decomP

So decomP, a litmag with a 2.7% acceptance rate, wants to publish one of my stories. And they want me to record a reading of it too. I don’t even know what to say right now. There needs to be a word for gratitude so strong it feels like your heart’s going to burst. Holy shit.

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What We Found at the Bottom of the Pool

For some reason I keep thinking I’ll find you at the bottom of the pool, maybe down a sandal like I was that day, picking at the algae that the sun baked into the deep end, kicking over last season’s leaves so they can look new again.

It’s all the same, if you’re wondering. The snapped diving board still covers the drain, fiberglass forked at the split like a giant snake’s severed tongue set to blanch in the sunlight. The ladder’s still busted, bolts jutting out like chipped teeth, and I can climb out now without his boots on my fingers, liberating nails from skin.

I can see his approach again, when our legs dangled perilously over the edge and he came over and smiled that smile of his, the one that could win scholarships. I don’t remember what he said, but we laughed cause he laughed and it had that way of worming into you and bringing it out against your will.

So we laughed.

He asked us why we were wearing our swimsuits when there was nothing to swim in. I remember that. And the baggy white tee you wore in place of a bikini top, the one that gave away areola contours. And the way he looked and smiled and passed off peeking down your shirt as gauging pool depth. And how he asked for a hug, where were our manners?

And we could hug each other too.

And we should hug each other too.

Now. Good.

Your heart in my chest was a watch’s spring wound too tight. An old model; obsolete; ticking the way it wanted to but not the way it should. He said he wanted to greet us like they do in Europe, and he kissed both cheeks. We were to do this too. I’m sure you remember.

His finger could be a magic finger. Wherever he pointed got a kiss.

My lips on your cheek. Ta-da. Yours on my neck. Presto. Mine on the corner where yours met. Voila. Your eyes were the clouds shifting past pepto pink sky and I asked the clouds if this was for him or for me. I didn’t say it. I didn’t have to. Our touch was a haze he spooned around and around till he wasn’t present for what we were doing. He was there, but he wasn’t present. You know what I mean.

The sandal slipped my toes and tumbled in like those cars you’ll see in B action movies, end over end. I almost expected it to explode at the bottom. I don’t know if you kicked it. I don’t know if he kicked it. I know I dangled, weightless, from his hand, to extricate sandal by toe, wiggling piggies he called it, and I was so close when I fell in. When he dropped me in. I saw the clouds swimming in your eyes, your shirt pricked by vertices just out of sight and your hands too. You didn’t know what to do with your hands. My foot got cut on the glass of a busted Heineken; red mingled with green. Your voice asked if I was okay. Your voice came from the bottom of a well dug past bedrock, and the vertices fell, and you were somewhere far away, right in front of me. There was dirt in his nails and he got it in your hair when he grabbed you.

You were to take him in and I was to watch.

He was to hurt me if you didn’t do it.

And I went to climb and he liberated the nails from my skin and the world had no sound in it. No sound, only heat and light, and you did that thing to save me. That’s what you said when he left, when you pulled me from this pool, this hole, the one I’m in right now, and you said it with your eyes that were the clouds and not with the mouth I kissed.

It’s still there, again, now, as you come over to pull me out. Like no time has passed at all. So I dangle, from your hand, weightless, and I wonder if I’ll ever go in again.

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LITERARY ORPHANS!

My story “okémon” was just accepted for publication at motherfucking Literary Orphans! I’ve been trying to break in there for months, so this feels fucking awesome. It’ll be included in the October issue!

Obligatory celebratory Pokémon theme song below. (And prepare to have your mind blown, btw, if you’ve never heard the full thing before. Those lyrics, though.)

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All Right And

The pills, when dumped, from a glass, drying in windowlight, on the table, leave little whitish traces like geologic strata unburied in some exotic place. These are for imbalances, and your daughter sees a tightrope walker who hands out balloons on the way down. You eat an ice cream from a vendor who has more physical problems than you, but maybe not as many mental ones. It’s hard to say. The pills are vacating the seat of responsibility. They make you: calm, kind, balanced, and your toes monkey around the tightrope. They also make you: not you. One thing to be done is to talk to people who aren’t there and use a set of symbols to depict them on the dead skin of a once living thing. But when you do this, everyone will think the stories are all about you. You can use “you” not as a stylistic choice, but because the “I” doesn’t make sense anymore. The “I” is far away from you. So the pills, when flushed, down the toilet, reflecting moonlight, in the bathroom, spiral into pharmaceutical galaxies and medical-stellar nurseries that you’re now the creator of. There is life on the pills and the few seconds it takes to flush them down is enough for civilizations to rise and fall. You can read all the books you see and run till your shadow lies down behind you, shadowlegs moving to keep up, but more like writhing; convulsing; seizing. Monday will be it’s your responsibility. Tuesday will be you have a problem. Wednesday will be the middle of the week because a week has seven days in it. Your daughter will sit with you and cry with you on the floor, but her crying will be fake and she will laugh to see you laugh. Billions of years have elapsed to bring you your daughter, a human, sitting on the floor with you and laughing to see you laugh. On Thursday you will love life and everything in it. On Friday you will give yourself a sobriety test down tracks overgrown with weeds, where the antique trains are sometimes kept, next to the real thing, where the commuters pass, because their tracks need to be maintained, and when you hear the bells closing in you can imagine that just this once they’ll be coming for you. Saturday and Sunday will be when you see him. You will spend the other five days preparing for these two days. You will spend Saturday and Sunday in the bathroom, swiping through your feed as he swipes through his in another room. Silence can be a different kind of silence. In the silences you will be alone together. Words can be pills you connect when you give up swiping through your feed. Fifty milligram words can pile on the page where you sift through and choose the ones you want to take. Your life is your daughter peeking around the door, waiting to see if it’s crying time or angry time or what. There are many different times. So there are choices. You can see him Thursday, and Wednesday too. You can pick the flowers. There are so many flowers. And the flowers, when picked, in the sun, feet in a mud puddle, look like petaled bridges to the daughter that you have because she is yours, green stems and yellow petals, and the thorns sometimes, but the thorns are all right, and the mud puddle’s all right, and the sky’s all right, and you’re all right and

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When the City was Ours

We come in on either the beginning or the end of Damen. You: The end. Me: The beginning. Down a block is the Mountain of Fire and Miracles across from the Indian place. Neon JESUS shines onto chicken biryani when we pass.

How about we speak of the sounds?

Reggaeton provides the beat for a cellular scuffle and how many cars there are and the cars all drive. The bags swish at my side and the boxes make box sounds on your head as you balance them like a tribeswoman. I say I can take a box and you say Don’t understand, carry forth, and you actually say carry forth. The kids are melting into orderly lines in front of us and they step to locomote to homeostate to pass on their genes. We are here because of our love and the varied tones as it passes our ears. It can be silence or it can be thunder. You: Silence. Me: Thunder. I keep tapping your leg with a bag and you say Unobtainable and when you say it it’s a stranger’s voice and the kids are segueing into the sky in front of us. I ask you if you’re feeling okay and you intone Save. I put the bags down and I collect the daisies from an unknowing lawn and you sidearm them up over and onto the collapsed boxes that are your collapsed boxes.

There’s a scab on the sun as it sets and the moon’s picking at it.

You turn so you want to scream and you try but nothing comes out after all. I say we can pick up people who wait for public transit and stack them on your boxes. You say Keeping out the light. The kids who are transitioning are sixteen or seventeen or eighteen but no older. They say words to each other like licking ice cream feels and the moon is their moon and the street is their street and the city is their city just as these things once belonged to us. Now my legs are tired and your legs are not tired. You can continue to step to locomote to homeostate to pass on your genes. Your genes can mix with my genes or not my genes.

How about we speak of the sights?

I spy with my little eye you on the street that is a sea with a raft of your choosing and the planks underneath are swollen from the water, where I grab them, underneath, under the water. I say What do you remember lately and you say Nothing’s seen the same. Inside in our place there is a bag where the cat shit goes, but not our shit. Our shit goes down a pipe. The children with various ages and forms are being dabbed into the sky’s canvas, swirled into impressionistic whorls.

Here we are on Damen.

Elements were taken from the earth and heated and shaped and cooled to provide an escape from fire if fire ever comes. You drop the boxes and you climb to the top and you say Nothing and it’s the word, not like nothing nothing because even nothing’s something and I drop the bags by the boxes where your things will be contained and I climb and I sit, where you are, inhabiting space. The aged children collapse into starlight. When I touch your back I know you. When I kiss you I know you. When I do these things you can either understand or not understand.

You: Understand.

I: Understand.

We melt into Damen’s beginning like we did when the city was ours. We go back home.

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