Starship helms are my only certainty. Though I suppose naval vessels are not far off. I see a page ripped out of a children’s book, perhaps it’s historical fiction having to do with pirates. These bandits are romanticized and glamorized because they do not exist anymore, at least, not in the living history of the western world. I imagine their world to be quite filthy and morally bankrupt, but also perhaps the best they could do with their lives at that given time. Individual tragedy and destitution can sometimes lead to less than savory opportunities falling into one’s lap, and with a low-life expectancy into old age, the offer must’ve been more appealing than undiagnosed depression. Wooden ships must creak often. They must be regarded as some work of art, at least beyond my capabilities. There at the helm, a steering wheel perhaps not as full of splinters as one might imagine. It takes great strength and fortitude to steer and direct a ship. The rudder must be operational at all times. That doesn’t seem to be a possible repair on a high sea voyage. I’d imagine the vantage point to be nice and serene, a glimpse at peace before a hellish, stormy hurricane. Shoes are worn. Beards thick and at risk of lice. The sun hot and promising sunburn. The interior cabins rank and crawling with … something better left unsaid. The brig must be a miserable place. And all for what? Gold? Humans value some kind of currency. Whether it’s paper or metal or goods in trade. There’s always something that somebody wants. The captain of this ship must have an eye patch and out of his one good eye he watches this helmsman closely so he may have the illusion of control. Peg-legs must’ve been difficult to maintain back then. Any sort of amputation. The rockiness of the seas must not have been kind. Sea air a combination of refreshing and sick. I’m not sure if I ever could have been one to gain my sea legs…Cannonballs as playthings, toys for men. Destructive and decisive with their direction and intention. How many last words never said, poems of the high seas never left the boat which the creator died on? To sink the bottom of the ocean, and to know this certainty is your fate, must be a terrifying concept to grasp.
A ghost evaporates up from the sewer drain on a dark and humid night, intermingling undetected within the fog. From this abandoned street, no one bears witness, but there are echos of faraway sirens, the barking of dogs, the screeching of brakes. The tall buildings that soar upwards capture these sounds and amplify them, confusing their originating direction. The compass has no hands or markers but is only a circle with no context. The ghost is see-through. Cartoon Scooby-Doo landscape. The big bad city of Gotham. Batman crossover. Where to haunt next? A couple rounds the corner, unsuspecting. They are talking in low voices, softly laughing. They walk arm-in-arm, closely. The ghost makes his move from behind. Drifting, floating, ever-so slowly and eventually coming up behind them with a “BOO!”. It is loud, and raucous, reverberation reflecting off skyscrapers and apartments. But the couple is oblivious and does not hear him. The ghost grows frustrated. He tries it again, and cannot explain why the couple does not turn and budge.
The bathroom tile is a middleground between teal and aquamarine. I remember the day this small closet-like space was spackled white, the expert precision in which the workmen laid and cut the tile, little squares, decorative with purpose. Now there’s someone inside the bathroom with the door locked, wretching. Whispers of prayer and profanity come through the little crack of the door on the bottom. In the dark, a golden beam of light eeks out. The occupant has no strength left to reach back up and turn it off, hangovers are never kind or easy or negotiable. How could I ever forget the taste of sour bile? Acidic and cutting, helpless to stop the waves of nausea. Vomiting is surrender. Body takes over and mind shuts off. You close your eyes and wish for it to be over. Wish to forget dinner and all the decisions that led up to this moment, even if those decisions were made lifetimes ago. Shaking with a cold sweat. I recall those moments. I watch the still, wooden door and become mildly aware of the morning light beginning to lift away the clouds of night. The shades and curtains begin to show themselves again. My bare feet are embedded in the carpet. This is their home now. Afraid to move. Time to confront. Deep sighs, gasping, pleading. This is punishment now. The Bible tells us that sinners will eventually need to come to their knees, well here we are. One final spit. The light turns off. I hear the running water of the sink, cleverly masking the sobbing which only I can hear. Every Sunday morning does not need to start this way, but it does. I, sleepless and worried and numb. He, momentarily remorseful and apologetic. It will fade. It will not last. This cycle will start back up again. And I will be standing outside the door, cold with no slippers, waiting for a call for help, an opportunity to be of use that will never come. The tile on the bathroom floor must be cold and unkind.
Blood vessels hum inside my nostrils at warm cinnamon wafting through the room. Winter, fall, cozy curling up in a space that’s full of love and family and the blissful daze after a big meal. The carpet is clean and vacuumed. Silk pillows neatly stacked in the corner. I want to sprinkle at little bit of this everywhere, just in case I’m in some sort of serotonin future drought. The watering hole of the mind that sometimes comes up empty like dry river beds on the African plain. Where dirt is dust, and sand is commonplace. I pray for rains. A deluge to bring me home through its current. Whether that’s tears, or a page in a notebook, a letter to myself; Writing home. You sometimes don’t need stamps for that. Forgetting the obvious and recalling that if you just spin the top this reality can soon melt away. And rules of physics you thought were undeniable can suddenly change. To step on pavement that gives like gum. There is more to realize I think now. Stepping away after a long trip. Bags inside factories, cash crops of nations. I seal my envelopes with my saliva still. The nasty sweet.
A man in an oversized, deep trenchcoat with matching fedora fabric beckons slyly, his bulging eyes moving his menacing eyebrows side to side as he glances to ensure he is not noticed. His face is ugly, like a knot on an old tree that is disfigured and stuck there. The trenchcoat is open and he is dressed in black. His large, arthritic hands suffer the same fate as his face, disfigured and large, looking painful in their oversized, swollen form. He breathes heavy and erratic. One step away from a cardiac event that never comes. One step between purgatory and hell. His breath smells overpoweringly of cigarettes and coffee, the van door is open and he again, hurriedly motions to her to step inside. The girl is scared, uncertain. She wants to run, but is frozen to the spot. The fall, after-school wind sways her dress side-to-side. He takes a step forward and girl flinches, turns her face away, afraid. Suddenly a siren, and the evil spell is broken. He bolts back to the van, frantically looking around before shutting the door. The gas pedal pressure is a frantic acceleration, steering wheel making waves like it’s being held from the tip of a crayon.