Tag Archives: horror
PRETZELS & CHOCOLATE
(rented room, cigarettes)
I am eating pretzels
and they are hard
but splinter into salty crumbs
with the merest bite
they only satisfy
part of my tongue
(rented room, cigarettes)
so I pick up the chocolate
greedy for it to melt
against my palate
sucking the firm square
feeling it mold to me
the way I imagine
my body molds to yours
(rented room, cigarettes)
retaining the character of sweetness
to complement the salt
to balance my mouth
I am eating chocolate
thinking of us
(rented room, cigarettes)
Heavenly Dances, Heavenly Intimacies, a short story
“Isn’t there any heaven where old beautiful dances, old beautiful intimacies prolong themselves?”
Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
How can I be “dead” to any of the men I once loved? They are not “dead” to me. Not even H. How can I be “dead” to H.? They — even H. — are each as alive as when I was with them; as alive as the first time they touched me, whether tentatively or with confidence; whether softly or roughly; whether with passion or mere lust. It is shocking and appalling how H. lurched so radically to the right after 9/11. He began that journey to the Tea-Party-Mad-Hatter-Neocon-Bill-Buckley-Wall-Street-Apologist-Fringe-Brainless-Faux-News-Right when Ronald Reagan was shot; I was with him the very night it happened. We had a short affair, right then, because we started thinking the end of the world had arrived and we decided, like the crazy college students we were, to get married to celebrate our courage in the face of chaos! I realized very early on (but still way too late!) I was embarrassed to be seen in public with him. Did you ever start seeing, and marry someone whom you later realized you were embarrassed to be seen with? Perhaps the person in question was “dorky,” “geeky,” dressed “badly,” or had questionable “taste.” H. readily admits he was a “dork” in high school. He was on the debate team; need I say more? When you can’t bear to be seen in your lover’s/spouse’s/significant other’s/partner’s company, things usually don’t work out.
Still, I put in ten dutiful years, trying to make amends for my mistake in marrying H. The second he started making the big bucks, he dumped me. He left me for my best friend! I guess I deserved it, not taking control of my own life & filing for divorce two weeks after we married. And I guess I deserved how my ex-best-friend S. ruined me, as she subsequently did. She was in charge of the whole group we had socialized with: dictating how everyone in our “circle” should think, speak, act, or react. H. was dead wrong about most everything, but, to his credit, he was dead right about her. At the time I thought him merely woman-hating, but I see now, even though he did hate women, there was something more than simply being a “woman” he hated about her. He was covering up the fact he loved her by pretending to hate her. Now, I have no desire to see her, not ever again. She is definitely “dead” to me. Yes, I understand intellectually, a living death (call it shunning) can happen to anyone.
The upshot of all this boring history? I’ve been waiting for something a long time. I can’t blame anyone but myself for my unhappiness, not anymore. There is something dispirited inside me, something empty, drained, and beaten — something sick, something tired, something that has surrendered. I gave up, when? When my first ex-husband arbitrarily said no to children, breaking his solemn vow. When I realized I couldn’t find happiness outside myself — not with an old love, not with a new love, not with any of my subsequent husbands, my friends, my eventual children, or my family. Yes, to casual acquaintances and virtual strangers I am “happy, happier than I’ve ever been.” And it’s true! I’ve never been this happy, this contented, in my life. Yes, there are still problems. My oldest son is still half the world away, fighting an endless war on behalf of my “country.” My youngest son still has an ignorant, racist, rabidly conservative father. I am getting old. My face is melting. My neck is turning into a wattle. I am drooping.
Still, I cannot imagine any of them, the men I have loved or made love to, being dead to me the way my former best friend, S., is dead to me. Yet that is how they must feel about me, the way I feel about her. Wanting her removed from my memories. Wanting never to have met her. Not missing anything about her. She wants to see me, I heard from a mutual friend I still speak to. I don’t want to see her, or even see the mutual friend. I don’t even want to get as close as that! Because of reasons. Top secret, NSA, DOD, CIA, FBI, SEC, IRS, FDLE, GPD, ACSO reasons! No further comment!
DISGUSTING!!!!! Why do people think this way? I condemn this trust to HELL!!! In a handbasket!!!
“The Dynasty Trust is an excellent tax planning vehicle as it permanently removes significant assets and the future appreciation on those assets from the transfer tax system. If no one “owns” these assets in the future, they will not be part of anyone’s taxable estate. In addition, the Dynasty Trust is an excellent asset protection vehicle. With no owner’s of the assets, creditors cannot make successful claims against the assets in these trusts, allowing them to be preserved, even against liability claims against the trust’s beneficiaries.
The trust is initially created for “primary beneficiaries” who are the Grantor’s children. They are given a limited power of appointment over the trust property in favor of their descendants. If this power is not exercised, the trust property passes to the descendants of the Grantor’s children, and so on. The trustee has discretion to pay a beneficiary income and principal from the trust, but is under no obligation to distribute any property at any time.
The trust is sensitive to the possible generation-skipping tax issues that can arise in this type of trust. (Section 3.1B). The trustee is given broad investment discretion. (Sections 3.1A and 3.3)
Since the trust is intended to last a very long time, the initial trustee is not likely to outlive the trust. Circumstances unforeseen at the inception of the trust may very well occur. For these reasons, the trust (section 4.5) appoints a “trust protector” – a person or institution to serve as the trust’s “watchdog” over what may need to be changed, amended, removed, etc. as time goes on.
Article 10 is also worth noting. The Grantor should consider how he/she may want to define such basic terms as “spouse” and “child”, given the potential long-term of the trust and evolving issues of social change, genetic engineering, etc. One can consider a “traditional” definition here, or allowance of either present or possible future definitions to be included in the trust.
The Art of the Javelin
There were certain lovers who never let you go, not even when it was over, officially over ‑‑ the kind of officially over where you both married other people. It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s something about chemistry, the chemistry of their skin on yours, your skin won’t ever stop wanting theirs and this is a really, really bad thing. Marriages have been wrecked because of that skin, engagements broken, the valuables pawned. The skin fling always started well, of course, the mad passion, so heated you never thought about the consequences. And there were always consequences: huge, nasty ones. Perhaps those terrible consequences were what doomed the love affair from the very beginning. Nothing so lovely and delicate could survive the stamping black boot of your own despair.
You loved him, but it was never enough. Being with him was not enough. Being without him was not enough. Maybe your children, both dead, would have been enough. You saw the first child, sleeping, its head tilted back, its eyes closed. You do not know what color its eyes were. You never saw its eyes. It saw, and in seeing, died. Suffice it to say the child would have been a master of language. It would have been love, a fountain of it. You left, not taking your child home. You let someone else take it away. Psyche never saw Cupid, and you cannot see him anymore. Psyche is and was whatever Love loved. You were loved by Love. You died with the child. You were crushed like a butterfly hovering in front of a fast-moving truck. You were a crushed soul.
The land was flat, barren ‑‑ the horizon stretched like a satiated woman ‑‑ supine, theatrical, unconscious. You missed the children, and you missed him. Was it a garden you were in? Was it a prison cell? There was never enough air, anywhere.
Who wanted, as a woman wanted, simply to be loved? All the boys wanted something else. Girls, on occasion – and more than once — want abstract worship, admiration from afar, poems, flowers, sweet nothings in the ear. Is that what the boys wanted, too? With that divining rod in front of them it must have been difficult to remain abstract. There was something embarrassing about need rendered visible. They could not hide it from the world. Did boys say, “No?” As often as girls? The urge was outward, not inward – the desire to pierce, rather than contain. The needle ‑‑ the eye of the needle ‑‑ threaded with what, exactly? The female soul? Your feet were so cold in the water, wading for freshwater mussels, that your toenails turned stark white. The mussels were brown and slippery, and the empty shells painted with pale, pearly rainbows in the light. The little girls around you murmured with delight, squealing when they found a really big one. Their little hands were sandy and damp on your arm. Their voices piped so impossibly high. You saw them at age 35, still hunting for the perfect shell.
You were tired of living your life. It was satisfactory only in the material sense. The lights were never turned off for lack of payment. Your husband went to bed hours before you did; you sat doing needlepoint in the den and watching obscure re‑runs. You resented your husband’s bulk upstairs in the king‑sized bed, you resented him sleeping turned towards you, resented the warmth of his breath wafting across the hump in the middle of the mattress that had arisen over the years between the depressions your bodies made on either side. Once or twice you tried to get her husband to talk to you about God; he declined to do so, saying it was “too personal” a topic. What is the use of a husband, you thought, without conversations about God?
So you wondered whether to leave him. Suddenly, a young man, black‑haired, black‑eyed, entered your life, with a piercing gaze, but shy, downturned head. He was marrying his girlfriend: you thought they were both too young and naive to know what they were getting into. You tried to talk him out of marriage, saying not that yours was terrible, just that marriage itself was really hard and bound not to live up to anyone’s expectations for it.
He married the girl, anyway, and in about a year was desperately unhappy. His wife left him, run away several times, stole his money and his car and told him he was worthless both in bed, and out. In another moment, you found yourself in bed with him, never once considering how you would get out again. You were not ready to be called an adulteress, but he persuaded you that since you had already committed adultery in your heart, what did it matter in the flesh? Oh, it mattered, it mattered plenty. Only in a purely theoretical sense did it not matter. It certainly mattered to your husband. He wanted the child, all the money, the house, and your head on a platter. Everyone told you not to be honest, not to tell him, but you couldn’t deceive him that way ‑‑ it would kill you to be so deceived by someone else.
It first happened on a rainy afternoon, the kind of afternoon that made sitting on a park bench impossible. All you really wanted to do was talk. You were lonely, you wanted to be alone with him in a comfortable place where you could take your shoes off and lie down flat and tell him your life story. He was so kind and understanding. You wanted everything to happen slowly. Both he and you were married to other people at the time and you had a broken ankle so you couldn’t walk through the woods or the park, even if it weren’t raining. You weren’t planning on committing adultery. You wanted an affair of the heart, of the mind. You were either hopelessly naive or lying to yourself.
When you were feeling bitter, you wore red clothes, covered with lint, and did not bother to go over them with sticky tape. You slept only on goose down pillows, and drank only water bottled in France. When hurricanes were coming, you cooked elaborate cream sauces, and served lemon and honey tea shot with brandy in a crystal cup. Your rage gave you a sore throat, the tears and tissues a sore nose. Anger was only depression turned outward. Always, you received presents in the wrong size, but consoled yourself afterward with icy lime sherbet. You slept a bitter sleep, on sticky sheets, dreaming of French noses, and purebred geese, white with pink feet. On Halloween, you changed your name for good.
You took bitter medicine, while he slept through the hurricane. He gave you red clothes, always the wrong size. You fed the geese cracked corn with your bleeding hands. The brandy shattered the crystal glass. Cream sauces were poured over ice. You strapped the pillows to the bed with sticky tape. You cried while he was bleeding. You whimpered after giving birth. A deep, abiding melancholy. Our Lady of Perpetual Melancholy. The symbolism of the golden arches. An icon for the ages. Our Lady of Perpetual Cholesterol. Our Lady of Sodium. Our Lady of the Mall. Where is food for the spirit? Charge it on your MasterCard. Ring it up on your Visa. A deep melancholy, not easily abated or debated.
It happened on a day when you’d been fasting for religious reasons even though you weren’t religious. A friend called that morning before you’d eaten breakfast and happened to mention it was Yom Kippur. You felt ready to atone for everything you’d ever done regardless of whether you’d actually caused anybody to suffer. Your husband, for example. Your husband was suffering although he didn’t realize it. He thought he was content, but he was wrong. You knew that having sex with a woman for 12 years without her having a single orgasm constituted suffering. You wanted his suffering to cease, quickly and permanently. And it seemed you were the cause of all suffering, everywhere. You had daydreams about running away and never coming back, living in a small rented room, anonymous.
So the fasting and the marital woes had taken their toll on your common sense, and the broken ankle had taken its toll on your ability for locomotion. You were faint from low blood sugar and hobbled wearily into the motel room, collapsing on the lumpy mattress. Being called a neurotic bitch by your husband had long lost its appeal. You needed somebody to love you, not somebody to fuck. But, as your soon‑to‑be lover undressed you, he told you it didn’t even matter whether you actually had sex with him because you’d already committed adultery in your heart. At the time, you took your lover’s reasoning for spiritual altruism. You snapped at it like a starving bass would snap at a rubber worm. Hook, line and sinker, you purchased your fate. It was silly to think you could ever keep a secret. You obtained a divorce, slinking away from the ruins of your marriage guilty, nearly suicidal, your ex‑husband spitting contempt and moral integrity even as he made plans to marry his own recently‑acquired lover.
Then over and over again, between your ex‑lover and yourself, things exploded, imploded, burdened by your guilt and remorse and terror. All this ruined mess wasn’t what you had in mind, you were just lonely and wanted to talk. He thought everything was conquerable, everything, by the human will and true love. Slowly, unmet needs that at first seemed unimportant loomed enormous and unsolvable. He didn’t feel safe with you, nor you with him, albeit for completely different reasons. You were nastily divorced, and suddenly a major skeptic when it comes to love. Between your dead marriage and your dead alcoholic mother, you finally learned to cut your losses, and quickly. What started with a bang ended with a bang? First the relationship was a misery to you, and then it was a misery to him.
The copper gleam of your helmet hair was blinding. Ivory soap floated in the tub, pale and fatty. Hard gray metal breathed like a ghost. The stains of divorce could not be removed with bleach, no matter how hard you tried. Women in bikinis reminded you of how you used to feel in summer, naked, nearly free. You decided to be laid out in a salt pine coffin from Jerusalem, your wake illuminated by jeweled lamps fueled by liquid chicken fat. Stone gargoyles copied from Paris originals would be worked into bench seats. For refreshments, cold meats with baked garlic.
You loved him even though you knew it was doomed, and that love kept pulling you back to the maybe‑I‑didn’t‑really‑give‑it‑the‑old‑college‑try sort of mistake. So you got involved with him all over again, and it was a disaster, again, but to him the fact that you came back only proved the point that you two should never have broken up to begin with. In the end, he never understood why you kept breaking it off, and each time it got over somehow you couldn’t understand exactly why you ended it, either. It was the same kind of destructive amnesia that keeps a woman having babies after that first one. She forgets how hard it was, how much it hurt, how much it broke her spirit. This entire sad sequence repeated until you finally had enough.
That night, you dreamed your mother was unpacking long‑forgotten boxes ‑‑ animals carved out of brightly colored stone, gold‑glass paperweights, things you loved, and your mother was getting rid of it all.
Six months later you got a bill from the library for $173.00. You remembered your lover checked out a bunch of library books on your card. So you called him, asked him to return them so you don’t have to pay. Time goes by, and you wondered. You called his house for days, but the line was always busy. You decided to drop in.
You knocked. It took a long time, but finally he came to the door, disheveled but looking good, except around the ears. His house smelled strongly like man. You were startled by the smell. Vanilla, cinnamon, and a touch of dirt, of mushrooms. The rooms of women smelled like yourself. You have been in other men‑only houses, and it was always the same. There was a strength to their smell, a lasting power, an earthiness under the scent of the body that made you want to burrow into the bed-sheets. This time, you did not. He was growing a beard and wore jeans with holes in the knees which made him look as sexy as the third time you slept with him, the time in his father’s falling‑down barn ‑‑ you couldn’t wait one minute longer so you did it right there on top of some mildewed couches. You broke up for the last time almost a year ago. It was shocking, the physical part you’d thought was long gone.
You wanted him again, though you’d never let yourself have him, and he sensed it – that made him really angry, angrier than you had ever seen him. For once, you ignored the physical passion. You didn’t touch him, though you wanted to, badly. He sensed it, and that sensing is what drove him mad. He screamed. He accused you of being shallow, insensitive, a manipulative bitch with the emotional capacity of a rock. You were meant to be his, you did everything wrong, you shouldn’t have broken up with him, because it was meant to be, him and you, forever. He forgot how you cried all the time, and how you couldn’t quite put your finger on the reason. He forgot what it cost you to be with him: half your daughter’s life. He had no children himself, yet, then: he couldn’t know how guilt had you in its death‑grip.
He screamed, he let you do things, “get away with things,” he shouldn’t have. He didn’t want those things to occur, but he didn’t object at the time because it seemed like what you needed to do. You told him maybe he should have given you his true opinion, back then. Maybe, if he had given his opinion when it was so desperately needed, you’d have chosen to be with him. Maybe it was his essential passivity that caused those late‑night crying jags. Maybe you were crying because you felt like his parent, his dorm mother, his baby‑sitter. You, too, sometimes wanted to be cared for, nurtured, sometimes you wanted to feel safe, to be warm in your own bed on your own pillows, not scurrying around in the corners playing catch‑up with the dust-balls.
But he did not, could not, and would not hear anything you had to say. You were supposed to be with him forever — he believed this and never let go of it: his personal Holy Grail. He wrote you love letters up until the week you got married for the second time, after that, came only hate letters. There would never be a remedy for his hurt. There was no way to make amends. The wounds between you never healed, because he never stopped being angry with you. He was, is, and will always be angry with you. For this reason, your affair with him will never be over.
Will he be angry, forever? Yes. Will his jealous wrath burn like fire? Yes. Blessed is the man whom God chastens, and God will chasten him in time. Yes. His entry into vagina, and your life, was like someone throwing the couch over, slitting all the cushions, smashing the picture glass, sawing the bookshelves into firewood.
Someone knelt. Someone asked to be blessed, forgiven, and made whole. Two people danced, and at the same time drew blood from one another. The man you loved stood remote, erect, unbending. You died, to him. You murdered him, years ago — it was an accident, a terrible wreck of the heart and body. You wanted only to find your true home. They why did your heart feel like cold‑rolled steel? It clanged shut — you were alone, again. And, again, no one could reach you.
While his plane took off, you did jumping jacks next to the runway fence. The chain link made you feel like you had a vision problem. The vessel making up your love for each other was glass ‑‑ white but somehow full of colors, opalescent, and its inner lip was scarlet ‑‑ caressing the outside of the vessel were golden-brown, radiating leaves, quivering with life. Nothing could hold that vessel down ‑‑ it rose of its own accord. Once shattered, it could never be restored. Your fault, you never knew how to live in this world. You always desired things which could not be possessed ‑‑ could be kept, could not be domesticated. Your own heart was not domestic, but, rather, wild, savage, and cruel. It was the opposite of serene. It held mother‑love and murder, sometimes in the same instant. You were the living damned. The only answer seemed to be to keep moving. That is why you decided to entomb your legs in rock, solid and immovable. That is why you always tied yourself to the ground. The caged butterfly smashed itself over and over again, beating impossibly against prison bars of cold‑rolled steel. Finally, its wings shredded, and the butterfly could only remember flying. It knew only that something had gone terribly, terribly, terribly wrong.
leslie moreland gaines, “documentary filmmaker,” con man, artistic failure, hypocrite, and all around evil son of a bitch
Monster to Monster
I did you a favor
to let you go, to push you away,
to release you. You were too conscious
to be my mate. I need someone
who doesn’t think so much,
who is impervious to my suffering.
Even with someone like that,
I feel I am too painful to be borne.
It is a bigger thing than both of us
being monsters. The words I write
are my gift to you, the only thing
I can possibly give now. I took
so much, I have to give something
back. Even if I am a monster,
do you think that means I don’t
suffer when contemplating
my monstrosity? You think because
I did not stay, I did not love.
I loved as much as any wounded
creature can. I loved as much
as a woman without a whole heart
can love. I loved you in my way,
the only way I have.
okay, i should first tell you three things: i have never liked “firelogs” OR cockroaches; i have always LOVED old photographs, sentimental papers, family archives & stuff like that. firelogs being those fake things that people who don’t know how to build a REAL fire use to build a fire. it’s a wimpy, no-good shortcut & my first husband, who knew his firebuilding stuff, wouldn’t have used a “firelog” for all the wealth in china, which is to say he would have rather gone to his death kicking & screaming. he was, after all, an indian guide with his father, used to build models of warships to have REAL WARS with his youthful, boyhood friends in the creek, and would gladly set his hours-of-work-invested masterpieces on fire just to have the satisfaction of winning!! get my position on firelogs? and see how i can see noble virtues even in people whom i couldn’t manage to stay married to? my judgment is, in other words, EXTREMELY RELIABLE & TRUSTWORTHY. i don’t say that to toot my own horn. ask anyone who has really loved me & been the recipient of my love. ANYONE, i dare you.
on to cockroaches. i would rather deal with the deadliest poisonous snake on the planet than a cockroach. poisonous snakes at least exhibit LOGICAL behavior. cockroaches are entirely unpredictable. they will fly toward you, away from you, straight up, straight down, they will hide, attack, scuttle into the woodwork, fly into the light — and they will do all these things SIMULTANEOUSLY. you leave a poisonous snake alone, you creep quietly and smoothly at the highest speed possible in the opposite direction from said snake — with respect in your heart and self-preservation in your mind — that admittedly lethal snake will leave you alone. all that being said, there are still a few people whom make cockroaches look GOOD. their names are unavailable to the public, or in fact, anyone but me. as a poet & an attorney, i keep secrets for two separate livings/careers/vocations/callings/professions. so don’t bother to ask.
next we must discuss the third topic: my family & personal archives. i am very careful & protective of these. i don’t have a fireproof safe like my dear grandfather the tax attorney/professional trustee, but i am careful enough for my purposes. today, however, makes me question that prior assumption. i was in the process of posting to this “blog” a poem about my darling eldest daughter, and i wanted to add to the post the first picture ever taken of her, the picture that inspired the poem (well, actually SHE inspired the poem, but the picture would have helped people understand exactly HOW she managed that inspiration). so, i opened the built-in brick and cypress floor cabinet the builders of my danish modern home (1953, and they were in fact from denmark) added to store their firewood, right next to the fireplace itself, and incorporated beautifully into the design of the room. a lovely piece of work, in other words. yes, i opened this cabinet. do you want to know what i found? do you really? i don’t know that you want the grisly details. suffice it to say, roaches cannot chew through the thick plastic of the bins i have my archives contained in, the contents sorted by type, author, & era. carefully packed. tightly sealed. so don’t panic, the contents of those bins are perfectly fine. let’s just say, it is obvious where the roach problem i have experienced this season so far has been coming from (the large, american cockroach/”palmetto bug” kind, not the little horrible german cockroach kind which is easily controlled just by cleaning up ones kitchen & having a pest control service)!
roaches CAN, however, chew right through the wrappers of the case of “firelogs” i had also stored in the aforementioned fireside cabinet to keep them away from my darling kitty maynard. he smelled them once, the day they came home from the store, and tore a “firelog” bag open himself & proceeded to gorge on this “firelog” because it smelled of molasses, thick rich molasses that made anyone, animal or human, who smelled it crave molasses cake or cookies, or anything prepared with molasses, or even just a big, gnarly spoonful of it, placed in the mouth with reverence. when maynard did this, he shortly thereafter vomited the stinkiest vomit & shat the stinkiest diarrhea i have ever personally observed, and let me just say right here that i have experienced vomit, bloody vomit, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and every other possible combination of horrifying personal body fluids & excretions you can imagine, and had to clean them up unaided except by a steam cleaner. get my drift? of course the animal poison control hotline, which costs almost $100 just to consult, but is worth every penny, explained to me that while producing unpleasant effects, the “firelogs” were not toxic and that my darling kitty would be ok. still, after this incident, just to be safe, i thence stored the case of “firelogs” inside my solid, unbreachable (or so i thought) cabinet so that we would not have to be subject to any more foul, stinking bodily excretions, nor have to clean up same.
it took me quite a while (a few hours, anyway) to get into the right headspace to clean up this debacle. luckily, my bug man placed baits inside the chimney (which was their conduit in & out of the house to get food & water), AND closed the flue, which my ex husband & i mistakenly thought we had closed at the beginning of last winter. oops! big, big, big mistake when you are dealing with cockroaches. you must think like a tiny, flexible, numberless, resourceful invading army. you must think small, which isn’t always easy!!!!!!!!!! my grudging respect for these creatures (which god, after all, thought should be here for some reason which i will press him for, when & if we meet in person), has had to be adjusted even farther upward. it is not mythology alone which says they will be the last surviving creatures on this earth should we experience some lethal global tragedy. damn!
“Ugly catcalls have taken their toll on Bill Simpson and John DecQuir. After just six months,Vidor‘s only remaining black residents are packing their bags, frightened by too many instances of harassment.
“There are good people here, don’t get me wrong,” said Simpson, who moved from nearbyBeaumont. “But it’s overshadowed by the negativity, the hostility, the bigotry of this town.”
A federal judge last year ordered the eastern Texas town, home to 11,000 whites, to desegregate its 70-unit public housing complex. A few blacks moved in last February — the town’s first black residents in at least 70 years. When they walked through town, they were hailed with racist …”
Summer Evening, Beaumont
I was not there. I am only an observer.
The four-year old on his tricycle is
dressed for the heat in loose shorts
and nothing else. His hair appears
disarrayed as he stares at the ground.
The back of his bare skull is as finely
carved as a newborn’s, the delicate
shadows of his shoulder bones ask for
touch. The clumsy chalk lines on the
pavement are from a murder and he
knows it — the blood came out last
night as the torpid sun was going down.
This boy has to make stories up in
his head, but the shy universe he
creates is a notion he’ll never share.
I was not there. I am only an observer.
The dead man was 300 pounds and didn’t
talk much, as he, too, was waiting for a
miracle. Gang members used five or six
bullets, then ran away without taking his
wallet, the item they wanted most of all.
I was not there. I am only an observer.
Hours earlier, the victim had left his
rented home in all-white Vidor; he told
how the folks there threatened to hang him,
he told how lonely it was to wake up every
day and remember where he was. He wasn’t
afraid, he said, just tired of fighting.