I want 3000 words today, self! Now get down on the ground and give me… uh. Three thousand.
Guys. Guys. Guuuuuuuuys.
WRITING IS HARD D:
I’m pretty pleased with myself so far, though. A tidbit for all the people who don’t give a shit:
Speaking of queens, she decided she must look the part of one, if the stares were any indication. She tried to ignore them as she moved toward the auciton room. A familiar voice stopped her short, however.
“Hey, Princess — I mean, Lady Kisaragi, you look like hot stuff tonight.”
Yuffie turned, and to Reno’s visible surprise, delivered him a shallow bow. “Reno,” she said, unable to keep her genuine pleasure and amusement from her tone, “and Elena,” she added, bowing to the blonde woman who trailed behind her redheaded partner.
She heard shutters clicking and knew the press was going to have a field day with her deference for the Shinra dogs. She didn’t care. The world needed a reality check — she had respect for the ex-Turks. They worked for the WRO, and she would not tolerate any more bad words for them. They had done good work for a number of recent years, the world was not black and white, and she was tired of animosity, tired of games and grudges.
“Where’s Rude?” she said in the slightly awkward silence. Reno smirked, his scars stretching, no longer off-kilter at her actions. “He drew the short straw. Then again, he never really was much for parties, the big guy.”
She didn’t question it. She guessed Rude was probably perched in some high place with a very slick gun and a high-powered scope. Yuffie felt a little better knowing it and entertained, not for the first time, thoughts of training her guards in some of the Turk methods. They would do well for it.
Yeah. Hot off the press, so highly unpolished but damn if I’m not going to enjoy this next scene. 70,000 words, here I coooooome!
(Selecting lines at random from The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, then crafting them into something entirely different, then stringing it all together in an attempt to actually write something decent for once. Don’t really think it worked, but oh well. Practice is as practice does.)
It takes a special obscurity to rot bananas like this house does, all flapping, gummy rinds spotted in the window, hungry deer gazing in, then fleeing at the creak on the stairs, the percolating coffee. My flea-bitten hip bumps the fruit bowl atop the dish washer, and in that moment, I can’t tell what is a good war or a bad war and whether my father likes Ann Coulter or just likes brown, creased apples.
When I run over the oppossum tonight I smell hot, wet pavement and, curiously, watermelons. My brother rains at times, feels unwanted and beats his shivering, brand new puppy when it pisses hot and fresh on his bedspread. The puppy comes back thick and grateful, all cow spots and pink belly. My brother will smoke until his hands become wise, until his fingernails wither. Nicotine and tall tales and thieving for drug-money. I don’t want to write about death — they all do —but then the bananas blacken and Aunt Fran shrinks beneath cancer from the waist up, and I beat a single drum on a oppossum with my tires, smash a cricket for singing too loud in the stems of the peace lily and some muggers kill Steve Gale, a friend of a friend on the internet, and a motorcyclist lies prone in chunks of plastic as I pull over for the ambulance.
Late in August, when the summer wears thin at the seams, and the patchy clouds have scrubbed the moon bright-eyed and clean, I run over a opossum with my twenty-year-old Honda Civic. The thump rattles my crooked front teeth and my mind. A quarter of the mile down the road, I yank a hard u-ey and return to the junction of Whitesville Rd and Upper Big Springs Rd. I get out of the car.
My brother’s puppy puked on my passenger seat an hour ago, a livid orange protest painted in Chef Boyardee Spaghetti-O shades. An hour ago, I dropped off him, his dog, and his pregnant girlfriend. She is sixteen and wears a bow splashed with buffalo checks in her short red hair. Probably my seat will always look like I beheaded the worm from Tremors there. I’m so tired — of my mother and my brother and his pregnant girlfriend and the way he dropped out of school and his feather-light promises of GEDs and working at the Happy Stop.
I cannot find the opossum for several minutes, but it’s there, somewhere.
Hades dreams only once. In his sleep, Persephone eats one pomegranate, hands curved around the fruit. She pops the seeds between her small white teeth, and juice trails the length of her throat. He says, in the light of a summer day, in the hush of real trees, he says, Your eyes are like bluebells, like dust. She hikes up her skirts and crooks a lock of hair around one finger, a question mark. He is like an artist in a wax museum, but her flesh stays cool beneath his blazing hands, and her laughter snags the sheets with a false ring.
She dreams only of pomegranates, the weight in her palms, cupped, the skin broken in her mouth. She flows beneath his hands, a riotous burn. Demeter has taught her of men, of Zeus and of greenery growing in the soil. Demeter has not taught her to ignite as a candle in Hades’ gaze. Persephone smiles, the slow swing like a trap as the bards play laments on their lyres, retelling for all: The Rape of Persephone.
Mom digs the curlers from my hair with acrylic nail precision. I just want to see how gorgeous it is, Sissy-bear. Hey, Tommy, take a picture with your telescopic zoom monstrosity. You can name it “Modern Misery” or “Mother and Daughter.” He coughs like an old door hinge and picks up a new Marlboro as the old one’s end still twinkles. Tommy Fincher, who has a hernia and asthma and smokes like a freight train, hands me a prism and watches with crystalline sensitivity as I peer at him through one side. He fuzzes apart at the seams, unraveling into red, blue, yellow. No ceiling fan knits his smoke, but an air purifier rasps under the taxidermy trophy on the wall, a large mouth bass gaping for the second-hand thrill. Every camera in the house, 17 total, models a smoke waistcoat, Tommy’s fingerprints a mash note declaration of his dedication, a delicate blazon of tinkering, loneliness. His grandchildren grin beneath gritty yellow glass, and I wonder if picking Tommy apart could be as simple as three primary colors. The purifier might wheeze a song, a sympathetic rattle rhythm to Tommy’s woolly drawl, the smile spreading across his face like lukewarm syrup as his eyes trace the veins in my mother’s deft hands. They loved each other once, tangled up in argumentative sheets together. Only a nicotine friendship remains, and he fiddles with the insides of a camera, then pins me beneath the lens. I am less a moth than he is, my mother his lightbulb fizzled. He will die of lung cancer someday, and I hope it is not soon. In his absence, the shutters will not blink anymore.
They powwowed, all eight teenagers and their mothers and their fathers. A scrap of paper matched the whites of Ronnie’s eyes as he stared down past his scrubby brownish knees, positioned Indian-style in the Leonis’ den. The shag rug itched. “How many times have you smoked pot?” He had imagined a summer unfurling into Aerosmith and Mr. Swanbeck’s hay barn in the country, not that pussy Pat Mulligan squealing louder than an escaped balloon.
“How many times have you smoked pot?” The nubby golf pencil scraped against his palm as he considered the answers, a roulette wheel in his mind: Never. Once. A few times. I’m stoned right now. James Sr. seized my father by the back of his 1974 auburn mane and said, “Me and Ronnie’re gonna have a real party, folks.” In the basement in Warren, Michigan, the suburban house frozen into the dirt by January, then baked in by July, my father’s eyes remained drier than the Gobi, brown and sparking as I knew them at birth, through life. On stroke twenty-five of The Stick—a three-inch thick, two-feet long section of floor molding used for punishment—my father deployed two tears, to end the beating.
He lined the siblings up like dolls, oldest to youngest—Melinda, James Jr., Cheryl, Debbie, and they watched with unblinking mannequin gazes as grandpa brandished the clippers like a rapier. “This is what happens to drug users in my house. Aloise, shave his head.” Aloise F. cried like a good mother and he said, “Shave the hair off his goddamn head or I’ll rip it all out with my bare hands.” Grandpa James ruled Machiavellian. My father begged then, “Mom, please, shave my head.” And they watched as each hank of red-brown hair fell dead to the carpet, flies or feathers or leaves shed for that Yankee winter of soul-freezing cold. He wore a wool knit cap for an entire summer and fall, no matter the heat or the setting—the table, school, to sleep. The welts on his thighs allowed no sitting for two weeks. The welts and his naked head allowed no speaking to his father for three years.
Ron Regier swipes the safety razor over his skull tanned with generous sun and hunger in the outdoors, and I watch, uncomfortable for the first time at age ten that my father will be bald. He snorts at my wide eyes in the mirror, his russet beard and mustache the only evidence of his lopped mop. When he’s through, I rub his shiny scalp all a-wonder at the polished rock feel, and his head tips back, his jaw stretches wide like some wisdom I didn’t understand then, and he laughs long from the belly.
(To be cut into poem form and re-drafted at a later date.)
In the movement of your shoulders, nothing spectacular or marvelous, but hypnotic, quixotic, a heave, a push. Can I be the stain on your collar, can I be the soft in your skin clean-shaven. Uneven nails you pick at your jeans, a thread unravels a fuse from one end to the beltloop, all collapsing kaleidoscope. Hello, sweetness, I don’t wanna be your shoebox like Catherine Bowman, no, just your tongue, your tralala, your doe a deer. The day you breathed first I was learning the taste of dirt face-first nosedive in the mud. You inhaled, so did I. You screamed and through the grass I tasted centipedes, Autumn, the footprints of everything. Before you, a man with a mouth like a couch told me I was sexy and touched my knees. Not your shoebox, maybe your hat on your copper hair to sit jaunty in the cold, in the chilly trust of winter. I admire the shoebox. Possibly another box, though, a jukebox, hundreds of records of Simon & Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Allman Brothers, you know the type—the wailing mournful melancholy ones that sound like love in hard times. Days that stretch screaming and end in footrubs, in ottomans. All these days I own the struggle of your shoulders, the shapely shape of your calves, the pattern of freckles sprinkled on your arms, the curl of your eyebrows laughing at me.