2
9 0 9

The Purple House

Love

Eros came out of heaven,

dressed in a purple cape

—Sappho

 

My house drives like a big purple Valiant with the suspension of a kids’ jumping castle. Floating is not an issue. We go many miles but move not an inch. I am sitting at my desk, typing. Deanna sits on the couch behind me, facing the other way, listening to music. The child in her belly is mine; this is supposedly a fact. But I'm in no way certain that it is. It’s not an issue of infidelity. No. It’s just a novel event, defying assimilation.

     There is no way to broach this appropriately... 

     …Even if I wanted to, which I don’t…

     The house seems to hit a few potholes. The ride is still pretty smooth and easy to take in. The walls are beige. The curtains are a different shade of beige. We've not hung much from the walls as yet, but there is one painting that sits directly in front of my desk. It's an abstract, and it conjures, for me, what the sight of a torn mind might look like, like a skull busted or shot open—blasted, blood-mottled black hair and splattered brain, lashes of dark universe and a spot of brilliant light, like the victim was killed at the very moment of conceiving the thought which might’ve saved the world. Dashed by unfortunate timing.

      Typical.

      'I'm going to the corner shop, do you want anything?' Deanna asks, suddenly appearing by my side and bumping her pregnant belly into me. I look up, she's smiling angelically, on the precipice of a laugh; the half-eclipsed ceiling light haloing her beautiful face. Thoughts and a feeling of bravado toward saving the world come to me, now, then rush away again in an instant, into the purple mood of the house.

      Typical.

      ‘No, I’m fine,’ I say. She leans in to kiss me. The house suddenly hits freeway. We are driving on clouds suspended on packets of air. I’m spinning my marshmallow wheels, accelerating. 

1
3 0 3

Partial To Their Perfect Parts

(why
who)
draws
points 
with
infinite
stars (i
wonder
since
i’m
partial
to
their
perfect
parts) 

2
1 0 1

1
1 0 1

the shadow of the spotlight

he always stood in the shadow
of his older brother.
never able to outshine him
because he wasn't as blessed,
athletically, as his sibling.

the elder moved on,
graduating into life,
as life takes us into her grim reality.

the younger saw his chance,
his opportunity,
and he worked hard to put himself
in the best place,
in order to be the one to shine.

concentrating and working
shaping and reshaping
tearing down and building
constantly rebuilding
until everything was right...
...or so he thought.

early on,
it appeared as though
it would be enough,
but he was finally run down
and beaten.

his place in the team...
lost
torn away
taken

not because he didn't work hard enough
not because if politics
not because he doesn't deserve it
but because he just wasn't fast enough

so now he runs with a chip on his shoulder
working that much harder
working that much longer
working that much more
to earn that spot back
and to get that spotlight back on him, again.

1
7 0 7

Sixth Grade At Recess

the girls all played hopscotch and four square
while us men played kick ball
and chewed beach-nut wintergreen
i swallowed that shit when danny albrecht hit me in the back
on the way to first
i never did like that asshole

 

2
7 0 7

A Toast for Your Wedding

the two of you make me want to believe in love. you’ve told me how you make each other feel, and by god, that’s great, but hearing it is one thing. i want to feel it. i want to believe it. i need to believe it.

i want to be believe that people are able to love despite distance and appearances and every other petty thing that comes in the way of really, truly knowing and appreciating someone. i want to believe that love transcends all boundaries and is an all-encompassing, unapologetic force that wrecks cities and moves mountains and shakes the ground. i want proof, proof that love is a natural disaster separating the earth beneath our feet. i can’t possibly know or believe or sing the praises of love without that. i need to be able to stand up passionately and push over chairs in a fit of rage in the middle of a dinner party because other people just don’t understand what i’m talking about.

love has never been all-consuming with or for me. i’ve never wanted to spend the rest of my life with someone because i felt like i would perish the instant they left my side. i’ve never needed to hear someone’s voice to know that somehow, the world was still turning. i’ve never relied on anyone else for comfort in my darkest hours that i could not provide to myself.

all i’ve known of love is the fleeting moments, like waking up before the person lying next to you does and feeling that quivering smile creep up your face because god damn, they are beautiful. like kissing the eyelashes of someone who you’ve just met, although you swear you could ghostwrite their entire life biography because the way they look at you through those eyelashes is something that only you can dictate. like running your fingertips along the bare skin of your lover, tracing out words and promises you wish you could keep, knowing that they’ll never be able to translate your touch.

i imagine that in those moments i’m falling in love, i’m feeling love, i’m knowing what love is and what its favorite color is and how it likes its eggs and if it will like it better if i wear the floral skirt or the jeans that make my body look like it’s good enough to be eaten breakfast off of. those moments fade quickly, too quickly, and i’m left again with just the uncontrollable want that no person or thing has ever managed to suffice.

in my experience, love is the most beautiful person at the party, the same person who kept its lips closed when i introduced myself. i found love alone in a darkened room, moonlight illuminating its profile. so many times i tried to initiate a conversation. i bought this dress because i heard that you adore the color, love. or hey love, did you hear that so and so is playing at the so and so because i know you’re into their last album. despite my attempts, love turned on its heel and walked through the doorway toward a larger concentration of people. at the most, i’ve overheard it’s hushed whisper with another person in another room, where i can hear it’s voice but not the words. i just want to stand on top of the catering table, one foot on the hors d’oeuvres and the other in the punch bowl, and scream i shaved my legs for you, love! why won’t you notice me? yet, when i gaze longingly at love across the room with my back against the wall, we make eye contact. love stares me for a moment and finally acknowledges my presence with the slightest start of a smile before walking out the front door, its hand interlaced with another.

i want nothing more than to believe you when you say that love is an earthquake strong enough to end a european empire, but i’m sitting alone on a beach in california, mistaking the aftershock for grains of sand rumbling beneath my feet.

please never stop feeling the tremors. please never ever let love leave the party with someone who will never call it back or appreciate it or make it soup and sandwiches when its sick and watch terrible movies you can’t stand but you watch anyway because love wants to. please, for me, for all of us, hold on to that.

congratulations.

1
3 0 3

Tessa's Loft [novel excerpt]

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2
5 0 5

the good fight

 

people fight

for their ideas,

for their values,

for their honor,

for their families,

and for their nations.

 

others also fight;

but, they fight

for their next breath.

1
6 0 6

A six petal rose

I can’t believe I’m doing this, he thought wryly. If someone was filming , they could make a straight-to-tv, midday movie from this tripe. With a smile, he shook his head slightly and pulled the first petal from the long-stemmed rose in his hand. It was a yellow rose, chosen not because of preference for colour, but because it was wilting and had been marked down for quick sale at the florist. Frugality was not a part of it either, he had simply chosen not to waste a healthy rose on what he was about to do.

He was looking out over the ocean from a cliff edge high above the frothy white  mess of wave meeting rock. It was a long drive to get here, but the location had come instantly to mind the moment he decided what he was going to do. Isolated, unblemished by human touch, and windy enough to let nature bite him while he admired her beauty.

He placed the rose petal on his upturned fingertips and stretched his arm out over the edge. An up-draft from the sea below quickly grabbed the petal from his hand and carried it out toward the horizon.

“She loves me.”

First contact, shy smiles. Eyes meeting in glances of ever-increasing length. Cheeky grins, playful jests, fingertips stretched to touch for the want of touching. …


The second petal came away from the flower, he thought it offered more resistance than the first, but it was captured by the ocean breeze just as readily.

“She loves me not.”

First cracks, fears spoken. Worries planted, differences sprouting. Words recited, well meaning, true meaning, hands still held for want of gripping. …

The first petal was lost to his eye now and the second yellow fragment had fallen straight to slide and tumble its way down the cliff face toward the water. A third petal sat on his outstretched hand, moving in circles, caught in an eddy above his palm. He blew toward it until it began to fall.

“She loves me.”

Flowers blooming, smiles warming. Fingers clasped when not running through hair. Laughter resounding, hot breath on bare necks. Heart stopping words whispered in ears tensed and waiting …

He had closed his eyes and was smiling, arm straight out in front of him as the wind grabbed his hair and flapped the folds of his long sleeved t-shirt.  Without opening his eyes, he plucked another petal from the remnants of the yellow rose. He felt the the wind lift it from his fingertips.

“She loves me not.”

Panic growing, worries taking root in fertile soil. Soft skin flinches from attempts to touch. Words spoken, by rote, meaning lost to repetition. Labels used for sake of labels. …

His eyes were closed and arm still outstretched, but the corners of his mouth had fallen with the last petal, leaving his lips compressed in a thin line. His arm fell slowly to his side and he looked down in time to see the yellow petal’s flight brought down violently in the a puff of sea spray. Only two wind-crumpled petals remained on the rose, and that soon became one when his fingers deftly plucked another.

“She loves me.”

Perfection. Uttered in disbelieving gasps of simultaneous ecstasy. Lucky, blessed, gifted, and loved. A warming connection even when hearts met distance. Perfection, lived and believed. …

He was smiling again, but his eyes were open now and the lack of light in them gave away his smile’s lie. Gaze fixed on the final petal struggling to remain attached to the decrepit rose, he tossed the entire thing over the edge, watching it plummet toward the rocks below.

“She loves me not.”

Distance manufactured, voices muted, whispers silenced. Cracks sprouting forests, words spoken known for lies, worries carpeting fields of green, brown now from lack of light. Drop outs, drop off, drop. …

“She loved me not.”

His face had split into a delirious rictus as he looked at his empty palms. He shifted his gaze to the female body at his feet.

“The flower says you loved me not.”

He kicked the corpse from the ledge and dived off the cliff before the body was halfway to the rocks below.

0
3 0 3

Letter No. 1

 

Nothing will ever prepare you for the moment you dread. The calm before the storm is so aptly named because everyone’s quiet sobbing can hardly be heard above the screaming fear. You know me well enough to know that this is hard for me. Saying goodbye. To look, at that final moment, at the faces of the people who you may never see again, who you spent a year laughing with, crying over, worrying about, hating, loving, ridiculing. To know that, even though your sorrow is greater than anyone could possibly know, you’re almost required to enjoy it. To know that the faces I see as I turn and look, one last time, are not faces of sadness, no, but faces of barely concealed joy. To know that life will go on, that in two years it’ll be a struggle to remember I was there, in four to remember me, in eight to remember it. I understand, also, how pessimistic I’ve become. In writing these I was, as I’d like to be, happy and melancholy. I felt as if yours was the one in which I might express my sorrow. Friends aren’t replaceable. They aren’t things you forget about and take out every few years to play with just ‘cause. Friends impart a portion of their soul upon you, and you them. I’d like to say, at the end of the day, I have a friend. It’s innate human nature to want a friend, to want someone to share stories with you. Well, I wouldn’t really know.

I’ve always wondered if other people cry. I cry. I cry all the time. Maybe that’s just my medicine though.

Sorry about the stream-of-consciousness thing, I hope you’ll understand. Anything I want to say to you I already have. This is a formality, a finale, an end to a chapter. Now I begin anew, hopefully with one or two of the same characters.

Do you know what it means when I say ‘to teach?’ Probably not, because it’s a very specific, connotative definition. When I say that the best teachers are students, I mean it. All the education in the world couldn’t have taught me what teaching 45 minutes of freshmen did. When they looked up at me, their eyes were cold with hate. They knew I saw. They didn’t know it hurt. That day I learned the most important lesson I think I’ll ever learn, they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter how much you know or who you know or where you learned or where you’ve been. What matters is that single moment when I crack a smile instead of a whip and I turn from authority to equal. To accomplish both must be one of the hardest things, because I’ve yet to do it. Anyway, a student will tell you everything they know, even if you don’t care. A teacher will tell you half of what they know and they don’t care you don’t care. This year has been a journey of education wrapped up in the one class I feel I can talk about. I learned about basketball and vodka with Red Bull and One Direction and soccer and technology and cars and foursquare and Gamecube. I didn’t learn much Latin, but I did learn so much more.

In Central and South America, there are fish called geophagi. They don’t often eat other fish or plants or really anything. They sift through the gravel under them, eating the scraps from other creatures’ meals. No there’s a point I swear. When aquarists keep a geophagus, they get to see this feeding behavior. They also get to learn that these beautiful fish aren’t scavengers. They’re incredibly intelligent; they respond to different people in different ways; they can tell time; they understand. In life, I feel that each person should strive to be, as a geophagus, brilliant and beautiful without having to declare it to everyone, choosing only to display it to those whom you truly know.