Friday, August 19, 2011

Combatwords, August 19, 2011: Missing

Combatwords, August 19, 2011: Missing

Sometimes we know something is missing: your cat runs away, my wallet falls out of my pocket. Sometimes upon meeting someone special, we feel as if we were incomplete before the personnel epiphany—we can miss our love. We can be inaccurate and fail in our aim and purpose. We can also examine the concept more closely: is ‘missing’ a judgment, an opinion, a perspective? Or is ‘missing’ more an ontological concept, implying a universal permanence to all ideas? There seems to a surprising amount of complexity behind the word, so take advantage of it.

Combat Expiration: 12am PST, 8/22/2011

Critique Expiration: 12am PST, 8/24/2011

Bonuses/Penalties: +2 if posted by 9pm PST 8/19/2011, +1 if posted by 3am PST 8/19/2011, -1 if posted by 6am PST 8/22/2011, -2 if posted by 12pm PST 8/22/2011

The Rules:

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  1. Poker Face

    I don’t remember him ever staying the night, but when I look back, I’m sure he did. Sometimes, when I was getting ready for bed, Ray knocked on the door of the apartment. On those nights, I got to stay up late. Mama took the metal coffee can full of coins off the shelf and the three of us played penny poker at the kitchen table. I wasn’t very good.

    “Sweetheart, you give away your hand. Gotta work on that poker face of yours,” Ray said, as Mama laughed.

    He dealt a hand and I picked up my cards one at a time. I tried to hide my feelings down deep, not smile or frown, tried to keep still in my seat, make my eyes not open too wide.

    “That’s a little better,” he said picking up his cigarette from the ashtray and chuckling. He pinched the filter between his index finger and thumb, drew deep, and blew smoke rings up toward the ceiling. I watched them get bigger and bigger until they blended into the haze around the light.

    When I lost my last penny, I cried. Ray reached in his pocket then, and gave me all of his change, even the quarters. I smiled, thinking I was rich. He kissed me on the top of the head and helped tuck me in before Mama turned off the light at the door.

    “Sleep tight,” Ray said with a smile before closing the door behind him.

    When I got up the next morning, I watched from the hallway as Mama tucked a hundred dollar bill into her wallet. I wondered if she cried when she lost her pennies too.

  2. Stalemate [Combatwords, August 20, 2011: Missing]

    Avoiding worst,
    Dodging contact—
    Accident contract:
    Flawed aim,
    Love escheated,

    Hair loss,
    Chance; time
    Spent drunk,
    And watching

    Starlight—the most lost of all substances,
    Seeming, not being—blurred between focuses,
    Lost to distraction.

    Outside, young pairs awe rats, feral toms, bicycle gangsters,
    And later, each other.
    Inside the window, shade, desk and bookshelf—
    Over the bed and the Stonehenge of unopened envelopes—
    A spider is capturing dust in the corner—
    The skin-flake, sulfur oxide dust in the corner—
    Shrinks to a mote and floats on a current
    That lost its way out of the city.

  3. Scenes from a Hotel Room

    Summer rain spatters
    the window, the sizzle interrupted
    only by the distant flash and report
    of the storm. New York is sad today;
    heavy and dank. The lights
    of Broadway are jealous
    of the lightening’s brilliance
    and their blaze seems weak
    and desperate.

    Today is the third of my visit
    and I know that the city
    no longer loves me. This return
    feels like an awkward encounter
    with an ex-lover, proper and cordial
    with and undertone of regret.
    I’m sorry it turned out like it did
    but what did you expect? When
    a beggar falls for a whore
    one of them is bound to get hurt.


  4. glooms of the live oak

    happy hell
    almost dawn
    a few sips
    of austere night
    condense on my window
    droplets gathering guilt close
    forming incomplete circles
    tidal rites and hair brushed deceptions
    promising me shadows do not exist
    propped up on pillows i am
    here where my memories
    go missing
    up in wires
    in sorrows of chestnut smiles
    your lavender nails inside the casket
    my time ground into coarse sausages
    i give to the other children
    my monkey bar laughter
    a satin train
    something in me
    is missing