November 19, 2013 at 7:29pm
007. Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians “What I Am” (1988)
choke me in the shallow water / before I get too deep
i remember a summer i would tape songs off of MTV and VH1
i was at the pool with a friend
i told my friend i was really into Marcy Playground’s ‘Sex and Candy’
and he told his mom
and she said to me
‘oh, goodness, that song is disgusting’
and pulled my friend away from me
i didn’t understand what she meant
until several years later
i had no idea what a wet dream was
i thought he was bleeding blue Nickelodeon slime
November 14, 2013 at 4:12pm
006. Tracy Chapman “Fast Car” (1988)
She was the first girl I’d ever really dated and I’d reached that point of the relationship that would become a constant in all to follow, my (self-proclaimed) ‘emo’ phase, where my feelings and self-loathing and general unworthiness would overtake me and begin to poison the relationship.
I was seventeen and had no business telling someone who wasn’t related to me by blood that I loved them, but I did it anyway, because I thought love was universal and from g-d and was important to be expressed.
I thought a lot of things and most of them were bullshit, but I wouldn’t know that until later.
I don’t know how we came to be hanging out that night but I was in her car, sullen, and we were driving out to the edge of town when I found her cigarettes in her glove compartment.
- Are these yours? I asked.
- Yeah. I don’t smoke very often, she replied, too quickly. Usually only when I’ve been drinking or when I’m out with the girls.
- The other girls smoke?
- Well, you know. Kelly, obviously. But Natalie and Amanda, too, again, really only when we’re out drinking together.
I rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands and couldn’t decide if I was grossed out or upset or felt betrayed. More than anything, I realized I didn’t care, which really scared me the most.
- What’s wrong with you? she asked, as we slowed to a four-way stop.
- Fuck. I dunno. I’m just tired, I guess. Homework.
- No, I mean really. You’ve been moping around like this for weeks.
- I just feel shitty.
We sat at the stop sign. There wasn’t another car around for miles. The only headlights came from trucks circling down the mountain on the highway, a few miles into the distance.
- Switch me seats, she said, unbuckling her seatbelt.
- I want you to drive for a bit.
I unbuckled, opened the door, and saw her coming around the front of the car towards the passenger side. I turned to walk around the trunk, consciously not wanting to pass her, the two of us moving like hands on a clock, when I reached the open driver’s side door and got back in behind the wheel.
- Now what? I fastened my seatbelt.
- Head up this road and get this car up to one-hundred miles per hour.
- This piece of shit? It’ll fall apart!
- I’ve done it a ton of times, she said. When I’m not feeling good, or upset, or frustrated, I come out here with Amanda and we take turns getting up to a hundred on this road.
- I don’t think it’s a good idea.
- What the fuck are you so afraid of?
Everything, I thought.
- It’ll make you feel better.
- Whatever, I sighed, releasing the parking brake.
I started up the road, shifting quickly, going sixty-five in fourth gear about a third of the way down the road before we would reach the next stop sign. I didn’t push the engine any harder.
- Faster! Go faster! she demanded.
I jammed the gearshift into fifth, reaching seventy, eighty, more than half way to the stop sign, eighty-five, the windows shaking, the plastic panels on the sides of the car seeming to shudder and threaten to just fall right off the car, ninety, I could see the stop sign, I gave up, pushed down hard on the clutch and dropped the gearshift into neutral, starting to coast, then rapidly applying the brakes as the stop sign quickly approached.
- WHOO! she yelled. Don’t you feel better?
I signaled, turned the car around and pulled it off the side of the road onto the wide dirt shoulder.
- Sure. Yeah.
A few minutes later, we were in the backseat, trying to find a comfortable position, kissing violently.
I could taste the cigarettes in her mouth. It didn’t mean anything to me; didn’t seem to bother me at all.
Her hand found its way down the front of my pants a few minutes later.
I didn’t feel that, either.
November 4, 2013 at 1:38pm
005. John Cougar “Jack and Diane” (1982)
we could play ‘comparing scars,’
but i’ll tell you right off, i’ve never broken a bone.
i’ve never tried hard enough.
fallen out of trees,
jumped off roofs,
i’ve smashed my forehead against the corner
of every open cabinet door in this place.
not even a stitch.
when you were in third grade,
with that giant plastic snowboarding boot
around your left foot and ankle and calf
to hold the fracture in place,
i couldn’t even imagine how much it hurt.
i had nothing to compare it to.
then, fifteen years later,
meeting a girl with her left foot in a brace
we fell in love while it healed
and, in the months following
through rehab, her foot grew stronger, less broken
as we proceeded to slowly, delicately,
fracture and dissolve every exposed segment
of each other’s hearts.
October 27, 2013 at 10:20am
004. The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” (1981)
when i sneeze
it is everything evil escaping my body (so they say)
so please, i beg of you,
please ‘bless’ me.
my body tremors
like a panic attack,
or when a contrast agent
is first injected
in my left arm, in the crook of my elbow
(the nurses tell me i have good veins)
i feel it run both directions, down to the fingertips of my left hand
and simultaneously up, to my shoulder
(the nurses, they told me it might feel like a slight burn)
then across my chest, to my right shoulder
and down my right arm
as it spreads up my neck
and down my torso
my face feels flushed, involuntary embarrassed
(a burn doesn’t describe all your blood suddenly boiling)
and with each heartbeat, it moves farther
down my waist, through my dick
down each leg to my toes
and i can feel my pulse on the bottom of my feet.
when i sneeze
sometimes people mistake it for vomiting
it is that violent
and i want to tell them
‘i am okay, don’t worry’
‘i’m not hungover, nor sick, it’s just allergies’
but they all look at me, concerned
EXERCISE YOUR OWN DEMONS, MY FRIENDS
i want to yell
SNEEZE THOSE FUCKERS OUT OF YOUR SOULS
but i don’t want to sneeze in public, ever
and i don’t believe in exorcism by sneezing
i shut my eyes
try to hold it in
if they exist
i want those evil spirits kept inside me
i need something to blame.
October 22, 2013 at 6:19pm
003. Roxy Music “More Than This” (1982)
She comes around to where he’s standing on the back porch, smoking a cigarette, putting an excessive amount of energy into blowing the smoke out away from the glass doors that led into the kitchen, watching the tendrils escape from between his lips and out his nostrils and out into the cold november air, stirring and dissipating amongst the fog and pine trees, he hears her boots across the wood porch (her dad probably built this porch by hand, he thinks, he’s probably that kind of guy, a real American, one who wouldn’t want some interloping punk kid who drove three hours in the middle of the night on the off-chance he might have the slightest opportunity to make out with his daughter standing on the porch he built with his own two hands, and sure as hell wouldn’t want to know he was smoking cigarettes on said porch), but doesn’t turn around.
- I’m glad you came.
He stares at his feet for a brief second, then—not wanting to seem ungrateful—turns quickly to face her.
- I’m glad I came, too. I—
- I just wasn’t expecting this.
- Oh. yeah. Neither was I, to be honest. But Alexis… you know.
- Sure, he nods.
They fall silent.
He offers her a cigarette, which she accepts. He tries to not make a show of lighting it for her, but pridefully considers the move generous and somewhat romantic, as romantic as willfully giving another person cancer can be.
She starts, but catches herself. Shakes her head. Her hair, in long, winding curls down past her shoulders, weaves back and forth against the sides of her face and across her shoulder blades, her neck, her breasts. His eyes follow her hair, back and forth.
- I what?
He tries to say it casually, to not sound like he’d be willing to beg for her to continue talking, to fill the cold air with her words.
She drags on the cigarette, coughs gently, flips her hair back behind her shoulders.
- You’ve written this scene before.
- I have?
- I remember it. You let me read it.
- I don’t recall.
- It was a long time ago. We were a lot younger when this happened. Just out of high school. You had a creative writing class at college. You wrote about this party. But, you changed it, it was a wake, a sanctuary after a tragedy. Nothing like what it ever really was.
- No, no. It’s okay. I’m not upset.
- You can be, he says. I wouldn’t blame you. Bringing all this up again.
- It’s just… former lives, you know? You can’t have them back.
- I don’t want them back.
She sniffs, takes another drag.
- What do you want? From this memory, or this moment, at least?
He turns towards the patio table, and drops his cigarette butt into a nearly-empty bottle of Miller High-Life.
- If nothing else, I wanted to be braver then. Now.
She shakes her head again. He is hypnotized.
- Damien. We both know it’s too late for that.
They face each other. They don’t kiss.
October 15, 2013 at 6:20pm
002. Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run” (1975)
- I’ve never been in a real fight.
- What do you mean?
I’d barely heard his statement, muttered down his sleeve, as if maybe there was more to it down there, between his armpit and torso, that had to be delivered to his mouth.
- I’ve only ever fought with girls i’ve been involved with. yelling and passive-aggressive insults masked as ‘concerns’ that usually end in tears and hugging and forehead kissing.
- You’ve never just left after a fight?
- Walked out, taken a drive, let things cool down.
- That seems so dangerous. You don’t want to leave things unresolved.
I took my thumb and my middle finger and pressed my eyebrows together towards the bridge of my nose.
- You’d always rather things slowly crumble then just blow up and be really done.
- It’s not ideal, certainly.
- Sometimes I fantasize about getting into a real fight. But not some ‘fight club’ sort of bullshit. Just a legitimate spontaneous brawl. Thirty or forty seconds long, tops.
- Under what circumstances?
- Yeah, I guess so.
- My ideal fight would be at a bar, but I’m not drunk… just a few drinks in, to take the edge off. I hear some douchebag make a misogynistic crack about some girl at the bar, and I saddle up like a bro, egging him on. If he continues, I laugh, then slam his head against the table. We scrap. Ideally, I win, give him a few final kicks to the gut and groin, pay my tab, collect my coat. Again, forty seconds long, tops.
- Do you win the girl at the end of this fantasy?
- That’s not the point.
- Sure. But do you?
- Not usually. Most of the time I go home and take a bath. scrub any wounds. The bathwater tinged pink from blood by the time I release the drain plug.
- I accept that fantasy.
He reaches for his pint, and I imagine myself grabbing my glass and smashing it against the side of head.
I just want to make him happy.
I just want him to know that I love him.
I just want to make his dreams come true.
October 11, 2013 at 3:01pm
001. Don Henley “The Boys of Summer” (1984)
i laid in bed and brought my hands over my ears.
then released them, then covered them again.
i tried to yawn, my jaw popping.
i hovered my hands over my eyes,
careful not to rub them, not to touch them,
to not introduce germs and dirt and filth and cat hair
into my eyes.
i imagined a great pressure coming down from the stucco ceiling
over which my eyes darted
back and forth
and i attempted to form constellations
amongst the stalactites of stucco.
when i was young
we had bunk beds
and stucco ceilings
and one had to take care to not bolt upright
in the middle of the night
from something as trivial as a ‘bad dream’
or scrape our face across
summers were the worst
on the top bunk
because of what we had learned from our science textbooks.
i wanted to rise
from a bed
and not fear the