Split

Prelude

 

     I take a picture of an excavator outside Newton Barge Playground in New York, its boom reaching over the Empire State Building in the distance—yellow poised-like-a-praying-mantis arm and I’m-not-afraid-to-get-dirty brown caked on the bucket-hand, superimposed on gray sky and green water. The famous art deco spire, Fitzgerald’s ‘lonely and inexplicable’ sphinx, apexing at the excavator’s elbow. I imagine one that could actually scoop up the Empire State Building as I see it now, the crowds jammed inside, all of the earth beneath. The inflexible tips of its hand penetrate the ground. Loud, loud sounds. Crunching, popping, hissing, metal moans. A perverse kind of Stendahl Syndrome sets in — rare tourist’s disease, paralysis in the face of extraordinary artistic achievement: from where did this spectral come? This impossible mechanical giant? Panic percolates: “It must be the Russians!” one calls. “It’s the socialists!” another. “It’s our own administration!” “It’s the terrorists!” The landfills split, water and trash rush into the city. I wonder if another consciousness, or perhaps thousands, just lived

through the violent flicker in my mind, an alternate universe, all those poor souls — screaming through a space-time rip…

…If this is the case, I whole-heartedly apologize to you, sweet brain people, for I am an ignorant god.

Split

     You’ve wandered to a bench, so I wander to a bench. We wander to a bench. Sitting next to you now, I hear lilting melodies escape the swing sets to our left in tandem with the sizzling combustion sourcing your lungs. You’ve sparked a spliff with an apple juice marinade, “tastes funny, but it’ll do.” The large shadow of a Hackberry tree trapped in concrete, crawls up the linoleum-tiled wall of a public restroom. Teal and turquoise. Linoleum on the outside. I think whether I’ve seen another restroom turned inside-out like this before. A lively attendant talking on her cellphone crescendos out of the bathroom, locking the stainless steel doors, and, after giving them a final tug, decrescendos out of earshot.

It’s 5pm and you are sizzling, sizzling, sizzling; puffing then exhaling such precise plumes, like you do. If I drew even closer, I’d hear soft crackles and snaps, firecrackers of static, tempo adagio alla respirazione. I’m working on a vaporizer, easier on the lungs or something. A young father approaches and pulls on the handle of the restroom while a toddler teetering behind him grasps at the base of her green plaid coat. Her necessity is tangible. He turns to her, outstretches his hand, and says, “C’mon, we’ll find one, soon, I promise.” Gripping her father’s hand, the toddler attempts bold, brave steps as they walk away. The shadow of the tree trapped in concrete slants downward, sliding to the left, hinting at the sidewalk. We enter the golden hour. Your father rises from the annals of our conversation. You tell me that he doesn’t even know you’re in New York. I dance a fine line there, encouraging reparations without appearing off side. I think about his vainglorious departure, marking marriage for you, his then 10- year-old, as an institution fallible to infidelity; an institution easily shucked. I think about the phone call you and I had the day before you met my family.

“I don’t believe in functional relationships,” you say.
“But I love you,” I say.
“You know I love you. It’s just hard for me. I have no examples of working relationships. Not really anyway.”
“Ok, but what about your aunt and uncle?” increased heart rate; hole in chest.

“They’re still together, sure, but they don’t talk the way they used to. They’re not the same. I don’t think they’re in love anymore. I don’t know. I’d hate to be with someone I couldn’t talk to, like really talk to and be myself around. And after awhile, what is there to say, anyway?”
“Yeah but we talk, though, I mean, don’t you think…” spiraling pit. “What do you want me to do with this information? Where is this coming from?” dazed. flailing.
“I don’t know. Sorry. Just seems so inevitable to me…”
“You know you’re speaking with your current, serious partner, right?”
“Yep.”
“I want nothing but your total happiness.” fool.
“I have to go. Everyone’s leaving now. I have to go. Sorry. I love you.”
“I love you.”

The toddler and her father are out of sight. Father’s promise racing against daughter’s clock.

     The crack of a skateboard and laughing youth ensconce us hooded invaders. We are the silent swimmers among such practiced waves: folks walking their dogs, business execs smoking their smokes, joggers zigging their zags. You and I snap pictures of one or the other’s face, like in the movies. In a week and a half we’ll split. But for now and forever I can see you through the lens of your secondhand camera. Smiling unsure at first, then beautifully, comfortable as my girl, my sing- song laugh-er. The shots come out better when you’re all the way in the shade, love. But I see it’s fun for you to play with the sharp contrast of the sun-line, allotting light and dark along your face, laughing a tune to our camera game. How trite how stark how sad how poetic I click and clack and fumble with focus and don’t say anything. You taught me a modicum of camera adjustments that I wield clunky. I think you called it the ISO: “See that little bar? With the sun in the– yeah, you use that to set the light, pick a point.” I designate your nose ring as the point of focus and light. Romantic me wants to show you you as I see you, “See? I told you you were pulchritude and art and here’s the irrefutable proof!” I need your image to turn out so clear that you will know the depth of your effect: “An absolute beauty,” I would have told you, “that, no matter time, no matter place, is absolute. If a rose grows from a sidewalk, so be it; if a wisp of wind tickles the leaves of singing trees, so be it; they are not absolute like you, they are not infinite like you are to me.”

     The shadow of the Hackberry tree escapes the clingy linoleum of a locked public restroom and creeps across the terrain of pavement.

You’ll leave me for you. I’ll leave you for you but god damn how I wanted you forever. God damn how I fell for you like a penny from atop the Empire State Building. A penny falling only to split my own, stupid self far below. First, through my woefully parted hair, then bubbling brain, wrecking ribs, heaving heart, the penny carelessly reifying internal organs as external before leaving two slow blinking halves of me. Trying to remember where the hell I left my credit card and what day it is and who I’m supposed to meet where with which deadlines in mind and do I owe anyone anything like money or a deed or a beer. I’m not so good with details, but you’re gone and I’ve got every single detail of us like damp grains of sand dried so stubborn: under my nails, in my hair, my ears my eyes, cast off surprise by surprise as first a week then months pass, the lucky penny still spinning on the pavement.

     Today, we’ve been all around Brooklyn. The sun is setting drunk, it’s getting cold, and the lilting melodies have changed. More than one child is now being pushed on the set – a symphony in the works! I open my phone app and start recording. After 1 minute and 56 seconds I name the file “Lilting Set.” I must compose a piece around it. I must I must I must, I think I say out loud, and I think you say yes.

     You’ll walk away from me in exactly ten days at a park bench in the Boston Commons, never turning around, not once, until you’re so far away that I won’t be able to tell whether I’m hallucinating movement on the dark, distant pavement or that’s actually you (dressed in all grays and blacks (and one bit of deep green)) distorting the dark, distant pavement. I’ll stand there watching you while another couple will sit, a few benches down, watching me perhaps thinking, “go get her, don’t let her go man, come on!” but they won’t know what I’d be running toward: a hard stop. a helpless position. a foot soldier in a war I don’t understand, problematically pacifist.     That morning we’ll leave your apartment separately. We’ll try to kiss goodbye but one or both of us will opt for the cheek. On the angry train to work it’ll feel like you had planned it for months. Slowly demoting me to “best friend.” Letting me fill in all those sad silences until, inevitably, I’ll say something banal that you can latch onto and file away, reason no. 47. Not sleeping with me until you have to. Until I do something desperately romantic. Rewarded with ever-shrinking treats.

In my pensive, tech-support cubicle I’ll be busy with the bike ride to Belmont. The volcanic first kiss and holding hands beneath your desk on hardwood floor; a shocking loss of self for both. Hurling Lady Maw, my long dead Bonsai, into the center of Jamaica Pond, cementing her final resting place together. Thomas Point Beach Campground. Too much tequila but just enough dancing at The Middle East Downstairs. Your laugh in a stairwell. All of us as us dissolving and fighting for more than, “Yeah, we had fun, but it just didn’t work out.”

    And finally on the hopeless train to meet you at the Commons it’ll feel like nothing. I’ll float over to the sidewalk where I’ll wait for you to split from the crowd seething out the pores of Boylston Street, and when you do we’ll float over to a bench by the Parkman Bandstand. Windy, the sky grey, you’ll let me blither and blather about what I did and what I didn’t do until the awful words, “well, so what, is this it? are we through is that what’s happening?” drip from my oh so far away lips, to which you’ll reply, not looking,

“Sounds like it.”

Swingin’

I like jazz. I like the swing. My heart don’t swing though, not today anyway. My heart don’t beat in doggo: in some kind of beat, solid time that is rough going, against the current, against the office window jazz to my right with the blue sky and the gray with the white, white puffs that look like mashed potatoes (I think of others who dig the mash like I do who sees it like I sees it in the sense that the simplest things can be and often are the most decadent like black beans right out of the pan or noodles with butter and nothin’ but). This thought relaxes me a bit.

Kind of Blue rolls over my skull like the list in the 1979 film ‘Don Giovanni’ roles out over the lawn as Leperello sing-splains to Donna Elvira all the women Don Giovanni had been with and how awful – just how awful it was he abandoned you, Donna Elvira, but you should definitely drop that love – it’s such a long list I mean look at it roll and it’s still rolling(!) infinite, look at the way it escapes the eye, Donna Elvira. Jazz as a forever lover, cheating on everyone, ha! It seems I’m a bit out of whack today because ‘So What’ does what it always does with the tingle the weight the smoothing like water but my heart still won’t have it like it craves a massage or something so I think about how that would look and the painful, true-to-the-name knots in there… Disturbed even further, I really feel the blood going in and out of my heart pump pump pump spasmodically and I think how, actually, I control it and that thought adds to the solid beat anxious because what if it stops and I don’t actually know how to start it, regulate it because it’s never been easy I just never had to think about it—–

Thump against flow. Thump against sternum. Steady thump, no swing.

Co-worker pops out to get a cup of water which means I have a few seconds to myself. I take 1mg of lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication. Prescribed. I wait. Sometimes the act of taking the pill makes me anxious, too, but not this time. Kind of Blue keeps on strollin’ through my park with the car horn jazz outside. Bill Evans is forever after my heart or I’m forever after his – I can’t decide. ‘All Blues’ makes me think about my own fingers on the 88 keys and I feel the why-haven’t-you-been-and-why-aren’t-you-right-now-practicing pin prick on the back of my neck where the hairs raise like the eyebrows of Leonardo DiCaprio acting a scene in which he’s supposed to be distressed but still kinda in control – that look he gets in all the movies he’s been in (except maybe ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’) – I HEAR the church they recorded in: the brass instruments tickle the space up my brain crawling the walls spitting back all the while I can see 100 foot high ceilings and I see them playin’ playin’ playin’ like they doobopadoodoo do.

My anxiety, clever little beast, must’ve migrated  to the part of my brain I think still unaffected by “anti-anxiety” pills. What a tricky concept that is, just by nomer: “Anti-Anxiety”. What if I run out of pills and I haven’t had the time to refill them (commonplace) so they have effectively made me more anxious and every time I get them I worry I’ll run out again so I try and make another purchase but the pharmacist says that’ll cost extra so I get anxious about my state of affairs and I leave white-fisted (little pops of pink-red) shaking deeper than my omnipresent tremor looking up my bank statement on my phone breathing and sweating like Christian Bale in that scene in ‘American Psycho’ where he kills a WHOLE bunch of people, running around in the wrong lobbies killing janitors and doormen and strangers in the wrong place wrong time and when he finally gets to his building, his office, sweating sweating sweating he, in a wave of relief, calls his lawyer and I’m breathing those choked up little breaths between murder confessions and how he ate some brains and tried to cook a little too – my how he sweats in that scene – but I didn’t kill anyone and I didn’t cook brains but I feel like I did and the consequence tidal wave is so big and blue it looks like the sky but I know that’s not the kind of blue it’s supposed to be; there is something to this kind of blue that blocks out the sun.

I can’t shake the pathumpatump – like – it shakes me, ragdoll me in the hand of a barely omniscient little-god man crawling on all fours towards his bigger-god momma, crushing me every time he puts his little-god hand on the ground – closer and closer to his god-momma who’s gonna tidy me up so I can play again after the little-god man has had his little-god man nap.

Then the lorazepam kicks in and the anxiety-god-people are gone. The sun feels more like a blanket than a clothing iron and it’s all just a bit slower.

Lines

There, that Stare there; guided eyes pop (after lock (to drop a me, a melting me,  a me, a me, a me)).

BAM! Contact like the moon-landing.

Stare lines up lines in foreground, middle-ground, background. Lines the open window’s top with the next building’s facade with the birds’s whistle opera to the lines besprinkled in her notebook. Oh, why? I doughnut know!

Lining the music-to-watch-the-world-go-by with the dance it takes to line ever-varying tree tops with raindrops streaking tireless across her ’02 Altima, she escapes. I imagine all this in black and white, a dog in the back seat.

R ‘n’ B heartbeat tugs me, the inch-of-antifreeze engine, up ‘n’ up.

We find tequila bouquet in the stairwell. Fresh-aired, dim-lighting courtyard is all lines, all around. Sidewalk delineations to the fresh-cut parallel to the mulch perpendicular to the roots reaching for our fickle shadows who cross them all, pressing on a vector helpless. I see the lines in her words. The lines designed by neurons, firing in that well-shaped, carefully-crafted —

— O! How I envy those neurons! Sustained by her thinks, her art, her creation; infinity treats. If I could hold but the tiniest puff of those thinks in the tiniest bit of these lungs for the tiniest splintering of time, I’d be punch-drunk and sustained, all the way down my line, doggedly craving a parallel, stumbling between now and then like a slam rescinded.

Streetlight Bathing

Drunk-again skin against coffee-blasted morning moments; those three words spilling like water from a wisdom-toothless mouth.

I could’ve know you, dancer, and your shadow, but my heart is tied to another. You, dancer, circling me, balance-beam steps carrying pointed, levitating toes. Stirring me in the pot you writ (with grace). An earbud or an invitation dangles. On your tiptoes, on your heels, on your tiptoes in the street light bathing breath in the air. A triangle from your base to mine. I could’ve known you, shadow, and your dancer, rising to tickle these city-ridden shoes and this city-ridden boy, stoked by your shrinking away, tempted by your rise.

(useless nothing)

Today, I’m a slowly draining bath tub. Clambering towards your knees. A grey-green mix of what you just sloughed. Can’t you just see yourself? Keep looking, let me crawl up, let me show you you. Yes, stay still, leave those orbs on me, you useless, dirty sponge you.

Yesterday, I’ll be a sink. Full of squalid, crusting dishes. Graciously smelling of what you wolfed, little piggy. I’ll be a reflection waiting when you wake, waiting when you get home. I like to grow, you know, so let me. Stare at me, stare at me… Aha! He gets it, yes, a statue to you, crusty, useless you.

Tomorrow I was trash, piling up on your sidewalk. You don’t know where I came from. I’m not even yours but you get it. You see yourself in me. Linger like me, pollute like me, come out of nowhere like me. Scanning my form slowly, you think I’m sexy, don’t you? You dirty boy. Join me at the corner so everyone can hate us, yes let me smother you. Mmm, yes, now you understand, you useless filth you.

Last year I’m a larval pile, gift of life. Lovely writhing, next to you, on you. Do you get it yet? Stand there long enough and we’ll take flight, dear relative, plant some more in your skin. Keep wriggling, twisting, shifting, you! Yes, sit there, wait for the water to boil. You think that’ll stop us (hahaha). Bathe us and bathe yourself from breathing, you boiling nothing, you’ll never fly, useless, writhing you.

Next week it’s a shot glass full of ash, cigarette butts and roaches, chilling casual on your windowsill. Yes, stay transfixed you. You want us to slither down that gullet, don’t you? You delightful, sick fuck, you. Yes, come smell us, ca-cough-ony that we are. Mmmmmmm. You smell our poison, kind brother, we smell yours. Ours is of the mind, like your own! Revel in our sickness and we’ll revel in yours. Drink us at the windowsill, you useless, burnt-ass you.

In a decade, I’m all these things, but tonight I’m you. Frantic, manic, hallucinating you. Think as much as you want, sweet vessel, I creep in those, too. Watch the shadows, see how they boogie, boogie into something darker, something watching? Yeah, look in the mirror you, that ring-eyed and greasy piece is you! Try to write, try to play, try to laugh, I dare you. I checked all that selfish, stupid shit at the threshold of the sun, winking you a modicum of luck as it fucked off. I lock the door and I draw the curtains. Yeah, of course your laugh is tainted! I feed on that, silly, sweet love, let me kiss you. Mmm. The good doc says we’re depression and anxiety, but really, I’m the truth. Inescapable self-loathing and paranoia. You bathe in truth, stare at truth, smell the truth, study the truth. You have to, you useless, white-knuckled truth, you.

Ass-Wipe

I’m one of those bikers. The kind that zips past your car, idling at the light. The kind with a nerdy little helmet. A backpack containing a U-Lock, an air pump and deodorant (applied thrice daily). The kind that has to swerve in and out of the bike lane to avoid the double parkers. Has to watch every little movement because people in cars become cars and only see cars and objects and insects (like me) over which they must reign almighty. Maybe I’ve developed a bias. (hehe)

Today, I got called an Ass-Wipe! It has been a very, very long time since I’ve donned that cape. My all time favorite is “Horse-Fucker”, but that’s another story. I’m lolling along a pretty popular street around lunch time, traffic level is low. The sun squirms through the leaves (tussled by half-hearted wind); little shadows dancing with the road. I’m approaching a red light when I decide it’ll be a lazy ride home, maybe I’ll take a scenic route, it is Friday after all, what the hell else am I doing? A car has parked in the bike lane and another car is parked at the light. I squeeze between the two at something near 0.6mph. I need to catch my balance directly at corridor’s end or I’m scratching up both cars, so I use my right hand to push off of the car parked in the bike lane. Freed, I balance at the light until, from behind, a car door opens and I hear, “Hey… what the hell do you think your doing…you…. Ass wipe! ……… hitting my car…?” I get my feet on the ground and swivel about my means of conveyance. My face must have brightly shown innocence because when I turned around he immediately softened up. An older gentleman, white everything (excepting the eyebrows – deep, rich black), tucked-in, blue button up, white khakis, dress shoes, thin black belt. He has greenish eyes. I’m guessing he’s 60. We are both confused and I stutter, “Uh, oh no, no no no. I just uh, it was my hand (raising my right), I can assure you I did 0 damage, I promise, sorry to’ve  done that, really, no…I lost my balance…” He kinda looks at his car, somehow defeated, and sits back down and closes the door. I half-way looked at him and halfway looked at the hood of his car, a black Honda cr-v.

My handprint in hot dirt.

Homies

We truly put everything on the table: cups of all sizes and shapes, pipe tobacco (in and out of the bag), plates of plastic, religion, a printer, plates of porcelain, death, weed, life, ketchup, salt, pepper, race, staff paper, pencils, dreams, pens…

I join the cockroaches at the table and even they don’t hang. They scatter, the bastards. I’m not going to kill them all, really, at this point their my cohabitants, my brethren. I’ve seen them and they’ve seen me. A system I’ve developed, for the sake of the scales, let’s me feel better about killing. I’ll kill one, I’ll let one live. When killing one I say, compulsively, honestly, “Forgive me, rest in peace.”

If all us bean-humans were to die, cockroaches would be one of life’s propellants. One of Life’s promising perpetuators. Maybe they’d get as big as us, or bigger. They’d be fast, organized and strong… freaky-smart, too. They have these little sensors, I swear, made of dark energy, surrounding their little (sometimes) bodies, that informs them of any peering eyeballs (plus intention). They always know when I look at them. Always. What’s more, they seem to know when it’s a murderous gaze (hint of rage) or a sympathetic glance (splash of romance). They either dart like oil on angled water, away from my river of anger, or they laze along the walls, cutely looking for some-sorta-shit-stain to nibble on, bathing in my curios beams.

I try never to tip the scales (skip the tales) because balance is everything. Who am I to play the life policeman? Who am I to think I’m eating alone? Who am I to think I’m more than a cockroach? Most recently, I suffer from a gagging soul upon eating meat. These intrusive thoughts of my skin and muscle flayed, being gnawed to the bone, kept bearing fruit. Thusly, I’ve been forced into a psuedo-cessation of eating meat. All my life, I’d never had a problem, I don’t know what happened. Now I’m becoming someone I used to struggle to fathom: a veggie. I bought a whole load of greens and grains and I’m working it out. On thinking about the nature of things and beings and I can’t help but think we should strike a deal with birds and wolves and fish and worms and study each other. I remember that violence and death are, have, and always will be, part of the balance; a struck deal wouldn’t last long. Part of the energy transfer; the life continuum. I still eat meat if it’s been prepared for me (shan’t be wasteful) and I plan to eat meat if it’ll help me better participate in and understand another culture, even if my stomach will bounce the check.