Existential Doublewide by D.M. Jerman

Back in the Grill Room Cocktail Shop after many years weeks days, a hard cry that left a puddle in my jacket and a long walk downtown with earplugs in listening to myself breathe. 

My favorite trailer park of dread called Chicago is all around me, curdling gently into the early throes of a Friday night in June. A celebrity suicide has kicked it all off and still hangs in the air over my head like an intoxicating smell. A sweet poison tricking me into inhaling more.

I can't yet tell if the man-portion of the couple at the hook is trying to pick up the woman-portion, but I brought along a book and quite soon I don't imagine I'll care about anything but it and my second irish coffee. The bartender calls me "babe" and that's dope because she's really hot.


I shouldn't have aspired to anything today. Should have acted predictable- a good local American idiot cunt. Putting on makeup then never leaving the house like someone who plans on getting their vapid daily attention quota exclusively from social media. Drinks and a twenty gone, I transform into a ghost in dark denim and board a train.

There is buried treasure all over this town. Most of it has been underground so long it will only stand to retain its obvious fate, which is to remain precious garbage. Sometimes I am comrade only to this put-together trash. I blow smoke into my own face and pull muscles in my back. I frown thinking of all my hard work filling my landlord's coffers. Sulking away a beautiful day until I can cheer myself by remembering exhausted boys bodies piled over one another on the floor of the club after the hardcore show.

In one form or another, one man becomes the other. The future borrows from the past to decide how to remake it, only succeeding in impoverishing them both. The present stands in awe of this misuse of time and sobriety and in its wisest moments exudes the levity it once so desperately begged for.


Two petals left on the drooping flower. A plastic water bottle glistens with trapped condensation in the weed bed. Dandelion dust flees across yesterday's air and chokes its puffs with sunlight and pranks of breezes knocked forth from the ice cream cart bells. People adopt dogs and then act insane around them and force them to do dumb shit like sit their warm innocent assholes down on cold rough pavement at stoplights. Just rude.

Flat tires and pistol rapport. Lemon-scented cleaning product like a punch in the nose clearing out something else I will have forgotten to say. Wild mint and sour grapes. Caffeine and misconduct and the reprieve on the fire escape. I'm comfortable in alleyways where it's quieter. I prefer the company of piles of metal and vines. Tattoo parlors make me wish and gloat. I see twins and I am jealous with confusion. I spit on 'For Rent' notices and kick at empty cigarette packs while I pretend the 'No Trespassing' signs mean the opposite.

Congratulations, girl. You've earned this heart like a perpetual garage sale. Those eyes of green tinder with matchhead pupils. Dead boots and the dirty ground when you know you're not around. All the best for walking into that stormy lake, which is your lover, and cooling quick as a gutter in a flood. I'm still looking for what I've unearthed and finding it and losing it everywhere. One retreat into bliss means another day-long episode of apologetic shrugging. The loiterer's refrain in the garden of sighs near the wellspring of smirk and waste.

Here's your fifth star, bitches. Turn your flag-cast neighborhoods from chalk white to coal black. The life-sick dusk sets a hundred hundred thousand books on fire behind me. My booming cackling laughhowl blows out all the skyscraper windows like an atom bomb. Smoke sears my eyes and my hair stinks as it catches in earnest. The heat against my heels is immense. Flames set and arch from the base of my sleeves and onto my elbows like the wings on Mercury's shoes.

I am shot from a cannon and going down, down, down...


Home now. Could read some Peter Sotos or watch a gory movie maybe. Husband endearingly calls me "sweet ennui lady" and I could burst into tears all over again. Wish it was due to humor and not this lugubrious multiplicity of repeating problematic daily world-wide foolishness that coaxes me like a siren of damnation toward the top of the tallest parking garage I can find.

Man oh man. And just when I was coming out of my thirties into being a decent writer...



Missive from the Trash Palace: A Guttermemoir. by D.M. Jerman

It’s Thursday and I'm raging it up at the Trash Palace. The place is like the inside of a plank-and-iron cart, the kind Mexican metal-divers drive up and down alleys with creaky low tires.

My roommate is a horder and shoots slightly more TV than coke.

Here, there’s every thing you could need or want provided you can find it. I need a shower. It’s around here somewhere…

One beer in on a day off almost leaving my phone in the park. Snoozing and sneezing under the sun.

Just discovered the girl who moved in up top is leaving dog poo in the backyard bin under the back stairs. No wonder it smells worse out here than ever.


Trash Palace's air conditioners and other profligate electronics are silent in the wave of unseasonable, unreasonably beautiful indian summer just so hot to keep getting its sweet weather all over my moan and magic. The rush on rich substance can leave you homeless inside.

I wish someone might call. I know I'll see a different "him" this weekend. But I'm kinda lonely.

Picked up a cold from this same old new lover too, who is maybe going to cross my path at a party this weekend. He is auditioning friends like he auditions girlfriends and it is all the brilliant trash of gossip.

Anyway I've already got my get up planned and what I'm gonna take. Camera and dessert and my haute ass. That'll teach 'em. Just no excessive sneezing or dragging along back to bed anyone who can't get behind a filthy house.


Meanwhile I work out what I hope isn't a chest cold and play drums and go to readings and keep seeking hot jams and painting my nails and wondering if I want to go dancing with the weekend with its shrinking moon in tow…

Perverse recollection of a dream climbing up and down buildings, being followed, being watched.

Showing the sycophant from the past about a town rotted thru with old buildings. Always in search of a place to live.

I pick up rubber bands and forget to take photos in the fresh morning light. The train sparks toward dawn over the lush park, and it occurs to me a new bubble wand is in order. I could wear the furry coat again. Do new-ish jeans come first?


At the moment, nothing is really needed. We are all moving soon. Out, away, beyond. Breathing into the blissful minute of concentration tearing free of sunrise. A long walk is a healthy psychic shit. No way you can future any better than I can. Or maybe you can…

What I mean is nothing would be better than getting back yesterday. Keeping the blood flow instead of wearing a bra.

How about the wisdom in a pile of bad habits. The reduced emotive capacity of bad weather. Snow? Snow is a promise. But rain. Rain is a gag. The best bad excuse. A poor joke played while you're on a bike ride. A rude warning.

Then rain is a time-slower and a grit washer. A tight muscle memory sick-day reflex inducer. Unapologetic, and total hell on pizza delivery guys everywhere. People with lamps and chores survive it. People with train stations and paper cups drink it. Acid tears that taste like high school regrets. Leaks. Spring-chewed drip-holes of itself. Rough grooves made rougher. The roof forced to stand for truth, justice, and American warps.


Previously published in the online/print 'zine SKIDMARK.


(C)Lean Up After Yourself - Nine scenes in the film of life by D.M. Jerman

With the familiar young faces from my brownie troop, I went into my very first old-folks-home. Thru a maze of hallways, I walked into a room and placed the succulent I'd been given onto a long tray, and looked into the face of a woman I had no idea how to talk to. She was much older than even my own grandparents were at the time.

I left. I was pushed back in. I don't remember what we talked about from there. Only the blue light on her face from the single window, and afterward, the feeling as if something had just transpired for which yet I had no understanding.


Mother enters my room. I hear her coming up the steps to reprimand me for something. It's always something. I stand and wait for it. Incense is burning. She thinks I'm smoking pot. She tells my father this so they can gang up on me. Again.


Doing homework when my friends come to the door on a night when I didn't expect them. I grabbed my guitar and we headed for the tracks. We went deep into the pitch black tunnels and followed our echoes back out to the brisk air at the town limits. Kicking at gravel and beer cans and singing songs we'd just made up, and would never sing again.


It was getting late. We were teenagers. We got back to his parents house before they did.

We were on the couch. The only light came from the hallway. In the fever of the night I was desperate to take off my shirt. Desperate to feel his skin against mine. I did. We did.


We stood in the parking garage's open lot a story up along the highway. The rush of cars against the tall buildings and all their lights. For a moment it was just the cold, and our city, and us.


He left. We were friends for a while in college. Just pals. We'd chat over cigarettes and TV. But when, at the end of the semester, I watched him walk down the dorm hallway and out of the south doors I knew I'd never see him again. And I didn't.


Then, deep into my twentieth summer and far away from home, I crept down to the lakefront. Naked, under the sleepaway camp stars, I got into a boat, and paddled silently to the middle of the water, where I stopped to watch the grasp of the arm of the galaxy.


One day, a long time after all this, I got on the train in the city, and suddenly as I looked around me, everyone seemed like a real-life rock star. I'm telling you. Hendrix and PJ Harvey. Nina Simone and some crusty Mick Jagger-type cat. I guess I wondered then who I was supposed to be.