Archives for October 2012

a little ditty

I’m walking around Wilson Park
I’m on my 3rd lap
I’m on mile three
My mind is moving faster than my feet

The election
The biting words
Cutting sharp blood letting
Lies
The planet
The hurricane and global warming
Ignore-ance
The ducks in the pond
I wish I had bread to feed them now that they’re back
How did they know
The pond was filled in again with clean water for them
Email?
Flyer?
Carrier Pigeon?

… little ditty about Jack and Diane
John Mellencamp sings in my ear

I’m sitting on the carpet in the corner of my bedroom in my on-campus apartment at Muir College at UCSD
I’m leaning against the cement wall
Natalie is leaning up against the window ledge
We’re just back from summer break
Natalie lost 20 pounds
All she eats now is wheat thins, tomatoes, cream cheese and canned green beans
Del Monte French cut green beans
There’s an open can on the floor next to the ashtray
A fork piercing the beans, standing straight up in its center

Our cigarette smoke curls toward the open window
Two open pink cans of Tab rest on the stack of books on the floor
at our feet
We’re talking about the Teds
Big Ted and Little Ted
Little Ted is my boyfriend
Big Ted is the boy we both have a crush on
Big Ted with his round dark eyes
Floppy brown auburn hair
Soft smile
White teeth
Full lips
Big Ted  more than just
Strong beautiful hands and good looks
Big Ted has conviction

  The sun shimmers in-between the leaves of the eucalyptus trees
we’re looking out toward the ocean
we know it’s there
through the trees on the other side of North Torrey Pines
we smell it
feel it
breathe it in
underneath deep inhales of our Marlboro Lights
 and thoughts of what it might be like to kiss Big Ted

 …oh yeah life goes on..

 it does go on
and on
and on
and on

I stop walking
green
green grass
green feathers on the male ducks

The olive green shag carpet in my dorm room
Natalie me and the ocean
the green can of green beans
the green plastic handle of the fork sticking straight out of the can
piercing the flesh of the beans
green
eucalyptus
apple
asparagus green
India
Islamic
pine lime sea green
fern forest and olive drab green
and the sun
Slipping in and out of all that green
Keeping us warm
On a cool afternoon

…long after the thrill of living is gone…

smoking
being by the ocean
listening to music
away from home
giggling
girlfriends
and the Teds

simple thrills

and all that dorm room green

 

The List

 

Honey, if you’re off that list, it’s because you don’t inspire her anymore. He said.

It was my brain. It usually is. Once when we were on the phone she told me, I don’t get you. One minute you’re spiritual and the next you’re all business. I was standing in my driveway, her voice condemning me through my cell phone. The sky was grey, cloudy, it looked like rain. My ear was hot. I hate talking on my cell phone without a headset.  She was rattling on, criticizing my thought process. I just don’t understand you, she chided.

I can confuse people. I switch gears, sometimes faster than others might.  It’s how my brain works.

I take myself off topic. I digress. I’ll start one place and end up somewhere else. I started in New York and ended up in Torrance. How’s that for digression?  It wasn’t all me though, we moved to Beverly Hills and then I digressed myself right out of there to San Diego, to Hollywood. I mean the real Hollywood, when it was more grit and grime than fluorescent colors and pop.

There was England, Ireland, Wales, not in that order and Santa Barbara and Marina Del Rey and Redondo Beach and Phoenix and then back to Redondo, then Manhattan Beach, now I’m here, settled, done digressing in Torrance. Almost.

I ran around to run away.  Instead of escaping I was spinning.  I spun myself deeper into the guts of my life, the dark underbelly.  You know how if a car, if it’s stuck in the mud or the snow, if you try and push harder on the gas and make the wheels spin faster you’ll get even deeper in the mess you’re already in? Well, that’s me, the car and the gas pedal and the person pressing hard on the gas trying to whir the wheels free. I twisted myself in pretty darn good.

I remember this one night, in Santa Barbara, sitting around a table, around a mirror, around lines of cocaine, surrounded by empty bottles and filled ashtrays, cigarette smoke clouds and voices. I was thinking to myself, what am I doing here, with this group, around this table, in this city. I went to the bathroom, bent over the stained toilet and threw up.   Time to get off this list.

It was around that time when I took my foot off the gas and pressed it onto the break.

I went to see my friend Wayne. I waited outside on the steps of his apartment.  My eyes were tired and red, my lids felt like sandpaper each time they blinked closed.  I hurt. I sat, smoking, waiting for Wayne to wake up.

Eucalyptus

He came outside, a cigarette hanging from the left side of his mouth, the screen door slammed behind him.  I’m done.  I told him.  He walked a few steps down, inhaled his cigarette, the cherry glowed bright and he sat next to me on the stairs, pushing smoke up form his lungs into the morning air.

The eucalyptus trees shaded us, their scent colliding with our cigarette smoke.  I watched the smoke swirl up toward them, wondering about photosynthesis and how trees cleanse the air and if there was anything that could cleanse me.  Wayne was playing with his cigarette.  He was waiting for me.  Waiting for me to maybe change my mind or explain why or what I meant.  Waiting for me to say, hey don’t worry about it, gotta line?

He waited for me a lot.  He’d wait for me after my shift at The Jolly Tiger where we met.  He waited for me after I got fired and got a new job at Pascual’s. He’d wait for me to visit him, sit at the bar, and eat dinner at Arnoldi’s when he was working.  He might even have been waiting for me to love him.  All those late nights at Mel’s bar, the upsets when I’d leave with someone other than him. Solid Wayne, funny Wayne, chubby Wayne, with his blond mop of unwashed hair, stained tee shirts and impulsive grin. I waited for him this morning so I could tell someone.  I’m done.  I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I said.  I’m done.

He looked at me.  Okay. He said if you say so. 

I do.  I said.

Not too long after that Wayne stopped waiting for me and I stopped letting him.

In Santa Barbara I spent years looking for a spark, something to stimulate me internally rather than externally.  Looking for inspiration, to bring myself back to my life. I needed CPR and I came to Santa Barbara to find it.

I knew, on the phone that day, in my driveway, when she was complaining about me to me,  that it  had nothing to do with me. She was spinning her wheels like I had for so long in Santa Barbara.  I knew it wasn’t my speed that bothered her.

We all move at our own pace.

Honey, you don’t inspire her anymore he said, it’s not that big of a deal.

You’re right, I answered.

The Poet

 

He was tall, maybe six feet, maybe more.  It was hard to tell because he crooked at the waist and tilted his head to the left when he spoke to people.  This was due to nervousness, a type of dis-ease that also affected his hands.  He shook them when he spoke. His head reflected all light:  inside, outside, in the black auditorium under the yellow lights.  He was like a one-eyed bandit in the night.  His head bent any light back out into the atmosphere.  Yellow light, white light, blue light, red light, sun light, moon light, even star light and the fluorescents on the ceiling all beat off his egg-shaped cranium and back onto the walls, floors, chairs, pale mustard carpet.  He walked through the lobby and into the bookstore. Light refracted from his cream colored scalp; wiggling rays bounced off the black and blue and grey and white and red and purple covers of the books on the shelves that lined the walls and sprang off the pictures of famous poets that hung above.  He stepped back into the lobby and the light skipped from the top of his noggin to peoples faces, to their cheeks, their eyes, the tips of their noses and to their glasses; it ricocheted off wine bottles and soda cans until it boomeranged back to the top of his head. He was drinking Saki.

beat baby beat

He’d raise the big green bottle to his mouth, wrap his lips around it and swig the clear liquid.  I watched it travel through his esophagus glowing myrtle green. “Would you like some Saki? Here hold this.” He said.  He gave me the bottle. It sweat in my hands.  “I have to hang up the living poem. I am a living poem.  Did you know that? I am poetry. I am poet. I am.  You should write on me, play me like a typewriter. I am words. I am poem.” He said.  He went outside with the living poem and since I had his sake, I followed.  I watched him tape the living poem on the wall outside of the lobby.  He stood, arms crossed, waiting for the poem to wake up. He wrote on the poem, it is I, who has stood, arms crossed, waiting for you to wake up in brown chalk.  He turned and grabbed his Sake from me.  “See what I mean?” he pointed toward the living poem.  “Would you like a sip of Sake? ” He said. “I’m from Boston via Tampa.  After 10 years I was laid off and I said to myself, ‘self, it is time to move to California.’  So I did and I have and now I live on Sepulveda.  I sold my car and ride my bike. I use public transportation.  I take the bus. I found the train. I peddled here tonight. I brought this bottle of sake to share with poets.  Would you like a sip? You’re a poet, would you like a sip?” He said.  In the auditorium when Caprice, the MC, read E.E. Cummings name from the open mic list, I saw the light kaleidoscope in the dark auditorium as he moved toward the stage. He pulled a chair to the stage and stood on it.  His dome was glowing saffron. “ I’m not really E.E. Cummings.” He said. “I thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.” His voice bellowed into the microphone. He jumped off the chair, THUD, and finished reciting the poem.  He danced out of the auditorium, arms flapping over his head.  As the evening came to a close he came to me in the lobby. He held up a small case letter ‘g’ taped to a piece of white cardboard. “Small case g. like a pubic hair in my soap.” He said. Then he held up an ‘x’, “X marks the spot” he said.  A capital ‘A’. “Apple of my eye, would you like to get a drink? Discuss poetry and poets and poems?  Let’s go somewhere, have a drink. Cummings, Olds, Olson, Simic, beat baby, beat, let’s go have a drink, beat, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, meow man. Whitman, Shakespeare, Joyce, Kafka, let’s bolt, let’s imbibe.  Bukowski, Kunitz, Komunyakaa, come on.  What do you say?” He said.  His fumes were crippling. I reached in my purse for my sunglasses. “I’ll tell you about James Tate and Lyme, about John Milton and death, about alchemy and Chaucer.  Laughter is the language of the soul, you know who said that? Let’s be poets together and ingest. I’ll quote Neruda and we’ll be two writhing poems.” He unfurled his arms, ink splattered all over the walls.  “No thank you.” I said. I was polite. I smiled. He folded back into himself and swiped a full bottle of two-buck chuck from the snack table.  He walked outside, to the bike rack, unlocked his bike, tucked the wine bottle in his jacket, under his arm, mounted, pushed off and rode toward the beach.  He pulled the moon from the sky, an immense pale silver balloon pumping a 10-speed bicycle down Venice Blvd.

The Making Of A History

 

Vacation Culebra

I can remember a warm hand
pressing on my belly
fingers like predictions
reaching
winding their way
forming into my future

I was still un-written
a white page
waiting for its epic poem
to adorn
with rainbow watercolor skies
swelling blue oil seas
fertile green forests
plump with fruit
pixie dust and dreams
of lips being kissed ruby red
sealed with white satin promises

Different authors penned my narrative
each hand bore its distinctive cursive blue and black liquid letters
an inked history
filled my book
some pages tore
shred
I let them fly into the wind

Others I folded
tucked away
an account
a tapestry of tangled kisses
broken hearts
miscarriages of desire
lost souls
ripening on the vine
falling to the earth
passion love hate anger joy sadness loss
chapters in my book

My life
reveals itself
in the warm curve
of my hip
the soft give of my tummy
the arch of my lower back
against my lover’s hand
as he presses into
my core

Our Vacation in Culebra

 

 

Bare Feet

 

 

October’s Indian summer glared.
Sunlight bounced off sizzling metal,
windshields, busses, billboards, street signs and steel rimmed buildings.
Liquefied waves ricocheted off the tops of heads,
White heat shot from the gold five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars that lined the sidewalks.
The flash of sun rebounded off a wheat beige paunch
through my car’s rolled up window
into the corner of my eye.

 

It was gleaming pale
in the blazing sun,
tight stretched skin
pulled across
a bulging naked pot belly
swollen beyond the elastic waist band
of his black sweat pants.
The right front pocket dangled against his leg
pulled inside out,

had he been digging for change,
that secret he’d kept hidden,
a memory he couldn’t find?

His right arm
hand-less sewn stump,
hung lifeless by his side.

He stood facing East,
looking at the sky,
planted at the intersection of circumstance and Hollywood Blvd.

It wasn’t that he seemed lost,
confused, alone.
It wasn’t that people surrounded him
rushed by without a glance in his direction.
It wasn’t that he was stripped stark
on a relentless day.

It was his feet.
Bare, charcoaled, black.
His feet.
Stained, worn, black.
His feet.
Beat-up, black,
from stepping on cracked cement, burning cigarette butts, discarded bottle caps, sparkling shards of green brown beer bottles, crumpled tissue that wiped a pedestrian eye or running nose, melting tarred spilled coffee, blue, cola, cherry, chewed gum Slurpee from the near by 7-Eleven.

Dead dreams.
Soles black.
Cracked broken hot soiled sticky leathered scarred marked scorched city grimed black.

I look at my feet.
Clean, polished, smooth, lotioned,
air-conditioned,
comfortable in soft white sandals.

I see him take a step
then another.
How can I help, I wonder.
I play scenarios in my head.

There are possibilities:
take him to a shelter, offer food, money, a shower.

But the light turns green
and he continues westbound
drifting away from Highland.

 

 

I drive north,
pointed toward acknowledgement
and my unfolding life.

It seems unfair.

A small prayer,
I whisper.
Send a wish,
send a slice of peace,
send a breath,
send a kind thought,
some comfort.

That was yesterday.
Today I still wonder
why.