Garage

Maybe it would be better if humans had cat eyes that could reflect when a light shines on them. Little pearlescent ovals, there in the darkness.

I live in a world where I own a garage, and in the garage there is a person I don’t know, waiting for me. The person has a 401(k) but doesn’t know what it means. In their head, they read it as “Four oh one, kay?” I know this because I do the same. John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt? Is that you?

This person has a damp, stained purple rag in their right hand, a present for me. On their mouth is a stain, too. Of convenience store, cherry-red slush.

It is April and I am moments from it now. There is an odd breeze flowing through the still-dead husks of oak leaves leftover from winter, just behind me.

If humans had cat eyes I would open the garage door and see this person’s gaze reflecting against the soft light from the streetlamp. If I saw them, I might freeze for a moment. I might stop and reflect on the state of things — on the weather — on how content I might be feeling — whether what I have eaten agrees with me — whether I have a runny nose.

But then? What? I would know what it means, to be there, to see those deep-sea eyes hovering blindly where they are, just in the corner, unblinking; I wasn’t born yesterday. I would like to think that I have even lived a life fulfilled, have seen and done enough to feel content with what was about to happen. I might think that it would be time to join them, and I would close the door, shuttering their eyes and allowing them the courtesy of approaching me in a perfect stillness. I wouldn’t even scream.

Maybe it wouldn’t be better after all. Maybe it’s better how it is.

Photograph by Todd Hido, an artist I deeply admire, from his collection “Homes at Night.” Whenever it gets warm and I find myself outside at night, I can’t help but think of this collection as I roam the alleyways in search of something I don’t think exists. Consider checking out and supporting this artist.

To YOUNG ONE, Dead on My Roof

i.
the icelandic word
gluggaveður
loosely translates to
“window weather”
and how fitting
for that day
in early april

ii.
when a sinister shape
took my window, all
rook and malice,
primordial sound-terror
echolalia caw, caw, aw
and perched on the
plateau of my garage —

iii.
•scanning, scanning•
buttonblack were his eyes,
obsidian
and carrioncrazed!
the raven slid his talons
pianist-like across the shingles

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The Blood Moon

I dreamt in arpeggios the night of the blood moon. The world became an overfull glass of red wine under its infrared glare. Plants in my windows, muted to grey, alien tentacles tickling the panes in the inverted light, shivered, their roots tightening in suspense of the claret nightmare the blood moon bore.

A paragraph away, I found myself stretched to fit the countryside, pores sprouting newborn life, eyes, large as the craters of the clotted moon, pools of gelatin, ecosystems revolving around demonic nuclei. Ropes of eternity clasped around me like lover’s hands, burning bonds into my skin until there was no telling lariat from dermis.

My molten heart cried out in anguish, Please, let there be more! as tectonic plates slid together to applause the soliloquy. The earth seized, tides defied gravity, stretching up toward the heavens in a twisted braid. My pillow became damp, then the sheets, the liquid crimson, warm sex. Onward, onward into the hematic night, entire universes nestled into my teardrops.

Come morning, come night, the music of the dreamworld tinged with bittersweet recollection, I woke, scarred by the wound of time, by the blood moon unhung, inside me.

*

Photo credit: “Total Lunar Eclipse” by GSFC, licensed under CC by 2.0. 

I Remember

A boy riding a bicycle down a lane.

[This post is an homage to my college creative nonfiction classes, where we were asked to write a string of sentences that all begin with “I remember…” It’s such a great exercise to get you in the mood for writing, especially nonfiction. The exercise is based on Joe Brainard’s book of the same title (1970). Feel free to comment your own I remembers.]

I remember the dusty hayloft and rickety ladder, and the abandoned pile of horseshoes found beneath the hay.

I remember the adult-sized tricycle Natalie gave me before she died. I pedaled it up the hill and down the small gravel path that led to the cell phone tower, where I sat and watched the sun rise.

I remember when the chain rusted and snapped and the brakes stopped working and how I took the bike back to Natalie’s house in the middle of the night without telling her parents it was me who had it in the first place and how I never went back there again.

I remember bokchoy in oyster sauce, and sneaking kisses while his father watched the Peking Opera on the couch.

I remember inerasable red rings around our mouths from drinking fruit punch from plastic jugs in the sweltering heat.

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Why I Run – Part 2

Blés Verts

  1. I run to understand my body.

My first foray into successful athleticism, and I think it all has to do with my starting the practice of yoga, which sounds cheesy, which sounds like something my yoga instructor would say after she says something like, “trust yourself and your breath in this moment.” She will pause, following with, “Oh that sounds cheesy, doesn’t it…?” Because these things do sound cheesy, like when someone tells you finding religion brought them out of darkness, or when you hear that anything is possible if you try. These things are the bread and butter of earlier generations—inspiration and mindfulness, coming to terms with fundamental flaws—things the millennial mind is trained to immediately distrust, to dissect to disembodied parts that, on their own, expose their raw, visceral undercurrent: a problem with systems, the status quo, not a problem with self. Never trust what works for another because you are your own person. Standardization is the enemy.

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Why I Run – Part 1

Blés VertsMost of my friends are much younger than I am. This is a new sensation for me; I grew up the oldest in my grade. I think these new friends are the ones who really helped me notice why and how I exercise. They are mostly Asian American, all with an unfair, carved from birth, leanness that, at once, makes my mouth water and my brow furrow. During their formative years, they used their celestial DNA to their advantage, participating and excelling in their middle- and high-school athletic programs, finding that their high metabolism was enough to unearth their preternatural athleticism.

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Lepidopterology

A butterfly with half a wing sits enjoying an orange slice.

The butterflies flitted throughout the conservatory like fleeting glimpses of perfection and fragility.  Each time one of the tourists tried to hone their sights to just one, it leapt in a current of warm air and avoided the confrontation. The tourists drank the beautiful sights of the garden, heard the slapping of water over eroding stones, smelled the sugary-thick air and tried vigorously to capture one of these ever-flapping butterflies on film, to save in their photo albums (stored in the attic).

A small boy walked in the garden too, feeling differing feelings, seeing the same things. His hands, moist, clutched a camera like the crumbling edifice of a building.  He attempted to capture, behind the flapping wings, a tangible truth, an unconventional beauty. A pedestal stood rusting in a corner of the conservatory. Resting on it, a neat array of orange slices provided the butterflies with a treat if they desired. That day, the boy noted, the oranges seemed unappealing to all but one—all of the butterflies found better food, the pedestals basked in sunlight, and all of the tourists followed.  Sitting atop the oranges, a butterfly with half a wing seemed to call its attention to the boy and nobody else. Sweat clung to his face, and small particles dripped like warm rain to the floor as he pressed his finger to the camera—he hovered above the scene like aircraft.  The butterfly fluttered its wing in alarm, trying to move, but couldn’t. So there it stayed, trapped in saccharine nectar, burnt into an image of light.