I was living in a group home in Pacific Palisades.  He was a friend of my brother’s and had accidentally fallen in love with me. I remember a night when we lay side by side in the dark, he talking about his mother’s death and me, the loss of my wild crazy mother.  Both of us talking, tears secretly rolling down our cheeks.   At midnight I said, “It’s my birthday.  This is my first birthday without my mom.”  Then, in the pouring rain, he drove me to go buy tampons.  I sat in his 1976 Volare.  He ran up to the 7-11 window, tapped on the glass, and held up two different tampon boxes.  He was big and Puerto Rican and overly pierced and his laugh was awkward but something told me that with all of his giant features and doofiness he really did love me.

Four Years after The Party: A Prelude

Lynnie shared notes and aghast looks with me during French and geometry. We had overlapping circles of friends, subsets of the nerdiest, quirkiest, and smartest kids in our high school. She lived not only outside of the school district’s boundaries but also the city limits. Because our school had a gifted program, she didn’t have to go to the less challenging institution closer to home.

She lived in the boonies, BFE, on the rural edge of a small town. Not that I’d been there. This had come up in conversation a few times.

She invited me to a party at her house. I was most certainly non-committal when I accepted her handwritten driving instructions. I had plenty of reasons why I didn’t think my attendance was a good idea. The most consciously unsettling one–a boy I liked, far more than I wished to admit, might be there. 

I was a block of ore until I was poured
into the mold of my mother. I am iron cast and cold.
I inhale and the oxygen makes me rust.

I am seventeen years old.  I tell unimportant lies
about myself because it makes me feel guilty,
and guilt makes the days last longer.
I am afraid of dying.  I am seventeen and my girlfriend used to be
a prostitute, but I am seventeen and I don’t care,
I love her and how she is a cup that holds me.
She has hair that fills my hands like a fountain
of root beer and laughs
when I tell her I love her.

I am eighteen and the surface of my mother cracks.
The flood of beer that pours from her shattered mouth washes me
into the street, and it makes me rust more.
I am homeless and a prostitute wears me around her neck
like a knife on a chain;  I shelter between her breasts.
It is all i know of warmth.

Nineteen and she has eyes made of honey.
They stick to me.  Our apartment is an anthill.
I am nineteen and my muscles march under my skin.
I pour kerosene into my hollow guts.
I tell myself that I will be a candle,
or a lamp, but I keep starting fires
when my cup overflows.

I am twenty years old.
I am only full of rust and when the flood in me moves
it is not breathing, it is my sewerpipe bones
telling lies to make the day longer.  I am twenty years old.
I love her and we carry the same secret home at night.
I know she still fucks for money.
I am leaving her because she looks at me
with my mother’s eyes.  The guilt sticks to my pipes.
I wash it down with gasoline, I am slick with gasoline,
I am burning down our house with my mouth.