Yucatan

Picture courtesy of Sue Vincent

The evening was cool and the calm was fuzzy and delightful. Abbey walked through the narrow door of 4302 and laid down a paper bag full of spices and stuff. She loved going to Grand Central market to gossip and catch up on the news of her world. Abbey asked if I was going home tonight because her boyfriend was coming over and she didn’t want him to pick a fist fight with me again.

I promised her that I would go to my friend’s house on the west side later tonight and asked her if she noticed anything different about her room. The Pine Sol fumes suckled her dainty caramel nose and licked in and out of her nostrils.

Thank you for cleaning mi reina, the smell takes me back to the valleys and rivers of my town in the Yucatan. Abbey had come to the US in the early 60’s on a travel visa and stayed. She started taking the dried Chiles, peppercorns, cumin and pumpkin seeds and chocolate bars out of the paper sack. Being a little high, watching her pluck each item out of the sack was like watching a jeweler study his precious stones.

Sitting back on the only chair in the room, I asked Abbey about her town in Mexico. She pursed her lips inward and let out an exhausted sigh. Staring at the dim lit ceiling she noticed the freeway knot of spider webs forming on the northern corner.

Abbey looked past the top of my head and stared of the Virgen of Guadalupe poster on the waxy wall. In a little girl voice she described the valleys as having shaded trees and cool patches of grass. The streams, as she remembered were cold enough to soak their beers and sodas when the families of the village would go pick-nicking on Sundays.

Abbey appeared lost and happy reminiscing about her country. Did you know that in the spring time we’d light big fires and because the temperature in the valley was still cold in March, the smoke looked like cloudy fumes against the pitch black sky. And the stars, Ave Maria purisima, the stars were so bright and when you saw them through the smoke fumes of the fires the whole thing looked like a fancy lace veil twinkling with diamonds.

In a melancholy tone I absent mindedly asked Abbey if she missed those nights with the firewood fumes and the stars and cool streams. She smiled wide enough that I could see her gold tooth as she looked down at her old beige pumps and she shook her head telling me no.

The door shook from four heavy thumps. Her boyfriend was in the hallway asking why the hell she wasn’t answering. Abbey cursed under her breath and ordered me to stay quiet and to leave as soon as she let him in. I tried asking her if she was going to be o.k. or did I need to alert Spare Cock.

my way…

the evening was cool and the calm was fuzzy and delightful Abbey walked through the narrow door of 4302 and laid down a paper bag full of spices and stuff she loved going to Grand Central market to gossip and catch up on the news of her world Abbey asked if i was going home tonight because her boyfriend was coming over and she didn’t want him to pick a fist fight with me again

i promised her that i would go to my friend’s house on the west side later tonight and asked her if she noticed anything different about her room the Pine Sol fumes suckled her dainty caramel nose and licked in and out of her nostrils

thank you for cleaning mi reina the smell takes me back to the valleys and rivers of my town in the Yucatan Abbey had come to the US in the early 60’s on a travel visa and stayed she started taking the dried chiles peppercorns cumin and pumpkin seeds and chocolate bars out of the paper sack being a little high watching her pluck each item out of the sack was like watching a jeweler study his precious stones

sitting back on the only chair in the room i asked Abbey about her town in Mexico she pursed her lips inward and let out an exhausted sigh staring at the dim lit ceiling she noticed the freeway knot of spider webs forming on the northern corner

Abbey looked past the top of my head and stared of the Virgen of Guadalupe poster on the waxy wall in a little girl voice she described the valleys as having shaded trees and cool patches of grass the streams as she remembered were cold enough to soak their beers and sodas when the families of the village would go pick-nicking on Sundays

Abbey appeared lost and happy reminiscing about her country did you know that in the spring time we’d light big fires and because the temperature in the valley was still cold in March the smoke looked like cloudy fumes against the pitch black sky and the stars Ave Maria purisima the stars were so bright and when you saw them through the smoke fumes of the fires the whole thing looked like a fancy lace veil twinkling with diamonds

in a melancholy tone i absent mindedly asked Abbey if she missed those nights with the firewood fumes and the stars and cool streams she smiled wide enough that i could see her gold tooth as she looked down at her old beige pumps and she shook her head telling me no

the door shook from four heavy thumps her boyfriend was in the hallway asking why the hell she wasn’t answering Abbey cursed under her breath and ordered me to stay quiet and to leave as soon as she let him in i tried asking her if she was going to be ok or did i need to alert Spare Cock

fancy James Brown footwork

Last night was rough at the Cecil. I invited friends from school to party at Turkish Turi’s, but they couldn’t hang. It wasn’t cool enough. Turi was salt of the earth kinda’ people. Rough and say it like it is, but protective of the people around him.

My mother agreed to meet me on Los Angeles Street and 7th on account she wanted to buy some rugs for her house. She was in a good mood and I wanted to bond with her. It had been a few days since I was at her home. I was late to our 12:30 p.m. meeting place.

As I made my way to greet her, my head looked down, avoiding eye contact just in case she was pissed. Mother was German, punctuality was no joke. She had on a beige PONY track suit, very soft and fancy; lady like and proper. Her hair pixied and dark red like cherry wood. Her neck graceful and pale was  adorned by a very thin gold chain and a blue diamond pendant Star of David.

Sitting in front of the Cecil daydreaming and sobering up; anticipating meeting with my mom, I remembered a time when I was around four. She was dressed like an angel, a Charlie’s Angel, bell bottoms, pink lips, rippling feathered hair and white boots. It was the mid 70’s, but my mom loved British rock and with a little Daniel’s in her she started grooving to T.Rex.

Lucy was happy that day, like genuinely happy, laughing and dancing and talking her German tongue to her lady friends and kinfolk. We kids never learned. Then, as I was looking for my can of apple juice, she invites me to dance. “Bang a gong, get it on, bang a gong.”

As the buses swooshed by and the vagrants were getting ticketed in vain on Main, I smiled wide. I was lapping up the memory in my head; a short chubby four year old with red patent leather Mary Janes contorting like Joe Cocker. I bent back, down and sideways, but the coup de gras was the fancy James Brown footwork I threw out there for my mom to see. I’d watch him on Soul Train when my baby sitter would come on Saturday nights.

The world felt better at 1:13 p.m. I was late, but my heart was in the right place. Lucy’s was too. The edge of skid row was my home away from home. It felt like my mother’s arms or at least what I thought her arms might have felt like. It was very unnatural to see Lucy there, so beautiful, but so sick at heart. I was more of a body guard than a daughter. She stayed in a home paid for by a man who was just like the other men who had sent many of the women I knew to exile at the Nickel. Lucy was not only a victim of my father, but her of ego as well.

my way…

last night was rough at the Cecil i invited friends from school to party at Turkish Turi’s but they couldn’t hang it wasn’t cool enough Turi was salt of the earth kinda’ people rough and say it like it is but protective of the people around him

my mother agreed to meet me on Los Angeles Street and 7th on account she wanted to buy some rugs for her house she was in a good mood and i wanted to bond with her it had been a few days since i was at her home i was late to our 12:30 pm meeting place

as i made my way to greet her my head looked down avoiding eye contact just in case she was pissed mother was German punctuality was no joke she had on a beige PONY track suit very soft and fancy lady like and proper her hair pixied and dark red like cherry wood her neck graceful and pale was  adorned by a very thin gold chain and a blue diamond pendant Star of David

sitting in front of the Cecil daydreaming and sobering up anticipating meeting with my mom i remembered a time when i was around four she was dressed like an angel a Charlie’s Angel bell bottoms pink lips rippling feathered hair and white boots it was the mid 70’s but my mom loved British rock and with a little Daniel’s in her she started grooving to T.Rex

Lucy was happy that day like genuinely happy laughing and dancing and talking her German tongue to her lady friends and kinfolk we kids never learned then as i was looking for my can of apple juice she invites me to dance “Bang a gong, get it on, bang a gong”

as the buses swooshed by and the vagrants were getting ticketed in vain on Main i smiled wide i was lapping up the memory in my head a short chubby four year old with red patent leather Mary Janes contorting like Joe Cocker i bent back down and sideways but the coup de gras was the fancy James Brown footwork i threw out there for my mom to see i’d watch him on Soul Train when my baby sitter would come on Saturday nights

the world felt better at 1:13 pm i was late but my heart was in the right place Lucy’s was too the edge of skid row was my home away from home it felt like my mother’s arms or at least what i thought her arms might have felt like it was very unnatural to see Lucy there so beautiful but so sick at heart i was more of a body guard than a daughter she stayed in a home paid for by a man who was just like the other men who had sent many of the women i knew to exile at the Nickel Lucy was not only a victim of my father but her of ego as well

let me count the ways

pic by mbrazfield (c) 2019

life you have this annoying way of walking by as i’m trying to see a point of view prescribed by a cold and sterile man

take today for instance i’m just whistling by on my way to the corners pungent with wet filth and frothy with human madness

every prophet will eventually go back to her house yet i am neither saint nor prophet but just a sinner looking for faith

here in front of me stands the place where we yes you my soul conscience and mind dwindled childhood away waiting for the unknown without fear bloated with arrogance

never too young for T Leary

Home was cold and lonely. Waverly had gone away for the holidays with her family. I hadn’t bonded with anyone at school. I wanted hot cocoa and warm pajamas, ginger bread men cookies and a Christmas tree with glass ornaments in 1985. I wasn’t going to get it. So I bussed it to Chinatown, scored and got a bag of stale fortune cookies.

I thought about going to the Cecil and dropping there, but I didn’t want to be lectured by the old lady on the first floor. Florida was the cleaning lady she had worked the docks in San Pedro during WWII as a steel worker. Bent and grey she would polish the walnut sticks of furniture sparsely laid out.

The walk from Broadway to the park on Plaza Olvera was calm in spite of the screaming bitch called traffic. I didn’t mind. I was trailing and smiling. As always, invisible to the eyes of the world but never to my city.

I sat following the giant furry beasts that seemed to engulf the people with multiple hands and faces. Deep blues and the oranges were never more orange. The sounds of people talking or laughing were vague, but I understood the strands of human energy feeding the cosmic realm set to take off into the sky.

The Pio Pico Building sat there quiet in the chaos of the mariachi music and the stop and go low riders booming the likes of Grand Master Flash and Run DMC. Then a mirror suited man walked up to me muttering sounds and wearing a huge red dot on his nose. Thousands of me’s exploded like shrapnel landing in the pupils of my eyes.

It took an eon or two, but I finally directed him to the train depot. Satellite man gave me a balloon dog. The dog was red and the heads and tails and every little knot fanned into dozens as fireworks dazzled from my finger tips. I felt alone in the sea of people, I felt cold frozen fire under me as the Aztec dancers circled about their worshiped sun it was all the same to him.

Time moved with grace like a swan in a lake. I thought about my father and how he taught me how to shoot a gun and a rifle and how to box and use a knife. Years later I found out that it wasn’t because he wanted me to be well rounded he was just disappointed I was a girl. He was really very disappointed and I was very lost. I needed a dad. I wasn’t sure how I felt about women. My mom was tough on me. She expressed numerous times how useless I was and even wished death a few times.

I feared women; they hurt your heart tore your spirit into nothing, fucked around with your brain. Men hurt me physically. I felt like I could at least fight back, scratch or kick something. I couldn’t hurt a woman.

my way…

home was cold and lonely Waverly had gone away for the holidays with her family i hadn’t bonded with anyone at school i wanted hot cocoa and warm pajamas ginger bread men cookies and a Christmas tree with glass ornaments in 1985 i wasn’t going to get it so i bussed it to Chinatown scored and got a bag of stale fortune cookies

i thought about going to the Cecil and dropping there but i didn’t want to be lectured by the old lady on the first floor Florida was the cleaning lady she had worked the docks in San Pedro during WWII as a steel worker bent and grey she would polish the walnut sticks of furniture sparsely laid out

the walk from Broadway to the park on Plaza Olvera was calm in spite of the screaming bitch called traffic i didn’t mind i was trailing and smiling as always invisible to the eyes of the world but never to my city

i sat following the giant furry beasts that seemed to engulf the people with multiple hands and faces deep blues and the oranges were never more orange the sounds of people talking or laughing were vague but i understood the strands of human energy feeding the cosmic realm set to take off into the sky

the Pio Pico Building sat there quiet in the chaos of the mariachi music and the stop and go low riders booming the likes of Grand Master Flash and Run DMC then a mirror suited man walked up to me muttering sounds and wearing a huge red dot on his nose thousands of me’s exploded like shrapnel landing in the pupils of my eyes

it took an eon or two but i finally directed him to the train depot satellite man gave me a balloon dog the dog was red and the heads and tails and every little knot fanned into dozens as fireworks dazzled from my finger tips i felt alone in the sea of people i felt cold frozen fire under me as the Aztec dancers circled about their worshiped sun it was all the same to him

time moved with grace like a swan in a lake i thought about my father and how he taught me how to shoot a gun and a rifle and how to box and use a knife years later i found out that it wasn’t because he wanted me to be well rounded he was just disappointed i was a girl he was really very disappointed and i was very lost i needed a dad i wasn’t sure how i felt about women my mom was tough on me she expressed numerous times how useless i was and even wished death a few times

i feared women they hurt your heart tore your spirit into nothing fucked around with your brain men hurt me physically i felt like i could at least fight back scratch or kick something i couldn’t hurt a woman

a girl’s gotta

I hadn’t been to the Cecil for about four months. I was going solo-er than usual. I had a habit and I needed to hide it, but at the Cecil, that meant hanging with the big children; my habit had to hide me. That took some energy, but I was chalked up to not only falling through the cracks, but literally jumping off the deepest canyon; voluntarily and with pleasure.

Tiny tattoos started bleeding through my skin and sex hated me. My mind was random, my family really random, but as I got older, I figured God’s grace ushered me through.

Early on a Friday morning just before 2 p.m., I decided to go see if spare cock Amos was still living at the Cecil. I was supposed to be at college prep but it wasn’t interesting. Sitting anywhere for longer than 8.9 seconds was excruciating and my limbs just needed to move.

The bust stop bench in front of the hotel had been vandalized and some Mexican guys in orange vests were loading the pretzelled metal unto a Metro Services pick-up. One of the guys, a squared faced short legged man with spikey salt and pepper hair puckered his lips at me a few times, like when a dog really needed to take a shit. I looked down, noticed a lady bug on the left cuff of my sleeve and cupped it in my right hand.

She was deep brick red with tiny black spots. Slowly the hand uncupped. The chipped black nail polish on my hand mimicked her spots. I too puckered my lips, blew a kiss and Holly flew away. I named things and stuff.

The hotel lobby was worn down, the palm trees dried out and their pots ashy and clay like. The coupons dissected and plucked from the Times were neatly stacked on the concierge’s desk. I sat across an olive toned man who wore a sports jacket and Laker color biker shorts. I could see that his toes were mostly calcified with nail fungus. He asked my name as he offered his, Steponas. Francine, I reciprocated starring at his foam green flip flops.

Looking around Steponas scooted to the edge of his couch. His ass must have been sweaty on account of the screeching sound he made when scooting. I sat back deeper into my couch crossed my twig legs and swung my combat boot left to right. Steponas retrieved.

My attention got hijacked by a loud drag queen coming down the stairs, but she wasn’t spare cock. She was just really pissed off. Apparently she contracted crabs and had no qualms about sharing it with the few meat bags staring at her in the lobby.

My eyebrowless Puerto Rican cutie with flaming red hair and flat ass stormed out cussing in Spanish now. I followed her as she bee lined north toward Broadway. I wondered if she’d be going to La India to share her tales of woe with the lovingly self-nick named “puta boys.”

my way…

i hadn’t been to the Cecil for about four months i was going solo-er than usual i had a habit and i needed to hide it but at the Cecil that meant hanging with the big children my habit had to hide me that took some energy but i was chalked up to not only falling through the cracks but literally jumping off the deepest canyon voluntarily and with pleasure

tiny tattoos started bleeding through my skin and sex hated me my mind was random my family really random but as i got older i figured God’s grace ushered me through

early on a friday morning just before 2 pm i decided to go see if spare cock Amos was still living at the Cecil i was supposed to be at college prep but it wasn’t interesting sitting anywhere for longer than 8.9 seconds was excruciating and my limbs just needed to move

the bust stop bench in front of the hotel had been vandalized and some Mexican guys in orange vests were loading the pretzelled metal unto a Metro Services pick-up one of the guys a squared faced short legged man with spikey salt and pepper hair puckered his lips at me a few times like when a dog really needed to take a shit i looked down noticed a lady bug on the left cuff of my sleeve and cupped it in my right hand

she was deep brick red with tiny black spots slowly the hand uncupped the chipped black nail polish on my hand mimicked her spots i too puckered my lips blew a kiss and Holly flew away named things and stuff

the hotel lobby was worn down the palm trees dried out and their pots ashy and clay like the coupons dissected and plucked from the Times were neatly stacked on the concierge’s desk i sat across an olive toned man who wore a sports jacket and Laker color biker shorts i could see that his toes were mostly calcified with nail fungus he asked my name as he offered his Steponas Francine i reciprocated starring at his foam green flip flops

looking around Steponas scooted to the edge of his couch his ass must have been sweaty on account of the screeching sound he made when scooting i sat back deeper into my couch crossed my twig legs and swung my combat boot left to right Steponas retrieved

my attention got hijacked by a loud drag queen coming down the stairs but she wasn’t Spare Cock she was just really pissed off apparently she contracted crabs and had no qualms about sharing it with the few meat bags staring at her in the lobby

my eyebrowless Puerto Rican cutie with flaming red hair and flat ass stormed out cussing in Spanish now i followed her as she bee lined north toward Broadway i wondered if she’d be going to La India to share her tales of woe with the lovingly self-nick named puta boys

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

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