Posts tagged creative writing
Posts tagged creative writing
I wonder if this is what it felt like
when I was married
looking in from the outside,
fresh set of eyes
unclouded by fables of love
seeing through the promises
and conveniently timed
one-eighty degree turn-arounds
while balancing the feelings
of that one you love so much
but can’t speak the truth to.
Such a powerless feeling,
how did you do it?
Once upon a time
I needed to be alone.
I claimed it gave me
what little sanity
I could claim.
I grew irritable in its absence.
I wrote in its embrace.
Once upon a time
I thought I’d lost my words,
or just my sadness,
in return for finding
Once upon a time
I recognized that look on your face
that meant you had an idea,
and I knew you would write
and I loved that I knew you
that well by now.
Once upon a time
I wasn’t quite sure
what happiness meant
but it didn’t really matter
It’s that space where
your arm meets your shoulder,
where my head rests perfectly
and my lips reach just below your chin,
it’s the sound of smiling
that is immeasurable yet
warms your insides
in the most pleasant of ways,
and it’s the way that I can
when you declare
“I’m gonna marry you someday.”
She has a print of Salvador Dali’s “Sting Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening.” There is a naked woman suspended just above a block of ice, which is itself floating on an ocean. There are two tigers lunging at her, and they are captured at the apex of their parabolic jump frozen solid like the ice block she rests on impervious. One of the tigers is being swallowed by a fish, which appears at first to be a flame coming off what appears at first to be the sun setting on the ocean, but upon further investigation, it is a rotting pomegranate. I am not sure whether the Jonas tiger will get her, but the other one damn sure looks like he’d sink his claws in if the rifle pointing at her arm doesn’t fire first. Still, she sleeps forever, beautiful, somehow even more vibrant in her coma, framed like a Greek goddess, in that moment that approaches doom.
In that moment where the rot is setting in the background, the moon is rising out behind the stilted legs of a rather tall elephant who is carrying upon his back some sort of ice sculpture or trophy, and ironically, the elephant is deep in the background of the painting conversely displayed to the metaphorical shall we say elephant in the room (or in this case painting). She tells me, “We can’t hang that on the wall in here. We have to put that one in the bedroom.”
“Why? Do you just think it will go better in there?”
“No. It’s the naked lady. I made the mistake of hanging it in the living room at my old apartment, and some boy’s mother got all pissed off about it.”
I have to smile and remember that we are in the suburbs, and she has kids, and I am new to this. I have spent most of my life hanging out with punk rockers, graffiti artists, anarchists, socialists, bartenders, alcoholics, drug dealers, drug addicts, and more lately, academics. I was raised by a father who is a painter himself in his spare time and worships at the altar of Dali. I have never really known what to say around the sort of people who think art is the little cursive scripted prints of the word Faith or the word Hope, cheaply inked and framed in black in a factory in China somewhere and sold en masse at Target and Wal-Mart stores across the fruited plains. I cannot fathom what is so offensive about the naked female form, especially in paint, and especially in the dream world of Dali.
In fact, I would like to live in that world. Perhaps, that is why I have experimented so heavily with hallucinogenic drugs. I could understand on those drugs what Dali must have meant by his famous melting clocks, the illusion of time he is pointing to. I look back to the print on the wall at the paradox of both sun and moon out together. The tiger being destroyed by the generally harmless goldfish. This is a world where nothing makes sense, but it is maybe closer to our own world than we realize. Just a hit of acid away, or a gram of mushrooms to be there, and yet without the tour guides, I still need only to look at the paradoxes so prominently displayed in art to know at some point we failed in assembling our forms of logic. Or maybe there is no logic. Certainly, there isn’t any in the people who most need to see Dali but recoil from him as they call his work offensive and promise never to let their son come over again.
They said witnesses had mistaken
her blood for a red dress
covering her naked and bruised body
-there was so much-
as she stumbled into the
movie theater parking lot
in the northwest corner,
of metropolitan suburbia
last Thursday night
as the late show let out.
I wondered her name,
withheld by local media,
and grade level, a sophomore
or junior at sixteen,
I wondered if she was black or white
or brown or yellow,
I wondered if she was beautiful
before she’d been dressed in that gown
by that unidentified man
and I wondered if she’d survive.
But mostly I just wondered
how I was supposed
to keep my own daughter safe.
I’m recovering from the flu. Having spent the last 4 days in bed, I grudgingly returned to work today. Today was hard and today was long. The closing manager was nice enough to let me go home 45 minutes early. Then I got caught behind a wreck on my already long commute home.
I’d left tonight’s dinner on the counter for my oldest to cook for my youngest since I wouldn’t make it home until after dinner-time. I called to find out if she would start the pasta boiling. She reminded me that I told her earlier this morning that I’d drive through somewhere on the way home. Everyone who knows me well knows you don’t make commitments with me when I’m half asleep. I will not remember. Period. So we argued.
I drove through somewhere anyway and didn’t get anything for myself because I’d already been stressing about the amount of money left in my bank account compared to the amount of shit I still needed to spend money on and sure I get paid Friday, but rent is due then too and I’m owed child support from my ex and rent from my brother on Friday as well but neither has been very reliable lately, so instead I stopped and bought myself cigarettes and tampons. I meant to get myself some soup too, but I forgot.
I finally made it home and handed off dinner and gave my youngest 45 minutes before he had to do his homework during which I was already expecting a fight because there’s a major science test tomorrow and he hasn’t been doing too hot in science and this just wasn’t going to be fun.
I went into my bedroom and locked the door and took off my shoes. I stripped my bed of the sheets and pillow cases that were still wet from when my fever finally broke sometime in the middle of the night and I went to the bathroom and fought the urge to vomit, but luckily there wasn’t anything in my stomach anyway. So, I finally sat down and I powered on my Mac and logged into Facebook and lit a cigarette when I heard, “MMOOMM!!!!!!”
This isn’t unusual. It’s my youngest and he screams to me from across the house about anything and everything, so I ignore it.
“MMMMOOOOOMMMM!” he screams even louder.
I ignore it.
“MMMMMMOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM! THE TOILET!”
God damn it, I have to actually get up this time. By the time I make it to the bathroom there’s a disgusting brown mixture of water and shit and toilet paper flowing onto the zebra print rugs and the empty rolls and clothes-littered floor. And these aren’t nice and neat logs either. Where is that damn plunger? I sprint back to my room and retrieve the plunger from my bathroom and make it back to the offending toilet just in time to see the predicament magically fix itself and drain what hadn’t yet spilled to the floor as if there’d never been a clog at all.
You would think that would have made me feel better, wouldn’t you?
Instead, I burst into tears and thought about how the washer is still broken and I still need a new mop and I don’t even have any of those yellow gloves and how the fuck was I going to clean all this up?
I completely lost it and maybe it was just time I had a good, long cry. It’s been a while. I’m okay now. The bathroom is too.
“Do we at least get to socialize?” my daughter asked me as I waited with her and her friends in the massive line wrapped two blocks down the side street to get into the Of Mice and Men show last night. I was taking her and one of her best friends and we’d run into several kids they knew from school.
What she meant was “Do we at least get to socialize without you.” But she knew the answer would have been no. We’d already been through this. She’s just fourteen and despite all her begging, I’m not ready to let her go to a show by herself.
Maybe it’s because I’m afraid she’ll get hurt, because she’s at that age when the excitement is next to the mosh pit and the closer she gets, the better it is, but that’s where noses are broken and phones are dropped and shoes are lost and girls are groped and I just can’t let go. I want to be there to push the sweaty kids away from her and show her just how to keep her hands in front of her to do the same, or how to spot the crowd surfers before you get a foot in the head and which way is the best way to balance their weight when they’re heavier than you.
I slip outside for a smoke and a trio of young twenty-somethings comments on my shoes.
“My sister just got pair like that, but pink!” one says. “They’re so cute!”
They’re not special. They’re just blue Vans. The old, classic style, because that’s the style I still like. But everyone thinks it’s retro now, I guess.
“Did you come by yourself?” another asks.
“No, I’m here with my daughter and her friends,” I explain.
This opens the door to a conversation I’m now having for the second time this evening and I’ve long since been a pro at reciting. It usually goes something like, “Yes, I’m old enough to have a fourteen-year-old. Thanks I love that I look young, it’ll pay off when I’m even older.” Then it’s how cool of a mom I am and their mothers would have never taken them to a show and omg you’re up front with them?! and wow how cool is that?! I must admit, I felt pretty cool for the moment.
Then it’s back inside and I’ve got to warn the girls because the tall guys next to us are smoking a blunt and I know they recognize the smell by now, and this is why she can’t come to these things alone yet! And I can’t forget my own firsthand experience on what kind of trouble teenagers can get into when they go to shows by themselves. The kind of trouble you see in after-school specials, the kind of trouble you read about in books written about girls named Alice or boys named Jay, the kind of trouble that was sure to present itself at the good old neighborhood music venue, that was our kind of trouble. But some of us made it, and some of us didn’t.
And while I’ve certainly got my fears about my baby growing up, I think the real reason I won’t let her go alone yet is I just flat-out love taking her to shows. We always have a blast and I do believe that somewhere along the night she forgets that I’m supposed to be the dorky, tag-a-long mom, whether she wants to admit it or not.
“You know, every time you walked away Carlos kept saying how cool you were, “ my daughter told me as we walked to the car after the show.
I think that’s as close as I’m gonna get, but I’ll take it.
I saw my reflection
in the steam fogged mirror
for the first time in
what seemed like years,
I didn’t avoid eye contact
with myself the way
I don’t even notice
anymore that I do
until I notice.
I saw my face and
I noticed my wrinkles,
how when my face is relaxed
my brow is permanently furrowed
and my laugh lines are faint,
the crow’s feet now deeper
than the skin under my eyes
that hasn’t felt taut
in too long to care
but my eyes are brighter
than I can remember possible
and my lips are soft with use
my skin bears traces
of your fingertips that
only I can see
and I feel beautiful.
I can’t remember loving him. I know that I loved him only because at some point, it must have been true.
The first time he tried to kill himself, the 911 dispatcher had to ask me to calm down so she could understand what I was crying about. I was so hysterical because I loved him, right? I don’t remember which pill he took that time. It might have been the Klonopin, or maybe the Trazodone. Either way it was the entire contents of one of the newly prescribed drugs aimed at fixing his brain, when in truth the problem with his brain was his addiction to cocaine. Like a dutiful wife, I had him admitted into that rehab/mental health facility off 45 where he would find likeminded souls who needed someone or something else to blame for their failures just as he did. I attended family counseling sessions and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I must have loved him to do these things, right?
Once, during a rare absence of his narcissism, he played Blue October’s “Hate Me” and begged me to leave him. Hate me. Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you, he pleaded. That was back when I must have still loved him though. I didn’t leave.
The next five or ten times he tried to kill himself are a blur, the chronological order having flown out the window with his mind. There was the time he overdosed at the rest stop outside of Austin after he took off with the car and debit card when rent was due.
Or the time he insisted on going with me to my annual conference in San Antonio because it happened to fall on the same week as our anniversary. I’d tried to hide the pills, as I always did, but truth be told, there just aren’t that many hiding places in a hotel room.
Or, how about the time I didn’t even call 911? I only called Poison Control because I think it was just Hydrocodone he took that time and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t kill him and I was too tired to deal with his shit.
I thought it selfish of me that with each new coke and pill binge disguised as a suicide attempt, I worried more about what I would tell the children if he succeeded than I worried about saving him anymore.
“If it happens one more time, you might as well not come home,” I told him after something like the seventh rehab stay. I admittedly lost count.
A mere week later, one more time did happen. It’s still unclear how much blow he did that night. One last time of cocaine, pills, holes in walls, pushing, struggling, slit wrists, red and blue lights flashing in our picture-perfect cul-de-sac, neighbors gawking, and children cowering in beds. One more night more memorable than any in the ten years prior.
Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you.
Three days later he called from the hospital. I hadn’t bothered to visit this time.
“I’m getting a divorce. I already got a lawyer.” I didn’t even let him speak.
Hate me today. Hate me tomorrow.
Done and done.
I don’t know that I ever really
believed in things like
love at first sight or
fate and destiny,
even as a little girl
there was never a prince
on some far away horizon
and perhaps that is what led
me to settle for ten years
or to later fall in love
with ideas of love
and surely there was never going to be
any third time’s a charm
in my world so
I thought it was more like
happenstance chance based on
complicated combinations of
thought and time and space
that led me to the same place as you
on the same night and
I wrote away explanations
for my unguarded behavior and
you wrote me whispers on paper
but as the arguments progressively
number less than the months
I have loved you
securing the theory that this,
this is perfect,
I can’t help but sometimes wonder
what brought you my way
Surely I’m biased, but I think this is my new favorite.
I had never dated a woman with children,
until you, had never seen
that look of exhaustion on a lover’s face
that comes from making all the arrangements
for everybody else, that look that
until now I’d only seen in my own mother’s tired eyes,
and on sitcoms, and I’d also never
seen such pleasure on another lover’s face
that comes to yours
when I rub your back, and your shoulders,
and your thighs, and your feet—in between the toes.
I called you my massage whore, but
that was just an inside joke, which I have to reference
now as an inside joke as to not be dubbed cruel
or harsh or insensitive to other readers
who might stumble upon
our private-public communications
via our blogs
I had never known what it was like
to love a whole family
just to love one, and
I had never known what it was like
to receive romantic love
from someone who’s been programmed
to love unconditionally.
I had never realized how beautiful
a woman is who’s too tired
to care if she looks beautiful.
I had never realized how much that beauty
would make me
want to unknot the tension
with my palms,
and well, my most special of ladies,
while you may be whoring,
I like that you only accept payments
of gratitude and love.
fall over me. i want to
remember your skin like my childhood home.
i want to taste the santa ana
winds in your breath. i want you to knock
me to the ground when i try to run.
kiss me like the november sun. the one
that would clear all of the
smog from the sky. the one that would let
me see the mountains. let all of
the beauty be owed to you.
give yourself to me. all of your
cracks and potholes will be as beautiful
as the rain that finds a home in them.
i’ll find a home in you.
you’ll make mere nostalgia pale in
comparison to everything your eyes will
make me remember.
I could blame it on the hormones
that seem to paradoxically multiply
the older I get
when nature’s curse
makes its monthly house call
or I could blame it on a mother’s love
(in an almost sort of way)
to another’s child
or just a soul in pain.
When the semblance of sense
has been lost from the world
around me, far and away and
much too close to home and
I can’t organize my thoughts
long enough to understand
my fear or
how to even begin
and it’s times like this that compel
people to blindly believe in things like
religion because how else,
other than a vengeful God,
would you explain such horrors?
And it’s this God that people
rely on to give them
paths to enlightenment
or salvation, this blanket of morality
and reasons why
woven to make them feel better
so what do you do when you
don’t believe in such things and
there’s no use searching for blame,
no questioning of my instincts
to protect my own and even not
but it’s right there in my backyard
and the way to fix this
(is there ever a way to fix this?)
is just out of my reach?
I was fourteen or fifteen the first time Mom brought a homeless man home for Thanksgiving dinner. We were no strangers to the dirty underbelly of city living and Mom had always tried to give back what she’d once been forced to accept in charity herself. A prideful woman, Mom hated admitting defeat and even if we had nothing but a deliciously traditional Thanksgiving dinner, we were doing just fine.
He had a generic name like Bob, I can’t quite remember, and wasn’t very talkative. He’d become a regular sight on the corner of 19th and Heights Boulevard where he slept in the stairwell of that old bank that Mom passed every morning during her walk to work or our family walks to the grocery store (we needed all eight of our arms to carry the bags home.) Mom began to take him plates of food and he would leave the dish on the stairs for her to retrieve the next day. He never forgot and he always returned it clean. And this was how Mom grew to trust Bob, never really conversing with him, just the giving and returning of our dinner plates.
When she announced that Bob would be joining our table for Thanksgiving I was a little surprised. I recall us kids being uncomfortable with the idea and Mom being upset with our resistance.
“People shouldn’t be alone on Thanksgiving,” she said.
I was still too young to recognize that some people chose to be homeless. I always assumed they were just down on their luck, in between jobs, or despairingly alone like we were when we’d lived in the woman’s shelter many years before. It was not until I was older and perhaps more well-read that I learned that many, many things drove people to the streets, willingly or not.
So Bob sat at our table on Thanksgiving along with Mom’s lonely, prescription drug addicted boss and we had a lovely meal. And year after year we had strange guests in our home, Mom often taking risks in order to be charitable, to be human.
People often compliment me for what I’ve accomplished despite the many challenges life has thrown at me; my successful career, my wonderful children, my house, and I suppose it’s true. I’ve come a long way. But then I read stories of women giving strangers rides in the rain and I remember the many times someone else’s human spirit saved our holidays as a kid.
And then I remember how long it’s been since I’ve volunteered in any way and I feel sad. I realize I must not forget where I came from.
There’s this thing that I do
that I don’t ever tell anyone about,
this morbid imagination melding with
big-picture looking and
future planning so that
I wonder what I’d do
if those dearest to me
were to die.
I have imagined
when I’ll be the one
who must be strong and
handle the arrangements
because no one else can
and I have imagined the
necessary road trips
or phone calls to be made
and I have imagined how
grief will get the best of me
and I have wondered exactly
how long a leave of absence
from work will be approved
when the unimaginable
might happen because surely
the standard three to five days
bereavement time would not be
But I can’t imagine
or begin to fathom
the depth of pain
when your child, your world,
is taken suddenly, violently,
or any way at all and
sometimes I catch myself
what iff-ing and
I even make myself cry.