6/22 — 7/22
You are reading a newspaper and eavesdropping on a conversation, far-off on the Blue Line. Participating in neither— little of substance is gotten at; rough chunks of intellect hold fast and dislodge in unseen bouts like rockfall. Turn the page without understanding the base verse of information. What do you get falling toward an openwork— the respiration of steely cords; the tease of passage. An aerated barrier with the capacity to catch and hold. Tangle.
Today is a good day to start something new. You wish you were an insect. All ways open and all flights pedestrian. The train, a shining outburst; obligatory sum of a thousand delirious inputs. Irrelevant barreling charisma of alien bent— metal or stone or marble or wood or rock, etc. Your life, a search for odiferous blemishes. Lapping the stains of idle fingers.
You have a weakness for urbane vacancies. This is actually your idea of peace. You are glass-boned; a birth-slick fawn assessing a concrete stair. Rainfall of ironic applause. You study dark like a biopsy. A diorama not meant to withstand so leaden a gaze (yellowing charms beg for inattention).
The diagnosis of a heart flooded with midnight: Friendless. A topic of soliloquy greased with zoological indifference. Divisions of aloof currents; atria like out-of-the-way boutiques stocking artisanal cold (the promise of indefinite storage). You walk a starless river. The moon talks in its sleep but you do not listen too closely. You are thankful for gibberish, afraid someday you will make out a word and it will be the most efficacious of salts. A thoughtless sulfuric brevity; a lover slobbering the wrong name.
Electricity throws a party. No one shows. She doesn’t mind, and in fact can’t remember if she even invited anyone. She’s used to doing it alone. She dances around a cheese ball that won’t get eaten by the swimming pool under your desert sky. Beats your neurons with her heels. Laughter, the hollow pulse of artifice. It rings into the night all the way to the mountains where a fox pricks its ears. Gently exhausted feats of upkeep. She makes small talk with a cactus she plucked from your bloodstream. Ends up sitting at the end of the diving board redoing her makeup— the possibilities too endless to ever be satisfied. A bra and a bead or two float the neon shallows; remains of evaporation. A pump found speechless in a place water does not know.
From the seat in front of you come the drabbles of conversation. Two men sit together: My wife bought a printer that you— you get an email on your phone and you can forward it to the printer and print from anywhere. Rust crafts a meticulous jacket.
This is all about Love. Home, Family, Opportunity. It’s up to you to break the ice. The Dow Jones is down three hundred points. You are fat and illiterate. On a trip from which you will return to find everything has been moved and placed back. Just. So. The hands of the clock where you left them. An origami bird on the table, unfolding itself in tranquil hysterics—
Lie. Lie still. Voltage prowls your body like a mugger. Your liver has not been heard from in days; lying in wait like litigation. Your heart, a gunshot on the wrong side of town. The queries of a dog in crisis. Prolonged thoughts of your innards call up feelings of guilt and failure, like those summoned at the sight of a container stuck in the back of the refrigerator, a container holding on to the congealed puddle of a meal cooked in love; a meal you hated. The word is unworthy. Your knees issue uncanny reports of pain like estranged twins emerging from zero-g: dazed, in search of a phone. Lights pass in the tunnel. The incandescent blankness— modeled after faces in a hospital handling ruthless tasks of comprehension. This is Your Window— that’s the roof of the Catholic school where your cousin went. Huh. Look at all the birds. This is A New Diet. Hold still while I insert it. This is Pain Management (let’s call five our baseline).
Your wife’s clothes will not again occupy the wash unless you put them there. In seventy-five million years the continents were reimagined but your home is a moonscape. Her hairdryer, never again to be found on the bathroom vanity, on the kitchen counter, on the kitchen floor— set, laid, flung. A necklace left to swing on the bathroom doorknob converses in fits. She was crazy over birds. The night sky. You are a mothballed telescope. Here: The complicated fragrance of her data. A tea leaf trapped in your lung. It mostly lies still but sometimes gets swept up to dance in rare gusts of jubilee. There could be complications. Boxes and boxes of books she bought at garage sales, books that wouldn’t fit on the shelves. She loved science fiction (the future smells like the past). Even in the mall as you watch a random sales girl through sleepless eyes and racks of clothing you detect the phantasmal hairspray, like sugar blackening in an iron skillet. The dryer exhaust on a cold night— the undulating chemical reassurances of warmth. Unscrew a dead light bulb— a single blonde hair resides in the socket. Pull down a bookshelf to claim your debris. Time is a map of shattered longitudes. The stars have all moved.
You need a sympathizer. A doctor. Someone who could come by the house after business hours when it isn’t about money. Someone unattached and having no problems leaving his house at night on obtuse errands; someone in whom you might detect (and who might detect in you) a brotherly chill. Erect a ladder next to your bedroom window. He can climb up and press his stethoscope to the glass. From the bed, upon seeing his shadow, you can swing your hand out and find a wine bottle to help you up. Logroll the impassable clatter of your bedroom floor on your way to the window. Together, verify once and for all at midnight when lies don’t matter that all is not death.
The short brunette at the sub shop down the street from your house; the part-time nursing student. The one who comes to work in scrubs and forgets to leave the mayonnaise off your sandwich and sometimes takes your pulse at the register— she has the incorporeal grip of The Veiled Nun. She might ask you if you’re experiencing any shortness of breath. You might respond with the night you drank a jug of gas station wine and felt it sear shut the couplings of your heart; the night you tripped over the nightstand and spent an hour silently scraping scented wax off the wall with a butter knife, and while scraping realized: Old books smell good because they’ve lived a life other than yours. There is still wax on the wall. The brunette might shrug. Her fingers letting go. Leave her a twenty. You never know.
It’s up to you to break the ice.
In architecture Brutalism is what happens when complex philosophies are erected to conceal stupidity. This is maybe an analogy for why you romanticize the subway and place yourself so deeply inside it— you are concealed. There is a photo of your wife you hang on to. The picture is out of focus. She is outdoors at a location you don’t recognize. Somebody’s head is in the way. Her smile half-concealed by that somebody’s head. The photo summons not a single memory. You are concealed. Caught. Tangled. Walls and tunnels that match your arteries in every stolid detail. Walls without windows, windows without light. You zip past a platform populated exclusively with girls. The man in the seat in front of you pushes his phone at his friend like a pair of filched underwear. Look, I can even print from here. I’m emailing the printer. Hey babe!
Your stop is coming. L’Enfant. Emerge before you’re dead. You are supposed to meet a woman for coffee. Or was today the doctor? Do you even remember? It has been a long time. You wonder if maybe the doctor will be a woman doctor and you will swoon, sitting half naked on an examination table under her cold touch, rambling about whatever, what few books you’ve read, examination paper crackling under your every deafening breath. Your tongue depressed, you will be asked to impersonate sunshine; a prudent array of hues. A blinding Olympic floor routine of YES.
Hands in his pockets, he strode like a yacht from skerried pockets of sea. Wore the splendiferous artificial morning as a head wreath. Ha. He was thirty pounds too heavy. He makes excuses. He makes his own bread and grows rosemary; likes his hands in the dirt. Blood pressure, 140/90. He listens to everything, music-wise. He has an open mind he says. Slow to anger he says. Though why bring up anger? Boy. Watch out. Watch out for a man with anger on his mind. A teenage daughter who wants nothing but to dance. She dances like crazy, he says. He misses her competitions too often. She resembles her mother in the most painful ways. A dog named ___________ and a motorcycle he fools around with on the weekends. He has blood like disappearing ink— it’s insidious; it just doesn’t amount. A weird serrated mole on his back. That’ll need to be watched. Here’s a picture of him standing in front of a truck, I think it’s his friend’s truck. I don’t think I could date a truck guy. Here’s his motorcycle, in the bed of the truck. Here’s another picture of a different truck I don’t know whose truck this is. His lucky numbers are 2, 7, 11, 16, 20, 25. His dick is small. I’m just saying. And he has one tooth in front that’s crooked but you know it doesn’t even matter in a way. He’s a Cancer. He squirmed the whole exam— he’s not young anymore. He knows it. Why harp? He talked about books but you could tell he had no idea what he was talking about and kind of froze when the words started coming out of his mouth. We’re not young anymore. I’m not sure how many more I can do. The look in their eyes— in fact I might not even show up. I mean how can I keep doing this? I make plans but then I don’t want to. Anyone would be nervous. He’s got a follow-up in two weeks but I may not make it. I may but I may not. It’s getting old. It’s always so hard to hear the truth.
lives in Pennsylvania. He has had work appear in Juked
, Pear Noir!