Grey T-shirt sits down
Whirring fan flicks above our heads
Happy dirty feet
The sea plays
Dancing with the ribbons of the pale
The cup overflowing like the
She reads the lines on my palm
While I feed her chocolate cherries
glazed in honeysuckle
On a Monday in
He tosses the plate like mangos
As if a parachute
Had exploded inside
Swiftly wrapping around me
Pulled tight by both sides
Horses on either end
Either end on either hand
There are no
The dolphin rises from the orange
And murders the dark
That crossed the bridge
Sweet and salty
Brianna with her Bible blankets
Builds a bench under
The broadway bar
-chapter four of her book,
“Bones Over Bullets”
She sells it for a billion pennies
She drowns a copper cat
She drinks until the sea cows
The dogs evade his
Like warm peanutbutter sliding
Don’t get crumbs
Meet me at the
Mastectomies are half off
Only one boob
Left on earth
But there is a spider
The nipple L
Day by day
Wept for jesus
To touch his penis
His feet there
Bastard bibles under the bed in the building
“Hallowed be thy ween
Thy funbits cum
Then they will be done
Lord of lords
Heaven’s in hell
Don’t forget to tell
The babysitter, Bell…
I left the money in the bible”
Sometimes I wonder where
The pressue lies
Perhaps the devil
Is Ronald mcdonald
Getting a blowjob
Inside the ball pit
His meat and red hair
In the summers, when humidity descended upon my small childhood town like a thick layer of cream cheese, I would play outside on Carina’s white porch. Unlike my mother, Carina didn’t believe in air conditioning, microwaves, or weight watchers frozen dinners , and sitting outside underneath her black and white auning was cooler than being indoors. Vinnie sat on the step along side of me, nursing my chest with a cold rag. Gina, the other girl they had babysat, a feisty Puerto rican, had punched me so hard I couldn’t breathe. Vinnie- who was mowing the lawn at the time- saw me fall backwards into a ditch and came running. He scooped me up into his Italian arms and carried me. The sun played peekaboo through the shadows in the trees. I already had a bruise.
“I don’t know what pissed her off.” I said.
Vinnie shook his head at me. “You put deodorant all over her doll!” Molly, The American girl doll, rested behind him covered in pink powdery lady speed stick. Her hair was clumped into dreadlochs.
“She was sweaty from the sun!”
Vinnie removed the cloth and tried to clean Molly’s glasses or something. When I got up to go find Gina to play some more, he yanked my little hand and pulled me onto his lap.
“You stay away from that little bitch” Vinnie said. “I’ll play with you.” He laughed a low chuckle like a car starting it’s engine and bounced me up and down. I liked playing with Vinnie. The way his hands fit mine, touched my skin like kneading dough. I wished my Dad came home and hugged me sometimes. It felt like there was something inside me he was afraid of- something that hurt him to even look me in the eye at night when he turned out my Minnie mouse light.
Vinnie’s breath was warm. I squirmed on his lap, not sure why he had to be so close. But, maybe this was what normal little girls did with their dads. Maybe this was what it meant to be loved. He had found the 4 page story I wrote on the bathroom floor about a demonic librarian and told me I was something else. I wasn’t anything to my Dad, so something else was everything to me. Vinnie adjusted me on his lap. He always told me the coolest stories about his trips around the world, the nuns in catholic school, his skiing tournaments. In fact, we used to play a game where he would trap my legs inside his and I would try to use the strength in my thighs to open them. He said it was a skiing game- a leg excersize. A dancer since the age of four, I was good at it. You’d be surprised how strong the human body is when it knows it’s needs to survive. I would use all of my power like the Jaws of Life prying myself from his body. His leg from my leg, his heart from my chest. What are they now without him?
He gave me a sip of his coffee, his hands moving my hair. Vinnie’s hands were always moving. They stirred bowls of flour, they made me pizza and oreo mint milkshakes, they cracked open eggs, they wrote down my stories, they grabbed my crotch, my ass. Vinnie’s hands- they nurtured and shattered me.
“Let’s go for a walk, kiddo” Vinnie said. I followed Vinnie to the woods. I never forgot that day. How stupid I was at ten years old, how I never stopped searching for someone’s arms, falling in love with anyone and everyone who caresses the small of my back, how completely I belonged.
He kissed me in the woods. Actually, first he let me play with his matches. He was supposed to have quit smoking weeks ago, but that was another one of our little secrets.
“We’re pals right.” Vinnie said. His hands reached for me and in a panic, I burnt part of my hand. The web of skin between my index finger and thumb bubbled like a soda can. Vinnie kissed my hand and I began to cry.
“Don’t tell anybody about this. I’ll get in trouble.” He pulled me into him. “Were pals right? You don’t want that do you?”
I shook my head as he gripped me tighter. Vinnie laughed once more, and I felt like ashes. He kissed me and my stomach deflated like balloon. The trees were falling in on me, an accordion of sound like screeching tires. I pushed him away, and tried to go back to the house, but he wouldn’t let me.
“Just give me one more kiss.”
I didn’t know what to do. I was a little kid, and my hand throbbed, but I knew that Vinnie was my pal, my mentor, my dad. I leaned in and kissed him. He tasted like metal and grass stains. I would let him do anything to me. As Vinnie’s tongue rolled around my mouth I focused on the bark on the tree in the shape of west Virginia. When he pulled away, I ran like hell, my feet snapping twigs beneath me. When I arrived at the cape cod, my father had just walked over. We lived right next door, so my dad never bothered driving to pick me up after he got home from work. I came up to him breathless, hid my hand in my pocket.
“I’m ready Daddy.”
He didn’t ask why I was in the woods, or why I was running. We just walked to our house in silence, with me peaking over my shoulder every other step of the way.
That night I didn’t sleep. I kept waiting for Vinnie to pop out from under my bed like some monster. It was a Tuesday, my mother’s drinking night with her friends, and I had already called her two times with no answer. I crawled into my Dad’s bed tentatively.
“Is school okay?” My dad said this like he was asking directions in a foreign language he didn’t understand. He didn’t know how to talk to me, but like intro to Spanish, this was the only phrase he mastered. He asked me everyday. He said I could talk to him about everything.
“It’s summer.” I said. I drew the maroon blanket up to my chest like a wall I desperately needed.
My father nodded, rolled over and set his alarm.
“Daddy-” I could feel my voice rising and getting caught in my throat, tacky like Gina’s speed stick. This was my only chance, and I knew he would never believe me. Instead of crying, I focused on my father’s scar on his thigh. While he was working at a carwash in the 80s, one of the cars hit him. The bone went right through his skin. It was the only story my father ever told me. “Daddy, can I stay here with you, tonight?”
“Yeah, Honey.” Maybe he knew that something was wrong, but he didn’t know the words. Or maybe he simply didn’t want to believe it could be true- after all, no dad wants to check under their daughters bed for monsters to find an honest to god Dracula.
I spent most of my childhood through middle school sleeping in my parents bed. Nobody asked about the nightmares. It was just a phase. “She’ll grow out of it.” Silly thing is, I still have trouble sleeping by myself. Maybe I always will. Or maybe, the challenge is to sleep with a man, and no longer feel like a little girl in another country- lost and afraid.