I wonder if our days are numbered.

I asked him a few times if he was adding up the prices of the food we were throwing in the shopping cart and he kept (reassuringly) answering “yes.” At the tightly spaced register, I piled up all the foods that were similar in kind, in weight, in fragility and stood patiently waiting for the sum total. Andrew quickly and quietly told me it was already up to $107.00 but we only brought $120.00 to spend. He then told the cashier to stop, waving his hand to cease her scanning. She asked him, “are you sure?” in Italian or maybe a clarifying nod- I wasn’t paying attention. When I realized what food was left over, my mind panicked- the hard salami, the yellow carton of eggs, the green ladyfinger grapes and the yummy rest- was not part of our final purchase.

“So we’re not getting this?” I asked Andrew in a calm yet worried manner.

“Yes, Vicky. We’re not getting this,” he replied a bit irritated.

“None of it?” and I wasn’t sure if I said anything else but a million things shot through my brain looking at the at least 20 items I was so sure and happy and excited we were buying. My eyes skimmed back over the hot dogs we had bought the last time and I thought about how much my eating endeavors would suck without having those tiny, little pink wieners to snack on.

Andrew was angry. On the way out, he sort of raised his voice at me.

“Because we don’t have enough money!” My hand rose to my unlipsticked mouth, embarrassed and shocked that he would practically yell at me in the supermarket with enough people standing around, enough to make myself cringe at the thought that they were close enough to hear what he was saying. Usually I’m the one that raises my voice unnecessarily but this time it was he and that added to my surprise.

After shoving the doubled plastic bags into the backseat of our black Nissan maxima, we drove hastily away beginning the argument that would almost end our relationship. I can’t remember exactly what words were exchanged. I was so furious that he was humiliated by my actions, I yelled immediately to his instigation. I knew he would bring it up again- and he did. I took the opportunity to really let my emotions out on him- I was so tired of the constant berating. I kept telling him that it wasn’t important and that it was ridiculous that he would get upset over such a stupid thing. He told me I had no tact, especially when it comes to money. This is an argument that I have heard before. I was beginning to wonder if he was right.

The “exchange” lasted. A bit. We continued to drive and we were on Ocean Avenue when he flatly said, “I hate you.”

“I hate you too.” And I did at the moment. He told me he wanted to break up with me. That I had a year to get out. That I should save up. That he would split the bills with me 50/50. That he didn’t really like me and didn’t want to be with someone he didn’t like. Neither did I.

I was angry- hot and bloated. The bad energy filled my head like a balloon ready to burst. I began to feel the overwhelming need to smoke a cigarette but there weren’t any around. Andrew had them in his pocket; he pulled one out and lit it with his Zippo lighter. A few seconds later, I looked inside the compartment between both of our seats and lit one too. I rolled down the window and the cold spring air blasted my face. Again, millions of things ran through my mind. Gradually the questions I asked myself began to let my boiling brain simmer down. How would I survive? I began to think… I could live with my parents. Yea, that would work. My mom always told me I could move back into the house if I needed to. I could still work in the city. I would just have to travel the way I used to- take the ferry or the train. I would have all this free time! What kinds of things would I do? Would I start clubbing again? Would I start doing drugs that I stopped doing? … No… I convinced myself- I wouldn’t. Well, if I were not paying rent, I would have most of my money to myself. Would anyone ever love me? No one would be like Andrew. What about all our furniture? Would he take it all? That would be unfair. Who would I hang out with? Steph would still be my friend. Fine! Then he can be a crack head all he wants without me bothering him. I guess he really doesn’t love me… how did it get to be this way?

Silence. Wrapped up in my paralyzing thoughts, I did not say a word for the rest of the ride home. Neither did he. We reached the municipal parking lot, put our bags in the cart and wheeled the food and ourselves upstairs. Once inside our apartment the treatment continued. We did our duty quietly. It spoke so much more than words. I did not know what he was thinking; I assumed he’d stay true to his words and that we were finished. We would live out the rest of our days like this, working silently side by side but worlds apart.

I lugged the bags out of the cart and into our white kitchen. Little by little the bags disappeared and the shelves of our refrigerator filled. I stacked the green vegetables on the bottom shelf, the breads in the center, the liquids in the door and the fish and chicken in the freezer. Dry goods were sat neatly in the cabinets above the counter and the oven. Then I brought all the weeks of dirty laundry down to the laundry room to be washed- all 8 loads of them.

My chores dragged on and of course, so did our non-verbal communication. I caught Andrew making sandwiches- one for him and one for me- and I thought that was nice. As long as I was cleaning his dirty underwear he should be making me something to eat.

I was finally begrudgingly going down to transfer wet clothes to the dryer and more dirty clothes into the washing machine when the dry spell broke. He asked me, “Do you need help?” Humph, he said something, I thought.

“If you want to help,” I replied, trying not to sound too accepting or enthusiastic about what I actually thought was a welcoming reintroduction to each other as communicable human beings.

I left before him, knowing that there were others in the building waiting for me to finish my enormous amounts of laundry and I kind of did not want to walk down stairs with him, side by side when I felt so tremendously separated from him.  When he met me in the laundry room, minutes later, I was sitting in a white folding chair counting down the remaining minutes on the three dryers. I watched the clothes, the colored, the whites and the darks tumbling around and around, dancing amongst and within themselves in the hot, circular space.

“Vic,” he begged in a tone that told me he was sorry, so sorry that my eyes welled up with water, my face flushed, my chin trembled and my lips formed the frown that somehow felt more like a relieved smile.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I love you….” and I stretched out my arms to hold his waist and he pulled himself closer into me, wrapping his arms around my head, caressing my freshly done, long black hair. “I’ll never leave you. We’ll get married. Let’s do it soon.” The sudden turn of events warmed my heart. Despite the seemingly opposite kind of situation we were having, so very different in mood and sound and kind than the one that tore my insides into endless, infinite knots, I was cautious of all I heard. He began to banter about how we should go to Vegas, have a rock and roll wedding and how it would change everything, and fix all our silly problems, which he proceeded to defend with monetary and legal justifications. I thought to myself despite the apparent complete 180, a woman can never be mad when her one true love discusses marriage, future plans and the completion of dreams in any way whatsoever. I took the bait, although this term would seem insufficient and reveled in the idea of consummation of everything I’ve been asking for. We continued to fold laundry, slowly putting together the broken pieces, remembering the feeling of making up and making up felt so good.

Later that night, Andrew and I drove to El Greco, a diner in Sheapshead Bay to have some late night snacks. When I entered the car, he had a bouquet of red and yellow and white roses and carnations, a perfect ending to my not so perfect day. I told him, “This will be a nice ending to my story that I’m writing upstairs.” It was and it is.


two lines here

Two lines here.

What will be next?

Down the rabbit hole

Of uncovered dreams

Of cool, soft winds

Of warm, red suns

Embracing my face

Caressing my cheek with a kiss of air

The fresh beats made me move

Back and forth… hard (didn’t know I still had it in me)

What will I miss? what happens next? five more minutes of bliss

We didn’t know it would happen- a surprise

Nothing could deter you from this insanely riotous happiness

Sitting in the corner, hidden by black balloons

The neighbors on the tour-guide bus were frozen with fear

But I saw passersby dancing, shaking their long arms and shoulders to the same sweaty beats

Children in the cradle of their mother’s chest wondering

Sunglass wearing young men heavy metal-ing to our screeeeeeams of delight

The midnight blue sky backdrop contrasts sharply with your ice white dress

Two flat stomachs, two wooden sticks jutting from your arms

I tippy toed to see the orange and yellow projections, the numbers, the strings of words sit on your back

And legs




The high ceilinged room had hidden wonders


Where have you been all my life?

I still think

And ask

The hair under your arms said it all but I thought I kind of looked like you and somehow that made me happy

I was sorry to say there weren’t any more drinks but “the blue medicine bottles are coming!” Did I promise?

The whirling of the ancient Middle Eastern, Jewish, pagan symbols float around the room

My eyes drift then swoon over the audacity of sacred texts harboring in shadows!

Why do I not know of this place but then I feel blessed as I watch

All their energy

And your energy: the swift, twirling, dancing! shifting towards the sky

Everyone smiles

As time is


The sun dipping down behind the skyline

Below the horizon

Low cement ceilings warn of instant death

Of heads chopped off

But this is LIFE

And I’m not scared anymore

We are enthralled


In awe

of your glory

As we cross the Brooklyn bridge

The endless wires becoming o n e in this stop motion cartoon…

I like your dress

And your shoes

And your hair

I wonder where

She got those?

I swear

It was the best


I will sleep well tonight

how a bartender makes a drink

Imagine that we sit in any ordinary artist’s studio, and gaze at an empty canvas wondering what colors to use to begin painting our masterpiece. Our sight soaks in the bright hues of the acrylic paint- they sit on a plastic tray, much as a small shrub or bush would in a garden waiting for spring so it can sprout its majestic flowers; it’s almost as though the globs of paint know what they’re here for. The artist’s fingers grasp the paintbrush and he lightly dips the camel hair bristles into the small hills of paint; it’s the honeymoon after marriage. When the paintbrush seduces the crescent of paint, the slight crunching and squishing of the bonding produces a kind of romantic spark. I call this a “visual birth.” The liaison provided by the sealing of brush to paint announces the beginning of a possible epiphany, transcending the artist’s wildest dreams.

We have been watching a sort of working model of the way in which a bartender attempts to make a mixed drink. Standing behind a bar, in front of the house rack, the mixologist meticulously grabs the neck of a liquor bottle, pulls it straight up and configures by sight how much liquid should go into the empty glass. The many forms of alcohol, such as vodka, gin, rum and tequila represent the different colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple) of paint.

The movement of the paintbrush represents the jerk of the wrist. We know that turning our hands at a certain degree allows the titled liquor bottle to drop a measured amount of liquor into a highball glass, approximately 4 ounces. We can prove for ourselves by the amount of yolk in an egg, or even by 2 heaping of ground coffee, or as sickness demonstrates when our medicine dosage calls for a capful size. We also know that the artist picks certain colors to portray an emotion, a mood, much like the way a bartender picks certain liquors to create a specific taste. The artist recognizes that selecting explicit colors will create an entirely different interpretation of the story he plans to tell, carefully acknowledging the temperament each color beings to our understanding of life. A brush of paint across a blank canvas generates a massive conglomeration of truth, a concoction of elements pouring into the universe for our observation.

Thus, the diverse mixtures of colors and the dissimilar techniques of painting build a product in which viewers can soak in an esthetically pleasing elucidation of existence. The swish and swipe of the paintbrush are the shaking, stirring and layering of a delicious fruity drink. A splash of blue paint may set a gloomy mood, causing the consumer to feel depressed; guzzling cocktails will send the drinker swirling into a dismal, downward spiral. The artist’s final touches are sweet to the taste as the cherry, orange or lemon garnish embellishes the edge of a highball glass. The minute details of a finer stroke will cause the viewer to appreciate the craftsmanship of the artist as many other colors and skills will, until finally, we stand back and value the creative process as that of a gift from God. Consequently, all these visuals entering our eyes are the sliding pleasure of amorphous taste down our throats, making us content. And that is how a bartender makes a drink.

two round blues

A wink and a smile

I cannot find you


Underneath the maroon Japanese covers

faded with age.

We lay feet to feet

face to tv

browsing the flix to get a fix

waiting to feel the mix

of another two round blues.

I cannot sleep- neither can you.

What else is new on a

Sunday night/Monday morning

tomorrow afternoon?

at the age of 17

At the age of 17, I started going to a nightclub called Vinyl on the Lower West Side, slightly above the Holland Tunnel, and had come to know the web of the quiet, industrial, warehouse-filled area that packs the city like unnecessary hallways. I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something too. I had lost something that could not possibly be restored to me. All the mystery, the drama, the intrigue had gone out of the urban jungle. I still keep in mind the long, laborious walk from the Canal Street subway station when the city was new to me. My heart raced as I trudged slowly, west along Canal Street past Broadway; I could never figure out which street to turn uptown on. By the time I would get to the Holland Tunnel, the streets criss crossed like a tic tac toe board; I became either the “x” or the “o” trying to complete the winning strand of symbols to guide my way along the labyrinth that was the steam-filled, hazy, humid, metropolitan city; the overpass resembled a key: a concrete, pale and desolate rainbow that reminded me I was near my destination- just a few more blocks towards the most sacred, physical interpretation of human dreams, dreams that could only be translated when the rest of the world succumbed to the routine of sleep; the orange glow of the streetlights cast a spell on the silhouette of characters below and we passed the tall, modern luminescent dinosaurs like shells. We were ghosts lacking the meat that defined us as corporate slaves; the only purpose for the night’s outing was to fill the holes that made us transparent with the fresh, pulsating energy of our 20th century minds; the air hung, it was black, brown, sepia and when I turned the corner onto Hubert off Hudson Street, a breathing cave opened like the depths of our hollow souls, filled with nothing except darkness; the bright light only filtered in once inside the club’s doors.

I strolled like one bewitched. I drank the darkness in, in a meditative fit. It finally swallowed me up. The club scene was new to me; the Friday night weekly after-hours party was a ritual where we all found something in the emptiness of others and their need for salvation mirrored ours. But as I have said, a morning came when I ceased to acknowledge the sensory overloaded main rooms; the last weekend the club was open, we found familiar faces and cried in deepest joy and blood curdling sadness at the realization that this home would be no more and we would be left hanging in the empty hallways alone; another morning when I ceased altogether to acknowledge them. Then, if that hallway scene repeated, I should have looked upon it without meditation and should have commented upon it, inwardly, in this fashion: my final walk towards the subway station was but a torrid, filthy memory, lacking a conclusion that I sought for five years; the streets weren’t a maze but my mind was, crammed with jigsaw puzzle pieces; the overpass was just a functional, architectural element blocking the clearest, most direct way towards “home;” the skeletal fragments of the lampposts that lit the way didn’t whisper directions back to the subway station; the vacant cavities within ourselves were only filled with the twisted horrors of the night and junkie like bowels; the sun rose and its rays were searing, hot and unwelcoming; the hanging air was just the previous day’s unsettled dust; the luminescence inside the club was the flash of white light before death and then, I asked myself, how could I find what I was looking for, in reality, in a conscious state parallel to the bright eyed people along the streets owned by the working class, in this delusion?

No, it wasn’t a mystery. The eclecticism of the wonderland was all gone. Any “eternal” grandiose sentiment I ever had about the club on Hudson and Hubert Street coincidently unraveled into the wing of a mature butterfly, resembling a beautiful, thick Persian rug, woven with miracles and years of expertise. Does the caterpillar ever question its existence, crawling along the moist earth, eating only the single leaves of flowering plants and trees, sustaining life as she molts and grows? When she rests, encased in a chrysalis, coiled in her bundle, is she conscious of her metamorphosis or does she revel in the beauty of sleep as she suspends from a sultry, silk pad? When the adult butterfly emerges and her wings are wrinkled, wet and deflated, does she passionately acknowledge the pumping phenomenon of fluid to her black, orange and white speckled wings? Does she understand, while her wings dry, fluttering up into the open space of sky, that her first flight is a magnificent journey elevated mainly, but not entirely, by the fact that she was ugly for so long and is now finally free?

protective glass

I was born in a city without protective glass but bars to guard the truths we cannot shake.

They bend though here and there

to make us know they exist.

Black iron waves like tree branches in the night

tapping on my windowpane

Sisters with the whispering wind

both channeling thoughts of doubt beneath the heavy blankets of my head.

prague cream

Sitting on wrinkled slate blue bedding several days before last year’s Christmas, I untied a ribbon that decorated a gift bag given to me by my boyfriend’s sister, Inna. After pulling the strings of the fabric, I uncovered a bath set from Sephora called “Indulgences: Full-Caff Non-Fat Double-Whipped Body Blend Set” which, according to its label, announced that I should: “Wake up and smell the beauty.” I continued to read, “This fully caffeinated duo contains cellulite-busting ingredients that work to stimulate and exfoliate the skin as they deeply hydrate the skin with the warm, soothing scent of coffee and fresh cream.” The set included a 7-ounce Coffee and Cream Morning Scrub, a 1.7 ounce Cappuccino Creamer Whipped Body Delight and a loofah. I remember thinking that the set was awesome- girly yet sophisticated. Buying feminine products at specialty gift stores was never my thing- however- if a close friend or someone who loves me finds it endearing to shower me with gifts, I’m always up to endure the pleasure.

Leading up to the festive holiday, I often used the beady shower blend while washing up, amazed at the practical brilliance of the scrub. The loofah, while usually scratchy and harsh, was shaped like a hand, fit almost sensually- especially when wet- and filled its rightful position as a helpful glove. When I dipped my finger into the whipped light beige cream, I felt a tingling sensation like the brush of an angel wing against my soul and the container always called back to me when I shut the mirror’s door on her. After I rubbed her thoroughly over the palms of both my hands and spread her all over my face- my nose, my cheeks and finally my forehead- my skin was not just radiant with a warm, sheen-like glow but the café aroma filled my nostrils with a pleasant, wafting familiarity, a swelling of my consciousness and my entire being.

We had planned the weeklong excursion to Prague, my boyfriend Boris and I, about two months before the departure date- the date being early in the afternoon the day after Christmas. I packed the set with me, knowing that I would use it religiously day after day… squeezing the pulpous fluid into the loofah and scraping the cream from the sides of the jar until its contents ran out. Boris and I arrived in Prague exhausted after an anxiety-fueled 12-hour plane ride and a short stop in Amsterdam, but nerve-wracked with the unimaginable idea that we would be spending such a short time on an exotic retreat literally all the way across the world. For me, the very first time way on my own.

Our hotel was located in the eastern outskirts of the city, Hotel Teatrino, in the artist district. The high, palace-like building that stood on steep cobble-paved streets told mystifying stories and I was overcome with the thought that there was so much old history here, history that I would never know. I could story the history of the Czech country and people, sure, but I would never know w hat really happened in the spots that I was standing in. Yet the expansive feeling in my mind and body told that the concept of collective unconscious was completely apparent during all these metaphysical moments I was having treading along the narrow alleyways of the city. There is no arguable way that thousand-year-old relics, churches, cathedrals, synagogues and bridges could transform me the way they did just by the “looking” and “marveling” at their perfect structures. Every morning we woke up bright and early so as not to miss a single second of whatever we could swallow from our surroundings.

Soon after sunrise, I showered and stood staring at my unpolished face, twisted off the cap to the tub of Cappuccino Creamer, submerged my pointer finger in the mixture and swirled the substance around my skin. We would both do this, morning after morning, savoring the milliseconds we had in front of the fluorescent-lit mirror in the functionally-sized bathroom, moving out faces up towards the light and pulling our skin taught, peering at the lines under our eyes and frowning with a slightly open mouth, muscles tense yet relaxed at the final sight of shiny, dewy skin. I like the smell of the creamer; I didn’t think much of it at the time, noticing its sweet smell but never associating moments with the repetition of usage. We brought the little container back home and shoved it in the rear abyss of our medicine cabinet with the rest of the old, useless, junk.

Boris and I had moved into our new apartment several months ago- my first place and his first with me. We had unpacked all t he toiletries that we had taken with us; we there out many that were expired or we had no use for. The Cappuccino Creamer was the most beautifully designed of all- short and squat, thoughtfully decorated with feminine nuances such as swirly script font and neutral complementary colors. I sat it on top of other creams we rarely used.

One day I decided to use it. I unscrewed the top, left to right, and gradually the memory of bitter cold streets and moderate, sleety rain came flooding back to me. After applying the cream to my face, I was transported to a time and place that only existed as a fragment in my u universe, yet filled so much of it with the most esteemed aesthetic value I could have ever imagined. I often thought about – and still think about- the dreamlike quality of the city of Prague, centrally located in the most historically decadent continent on our planet. Something warm and indescribable, like a delicate bulging of the senses, of every sense, lifted the hairs of my skin and calmed whatever worry I was obsessing over. When I came to, I was standing again in front of a mirror as I had in Prague. I looked at myself and responded to the revelation of acknowledging that body that I only knew for a week, the person I was and had the pleasure of being for seven days. The next thing I could think of was to share the experience with my boyfriend, Boris, knowing fully that he would understand the out of body experience and revel in its beauty. I called to him.

“Boris! Come in here! This smells like Prague.”

He, of course, replied, “hmpf…It does.

And the cappuccino we continue to drink smells like the three cups a day we became addicted to in the wondrous, mysteriously unique Czech country, replacing the empty package now incinerated somewhere, once full of thick, sensuous, heave like “Whipped Body Delight.”

mashed potatoes

Wandering down the wet hallway

Waiting for a sign

Drifting off into a bright light oblivion.

We caress inside dreams

A blindfold on my eyes

A Secret place

We circle round the avenue.

I thought you died but I met you again,


On the couch and called out your name.

You said, “I’m here. Don’t worry.”

Our heads entwined

Our minds as one

I saw the bubbling bubble up

And turned to you.

“it’s all mashed potatoes…”

and you replied, “how did you know?”