Toddlers playing, a paper airplane. Shrubs uncomfortably pruned. Old fella passes, rounded spine and balding head in a striped polo. A kid falls off his bike. Couple on a bench, her head in his lap. Tricycles on the pavement. Youths in matching shirts. Enthusiastic Hungarian chanting from somewhere over yonder. Older guy with long silver hair walks in strides and carries a half-sized pizza box. Wears glasses. Definitely an intellectual. Does walking in a city make a person more intellectual?
Bike kid’s gettin cocky with his stunts. Wealthier folks are probably at the gondola-lookin restaurant in the park’s center. Seated chicly in appropriate white outdoor chairs. Sipping on Cold Drinks With Ice, as Fancy People are wont to do. I hate them all.
A small broken log all alone on a patch of dirt. A german shepherd that has never been allowed to run free in its entire lifetime. The shepherd has given up on feeling bitter and simply allows itself to enjoy the freedom to eat whatever human food it begs its masters for.
Greasy-lookin hip kid eats a sandwich as he walks. Four hippies gathered in a corner. Fifty percent of them are wearing those enormous hammer pants that seem to magically sprout on hippies. Skinny man in pink shirt and khaki shorts reads the Bible on a bench with his chihuaua.
Mom took the kid’s bike away and now he’s pissed as fuck, screaminng, crocodile tears, arms folded round his chest. Still wants cuds from mama doh, even though mama is the one to blame.
A girl on the bench with long black hair. She looks like me, but clean and proper, taking in the sun. Standing, slowly meanders towards me. Kneels down, meets my eyes and licks her lips. Pushes me onto my back and undoes my shorts, pulls my leggings down, kisses me over my underwear. Nobody around us notices. I’m fine with that.
Lola, trae la pelota. Lola. Lola. Lola, trae. Trae la pelota Lola. Trae. Lola is a small, shiny black girl with floppy ears and a real perky tail. Her companion is more of a setter/street mutt mix, light brown, huntin dog size, too excited to control itself, barking like a maniac. Owner cries out Coco!
Never trust anyone who names their dog Coco.
chasing one little baby tick of unblackened weed around the rim of the pipe, warm in my bone-cold fingers: cold white light and me here on this dingy old velvet couch listening to the boys in AIDS’s bedroom pretending it’s a real gym. they listen to eminem a little too much, but i won’t givem shit for it.
genezareth and hannah are considering busking on a corner on weekends; seabass was turned down for a resto job due to his lack of a work visa; bethany was selling Christmas cards for a euro apiece; i was considering selling knit caps, AIDS and I have discussed becoming regional camgirls.
we are sort of brutally poor, but we do our bestish. combat creeping depression with routines and rituals: open the shutters every morning and close them up every night, go for hikes, go for runs, do pullups and pushups and abs, chat together in the sparsely-furnished kitchen all squattin on buckets and low stools on the ground. we are all in balls deep for bernie sanders.
written fall-winter 2015. entry 1 of a series.
A bus ride in Spain is just a bus ride. It’s not one of those hard throttling things barely keeping tires to the tracks through some muggy snake-infested jungle. You’re not fearing for your life every second. You know how the other worries tend to slip away when you’re afraid for your life? I find that soothing. Let’s do more of that.
Because a bus ride in Spain rolls from prim little pueblo to industrial complex-lookin little pueblo past little dump camp to same little pueblo again — and you’re panicked because you must have missed your stop and stayed on the bus all the way through its route but then you realize oh, no,
these towns are just one and the same.
The same baked brown and mucusy white like sins of the internal body smeared out on burning pavement. The whole place is a goddamn effigy in creamy neutrals, you can taste the virgin blood in the air but you musn’t speak of it. The grizzled little brown man that hangs out in the park speaks of it, y con ese no se habla.
Vaya, España: so much sun like a torch up my asshole. Searing. Such brutal and determined gazing: the blunt-eyed glare of a true and thorough Spaniard. The look of the town might once have been lovely but the dictator snuck in and graffitied the place with his budget cuts. you know what they say, no peace beneath the pomegranates.
Spain is the place the tourists come to hack off their jeans and undo their shirts another button. Spain is the last place you will ever be late. Spain is the sun when you really don’t want it though the natives are all walking round in scarves and jackets. Spain is dry sugar cane stock and agave and olive trees. The raw olives bleed red like cherries. Do not eat raw.
then the city oranges — at best those are naranjas pa’zumo, at worst they’re solid blocks of dry rancid sour mesh, thickly diseased. we no eat that. learned the hard way, as children and outsiders do.
rather eat the prickly pears. the kakis (a ripe kaki is like a swollen alien breast, savor the meat.) got lots o’ juniper, you like gin? well let’s make some. that’s why I’m here, anyway. a proper guiri is always wasted, and just look at me wasting away.
Erizo was what you might call sencillo if you were a Spaniard. He had a somewhat tormented spirit layered like sponge cake under a thick slice of calm. The calm was as real as the torment and either all of it or nothing showed in his eyes, given away in splinters of olive green or sandy yellow. The colors changed frequently, perhaps depending on his mood, perhaps on my perception. I wasn’t sure and it didn’t matter.
I loved him very easily. There was little to think about. He slipped his arm around me and it had always been there. I was safe and would have human projects to tinker with over the summer — break this wall down, extend this conviction, sharpen that ability. Train him to eat perfect pussy. Help him figure out what he wanted from life and rile him up to get it — then release him out to sea like a bottle with something inside it. Not a message (frankly a terrible method of communication) but something better. Something helpful. Something good.
Though of course the good came with the package. The good WAS the package and man, he was a package. He was a local boy. a pueblo boy. Small-town country upbringing just like mine. Everyone knew everyone, he once got to fuck the neighbor girl — just like me, the neighbor girl. He wore unpretending clothes, brandless shirts and glasses that didn’t flatter him. Went bald at 25 and had greys in his beard. His hands were not beautiful, but his arms were thick and wrought like iron and felt like the island around my shoulders (everyone knows paradise is just a good warm set of arms.)
He told me many things that made me laugh. He had a disdain and a bitterness for the destruction of his homeland and though I was little but a product of that destruction he did sometimes look at me as if I was a precious creature, like he had stumbled upon me in some grove and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The times that he looked at me like this were not those involving nudity or sex; they were times I was dancing or giggling to myself, times I was playing with children. Perhaps he didn’t think I was beautiful, but to him i don’t believe that it mattered. That said a lot about him.
Yet something in there was unwell, something shriveled and very small. He once told me laughing that once as a child he raped a sow pinned in a crate with a pole in the ass and I cried but he said he didn’t feel anything then or now. He said there had been blood.
He said there were girls he had loved but he had lost them all, said he had regrets and a heart leathered up from repeated beatings and breaks. Said he more than once dated people who didn’t love him, stayed with them for years. Said he wasn’t attractive and meant what he said. I listened to everything because the sound of his voice made me wet and weak in the knees. I wanted him to feel better but I also just wanted his cum in my mouth. Sometimes my emotions don’t run cut and dry.
Maybe he was an event more than a person, a season walking on human legs and a nonexistent male ass. I looked at him as I looked at my surroundings because he WAS my surroundings, just like the sea and the buttery flowers and the palm bushes and the pines. I looked at him and I said to myself, “Do it right this time.” In the end I think I did. I left him and I told him that I loved him as I did so, kissed him as I shook my head and smiled. Love enough and lose enough and it becomes a skill. Do not love without ability to accept loss. Test frequently. Be prepared.
i’m sorry. you know this can never work.
je suis désólée. tu sais que ça ne peut rouler jamais.
jeg beklager, men du ved, at dette ikke kan gå.
ho sento però ja saps que això no pot sortir.
lo siento pero ya sabes que esto no puede salir.
it’s been years. have you forgotten?
ça fait du temps. t’as bien oublié ?
det har været år. har du glemt?
que fa anys. has oblidat?
ha sido años. has olvidado?
i hope that you get some daylight in
that you listen to heartbeats, eat sausages made from
pigs you met, stuff your face into big fluffy
hope you squeeze tight
whoever you’re squeezin
squeeze ‘em good like
you used to squeeze me
(but not better)
hopin on hope you eat shit that you ripped from the
ground with your hands and stay dirty
if just a little
hope you’ve come as far,
and as much,
and as many times
as i have
(though of course
i doubt that
i did love you,
bien oui que je t’aimais, quoiqu’il étàit bref
jeg elskede dig, selvom på det forkerte tidspunkt
jo t’estimava, però no prou,
te quería, aunque por sólo un momento,
i could never lie about that
the day is full of monsters but at night they go to sleep and we are free to walk in peace around their stomping grounds, shrieking miniature godzillas come to crush the dozing city under scaly clawed feet. time to pretend: I want to see you out here aching from your laughter, stopped up in your awe gazing out at some great work of mother nature thinking “we mean nothing,” I want to carry you though you’re twice my size, want to feed you in the mornings and the nights, want to hear your stomach gurgle in my ear and put makeup on while you take a shit, want to fight you until you love me back.
but the day is full of monsters: I’ll wait for the cover of darkness.
face streaked with black and the bus people are
either fearful or concerned. nothing
about you is what they would call normal. though at
home you’re just another bland fat kid in a
jersey sweater, here you are something exotic (if
by exotic you mean to imply an irksome foreign
terror threat in flannel visibly stoned at seven-thirty
in the morning unable to keep its paint-stained fingers
off a pen.) ‘You do it well,’ they tell you, and you say
oh! it’s a compulsion!
but it’s eight and you’re late again and you’re wondering
why this goddamned bus is so
painfully slow, time is a physical pressure on your
spinal column that gets worse in the cold, the bus
folks likely can’t relate. it’s almost their naptime already.
(a leer con accento de guiri)
cuántos agujeros hacen falta para llenar a una persona?
hay que hacer un solicitud formal?
se necesita DNI?
si no tiene corazón, todavía está aplicable?
y si tiene dos?
cuál es el dosis correcta de sufrimiento?
hay que tomarlo dos veces por día, o solo una?
y si no lo puedo tomar cada 12 horas exactamente
(es que tengo muchas quehaceres)
cuáles pasos puedo seguir para asegurar
que no sobrevivo?
me puedes pegar?
me puedes cagar encima?
no tengo DNI pero tengo NIE.
cuanto tiempo hace falta el procedimiento del solicitud?
se puede hacer dos a la vez?
necesito mi certificado de nacimiento original
o sólo una copia?
es una problema si quiero quedarme?
ya lo sé. eventualmente sería.
picture it: this inconveniently-placed manhole
in an alleyway crisscrossed with
stringings of laundry. it’s an okay city
with good folks and bad folks,
old men grunting, old women
slinging wet clothes, kind of bored, but
their gripes are more barks than complaints.
the young ones are out
uncertain and strutting, fumbling with
their phones and their unanswered
garbage and urine and
stray cats here and there
and stray people. in the end you see
it’s all the same.
heat rises. stay high.
be resourceful. fuck a
guy from a beach
town above the water
level but heed the
tide ye lunar whore
the seasons change all
over even if the
weather doesn’t and even
if you don’t. still
the dampness invades more
than just moldy bedding
and old walls. breathe
in. you will feel
it if you can