Take Another Look











{May 11, 2010}   fantasy

Date: Tue, 5 Apr 2005 07:02:46 -0400
Subject: fantasy
To: dabblearouse@gotmail.com

cold abrasive chills running down my back like the last vestige of
staring at the black window that shouldnt be in my back room
i dont know which architect put it there
didnt they know?

IT DOESNT BELONG
IT DOESNT BELONG
IT SERVES NO PURPOSE

nobody was kind enough to tell them they
designed a window that doesnt look out at anything

im a window that doesnt look like anything
the cobweb the spider deserted
clovers tied and dried

like those ugly ass envelopes your ex girlfriend
spent all her hours making
just so they’d look so nice and good and normal
to hide the fact that it ain’t
to hide the futile contact that even you cannot explain- with all of your analysis and
dehumanization

i cant stand no more, humpty dumpty

all of the clouds i put for you guys to tamper with
it wasn’t appreciated
you ungrateful bird wing

so sick of everything making sorrow
so sick of everyone turning to numbness
to provide for them in times of crisis

apathy is your best friend
and i am just there to pay for your ticket to the white house
it’s still white, isn’t it?
i wouldn’t know anymore

time comes in short, short interludes between her wet face in the pillow

take a few grains from your stash, then
combine the numbness with the fantasy
what do you get for your trouble, applejuice?

my goodness, the reveries into
what wasn’t supposed to be, what
could have been

an abdomen turned
into a swerve that narrowly avoided the death penalty
once charged once fated once stated
the deal was not made

the plastic surgeon was disappointed
no work today
no turning people into other people

they liked to change the masks up
lift the cheeks, square the jaw
embellish the eyelids

how far can you change a face
what do you feel when you have to make a
beautiful person ugly for the sake of
witness protection

answer the damn question you sleeping curse
show a little respect!

you’d think that shelter would be enough but
hiding from our enemies is tricky business now

internet trails turn to coconut mango lotion commercials
the real thing is never exposed no matter the cost

keep my princess away

cant write fugues
cant write rap songs
all that i write

is

fantasy

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{April 16, 2010}   without

The way it affects you is so hard to explain. Withdrawal is like pins and needles are planted in every thought, exchange, and feeling. For example, the poor people who get on the methadone train have no idea how “subtle” and “pain” can fit in the same world so smoothly. Trying to pick up a book is an effort. Trying to try is another effort, and effort is filled with an unaccountable number of pins and needles. It’s not like a bomb on a bus but the absence of a bus at the bus stop. An absence of a clock when you look at the wristwatch that is supposed to be there. And nobody can imagine how it feels like until they feel it. Even after they’ve felt it, that shock that the world did not contain what it’s supposed to contain hardly translates into words. All you know is you don’t know how far you can go to prevent experiencing that again..



{March 16, 2010}   thrashing

i want to write a lullaby that is also a requiem… something sweet has to come out of all this thrashing.Something of music to myself, like Neil Cassady in White Collar finding the music box. But does he go all haywire when he finds out Kate was just conning him? We haven’t finished the storyline, and we don’t know for sure, and being a romantic, I still say Fowler might have her, but being the character and hero he is he finds violence banal and mundane. The cons who have known him taunt him, saying he never could get his hands dirty.

Back to the upsets. The thrashing has mostly been tonight. It calmed me down,all that thrashing, that it did, but my anger had no direction. Well, maybe one direction, one target, one I keep being angry at because of the things they don’t do, the precautions they don’t take, the truths they don’t tell themselves at night.. I’m not usually angry like that, and it was easy to blame it on the fever that took over my life, made me delirious, but mostly it seemed to overshadow everything inside my head and all of a sudden I found every good memory burned to a crisp. And so I no longer cared. I no longer cared at all and something in me wanted blood. I felt untied from any attraction I had ever had to this person. I used to care so much that I would imagine a shield protecting them, a soft shield enveloping them, and I would be next to them… or want to me. For a few hours I only could  feel  the bright whoosh that comes when you’re knocked out. The tumble of the sound of whooshing in my ears,  the sight of stars, and most of all the pressure.  A wounded animal is the most dangerous kind of animal is what they say.  The target of my anger only responded in a way that created more pain, and I just felt shame, the dangerous kind that tests your limits. Then I receive a nice reply from a friend, a friend that never had to try so hard to be a friend. Maybe we’ve had our upsets and our downs, and we don’t keep in touch as much as we should, but there is something different about my target that I feel that the friendship deserves a lot of time. Certain people, you can pick up wherever you left off. Other people, they belong in your life every day, and without that, you hate them for their absence. It might not be fair, it might not be just, but you know they aren’t even giving one percent, and how can you look past that, when you gave so much more, and would give so much more. And they can never look at the whole picture, think about how much they let me down, and how little anger I have expressed, and think for maybe one minute this isn’t about them, it’s about me needing to express my anger at them. I don’t care how they find it, and if the timing is inopportune then it’s their fault for not ever being available and ignoring every humane chance there is.  I think maybe there comes a time where I should walk away, but right now I am so blinded by the stars and the rage and the fall that I don’t know. I need a reason to care again, for it’s been taken away from me. And in its place is a beating drum, a knife, bullets, guns,  a kind of violence I find barbaric.
At least I am back at that stage in my life where I don’t care if the rest of my life is alone again.

I have blocked out the shrieking noises….And I have blocked out the idea that they care.. or ever did care and are nothing more than a loser.. Okay it is hard for me to believe they are a loser but I somehow lost something of heart when I burned passed normal temperatures… Or so I think… and the only imprint of the steps  taken are being washed away by the ocean.



{March 15, 2010}   Seattle

“You want a sleeve, dahling?” the barista says in his metro sexual tone of voice. I show him the tip of my brown sweatshirt. “Sleeve,” I repeat harmlessly. He reacts with a quaint mixture of how cute with it’s Seattle so it’s romantic and cool. Seattle is like Paris but instead of being about young love and young promise, it is about youth, illusion, and hardship. The promises broken, the naiveté shed, the days that repeat endlessly because you want your love to be more than a song. The hard edges come out, but the metal is the color of a hundred rainbows folded over on top of one another. Too many visions for it to come together. Graffiti too dense to wash over. The mixture is complete. Nodding Off Guy sits in a corner with his creepy stare, his jaundiced skin, and his battled veins. I’ve seen his face around these streets since I was twelve. Two asian girls sit with their calculators dedicated on solving a problem. A man with glasses and shorts and a big mug sits, wearing cache shorts that seem age inapropirate with his thin grey hair as he eyes a magazine, his square glasses stating “I must be an editor of something unimportant but recognized by a small number of people.” A woman of mixed descent wears a scarf and listens to music, her head going up and down. A girl sits on a couch surface, her toes curled up, reading The Stranger and cuddling up inside herself. Just another sunday night, the end to a start of a week. An old man with a hat sits down next to Nodding Off Guy and makes it his night to stare around observing everybody. The baristas do a quick sweep of the room. I remember the last time I was here, my friend saying “what a mix, oh, what a mix.” The music sings in a honey tone, edging everybody on with the lyrics “I feel good,” the song “I Got you” by James Brown.  I can almost feel Janis Joplin in this song but this music is celebration, and there isn’t enough edge for there to be a Janis song. Instead of “can’t do you no harm” she’d be singing “Oh you do me harm, and it feels good, what should I do?” This whole city is beating, it is a heart, it has veins all over the place, veins it doesn’t know what to do with. Veins that are blocked by cholesterol, veins that are blissed out by needle pricks filled with speed or heroin or both. Anything to speed up the mixture of colors. The city says, do it, do it now before you lose the chance. It is the place to lose everything because the next morning you won’t know what hit you or what you lost. The chances, they build up on you like drops on a flower until the flower falls over and the water hits the ground, splattering onto the sidewalk. There is too much color, not enough production. Too much possibility, not enough opportunity. Too much talent, not enough agents. Too much risk, not enough safety. There is a big divide. There is no stealth here, and everybody pretends to be a star. Everybody is young, and everybody can dress how they want. Everybody is immune to judgement, and nobody speaks to each other unless that person is giving you your coffee jolt. Only when you work as a barista do you learn about the people around you. And then you find that they need your inane small talk more than they need their java. You ask them how they are and they erupt. But ask the same person how they are when they are alone, cornered in their space, reading the paper or eyeing the room, and they will guffaw and find another chair. It’s just the way of the city. Don’t approach unless you are below 21 or can pass for 21, or are in the company of somebody who floats like an It-Girl butterfly, attracting party flavor energy everywhere you go. Putting everything into 3-d if need be, or giving everybody orange glasses to see the world from. People need limits, you hear? Just tell them to see it from one shade and you will be the babysitter that helps them as they travel within this acid trip, trying to make something of themself.



{February 23, 2010}   no bail out

Jason’s hair curls down past his chin. If you were overly ambitious, you might describe the color as soupy dark. In reality the colors belong to an old dog with grey, white, and cobweb-like black patches covering the skin. He shoots his friend an anxious look when she tells him how many benzos she erratically consumes. She tells him she stopped cold turkey and how her nightmares mostly involve people stuck in their own excrement being beaten, the sound of hysterical screams coming out of an attic, and the calm clerk coming out to explain that she had only two, no six minutes to get ready for her appointment and that her mother had left them a deliriously frantic message about how she could not, under any circumstances, be late.

The people had been talking about how Jason had “let himself go” and such.He was the perfect candidate for one of those before and after shots- he’d just have to switch the before to after abd the after to before. He’d gained about a hundred pounds- an effect of the Seraquil the doctor insisted he take to sleep. The doc didn’t tell him about this effect until the weight had been sitting there uselessly for about a year, despite the fact that Jason was an avid walker.

Jason also had several kids from different women. Now that they were approaching teenage status they all wanted to be cool the way he was.He wasn’t like the tightass grownups most kids had for fathers. They felt they could tell him anything. Jason lived in the moment.

“Jason,” the girl across from him asks, her smile fading. He’d been showing her jewelery and she bought two earring sets for ten bucks, with one more thrown in for free.

“I just want to do this cold turkey.”

Jasons eyes fill with hard fear and panic.

“You can’t do that love. It took me four months to go from four milligrams a day and look at me now! I only need one a day but I can get by on five a week.”

“I am tired of it messing with me. I used to have a photographic memory.”

She lowers her voice and leans in, tapping on her coffee cup. “Now I get forgetful.”
She pronounces the word forgetful the way a housewife with children would pronounce the word pedophile. The contempt is visible and Jason is shaken.

She sighs. She purses her lips thoughtfully.

“Jason, how come you always look so burdened by talkin’ to me? What’s the matter?”

A look of relief fills his eyes but the rest of his face still registers alarm.

“Cuz I just don’t know what to say! It’s erratic but you can’t go cold turkey you just can’t. Don’t you know how dangerous that is?”

“But it’s the only way that works for me. I wouldn’t know how to go down- I just know extremes. I take twenty milligrams at once and I still can’t sleep. So I take ten more milligrams two hours later-it doesn’t seem so much at the time. They are number two’s so it’s only fifteen pills.”

“Your body can’t process that much at once. It treats it like a poison, flushing most of it out so you can’t feel it.”

“I feel it. Just not until the next day..and maybe that is the methadone. I just don’t know.”

Jason looks around wildly to make sure nobody is listening. The girl, she don’t care.

“Just cuz you can hold your drink- or in this case pins- doesn’t make it advisable. Don’t model yourself on the man in the book any longer, girl. Aim higher.”

He hugs her and kisses her on the head.

“I love you,” he says.
“Thanks,” she responds, feeling slightly grateful for this open display but sorry she can’t return it.She has gotten so careful with her love these days. She used to dole it out to all her friends, freely hugging them and sitting on their laps. Then a truck came rolling, snatched her from her friends, and raided her of that feeling of carefree abandonment. When she returned she shook off their hugs and couldn’t stand their open displays anymore.

She kept her arms folded into herself, her smile turned downwards, her laughter locked away. Nobody knew how to reach the sonofabitch who was holding the key.

when she discussed a certain guy with Parker, Parker made the mistake of saying she had been held hostage. She never mentioned his name again to anybody. And since it was so unlike her to refrain from mentioning something that occupied her thoughts, nobody pursued the point.



{February 20, 2010}   it’s on me, bitch

She used to invoke fear in me.
That is how I can measure what steps have been taken; know how different things have become.

She approaches, begging for a deal, but it is all a play to her. She blinks her surprise at the way I don’t try to shrink back.She tries to blot out her dismay and bewilderment like a person who had their face tattooed while unconscious- when they awaken, in shock, they frantically try to remove marks that are there for good using any means at hand.

I remember how patiently I waited for her passed out mumblings to stop. How I would try and patch them into sense. The only time I relaxed was during the pauses. I’d gazed through her hazed, unfocused eyes trying to make it to her inside. I used to believe- that I remember. I believed in her rehabilitation and is this my fault that she hasn’t gotten better, that her tricks have only gotten worse, more sloppy, less in control, but she was not expecting me to be somebody that would make anything difficult.

Only I still don’t know how to fight and I don’t want to draw attention to her or pull hair or dig my fingers into her skin or kick and yell. I want to count my losses and go, the difference being this time I have no wounds to lick for she doesn’t yield the hot poker stick anymore.

I am the one! The one that got you kicked off, that cut the line from your cliff! I am the one who gave the police sniper the sign to shoot.

I wrote the letter that finally did you in. My words were the words that convinced them you were a lying, thieving, conniving terrorist.

The first time I saw Keisha I mistook her for a twelve year old cancer patient.It was as if she had no hair and we always met in the cancer wing. Her eyes bore out of her skull like a death rattle.Now her ass is so large it takes up the space of two garbage cans when she leans over and she wears glasses that are copycats of the ones I used to wear.

She remarks that my hair is darker and I remark that she is larger- you must understand she was just a small little thing, skinnier than a rod. She says something about she doesn’t want to repeat this charade of mine which has irony seeing as she used to call me fat- my my how we’ve buttered up, must be hard to get at that last button buttered up like a girl in a gingerbread house waiting to be stuck in the oven, you should be afraid for it appears you are ready. Her insults never had that kind of imagination but what they lacked in creativity they made up for in delivery. I wanted her away from me and I got it.

Only later did I hear there had been a bed for her in some treatment program- getting that bed would have been akin to the person from the ghetto getting a full ride to an Ivy League Institution. But my letter cost her the bed because they kicked her out of the program before she could get the bed. So, they supposedly caught her saying something in line about selling cream. They wouldn’t have paid attention if it weren’t for the letter. My letter.

Today she led me through a haze that turned out to be a maze. 15 minutes she had promised. I didn’t know what to do when she suddenly stepped on the bus, and my hands, burning from the bills that had been snatched from me too soon were what steadied me as I climbed on and fumbled for a copy of a purple transfer that was stashed in my wallet.

I hadn’t realized just how much I had mellowed out in the last few years until, in retrospect, I noticed that my heart had not bounced off the walls from wild, primal fear and terror. The kind she invoked in me every time she asked me for anything.I ended up jumping off the bus ten minutes later in a bad neighborhood, sprinting across six lanes of traffic to get to a bus going back in the opposite direction.

Screw the sister that was supposedly going to fix things and make it right- part of me doubted it would be anything less than a war zone. And though she kept changing what she claimed she had said five minutes ago, the words were not changing in my head. Her promises had not unwoven from thread to cheap plastic given the span it takes to turn the TV channel from one show to another. The only thing that changed hands had been money, and boy did it bolster her ego.

Suddenly she says the only reason she isn’t busting my lip open is because we have known each other for so long, but this could change, she warns me as she uses her phone to either ask her sister for a favor or pretend to ask her sister for a favor.

“If it is so easy, just give me my money back.I don’t need anything from you. Here’s what you claim you can get from anybody.”

“No,” cries her shrill voice as we frantically push the elevator buttons, looking around for witnesses and security guards. “It can’t be done like that.”

“I want my money back,” I curse.

As she continues to discount the proposition, starting from a strand of the truth and ending in make believe, I’m shocked at  the time I once spent in her company. Off to classes with people who do nothing but study and practice. But then, those binges of racing time, slowly melted away, turned into a composite that made up a year, or two, spent in the company of whom? Of what. A nice balance, I think. People who  live in academia and plan on never leaving academia, and people who have only ever lived on the street, who believe they can only ever live on the street.

As if one morning I randomly decided to study the make up of sick sociopaths: I wanted to get them to love me; I wanted to find a flower in the desert: I wanted to enrich the soil a little: I wanted to see if it could be done. I hoped they all softened under the radiating beams of lamps put up so they would not be forgotten.

But they needed to be hard to survive- it was all they thought and it was all they’d been taught. Their first and last lesson of every day, the steel had been drilled into them every morning of every day- show mercy you get your head bashed in. I forgot where they came from–

something they spend every dime trying unsuccessfully to do.

The only rush of achievement these people know is the taste of blood.

Too often it ends up being their own.



{September 9, 2009}   Night Terrors

Cameron’s trying to quit benzos, but she doesn’t know who she’s really trying to do it for. It helps her, doesn’t it? But she’s run out except for nine pills, which might as much be none if she can’t take them all at once. She can’t go back to the doctor for more.

She wakes up screaming. Again. She fell asleep around six am and woke at seven. It was only an hour but she thought it was ten. Her eyes were beady and black, her pupils taking up the entire space where the color should go.

Her doctor urged her to quit. Told her that her “psyche was being squelched by the drugs.” He said something about the drug taking away level four sleep. He said that it was like curing snoring by waking somebody up every time they start to snore: they’d start to go crazy from the lack of sleep. The drug was painting over her psyche. He told her it was common for people with abuse in their past to have night terrors.
“That’s what the clonazepam is doing with you, preventing your psyche from rebuilding itself.” Dr. Rayborn said.

The terrors weren’t in her file. She hadn’t told him that they had started when she was seven and that as a teenager she used to wake up screaming. One time she woke up with her face wet. Another time she woke up her roommate, who said that the scream scared the living shit out of him. He said it sounded like another person from another place.  “A death rattle,” he’d called it. Before that, her roommates mostly mentioned her talking as she slept. But all that changed when she started using downers. Anything to anesthetize herself. Then she could rest. But the real rest never came, only the illusion of rest. That’s what the doctor was telling her. Because she wanted to escape the night terrors, they were now going to find her with an intensity she’d forgotten was possible. They’d demonize her, tie her down, make sure she worked through whatever waking issues were following her around so she stopped falling apart during waking time. And then she wanted to be able to have a good night sleep when there was noise around so in between periods of going sober, she would take a whole bunch when she found herself with the person she wanted to be with, taking preventative measures so that she wouldn’t wake up. Even then, it could be a fight to sleep.

She went from twenty pills to one pill in one day and now the terrors she had last night were a bit much, but hey, do it all, do it all at once since the taper plan had failed her this time. She had tapered off before, almost painlessly, but now was too late to stack up a taper supply. Unlike previous terrors, however, she remembers a different kind of darkness in these dreams. She is not being chased; she is not accidentally causing fires, then dying. She is not  living in her own puke and cobwebs while bound in a hole in the earth, Bach playing in the background as she tries to climb out of a the hole of puke while somebody continues to throw dirt down the hole as she tries to climb. This time she remembers a tiger; she remembers a serial killer. It really doesn’t help that she remembers thinking “I really should remember this,” and went over the terror in her head before falling back to bed, even going so far as to take a pencil and paper to the bed and then accidentally falling back asleep. She was going to write it down but she fell back asleep. The second time she fell asleep it was a different night terror. She remembers being quarantined and needing to get out. She remembers the birds stuck in there. Those awful canaries. A fenced in back yard, and protocol said she couldn’t leave nobody could leave, but unlike her friend in the overcrowded quarantined room, she couldn’t even find a bunker. She was out in the open.



et cetera