27 Powers

Friday, June 24, 2005

stars

if there were stars that night
i did not see them

what i saw was vinyl upholstery
the open mouth of the bottle
robbie’s face close in the muggy darkness of the back seat
speeding white headlights
green exit signs punctuating the night

what i saw was hollywood approaching
a kind of teenage freedom
five girls staggering down sunset full of blackberry brandy
and southern comfort
and boys, boys with cars, boys who procured bottles
by the fifth

this was after sonia moved to las vegas for a year and came back shavonne
but before the curtain of my innocence fell
before holly left forever
before i wrecked my rabbit and my spleen on olsen road
before rich strung himself up in his dark apartment
before david stepped off the freeway overpass

it was just a night like other nights
like the night z came up from hollywood
in his rock and roll leather
to climb the suburban foothills with
five high school girls
all of us coming home full of cactus needles
taking turns in the shower
with beer and tweezers

this was before the string of bad boyfriends
before i went to rob’s dorm room with my last few lines of cocaine
before i first tasted raw oysters on a date in la jolla
before my girlfriends started asking me to have threesomes
before my grandmother died, and then my father, and then my other grandmother
before the lead-weight jobs
before the clomid, the injections, the cyst, the miscarriage

what i remember is the rush of darkness
the hum of the road
the thuh-thuh of reflectors under tires
the podlike feeling of riding fast in that car
parentless, invincible, free

if there were stars that night
i did not see them

Thursday, June 23, 2005

panties

There are 13 panties
when he sings pussycat
pussycat
I love you
cute, thin, panties, scattered messily on the stage
like delicate white, pink, and black flowers

Now there are 21 panties
one pink thong
lands on tom’s right arm, near the microphone chord
and to his right
one white bra, white cups, lonely
wait for attention
for love
to be touched
to be seen
to have fun

We all want it
love, hot sex, someone to take charge once in a while
to leave the panties messy on the floor
and say what’s true
and so I’ll say it.
as bob does it,
sings pussycat pussycat I love you
like he did one year ago
with the tom jonesing band
on our wedding night on his knees
I’m unhappy in this instant
over his tousle with the usher
but I listen to his voice in my ear
and let it enter me
and ask for passion without anger
wonder if it’s possible
as he coos and caresses me
in his tux
one year away
from I do.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

clara in the cave

It’s not pretty, the arguing
with a mother in a silver wheelchair.

Stalactites hang from the underside of a desert floor
piercing through cool moist air
daughter
pants and pushes her up the incline
thinks the brakes are on, but not
mother
proclaiming independence
I don’t need you
and frees herself from the chair
and runs, literally runs, up the ramp.

Unimpressive, she says
not like the gleaming white cavern in Virginia
with the pipe organ built into the formations, that summer, back then.

Mother and daughter enter the throne room
twenty-foot-long straws, undulating ribbons, a soaring mythical column
hundreds of thousands of years
of drips, minerals, wetness
secret treasure
awe and wonder wash over them.

As they leave, indignance and independence release their grip.
The rush of desert air brings them back to reality
that they are two women
with the same turn on their noses
the same ache in their left hip
and the mother’s momentary bristling
at the difference
between old and young
is buried,
she can’t talk of resentment
that she can’t do some things
that it’s not her turn anymore.

she looks into the eyes of the daughter she loves
eyes that are like his, her husbands eyes, long gone
and she knows it’s ok to be 80
and be a mother
standing in the parking lot
of Karchner Caverns
in the hot desert air.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fun for Every Juan

The heat dampens all of me, as I sit in the car, the can of Fresca warming between my knees. All ten years of me, white skinny legs and arms, ten years of me, pushing the dog off my upper thigh, pushing her hard, as she scratches me, leaving painful red swirls on my leg with her nails, hurrying to get wherever she is not. In the back seat with my aunt, her hair red, always red, her body thin like mine. I put down Gone with the Wind to read the first sign:

PEDRO’S SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Fun for every Juan


The miles in the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme station wagon pass by excruciatingly slowly. The Georgia peaches in the back window roast in the sun, their scent fills the car, mingling with the Virginia ham on the floor. I’m tired of waiting to eat the ham, but I can eat a peach, eat it now, as the miles pass on Uniroyal tires; my dad’s allegiance to the brand always a mystery, and I wonder when it will happen -- the inevitable jerk of the car, the limp to the edge of the hot pavement in South Carolina, when we get the blow-out. Will it come before Dad’s speeding ticket, will it come before the interstate is built, in this year before I have a period, before my first kiss, before I fall in love with the desert and out of love with Mike. Before my aunt introduces me to sherry, with ice, at the restaurant on the pier in St. Augustine FLA, where I throw bread to the fish, water churning, and I’m glued to the rail, watching them.

Pedro’s weather forecast…

Back to Gone with the Wind. How can Scarlet’s waist be 14 inches! I’m only ten, and my waist is 14 inches. I’m in love with Ashley, not Rhett, and don’t understand why Scarlet brushes him off. Can't she see he's the one?

Chili today. Hot Tamale.

There are around 100 of these signs, marking the miles before and after Pedroland, each one an event, something to look forward to, while the tires hum and we count the hours from New Jersey to Miami. Even though it’s the only thing for miles we never stop to get a closer look at the 200 foot tall sombrero that’s has been there since the 1950’s, guiding people south, guiding us to the Florida beach. The ferris wheel, the ice cream, the Himalaya, simply delay me wearing my favorite straw hat, and putting white zinc on my nose and winning the right forearm tanning contest with dad.

Now I’m only hours away from little baby pecan pies and cold milk from the beach shop, from the smell of the canvas raft in the seawater and the squeak of my body as I climb on top to float, float, float, dreamy in the sea my aunt is afraid of. Only hours from the kitchenette, from the smell of orange blossom somethings for sale at the souvenir stores, from the sizzling sirloin steak and corn at Captain Jacks. Hours from the Ramada Inn, where mom leaves the dog in the hot hot car, windows up, while we have lunch, and come out to find the car was opened, the rescued pet standing confused in the entry fountain, tongue out, panting, almost dead, and I wasn’t sure I cared. It’s time to go to the beach.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

something catches

eventually something catches
...catches my eye...
that flower on the corner
the garbage on street
the butterfly sitting on the pavement
the sun creating shadows on the green grass
something catches my eye and I stop...
stop and pay attention
pay attention like a photographer should
I catch myself...
I catch a glimpse of that man at the table reading his paper and drinking his coffee.
he doesn't see me, I watch him, he's entered my head, but I've not entered his.
what's it like to be a part of someone's mind you aren't aware of
I want into their minds, their lives..
I want to know and feel how they feel...
I catch a glimpse of the woman sitting in traffic next to me singing
I can't hear the music or even know if there is any?
I catch a glimpse of Tim slipping into the shower, the glimpse of his naked body.
the glimpse of his underware peaking out of his pants
the glimpse of her bra sticking out of her low cut t-shirt
the thong outside her low slung pants
I catch a glimpse of the woman littering like no one saw
the man tripping over the sidewalk
the dog pooping on the rose bushes..
the glipse of the world passing by...
stopping for that moment to take in the quietness of an empty apartment.
I leave the lights off and sit in darkness.the man across from us pulls his blinds - he's only in boxers.I don't see anything, he doesn't see me.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

sparks

They both needed different things
And also the same things
Where the paths crossed
Their language became electric
A charged reaching-for-something
A wired type of sparring
An unintentional jab
A parting zap
A shower of sparks
Igniting a knowing smile
She recognized herself
Plugged into aggression-mode
Practicing her technique
On an unintended target
Savoring the way it felt
Expressing long-suppressed instincts
Like a wolf pup play-fighting with a sibling
Dreaming of a future kill
She felt good and strong
Playful and vibrant
Right up until the moment
It became real
His expression changed
The intended parting zap
Delivered

At Sears

My father has an office under the escalator. All day, people move up and down, smoothly, evenly, feeling on their faces the brushing wind that is unique to escalator travel, carrying shopping bags and grasping the hands of squirming children. Down below, my father sells insurance. He has a wide plastic briefcase that opens up into a kind of slide projector. The suitcase is gray. He uses it to make promises, to show people what security looks like.

One day I am walking around the store with my mother, father, and brother. We are here for Toughskins jeans. I have a green pair and a red pair, and my brother has brown and blue ones. We each need another pair. As we pass by Lingerie, my mother drags me aside, saying to my father and brother, "We'll catch up with you."

I am ten years old and already I have small mounds forming under my t-shirt. I have not noticed, but my mother has. She has been plotting, waiting to ambush me. The woman in Lingerie is wrinkled, smells of milk and must. She gives me a knowing look, tinged with pity, that says she is sorry I am growing titties so young. I hate her. I hate my mom. The woman wraps me with a tape measure, turns the tape measure this way and that, proclaims a number and letter for me to harness around myself when I dress in the morning for the 6th grade.

Another day I am much younger. I am about as tall as my father's hip. I am alone with him, walking through Appliances. We are walking fast, on our way somewhere. I reach up to hold his hand and my pinky finger is met by a burning sting. I cry out and yank my hand back. Tears spill from my eyes. My father halts, startled. He bends down to examine the red circle on my finger and says he is sorry. He is sorry he was holding his cigarette in toward his palm so I couldn't see it.

He is sorry, too, that I know something about him: that he holds dangerous things in places that can't be detected; but this he does not say.