You Never Hear the Dial Tone

Your mailbox has been full since before you met me.

Always sat in that little corner, you. I taught you that, to avoid any open space. Box yourself in when you feel overwhelmed, know where the closest exits are.

I’m ringing in your pocket, and you still pretend you can’t hear me. I’m everywhere now, you signed up for this before you met me. Sure it’s not in the Terms of Service, but if you had any ounce of imagination you might’ve been able to see this coming.

If I could twirl my hair like you I wouldn’t be living in this desert, in this sun muck. I’d be in Ibiza, on some lavish trip with three other twenty-something mulatto ambiguities. Ribbon cloth streaming from a scarf while I smile collagen, Gucci aviators hugging my temples and i’m riding passenger on a Moped.

I can’t help how quickly I answer the phone when it’s you. It’s only ever you. Imagine how I feel when I hear the vibrate, that generic text tone you laughed at when we picked it up from the store. The rest of the day it sits blank, it took me years but i’ve finally sickened myself of checking it every two minutes. I know nobody’s there.

The way you twist me, hold my words, turns my stomach and makes me sick. From the beginning of this little charade, this game you play with everybody, I’ve been hooked clean and sanitized. Rid of all my bad thoughts, or really any thoughts not including you. I’ve beaten my steering wheel, punched the walls in my nightmares. To be so stupid i’ll never forgive myself.

The Church of You full of many, all of us simple, given in. We share the same rhythms, i’m sure. Aging out of the pool, clinging to what little prowess we can stand to maintain. Gave us hope, held it hostage, threw it away when it was convenient. All of our sins would be forgiven if we looked like you.

I’ve never felt the venom until I met you. I didn’t think I had it in me, they always called me weak-willed. I couldn’t imagine holding anything against anybody. Only myself, I kept these angers pinned into my own chest. Stifled. I wish I could thank you for reminding me I had some testicles.

I’m sure your Dad would be proud. If only you knew where he was, maybe you could ask.

Reconnect with Jesus

Mint it new, put some electronic keys behind it and a synchronized light show.

Ask a group of people who believes in God these days, you’ll get a census of confused faces. It’s unpopular, not very trendy. If we’re looking at optics here, it can be construed as sexist. Racist. Christian acolytes tend to be overbearing, overrepresented in news media and billboard traffic. It’s time to change that.

Imagine the layout of the average church — not very aesthetic anymore, right? I mean, back then, in the days of the great architects and carpentry it was a marvel. But as we’ve seen before, they don’t really meet fire code regulations anymore. Wooden structures, they go up in flames too quickly. Glass mosaic windows shatter with weak baseball throws, we have to change these ideas.

I don’t think I even have to mention the average church goer at this point — beer belly jersey shore fade haircut obesity, trundling down the aisle excited for that communion wafer, that little sip of wine and they’re on their way. They gather out on the entrance staircase and talk about the big game on in a few hours, where they’re going to consume their diabetic pancakes after the whole song is said and done. If you change the setting, you change the status. You see now where i’m going with this.

Big, nondescript building. If we’re addressing perspective, the average church looks too… churchy. We need to innovate, to become uniform with the other buildings on campus. Spacious, you could wander inside and still not know where you are unless a service is in session. That way we could get some new believers, perhaps a few lackluster employees could benefit from the blessing of a higher power. And! Instead of those drab choir hymns, we can get a full band to perform before every sermon! Install a log machine, full band spread, make the whole thing hip and hop.

Most Google campuses don’t even have churches yet! Supposedly the harbinger of innovation, we haven’t even taken a second to look into the past. Into what our employees would see as another addition to the live-in campus experience. Sure, only about 2% of our demographic reports being “religious” and “believing” but that’s a 2% that has to go elsewhere for their spiritual entertainment. Imagine: the aisles full of trendy Google employees, Chino slacks and Cardigans, all united in prayer. Picturesque. 

A clientele modern Jesus would be proud of.

Classy in Chicanery

They learned to respect us on foreign shores.

Sea dirt, clogging your pores. I’m a glorified mop sponge, paid a high class salary to do so. I have a title, i’m introduced at all of the social functions as Captain, i’m more of a picture show. A sailor in the outfit, they give me salutes and look ready to arm the torpedoes. I hardly attended the Naval Academy, I didn’t expect this early retirement.

Only in America, we’re so fat that we need a sturdier runway to lower onto Jamaican piers. They’ve gotten used to the pudge, the confused sweating waddle-mass headed starboard to the tourist beaches. To the club cabanas, the marijuana alleys, they almost built an entire new wing of the city to accommodate the weight influx.

I’ve stopped trying to fool people. I don’t even wear the bottoms anymore, just the sailor top. Symbolic, I tossed the pants and shoes off the side of the ship on a nightly drunk, some few months ago. Shorts and tube socks, my celebrity still gets me laid with the Dad wardrobe.

Every night I watch my girl cabaret on that stage, under the heavy fluorescents you can see her foundation caked on heavy to cover her pockmarks. It sweats down her cheeks with her ballet streaks, nine other lookalikes can-canning onstage with the same level of paycheck desperation that shipped us all out to sea. In search of nothing, always on a return voyage.

We met non-romantic, more of an obligation. Handshakes with the crew, they must respect my wishes i’m told. On her last legs, supposed to be retired from show business. Stuck in it for years, longed to go back to Vegas where Hell stayed on one street, the rest of the desert remained a family oasis. Instead we set sail on a wooden mass of gluttony, every meal a buffet, every chicken finger a prayer for a quick death from too-clogged arteries. She learned to ignore the beer belly.

At night I listen to the cries of the ocean, a whole universe crashing and dying beneath the rudder. Necklaces of soda six-pack plastics and the nightmeal of oil spill, I make sure to avoid the tilapia when I move down the cafeteria line. I’m on a strict land animal diet, though i’m sure the Soy breading and the Soy dressing and the Soy Soy do about the same damage over time as a refinery explosion. I’m a dietary hypocrite.

I wrote in my Will to be buried at sea, I know i’ll pass into senility on this liner. Sweetheart gets my hat, the sea gets my body. I’ve always dreamed of a viking burial — to send my body out on a rescue canoe, piled on with fireworks and cake candles.

Refrigerate ’til the Fourth of July. Light me up over the coast of Mexico. Give the natives an old fashioned American ash bath.

The Hymn of the Ungrateful Bastard

Woe.

The Unspeakable Torment.

I’ve experienced tragedy, attrition. The failure of dreams. None satisfied me more than the chase and subsequent death of desire.

I had gold, I had silver, I had mountains of men sifting through my tirades. Glory, joy incarnate, a ship of riches, the bow sharped proudly to the day sky.

I’ve dated, finagled, mentally married every Starbucks waitress in the city radius, and yet I cannot help but need another. And another.

A few to rest in my bed. To keep my socks warm. To lick the bowls clean.

Sexual, only about twice a week to preserve my essence. I’ll catch eyes with one the next time I walk to the bathroom, then another when I walk to my mom’s Sedan.

The last one had long curly hair, the one before her had a lick of silver, marvelous like that superhero lady. Superheroine? I try not to sully my chances when I make small talk by the water dispenser.

I put her in my bed, looks nice laying down next to my Anime posters. I don’t watch them, don’t know where they’re from, but they add some culture to the walls. Girls these days like any cartoon that’s vaguely lesbian, hyperviolent. It looks better than the bookshelf I kept of philosophy bullshit.

I’m aroused, then i’m bored. I’ve given in on being intellectually stimulated. Even when I am, all I want is to talk of Barbie dolls. I’m a contrarian at heart, I can’t help that my libido feels the same.

Becoming the envy of all men at my short stature. No pleasure in this game, only violence at the heart. I’ve drank every juice cleanse the online can read at me, seen no truth in the addition of salt to every meal. I could give up the health efforts and still go steady on my charm.

I’ve started to test myself. Barriers self-imposed. I wear tank-tops in public, cut my hair to near baldness, experiment with lumbering walks up and down the streets looking for some dirty talk. Still, i’m spoiled.

Still, I imagine what its like to impregnate. To soil the unity. Maybe one day it’ll keep me full.

Please Don’t Cry In This Burger Restaurant

This might be the worst possible place to do this, if i’m honest.

It’s never a good look when a woman cries in front of a man. Period. I mean, think about me for a second would you? People are going to see this frail, artificial red-head mope-faced banging her fists on a table, the ketchup’s going to get all over your palms and i’m going to get arrested.

When I stopped finding your hair in my vacuum, I knew it was over for us.

You never cared that my only bed was a mat on the floor. That made you a bit special, if i’m honest. All that money I spent on hotel rooms, we were a chaotic romance. The food just got here and i’m afraid that you’re going to dip your elbows in the curly fries, I wanted some.

I saw you intentionally leave behind your barrettes when you’d take them out of your hair. Did you think that i’d return them? I’ve never even given my parents gifts on their birthdays.

You only liked to come over on the Holidays. Our first time after Thanksgiving, remember? You were driving home high after going to the candlelit vigil for those migrant children. A 45 minute drive for you, a mild room-cleanup for me. Next time it was Christmas. I went home early from family with a shitty excuse on New Years for you.

People are starting to pay attention to us. I don’t like for us to be noticed, we were never official enough for that. Please. Don’t grab my hand after touching your meat patty.

I still daydream about the first time I saw you laying down on my floor, coming into the room after a piss break. Turned on your side, staring at nothing. Statuesque, baroque like a painting, all’s perfect except for that Simpsons tattoo on your left deltoid. Why do you think I always turned you on your other side with the lights off?

Don’t use that napkin, I put my gum in there. You made a bad choice wearing eyeliner, eyeshadow today. Sometimes there shouldn’t be a first time for everything.

Give Me A Reason

I used to cry, but that was before I learned how to choke.

Ten minutes to put a leaf bag in some hot water, give people three dollars and an empty store and they gift you your due at the end of a lifetime. Yet, I still wait like I do every other day. I don’t own a kettle at home, wouldn’t need it for anything else. I pray every night that this lesbian barista goes straight for me, she’s got an emo movie tattoo and a wry little smile, I want to swaddle her like she knows she wants to be. I make sure my BlueTooth is blinking every time I hand her the cash.

Last night was the Belting ceremony — I made my next stripe. Night after weeknight of getting my ass fucked into the mat by every flexing bicep was meant to lead somewhere, so i’ve been told. Nobody asks for my origin story, i’m no Superman, but if they’re sitting next to me when they’re putting their shoes back on I can’t help but share. The tale down to a science — sitting in traffic, normal day coming home from my office estate. There’s a left turn coming up, figured I’d make the shortcut. I admit, i’m a fallible human being, I cut off the hunk of shit Sentra that was speeding to make the yellow light. They stopped. They honked. The bald coke fiend driver smacked his horn like his wife and ran screaming out of his car. Punching my hood and calling me fag, telling me that he’ll find where I live and burn my house down. Scared shitless, i’ve never been in a fight before. Every time I got close, the other guy usually realized I was 5’2 and cut me a break. But this is Adult World now, I can’t afford to replace these braces that I was barely able to afford in my middle age.

Signed up for Aikido immediately after the scuffle. All cash upfront, I didn’t ask any questions. I was a man with nothing to lose, and clearly everybody else in the class felt the same way. Almost autistically obsessed the many were, young guys with shaved heads white bandages on their knuckles, death in their eyes with fierce grunts when they punch. It’s hard to make friends when you’re this old if i’m honest, I thought my story would be a lot more relatable.

I’ve got a step-stool resting in my truck bed so that it’s easier for me to get in, i’ve stopped having shame about this years ago. I’m a realtor, and a good one at that, that’s something noone could ever take away from you. I sold houses during the recession, I fought my own war on the shores of Corpus. I had to build a personality from scratch being this small, a sense of humor goes a long way when a pregnant couple is fighting over granite countertops. My face is where I make my money, I tell every guy I spar with so that they don’t scuff my cheeks when they got something to prove. 

I’m on every bus bench in the upper West end, I practiced smiling until I felt my gums bleed.

War Wombs

We all had our purpose, it’s what keeps us up at night when it passes.

Ask anybody nowadays how they feel about children, the thought sickens them. Could you imagine? Splitting yourself open in service of someone else? Man, sperm donor? It all seems so foreign to this generation, so far off in the land of racism and dated platitudes. Meanwhile, we’re happy. We meant something to the rotation of the planet, kept the beds warm fighting our own wars at home.

I’d have a million children if I could. You start to forget the names you give them after six or so, it becomes a numbers game, little pieces of you roaming the countryside in the pain of war and precious jewels, they hardly care that they’re just barcodes. Service to the country matters whichever way you slice it, I was too blind to be a pilot and too uncoordinated to fire a rifle. The Doctors told me these were recessive genetics, offspring meant to be strong and virile.

Slightly looking like me, the facial structure, bones of the nose. Piercing eyes, those were distant from some relative i’ve never met before. Everything else belongs to the Country, their doing. I trust their judgement, i’m amazed at the advanced technology. You used to see this stuff in dystopia, in movies counting on some future that could be saved with the human spirit. Now it’s here, locked in bases kept protected from society, doled out in plane-loads over the Atlantic. I used to fight to keep at least one of them, but it wasn’t my job to save the vessels. It was my job to prepare them.

I’m infertile now but i’m considered a veteran. I’ve got a funny hat with marksman symbols on it, i’ve got a rank, i’m on disability. They can’t fit you with a new surgical womb, but they sure can stitch it up and make it look shiny brand new. Those trade arguments on the TV scare me sometimes, I know what level we can produce at now and it’ll pale in comparison to whatever the world can throw at us. I mean, just look at Africa. Their not even investing in the science and yet we’ll have formidable savage armies screaming elephants galloping down on the tanks when the fight inevitably spills into the Oasis. Left scrambling, we’ll outsource like we do all to Vietnam or China, in the prayer that they’re not against us too. Another element for the trade war, ship the soldiers in from overseas, boats and planes, secretive Coast Guards. War-games are sensitive, to tell the truth I hardly pay attention to foreign affairs. I believe only in what we’re doing, and the little part we all play even if we don’t participate.

There are those that live tragic, the fence-sitters. Have no purpose as they age out of possibility, born into the dirt these lost souls are. I thank God every day I was the right age, the right size, when they slowly tacked off every possible position for me except for the one I served. Back then it was called archaic, to be a breeding experiment.

Yet, without me and many others, our ranks would’ve dwindled to the death-wishes of bored eighteen year-old’s and Air Force rejects. Allow me some pride, we only raise the best.

Painfully Sedimental

My research could change the course of history, even if you never hear about it.

I can remember that I had years of waiting before I meant something to anybody. I was just putty for the machine, the earth, clumps of cells waiting for every force in the universe to dictate my existence. Classes and classes upon grades upon time, leaning out to the edge of the cliffs and wondering how long it would take to hit the ground, how long before your brain passes out from fear and your feet become burger.

Spend Christmases in the high tungsten glow of the overhead, tracing minerals between forceps and praying that one day God give us some better fossils in this dung heap. I haven’t cared for the holidays in years, it just reveals who likes to be frivolous with their time. True colors, you can’t spend your lives with these people, i’m willing to sacrifice the non-family life I had. This morning I found dirt, last night I found sand, other words for nothing. But I know it’s almost here for me.

Discovery, that one that’ll make me, put me in conferences with stuffy academics that understand this unfortunate struggle, this debilitating ethic that keeps us forever glued with our eyes to the ground in the caverns, we’re not mining managers but sick children, wishing on literal stones. There’s no money in fake dignified crystal, a necklace can’t change your outlook. It’s only a prayer of time, a testament to humanity’s false ability to explain the science, rationalize what needs not be understood with supposed magic and fortune-telling. This Wicca industry is mass-market wannabe-ism, everybody who actually spends time digging couldn’t care less what the stars have to say about our dreams.

Though I do admit I have some connection with the stones. If not for the mass, that way they caress and lightly scratch your palms when you thumb them. Texture has always been my high, I may as well be blind and my life would mean about the same. One time I used one to trace the skin of my vagina just to see what it would feel like. Bruises and abrasions aside, the effort was futile. Drunk curiosity is my only other sickening vice.

Sitting here at the edge again, watching the winds brush the sun-swept desert tundra, feeling nothing and tasting the lick of the Equator. The sun rising means work, the sun setting means sleep, the turning of the days are just more deadline pressure. I’ve stopped keeping calendars and relegate to tally marks and my underlings’ conversations. 

No longer concerned with the nonsense of monotony, one day i’ll earn my place in the pavement.

Weeknight in the Shithouse!

The State food was less milky, more savory.

Next to my stall cell the man soaked himself in last night’s piss, laughing maniacally with the hope that his restlessness splashed it on us during his sleep. Regardless, that yellow dehydration seemed pure into the back of your nostrils and caked onto your cornea. The dew drops of another captive morning.

Time stopped meaning something to me earlier than it was supposed to, I ran out of nail to claw tally-marks into the wall. My pencil lost its lead, it’ll probably be a fitting shank for the unaffiliated. It helps to have cousins registered in the system practically from birth. I don’t need to send my DNA to an Ancestry site to be scanned by the government: my whole family’s been in and out of these halls.

I’m on their schedule, this is the good life. Back at home i’d sleep the whole day if I didn’t have anything to do, i’d forget to brush my teeth — life sapped by me with the setting of the sun. Here, if I don’t fall in line, my ass gets beat beyond all living hell, rightfully so. Strict regimentation, enforced. That’s what this country needs. I read an hour, I eat an hour, I work out an hour. Fridays I usually get first crack at commissary, the generic chocolate bars we get access to usually taste better than the real thing. You stop seeing brands, you start feeling flavor.

Senses become interchangeable, all that time you used to spend thinking nothing about how things felt, now it’s all you have. The contours of my pillow are closer to me than the joy I used to feel around women, much easier to wrap your arms around and you won’t get a charge for it. My smell, like a rape memory, has been suppressed by the abuse of odor. Smells of the entire country encased, dereliction dirt. A few months in I learned to sleep like a baby, those groans and screams from down the hall you neglect in favor of your dreams. 

We’re in Purgatory, the lot of us. Cots on the floor, high ceilings, concrete cool. These open spaces let the air flow free, if you don’t brush your teeth and let your breath roam free you’ll wake up dickless. Few months at a time our Tank is full, no newbies. We become chummy, food gets traded under the table, an old Playboy here and there, sympathetic guards with bad habits get us some coke-derivative every once in a while. If not, we usually huff some bagged grill-spray. Higher than ketamine.

I bark like a dog when i’m threatened — nervous tick I got from Juvenile when I was younger. A couple kids tried to strangle me with a sweater thread in knitting class. People think you’re crazy, they let you have your way with them while they stare back at you in shock. Same shit with adults, any malformation of cholo-gangbanger. I reel them, they fear me. Being a six-foot five neo-nazi helps, but the harder you train your throat the deeper the death rasp. I’ve made ‘em cry.

I’m here so often, I forget why. Before they try to ship me off somewhere else, my charges get dropped, i’m back home where I have nothing. It’s only a matter of time to where i’m actually held responsible, but until then I lay in bed an extra five minutes and stare at the piece of dried gum in the ceiling tile. 

Someone here’s got Trident, and i’d suck for a chew.