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Look underneath the house when I’m gone. Look underneath the house, but only when I’m gone, and when am I ever not gone?

Look under the house, crawl into the tiniest spaces you can find, under the house, and try as hard as you can to see something that has meaning to you. I want to guarantee you it’s there, I want to paint pretty pictures of what it might be, tantalize you with the mystery of what I’ve hidden under the house for you, just for you and not really for anyone else at all. I can’t do that, but I want to. I want to always promise you whatever you want to believe in.

I want you to look under the house after I leave, and I want you to see what I’ve left behind. I want what I’ve left behind to be everything I wanted you to give me. I want to give you all those things I so desperately needed from you, I want to leave you a pile of understanding. If I could only give you a piece of what I was hoping for every time you gave me nothing, it would be enough. The foundation would buckle and your knees might give, looking at all the pieces of everything I had to go without for so long.

I want you to have all of those things. I want you to never be rid of them. I want you to look at them under the house and know that you have to pull them into the light, and display them on the highest and brightest shelves you have. I want to fill your rooms with these pieces of wholes that were never all that big to begin with, and I want you to look at them every day. I want you to have so many examples of what I needed from you that you have no room for anything else, and no time for anything else, and no energy for anything else.

I want everything in your world and mind to be how easy it would have been to give some of this. To give me some of this somewhere along the way. I want you to always know that giving just a tiny bit of what was needed could have lightened your burden considerably, but it has gone beyond too late now.

I want you to never dream again without my miniscule desire being what wakes you. I want you to be covered in night sweats and consumed by regret when the bits and pieces of need fall on your head from the overloaded shelf.

I want the end to never be the end, for you.

So look under the house when I’m gone.

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She knew herself before she knew herself. She stood among them so certain, even as they all questioned every inch of her, every word. There were no seconds between meeting her and knowing her, between knowing her and needing her. There was nothing between the skin of her and the heart of her.

She taught you how to throw a punch.

She taught you how to sing a note,

She taught you how to see yourself.

She taught you how to know your value in the face of all devaluations. How to know your name as everyone mispronounced it. How to remember the rhythms of your blood when they held their hands over your ears, your eyes.

She taught you what to remember, and what to forget.

Gold once tarnished remains gold,

and the golden are rarely tarnished –

their names remain smiling in the blood of those stuck in their presence,

a present, surely

a gift wrapped in ribbon not meant to be rope,

tying us to this shakiest of all ground.

they never mean this to be a prison

but the prism of them is trap enough for every eye

dumb enough to see them clearly.

It’s been so long since I wrote anything of meaning that it’s tempting to get lost in some idea of where to start and what to say, but let’s instead do this:

Start with the rage. It’s always the right place. It’s always the most important place, the truest place, the purest.

We live in a country where all the right thinking folk were unable to stop the speeding train of intense, surreal fuckery. They couldn’t even slow it down. We have a reality television caricature as a president, we have plots unfolding that would be deemed too absurd for an episode of Twin Peaks or the X-Files or a cheap Skinemax film. Everyone the president touches is fucked, and no one fucks back. A doddering old man wandering our airstrips, our monuments, other countries, our collective consciousness, with no idea who he is or what he’s about, and not a single one of us can stop him.

I don’t know. Who ever truly dreamed we would be ruled by what amounts to little more than an orange pile of saliva and semen?

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.

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