we call this fiction

Sitting outside, a perfect stranger, her hair is honey brown:
the color that can never be easily decided—
it’s never blonde and not quite brunette.
Freckles fan from her nose and the openness in her eyes
suggests she is pious. I know enough religion
from the space in the empty:
the tossed yolk in the trashcan
little moons from hole punched paper
two decades and change of living with what is left.
Still, I think of two girls before one became a not-girl and
the other drank sweet tea laced with xenophobia
and disapproval of brown people.
And I miss our pb&j lunches at the miniature multicolored
picnic table, afterwards swapping gum from our mouths to ensure
they were equally sized.
Here at this cafe, I sit inside.

peeling strawberries (summer 2014)

summer was a smashed flat of overripe strawberries postpartum of rascal raspberries the ghost of my black lab moseyed through when we weren’t looking, slobbering the fruits off their inverted honeycomb coathangers, saving a few for his return journey to the ghost of my grandpa.

the moon waxes across my street, but misses the parking lot of the neighboring apartment complex I think is charming and mysterious but my roommates call sketch. I dunno if that’s because some of the people who live there speak different languages or because asphalt swallows what could have been a backyard in some other life. The moon misses the shards of beer bottles so the only light informing my eyes of my feet’s enemies is the green-white light that bores through the arborvitae and sometimes between the slats of my cheap and dusty venetian blinds at night.

I’ve got a thing for stucco homes, but not the suburban, so-sterile-the-deer-don’t-nibble variety. something about the dust between the pores makes me feel more worthy

I consider how clever I am
it doesn’t last long
before I get hungry

ravenous
famished

when I press my finger to one of the strawberries and pull it away, I notice a division between seedy coat and the underguts and it sure reminds me, reminds me, sure, of old summers, scabs, and swimming
losing scabs to the soggy
and don’t you know that
I live with a german shepherd with a foot and ear fetish and keen fear of the grate at the bridge from first to second floors?

I pat myself on the back by reminding myself I don’t pee on the floor when I meet strangers, but someday someone’s gonna tell me to raise my expectations.

eyes closed to slobbery toes, maybe
maybe I will

I once caught a friend I thought was a good one making out, hair all messy, lips chapped, with cambria in a closet, after which I considered one-night flirting with comic sans but I just couldn’t stomach the poly

eyes closed eyes closed
draw the blinds
tell me this wasn’t better than any hour frittered on okcupid, nodon’ttellmeamatchwhenwearen’tcupid, where I toss breadcrumbs beneath tree roots looking for chipmunks that watch games
not
screens.

lacy bras and binders

tell me something happened this summer.

____________________________________
Sometimes I find nonsense I’d forgotten about hidden on my computer. I am glad the strawberries didn’t rot —but if they had, maybe something would have grown from their juices.

Independent Streak

In fifth grade sometimes the best thing to do after school was craft with nothing but glue. Crafting didn’t need to involve paper or colored pencils or glitter, just a white bottle ending in an orange serrated carrot. Cilesse, one of my friends then, taught me how fun it was to squeeze perfect blobs from the bottle then smear them across our hands like the Milky Way until we could hardly see them either. When we pulled our palms apart from each other with the rare cautiousness of lion cubs, we discovered shawls for fairies: white lace with the lines of our lives and our hearts. A palm reader would run her thumb over the original copies on my 17th birthday and tell me someone special was coming into my life though she’d get the gender wrong.

 

But isn’t it funny we want things to stick together? Why can’t things stand alone in open rooms or corners? Why must pages have spines and what allows words to bleed onto pages in the first place? Why can’t aluminum peppered into glitter tossed into the ether always live apart from construction paper?

 

Glue is made from ungulates. At least, that’s what Grace deadpanned last week when I enquired about using Elmer’s for a project. “But it’s made from horses”, she said, and that made me pause. It was real late when I googled the truth and learned that the dead horse vats are a thing of the past and now the glue is one hundred percent synthetic. I will tell Grace later today. She will tell me the glue still isn’t natural.

 

Perhaps this glue fixation stems from the fact that Homo sapiens are lonesome creatures when solitary. We are afraid of cold flannel sheets beside us while the wind rattles old windows in winter, no hand to hold while walking past the purple painted sheep on 35th street to dangle our feet from the covered bridge, and most of all: having no one to make sure our buttons are not missed stitches when we race out the door. I wonder if it is too far-fetched to imagine a twenty-five year old ballet dancer furrowing his brows in prayer while painting a line of white on the inside of his arms, so he can slip off the stage, pad in crushed slippers to the back of the auditorium, hold out his arms and say: Stick with me to the person who sweeps the building every night at the same time, knowing that if they embrace it will last forever, through every last pair of his ballet and bath slippers.

 

When I was little, I went barefoot during summer. My feet were black at the end of the day from dust and pine resin. Pine resin worked dandy at cementing needles and brown broadleaves to my soles. I was usually impatient, but one time I held my feet in my hands and scrubbed and scrubbed until my soles were red, free from stickiness, and my eyes watered.

 

 

Biffed It

Biffed it. Ate asphalt for the first time from the general admission section of a bike seat. Lost some of my left butt cheek to the inside of my denim capris.

It happened when the railroad track curved and my front wheel did not make the perpendicular. For a minute, I flew above sixth street in the industrial district. Was a gopher in the air laughing and wheeling the next second, my handlebars parallel to the street.

Unsure what kinda life I’ve been living if that is the first time I crashed my bicycle.

Wolf, 5 Years a Vegetarian, Prowls Again

One of these days I am going to eat pig. I will eat pig, ignoring all reason. Ham from a flank or chop, whatever a chop is. You just wait and see. Kielbasa, roasted ham and garlicy butter mashed potatoes, ham and cheese scrambled eggs seduce my snarling stomach. Yeah, I used to eat the sweet and salty. My boundaries are slipping and those pigs that are so intelligent and loyal, with little bellies and loose corkscrew tails as piglets, smell tasty after cooked from slaughter. One of these days blood will be a Picasso’s flecks of peeling burnt sienna at the corner of my mouth. You won’t even recognize me.

The Color Purple

I returned home last night in the dark, my feet, numb from tidewater five hours and millennia old catching me off guard, gliding me though the quiet street from campus to my house. The quiet in my head and bones was part of a weariness that was neither unnatural nor unwelcome. It felt like ten o’clock but was only five-thirty. I ate leftovers. Rice, tuna, seaweed, the remaining two bites of spanish rice and refried beans from my lunch. Peace asked for a reprieve from internet research and a word document, bright screens. I pulled The Color Purple from my bookshelf and read and read. The fraternity vibrated the street and my roommate laughed, inebriated, with her friend. I read and read. Ate the words with a spoon, my eyes, my fingers, to speed them inside me. I awoke late with a headache, eyes tired from little sleep. Read to the last page. Wonder if part of my soul is purple. Can’t pick a favorite color from the rainbow but wonder if we all have a little purple in us. If we all are a mixture of primaries.