May 1, 2012
Egg yolk spilled across the sky three minutes earlier this morning, pooling over metallic blue in patches. As I trudge forward, sand screws up to my knees during long gusts to remind me that even in the desert I am not alone in waking. This is not a spiritual quest; this is not a nightmare, for that implies brevity. This is a purposeful challenge to that slobbering, scrap-iron pig, Death.
Wilted cacti already duplicate in periphery and my hands tremble over my pack’s straps. I will not spend energy thinking on this. I may survive. And I may die. But this fight is going to end with cold fists meeting dry metal.
May 28, 2010
have we walked toward your promised land, toward the foothills of your mountainous grace and glory. For two hundred years, we have walked with locks snapped from between our feet, but still we feel the weight of iron as chains drag behind us like metal tails, pulling our heads under the dregs of life while white men swim in the clear water above us, looking as far off as the sun. We are drowning, Lord. You birthed us without buoyancy and though we fight with powerful arms to reach your heavens, we remain at the bottom of life’s pail like black smut suffocating in familial ashes. Give us something, Lord, we pray. We believe in your presence and your righteousness, Lord, that one day you will make us irradiant phoenixes, burning high among stars and our black skin will glow with your divine solace like night. But today, 40,000 families are dust and embers, Lord. And our buildings blaze like matches. They splinter under our feet. So I ask, in desperate repetition:
What do we do now, Lord?
Where do we go, Lord?
What do we do now?
Where on earth do we go?
May 13, 2010
The slate sky strung itself with thick cords of ink-black, the color that scums ocean floors and stretches through gutters. Bells of light that once streamed and pooled like uncoiled trumpets now whispered through the smoke; the greasy haze had persisted long enough that no one in this corner of the world could recall the gleam of day without squinting. On my way home, I passed by Thorn Crown church, the only halfway house left for the confused and spiritual, the last, white scab on the island. Wind and sea salt stripped paint from the door and ran through vines like harrow’s teeth, warping the horseshoe trellis that bent around the frame. The long shadow that hung over the walkway led up to a “wings of desire” replica standing in silhouette. The angel’s metal wings spread to her sides and her hands rose into the dark heavens that seemed to sink over her skull like oil. Through the hallow rattling of the breeze, the black statue called, “My wings…” It wheezed with dragging repetition to remind passersby to be fearful. “My wings,” it echoed all through the night, breathing on the faces of men and women, lapping over the town like waves.
May 10, 2010
Minerva admired the ocean from her house overlooking the bay, the old lighthouse standing next to her right thumb as she held her fingers in the shape of a frame. Often the wind at the edge of the cliff blew too hard to allow her to step onto the porch with her camera, and today it moaned while floorboards rattled, rubbed together like bones, sank closer to the earth like her skin. Rain blotted the sunken glass like gum syrup and the waves that uncurled under the precipice seemed to swell and relax like a tongue licking at the clay supporting her home. Through her fisheye pane, the sea grew as if a yawning mouth with white, sea froth running from blue lips, panting, “Down, down” on the bluff walls. Staring into Death, she felt a tremor jostle her to the floor as if the very foundations were shaking.
October 2, 2009
That day, the day before the worst day, she’d bought me balloons. Against the warm, orange sun, dipping behind shadow-black mountains, they stained fragments of the sky above me deep green, peach, and maroon. The translucent rubber looked almost frosty, like church-windows tugging against my small, pudgy fingers. I remember asking for ice cream or something cold, maybe shaved-ice. With a sincere and practiced motherly smile, her face half-shadowed, she told me that we’d missed our chance and that it was too late now. But, she continued, it was okay because we’d had been out having more than our share of fun.
The sun slipped beyond the horizon as we’d gotten home and she tucked me into bed, my ballons huddled in the dark, floating together by my closet, all black. In the morning, between my father’s crying, the red waling of ambulances, the shuffling of feet and papers, and the feel of cheap, ribbed waiting chairs, I learned the word ‘apnea’ for the first time. And visiting her in her silent hospital room, I learned the meaning behind a word I’d thought, up until then, was obvious: ‘dead-weight.’
For days, every morning and evening I untied the balloons at their base and slowly let out the air. I pictured her at the park and listened to her exhale.
April 27, 2009
I will die soon, I know that for certain. The same summer will come, the same fall and winter, wrapped up violently in the same half-spring (as I’ve come so reluctantly to call it), will, without fail or deviance, come, I’m sure. It’s been 17 hours since the 13th beginning and in writing, for the first time this Year, I can’t help feeling a tumultuous trembling surging through my insides, a dizziness, a thought that grips me, that slaps me in the face, drags my eyes to the wall clock shadowing the typewriter intermittently, and a hundred times an hour tells me that I am wasting time. I will die soon, I know. I will die April 13th in a death, which in my most morbid lapse I’ve determined will last 7 minutes and 6 seconds. My story is a story of numbers, of faces, and metered movement. And yes, the allusive nature of my life (if you can title such a beginning and end[?] as so) kills me. That most stable of certainties, above the seasons, TV cycles, and the contents of newspapers—the dart-sure affirmation that this is all a joke, that someone, somewhere, is pulling the strings and never gets tired of the same show, still gets me. Even in the brightest pockets of the Year, the knowledge—that He is a child pressing the life from his crying creatures—sucks me into a morbid humor I never knew to exist. And that laughter that echoes up from the world’s bottomless wells can cocoon me ‘til half-spring in its blackest madness.
December 24, 2008
Thomas Reddington, with his fingers still prune-y from the steaming bathwater, threw open the glossy windows leading to the veranda draped in nothing but a blue towel and a guitar. Outside, the cream walls enveloped him, cradling him atop the shiny, porcelain platform and with eyes half crazed and half wondrous, Mr. Reddington warmly shifted his gaze to the sea before him—the reason for buying the damned villa fifteen years ago. The expanse of water lazily jaunted around the edge of the dentist’s consciousness as he wafted, still lulled by the dreamy cream. Calmed by the ghostly hand of Mrs. Reddington stoking his hair, as she always used to do, Mr. Reddington let his limp hand fall and strike a chord. Major, sweet, and unmoving it proved to be. The waves lapped in as Mr. Reddington remained fixed on the sea (knowing the kettle was soon to screech) and before he turned in, back to his routine, back to his impassive smile that greeted the deluge of recent condolences, he noticed that to him, now, the sea sang not of its unfurling beauty, but rather a mysterious and unpromising utility. He crawled back inside—his joint pains coming back to him all at once.