Home is a waterfall of lip glosses and a keychain with too many keys, half-eaten chocolate bars, and small scraps of paper with notes on them that I can no longer read—the handwriting is faded to scratches. Salt, Tabasco, and cans of Diet Coke that look like the bullets of silver-backed pounders I used to destroy from the bodega across the street from where I lived when I was twenty-eight. It was there that I once bought a pack of Kools and four Genny Creams with the change I collected from cracks in my apartment: a home like a wishing-well.
During the time I lived in the well, I had lost all my lighters and would light the menthols from the coil inside my toaster, face hovering above the lava pit. One time I singed my bangs on the hot wire and laughed so loud as I ran to the bathroom. I still managed to smoke the cigarette as I patted down my hair with damp toilet paper. Looking at my cat, orange like a terror alert, I said, “good shit, dude,” and he watched while I drank the malt liquor from a coffee mug with a smug poodle on it as we both sat by the toilet.
For the brief time that I smoked Kools and lived across from the bodega and set my hair on fire, it felt like any spoken wish would be granted from the deities inside my home. And maybe that’s because my wishes were modest and gods are favorable to the meek—it’s a trait I’ve never grown out of. At least now I know how to appease apartment idols.
Since then, every home has been a bog where non-red water is a scarce commodity and I’ve learned to pray to the spirits for sustenance that’s like food in order to stop up the hole where my fretfulness flows like a stream.
I’ve learned that offerings can be other human bodies sweating into ashen mattresses. When they wake in the morning I ask, “Do you know what train you need to catch?” And as their bodies retreat, gentle tides lap somewhere around my sternum. My body becomes a sacred place in carrot-top-colored dawns where springs run through me. There are coins on the carpet from clumsily taken off pants and shirts from pockets stuffed with rattling.
Home is a graveyard of plastic bottles by the bed, single-ride subway passes, the silver tinsel from inside boxes of cigarettes—no longer menthol, and tumbleweeds of peach hair from revolving armies of beloved marbled tabby cats. Hair ties, earring backings, and wine glasses half-filled with liquid tinted red from blending water with the candy coating of wine-crust at the bottom. After god-gifts are delivered, I drink the water from the wine glass, the sacrament of the devoted, and trust that the pennies hidden in the carpet are presents from the gods for the future.
Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit. She was a genre editor at Lunch Ticket, as well as a contributing writer at SSG music. She received her BA and M.Ed from Arcadia University, her MFA from Antioch University, and attended Goldsmiths: the University of London and Sarah Lawrence College. When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website www.youlifeisnotsogreat.com. Her chapbooks of flash/prose-poems, Tiny Thoughts for Tiny Feelings and Unicorn Tracheotomy, were published by BA Press, 2002. Her collection of flash prose, Better Bones, is forthcoming from Thirty West Publishing House, summer 2019. She occasionally drinks wine out of a mug that has a smug poodle on it; she believes that the poodle is the reincarnated spirit of the television show Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.