It smelled like he drank His blood
every day of my life for
seventeen and a half years.
He had his own Chapel
down at a corner in town.
You could spot his car in the parking lot
from a mile away.
There wasn’t a pastor at his Chapel.
And my father did most of the talking.
The Chapel was Irish, I think.
And there were collection baskets
that the men would pass around.
Funny; they were labeled “Tips”
The men bowed their heads
at their own special times,
slow, dipping low, just like
in First Communion class when we were
all trying to learn the rules for what
we are supposed to do when the Pastor says
this or that or the other thing.
It smelled like he drank your blood
like a goddamn Dracula
by the gallon.
And Jesus, you bled white.
Jesus, you bled white.
That made sense when I was a kid.
You were pure, and your blood
couldn’t be the same color as mine.
Couldn’t be the same as the blood
that dribbled down the side of my mouth
when he slapped me for asking him
why he left me standing in the rain
waiting for him at school
angrier that I failed the test
than at the fact that the bus
had left without me.Read More
My friend Billy is a bit rough around the edges. I would never call him handsome, and though he doesn’t exactly smell, he definitely has his own peculiar scent. He may not be the strongest, the most appealing, or even the most dependable. But what can I say? He is a comrade of mine-a darling, if you will-and nothing, and I mean nothing, can ever change that. Oh, quick author’s note: Billy’s a car.Read More
I stood up from the bench and waved to Cheshire as she began to walk away from me. I had declined the offer to accompany her back to her house because I was too scared that I would run into Robbie. Cheshire’s story had been a lot to take in, and I wasn’t sure I had figured out how to act around him or Drew yet. I turned around and started walking towards the parking lot in front of the school to wait for my dad. I scanned the lot for his car but didn’t see it, so I sat down on the curb. I wrapped my arms around my legs and rested my chin on my knees. I couldn’t stop thinking about Alex. I thought about what Cheshire said about her leading Robbie on. The idea of it wasn’t sitting well with me. I stared at the dark pavement and noticed a tall shadow hovering over my own. I turned my head around and saw Cameron standing a couple of feet behind me, looking like he was lost in thought. But I saw the recognition register on his face, and he quickly sat down next to me. Even sitting, I still had to tilt my chin upwards to meet his eyes.Read More
The moment of emergence from the clouds is what finally broke him. It had been almost 30 years, and he figured that at that point, his numbness would be perennial. The flashes of white still overcame him every once in a while; the screams, however, had died away. He had never returned to that place. In fact, when he left, he vowed he never would. But life has an odd way of taking every preconceived notion and dogmatic belief that you’ve ever held and throwing them out the window like inconsequential discharge.Read More
Sun-lit waves of bourbon heat flow
freely like flocks of seagulls soaring
over waves of salt water sludge. But we
sip sangria out of shot glasses
while the band plays a bluesy beat
of broken hearts and bruised
body parts—the kind you see knee-
deep in sugar-cane mud. And when I left
you sitting on slanted stools, body
parallel to beer-soaked, glitter-tinted floor
boards, you were carving our names into
the bar; like a dog digs his claws into seashell
dirt, burying his riches from the world.Read More
I saw tonight, one hundredfold
Your countenance—a common mold
Affixed with many different names
And many voices, all the same,
But all the same I knew not one,
For you among them were not one,
There to fill and then refill,
To swill and spill and swill again,
To take part in the fable,
Dance the sticky floors and tables
To music shrill and quite unable
To endear this common face to me;
I fear this common face might be
The last thing that I see
When called at last from earthly stead,
Gazing up from the final bed,
I should long for some other sight instead…
In the dark holes where we like to go,
Full of people we pretend to know,
We abhor the too familiar faces,
But we too are familiar faces,
Returning to the same old places
To fill the empty spaces
With drink and empty conversation
And hints of baser inclinations—
Glimpses we mistake for love,
But for all your host repeating nigh,
From now until the end of time
I swear, by the vacant night above,
Not one among them has my love,
Not one among you has my love.Read More
Six a.m. Friday morning. The alarm clock shrieked amid the low hum of the radiator. A figure stirred from beneath the blankets, reluctant to rise from its perfect state of lethargy. The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon, and the first rays of light peered in through the window. The alarm continued to shriek to be noticed, but the figure would not move. The room had been left unkempt for months, leaving a thick film of dust covering most surfaces. On the desk lay an open notepad. Poems, quotes, and sketches of another life littered the pages with the sort of magical touch that could make one forget reality and escape to a distant land of ecstasy. An empty bottle, turned on its side, complemented the notebook as though the two objects were unlikely lovers holding hands. The alarm continued to sound. The figure sprung from beneath the blankets in a rush, silencing the alarm in one motion.Read More
The doors were unlocked, and the light switch turned on. The lights slowly warmed up, gradually increasing in brightness until the stadium was lit. The seats were all empty and the locker rooms were all locked up. The athlete walked through the ghost town listening to the silence. The foreboding silence would soon give way to the loud, frantic screams of onlookers. The athlete wished for comfort in the silence but could find none, for his mind and body felt all too vividly the pressure and anxiety caused by the imminent screams. Caught in a state of paranoia, the athlete walked on to the locker room for preparation, and quickly the crowd rolled in, eager to watch the opening games.Read More
The flock of seagulls appeared in St. Paul’s two weeks ago. I said appeared. That’s what they did. There was a group of people there, in the pews right around the statue of Mary, and when they rose to leave, there was a group of gulls perched around the baptismal font. They didn’t touch the water. Nor the bread. But I’m getting ahead of myself—back to where I was. The gulls perched there, not a white feather rustling; and the way Mrs. Hoess tells it, one of the gulls took to the air, flew back to the entrance, and perched right on the announcement board. And then, stranger still, the rest of the gulls rose into the air, all at the same time, not a feather out of place, and flew back with it. Anyway, the strangest thing was that none of those gulls made a noise. None of them cawed, crowed, or cried out at all. I don’t know what else to call the noise a seagull makes, but none of them made a sound at all. They would, though. They’d make quite a ruckus.Read More