Stark naked, she runs in noiseless screams
fading trails of destiny wisp across sky
the moon sets in silence behind her fears
her blood bleeds colorless grains of time
full moon floods lights on desperate soul
rotating columns of light twist and spin
we’re all the same, we’re all alone
somber and deep cries of ebony skies
walking barefoot on husks of crushed stars
golden wine of moon poured on her sorrows
moon’s fiery brow of incestuous affinity
urges her to yield to endless tomorrow of sleep
moon devours her soul and then spits it out
we’re all the same, we’re all alone
It wouldn’t tie right. No matter how he tried, it wouldn’t do right. The shirt was too big, first off. The collar was too big around for his neck, just like the pants were big, but they might shrink, or he could grow. Better too big, he reasoned when he bought them, than too small. He wished he had something other than the cowboy boots to wear with the pants, but he only had the boots, or his running shoes. The boots were better, he reckoned, and looked similar to the pointy shoes the businessmen wore.
The mirror was not kind. He had set a wet washcloth on top of his head while he worked on the tie, but the tie just wouldn’t do right. It was times like this that he wished he’d had a daddy. A daddy could have shown him how to tie it right, but his daddy was long gone, and it wasn’t likely that he would ever come back.
The washcloth on top of his head was on account of his cow-lick. Sometimes a wet washcloth was enough to hold the cow-lick down... sometimes. He hoped that today would be a “sometime”, so he wore the wet washcloth while he tied the tie, but the tie was a son-of-a-bitch. It just wouldn’t do right, no matter how he twisted it around, nor which direction. Droplets of water fell from the corners of the washcloth, soaking the too-big shirt.
He got the tie done-up the best he could and stepped back to look. His nose was a little wide, his lips pouty below dark brows beetled over soft, kind eyes. Above the brows a wild shock of black hair was being tamed by the wet washcloth. Looking at himself, he wondered what in the world he was thinking, buying new clothes? He was never going to impress anyone. Even with the brand new shirt and tie there was something missing, some unknown secret to dressing well that was beyond him. It was the tie, he thought. It would not tie right. He would never look like those men she seated on the sidewalk, those men who looked so proper, and important in their shirts and spectacles. Maybe some glasses would make him look older, or wiser? Mother had some “readers” in her sewing basket!
He watched her from his park bench of a morning, the blue pigeons pecking at his running shoes and laces while he watched. She worked at the cafe across the way, showing the beautiful people with their fancy clothes to whichever table she might choose for them. She was always the one to choose, and she always knew just the right one for every particular people. Before they sat she would carefully wipe the morning pollen from the tables and chairs with a clean, white, magical towel that never dirtied. She would leave them then, returning with coffees and beignets to their street-side tables. She was most beautiful in her short, white skirt and black shoes. She would leave the coffee and curtsy the table, allowing the beautiful people to sip and nibble while she prepared the next table. He watched her there every day, working at the cafe. He watched her pour the coffee and curtsy as the cars and the bicycles passed between them, going where they would. She poured and she smiled at everyone. That was how he fell in love, watching her. “How nice it would be,“he thought as he watched, “to be sitting at one of those tables on the sidewalk sipping and nibbling, instead of being across the street on a park bench with pigeons pecking your feet? How truly beautiful she must look up close, where you could see the white of her teeth and the pink of her lips when she smiled? His heart raced at the thought, and he knew he must do it, even though it was a different world over there, an entirely different world he would be entering only a street away!
He removed the washcloth, only to have the cow-lick spring back. He combed it as straight as possible and headed out early, when there were few customers. He only had seven dollars, and two of it was change, but he had checked the prices on the board by the gate. Seven dollars would buy coffee and beignets. That was really high, but he suspected that part of the added charge was in having “her” seat you and fuss over you. That must certainly make it worth something!
He stepped up to the gate. His heart beat against his chest so that he was afraid that people could see it. His tongue became thick and dry, like it did not even belong in his own mouth. He saw her. She was coming his way, wearing that same smile he had seen her wear for so many others. His head grew light, so light that he felt feint. She was speaking, but he could not hear for the rush in his ears. “Al fresco?” He didn’t know what she was saying. Everything was happening fast... so very fast.
He felt a hand pressing his bicep, pulling him to his senses. “This way, Honey. Follow me.” She started walking. His legs followed of their own accord, as he did not have the power to make them go. She took him to the center table, along the railing, the very best table. His heart returned to it’s normal rythms. She brought the coffee and danish without his even having asked for it, as if she knew what it was he had come for.
When she was gone he watched the bicycles pass, and the cars, and he felt very proud to have the center table, the best table. He sat very straight so that everyone passing him would see him there, and see that he was important, that he was somebody. He did not want to eat, as he would have to go when it was gone, so he ate slowly, dipping the beignet in the coffee when no one was looking so that the coffee then dribbled down the front of his shirt. Across the way he saw his bench in the park. An old man was seated there, tossing crumbs to the pigeons. The bench looked very close from here, and he realized that “she” had probably seen him sitting there many times. She could hardly have helped it. She might have even guessed that he was watching for her. She looked older up close, but still beautiful, perhaps even more beautiful for the confidence her age afforded her. His heart accelerated once more, so that he cursed it and the shame the erratic thing had nearly brought upon him, and that it might yet bring.
She returned. “Was everything to your satisfaction, sir?”
Unable to find his voice, he dug into his pocket and tossed his money on the table, suddenly afraid that it might not be enough. She carefully picked it up, every penny, and handed it back. “That won’t be necessary. It is on the house.”
He was ashamed. Somehow she knew that he didn’t have the money. “The manager comes in every day at ten o’clock. You may come in one day per week, any day you like, before ten o’clock and I will see that you get coffee and a beignet so long as you are wearing the tie.” She winked at him.
She was treating him like a child. This was unacceptable. He stood. He could almost look her eye to eye, if he stood on his toes. “But it is not the danish that I love, it is you.” He could hardly believe he said it, but it had to be said! He looked at her through wide, but determined eyes. Her smile was gone, her face very serious now.
His heartbeat slowed as it pumped chilled blood. She started to walk away, but then stopped. She looked back over her shoulder, only her head turning to face him, that beautiful face looking back only for him. “I know that, Silly-boy, but shouldn’t we be friends, then?”
And she was gone.
Feeling alone is a hollowness,
A void that feels unfilled;
It is despair,
A feeling that no one cares;
Feeling alone is like a darkness,
So black that it seems to suffocate
It is heartache,
For you weren't always that way
Feeling alone is like a bubble,
Others are around, but apart
It is death,
As in the end, we all leave this way
Two miniscule scabs on the upper chest, near my shoulder joints on both sides, indicate a paravertebral nerve block. This would explain why I couldn’t feel my chest, torso, or either arm. I came out of the anesthesia in a fog, a nurse sitting at the end of my bed smiled at me.
“Are my teeth blue?” she asked. The nurse, whose name I either wasn’t given or forgot entirely, displayed teeth that looked an icy blue, but I couldn’t tell if it was because of the light or if her teeth were actually blue. I had been conscious for approximately forty seconds. There was an awkward ache in my chest, something cold. I debated bringing this up to the woman.
“I-I’m sorry?” I was groggy and couldn’t feel anything. I was sipping ginger ale from a can through a straw and have no recollection as to either how it was placed in my hand or where it came from.
“I just had a blue raspberry slushie. Wanted to make sure my teeth weren’t blue.” She smiled again, okay, her teeth were definitely blue, probably, the room was darker than I expected it would be. She stood up. “Great, you’re awake, that’s step one.”
She gestured to a checklist on the wall. "Five steps here. Step one, wake up. Step two, drink at least six ounces of a liquid and keep it down." She gestured to the soda can I was holding. "And it looks like you're doing a pretty good job so far. Three, stand up out of bed. Four, take a short walk. Five is just getting your discharge paperwork. So you're twenty percent of the way there." The blue-toothed nurse checked off the first box, then turned to face me. "Do you need anything?"
"I had some friends who came with, I don't know where they've gone."
"Oh. I'm sure they're at the cafeteria or something. Try not to worry too much, I'm sure they'll be back." She headed for the doorway, covered by a curtain whose numerous designs were bordering on the obnoxious. "Just press your call button if you need anything." The nurse flitted through the doorway, curtain barely waving in her wake.
And then I was alone, surrounded by the sounds of medical equipment, the constant announcement of an EKG, and scurrying nurses and doctors on the other side of the doorway. Not much to do other than lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to fall back asleep. Turns out, it's much easier to do that when you've got lidocaine, fentanyl, and propofol all in your bloodstream. I was shivering - this is commonplace after being under anesthesia - and I was having trouble moving my arms.
I could overhear a nurse at the centre station talking on the phone. Someone had a surgery scheduled for eight o'clock the next morning, so they had to be at the hospital by six. I was not envious of their timetable. I tried to orient myself in the room, which was arranged as such: directly in front of me, an off-white curtain hung from the ceiling with multicoloured blocks and rectangles covering it from ceiling to floor. It was unappealing and filled me with an irrational anger the longer I looked at it. On the hallway side of the curtain was a doorway with two glass doors at opposite ends; they could close in the centre if needed but were opened to allow for ease of access. There was a single bar of fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling, running from the doorway back to the wall behind me, flanked by recessed bulbs mirroring the fluorescents. The recessed lights were on, thankfully; I have a minor abhorrence for fluorsecent lighting and at any rate it would probably have made me ill. A television on the wall to my right; it was on some sort of telescoping arm, but I didn't bother with it much. Never been one for television. A stock photo of a beach, framed at the centre of the right wall. My bed was in the centre of the room, headboard close to the wall behind me, two long and narrow windows flanking me. Various medical equipment sat behind me: the aforementioned EKG machine, anesthesia machinery, to be perfectly honest I wasn't totally sure what was there as I didn't have the energy to move my head and torso to get a good look. To my left: a door, theoretically leading to a bathroom, and the checklist that would determine how long I was planted in this manner. Still no sight, or sound, of my platonic caretakers. Where was the cafeteria in this hospital anyway?
I never was a fan of hospitals. My father died in one, decades ago, and alone, the victim of cancer treatment. He had gone under the knife to remove cancerous tumours from his throat and neck and, while the surgery was a success, the treatments caused his carotid artery to weaken and, ultimately, burst. That can lend itself to a somewhat irrational fear in a healthy young woman that she will die in similar fashion. I could feel the walls closing in, and it was harder to breathe. I felt the ginger ale bubble up to the back of my throat and tried to swallow it down. I couldn't hear the EKG, but I felt my pulse throughout my body. Fingertips, toes, a throbbing headache, and in each incision on my chest. I felt sick, and reached for the paddle to my right that had a large red button at the end, trying to signal for a nurse, blue-toothed or otherwise. No responding light, vibration, or sound, so I pressed it again. And again. I pulled on the paddle, and it jumped into the air, an errant plug flying at the end, landing with a sharp thump on the freshly-stitched incision on the left side of my chest. I cried out, but no one came. The bed suddenly became hard, every movement accosted by sharp needles. I pulled on the call paddle by the plug, pulled it off of me, pulled it toward the bedrail, and let it clatter to the floor. Staff and patients would pass in the hallway every few minutes, yet none of them stopped. I felt my limbs grow heavy, body still throbbing with pain, and let my head roll back, falling asleep.
I came to some hours later, no one in the room. The check on the board had been erased, and the recessed lights were brighter. It was dark outside, and still no one had come to see me. The plug of the call paddle was caught in the bedrail; I pulled on it, pulling the paddle into bed, and then threw it at the curtain. It disappeared through the fabric and made contact with either a cart or the opposing wall, a dull thud against an impenetrable object. A hand threw back the curtain, and the formerly blue-toothed nurse came back in.
"You're still here?"
"I'd like to go home."
"You can't leave until all of these checkmarks are gone."
"Two of those should be gone, technically."
"You fell back asleep."
"I couldn't get in touch with anyone. What time is it?"
"Did my friends ever show up?"
"What are their names?"
"Loreli and Sam."
"Oh. They came back, yeah, stayed for a few hours. Must have left not too long ago."
"I suppose so."
"Can I call them?"
"Do you have a phone?"
"I thought I left it with one of them."
"It might be best for you to stay the night, then."
"But how will I know when they come back?"
"If they come back, we'll send them to your room."
"I'd really like to be able to make a phone call."
"You can't even keep yourself awake. When you can keep yourself awake, we can start the process again, and then maybe you can call someone."
"Can you stay with me, at least?"
"There are other patients in recovery, I'm sorry."
"I really don't like being in hospitals alone. I thought they would have stayed."
"I guess they had to go home."
"I can't, I'm sorry. There's a television in the corner to keep you company."
I looked at the nurse. Her smile had gone. She seemed stern-faced, thin-lipped. "Okay."
"Just call if you need anything," she said, turning to the curtain.
"The call button doesn't work."
"The nurses' station is just across the hall."
"When you can walk to the nurses' station, we'll get some of those checkboxes filled, okay?"
"Okay." I was looking at the ceiling, trying not to cry. Spending the night, alone, in a hospital did not quite fill me with joy. "Can I get some water, at least?"
"I'll have someone bring you some water, sure."
"Okay." She started to walk through the curtain. "Thank you," I uttered, voice barely above a whisper. The nurse had disappeared, lights dimming as she left. All that remained was the light diffused by the curtain, casting a sickly warm glow in the room. My stomach flipped again, and my palms became sweaty. I cried out, hoping someone would hear. But no one came.
I continued to cry, and no one continued to come.
Waking to Silence
...or quiet, really.
the smell of a chill early rise,
a pond, stilled by passing time.
Blue sky stretched along the horizon,
suns rays erased the stars —
and the scars of cars in flight,
save themselves for another night.
A book. A tree. The distant hum inside me.
Blink of a firefly,
the beacon of a lighthouse as it scrapes by.
Calling it “house” instead of “home,”
three beeps when you’re on the phone,
walking around with both earphones.
on my own.
a glass of alone
It's a watermelon smoothie
Taste crisp and refreshing
Tip back the glass and
Feel the cold stretching
Sinking then slithering
Deep into your chest
Breathe no more
A lasting, choked rest
A poison drink
That dripping sink
You hear every leak of water
It rings through your soul
An empty black hole
Waiting so kindly for slaughter
Made of Stone
You who knows nothing but thinks so highly of yourself,
You who damns those you say you love to pain,
You who thinks life is a toy for you to squander,
You who takes the heart of your wife and unborn child and sets them to flame.
You who deprives the woman that loves you of the one thing she ever wanted,
You who forced a mother to become a murderer,
You who leaves her to suffer alone,
You and your callous heart made of stone.
Darkness is a Straw
A billion people and your voice isn’t heard
Hopes squashed beneath a faceless herd
Your heart beats softer as it ebbs into decline
Darkness is a straw to suck in the sunshine
Isolation clings like a thick cold sweat
There’s no way to wash off this regret
Life buzzes all around but you’re not there
Hands pressed to glass, you watch in despair