Redondo RV

for KG

The air smelled all Georgio and ocean in LA and my body worked so well I felt nothing, nothing, which is what health and vitality are, feeling nothing but heat on the bed, body on the sheets, the summer smell of my body in that not-new crusty motorhome parked outside Aunt’s house at the top of a street on a hill on a curve. It shouldn’t have worked parking on the ridge between Torrance and, over there, Redondo.  The street was too small but she loved that RV and parked it in front of her house after she picked me up at Beck’s, my other grandpa, the one I hadn’t seen in so long. He didn’t know where I’d been or why, how I hitchhiked across the Utah desert and Nevada and slept with a truck driver in a cheap motel with shitty beds because I was fourteen and my step-dad threw me out of the car in Salt Lake.

He didn’t ask and I didn’t say. She knew but didn’t say anything.  We had that in common.

I sometimes go back to that hill but nothing’s there anymore except I am in that bed over the cab, my own little place because there was no room in Aunt’s house. She acted embarrassed but to me it was heaven and I told her I couldn’t think of a more-fun thing to do.  I ran to it that first night to fuck around because I was only fourteen and didn’t know how to pick up sex then and the whole thing was mine so I jammed myself thinking about the missionaries that used to come knocking on the door and the new nylon shorts I was wearing, the blue running shorts she bought me with the slit up the leg so high, and I couldn’t be stopped and nobody was around and they probably couldn’t see even though the little cab-light was on and they probably saw, or saw the camper moving, but I didn’t think about that too long because it felt so good.  Nobody said anything the next morning, not even her son, even though he looked at me weird and they’d have to be blind not to see.

I was a nice boy everyone pitied because I was not strong and who my step-dad married. Someone once said at his church “For what he’s been through…Heavenly Father sure made him smart.” Skinny arms and twig legs and desire for those missionaries, desire so wild I yelled the first time I came and then it became a contest to see how far it could go until I knew I was gay and not just friends with guys and my first thought was “Cool.”  Then all hell broke loose again and I’m almost fifteen in an RV parked on a curve at the top of a hill. I want so many guys I feel like a whore back when being a whore was dangerous because AIDS was out so I’m fucking around above the cab amazed at how I smell and happy. Aunt drives me to Universal Studios the next day and says she thought she washed the sheets but evidently not and opens the windows as she drives up the 405 freeway. This is the first time I feel like a man.  Everything changes. I didn’t think it would — I wanted time to kiss Bryce and use my body with him and have someone beautiful take me away.  But she smelled the sheets and I was proud and didn’t need Bryce or mom or a dad because I was sure.

It’s all good now. There’s no need to go back to my glorious skin or dream other whores out there waiting to be touched and taken and left so they can go to work the next day and then home to kids and husbands who know nothing.  I go back to that bed over the cab that smelled of sweat and cum because I love how the story began and I watch everything that’s happened and say:

“Fuck you were a skinny whore.”

I feel good.  I feel fifty while I sit at the table, stay up for the words because they are strong and true and because this is who I want to be, where I want to be, writing under a crap light while people wonder what the fuck I’m doing parked on this goddamn hill.

Photo by Sebastian Huxley on Unsplash

*

Blazer’s Ask

Blaise was sure something would go wrong because something always went wrong even though he planned everything down to the minute he would be standing outside Shawn Stellar’s house knowing full well his best friend would be staying after school for a detention Blaise made sure Shawn got and would have to serve Tuesday, April 11.  That was the most important detail because Blaise could only be sure Shawn’s father would be home after school on Tuesdays and he had something very important to ask him.  But now that he stood outside the door on a cold and almost rainy and gray Tuesday in April Blaise couldn’t knock on the door. Maybe Mr. Stellar wouldn’t be working on his old car or had to go to the store for something that just couldn’t wait or maybe Shawn’s mother was going to be there when he really needed to talk with Mr. Stellar man-to-man and not with the whole family around.  All this was too important to be entrusted to Blaise’s very full mind that was getting more and more full by the minute when the door opened and Mr. Stellar asked if he was going to knock or just wanted to stand outside all afternoon long…

Continue Here.

*

Oxnard Street Poet

Older than the sidewalk cracks and
street, settled on his flaking porch,
he remembered the Valley when it was trees.

“I’m ready to not be old,”
he said as I passed by.
His eyes were uncommonly blue,
for an old man.
He said: “They published my poem.”
I was on my way to school,
about to not stop.
“Once I get the book,
I’ll read it to you.”

*

The book cost $49.95.
He held up the flyer they sent.
But he was proud, 
so I said nothing.

*

“Hallo,” he’d say,
waving from his chair.
“Hello,” I’d say,
not wanting to be rude.
Lovely day,
awesome morning,
top of the world,
hello, hallo,
have a good day.

Joe was great-uncle wrinkled,
and I had class to get to,
I was a Senior.
But everyone should talk
to a grandpa sitting on a porch.

*

He asked if I wanted to read his poem.
The book was thick with cheap paper.
I was late but said yes
and the poem was about apples
and I didn’t have to make something up.
It was worth more than the book.

“Do you like it?” he asked.
“I want to read it to my English class.”
Joe gave me his book.
He said to be careful with it.
“I never got published before.”

*

We sat watching cars
speed down Oxnard Street,
heads moving left to right
then back again, ready.

*

Joe made coffee
and I listened to stories.
He voted for Roosevelt
and Nixon, twice —

“bet you no one’ll ever tell you that!” —

He didn’t like his grand-daughter.
He said I wouldn’t either.
“Uppity.  Ugliness is inner.”
He said if you wanted to get 
a pothole fixed in LA,
put a movie-camera next to it
and the mayor would come fill it himself.

He so near the end
talked to me so near the beginning,
said we were bookends on God’s shelf.
His hands trembled, so I carried the cups.
“That’s what age does,
shakes us loose
from the inside out.”

*

The Oxnard Street poet and
an uppity kid who learned to listen
to words warmed by coffee
and care
and age.

More poetry here.

Stories? Here.

BackAlley Jack

Learning from the best. A new story.

“Our future’s so bright we gotta wear shades.”

Every graduation speech, ever

Everyone tells stories in high school, about what they do and who they get with.   The baseball team at Van Nuys High School, 13000 Oxnard Street, Van Nuys, California, was a great source of these stories.  Whether they were true or not — that didn’t matter. They kept our minds from imploding under the weight of Curricular Standards of Achievement. 

It was 1985, and we were all just waiting to get out into the world, any world. And when that seemed impossible, or would take too long, we took matters into our own hands.  It’s called in Educational Literature “The Creative Relationship to Boredom.”

Where would we be without boredom?  Probably still eating raw meat.

There was Toby “the Bat” Bauer, slugger, blond, a man-child who would eventually go bald and who, it seemed, could inspire quite a few of the teachers.


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