He wants to take a trip to the ocean. He is not who he is supposed to be. He wants to leave right now. He does not care which end of it he sees so long as this time he sees it with the sun overhead and then the moon, so long as the smell of salt is grainy over his pores so long as the sand takes tiny, white, measured cuts into his feet. He does not care if you go with him. He does not care if he goes alone. There will be women, but there will be no mind to pay to tiny out fits, skin screaming off with the skyline. It would be too cold any way. It would be too desperate.
He will only pack his bag with shirts that came as gifts. He will only pack those from last loves or dead parents or loans from friends. He does not care if they are hand-me-downs. He does not care about the stains along the collar. He will only pack the shirts with the gold already soaked into the stitching from old love’s teeth, from wet lips, from fingerprints, from sweat.
A black sky still waits out his window, angels are stars, his night in shining armor, pearls scraping for reflections. You are asleep on the living room couch, pipe in hand. The TV is on. You have been scared of the bed for weeks. He can hear his job coughing and heaving up the seventh floor of a thirty story scraper a bus ride and a blue line hour across town where the big city cries and tumbles and turns concrete nightmares, poisoning up the roots, as much of a cage as the home state he fled.
He should have stayed. He should have stayed. At least until the cancer got his mother. At least until god took back his father, until the horses dropped to their stomachs and the hummingbirds failed in their bodies by the feeder there dangling on the porch where he should have stayed smoking fluorescent bowls waiting for his sister to come home, reading the books about the things he cannot escape.
He does not care how long the trip takes. If it takes all weekend, if it takes all of the cash in his checking account, if again he gets arrested driving down a country highway on the way home, mistaken as a long lost cocaine smuggler, which he would be if he had the cash. If he had the cash, he would let the tiny white splintered powder up his nose and drip his throat if he had it like they thought he’d had it before. It had just been a thumbnail’s worth.
There will be hotels but he has been here before. He has pulled that old four door sedan up into a tourist beach’s parking lot and tried to sleep on the sand because hotels do not let sandy eyed travelers in until past noon, not until housekeeping has come. He had seen the sun clean a night sky with seagulls and empty lifeguard stands and early rising beach combers with their leather loafers and seashell baskets and metal detector dreams.
He will try not to care that his passenger seat is empty. That Shawn is not there looking out the window, wondering why ever this was an idea at all, not knowing what their 3 am country cop car, plastic back seat, shining handcuffed tight future would be. He will try not to remember totaling that four door sedan all those months later in a drunken drive through midtown looking for a house to sleep, for a dinner cooked, for his blood. He will try not to remember what he left behind. He will try not to remember smoking that first cigarette out of the clink and calling his soon to be ex woman and telling her everything, and her laughing, and his knowing what all was in that laugh and trying to explain it best to Shawn who wanted nothing more than a plate of crab legs to call his own. He will not forget Shawn smoking his own cigarette. He had never seen that before. But the pipe was taken by the pigs. The weed long gone, last bit smoked when they’d first parked their car in that lonely tourist, white bone streaked beach blacktop parking lot, greeting the beached morning with a quick blaze, trying to skip through all the seeds, trying to make the good last.
He should be smiling over black cups of coffee in her midtown bed with the silver hair he always new had it all cut out for him. He should have had the balls to strike at the iron’s hottest. He could have died there. He should have let the skin boil. He should have listened to its streaming jets lie about making the skin smooth and right.
He is praying for buckets and tubs of oysters, raw or steamed, and plenty of red goop and lemon dip to make the rounds, to fill the sea up with what he craves. He is not worried how the moon will look up there. It will be cratered and worn in white dirt, like a terrible laced corset trembling down, down, down into the edge of the water drifting in sparkles and spit down the crooked waves to the shore where she should be waiting. He does not care if there will be any seashells still in tact. There are never any big enough to hear anything anyway.
Now, pieces of white and yolk crack the sky at the horizon hidden under the city, out where the world is about to start moving, aching, making noise. He should have stayed with his friends. He should have stayed where they knew when to keep him quiet and when to keep him screaming.
When did you stop planning the thick paper invitations, the gold and green streamers. When did you stop trying on that dress. When did you stop worrying the debt, the jobs, the terrible secluded life of family, the same sex over and over?
He should be sleeping in southern women’s warm beds, long since given up on their Bible belted gods, who pray silently just before bed so no one can hear how desperately attached at the tongue they are and have been and will forever be to the dirty footsteps that came before, deep planted there into the southern earth. They are those that feel a heart and let it beat. He should have stayed behind where the earth pulsed his own blood, where the torrential summer sweats could save like a thousand stars trying to be screwed in like light bulbs and lasers of an S.A.D. healing lamp in the pits of a sunken, moist jungle beaten down to its knees.
But look there, can’t you see? The sun is almost up and he drops into the dream where the hour is not right for the sun sinking into the sea but it does and everyone is gone. You touch that wall, high and invisible in twilight. The sun moves too fast. You touch and touch follow far off into the ocean until the moon rises the crescent scarred tip of your chin.