RED LIPSTICK, LEATHER JACKET
She stumbled in at quarter-past-two ––
smoky hair, wine-soaked tongue.
“Guess it would be pointless
to ask where you’ve been,” I said.
“MIND YOUR OWN
I watched her step on the cat’s tail,
fall on the stairs.
“Sure…just don’t kill the cat."
“I’m so fucking sick of you.
Piss off! JUST LEAVE!”
My next words were already out
before I could restrain them:
“You look like a damn prostitute.”
I sat there listening to her slurred insults
for the next three hours:
a punishment so grim
it made a death sentence seem
like child's play.
On your way home from work,
you stop at a liquor store for smokes.
You walk in, point to a pack,
and the clerk rings it up.
When you open your wallet,
out fall your photos ––
the girl who left you
for a guy named Dick.
You pick up the photos
and stick them behind
your Social Security card:
the constant, little reminder
that you are merely a number.
One number out of billions.
A speck of shit on a cockroach’s ass.
Your wallet is thin,
so you pull out your credit card:
another unwanted reminder ––
this time, of your debt-induced gloom ––
your rundown loft without heat,
your wardrobe of clothes
(all stained and torn),
the broken dishwasher,
the rat nest in the bathroom,
the overdue rent, the landlord’s rage ––
for you today?” asks the clerk.
“Yes ––” you say,
“a pint of Everclear.”
VISITING KEVIN AT HIS FRAT HOUSE
The sun was about to come up
and most us were ready for sleep.
I hate to admit this,
but I didn't even realize Kevin was gone
until one of the macho frat boys asked,
"Hey, boss, what's up with your friend?"
"Boss?" I asked, walking toward the staircase
where Macho Man pointed.
I yelled down: "Yo! Kevin, what're you doing?"
No answer –– so I walked down the creaky steps,
made my way to the cellar in my wine-drunk daze.
A gathered crowd circled a pool table.
Kevin was under there, one hand over his eyes,
the other yanking at his hair.
“This kid is high on something,” someone said.
"Get, away, get away, get away!" Kevin
shrieked like a maniac.
I rushed over, pushing my way through the crowd.
"Kev? What's going on? What’s wrong?"
He uncovered one eye and looked at me.
"You've been my friend since grade school, dude.
You know exactly what is wrong:
the same thing that's always been wrong."
I let my memory drag me back
to an autumn day in 8th grade.
Kevin and I were in his bedroom
when he first tried to kiss me
with his black-and-blue lips.
I turned him down, like the bastard I am.
But now that we're older, I wish I were gay.
And the night of the party,
I wish I had crawled underneath that pool table
and stripped off my clothes
and made love to Kevin in front of everyone.
And the homophobic frat boys
would have started puking all over each other
and everything would have been beautiful.
But I'm not gay, and that is the problem.
So there he sat, completely alone,
belly full of pills ––
higher than the expectations of a twisted society,
sadder than the four walls
of a hospital waiting room ––
my friend: the most colorful creature
in a world with no eyes.