July 2004 / Volume Five / Issue Three / Online
Ralph Baker III
How My Last Band Broke Up

I used to get headaches all the time back then.

Jeff has just gotten robbed at gunpoint while dealing dope.
My brother was dating two girls (Shelley and Christine)
My girlfriend of two years was becoming anorexic.
I was doing a lot of acid and cutting myself up.

The four of us became a band.

Rhianne (my gf) came up with the name and the logo
That still adorns the top of my jacket
We practiced every weekend at Shelley's house
If by practiced you mean got really stoned.

I was becoming infamous
for taking the mics from the singers during shows
and beating my face into walls until I couldn't talk
I went home every night covered in beer and blood.

I used to get headaches all the time back then.

If there is a way to cure someone you love's anorexia
It sure as hell isn't yelling in public
about the cost of the buffet restaurant on prom night
when she only eats two pieces of lettuce.

Christ, I already said I was sorry.

Our first show was on a tennis court
Rhianne made out with Christine in the mosh pit

Then she licked the blood from my face
Every one of our shows was broken up by the police.

The day before our last show we lost our practice space
My brother broke a date with Shelly to go out with Christine,
so Shelly got so drunk she passed out-
and didn't hear when her daughter got her head caught
between the bars of her crib and strangled to death.

Our last show:
I lit my hands on fire and cut chunks out of my hair.
I had to buy the opening band a new mic-stand
When I broke someone's face with it
The civic center's owners made us stay behind
to mop up the blood (mostly mine) on the stage

Our show's finale was a wall of feedback
As we swung our instruments like weapons
Trying to fend off the people trying to unplug us.

And like that it was all over:
Jeff moved away to never be seen again.
My brother joined the navy
Rhianne left to live with her mom.
Shelly got back with her ex-husband.
And I went to college.

That entire year had felt like grasping
DESPERATELY
at a handful of water

A week  before:
Me, Shelly and Christine were on her back porch.
All the houses I couldn't afford
leaned in around us on fire.

The sky was moving like water.
Shelly refused to look at it.
She said she didn't want the acid

to cheapen her appreciation of nature.

Then the houses around hers melted into the back yard
the pool was rising so we had to go inside and climb on her table
Which became an island in an ocean of blood.
The tide was rising and we knew we were gonna drown.