That Leftover Taste in Your Mouth

That Leftover Taste in Your Mouth
JCD Kerwin


“Well, I’m leaving you now.”

The comment was so unabashedly inserted into the atmosphere that I spat out my coffee.

I brushed spilt java off the front of my shirt. It wasn’t a complete waste; the coffee was leftover from the evening before. It was bitter and burned.

I turned to my wife. “You what?”

She stood by the kitchen door, two suitcases at her feet and a frown on her face.

“I’m leaving you, Jack,” she repeated. She exhaled annoyance and brushed brown hair from her face. “It’s over.”

I stood up so quickly, I knocked over the chair. “What? What are you talking about?”

She rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “You ever get it when you’re constantly fighting with yourself? Like, you are watching a movie of your life and desperately screaming at the screen, hoping a situation changes, but it won’t because it’s a movie?”

I stared blankly. Toast crumbs stuck to the corners of my mouth.

She shifted her weight. “Well, I’m doing something about this movie. I’m changing the direction.”

“But, I don’t understand! What brought this on?”

Brought it on? Nothing brought it on. It’s not as if I suddenly got sick. This has been brewing below the surface for a while, Jack.”

I desperately looked around the kitchen, as if I hoped the appliances would come to my aid.

“Well, why haven’t you mentioned anything before?”

She sighed. “It wouldn’t have mattered.”

“It would have mattered to me!” I exclaimed.

She leaned over to pick up the suitcases. “I knew you’d make a scene,” she mumbled.

“Me? But why are you leaving? At least tell me why! Let’s talk about this,” I spluttered, flailing my arms.

“There’s nothing to talk about. I just don’t think the magic is there anymore.”

“You want magic? I’ll become a magician!”

“Jack,” she said sternly, “there’s nothing to be done. I’ve made up my mind.”

“Linda, please!”

“Goodbye, Jack.” She turned on her heel and left.

The screen door slammed back into place. Her car roared to life and then faded.

I stared at the spot she was in and then to the plant on the windowsill. I couldn’t tell what it was any longer; its leaves had long since browned and shriveled. Linda had given up on it. I had continued to water it even though it seemed fruitless. Now, a small green bud poked through the dirt.

I gazed into the backyard. The taste of burnt coffee lingered on my tongue.

February 2016








Mister Beauregard

Mister Beauregard
JCD Kerwin

Mister Beauregard has no heart. He keeps an antique, silver watch just above his breast coat pocket, just above his heart, so that the tick-tick-tocking mimics the thump-thump-bumping of a normal man’s heart.

He drives a Chevelle‘69, just to pass the time, as he listens to the tick-tick just above his breast bone, just across his chest, in his powder-blue, Chevy ’69. It’s leftover from the times he drove ‘till sunrise on the strip; ‘till he drove all night chasing phantoms in his vision while he looked at Mars. Now he sees shadows when he stares; he sees clouds when he knows it should be Heaven in the stars.

His eyes are made of glass, they say, because to buy his poor wife’s ashes he had to give his real ones both away. Her ashes sit near the magazines he never reads, and by the urn that keeps the fattest tabby you’d have ever seen. Its name was Max and it chased cedar waxwings in the yard.

He smokes cigars when he drives so far, and the smoke curls like clouds along the Sunset Boulevard. He dreams he’s somewhere that’s neverwhere and notquitehere because he can’t quite see or hear the ticking of reality the rest of us all breathe and fear. He’s someone else who isn’t here; someone who is nevermore…the ghost of Mister Beauregard.

(March, 2012…although I could’ve sworn it was older.)

Philosophizing Neon Words

Paul Valery said, “Poems are never finished, just abandoned.” I think that applies to at least half my prose. I write stuff like the nonsense below thinking it somehow looks like a completed piece of work in the end. Maybe it does in some ridiculous metaphorical drunken haze. (Check that, maybe that’s how I wrote it to begin with.)

Maybe all my writing is really poetry in prose clothing. I wonder, then, if all writers are really poets no matter how hard they try not to be? All writers are dreamers, after all. Are all dreamers poets? Are they one in the same? That isn’t to say poets are more “dreamy” than prose writers. I’m thinking out loud. Because I’m a thinker. I’m a philosophicalizer. I like to make up words. Words are fun.

Neon City Lights by dazstudios (flickr)

Neon Daguerreotype
JCD Kerwin

I smell like cigarettes and I’ve got a foul after-taste of something I can’t quite place. I’ve been sitting outside this painted neon disco for far too many hours, watching the wind-up toys move by for one more night.

I frown at the lights and listen to robotic laughter. It’s two a.m. and I watch people break through my vision like I’m flipping through photographs. I miss the way you used to laugh.

I’ve got your picture permanently etched into my memory. I think about it on these kinds of nights, waiting for the scene to turn real. Until it does, I’ll be watching these robots, pretending one of them becomes you.

(Nov. 2011)

Ink Trails

Now that I read this, I’m not at all fond of it. Even after revising the thing, it is, quite frankly, shite. (But isn’t that how we always think of our stuff?)

My paper boat by Aljaz Toman (sharkowskixchaos on devaintART)

Ink trails
JCD Kerwin

We used to sleep ‘till noon on Sundays because on Saturday nights we drowned in Manhattan, drinking each other under the city moon. Just tasting you made me an alcoholic.

You missed Louisiana and crayfish. I promised to take you back to wooden bridges and hot summer days as soon as I finished chasing my dreams. You never waited. I lost you where my eyes turned violet in the dark; the place we watched the stars all night and dreamed we weren’t at all that small.

We made origami from newspapers that belonged to homeless men who died upon the streets.

I remember paper boats in the distance and laughing in the night. We never listened to voices that told us Forever might someday end.

I watched you drift away on our paper ship; I watched you sink and fade, soggy to the sea. Paper ink floated with your hair while your smile became lost among the Funnies.

Now I stand on skyscrapers, sending paper airplanes into the city-sea. I watch them sail away with every memory of you.

(Nov. 2011)