Slumber Rumblings

I stand in the January evening
enjoying a rare solitary cigarette
at the base of my stairwell.
Everyone's your friend in Beacon
if you've got a pack to share.
Truth be told I never mind.
It leads to conversation, stimulation
of the brain, signals shot
to nerve endings reminding you
that there's more to it
than where the rent will come from
next month and how your father
sleeps at night.
The homeless, a laid-off neighbor
some slob walking home from
a minimum wage job--
they all stop and share a story
for the mere price of fifty cents.
It's a bargain on both ends.

A boy about my age
walks a woman to her door
on the opposite side of the street.
His plaid flannel shirt clashes with
his sneakers, the air temperature
collides with his words in the form of
steam pouring from his mouth
to accompany his desperate plea.
"Tonight was nice. Maybe I'll see
you again sometime."

The lie is coming. He's too jaded
and cocksure to see it, but it's there.
Thousands of years of perfected rejection
escape her lips like it has from her mother's
at one time or another
and her mother's mother's and every
combination of possessives therein.
"Yeah," she says with a shiver in her voice
implying that goodbyes should be brief.
The world's limpest hug ensues as I suck on my
Marlboro, grateful to be out of the hellish
woods of first-dating. I flick my butt and walk upstairs
leaving the stinking scene to play itself out
like a fire the gods have pissed on for kicks.

There's a glass half-full of water
waiting on my coffee table when I enter
my apartment. It's been there for days.
It isn't mine. I smile and hang my coat up
right next to my holsters
feeling blessed to be defeated
by someone other than myself.


Take Her Home, Old Man

The eggs Benedict try their hardest to settle
their greasy hollandaise place within my stomach
as I approach the red light
trying not to let my bald tires skid
on the cold and wet macadam.
A series of cars comes crawling by
in the opposite lane
led by a hearse and a limousine.
Minivans, luxury sedans, economy subcompact
commuter death-traps, and contractor grade
pick-up trucks roll by in the procession
all clearly designated with flags that say
'Funeral' on the red and white-crossed rectangles
fastened to their rooves via magnets.
There are loosened ties, one stiff white collar
on a priest paid overtime, and see-through scarves
on see-through women. Most of the faces
are pensive, if not utterly anguished.
I'm too far to notice tears through the
trails of neutral rain, but there must
be some there. Dying is a change
that most people can't handle.

My heel taps against the
floormat in tune to the beat of my stereo
while the ball of my foot holds the brake.
Then a car comes along with four happy passengers
who would seem to be regurgitating a performance's
best jokes on their way home from a comedy club
if that dismal flag wasn't fastened to their vehicle.
The light turns green in the corner of my eye
and I roll on to face the day and what it may bring
of my grandmother's fate in the hospital
suddenly comforted by the fact that at least
four folks know what it is to die well:
A celebration of having lived at all.

Both Jonesin' for a Spoon

This nagging half-sickness finally comes in handy.
One stuffed nostril wakes me from my dream.
My partner in crime was trying his hardest
to convince me to enter an underground tunnel
we found in a seedy back alley somewhere.
I had to remind him that I'd been the voice
of reason since we first met in fourth grade
and that my blood had not been kissed
by the unfairly annointed good luck of the Irish.
Oh, and we were Ghostbusters. The slumbering
plumber shows his age through his heroes
as well as a touch of ironic desire.

A few hours later I call him to check
what he wanted to tell me at one in the morning:
that his meeting went well, that he loves me for caring
that he's trying his hardest to do the right thing.

For him that means waking up before noon
without the wrong person or belt on his arm.
I know that he'll make it, he knows that he has to
since this kind of chance doesn't beg when it knocks.
There's hope for the homeless, scripts for the addicts
and perhaps, if played right, some love for the lost.
If we can both rise from our pasts in this town
with a moat and a bridge and our saints to protect us
then maybe it's not too far-fetched to say
that our ghosts, like our trade, have limited days.


Dust, Shame, and the Dinner We Made

The disappointment on her face doesn't require much reading between the lines to decipher. As soon as I walk in it's present and stronger than ever. She flicks her wrist in my general direction, trying not to seem too affected by my presence. It's an ongoing battle of wits which I'm ashamed to admit I'm losing.

Not much can faze me these last few days, though. Even a hard day of work with barely any sleep after three bottles of wine hasn't rattled my cloud. There's a reason to hope the hall doesn't call with that out-of-town job that had my fingers crossed for so long. It's good to have reasons.

"You blew it, didn't you?" her countenance asks accusingly, thinking she knows the answer. If hatred could be bottled this gal would make me rich.

"Chill out," I say with an unpeelable smirk that's been greeting the recent minor misfortunes unscathed. "It's not what you think."

She shifts her weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other and turns her eyes away. My words, as usual, won't convince her to stop being negative. In an effort to seem disinterested she angles her head toward the wall, but I can feel her dark eyes burning their way through my skin.

"And to think I let you touch me last night," I hear under her breath. My apparent failure to bring an acceptable guest again has her disgust running rampant. "Go light your Mexican saint candles, loser. One of them has to work."

I laugh at the over-ambitious attack on what's left of my dignity. This only infuriates her more. She hops into the hidden portion of her cage and scratches at the bedding as if it owes her money. Even though I'm chipper I'd rather not be accosted by her claws. The opportunity to feed her while she's preoccupied is graciously seized. Never pet a burning dog. Never tempt a spiteful rabbit.

As soon as she notices the food she returns to the visible portion of her cage. My job here is done, I've fed my furry charge, I turn and walk toward the door. I swear I hear mention of hoping she isn't right about the fate of her new friend. When I spin back around she's chewing furiously with a blade of hay twitching in her mouth like a misfit's cigarette.

"Goodnight, you," I tell her before closing the door.

The scent on the pillowcase brings me sweet dreams. There are worse things than waiting to drift off entwined.


One Lump or Two?

I must've been thirteen, fourteen
when the novelty first struck.
Shaving was new to me, and so was
that Gillette I still use to this day.
Dull blades and hackjobs
led to stinging nicks
that wouldn't stop bleeding
without bits of tissue.
Physical pain was worse
in those days, the other kind
only a seedling.

There must've been some secret, I thought
other than going down first
which has also paid off in spades.
Like much of the world
it didn't make sense.
For some reason then
it seemed wise to inquire.

"Dad, when do you throw
it out?" I asked, suddenly aware
that those mysterious black circles
on the vanity which had baffled me
since early childhood
were the result of his not wiping
the stubbly puddles when he was done.
"To be honest, when it starts to get rough."

My phone still hasn't rang.
Maybe that's what happened.


Clandestine Arrangements of the Strictly Fictional Variety

Grace sucked cock like a scientist. There was always an air of professionalism about it, always some level of unbiased sanctity. Whether or not Harry was going to come, let alone how hard, did not seem to be an issue that crossed her mind when she was down in her lab. Each upstroke was an experiment in the name of cold pleasure, every drop of saliva an earnest attempt at keeping her subject aroused-- in this case the prick itself, not the one attached to it. Only a fool would try to stop her while the quota of her mouth was being filled.

Despite the base simplicity there were some rules to their game. Grace was a rare breed still too shy to strip naked with the lights blaring down, but to fellate was to live and life was to be seen. She'd rip his shorts off within seconds of entering the bedroom. Thankfully, and as an uncommon blessing from the ghosts of gods, he didn't have time to trip over his words before she was off to the races. Reaching for the light switch was a task too hard to venture. The edges of the mattress served as handlebars since her arms, her shoulders, the back of her bobbing head felt out of the question. That was too intimate. That showed attachment. There could be no mistake as to what Grace was doing. Hers was not a labor of love, but an acute fascination with phallus that caught Harry in its headlights. He didn't mind the little death, as the hated French called it. There were still some things worth suffering for and her lips were on that list. Sometimes.

Even in his pre-orgasmic state he often felt bad for something that he couldn't see: a remote possibility of having anything other than shallow sex with her. It was vain to think that she wanted more and he recalled her laughing at the mention of his guilt, but didn't all women yearn to be exclusive? The only thing specific to Grace's time below was the fact that she approached it unlike anyone he'd seen: a veritable pragmatist on her knees before the altar of unrequited lust. It could be any day that the saints would march in. Harry was to tumble down to darkest hell regardless. He was sure that its soundtrack would be laced with the voices of angels from a life too innocent to recognize as ever being his own. Thank God they couldn't see him now, at least not in the flesh.

When the lights and her pants finally went off there was a shift in roles and power. It was his show then, a rod to give a pounding. It was the one thing left that he could do whereas she, like the rest, had lowered herself through his loins. No longer was there any misconception over motives. When Harry came he told her by sprinkling on her bush. If her tonsils were the target he'd fetch a beverage afterward. The chivalry ended there, though, since a walk down called for dressing. Grace hung up her lab coat and proceeded to the stairwell. The passing through of doors left her instantly transmuted into every woman he'd already had and none he wanted to meet again.

If you're wondering who Harry is I can say he does the same.


Stable Mate Conundrum

I can be selfless.
I can be shallow.
I can be told when to throw in the towel.

You can be ruthless.
You can be sage.
You can be happy with me off the page.

We can be lovers.
We can be friends.
We can be tricked into making amends.

I can be selfish.
I can suck marrow.
I can remember when all hips were narrow.