Kaladis in a Starbucks cup
she's the reverse, cursed
yuppie sans yup
terse in verse
Titles are out to get me -
I'm always full of post-drinking paranoid-thinking.
Highs and Lows
The first time I got high was outside of a bar called Taproot. A collection of bearded musicians and a wooden dance floor that seemed to attract older men like my date, trying to impress impressionable young women, like I used to be. There were many pairs of us, but somehow I felt elite, sitting next to my brooding companion. We were by far the handsomest, of that I was smugly certain.
It was winter, but the hipster-local-who-cares-cocktails I had consumed kept me warm when we went outside - snowing though it was. A jacket would cover the appeal of my outfit - my trap for his eyes. His eyes never needed much ensnaring, they flittered around recklessly even then.
His Chevrolet truck - with the covered back where he kept the dogs he walked for a living - was open at the driver’s side. I was soon against the door - swooning under whiskey lips and feeling heady from the thrill of being desired. He pulled back - lids heavy, and produced a joint from his flannel breast pocket. I was delighted by every cliché. I fell for his jungle colors, his peacock spread.
I was a novice then, and so his taste for my lips and my lack of knowledge lead to an exchange. He blew the smoke within me - again and again - watched me expel it into the night air. The fiddle that played in the background of our embraces called my attention now - as did the gaze of the door guard. A full figured man - he peered at our exchange, and I supposed he had watched many couples in this manner - too drunk to notice his leer. Fresh from the country, every detail of this shoddy part of town enthralled me - made me feel like a bold city girl.
My date noticed the fat man’s observation, and pulled me to him again. It was a performance - I couldn’t recognize then that this display was more for the guard’s benefit than mine. It was this night that I went home with him, the night of my surrender - exchange of flesh. A step more severe for me than for him, of that I was aware.
We were woken the next morning by a knock - followed without much pause by an open door - for which his roommate seemed embarrassed. I covered myself, blushing. My lips were swollen from kissing, I felt them with my fingertips as my date cursed his roommate. The roommate, a shy boy - was just short of writhing in his discomfort.
“I’m sorry man, she just came in.”
From behind him, a woman stepped forth, closer to my date’s age than mine. I stared back defiantly from his bed on the floor, though my date began to sputter and collect himself. I’m embarrassed for that stare now. She said nothing, but my boxer-clad companion followed her out the door.
In my naivety I allowed him to embrace me again when he returned, no questions asked or answered. Foolish men thrive on foolish girls.
Foolish girls let foolish men tell them to ignore their intuition, ignore their observations.
I did not stop being a foolish girl until I found myself at his door, peering in at him and a face that didn’t belong to me - who stared back at me with a familiar rosy defiance.
Who is the Devil?
“Cross God one time, and you will be depicted forever as a bloodied goat man - but I’m the evil one.”
She crossed and uncrossed her legs.
Indeed, the young woman across from me was not unpleasant to look at. She was plain looking, mousy even.
If I had been told that the devil were a woman, my mind would have filled with a vision of a Delilah temptress, forked tongue slipping in my ear while I quivered with waning resistance.
Alas - no swirling smoke, no hopping henchmen. Dressed in crimson satin, a woman devil of my imagination would convince me to do vile things with whimsy.
The woman across from me was buttoned down, no cleavage or flitting eyelashes. She looks like a mom. I try to keep my suspicion, any fool could guess that this was naught but a trick. Blue blouse and khakis did not an innocent make.
“Oh, this isn’t my normal form, this is a rental especially for you.”
A wink, there it was - the trickster was out to play. Ignoring that Lucifer was reading my unexpressed thoughts - I was filled with disgust. This woman possessed, to be used and discarded like some puppet.
“Don’t you recognize me?”
Staccato laughter burst from her, drawing the attention of the tables around us. It was that laugh that began the chill, which poured over my skin like oil.
“This is my fault, I tend to indulge in theatrics.”
She began to change. Sallow shrinking greying meat - half of her face ripped up with a violence, showing bloodless flesh - she laughed again, the laughter strange sounding from behind flapping skin. It was then that I saw the tire marks, which crawled up across her chest before me.
“Remember me now?”
I had tried to forget. Spread on pavement in the dark - I hadn’t gotten a good look. Besides, I had been very drunk.
Everything pours out of me,
sand in an arthritic hand -
but nothing is poured in you see,
'cept weed and wine and vanity.
Just one more sip -
I'm almost done, don't give me lip.
"Just bitch and whine!"
"I told you, I'm fine."
I do not seek adjustment - I can only hope to wait out his whiskey. My husband is more malevolent these days.
"I'm fine." He used to say, before I stopped believing him.
He seemed fine, fit and functional - who am I to question method? I am no virgin to dysfunction.
My mother said the same. Father too, fine as well, broken glass - drunk as hell.
Wives are different than daughters, they're drowned by husbands in darker waters.
To Take the Fall (excerpt)
She was in air for a fitful moment, but gravity soon interrupted. A vision of legs and lavender fabric collided with earth -
The noise escaped her with the impact, a betrayal of her pride by her body. Her arms followed her legs in a manner equally unceremonious - flailing for orientation.
At once she was still, slapped breathless by the fall. A cloud of dirt held the air above her, and she had every appearance of being dead. The group of men that surrounded her waited curiously, the possibility of her expiration being of little consequence to them. They fidgeted quietly, sleepy-eyed and indifferent.
Lilith was not however, dead; and as her lungs expanded and reclaimed her chest, she coughed fitfully for the dust. She sat up. The men in the circle did not move save for the occasional curious glance at the figure responsible for Lilith’s condition. King Henrick Kane, Lord of this realm, such as it was - continued his surly observation from the deck. He had not moved since launching Lilith off the porch by two fistfuls of her dress.
This King had a penchant for rattling cages. Cruelty - impervious to any counter, a royal indulgence. Preening in self admiration, he ran his palms across his temples and back over an oily sheen of black hair.
Henrick’s henchman - though that term seemed generous - were silent still, some swaying slightly in the breeze of the morning. The collective of their odors was representative of an excess in spirits, and an absence of hygiene. This could be said of their appearance as well, each man looking more like a criminal caricature than the last. They seemed bored by this midmorning drama.
Lilith pulled her legs and dress beneath her - concerned more with hiding her weapon than protecting her modesty. Her dignity, though valuable to Lilith - had proven less useful as of late. It was then that she saw the broken body in the dirt beside her. A familiar man, dead - a bloody broken head. The diplomat!
Her eyes widened,
“What have you done?”
Her voice was hollow, and she paused at the weight of this discovery. The man was a barbarian, and his life was of no sentimental value to her - but he was the political face of a tribe sick with bloodlust. The entire village would answer for this transgression. She stood to face the King, who smiled at her -
“I have done nothing.”
Something in his tone alarmed her. King Henrick continued,
“He was poisoned, some sort of hag’s brew I’m sure. Perhaps in his coffee, I don’t know your methods precisely.”
Her mouth fell open at the lie, and his smile grew wider, delighted by his own performance,
“He fell off his horse once it took effect, and his head was smashed upon a rock. I saw it myself.”
But it wasn’t true, the diplomat was firmly on his horse before Henrick had struck him with the bottle. Half of the hunting party had seen it, and they snickered now from within the ranks. They - much like Henrick, had a penchant for inflicting misery.
“The village already knows you killed one man, what’s another?”
Lilith was breathless - stunned. Though Henrick had unfairly summarized her crime, it was true that many in the village would accept his lie happily - rumors and reputations as they were. The ringing in her ears grew louder, and she shook her head.
“You can’t --”
“Silence, witch. I am still speaking.”
His need for control was palpable.
“You have served me well in your time here, and thus I will allow you one hour.”
She opened her mouth to speak again, and he raised a silencing finger.
“Confess your crime to his people, or I will add the charge of witchcraft. If you do not confess within the hour, you will face justice by my hand.”
His hand would show no mercy, of that she was certain. The king pointed then, gesturing to the forest across the lawn behind Lilith and his men. She turned - wordless, as words would be of no use to her now - and began across the lawn, gathering the front of her dress in hand. Her heart raced in preparation for flight, but Lilith did not want to give him the satisfaction of seeing her bolt in terror. She fought the storm of adrenaline within her.
It was only moments after that there was a shrill whistle - followed by raucous laughter from the fools behind her. A low sound in the distance grew louder, recognition stopped her heart cold - a howl. A damning sound. Instinct took over, and she began to run, her bare feet padding the grass with increasing pace.
The king threw a final taunt before she disappeared into the trees -
“It would seem my hounds cannot measure an hour!”
Your laughter has static -
tickles a piece of my brain.
but you - you laugh,
and by your pain I am baffled.
Protection From a Stranger (excerpt)
Though she felt the weight of her gaze, Lilith ignored her. Poor attempts to get her attention - cough, cough. What a pest this woman was. She supposed that cough was a hint. Impending danger did nothing to quell the petty annoyance swelling within her.
Shifting the papers before her, her hands disrupted the pool of smoke that had spilled from the glass piece and onto the desk. Lilith had the ritual and charm practiced, but still, she was nervous. She took a sip of liquor from the muddy-colored glass beside her.
She lifted the pipe again, and Lucille could no longer refrain, rising from her chair,
“Lilith, if you do not extinguish that now...”
“Big talk from a woman who needs protection from her own mother.”
Lilith was wry, but her taunt did nothing to lighten the air, which was heavy with smoke and fear.
Lucille’s expression, having previously held prim - darkened, “I told you, that thing, whatever it is -- it is no longer my mother. Whatever I spoke to, whatever monster sitting behind those eyes, it was a stranger. Something has consumed her.”
She stepped before Lilith at the desk, her tone low and clipped, “I assume you know what a blow it is to my pride, coming to you with this...problem.” She eyed Lilith - continuing, “Considering my previously held opinions on the validity of your...talents, I am grateful for your help.” She swatted at a fresh plume of smoke from Lilith, who nodded - drawing again from the pipe.
“But - given the potential danger of this encounter - wouldn’t some lucidity be advantageous?” She raised her eyebrows at Lilith, who now held an indulgence per hand. The stranger had been tracking Lucille for days now, and the frailty of her composure was apparent, even in her condescension.
“I am lucid.”
Lilith felt no obligation to explain her methods to someone who had - until yesterday, decried her as a fraud. Only her severe pragmatism had brought Lucille here, and only by the end of her own rope.
Lucille opened her mouth to argue, but was interrupted by a scratching at the door. Lilith leapt to her feet. Liquid bravado and all, she felt ice crawl up her spine.
There was a shrill muttering at the door then, feverish and unnatural.
Lilith’s stomach twisted violently. She looked to Lucille, whose face was bloodless. Lilith lifted her hands, which had clutched the wooden ledge of the desk with such vigor that her knuckles were white.
They locked eyes then, and Lilith tightened the leather strap at her waist. They both stepped to the door, and the stranger behind door grew silent at their approach. Lucille's hand hovered above the handle, and she looked to Lilith, who nodded.
They did their best to ignore the low cackle that broke the silence.
“Open the door.”