Hospitaltown Revisited

(Reading Hospitaltown first will make this make more sense.)

I remember the days in the country
with the silent phones
the sleeping computers
the conversations over Thai food.

I remember the feel of tension
brought by Sunday night
and the way the world felt cold
on a Monday morning
after a Sunday afternoon
in his arms.

They weren’t so long ago.

The city limits of Hospitaltown
expanded so quickly.
Blasting and exit ramps
and freeways and pollution
and stress.

It extended to the country.
Bustle woke the computers
phones chimed endlessly
It was deafening.
We were tired.

We stood looking at the progress
the hideous urban sprawl
choking the landscape.
We just shrugged.

This was inevitable.
Hospitaltown would chase him,
track him, hunt him down.
Hospitaltown had a relentless
insomniac mind of its own.
Hospitaltown would have its man.

I moved to somewhere new,
somewhere quiet.
Where there is space to remember
soft hands, broad shoulders and a velveteen voice.

One day, Hospitaltown will free him.

When that day comes,
maybe he will make use
of my forwarding address.


This marks the end of my time with Male Suitor. Maybe he will be back when circumstances are better, maybe not. I cannot idle, but I would welcome him back. He was kind to me, and I will miss him.


He mainly lives in Hospitaltown
but he visits on the weekends.

Hospitaltown is a lot like Manhattan
abuzz with conversation
cell phones, computers, machinery.
A swirling eddy of technology
and fast decisions.
Patience is expensive.
Eating is expensive.
Sleep is expensive.
The pay barely covers
the cost of living this way.

Saturdays and Sundays, he visits me
in the country.

There is no buzz in the country, no beeping, no machinery.
Phones are quiet.
Meals are events.
Sleep is so cheap even the computers do it.

In that silence,
we converse
we touch
we learn each other
in tiny steps
measured in weekends.

Sunday evening brings a dull sadness,
a sound like a roller coaster car
clicking to the top of a hill.
Click. Click. Click.
Like the ticking of a distant clock
all of the tension
without the giddy anticipation.
From the top of the hill
the next Saturday is so far away.

A kiss goodbye.
A quiet understanding that his chaos begins again.
He drives away
back to the buzz, the phones, the machinery.
I wrap myself in quiet
and get back to work.

I will see him in 6 days
when he returns to the country.

Poetry Corner: The Ivy

The ivy in my sun room
survived the Winter

It sat out in the cold
It didn’t get much sun
I forgot to water it

But come spring
Waxy, light green leaves sprouted anyway

Ivy is forgiving.
I’d have died just to make a point.

I appreciate the ivy’s forgiveness
I’m just not sure I respect it anymore.

Endless Quiet

My mother lives
alone in a condo.

She is surrounded
by objects
tied to 40 years
of memories.

He has her surrounded.

His paintings on the walls
His handwriting on boxes
The tv cables he labeled with tape
The walls he painted
His chair
His side of the bed

She got forever
as far as he could give.
She forgot to check
the fine print.

*Length of forever may vary.
No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.

I imagine it is excruciating.

I picture her going about her day
then opening a drawer,
finding something she forgot
to hide from herself,
and falling apart.

She would never admit it
but she owns that Xanax
for a reason.

Yet still…

Had she feared this
had she resigned herself
to ten cats and solitude

I wouldn’t be here.
Sis wouldn’t be here.

There is very little victory
in ten litter boxes
and endless quiet.

Poetry Jag, Day 2: Excited, Except.

Excited, Except.

Here I was

Excited to wrap my arms around you
bury my face in your neck
and inhale.

Excited to lie beside you
listing all the things I’d missed:
your voice
your hands
your ears
your dimples
the skin on your hips
the soft hair on the back of your head.

I would lie next to you
curled in your arms
and whisper these things in your ear


You are only here
because you are afraid
to wield the axe.

You would rather drag this
slowly through the street
inch by hard, paved inch
until it’s dead.

Look down at it
spiked with gravel and glass
and feel like
The Nice Guy.

It could take weeks.

These are precious
and given only when returned.

No, sir.
Hand me the axe.

Baby’s got a way
with execution.

Poetry Jag, Day 1: The Wren

I’m cleaning out the poetry stash, kids! The good news: the blogs take less time to read. The bad news: it’s poetry! Oh ho ho!


The Wren

Once upon a time, a wren
rare in his land
alit on my finger.
“I will sing for you.”

“You? You will sing for me?
in my land, wrens clog the trees
the endless clamor keeps us awake.
My cat kills ten a day.”

Still, he had other charms.
I brought him home.

He was amusing and smart
had soft feathers
and a kind face.
Ignorant of these things,
he only wished to sing.

As he sat on a sill,
a lady passed.
“A wren! A wren!”
“You realize,” I sighed, “that we have millions?”

“No, YOU have millions.
I am only visiting.
Before today, I thought
wrens were a myth.”

I woke the next day
to find my wren gone.
My clever little songbird
had scrawled a note:

“You may care for me,
but she loves my song.
I care for your affection
but love her adoration.
I have gone to be a myth made real.”

I am still surrounded by wrens.
None so clever
or soft-feathered.

I wear earplugs to sleep.
My cat kills ten a day.

Quick, Get Your Beret.

To answer the unasked questions, yes, this is 1998 and I am 21 and pretentiously drinking Earl Grey tea at Cafe Coco. This can only explain why I am subjecting you to poetry today. Poetry! What’s next? Panic at the Disco fan fiction? Apologies in advance. Emo stupidity today, continuation of 1,000 Christmases tomorrow.


Smile, click.

In pictures from years ago
we all look so innocent.
People always look so happy in pictures, standing, smiling for the camera.

I was there.
We weren’t always happy. Some of us were miserable.
We just stopped being miserable
long enough to smile
and wait for the click.

Smile, click.
In a week, dad’s going to die.

Smile, click.
In six months, he’s going to kill me a little.

Smile, click.
They end up divorced.

Smile, click.
You two will stop speaking.
No one will remember why.

Smile, click.
Within a year, we’ll all be at his funeral.

Smile, click.
He’s going to shoot himself.

There are no time machines to save any of you.

Put on your costumes and smile, my darlings.
Years from now, we will remember being happy

even if we weren’t.


To Your Soles

Dancing happily.
Dancing angrily.
Dancing eulogies.
Dancing to convince everyone we’re ok.
Dancing to convince ourselves we’re ok.
Dancing because it makes us feel less powerless.

If I can boss around a snare
it’s all okay.

Requests come for a reason.
Not because we want something
but because we need it.

This is how I celebrate.
This is how I fight, fuck and bury.
With my boots on.
Like I mean it.

The Red Shoe Diaries

I own a pair of red patent mary janes. I’ve never worn them, but I haven’t put them on eBay either. Each time I see them, I think “I should wear these or sell them” and I wonder why I bought them in the first place. For two years, I’ve been telling myself “those are from that Dorothy costume, before you made red sequin shoes.”

But the shoes that I bought before I made the sequin Dorothy shoes were knee-high red patent shoes. I sold them to a dominatrix from Arkansas who may well be using them to step on clients’ testes. (No lie; she said that’s what they were for. I wonder if she’s hiring.) Somehow, my brain rearranged my life, swapping years to fool itself.

I remembered all of this and resorted the years into their proper folders because I am tagging old blogs, and I hit an old post (newly de-friendlocked, cause three years ago is ancient history). I didn’t know it then, but October 2007 was when I started leaving my body more regularly. Amy’s Life isn’t 24 hours, like CNN. It’s more sporadic, like a season of Charm School.

Every so often, my brain is called upon to do things it doesn’t want to do, but has no choice to do. To protect itself, it disassociates. I never know when I leave my body and watch my life on tv, but I know when I come back because it hurts and I only remember pieces of feelings and events. Telling myself, “I’ll only keep 10 of the 300 mental pictures I took” is the only way to get me to come back to my body.

The longest was a week: the week dad died. I came back to my body somewhere on the highway between Lexington and Nashville. The only way to get me to leave town for 6 days is to leave my body; when I came home, I felt like I’d been gone for 2 years.

When Obadiah died, I came back to my body at Mt. Olivet, eating donuts where we sat and ate donuts the night we met. When Kris died, I came back to my body at Calypso Cafe, eating nachos with Jen in our funeral clothes. I do not lose my mind at funerals. I just leave my body.

This lost time and rearrangement of years would all be very troubling if I minded it, but I don’t. Long as I can remember where I live and don’t misplace my wallet or keys, I guess everything’s OK. It’s just how my brain deals with things, and I’m really trying to get along with my brain a little better these days. We’re stuck with each other, so we might as well try to get along. Besides, it tries so hard.

When it rearranged those years and made me think I bought those red shoes for a Dorothy costume, it was only trying to help. I had forgotten.

I bought those shoes because I was supposed to be one-half of a couples Halloween costume. The breakup happened when the shoes were in the mail. When they arrived, it was like they had come just to spite me. “Hello, we are the shoes with no purpose.”

I thought that I hadn’t been wearing them because they didn’t go with anything. Conscious brain thought they were just the wrong shade of red. Subconscious brain saw them as a symbol of lost hope, failure, disappointment and stupidity. Subconscious brain, for all its good instincts about sketchy neighborhoods and guys who wear too much jewelry, is sometimes like a friend who comes to a party bearing a photo album full of pictures from the year you were chubby.

(If you’re in the mood for ancient history and questionable poetry, the original posts are here and here.)

That Time Again

Today is December 10. In keeping with the tradition of the last 2 years, I’m running the poem again.

Other people have left over the last two years, but strangely, those sting less because the leaving wasn’t voluntary and misunderstood. It’s a special kind of nagging, stabbing between the shoulder blades when someone tells you to your phone’s face that nothing you can do would be good enough to stop the falling piano. Inertia, you know. The little spot between my shoulders will forever be sitting in a taffeta skirt at an airport gate, waiting for some flight that never arrives.

You can go weeks and months without thinking about that taste in your mouth, but it never completely goes away. In a sense, you hope that it doesn’t go away. If it does, it means you don’t care anymore. So, you roll it around in your mouth, get a good taste of it, then spit it out until the next time it bubbles up. The only thing worse than remembering his voice is the idea of not being able to.

For Diah

Memory reared its head it last night’s dream
I was at the airport with a flowering potted plant
Dressed in my finest clothes
Waiting for you

But your plane was late.
I slept at the gate, waking each time a stranger passed
Hoping it was you.
Days went by
My flowering plant wilted and dried to brittle brown sticks
My finest clothes became wrinkled and unkempt
I wondered whether you would ever arrive at all.

Then, out from the gate’s mouth, you came.
I squealed your name and ran to meet you
Swept up in a giant hug and spun around in circles,
I was so happy and you were there-

Then I woke up.

Pop to English Translation: Pitbull – “Hotel Room Service”

If it had an equal, the subtle poetic nuance of Pitbull’s “Hotel Room Service” could only be approached by Sharpie scrawlings in an elementary school bathroom stall. (Translation first, followed by original lyrics in italics.)

Hello, everyone. If I may be so bold, I would appreciate your attention. If you find yourself dancing with someone with whom you’d like to have commitment-free sex later in the evening, please show your intentions by clapping and yelling.

I want everybody to stop what they’re doing. Now if you know you’re with somebody you’re gonna take the hotel room tonight, make some noise…

Please don’t be concerned about the monogamous relationship in which you are involved. Get together a group of your best female friends and join me in my temporary residence.

Forget about your boyfriend and meet me at the hotel room, you can bring your girlfriends and meet me at the hotel room. [x2]
We at the hotel, motel, holiday inn. [x4]

I favor women who enjoy double penetration, anal sex, and/or “the shocker.” I’m available for pretty much any sort of sexual escapade. I would like to inspect your fallopian tubes and, if they are free of sexually transmitted disease, I would like to ejaculate in their direction.

She like that freaky stuff, 2 in the oh! and 1 in the ah!, that kinky stuff, you nasty, but I like your type and like TI its whatever you like. Bring your girls its whatever tonight, your man just left, i’m the plumber tonight, i’ll check your pipes, oh, you the healthy type. Well, here goes some egg whites.

I would like for your nether regions to become well-lubricated, as I would like very much to remove your clothing. I would also enjoy it if you would then remove my clothing so as to facilitate intercourse.

Now gimme that sweet, that nasty that gushy stuff, let me tell you what we gon do. 2 + 2, i’m gon undress you. Then we’re gonna go 3 and 3 you gon’ undress me. Then we’re gon’ go 4 and 4, we gon’ freak some more, but first!

After my musical performance, we will proceed to my place of lodging. Once there, I would appreciate it if you would place your digits in your foodhole, unbutton your shirt and lower your scant undergarment. Again, I would like to point out that you are welcome to bring any female friends you may have. In the event that none of your female friends would like to participate in group sex, I can call one of my female friends who would definitely be interested.

after party in the hotel lobby,
then we off to the room like vroom! put them fingers in your mouth uh open up yout blouse and pull that g-string down south oooo! OK shawty, 1’s company, 2’s a crowd, and 3’s a party. your girl ain’t with it, I got somebody, and by nature she’s naughty.