A friend asked how I was doing,
and through the pain and anger I replied
that all is well and all is fine
and I have not yet lost my mind,
but sinking ships have much in common
with the man by whom the ships draw near,
an island in the ocean to crash the ships
a grave at sea, a curtain-veiled fear.
A friend asked how I was doing,
and I lied,
just like last time.
love is a storm at sea
leaving me lost and alone
surrounded by something
I thought would never hurt me
and your cyanide lips
burnt in a way
that I could never resist
addictive wounds, inflicted by you
love is a quest of who can win
your heart first
me or him?
I'm losing, I'm falling behind
love is a game of how many
can you lead victim
to your locked up heart
but open lips
so free willed, so meaningless
each kiss to you
is nothing more
than brushing skin
each kiss to me
is a painful sin
like letting myself in
to Hell's open door
it is like opening the walls of my heart
making myself your willing victim
allowing you to make your way
and tear out all my vital veins
so that I feel nothing
nothing but you
inside of my heart, blood and being
but that's nothing new
your nonchalant ways
are driving me insane with
sadness, happiness and jealousy
the rage and fire of your being
the only thing that occupies
my mind and my heart
and I will tell you just one more thing
I wish I was inside of you too
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez room. It was not a heavy frost, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.
He had moved to California with his mother, father, and three brothers 35 years ago. Henry's father, born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, had traveled across the Meixcan border on a bent, full jalopy with his wife, Betria Gonzalez and their three kids. They were all mostly babies then and none of the brothers claimed to remember anything of the ride, except one, Leo, recalled there was "A lotta dust in the car." Santiago Oldez, San for short, had fought in World War II and died of cancer ten years later. San drank most nights and smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day. Henry had never heard his father talk about the fighting or the war. If he was lucky to hear anything, it would have been when San was dead drunk, talking to himself mostly, not paying very much attention to anyone except his memories and his music.
"San loved two things in this world," Henry would say, "Booze and Johnny Cash."
Betria Gonzalez grew up in Tijuana, Mexico as well. She was a stout, short woman, wide but with pretty eyes and a mess of orange golden hair. Betria could talk to anyone about anything. Her nick names were the conversationalist or the old crow because she never found a reason to stop talking. Santiago had met her through a friend of a friend. After a couple of dates, they were married. There is some talk of a dispute among the two families, that they didn't agree to the marriage and that they were too young, which they probably were. Santiago being Santiago, didn't listen to anybody, only to his heart. They were married in a small church outside of town overlooking the Pacific. Betria told the kids that the waves thundered and crashed against the rocks that day and the sea looked endless. There were no pictures taken and only three people were at the ceremony: Betria, San, and the priest.
Of course, the four boys went to elementary and high school, and, of course, none of them went to college. One brother moved down to LA and eventually started working for a law firm doing their books. Another got married at 18 years old and was in and out of the house until getting under the wing of the union, doing construction and electrical work for the city. The third brother followed suit. Henry Oldez, after high school, stayed put. Nothing in school interested him. Henry only liked what he could get into after school. The people of the streets were his muse, leaving him with the tramps, the dealers, the struggling restaurateurs, the laundry mat hookers, the crooked cops and the addicts, the gang bangers, the bible humpers, the window washers, the jesus freaks, the EMT's, the old ladies pushing salvation by every bus stop, the guy on the corner and the guy in the alley, and the DOA's. Henry didn't have much time for anyone else after all of them.
Henry looked at himself in the mirror. The light was off and the room was dim. Sunlight streaked in through the dusty blinds from outside, reflecting into the mirror and onto Henry's face. He was short, 5' 2'' or 5' 3'' at most with stubby, skinny legs, and a wide, barrel shaped chest. He examined his face, which was a ravine of wrinkles and deep crows feet. His eyes were sunken and small in his head. Somehow, his pants were always one or two inches below his waistline, so the crack of his ass would constantly be peeking out. Henry's deep, chocolate colored hair was that of an ancient Native American, long and nearly touched the tip of his belt if he stood up straight. No one knew how long he had been growing it out for. No one knew him any other way. He would comb his hair incessantly: before and after a shower, walking around the house, watching television with Betria on the couch, talking to friends when they came by, and when he drove to work, when he had it.
Normal work, nine to five work, did not work for Henry. "I need to be my own boss," he'd say. With that fact stubbornly put in place, Henry turned to being a handy man, a roofer, and a pioneer of construction. No one knew where he would get the jobs that he would get, he would just have them one day. And whenever he 'd finish a job, he'd complain about how much they'd shorted him, soon to move on to the next one. Henry never had to listen to anyone and, most of the time, he got free lunches out of it. It was a very strange routine, but it worked for him and Betria had no complaints as long as he was bringing some money in and keeping busy. After Santiago died, she became the head of the house, but really let her boys do whatever they wanted.
Henry took a quick shower and blow dried his hair, something he never did unless he was in a hurry. He had a job in the east bay at a sorority house near the Berkley campus. At the table, still in his pajamas, he ate three leftover chicken thighs, toast, and two over easy eggs. Betria was still in bed, awake and reading. Henry heard her two dogs barking and scratching on her bedroom door. He got up as he combed his damp hair, tugging and straining to get each individual knot out. When he opened the door, the smaller, thinner dog, Boy Boy, shot under his legs and to the front door where his toy was. The fat, beige, pig-like one waddled out beside Henry and went straight for its food bowl.
"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.
Betria looked at Henry over her glasses, "You eat already?"
"Yep," he announced, "Got to go to work." He tugged on a knot.
"That's good. Dondé?" Betria looked back down at her spanish TV guide booklet.
"Berkley somewhere," Henry said, bringing the comb smoothly down through his hair.
"That's good, that's good."
"OK!" Henry sighed loudly, shutting the door behind him. He walked back to the dinner table and finished his meal. Then, Betria shouted something from her room that Henry couldn't hear.
"What?" yelled Henry, so she could hear him over the television. She shouted again, but Henry still couldn't hear her. Henry got up and went back to her room, dirty dish in hand. He opened her door and looked at her without saying anything.
"Take the dogs out to pee," Betria told him, "Out the back, not the front."
"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.
"Come on you dogs," Henry mumbled, dropping his dish in the sink. Betria always did everyones dishes. She called it "her exercise."
Henry let the two dogs out on the lawn. The sun was curling up into the sky and its heat had melted all of the frost on the lawn. Now, the grass was bright green and Henry barely noticed the dark brown dead spots. He watched as the fat beige one squatted to pee. It was too fat to lifts its own leg up. The thing was built like a tank or a sea turtle. Henry laughed to himself as it looked up at him, both of its eyes going in opposite directions, its tongue jutted out one corner of his mouth. Boy boy was on the far end of the lawn, searching for something in the bushes. After a minute, he pulled out another one of his toys and brought it to Henry. Henry picked up the neon green chew toy shaped like a bone and threw it back to where Boy boy had dug it out from. Boy boy shot after it and the fat one just watched, waddling a few feet away from it had peed and laid down. Henry threw the toy a couple more times for Boy boy, but soon he realized it was time to go.
"Alright!" said Henry, "Get inside. Gotta' go to work." He picked up the fat one and threw it inside the laundry room hallway that led to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Boy boy bounded up the stairs into the kitchen. He didn't need anyone lifting him up anywhere. Henry shut the door behind them and went to back to his room to get into his work clothes.
Henry's girlfriend was still asleep and he made sure to be quiet while he got dressed. Tia, Henry's girlfriend, didn't work, but occasionally would put up garage sales of various junk she found around town. She was strangely obsessed with beanie babies, those tiny plush toys usually made up in different costumes. Henry's favorite was the hunter. It was dressed up in camouflage and wore an eye patch. You could take off its brown, polyester hat too, if you wanted. Henry made no complaint about Tia not having a job because she usually brought some money home somehow, along with groceries and cleaning the house and their room. Betria, again, made no complain and only wanted to know if she was going to eat there or not for the day.
A boat sized bright blue GMC sat in the street. This was Henry's car. The stick shift was so mangled and bent that only Henry and his older brother could drive it. He had traded a new car stereo for it, or something like that. He believed it got ten miles to the gallon, but it really only got six or seven. The stereo was the cleanest piece of equipment inside the thing. It played CD's, had a shoddy cassette player, and a decent radio that picked up all the local stations. Henry reached under the seat and attached the radio to the front panel. He never left the radio just sitting there in plain sight. Someone walking by could just as soon as put their elbow into the window, pluck the thing out, and make a clean 200 bucks or so. Henry wasn't that stupid. He'd been living there his whole life and sure enough, done the same thing to other cars when he was low on money. He knew the tricks of every trade when it came to how to make money on the street.
On the road, Henry passed La Rosa, the Mexican food mart around the corner from the house. Two short, tanned men stood in front of a stand of CD's, talking. He usually bought pirated music or movies there. One of the guys names was Bertie, but he didn't know the other guy. He figured either a customer or a friend. There were a lot of friends in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other somehow. From the bars, from the grocery, from the laundromat, from the taco stands or from just walking around the streets at night when you were too bored to stay inside and watch TV. It wasn't usually safe for non-locals to walk the streets at night, but if you were from around there and could prove it to someone that was going to jump you, one could usually get away from losing a wallet or an eyeball if you had the proof. Henry, to people on the street, also went as Monk. Whenever he would drive through the neighborhood, the window open with his arm hanging out the side, he would usually hear a distant yell of "Hey Monk!" or "What's up Monk!". Henry would always wave back, unsure who's voice it was or in what direction to wave, but knowing it was a friend from somewhere.
There was heavy traffic on the way to Berkley and as he waited in line, cursing his luck, he looked over at the wet swamp, sitting there beside highway like a dead frog. A few scattered egrets waded through the brown water, their long legs keeping their clean white bodies safe from the muddy water. Beyond the swamp laid the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco sat there too: still, majestic, and silver. Next to the city, was the Bay Bridge stretched out over the water like long gray yard stick. Henry compared the Golden Gate's beauty with the Bay Bridge. Both were beautiful in there own way, but the Bay Bridge's color was that of a gravestone, while the Golden Gate's color was a heavy red, that made it seem alive. Why they had never decided to pain the Bay Bridge, Henry had no idea. He thought it would look very nice with a nice coat of burgundy to match the Golden gate, but knew they would never spend the money. They never do.
After reeling through the downtown streets of Berkley, dodging college kids crossing the street on their cell phones and bicyclists, he finally reached the large, A-frame house. The house was lifted, four or five feet off the ground and you had to walk up five or seven stairs to get to the front door. Surrounded by tall, dark green bushes, Henry knew these kids had money coming from somewhere. In the windows hung spinning colored glass and in front of the house was an old-timey dinner bell in the shape of triangle. Potted plants lined the red brick walkway that led to the stairs. Young tomatoes and small peas hung from the tender arms of the stems leaf stalks. The lawn was manicured and clean. "Must be studying agriculture or something," Henry thought, "Or they got a really good gardener."
He parked right in front of the house and looked the building up and down, estimating how long it would take to get the old shingles off and the new one's on. Someone was up on the deck of the house, rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. He listened to the creaking wood of the chair and the deck, judging it would take him two days for the job. Henry knew there was no scheduled rain, but with the Bay weather, one could never be sure. He had worked in rain before - even hail - and it never really bothered him. The thing was, he never strapped himself in and when it would rain and he was working roofs, he was afraid to slip and fall. He turned his truck off, got out, and locked both of the doors. He stepped heavily up the walkway and up the stairs. The someone who was rocking back and forth was a skinny beauty with loose jean shorts on and a thick looking, black and red plaid shirt. She had long, chunky dread locks and was smoking a joint, blowing the smoke out over the tips of the bushes and onto the street. Henry was no stranger to the smell. He smoked himself. This was California.
Standing in smoky shadows.
The creature lurks.
It's name is worry.
Laced with fury.
Morning mists descend.
Becoming mind concealing fog.
Pain in fingers, burning icy pain.
With breath so much warmer than the air,
Which it surrounds.
Engulfing the faces of all things around.
Lost in the gloomy shadows so dense.
As haar raises over the sea on the coast.
Waiting to snare a victim.
Too lose a being in a villainous crime.
Only crime is depression.
Leads to death in sorrow.
Depression catches and snatches.
Stealing all tomorrows.
© 2013 ladylivvi1 (All rights reserved)
My internal world does not match the exterior
I open my eyes and the flourishing trees
Are bare and shivering
Your face has grown old, years of pain,
Yet I did not see it change.
Your prickly chin now rest above my head
Now hung in dispare, trying to disconnect the past;
The pain you bring is the pain I create
The tides don't pull when I'm not by the sea
The rain doesn't fall when I can't feel the tears of the sky
The wind doesn't sing when I don't feel the rush
The sun doesn't shine when I'm locked in the dark
And my heart doesn't best when it does not belong to you.
I dream about them sometimes.
A fold for an eyelash, crooked tooth, white hair;
A beak for a fingertip, heart-shaped mole, rough elbow;
A wing for an expression, idea, stifled laugh;
A neck for a spasm, brutally honest letter, sleeping breath.
I hold tightly to my chest the first of the two paper cranes [Loss and Love, respectively]. It calls back to her brothers and sisters at (our) home. At times, the sound would be so painful, I would banish it to the farthest recesses of my room, between book and shirt, away from light and butterflies.
But her cage is an illusion.
Paper is as fragile as the heart, and the older it gets the more brittle it becomes. Then, she would fit nicely through the bars.
One tiny (paper) tear for a missed celebration, stifled sob, empty rib cage.
I can see them all now, simply by knowing how long this one waited for them to come.
Their destination is an illusion. You could scatter them across the sea and they would all find refuge at the bottom of our ocean.
I still fold to this day, and wonder if you still do, too.
There lies the vast longing to be engulfed in suspension,
to lose one’s orientation in search of the true unknown
for salt waves that lick the skin clean and blunt
the sleek lines of the face.
It takes a while to ebb a whiteness into the hardness of time.
It is said that in flames,
the body forgets it is vertical on a stake
and the head is anywhere but above the shoulders;
that in cleansing with fire the skin turns red
then, in an instant, chars to black.
They say there are two ways to cleanse oneself:
while white is the color of salt-dried purity,
black is the color of fiery clean.
In the end, after the fire brittles our bones,
all we throw into the sea is gray dust.
You said my name today
And it brought me back to life.
It snapped me out of panic,
A state of complete and utter disorientation.
Your voice among a sea of screams
Scattered all my insecurities among the shadows.
I never realized how six simple letters
Could sound so much like a symphony,
With the beautiful hum of the bass
And the quaint flutter of the winds.
You woke me from my thoughts of sleep,
Though I can’t tell if they’re dreams or nightmares
When you’re in them.
Like a child enlightened by heightened curiosity,
So is a native swimmer by poetic luminosity.
A prose in sight and sound devoid of modern flair,
For poetic convention the diver does not care.
So, take this vague verse as one roaring rhyme,
And take it as verbiage very overdue in time.
Unjustly sunken voices the swimmer seeks to hear;
Battling a torrent history...above, below, and near.
The inquisitive diver infers a present too dismal,
As around an angry sea lies an origin, abysmal.
Rejecting all fables history’s abettors inked true,
The swimmer seeks fair chroniclers as wreckage was their due.
Sought is Illyria, a place far from here;
A land said "not to exist", so how can it disappear?
Most fabricated history our beings cannot fathom;
Quelled grandiose splendor serves political stratum.
So, how does one interpret Illyria’s butchered will,
As her godless schism fibbing history faux fills?
While Illyria’s rebel ship sailed upon history a fright,
Shakespeare's pen amorously inked the 'Twelfth Night.’
Calling curious minds to ponder this hell of a theory,
But consider the diver's roots with impartial query.
What the Illyrian believed in was a life well spent;
Not man-written guidance begging cents to repent.
On modern Illyria’s outskirts sly mythology prevails;
Modern Illyria’s pervasion of such mythology still fails.
But her feeble-minded native is essentially to blame
For their grand, deceptive role in the imperialist’s game.
Brutal eradication of Illyria’s vocal reason
Deem all these conspirators of ultimate treason.
And as the State buries the intellect for piercing wits,
The native dog barks, upon foreign command he shits.
In the European south roam these bad hounds of species;
Anatomical sketches of Europe's rear excreting feces;
A pile all imperialists eject with laxative ease;
A pile all imperialists still smear as they please.
Above Illyrian graves, those below made to inspire,
The dopey dog dances, blind to his own fate in fire.
This damned work of art, not a site for you and eye,
Is an emblematic governance gagging an eerie cry.
The dog's disintegration, painted by his foreign master
Is an art to be repeated in future governing disaster.
As today’s worthless pawns in corruption they engage,
Illyria’s distinctive scions remain fools on a stage;
Our bodies dance and sway like silly puppets at play.
Our minds confined to idiocy as the capitalist’s prey.
Now, a poet's jingle jangle on probing minds they should linger,
As besought are worthy scions who must leave behind a 'finger.'
If life is a building
With infinite floors
We are on the same level
Behind the same door
If love is a book
With every single name
We are right beside each other
On the same page
We are corresponding wavelengths Synchronized swimmers
Through the sea of dreams
We were radio static in a storm
Until we turned each other's dials and
Tuned in to one another
Beneath Us We will plant Our seeds
Letting roots flow together from Our feet
Above Us there is room to grow
Our limbs will stretch for all to know
We are one, and
We have won
We will lay bricks
As stable foundation
Become masters of masonry
Without building a wall between
You will no longer ache
With anger in Your bones
You will not feel so weak
Or scared and alone
We will not let these monsters
Rest inside You
Only to escape and
Paint Your face red with streaks
If We are crying
It's because We are overcome by happiness and
It's overwhelming and
We are overjoyed and
Other positive 'over' words
We will always be each other's
Shoulders to soak
We are a simultaneous song
Sung by sirens
To draw Us into one another
Chanting and charming Our souls
Thank the temptress
For showing me a goddess
I was a sinking ship
Waving flags of distress
Until I was brought to
The beauty of You
Your heavenly body
Heart beating beside me
My majestic marvelous moon