Bathroom Mirror

What about the smirk hiding inside his words made her snap at him?
It was more of a sneer — she was sure of it.
A fish hook snarled under thin lips.

She snarled at herself in the mirror
bare, uneven teeth;
red rising — blotchy and adamant.

Fuck You” — she had mouthed the words softly at him.
Lips tucked and flipped.
She did it now.

No one at the party saw.

But everyone saw the glass of rum splashed onto her face.
Gasps echoed her,
Prickled her skin
as she emptied into the bathroom.

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Stories We Tell

It isn’t possible to tell the entire story. It must be picked apart carefully — offered as pieces of plot and character and meaning.

There are layers.

Of history. Of self-delusion. Of love. Of knowledge. There are the foundations laid down by someone else, that enter our talk and the way we love and hate and speak. The poison that seeps into us, without our knowledge or consent — that we must either accept or fight against every day. Most days we choose to be poisoned.

Brush aside the doubts, soak up the fear that has seeped into our telling — undo time’s certain, yet careless healing.

The trees seem to be watching me. I am remembering your face.

Boys

Left alone on a page — the word, Love – looks promising. A secret code; unhinged from meaning — without being empty exactly, but hollow nonetheless.

My boys call me and tell me when they beat their wives.

Remorseful, Emphatic. They tell me why it happened. How. They accept blame. It doesn’t happen all the time, I am told (only when they are drunk). They are not defensive, they sound tired and matter-of-fact. Defeated.

I protest. My outrage feels performed, used. They know my knives are blunt. They understand that I have left this battlefield and that I won’t trouble them with my uncomfortable, inconvenient rage. All I have left is an exhausting sadness.

My heart is in pieces, I tell them. They know.

I folded it up inside, dusty valves and all. My heart.

Still pulsating, I poured out the blood, emptied out my arteries of its prickly, noisy current. It was pumping too much blood to my brain, which grew warm in a familiar way.

The warning was whispered, not roared.

Knowing better and doing better are not the same. One is good for giving advice, the second is reserved for people like that guy who jumped in front of an oncoming train to save a stranger. He won an award. (Because he did not die while saving a man’s life.) He said it was his destiny to jump, save, be a hero. He said he would do it again. In a heartbeat, he said. Even if it meant leaving his two daughters (who were 5 and 7 years of age) alone in the world with a step-mom who did not love them.

I heard it on the radio. And it made me weep.

In real life, with some measure of appropriate remorse that ensures that I may not be a sociopath (maybe), I become angry when I see other people cry.

Cliches and Mistakes Fog, Blind

Poetry Night

Her poetry made me uncomfortable.

Not because it was bad, quite not. But because it brought to mind her heart hanging by a bloody tendril and swinging like a pendulum between her large, billowy bosoms. I see inside her cavernous lungs, her heart awaiting a careless snip.

Just keep walking, folks. Don’t mind my heart splattered all over the asphalt. There are plans to hose down the sidewalk. Try not to step on any arteries. The concrete looks stained. Don’t worry too much, though. Those slabs will be pried loose and discarded. New cement will be poured. Mind it, no imprints on this one.

This time around we will keep it smooth, clean and hard.

Gag-Stuff Fury

I am looking for a fight, I know it. The kind that tastes pennies. The kind that lets me say, “fuck you“. Slowly. Meaning it. Not as a laugh, joke, haha.

No.

I want to say, “fuck you” and look you in the eye. I want to talk you into taking a flying fuck. And I want you to deserve it.

I never get to be vindicated. Not nearly enough, not to my satisfaction. My choked rage is a castrated old thing. My fury seethes, frothy. It can be chilling, but it never explodes. It is polite, speaks clearly, cries and most importantly — uses its words. It says “please“. And “you have hurt me” and “I am sorry for this” and “you are forgiven” and “I understand“. That’s its language.

I wish to gag-stuff my musty outrage into a drawer. Light a new kind of fire.