Under a dangerous moon, she invites you over for Egyptian licorice tea. What she doesn't say: Sex will be thorny. Your gooseflesh for ransom. You try to act Gothic Aristocrat, even though your leather is cheap, still smells of the interiors of gone cars. With her frill tie & Cross & Rose knee sox, she makes you feel see-through glass. She is stained. You want to smash through her, a thousand fluttering lights over Tokyo. That would be a truth. Driven to intimate inquiry, your head on her pillow, you notice the asymmetry in her false flash eyes. But you can't move. You're marble. A prisoner of bleach-blonde girls who give angel-sex. But the moon is still dangerous. Not for 10,000 yen will she let you go. By morning, she will have forgotten you. Walking home, down damp streets, past closed garlic & kimchi bars, you listen to the beat of your own wings. You stupid boy. There are only feathers from her pillow. They will turn to snow. You picture her curled in the warmth of her room, just as you left her, your mind her tea cup. Keep walking. Smile. Keep yourself warm.
When he first learned he could fly, Pigeon-boy blushed at the thought of hand-me-down wings. Yet, he learned to dance on street corners, laugh mid-stream at the thought of being lighter than an idea. Then he was hired to carry messages between lovers. The distances increased & Pigeon-boy grew breathless. Sometimes, he delivered messages to the wrong lovers. The notes read I love you, still, or walking on air. Some receivers at the wrong destinations died in air-tight bliss. When this happened, the world grew smaller. One day, a morning where everyone carried some form of artificial sunshine in their pockets, of paper planes released from the sweaty palms of air controllers, Pigeon-boy delivered a note that read: I don't love you anymore. He fell from the sky. A girl named Yugi took him home, brought him back to life with her songs of flight. From then on, Pigeon-boy was wiser with air-time, more cautious about his fly-ways. He circled & landed only within her. In total, they never touched ground. Whenever she breaks open a Chinese cookie, the message is always the same--When the world is cold, stay indoors.
Whenever speechless clouds settle in her eyes, Kat goes shopping at the community center for low-cal peanut butter or garlic-flavored hummus. In her apartment, she does Pilates to make her hard to intruders but soft enough to dream of babies. She is in love with a boy named Masaomi, an installer of computer firewalls, an anti-spammer who tells her he fights strange monsters. You mean viruses, Kat once said with the smile of rain streaking across her East Village window. Since meeting Masaomi at The Knitting Factory, Kat sometimes mistakes strangers in a storm for parent duplicates. Sometimes they follow her home and stand next to her bed, staring, saying nothing. She hides her head under the sheets. She pretends to hug Masaomi. Sometimes she cries over what is happening inside her body, a subtle force of nature or an unnamed waterfall. Masaomi tells her that in the darkness, there are portals to other worlds, monsters who take normal shapes during their day jobs. A Starbucks addict on street corners, Masaomi says these monsters have been with us since childhood--they wore the faces of parents, teachers. In an abandoned building on Loisaida, Masaomi reveals that he is an assassin of Kat's fears. They hold each other still on a creaky second-story floor, while the night rushes past them and through the city. Tonight, he whispers, there are no monsters. Kat wants him to marry her despite her constant feeling of being air-lifted or homeless. She imagines waking up to Masaomi, who will have last night's peanut butter smudged against his lips. She imagines an imperfect love in the core of the city. She wants to marry him because someday a monster with hard-drive memory will corner her and she will be out of time.
Demons & Girls
In a room three flights up from dense summer she shows Baby-Face her mother's collection of antique lamps & lanterns. Some have pictures of fat Buddhas or cats with wide sloppy smiles. Her nickname is Misfit Girl, given spotty love by the mother who sometimes melts away, who is herself a child of parents whose faces she cannot see. Misfit Girl says to Baby-Face, Do you want to see how we can make a god? He says that there are only demons. She makes strange shadow plays across the wall. The same shadow stays with each after they have left. One night, following another of her mother's breakdowns, Misfit Girl imagines being sucked in by a gigantic vacuum cleaner, breathing in her own exhaust. She calls Baby-Face & tells him that she is suffocating along with the mother who can't love her own shape & that he is her god. He says he has purged his demons, that he can see her shadow everywhere he goes. He says the shadow expands, has strange ways of working. No one will die of suffocation, he says. The shadow agrees. The night they sneak out & sleep together, Tokyo has a black-out.
Haruna, a Girl with the Face of a Forgetful Gem
When she's all sweet talk & ginger hands, the world turns soft & blind. In the night, her demons stand above your bed, swallowing swords, boasting of perfect night vision. Before the rain, your last words were...Do we have a future? If you could shrink her, she'd be a gem in your pocket. Even when she turns half-ugly, you both share bread & break words. On some days, windy on Tokyo corners, she resembles the sister you never had. A love like dragon kites falling from your skies. Or she leaves you with a puzzle: Can love ever be gender-neutral? Who would be the boss? Should we really turn real? Why or why not? You're running through the streets of Harajuku, past the dark & metallic colors, girls of plaid, boys with chains, fingers stuck in zippers. You're afraid you've lost her again. She's falling from rooftops. She's going to die from neglect. You have the sick feeling of stepping on pearls.
You & me should team up & bring the city machine down. We could hide our identities behind desk jobs while dreaming of Joni Mitchell having a second life & doing black-metal. TokyoPop sticks to our throats. During sex, you chirp like a cricket drunk on rich-dirt visions. We could swing from rooftops with handmade rope. We could entrap the city with the webs of our steel-matrix love. We will fix each other's broken nose. We will fall with amazing grace. The bad guys cannot defeat us with semi-automatic purr & talk talk. Our real-identity angst is pure & prone to adolescent simple tense. We cry like ordinary people. We will die like rock stars.
Under Distant Microscopes
It’s a season of love & odd numbered pairings. At night, the crickets forget the B-side of their songs. You work hard to decode the gravelly voice of the radio DJ, a survivor of throat cancer & his own second-hand smog. The song he plays: The Moon Is Down. It’s the truth, you think. That night, in the stolen warmth of a car’s front seat, your boyfriend remarks that there is no moon, only a shade of blue different from day and some dirty hands. His hands are great deceivers. The back of his tee-shirt reads: Rebels With Lost Teeth. You remind him in your sweet-grungy Lolita voice that you are both under the stars. And the stars are really microscopes and the microscopes are the eyes of jealous trekkers who never found a way back to Planet Tokyo. From the slip of your eye, you notice a white-silver sailboat floating in the sky. You smile and know that some things are never lost. As you and he sink deeper into the comatose of the night, the belly of a fog that is cut open but does not bleed.
Airi: GateCrasher/BelgianWitness/Bubblegum Pretensions/ Ketchum on your hollows/meta-weasel rapper/Susanu's sword/ Don't drop from aerial 18 pt. heights/Don't petition Artemis for gentle suicides
Chichako: Metal dog scorn/Lethargic Juniper/Those walleye moons/Sunday's hysterical blasphemies/Your mother in a pepper shaker/Texas is not a proper egg/ paper walrus & Kafka giraffes/The History of His thong Is in Limited Editions
Nao: Buckle Bo Freddy/Metatarsal influx/Unison calls, Cranes w/ fallacies/attitude doom/Conceptual Martians/ Semiotic Boogaloo/Cannonball repression/Sand hill calamities/Comma uproars/Mother, your marble girls are hiding in the dunes
Rin: Lips like Jagger/Hex cat/Cubist duplicity/Human scissors/Pronominal dispatch/Castrated worms/temps w/out sugar curls/ Post-apocalyptic rabbits/flax peaches/Gucci Space Shoes/Bosho, Keep the child honest
Tsubami: Born as a feather/Semi-Lunar doors/your eyeballs on e-knook/lynx spider hegemony/Manic Q warriors/Cross choker revenge in mirrors/Take your stretched black rubber leash off of my steam-punk poodle that smiles behind your back
Yoshiko: Give me back my heart-shaped whistle
In his other life, Toshiro turns X-treme wavelength & controls everything by warped modulated matrix & remote. He plants frogs in girls' undies so they can giggle on final exams. He has light giddy sex on scooters, in subways, under classically arched doorways, w/ the past lives of mistresses who never had a life. His biggest enemy is The Magnet of Emptiness, A.K.A ME. ME absorbs all the happiness in the core of the other. ME laughs at the girls & boys he has turned zombie. In order to safeguard his identity, Toshiro must pretend he is also a zombie denying his death-ness at the community college where all the instructors speak in Low GeekSpeak. At night, in his secret lab, he mixes the ingredients that in the proper proportions will someday defeat ME: Frog Juice (120 ml), the lips of a thousand girls who have lived twice & died in multiples of threesomes (2000 total) & the spittle of rash banshees (150 cc). In time, the whole world will be laughing.
Everywhere You Are
I wake up next to Everywhere Girl. A thin shaft of light is streaming through a side window. It threatens to separate us. Everywhere Girl & I have woken next to each other before, it's just that we can't remember which parts belong to whom & we wind up leaving with a hangover of otherness. At the club last night, Storm Warning II, we danced as if we left our bodies. Strangers ogled us from their stilted life-frames. We listened to their stories of cut & drag, copy & paste. We dress in vogue--mawkish schoolboy & lanky drift-eye schoolgirl. We often improvise our own dance steps. Like the one where we laugh & pretend to look for keys. People often mistake us for brother & sister. There might be some kind of truth. The first time I met Everywhere Girl, she was very drunk, her father having been lost at sea for a whole three weeks. We danced to techno & held hands as if we could mean something. Later, she told me she could be my muck-doll. At an all-night diner, I said my real name was Nowhere Boy. I was not a survivor of childhood drownings. & even though after a night out, we wind up sleeping together as ones or zeroes, always at her place on a hard mat, we've made love only twice. Three is an unlucky number she says. Whenever I sleep next to Everywhere Girl, I feel lost at sea, imagining nameless fish, until I sink under slow, gentle waves.
Destroy All Monsters!
Dead girl's world is post-apocalyptical, in the shape of a syringe labeled Ennui. When the pretty boys call, all Botox & helium-high, she says wrong number or can you take a hint straight up. They laugh until they die. For them, sex is about body counts. One day, the color of plutonium hearts, of nuclear wastelands post-flesh, a mechanical boy saves her from an E-longated form of suicide: hanging upside down from bare trees. Or hanging in wind-warped trees now the shape of ears. Perhaps by Dali. Mechanical boy & Dead girl sit in the ear that can still hear them. He has a sponge heart & a voice like Raymond Burr missing his cues from Godzilla out-takes. She's beginning to fall for him, stiff-curl lip & eyes of lives-in-holes. She suspects that like her, he's hard-wired to fail. When she begins to undo his nested codes, he says Do you know the world will end in ten minutes? It doesn't matter, she says, the world has already ended. Anything after is just surplus goo. But can you feel? she asks. Can you feel anything? Just as he's saying something about the large shadow over the city at night, about something stronger than the ocean surrounding Okinawa, how his brain is made from the leftover thoughts of ten unarmed geeks--the ear detonates. There are no more fake trees. Only purple hearts on mute.
The girlfriend who caught me falling from tall buildings in seven versions of the same story is an MTV host, sky-Perfect, can do Karaoke to old melodies, substituting her own bridges. When I call the station & tell her I'm going to jump again, she waits for me 20 stories below. Underground, she takes me to a room outside a room outside a room outside a room. She says don't come out until you find the real you who can land feet first. I can tell she's tired of my old vectors. In the innermost room, I am back where I started. When I call her & tell her that I will jump, starting from the bottom floor & working my way up, she says this time, she will not wait, that I will be missed--Have a Nice Day.
Rina, a Tall Buzz-fly Girl Who Never Goes Short in the City
When Black Friday hits, Rina will stand along Koen Dori in Shibuya & play old love songs on a ukulele. She will sing for free. She will laugh at the taxis running out of gas, the stocky four-eyed businessmen crashing their bicycles into department stores. The world as a flat tire, ruined rim. Or, donning white gloves, she’ll direct traffic. Towards afternoon, she will post herself in front of the Haichiko statue, named after the dog that waited faithfully for its dead master. She will give fake tours through Spain Slope or the Tobacco & Salt Museum. Someone towards the rear will suppress a painted girl giggle. In Mark City, she will lose all the old women who have mistaken her for the daughter they once gave away. By the end of the day, she will be alone again. She will take the cheapest room at a love hotel & wait for her married lover, a man who has lost everything.
If I Were Jimmy Stewart
On some days I walk on Tokyo mist. On some days, we slip through the other's grasp like irascible fish. Or if we meet in San Francisco & I catch you watching me from a distance of UP & behind a Knob Hill window, your face, my inward tilt, my dreams of vertigo-drop, still unravel me. On some days I am the private eye tailing clones of confiscated you's. For days, I remain introverted & sulking. When I do find the You in my mug of wax, you start to melt. And I spend the rest of the day trying to gather what burns.
Mr. Portable Suicide
Mr. Portable Suicide drops over today with his black leather suitcase & unfashionably slicked back hair. He wants to know if you, the girl of a thousand painful caterpillars in her sleep, are ready. You smile you tilt your head you think of ten songs that end in E-minor you ask Mr. Portable Suicide if he would like some tea. No, he says, sitting uncomfortably on your Lazy-Boy, clipping his nails. Over the apartment complex, you hear strange humming. Have you thought of a method? Asks Mr. Portable Suicide. A method? you say. Yes, he says, the ones we discussed last time on the phone—-pincer poison, noose of dreams, dog-day drowning, crumble under rubble, the stop-dead-heart-pills in choice colors. You tell him Thank you, but you’ll take a rain check. He talks about a discount-two for the price of one—a special that can’t be missed. But a part of you is already shutting the door.
She doesn't believe in fruits & baskets or lucky Zodiac animals. In the meltdown of her nucleus, she cries at the thought of Zen Masters succumbing to sugar cubes & promiscuity. The boy who stole her super powers is a lonely ghost. Her days are slapstick arrangements in a tragic rain. In the nameless wards, she tips a homeless woman. The businessman, who loves her dressed as a boy, calls & says Let's have sex on a kinky cloud. She decides to grow her hair. Her ex-boyfriend is a lonely ghost.
Traipsing through a water color world, she discovers Autumn as god & Orange as the most beautiful version of her. In the halls of the community college, she hears the stretched voice of the ex-boyfriend in lockers, off tile & walls. It says: Listen to Me. Love is a high from unlikely places, an epiphany after sequential drownings.
Under waning sun disc, thoughts of Chrysanthemum gilt dust, she feels Orange. A homeless woman, this one with cataracts, thanks her for the coins & says Your powers will return. Her ex-boyfriend is a lonely ghost. At school, in burnt sienna & milk-white tones, she draws herself as perfect. The new boy she loves is a Photoshop nerd with an addiction to jumping off bridges. He never really survives the attempts. The shadows do not resemble his true deaths. After each resuscitation from cold water, he comes back believing he is a camera. She vows to save both the nerd & herself. Her ex-boyfriend is in the negatives. Her ex-boyfriend is a lonely ghost.