“Want me to predict your future?”
Some party on the Westside,
a rooftop, stringed lights
suffocating the stars, booze
and silk shirts, a band somewhere
playing the same three chords
out of a used orange amplifier.
This was the year of party tricks.
I’d convinced these sorry fools
that I hail from a family of clairvoyants
and that my mother was hired by
the United States military in the sixties
to read the minds of communists and spies.
“You can predict my future,” this woman said.
She was ten thousand times more attractive than me
and so far out of my league it pained me
to share the earth with her.
I said: “Don’t you have a child?”
“A baby girl,” she said. “Just turned two.”
“One day,” I said. “A few years from now,
you will be standing in a bedroom, looking
at accumulated dust atop a dresser, and the room
will smell stale and be sorrowful with sunshine,
and the dust will kiss your fingers like a widow.”
“What room?” she said. “Whose room?”
“Your daughter’s room. She will be dead, having
suffocated in swimming pool, and it will have been
your fault, and you will be in the process of
first from the inside,
and then the rest of you,
shattering your being like anvil to glass.”
She slapped me in the face. How? she kept
asking. How can you say something like that?
How can you be so cruel?
She threatened to throw me off the building
and then left.
Years and years later, she called.
“Found your number through a friend,” she said.
“I’m standing in that room and you were right. Not about
how she died, but anyway, you were right. She was taken
from me and now I’m here in this room
and you were right.”
Then she said: “What do I do?”
I told her to take things slow. Start off
with soft drugs, things your body can absorb
Leave the pills for last.
Drink until it feels better,
inhale things, anything,
if you don’t have marijuana
put oregano and tea leaves
into a pipe and smoke it and close your eyes
and convince yourself that all the people you’ve
ever loved have never existed.
that life is a circus meant for the brave,
and that by accepting your pain
you are one of them.
Then go to the pills.
Take them, enjoy them.
Travel someplace you’ve always wanted to go
and fall asleep
and pray each night to the cosmos
that you will not wake up.
Written at 10:44 at night, in my office, in Agoura Hills CA.