When you were put away your car had a half a tank of gas. This surprised me, because I had only ever seen you put five dollars in at a time. While you drove I would watch the dial on the odometer slowly turn as we ate up every tenth of a mile.
After you were put away we cried in a bar. Two boys approached us and asked us to play pool, and I said yes, but the game felt silly and meaningless. Later that night I read Ginsberg, Brautigan, and Burroughs aloud and we cried again. She mentioned that this was the week you were supposed to wear your dress to class. I had coated your long lashes in black mascara and dusted blush into the hollows of your sharp cheekbones. Seeing you appear in the doorframe looking that way made me realize how little I know about sexuality.
I once saw someone turn in the Bible to the page where Leviticus 18 should have been, his finger pointing into the shadow of the spine, the wavy tear where the page was. It was at that point that I really believed, that I could rewrite anything, tear away anything.
The blinds in our hotel room in the city completely blacked out the morning light, except for an alien blue sliver at the bottom. An idea slipped through two planes of my consciousness, it was the morning of the first day of fall. I reached for it and it was gone. Someone knocked on the door.
A courtyard party at Poste brought cool winds and champagne. The attached hotel corridors were never-ending, a maze of plush patterns that climbed the walls. We must have explored for a half hour, taking the elevators up and down. I changed out of my tights in front of a locked door sunken into the wall. Each hallway was hauntingly silent, freezing with its red drapes and chandeliers. What I wanted that night has never been verbalized.
One evening in late March around 6 pm we took a walk. You were ahead of me. Your thin long legs in their black denim were strangely masculine; your fingers in their dirty fingerless gloves pinched the remainder of your cigarette between your lips. We passed Bedouin Lane when I began to notice the sun setting and the harsh brassy light on the frozen grass. The wind came on sharp and icy for a moment, and then the air was still. The sounds of birds swelled from the trees, sounds as clear as a glass of water. You whistled back, perfectly matching their tone. They responded.
He’s cut his ties to me and mine to him, but his madness cannot be cut out of me.
Whenever I see a scrap of paper on the ground I always pick it up hoping to read a letter or a stream of consciousness, at the very least human handwriting, but that rarely happens and it will just be a blank white square or a receipt.
I went to the roof looking for the sunrise. The city was shrouded in fog and the wooden deck was damp. I sat on one of the railings and watched for signs of life, small apartment windows becoming dim gold, taxis passing, and unidentified sounds of morning. The sky was violet in some places, but there were no signs of sun. I waited and waited, dazed, for what seemed like an eternity, never aware of the time. Nothing happened.
I left my hotel room, 26 floors down, out of the lobby with the marble bar and fireplace. A group of men stood outside smoking. Some said things to me as I passed. I walked to a grocery store a few blocks away. The city traffic was still thick. I took things off the shelves without even thinking and shoved them into my purse, and left the store, tossing packaging into the snow.
I was youth embodied at that time; reckless, with my heart and my hands in a dozen places at once. I spent nights camping in illegal places, graffiting trains, morning coffee at Blues Cafe with him, a true poet if I’ve ever met one, who I remember by his camel 99s, white v-necks, brass knuckles, and his red 90s flatbed truck.
Give me a date, and we’ll barricade ourselves in a hotel room to write and create. I’ll bring as many drugs as I can get a hold of. Whatever we create will be the defining art of our generation.
The glowing hot brand presses down on the skin, and what we call objectivity is burned away.
A black town car pulls up in front of my high-rise building. I leave the newsroom with the empty whiskey handles littering the desks, the TV on mute. Some talking head moves across the screen wordlessly. This is a city built up through riots, someone explains. I live among billionaire brownstone apartments, a convenience store, an abandoned drugstore, and a crack house set behind East Capitol street. Everyone I pass is leading a life as vibrant as mine. I haven’t been eating. I miss my dad’s banjo cassette tapes, and singing along, speeding up turnpikes on the Appalachian Mountains.
In the parking lot of a seedy bar on the other side of town four of my friends unload their guitars and equipment, carrying it through the back door. I am standing outside in the blackness of midnight finishing a cigarette. There is only the sound of trains, which go through town every seven minutes.
At the house that night the boys shout poetry while laughing. A single bulb lights the unfinished basement, and everyone is ducked around a table with a water-damaged image of a Renaissance angel hanging over it. The eyes follow us deeper into the room, in our identical black coats. Nights such as this disorient me, but I appeared as promised cracking my knuckles and laughing. Laughing, the eeriest sound. The winter sun is hot, pale, filtering out of the clouds in splashes of light on the icy ground. My shadow is long and dark. I pull sunglasses from inside my bag, the harsh white and silver of the sky warms and softens to a golden brown.
Someone I know was mugged outside my apartment last night. I was going to leave to go buy wine around the time that it happened. There is a neon sign down the street that reads FUNERAL when lit. The best writers are able to slip past the reader quietly, without a break in their language, so that the reader remains entranced.
The faces in the city all blur into one familiar, universal face. In the street I swear people I know are passing me, following me. I stop beside a cardboard box full of discarded books and light a cigarette. I notice there is no wind. It is so still that the smoke hangs in front of my face as if in a vacuum. I reach down to sift through the box. It’s full of strange sci-fi novels. I keep walking.
What do you call the eternal wandering feeling of experiencing truth, and realizing it means absolutely nothing, brings no satisfaction?
The conditions as of late have allowed me to always walk a long hall in a dream. I have made nice with the deepest experiences in the world.