Monday, June 29, 2009

I remember...

I wrote this freshmen year of college in my lyrical essay class (taught by the great Sarah Manguso). I have a million new memories since then, but this poem represents the parts of me that made me who I was at the time. I do wish I had included more mistakes that I remember but, at the time, I wasn't willing to admit those. I'll post another I remember and include those too.

I remember...

I remember the first time I lied. I said I had been using the same toothbrush for six months. Within three minutes I felt really stupid for saying it.

I remember flying on a place on September 18, 2001.

I remember a dream I had where Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton robbed a 7-11. The cops came and took off the robber's masks. Nixon's face appeared from under the Clinton mask and Nixon was actually Clinton.

I remember all those times I forgot where I parked my car.

I remember learning what real fear is from my brother when he had knives in his hands.

I remember thinking I was smoking my first cigarette; it turned out to be a joint. I was the "look out" for my brother and his friends. My brother let me take a drag. I was seven. I don't remember the first real cigarette I smoked, but I assume I was expecting the same effect.

I remember the smell of apricot trees.

I remember reading the first and last pages in every book I picked up in the library.

I remember collecting smiley faces.

I remember begging my mom to stop buying me every smiley-face collectible that she came across.

I remember Sweet Valley High books.

I remember not liking a girl because she was beautiful.

I remember meeting my stepdad. He walked into my house when I was eight. My mom and I got into his 4x4 truck and drove for five hours through the Colorado Mountains. We planned to only stay for New Year's weekend but we got snowed in and never left.

I remember the day in gym class when I, literally, ran into my first love.

I remember the embarrassment of throwing up next to the fountain in the fanciest restaurant in town. I can't eat plums anymore.

I remember sunsets in Florida. Streets that are too clean in Washington. Amusement parks in Missouri. Clear lakes in Arkansas. The airport in Chicago. And the faces of mountains in South Dakota.

I remember using an entire roll of film taking pictures of Arizona palm trees.

I remember my six-year-old mind thinking Indians were hiding behind every bush when I ran up the hills in Utah. I remember the disappointment of their abscence.

I remember visiting Iowa. I went to the house of the artist who painted American Gothic.

I remember babysitting so I could play with toys.

I remember not being able to sleep after my mom said, "Good night, don't let the bedbugs bite," the day I found out bed bugs were real insects. I never let her say it again.

I remember making love on a bed with no sheets. When it was over he asked to put fresh ones on for him. I remember that I did.

I remember being bored for a year, so I made my room into a huge collage. It turned out I was just depressed.

I remember the smell of overflowing ashtrays.

I remember getting my first tattoo. I remember getting all of my tattoos.

I remember leaving baby teeth I lost in cups of saltwater on the counter for the tooth fairy, rather than under my pillow.

I remember breaking a ceramic bunny that my mom made for me when I was a baby. I kep it a secret for a year. That same year, I kept my rape a secret. When I told my mom, she asked why I let her think I was a slut for a year. I don't keep many secrets from her anymore.

I remember the way the sky looked the moment I was bucked off a horse.

I remember the expression on my mom's face when my aunt called her a cunt in front of me. It was in the car after my aunt bought me a 90210 comforter for my 11th birthday.

I remember kissing girls when we played house. I don't remember who played the husband.

I remember girls saying, "She's a slut," and me always thinking, "You have done the same things she has."

I remember Reading Rainbow.

I remember crippled Shane. The entire hallway in my high school would be empty and, still, he ran over my foot with his wheelchair. I remember the "Republican" license plate on the back.

I remember meeting my friend Alicia in a tree.

I remember reading the word, "Whoa" and thinking it was pronouced, "Who-ah."

I remember turning left while driving when I meant to turn least once a week.

I remember loving the way a really ugly guy smelled.

I remember learning to play the violin, only because my uncle gave me one.

I remembering seeing a shooting star. It was the night I moved across the country.

I remember singing while riding through meadows. I don't remember any of the songs. (Except 2 years after I wrote this, my mom remembered that it was a Beatles song...the one that goes: "I don't like you, but I love you, you really got a hold on me."

I remember rotten milk.

I remember falling asleep in my toybox.

I remember suddenly liking tomatoes.

I remember my fingers always being sticky from fuit snacks and smelling like Kool-Aid. Now they just smell like cigarettes.

I remember being a cowboy in the only play I was in.

I remember the hot summer day when my stepdad made me pick up all the rotten crabapples in my back yard. It was my punishment. I don't remember what I did.

I remember laughing so hard I farted.

I remember saying, "Also, too, as well," knowing it all meant the same thing.

I remember my first pimple, my first period but I don't remember my first kiss.

I remember laughing at the jagged line of eyeliner the first time I applied it.

I remember doing all my friends' hair for prom before I did my own.

I remember my date and me eating Taco Bell for dinner in my Ford Escort in the parking lot right before prom.

I remember coming to college, thinking I knew who I was, only to realize I'm so far from who I want to be.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Smoker's cough

Have you ever confused a dream for life?

I take too much aspirin.
My mind throbs
until my back aches.

I eat when I'm not hungry.

I need to say, "I don't know"
I need to say, "I'm sorry"

I'm intense on the inside.

Someone always says,
"Look who it is,"
when I walk into a room.
I don't get embarrassed
often but
it's not hard
to hurt my feelings.

I smoke too much.
I don't write enough.

Lie in the beds we make

Some of the time
logic and love
don't fit on the same bed.
We become dirty ghosts,
wearing the same sheets
I count the minutes
and he does too,
but the possibility
that what we wait for
are on opposite sides
of the room is too large
to fit through a door.
How do we forgive?
Maybe in our dreams.
Maybe in rage.
Maybe in silence.
Maybe in our excesses
of warmth and coldness.
Maybe in the early light
of the day,
with sleep in our eyes
when our lips are dry.
We lie like question marks
and I turn off the light.
The room fills with one thought:
Is our love a soft breathe,
or is it suffocating us?


If I could be anything else I would be:
a fish
Native American.

I would be born of flame but turn to ash and fall apart at the touch.

My magic would take away the mean. Being a fish would carry me to the sea. Maybe if I were an Indian I would know my Grandmother.

What color will I become in my own fire?

I have never found more than $5 but I've seen clouds that look like horses with saddles made of sunshine.

My favorite part is that these words are not about my pain or my need for whiskey. They're about being able to change my skin, or maybe about learning to barter.

Once I was walking down the street and the only word in my mind was phoenix and then my knees just gave up. I sat and waited for a vision, then a man stopped and asked me what I was doing. I told him and he said, "The only thing you'll get here is mugged."

So, he took me to breakfast at a diner and I talked about phoenix and fish. He told me about beating his wife and he wiped a tear from his eye with soot on his fingers then he had soot smears on his face.

I feel like my head's in the bathroom and my stomach's in bed my feet are hanging from the ceiling fan.

And maybe sometimes there is no resolution, but my hair keeps growing and I'll always have Dancing with Wolves. I can work on being stoic. I can learn to swim against the current and, most importantly, I can hold the magic of feeling fear like inferno, feeling thoughts like a heart attack.

All that's left is learning the magic of solving little problems by not fighting fires with fuel.