Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In retrospect, he couldn’t take in every cat that found its way onto his doorstep but the first had come at the perfect time. He had been sitting with a beer, staring at the broken T.V. when crying from under the bay window jolted him back to reality. After a short battle with the hydrangea and several stinging scratches on his legs, he had found the little ball of fleas; it was soaking wet and half dead. The whole situation had pulled at his heartstrings until they almost snapped so he scooped her up and held her close to his wrinkled funeral suit; it felt right to nurse something back to health again. He named her Charlotte because, after all, he missed his mother very much.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

i want to know
all of you

Monday, April 23, 2012

Berlin is burning and your muscles are burning under the weight of all the lives you’ve never tasted. All the dead-ends laying on street corners and the mass of hungry mouths waiting to be fed, waiting for your body to crumple and waiting to steal your shoes. They have made worm’s meat of me. The hoard marches on in military lines with feet that have forgotten the freedom to choose their own steps. A synchronized sickness, a plague of survivors, crossing into towns and sucking them dry, sucking the life out of the earth and you move with them, all together fleeing south. You see her face in the stars; she makes the face of heaven so fine that all the world falls in love with the night. You see her face in the ups and downs of your protruding ribs, sleeping under the overhang of a willow tree somewhere near Pausin.
“It’s getting worse. Stein, the dentist from the fourth floor was taken today.  I want to leave.”
She sits, smoking a cigarette on the stoop just staring out at the emptied streets. Houses stand hollow like dead chestnuts in the yard. You reach for her hand.
“I fell in love with you by that street sign, right over there. You were wearing green and I thought ‘what a wonderful color’. To this day, I suppose that is my favorite shade. This is home, I can’t leave.” She flicks the dying butt into the gutter and nods.
You don’t make love the first night after being reunited but rather hold your lips next to her pulse. Every beat reminds you of the pure miracle of her existence, every beat reminds you of the borrowed time. In the morning, you eat until your stomach is tight and speak about the future.
“My love, we can go anywhere you want. America. My cousin and his fiancée left before the war, we can stay with them. It will be perfect.” She doesn’t respond and you move to place a kiss to her neck only to find her skin ice cold and her body rigid.
“I want to go back to Poland.” Auschwitz. There are no trains to Poland. In reality, no one really wants to go back there. The ground is still damp with blood and ashes of human beings rain down like horrible snowflakes on towns.  Blond haired children make snow angels. You were both safer in Germany now, where no one cares enough to drive you from your home but rather they scour the streets looking for pieces of their own.
“You want to go back?”
“Yes.” And what is love but this? Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn. The surrender of all instincts and desires for another's, the ultimate submission to their wishes in the feeble hope that maybe, despite what you think, it might make them smile again. For her smile, you would go to Poland. For her smile, you would go anywhere.
You plant a garden at the new flat, giving her something to keep her mind busy as you take a job in textiles, mending the stitches on the Red’s uniforms. Rations improve, slightly, new vegetables and fruits start appearing in the market imported from Russia. Hard turnips and potatoes with pockmarks. You buy these on your way home and she makes meals for you both. In truth, you barely speak anymore, sitting at the table like soldiers after defeat. Ravensbrück had been terrible- ghastly; women worked to death. Ravensbrück had been hell but Birkenau had been damnation. She carries the lives of the dead with her. She breathes with the rattling cough of a million burned lungs; the weight of them resting on her thin shoulders and wearing down her bones.
 “Eva, why are we here?” You set the dirty pan into the sink and brace yourself against it, clutching the counter with your gaze fixed on the faucet. There’s spray paint on the walls and a suspicious wet spot on the living room ceiling; this place is a dump. You pay the rent in clothing while people use the German bills as kindling for their fireplaces. Everything that meant anything means nothing now and nothing, nothing becomes everything. Her eyes are fixed off in the distance, memories glazed over her face. Slowly, she returns to reality.
“Where?” And you snap at that sentence before throwing a dishtowel to the floor. You’ve done everything, you’ve saved her and for what? Damn it, she’s still there.
“Warsaw, why are we in Warsaw? This whole land, this is not the place for us. Can’t we start over? Please. Let us start over” you drop to your knees before her, begging. 
“America. Anywhere else in the world.”
“The world? There is no world; they’ve destroyed the whole thing. This, right here.” She gestures to the box frame of the room, “this is all there is left. God is dead.” The void of emotion in her voice tears you at your seams. You used to dream, starving and cold, of the wonderful after. You used to dream of happiness to fill your stomach and the glory of a free breath but every stolen minute is a rock to her ankle. Under your care, she dies slowly for the already dead.
“Who is Sofia?” And you aren’t sure you want to know but she moans the name in her sleep, grinding her teeth and clenching her fists.
“Sofia was a girl.”
“Who is Sofia?”
Sofia was fading. Disease ran rampant in the barracks; she lay in her bunk for two days, eyes darting back and forth in delirium. So young in her years with the hands of an old woman. She yowled out in the night while someone cursed from the other side of the barrack, ‘Get her out of here! She’ll kill us all!’
“Please, Eva. Give me some bread. My stomach pains me.”
“You aren’t supposed to eat. Drink some of my water.”
“Food, Eva, I need food. I don’t want any more water.”
“But you haven’t drunken any! You must drink; wash the Typhus from your system.”
“I cannot go on, please. Give me some of your bread.”
Eva stared at the ration in her hand while her stomach turned inside out at the sight of it. She must live; she must live to take care of the girl, surely. She brought the food to her own mouth and took one bite as Sofia rolled in agony on the straw and it rose up, the powerful Id. It screamed at her ‘survive’. Crunchy like glass in her mouth; Eva must live. She gazed into the girl’s black eyes, pupils consuming the brown irises and Eva ate the rest of the bread to the sounds of protest from Sofia. They took her, dehydrated and starving and later, she would dance in the breeze as smoke and Eva would glance up with a full stomach and begin to fade also.
She sings to the flowers and names them all. Katia and Margot and Susanna and Sofia. Under her, they bloom. It’s nice to see her smile again, it’s nice to see the full lips slide past perfect teeth so easily. It reminds you of the days before, when she was so full of life, an overflowing cup and beauty too rich to use. She nearly drowns the fragile plants and they suck it all up, moisture seeping into dry desert dirt. Piece by piece, the scars in the earth where buildings once stood are painted over. Like a creaking train, life starts to move again. You have hope.
You start to worry when she cuts up her camp uniform and drapes it over the garden. Of course, rationalization tells you that she’s merely trying to protect them from the sun but to look out and see the faded stripes bothers you. Bothers you so much that you avoid it all together.  If love be rough with you, be rough with love. You ignore the perfectly lined mounds of dirt on the porch and you start to ignore the sagging leaves and brown stems. But it catches your eye one day, a shriveled stalk lies curled in the dirt, barely breathing. Dead. Gone, it’s dead. There’s no saving it at this point, and she just let it go. Your hands go numb and you drop your warm mug. It’s a fucking graveyard.
“Eva, what’s wrong with the garden?”
“Nothing.”  She smiles again but this time, it doesn’t make you happy.
After that, you watch her closely. She still sings and touches the flowers gently but she doesn’t water them anymore. Why won’t she water them? Forced ignorance, locking the little voice in your head behind barbed wire. A faint cold fear thrills through my veins, almost freezes up the heat of life. It hits you at work the next day. If she won’t, you’ll water the garden for her. You’ll tend to her; you’ll save her once again because what is love but this? Pushing lungs, making them take the breath they reject. Shoving the blood through her veins, insisting life upon her. And it has to be right now, you run home on your lunch break and fumble with your keys before throwing the heavy door open. She’s out there, holding the watering can protectively in her lap, out of reach to the emaciated flowers and whispering
“I’m so sorry.”
You nearly collapse on the floor.
planes and trains
you sent your thoughts to different states
and lived in the space between her ribs 
'i'm sorry i'm sorry i'm sorry'
in every beat.

if there was an ember for every night you stayed up
watched her breathe
the world might burn for
a thousand years.


Friday, April 20, 2012

"Have you come to take me?" his head from between his knees, sitting on the bed not sure how he's supposed to react.
"Your haircut looks like shit." and her hand runs up the back of his skull, through the choppy layers and around to cup his face. She's like ice.
"Tell me why I shouldn't end it, June." And he subconsciously leans into her touch, praying for the pressure of a real hand. And then suddenly she's not behind him anymore, she's everywhere. She's magnified herself, spread to the corners of the room. Everywhere. All over him.
"You can't", her soothing voice floats somewhere over near the floor vent and he's seven years old again and his mother is dead. It might have been the last time he cried, throwing himself into the dresser and screaming and screaming until he couldn't do much else but sleep and then, sleeping and sleeping and never really waking up. His foundation shifts, sways with the wind for a second. He's coming undone.
"I-I don't know what else to do June." and he's bare chested and boarder-line drunk and he's crying now. "Everything that was mine became ours and now I don't have anything left. It's all gone, you're gone. Tell me, tell me how I'm supposed to live." She says nothing and spends the rest of the night with his head in her lap, running her hands through his hair and whispering

Sunday, April 15, 2012

i will go down with this ship

The city skyline had ceased to breathe, the lights in a perpetual sleep as abandoned high rises closed their eyes for the first time in hundreds of years. The city had retired and all the car horns that lulled you once now faded off onto the George Washington Bridge. Cars congested plaque in the arteries of New York, running scared like little mice. The news reports said to leave the city, find high ground and she had laughed at that and told you that what they really meant was "say your goodbyes". And you didn't know much of anything at all except that the moon would be here in three days and there wasn't a single thing anyone on this great blue planet could do about it.

Zealots claimed it was the hand of God and Atheists claimed that we had it coming all along. You didn't claim anything though. A single bench in central park, she turned to you and said
"The birds aren't singing, have you noticed?"
"I think they all left."
"Well, they won't escape it either. Two days. No one will. I'm glad sort of, this whole place is complete shit and we all deserve to die." And you didn't know about that, because you had seen good people and good babies and clean faces that rushed past you, and you couldn't quite fathom that all of them could deserve this. But then again, you didn't know much at all. It seems funny now, as the water rises up the apartment stairs, that you could be so in love with someone so miserable. That her cynicism could make her wonderful, she hated the world and you were addicted to it because you were never much at all before you were with her.

And you've never known much but you know that you are going to die today. You ate in silence and closed the burning ball of fire behind the shades. You wondered, briefly, of how long you both had but quickly brushed the thought from your mind. It didn't really matter anymore. She took you to bed, kissed you slowly and then faster, as if you'd disappear if she closed her eyes for a split second, that you would burn away if her fingertips left your skin. When you were both done, you laid your head on her chest and counted her breath as seconds. She leaned up, suddenly,
"I don't know anything about you, I just realized that. Seven months and I don't know anything about you." And you laugh because it had always been about her, her hopes and dreams, her childhood memories, and you had thought that really- she didn't even need you. You could have been a cardboard cut out and it wouldn't have mattered as long as you smiled and let your hair fall in your face and nodded. Emanate death had a way of bringing out the best qualities in her.
"I don't like pork. I never have" And you could feel her mouth curve upwards.
"Why not?"
"My mom used to make it with onions, I hate onions too." And it might have been the first time in seven months that she actually looked at you. Past your cheekbones and dimples and deeper than your eyes.
"Is this real? Is this all really happening?" And she sounded scared, there was a weakness in her voice that made your heart feel as though it was drowning with apartment 3B.
"I suppose so, the world had to end sometime."
"No, what do you really think? Is this all a dream that I'm having, is this everything? How can it possibly all just end?" And she really did want to know what you thought. She really did care.
"I think... if this is a dream, then the whole world is inside of it. Does it really matter if it is?"
"Maybe we could try waking up... by falling asleep" And you were pretty sure it wouldn't work but her heart was beating slow and she was calm and you thought that maybe, this would be a good last moment. That all the things that you have done in your life had cultivated to this exact second and as far as seconds go, this was about as good as you could get. You supposed that if you were to die, to do so right here would be perfectly okay.
"Okay, go to sleep." How many minutes left now? You felt the warmth but didn't dare open your eyes to the window. You didn't want to see the fire.
"What's your favorite book?"
"Goodnight Moon, I think." And the resolve broke, you let your eyes fall open to stare at her. Looking up, her jawline, the tiny sliver of ear that you could see. The smell of her shampoo. Her green eyes and she was crying, just a bit.
"How does that go again?"
"Goodnight room, Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon." How many seconds? "Goodnight light and the red balloon" She's squeezing tighter now. You can hear the oxygen popping, burning up. "Goodnight bears, Goodnight Chairs, Goodnight stars, Goodnight air, Goodnight nois-

Saturday, April 14, 2012

love is not enough

"Hell is other people." -Jean-Paul Sartre


You suppose that she loved you once, for a brief period around Spring. You suppose you loved her back as well, but love never seems to be enough.
You used to watch her talk, across a restaurant table or curled into your shoulder or next to you in bed. It was endlessly fascinating, the way syllables could wrap around her lips and she turned language into music. Her breathe against your skin lit fires that Hell could never touch. Persephone with her long blonde hair, Persephone with her soft padded footsteps. You suppose that it must have been love because you remember everything. Every freckle, every eyelash. Every ridiculous thing that should mean nothing but somehow means everything. Persephone ripping up bits of grass while you spoke. Persephone's eyes when she cries. If adoration had been miles you would have spanned the world. If love had been enough, she would have stayed.

You told her to leave. You smashed all the dishes and unscrewed the bed frame and told her to leave for good. You nearly pushed her out of the door, hands gripped white to the frame and love is not a selfless thing, you suppose. It is callous, it is greedy. Love is not standing stoic on the shore while her boat grows smaller, it is swallowing the entire ocean for one more kiss. So you told her to leave and held her tight to your chest. She made the everything turn in on itself, grabbed life by the tail and skinned it. She was art in blood stains. She was everything beautiful in all of your broken metaphors.

Your heart was made of a thousand tiny hands and it reached, continuously. You suppose it sucked the life right out of her. There are no flowers in hell, love is not enough. A creeping thing, her depression, a slow burning oil lamp that dwindled from white to yellow and no one really noticed, except for you, because it was your job to notice such things. Because you loved her. Persephone with paint on her fingertips. Persephone tying her shoelace. The decline to madness is paved with smooth stones, it was easy for her to just fade away. There are no seeds allowed in winter, no angels allowed in Hell. She fell asleep on the hardwood one night and told you that she couldn't leave if she tried.
"Being with me is killing you."
"Then I guess I'll die."

She made a mess of her wrists and you might have actually screamed, running, carrying her light little body to the car. It was a Sunday morning that she woke up with unfocused eyes and you told her the hospital bed was made of clover and she smiled and asked you to tell her again. So you did because you loved her and she loved you back. Persephone with bare feet, Persephone's back in the sunlight. Flames always die and love is not enough to will them back because believe me, you tried. 

Love is not enough, because if it was, she'd still be here. Love is not enough, because if it was, you would have made her leave a long time ago.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

i have killed myself in everything that i have done.

and you asked what i was thinking
when we were sitting in my car and my eyes were fixed in the distance and i couldn't
find the right words to say at the time because i was really thinking about
your eyelashes and the way you say my name and how your skin was still
and i had forgotten what that looked like. i was a tiny bit jealous and a tiny bit
sad and more than anything
i was so fucking happy
that life hadn't 
scarred you.

loud machines

he tore down the loud machines and rebuilt his little girl
with lights
and levers
and she was
better now because
don't get sick

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

hemingway inspired six word story that could make you cry

"we tried to save her but"

an open book

your hands were paper thin 
your legs were pale pages
and i swear i wrote my whole goddamn life 
on your skin that night 

i was an open book.

Monday, April 9, 2012

cotton mouth snakes behind the 
back porch of my childhood.
"are you poisonous?" i whisper to her neck but
she laughs and says no.
i don't quite
believe her.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

bukowski, march 1983

the landlord told me that the hot water was on the fritz
stupid pink note taped to my door and i was mad,
oh was i mad, 450 a 
month and i couldn't even take a damn shower. i was
smoking, sitting and smoking and planning on the fastest way to the liquor store
without running into anyone when the upstairs neighbors starting 
fighting and they went on and on and 
made the walls shake and i figured if love was
i was better off alone. grace left a blue note taped to my door 
told me to feed myself and to lay off the 
hard stuff and to take a shower.
i couldn't even take a damn
shower so i left and walked to the corner and bought a seven dollar bouquet
for the upstairs neighbors and a bottle of wine
so my poems would come easy and took a cold