Adventures – “Supersonic Home”

My head feels like a baked potato fresh out of the oven; my brains are the fluffy white spuds inside. For hours, I’ve done my best Tony Robbins impression, psyching myself up to stand and reach for the Low-Carb Monster resting on my desk.

When I finally find the courage to move, I nearly collapse into the pile of used tissues and Sprite bottles littering the ground.

I sip the Monster. Feel my strength returning. Turn on iTunes in an attempt to raise my phlegm-soaked spirits.

Cruel as it can be, the Universe doles out small doses of justice from time to time, and as terrible as it feels to be sick, it’s almost worth it for the rush of endorphins that flood my body at the crest of a flu.

Emotions bubble to the surface, pushing hairs stiff, waving a cool chill over my feverish flesh. I find comfort in repetition. Especially on bad days. I wrap myself in a warm blanket of familiarity, watching old movies, listening to old albums, anything new feeling alien and draining, but sickness has made me brave, so I click on a band I’ve never heard of and travel back through time.

School was where I learned that emotions are dangerous. Smiling, laughing, crying, any outward expression of feelings was an invitation to be bullied. On the bus, I did everything in my power to look straight ahead and make my face into a stone. I didn’t want people asking me, what are you smiling about? What’s so funny? My safety was directly related to the horizontal orientation of my lips and eyes. Everything was a fight. My clothes, my hair, my music, my race, it was all open for interpretation, and it could be interpreted as wrong. It was rough in middle school, and it got even worse in high school. My classmates didn’t want to get to know me. They wanted to find out my weaknesses and exploit them.

At least, that’s what I thought before I joined Mr. Collin’s class.

Adventures is a new band. “Supersonic Home” is the last song on their album of the same name. This was what music sounded like when I was 15. Hearing it now takes me back to my creative writing class with my favorite teacher. Imagine Kevin James if he was 5’5’’ and liked to rap, freestyling about Temescal Canyon High School’s wrestling team at pep rallies. Officially, it was a class about creative writing, but in reality it was a class about creativity. The assignment every week was to turn something in. Anything we wanted, a painting, a poem, a video, sculptures, people did all kinds of things, made skits, collaborated. Some played acoustic guitar and sang. Mind-blowing. It didn’t seem like school. No textbook, no tests, the class wasn’t about learning what the teacher wanted to teach; it was about teaching the rest of the class about yourself. The structure of the class was weird enough, but the people were the thing that shocked me the most. I was the only sophomore in the class. Everyone else was a senior, and they were the strangest people I had ever met.

They didn’t seem interested in dissecting me, criticizing my every layer of existence like it held a hidden treasure. They smiled and cried. They loved things and weren’t afraid to brag about it. Their goal in life wasn’t to be invulnerable. They just wanted to be happy, and if that made them easy targets, so be it. They were flaming-hot Cheeto-eating fat-asses, goths, nerds, queers, anime-watching wimps, girls who didn’t wear make-up, people who didn’t give a shit.

I never knew people like them even existed.

They were what I needed.

Jenny was the first friend I made in the class. She was part of the local music scene. If there was a club for the local hardcore bands, she would have been the one taking the minutes. I was obsessed with music, and she had a story for every band I could think of. She saw DieRadioDie before they broke up, the only good emo band in Lake Elsinore. She’d been to all the classic shows at the Showcase Theatre and Chain Reaction. Zao, Poison the Well, Bleeding Through, you name it, she was there and had the hoodie to prove it. I had just started really caring about music, and I was fucking impressed. She was short and fat. Her boyfriend was a tall shredded stud. I looked up to her. I had a crush on her boyfriend’s little sister, Ashley. She was an identical twin with Amy, but I liked Ashley because she was meaner. I thought being able to tell them apart would impress her. She hated me. Her hair was strawberry blonde and her eyeballs were all I thought about for a year. All my favorite songs were about failed love, so our situation made perfect sense.

Adventures makes me think back to that time. Back then, it would take me 8 hours to download a new song from Saves the Day or The Beautiful Mistake. Many nights I’d stay up just listening to the same 3 songs on repeat. There was something different about this music than all the other rock I’d heard growing up. Something amateurish and desperate about it that made it seem current and relevant.

I knew the voices in these songs.

I heard them in the record stores or waiting in line for shows.

It was punk, but it wasn’t vulgar.

It was sweet, but it wasn’t commercialized.

It was honest and vulnerable in a way that bands on MTV never could be. It was easy to make fun of. That’s what I loved about it.

It reminded me of the people in my creative writing class.

What Are You Thinking About?

In my dreams,

I clutch a bat

in my right hand.

 

I pummel

hair gel through heads,

wound thin mustaches

purple with glee.

 

I swing wild at

polos tucked into slacks

and clipboard-holding hands

who dare ask my phone plan.

 

I murder anyone

bold enough to acknowledge me.

 

I run nude through the streets

where no cars drive,

no eyes ask,

what happened to your clothes?

 

The love of my life

transfers to San Francisco,

I’d really love to come.

It’s just not possible now.

 

My family joins a cult,

now so much happier,

I keep the money

for the deprogrammer I saved,

spend it on a trip to Shanghai.

 

I read novels on the porch,

a shotgun at my side,

don’t look up

when I hear the footsteps.

I just shoot

and shoot

and shoot

 

Until nobody knows my name.

Red Onions

There is a man with his back

on a cold counter. Sweet sausage

grease in the air, his nose and cheeks.

 

She sings a song he’s never heard,

hacks thick steel through onions

red peppers and green.

 

He watches her neck bare, short hair,

pink spots where white shirt curves

up shoulder, skin the color of old pages.

 

Her naked feet splat upon the cold

cheap floor, and he walks, hard to hear

above the coffee black bubbles and chops.

 

Still, she senses his presence split seconds

before arms squeeze hips, ribs, rests

chin near a clavicle quite sharp.

 

Ow shave she laughs prickled

on her throat, his stiff whiskers digging in,

then cuts her short finger fairly deep.

 

Now the onion, dyed magenta,

looks ready for inspection

in a slide pinched between lenses.

 

He looks at the blood.

Song of the Mantis Shrimp

We’ve been boxing

since the Eocene, studied

the sweet science swinging

at speeds to make Mayweather

blush, throw five-hundred blows

in one human wink.

 

My hands boil

 

break shells upon

crab’s backs like glass.

Which we smash

when men in white coats

kidnap our kind for secrets

held in our cells. Bullets

become feeble for armor

made in our image.

 

I am purple

turquoise

pink ultraviolet neon dappled flame

and see

darkness like daylight,

heat, another paint on God’s easel.

Saw my mother’s heart in beat-burnt lines,

cancer’s black tendrils

in my father’s candy-red chest,

watch the life fade from prey

sunsets of death each time I dine.

 

You will never dream a single glimpse

of my Earth. These eyes, heaven-blessed

witness wonders bestowed for us only.

My people prowl the ocean proud

2-inch Neptunes whose subjects

cower not bow.

He Snores

In his nostrils, air convulses, vortexes of violent wet wind

hurricanes every heave of his chest, emphysema-black gasps,

as his tongue licks, laps and lip smacks. Symphonies

of saliva ring soggy, each inhale he struggles

in the dark, hollow shudders,

Typhoons of sawed logs penetrate

buds, pillows, plugs,

minuet up unwilling

earlobes to wiggle

moist lullabies

languorous

slow

sticky

sighs.

Graceless Princess

Connoisseur of calamity,

Headbutter of car roofs,

door frames, and walls.

She wallops hard desks

Stubs her mighty head,

White rising moon over tied shoes.

 

The stacked paper scatterer

Genius of gaffes

Clumsy Colossus of lawsuits

(although she won’t sue)

 

Virtuoso of woe

Catastrophic Madonna

Nemesis of neatness, order, and glue.

 

Marbles drawn to her feet

like a Pas de deux partner

to help her pirouette to the floor.

 

Maestro of mishaps

Her hair orbits, small eddies in air

as she trips, stumbles, blunders through space

 

Mid-sentence, no permission,

her hands become pitchers

Chuck cokes to black carpets,

The umpire shouts strike four.

 

Pazuzu-possessed her hands suddenly swirl

create constellations of Hors d’oeuvres

 

Like a drunken gymnast

she tumbles

through birth-cakes

stuck landing

catches grandma aflame

 

 

 

 

Breakfast she spills

At dinner, cups drop

For dessert

she hatches

a scheme.

 

With sapphire ice cream

feels safe in the bathroom

but trips on a tampon

Stains blouse, curtains, bathtubs,

her tongue red to blue.

 

Amidst her disasters,

always, always laughter

but her laugh sings loudest of all.

Alive

Then the world reveals itself a place of wonder.

All its pleasures become equal, and you would never dream

of placing beer above ice cream below sex: taste, sight,

love, and pain: all colors in you, and you

an image in a collage that creates the universe:

 

A crystal landscape erupts in your mind

and the clouds form shapes like brains as if God

says here is your boundless intellect, use it to forgive,

and you do, easy as sitting, filled with so much love

it seems silly to keep away from anyone.

 

Grateful, the only word you can conjure and for hours

it repeats in your mind like raindrops pelt a pond:

each plunk and plop reverberate through you, these thank

yous. For the sky you’ve seen since eyes

opened outside. For the dirt that held feet’s first steps.

You are lucky for it all, and only knowing it now,

laugh.