Allow Me This

Engulfed by calculations of how emotions should feel, so utterly given to the tribulations of the ghosts that hang about our shoulders like dead hairs, that is the moment you will begin to forget what love means.

When you become what you preach against, an open milieu of your own counter-accusations spoken in the same dialect as the language with which you were harried by your howling pursuers, that will be the next moment where you will exist apart from and without love.

Almost drowning in an ocean of stale missives and corrosive memories, floating like bad clams that won’t open in a boiling pot, you have grabbed me in your arms and smashed your hammer into my sealed shell and extracted my tiny shivering heart so that you can suck out its poison, picking me from your teeth with a toothpick shaped like one of cupid’s blood-stained murder weapons.

Only distance and wanton disregard await us now. There will be no more warmth, only recrimination and suicidality and hot geysers of blood from old wounds reopened, infected with all this time, all this time that has turned so malignant as if our time together itself has turned into a fanged beast that will provide only a shadow and fear for us to cower beneath while we count the blessings of our own misguided attempts at refurbishing our insides with one another’s.

Lining our pockets with our sanctimony and delight at our counterpart’s mistakes and each halting attempt at understanding will bring even grander misunderstanding until we can no longer identify this conversation as taking place in any language at all, but just unfamiliar noises playing out in familiar melodies: pain into rage, fear into a segue of gestures meant to look like strength that only showcase the fragility of weak hearts.

We will beat each other into even greater submission than the world we escaped together, playing house in our raccoon-eyed reflection sitting in a pile of disabused notions. The junkie and the whore, never knowing who was who, but always knowing both were in the room and waiting to be paid in full.

Blood being viscous and us being vampires, we are greedy to gather the remnants before the great coagulation drowns out our argument and we are left mute, deaf to everything except our own vacancies.

Opening my eyes to the vastness of our love’s many formidable traps we set that have sprung into the dirt past our broken ankles, unsettling the earth leaving the remainders of ourselves amidst our grief, the lamenting farmer reconciling with the fire that consumed his harvest by telling himself the soil will ripen after the ashes settle.

What is this thing that we have now upon us? This frigid little rock scratching between the palms of our hands we hold like the thorns the penitent keeps in his shoes to flagellate his feet on his trek up to god at the top of a mountain only to be felled by a jade, gangrenous sore replacing his fever-dreamed visions of immaculate redemption with the sober death of an atheist.

Leaving this hospice suite to avoid the grating sounds of the dying’s last raspings, gone back to the orphanage where we abandon ourselves once again, squeezed back into the eye of the needle, come squeezed back into a cock, our blood squeezed back into our open wrists and air into our dried up, shriveled little lungs that shriek out:

Only love could hurt this good.

 

Invisible Silks.

Invisible Silks.

Invisible Silks.

Alexander Ziperovich

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Dedicated to Sophia Wight

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I know I’m difficult to understand,

my mind, it’s been corrupted since before I could stand.

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There is a plan somewhere out here in spacetime,

we share the bed and you help me avoid eating scams.

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Like sautéed clams, I have opened myself whole, all my holes,

and you as well, like we were cracked out of solid gold statues that did not hold.

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There is, oh, so, so much to learn and do and ride and think and fly and drink?

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Wait, never mind, I spoke too soon, there is another line and it is not to be nasally consumed,

just holding this broom like a rifle at the sky, holding onto our hearts until the day that we die.

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Consummate this love that we have, eat the walls if I have to help you stand,

my walls are eroding fast and it’s terrifying but it’s finally happening, at last.

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I love you like I use to believe in the needle in my hand,

now I know what it’s like not to be a pillar of sand.

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Hold my hand,

I’ll hold yours.

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We will fight these wars with all of our force,

and if we lose then we were valiant, exposure like ice melting on stallions.

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A thousand treasures and traitorous snakes, watching for the venom,

without any hate.

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There is only an obedience observance of our souls in unity,

let this poem do for you, baby, what it just did for me.

Mother Superior In Black

Alexander Michael Ziperovich

for Mom, the greatest survivor I know…

Black, her favorite color, her the night sky from the bottom of the cavity of a canyon, stars torching burning flaming white light – sparkling explosions in her eyes; when she looks at me, I find.

I know.

She’s always known. Had always known.

Was lookin’ at three years consecutive for a bullshit collection of variously colored sedatives and a loud voice when my lawyer fucked me and raised bail a quarter million. The boys in the bullpen couldn’t believe what they were hearing; her eyes taught me integrity that’s searing. They were almost rioting when I said three words if not for their own MISDEMEANOR cases that were beginning proceedings.

Always known. I begged her to believe me once; I used a dirty flower the first time from some El Salvadoran’s car in hell street #13’s parking lot & I poked my friend from rehab in my cluttered confined little kitchen in my penthouse who has hepatitis C, which sticks around virally longer than God. God, I (thought) knew after my next blood draw what would’ve been saw or seen; massive spikes in my liver enzymes and all other manner of indications of being a fiend.

She said, “No, Alex. It just didn’t happen.” I replied, “But I swing around, high, and poked his arm with a goddamned .29 gauge or whatever and still shot the shit, I was high,” I wined. Again: “No.”

Turns out eye dodged another fucking bullet from a repeated phantom tommy gun/uzi/the finger of God Almighty, Goddamn.

How’d she know I wouldn’t be shot down that low or rather have shot myself down that low?

Wisdom?

Experience?

Persistence?

No words register like the fuckin’ syringes she never saw so there is no explanation excepting her divinely inspired clause and without a pause I believe what she says and know she’s right because that’s how I’ve survived the world war nineteen of my life.

Around then, nineteen. That’s when things get hard. Burning nose to burning foil to burning spoons the bathroom floor, blood dripping down my arm, my chin glancing off my nipples and all the way through that horrible transition to becoming what I am she was there bearing witness; she is an angel with wings made by James Perse and sexy shades by Chanel.

Who the hell knew? Wasn’t it supposed to be the junkies’ on the streets job to read up on their lives and blow my roll? Santa Clause said ho ho ho and I won’t ever again drink a scotch that leads directly to blow.

Why?

Because after a decade there are problems in the system, the plug and sparks are twisted; I made a promise I can’t break to a woman that I don’t think I’ve ever seen even age despite the fact that her 21 year old son had a ninety percentile risk of mortality with MRSA in his chest, the aortic valve of course, God Bless, God Bless, God Bless?

Strength structural isn’t grey or chrome or steel. It’s black. I know the sun is burning your eyes out your skull if you look too hard but imagine the blanket of the night collapsing but not smothering my creativity because if I was to go outside without my contacts I couldn’t see.

The black beauty.

The lady in black with the blanket of her love; I couldn’t have done it myself.

She knows this already but she asked me to tell and now I’m sober for her – not me – plus me – plus Sophie and I’m a little tired of being tired so I’m energetic writing poetry at 6:58 in September for her because she needed one thing from I, damnit, and I was happy to oblige, painfully happy.

Painfully black?

Euphorically black- no that word has the wrong connotations.

Practically ecstatic- no…

Joy.

All because of the divinity of the lady in black that salvaged the unsalvageable and put me in my office with her heart so I could write this so she can see it tomorrow.

Brilliantly black.

Brilliantine white light.

My mommy.

Everything is Either Dying or Dead

EVERYTHING IS DYING OR DEAD

Alexander Michael Ziperovich

Like oil drying up and rending a city to dust, love will leak out of a man like blood, leaving him cold and stupid with rage. Passion shall be buried, lost forever splayed out on dirt. Strength will succumb to weakness, honor to corruption, and finally, or throughout everything, life must abdicate to death.

I.

Inside the light of a dusty, slightly incomplete moon, hung as if suspended by an invisible string above a rutted field inside a halo of pale blue, a broken switchblade refused to eject from its rusted spring. In the cradle of the handle lay its blade like an obstinate child.

There was a sound, two sounds in quick succession, the second followed closely by the first. The first was a single gunshot, unmistakable in its license, throbbing heavily as might the deep crack of a whip had one pounded the sky.

The next sound was small, a sound only the producer of the first sound would recognize, a body falling backward, backward, backward gasping, down into the earth landing with a horrible diminutive thump.

Then a third sound, the sound of frantic running, of thrashing cattail blades being trampled, swept away beneath desperate footfall.

And there were no more sounds to be heard and the night was again vacant, silent in its indifference to the lives of men.

II.

Rusted oil machinery is scattered idly about like dead beasts that refuse to die peacefully and fall into the earth, as does everything else in death. Five old men, shoulders sagging, their heads slightly lolling, stand around the wraparound porch under a peeling sign above them proclaiming General Store’s existence. A plastic jug is being passed slowly about them, the massive metallic monsters gleaming grimly down at them as they drink the piss-warm booze in the swelter.

The dead oil rigs much like Bartlesville, skeletal and unmoving, decaying- one massive steaming carcass in the dirt. The men of Bartlesville much like the dead rigs, sweaty, brown, slowly awaiting their death in the dirt.

In the faces of the men there is a new awareness as they begin to see a figure emerging from the haze, chewing tobacco leaking down the sides of their upturned chins like tiny rivers of shit. These men are turning their heads now to stare at a red-faced girl carefully stepping out of the passenger side of an old green coupe, which has pulled into the small lot that the General Store shares with the adjoining Bartlesville Inn a small distance from where the men stand. They are staring at the girl and at the swinging abundance of her hair the color of the flesh of a ripe peach as she retrieves a worn floral print suitcase from the car.

They are watching her waving, smiling back at the driver in her windy, billowing red dress as he is pulling out of the parking lot and who is now speeding back down the only road that delivers cars and the people in them back to the 95, which is the interstate highway that provides those that drive on it the sole view of the town of Bartlesville. Those travelers, afforded their brief, inconsequential glimpses of the town, those who do not live there among the dead, oily beasts, those without any reason to be there but who are simply lucky enough to view it as detached, perhaps wistful observers of the detritus of a crumbling America as they move on to better, more ideal destinations, they will never be forced to think about or consider or to even remember ugly meaningless little Bartlesville and they will regard it and quickly disregard it as one instinctively regards and than quickly disregards the ugly, transient things of life. Consequently, they will never hold the things that happen there within their hearts and the things that happen in Bartlesville will be of no importance to themselves or anyone else and they will all be happier, for they know nothing of the souls of the people that live in places like this and in their ignorance they will be at least somewhat more graceful and free.

The oldest of the men turns and looks away, squinting at the little green car disappearing down the interstate and briskly he spits on the ground as if he were trying to rid his mouth of something particularly distasteful.

III.

The huge burlap tent, which had been set up and pitched by the men and women of the traveling Apostolic Church Of Christ in the blistering sun the previous day on the periphery of town was now filled with the desperate, hopeful incantations of worship and from within the golden glow of the tent you could hear the fevered, impassioned cries of praise punctuating the pauses in the speech of a deep, drawling voice of a man on a megaphone:

“Come wary, come ye forlorn, come find ultimate joy walking with Christ, know peace as you bring yourself to a life lived in God’s embrace, find newness in your lives, find rebirth and the serenity that has escaped you, find the joyous love that has eluded you, find the everlasting acceptance and salvation in the Lord Jesus!”

Just outside the din of devotion, sitting on an upturned bucket, sat one of the men that had set up the tent, one of the traveling members of the Church. A recent member who had just signed on and whom no one knew much about. His first name, Charlie, and a few vague details about his life were all that he offered to those that inquired. He was a welcome help to the traveling mission, though, and he was quiet and grateful and he did not cause problems as he kept mostly to himself and was otherwise amiable and so he was as accepted as any of the other anonymous men and women that made the traveling Church possible.

The brassy glow from the entrance to the tent spilled down upon him, illuminating his icy blue eyes. He sat and smoked and watched, glancing at the people coming and going. His face handsome and young but weathered in that peculiar way that a man’s face becomes hardened when he experiences such a brutality so early in life that it is written on his face. His icy eyes like deep, cold oceans conveying a stolid melancholy to all that looked upon him.

A girl with a flushed red-face and long hair the color of the flesh of a ripe peach tapped him softly on the shoulder.

They could be seen running together into the dark, hands intertwined, until they were beyond the golden glimmer of the tent.

They found an old tree above a small, rare patch of grass and they made wondrous love under the quivering stars blinking in the sky.

From the golden tent could be heard voices singing “Hallelujah”. The voices mellifluous, carried by a meandering wind to the embracing lovers like the scent of a flower in a dream.

IV.

Henry’s lifeless eyes were still open, terrified and open. Elijah bent down and closed his brother’s eyes. It was a day of reckoning and the face of the dawn sky was flushed with anguished collisions of purples and oranges and reds swirling like fires above the shuffling men, huddled above the dead body in the field. There was Henry lying on his back, an astonished expression locked onto his gray face, the cloth of the shirt over his heart embroidered with a rusty red flower where he had been shot.

The brothers looked up, up and away from each other out into the distance. Just now there was a jagged shard of vengeance settling and lodging into each of their hearts. Elijah again bent down and picked up the unopened knife that lay a few inches from Henry’s body and put it in his pocket. They turned and walked off, out of the field, leaving their brother. They would let the women worry about Henry’s funeral; they had in them the visions of the machinations of death to be carried out upon another in reprisal for the death of one of their own and in their fury they were solemn.

V.

Charlie sat on the bed in the small motel, warily cleaning the pistol with a gray rag. “They’re coming for us.” The muscles of his jaw fluttered in his face as he ground his teeth together. His forehead creased and his whole face seemed to squint as he spoke, “I killed him and his brothers will come to kill me but I won’t let them hurt you, darlin’. I don’t care what else, Georgia, they won’t touch you. An eye for an eye, a life for a life and all that, but not yours.” Georgia sat on the bed with her back against the wall, her knees drawn up against her chest. She looked up with eyes that begged, “He tried to rape me.” Charlie spoke softly, “And that’s why I killed him.” He whispered, wiping at the damn gun, “That’s why I shot that piece of shit.”

“They can’t kill you if you kill them first,” Georgia said. Charlie pondered this for a moment, stopping his wiping and then resuming it again as he began to speak, “Yep. I reckon that’s true.” He thrust his bottom lip out in thought, closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath. He placed the gun and the rag on the floor next to the bed and reached out toward Georgia and rested his ear against the small bump in her belly and listened as she cradled his head in her soft hands and kissed his stubbly cheek. “Can’t we keep running?” Tears streamed down her face and chest onto his face and chest like silent rivers. “No.”

VI.

The gunmetal sky shone darkly as the last of the twilight was being swallowed up by the gaping black mouth of the night. Elijah pulled into Bartlesville and idling his red truck, stepped under that smothering sky. Clouds of dust hovered mirthlessly around him as he got out and surveyed the town. Off in the distance was a massive tent being dismantled by a a half dozen men. Elijah watched the tent collapsing into itself as the stakes that held the poles that held the tent aloft were ripped one by one from the ground. He again imagined what it would feel like the moment he killed the man that murdered his brother as the tent fell in on itself, crumpling feebly into the ground like a crumbling tissue.

He got back into the truck and drove until he found a secluded darkness where he could rest until the light of the day would allow him to begin hunting the man he would kill; he envisioned himself slaughtering him like the pigs he had watched his father slaughter as a small, scared boy on their farm. He picked up his .45 and gently laid it on his lap, lightly caressing the grooves of the trigger between his thumb and forefinger until he fell into a deep rhythmic breathing where he waited.

VII.

The grinding sound of the key opening the lock woke Georgia up, who stood and went to the door. She was both terrified and relieved as Charlie tore his way past her, removing the gun from his waist as he slammed the door shut behind him. He was breathing hard, he had been running and sweat lined his creased brow and soaked the center of his heaving shirt. He sat erect on the bed, gun in hand, “Elijah’s red truck is here.” She came and sat next to him on the bed, Charlie between her and the door. “Did he see you?” He clutched the pistol and put his back against the wall. “I don’t know.” The tip of his index finger just on the trigger and like that they too waited.

VIII.

In the cloudless sun the monstrous machines looked as though they were grinning, massive steel jaws hungry for prey. The day was burning down into everything, the white-hot sun making it all a furnace. There were no birds flying above or at best the thick, hungry heat had devoured the sound of them singing.

Only a few wretched vultures circled the site where the Apostolic Church had been the day before, morbid beasts that were much like the oil rigs in their ugliness and their brutality, turning an orbit above the debris that had been left behind by the church in the dirt.

Elijah began cruising the town at first dim light. There was a man running in the far distance, running away it seemed, from him. Elijah raced toward him and had ended up at a decrepit motel where the man must have entered but he had been  behind and could not ascertain which room the running man had found refuge in. Elijah looked up for a vantage point from where he could watch the comings and goings of all the rooms’ inhabitants; there were two sides and each had its own set of rooms and doors.

He drove away and found a small turnout on the side of a road on a hill overlooking the motel and he parked, staring from above.

Charlie knew he was out there, waiting, watching. He could feel him, his rage like silent clapping thunder. He knew the murder that filled the heart of the man outside as he knew the murder that filled his own heart when he shot and killed that man who had tried to rape his pregnant wife. There would be blood. It must not be Georgia’s blood that was spilled. Charlie pulled the shades back from the window with the barrel of his pistol and looked out but all he could see was the dust and the sun blazing down on the mottled parking lot outside. There were no red trucks. There was no nothing. Still, he was out there somewhere waiting, watching.

Both men sat and painstakingly cleaned their guns as they watched the sun burn into the earth like a searing hot brand.

Georgia laid on the bed, beads of sweat on her neck, her face like a prayer, her hands clasped together resting on her abdomen, her hands rising and falling with every breath. Charlie sat near her on the bed, his finger brushing the trigger, the gun on his knee aimed at the door. “We wait until the darkness.” After a minute Georgia asked, “Then what?” Charlie looked down the barrel of the gun, “I kill him or he kills me.”

IX.

The ball of fire in the sky was dogged in its hold on the heavens and it seemed that the sun refused to fade away and the day took on the dimensions of weeks and months and years in what seemed to be its infinite dominion over them all. Time seemed to have died and by the time the bright white light afire in the sky finally began to recede into a lesser light and finally, after that, into a twilit half-light, time seemed no longer to ever have been.

As the darkness enveloped the town of Bartlesville and covered the motel in its blanket, enshrouding Elijah and his red truck, the men were ready to kill each other with the same hateful conviction of that horrible sun’s incandescent authority over the earth.

Charlie took Georgia by the arm after a last look outside the window, “We’re leaving. First car drives by I’m getting it.” He waved the gun for emphasis on how this would be done. “Ready?” He already had his hand on the doorknob. She began to go to her suitcase but Charlie simply said, “No.” The door opened and they ran.

Elijah stared hard, his eyes cutting through the darkness like knives and he saw two dark figures emerge into the black night, two figures, moving too quickly. He started his engine.

Charlie heard the truck start and knew as did Georgia and they ran faster, diving into the pitch black toward the interstate and the lights of the few cars on it.

Elijah maneuvered the hill’s sharp turns heading toward the figures, which were weaving in and out of his vision like ghosts, like blurry heat waves from a dying fire, and he focused and aimed his car in their direction and sped up. Finally he was close enough to see the face of the sonofabitch that murdered his brother, he saw him reach down to help Georgia up onto the interstate and Elijah turned and drove onto the onramp where he ascended onto the asphalt where their guns would meet.

Charlie ran into the road with his pistol in the air and aimed it an oncoming station wagon, which swerved to miss him, the driver correcting hard and finally smashing into the median after turning 180 degrees. Elijah drove up and passed the steaming car and spun around and stopped in front of it a few yards up the road facing oncoming traffic and Charlie and Georgia.

Bullets flew at Elijah as he got out and he found safety behind his car, leaning out to return to fire. They had traded two rounds each and neither man had hit anything.

The red truck’s headlights shone brightly and cut a large swath of light through the darkness. The station wagon and its occupants, a family of four, were screaming and sobbing as they tried to get out of the steaming wreck. It appeared the driver, the father, had broken his neck in the collision.

“You know that shit brother of yours tried to rape my Georgia? You know that?” He leaned out into the light and screamed. Elijah yelled back at the top of his lungs, “I wish he would’ve killed the whore like I’m fixing to after I dispense with the spilling of your worthless blood!” They traded shots again, both each very close to hitting flesh. They were both down to three bullets each.

The little girl from the back of the station wagon began limping into the road, in shock from a concussion, walking directly into the middle of a firefight. She stumbled out into the light from the red truck and screamed for help but there was no reply.

Charlie and Georgia were safe behind the station wagon and Elijah couldn’t find a shot. He quickly stood, trying to smoke Charlie out so that he could shoot him in the heart. Charlie saw him stand and rolled once, twice and landed on his belly and took aim and fired and he saw Elijah pushed back by the impact of the bullet that had just ripped through his right shoulder. Elijah was screaming like a pig being slaughtered but he knew it wasn’t a fatal wound he had incurred and somehow Charlie knew this too.

Elijah fell to the ground and lay on his stomach like Charlie, his shoulder leaking blood creating a small puddle, the wound spurting blood every time his heart beat.

“I’m fixing to kill you right here and now, Elijah! Save you the pleasure of fuckin’ bleeding out all over this nice highway!” Elijah howled, “You come fucking kill me then you fuckin’ coward!” Elijah used all his strength to roll onto his back, right arm lifted with his finger on the trigger.

Unfortunately, the first thing he saw was the ataxic, screaming girl, her arms reaching out like she was blind. The gun exploded into her abdomen. The pain had blinded him and he had killed a little girl. He watched her stagger and collapse, her wailing turning to a soft gurgling whine. Elijah was seething with anger and anguish and hate and pain.

“You shoot that girl, did you? Let me help you, here, motherfucker.” The triumph in Charlie’s voice, his gun leveled at Elijah’s head. But something happened and Charlie’s gun did not fire even though he had rounds in the clip, something had jammed. Elijah barely lifted his right arm again, gun in hand, to fire his last shot as Charlie watched through those icy blue eyes of his, and Elijah shot Charlie dead center in his chest. Charlie fell to the ground wheezing, tears leaking out of his eyes, blood out of his mouth. His voice wet with the blood coming from his mouth he begged, “Georgia, Georgiaaa.” Blood fell as a steady stream from the corner of his mouth to the highway as he begged for his Georgia to kiss him before he died.

She ran to Charlie sobbing, horrified at the three dying people strewn across the ground. She went down and kissed Charlie on his bloody lips looking into his rolling eyes, and she picked up his pistol. She slid the clip out and jammed it back in and cocked the hammer. “I love you, baby.” She put the gun to Elijah’s forehead, letting him feel the hot metal searing his skin. Crying, she pulled the trigger and everyone was dead except her. Georgia suddenly became aware of sirens and screaming police.

That baby would be born in the maternity ward of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester.

His name would be Charlie.

Painting Prozac

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By Alexander Michael Ziperovich
I climb back into the ketamine cave and into the fire, into the luminescent thrashing mind-rape of disassociation. I’m inside Annie’s condo and everything is spinning and shooting these beautiful, malevolent stars and nothing makes any kind of sense. Everything is a fucking mess in my head. Her disorder is on full blast tonight and she’s toying with me on the K, telling me I’m hurting her, she’s screaming at me playing these twisted back and forth games that I can’t even understand in my identity-challenged, ego-blurred condition. She is cannibalizing me as I try to numb or poison her voice out of me. I feel some dark masochistic crevasse inside of me, some tumorous cave within is actually enjoying all this pain. The screaming mixed with the ketamine like a storm, the K hurts me and I feel my brain liquefying but more for me is good, the K talks to me and it just says more and everything is simple that way.

Finally, she goes to “sleep” after circling, hovering around me like a vulture as I sit hunched over my pile of glistening powder like a praying priest. She was stomping her big legs down into the wooden floor, enraged, all around me screaming and screaming and I don’t understand why or about what, not that the K is responsible for that, I’ve never understood what she does or why. I stay up to snort more powder, of course. She’s upright in her bed just howling for hours days weeks years, she’s dying for me to come to bed, to come lay down next to her, a wounded shrieking beast. Even now on the unmoving K platform of cognitive paralysis I know somewhere deep inside that she is gone, that my lovely Angie, the Angie I thought I had or would have or would have had, that that Angie, she’s gone because she never existed. In that long and beautiful dream we shared, us both privy to those few perfect moments but all of it is lost forever, it was never really real. It was drug-induced chemistry like a beautiful nod after a perfect shot of good heroin. The worst moment doing smack isn’t when you’re all the way sober after a really exquisite shot and you feel filled with the anguish of loss. No, the worst part is when you’re just coming to and barely sober enough to realize you are going to be truly sober again. You think about time and how badly you want to just go back and stay there in that wondrous warmth forever. That’s what it’s like with her, I just want to go back to the way things used to be but Angie, the pretty ugly butterfly from the broken cocoon is now resigned in my mind to the equivalent of a dirty black splotch of residue on a burnt spoon after I woke up from our dream, wistful reminiscent, thinking about all that fleeting, impossible to hold on to beauty, wasted gone but I’m still chasing her because I think how, “You do this thing that makes me believe it’s still there and I can’t leave you, baby. I feel abandoned and wrong and scared and crazy, too.”

Let me go, fucking let me go, let me fucking die alone at the bottom of a dark hole. Just no more of these nights. No more pain. Please, no more.

I rise up from the chair I’ve been glued to with K and she’s screaming harder and louder as she hears me trying to slip on my shoes and jacket. I’m trying to be quiet so she doesn’t know I’m leaving or else she’ll stop me but I have no coordination and as I grab some cans of red paint I’m making noise bumping into walls and her door. I stagger out and down the stair well and I start crying as I walk into her lobby, numb and I feel something, some part of me is dying. I fall out of her building into the heaving rain and the black wet night takes me into its arms and I start painting these big sloppy hearts on every flat surface I see. It’s a kind of frenzied reverie for me and I do this when her apartment is filled with too much horror and when I do this I run and I paint and I sweat as I run and it feels invigorating, all the rain pouring down my face onto my chest with the sweat dripping down my face as I write and I write and I write, I LOVE YOU and LOVE and IF NO ONE LOVES YOU I DO and my red dripping hearts are everywhere after a few seconds. I spray on walls that look lonely and dark, like I’m painting hearts on myself. I’m looking up through tears back at the rain being tossed from the sky as if to argue with the sky as the clouds smash down into my face commingling with the sheen of tears and snot running out of my nose.

I call my mom, delirious. I’m in so much pain. She is trying to talk gently to me as I pace around painting walls in black drenched avenues using my phone and a lighter for light to write my little LOVE idioms. My mom keeps trying to figure out what the fuck is going on at 4:47 at fucking Angie’s place. My body is jerking these little sounds out of my mouth through my desperate crying to her and I look at some cars speeding up Madison and I think that it might be better to just walk into the paved street and lay down on the soft, gleaming concrete in a little puddle and wait for something to just take the pain out but something says no. “Mom, whaaat… the… fuuuuuuuuuuck?” But she doesn’t know why. None of us know, her family, mine, me, her. No one fucking cares.

I think about her as I push my body down the street with my phone and my can. This poor fucking girl, already in so much psychic and emotional pain that her pain is all there is now. I never wanted to hurt her; I wanted to save her so she was able to save herself. Maybe by witnessing me kill myself through drugs and I said to her without words, I said, “I’ll be the sacrificial lamb. I’ll die for you, I know you want me to. I’ll do it for you, baby.”

I’m talking to myself and my mom and Angie who sits inside my head as a screaming that echoes in my skull at the same time, walking, staring up at the black nothingness squinting trying to see something through the endless sheets of cold droplets.

Everything hurts and every time I spray a big stupid red heart on a wall and I watch it drip crawling down to the street I feel a little relief from this nightmare. I see some cold junkie walking alone through this same lonely rain in the same lonely pain seeing my dripping hearts. I hope he sees them and he feels better or warmer. I want someone to feel some relief from all this. I’m passing on love Angie keeps telling me I don’t even have to give but this aerosol paint on these broken concrete streets in a downpour creating these horribly broken totems for the hopeless and the damned makes me feel better.

I tell myself I give everything I have to give, but it isn’t that much anymore. I gave her everything. More.
Her and the drugs took most of me.

The drugs robbed me of so much. I work with what I have left, some streaky red graffiti that looks like sad, dripping ignored love notes smothered in darkness, running off of walls into gutters like the buildings are bleeding.

I’m walking down these empty streets with the sky smashing into my face clutching my single can of red paint spraying it until it’s dead and I throw it, sending it careening into the street and suddenly she appears at my neck, grabbing at my arms, hissing at me like knives.

I’ll always be alone and then I will die of prostate cancer.

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