• TISH BURNS

The cancer of the world

In the summer of 2008 I met a woman I'll call Kyra (some names will be changed to protect the guilty). She was a wild drunk from New Jersey who made no bones about it, her agenda was to get fucked up all the time. She had a constant companion named Aiden. They literally tumbled into the shit hole bar I was wenching at in the East Village one night and ordered pint glasses of vodka drinks. Kyra was smart and funny and irreverent and I loved her instantly. She was one of those 'house on fire' kind of friends, we took to each other and would've gleefully burned down the city from Chelsea to the Lower East Side and then out into Bushwick and Bed-stuy. You would've known us by the trail of...pizza slices thrown out windows and veal cheeks tossed across restaurants. It was more of that feeling good reveling in my lower self, my lowest self though I would never want to say Kyra was a lower companion. I truly loved and admired her in an ardent and instinctive way. She was one of my tribe. She was Polish and Greek and said things like "That means I'm stupid and I like it in the ass!" in a raunchy sorta Jersey drawl if there is such a thing as a Jersey drawl. I mean she always sounded drunk because she was always insanely drunk. Even at the gym.

Aiden seemed like an appendage, he didn't make much of an impression on me. I thought he was her boyfriend but it was both simpler and more complicated than that. She owned him. He was in love with her. They fucked. But he was not her boyfriend. I found out one night when I took a cab with him from a bar she was worked at and was robbing of all their vodka and money right before it went out of business. Somehow we started hooking up in the back of the cab, Aiden and I, and the driver was banging on the partition saying, "Hey! You can't do that! It's too early for that!" It was like 8 o'clock on probably a Tuesday. We got to his apartment in Chelsea and fucked. I felt a little weird about it but he was like, 'Kyra is not going to care. She'll probably just be mad I fucked you first.' Oh. She arrived a little while later with like a blonde cheerleader she worked with.

I think Aiden's mother owned the building he lived in and his brother lived next door. His brother hated Kyra. When she and her cheerleader friend arrived they brought with them all the stolen money and booze as well as some blow. It was on. The cheerleader started doing a cheer, stomping and clapping. Kyra and I went to the stairwell to sidebar and decided Aiden was paying too much attention to the cheerleader and we needed to get rid of her. Aiden's brother kept calling and texting all through the night as the noises got louder as we got more fucked up as the cheering was intensifying as the pizza went flying down to the sidewalk. At one point he texted Kyra, 'STOP BEING THE CANCER OF THE WORLD.' We could not stop laughing. So that's where I stole that delicious morsel of an insult. And I mean cancer is hilarious, right?

Here's the segue. I'm having that post-separation thing where everyone is called Rob and cancer keeps coming up, particularly in the currency of my spirit: literature. Every poem on the Paris Review feed, the Poets.org feed, the ones I just happen to come across next in a best of 2014 anthology are all about cancer or death. Before I started to write this I was reading 'There There' by Tommy Orange and thinking in the side of my head about cancer when one of the character's said, "I have cancer." I even went to a meeting tonight and someone shared about her dad has cancer and it's not looking good for him...

I intended for this to be a counterpoint to my previous posts because I feel bad about raking my now ex-boyfriend over the coals because he has cancer. What's the counterpoint though? Being terminally ill is not a dispensation from being responsible with other people's hearts. But in my more generous moments I consider what a mindfuck it must be to have to confront your own mortality at the age of me, 44 or 43. It still hurts so bad that I had to break up with him, my heart is totally broken and I don't fully understand why like the tremendous love I feel for him isn't enough. Why the amazing sex we had wasn't enough. I mean he made me feel scooped out clean and refilled with sparkling golden helium and pink champagne. I was high like we invented love and I dare anyone to do it better. I dared him and he said it wasn't possible. But I guess a man will say almost anything after you fuck with the raw desperation of the dying and maybe every time is the last time and you wipe your tears off on his cheeks. He might say let's get matching stick and poke tattoos that we give each other. It was that kind of perfect little thing that killed me and made me fall ever more in love with him. So dumb. So Gay! I think he's trying to turn what's left of his life into performance art. I think he wants to leave something behind. I think I lost him when Brody Stevens died. He told me I wasn't just a character in his show but I feel like I was now, the temporary love interest, the girlfriend who got too deep and had to be cut out. I don't know what was real and what, I mean half the time all the time I think every single feeling I experience is manufactured by my hormones. Oxytocin and estrogen and God knows what other bullshit is driving me insane.

Right now it's like this: grief/relief/grief/relief/griefgriefgrief. Relief.

If he asked me what I wanted from him now I'd say ask your God. I'd say go to a meeting every day, get with a good sponsor, do all the steps. Everything else will work out. Give yourself the grace of a happy death like the Virgin Mary in the fourth decade of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

As for me right now, I'm going to pray on my knees and sleep. But first a smoke!

<3

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CatchyFish

I wish I could write this better. I don't have any unholy inspiration today. I don't have a dirty story from the past to compare and contrast with today's fucking bad sad state of affairs. I can't wea

© Whenever. You're going to steal stuff from here? Christ.