--IN THE FUTURE I WILL NOT DISAPPOINT YOU
Here’s what she says, my mother says, “Get over it. People are replaceable.”
Chance is a card in Monopoly. It’s a probability. Once it was even a boy.
“Don’t give me that attitude,” she says. “Go ask your sister.”
My mother wears a plastic, pastiche, diamond bezel watch that looks dusted with pie crust flakes. The second hand sweeps. It’s fake like her hair. Her teeth. The moons rising and falling beneath her sheer, see-through blouse.
My stepfather is passed out on the lawn. He was sober once last year. He’ll be a sunburned old bastard tomorrow. For dinner he spits sunflower seeds onto other piles of shredded sunflower seeds beneath his chair. I always think it’s his teeth he’s spitting out. He has a tattoo of Satan on his shoulder from his navy days. You should see the left hook he throws.
Everything we own is out there for sale. Amy says we should blow up pages of our diaries and sell those, too. I tell her I don’t have one, a diary, and she says, “Sure you do. Don’t be such a stupid asshole,” and punches my chest so hard I cough.
Someone pounds on the screen door. It’s an Asian lady in a red outfit that looks as if it was just painted. Her hat has a flippy thing, like on a graduation hat, a tassel that swivels around her bowl cut hair do. Her teeth are long and smoky and sharp. I squeal. I think: Jason from Friday the 13th only Asian and female.
I give her everything she wants for whatever price she’ll pay. “Here,” I say, stacking a barbeque atop her load, “Take this too. Gift with purchase.”
At dusk a car full of gangbangers pulls up. I dare them to shoot me. I beg them to bludgeon me. “Shoot me, motherfuckers!” They laugh. They don’t even bother getting out of the car which is bouncing, exhaling and inhaling, taking a bong hit, breathing and hiccupping bass notes so low they’re under the buckled pavement. When I scream, “People are replaceable!” they drive off terrified, no different than if a police siren had sounded.
My brother was there one day and not the next. Who decides these things? I suppose you’d say God or fate or no one, but that’s not a satisfactory answer.
I saw him kiss a girl once back by the tether ball pole. She had kinky blonde hair and her hands looked like they were holding batons as she reached up and gave her lips away. Afterward, he whispered something in her ear and she ran off.
I never asked him and I wished I had. Of course I wish that now.
The winds came later, clever and full-throated. Detritus, twigs and wilted flowers, insect husks and lies: I watched all of it swirl. I opened my mouth and swallowed the gritty air. I laid down on the ground and let it roll over me.
I Like You
I am not a stalker, but I like you.
Your choices are often odd but seldom wrong. If there’s soup in summer, you’ll have it, slurping like a porpoise with that trilling giggle of yours.
You have a list of eight things you can never have too much of. Seven of them make me quiver.
You do not like animals other than stuffed ones, yet you pretend when your cousin, Pete, brings by his lab.
You are strong yet lithe and unmuscled. I have posters of women with your shape of legs and the same small hands, though not one of the models can match you whole.
Your eyes are ceramic blue.
I have made many attempts, some quite despicable. Sometimes I hold my breath.
A climax can be gory or glorious, both bliss and release, but it’s not pity I want, or even forgiveness.
You should know that you are a permanent stain, a scar, a sickle cell, a long-worn smoke smell on my skin which soap cannot conquer or rid.
This is not enough but it’ll have to do. I watch you from a safe perch, knowing where you are and what you’re doing, full of joy and promise in a life where I have left one foot in, and one foot out, of the picture.