Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rebirth

He walks slowly down the abandoned halls which are now silted in dust and cobwebs, sadly smiling to himself as he reminisces over what once long was. The sharp undertow of forgotten memories, some good – most of them bad, causes him to stop and steady himself with a sure hand as he pauses to process the resonating turmoil of people, places, and words which softly drum upon the recessed canopy of his thoughts. Shadowy movements in his peripheral vision makes him turn, curiously cocking his head, unmistakable human forms held in tight embrace dancing in a club, deeply swallowed inside the swirling notes and synthetic beats. Which as quickly as they appeared, immediately fade away. The familiar yet unfamiliar. He hears the sharp clink of glasses behind him and the faintest sound of laughter. He turns to find an empty room containing only thick, heavy blackness blanketing a dilapidated bed.

He trudges on. The barrage of auditory and visual cues increasing. Faces, songs, and abandoned words dart out of the darkness, playfully tease him, and then scamper away quietly giggling. A worn painting hangs from a wall – a portrait. She has long black hair and dark eyes which gaze at him keenly through the layers of peeled paint and matted wet soil. Beckoning, sad eyes which seem to perpetually mourn. The unmistakable sound of distant whimpering whispering. He listens intently as the soft rhythmic words build in speed and tone. He cannot understand what they say, only bits and pieces. City lights. Magic. Love. Betrayal. The woman’s eyes continue to relentlessly stare, looking out into the vastness which is the brief and wondrous eternity of his life, and he turns away. The spell no longer having its desired effect. The crackling incantations are now lost to him. And the whispering slowly dies away to only be replaced by the humming silence.

In the distance his eyes affix on a flickering light. It is dull and tiny. He feels his way through the darkness, at first an unsteady stumble, but as he approaches the light his stride and sure footedness increases. The light becomes brighter and clearer, flooding the darkness. Wiping away the grime with the strong swipe of a sponge removing a streak of mud off of a glass surface. The intensity is blinding. And in the middle of this exploding star stands the silhouette of a woman and a small child, crying out to him to follow. 

And he loyally follows,allowing the cascading light to fully embrace him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

the li(v)es that were

So it snows again and I think I’ve heard this song before. I stand outside and smoke listening to it’s hushed lyrics as I close my eyes and think about a night another lifetime ago. Inside, where it is warm, my friends sing and dance, everyone so happy, we live our lives as though the world will end tomorrow. Laugh and cry, sing and fight. Do or die. Everyone is so happy and in love and so optimistic.. everyone except of course...

What were we doing that night? Yes, it was right before Christmas. You and I drove around with my camera in hand, hopped up on coffee and cigarettes, in search of the tackiest Christmas House. “The Griswold House” is what you called it. Such an innocuous, disposable moment, which I cannot help but recall again and again and again and again. Like a scratched record repeating itself, a distant song. An antiquated voice accompanied by bittersweet, profoundly beautiful violins, another dimension outside of mine. It’s scope so unfathomable and incomprehensible to me now but then it seemed like I was in such control. Taking it for granted like an arrogant fool. Oblivious to my idiocy except now I can see..

Is it a reasonable assumption to make that I was in fact the same man then as I am now as I was a decade ago as I will be a decade from now? Alone I bemoan yesterdays and chase ghosts. Surrounded by four claustrophobic corners in a grungy room I can’t be anything else but what I am but what I was. We were beautiful you and I yet I know even now I would have done the same thing and let you go accusing you of being a “whore.” Yet who am I to have judged what you were?

A voice from inside invites me in to do another line and another shot, another soft and delicate bite of the Lotus blossom so I may try, and fail, to forget you and yesterday.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Click

It is raining as I write this. I listen to the incessant drum of the water as it beats against the roof and upon the unused patio furniture. The soft clink of a coffee can I left outside collects rain as well as cigarette butts, an acerbic soup. The house is empty and all is quiet save for the soft hum of the refrigerator - which, by the way, is empty.

And I’d thought I had forgotten about you. About us. About that pivotal moment frozen in time you and I shared whose magnitude rivals even the birth of my own child.

You know I caught myself singing our song today, “your song.” And I realized I broke promises I made to you and we have both suffered for it. I know you are lost, out there wandering about the wasteland completely unaware of what you are, or what it is you should be, only knowing what it is you once had... and I am right there with you. We are so exceptionally similar in this regard and the stark truth of this frightens me. We are both empty vessels searching desperately for that which will complete us, and we both know that this crucial element is unobtainable… yet, so drastically close. It is so within grasp as we only have to extend our hand and it would be there as if plucking an apple from a tree.

However we tried… many times… and each time either myself, and then later on you, weren’t ready. And perhaps we will never be ready. Or perhaps it will take several lifetimes to finally be ready. To embrace that which “needs to be.” Or the other option is death.

I don’t know anymore.

I remember that night last December, several weeks before Christmas, I spent at your house. I remember your touch and how it felt so distantly familiar, your taste.. your smell. Yet, at the same time, so utterly alien and reptilian. Beyond that of even a stranger.

Monday, November 08, 2010

cancer

The uncaring wind blows in large billowing clouds of frigid snow determined to hide the world in a white blanket of merriment and Christmas carols. To hide away the pain, as I have chosen to, under a dense shroud with a smile painstakingly painted onto the surface. I wear this shroud over my face as my body lies dormant and inert encased in glass, a reliquary of pain to remind travelling pilgrims to stray clear of this path I have chosen for nothing beautiful or joyous can result in this.

I blankly stare at the flashing neon sign by the door; an untouched beer sits in front of me bleeding into the grimy table. Surrounded by flesh I no longer have the desire to seek out. And it’s a curse. We’ve inherited this curse, I’ve determined, my sister and I, to forever remain incomplete. Love is an elusive shadow I oftentimes think I see standing beside me in my peripheral vision only to disappear when I turn my head. And now, more than ever, I am a hollow vessel. I once mistakenly carried optimism as a mule humps its burden, a foolish, stubborn belief in karma and true love and soul-mates and sugar and spice and everything nice. I truly thought in the end, I would be reunited with her, and together we’d hurtle toward Xibalba or possibly be reborn as cats.

I know better now.

It was a foolish paradigm I conjured out of hope and air to grasp to as a Titanic survivor holds on to a paddle or life vest listening for the shrill whistle which may or may not come – for salvation. But the loveliness is that I have finally learned to accept this curse. She and I dance this lovely dance, spinning and circling into the sky like cigarette smoke. I’ve been burned again and again, or some would argue, burned others again and again leaving in my wake a sticky, dense oily slick in which birds perish.

I’ve decided to do the world a favor and remain forever alone.

I’ve given up. I no longer wish to search or even entertain the notion I may find “her” because I know she doesn’t exist - she is a myth. And here I hide in plain site. Either at the strip club with my cousin or the blank walls of my empty, spartan apartment my sanctuary.

Interesting that word, apartment.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

illusory

“Look out at the city Tuzik. Do you know why the lights twinkle the way they do?” I turn to her and smile tenderly. She looks at me with dark, almond eyes and then turns back to the distant city. She smiles as we both soak in the soft sighing of the wind and the hum of the power lines.

“You told me this once.” She laughs. “But I don't remember.”

A familiar song and it feels good to hear it. It feels good to sing it – and after eight years, I can still remember the words.

“Well...” I softly chuckle. “ ...what makes the lights twinkle is the fact there are so many of them. Countless lights out there, you could venture to say one light for every person.” R___ quietly listens. “What causes the lights to twinkle the way they do, is people turning their lights on or off.” I pause, carefully gauging her reaction.

She hesitates, looking at me with beautiful unsureness. She starts to say something and then stops herself. She looks at the throbbing city again. “Really baby? If you say that's what it is then that’s what it is.”

I pull her closer; she fits perfectly underneath my arm.

“Now, look up. At the stars.”

R___ smirks, excited to play a new game. She looks to the stars.

“Do you realize we are looking at the same sky people that lived ten thousand years ago looked at? The same stars the Pharaohs and even early man, huddling in caves, looked at… and it’s-it's all a lie.”

“What do you mean?”

“Many of those stars up there have already died, yet to us, they continue to shine. Other stars we cannot see yet because they have been born but their light hasn't reached us. The distance is unimaginable and it takes thousands of years for that light to reach us”

“So what are you saying babe?”

“What I'm saying is we study and believe only that which we can see. And in the case of the sky, what we see is not necessarily what exists.”

She nods. Perhaps she understands or perhaps she doesn't or perhaps she doesn't even attempt to try, however she nods.

I look away and tap the packet of smokes I bought earlier in the palm of my hand. There is a long silence and then she asks:

“I see you sitting next to me, again, after eight years of thinking of you as a dream - as a memory. However, I can't help but ask myself if your love for me still exists.”

I look at her and my words fail me.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Santiago

I look at the old man as the sea birds screech around us. The cold breeze carries the smell of the ocean - it envelops us. Storm clouds gather overhead. I study him for a moment, watching his eyes as he watches the sea. I finally muster the courage to ask him: “So when did you finally give up on it?”

He pulls another tug from his tobacco pipe, scratches the bristly whiskers on his face as he gazes out at the ocean as if in contemplation. “Gave up on what?”

“Love... true love. Fate. Destiny. All of that stuff.” I re-consider my words, “When did you turn your back on the fairy tale?”

He chuckles as he tugs at the line, gently tapping the pole, wise eyes examining the surface of the waves searching for a darting flash of silver or copper. “I haven’t given up, really.” He turns and looks at me. There is a shaky conviction in his aged voice, it is strong but scratched. Listening to him speak reminds me of listening to my grandfather’s Caruso records so long ago when I was a kid. “I’ve lived a good life... a good life. I have beautiful children. They’re all grown up now and gone. I got grandchildren too. They’re so beautiful.” He pauses. “I can’t say I ever loved someone. But I’m still waitin’... “ He re-lights his pipe and draws a deep breath and holds it for a moment. He exhales. “I’m still waitin’.”

I nod and look out at the ocean. In the distance a fishing vessel shrouded in fog slowly makes its way back to the harbor.

Friday, August 06, 2010

at last

Let me tell you a story about redemption.

It’s been eight years. Eight years of “what if,” “what now,” “will I ever,” and “I will never.” Eight years of questions, emptiness, desolation, and desperation. Eight years I have tread water barely staying afloat, through an ocean of coke, X, booze, whores, flings, fights.

Eight years of regret.

“I close my eyes and I see you. Here in front of me, I love your smile. Your eyes.

I am there

Heh, you always have been. I’d close my eyes and visit you... for eight years I have visited you.

What did we do in those visits?

I’d reach out and touch your lips. I’d run my fingers down your face. I’d say something silly and make you laugh. We’d love. We’d be.

I want you to touch me all over for many many days.

I want to crawl inside you and never leave. ”

I sabotaged everything. I insured I would have the ability to pursue you, should you have chosen to return to me. I broke someone's heart. I have lived alone, in desolation, a monastic life. I have dealt with the backlash of humiliation and my pride has weathered crushing blow after crushing blow. But you know what R____? It was all worth it.

We are on the verge of realizing what we could only dream about. Yes, when you told me you couldn't move on, echoing my same inability, my soul sang. And then, you confessed to me that I am your soul mate. And that you want to grow old with me. And that you want to give me a baby. And that you want to fall asleep with me inside of you and then wake up with me still inside you. You told me you miss my smell and ironing my work shirts, and therein you could find happiness.

And most importantly, you told me you forgive me.

No I am not in love with your memory R____, nor am I in love with what I used to be, or what we used to be, I am one hundred percent certain that I am completely in love with you. With YOU... with your soul.

And above all R____, I am grateful I do not have to wait to see you again as a cat.

You tell me you keep expecting to wake up, as you so often had to in the past, only to find we are apart. I feel precisely the same. But this isn’t a dream. And there’s no place like home tuzik.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hope.

We stay in touch. every few weeks an almost frantic text-message exchange followed immediately by silence. Always instigated with a simple “hello, are you married yet lol?” My typical reply is “no, hardly.” I proceed to explain to R___ why I see no future between M___ and I. I try to articulate, in 120 characters or less, why I love my girlfriend and maintain this “thing” although I know in my heart, and with utmost certainty, that it's fleeting - that it lacks permanence and is doomed to die and ultimately be left by the roadside like every other dead relationship I’ve walked away from. I tell her I believe it will end soon, and that I give it a month. Of course I’ve been telling her this for the past six months and yet somehow M____ and I continue on. It’s at this point I attempt to turn the tables and inquire about HER “man.” She dismisses it as a deep platonic friendship and nothing more - a platonic friend she just happens to live with and fuck. My cousin tells me “she’s not going to sit around and wait for you, but she’s sitting around waiting for you.” He advises me to pursue whatever path I wish but let it be known that our circle of friends (the Guido’s and Guidette’s) all believe I should be with R___ in the end, and that we should have children, and live happily ever after.

I tell R__ that I really want to have more children. And she constantly reminds me how beautiful our kids could look. And I tell her in our next life we’ll have lots of children. And she laughs and asks me what we’ll be resurrected as, and I tell her we’ll be cats. And so on and so on we continue this back and forth... this tango. She’ll advance and I’ll retreat, I’ll advance and she’ll retreat. Like the time I told her I still love her when I was in Vegas rolling on E and seeing angels. And then she asked me if I was also texting my girlfriend? I replied yes and then silence. She continues to haunt me both in thought and form. I see her face everyday on my computer, I read her words, and my emotions are convoluted much like this post.

And I believe I really do love M____, and I know in my heart it’s possible to love more than one person at the same time. I also know I love H_____, and A_____, and that Persian girl I met in Vegas when I was twenty-one with whom I had a four day love affair and possibly impregnated - wouldn’t that be nice? And I think about this often too. I think about what it would be like if I were to get a phone call or a friends request on Facebook from her, to tell me I have a beautiful daughter with almond shaped eyes green as emeralds.

Unfortunately she will never find me cause I told her my name was Arturo Bandini.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

the last man

If you are not aware of what to look for you will invariably miss it. It happens in an instant. Like the dilation of a pupil upon stepping into the sunlight. Like a housefly strumming it's hind legs together in neuron-quick anticipation before digging into a hot meal of fresh shit. It will happen and unless you are lucent, unless you are coherent... unless you are sober... you may miss it. A fragment of time, frozen. And sometimes you will find that you have the ability to watch. You will have the ability to walk around this paused, flickering image of you, and her - and underneath it, and in-between it - and you will be able to analyze the actions and thoughts and emotions unfolding around you. Analyze and control.

And sometimes you will let it pass you by. Brainwaves junk sluggish and eyes brimming with whiskey and red with the hint of long-dried tears. You are fast asleep, locked between ebony thighs, wrapped in whore scent as soft adulations and false promises caress you like a sleeping babe. Manicured nails run through your scalp offering salvation and scratching away what seems like years of worry - and the vessel which carries you to Xibalba races thru the cosmos. The world you once knew disappears at your feet slipping into lapping darkness.

I stand under the canopy watching the snow fall. I inhale my cigarette and then close my thoughts only listening to the soft "shhhh" of the wind and swirling flakes which indiscernibly speak an old language known only to ancient man and white owls. I realize it is over between us R___. I have made my decision. And I am impotent to act.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Collector

Years of memories, a sea of chiseled faces and gaudy, more fantastic then life, colors and images all carefully preserved, each one individually sealed and stored away in plastic and cardboard.

I've asked him too many times why he continues to collect. I tell him that we're no longer kids, and the market has proven that these comic books hold no re-sale value.I ask him why he continues to collect, why he continues to buy, why he continues to hoard... a litany of redundant questions... and we both know he would never intend to ever part ways with his books, even if he could turn a profit, as they are all, each and every single issue, his babies.

He's amassed a small fortune of "funny" books. Gary and I started this endeavor together, once upon a time, as an innocent hobby when we were children. Reading and absorbing the week to week, month to month struggles of larger then life heroes served as a fleeting, necessary escape for two awkward, angst-ridden kids. But somehow, somewhere along the way, it turned into something bigger… something disturbing.

An appropriate word could be "villainous."

A comic book "long box" houses approximately 350 comic books. It's crafted of sturdy cardboard which is untreated by chemicals as to avoid any fatal "bleeding" into the paper which would thereby prematurely yellow and age the pages. Each individual comic is in turn housed in a mylar bag along with an untreated cardstock "backboard" or "back" which will insure the book remain compact and upright. This will prevent the spine from bending. He insists I wash my hands before reading any of his books. He tells me the oils in our hands in time can become acidic and accelerate the degradation of the glossy covers. He has an entire room devoted to his long boxes. An entire wall of boxes stacked four high and ten long. If one were to do the math this would calculate out to 40 boxes or 14,000 comic books. He has been collecting since we were fourteen, he is now thirty. In sixteen years, at approximately $2.50 per issue give or take, he has spent thirty-five thousand dollars. This doesn't include the price of supplies: bags costing around fifteen cents per and backboards about a dime. And each and every issue is in mint condition.

Each book is as perfect and flawless as the day he bought it.

But each of these books, in Gary's mind, hold a higher value then the original cover price he paid for them... far more value. Each comic is a distinct time capsule which I would surmise reveal more then the story drawn out in-between it's pages. For instance, a certain book may represent a micro-drama which played out during his breakup with the woman he was supposed to "marry" over a decade ago. It could represent the long span back in 2002-2004 when he was broke and he had to limit his buying to a select few books. Certain characters or story-archs could very well remind him of his most recent bout with depression, painkillers, and alcoholism. Sixteen years of storylines, sixteen years of triumph, loss, elation, and depression. Yet the heroes never change, whereas Gary and I have. Superman will always don his red, yellow, and blue and embody justice and selflessness.

Superman will always wear a cape.

And in many ways I am a lot like Gary.

However, I stopped collecting comic books many years ago. My attention turned to other compulsions. While he continued to invest his money and time into abstract dreams and myths I prospected faces. I collected matchbooks and bar-napkins with hastily written names and barely legible phone numbers. I amassed a collection of one night stands, flings, and intoxicated groping sessions in dingy, dimly-lit booths in the back of dive-bars. A sea of faces, scents, tastes carefully wrapped in plastic, alphabetically sorted, and lovingly packed away into the long boxes of my own mind. And sixteen years later, unlike him, I have nothing to show for it. I have nothing to pass on to my offspring should I ever decide to have children. I have nothing material or absolute… nothing concrete, to show for sixteen years of wasted life.

All I really have to cling to is years of memories, a sea of chiseled faces and gaudy, more fantastic then life, colors and images all carefully preserved, each one individually sealed and stored away. Each and every memory, through the tireless embalming process of the mind, stands flawlessly preserved.