The passer-bys stopped, stood stock still all staring at the same phone booth.
It had stood on the same corner, undisturbed as always, the stoic watchdog at the end of our common neighborhood street. Children made castles of it; the homeless found their welcome mat.
Today, though, today the booth hummed and thrummed and buzzed and raised itself three inches from the ground. The keenest of eyes were able to discern from the disquiet, smallish hands an oval face and thousands of beating wings, like a contained whirlwind dust storm.
One person knew the full-moon face inside the panic.
He watched the maze and chaos while his hand clutched to a postcard she had sent him the day before.
The greatest of all cities emblazoned on the front, complete with riverfront and lights with a single message on the back,
“ It could have been ours.”
As she was overwhelmed by the electric whir of birds bodies, the dream of Sunday morning fire-escape cigarettes began to fade from his mind.
With every sparrow and starling’s revolution, his memories fade of perfect city mornings a tumble with hair and lips and heat.
His eyes went cold as her palm pressed against unyielding glass.
He turned away as the door burst open.
One thousand birds mixed with pieces of torn paper, with city lights and a riverfront, filling the Los Angeles air.
She remembered breathing deep that acrid city air,
Watching the blur of feathers and paper ignite in the setting sun.
22 MARCH 2009
We watched her heart break that night,
Glass in a windowpane that seemed to
Hover for a fraction of a second
In that second
I can remember thinking
The laws of physics must have been suspended by her doing
But my own heart stilled for another moment
When I saw the shards dislodge
And cascade to the concrete
In the most determined of waterfalls
The noise though
Where it should have been the painful disruption
Of a city at night
The predictable and sharp shattering
And vicious tinkling
As the large
Pieces struck the ground and in turn became medium
Pieces and in turn became small
Pieces and in turn became smallest
Pieces and in turn became
Sharp biting dust
There was no sound
her eyes wavering mirrors peered out from
shadows that carved her cheekbones
her eyes turned
exposed as the glitter of broken glass
exposed as she shifted her feet
she dared us to speak, dared us to say anything
how she couldn’t do anything magical anymore
nothing more than
make French toast on a Sunday morning
and catch the lazy churn of summer’s dust in her palm
or sigh deeply and perfectly at the most passionate of moments.
The spell was broken, she would not touch the glass this time.
She gave us one last glance and
Stepped delicately outside the now gently singing mess at her feet.
The Sudden and Sorrowful Incidences of A, B, & We.
A met B under snow filled clouds
We were just opening early morning eyes
A was fearful
B was filled with anticipation
We watched them from halfway down the block
A spoke of words and beats and sentences filled with grace
B spoke of dreams that filled horizons
We ate up every word
A threw a snowball on an icy night
B threw one right back
We joined in the game
A leaned back against an old Formica counter
B leaned in closer
We watched them kiss
A sat patiently
B told a joke
A cracked a smile wider than in months
B smiled right back
A laughed a sparkling and brilliant laugh
We laughed long and hard
A began speaking and sharing
B began making plans to leave
A was saddened and began closing windows thrown open
B was confused
We listened to their sorrows
A began dreaming of sun and hazy city lights
B began packed belongings
A watched boxes fill
B was ready
We knew it would never change
A sat up late one night
B slept soundly on
A clasped fingers together and silently said goodbye
B smiled slightly and reached for her
We noticed the air had changed
A welcomed spring with dancing
B’s voice echoed from thousands of miles away.
We danced with A
A began cutting strings that bound
B was on the coast
We were not ready to say goodbye
A floated and fell and landed roughly then floated again
B met the arrival
We read the last letter goodbye
A melted and simmered and sputtered and boiled and burned
B drew long lean straight lines on single sheets of paper.
We buried our response in a mess on a desk
A sighed deeply and walked alone more often
B turned away at night
We were suddenly aware of the fading colors of fall
A’s legs refused to stay still, skin began to crawl
B spoke less often
We dialed a number and hung up before it rang
A sullenly stared out the window
B tapped out a rhythm on the steering wheel
We opened a letter from someone unknown
A fidgeted and fumbled and coughed three times
B sat in the darkness
We read words that echoed of years ago
A’s legs stopped working
B was upstairs somewhere
We heard a voice one morning as the sun rose
A saw images pass through vision in watery colors and coated in the scent of chocolate
We waited for the phone to ring again
A laughed at the world in a solemn, deliberate way
We heard the sorrow in the words and tone of voice
A wrote down fragments of memories, like treasure
We listened to dreams remembered
A wrote one single letter, re-read it, tore it into confetti that fell from fingers
We watched the ink bleed and the ocean, swallow.
IDES MARCH 2009
I never remember anything.
My memory is not that of a goldfish, so I retract that first statement.
I only remember in oddities, in images, in emotion, in feeling, in colors, and in light, but never in concrete specifics. Not in anything measurable.
I remember how it felt when he looked at me that way but I could not remember my first words to him.
I remember watching mid-winter sun struggle through the clouds and the cast of grey it coated everyone in, but I could not tell you how many times I saw him before we had sex.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said I love you, or I hate you or the numbers of tears that soaked through skin and clothing.
I can tell you about retreat and ache and fear and confrontation and my shock that
Suddenly, there is this girl speaking. Suddenly this girl is speaking, and she is rage. She is all my rage bottled into a sex year old, all petulance and pride, she in earnest does not mean for you to hurt when she, in all her anger, grabs on to the inner, tender part of your wrist and pinches clean though. Nor does she realize that you will bleed.
It began twelve years ago. STOP. I was walking and the whole earth shattered. STOP. Need safety. STOP. Need to forget his eyes. STOP. Need to forget spring afternoons under trees. STOP. His biting questions. STOP. My own selfishness. STOP. The clenched tight-gritted teeth song thrumming under my breastplate. STOP. It is an avalanche. STOP. A head over heels jack and jill tumble to the bottom. STOP. Acceleration and spinning and falling and gathering momentum blur sucking everything around into the center vortex suddenly it implodes. STOP. Sucking sucking swelling everything I thought I once was has been proven wrong that I am not for a second I am not anything I am not more than the dust that sifts though the evening air as I stare out the window and wonder where the next year will bring me no farther or further than that dust has already traveled there is silence as the response nothing because how can there be anything at the beckoning of nothing it is all ill at ease and unaware my footsteps are soft in shadow as the ground sifts beneath them the cracks and edges are root-uplifted broken bottle sidewalks leading me to my home if I don’t think about it I could be back in Michigan it could be nine or eleven at night or five in the morning and the houses around me preparing for sleep or the morning to come and they don’t see me my quiet step falling on shifting sidewalks no one sees me because I am nothing wanting to burn it all and tear it apart and never see or say anything again. STOP.
7 months ago