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

gaza

with a fissured heart

and tired hands

aching legs and broken words

i grasp loosely to

figure

out

what is happening to us

i created the west of my spirit

and was gifted the east of my soul

not a child of import

but yes a child of a pompous war

not of one tribal affiliation

but stuck in the carnal politics

of the complications in people

if you could touch me now

my coat of lesser colors

you could set me free

You and i crossing water

to mourn my tiny innocence

she hangs in the corner closet

pretty robin’s egg blue coat

with every year

that has crawled by

she fades away from me

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

Capgras delusion

she brushed her hair slowly asking questions to the air i sat and i doodled in my math book algebra was not my friend although in high school calculus was a little kinder honestly being a student of the formal subject and theory concept philosophy and algorithm was never my cup of anything i preferred to daydream observe and think later on i was given diagnostic labels for all three on account that some people couldn’t understand  how to appreciate those foibles of me and thus my mind was pathologized to fit into a neat little category i didn’t mind i was a kid but in some strange way much deeper and wiser than they would ever be not intellectual perhaps more intuitive a reader of in between the lines of the lines

Abbey was decent looking very natural and i liked that at home my mother and her friends laid on the war paint rather thickly and it was hard to tell if they were human in retrospect now i understand that all of the women i knew as a kid had pain to hide their veils make up booze pills loveless sex marriage unwanted kids back stabbing hate rage sarcasm some had money and when the rare expression of love was directed at them all hell broke loose love hurt too too much

besides a killer record collection Abbey had bottles of beauty products for Mexico Spain and France i personally never tried anything on except for some nail polish in pearlescent pink that i didn’t really like Abbey tried to teach me how to put make-up on but it really didn’t interest me there was something in my soul that frowned upon that sort of thing a kind of defense mechanism and i found the make-up styles of her younger years a bit on the grotesque side but what did i know i was a rag tag tomboy

on a dark gray November morning i decided to cut the rest of the day and i headed to the Cecil i knew someone would be there i almost floated up to the sixth floor where Abbey lived knocked on 607 and nothing i almost left to go rap on another door further down that hall when i heard the knob turn and the chain lock release Abbey had an ink blue and red left eye ball shut by the swelling of traumatized flesh

she told me to come in and as i walked through the door she told me about how she had gotten mugged last night and her purse stolen i knew from memory Abbey only had one purse tan kid skin leather silver zipper and fringe which was sitting on the floor of her opened closet door looking at her as every second ticked by i could feel a tightness in my chest my teeth began to clench and i punched a softball sized hole on the drywall i had seen the same on my mother

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

restraining order blues

vicious gunfire you look older she said

i thought i’d never see you again

you look beautiful he said

coughing looking leftward

i’ve been here and there she said

roaming the streets counting the birds

magnolia trees sure bloom a lot he said

yeah their scent intoxicates me she said

can i get a cuddle he said

she smiles and looks westward

sliding hair behind her ears

your gray streak is bomb ass she said

my ex-wife likes it he said

i gotta go i’m late for church she said

balls! gimme something better than that he said

they both laughed out loud

biting her lips heart in her head

i wish i could kiss you she said

that was the past

the clove under her worn white converse

stuck to the sole and toes still wiggling

as the clouds formed from the south

he folds in his lips and gives her a smile

i wanted to be your husband he said

she lights up another

you were always so wild he said

i don’t like cages or negotiations she said

life is not like that he said

let me give you my number

she feels the droplets on her lashes first

honey don’t waste it she said

your time on me

i’m older and wiser

some truths i can see

i had to walk away for the sake of us both

looking at the lake he nods in agreement

have a nice life he gnarls as he scampers away

she holds her head higher after today

private runt

another flame in the distance of a repetitious page

alarms my blood into a flow of fast thinking

she comes in the storm of her own pain

a slow thick fear the only match i have to counter

i now know not to longer linger by the crusted ashtrays

or lean on their solid walls of past injurious indiscretions

but rather crawl out of the darkness of the closet

a charming foxhole a Neverland of sorts with Barbies GI Joes

water colors and a one eyed teddy bear called Mike

after the storm lulls herself to sleep

and the lightening goes to some other town

to launch his cowardly thunder

we are all less than triumphant in dignity and resolution

and when all is calm the mirror under the storm

confirms that there is life yet

another successful recon mission

a blue awareness baptizes me

today i survived again

and am still breathing for a home

it’s just a phase

the drops fall warm

like a resentful first kiss

placed crookedly on my lips

two broken children

dressed in archaic cloaks of sinful fathers

embalmed in summer rain

clasping hands in the park

you pointed at fancy bricks laid by FL Wright

your hero

we heard laughter from in the trees

we filled our heads with fantasy

of being greater than dirty jeans

booze coke

and motorcycles

what fools we were

but happy in our foolery

we’d stomp round town

wild haired green eyed queen

to her mohawked crowned king

while in the dampness of the night

we went our separate ways

on the dimly lit corner by House of Pies

to harvest broken proper mothers

up from their latest shag designer carpets

flown in from Rome

and as we punched our way through

explosive broken fathers

on Monday morning

we’d all pretend that our lives were wonderful

ornithology

timid

green

eyed child

limp wheat hair

falls wet in the cold

rain tucked safe outside while the fire of

hate rages inside the walls of your land tenderly wilting all hopes away

a woman red hair blue suit white badge warped picture no passion picks you up silently both walk down the pebbled

path by the time Wilshire Blvd. is reached the bird nest is out of sight and you mature again manila files County words where are the crayons and Raggedy Anns pink Buster Browns forgotten

the clouds bright against tan butcher paper sad faces for the judge of the cages in my heart smile we must

fire suffocated unhappiness averted for a night or two little bird strains away

to reach those pink pebbles and pumpernickel bread

Canter’s chicken soup mummy’s black

eye gone for

now both

conditionally

freed

photo courtesy of Kristiana