you're alone smoking a cigarette and you look so sad, that's all.
i just wanted to know why. christ you're lovely. god damn. it sounds crazy, i know.i can take care of you. i make money. lots of money.
he laughs loud, loud like a lion would laugh.
are you happy? god you're so beautiful. who are you?
how am i supposed to live the rest of my life now, after i've seen a thing like you? what do you want? anything. look at you. anything, i'll give it to you.
he moved a lot, backward and forward, manically on the plushy cushioned chair. a lion would never do this. i sat near him on the bench of a piano in the lobby. he tried & tried to get me to sit in the more comfortable chair before he went to his room to get us beers but i didn't want the comfortable chair. i pressed the piano keys slowly one at a time while he was gone. he came back with two warm coors lights. i'm usually of the opinion that coors light tastes just like cat piss but i'll tell you, that one went down like water.
'i can't believe you're still sitting here'
in between his sentences i'd press a piano key down until it's note was finished. you have no idea what this does to a room. it was so fucking perfect in that lobby in my life, it hurt my feelings. he didn't mention the single notes i kept playing, ringing dark and singular in their place, in the midst of our conversation.
i liked him for this.
his friend came down with whiskey in some paper cups and i laughed, 'what do you think you're doing?' i asked him as i took the cup.
'i have no idea but i'm trying to make it last as long as i can.'
'this doesn't look right,' i said. i pressed another key.
it's note vibrated. 'to who?!'
there's something outstanding about the way the keys of a piano resist slightly at first and then give in completely. it is definitely something.
'pianos,' i said.
'yes. well if there was an audience here
they'd applaud you just because. do you love him?'
'i do', i said. i do. the lion laughed.
'by the way', between chuckles, 'i'm brian - this asshole here is jake.' jake tipped his hat. the irony of all of this was making the room too hot and no one was there to see it but me. sometimes ironies get so big they can make even love look small. i pressed a key. a very low one. no one should know this much. not like this. not ever.
the lion looked at his hands. 'god damn, if you were mine' he shook his head,
'you wouldn't be here. you'd never look that lonely.'
'i'm sure it wouldn't be the picnic you're imagining.'
'oh but it would. like, see just your face is the picnic, fuck.'
'i'm difficult' i told the lion.
'how? what's wrong?' he said.
jake coughed and excused himself and i didn't care. the lion moved in closer.'i'm sick.' i said and his face got light like recognition, like in dreams. he nodded and said 'me too. is it your blood?' this four-word question was so beautiful and strange and he asked it so solemnly it resounded. it's not exactly the way most people would respond. it sounded like my brain shaking. the room moved, shuttered. a hotel employee walked by, interrupting the cloud of everything. 'who takes care of you?'
i don't say anything.
'when where you born? where are you from?'
i couldn't remember anything from before or anything from right then, for that matter. or maybe just the idea of telling that 'it's a long story' story felt impossible to tell. there comes a point in every persons life where how could it ever not be a long story anymore? why did mine matter to this lion? to anyone?
i should start lying, maybe.
the sound of each long piano key i pressed felt just like the inside of my heart outside, everyday. it was tailored for every moment i saw or sat in or overheard, it suited everything, it fit everything inside it.
i answered all his questions with questions. i strung all his stories carefully out of him without even really trying. they were good stories. they were. if he was the lion what was i? 'where do you want to go?' he asked me.
'what are you gonna carry me there?'
i just wanted to be inside the piano.
he looked at me.
you came in then and the room swapped places with some other room from some other warped dimension. the three of us had a cigarette outside. when we parted you walked ahead first. the lion whispered to me and gestured towards himself, 'come back' he said, 'come here. i'll take you anywhere, i promise.'
he whispered it right there with you right in front of me. i smiled and waved and followed your back inside. neither of us said a word in the elevator. i already missed the piano.
i was leaning against a brick wall outside in some small, shy rays of the sun writing in a little black notebook. the sun and i hadn't seen one another in awhile so we were both cordial and semi-kind, whatever we had the energy to be. occasionally i'd light a cigarette and then forget it was between my fingers. i sat on the cement because it felt and smelled just like the city, i didn't think much of it, i couldn't think much of anything, but within five minutes, three separate people walked by and asked if i was 'okay' or if i had 'someplace to stay,' so i guess it was a peculiar thing to do, in a place like this. an older guy in scuffed up construction boots watched me from his chevy for a few minutes before approaching me. "you lost, little girl?" his face was stoic and straight. i wanted to say yes, i was, actually but i knew he'd never get it the way i meant it so i just laughed and mumbled something random that implied no, technically i was not lost.
i put my sunglasses on even though the sun was getting tired and i wrote a little contract for myself in dark ink. it articulated my official refusal to ever write anything at all that might be considered necessary or important. from now on its just whatever the god damn doctor ordered. i promised to quit documenting dates and all those times of night. if you know me, and probably you don't - i can't even count anyone that might on one hand - then you don't need to hear what time it is. you know what time it is. you already know. the sun went down without even inviting me. i don't recognize any of the random wanderers in this hotel parking lot, even the the "oh you agains." 'oh - its you again', they say but i can't remember them at all. i can't keep track of these odd, gritty construction workers that start intimate out-of place conversations with me in the parking lot. their faces are one single face, like a stranger in a dream. almost everyone else around here just tend to look at me sorta funny, they eyeball me like i have stolen something of theirs they've been missing forever. if you're really wondering where i am exactly just picture all the buildings in clumps of four or five beside a giant frantic four-lane highway, all of them the exact same size and the exact same color. like a more dulled version of the color of sand. i close my eyes often. i imagine the buildings lined up side-by-side ranging from short and fat to tall and skinny, each one a different color, sometimes way more than just one. i imagine people learning. lots of people learning fast, different things all in the same place and at the same time.
i keep thinking about the pavilions movie theaters seats. that pavilion theater was like a home, i watched god create it. on the seventh day he rested. the seats were directly out of a little kids daydream, purple velvet and tall, the bottom with a little bounce and a big softness to the reaching-hugging arms. the walls were all curtained with a matching purple velvet. not the fake curtain-kind like the corporate movie theaters, inside shopping malls but the real kind from old film houses. that perfect park was right across the street, like the theaters own huge backyard, the cafe inside had big long windows that showed it off. everything changes. i had my first real and slightly scandalous 'make out session' in theater #3 of the pavilion, during a kids movie. we had 40oz's in our purses. i remember my surprise at the distinct cigarette taste of his mouth from the newport menthols he favored. i had never kissed a smoker. when he left my friends were grinning with me, really big, like they just kissed their crushes too. that's how much they loved me. like that. the theater lobby walls were decorated with movie posters from the 20s to the 50s. i didn't think much of it then but tonight i can see them perfectly in my head. before this month i actually thought i knew what it meant to call a place a 'ghost town'. now i taste the cigarettes on my own lips. i haven't been to the movies in a really long time, not since i started smoking, is it strange to want to escape the big dark room to have one? everything changes. let there not be light. i went outside anyway, strange or not, the movie was putting my nerves on edge and my bones were all screaming, so fine. all 100,000 billion of my bones and muscles, whatevers here inside me, screaming. once outside i realized there was no way back in, the mall was closed, the theater employees home or out or maybe they never even existed. i lied flat down on the hood of our car like it was my movie that i went to see. since when did things get so unreal, since when is 3D real life? grant me the serenity. i like the hoods of cars and velvet purple thrones in theaters. there's not much else, i don't think, there's not much else of worth. if you're really wondering where i am exactly just close your eyes and get here.
she makes a joke about lap tops, all they need, she says, or something . i think of the garbage bags, all of the things in the garbage bags, i think of basements, of the days alone the nights alone . i think of the people, all of the brains inside their heads, all of the things in their houses, their paintings and what's inside of their refrigerators, the smells on their pillows and sheets. i think of three hundred and nine yellow birds, nowhere, or everywhere, to each his own. i beg the keys to click click---to thunder storm, the phones to stop ringing, the sky to open up and sing, i want the hottest day in august & we'll be heading for the sea, the water high up, past my ankles in the shower, i'm spinning and singing it, twirls and all, this sounds like crying while kissing, both at the same time, tasting your tears, it sounds like water , & i want it & i want it & i want it some more. this is like falling in a hole and hitting different parts of rock and dirt and on the way down each time you do you think of something marvelous, like dolphin skin and how it feels to be honey, how it feels to be stirred in tea.
now don't lose your place, here, darling, don't run off course, this is a straight line we're walking, we have places to go and all of the people to see, all of the people with their eye balls and big jackets in the winter time, all of the red wines and the french onion soups. i look at him from upside down while i'm sitting on the couch, the song on pause, the world on pause, three cups of coffee down and my head is still pounding. i go up the stairs, the wooden sky, i'm out of some movie, the kind you've never heard of but god damn, you should, i get in bed, i sigh, i roll around. my eyes fill up with little water lilies, the pond we had on sixth street with the frogs, a pond in a brooklyn brownstone? i should have known , what a day dream. i call you, you don't answer, picking up the phone would be the first step - the connection, the humans speaking into the machines, i never call anyone, i call you again. the thing in my head stirring and baking, making pies for the end of the world bake sale. i reprimand it for never being on time, for never telling the right story the right way, for not having a book under it's belt, a thick one with soft pages, i scold it for never doing anything but lying around hearing songs and recycling water bottles.
look at me and tell me that i'm the only lover you've ever had
the only lover you've ever really had your whole goddamn life
go on, say it, show me and for christs sake don't stop moving your hands
tell those hands i said they are my first two poems ever written down
tell them that they make mountains and world war
and thunder and famine and long-term illness and miracles
seem as mundane and un-lit as a motel parking lot
in the middle of nowhere on a tuesday night.
in my head i can hear the two hands
and what i hear is hunger
i just want to watch them eat
in my head i feed two flame-red foxes, wild-eyed and eager
i want to wait for them, i want them to wait for me
i want to keep them on fire and feed them again and again
see i can't stop thinking about what my lips
or my legs or my hipbones are,
what my ribcage or my back is without those two hands,
and the thing is without them turns out they're nothing.
and this here? this is everything, easily.
the rest is just in limbo, everything else is so tiny and if you could just keep those two hands on me i might actually have a chance at this, at everything, and in the end i say, fuck the facts, because okay, you really are the only lover i've ever had and with your hands on me you and i are a goddamn standing ovation.