By Jeeni Criscenzo
Spinning a web,
a wisp, a hair, a thread,
flings from her matted head
nauseous with terror,
I watch helplessly
as her skin
slides along that sliver that binds us.
Grey, revolting flesh
slips over my face,
putrid past my nose,
choking at my throat,
tight on my torso,
my vagina, buttocks and thighs,
slivering down my legs,
encasing my toes like a gross pantyhose.
That’s when I know
I have become her.
And when I am looking through her eyes,
I do not feel like that wretched creature,
I was seeing
when I was outside her.
I feel like someone who was once someone,
who has memories,
of a time before I was no one,
a time when I belonged somewhere,
before I became lost,
spinning in this nowhere.
I cannot make sense of it,
looking through her eyes,
bewildered that I am nothing,
with no place to go,
nowhere I can even be
where I can do human things:
take a crap or piss,
even just sit.
God damn, I just want somewhere where I can fucking sit!
where the spinning stops
Somewhere that I can stop
Somewhere I can not be homeless.
But you can only be somewhere
if you have someplace to live.
You can only be someone
if you have someplace to be,
somewhere where you can
not be always bone weary,
and terrified of falling asleep,
of being defenseless,
knowing full well there is no safety in slumber,
being completely vulnerable,
when nightmares are all too real,
raped, assaulted, robbed and beaten…
The cruel even steal that escape of dreaming,
of leaving this nightmare, however briefly,
for somewhere where I can
turn on the faucet and get a drink of clean water,
cool, clean water,
just a turn of the knob to the left
and it runs warm,
so I can wash my hands,
splash it on my face,
even slip into a whole tub of it and soak,
with lavender oil floating on the top.
Squeeze creamy shampoo onto my hair,
and work up a lather,
submerge my head slowly into that liquid warm
with no one watching me,
no one pounding on the door of the McDonalds restroom,
where I only need a little more time to take a crap,
and brush my teeth,
because I paid for my cup of coffee,
and the right to be here.
I wait for the weariness to become so overpowering,
that I can no longer fight sleep,
and against all caution,
I must succumb to that brief pause,
before passersbys kick and prod and piss on me.
If the gods are merciful,
there will be time to dream,
that I have locked a door,
pulled shut white curtains with lace edges,
pulled clean sheets and blankets around me,
pulled my naked body close to my lover,
before the sprinklers turn on,
and the garbage trucks roar past,
and my shoulders screech with the bruising
of concrete that crawled through the cardboard.
And then the door I could not lock from the outside,
and when she steps over me
I can smell her rosewater ankles and new, leather high heels.
Her tin voice whines into her cell phone,
“Oh crap, there’s a homeless on my doorstep!”
The spinning begins anew,
a hair, a wisp, a thread,
flings from my matted head…
And she is only a misstep,
a tragedy away.
Jeeni Crisenzo performs Vertigo, accompanied by Brandon Cesmat. Video by Rex Butters