GUM + WINE

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A CREATIVE WRITING COLLECTION BY
LEO MARTINEZ

TABLE OF CONTENTS

i. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ii. FORWARD I – AYA KAMATA
iii. FORWARD II – JOEL WISE

1. MELT WITH YOU
2. GUM + WINE
3. WHILE WE ALL TALK ABOUT YOU
4. THE MEANING OF DISTANCE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This will be brief and quick; I’d like to thank the following for inspiring, blundering, and challenging my creativity, my dreams, my urban activities, and overall, my being through unforgettable memories, friendship, conversations, brief encounters, and for allowing my existence to be covered of me without asking me to change, I have these needs from y’all.  In no particular ranking,



         If I’ve missed anyone it’s not due to intention of offense or in defense, it’s due to purpose of text effects on the font.  The names mentioned above are reminders and roles of beings that have began and ended memories with me from late spring and summer. The blankness and strikethrough of font is a representation of how memories with people can be blurred and sometimes forgotten, they’re still in my head and some are not as present in my reality, but effective in some way or another, in or around my life.

FORWARD I

     When cruising for months, density of time is close to nonexistence. What day is it today? I ask again; housemates laugh in slight shock – again. Not having a 9-5/weekday job is somewhat responsible for this, if not my obliviousness. Although I currently work full-time, my schedule is absolutely random. I may or may not work on Fridays and weekends. Could be starting from six in the morning or could be from two in the afternoon. You only need to know about tomorrow, and eventually led to losing tracks of time.

Coming home from work one day, the house is abandoned with a table full of empty beer bottles and cans. Look aside and you see cheap whiskies, cokes and shot glasses on the kitchen counter. Alright, there was a party. Waking up the next day and getting ready for work, the place is awfully quiet. Everything remains exactly the same from last night except morning rays from windows dim the room in mystic blue. It resembles to college dorm on a Saturday morning… Then there’s a light bulb moment. That was a Friday night last night. As I walk to the station clean and sober, I say good morning to countless vomits on streets and wasted people sleeping on platforms, which reassured me that it was indeed a Friday night.

For several reasons I feel this way, but the moment gives me the strongest sensation that I’m cut out from the majority of society and their time flow. For me, it’s comforting not to be part of what I don’t believe in. I feel great and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, rewind to the beginning. For better or worse, I don’t have density of time, currently. Monday’s maybe not blue, but Friday isn’t ecstatic either. Time has become linear with occasional intervals called “days off”. Some may call it dull. So I was caught by surprise in nostalgia when time became full-bodied again pleasantly for a moment in the taste of GUM AND WINE.

– AYA KAMATA

 

 FORWARD II

         I have hardly read a goddamn thing the past couple years. Not a book, or anything beyond just random texts or Wikipedia articles. That’s a pretty embarrassing thing to admit. “So what the hell are you doing writing a forward for someone’s creative writing collection?” you might ask. Because a friend asked me too, that’s why. In recent time, I have come to realize that while I have many unfinished works I myself have created, and am proud of, a lot of them remain just that, unfinished. Leo and me have created a lot of things together over the years, mostly musical. And those times made me feel the most alive I had ever felt. I saw it, and he saw it too. When we put our minds together, it was almost alchemy. I felt many times however, that I was holding myself back. While he was concocting things on a guitar, or with a pen and paper, and finishing them, I was the one in the background with many great ideas, but moving at a snail’s pace. Maybe they were just the ideas of a post-adolescent mind, too big for the two of us to complete at that time. But we DID make SOME things along the way. Things that gave us both great reassurance, that what we were making, was something much greater than the sum of our parts. I think that’s why we’ve been friends for so long. We always, ALWAYS, talk about to this day, about picking up where we left off. We never actually do, but we talk about it. All the while, we continue with new ventures and execute a few ideas here and there. “So, what the fuck are you getting at?” you may ask. I’ll tell ya then. Here, is a completed work, by a person who has completed many things that are like this, and beyond that, and has nothing left to prove to the world other than the fact he can still CREATE, and will continue to do so. I flipped through this, and I’ll tell ya, it’s some personal shit. But it is something folks can relate to, or at least can imagine happening. And that’s what it’s all about. If you are reading this, you are taking a small slice of a person you may or may not care about. And, when you read on, you will take in a somewhat larger slice of a person you know you really do care about. Either way, Read on, and enjoy.


-JOEL WISE

 

INTRODUCTION

    Here’s a situation again, you may or may not be reading this, but if you get past the period I am about to place at the end of this sentence then I congratulate you. I am currently on an Amtrak bus crossing the bay bridge ready to arrive in San Francisco my goal is to finish this introduction before I reach my destination. I may or may not be successful.  But what I have been successful at is completing this collection, GUM + WINE.  What exactly does this mean?  Well, first it means that I have been late in releasing this collection when I said I would.  Secondly, what does the title mean?  Very simple, the gum represents the sweet and fresh, the infinity of compression that comes to an end, we’ve all been there, we chew and chew and chew and chew until it’s no longer sweet or comprehensible, and it’s spat out.  The wine represents bitter fermentation and acts as a social lubricant that often is an impairment of judgments that may or may not make sense.  The title of course is open to interpretation and acts as a metaphor throughout this mini collection.  Thirdly, how does this title relate to this collection of writings? When one combines gum and wine in one’s tongue, it tastes bittersweet, we swallow and chew until there’s nothing left or until there’s another glass of wine or another flavor of gum, returning to a familiar bittersweet familiarity.  Take it how you will, I take it as one of many nonsense excuses to produce creative writing, story of my life.  The bus has arrived so I am afraid I have to leave this introduction so that I am able to be successful in what I’d said I’d accomplish earlier.  As a side note all information that’s sensitive to anyone’s privacy has been omitted out of respect.

From San Francisco with imperfection,
– L.A.M. III

 

1. MELT WITH YOU

In the mission[1]
a bar was the scene.
With two close friends
a game of pool,
one of us laughs
I am not a participant,
someone wins.
Our tongues coated
from whiskey and beer,
two hours ago, now past
midnight.  Last call.

Summer feels late this year and
predictable now
like every other day,
what’s missing?
I am not sure.
I’ll have to get back
to myself on that.

“You said that the 2nd and 3rd time.” something she said long ago.

“I know, I know. I was younger then.” something familiar I’d say.

(Still, what’s new?)

After all of these years
my persistence seems familiar
to her and I.
It bothers me at times.

My refrain broke through
one night during
a soundtrack of crowded youth
sometime weeks ago at a birthday
party.[2]

“We should try again.” I suggested.

“I don’t know, you’re trouble.” she said.

In flirtatious sarcastic tones back and forward
and the night was illuminated and made
our profiles silhouettes while lights of
the backyards of homes guided our speech.
Her friend almost part of our story,
stood in the mix of behaviors too full to talk about, I should
take her friend seriously, I thought
but I am too focused on something else.

Sometimes I notice things that
are missing.

“What’s your number?” I ask.

“I just gave it to you.” she insisted.

“You did? No you didn’t.” I replied, puzzled.

“Check your phone, you just put it in your phone.” In a reassuring tone

“You’re right.” I confirmed stupidly.

(She has been for a while now and I know I’ve been wrong all along.)

My attention is sleeping.
What a fool.
I think I’ll ask her for a kiss, she replies with one.
And she wasn’t kissing me that night
because she loved me.
I asked her first.
I took that risk.
Nice words are exchanged
after such a long time.
Last time she had the last
word, the last sentence.
I walked off ashamed of
what I’d done. But that’s
the past, isn’t that what
I’m suppose to say in this
situation?  I am not sure.

It must have been my
brave and constant
drunken text messaging,
my method of persistence
or the timing of the stars
granting me a tie to her.
I told her that should I stop
over analyzing my thoughts,
she thinks she does too.

“It’s good sometimes, I think” she says.

After the last call[3]
was announced,
I was lured to a text
of hers. Surprised by
her late reply from
a text I’d sent out days ago
that read a gang of
embarrassing nonsense,
I mean who’s not going
accept an offering of
making dinner?
Still, the repetitive
elated language
is idiotic.
But we kind of like
each other
or at least that’s
what I keep telling myself.

The invitation was cordial,
without judgment of my condition,
open for decision and genuine.
Not lustful.
A simple and effective:
“Come over now?” she texted.

Over all of the constant
questions I proposed that made my
excitement feel stupid.

I say something senseless like:

“I can come over now, you want me to?”
(Of course she does you fucking idiot, she just said so, clearly.)

“Would you?” she replies.

“Yes” I quickly answer.

“No sex. But cuddling” she says.

“I am up for that, I don’t want sex” I reply.
This is what I do,
I know my way;
I’d been looking for a secret.
We could use our warmth.
Around 3 a.m.
I’ve made myself sober now.
Who said I was ever drunk?
The walk was pleasant
hasting to a quick arrival.
I was greeted with a hug
in a not awkward, but endearing
weird, and reoccurring comfort.
Briefly meeting her roommates,
I made sure to keep my composure.
Smile, ask unnecessary questions,
and make sure to say
“Goodnight, sleep well.”

First we talked, I asked most of the questions,
we kissed between every other word, hugged any time I felt it needed,
shared our pasts about how felt before I ruined us twice, we were honest.

“We would have been married by now.” she said.

“Really?” I ask.

“Yes.” she assured me.

(I don’t believe her.)

Every once in awhile we bring up the strange
phenomenon of running into each other through
out the years we’ve known each other.  In different cities,
at parties, at shows, at bars, knowing the same people
in those “creative crowds”.

It’s just life
when we sat across
each other in her loft,
she asked me why
I was fond of her after
all of these years,
I simply said:

“When I saw you that night at the party a few weeks ago, I didn’t know you’d be there, although, I like surprises. I saw you again, and simply melted, you made my heart melt. I wanted to melt with you.”

She kissed me. Said something nice.  We laughed and confessed to each other, admitted my errors, she admitted her vulnerabilities.  I accepted them. We fell asleep and since then things about us will never be the same.  I don’t remember what I was waiting for and all I cared about was about what we’d speak, then the curtain rose over our slumber in an instant flash of morning warmth, we came to live as people who want to be loved, who loved and had been loved. We didn’t want to be alone.  We had us for a night.

We don’t speak anymore.

2. GUM + WINE

Press Play.

(Now start walking Mr. Martinez)[4]

My head is empty.
Not sure if I
have what I want
Not sure if I want
what I have.
In a consideration of wine
disguised in my mouth
spreads wide in my
fine plastic cup,
a submissive gum of mint,
playing my teeth,
how many people
can you fit in your head?

(Describe the taste
of gum + wine)

My heart is light within.

(Tell her what you most want to tell me).

I know my way,
or I’m walking
my first activity of the day,
I meet a past lover
on the 2nd floor,
preferably in public,
by many figures
of flesh and art.
I don’t say much;
is there anything to say these days?

(I came here for the wine)

Liar.  I know why I came here.

(Describe the taste of gum + wine)

In her room, #_ _ _[5], where she creates,
her art is
observed in cases
not completely open,
and anyone can control the lights
in her art if one
is able to control
her charm.

(Nonsense, what the fuck does that even mean?)

But,
in consideration to her wine
I’ve poured it into my attractive
cup of fine plastic

(now do that ‘swish’ thing you do in your mouth when you pretend to know you’re wine tasting)

I don’t know how, but the swirling sound
in my mouth is enough to drown out
my social anxiety.

(Do it again)

I will.

Pay no attention to the crowd of people here

(there goes five charming females)

there are better distractions to look at,

Pay no attention to eye contact

(I should have blacked out for this one)

there are better ways to have
a connection.

(Describe the taste of gum + wine)

(Approach her)

“I’m going to the 3rd floor.” I said.

“Oh you’re going…to the 3rd floor? Okay then it..” she replies.

(I interrupt her)

“I love your work.” interrupting her.

(Bad timing, hug her now and leave)

“Thanks!” in her enthusiastic voice.

(Try to smile please)

The third floor isn’t as exciting.
There’s sometimes great art on every other wall

(who am I to judge?)

There are a lot of attractive and well-dressed hordes of crowd

(I imagine what it would be with them for about a minute or two, at times in seconds, until I see the next attractive person)

they mean nothing to me.
There’s a lot of wine bottles on tables
translucent from
white, red, pink fluids.

(How did two plastic cups made of fine plastic glamour get on each hand of mine?)

I am not very good at saying “good bye”
in large public settings[6]. I’m too timid to
put myself out like that; my excuse is that
it’s a waste of time.
After 30 minutes of being present
I walk and whirl my wine
towards the closest exit.

(Describe the taste of gum + wine)

Press Play.

(Now start walking Mr. Martinez)

I walk In the belly of the city[7]:

Alive, with many lights on buildings
so many sounds grafted together
Alive, with many memories side by side
so many constructions breaking off
Alive, with many struggles redefined
so much gum mashed
Alive, with plenty of finger prints hidden on our skins
so many exaggerated feelings for the morning
Alive, with much language meddled strategies in this wine
so many questions between each compression of saliva
Alive, with many flashpoints revealing into the cadence
of a moment and of distinction and
compulsion along nostalgia.

(Describe the taste of gum + wine)

I’m functioning to hang my rest upon a thought,
while all the shiny whispers of the streets lullaby me to sleep, and the taste of gum + wine remains until dawn.
Mellowed,
tender & harsh.

3. WHILE WE ALL TALK ABOUT YOU
Do you think you’re a star?
You won’t fit in with all of the rest
even from a far
as an unwelcomed guest
we know what’s in your head.

No one knows anything about you
no one usually did
you sometimes think you have a clue
I sometimes think I’d like to speak to you
why you’re like the way you are?
Do you think you’re a star?

I sometimes think I’d like
to find out who you are
if it’s like how you say
I’d like to get away
then I won’t fit in with all of the rest
but it’s alright to stay.

You want the recognition
But you don’t do art
you want the ambition
But you don’t do your part
you want the commission
Do you think you’re a star?

And you will disappear in your own aspirations
into your own desires
into your own exploitation
as a dark period at the end of this sentence.

They say
wear your black boots,
and your black skinny jeans,
in your mysterious persona,
speak in a dark chic way,
show up and look pretty,
push your private pain,
suck your national standard,
stand with depressive effects,
and take a picture, you’re so unique, you’re so post modern, don’t hash tag anything.
You’re a cool bitch,
he’s the homie, whatevs,
all together in one package,
emulated, copied and expired, punk out
drink your Pabst, renew your updates, smoke                            your cigs, snort your coke, go green, and pretend you’re            changing the world, and have sex with the rest of your like that are left

in the city.

In a collective sadness your parents paid for,
you might be weird, but you’re naive
except you like the way you are
decorated in pretentious American brusque,
you do nothing, and wait for the next person to praise you.

Do you think you’re a star?
I wont fit in with all of the rest
even from a far
as an unwelcomed guest
I know what’s in your head

Art
what do the art
millennials[8] care about art?
They jump on bandwagons
wallow at art shows
& talk amongst themselves
with incest-like division
about what’s ‘raw’ and ‘new things’,
what’s spiritual and what’s cultured,
undermining the ideas that aren’t
to par to their expectations or experiences

“I think that’s minimalism bro”[9]

Art
what do they care about art?
They go from living in the ‘contemporary’
to self-appointed segregation
from the world and humility
that’s their protection to the public
that’s their morality
and contribution to American culture
what do they care about art.

Do you think you’re a star?
Oh uninvited me!
But you never seem to mind
even up close
as an unwelcomed guest
you don’t know what’s in my head.

And they’ll know one day, while we all talk about you.

4. THE MEANING OF DISTANCE

It’s how long it takes me
to get ready for you,
the times I’ve missed your calls.
You seemed to need me.
How often I’ve daydreamed
I was already present in your memories
how long it takes me
to remember,
“she’s going to be all right.”

The distance between
being present and being focused
while you sat down
and spoke about your hopes,
goals and dreams.
You seemed to be talking to me.
We shouldn’t tell each other
too much about ourselves,
we’ve been through this before.
I’m the first to make that mistake.
We can think of other ways to speak
about our distance.
I don’t know if that’s a mistake anymore,
the distance will take me to
understand absence.

It’s the flash switch of night
into day, when we close our point of views,
we wake up to ourselves, and our story
repeats itself, alternates and distances
itself from our version of being.

It’s how long it took me to write your letter,
I never sent it, that’s how long I’ve had nothing
to say.  My excuse is that it’s a different kind of work.
That it will be worth the wait. That I’ve had it ready
and that I never find the time of the day to give
myself up, still I don’t think we were that close anyways.
I will return when you think of me.

How long it takes sound to reach the morning,
the distance between each breath you took
between whispers and the distance between
the atoms of our hands, cold and warm skin.
After awhile I realized you weren’t talking.

The distance of time that takes me to finish this sentence.
To take calmly whatever is left to take,
even if selfishly accounted, I am going to live
the rest of my day however I choose,
distant and close to myself
with everyone to share.

The distance between strangers
on train seats away from their
destinations, with no other place
to wait, with a need to be alone.

The distance in my hesitation to
approach a connection,
the distance in choosing the next song to
be a dramatic to, arrange my things,
and walk the distance home.

The distance in saying goodbye
and becoming the beginning,
the desire to be ‘again’ with her
like the distance between
being in love and being
out of that loop.
It’s thinking there’s something
to be gained.

The distance it takes me to repeat myself,
the distance it takes for me to be imperfect
until I’m on my feet again, walking towards
my next fall, my next spring
until I am balanced again.
The distance between the heartbeat,
pumping:
“I am, I am, I am”
Between something that is disappearing
in me and in someone new.


[1] The mission district in San Francisco.

[2] In August of 2013.

[3] A continuation from where the bar was mentioned.

[4] ( ) indicates a 1st person inner voice.

[5] Blank for privacy reasons.

[6] Specifically large public art shows.

[7] San Francisco, CA.

[8] Characterized as a generation born anywhere in the early 1980s and early 2000s.

[9]  Quote from an idiot at an art show.

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3 thoughts on “GUM + WINE

  1. Pingback: Third Sunday Blog Carnival: December 2013 | Third Sunday Blog Carnival

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