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Albertsons on Sunday

The air is fresh
and cold for Las Vegas.

Sun blaring I can
just make out
the bumble bee

yellow Volkswagen
Beetle parked in the
spot opposite mine.

It is an original –
the back windows above
a vanity plate
that says

TXSkier are covered
in those black and
white oval stickers
with the abbreviations

of places. I watch
the old man in a
navy vet baseball

cap and thick glasses
struggle with the
non plastic substitue
bags that he is carrying
in for a fleeting instant

while I lock my car.

In the candy aisle a
woman is enthusiastically
helping a different old man
pick out the flavor of

potato chips that
would be best suited
for his Granddaughter.

He thanks her, she waves
goodbye and tells him
to have a wonderful
day.

He makes a noise, a satisfied
sigh of sorts that reminds me
of my Papa Reno.

I toss my items their
basket, a temporary
new home.

The vanilla cocoanut
milks are the heaviest
(I always get two)
but it’s Sunday and I
have the day off so

who cares. In line
the old man with the
navy vet hat and bumble
bee yellow Volkswagen
beetle stands behind

me.

“I noticed your car
and I think it is
wonderful.”

I tell him with a smile.

“It is an original. I
have had her since 1960.
The company I worked for
in Memphis, Tennessee would

use those cars as company
cars to take clients
through the forest because
they were easier than trucks.

This engine has 400,000 miles
on it. It is the third engine
in the car.”

“My second Volkswagen had
to have the transmission
replaced. It took five weeks

for them to ferry one over
from Germany. The first one
was space ship blue with

zebra seat covers. His
name was Lennon. We had lots
of adventures.”

I notice that this man
also has two
vanilla coconut milks.

We say goodbye. I have
rare, fleeting moments
sometimes where everything

I thought I lost is
still everywhere

in the most settled
of

ways.

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Belinda Carlisle

They are both
classically trained
piano players.

I watch them
with a glittering
Christmas tree,

fat with tradition
and sparkling wonder
in the background.

“Have you ever heard
the song Heaven is a
Place on Earth?” She

asks. “Sure.”

They both start
to play the song
together on the

piano. We spent
two days and a
night together and

there was no pain.

There was no separation.
Just music and games,
presents and laughs.

I wish I could call up
my social worker from
2002 and tell her

what a beautiful story
we turned out to be.
Chicago is freezing and

gray as ever. The city is
beautiful in it’s monsterous
form I guess. There is a

Dunkin Donuts on every corner
and that’s nice but
the brightest light

plays the piano
with my Husband
in the living room

of her
childhood.

Winter

When she was
about three we
went to the

zoo. I cried
for a day and
a half after

that. It felt
like what splitting
in two and

leaving the other
half would feel
like.

That was 13
years ago. I
am a functional

adult about her
Christmas presents
arriving on time
this year and it

is extra special,
as I get to
see her. She is a

teenager and
I still am
most of the time
too but

we make the
best of it
the
best we can.

I am insecure.
I can’t decide
what we should

do together. or who
and how I am supposed
to be. I’m on

messenger asking
my sister her
opinion and

that splitting
feeling suddenly

returns. Who am I?

Who
is
she?

A4

The power was cut
in the giant sprawling
house. Every time we

heard a knock at
the door we thought
it was the eviction
cops throwing us

out. We had painted

the walls every
bright inappropriate
color for wall paint.

There was a giant
pool surrounded by
tall palm trees.

I felt like a movie
star, in my giant cat
sunglasses and

sequined pink bikini –
a time in my life where
that image was all I
wanted.

We ate Italian food
in the dark and re
told the stories

of the good drug
times. The bad
drug times.

Chicago streets.
Chain

smoking Marlboros
by the carton. Murder
docu drama day time
TV every morning.

“I made so much
art in that house.”

I say wistfully sometimes.
Paint everywhere nobody
gave a shit and we ate

jelly and crackers
for lunch or dinner
if we could find it.

When I needed someone
to believe in me and
love me the most,

it was her. She used to
blow smoke rings and
tell me how famous I’d

be someday and to always
remember this. She

brought me to this
valley.. we’d laugh until
we cried in the

in & out drive thru,
taught me the secret
back way to drive

everywhere in this
town and she never
asked me for anything

in return.

“Do we need to order a
pizza?” Always code
for “This is going to

be a long, dramatic,
drawn out, fucked up
story.”

She was my best friend,
my sister, my mother,
my daughter all in

interchanging parallels
of time. When I drive
south on the 515 towards

Boulder City I
always remember that
first time, seeing

those mountains with
The Crystal Method
Vegas

playing on the radio.

I owe her my life
some days and other
times we don’t talk

for months on end. I never
have to be that me
again but sometimes

I miss her.

=====

Las Vegas, Nevada, Planet Earth

It was validating
for a while.

Waking up at
6 in the morning.

Putting on business
casual clothes.

Driving to work
in morning traffic
with the new

sun. It was

validating for
a while –

rewarding as if
I had arrived
within a life that

was never supposed
to be for me.

Being the professional
adult in the room.

Facilitating four hours
of group therapy a day

wondering why I felt
so exhausted. I never
had a degree or a

single credential but
they just kept
promoting me and in

the end I left my
keys on the counter
and quietly

walked out in the
middle of the day
because I couldn’t

fake stability within
the chaos.

It was nothing like
in the movies. I was
terrified of how

we’d pay the bills
and suddenly – the
validation of

facilitating space,
bank hours, an office
and business casual

attire

was gone and I felt
like I was nothing and
worse. But.

In those three years I
learned to play
ping pong like a

fucking champ. I learned
that nothing but my
own center will validate

my life experience,
and I learned how to feel
what others felt and

not make it about
me.

I went back to my
old job as a server
in a fine dining

restaurant on the
Strip. I was so
grateful they

took me back. I
don’t work much but
when I do I put on

a sexy outfit and
do my hair and face.

I have cute over the
knee sued black boots
and I drive a white

mustang. I like
myself better when
I’m in that car

in my boots at
1 am. I listen to
so much loud

Van Halen in that
car because I know
that someday, I’ll

be old and tell
younger people
what my life in

Las Vegas
was like.

For now I try
not to put
too much into

what I thought
would make me like
myself. Anything

can be validating
for a while but
never in the way

we imagine.

Non specific

It is never a
memory just

the memory.

It’s never
specific until
it is.

Until all of a
sudden it’s

15 years later
and for the
first time in

that time the
entire complete
dialogue of a

poem by Sole1 can
just pop
into my head.

The poem we’d
recite
thousands
of times that I

thought was long
forgotten.

You know they
called you junkie
number one.

They said everything
was wrong with me
because I

missed you so much
at an inconvenient
time. I was a kid

and the older I get,
the younger of a kid
you were too.

I have done so
much work. So much
writing. So much rage.

So much sadness and
so many reality checks
of what we actually were

and who we would have
lived to die to
become.

I don’t do drugs.
I’ve been clean from
all drugs and alcohol

for seven years. I can’t
remember the last time
I said your name out loud.

It is never
a memory just

the memory.

Of words all put
together it’s a poem

a gift
a haunting.

It would have been
easier if you would have
just become someone
from a lifetime ago

that I

could stalk on the
internet

but
something else
chose the lessons.

I hope you are
resting

in
peace.

Coopers Hawk

I decided to
quit drinking
in April of

2009. I had just
come off a
rough break up –

had split my
face in a club
on the floor

in front of my
x and his fancy
friends. I was

that girl, screaming
and covered in
blood from

what they told me
later.

I got into another
“relationship”

shortly after and
while I have had
a ball character

sketching what a
piece of work that
one was in my

latest novel I

know at the end
of the day it’s
only a reflection

of what I allowed
in my life.

I swore I could stop
drinking – I just
didn’t feel like it

and
some of the
hardest years
of my life were those –

realizing that I
had no control.

February 13 was my
original clean date.

I worked at this
chain restaurant that
sold a lot of shitty

wine in fancy giant
glass cone
shaped decanters.

I started work at
ten am that day.
The sixty

or so decanters were
filled with water and
had to be taken off of
a shelf, dumped out and

dried.

I hadn’t had a drink
in days. No cocktails
to deal, no shots to
have fun, not a single

beer to be able to just
sit with people.

My hands shook and that
was easy to ignore or
say was a result of

9 espresso shots but –
I picked up that

decanter shaking and
dropped it. The shatter
didn’t even make me jump.

I just picked up another
one. Dropped it.

And another.
And another.

I wasn’t sure if I was
shattering them on
purpose or accident.

The floor covered in
water and glass.

Getting clean has been
my greatest salvation

but at first it felt like
exactly what I just
described.

Today I am grateful
for the pain that it
took to come up with

the willingness
to do something

different.