The Prompt About Missing

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The writing prompt asked what I will miss when I die. I did this one last year, and it was really depressing. Hopefully this one is better.

What I will miss when I die.

I will miss the way my feet slip into my brown flip-flops, the soft rubber clapping with the ground underneath me. The way I walk with confidence, as if I own the place. When I die, I will miss the feeling that the ground is mine to walk upon, that there is something here I can claim. Like the way his voice laughs into my ear, the chortles that tell me he has an appreciation for what I just said.

I will miss the taste of iced americanos with a tablespoon of cream. That earthy taste cut with a bit of a cloud, how the liquid turns from dark brown to a soft tan. I will miss the color of trees, how they each look a little ashy yet vibrant with life. Like my mother, like how even at sixty-one she still vibrates with life, and love. And I will miss her smile, the way she always laughs when she doesn’t know what else to say.

When I die I will miss the way this cigarette pokes out of my lips when I type. My daily ritual of smoking and writing, the way I breath in the toxins and exhale through my fingers what memories have been building up inside. I will miss the sound and feel of language on my tongue, how I can speak what I see, can taste the words as they rise up inside of me.

And there are the runs I go on through the trails in the mountains, the way the dirt rustles up to my ankles with each step. The showers after each run I will also miss, how the hot water runs down my naked flesh. Steam fills the bathroom, expands in the air with the smell of water and sweet soap. I will also miss the scent of laundry, of clothes spinning around themselves.

When I die I will miss the excitement of seeing an email in my inbox that is a response to a piece of writing I have submitted. Whether it is an acceptance or rejection, I will miss the feeling of knowing that someone, somewhere is reading the words I have put out into the world. Which will also make me miss the feeling of creating, of typing or writing by hand, of seeing my thoughts as they appear before me.

I will miss the feeling of rocks underneath my hands, or even the fake rocks as I climb around the gym. The sense of my arms stretching, then pulling me up higher. Perhaps it is simply the sense that I have this body, this skin wrapped taught around bones, muscle, and fat that I will miss. This body that has brought my through the world, that gives me the senses to experience all that is around me.

I will miss the cliché sight of sunsets when I die. How is one not supposed to miss the pink turning purple of the sky? And I will miss the awe at all that the world has offered for me to see, even the sight of a squirrel in that alley in Minneapolis, the one that held a stale bagel between its sharp little claws and still managed to hop up onto the tall concrete wall. When I die I will miss looking at animals, any animal, any being that reminds me I am not alone in this world. That will also make me miss the stories we tell with our bodies, the language that seeps out through our pores.

When I die I will miss the way you look at me with wonder, wanting to understand what is going on inside of my brain. And I will miss the joke my friend told about hearse that sat parked across the street from us while we smoked outside in the rain. Is that for one of us? I will miss how we recount our lives by thinking about the objects of our childhood, the Legos that filled our time, even if we didn’t understand what we were supposed to create with them.

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Awe in Austin

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Austin Days

 

I awake with a bit of dizzy lingering above me, and a rib cage that is sore from a too-soft bed. My emerald green robe hangs on its hook across the room, the white plain wall a stark backdrop to its regal pose. The mornings in Austin are crisp, hold the knowledge that it is still spring. I robe myself and shuffle across the white carpet and out onto the small balcony. The sliding glass door opens me to the hazy outside world.

 

There, my eyesight zones in on the two plastic green chairs. My body travels to their destination. Here, I plop down in one, raise my feet up to the edge of the other. The maroon metal railing borders my view as I look through its bars to the damp leaves of the tall trees. I do not know what kind of trees they are, but they are dependable in the way they sway in the wind.

 

But this morning it is not windy. The remnants of rain linger in the air, on the metal railing from the night before. Small brown birds and strong-voiced crows sing and cackle themselves awake. The mornings here are still, are in a reprieve from the muggy heat of the day before. It is in these mornings that my brain opens up to the world, that I bring my blue pen and expectant notebook out onto the porch with me. They fill up with my morning ramblings, with the words that start to crawl themselves out of my body.

 

I sit in my green robe, in my green chair, by the damp green leaves, and I yawn into the day, twirl my fingers around my knotted hair. This is me waking up, considering what all I will do with this day, the words I will face as I continue to spend my time writing, searching for the phrases that feel right on my skin.

 

*

 

The day has gone by in a swirl of writing and napping. It is now early evening and the experience of a morning in Austin feels so far away. What lingers from each morning is how the air hangs much cooler than I expect it to be, and the walls tilt in my head as I stumble out onto the porch constantly dehydrated. I have a cigarette first thing when I wake up for no other reason than routine. That, and I feel as if the nicotine will help to push my eyelids open just a smidge faster.

 

I realize in the evenings that there’s also a speck of dread that fills each morning, one that wonders what it is I will do with my day. Sometimes there is a sense of awe here, that I can do whatever I please. But mostly it is me looking up at gray clouds, wondering why I spend so much of my time working on something that does not financially pay. Words to keep me going, my day that always makes me feel dumb and useless by the time the sun goes down. I question what it is that has been achieved.

 

This is the dread with which I start each morning. Then I go buy coffee and plunge into writing—any words that get my hand, my head moving. And then I am at the small black table, smoking away at a cigarette, letting the blue ink drip words out of me. The chair is wood and metal, always stiff and rarely comfortable. Like my body before it runs. I tell myself each morning I will run before it gets hot, and each morning that thought lingers in my body until the sun is sweating and I force myself to go to the gym in the afternoon and strap myself to the dreaded treadmill. I move in the afternoons when the words begin to feel stifling.

 

But this is about morning and feeling the oncoming day hover in the air around me. This is about the morning expectations of some such and such thing which never feels quite clear. This is about wondering what will come out of me that day, how many hours I will spend reading my words on the page.

 

*

 

It is more into the evening, and I try to settle down to sleep. This could be the light of the gray early dawn, but it is the haze of the night stepping forward. I end my day considering the next morning, how I will sleep for nine hours and then wake again. And again, I do not know what it is I will do with my day. Decisions hang indecisively in the muggy air.

 

Perhaps I could say what Austin is like at night, how the day seems to stretch out later here than in Minneapolis, how the birds regain their nightly quiet. And the frogs continue to make their presence known, the strumming thrum of something that is awake with me.

 

The night descends, and I loose sight of these lines as I sit out on the porch with a pen, a cigarette and an expectant notebook. What I accomplished today was giving myself a break—only working for an hour to write these words. Instead of writing for ten hours, I read a book. Took 168 pages into my eyes. A love story processed in the brain. It reminded me how each night as I lie down with my lover, I think of all of those past loves, the women who have slipped out of my life. One loudly, one silently who is still slipping. Each felt like a scream.

 

This is night, when dreams run rampant and I do not know what else to do with my brain but just try to let it be. The night here is still, quieting. The apartment is dark, the bed hiding itself in shadows. How my knee always finds it, runs into the black metal bar.

 

But not tonight. Tonight I am couch-bound. Letting my sick lover reign over the bed, I will lie my body on the black leather couch and drift into something that hopefully feels like dreams.

 

*

 

I cannot sleep.

 

Here is my night as I yawn into its silence. The candle is lit because I know of nothing else to do. I write in the quiet that sweeps through the apartment, as if it is 4am and I am just now waking. The dark is what draws me in the most—the time when the world hides itself from curious, listening eyes.

 

I feel my pen glide across the page, and my eyes adjust to this rhythm. There is the hum from the refrigerator, one from the chirp of frogs outside. The sound of my sick lover is whisperless, his fever deafening out all sighs. He rests. I write because it is the only thing I know how to do.

 

And I worry about money, because I’m good at that, too. Between now and a potential publication, I must continue to settle into my thoughts, to nestle into what nudges me to continue this writing, this belief in myself. And it is not the fact of money. That is not what I hope to gain.

 

There is much here that has been lost. Life, love, body, mind. But the writing persists through the strength of the soul, pluralizes itself with each word recorded. I do not know what all I have done today but witnessed the world turn another page. Tomorrow I will read back through all I wrote and search for at least one word that will push me into the next.

 

I am surrounded by clutter on my desk, and it is clutter that feels like me, like the things I use to continue on with me. Music and cigarettes. Candle, water, books and computers. Something here tells me something about me. What it says is that I am still searching for this. Perhaps I always will be.

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Rotten

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The breeze tickles through my legs. The rain cleared from the sky hours ago. It was rain that kept me home from work today, the wetness that told me to stay put. Knowing that if I did this, if I didn’t go into work, then I would not have my job, I threw down my bag that I packed for work, and picked up my pen. This is what I was meant to do, to write. And so I search for meaning outside of the burdens of work.

I need a job in which I can call in with creativity. As in: “I’m feeling creative today and need to stay home to write.”

In this afternoon sun which no longer hides behind the rain clouds, I sit comfortably in my own work clothes, the clothes I threw my body into when I decided to not go to work. My uniform for my own workday: brown tattered cut-offs, and a navy blue tank that hangs loosely from my shoulders. The tattoos are not covered, the leg and armpit hair waves freely, and I have yet to put on shoes today. This is how I work: comfortably in my body, staying present in my thoughts as I work at not tuning out the world, like I do whenever I am at a job.

Perhaps I am not wired correctly to have a job in the outside world. And perhaps this is okay. I have found my niche, my writing desk I sit at for over eight hours a day, and work at my unpaid career of writing. There are words I jot down that will never be published. The nonsensical meditative bits I open my brain up with every morning. Still, I write. But there is meaning here. The meaning being that I am writing.

The job I quit today was one that I actually hadn’t been hired at yet. I was to come in for two test shifts totaling eleven hours to see if the job was right for me, if I was right for the job. The job: taking care of dogs. Something I love to do, something I’ve been paid to do before. I knew I could do this job well, would probably even enjoy doing it, too. But the rain told me to stay home, as in: Wouldn’t it be nice to stay inside all cozy today and just write? Yes, yes it would.

And I’m financially in the space where I can do this, because I have loved ones who believe in me, who support my work. Thanks, guys.

But perhaps I’m just spoiled.

Thinking about spoiled, though, makes me think about what is rotten. For example: making someone work for eleven hours in which you will not pay them. Rotten. Taking care of wet dogs who are unhappy and snappy. Rotten. Walking in the pouring down rain to prove myself for six hours that I can work a job I’ve done for many years in the past. Rotten. As in: hell no.

Perhaps, though, I’m hiding. Instead of telling the boss I think it’s rotten that she’s making me work for free, that she’s spoiled to get my skill set donated to her, I hide behind these words with the hopes that she will never Google search me and come across this blog. If she does, well, then, oops. Because maybe these words were meant to be read. Maybe she’ll hire me on anyway, seeing that I did spend my day working for free. Such tenacity.

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Meantime

 

The candle blinks itself awake onto the page. This is the writer’s time to prove she is awake, to imprint words, her existence into this space. This is her place to show something of herself. To say yes, see me? See? The candle doesn’t really blink, though. It stares at her, a concentrated gaze that wonders at what she’s doing awake at this hour, plotting out words that may pile up to nothing. And the pages’ lines are light, hard to follow. She chews on her words like a cow, looking disgusted and slightly bored. She has yet to wake up to their beauty.

 

What she needs to have happen: someone, somewhere says yes. She needs to hear that yes, to know fully the feeling of acceptance, of an editor saying yes to her work, her words. And even though she does know that feeling, she craves more. She has in fact felt it eight—or is it nine now?–times before. She’s lost track of the number of times she has read that yes, and yet she still wants more.

 

What the yes means: someone, somewhere says thank you.

 

The candle is still not blinking and perhaps never blinked to begin with. But she liked that thought, that sentence as it found its way across the page. What she doesn’t like: waiting. How anxiously time slips by. The emails drip into her inbox, none of them containing a response. Not even a no, to which she is very accustomed. The no also says something. Says, yes, someone is actually reading.

 

What she must do in the meantime: Think. Write. And what she thinks, writes in this early morning hour is, why is it called meantime? Because it is mean, this time in between. This time in which she does not know the contents of the response, and so all she can do is continue to write, to wonder about the meantime. She can simply wait, simply hope that more words will slowly begin to slip out of her bones in order to accrue themselves into essays, words that will one day gain meantimes of their own.

 

Now the candle blinks. The air conditioner has kicked in, cutting cool air through the muggy heat, and the candle flickers its acknowledgment. The steady whoosh of the AC—which is not really a hum, and definitely not a buzz, but the sound of air pushing against itself—fills the blank space behind her ears. The space in which more apartment roles out behind her, specifically the portion that unfurls itself into a bed. She is tempted.

 

But she writes, turns her back to that image of sleep, yawns in the crisp AC’d air, blinks into the soft lines of the space created between flickers, soothes out the wrinkles of her impatience, taps a vein, and flows onto the page. Because this is what she knows how to do. She commands herself to write in the meantime, to fill her time as she waits patiently for a response. She believes her diligence will create more words that will soon fall themselves into submission. Concentrating, having faith that the sentences will line themselves up properly in order to be read, judged. The words begin stick to each other, bravely take their places. And all she can do now is blow out the candle, wish her attentive body, which is to say her increasingly impatient and waiting body, back to sleep.

 

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For Sabrina, For Always

I think I saw you looking at my scars. And if you saw them, you didn’t say anything. If you saw them, if your eyes saw what hurt I went through when you weren’t around, then that means my best friend of thirteen years had speech fallen silent on her tongue when it came to that part of my past. And even if you saw them, perhaps you knew you didn’t need to say anything, didn’t need to speak how I knew you wished that didn’t happen, and how I know you wish you could have been there for me. With over 1,000 miles between us during those years where my skin broke open to my pain, I always knew you were there for me, that I could reach out to you if I could have just figured out how.

 

You said you like my writing. Even when it’s just about me writing at 3am, you like my writing. This makes me smile. Here I am, Sabrina. It’s 6:13am. I woke up later than usual because I was out late with you. Past my bed time, I stayed up and watched Roller Derby with you and your family. I watched as the women found their way around the track, found—as you stated—who they are through this sport.

 

I sit at the desk Spence got for me to make me feel at home here. It’s my writing place, and it’s the best I’ve ever had. It has a glass top—a bit milky, or is it frosted? Either way, it shines back to the world what the candlelight spotlights on my desk. Books of poetry, a carton of cigarettes, the flame of light itself.

 

The world is still right now, though I hear my lover rise in the other room. He and I are two souls finding their way in this world through writing and creating. And this is how we live—through creating and breathing. He leans over and kisses me, and I put my hand on the small of his back. My index finger touches his mole. I am starting to learn about the geography of his skin.

 

I wonder if you want to know this. Does writing about my lover satisfy you in the same way all of my other writing does? I would like to think yes. Even if this lover is a man. And you said to me last night how you didn’t care that we wouldn’t grow into old dykes together because it’s him, you said. He is the only man I have ever trusted, the only man you would ever trust to treat me properly, like how you treat me, with love and awe and honesty.

 

But the writing this morning isn’t about him. It’s about how I saw you yesterday for the first time in a few years. How you had on those bright orange sunglasses that nobody else could wear but you. How you had on white cargo shorts, and wouldn’t sit on the rocks because you didn’t want to dirty them. And your eyebrow is still pierced, your hair sticks up to the sky. And we both wore black t-shirts, because some things never change.

 

What else hasn’t changed: the way you smile around your family, the way your family hugs me after all of these years. Your sister has grown up, is now coming into herself and her own sexuality. I remember her at sixteen, when she was just starting to figure out who she was. And I remember you at that age, too. Your blue car with the Limp Bizcit sticker on the back. The way you wore that Adidas visor turned backwards. The way you always smiled at me.

 

What has changed: our lovers, our lives. The fact that we only see each other every few years or so instead of every day. Our jobs, our houses. But what we want in this world is still the same. You, providing for your family, those you love. Me, writing. And we support each other in that. I see you around your family, and I can still feel that love you have for them. And you told me you like my writing. So thank you, Sabrina. This one’s for you.

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A Greedy Yes

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The stirring rhetoric of this space. Language leaking out of the walls, slushing down to the carpeted floor, my toes.

 

You do understand, don’t you?

 

Here is the place where a heart may beat if it wishes. The skin crawls without chronology. These hands are awaiting recollection. Our fingers weave the grammar, the exact notion of something well structured. Behind everything the sound of something heating. The point of calm to a wavy boil, your hands redden the skin into overload. Blood that rises. Filled with the sensation of being suddenly completed. The never to lose its strength found in this loose subjective weave: my name. I am not brought into this delicacy. Did you hear where my lover has gone? A silent sleeping, steeping. I point my fingers up to the sky. And a butterfly licked his finger not just yesterday, but when luck shimmied  down into his heart. How we hope, hold whole. How we unhinge from this narrative. Gender crossing boundaries, infringing into new territory. Strike me down with your story. And with.

 

The elasticity of not knowing. And the reader should know how his t-shirt slings across my shoulders, sucks onto his chest. The hair, the tangles in my own, my legs folded around hips like origami cranes. There is a packet of poems stacked up against memories. The rose bushes and the nautilus shell. The inner ear. You hear? How the tapping of ants rhythm me into a deep. And for a time, a treasure with a feeling of _______. Like nine dried olives hanging from a string. Lightning crackles in the shape of my finger moving. I whisper. Lounge into the luck. Hold into the hope. Sing into the sway. Here is another day. As where to make it into home. A breath of finally, the grammar grows. Greedy for the thought of yes. An absolute infinity.

 

Did you hear how the spider hangs mid-air? The shadow of smoke stacked against the wave (length) of legs. Here is a face that screws (yes, screws) into the pattern of desire. Dipped into that photo today, the one where you held my dog’s foot, belly up. Astrological meanings in your lap, a book. How we weren’t meant to know this lineup. Pick through the _______. We weren’t meant to concede, then. Then–

 

I am waiting to hear your legs. See your torso turn over in sleep. Greedy for the thought of yes. You may approach me. Behind the shoulder, I glance over the owl that used to hold meaning. The stars align, that meaning. She was not you. Six she’s stacked against years of wanting to know. The denial of desire weeping. An anxious smoke held in this world, my hand. As where it feels like living. Like life. Sun slinking away from shadows, receding into a textual pause.

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Color Me

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There’s a history between my lover and I that I am trying to remember, to make live again through these words, to bring new life to old meaning. There were the times we spent living together in college, the endless nights of drinking and talking. I remember the house on East 15th Street. A small house, technically a three-bedroom, though the third room was half the size of the other two. That is where he lived, his little hole in the world in which he carved out his existence. The small mattress on the floor, a navy blue blanket covering it. I remember his small black desk pushed up against the opposite wall, leaving a thin open track of white carpet in which to step through to get to the sliding glass doors, the large porch and long backyard. He had a tall bookcase against one wall. Dark brown and full of schoolbooks. Literary texts, poetry, and theory. He is an intelligent man.

I remember a night I sat with him on his floor. He had an art book open about the energies of the body, about the microcosms of life. He explained these things to me, showed me the book, the colors coming out of a diagram of a skull, a soul. I didn’t understand it then, but I could feel what he was saying, could sense he was discovering something about himself as he gazed at the words, the artwork.

This is how we created a home—on understanding and sharing. How he saw me through my father’s death, how I thought about him when he wandered off. And I always wanted him around, always wanted to feel our energy fields cross, combine.

Much later, six years after our time on the floor discussing the energies of the body, I will fall asleep on his naked chest. My eyes will be closed to the pitch black room, but I will be woken from my post-sex daze by a striking white light. It does not exist when I open my eyes, but I can feel it in the air, can see it swirling underneath my eyelids. It shifts from each corner, swishes and shimmers across my pupils. I’m seeing a bright white light, I whisper to him from underneath his chin. He asks me to describe it, but I have no words, can only see it with no description. Maybe you’re seeing our energy fields, he says. And with his rough chin hair tickling my forehead, with my hands grazing the hair across his chest, I fall asleep in the ensconcing white light knowing his explanation isn’t absurd.

He tells me now about the dream he had back then, the one that occurred seven years ago when we were living together in a different house. This is a dream he could never forget. This was during his juice fast, when he was trying to rid his body of a crazy feeling, thinking if he took away the toxins perhaps a bit of sanity would return. He was in his room that was a quarter of the size of mine. This is in the house on Olive Street, the one with five bedrooms and a hole in the floor. His bed sat up on stilts, a loft built in order to make more room in his small den of the world.

He lied on the mattress and either fell asleep or passed out from his juice fast in the Texas heat. He slept. And in his dream he traveled to my bed across the hall, and laid down next to me. In this dream, I told him something comforting, some passionate words, I wish I knew what they were, and he says he saw a green light engulf us.

He woke up to that feeling of me, of us.

Seven years later I awake to him in my bed, his back turned towards me as I wrap my right arm around his shoulder. And the moonlight is streaming in through my window, creating a glowing silhouette of this man in my bed. This best friend that became more.

I am moving across the country to be with him. How I can’t resist living with someone who helps me to  see a vibrating orange light after he makes me orgasm, makes me come, yet again.

I have two weeks to go until I can reach out and hold this man again. Two weeks in which my eyes will be dull to the world, will not see the colors of our energies. But then there’s this: a night, on the phone, his voice streaming into my ear. I close my eyes against the want in my chest, hug a pillow to soften this need. The white light returns to my eyes, pulses with each word he says. And I can feel him lying in his own bed, feel him reaching out for his creamy pillows, for me.

He wore a gray shirt the first time he came to visit me, when we saw each other again, and for the first time, and in a different light. Six years had passed. His gray shirt was hidden underneath his black leather jacket, and I saw him walking across the bus terminal, striding in front of me. I was so in awe, so shocked by the fact that his flame of energy was finally near my own, that I couldn’t find my breath to say his name. Then he turned. Then I ran up to him, my red and tan cowboy boots ka-thunking on the white tiled floor. A huge hug, bodies colliding, and I turn into him for our first kiss. He plunges. Eight years of wanting,  of waiting, of knowing, and we finally find our lips together. How I closed my eyes right then and saw yellow. And yes, there were sparks. And yes, they flew. Electricity through the lips, this is what we do, how we love, the colors increasing out of our skulls, our souls.

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