Listen

Listen.

I know you like to compare me to the Egyptian Goddess Isis
but I don’t really think that’s fair.

To her, not me.

For one thing:
Sometimes when I stub my toe against the china cabinet
as I’m going to refill my glass of wine,
I loudly exclaim
Fuck Shit Ass Damn
and call my wine bottle a son of a bitch.

I don’t think Isis would do that.

Also:
When my street dog tears up a book I just bought,
Especially The Children of Green Knowe,
I tell him I fucking hate him
and I wish I’d never brought him home.
Of course, I love him
but he drives me batshit insane most of the time.

I doubt ol’ Isis would hate anything

And check this:
Just the other day, one of my employees
sensing my utter desperation,
rolled a fat ass joint for me and left it in the door of her car, the lighter on the seat.
“Go take you a couple hits, you’ll feel better.”
So I did.
And I don’t even smoke, really.
But sometimes life is a heartless little bitch
and you can’t escape it any other way
than to go sit in the parking lot, in a tinted car,
on the corner of Highway 80 and nowhere,
and cry your goddamn eyes out while you inhale a blunt so strong that you cough and sputter
because you haven’t hit that shit since college,
and college was 80 years ago on another planet.

Do you think Isis would do some shit like that?

My kid knows every cuss word and in different languages
AND I ALLOW HIM TO USE THEM SOMETIMES.

Isis would die.

I curse under my breath at old people, babies, and animals
even though I love all three.
I take the lord’s name in vain on a daily basis, sometimes for the entire goddamn day.
I am wildly unhinged and prone to sadness and would rather watch the flowers wilt
under the weight of your absence,
than to see them thrive in a garden where you are not their gardener.

Isis would never stand for it.

You once told me you could read between the lines
but I’m not giving you enough space to do that.
I’m dirty, broken, worn out, tired.
I’m offensive, lewd, crass.
I’m a mediocre mom with no goddamn blueprint.
I’m a half-assed daughter who doesn’t do enough.
I’m just ok at being the boss.
I’m nobody’s someone.

But I have this heart and for some reason it’s huge and cavernous
and there’s all kinds of back alleys in it where I keep people and animals.
One of those alleys is named after you.
It’s littered with all the debris you left behind and I don’t bother cleaning it up.
I just wallow in it until your scent is all over me.

And I’m not ever coming out of that alley.

So Listen.

If I may speak on behalf of Isis:
Please don’t compare her to a derelict like me.

every single day

every single day

By John Straley

Suppose I said the word “springtime”
and I wrote the words “king salmon”
on a piece of paper
and mailed it to you.
When you opened it
would you remember that afternoon we spent
together in the yellow boat
when the early whales were feeding
and we caught our first fish of the year?

Or would you remember that time off Cape Flattery
when you were a little girl:
your father smoking, telling stories as he ran the boat,
then the tug and zing of that very first fish
spooling off into the gray-green world;
you laughing and brushing back your hair
before setting the hook?

I know I am hard to understand sometimes
particularly when you are standing
at the post office with only a piece of paper
saying “king salmon” on it
but just think of it as a promissary note
and that electric tug, that thrill
pulling your mind into deep water
is how I feel about you every,

single day.

Wreck Me

Good Girl

By Kim Addonizio

Look at you, sitting there being good.
After two years you’re still dying for a cigarette.
And not drinking on weekdays, who thought that one up?
Don’t you want to run to the corner right now
for a fifth of vodka and have it with cranberry juice
and a nice lemon slice, wouldn’t the backyard
that you’re so sick of staring out into
look better then, the tidy yard your landlord tends
day and night — the fence with its fresh coat of paint,
the ash-free barbeque, the patio swept clean of small twigs —
don’t you want to mess it all up, to roll around
like a dog in his flowerbeds? Aren’t you a dog anyway,
always groveling for love and begging to be petted?
You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides
of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones,
you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds.
Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes
and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first
beautiful man you find? The words Ruin me, haven’t they
been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn’t it time
you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets
to totter around in five-inch heels and slutty mascara?
Sure it’s time. You’ve rolled over long enough.
Forty, forty-one. At the end of all this
there’s one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt.
So get going. Listen: they’re howling for you now:
up and down the block your neighbors’ dogs
burst into frenzied barking and won’t shut up.

A Thousand Starved Sunsets

You gave me your words:  beautiful, erotic, poetic, hilarious, thoughtful, direct, insightful.  Everything all at once.

You gave me your soul through your music and poetry; the movies you recommended; the passages and quotes you shared with me.

Now you’ve taken them all away and left me here alone without any way to get in touch with you or any reason as to why you’ve gone and every time I think there won’t be anymore tears because surely there’s not enough salt water left in the ocean  for one more droplet to squeeze out of my blood shot eyes….

It starts to flood.

Without answers all I can do is blame myself and plead to the universe and to God and to you (in the hopes you’ll hear me) for a chance to atone for whatever wrong I’ve done.  Or at the very least:  A proper goodbye from you.  If this is goodbye(please don’t let this be goodbye), let me have that goodbye in your words and not this sudden expulsion from your life.  Your words are so beautiful and if I’m never going to hear them again, give me one final paragraph.

Love in the Digital Age:  One Passage Among Many

S “I was actually under a blanket when I read your email.  It would have been nice to share it with you while I watched a movie.”

G:  “I’d like to dive under that blanket as if it were the Pacific.  Rather than a movie, you’d see stars between patches of fog.  Feel my whiskers on your smooth thighs.  Grab the hair on my head, push me into your sex.  Sing like a Siren to this wayward sailor.  I’ll crash into your shore.”

S:  “You can dive into me anytime.  I will hold you there between me while you feast like a thousand starved sunsets are waiting to rise.  And I won’t let you go until your whiskers have scratched every surface of my thighs” 

S:  “I guess I’m starving

G:  “You’re apparently as famished as I.  May we devour each other simultaneously, lips wet, seed shooting like stars.  Insatiable hunger.”

S:  “I’ve never been this way with anyone before.  What the fuck are a thousand starved sunsets?  I don’t even know what that means.”

G: Having sat in the strand of the Pacific yesterday afternoon, I would say a starved sunset would likely happen on summer solstice, the sun never quite going down, like a mongrel hanging around until you finally toss it a crust of your bread even though you’re still hungry, a beach punk yourself.  Times one thousand.”

G:  Funny enough, I was imaging the opposite, a sunrise, the emerging sun a long sought after blinding release after a night of passion.”.

S“That was beautiful.”
 
 
 

G: “How many hearts did you break, the adorably beautiful, young English major? What a site for sore eyes.

Staying at the beach again tonight, as our power is still out in Berkeley, and the fires and smoke are totally out of control just to the north. The evacuation zone is humongous, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. This is a one-two punch of climate change and corporate greed. I worked for a few hours, but I’m getting behind.

I could use a home-cooked meal. One day I’ll sit at your table.

You know I’m a sucker for blondes, right? And Irish bars. And that belly peeking out needs to be peppered with baby kisses. You would have broken my heart. You look like someone famous, but I can’t put my finger on it. But I need to see the MILF Steph, tho. Who I hope to Isis will treat my heart like a fledgling bird.

S: “I want to lie on a bed with you somewhere and fondle your cock while you read to me.  That is a thing I would like. I want it to be so natural and inconsequential; like buttering toast for you in the morning.  I want it to be that easy and true.
I’d butter all your toast for all the rest of the days of your life.

Come and Find Me

I woke up this morning optimistic that I would hear from you today.  I felt calm.  I felt at peace.  I played the only song I’ve been able to play since Monday when I realized you were gone.  I can’t listen to anything else.  I feel like it’s this message I’m sending out into the universe and hoping like hell it will find you and then you, in turn, will come and find me again.  

But now, as the morning has worn on, I’m starting to suffocate again and the only way I can breathe is to write these words to you.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’ve never cared one way or the other about that but now, suddenly, it means something because it’s a holiday and I probably won’t hear from you or get to ask you what you ate or tell you about mine and that all of a sudden seems so goddamn tragic and awful and I don’t even want to look at a turkey and think about all the ways I had been so thankful these past couple of months.  I was practically walking with my feet above the ground, happy and vibrant for the first time in a long time.

I was still happy when I got the news about you Saturday.  I was actually relieved it was just that.  That was a thing we could handle.  Something being wrong or happening to you was not.  I waited to hear from you Sunday.  When I didn’t, I thought you might have been overwhelmed and exhausted and it was probably no big deal.  But then Monday morning rolled around and still no word from you.  I knew you had to take care of some things and I didn’t want to appear needy so I waited until that afternoon before I emailed you.  I didn’t know it but by then it was too late.  You were already gone.

And I can’t get you back.  You’ve just vanished back into the nether and I’ve no way to find you.  And it feels like a death even though I don’t know what that feels like.  But maybe it’s actually worse than death because you’re still out there but I can’t find you and that’s more torturous than if you were dead and I knew your light had left the earth.  Your light is sill shining but I can’t see it.  The agony.  The hopelessness of it all is killing me and I just want to hear you again even if the only thing you have to tell me is to kiss off into the air and you’re done.  At least that’s something.  I’d take anything.

One little morsel of anything.

But I’m not giving up.  I told you that already and I meant it.

Someday you will read these words and I will still be sitting on this shore waiting for you to wash up again.  

I hope it will be soon.

POST SCRIPT:

There were/are moments of today I couldn’t/can’t breathe.  It felt like the air was thick and heavy and dripping and I couldn’t suck any of it in through my parted lips.  As if it had turned to syrup and if I were even able suck any into my lungs at all, it would only coat them in a thick goo but do little to give me life.

I have moments of clarity where I know in my bones that this will pass and I will, once again, read your words.  The ache and emptiness I feel without them is unlike anything I’ve ever known and I wish I could describe to you the utter despair I feel at the thought of no more you.

It’s been 6 days now.

Six days.

Six days doesn’t seem like much but it’s too many at once.

I keep reading the last email I sent to you.  The one you actually got before you closed your account.  The one I’d rather replace with just one of the 36 I’ve tried to send to you since.  But they keep showing back up on my step.  I don’t even think they make it halfway to your place before they turn around and come back.  They already know you don’t want them or maybe you are only just not ready for them.  My heart believes the latter but my head is trying to kill me with the former.  I keep sending them out though, shooing them out the door on their way to you.  But always they come back and I don’t want them here.  I want them with you.  To clean and mend and enfold and love.

My words to you are all I have.

And the last words you read from me when you got home and felt the sting of betrayal from your roommate and perhaps shame at what happened (although you shouldn’t) were not words of love but of playful admonishment.  If I had known then how me knowing your secret would make you feel, I wish for a thousand catacombs to hide it in so that I may never discover it.

I’ll never forget the grin on my face that Saturday night as I pressed send.  I was very pleased with myself and stupidly thought you would find it amusing also.  Oh, to be so dumb and near-sighted.  I wasn’t taking into account the trauma of the experience you had just endured and was focused solely on the banter between us that has brought me so much life these past months.  I thought I was being witty and confident and self-assured and you would find the humor in my silly reprimands.

I don’t know how you feel and I want desperately to know how you feel so I can make it better for you.  All I can do is grasp at straws and my mind is running 1700 miles per minute thinking of every possible scenario, every minute detail I may have missed, every single word I may have said that caused you pain or anger.  And I want to take them all back and I wish R had never emailed me with what happened because if I had never known, you would not feel whatever it is you’re feeling now.  A feeling I’m helpless to navigate with you with because you have shut me out so completely that I have no way back in and I might literally be dying over here.  I’m not sure.  My heart feels like it’s trying to push its way out of my chest; the bruising on its surface so deep and complete that the blood coursing through it and around it is leaving lacerations in its wake.

Frantic Emails and Hugs from Strangers

{Blank}
Forwarding blank emails a million times just to see if they go through

Followed by:
Oh, J, my heart is all aching for you and I can’t stand the thought that you might have blocked me or closed your email account.  Everything keeps getting returned.  I don’t understand why.  I’m so sorry if my email came across as insensitive.  I only wanted to make you laugh.  I know it was a horrible situation but I thought I was making light of it.  Upon rereading it, I can clearly see that it was not the right response to send to you in your emotional state.  I hate myself for thinking it was.  I’m so sorry.

And:
I wish I could talk to you.  I’m losing my mind

Also:
Please get this

Then:
I am devastated and feel like the air around me is suffocating me.



HOW IT FEELS NOT TALKING TO YOU:

It feels like suffocating
It feels like drowning
It feels like heavy thick molasses air
It feels like a sturdy rope suddenly severed
It feels like looking into the bottom of a well
It feels like staring into a starless and moonless night sky
Void all the way around
You reach out to the air around you but it’s not air it’s rubber and it’s closing in on you
And it’s squishing you there between it until your heart beats so hard against it
That all of the walls start to vibrate to its rhythm
And then you can’t breathe
And then your heart actually really explodes
And it rains down all around you until your cheeks are hot with tears
And you’re in your car
You say his name over and over again
Then you switch to God’s name
Asking, pleading
DEMANDING
Downright ORDERING

Contact

Just make contact
You plead to him and to God
And the ant crawling along your steering wheel
The leaf on your windshield
The darkness of your car
The greenish glow of your radio dial.
You plead.
Silently
When you pull up to the drive -thru window
Because the kid’s gotta eat
But the kitchen feels like death
Because there’s the table
You sat at when you wrote your things to him
And there’s the speaker on the counter where you played the songs he sent
While you cooked
And the bottle of Jameson you bought just last weekend
Because he likes Jameson and you like him
And that’s what you do when you like someone and oh, god!
You do like him!

Swollen, your eyes
The tears collecting in the bags beneath them
Made more cavernous by the silence
Your cheeks red
Your voice tiny and timid
As you order the kids vanilla frosty and cheeseburger
Hastily wiping your eyes as you pull around to pay
Allergies is what you’ll tell her
She’s going to ask
Only she doesn’t
She says ‘it’s going to be ok’
And closes the window to swipe your card
You don’t believe her but her kindness unleashes
The downpour
And your cup doesn’t just runneth over
It floods
And she’s running out to meet you in the parking lot
Of the drive thru at Wendy’s
On a Tuesday night in the rain
And she opens your car door
You rise to meet her
And throw yourself into her short arms and hold onto her
Hard and long
Your face buried in her shoulder, your stomach heaving in and out
Her hands running circles on your back
“It’s going to be ok it’s going to be ok”
The tears dry and you get back in your car
“I love you” she says
“I love you too” you tell her
Poof
Gone then, back into the hamburger joint
The person at the window hands you the burger and ice cream
And you cruise out into the night
Wondering if that lady knew

You were dying of a broken heart

Everything The Same

 I’m going to post here the email I wrote to you that keeps getting returned to me.  I hope you will read it someday.
I know you have a lot going on.  But I could take your mind off it if you’d let me.  You don’t have to ignore me.  I don’t want you to.  The “ghosting” email was insensitive.  I realize that now.  I was hoping it would make you laugh.  I was trying to make light of the situation so you would not think I gave one single fuck about it.  Because I don’t.  I don’t care about anything that happened (other than how it affects you) so if you’re feeling shame or guilt or whatever…don’t. I have a thing for degenerates (I don’t think you are one, by the way.  I’m only playing with you).  But degenerates are my absolute fucking jam.

I have “it” for you.  In the worst way.  I don’t know how it’s possible to care about someone you’ve never met in the flesh but here I am.   Caring about you.   If I’d been there when you came home, I would have hugged you so hard, made you a hot plate after your shower (or drew you a hot bath and got in with you to rub your shoulders) and put you to bed so you could rest.  Maybe I’d make fun of you a little too because what’s life if we can’t laugh at ourselves?

Nothing’s changed so don’t go acting like it has.
I did remove a few lines in the event anyone other than you might actually read this.  Some things are private and should stay between us (I’ll let you use your imagination as to what they were).

I didn’t say this in the email but had I been there that night, I would have met you there and held your hand.  I’d never let you go through that alone.  Never.

EVERYTHING THE SAME

Smoke Signals

I composed an email to you just this afternoon.  I’ve been waiting to hear from you all day.  I didn’t want to overwhelm you with my need to “hear” your voice because I thought you might already be overwhelmed by other things.  So I waited until I couldn’t anymore.  I had been typing it for two days; going back and changing things around, taking words out, putting words back in.  I wanted it to be perfect because I wanted you to know everything is going to be exactly as it has been.  Everything the same. Everything the same.  That’s what I put in the subject line.  I’ve been reading Lisey’s Story by Stephen King and that’s what Lisey and Scott say to each other to indicate all is right with their world.  I wanted you to know all is right with ours.

I sent it.  I breathed a sigh of relief knowing you would soon be reading it and would hopefully feel reassured for a minute and know I’m here.  I may be over here and not there with you but I’m still here.  Only a minute went by before an error message appeared, telling me your mailbox was not found.  My heart plunged to the very bottom of my being and I felt suddenly stranded.

Alone.

I knew what it meant.

Yet I still kept trying to send the damn thing to you.  Over and over.  I forwarded it, replied to it, pulled up an older email and wrote something on it and sent it all to you.  The same message popped up every single time.  And suddenly it was like all the color was sucked backwards out of my eyes until only the gray was left.

The Gray.

It was gray before I met you.  I had been living in The Gray for so many years I thought there would ever only be that forever until the end.  Then you showed up and you threw your beautiful color all over the walls of my soul until it practically glowed in the dark.  It did glow in the dark.  It glowed so brightly in the dark that I didn’t need a night light anymore.  Your color was all over me; it was inside me; it was becoming me.

And now you’re gone and the air is thick with suffocation and remorse and things that hurl themselves at my windows trying to get in but they can’t because the windows won’t open without you.  They’re all stuck and I can’t make them unstuck and I don’t even want to because what’s the point… it was always   ever   only   you.

That’s the truth of it, too, isn’t it?

It was always you

It was always me

We rode in on the waves of our past.  Breathless and tired.  We washed upon the shore at the same time, our limbs tangled together, our eyes closed tight from the salt of our wounds.  The tide covered us for a moment before the sea hungrily swept her back into the ocean.  There was silence then and when we opened our eyes there was a tiny shimmer of light in the darkness that surrounded us.  We found each other there in that light.

I wanted to stay in that light with you until darkness found us both again, this time eternal.

But you’ve gone.

You walked back into the ocean.

I wasn’t looking and you let your shame overwhelm you.  I should have found you in that shame and given you sustenance.  I should have fed you my very life.

I’m sorry.

But I’m not leaving.  I’m never leaving this shore.  I’m staying right here with my knees pulled up to my chest, the wind of change and time blowing through my hair until the sea spits you right back out to me.  Let the waves beat your battered heart and the fish nibble at your pride; gasp the salt water until it burns your lungs and when you’ve beaten yourself until you can’t anymore, ride the crest of the wave until you get back to our shore.

Back to me

Oh, how I’ll run then to meet you and drag you to safety on our sand.

Shhh

We don’t have to say anything at all.

You sent this song to me while you were sick and I’m sending it back to you.

I’ll be waiting

Drink Up, Baby

“Between the Bars” by Elliott Smith just came on.  You said it reminded you of the night we first met.  I can’t listen to it without thinking of you and those first tentative moments of conversation when I was somewhere between sober and blackout and made some dumb comment about wanting to visit both Seattle and Washington state.  Of course, I was immediately called out on this (but not by you) and asked if I knew Seattle was in Washington.  The only natural thing I could see to do was admit that I was drunk and let the chips fall where they may.

You still talked to me.

I couldn’t believe it.  Who would want to talk to such an obvious moron?  Of course, you know by now that I do, in fact, know Seattle is part of Washington.  But you didn’t know that then and you still dove in.

I’m so glad you dove in.

You swam immediately out to the middle, beckoning me to join you while I stood ankle deep on the steps.  You waited for me to let go and meet you out there.  I hovered, one foot above the step, the other pushing off gently until I swam to you in a rush.  Over a month now, we’ve been bobbing up and down, clinging to each other so we don’t drown.

You’d never let me drown and I know that.
I won’t let you either.

Now you’re sick and it’s been three days since I’ve “heard” your voice.  It’s been three days too long.  Too many hours, too many seconds.  I wish you could use my body to fight, too.   I’d give it to you in a millisecond and for eternity.   I would inhale the purest air to fill every corner of my lungs just to exhale it into you until all the sickness is expelled.

I’ve called hospitals, said your name, held my breath. Waiting.  Always no.  No one here by that name.  I want to hear yes.  Yes means ok.  No means I don’t know if you’re ok.  And I need you to be ok.

Now, I’m here pacing back and forth, reading Robinson Jeffers just to feel close to you and then Bukowski to lighten the mood.  I’ve read all of Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes a thousand times and I want to be your Sylvia Plath (except I won’t kill myself because I don’t want to miss one second of you).  And I’ve been praying to a God I don’t even know if I believe in because what kind of God brings me you after I’ve waited a lifetime for only you just to then take you away from me….

And maybe I sound frantic and obsessed and maybe this will scare you away if you read it.

But I know it won’t…..

I miss you.
Get well soon.