Excerpt from Novel: “The French Guy”

He was naked, on top of the sheets, I underneath. He reached over my body and switched the lights on. No, no shut them off, I grumbled. In the dark, always in the dark. I thought of how he couldn’t come, not even after he rubbed himself, for over twenty minutes. I poked my head out of the sheets, squinting at the bright light.
I need a fag. I need to smoke a fag. Absolutely. (His favorite word – absolutely).
You have to have one?
Yes yes.
I don’t have a lighter.
I will go in the kitchen then. Where is it?
Turn right in the hallway, first door on the left. And please, be very quiet.

Will you be my friend?
What kind of friend?
A friend. You know, with respect. We can have sex sometimes, but always respect.
We’ll see.
But can’t you tell me now? Will you be my friend?
Let’s just take today, and see what tomorrow brings. We never know what tomorrow will be.
I’ll go light my fag now.
Put your pants on, just in case. I hope the alarm doesn’t go off. It’s so loud. It’ll wake my flat mates.
It can’t, it won’t. I have a smoke alarm in my flat too.
When he opened the door again, he was not quiet. He slid off his pants and stood there, stark naked, covering his member with one hand. He shrugged his shoulders and stood there uncomfortably, removed his hand and looked at me as if to say – so what do you think?
With the lit cigarette between his fingers, he lay back down on top of his side of the sheets. My naked body still underneath.
I need an ashtray. But you don’t have one do you?
He reached for my plastic cup, the one with the screwing lid. The lid was screwed shut with water underneath. He unscrewed it.
Here, I’ll use this. What do you use this for?
It’s to keep water by my bed, to take the pill in the morning, and some pills to heal my aching stomach.
Look, there’s cigarette ash floating in there. See, some guy has already been here before me.
There had been Anh Tien, the Vietnamese waiter I met a couple of weeks before. He had not tampered with my plastic cup. He did not smoke, and neither did I.
That’s not true. Where? I don’t see any shreds.
Oh yes.
The smoke. The alarm. Be careful. The alarm is awfully loud. Please be done.
Then everyone would know. Everyone would know.

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One More for Van Gogh

“starry sky…always in mind”
stretched over and under anything you
could never imagine in its vastness
more eternal than the sower and his corn
in the way it needs no human hand
to endlessly gather the crows

Purchase my novel, The Former Things Have Passed Away, in paperback!

My first novel, The Former Things Have Passed Away, is now available as a lovely 236-page paperback with my own personally-designed cover at Create Space! You can purchase it at the link below:


https://www.createspace.com/3790463

It is also available for purchase at Amazon.com at the following link:
http://www.amazon.com/Former-Things-Have-Passed-Away/dp/1470028743/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1328834659&sr=8-2

Three chapters have been separately published as stand-alone pieces,the publishing information available in my bibliography. Here is a brief excerpt from the opening chapter:

2000
The big green sign says, A Special Place to Remember. I remember. I remember many things. With the windows down, the breeze, say goodbye, say goodbye. I can’t forget. Because of that sign. Or the hum of the radio – say goodbye. Or maybe it’s this breeze, cooling my hot flushed face with ease. The mind likes to remember things – like – a Tuesday morning. A quarter to nine. A phone call. Ring, ring. “She’s gone.” The round white clock hanging on the wall with its clear black numbers and arrows.
This song is fading. I step out onto the blacktop and get mud all over my shoes. I wipe them off on the wet grass.
There’s a new bench marker here on the hill: Lee & Chang Family Bench. This other one just says, Young, squared off with yellow caution tape, like a fresh crime scene. Still I can read the inscription: 1930-1995. Hers reads: Josephine Cabrera, Beloved Wife and Mother, 1940-1998. ‘Young’ was 65. She was only 58. Maybe it’s okay to die at 65, but not at 58. Now that’s a crime.
There aren’t any trees up here on the incline. No shade. There are fresh bouquets, mini-candles, lanterns, orange and yellow bloated smiley faces, butterflies. There are red, white and blue flags, pinwheels swirling yellow and blue and red. Fake plastic flowers, like the ones Papa leaves between fresh flower changes. I’ve been here dozens of times, and yet I can never remember exactly where her marker is, hidden somewhere under this spectacle of vibrant, rich color. Somewhere halfway-down the hill, neither highly sloped, nor completely level. If I squint and peer deeper, maybe I can distinguish Papa’s fake flowers from the real, or freshly laid, or dying.
A Tuesday morning, a quarter to nine. I had just gotten out of the shower after two unwashed days in the hospital. The phone rang. It rang and rang, and no one ran to answer it. And then I finally picked up the receiver. Tina, she’s gone.

*Thanks in advance for your support!

pen in hand
held between thumb and index finger
swirling down the space between
two definite lines
sometimes over and sometimes under
chasing the phrase
that is not on the page
something like the opposite of hunger –

constipation – the need
to expel the hell that lingers
when pen pauses in hand –

this is how I’ll always remember her –
absolute resilience in the face
of having nothing
of significance
to say

For Van Gogh

Sunrise. Sunflower. Unblinking eye.
(She scrubs the toilet with splashes of pine sol. She dips the scrubber into the polished water to drench the bathroom tile. Lunch is take-out. Dinner is homemade pea soup and leftover apple pie. She pulls her shirt off in front of the mirror and jiggles her breasts. They feel like water balloons. He comes over and they watch a movie together before having wrestling sex. She opens the door for him, and closes it for him, and twists the door chains together. She touches the steel pot to make sure it’s cooled. She lets out her shirt in the bathroom. They still feel like water balloons. She sprays Windex on a paper towel and cleans the mirrors. She uses the used towel to wipe the dust off the trash lid and weight scale. She’s still not sleepy so she watches a 38-minute documentary on the life of a real-life genius. She’s still hungry so she heats up one-third of the leftover pie for half a minute. She washes it down with low-fat milk. She pours 2/3 of a cup of cat food into the cat dish. She faces the sunflower toward the wall.)
Blink slowly. Copycat. Turn out lights. Turn out.

*

She said – perversely – that she would not love me, not in this world nor the next. That she cannot accommodate loose teeth or a bum knee.

True – my teeth will fall and my good knee will soon give way like the other, but these and this won’t matter in the next world belonging to eternity.

I tell her – this world belongs to corruption and my ailing parts provide testimony. Death is part of the natural rhythm of things. If you take my hand now, we will enter incorruption together.

She is not convinced.

She has chosen that strong, hard body over there, for its pleasures. She will leave it before it shifts shape in the mirror. She will keep it until she gets her full.

I bag my bones and rattle them in her hearing. I paint a picture and then another. I save my everlasting picture for the blind. They are always hungry.

*

For this I apologize –
With my vital thumb
I smear away
Your sloping eye and forehead lines –
Accidental features
And leave alone the length
Of your pointer finger

For you my one request –
Press out of existence
My excess flesh
And leave behind
As redress
The essence
Of my figure

And don’t forget –