Summer 09

Alex, somewhere on the shoreline,
Massachusetts, summer 2009,
driving, after much scotch,
hugging corners like lost lovers
with reckless self-abandon,

lost in his profound expectations,
lost in his lack of ambition
not committed enough to his
Christ complex
and feeling guilty for it,

riding along the ocean,
faster and much faster,
lynn shore drive,
the salt comes through the air vents,
this car is out of freon,

the wind is decidedly not
in his hair,
the wind decidedly not
at his back,
the sunset as of yet
impossible
to ride into,

Alex with his bad luck,
Alex with his shitty series
of temporary jobs—
he must wear a white shirt and tie
but is allowed a bit of stubble,
all day he reviews foreclosure documents
he pours over records of sadness,
of frustration,
and his heart grieves—

the foreclosure lawyer he works
for went to Burning Man,
he thinks this makes him alt—

Alex, for his part, no longer
wishes to be alt,
only to be loved, loved by someone
other than his mother—

Alex in his room,
the room he grew up in,
seeing the ghost of his cat,
red/orange striped
green eyed cat,
he can’t stop seeing his cat,
his dead cat
he is worried he has paranoid schizophrenia
from seeing his dearly departed
cat so often,
but he is not paranoid,
the cat is not threatening
it is just sitting in the sun—
if he tries to touch it it runs—

Alex is high on marijuana
but is not paranoid,
his eyelids are slung low
and his face is still,
a secret: he wishes he was paranoid—
paranoia would pass the time—
sanity’s got a hard edge to it,
too hard an edge for Alex,
at this moment in his existence—

he watches the OC on Netflix
with his cat in his peripheral vision,
always,
reruns of the OC, lost in the mellow
drama,
and Micha Barton’s skinniness,
which he finds both disgusting
and fuckable,

Alex is on Tumblr,
in summer 2009
it is beautiful today
in Massachusetts,
it is sunday,
he is trying to get the attention
of beautiful scene girls
who are wearing too much eye liner,
and he is lining his mind with it,
Alex lost in a convenient fantasy,
and also his lost cat,
in peripheral vision—

he is reblogging things to get
the attention of scene girls,
he wonders if he’s being too subtle
but he’s being too obvious–

he is smoking weed on the beach in Swampscott,
some bros offer to buy a nug off him
and he declines,
he looks out on the ocean,
he still feels the beauty of the ocean
and he smiles for a moment,
he closes his eyes
and sighs without sighing—
at night at Umass he heard the ocean before sleeping,
it lulled him to sleep—
he walks up the cement stairs to the road
and as he is walking he sees cat foot-prints—

Alex is at the bar, he is hunched over
before a notepad, writing and
drinking a scotch,
scotch feels right for this time
in his life, he tells himself
“i am 24 years old
and have failed,”
and writes this down,
and crosses it out,

the bar is a bar not for 20-somethings
it is wood-lined and there are green glass
lampshades,
it is a bar for broken 40-somethings,
a bar to start an affair at,
he has been hit on towards the end
of the night
by women as old as his mother,
with too much eye shadow,
he pities them but loathes their souls—

he meets a man tonight
who reminds him too much of himself
they laugh the same things
they pause at the same times,
the man says his family’s walked out
on him and
he knows he deserves it,
he listens to this man’s whole story
the man makes the obvious jokes
about him being a writer—

Alex can’t afford to do it
but buys him two scotches—
they both like the same brand of scotch—
he buys them for reasons of karma,
in the hopes he can avoid the man’s fate
in hopes his forehead
won’t accumulate half as many wrinkles—

he thinks of his father driving home,
driving fast, his father,
looking like david the gnome,
with his grey hair and small stature,
in an armchair, smoking bitterly,
his father, saying,
“i don’t need friends”—

on wednesday in summer 2009
Alex plays the open mike at the hip cafe-bar
in the center of salem,
he sings his songs about beautiful scene girls,
people like it,
he has a powerful voice
and projects it
he has a moment free of self hatred
when he sings—
he never sees his cat here—

he likes to flirt with the waitresses,
one is beautiful and soft as if
made of cotton candy pillows,
she solicits love like a teen applying to college
she has stretches and safety schools
and likelies,
she has fake diamond studs atop her perfect breasts
and mildly cat eyed glasses—

the other is hard and bird-like
and sharp-minded
and unsmiling,
she does the roller derby,
she is a feminist,
he endears himself to her
with carefully-worded misogyny,
this is his style—

he loves the first girl
but will settle for the other,
he knows this,
because the first is taken and how,
and the other’s available
for now—

poor Alex in summer 2009—

he drinks most nights somewhere
and tears down the road,
he speeds not even for thrill
he speeds to register anything,
he feels his wasted life thus far
like creeping moss—
a year out of school,
no decent job
one eviction,
no one who loves him
aside from his mother—
all this is more obscene to him
than any possible vehicular manslaughter—
anyway he’s a good driver even drunk,
he knows the odds are in his favor—
he never once gets pulled over—

on wednesdays toward the end of july
he begins
to make headway
with the second girl,

and one dark night
his mother is away
and he takes her home,
and they drink more,

and they make a sort of love
near midnight
her moans are mournful
they emanate in whispers,
and Alex feels erotic
and ashamed—

his cat is looking out the window,
not watching,
his dead cat
does not care—

when they awaken she seems strange
doesn’t say what’s on her mind,
she leaves too early,
not taking an offer for pancakes,
has things to do she says,
lots to do today,

she does not answer his texts
over the next few days.
the following wednesday tries to avoid him,
tries to stay busy at the counter,

he wonders what happened,
he’ll never know—

About Matthew Dinaro

Matthew Dinaro is a writer and musician living in Western Mass. He has been published by McSweeney's. He blogs at The Short Wave Mystery.

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