Forget Me Not
To forget her personal wars she chooses him from a throng of urban pacifists with a secret vendetta for collecting rose scented mommy-clones. He drives her to what-he-calls an “all night diner,” but in reality something much more than that. The windows have cataracts the color of old menus and the coffee urns, dating from before Proctor met Gamble, spout stagnant air. In the back kitchen, by left-behind dish racks, he ties her up Artaud-style and makes her recite the ten most given reasons why a business fails.
Girls in blue heat should never vogue near fire hydrants, the colors never mix, but Miranda was always a slap and a spit to those Butthead dictums. On the dance floor we put Madonna to shame. Be f o re a mirror that‘s longer than my idea of California, I see myself in new angles, unhinged, lines crossing or bifurcating. I’m a bluff on a dime. Unofficially, we are the club’s featured dancers and are hotter than some backroom clergy in Jersey. I’m nursing my fourteenth ru m and coke, light on the liquor but heavy on Sweet Street. While Miranda is still spinning past an ecstatic ocean of faces, tricked into some eternity of smoke and fog, I try to recruit whatever parts of my lungs can still aerate. Outside, we’re under a blue yawn of sky, night tossing day. Pitching her stilettos towards the tailpipe of a taxi, Miranda becomes Mike and I become my proper double with false lips. She still has the best legs this side of a cruiser’s paradise. Be careful, I tell her, this city is scurvy with the edges and open islets of glass. “Too bad, you won’t fuck me,” she says, doing a runway in front of me, the exaggerated lift of the hips. “You don’t know what yo u’re missing.” I remind her that even though we grew up on the same d ow n t own tree, we clung to proximal but different branches. We part ways at the subway, performing a re run and a half of a French kiss that would make the French blush. The way they kiss in old war movies, ships into port and sailor caps in the wind, when someone returned with the most important parts intact. Back home, I collapse on the old futon, my mother out, making sales pitches door to door with women with engraved smiles and pureed voices. She covers most of Bergen County and is edging tow a rds Passaic. I’m almost sober by the time I reach a dream, the part that must overlap with Miranda’s . We’re sitting at the living room table, munching on rye toast, no seeds, orange marmalade, or blueberry jam fresh as morning sex. Below us, a crusade of ants dance over our feet, scurries up our legs. And in this dream, where every creature is either storing energy or too stoked to consume more, I tell Miranda that I want to be in a twenty-four club with windows that never shut properly and exit signs that only glow in the phosphene of your acid morning brain.
She enters the city with the windup and silent tick of the best sex toy, a bounce and a slow burn, recent advances in plastics have made rabbit hearts obsolete. The man with the pug-ugly nose and fat lip tells her to sign on the dotted line and asks her to dance nude. He dims the lights and she’s no choice. Her body turning to wisp and sunblind movement, she dances to an old Edith Piaf and her steps are out-of-sync but below the concrete floor the rabbits of despair swoon and blush. You’re hired, he says in mud-stodgy tone. He proceeds to penetrate her from behind; there is no other way, until she forgets the Plains and the too seldom rain, an angel’s piss, her father used to joke until his rubber band of a heart stretched and nearly killed the both of them. After she found out he had buried The Last Dead Indian, she no longer slept with him. In the city, the evenings take on a purplish hue just before sunset, not entirely toxic, claims the half-blind paperboy who delivers each day’s news with a rasp and a pigeon’s smeared blood across her door. The apartment is paid in full by the club, which is really an after hours hangout for the grifted and the philosophically maimed. She takes her hamburgers medium rare and the pickles remind her of the taste of last night’s penis before she stuffed the stranger’s hypoallergenic apologies in a jar. He made a slow rattle on the way out. Over time, which is kept and set without fail by the rabbits underground, she falls in love with a club-footed mute whose hands play her like a cello. But he too disappears into the London Fog of his own inarticulateness. She cries for days, for no one, really. Then, one evening, the half-blind paper boy knocks, offers her a fistful of damask-scented plastic flowers, cheaper than what she can find on any street corner below neon and electric unblinking eye. No, she says softly, not wanting to wound him any further. She covers her breasts in a blue terrycloth bathrobe and closes the door. That night, on her way to The Strip, she finds a dead pigeon outside her door. It’s wearing a tag with her apartment number. She brings it inside, holds the carcass, petting it, refusing to let it go. She wants to feed it. But that, she knows, is another of life’s great hoaxes and anyway, she’s out of bread.
Dirk Bogarde is your reflection in the kitchen sink. Dirk Bogarde wears your father’s trench coat. Dirk Bogarde looks smashing. Dirk Bogarde looks smashed. Dirk Bogarde blushes on David Frost. Gives the finger to Cannes. Because wants to. He flinches in close-ups. Entices women with suicidal eyes. Or he and you make small talk with Monica Vitti. Oh, how Dirk Bogarde loves good-bye darlings. And uses razor blades for bookmarks. Now mark this--he doesn’t get off. Dirk Bogarde is a face in the crowd. He fakes brain injury after the accident. Dirk says “My injuries are internal.” He packs a Luger on the tram. Believe me he believes Nazis hide in London. You shoot Hitler on The Late Show while Dirk Bogarde stalks a pawnbroker. AND sodomizes shadows. Who is hiding a Pollyanna? How we bleed over tea and crumpets. You gave Dirk Bogard tiny scars on his left iris. He can still read your mail. We lisp before English gentlemen. Dirk Bogarde discovers lipstick on their underwear. You torture a cripple named Josephine Losey. Dirk Bogarde shakes down a Chinese junkie. I'm slapping Belmondo’s whore. Dirk Bogarde taunts a sex-slave with wire-hanger lips. And keeps a gypsy in a jar. I drink desperation on tap. Dirk Bogarde hears snakes under Albert Hall. You do not sign autographs. Dirk Bogarde has a hand up your sister’s panties. In a dream, you wink like a snake in the snatch. Dirk Bogarde donates shoes to the slippery. You slip counterfeit at the bank. Dirk Bogarde enacts your father’s death in the doorway. I walk naked on glass. Dirk Bogarde has a secret. Dirk Bogarde was never Dirk Bogarde. Dirk Bogarde’s clones die sequentially in the rain.
Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest collection of poetry/prose is Future Wars from Another New Calligraphy. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s.