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May 2010 - Amanda SledzAmanda Sledz

30
May 10

waiting for bus #4 is magic

the biggest crow gobbled my right eye up.

left, crying and winking

away the abandoned pair of bright orange socks

bread crumb trailed right to Radio Shack.

*

I’m not sure what a ukulele has to do with any of this

but she has one for what it’s worth.

any moment the twink-twinkle plucking will Red Dwarf every little star.

*

she assumes the position: Twink. Twinkle.

shrunken guitar stuffed sick with pineapple,

coconut clobbered singing hole.

Twink. Twinkle. Twink.

*

thick calves and moustache pedal four seats of invisibles

to their place at this apocalypse.

he stops and marbles a grin,

then rings his bell.

Ring-Twink. Twinkle-ring.

*

It’s time to abandon this body.

*

Too-Tall Stick Indian brings everything but the ukulele to a halt.

he needs directions, and says they should arrive

directly from the road.

*

I’m as ghostly as the pedicab’s passengers.

Stick Indian will take nothing from me.

*

Still, his road wager pays:

a visible made brave by his backpack

waves all three of his dimensions:

“Over here, brother.”

He walks the Too-Tall instead of pointing.

*

Ring pedals away.

Twink twinkle.

*

air brakes and rotten eggs launch the crow

and my missing eye

into the dangling donut hole of the bus driver.

*

his face reveals everything:

fuck. a ukulele.

not this Sunday.

*

that bus doesn’t even slow.

left, crying and winking

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28
May 10

Siren

She asks him: didn’t you used to fish for crawdads with spam hooked to piano wire or something? He shakes his head and says what, after I strangled some gangster to death? She says ha ha, it must have been someone else. He says what, with the other lost boys? She says okay, I get it. Then he mentions something about jelly beans, about how it’s weird that some colors taste different from others when it’s all the same sugar and corn syrup, and she says um yeah, that’s weird. I guess.

She metronomes in her seat thinking if she gets the angle just right her happy will uncurl. He pretends the windshield is a nature-themed screen saver, and porn is just a mouseclick away.

He mentions he hasn’t driven in awhile and the road feels nice. She asks him to slow down. It’s not a race. The right side of his mouth strokes down. Her follow-up laugh is fake.

He says remember that one time we saw that hot air balloon start to take off, and then something went wrong and it left the basket behind? She laughs and says yeah, all four people wore the same blue windbreakers and had cameras and none of them moved from the basket.

He laughs harder and says he’s glad he had his own $12 disposable camera to capture the moment forever. She laughs harder and wonders if the four blue people ever considered that their air utopia looked an awful lot like the ground.

Then he runs out of laugh but milks an extra titter then declares the road trip can’t continue without coffee. She looks out the window and rocks as he drives too fast into a gas station.

He returns with a double americano in one paw and a skinny latte in the other and doesn’t mention anything about the thick-hipped barista who doesn’t look like anyone he’s slept with wearing a t-shirt simply arguing: now. She takes the latte and doesn’t mention that while he was gone she found the right spot for her metronome.

A few miles later he points out a big orange road sign that looks like a stick man running from an irate deer. She tells him to slow down, maybe the next sign will be a car running from both.

He says about fucking time as his endless green screen saver is chased off by endless ocean and a fish kite too red to ignore. He says you should get a crawfish kite and fly it from the cliffs. She says you should get a sailor’s tattoo and go to a strip club. He says only if you’re dancing. She makes ocean waves with her arm and he wooooooos.

They park the car and take off their shoes and surrender their feet to sucking sand and she reaches for his hand but it isn’t there because he’s taking a picture with his disposable camera of an old man sitting in a folding beach chair, waves devouring his ankles. He says I think he’s sleeping. The man melts from the chair and she takes a step back and says that looks like a deeper sleep to me. He snaps one more picture of the man’s wave swallowing face plant and then he wonders if they should call someone, or just keep walking.

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17
May 10

Shouting the muse down

Today was chased up the hill by a rooftop windfarm.

Thar. She blows.

No one was meant for this.

In the tumbled-down now there’s too much material, culled from pretty boys that don’t notice me and tattooed ones that do, and I’m certain there’s at least one dreamer soaking eyes into me who knows all the twisted lyrics invoking pretty little horses.

Hands?

No one is going to stop me from drinking coffee.

Fuck, all this prose is constipated, me mining me, pulling up bridges and blowing up others and never throwing this laptop across the room and through the window at the minicooper slamming on its brakes and the driver screaming “fuck you!” before the laptop lives in the street in pieces as it’s always wanted.

Pieces. Peace. I’m witty.

Ronnie James Dio. You know, the heavy metal guy. Don’t even try it.

Somewhere I lost time and none of these notebooks ever got transcribed, all my musing and ranting and handwringing dream spindles fell off the loom and died. That wasn’t what I wanted. That was never what I wanted.

Spindles. Loom. I might be going somewhere with this.

What I want: to scribble “you” on the side of plastic tubs holding all my personal belongings, before abandoning them on random porches for some unfortunate lottery loser to find. I don’t want anything in them and neither do you, but I’ll stay up all night sorting my nothing into something and weaving it into ugly tapestries that imprison names and faces until screaming attempts at escape are burned into the fabric.

Weave. Fabric. Spindles. Loom. Vomit. Sorry.

Another want: to storm into the room and push you out of your chair and just when you approach peak confusion I squeeze you from your folded position in a four-limbed lobster grip, arms and legs pushing your pieces together until they finally click and reconnect their electric current and nothing hurts and every inch is lost to me.

Mine.

And: I want to walk behind the counter and give a shout out to the producers of barista-friendly soymilk and ask if anyone up in this joint has a hankering for something sweeter? When hands reach for the sky I’ll escape with one of those milk whipping wands and dance from human to human, tickling the soft spots under chins. Can you think of anything sweeter?

Candy. Candy would be sweeter.

I suppose I could be more, oh I don’t know. Why aren’t you trying? Commitment to lifelong laziness, approaching the doorway and instead of knocking or opening or kicking the damn thing down just shrugging your shoulders and walking away, deciding there must be a place around here suitable for napping. That wasn’t really a door now, was it? Huh.

How is it possible to not be curious?

In an instant I call you forward, I’m not asking anymore. All of this is commandment.

Come on. Stop being bullshit.

I’ve got another card up my sleeve, one that just fell from the deck after I shuffled and shuffled and shuffled, never resigning myself to the single-card fate of bad movies where Death appears and everyone shits their pants.

No: it’s time to stuff the whole deck down the sewer and divine with a bowl of rice. The rings of a gas station toilet. The drafts email folder. The curve of your middle finger.

Here’s what I’ve got:

Nothing. I’ve never felt so complete.

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16
May 10

Contact

Sitting here exposed, naked, vulnerable with my face hanging out in the aftermath of a Clockwork Orange exam with all the prying and haunting images and none of the eye drops – for the sake of contacts.

For more than ten years vision has been an obstacle course of dirty lenses and plastic frames. Open Eyes. Pause. Glasses. Pause. Vision. REM. Better Vision. Memory. Rewriting happens later.

The minute I stopped smashing the thin plastic half-moons into my calamity eyelashes and let them settle on my actual eye I knew that nothing would ever be the same.

blink.

The first hours of perfect vision felt like waking up in Oz, except instead of dodging tiny people pushing me too aggressively towards a yellow brick road I stepped out the way of a sunglasses and helmet adorned security guard motoring away on the plastic equivalent of a Segway, and into a fog of tiny green insects that settled all over my arms.

Beyond the brick road that wasn’t Oz turned into disenchanted forest fucking fast. Every endless encounter between unfortunates happened right on my face.

Scene one: a couple tapped fingers and bobbed knees and scanned menus and pushed lips into constipated not-smiles before both reached for cell phones fancier than mine and pushed buttons and told far away others about how something was supposed to be great before it wasn’t.

Scene two: a woman stared off from the holes in her jeans before the bathroom called her forward, and she grunted the first fart out before tossing her paperback like she was aiming for the burning pile.

Scene three: a man looked over at me and down at his computer screen and over at me again, then his fingers started tapping and he was frowning and I can’t imagine what he harvested.

blink.

Suddenly I’m sorry for vampires who wake up with too much to do and an entire evening to do it wrong.

blink.

Now: the candles in this coffee shop trigger the soft light setting and my human eyes turn phantom.

Not that long ago a phantom terrorized my television, raising the volume and switching channels and arguing with me about the likelihood of my day turning productive if the damn thing exploded, leaving television guts all over my world. His voice emerged from what some might mistake for static. Inside the static was whisper, in the whisper words, and in the words desperation.

Even before we shared vision this phantom didn’t scare me, I know what he’s up to and what I’m in for. He’s as trapped on this planet as the rest of us until a trumpet sounds and our ears bleed and we suddenly have instructions.

Other than cockroaches we’ll outlast them all. The phantom and me.

blink.

Hands over my eyes, I think that if with the next blink the whole palette could change I’d color my contact-world sepia tone. In the cooling bath of yellow and gray pores magically close and dark circles are banished and we’re all ancient and endless remembered. We’re star gazers with parasols trading sideways looks and smelling single flowers on park benches. Our top hats are full sized, just like our skirts. No one smiles with teeth. Teeth don’t exist. Crying is single tears. Cheek kisses replace hand shakes, and both are traded for hand kisses and agreement that people don’t do enough loving things with hands. This is why they bungle contact lenses.

Then Sepia World fragments and I wake at a bus stop littered with human casings, tanktops and tattoos and too many children. Overgrown crows peck at remains before they return to Odin, feathers flecked with message. The bus never shows.

blink.

As I abandon coffee shop for bike I want my eyes to communicate questions, blink their own code so I don’t have to say anything anymore. I can just look and wait.

What are you doing what are you thinking what are you wearing underneath your clothes are you hoping you get caught?

blink

Is it all you ever dreamed of do people run into your nose when you kiss them?

blink

When you’re holding someone’s hand do you ever kiss the palm and let the person’s fingers uncurl over your face like a spider? Do you turn your nose into this and giggle or wonder what a hand is doing over your face and do you get scared and wonder if they’ll push you and break your nose and the spell forever? Do you think it’s possible to love someone without hating them first?

blink.

When you met my eyes did you know in an instant what the phantom knows?

I am the albatross, I’m the accident, I’m the elephant in the room.

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10
May 10

Eye Problem at Powell’s

There’s too many people trapped in this box together and I’ve got blood all over my keyboard. The outcome of an accident involving my pinkie, a screen, a window slam, and me feeling absolutely nothing. It was only after several seconds of typing that I found the red splotches peculiar. Never being one for cleaning when it counts the blood got forgotten and so did the cut, and now my finger is mangled and my keyboard is ugly and there are still too many bodies in this box.

The kid across from me has a face that’s never been broken into pieces, and he’s earnestly filling out job applications and formulating wholesome ideas about changing the world. I know this because he tells me. For a second I thought he was flirting, but I don’t attract such doe-eyed creatures. People gunning for me respond to my online presence with emails asking if they can describe in detail the many ways one might perform cunilingus. I respond that I am open to receiving such messages if it’s acceptable to retort with a finger-wagging dissection of prison rape. He hasn’t written back.

Anyway, the earnest butter-faced boy tells me about jobs he kinda might want to have and how he’d like to make some money over the summer, you know. I say I might know someone, but the person I mention has arms like fire-forged hammers and three missing teeth, and the interaction could end like a fight between a whiffle ball bat and a battle axe, so I nix it before numbers can be exchanged. Besides, this guy has other possibilities, and he tells me about friends he has who are setting up a school in a Latin American country, though he doesn’t mention why they might need a school or what qualifies his friends to set one up. Still: he’s so damn honest I can’t activate my mean, and I can’t picture him naked unless the scene involves me giving him a bath while he cries.

Now I’m distracted. There’s too many bodies in this box. One man is wearing a t-shirt that says “fuck the system” and based on logo production alone it’s pretty safe to say the system made the t-shirt. In other words, his t-shirt takes the long road to “fuck yourself” and I’m exhausted.

There’s a lot of people working here, and they mean business. This is not a dungeon for the unprepared. Asking the wrong person to borrow a pencil could mean a lot of moaning and groaning and maybe a loud sigh and some muttered statement about how if you’re gonna hang in the Powell’s cafe on a Monday, you’d better bring your own goddamn pencil. The man in the corner is all black turtleneck fierce and wire-rimmed glasses and he brought his macbook and a soul patch from 1993, and three times his snakey eyes have snapped sharp to the right in pursuit of whoever is snorting and swallowing phlegm over and over and over again. This isn’t enough to send him racing for the exit, but it has informed three audible sighs, two eyerolls, and a single disgusted dish clang.

Now it’s really on. A turquoise mohawk is yelling into her cell phone: “Look, I just had a shitty day and I thought you might want to hang out, but whenever you’re with them you don’t want to hang out, and it just seems a little weird that you always want to hang out, except for when you’re with them. I mean, what the fuck?”

I agree. Definitely warrants suspicion.

“Fine, I was having a bad day and I thought I might feel better hanging out with you, but I get it, you want to hang out with your friends, so go ahead and be a dick and hang out with your friends.”

ESP message to Mr. Anonymous: you do not want to hang out with your friends. Think about it man. THINK.

“Okay then, fine, fuck you, fuck yourself, fuck your friends. Seriously: FUCK. YOU. FOREVER.”

I never thought to add forever to fuck you.

She throws her cell phone against the table and it bounces into my lap in a perfect execution of awesome. “Sorry,” she mumbles. I hand it back with the guilty smile of someone who doesn’t have a very good cell phone plan. She notices the older woman to her right and adds an additional sorry, but the woman doesn’t look up, stays focused on her novel and I affix her with my fuck you glare for not bothering to acknowledge that our sister with a mohawk is melting down.

Meanwhile I’m mining through every trite piece of advice I’ve ever dispensed to uninterested parties, searching for a new morsel to present uninvited to this stranger. I’ve got nothing. There’s nothing in my experience that offers a silver lining to her cloud, if it even constitutes a cloud, there’s nothing that offers a something to hold out for or hold on to. It’s not that I don’t believe in puppies or unicorns or gold. I definitely believe in unicorns.

In the time it’s taken me to try and come up with something worth saying she’s gone and another someone has sat down and he’s wearing a bright green and black checkered shirt that’s just begging for coffee stains, and he’s smoothing his thinning hair over his bald spot and he’s tucking his pen into his pocket and he’s loosening his belt and hoping I don’t notice (sorry), and he’s scratching his nose and he’s tapping the table and he’s not yelling at anyone.

Only one person in this box is on to me, and he’s across the way with a hood over his head looking creepy and dark and in hate with every warm and cold body in the room. He spots my stare and stares back, and I try to out-stare him and he gets all David Blaine-eyes, so fearing for the safety of others I look away. He keeps looking for a full second, almost enough to push me into uncomfortable or at least demand a dozen roses and then he glares at someone else at least as deserving.

Read. I’m here to read. The magical return cart heavy with abandoned literature has given me little, just a rambling book by an author everyone keeps ordering me to like and I keep resisting, and the promise that beekeeping is the next chicken coop in Portland even if no one has figured out what that horrible disease means, so it’s just more yuppie white people floundering around in the dark. Then I wonder what it would be like to have a matching dish set from Ikea that enabled me to host winning dinner parties to a gaggle of friends boasting soul patches from 1993, and really thrilling statements to make about finishing salts and imported chocolate. Would I also have candles from Ikea, arranged in tiny glass containers that might float in bath water, but still look awful nice on the table? Would I have a seasonal table cloth like my mother used to, one with apples dancing across it in the fall and strawberries in the summer and snowflakes in the winter, even if no one sitting at the table ever bothers to go outside? I wonder what it would be like to never hold hands or other parts under the table and give all the wrong appendages a squeeze. I wonder what it would be like to be at that table and never look across at the loving couple and wonder what it would be like to destroy them, to pull the prettier party away for an unexpected tryst just so that for once it wasn’t so easy for them. Then an older couple sits down and looks beautiful and in love and I hate myself for always unearthing my own soul patch of bitter, and I wonder why I’m lying and stoking something that isn’t really there. I wonder if I wouldn’t long for any of it.

There are too many people in this little box, and none of them escapes me.

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04
May 10

the burning return of adolescence

pretty much describes world now

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