“This fucking sucks shit you know,” she says, crop top queen, commentator on all things unjust, overrated, flaccid under her painted fingernails. She was my best friend, “disadvantaged” and a scummy sort of beautiful, and I never could stand a chance when she took on her power stance.
Sun hitting my forehead hard, and us stranded somewhere on a corner with our arms full, holding our treasures against our chest: blue gatorades and bags of 99-cent chips. No one to drive us the ten blocks back to our complex.
“The fucking worst,” I offer her. But underneath our steel-toned, cool girl curse words, we were hoping desperately that this trash heap that life seemed to be was just one of those phases—a label adults lassoed over us with fear, trying to reel in our rocky and rage-filled developments.
So much hope was swallowed by these mild inconveniences that they became tragedies, became our womanhood. We walked the long streets home; the protection of mother nature and her leggy, sprawling tranquility had abandoned us to the knee-scraping blacktop, to the dusty burbs, left us to fend for ourselves like our fathers had so long ago.
We made it home, and we made it here, too, successfully (and eventually separately) surviving whatever teenage torture was thrown at us; only to step up on the deflated, underwhelming pedestal of adult years.
But even after all these years layered like the waxy cake we bent over on birthdays, Crop Top Queen was right—this does fucking suck shit; my decades of pushing poetry, a book clamped shut, This Fucking Sucks Shit is the title page, the last line we weep over; the acknowledgements are just her name over and over.
All these centuries of beautified language spitting in our eyes to say this:
dying sucks shit,
loving sucks shit,
living sucks you dry like a girl looking to keep her words from falling out again, to gum and dumb up her splitting, wishbone mind. In the earlier times, real gum sufficed, pulled around finger, stuffed under tongue. In French class they’d force us to spit it into the trash, our sweet, saving distractions, but instead she would look the teacher in the eye and swallow the gum whole—and the teacher would gasp.
My French fucking sucks shit, but if I remember anything, it’s how to say l’amitie, which means friendship in English, but sounds a bit like immunity, like a sort of divine protection, like when I started to lean over the desk to tell her,
“You could choke on that,” but I already knew she was choking on whatever jagged past was poking itself under her tonsils, so much stickier than bubblegum. It must have built up, all that swallowed defiance becoming muck in her stomach.
Just like the rusty, sludge-filled pipe in my bathroom sink.
I remember, je me rappelle, how the maintenance man crouched and dealt with my clogged apartment arteries, pulling out strands of my hair like artifacts. Girls and their figments, imprints, always leaving something behind to memorialize themselves, the violence.
And how it was almost funny, his hands covered in my grime, his ass crack peaking shyly above his pants like the neighborhood boys over the fence as we sunbathed in the flatland patches of our homesteads. It was almost funny until she turned to me and said, “He could rape us if he wanted, burst our necks like two pipes,” us alone, overseeing while my mother worked her day job, stacking papers for another man’s business.
We were witnessing the bathroom dissection, wondering on the possibility of others, and how I had not yet known the word she used, rape, had laughed it off as I did most of the mythos of the future—what else was there to do?
We were already such faulty appliances, leaking our boredom and girlhood all over the floors, flooding the building before anyone with their strap, lug, socket wrench could shut us up.