12 2 / 2013
There is a bruise on your arm, one you have never seen before. You stare at it, wondering what could possibly have bumped into you in the last day to land you with a big purple circle that throbs every time you touch it.
“I woke up, went to the bathroom, went to work, came back, watched TV and went to bed. Woke up, went to the bathroom, went to work, came back, watched TV and went to bed….” Again and again you repeat your day like you’ve forgotten the most important part in a chemistry exam and it just won’t come to you.
The circle stares at you, mocking you, knowing you’d never get it and waits. It radiates heat from the strained blood vessels. Then, subconsciously, unknowingly you start to touch it. You poke it and prod it and squeeze and it hurts every single time.
Your hand gets used to it, hurting yourself, and you find yourself daydreaming about your day, about her, about what you should have done or what could have happened. All the while it still sits there, a poked, prodded, purple hot bruise.
And hour later the purple is lined with a halo of red, an angry crimson aura protesting your own touch against your own skin.
You look at it as you come out from your haze of memories and day dreams. You’ve forgotten the purple-red bruise on your skin. You see, you’ve been too busy poking and prodding at your other bruises to notice.
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11 2 / 2013
Freshly cleaned glass, meticulously scrubbed to perfection. Not one soap sud lingers and light floods through as if there is nothing in its path. She stands there, looking through. The ghosts of her eyes stare back, judging her, despising her.
She takes a step backwards and they vanish. The road outside looks peaceful despite the overwhelming chaos that runs through its river. The people unaware of her imprisonment or the fear that her own eyes cast into her every time their shadows emerge. She takes a step forward again and the orbs appear. She takes another step forward and they come closer, become clearer.
Her hands rise in front of her as if to protect her feeble body and the ghost raises its own hands in synchrony. They both wait for the other to make the first move, they both wait for the attack of the enemy, separated only by the sudless, clean glass. She looks around quickly, the ghost might have friends and hers are nowhere to be seen, it’s alone as well, a minor comfort and a known feeling. They wait again, hands raised and eyes widened.
Slowly, they advance to each other, one step at a time, one breath at a time. She can hear her own pulse ringing in her ear, a warning to flee, but she stands her ground. The ghost looks as frightened as she is, the ghost waits as she waits and both their breaths come quickly, shallowly.
“One more step” she thinks and she prays that this last step wont be her doom. She takes one last look at the ghost and breaths. Her breath, warm and frightened, precipitates on the freshly cleaned glass, reminding her that her reflection would never get past that clear separator, never beyond those chaotic peaceful cars.
31 5 / 2012
A Dangerous Meal
Word to the wise; be careful when you go for that good meal on one of your travels. Be careful of finding that cozy, warm, perfectly lit, tiny restaurant, hidden in a small street in a part of town that you either have to know to get there or stumble upon by the mere chance of the lost traveler.
Watch out for the smiling old maitre de that leads you to the small enough table, close enough to the kitchen to reach the sent of delicious meat, cooked in a way you’ve never experienced before that you’re not even sure if it is meat anymore.
You’ll try to order, but that good old man won’t even hand you a menu. He will smile, head to the kitchen and come back with colors and a long line of smoke that makes its way into your nostrils. The smell will cut off everything else, from the warmth to the coziness; it will make your mouth water like you haven’t eaten in years and years.
The plate will be set before you, impeccably white, cradling the festivities of red, yellow and green vegetables mixed with the meat that you’ve guessed before. You’ll grab the fork and before digging in, you’ll take in the smell, the sent of cumin and nutmeg fuse together but is there another spice there? Hmm, time to eat.
The first bite, though hesitant, explodes in your mouth. You can taste the yellow pepper and the fused cumin and nutmeg jump around with the juicy meat. You feel the need to close your eyes, stop talking, stop thinking and not move a muscle.
The meat disappears and you eat some more, then another bite, oh the bliss. But do be careful; be careful of the far away restaurant in that unknown country in that backstreet. Be careful of the dim lit cozy restaurant, the smiling old man, the mysterious scents and colorful vegetables on the pristine dish. Because when you finish that last piece, leave the street and go home, when your hunger strikes again and you know you can’t go back,
It’ll break your heart.
10 5 / 2012
The Apartment on The Ground Floor
Grandpa sat at his old piano every Friday at ten o’clock in the morning, benched over the keys as if to protect them. His fingers touched the ivory gently, a caress, to play the most beautiful of notes mesmerizing anyone who would dare pass by his apartment on the ground floor. The hot May sun shown through the window, illuminating the washed out white keys and the chipped black ones, as he squinted his wrinkly eyes to see through his half moon spectacles that were only used to see the black dots on the yellowing sheet music.
I’d find my chair and rest, slowly, gently so he would not hear. If he heard me he would stop playing to greet me and his hug could wait until his fingers were done playing. Fridays he wore a brown vest on a white buttoned down shirt and his favorite bowtie. He always had his gold cuffs in on Fridays although he had nowhere to go. His salt and pepper hair was always shiny and combed to perfection, his mustache following the same steps of a mid-century gentleman.
He played a certain piece when he remembered the war. I never knew who wrote it since I was always too astounded by its strength whenever he played it to ask. I could always feel the story slipping through his fingers and they became strong and angry, pounding the keys to anger the piano’s pine along with them.
The window, always open to the busy streets, was a general resting place for the random passerby who would want to listen some more without being seen and driven away by the owners of the house. I found out that people in the neighborhood called the apartment “The Tune House” because apparently, grandpa didn’t only play on Fridays when we would go visit him. He was the life of the street, the soul of the building and the ones surrounding it. He was as famous and so was his open window, having the ability to brighten days and break hearts by touching ivory in such elegance it dizzied whoever tried to follow them.
Chopin’s Waltz in D flat was for when he missed her, my grandma, and he played it so effortlessly, so easily that it made my cousins and I sometimes think that anyone who’s anything could play just as easy. That is until each of us tried and even though we could all play, and some could even somewhat pull it off, none of us could make it sound like waterfalls and teardrops the way he did. The music was so intricate, so fast and yet saddening at times when it grew slow and lonely.
“That’s how she saw me,” he would say, telling us the story for the hundredth time without any of us tiring of it. She walked next to his apartment one day, heard him play it and smiled at him, touching the window pain as she went. He stopped playing and jumped out the window for her name, which she only gave after ten days of passing by his window on her way to work. Each day he would play, she would pass, he would jump out and ask and she would smile and turn away.
I set the tattered picture of his vest covered hunched back and golden cuffs on the keys and left the piano open “The keys have to breath,” he’d say. Tune house wasn’t that anymore but I sat at the washed out, chipped piano keys and started playing Chopin, leaving the pine missing him as much as I did.
25 4 / 2012
The Lost Boy
I see you through my unnoticed spectacles,
I see you, you exist.
You are the sleeping child on the shallow stairs.
You are your own nightlight.
You are the mockingbird without flight.
The blind after the sun’s glare.
You are the lonely candle, shining dimly so bright.
I see your shadows cross your face as you stare,
and the quizzical look at my sight.
I opened my arms, time and time again,
For the lost boy from Neverland.
I waited for your awakening from the shallow stairs
and when you did wake, you sung, spread your wings and took flight.
24 2 / 2012
~William Shakespeare, “Sonnet XCVII”
How like a winter hath my absence been From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year! What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen! What old December’s bareness everywhere!
20 2 / 2012
Magic on Top
He had this hat, you see, a fedora he found in his grandfather’s empty shed in the yard. It was a thing back then in new Orleans for every man to have a fedora, a sleek black hat that automatically made anyone who would wear it incredibly cool.
Old Georg’s hat, however, was special. He would wear it and grab his trumpet and it would practically play on it’s own. “The Bird” ,he called it, would take over his head and his fingers, even his breath and he would play the best jazz and blues music that ever touched any ear and he and the bird would get standing ovations and demands for encores till the early hours of the day.
Christopher loved his music too, but blues and jazz weren’t his genre of choice. Chris was a pianist, a rocker who loved integrating melody into the soul rock. He was an underdog who took three times as long to learn a new piano trick, or a new piece. He thought it was because he was learning classical music when he was young, but he stayed “unworthy of the keys” as his instructor put it even after he tried to switch to rock and roll.
One day, the family reunion of annoying aunts and uncles drove him to the edge and he went and hid in the shed.
The thing was a mess, barely big enough to take a tall 16-year-old boy, but he slouched and sat on the floor, trying to find some peace. He got bored a few minutes later and started looking through his grandpa’s old boxes when he found a sleek shiny hat that looked as if it repelled any speck of dust that dared come near it.
He flipped the hat in his hand and started to look at every part of it until he found, on the inside, a name sewn in “The Bird.” He put it on, and a small tingle spread down his spine as if the bird was waking up from a deep, undisturbed sleep. His mother called for him as they were leaving and he put the hat in his backpack and ran off.
That night, he went to his piano and started practicing. The notes were wrong, the tempo was off and the bridge didn’t fit. It was frustrating as if his fingers were made of wood and his ears of play dough. He started looking around and stretching, then his eyes caught the glimmer of The Bird’s shine peaking from his backpack. He wore it and stared at himself in the mirror, making impressions of Michael Jackson and other musical icons that liked wearing hats. He sat back down, wanting to try the bridge for the last time this day before he went to bed.
The minute he touched the keys, he knew something had changed, the bridge fit and morphed into something spectacular. It was a sort of bluesy rock that he couldn’t master for the life of him, as if something took control of his fingers and they merged with the keys and flowed on them like they would a cloud.
The song was perfected in 5 minutes, recorded in two, posted online and going viral in ten. Chris couldn’t believe himself, not once was one of his songs downloaded, not once did anyone send him an email saying how they’re listening to the song over and over until they can play it in their head.
It felt unreal; he couldn’t sleep that night and started making music for 14 hours strait until he couldn’t play anymore. His songs kept going viral and reaching people in places he didn’t know had Internet to begin with. It kept going for months, he would wear his “favorite hat” and make the best music he could come up with and each and every time, the computer would fill with comments about how people love him and his music.
Then there it was, the day he was called by a label to produce an album, his own face on his own music selling everywhere. He was promised, concerts, arenas filled with people wanting him to sit at his piano and play. And everything started running out of his hand. It was happening too fast, the fame, a 16 year old boy couldn’t get used to this that fast, especially that he knew that his bird had something to do with it. He couldn’t tell anyone, maybe it wouldn’t work then, maybe they would call him a fraud and maybe he was. He kept his signature hat on and played, recording song after song and feeling inadequate with each one. He couldn’t help but think about how The Bird was doing the work for him, he wasn’t that good, not that talented of creative and he hated himself with each day.
Then it came.
He was playing in New York, in Madison Square Garden, a dream of his since he first touched the keys. It was nerve wrecking, unimaginable, how could he play in front of all these people? Would they still cheer for him if they knew about The Bird? He got on stage, the light hit him from everywhere that he couldn’t see a single face in the crowd. Nothing was visible except for his piano and many bodies cheering and screaming for him to play. They knew what he was best at and the started yelling “IMPROV, IMPROV” wanting him to start with an improvisation to get them heated up. He sat at the piano, staring at the black and white bars that stared back at him, disappointed.
He took off his Bird, put it on the piano, and played.
04 2 / 2012
I am a horse, perhaps the last one. The last Arabian stallion left here. I run alone, galloping aimlessly through the dried out fields of dead and dying grass, leaving me perhaps lonelier still. Only onwards do I see and onwards is a world empty from my kind.
I have become the final one, the only one with the dark complexion or the long black hair flying behind me, trying to catch up with my wind. My feet and the grass barely know one another. My speed is unmatched even by the ghosts of my brothers for I have run from death while they succumbed.
My chest heaves and I take in the breath of a living warrior in the flesh. I am the last, the final, the one and I am free while the rest lay imprisoned.
I am Free, I am the rest.
28 1 / 2012
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