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Guest Speaker

Mood: Fine
Drinking: Nope

My friend S wrote a lovely little poem the other day and I found it particularly inspiring, so I’m posting it here for all to see (with her permission, of course.)

She calls it “Being Seen All the Time”…

Her mirror is from the interrogation room
where they questioned Cain.

Her calipers, last used by the Masons
who threw over God for architecture.

The red pencil is from Office Depot.
It feels insecure about its ostensibly dull life story
and so avoids the mirror
and the calipers
at cocktail parties.

All of this looking
is about asking a big question.
She wouldn’t tell you what it is,
even if she could.
She tilts her head and furrows her brows,
sleek black wings of gulls in a photo negative.

Meanwhile, the world looks, with more mundane purposes:

The sharpener who fell in hopeless love
watching her cross the street
does portraits of her on the edge of
every knife blade.

The racetrack called: They’d like her to return
as soon as possible the elegant lope
of racehorse legs.

Paris leaves golden apples
in plain brown paper bags,
anonymously, on her doorstep.
(Helen of Troy is pissed.)

Her agent called with two voiceover gigs:
a marshmallow Peep and a five-alarm fire.

Lightning is so jealous of her style
that it smashes sand together
to fuse wicked gossip about her
in forked bits of glass.

In a few seconds
she will put down the calipers and pencil.
She will sharpen all knives with a glance.
She will teach the horses about the mysteries
of restrained grace. She will make a pie
from Paris’ apples and feed it to silly anorexic Helen,
who hasn’t eaten in years. She will laugh
like an inferno of marshmallow chicks.

It takes her three seconds of laughing
to break centuries of glass.

-Lo, who thinks S is the SHIT!

Nemesis

Mood: Determined
Drinking: The Usual

No.
Can’t eat yet.
Can’t call my sister back.
Can’t finish checking email.
Can’t move can’t blink can’t breathe
until I get this down.
Until I get it out.
Get it aaaaall out.
Until I drag the
scantily-clad secrets, the
cats trapped in bags, the
brittle breaking skeletons
until I drag them all screaming
from the closet
and dash them to dust
here on the sidewalk
here on the street
here on the internet
out in the open
where everyone can see
just how deep the deception goes
just how much they really don’t know.
(They thought I was satisfied.)

***

I found her today.
And she’s better than me.
She’s LaDonna 3.0.
She has everything that I’ve got
but she’s added nifty new features
new buttons and bows.
And once you see her,
you’ll be begging for an upgrade.

She’s got accolades
and book deals. She’s got titles
and teaching certificates. She’s got
dreadlocks and baby bangs. She “writes
in the dark with an
exacto blade.”

I write by electric light.
I write with a black ink pen.

I am so soft core.
I am off the rack.
I’m the kind of drug
that requires no prescription.
I am midwestern.
I am milquetoast.
I’m the $6 matinee
with the conventional happy ending.
The one where the girl always gets
her guy.

That’s why they still call me sweetheart
no matter how cold my shoulder gets.

***

And I want to be one of the dark girls
one of the tough girls one of
the girls with the history and
the mystery and the dirty dirty laundry.

But I use too much bleach and salvation.

I want the heroin friends and
the industrial tour bus. I want the fan
girls and the band aids. I want
the suicide scars and the razorblade
haircut. I want the rollercoaster ride
after hours. I want the cigarette voice and
the whiskey fingers. I want some goddamn street cred.

I want to see her. I want
to be her.
No.
I want to be better
than she ever was.

-Lo, who has dreams of cultivating a cult fan base in Germany.

Marco

Mood: Cloudy
Drinking: Lipton’s

There is a poster
on the park bench
shouting your name
in 24 point bold.

This is how I find out you are gone.

[DENIAL]
Your picture stares out
smiling
like you did in the flesh
just four days ago
when you saw me walking
toward you up the path.
Except that was your real smile
the one that came before
you called me sweetheart
before you buried me
in a bear hug.

The smile on the poster
is professional.
Frozen for keeps now.
You are on display this way
wearing that horrible mintgreen jacket.
White hair all windtossed.
Nika laying at your feet.

The poster is streaked and
wrinkled with rain.

I make a scene without meaning to.

[ANGER]
This is what happens when you are dead.
The world does not end.
The clock does not stop.

Your friends raid your apartment
and take away your fake cherry TV tables.
Your melted pomegranate candles.
Your best glass serving platter.
Your broken dresser.
They take what they can use.
They take what they want.
The rest resides in a landfill.
The apartment still smells of smoke and dogs.
The apartment still smells of you.

[BARGAINING]
If I had never seen the poster
I’d never know you were gone.
I could still call you and
leave a message.
And wait for you to call me back.
In my head, you’d be sitting
in your chair smoking
your cheap cigars.
You would still be within reach.

[DEPRESSION]
I attend the memorial service.

Standing in the wind
fog boiling up over the cliff.
An unattractive redhead talks about
putting a plaque on the bench
so everyone will know it’s yours.
“I just have to come up with some words,”
she says.
I have a collection

of all the right words, but I

do not want to share.
Her makeup is made up
of hard crayola lines.
Her roots are gray and brown.

Your brothers are here and awkward.
The fat one, he sits like you.
Pleasantries are exchanged.
Everyone speaks in cliches.
The dogs are here, too.
And Nika. She is dull. Diminished.
She pushes her great dark head
against my leg, against any leg
in her path, just so someone
will reach down and touch her.
But no one is you.

They scatter your ashes

on top of the dunes.
The wind spits gray flecks
into my face.
I think that they should
have flung your pieces
out over the ocean.
Now you are landlocked.
Mixed in with the dust
and the dog shit.

I cannot stand for it.
But I do not move.

[ACCEPTANCE]
Today my friend got a bulldog
named Winston.
He’s one foot tall and fifty pounds.
He looks like a furry brown tank.
He leans against his collar
like a sled dog straining for speed.
He pulls her down the sidewalk as if
she were a featherweight.
As if she were nothing.
Someone should teach him how to heel.
I start to recommend that she call you.
And then I remember.

So I meet her, instead.

In the park, by your bench.
I show her how to gather the leash
just so. How to stand. How to command.

I am sure you would tell me
I’m doing it wrong.

But I’m just trying to keep you alive.

-Lo, wishing they had payphones in the afterlife.

“Like Christians at a suicide”

Mood: sort of Antichrist Superstar
Drinking: imaginary Absinthe

London Bridge

There were 19 in one year
who succeeded in falling
down.

It took some doing.

Because first they had to get there.
Had to find a spot in the lot.
Had to ride the bus.
Had to pay the fare.
It’s not like you just happen to end up
at the bridge on your way to the store.
You have to mean to be there.
You have to make a plan.
You have to navigate tourist traffic.
You have to walk out there on the span
and stare at Alcatraz. Watch the perfect little sailboats
bounce from wave to wave. Wait for wisps of fog
to float on by so you can get a good shot at the orange-red tower.

The experience is the main attraction.

You have to wonder if it was the first time for most
or had they done it all before? Did the urge to take a leap
just hit them in mid-stride or did they leave a note
before they left it all behind?

I want to know how hard it is to climb over the rail.

Does anyone ask you what you think you’re doing or
do they think it’s the perfect photo opp?
Do you take your time and make a scene
or do you rush into it, madly, like lovers at arrivals
with no eyes for anyone else.

At least you were somewhere really beautiful when you died.
You went out better than Marilyn.
Better than Elvis.
Falling down
down
down
beneath the blue-green waves
has got to be better than going out
with a bang. With a slice. With a swallow.
Hell, you don’t even have to string the rope,
tape the hose, close the door.
You just let go.

Maybe I’m giving you too much credit.
Maybe you’re just lazy.
Maybe it was all a misunderstanding.
An unfortunate accident somehow misconstrued as fate.
Maybe I make it all mean far too much.

After all, I’m the one standing safe
on the edge.
And you are the one falling down.

-Lo, who thinks that greeny absinthe color is really quite beautiful.

Waiting Rooms

Mood: Heavy eyelids
Drinking: Not enough water, I’m sure of it

No matter where I’m going or what I’m doing, I make it a habit to always, always, carry about some sort of writing utensil and something to write on. Sometimes I’m all organized and business-like and have my wicked little laptop along for the ride. Most of the time it’s the miniature comp book that hides in my bag. But sometimes, when I’m desperate, it’s the back of a bank envelope or napkin. Because I’ve realized that it’s disastrous to be caught unarmed. You never know when inspiration will come calling and you’ll need to take notes.

That’s how the previous post came about…I was stranded in one of those mandatory meetings that often happens when you collect your paycheck from some version of The Man. But I was prepared with paper and pen and began making a list of things I was waiting for.

And that reminded me of a silly little thing I wrote another time that I was stranded, waiting. This time it was in a doctor’s office. And I had my laptop along (that was back when it was all shiny and new and I took it absolutely everywhere). So I captured the whole experience as it so painstakingly unfolded.

So here’s a little Waiting Room for your viewing pleasure…

It’s a competition here
so we don’t look at one another
except to glare when someone
gets too close or stares too long
at your game of
solitaire.
The more people walk in the door to the left,
the more fierce the competition
to get in the door to the right.
We wordlessly jostle for the pole position.
We know who has been waiting the longest
and who is in the biggest hurry (that’s me)
and who can boast of the ugliest ailment.
The winner will be the first to get through that inner door.

A tall blonde walks in
but she is not one of the tempting ones.
She wears white ankle socks
and drags a dog behind–
an entirely unremarkable black colored lab
in a blue service jacket.
One of those special dogs that
supposedly opens doorknobs
and lets you know when Jimmy
has fallen down the well.
But this dog doesn’t do anything
except stand in the way and stare
and refuse to sit or lay or
do anything Anklesocks tells it to do.
And she explains to us all (we didn’t ask)
that the dog flunked out of seeing eye school
on the very first day and
I am not surprised.

But now everyone suddenly feels the need
to bond, to talk about it in those simpering
baby voices that people use
to talk to dogs and children and the very, very old.
The condescending googoo voices
that make you want to punch someone.

And I am in a punching mood.
Such a punching mood.

The room smells of sweat and
unwashed t-shirts
and the fat boy across the room
keeps on babbling to the reject guide dog
until even Anklesocks is annoyed and tries to
change the subject.

I’ve just decided that the fat boy and
the sour smell definitely go together when
he catches me staring.
He points across the room and squeals,
“Hey, a computer! Those things are good to have!”
I give him the look that I reserve for
special occasions, but he appears to be impervious.

I’ve been waiting here now for 30 minutes
and I’m not going to wait 30 more.
I’ve spent most of my life avoiding rooms like this one.
Pale and stale with uncomfortable chairs
and too many clammy bodies and hands.
I don’t have to be here. I could just get up and leave.

Except the nurse suddenly appears and is calling my name.

-Lo, who really has a good shot at being crowned Miss Anthrope of the USA.

Bored Now

Mood: Patient
Drinking: Snappley juice

i’m waiting for the perfect question.
The one that will turn all the tumblers
and set your secrets free.

i’m waiting for a sidewalk stranger
to scream my name from across the street.
i’m waiting for a warm rain.

i’m waiting for the darkness to get domesticated.
To lose its teeth. Velvet its paws.
i’m waiting for a window to open into an entirely new world.
i’m waiting for her to find her own bootstraps and give them a tug.
i’m waiting for the apocalypse to arrive with a blinding flash, with a roar.
(i expect it to come from behind.)

i’m waiting for my pen to stop bleeding.
i’m waiting for a subtle knife.
i’m waiting for that geriatric smell,
for the sudden onslaught of age spots, curlers
and paper skin.

i’m waiting for him
to send a long, hard look in my general direction.
i’m waiting for the sleeping pills to fail.
i’m waiting for this, too, to pass.

i’m waiting for her to stop talking.

(i’ve been waiting for quite awhile.)
i’m waiting for a train that runs beneath the ocean.
fish will fly by the windows
and deep sea divers will stare.
and we’ll reach out and grab strands
of greenish-blue kelp to wind in our hair.

i’m waiting for permission to scream.
i’m waiting for proof of spontaneous combustion.
i’m waiting for the wind to blow me over. i’ll know, then, that I am thin enough.

i’m waiting for the phone to ring with voices from beyond the grave.

i’m waiting for him to come on strong.
i’m waiting for an occasion with a dress code.
An excuse for tulle and a tiara.
i’m waiting for a microphone that’s just the right height.
i’m waiting for them to start playing my song.

i’m waiting for the voices in my head to say something nice.
i’m waiting for the right time to tell you it’s all gone horribly wrong.

i’m waiting for the medication to kick in.

i’m waiting for him to give me a reason to stay for the encore.
i’m waiting for her to blink so I can finally make my escape.
i’m waiting for a slow, slow death.

i’m waiting for the paint to dry so I can peel it off my nails.
i’m waiting for flu season to live up to the hype.
i’m waiting for fair play to turn about, already.

i’m waiting for the oxygen mask to drop
so I can show my rebel colors
and put yours on first.

i’m waiting for tall black boots with just the right amount of swagger.
i’m waiting for more men to start wearing makeup.
i’m waiting for her to make good on the threats.

i’m waiting for the Christians to say they were wrong.
(i’m waiting for icicles in hell.)

i’m waiting for my state to secede from the union.
i’m waiting for the Big One.

i’m waiting for my so-called-life to get an NC-17.
i’m waiting for the sun to burn out altogether.
i’m waiting for a crime of passion.

i’m waiting for him to give me a reason to give a shit.
i’m waiting for the pop stars to die off.
i’m waiting for her to make a mistake.

i’m waiting for inspiration to strike me dead.
(She’s always running late and forgetting the lightning bolts.)

i’m waiting for a mission to mars,
a ride to the moon,
an entirely uneventful spacewalk.

i’m waiting for him to admit that he did it.
i’m waiting for something to hold on to.
i’m waiting for the reunion tour so I can see just how fat she is in real life.
i’m waiting for shock treatment to come back in vogue.

i’m waiting for a ghost to materialize.

i’m waiting for the endorphins or amphetamines or
whatever will make this all worthwhile.
i’m waiting for it all to go on sale.
i’m waiting for my dog to speak.

i’m waiting for a burning bush.
i’ll also take a still, small voice.
a cloud, a dove.
Some kind of sign that’s sent from above.

i’m waiting for my eyesight to fail me completely while turning left at the light.
i’m waiting for the flavor of the month to be mine.
i’m waiting for reality to get less entertaining.
i’m waiting for her 15 minutes to finally expire.
i’m waiting for Jesus to get interesting again.
i’m waiting to get contagious.

i’m waiting for the final bell to toll so I can gather my skirts and run for the door.
i’m waiting for a confession of depression that has a happy ending.
i’m waiting for the check to clear the room.

i’m waiting for the bittersweet
to get a bit sweeter.

i’m waiting for the afterglow
to burn brighter.

i’m waiting for the dark horse
to lighten up.

i’m waiting for you to get the joke.

(This could take awhile…)

-Lo, who gets so very bored during long, pointless meetings.

Sterling Girl

Mood: Emotional Hangover
Drinking: Ruby’s Tasty Chai

This one is for Anna.

********************

She calls four times.
The cell phone.
The home phone.
And finally, she leaves a message.

“It’s me,” she says.
(caller ID beat her to it.)
She clears her throat.
She exhales smoke.
“Call me back when you get this,” she says.
“I don’t care what time. Just
can you please call me tonight?”
Her voice sounds funny.
Scratchy. Overworked.
Is she crying or just
smoking too much?

I wait for dinner and the Daily Show
before I call her back. (I didn’t
really think it was an emergency.)
She answers on the second ring and
I know then she was crying.

“My worst nightmare,” she says.
“He left me,” she says.
“He left me for some other girl.”
Her voice sounds dull.
Defeated. Dumped.

She tells me the seven-day
breakdown of the breakup
that started and ended on a Tuesday.
He started doing this
and then he acted like that
and “she” showed up and
it just kept getting worse.

I’ve retreated to my bedroom by now.
Shut out the comfortable noise of
my own security. Husband. Dog. TV.
I tell her I’m so sorry this happened.
I call him all kinds of names.

I say I’ll kick his ass and
scratch his eyes out.
I swear I’ll cut his balls off
and feed them to my dog.

It’s what you say, when you’re a friend.
It’s what you say when he turns out
to be the asshole you were afraid he might be
all along. It’s what you say, and you know
you don’t have to actually do it. But you
sure as hell better mean it.
And I do.

(He may not have been
my kind of guy
but he was hers.
He was hers, and that’s what matters.)

She was just here, last month.
We sat in this very room.
She was just here and
she was so happy. Her
voice was lilting.
Laughing. Giddy.

It was her first trip
to the Pacific but
when she saw the water
all blue to the very horizon
she said she wished he could see it, too.
So she wrote his name in the sand
and took a picture to prove he was there.

We walked all over Chinatown
to find him the perfect jade dragon.
Bright green and growling.
It’s gone now, she says.
“I made him take it.”

She’s pacing around her house now.
I can picture the tiny rooms
so perfectly in my head. She’s
standing in the living room,
counting DVDs. “He left one of his movies here,”
she tells me. “The Score.
It’s a guy movie. I don’t want it.”

I’m not saying much now.
I’m picking at the fuzz on my bedspread
and wishing I knew how to comfort her better.
Wish I could wave a wand to make it all go away.
(I wished the same thing in sixth grade
in the funeral home. But
I couldn’t work magic for her then, either.)

So I sit here with her, two thousand miles away.
I let her go on with her lists. I let her get it all out.
She goes through the games to see what’s gone missing.
“I can’t believe it,” she says.
“He took Tetris. He took Tetris!”
(But I know it’s not Tetris she really
wants back.)

She tells me her son cried when
he said he was leaving. He cried “No, No, No!”
(I mutter curses in the x’s general direction
and think about hunting him down.)
And her daughter, she just said
nothing at all. But she cooked her mom dinner.
“I couldn’t eat it. I can’t eat anything.
But I think I’ve smoked
a whole pack since he left,” she says.

He just left a few hours ago.
He took his clothes, his shoes.
He took his toolbox, but
her screwdriver was in it.
He kept saying he was sorry,
he was sorry. So sorry.

He went down to the basement
and took his bike away.
He took his movies and games.
His collection of beer bottles, too,
even the one she and I bought
just down the street from here.
The San Francisco beer.

“He took his pillow, too.”
She’s in the bedroom now,
but she can hardly look at the bed.
“What he doesn’t know is that I’ve
been crying into that pillow for the last
five days,” she laughs but her voice
sounds bitter. Broken. Numb.

“He’ll sleep on my tears,” she says softly.
“I wonder if I should tell him that.”

********************

-Lo, who wears boots big enough to kick that guy’s ass in real life, if given the opportunity!

Of Sprees and Spotlights

Mood: Pretty Damn Tough and Balmy
Drinking: Crystal Geyser, oh so delicious

It’s a balmy November afternoon, and if you’re going to ask how November can be balmy, you really must remember that I live in California. None of that snow-covered-climate business for me. Not anymore!

Anyway, it’s balmy and it’s sunny and there’s just the right amount of wind. It’s one of those days when you might start to think that you can jump off tall cliffs and float. Which is to say, you feel invincible. I don’t feel exactly invincible at the moment, since I’ve just consumed an entire roll of crunchy and delicious rainbow Sprees. So there’s a bit of a stomachache rolling in, and it’s enough to knock me down off of my uppity invincible pedestal. But it’s only knocked me down one level, down to pretty damn tough. So I’m feeling pretty damn tough and balmy all at once and apparently that is enough reason for a girl to get on her blog and babble incessantly.

Hey, I never promised that this thing would be all eloquent and erudite or anything. You get what you get, and that’s all I’m gonna promise you.

I could tell you about how I recorded several versions of a poem whilst locked in a closet last night. How about that? OK, i wasn’t exactly “locked in”, but it was a closet. There were also big fat headphones and a fancy silver mic and one of those black filter circles that keeps your p’s and t’s and s-es from shattering eardrums. It was all very high-tech, without the whole studio glass scene. M and little C were there to make sure I was emoting effectively. And big C was there to be the techie-guy. (I’m not sure why I started referring to all the people in my life by their initials on this thing, but it’s bound to be confusing when you’ve got two C’s in one sentence. Bother!)

I recorded a poem called “freezerburn”. She’s not all that new–i wrote her about a year ago, and she’s not my favorite little poemtree, but she’s decent enough. And she’s the guinea pig for this spoken word video thing that we’re in the midst of. I spent lots of time last night whispering and yelling and just reading it straight. During the yelling part, I was going for a “sexy anger”, as M and C instructed me. But really I was just violently waving my arms about and screeching. It was very cathartic.

I could record poems all day long, really. It’s very fun. And it makes me miss performing. There’s not much about the old Chicago suburb days that I truly miss, but getting up on a big wide stage and performing my little poems was a definite high point. I didn’t mind the spotlight one bit, no matter how hot and sweaty it made me get. Guess i’ve just got to make do with other spotlights now.

Speaking of spotlights, here’s a virtual one:
http://www.sorryeverybody.com.
(You might be able to find a picture of me, Boy and Dog in gallery, say, #188, if you look hard enough.)

-Lo, who’s really not all that sexy when she’s angry.