written august 2017
thin: emerging hip bones
fat: leftover tofu pad thai, not cold nor re-heated, found in purse at 4 in the morning and eaten in bed without clothes.
times were fat and so was i, the miserable erroneous life form that was like the others yet different, living on a so-called island (which did cling to the rest of the world with speedy little metal missiles carrying passengers and pirates to and from distant lands)
it was said the island either wanted you, or didn’t: if it did, it kept you. if it didn’t, it kicked you out.
it didn’t want me, and i knew it. but i was stubborn.
my binge-eating habits erupted there, the stress of constant, daily rejection, the sense of not-belonging so great and powerful that it bled me dry at times of the very will to live
each night i sat
taking nervous sips and sweating bites and chewing as if chewing on my problems,
which, i suppose, i was.
sometimes i made myself laugh about it, “twenty-four: the age of hot chocolate at 6 am still awake for no good reason” (other than chronic sleeplessness.) halfway living off garbanzo beans and sticks of imitation crab, spinach and cream cheese and “pan payés” and generic corner-store gazpacho from the carton, never, ever, ever in a cup. every dirty cup and plate was a ridiculous burden on my anxious mind, for this house of mine had very strict rules and there was no room for untidiness
but keeping tidy inside a hurricane mind is not at all an easy task.
written august 2017
it is august and the air is thick with dust and sweat of all the neighbors packed like sardines in their salt and oils, the workers’ anguish, backs bent and throbbing, tourists’ money and cocaine in their pumps and their cocktails and their jewelry. august and my skin is full of holes and i have itches i can’t name and i sleep on a bare mattress in the corner of a two-bed room beside an argentinian dancer who’s gotten tendinitis in both hands from serving too many bevies at the disco. she’s not allowed vacation and could in theory provoke permanent tendon damage or lose small motor control in her hands thanks to working too much and being too sober and possibly due to not fucking enough (an argentine theory.) sometimes as she sleeps a perfect boob slips out from the sheets and stares me in the face and i am forced to consider for the trillionth time the magnitude of my mediocrity. i go to the gym and i train in the flood of moisture that is my own and everyone else’s and i step outside and the air’s even wetter. it’s become a fight to reach the oxygen.
juan said in june the island is “shiny” and fresh and clean and beautiful but august is the month that she begins to rumble like some angry dancing goddess bleeding down her thighs ready to shake the clinging bodies off of hers,
only the desperately stubborn hang on
smearing black liner over my swollen eyelids, bloated from crying. must be out of the airbnb by 12. it is 11:55. he left at 7:30 to catch his flight, climbed into bed with me before he left, hiking boots and all, wrapped his big arms around my body and kissed me deeply as if it was our last kiss ever, which it would be.
i have a problem with love — too much of it to give out. a problem with timing — mine is terrible. a problem with pain — i like it too much.
love is a really ridiculous bond. almost more physical than mental. the mind doesn’t choose who to love, the body does. the fact that i could sit at his side and listen to his rambling, all of which i find basic and relatively meaningless, contemplate his way of viewing the world and end up being disgusted, or disappointed, or just confused as to how he came to be this way — how could anyone? in conversations, feeling like i was constantly educating — giving out my knowledge and ideas like candy, most of which he accepted gladly, as he needed them — validating his existence over and over, which he told me so often nobody had ever done, while simultaneously he tore mine down.
according to enrique, i am
intelligente, lista, guapa, adventurera, diferente
dificil de entender, dificil de aguantar, rara, demasiado liberal, rápida a enfadarme, i push people, i like to get under their skin.
told him i wanted the feedback. i would listen. i did listen. i want to think about it. I want to improve. but so much of our incompatibility came from his direction and his blatant fear and intolerance for difference that it’s difficult to know how i could have done better with this one. except for the obvious: to have left him immediately, or at least after the first intolerant attack on my being. when he called me a slut, when he behaved selfishly in bed, when he kicked me out of his car on the side of the highway. i held out. in the end mother nature brought us down — my period came before his final visit and it disturbed him. he wouldn’t touch me after he realized.
i do know why i held out, but i don’t know where all the love comes from, or why i have to feel all this for people who hurt me so badly. he never meant to. he’s a good man with misogyniistic tendencies, like so many of them. nothing special. nothing unusual. i always think i’m just in it for the sex, then come to find out there’s always been more to it. much more.
i feel destroyed. everything hurts. all i want to do is cry, i sound like a goddamn country song. lord help me, save me from the images that stick. his arms and his shoulders. he put a little weight on. his eyes, green. the warmth. cargo pants and hiking boots and two grey shirts. mountain boy stranded on an island; forever conflicted, forever torn in two. i love it, i love it, i love him. i shouldn’t. there is better, there is more. jess, go and find it. jess, don’t be like this. jes come on. please. raise your standards. don’t give when you don’t receive. jes, you’re hard to handle. give credit where credit is due. listen more, listen better. stay calmer. retain control. control yourself.
this is nobody’s fault. it ended well, with love. like pulling apart a peanut butter sandwich. messy, had bread in it?
because feeling pain is still feeling, and feeling is better than nothing. living is pain, and living is also better than nothing. loving is living, and loving is pain. pain means you’re living. and so on and so forth. forever, or until you can’t anymore.
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
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.
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.