Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The same old

The smell of my feet makes me uncomfortable.  I left my shoes outside of the front door of the last three apartments to not drag it in. But here it is. And I can't avoid it. You run from something long enough and eventually you forget about it. 


Or it catches up. 

I bartered with this guy I used to work with, Juan, for his back stock of those odor eating shoe inserts. I've been out for months. 

Juan used to pick up dishes from dirty tables at the restaurant I worked at. Not the one with the shitty boss. But the one that gave vacation time if you worked six day a week. Juan worked six days there. And seven at the place with the shoe inserts. He always showed up with a tie and no name tag. I suspected he made his other seven days out to be better than these six. But when we are both just trying to get by unnoticed you don't ask to much about it. 

But back to the issue at hand. 

Or foot. 

I can't sleep. I can smell my feet through the sheets. And the blanket. And the comforter. And the stench lingers. And settles in my nose. And I think about the last time it happened. 

I had athlete's foot the day before the first day of junior high.  I stayed up all night worried I wouldn't fit in. And that the older kids would know my feet itched. And that first day of gym we'd have a lady come in and check our toes and if we weren't clean I'd be destined to seventh grade forever. 

I never want to be in seventh grade again. 

Especially forever. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Further and further

Lacy cleans the windows once a week. On Thursday. One week she does the inside. The next week the outside. Except the small window in her closet. 


It's useless, by the way. The window, at least. 

She leaves the closet door closed. Except when she's getting dressed. And she makes sure her kids don't use it as a hiding place when they play hide and seek. 

Stacey hid there once about three years ago. When Lacy found him wedged between her winter coat and a dress she wore in high school she pulled him out by his wrist and slapped his face. His tears mixed with the blood from his nose as he ran out the front door and down the street. Lacy ran her fingers down the seam of the dress. 

When she does open the closet door she traces the curves of an S that's worn it's way through the dirt on the tiny window. She presses her thumb hard into the glass at the end. She closes her eyes and hears the last thing he said. 

"Merry Christmas, and a happy new year."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Never Not Near

There is a pile of ripped up paper by his feet. Bits of popcorn that doesn't make his mouth dot the perimeter of the pile. His companion looks back towards the road they took in and squints to read the sign. His elbow brushes her arm.
"Huh?"
Ralph keeps staring forward.
"Why not the favorite Ralph? Why these long shots? Why do you do it to yourself? Just go with them. Ralph, go with the winner. Go with the winner."

She pulls out the chair at the short table and asks to change the channel on the television to her right.
"You can't smoke in here."
She removes the cigarette from her lips and flips open her wallet. Her fingers graze the ends of dirty bills while she counts backwards in her head.
"Six Seventy-Two please."

Ralph wrings his hands then flattens his shirt against his bulging gut. He pulls a paper from his pocket and blows it a kiss.

"Go with the winner."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Salad Days

We spent all day in the car. I haven't driven like that in ten years. We checked landmarks and empty buildings off a list of places that shaped us. You pointed to an exit that you just drive past now. I stole drags from your cigarette. I made sure to hold it in as long as possible. And to graze your fingers in the exchange.

I kept my window closed. The smoke sat in front of my eyes and the headlights bloomed. You sang along with a girl younger than you but knew your pain. Somewhere down the road I sat.

I watched us pass by, a blinking of eyes and swirl of tongues.  I counted stripes to see how fast we went.

We passed a plastic bottle of lemonade that had turned sour from the heat. It only amplified the booze we got that morning.

I never wonder how I got here.

You told a story of your mom and her patron saint. Of her knickknacks and charms. Of her rituals and spaces. And how you find yourself slipping in. And for all your flailing you just sink deeper. And maybe you should just swim. Or maybe you should just stop.

I count your breaths and think of gardens I read about and gardens I've seen. I name boats after the children I'll never have. And breathe life into plans I'll forget in the morning.

I could apologize for the world. I could board up the windows and doors and let it all go. I could make a list of names that never meant anything to me.

I never wonder how I got here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

sports

I have never pounded on a door. I have sat half way up the stairs to the landing of an apartment. The little stones pressed into the hand I sat on. I examined the skin on my knee and tried to work out plans for the morning. 


It was a list. 

Names of friends and coworkers. Distances from that stair case. The availability of a couch or floor. 

I had developed an ability to create long detailed lists internally and never cross any of the entries of. 

Occasionally I flick a cigarette that's not there. And it reminds me I eventually learned to make less lists. And to cross things off. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A Long Time Coming

The pages have been stacking up. They yellow in lines as the sun breaks through the mini blinds in the second room. On days when I am home I throw one hastily penned page in the trash for every church bell ring. Cobwebs, dust, spiders, and rings from wet glasses gather anywhere they can. Some melody bounces in my head and I think about when I would just run to some dark space to drown and choke whatever demons or semi-demons would pop up.

The joys of your skin growing is that it gets easier to grab a hold of. It is easier to start ripping from the rest of you. And you can push it back together. You can make it fit how you want. You can use it as an excuse for the things you do and do not want to do.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Brian Cummings

You left town about sixteen years ago. One Tuesday in March you were sitting in front of me in a science class. Then you weren't. But I heard you were doing pretty good for yourself.  A new pair of boots showed up in time for the first snow. And your second son is saying his first words. The car starts every morning and no one mentions that night at Ray's anymore. I wonder what you think about every night in that second just before you fall asleep and dream of the old boulevard and that house on the corner you told your mother you would buy for her when she retired. Does the sting of no one clapping when your name was called during graduation from eighth grade return? Does the smell of Kristen after your first kiss at my birthday party bring back the chill of November desert nights? Or do you hope this is the last night away from home?