Little Sterling. Who is she?
A red rocket ragdoll,
with a blue wagon and tenacity.
Pocket size Mary Jane’s of patent leather,
white tights loose around her knees,
browned where she’s fallen,
scraped her caps against the earth.
But she didn’t cry,
not my brave little sterling.
I watch her play in the dunes
grasps her bucket with both hands;
afraid someone will steal the plastic pail.
Rob her collected seashell treasure.
running towards me, pinkened from the sun
cooking like a Sunday roast
I lick her sweat from my fingertips.
I wish to inject the veracity of her
shoot up her virtue
but instead I wipe her hands with a wet cloth
and inhale her peanut butter breath
Skin so pale, it glows against the sand
covered by a blue suit
a happy daisy on her belly
I see her
dancing on my eyelids
tiny puckered lips of rosebud red
Baby’s breath woven in and out of braids
my blushing baby bride in white
My little Sterling
Anonymous asked: You never post anymore?
This is true. Apologies. Basically, I’ve been writing much longer pieces- full length stories or openings of novels and these sorts of things are not really ideal to post on tumblr due to the length.
I also have a few things I hope to get published and thus am not so keen on uploading them here. There were also two cases of my work being stolen and passed off as someone else on this site and that really boiled my blood and scared me off from posting my stuff - thank goodness I have no intention of publishing anything on here.
But I’ll see if I can’t find something to post that I don’t much care for.
Thanks for reading. x
He served her wine flavoured cookies instead of chocolates;
and pulled back the sleeves of her burgundy dress to expose her aching wrists
He closed his eyes when her fingers traveled the length of a euphony
and when they opened she saw herself take form there
At lessons end she didn’t thank him and wait outside like the others
she’d remain on the bench until her mothers headlights invaded the windows
And he’d brush crumbs from her lips which he found cold as diamonds
Just as luxurious and they came at a price
The curious melancholic fascination lasted until Sunday evening.
And for this reason, Monday burns like oil
He’d seat her palming her spine to perfect her posture
let his fingertips rest too long on her shoulders while they danced
She loved him too but, lovers are always waiting.
They hate to wait; they love to wait.
Wedged between these two feelings, lovers come to think a great deal about time, and to understand it very well, in their perverse way.
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Clouds had permanently draped the trees that summer but the rain offered no reprieve to the oppressive heat that encased the cities residents indoors. People abandoned fresh air and shut themselves inside their homes, the luxurious with central air, and the less so, with electric fans and cherry ice pops.
I lay on the floor, head propped on my hands in a loose white shirt and my underpants. I noticed a leak in the ceiling and my eye’s followed the water as it dripped down the yellowing walls and settled in a pool at the base where the wall met the floor.
James sat to my left in the only chair the flat contained. It was offensively yellow-mustard yellow-and it itched the back of my knees. He was looking fixedly at nothing, rubbing the three-day stubble he hadn’t shaved from his faded skin.
Daisy sat with her knees to her chest on the floor next to him. She was rocking her body to unheeded rhythm. She slid her tongue across her upper lip to remove a line of sweat.
Stagnant. Stagnant heat and stagnant hunger and this was what it was to exist, alone, together.
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I watched Cynthia sway dreamily back and forth on the Olbermanns’ porch swing while I chained my bike to their fence. She caught my footsteps as I made my way down their pathway and beamed tenderly at me. Her long, gray hair polished silver by the dim glow of the porch light.
“Sunshine! What a lovely surprise.” She drew me close to her smelling of basil leaves and vanilla and her embrace felt like everything my mother could never give me. When she pulled away, the porch light illuminated my face and she gasped slightly and covered her mouth with her hand.
“Oh, child.” She delivered the words in a hush and carefully stroked my undamaged cheek lightly with her index finger. Her concern exposed my shaking hands that I crammed into the pockets of my frayed gray jeans to hide.
“My mother is a drug addict and her husband is a homophobe. I need somewhere to stay.” I looked to the ground in shame when I said it.
Conditioned from a young age to believe my very existence was a burden, I felt especially sorry to impose myself on someone as lovely as Cynthia Olbermann.
“Well, of course, sweetheart.” She put her arm around me and led me towards the porch.
She was exceedingly intuitive. It wasn’t why I came but it was why I knew I could.
She recognized the anxiety that accompanied my need for a favor and so she did the nicest thing she could and treated her fifteen-year-old daughters best friend turning up battered in the late evening as though it were ordinary.
“Brian’s away at school.” She continued, “You’ll stay here in his bedroom.”
She ushered me all the way into their house and took my backpack from my shoulders. I seated myself at the kitchen table and instantly, Cynthia was positioning herself in the chair next to mine holding a frozen package of peas to my face.
“People are always spending money on those damn ice packs. I find anything frozen works just as well. Consumerism. People are always trying to reinvent what already exists.”
Her anti-consumerist remark softened me emotionally but caused pain when I tried to raise my cheeks into a smile. I winced. My eye stung and something else was throbbing; my cheek?
“Shh, shh.” I marveled momentarily that this non-word could provide such comfort. The consequence of sound…
“You okay to hold it yourself, kiddo?” I nodded meekly. I wasn’t fine, but I hated the fuss.
“Michael? Lydia? Come into the kitchen! We have company.”
Her husband appeared seconds later looking unkempt—as always— holding an anthology in one hand and a mug in the other. His tobacco pipe hung from his mouth casually. It was as permanent to his face as a freckle. He was a Philosophy professor at Harvard and breathed meaning into the word absentminded. He was brilliant. My favorite conversationalist. But one had to invest energy into a conversation with him. He moved to various points and references the way one moved pieces on a chess bored, erratic but intentional.
“Hey, kiddo!” He patted me on the back. “How is my most promising student?”
Dr. O thought I was brilliant and was constantly recommending me books to read which we would discuss in his office during the weekends I slept at the Olbermann’s house, which was every weekend. Lydia used to grow irritated with him, the way he’d steal my attention with the lure of books and theories, concepts and principles. But she’d grown accustomed to our intellectual pas de deux years ago and now amused herself filling her sketchbooks with images that would later become tattoo stencils while I holed up with him for hours exploring the Metaphysics of Morals. He loved Kant. Nietzsche too.
“Michael. Will you be so kind as to throw some clean sheets on Brian’s bed? Jenn is going to be our houseguest.”
Cynthia delivered these words casually and I felt immediately a little less ashamed. I knew it to be the nonchalance that accompanied their reaction to my late night intrusion that had allowed me to settle slightly, dwell a little more evenly, if only temporarily.
“I’ll do it now… Houseguest! Excellent! This weekend we’ll have to reread this fascinating article I’ve just discovered about the perception of reality weighed against the Kant Model and-”
“Hey fucker, I didn’t know you were coming over!”
Lydia walked into the kitchen then interrupting him as she often did. She didn’t have the same sort of patience for academics I did, but she was smart in other ways. Ways that weren’t always valued in the classroom but ways that made for impeccable understanding of the human condition.
A tangle of blonde framed her persnickety eyes, almond in colour and shape, that always suggested she was up to no good, and generally she was. Depending on your perception of morality, I suppose. She loved to make audacious statements that made others shift uncomfortably. She loved to perceive her sexuality and intelligence combine powerfully conquering those who were afraid to question.
Lydia and I had known one another since second grade but we didn’t become best friends until later.
She asked me when we were thirteen if I was gay.
I told her I wasn’t sure.
She pushed me down on her bed and jammed her lips against mine. She pulled away from me quickly, breathless, and wiped her mouth smiling in accomplishment.
“What was that for?” I asked.
“To figure out if you’re gay! Duh! Did you like it?”
I sat up and folded my knees into my chest.
“I don’t know. Yeah, it was fine I guess.”
She threw her head back and laughed openly.
“Come on, I’m kind of cute.” She poked me teasingly in the ribs.
I looked at her weighing the thought in my mind. I did catch myself looking at her fairly often. And her hair smelled kind of nice.
Finally I nodded in agreement.
“You are cute… kind of.” I teased back.
Then, in an act of bravery she ignited, I leaned forward and kissed her first. It was better, mostly because she hadn’t scared the hell out of me by jumping on top of me unexpectedly and mashing her face into mine.
When we pulled apart, we lay next to the other in silence looking up at her ceiling that we had painted stars across the summer before. I let a few moments pass before I spoke.
“Yeah. I’m gay.” I said.
“I know.” She responded. “I’m not. But you’re a good kisser.”
I swatted her in the shoulder and we erupted into laughter.
We’d been best friends ever since.
I spent every weekend at her house because I wasn’t safe at mine. We had horror movie marathons during which we baked (and often burned) trays of cookies to consume while we screamed in a mixture of terror and delight at the gruesome scenes. I taught her how to skateboard in her driveway and she attempted to teach me how to apply nail polish before we decided maybe I’d be one of those more butch lesbians. And one summer we became hell bent on learning every song to the musical ‘Rent’ and sung them at the top of our lungs in her kitchen into the wee hours of the morning until her mother begged us for sleep.
Her house was always my means of escape and I guess that’s why I was there now, seated broken in her kitchen while her mother fussed with the teapot.
It only took her a moment to register my face after she sat across from me at their kitchen table.
“What the fuck…” She looked back and forth between her parents bewildered. Dr. O disappeared conveniently to tend to the sheets.
“What happened?” Lydia’s eye brimmed with tears and she instinctively laced our fingers together under the table.
“Come on, don’t look so sad.” I teased gently “I look badass with a black eye. The girls are gonna come-a-running.”
She laughed but her laughter brought tears and she squeezed my hand even more tightly.
Cynthia sat down between us at the kitchen table. She took both our hands into hers and sighed:
“Ah, angels. Sometimes life isn’t fair. But, if we are incredibly lucky, we have good friends that stand by us free of judgment or obligation. Be good to one another when the rest of the world isn’t.”
She kissed the inside of our palms as the kettle whistled wildly on the stovetop. She got up to distinguish the flame and poured the hot water over her compilation of dried leaves and fresh herbs. She didn’t believe in pre-packaged tea either. Always trying to reinvent what already exists…
Cynthia returned with mugs of steaming tea and Dr. O reentered the kitchen and sat down across from me at the table assuring me the sheets would be to my contentment.
“So, you care to discuss that article?” He winked at me.
Lydia gave a dramatic groan in protest: “You’ve got to be kidding me, daddy. Not tonight. Tonight we have to do something fun.”
Dr. O grinned: “Kant is fun.”
Lydia’s eyes bore daggers into his and he laughed again.
“Okay, okay. How about I let you smoke some of my pot?” With this, Lydia’s eyes lit up.
“The good stuff?” She asked hopefully.
“The good stuff.”
Lydia ran from the room then to retrieve the jar and Cynthia and Dr. O shared a tender look.
“It might help with the pain too, honey.” Cynthia said to me quietly. I tried to cling to her every word. Not because every word she gave was kind or wise, but because I loved voices and hers was perfection. It didn’t threaten like my stepfathers and it didn’t reek of pills and disappointment like my mothers.
I smiled and it hurt a little less.
“I don’t need a reason to smoke Dr. O’s fire pot.”
They both laughed then; probably less at the attempt at a joke and more out of relief to see my sense of humor was still in tact when my face was anything but.
Lydia returned moments later with the jar and Dr. O pinched some out and his experienced fingers constructed a perfectly rolled joint within seconds. He lit it and inhaled deeply before passing it to the left. And as the four of us sat there around the table drinking tea late into the night, laughing amidst the smoke that was laced with love and liberation, I discovered what it was to be a family.
Your sweat as still black water
drips in descent to colonize
territories stained amid my freckled skin
Shame is etched into my spine
so perfectly lined
you’d think I’d be able to walk upright
clenched fingertips harvest a whiteout
But everything was black
out of governance, his mandate:
Be a man, Be a man
but you were scarcely human
Known otherwise only from the pump of your pulse
Your flesh’s violation proved not softer
than the wired hangers and them,
I much preferred
I laid there losing my mind
and you just watched me collide
Dense, gray droplets fell from above and layered the concrete of her patio. The sky, colourless with leaden melancholy accompanied no remorse and threatened the promise of perpetuity. We sat among the smell of stale smoke and peered together into the gloom, silent in wonderment. Typical London weather but an intangible, atypical sensation hung between us. She looked to me, then through the patio door windows then back at me.
‘Do you want to go for a walk?’
We pulled hoods over our heads and laced our fingertips together. We turned right where we usually went left and made way to a lush, green park near her flat. We spoke minimally but not because there were no words to share between us. But because we had reached a level of intimacy in which words no longer became the sole medium of communication. We let the silence construct an altered tenderness and acclaimed a more complex, intimate level of closeness. We were in the silence together.
She revealed softly that her intentions for me lay with a hill. But, we never made it for I got lost in a tree.
It wasn’t intentional. But there are moments in this life when we are overwhelmed with the magnificence, over taken by the grandiosity of which we are such a trivial fraction. And it is in these rare moments that we endure our insignificance but are not threatened; only humbled.
Moments are mostly fleeting. They’re a touchstone, bordered around our mundane traveled pathways, collecting like dust in the corner of an undisrupted artist’s flat. They pass us like the people we’re not brave enough to smile at, strangers on the streets.
But sporadically, we contend with moments that we wish were tangible enough to hold in our hands. They slap us awake like a jolt from a midday dream when we are more occupied fantasizing about the life we may lead one day instead of contending with the one we’re in.
We try to cling tightly to these and capture them in a jar for our minds safekeeping. We want a reminder of what it felt when we didn’t merely exist among the trivial but when we transcended to greatness. When our souls leapt through skin and we were reminded just why it is we strive for continuance. We strive for these moments though, they’re always unprecedented and unpredictable. You can’t seek these moments; you can only undergo their allure.
This was one of those moments.
The tree, colossal in stature and lush with leaves had earned its years on this earth and I humbly succumbed to its prominence. It had braved a thousand lifetimes, an anthology of sun sets and rises that I would never comprehend so I could only stand modestly in wonderment and marvel at the sheer grace with which the tree professed it’s ascendency.
I lifted my eyes and let the rain settle on my cheekbones. Unable to fathom the splendor of this tree, seemingly reminiscent of Monet’s Bodmer Oak, I was awed. It was overwhelming really, to be so hopelessly inconsequential in the world and feel so wholly triumphed. And my triumph laid in the sweat that settled between our palms while we clutched them together.
…(to be continued)
Upon meeting her, of two things I was certain. Both lingered with the probability of the perpetual; the existential idea of entire. I knew, firstly, that I would never love another this way. But perhaps more perplexingly, discovered, was the daunting task of committing her to paper. Of producing words in the English language that would travel the lengths of her body, that would deliver justice to her core; to unearth words worthy of her splendor. I’ve remained wordless since her ingress.
Due to an existence that is in a constant influx of transition, I embrace chaos assertively but still seek comfort in the realm of the familiar. I didn’t have a childhood bedroom and my first collection was of postal codes, thus, perhaps less surprisingly than envisioned, grocery stores came to embody the comfort of the familiar I craved. I found a sense of calm between the aisles, a place to wander with purpose.
I was not a planner therefore I never entered a grocery store with a list. Lists made me nervous. They were too threatening with the possibility of failure. My course of action for tackling grocery stores was more of the divide and conquer variety. I hold no statistics for the average amount of time one person shopping for a single- family home spends amid the aisles, but I feel I can safely claim I spend more time than most.
I read once that upon entry to a grocery store most people go left thus in some sort of spirit of rebellion I always go right. I wander now towards the second to last aisle and find myself among an army of sweets. Designed to grab the attention of the broken-hearted and weak willed are a multitude of candy wrapped comrades beckoning you into a sugar coma. I am not weak willed to the temptation of sugar nor am I nursing a broken heart, so I continue down the aisle and discover the assemblage of crisps. Crisps are much more impressive here in the UK than in the States. Here exist an array of impressive flavor combinations such as mature cheddar and chive, cracked black pepper and salt, spicy chilli and lime. The UK had the States beat in the crisp flavoring department by a mile. I pick up a blue bag of sea salt and balsamic vinegar and clutch it tightly to my body.
Around the bend of the aisle, I notice a small display of Halloween trinkets. There are a few small plastic pumpkins, Happy Halloween napkins, and an assortment of black and orange beaded necklaces. I always liked the idea of Halloween so I thumbed the beads for a moment before two small children pushed one another to get to the display first. Dressed identically in lilac patterned pants, white t-shirts, and purple jumpers, the elder of the two girls was threatening her sister: “Mum said we can only pick one, Lanor. One thing. You better listen!” Their British accents sounded especially charming to my American ear. I associate the British accent with eloquence and propriety and because children are typically neither of these things, it sounded as though these two children were playing adult.
I always fancied a good produce section. I happened to be an eccentric individual who preferred all her produce to be highly under ripened. Additionally, I had a texture issue- it’s not diagnosed or anything-but it’s as real as a heart attack for all intensive purposes. I will dramatically gag and most likely die if I eat something with a strange texture. This is why I have no relationship with mushrooms. My girlfriend was fairly devastated upon learning I didn’t eat mushrooms. Her devastation moved to confusion however when she realized I had never even properly tried a mushroom. That she simply accepted this strange detail of mine without judgment but rather adoration solidified a lot for me in terms of our potential for lasting coexistence. It really is the little things.
Due to my aforementioned food neuroses, I subsequently host a very tactile relationship with fruits and vegetables. It’s typical for me to spend a cornucopia of time handling various produce in my hands ensuring their solidity. If I even feel a bruised tomato, I will assuredly become disgusted and squeamish. Luckily, the produce here is fairly fresh and under-brusied, organized in black bins one on top of one the other with vegetables on the left and fruit on the right. And they’re carrying green, under ripened bananas.
Among my vices is caffeine- coffee all morning and tea all afternoon means I can always buy milk and be certain it won’t go to waste. I pick up a container now and am pleased to see it has a green top. Green is my favourite colour and I’m glad it is now coordinated with the desired amount of fat content I wish to put into my body.
As established, there is no method to my madness and as a result, there is a never a moment I look down at the items I hold between all my fingers and exclaim: ‘Yes, I’ve got everything. Time to pay.” I just sort of eventually don’t want to be in the grocery store anymore or I begin to suffer withdrawal from my other vice-tobacco- and my desire for a fag outdoes my desire to mosey between the brands.
This moment comes shortly after my fifteen- minute stint in the crack-cheese section and I select a brand of mature cheddar. I have an unhealthy obsession with cheese and it is the only item, in addition to the milk I used to put in my other crack-coffee- that I buy every time I enter a grocery shop. Those two dairy products are the only pattern. They’re my familiar behavior. My typical. My standard.
I make my way to the cashier and find myself face to face with a girl who surely hasn’t yet entered her twenties. She looks scared of me. I find this especially amusing since I have just spent approximately forty- seven minutes in her small grocery store exercising, arguably, minimal sanity.
One of the little girls I had encountered earlier by the Halloween displays runs up to the counter knocking into me. She barely reaches my hip and I sort of smile at her forgivingly.
The cashier who had previously looked scared of me shakes her head seemingly irritated.
“I’m sorry about that.” She exclaims overtly cross.
“It’s okay. She’s only a kid.” I reassure her.
“You have more patience than me.” She says through slightly gritted teeth as she rings up my items. “Every single day that I work here, I feel more like I’m going to completely lose my mind.”
At this, my insides tremble slightly and my lips curl up into what is now a genuine as opposed to merely polite smile. I can’t help it. She is possibly losing her mind in the same grocery store where I’m trying to find mine and somehow this makes all the difference.
I write in metaphors you’re too careless to decipher anyway. My patience wear thin on the sleeve of the coat you’ve slung over the chair without even a glance at what might lay beneath it. You’re vague in response and cavalier in delivery. I watch your eyelids twitch with every movement you don’t direct to me and try to conjure up the way I imagine it to feel. At least I have a memory, imagined as it may be. I could exist on hope alone. You go to the bedroom to lock yourself away and I hang up your coat away from the organs that lay beneath it on the chair. I’ve laid half my heart to rest there. Maybe one day you’ll pick up the pieces.