Streetcars and Husbands


Some poorly dressed kid
in some indie variegated over washed T-shirt
and ripped (from years of use) jeans
offers his advice as if he had years of wisdom
under his sleeve:

“Znate, Hrvati imaju dvije zakon za život:
1. Nemoj trčati za tramvajem. 2. Nemoj trčati za mužem. i to je to.”*

And that is it?

As if chasing after street cars and men
where the things weighing me down
and causing my sleepless nights
and over-caffeinated days…

as if this was the cause of my sciolistic urge
to make up for the fact
i didn’t live up to the dreams of my childhood.
*Translation: “You know, Croats have two rules for life: 1. Do not run after streetcars. 2. Do not run after a husband. And that is it.

slow motion melancholy


Her scarf was blowing in the wind as dawn was peeking in through the buildings on a crisp December city morning. The snow storm slowed into flurries making 120th Street look like a snow globe fitting the holiday season well. The rotted big apple never looked so beautiful she thought to herself. Soon everyone will be off to work or fall semester finals. The buses and taxis fighting over who could do the better job at turning the cloud-like white ground into brown slush (and let me tell you, they are both fierce competitors). The dogs adding in a spectrum of yellows and greens in a splatter paint form. Pigeons trying to restore the white with their shit, but, though I’d never thought this possible, New York City just doesn’t have enough pigeons for that. Before you know it the scene changes to shades of cynical gray. It is sad when purity transforms to amass of filth right before your eyes fast enough for you to actually realize it. It’s like a vehemently pious mother watching behind the scenes as her only child, her daughter turns into a whore, a sinner, everything that she isn’t, everything she tried to sway her against. She feels helpless against it. Her daughter won’t listen to her. All she would do is disapprove from afar. Then her head collapses into her hands and she weeps at her failure. She doesn’t blame herself, she blames God–if only she paid more attention to her daughter things might have turned out different.

Ashlynn had enough with with her depression, her sadness, her bad habits, the hiding, the deceit, the letdowns, the trying, the failing… This was the final straw. Why must everything turn sour? We are born innocent and with each realization of the reality surrounding us on this earth things gets exponentially harder and adscititiously repugnant. She stepped on top of the ledge twenty stories in the air. It was a balancing act. The ledge fit perfectly in the arch of her foot, and there she stood trying hard to find a point of equilibrium as she oscillated between the options of life and death. When she breathe in the right side of her lips curved upward as if trying to smile but never learning how–it was the face of awkward inner peace. But when she breathe out, her body swaying closer to the rooftop, that trying smile decomposed into indifference.

It was now or never.

She lifted her arms as if she was going to fly and to do so she needed a diving takeoff. It is important to know that her arms where higher than if crucified; she did not look like a cross. The thought of mimicking a crucifixion was horrifying to her. She never accepted this fate. It just came to her—unprophetised , unwarranted, and purposeless. She didn’t want to hang from anything. And she surely didn’t want to hang onto anything. She was letting go. Finally letting go of everything that held her down. The need to be weightless and float overpowered her. Her eyes were shut, and could you guess what expression she held on her face? She was actually smiling! For the first time in years she was smiling. This was not the face of happiness though; it was the face of completion. In those milliseconds in which her life was diminishing all she could hear through the wind was the winnow of her scarf. That brilliant blue scarf whispered, sibilantly resounding her life: slow motion melancholy yet somehow beautiful. The beauty an artist speaks of–the kind that doesn’t come easily. The kind that that can’t be forced. It just is or it isn’t. The kind of beauty that is at the essence.

One twentieth street between Broadway and Amsterdam never looked so triste. She lie on her back a perfect replica of Da Vinci’s geometric man. Slowly deep crimson blood surrounded her body outlining her like a snow angel. The taxi cabs filled with 80+ hour a week 20-somethings formed a golden aura around her in which the rest of the city muraled into with tinted golden brown fast motion photos taken with a still camera from the 1920’s. They reflected like the sun–you couldn’t look at them straight in the eye, but you didn’t have to because you knew how they looked like already. There she was the only visible thing among the chaos. Dilatorily the gray of her outfit darkened to fade into the crimson of the blood. Her face paled to the color of the snow not yet debased by city living. The only thing that stood out from the red and the white was her brilliant blue scarf and increasingly freezing cold lips. If she were on a canvass the colors would change as you approached, much like how some eyes follow you in paintings.

There she was with her highest goal attained. She metamorphosed into an object of a surrealist painting: unique and different, dreamlike and poetic. City life went on as normal all around her and she was the deep crimson snow angel in the middle of it all crying out, “Don’t worry New York, I’m here for you. I don’t know if I really love you but, I’m still here for you!”



Dancing in the Night: The Unbearable Loudness of Youth



Ears ringing. Cacophony engulfs me. Everything is dim and smoky. The temperature outside is cold—nearly freezing, yet I am excruciatingly hot. Sweat beads down my face. My underarms feel swampy. My skin almost feverish. I can feel my body pulsating. My hands shaking to the rhythm of the thumping bass line all around me. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Each note an attack that you never can get used to. What failed experimentation! I can barely breathe in this environment. I yearn to drink fresh air. My mouth is insufferably dry. I cannot make out any intelligible sound. I can just feel the beat and hear the noise of hysteria: the screaming and the yelling and the battle cries. I am surrounded in a sea of sounds. If this was not so abhorrently horrid I would think I was dreaming. But this is not the stuff that dreams are made of. This is not a nightmare I can wake up from. The nights are all the same. The noise blends into the same gray groggy mornings, but I force myself to get up and move on. The noise comes again every night without fail. I do not know why I keep coming back to this unbearable loudness associated with my youth.

I am living in a constant state of white noise. It is making me mad. It is drowning me and depleting me leaving me devoid of emotion. White and black bleeding together with flashes of reds-oranges-yellows. And the noise. And the ringing. And the bass line ever throughout. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. I cannot take the noise. It has a seemingly magical power of turning men into ruthless savage animals. Even the ones you would least expect become possessed by this demon. You can see the flame in their eyes. They could just tear you to pieces mercilessly.

Cigarettes have become the main staple of my diet. It’s weird but I don’t even have an appetite anymore. I lost it a long time ago. In the beginning, I used to dream of homecooked meals my mama made, but I have come to terms with the fact I won’t be eating them again. My home no longer exists. My family no longer exist. The past no longer exists. When this is all over it’ll all be rewritten. I smoke to breathe. Relax. I smoke to calm my shaking. Relax. I smoke because I am angry. Relax. I smoke because I suffer. Relax. I smoke because I am alone. Relax. I smoke because I am losing. Relax. I smoke because I am a failure. Relax. I smoke because I was fooled into believing ideals could be made possible in this lifetime. Smoking is my only confidant here. She understands me. The best part is we don’t need words. Finally I have something silent amidst the noise.

I am with her right now, my little cigarette. It must be the oldest untold love story of all time. We were forced together because of circumstance, and now we will die together. I know it. I can feel it imminently approaching. I take a puff, breathe her in and blow out her soul. She dances for me in the night air. BAM! BLAST! BOOM! There she is again dancing in the reds-oranges-yellows. I wish she had more befitting dulcet music than just the bass line and white noise melody. She deserves that much. She dances into the night air rising and rising until finally fleeing becoming a fading evanescence before the miscreant smoke can overtake her.

There they are. All those men dying. Dying. Here I am behind this mutinous bramble leaning against a brittle rock. Some call it hiding, but I call it smoking. Some may even call me a coward. They are wrong. I am not a coward. I am afraid, but I am not a coward. What type of man is afraid they say? A human I respond. I barely see that anymore—humanity for fellow man. That is why she dances off disappearing into the night. She cannot be among this savagery for too long. She cannot let it corrupt her beautiful soul.

Civil war. UGH! What is civil about it? I have seen my friends die besides me. I received news of relatives being killed back home. I heard of the pillaging, the raping, the torture, the outright butchering. Neighbor against neighbor. Brother against brother. Countryman against countryman. I can’t even tell you what this war is about anymore. When I enlisted it seemed noble at the time. But now, but now I just want to go back home. I want to go back to the way it was before.

I have thought about it you know. Putting an end to the agony. Not a single day goes by without that thought crossing my mind at least 48 times. Yes 48—once every half hour at least. But let me repeat: I am not a coward. Sure, I could just take my gun and end it now. It would only take a second. But why? I can never follow through with it. But no, no, I am not a coward. I just can’t make myself believe that the other side is better. If the other side is not better it would all have been in vain to take my own life, right. In this world I have seen beautiful things—the blues of the morning sky, the selflessness of the giving to people in need, the vastness of the oceans, the breathtaking mountains, and the twinkling stars. And I have seen this. Civil war. Civil war in all its coldness and cruelty. If this much evil can exist in a world so beautiful, what about this so-called heaven? Wouldn’t a place better than here, more perfect than here, have the potential to be even more evil than here? I just can’t do it. I have always heard that you should get busy living or get busy dying, but lately I cannot distinguish the difference between the two. What even is life in this circumstance besides the ability to keep on breathing?

Gasp. HUH. Gasp. HUH. Gasp. These small quiet bursts accent the background of the unbearable loudness associated with this youth of mine. Ears ringing. Cacophony engulfs me. Everything is dim and smoky. The temperature outside is cold—nearly freezing, yet I am insufferably hot. Sweat beads down my face. My underarms feel swampy. My skin almost feverish. I can feel my body pulsating. My hands shaking to the rhythm of the thumping bass line around me. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa BAM! BLAST! BOOM! There they are again. The reds-oranges-yellows. Something jerks me forward. SHHHH! BAM! SHHHH! BLAST! SHHHH! BOOM! SHHHH! Whiplash. I catapult back onto the rock. Red. Orange. Yellow. Black. Luminous incandescent yellow. Lustrously glowing welcoming white. There I am. I am with her. Two souls dancing in the cold night air blissfully disappearing. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa/ pa-pa-pa-pa-pa/ pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Vanishing slowly via diminuendo over the baseline as we become weightless. SHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!