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  • joshuamerchantart

Pipes Pt. I Jan. 9, 2020 / Jan. 12, 2020 / Feb. 17, 2020


it is a late night

and i am walking down bancroft

everything i’ve been through that day,

that month, that past life that has followed

me into this one is dry, green, leafy, and potent

resting in a metal pipe. i am walking

to my father’s place where more of this

is waiting for me. the pipe in one hand

the lighter in the other. the inside of the pipe

smells like the belly of beasts

holding limbs they’ve managed to rip from me,

all of which are now rotting,

all of which i’ve learned to live without.


i assume OG could smell my decay

when he asked how much my lighter cost,

his eyes the most familiar part about him, glossy

the way those who know the magic of necromancy

use water to bring plants to life. the curvature

of his sockets that of a shovel used to bury.

unearth. he looked concerned.

i needed the money. i come up

the stairs to my father’s apartment

with two dollars in my pocket.

***

it is a sunny afternoon. don’t remember my age,

only that i am a still young. not quite a child. definitely not an adult. high school i think. maybe the tail end

of middle school. i don’t recall a number

attached to this body at this time.

only the naivety as proof. the first time

i seen a glass pipe it came

with a swarm of others -


a hornets nest made of flimsy plastic

i kicked in a parking lot. was taken

aback by how pretty the buzzing sounded -


almost like windchimes. when i looked

inside each piece of glass that wasn't broken

had tiny plastic flowers in them.

what cute little vases i thought.

said something along those lines

out loud. in the form of a question.


what are those vases for.

i can’t tell you who the hornet

was in that moment, the glass

or me. only that i could hear

the sting in my father’s voice

when he responded.


those aren’t vases. they’re crack pipes.

i’d like to say i was scared then.

that would imply the fear is gone now.

i’d say repackaged maybe.

tied up in plastic the way guardians

are to careless, or lazy, or honest

to gift-wrap your present.

***

these two days are blurred. no recollection of the sun’s placement. only that i am a single digit. a child playing with another well into his teenage years. he may or may not be a distant cousin. what i do know is i am not pleased. Maybe boredom. maybe i was just a brat and whining is easier than voicing your needs or knowing what you want. either way, this boy is proposing different ideas of fun, each of my ‘no’s more emphatic than the next. until finally, he exposes his crotch, from his basketball shorts and it unfurls in front of me. he waves it in my face. asks If i want to suck it. my no is different this time. can’t necessarily call it emphatic. a scream maybe. a cry even. he put it up. i can’t recall what he did to console me.


the second day bleeding into this one i am maybe a year older. maybe it was the same year. also can’t recall the time of day. only that i haven’t started elementary school yet. and my room at my father’s house is dark. maybe dimly lit. and i discover porn. under my bed. my father’s leftover lust. Glossy and paper thin. Each page is “interesting” to say the least. but the most interesting thing in the magazine was it. dangling between his legs. phallic. i remember the heat taking over my body.

i didn’t mention this before, but, in the first memeory i ended up at the same house with the same boy. i wanted to see it again. he didn’t know what i was talking about.

i can’t tell you which memory is chicken or egg. Maybe the answer is both? They bleed into each other. i think i’ve felt like an open wound ever since.

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