the cost of living these days

manitas3

it seems
this time of ours
is borrowed
from long before and far
behind

where
in the face of plague
of heads rolling
these designer black
finely tailored suits
they struggle to prop us up
to keep us from spilling out
all over

and as we cry out
indignant
our screams echo in virtual
caves
bouncing from faceless
eyes
limbless
fingers
with too much fluff
to sink in under
anyone’s
skin
anywhere

so
now
is when i dig deep
i scrounge inside
these pockets aching with
the present

for something like
the urgent rush of his breath
pressing
into my ear

or their already not so little boy hands
outstretched in my sink
snared with tree sap
calling me

for anything
really
that might begin to cover the cost
of living these days

Ode to Roadkill

tire2

It began with the bullfrog outside a Safeway-

he ended a rose, well pressed for posterity.

From there my rubbernecking moved to birds of prey,

plumed arm raised, monument of tragicomedy.

But the doe,

she takes me down and deep.

Daily traffic can’t help but slow

with all that beauty in a heap.

all the colors of white

tat2

It’s an unbearably bright day.
From the window the sun bores through my albino outsides and gets me at the core, a colossal magnifying glass on my piss-ant soul.
There is only one solution.
Thanks to years of practice, I’ve managed to tuck another school day under the sheets.

“One of my migranes coming on, Dad. I’m sure I’ll be better in a couple of hours if I just hang out here in bed. See you later.”

As soon as I’m sure the house is all mine, I sit up and my hand dives to the back of the pillowcase, feeling for gear. Every finger itches to dive forward, but I force myself to slow down, taking in every step of the routine for the last time. One by one, I pull out the rubbing alcohol, my baggie of safety pins, the lighter, the India Ink. I set them all on the end table in a tight circle around the teacup.
Now for that remaining spot of blank canvas. On the right arm, I run my finger over the raised lines, redrawing the pictures in my mind: fat inchworms oozing out of the eye sockets of a skull, the lit stick of dynamite. I start to read the outline of a woman (wild eyes, hair standing on end), but it cuts off at her waist. All I feel below for about two inches is smooth, unmarked.
I slosh some alcohol into a palm, rub both hands together and slap the extra along the open area above my elbow. Then I unscrew and tip the squat bottle, letting a little night escape and nestle into the smooth cradle of the cup. The lighter licks and licks at the pin and tells me the job is done when the tip is good and dark. A dip in the ink and it’s darker yet, ready to go.
The dot-to-dot begins, heavy and steady. I’m spending as much time inking as re-inking the pin or dabbing the beads of blood off with a Kleenex. No hurry, though. Under the bobbing of my pin, some creepy spider legs are sprouting from the crazy lady’s waist. The black slides in me like a salve and then, as soon as it soaks into my skin, the serious magic starts. Like a rainbow trail of lit gunpowder, the color in the newly drawn spider limbs begins to transform: first it turns scarlet and tangerine at the hips, then gold and forest green at the first leg joints, next sky and navy blue following at the lower ones, and indigo finishing up at the bottom tips. And just like that, every trace of the original india ink is gone.

“Nice sleeve.”

I remember I had just stepped inside the examining room for my first visit and suddenly this Dr. J was right there in front of me, shaking the life out of my hand, pausing midair to check out the doodling peeking from my forearm.
I just kept my head down, daring only to stare at the long fingers that had finally released mine and were now moving to roll up the white coat on her left arm. This unleashed a swirling battle of tentacles and spears, tsunami waves and ships.
The boom of her voice pulled me out from my trance with her tattoos.

“As you can see, I’m a fan of body art. I had all this done by a guy over on 5th and Grand. I know you’re not of age to have gotten yours professionally. How did you achieve that rich color? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

I couldn’t come up with anything better than a weak shrug for an answer.
She looked down at my arm again, thinking. Now it was her turn to shrug.

“I suppose it makes sense. After all, white is the reflection of every color in the spectrum.”

An hour and a half later, all eight of the spider legs are ready and I start making an hourglass above the widow’s belly button. But just three pinholes into the design, my bladder screams critical levels and I am forced to leap out of bed and stumble down the hall to the bathroom.
As I’m washing my hands, I catch my reflection in the mirror. I take off my ever-thickening lenses, rub the bridge of my nose, and move super close to the glass. More than my fluorescent skin or hair, it’s those pale irises that always trip me out. I swear I can even make out some organs behind them. You’d think their transparency would help me see better and not worse, right? Dr. J sure is trying, but honestly things aren’t looking so good for me in that department.
Back in my room, I put the last touches on the second sleeve and I lean down to go over every bit of the outlining, trying to carve it in my memory. I’m really glad there is a lot of scarring because that way, when my eyes finally go black, my hands can be the ones to see all those colors of white.

for seth who hates math today (you see i do understand)

pajaro

before they called me a sparrow
i was a bird
mingled among all the others
our feathers expertly
amok
in an uncharted carpet of sky
until
miss so-and-so
she and her puttied smile
marched through the door
laying lines
dropping names
cardinals over here please
then the jays yes that’s right dear
this spot for the hawks
and the sparrows that’s you hmm well why not over
there
miss so-and-so
she and her puttied smile
start firing morsels
in the air
cryptic and puzzling pests that
oh the cardinals
and jays
especially the hawks
their limbs soaring
snatch them up
bravo
well done
chests puffed out all over
but
the sparrow
i’m grounded
the few unclaimed offerings
raining upon me
making these mud wings
hanging
by my sides
even
heavier
miss so-and-so
you and your puttied smile
can’t lord
everywhere
in my head
the blue is infinite
and a bird
is simply a bird
forever

the fall

falling
The fall is coming
as advertised
with its heavy-hearted inertia
and the morning fog reminds me so
dropping
down my throat
as I brace the dentist’s chair.
Even the boys
did some preemptive mourning
this morning
over frayed socks
and hairs on end
wisps of a season
that has all but blown away.
I relish those few woolen threads
still before their eyes.
As we drive by the tree on the corner
deep in the afternoon
I am the only one
who rereads headlines
of another stolen child
amongst its scarlet leaves.

.

 

 

 

 

sea legs

sea8

their woozy faces
tell
it has indeed been a rocky night and
despite my years in fourfold over these greenhorns
i’m here
stumbling around the house snarling
wishing
a wooden prosthetic were the culprit
for i’d rather not admit
the land can be this
unyielding
just no give to speak of so
into the soup
we must go
come on boys
i know the seal skins are a drag to unshed but
just look at her out there
waving
ready
go
now
everything
is rushing back
how good it is
to feel the world’s woes
freed
as one fluid body all around you
to taste its
cathartic salt on your lips
as your own
to glance down at your limbs
only to see
they have been magically transformed
into ripples that could not be
more
seamlessly
in step
with
the tide

blowing bubbles

burbujas

these forty some odd years of rubble
when they really get to
weighing
on my chest
i fake them out
sprawled out on the summer sidewalk
make like i’m giving in
all the while buying some time back to when
every breath
was a maiden voyage skywards

surely you remember
the ridiculously buoyant vessels passing your lips
their domed walls
a swirling spectral radiance of the dreamy sighs they harbor
all witnesses gone still
clocks
their flailing arms finally calm
so sated are they with the moment
when some of the orbs manage to drift out of sight
rendering the continuum of possibility
utterly elastic

as for the ones that popped
well
there was that initial pang of loss
but a giggle would soon follow
for a bottle of soap seems bottomless
and that wand in your hand
can be so convincing
even now
as i raise one before me to
blow
some more
bubbles