Thursday, November 14, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Soft skin and sweet whiskey breath, she asks me about Reno. I'm fucking sick of telling that story, so I tell her I been thinking about her which ain't true, but sounded alright. The shadows dripped down the walls that night. Small paper deception in the corridor, ace tucked inside the folds of my mind.

We picked up speed.

You were alone and I was alone. She and I were lovers but we never learned our parts.

I collected bus transfers and butts to rebuild. You were a queen, baby. That princess shit. Had it all going on. Like you wanted to apologize for cussin' - she was pure hellfire when she wanted to be. She could do it all. You were it, baby. You were her.

She said, let's do it slow, hand on my dick so light it was like spider feet. Don't worry, baby. We'll get there. Got to take it slow. She showed me the scars on her stomach and tried to apologize, but she looked good to me. She looked fine. Pretty. She said her boobs were small. You said you couldn't do it like the black girls. They have big asses, you said. You were right.

But it was fine, honey.

You keep saying relax, but I can't. This is the most important moment that the world has ever known. How the fuck I'm supposed to relax?

Her hair and your hair fall across my shoulder like gentle feathers, smell of goodness, earth and hay and sunshine. Relax. Never could. I tried once, and I paid the price. They hurt me. But they taught me.

Never let your guard down.

And we died together on the side of a highway in Indiana, Jesus crying from the busted radio. Head rolling on shoulders born up under the pressure of a thousand heartaches. We were reborn in Tulsa. We experienced dread in Tampa. Syracuse was the breaking point. It was all over by the time I got to Little Rock.

She and me. You were there. Don't act all high and mighty. The road's got lots of secrets.


  1. She sits limp, as if the air has been drained out of her. Your chest aches, your own breath frozen. The sun slants through the blinds, striping her with truth her hairdresser only knows for sure. Gray, white, brassy, mottled. You want to attack her with shampoo and scissors and fresh color. Nothing like fresh color to bring someone’s face to life. Works miracles. But the miracles are in short supply when it’s one of your own. You chance a baby step into the room, your feet feeling elephant-huge and shaky in your nurse’s clogs. You know what you need to say to her. You know what you want to say to her. The words gut-punch each other in your mind. You pull up the expression you practiced in school, in classes, on hospital floors, in other nursing homes. “Mom.” The word pushes out, as if willing it to breathe life into her. She looks up. A slice of light shines across her pale, weathered cheek. A cheek you’d pressed against in sickness and health, in good times and bad, and you know it like the spectrum of blues and browns in her eyes. “Mom.” The age-thinned lips twitch, then smile, then form a word. It’s your name, and only then do you start breathing again, for both of you.

    1. (I'll come back later for comments.)

    2. Ah, this is lovely and painful, and I truly needed that last sentence.

    3. Lovely and painful does sum it up. And gut-wrenching. You can feel the walk. Suspense, dread, relief

  2. Dan... love road trip fiction. This one could easily expand into something bigger. The opening line is pure magic, and so are the lines that follow. I want to know more about these people.

    1. I love the dripping shadows and the voice. The whole thing rings true. Boldly written

    2. Love it. Just spills out like whiskey and honey.

  3. The music floated on the humid air of summer, through one open window over the loving argument of a long married couple, through another open window, across the alley where Pete the wino lived, and into the park, where a young boy sat with his sketchbook, under the tree planted by his grandfather, though the boy did not know this.

    He had never heard such music, filled with exquisite joy and pain. There were no voices, only a single instrument, an instrument for which he had no name.

    He watched his fingers trace new lines on the cheap paper of his sketchbook. One day, he would have a real sketchbook, he promised himself. Real charcoal, too, not No. 2 pencils.

    He did not try to control the sketch before him. He let his hands have free reign, watching the figure reveal itself. His best drawings were made this way, tapping into some hidden part of himself.

    The figure was sitting, in a straight backed chair. There was a sort of droop in the figure’s spine. His legs were spread apart, holding a large instrument, a sort of giant violin standing on the floor. One hand held a stick in front of the strings, the other hand caressed the end of the strings.

    The face, when his hands drew it, was old, with worry lines, unkempt hair, and at least a day’s growth of beard. The mouth was straight, though certain wrinkles bore witness to its ability to smile.

    The eyes, though, radiated energy, power, and love. Wide open, staring at something, perhaps a memory.

    And just as the face was finished, the music stopped. The boy heard, felt its absence, not just with his ears, but with an emptiness in his heart.

    The boy stared at the face on the paper. Who was it? He looked at the sky. It was getting close to sunset. His stomach growled. He’d had nothing to eat today. He closed his sketchbook, put his pencils in his pocket, and stood up. His legs had fallen asleep while he sat under the tree, and he stood still while the tingles went away.

    He walked slowly, wary of all the strangers on the sidewalk. A month or so ago, a madman had grabbed his sketchbook and run away. The boy clutched its replacement tightly.

    His eyes scanned the houses on the other side of the street. Old Victorians, once proud, now run down, with rotting gingerbread void of color. He’d drawn many of them because they were nearly black and white, perfect subjects for a boy with no money for pastels.

    And then, he stopped. For on the porch of that house, that old house on the corner, with more weeds than lawn, he saw the face his hands had drawn on the sketch pad.

    Impulsively, he crossed the street, ignoring the blare of horns chastising him, he strode up the short walk to the porch where the old man sat.

    “Excuse me,” he said.

    The man looked at him, with a mix of curiosity and caution.

    The boy opened his sketchbook, and held it open for the old man to see. “I think this is yours.” He began to tear the page out.

    “Come sit with me. Leave the drawing in the book.”

    The boy sat down, tentatively, on the wooden stairs. There was only the one chair on the porch.

    “You’ve been watching me?”

    “No. I heard music, and the music sort of controlled my hands, and I...”

    The old man nodded. “Bach will do that. A sort of magic. None more powerful than Suite No. 1 in G Major.”

    The boy sat silently.

    “The cello has magic, too. Come back tomorrow and I will show you.”

    Thus began a boy’s education in music, and a friendship that lasted until the old man died. And this is how a street urchin became a famed concert cellist. And this is why that boy, now a man, performs free concerts in that park, filled with pickpockets and addicts who, for a little while, listen and hear the voice of God through the strings of a cello.

    Bach will do that.

    1. Lovely. Love the way the story unfolds, the mystery, and it's unpredictable. Could so easily have been a ghost story too

  4. Tick

    It's time,
    The clock says it's time
    For all hours, minutes, seconds to
    Unwind, sinking, swimming into mist.
    The telling time.

    The seeker waits in the wings,
    Frozen in the dream state humming.
    Nimbus rolls in darkest thunder
    To keep the fireflies buzzing.
    White candles flicker in the burn,
    A hint of sage sweeps the air.
    He listens to this dark electric,
    Sparks tripping off beyond the veil.

    The puppeteer resides in corners,
    Moving pieces around his board,
    Stuck in this stasis, in rehearsal,
    Not seeking a reversal of his fate.
    He ushers full sound upon this stage,
    Ringing a bell for the Pharisee, who
    Like the witch, has far to travail.

    1. Love this... and "dark electric" is brilliant. The visuals on tihs are stunning.... fireflies, puppeteers, and all. I wonder if you'd consider adding one more line, at the end: Tock. Just to bring it full circle. Just an idea.

    2. Thank you! It does read unfinished, you're right, i kind of like the cut-off but it could give more :)

    3. I just meant adding the word "Tock." as a last sentence, but I'm out of line for suggesting changes.

  5. Brush

    He paints a life in seconds,
    An image of use, departed feathers,
    Where the grasses stand tall
    Sucking nutrition from the sun.

    Sparrows squawk, dip and hide,
    Finding rest on the highest limbs.
    These woods offer silent repose,
    An escape from the grey metal grind.

    He circles wonder to render order,
    Colour trickles through his hands.
    The Cumulus sail, gather to roll in,
    But supper can wait, time still.

  6. Figures without hope:

    Soldiers lay long dead,
    waiting for salvation,
    their unreceptive ears
    hearing nothing at all.
    With the trumpeter AWOL,
    there'll be no clarion calling,
    the retreat never sounded
    while they continue to fall.
    Maybe the generals,
    sipping whiskey at midday,
    will discuss reparations
    as they watch their TVs,
    while the men at the front
    still die in their thousands;
    statistics of wartime,
    read by no-one at all.

    1. Ah, this makes me ache. When soldiers are forgotten, a part of each of us dies.

  7. Death walks among us,
    A constant companion,
    He grins when we begin to fade.
    Not a friend to the living,
    He waits in each corner,
    The deepening dark in the shade.
    He's often quite cruel,
    But sometimes he's kind,
    A conductor on the final coach trip,
    His hands are skeletal
    And devoid of flesh,
    Equipped with an unbreakable grip.
    When he has your ticket,
    He'll pay you a call,
    Patient and calm to the end.
    Not a lover who'll woo you,
    He's platonic at best;
    Your elegant, unassuming friend.

    (You requested more, Vickie...)


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