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

Becca’s ballad

yeah i’m still at the Gold Digger bar

past 4 am i party hard

slammin’ vodka laughin’ loud

jeans dirty scratched up arms

cigarettes all crushed and ground to the ground

i wear sweat socks with my heals

my man left me for a smack smoking whore

i’m pissed as hell and i don’t know my name

the welfare office cut off my game

during the day i beg for change

and once a month i take three trains

only to have my kids’ foster mom

cancel again

my daddy whupped me and put me on the streets

my momma left him but didn’t take me in

and the clean women from the west side

got a cold fire in their heart

at least my babies are fed

and i’m not crawlin’ on my knees

i guess i lost the social worker bet

the cops they picked me up on Tuesday

they said i was running in the street naked

i ran out of my calming pills

and my doctor said no more refills

it’s ok i understand my face’s a little dirty

my skin is really tan

the boils on my face

kinda’ turn you off

but it’s fine by me

my God above keeps watch

your stinging words against me

are flowers in my crown

i know my kids will grow up strong

and i did the best i could

the court judge calls me unresponsive

a cruel and evil ma’

he don’t know what happened

in Kentucky when i was a baby child

but it’s ok at least I have some common sense

i’d rather let my babies live

than drag them down with me

i never done nothin’ right in life

but i give thanks for my strength

and take pride in the pain

soul

inside between the breastplate and the heart there’s a tiny little nook with an itsy blue butterfly her name is soul and she came to be in the mountains of Kashmir when the atoms were still babes blue prints in the grand masters eyes soul lodges there time immemorial and waits measures holds back explodes forward what the mind judges to do at times mostly in the dead of night soul flutters a little spirit revs up becoming restless and soul makes it right she spreads  here sky blue wings to dry the tears welling in my eyes blue soul corner stone of secrets and filter of the lies the weary life the prices paid to walk in fields of grandeur right before crystalline morning comes mind rages war on blue life soul her wings crushed under a stream of poison

pour toi, Charlie

the cattails sway slow

resin sun settles down deep

she has blazed all day

moon in silver comes

knocking at my back window

dig his Elvis suit

then E Piaf croons

tears brim in my tired eyes

never did i miss

you so much as i

do now even with all of

our misunderstood

way of saying words

to drive each other away

fearing that our hearts

would be ripped apart

by anemic attempts to

share a normal life

you the older one

did not necessarily

know best i was young

i did not know that

fucking my way through real love

in time would never

heal our broken parts

still not all was a failure

truth and wine reveal

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

simple misunderstandings

we

met

by the

fruit table oranges

you said were your favorite

fruit i smitten with the fairy tale ideology

of white pickets two point fives and a dog maybe even the PTA

you upstanding patriarch of the family business man in town i would be your one and only not your rodeo clown

psyche flags were risen and when discussed with the appropriate matriarchal councils all my flags burned down with the kerosene of suck it up or else you are not a woman worth your salt

fuck this i thought in the middle of a fight i would not be how i was expected to lay down

so rogue i went from that world of delusional pleasure tumbling weed freed

but alone in dissension doubt demons taunt relentless

so give me another bottle

to numb the

imposed shame

of

failure

shameful irony

after a long afternoon nap on USC’s lawn i lift my arms toward the heaven in crucified form there’s hair in the grass and my skateboard is gone i sit there still wondering what happened to me was i just walking and then crashed to sleep or was i doing something i’d later regret people my age future doctors lawyers business men grounds keepers maintenance crews walked slowly on by talking about this or that getting up i fell down twice no one looked a second time maybe it was the grass stains on my shirt makeup runny laces untied LA Kings jersey hair in a nest from my left eye i catch the PD stares i smile a dainty coy like smile and they ride their bikes toward the black guy who’s finely dressed reading the medical text book

some time back on Franklin ave.

i love it when youre mad at me

and i try to lick your salty nipple

as you mutter in uncertainty

in between gulps of rye

i love it when we play house

you smack my ass

unzip your pants

and demand me to please

i love it when you ask of me

about politics and i say

i dont know i cant relate

but ive got to go and serve

the broken today

i love it when you yell at me

i shoot to the moon smiling

nodding on the fourth

like when Idris met Azrael

it breaks my heart

to come home

while youre lying on the floor

Gulliver tied down by

tiny airport bottles

i hate it when

i make you cry

after my lips no longer blue

call out your name

right before vomiting

my weakness you on your back

cock hard me on top

losing myself without regard

but right before

i come bouncing back to you

turning my tide

your palms on my thighs

laughing as we die

cover my eyes on your way out

it hurts me when i know

that i will be leaving

in a few hours to get away

from you

ill really miss

that ethereal tiny kiss

gifted from you to me

upon my forehead

when you asked to marry me

there really is no comfort

knowing that i love you

two grotesquely beautiful

liars contending

upon the mirrors of our eyes

Faye

the skill is to find life in the routine she said i’ve stood at this counter for 30 years pumping the same bottles into the air and nobody cares she said

do you want some advice i could tell you that you’ll age if you don’t cover up your face in these narcotics made in Spain but it’s your body love it any way you want

ya’ see this scar above my perfectly lined brow fell off a tree in 1963 you have a lot of scars all over are you ok or are you one of those foster girls from down the block

i’m sorry listen that was harsh there’s this cream for $49.95 that can help heal those dark circles under your eyes it helped before my divorce hearing when Harry hit me

the freckles on your face and the bleaching out of your hair you really should try this salve from France you’re far too young to have this damage men like long soft chestnut hair like yours

oh my i didn’t see those tattoos i have a concealer for that but you should really get it removed and it’s a shame with your good bones naturally formed you’d be a good model but you’re too short

can you smile yes that’s it i think you could be on the cover of this magazine but you really have to clean up child you look like a dog town mop head skater boy

those nails you’ve chewed them to your shoulders look i have to take a break my boss might give me a raise but i feel that he just might leave his wife for me tomorrow

Grady, don’t tell your mom she’s my best friend and i think she would worry here’s her order and some make up for you we all have the demons jumping out of us and soon the scars of sin we carry in will come up to the surface

20190803_121443
Artwork by Kira

Figaro’s

he asked why do you keep her picture there in the drawer swallowing hard i realize that you were my mother more physically beautiful than any woman i’d ever seen no makeup no artificialness in any way i lied and i said oh i don’t know looking out the window at the bus stop i opened the drawer a few more times and there you remained stoic and frozen in your place as he gnawed at the steamy pepperoni pizza hot pocket and scratched his sack he yelled why don’t you put it in a frame and fear broke out in a sweat a slight vertigo took me and i rubbed my head looking for a hit he yelled again and saw what i was jonesing for he says nope not today lets go to the art store instead we dressed in American drag t-shirted leathered and jeaned he held my hand and missed my forehead kissing my aviators instead are you mad he asked i says no and think quickly about the flamingos at the zoo and the empty dark brown bottles of Kilkenny i left in the bus stop trash can two hours ago my feet feeling disconnected from my soul i says no i won’t go and he turns around to see me i can’t keep her in a frame it would be the ultimate betrayal she was Opa’s favorite until she met my Da and ran away with him imprisoned by her vanity and steadfast love for a man of misery determined to be his only queen on the backs of everybody she had to win but death did not agree what are you spewing about never mind i said i can’t keep her in a frame all her life she was held back by her thoughts expectations disappointments and aggressions even her people wandered the deserts and were rounded up in box cars as the evil ripped out their spirit and put them in cages i forgot he said but she’d like a frame she was always a refined lady as he smiled apologetically and the homeless guy with a grateful dead t-shirt on was handed a bologna sandwich by the salvation army guy as we detoured into Figaro’s Bistrot instead