Coverage of me and other train wrecks: my mama, subway nut jobs, sex and the environment.


Zen Master

From the moment he got on the train I sensed trouble. I just picked up on his vibe. He was listening to music on his ipod—Rock from what I could here—and he sat across from me and Rey. I took one look at him and closed my eyes, thinking this is the type where if you make eye contact he starts gay bashing.

Ipod guy’s music is jamming, and he reeks of alcohol. At some point he starts picking a fight with this guy next to him who’s twice his size. I mean this was out of nowhere; there was no buildup, Ipod guy just started going off on Jumbo Guy, who was so Zen about the whole thing. I mean, the man was angry, but you could see him putting the anger aside in order to avoid a physical conflict. Ipod guy would have none of it. He was sloshing around nasty insults to the guy, threatening him and insulting him. A little old man sitting on the same side of the subway as them creaked up and scuttled away, looking to avoid casualty-status should a fight erupt.

Rey and I were stunned. It was scary. That big guy could’ve pounded the drunk Ipod man easily, but he kept a very stern sense of ethics, he made no threats, he simply requested for respect.


Petty Petty

I'm a stubborn fool.

This morning I waited outside the open doors of the subway car so that the passengers on board could get off before I got on. When I finally started moving forward some guy larger than me decided he'd barrel past me and bumped against me several times (no apologies) until I finally elbowed him. I turned to get a better look and thought, shit, this is it, this is where he breaks my glasses.

So then of course fear got me all high on myself and I asked him, as he stared at me and got closer to my face: "what's your problem?" never engage, Alex, never engage, but I never learn my lesson. He asked me the same question and got all up in my face. Are men programmed to battle? I mean the whole thing seems so unlike me but there I was in the middle of a confrontation with another guy.

In an effort to secure my balance before the train started to move and to create some space between me and this guy, I walked towards a pole. He pursued, his face in mine, his eyes locked onto mine, both of us fuming, both of us asking repeatedly, "What's your problem?" Finally I rolled my eyes, laughed cynically, and said, "You know what, it's too early in the morning for this shit." He agreed. There we both stood, fuming still. I thought reading Maria Irene Fornes' MUD would diffuse the situation, so I took out my copy of the play and picked up where I'd left off. Of course, it took me about ten minutes to find where I'd left off because I was still mad at this guy who was standing right next to me. Secretly I hoped he'd see that I was reading a play by a latina and he'd cool off. (Bumper boy had a spanish accent, so I assumed he'd realize I was latino too and joyful cameraderie would replace bile).

Also I hoped that the yoga I did this morning would rub off on him--that a ball of peaceful energy would infuse his fiery heart.

A while into my reading, he started to hum. I couldn't recognize the tune, something melodic and peaceful, with a touch of mourning. Then a seat opened up and he sat. I felt slightly victorious, I'll admit, because here we both were standing there in defiance of each other and it was he who finally gave up the tug of war by sitting like a sisssy. Throughout the train ride I made it a point to be extra vocal and kind anytime I said excuse me if I bumped into someone, just in case my doppelganger was watching.

Finally off the train and onto the sidewalk and on my way to work, breathing through my chakras to regain the peace I'd lost, I hear "Hey man. Hey! Take it easy." It was him. He was talking to me..."You take it easy, too." I thought he was ordering me around and I HATE to be told what to do, especially to be told to take it easy--I will NOT take it easy. He smiled. "Sometimes things happen and it's the wrong place, wrong time, but you're right, we don't got time for that shit. Amen," and he put his and on my shoulder, still smiling. Then he asked me how to get to Rockefeller Center.

I was too shocked to do anything but half smile and stare into my cell phone. Then I walked away feeling like an ogre--here this guy had completely erased his anger and was offering me a smile and friendship and I was still thinking to myself, you fucker YOU bulldozed yourself into ME.


Something Wicked

The three sat together on the E train to Queens. They sat in order of body size so the largest was to the left and the smallest to the right. Whenever a passenger caught their attention they began an assault:

“Look at that vest—why’s she wearing that vest”
“She got it at K Mart”
“Kmart’s too good for HER.”

The woman with the vest looked over her shoulder, not sure of what to do or of whether they were speaking about her. There was a man near her, holding himself steady against the train doors. They started on him:

“What’s wrong with his hand?”
“They shouldn’t let him on this train like that.”
“He’s probably sick in the head.”
“Sick to look at is what he is”

That’s when I noticed the man’s hand was knotted with calcified bulges from what I imagine to be severe arthritis. As a consequence of the deformations, he always looked like he was sticking up his middle finger. That hand that held his weight against the subway doors.

“You guys are terrible, I can’t hang out with you, you’re a bad influence.”

So there was one good one, I thought, not all are evil. Maybe they’re possessed. Maybe one of them is the devil controlling the other two. I hope they don’t start talking about me. Junior High all over again.

Some time passed and I began to think about my day, at some point I must have smiled, well it was just my luck that in my day dreaming I ended up looking in the direction of one of The Three’s pieces of carry-on luggage. I felt her looking at me so I snapped out of it and made eye contact with her, she didn’t flinch. Instead she turned to her sisters and said—

“He’s staring at my luggage! I think he’s gonna steal it.”
“You better be careful, they let all kinds on the train these days.”
“Ew, just look at him.”

I don’t consider myself the catch of the day, but I certainly don’t merit an “ew.” So I turned at looked at Miss Bitch with the luggage, the slim one of the trio, and made eye contact. Again she didn’t flinch. I stared and she stared right back and then she turned to her friends and said:

“He’s staring at me—he’s crazy. What’s wrong with him—look at him!”

And I said “Excuse me, was I staring at something that belonged to you?”
“Yes, you were staring at something that belonged to me,” she parroted even my intonation.
“And is there problem with that?” I pressed.
“Thers IS a problem with that,” she echoed.

So I did the only thing I could. I stared. Stared at her hard and wouldn’t let go, pressed into her with my eyes so I could choke the devil out of her. And she continued to talk to her friends about me, asking why I was staring and what was wrong with me and telling me to mind my own business. “You’ve been making fun of everybody on this train,” but she just yelled some nonsense at me to drown out my voice, so I kept staring. All my loathing I poured into her eyes and finally I said, “You need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror and see whatchu are.” “YOU need to get outta my face!” is what she said. The train came to a halt. This was my stop. “You’re right. I do,” and with that I turned and walked out the door.



For the 6 months prior to starting graduate school I held two jobs so that I could save money. The evening job involved going to bars and clubs around South Beach and giving out free packs of Camel cigarettes. Pretty easy work and sometimes fun. There were quotas involved, but it’s not that difficult to give out free cigarettes in a party town.

One night mama was particularly clingy, so I told her she should come do my cigarette rounds with me. She of course was thrilled that I wanted to spend time with her and got completely dolled up for the evening: A tight spandex top with purple glittery designs and a pair of slim jeans and pink sneakers (she was 64 at the time) and oodles of make up. Consequently when we walked into mama’s first gay bar, Twist, everyone thought she was a drag queen. One drunk boy saw her walking by and said, “Hola, señora, ¿como está?” Mama was about to say hello back, even though she didn’t know the guy, but he reached out and grabbed her breasts, rotating them in his hands as he celebrated, “Qué sabrosa esás, sabrosisima!” And by the way, that translates to “Hello darling, how are you?" and "You're delicious, darling, delicious!”

It was like liberation came face to face repression (and grabbed her tits). Mama was in such a state—she couldn’t speak. For a while she walked around Twist with her purse clutched in front of her chest. I assured her the guy didn’t enjoy it sexually; that it was just a way of greeting another person. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she looked like a dude in drag.

Why do drag queens get felt up all the time, anyway? Is it the desire to test their authenticity that leads to so much touchiness? Or the desire to feel a man in woman's apparel?


All About My Madonna

Last night I watched Madonna's "live" Confessions on a Dancefloor on NBC. When I was younger I was a huge Madonna fan. I knew her full name (Madonna Veronica Louise Ciccone--is that right, do I STILL remember it?), and the names of her back-up singers and dancers and on and on. The only posters hanging on the walls of my room were Madonna posters. Mama loathed them and after I came out she burned them in a fire because she thought Madonna made me gay.

But before Madonna made me gay, I was about 16 and she performed the acclaimed rendition of the song Vogue, a la Marie Antoinette in powder puff wigs, chinoiserie fans, and Louis Quinze (or Quatorze) sets for the MTV Music Video Awards. It was to die for...well, for me anyways. Mama insisted on watching it with me when it first aired, as she insisted on partaking of everything I did. There I was in mama's bedroom watching the mini-TV that rested over her dresser. Mama and I were cozy on her king-sized mattress and the Madonna performance came on. My heart stopped. I was immediately enthralled. Madonna lifted her skirt and let her dancers grab her boobies. Mama was NOT pleased.

"What a slut! Letting those men grab her tits, showing her underwear! Ugh! She's fanning her parts! Turn that OFF!"

I refused; I was too into Madonna's gay tractor beam. "Mami, those guys are all gay, it doesn't mean anything to her."

"They're Gay?!! She's dancing around with devils!!" Devils or no voguing devils, I'm gonna watch my idol, bitch!

Last night was fun, but not nearly as provocative as Madonna used to be. Except for maybe the homoerotic take on Jewish-Muslim conflicts. I guess she can't really top herself anymore. She set the bar so high years ago with the Erotica album that the only sexual thing left she could do would be to shove a five-foot dildo in her ass and spin plates on the base of it while playing her electric guitar.


Bitter Honey

About to get onto the E subway train from Manhattan to Queens at 50th Street but in front of the turnstiles was a stagnant family of six coaching their youngest daughter on how to properly swipe a single-ride Metro Card. Tourists, I imagine. But six of them, at rush hour, the afternoon before Thanksgiving, BLOCKING THE FREAKIN’ TURNSTILES!!!. Ugh. It was more than I could handle. I said excuse me and then pushed my way into the turnstile as I heard the dad say to the 6-year old daughter, “Come on honey, just try it again.” Honey had tried it 4 times while I and other commuters waited impatiently. I did the right thing, right? I wasn’t super rude, but maybe passive aggressive. C’mon, Jesús, forgive me!


English Lies

In Spanish you pronounce words just the way they’re spelled. Each letter has a corresponding sound. In English, though, there are quiet letters, and letters within letters. In the word ‘tough’ the ‘gh’ sounds like an ‘f,’ so why not write an ‘f’? In the word ‘though,’ the ‘gh’ is completely silent. These differences never made sense to mama when I tried to explain them and she still can’t speak English. It’s senseless.

In Spanish each letter of the alphabet is upfront, honest about it’s pronunciation, but in English letters have secrets, they hide their sounds, they conceal other letters. Ergo, Spanish is the language of sincere passion and English is the language of liars.


No Subways, No Mamas, Just YUMMINESS

Ahhhh. I came across this and thought:

We are all human. Connected.

Just yesterday I told Rey about a fantasy involving me as Wily Kat having sex with Tigra from the Thundercats. And someone else has the same fantasy...

The pic on the preceding entry is Cheetara, btw.


On the E train from midtown Manhattan to Jackson Heights, Queens, she sat next to me and from my periphery I saw her:

Sit and put her black bag next to her, her nylon coat made swishing noises. Toss her blond hair twice. Fold her left hand over her right on her lap. Fold her right hand over her left on her lap, and toss and toss again. Slam her heal down slam her heal down, tap her right toe twice, toss her hair, move her hands in the air before her dance-like, stomp stomp, toss, and stop dead cold frozen. Turn her head then look forward, which was just another way of tossing her blond hair, and stop her left heal down then tap her left toe, then stomp, then tap. Get up and take her coat off then fold it quickly and neatly into a poofy square, put it on her lap, take her black bag, put that on her lap and unzip the bag. Pause. Take out a small pad and a pencil and rezip the bag and leave it in her lap now on top of her coat (there were so many stripes on her sweater it was dazzling—red orange blue purple green yellow—all of them!). Toss. Toss. Pause. And start to write.

All in five minutes, between express stops.

Train Manners

We can’t say excuse me anymore on trains, even if we’re trying to get past someone, even if we step on someone’s toes. Nope. Any kind of speaking would involve an interaction of the sort that may lead to an unsightly exchange of emotions such as anger and frustration or worse—joy and fraternal love! Life goes in more smoothly, more efficiently, if absorbed in recline from a comfy seat as if it were projected before us on a two dimensional screen. In the time it takes to push a button life should change to suit us.

It’s better not to speak with strangers on a train; let them entertain us or provide us the comfort of background noise, which reminds us of unborn life inside our mothers’ quilted wombs. If the strangers become annoying, it’s best to push past them or turn away. If they speak to you don’t speak back or anything could happen! And think of the time it would take to speak words and listen to words and be spoken to and perhaps to be handed some words for which you do not have a prepared response. That kind of stress could occupy the rest of your day as you replay the moment over and over figuring out what you should have said. No no—be silent and trudge onward in life. Words are inefficient buttons.


Mamá Asunción

Mama taught me to speak with the spirits that appear to the people in our family. They were real and sentient. Once a week she took me to my Aunt Nina’s for a spiritual cleansing. Fransico and Asunción were the two spirits that used Nina to speak. They were my godparents and they were kind creatures and I enjoyed their presence in her body. I was blessed once a week by their old energies. As Nina prepared to open her body and mind to the spirit world by dimming lights, lighting candles and scattering petals, I would prepare in the bathroom: sometimes I would take off my clothes and be naked for the ritual. Other times I would put on special symbolically colored fabrics or stone ornaments. My favorite was the Florida water that I got to rub all over my hair. It’s hard to remember more details because worship in this religion was like dreaming.

I was to wait in the bathroom until mama called me out and then I’d go to Asunción in my aunt’s living room. The lights were dim. The heavy, tan shades were drawn. I was anointed with scented oils. My body—an offering of color and scent.

Asunción would administer my physical, spiritual and mental health. She’d been an African Queen and then an African Goddess and she was my godmother and spirit healer—kind, gentle hands that would cup my face and a penetrating voice that told me my future and revealed to me the intricacies of my life path. I was always supposed to come ready to ask a question. Mine usually had to do with school, with wanting to do better in school or with wondering how I would do in school. Asunción was joy. I felt loved and cared for and as if all of nature—its trees and plants, every leaf, and all the animals around—and the air and the candles and the scents in Nina’s living room all loved me because Asunción loved me. I was nurtured by gods in the cradle of the universe until one day Jesus spoke to mama and said to her enough. That’s what she says, she says he came into her head and said in a voice clear as day no more, enough.

So she stopped speaking to Francisco and Asunción and we saw a lot less of my aunt as well. That’s when all of our idols at home disappeared. The sculpture of Asunción, the coral beads, the cat’s eyes. In the name of Jesus, mama broke them and burned them in the backyard with the same fire we used to burn our trash mama’s hair would blow witch-like before the crackling flames. I wasn’t even supposed to say my godmother’s name from then on because it would draw spirits to me. I was supposed to pray only to Jesus.

That’s also when we started to go to Methodist church. The first things I learned at Methodist church were what not to do, what was wrong and evil and looked down upon by god. Something inside me was evil—that was the lesson, it’s always the lesson—and always would be evil and all I could do to lessen its effect was cry and pray. I felt horribly alone, carrying this heavy malignant stone inside my chest never able to fully rid myself of it.

There were no flowers in Methodist church. A few candles, and a wash of sunlight through the windows. But no incense. No oils. Empty. Except for wooden seats, bibles made of thinnest paper, strangers who never touched one another with love, and an angry cross pressing its weight onto our souls.


Hava "Creepy Cooky" Nagila

Has anybody else seen the woman (wearing a multicolored ensemble of layered textures) on the F train who plays the mini keyboard that she activates by blowing into it? It’s part keyboard part woodwind and doesn’t belong in any orchestra, except maybe one composed of toy store instruments. It sounds like a whiny robot trying to imitate a clarinet.

With it she plays a medley that begins with Hava Nagila and ends with the Adams Family theme song. One song smoothly blending into another.

Well tonight I saw a someone on the F playing the same instrument, the same medley, but a man. Her husband perhaps? They probably played their own wedding march duet for their marriage ceremony and an 80’s pop medley for the reception afterwards. Did he woo her at her stoop with a rendition of Kenny G’s greatest hits?


The Exorcisms

Every night for several weeks dad and mama pushed the devil outta me. It was mama’s idea after I’d come out as bisexual at 17. She and dad would consecrate the living room with a candle and prayers. The bible lay open to that night’s psalm on the green vinyl couch after she’d read from it out loud. The TV was off, and dad longed to get back to his boxing match, so the exorcisms were fairly quick.

Mama would call my name around 7pm. I was to drop my homework and meet them in front of the couch, where they were standing, holding hands, waiting for me. The lights were dim. The air conditioner brought a chill to the room. I would stand before them, they would encircle me with their arms so I was between them, close enough to smell dad’s beer breath and mama’s lipstick and hairspray.

London Bridge has fallen down, fallen down...the song would fight in my head while mama prayed like thunder so God and the demon could hear. “Lord, we’re here before you to push the devil from our son.” It would begin solemnly and proceed achingly. Mama prayed hard. She squeezed her face up to God, she shook dad’s hands and ended her most precious desires with amen’s. She spoke wind and storm. Her tongue whipping orders to the demon in me.

Her eyes vibrated with reddened anger as she opened them to stare my evil down, “Get out of my son, Satan! Out in the name of God, in the name of Christ. Out SATAN!” Mama’s voice gurgled like hot blood.

If there was a devil in me I wanted him to shield me from her cutting eyes. She said she’d love me always no matter what. But the devil was my only friend then, the only on on my side.

Mama’s frenzy always rose into her eyes and down her cheeks like raging snakes of liquid salt. Once she was crying, we were done for the time. She’d sit. Dad next to her. He would rub her back as she sobbed, and I’d go to my room. And I’d sit until I could finish burying the burning stone of hate.



Let the passengers off the train before you get on. Clear the way so they can get off as smoothly as possible. LET ‘EM OFF FIRST! Or I’ll hit you. I know, you wanna get on and it’s okay, you think, if you bump past a bunch of people trying to exit the train, so long as you get in there and get your pick of the available seats. Well your hunt for retail space is gonna get you punched. I will smack you, I will block your path, I will puch up against your pushy body, I will got out of my way to keep you from getting any seat at all. I will stare at you, I will sneer, and I will blog about your selfish fucking ass.

When global warming peaks and the water wars begin and we’re scrambling for resources, I will shoot you in the face if you can’t share, so start watching Sesame Street reruns now and getcherself an education in how to live on this planet with other people. Have a nice day.


Open Book

In Cuba journals were deadly. Keeping one meant risking your life if the local party leaders decided to conduct an unannounced search of your house. Even without a search, spying neighbors were a threat and being seen writing raised many suspicions. It was best not to express.

Mama had a hard time with my journals. Even though we were in America, not Cuba, she had nothing but contempt for me when I started writing out my thoughts and feelings. It could fall into the wrong hands; you don’t know who might end up with it one day; it could ruin your life. Her warnings didn’t make me tremble so much as laugh. Devastated-teen poetry and plays encoded with sexual innuendo filled my high school journal, as did rants about Shanika’s honesty and Jenny’s superficiality and Kevin’s onion breath.

After I came out, and dad removed the door to my room and the phone from my wall, and both of them listened in on all my telephone conversations because I wasn’t allowed to speak to any males, and after she began following me in her car when I went jogging lest I detour into some man’s bedroom, Mama became more involved in my journal. She called me into the kitchen one Saturday afternoon. In her hand she held it. To her right, on the shiny blue kitchen counter, a Spanish-English dictionary, which she was never able to use well. She demanded, with a sweet tone and a smile on her face, that I translate, out loud, certain entries for her. Ever the obedient one, I did. To resist would have raised suspicions that I wasn’t working with Christ to change my ways as I’d promised mama in exchange for her ceasing to perform nightly exorcisms against the devil of homosexuality that she was sure had taken my soul. “I’m the only person you can ever trust because no one will ever love you as much as I love you,” mama said to me, almost daily, and most certainly anytime she wanted me to share my innermost self. To refuse sharing meant I had something to hide. “Honest people tell their mothers all because they have no dirty secrets.”

Mama wasn’t pleased with my writing. “You can never write about other people. Never write down what you think about other people—you don’t know if one day those people will have power over you and then what? You’ll find yourself in the muck.” She was the only muck I was in.

The metaphors in my poetry and plays became thicker, impenetrable enough to guard their truths from mama’s vigilance. Except they failed. “I know you’ve been writing things about me in codes. I know it’s me. That character in your play is me,” she accused in a later confrontation. She was right. I was writing about her. It was all spiders and webs and snakes coiling and crazy old women chasing innocent men with their dirty brooms. She recognized herself clearly in my mirrors and I hated her for it.

It was war. I hid hateful little mines inside my entries, meant to blow her heart: “Mom, if you’re reading this it’s because I loathe you and you’re a terrible mother.” Of course she’d find my embedded bile, and she’d confront me, and I’d tell her she had to stop, and she wouldn’t. So I stopped. I stopped writing. Because eventually I wanted a phone, and to be allowed to have friends again. I held on to every bit of feeling, and when I felt I would explode, that’s when I stole one of dad’s disposable razors and learned to cut my arms. Finally alive. My blood, freed, my only ink.


Dirty Side Down

“There is a right way and a wrong way to wipe an ass,” mama taught me. She demonstrated the toilet paper folding and wiping technique. I was to take a length of toilet paper, fold it down onto itself along the demarcated lines, ending up with a thick square. I was to wipe once with the square and then fold over the paper in the opposite direction as the original fold. Wipe again. Fold again. Wipe again. Fold again. I was to repeat this until each square had a bit of crap stain on it and was also covering the crap stain from the previous square. Origami fans drool on. It was the technique she’d developed in Cuba in order to save money and make the most of the scarce and precious papel de inodoro, or as proper ladies called it, papel sanitario, which means “sanitary paper,” but reminds me of “sanitary napkins,” and because I’m bilingual the association leads to images of people wiping their asses with absorbent Maxipads.

>The problem with mama’s efficient system wasn't the system itself, it was the Hitleresque vigilance. Because we had a septic tank, we weren’t supposed to flush the toilet paper down the toilet. Not that septic tanks can’t handle toilet paper, but mama thought if we kept the paper out of the toilet it would put less stress on the crap-eating bacteria in the tank thereby saving us money in septic maintenance costs.* The toilet paper waste basket was part of mama’s system. After wiping, we were supposed to put the folded square of dirty toilet paper into the basket with the most recently dirtied side facing down so that guests wouldn’t be offended at the sight of brown spotted paper.

Christ help us if we forgot to put the toilet paper dirty-side-down; mama would bring the entire waste basket to the suspected perpetrator and show it to him. It was just me and dad in the house, so she had a fifty fifty chance of being right. If you didn’t use the paper efficiently, the consequences were far worse. Whenever mama emptied the toilet paper baskets she’d do a spot check, selecting a few wadded squares and unfolding them from end to end. I knew I was in trouble if she’d come into my room with a banner of inefficiently used paper squares. She’d dangle the evidence before me and count the number of crap spots. If each square sheet along the unfurled length of paper did not contain at least one fecal smear, mama would demonstrate her technique once again and would have me practice with the already-used length of toilet paper. It was a feat to avoid touching any of the half-dried crap already on it as I folded. Pretended to wipe. Folded. Pretended again. On and on until I’d convinced her that I was both sorry and rededicated to saving money with each bowel movement.



I’m ashamed to admit it but I was raised a protestant. We were Cuban Methodists, to be precise, and by we I mean me and mama. Dad was a teetering agnostic: Something exists beyond the realm of the senses, he insisted, but he wasn’t sure that something was god. Me and mama had our own religion. We’d had a whole other religion: we worshiped spirits for half a decade, but Jesus spoke to mama and told her “enough is enough.” She immediately quit talking to ghosts and took up chatting with Christ. Enter Methodism. Nothing much to say about it; it was pretty strict: no worshipping nature, no rituals involving scented oils and flower petals the way I’d gotten used to. Methodists are solemn, punctual, and they don’t dance or drink or smoke. They’re not supposed to anyway.

Somewhere along my religious learnings I began to cry for Jesus. Streaming tears anytime I considered how he died for my sins, thinking I was unworthy of such a sacrifice. Why would anybody die for me? So I cried in response, not believing I was worthy of someone’s death. My guilt-ridden relationship to Jesus has kept me modest all these years (appropriate for protestants, I suppose). But it has also kept me from truly enjoying myself. Sometimes, when I orgasm and it feels really really good, I cry, feeling in my gut that I’m not worthy of so much pleasure and happiness and all those yummy feelings. What the fuck?! I mean, a tearful sense of worthlessness make coming (i.e., "cumming") emotionally melodic, as opposed to one-noted, but I kinda want the one-way fly-to-the-sky ticket without all the baggage. Somewhere in the back of my subconscious when I’m convulsing in the thrall of an orgasm there must be that image of Christ bloodying up some slabs of wood. I mean, it doesn't keep me from lubing up my dildo once a week, but still, it's icky poo invasive imagery. Maybe the trick is to sexualize the image of Christ, the way all those Renaissance painters did. Michaelangelo probably suffered from Christgasms too...

PS - if you're a Christian Conservative looking to quote this post to uphold your belief system while demonizing the gays, ask before you quote because I'd be interested in reading your insights once you do.


Education of a Man

Mama noticed I’d made a friend at the Boy Scouts during one of the camping trips so she invited him over...Manuel. At the time there weren’t many houses in our area and most houses around were attached to a small farm. We were surrounded by plenty of empty land. Well, not exactly empty. To my 11-year old curiosity it was full: stinky beetles, lizard eggs, spider webs the size of my torso and snakes that looked like purple flowers.

Manuel was older by about a year or two. He’d been born in Venezuela, so his accent in English was thicker than mine. I was grateful he took mama up on her invitation. Not many people liked to come to our house. I suspect it had something to do with the lack of road. It was what they call a dirt road, except there wasn’t any dirt on it. South Florida is built on limestone, so the road was a limestone road, I suppose. It was dusty in the dry season and not quite white. Potholes as wide as trucks abounded and would always be filled with nervous tadpoles during the rainy half of the year. They’d dart away from car tires and passersby and the occasional heron’s shadow. Coming for a visit meant getting the bottom half of your car muddy and possibly caked with dead tadpoles, so most people avoided us. But Manuel came.

His mother dropped him off at the front gate and drove away quickly. He had his slingshot and I came out to greet him with my bug vaccum in hand. This was a contraption I’d made in school out of tubing, an empty plastic garlic-powder jar, a wad of cheesecloth, and a quarter-sized piece of beeswax that smelled like molten lilies. The vacuum was just that—you could suck a bug into it but without sucking it all the way into your mouth thanks to the well-placed cheesecloth, which I guess was a kind of vacuum filter. If you wanted you could soak a piece of cotton in rubbing alcohol and drop it into the jar. The fumes would kill the bugs. I was a little buddhist as a kid, so I didn’t usually kill the bugs because I felt sorry for them. Dad liked to point at me with a shaking finger and call me a sissy faggot for caring so much about insects. Mind you, I had no qualms about burning ants with a magnifying glass. Well, almost no qualms; I’d give myself a death quota—not more than twenty ants per session. This is a long way to come to tell you about a bug sucker that isn’t even a main part of this story. Really the important thing is that I had a friend that day, one who didn’t mind so much where I lived and was willing to hang out.

Off into the neighboring fields we trekked—Manuel with a slingshot and me with my vacuum and we also each carried a home-made bow with shaved baby sugarcane arrows. We were going hunting, although I just thought were pretend hunting. Manuel was actually intent on killing something.

We entered one of the fields of tall yellow grass, and I noticed Manuel staring at me. I stopped, looked him in the face, and then he remarked you need to walk more tough, like a man. Silence. A breeze. A mockingbird twittering. Whaddo you mean? He showed me you gotta walk like this, otherwise people will make fun of you. Kids did make fun of me, although I don’t think they ever mentioned my walk specifically. Still, Manuel was determined to tutor me. He lead by example and I repeated, trying to mimic the weight of his steps and the angle of his body relative to, well, everything I guess. He took up a lot of space for a skinny Venezuelan. I was skinny too, but shorter than he, and I didn’t take up much space at all.

It wasn't just Manuel's obsession with my gait that kept us from hunting, physics, nature and childhood interest were against us. The sugarcane arrows were too light to pick up any speed, and there weren't any animals to kill. Also, Manuel wasn’t as into bug sucking as I, so we headed back to my house. He kept coaching me the whole way there.

When we got inside, mama had a buffet of snacks ready for us: sliced ham rolled up around chunks of gouda, lard crackers spread with guava paste and cream cheese, and two tall glasses of Sunny Delight which cooled our insides fast. She was quick to ask how the hunt went and Manuel mentioned the Man-training he’d been doing with me. Mama said that was very good and got into a detailed discussion with Manuel about how to correct my stance and my walk, and also the way I talked. There was a lot of manliness missing from me, I guess, so the two of them excitedly coached me in unison.

Now, I wanted to fit in as much as any 11-year old freak, but I hated to be told what to do. Especially hated being told how to move my damn body. It was my body. Of course I didn’t think about it in those words at the time. And I half-heartedly followed through with what Manuel and mama asked of me...while they were asking it...but once Manuel’s mother came to pick him up, I was done. There was no way I was gonna invite that jerk over ever again, I didn't care how grateful mama was of his macho intervention.

For years these rehearsals went on, with mama and dad directing me, either alone or teamed up with occasional cousins and uncles: My steps weren’t heavy enough; I stood up straight but not straight like a man (what's the difference?); my hands were too delicate when they held knives, forks, cups; my wrists bent the wrong way; my voice swished up into inappropriate octaves; sports scared the shit outta me; and when I was sad I’d cry like a faggot.

All day long, everyday, for years, mama and dad tried to rectify these shortcomings. But I still suck cock, cry at movies, and my favorite toy is a ten inch dildo.


Train of Thought

That was a clever title, wasn’t it? Well it’s over. I’m done with cleverness. Finished. I’m killing it for good. I’m so sick of writing that comments on itself, that shines with cleverness. That writing that urges the reader to notice how smart the writer is, how aware. How meaningless, to be self-aware and to write about writing and to point out the writing while writing it--I'm sick of it!

And not just when it occurs in other people’s writing, but in my own. Some time in grad school I was abducted and my skull opened and a thousand little slits cut into my brain. Into each slit they fit a sliver of mirror so my mind could only see itself, in infinite duplication.

This tires me, I want the mirrors gone so there can be a steady unbroken stream of light, instead of light echoed.

Life should be unreflected, even by writing, and writing should be its own kind of life--a pure stream of it.


The Simple Life

When you read stories about mama I want you to think, my god, how did he survive his life this way? I want pity and affection as well. Send me flowers and candies and comfort me in your arms when you spot me on a sidewalk walking with a downward glance. Say’s okay, I understand and I’ll retort you can’t understand because your life was so much easier and you’ll say at least it’s not war, it’s not cancer, it’s not death, you’re alive and I’m here. I’ll defy you—what do you know how tortured I’ve been, it’d be better if I died on a battlefield than being at war with my soul! and my voice shakes just then, a few tears. In your eyes, endless understanding—you’re right, you offer, and stroke my hair, holding back your own desperate weeping.

Come with me, you say, and open up a door behind you and it leads to a garden, no a field—a field of yellow daisies where we spend all day feeding one another ham and cheese sandwiches and skipping down endless hills. Each night, before sleep under the warm moon, you pray that my sufferings can humble you and you give thanks that your life has been so filled with tenderness and a bountiful trust fund. I am so grateful for you, you think to yourself, your hand on my cheek as you lean in to close the day with a kiss.



Long, round metal pipes—about 5 of them—come up vertically out of the oven. A bluish flame burns at each one’s opening. I don’t remember walking to the kitchen, or turning on the flames and am not sure how to turn them off. I don’t need 5 all five, just one.

When I set the cast iron pan over one of the tubes it occurs to me that the pipes are at irregular heights. It’s an idiotic piece of equipment—how can they expect you to cook with flames at different levels? You’re bound to get burned. Still, mama needs dinner and is too busy pollinating passion fruit flowers to come inside. The doctor said to feed her small portions of high protein meals, so I tonight she’s having a thick slab of beef, a steak.

The pan is ready for the meat, which sizzles and fills the air with the smell of garlic and pepper and sour orange juice caramelizing. I notice the cast iron is similar in color to the metal pipes, except...the pipes are more complicated—they’re the color of burning coals: black and grey and radiating red from within. They aren’t hot, though. The metal is thick enough, at least they thought of that, whoever built this contraption.

The steak looks ready, the amount of juice coming bubbling from it is less now and the sizzling has subsided. With a smoke-blackened spatula I pick it up and slide it onto a blue ceramic plate. Mama’s dinner is perfectly cooked to medium. I slice the meat so she can see how juicy it looks. Beautiful. Then from outside I hear her reproach as though she were screaming to me from within the bowels a great canyon: That’s too raw! You don’t know how to cook a steak! , her voice echoed.

It doesn't surprise me. I knew at the beginning of the dream, when I first started cooking, that she would find something wrong. I don't even have to bring it out to her. She just knows, from the smell or the sound, or from reading my thoughts (I'm convinced she's capable), that it is not a steak good enough for her. Done, then, I start to dream of something else.


Saucy Puttanesca

There were two empty seats right next to each other and I was standing right by them. She, on the other hand, was halfway down the train but she saw me make the move and darted towards the seats as if there was only room for one. There were TWO SEATS. Towards the end of her little race against me she tripped over my foot. In fact she didn’t actually fall, she more, like, bumped over my foot. We didn’t look at each other. She sat, then I sat.

She was a slinky woman of average height. Thin bones, short hair, jeans too tight to take off and some kind of wretched vanilla flavored perfume. That is NOT real vanilla, I almost scoffed. Small as she was, Little Miss Slinky Dink took up more space than a mack truck. She sprawled her legs and put her pink high-fructose corn syrup drink on the seat in front of her crotch. Of course since she just left it there like her vagina was some super market shelf, it fell to the floor. If she’d at least squeezed it with her thighs it would’ve stayed put.

She was quietly angry and started movie like a bitter queen. Suddenly her arms swept open a newspaper, the corners of which swiped me in the face. Oh, is that the game we’re playing? I remarked in silence.

The book in front of me was tiny: Margaret Attwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. And I tried to keep my body framed within the confines of my seat as I read, not like Trippy La Asshole next to me who was now jabbing me with her knee, waving the corner of her paper in my face (it was one of those free papers, so I don’t know who she was kidding reading it like it was legit) and the last draw was when I lowered my right shoulder blade so that it wasn’t scrunched up into my body anymore—she pushed herself against me, digging her elbow against my arm. And as the train swished my body side to side, she held firm, pushing and pushing that elbow. Finally, Puttanesca Fresca jerked her paper open wider, as if she was on her own private toilet seat. Of course, this meant now I couldn’t even read my book because her paper covering it.

I know what she was thinking. She was thinking I was pressing up against HER space—never mind the fact that she was taking up more than her fair share. I was to step aside, let her breathe, give her room. But what her petite brain cell didn’t count on was that I am the queen of passive aggressiveness, not SHE. So I smacked her paper to the side and out of my way and gave her the look You Worm!. She gets up and tramples past my body to move to another empty seat, almost tripping over (again) in the process. I should’ve spit on her ass crack as she shuffled away (yes, it was showing above the low skinny waistline of her jeans) but it would’ve been a waste of perfectly good spit.