Copyright © 2012 by Kate Ladew
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The glove never came off because I never put it on.
My fist would not unclench.
There is no room for mere fingers, only the whole hand will do. This is how you wanted it — you pressed the back of my hand against your breastbone so I could feel your pulse through my knuckles; you told me there is a reason the heart and the fist are the same size. For the first time, I understand the older people who would sigh with their heads down and claim that whatever they did to me, it was hurting them more than they hurt me.
I didn't believe them; I believe them now.
I look at you, begging me naked for this, and I ache. But you challenged me to this, so when I slap you, it will be with my bare hand.
-- Samuel Snoek-Brown
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Nail clippings stuck in the throat
The skeletal-faced doctor died in childbirth
Removing and consuming
the yelping heart
It was turned around and burned with the flaming veggies
Taste of salty ashes
suck at the
The feeding of a pale essence to an inhabited loved one
marks the mischief of an accused undead
Bloated veins exhume the dominant fantasy
Crossing a sack of bodies
Staring through hungry eyes of an emaciated quality
Eating the imaginary spawn of a ruddy corpse.
Monday, August 6, 2012
You are entering a new stage in your life.
That’s what she said to the kids gathered in the assembly.
I was one of those kids.
Teachers dressed in blue robes walked up and down the bleachers.
The kids next to me were whispering.
I said nothing.
I thought about not wanting to leave the school.
I thought about how animals didn’t spend hours sitting.
It was unnatural.
We want to give you the opportunity to take a snapshot of who you were back then.
She said that into the microphone.
The microphone buzzed really loud at the end of her sentence.
It hurt my ears.
I wanted to go home.
I wanted to eat a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.
I wanted to hug my mom.
I wanted this moment to last forever so the next ones wouldn’t come.
It was a gamble I was willing to take.
That the sum of all the moments that came after this one would be worse rather than better.
At some point I would die even.
Dying seemed like negative infinity.
I didn’t believe in God.
Not sure what I believe now.
Not sure which one constituted zero.
My box got to me before I had a chance to disappear.
Is it the blue bird of happiness.
Will I return to this moment after all the subsequent times and think this was the best one.
Do I really want to change.
Is there any choice but to change.
Once you die, is there any change.
These are the things I thought when I looked at the box.
The box was made of treated wood and had golden hinges.
I wanted to eat the hinges and have them cut up my insides.
Then I wanted to put my insides in the box.
Then I wanted to be made of nothing from the inside out.
My classmates were dozing off and staring somewhere else.
They didn’t know what was happening inside of me.
They didn’t know that I wanted to be in the box.
Strung out and chopped up in that box.
Because I wanted to stay the same forever.
Staying the same takes drastic measures.
While I didn’t believe in God, I didn’t believe in that either.
Because I was afraid.
Suicide is what happens in the movies when the shots and the music get all spacey.
And it feels tranquil but you know that if you were the character that just died all you would hear is ______________________
I felt like a captive to life.
I felt like I was pushed down the stream without a paddle against my wishing.
I didn’t want to make this choice or any others.
Do the others realize they have no paddle.
Can they be my boat if I ask them.
I want to be back home.
I want to be home with my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I want to be home with things I can’t put in the box.
I can’t put myself in the box.
What’s the point.
You are supposed to put things in the box that are important to you.
But not things that are too important where you would miss them.
Then what’s the point.
I could put a couple of spare pencils in.
I could put the shavings of erasers then the memory of their erasures.
Not that I will remember what they erased.
That’s what I want to remember.
I want to remember what they erased.
What memory will block out of my mind and replace with other things.
Like not being at home.
Like school that feels less like school.
Like the timelessness of crushes back then.
The strategic planning that was not manipulative but a byproduct of loneliness.
I won’t be able to force people to pay attention to my loneliness out there.
I decided then what I wanted to put into the box.
I would put nothing in the box.
Because it was the most sincere possible reaction to an encapsulation of an entire human being.
We die every second we are not ourselves and we are different people every second.
What would be the same in this exact moment to the exact moment I open it up, look at its contents.
That was my answer.
After the assembly, I told my teacher I would not be participating.
She said okay.
She looked a little sad when I said it.
Don’t you want to remember what you were like.
I told her no.
My memory is good enough.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
What the fuck was I thinking? But it was already September. It had been 95 degrees every day. The air was so thick with humidity and industrial grime I thought I was going to drown if I didn’t choke to death first. I’d been driving all around town in a car with a busted AC. I’d been looking for three months.
The apartment was cheap. On the top floor. No upstairs neighbours. It had a balcony- granted the vista was a smog-choked view of the Express Way. It didn’t matter. I had an apartment where I could look down, down over everything. And I love gazing down on things, even really ugly things. Best of all there were Coke machines, snack machines, laundry rooms.
I wouldn’t have to get into my crappy un-air conditioned car for weeks. Save for the occasional odd job which was why I was living in this shit hole in the first place- so I could have odd jobs rather than regular ones.
And this business of over-tanned skeevybat-faced men getting loaded in the parking lot, smoking pot and drinking beer while sitting on their pick-up tailgates, occasionally giving me a look like they might one night on a meth binge butcher then grill me on one of the many, many hibachis on the premises... or the fact that the entire apartment complex celebrates Halloween with the reverence that most suburbs reserve for Christmas and the 4th of July… crap loads of carved-out pumpkins on every step, window and doorway, skeletons hanging from balconies like multiple lynchings after a medieval raid; posters of fire breathing demons pasted on the dumpster door, gut like plastic worms stuck to mail boxes.
And that every single kid looks like a chunky or morbidly obese version of the Children of the Corn, not only eating an overabundance of string cheese but already squeezing their hefty trans-fat laden bodies into hideous and titillatingly inappropriate costumes- half Texas Chainsaw Massacre, half Tila Tequila.
I won’t even go into detail over the sallow-face teenagers looking like kids from the River’s Edge as I walk past them on the stairs with their jaws hung slack like cows, sprawled against the stairwell, leaning on skateboards they spent the entire afternoon falling off of.
I thought I could handle it. But for fuck sakes.
There’s a code to get into the complex. It’s early in the afternoon and they’ve locked the gate, as if anyone on this planet would want to break in here or feel any safer being locked in.
Someone has draped the keypad with cob webs out of a spray can. I have to get out of my car. It takes me ten minutes to claw through- to un-stick, to kick, to scream, to curse and to remember. When I’m finally able to dig my way in, I find the entire complex is coated in cobwebs from the rooftop to the ground floor. They’re everywhere. Someone has even webbed the high dive of the pool, which I must admit is marginally ambitious,almost impressive.
I blame the skateboarding hoard of teenage boys that live here. Not just because I hate them but because I hate them most; because they're staring right at me, standing beside their handy work with smirks on their gruesome acne-pocked faces as I pull my car through, as a particularly strong roping strand of cobweb bends along my dirty windshield.
They’re slouching just inside the gate, their eyes duly dilated, giving each other high fives for no apparent reason other than it’s likely the only physical intimacy they’ll allow themselves (other than the occasional drunken circle jerk). I blame them because they’re the only ones that have the time, energy, and necessary truancy to pull off something like this. Because last week I may have accidentally-on-purpose hit one of them with my car door; because a spray can is hardly a foreign object to them; because their frontal lobes are not fully developed and they therefore lack impulse control or good judgement; because like most teenage boys they’re assholes.
Because this week not only was I subjected to the entire complex's Halloween hysteria that renders everything icky, black, orange and rusty, but also to a daily dose of teenage skater boys and their blackened butt cracks as they try with their thin un-athletic bodies to do some trick they saw on a Tony Hawke video game they probably stole from some sweet, trusting fat kid who knows the entire score to Mame, which makes me think they're capable of anything.
Unsurprisingly, the cobwebs are especially thick along the outdoor hallway to my apartment. I need a scythe to get through them. I encounter each with exasperation and muttered, nonsensical curses, because after a shitty odd job of delivering pizzas for eight hours yesterday (bringing home a whopping 30 bucks for my troubles) I'm too fucking tired and depressed to think of sensical ones. The cobwebs rub against my face like clawing feral kittens, toxic and oddly fragrant.
I turn a corner and manage to scare a woman pushing a cart filled with aluminum cans "half to death", while taking down a hand full of cobwebs along with a couple of rusty windchimes. She looks at me and tells me I'm crazy. I tell her I'm not the one pushing a cart filled with aluminum cans wearing a night gown at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Finally I get to my door and I’m hit with a rush of relief. I know it's just a door but to me it's more than that. It's an oasis in a desert of tackiness, stupidity and unbridled inbreeding. It's beautiful. It's unadorned. It's steel.
It’s brown- no, it’s not even brown. It’s not even a colour. It is miraculously bland; there are no monsters, no ghosts, no fucking candy corn glued on to it or left beside it in baskets for stray cats to choke on (which is the only way to get rid of candy corn and the worst way to euthanize stray cats), no posters of pock-marked, lunar landscape-faced lunatics wearing coats cobbled together with the dead flesh of young, nubile teenage girls who are entirely too old to be spending their summers in camp. No pumpkins or jaggedly cut jack o' lanterns that look like they were carved heatedly under duress with a butcher knife.
It is plain, strong and neutral, just like any other door in any other part of the city during any other season. It's my door. It is my refuge. It is my ascension into Normal.
"What kind of mother fucker don't celebrate Halloween?" some slurring random drunk asshole that's got a face like a distressed leather jacket asks me, sitting with his dirty knees pulled up against his chest, scrunched on the stairs, drinking something out of a paper bag.
"My kind of mother fucker. Motherfucker."
I stare miserably at the door as the words “Evil cunt”, “She-man”, “Hag” and “Dyke” are dexterously dispensed from the pale, sun-cracked lips of the vagrant on my stairs. I open the door to an empty apartment, the exception being the continuous cockroach circus taking place in my kitchen, now atop an open box of stale Valentine candy from a year and half ago, most recently opened to give me some sense of closure.
And now I am left with an infestation.
I look out through my dirty sliding glass door. The daylight slips into a surreal petro-chemically hazed horizon. I snatch a couple of pieces of rotten Valentine candies along with a bag of candycorn I palmed out of a neighbour’s plastic pumpkin and hurl them across the room. It bounces against the wall like a golf ball. The asshole next door, the one that blasts old Ronnie James Dio albums until 3 in the morning, pounds the wall on the other side. I've inadvertently interrupted his afternoon siesta.
“Shut the fuck up in there, goddamnit! I'm trying to sleep.”
Outside, just to add to my misery, the Monster Mash is pulsing in a continuous loop out of a blown car speaker.
I don't know how to live. One person's noise is another person's lullaby. One person's castle is another person's descent into madness, failure and loneliness.
I take another piece of hardened Valentine candy, cock back my arm and let it fly once more, releasing a rain of rock hard hearts into the stale complex air.