Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Mulberry Tree

There's a mulberry tree in the side yard of the house I grew up in. It's huge and it blocks various power lines and cables to the house. My father blames it when our Internet connection has trouble functioning. It blooms with obscene berries in the spring and summer. I have never eaten them. Every time I look at a berry, it has minuscule white creatures crawling through the valleys of its tiny bulbous sections that contain its pulp. When they're ripe, they're juicy and taste delicious, but I still haven't eaten one from our particular tree. I've decided I'm going to try one tonight--after a thorough cleansing of course. They don't look ready to eat, but I've got to try one while I can.

We're removing the tree soon. Over the course of the winter and early spring, inclement weather and what I can only describe as rot have taken their toll on the tree. A couple months ago a large portion of the trunk split off from the rest of the tree and lay sadly on the lawn. Our yard keeper promised to take care of it expediently, but she only just showed up this week. It was a terrible sight as the tree was bare. The fallen part lay neatly, yet it remained an eyesore.

I thought the entire tree might be dead, but a few weeks ago buds started appearing. They formed on the intact branches as well as the part that had fallen. I looked closely, and the two were still attached at the base. I suppose I should have gotten a kick out of this mulberry tree and its gumption, but it had the opposite effect on me. It was trying its hardest to exist and function as it should, but it had no idea that humans would never just leave it be. All this effort pretending to be a tree, and it would still be cut away. I sat next to it and said, "sometimes it's okay to give up. You don't have to be strong anymore."

Several days ago, I noticed that another large section had leaned toward the ground. I don't know when exactly it was, but the trunk is bent, not broken, so perhaps it was gradual. This time it was into the neighbor's property. We couldn't let it fester. The yard keeper cut away the offending parts, and that was that.

Now when I look closely I can tell the rest of the components of the main trunk will peel away like a corn husk. There are dark brown lines like an infection where the tree is weak. There are some present that haven't given in yet, but it's just a matter of time.

My father told me he had a decision to make: hope that the rest of the tree lasts or have it removed entirely. He indicated that he was of mind to be rid of it. I was shocked. I got upset when he suggested we tear it down. He asked me why, but I only told him the yard would look awful without it. What I didn't say was that the tree is one of the few remnants of my mother's touch on our home. The garden used to be grand and beautiful because of her, but now it is impersonal and functional--kept by a stranger. It's a ghost of what it was.

After years of decline, my parents divorced when I was seventeen. The time preceding it was very difficult on the whole family. We had all known for a long time that our family didn't work the way it was supposed to. Anger and resentments grew until it was intolerable for all involved. The way other people describe their parents' divorce is how I feel now. About the tree. I feel like my father is betraying us and giving up on it. I'm not approaching the current situation with the same relief and calm logic that accompanied the separation years ago. I haven't been crying in my room wishing for this day for years.

After further examination I can admit it's time to let the tree go. It's best for everyone. Staying together for the saplings is no longer a valid option. I just collected a few berries to consume and say goodbye to. I chose the reddest among the pink and green sea of what was reachable. They should be a deep violet, but I don't have time to wait for their maturation. I teared up as I bit into the ripest berry. Its flavor flowed lightly sweet, laced with an undercurrent of bitterness--the same as my feelings about my parents' time together.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I see people everywhere, where they're not supposed to be
Songs and voices constantly a logical defeat
Been happening for a while now, and the hardest thing to do
Is fight through the illusion to get to what is true

Took apart my computer because it had a bomb
At least that's what the voice in it said through an intercom
It toyed with me and threatened me that I would end up dead
It took me quite some time to realize it was in my head

At first I had no clue as to what was going down
Because the first voice that it chose was my very own
We'd stay up all night talking--it's hard for me to sleep
It makes me laugh, it makes me smile, it makes me want to weep

I have to overcompensate when in the public eye
It gets too complicated, so now I just don't try

Two people pounded on my door early one morning
Looked through the peephole, a boy and girl are taunting me

I opened up the door and found a vacant hallway
As soon as I closed it, oh the things they would say
They brought to life my fears,my insecurities, and shame
I went to check the backdoor just to find it all the same

And when I thought that they had left, I opened up that door
Found both of them across the fence, jeering at me more
With little courage I had left, I took a book outside
There he was across the way, eyes as cold as ice

His slurs and names--obscenities took root in my head
I gave up, went back inside and tried to go to bed
It took a while of jiggling locks for me to realize
The boy and girl and things they said were the real lies

When I'm in the moment, I just can't seem to see
So much of it illogical, I have no clarity
I think the words I'm writing now do belong to me
Please know that I love you all, and I am so sorry

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Miles from heaven and
Miles from hell
He reigns in obscurity.
His hand the strongest,
His hand the softest,
Indifference is the key.
The needs of many
Outweigh the few
In a battle not meant to be won.
A love of one
Is not love for all
When the wager is the sun.


He asked if he could come with me, but I had to say no.
My greed brought him here, and his greed will keep him here.
He doesn't really want to follow me.
He feigns altruism, going through the motions of being human.
I see through it the same as I see through myself.
I hold my hand out, imagining lengths of steel fingertips.
I pause, wanting him to think I'm reconsidering,
Aware that he's not as foolish as he looks either.
A blink of the eye, a crunch of bones,
And a stream of blood later reveals
The heart I realize I no longer desire.
I could save him, but I don't care enough.
I let him fall as I turn and think how much more I love myself.
I never looked back.

Date Night


I wrote this story in the summer of 2007. I suck at formatting here, but enjoy?

Date Night

Michael squinted and ran his left hand through his hair as he took a drag of a cigarette with his right. This was a move he had practiced in front of the mirror many times. He was agreeing with everything Alex had to say, offering no opposition to Alex’s taste in music, movies, or literature. Michael’s acquiescence was attributed to his most recent painful breakup, and he knew that. All he wanted was to feel desired and needed for one night, making his only goal to get the confident, painfully handsome man walking next to him into bed. The chances of Michael’s plan coming to fruition seemed great, as the two were already on their way to Alex’s apartment, mere blocks from the bar where the two had crossed paths only one hour earlier.
Having been dumped the night before by the man Michael thought was the love of his life, it seemed only natural for him to want to drown his sorrows at the bar. He was accused of being superficial and uncommunicative. Michael had no idea where these allegations could have stemmed from. He thought he was the model boyfriend, always putting his significant other before his own needs. Whatever. I’ll show you just how communicative I can be. Upon walking in, Michael found the closest attractive man at the bar, and spilled his story to him. Alex was the lucky recipient of the self-pity monologue. Michael was so embroiled in his recitation that he didn’t even finish the gin and tonic that Alex had politely bought for him. Alex himself was drinking only ginger ale, explaining that he had to get up early in the morning for work, and didn’t want to be in bad form. With such stress, Michael hadn’t eaten anything but a poppy seed muffin all day, which he thought must have expedited his intoxication to the point that he felt extremely giddy, like the first time he ever took a drink.
Now Michael found himself on the way to Alex’s home, looking forward to a short time of not having to feel sorry for himself or think of his issues. Alex explained that he actually lives out in the suburbs, but he’s spending the night with his aunt, and he was taking them to her place. Michael inquired about the awkwardness of having “company” over in the presence of an old lady. His apprehension was put to ease as Alex revealed that his aunt was out for most of the night seeing a performance of “The Lion King or some shit like that.”
Exhaling the final puff of his cigarette while gingerly stepping on the butt, Michael hoped that Alex noticed how his lips pursed. Showing no such sign of this, Alex walked Michael around to the side of his aunt’s apparent apartment building. The only door on this unlit portion of the edifice did not seem to have a handle or any way of opening it. Alex deftly lifted a seemingly hidden latch and pressed a button, prompting the wide door to swing inward, revealing the entrance. He made an “after you” gesture with his hand, and made sure the door shut behind them before making his way to the stairwell at the end of the corridor.
Not even the completely empty and dingy stairwell could dampen Michael’s mood of anticipation. The pair had to climb stairs all the way to the fifth floor to get to the elevators that reached the top floor where Alex’s aunt’s condo was located. The ride to the twenty-eighth floor would have normally been uncomfortable for Michael, but the alcohol in his system told him that he could deal with anything, including the enclosed space of the elevator; in fact it was a thrill to him that he could get through it and not even flinch. As Alex was unlocking the door, Michael stood close behind him, breathing in the combination of the earthy scent of sweat and sweet shampoo. “Sorry it looks all old lady-like in here,” Alex offered as they entered. The decorations were the last thing on Michael’s mind: “No worries.”
The ornamentation of the room was just what one would expect of an older woman. There were doilies everywhere, pictures of what must be relatives, and a tray holding a silver tea set. The doorway opened into the living room with floor-to-ceiling windows, and the kitchen was just to the left past the entrance. Hooking around the corner with no door or barriers was the “bedroom,” which consisted of a miniscule nightstand with an orderly and boring bed. The only other door in the apartment led to a small bathroom that was devoid of hand towels.
They settled onto a couch and proceeded with small talk. Alex said he was currently in the midst of finals for law school, nodding at a stuffed backpack, and wanted to take a break tonight: hence his appearance at the bar. Michael thought cute and smart, nice combo as he smirked to himself. He chose that moment to make his move, leaning in toward the would-be lawyer. Alex responded with a reasonably passionate kiss, including some conservative tongue interaction. Michael smoothed his hand over the back of Alex’s exposed neck, and found Alex’s hand on his thigh in response. After a few minutes of tame fun, Alex stood up, saying, “I have to get some stuff from downstairs.”
Cool, thought Michael excitedly, he must be going to get lube or something. He felt a swoon and severe dizziness, blaming his feeble stomach for not being able to tolerate such a small amount of liquor. He asked for some water as Alex excused himself out the door, indicating that he would be right back. Alex replied, “Yeah, there should be some glasses in the kitchen cupboards,” and shut the door on his way out.
Removing a spotted glass from the cupboard, Michael noted how tiny the kitchen was. He thought of an elderly woman living in this sad apartment by herself and having nothing to look forward to but the occasional performance of The Lion King or some shit. He gulped two glasses of water then spotted a coffee machine on the counter. He thought it might be just what he needed to sober up if he was actually going to be able to perform sexually. He lifted the pot and was about to pour a generous amount into the glass when he saw green fuzzy mold covering the surface of the coffee. Sick! His aunt must be getting senile. They ought to put that poor bitch in a home. He replaced the pot in the machine, and left the glass on the counter next to a large pile of unopened mail.
Having nothing else to do, Michael decided to look around the apartment a little. It’s not snooping, he thought, besides, he shouldn’t have left me here all alone. Michael started with the small bathroom. Perhaps the resident had a prescription of painkillers that would make the pseudo-snooping worthwhile. There were no pills other than a three-year-old bottle of estrogen that was certainly of no use to Michael. The only other occupant of the medicine cabinet was a make-up case of what looked to be foundation that was so old and crusted that he couldn’t even pry it open. Moving on.
He surveyed the living room for anything of interest, but it was exceedingly dull. Michael wondered what the hell Alex could be doing that was taking so long, and his boredom forced him to look at the smiling faces in picture frames that peppered the room. From them Michael got a good idea of what Alex’s aunt looked like. She was wrinkled with gray hair, but still wore make-up as if she were twenty years old. It was endearing in a way.
I bet Alex was an adorable kid, Michael thought as he scanned the pictures again to locate him. After a minute, it was obvious that Alex was not in any of the pictures. That’s weird. He must have done something to piss her off, but if that were the case, why would she let him visit? Then again Michael felt as drunk as he had ever felt in his life, and realized that he probably couldn’t trust his eyes at the moment.
He gave up and reseated himself on the couch, content to sit and wait for Alex to return. I’m losing my boner over this, he thought as he kicked his shoes off. One of his shoes, his left to be exact, hit Alex’s backpack, knocking it from its resting place against the side of the couch. Oops. The top of the knapsack was partially unzipped, and an index card had slipped out. Michael picked it up and turned it over. It was blank. He opened the bag to rejoin it with its mates and saw the contents while doing so. Michael rifled through them to find a pack of index cards, none of which had been written on. In addition to that were four notebooks, also unused with the price stickers still on them. Not a single textbook. If Alex has been so studiously preparing for law school finals, why wouldn’t he have any previous notes or study materials in his backpack? I guess he wants a fresh start for his review? Michael supposed. Yes, it was possible, but he was starting to get a creepy feeling about the whole situation.
Before Michael could think about it in any more depth, Alex unlocked the door, and entered. “Sorry that took so long, I was talking to the doorman.” Highly aroused by Alex’s appearance in his fitted jeans and tight shirt, Michael forgot all about the backpack and the fact that Alex had returned with nothing though he claimed to be getting something. Michael approached him and made short work of removing Alex’s shirt, revealing a muscled torso that had Michael salivating. He ran his hand down Alex’s chest and traced his abdominal muscles with his index finger. Before Michael could do anything else, Alex pulled back, remarking, “Hold, on I just have to call the doorman for a minute.”
Feeling rebuffed, Michael took a seat yet again on the couch. Alex removed his phone from his pocket and dialed. Michael inwardly rolled his eyes as he felt his patience draining. He heard a very faint but familiar robotic voice saying, “Please enter your password,” and realized Alex must be checking his voicemail first. But instead of inputting his password, Alex started speaking as if there were a person at the other end of the line. “Uh-huh. Yes, well what time do you think? Did you check? Okay, thank you,” Alex said ignorant to the reality of Michael being able to hear the quiet voice from across the room. After he ended the call, he commented to Michael, “We have a problem. I think my aunt is going to be back soon. I’m sorry, but you have to go.”
Michael squinted his eyes as Alex put his shirt on, and this time it wasn’t an attempt at being sexy. He decided to play along with the charade and save face for Alex. Alex said he would walk Michael out and they could make plans to meet up another time. Michael drunkenly stumbled down the hall. His vision blurred and he shook his head in a struggle to right it. They made their way to the elevator in silence, and Michael stewed in his thoughts for that short while that seemed like an eternity. As the car descended Michael couldn’t take it anymore, and said, “Did I do something wrong? You know you could just tell me if you’re not really into me. I’m a big boy, I can handle it.”
“No, no, that’s not it at all. I’m just panicked that my aunt will be back soon, and I don’t want to have to deal with that.”
“Dude. I heard you calling your voicemail, you weren’t talking to the doorman.”
“Yeah, I checked my messages, but then I called downstairs.”
Michael may have been wasted, but he was sure of what he heard. This isn’t worth arguing over, Michael thought. I give up. “Well… sorry then. I must be mistaken.” They exchanged phone numbers in order to coordinate a further rendezvous as the elevator doors opened to the stairwell, even though Michael had no intention of getting in touch with the jerk.
This time Michael led the way, having to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, not wanting to even look at Alex. Just before he reached the push-button door, he tripped over something he didn’t remember seeing upon entering the building. Alex caught him before he fell, and Michael felt a rush being in his strong arms for that moment. Wanting to get a last kiss out of the situation, Michael closed his eyes and pressed his lips against Alex’s. Alex reciprocated instead of retreating as Michael had expected. “Maybe we can work something out,” Alex voiced huskily after the kiss.
He grabbed Michael by the shoulders roughly, and turned him around, kissing his neck and breathing deeply into his ear. Michael could feel Alex’s excitement pressing into the seat of his jeans. As if reading his mind, Alex unbuttoned Michael’s pants, pushed them down to his ankles, and wasted no time unzipping his own jeans. Alex got Michael onto the ground with his cheek touching the cold concrete of the corridor. I can’t believe I’m doing this, Michael thought.
In the next moment he fought the pain of Alex’s forcible entrance inside him while he identified the culprit of his stumble. It was a black duffel bag. It was unzipped, and he could see some items poking out. The pain receded as he saw what looked like a crumpled trash bag. The dim lights of the hallway caught a metal glint of something else sticking out of the bag, a tool perhaps, but Michael couldn’t tell what it was. Fucking janitors, I hope they don’t come back soon, but the paranoia wasn’t enough to make him stop what was happening. “Ah, go easy,” Michael winced, but Alex only double his efforts, making Michael clench his jaw.
“Dude, slow down!” pleaded Michael as he saw Alex reach over him and grab the shiny object in the duffel bag. This caused an orange bottle of pills to fall out, spilling little red tablets everywhere. Alex drew his arm around Michael’s chest, grabbing him by the opposite shoulder, showing no signs of relaxing the encounter.
“Isn’t this what you wanted?” said Alex, raking what was in his hand across Michael’s now sweaty throat. Michael felt a sharp, stinging sensation in a line on his neck, and tried to say Get off me, but the words formed silently in his mouth as it filled with blood. He shot his hand up to touch the pain, and the first thing he saw was a bloody serrated knife that he hadn’t noticed clatter to the ground. He removed his hand in disbelief only to see a wave of crimson pulse onto the floor, mingling with the pills. He felt the need to vomit, but he was too weak already to do so. In the presence of pure terror, his first thought was There’s so much of it. Michael was swiftly losing his vision as it washed out into black. He was aware that Alex was still inside him when his final thought occurred to him: So this is how I die.