“Give me the towel,” she said.
“I think I love you,” I said.
We ate crackers and drank coca cola,
Waited for the power to go out,
And then made love.
And when we were tired enough to stop talking,
I took the whiskey,
Out of my backpack,
And toasted to the delight,
Of her broken spirit.
We ran, didn’t walk, through the autumn rain,
Until our feet were sore,
With cobblestone marks,
And brown, sticky mud.
We were visiting museums,
And making love in airport restrooms,
Stealing DVDs from the bookstore,
And running naked in the snow.
We were breaking laws,
That brought us no trouble.
And visiting churches and temples,
Synagogues, fountains, and theaters.
Leaving no space for meaning,
To come steal the spark,
That helped our hearts escape,
The everyday rot of purpose,
Ambition, and dreams of consummation.
We didn’t speak of marriage,
Or children, or a big house,
With a big TV, and a garage,
With tools and a kitchen with food.
We didn’t speak of retirement,
And a library beside the drawing room.
We didn’t dream of growing old together,
And dying; buried next to each other.
Of Christmas nights with family and friends,
Of our third child, our fourth, and their lives;
We didn’t dream of any of that.
Instead, we chased the autumn rain,
Chilled our feet in the cruel winter snow,
And ate mushrooms in spring.
Drank beer in summer, broke the law,
Didn’t spare a moment to worry for tomorrow
We were young you see, and alive;
We made love under the cold stars,
Inside the dark of the cold woods;
Mourning, screaming, playing, laughing,
We chased the danger that didn’t knock on our doors.
We fought, and broke each other’s bones,
And hated each other for what he had become;
We cut ourselves with our words,
And rode swiftly through the pavements of our anger.
We trampled upon each other’s dreams,
And killed each other’s spirits.
We broke whatever we could find valuable,
In each other;
And then we made love again.
And when the warm soft secure comfort,
Of a world that made better sense than yesterday,
Came fielding us against our love for life;
We left each other, and danced away,
Love is just a word, and we use it like gasoline,
We flaunt and wave it at the world,
To remind ourselves that we can feel.
We were not in love.
We were alive, together.
The autumn rain still comes and goes,
But I don’t want,
To chase it anymore
We can’t have yesterday forever,
Just like how today will never come again
But we can have pain,
And dance with its many forms,
That give us hope beneath the moonlight
And wait till all we have,
Is coffee, old age, and a notebook.
Image: Broken Love
I remember sitting naked by that creaking window. It was almost cracking because of the icy winds blowing outside.
Pulling out the last cigarette from the red box on the floor, I heard Mora snoring beside me with her legs constantly tossing about the bed in the most annoying way possible. The sun got through the window and she finally woke up, “Fuck Steven, I told you I’ve got work at 9. It’s fucking 11.”
I moved across the bed and kissed her half on the lip and half on the cheek. “Get away, asshole.” She slid off the bed, put on her skirt and sped toward the kitchen. In two minutes, I was alone at home.
I moved to the corner of the room that had the only source of electricity in my resourceful castle that I had leased from an old woman who needed a regular source of money for her Cocaine. The old hag once even tried re-negotiating the stupid lease because she ran out too early in the month. I opened my laptop and tried finishing what was left of last night’s poem that wrote half of itself as I sat spitting out righteous nonsense over my last glass of whisky after making love to Mora. There was always a sense of space that sex with Mora created in me. I sometimes wondered if I used Mora so I could write.
“I’m on tonight. I left the packet by your window. Don’t forget to bring it,” Mora’s message picked me off my ass and got me to take a shower. I picked up the packet and headed straight to Outland Soup Bar. We smoked the last joint dangling in the packet and Mora entered the bar and walked straight up to her spot and began. Outland Soup Bar was a strange place that served soup, salad, and sandwiches and had a live piano performer. For the last month, Mora had made a portion of her living performing here. Along with her day job at an Indian restaurant as a waitress.
She had the sweetest voice that tickled any pair of ears, stoned or not. The only reason I wasted two hours not drinking whisky and drinking soup instead was so I could hear that voice. A voice that traversed the entire range of human emotion as it moved from smooth morbid delight before the piano at the soup bar to endless mourns of eye-rolling ecstasy in bed.
We left the soup place and headed straight to Marlon Mushroom’s Omelet House. Marlon was an acid head who owned a bar. He loved sticking mushrooms in omelets and served every whisky imaginable from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere.
“The usual two June, and dark rum for Mora”. It was always just two whiskeys at a time, but June would always pour them like she cared. That was her job. She didn’t care
“Two for me too, June”. Mora smiled at June and turned back to kiss me on my neck as she suddenly remembered, “How was it today? I wasn’t stoned enough to not give a fuck Steven. I hate playing when I care about the folks listening to me.”
“Not too shabby, darling. Drink up.”
I met Mora six years back when I found her crying alone in a corner at Marlon’s. The reason she was crying, well that’s too long a story and it would take us off track. I remember that evening. It was snowing outside, and the perfume on her neck created a strange woody scent as it met the salt in her tears. I bought her a drink and listened to her whining, for three hours. After I decided I was bored enough, I took her home and gave her some Cocaine. We made love for three days drinking the cheapest whisky in town and watching cartoons on my laptop. We listened to The Doors, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and as she always loved to proclaim, her favorite artist Wanda Jackson. We finally ran out of Cocaine on the fourth morning. So Mora went home. And as I kissed her on her ears by the staircase outside my door, I knew what she was thinking. She was thinking of coming back that night.
That was a bright time in my life. I worked as an editor at a newspaper that lived on tales from Wall Street. Now, I was just writing poetry on a blog that couldn’t afford the cheapest Google Ad Campaign. I had enough savings to drink and eat with Mora for another year. I’d probably think of a job after I ran out.
We drank for three hours at Marlon’s and headed home. It was cold, icy fucking cold. It was so cold that I could feel my balls freeze as I touched the cold doorknob to open the broken wooden door that led into my house.
You’re probably wondering that this is a tale of love between a man and woman who are too high to understand the hardships of honest romance.
You’re wrong. I was madly in love with Mora. But, for Mora, I was her livelihood. Without me, she wouldn’t eat. She couldn’t eat. She wouldn’t have the money to eat. Her jobs paid her shit. She made enough to buy her weed and get to that important sip of whisky that brought her the little sleep that she found. She was a broken woman. It was hard to say if it was really a man that broke her. Some people, man, woman, child, they are just born to live broken. They wait for a reason to break, and then meet their destiny.
As I cradled Mora that night smoking a long, sweet, sentient cigarette, I heard Mora weep again after six long years.
“We don’t talk enough Steven. When we don’t talk, I begin to remember again. And when I begin to remember, I need to cry. And when there’s no tears left, the madness comes.”
“Let’s talk, darling”, I was bored. I’d heard this hundreds of times. But it had been six years, six years since the tears. So I turned a curious ear to what she had to say.
“What’s there for us? Well, to come? If we have to do the same dam thing every day. Off to Outland, then to Marlon’s, and back home and sleep. What else?”
I wasn’t the best person to solve a woman’s existential crisis. But I did the best I can. “I don’t know. If you try and look back, you’ll see that things keep changing. They just feel like they stay the same.”
“You fucker. You’re as useless as I am”. She smiled. And her yellow teeth displayed the deep honesty that had lured me into her life.
“I guess for people like us, it’s best to fight off our dreams. Our past’s been shabby enough to merit suicide, and our future equals our mediocrity in measures of hopelessness.”
“Ah Steven. You’ve always used fancy words when you don’t have an answer. You bastard.”
We didn’t speak for a few minutes. Poured ourselves another drink as Mora’s tears seemed to resurface. I wonder if she was really remembering again. You see Mora used to know love many years ago. Had a good male partner, a husband, yes, who was quite a nice fellow. He died. She got messed up and her broken heart took her waltzing to Marlon’s every evening and that’s how, as you recall, we met.
Like every good woman would, she missed that nice fellow. He died in some car crash. I remember her describing the event to me several times, but I don’t think I ever cared enough to remember. But yes, sometimes at night, she remembered the nice fellow. And tonight she was crying. I think she still loved him. No, she did still love him! And if he could be resurrected, she’d go back. Give up the piano, the waitress skirt, the whisky. She’d give it all up and go back. But since she couldn’t, she settled for me.
They were married, if I recall, for six months. But it’s been six years. Six years of omelets, whisky, and fucking with a beat poet who left the tales of Wall Street to investigate the horrific condition of the human heart. But she still loved that other guy. The nice guy. Marriage is a strange thing, and it has very little to do with poetry. And that’s why I could never understand it.
“Can you sing to me like he would, Steven?” So I sang for her.
“Could you make those meatballs the same way Steven? Like you did last month? The way I told you.” So I made those meatballs, the way the nice guy used to.
I was crazy for this woman. I stubbed my cigarette and stroked her forehead, knowing that in all her dammed misery, here, for a few moments, there was peace inside her.
“Steven, I want to die”. 3 Am. She was up again. I was still drinking, still trying to finish that supposed masterpiece that I knew was reaching the end of its lifecycle asking to be thrown in the trash.
“It’s alright, Mora.” I poured her another whisky. I never expected her to ask me why I was never bothered with her memories. She never did ask anyway.
“If you or anything in the world could make this go away, I would give you fucking anything. Fucking anything. It’s like a sharp rod, hot, and melting, inside me.”
“Listen Mora, just close your eyes.”
So I did what any man in love would do. No job for a while now. I’d been saving those last two lines of Coke. I took her to the dining table, cut them up for her, and made her snort it and smile. She kissed me and downed her whiskey.
I walked her to bed and we made love again. Half an hour, and she wanted another line. I didn’t have any more. Luckily, she was tired enough and fell asleep.
You’re probably wondering what a terrible bastard I am. You can’t understand. Moments create life. Not stories. This was just another moment. And whether sick, pleasant, or plain fucking ugly, it was another unique stroke on the canvas of existence. As for this story, it’s just another chapter amongst the countless volumes on hurt, work, and romantic things.
“5 Am”. I finally hugged Mora and slept. My left palm gripping her left shoulder reminding myself that I loved this woman.
Woke up a few hours later. Picked up the last cigarette from the red box on the floor. Mora wasn’t snoring much this time and her legs were behaving. The sun got through the window and she finally woke up, “Fuck Steven, I told you I’ve got work at 9. It’s fucking 11.”