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amorous, but out of reach

August 18, 2013

I’m mad for you. I am mad for your words, your fingertips, your sad inclinations and tendency to withdraw.

42 years since that cigarette, that stoop, that light. “I saw a beautiful girl one day…and now here you all are.”

This is the way the world works. Life is long, life is hard.

I’m waiting for her now, her tiny hands growing, clasping and unclasping, someone new to love.

Now that you’re here again, I remember a string of moments I thought I’d forgotten. Your voice on the phone, thick with alcohol and sadness. Singing. Slurring.

“He’s all our broken boys come home.”

“I just want to get away.”


“Writers are always selling somebody out”

It’s true.

And here I am, telling the world your secrets. Your weaknesses. Looking for a point of entry where there is none. None except memories, the past, people who don’t exist anymore. And that’s not playing fair, I know.

A distraction too distracting, and not what I meant to ask the universe for.



“I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.”

May 20, 2013

Drive, you said, because poets must

bring the news to the next town…”


It’s hard work, but someone’s got to do it

Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable

Shower words, like bread, on the unsuspecting

The terrified, the hungry, the aching

And the lost

It’s a rough line

But someone’s got to

Be the emissary

The one who tells him

His daughter is dead

They’ll never meet

No, not in this lifetime

Never exchange

Sorrows, regrets

“These are the chores of the stonecutter”

You whittle things



Out of shape

Destroy edges



Stay up late

Devising the words

To dash hopes against rocks

It’s a hard job

But someone has to do it

Wipe the sweat from your brow

Thirty years ago you stood behind his shoulder

Watched him silently count the seconds

Leading to minutes

Leading to hours

Frozen on a bench

Watching him kiss his chest


You waited

And you watched

And you knew the words, then


You said something

And it worked.

Your lines

Your lies then

Carried only the threat of




“Tengo un pacto de sangre…”

Writing Prompts: A Song that Gets Stuck in your Head, Detente, Ode to a Smell [April 20, 2013]

April 20, 2013

I’ve been wanting to write for awhile now, and having so much trouble. It’s hard to know exactly what I want to say. I don’t know that there’s anything I necessarily need to get out right now, but there’s a lot I’ve wanted to talk about. Maybe that’s the difference. I talk myself out of writing unless I absolutely need to, and that’s a problem.

I’d been looking forward to getting together with the Olives today for weeks now. If there’s anything I miss about college, it’s spending a lot of time with these people just thinking and reading and writing and talking about literature. Literature is missing in my life right now in a profound way, and it’s hard to recapture that feel of working on a lit magazine and taking lit courses. How do you replicate that in your daily life?

Anyway, we all got together and did three prompts. Here they are:

Prompt # 2: A song that gets stuck in your head (this one was vaguely inspired by Selena Gomez’s pop hit “Love You Like A Love Song” which, whenever Spotify plays it, becomes my JAM. I will sing along to that ridiculous, art-less wench and LOVE it.)

I love you like a love song, baby

Like three minutes and fifty-two seconds

Of concentrated bliss

Over-produced saccharine sweetness

A crescendo, chorus, and bridge

Of longing

I love you like something cheap and disposable

No longer pressed


Into vinyl

Just left to the digital ether

Just floating into the public consciousness

One download at a time

Getting stuck in your head

On the tip of your tongue

Like a cut on the roof

Of your mouth

I love you like a love song, baby

Like something someone wrote with

Six other men

Designed for profit

Not prophecy

Engineered and auto-tuned

To within an inch of its life

I love you like a love song, baby

Nearing the end of its trial run

Running out of its 15 minutes

And fading, slowly, off the radio

Less and less plays each week

Ending up a one hit wonder

In a compilation of has-beens


Prompt #3: Detente/Relaxation of tensions


Cold war

Cold shoulder

Luke-warm glances

Brushing hands, knuckles, fists

Softly against each other

We’ve been locked in place

For what seems like so long

Fingers itching to pull the trigger

Guns half-cocked but unaimed

Waiting for someone

To fall



I’ve been waiting to hear your voice

On the phone

For you to break scene

Tell me you were kidding

You didn’t mean it

You’re back for the kill

And waiting to bite down

“I’m here to make you better”, I told him

Here to push you

Pull you

Screaming into the future

Give you a dose of reality

Of the hard truth

Waiting for you to meet me

Blow for blow

Because I’ve had enough of winning

Enough of shooting fish in a barrel

And I’m ready for my equal

Someone who matches my stride

As quick on the draw as I am

We’re fighting


We’re pulling our punches

Glancing off each other

Clashing enough to clang, softly

Send out sparks

But it’s all for show

Just an interlude before

We throw our weapons down

And tumble into bed

Into each other

Prolonging the bloodshed

By other means


Prompt #1: Ode to a Smell


I love lemon Pine Sol.

I do not love mopping, no.

I do not love the

Highly pressurized

Contents of a can that will


Lead to an even bigger hole

In the ozone layer.

But. God. Damn. Do I love

Lemon Pine Sol.

Fuck regular Pine Sol.

I have no time for Evergreen

Trees growing so far

From me

Give me some citrus!

Some sunshine on a cloudy day!

Throwing my windows open to

Clean the dishes, the floor, the walls

I will drench Everything! Everything!

Everything! In lemon Pine Sol.

Call it clean and then

Sit my ass down just to

Revel in the smell.

I’m not the carefullest of girls

March 29, 2013

Scintilla Day 4: We exert control over ourselves and others in many ways. Talk about a time you lost that control. This can go beyond the obvious emotional control into things like willpower, tidiness, self-discipline, physical prowess… any time that you felt your autonomy slipping away.

You remember the first time it happened. Sitting in the passenger seat, feeling your throat start to close. It reminds you of the days you used to sit up all night until 7AM, afraid to go to sleep without the sun to watch over you.

It happens more often than you care to admit. One minute you’re fine. The next, you are sure you’re dying. Afraid to eat, too wired to sleep. You think everything and anything is wrong with you. This fear most often strikes while you’re eating, and it’s a big part of why you do that less and less these days. Sometimes it creeps up on you on the train, making your body shake nervously. You’re afraid to be trapped underground, afraid to feel your throat close up, your skin start to itch. You imagine collapsing in the middle of the car, an interruption to everyone’s busy, important day.

Nothing is wrong with you. You have to shake the fear. You wonder if, all these years later, it’s your brain and body misfiring after all the things you’ve done to it. You hope not.


He’s dead, but you still see his face. You think of the gaping, the yawning maw of years ahead without him. And in that time, in that time everyone else will drop away as well. When he died, it was the first time you thought about that. You expect parents and grandparents to go. Somewhere in the back of your mind the fear is always there that these people, the ones whose blood swirls inside of you now? They’re all on the way out. You are too. But you never think about their contemporaries. Or yours. And how painful that will be, to lose each one of them. You wonder if that has something to do with all of this. That fear to make any sudden moves, take any risks. You didn’t used to be like this, so there must be some connection. An awareness of your body’s aches and pains, its mortality, the time closing in on you.

No quiero morir/Alejado de ti/Puerto Rico del alma

March 22, 2013

Scintilla Day 3: Being trapped in a confined environment can turn an ordinary experience into a powder keg. Write about a thing that happened to you while you were using transportation; anything from your first school bus ride, to a train or plane, to being in the backseat of the car on a family road trip.

The man you’re with has his headphones on and turned up as loud as they will go. He has a terrifying fear of heights. This fear leaves you embarrassed for him. He’s a coward.

You? You could care less if the tiny, 8-passenger plane you’re on suddenly plummets into the Caribbean sea, falling apart and breaking into pieces over la diosa del mar, la reina del palmar.

You’re home. In the most fundamental way a person like you can be. You’re flying high above the island of Puerto Rico, surrounded on all sides by warm, turquoise water. You’re exhilarated. You feel the wind buoy the plane up. 1,100 feet above Borinquen querida you’ve just discovered a need, a desire that will remain in the back of your mind for years to come: I want to learn how to fly.

You’ve never felt anything like this before. This thrilling sensation, this peace. You’re ready to die because you’re finally home. The plane slants towards El Morro, that leftover bastion of Spaniard “justice”, a breathtaking sight. And you know, without a doubt, that everything can end in the next moment…and you’d be happy. To be in this tiny space, feeling the wind bringing you closer to la tierra de su amor.

Alabe el Dios de todo, bebe el vino, deje el mundo que sea el mundo

March 18, 2013

Scintilla Day 2. Tell the story about something interesting (anything!) that happened to you, but tell it in the form of an instruction manual (Step 1, Step 2, Step 3….)

One. Put the razor down.

Two. Throw away your stash of Valium.

Three. Look at the sonogram. Feel more love inside your heart than you’ve ever felt in your whole life. Cry.

Four. Listen to Bright Eyes “No Lies, Just Love” on loop. Reflect that you’ve found your own reason to continue.

Five. Wait months and months. First for him to arrive, then for your sister to bring him to you.

Six. Hold him in your arms. Stand with him in front of the mirror and see yourself. You are present. He is small and perfect and dressed in a tiny little Yankees jersey.

Seven. Cry. Be overwhelmed.

Eight. Begin to heal.

Nine. While writing this, remember his name means “Gift from God”

I guess I thought you had the flavor

March 13, 2013

I think I might come back to both of these prompts at a later time when I can write more fully on them.

Scintilla ’13 Day 1, Prompt 1:

Tell a story about a time you got drunk before you were legally able to do so.

I’d almost forgotten it. That first real hangover of mine. My first year of college. “just nineteen a sucker’s dream” How I’d fallen for a stranger four months before and sat across from him over candlelight and thought he’s perfect, he’s what I want. Not listening to any of his own words of warning. How I ended up crashing his New Year’s at St Mark’s Ale House in shitty boots and terrible blue eye shadow.

How I sat on your lap and caressed your face and ran my fingers through your hair and listened to you talk about your daughter, the one no one knows you have. How I felt like a burden to your friends, so cultured, so moneyed. How I wore the wrong boots. How I was hungover for three days convinced I was dying, that I needed to go to the hospital. How I’d only had toast that day. How I drank three blue martinis and a shot of god knows what. How I ended the night at 5am in a cuchifrito in alphabet city waiting for a ride home from my best friend’s dad.

How your friend took me aside and tried to tell me something, anything to get me to get the message. How I drunkenly berated myself and he looked angry at me for my harsh words.

No, I’d almost forgotten it.


February 27, 2013

You’re the only one I’d like to tell my problems to.

Nobody knows me. I’m flailing. I’m doing everything wrong. But it’s been ten years and you’re as foreign to me as the language you speak now on a daily basis.


I’ve been writing more lately, and I’m glad. Literature is missing from my life in a tangible, taxing way. It’s been a rough month. I think the universe might be trying to tell me something, and I’d better figure out what it is quick.

Every part of me feels broken. My body is falling apart, quite literally, and I can’t stop it. Always tired, always in pain. I’m moving from one crisis to the next with no solution in sight.


I’m not okay. And it’s okay for me to acknowledge that.


It takes everything I have not to walk away from this, to drop it all on the floor, smash it in a fit, in a rage and say “enough”. Everything I have, everyday. All I can think about is sleeping and reading and thinking and taking walks in the sunshine and how much more sense everything would make were I to do that.


“A beautiful woman is a terrible disappointment”

I think that’s what I was. I’m sorry. I was trying.


“Don’t you EVER speak to me like that! You think you’re a man?”

A man who embodies and performs masculinity in its most extreme iteration, one who adheres, perfectly, to the coded call-response script of our culture. And if I think I can step to him, it’s no wonder it never works out for me with the men I choose to bring into my life. Cowards.







seaside gusts of wind/and a house in which we don’t live

February 19, 2013

Kim’s prompt: rock – salt – bitterness

Rock salt

Eats into leather if you let it

Breaks down the

Skin of dead things

Lets water in

Fades the black to grey

But it will keep your

Boots on the ground

Your feet on the concrete

You won’t go



Into the cold

The ice hasn’t got a chance to

Drag you down

The car you drive

The one you push forward with your foot

Encased in rotting leather

Will lurch forward

It will slip over

Wet streets

It will send out mud and dirty snow

It will get us where we need to go

In one piece


When we get there

You will push coffee covered fingers into my mouth

And tell me

“I’m sorry. It’s me. I’m not a person.”

You will say this as your fingers reach deeper into my mouth

As they caress my tongue

As they jam into my throat

Cutting off my breath

Leaving a bitter taste

In my mouth


Then you will leave me out in the cold

Alone, in a strange place

Wondering what I did wrong


I am still wondering



Writing Prompts: Photographs, Infection, Bad Advice [January 16, 2013]

January 16, 2013

Did some writing with the Olives today. Here are three of the prompts.





Aging on the wall

Reminding me of your face

One eye bloodshot

Head in your hands


For my name, your voice

Asking if

I have children yet

“Mi nieta”, you tell the others

in the home.

The others who are forgotten

Seen only on weekends

Days off

When enough time

Can be scraped together

Stolen from the rest of the


Time enough to

Sit and stay with ghosts

Pictures that tell us

Of the blood we share

Reminding me of my secret shame

“When will you see your grandmother?”, he asks

“Soon”, I say

When I find the courage to

Steal time

Reverse fate

Be better than I am.




Sneaking into the bloodstream

A pin-prick

of introduction

And then you are

Down for the count

The body horror

The body as horror

The body A horror

The bo-dy

A whore

opening itself up to

The worst of the worst

Rubbing shoulders

And knuckles

With any sweat-stained


It can

Grab hold of


The body lies

Tells jokes

Plays tricks

On the unsuspecting mind

Tells you

“I’m hungry!” “I’m lonely!”

“Why won’t you feed me?”




To get your attention

Hair falling out

Your sweat smelling

Of sickness

Until you give in

You feed it

You assuage its lonliness

You open it up

Cracking the sternum to expose

The soft parts

Wait for it to corrode

To rot

To spike a fever

Burst a vessel



“A man gave me bad advice”


A man gave me bad advice

He said, if you love something

let it go

He didn’t say

You have to fight. You have to bleed.

He did not say

Sometimes you must steal and lie

and break hearts

He did not say

Sometimes the thing you love

Belongs to another

And you’ve got to take it from


like an angry toddler

like a jezebel

He said, if you love something

let it go

He did not say

You must be the man, men have

forgotten how to do it themselves

A man gave me bad advice.

He said


He said


He said

Seek elsewhere