Fireworks for family: or the madman’s plea

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I went to my parents house, all fucked up
It was fourth of July
I text my cousin, 17 years younger
She just got off work. I just left the Bird.
I needed a ride, so I wouldn’t pass out
On my way up the hill
I demanded her wheels and her heels, on the gas, because I had some things to say, to my family, then I backtracked, because I was being rude and asked politely.

I don’t know how much I had. If you’re like me you don’t count drinks, you count the feelings that are left. I had one. The truth. Which I hear you say isn’t a feeling, but it is when you bounce your truth off of those who don’t know it. It ricochets and comes back as pain. So I wanted the ones I loved to know my lane. Cheesy, I under-stand, but who gives a shit, when they can hardly stand, like a poet who rhymes the same word with the same word. It’s all bullshit, like the sentence and incorrect hyphens.

That little kid, whose diaper I changed, drove me in her Mercedes Benz. She stopped and asked me a question. She wanted to know something first. Now I’m writing this drunk, again, and I wish I could remember, but I know that whatever came out, meant that I loved her.

So she took me to my parents, whom at my 35 years of age, moved into a villa, as they deserved. It makes me proud because when I was 3, we lived in an apartment in Canoga Park, L.A.

It occurs to me now, the luxury I have in writing and not working. In drinking and not worrying. In being divorced and not…well, that part hurts, but it’s all beside the point. I saw my family and they saw me for what I’ve been since 17.

We had hot dogs, as Uncle Sam’s pointing finger demands. My drunk uncle wasn’t there but my drunk ass took up a chair. Thinking now, my baby cousins and only aunt were familiar with this scene, I’m sorry, that was disrespectful to my aunt and baby cousins. (Yeah, there grown, but my age keeps them under) I don’t know why. Never done it before. I’ve always avoided, being fucked up and walking through any of their doors.

My grandma’s were their too, but they didn’t bat an eye. Greeted me as if I was the same quiet guy. But I couldn’t shut up.


It occurs to me that maybe both of their husbands drank and told me lies. One of them died in a drunk accident, then Yaya took up the sacrament, in sacrifice of her only child. My mom, definition of strength, and I walked in with that whiskey/ cigarette stench. 18, all alone, no English, never knowing a home. My Mom, still hugged me, said she loved me.

My dad, with the burden of his old man, telling him it’s over, that he couldn’t stand. Holding on to a pedestal and cementing his feet into a man that knows fucking everything, that’s my dad, who used to squeal and squeeze and call me machete, with a little lisp. Full of love but needing to be tough because, fuck the rules of poetry, he had to hear his dad talk of his own suicide. So now he stands in cement, like a statue, that I admire, but is too tall to hug and too scared to soften his love. Or maybe it’s just my self-pity because he still says machete to me.

Who knows what I said as I ate that soggy, relished bread, full of franks. I wanted to speak frank, but I don’t know what I said, the point was, I love you, I don’t know how to live, and I’m not yet dead. So help, I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t. Know.

But I love you and I miss the Christmas story that grandpa used to read, even though I stared at presents with innocent greed. Then my cousins, belshnikle, (however it’s spelled) came out with humor when their lives were also in hell. Their daddy, my uncle, lost in his mind with alcoholic bread. Oats, hops, cans, pops, I saw his red face and winced but also pounded gavel. Then told my aunt she should tell him to pound gravel.

Like grandpa’s churchy slides, I projected what I knew should be done to me and it was and I’m no longer rhyming but the truth is, I also kept other people from climbing. If I’m drowning, I’m sinking, shrinking, struck with the curse of the alcoholic, too much thinking.

Too much thinking. I’ll never forget and when I’m drinking, my eyes always blinking. We were supposed to smile until our jaws quake, laugh until our lungs ache, lock our eyes til’ the gaze break and hold our hands til’ our bones break. Now…

If I don’t drink my hands shake. When the phone rings, I don’t take and I keep my eyes open til’ daybreak. I’m a shuttering glitch, stuck in a doorway.

And that’s where I’m at, rambling, not making sense. I want to be understood but I don’t care to understand. So now, I’m using my thumbs to write this shit. I stand in front of the mirror, after never drinking enough all day, after five lines of cocaine and for now my nose is clear, and for now  I’m dancing to the same beat on the speaker my mom bought and I threw up nothing but liquid 20-some times in the sink, while my body still swayed to the music. And I dry-heaved 20 more times, still moving And I keep writing while I have 10 beers and a bottle of wine in the fridge And I rarely use my credit card and I keep writing and I rarely use my credit card but I raise up a line from that hill of California snow, roll up a 10 and breath in that fresh powder, like an asthmatic to his inhaler and I love you all, and the dogs are fine, and I love them too and I lay with them and I feed them and I take them to the vet and we’re fine but I’m not and I’m using too many conjunctions and that’s fine because I don’t want this to end, because I’m too addicted to breathing because I want to see how you all end up but I’m not sure how to stop and I love you and…

maybe this is how it’s meant to be

Wait until I turn into a tree.

Stuck in a long, slow, goodbye

Waiting for earth or sky

Always misbehave

To twirl an elegant wave,

like every stoneage queen’s hand

since water met sand.

© 2021 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

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