Friday, February 29, 2008

51/365 - Stephen

I didn't know what to make of his icy blue eyes and soap actor face. Most of the time we drove across the country in silence, gliding eerily over the plains, all other passengers women or girls, he the only rooster in the coop.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

50/365 - Alan

It is not polite to laugh at a small, graying, wild-haired gringo in cop sunglasses, frozen in fear high up on the steps of the Pyramid of the Moon. Instead, softly beckon him until the fear melts away and the man descends.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

49/365 - Angelina

After two years of living across from her, I meet Angelina of the humble pink house, owner of a maniac sausage dog, wife of a taxi driver who always shouts. It's true; someone else on her block knows Russian.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

48/365 - Tom

Tom barely says hi, so I barely remember his name. His wife is the neighborly one. He drives a silver car, likes to watch sports on TV and has two kids in California.

Monday, February 25, 2008

47/365 - Derrick

He used to say he believes in nothing, but his heart has softened. Derrick, a man of more than seven lives: from an island, from the motherland, the seas, the weapon-filled jungle, and finally the metropolis with cameras for eyes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

46/365 - Suzanne

We'd meet in her attic room devoted to poetry, fire in the gas stove burning, her breathy voice reading poems, so light and easy. I shared mine too, wondering how much longer till I run out of not want, but need.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

45/365 - Louise

Louise, aka Lion Lady, looked like a secret agent and acted like a warden self-promoted to boss. She wanted people to be afraid of her, and most were. Her only weaknesses: her daughter and food.

Friday, February 22, 2008

44/365 - Sanela

She shared her secret: afraid of dying at fourteen, she thought herself crazy. I too was afraid of death at her age, but not because of war. Telling someone shattered the fear, lifted her so she could soar.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

43/365 - Vašek

I recognized him in disguise as the devil when I was five. He appeared at our house in his pinkish tights the way devils do with angels and St. Nicholas each December. The fairytale gone, I raged at the adults for their lies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

42/365 - Elaine

Elaine, the icy piano woman, cringed instead of speaking. When she took over the warm-up for the director, her hands shook. Each eye looked in a different direction. She kept herself walled off from all of us.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

41/365 - Dr. Wright

When everything around was quicksand, Dr. Wright was my lone island of solid ground. He'd yell till his face turned crimson, but he had demands, vision, expectations. He steered us in making music like nothing else mattered.

Monday, February 18, 2008

40/365 - Patrice

I watched her channel a spirit. She sounded half-asleep and parched. I was a king soul, she said; a poet in my last life. Her belief in soul ages struck a chord with me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

39/365 - Rebecca

What a good neighbor she is: always pruning, weeding, bringing over plates of fresh pastries and flowers. When the paramedics came, she hustled over offering help. And we? Ungrateful, reclusive slobs with a toddler who yells and pees on shrubs.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

38/365 - Dagmar

She, my first grade teacher, understood our fragility. When the learning was enough, she let us rest our heads on our desks and told stories like the one in which she went sailing down a river.

Friday, February 15, 2008

37/365 - Mr. Holub

In translation, his name meant pigeon. For the school picture he wore orange and green polyester. The only male teacher in my grade school, he taught gardening. But all I remember was our weekly walk to the plot and others doing the digging.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

36/365 - Carmen

I liked how tough she was - that silent butch look and attitude. I liked her name and how its flamboyance cut through her veneer. The other day, years later, she recognized me and asked: "Are you prego?" "My baby's dead," I could not answer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

35/365 - Filip

Fatherhood transformed this mafioso man-child into a tender young man. No one expected this when only months ago his macho talk shut his woman in the kitchen, his hand on the cash box and ass in shiny leather pants on his supersonic motorbike.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

34/365 - Robert

This old man poet, each poem an ode to self, had a thing for young girls. His hope to dazzle me in his dark house with beef stew and the idea of touch theater sent insects crawling up my spine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

33/365 - Skip

Skip's face was like Bill's: puffy and red with narrow eyes aimed down and sideways. That and too much cologne meant he was not to be trusted. After I left, the ceiling caved in and burying the dusty plaques covering his office walls.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

32/365 - Ahadi

They said she was "so ghetto" and shuddered at the mention of her name. For me, she wrote about her neighborhood: the trash, the gunshots and murders in her building. I said she was talented and watched her hard shell melt away.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

31/365 - George

George, the zombie teacher's right hand boy, was among the walking dead. Vampire-like, he only wore black and kept his nails long and sharp. When grading papers, he would go wild with the red pen, flexing his intellect, elevating himself above his schoolmates.

Friday, February 8, 2008

30/365 - Justin

I was new to the country and scared. Justin lent an ear as an older brother might, squelching the fear in me while we canoed from island to island, sleeping under the stars, eating granola, learning songs.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

29/365 - Randy

Randy, the cheerful school bus driver, handed tootsie rolls out to us immigrant kids. My universe was so small then: school, home, and the strange, dreamy time in between with Randy's smile, small talk with the Brazilian brothers, hot freeway air through the windows.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

28/365 - Bernice

Bernice was everyone's mother. Her voice full of breath soothed and caressed, her hands always helping or fixing things. Wherever she was I pictured her childhood farm surrounding her: the smell of freshly turned soil and bread, starched laundry and dish soap.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

27/365 - Bill

He reveled in being the gatekeeper. His ancient, puffy, beat-colored face and blood-tinged eyes screamed: "Drunk!" With a perpetual shit stain on the back of his pants, he chain-smoked in class and slurred his words. He was a creep, his boyfriend a son-of-a-bitch.

Monday, February 4, 2008

26/365 - Daniel K.

A bastard of a friend who rented out his mouse-ridden Manhattan warehouse pad to us and still came over to bathe. Asked if I was a Jew. With only one foot in his world I made the cut. It irked him that I was already taken.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

25/365 - Stu

Stu was the preoccupied, sensitive one like a teacher in training. He would demo tunes, his hollow voice echoing in the chamber of his balding head. He led: a dark room full of girls massaging each other's toes - a brilliant idea.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

24/365 - Jennifer

A head rush when she lectured and possibilities opening. Excitement in the air. We read Foucault, Freud, Frankenstein... I didn't want the class to end. She was my best professor ever.

Friday, February 1, 2008

23/365 - Dee

A tragic figure. A painter. Really a fantastic artist. Glamorous with a lily behind her ear. Always in pain. Living in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wonder if her work will ever be recognized.