Unicorny

Siem Reap airport selfieI’ve been writing again lately,  reviewing my last November’s 50,000 words of NaNoWriMo craziness and the notes and assignments from my Queer Goldmine class and then developing stories—here’s one—by merging some of that with freewrites I’m generating at a breakneck pace for 90 minutes three times a month in the Write Like a Unicorn class I started last month. (I’ll let Minal explain about the unicorns.)

We get great writing prompts, everything from channeling your mother to dressing the dead body of the person you love most. That one was tough, but I did it. I’m not sharing it. Not today, anyhow. That was followed by a prompt where we had to give a gift to our nemesis, and give it sincerely. I don’t have enemies—really, I don’t—but I thought of someone who has caused a lot of harm in the world and wrote about him:

A Gift

I can’t believe he agreed to see me. As the cab drops me at the gate to the ranch, he is coming down the garden path to greet me, and it’s just as I imagined. He is a likeable, sweet man. He extends his right hand to me, plants his left on my shoulder. He looks me right in the eye when he says, “Hello. I’m George. Welcome.”

We walk into the ranch house and he offers me a seat on the long sofa and Laura comes in with two big glasses of lemonade and sets them down on the coffee table and introduces herself to me. They really do seem nice.

“George, why don’t you show David some of your paintings?” she says.

“Oh, that reminds me,” I say. “I got something for you.”

I pull the small package from my bag, loosely wrapped in tissue paper from the store, and hand it to him.

“Thank you. You shouldn’t have.”

“It’s just a little something…”

It is a set of paintbrushes. I heard that he loves painting in his retirement, and I’ve seen some of the paintings online. They aren’t very good. But there is something about them that I like. And mostly I like how into it he is. He really should have been a painter all those years.

He is touched.

“That’s really nice. Thank you,” he says. He stands there quietly looking down at the new paintbrushes in his hand. He swirls them around on his palm, as if testing how he’ll use them. “That’s real nice.”

He looks up. His eyes are moist, like he has remembered something sad and is about to cry. I feel like crying too. I feel like giving the man a hug.

George W Bush in the shower painting

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First Take

Roberta Flack: First TakeBECAUSE IT’S MY FAVORITE chakra, I’ll post another piece I did focusing on the heart, this one based on an exercise called “Waking up clichés.” We were encouraged to take worn-out, heart-based turns of phrase—I immediately thought, 1970s love songs! Perfect!—and transform them into something fresh and new. Running with the Roberta Flack reference in the writing I’d just done, I chose to transform another of her songs in this reworking of an old story, parts of which I’ve told before.

First Take

Even from this distance, a half-block away, Rick could tell—Jesse in person was more gorgeous than in the photo he’d sent. In the photo, his face was half-hidden by a pulled-down baseball cap, posing, showing off the pecs and abs and narrow waist, nicely ripped but merely hinting at handsome. As they came within striking distance, Rick saw, he felt, as Jesse’s whole face erupted with a kind of childlike openness, what Patti Smith would call such naked joy, unusually wide-smiled beaming. Rick regarded the sexy scruff of a beard, the beauty mark on Jesse’s jaw. And those dark brown eyes unafraid—they held a glimpse of something, something deep; they told a story as ancient as the heavens, the formation of the planets, their moons, the sun and the stars, a story at once brilliant and dark, Jesse’s eyes profoundly happy and giving, and at the same time reflecting some of the gravity of sadness that is life. All this in an instant.

They embraced at once and exchanged a kiss, a polite kiss. They separated just enough, still hugging, to take another good stare at each other and smile. Jesse smelled faintly of tangerines and tobacco. They came back together, mouths open just enough for a proper kiss equal parts Jesse and Rick, lips and tongues licking teeth, tasting mint, slurping and sucking spit. Rick’s right hand moved automatically like it knew what it was doing up to the back of Jesse’s buzzed head, caressing the stubble, knocking his hat off kilter; and Jesse, too, pulling Rick closer, as if closer were even possible, boots up against sneakers, almost tripping, these two guys making out like teenagers on the sidewalk outside the Galleria Park Hotel at dusk on a Saturday night, the stores closed and the street pretty quiet, but still…

Jesse shuddered. Rick felt it. He held Jesse tighter, kept on kissing. It felt like the boy was on the verge of coming right there, standing, fully clothed, all this from a kiss, their first kiss, a damned good kiss. Jesse laughed into Rick’s mouth. He shook again, trembling tremors. Sensitive boy. Not three minutes past meeting and Rick felt protective of this sweet little guy, as if Jesse could collapse right there on the sidewalk if he weren’t there to prop him up. He reached a hand under Jesse’s sweater, first touch of the skin electric-warm as toast. He laid his hand lightly over Jesse’s heart, held it still, and all went quiet. He felt the heart beating, barely, felt his ribs, Rick’s fingers slotting into the spaces between, massaging, fingertips sliding outward, away from the heart, Jesse’s chest rising and falling. Rick found a hard nipple and gently squeezed. Jesse let out a little moan. Rick ate it up.

“You like that,” Rick said, not quite a question, his other hand moving down, slipping into the gap at the back of Jesse’s stiff, brand new-feeling blue jeans, resting there steady and flat on his sacrum. In that moment, Rick felt his own power, felt he could control this guy if he wanted to, send him soaring into the stratosphere and back, make him come right now, at his command, pressing buttons by kissing and moving his fingers just right.

* * *

“Fuck, papi, that was good,” Jesse said. He smiled. He and Rick lay naked on the big white hotel-room bed, spent. Yeah, it had been more than good. Rick had never fucked without a condom before. This was new. And he was fine with the decision, if you could even call it that, however unconscious and far from rational thought it had been. He had always strictly followed the safe sex mantra to use a condom every time, assuming every partner could be infected. He was tired of it all, tired of the loss and the fear and the barriers, the literal barriers between himself and his lovers. Rick had never felt so close, so trusting with a guy he’d just met. There was something about Jesse he couldn’t quite explain. It just felt right.

“We should use condoms, don’t you think?” Jesse had asked not a half-hour before.

“Yeah, of course,” Rick replied. “It’s not like we don’t both have sex with other guys.”

But when it came right down to it, it would have felt so wrong to stop, to tear open the packet, to do all of that… It would have broken the spell, Rick felt, interrupting the flow of the most intimate, knowing choreography of their sex. It would have introduced the buzz kill of death. It would have broken the fragile bond of trust already forming between him and Jesse, childlike in their ecstatic relief at having found each other, two lost souls wandering the barren wasteland of Craigslist looking for real connection and now celebrating their extreme good fortune, kissing the whole time fucking, eyes wide open and searching and smiling, breaking every gay-sex stereotype, their eyes wet and overflowing at the happiness that swelled within their bodies, over them, filling the room, the hotel, the whole of downtown, over the bridges, throughout the Bay Area, and into the dark, unknowable universe beyond.

Rick knew in that moment, Jesse’s body entwined with his own, heart pressed against heart, that he had found something, a satisfied peace previously unknown to him, a comfort in feeling accepted and sexy and lovable. He had been searching his whole life for this and wanted nothing more than to abide in the warm spaciousness of it forever.

He hoped, he sensed, that Jesse felt it, too, Jesse who was asleep beside him now. Rick was dead tired but couldn’t stop looking at Jesse, his smooth, taut body at once strong and vulnerable and small, sweaty, sticky salted-caramel skin and tan lines, sexy as fuck, eyes gently closed and the hint of a smile still on his face, his face, his beautiful face.

* * *

This was based on the beautiful, cliché-ridden song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” made famous by Roberta Flack, recorded in 1969 and released as a single after appearing in Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me (1971). It went on to become the #1 song of 1972 and is still the song most likely to make me cry

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the end of the sky

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hands
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time, my love

The first time ever I saw your face
Your face, your face, your face

 

Open your heart

Dave X Robb undressing, Salt Point THIS WEEK MARKS THE END of my Writing from the Chakras class, and I’m going to miss it. I’ll especially miss the community of talented and giving fellow writers who have shared so generously the gifts of their own writing and the insightful feedback and encouragement they’ve given to me. And, tough as it’s been at times, both in terms of the time crunch of deadlines and the emotions stirred up by going deep, I will miss the structure that has held me these last 8 weeks.

I’ve not been able to keep up with posting on here weekly during the class, but I’ll still write a post sharing some of what I learned in each week. Today’s is about the Heart Chakra. If you know me at all, you can guess this was a big one.

One of my favorite parts of this class has been the meditations that go along with each chakra, where we are guided through visualizations and encouraged to reach deep within—in this case, to the heart—and then immediately after to freewrite, putting to the page whatever comes up, no stopping to think, to edit, to censor, to fix; just writing freely. It’s like writing in a trance.

As with the poetry I was writing a couple months back, I don’t know quite how these read to anyone who hasn’t gone through the same process with me; but I do know this kind of writing feels very freeing and will inform my writing in all its forms. Here you go, friends:

Madonna: Open Your HeartA Heart Chakra messy post-meditation freewrite

I feel such calm and knowing, here in this pure land of green and water. I love that I have come here alone, walked slowly on my own toward this destination of complete, blissful, tranquil abiding. I needed no map, no guide, simply trusting the echoes of my lifetime of accumulated wisdom and guidance.

I have journeyed in the bright white, warm sun, the sky and sea to my left both the same shade of bright blue, the faintest of breeze, not a soul in sight. I shed my burdens, my physical burdens, my cell phone, my wallet, my watch, my money, my keys, my belt, my shoelaces, my hat, my sunglasses, my shirt, my shoes and socks, my jeans, my briefs, my sunscreen, my moisturizer, my deodorant, my toothbrush, my dental floss, my soap and shampoo, my body scrub, my pumice stone, my nail clippers, my razor, my hair, my beard, my skin; I shed it all, leaving behind me a trail of my self.

And I have never felt so free.

Where am I going? Why? Am I escaping something, a leaving-behind; or is this a going-to, an arrival?

It is an arrival. Arrivals on the lower level, bypassing the baggage claim, I walk from the smoky, hazy, air-polluted interior through the automatic doors to the outdoors and find myself suddenly in a green forest, naked, then on a wide-open expanse of clifftop, the ocean over there, the waves crashing far below; I can barely hear them over the sound of my heart. The path takes me down gradually to sea level, to a sandy spot on the shore, and I collapse onto my knees, my hands and knees, lowering my face, then my whole body, to the warm sand. I fall asleep, the sun on my back equally warm, maybe a little warmer. It feels so nice.

I lie still and feel my heart pumping, the silverware-falling-from-the-sky-far-far-away sound in my ears—I’ve been told that’s the sound of the blood pulsing through—I sleep and I dream of this place, the same place, my dream of the dream of the land I come to inhabit when my mind takes a break from tormenting me and my heart opens up to the hope and the joy of the knowing I am safe and alone. I am happy. I have no fear, no ties, no possessions, no worries, only this joy and freedom and a heart bursting with love, so full it hurts me sometimes. It craves an outlet.

Salt PointI turn over, the sand stuck to me, the sunlight shining bright orange through my eyelids, burning, killing me softly, and I smile at the thought of you, my love, the blood still pumping, gathering and regrouping without my knowledge, without my having to do anything, without using hands, my cock stirring and growing, grains of sand falling off, whole cities, whole worlds erected in a grain of sand, I stretch and twist my body, I arch my back, I dig in my heels, molding a shape in the earth opposite that of my body, a container custom-made, a mold I fit in, I need nothing more than this, ever. I will never eat again. I will breathe, I will sweat, I might laugh or cry if I feel like it, and my heart will keep beating. I will bake tan, I will sleep, I will wake. I will shiver when night falls, wishing for a cover, a blanket or a warm body, your warm body beside me.

I turn back onto my stomach, I grind a new shape, I shiver, still alone, I awake in my bed not knowing the time or day or where the fuck I am, the memory fading as I piece things together, but still not knowing if I am alive or dead or sleeping.

Chakra sonnet

All of us still mere children and dumb
No way to release any of that pent-up spunk and energy
All at once joined perfectly and exploding with bright light and tears
I stay awake, big spoon, caretaker, watching your ribcage rise and fall
I knew, when I quieted enough to listen, really listen, to what my body whispered
Hold me steady, keeping me from falling or freezing or from punching someone in the face
The silverware-falling-from-the-sky-far-far-away sound in my ears
I get so tired of all the honesty

Addicted to affirmation, to performance, to love and good-looking boyfriends
I looked out the window, but there was nothing but black
Warmth enveloped me, holding my body like a lover, like a mother, like a child
Cradling each other’s vulnerable hearts, a lifetime’s worth of serenity in a single moment
Rebirth, the gift of another breath, another chance, a shot at starting over
I see and I understand because I have been there, too

Dave X Robb and Mona

No Secrets

Carly Simon: No Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get so tired of all the honesty.
Shut up, will you? Kiss me.
Wouldn’t a fight feel good right now?

I’m always hurting someone. I’m always sorry.
Pet your cat. Eat your breakfast cereal. Sail through life.
I feel the loss before I’m even out the door.
I drop my key through the mail slot.
The words I wish I could take back, the intentional hurt, the beating, the slap in the face, the punch in the gut, the gunshot through the heart.
I miss you.

One more, sure. One more drink. One more make-out session. One more condom wrapper torn open with your teeth. Fuck it.
No umbrella, no raincoat, no car, no cab fare home.
I’ll wear the same clothes to work tomorrow. No one will notice.
I’ll sleep under my desk. I’ll shower at the gym. I’ll get breakfast at Starbucks.
Beer breath, saliva thick, sucking my dick, sweating, humid, sticky, summer, mosquitoes in the room, blood stain on the sheet where you smacked one dead, the buzz of a neon sign, the tick of a loud clock, unfamiliar sounds.

When you close your eyes, I get to stare.
You open your eyes, you catch me staring.
You smile.

You sexy thing

Where You From You Sexy ThingWEEK 2 OF THE Writing from the Chakras workshop is over, and it was another good one. I am sure it will come as a real shock to most of you, but I do love writing about sex. The second chakra, Swadhisthana, is about sex, yes, but more than that. Of course, sex is never just sex, anyway (if it’s any good).

(This reminds me of a dumb question on okcupid.com: Do you enjoy meaningless sex? I mean, if you’re enjoying sex, it’s not really meaningless, is it?)

This is the chakra where intensity, vulnerability, intimacy, and motivation reside. As happened with last week’s Root chakra exploration, I felt myself tapping into a whole new energy in my writing after meditating on the Sexy chakra, freewriting—that is, writing non-stop, without editing, without going back—in waves that kept, uh, coming…kind of like good sex. Yeah.

Oh sorry, where was I?

As you may know, I’ve been experimenting with writing sexy fiction for some time now. Writing about sex really is like sex in so many ways, and I don’t just mean the imaginary boyfriends thing. In writing, as in real life, if there’s no emotion involved, no intimate connection, no vulnerability, no identification with the characters having sex, then it’s really no good. It’s just bad porn.

Dave X Robb fictionThis week, I found myself going deeper, exploring my characters’ motivations and fears, their miscommunications and words unspoken, ambivalence, love, fear, connecting and not connecting…all those things that make life so complex and difficult and wonderful and sexy at times.

And I think the writing is getting better, maybe. If you’re an adult and you don’t mind reading about gay people having sex, you’re welcome to check out a new sample here. I’d love to hear your feedback.

And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey…

Dave X Robb laughing in Las VegasI’VE JUST POSTED a new short story called “Love the One You’re With.” I know, I stole the title from Stephen Stills. A good song, but it didn’t inspire the story; the title just seemed to fit. As with my last story, this one was based loosely on my real-life adventures. I wouldn’t try too hard to figure out what really happened or who’s who. Just enjoy. If you can.

I got some great feedback from the first story I posted, and I can’t tell you how gratifying it felt to hear back from some of you. Thanks. And I’m sorry if I made you cry. Not really. I think it’s pretty awesome.

This one doesn’t require quite as strong a warning — there’s talk of sex, but there’s no sex scene. Some of you will probably be relieved by that, others disappointed. You can’t please everyone all the time.

Here’s the story.