Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thoughts on a rainy Thursday afternoon after too much time roaming in my own head:

A Ghost In My Head

I’ll give you my quiet thoughts

but be careful with them

They are small

and piercing and sudden and about you

I’ll give them away one breath at a time

just drop them in your hands


I am made of little pieces

pretend I’m made of glass

I am see-through and shy

and looking at you

a heartbeat at a time

against the palm of your hand

This afternoon the rain soaked my pants and pissed me off, watered down my coffee, and blinded me wherever I went.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The things I think when I don't know what to think, and some of my old thoughts all over again:

I am looking for something simple and small
something priceless to fit inside my hand
like a heartbeat or a breath

I want something smooth on my skin
I want the whole world in a moment
just like a kiss, a real kiss

Cruel like the end of happiness I watch summer pass
I am looking for something simple and small
like secrets that started as whispers
that I've worried into pearls

Leaves are falling and I look for patterns in my words
I watch September's light fade
and notice all my butterflies are gone


Lily and I sit here in the basement while the other dogs sleep and listen to a mouse nibble in the shadows.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To a demon in the dark who turned to face me...

In the shadows on your cheeks and pool of blue in your eyes I see a song with holes in it where love could fit.

We are not everything all at once, I said. We are bits and pieces. We are dreams that come true. We are a little at a time.

Closer to me he wrapped his fingers through mine. I won't seduce you, he said.

Couldn't I beg a little, I thought.

He let my fingers go.


Autumn came and quickly took the light way. Leaves fell and I sought a cadence that I had lost.

I took my dogs in the forest and found stones dark with dew, weeping.

I see gold and black flashes of fur where Lily runs and I rush across uneven ground to find her.

Dying daylight turns her brown eyes to honey.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Her skin looked like a California summer where she stood with her grin pressed against me. A flash lit us and our eyes sparkled for a little moment at happy hour, then she was gone.

The things I think that go nowhere:

Sometimes I can't hear the lilt anymore.

Keeping little secrets like pearls in my pocket.

I never dreamed of falling in love, and I never played with Barbie.

Sometimes life doesn't feel right and I wonder where I am.

I couldn't write tonight. I was too annoyed.

I told my sister that the butterflies were gone.

You're haunting me, I told him; I couldn't breath when you came in.

Kids run around in their beat up cars with expensive clothes and ugly perfume and uglier thoughts, but don't get it that passion does not come in standard shift or a crappy cologne bottle. It comes by surprise. I love surprises.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Standing in a book store staring at the spines, Jerry asked, have you read this one?

I looked at the title and cover and remembered a friend with a bottle of Jagermeister and his guitar and said, wow. I haven't thought about that book in a long time. Tim had meandered through parties stepping past fawning girls with his shot glass, pausing. Have some of this, he would say, and they leaned toward him and laughed and smiled and did not care if their shirts gaped in the front or if their hair dragged across his hand as he poured them a mouthful.

Jerry laughed, you haven't thought about it? You think about books?

It's like meeting someone, I said. You remember them and where you are in your life…It's like meeting a person, except it's not a person, it's just a book…


I stood in the shower with a beer and watched mud wash off my skin. In soft shorts and a fresh shirt I sat with a book in the corner on a rented couch in a rented cottage and had nothing of my own but my time and a St Pauli Girl beer.

I read and I missed him and the book saved me. I read and forgot about a month ago when I lived with my boyfriend and I had no idea that when we stood in cool sand and watched another sun sink in the brine, that we saw different things ahead when the summer ended.

In my mind we tore out classified ads and called around town for a new rent. In his mind he was unpacking his things at Danielle's house and had not told me yet.


Jerry and I sat with our drinks and watched people wander along Shelton's sidewalks, and I said again, yes, I remember reading some books. I remember where I was and what it meant to me to have something waiting when I got home.

He said, my mother sent me a book when I was in the service and I couldn't wait for my half-hour lunch break so I could read. I was lost when I finished that book.

I know, I said.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Now and then, again

My heartbeat filled my ears. The light was right and I saw silky, slow thoughts, but I closed my eyes. He was trouble at less than an arm's length. He was a long time ago and he was now. I turned to change the song.

In late September alone in the basement I remembered that a demon's fingers had touched me. Fingertips across bare skin.

Today in the woods in the rain the leaves whispered. Pooled groundwater flashed silver under the sky.

I heard him as I crossed a path, wiped water from my face, and lost the leaves' tinny words as rain hit harder and ran off the rocks.

His echo keeps me company. His soft-spoken words are everywhere.

Standing on a crest with Lily's empty collar in my hand I called her name. She darted after a squirrel, a scurrying sound, or nothing at all, and left me perched on glacial stone that had cracked beneath ice for decades.

I ran to a place where summer heat had dried spring's vernal pool and found deep pockets in the hollow. Dogs circled the edges. I remembered one day staring past forever, then locking the door before I could breath.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I said goodbye to him a few times and even kicked him out.

At the top of the apartment stair where my bare feet stuck to old linoleum he yelled, I have friends around here.

Who? Then go there, I answered.

The front door banged and I sat down, feeling lighter and hopeful and I poured a drink.

Hours later I smeared tears off my face and caught my profile in the mirror. I didn't look like someone who was going to be yelled at anymore.

I edged through dancers writhing with booze and loud music and saw him at the bar. Concerned now and feeling guilty, I went to talk to E. and he turned away.

A day later I was with a friend and said we split. We're done. I didn't think I could but I did and it's done. The words are already out.

Oh, he said.

I went to my bar, also E's bar, and saw him at the jukebox and he was looking at me.

Long night on Dave's couch, I asked.

I wouldn't do it to you, he said.

That was the first split, but I didn't kick him out anymore. One night he woke up caught in a coma of Johnny Walker and soda and peed on the mirror. I cleaned it up and shoved him in bed. In the morning he poured cream in his coffee and asked if I wanted to ride out to the flea market.

His eyes looked bad, tired and old and his hair sat flat on one side where the sun slapped harsh light against his boozy face.

Why did you pee on the mirror, I asked?

his aunt died and left her house to him and he still lingered in my apartment with his recliner and the TV, not budging without me. Around him were dents in the rug where his sofa had been and a TV stand. Everyday something disappeared while I was at work. The closets were full of hangars and grit. The bathroom shelves bare down to their rusty bottoms.

I stepped across the living room and looked at E with his remote and low volume, and not looking back at me.

E. Are you waiting for me to come with you?

I guess.

I am staying here.

Visits to his house after that were awful, except for one morning that is the coldest day I can remember. Starting up the Celica was tough and sunlight skipped across fresh snow so frigid its flakes were a white, flat powder under a deceiving sky filled with a buttery sun. Wind pushed a fine mist of snowy grains in the air and I looked at his bedroom window but didn't see his face.

At work M called me. Sobbing, she said, your boyfriend just hit me. He reached in the car and smacked me.

M? Why, what happened?

I guess I was late!

She sold him his fix, and most of his paychecks went to her. I never realized how bad his habit was, or how dependent he had become on the small plastic bag with white powder trapped and tied in the corner. But I knew he didn't like waiting.

Just leave there M. Don't talk to him again. Don't answer his calls.

He threw me around his living room one afternoon in the spring and I was done for good. This one isn't on you, he said. It's on me.

At a benefit party a few years later he told me he was sorry, but I think he knew a different kind of end was coming. I couldn't feel it, a few days before Halloween with a drink in my hand, but he saw dark shapes that waited for him in the shadows.

Cancer took him a few years later and last summer I got a message that E had died. I looked for his obituary, never expecting to see that he was really gone. Across a field of uneven stones and a mausoleum under repairs I found his name etched on a plate that was set in the grass between his father and brother. Goodbye E.

For some reason, the past is on my mind lately.

As summer lets go of the air and an early fall brightens the asters and goldenrod, I march through a field chasing my dog. Looking at my past I realize I couldn't see here from there, or even imagine it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

One night I was suddenly weightless and blood rushed in my ears. I drank too much wine and kept my hands busy, talking about anything.

Untouchable things thrilled me as I daydreamed and looked for songs on the radio, wondering about the little bites temptation takes from our hard-earned souls.

I don't know much about demons, but I'll guess they look like me, filling up with Cabernet after midnight in the dark and stepping out of shadows to change the music.

Nothing is like the sensation of falling, and I walked with it inside me for days.


I lost my soul once -- it slipped briefly from my mind in a motel room, as if the supermarket rose B. left on the comforter would be enough…

I remembered my apartment's tall plaster walls and E's recliner in the corner where he sat, loaded on pain pills after crashing off a ladder. He laughed and slapped the brace on his leg and his crutches and said, don't hurt me, I am just an old man.

Yes he was, and I already had.

I need to say something to you. I cheated, I said.

Since then I know the kind of girl I want to be, and that should solve everything.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thoughts on bad smells in the office and good-feeling weddings--

So sick of perfume as thick as peanut butter that folds me in its wake as I follow H. up the stairs.

Wrapped in a shroud of her sticky imitation scents I sit at my desk and breath through my shirt until the taste of her aroma fades. I was stuck behind her hips. They were swinging and throwing her skirt from side-to-side, nylons whispering together each step of the way. Such a slap compared to the morning. I had showered and walked wet-headed in the sun that brightening late summer flowers.

A butterfly tumbled on the breezes with paper wings and magic, hovering near purple blooms. Hostas opened droopy petals with aromas of faint honey, unlike fake scents from a supermarket can.

Looking at pictures…A bride dances in pearls at a war veterans hall beside pool sticks on the wall. Her groom gazes and a young girl with frosted hair wipes her eyes while the wedding song plays. Beautiful memories set their first stitches in their hearts.

The wedding party poses outside, squinting in sunlight and smiling as new in-laws watch out a window. I love them all -- laughing in sunshine on the lawn as traffic pulls its indifferent drivers along with their tepid coffee curdling in cup holders, mean hangovers pounding on another Saturday afternoon of errands and regrets for last Friday night -- oblivious to the happiness at the veterans hall, the yard dressed up with white veils and rose petals before an awning where promises and grasping hands mingled. With wedding rings and tears in their eyes the bride and groom were starting something new.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Her dress swung with promises of love and forever while her daughters twirled its train in an out-of-focus blur. With Jack Daniels in her shot glass and her hair curled and sprayed, the bride toasted with her sisters, laughed, and hid her beer while I took a picture.

Watching her mother lean against the groom, the bride's daughter wiped away tears and said, if you can't deal with her at her worst, then you don't deserve her at her best.

I shot the wedding and left them in a hall filled with people who would love them forever or until the day ended or until the next fight, and wondered how many people had heard her daughter's little, muffled, tear-soaked words.

I looked at the photos later and watched the groom's face -- a face I knew -- and was sure they would last.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I don't miss you anymore.

You came home sweating, heart pounding, and smelling like gin and tonic.

I pressed my hands against you and felt you laugh. I didn't know yet that you would leave me in the fall.

Her hair was long and dyed and she complained about her chicken legs, and as the leaves turned you kept each other warm.

I didn't know yet that I would be drunk, sad, and hopeful one night and drive through your new neighborhood, creeping next to your bedroom window and tapping the glass.

You didn't answer. I didn't come back.

She let me borrow her car once when I went to visit your new apartment where she and a roommate had a spare room. Her roommate was mistress to the married bartender and she spoke of him as if he was her own. I listened like a fool, not knowing what was happening behind a door down the hall.

I said goodbye and drank the beer you offered me on my way home where I had lived with you, because I thought you were my own.

I saw you once in a bar and you said hello as if my feelings weren't made of glass anymore.

You smiled, drank, talked to your friends then got in your car.

As if you used to be mine I hurried through the parking lot and tapped on your driver's door.

I remember crying. I remember being upset with my own soggy reflection. I didn't hear anything you said from your side of the glass, all sealed up in your new life, while I stood in the parking lot with my old life, its stuffing still strewn about.

Years later you called me and we talked about a plane crash in Long Island. You said you found a hand in your backyard. You were kidding, but I looked down and found a zombie in my shoes.

Someone told me the old university closed. That's where I met you. I was doing fine and living in a cottage on a sandy road near quiet dunes and gentle surf. Your car pulled in weeks later and you said you didn't like grad school. There you were and there we were, and then one day we weren't and it was all the same to you. As the summer ran out and autumn came the landlords wanted us out. You soon moved without me and I would sit there in that house, the last to leave. But days earlier we dropped off the old Dodge Dart at the city dump's gates. Closed on a Sunday.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Clouds swallowed the moon as dusk came and shadows rippled nearby.

There's the rain, Jerry said, pointing to gray sky.

I sat on the back of the bike as night air brushed my cheeks and scents of crushed leaves grew stronger by the river. I held on as we wound down a quiet road and I daydreamed. I thought of a party, people's misguided hopes and glances, a musician who got carried away and picked me up to swing me around, couples struggling, couples fighting, music playing as friends tapped cans of beer, laughed, and sucked at the foam.

At home in the dark I listened to the bedroom ceiling fan and insects singing in early September.

Jerry asked, set the alarm for me?

I glanced at the clock's dials hidden in pools of inky black. I am afraid of the dark, I said.

Want me to do it then?