Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tracking changes

huevos rancheros con cebolla tostada abajo

The difference between sleeping and waking is less distinct.
As my eyes are opening or closing, I can't tell which is which.
The prescription you gave me seems to be always in the background;
I could be standing in the kitchen but like I'm lying on my side, and
A substantial sleep paralysis sets in, which I have to override.

by Peg

Thursday, January 25, 2018

End of brain-factory paradigm

my sociopathic stepfather explains,
by reference to his new genomic fun
kit, how mother and I, from less-hu-
man neanderthal stock, were built to
spot movements and patterns, but
not survive; that our brows are too
thick to reason normally, so he

by Jan

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I'm not coming in from the rain

Husband? You ask
What's that? We've
always said, no
such thing for us

We've done our
thing our way and
developed a civil
protocol or two

But now, with a
swell of generosity,
after we've made
a camp outside the

wall, invited in,
reluctantly but not
without acclaim,
we say hell no, no

We haven't spent
our lives pining for
a straight paradigm;
at least I haven't.

So it's cold and wet
out here when a
whole new system
has to express, gag

and choke on life
but it's green of
growth, so we won't
come in from the rain.

by Missy (Mkidza Mlaf)

Thursday, January 18, 2018


It was clear until my third or fourth call for repairs that the landlord and his girlfriend who wants to be a wife had agreed to always come over here together, never alone. But then they started getting a little cute and then a little tiffy about how he'd replaced the radiant heat for ducts which he'd slammed in himself during his twenties, mostly anxious to get the bar done with the smoke-a-lizer and the deck right there on the creek in time for the wedding, and then a prompt and open-ended fractalization of subsequent drinking + nature-related gatherings.

In contrast to this new landlord, say Mike, my ex-fiance was fastidious about dampers and grumouts measuring tightly up to their doo-hickies and corresponding flush surfaces. He didn’t mind poisoning house mice, for example, because he’d already done his part to responsibly and reasonably keep them out of our sphere; if they persisted, they had to be overly-aggressive anomolies of their species and therefore ok for destruction.

I think the landlord’s companion wants to be his wife because she was so thorough about checking me out, did it all herself, is very efficient, you know, though it is his place. The first time he finally showed up alone, he squatted and duck-walked an entire stainless-face dishwasher, still part way in the strapping and box, mudroom to kitchen, after having worked a 16-hour day or so he said. Then he muttered  something about before his wife passed away, and I figured that had to have been here, maybe upstairs. He couldn't seem to get the math right, even to the decade, about when and who and what. I sat quietly with the cable remote between my knees, just a dog and a green leather hassock between us as Mike  wiped his brow with one of my dish towels.

That same shade of bologna pink except for around the eyes, they seem like they've both been liking their wine hours or countryside tavern rounds in their present neighborhood, near my last address, over by Tom's, maybe since she died, maybe "Tessa," of cancer, and he'd been living on his own; but no, the hardworking girlfriend referenced having lived here by the creek as well... or was it just her air of anticipatory ownership through management, man management, and the exhilarating world of background checking other people's risks, the way she found out about me, hungrily engaging my references.

I think they must have agreed to always come here together, and never alone, because it's too comically common of a scenario for the landlord hubby to go and fix a pipe for Mrs. So-and-so, the divorcee or young childless widow, or widow/ divorcee with a sympathetic child, and what ensues. Maybe a shadow birth or a life insurance scheme. They must surely at least have passed some kind of bottle with their pants rolled up sitting by the water soon after Janine Wannabe came into his life and endeavored to replace his inferred melancholy with her palpable carnal and appetitive bounties, and to address her fiduciary insecurities with his plumbing and electrical business.

The thing is that this guy I dated, Zhann, is so swish on the phone, and he prolly still resents me for moving in with I guess I'm calling him "Tom" out in Brickhouse-Horseley's Craigs. Zhann apparently told my landlord's girlfriend/ fact checker/ whatever the protracted story of our meeting on an app and maybe prematurely asked to be designated driver to his niece's Magnificent Mile dance-floor wedding and reception in the city. The anticipatory and self-envisioned wife prolly put two and two together and said get smart, bitch. I don't care how butch he is; I'm not leaving my Mike alone with that fag. If anyone's getting to know the new tenant, it's going to be me because it could be fun. Or maybe a three-way. Drinks. Anyway not until after the spring? wedding unless there are already little rugrats bouncing around.

But then as the toilet/ furnace/ disposal-broken weeks clunked along (me a wreck fallen fresh from a dream life in a fairy-tale property) footstep-like creaks would follow my own going up and down the slick and narrow, high-gloss painted hard pine stairs to the bedrooms on the second floor, really not much more than a hot, musty attic, and cold spots and fragrant and rank spots would appear and dissolve unexpectedly in random angles and passages. One night I thought the washer-dryer closet doors would explode open when the European water heater turned itself on, blasting gas far more powerfully than normal, and the dogs startled awake to the urgent, mad attempts of the auto-pilot at igniting. I briefly imagined myself staggering from the smoldering ruins of Thornfield Hall in a flouncy, soiled linen blouse.

Raccoons started chattering and many other noisemaking activities that were less comfortingly identifiable. These invisible yet intensely present beasts occupied an alternate universe of drama, hilarity, and domestic corporal brutality right there in the same spatial crosshairs as my aging pets, tarnished silver, punch bowl boxed in tissue paper. The dogs drew crazy designs with their noses across carpets and into walls. The more needed repairing, the more I saw Mike, and the more he seemed reluctantly obsessed with hanging out, never at ease, always active in a pretense of punishing, grunting physical labor.

The fighting grew more intense, a real bag of cats. There was plenty of room under there in that choice crawlspace next to the water where they could wash their hands before eating, presumably. Prolly after a conversation with the in-the-running-to-be wife Janine, Mike told me to go ahead and arrange the wild animal removal myself. I didn't go with the really hot social media star daddy whose wife had created a huge photo-and-video album of him bending over backwards all kinds of ways to get cute baby skunks out of chimneys. They charged $20 more per animal than another outfit called Animal Removal Service, who sent a guy clearly attempting to hide, with posture and garmentation, the textual contents of a tattoo beneath his ear. He pointed out that it's mating season, so two males in one winter hole is just asking for fireworks no matter how roomy.

I remembered entertaining the viewpoint of a determined and tiny-brained but essentially innocent animus undergoing a process of systematic extermination, even as it dutifully offers concessions and phones an army of sophomoric relationship interventionists, not at all conscious that its fate was sealed the moment it had entered the premises. I'd helped Tom pick out our sprawling, ivy-wrapped Eduardian deep in the summer while a total density of green was still sealing away the panorama of protected natural wetlands professionally curated to assure historical accuracy and provide stunning contrast to a former Tallest Building in the World which rose from the clouds, framed by goldenrod and tree-like daisy stems, more than 25 miles to the East.

Before he'd told me that she'd died, I had my back to him washing my hands in the sink and explained I was just going to have lunch but that I'd just pulled a whole human head's worth of hair out of the bathtub drain, so I didn't expect to get hungry again any time soon. He apologized, and I turned to look at his close-cropped, balding head and said I understood it wasn't his hair. We stopped talking, which allowed a menacing spirit to claim for a moment the unnaturally maroon, multi-legged glop in the bottom of the bathroom wastebasket; one might have briefly pictured a forest-green and rust pants suit over a smart argyle v-neck and many thin gold chains, a newly hennaed bushiness under a floppy wool cap, and snowflakes, bumpy lipstick and mascara, out by the mailbox, reaching in all the way to the cuff of her long beige driving gloves for some envelopes like the ones that still come for her, maybe "Ramona."

    Ramona Plantagenet or Current Occupant

I knew Mike and maybe his girlfriend or whatever he calls her, maybe "Janine," had been renting my new place out for at least a decade, so the flotsam and jetsam of all those bodies would be boarding-house anonymous to any forensic detective determined enough to search the pipes and corners and attic and creek bed and crawlspaces. Neither one of us though, I fear, Mike nor me, can help but identify the creaking, the ambience of living but un-housed consciousness, the parallelism, an unfinished wish, the unsettledness, the strong odors, and whomever stands inside its walls at any given moment (Mike and me; dogs don't even seem to notice the difference) as young Tessa, the reigning past occupant in terms of prolonged crying out, of injustice (I suppose from cancer). This doesn't have to be spoken.

Even as smooth local gay boys, seasoned by their middle-class bullies, ring the bell and wait blowing vapor from their nostrils, their patient eyes bordering on expectation and then acceptance of either tenderness or relentless cruelty, talk up cable package or gym fundraiser and shiver with desire for warmth-- yet nail their scrupulous feet to the welcome mat without asking to come in even during inhumane arctic vortices-- there once again, helping himself across the threshold and stomping snow from his boots and onto the floor he'd sanded, returning, as the result of his intemperate youth and careless workmanship, is Mike: repairing, rethinking, replacing, grunting as if that nail had been re-set every day for a thousand years before, but that he must keep on pounding until the nails are everywhere, holding every fly, sound, appliance in location. Yet the holes (means of entry) multiply.

I sip coffee or jab my fingers into the kitchen window flower boxes when I find he's here thinking of her and being with me and feeling how I feel for him and want to be her not now but back then. I sip and wonder if either one of us wants to be who we are at the time, in the year we are in; the calendar seems to squeak along like a room where a nearby fire's sucked out the air and there's sirens and neighbors in blankets with their breath showing, and then pretty, sunny days, then volcanos; then it's time again to change out the furnace filter. I long for company now living alone again so soon after believing the mansion in the woods and its cruel master would be a final resting place, trying not to think about my inevitably over-confident replacement. I wake up not knowing where I am --except all throughout the day, and not from sleep. All I know is that I belong and Mike belongs together with an-others who are not physically or temporally here and therefore not available for normal carrying on. This is what we have instead.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Spin of planet laid bare

It's 2:25.
In a few hours, it will be dark.
Then it will be time to feed dogs.
I'll get hungry and eat something too.
Fighting against sleepiness will ensue.
I'll wake up tomorrow with the promise of coffee.

"Recertification imminent."