Perfect Waves

You walk past two boys digging in the sand, a few men watching surfers, and a young family looking for hermit crabs. The water moves from your ankles to your knees, as you maneuver past the tide pools and over to where the wet sand is soft on your feet.

I’m camping in Malibu this weekend

Think about me when you’re swimming

Your skin slippery and cold

Peeling off your suit

Tasting salt on your lips and neck

Yes baby

At the break in the sets, you glide into the ocean, ducking your head under small waves. Foamy, white water rolls over the back of your legs. You’re the only swimmer. Everyone else is on a surf board.

I think I’m falling in love with you

I know that I love you

The next set starts to build. You breathe to fill your lungs. Blue water, like a force, grows into a tall wall. It’s one of the biggest waves that you’ve ever swam with and you laugh. The last time you felt this scared was that car accident, nine years ago. You thought your head was going to crack open and splatter your brains, like that scene from Pulp Fiction, when Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the face.

The tip of the wave starts to roll over, like the water can’t support any more of its own weight. You take one last breath and dive as deep as you can, kicking. Its not quiet under a wave, but it seems like it. Water rushing past your ears muffles any sound.

                                                                                                          I saw your profile photo
You’re going to be a good dad

You blink under water, hoping it’s blue, but it’s sandy and you shut your eyes. You expect to get pulled into that massive rock. The one with the seagulls painting it white, at the top. But, the ocean carries you up and out the other side of the wave. You watch it rush to shore, but only for a second. There are two waves in these sets.

                                                                     Everything would be so much easier if I could
just get you out of my damn head

You give me butterflies

You swim under another perfect wave. The water feels so smooth on your skin and there’s power in the fluttering of your legs, but you’re not going to stay for another set. You don’t feel strong enough make it through again.

Walking back to shore, you notice scratches on your knees and the tops of your feet. You go and sit with your legs stretched in front of you, covering them with piles of sand. That should stop the bleeding.

Listen here.


California Zephyr

Smoke filled the room like the left-over explosion of a magic show, filtering pulsing lights in scattered rainbows. Fans spiraled colors, just out of reach, and cooled tiny beads of sweat, on Paloma’s forehead. Around her, like a dozen invitations, formed a circle of bodies. She felt them but danced alone, her eyes letting in only enough light to keep her balance.

Music vibrating, Paloma swirled her body and bounced. Her hair covered her face, then exposed it, then caught in patches of sweat, behind her ear and over her eyebrow. Her arms wrapped around her body, pressing onto her hips and sliding up her torso until she had to shoot them into the air.

Paloma looked up, flinging her hair behind her head. So many faces, so many eyes, looking at her. She smiled and passed through them.

Drinking from a bottle of water, Paloma walked to the edge of the dance floor, a dark corner with a cool draft. Someone was walking towards her, his dark skin brighter than all the technicolor beams gliding through the room, his limbs rippling with each quiet step.

She tried not to look at him. And then he was standing next to her, their hands dangling at their sides, almost touching. He stretched out his fingers, reaching towards hers. She linked their hands.

He led her onto the dance floor. “I’m Mudiaga.”

“Paloma,” she followed.

They watched each other dance. Drawn to his relaxed movement, she brought her shoulder into his chest. Without touching, he wrapped his body around her.

She slid the back of her hand into the curve of his elbow, down his arm, and into his palm, their fingers entwined. She kept his arm close, turning her back to him.

Mudiaga lifted Paloma’s hand and gently spun her. She laughed. He offered her his other hand and she took it. He lifted their arms over her head and crossed them around her.

His chest pressed against her back, she dropped her head onto his shoulder, his lips so close to her ear. She untangled her fingers and lifted her arms. His palms slid around her body to her back, where she arched onto his support. He swirled and lifted her to him.

Arms wrapped around each other, Mudiaga flowed with the music. Paloma followed him, not letting her body allow any space between them.

The DJ said good night. The lights went from sexy to exposing. Mudiaga swirled Paloma in his arms one more time.

“When can I see you again?” He asked.

“You can’t.” Paloma looked away. “There’s someone else.”

She slowly pulled her hand out of his. He let her go. She couldn’t look at him. She didn’t trust herself to leave without him if she saw his eyes right now, in the light.

The blinds on the window sent white light onto the ceiling when Paloma felt Jeff spoon her. He had that stale smell of the morning after a boys night out. She carefully slipped out from his hold, positioning his arm so he wouldn’t plop down on his face, and got out of bed. Her body had that limber feel of deep sleep in clean pjs. She tiptoed to the bathroom and indulged in a long stretch, reaching her hands as high as they could go and around to her sides. After she washed and dressed, Paloma left a note for Jeff saying that she would be out for the day and that there was beer, and tomato juice in the fridge.

It was one of those mornings when the cool air clears the sky and the sun hasn’t bleached it’s rich blue. There is a little coffee place across the street from the cable car garage. Its usually crowded with tourists, but this early in the morning it should be quiet.

A few steps from the cafe, Paloma heard a front door slam closed. Out of reflex, she turned to look. The man at the top of four stairs was putting his keys in his pocket. She stood and waited for him to walk down the steps.

“Mudiaga?” she asked him.

“Paloma? Why are you here?” He stopped in front of her.

“I live around the corner.” She laughed at the audacity of the moment.

“Are you going somewhere?” He asked her.

“No, are you?” She replied.

“No, I just needed to…I don’t know. Do you want to come up?” He gestured towards the stairs. “Maybe, for some coffee?”

“Sure.” She nodded and smiled.

They went through the heavy front door, which slammed closed after he warned her that it would, and up some stairs to the third floor. He unlocked the door and leaned in to hold it open for her. She walked inside, passing him so close, so slow, their hearts racing.

He let the door close, then took her hand and brought it to his lips. He kissed her wrist and up her thumb.

He looked at her. “Do you like that?”

“Mmmhmm.” She nodded and took a step closer.

She draped her arm over his shoulder, then slid her fingers up his neck and into his hair. He pulled their bodies closer together. They looked at each other’s lips. He tilted her chin up, then kissed the corner of her mouth. She closed her eyes. He kissed the corner of her mouth again, then again. He brushed his lips across hers, feeling her lips part. He kissed along her jaw. With his teeth, he gently tugged at her ear lobe.

“I dreamt about you,” he whispered.

“Uh huh?” She smiled and tilted her head, exposing her neck.

He kissed her neck. He brushed his lips along her jaw. Her hands slid under his shirt and pressed up his spine. Their lips met. Sweet kisses over, and over. Arms holding each other tight, he slipped his tongue between her lips. They kissed deeply until they couldn’t catch their breath.

Gasping, she lifted his shirt up and over his head. She walked behind him, brushing her palms across his shoulders and down his arms.

He hung his hands at his sides, fingers tingling to touch her. He felt nipples, just below his shoulder blades, and lips, and warm breath at the base of his neck.

As he turned towards her, she slid her fingers along the edge of his pants. Her smile had mischief in it. He nodded and laughed. She unfastened his belt, then pants. His hands couldn’t get enough of her soft skin. They both shook off the rest of their clothes.

The room was dark when Paloma woke up in Mudiaga’s bed. He was deep asleep, with slow deep breaths, his arm heavy across her chest. She lifted her head to look at the clock on the night stand, 10:45 pm. She nuzzled into his shoulder, feeling his smooth skin on her lips.

He didn’t feel her slip out of bed, her hand letting his go. He didn’t feel her kiss his forehead and the tear she left in his hair. He would have stopped her if he had.

Back at her apartment, there was a note from Jeff saying that he was down the street having a few drinks and that she should join him.

Paloma didn’t shower. She didn’t change her clothes. She packed a suitcase, took a cab to the Emeryville Amtrak station, and bought a ticket to Denver, her pockets full of tissues.

The California Zephyr goes through the Sierra Nevadas and crosses the Continental Divide. At one of those lovey points, where a bridge crosses a river, she rested her head on the cold window, blinking to see through tears, like windshield wipers in the rain. The crescent moon was setting behind her, giving the trees a silver glow, without dimming Orion’s endless chase for the Pleiades. A lot of stars are born in that nebula between his legs.

Amtrak 6 never made it to South Boulder Creek, something about the ventilation system in the Moffat tunnel and a stalled train.

(stream/download info here)


He’s walking down a long paved road.  Down the middle, a broken yellow line gently curves between grassy hills.  Where are the cows?  They’re usually here.  Oh well.

The road moves at a slight down, then up hill slope.  With little effort, he walks up the road, almost drawn.

Behind him, the sky is on fire, the sun having just set below the crest of hills.  He sees this without looking.  Above him, starless indigo dusk and getting darker.

The blackness ahead pulls him closer.  Does it have its own gravity?  It keeps getting darker.  Is that possible?  It doesn’t matter.

He breathes deeper, reaching for oxygen, like asthma.  But, the tightness is in the air, not his body.  Still less oxygen, his lungs work harder.  His heart rate quickens, attempting to distribute more oxygen, but there is none available.  Cells starve, neurons die, and then release, like a long exhale, relaxing.  Muscles in his jaw, and neck go back to neutral.

Then, nothing, and more nothing.

She walks around the stairs and under the second floor walkway, turning right to the apartment facing the street.  Even though it’s under all the floors, the sun is beating on the windows, shades drawn.

She knocks on the door.  Nothing, but she didn’t expect him to jump up for her.  The cooler in her right hand is heavy.  She places it on the concrete.  She knocks again, this time heavier, louder, more obnoxious.

His dream is still nothing, more and more nothing, until something sounds like pounding.  It’s an irritating sound, but at least it’s not more nothing.  Nothing was about to get so boring.  Although, he could go for the dying part again.  Just keep walking into darkness and then release.  Do that over, and over again, maybe in different places, Tokyo, Everest, Mars.  Or, spin into a black hole, let his body stretch with the variations in gravity.

He hasn’t opened the door.  She cups her mouth and brings it to the crack between the door and wall.  “Open the fucking door!  I know you’re in there!”

He hears the voice swearing at him.  That’s funny.  Hmmm…funny.  He blinks and notices his body, slouched on the couch.

“It doesn’t smell like rotting flesh, so get the fuck up and open the fucking door!  It’s hot out here!”  Her yelling makes him smirk and he pushes himself up off the couch.  His strides to the door are slow, and long.  He doesn’t care what he steps on.  He starts to turn the doorknob.  Just that little crack lets in blinding sunlight.  He squints as she pushes her way through.

“Finally! You knew I wouldn’t leave ‘till you let me in, huh.”  She walks past him, holding the cooler behind her so it doesn’t bounce off his shin.

She kicks garbage out of her path to the kitchen, empty wrappers of Fire Cheetos, and Reese’s Pieces, and cans of Venom, and Mountain Dew.

The kitchen and the living room are practically the same room, except that they’re not.  It’s an old building and the door between the rooms must have been removed, carpet on one side, linoleum on the other.

He sits back on the couch, a narrow butt indent still waiting for him.  He watches her unload plastic containers from her cooler to his freezer, and fridge.

“I’m putting veggie lasagna and chili in the freezer, they should last a few months in there.”  She can feel his eyes.  “There’s some lemonade, with lavender, in the fridge, and beans and rice.  And, here’s an avocado, it’s almost ripe.  I’m putting it right here, on the counter.”

Emptying the cooler, she pulls out a single serving size container.  “I’ll be so fucking pissed if you let this shit get moldy.”  She hunts for a saucepan, it’s easy to find in such a small kitchen, and dumps a mild vegetable, and sweet potato soup into the pan, turning the burner on low.  She rinses the container in the sink and puts it in the cooler, closes the lid and picks it up.  She’s ready to get out of this place.

“Did you come to fuck me?”  He knows she can’t resist his smile.

Holding the cooler, she leans against the empty door frame.  They take a moment to look to each other and smile, lips closed with subtle pleasure.

She looks down at the cooler.  “You need to fucking shower.”  She lifts the cooler with her fingers to get a better grip.  “Brush your teeth and eat something that doesn’t look so damn radioactive.”  Her smile shows her teeth.  “And, have a fucking regular shit.  None of that crazy ass wet kinda medicated shit.  You’re gonna need a fucking diaper.”  They both laugh.  He shakes his hair around his face.

She walks to the front door, not caring what she steps on.  She grabs the doorknob, but doesn’t turn it.  She moves to look at him, one hand on the doorknob, the other holding the cooler.  “Then, I’ll ride you like a fucking magic carpet.”

She opens the door and disappears into the blinding sunlight.  He’s alone again, more nothing.  Something smells delicious.

(stream/download info here)