Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Character Sketch: C.

C.
is a precocious child.
Born like an avalanche into her broken parent's lives but they sifted through their different races and religions, blizzards and traffic jams to find enough love for her even if they didn't have enough for each other. Her mother held her every night and thought that C. was scared, but the only thing C. thought about is big red balloons sticking to branches.

C. was calm on the inside until she was three and then her world was all princesses, Kitty-cats, moo-cows, and puzzles. C. wiggles while in time-out and runs around naked. She knows no rhythm but dances. Her S's sound like P's and she loves carrots and nothing green. For Halloween she was a jack-o-lantern-superhero-princess. She said, "cricket or cleat" and everyone ruined it for her when they said, "No, it's trick or treat."
Once she sang about rockin' and rollin' all night, without knowing some consider that the devil's music. She slept under her bed and pretended to brush her teeth until someone told her monsters lived under there and that the tooth fairy wouldn't take a rotten tooth. By then, she knew how to paint with more than her fingers and she noticed things that blew in the wind and far off noises.
When she was six, her mother found four gray hairs in C.'s Hershey kiss colored curls and C. cried harder with each pluck. She thought she broke a toy once, and she wanted to forget it, to hide it from her babysitter, to never break her own heart again. But she realized what living really felt like when it snapped back together. Unfortunately, C. didn't know that not everything is an easy of a fix.
C. didn't concern herself with where things came from but she always asked, "Where is the daddy?" when the story said, "Daddy" but didn't picture him on the page. C. skinned her knees, too many times for scars not to form, while learning to ride her bike. She said, "I hate you" by the monkey bars, to a boy who loved her but pushed her, and bit her, and cut a chunk of her waist length hair to her ear. C. did like the weight off of her, but it all grew back.
She visited her daddy only once. The day she got back home, C. stared down at the palm tree on her one souviner t-shirt as her mother washed the lice from her head.
C. kissed a boy, as a "double dog dare," under an elm tree, then was bitten by a spider on her knee. That night she cried while her mother pushed puss from the bite mark and until she saw Andy kissing Leslie behind Burger King, she thought it was all worth it. C. wondered if she would forever associate heartbreak with oozing wounds. Her mother said, "Your knees are strong." And C. said, "But nothing else is." And her mother said, "You're tough." And she said, "I'll never be the same." And her mother said, "I love you." And C. said, "I know."

Character Sketch: B.

B.
is painfully beautiful.
Hair like crimson waves down her back and eyes so blue everyone always thinks, "Purple." She often felt she was going to cry and didn't know why. So she said to the man on the barstool next to her, "Take me home and leave me there." B. tripped up his steps and he weaved his fingers through her mess of curls and she felt the need to stare out his window.

She lives in New York, NY--the city that never shuts up. At two o'clock in the afternoon, the street sweeper reminds her of a cyclone. With underwear in her back pocket, a bum on the F train says, "Youth is beauty, beauty is beauty, beauty is pain."
B. has the same dream every night. A phoenix unable to rise above the flames and her father eating salmon in a river bed. Then she wakes up with a cat on her face and B. says, "I'm happy you're home." The cat blinks. Her neighbor downstairs plays the piano. Sometimes B. imagines a little boy learning his scales, other times an old lady losing her sight. She dances to the tune and every time a key clanks abruptly B. smiles with one knee bent and one hand toward the sky. She used to wear tutus as a little girl, pink like swollen gums or cotton candy. She wanted to dance forever--one day on Broadway--but she fell off her bike at twelve and broke her foot. Her mother cried more than she. Her mother packed up all her blue ribbons and ballet shoes and B. never wanted to look for them.
Now, B. works at a gallery in SOHO and conceptual art makes her pull her hair out, one strand at a time. There is a pile of curls on her desk and she wonders how she has any left on her head. One day, a man spread sand in the corner and put little plastic castles down in neat rows. He hung seagulls from the ceiling with colored yarn. And he glued shells to the walls, then neon-glow spray-painted them, frantically until his nose ran with orange and blue snot. She stood from her chair as he poured colored carbonated water in a cardboard box marked with red "fragile" letters. B. remembered the word, "Whoa" but it came out, "Who-ah" and he laughed a cricked laugh--teeth jutting out like broken glass.
She felt like she'd been shot, if only she knew how that felt. B. could imagine that it felt the same way she imagined what poison would taste like. B. could imagine that it felt the same way she imagined dialing a phone without knowing the number. So she pulled another strand out, then another, and another. The artist shuffled over, his shoes scratching sand on the lime tiles. He picked up her hair and said, "My jellyfish." And she said, "Yes." And he said, "My mind has been numb with sea foam for years." And she said, "I'll trade you highways of thoughts and regrets." And he said, "Here take my crab exoskeletons."
B. laughed her way to the bathroom then cried in the stall until the space between her heart and rib cage felt like fire. She crushed the crabs under her bare feet and left them under separated squares of toilet paper. B. went home to dance with her cat.

Character Sketch: A.

(first in a series of 26)

A.

is unquestionably average.
Brown hair that is only curly when wet, but fluffy when dry. His eyes, almond shaped with no particular sparkle.
In seventh grade, A. had to take D.A.R.E classes and he asked, "Is an alcoholic always an alcoholic? Even if he's on a deserted island without a corner store in sight. For years and years with lips as bone dry as the rocks under the midday sun." This teacher said, "Yes." That day, A. accepted his mother's lack of hope.
He used to have acne but took that medicine that causes depression in some. He says he feels the same without pimples.
A. had kissed three girls by that time. Well, one was more like CPR, that one summer night he was swept under the current. And One was a "double dog dare" but Leslie, she kissed him behind Burger King when he was 17. Her hair smelled like fries and his fingers greasy from the all-beef patties. After that, the only words she spoke to him were orders.
A.'s mother left his father because his father could never finish anything but a case of beer.
A. put marshmallows in his ears that day and he kind of figured the world was much better if it was muffled. Too bad he had been hungry, so he decided wax wasn't so bad if it coated sugar.
During high school he was asked to join the yearbook staff but he said, "No, I don't want to make a book of memories about this place." And his counselor said, "That's terrible." And he said, "No, it's a lie. " And she said, "Oh good." And he said, "Because if that book were filled with real memories, people wouldn't read it." And she said, "Oh that's terrible." And he said, "They would want to forget."
So, he graduated high school without having joined a single club, without having played a single sport, without dancing or holding hands.
A. went to state college and his roommate, Derek, had dusty blond hair and a pointy nose. This roommate's left arm had a deep dimple in it. He's had it since birth and A. wished he had been stabbed during his amino too. "Why, why?" Derek asked. "Conversation starter," A. mumbled, turning toward the wall.
A.'s favorite food is hot pockets. Every time he burns his mouth he can't wait to relieve the pain with the frozen center. He thinks, "I burnt the top of my mouth today, and now I can feel myself growing back."
At 22, he began taking pictures and drinking whiskey. His mother told him to make sure he can always feel the future on his skin. He worried about his bad breathe and his virginity often but his fingertips were always soft.
One day, he waited for a bus under a bridge and he focused the lens of his camera while squinting from the glare of the sun. Suddenly, a shadow was falling and he clicked. Shame came over him as he heard her hit the ground, real as...real.
Cars stopped and cars honked. People cried and she took a breathe. And took his away.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trombone or ship horn



No matter where they are, their windows should be open wide. Especially when a night feels like all day. The ocean's a part of her the same way music notes live in the hallows of his mouth and ears, and even on his skin.
Their legs meet--cross--and have no need to surrender. She rises and falls, zig-zagging like the tides' affair with the sand. They follow the moon. He sings and kisses by the light of it. The waves tier and suddenly she's under him, bleating but with more wavering breathe.
Later, she wonders, biting her bottom lip softly, " What about light and time and the absence of both?" The only answer is that their fingers and toes feel like perfect weather finding its way back.
Maybe he thinks the knell doesn't sound so sad if it shares its space with a drum beat. He strums and plucks the strings and they both want to feel the power of "es hoy." But in the mean time, the tides stand still and she's asleep by dawn while he's in Spain.
Somewhere off in the distance, one hears a trombone and the other a ship horn.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And the stars


Who am I to lie under the sky, so full of stars that mean nothing? They are not speaking. Are they not seeing? Those balls of gas and matter are not mine. Are they not mine to wish on or touch like a penny? What is leaving indents on my palm? I clutch this penny and we are not lonely any more. Is it a "not-worth-it-why-keep-it-if-there's-not-a-million-more-where-it-came-from" kind of penny? No,it is the penny I hold the way I would the man I hope will be mine someday.
I can't, not for a minute, think the answers are in the stars. Even if I could feel the change in the sky, I would still want to crawl through the fields and find that one firefly, too tired to join the rest, and catch him with my eyes closed. There he would be, glowing on the bronze face of Lincoln in my palm. Maybe he, too, is smiling with a tear stuck to his eyelash--if only this firefly had them.
But more than anything, I want that man to touch my face with his, so I could tickle his cheek with my lashes and he would tell me it feels like a tiny caterpillar. And then I would smile while he kissed my eyes. I would give him my penny, and give him my firefly, give him give him give him. Until I had no more. Until I had only the stars to give, even though they're not even mine. At least after all that, they would mean something.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

There were elevators there

Someone once said to just throw it all away. So we overcompensated. We traveled through time. I saw you from the closet and you said I could be a stewardess from the seventies. I stepped out of the plane.

I was in the nineties and she was so hungry, I went to find the big krackers in the little kabinet in the dark kitchen. I left her next to the window with snow in her hair and went into her mind. I wanted to bring her Buddha back and put it in her empty hands. If I were better at time travelling I would have said, "Here's some enlightenment."

I saw the burned books--frayed pages covered in red. I wanted to cry but the smile stuck. I hurt for the words but I appreciated the art. Even if it wasn't for it's own sake.

I whispered through the crack under the bathroom door, "There's beauty here and it's pefect just where it is."

We never wanted to be alone and I said even if the word perfect were spelled wrong she would still be it. We cried and she said, "I'll know you when we're forty." We cried and I asked her if I would be a mother.

We write our own histories and we see it on the Brooklyn bridge, hear it in the jazz music, and all that matters is that we hold it in our tiny hands. We are beauty and pain. We are a pair of legs, a pair of eyes, and we are metaphors.

You make my lips quiver and my eyes water.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smoke through the window

Tonight, I resisted the urge to blare my music. I take soft steps around soiled socks then blow foul smoke out the crack of a window. The same one I watch the seasons change through. My tree-top jungle--with the Brooklyn Queens Expressway far enough in the distance to sound like crashing waves--turns into skeletons missing their clothes. The same window I squint through the mid-day brightness to watch people shake cocktails on a roof deck. In the summer, I watch them on their perch and fantasize about sun-soaking my skin on their lounge chairs. Then I realize I live in a voyeuristic city. I remember all the kisses those cocktail sippers have seen through my window over the year and I bet myself two more minutes of sleep that if I ever made it to that roof deck, I would see my bed through this window and want to be sprawled across it. Kissing a man with cigarette breathe.

Monday, December 15, 2008

course


People: Revoke/Strange & Beautiful

Can you have an itch and itch it?

I actually hate the transit sensation while sitting
cross-legged on the ground.

Maybe after all the fruit has rotted, I'll
get the courage to move
with my view.

Can you scratch a scratch?

Any more pent-up emotion
I think I'm going to explode.

I actually want men to
let me be
me
maybe stand up and look
out the window with me.

Or is it always itch a scratch?

I would rather be still
on the inside instead
of holding my breathe.

People

The beauty in people
is that they are strange and complicated.
Sometimes I feel like I'm made of paper
and I'm truly thankful for 24 hour laundry mats.

I'm happy with the feeling of moving
while being still.

If I could have any job
I would be a professional Cinderella
and I will write books about
the way things really are
even if no one wants to read them.

Maybe I'll write about men
knowing how to be what I want
them to be.

When one whispers in my ear
that I'm beautiful
I don't feel strange
or complicated
I just know I am.

That's not so tragic is it?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Steve Grossi's 5 Words

It's Different Than Mine

I sat with an old friend
grazing on thoughts--
at the time they were future plans.
Back when repeated themes
in my works were uncommon.
He told me that day--
way up on that broken fence
post--that he loved me.
Then I told him to go
and be a chef
by the ocean.
On our drive home--
long after the sunset,
our cigarettes
became butts and ash,
but before our dreams were real
and large,
scary and welcoming--
I ran my car
right into a mountain.
And we laughed together.
But I don't think
the alphabet ever stopped
writing itself on the backs
of my eyelids.
In his drive way, we talked
about philosophers, but not really
knowing much except that truth
is perspective.
I realize now--
what I didn't then--
that's just common knowledge.
Then we kissed
that single time.
Never before and never since.
I giggle now
because the next year--
while he sauteed and reduced wine--
I learned Plato's concept of platonic love.
It's different than mine.

I have known this angel for a while


An angel,
except her wings are made
out of microwavable TV dinner trays.

Don't we all want the truth?
And the lies?
Really. Because what are we without one?

And sometimes she cries
for no reason--
with her head
in the kitchen and her belly
in the bathroom.

Don't we all want
to freeze in the flames
and tell everyone
about things
that are still going to happen?

She forgives us all,
but while she sleeps.
Only in our dreams
we can't be scared
of rage
or nervous
because there isn't any rage at all.

Last night,
she shut the front door on me and said,
"Don't we all just speak through walls anyway?"
And I held onto the knob
and wondered.
Do we want to understand our parents in our age or theirs?

She whispered and my fingertips moistened,
"If we know, then what's left?"

From the mind of a future published author...

Three-year-old Naomi is at it again. Brilliance seeps from her mind:

This one is called, "Princess Jack-o-Lantern"

A very fun Princess who
lived in the woods where
no one is allowed to go.
But it's just a song, you know.
Down by the river, there's a
jack-o-lantern but I can not
go because I have to go home
and save the baby. I'm just drawing
notes. Big ones, like a smile
and I like jello and
it's very fun to just stand that way.
Forever but you go to the wild
jack-o-lantern who lived by the sea
but can't go because he tripped
over his wet socks.
And he knows a Princess
named Cinderella who crosses her legs
when she sits down and she draws
the notes she sings for her friends
who are not Princesses and underwear
and jack-o-lantern dies
so no one goes-never-ever.