Arrived 1977, shitty cabinets.
Things happened: tragic, jarring, fun, remarkable.
Arguments the neighborhood ‘didn’t hear.’
Wiffleball games; frog catching; stupid risks; silly lies. Summers.
Guilt and shame, doubt and second guesses. A glass of wine.
What can we ask or answer without sin?
“You gunna miss it?” he asked.
She replied from the edge, “from the clothesline to the corner of Youngs and 17, I thought, ‘this is ours.’”
One house, 5 stories. Countless spinoffs. Merging memories.
The house kept secrets.
I asked you why you jumped. You said to see how it would feel.
Departed 2000, shitty cabinets.
one Human thing
There's time to use big words unnecessarily. Embrace brevity.
Choose one human thing to keep, preserve. What do you pick? An artifact? A machine? A book? A tool? Something nostalgic, useless to everybody else?
Perhaps you can't think of anything. Is it pointless? To ask?
Is it impossible to choose without parameters? Without asking questions?
He was eager to know. His brother eager to tell him why they find rhythm and beats on the streets.
It's the first thing that came to mind when I had to choose. The rest fits neatly within, safe and sound.
Mind Map-Free Write
So you’ve got a clot in your dreaming spot
And it won’t dissolve like the others…the ones that
Preceded this one felt like a tug and a pull and with
A touch, just a little but not too much, they were accessible,
You can take an alternate route
There’s no gps for dreams you just
Gotta figure that shit out
Its not a block no, I’ve had my share of those
And its not a wall per se or a hurdle,
Its like the roads are closed
Because a tumbleweed drifted too long
Through the backroads in my brain,
Collecting trash and excesses, the
Crap that left unchecked will make you insane
And it grew and now its stopped,
Planted right on my dreaming spot
I can still make an idea, though it ain’t much
I know my minds backups and such
Ill Go there in a dream, through a side door
It’ll come to me as I find my way there
And then once I'm up close, ill know more.
Time to dream and navigate
The rural routes through casted doubts
To the wrecker of things which will wait
Not knowing that im coming…
The Impeccable Me
You can support the author by unlocking it.
The righteous hand shall guide us
Through the halls of power and shame
Dark and damp and without hope
Yet it will be there, the righteous hand, at the small of your back
Gently pushing you where you dread going the most
to see the master of truth
to see the host of the most
The righteous hand is an extension of the righteous mind
And we struggle…
Is there a mind made mightier than the rest?
Is there someone so righteous it's clear they know best?
It's a risky game to play but the pieces have been set
is it true about our station in this life, or do we choose what we get?
Perhaps unwittingly, with reason left behind
You won't even know it when you've convinced yourself
That you possess the righteous mind
And of course, by extension Your righteous hand shall guide us
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The Anatomy of a Monster
Mom swirls the water in a circle when she’s filling the tub. There’s a plastic mug she uses to pour the soapy water over my hair to rinse the shampoo out. I giggle and look up at her and she’s smiling.
When someone dies, we think it’s like they are gone. But not all dying is the same.
A Monster knows this. I thought he was The Monster the first night we met. But Monsters have friends too. They look like people too. They dress up in scrubs and maybe they get haircuts. They for sure get tattoos.
It was a bad, bad dream. Dylan had the same dream. So, we felt better. I felt glad to have Dylan as my roommate, since we both had bad dreams sometimes.
Miss Alisha filled the tub in the bright bathroom. The water came out of the faucet way faster than the tub at home, but I wanted the tub with the slow, rusty faucet. I wanted mom to stir the water and shampoo my hair.
Miss Alisha said, “come on my darling my little Seany Shoe, it’s time to take a bath to be a brand new you!”
I watched her. She had a sweater on over her scrubs. It was like a bunch of threads with giant buttons. She held her hand under the running faucet and then rolled up her sleeve and started stirring the water.
She looked over at me. “Cutie pie why are you laughing at me silly? Tell me, tell Miss Alisha. I love to laugh,” she said waving at me to come closer.
Now that I saw her stir the water like mom I wanted to get clean. I wanted to be a brand new Seany.
Miss Alisha said, “ok feel the water, is it just perfect?”
It was! It was just like mom would make it.
Miss Alisha waited and after a minute seemed confused.
We walked side-by-side. I wanted to grab his hand. Sometimes we looked at each other before Walow took Dylan one way and Tow took me another.
The Monster lives in the bathroom too. Little men in the pipes that see everything. They never forget.
The Monster is good at giving tests. To make me strong and smart. The Big Monster, the one Walow and Tow know.
After each test we were marched back to our room.
“You think the Big Monster gives them tests like they give us tests?” Dylan asked when the wedge of light grew thin.
“Maybe. He must be huge. He must be really scary.”
“He is! And he like knows all the stuff. Walow he told me that me and you are gunna lose our mom and dad if we keep this up and definitely if we tell.”
“Did he plug in tonight?”
Plugging in was scary and hurt. I felt my tummy and everything move like it was gunna come out every time Tow plugged in.
“No he made me face the wall in the quiet room and pushed my face against it then asked me if we wanted to stay for 6 months, I said no sir, he asked if we wanted to lose our mom and dads and I said no sir. He said all the rules and made me promise to tell you everything he told me. Then he made me stand in the dark and said if I moved one inch he would plug in.”
I thought about the quiet room.
“What about Tow?” Dylan whispered.
“Same but he took me to the bathroom. He said the same stuff then locked me in there in the dark and said if I cried or turned the light on he would plug in. He made me sit in the empty tub.”
Miss Alisha kept smiling and said, “its perfect right sweetie?”
“Okay get on it.”
A ball was in my throat. I didn’t know how it got there but it blocked the words. A traffic jam.
“Before it gets cold kiddo,” she said, not frustrated one bit.
I put one leg into the bathtub and Miss Alisha stopped me and said “Seany what are you doing sweetie no, no sweetie hold on!”
“Am I in trouble?”
“No, umm, Seany why do you have all your clothes on silly?”
“Are you gunna stay with me?”
Miss Alisha helped pull my shirt off. Soon I was in the warm tub and as she shampooed my hair she sang softly…
“little Seany Shoe I like you,
I just can’t help myself from adoring you,
Little Seany Shoe its just plain true
There’s not another boy quite as cute as you”
She smiled and tapped my nose. I giggled and looked away.
“Little Seany Shoe you can wipe those tears
You’re safe and sound so no more fears,
My darling Seany Shoe where are you?
Why my precious boy do you seem so blue?
Do all Monsters know they’re Monsters?
The sheets smelled clean. Always. The blindfold smelled like the pillowcases.
Squeeze the edge of the bed Dylan told me once. “And no matter what don’t cry,” he told me looking away. “Just hold your breath and grind your teeth and say yessir. Then its over.”
So that’s what I did. And Monsters love rules too but its just that they have different rules.
I squeezed the edges of the bed and thought about Miss Alisha singing.
Little Seany Shoe, where’d you go
If you were to die I’d miss so…
Little Seany Shoe you’re a grownup man,
Tryin to stay the course, doin all you can
The little boy in you didn’t really die
Pull em out from hiding look em in the eye
The Monsters run amuck but we can win. How to go about it well, I couldn’t tell you how to begin.
What are Monsters made of?
Respect the Depths
by Sean Romano (Zay Nah)
Stomping through the house with his heavy boots on.
He was leaving a trail of caked mud. Like little puzzle pieces in the shape of the pattern on his army boots.
He was shedding the mud. Shedding the experience.
Shedding his skin.
She begged him to stop. It had gone all wrong from jump. Things often do when people take questionable advice.
But then again, in all fairness, isn’t it well established that we always ignore the best advice and we do so when it comes from people we love and respect the most?
Is it possible that the advice was not necessarily meant to be ignored but maybe, just maybe, applied differently?
Or just ignored because people just say shit most of the time.
“Where’s my bag?” Catkin was frantic again. Ramping back up. Pulling at his long dark hair. “Where’d you put my stuff ma please…PLEASE! Jus tell me please,” Catkin turned to his mother, and she stopped in her tracks.
His face was slick with tears. Eyes bloodshot and cheeks flush. For a moment the only noises were the ticking of the grandfather clock, a car passing in the street, the windchimes dancing in the gentle breeze. Nothing fancy, just a chill little number between the heartbreaking seconds.
He loved the windchime when he was a boy his mom thought as he looked at her and wiped his eyes with the palms of his hands. For a moment she saw a toddler and not a 14-year-old boy.
“I need my bag mom,” Catkin said softly. “You don’t understand anything. You’ve got this story about what’s up with me and it’s all wrong and then you take my bag? With my stuff?”
She thought she had an opportunity. The clock chimed in harmony with the windchime and for the first time since the argument began, she didn’t find herself praying someone would come home.
“I’m scared Catchy I, I just,” his mother stuttered, “we don’t know what to do like I said honey we’re just scared, dad too, you can talk to us please...”
She felt the air thicken in an instant.
It’s a delicate business, reading these situations. She thought she was so close to the line she had chalk dust on her shoes but had remained within her boundaries.
The opportunity, if there had even been one, was slipping away.
Sometimes when you lose your grip its subtle and you don’t even notice until you check or fuck up on top of fuck up reaches a critical mass and it all falls apart.
Other times its obvious right away.
This was one of those times.
“Yer scared so you took my fuckin bag and accuse me of being on drugs, ground me, and tell me I’m going to rehab all in like 2 minutes with no warning. What’s WRONG with you,” Catkin was screaming, crying, for the first time in years. At least in front of his mother.
“Catkin you’re my baby boy I just-
“Jhames is yer baby boy he’s the youngest,” Catchy said looking down at his untied boots. He was still serious but speaking calmly. In Catkin’s mind he was swinging on a vine from tree to tree. He almost wanted to say it out loud, that he felt best when he was in the air but once he planted his feet on something things got complicated.
But he didn’t. They were both already swimming in the deep end. Catkin elected to respect the depths of the circumstance.
“You’re my boy Catkin.”
Shits unraveling, Catkin thought. Where was Immanuel when he needed him the most? Where the fuck are people when you need them the most?
“When was the last time you called me Catkin mom?”
She felt panic setting in. What if he walked out the door because she pushed? What then?
“I, I just don’t want you to die honey you can talk to us.”
“Jesus fuckin Christ mom now I’m about to DIE! Do you hear yourself?!”
Catchy was calm a moment and took several deep breathes and then screamed “WHERE’S MY FUCKIN BAG MOM?”
“Its safe honey why do you need it?”
“Is this a joke? You haven’t even searched it? There’s no drugs. I’m not on drugs.”
“Then how do you explain your behavior? How do you explain school?”
“Oh the straight A’s…umm I dunno I fucked up somewhere along the line. Lemme unpack it with my guidance counselor, and we’ll see what strategies we can come up with JESUS MOM ARE YOU SERIOUSLY ASKING THIS?”
Catkin was breathless. “Are you serious I’m going to rehab cause I’m getting straight A’s and I’m hyper? I tested positive fer weed not meth or anything else.”
She walked out of the room and promptly returned with the bag which Catkin snatched out of her hands. His mother flinched but kept her composure as Catchy ripped through his bag and grabbed his journal and opened it.
There was writing and drawings, beautiful drawings of geometric shapes. They both loved books and journals.
She caught only a glimpse before he closed the journal. It made a sound that felt final. Both satisfying and haunting at once.
The sound of fate being sealed, at least for the moment.
“Can you at least tie your father’s boots?”
I Used to Want To Be...
“1, 2, 3,” and she would look at me and smiling, holding my gaze and then when we were in that perfect space, she would rip the Band-Aid off so fast I hardly noticed.
Each impact took just a little more of my breath away.
I knew not to speak. I was too tired by then even if I wanted to. And it’s true, what so many like to point out. I could have and should have said much more. Done so much more.
But I said a lot of things to a lot of people over the years. I found my cozy corner and I told all the people I met there who would listen and you know what? It made a difference.
But I didn’t ever leave my safe little space. If I had maybe I wouldn’t be on my side in the fetal position staring down a flight of cement steps outside the back door to the building.
The tepid raindrops pelted my aching body.
They seemed far away. Their voices echoed in the scantily lit parking lot and the rain started coming down harder. I could swear I heard one of them say something decent before doing it. Something like “why are we even doing this?”
I stared up at the night sky as an orange orb-looking object passed over my head like a shooting star, shedding sparks as it went, only to be beaten down by the rain. Then I heard one of them say, “it’s not my call and you know what it ain’t yers neither. So just do it.”
First the grunt. The sound of exertion reached me first. There was a delay. Like a lightning strike, followed by the thunder because sound travels so much slower.
When you’ve been beaten enough times, you learn to control certain things. It’s impossible to explain.
After the sound I felt the heat between my shoulder blades and tried to guard my face with my hands because I knew I was rolling down the steps like a piece of trash, only I couldn’t. They were bound behind my back.
I landed on my back and looked up to the top of the stairs to see the doors closing as I lay on my back on the wet asphalt and drank the rain as it hit my face.
I tried to lift my head. My vision became blurry and chaotic when I did.
The rain provided some relief. And hydration. I remembered being drunk and on some other drugs in college and standing out in the pouring rain to sober up. This was definitely a different experience.
There’s a few people in here who keep saying shit like never ever in my wildest dreams or this is like the kinda thing they do in other countries.
Well duh. I laughed and then rolled over so I could vomit. Then I laughed more.
I opened my eyes to daybreak and a clearing sky.
Hands and feet bound I lay in the fetal position, face down in my vomit, soaked from the nights rain. In my peripheral vision I counted five of them.
Three soldiers, one Health Service Worker, I think, and the Social Worker.
“I used to wanna be one,” I said, barely getting enough air to form discernable words.
“The famous Catchy just couldn’t keep his mouth shut is that what happened?” One of the soldiers asked. He could not possibly be older than 18.
I wiggled to itch my back. Every piece of me hurt.
“Well, is that what happened?”
“Ah, ah, gimme a sec ill check my notes,” I chided him with leftover wit and guts.
Assessing whether it was worth it becomes pointless almost immediately.
The boy soldier stood over me and let several beads of saliva drip in rapid succession onto my face. He was literally drooling on me.
“Like that genius? It’s because of people like you we all have to be here in the first place. So, what was it you wanted to be?” They were all laughing an obligatory laugh. Maybe they felt trapped maybe they didn’t, I’ll never know. All I know is they didn’t help me.
The others lifted me to my feet. My head weighed 100 pounds and my body throbbed.
He demanded to know what it was I wanted to be. He said, “we ain’t goin inside til you tell me yer dreams Catkin Key.”
Nobody calls me Catkin and he knew that.
“I wanted to be a soldier. Protect my people, freedom, and all the rest,” I said hanging my head.
There was a moment of silence and the social worker huffed and puffed like she was being inconvenienced.
The soldier walked up to me, grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him.
We locked eyes and he smiled.
I made sure to muster a smile too. I could feel the dried-up pieces of vomit on my cheek.
“Well, here’s what you get fer being so goddamn sharp.”
First the sound of the exertion…
Then the sound of their shoes and boots on the cement as they walked back up the stairs.
The sound was familiar. It reminded me of the sound of shoveling snow as a kid and so that’s what I thought about as I lay on the asphalt, face back down in my aging vomit, baking in the warm sun.
The heavy metal doors slammed shut.
To wake up with hope Then fear sleep cause of The Despair
Dream it if you dare
And write upon waking with hope,
And bed down without despair-
Lock em out of out,
And let em stay out there.
Be unstructured my friend, it doesn’t mean you’re lost.
Only catchy phrases
You know the feel good type
Scored to inspirational music
Exactly the kind that’ll make you sick
And yet they get clicks and shit like that sticks
Turn off the lights in the room. The room you’re spending all your time in. Working feverishly to compel them to search for what you’re searching for,
To wake up with hope
Then fear sleep cause of The Despair,
No worries about dreams and sleep though because you’re not going there.
When you turned off the lights you thought you were robbed of your insights but lucky for you that’s absolutely untrue.
It’s patently false, in fact,
You’ve gotta take measures to look after the treasures and keep your shit intact.
Some days sleep will find you followed fast by the dreams that guide you. Some days won’t be days like that and those will be days when you’ll be left in a haze and you won’t quite know where you’re at.
So when you turn on the light in the room that you’re in, you may not know how to explain it or where to begin. But it won’t matter you say because the people left standing there are your partners on the path wherever it’s going, wherever that might be.
It hardly ever makes sense to others, and shit never makes sense to me.