“Guilt is doing what you want.” ~Bunny Rogers
It must have been the way the sun shone on your face, down on you. You were pressed up against the side of your car and then popped up off the side, one leg raised against the door, but even after the phonecalls, and hearing your soft, deep, Tomboy voice, now in real life, once in a phonecall:
“Do I have a deep voice?”
“Yeah, I noticed it but I didn’t want to say anything.”
“Is it weird?”
“No, I like it. It’s pretty.”
I wasn’t convinced either of your love or mine. I honestly just didn’t think I was gonna like you. I mean, I liked you enough. You told me you had feelings for me already. I cussed you out over the phone because you didn’t understand–[I’m bent over screaming down crowded 1st St. on a Sunday filled with a fervor after lifting]
“GET A GRIP BITCH, THIS ISN’T A GAME TO ME–MY HEART’S NOT WITH YOU IT’S WITH B! I NEED YOU TO PUT SOME WALLS UP AND UNDERSTAND THAT CONTINUING TO FUCK WITH ME MEANS YOU’RE GETTING A PRETTY RAW DEAL, OKAY?”
Even if B’s heart was like my heart to you and couldn’t/wouldn’t feel anything.
But now, I can see you dressed like a glossy punk from Oakland…how rich girls from CCA/Art School Dress: black boots, high socks reading ‘Metal,’ in a heavy metal font, unshaved lower legs: beautiful legs, fat calves on a tiny frame, naked legs all the way up, fat knee muscles hugging your naked knees, your quads fat, you lift–I was never able to ask how much, and then tiniest black shorts, high waisted shorts on yr tight little body, your muscley stomach covered neatly by your skin tight black shorts and underneath them the hem of bicycle shorts. I would watch intently as you turned to me without looking but smiling, I’m so into it and embarrassed but I’m keeping my cool so I’ve found a way to be overwhelmed and blushing without showing any red in my face–and you turn to me and say, “What?” and I laugh, I have to turn away, I’m blushing too hard to hide and too turned on, I turn back to you and say, “What? You’re wearing bicycle shorts. Yr wearing shorts under your shorts.” For a second I’m flattered. You put your hands back on the concrete bar top and look straight ahead, then shyly back at me: “They’re very short shorts.” These are the shorts your long legs stick out of. A knit cropped tank. A goldenrod bralet. A muted smile but big high cheeks that say everything. Your soft eyes–big, wide, almond–you are somehow the most American and the most exotic.
Your hair in a sea of waves, greying lightly, brown, in a small tight bun. You tricked me. Phonecalls expressing your affections for me. “You seem like a brave person.” “I am a brave person.” I say. I was unconvinced and my heart was w/ someone else. “What would you do if I drove up tomorrow?” And I let you. From L.A. You tricked me. I didn’t think I was going to be this in love with you. “Are we going somewhere?” you stood tall next to your car. You said it so unenthusiastically.
At the bar we both buy coffees.
“I’m lonely because I do what I want.
Even though I’m isolated, even though I’m excommunicated, I don’t miss anyone. I don’t envy anyone anymore. I mean…sometimes I get lonely but loneliness is self pity. People don’t take me seriously. They look through me. They don’t realize I have the traits of an alpha. That even though I’m struggling for my sanity…for my independence, that at my core, I have traits of a leader, and I don’t think people give me credit for it. People follow me. I lead from behind.”
We both shit talk Mitch a bit.
Both of us obviously burnt by his privacy–his way of hiding all the time.
“Mysterious” to you. Painful and boring to me. Frustrating to both of us.
You want what you can’t have. I don’t.
- You have a way of blushing. Your eyelids flutter. You’re attentive. This is where I should have become more suspicious: but became more vulnerable. Since the beginning, telling me exactly what I need to hear. Not because I need to be validated, I do, and not anymore than anyone else–but because I need to be human. And I need to be loved. And I need to be witnessed. I have been in the dark a still burning light. When someone manipulates a need:
people stigmatize it(:need) and call it independence. We could beat people over the head with the standard, that they should be providing for themselves or we could see the need for what it is and drop our guard and satisfy it. The irony of liberals is that they will vote for this philosophy in an external world via their politic but in their personal lives and relationships will still be disgusted by need, cringe, and “like the conservative” blame the poor. I let my guard down even more. I fall in love with you a little more. “Fuck Mitch.” I think. I am filled with the desire to take a photo of you, on a shallow level: because I am proud to be with you, and I feel it’s my liberty to capture an image of you…
–that the hollow act of informing Mitchell of your messages, as if he’d any right to knowledge of you/us…claim…the possessive nature of the guy…
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL? [DO UNTO OTHERS…]
Never works on me. If it was my ex you’re invited because it’s none of my fucking business anymore. I failed in that relationship. I will never get in the way of another man’s right to a chance to love. The competition is fierce, so I accept it.
That the hollow act of informing Mitchell that we’re even talking is repeating itself in the censorship of considering his feelings before capturing an image of you for IG…I feel overwhelmed with a closeness to you and I want to celebrate being with the woman I am fooled into believing is as excited to meet me as I am (now) excited to be meeting. I make the decision quickly and with commitment.
I know I said I wasn’t going to talk to her
but I’ve been talking to Makayla for a solid month.
I’m hanging out with her right now–she came up from L.A.
Seems shady to me man.
I need distance from that relationship so I’m going to have to distance myself from you.
I look up–
“What’re you doing?” you ask.
“I just told Mitchell we were hanging out.”
“What’d he say?”
I repeat the messages.
I repeat the betrayal of a friend whose history w/ me would be it’s own novel.
I feel nothing but liberated.
I feel annoyed by previous indecision.
I feel depressed.
I take a piss and come back to you with another coffee in a paper cup.
I ask you what you’re doing.
“Why are you paying for that?”
“That’s why I ordered it while you were gone.”
- In Japantown: white wooden house with a low royal blue sill.
I’m stealing portraits of you without your permission.
I’m stealing portraits of you without his permission.
I ask you to get up against the wall and you tilt your hips cocky and you look tight smiled but loose into the camera. I drop to my knees first and then drop my ass to the concrete like a big kid, and I’m smiling so huge, trying to frame you in this square on my phone, and you laugh and I take too long, so you start walking off, out of the frame…
“Oh my God, that’s perfect. Go back. I want you walking out of the frame. Go back. 1…2…3…start walking.”
You walk out of the frame with a smile on your face.
I will watch this happen again.
It’s a metaphor.
It’s hardly a metaphor.
“Now one of your socks.”
Turn your feet into a perfect model.
Yr unshaved calves, starting to get furry.
I’m in love.
A photo of your boots and high socks.
‘Metal,’ in a heavy metal font.
- “Where are we going?
Why aren’t you taking me to eat?”
“ I thought you weren’t hungry…where do you want to eat?
There’s this Chinese place.” I point to a house.
“Why is there a Chinese place in Japantown?”
And we walk into what looks like a house with an english sign with that cheap Chinese font in red. We open the door and find immediately nothing but a beaten carpeted staircase in two sections. A large Mexican family creeping up slowly in front of us. I feel reluctant–and embarrassed by my village: my fucked up life that has left me shit talking everyone in it and somehow likely the last to leave. We walk upstairs and find the restaurant to be pathetic. It looks like a church picnic–inside a dingy beaten house, where the single occupied room is humiliating for both the restaurant and it’s patrons. I freeze at the top of the stairs with my jaw slightly open making a huge, long, “Uhhh…” sound. Makayla looks around unphased and even though she probably was making her harsh judgements was able to contain them and intently focus on a menu–she looked at it for a really long time, and she looked happy reading it but then slowed for too long,
“Ay, do you want to go somewhere else?” I asked, “Like is this okay. We should go somewhere nicer.”
“What?” She looked up. “No, it’s fine…it’s just…dietary restrictions.”
“Are you vegan?!”
“No, I’m vegetarian though.”
We walked out.
I bumped into your shoulders.
I held your hands and lifted them in an arc.
I headbutt you in your stomach playfully like a little bull.
“What are we doing? Why aren’t you FEEDING ME?” you say.
As we walk through the mostly unoccupied Japantown.
I’d ask you a million times over if you want to go somewhere nicer.
“Are you sure you don’t want to get Thai? Is this tacky to you? Is this nice enough? Is this nice enough?” You’re not my woman but I have to think of this day/night as if it were the embodiment of our entire relationship. I have to treat you like you’re alive. I have to treat you like you’re going to die. Like we’re already married. Like we’re already in love because any lesser treatment is blasphemy to the spirit of a woman/man. I hate the disposable nature of the casual user. “There’s this vegan place Good Karma…they microwave their food tho.”
“Oh. Weird. Okay.”
- At the restaurant they’re playing free jazz. It’s infuriating. The bar is cramped. The owner is drunk. The bartender is really talkative and everyone’s bored so they’re eavesdropping on our conversation about fucking…
“Is this okay? This isn’t tacky to you?”
And we both know it’s tacky.
But you’re understanding, lovingly looking at the menu, at the bar still acting like I’d ever allow you to pay. We order, I pay, we clean our plates and find a lull in conversation horrifying because of the “jazz” playing. We both notice. “What the fuck is this playing? What a nightmare, dude.” We both laugh– “I didn’t want to say anything.”
I lead us out into the night glad to escape the oppressive diner. Hippies as business owners…veganism is a totally rational and accessible thing now so I don’t understand why we bother with all the “culture,” surrounding it. It’s for normal fucking people, dude.
You hold your arms over yourself as I get closer to you, the night is now cold to you–
“I forgot my sweater.” You say, digging thru your bag. I immediately offer you my sweater, primal act, I hand it to you, “Do you want mine?” You grab it and ask looking up intently, “Yeah, is it okay?”
“Yeah, for sure.”
And you put on my black hoody, undersized on me, huge on you somehow, and I lean in close, hood you like a monk, and then tie the drawstrings tight into a perfect bow. I should lean to kiss you but I stop and watch. I hold your hand and swing.
- You’re sitting down and I look at you, I get close to you and grab your legs by the ankles, lift them out. I stand tall and still and then hunch close to your legs like an animal, and I ask for permission, starving hungry at the fat muscles above your knees,
“Can I kiss your knees?”
You look up with a sly smile and perfect straight white teeth.
I give each knee two soft punctuated kisses one after the other.
You fall back laughing.
“You have freckles?” I sat back down and looked close.
“Do I?” you hid yourself a bit. “You have freckles!”
“Yeah, you’re my people.”
And you touch my face, over my cheeks and nose.
“In the perfect place too…” you said.
- On the drive home you a play bounce track for me.
You listen to bounce music. Hahahah!
The volume slowly rises and then you shake your ass for me from the front seat,
- “You’re welcome to spend the night if you want.”
As if she could drive home at midnight on 4 hours of sleep.
Of course she’s welcome to spend the night.
- We made it home and immediately moved to “my” room. I started stripping in the closet immediately, knowing you had a long trip back to L.A., getting ready to sleep. I couldn’t do it. I asked you if you wanted a T-shirt: It’s Tetsuo’s head being blown off in the street. The word “AKIRA” In all caps, huge red letters. You said no at first. You started stripping pretty naturally but became apprehensive, I also realized as I was getting hard at just the thought of being this exposed this close to you.
“I can’t do it.” I said.
“Yeah, I can’t either.”
You accepted the enormous T-shirt: “one of the three shirts I own.” You got undressed in the corner, “I’m putting on shorts,” I said. I stayed hidden in my closet but remained shirtless. Just the thought of us touching was enough. It’s amazing how senstive we are to the touch of another’s eyes…how my body’s called to yours just by looking, filled with the happy swelling of safety & desire.
We lay down. You scoot closer, lay on my chest, your legs over my legs. And we lay. I want to kiss you but you stay in place. It feels weird but it feels right. You move your head back and I can start to kiss you slow. The kisses are strange. They seem distant and big. Mine start slow and small. And heat builds. You fill my mouth with your mouth. And I move myself over you and kiss your neck. I lift your/my shirt up, and kiss your tight white belly, I stay here for too long because this is my favorite place to kiss a person, and then the soft of your neck, and it’s hard to look at you because it feels like an acknowledgement–like stating the obvious, but I do and I’m glad I do. I reach over every part of you, as much as I can grab I reach of you, a handful of your small soft pink breast, with nipples as faint as freckles, and quickly I find the expression limited by clothes and I peel yours away, I grab firm the rest of your bicycle shorts and yank in one sweeping motion, from in between your legs. I lean into you, my body over you, kissing you, a hand stroking your pretty cunt, gently in place, while you wriggle out of my shirt. For some reason and partially to my disappointment we don’t bother with foreplay, “I want you to fuck me.”
And I kneel to strip and find myself between your legs to fill you, and your face is turned into celebration. Submission to satisfaction, head titled back, curls loose and long, a faint blushing, a mouth just slightly opened, with a sound punctuated: breath, “ah,” gasps, more noticeable by how breath wants to escape but the sensation won’t allow, hiccups–and your eyes turned down and cold with focus.
I ask you to make the sound louder. “Louder.” I say. “LOUDER.” We exhaust ourselves. I drink from you, lapping till you come. You shake in my mouth. You turn away from me on top of me. I fill you from behind and you look wild over your shoulder at me. Ready to explode. I pull a hand as far back as I can and slap your ass red. You stop, shiver in pain, and make a mouse noise, a squeak. “OH MY GOD ARE YOU OKAY? I JUST HURT YOU.” “Yeah…” “OH MY GOD, I’m sorry–I didn’t want to actually hurt you…I thought you liked it.” “You wanted to.” I rise to you and hold you around yr stomach. Then the most fevered passion–and I can’t perform. I pull out.
And we separate. And then we fall together again. You stroking my cock and then filling your mouth with me and taking me in with such love. I can tell you’re better at sex than me. You love sex more than me. There was a part of me that knew this would happen since the beginning knowing you were spending the night and another part of me that felt I should have resisted. Something intuitive sensing it was a mistake. That love doesn’t develop this quickly. That bodies lie. That I might by lying. I couldn’t come. You leaned up in bed and pet your own hair on your side.
“You look like an art model.”
Your big high hips. Your tummy’s curve into them.
“Like a Roman statue?”
“Yeah, like a sculpture.”
And you pet your hair which seems so out of character for someone so stripped down. I forget women are women sometimes. Part of me is nervous and empty. Part of me is happy. Part of me is distant, depressed. I want to understand you but you still seem hidden. How for all your “honesty,” I am intuitively sensing resistance. The resistance is mutual. You pass out with your cunt rubbing gently against my thigh and I pass out with a palm full of your tight white ass in my hands.
- The thing about spending the moments of time before you know you’re never going to see a person again is that you have a different kind of conversation: none. You stay there silently working on sustaining a sense of resolve & joy which isn’t exactly fighting tears in your eyes…all words are too strong, right? People think that it’s sentimental to connect with people you’ve met in a day. Fucked in a day. It’s just a good time. Except with you it’s not, it’s not a good fucking time. Because now I like you. I’m oblivious to our future wreckage at the time but shouldn’t have been. Conversation turns to Mitchell. Political correctness. Music. How’d you reject a guy in a Tool shirt. And then Mitchell again. I’m gullible again so I’m listening. We drain the coffee and you remind yourself to leave. I laugh. I lift your legs up and kiss your knees goodbye.
- A text from you:
“I dont think I want to hook up again considering Mitch.”
It’s been a day. “Hook up.” The words disgusted me. I was filled immediately with rage. I clenched my teeth–and my stomach sank–and a knot in my throat emerged with an addict’s need for a primal scream. I want to scream at you. “I never want to give my body to another woman again.” The loudest thought. You don’t know shit about me and you don’t know shit about men. And how they’re exactly like women. That it’s possible to feel used. That I’m letting you in as much as you think you’re letting me in. My body is not public property. It’s for everyone but it’s not for everyone. Do you have no foresight? You robbed me you fucking cunt. Another nostalgic bitch looking for a brief vacation from the unresolved grief of past partners.
“You’re a fucking snake. And a passive aggressive.”
“You’re assuming the worst. My feelings, like your feelings changed.”
And I am reminded of but still having trouble truly believing Hanlon’s Razor.
“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, neglect, or misunderstanding.”
I hate you.
I hate you.
I fucking hate you.
I didn’t need to fuck you to realize how I felt.
My feelings changed when I saw you.
When I met you.
When I kissed your knees you fucking cunt.
“Maybe we can be friends when my feelings are sorted out.”
Again, as if I am on hold/in the wake of your indecision. It takes two seconds to think–I made the decision quickly based off of how I felt and stuck with it despite the feelings being mixed. I’m not some delusional obsessive. I don’t care who you fuck or call or commit to away from me. I don’t care if you still love another man as long as you keep those filthy fucking feelings away from me. Away from us. Our relationships beauty and potential shattered on a superficial Narcissist’s guilt. Now you feel guilty? You knew who I was to him. You knew who I was. You knew who you were to him. Tell me I’m too poor to date. I’ll understand. The sex wasn’t good. I’ll understand. You can’t date me because of my politics. I’ll understand. Masked in morals: greed. You wanted what you wanted. You got it. And now you can feel bad. And look good. For nobody. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
I send you a string of texts:
“You don’t deserve it
because you don’t deserve my anger
I’m having this fantasy
where I find you in a public place
and when I find you
I publicly announce to a crowd
of unconcerned people that
‘I’m going to assault this woman.’
I strip you of all your clothes,
tearing them apart/from your body
and I hand them back to you to hold
and I escort you out by your neck.”
I’m forgetting you’ve taken Krav Maga classes.
“You’re not interested in reason.
You’re not listening to me.
This is emotional abuse.
I’m blocking your number.”
- As a commitment to self a centralization of my power and celebration of my body, I’ve been lifting for 6 months. Stripped of all humanity. Used as a consumable or experience, I decided to take a photo. It’s a nude selfie. Posed with a sociopathic stoicism, and a creeping evil smile on my face, my revenge and reclamation: a new slope to a thicker neck. A fuller thicker chest. Snake-belly white arms bulging. The legs of a horse. And my small dick prominently displayed. For both Twitter and Instagram with the caption:I DON’T WANT ANYTHING BAD ENOUGH TO ABANDON MYSELF EVER AGAIN.
- I don’t envy anyone.
I don’t miss anyone.
Loneliness is self pity. Don’t waste my time with it.
Weightlifting will mean more to me than you ever will.
Because I will always have myself.
Weightlifting will always mean more to me than art
because I like myself the most.
His poetry and stories have appeared in The Scrambler, Metazen, and Hobart. He’s author of the books ‘Dumb Stuttering Free,’ and ‘Your Aeon.’