Dear Dirty America

DDA

Lifetimes of Recurring Torture

April 08
13:30 2012
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
Los Angeles

Painting by Albert Baron von Oppenheid, 1918

“I’ve been having a recurring…” the plump lady said
to an awfully thin female friend.
Her words silk swatches stuck in the throats of
strangers who sat and sipped coffees
at other outside metal tables. Somebody coughed.

What? Recurring — dream, nightmare, vision, symptoms
of the plague? None of those, the lady in
the yellow tainted sunflower dress
finished her thought with a dulled finale:
Injury. “I keep pulling my shoulder.”
God damn, everybody thought at once,
people don’t know how to tell a good story.


“My man friend…” the lady said to her
frightfully big-beaked companion, “doesn’t want to commit.”
Oh, it hurts. Oh God. “That plus the shoulder.”
Her sloppy dress, the color of
genetically modified corn, was fashionably
interwoven with mixed fiber strands.
Why couldn’t she, and he, be friends?

The frail friend didn’t miss a beat:
“You’re torturing yourself. You are, you are.”
Both women at odds with the look of wild
predatory animals stripped bare and cornered.
Their calm faces returned. The heavy metal table
said nothing. It had seen this scene before.

The young man with his set of dentist’d whites
smiled, and from behind reflective sunglasses
read a thin paperback at the next table.
He drove sewing needles into the flesh
beneath her undone fingernails. At first,
the needles resisted, but then slipped deep
under nail and over bone.

His image of inflicted agony was preserved
from way, way back in those violent days,
established deep within from other lifetimes far more primal
than what he waded through this time round,
back when the flashy youth didn’t have a mouthful of
straight whites, but instead, a rather brown-stained, crooked
company of chipped weathered stones.

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