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.
todo tiene su límite y tú
pero ninguna de ellos
sirve para mantenerme
una bomba química, lo llamas
esta cosa que nos une y nos
tortura como sal en las heridas que me
das y que te doy, rodillas raspadas,
piedras incrustadas en el piel,
falta de dormir y pesadillas de amores perdidos
y otros monstruos,
líneas de sangre, de cocaína,
todas esas líneas que tengo y que meto
entre tú y yo pero ninguna de ellas
sirve para mantenerte
eres mi guerra
por lo visto siempre
me hace falta una:
fíjate, el fracaso
eso te digo
pa’ que lo sepas:
con las tonterías estas
de amor y de amor
falso, y de no saber
había un calvito con miedo de todo
con ojitos que brillaban al sol
quería irse lejos, pero temía estar sin la madre,
quería ver el mundo, pero temía viajar.
quería cocinar, pero temía aprender cómo,
quería amar, pero temía su corazón.
quería ser más sabio, pero temía irse al cole,
quería salir fuera, pero incluso temía el sol.
con suerte un día el calvito
se dejó caer de la cuna
y pasito a pasito
aprendió a caminar —
luego se puso pelo y
como dicta la naturaleza
tras su milagro mas asombroso
se atrevió de ser hombre
y el calvito se creció.
pero vaya tío ya te digo una puta poema en castellano
a ver como me sale
mira, hay un hombre
quien vive en una isla,
o sea — encima de una isla
k adentro está lleno
todo ocupado por diosas bailadoras
con sus espíritus indignados y sudados
mientras sus tierras se queman al infierno,
el lugar dónde se crecieron sus hijas y sus
perros y sus hijos y sus
los mismos que luego se convertirían
en pescadores y cantantes
y cuidadores de cabritas,
en bailadores y bastante cabrones,
como suele resultar.
esta tierra está marcado y dolido,
y se nací al seco, con muchísima sangre,
cubierto en lagartos, y en la hierba seca
con un par de colinas, calas torturadas,
gente marrón con las manos y las almas
pequeñas y duras,
o sea compactas, listas
provechosas, cuando les toquen ser.
pero este tío de lo que hablo
pues él no viene de aquí,
su sangre es de otras tierras, más verdes y altas
con más cuevas pa poner casa y más paredes
dónde la gente se dispone de la espalda bien dura
y donde los perros
comen gatos y se ríen,
y él, igual que sus ancestros,
su espíritu no cae tan bien
ni con el sol ni con la humedad de aquí,
se moja la espalda y el cuello con
trabajo y lleva el ceño siempre fruncido,
concentrando o aguantando pero
siempre empujando, eso sí, es
algo en él que lo lleva adelante y k to trae
y lo veo
como si fuera escondido en las sombras
de un bosque en la niebla,
invierno y con frío y no sé cómo pero él
sabe mi olor y lo detecta
viene pa buscarme
y me encuentra a menudo,
soy su presa y el es mía, que a mí
él huele de montaña y de fuego,
y la única cosa que quiero
es quemarme en ello y al final
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
meat bit flops around
inside me making
garbage person noises
so poorly stitched together
like a five-thumbed Nancy
giving quilting a good go.
this is getting
out of control. you say
it gets easier with heavy
boozing but I’m telling you now
that’s a dirty old trick of
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.