Day to Day Poetry, Day to Day Writing, poetry, Short Fiction

#15

My new therapist is an ex-tv producer
who used to hold business meetings with reality show directors
and actors, and marketing geniuses
only to curl herself in the washroom and cry.

She would take walks,
a cup of coffee in each trembling hand,
just to get away.

She doesn’t mean to tell me this,
she always asks, “What about you?”
But I’m an expert at misdirection,
this is how I know

how my other therapist loved musicals,
but her husband hated it, so she went alone,
how she pored over two volumes of Persepolis in one night,
because it reminder her of me,
how she fretted over which rug to put in her new office,
how she felt overwhelmed by having a new office,
how she thought the panhandler outside sang too loud
and disturbed her clients,
how she thought the retirement home she brought her mom to
was sad,
how she killed herself shortly after
we stopped seeing each other.

Both of them said I’m always on time with payment.
I don’t want you to listen to me for nothing.

She loves asking me ,”Why,”
And I want her to know,
That it’s not the external that matters –
not the job you can’t have, not the money you don’t have,
not the relationships that broke you.

That’s the easy part.

It’s the living with yourself.
It’s the waking up in the morning and forcing,
with all of your strength,
to get out of bed,
to sludge on to the tasteless coffee,
to slither inside clothes you know doesn’t define you,
to look at the person in the mirror you no longer recognize,
the growing older, the years wasted
trading your soul for the practicality of adulthood,
if you work too much, you get too sick,
if you play too much, you go insane.

In this routine, interpersonal world of
commutes, and plastering smiles while out for drinks with friends,
and sideways glances that tell of wishing I am not here,
it’s the mind, my dear,

it’s the dead, unbeating heart that
performs the final act,
that delivers us to the gods.

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Day to Day Writing, Flash Fiction, Short Fiction

#7 Revision

Guilt kept our apartments clean.

It was the monster that pushed me into back-breaking labour; the frenzy that possessed me to keep scrubbing until our little cave reeked of bleach and disinfectant. Our cat yowled scathingly, perched on top of my bookshelf, watching me from afar.

It never calmed my guilt – the routine just buried it. My guilt was insurmountable – a Goliath I could never keep quiet. It walked with me every step I took, and sat on my shoulders until the burden kept me from ever being able to look anybody else in the eye, because I was no longer upright. I forgot how to detach myself from it; it is always inside me, at the forefront, right smack in the middle, centre stage, hidden by layers and layers of masks I’ve learned to put on through the years, until  I’ve forgotten where polyester ends, and my skin begins.

I can pinpoint exact moments in the life we once shared together where we made wrong decisions. We wasted so much of our youth. An entire decade of missteps and dead ends.

That one sunny afternoon when I was curled up beside the dormitory phone, legs tucked underneath me, you said, “This is what you wanted, right? It’s better this way, right?” Your yearning for my approval came through more clearly than your voice fighting static over the phone.

Kneeling over you in the hallway of your mother’s house, while you tied your shoes, and you looked up at me and whispered so your family won’t   hear, “You don’t think I feel bad about this? Don’t you realize how bad this makes me feel?”

Waiting for you in a coffee shop in the frozen tundra that was Mississauga, sipping on on watery, tasteless coffee I spent our last $2 on, and everything we ever owned packed inside a single suitcase I kept beside me, everything depending on this one job interview, and you came into the cafe, with a grin on your face, sat down in front of me and said, “Got it,” and I immediately burst into grateful tears.

Lying down in an empty apartment I was so proud of, dazed and confused, looking at my laptop with ever widening eyes and mumbling, “It was today.” “WHAT,” you jumped in from the kitchen, your pupils as wide as the sun – “It was today,” I repeated, sinking, “I missed it. I fucking missed it.”

Rolling a joint while the television blared, and I looked at you and said accusingly, “You haven’t gone home in days.” And you smiled back and said, “That’s because I live here now.” – “About fucking time you admit it.” – “This is what you wanted, right? It’s better this way, right?” “Yes,” I said, my heart in the palm of your hands, “Much better.”

Clutching each other on a single bed, trapped inside a room for days, and half-teasingly, half-threateningly joking about the landlord that was waiting for us outside the apartment for not having paid rent.

“Don’t be like that,” she said, her hand extended, about to reel me in for an embrace, “I’m your neighbour now. You HAVE to say hi. You can’t avoid me forever you know.”

“Where were you?” I hissed from our room. “Upstairs,” you said, avoiding my deathly glare. “It’s our FUCKING anniversary.” – “I know, I know, but you know how they get – it’s hard to get away”. I threw a pillow your way. You dodged it as smoothly as you held my hand on so many of our lazy afternoons – “If you fucking cared enough, you would have come home!”

Leading me through the frozen lake, our skates ripping on ice, stars never shone as bright as they ever did for us in Port Credit, and you said, “We got it all figured out, you know. This kind of thing doesn’t just happen twice.”

You opened your eyes to my worried face towering over you, shaking, our vicious argument forgotten, and you reached out and held on to my shoulder, like a frightened child and said, your voice trembling, “what happened? Oh god, what happened?”

Sitting across from me in the hospital, cradling hands, smiling awkwardly at each other, and you said, “Things are going to work out. It’s going to change. Things will get better. Promise you won’t give up yet.” – “Okay. I promise.”

Standing by the front door, your hand gripping the doorknob, half-facing me, half-turned away, and  you said, “This is all because of you. Because of a stupid decision you made that changed our lives. We had it good, you know, it wasn’t perfect but it was good! Why couldn’t you have just been happy?” – “You said things would change. You’ve been saying the same shit for 10 years! 10 years! I’m not waiting another 10 years just hoping things would change.”

“Well, I would’ve,” you said, opening the door for the last time, “I would’ve waited forever.”

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Day to Day Writing, Short Fiction, Uncategorized

#2 Epistolary

My love,

When I was young, my mother bought me a dress to wear to church. She thought it was beautiful. I hated it with passion. When we got home, I ran to our backyard, tore the thing off in half, made it into a cape, climbed the roof, yelled that I was Superman and jumped.

I think even then, deep inside, I knew that my self-made cape would not keep me afloat, but I jumped anyway – because I felt invincible – because I felt hopeful – because I was so sure, as sure as I knew that I would hit the ground – that the pain that would come from that fall, would be worth it.

For a while, that’s what you made me feel. That feeling of hope and invincibility that I thought was long extinguished inside me, suddenly came back full force – it clouded my vision, diluted my mind, stormed on my defenses. Liquefied – I was liquid with you, malleable, absorbent, transparent and destructible.

We once talked about superpowers. You didn’t know what yours was.

Remember when I asked you to tell me a story from your youth? You were always so convinced that the stories we tell are random and meaningless – that anecdotes from our childhoods bear no significance nor mark in our lives. But we tell the stories we do for a reason – and this was yours:

You said that when you were young, while you were in the scouts, you saw your father baking treats for the other members of your group. You asked if you could have one. And your father vehemently refused. No matter the tantrum you threw, your father  remained steadfast in his decision of not giving you a treat. It was the first time, you said, that you realized, your parents do not exist solely to please you.

In shock, I asked, “How old were you when that happened?”

You replied, calmly, “About ten. Eleven.”

I could barely keep the awe from my voice when the words slipped out of my mouth uncontrollably: “You’re very lucky to have held on to that idea for so so long, to not have realized otherwise until you were 11 years old.”

And you held me closer to you and said, words that melted my heart, “Well, it doesn’t matter now – you have me – and that’s how I can exist for you.”

Here’s a gift, from me to you – a lesson you can keep in your pocket when there’s nothing else worth taking.

Your superpower is your narcissism. It keeps you optimistic, hopeful and invincible. There are those who can only feel this indestructibility in very rare moments in their lives, if at all. Most of us are terrified, every hour of our day, every second. We feel vulnerable .We feel defeated. When we meet someone like you we feel elated. We feel protected just by being around you. We feel content, we feel stronger.

Because of your overflowing confidence, because of your optimism that things will always work out for you, things do work out for you – maybe not for us, not those around you who either figure in your life as accessories, or automatons – things you can use to fill gaps in your time, in your identity. But that’s the power of a narcissist – that you can turn people into weapons, and sidekicks. Always secondary to you. The upside of not feeling empathy, is the limitless ability to keep self-preserving.

Good luck my friend. And a fair warning to use your power responsibly. A string of broken hearts lined across the paths you’ve taken doesn’t make for a relatable, nor sympathetic superhero.

Before I go, let me give you one last story:

Throughout my high school years I collected rocks. Every place I went where I felt happy, I took a rock home with me to commemorate that day. My room slowly transformed into a room full of dirty, strangely-shaped rocks to anyone that entered it. No one knew the meaning behind them but me – but that was enough, it was all that mattered. I had grand delusions of becoming the world’s largest rock collector and surround myself with memories of happiness wherever I go.

But one day, I came home from school and saw that they were gone. It was all thrown away – just like that.

I cried for days – sadness that paralyzed me. I felt every part of my body slowly being destroyed. How can something be once there, and then be gone? How can something you love so much be taken away from you without your say?

How do we forgive ourselves for the things we did not become?

 

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Day to Day Poetry, Day to Day Writing, Flash Fiction, poetry, Short Fiction

#76

Hold his hand at Benicassim Festival: 17th of July
Tilt his head to the side, smile and say: “Scarier than Portishead”

I once said, teasingly, “I’ll be ready with my tommy gun,”
To which he grinned and replied: “Interesting choice.”

One night I saw him smile because of an assumption:
He was thinking Alice Gull, I was thinking Alice Ayres
I made sure to correct him: “You know… the stripper.”
A wince: “The pink hair?”
He wanted Alice Gull from Ondaatje: the activist, the nun
I wanted Alice Ayres from Closer: the stripper, the younger
Who once said, that famous line: “Here’s the truth so you can hate me.”
“Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist, wrapped in blood.
Go fuck yourself! You writer! You liar!”

–I like you because you think differently than other people (another assumption)
–(made sure to correct him: don’t idealize, it’s fatal) How do you know that?
–Pardon me? (hearing is different from believing)
–I SAID: How do you know that?
–(The Blonde Beauty looked away before replying with sad eyes) I guess.. I guess I don’t know that.

an was denken Sie? 
Answer (the hateful one): What am I doing here, why am I here, what am I doing
what do you want, what do I want, are you being truthful?
This pounding heart is screaming guilt, not love–
“Oh I was just thinking.. about your friend.. and the drive-in movie.. that’s hilarious.”
Told me in great detail his special relationship with a cat
“I don’t like (name of the other cat)”
Why not?
“Because you can do anything to her—roll her around in the floor—and she’d let you.”
Rolled my eyes. “She’s not special (because she loves everybody?)”
“Naaaah, but this cat—he only likes me. We have a special relationship.”

–I feel like a secret agent and we’re on a special mission!
–Over and out

–Have you ever had a sex dream about someone you are not remotely attracted to—and you enjoyed it so much that you woke up and started to doubt yourself?
–Someone I’m not remotely attracted to?
–If you have to think you’ve never had it.
–Yeah, not really.
REALLY?!
–No, I just kinda go with it
–Jesus man, that’s fucking hilarious!

We watched a raccoon cross the street stealthily
Its little fat belly dragging
— you know what racoons are called in German?
–What?
-Waschbär (Vash-bear)
-Like a bear??
-Like a tiny bear!

I remember our conversations. I remember your accusation: -You close-reading me?
My reply: -I close-read everybody, it’s a great hobby
(dodging, dodging: making you seem insignificant)
It also feeds my paranoia.
-Why paranoia?
-I don’t know…I think maybe close-reading people too much and making their actions mean more than they intend is a kind of paranoia.
And your rebuttal: I think it’s a kind of sensitivity.
And me asking, so slyly: what’s your favourite smell?
Your reply that made my heart leap: Women.

Try to recall the little tidbits that happened:
Concise, condense, narrativize
I am thinking of eternal car rides and euphemistic insults
of the war in the suburbs, you and me against the world
of jail times and punishments, of alpha females
of a single word that can change the world:
“This is the only immortality you and I may share, Lolita”

–You know what racoons are called in German?
— Waschbär
— Waschbär, that’s right. How do you know that?
–You told me.
–All right, wrong question: how do you remember?

–Oh my god! You can never move!
–what do you mean?
–I mean you can’t move! Look at all your books!
–I know right? That’s why people love being my friend—I won’t ever leave them.

–Do it, do it!
Hold up a warning finger: Please don’t.
Why not? You don’t want me to encourage you?
–That’s lust talking.

Clad in black leather, she stands in front of the class
A .45 Winchester magnum in her hand
The better ending to this otherwise deplorable story
A colourful one to fit your fiction

–but wait for the penultimate:
damsel in distress still in distress
the evil bitch that won’t, so she doesn’t:
and leave you with (though you [probably] don’t deserve it)
silence and
nothingness.

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Day to Day Poetry, poetry, Short Fiction

Day to Day Poetry #28

A night of vicious slander
of sleepless hours and devil-speak
of a mind made of chaos and havoc
that can only keep going –

but on my lips I wear hot pink,
and paint my eyelids black.
I smile sweetly to anyone who asks how I’m doing,
and wear clothes that shine right back.

I am devout and enthusiastic,
and walk with confidence and grace –
but inside I am so uncertain,
with a mind that has gone insane.

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