Rey Armenteros is a Los Angeles-based painter and writer who has had his essays and poetry appear in numerous literary journals and art magazines, including The Nasiona, Lunch Ticket, BlazeVOX, and Still Point Arts Quarterly.
The school bus was plowing through a flooded street. Water had taken the shapes of the intersections. Yes in spite of this, and so, because of this, he got home late. It ruined all toy plans for the afternoon. From that proximity, it was the end of the world. The way out presents itself in a book that arrives years later. “On Oblivion” it read. He took a guess at what it could be about. And he didn’t bother reading the rest. “If memory serves when it matters most…” It was what was placed before you. It was a landmark for that ruined day. A song a notion; some visuals move around you and you lose yourself in yourself again.
The photograph I had left on the dashboard, one day when I was feeling careless and alive…
That was my zoo picture on the one high school field trip that ever took place.
I can still see it now. My mental image of a picture of me drawing a giraffe.
A memory reflected on was a confirmation.
But what about the ones that never came back? How can you check those?
A memory can be taken for granted because the fading colors are hardly ever noticed.
It’s like this: When you don’t read the words like they’re supposed to flow, you lose the music.
Semantics, that’s all. When you do, you’re some kind of cloud-climbing lunatic.
I have something to tell you. And it smells like that half birthday cake, three months too long in the fridge.
I was stuck in traffic, and I reached over because something was stuck between dashboard and windshield. The daily life of a constant sun had bleached almost all of my giraffe away.
One Year, October 31st
Fake glass broke. A hidden speaker projected a witch’s cackle. Outside the reconstructed garage, the people in the patio were standing around holding plastic cups and paper plates. The dark living room of the house was oppressed by wall-to-wall furniture populated with ornaments of every stripe of trip and holiday. Through the shadows and glowing paraphernalia, chubby arms and necks were restrained by black clothes. White faces in charcoal makeup and rubber masks in brown pools cast by the kitchen light.
Things in that black book? he asked. No. You know this. They patted the bag that held the book. I know what? They pulled the black book out. I know this? They held it there, waiting. Yeah, I know that. They put the book back into the bag. Actually, I’m confused. They pulled the black book out again. Do you know this? He was smiling. They put it back. I know I don’t know it. They pulled it out. He nodded. They put it right back. He was nodding. Do you know it or not? They pulled out that heavy book once more. They put it back. I don’t think I know it.
Spent Treasure Maps
I was on my way anyway, two steps away from the metal detectors, but the man walked out of my head, turned around, and went back out. There was unfinished business.
A woman drove up in a taxi. Then, there was no airport. The stars came up over the mountain. And then, there was a city. Familiar inroads led to personal routines. They were tangents in association thanks to rhyming scales and corroborating details — a thought-invoked grid of apartment blocks. Like before, the man was sitting in for me, doing his best.
While all that was happening, I was alone in the actual airplane, going over this fantasy, and all I had time for was some more mental tinkering. “Reflecting on a life left behind is a cold rock. Wake up.” Wake up because now. Now I can focus on the last step in the business of moving.
A battery of thin clouds stretch across a colonnade of such clouds, together building a net. And we’re flying over them. The clouds dissect the city below us in an analysis no one can put back together. How many times have I flown over this city? I don’t know how many. How many times away from it? Once.
All my treasures yet to reveal themselves remain buried. Today. All friends have become points of navigation. Their gestures and words take positions in the proper modes I give my recollections. No longer a part of my life, every priceless face is now a cause or effect for that epic I once thought of as a work-in-progress until it received its unsatisfactory ending.
Without clue or signpost for what is yet to come, while stripping past exploits of personal value, I’ll be shaking it over a fireplace, someday, until the dust of residual images crackle into the flames. What doesn’t fall in will still be mine.
Like it never happened. Starting all over again somewhere else. And regretting every bit of this decision. But if you look at me when you pick me up at Arrivals — just look at me — you’ll read almost one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five days of suspended wishes on a desolated surface.