||[Aug. 25th, 2012|07:34 pm]
Before you mis-categorize this as just another epistle to Paul, let me clear something up:
Scrawled on sidewalks in the wake of clipping heels, written in headlight refraction and connect-the-dots exhaust rising toward the hazy city sky.
What I still can’t tell - and I’ll blame it on the funhouse mirrors - is which one of us is holding the gun and which one of us is dead.
But enough about you, let’s talk about me.
They do love to drag me back to objective reality – or what I assume is objective reality – these thick broads in Jersey hair and too-tight too-high jeans surrounding like jackals. They remind me of the ‘80s. They remind me of New York. Ain’t so bad, is it, little sister? Bet they make you feel like less of a whore than the old boss anyway, haw haw.
Listen, ladies: I only do it for the money. I only do it because cigarettes taste better when they’re well earned. I only do it because it makes me feel brave.
Yah, yah, yah. So, how’d a nice girl like you end up here?
Well, I’ll tell you: I started supine on a bench in the middle of Strawberry Fields and ended prone on a bed inside someone’s seven-thousand-a-month in the financial district. The hours between were spent counting trees and satellite dishes in a swirl of acoustic guitar. A shaggy haired boy with his head bowed was strumming earnestly--old tunes, Floyd and Lennon—while an ancient beat on crutches kept declaring himself mayor of this five-by-five square of concrete, conning tourists out of their fake-Fendi cash while his companion yelled coarsely, ohh, fuck off: any retart can put flowers on the ground in the shape of a peace sign, you fucking retart.
I covered my ears but still sang along with them, the boy and his guitar. He came over just to tell me I was lovely and, as always, so became my executioner. Up here, lovely, we sell ourselves for songs. Sure is something awfully poetic about that, don’t you agree? He had a grin like a self righteous shark. I could tell he thought he was better than me. He probably was. In which case I followed him back to the gutter.
They aren’t all poor like that. I graduated shortly to being taken out, rattled off flavors at five-stars: cherry, grape, lemon, lime but all I can do, all I can ever do is stare because these are foreign words to me; all I want, all I want for fuck’s sake are colors in my mouth.
I’m graceful-awkward like a caged lynx and wincing as I try to speak over the droning clink of silver surrounding, "I'm not even short on the rent this month. There's just something so damned romantic about a guitar in hock."
They give the littlest talk back, must not have heard me, “Right, so…how y’like Manhattan so far? Got a favorite baseball team? Don’t say the Yankees, now, huh huh.”
Well. No use in arguing the tenets of latitude vs. longitude.
The most important thing I’ve learned is:
1. Goddamn, I should’ve left you imaginary.
2. If you squint your eyes and ears just right, the groans and sighs become a high-speed chase by blue and red balloons flashing in the sun and the flakes on the ceiling, the flakes on the ceiling…
…cotton shavings rushing at the windshield like snow, tongues curled to catch the flakes; Jerusalem’s ashes but more sparkling. Surging clouds stick in the throat like meringue peaks and the wind plays cilia sweetly through the open highway window.
To the hillside, they’d promised me, doped beyond recognition and certain an acid swirl car crash would be quite a lovely way to expire.
Step One: Breathe broken glass crouched behind a locked bathroom door. Binge in secret: drugs, people, geography, crude oil, buses, cobblestone.
Step Two: Cover the tile with blank newspaper. And do be certain to leave tracks in your arm so you can find your way back, Gretel.
Step Three: Slide three fingers into the warm silk of your throat.
To the hillside, they’d promised me, in colors blazing bright. Gypsy skirts and scarves, things that twinkle and things that jangle; things that catch the light and refract it flying back towards the sun shattered into vagarious rainbows.
Truth is, ladies: I am an addict. It’s not the rough fingers on my stomach, no, it’s the heat in their eyes and in my belly, the way I become possessed. Obsessed. And the drugs, and the starvation and the view from inside my head and the way the bleached skull walls frame the landscape and the film strips melting behind my eyes.
It’s the smell, that desperation smell like sweet dirt and rotting meat and dead water lilies.
Sick, I lock myself in a bathroom stall and buckle against its unhealthy green. The tiles mock and twist, water swirls, women chatter noisily beyond the walls with witch cackles and I put a hand over my mouth and look to the stained ceiling to ground myself.
That hill looms insurmountable and neon. The automobiles cube my pupils and when I look to the trees again they are pixilated and square but at least the world entire is at my feet. I sink down to lie on my back and realize that my cheeks are wet with saltwater, though I cannot tell that I am crying, only that I want to. The world closes in like comfort while the tree bark moves and jerk-switches like binary code.
I lie on my back and burn pinholes into the darkening sky with my cigarette to make it rain. We melt. Our lashes thicken and our colors run together and swirl into the ground water.
We run back sodden, leaving snail paths of paint in our wake. The ink comes off in my rain wet little hands and paints me up like an Indian chieftess and I say hey, all I want is to communicate, it shouldn’t be so hard and hey, it’s quite a selfish enterprise after all, being an artist. We claim to have such dignity, such nobility, but it’s quite a selfish enterprise after all.
Yah yah yah, don’t look so down, babydoll. It’s better to sell your body than sell your soul, ain’t that right?
I am watching the way the needle weaves up and down on the record like highway hills and it skips and the words repeat in the air and in my head until they won’t come out ever again = I’ve found that a stranger’s sour fearsweat is no substitute for autumn rain.
I blow my smoke at his face to obscure his droning lips, sitting face to face on an anonymous bed somewhere in the middle of this anonymous city, “you fucks never let me talk. Don’t you know I only asked you that question so I could tell you my own answer?”
“So talk, then. Christ.”
“It was when I was masturbating to light refracting on a ceiling fan. Like a film reel,” I blow more smoke at him, “Saddest orgasm I ever had.”
In my sleep I hear hooves. I hear a thousand thousand birds beating their wings against the sky like helicopters. I always drop whatever is in my hands and run with them. I don’t know where they are going, but I did not know where I was going either.
Step One: Trade the television set for a plane ticket.
Step Two: Leave everything behind but your red dress and favorite stockings.
Step Three: Toss the gun into the ocean
Sailed my desk out to sea,
kneeling with fingers clutching tightly its corners as we bobbed across the ocean,
calm beneath the jade colored night sky.
Where I wake is where the sea runs up against cobblestone streets. A man carved from soft leather offers his hand to pull me aground, calls me bella, bonita, monaaaaada as my desk and I, we rum rum rumble onto the seashore, amnesia*tic.
I call my favorite shrink from a tin can to say, something is wrong, doctor, terribly wrong: I am feeling so well.
A prescription leaf sails over my head on salt breezes: before you go crying for help next time, first make sure no one is listening.
Or else they’ll talk you out of it again.
I dream of the way my own back bends, of my ribs protruding a fraction more each day. I lean back and look down at my own sweet brown skin. All in my pristine red dresses and the wedge sandals that lace white up my legs, tapping out missives on a hard dance floor. Curving my spine, pulling and kneading the air, my hair wild and shadowy black, ripe red roses caught up in its vines. They will call me gypsy, and we will smile shyly over small, clinking coffee cups the next morning
or we won’t.
I smoke too much. I am watching the smog from my lips hit the midtown window and dissipate, fall apart like the words with which I chase it, “So this is the nuclear war we have dreamed of. I never imagined the warheads would come equipped with silencers.”
“What the fuck you say, little girl? I’m not payin’ you to—look, why don’t you try gettin’ your little ass away from that window and sittin’ on my--”
When I close my eyes I can smell the sun. I can feel the heavy heat of fast swirling flamenco guitars on my bare shoulders.
And I will sink into the sand and listen to its hot breath on my ear. Long, tan limbs stretched out for miles; I will climb high enough that the fall down doesn’t look frightening anymore.
We lie careless on the beach and she tells me again that she adores how my aura burns; I tell her that her lips are rare. A man comes out of the sea and tries to impress us by swallowing the ocean entire; we laugh politely with shadows cast over our eyes from our own palms blotting out the sun.
Then in the late orange glow of the outdoor market, a rough hand falls onto mine and …
another moment cataloged
... in my warm Spanish room, all stucco and tile, we arrange fresh flowers in a half empty bottle of red wine so that it doesn’t go to waste and children cackle like music in the darkening square below.
To get him the hell out in the morning I say to him like they’ve said to me, you’re a social disease, a sexual dysfunction.
The difference is though: in case we meet again I promise, with onyx crystals clinging to my lashes, I promise to say I’m sorry like I mean it.
Looking out at the shimmering gun barrel reality of the Chrysler Building I am convinced that, at twelve-ninety-five-per-suicide, the spectators are getting off far too cheaply. So I come away from the window with my
trampled straw suitcase and
tattered red dress.
wilted rose in my hair.
Step One: The cigarette trembles between chattering teeth
Step Two: The horses pause to taste Lot’s wife whilst fire falls on Gomorrah. You pause to taste the sulfur.
Step Three: Breathe.
Paramnesia so luscious I can recall it at will; sick empathy for this soul, sloshing rusty, brackish sweat like old rainwater in the bottom of a bucket. He’s pumping away so industriously that I must remind myself to hate instead of laugh.
I bet your wife and children are around the kitchen table right now, all studying geometry and finding it funny that the book’s illustrations remind them a little of the eventuality and inevitability of a bullet entrenched in your fetid mutton torso. Trust me
where the fuck you are, mister.
It’s easier when there are clocks on the walls, so you can play twenty-minutes ‘til, thirteen minutes ‘til, two minutes ‘til, thirty-seconds ‘til I’m sorry mister but our time is up. I feel like we really made a breakthrough in this session though.
Truth is: I like this more than is proper. But only after.
“I should have listened to my papa. He told me I’m worth more than getting turned out in New York City. Because that’s all that gon’ happen in New York City, child.”
He smells like hours; a clumsy two way radio, signal bouncing between buildings:
“Honey, your papa’s full of shit.”
“Actually, mister,” I am back at the window, all wrapped up like biblical innocence in a sullied sheet, “I have it on good authority that my father is god.”
He mumbles around a cigarette, trying several times to light it but, ah, the goddamned wind in this non-smoking hotel room, “You know, I don’t think whores are supposed to talk so much.”
He thinks he’s better than me. Maybe he is. In which case--