Saturday, May 28, 2011

Luke Lagraff - And Beyond

And beyond a skyward eye
Little clouds are alive
Sweet mockingbirds strike a cord
Loud assumpions come on board

The deal of night is mixed with day
That light that's merry and on its way
A thought that might reveal the deal
Is there for me to see with zeal

Priceless life, once and for all
Has begun again to question its fall
The answer for my mind is kind
But revels around from bind to bind

The deal of night is mixed with day
I thought from birth it might go this way
But taking away the dead of life
Will score away the thread of strife

Luke LaGraff is a lover of sandwiches, egg nog, and one of a kind days. He used to forget them, but now has realized he shouldn't; they have more meaning than ever at this point of his life. He enjoys the sun in LA and watches hockey and funny things whenever he can. He listens to people. He's from Tennessee.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Katie McMahon - Five o'clock

I hate when someone says they know what you mean and then they go on and on about something you don't mean at all. Like they just felt like talking about whatever they were thinking and what you meant really means nothing to them. Or they spout sayings at you, like you're just going to soak that all up.

Everything from now on feels made up, do you know what I'm saying?

On the way home, I saw Jesus walking across the street and he was wearing pants. Khaki pants. He was carrying a cross too, but it didn't look heavy at all. He seemed to have no problem, just carrying it around with him everywhere, like it was a box of crayons or a newspaper just sitting lightly in his hands. And those pants. Fuck khaki pants, seriously. Khaki pants make everyone look miserable. At my first job, when I was sixteen, we had to wear khaki pants. Mine were baggy and always wrinkled up by the end of the day, like so wrinkly I'm surprised I wasn't fired. I worked as a cashier, ringing up groceries and clothes and televisions and whatever you put in front of me, but I was always just standing there, so I don't know what was happening that made them so wrinkly, but always by the end of the day I looked like I had been wadded up and sat on. Jesus looked pretty miserable too, as he carried that cross from street corner to corner, while some middle-aged black man skipped behind him shouting, "Jesus makes me feel like singing!"

This Jesus? Or Jesus Jesus? Was he talking about the same Jesus?

No person or person pretending to be a person makes me feel like singing today. I keep having this dream about this guy I met randomly last week, which is just so strange because I really like him a whole lot in the dream. We really get along. We listen to the same music and we laugh a lot. He cooked for me last night, can you believe that? I remember nothing about what he cooked, but it was awesome. He's so much fun, but not like crazy fun where he might take off his clothes in public or steal jewelry to prove how romantic he is; you have to meet him. In the dream, he makes me feel like singing or like doing something sweet, like singing to him or singing about him or singing him to sleep or singing in the shower, cracking the door open and hoping he's just dying out there, wishing he could see me singing naked in the shower. I like myself naked a lot better in dreams than in real life. He does too. It'll be awful if I see him again for real. I think he lives with his parents and he didn't even know who Don DeLillo was. Christ, that shouldn't be a prerequisite for me, should it? Anyway, if he knew who he was, he might hate him anyway. He might hate everything I love.

But in the dream he's pretty rad.

Anyway, I might hate everything I love too. That's where I'm at right now; looking at my things and thinking, "Who is this person living in this room?" I have six books just sitting there on the ground that I haven't even picked up, but I wanted them so badly. I wanted them to sit in my room so I could look at them and whisper to myself, "I love these books."

I think, quite possibly, I just want to get enough stuff so I can go through it all in two years and say, "Why did I save this?" That's what people say when they move, all types of people, and I want to be just like them. Because they go on to save things and save more things and throw some things away, and that's how people are. That's how I want to be. Just like a regular person.

Everyone in my building is always moving. I have never seen the same person twice. Okay, that is a lie, but really I have only seen a few people twice, everyone else only once or not at all.

There is a woman living in my building that likes to have sex at five o'clock in the morning. I have never seen her in real life, that I know of. She is extremely loud. Deafening. I am sure she is on drugs. I really thought she maybe was dying, until she started using real words in her screams. Five o'clock is both too early and too late to be screaming, "Fuck me!" out into the courtyard. Even when you're wearing earplugs and you've shut the window, anybody can hear "Fuck me!" echoing through the courtyard and into their ears.

I hate when people scream, "Jesus!" when they're having sex. I really do.

Five o'clock is too late and too early for almost everything... except when you're talking quietly and you don't have to work in the morning and your eyes are only halfway open and you're halfway looking at someone you love or at least think that you love. Five o'clock is too late and too early and too lonely to be awake by yourself.

Katie McMahon is a lady who lives in the North Hollywood area. She has a bachelor's degree that she keeps on her bookcase and looks at sometimes. She is getting a master's degree to put on her nightstand. Sometimes she takes pictures which you can look at here, but you don't have to if you're busy right now.

Barbi Beckett - Pilfering

My neighbor Karlia and I started drifting apart after we ran away together. When we were still occasionally hanging out, I busted her for stealing some sample vials of sweet scents that my grandma had given me – plus part of my lip gloss collection, Dr. Pepper and Sprite. I knew she was a thief. I’d thieved with her from K-Mart and Gibson’s (which would later become Walmart). We’d walk two miles in blistering heat just to be in the refrigerated air of a department store – running on the exposed stretches of sidewalk to piteous spots of shade. We didn’t have any money to spend in the store. All we had was what we’d dug up from the couch cushions, usually enough to buy one small coke at Diary Queen.

Karlia would steal earrings, candy, batteries – whatever. But I didn’t think she’d steal from me. When she’d first moved in to the rental across the street, I was smitten. She was so pretty with her long wavy light brown hair. And she could dance. She would tear up the shag to her Disco Duck record. In her room we’d admire the door length Shawn Cassidy poster and talk about the revolving sequence of her mom’s boyfriends. She’d brag to me about how much they liked her and we made like it was cool and dangerous that she attracted the attentions of these older men. But I sensed that it was sad and scary. We both knew it but we didn’t know how to say it or feel there was anything to be done about it. I always looked across the street at night to see if her bedroom light was on, thinking that some how meant she was alone and safe.

From the raised brick bench in front of her fireplace, we spent hours taking turns being Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb. We performed The Jazz Singer countless times, often when we should have been at school. Next to the Circle K near our house, we’d visit the barber and the old twin brothers who owned the dry cleaners. They’d give us nickels and dimes for performing back bends and front walk-overs because they were was bored as we were.

After we “escaped” our homes for an over-night in a strangers van and her little brother, who’d come with us, was sent away for good, we saw less and less of each other. I watched her transformation into a cholita, which was about the most contrived persona she could have adopted. She was as white as me but confidently donned the dark lipstick, baggy khakis and oversized plaid shirts (either buttoned up to the neck or left open to expose a tight wife beater) of her new sisters. She didn’t speak a lick of Spanish and her white skin with the new black hair and make up made her look like a spooky ghost chola.

During our middle school years we were bussed to institutions outside of our neighborhood. Karlia mostly went to the school for delinquent kids, which was a requirement for her club, but in ninth grade we both ended up at Magoffin. The school was seven miles from my house and one of the ineffective safety measures the administration took was to pat us down and confiscate any sharp or blunt objects, including pad locks, before we walked through the front gates. This didn’t keep my sweet friend Regina from getting the shit beat out of her by a gang of cholas after a basketball game one night. She was unpopular with that social sect due to her big boobs and flirtatious ways. (Reggie also enjoyed some shoplifting. She liked a store called Pic-n-Save. She’d pull a new pair of underwear out of her bag and say, “I picked and saved.”)

Reggie was expelled after she got beat up, for… getting beat up, I guess.

One evening when my dad and I had both come home we discovered that a box of Hershey’s chocolate bars that he kept in a kitchen cabinet was gone. And then we noticed that a tiny window within a larger set of windows in our living room was slightly open. I knew right away that it was Karlia. I also knew it wasn’t the first time she’d let herself into my house. I felt sick and furious. My dad went across the street to her house where her drunk mom came to the door and gazed through him.

I resolved to hurt Karlia. Physically. It wasn’t so much a decision as a need. The next morning at the bus stop, which was Mr. Hargrave’s driveway, I would beat on her. When I got to the bus stop she was already there. I absently said hi, as if nothing were wrong. I felt her guard go down; She was relieved that I didn’t know anything. I sat my bag down and said, “Hey, I want to show you something.” I reached into my leather jacket, heavy with Stray Cats buttons, pretending to retrieve a small object and when she got close enough, I swung to sock her in the face. A punch has never been so unsatisfying. Her guard hadn’t been all the way down and she leaned back from my fist, which only barely made contact with her cheek, and then she ran. I chased her, reaching for hair or anything I could grab to slow her down. I desperately needed to beat on her, but she was fast. And then the bus came. I went back to the stop, yelling at her not to move, and I got on. I was still catching my breath as the bus passed by her. All I had done was make her late for school.

So this is how it goes? One day you’re fourth graders working as a unit to carry your prickly-pear-wounded compadre through the desert without being spotted and a few years later you’re feeling violated and itching to crack a face bone.

As I recall, it wasn’t unusual for those early friendships to be that precarious. I wonder what changes. Maybe we learn that the only thing more difficult than being in relationship is not. We learn to be nicer to each other and yield. It’s too bad there were no big people around to guide Karlia and I through our conflicts. God knows we both could have a used a friend close by. We never spoke after I failed to beat her up and I never stopped looking to see if her light was still on before I went to bed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mike Gamms - Fear and Loathing on the 15 North

I wake up to the sound of the phone ringing but don't answer it. I figure if it's important enough, they'll keep calling until I'm ready to pick up. There is a wet ziplock bag on my face and I'm on the couch. Roger must have dumped me here sometime last night. Despite being soaking wet, at least he was thoughtful enough to ice this rapidly developing shiner.   
Honestly though, I don't mind having a black eye. As douchey as it sounds, it makes me feel cooler, tougher even. Besides I couldn't look any uglier. The scars from the bed bugs have only gotten worse, and my 5 o'clock shadow is now a full fledged beard. I light a cigarette and sit down on the shitter before finally answering the phone. It's Roger.   
"Get out of bed. We're going to Vegas, meet me at my office in an hour. Oh, and bring something nice to wear."  
Usually I'd tell him to fuck off, but I could use a Vegas trip. To most people Las Vegas is a fantasy world. It's a chance to escape into the seedy underworld of scumbags and degenerates for a weekend. For guys like us it's the only place we really feel at home.  We are a couple of booze soaked perverts and drug users, and in Nevada, this type of behavior is strongly encouraged.  
Personally I relate to the losers in Vegas. The desperate types who lost everything they have. Leave me alone at the penny slots at Circus Circus, sucking down whiskey and I feel right at home. Not Roger, he relates to the winners. He loves the glitz and glamour of Vegas. Playing one-hundred dollar hands of blackjack at the Wynn. That's more his style. That's what I love about Vegas. No matter what breed of shitbag you are, they have something for you.  
Obviously, I am immediately on board for the trip and start throwing some stuff together. Roger said to dress nice so I pull a ratty old suit coat from the dirty clothes. It's a size too small on me but it's the only thing I own that even half way resembles something nice. I stuff the rest of my shit into a plastic bag and head for the bus. I have to meet Roger at his office, and it takes close to an hour to get there on public transportation.   
When you ride the bus in LA you can really feel the division of classes in this shit hole of a city. In case I forgot my place in society, the Lexus blaring it's horn at the much slower bus serves as a cruel reminder of just how shitty my life is compared to those around me. I think that's why they have windows on the bus. So successful people can take a look at the face of the losers during their morning commute to the office. Like them, the bus is the only place I can encounter people worse off than me. On this particular ride, I over hear a conversation between two young homeless guys.  
"Yeah, it happened last week. It really sucks." 
"Don't worry, I remember the first time I had my gear stolen too."  
Something about this conversation really strikes me.  The way he says it, the FIRST time I had my gear stolen. it's like its some sort of rite of passage that they all have to go through.  As if after the first time, you become completely accepting of having nothing and no one. Maybe it's the way he responds to this with such normalcy that really stands out to me. Or maybe it's because I know I'm not too far away from being one of them. One bad break, one arrest and I could be sleeping on the street next to them. I decide it's best not to think about it, just ignore it. That's how the rest of society deals with all the horrible misfortunes all around them, I might as well too.  
I finally arrive at Roger's office, and he's waiting for me in the parking lot. There's nothing like seeing a man in suit drinking a 40 while leaning against a Mercedes. I'm still 20 yards from him when he starts barking at me.  
"Let's go asshole! We still gotta stop by the meat market and pick up some pussy!"  
All class. At first, the thought of spending a four hour car ride with two women is enough to make me wish I was deaf. But the more I think about it, the better of an idea it becomes. The hardest part of getting laid while out of town is finding the girls, so if we bring them with us, we're half way there already.  
We pull up to a place called "The Klassy Kat". Two girls with cheetah print suitcases are waiting outside the club. They both look like they just got done with a shift and I can't tell if their suitcases are filled with different outfits for their dance routines or clothes for the trip, but I'm sure there isn't much of a difference anyways. One girl has bigger breasts, and is clearly the alpha female in their friendship. Obviously, she gets first dibs on the man with the car. That leaves me in the backseat with girl number two.  
I don't mind this one bit. She is a solid 9, and if I don't screw this up, she'll be one of the better looking broads I've ever been able to score.  And besides, I usually try to avoid the alpha females anyways. They are way too confident and are usually only attracted to their alpha male counterparts, so it's not worth the effort for a man as low on the food chain as me. I'd rather go for second fiddle. They are way more vulnerable and easy to get into their panties when you don't own a Mercedes.  
I notice she brought "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for the ride and compliment her taste. I'm sure she just bought it because she thought Johnny Depp was hot in the movie, but just the fact that a girl knows how to read is a plus in my book. Roger, eager to get me laid, immediately introduces me.  
"This is Chuck, he's a writer too! People say he's the next Hunter S. Thompson!"  
I think about correcting him by saying my writing is more like Charles Bukowski, but that would make me an even bigger douchebag. Just because I'm a fucking loser doesn't make me Charles Bukowski. It just makes me another prick who is discontent with his slightly below average existence. I just let it go and decided to play nice, that way I wont end up sleeping alone on the floor of our hotel room tonight.  
"Nice to meet you Chuck.  I'm Jackie Daniels."  
I think about asking her what her real name is. Maybe it will be as cool as when he asks for her real name in "Almost Famous," but I decide it'd be better to offer her a swig of the jug of wine I brought for the trip instead.  
After about 2 hours on the road, and half the jug, I've got Jackie mostly figured out. She's a much more complex creature than I initially thought. I can tell at this point in her fucked up life she's had so many men treat her like a sex object, like her looks are all she's got going for her that she actually believes it herself. She cusses, talks dirty, and acts like an all around maneater, but I can tell it's just a front. She exudes this fake confidence in herself to hide the real Jackie inside of her. She's really just a broken, damaged girl who's been treated like shit by everyone. She needs to learn to love herself before she can let anyone really love her. I know this, because I'm pretty much the same way. That's what attracts me to her. That I can see myself in her. And not just in her vagina. This just may turn out to be the best Vegas trip yet.
Mike Gamms is a 24-year-old unemployed writer living in Los Angeles. Originally from Upstate New York, he occasionally writes awful things at

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Emily Idzior - Untitled

Dear ________, Is it too late?

Is it too late to tell you how much I loved holding your hand? Too late to say how courageous I felt, the two of us, getting coffee, eating food. Late like a period maybe in a sentence. Too late to say you were my favorite scar for-- how long -- still, to this day? I touched your hair. Too late though, you wanted someone else. Or, simply, didn’t want me. I wore your rejection around like hair dye. You were my cherry berry red highlight. I gave you so much that when you weren’t there anymore I had to choose a different way. A more lighted path.

Is it too late to say how much I miss you? Too late to read you that poem just one more time? Laying across your lap. Was it too late then? You kept the book which I think is weird. I would have done the same.

Is it too late to apologize for the manic phone calls? I called and called and hoped you’d call me back. Invite me up. I walked by your apartment insane. Tired. Listening to music you shared with me. Hoped you’d dedicate something to me. Little old me. Little old ugly me. Was it too much to ask that you follow through with your little, drunk, typed letters? I think it was.Is it too late to submit this poem? I wrote it just yesterday. Could it make it in? Can you validate my life’s work? Deadline seems more like a suggestion but it’s not. It’s a dead line that will not get a funeral. Only other dead words. Is it too late to even try? I wait and wait for every deadline to pass, hoping I won’t have to experience rejection ever ever ever again. But I do. I still do.

Is it too late to apologize for that fight?

Is it too late to apologize for every fight?

You’re not dead but some part of us is.

Is it too late to go back to the way things were? Hugging. Two bodies together, innocent. Easy. Admiration without feelings. Laughter but not flirting. You’re far away in that other city. I’m married now, which I like. I like that I’m the one who made a decision. I like that you make decisions, too. I still check in, when I can, but, isn’t too late, isn’t it too late, it is too late to go back to where we were. I’m glad. I think I like you better this way.

Emily Idzior is an aspiring poet and librarian who has to shush people poetically. She has a MA in salad making and wishes she loved tea without sugar but, alas, has a sweet tooth. She cannot quit waffles or coffee and writes in her personal blog once a year.
Also she has a cat.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Debra Crosslin - Is it too late?

Is it too late to rewind the movie? The movie of me because I am the star, the main character. The star that is shining, bright and beautiful. Is it too late?

I shoulda made a better choice. I shoulda learned to play the game. I shoulda done so many things. I shoulda played an instrument, learned to act, to sing, to dance with ease. I shoulda been a better friend, a better wife, a better mother, a better lover, so many things. I shoulda learned to run like lighting, to win the race, to drive a NASCAR, to surf the oceans many waves, to climb a mountain with powerful legs.

I coulda loved and cherished my life. To honor God, my kin, the light. I coulda been the better one, to understand, to listen, to believe and not to fear, not to cry, to trust and never lie. I coulda been more sensitive, to understand and not to judge. I coulda changed the world , to be positive , not give bad advice. I coulda spoke before I talked, more carefully with foresight and thought. I coulda loved you in a loving way, I coulda loved myself with care. I coulda did my best you see and not give into negativity.

I woulda been a professional. I woulda been who I am inside. I woulda been a sumo wrestler, a lawyer, a doctor, a movie star. I woulda worked with paint, with wood, with fabric, with sugar and spices, with dirt; a chef, a gardener, a carpenter, a fashion designer, a computer whiz. Or I woulda been the boss in charge and gave the orders to my staff. I woulda been the president, a healer, a yogi, the wise and powerful Oz. I woulda been just who I am and not a fake, so lame, unreal. My father said, "Time heals all wounds." Maybe, but you carry those wounds forever and remember.

I think it is to late for me, but not for you to learn from life. You do not have to cruise from birth to death. Bend the rules, change the game, fight for your right for all living things. Continue on because in my heart I cannot change the past, I cannot foretell the future. I can only live in the present and not regret the love and happiness I tried to give. May you think of the good you've done because the past will never return. Is it too late? Not for you, maybe for me; to follow your dreams, for your heart and soul to shine. In your heart there lays your soul. Do not live in misery.

Remember to follow and listen to your heart and never give up, follow your dreams. You are perfect who you are. You are love. Do not believe in anyone or anything? It is just not true. Love and live to learn to accept yourself exactly what you are. Maybe it is not too late.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Caroline Muniak - List of Chores

Nobody likes to think of their list of chores. I know I sure don't. Unless I get them done, UNLESS, then they are a sure fire sign, staring me in the face (when I actually look at it) that I am still a fuck up, still a child, and still going to get in trouble for not doing them. Of course, these days the trouble is no longer getting spanked or grounded for weeks at a time, it's just still needing to do them and it getting worse and worse. And then for some reason I sort of self-ground myself. But fuck it...

- brush teeth
- wash face
- go to therapy
- go to school & straighten that shit out
- eat somewhere in there
- doing my morning pages somewhere in there- go to the gym
- clean the dishes
- go to the gym
- clean myself
- sew a pillow, at least start
- eat... again...
- make brownies for tomorrow
- go to a meeting
- not hang out...
- GO TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR because I don't want to feel like killing anyone tomorrow.

Fuck me... It's possible the pillow and the dishes don't get done, but that's probably because I want to do those more than any of the others, except the baking... can't wait to do that. Who wants to lick the spoon?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Luke Lagraff - Flesh Poem

I got flesh to live!
I got it to spend.
I got till the end.

I wanna ruin my body, wanna shove it into the dirt, I'll give another moment to death
A pale daydream, me looking at me, awake but not quite alive
A sad eye, half of it available, the other oozing liquid flesh

Got a chance to see tomorrow
If this flesh can stand
It might have been all spent

The town of my actions
Has divorced my floor
Nowhere to be, no body is me

Luke LaGraff is a lover of sandwiches, egg nog, and one of a kind days. He used to forget them, but now has realized he shouldn't; they have more meaning than ever at this point of his life. He enjoys the sun in LA and watches hockey and funny things whenever he can. He listens to people. He's from Tennessee.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Katie McMahon - anyway

every time I buy a bag of those blue tortilla chips that I like, half of the bag sits out on the counter, stale.

I want to be with you so you'll eat the other half.

I know you don't really like those chips, so maybe we could buy something that we both like.

or you could eat them anyway, and next time we could share something that I don't really like.

and when it's your birthday, even though I kind of hate it, I'll eat chocolate cake anyway,

like on Tuesday, when you were full, but you ate dinner with me.

but right now, there's not enough for both of us.

maybe when we make more money?

Katie McMahon is a lady who lives in the North Hollywood area. She has a bachelor's degree that she keeps on her bookcase and looks at sometimes. She is getting a master's degree to put on her nightstand. Sometimes she takes pictures which you can look at here, but you don't have to if you're busy right now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Anonymous - Untitled

I hate when people use Untitled for a title. I also hate titles, no more so labels. I'm also a hypocrite. Nearly three years ago something so catastrophic sat on my chest like a gremlin and tinkered around with my ticker. It was over, but there was a difference this time. It was over but I was not over. It was the first break-up that had hurt so badly but I persevered into a better person. I did some of the usual things. I built up walls around myself and just threw myself into tons of projects. For six months straight nothing outside of a grieving exchange of a kiss in the postmortem of a dearly departed broke down these walls. No contact. No dates. Just me. I was falling in love with me and swearing away all relationships. Screw labels. Screw relationship statuses. Screw Looking for. Screw a/s/l! (I applaud you if you can recall that reference) None of that was happening until this quiet fellow love-lorn companion came into my life and gave me an amazing, rewarding and positively challenging two and a half years.

Chapter 2
Breaking Up

I hate chapters with titles.
So now we're trying out this whole still living together and slowly breaking up into a friendship thing. What? I know, right? Who does this and mutually? I hoped we could. What's yours is becoming yours and what's mine is becoming mine. Why is this happening now? It's like trying to remove paint out of a sink. How do you separate this? I claim the cool glass stained wine glasses we got as a going away gift. Wine glasses are already in the soon to be non-counterpart's possession. Now I have some, too. What do you still hold onto to maintain that friendship. What do you let go of? This is how I've been dealing. I found out tonight how the other one has been dealing. The dangers of social dating apps. The danger of still living with your respectively ex-boyfriend. The danger of tapping into my pre-Christmas gift searching adolescent years. I tapped into that portion of the brain. The danger of leaving your iTouch behind when going out. Ignorance is bliss and I'm the dead cat. No bliss here. I hate titles. But I loved ours. Now it's gone. Well, at least I can say I still have what is mine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Luke Lagraff - So This is Yours

This is yours, a dirty plate, a rotten steak
This, too, is yours- 854-322-9957.
I want nothing but the plate.

But, alas, I can't clean like you. I'm dirty.
Just reallly dirty. I can't clean. I can, but
only myself, up. Oh, also
when it rains.
(Can you make it rain)
You can't?!
Well get out then!

Please leave the bucket. I need that list.
To remind me of you.

You were what I loved. Excuse me, who, I loved.

Now what to do with today. You've left. But, I'm right.
Yeah, I tell you I'm right but you, you don't listen.
Cause you're gone

I left it all on the relationship: The sweat, the time, the way I tried my best.
The, the game was, never timed. As I hear, if it's correctly timed, there is no time- it's untime!

So this is yours. A few words, it's all that's free to me. I hope you can be, yourself without me. And I hope I can continue, myself without you.
Love you

ps. don't forget to call, here's my number 423 544 2332

Luke LaGraff is a lover of sandwiches, egg nog, and one of a kind days. He used to forget them, but now has realized he shouldn't; they have more meaning than ever at this point of his life. He enjoys the sun in LA and watches hockey and funny things whenever he can. He listens to people. He's from Tennessee.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Katie McMahon - Awake

People are saying things that I can’t decipher. I have my headphones on and I keep thinking that the guy across the room is saying, “hot dogs,” when really he says, “hot sauce,” as he slams a bottle of Tabasco on the table.

Everyone is talking and talking and smiling with wide-eyes and laughing like everything is so funny.

“I can’t believe how big your salad is!”

“I can’t believe I’m eating this cookie!”

Ten people are writing screenplays. One guy is just telling a woman that he’s writing a screenplay, but he’s not actually writing it. He doesn’t know that she wouldn’t care either way.

And the red bus drives by and the sun reflects off the bus, making everything inside red and rosy. The walls are red. The chalkboard menu is red. That lady's salad is red and the tomatoes are still red too (the Tabasco from the hot dog guy is still red, maybe just redder now). Everything red. People’s faces are red. People's hands are red. Then it drives away, but his shirt is still red and your eyes are bloodshot from overexposure to the red, red, red bus.

I wonder how much coffee I can drink. I should really know by now that drinking coffee leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The best part of my day today was this chocolate chip muffin I ate. The top was all crunchy and sugary and I could taste the butter in every buttery bite. There was this boy sitting across from me outside wearing this weird hat and I kept wondering, “Why does he wear that hat? Really, why?” It was big with a flat all-around brim. All around his head there was a brim and then more brim. And he drinks water and Pepsi and even though the brim is so wide, he gets sun in his eyes as he tries to fit his straw between the clumps of ice. It sits in the cup, poking out awkwardly through the plastic lid. He looks around to see who’s watching and it’s me. So he goes away.

He walks away with that cup, but I can still see it in my head. I think about you and how you do not use straws. And then I think about you and how I always wake up first before you, and you smile with your eyes closed, pretending that you’re sleeping. I like that. The look on your face while you pretend to sleep is my second favorite look for you. I like how your hair falls when you sleep. It falls the opposite way from how it falls during the day when you’re awake. I like how you never wear glasses to bed because no one wears glasses to bed unless they’re drunk or so tired or sleeping on an airplane sitting up. They only accidentally fell asleep. You're sleeping on purpose. Fake sleeping.

I like it so much that you pretend to be sleeping because I can pretend that I’m awake, when really I’m sleeping right next to you.

I used to like listening to you talk. Very much.

But now sometimes I ask you questions, like, “Why did you leave me out here?” And you pretend like you don’t hear me or that I’m just talking to myself. What are you doing in there without me anyway? Maybe you are right.

Before, I used to take bites of you and pieces of your voice with me inside my head. I liked that very much.

The chocolate chips on the muffin form a chocolate chip mouth that laughs at me. Eat us and we’ll make you fat. It’s December and I want to be soft and fat, even though no one will love me when I’m fat. Right now I don’t want to be a lover and it feels nice to not be thought of or heard. Sometimes I think my phone is not working because no one is calling me, but nope; it is working just fine.

Sometimes I like to take baths at night and eat ice cream in the bath. The water warms me on the outside and a little in the middle, and the ice cream makes my insides cold. My teeth hard and shivering, feeling like they might fall out of my head, like cartoon teeth, onto the snowy ground, where kids can pick up the icy teeth and use them as bricks to make igloos.

Sometimes I don’t feel this way at all. I don’t want to eat ice cream in the bath or eat chocolate chips. I don’t even think about things like that at all. If I am not the person who thinks those thoughts or wants those things, why do I keep her thoughts? Why does that person stay with me?

Sometimes I think things that I would never think. When I cross the street, I talk quietly to any cars in my head, “Please do not hit me. Please do not smush me and make my bones crack into many pieces.” If I get hit by a car, I will be very angry for a minute before I die. I will be angry at that car that crushes me and angry at me for not being fast enough.

Someday, when I am crushed and dead, it will not matter how many things I ate or who I was pretending to sleep with. And we will be strangers and you will show up early in the morning to sit out in the cold with me again. Someday, you will stop looking at me like I'm someone I'm not.

Katie McMahon is a lady who lives in the North Hollywood area. She has a bachelor's degree that she keeps on her bookcase and looks at sometimes. She is getting a master's degree to put on her nightstand. Sometimes she takes pictures which you can look at here, but you don't have to if you're busy right now.

Coco Higgins - The Self-Indulgent Whines of a Total Weenie

April 29, 2011

Tonight I was at my usual coffee shop haunt with a stack of 75 undergrad papers to grade. A friend and fellow grad student shared my table. She pointed out that one of her students was sitting on one of the couches, and unfortunately this student may possibly be dumber than a box of hair. She wasn’t in my view so I stood up and performed the most obvious ruse to disguise my true intentions of having a look at this supposed dunce: I pretended to stretch. Upon doing so, I looked over and I saw a super cute girl.

Sure, she was looking slouchy in some weird sweatpants. This reminded me of George Costanza from Seinfeld. Did she give up on life and the world? Who wears sweatpants in public? Okay, they weren’t thick cotton drawstring sweatpants. They were black, of a thin fabric. But still – these aren’t pants that one would normally wear in public.

But she had short brown hair and a pouty face kind of like Kristen Stewart. Yes, go ahead, judge and psychoanalyze me all you want, but I like that angsty look. And of course it belonged on this girl. She’s an undergrad and probably at least eight years younger than me. (Good god, I feel old.) So despite the pants, I became a little smitten. Not twitterpated or anything, but you know, enough to get distracted from the monotony of grading endless papers about Egyptian sculpture. (“This sculpture was made by a human,” wrote one student. My comment: “as opposed to aliens???” True story. Okay, if you were an art historian you might haughtily say, “Maybe she meant that it was an acheiropoietos,” but I highly doubt that she even knows what that is, and this line of thinking should be saved for my term paper, and not this blog.)

The night went on and I continued to read the thoughtless, never-ending essays. The kid came over to our table to talk to my friend to ask something about the upcoming test for their class. They talked a bit, and my friend (god bless her heart), introduced me to Kristen Stewart. We shook hands, I smiled. Then she left.

As a side note, this is the same gregarious friend who, after the Lady Gaga concert, kept asking strangers, “Hey do you know any lesbians???” She was drunk and did this for me, to my embarrassment (not really). The point is, she looks out for me, in amusing ways, and I appreciate it.

Anyway, Kristen went back to the couch and I continued to grade my papers.

Then another girl came into the crowded coffee shop and got in line to order. (Not even gonna go into detail about the hot barista.) She was probably about fifteen feet away from me. Short girl, short brown hair. Totally adorbs. She sat outside, and eventually my friend and I went out there to smoke. We had eye contact for half a second and that’s about it.

Friend and I went back inside and continued to work. Eventually both girls left. Nothing happened. Outside-girl was probably straight, so I’m not feeling any sense of loss. But the other girl was slightly more promising.

What prevented me from going up to her and talking to her more? I constructed the following reasons, which ultimately paralyzed me:
  1. I haven’t done laundry in 5 trillion years and I don’t like the clothes I’m wearing.
  2. I’m a grad student and she’s an undergrad, and we were explicitly forbidden to have friendly interactions with these plebeians.
  3. She’s apparently not the brightest crayon in the box.
  4. I’m a weenie.

Let’s think about these again and why they’re irrelevant:

  1. Who cares? My hair is still cute. She was wearing sweatpants for Chrissakes, so what if I’m wearing a ratty old shrunken flannel shirt and hole-y jeans?
  2. Who cares? Not like I’m the one grading her (less-then-stellar) papers and tests. Besides, the department doesn’t need to know, right?
  3. Who cares? I’m not looking for a life partner, just some fun.

So really it all boils down to this:

I’m a weenie.

I’ve lost all sense of game, if I ever had any to begin with. IF I ever approach girls, I’m usually drunk. Or it’s a gradual process that involves introduction by mutual friends. In a shared social situation, I can be funny and endearing. But as a first approach, I absolutely fail.

What the hell happened? I got out of my long-term relationship two years ago. I haven’t dated anyone the whole time I’ve been in grad school, and that’s approaching the one-year mark. My excuse is that academic life precludes me from having a social life outside my small circle of colleagues in the department. And I have very little time to devote to such endeavors because I’m too busy researching, reading, writing and grading student exams and essays.

But the truth is: I have all kinds of time to sit on my ass and watch tennis matches and follow all kinds of useless information on the internet. Okay, most of all this is done in the wee hours of the night/morning, so being an inverted creature forces the misanthropic behavior. But hey, Kristen Stewart likes vampires right? And I’m a vampire dandy!

But if I have all that time to do useless things, why can’t I get off my ass and do laundry, go to lesbian bars and hit on girls and get laid? This is really quite pathetic.

One of my friends has managed to date a few guys and is now in somewhat of a serious relationship. Granted, she went and looked for it, and clearly wants one. But if she can make time for it, why can’t I? I’ve been telling myself that I don’t want to be in a relationship, yet I am now beginning to question that line of reasoning.

I certainly don’t want a suffocating 24/7 relationship like the last one I had. Yes, true. But not all relationships are like that. I can casually date, or find a better relationship, a better person. But then I tell myself that I can barely take care of myself and my cat, and I’m too used to being single – set in my ways of being a slob who doesn’t do the dishes or vacuum, keeping erratic sleeping patterns revolving around class times and tennis matches, and engaging in pointless internet behavior.

No I wasn’t always like this. When I was in my last relationship, I was completely domesticated. Kept a job during normal business hours, ate healthier, made enough money to hire a maid, and stayed away from the internet. I seriously only discovered Facebook and YouTube in 2007, I think. But then while that all seems like a healthy lifestyle, I felt like a caged animal.

But is my life that much better now? I get to do what I want, certainly, and that makes me happy. But shouldn’t I want something more? The truth is, I enjoy being a nocturnal slob who trolls around the internets, lives in the land of art historical theoretica, drinks and smokes with friends and watches sports. Is that so wrong?

You want to know the ironic part of all of this coffee shop missed connection shit? The barista (not the hot girl) dude has become pretty friendly with me. He gives me free pastries in the middle of the night when there aren’t too many customers around. He also got my friend a shot of whiskey when I told him it was said friend’s birthday. One night I even got him to play the Xanadu song in the coffee shop. He’s been kind of flirty with me and went so far as to say “this better be worth my while,” before playing the dumb song. He’s also called me “so darned cute” and engaged in really childish flirting by consciously and openly trying to annoy me. I don’t think he knows I’m a lesbian. (Moral question: should I tell him, or just continue getting free pastries? Is that a soft-core form of prostitution???)

What the hell, MAN!!!!!!

I really need to get out more.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shannon McIntyre - Again

I should have known. Really, what else could I possibly have expected?

“Expect people to be who they are,” my mother told me. She’d told me at least a thousand times.

And still…

I stare blankly at the note on the table. I want to be angry. I want to
  • tear it
  • shred it
  • set it on fire
– at least throw it away. But I can’t feel angry. I can’t feel anything.

I’m stuck. Frozen. Staring at those words.


My mind lurches back two months to the last time he’d said them.


“I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”

I’d had the same frozen feeling then. Like a horrible re-run.

“What? Why? What do you mean?” I fumbled for my glasses on the nightstand, squinting at the blurry hands already buckling his belt. “Are you leaving right now?”

“It’s better if I do.”

“Not for me.” I pushed my glasses up my nose and studied his face.

Blank. Nothing. Complete system shutdown.


He looked away, mechanically gathering his bits and pieces into his pockets.
  • wallet, back right
  • keys, front right
  • loose change, front left
  • gum –
He gestured toward me with the pack. “Gum?”

“Stop. Talk to me. What’s going on?”

“I made a mistake.” He bent to tie his shoes.

“Two days ago you said breaking up with me was a mistake. You said – “

“I know. I’m sorry. I hafta go.”

As he started for the door, I grabbed his hand. His big, beautiful hand. So many memories in those five fingers:
  • lighting my cigarette as he introduced himself
  • cupping my breast as he fell asleep
  • wiping tears from my face the night my mother died
  • sneaking under my skirt on the long drive to his sister’s house
  • waving goodbye to me five months before
I remembered that wave, long and slow, fingers spread. Casual.


The casualness of that wave – it was so incongruous. Nothing in that moment had fit together at all –
  • the casual wave
  • his blank eyes
  • my tears
– these were scraps of separate moments, not a single event. I had felt so surely that moment was wrong, didn’t fit, wasn’t supposed to happen.


That moment hadn’t fit. Nothing had fit since. Nothing until he showed up, five months later, and that hand held mine. Tears opened his dark eyes and I glimpsed once again the glorious depths of his soul as he said “I made a mistake.”

And last night, in my bed, when that hand cupped my breast, everything fit.

  • our bodies
  • our hearts
  • our souls
My eyes dragged up from his hand to those blank eyes. I felt a chill where his soul no longer pressed against mine. A squeezing in my heart as it struggled to pump alone. He had left me already.


I dropped his hand, laid back in bed and rolled over.

Staring at the wall I heard
  • footsteps
  • door opening
  • door closing
As tears soaked my pillow, I wondered if he waved.


I pick the note up and stick it to the fridge with the magnet that reads “Boys are Stupid”.

I should’ve known. I won’t forget.

Not again.