Chapin City Blues

Writing is writing whether done for duty, profit, or fun.

Not much of a Twenty One Pilots fan, but something about this song stuck. (Most of the album, actually, but let’s not talk about that.) It’s the lyric, the repetitive chorus, “Wish we could turn back time to the good old days/When our momma sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.” The first …

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It’s 2008 and I’m staring a plastic bag. There are note cards strewn around the floor. Thoughts written on three-by-fives in illegible scrawl. I pick up one of the blank ones and write the words: “When the plastic bag becomes your enemy, your salvation.” I let it fall where it may. There are thoughts of …

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Under Construction (Ripped from the Journal)

September 18, 2015

If only I had the foresight to record your every word, every whisper, I could lie here listening to the sound of your voice when I need you most.

In my dreams, you speak to me in English. Find you waiting on the front porch. The sky moonlit and spackled with stars. You tighten your shawl with the passing breeze.

Prosopagnosia_AphantasiaWe found an old table top tape recorder which my brothers and I used to record plays we found in various books. Books were limited, so we ran through variations of the same plays. Princess and the Frog seemed our favorite. Each weekend we’d gather around, remembered our lines. Changed up the voices. Added our own SFX. High voices for the princess; low ones for the king; grumbles for the frog. As always, our best Michael Winslow impressions for the eating scene.

The final recording made years before you left us remained forgotten. Neither brother thought of it because by then we were respectively adult, post-adolescent, and coming-of-age. None of these cassettes survived the discovery of mix tapes, girlfriends, and our favorite radio jams. Not this one. No, by whatever power may be this one feel into the cracks only to find itself in my mother’s possession—you daughter’s hands. Not knowing it held a connection to the next world, the old lady plays it to hear the glees of a prepubescent me. When her children were sill children and her mother there to show her the way.

“¿Dónde está mami?” you say. And you sing. And you talk. And you call out for me. For Wilaso.

¿Dónde está mami?

Where did you go?

My son is too young to ask me what happens when we die. Do I spoon feed him the same bullshit they fed me? That there’s a magical place in the sky, but the man who’ll lead us there might want to touch him? Do I tell him he will come back as something greater? That we’re energy and energy never dies, just becomes something else? And what becomes of us after we’re gone? Just a static underlining to the cackling of children recording puppet plays. The sounds of our voices reduced to memory. And memories fade and die away. Until we no longer exist. Dying another death we’re not present for.