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a pair of hands,
fingers with the weathered figurations of a golden-ager
he tells her, “baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet”
the undone scaffolding of a belt
three cracks
and she is bleeding in the sunshine state

star girl— no,
star woman
the grim adage to a ne’er do well title
she wants to leave
she wants to leave
three more cracks and she is on the floor, caul-like, and she is saying,
"save me save me save me"

there are only accusatory screams
he says she is weak
he says she will never be saved
and because it is better to follow a lie
than to follow nothing
she believes him.

oh, star child, you are a dying breed
she pawned his amour for half a dozen dollars and a steel toe to her cheek
here is the price
pay it
paid it
it is no longer just the cord of tooled leather now
the leg of a chair over her head:

(save her)

She kind of smelled like aluminum foil and sand and other poetic junk, and she claimed to be this damn brilliant writer of prose. This was a lie. She spit the bull with just about anyone and I swear to god, that girl was a kick. No. Wait. A kook, I mean. One time she told me about how she used to attend funerals at random by standing at the back of the grim line in her dark slacks and a flute of wine between her fingers. “He lived a full life,” she’d say, wisely, and no one would realize she was uninvited until she was gone. For chrissake. A kook. No, a kick. God, I don’t even know anymore. She almost always wore these sunglasses that were big and round like that goddamned red hole in Jupiter—I swear I could’ve moon-walked on those shades. Those specs killed me every time, I’m telling you. They would make her look like a frosty starlet if she had the full look, you know, the coifed hair and that lady-walk that ladies have, all lady lady lady sway, lady lady lady sway. You know. That lady-walk. But instead she had this razzle dazzle mop that was clipped in a way that looked like a barber hemmed and hawed with sheep shears, and she moved like sadness: in waves. She was a damn keeper, that one, but then she’d have to go and steal your heart and shit it out the next morning after a cup of cold coffee. Really. She was perpetually doing this thing where she took off those tinted focals and didn’t look at you, she just didn’t, and that’s when you knew that when she finally did look up, she would say that she didn’t want to do this anymore. That’s what she said. This. Any. More. I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if she was ever real. Then I remember her eyes that were like sinking stones: heavy, wet, and the color of grief, and I remember those fingers, lickety-split, two fine nails pinching an inhaler and the other palm pressing at her lungs. I remember when you gave her more than half a pint of anything that wouldn’t get her past a piss test, god, she’d dial number after number and ask the person on the other line, “What’s the meaning of life?” “What do you think comes after death?” “Do you sing in the shower?” 9 times out of 10, she was hung up on. What a kook. What a damn kick.

lust: “my surface, it is curling with heat, and you kiss me with the brutality of an angered stag. you`re hungry, starved, and you tear at me with a picket fence mouth; my pale curvature is a canvas for mottled purple and little rubicund pricks of blood, but i don`t feel the pain. i`ll be defeated later, and i`ll boil when i see you tenderly cradling her, but right now it`s just you and me.”

wrath: “i`ll shake you and break you, CRASH, BLAM, BOOM, you`re dead. and i won`t even realize it because i can`t see you, my visage is blocked with a wall of red. bones crunch. you crunch. it`s all this furor that screams through my body, it`s telling me that i am a titan. almighty, i am omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. the child must be punished, and maybe it`s these frigid paths that your voice has worn into my brain or my proclaimed divinity or the inferno of rage licking my chest cavity, but something makes my fingers envelop your throat. that is the moment in which you become nothing but another lifeless doll in my palms, and i smile as i lay your carcass with the other children.”

gluttony: “the last ferroro rocher in the box. that`s it, isn`t it? my trembling hands shakily palm the hazel, bitter cocoa, milky brown. acetic belts make my lips pucker, and the powdered sugar coats my mouth like the embrace of a spouse coming home from a long day at work, then i`ll cry. the tears will carve rivers into my cheeks and i`ll stroke my abdomen and i`ll return all my food fare to the porcelain throne. my throat burns, but that`s okay. at least i`m skinny.”

greed: “all that glitters is not gold. spit. i have climbed a mountain of bodies: skeletons of immorality, fuck a little, lose a little, die a little, chew on the paupers. there is a ring on my finger, all flaxen and spun of caramel jewels that wink at me and beg for more. so, i asked for it, and i choked on the peals of opal and topaz that gurgled from my demands. i remember one time, my heels walked me through new york times square, and a beggar asked me if money could buy happiness. i told him yes, smiled a little, but it didn`t reach my eyes, and i stepped on the tender palm of his hand as i walked away. the resounding snap and scream was satisfying, but i wished i had gotten his other hand, too.”

sloth: “tired, so tired, with gravity tugging on my eyelids and making them heavy. i just want to stay in this phantasmagoric landscape beyond reality, where i`m not sad and there are no societal chains moaning at my feet. i`m happy. why can`t anyone see it? “depression. more socializing. more activity. more more more,” the wise woman says, clicking her tongue and feeding handfuls of pills to the cocoon resting in my mind. i want to stitch her lips together, she is loud and makes too much sense. silence! i need to sleep.”

pride: “no one will ever know. his knuckles leave bony hollows upon the planes of my cheeks—i set the alarm before the crows are even cawing and the sun is still sleeping. i sit by the phone, sometimes, a painted gargoyle with my elbows tucked in like children being put to sleep. all i need is to make one call, but the faint cough of my ego strains to hold me back, and i do not touch the cord. i get up and walk, look in the mirror. a beaten woman stares back: she has sad eyes. this is not my face. this is not my face! i swallow the lump of despair that is ever-growing, and i reach for my concealer.”

envy: “they`re everywhere. on glossy covers, peering up at me under enhanced frames of kohl, their limbs bending like weeping willows. i can imagine their voices, gravelly croons buffered by whimsical lilts and a dash of old hollywood. classy. they are faces from peregrine places, unattainable bone structures and cerise mouths turned at just the right angle. i want to be them. i can`t be them. and suddenly they are no longer sublime creatures capable of fantastical feats, but rather, insurmountable nymphs that jeer at the less fortunate. they are radiant, beauteous, statuesque, the devil in she-form. i hate them.”

she is nameless. sometimes she likes to think she had a name at one point in her life, and at other times, she can almost -but not quite- recall it. she can feel the name, scratching incessantly at the windows of her mind. but then it’s gone, and she goes back to being nothing, a simple entity that has risen from primordial primate descent. she is an enigma, a visionary, a will-o’-the-wisp of a woman that is lost in her illusory thoughts of the present, the future, but never the past. she’ll sit there with smoke coiling out of her mouth and she’ll divulge to the smog: “today i feel like black lace, little thin strips of coalmine color that kiss to create fabric.” “today i feel like muscle tendons, quivering and snapping and augmenting.” “today i feel like the moment when you first wake up in the morning, that brief middle ground between dream and reality.” “today i feel like an evening primrose, budding for the face of night and closing when the day breaks.” “today i feel like the ocean, like the sky, like a bottle of windex, like the earth from space. blue.”

He had a wife. Two children. They stood smiling in a gilded frame on his office desk, and every day he would sit in the same seat in the same suit with the same oil-slicked hair, coalmine black. He was an accountant. Or, no, was he an assistant? A desk jockey. Filing. Sometimes he would get paper cuts and lick the little droplets of rouge essence with child-like wonder, then he would go on break and sip espresso. No one at the shop knew his name, but that`s okay, they knew that he liked it with two scoops of sugar. Back to work. Years passed, and he was okay all that time, he was alright, he was in life`s purgatory and one day he didn`t get coffee. He walked to the seaside. And there was sand in his loafers and his briefcase was heavy and his tongue was dry like cracked cement, but he whispered his two cents, “Goodbye.” He walked forward, one foot in front of the other. No struggling, just the water cradling him in its wet arms, singing him blue lullabies until he fell asleep.

have you ever curled your body at the edge of your sleeping place and crouched like a bird with crooked nails? you unfurl yourself into a wonderland. have you ever skimmed your fingers across the ribs that incarcerate your beating muscle? it`s like speed bumps under your skin. have you ever tasted that citrus mist when you disrobe the clothes of an orange? a million tangerine pinpricks on your tongue. have you ever closed your eyes and seen the world? there are chimeras and apparitions and inconceivable entities stowed away in the dark of your lids, they are playing hide and seek with you. you just have to know where to look.

She`s always late. She never puts her hair up in public and she swears she was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. She wishes she could play an instrument but she doesn`t have the patience for it, she wishes she could sing but she doesn`t have the talent for it. She doesn`t like crying and she`s messy, inside and out. She presses flowers inside hard-cover books and has the bones of a bird and she talks too much. She collects ticket stubs and shirts with beer logos, she lies, she forgets to turn off the oven sometimes. She has bad posture. She reads murder novels and listens to quiet music with quiet lyrics and quiet voices. She has a bottle of sleeping pills next to her bed. She drinks lukewarm green tea, decaffeinated. She holds her breath until her cheeks ache and ocean water pricks at the corners of her eyes, then she looks up at the ceiling and mouths the vowels E-I-A-O-U. She hates seafood and the feeling of sandpaper. She wears socks to sleep. She pays attention to the fine print. She still believes in fortune cookies and humanity (barely), but she will never believe in herself. She brings herself up and she drags herself down, she is her own worst enemy. She is sad, she is happy, she is alone. And she`s okay with that.

i mean, i dunno, sometimes i wonder about life and death and what`s floating between our ears. is it empty? is it full? and sometimes you have to think about the real questions, i`m talking about the serious ones, like when music was created or who fairy-dusted the gecko from the geiko commercials into existence or if we`re just particles of sand that somehow came together into one gross being. i don`t know, no one knows, no one will ever know! because that`s when the world really does become flat and we will walk off the edges into nothing, just a radical tight sick gnarly wicked tubular sweet oblivion that will piss on our hearts and eat our feelings with serrated teeth. it`s the stuff under your fingernails, the little jiggle you do with your foot when your legs are crossed, it`s the screeeeeeeeeeeeeam that drags against the floor like the cane of an elderly man. people like things that make sense and that`s why it`s such a lovely surprise when everything spontaneously combusts, daisy spine acid wire pool fur cherry flag lace tickle dictionary mask bird teacup pillow meow fog glass alarm. knocked on wood. and when you realize that the breath swirling in your lungs is the biggest jinx of all, maybe the film in your eyes will dissipate and you will see. you`ll see. or, like, whatever.

It was a beautiful moment. I was standing in a grocery store and the fluorescent lights were too bright and the checkout girl was saying, “Credit or debit?” Neither, I should say. And I would pull out my little Ziploc baggy of coins and she would give me a dirty look and silently count the money out, and then she would say, “Paper or plastic?” Both, I would say. She would bag the items. I would walk out and load my car. I would drive away. I would go home. I would put the groceries in the fridge and turn on the television set. I would turn it off and go to bed. I would sleep. I would wake up. I would look at myself in the mirror, touch the dark bags under my eyes, and whisper to myself, Today will be good. But it never would be.

That was the Big Bang, realization, the beautiful moment. It hits me. I stand in front of the checkout girl and she asks me, “Credit or debit?” I reach for my change, then hesitate. I take out my wallet instead. Credit, I tell her. I swipe the card and she smiles and tugs on my receipt as it click-click-clicks out of the register, then hands it to me. “Paper or plastic?” One of those reusable bags, I say. I point to one and she takes it off display. “That`ll be an extra five dollars.” The card goes through the machine again and she hands me my groceries. “Thank you, and have a good day.”

I laugh and say, I will.

i can feel myself slowly turning into this shit person and i hate it, i`m on such a downward spiral. i`ve become this shallow shell of what i used to be and i feel like i can`t be myself around the people i love the most because they`ll leave me or be disappointed or try to change me. i`m in a box and the walls are closing in, and i know if i get out of that box i`ll just be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. i just want to be happy, even if it`s for a brief moment. let me be happy, with no strings attached, just give me a big bucket of motherfucking happiness that i can dump all over me. please

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