That was the summer the fireflies invaded our lives, talking in a secret language that only they understood. Puddles of footsteps reigned in the street. Boys wet with rain, drenched with the sharp smell of gasoline and dreams piled on the corner of the street shooting marbles.
With summer came the expectation of change. Girls arrayed in delicate dresses paraded in our street, going nowhere in particular. They were simply testing the fit of their new virtue.
There were secrets too that died in the sealed lips of the culprits framed inside the black and white photograph that sat on the table in my living room.
A jigsaw puzzle bitten to pieces caused my room to ignite. Before going to bed, I would gaze at the exquisite night sky and watch as thousands of tiny dark spots formed in the shape of a woman sitting on the moon. Wide awake with the suspicion that things would always be too big for me to grasp. I found my sadness that night. Whenever I tried to speak, untrained syllables flapped like a dead fish in my mouth.
The fireflies left the following week. One kid in my neighborhood spotted them going East. We hadn’t packed our bags yet, hadn’t bought our tickets. Their betrayal left a fire inside of my belly that burned a hole on the map of my childhood.
We still played in the vacant parking lots, in our plain clothes. Without the possibilities of getting out, we embraced our new freedom and the wilderness of our local colors; we exchanged heartaches with just one glance. The kaleidoscope of sounds we uttered which sounded foreign to an untrained ear became our advantage.
I still think of that one afternoon; the yellow sun glistening on our skin, the feeling of confetti in the air like we had been chosen to do something great, silently been given a confirmation that we were secretly special.
But I guess they changed their minds. If only I had caught one.
He first saw the flyer on the pavement on the train station just as he was about to board the train. It was a strewn piece of paper that kept following him, given that it got stuck on the bottom of his shoe. He picked it up as the sliding door closed. “Free Your Mind With DreamShare" - We can make your dreams into a reality.
It was the first week of September,
A pair of Dr Martens & tattered jeans
I couldn't quite look at you,
Your friend misspelled
I wish somebody had told me,
We learned a lot of things that year.
One morning I discovered I could write,
We buried our vague disgrace
And just like that our secret was gone.
My heart is dark and heavy
May I invite you for a picnic?
I know you have to go soon.
Fallen cherry blossom,
The ink from his fingernails stained her dress,
He caressed her lips in her sleep.
His deepest secrets, she betrayed.
She looked at him with pain in her eyes,
Jim Puffyblooms was a former seafarer, a now vagabond, semi bona fide petty thief; an everyday collector of found things others might call trash, but a little tweak here and there, a little polish on top, and some glue on that spot, and they are now as good as new salesman.
On his way home from his shady business, Jim decided to take a detour to go perusing, on the account of him being new in this town, after having to make a quick getaway from a jam that he created after an exposed scam. He figured he would explore this new place of opportunity while he was waiting for his broken jaw to heal. Mayhaps, he could even find some ways to make a quick buck.
Jim always carried his trusty potato sack with him. This is where he would keep all his found things, discarded pieces of junk he finds here and there whenever he would go on one of his excursions. Later, like a hocus pocus magician he would transform these unwanted treasures into low quality merchandise that he would then sell in the black market.
He once managed to transform a candelabra into a golden flower vase. Another time on a whim, he followed three giant rats into a dark alley leading up to the city sewer. Just before the rats could set foot in their home, Jim grabbed them by their tails and in one fell swoop, stuffed them inside his traveling potato sack. He later, skinned them and hung them dry and then designed their hides into a fashionable old lady's purse. This one of a kind item fetched quite a sum in the market of illegal activities.
Jim put down his potato sack on the ground and ran down the hill, then hid behind the bushes for a quick piss. When he was out of sight, a little country rabbit discreetly made a beeline for his traveling potato sack; sniffing, shuffling, shopping for some food tidbits that will fit beautifully in his tummy.
Jim spotted the intruder as he was heading back. He walked on his tiptoes as he approached and then without warning sprang on top of the potato sack. He then, tied the opening and closed it with a pair of villainous rubber bands he kept in the back pocket of his trousers.
Darkness fell on the rabbit, but defiantly, he continued to chomp on the morsel of crumbs he found as he rolled this way and that in his new place of captivity. Potato sack perched on top of his left shoulder, Jim Puffyblooms whistled as he visualized the style of hat that he will make from his latest victim. Inspiration stroked his brain and the vision of a Babushka hat made out of a rabbit’s hide flashed in his mind. He smiled to himself while whistling and then laughed in a peculiar way.
He stopped at the village market to get a bite to eat. In one of the eating stalls, he helped himself to a generous amount of boiled potatoes and ham. He put the potato sack next to his right leg as he sat down on a stool; making sure to tap it with his foot after every five spoonfuls of potatoes and ham.
The rabbit gnawed his way out of the potato sack during the second spoonful of potatoes and ham. He made sure just to make the tiniest of holes as to not alert his captor. He then wriggled out of the opening, squeezing his head towards the light, then his body, out of the makeshift prison. Once his feet were back on the ground, he quietly tiptoed on all fours and away he went back to the waiting arms of freedom.
On the fifth spoonful Jimmy Puffyblooms gave the potato sack a tap, something felt different, he tapped it again with his foot. The sound made him jump, he had heard this sound before, his face turned pale. He knew exactly what it was… it was the sound of a missing rabbit. He checked his potato sack, there was a small gaping hole where the rabbit had chewed and wriggled his way out.
Jim dashed out of the eating stall and staggered into the streets. He looked everywhere for his fugitive. He looked in the trash, there was not rabbit. He looked under the carts of apples, oranges, and pears, there was no rabbit. Finally in blind anger he screamed: Abracadabra - a colloquial curse word popular with the young‘uns in the town where Jim Puffyblooms grew up. In modern times this would be the equivalent to the four letter expletive frontmaned by the letter F.
Just as he was yelling out this word he also just happened to be picking up a discarded conciliatory top hat that have flown into the sidewalk to put into his sad potato sack of collected things.
Much to Jim’s amazement as he lifted the top hat, concealed beneath was none other than the runaway rabbit, who was just as surprised as he was to be found. You see, the rabbit thought he was quite a clever chap and have selected the perfect hiding spot.
Nearby, there were some children who were witnessing this spectacle. They cheered and gasped and applauded with glee. One boy whispered, “It's magic!” to a wonderstruck girl. The parents of the children much delighted with this entertainment provided for their beloved offspring deposited a mountain of silver coins on the pavement in front of Jim and the rabbit. At the sound of the singing coins, Jim and the rabbit looked at each other in the eyes, man to hare and came to an instant agreement. They shook on it, and on the count of three, the two accomplices faced the crowd and took a ceremonious bow; giving birth to an impromptu con, a century later would be reclassified as the iconic magic trick.
The Magician’s box arrived at precisely 10 a.m. The UPS guys, didn’t even blink twice when you signed for it. Then together we struggled to drag that thing into your garage. Your motorcycle didn’t seem to mind the company. I on the other hand, had my first bouts of doubts now that our plans were becoming real. But I couldn’t let my cowardice, spoil your excitement. So I kept my nervousness to myself, and smiled at you when you said, ‘Let’s have breakfast first and take a bath, and then we’ll get down to business of changing our lives’.
The magician’s box was only supposed to erase one year of our lives. That’s the deluxe package that we’ve purchased, that one that comes with a payment plan. I don’t even know whose idea was it. But we were both frightened of what we were becoming, so we both jumped at the opportunity of getting a second chance. You wanted to erase just the bad stuff: that night you said and did things you didn’t mean, and I forgave you. We haven’t been able to look at each other in the eyes since.
We knew the risks involved. Sometimes you acquire some other people’s bad memories. When they sneak a second hand box on you, that has absorbed a lot of bad juju. These are called hostile boxes. But the one that we got is brand new. Your friends reassured us that for the amount that we’re dishing out, we get a brand new box- top of the line, the one with the added bonus: the aural spheres. These are supposed to make you feel real good after, like you’ve been dipping in the hot springs and gazing at Mt. Fuji for hours. According to these brochures the effects are supposed to last for weeks; way down at the bottom of pamphlet, it also says: side effects of personal lobotomy may vary depending on the individual.
Then, you took your clothes off without any hesitation, the same way you always do. Pulling your shirt from the top of the neck hole. And then, you undid your belt while looking at me, and I knew for certain that you were ready to do this. Your pants came down like a planned accident. Your boxers, you left on the bathroom floor. Then it was my turn.
There have been rumors flying around that sometimes the box malfunctions and people don’t come back the same. While others say that the Magician’s box is simply a hoax, a rip off scheme that preys on the wicked and the desperate. Then, there’s that hush, hush, reports that say some have been known to get stuck in between. But we’re past that now.
You went first. Then I squeezed in. We kissed. Then, you grabbed the wooden door knob and closed the door from the inside. Your last words to me were, ‘See you on the other side babe’. The darkness engulfed us, and sucked the daylight out of our bodies. I could hear you talking in tongues, communing with some unknown spirits. And I could feel drafts climbing up my feet and enveloping my body. Then, there was silence. I am pretty sure, that neither of us moved. This couldn’t have been no more than a few minutes. After the din died down, I took my first few breaths. Then I heard a click.
The Magician's box has automatically opened up its door for us, and is now ready to welcome us back into a bigger, brighter future. I hear a noise. A fluttering. I get excited. I reach over to grab your hand. But it’s nowhere to be found. Then, I cup my hands to my mouth in horror, I discover my face isn’t there. I try to usher a shriek, but no sound comes out. And just when I was about to enter full panic mode, I see something emerge from our box: a beautiful, yellow butterfly that looks just like you. And just before I could whisper a small goodbye. My consciousness erupts, and I wake up to a different kind of darkness. I guess this is what they call in between.
You walk like a wounded cliché
You’re in love with the games
You bathe yourself in red wine,
You heard irony is back in fashion,
You smile like you are the first man
Nobody has ever been saved,
And bury our memories deep
This is how it happened.
I love the chime of imperfect things,
together they pipe the symphony
of broken dreams.
Desires expressed in solitude
become tomes & zeppelins
in our mind's play.
& those hopes that never yielded feathers;
became mothers and fathers instead.
They sang secret lullabies of goodbyes;
never knowing that their children could fly.
& that teary-eyed expression on your face;
glistening like a bowl of fruits.
It tells me where you have been,
& what it took for you to get here.
So hold that look just a little bit longer,
and never be envious of Venus’
The Bo jingles of dimes in your pockets
is better than any rhymes.
My heart can sing to that tune any day.
So carry that music with a smile.
I’ve been waiting all of this time,
to meet you.
Peter packed his photographs post permission from persnickity Albert- the fabulous, pontificating, palaverous, bossman. Peter was pleasantly surprised with the precipitous reaction of the ants once placed on the qualified quail.
I have this line in my head that I would hear over and over again, " Shine, so I can see you. Shine, so I can see you". In my mind, this almost sounds like an appeal from one person to another to shine like a human beacon so they, we, you & I could find each other. I tried to write a poem about this too. It's half finished, and it's sucky, so I went back to this record instead and tried to finish what I started. This is experimental. I kinda literally dissected Channing's beautiful original Shine record. I hope that's okay:)