I’ve Been Busy

By Erika Rae

Memoir

The other day as I was standing in front of the mirror plucking my eyebrows, I was hit hard with a thought: I don’t have time for this.

I leaned back and stared hard at my twin in the mirror.

“I see you, Gemini,” I told her. “But you’re not on the schedule. Sorry.”

I put down the tweezers and walked away.

Now, before you judge me, ladies, I do realize that I need to make time for myself. As the end of my thirties approaches faster than a train filled with Gideon Bibles on the way to the Branson hotel circuit, I acknowledge that if I want to look presentable, I have to make an effort. I must wash and dry my hair. I must change my jeans every so often. I must wax certain places. I must not make a habit of replacing sex with homemade baked goods. If you’re a guy reading this, I can liken it to the necessity of brushing your teeth before you go on a date and thank you so much for reading a full five paragraphs of this post.

The thing is, I don’t have any time. I know a lot of people complain about this. As far as I can tell, this characteristic appears to have been carried on by natural selection, and particularly by those who carry large amounts of German and Scotch-Irish stock, plus the DNA from one illusive yet profoundly legendary Cherokee. That is to say, “lack of time for anything” appears to be one hell of a dominant trait. And lest you think I’m writing this to complain, let me stop you right there. I love it. I love being busy and having something to work toward.

Here is a snippet from my daily schedule, which I write religiously at the dawn of each day:

12:50-1:00 – Clean lunch dishes.
1:00-1:05 – Change “Ashtray Babyhead’s”* diaper. (Multitask challenge: count his toes – he’s falling behind in math)
1:05-1:10 – Make soy latte
1:10-1:15 – Put Ashtray to bed for nap (Multitask challenge: Set 4-year old to work writing the letter “H”)
1:15-1:25 – catch up on essential emails
1:25-1:45 – ISP/Billing
1:45-2:15 – Write 500+ words on memoir
2:15-2:45 – Edits to resume for client
2:45-3:00 – Edits to one Scree article
3:00-3:15 – Check in with publishers for TNB features
3:15-3:30 – Fold laundry
3:30-3:35 – Scrub bathroom sinks (Multitask challenge: come up with topic for next chapter)
3:35-4:05 – Work on book trailer for Devangelical
4:05-4:10 – Refill latte

I would have started the schedule earlier in the day, but it basically can be reduced to teaching my second grader history, language arts and science (we do online charter school), making breakfast and showering. Sometimes in between those things, I get crazy assignments that I have to tuck in here and there. A few weeks ago, I had set up the TNB feature for Oriana Small, author of the porn memoir, Girlvert. Perhaps you saw a picture of a girl with her fist stuck in her mouth on the TNB Headline banner. Yeah, so she was my feature. You’ve always wondered what we TNB editors actually do around here, haven’t you?

Problem was, her excerpt didn’t come in a format that I could just paste into the highly sophisticated TNB interface we TNBers have come to know and love, so I had to type it in word for word. So there I am, in between feeding Goldfish to my two youngest while frantically tapping in eight glorious pages of:

I took the piss into my open mouth with a smile. It was totally ridiculous. I was thinking, Okay, done. Now I’ve tried piss and I can say with truth and conviction whenever someone asks me about it: It’s not that big of a deal.

Then to the kids who are now pulling on my sleeve: What’s that sweetie? You need some more orange juice? OK, here you go. Now where’s your Cookie Monster dolly? Mommy needs to get back to work.

It’s a crazy life. And no, I don’t always finish the task I set out to do in a set time frame – the point is that I pay SOME attention to it during that time period, and then revisit later. After the children go to bed. After the husband gets attention and the dog gets fed. Maybe I’ve plucked my eyebrows by then. Hard to say.

But the MAIN reason for my conspicuous absence as of late (other than the fact that I’m ghostwriting a memoir for somebody…oh, that) is that I’m starting a magazine.

SCREE!

I’m really excited about it, in case you couldn’t tell. I have two partners: the lovely and talented graphic artiste, Carissa Carter, and my tech guru of a husband, Scott. We’ve been working hard at it for months now. The concept is the celebration of the scramble on the way to summiting your venture. Scree is the name climbers use for the loose rocks and boulders you have to cross before you reach the top of a high peak. It’s immense and it’s challenging. Just like my magazine. Just like my life.

We’ve got some incredible features lined up, including some of TNB’s own.

Slade Ham talks about what it’s like to be pushing toward his goals as a professional comic.

Joe Daly spotlights the next big front man in rock n’ roll in the band Dom.

Brin-Jonathan Butler discusses his push uphill as he creates a documentary about world champion Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Kimberly Wetherell talks about being on the brink of successfully producing her first feature film, Lullaby.

Rich Ferguson writes about what it’s like to push toward that ever-illusive goal of actually becoming an urban legend (as well as his poem under the same name).

Nick Belardes even makes a brief appearance dressed like a Russian cosmonaut, excuse me, Commanaut.

There are many others, too. We’ve got an interview with a trending robotics company. A steam-punk electric tandem bicycle inventor. A fashion designer. An award winning photographer. And more. All people working toward the common goal of hitting the top of whatever it is they’re aiming for.  In a way, it’s like reading about next year’s super heroes before they hit it huge and are on the front page of Wired or Rolling Stone.

But it’s not about fame. It’s about the struggle. The push to be the best. The things that drive a person to keep going and make it all the way to their dream. It’s epic. And it’s just a little bit in all of us.

The really cool part is that we’ve finished design on the hard copy and have held the first proof in our hands. It’s a magazine. It’s real. It’s a real magazine. We’ve been working on this for so long now and we’re finally on the brink of letting it go. The web site is close behind the scenes, but to the public it currently looks like this:

http://scree.co

So, yeah. I’ve been busy.

But man, it feels good.

 

 

* And, no. My toddler is not actually named Ashtray Babyhead, thank you very much, Rich Ferguson, for naming him to the TNB community. (Sweet Wittle Ashtway.)

 

It was kind of a poem, TNB’s Rich Ferguson cursing about ten times in a row, rattling off “Fucks!” in spoken-word, submachine-gun fashion while at CSU Bakersfield. He knew he wasn’t going to get to cuss at the family-friendly Russo’s Books. So he had to let go.

None of us get to cuss much at Russo’s. And that’s OK. I get it. Bakersfield is a conservative city 110-miles north of Hollywood. The local Barnes & Noble and the now-dead Borders Books are the same way. Rich still wowed a crowd of CSU Bakersfield poets and guests, mashing together a few of his ditties into a twenty-minute performance as his body swayed beneath shadows cast by his dirty straw hat.

The week before, poet Michael Medrano of Fresno wowed the same class while at Russo’s with selections from his 2009 book “Born in the Cavity of Sunsets” (Arizona State University’s Bilingual Press). Michael rode into town on the Amtrak. It’s a nice ride from Fresno. I’ve taken the route. It swings through Central Valley farmland and cuts through little towns like Hanford and Wasco, places where gangs are out of control and mom-and-pop restaurants are still as tasty as ever.

When he stepped off the train he pulled along a black bag filled with his books, notes, an unpublished manuscript for “When You Left to Burn at Sea,” and some pages from a young adult fiction novel.

I pointed at him and we hugged like brothers.

After a Thai food lunch we grabbed some coffee in the sweltering heat and headed to class at the CSUB OLLI Program poetry course I was teaching. He took the reigns and taught about community. In fact, all weekend we spoke about working together, how poetry scenes in towns and across the nation are dead without writers and poets linking arms and digging in.

I was careful to mostly teach from Medrano’s book as well as Bakersfield poet Gary Hill’s works (including “From a Savage City”) and T.Z. Hernandez book, “Skin Tax.” All three poets, I believe, are part of a poetry brotherhood that needs to further help connect the Central Valley to itself, to Hollywood-L.A. (that would be Rich Ferguson and others I know) and even to Colorado. In fact, T.Z. Hernandez is a Central Valley writer now living in Boulder, Colorado. I’m really looking forward to an Oct. 12 gig at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe with both Medrano and Hernandez. Hernandez mentioned calling it the “Vagos Locos Tour: Poetry, Stories y Mas.” Fitting for a bunch of crazy wandering Latino poets from California’s Central Valley.

After our gig at Russo’s we all ended up at an old mortuary converted into a mansion home with two basements and enough Chinese artifacts to fill all the secret tunnels supposedly beneath Bakersfield. Poets Philip Derouchie and Terry Telford showed up as I was whipping up some salsa and drinking too much Moscato. Derouchie brought beer. So did Medrano.

Poet-literary writer Jane Hawley was there talking up a storm, telling stories about the house. Melinda Carroll, who is the quietest poet on the planet, hung out (actually a tie with Veronica Madrigal, who brought some carne asada and helped me make some rather forgetful Spanish rice. Medrano later said, “Maybe it’s the mortuary that took your rice mojo”). Poet Sofia Reyes had to be talked into showing up.

I cooked the carne asada and talked poetry under the stars with Medrano. “An epic night of Central Valley poets connecting between cities,” I said. It was about then I dropped a tortilla, picked up and flung over the fence into an alley.

“Looks like a spaceship!” a voice from the darkness said.

Soon enough, everyone was eating, even my terrible rice, and talked it up about mortuary ghosts, including one in the house of a cat named Blackbeard. Don’t believe me? There’s even a painting of the cat hanging in a dark room above a bed. Another animal from the mansion dropped dead of a heart attack just days after our shindig. “Cardiac arrest,” Hawley said. “The trainer tried animal CPR.” Apparently you do that for show dogs named Rudy. You rip their little doggy chests open if you have to. But as I mentioned, the little guy didn’t make it. His owner was in Berlin.


(Photo: Dolls found in mortuary mansion closet)

Maybe there was forewarning at our party, because in the middle of dinner, Hawley, whose gramps owns the mortuary mansion, suddenly ran in an odd sort of gait, away from the rest of the poets and launched herself into the pool fully clothed. I can’t think of any other reason than she was possessed by either Blackbeard the cat, who may have wanted her or Rudy dead, or the spirit of poetry infusing her with vibrant energy for a symbolic journey of renewal.

When she emerged there was a june bug in her hair and she screamed.

The next day I got Medrano to the train station barely five minutes before the Amtrak was scheduled to leave. I watched as he ran and boarded one of the big silver passenger cars.

I think I might have worked off an entire cup of coffee in that lone jog,” he later said, grateful he came to Bakersfield and broke bread with a host of tireless poets.

The lover that left too soon, the other that stayed too long;
the driver that cut you off in traffic;
the weatherperson that never gets the five-day forecast right;
the upper class, middle class & lower class;
the infirm & elderly;
Republicans & Democrats;
Hispanics, Blacks & Whites;
Israel & Palestine;
suburbanites & Skid Row denizens.

We all need to make an enemy outta someone.

Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, 
Pinochet, Pol Pot & Ratko Mladic.
They all needed to make an enemy outta someone—
practically everyone but themselves.

Slavery, segregation;
the Civil War & two World Wars;
Vietnam & 9/11;
the Trail of Tears & Mandela imprisoned;
Hiroshima, Nagasaki; 
the Oklahoma City Bombing;
Kent State & Tiananmen Square;
Columbine, the L.A. Riots & global genocides.

Everyone’s got a finger poised 
ready to hit the Doomsday button
like it’s some super-hot G-spot.

We all need to make an enemy outta someone.

The Lincoln assassination, 
JFK assassination,
John Lennon,
Malcolm X,
Medgar Evers, 
Harvey Milk,
Che Guevara,
Trotsky & Ghandi assassinations.

It’s insane,
the way we’ve let guns do the speaking 
instead of peace talks.

And somewhere in the midst of all this bloody history
Martin Luther King Jr. once called out: “I have a dream, I have a dream…”
But sometimes it’s hard to keep a dream alive,
especially when you’re caught in the devil’s crosshairs.

We all need to make an enemy outta someone.

Cover-ups, 
pay-offs & corruption;
secret torture sessions & death.
Invading Libya, Iraq & Afghanistan.
For all the lies our government has told 
its lips may as well be blue:

Truth asphyxiated.

This suicidal tendency,
a blemish of supremacy 
on the face of our nation.
We’re well on our way 
to making enemies out of everyone.
Pretty soon,
we won’t even be able to call 
our own shadow a friend.

We all need to make an enemy outta someone.

It’s a fatal attraction,
the way we make ourselves gasoline
when someone’s heart’s on fire.
We just wanna see all the love
go up in smoke.

And in the name of the Bothered, Stunned & Tortured Ghost,
let me say:
Instead of worshipping,
we’ve spent way too long
warshipping all our Gods & Goddesses 
with bombs instead of prayers.

That’s what happens when you spend too much time
in the zero church:
You never get your soul’s worth of healing.

And so we continue
to prey upon others 
with this religion of vengeance.

We all need to make an enemy outta someone.


Author’s Note: If you’d like to see a video of this piece, click here.

I live a charmed life.It wouldn’t work for most people I don’t think, but for me it is a skin tight glove, molded and designed to fit perfectly.My schedule is hectic.There are planes, and hotels, and stages, and radio stations, and studios, and rental cars, and so many different skylines that the whole world begins to bleed together like a chalk drawing in the rain.

I

We mad fly; we
Dream dry; we
Scribble drunk; we
Fake the funk; we
Keeps it real; we
Sly conceal; we
Royal hall; we
Southern drawl; we
Bleed tears; we
Clink cheers; we
Fling curves; we
Gnaw nerves; we
Break it down; we
Class clown; we
Write raw; we
Down by law.

For a while, I’ve kept what I’m about to tell you to myself. Why I’m sharing it with you now, dear writers and readers, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe it’s because TNB is celebrating its fifth birthday, and being one of the site’s original writers I’ve always done my best to be as open and honest as possible in every piece I’ve posted.

Performing is always tough for writers. I mean, we’re not typically stage-trained theatre experts amped up on auditory performance steroids when reading our prose. The reality is, most writers are just average Joes like me. We stumble, stutter, are monotone, and really are quite boring when we get up in front of people and open our mouths. I don’t know why this is, and have been guilty of it for years. I’ve droned on like a pontificating robot. I’ve blathered, buzzed, and really was in need of a good oiling of my vocal joints.


Since performing at the NYC International Fringe Festival in 2007, LA poet/spoken word artist and TNB contributor Rich Ferguson has made it his mission to once again return to the city to perform.

This coming week (April 20th – 23rd) Ferguson will be back, performing three shows in NYC (one solo, and two others with musician, Bo Blount).


Things you’ve said under your breath.

Things people have said with their last dying breath.

Things that drive people to drink.

Things that made Jesus think, “Maybe I’m in the wrong line of business…”

Things you can only find in Detroit.

Things that make you jump for joy.

Things that make people jump from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Things that get stuck between your teeth.

Things you’ve stuck in your ear, up your nose, or up your butt.

Things that change from ugly to beautiful.

Things that frighten you.

Things that enliven you.

Things to help raise your credit score.

Things to help lower your cholesterol.

Things organisms have done to adapt & survive.

Things that make certain men become priests.

Things that make certain women wrestle alligators.

Things serial killers think about.

Things you find in a dead man’s pockets.

Things you find in your own pockets.

Things named after Greek Gods.

Things people have done in the name of God.

Things that cause acne.

Things that cause cancer.

Things to consider before having a baby.

Things to consider before joining the French Foreign Legion.

Things you’d do if you had wings.

Things you’d do if you had the Green Lantern’s power ring.

Things to help clear your aura.

Things you can clear out of your orifices.

Things you should always buy generic.

Things you’ve always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.

Things associated with winter.

Things associated with summer.

Things you’d do if you only had a week left to live.

Things you’d do if you were President.

Things the atom bomb thinks before going boom.

Things the flower bud thinks before going bloom.

Things they put into processed meats.

Things you do during the five stages of grief.

Things you’ve learned from the Bible.

Things you’ve learned from the National Enquirer.

Things to say while sexting.

Things you should never say to someone who’s depressed.

Things you forget.

Things you desire.

Things you’ve done while under the influence of drugs.

Things you’ve done while under the influence of love.

Things that make you go “Hmmm…”

Things you see when staring up at clouds.

Things your pets do when you’re not around.

Things you can smoke.

Things you can recycle.

Things behind the sun.

Things to make your car run better.

Things you find alongside the road

Things you find washed up on the beach.

Things you build.

Things you compete for.

Things you do when you’re alone in your room.

Things Van Gogh thought just before cutting off his ear.

Things that go in one ear and out the other.

Things you can burn.

Things you can save.

Things to say to get a girl wet.

Things to say to get a guy hard.

Things to say to get kicked off jury duty.

Things you can carry.

Things you can hide.

Things that decay.

Things that rejuvenate.

Things made of plastic.

Things made of corn.

Things put into time capsules.

Things put into compost piles.

Things that live under your skin.

Things you find around Jim Morrison’s grave.

Things that remind you of Buddha.

Things that remind you of Judas.

Things your doctor won’t tell you.

Things your parents won’t tell you.

Things your lover won’t tell you.

Things your best friend won’t tell you.

Things the major corporations won’t tell you.

Things the government won’t tell you.

Will never tell you.


Click here to see the author recite this piece.

What I want: to crank creation’s contrast knob to fully illuminate what’s right about the world.

I wanna be Faith’s strung-out junkie. My dreaming veins singing a better tomorrow.

What I don’t want: to be dust, rust. Roadtripping with demons—Oblivion or bust.

Don’t wanna be that one suicide bullet locked and loaded in the chamber of grief’s gun. Don’t wanna be your blood-lusting grave, your ghost-moan grave, your any kinda grave.

What I want: to spend time in your joy’s city. I’ll sweep the streets, round up criminals, direct traffic—anything and everything to keep your bliss vibrant and alive.

I wanna radioactivate, self-immolate. Burn away all poverty, fear and sickness to fuel the fire of our well-being.

Don’t wanna be an inert gas in the Idiotic Table of Elements. Wanna be a full-on kick in the balls to ignorance.

Never wanna torture or kill any animals or insects in the making of these words, these beliefs, no matter how low I may get between thought, between breath, between life and death.

But if anything must die, let it be the ego. Let it go.

What I want: for you to write on my flesh everything you see and hear when you sleep. Wanna believe the pen outlasts the blade. Freedom outlasts the chains.

I wanna shred your self-doubt, refold it into a confident origami.

Wanna see you go out into the night, take a deep breath. Sip in stars, planets, moonbeams. Let me visit the solar system in your head. Let me be asteroid, nebula. Let us become the Universe of We.

Don’t wanna be old news, worn-out shoes, poorly played blues. Don’t wanna be a perpetual cruiser up and down the Boulevard of Bad Vibes.

I wanna shake our collective birthright of shame, blame. Want the veins in my hands to be Sanskrit letters spelling out the words: “I will hold you up when you’re down.”

I wanna believe that had we lived in the Warsaw Ghetto we would’ve been survivors. We would’ve been books for all to read in the secret libraries.

I want our hearts and minds to unite and revolutionize. Don’t want racism’s fist to be supersized.

And finally, I want every sacred word in every language—dead and alive—to be your first and last name. So whenever I call out to you it feels like I’m praying.


No Animals or Insects Were Tortured or Killed in the Making of This Poem

(Click on above link to watch a video of this piece)


Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a plutonium-toting, off-key singing tailgater; a rabble-rousing, Scrabble-nabber so high on grain alcohol and greenhouses gasses that he couldn’t even parkour his way across a simple thought.


My mother

was full moon,

my father—

lone wolf.


I was their child:

part howl,

part ghost-strung guitar.


I did not cry

when the witch doctor

smacked

the first pain of breath

into me.


Instead,

I sang a song of what was,

what would be,

what would never be.


My birth certificate

was written on a blank page

of starless night.


I was baptized

in a river of black crows.


My first three utterances:


“Holy”


and


“Hold me.”


To this day,

I still search for

meaning and completion

in those three words.



As you may know—but may not, because of my Scorpio predilection for Dick Cheney-level secrecy—I am a semi-professional astrologer.*For many months, I have been quietly collecting birth data from TNB contributors** whenever the topic came up on the comment boards, a sort of horoscopical scavenger hunt that netted quite a few charts for my burgeoning collection.

Author’s Note: Once you’ve read the piece, you’re more than welcome to listen to an audio recording of it as well. Just click here.


For those born with a radarless heart, destined to wander in worried circles while others walk a truer, straighter path, I wait for you. Guide you.

For those failing students of the streets, playing losing odds against the laws of gravity, I wait for you. Change the rules for you.

For those between thoughts, between breaths, between life and death, I wait for you. Fill the silences for you.

For those always ending up last in the soul’s inner-beauty pageant, I wait for you. Crown you.

For those who brave the sun, brave the deoxygenated black-hole dark to write epic poems in the vast spaces between glittering stars, I wait for you. Collaborate with you.

For those who speak from the heart, even when it is broken, knowing that cracked words are better than know words at all, I wait for you. Honor you.

For those gone so ghost that it makes invisibility seem visible, I wait for you. Long to see you.


Gather fractured raptures, make whole, make one. Gather fractured raptures, make whole, make one.


For those who’ve had all the wars of the world written into the lines around their eyes, I wait for you. Bear that history with you.

For those whose lives have been relegated to the B-side of that number one with a bullet hit called “My Gunned Down Life,” I wait for you. Write a better song for you.

For those who work the graveyard shift in the morgue of loneliness, I wait for you. Work side by side with you.

For those who go through life saying, “Here is a map of my spine available to all thrill-seekers—course this pained and treacherous terrain if you dare,” I wait for you. Walk that path with you.

For those who can barely speak or breathe for all the sadness crowding their lungs, I wait for you. Revive and alive you.

For those fatal optimists, hope flourishing but cyanide on standby, I wait for you. Offer taste of faith to you.

For those who consider their existences nothing more than mundane elevator Muzak in the soundtrack of life, I wait for you. Electrify and turn it up to 10 for you.


Gather fractured raptures, make whole, make one. Gather fractured raptures, make whole, make one.


For those whose love has been scattered from halo to horizon, I wait for you. Feel for you.

For those anchored by a failing conviction barely rooting them to earth, I wait for you. Hold on to you.

For those who’ve long since pulled the plug on their personal freak machines, I wait for you. Funky chicken, krump and downrock with you.

For those educated at the finishing school for choked tubas, I wait for you. Sing loud and clear for you.

For those with atom bombs and ghost towns encoded into their DNA so that everywhere they go shit just keeps blowing up and no one ever stays around for very long, I wait for you. Rebuild for you.

For those who’ve shipped their lives off to fictitious addresses hoping to elude reality once and for all, I wait for you. Pick up that mail for you.

For those who voted Nihilistic and got their President of Nothingness, I wait for you. Dream a better world for you.


Gather fractured raptures, make whole, make one. Gather fractured raptures, make whole, make one. Gather fractured raptures, make whole, make one. Make one.



Author’s Note: Once you’ve read the following piece, please feel free to watch the video of it as well. You can see it right here on TNB-TV.


To The Judgmental, Rushing-to-Conclusions Cashier at My Local Supermarket:


Just because I came in at 2 a.m. last night to purchase almond milk, Astroglide and graham crackers doesn’t mean I’m some lactose-intolerant, sport-fucking insomniac with a sweet tooth. It just means that for a change I’m in love. Real love. Capital L. Capital O. Capital V. Capital E: LOVE. All in bright, blinking lights and spread across the evening sky.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, the next time you see me, stop rolling your eyes and shaking your head. Just take my money, gimme my goods and change and I’ll be on my way. Cause waiting for me at home is love. Real love. All that capital letter, bright blinking light love. My love, she’s the one whose steady breath is a calendar marking my days. She’s nothing like those cheap Merlot girls I’ve known before; the ones lacking body, heavy with acidic wit and leaving me feeling like shit the next day.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, even though you may think I’m some babbling Hollywood street freak shaman of oddities, understand that you and me, we’re not so different. You, you’re constantly being pummeled by Muzak, rude customers and fluorescent lights. And me, I’ve also had my share of crushingly catatonic days; feeling way beyond torn, loco as Dahmer, no longer on speaking terms with my soul’s personal embalmer. Instead of a happy man floating on air I was a dead man walking.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, don’t think I’m some 21st Century twist on Jack the Ripper should I come in late one night buying kitchen gloves, razor blades and heavy-duty dental floss. Really, I’m harmless. All I’m trying to do is make sense of love. Capital L. Capital O. Capital V. Capital E: LOVE. Yeah, with my love I’ve learned that muscle memory is far trustworthier than prayer. So I just keep on swinging from the trapeze of her irresistibility, knowing that should I let go she’ll be there with absolute grace, pulling me into her embrace. And the way we move—flesh against flesh, confession against confleshion—it’s like lullabies and locomotives are stitched into our skin.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, stop looking at me like you’re writing me hate mail on the backs of your eyeballs. I’m just trying to make a point here. Just baring my soul, trying to make sense of love. Real love. All that capital letter, bright blinking light love. With my love, I’d gladly bury myself alive deep within the pleasure tomb of her wanting. It don’t scare me that there are no visible exit signs written into her blood, cause there’s nowhere else I’d rather be but love. Real love. Capital L. Capital O. Capital V. Capital E: LOVE. Yeah, my love, she’s the 13th apostle in Faith’s good-luck gospel. Knows her semiotics and semi-automatics. She’s locked and loaded at the 11th hour. Wielding her salvation gun, she’s ready to shoot me not down, but up. Oh, astronomy, Deuteronomy, Nostradamus, Monopoly. While it all might sound like a game here, I’m not kidding.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, stop looking at me like you’re S.W.A.T., just biding your time, waiting for a clear shot. Hear me out when I say that love, real love, my love, all that capital letter, bright blinking light love, she’s my Hope Diamond treasure. My telepathic push-me, pull-you of pleasure. Her lips are assassins doling out bullets of uncomplicated bliss. And when we kiss: Present, past & future, I never know what tense I exist in with her anymore. Cause it all feels like Now.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, know that love, real love, my love, she’s all hips and hydrogen bomb. Blows me away every time I see her walking down the street. She’s my lowdown, sweet and dirty mystic angel, swirling Jersey pirate radio. And oh how I play that station all night long. No more sorrow songs. Those were ten moons and an ocean ago. Back when I had the words early grave tattooed on my psyche. Back when misery blew me away so badly they needed a dustpan and broom to clean me off the walls of Kingdom Come.

So please, judgmental, rushing-to-conclusions cashier at my local supermarket, stop giving me those dirty looks the next time I come in to shop. Especially if I’m buying more almond milk, Astroglide and graham crackers. Believe me, it’s all for a good cause. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you here. I’m just trying to make sense of Capital L, Capital O, Capital V, Capital E: LOVE.