Friday, December 2, 2011

Love Is a Crispy Egg-roll

“What’s this?” I scornfully pushed the brown gelatinous log around my plate.

“What’s what?” Mary looked at me with sincere confusion, eyes red rimmed with fatigue.

I pointed at the mutant morsel she had set before me. She rolled her eyes. “It’s an egg-roll, George. Eat it.” I frowned, not quite sure I believed her. I stabbed it. I swear a small, strained voice shouted, “Help me!”

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked her. “Nothing,” she retorted. I speared it again with my fork. Death spasms gripped it and the guts came spilling out of the limp, lifeless wrapper. White chicken meat for blood—it was a massacre on my dinner plate. “I think it’s dead.” She scoffed, “Perhaps it’s a bit soggy, but it tastes fine. Just eat it.” I flipped the crime against Chinese cuisine over and gaped in pure horror at the clear slime oozing over its rump. “Why isn’t it crispy?”

Annoyance stiffened the angle of Mary’s shoulders. “I microwaved it. I was tired. It’s been a long day and the twins had me up all night. I just wanted to fix something quick and easy that would at least be warm in your tummy. I’m sorry!” Her head tilted forward and I could see that she could barely keep her eyes open. The twins, huh? Yes, I could see those adorable little soul-suckers keeping her up. But there was still no excuse for the travesty she was deceitfully passing off as food. “I see,” I said, crestfallen. “You don’t love me anymore.”

Her head snapped up and sleepy disorientation pulled her eyebrows together. “Huh? What do you mean I don’t love you anymore?” I turned slightly away from her to hide my smirk and continued in a wounded voice. “It’s okay Mary, the last two years have been great. I knew having the twins would change things, couldn’t really expect you to love me forever. Don’t worry about it.” 

She sat up straight in her chair, suddenly awake. “How can you say that?! The Orange Chicken and rice are okay, aren’t they? No complaints there, right?”  I sniffed softly to myself, but loud enough that she could hear me. “Well…I didn’t want to say anything…” Her bloodshot Hawk eyes narrowed to slits. “What’s wrong with the Orange Chicken, George?” Her words ground against her teeth.

I shrugged. “It’s nothing…it’s…” I paused for effect. “Well, do you remember back when you used to love me?” I heard her outraged gasp of protest, but plunged on quickly. “You remember you used to make the Orange Chicken look so pretty? You’d put diced scallions over top, a lovely fringe of white rice edging the tasty, perfectly golden brown chicken. The orange sauce would gracefully cascade over the top—pretty as a picture.” I looked at the pile of slop all mixed together, no scallions in sight and sighed with sweet reverie. “And the egg-rolls! Oh the crispy, delectable egg-rolls! That’s when you loved me, Mary, that’s when. Do you remember?”

I met her stunned, slack-jawed expression. It was so hard not to laugh.

Her pathetic protest: “You can’t be serious! I was so tired…I made it exactly the same!”

I squeezed her hand to offer comfort. “It’s okay,” I said. I stabbed a soggy chunk of egg-roll and tried to pick it up, but it slid defiantly off of my fork, plopping on my plate in a gooey slush. “I’ll eat the egg-roll of decayed love. I won’t complain.” She jumped to her feet and spirited my plate away. The sad lonely, smashed egg-roll bit—that I’d finally speared successfully—hung from my fork in midair.

She said nothing, but the slamming of cupboard doors and pots spoke violently. I sneaked a peek into the kitchen. Even the stove seemed to complain as the tic, tic, tic gave way to the angry whoosh of flames. She poured oil into the skillet. I walked carefully into the room, tossed the diseased disfigured roll in the sink, and clapped my hands together like a little school girl. “I knew you still loved me!” Mary whirled on me, a frozen egg-roll clutched dangerously between the talons of her cooking tongs. “Babe,” she snapped, “dead man walking.” I grinned broadly and risked a quick kiss on her cheek. I practically skipped to the dinning room. Yup, I thought, nothing says love like a crispy egg-roll.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Masterpiece


“You can’t be serious!”

Abraham looked sympathetically at his friend. “Ah, but Theo, I am deadly serious. It was his dying wish and who are we to circumvent it?”  He smiled kindly as Theo’s powder blue eyes cleared of the confusion of his many long years and looked lovingly at the panels.

Then they both looked at the fire.

It raged with a controlled vengeance, hungry enough to devour the world but held fast to its leash. The wood panels lay innocently on the ground. The moonlight flickered—no—caressed the lacquered boards. Paint flowed in a perfect succession of brush strokes—wild—then calm. An old man’s face loomed from a sea of Mars black, etched in the paint. Cobalt eyes wept with both love and pity. The old man floated in the sky high above the world, arms stretched outward…grasping…pleading. A million souls fell into a sea of filth and despair. Engaged in sex and murder, lust and hate they created their own sewer as they drifted to the depths of hell. The sewer split and reemerged on the second panel. Angels sang in a soundless chorus as Jesus raised his arms to his Father. His perfect features begged for mercy.

The two old men stared wordlessly at the panels. The tug of war between father and son, the sorrow dripping from their faces, as they watched man create his own demise was surreal. The angels sang—the first bards to record the Black Day of Judgment. It had taken Charles 54 years to perfect it. He had painted with a two inch brush in broad strokes and then gone over those strokes with the smallest brush he could find. Indeed the tools used to create the piece were laid lovingly beside it. The tiny brush so worn that tape held it together. The fine horse hair bristles were long gone and replaced with the pointed ends of Charles’ own strands.

Theo grasped Abraham’s arms, “Please Abe, reconsider. Once it’s gone…the world should see it! They should know…” he broke off too distraught to finish. Abe squeezed his shoulder. Abe was in his 80’s and in no condition to lift the solid cherry wood, six foot long panels alone. Abraham would need Theo’s help to do this. “We’ll have to work fast Theo or we’ll never have the heart to finish this monstrous act.”

Theo looked up, eyes wet for the loss of their close friend, for the loss of his life’s work. “Monstrous indeed. You know this isn’t right Abe. This is his Masterpiece!” Abraham shook his head slowly. “No Theo. It will be his masterpiece when we finish the task at hand. He trusted us. We must follow through.”

They raised the first panel and tossed it with a heave onto the fire. Flames shot up as high as they could see when the lacquer finish struck. The fire was pleased to feast on such a treat. They threw the second panel on top of the first. Theo collapsed from strain and grief. Abraham reached down for the brushes, pallet, and paint. He fed them to the roaring beast.

They watched the panels melt and burn. They watched the flames lick the paint from the boards. They held each other in mourning as the fire began to eat it. When the last flame flickered they rose and gathered up the hot ashes that remained.

They filled the urn with them.

Hours later they placed the urn on the table and stole the urn holding Charles’ true ashes. He said his life was nothing without his work and, therefore, his death irrelevant. He wanted his art to be mourned, not himself. So he asked them to swap the ashes—to hide his body away—and mourn his true self.

They scattered his body to the wind…and remained silent as the parlor filled with loved ones. A large portrait of Charles rested proudly on an easel next to the urn. He’d requested that there be no viewing of his body, just a humble memorial service for his charred masterpiece.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Phoenix



A bird on fire streaks through desolate clouds that hang like sagging tits from a black-purple sky. Roll the joint between your fingers, man. Feel it? That’s some good shit now. Push the shaggy edges of limp brown hair behind my ears and take a hit. Puff, puff, pass.

Shelly crawls over to sit in my lap. Her tiny breasts—just nipples at best—push violently against my chest as she works her mouth over mine. She takes a tablet and puts it on her tongue then kisses me, the tablet slipping from her tongue to mine then back to hers again. I feel her grinding hotly against me. Color bursts behind my eyelids.

The flaming bird screams now—shrieks into the midnight moon.

Shelly crawls over me to sit in Jim’s lap. She kisses him, slips him some acid like she did me. Grinding—ride the waves of pleasure. It’s freedom, youth on a shoestring swinging in the breeze, flowing like steam from desert roads that snaps soundly against a crisp New Mexico sunset. Even as I sit amongst friends, even as I contemplate the kaleidoscope of fireworks spreading out like sex starved virgins before me, I sense the fragility of the moment. I sense the delicate skin of a bloated balloon seconds from popping—the final death throe of childhood as the adult emerges.

Shelly grabs Jen by her hands, pulls Jen to her feet. They dance—modern witches around a pagan bonfire. Water splashes in Jim’s glass and he hurls it at them. Wet breasts strain through wet tank tops. Angels at their peak—they’ll never be this beautiful and uninhibited again. Their hands roam over each other, Sirens calling, they kiss. Tongues entwine until they break apart to lure Jim and me. Serpentine arms beckon with the promise of a warm embrace.

I rise to greet the Sirens’ call. The bird explodes into a million ashes in the shadow sky.

When I sit in the clinic I only remember glassy eyes and wet tongues sliding over taut skin. When the doctor wipes his tired eyes with gnarled fingers I hear Jen’s soft sighs, feel the tremble of her thighs. The doc clears his throat. He looks at the floor. I see Shelly’s big blue eyes staring provocatively from across the fire. I see Jim bend her body like a whip. The doctor is frustrated. Angry lines turn his brow into mangled tree roots.

I see the flaming bird incinerate. I wait for it to be born again. I wait for it to rise from the ashes. I watch Jen pull my face to hers. Fuck me hard. I wait amongst strangers or were they friends? I slide into the slick-salty-sweet honey pot of ecstasy and ride the waves. Surfer of lust—I watch and stroke deep. Watch and stroke. Watch and stroke. I wait for the bird to flame into life. I ride this youth like there’s no yesterday, no tomorrow, only this minute, this second, this breath.

Did you hear what I said, Son? You’re HIV Positive. 


Thursday, July 14, 2011

By Virtue


Jasira means bold, courageous.

He watched the sunlight disappear in her raven hair and smiled at the memory. She’d told him that when he’d first met her. Her brother had slapped her, of course, for speaking. But Charles had enjoyed the defiance in her black-almond eyes moments before she bowed her head and trailed after her sibling.

It was impossible to get her alone. So he’d wait until school let out to water his garden—any excuse to watch her pretty face. She would even wave to him sometimes. Just barely lift her hand to flex her perfect fingers—on the sly—always so careful not to get caught.

He knew she was a Muslim girl, though she and her brother dressed as American teens. Charles ran a hand over his sweaty cheeks. The sun was a killer in the afternoon. The water sprayed loudly over the drowned rose bush. He watched Jasira step closer and closer to his house.

Her prim pink skirt went below her knees. Little white socks seemed ridiculous on the blossoming 17 year old. He smiled broadly as she approached the edge of his yard. “Where’s your jailer, Jasira?”

She paused, unsure of what to do. “M-my brother is with Father looking at colleges.” Charles nodded and switched off the garden hose. He walked up to her, just a mild mannered older man. “I’m sure he’ll get into a good school.” She nodded and began to skirt away from him—ever wary. Her petal pink lips curled slightly at the corners. She was a sheltered child. He grinned broadly, “It’s awfully hot today, would you like a drink of lemonade?” 

She was nearly to the other side of his lawn now. “Oh…no, thank you though. I must get home…” Charles felt frustration ball in his gut. So many months of waiting and watching for her flashed before his eyes. Before he knew what he was doing he grabbed her small wrist. He dragged her across the yard and into his house. He slammed her against the wall. She screamed and fought—clawed at his face. Tears welled in her beautiful eyes. He kissed her rose petal mouth and cheeks. He pushed her hair aside and kissed her neck.

She kneed him in the groin. He grunted and his lust became rage. He hit her across the corner of her eye and cheekbone. He yanked her skirt up to her waist. “Stop fighting! You probably give it to every boy. It’s my turn, damn it!” He wedged himself inside her tight body and bit hard on her breast. She pulled huge clumps of his hair out of his scalp. He roared in agony and punched her hard in the mouth. It knocked her out.

It was dark when Jasira awoke. The concrete sidewalk was cool and painfully hard beneath her. She sat up and tried to orient herself. Her book bag lay in disarray beside her. Her skirt was stained with her virgin blood. She touched trembling fingers to her swollen, cut lips and moaned. Pain stabbed at her as she gathered her books and shoved them in her book bag. Memory flooded her brain—right up until it all went black.

She walked on wobbly legs to her house. Dread curled a tight fist in her belly and she almost turned and ran for the police instead. What would her father do when he saw her? She was late coming home. Surely he was back with her brother by now? She took a steadying breath. Her parents loved her. It would be okay. She was their daughter. It would be okay. The words became a chant, a prayer in her head. Only her tears belied the truth.

The light to her house flickered yellow in the darkness. Her father’s car was not yet in the drive. She rushed the steps, eager for her Mother’s arms. She flung the door open, “Momma?!”

“Jasira, where have—“ her mother stopped dead, stumbled back against the kitchen doorway. Then she rushed the girl, dragged her into the bathroom. “Your father must not know. Do you hear me, daughter? He must never know.” Her mother stripped the clothes from her body and she cleansed her with a cool rag. “Your indiscretion must be borne in silent shame.” She tilted Jasira’s face upward, “Do you understand Jasira?” Jasira swallowed hard. “Yes, Momma.”

She was so weak, so terrified. Tears swelled once more. Her mother wiped them away. She held her daughter close and wept, too. “I fought him, Momma.” Her mother screamed a primal wounded mother's scream. Then she sucked air hotly into her burning chest. “I know, Daughter. It makes no difference. Papa cannot know.” Her mother redressed her in a nightgown and started to rub concealer over the cuts and bruises. “You will go straight to bed. I will tell him you are sick. Pray to Allah that he believes us.”

She hugged Jasira and opened the door to the bathroom. Jamal stood in the hallway. “Why was the front door left open?” His wife pulled Jasira behind her. She laughed nervously. “Oh, sorry, I wanted some air.” She strode further down the hall intending to lead her husband to the supper table. “How was the trip? You must be famished?” Jamal narrowed his eyes on her face. “What’s wrong?” She smiled sweetly at him, “Nothing, nothing. I have our meal waiting.”

Jamal grew very quiet. He was a shrewd man. He looked from his wife to the closing door of Jasira’s room. He pushed past his wife and opened Jasira’s door. His wife fell to her knees and began to pray. His bellow sent her face down on the floor. He dragged Jasira into the living room. He wiped the concealer from his daughter’s face. “Deceiver!” He threw the daughter next to the wife. He dragged his wife up by her throat. “What happened?”

She trembled, her heart breaking with each beat. “Jasira was raped.” He dropped her as if she’d burned him. He fell backward onto the couch. A warring of emotion flickered in his even features. His strong, tan jaw clenched. His mouth worked, but uttered no sound. Kamal sat quietly next to his father. His head fell into his hands, “She is…impure.” The words fell from his horrified lips. His mother closed her eyes. “Impure” rang in her head—a bell of doom. She looked at her beautiful daughter, so young, so bright…

Jasira paled and scrambled to her feet. She ran to the bathroom. Wild thoughts chasing their tails inside her brain, I should have gone to the police. This can’t be real. I should have gone to the police!

Jamal stood quietly. He walked calmly to the kitchen. When he returned he handed Kamal a sharp knife. “She has dishonored our family. Restore us.” Kamal stood with shaking knees. His young face grim, “Yes, Father.”

Jamal’s wife stood. She threw herself at her husband. Her fists embedded in his shirt. “No! No! Please! Jamal, she is our daughter, no!” He wrapped his arms around her. He held her tightly so she could not break away. His chest ached, tears fell from his lashes. “She was dead when her purity was stolen.”

Friday, July 1, 2011

Devotion


 Daddy bounced me on his knee a little and dragged the brush through my hair. I waited patiently for him to work out the tangles. “It has to be perfect, Cassie.” He worked until he was satisfied. He had me stand in front of him. A flower barrette pulled one side away from my face. My soft lacey dress looked bright blue against my tan skin. Daddy nodded with pride.

He took my hands in his. “Please understand, Pumpkin, that you’ve done nothing wrong. I only seek to protect you. There are dangers in this world…you’re so innocent...” His gaze drifted off along with his words. “I tried to explain this to your mother, but she didn’t understand. That’s why it has to be today. It has to be while she’s visiting Nan.”

Daddy kissed my cheek and squeezed my chubby hands. I knew that Daddy loved me. So I followed him. He walked me to the bed and I marveled at the pretty cushions. Soft and white with lacy trim, they were cool to the touch. I ran my hand over them. My bed at home was warm with cotton sheets that had Strawberry Shortcake pictures. Then I remembered my bear. “I forgot Yay Yay, Daddy!”

He kneeled down to me when he saw my lip tremble. His hands were warm and strong on my shoulders. “Be a big girl, Cassie. You won’t miss your teddy for long. Soon you’ll out grow him. You’ll see. Now don’t cry and lay down for Daddy.”

I lay down like a big girl. “I won’t cry Daddy.” I whispered as he tucked me in. He kissed my forehead, “That’s a good girl.”

I didn’t cry as he worked. I waited patiently, sure that he’d be done soon and we’d be going home. I missed Mommy. I wanted her to see me in my pretty new dress. But I started to panic when I couldn’t hear the dirt falling anymore. It was getting harder to breathe. I tried to stay really still, to listen for Daddy.

I could hear him walking away.

“Daddy?” I whispered.

Nothing.

I pounded on the box and shouted, “Daddy?!”

Nothing.

I didn’t like this game anymore.

I started to cry. “Daddy?”

I don’t like the dark. I wish I had Yay Yay. 

Tears splashed over my lashes.

“Daddy?”


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Artistic Notions: Edited for Commentary

I posted this yesterday and was too lazy to say a thing about it. Mark had mentioned that he'd like to see more of my work online. So I dug some stuff out and photographed it. Just odds and ends--enough to indicate my interests. I've made and lost or have given away so much art over the years that its crazy. Lol. I'm so guilty of telling people who visit my home, "Oh you like that piece? Well, take it. You can have it."

I will never earn a living with my work if I keep doing that. Lol.


When I dream of desert sands
Watercolor on paper 11" x 14"
(the color is far brighter in person)



Groceries
Graphite sketch on paper 12" x 18"


And I think I could earn a living at it if I grew enough balls to actually pursue the marketing/gallery aspect of it. I won an award for my Van Morrison painting. There was a gallery in Ohio who wanted it, but I was nervous and worried that I wouldn't be able to handle the pressure.

Did you know some galleries expect you to hob knob with the crowd and basically sell yourself to up art sales? I didn't. I'm the "paint in the darkest corner of the room" type. Or at least I tried to be in school. Inevitably I'd end up with a bunch of classmates standing behind me saying things, "Wow, you really love color. Wow, what made you think of that?" Not that I'm a great artist. I have weaknesses, many areas to be fleshed out.


Van Morrison
Winner of the "Mr. E" award Ohio University
Oils on canvas 30" x 40"


Fairy Princesses
Oil on canvas 18" x 18"

But I have a good eye and I think the most crucial part of art is seeing. I mean...take a pass with the brush, step back, stare, mix some colors. Take another pass, stare. Question. I may spend 3 hours painting and 12 hours looking, contemplating, questioning what I've done. Am I satisfied? Is it successful? Where is it weak? That part is beautiful, that part is not.

It's a labor of obsession.

It's work. Physical, mental, emotional work--I'm a slave to it.


"Pop" Art
Charcoal on paper 18" x 24"



Birthday Party
Photograph collage 11" x 14"


But I also love it.

So how do I know when I've done something good? The same way I know with my writing. It's like my body is primed, zinging with electricity. I paint furiously, smearing thick globs across gessoed canvass. I don't eat. I don't sleep. I forget to pee for crying out loud! I become possessed. I work until my eyes are raw with exhaustion and my hands tremble in awe. I step back and think...did I really do that? I have no memory of it. Just the vague image of a mad woman pouring heart and soul and fire into a massive piece.

It's personal.

Perhaps more personal than writing is.

You see, there's a rightness in holding a pencil or paint brush in my hands. There's a feeling of being--I mean--truly being. I feel alive. I feel free. The tool becomes an extension of my arm, as if I were meant to be born with a pencil in my hand--only God forgot.

At this minute I would rather be scratching these words out on a sketch pad. I hate typing. I hate the artificial feel of a keyboard beneath my fingertips. It's cold and calculating. It frustrates me. Perhaps a laptop would be better because at least then I'd be mobile. I could take it to the desert. I could find a nice big rock and park my ass next to a lizard and tap-tap-tap away.

But it wouldn't be the same.

Ever open an old, much loved book, and feel the feather soft edges flip under the pads of your thumbs? Remember the scent of the book? So distinctive, so intimate--you could feel the history. The book has been read by hundreds of people. They touched it, inhaled its knowledge, its essence. They left their mark in dog-eared pages. They left scribbles in blue ink on page 43. They made notes in the margin. Jenny wrote on the copyright page, "This is the best novel I've ever read. Enjoy!" She wrote with hot pink, flowery handwriting in 1983--back when people still used cursive.

You'd pick that book up from the Library never consciously aware of the human history surrounding it, connecting you to it. All you'd think is that you'd been waiting two weeks for Jenny to bring that damn thing back so you could check it out.

That's what drawing is to me. It's addictive--healing. It's about that magical moment of creation where the world is clear and pure and that empty white space before me lays virginal--waiting--waiting so patiently for the first touch, the first stroke. It waits, aching, begging for the whisper of air, the soft tickle of graphite, charcoal, paint, water, eraser, brush. It waits, knowing that soon I will love it most of all. Soon I will give it form, purpose, beauty. I will tell it who it is and in doing so--I will find my identity.

It's a moment of pure perfection.

Until I screw it up!

:D

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jimi

Bold and bright
Eyes burn in silence
Not a text
Not a call

Silent phone
Useless
I keep trying
To find someone

Who'll see
Wanna see
The truth of me
But all there is

Is silence
Fuck it
I'll crank up the volume
And play Jimi





Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Do I Write?


As if I have a choice.

When I saw this post on Mark Kersetter’s blog I was utterly enthralled with his response, with his heartfelt experiences. I found it to be eloquent, articulate, and profound. I really, really didn’t wanna write this after reading his post. But I’ll give it my best shot. Frankly, I think he only picked me so I’d stop trolling through his archives.

What? My boys got a Playstation for their birthdays and no longer want anything to do with me. So I was bored. Geesh. LOL.

Okay….

Writing, for me, is about release. I release the pressure in my head, shuffle words into some random fashion in the vain attempt to make sense of the things that I don’t understand. So much of my life has been one bit of confusion crashing into uncertainty and then disintegrating into disappointment—that often I feel as though I’m adrift in choppy water with no row, no life jacket—nothing solid. So writing becomes the vessel that’s tangible and real—the lifeline I cling to. Writing is the only thing that makes sense.

But it’s also torture. For whatever reason, when I take to text, all that comes out of me is bitter and cruel. Words become pain, become anger, become hate, become lies, become weapons, and become truth. They morph on the white screen in front of me so that I don’t even know what I’m saying until the last period is written.

Not that I’m bitching. It is what it is. And there’s purity to the gritty stuff, you know? There’s honesty there. And honesty is all that matters to me. I want to peel back each layer of my flesh and examine each element until I am comfortable with what I see. If I can sort out my head—if I can dissect and destroy all my weaknesses then maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to like myself. Or at least respect my attempts at writing or painting, for that matter.

The thing is...I never set out to be a writer or a blogger or anything in this vein. I'm an artist. That's how I've always identified myself. I paint. But I am also a free spirit and when I was in college I took a bunch of classes outside of my major (I majored in painting). One of the classes I took was a "Women in Writing" course. It had feminist themes and required a lot of personal essays. One essay in particular was tough for me. We were asked to write about our bodies.

At the time I was in the throes of a miserable marriage, still dealing with the effects of being sexually abused as a child, and coming to terms with the fact that I'd married someone who kicked me every chance he got. My point? I hated my body. When I was thin, I attracted a lot of male attention. I never learned how to deal with that. For a long time I honestly believed the only thing I was meant to be was a sex object. I felt very much like I was cursed and I think that's why I gained so much weight. I think I packed on pounds as a form of body armor. "If I'm fat and gross, then I'll be safe cuz no one will touch me." It's not that I consciously thought that, but in retrospect, I think that was why I ended up being 5' tall and weighing 330 lbs. Yeah. you read that right. That's what self-hate does to a person.

It's suicide, just another way to die, to fade into oblivion.

So that essay, for me, was like lighting a stick of dynamite and holding it to my breasts while I flung my body onto a landmine. It was...hard to write. I waited till the last minute and I poured a 13 page essay out in less than 3 hours. I didn't edit it. Are you kidding? I couldn't even read it. Coward that I am, I didn't even want to go to class to see how my classmates graded it. (We had to pass out copies to the whole class and grade each others work.) That meant 20 peers standing in judgment.


Imagine my shock when they all loved it, when they gushed and cried over it. I felt paralyzed when my professor told me I should change my major from painting to writing. I didn't. I'm a painter. But I did take more writing courses. And I did start to take the poems and stories that I'd written for years and never fully appreciated more seriously. I also started taking Tae Kwon Do. (I've lost 72 lbs to date--and still going.) I started this blog. I left my ex. The divorce should be final soon. Thank God. I moved to New Mexico from Ohio. That's a lot of changes over a two year span.

So maybe I write to find the pieces of myself that have slipped away and try to fit them back together? Maybe I write to fill the silence in my own head? Maybe I write because it saved my life? Probably I write because it keeps me sane. It's helped me accept my sensuality--to appreciate that sex isn't dirty. It isn't a tool to control someone--that it's okay to be a woman through and through. In that sense writing has empowered me.

Whatever the reasoning, regardless of my dislike of my own writing—I stick with it. I write as if there’s a loaded gun aimed at my temple and if I stop rat-a-tap-tapping at the keys a trigger will lurch and all that will be left is a bloody manuscript. It’s as if I leave my body and pour every ounce of everything that I feel, or have ever felt, onto the page. It’s a wild rush of emotion. It's giving voice to my convictions. I never have a plot. I never even know the characters name before I write. I just start typing, or scribbling in a book, praying that it will make a lick of sense at the end.

So why do I write? Because I have to. Because I’m too pathetic to do anything else. Because there’s a volcano of emotion rumbling beneath the surface of my skin and it’s gotta go somewhere. I write because it’s the path I walk. It's my lifeline.


There’s a Blogger who’s pretty good at writing. He likes to boldly go where few other writers dare. So I think I'll pass the torch to Marc Nash. Well, Marc, why do you write the crazy things you do? :)

I swear Axl is a far better lyricist than he gets credit for.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reflection

Brown bohemian eyes shine
Red lips to entice
To devour

Warm breath flows
Like a whisper
In a dark room


Cool rain
Patters against French doors
Streaks and trickles over clear glass


A touch that lasts forever
Buried deep
Branded to memory


A tremble
A sigh
Knowing this cannot be duplicated


No matter how many others 
You kiss
Or touch


You'll never be here again
Drumbeat--staccato
Pleasure licking along your skin


Wild rush
Never see your soul
Reflected in your lover's eyes

Friday, June 24, 2011

#3WW: Sell Your Soul


#3WW: Gag, Maintain, Omit


The camera light glows red, winking.

Click. Flash!

The yellow lights from the overhead lamps burn white hot. The bonds are tight. She chokes on the ball gag. Her arms are twisted behind her back. Beautiful blond hair falls around her young face. Her breasts are crushed. The weight of the man steals the air from her lungs.

Her thighs tremble as he pushes in and out, the pain is so intense that she can’t tell where exactly he’s penetrating. She tries to breathe deep—gasps as the pain from the knife racks her. $900 for bondage photos. Rent money. Just photographs. Wheezing makes maintaining air impossible. The wild drum of her heartbeat pounds against her chest. What seemed so benign has become damnation.

Tears stream down her cheeks.

Click. Flash!

Just a little money.

The knife burns hotter. She fights. Struggles. Screams—but no one can hear. She kicks. They flip her over. She fights with bound hands. They omitted the knife. There shouldn’t be a knife stabbing. It was just a bondage set—a photo shoot. Her mind reels—coherent thought as elusive as freedom.

She stops screaming.

Stops fighting.

She’s found face down, a black tarp covering her perfect, young, beautiful body.

The cops say she was the victim of a snuff shoot.

Life is forever when you’re 23, but death is eternal—always.

***

The devil smiles with a used car salesman smile. He tips his top hat. Shiny buttons line his shiny striped jacket. Gold tooth flashes like a camera. The shutter whines as the lens focuses. Click. Flash! Dollar signs light up his eyes. Such a pretty young girl, why not use what you got to make some cash, Honey? It seems so easy. No harm, no foul.

Go on…you’ll be famous just like Jenna Jameson.

You know you want to.

Just sign on the dotted line, Sweetheart.

Just sign away your rights.

Just sell your soul.

You know you want to.





http://bignewsstory.com/taylor-summers-news-story-part-two-02/

Thursday, June 23, 2011

That's A What I like!


5 Ways to Turn Your Man On

The website flashed with pretty pale pink letters and I paused for a second. The girl with perfect abs grinned knowingly from my monitor. Things had been a bit stale with Joe for awhile now…for the last 13 years to be exact. Oh sure, we still had sex…if you can call hitting the hot spots in the same order at precisely 9:00 pm every Friday…sex.

I looked at the 20-something blond and could just tell that she had epic sex. I read the list again. “A man appreciates a woman who looks her best.” Hmmm. I looked at my fuzzy purple bunny slippers. How long had it been since I’d worn make-up? I couldn’t remember. I walked over to my vanity and blew a layer of dust in the air. Okay, it’s definitely been too long since I dolled myself up.

It was easy to say I was busy with the kids and mundane household duties, but I had to confess that I’d just been lazy.

I went through the whole mess. The shaving, plucking, tweezing, face painting, perfuming, and curlers then I looked in the mirror at my “Mom Uniform.” The butt of my gray sweat pants sagged halfway to my knees. My t-shirt drooped making one boob look uneven with the other. I shook my curler laden head in disgust and rummaged through my closet for something a bit spicier—or at least feminine.

I came back with a low cut tank top and some jeans. I squeezed the jeans on and shrieked at the role of blubber hanging over the waist. I unbuttoned the jeans and relaxed a little when the roll seemed less obvious. Then I donned the tank top and a push-up bra like those pop stars wear. By the time I decided on which pair of heels to wear—I was feeling pretty confident. The tank was long enough to hide the unbuttoned-roll mess and my war paint looked pretty good.

My confidence faltered as I unrolled my hair—to my horror—it stood on end like a puffed poodle! I quickly plugged in my curling iron to do some serious damage control. Moments later I was viciously dragging the iron through my brown helmet, taming the maniac mane. Then I herd the kids come in. I jerked my head to the side like a child caught steeling candy. The iron burnt a huge red welt on my forehead and I dropped the demonic thing in pain. But I was determined to light my Joe up, so I bravely patched the burn with gauze and looked at the website again.

“This is the age of technology. Nothing gets a man hotter than a naughty text message.”

Hmm. I eyed my cell phone with suspicion. What could I say that would get his blood going? I looked at the bed. I thought about what I knew he liked. I thought about what I could possibly say. And then I thought; this is stupid. Knowing Joe he’d be happier with a plate of chicken wings. Chicken wings! That’s the ticket. Combine food and sex? There’s no way that could go wrong! I quickly texted him, “Hey Babe, I can’t wait for you to get home and stuff my creampie with your Bismarck!”

He responded seconds later. My excitement died as I read his text. “What? You want me to bring donuts home? I thought you liked those jelly ones?” I hung my head in frustration. I texted him again, “No Sweetie, I want you to stuff my creampie with your Bismarck.” He texted back, “Huh? Maybe the donut shop will know what you’re talking about. I’ll ask them.” I groaned and told him, “Never mind Joe. Jelly donuts are fine.”

Nothing seemed to be working out like I’d hoped, but I had faith in the article. I mean busty blonds don’t look that happy for nothing, right? Next on the list:

“Make eye contact. A man loves to know he’s the only one you’re looking at.”

I waited for Joe to get home and when he walked in the door I winked at him. He looked me up and down, and then frowned. I said, “I missed you Sweetie” and leaned up to smooch him. I winked at him again. He set a box of jelly donuts on the counter and felt my brow. “What?” I asked. He shrugged, “Just checking. What happened to your forehead? And is something wrong with your eye?” I blushed, “Nothing’s wrong! I just winked at ya.” I touched my wound, “Battle with the curling iron.” He nodded and pointed at the donuts. “The donut shop had no idea what creampie you were talking about, but the kid behind the counter snickered at me. Little snot.”

I grabbed the box and put it in the refrigerator to hide a snicker of my own. I cleared my throat, “Well you know how kids are these days. No respect.” I turned back to look at him and he seemed to consider me more closely. “You’re acting strange today. What’s with this get up?” I smiled seductively (I hoped) and told him, “I wanted to dress a little sexier for you. Don’t you like it?” Joe frowned, “It’s different.” He started toward me and I got excited thinking he might kiss me. But he scooted me out of his way to grab a beer instead. I hid my disappointment.

Later that night, after the kids had gone to bed, I remembered the website. I went upstairs and clicked out of the page, cursing the lying blond as I did so. I took off the tank top and push-up bra. Tossed my heels back in the closet, I shimmied outta my jeans and scrubbed my face clean. I put my hair in a pony tail and pulled on an old faded pair of boy shorts and a soft cotton sleeper top with thin straps. I bounded down the stairs and curled up next to Joe with less enthusiasm than I felt.

He wrapped his arm around me and kissed the top of my head. I felt his hand brush my ponytail away from my neck and I smiled at him. He grinned back at me and for a second I thought I spied a spark of something. “You haven’t put your hair up in a ponytail in ages. Remember when Joe Jr. was in baseball and you’d wear your hair in a ponytail and a ball cap for his baseball games? I always loved that. You looked so cute at those games.”

I laughed and slugged him playfully. “You never told me that before!” I shook my head and chuckled again. “You want another beer, you old softy?” Joe grinned at me and said, “Sure.” I was halfway to the kitchen when his voice stopped me. “You sure can rock a pair of shorts for an old broad, you know that?” I turned around in shock, hands on hips. “You gotta be kidding me! I spent hours trying to get dolled up for you to turn you on and all you really wanted was a ponytail and a pair of boy shorts? Seriously?!”

Joe sat up and grinned, his sexy smile making my heart skip a beat. “And a wiggle in your walk…” He walked up to me and he had my undivided attention. “And a giggle in your talk…” He kissed me hotly, nipping at my lips—then smacked my ass. I squealed, my eyes bright with excitement, big goofy grin that made the years melt away. “What I really want is to watch those sweet cheeks racing up the stairs.”

He didn’t have to tell me twice.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Choices


“Lexie…oh God…Lexie…”

My hands froze on the cantaloupe. I dropped it on the counter. His voice sent a chill through my heart. I knew his voice so well, had heard it a million times, in a million ways. I’d heard it hostile from across the room, silly-sweet in the morning, moaning hotly in my ear.

But I hadn’t heard it in two months. Not since…well I didn’t want to think about that.

I hit replay and waited for the machine to start.

It was the hollow tone that scared me most.

I grabbed my coat and left the groceries on the counter. Charlie, my faithful Calico, swirled around my legs in protest. I hadn’t fed her yet and wouldn’t until I returned. All I could think of—all I could see was his hazel eyes staring vacantly from some unfathomable abyss.

I’d heard he’d come back to town, but I didn’t know where exactly. I drove the car like a maniac. It hugged the corner so tightly that it nearly ran over the curb. Tires screeched as I raced—well above the speed limit—toward his old apartment. Memories flooded my mind. They filled my head with a collection of images—images that depicted a life created, then destroyed.

They were meaningless to me now. I pushed them away.

His car wasn’t there. The windows were dark.

I threw the car in reverse, then overdrive, and jammed down the gas pedal.

There was a park nearby. We’d walk there on Sundays and watch the children play. He’d brush my hair from my cheek and say, “We’ll have a daughter just like her one day.” Tears streamed down my cheek and my tight grip on the steering wheel threatened to crack my knuckles wide open.

The swings swung eerily in the empty park. A bum pushed a dirty cart full of cans on the opposite side. No sign of Luke anywhere. A strangled cry escaped me and my hands shook as they raked through my auburn hair. “Come on…think, Lexie, think!” I muttered under my breath, anxiety becoming a tangible beast sitting in the passenger seat. Where would he go? What would he do?

The possibilities terrified me.

His mother said they’d released him days ago. She said the meds helped. She said she had hope that this time would be different—that this time they’d licked the demon that stalked him.

My heart knew different.

I’d seen the haunted look in his eyes. I’d seen him weak and clawing, begging for release. I’d thrown pills in the toilet and flushed them. I’d thrown knives out the window and wrapped his wrists in bandages. I’d sobbed and bled with the man. I’d begged him to love me more than death—to just once choose life.

And just then I knew. I knew exactly where he was.


I drove much slower now. The sense of dread was tearing at my clothes, my breasts, my face, clawing, biting at my psyche. I drove cautiously along the train tracks. There was a cargo train that ran late. I looked at the glowing numbers on my dashboard. 8:53pm. I had moments before it would arrive—IF that.

I pulled along the gravel road. Old row houses flanked the makeshift street. You could almost see the ghosts of children from the 1930s playing stickball. I could feel their laughter and a shiver rolled over my skin. My heels crunched loudly on the rocks. I pulled my coat closer to my form, unable to find warmth.

He stood on the tracks. I walked up to him and he smiled at me. The mouth I loved so well, had kissed for hours, dreamt of day and night—smiled at me. His eyes shone brightly and seemed more alive than I’d ever seen him. His voice was surprised as he addressed me. “You found me!”

I could see that he was amped up. I kicked at the stones and watched them roll away. “You knew I would.”

He laughed. “Yeah, I did. You always knew me better than anyone.” I snorted in disgust…or maybe despair. “Fat lotta good that’s done me.”

Luke frowned then. “I’m sorry Lexie. Sorry I couldn’t be the man you needed me to be. It’ll be better this way. You’ll see. You’ll find someone who loves you.”

I screamed at him and lunged. I grabbed his beautiful face and forced him to look at me. “No, it won’t be better!” I shouted at him, choking on my tears, “That’s what you don’t get, Luke! I love you, only you, always you. How can you not see that? How can you do this?!” I felt weak and trapped in a wordless hell. He caught me, held me up.

He pulled me to him and brushed his lips over my hair. “Ssh. I know it’s been hard, Baby. I know it. Don’t you see? I’m doing this for us, for you. I’m releasing you.” I opened my mouth to protest. He silenced me with a kiss. Even as his lips parted mine, even as his tongue traced mine—I knew this was our last kiss. Fresh tears burned my eyes and fell, mingled with our tongues.

The train’s whistle blew.

I jumped in his arms—breaking the kiss. “Please, Luke, please come back with me. Let’s get off this track.” I pulled at him. I yanked on his arms, but he shook me off easily. “Please, Baby, come with me!” I screamed and pushed at his waist. I tried to knock him over. The train blew again. I could feel the bright light closing in on us.

“Fine Luke. I might as well die with you. Once you’re gone—I’ll be dead inside anyway.” I parked myself in front of him. I crossed my arms over my chest in defiance. He chuckled and pulled me into his arms. It felt like heaven, but I still braced for the impact.

We watched the train come closer…closer…closer.

My breathing quickened; my pulse pounded.

He whispered in my ear seconds before the train struck. “I love you, Baby.” And he threw me off the track.

“LUKE!” I screamed until my voice stopped—died of its own accord.

All I could see among the wreck and ruin was his radiant smile as Death welcomed him home. I collapsed in the gravel, pain shooting up my arms from the fall. A new fear gripped me. My hands flew to my stomach. It felt okay. I should’ve told him about the baby. Why didn’t I tell him about the baby?


Friday, June 10, 2011

Saturday Night


She drug her lips softy over his knuckles. “Stay. Please? For just a little longer?” He withdrew his hand and flexed his fingers. She winced when his knuckles popped. He patted her ass. “I can’t, Babe. You know that.”

Annie rolled over—the sheet slipping over her taut stomach. “I know.”

He stood up and she watched the graceful curve of his spine. She openly admired the tensing of his hip muscles as he moved. He spent two hours a day at the gym to ensure that everyone would notice his body. He paused by the mirror and sorted out his hair with sure quick fingers. He was the sexiest man she’d ever seen.

And he knew it.

He smiled at her through the mirror. “Going out tonight?” She laughed and pulled the sheet up over her breasts. “The night’s half over—what would be the point?” He grinned that possessive, yet, sweet smile of his. She knew that he worried about her running off with someone else. She always did her best to reassure him.

He was nearly dressed now. There was only one piece of his uniform left to don. He sat next to Annie on the bed. She smiled just for him. He leaned over and kissed her soft and sweet. His lips brushed hers, enticing her skin. His tongue slipped inside to taste the honey there. She moaned and moved to pull him in closer—to drag him back to bed.

He pulled away. “I can’t stay, Babe. I told you that. You know the rules.” The clock on the nightstand flashed 12:23am. A gold ring sat innocently on the clock. He picked it up and placed the band on his ring finger. Annie threw off the covers and walked, naked, to the bathroom. “Maybe I will go out. No sense in wasting a Saturday night.” She closed the bathroom door in his shocked face.

When she heard him leave she washed her face and pulled out her foundation. Let his wife comfort him. Annie was done.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wooo Hooo!!!

So ..okay...if you read this little bitty rag of mine then you know I've been fighting with my weight. Sweet, right? Okay...maybe not sweet. But whatever.


Anyway, I started doing Gerbalife--I mean--Herbalife. (Pardon my pet name for it!) I've been working out like a mad woman. Bought a torture device--er--a bicycle. And I've been trekking all over the gloriously dry, hot, desolate, desert known as Deming, NM. I even got a flat tire from this heinous little thing called a "goat head." Ever see one? They are thorns (I think) and enjoy puncturing the heels of your sneakers to stab you in the foot. Long painful spiky bits of hell--thank you Lord Jesus. Ooooh! And they follow you indoors and cling to your carpet, so when you least expect (usually barefoot from the shower) BAM!!! Effing pain!


Little baby Goat Heads. (Must not be from New Mexico--cuz out here we grow 'em waaaay bigger!)

Wow I get sidetracked easy!


Okay. So I've been busting my ass on the bike and doing these "core" exercises (ugh) and surviving on mutant Herbalife shakes for the past 17 days. And so far I've lost 13 lbs. It's probably water weight--but heck--I'll take it!


To reward myself I've decided to write a completely nonsensical post (obviously) and some really bad tunes. BUT they are tunes that will get you up and moving (or at least they do that to me).


Enjoy Bloggers and have a rockin' day!!! :D


Does Lady Gaga make anyone else wanna dress up in a silver, whacked out space suit complete with extra cleavage and Martian antennas? Is it just me? Blue eyeshadow and silver lipstick? Any takers?



Thank GOD for Pink!!!



Can't dance with out Cyndi!



Hell Yeah!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Let It Run

Shaky hands twist 
The dish rag--the bruise will heal
Squeeze the water out


Let it run
Let it run


Splash in the creek--hide away
Squish the mud between your toes
Water tickles as it trickles


Let it run
Let it run


It's been a weary day
Night seems colder, too
Tears more cleansing than dew


Let it run
Let it run

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lip Service


“Hate is a commodity! Hitler used it to kill. American politicians use it to drive fear into the hearts of working class America and create divisive attitudes and steal votes. Hate brings fear, eases manipulation, and preys on the weak. Hate lines pockets and kills freedom.”

Sweat dripped down his back, but he ignored it. His voice rang out strong and clear—the vessel of conviction. “My opponent is the servant of hate! He leads you in prayer and convinces your hearts to turn as black as night! His organization, ‘The Minutemen’ marches on small churches and lays siege to the very democracy we love! He tells you to hate homosexuals. He claims it’s in scripture. He asserts that he knows the will of God!”

He paused for effect. Tears streamed down his fat cheeks. His voice resumed, vibrating with the flair of a Sunday preacher. “Imagine that?! Imagine the arrogance of assuming to know the thoughts and will of God Almighty!” He was shrieking with passion now.

The crowd stood rapt. They were primed and ready for his sales pitch.

“Now I know that I am a politician. But I’m not like these other scoundrels. I won’t lie and mislead you with chants like ‘Hope’ and ‘Change.’ I won’t ply you with empty rhetoric about the way things were. I won’t say America has gone astray. I won’t defeat you with fear. I won’t insult your intelligence.”

He mopped up the sweat with a damp handkerchief. “You already know that we’re in a battle for our future. You already know that our deficit is out of control. I don’t need to tell you what you already know. All I need to tell you is that true change—REAL CHANGE—is possible. Open your hearts. Open your minds. And fight for a smaller government!”

He pulled the microphone closer and tone softening. “My opponent will tell you that God will smite those who fornicate with the same sex. He will tell you that sex ed in schools leads to teen pregnancy. He will say that he holds all the answers and a direct line to God. I will say that I have no business in your bedrooms. I will tell you that empowering our children with knowledge is the best way to fight teen pregnancy!”

The soap box wobbled under his weight, but he plunged forward. “The problem with liberals is that they tell you what you want to hear and then get in bed with the right wingers as soon as you elect them! The problem with the far right wingers is that they pick the wrong damn fight and do NOTHING when they hold the majority! It’s lip service people! They think you’re stupid. But I know you’re not. I know you are disgruntled with the world we live in. I know that you want your country back!”

“Does it matter who marries who? Does it matter if sex ed is taught? No. Of course not. What matters is our national debt, our gas prices, our economy! Where have the financial conservatives gone?! I ask you! I was sitting on my couch listening to this crap and realized—these jokers in DC don’t care about us. They have no intention of doing what’s right! All they want is your vote and your donation and for you to go back to sleep! Well, I say WAKE UP! Wake up and take your country back! Vote for Charles Hinkly!”

The crowd erupted in a roar. Flags were waving. Families were crying. Finally someone had said the things that they’d been dying to hear. Words rushed into the empty vacuum of their discontent. Charles smiled and shook hands as he walked to his limo. His driver opened his door and he climbed in. Just as the door was about to close two men approached him.

“Mr. Hinkly! We just LOVED your speech Sir. We wanted you to know that you have our vote.” The younger man put his arm around the shoulders of the older man. “It’s so hard to be gay in Ohio. So many Christian conservatives judge us. We’re planning a wedding soon. But we wanted to tell you how hard we’re going to fight for your campaign. I really think you can make a difference in this state, Sir.” They beamed and Charles extracted himself from the car. He clasped their hands in his.

“That’s wonderful gentlemen! You make a glorious couple. I’m honored to have you fight on my side. Truly!” They gushed and walked away like star-struck fans. He sat back down in the car and smiled with knowing satisfaction. People like that were gonna win him the Governor’s seat. He’d play both sides against the middle and be the first Libertarian in the White House. The Teabaggers and faggots would line the way—they just didn’t know it yet. But he did. He lit a big fat cigar. Yeah, he knew.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day and "It's What You Did"

Tomorrow is Memorial Day...a strange holiday for me. I'm the daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter of a looooooong line of military men. That's a fairly common tale in every culture around the globe, I think. That my ex-step-father is a Vietnam Vet is nothing spectacular either. That he was an abusive pedophile alcoholic son of a bitch from hell...well...that's probably no shocker either. Not because he was a Vet. Millions of folks are Vets and never once indulge in committing evil sins against their families. I only feel its a common sad story because...well...that's the world we live in these days.


But it makes Memorial Day and the Fourth of July complicated for me.


There's the loyal patriot within me who wants to stand up and praise my ancestors (who served all the way back to the Revolutionary War--no joke). But there's also the angry bitter woman inside who knows first hand what war can do to a person...to their families...to their mind. It's bitter-sweet at best--this tug-of-war between respect and frustrated tears.


So I wrote a story last year and was too cowardly to post it...taking much of it from conversations with my ex-step-father...and my recollections of his 3am nightmares. You know, the fun ones where he drug us out of bed screaming, "Get Down!!! Get Down!!!" Mom called them flashbacks. At 8 years old...I called them "Holy Shit! Moments." I still remember my mother saying, "Just be glad he doesn't think your the enemy during his flashbacks." Considering that he treated me like the enemy when he was stone-cold-sober...I'd say she was right about that.


This story I feel could speak for itself, just fine. This glimpse into my reasoning is merely to calm my inner patriot. I want to be clear that even though I've wanted to hang my ex-step-father's head on a spear in my front yard--I have always--ALWAYS--respected his service. I've always understood that he was plagued with a lot of unaddressed war related issues and pain. So this story isn't meant to hurt him. It isn't meant to hurt anyone. It's just a vessel to pour out the pain I witnessed and the confusion I experienced and maybe...just maybe...it's one last attempt to understand that which can never be understood.


Happy Memorial Day folks. God Bless and many thanks to those who have served and fallen and to those who still stand to remember. Much love and respect,









It's What You Did



The stench from the fireworks clouded his lungs. He coughed. Just a small thing, but it brought blood up all the same. The doc said he had Agent Orange. His feet were eroded by jungle rot. They don’t talk about that shit in the glamorized Hollywood versions of Nam.

Nope. Hollywood just wants some buff Charlie Sheen running through the jungle with sweat gleaming on his muscles. Hell, give him a bandana—make him look like Rambo. Rambo well, at least that prick had balls.

A chubby little kid sat on his yuppie daddy’s shoulders and waved an America flag singin’ “Born in the USA…I was born in the USA.” No way did that kid know what that song was about. Hell the yuppie idiot who sired him didn’t know either.

He scoffed in silence. He’d paid his dues and everybody else’s. No need to march on DC or write the local paper for vet’s rights. He’d said his piece behind the machine gun on a tank. After Cathy spoke—wasn’t nothing but silence. He dug in his pocket. A faded photograph of four skinny guys with dreams as big as the New Mexico sky smiled back with cock sure grins and a joint hanging from the corners of their mouths.

The caption read: “The boys and Cathy’s Clown.”

Dave had busted his chops when he’d named the tank Cathy’s Clown. It hadn’t been so funny when the real Cathy had sent him a Dear John letter—3 months pregnant with Jimmy Kearns’ kid. It was even less humorous when they left Dave’s body floating in a fucking rice paddy. He could still see him floating there—face down—as the chopper pulled away.

He married a little Vietnamese girl. It was the 60’s man, that’s what you did. She divorced him in ’73. He couldn’t blame her. He was an asshole, everyone said so. He drank too much. He’d get the beast upon him and knock her pretty head into a wall. He never meant to…it just sorta happened. The seventies passed him by in a blur of alcohol induced coma. The eighties weren’t much better.

He looked at the picture again. Jesus they were young. Was he really ever that green? He shook his head and passed the families on the green grass. He saw their stares. But he didn’t care. He always dressed in full uniform on the 4th. He was one in a long line of military men. His daddy went to Korea. His granddaddy fought in WWWII. It’s what they did. They served.

He stuffed the photo away.

Only he and John made it outta Nam. And John was still locked up far as he knew. That shit made you crazy. That’s what the doc said, “No shame in talking about it. You guys weren’t treated right. We know it. There’s help out there if you want it.” He shrugged the vet doc off. He was tough. It’s what you did. Only pansies cried and talked about their feelings.

Folks were grilling out today. The air was ripe with charred burgers and hot dogs. That’s what you did on the 4th. Took your kids to a park and cooked out while watching fireworks and waving little paper flags. There were flags all over the lawn. He shook his head, his long hair stringing down his back. It was illegal for the flag to touch the ground. Folks don’t care about shit like that anymore. He picked one up—smeared with mustard. Shoulda been ketchup, the flag was dead, it might as well bleed.

He tossed it down and rolled over it with his wheelchair.

The street was crowded with people pushing and shoving to get to their cars.

They parted when they saw him. It could have been respect for his sacrifice. Or it could have been fear. Why fear a disheveled vet? He pushed the wheels over the pavement. A guy in a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts stood up and saluted him. Fucking civilians. You don’t salute anyone other than a commanding officer. He nodded at the guy as he rolled past.

When he got to his little apartment he checked his mail. More bills. A letter from the V. A. Nothing important, so he tossed the stack on the counter. He rolled to his bedroom and pulled out his old revolver. It felt good in his hand—heavy and real.

He rolled to the mirror and looked at himself. He paused, then put the gun in his mouth.

When a dog is old and no longer vital you put them to sleep. It’s what you did.