By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
He was my mentor (on the low), he shared his thoughts (some of them), I shared my food (some of it). He invited me to hear his band; I went every chance I got. I took on his mannerisms, started dressing like him, spitting information I didn't know was inside of me; I had mad knowledge. I didn't realize how serious my transformation was becoming.
"Damn, girl, you look and act just like . . . " I started laughing. I guess I do kinda, sorta. . . . I was reading his books, his stories, listening to his music, and there would be times I'd just sit and contemplate life . . . just like I'd seen him do. I even respected his wifey, yo, she was mad cool, a talent all by herself and she had this brother . . . she got serious props.
I came to realize it wasn't gonna happen. I was much too intimidated to let him know how I really felt, and he was married. So I got married, and moved on.
I saw the brother the other day; I found out he's divorced. Yo, my heart still beats faster, and my mind's always thinking of things to say to keep him talking.
photo: Shawna Enyart
"I remember the first time she kissed meshe said, 'Men are so easy.' "
"That sounds like her. 'New girlfriends for everyone!' She was the first other woman I'd ever been with, but with her it was no big deal."
"She used to lie curled up so she could stare at my navel. She'd say, 'It's like a little cunt!' "
"She was all skin and bones and muscle. She weighed nothing, but she was so strong."
"Best compliment I ever got: A couple of months before she died, she told me one of her girlfriends broke up with her when she told her she couldn't come without thinking about me."
"Uh . . . you got that one too, huh?"
". . . It's still a nice thing to say, I suppose."
"So what did she like to do with you?"
"She liked me to cover her eyes really lightly and whisper how badly I was going to hurt her. Freaked me out at first."
"Jesus. She never told me that. I guess she did like knives."
"Lucky thing for her. And how about you?"
" . . . She had this thing she used to do with her fingers . . . "
" . . . Show me."
"Ahh, I guess I can. Here."
" . . . Wow. Her handsI remember that. I almost thought I saw her scars for a second."
"They were rightdown here. She was so shy about them at first."
"I remember how she used to kiss my chest. . . . I don't know how to describe it"
"Now you get to show me."
"Oh. Yeah, that was itfeel that? You really do kiss like her."
"I can, when I want to."
" . . . "
"Do you want to do to me what she used to do to you?"
" . . . "
" . . . "
"Oh, my God."
"Oh, God, I miss her so much."
"Yeah. Me too."
The Way She Won
1. In summer, Alexiswith nice tan and broken heart, wanting to feel nothingscans the landscape robotically, and is hijacked.
2. She is kissed by a stranger. She kisses back. She walks away.
3. She finds herself in a diner, waiting for the stranger. She scribbles in her notebook, and looks up at the new face. He says, "Hello. How are you? Nice to" An amusement park flops open from the corners of his words. How did dinner become suddenly rigged with buzzers? The restaurant looks different, everything glowing. And now it seems she knew him all along.
4. The broken heart swims through her body, does laps, almost jumps out her throat. She finds herself noticing newsprint again, excited by headlines. She walks with him, her mouth held open by invisible tension, and he kisses her in the middle of sentences. And streets.
5. In Union Square, her back against a pole, she looks up at his face and hears an internal pistol shot. There is a race and she is running it, squirming in his grip as if her body were unclothed. She sees how the city agreesthe Union Square protest swells as she becomes likely to split herself down the middle. Open mouth, open eyes, open lips: a prizeshe recognizes him, instinctively.
6. In the absolute dark of her room, they disappear, and she walks her mouth down his body, finds and loses him ecstatically. She will kiss what she finds wherever she finds it, lock invisible eyes with him, come and gasp. She gives her thigh to his thigh, her hand to his mouth. She is telling him something, in pieces.
7. Word by word, he slides inside heron streets, in rooms, at tablesand without needing to look, she knows him.
When 'Verlaine' Met 'Rimbaud'
I was 19, in my first year of art school, drifting from one genius muse to the next. Brad was a tall, slim, ethereal mess with a razor-thin goatee, a penchant for Basquiat and Artaud, and the attitude of a cool gangster.
We waited on the deserted subway-station platform, glancing at each other until he nervously broke the ice and asked me what I was carrying. "It's a video camera," I replied. We talked about art. He told me he was a poet and suggested we work together, scratching his number onto a torn piece of cardboard with a fountain pen. Three weeks later I phoned him.