Do you think about me when I’m gone?
Or just a seaside shadow
In your mind’s menagerie.
You could know
You’re all I want to know.
Your sweet nave and heart
The chapel where we glow.
I am dreaming this morning. There is an elephant on the deck of a big old boat in a lagoon at night. On the boat with the elephant are performers in hindi costume. Surrounding the lagoon are amazing tall trees, weeping down to touch the waters. We are on a boardwalk on the shore watching the show. There is a mechanical failure in the performance and the ring leader dies instantly. He was supposed to be launched into the air and suspended on vast swath of colorful parachute nylon. The elephant is going into a rage at the death of his master. He attacks the other performers and starts smashing the props on the deck of the boat. I turn and see my grandmother on the dock. She is glowing and smiling. I haven’t seen her for three years, since her funeral. She is healthy and radiant; unlike the gaunt, thin, pale last years.
She says to me, “I love you. You will bring good into the world the same as me. How you told me in your letter.”
I wake up crying.
That mistaken night I fell asleep in your drunken arms.
Your sleepy soft embrace burned into my body’s memory.
As though my starless soul had never lived before.
That night I knew I loved you.
I scandalized your name to my friends, strangers in bars.
I wrote your name on bathroom walls and alley ways.
With black markers and neon spraypaint, I defiled.
I told anyone that would listen what a filthy slut you are.
Midnight stolen car through the storefront where you work.
I broke into matriarch’s penthouse through the skylight.
So I could sit on her plush couch in peace, looking through her glass walls.
And dream over the city of that fragmented night with you.
I climbed the city looking for your embrace or your revile.
Scoffing all the lifeless fools and empty hearts that desist me.
Shattered outside the streets and broke the windows of your family’s home.
I vandalized your name while constant whispered in my heart.
Abhorrent in your starlit eyes.
And I don’t know how to stop.
Will you remember me then
How you know me now
Or remember me then
Only how you allow
We are in a speakeasy in Hollywood. There are several starlets sitting at a booth sucking on lollipops and drinking liquor from short heavy glasses. Dapper men in tuxedos stop by to chat and flirt. The starlets do not seem interested.
“Those girls are the first proliferators of syphilis in Hollywood during the roaring twenties. See that man over there,” she nods toward a very dark black man in a waiter’s uniform with a tray full of glasses. “He is patient zero. He just arrived from Ghana and will infect each of those starlets this very night.”
I realize that we are watching this scene on an old postcard that Celeste is showing to me as we are driving through the hills of Silverlake. The road is winding through the valley and there is a lake ahead. The houses are peeking down from the hills over the valley and the pink and orange sunset is reflecting on the lake. “It’s so beautiful here. Let’s live here,” I say.
I pull the car over at a tall, narrow three story house on the lake. “I want to show you this house. We should buy this house and live here,” I say to Celeste. We go inside the house to look. The rooms are small but the windows are big and the view of the lake is breath-taking. We go from room to room through each floor. When we get to the basement, we find a little baby boy wearing diapers.
“Oh look, the house comes with a baby!” The baby is happy and smiling and making goo goo gah gah sounds. We hold the baby’s hands as it clumsily walks around the basement. The baby stumbles and starts to fall. I see it’s face is filled with fear as it is falling to the floor. I catch the baby and break it’s fall, resting it gently on the floor. I tickle the baby and it starts to giggle gleefully. It is the cutest baby.
I live in an apartment building in London. The flat is dirty and disheveled. There are anonymous roommates and my room is full of expensive electronics and equipment. The back wall of my room has a window that reveals a view of the internal wall. We are moving out today. Everyone is packing up their stuff and I go into my room to pack my belongings. In the window that views into the wall, there is a fire. I start to panic and call 911. The line is busy. I call back and get an operator and tell her that my apartment is on fire, send the fire department. “My fucking apartment is on fire! Help! Send help!” The operator is uninterested and annoyed that a Yankee doodle is bothering her.
I go outside and cross the street to wait for the fire department and see president Obama on the sidewalk.”My apartment is on fire and the 911 operator doesn’t care. I’m not sure the fire department is going to come,” I say.
He looks into my eyes and earnestly speaks, “we must intercede in these times of crisis.”