Dear Mom and Dad,
I wanted to make something clean. Don’t you know? I wanted to make something that was not porous, no matter how closely you looked-and not you, but your machine, lens exponential in its uncompromising pronouncement. Something without fleck or pore, without texture. I wanted to make a surface that exceeded all classical efforts in its commitment to beauty. I did, then. Like everyone.
And everyone who waved a clean hand in this room, sitting at leisure with heads hung up by the song, with legs draped an emphasis on leisurely, with an ear to the wind stung mulberry whisper of some super-attenuated godvice. Everyone lying, and I with my ragged teeth was lying through them, too.
Did I lose my taste for beauty, or did I just cross into the room where its mask was worn? I don’t have to describe to you the closeness of breath on latex. The concave interior, the skin side of the cast, the wires in the dummy’s noodle. Locked in the basement after everyone’s gone for the day, when the pump starts churning, do I risk my pristine Valenciennes thread? Do I come up nude from the inside out?
Whatever I did, Mom and Dad, I did in the loveless swan’s gut of twilight. I did it on a lake with an oar through my heartlike organ. I did it skirts torn in the back field past sunset. I sat bare-bottomed on an anthill and begged for my life, for which the ants had no taste and I had no money.
Like everyone, I eventually pulled my hair tight up under a crown of lilies and proclaimed myself the good bride of keeping doors ajar. Between this realm of mouth speech and that other of minds pitching. I stood with my slippers pointing cold and beloved, one hand yawing into the cool clasp of the other.
In the future when my brute loyalty is safely torn out and pitched from the window moving fast no plates, an unhinged notice will take its place. I’ll never again mistake the painter’s eye for my own when reflected blue and smug and full of anguish.
Your Ugly Little,
listen to this story
Dear Mom and Dad,
Beside the kittens, the parakeets, and the fish, lie the dead dogs drowned in the hole in the house in the basement that’s always filling with water. A cataract eye floats wearily up to the surface. A box of fat books seething musty, a box of ammunition, a box of small records, all blank. What am I doing here, scumming around in your scumbags?
If I could tie anyone up in the basement, in the garage, the little attic-like hutch beneath the dormer, and give him a blue plastic pail to piss into and give him a sandwich and pretend like I forgot his hands were tied and tie him extra tight because I’m prepared for this. I am prepared for this.
Like any house, we have mice, and they die of exposure. To the chemical. I write all my loveletters in chemical and set them on fire in a tin drum in the basement. I piss in the blue pail myself to test it out. I try the ropes against my wrist. I consider the rags; I’ll have to wash his face, I’ll have to keep him clean in ways no one else does. If I could have anyone, I’d bind him to a chair and wedge the chair between the wall and the furnace. He’d like his nest, lined with my t-shirts. I fill three plastic jugs with water, and collect a dozen old paperback books, grizzly romances and supernatural thrillers. When one of the kittens follows me, I scold, no no, it’s for him. It’s for that boy I’m getting. Why is he taking so long?
I pace the street looking for him. I rip the sleeves off a jean jacket and install speakers in the breast pockets. I play the same album at top volume over and over again. Your love is like bad medicine, bad medicine is what I need. I lay down in the street with my nearly invisible tits blasting. Ain’t no doctor that can cure my disease. I’m girls, girls, girls. I’m teasing my hair, teasing my skin, teasing what remains of my muscle tissue. I’ve got my jeans on so tight I can travel back in time. I’m filleted with zippers. The lighter in my pocket catches my pocket on fire. I’m looking for a boy to come back by here, whose hightop sneakers hang loose as hooves. I’m looking for a boy whose dark hair drips grease sorrow fang venom. I’m looking for the geometry of contraband in his back pocket and the evident crush of his balls. When he gets here we’ll know it’s him by his breath rank with hallucinogens and his second rate terror seizure accusing gonna eat me.
Everything’s ready. I flip through a magazine. I try not to disturb the old sleeping bag I’ve unzipped and spread over the chair, try not to leak on its mallard duck lining. I flip through a magazine. Thighless thighs, fractured ribs, netted face restraints. Lovers. I make myself a face restraint out of dental floss and rubber bands. I sit still. He’s taking forever. I flip through a magazine. Tangled hair masks. Bird’s nest cunt. Stretched canvas limb flag, fellatio nation.
In a dream, I crouch in the woods with his arm lodged inside me. I dream we’re married and he uses my hair to scrub the bathroom floor. We’re married and he uses my tongue to check the oil, he uses my eyelashes to strain the grease from the bacon pan, he uses my upturned pelvis to hold his bottle caps. He buys me a pair of stockings made out of lamb’s wool and formaldehyde. He makes a plaster cast of each of my legs and of my crevice. He makes a plaster cast of my diary and then burns the diary in the charcoal grill. He carves his name in my fender and pushes the car slow and dreamily off the cliff. I dream we catch a rat and split it between us. I dream in the basement apartment we find a mosquito queen and her cast of vagabond kittens. I dream we’re sitting wearily beside each other on a floral sofa waiting for our names to be called. These are the lamps in the waiting room for Hell, I say. This is where pesticides come from, I say. I dream we have to get our faces lifted. I dream he’s gone through three gallons of water and I can’t get home in time. I dream we’ve gone to war and in the trench I roll him over and in each of his sockets I find a diamond, right before my own bomb goes off. I wake up panting, and dressed like a widow. I’m wearing one of his pubic hairs in a vial around my neck, which even I know is in poor taste, I’m not so stupid as all that, but oh am I lonely,
Your Ugly Little,
listen to this story
Dear Mom and Dad,
My boyfriend promised to take me out into the woods where we’d live on biodiesel and shit at the base of trees. Where we’d stack up permaculture terraces and farm our own darkofnight mushrooms. Where we’d truffle like pigs and speak the original language. He says he doesn’t believe anything you told him about my dumbbitchheart. He shoos the kittens out of the kitchen sink and gets me a glass of water. It’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me. I won’t drink it. I’ll keep it forever, I tell him I’m going to keep it forever. He tells me that when we leave we can turn the gas on and the lights out and nail a two-by-four over the window.
But then he leaves town alone. He gets a job walking the perimeter of state parks and making out with lonely hikers. He gets a job selling truckers a compound of herbs and ethanol. His job is to keep his name out of the papers. His job is to put children back together with a loose matches and box of steri-strips. He leaves town without me.
I find myself with a lot of time on my hands, so I learn to make incisions. Then I learn to make small doses of chlorine gas. I take a staple gun to all the curtains, I paint the names of show dogs in black nail polish on the living room carpet. I’m so lonely, I can’t stop reading the books on alien abduction.
I try to past-life regress myself, and wake up with one of the kittens retching into my lap. I shave my legs, I shave off my pubic hair, I pluck all the hairs from around my nipples, I reduce my eyebrows to thin arcs of ghostwhite flesh. I volunteer at the only hospice where the dying don’t feel the need to speak politely. I try to volunteer at a center for the developmentally challenged, but a boy I used to fuck works there and thinks I’ve come because I’m pregnant so tells the receptionist I’m stalking him. She walks me out to my car and gives me a package of Fig Newtons and a cigarette and tells me she’ll have to call the cops and men are shitforbrains, anyhow, you know.
I work in a soup kitchen, I place calls for a telethon, I’m always hanging around the neighbor whose brain was pierced by a metal pipe. I learn sign language, I wear a dog tag that alerts medics to a seizure condition I don’t have, I learn to fake a seizure, I learn to take my tongue far back in my throat and kill my bladder. I walk with a limp, I lose fifteen pounds, I wear no make-up, everything I eat turns to stone. While eating a chicken sandwich from the fast-food drive-thru, I hallucinate bells, I see straight through the room into the past. I see the cult leader who loved me before I was born, everything smells charred, I can feel the scorch of an incense stick on my lower back. I take the test to see if I’m worth an afterlife. Is it a pyramid, you ask me, is it a square, is it four wavy lines, is it a sphere with an arrow? Is it?
Your Ugly Little,