Wednesday, December 16, 2015

waiting...dripping time/hospital syrup

the waiting
dripping in time
here
like watching the deep
yellow tar of a smoker
sliding slowly down
the wallpaper
much time 
tied up
like molasses

the sun burns in 
through the clearly 
cleaned window
searing fancy maple chairs
and easily washable 
vinyl couch cushions
printed to look like fabric
inviting at first glance
and fly traps
after an hour
the prey stuck
and waiting
to be devoured
the sweet reprieve
to the endlessness

watching as the 
occasional head popping
of many to the same 
cell phone ringer
sporatically springing forth
from the corners of the
room

some sit and work
knowing their 
loved ones
will be o.k.
some seem much
more concerned
and look up 
with wide eyes
each time the columbian
receptionaist
answers her phone
'meant to grab a coffee'
'sharon went where on vacation?'
and sometimes 
what sounds
like an important set
of numbers
or updates as
the weary sitter's waiting
like cold molasses but it's hot...
blazing sunlight 
some
reading papers
or noisily and nervously
crinkling the mint wrapper
long after the sugar
has gone

one late comer,
unconcerned son
sitting next to 
his weepy eyed
grandfather
talking fast and
keeping him on the ropes as
he tries to keep
his composure
but after a while
it worked
as a dam of
laughter 
did its job
to quiet the beast
of his imagination

the coffee maker
has stopped 
gurgling hours ago
and I watch janitors
dance by
a matter if fact ballet
of the daily grind
amid the biggest days
for some here
laying around the room
and the whispers of hope
aming the whispers 
of doom

There have been no 
tears yet
from the side room of 
consultaion
seems like a good day
here
but the sun burns in
and the time still dripping
like a lollipop
left on a dash
of a black car
in the sun

we are here
thankfully 
among the lower concerns
waiting to visit
after a long but
somewhat easy thing
thankful i'm not the 
lady to my right
they've spoken to her
more
than the others
not quite touch and go
hands crossed 
in moments
prayers perhaps
or just nervous 
contemplation
or maybe memories 
to stay her

we are all here in limbo
like one soul
any of us will need
to endure a tragedy
for any one here
the breathing room
the lung of the hospital
the waiting room
were, it is so that
we will all be required
together to ride the waves
the wailing widow
would be also be our sister
the brother to a younger
one, that doesn't pull through
this burning room
the leaning card house
the tinderpile by the
strike-anywhere matches
or maybe the long dry wasteleand to walk out of the desert,
we are somehow here
one humanity
one people
in this iron lung
in the blue wing
of this hospital
a place to be together
a kind word or pleasantry
a non personal question
that might spark a short
conversation
between
edges if humanity
that seldom connect
or overlap
an interesting
place to find
one of those rare 
and random
equalizers
and the small politennesses,
small
acts of kindness
that sometimes seem lost in this
modern mode
of existence;
but here
no race
no religion
just worry and boredom
tossed in a hot pot
to simmer down
into a gooey weariness
of humankind
spread out on the floor
like syrup
waiting to
be
collected
from the
burning sun
and the vinyl furnature

and will it end?
for me, yes
but less for the 
columbian receptionist
with the tired limp
her name, maria
calling out news and names
names with updates

and less yet will it end 
for the room,
the burning room
will be here 
much longer
slowly boiling down
the worried people
into a human syrup
for a brief moment
each day...
and this terrible time
just dripping away...





Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fanfare (or: testify, barfly after another saturday night)


there are no fans
no fanfare for the adoration
of the lonely man
standing there
his face in his hands
his heart on his sleeve
beware what he plans
he plans to tear them apart
from the inside out
they will scream and will shout
as he sings the lullabies
that keep them in the dark
whimpering
of their loneliness
hungry for the spark
of something new
but the only thing new here
is you
and
i will
take
you
home
now

god


i found god
i did
i found him
i found god
he was not in church
he was in my nieces eyes
i found god
he was not in a book
he was in the morning sky
i found god,
he did not come with rules
he was in a fishing trip with my boy
i found god
he was definitely not in what the preacher said
he was not judgement on high
i found god
he was not the trojan horse
carried in words of people
who said that they did not judge but did often
who spoke of compassion but practiced it seldom
and had hard rules for gay folks that never would soften
who said they accepted
but did so with conditions
and so did so in damaging ways
i found god
he did not look down
from a shallow perspective
fraught with his own fears and judgmental ways
i found god
and he needed no money
and if he had it, he'd give each cent away
i found god
he was not promising virgins
buy he was giving free love away
i found god
he was not building armies
he was trying to keep hatred at bay
i found god
he wasn't sending down miracles
to prove a single damned thing in that way
i found god
it took forever to find him
nearly impossible for mankind to see
i found god
he was not the head of the household
in fact he wasn't even a he
i found god
he thought your borders were foolish
or he would have painted big labels
to keep them that way
i found god
he did not side with Israel or Palestine
but would prefer if they put the guns away
i found god
he was shocked by genital mutilation
in both the physical and psychological ways
i found god
he was not hurtful to others
in defense of his religion
in fact he'd rather no one would harm in his name
i found god
and he hated big talkers
"go do some actual good," he would say
i found god
not with capital letters
who sat on the level with me
i found god
he was not soaked in hubris
he was pure as a breeze on a hot summer day
i found god
and he was not demanding
but had hoped it wouldn't all go this way
i found god
astounded by false prophets
ones who swore they were prophets
and would read this and still swear
they hold the answers
shunning other false prophets away
and who quote words written by other false prophets
who swear its what god meant to say,
who kept his actual words or intentions at bay
because it didn't quite serve them
and that is the true sinner's way
i found god
he did not believe in enemies
he believed allies, and aid
i found god
he did not believe in 'owning' great riches
while others went hungry each day
i found god
he looked at me with sad eyes
and asked why men find what they want holy texts to say
and discredit everything that contradicts
and quote half truths and half facts
to prove that it 'must' be that way
i found god
he was very explicit
that 'actually' is the most damaging thing man can say
but of course thats something i shouldn't actually say
it's to dangerous to 'quote' him
certainly in black and white
what he means is most surely quite grey
i found god
i would not purport to put words in his mouth
but he a very sad sight to have seen
i found god
he was not in the word 'brother'
but he loved in a brotherly way
i found god
he was in a same sex couple with in utero children
who loved them exactly the same
and who would bring them up better
than the 'practicing christian'
and not damage their mind or soul along the way
and who would love them the same if straight or of gay
i found god
he did not say hurtful things to others
just because a book instructed him to think in that way
i found god
disappointed in his flock,
who had decided for everyone what he'd meant to say
and had missed the mark by a mile
and went far astray
i found god
he was sitting by a pile
of all of the religious books
and he was sobbing hard
and crying
in an inconsolable way
and i stood for awhile
and watched as his tears fell
in small drops
in contrition
and i could say nothing
since i also am human
and the burden of that failure
i cannot possibly shoulder today
i found god
he was absolute beauty
and absolute horror
to see him there so out of faith
i found god
and although i lived well by example
i looked on him and felt nothing but shame
i found god
but he had given up on you people
so completely
i just had to turn myself also sobbing
and shamefully just walk away....

i found god
buy i had no words to say
i found him and he was fragile
and i am not yet humble enough
to help him find the way
yes, i found god
but what could i say?
'sorry 'bout the assholes,
-have a nice day!'

mason jar


mason jar of memories
cool night and fall is upon us
lying flat on back
ceiling floats above with indignation
or disinterest
but the cat is licking himself
contently
and the crabapples rap tap tapping
a mason jar of blue beads
from back when she loved me
in the fall
and way before this all
shes got a
baby boy now
lives sick
something autoimmune
but he's smiley
makes me think of altered paths
2 roads in a wood
is a minute by minute divergence
every moment has many paths
might as well call it a dessert
any direction
any time
mason jar of water
good now and life settled slowly
and the bridge it
floated under
sheltered it from
lightning and thunder
put it in a jar
that sits here on the
table as she sleeps
beneath my stars
naked to me at least
the beast
if not also to her life
I can't help but thinking that
I've finally got it right
but can I keep it
is the question
that is tearing up my mind
and man it
tears me up
when she does
those things
so fine
but i'm still this creature
in a damp cave crawling
darkling deep inside
canned it up for
another long winter
mason jar with
candle lit
flickering lights
that flirt and flit
as I sit watching
ice form slowly
on the window
contemplating
what's in store
and waiting
and scratch is
curled up warm inside
an old flannel shirt
on oaken floor
and she is looking up
from a book
with those burning eyes
wondering what i'm
thinking I surmise
but there are no lies
and there are no questions
just quiet noises washing
over subtle introspections
that shine so bright
as the fall day slips to night
mason jar of memories
mason jar of light
mason jar of thinking
mason jars of night
dark and hiding secrets
in the open void of light
and if life's mysteries are troublesome
and tear you up inside
twist and slide the subtle lid
see what waits
inside...
...and then just
hang on
for the ride

catch


caught a ghost
the one that's in your head
caught it my sheets
caught it in my bed
and i don't know
where you've been
i've been here sleeping
by the impression
that you left

sweet girl
the sweet mouth
sweet as summer wind
heading south. mm
and left me here
the northern man
its getting colder
in this wind
on my face and hands

catch a tiger
catch a smile
catch a catch
for a little while
and you will go
slip into the wind
i'll still be here
for years on end
i'm sure after you've gone....

catching time
repairs to the boat
the man still there
in corduroy coat
catch the wind
but let it go
rooted down here
with nothing
to show

but the memory true
a trophy or two
that got thrown back
before the plaque
nothing here
but memory
nothing here
to show....

but then again
the birds returned;
spring is coming
so who knows....
who knows...

Friday, July 10, 2015

sleepless



sleepless

the wanton wastefulness of
insomniatic night
as i lay motionless
in the lackluster lack of
light
with heavy eyes
a brief pause
from the busy rush of life
to rise and shake free from
the quandary, i might
or, to sit and stare
toward the darkness
in spite
there is an unfair world
that sits just outside
and resides in it's way below this
starless
sky
but this unnerving peacefulness
rests
with no sound
no light
just the blackness
of blackness
and no end in sight
the dripping of time
on the end of the fight
and my body
slowly aching
is the only waking thing
with the ache of an angel
with a broken, bruised wing
that stirs in the empty
and rages round the room
and searches the vastness
that watches and looms
like an angry caged animal
breaking and knocking
as it ebbs and flows
like a gorilla that's been starving
might tear at the fridge
for a singular bite
of anything that might bring
satisfaction to light
breaking bottles and drawers
til that little light too would shatter
making angels and devils
alike scream
"whats the matter?"
"oh,
it's just my gorilla
here raging the night,
he found himself in this strangeness
and put up a small fight"
a few pills popped and now
he is settling down
in the corner soon
for snoring
and i'm all alone now
and in only a couple of hours
dawn will arrive anyhow
and back to the world
with its hustle and buzz
where the overworked body
does the work that it does
just to wear out again
pushing on toward the night
and back to this
quiet space with no light
that exists between worlds
between dimensions
in the void
between the tv that flickers
and the roaring ac
and the world shrinks itself
right down tight around me
and then shrinks down
again to the size of a flea
that bloodsucking timelessness
of the water torture quiet
tearing sanity away
like reason torn from a riot
the darkness is leaking
leaving more and more light
and its dripping and dripping
out into the night
drip
drip
drip
drip
and the clock ticks
ticks
ticks
ticks
ticks, ticks away
and the birds chirp, and chirp,
and chirp for the day
and the cars start their engines
and head off on their way
and yet still here i lay
and yet still
here
i lay...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

the relentless beast



feel the throb and thrust
of the relentless beast
just off the sand of the
gravestone beach
out past the stony finger
of the Witchlight Breach
i drowned my love
in the dark and deep
she was sweet and lovely
as the town will say
til she met me on the sunlit day
and i made her smile
and her heart would stray
and i stole that little girl
away
but years would pass as life
got
dark
and she hid
herself
in the dark dark house
and her blood turned
to
vinegar, spite, and anger through
and she barked and clawed
and lashed out too
and
the smiling man was cut in two
as she became the thing that sucks up light
so i dug a hole in the dark of
night and
led her out
into the might
and past the sands i took my love down
and forever the darkness
will hold her now....

Arrow - Final Draft



Arrow

            The room laid out thinly like the air, sparse and shattered by the roar of the crowd outside.  Their infectious words were cutting mad - rampant tears through the walls and window as I stood, a nervous wreck.  A wreck fit for the widest highway to halt traffic for hours.  It was the best day of my life, and the most frightening.  I was not a man that was keen to be so public with my private life, but here we were, doing exactly what I had always feared.  It was, however, also a good feeling because, although I had feared it, it was also the one thing that I had wanted since I was a boy.  I took a breath and began to use her voice in my mind to drown the noises out.  And as I stood waiting for her, the words from outside would slip through, here and there, just like the gumballs that would fall from my pockets in my youth. 
            When life was much different, way back, when I was a boy I loved the movies.  And each Saturday morning I would rush down to spend my day at the movie theater soaked in the fantastical worlds of the silver screen.  On the way there, I would always stop at Witherby's Candy Shop to stuff my pockets with Witherby's Mystical Gumballs in preparation for the day.  These tiny pieces of painted joy would be difficult to contain in two small pockets, and would begin to rain and fall as I ran, filled too full at the candy counter.  They would start to fall one at a time, and I would notice and watch a gumball go bouncing and rolling  across a busy street or into a rain gutter.  As I would begin to speed and run downtown, I would stop noticing the sound of the candy-coated colors falling from my pockets and hitting the pavement, the worries and cares diminishing with each step closer to the black and white movie, excited and looking forward to the magical show about to come tumbling forward from the projection booth, careening across the dusty light of the theater above our heads, splattering itself across the screen, completely exposed as light - immeasurably thin and rolled out like raw pastry. 
            I met Sara in the summer.  It was a particularly hot southern summer, so I and a group of young boys were, as usual, collected together at the local swimming hole which we called the 'Old Man,' named for the nose and eye shaped features that were formed in the cliff the stoically rose from the water on the other side of the river.  It was such a hot day, it had seemed pointless to gather up a game of baseball at the field out behind Finney’s junkyard, so we raced our bikes down to the river below the town, where the train tracks run out into the woods and run on for miles.  There were never any ‘old’ people there, so we could cuss and spit and walk around without our shoes on.  Usually the boys would sit along the big rocks with their feet dangling down in the water talking about things that all boys do; telling jokes, talking baseball and looking at dirty magazines, filled with pictures that somehow, never really did anything for me.  I would play along like I liked them, but I was always a little different from the other boys, and I knew it.

            “Arrows,” one of the boys suddenly muttered in the direction of the path leading it’s way from the field behind the graveyard.  Upon hearing that word, just like those Saturday morning runs, a gumdrop spilled from my pockets somewhere deep within my soul.  There were two girls from school walking down the path.
            Sara had just scurried toward us and swiftly away from her friend, who had then continued along the path away from the river. The head nod that they left each other with implied that they might catch up later for some previously discussed activity.  She was wearing a neon green bathing suit top, a pair of cut-off jeans, a pair of flips flops, and had a freshly plucked white daisy sticking out of the side of her dark black ponytail.
            Sometimes, there is a person in one's lifetime that swoops in and uproots the whole thing completely.  And for seemingly no reason, at that moment, she was that one for me.  It’s strange how something as simple as a singular smile can be so devastating.  She was never one to be discreet.  Sara truly knew how to live her life, even then. 
            I was sitting with my feet in the water, mostly listening; a skill I had perfected in my short social existence.  I never seemed to have much to offer to the conversations had at the river.  This particular summer day the water creeping over the river stones into the giant standing pool of water before us was an incomprehensibly rich blue.  I remember seeing the color and trying to think how I would describe it if I were a painter, asking an assistant to go and retrieve a tube of it from my supply closet.  I couldn’t come up with anything good but I was bored with the particular monologue that Davey Lohman was into, going on-and-on about chewing tobacco and how it sharpened thinking for the smart men in town, and how that was why he had been chewing it for the last week.  He always was a ranting idiot.  I always figured that he just needed to feel like people liked him so he wouldn’t ever shut his mouth and give them time to decide.
            I was sitting and trying to think of a name for this newly discovered blue in the water when I heard her voice.  “Hey you!”  Sensing that the greeting was aimed at me, I turned around quickly and, although I was no longer facing the water, I still saw the color.  There were two drops of it seeming to fall down her face from her dark hair.  I recognized her from the neighborhood and instantly decided that the perfect name for the color, the only possible name for the unbelievable color, was Sara.  Sara blue, and that was what I called her too, but not yet.
            “Yeah?”  I could have come up with a more distinguished and graceful response, but, my early teen shyness prevailed and they were the only words I could come up with in that moment.  It didn’t matter to Sara, she wasn’t listening for any lofty words. 
            “Can you follow me for a minute?  I have something to show you.  Well, I guess it’s something that I want to ask you, or talk to you about.  I…would you just follow me?”
            “Alright.”  I was always one of those people who tried to live my life like a novel, and in a novel, the best chapters always seemed to follow dialogue like that.  So I got up and followed her.  I never really let on to anybody that I read books, but secretly I loved them and I always sort of envisioned myself as one of the protagonists from the stories.  It was a guilty pleasure which I indulged in quietly and often. 
            My friends said a couple of vaguely ridiculous things at me and I flipped them off.  They were childhood words, slurs, funny volleys that we could say when old people weren’t around.   It was apparent that they would give me a hard time if I went; and I wouldn’t have, but there was something about this girl.  That blue in her eyes was impossible to get over.  And I was hypnotized into compliance with her request.
            I had to run to catch up with Sara.  She was out of sight by the time I dragged myself from the ground, dispelled my friends prodding and brushed myself off in a careful stride that seemed non-anxious and naturally composed.  I could still hear her wild feet crackling a path into the forest floor.  I envisioned that it would fade if she got too much lead on me, so as soon as I was out of sight of my watchful peers, I ran.
            She had stopped and was waiting for me when I finally caught up to her.  She was standing in a way that I wasn’t used to.  It made me slightly uncomfortable, but I kept my cool and approached her casually.  She was looking down at the ground, arms crossed, and head tilted to the left side, hiding her eyes, by the time I got close.  Then she looked up at me without raising her head and smiled.  It made my heart pulse faster.  It scared me, I had seen that look before in the movies, I knew what it could mean.  I was unsure how to react so I let go.  Threw myself to the wind, and there came the scene in the movie.  There was no turning back.
            “What is it?”  Again ungraceful but to the point, I was out of breath.
            “Well I see you at the water sometimes,” she began to explain, “and you’re very…um…”
            “Very what?”
            She bit her lip and glared at me.  “This is hard,” she explained.
            As anyone in my situation would, I intrinsically knew what she was getting at.  It was as if it had been burned onto my life since my birth.  This moment was going to happen.  These words were destined to come out of her mouth.  I knew.  I may have second guessed it for some sake of drama or consciousness, or maybe it was just to draw this moment out and make it more vibrant and colorful, but staring into her eyes, that incredible wash of blue, I had to help her.  “It’s alright,” I assured.
            With a slightly worried and slightly relieved look she smiled a little; slightly worried because now she was closer to saying it, and slightly relieved that now she was locked in and she would have to say it.  She could no longer run out on her intent and leave it in the air to be explained as youthful insanity, or a joke.  It had become intimate.  “Are you sure?” she asked.  She took a step closer to me and mirrored the movement in kind.
    “I think so, yeah.”
            She smiled, and like in the movies, we kissed.  First, as if we were taking a test run, and then we picked up pace and ran it straight into a brick building.  ‘You break it, you buy it;’ and did we ever. 
            She slipped me something in a quick grab of my palm.  It later turned out to be three pieces of paper folded into a small triangle.  I could see that there was writing on it, in blue ball point pen ink.  “This will explain everything,” she said.  “Please read the whole thing before you say anything.”  I agreed and she took it from my hand and put it in my pocket.  She pulled me close and whispered in my ear, “promise you won’t read it until you get home.” 
I could feel her lips brush my ear as she spoke.  The feeling that it evoked was insane.  There is still nothing like it in the entirety of the world.
            “I promise.”
            She kissed me again, this time longer than the last, wide open mouth and the softest lips.  It was as if she wanted to never stop, or to die here for the chance that, eternity is spent, frozen in the moment you go out.  Her tongue on my tongue, her silver rings on her perfect fingers on my sweaty back, and her waist on my palms.  Life went from sepia to Technicolor in an instant.  I was destroyed, and saved.  I was in for the duration, I was hooked.
            When we were finally able to tear our lips apart from each other, and then carefully our hands, it had only been moments.  She smiled a few more times as she slowly stepped backwards into the field and then turned away.   She looked back several times before she faded out of sight through the tree-line.  Each time smiling, and biting her lower lip.  All I could think was, ‘goddamn you Sara Blue.”
When I came walking out of the woods back to the group of boys sitting along the rocks I tried to act natural and calm, as if nothing had happened except friendly advice, maybe about another girl, or schoolwork.  I had taken a slightly longer path back just to collect myself.  I knew I was in for it.  As soon as they heard me, they started in with the chorus of “ooh’s” and “ah’s” and other basic ridiculousness.  I knew it was all in good fun, and I played along.  I didn’t smile with guilt, I played it perfectly cool.  I was really good at it by now.  They calmed down a little bit and asked me what it was all about.  I told them that it was about someone at school that she had taken a liking to, and that she had wanted my opinion on the matter.  They basically bought it, we all laughed in some discomfort and I sat down and plunked my feet in the water as if nothing had changed.
I sat there for a few minutes while there was silence.  One by one, we were skimming stones across the water, using the rope swing hanging from an old oak tree across the river as a target.  We could never hit it, and had decided it was too far away.  I had hit it once when I was out here alone in the morning, thinking, but had never mentioned it since no one would have believed me and I didn’t want to have to try to prove it to anyone.
            We were sitting there listening to the plunking of the stones when it happened.  It was Billy who broke the silence with a word that I somehow knew was coming.
            “Shot,” he said.  I smiled as if it was a casual joke but I hated the word.  It was designed to cut hard and deep.  As always, I let it drop.  I was distracted.  That blue was hard to get over.  In fact, I never did.
So here I was, standing, years later.  There are a couple of close friends of mine standing in the room.  They were visually uncomfortable at the noise from the street.
            “Fucking arrows!”  Out slip two more gumballs.  Sneaky bastards. 
Sara is upstairs standing in her dress.  She had decided to wear her prom dress.  In truth, it was the dress that would have been her prom dress if we had actually gone to the prom.  Instead of the prom, we walked down and stood by the railroad tracks, where we would sit and talk together on summer days, and together we danced to the sound of the river until midnight.  She was crying, I didn’t ask her, but I assumed it was a mixture of happiness at our moonlight bliss and sadness that we had to be such outlaws to have it.  I caught her tear on my hand and ran it into her hair as I pulled her closer and kissed her.  We made love for the first time beneath the stars in a field by the railroad tracks on our way back home.  It was incredible, it was rebellious, and it was wild.  It was perfect.  It wasn’t very far from the spot were we first kissed and admitted our love. 
It was also the spot were I asked her about today.  This spectacular day.  She said a big ‘yes’ with that same tear rolling down her face.  I always felt like my love was some sort of disease that she caught from me, and that in some ways she would have been better off without it.  I loved her though, and I knew that, all trade-offs aside, she was very happy. 
I was trying to breathe as I waited for her to emerge, just a couple minutes and we would be together for the rest of our lives. 
When you plan for days such as this one, there are certain things that you’re supposed to have to plan, like the honeymoon: I booked a flight to Paris, the flowers: daffodils, the church: this isn’t exactly a church but it used to be.  It’s my Grand Papa’s house.  It used to be a church.  He converted it for a deluxe abode when my Mama was born.  He was a widower and the two of them lived there together, a king and a princess in their castle.  Sara’s getting ready in my mother’s childhood bedroom right now.  There are other things to plan too, like the cake: Sara is allergic to chocolate so we’re having vanilla, but there are certain things you shouldn’t have to plan, like police protection.
            When I asked her to marry me, it was autumn.  I remember how nervous I was when I asked.  Not so much when I asked Sara, I was more nervous when I asked her parents.  It was so soon after the law changed.  I didn’t want us to be one of ‘those’ couples jumping all over it right away, like we just wanted to make a point.  It was just that I had been wanting it so much for so long that I couldn’t wait any longer.  I was sure that they would think that it was far too soon. 
            I drove down there early in the morning.  Sara had spent the night in my apartment after having a cook-out and campfire with some friends the night before.  I left Sara a note that there were waffles on the counter, and jam in the fridge, and that I had a couple errands to run.  I also left her an empty journal for poetry on the nightstand hoping it would inspire her to occupy her time with a pastime that always brought her so much joy, but which she found time for far too infrequently.
            It was easier than I dreamed it would be.  Alison and Jen seemed to have already known it was coming.  I think Jen must have seen me coming up the drive alone and ran to the cabinet for a shot or two of Southern Comfort, straight from the bottle and downed with a gulp to prepare herself for what was now an inevitable moment.  By the time I reached the door they were waiting.  Alison poured me a coffee and we sat on the porch.  All that I had to say was, “I really love her,” and everything else was all understood.  It was as if there was no other way.  This was just how it all was supposed to happen. 
            That night, I asked her.
            The couch in their hallway reminds me of my tenth grade English teacher.  It’s a wooden Morris frame with a firm and nasty-green cushion, just like the one in his classroom.  I despised him, Mr. Hastings.  He was the first person that I ever got mad at about his words.  Once, he told our class about an article recently published in the  Post, his favorite magazine, and described all of the ways in which it was wrong.  He handed out the article and allowed us a few moments to read it.  Then he began to fume and sputter that no journal should write such things.  He said that we were all to write a letter to the editor, as an assignment, explaining that even we, schoolchildren, could see that it was disgusting. As I read it to myself, my eyes began to well up with water that I imagined was dark red.
            It was an equal rights article, about the law that a few people in Colorado were trying to get passed.  It used strange words and I wasn’t quite sure exactly what it was getting at.  I decided I would need to read it again.  As I got further into the well-written article, I noticed that it sounded very compassionate and warm.  It had soft words, and there was no talk of heavy handed words from God.  It sounded intellectual and well-informed.  I kept reading.  I couldn’t be sure at the time, but it seemed very important.  It almost seemed as if the article had something to do with me, or that it should be important to me.  I wrote down the catalog info since I knew that he would take the papers back for the next class to read.  I decided I would run down to the library in town after school and find the Post and read the article again.  I kept reading.  My mind began to drift from the page and I pictured a group of nice people in Colorado, people who were more like me than people around here, I thought about them sitting around with wine and guitars changing laws like they were writing songs or poetry.  It made me feel…
            “…will burn in hell!”  He was standing right next to me now.  I could smell him, old sweat and the faint hint of whiskey.  I couldn’t stand him.  I didn’t give him much of my mental energy, but I was suddenly losing gumballs at a rapid rate.  Luckily my grades allowed me to graduate early and I went on to University.
Sara came and visited my fist weekend at College.  I had gotten a job as a typesetter at a small local paper and was able to afford a small one bedroom apartment above a record store downtown.  I budgeted a dime each week to walk down on Friday, which was payday, and buy a new release on vinyl, mostly to be neighborly and interact with people.  Sara would come up on Saturday and we would listen to whatever album I had purchased on Friday night and we would drink wine and dance all night.
            On Sundays we would lay in bed until 9:30 and then I would walk down the street to the outdoor market and purchase eggs and fruit.  I would carry them back and we would eat breakfast and talk all day.  We could talk about anything.  And we would talk about everything.  We became one mind, and one body in that bed.  They were poetic days, rife with everything important in life.
            When holidays came I would return home, and we would be ready to burst like a pop bottle for each other.  Here, we had to pretend to be friends.  We would often have dinner with our respective families, and we would go for long walks by the river to relish in our discussions and on occasion our passions. 
Once in a while, late at night, I would sneak up over the porch and into the second floor window of her bedroom and we would sleep in each other’s arms until morning.  And then I would carry my tee shirt and shoes to the window and quietly slip down the porch column and down by the river, and walk the one quarter mile to my parked car in the clearing.
            That summer went by easy until it all came down.  It was a particularly quiet summer night.  The air had cooled and some of the humidity had shaken out of the air.  The moon was as full as I have ever seen it.  I had left my shoes hanging from a tree by the river and ascended the porch into her dimly lit room.  She had snuck a glass of milk for me and was waiting in her chair.  It was far too quiet in the room.  I asked her to turn the ceiling fan on.  I kissed her and we fell asleep both topless in our jeans on top of the sheets.
It was a heart attack from the deepest dead of sleep.  I awoke to the sound of the door closing and Sara leaped from the bed to peer out the cracked door just in time to see her Mom descending the stairs her hand over her mouth and a shocked reluctance in her gait.  With the white noise from the fan, we didn’t hear her come up the stairs or crack open the door to peer inside. 
            Sara hung her head and cried silently.  I laid there in the dark with one hand on her sweaty, naked back lying on my stomach on the edge of the bed.  She was kneeling on the floor, and we held this pose like statues for several minutes, shocked still and still awake.
            Finally we had been found out.  There was nothing left to do but admit it.  We walked downstairs and told Sara’s mothers that we were in love with each other, and that we weren’t ashamed of it at all.  We explained how close we were and hoped that they would see it from our perspective.  For extra proof, it seems, I was subconsciously holding my hand on her back, now draped casually in my tee-shirt.  They took it much better than we had anticipated.  Of course, her parents were more liberal than mine. 
My mothers were not so accepting, although sometimes they surprised me.  One time my Mama woke me up at three in the morning, exclaiming that it was chocolate chip cookie time, and proceeded to scoop me out of bed and plop me down, two floors later, on the kitchen stool so that I could watch as she cranked up the music and danced around the kitchen, singing into the wooden spoon, which was covered, like she was, in cookie batter.  My Mama was the crazy one and my Mom would just smile from wherever she was, each time remembering why she fell in love with Mama in the first place.  But as crazy as they could be, my parents were very careful to be proper in public and fit in with societies expectations.   They were not boat-rockers.  They were conformists, at least in appearance, and Mom did all she could to uphold that fa├žade.  It worked. They were very well respected in town and people thought of them as model citizens. 
            Sara’s Mom and Mama were not so well thought of.  They were a little bit liberal for many of the townsfolk.  They listened to music that maybe they shouldn’t, and they attended those, ‘left’ poetry readings at the Sunset downtown.  People knew that they had some radical ideas, but they were still accepted.  They did subscribe, at least in their own actions, to normal things.  I had always gotten a sense though, that they weren’t ‘normal’ for political reasons.  The way that they were just happened to be the normal thing.  The fact that their preferences were normal was completely unaffected by the term.  They just were, and people sensed some rebellion in that, and had shown some disdain for them.  It was the reason that there were rumors that Sara’s Mom had had some ‘experience' with boys in college.  They always chalked it up to ‘she was confused.’  She always said that it could have been a boy in the end, except that she had fallen in love with Sara’s Mama.  She held her head very high whenever she told the stories.  They were great for Sara.  I think it was the reason that Sara had so much gracefulness about her.
            Now, standing in my wedding suit, I noticed a flash of white in the window; one of those terrible ‘marriage equals’ signs.  Just words, but, I think I heard another gumball fall.
            It was the words that got to you in the end.  They became so engrained in culture that they were casually used to express the slightest things.  Kids would ‘joke’ and call each ‘arrow’ or other such things.  To them it seems so harmless, but it isn’t.  Hate was made easy by these childish indiscretions.  It seems for some people ‘God’ makes it easy to hate too.  Other words like ‘shot’ ‘aimer’ and ‘docker’ are seemingly reserved for jokes with an undertone of implication. 
            There were worse ones.  They seemed to want to make us out to be hunt-able.  They called us ‘mals.’  It came from the idea that because we could make a child the way animals did, we were no better than animals themselves.  As if cross-gendered mating was reserved for disgusting things that dogs do in the woods.  They had all become so much more civilized since they made their made-to-order babies in test-tubes and one of them would carry the baby to term.  The bulk of society had the opinion that our casual screwing would result in a plague of unplanned children that would overpopulate the world.  People only subconsciously acknowledged the origin of these words that they used with such frequency.  It made it easy for people to not have to think, and to not have to be intelligent.  The words made it easy for them to learn how to hate.  We were straight and they made us, whoever we all were, stare it in the eye every day.  Every time one of those words is ‘casually’ used it cuts to the core and flays a soul right down to the architecture.  “Damned, straight as an arrow, aren’t they?”  I hated that one.  Words are a disease.
            Sara and I used to sit out on the roof of my garage, outside my bedroom window, at night.  We would watch for shooting stars and talk.  She would often ask me what it was exactly that made people so interested in other people’s lives, and controlling them.  I could never explain it to her.  But they were getting nastier lately.  We couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t see that it had nothing to do with them or their lives. They just seemed to want to impose rules about ‘what they wanted us to not have.’  “The large tablets giveth and the small minds taketh away,” I would say.  I never understood it.  We weren’t hurting anybody, but as today grew closer it got a little scary.  At first they were just writing letters to the paper, and telling us we should call it off.  There were marches and “Marriage = Femme + Femme or Man + Man” signs.  It all seemed harmless to us; maybe a bit of a cancer on the free-thinking world, but not dangerous at all.  Now it’s gone to far.  We were getting threats.  So were my mothers.  And hers were too.
            We talked to our mothers about it.  We had dinner and invited them all together one night and simply asked them what they thought about us calling it off.  They all agreed that we had come too far and that it wasn’t right for them to force us into changing our minds.  Surprisingly, my slightly conservative Mom even said it.  “Forget about small people,” she said.  So we did.
            And here we were, listening to heckling from outside.  I don’t know how they found out about the time or place.  I think it was one of my cousins.  We didn’t invite any of them, but I’m sure that they had heard about it.
            I read an article in the local paper recently.  It was a letter to the editor.  The ignorance that people possess and proudly exhibit blows my mind sometimes.  It was full of the usual things like, ‘It’s immoral,’ and phrases like, ‘…behind closed doors, but I don’t want to hear about it.’    I try not to blame ignorant people because their god tells them that these things are wrong, but there is no truth in preaching.  Someday the world will learn this.  There is too much self-interest for God to get his message across.  It’s the most fucked up game of telephone that there ever was.
            Suddenly I saw a phrase that I had not yet seen and could not believe.  The article was the usual slurry of hatred and bigotry, dressed up to appear politically correct and potentially well-thought, until it crawled into the darkest of statements: “They try to say it’s natural.  If they want to go to hell that’s their problem, they aren’t taking a word that God gave us with them.  Say we do relent and allow them to be ‘married.’  What’s next after a man and a woman?  A man and a little girl?  A woman and a little boy.  A sheep?  How far will this thing go.  It isn’t natural!”
            I was infuriated, gumdrops pouring from my pockets.  I am in no way a pedophile because I am in love with a woman.  And what about the sheep?  What is that?  These people are ridiculous.  I didn’t know what to say.  I just sank into the corner and cried.  Like their precious 'Mother Mary' I cried and cried.  I cried for all of the people who could not see love.  Who could not see the damage that they do in the name of their ‘God.’  No matter what you believe, we all answer to the same thing, whatever it is.  And I can’t believe in a god that cares for these religious-types, and who hates so callously.
That day, it was my Mom that found me and held me as a cried.  I was eighteen and sobbing in the arms of my mother.  She was providing me with comfort, she didn’t’ realize that it was the world that I was crying for.
It was time, now, for the toast.  My mom had decided that she wanted to make it.  She walked over and cracked the window.  Then she walked back, champagne in hand, and bowed to us.  She then turned around to toast the open window. 
“God is lost on you, and so is love.  So here is a toast to arrows just like my son and his beautiful Sara across the world.  They will be heard.  They will have all of the rights afforded to man couples.  And femme couples.  It will take time and love, it will take work.  I believe in a world where we are all on the same plane.  When ‘natural’ children won’t be made fun of at school and when they won’t hear about ‘hell’ and rumors about their mom and dad on the playground.  We’ll chip away at it.  A revolution of love is slow work.  This toast is to the bigots of the world.  May love surround you and force you to surrender.  And for God’s sake, may you learn to shut your fucking mouths.”
We all sat in shock.  I didn’t even think my Mom was totally cool with our relationship, and none of us had ever heard a word like that pass over her lips.  She let out a whoop and a tear and then turned around.  She was smiling and crying and so was Sara. 
Then she proceeded, “and to the beautiful couple.  Your love is pure, may you always have it.  It is greater than anything that there is.”
I guess people are always afraid of what is different.  The only thing about it is, Sara and I weren’t that different.  They just can’t see it.  I wondered, as I watched my mom toasting the window, if Colorado had actually made things better for us.  Maybe we would have been content to live beneath the radar without it.  And then, suddenly, the thought vanished for good.  It was chased away by the last person whom I thought loved me with any small exception, my Mom.  It was at that moment that I realized that there is no such thing.
            The yelling outside grew louder.  It had become impossible to ignore the commotion out on the street.  I could see my guests becoming slightly nervous.  To make them more comfortable I jumped up from my seat and exclaimed, “let’s dance,” and as the window shattered and the fire exploded inside of the room my pocket ripped out and the rest of my gumballs fell to the ground, rolling into the street and gutter.  This time I didn’t’ hear them.  I didn’t notice.  I was finally at peace and meeting Sara for a movie.