

There are days when the sun itself seems to sit in judgement over me. It's awful when those times come, because in here all is empty and cheap, but out there the light exposes everything. I can't allow it to expose me.

Not when I'm so like the yellow house. On the outer walls a pretense is made at dignity, even stateliness, but inside is corruption, cowardice, duplicity, hatred. If the rays' cruel fingers were allowed to rest upon my shoulder, they'd tear me open and the whole reeking carcass would collapse in on itself.

I want to leave this yellow house. And I never want to be a yellow house again.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Country We Live In

It's sort of amazing the things people will say in front of you. I'm not sure if they think being on the other side of an open doorway means you can't hear them or if they just imagine you won't care, but every once in a while I'll encounter a bit of indiscretion that completely floors me.

"Obama's tryin' to take the assault rifles," one of the greasy men drawled to the other. They were repairing my car as they talked, and it occurred to me that both the manner and substance of their conversation did not necessarily need to materialize in an auto shop in Mountain Town. Their dialect, a vaguely drawn-out twang shared by workingmen from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains, might have popped up anywhere across the American continent, as might the faux-libertarian sentiment that accompanied it.    

"He's tryin' to override the Constitution," one of them informed the other with all the solemnity of the completely uneducated. "And I heard some Republican senators were saying, 'It ain't gonna happen.' You know, he already raised all the taxes with that fiscal cliff."

I exhaled through my nose but kept my mouth shut. This wasn't my fight and there was nothing I could say that would change these men's minds.

When they came into the room where I was waiting, though, they continued.

"What we need," said one to the other. "Is another Lee Harvey Oswald."

He grinned the way a grandfather might grin at a small child awaiting a present. It all just seemed so damn pleasant, this talk of our president being violently murdered, and I was reminded once more how deceptive the South can be. It is a land of natural beauty prone to economic privation. It is a land whose residents imagine themselves courteous but whose knowledge of actual courtesy stops at the words "sir"and "ma'am" (never, incidentally, "madam"). It is a land whose political culture extols democracy but whose politicians exploit a deep undercurrent of petty fascism. And it is a land where extremism can appear less virulent than it really is because it is shared by so many.

"Lee Harvey Oswald?" I asked, finally unable to hold my tongue. "Are you talking about the new book on him? Is that what it is?"

One looked at the other and smiled.

"Yeah," he said. "I heard there was a new book."

I wonder what they must think of me? I'm tall and thin in a region of walking sows, with long hair and a delicate face and an accent that to them must sound somewhat foreign. I can't imagine they see me as one of their own. So what had they been thinking?

"You know," the first one said, looking at me with contrition. "Obama wants to roll over the Constitution and that's not right. You can't do that."

In an instant he was remorseful, then genial and talkative again. But his true feelings were still there, just beneath the surface. Just waiting to come out.

These people and the overlords who profit from them will never simply allow us to enact finance reform, or gun safety, or marriage equality, or anything else that this country needs to move forward. They are the same men who fomented Jim Crow. They are the same men who invented the term "right to work." They are the same men who propagated massive resistance when the Supreme Court had the audacity to state that black children and white children were equal.

We sometimes forget, in this comparatively tranquil era, that the civil rights movement was not won with words. The North did not transform the South through compromise and agreement; it transformed it through force. And when the public high schools of Little Rock, Arkansas were at last integrated, it was at the bayonet tips of the 101st Airborne. The duplicitous forces of conservatism have never willingly given us anything. Each time, in all matters, we've taken it.

That's something to remember now.

Monday, January 14, 2013

He Has a Problem

On the eve of my mother's departure to Growing State for a business trip, I had tucked Pie in and was telling her an absurd bedtime story that involved my sister and the band One Direction working together to defeat a sorceress named Evileeni.

"And then," she interjected. "After we break the spell, Kelly Clarkson should fall off the stadium and be like, 'Hey, y'all, I broke my leg!'"

She dissolved into giggles and nuzzled her face into the pillow. She's small for nine but can make uncannily adult observations. It's a trait I like.

"BB, after this I'm going to go and get into Mommy's bed."

"You are not, Ding Bat. You're sleeping in your own bed tonight."

"But it's my last night with her!"

"Yeah, for one night," I rejoined. "Nice try, bum."

She sighed.

"There's no way I'm going to survive with only Dad here."

I restrained a smile.

"Pie, it's only for one day. And you know, Dad's not so bad."

The truth, of course, is that Dad is so bad, but I wasn't about to tell her something she'd figure out within a few years anyway.

"Yeah, well, I think he has like, problems."

I straightened up.

"What kind of problems?"

I didn't want to dismiss what she was saying but didn't want to suggest anything, either. I let her talk.

"Like, he just doesn't know how to take care of certain things."

"Like what?"

Her face screwed up in the expression of faux alarm that only a nine-year-old can manage.

"Like, a child!"

Monday, January 7, 2013

The First Morning of the New Year

I stumbled into the kitchen at a little past 9:30 in the morning, but for how tired I was it might as well have been dawn. I nodded in the general direction of False Hungarian.

"Hey," I croaked.

I call her False Hungarian, by the way, not because she is a Hungarian but because, with her creamy complexion and long brown hair, she looks like one. In a house full of the people of the moo-cow, that can be confusing.

She looked down at the grime-covered tile floor, on which a beach ball improbably rested, then at the tubs of wine and broken shot glasses that filled the sink.

"My house..." she whimpered. "What happened to my house?"

Our eyes met and and laughter roiled unbidden from our chests.

I'm not really sure why half of what happened that night happened. I'm not sure why the television was covered with Silly String or the bathroom with crime scene tape or the floor with people, many of whom were inexplicably passed out next to empty couches. As they woke up and staggered to their feet, they marveled with us at the wanton destruction visited upon False Hungarian's place of residence by a group of people who claimed to be her friends.

"There's glitter stuck to this table," White Mexican muttered. "I need something to pry it off."

"Here." I handed her a stainless steep spatula.

"Where'd you get this?"

"I don't know."

She began to scrape at the surface of the table, whereupon one of the legs promptly fell off.

"Um, False Hungarian..."

Our hostess turned a corner and started cackling with something that, I suspected, bordered on desperation.

"It's okay," she insisted. "If I just look at the ceiling then everything is clean! Everything is...wait a minute. Is that a fucking footprint?"

If one thing's clear it's that fun was had. Maybe a bit too much fun, if we're being honest about it.

"Listen, False Hungarian," I said. "I'm sorry, but I think I broke into your roommate's room."

"Oh, I bet he loved that."

"Not really. He told me to get the fuck out and I said, 'Why? Are you hiding sex slaves in here?'"

"BB, we really need to hang out more."

Elegant Girl, looking immaculate even though she'd just woken up still drunk, joined us around noon and with characteristic grace pronounced, "Please tell me I didn't have sex with anyone last night."

"No," False Hungarian reassured her. "You actually slept with me and BB."

"Yeah, and you're the worst bed-hog ever," I said. "You like, beat the shit out of me."

Elegant Girl is about five feet tall, with a slender carriage and a diminutive smile.

"Oh, I'm sure I didn't do that."

"You did, though. You kicked me in the back. And when I complained about it you said, and I quote, 'It's okay. Just move the fuck over.'"

She was a picture of innocence as she covered her giggling mouth, but something about the glint in her eyes told me I wasn't her first victim.

As we continued cleaning the devastated home we found the kinds of gems that can only be discovered after a rocking New Year's Eve party. Among the more noteworthy finds were several unopened bottles of champagne--"There's literally enough here for another party," False Hungarian noted--and a few lost memories that would have done better to remain forgotten.

"Hey, man, I'm sorry that I burst into your room last night," I said when False Hungarian's roommate came up.

"Yeah," he said. "You came back."


"You came back. You tried to steal my pillows and said you needed them to 'stop the Muslim invasion.'"

"Well, now you're just being silly."

Every now and again it's nice to just have a blow-out wherein you release everything that's been pent up. My worries, my frustrations, my loneliness, all went away for a bit. And in the company of friends I was reminded that, whenever I pull myself out of whatever it is I'm in, I'll have something waiting for me on the other side.

That's good to know.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year It Is

Last year may not have been the greatest, but I don't think I could have rung this one in any better way. It was a night of glitter and disco balls, of Belgians and wine shots and slanderous infamy.

The absurdity that was this party needs (and will have) its own post, but the gist of it is that I began 2013 with old friends who are growing dearer and new acquaintances who are becoming something more.

All in all, not too bad.