On Our Journey to the End of the Earth

On our journey to the end of the earth, we took a Greyhound so old there were cigarette holes in the upholstery.

Out the window there were seagulls and we asked, are they doves or are they angels? And the driver said nothing because his throat was a copper tube made from melted down pennies.

On our journey to the end of the earth, our clothes were blown from our bodies, and we tried not to be ashamed, fingers gripping onto our skin in case that was supposed to go, too, and we tried not to be ashamed about being ashamed.

We walked all night every night, sure each road was the last road, only to see another street still longer in the scorch of the morning sun, until one day, when we’d been gone so long we couldn’t remember where we’d come from or what had come before, we really did find the end.

We saw the universe was an open mouth with no teeth.  We saw the universe was a woman and we already knew her name, Linda, our elementary school lunch lady, hands still swollen and smelling of bleach a decade later.

We stood staring into the abyss, the three of us, you, me and Linda who was now the universe, who’d lost weight since we saw her last, doling out fish sticks to fifth graders all those years ago.

The three of us, unsteady and smiling in the wind of the world and the great gaping greatness of the end before us that would one day absorb us, and the bus driver from before was there too, and so was your old soccer coach, the one that used to tap your bum in a way that made you unsure if it was inappropriate or not.

And then, we didn’t know what to do.  After journeying so long on land too dry to drink from, both too hot and too cold and with only store brand cereal to eat, all we could ask was why we were there and where had we come from?

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Everything

I want to tell you everything that has ever happened to me and for you to bury the everything in an acorn in your back garden where nothing grows.

And on nights where we get too drunk, we will cry as though our bodies are 90% water and we can’t keep it in anymore.  The sun will rise as soon as it sets, and we will trace the lines on our empty palms and ask what happened to everything?  How could we throw everything away?

When I was young, I’d shove my sins through the sieve of the confessional box, straining away the shame of being a human being one whispered misdeed at a time, trying to be good and stay good as each day I got older and everything got harder to resist.

And when are drunk, we will love each other more than when we are sober.  Our skin will be like light and each sunrise will be more beautiful that everything we’ve ever seen.  We’ll feel younger then, like fetuses filled with organs and waiting to be released to a place where we are imperfect and everything is shit and everything is light.

And when I am old, I want to hold everything in my hands and say, here is everything.  I am old and here is everything, and I think that even then, I’ll still be afraid to die, my sins will still be on me after all of that straining away.

I don’t hope to know everything or be everything or see everything.  As of now, I know nothing, but I have a feeling we might be acorns, and I have a feeling we might be light.

After Everyone is Dead


Everything that will happen has already happened.  This rain is making the grass greener and these diseased birds are eating the garbage from the ground.  God continues to text us encouragement although standard messaging fees apply.

The streetlights will turn green even if no one is there to drive away, the bread will turn bad in the freezer no matter how tightly you wrap it, and I have a feeling the earth will continue turning even after everyone is dead.

Heaven is too far to climb to with a ladder and hell cannot have proper ventilation.

Worrying gives you wrinkles and sadness makes you old and here is the reflection of the moon in a puddle and here is the umbrella the crazy man on the bus made from coat hangers and a plastic bag, and here is you and here is me and here is the earth still spinning even after everyone is dead.

Over

Last night, we all walked home without our shoes on.  It was raining, and someone started crying, and suddenly, we were all crying, holding our shoes and crying in this rain the colour of metal. Why are we crying? Someone asked.  I didn’t know his name.  We want to be beautiful.  Someone else said.  I did know her name, but I forget it now.

Hung over, I lie on the couch holding the box with the Ibuprofen in it.  I hold it with my eyes closed, feeling the brail on the box and listening to the Bob Marley the neighbours are blasting through the walls: Iron like a lion in Zion, and they’re playing it so loud that they must be playing it just for me.

Yesterday, I drank coffee until my hands shook and I felt my heart was a foreign object in my body, beating out of time.  I could feel the blood in my veins in rivers under my skin, rushing and rushing and rushing because I wanted to feel something or to not feel something, I wasn’t sure which, until I was afraid of my own heart.  I was afraid that it would beat right out of my chest or leave a bruise on the inside of my ribs.

When I was younger, I’d put on a long sleeve t-shirt and get my brother to tie the sleeves behind my back like a straight jacket.  I’d run around the house pretending I was insane, and I sometimes wonder how that affected me, if that has anything to do with who I am and my current interest in late eighteenth century literature and philosophy.

Next door, they’ve switched from Bob Marley to something quieter, and I think they’re having sex over there, quiet sex to something quieter.

The brail on this Ibuprofen box doesn’t make sense to me.  It’s the freckles on the back of this girl I once loved, another girl I once loved and the night I said what do you need from me, what do you need from me, what can I give you? And she didn’t say anything back, and that’s how I knew it was over.

How Do You Say Peach in Japanese

Cameron McDonald’s forehead’s got a road running through it.  On Sundays in summer, peach sellers travel from Cameron McDonald’s hairline forest with pies and preserves.  The peaches taste like classical music and Cameron’s best smile.  Cameron McDonald doesn’t smile that often, but every time he gets a good one out, the peaches in his hair get twice as sweet and someone in Tokyo wins the lottery.

Cameron McDonald went to Japan in a dream once.  He’ll never get to go in real life.  The peach sellers on his forehead don’t pay enough rent to afford him the trip.  Cameron McDonald doesn’t complain though.  He likes the scratching on his scalp when the peach sellers till the soil.  He likes how the tiny peach pits feel when they tumble from his forehead and bounce off his nose.  When Cameron McDonald goes to sleep at night, he hears the peach sellers’ feet weaving between the trees, and he doesn’t feel alone.

The Man With the Butterfly Heart

His heart was a butterfly.  That isn’t a metaphor.  The butterfly wings flapping made the blood go round.  His blood was as light as the wind.  He was very short and very thin, and he liked throwing rocks at children.  The doctors said his heart was too fragile to let love in.  He hated everything because he had to, bouts of cynicism to keep his health sustained.

He lived all alone in a big house.  He had a dog he had to kill because every time he looked at it he felt the butterfly wings begin to wobble.  He had a big house because the people in the town were always giving him money.  Medically forbidden to love, they thought.  That made them love him move.  Plus, his blood was light as wind and on blustery days before a storm he’d tie himself to a string and sail above the town as a human kite.  Everyone liked that a lot.

He became the town mascot.  They made a museum about him with his dead dog and a few of the rocks he’d thrown at kids.  The more the town loved him, the more the man had to push away.  People brought him cakes and cookies every day.  Depending on the person, he’d sometimes have to spit in their face, shit in their cake and tell them to go away.  A lot of cakes were wasted that way.  The townspeople brought him more and more just so they could say, He shat in my cake, the man with the butterfly heart shat in my cake.

It quickly became a game.  Three people bought the man a boat.  He took the boat from the guy with the weird beard and the harry neck; there was no danger of loving him.  He burned the boat from the girl with the long fingers that smelled like lilacs and rain, and to the guy who’d read him poetry through a window one night, he burned the boat and ran after him holding a flaming chunk of the boat’s frame, intent to kill or maim so that he’d stay away.

It took the man less than a day to realize he was being played.  His loveless heart was now a game.  He felt is heart begin to flutter.  The butterfly began to break.  He realized he’d loved the town all along, a little bit of love for every person, not enough to make a difference one by one.  But now the whole town had turned away.

The man with the butterfly heart died that day.  His heart in little bits now sits in his museum beside the dog, and there’s a little metal plaque beside his grave: we loved this man but not enough was all that the town needed to say.