by AJ Urquidi
I’m thinking about authenticating my birthday in a poem
since I haven’t been this self-indulgent in two Roman years.
Last one was when I was a free agent in New York,
shitty so I can’t even use it anymore. Now I’m in California
where Manhattan geography comes from Subway sandwich wallpaper
and “I’m Waiting for the Man.” I’m through trying now, it’s a big relief.
25 looks solid.
25 one-fourth of the way there and in the right Poe-esque font
with two pressed firmly against five’s back forms a cartoon whale spouting
cloudy dishwater at a low-flying hieroglyph Aztec-angles helicopter
that surveys a cocoa canopy for ziggurat vibrations. All week
I’ve been surveying headlines that report a decade since Elliott Smith
whimpered onto a knife, so his girlfriend says, he’s standing there clutching
his chest in my mind in his mind finally reached that spider bite
in the small of his back he’s been aiming for since his childhood
tap-danced off the end of Venice Pier and washed up 25 years earlier
in Redondo Beach. Bursting from a decade of departures we commemorate
the morbid. I was looking for you-who-whooo, are you gone gone?
Adam says Why commemorate the morbid? Says a friend near Echo Park
tended bar in 03 and in shuffles Elliott seating himself at the eunuch end
to space out and clutch a cluttered lunch pail full of china white and reek
of last week’s urine and track mark tissue in his baggy underpass jacket
like every other dude in Silver Lake. Nobody talks to him just like in his songs.
I’ll be staying down where no one else gonna give me grief. He’s writing new lyrics
in his mind glistening with Johnny Walker Red lines to serenade himself
later in satin. What the hell happened to Adam? Since he tossed his landline
off Chelsea Pier and smoked his Rolodex feeling sick and dirty,
more dead than alive he hasn’t spoken to any of his friends. A year on edge
started shaking since they proved to him he was a scoundrel
a grotesque virile drunk
and a Singapore genius of an Arkansas cracker. Last night at the Chinatown
reading I dedicated a poem to him as if he would ever hear about it.
I like to think he’s feeling good, gonna work it on out. I never write
about my Kansas cousin of the same name who in two months
will also go 25 two cobras back to back unsure which direction
to head and achieving more tangle as each moment dies.
His furious parents corrected him with a belt until he corrected them
from his Rolodex. He’s searching for a job where he can handle serpents
which also resemble furious belts. I’m no psychoanalyst but I’d have to say
Your lungs don’t have asthma, your mind does. But Eddie Kaspbrak’s mind
didn’t eat him, IT ate him the monster under Derry that wanted to be
with children and be children like Elliott wanted to be lonely with contentment
and lonely be contentment. Walking home from the parking spot two minutes before
I’m 25 I’m below a Long Beach PD helicopter and each street lamp
quickly hides when I need it the most. I’m below a satellite relaying news
ten years since the Internet killed Elliott and I’m below a jet headed to La Guardia
a 747 like the one that crashes in my dream three hours later and there are body parts
scattered easter eggs in shrubs. Investigators cover them with tarps and won’t let me in
my apartment where the black box fell where I’m at the same time asleep
on the floor and three hours later eight crows on the balcony bicker interrupting Out—
out are the lights—out all! and in Long Beach I wake up but near La Guardia
Lou Reed doesn’t and I look like cheap orange juice I give a good shake
but can’t distribute the pulp. It’s Lou Reed Jake made an arugula lemon juice salad for
during the 2012 Super Bowl ‘twas I who scraped his sticky arugula into the trash
and ran his glass fork and plate through the dishwasher and business was dead
except for Lou and he cancelled his March show in Monterey with liver issues
and I’d see him if he rescheduled if not when and it’s my birthday
it’s Lou Elliott fictional Eddie and for all I know Adam my cousin Jake a bartender
an airplane—how am I 25 shark-bitten humpback guts voice spark
from a phone underwater multinational conspiracy child of nightmare prosperity
and half-complacent birthday boy not supposed to feel somehow responsible?
AJ Urquidi hails from Monterey, California. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing and Film from UCLA, then studied guerrilla poetry for two years in the NYC streets. AJ’s poems have appeared in Westwind, autolycus, L.A. Telephone Book, Bird’s Thumb and CIRCLE. He is currently earning his M.F.A. from CSU Long Beach while editing the journals RipRap and American Mustard.
lipstickparty mag has also published AJ’s poem “Every Creeping Thing That Creepeth Upon the Earth.”