semantikon feature literature
Jan. 2004
Michael Crossley
Michael Crossley is writer, actor, and poet and currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.
micheal crossley, cincinnati ohio, poet, performance artists, actor, some girls, every thug, kentucky
across the desert on a horse called methedrine

Valium cuts in,
seems to turn down the volume.
The head, it gets heavy & teeters there awhile
I got ether, sand, ground bone coursing through my veins
three days straight- no sleep.
I choose music- hard , loud
alcohol- cold
to document this madness.
Valium cuts across the floor kinda sloppy
takes my lady by the shoulder
asks, “Say, can
I have this dance?”
Outside a cactus
rotten with syphilis, stuck in a pink plastic pot
because it wouldn’t have grown there naturally,
nothing could grow there.
it’s just dry, just dirt, it feels like my mouth.
I feel not so much myself, in a rented body, in a rented room.
Damn motel, damned rented man in a four-wall fortress
that can’t keep the head out, instead it bakes, more like an oven
than a sauna. The wood paneled walls separate themselves from their own grain.
Too much heat & seedy occupants.
Too many cigarettes smoked within these grim confines, the lampshade
stained nicotine yellow,
I lie prostate on my side & study the angles of the ceiling
too low to breathe, it heavy with my chest,
the only thing wet is the beer, grow warm now, & tasting of copper,
like when you were little and you stuck your tongue
on a 9 volt battery.
Outside another car pulls in the lot, casts a silhouette
of the potted cactus through the window, its shape
suggests the presence of a man, outside the window looking in all of this.
I blow smoke, & my heart hurts for beating.
I grab onto the small barrel-shaped cactus in a planter on the bedside table,
just to feel something, just to break the monotony of breath.
I squeeze tighter, reminding me of slowly drawn-out thoughts,
not 100 miles a minute.
(I wonder what a cactus might do, stuck up into a woman.)
Two nights now,
no sleep, only breathe and sweat
Arizona, arid zone
the motel room is filthy, impersonal as an undertaker,
as calculated as a scream, it’s unexpected.
neon stains the paneled walls from a sign outside the driveway
it cuts across the nicotine light
ruminates where there should otherwise be
can’t sleep,
only sweat.
the music comes from a plastic radio.
Salsa, somehow, pardons the relief I had just achieved.
The language, foreign in bad reception. Mixes it all up again
white noise, white boy
lying sweating, grinding teeth down on the mattress
the girl,
not my friend,
but with me besides,
she lies on the cool yellow of tile of the bathroom floor
vomiting, seven hours straight now.
The sex was dry, forced. not rape.
but forced, like it was what we were supposed to do, turns out it was a bad idea
us not being friends and all.
It took hours before I decided I couldn’t take it anymore
sprung from the mattress & ran out past the parking lot,
all heaving, breathing with Buick, Chrysler, Dodge
I run into the desert, but it’s not the desert like I imagined
it’s all hard dirt
barefoot & stepping on aluminum cans
& candy wrappers
& there are two of them, stuck there to the edge of my foot
they aren’t marked very clearly. faded from too much sun
& my eye’s strained to focus
I know one of them advertises a quick pick-me-up
the other’s with peanuts, & completely unbearable
as I imagine the dry nougat & salty nuts paving my dry mouth…
I stand shoulder to shoulder with my own delirium.
as if I were about to make a choice, I size this up,
look behind me, barely seeing the motel sign,
flash vacancy
I feel the three cool blue pills inside the cellophane
I feel lucky.
As valium comes creeping sleazily across the dance floor
Begging my pardon
as if he might cut in.