July 2015

I need to figure out a way to touch you without losing half of my hand. It sinks into your skin like a child falling into the myth of quicksand, and I am undone so easily. I only have so many bones, and you’re taking them all into you. When you’ve consumed all of my parts like a landgrab, how will I ever touch you again?

These are the things you don’t think about when you decide to steal me, and I can’t tell you. I can never tell you what I’m thinking because I know what you’ll say, or what you won’t say when you’re thinking what you’re thinking about what I’ve said I’m thinking, and I can’t even think about the silence that would sit between us.

You’re looking at me now, expecting a response to something you did say, and I can’t respond since I never hear what you do say, and the silence here now is a different silence than the one I am so afraid of, but it is still a silence and silence can destroy us as swiftly and completely as anything true I could say. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what you said. I can’t end the silence. I can’t say anything true. I can’t say anything else. I’m trapped in my stupid head and this silence without a border and I am going fucking insane and I don’t know how long the silence has been sitting here, this uninvited guest with feet kicked up on the sofa we need to replace. How the fuck does silence hang around long enough to grow feet? I look at you one more time and you are speaking. You seem to be speaking. Your mouth is moving and we aren’t kissing and you aren’t eating so I think you’re probably speaking, probably saying something you want me to hear, something you want me to say something in response to, and I am panicking already, I can’t hear you, I don’t know what you want from me.

Your mouth isn’t moving anymore but your eyes are, they’re moving into me and under my lousy skin. It’s clear I have to reply. I have to say something in response to all the something you’ve presumably said while I wasn’t hearing anything but your mouth was moving and making shapes.

“I think it’s possible that the entire music establishment has severely misjudged the vast majority of Paula Abdul’s work. History is going to show us that she was a genius, an avant garde artist trying to teach us something valuable about how we relate to sugary yet sexy pop songstresses. We saw her and we bought her records, but we thought she was the thing she was showing us on the surface, we were too stupid to realize that she was living art. She was trying to warn us about the essential worthlessness of this empty bubblegum we consume so readily. I think it’s time we tried to show people what they’ve missed.”

I say all this into my hands, my mouth about six inches away from them, close enough to hide in but not so close that they muffle my voice. I’m afraid to look at you. I don’t know how far off I am. I don’t know. Maybe you were talking about pop music. Maybe you were talking about drug addiction in Hollywood. Maybe you were talking about what, precisely, is the matter with kids these days, maybe you were comparing and contrasting the value of Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper. Maybe you told me you have cancer. Maybe you told me you want to sleep with someone else. Maybe you told me you did. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, and I don’t want to look at you to find out. I just wait for the heat of your voice on my neck. I feel like there will be a difference in temperature to solve the mystery. If I was close, if I was somewhere near the town your voice, the one I couldn’t hear, was visiting, then I’ll feel a soft warmth spreading. If you were closer to the cancer end of the spectrum, only the fact that a neck can’t really fall off the body very easily will save me from the consequences of frostbite.

I’m waiting and I’m waiting and I start to think that if I looked up, if I lifted my head from my hands and angled my neck so I could see your face again, your mouth would be moving again in the way that makes me think you’re talking to me, and I’d have to face the possibilty that I have gone deaf now, that it isn’t the not hearing you that I have so often, but a brand new not hearing you which really means not hearing at all, and I’m bracing myself to do this when I feel your finger touching me, or at least what I think is your finger, insistently pushing itself into my shoulder without even coming close to sinking in. I wait to see if this maybefinger will stop before I finally raise my head just enough to see what the maybefinger wants, what it is trying to accomplish with repetitive motion and increasing pressure.

It is your finger, and it is the same as your other fingers, even the ones attached to your other hand, except that it is not doing the same thing. This one finger is poking me while the fingers at the end of the other hand are holding something, holding it out to me like an offering, and I reach what is left of my hand out to grasp what your whole other hand is holding out to me, or in my general direction.

I take whatever it is from you and I am afraid to look at it. I can’t imagine what it could be, what your finger wanted me to have so badly, what it worked so hard to get me to notice and then take. What if it is the end? What if it is the thing that tells me that there isn’t any more us and there won’t be any more chances to figure out how to hear your voice and even make one of my own that talks about things other than rapidly declining pop stars?

I look at your face to make sure that it isn’t making any of those word motions, and to delay having to look at the thing that might be the end, and your face surprises me, which I did not know it could still do. Your face is smiling, and your face is waiting, but your face is waiting in a way that doesn’t make me wring and work these halfhands. This waiting in your face does not make me want to stall and delay and figure out a way to lie without lying and without being caught. This thing your face is doing makes me want to see what your hands gave me, and I find the courage to look, and I am holding Paula Abdul’s legendary and misunderstood 1988 album, Forever Your Girl. It is on vinyl. It is an import. I’m thinking about never lying to you again.


Nothing has ever hurt this badly . You can’t feel it, but you’re still certain of that. The shard of glass you can see reflected in the other shard of glass looks to be a reasonable size, but when you pull it, slowly, almost seductively out of the whitest part of your right eye, it feels improbably long. It can’t possibly be as long as it seems, there’s not enough space between your eye and the back of your head to fit that much glass, without shattering it and inserting it through a drilled hole. This piece, you seem to almost remember, entered through a different door.

There are no horrified faces surrounding this scene.

The train stewardess (what else do you call these light snack women, these obvious examples of expired love for sale) offers you a hot towel, a cold drink, a pillow. Considering the state of your eye, your snarled response is actually remarkably composed. You order a gin and simple syrup. Accept the pillow her suddenly obviously cracked and blistered hand holds in your general direction, and now, through the haze of blood descending, and with the help of your good eye, see that her own eyes are covered in a milky substance, tinged the color of the underside of a neglected houseplant. Or that could be what the smell tells you you’re seeing.

There are no horrified faces surrounding this scene.

Your drink arrives, clutched by five blackened finger stumps. Dumped on your tray unceremoniously, a splash of gin meets the void left by glass. That pain you don’t feel? Renewed, it starts screaming obscenities, and so do you.
Jumping to your feet, you can’t help but attempt to wash the rail whore’s eyes clean with a mixture of gin and spit. It’s not your fault, this is physics meets biology 101. An object in motion (your rage) stays in motion. An object at rest (her brain) stays at rest. This principle is proven true on two fronts immediately after you’ve thrown the drink. Her unblinking face, dripping your drink, ensures that the natural continuation of forward motion plants your forearm against her throat.
Pinned against the row of seats, she should be choking by now. Goddammit, she should be choking, spitting, coughing bits of phleghmy blood, struggling against the steel of your grip.

But an object at rest…

Unable, through this modified chokehold, to provoke even the slightest of reactions from the puce skinned monster in the polyester uniform, you try another tack. Guns serve no real purpose other than to enhance or decrease one’s sense of luck, but experience has taught you that the same does not hold true for all weapons. A swift motion, and your arm exchanges itself for a knife. The only way this movement could be smoother would be to attach the knife to your arm, and it’s a thought you’ll consider heavily in the near future. For now, as the blade slips lovingly, and achingly slowly, through the parchment of her skin, thought isn’t a part of any equation you’ve ever known. Every moment spent longing to fuck someone, anyone, a specific object of desire, or a general need, is contained and then released in this one penetration. All the actions, even sensations, are exactly the same, it will occur to you some time later. You are thrusting. You have become the embodiment of rhythm. You tease, moving slowly through just the slightest layer of skin, almost only through the melanocytes and keritinocytes coating the contents of her body. Each heavy breathed second leads you closer to home, just a little bit further inside every person you’ve been inside, or longed to. Allowing yourself to forget control and restraint, you finally slip into the dermis, and the warmth, comfort that that brings you is immeasurable. It’s almost womblike, the time you’re spending here, and you can’t imagine being closer to anyone ever. The rage has subsided, replaced by yearning, and a sense that that which has been yearned for for so long will soon be yours. You try to hold back. You’re trying desperately to spend as much time in this feeling as you possibly can, but almost as if overcome by passion, you slide through into the subcutaneous fat, and immediately fall limp, satisfied. Even the fluids resemble the act of love. There’s warmth, a moist place to lie while you regroup.

And you find yourself still on the train. Still heading towards the next town, city, landmark. The next big moment in all of this.

I live in a small one bedroom apartment in a reasonably nice neighborhood. It isn’t my apartment, I don’t pay any rent, I sleep in the living room. The apartment is attached to a house, and it is rented by my friend, who is kind enough to let me share her space.

We smoke, but we don’t smoke inside. We sit on the stairs of the porch, chainsmoking and making noise. We stare in the open windows of the house next door. We watch the boys that live there play Dungeons and Dragons into the wee hours, and we feel sorry for them, even though they seem happy. We are judgmental this way. It is not unlikely that they feel sorry for us with our beer bottles and our cigarettes and our too loud laughs. They are not who we want to be and we are not who they want to be and we all make the mistake of thinking that this must mean there is unhappiness on the other side. 

One of these boys that we turn into one dimensional line drawings in our heads and our jokes has found a girlfriend. She’s oddly beautiful, and it makes me think there is something wrong with her. I sit on the stairs and I smoke and I watch them cook. Occasionally I remember to pretend not to watch them, but for the most part I stare openly, I Jane Goodall at the apes I make them unabashedly.

Usually when I watch people I write their conversations in my head, but I am too fascinated by their kitchen dance tonight that I can’t even do that. He dips low on his giraffe neck and kisses her awkwardly. There is no fluidity here, there is only an attempt at easiness. She is tiny and asian and he is always too tall for her, even when he ducks his head and hunches a bit. His glasses slide when he does this and he has to catch them before they fall – he clearly thinks they’ll break and he might be right. He’s always wearing the same shirt, a jersey for a European football team. I’ve noticed before that he is always wearing this shirt, I’ve wondered if maybe he has 5 of them in his closet, all lined up and then I’ve decided that no, he is not that kind of boy at all. He is instead the kind of boy who does not realize that shirts need to be washed and so wears the same one until even he notices the smell and then he wonders what to do while it’s in the wash. It is a good thing he does not have breasts. Still, for her, I would have thought he’d find a new shirt. Maybe he washed this one in her honor. She’s awfully new for him. It makes me angry that I can’t read the name of the club on the jersey. The glass distorts the lettering just enough, and I feel like I should know just from looking at it but I do not, and I can’t decide whether to be angry at him or myself. I want to go pound on the glass and insist that he tell me, but first they were making dinner and then they were having dinner and now they are watching something on his computer and it never seems like the right time to make a lunatic’s demand, so I don’t.

We live on the edges of the University District, and there are several of these interchangeable boys that live in the house next door, and so I am fairly certain they all go to school, and every once in awhile I remember to wonder what they are studying, but mostly I am studying them and what they are studying doesn’t mean much to me.

They get up to clean and she is less beautiful than I thought she was. She puts away The Joy of Cooking and he is wearing a wrist brace I hadn’t noticed before and I think he injured his wrist before he met her. He seems like the kind that would have an asian girlfriend. I can’t help it, that’s what I think when I look at them. It is what you would think, too.

They kiss again and this time her arms are wrapped around him. This causes him considerable trouble with his glasses but she doesn’t seem to notice. Maybe she just doesn’t care. She knows what she is to him. Their relationship is unbalanced in these quiet moments. Pieces of both of them know this. Pieces of both of them are devoted to hiding this knowledge from each other, and still other pieces are devoted to hiding it from themselves.

In one tiny instant as she turns away, he looks directly at me and I know he knows what I’m doing here. In that same instant he reminds me of someone I knew when I was younger, and I hate them both for making me aware of all the time that’s gone by and all the ways I am not who I was. I consider setting fire to the house, but that’s only a passing fancy and I am not really bitter, I do not really want to go back. I’ve learned so much in the time away, and I do not miss me as much as we always believe we will miss the selves we lose.

I hope we never make eye contact again. There’s too many layers of glass between us for anything to make sense, and I suspect that after the glass there’s just more confusion.