advice i’d give me if i was my mother

go ahead eat the three cup cakes

jay walk across the mischievous waters

buy Big Mac’s for the street kids

ask the hookers for beauty tips

church hop if the Spirit insists

wrap your thighs around whichever boy you wish

on your terms and not his

go against the family tradition

ride the Ducati instead of the Harley

crank up Led’s Black Dog as you’re lighting a fatty

stay home and read books and howl at the moon

at 3:30 past doom if that’s what makes you happy

talk about the Bard by the water cooler

turn the page when you’ve mastered your spirit

nurture your brain and balance that heart

if you punch punch with your left

but remember they got to swing at you first

if you look wicked good don’t hide it

and every compliment offered to the sisterhood

should come from the heart

don’t disrespect tit for tat the brotherhood

flash them your smile as you’re crushing that Zen

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

for a wild Irish boy

tempest in your name

wild love ripples through my soul

tease me rowdy wind

nolo contendere

some Sunday mornings early at the park the ducks would waddle toward him with shaky hung over arms he’d lift me above the quacking wonders the giggles floating up like bubbles some summer times long ago i’d get to stay at his home motorcycle parts in the bathroom and nightly a different ‘aunt’ to make me food some days after his brothers would roar out of his garage in the afternoon i’d make a dollar for every bottle i scavenged from his oily shop floor and i finally had enough to buy chutes and ladders there were certain times i didn’t trust him his glances were an empty page don’t act like your mother he’d say when i offered to do a chore just to strike up a conversation like Sammy and Ginger my neighbors next door did with their Da when it was their turn to water the lawn i guess he thought i wanted another board game as i grew older and farther away i saw no use of trying my hand at rewinding time with the old man being a Da wasn’t his suit and being parented is something i’ve always sucked at

evermore

on the last day of Hanukkah 2001 i was hung over from too many filterless Camels and clove cigarettes the night before i couldn’t sleep and i chain smoked i made my way to the cold bland bathroom to wash up the radio was on and i danced as i walked i moved like any skinny slinky Brit androgynous heart throb it boy from the 70’s i thought and felt kinda embarrassed after my ritual i went downstairs to chew the fat with Jonathon O’Mara from the coffee shop in the Tenderloin he wasn’t home so i went for a walk the sun was hot for a San Fran morning back then i was able to ride the bus for a quarter the drivers would mistake me for a high schooler it was easy i always wore boys clothes and black chucks my gay boyfriends always gushed over me as they tried to capture my femininity i loved having gay boyfriends we’d all have fun dance etc and i didn’t have to put out and if they needed an emergency fiancé to introduce to their waspy east coast family members they’d send out the beard signal and i was there we were all excellent fucking actors but behind the good times and the jokes we all lived our lives as prisoners in very painful cells some of the folks in our circle were even handed death sentences through illness or addiction as far as i went i had to fess up to my boys that men’s clothing might keep the rapists away and that when someone had the balls to tell me i was beautiful it would hurt very badly along with a litany of other issues most of my boys would gasp and then weep because they too had been deeply hurt continually for long periods of their life but we were a rowdy bunch we had survived our way and through those unfortunate passages we realized we were all connected and that race gender orientation and any other label didn’t really define us we were very strong and wise human beings with the capacity to love hard and relentlessly  as for Jonathon and i woe upon anyone who’d mess with his sweet pea for a portion of my life i was blessed enough to know such a human capacity existed and i can move forward with this evermore

peregrine

desert you look very pretty in your tender green veil

it’s been a while since i was here visiting you

inner struggle and rebirth brought me to your boulder bosom

i see my brothers the Joshua Trees have gotten taller

therefore waving more lost children toward your safety dear friend

oh and the hares and wood peckers they still look

me over with caution and pity they sense my spirit

is still shackled in some ways but they are right

i’m just a human mother Joshua but how are you

i’ve brought you great news there will be rain later

this evening that rock you say yes that will be

good shelter the tiny lizard queen is a great hostess

the breath of your slate tinged skies is beginning to

smell like wet earth just like my grandmother’s hair when

as a babe i’d grab fistfuls and put it in

my mouth yet i don’t know how i can remember

her we were both too young when she had to

go up to the silver stars above my head oh

mother Joshua did you tell Oma to come and visit

there you see she’s the one next to Venus smiling

at me hey little ants get off my cake here

i’ll place it by your hill take it to your

queen my regards to her and now my eyes focus

to see the splendor of the ocotillo fire red blossoms

held up to the peacock sky and i breathe deeply

abreagieren

my mother and my father would fight about the air around them or about Jimmy Carter and about their marital problems tired old words leadless bullets that i took for them a meek child called to be King Solomon at 4 the trees and blocks and baby dolls were not enough to free me from the painful heavy feeling in my post toddler soul an orphan in the house of everything meaningless clean sanitary and paid for but not love i had 30 pieces of silver 7 times more and i kissed no one and no one kissed me when i bruised my knees or when the Armenian kids beat me up after school or when i cut the rope and wandered off into the womb of my city the yellow brick road didn’t exist but there were miles and miles of pavement where gentle hands and toothless grins had my best interest at times and at times i grew up the hard way but between stolen 4th of July Fireworks shows OD visits to the ER home cooked waffles at Astrid’s house boys with rainbows in their eyes and a few good angels i learned how to love

auxiliary guardian angels

Willie and Big Daddy sat in front of the Seven Eleven from noon till about 4 in the morning except on Sundays when they went to church at the MM Willie had a four dollar a day sun flower seed habit with his Colt 45 Big Daddy liked to comment on women’s asses and cat call on the flaming tight boys who dressed like Duran Duran Willie had gone to Howard in the 70’s and when he wasn’t in psychosis we’d talk about Nijinsky Big Daddy would tell me about the bed bugs at his SRO on 7th and how the Good Lord had saved his life and when the drug dealers and pimps would try to entice me into their cars they would both roll their wheel chairs in front of me and dared them to fight and as time went by and i grew older Willie and Big Daddy faded into the brick walls with graffiti and no posted bills the three of us together were never like anyone thought we should be we just were and they both gifted me with alternate ways of understanding the world and breaking the chains

Carol

Carol was trying to find a few cigarette butts to gut out to make a whole cigarette although she wasn’t a smoker she’d sell them to her neighbors in the tent next door for fifty cents with her thin arms and micro wrists she’d toil for a couple of weeks to raise enough money to go to the flower store on Los Angeles street and buy her parole officer a single rose or sometimes two or three red carnations i had met Carol while i was in high school at that time she was in her thirties she befriended me at People’s Store asking me about my perfume on account that she liked it i was a young punk and i told her that i wasn’t wearing any and walked off Carol stood there looking confused but the guilt gnawed at my chest and i could feel my ears turning hot and red i told my friend to go home and i walked backward a few steps toward Carol as i turned to her i mumbled at  her that i was sorry for blowing her off and offered her my snickers bar she lit up and said thanks kid but i’d rather have some of that beer you have in your back pack i froze and denied having anything in my bag although i knew damned well i had a bottle of Daniels i didn’t like beer we both smiled knowing each other’s truth in bullshit every now and again i’d go looking for her with water bottles canned food and the occasional AJ note if i could spare it we talked about DTLA and Skidrow Carol laughed and i watched her and then she started to tell me about her family out in Virginia Carol had been a victim of many unspeakable things my relationship with Carol lasted for about three years or so her sanity was remarkable but as time went on  it became unbearable to watch her sleep during the day in the summer LA heat her legs were encrusted with months of dirt and when i stared long enough at the splotches they were almost artistic or hieroglyphic in a way i stopped visiting for a few months to reckon with my own demons when i returned it was during spring time and Carol did not recognize me i found her on the corner of 6th and Wall squatted down bare footed picking peas out of a tin can with half a label that read Springfield by her feet was an old pill bottle that read Retrovir a few cigarette butts and a mangled how to live with HIV pamphlet

Aidan Hallston

Aidan Hallston was a quiet man i noticed him he stood out from the rowdy boisterous crowd my father kept in his garage on Saturday nights the wind and birds at time would say that Aidan had lost his family to the bottle without a ship i spoke to him from a distance and with time that distance began to heal Aidan’s dialect was through ratchets and wrenches and i was an eager student the days went by and i grew bored but Aidan Hallston stayed among the foreignary of LA so far from his own home now that i’m old at night i think what could have happened to him and i smile at his gesture of love when i tried to smoke his Lucky Strikes and he said “they’re no good fer ya’ lass”