Thursday, June 01, 2006

an old fish

this one dates back from ye olden dayes during high school...bordering on ten years now...but i had a few reasons for digging it up, so here it be:

A dry place

You could spot him on corners, whenever you were wandering vaguely down streets, going nowhere in particular; he would be contemplating a sidewalk somewhere, always lounging against a curb or perched the wrong way on a bench. He stood out, no matter what manic crowd he was wearing away, gleaming with the reflections of the air on his icy skin, his blue eyes changing tones with the sky, mirroring low gray clouds or collected storm drops or blazing sun, or the dark and deep flecked with pinpoints after midnight. He wore dull, heavy colors, absorbing the light or whatever ambient personae were his environment, cloth both dark and faded like a strange dream. Maybe he believed he’d blend in with the asphalt, but they set off his long pale bones like a shroud, dusty and smelling like a closet in a room stacked with spilling ashtrays. His movements were dreamlike, his sentences spoken out of sleep, but it was never quite definite if you were half-awake or he.

He traveled in convoys, or alone, but always to somewhere or from somewhere you wouldn’t want to touch for fear of permanent scars on your feet or your reflection. His companions rolled behind him, around him, like the tide, in all shapes and colors, ash-blackened and greasy or bleached, mischievous, characters your mother would watch in creeping suspicion from the window should they grace your front steps. These were bitter children, hardened and verging on sadistic at the sight of you when they knew you weren’t trapped in the core like they were; you were a satellite touching down on this boy, a probe, and they saw that you believed pathetically somewhere that one morning you’d carry him back with you.

The air of sadness around him was penetrating, pervasive, an atmosphere caught by an ethereal gravity. He’d fade, into the backdrop, unless you began to scratch out his rich secrets like a scrim forest in a grim fairy tale: his efforts at almost-lovely lyrics racked with hints of what he thought, the narrow white bones of his face untouched by raw boiling-water scars staining the nape of his neck, his lust for romance that could be discovered if you knew the things to say and the right way to gaze up at him through your eyelashes, the self-effacing humor he’d spit like bullets when he’d refer to his mother and the unreal things she had prayed for before she flew away.

To you, for whom evenings still provided excuses and cheap thrills, he was a smoking angel on the shoulder, faintly grinning and kissing your hand, a gift of affection to you, and somehow a quiet plea for balance. He was a closet romantic, pressing tiny cheap mementos into your palm with a sweet glance in his eyes and a startling flash of something else, something that was never awake enough for you to pin down precisely.

He’d throw pebbles at your window in the dark hours of the morning and wait for you to slip down and off with him, lighting your cigarettes if your hands trembled too hard with that anxious part of you. He’d come around down under your bedroom, after the rest of his world was slumped out wherever they’d landed, and only then, when he wouldn’t have to face the whiplash glares of the ones who hated you, for being or for finding him, who believed this boy was above you or you were above him or you were perfect together and that somehow terrified them. But he’d come around still, and you could always find him when you suddenly knew yourself in need of that soft hunted embrace, and you’d question your motives: were you falling for him? And in the end it never mattered, because what was there between you somehow blunted the edge of the hunger, for both of you. Or so you’d believe.

----------

You find him one night, earlier than you expect him to be roaming, and he’s drenched to the skin, his dark clothes sucking at his body to leave him a silhouette trudging in the cool rain washing lines of static over the hazy orange glow of the streetlights. You’re pounding towards home, from some room that has no importance to any story, but you’ve just now emerged from shelter and are not dripping with the storm until he clasps you between his arms in greeting, spreading his long evening in the rain in rivulets over your shoulders and back.

Where are you going?      you ask up at his eyes staring past you.

I don’t know,      and he squints against a raindrop wedged in his eyelids.      I need to go somewhere.

If I had anywhere to go I’d take you with me,     in a slow voice that stumbles under sudden resonance and the silence that follows in the damp night. For hours there’s only the sound and scent of water tumbling over the mouths of the gutters. The block is deserted; no one dares venture out into the wet air. You think, Why am I here? and murmur,     Why are you here?

There’s nowhere I’d rather be,     and the loving tone acquainted with those words is lost under the knowledge that you are only standing in the rain.

Where are you coming from?

I don’t know,     he trails off. The pause is heavy. I found a letter tonight.

Who wrote you a letter?

My girl,     and you remember that he is in love, a round green-eyed olive-skinned beauty, and suddenly for a second you’re sick with Maybe you’ve fallen hard too. You deny it, scolding your head for such notions brought on by the hour and learning of a companion drowning in an evening downpour.

He looks into your eyes at last and his face is so close in the dim ocean air that you can’t watch both pupils at once, and you flick from one to the other praying he can’t see your stubborn brain’s insistence that there is poetry here.

She can’t handle me anymore, she’s dropped away,     and his voice and your fingers ache.

Do you need to talk? I’ll listen.     And you can’t chain yourself back from wanting him to release cascades out of his head over you. You want to promise that the rain would wash the traces of him from the puddles on the sidewalk into the storm drains and away, and by morning no stranger could read by his fallen words what he’d whispered to you, and you’d take his heart in secrecy to the grave. But you say none of this, you’d give him nightmares.

No, I don’t have anything to say. I’ll just make it home and be mad in love in my room, eventually, I don’t want to weigh on you.     Portraits rise in your mind of this boy hunched in his bed, dry-eyed and going mad, hair twisted up like wet ribbons; and you know you want to sketch yourself into this picture, vaguely, afraid to be definite in oil paints and color, leaning beside him with hands crossed over his chest and your chin on the crown of his head, whispering that some girls are not meant for love—but neither are you meant for a charcoal sketch.

I can be here for you,     you begin, and have nowhere to go after this.

He breathes, small waterfalls lilting over his knotted expression and the strong bridge of his nose.

No, I don’t want to burden you. You should walk home, you don’t need to be here.     
He hugs you close, a grasp full of arms and ribcages, and you can feel the shaking deep in his stomach like the rolling of thunder over the far end of the street. And he lets you go, and weaves past.

Goodbye, love,     you say, and because you call everybody love he can’t catch the hesitations in your voice.

Sweets,     he calls you, and the shape of his back retreats into the rain. You stand there, alone with the soaked streetlights, and you can’t move. You question your sudden collapse of distance, a traveling body confronted with a black hole, and could you really truly promise you were falling? And in the end it doesn’t matter. Once, in a poem traded like a postcard, you named him a starving heart, and you know you can’t slice enough chunks out of your mass to feed him; what you can spare is far from enough. And in the end you know you’ll settle to still his thirst with the raindrops that race in streams over your neck and cheekbones and lips, or at least the words that describe these, and you’ll take the edge off his lack of love. Or so you’ll believe.

22 little fish:

Blogger romeodying swam up to say...

i have read this 5 times now and i still cant believe it
if i could only go back........

2:17 AM  
Blogger romeodying swam up to say...

here fishy, fishy, fishy

2:20 AM  
Blogger theleftsock swam up to say...

huh? go back eh? I'm not sure where I am now. Interesting stuff, I wonder if I know who it is?

11:06 AM  
Blogger jenn see swam up to say...

you might.

but it's not you, sock.

maybe i'll toss "monday philosophers" up here for you...

4:09 PM  
Blogger jenn see swam up to say...

ps: i find it ironic that it's done nothing but storm & downpour since i published this.

4:39 PM  
Blogger monkey 0 swam up to say...

jenn writes prose like poetry, she does.

you said over at scratchfiction.com that you couldn't write fiction. that obviously ain't true. but I will say you're writing too well to write fiction for the internet. if you're going to write scratch fiction (which you could obviously do), you've got to just close your eyes and type for fifteen minutes and then post it. none of this, you know, artistry.

I for one would be interested to see what words would come out if you opened up the prose spigot.

'course, you can always throw a poem at the topic tags, if one of them moves you. just don't work too hard at it or you'll make the rest of us look bad.

5:49 PM  
Blogger jenn see swam up to say...

this is the crux of my point:

is it fiction if it's based on real events? on a true story?


harhar...maybe i should say i write short historical fiction...

tell you what, if anything at all relevant happens on tuesday, i'll turn on the prose faucet & see what spews out...

6:15 PM  
Blogger romeodying swam up to say...

it keeps raining

10:10 PM  
Blogger theleftsock swam up to say...

I know for a fact its not me, I wasnt even implying that, don't put anything up here for me, and I was right about who it was.

9:09 AM  
Blogger romeodying swam up to say...

ok i wanna know who leftsock is

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous swam up to say...

jenn - we've had this argument before - fiction is often based on reality - you know, there is true and then truth, neither of which may be real or both may - fiction is almost always based on the writer - you can for examle take this real character and make him more real with a little imagination. all my characters are real.

so here's a new spin on the old argument - what you doubt is if your imagination comes to play in something "real" like this. do you sometimes doubt if you have an imagination? so what, write scratch non-ficton. why do you worry?

-not mysfit

12:37 PM  
Blogger jenn see swam up to say...

it's not that i worry so much...& i do have an imaginations, that i'm certain of (otherwise i might be worried...or however worried a person with no imagination can get...), i guess i just want a sort of barometer for fictioniers & am curious to know where i fall on it...

romeo, i'm sure you're not the only one curious about the sock...but curiosity killed the cat, you know.

2:44 PM  
Blogger theleftsock swam up to say...

Really, other people are curious about me? That'll teach me to keep my stitches shut.

Shout Out to Mysfit. What's up yo?
holla back.

8:43 PM  
Blogger jenn see swam up to say...

i knew that wasn't mysfit...but i find it intriguing that they said as much...who goes there?

harhar sock...you had yourself in stitches...

11:27 PM  
Blogger romeodying swam up to say...

you know why i use the name romeodying,
cause of the part in the movie were romeo drinks the poison and this bitch wakes up and touches his face,and the look he gives her is so priceless, like what the fuck, i just drank poison for you, for nothing i cant believe it

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous swam up to say...

yeah in the movie - in the play she doesn't wake up till he's dead - i thought your name might refer to the jet li movie; Romeo Must Die - but i like it either way

as for you jennsee - you want a what?! sureright - rusted!! (instructions: drink a bottle of your favorite spirits and say the previous sentence really loud - you'll understand)

i wonder many things about the left sock - like where's the right one and if he had that nomenclature first or did i? not that it is of any consequence

-not me, maybe you

9:12 PM  
Blogger theleftsock swam up to say...

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

http://www.ladyada.net/research/index.html

the link is behold my glory, it is a masters thesis in electrical engineering. Ignore the engineering if you must, but mysfit, jenn see.

READ IT. ITS BRILLIANT. GENIUS.

10:10 PM  
Blogger theleftsock swam up to say...

um.. I don't even know what nomenclature means, but if you wanna be theleftsock, too, I don't care.

peace

10:13 PM  
Blogger jenn see swam up to say...

that is some brilliant engineering.
i want one.
(one of the gadgets, not an engineer.)

& you are so full of it sock, i know you know what "nomenclature" means.

what i don't know: who could this other sock be? have we really had an argument about fiction before?

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous swam up to say...

naw sock, it's all you - though i may be the last shoe. anyway, i only wonder because i have memories but they are unimportant.

i need a pair of those awsome shades! do they come in contact form?

jennsee - in fact we have - we have had fictional arguments about real things and real arguments about fiction and i don't even want to get in to the poetic arguments we have survived (btw - is there a barometer for poetics?)

who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? - the shadow does

1:33 PM  
Blogger jenn see swam up to say...

nothing like a good tragedy of romance to make you shake your fists at the sky in fury...

aaak! anonymous! your anonymity is boggling me!

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous swam up to say...

oh you're so coy - thanks for humoring me though, it warms my heart

-mysfit's evil twin

3:56 PM  

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