Danielle Amí Étienne

On a long and lonesome highway, East of Omaha.

November 14, 2012

There are little polar bears
Circling, walking with black padded feet
On ice beneath a blurred blue sky

(A hunter approaches from the south, not indigenous or of necessity. He wears no furs or war paint. He has no aura or peace. He is a foreigner; knowing nothing; affecting the fall of the snow. This is not to teach you but to make you sad.)

My eyes are glazing, listening to waltzing music and the jangle of tambourines. Saxophones, a little pause for a dance between the melody and the chorus. The room spinning and spinning. A carousel of rainbow paints; smoke signals and the beauty of rain on the rooftop at dawn. I don’t describe air. You are familiar.
You can feel a gust attach to your fingertips, or the way your pelvis shivers under the weight of an October breeze through the bedroom window. No sheets. Bare mattress stained with blood and whiskey.
(84 million stars) Alpha Centauri? I’ve heard that somewhere
Mouth cracked and burning, palms of my hands and the backs of knees slick and buttered with sweat. I hear a monitor from the other room, a religious program is playing on a continuous loop. Billy Graham, Tammy Faye; the heavyweights. It sounds dated but I’m unable to comprehend the era. I feel it’s something before I was born.
(Did you hear the one about the priest and the rabbi? One of them was a pederast) The mattress is twitching vaguely and I realize it could be insects. Fleas, bed bugs even. I peel back the layer of elastic at the edge and reveal a hardened thorax, a little body. Black and lean, perfectly designed to feed. These are mites that my grandmother told me would get into my eardrums and wreak havoc. Dancing on microscopic hair follicles like ancient pagans; flailing and heaving while my body provided nutrition.
(Roaches make nests like robins, but they a whole lot different from one another) Your foot encounters a broken bottle on the carpet and you shriek. Glass slicing the big toe and you hopping up and down screaming ‘fucking cunt’ while the ceiling fan slowly invites my attention. It is a hypnotist in this room that otherwise has little movement. My mind is simple like a child and I am amused for hours.

YOU: get up
ME: i’m sleeping
YOU: you’re lying
ME: i don’t lie
YOU: what?
ME: i don’t lie
YOU: you’re not listening
ME: i don’t care
I roll over onto my stomach, waiting for the sun to go down.


Looking around, wiping my eyes off on pillowcases that used to be mine.
When I was a kid.
Pillowcases from a cottage we used to go to, back then. Back then when i still knew my cousins’ names and wasn’t afraid to think about dying.
Except for being buried alive.
That one’s always been a motherfucker, no matter how old you are. We used to go out at night on this big house boat that my grandparents owned. Lake Eerie. Canals and people in Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil. Slicked down like electric eels on the bow. Little tv in the bedroom cabin, black and white.
The first one burned in a fire in the 70s so the second one they named the “JME twice”.
My grandfather’s initials.
Jean Michele Etienne
Joyeax Noel?
These words don’t mean anything...
History doesn’t mean anything but it’s all we have.

Maybe the second time around would be better than the first.
It is with everything else. Even small things like windows and blenders and which color you’re too old to dye your hair.
Used to use Kool Aid and wear black crosses, huffing gasoline in the shed out back by the creek. Listen to old radios that don’t tune in right; too much static.
But you make the best of it cos you’re drinking and you might get fucked tonight.
Or at least a kiss on the mouth.
Real Love. Never felt anything so sad.

There was a big light. A blaring red light on the water. We walked down to our spot in the marina, walking slowly, dream like.
Like we aren’t even walking at all but floating on some mechanical cloud.
You know that feeling.
Sometimes it comes when you’re 16 and you take acid in the woods with your friends, trampling over twigs and grass that’s so goddamn green you think of emeralds and Colombian jungles and cat’s eye marbles rolling over woods floors.
But instead of the woods it’s something else.
It turns on you, it always does.
Like a lover walking out the door at 6 in the morning; the first twitch of sunlight coming in through blankets over windows, you naked in bed and crying.
A: Dont do this please-
B: I’m sorry I just can’t do it anymore-
Hurried footsteps down the hallway as he walk-runs to his car, struggling with the keys in the dead air of a January morning.
It turns on you.
You look down and it’s all gears and steel platforms. There never was a woods at all.