we only said goodbye with words

28 March 2008

when the animals were gone

oh i know that i left you in places of despair
oh i know that i love you so please throw down your hair
at night i trip without you and hope that i don't wake up
because waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup.

24 March 2008

when i saw the sunrise

i take things as signs and all. i look at how i react to a situation and use that to gauge...everything. or just some things.
we hadnt seen each other in three months and had barely spoken during that time. but the fact that, once i held her again and kissed her again and felt her on my chest again and saw her cry again and touched her face again...well, i thought, "my god, how can i love someone so unquestioningly, so easily, so undoubtedly, so naturally?" and i realized that we aren't really playing silly games and that whatever is between us is deeper than all rivers and roses. there is nobody i want to hold more or kiss more. or anything more. that means something, i think. and i don't know how many people like that appear in life. my guess: one. the tricky part is, of course, making the best of the situation and things. absence makes the heart grow fonder...i think i need to reword that saying somewhere. like...return from an absence will reveal all truth? i don't know. you know what i mean, hm?

i know that i will always love her. yes yes, i know. i still dont want anyone else in life. i hate saying things like this (though i think it all the time) because it just sound so blindly optimistic or romantically hopeless or maybe even a bit scary to her, but i really want to be with her. for good. or in the end. or whatever. however. things come and things go but she is like an animated statue built into my heart.

and on top of it all, i just wish that the last few months couldve happened differently. i know that things were bad and that she was hurt and that i was out of reach and that it really seemed like she was alone and i was free, and it may have felt that way, but that's the nature of being in different circumstances. i really just wish that i couldve somehow saved her that pain. but it's kind of like the sunrise now, you know? you look forward and the sky is beginning to light in the distance and as the sun comes up over the horizon you can barely remember what darkness is.

i hope you read this somehow. even more, i hope you already know these things.

09 March 2008

cuando yo pensé en otras lenguas (y el agua fría me trató de matar)

quiero escribir. yo quiero escribir cuentos tan verdaderos como los de hemingway. quiero poner todo lo real en lo que escribo. quiero escribir sobre lo que yo sé, pero el problema (como todo, como el problema de la vida y el de la eternidad): yo no sé que yo sé. o que yo sepa? no, no, yo sé, porque sé que sé estas cosas, pero no sé que sean. problemas existentialistas? así me parecen.
donc, je vais me mettre à écrire. ce tout que je peux faire, je crois.
palabras, mots, mili'im, words.
la verdad? o sea...hay una?
averiguaré, supongo.

05 March 2008

when it weighed heavy like a band of horses

sometimes i still think that there is no one else out there for me but you.

"but someone could've warned you when things start splitting at the seams now the whole thing's tumbling down."

man sometimes i remember it so clearly, so painfully, so wistfully, so longingly. how did all this time pass so fast? you seem like you're just behind me but also like you're forever ago.


07 February 2008

the implications of a dust buster

My friend left her dust buster in my room the other day. I have no idea what she was doing, carrying it around in a plastic Thank-You-For-Shopping-With-Us bag. I barely bothered to ask. Anyway, we (her very pretty friend, her, and I) drank a bottle of wine and she left her weird, modern art, designer (as I was later told) dust buster on the floor of my room. I didn't know what to do.

After a few days of it ironically collecting dust beneath my desk, I realized that my entire room has been collecting dust since August. I noticed it in corners. The corners of my desk, the corners of the room. I thought, "My, I wish I had a dust - oh." I unsheathed the mighty beast and stared at it, holding its odd, football-shaped, beautiful body in my hands. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to turn the damn creature on (it doesn't have a switch on the top like a traditional dust buster; rather, it has a conveniently inconspicuous button on its tail - where it's asshole would be, basically). Luckily, my intellectual prowess got the better of it and I was soon listening to its sweet, loud whirring as I ran it over every single square inch of my room, busting every little dust particle in sight. Yeehah! I finished, turned it off, and was satisfied.

And it hit me an hour or so later. I realized what I just done, and it got me to thinking: Can I really use other people's tools to clean up my own mess? I don't know. I really don't. There's a part of me that says no, of course not. But that's a very quick answer. What really matters is that my room is clean and free of dust. It doesn't matter how I did it, right?

Lord I hope not. Because, if so, life will be slow and long.

Either way, you know, I just stood there staring at my dust-free desk and felt relieved. I didn't give any thought to the fact that it was her dust buster, not mine. And you know, now that I think about it, it doesn't really matter. Someone's tools are not an extension of them. Tools are universal. They transcend the boundaries of property. It's like getting help. Someone's comforting words are intended to make you feel better, and what is important is the end result.

Anyway, thanks for the dust buster, Pia.

05 February 2008

when i went down to the devil's water (a short story)

a short story
"the devil's water"

The tide seemed to dance back and forth in rhythm with my heartbeat. The sun set lower and lower with every blink of my eyes. I could hear nothing but the rush of the sea on the sand and the calm roll of waves far beyond. I shielded my eyes by putting my hand flat along my brow line and stared out as far as I could see, straight deep into the purple-orange glow of the horizon. I don't know what I was expecting to see. A sign pointing the other way, perhaps? But I saw only the traces of the setting sun in veins across the sky. The light was like blood, in a way. Aside from the sand beneath my feet, the rush of the occasional wave, and the chill of the ocean breeze blowing the hair out of my face, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing, I listened for that familiar voice in my head, the voice that would process my thoughts as they occurred, the voice that would remind me what I'm doing, standing at the edge of the shore, looking out wistfully into the depths of the ocean. But I heard nothing. Only the empty echo of a thousand natural arrows of the sun fleeing beyond the horizon in confluence with the thin blood in my veins, pumped through my body by my heart. I could smell nothing save the salt brought by the breeze. Not even the clean floral waft of her coal-black hair.

I'm going down to the devil's water.


And yet everything seemed in perfect order. I can't think of how to explain it. But I felt like if I moved even an inch forward towards the dark, welcoming waves that I would disturb the entire universe. I closed my eyes and saw everything I've ever seen, heard everything I've ever heard, replayed before me. From my earliest memory to my most recent: watching from inside a playpen as my parents walked out the back door, my grandmother left to watch over me. I heard their voices promising immediate return. I saw their loving faces. I heard the echoes of infantile thoughts in my head trying to rationalize what I was seeing and hearing. I remember the clock ringing seven times and my grandmother murmuring a soothing song to me in a foreign tongue; then, following a sweeping montage, all was still; the camera steadied, the volume dropped; the silence was audible as her face emptied and turned; her beautiful, slender figure followed by her shoulder-length black hair walked out the door, and I was left with no one but myself. I heard the door click shut, her footsteps waking down the concrete steps outside my house. Somewhere a clock rang eleven times. It was raining. And then it was black. I do not know when that happened. I couldn't remember anything in between; my only consciousness after that was the streaming present of the beach, the sea, and the depths, summoning me with siren-like cries of rolling water. It was as if I had shut down entirely the moment she left, opening my eyes in front of the open, hungry sea. My breath echoed unnaturally loud, both within me and in conjunction with the sound of the lapping waves. I couldn't move.

I took a step forward anyway. I heard the sand crunch beneath my feet. I took another step and heard the sand crunch again. It echoed like my breath. A wave came crashing on the shore and the water rushed over my bare feet. It was the middle of December, yet my skin felt indifferent to the water. I couldn't feel the cold at all.

Why does the night sound so seductive? I suddenly became painfully aware of the fact that the tips of my fingers were freezing. I didn't think I'd need gloves. That seemed pointless to me. But there I was standing on the shore, staring into the deep expansive graveyard sea, wishing I had a pair of goddamn gloves. I know exactly which ones, too. They are red wool gloves with black horizontal stripes. There is a hole in the third finger on the left hand. I still don't know how it got there.

The depth of the silence of the night intrigued me like the trap of a beautiful woman's eyes. I couldn't hear the intrinsically familiar whir of a machine; there probably wasn't one for miles. A large black wave with a thick white foam crashed onto the shore, and I heard things. I heard the crash of the wave as it broke on the sand. I heard the wind of the night. I heard the dark, deep silence, like a diamond. I listened. I heard the breath of my flesh as it summoned cold from the air. Goddamnit. I heard the gods laughing in Valhalla, their voices echoing in the chambers of my mind.

I just said what I should have said a long time ago, anyway. I took her hand and held her face but like the sun at dusk she just turned away.

Look at the ocean. My god, look at the ocean.

Crisp. I breathed.

I tried not to exhale. I almost didn't.

But I needed to breathe again. Didn't I?

In that moment, I missed her. Goddamnit. My kingdom for the feel of her small hands in mine, her head on my shoulder, her breath in my ear, her body moving with mine.

I went down to the devil's water.

I took several steps forward. My pockets were so heavy.

I continued until I was waist-deep in ocean water. I thought I wouldn't feel anything, but I was cold. I was so fucking cold.
I stopped moving for a moment and let my salt water mingle with the ocean. I wiped my face. I favored ocean water dripping down my cheeks than my own pathetic liquids.

But why shouldn't I?

I kept walking despite the difficulty. I could barely move my body for all the gravity around me. But I kept walking.

I really thought I wouldn't feel a goddamn thing.

I hadn't in so long.

But I did. I felt the cold and I felt the weight and I felt the water churning around me and the sand beneath me. I felt all of these so consciously. I was so aware.

I think so, anyway.

The night grew darker and the darkness grew deeper as I waded further and further into the devil's water.

03 February 2008

ragged claws

i do but sing the love song of j. alfred prufrock.

"i should have been a pair of ragged claws
scuttling across the floors of silent seas."


life looks slower from this angle

yet the hours pass with infinite ease.

28 January 2008

when i burned paper

another short story i just finished.
"burning paper"

It was a little early to be drinking, but what the hell. Seriously. No matter the time of day, there's nothing like the smell of burning paper and a glass of scotch. Oh, fuck it. I threw my $200 stainless steel Parker pen, a gift Lila had given me when I got a story published for the first - and only - time, onto the flames as well, half-wondering if it would actually burn. I thought it would be oddly symbolic if it didn't. I know no one can ever really escape their own words or the reason they were written. I know I can't, anyway.

I pulled my black moleskine out of my back pocket and hesitated. I held it in my right hand, extended towards the fireplace. This notebook was like my brain on paper. Just destroying it, sacrificing it to the Gods of Tongue didn't seem as entirely necessary as the destruction of everything else being eaten by the flames. Technically it wasn't a story or any concrete sort of writing. It was just filled with thoughts, little poems, drawings. Some relics from days I don't really remember, anyway. A dry, pressed leaf. The business card of a restaurant in Manhattan I really enjoyed, with the idea for a story title scribbled on the back. A little note from Lila reading "Dinner 7:45, usual place?" in her small writing that somehow seemed to be an actual echo of herself. That kind of stuff. But then I remembered coming home earlier that day with my mind made up. And this little notebook was undoubtedly filled with little notes and memories of things her and I shared, thoughts I had about us, perhaps even something in her own neat hand that found its way into my little recyclable brain. So I thought of Hemingway writing Sun Also Rises (I don't know why that book, but it was the first title that came to mind) and threw the little notebook onto the fire. I'd already put thousands of words on my makeshift altar, but only with this hundred-some-odd pages of scrawled notes in a shaky hand did I really feel part of myself actually burn and turn to ash along with the paper. It was a very uniquely distinct sensation that I will never forget. The closest thing I can compare it to is seeing someone you love kiss someone else. Someone you gave your heart to give hers to someone else instead. It's definitely not the same thing, and I'm not calling that notebook my lover, but physically, that cold, shivering, sinking feeling that acts like quicksand in your heart, that's what it feels like.

I finished the glass, the ice cubes rattling around in it like a marimba, and picked up the open bottle from the table and took a long swig, shuddering at the gorgeous, warm feeling of the clean amber alcohol dancing down my throat. I really do love the taste. I don't just drink alone to get drunk. I enjoy the drink as a drink. I'd drink a Diet Coke alone, wouldn't I? I wouldn't call myself a cokehead. So I can drink scotch by myself and not be an alcoholic, right? Of course. Of course. I put the bottle down.

Now what?

I felt incredibly empty. I don't know how to describe it. I can only imagine that this is what the inability of expression feels like. When you have no more words, you can't express yourself. Standing there, watching basically every story or poem I had written in the last two years - every word dripping with Lila's calm, passive existence - burn and smolder like someone's best laid plans crumbling to pieces, like love falling apart, I felt this enormous void announce its presence within me. With each crispy sound of fire devouring paper, I felt the void grow larger as my words were destroyed by an all-consuming flame, far more outreaching than the one burning in my fireplace.

I had forgotten to open the flue and thick, black smoke began to creep out of the fireplace and into my apartment. I covered my mouth and eyes with my hand right hand and felt for the lever through the smoke; I found it, opened the flue, and threw the nearest window wide open. In a few minutes, the smoke that had begun to find its way into the room had vanished. I looked at the fireplace, expecting a modestly burning fire to still be melting my words away. But instead, the smoke cleared and the fireplace was empty. No ash, no wood, no sign that anything had been burning there within the last twenty-four hours, let alone couple of minutes. The only indication that anything had really happened was a bit of ash on my left hand from opening the flue and the fact that I felt like I had a million more words than before.

Before what?

27 January 2008

when i ate smores for dinner

i am here. i am back home.

despite the cold and the rain, things are looking wonderful.

good things to come? it certainly feels like it.

22 January 2008

when i sat on a bus and saw my life go by (a short story)

a short story i recently completed.

            I got on the bus at 32nd and Woodstock. As I was paying my fare, I asked the bus driver where to get off for Fox Towers Movie Theater.
            “Fourth and Main?” I asked.
            “Yeah, something like that.” Helpful.
            The doors closed, the bus lurched forward as the driver put her foot on the gas, and I stumbled backwards, grabbing onto the yellow pole put there for that exact purpose.
            “Watch out,” the driver said, her pitch rising on the first syllable. I grumbled a thanks, stumbled into the nearest open seat, pulled out the book I was reading, and opened to the bookmarked page. Every few minutes, the bus would lurch again as it stopped, picked up passengers, and started forth again.
            “Really nice homes ‘round here,” the woman sitting across from me said, her voice echoing oddly in the silent, half-full bus.
            “Hm,” I replied, nodding but not lifting my eyes from the page. She was right, though. I’d been on this bus plenty of times to know without looking.
            I lost track of the number of stops after only about a couple minutes. I wasn’t afraid of missing my stop. I was absorbed in the book I was reading and the music of the passing streets. I wasn’t really going anywhere.
            The driver announced the next stop and I looked up. It was right around where I grew up. I turned my waist in my seat and looked at the window behind my head, counting the intersections until the street I’d lived on. When we passed it, time seemed to slow for just a moment as I looked down the road I felt somehow abandoned by. I caught a glimpse of kids playing ball in the cul-de-sac, their parents sitting in some driveway, sipping away on some drinks. Not much different from when I was that age, really. I saw what I knew to be the roof of my old house, just the same as when I lived in it, only a different color on the outside and different people inside. I’d entertained the notion before of whether my old house misses me or the echo of my laughter in its halls. We moved out seven years ago and I haven’t been back to see the house once. My mother told me they left the front doors the same, though. She was happy about that.
            The bus stopped at the stop two blocks from where I grew up and the doors opened with a hiss. A lot of people got on. Fourteen. I counted. I was about to resume reading when I saw a shiny black curtain enter the bus and was instantly struck by the ferocious ease of her stance. Her back was erect, her legs long and slender. She leaned most of her weight on her left as she put $1.75 into the machine, its insatiable mouth, constantly hungry for coins. The driver handed her a ticket as she breathed a soft thanks. I pictured her blinking her eyes once, really slow. Pretending to read, I watched her walk by me and chose a seat towards the middle of the bus. And she just sat there. She didn’t take off her hat or her gloves or pull a book out of her bag. She just sat there, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Like how you sit alone in a restaurant. What else? I’d call her gaze haughty, but that’s not exactly right. I just can’t think of any other word. Her gaze was haughty, but without the negative connotation. She was such a part of her surroundings yet so incredibly unique. Her beauty contrasted with the unclean fabric that clung like the plague to every seat. It was grand.
            Classy. That's a better word. Or just beautiful, maybe. However overused that word may be.
            I could no longer pay attention to what I was reading. I was too distracted. Go talk to her, my head urged. But I’m not that kind of person. I’d have preferred it if she came and talked to me. I’m just like that.
            I stole many furtive glances at her. I’m sure she noticed. I’m not altogether subtle when it comes to staring at people. I try not to be, though, but that usually only makes it worse. I decided to not look at her for a while. Perhaps look at my book, look out the window, glance at my watch. Actions to make it seem like I was merely looking everywhere, not at her in particular, how silly to think so! I pretended to read my book for a minute or so, I leaned forward and looked at the driver, I turned around and looked out the window. Finally, I stole another glimpse of her, but she must have known it was coming because right there in my eyesight, staring straight at me, were two large, beautiful brown eyes, shaped like almonds. She didn't really wink at me, but I pretended like she did. I wasn't even entirely sure she was looking at me. Perhaps through me, or past me. Did she even see me? I thought about all the ridiculous metaphysical issues I used to struggle with; basically, Do I exist? I used to wonder if the world was still there when I closed my eyes. Sometimes I'd wonder if everyone else really did exist. Is this beautiful, perhaps too beautiful to simply be riding the 19 to downtown, girl actually here? And in that case, is she actually looking at me, processing and acknowledging my existence? And even more, recognizing the fact that I am offering her a gesture by staring at her and her then returning it? But I don't really think that way anymore. I try not to. I finally realized that it really interferes with any interpersonal interaction because I wasn't even sure if I or the other person existed. So instead, our eyes still met in midair, I gave her a warm smile. She looked down and smiled, her smile more like a smirk that really only rose on the right side. But it was lovely, it really was.
            She looked up once more with her head angled slightly towards the floor of the bus, gave me another coy smile, and looked out the window, her entire presence unchanged. Her hair, sleek and black like coal, shiny like a diamond, deep like night, hadn't moved; her hat remained lightly fitted atop her head, her blouse, sweater, and jacket remained as it had been when she sat down. I decided I'd wait until the next stop, let the passengers settle down, and then I'd go up and talk to her. At least say hi or something. There was no way to be smooth and subtle now, anyway.
            But I knew I wouldn't do it. I told myself I would and that I should; what's the worst thing that can happen? She (politely) asks me to return to my seat, or declines my advance, or tells me she is already seeing someone. Maybe she'll gently let me down and ask me to sit anyway, and we'll engage in a lovely, deep conversation about literature (I could use the book I was reading as a conversation starter) or...or...glasses! I wore glasses. I could ask her if she did. Or there's always the weather. Or how, with a combination of non-chalance and a good chance of luck, you could use the same bus ticket over and over again, just flash it to the driver, they don't care! Then I wondered if that made me sound like a cheap miser trying to undermine a decent, honest system that relied on the honor of its passengers. It didn't really matter, though, because, despite the fact that I knew no reasons why not to go talk to her, I knew I just wouldn't do it. When I hear the final tick of time in my head and the voice saying "Now!", I freeze. It wasn't that I couldn't talk to girls, or that I came off as awkward or creepy. I was just unable to bring myself to approach a beautiful girl I didn't know. The way I saw her just intimidated me too much. I was too afraid of getting rejected. I don't know why, really, because when I applied some pretty simple reason to the situation, the risk of gain greatly outweighed what I could lose. So she says no! Big deal. But if she lets me flirt with her, who knows what could come out of that!
            I mulled all these thoughts over in my mind, all the while listening to the muffled babble of the crazy homeless lady sitting across from me who was still telling about any subject that came to mind. I let myself actually listen to her for a moment and realized that her conversation carried absolutely no semblance of pattern. It was a messy conglomeration of obvious observances coupled with personal facts, about which I cannot imagine anyone caring ("This fabric is patterned! Look how grey it is! My hair is grey. My dog's hair is grey. Grey reminds me of summer because that's when I cash all my welfare checks, which are printed on grey paper."), inappropriately-placed greetings (I must have heard her insert "How do you do?" about seven times in the middle of a story about the mailbox she had as a child), and heavy sighing hums that came from the lower regions of her throat (these she was apt to pronounce at any given time in any given sentence). Blocking out her voice ("My god this city is lovely! Portland. Port-land [she sounded out the two syllables like separate words]. A-hoy, matey! Land ho! Haha! [she let a high-pitched, schoolgirl giggle] I've lived in this city since, hmmmmmmmm, how do you do, hmmmm? I was born. Yup, I was, hmmmm, I was born here. Hmmmmm."), I made a resolution. I will go and talk to this girl. At least find out her name. I didn't give voice to the mouth that normally responds with a "No you won't". To prove my determination to myself, I placed my bookmark on the page I had stopped on, shut the book, and put it in the empty seat next to me. I looked down at the grated metal floor. At the same time, the bus pulled to an unnecessarily loud stop and hissed as the doors opened. My eyes were closed as I thought about what I was going to say and I could hear a lot of footsteps coming in and out and the rattle of coins in the ticket machine. Grunts and thanks were issued with varying degrees of sincerity. I looked up at where she was seated, but she wasn't there anymore. Her seat was now filled by a small old man in an hunting cap and glasses, his hair nearly entirely grey, a pathetic little mustache that looked glued to his sad, wrinkled face. He was alone, his eyes busy with a book. I gave him little thought. My head spun around. I looked towards the exit door of the bus; as the doors began to close, I barely caught a glimpse of a gorgeous head of black hair sweep out onto the street to dance with the cold morning breezes.


            I turned towards the old lady again and stared blankly out the window, feeling a little emptier than I had when I boarded the bus. I was just thinking about seeing a movie, or perhaps finding a nice chair in a coffee shop and reading. As the bus struggled forward again, I looked up towards the driver's rearview mirror and her eyes met mine. She raised one eyebrow and turned around real quick.
            "Weren't you going to Fourth and Main?"
            "Yeah, I was." She looked back at the road. Cars were driving past and around the bus. I could see Pioneer Square out of the front windshield, sitting there complacently as always.
            "Well, that was your stop then, honey. Looks like you missed it."
            I inhaled, nodded, turned towards the window, and watched the city go by.

20 January 2008

pitter patter go my words

all these people drinking lover's spit.

fork in hand, i cut off pieces of your body and feed them to the lion of lovers, roses growing in his teeth. as my mother and brother argue on a far-off plane - the city street at night - i hear broken echoes of a scene i tried but failed to forget: you sitting at a coal-black piano your hair in loose, limp curls, pounding away, drinking lover's spit. your eyeswere like balloons in the moon - light and as we smoked our first cigarettes together i felt the ashes of my former existence burn in air, flicked to the floor by Time's forefinger. can you retain the emptiness of this atmosphere, or will we have to fill it with the skin of our hands, bare as bones? and i wonder what sound your trumpet will make come Judgement Day.

tell me, do you think these same things? are you also drowning in lover's spit? am i?

like an airplane stuck on the ground, i have nowhere to go. like a moon without a tide, i don't now where my feet will take me.

so i stick my head in the dragon's mouth, set myself on fire, and figure things wil be better the second time around.

11 January 2008

cars and telephones

a flash while you are getting dressed,
a memory that needs to be repressed.
i'll just wait until it's over.

06 January 2008

when i was on the other side

i miss what we were and who we were to each other.

30 December 2007

when the courtesan sang

it seems like it doesn't matter what we say, what intentions we have, even whatever efforts we make in the same direction. there's still this dead air that's hanging between us. regardless of how much we would wish it any other way. doesn't mean i don't miss you (more than ever, perhaps). it's just...my, how distant you feel.