Existential Maps

Sam

When we drove through the desert, Sam ran over a kangaroo rat. That’s essentially what started the whole fight. That he should watch the road. That I should listen to my mother more. That, by the way, he has to come to terms with his excessively hairy arms. That I should be more sensitive. That while we’re on the subject, he should really wax his back, it’s kind of gross. That I should get a real job and stop going out for drinks with older men who pay me to accompany them like some sort of Oriental concubine. That he should learn what tweezers are. That I should fucking wake up. That he should give Sun-Gu a call; she does waxing for me and she’s actually really good. And eventually, that I should get out of the car and walk to Vegas on my own.


Come and Go

In Tompkins Square Park, I watched an older bearded man, an Asian with a cap on, speak to a bald man, a Latino with a bike and a florescent orange blazer. They sat on the same bench. The bald man wanted to talk about birds in park, about biking, about the weather. His words were like pastry-scented-steam filling a cold room, warm and round. The bearded man nodded and repeated “My name is Go, my name is Go.” The bald man in the bright vest (I imagine he was a Thai food delivery man) soon gave up conversation when he realized his bench-partner was not at all lucid. He biked off and a homeless man took his place on the bench. This homeless man meticulously picked at a slice of pizza from a paper plate on his lap. When the pizza was all gone, the man tore the soggiest and sauce-drenched piece of the plate and ate it as well, nibbling and savoring. The bearded man turned to him, as if suddenly inspired and said “My name is Go.” The homeless man was startled, but soon whispered back: “Mine too.” An odd couple, those men.

In Tompkins Square Park, I watched an older bearded man, an Asian with a cap on, speak to a bald man, a Latino with a bike and a florescent orange blazer. They sat on the same bench. The bald man wanted to talk about birds in park, about biking, about the weather. His words were like pastry-scented-steam filling a cold room, warm and round. The bearded man nodded and repeated “My name is Go, my name is Go.” The bald man in the bright vest (I imagine he was a Thai food delivery man) soon gave up conversation when he realized his bench-partner was not at all lucid. He biked off and a homeless man took his place on the bench.

This homeless man meticulously picked at a slice of pizza from a paper plate on his lap.

When the pizza was all gone, the man tore the soggiest and sauce-drenched piece of the plate and ate it as well, nibbling and savoring.

The bearded man turned to him, as if suddenly inspired and said “My name is Go.” The homeless man was startled, but soon whispered back: “Mine too.” An odd couple, those men.

 

 

Shayna

The summer I studied abroad, I cheated on Matt. I blame my swollen nipples/ovulation. Take that back: I blame Roger’s gigantesque cock rubbing on me as we danced to reggaeton three drinks in, sweat, lights, it. Actually, I don’t blame him. Thank you, Roger; Matthew’s circumcised shrimp does not compare. Now, I am engaged. The diamond costs more than the roundtrip airfare + likely, Roger’s life savings.


Sara

He’s not going to text you back.


Boris and friends

“Enjoy the fruit of your labor, Boris. It’s not going to last.”

“Graffiti isn’t a sin, you cry baby.”“It is when you do it on a deaf mute.”“Guys, it’s a free country.”“...And it was just whipped cream.”


Amalia

Amalia and I went up to her room while the adults prepared Thanksgiving dinner. We found a disposable camera in Amalia’s mom’s panty drawer and we took it to the upstairs bathroom. There, we took off our tankinis and posed seductively, pressing our tanned flesh on to the mirrors and snapping shots. We practiced giving each other hickeys, those infamous blotchy stains we had attentively heard about in high school movies. They looked like berry-licked fingers at a farmer’s market.

Amalia’s mother came into the bathroom and saw us imitating pin-up models. She shrieked and grabbed the disposable camera and threw it on the ground. It cracked open and the film sputtered out. She grabbed the scissors from the kitchen and made slits all over the film while Amalia and I stood watching, naked. She said “Don’t tell Daddy about this camera.” She feigned calm and added, “And girls shouldn’t kiss each other like that!”

 

Mila

The police officer reprimanded me, saying I will be reincarnated into a bull. He squeezed up the back of my neck with his grimy peeling fingers as if I were a squealing pup. But I will continue to steal. Today, a wristwatch and a wallet, and I broke off a finger from a Bhavani statue. She is the mother goddess. I will keep it and place it with my altar. Around my altar I display my Sabin Rai CD, a photo of my ama and buba, and an old postcard a tourist gave me, of Cat Woman. When I cannot find sleep, I stay up and eat my peanut snacks and see my life is just like Cat Woman’s.


Therese

He bought me a gin and tonic. He called me beautiful. He kissed each notch in my spine. He didn’t show.

 

Olaya Barr lives in New York and writes fiction and translates and takes photographs, especially when she's in new countries. This is her photography site: www.olayabarr.tumblr.com