Season Eight, Episode Two: 305

air heavy with moisture
charcoals clouds smudged against an azure sky—

palm fronds like fingers,
reaching towards the heavens
clawing their way towards the hidden sun

technicolor grass
verde blades sprinkled with water droplets
lazy iguanas warming their bellies on the rapidly drying concrete—

thunder threatens low in the distance,
menacing grumbles carried lightly on the damp wind—

a woman in a floral kimono hurries across the lawn
trying to beat the storm,
the sage talons successful at raking into the cumulonimbus
as a torrent of rain tumbles to the earth.

—“paradiso”

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Season Eight, Episode One: Robin’s Egg Blue

walking home this morning i found a robin’s egg, pale and blue in a crevice on the cracked sidewalk.

it was slightly chipped on the side and cold to the touch,

other bits of broken shell and smudges of yellow yolk were smeared across the gray concrete,

a miniature crime scene leftover from when the orange tabby nick and i saw on the way to school was slinking around the tree in question.

the tree.

i looked up into the bare branches, hoping to find a nest to put the tiny egg back into and finding nothing.

the tabby must’ve knocked it from the tree and the mother bird would never try to look for her lost babies, she would just simply lay more and incubate until they hatched, little purple and pink skinned veiny babies, life still perilous for them until they grew feathers and could fly away.

i turned my attention back to the egg that rested in my palm, now warm from my own body heat.

the part of me that will forever be nine suggested that we could incubate the egg ourselves and the baby could still be born.

the adult part of me replied that incubation would be impossible and even if the egg hatched, caring for a newborn chick would be equally impossible.

we should let it go and leave it for nature.

leave it for nature.

i look back at the egg in my hand, my fingers curled around it to protect it from falling and i marvel at how beautiful something so tiny could be and i can’t bring myself to drop it in the grass where i know it will be smashed and destroyed, yet i could find no nests on the walk back to my house.

so i sit, with a tiny kernel of possibilities in my palm, mourning for just a moment the life inside that will never be.

—“the circle of life”

Season Seven, Episode Three: Fractals

I give so much of me up
To those who don’t deserve it
(So much kindness to ones
Who end up selfish and shitty)
Knowing that they won’t change.
Yet I continue breaking off little bits of myself,
Handing off the smallest slivers,
Trying to fix their problems,
Agonizing over things I cannot control,
Hoping that one day
Someone will appreciate me

Instead of using me up.

–08/14/2018

Season Seven, Episode Two: Benediction

sundays

–growing up, sundays were for family
that’s what dad always said–

mom woke us up early
took us to church, where we sat on the kneelers and listened to father mcgonegal,
his big booming voice talking about god and jesus and how we should be better human beings 
i used to sit on the padded kneelers and draw on the back of the sunday bulletin with a pen my mom had buried at the bottom of her purse
careful not to press too hard on the paper because i was afraid if i accidentally wrote on the wooden bench of the pew
god would somehow know and be disappointed in me.
(i was too young to be pissing off omnipotent deities)
not really paying attention to the broadway musical of the liturgy of the eucharist going on behind me
this is the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, do this in memory of me

–years later i would sneak away during mass to the cvs across the street, losing myself among the lip glosses and single slabs of eyeshadows that i’d sometimes fantasize about slipping in my pocket 
because dad would forget to give me my allowance and i was afraid to remind him
always making my way back to church just in time for communion–

sundays were for family

back at home
mom would make bacon and eggs and pancakes
grits for dad, he loved to put half a block of cheddar cheese in them
dad’s breakfast was first, especially if he had drank his first breakfast before we came back from mass
if mom didn’t take care of dad first, there would be screaming and yelling 
and sometimes dad’s fist would find mom’s cheekbone
then she would cry,
saltwater mixed with bacon grease, 
a brunch version of christ’s baptism

sundays were for family

if my friends called, i would have to quickly talk and then hang up the phone 
because the lord’s day wasn’t for the things i could do on saturday
and lashawn you are always on that phone a bit too much, always running your mouth about some nonsense 
why don’t you come over here so i can show you what tonight’s pick three is gonna be
i dreamed about your great uncle again, that means death, 769 is gonna come out or maybe his birthday, 214
where the fuck is your mother, i bet she’s sitting in the kitchen reading some damn book again 
when i was your age i had to sit and read the bible on sunday afternoon or else i’d get the switch 
i would sit there and half listen, watching him spend my allowance on state licensed and operated number running
i wasn’t quite sure gambling was part of the lord’s day

sundays were for family 

hop the top for twenty, horn high aces for five 
doesn’t anyone here spend time with their family, it’s sunday
hands throwing twenties into the center of the table,
dice hitting the back wall and landing on 7
that final stanza of the biblical sabbath,
off-broadway but juliet still always dies
cleaning up the cheques just to set them up again
father mcgonegal sermonizes no more,
his pastorage taken because he got high on pig tranquilizers and asked a park ranger for a quickie 
go in peace to love and serve the lord

sundays 

–07/29/2018

Season Seven, Episode One: Ghosted

I thought that I’d miss you 
once you’d inevitably leave
but here I am
and there you’ve gone

and I don’t miss you
not one bit
I’ve stopped crying over ghosts.

                             

                   –“Untitled”, 03/24/2018

Season Six, Episode Three: A Shout Into The Void

Zach—

Hey kid.  Shit, I can’t believe it’s been one year already—seems like it was just yesterday that Courtney messaged me on Facebook to tell me that you had died.  It seems like just yesterday that I screamed in the darkness of my bedroom when I read that message, not caring if my neighbor heard me, my mind not even comprehending that you were dead.

Dead.  You weren’t supposed to die, Z.  We all prayed and begged the heavens that you would wake up, that we would get to see that goofy grin and hear you say “yooooo what’s good, why y’all look so sad…I’m okay”.  That we would get to show you the pictures we took at the benefit held in your honor, tell you how worried we had been and how relieved we were that you made it, even if your brain and body needed some work.  But you didn’t wake up.  You died in some hospital bed in Metro because your body had just been through too much.  You weren’t supposed to die, Z.  You just weren’t.

I remember calling Reggie and Rico, texting Mike…not really being able to see my phone screen because I was crying so hard I was hyperventilating.  I’m not a crier and yet I cried more tears that day than I think I have in my entire lifetime—so many tears that I had to throw my contacts away that night because they were so full of salt.  Lydia came and sat with me on my porch while I cried and insisted that you weren’t supposed to die because you were Zach.  You were so young and bubbly and kind and so full of life and you honestly were the last person I ever would have expected to say goodbye to in a funeral home.  Even though I don’t want to, I can still see you in that casket, bow ties at your feet (because there really was no better way to pay tribute), hat on your head…I remember staring at your face, covered in that makeup that fails so badly at making a cadaver look lifelike, trying to find something that was you…I was in shock and denial and told myself there was no way that was you lying there.  I remember looking at your hands and for some reason that triggered the switch inside me that said yes, this is Zach.  I remember rushing past everyone to go outside and compose myself because I didn’t want to cry in front of everyone in that funeral home, but I cried anyway when I was back in that room, tears running down my face as I stood next to Maria and watched the video of you through your entire life.  I remember thinking how unfair it was to have to say goodbye to you, how unfair that we were all so broken, how unfair that you were gone.

It’s still unfair.  I lost my best friend.  Your friends miss you, and your family aches for you.  Your kids are doing well, your mother posts pics of them often on Facebook.  I bought them presents for their birthday and so many of us bought them things for their first Christmas without you.  I guess it’s a blessing and a curse that they were too young to understand what was going on, and too young to have really made tangible memories with you…it makes the loss easier and harder at the same time.  They really are the cutest kids—your daughter is a beautiful little girl and your son has your personality from what I saw at the dinner after the funeral and from what your mom shares on social media.  I try to check in on your mom every now and then, I know it’s what you would have done if roles were reversed in this situation.  She’s such a strong woman and I see that you got a lot of who you were from her.  You would be proud of her strength.

It’s been a hard year for me, and you dying was the first in the series of deaths I had to face—but you know that, because if there is some sort of an afterlife you are there with my dad and grandpa.  I hope that you are keeping my dad company because I know he misses me and you two would get along so well.  It was very hard to lose my dad and to not have you here to comfort me and to keep my mind busy, but you would have been happy to see that I kept it together and pushed through.  I never realized how hard it would be to not have you here—other friends have stepped up, but it doesn’t fill the void completely.

I miss you.  So much.  It’s insane how often I forget you are gone and I find myself wanting to text you about the stupidest, most random things.  I wish I could call you and sit on my floor and just talk to you—you had a way of being deep and inspiring one minute, and then silly and ridiculous the next.  I miss you coming over and hanging out on my porch with me and just bullshitting while you sit on the steps and smoke your Black and Mild.  I miss how you used to hide behind things and then jump out and scare me, and how hard you would laugh because you thought it was hilarious.  I miss walking out of the craps pit with you, arm in arm, laughing and carrying on like we did when we still worked together, making fun of you on break when you still had that old ass phone that you had before your iPhone, and hanging out with you when we would all go to the club.  I find myself scrolling through our old texts, looking at photos, laughing at goofy videos I have of you, and just reminiscing with everyone.  Your death has left such a hole in our circle of friends—Craig and Daesha moved to Las Vegas, I barely speak to a few in the group, and we aren’t as close as we all used to be.  I haven’t stepped foot in a nightclub since you died, and I haven’t gone Downtown to party since last June.  It just doesn’t feel right.

I wish I could tell you that your family got justice in your death, but they really didn’t.  The two men who killed you were sentenced to eight years in prison, and that doesn’t seem like nearly enough.  Your life was worth so much more.  You were truly a one-of-a-kind person who made an impression on everyone you met, and you were destined for great things that never came into fruition because you accidentally bumped into someone in a club.  Yet again, I’ll say that wasn’t fair.  So many things about your death were not fair.

I think about you all the time, I’m sure all your friends do.  It stormed last night and I got this impulse to run in my backyard and play in the rain, and I decided that if there is some sort of a heaven I hope that you get to look down at us and see moments like that and smile.  I hope you check in on all of us, that you have peace where you are, and that you are as happy as you can be without being on earth with us.  I hope that you are wearing those skinny corduroy pants that you loved (cuffed at the ankles, of course), some Converses, that Army jacket you sweet-talked that lady at Chelsea’s into selling you, and your NY Jets cap, because no one could wear any of that like you.  We all teased you, but you wore your unique style so well.  You were a special individual that we were all so lucky to know, kid.  I hope you knew that.  I hope you knew that you made a difference in the world, and it’s hard for someone to do that–you managed to make such a positive impact on so many people in your short lifetime, and it breaks my heart that we will never get to see what you could have done had you lived.

I don’t think we truly knew how blessed we were to know you until you were gone.

I’m gonna wrap this up the best I can, I could probably go on, but I don’t have an eternity like you do!  Keep watching over us, and we will keep trying to make your memory live on.

I love you, Boo Bear.  Always will.

Shawnster

 

 

Season Six, Episode One: Daddy’s Girl

“you’re so strong”, they say

as if I had a choice

as if there was any alternative.

you taught me to be strong,

and you were the strongest man I know.

you were my first best friend,

my truest friend

you got me when no one else did

a perk I guess of sharing some of the same DNA

you taught me how to properly dunk mini donuts into a glass of milk

tried to teach me to play the keyboard, 

but I was too impatient to learn.

you taught me to be gracious

told me that I was capable of the world and so much more

I learned to appreciate sports from you

learned to carry an intelligent conversation

how to make people laugh.

I inherited your stubbornness

the tendency to work too much.

I’m certain that my love of true crime came from you 

and I will miss watching our “murder mysteries” together 

because of you I’ve never felt short,

even though I’m the tiniest person in the family

confident in every step I take, head up because your daughter would never, could never, won’t ever walk with her head bowed down

you passed on your fierce pride,

along with your quick and ferocious temper

I think of you constantly, 

pushing my sadness aside because it does not bode well to dwell on tragedy

I hope to make you proud one day, if the human soul exists

if your human soul is somewhere out there

I hope that wherever you are, you smile and say 

“you see that strong and accomplished woman? that’s my baby girl, my Caker Boo.”
I love you, Dad.

                    –“Sunday, November 13, 2016 @ 7:28 pm”







George Chillious, 04/26/1944-11/13/2016