Dishes

I too was wondering where to put you. Last night, still speechless
from your strewn sundresses, cello hips and and glittering cityscapes
I washed dishes in my deep basin sink. The steam from the water pasted
dark hair to nape and I scrubbed. I wondered “now, where do I put
you?”

Right now I’ll put you with the plates. Pale blue and slightly curved
along the edges. I have two of you in my cupboard one chipped on the
edge and one cracked down the middle. Don’t worry, I rarely notice
which is which. But as time goes on, perhaps you’ll rise to the bowl.
My favorite dish. The bachelor’s dish.

You’ve cracked open a new part of my brain like a stale egg.
Allowing old and musty words to slip and tumble from my brow where
they sat festering. Now free my words float. My words are waterproof.
My words control beads of water on their oily paws, their bellies
strewn with the shattered shells of crustacea.

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Chinese

When I was a little girl I would have given anything to be Chinese. I was chubby and little like a cabbage patch doll, with unruly brown curls that my white mother knew not how to tame. I had freckles, tan skin dark wet eyes. We spent a lot of time in the library and I’d make piles of books of Chinese art, culture, food language. I would uselessly gaze, lips slightly parted, at the children’s books written in Chinese. It was a fairly strange idea for a child, but I was convinced that if I worked hard enough I could become Chinese. I lost the notion by adolescence, but never lost sight of the idea that hard work opens even the most bizarre and absurd of doors.
What strange doors have you opened, and what have you found?

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Parents

I’m at the Blue Stove eating pie and eaves dropping on a family sharing the torrid past of the father with their delicate daughter. Telling her of adversity. The angry relationships between mother andI’m at the Blue Stove eating pie and eaves dropping on a family sharing the torrid past of the father with their delicate daughter. Telling her of adversity. The angry relationships between mother and son. The one-sided, oneeay street of love and responsibility. Guilt and presence. Secrets and dictatorial demands. One of my (many) faults is that in public I respect little privacy. I love to eaves drop on anyone with a story to tell. I like to carefully eye toddlers and guess what they’ll look like as teens. As old men. I peek over shoulders when strangers text, or follow too closely behind bedroom bound lovers. I sneakily peer into ground floor windows out of the edge of my eye and watch the reflections of beautiful women in the subway window glass. It’s shameful because I sway so greatly between shyness and exhibitionism. If I take I should give as greatly but I don’t. I change clothes with the windows open. Deliberatly cross my legs too slowly while in a dress. Fail to adjust my neckline. I never take phone calls in cafe’s. I tilt my phone while i type this so that no one can see. I never wear skirts much above the knee. I whisper all arguments and smile to cover the furrow in my brow. If there is a way to describe this year, it is the year of awakening. The year of awareness. I know so little and it’s joyous to think of finding trinkets. A silver starfish for understanding my tempermeant. A blue hamza to know my mother by. An oily otter slowly licking the fingers of a man lost at sea. I remember the first time my mother spilled her heart to me about her path. My grandfather, a thick and stocky Sicilian with skin the color and texture of green olives was supposedly a brilliant man for words and numbers but had no handle on his beautiful mind. He’d pull knives on the children, his face becoming slick with sweat at the sign of an unwashed dish, an imaginary cough, an untamed laugh. I have to remind myself… So these are parents, too. son. The one-sided, oneeay street of love and responsibility. Guilt and presence. Secrets and dictatorial demands. One of my (many) faults is that in public I respect little privacy. I love to eaves drop on anyone with a story to tell. I like to carefully eye toddlers and guess what they’ll look like as teens. As old men. I peek over shoulders when strangers text, or follow too closely behind bedroom bound lovers. I sneakily peer into ground floor windows out of the edge of my eye and watch the reflections of beautiful women in the subway window glass. It’s shameful because I sway so greatly between shyness and exhibitionism. If I take I should give as greatly but I don’t. I change clothes with the windows open. Deliberatly cross my legs too slowly while in a dress. Fail to adjust my neckline. I never take phone calls in cafe’s. I tilt my phone while i type this so that no one can see. I never wear skirts much above the knee. I whisper all arguments and smile to cover the furrow in my brow. If there is a way to describe this year, it is the year of awakening. The year of awareness. I know so little and it’s joyous to think of finding trinkets. A silver starfish for understanding my tempermeant. A blue hamza to know my mother by.

 

My grandfather, a thick and stocky Sicilian with skin the color and texture of green olives was a brilliant man for numbers but had no handle on his beautiful mind. He’d pull knives on the children, his face becoming slick with sweat at the sign of an unwashed dish, an imaginary cough, an untamed laugh. I have to remind myself… So these are parents, too.

 

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Odd Jobs- Third in a Series

The trick to taming lions is to know that it’s an art,
It has no room for unjust fools or those just brave at heart
Finesse, kind words and love of beast will surely serve you well, 
But is this task the one for you? Well, that is hard to tell!
They said that it’d be dangerous and I’d surely meet my death but
once a week I curl my lashes with the lion’s sour breath.
They said a lion’s temperament is vicious, cruel and mean
But within a month, I’d taught the lion to keep his own cage clean
“Watch your back!” They called to me, “his claws are sharp and thin!”
But now with paws so delicate he wipes the noodles from my chin.
You’re far to small to train this lion, you won’t survive his bite.
But now before he goes to sleep, I kiss his mane goodnight.
For there are times to fear and fret about large jungle cats
But with soft words and patience they fall calm upon the mat

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My Perverted Prince

I moved to neighborhood in Brooklyn on Friday and while sleeping on the floor, had a vivid dream about my favorite authors. On a whim sent a note to the one that I thought would be most swayed by my thoughts.

Dear Mr.****,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for years. My friend and I, sweaty and calm on the beaches of Costa Rica, wrote you letters on the back of “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Composed emails to you in Egyptian hostels. We ran into Jason Schwartzman last summer on St. Marks and thought to ask him if he could introduce us. I sometimes think of you when on the F train or the dingy into Princeton.

Last night I dreamt I was assigned to a carpool from Brooklyn to my mentor’s wedding in New Hampshire. When I arrived at the meeting point, a bar in Brooklyn Heights, I saw I’d be riding with you, Dave Eggers and Amitav Ghosh. I sat on your lap and gave you a kiss on the cheek for each story that made me laugh. I hung off your neck pressing mine to yours for each sentence that moved me to make some responsible or irresponsible decision (I am 24, I have made much of each). From your lap I told Dave Eggers how impressed I was with his range of literary style. How I desperately search for an affordable copy of his McSweeny-published short stories set. I gave Amitav Ghosh the cold shoulder. He’s pushed back the release date for book two of the Ibis Trilogy three too many times. He and I will talk again pending the book’s release.

I don’t know why I’m writing to you except to say that I love your work and I hope someday to meet you. Don’t worry; It’s unlikely that I’d sit on you lap and kiss your face. Although If your present self is true to the man that lives in you stories, you might not mind.

My best in affectionate admiration,

He replied!

In my new apartment we are neighbors and he, claiming to have not met a person that has written to him in years, invited me out for a drink.

He’s an odd and rambling man with strange habits and afflictions for which I admire him. He was kind to me. Sweet to me. Walked me 10 blocks home while holding my hand and stroking my thumb with his. He claims I’m beautiful with wise eyes and an eternal patience. That I’m easy talk to, a good listener with sage understanding. And me, I just melted into a puddle of smiles and blushing and told him interesting things as thy came to mind. How the brains of tweens develop. How birds and large dinosaurs have accessory respiratory pouches so that they never need suffer the indignity of being left hollow upon the exhale. He stroked my nose. I drank whiskey. He white wine.

He caressed my arms and hands but never my leg or face. I didn’t kiss him as I had in my dream- wanting to gracefully give respect and place his will above my own- but hugged him deeply two times. The first he pulled away too quickly (I admit to giving long embraces instead of hugs. I love to be held. I love to hold.) The second hug he lingered with me happily hanging off of his neck like a baby monkey gazing at the tip of it’s mother’s nose.

I’ve never found men my own age to be aware of my listening, my ease of understanding. My awareness or appreciation.  Men in their 40s, the few I know, seem to notice. Lap them with their rough tongues lIke cream clumsily spilt to the floor. I wonder why that is. Is it my budding youth, or a change of perspective and priority?

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And So I am.

My new apartment is beautiful and rich and quiet. I have ginkos and evergreens outside my window and when I wake it is to the sing-song vocal plucking of gray birds. A stiff and rounded bowl of
sticks and spit and feather down sits below my bedroom window cradling four featherless babies. Gray and big-headed and new to the world they squirm and squiggle and wiggle like worms on the pavement after a heavy rain. I wonder if the new world is difficult for them. Too loud or confusing or sharp after their gestation. I often, these days, feel the warmth and sun of this world but also it’s sharpness like the edge of broken ice. My tender heart fills and stretches close to bursting, but when the swelling fades with time or unfulfillment it’s left limp and sagging, rubbed raw from my constant stroking, the subtle submersion of my hand down my throat and into my chest to check
that it’s still there and beating well.

It feels stretched and wrinkled today. The double reinforced bars of my chest too tight from disappointment and my heart laying deflated. loose. Uninspired. The heavy gray cast over my brow. And so I am.

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Growing Old, Growing Urethra

“I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear the bottom of my trouser’s rolled”

I’m peeing for the 9th or 10th time since I woke up at noon. Every half-hour or so I find myself sitting sideways on my toilet staring up into the filthy grate above me like each ball of lint and unspeakable streak of grime is a constellation. I should clean it, but right now I’ve got peeing to do.
I’ve been drinking too much water today in an attempt to keep the food out of my mouth when I absentmindedly wander into the kitchen. I’m somewhat fat now, curvy by the standards of men in their 40’s who don’t mind a pretty face and freckly nose atop some lumps and rolls, but still I jiggle, giggle, wiggle. My arms swinging like empty banana peels. My stomach oddly flat, but my butt-cheeks demand at least four large hands to cover them. I’m half the person I was at 12 when I clocked in at a respectable 5’4″ and 315 lbs.
Thinner than ever, I still battle the Fat-Kid habits of my youth. While I’ll no longer respond to my name by pulling my salt-burnt tongue off of the inside of a microwaveable popcorn bag, I still sneak a spoonful of raw pancake batter when I can and delight in confiscating candy from children. My mouth overflowing with quickly scarfed brown rice will remind myself of that time in 1998 that I ate a dish of food so quickly that I immediately vomited it up. I grind my food with great intensity. If it’s meant to come back up, it’s going to be reincarnated as a gray paste.
On days like this, where I spend a lot of time peeing, I often worry about my uterthra. My aunt had a shortened one elongated in the late 90’s in what sounded like a painful medical procedure. My mother, plagued by the cancerous cough of a 3 pack-a-day-smoker would have to keep a folded towel underneath her tweed swivel chair to keep it clean. I’m constantly inspecting and evaluating the contents of my underwear to make sure that whatevers there is normal. I know what’s in my head is a ball of misfiring circuits and interrupted loops, so I hope at least I’ll be able to escape adult diapers- my ass is so big already…

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