ma’ woman lef’ me too blues

My wife was fast, manipulative, expensive and mean, but when she was in my bed she had an addicting sweetness, filling the worm holes in my soul with the light of the stars under God’s feet. I simply believed then that I loved her more than anything, ever. The continents could fall below me, Satan himself could drag me into the molten pits of Hell by my guts; I didn’t care as long as she was there with me, on my arm or at least have her close enough where I could sniff her tarty scent.

An amber bronzed Persian princess, Schiva curled my toes with delight. Schiva licked and suckled universes in and out of my body and mind I never knew existed. Schiva’s almost vapory fingers massaged me, penetrated me in luscious blinding ecstasy, swirling my very breath in orgasmic space travel past the Nebulae that are yet to come.

The Schiva Nirvana ended one October. More or less a month prior I ran out of disposable income. Schiva did not understand that I was a working stiff with debts. “I do not give one damn about your problem Grady! You want me, you pay!”I thought I heard her say as I squirmed on a midnight blue suede couch. She left out my mind’s door and slammed it behind her.

I’d been crying all day. The madness that comes with convulsive laughter possessed me. The memory of a 30 year old, ex-orphan, trust funder named Jeff who introduced me to her at his King Edward Hotel suite came to mind. Jeff of rotund body and broken heart was the vehicle that would take me into what I perceived to be something better, anything was better than how I felt then.

Then Schiva whispered, Jeff whispered and the three of us shared penetration-less sweet love on his dirty blue sheets. Sheets stained with other sweats of other addicts who had too signed their life away to the Beautiful Golden Dragon.

Schiva and I started off by going out on dates with Jeff exclusively at least six or seven times a month. And as long as I had the money. The problem was that Schiva and I started dating at least twice a week behind Jeff’s back and he did not appreciate that. Jeff would become angry and jealous and would withhold her from me. He wanted to take Schiva first and leave me his sloppy seconds.

Being of a non-confrontational nature, I stopped hanging out with Jeff and Schiva off and on for about a year and a half. I had found other crutch mistresses to pass the time. At 17, things changed between Schiva and me; we got closer. I worked hard doing office work, recycling, driving trucks for my uncle all for my new bride Schiva. 

That October 10th I loathed myself, so I ran to Baker’s Beach in San Francisco for almost two days. I guess that about forty-four hours passed. I rolled around in the wet sand, vomited, cut my knuckles on the rocks, burned in fever, shook in the cold and cried; alone. Night turned to day back to night and then almost morning. The purge was good. The purge was the kindest thing I ever did for myself. I thought about dying to live, then all went blank.

But, in the midst of the spiritual hell of the very human junkie withdrawal, I had dark thoughts too. I would cut my arms in such a way that bleeding could not be stopped and before passing out, I would run into the water to make sure I drowned. But first, I would pan handle enough change to get a few bottles of Nyquil and vodka to make sure I was completely disabled in the cold bay water. I had all I needed, except the money. I giggled at the irony of being penniless now, when just a few measly weeks before I was burning through all the money I had to get high.

I hated myself. I judged myself to be selfish, weak, inconsiderate, cowardly and worthless. I tried convincing myself that no one could help my loneliness, my need of love and acceptance. I felt dirty because I had been repeatedly used and violated. I did not know how to express anything other than being good at being a fuck up. I did not know how to ask for help; I did not give anyone an opportunity to help. I wanted to run and disappear; I wanted something beyond mere death.

my way…

my wife was fast manipulative expensive and mean but when she was in my bed she had an addicting sweetness filling the worm holes in my soul with the light of the stars under God’s feet i simply believed then that i loved her more than anything ever the continents could fall below me Satan himself could drag me into the molten pits of Hell by my guts i didn’t care as long as she was there with me on my arm or at least have her close enough where i could sniff her tarty scent

an amber bronzed Persian princess Schiva curled my toes with delight Schiva licked and suckled universes in and out of my body and mind i never knew existed Schiva’s almost vapory fingers massaged me penetrated me in luscious blinding ecstasy swirling my very breath in orgasmic space travel past the Nebulae that are yet to come

the Schiva Nirvana ended one October more or less a month prior i ran out of disposable income Schiva did not understand that i was a working stiff with debts i do not give one damn about your problem Grady you want me you pay i thought i heard her say as i squirmed on a midnight blue suede couch she left out my mind’s door and slammed it behind her

i’d been crying all day the madness that comes with convulsive laughter possessed me the memory of a 30 year old ex orphan trust funder named Jeff who introduced me to her at his King Edward Hotel suite came to mind Jeff of rotund body and broken heart was the vehicle that would take me into what i perceived to be something better anything was better than how i felt then

then Schiva whispered Jeff whispered and the three of us shared penetration less sweet love on his dirty blue sheets sheets stained with other sweats of other addicts who had too signed their life away to the Beautiful Golden Dragon

Schiva and i started off by going out on dates with Jeff exclusively at least six or seven times a month and as long as i had the money the problem was that Schiva and i started dating at least twice a week behind Jeff’s back and he did not appreciate that Jeff would become angry and jealous and would withhold her from me he wanted to take Schiva first and leave me his sloppy seconds

being of a non confrontational nature i stopped hanging out with Jeff and Schiva off and on for about a year and a half i had found other crutch mistresses to pass the time at 17 things changed between Schiva and me we got closer i worked hard doing office work recycling driving trucks for my uncle all for my new bride Schiva

that October 10th i loathed myself so i ran to Baker’s Beach in San Francisco for almost two days i guess that about forty four hours passed i rolled around in the wet sand vomited cut my knuckles on the rocks burned in fever shook in the cold and cried alone night turned to day back to night and then almost morning the purge was good the purge was the kindest thing i ever did for myself i thought about dying to live then all went blank

but in the midst of the spiritual hell of the very human junkie withdrawal i had dark thoughts too i would cut my arms in such a way that bleeding could not be stopped and before passing out i would run into the water to make sure i drowned but first i would pan handle enough change to get a few bottles of Nyquil and vodka to make sure i was completely disabled in the cold bay water i had all i needed except the money i giggled at the irony of being penniless now when just a few measly weeks before i was burning through all the money i had to get high

i hated myself i judged myself to be selfish weak inconsiderate cowardly and worthless i tried convincing myself that no one could help my loneliness my need of love and acceptance i felt dirty because i had been repeatedly used and violated i did not know how to express anything other than being good at being a fuck up i did not know how to ask for help i did not give anyone an opportunity to help i wanted to run and disappear i wanted something beyond mere death

JC and the milk crate dancer

i’m so tired of being an addict i hate having to travel on Temple Street but all the signs are good Our Lady of Angels Greg Laurie Harvest Stickers car plates chock full of hearts and tiny hands instead of numbers letters they’re all messages from high up i’m cool i can handle this there’s the Déjà Vu Club who cares i don’t worry about chasing my fixations into there

what am i saying do i really feel safe walking down this damn street full of crazy assholes trying to get to the nearest bar why don’t i lay on one of these benches and just stay still damn it and what’s all this taking bumper stickers and 158 year old buildings as a sign that anything or anyone for that matter is cool

it’s comforting to me ok i know how anal i can get about that stuff not that anyone cares better yet not that anyone would ever suspect that a loser like me even thinks about her soul so why worry about it i can’t control my thoughts my fleeting humming bird mind

hmmm on the other hand lemme be a devil’s advocate do i ever feel like texting my people and telling them if i ever have to drop everything and everyone and give my life and soul and everything else and die in the name of and for Jesus would i do it

my heart says yes i guess you can’t be lukewarm its yes or no yes yes i would i don’t have anything in the world to lose but man yes yes i would

sounds a lot like i’m trying to convince myself that would mean leaving everyone and everything i love behind leaving the world I know for the unknown i’m crystal clear on that right

yes i am it’s the only thing that i am sure of look i don’t have anything to offer that’s original or universe shattering i can choose to be nice humble sacrifice all whatever etc but that my fucked up little mind is merely revolutionary NOT UNIVERSE SHATTERING right but the outcome is unknown regardless now why do i think that because the recipients of my choices and deeds are people and people are human and humans aren’t perfect so by that rational it doesn’t matter a flying rats ass what  do or don’t or believe or don’t my heart says do it jump off the cliff step off the boat God will be there my puny runty tiny black worthless heart tells me that not brains or conscience uh no hard feelings ok my little fragile mind but that’s what i believe i was born with this belief i can’t shake it shoot it out cut it off chemo it beat it it’s in me whether i want it or not i can’t even ignore it

besides a human would push me off the cliff and throw me off the boat in an episode of hysteria it’s just survival instinct who can blame them so i’d rather do it myself jump step off you know take hold of my own destiny captain of my soul whatever

then again it sounds like i’ve been watching too many Prophecy flicks so the church is sharing real estate with the strip joints do i think that’s funny do i think that juxtaposition by the freeway was there for me does it make me think deeply does it make me question morality hmmm

no not really i’m not special like that but if i look at it business wise being that this is Downtown Los Angeles the church gets its souls and tithes and the strip joint gets its saps and tips win win it’s all supply and demand my good woman

wow Adam Smith ‘Wealth of Nations’ who knew anyone could ever make a triangular connection between church titty bars and world economics freakin’ smart

well i do my worst thinking on the freeway ramps sorry but my decision stands firm can i turn off now my stream of consciousness is a big ass blinding light of a reminder in my eyeballs

what do i remind me of i’m just a stream of irrepressible and unimportant thought that no one can control remember

you remind me of where i am and i don’t want to be reminded at all let’s step off the milk crate now the sheriffs will be finding us soon enough

Rooster

In 1993 I learned two things about Chinese culture. First that it was the Year of the Rooster and second, that “he who strikes the first blow admits he’s lost the argument.”

 In 2003 I sat in the Cecil’s lobby, putrid and rancid with depressive thoughts, but hoping to score; human companionship. No one was there anymore and I was an adult now. My mind meandered.

Rooster was my father. In his youth he was Billy-from-Easy-Rider handsome, cocky, and a womanizer. Rooster would never back down from a fight, ever. He drank enough booze to fly a plane, snorted mountainous amounts of cocaine, cursed, worked hard and partied even harder. I heard that in the autumn of his life Rooster wore scars and tattoos like medals, sped on motorcycles, and had no connection with the children he spawned in and out of wedlock.

Two blond women with big jugs stomped into the lobby and yelled at the janitor demanding that he produce a Roy Mingus. I’ve never forgotten that name on account that is sounds really cool. I imagined Roy looking like Hugh Hefner but broke. The ladies left into the back of the hotel and gassy breeze sneaked in; I thought about Los Feliz and me squeezing lighter fluid into the barbecue pit when I was five.

During the years of my short lived young life, my mother survived through ten years of battle and then my parents divorced. When sober, Rooster was verbally abusive and when high and drunk ultra-violent if anyone crossed him. Other than that, he had been a devout Sunday morning Catholic, chest pounder, and rosary wielding. Tithe giving included.

Rooster came to the brink of death a few times at the hands of his own brother, Gjeo and their motor cycling brothers when they got wind that he’d beat up some broad. It wasn’t in their intricate code of ethics to strike women or kids. The running joke amongst them was that Rooster was like Lazarus for having the longest record of recovery after having his ass and several other organs handed to him over the years. In some ways, I admired the resiliency in him. In other ways, I had always felt profound sorrow and tenderness for the old man.

I curled up and nodded off into the ozone of the lobby. It was around one in the morning that old Pike straggled in and woke me. He startled me and I swung, narrowly missing his crotch. After cussing and gasping he sat across from me in the greasy old easy chair. We started talking about lawn mower motors. He chattered away, but my mind was ten years back.

That 1993 spring mid-morning was fragrant as the moisture in the air teased out the green hopeful smell of ferns and pepper trees surrounding my uncle’s garage. I needed my uncle to explain catalytic converters to me. My mechanic wasn’t able to fix my Jeep and maybe Aces, as my uncle was called, could.

my way…

in 1993 i learned two things about Chinese culture first that it was the Year of the Rooster and second that he who strikes the first blow admits he’s lost the argument

in 2003 i sat in the Cecil’s lobby putrid and rancid with depressive thoughts but hoping to score human companionship no one was there anymore and i was an adult now my mind meandered

Rooster was my father in his youth he was Billy from Easy Rider handsome cocky and a womanizer rooster would never back down from a fight ever he drank enough booze to fly a plane snorted mountainous amounts of cocaine cursed worked hard and partied even harder i heard that in the autumn of his life rooster wore scars and tattoos like medals sped on motorcycles and had no connection with the children he spawned in and out of wedlock

two blond women with big jugs stomped into the lobby and yelled at the janitor demanding that he produce a Roy Mingus i’ve never forgotten that name on account that is sounds really cool i imagined Roy looking like Hugh Hefner but broke the ladies left into the back of the hotel and gassy breeze sneaked in i thought about Los Feliz and me squeezing lighter fluid into the barbecue pit when i was five

during the years of my short lived young life my mother survived through ten years of battle and then my parents divorced when sober Rooster was verbally abusive and when high and drunk ultra violent if anyone crossed him other than that he had been a devout Sunday morning Catholic chest pounder and rosary wielding tithe giving included

Rooster came to the brink of death a few times at the hands of his own brother Gjeo and their motor cycling brothers when they got wind that he’d beat up some broad it wasn’t in their intricate code of ethics to strike women or kids the running joke among them was that Rooster was like Lazarus for having the longest record of recovery after having his ass and several other organs handed to him over the years in some ways i admired the resiliency in him in other ways i had always felt profound sorrow and tenderness for the old man

i curled up and nodded off into the ozone of the lobby it was around one in the morning that old Pike straggled in and woke me he startled me and i swung narrowly missing his crotch after cussing and gasping he sat across from me in the greasy old easy chair we started talking about lawn mower motors he chattered away but my mind was ten years back

that 1993 spring mid morning was fragrant as the moisture in the air teased out the green hopeful smell of ferns and pepper trees surrounding my uncle’s garage i needed my uncle to explain catalytic converters to me my mechanic wasn’t able to fix my Jeep and maybe Aces as my uncle was called could

contrition

Indeed, it is very rare when I can feel the stillness of my spirit. It is a wild one. It thrives on diving off the highest cliffs of life and relishes the feeling of narrowly avoiding the jagged rocks of human pain below. I feel her today. She sits next to me silently caressing the gold of the elusive clear horizon.

Thoughts of worry flood me every so often. Will the stillness leave us causing my spirit to tear my natural peace a sunder? It has been much too long before I had the courage to go on my own. To walk away from the safety of the rock solid artificial happiness was terrifying. I did not want to wander in the depth of dark waters for so many years more.

the day dream

the news comes and goes

laughing children noises

frame the window to a past

that has no terrible value

perhaps I should leave it to the dawn

The time for the appointment is here. I have made a commitment to go outside today. How I wish I was  in Big Sur with him. He loved me how I was, but I didn’t love myself. Do I love myself now, I wonder? I laugh a little. The water hushes me and I smile. His shoulders wide and strong, my disease and madness a little stronger. It’s not that he abandoned me, it’s just that he believed in freedom. I believed that my sickness was an entitlement worth dying for.

my way…

indeed it is very rare when i can feel the stillness of my spirit it is a wild one it thrives on diving off the highest cliffs of life and relishes the feeling of narrowly avoiding the jagged rocks of human pain below i feel her today she sits next to me silently caressing the gold of the elusive clear horizon

thoughts of worry flood me every so often will the stillness leave us causing my spirit to tear my natural peace a sunder it has been much too long before i had the courage to go on my own to walk away from the safety of the rock solid artificial happiness was terrifying i did not want to wander in the depth of dark waters for so many years more

the day dream

the news comes and goes

laughing children noises

frame the window to a past

that has no terrible value

perhaps i should leave it to the dawn

the time for the appointment is here i have made a commitment to go outside today how i wish i was  in Big Sur with him he loved me how i was but i didn’t love myself do i love myself now wonder i laugh a little the water hushes me and i smile his shoulders wide and strong my disease and madness a little stronger it’s not that he abandoned me it’s just that he believed in freedom i believed that my sickness was an entitlement worth dying for

Photo by Sue Vincent

civics

I’d been as dry as the moon. My pimply friend from PE class dared me. I didn’t last very long, maybe four days. Sobriety week was excruciatingly strange. My da went to jail and my mom had to bail him out with the mortgage payment. I didn’t witness this first hand, my uncle told me when he came looking for me at the Cecil.

Gjeo found me at Spare Cock’s. He greeted us with two of his brothers from the motor club. My uncle was liberal in his way of thinking. By that I mean women didn’t belong in the kitchen all the time; they could move about the house, preferably topless and in heels.

His Portuguese tongue stroked out for a few moments. Gjeo I suspected had never encountered a woman like Spare Cock. Tall, chocolaty, muscular, blond hair and with scrotum duct taped into her inner thigh.  He stared at Spare Cock and Brother Gertrude while they were snorting lines. Gjeo’s eyes shifted from the tomfoolery in the room back to me.

Until this day, I haven’t figured out how he found me. I was getting sloppy but maybe I didn’t give a shit. I was hallucinating and trembling. He called me out to the hallway. It was the way he said ‘Grady’ that made me feel like bad news was coming, but with the imminent heard of pink elephants with faces like Leonard Nimoy, I wasn’t too concerned.

In his 60’s biker boy lingo he told me that my pops had gotten picked up and that my mom didn’t want to bail him out. Blah, blah, blah slow motion in my ears. I was getting buried beneath the waters of slow decomposing withdrawal at 16.

My eyebrows were raised and my bottom lip curled back into my mouth. Then I’d look into the walls, real far away like. We made small talk and then he grabbed my wrist. I think I pulled away real hard and said I wasn’t going to my mom’s place. He looked at me. The hazel pity darts pierced me through. He had labeled me as a “poor little thing.”

He turned his head to the left a bit and then cracked his neck like a Sicilian Don. He pointed at me with his left hand and forced a whisper through his aging teeth. He ordered me home by the next morning. I asked him why I had to leave. I didn’t hear what I wanted to be told. Instead he said that no blood of his was going to be holed up in a rats nest with fags and… before he could blurt it out I punched him right in the neck. I was pretty short.

Things were never the same between us. But I was never the same either. Briefly, I experienced a moment of clarity. I felt my values and what I would tolerate or not. I loved my uncle, but I too loved Amos no matter who she was.

my way…

i’d been as dry as the moon my pimply friend from PE class dared me i didn’t last very long maybe four days sobriety week was excruciatingly strange my da went to jail and my mom had to bail him out with the mortgage payment i didn’t witness this first hand my uncle told me when he came looking for me at the Cecil.

Gjeo found me at Spare Cock’s he greeted us with two of his brothers from the motor club my uncle was liberal in his way of thinking by that i mean women didn’t belong in the kitchen all the time they could move about the house preferably topless and in heels

his Portuguese tongue stroked out for a few moments Gjeo i suspected had never encountered a woman like Spare Cock tall, chocolaty, muscular, blond hair and with scrotum duct taped into her inner thigh he stared at Spare Cock and Brother Gertrude while they were snorting lines Gjeo’s eyes shifted from the tomfoolery in the room back to me

until this day i haven’t figured out how he found me i was getting sloppy but maybe i didn’t give a shit i was hallucinating and trembling he called me out to the hallway it was the way he said ‘Grady’ that made me feel like bad news was coming but with the imminent heard of pink elephants with faces like Leonard Nimoy i wasn’t too concerned

in his 60’s biker boy lingo he told me that my pops had gotten picked up and that my mom didn’t want to bail him out blah, blah, blah slow motion in my ears i was getting buried beneath the waters of slow decomposing withdrawal at 16

my eyebrows were raised and my bottom lip curled back into my mouth then i’d look into the walls real far away like we made small talk and then he grabbed my wrist i think i pulled away real hard and said i wasn’t going to my mom’s place he looked at me the hazel pity darts pierced me through he had labeled me as a “poor little thing”

he turned his head to the left a bit and then cracked his neck like a Sicilian Don he pointed at me with his left hand and forced a whisper through his aging teeth he ordered me home by the next morning i asked him why i had to leave i didn’t hear what i wanted to be told instead he said that no blood of his was going to be holed up in a rats nest with fags and… before he could blurt it out i punched him right in the neck i was pretty short

things were never the same between us but i was never the same either briefly I experienced a moment of clarity i felt my values and what i would tolerate or not i loved my uncle but i too loved Amos no matter who she was

Abe Lincoln blues

I loved the balmy Monday mornings, skipping school and eating candy bars for breakfast. I loved sitting on street corners and watch people beg and drink and carry on. Some would scream and yell at invisible entities. I, a mere ignorant child, would laugh at them.

On some Tuesday mornings I might go to some classes, English and Art. Nineteen eighty six was also a year of self decline and so I would become an internal rager. I’d scream in silence and yell very quietly, almost apologetically and like a mouse. I was my own entity.

It was around the cold season in LA when I met Taino at the Cecil. He was a friend of spare cock Amos. I suppose by today’s social and political standards Taino was a transgender person. A male to female.

There were discussions about the Iran-Contra affair at school. But, I was too high to care. The internal me was asleep in a bigotry of soul, intellect and spirit. Something in me was hurting awful bad and illicit street medication provided a wave of relief like nothing else I could have ever imagined.

My city was filled with anger and deep pockets of despair and poverty. My city was also filled with anger and discontent and profound pockets of despair, pain and prosperity. I quickly deduced that money does not necessarily hurt or help, but it never brought happiness. Not the kind you feel when you hug a puppy or your mom sings to you or your Da stays up with you when you had fever. I’ve always remembered the first time I hugged a puppy. Taino and spare cock did the best they could with the other things I sorely wanted.

During the cold season in 1986 I also began to feel something toward God. It was a cartoon I saw in The LA Times. The Challenger blew up in the heavens and it was televised. It appears that the astronauts had touched His face. I was high and sad and uneasy. Internally, I began to cave into myself, to think too much, to question and to doubt myself. I began to imagine that God felt we were becoming too bold.

On a rare occasion, I was pleased to be challenged by my school principal to write a report on Abraham Lincoln. For years I thought he looked really bitching; all Emo before Emo was a thing.

Grady learned different perspectives of global political history that 1986. I understood that in some ways human nature and our own personal choices would always drive the civilization inside of us before any collective could flourish.

That year, I had my fist brush of psychological testing. My principal felt that I was confused for being of the opinion that the Union wasn’t aiming at freeing the slaves first, per se, but rather in uniting the country. My folks never got wind of the situation and if they did, they probably thought I’d grow out of it.


my way …

i loved the balmy Monday mornings skipping school and eating candy bars for breakfast i loved sitting on street corners and watch people beg and drink and carry on some would scream and yell at invisible entities i a mere ignorant child would laugh at them

on some Tuesday mornings i might go to some classes English and art nineteen eighty six was also a year of self decline and so i would become an internal rager i’d scream in silence and yell very quietly almost apologetically and like a mouse i was my own entity

it was around the cold season in LA when i met Taino at the Cecil he was a friend of spare cock Amos i suppose by today’s social and political standards Taino was a transgender person a male to female

there were discussions about the Iran-Contra affair at school but i was too high to care the internal me was asleep in a bigotry of soul intellect and spirit something in me was hurting awful bad and illicit street medication provided a wave of relief like nothing else i could have ever imagined

my city was filled with anger and deep pockets of despair and poverty my city was also filled with anger and discontent and profound pockets of despair pain and prosperity i quickly deduced that money does not necessarily hurt or help but it never brought happiness not the kind you feel when you hug a puppy or your mom sings to you or your Da stays up with you when you had fever i’ve always remembered the first time i hugged a puppy Taino and spare cock did the best they could with the other things i sorely wanted

during the cold season in 1986 i also began to feel something toward God it was a cartoon i saw in the LA Times the Challenger blew up in the heavens and it was televised it appears that the astronauts had touched His face i was high and sad and uneasy i internally i began to cave into myself to think too much to question and to doubt myself i began to imagine that God felt we were becoming too bold

on a rare occasion i was pleased to be challenged by my school principal to write a report on Abraham Lincoln for years i thought he looked really bitching all Emo before Emo was a thing

grady learned different perspectives of global political history that 1986 i understood that in some ways human nature and our own personal choices would always drive the civilization inside of us before any collective could flourish

that year i had my fist brush of psychological testing my principal felt that i was confused for being of the opinion that the Union wasn’t aiming at freeing the slaves first per se but rather in uniting the country my folks never got wind of the situation and if they did they probably thought i’d grow out of it

inventory

It took about three hours to get back to Los Angeles Street from Mission Avenue with its grandiose blocks of junked cars and guys who waved flags like bull fighters guiding you into their shop driveways to get your muffler repaired for $75. I thought about Hemingway’s story. Looking down at the dirty greased earth wondering why I wasn’t dead that afternoon trying to find the lesson or the meaning of that particular event in my life. I became aware that at some point in my journey I would have to take control. My higher mind would have to take control of myself come hell or high water, against all gods, all demons, against all angels, against all saints, against myself, against the world.

My body hurt and the concrete was harder than I had remembered. My feet were pulsating with exhaustion. The worn sole of my right Chinese girl shoe mouthed slowly at every step as it “peeoed-peeoed” at me like baby birds demanding food. My left shoe was now a casualty strewn under a fire escape at Werdin Place. I imagined my shoe embalmed with bum urine and cigarette ash. My shoe had served me well. I just needed to get to the Cecil.

I never felt pity for myself until that moment. My one black sock was still on my left foot and I stank like cigarette and latex. My navy blue hoodie was torn at the nape where the hood connects to the body from where I was pulled. It had scabby matted clots of blood and snot on the arm cuffs. I could smell the blood iron sickly sweet rubbery odor ground into the fabric mesh of my clothes. Memories of how well-groomed and perfect my mother and sister always were wafted over my mind. Impeccable make up, pressed clothes, matching jewelry and exquisite scents. Jasmines, roses, spices, musks; all offerings to the heavens and here I was dirty deep into the marrow. Blood, spit and skin ground into the tar. My body and feeble sanity violated.

I consoled myself by tearing the bandages off my throat and my left ring finger. The bandages caused me to admit defeat or worst yet, victimhood. I felt guilty thinking about my mom and her baubles. Those were her drugs and her costumes hiding scars my dad gave her both inside and out. I sat on the curve of Sunset and Spring St. amongst the scent of Peking duck and taquitos. I cried for my mother. I hated myself for crying just because I needed her. I didn’t deserve anything, so I just allowed myself to feel her pain like I did when I was a kid. I needed to punish my stupidity and my addictions. I didn’t like silks or jewelry anyway. I was too ugly. My mom never liked my nose, eyes or my boyish body. I was too short for her taste. I guess my father’s Portuguese genes were stronger than my mother’s German ones.

Dedicated to my friend Nick Reeves.

different circles

in my mind i had run away again it was just a fantasy a longing to be missed the truth was i was often absent from home and so was everyone else who lived there a modern family i thought about visiting Mr. Petrucchio but it was early evening he was probably asleep in his green upholstered chair with his brown Ferragamos still on and Perry Como on the hi fi killing me softly was his favorite

a weathered bench behind the Cecil was waiting for me old gray plastic too hot to sit on in the summer and always damp in the winter very decisive for a gray bench

i went to biology class today the teacher spoke about how eggs become fertilized funny because in English class we talked about how eggs are a symbol for rebirth life all around i took out a clove and lit up watched the smoke defy gravity up past my nose my eyes head and eventually gone to be part of the universal ozone

my mind went slightly blank and into daydream mode thinking about the electricity of boy chicken sperm fertilizing the girl chicken egg i chewed some of the black polish off my left thumb and came to the realization that i had been an egg too life was so intricate and fragile but forging forward man and beast go forth and multiply

out of my dream i snapped there was a four lane street between my bench and the old warehouse across the street with the permanently shut back door that transients used as a Murphy bed or toilet depending on the weather

at first there was a loud white woman skinny like a sausage casing she was yelling and flinging her arms wildly then two or three black folks gathered along side and spoke loud enough in religious tones he dead he dead Lawd take ‘im ta heaven po’ sona bitch

my watch said 5:57 p.m. another homeless person had passed in a door way i wasn’t sure what to feel i was no stranger to corpses my grandmother chose to pass at her home when i was a little kid and we didn’t have to wear seat belts driving through the north 110 speedway i witnessed a man dying like a fish out of water he was riding his motorcycle before that but had been hit and just left there i didn’t do it then because i didn’t know i was just a kid but every now and again i say a prayer for his soul

a small crowd gathered at my bench as they watched the coroner’s van pull in to the site one of the coroner’s people looked across the street at us and began making his way toward my crowd while the dead man’s crowd shook their heads smoked laughed yelled covered their mouths with their hand and then slowly left as the PD hung their yellow tape the sign of seriousness and solemnity

to Clyde with love

the vinyl floors were what i really loved about King Eddy’s bar i just never ate the nachos or any of the bar food cooked in the back i just drank their booze the storm clouds had passed i was on long weekend from school by choice of course not because it was any particular holiday secretly i was hoping to see Clyde he was an older gentleman with property out in the desert valley not rich a Salton Sea Hawaiian shirt straw fedora wearing kinda guy he was smitten with me but for a long time he thought i was a very effeminate boy we couldn’t tell each other’s intentions my heart grew fond of him over the months in a time span of almost three years i knew he had been a hustler back in the 50’s and 60’s he knew the entire history of Pershing Square the seedy stuff of course not the pretty ribbon cutting ceremonies and the ice rinks at Christmas i came out i suppose by accident i was cramping pretty badly one Tuesday night and the girl bartender wasn’t working that night but Clyde was there many times before i had seen him hand out aspirins to friends so i thought he might have something with knitted brows he whispered jaggedly you’re a girl and i said yeah i’m not very femme but i didn’t think i looked that butch either ok goldilocks he laughed i was gonna ask you out on a date you see i prefer the company of gentlemen in my private life too not just in my industry wink wink i was confused but flattered thus began a deeper relationship my excesses slowed down i put on weight and i went to school more i read all of my books wrote all the papers took all of the exams and actually enjoyed it because of Clyde’s interest in my education there was a time buttercup he’d call me that when i thought i wanted to go to law school but i got lazy and time just passed me by you’re young kid i’ve been eyeballing you i know what you do why do you go to the Cecil he asked knowing dam well why i went i wasn’t angry at him but rather surprised and then creped out dude are you following me no he said but don’t forget i know lots of people around town buttercup don’t throw your life away is all i’m saying the feeling of genuine care felt like a boulder it was too overwhelming so i split

ain’t Nutbush City

1989 was a period in life when all back doors of an imminent hell opened to me my loved ones were self-deceived and in their view doing well so i let them linger in their truthful lies

the Cecil was really falling apart at that point a metaphor for the characters in my life i being a bit player young addictions mushrooming everywhere with most here and there would be one character more sophisticated than the other that player was Amos

the other being my mother she fancied herself a feminist with her valley feminist friends me i wasn’t sure what i fancied but  started to steal more of my folks booze and pills it felt good to be honest about my thieving it took the edge off the lies that we told about how bad ass we were in controlling our demons

Amos’s demons would wear pink hustle old has been business men for a suck that never seemed to happen they were rolled here and there after falling asleep taking their pants off on the faux zebra stripped bed

my folks never knew about my life in the city i was just a latch key mess 4.0 gpa high school back door graduate i went to college i don’t know why or even how or how i got a 4.0 shit just happened growing up i had to think faster than your common drunk or cokehead or devious spoiled beautiful caged in their superiority women who struck me as being in horrible painful relationships what was heart breaking was that in their fantasy of being happy and better than thou they were murdering their true potential with worthless crap

Amos wanted to be so much like those women but she just couldn’t go through the medical change or even tell her mother back in Haiti whom she adored i was ignorant as hell when it came to identity i just loved Amos and wanted her to be happy i saw a lot sex violence addiction pain tears orgies more violence but in a way i’m grateful to Amos she did the best she could to raise me if i happened to go by the Cecil drunk or high and she was home i’d had to stay there and get lectured until i passed out

for Amos life had to go on and the hustle continued i’d pretend to sleep or if a fight broke out i sneaked into the bathroom or the murphy bed on the wall no biggie i was a pro at hiding and by that time swinging the punches too on account of my folks and their way of life in a very twisted way sword life might not always kill you

in retrospect i somewhat owe my life to Amos she taught me many things such as using protection don’t go home with anyone don’t walk the street alone “be good kid for Chris’ sake” don’t ever leave your drink alone stuff like that