go ahead and heat that burger up!” The daughter yells from the yard. She pumps
air into the black slug of her bicycle tire, wet from afternoon rain. She’s
wearing a hi-lighter pink tourism shirt from Boca Raton. She has long purple
nails the color of casino carpet. There’s a big scar above her eye from when
this guy beat her with a statuette of the Holy Virgin over some coke money.
“What coke money?” She had said. She hears the sound of her daddy’s Rascal
whirring, accented by the popping of grease. She thinks of the meat and hums
Led Zep as she works to pumping. A mini van drives up to the yard. She can only
see a shimmering gold grill smiling from the darkness, peeking over the
cross-faded window. “Dale, I ain’t playing right now. Get the hell out of
here.” The grill laughs blue smoke out. The rapper on the radio is counting out
digits. Her daddy appears in the doorway, his houndstooth baseball cap pulled
over his eyes, his face a tangle of oxygen cords. “My daughter ain’t no whore,”
he wheezes. “My baby girl is one of a kind.”
Smells like a pina colada, looks like milk, and tastes like
something with a higher chalk content than anything you'd order at the Silver
Diner. Best chugged in shots. Goes down best cold.
The flavors smile: vanilla, banana, berry. Just the
barium comes in tall white metal cylinders that look like they hold robot fuel.
The night you were diagnosed, I shivered till my agnosticism
cracked, and cried to the watchmaker to sicken me instead. My husband
walked in and said everyone's mom dies; that's life so deal.
So I got in my car and made the tires shriek. But I didn't
crash and I didn't get cancer, and I didn't find peace either. Damn
I came home.
Because I love you, I hope today sucks. That the
jackhammer MRI noise rattles your brain; that your arms ache in the PET-CT.
That way you might forget that the blurry tomographic
reconstructions of your innards are so the doctor-priests can peer at your
tumor, and prognosticate the length of your thread -- three months or three
I come get you. It's sunny. You're drinking and
grandpa’s was a language of staring. He stared when I had something to
say. He stared when I should’ve had something to say. He stared
when there was nothing at all to say. Being young, I took this as reason
to avoid him. But once, while my parents were out, I found him in his
room, staring at a movie. I preferred it to being alone, so I sat without
permission, saw Mel Gibson driving a dune buggy on TV. After the first
explosion, I exclaimed, “Wow.” He echoed, “Mm.” We went on this
way, in simple agreement of what was cool, who deserved to be shot, how we
wanted the hero on top. Before the movie finished, though, my parents
came home. Being young, I ran out the room to be with them. I left
my grandpa staring at the TV, whispering to the end.
Go to Shoprite. You’ll walk down that road past the wine lady’s
house. Moon’s good over the roof of the Shell. Appreciate moon. Get deodorant.
Read more. Read that Joan Didion Karen gave you. Mail Karen’s letter and mix
tape tomorrow. See if Rudy wants to drink by Wallkill. Go to Salvo for records
Friday. Get more work hours. Plan second mix for Karen. Write erotic novel
under an alias. Call it Confessions of a Library Sex Fiend. Start it with a
good fuck scene in a study carrel. YOU CAN MAKE A LOT OF MONEY WRITING SEX
STORIES. Buy Ruth a book for Xmas. Not something she’ll hate. Get Judith a
prism and make her a collage. You’ll need scotch tape. Get on the bus and go
see The Master in the city. You’ll regret it if you don’t you big asshole. Do
push-ups. Fuck push-ups. Buy socks. Ask Ruth and Judith for Mellon Collie
reissue for Xmas. Get drunk on life stuff. Be like a zebra with special powers.
Rise up into the sky and smoke cigarettes. If you can’t fly, drown. Listen.
Spit. Grieve. Get the worst cough you’ve ever had. Skip work. Rent Twin Peaks
girlfriend got this idea she had to rescue a white crab. Set it free. We were
drunk. I still had a fake knife in my head from Tina’s party. The waiter put
the crab in a Styrofoam container and looked at us like we were crazy. All the
way to the car I could hear the faint clicking of its claws inside. It was
nearly two in the morning by the time we parked at Jacob Riis Beach. For a few
minutes we just sat there in the car, smoking, listening to the creaking sound
of the Styrofoam as the crab pushed against the rubberband. It must have been
nineteen degrees, the sand as hard as asphalt all the way to the freezing
ocean. My girlfriend knelt down, opened the Styrofoam slowly, like some kind of
guardian crab angel. I had to kick the box to get the thing motivated, and then
it slowly raised one hairy white claw, another. For a few minutes, it just
hunched there doing nothing. Then it headed, with long pauses, back to the
Furiously virginal girls say hateful things like “slut,”
“whore,” and “easy.” As in, “She’s so ‘easy’, I bet the whole football team has
had her.” They shake their pom-poms in form-fitting skirts and low-plunging
shirts to [insert pop song most heard on the radio], while eyeing the
quarterback and licking cherry-balmed lips just so. They pop those
just-formed-in-the-last-year hips, swivel, and dip to the cheers of pumped-up
classmates in bleachers.
Then leave sticky-with-sweat uniforms on the locker room floor,
laugh, and bump badunka dunks sassily, while talking about who kept which guy
from feeling her up last Friday. And damn, that Mr. Bateman, who gave them C’s
Two of them, unnoticed, sneak into the last shower stall. Under
lukewarm, lime-encrusted spitting-showerhead water they giggle nervously, then
fall on each other like starved animals. Exploring soft mouths that feel
nothing like a boy’s, tongues that don’t dart fast to fill up empty spaces.
Slow, sustained soapy nipple pleasures, rubbing supple skin against skin just
so, sucking hot thick lips, licking with writhing tongues, and the dark,
desperate wetness of recessed, repressed places.