I can’t remember what year it was, or why I was in his apartment, half sprawled across the sofa, my girlfriend sitting with his, or one of his, he had many, on the floor, listening to Inside Bert Somers, and thinking that was the last place on earth I intended to go that evening.
I recall the wine was good, but then anything a step up from Ripple or Boone’s Farm was good, and the rugs were threadbare.
I was never a fan of Bert, didn’t know until today that he died and was buried in Valhalla, thirty years ago, not long after my youth did as well, although I am here to mourn that at least.
Take one part Grand Marnier, one Frangelico, a short cup of coffee, whipped cream only if you wish, curl on the sofa with your life’s greatest love and your first real, truly your first Christmas Eve makes you wonder why you waited so long.
First published in The Poet: Christmas (2020 United Kingdom)
The woman at the next table stares at her fork with eyes which appear bottomless pools of sorrow. She picks at the noodles, raises and lowers the glass of wine without sipping. She is lost within herself and even the waiter approaches with trepidation for fear of falling in and drowning in her sadness. In her eyes are pools of cabernet spilled from glasses cast aside by retreating lovers, the blood of a mother who died in her birth, tears of a father hopelessly alone. You see him returning to the table and a smile of faint hope crosses her lips, lingers a moment and is drawn into her eyes. She watches him finish his wine and with a nod of his head, hers, and she sinks back deep within herself.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 41
In Tibet there are more than 80 words to describe states of consciousness, several words to explain the sound of prayer flags rustling in a Himalayan breeze that reaches up to the crest of the peaks that lick at the slowly gathering clouds, all of these words never uttered. There are no words in Tibet to describe the soft brush of your lips across my cheek, your hair pressed into my chest. There are no words in Tibet to describe the faint bouquet of soap and morning coffee as she dries herself slowly in the mirror that runs along the sinks. There are no words in Tibet to describe the sound of her laugh half giggle as we watch the kitten roll on her back, paws up reaching for the mote of dust dancing on the heat rising from the fireplace, pressed down by the lazily spinning ceiling fan. There are no words in Tibet to describe her eyes as they dart after the Monarch that flits above the deep purple Sedum that stands in silent prayer to the sun. There are no words in Tibet to describe how she cringes at the sight of the buck lying alongside the road eviscerated by the fender of the car, long gone, his horn buried in the shallow dirt. There are no words in Tibet to describe the ripples of her spine as I run my finger down her back while she curls, grasping at the margins of sleep. There are no words in Tibet for all of these, no words to fill the room, to blanket the lumpy mattress on which I sit staring at the blank screen of the TV, reflecting the neon light of the 24 hour diner that flashes through the gauze curtains of room 4218 of the Hyatt, merely the echo of another plane lifting out of the San Jose airport.
A voice clear, jazz straight up in six strings with no surprises, but sitting next to my wife and lover it is what an evening wants in much the same way as a night in the heart of winter demands spooning beneath the blanket pulled up to our chins the outside world, having ceased to matter.
In the morning
the sun will reach
through our window
and draw us out of sleep.
it sneaks through the clouds
which it pushes aside,
only to retreat again
when we reach out
and try to grasp it.
It is the sun’s caress
we crave, the promise
of a lover yet unmet,
a tease awaiting
Two nights gone and sleep has come fitfully, and I stir each time I reach across the bed and you aren’t there, and there is only the faintest smell of bleach and cleaning solvent. I want very much to dream of you, to trace your cheek with dream fingers, to taste your lips on mine, to hear the placid rhythm of your breath, but there is only a stack of unused pillows and the sound of the heater battling to life. I dream of you by day, by night your absence pulls me from the precipice of deep sleep and dreams.
You disembark quickly a small bow to the flight crew, and walk briskly to immigration. The young man glances at your passport and embarkation card hands flying with the stamps. The baggage is offloaded onto the creeping segmented belt yours the fifth through the heavy plastic flaps hefted onto the cart. The customs agent pauses as though contemplating a search, but thinks better of the mess that is a gaijin’s suitcase
and waives you through. Cash is exchanged through the small opening with a perfunctory bow and you move through the silent sliding doors carried on a wave of memory. The driver bows and you slide into traffic for the slow crawl into Tokyo. Evening is creeping slowly
over Narita and you dream only of bed, and the warmth of her lips stirring in sleep, an ocean away.