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i miscalculate

by

Luke Buckham


the door is cracked only slightly and everything in sight was painted white a very long time ago. now we look at each other inside walls of chipped paint, feeling underwater as the night puts purple shadows under our eyes under the lamps, the bedside table rattling every time she rolls lies down to get some sleep, then bounces back up again to scowl at me or scowl at the wall, it doesn't make a difference. the washing machine hums it's white noise and my eyes slip sideways into the moist and peeling paint every time she tries to pin me down with her tired gaze. every one of our movements becomes clichéd, because we've been awake too long with the same conversation, there's a baby in her belly or maybe there's not a baby in her belly, and neither of us want it. to see it's unformed face in this world, to see it's features mapped out on the wall where we can look. i miscalculated and her neck is bulging under her pretty hair, snapping the necklace and dropping it on the floor at my feet, the jugular veins swelling and untwisting like loosened rope, coils coming out of her, telephone wires cascading tightly down her back and coiling across the bed in white without any electricity, a dialtone louder than a foghorn coming from her mouth as it opens and her eyes close and she finally flops down and misses the pillow, her neck thick as a python after swallowing a puppy. i dream and re-dream, and do not protect myself from her looks, and i miscalculate.

the railing crackles black under his hands, he's been my friend for 5 years, which is the longest i've known anyone, and we look out on the florida beach together but where i see a terror of depth and mystery he sees only the realization of a postcard. he wants me to live here between the restaurants and the tiny street below us, but i haven't seen a wide-open field in months and i need to get back to the desolation of new hampshire. i tell him that i love him like a brother but that my growing mind wants to cancel him, that our conversation is stuffed with nostalgia like so many yellowed newspapers, but he doesn't understand. he thinks i am afraid of his slick clothes, his desire for polished cars and swimming pools, when it is his mind that i am afraid of, it's lack of any poetry. i miscalculate and the waves fall again and again, something i can't change. the wind of salt and sand can only move his short hair so much, and i think of the coral sharper than glass, and the fish that swim through it, they never grow apart from each other. we laugh constantly when we're together, why isn't that enough. i miscalculated and miscalculated, and his face is just as common as the same old moon, needing an earthquake or a world war to wake it up, while all i need are the people passing in their clothes, not to touch them, that would be death, they smell like tinfoil through their clothes, but i need to hear the softness of their march as i go into the bars, need the hum of the endless televisions, the pouring of drinks, all to chase me inside where i need to be, dragging my tired entrails of leaving afternoon heat across the same canvas over and over again i miscalculate. the expressions of my friends have all lived inside me, their every thought is a part of me, and so i must leave most of them if i want to know my own mind. the waves have become slow, he grips the railing in frustration, telling me that i shouldn't live alone, that it's bad for me, i should be out chasing girls, but the girls he talks of are like the inside of a warehouse to me. i have miscalculated.

i toss in another bed, the lamps crackling in the dark just after being extinguished, and my life is alien to me. i miscalculated somewhere in my past and now i have become utterly alone. greyhound buses take me to the people who write me letters, and their faces are only familiar when they are not focusing on me, or when they are sleeping. haven't they all been my face, my mannerisms, my talk? haven't i lived in all their bodies, all their mediocrities that i have tried to cancel in myself, all the aristocratic features that want to break through their faces like compound fractures repaired? i speak, and i speak, and i speak, sitting in their cars and hoping for the opposing highway headlights to carve something out of my face for them to see, waiting for the words that will force our honesty to come, and i miscalculate. i leave vehicles and drag baggage and see faces rushing too fast through neon terminals in cities that are familiar and unknowable to me because they have ceased to exist the moment before my arrival, drugs keeping their eyes inward like myriad rats running from low blue fire in a long empty hallway, exits and entrances invisable to me in long bars in music-numbed restaurants in solemn airports names made freezer-cold in newspapers and magazines, the make-up and the slices of pizza being bitten off at the end by shrinking teeth, baggage of strangers being wheeled by with boring mysteries as i lie in another hotel bed, the sheets feeling too thin as i wish for a woman that my instincts tell me does not yet exist. the mirrors are best, they give me time to wait for something from my own face, even if it's just more noisy silence it's pure silence. i am a vague entity surrounded constantly by vague entities, and it doesn't matter whether or not we speak to each other. if even one of us, the pale man trying to grow a beard who sits next to me on the bus or the lover who tosses and turns next to me keeping me awake in a hotel that has been torn down, if one of us spoke the truth for only a moment, the buildings that surround us would have to be torn down and rebuilt, and we would have to face each other in courtyards smelling of fresh concrete, under construction, awake in birth and in death, grey. but we miscalculate, and i miscalculate, and our beds stay lonely even as we share them, even as muted televisions lazily piano across our oblivious blankets and the salt air from another state where a lost friend looks at the dullness of the moon and has less thought than the jug of milk in his refrigerator blows through the windows of everyone in the world, time-zones made irrelevant by my fatigue. i miscalculate every step, but the solitude is beauty like an entire life lived in headphones, a entire still-life in front of computers that reach to paint foreign landscapes that they don't know in the belly of their frosty screens, an entire life lived walking over a park bridge and ignoring the ducks and barely glimpsing at the waterfall and never reaching the end of that bridge, staying suspended over the water with several strangers of alone in worn-out shoes that will never stop moving long enough to be replaced, refusing the assembly line. i love you when you finally fall asleep so that i don't have to think of any new thing to say to you, and you love me when i fall asleep because i stop trying to communicate this love, this love which is a miscalculation.






ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Luke Buckham writes: "i live in a very hot un-airconditioned attic, with my girlfriend and her pitbull, lucy, in the middle of a dying (dead, actually) industrial city called schenectady (NY), which does not live up to its delicious name. we do not pay rent, so technically we are squatters, but so far the eviction police have not come to take us away. hopefully they will, soon, and force me to move back to the country. here, when i walk out my door, all i walk on is tar, and all i smell is filtered through a screen of smoke. not that i hate the modern world--but most of its manifestations make me nauseous.

i would like to have an artistic life like that of miles davis, always shifting styles, always experimenting, staying 10 steps ahead of the curve, if there is such a curve anymore. not for my ego but for my unsatisfiable hunger. the only kind of art i like is that which is so volatile and lovely that it promotes a deep dissatisfaction with daily life. because of the temperature in my aforementioned attic, i usually write naked, and hopefully the spirit of my comfortable, guiltless nudity comes through in my words."








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