Monday, August 2, 2010

Fall Metonymy

Bicycles, bastions, and battalions of paperclips. My head is a maze of metal and free-standing filo gunk. Alter arbitrary endings find us jaunting along the rifts of Mars for evidence of seashells, aliens, and microcosmic galaxies the size and shape of glass playing marbles, silty-sanded seawater blue in Florida's early June. Contrary to popular opinion, the masses have been realigned to find solace and slipsipious paramour along the shores of Eriadmoore beach. It is evident that even the apples on the fall trees speak of the summers spent growing, the microcosmic mosses of warm, moist fall afternoons, and the lighter, more delicate touch of sunshine that warms everything just enough, so that dew-cuffed courduroys and flannel shirts rolledup to the elbows promote a soft, just-warm feeling of red check and sweet green hay-grass partially cut to make way for paths between the fruit trees, carotid arthritic branches beckoning play and a climb to the top for the largest, most red apples. Fall is filled with anticipation of apple pies, rich oranges, blues and bumpy knuckle-knocked gourds rolling between haystacks and slow, rickety hayrides over mud-dusted dirt roads. Along the way, we spy orchards, netted blueberry gardens, rabbit holes, and miles of raspberry bushes, buzzing over with bumblebees and waxy-green folliage, chest-high and aligned in rolling road-rut patterns, and when perceived from afar, tastes like the quilt of my grandmother's summer parties and homemade apple pie. We roll home, full with the sugary-sweetness of caramel-nut apples and too many apple bites of braeburns, gala, and granny smith, to where hot tapioca fills the cavities of my mind, the egg whites just folded in and burning my mouth, my grandmother's, my mother's, and my own comfort food. Poets, scientists apple gatherers and literati collect on sunny late-afternoon orchard hills and look down on the September forests, green and lightly watercolored in reds, oranges, and yellows. The just-turning of the season not seen from gray-brown city streets and glowing radio towers comes into full bloom, a tempting scent, a black and white photograph of micological identification and sweet hay-grass apples, youthful profiles photographed on the hill, on ladders, baskets too full, the pickers too excited with the antiquated, intellectually quirky experience of gathering one's own fruits. The micology overflows the amateur literati, psychology, botanist, sustainable-scientist, biological programming, poets, and from this grows literature, twine-bound chapbooks, and a story read aloud on the banks of the dirt road beneath the pensive leaves falling to the sharp scent of detrital autumn: all that remains of the group on the banks, bags of apples in hand and time to pass.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

72 Hours in New York: Welcome to The L.E.S.

Suspender-hinged hipster madness. On every block, the unconventional is the conventional. Forty's curl-cut poof men's hair, swirl of soft-serve ice cream. Slender body in mustard yellow over-sized wide-leg pants and matching suspenders over a white undershirt, leavs out toward us from the bar, a cigarette in one hand, a hand on the doorpost of the one-hundred year-old building. He gazes at us in invitation, his eyes, wide, brown relaxed. New york is fast. It's midnight and hundreds of people are walking to their party, bar, and dance destinations. Girls in groups and pretty summer dresses, short and flirty, one-piece sheer jumpsuits, sheer lace over underwear and theater make-up seduces scurtive glance from girls and guys alike. One-thousand chili-pepper lights hang from an Indian restaurant, lighting it up like an shrine or the palace of the gods, such that looking in feels warm, inviting. To enter is to lie in a red tent on a hot sunny afternoon, the red light a slew of platic coated chemical primary colors, filtering in to create a warm, surreal, unearthly existence shielded from the outside world. Here, in New York, businesses must out-compete their competitors. Being one of seven Indian restaurants on the block does not help business, on the a-typical American block where more businesses spring up in the fertile soil of New York's newly gentrified lower-east side, presenting more business and services than there are diners and shoppers. Bars come and go within months, independent restaurants and businesses stay afloat awhile, then die out quickly. The ones that survive do it best, producing some of the most unique and delightful products and services in the country. Butter Lane specializes in rich, buttery cupcakes, frostings in a a variety of lemon, hazelnut, mocha, caramel walnut, vanilla and chocolate on your choice of chocolate, vanilla, or banana nut cake. I got the lemon-frosted vanilla cupcake. It was so rich and sweet. Its homemade perfection is undeniable. Across the street, the used bookstore sells thousands of titles a basement store no bigger than my bedroom, in a rectangular shape, the Lower East side has transformed the blank, even ugly forms of tenement houses and transformed them into million-dollar suites and some of the catchiest, most culturally ingenious restaurants, shops, businesses, bars, and nightlife hot-spots in America, so recently gentrified that gentrification is at once the appropriate word, and not. Garbarge litters the street the night before trash pickup day, sending visitors and residents the welcoming stench of raw garbage, girls in nightlife mini-dresses, arm in arm with ladies and men, step carefully over the soggy white bags in their silver stilettoes, the thin city trees giddy with colored lights and the anticipation of the evening, hot and broiling, oil left too long on the pan, and leaping at the taste of water. Ready, willing, able. The city reaches out, bites, looking for and creating energy: the men are light, sultry humid, and alarmingly awake. I outline my torso in nylon spandex of rubber-glove tightness and he in a shirt of tooth-bleach white linen to join a tipping point on the cusp of cultural greatness: the young, educated hipster subculture newly erupting from the vestiges of deep-seated immigrant culture and (literally) overnight forming a newly marbled cultural, entreprenurial, and creative upheaval of old immigrant and new immigrant, gaudily frosted with academic wealth within New York's Lower East Side. Welcome to Katz's diner.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Midsummer's Night Dream

Stage fright fascination impulse-roused into hand-grasp whipped on stange, some strawberry and whip-creamed nose-licking, whip you into shape spontonaeity, and above the lights in disco-ball palette of pink and green, and blue and silver throwing light and and giddiness into corners and revealing young Titanya in her butterflies and shiny purple hot shorts, and the fairies in their grease-chested face-painted dnacing exuberance. From the stage we dance, legs flying, shoulders and hips and hands shimmying, his hand motions forcing me into multiple vertical arabesques of compounded electric energy. The short glove-fitted dress hand-steps to the beat in furious energy, a blender of eyes and excitment, our eyes repeatedly engaging, we ramp up the speed, mere seconds in, the attendees wide-eyed and alert to the peacock pair violently, dynamically dominating the closing moment of the show, the music still playing as loudly and guadily as at the finale. Cracked sidewalks, flour-less chocolate cakes and karaoke binges, we twist and turn to 70's tuns and oldies hits, the fondness throwing us into flashback singing, each echoing the other in a chaotic harmonium: an aesthetic energy of the heart in which he initiates my top-spinning paripatitic tornado across the length of the stage, a stage performance of unparalleled tango-turn exuberance, when he leaps to the other end of the Midsummer night and from standing position, dives into the fifth dimension of my heart. Disco-ball darting about, his hands a-flame and hotter eyes, from position on his dance-floor stained knees, his dream-held eyes elicit my attention, and I am nothing but slightly stunned and obsequiously delighted. My arms find the space of time continuous, unerring and profoundly vast. His flagrant flattering nods to arms encircling my head in horchata, Mexican tortilla warmth and snapshot of shyness, the tea half-spilled in a return to Tityanya-shaped lust, toes respond to the beat of his hand pressure-points, endlessly revolving from his fingertips as I am improvisationally dipped backwards by him into the fish-eye lense of glitzy spectator-coated performance.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mid-Summer Morning: Ninety Degrees

Woke morning bath. Awash in wet water I wake in morning waterfall with wisteria dew. Sweet crystalline dawn drives bugs and bees to bed and leaves the morning to readers and parapatetic sleepers. Thick pages moist with steamy humidity, a basin of gelatin resin, just rising into rain, creepers slide gracefully beneath paving stones and second story 19th century palm-wide white-washed window frames. The silence broken by voices, clear and animated from somewhere among the multitudinous abodes outside the nearly floor-to-ceiling wire window screen, my back resting against the sticker-covered, soft, oak-varnished hardwood bedframe from someone's childhood era, the furniture passed down and shared, furnishing countless bedrooms before mine. Furniture I collected, was given from friends and the kind castoffs of departing students and other transient Brighton tenants. The dark brown vanished bureau carefully decorated with a metallic dinosaur sticker from 1989. The white light turns a soft, buttery yellow through the Venetian blinds, and I am aware of my body upon waking, that it is still wet, soaking, actually, just as much or more than the night before when I went to bed in my underwear with the subconscious expectation that it would be cool but not cold by morning, my damp skin dry and relieved from the moist cheesecloth of sunlit air moisture- at least 100 percent humidity. The sheets crinkle and past to my damp curls, white thights, arms shiny with perspiration. I revel in the embrace, the realization that this morning, this experience is mine and no one elses, a moment to be savored as one that does not happen often. Subconsciously, it is a moment for celebration. I reach over and open a new book, the story crisp, tantalizing, and utterly, profoundly unattainable in the capriciousness of its language and brings and unutterable pleasure to the perspiring peach flesh, whose each hair captures the moisture as shiny dewpoints on a hyperbolic curve. The torpid pastel-colored atmosphere is a body-temperature bath for the lungs. An iced lemonade flips a cat on its back, lands paws up in my head: a brain freeze of slinky-stepping awareness. The below-freezing temperatures of the liquid respond as pain within my mouth. I am consciously, pleasurably, aware. My bicycle-body glides cleanly through the outside air, the coolness of her body like just stepping into a seventy-two degree swimming pool in soft, medical gauzed morning. The crisp air rubs sleep from her eyes. She reminds me that I possess l'experience, and I know that I live just for these moments.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Lewis told her very young sister that he had planted a bomb inside her stomach at breakfast and if she talked it would explode. This was after a lengthy summer day where she would not keep shut. Lisa stayed quiet the whole day but nobody talked to her. Mom and dad went on about the neighbor’s yelling across the grass and letting the dog bark at their dog and their children running about naked once, and then the stuff about engineering and electricity and her mother’s students. Nothing about what she was doing at school or what rocks she found in the grass (she imagined that if all the rocks on earth were collected and then put together, they’d form one massive jigsaw puzzle. The final picture would be monstrous, and depict something divine, or even terrifying). After dinner mom and dad lounged in the living room watching TV: a football game. She felt so angry, her stomach was like a brewing volcano, her head nearly steaming. Intent on getting back at them, she creeped downstairs, and hid behind the couch. At the commercial break (for Budweiser beer), she crawled over the couch, jumped onto the cushions and bellowed “boom!” Mother was on top of faher mashing her hips into him. For the moment before her surprised they had been on top of one another, his legs embracing her torso, one pajama leg lay folded upon itself, revealing the curly hairs up to his large foot, while his right hand hugged her breast. They were quickly apart, her mother cried “what is it?” and faher just sttared, sweat on his forehead, waiting for an answer. “I scared you two?” Lisa could only think to ask. “Yes, of course you did; my heart’s beating like a crazy person.” Mother clutched at her chest, almost where his hand was earlier. Lisa ran back upstairs. She jumped on her bed, laughing. What a victory! She’d frightened the bosses, the two tyrants, very well terrorized them! She was a bomb. A human bomb, an h-bomb, and it made her so happy she could dance on the ceiling.


Tall boots, glittery chest, long black curly locks, coy mask, and most prominately of all, two glittering butterflies erect on her nipples, large pink, purple and gold gems, superbly placed over her white, larger than palm-sized breasts, two soft, full, pert-doves, alert, and ready for flight. The shadows of her breasts enhanced by the colored lights and overall dimness of the dance hall, casting a softer, cleaner, more mysterious hue over her turtle doves. She screams as her white-netted thighs are captured by two male-fairies, naked except for flash boots and glittery shorts or loin-cloths. In triangle-lift her thigh-high boots point and shine in violent anger- a fairy girl teassed and stolen by her love-potioned captors. Upon the matter black platform, among a shower of colorful metallic pieces, she teases, pounces, attracts a hummingbird to the violently Italian red fluted crocosmia with her delicate butterflies, so sweetly aligned on porcelain-white skin and long, dark chocolate curls all a-flutter and bouncing about wildly as she gaspls, opens her red-lipped mouth and yells out in surprise within their strong grip. Glitter pours down her thrust-chest, her arms wide, taught, grasping in their palms. Glossy boot toes forward, they throw her into the proffered arms of the Vinnies, spinning her into a disco-dancing toss-up between their afros and flared brown polyester suits. Fairies scoop up potions, solaciously delivering them to their precious flutter-busted female chanteuse, poetess of song and dance. Roses bitten in between pearly teeth, flung out to stage, to audience: at last fully in the dreamy embrace of their lusty love charms, the glitter fairy vixen demands her lovers.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A character: Cynthia

In the middle school the story went around amongst the boys and girls in the cafeteria, its brick walls thick with several layers of egg-yellow paint, that if you brush Cynthia’s long red hair, it’ll come out in lumps in your palm. This wasn’t true. Her hair was naturally pumpkin colored. They liked to say these things because they hated how huge it was. It shaped her head like a lion’s mane. It puffed up behind her, and she let it grow past her shoulders. When she was in her twenties her boyfriends enjoyed petting it. She liked saying she turned them into hairdressers. And she also prefered thickly built men, (she had a crush on Gene Hackmen from the time she was seven years old. ), who worked out chronically and could pick her up off the ground. Which could be difficult since she was six feet tall, even without the heeled boots she spent the mornings shining like dress shoes. They had to be impeccable.
Her freckles were another resource for teases in middle school. The girls named her ‘volcano,’ ‘pizza,’ or ‘pork’ (because she liked to roll around in the mud, or so they accused). The splattering of spots spread from the roots of her hairs down across her arms and under her shirt. Her face was layered in red-brown pencil marks. They lent the hue of her skin a fine pencil shading where the spots grew denser. They crowded thinkly on her shoulders, and around her flat bust. But much of her neck was clear. Like a sun spot centering her profile. She grew tough when it came to her freckles. As a kid she loved them. She would raise hell in the backyard woods, laughing as she spread dirt and clumps of soil on herself. A natural camoflauge, she called her frekles. Sticking out her toungue, sufficiently muddied, she’d sneak behind the other kids and jump out at them screaming “sasquash!!” These antics might have inspired the pork references later in her adolescence. By then she was growing insecure. The boys choined in the fun. Ten years from then she’d appreciate the freckle fetishers. They’d email her dating profiles and exlaim their worship.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At The Politik Republican

Musky soviet books and caffeine-free instant bitter toxified vacuum dried coffee remnants and ideas ideas ideas: the realm of Politik and cider, cacophany and eclectic bears dancing in duck-told Black & White ballet personification. The spoon jumped over the moon and ran away with the dish. One finds himself in a courduroy blazer in some Caucasus Eastern-European country fighting over political tyranny and strife in a three-times varnished cafe table and wooden chair, drinking vodka and tea from among the somnabulent light reflecting off the late evening snow burying window sills, slowly, mercilessly, in Stalinist-sacrilge mounds. Mounds and mounds of it sleeping, unaware, or if not that, submissively letting it cover all but the filthy windows of the grocery-turned-cafe. Black spots and white spots, who is to care? One snow, the other ash, grit, bits of unpaved road, unpaved life lived, strived, and beaten all the way to hell. The egalitarian life can only be found here where it is really needed. Where it cannot be heard. Where when it is heard it is responded to with red-striped papers, red-veiled women, red-paved backs, crimson-inked fingers. Yes, the poverty-ridden academic, tatooed blood-handed in political blasphemy, a fight for resources where none are had. Or, once had, taken from those who destroyed the pilgrimages of those before them. Biting, as heads from Dante's middle purgatory, chewing their way up the ranks in a plethora of inscisors, flesh and eyeballs. Hair and red mouths clawing at existence. Such is the Politik Republican. A front for an entrance into the worlds of the Middle Cacuasus, the crossroads of the world. A back entrace out of Socialistic barbarism to the liberalistic iconogrpahy of a new communism, only to replace one grizzly oligarchy with another. Blind elephant men leading the blind.

The new snow falls. The young academics at the window seats scowl, thrust fingers at much-abused pamphlets. A journalist walks in, bundled in a black trench, a little too-lightly dressed for the deep, merciless Eastern Eupropean winters. No one notices. Trosky-hair and turtle-rimmed glasses provokes another argument among his scholarly associates which ensues violently for a few seconds. Then another tremor. The earthquake finally settles and the dim light of the cafe gradually reveals the presence of the observer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Harvard Avenue: Samitic Quater

Sea-crusted bagels and jelly-filled cubic-shaped sugar pieces on just-baked bear claws. I love Sundays on Harvard Avenue, where bright sunlight reveals embroidered kepas on men's partially balding heads, tsit-tsi on children, side-locked curls down to their waists, a primary colored elephant-pattenrn on his head, small black shoes and gathered black dress pants struggling to keep up with this father's. Starchy-whites, a clean finish to the morning. Sidewalks filled with wide store-fronts of silver and gold, selling soft-cover children's stories in red and green cloth, elaborate silver candelbra menorahs, and smaller, simpler, clay versions in modern colors and styles. Sycamore bouldevards of mottled moss green and beigge dwarf girls in long skirts and sleeves, a long reveire into verdant summer of lawn mower buzzing and fresh cut grass, hostas, full, huge, overwhelming the garden plots and overflowing onto sidewalks and streets. White fence buffers to wrap-porch Victorians in pink, lavender, and buttercup, the purple flowers of the hostas shape-shifting into the milk-spotted asphalt. Plates of light sliding across teh road in response to a random number sorter: the theory of the universe is in this walk down Brookline boulevards of Jewish bakeries and boufant skirts, human life dwarfed by the elements and colliding, crunching, concentrated on city corners of spilt ice-cream cones, stained glass synogogues, colored lightbulb covered Sukkot, next to the mailboxes and parking meters, bubble gum patties, collecting here, and then moving outward in diminishing relief toward the park, the grassy square, then the woodships beneath the swings, and finally, curling back into the neighborhoods whose streets turn in on themselves or, due to some slight of hand, end abruptly in a carousel of flourescent orange lillies and scattered wildflowers like some mockery to the attempted outlier.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Solstice Day in Diorama

Ra lies on the grass, a beacon of sensuality, stretching out the days of summer like raw Mexican mozzerella stretched out on wooden rafts. All around him the world is amorphous, untouchable, unpresent except for the sky and the fact that I wish to touch the long, stretched out body of Christ. The white-cracked knoll smells like just-cut grass and brings back memories od Southern cream pies, large inland estates, and endless bayous filled with roots in the shape of Roman arches and waters so black they mirror jewelbug leaves and mosquito feelers in a tamped Roman mosaic. A waterly sleep sa dep and dark as the reservoir where the lady of the Lake lies in nocturnal somnabulance is residence to bees, flies, knats, watergrasses, and the occasional alligator. The scarlet ibis dreams in this paradise of Hester and Dimsdale, every minute more aware of the potential of place to isolate, grow and redeem oneself through the antithesis of reflection. The secrets of trees peel open the pearlescent nocturnal lilly, revealing intimate natural worlds within worlds. Red-apinted songs chortle mystirously from anong the reeds, and a nesting bird stirs from within the soft, black humus banks. I reach out and touch him, vying for sensory engagement, his presence a cacophanous escape from the rolled alligator nets of disciplinary focus. A relaxation piece has entered my control group and I struggle to reform the synaptic focus to Ra before me, a continual allegory of calm. I wonder how others fall into and out of the slippery bayous with ibis-like grace. Just to the left, the sky is overcast, and through the lens, a mauve-printed orange.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Solstice Day

Druids, hippies, revelers and curious spectators gather at Stonehenge, the neolithic arrangement of sun-beveling tablet stones and window-wide steps, shallow dips carved into the Beacon Hill of Cambridge. The spread of respite is a sight so rare it might as well be the city's grass farm, the emerald island farm supporting bodies in the supine position, several dozen Welwichia in the Sahara desert, thick brown tendrils the curly-nailed world record holder for longest nails, a foriegn biological taking hostage on the sands of the uninhabited reaches of the continent. The plant was only recently discovered due to its rarity and affintiy for vast, isolated parchment. On a hill across the pond, Celtic ancestors still invest mythology and spiritual meaning into the precariously placed megaliths, festivities in blue woad paint, pasted hunks of braids circling the head in evocative frenzy, the weighted acceleration an inverse relationship with the length of day. The charcoal woodberry-whetted backdrop of carnal vestments and vocalizations is a profession of European association with tribal origins, long attempts to snuff out histories of impecable Edwardian manners and the suffocating collars of Victorian prudence.

Dash surreptitiously into the late evening sunlight and the day presents itself as almost too early for a mead hall visit. Gaze through moist, syrupy air in search of a bean shaped automobile, and look upon a particular Welwichia that waves. "It's the longest day of the year," prompting excitment and the ensuing midnight dip into the nearest inky body of water, a glass of beer at the Politik Republican and a collection of beach rocks of Lost coast flowers. The solstice carnage culminates in the serendipitous hypocracy of lake-effect lunar mapping, the enjoyably unexpected passenger of a hurt bicycle, and the unwilling irony of sweet pickle turkey sandwiches in early morning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Swim III (Cont.)

Rembrant evocative kinesis pools into the lake-fulls of memory swallows. There is no hint of anticipatory repudiation slipping into the hippocampic repository. My axial nerves are as thick and sufficiently anesthetized in the grade B syrup, the watercolor painting of pink beach bodies and jeweled greens and blues a vibrant reinsertion to a place made closer to home than home by virtue of absence from it. The crocuses and pine-shaded daffodils ensconce a cool, unblemished reminder of possession, whereby a place remembered is thereby owned when turned over and over again in thick parchment creases of review. Plaster snakes crawl up the veranda and over the Roman arch leading to the kitchen, the closet bathroom, always cold in winter, misanthropically shunning visitors in winter, but close quarters with the grape-vine-covered window say otherwise, as if someone neglected to clip it away from view, intentionally unkempt. It is a place where forgetting is acceptable, even encouraged by grape-vine tendrils and leaves wider than the average palm, or any palm worth contemplating.

This is not my home, but every memory says it is, from the wind that slides through the porch window-casings as I read Catch-22 on the ancient brown and mahagoany flower-patterned divan, to the sounds of birds chirping vivaciously at dawn until they proclaim harbor in the New England attic treehouse, a tropical jungle as exotic and captivating as any balancing the Equator. Thick, blue-striped sailor canvas is parted to let in the sunlight that trickles through the north-facing valley, pine boughs, wide red-varnished window casings, and finally, wooden venetian blinds. Next to me, voices carry up from the drive three cool stories below, and I prepare to slip my book into the floor-to-ceiling casings on the left wall. I read over this cove of memory until worn smooth, transmutated and objectified.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

First Swim II (Cont.)

A tease like some Appalachian ideograph, it is more pronounced the longer I am away from it. What makes this day the first swim? Warmth of the water, length of the day, time of the year, returning the way a memory returns like a tulip, a forgotten planting, and suddenly discovered by the front door, pert and demanding. I know I come here every time just for that, the smoldering of ember-caught recantations, lake-side reeds blazing in violent flame. And oftentimes, the mental rendezvous become watershed memory themselves. Settings in silver meld into willow drapings and canoes bouncing gently against the banks. Silver glasses, an embroidered cloth-wrapped basket of challah as the centerpiece, a vivid table-cloth announcing Friday's rest and taking of bread and wine, silt finally disturbed by the first warmth of the season, rendering the water viable for mikvah and long weekends of violently verdant greenery. Awareness. Mindfulness. Alabaster careening ardently measuring day-length. I want to jump with innocuous serendipity into this carefully constructed kaleidescope of chlorofil-birthed eroticism at will, but it is a hipocracy that occurs only once every harvest moon or so. A photograph slipped out in an unorganized attic pile of musk-laden once-savored instances. What is their value now? How shall I place or displace these memories? What is the value in drawing them up (or forcing them back down?) I still play this one because like seeking out an end long sought, I have never been so vitally charged. The central kinesis of wavelength vibration in my cells turns over and over like bread dough at noon in mid-summer and radioactively reconstructs my DNA. I am proteinaciously different. I am, literally, not what I was yesterday. Remnants drag along, a bracelet carried, dropped, stepped on, and one day gone without notice, an absence noted with poignant awareness, the way spotting a lady-bug corpse in dead-winter will pour June lady bugs from window screens for weeks afterwards.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Swim

Brandy drip intoxication. Some legion away I see the rocks and remember it was about this time last year when memories were formed. They coagulated like mozzerella cheese under enyzymatic influence, curds carefully forming within my fingertips like clouds on a mission to reform the tapestry of the sky. Across the lake are the rocks on which I sat and contemplated ulterior possibility, the possibility of which had never felt real until two people with bicycles thought it was, and then it was almost as if it was. The water refrains from being room temperature despite the sudden deck-card fall of warm days preceding it, but I slide close to shore and dip a hand into something as hot as urine. It is not until about ten minutes out (some floursecent bikini on the dock belies my undercover nature during this illicit activity) that I smell the lake, and everything flows back in carotid waves. I miss that blood, the taste and smell of it, now like some lost opportunity snowed over and in the spring, last winter's remnants remaining like dead leaves, still wet and preserved in blocks of ice, unwanted, distateful in the shock-white light of new spring. My skin was never as eggshell white as when I looked at those leaves, two albino pidgeons in Kansas. Like some Neitzchean revelry, I come to the conclusion that Saturday afternoons are best spent listening to (not waiting for) trains passing lakeside, a reed strewn shore beveling a wire fence and a signed marked "warning" in muddy orange and black, unobtainable except by the few willing to cross the entire lake, a promontory of granite just large enough for sitting and sought so occasionally that they carry memories the way rocks weight debris on the bottom of the lake, a sink for particles, properties, and memories waiting to be tapped by the unsuspecting bather.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chapter I: The Visit

Nord and Elsie live in the Netherlands. It is often cold and dark there. One afternoon at 4 p.m., after the sun had laready made significant progress below the horizon, Elsie showed up at her front door in leg warmers and a paper bag filled with groceries. She proceeded to unlock her door. Nord lived next door. He often worked on personal projects in his one-room apartment with poor window seals. Nord occasionally said hello to Elsie when he had to squeeze by her on his way to work, since the hall between their doors was so narrow that two people with bags could barely fit. On the occasions when he said this, she began to wonder how Nord spent the long winter evenings in his apartment, but she thought better of it and proceeded to greet Gerta, her cat. During a wind-storm (which happened frequently since this was the Netherlands, which is a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides), the whole house moaned like a wet chickadee who has lost his mother and will not be consoled by peanut butter sandwiches (which is often what two partially unemployed artists could afford). Nord and Elsie kept to themselves on such occassions. Christmas was near and Nord bought a wreath. Elsie bought a Christmas tree, the tiny boughs blanketed in bales of snow. She pinched the top in the foyer door. Nord found her taking a rest on the stoop, mountains of powder hiding her all but her flaming red cheeks from view. Nord wanted to make chicken soup. He was starving. He saw her and proceeded to open the door and drag her tree up the three flights with one gloved fist. He dropped the snowy evergreen sapling in frong of her door and bid her a good afternoon. She expressed gratitude and proceeded to drag the melting tree into her apartment. The sun disappeared and Nord cut carrots and onions and thought about all the water that probably pooled in the hallway as a result of that little tree. The hall smelled like pine trees for days afterwards.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lora B's Week in Review

This week I found two tea bags in my cup after drinking my tea when I clearly remember putting in just one, chopped the tip of my thumb off with a cleaver while cutting frozen strawberries, and sat in the ER all day. They stabbed me with needles, then I went to the movies afterwards, planned to work out, never did, hung out with drew, met Bernard, pinched his zits, and when we got home Lars was chopping down the weeping baby redwood. I yelled at him, washed my dog, Melissa, in lavender-scented bubble bath, watched Nanna sift cake flower all over the kitchen floor and fell into bed at eight twice.

Next week I'll trim the hedges, plan a trip to the UK, make macaroni and cheese from scratch with swiss, mozzerella and extra sharp Vermont cheddar, and with any luck, get sprayed by a skunk in mid-July, and rinse, wash, and repeat in a tomato juice bath, preferably a claw-footed one placed precisely before a North-facing window in summer, the sill reaching the ground in a V-shaped attic roof with summer white light flooding in all over, and hopefully paint Elsie's room powder pink.

Today my finger is sore and now the tip is gone, but the bossy RN sewed it back on like a champ. Now it looks like the scar on Tim's Ninja bunny (baby Kat calls in frank'n sty bunny.) I can't play guitar but I can still jump into Newt Pond at night when no one's looking and make one-bowl brownies with nine fingers. I live a crazy life and cannot wait to find out what will happen next.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Midnight Swim

Charcoal black organdy of liquified carbon compounds welcomes an evening dip. Black mirror panels contract with globe viscosity in the wake of our globular progression, relaying sonar rings in blip-timed contractions to every bank. Several hundred feet away, across the lake, flame-dipped fire panels flicker wildly in shear-sheen over the black hole. A train chases Pluto back into the molten center of the Earth, teases the the water in a smash of blanket show, hurdling back into the underworld and folding the fabric of space-time sixteen times before the rocket sound waves are swallowed by a sound pocket. It careens from one dimension of existence to another, squeezed and exhumed via peristalsis as quickly as eels form the eleventh room, displaying a last epoc-swelling whose bursting seams bely the locamotive's breach-of-light speed. The pond has never been so still, a glassy-eyed portal into the isotopic propetiation of elemental magnesium and spelunking swans. A comatose eel undulates into view, and our arms moving into the rest, define the center of the lake. We are able to preceive a tiny bit of information in our environment, an ultra-violent flower in violation-blue, a fraction of the potentiate energy of the universe. White diorama dive into liquid crayola of finless fish, where from the flotation device of our pulmonary organ we throw back our heads and fish-lens the universe within the lakeful meniscus, altering perception indefinitely, retroactively, and violationally. The vulnerability of flesh-time is an instant too small to be documented in the ticker-tape of space-time records (in the stars, asteroids, more likely just lint flung into vapidity, or caught, suspended in the green Jell-o matrix of infinity.) We slip on our black-light wetsuits, butterfly with the speed of mosquitoes through hot pancake syrup and strike out for the docks, our bodies thumb-manipulating the hot wax figurine of lake-space.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Flagellent arabesque of minks and alluete beuaty. Lepidoptera circles violently in the dirty hall light. "Lynn told me about a job." Carotid artery elementals, yellow shirt flourscents couldn't compete with the scent of must, settled wood, and aged paint chemicals. Santana would have told me not to care, not to dream and to stop reflecting, but isntant coffee is hard to put down with the memory of awareness tastes like the time my first crush thrust a bent paper-clip into the chem lab light socket to amuse me. A ball of lightening shot out toward his crotch, scared him a little. A funeral pire is lit somewhere, and his body is a linograph of surprise, hesitation. Swallowing raw anchovies is easier the way his body tenses up and he thinks about whether he should open the door. In the corner of the hall, Tinneola Bisselliella's accelleration is now so great that the centrifugal forces thrust her back into the panache arc before the neurons can connect and the mouthless arbiter gyrates as purposelessly as a honeybee on speed. We are only as strong as our followers. Our followers only as strong as our beleif. I waited paitienly in the hall and thought of tyring to catch it, but I feared my nervous energy manifesting itself as child's play, or worse, desperation. Lepidoptera continues to lithograph beige asterists into tthe torpid darkeness when he arrives, gives me Lynn's address. Cavendish doesn't leave one thousand seals on the beach with their babies. I stop him. In his politeness he waits for words. They come. He quickly eyes my apperance for ulterior motive, as it seems to be, there alwyas either is one, or he's looking for one. Either way, the perception of light is a lunar body shooting so close to the source that it turns in on itself, as a satellite in orbit continually flying in one direction but so close to the gravitational pull that the direction of a straight line is mearly a turning in on oneself. He knows some of this, but not enough to ignore Lepidoptera's continual dive for the luminary bodies, suggesting that he, too, is a pawn in Poseidon's particle accelerator. I take the piece of paper from him, leaving Lepidoptera to silently render summer in shorn paper sheaths, a revelatory path for inking cannbis into fetid pipes of gray ash logs and astronomical observation. Epistulary service and corrusion commentary of alkaline properties sinks into curmudgeon corollary of burned last rights. I grasp my variegated lithograph of collective becoming and leave the rest to settle, smolder, and disperse.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moth Sightings

She looks so slender in that smooth black sheath, legs bandage-wrapped tight, shapely, long and oh, so smooth. Swimmer's legs, I'd assume. Tiny waist and flat stomach accentuated by that long exposed zipper running down her back. Her chest a pert medium, two round, cup-sized breasts palced just so, accompanied by the firm curve of the back and the backward angle of the arms that speaks to an athletic predisposition ofr high lung capacity and significant upper body strength but with the small-boned delicateness and slender muscled upper-body of a cat. Even her angled jaw said as much with two hazel eyes, always pertinently alert and deeply set, presenting a cool shaded appeal through which no eye shadow could be seen, and a triagnular jaw ending abruptly so as to give no attention to itself but to the mouth, full-lipped and ready.

We were to go swimming yesterday night at Carol Lake, but she said she had plans. I couldn't wait. I kept envisioning her athletic body sliding right-toe first into the liquid black water from where she sat on the dock, illuminated by the moonlight, the sleeping residences huddling up to the banks admist trees and overgrown grass such is found near lake edges. Her smooth pearlescent body glowing coolly in the moonlight, all curves and eerie white, made sensually rounder by the shadows shocked into being by the abundant moonlight. She slips in leaving only the sound of slipping. Where her body disappeared, rings undulate outwards one after another, continually being rebirthed from the center and expressing outwards through thick, surupy black coffee. The water is so still at this time of night with a surface like hot glass, all wonder and lollipop effervescence.

From where I sit among the short weeds, a bank of civilization, well-worn and well-tamped, I smell algae, cattails and the alkaline smell of grass, not recently cut. Across the lake a small white boey comes to my attention. Her head. She waves. I guess I have to go in now. The chill in the air is intimidating and I hope that the water is warmer. It is. I see her head, slick with wet black hair glide back beneath the water before her white rump, the last thing reflected by the moonlight before she disappears again, is a perfectly white round spider's egg, poised, obsequious, ready for arthropodic insemination. I imagine her body, slippery with algae and organic compounds as we tread water in the center of the lake, that grin of hers, too hard for me to keep up with. She slips out a gain, away, laughing. Her teasing in annoying. I freestyle after her toes and she laughs harder when she notices that I am unable to catch her. No win. I tread water where I am, hoping she'll come back to get me. She does. While I am waiting, I think of us in a canoe, curled up tightly against the night air, two caterpillars quickly batting a cocoon before dawn. The only view is the one of outerspace, a million lightining bugs just flung out like the offspring of rabbits after a particularly pleasant Sunday. She'll swim with me tonight. I'm sure.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Russo-ubero quietude. I know not what to do with you. Collective incompetente meistroso ideograph chalked out in charcoal awarness. Your eys are bark brown amber lollipops of you, cooled sap of glucose polymers, presenting a glass wall through which I can only occasionally see and hear you. I listened and you listened more. I knew not that human beings could do thus: a humano-sensitivity that thrusts me through a juicer of citirc acid limelight of 50 billion gallons and 20 mph. For you every fruitation is a meaning attempt to create more, an impression on human history that will last the stretch of time. And why not? We have what we think. We think what we have. And soemtimes, when we think thus, others think after us in a simiar fashion. Or they think we're crazy. The risks are those that the great and the insane have taken. The boundary is as subjective as who prefers Grandma's bnana cream pie to Aunt Etna's banana cream pie. It is who supports your cream pie with staunch determination that you hold and protect in your legion, and all others are enemies, destroyers of your carefully defended fleet. You, my luminary illuminated graceful metaphors beneath the spotted porchlight with highly selective cheesecloth and the sensitivity of my best friend's mimosa. Best friends are always tres sensitive. They spend time in granite caves and dance gracefully around memories of two-and-two. The pleasure we take is still there, now a group of pages only shaded by ochered-lamplight, aged, curled, biology scented and salt and earth warmed, wormed your way into my permanent memory the way I'll always remember the first time I left the sand box when I was two and ran all the way to the Stop and Shop. The sudden Neitzchean realization of self was too crushing to bear. My consiousness reformed the way raw eggs break and reform synaptic bonds over heat: more quickly that yellow ducks can fall from the sky under schizophrenic mania. I am as Daphne in your silt-soft hands of mineral cool sliding over and over and over the way a forest reclaims the salt march, unwittingly to the forest, the trees and the animals that populate it, determinately to the history of marsh-forest reclamation patterns. I decorate summer ice halls with your image, only now it is mine reflected a thousand times in cacaphony. Let's chew negativity on a sun-formed hill and feed just-torqued ice cubes to geese. I miss that awful permanence.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thursday Night Tapas and Tamales

Spanish undulating pinata rump-whacking, she shimmies into her jaw-dropping hot rumba, the growls to which even earthquakes eveolulavulate. They turned the tables, the chandeliers, and shocked the mirrors black when they came tumbling in, met their masters, and knew not what they had done. A daring young lad swivels her close, fingers as firm and guiding around the well-thumbed viola, her back thrown into the arc de triumph over his left knee, and deftly marking the tip of the leaning tower of pisa with his lips, flings her into an arabesque, spinning galaxies into dancers with cabaret knee-high kicks and chorus mimicry alternating with the slithering ditherer of a dolled temptress of rouge and curled eyelashes all a flutter with sighs and giglgles. A rowdy bunch of philandering love-buggers throw bottoms around like hot tamales in homoerotic mischief, a slap for each one of their toasty bombas sends them scurrying into the twist and, after a shout, tumbling back into her uninhibited palms for hot bacon. Saucer-eyed and dreamy-handed they melt flan-style over each other in the snakey amigos flare of flash-in-the-pan comraderie. The room is scorching like capsacin in a white woman's mouth and men shake peanuts in hot oil as two open mouths ring on a dime with a fire aphid chorus of bad romances and twist and shouts. The flambe female fire ping-pongs itno arms and around tapping sunday-formals, and like a waterfall thrusts inhibition into the farthest reachesof alter-emptiness. She is sliced carotid artery free. Fire feeds on tree. Tree feeds on CO2. And the energy form both is unstoppable. Flung salada into the starts, he grips a warm tamale and with an axial twist of the wrist, jallolopies her free to unravel the twine and burn on her own circumnavigating grape-stomping kinesis.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday Evening Visit

It wasn't until yesterday that she recognized the owl flying overhead. They both knew it was there, but months later, it was a harpie who had not yet found a place to nest. She just thought she'd swing by on a whim. They say ghosts don't know what to do with themselves when locked in closets, so they pound and pound for days on end. Until someone chooses to hear them. He still pounds. She rang the buzzer throwing away all of her inhibitions. Screeching is heard just outside the door. The Mediterranean rolls without break or violence. It is easy to do when there are no longer any expectations. A moth moves violently in the darkness of the hall, spinning in erratic cirles in some arabesque, just moving. She tries to catch it. In the lack-light he listens to her question. His eyes follow her face, down to her watch, gold on the left wrist highlighted in the musk-hall, arms brown with hay-rides and chariot-racing. She wonders if he notices that she always dresses with him in mind. A few questions later and his tone of voice betrays his fears of future engagements. Agamemnon could not have lost more to Iphagenia. She steps away from the pire, puts on her mask, and greets the owl.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rose 1

The day grew long, and the sky was lit a pale green. Rose looked out the window and saw a transparent reflection of herself; the bone of her cheek, the hollow under her right eye, the steep, upturned nose. She found the train ride soothing. Out the window, the world moved by, flat and endless, and her reflection ghosted through it. At 7:15 she arrived at the station. She lifted down her leather suitcase and carried it out to the platform. Now the sky was a dull grey and Rose was discouraged. It looked washed out; rain would come, and she had to hurry. She looked down at her low heels; they looked shabby and beaten, but at least her wool skirt and her blouse were neat and pressed. Her hair was tied back rather severely, revealing a hairline set far back.

She chose not to take a cab and walked the half mile to the address her sister gave her. The streets were not familiar and rose took a few wrong turns before she reached the austere brownstone—a mansion really. She hadn’t been around city people much and wasn’t certain if she looked correct. Would they see her mismatched clothes, her old shoes, and assume she knew know better?

Rose glanced once more at the slip of paper Ellen had given her. It had been folded so much that the paper felt soft as cotton now, but she could still read her sister’s neat script. The address was correct, and she was at her destination.

Monday's Portrait

I spy X in her red boufant and dark glasses, her form wrapped deliciously in black and earth tones, flagrantly blowing smoke from violently red burlesque lips. Her uncharacteristically nonchalant left hand waves languidly. Trotsky couldn't have taken a better picture Y's black-rimmed (should have been turtle-shell rimmed glasses) throw me back into Russian nonchalantism: deep dark choclate cake laced in acidic raspberry. I embrace their matching forms, soft-bodied, darkly-hued, they stand out in this city's humid June. I lust after Y's Nobokov, hints of Eastern Europe, still heavily buried in hardened frost, even in early summer. Russian biographies, autobiographies and a tall glass of bourbon warm my summer cavern of literary memory: what may not be known is that the biography has yet to be distilled. Like a pistachio ice cream, I cannot yet determine the origins of this particular tastebud of desire, but it is unquestionably present. As elaborate and surreptitious as peeling back the thick, sticky layers of wet filo pastry, we are privy to the intimate slant on personal experience painted black iwth an unassuming but violent account of history. The Romanovs could not have left a more intriguing corpse behind. And, as ever, there is the the subtle unveiling of the author him/herself through such a writing. What caramel color is boiling up, burning us, and then hardening into sweet summer treats the moment touched? I'll pick up Trosky's autobiography tonight, and behind the flagrant facade, the clamshells'll fight.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rose 2

After she rang the bell, she felt a shiver run through her. The silence was so absolute, and it seemed to take an age before anything happened. Rose shifted her weight, patted down her skirt, wondering if she looked presentable. Perhaps not. It had been so long since she had bought new clothes. These were old, but when she chose them out to pack, Ellen agreed that they would be acceptable.

A woman opened the door. “Yes? Hello?” It seemed to Rose as if this women were looking at something in the distance past her, rather than her. She was old, as Rose knew she would be, but her body was squared in the door and unmoving. She did not look fragile, despite her thin frame and the wispy white hair that formed a halo about her head.
Rose, after hesitating, extended her hand; “I’m Rose McGann. Ellen’s sister.”
“Yes, of course. I was expecting you. I am Mrs. Stevenson. Millicent.”
The older woman’s hand felt dry and papery, and Rose was afraid that her she was perspiring and the woman would feel it.
“Come in, please.” Mrs. Stevenson turned and walked into the ill-lit lobby. Rose followed with her suitcase in her hand.

How strange to be in a house not her own. The ceilings were high and everything smelled of wood and rosewater – like church when her mother and father would take Rose and Ellen as children. It smelled like the holy water and the old pews that creaked as you knelt or sat.

Mrs. Stevenson walked in front of Rose without turning back and without talking. The paintings and flocked wall paper were too unfamiliar, so Rose looked at the back of the older woman’s head, the stooped shoulders and craggy neck. It seemed more comforting to be looking at another person – even the back of another person – rather than the formal and expensive-looking furnishings.

Manhattan Summer

White dress, languid grass. Popsicles lie here licking ambient music dripping red sugar as far as the day is long. A brown reed draws a permanent marker stripe from her chin to her kenes on her eggshell silk dress, erupting into a cattail-brown flower. Her lover, friend, or otherwise colloquial companion shares this space between her arms on the Washington Square lawn. Children, adults, girls, boys, dogs sprint solicitously through the orbed-fountain, the visitors in their summer informals. No one is a tourist here. Flourescent bikins make an entrace. Breezy kitch and drop-gap curiosity arrives from the artistry of neo-human hipster decoration. "Look over there!" A baker's chocolate-burn: a tall young man in 19th century garb waits for attention, receives it, and proceeds into the falafel house across the street. Rock music rolls out of ice cream vans and violins from Italian restaurants: where is Benito Mussolini when you need him? Veni veno viti. When does one begin to recall Mozart's Austrian organdy of rash ornateness, a genius life shortened by excessive work that bites at the quick of my subconscious youth? A violin conjures Kabbalah demons of Saul Bellow, Chaim Potok's curly-sided chasidim, and their collective archaic movement of striving-to-all-odds soaks the humid pages of a discovery of Judaism in America. At the intersection of Macdougal and West Third Streest, a Taiwanese man an a Bostonian take cold water and iced cofee at an Italian cafe. A fat man with oily brown skin croons to a hummingbird. The studded ukele throws up dust, bicyclists, hot oil, women in colorful summer sheers, roast shawarma. Fine-fingered Ash tosses white light in various forms of smirk across stuccoed residence-shops. Without purpose. A man walks by. Shouts to a couple across the street, sidwalk. The burnished orange taxis and chain-slung bicyclists green him tangentially. A carful dance ensues.

A puzzle, a spot of sushi. Sometimes the body needs to take its time. She falls alsoeep in a couch facing Heldstrom street, watches people kiss, a woman wating for the bus in front of a five storey green facade, a rush of burnished orange cabs forming beads of orange juice from under a blinking light. Neitzche does not live here. Where exhaustion is now just a state of mind of chronic becoming, she wanders through the MIT museum and midnight cross-word puzzles at Toscas. The girl on the couch does not notice her chest, which has for many hours now presented a pool of water. Her thoughts are focused on the continuity of events. Nothing tastes like orange juice here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Paragon Carousel in Hull

The horses roll their eyes, the whites like the froth of the sea below. Some hold their mouths open, baring teeth. I wonder if the children are frightened by the carousel horses – their stiff lacquered manes and ears. Nothing soft about them. The wooden floorboards creak as the next round of people walk the circular platform picking stationary or bobbing horses. For the placid mothers, there are upholstered carriages that do not move.

One white horse has a row of teeth like checkers, maenad hair, and two front hooves raised in martial posture. Fiercely flowered, with colored bit and bridle. The greens and reds and blues are as bright as maypole colors and as steady. How many licks of paint have the carousel horses had in their hundred years?

The attendant rings the bell, and they are flying. They circle and circle on their metal poles. Children look at the carnival lights and mirrors on the center column. They look at the painted panels with rose-cheeked girls, country apple scenes. The riders move with grace, feet swinging or placed on the metal stirrups.

Below the beach keeps beating time to the organ music. Clouds grow dark and low, but the tide rises and falls as it has to with a percussion that the walkers on the boardwalk can hear. They walk parallel to the ragged hem of the sea, but they keep their feet dry. They walk in fours and twos, straggle with ice cream. Despite the cool and the heavy sky, they walk.

Close readings of fake novels (part 2)

.......On a first glance the reason behind this short feat was a test of will and a test of style. With sentences like “George licked the popsicle with exuberant glee. The hot air in Italy rendered the pale-handed man a sweltering sprinkler. In George’s snow-white palm, the popsicle had no choice but to give in to the greedy purpling tongue,” the author believes a tango-line of epithets superior to any possible application of “he, she, it, etc.” It’s a peculiar way to go, but as I got into the story (filled with action, suspense, cliffs, and mystery ice cream!), I found I didn’t miss the little buggers, and for a time I even began referring to my friends by their proper names:
Me: “Did you hear what Laura said! Laura said that Jerry met with Laura’s brother, and Laura’s brother and Jerry are planning a surprise party for Peter, but Peter already asked Jerry and Laura’s brother and Laura over to Peter’s house for cake and booze that night, so Laura is worried that Laura’s brother and Jerry will allow Peter to have two birthday parties, when Peter only deserves one after running over Mr. Winkle’s cat Mr. Winkles Jr.”
Listener: “who did what in the who now?”
On the other hand, I found another novel written by a 45 year old woman who works at a Laundromat, where her novel disregards all names in place of pronouns. Hers is an erotic novel, with lines like, “He licked his dripping popsicle roughly, taking the time to rub his base as if he were drying him off from a quick swim in a pool; a pool, that is, of his semen,” that remind me of an Oroboros.

An Award for Living Life

Some people are really good at life. Tchaikovsky was really good at directing ballet, Mozart really good at composing classical music, Marylin Monroe was really good at acting and singign, and the Cohen brothers are really good at directing movies, PHilip Glass was really good at Composing Minimalist classical music, CHarles Bukowski was really good at short stories and poems, and Judge Learned-Hand was really good at writing unprecedented judicial decisison. According to many, these people shoud get the award for the skill of livng well, because admit it, some do it better than others. SOme are famous geniuses (ahem, Einstein?) and some are homeless bums. Some suck at living life. If so, do they fail out, gean F, a slap on the writs, a letter inked onto paper? Or, if ew fail at life, is it always as significant (or insignificant) as death? Does natual selection take its course for those of us stupid enough to get ourselves selected out of this particular time or ways, this flicker of time reminiscent of television channel flipping?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Close readings of fake novels (part 1)

There are certain modern texts to consider before the na├»ve author attempts to carve out of her/his short lifespan that primitive creature known as “the first novel.” As books reviews are shaven down in newspapers to three paragraphs and a parenthesis, and talk shows reserve their author interview spots for memoirists, historians, political junkies, former junkies and make-believe politicians, the history of the contemporary novel has not only gone underground but evolved rapidly. They say if a group of animals are separated on an island from their predators on the mainland, they then speciate widely and freely according to this new environment. With that in mind the American novel has struck ahead in its invisible corner for the last two decades with only minimal notice from a dozen websites which themselves have populated in the air like pollen invisible to the human eye (re: average American consumer), far from Google or Yahoo. Certain reasons for this mess: bad marketing and publicity on one hand, and the small press market which lack the colossal arms of the larger publishing groups. That, and the slow destruction of any business model for marketing books towards the general population.
But putting that behind us it’s up to the critic, or the first time novelist, to search out these lost books from across the country. Several interesting books have already surfaced. One book, Finding the Lost, was a heist fest where the goal is the original plates of the Gutenberg Bible, where the author wrote a consistent 350 page novel without a single pronoun.......

Friday, June 4, 2010


I have to breath. When I first started to consciously inhale and exhale, it reminded me of a soft walk. After a few blocks you begin to forget you are walking. If you just turn that part of your mind off and concentrate instead on a street sign, the museum of science architecture the girl walking up there, then you don’t notice the decision to walk. But I’ve lost automatic breathing. There are some stretches of obliviousness. Until that ultimate, terrible, panic-striking fact that I have to remember to breath, breaks through my thoughts like a stroke. My muscles tingle. Since my thoughts are stunted, like a stalled train, I have grave difficulty with simple activities like remembering which street leads to the convenient store, remembering to watch for a red light, or where I placed my phone. On top of that I cannot sleep. Let us be honest now, this is giving me a stunted life expectancy. Four, five days maybe. Where are my glasses? Wait, if I stop breathing they’ll come back to me. On my head. This is no way to survive.
I had no reason to drive through Boston on the last leg of my trip. Except to see Naoimi. And doesn’t she have all the luck now, she’s got the winning lottery ticket and could cry for joy! Except that is it, she cannot. The disease has given her permanent indoor voice. She can’t shout, or yell, or scream, only speak in a dull, banal volume only a note above a whisper. While I’m satcheled with brain death and suffocation; and to think, just last night I was having a wonderful dream about the first crush I ever had, a girl with short cropped hair, jewel eyes and a bountiful rack, meeting me on a train here in Boston. My alarm clock broke us up. I wanted to see where we would go next, and I hoped to returned to that dream tonight. I’ll only see her again when I’m dead.

Swim 5

Back in the hotel room, Jack brushed his teeth, watching himself closely in the mirror. How hyena-like he looked with his teeth bared as he brushed them, his lips pulled back enough to show the gums. And how neat the hotel room was. Everything in his place. Plastic Dixie cup with strange-tasting, almost sweet, water. Hotel soap, unused and wrapped in paper on a little dish by the sink. He liked clean hotel rooms—they way they looked wrapped, and complete, and contained. Particularly hotel bathrooms. Endless clean white towels, a paper strip over the toilet seat cover. He hated removing that paper strip. It seemed to sully the room in a way that could not be changed.

He was not used to staying in hotel rooms alone. When Sarah was alive, they took a few trips a year. Sarah liked to find bed and breakfasts in Vermont or New Hampshire. Places with floral curtains and high piled beds. She loved old places that smelled of cedar and mahogany. Fireplaces in the dining room and the owner’s black lab in the garden. The room he was in now was nothing like those places, but he liked it. He liked the wrapped soap and starched towels and the tightly made bed. His own clothes he had folded away in the dresser, everything in its own compartment.

Sleep came quickly and as he lay in bed he felt the pull of the ocean at him as the edges of his mind grew quiet and everything got dark.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Swim 4

As it got later in the day, he rolled up his towel and left the beach. A fine warm shower. He enjoyed how hot and how clean the water felt after the sea. And when he closed his eyes, he could still feel the current rocking him. He breathed in the clean laundry smell of his folded shirt and enjoyed the crisp coolness of it in his hands for a few seconds before putting it on. The white linen looked stood out brightly against the tan of his skin, and in the mirror he was pleased with his reflection, the warm brown of his arms, the hairline barely receding, the fine wrinkles around his eyes.

He left the hotel room again to walk along the Marginal Way and to get dinner. It had been his routine all week. The waiter nodded at him in recognition and brought him a basket of fried clams. Not greasy enough to saturate the paper sheet underneath. His beer was cold, and he could drink without thinking too much. At the table next to him a middle age couple were talking loudly about something. Their adult son who had just gotten divorced, it sounded like. The woman spoke with animated gestures, threw her arms up in sharp, birdlike motions that set her bangles jangling. The man seemed to chew deliberately, and Jack thought about how he looked eating food. As he chewed on a fried clam, he wondered if he looked as slow and deliberate and ruminative.

gallery of characters

--he doesn’t like rain, nor does he like umbrellas—he says they break fifteen seconds after he touches them—and he is shy, has a good sense of dry wit, and can never scream.
--she scratches the skin above her ear, makes faces at sparrows and children, deplores all forty-nine years she’s been on this planet while defending every decision she’s made, and enjoys tea in the morning
--she is physically ideal at 63, can lift packages better than any 21 year old, has strong muscles, likes clean humor, never curses, believes in traditional marriage, and adopted two children since she is barren. She once fought a man who was mugging her at night, and won.
--he rides the train studying Chinese, trades on his computer during the day, never leaves the house on Saturday after converting to Judaism, is over protective of his mother and had only one girlfriend, but broke up with her for he “bad habits” and “bad attitude” toward her own family.
--he is a man with a slouching belly, recognizes a fine cigar, plays chess with one of the masters at Harvard Square as a weekly ritual, has had many lovers and hates himself for failing them again and again, owns a chain of Starbucks, likes to play the lovable uncle angle.
--she had long black hair, black-rimmed glasses, a sloping chest, and talked incessantly of her coworkers not doing their job—her voice jumped from tenor through soprano, and reminded her roommate of a stuttering radiator.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Swim 3

Now, more than 20 years later, the sand still feels good. The firmness of it. He would swim with Sarah. She would test it with her toes first. He was always surprised – suddenly tender – at the sight of her toes, pink and vulnerable. The nails of them looked like little shells, the wet lacquer of them. And she would walk on the balls of her feet. Her walking was always catlike, tentative. And he wanted to scoop her up and carry her into the surf. And not drop her in, but just hold her. She could swim well, better than Jack. She had been a lifeguard and was part of the swim team in college. He envied her ease in the water. She belonged there in a way he did not. He imagined that she was never frightened. Not of the murkiness when the waves stirred the sand at the bottom, or the dark shadow of a fish, or the ropy seaweed that could slap against your leg and surprise you.

Without Sarah, his swims were perfunctory. He remembered his father’s briskness. A breaststroke through the unhelpful waves. A few arbitrary turns and back-and-forths. And then back out on the beach to dry in the sun. Strange to be at the beach alone. He had always associated it with family, sitting with his mother and father under the northern sun. Or with Sarah, sitting on a blanket and digging her big toe into the sand. She always seemed at home there, her bare legs shiny with sunscreen and the freckles coming out on her cheeks.

the Garbage man

Hank spends more time with trash on his mind than you probably do all month. Which is why he admired the purple sky with cod-shaped clouds that Tuesday morning, along with the stench of lawn between the flouring mounds of garbage. Taking time out for the beautiful things. Staying observant, keeping out of the oblivious haze his partners were lost in. Their minds in the gutter while they pick up the toppled rubbish. Hank made himself out to be different and earned some scorn from them therefore. He didn’t learn his coworker’s names and didn’t think networking would earn him anything. From this he was probably the happiest garbage man in the Dorchester region.
At one house his driver stopped the truck and walked out for a smoke. Just before that Hank had noticed them driving by a woman of small stature walking briskly in her business outfit towards the subway. She seemed hyper vigilant, turning around to watch them pass. Now walking around the sidewalk, Hank looked above the span of roofs, the overcast sky pervading the scent of rain, when he looked down and saw movement from a basement window. He stepped closer and could make out the shape of a torso. That, and the bars of a cage. Hank crept up closer to the wall, and peering inside discovered a naked man doing push ups inside a very large and closed cage.
The man’s ass was firm as a grape bowl, as the shape of his tight balls was the peach misplaced there with the other reddish globes. But really it was the shining behind of a woman’s, and when he turned I watched his glistening stomach before the patch of a shade between the legs that made his gender official, for even his pecks could be the size of some flat-chested female. This was a man setting himself in bound perfection.

Tale of Occipital and Parietal Bones

Today she sulks. Yesterday she smirked. And last week she dove into hades' great cold depths of ignominium. The variety of variance is veritabley perturbing. Lemons eating flowers. Baibies eating Pluto and Catullus spouting lullabies in the vernacular.What has this world come to? "To what do you wish it to come?" a very fat English caterpillar responds as he idly and very hautily slides off the bulbous form of the fruiting body of the nearest fungus. To what can we draw the attention of our peers? An armored Cinderella dashes into the clearing and shakes her Victorian ruffles about and delicate coronation of oyster seed, inkerer's wheels, her lace garters and subluminous veil and intransent frenzy of carotid artieris as subliminal, intricate and mystifying as the fabric of time and space itself, a lace doily to time's past when upwards right and downwards vertical were perfectly normal experiences of chronology, or rather, chrono-chaoso-colloseoum, when every direction of time was as prodigiuos and predictable as air molecules over an open flame.

Elemental intransient insouciance was her favorite experiment in which to partake on Saturday mornings when all the world was filled with light and GABA-receptor-filled table spoons and radish-leaf dressed dolls in the position of a chalice accompanied by preternaturally-spotted catatonic ladybugs reigning in spring, cords of them lassoing fresh rotten racoon dung, random flowers, and cottonhead tree fibers through rotting window-sills and oxidized metal-flavored screens.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Darwin's beetle

The species with the nickname “Darwin’s Beetle” has an enormous set of jaws, like a pair of prongs, barely held up by this sex legged armored insect. Vladimir would framed twelve dead examples and share them with his closest friends. Once he brought you up to the sixth floor space in his Boston apartment, he bent under the bed and rolled out the collection. He held the case in his hand, the glass reflecting in the arthropod’s blackened slippery shell the visitor’s face. A woman once reacted with delight as if entering an entomology fair. Vladimir explained this was his only animal he needed to study and would scoff at any other bug passing his doorway. She smiled, her lips cracked in the middle but otherwise an attractive red, before sleeping with him on the king size bed (everything was large in this living space, which made it cramped and maze-like). The next morning she was gone. So were five cases of Darwin’s beetle, all male. He punched the walls, bit his arm, cut further into his other arm with broken nails, before taking a daytime nap. From his closet he’d horded more than thirty other beetles. He’d given each a name, an age, and knew who was friends and who would never step on the same branch.

He had a face and smile like a clown without makeup. The whites of his teeth against the clay gums, a Mr. Rogers’ mein, cordial, and spirited. And yet confused almost. A large forehead, the declining chin and thick veiny neck. Long lean and bony arms, he was spotted in school often in an undershirt and shorts. Callused fingernails from the soil he’d dig through. Finely haired calves, handsome legs that his dead wife loved to stroke. Peppered black hair and ape ears and gentle nose. Blue eyes. Nose hairs. Irregular nails. A nervous chortle, and low tolerance to beer and wine. A high school biology teacher. An advocate against climate change, and a critic of natural design. A catholic all his life.

Swim 2

He thought about a jellyfish wrapping its tentacles around a leg – the panic, the screaming and kicking. When he was a child, he dreaded the water and the thought of the stinging salt in his nose and coughing up brine. Mostly, he was afraid of stepping on something sharp in the sandy murk: an urchin, a bit of shell that would cut his foot. He would come to the beach each year with his family and would grow bored and hot on the sand. He would find grains of it in his hair days afterwards, or in his clothes.

But in the water was cold and fear. The slippery feel of something on his leg – not a jellyfish, but a long strand of seaweed. Enough to cause minor panic, anyway. Enough for him to flail and kick his legs out. When the undertow sucked at him slightly and the salt filled his mouth, he knew it was time to come out, give up, and sit on the blanket with his mother. As far as he could tell, she never went in the water. She sat on her blanket, calm and placid, in a bathing suit that looked like black rubber. Her father would walk briskly up and down the beach with the air of an army officer. Jack didn’t walk with him; he couldn’t keep up. But when the sitting grew old and the swimming too frightening and exhausting, he would walk by himself. The hard ribs of sand under his feet felt good.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Antique Shop 1

The Roman arches made her happy; nice and simple and solid, the tops perfect semi-circles. So secure that stone was, and so comforting. Nothing like the Gothic spires. No elaboration and frilliness here, just perfect shapes set in stone. Thick and clunky and homey. They made you feel secure. Catherine stood under one of them at the United Church at Holy Corner. The rain was pouring down outside, but it was good rain since it was spring and the flowers needed to be fed. The flaming yellow tulips planted in the Meadows and the circles of head-bobbing daffodils, and all the little flowers Catherine couldn’t name. She didn’t know about living things. All she could classify were stones and surfaces. Trees and plants she could never name, but she appreciated them, all the same. It was good to wait out the rain here, and she was bored anyway. Needed a breath of fresh air and to get out of the flat. Away from a loud, shrieking housemate, and a funny-smelling sullen one.

Catherine was an architecture student at the University. She enjoyed it, but felt sort of aloof. University was big and impersonal and it swallowed you up. Mainly Catherine kept herself to herself. She went to lectures and seminars and sat quietly taking notes, studied the flash and glare that reflected off the professor’s glasses and went back to her rented room when she was done.

For some reason, she liked coming down here. It wasn’t a very far walk from Marchmont. Down Morningside road with its view of the hills and the white stripes of the artificial ski slope at Hillsend. Sinking down into the district of millionaires. Her friend Susan told her that Britain’s highest concentration of millionaires lived in Morningside, but Catherine was skeptical. Surely they would be in some area of London, she thought, not up here.

Sheila and Brita (cont.)

Sheila watched Brita sleeping in the pillow. She looked at her sanguine cheeks, the closed eyes, and at the tiny hairs up her nose. This close, she seemed ugly. Sheila was falling in love with this momentary grotesque. That way Brita’s left eye seemed slanted, dismembering the normally symmetrical face of the girls Sheila slept with—girls from New York and California, blond Christians with tiny mouths tiny noses and plump eyes.

The first sight Sheila had of Brita was not on the colorful front porch but inside the living room, during a game of Pictionary. Her coworker, a boy named Justin who lived out at Riverside and recounted his time hunting deer last weekend, pointed to his friend Brita and explained “she’s studying engineering, at a vocational college, and is therefore the smartest fucking person in this room.” The actual introductions came from Brita first, who sprinted form the back of a couch in green cammo shorts. They said their hellos and names, as Sheila noticed the soft furs running up the inside of this tall woman’s thighs. While the hair on Brita’s head was cropped, the down on her arms and the two mustaches above the eyes, glistened below the lamplight. Sheer radiance, Sheila thought, as their preliminary facts (“actually I wasn’t born in America. I was born in Poland then when I was fourteen months my parents, who are diplomats, took me to England, then at sixteen months to Florida,” Brita said, outlining the start of her life) before they were interrupted by the start of the game.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dutch cat story

Witte poes yawned. She stretched her supple back and each white limb and paw. Her pink-tinted ears twitched, picking up the morning sounds of a tram clanging outside. It was nice in her window in the morning. The sun rose across the way and made it warm and sunny. She could sit there, stretching and cleaning herself, as she watched the humans go by. “This is the life,” she thought, flexing her claws and stretching out her forelimbs.

Marieke already fed her, so there was no hunger in her little cat-tummy. Marieke was witte poes’ owner. She was a young painter and her favourite thing to paint was witte poes. It made witte poes feel like a star. In the window there were portraits of witte poes sitting, witte poes standing, witte poes lying down. There were painting of wittes poes stretching, with eyes open, with eyes closed, all kinds of pictures of witte poes. Marieke particularly liked painting witte poes’ eyes since they were so unusual: one yellow and one blue. Witte poes, too, thought her eyes were her best feature. They mistified people and other cats alike. In fact, witte poes was quite proud of her striking eyes.

“I sssssssspy with my little eyeeeeee,” a grumbly voice growled from nowhere, making witte poes’ hair stand on end. She tensed her back and looked around wildly before she recognised the voice and the pop and hiss of static she was hearing. She sighed. “Don’t do that, Spy Cat.” She could just imagine him grinning at her fright next door. “Sorry,” he purred, “just testing the two-way bug and speaker system I planted at your place the other day.”
“I’ll find it and pee on it,” Witte Poes pouted, unhappy. Spy cat was always doing things like this. He lived in the spy shop next door and saw himself as a kind of feline James Bond. It was a weird shop with radios and gadgets and all kinds of technical equipment, and Spy Cat always boasted that he knew how to use it all. He loved trying out new gadgets. “Have you installed a camera too?”
“No, but I was just thinking it would be great to have a two way video monitor. I could place one in your shop and have one in mine, and when we need to go on important missions I can contact you.”
To Spy Cat everything was a mission.

Ordwell on the Purple Line, part 1

The tracks began to tremble, tremble, and the commuters’ feet, not so athletic, stayed in one place, so the commuters trembled, trembled as well. Giant fans were that day plugged into the wall at the subway station, and the outlets had dirt and grime all over them as a reminder that one is not at home yet.

Mr. Ordwell dreaded summer each year. After all, the weather got much warmer, and his clothing as perennial as it was, wasn’t used to adapting to new circumstances, such as heat. The air, odors, and particles in the MBTA Customer Service booth tumbled like a gymnast each time a train approached. Everything up in the air! The only smooth landings from the ruckus were the flaps of a certain oversized jacket as they wafted back towards the large hips from which they had leaped when the frenzy was over. They had the advantage of being attached to Mr. Ordwell, who was the expert on such things as train wafts; the foul scents of the tracks often wafted towards, and then hovered over, his lunch each day.

Mr. Ordwell knew so much about train wafts probably because he knew so much about trains. He could identify a train using any combination of two senses: eyes and ears, nose and taste, eyes and touch, or nose and touch, et cetera. But one day, with his eyes and nose peeled, Mr. Ordwell had to open up a third sense as well: his ears. The train that was approaching didn’t smell like dill weed, as the 3:55 Green Line train normally did after Gardner Guttenberg got on.


[An ending?] He returned home, a place where he was very glad to be, not because it was a place that provided him the reasons for a complete contentment, but because it was at least not anywhere near as strange as the regions he’d passed through that day on his altogether unexpected excursion on the Violet Line. All rides on that branch must be unplanned, he thought to himself as he took slowly the three steps to his dingy door. If they were planned, I would have seen them on the schedule! Then he was in the door, and if not happy to be home than happy he was not elsewhere.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Jack went for a swim, because he had time, because he had nowhere else to be and nothing else to do. For its 38 years, his body still felt young with its runner’s torso, its quick perceptive musculature. The body that holds the memory of all that has happened to it. A puckered white scar from an appendectomy. The small constellation of moles on his back. He felt the hairs on his legs raise slightly in the chill. The beach was windy and cooler as he walked closer to the sea. It would be cold. He knew it would be cold. Even in August, the waters in Maine were always cold – so far north. But he believed, without reason, that a cold sea was cleaner. The water was purer somehow than water further south. Even as it churned up the bottom sand, it was clean. The sand felt fine under his feet. No seaweed to tangle up his legs. Nothing to be wary of on the bottom – no jellyfish or urchins. Occasionally he would see a dead crab wash up ashore. And then he would toe around it gingerly, avoiding the pincers and carapace, even though the animal could no longer attack or defend itself. With his big toe, he might dig a divot in the wet sand and push the crab in – a little funeral so the gulls would not pick at the body. Respect for the dead who do not care anymore about respect. Jack supposed if the dead were crabs, they probably never cared about respect to begin with.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sister, memorious

Years later I told my sister that dog story, for a laugh. She looked curiously at me, and said it never happened. Surprising. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but consider her word over mine. She remembered every moment, like a file indexed in an office shelf. She double checked the files, came up blank, and denied this recollection lucid as the city on a clear day from my office window.
My sister’s mind is a storage of memories. Mine is like the fossil record, missing whole sections in blurs and composites.
She has written in her diary innumerable events. The breakfast meal, the prices for a sprinkler, the brand our dog ate, the times our mother went to the bathroom, the murder of two women in the news that day, the current date and what happened on a similar date four hundred years ago (something Queen Elizabeth was eating, an evening with Raleigh, a war), and she’d tell me some of these things that she vomited on the pages in the most inscrutable chicken scratches anyone has ever read. One composition notebook every three weeks. Thousands went by. And she still keeps them stacked in her condo house in California. I asked her if she reread them, like a scholar rereads the pages of a thousand volume novel. But no, she remembered every page.
Now she rents a room in a condo complex with a very sad looking woman. The place is fully carpeted a filthy blue, the kind which easily stains and stinks with the smallest effort. They looked over the reservoir, which is very pretty at night, a shade of green against the dock boats, and the three story library just around the corner. But how did these two ever meet? The girl named Amora, what a terrible name, she looked like a former drug addict. Kind of diminutive, droopy eyed, with baggy pants and a look to her red swollen eyes that say “I don’t give a fuck.” She cackled a few major octaves over her normal monotone voice. My sister tells me she was in a group home for troubled teen girls, smokes pot regularly, and dates every few months the same girl who at the end of every cycle screams and screams and acts like a nutcase. Amora is 27, four years older than my sibling, but might look 18 for the rest of her life.


When he thought of Sarah, he thought of salt on her upper lip. That perspiration that was not so much a wilting as a blooming. Her skin was lit from inside, radiating light like Caravaggio’s bodies. (She knew about painting. He did not, but she had shown him her art books – his painting of Salome holding John the Baptist’s head on a platter; her chest illuminated white in the darkness of the room, like the muscular torso of a young boy lit from the side and staring down at head of the Baptist. They are all placid – the severed head particularly so.) Her skin was not so much the floodlit white of Salome or of the Madonna, but an earthy, dirty blush – all red clay and body heat.

In August, with no air conditioning in their city apartment, they had a fan going all the time. Sarah would sit in front of it, place an ice cube between her breasts and let it melt like butter in a pan. It slicked her skin like butter and joined the salt of her sweat. He loved the look of it – wet skin that threw off reflections, the hint of steam as water rose to vapor. He would reach out and touch a breast, nuzzle and suckle it like a calf, and she would chuckle low and hold his head, clutch his damp hair in her fist.

Those days were good: no TV, just the radio and the fan and the cramped apartment. They would have oranges bought by the bag for breakfast and strong coffee, read the paper, compete to see who could get the most words in the crossword puzzle first. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

passages from a fictional memoir (part 2)

(cont. from may 26th)
.........It reminds me how later that day I stood on another pile of snow (the yard was stacked several feet, still the tallest storm I've ever seen) and walked to where the basketball hoop stood up to it's neck ( the pole's neck I should say, just under where the octogon was attached). I leaned over and touched the strings. I knew this would only happen once. I'd never be a basketball player, let alone someone who could dunk, so what was waiting for me? I wasn't even a fan of sports, and I hoped, thinking this when I was eleven, I wouldn't ruin my life and turn into a janitor. So this was the first and maybe only time I'd ever pull these looped, knotted strings. I can't even remember if I stuck a ball through them. I must have, why not? But for that moment I pulled the strings. It may seem inconsequential, as slight as those little cloths a little thicker than my shoe laces, bit tied tighter than my bathroom belt I'm wearing right now. But so often in the years we do things dozens of times, like taking the same route on a train or walking into the same bathroom on the fourth floor of an office building that used to be a factory and is now a storage facility, and we do other things only once that we don't know fate and nature has slapped a period on, like finishing Moby dick with the hope of rereading it one day, the restaurant in Florida with the best quesadillas you've ever tried (crispy bread, peppers and ricotta cheese without a hint of spice) for which you lose the address and title for, and a pretty paramour, or two, I've lived a long life--that how often do we get to do something for one time only, and know it is the last we'll get to feel it in our ungloved dry fingers. Oh right, flights to china. Maybe if you’re lucky a hike up Kilimanjaro. But how often do you get to feel that foreign taste in your front yard. Perhaps that sentiment of getting all that I need from my immediate space was why I didn't travel much. Or led this page slim life?

Second Nightfall

Cathartic boulevards manifest as green belle mountain
men in shuels of soft, suppliant leaves an ephervescent green
leaves me seeping, sappy verdania. Tilia americana, your evening
fullness lures me into love as you lawy about your wide-spread leaves,
city pastures presevered in academic maniucre, bastions of wealth and
pleasant comfort amngst the rough, tawdry edges of city pavement
and chainlink fencing. We take respite here, where large burly oaks
and rheumentoid crab apples go out to pasture.
As resplendant clay, the trees silt-molded with our newly whetted hands,
we come eye-to-eye with our just-kissed histories, a rendez-vous with the devil.
My tearing eyeballs, new to the winds, playtoys of medalion, verdancy, play at the
fantasy of second nightfall that the trees confjure beneath their storied leaves.

Against the fence, the blue gaze of new evening watches as a tall
you man is splayed out by a lustful little girl,
as a star-fish plucked form her ocean.
She rushes at him full-force, her mouth meeting his open one,
she knocks sunglasses from his face
and down toward his nose,
his human back pressed against the fence,
his leather-jacketed body completely at a loss:
momentum rides body, then mind in only so many ways!

Above them, the space station hurtles in continuous circumnavigation around the Earth,
the bright lights at a speed of motion which is visible to the human eye, just for a moment
before it turns around the arced plane of the Earth.

Below me, the damp grass begins an ignominious enticement to exploration.

The Marginal Way 3

I don’t know why I go there to eat. It is a tourist destination, and I am not a tourist. I think I like slipping among them for a while, though, disguised in sunglasses and sweatshirt. I am unnoticed and unnoticeable, vanilla-bland. Too old to be one of the horse-eyed waiters; too young to be one of the summer folk come to settle down through August. In Florida, they call them snowbirds when they come in the winter. But here it is desolate in January and December. The salty air is tough on buildings; paint chips and cracks off the motels; winter storms erode the dunes. No one walks on the beach in winter. So different from right now, with all the bustle of summer and the smell of dune roses and sunscreen everywhere.

I go into Lobster Bob’s. It smells like steam. A teenager takes my order – steamers and beer. As I sit and eat, I notice I am the only one here alone. The rest are families, or pairs of oldies, or young couples. No matter. I don’t mind sitting alone. Although it is new for me. I used to go to restaurants with Sarah – the quiet assurance of her small body near mine, the warmth that radiated off her at the end of the day. It is strange not to have her shadowing. I’ve never been this alone.

It is dark on the restaurant’s patio, but I can still see the water and the way it throws up the moon’s reflection once in a while, and the reflection of the restaurant lights. Boats clink against one another moodily, like ice in a glass.

The Spectacle

She rose and offered the elderly man her seat after he boarded and fretted a moment, mashing his closed lips, looking unsteady. He left his bags on the rubber flooring in front of the rear door where he came on, and made his way down half the length of the bus. Without shifting their gazes, the knot of strap-hangers loosened to let him through without other acknowledgment. With arthritic slowness, he turned until his pants were positioned above the seat and his chest angled as a counter-balance into the aisle. The riders to either side of him winced when he sat with a thump; they’d just caught wind of his goat-like aroma.

Standing now, she watched the black man with the cup of orange soda. Without having a reason she was proud to admit, she kept her eye on him.

It takes two, baby / It takes two, baby... that’s me and you.” As he sang, his arms flapped crazily, expressive of good feelings and a flirty mood. Both were covered in healed scars, and muscle tissue was missing. Maybe an angry, hungry pit bull. How could she ask? He didn’t seem self-conscious; perhaps his loudness and vim were his way of defying the natural feelings of discomfort are companions to deformity. He sang, he bragged, he greeted each new rider as they walked past:

“Hey baby, we’re feeling good to-day, am I right? Hoo, look at sister here! She’s looking proud with that new weave, ha-ha-ha, no baby, you know it’s good. It’s hot, who’s hot, we hot, she’s hot, it takes two baby, just me an’ you.” Each time he repeated the refrain, he pointed—with his whole body—to the woman sitting next to him.

The standing woman, marked as a Samaritan by her donation of a seat and a Catholic by her St. Christopher medal, kept watching him, and glancing over to other riders to see who else was watching. The husky boy in the button-down was, and they as they noticed each other they shared a glance in solidarity. The huskier boy, a student by the look of his backpack and uncharacteristic slacks, was not, and kept his eyes pointed out the window at the apartment buildings and storefronts passing by in spurts.

He sang more loudly, and swung his arms more aggressively, more flamboyantly, tracing switchbacks with his hand and snapping his fingers, writhing in his seat. He pressed his fleshy body against the girl next to him as if they’d known each other for years and she was the one female friend he trusted, and since the only one, the one that had to suffice to suffer all his sublimated physical attentions, with his experiments in making physical contact less excruciating, less alien. His face glistened unbecomingly with the effort; the bumps on his cheeks at the base of most hairs sparkled.

Yolanda—the name hung in each of her heart-shaped earrings—tried to hide her face entirely in the space between her shoulder and the window. Finally the standing woman couldn’t watch any longer, and pushed her way to the front of the bus. At the next stop, she leaned across the payment console and said brief, informative things to the driver.

The driver rose out of her seat like a mother whose lost her patience, and pointed directly at the offender: “Do you know her? Don’t you talk to her. Honey, is he harassing you? Do you know him?”

He howled hurtfully about freedom of speech, and can’t a brother just be friendly, can’t a person smile and say hello, hello, and be nice to people, and what was wrong with her. But the driver wasn’t having it; she waggled her magenta-painted, no-nonsense acrylic tip right back at him, and made impressive statements about disturbing the peace and how one has to know better. Even as she sat back down, the beam of her irritation bounced off the rear-view mirror into his face. His protests grew louder and louder, louder than his original singing and come-ons: “This is America and I can say what I want where I want.” Then she hit on it: “Okay baby, just keep it down.”

“That sounds better,” he said, mollified.

When he gets off the bus a few blocks later, he starts to spin like a roller disco queen the moment he hits the sidewalk. His orange soda stays in his cup despite not having a lid, despite his dancing and gyrations. As the bus pulls away, he spreads his legs wide and bends at the knees and hips, dropping his backside closer to the pavement. With his arms raised in a Pentecostal gesture of praise, it looks like he’s still singing, though the interior of the bus is hushed now. He waves flirtatiously and dismissively to the driver as she takes off.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Announcement

When Thursday morning announcements started over the PA, it wasn’t the voice of Vice Principal O’Brien with today's lunch menu lunch menu or his usual reminder that respectful behavior in the hallways is ‘a good way to finish a good week well.

“Alright y’all this is Tameka Ritts”—the students whooped in recognition—“and you know I don’t play so listen lemme tell you it ain’t right that Miz Wilkes is in trouble jus cuz she was behind us when we walked on Friday—”

When their classmate mentioned last week’s walkout protest, seniors in their homerooms began to whoop more loudly. The school board had recently folded to external pressure, and replaced the hallway soda machines with fresh fruit dispensers. The seniors in their outrage and their nothing-to-lose mood, had cooked up a walkout, spreading the word with Facebook and SMS.

At eleven-eleven in the morning, twenty seniors and nearly a hundred underclassmen left their classes, and went outside to gather at the school welcome sign. Some inside operative had changed the electronic team-pride signboard to read HOME OF THE COKE NAZIS. Cars honked; freshmen yelled earnest, profane slogans in defense of cola freedom. Tameka had worn a Coke-red bikini to school under her street clothes, and soon after the protest began she’d stripped down and drawn a white swirl across her drum-tight torso with body paint.

Several teachers were sent outside as well, to preserve calm if not order. Ms. Carrie Wilkes wasn't one of those assigned to monitor the walkout, but was there nonetheless. Juniors in her AP History course had often heard her compare the protests against U.S. troops in Iraq to the bygone demonstrations one used to see on university campuses, against sweatshop-made collegiate apparel and low wages for the janitors. The previous fall, she’d been involved as club advisor when the Interact Club organized a boycott of Danon, Bic, and Michelin, to push back against the French nuclear testing in the Pacific

“—and she had our back when the administration”—she continued with a challenging sneer—“wouldn’t respect our assembling and say what we gotta say. She’s the best teacher this school has and they mad crazy to try to pluck her like a flower and plant a thistle like she says—”

Students in Ms. Wilke’s fourth-year homeroom responded in a variety of ways. Several kept their heads down, focused on their phones with the kind of concentration usually reserved for deciphering cuneiform. Many kept listening with their heads, energized by scandal, as if waiting to see how long Tameka could keep talking without getting pinched. A few turned their heads toward Ms. Wilkes—if not admiring her liberal attitude toward student activism, then impressed with her involvement in this brief furor. Ms. Wilkes blanched.

Another voice could be heard in the background of the room at the other end of the PA, growing louder as its speaker approached the unseen microphone: Mr. O’Brien. “That is absolutely enough Miss Jones get your hand off that mic right now no don’t move over there put that mic down and give it to me sit down sit down.”

Tameka was talking over him as he attempted to shut down her broadcast: “No I gotta be heard like Ms. Wilkes said don’t you put your hand on me don’t you dare touch me who do you think you are you can’t touch me you ain’t my master no I won’t they gonna take away prom we gotta rise up don’t Mistah O come on—”

Her voice vanished abruptly, and O’Brien came on. “Alright, folks, settle down. The insurrection”—more whooping—“has come to an end. I expect us all to work together so we can finish our good week well. We are out of time this morning to share community news, so please wait for your homeroom teachers to release their classrooms. Let’s begin first period on time, and with respect for our responsibilities.”

From his poster to the left of the classroom door, Abraham Lincoln stared out at them with a saying written across his upper chest: “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.” On the other side of the whiteboard was a poster that brought a little heat on when she first arrived two years ago—O’Brien had erroneously called it a bugbear. From that poster, Malcolm X looked fiercely out the windows, beyond the senior parking lot and the tennis courts. His admonition was written in the space around his head like a corona: “If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.”

In Ms. Wilkes’ room, and only her room, the ancient call-box squealed, announcing an incoming call from the school office. Her students stopped chattering, all turned their attention to her. Some parts of her face became paler; others flushed a painful-looking red. The space between her eyebrows was drawn into a deep notch, and was an especially bright crimson. She walked the few steps from her desk to the wall, and picked up the receiver. Whatever voice was on the other end delivered its instructions; she nodded wordlessly, and exited the room without looking again at the students.