from My War
Chris was the brains. The best dressed mosher. Where did you get those nice pants? I got them in 1993. They’re called corduroys
Sartori warrior wheels. Independent trucks. I’m a funbox. Backside tailsides that go forever.
Who keeps their paper route? Never gets old? Chris’ Acura. Chris’ mother yelling at her yoghurt.
I sort out the wheels. Flatspots and loose bearings. Hardware in my sock drawer.
Things changed when Chris got his motor drive. When Chris served his sentence. When they skateproofed the drainage ditch. We got higher than Christian Hosoi. I stole an Alien Workshop deck and fucked my conscience. Walked out the front door holding it after the dude gripped it for me.
At YMCA skate camp I sprained my ankle badly but stuck around to watch the lake launch.
This poem is for the bear that broke your driver’s side window and ate your Cheetos. Visalia 1996.
We were at the lake where they filmed Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th but we weren’t scared of anything. Just the vert ramp and summer ending.
I hear my neighbor’s music through the wall. I can’t tell if it’s Minor Threat or Fugazi but I know it’s Ian McKaye yelling.
Learning to accept this awful vinyl wood floor in my bedroom. The way it pretends to be real.
Chris says he counts kickflips when he can’t sleep. Over yellow fire hydrants. Off curb cuts.
Chris finds succulents on the street in San Francisco. Brings them back to me in New York and I plant them in cans.
Chris told me he loved me and I didn’t know how to say it back so I just smiled and nodded my head.
Chris backside tailslid the ledge at DVC and frontside flipped over the picnic table off the stage. It was hot and there was nothing to do. We went to 7-Eleven for a Cherry Coke flavored Slurpie.
I bought a dollar hotdog. Filled the paper tray with pickles and sweet peppers. Gobs of plastic cheese and chili. All the calories you can get for a dollar.
There’s an MTV clip on YOUTUBE called Beck, Mike D and Thurston Moore… Jam? Thurston is scratching his little Marshall amp against his guitar. Mike D is rapping. Beck is plucking these strings hanging from his neck.
My student tells me to shut up so I do. I open my mouth and a cloud of black moths flies out.
I cut off my callouses with an Exacto knife and line them up on the windowsill. Blow them onto the street like Walt Whitman.
In 1998 there were were no limits on condiments. Kurt Cobain and all the money he had to buy drugs with.
On my way home from work I look up towards my living room window and see the plants hanging there. I’m struck by their size. How they look grown up and real.
I had this fuzzy toddler memory of swarming longhaired 80’s skaters getting gnarly in the drainage ditch. I remembered the sound in the evenings behind my parent’s house. Wheels screeching against the bone white pavement.
One summer night walking down the path we stopped on the bridge over the ditch mom and dad held me up. Tossed me in the air when the shredders ollied over the gap over the rusted metal pipe oozing caustic algae.
The city put these bars in along the bottom so the shredders couldn’t shred the banks. Just like that the shredders were so gone I wondered if they’d ever existed at all.
On the way home from our first day of high school Chris and I stopped on the bridge and gazed longingly into the dry chasm
Do you think people ever skated it?
I know they did I saw them
At skate camp in 1996 the ditch reappeared in a grainy video. There was a wallride to fakie/ 360 powerslide/ ollie north. Against a background of granite rocks and yellow grass. Three shredders leaning on the chain link fence. One of them was looking into the future.
Chris and I climbed the fence with crowbars and hammers. We were all: In this world of cops and dads and stoplights you can make things right.
We popped one bolt out and then another a bar snapped off. It rang out against the walls of the ditch. Against the dead grass dead moon. Chris giggled so hard at first I thought he was crying.
The neighbors’ lights came on we left our tools ran up the canal. Hid in the trees for a while then went home
We came back at sunrise. Our tools had been stolen. We rolled back and forth between the gap in the bars we’d made/ The ditch had an inch of this dried algae that slowed you to a stop. The sun was orange and fat like a cartoon. I fell and skinned my knee. My clothes were covered in yellow algae dust
Chris and I laid against the banks like lizards. Pictured ourselves with long hair jeans with holes. Spinning neon wheels.
All these men with wide subway stances. I bump them with my enormous shoulders.
Chris stands in the middle and touches nothing. Sways with the train’s rhythm.
We built the mini-ramp with wood we stole from the construction site outside the apartment complex. We did it together. I feel a mini-death. I sew a button onto my skin.
Chris, it’s not cool to get a Nazi haircut. I’m standing over here to make it clear I’m not with you. Christmas lights year-round. Out of tune guitars. Ted died and left me his steel strings.
I knew by 11th grade I’d never be a pro skater. Dream time is elastic. Shred into the future. The guy at skatecamp told me not to pop the zits on your legs because they are little staph infections.
Watching The Real World, I was on team Puck until he dipped his finger in the peanut butter. Until he called Pedro a faggot. Until the sky opened up and swallowed me.
All the moms with bush in the 90s. The world spinning idly. Plants dangling in the windows with twine.
I always imagined Catcher in The Rye to be about farms and dull boring pain but then it was all about this priveleged guy who was depressed about everything and such a whiner.
In sophomore english my handwriting was so good that I wrote my name all over the school and my town and my notebook.
Chris ollied up the four in the quad and kickflipped dow. He boardslid the stair rail behind they gym switch and backside and frontside to fakie.
What’s your favorite font on the computer? Why is Holden calling everyone phony when he’s the true phony? Where do the ducks go in the winter? What about the fish? I really want to know.
Can I borrow a dollar? Can I have a spicy Cheeto? Do the zombies have ham in them today?
Chris’ dad says that going to war is the only thing that makes you not a pussy.
On my way home from school I tore leaves from the neighbors tree then slammed my head against the freezer door bc I felt so guilty for hurting the tree.
Chris poured mouthwash mixed with windex all over the ants in the garbage bin.
We were born in 1983 before Desert Storm but after Vietnam.
I hate the soup. It tastes like the worst parts of childhood. Like dad in the summer.
Why do you keep throwing yr notebook in the garbage? Because I can’t throw myself in the garbage.
Chris and I put 79 cans of spray paint in a cart and walked out the front door of Home Depot like the world owed it to us.
So much dandruff we thought it was snowing. The parking lot was soft and smooth.
Chris was sleeping in on 9/11. His sister woke him up and said Ummmmmm we’re getting bombed and yr asleep.
I was working at Denny’s. My boss’ breath smelled like shit coffee. He would look at me and point at the hot teenage girls. He said Men are horses, we never grow old.
This guy was waving a flag by the freeway entance. I felt kind of proud of him for doing this embarassing thing. I wondered if my pride for him was patriotism.
Mike joined the Marines that week. He said he couldn’t wait to kill a raghead. He played trumpet in our ska band. He played trumpet for the war until he forgot to study his sheet music and got demoted.
Got a ticket driving Chris’ Ford but the courthouse dropped it. There was so much going on back then.
Mike came back with PTSD and gave talks about how we were there for the wrong reasons.
In 11th grade English class we had a debate about bombing Serbia. This kid from the football team kept calling it Siberia. He said if you don’t go fight you’re being a punk. You don’t even know what the country is called. You don’t even know what punk is.
I put big X’s on my hands in black Sharpie. My art teacher said that’s bad for you. I said it means I didn’t do drugs or drink or have sex. Well then I guess it’s good for you.
One time I reached for a receipt and accidentally touched the butt of the girl who worked the register next to me. The way she looked at me.
The night after 9/11 we snuck into the drainage ditch next to the BART tracks to do graffiti. We wondered if there’d be heightened security.
You just hopped the fence and you were alone in there. The moon lit up the canal. The end of Chris’ burning cigarette. We didn’t know whether or not to be scared.
There was this little trickle of water running through the middle. Chris always talked about riding down it in an innertube but he never did.
These poems are from a manuscript I’m working on called My War which is this bad Rollins era Black Flag song about betrayal in male friendship (a common theme in bro-hardcore music). The manuscript is all about being a kid in the 90s, having dads who were Vietnam vets, skating, the weird transition to adulthood, and teaching teenagers. I hope you enjoyed this issue. Remember: Punk’s not dead. Skate or die. Etc...