An exchange of text messages on 29 January 2013 with Kate Nemeth and Lindsey Filowtiz
Despite a year and a half’s time, despite the undocumentable distance from coast to coast – or even moment to moment – despite what had happened in that moment, in that place, during that time, paling in comparison to what we saw happening on the pedestal of our memories, one winter day in our separate cities, Oakland and Brooklyn, we tried to piece together a frame of words that could hold our college experience. Using our phones for rapid fire responses, we wrote poems. We created a disjointed narrative linked to real events, glorifying our experiences with instantaneous explosions in the latest generation’s network. The work that follows is a collaboration between two post-grads, flailing in the tides of life that now wash over us. We attempt to stay afloat as we rush towards American adulthood in the new Millenium.
I feel nostalgic and I long for walks along Blithewood, spliff in hand, views of pale pink flowers budding off trees.
There is a crunch under my feet from the remaining golds and reds that fluttered onto the moist Earth beneath me. I see blue kitty cat mountains, and a still river beyond.
The subway underground is nothing like Metro North
Or like getting stoned in the morning, looking out to peaks.
Not like taking long and thoughtful walks or
Eating alone with “Modern Love” in print
(Four, Five, Six. now
Get me away from this Kindle shit).
What would we be doing there today, junior year?
Me: Near the library meeting friends and catching up,
Happy and light in heavy boots and cold wind’s blush.
Today, junior year, I’d be making the first footprints in pristine parts of my acres of yard. Carefully, I slide across my frozen creek; the dim makeout bridge overlooks the waterfall. We live on Broadway.
The familiarity of a first embrace.
Slipping my way toward the Country Grocer.
Trying to buy Bustelo and milk. The shuttle would
We wouldn’t be able to swing because the park would be covered in snow.
You and Me: Stoned and listening to Beach House.
Sausage, egg, and cheese, please!
I would ask Evan, whiskey and cigarettes stagnant on my breath.
His eyes red and squinted shut – could he hear me?
I looked around. His kid screaming at a laptop screen, his wife large and smelling of dreaded hair. We were all judging each other with our eyes. It was the-morning-after meeting place.
Yeah, I saw you punch that dude in the face last night, yes, you tripped on an ice patch outside the old gym, yeah, you tried to kiss him in the parking lot.
My head hurt because it was spotted brown.
We all tried to keep our sausage down.
Sausage. I nicknamed him BJ when he took up my offer on
Beef Jerky. Too drunk.
I bought him a vodka tonic at the Black Swan so
He would sit with me while I told him that I loved him.
His response was undesirable.
“Thanks.” Or… “Why?”
All the party boys were fighting over a lopsided pool table.
All the girls were sitting in the corners, frumpy and dry.
I often think of the Swan as a place I never want to return. The stench of stale beer seeped into the wood. There was a pile of lonely clothes stuffed into the architecture.
The Mike’s made oblivion possible for all of us.
I walked around in circles, it’s dark and tinted green. I can’t see my friends.
On the bathroom line I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
She was aggressive and model-like. She pushed me around for making conversation with whoever she was currently romancing. I sat on the toilet, ready to cry. But before the stream, I could hear, muffled though the black graffitied walls – he was defending me.
My lip curled up.
Later, spaghetti hands sketched a chalk profile in the pool room.
Want to come smoke a cigarette with me? Let’s go sit on the stoop across the street.
It worked every time.
Carrying books heavier than my heart always did the trick.
I stuck my nose inside of them and strayed from
Cliques and women
From LA and men from
God knows where, but they make them damn good there.
Feminism haunted me and cigarettes haunted my hands.
Coffee haunted my heart and all the boys stood in the stands,
Looking over a playing field that was built up on a virgin spring.
Like a house over a burial ground,
Tricks and taunts often knocking.
Sunday mourning. The siren opens my iris’s at noon.
I’m late and irate. Chug water. Urinate.
Coffee coffee coffee, stay awake.
Flannel things, black things, laces up my legs.
Get out. Walk back in.
I forgot my books, reading material, and lipstick for looks.
Ford Taurus, please start, I have to go to the library, so I can stay smart.
Drive down the brown puddly lot.
Where is your car? This I can not spot.
Up the stairs, smoke in the air.
Don’t distract me, my friends are all there.
Second floor, comfy chair.
Under the skylight was the spot where.
Read, read, read. The words jumbled in my brain.
Eye contact. I hated this game.
A place to think, that’s for sure.
I need to be prepared for tomorrow, I was insecure.
The yellow on my head turned blue, my glance was askew.
The blue turned black, I left without looking back.
From the gazebo you can smell the sweet smoke stagnant on designer coats and Carharts.
My room is awkward.
It’s white and the hazy yellow summer light comes in for the last breath of afternoon.
I have a hula hoop this year and I mount it on my wall over the place where the guitar stands.
Marie is here and she has cut her hair to look like Mia Wallace again.
I feel fatter.
The year hasn’t begun and already I’m bubbling over with beer and disappointed sighs.
I don’t belong here anymore.
The mountains stand as certainly as I do.
I arrived a week early to soften the transitional blow. The house was massive and vacant aside from the cigarette butts lodged into various holes throughout the property.
I locked all the doors that night – everyone else was due to arrive at the village the following morning.
Several staircases were hidden like scoliosis under the skin. The sealed doors killed me like a cat. I don’t really know you, but let’s bust into the basement and shine our flashlights onto cobwebs. Let’s tell tales of the murderer on magical mushrooms who ran here.
I was frightened of the hallway leading to the master bedroom. Sometimes I would end up there after hours, uncomfortable and tense. Hundreds of heads left their cans and filth behind for me to eat up.
I am not safe here.
He believed me through my tears.
Lock your doors, wipe those smears.
We snorted a Vicodin on your yellow floor and I started to cry.
The house was old and I felt the sifted spirits of parties past
(Weren’t we supposed to be enlightened by all of this?)
I learned to gossip before I learned to talk,
How to drink before I learned to walk,
And every time I took a shot or snorted a pill,
My mind felt freer as I trudged uphill.
Insomnia. I’m wired. Sunrise is associated with guilt.
You were sleeping in the grass as I quietly tiptoed past.
Brie and butter lived on the left and the cerulean blue water tower blended in with the sky.
My machine was minutes away. Shoot.
I was eager to let my eyes lead me around.
Why did I do that to myself? Where can you do it too?
I teach myself how to put on tights in the smell of popcorn.
The bricks are quiet and warm on the walls.
They don’t ask any questions. I follow suit.
Comfort surrounds me, I realize abruptly, like a philosopher in a dream.
I lick my lips: numb. My gums are sweet and stained with smoke.
Over the tights, these boots they lace high and my might grows with each step upwards.
I am mobile,
I am free,
I am on a spinning rock.
I romance myself with stares.
I stop to think.
I need to care.
Their voices run like wind through my hair.
Chemicals seeped through my skin as I stared at him. Fix. Develop in dark closets.
I jumped out of bed without a minute to spare. Gasping – I was late to my first day.
Typical. I was Shore I was fucked.
We listened to Stevie nicks under the red light. Nothing suddenly became blacks and hundreds of grey hues. Leaning in so close, liquid almost touching my nose.
Second fix. It lingered on my fingers.
I had rehearsed myself for four years
Juggling familial binds, flings and many hands.
Enter Kate: self-titled role as a pain in the ass, flirt, frowner.
I grasped at memories and bits of grief to get the feeling right.
The idea was grander than the product.
The thought was loftier than the lot.
Frames per second measured long lines in my family tree
And short spurts of my personal history.
Enter Kate: I earned this role when I shot out of the womb
With a third eye staring into the hot center of everything.
School groomed my drunken manners,
Artists held my hair back,
Boys taught me confidence and tears.
Mom gave me the breath to blow like a puff of smoke in the winter night,
Gigantic, full, and evaporating quick.
Pull on your boots and pick yourself up kid cause
The End is not near
And the way through the forest to the water tower is clear.
The last two weeks ebbed and flew more quickly than a 500th of a second.
Faster than any session of swinging and swaying and stomping and praying.
Faster than an intellectual’s premature ejaculation.
We tried to hold on with the strongest of grips,
only to drip ourselves with flowing tears, cucumber vodka, and the dirty Hudson.
That dock, those rocks,
was my heart, head, or leg more badly bruised?
The fruits of deception and lies.
If you follow me home enough times
I’ll give in.
Who am I?
I have no fucking idea, but none of us do.
I love you! I love you! Olive juice!
we all cried.
Grudges and preconceptions hitched rides with slithering beads of sweat.
Close your eyes and take this all in,
cause it’s the last time we’ll all be together again.