so what is she supposed to be? he asks, his gaze stalling on mine as he lights a cigarette in the bathroom stall of the city’s cheapest bar, his eyes like satellite discs, roaming the epicenter of a stretch of tidal wave girls, & me just happening to be a thorn in the midst of their saltwater hemmed limbs, their sugarplum lips, their laughs like molten gold.
she looks out of place, he adds. because it’s true. because i’m out of place wherever i go. i shrink into my coat. i pretend that i don’t see him, i gaze out at the crowd. a congregation of delirious devil-worshippers, boys & girls trading their merry-go-round brains for baits of ice, crystal, leaves. whatever’s taking souls on a sunday night. whatever kills the quickest. behind the chiseled bar, rows of wine glasses gleam like a selection of murder weapons.
from somewhere, summoned like ghosts, an aggregate of disembodied voices reply: a woman, a god, an anthem of spokes. fine grains of desert sand. an endless alleyway. rain, rain, bloodshot sky. burnt roses littering funeral grounds.
the voices continue, even as his green eyes wander. lightning within the root. someone falling from the bannisters. poison ivy, seeping into a rotting mouth. trigger-happy hands, always going for the sharpest object within reach. bombs trickling off like- he loses interest.
i smile like, no worries, this isn’t embarrassing at all. i’ll create a story where you care. i’m a magician, didn’t you know? i can make things appear from out of my head! a story where you buy me flowers and we mouth off at the sunset. where you cook me eggs runnier than my thoughts, i wear something pink and we devour this town together.
my mother used to say, loneliness is a bug, once you catch it, you can’t quite get rid of it. not without the hospital visits. not without the vaccinations. not without the nurses with sinister bobcat eyes stealing the blood from your body and storing it in little glass vials. not without losing bits of yourself. bits you never get to have back. bits you have to fight for to keep.
as your sanity, that ever-slippery ice cap, floats farther & farther away from your burned, bludgeoned, berserk island of a body.
i miss gripping for power lines in my rain boots. finding solace in the neck of a stranger. three-hour long showers and gardening myself (here, chrysanthemums tucked into the ribs, and there, a daffodil beneath the knee) i miss what it’s all supposed to mean, back when everything still had a point & the world was somehow a kinder place, being human on a steady diet of dreams, creating a breach in a star-system, losing faith & pilfering it back from chapels. tumbling, always backwards, into the closest abyss.
SING, VOLATILE CANARY, ERUPT! LEAVE STARS IN YOUR WAKE || j.r