The leg I tripped over belonged to a boy sleeping on the sidewalk in New York City. The leg was not very hairy and was covered by clean, white basketball shorts. It looked exactly like my boy’s leg.
When that boy was little, I used to stroke his arm and say "This is my arm,” and he would laugh and ask how it could be my arm when it was attached to his body. But he didn't tell me I was wrong. He would offer me his other arm and I would solemnly refuse it. “No, that one is not mine. I worship only this one.”
The dog took a big bite of the girl’s leg with its sharp teeth when the girl rode by on her old broke bike. I watched through the glass in our house. She flew off the bike and flat on her back to the dirt on the ground. I knew big dogs should not bite small girls in their small legs but I could not call out to the dog or to the girl. I could not speak.
The next day the dog had its life sucked out. I watched the last few breaths come up from its chest and out through its mouth. I had no way to tell if there was a sound.
Then they wrapped the dead dog in dry cloth. They drew the lines of a cross on their chests with their hands. They stepped past the spot where the girl lay in blood when the now dead dog bit her leg to bits. They did not see what I saw as they walked.
I had lunch with K at American Buffet. I let him drive. He asked if they served open face roast beef. They did indeed. He asked if the sandwich came with a satchel of some kind. No. No they did not.
He lived for two years without running water or heat. No air conditioning, either. He shat in the toilet for the entire two and a half years and it just built up until it touched his backside when he sat down.
When K was in the hospital I tried to cheer him up. I suggested the hospital was haunted. He thought about it. Maybe. There were a lot of electrical outlets, he said.
Once during the winter he came to my workplace but didn't say anything. He stood beside me for about two minutes and then left.
The thing on this guy Phil Spector's head, it was tumbleweed. K told me this on our way back from American Buffet. He was listening to news radio while we turned onto South Central Avenue by the old courthouse. K used to work with me. He asked if he could drive me straight to my desk.
When I realize Mike won’t be getting back up, I turn toward a casino doorway of angry, frightened faces, searching for recognition as a fellow human being, as a baseball fan, as a betting man. Finally I’ll settle for recognition as a drunken brute, but even this seems to be asking too much. Nobody says anything. This animal turns on its tentative, uncertain feet and staggers away, shape-shifting and looking for places to hide. This animal scurries along with tail tucked firmly between its legs, skittish and growling, shying away from human contact like a coyote with a gnawed-off leg.
I want to catch your eye across a room and just know. I want your hand to feel electric in mine. I want you to break me. I want you to fight for me. I want to marry you in a courthouse. I want you to be mine. I want to surprise you with that vintage car that’s bound to break down. I want to help get you everything you’ve ever wanted. I want to be there if you fail. I want to see the world with you and through you. I want to live in a tiny apartment with you. I want to watch the morning light pan over your back. I want to make you coffee. I want to drink whiskey with you. I want to tell you to quit your job to do something you give a fuck about. I want to have your children. I want to see how my features fuse with yours. I want to sneak cigarettes in the backyard and talk shit about our teenagers. I want to care for you when you get that horrible disease. I want to hold your hand when you die. I want to miss you. Where are you?
Matt swims until he gets to where the water is black and the sky is black and the stars are little white dots above him, reflecting on the water around him. He is an astronaut. He is a fool. He knows he is surrounded by things of infinite size and weight. The whales, he knows there are whales out here. And sharks. And giant squids. And ugly fish with fangs. And broken ships and crashed airplanes and mountains. He knows there are mountains under water. And he knows he is so small now compared to all of this. He knows the odds are against him. He knows what it is to be insignificant, a body at the whim of nature. He knows now everything a man needs to know about love. He finds himself getting wrapped in a cloud of seaweed. A snarling mess of vines and leaves, twisting around him, squeezing him, holding him tight. Pulling him under. He could swim up, he could breathe again. But what is breath when he is being held so close without the threat of ever being let go?
I went to Battery Barn and got batteries. Triple-As, two packs. For the OL’ REMOTE. The OL’ REMOTE is a friend of mine. I got it for Christmas last year from my niece’s husband. Am I related to that person now? I don’t know. How do you figure that out? The remote is universal. It controls everything. It controls the wicked old TV and the VCR and the DVD. It helps me “Sit tight” like it said on the package. “Sit tight” I don’t know about with this bod, which I’ve been meaning to work on, by the way. But it does let me sit in place, more like it. On my chair or on the couch for that matter, which I’ve been doing more often lately. Why? Many reasons. For one it is soft, for another it is a pillow world, and for another you can choose to recline if the mood strikes you. ♫ And the moood often doooooes ♫. My battery packs are now safely in a Tupperware, where they shall remain until they are called for duty in Universal Boy. We all exist in perfect harmony. It is perfect harmony how we exist.
George won’t shut the hell up. Keeps calling the landlord a goddamn S.O.B. and J.O. Lord knows that as soon as he hushes up and tires hisself out, George Jr. and Patience are gonna start. Momma, where are we going? Momma, I want milk. Momma, are we not gonna go to school no more? Momma, what’s S.O.B. and J.O.? I should tell George to git out the damn car, but I just drive, pickin my cuticles til they bleed.
The Day the Crayons Quit
Drew Daywalt, Author. Oliver Jeffers, Illustrator.
She'd been afraid of getting dull. Like that new baby would roly-poly over her body till all the edges were hulls. Smooth out her brain too. Just work her into a nothing no-face, the way her momma taught her to knead dough. It should be smooth and tacky to the touch. Tacky. She had something to say about that. A story to tell. A hot car, a pulling over. A boy rolling a cool beer can over her edges. Was that her, or someone she'd heard about? The joke was the boy. Rolling that can. Must have been something he read. Such an innocent mistake, and she, whoever she was, let him. Let that innocence roll right on over her. Tacky. Ah, that's who she was. Is. A stickiness, but not a holding.
We were our own animals. You and I. Our apartment was always a fever dream. We slept on the same mattress your father slept on before he died. We woke without really knowing where we were. Those mornings were never quiet. We were the worst kind of poor. "You actually should keep more secrets to yourself," you said. Soon we were sleeping differently, in different rooms. You were cutting your hair over the kitchen sink. You were moving pictures on the walls and rearranging the furniture. I was sitting at the kitchen table, staying quiet. The roof leaked rain and the pilot light was out. I was locking doors. The neighbors never screamed like us. Nobody screamed like us. We tried to eat dinner together and you threw a plate against the wall. There was spaghetti sauce on the curtains. We became all hands and teeth. We became some slow violence. We tried to sleep in the same bed again. We were forever vacant. And, listen, just listen for a second, we won’t worry about any of that. Because when we had that home, when we had that home together, we got to see what a home really was.
Husbands know how to do men things. For instance, tools and wood. For instance, cars and sports. Another thing—finances. And when it is nighttime, the sex. How to poke in and out while gauging response. How to navigate our fleshy splash with their tongues. How do they know these things? The wood with tools. Scraping things even and molding things flush. Beveled things. Weighted and angled and caulked. Pipe things. Under a car hood mysteries; a fire pit they stand around, staring at the metal guts. Talk about it knowingly. The big mess in there. I can fill up the gas. I can vroom vroom. I can rear view mirror. But, the husbands…so much more! The sports with numbers and opinions. So many fields and balls. So many cities and teams. Colleges. Stats. Rules. Arguments. But also, taxes. Percentages and stock market. Deductions and accrued interest. Budgets and withdrawls. So very important. So very worthy. I don’t know how they do the man things as I am but a wife. I am only kitchen, cleaning, children, sex. I am only serve, cower. My life is cease. Husband my life. Husband tells me this so I know. Thanks for husband!
And so it goes. Like this. 5:38am. An unseasonably cold August morning. Holding both hands to both hips of the only woman you've ever loved. The mother of your children. An unkempt queen sized bed. Your head against her bare chest. Hard and deep she sleeps. Her lungs fill and empty in rhythm. Her heart beats the same. You think of Reno and Little Rock. Old friends in old cities you will never touch again. Fat gray cat on the windowsill watching everything. You squeeze her hips tighter. Fingers become flesh. Blood and bones and heartbeats synchronize. You try to remember a day you didn't love her. You can't. In her dream she calls out for a man she once knew and loved. Still loves. The cat jumps from the windowsill. Startles her awake. She slips on your white tshirt and goes to the kitchen for cereal. Tomorrow she will consider leaving you for this man. Walk out on eighteen years. Meet him in a jacuzzi suite and let him climb on top of her. After dinner she will tell you how much she loved it when he first entered her and his dick parted her labia. How wet she got in anticipation. You will stay anyway if she lets you. But that's tomorrow. Right now she's eating cereal and you are asleep before she's back in bed.
She did not cry and this was surprising! She believed in her ability to be funny, too. She entered the house and the house was silent in a way that had not occurred to her. She thought about all the jokes she could tell. She climbed the stairs to the girl’s bedroom. She could not kid herself… There was no other reason to climb the stairs. One of the girl’s friends had drawn a penis on the outside of the bedframe. He had drawn the penis in permanent marker so that the penis could not be easily washed away. She remembered telling him he should go into comedy. "You should be a comedian," she had said to the girl’s friend many times. "You are so funny," she had said to him again. She wondered if the girl was ever jealous. The girl had wanted to be a rapper for a while. They had classes for white kids, you know. Now the girl’s friend was old enough for the woman to see his penis. The girl said, "I don’t want to be friends with Saul anymore." She still believed in his ability to be funny.
Whatever tolls whatever taxes, how quietly they melt away. The radio hums another young something for who knows who as we roll by huge trucks that fuck us a little like a mirage of police cars speeding even faster because that blur's sanctified by much more than guns. The highway itself is held hostage by radar and satellite but when you pull out a bag of cookies we might as well be masturbating. This is our fortress, our stand against the fog and weather control and obvious extinction. You turn the station and we dance sitting. We fight with pleasure in our hearts, the strangest battle.
We live in an echo. Graysons, across the street, Billinghams, Coopers... what Mom calls the reason for venetian blinds. Although, she says the blinds are made in Ecuador. Have you been to Venice? We live in Chicago, have cousins in Des Moines, a rheumy great-aunt in Nebraska. Stacks of books reach in teetering high-rises on the carpet next to the couch. Books are not meant to hold up tables, Mom says. Venice is all dark gutters and moldy grays. Ecuador is netted in by hurling hot coils of sky. Elva, remember when you thought that wasp nest was a lampshade? That’s all I’m saying. Mom’s glowing face abandons us, as if we were a carpet stain, to the book open-mouthed on her belly. I follow Ermine upstairs. A stash of Mom’s tiny vodka bottles home inside the sliced bowels of her stuffed bird collection. Mom buys one from the Audubon Society every year on Ermine’s birthday, believes Ermine will become an ornithologist. Vodka burns blisters like a sunburn on the inside. Tom Jone’s sings, She’s a Lady, back-up to Ermine whispering tales of boy’s sticks pillaging girl’s sliced tomato halves. You know, Ermine says, and points to her crotch.
Let’s take drugs this morning! To flow, to flow, the coffee burbling, the Capri Sun and Eggos and Ibuprofen: "Dad, which is better, a cat or a shark?" Well, that depends on your needs, dear—will you grow to leap out of bed or curl like a sodden tie knot beneath the paperwork of the blankets or will you pretend to be asleep to listen? Look, son, there goes a coyote limping through the backyard. Clearly a thousand years old and has three legs so think about that when you ask me, "Dad, could the road in front of the house just burst in flames?" For example, the packing of the lunchbox: Pringles, Oreos, some baby carrots (yes, a vegetable!), and I keep hearing the ticking of a two-shot bottle of Jägermeister secreted beneath my brown socks. (Used socks, gifted by a dead man’s daughter. The last time I wore brown socks was never.) Don’t grow up, you fools; because every day is a lifetime out there in the low sky and poorly mown yard…Mown? That’s ambitious. Twisting blades and dandelion talons that resemble the historical times the domestic and religious and judicial become truly indistinguishable….). What does that mean, dad? Just hug me. You’re not too old to embrace, not too cool or awkward or just miserably insightful. Hug me. And go ahead and grab that warming beer I left atop your fairy doll house. (Dad, Why didn’t the fairies come last night and swim in the tiny pool and eat the Cheetos? You said they would!) The beer, the beer, give a minute, you beauties. I said that? Well, now, just give me a little minute, and they will.
Despite what might seem a paradisiacal upbringing, it was anything but. Mama, for example, had a penchant for the bottle. Although she usually laid off and held herself together, there were a couple instances that I remember her drunkenness and the effect it had on our happy household. One time Mama came home smashed after a meeting with the ladies of the League of Women Voters. Daddy was angry at her for being drunk in the first place, but then for driving home instead of calling him. He said, For christ’s sake, tomorrow you have a meeting with Mothers Against Drunk Driving! Mama yelled something incoherent back and walked away, into Daddy’s den where he kept his model train collection on display upon the wall. Daddy followed Mama, keeping up the argument—a bad choice. I watched from around a corner while Mama lifted one train after another off the display shelves and launched them at Daddy. She didn’t throw very hard, or very accurately, so Daddy just stood there saying, Look at what you’re doing! Meantime Mama said horrible things to Daddy, things I couldn’t repeat even if I knew what they meant.
I've kept a journal my entire life. It reads like a chronicle of sins against me and those I've committed against others. Occasionally I indulge in the very depressing activity of reading back on the past nineteen years of marriage, reading back on those years of crying babies, sleepless nights. How I passionately hated my husband! How little he respected me! If only I had the money to leave him. And my sons, how they've exhausted me physically, taxed me emotionally. I lost my patience often and chronicled every infraction, every harsh word, every time I squeezed an arm until a tiny, innocent boy wailed, "ouch!" The mopping, the scrubbing of filthy toilets, lugging bags of groceries up stairs that seemed so heavy my eyes would tear with injustice. I was maid, nanny, occasionally whore. And yet, where in my journal is the exquisite joy? The love, the laughter, the human flesh against me, sweet and warm? Those must be the secrets I take with me, the beauty, the comfort, to my grave, leaving, sadly, only the darkness for the world to gape in horror. The bad mother.
Last week, my six year old granddaughter, Louisa, visited for a few days. Once she arrived, a transformation took place. I became Ganka and my wife became MiMi (my my), my granddaughter's names for us, which have stuck and will remain our names whenever we're around her. On a trip to the mall, we visited one of those places where you can make your own stuffed animal. When we walked in, my granddaughter began to ask for things. First she asked for clothes for the animals she already owns. Then she asked for a new stuffed bear. When she asked if she could get both, I heard myself say, out loud and without a hint of irony, You can either buy new clothes for your unicorns or you can build a bear. This is what domestic life does. It can reduce you to sounding like a fool in the middle of a store. But it can also open you up to parts of yourself that lay dormant, covered over by the wounds of living a life. Being open to the every day absurdities of being a parent/grandparent can facilitate a writer's imagination. Nothing wrong with that.
I have a giant open wound I'm bleeding out of all the time it hurts so much I feel like a dog with broken bones limping around smiling stupidly at its person "hello yes please I love you" and every time either one of you looks back at me the wound opens up a little more "hello yes please I love you please let me carry you screaming up the stairs please hit me repeatedly with the toilet seat lid while I take a shit please let me walk in circles for an hour while you sleep with my nipple in your mouth please I love you don't ever leave me I love you." Every night I curl up in the contents that were emptied of my wound that day like an animal keeping warm in a puddle of its own fresh blood and I try to remember what I felt like before I was crippled by love and I think to signal to other humans "there is brutality there is a brutality to loving this much help" but I am not sure what the signal will be and I don't want to be saved. I love you.
Home is where the heart is, said Pliny the Elder. Home sweet home. Home plate, home run, home free. Bring home the bacon before the chickens come home to roost. A man’s home is his castle. Make yourself at home.
You can never go home again. I’ve actually thought this while turning my key in the door.
Pliny was a sea captain. He died at the foot of Vesuvius in a rain of pumice and ash, his ship stalled by an uncooperative wind.
Me? I just had a long day at the office, and there is a corner of the couch where I try to bury myself in cushions and baby-kisses.
This is nothing to write home about. Unlike Pliny, who was trying to execute a rescue. All the years of his life were expressed in only two digits. I can’t help but feel that something was missing there.
Karen works early in the morning; I function best late. Karen writes in front of the TV, egged on by noise (today it’s a marathon of The Simpsons); I need absolute seclusion. Karen gulps coffee; I’ve only tried one sip and was repulsed. The writing prompts we use differ dramatically, too, Karen’s more general, posing a puzzle: "Write a poem that uses seven different definitions of the word muzzle." Mine are more situational: "Write a story about an artist who finds one of his paintings on the wall of a cheap hotel room."
Should one of us write something, the other adding to it later? Should we go back and forth, a two-headed exquisite corpse? Should we—gulp—sit next to each other and literally collaborate?
Karen wrote the piece you see above, Pliny and all things "home." Before I read it, she told me about how Pliny died at Vesuvius, about the rescue mission and being stuck by the mountain. He may have been simply too fat to get away.
She told me he was found buried in pumice and ash.
But I didn’t hear "pumice." I heard "hummus." An image popped into my head, this obese scholar, waist-deep in chickpea paste, lava oozing toward him, trying to eat his way to safety.
You smear a thick sinful red on your nails without knowing what it’ll bring. You’re pretty sure you’ll lift a cigarette to your lips, also smeared red, and exhale a thin trail of smoke in a long spiritual line like a soul leaving a body.
And maybe your fingers’ll slip in between other fingers, reach out and grab the nape of a sun burnt neck, pull him in close. Lips on lips. Your smeared red against his dry cracked man lips, making your own mouth taste staler, smokier and his mouth taste like old postage stamps.
But you’re not sure.
The red drying slowly at the end of your fingers doesn't guarantee it. Or anything.
That I was always turned away, situated in the hazy phase between dream and drone.
I am the electricity radiating from my skin. I am slowly killing you.
She craves security the way she craves a cigarette. It’s nothing to her but a home to live in for three minutes.
And you could expect to see her there, all those years ago, slouching behind the 7/11 before dark, silhouetted against neon signs with smoke plumes rising up over the dumpster.
A long time ago, a man damaged the part of his brain responsible for sensing where his body ended and where the world began. The only way he could describe it was that his body "bled into everything." That’s all I’ve wanted this whole time.
Her hair, its thickness, the way it tumbled in curls, is an absence so great I catch my breath weary of hearing about the many ways of grief when what is impossible is seeing the hair golden brown, often swept high, often pulled in strands from her face with a high barrette, the curls at the ends falling to her shoulders or slightly below her neck, but always the bangs, and her so fussy with them she’d make an appointment just to have them trimmed, and now I look only at my hair, the graying, the dye not right, drying out, nothing like hers. One time at the grief group her hair seemed to swirl in my head, filling my head crazily like stuff we used to call angel hair on Christmas trees or filigree of brown and gold, filling my head and then disappearing and all I had was the memory, or illusion of memory, when that’s all I have here, here, staring at her pictures, of her with her hair, with the curls falling, pulled back, and I don’t know how to go on but I keep going on without her hair without her.
You prepare your son’s breast milk by heating it gently in the pan of boiling water. The tiny bottle bobs and lulls like a lost Bouie, the fawn-colored liquid inside bubbling slow and steady, like the waves before they rogue.
You take the bottle out, press the fake nipple against your wrist like you have watched your wife do every day, and test the tepid temperature. You screw the lid off the bottle, hover it over your cup of black coffee, and pour it in. You take a loud sip, relishing the sweet taste of your wife’s milk.
She has been ignoring you, your wife. Not on purpose, of course. Lately all of her attention has been directed towards your new son. You understood this was going to happen. The new parenting classes you had to take at the hospital advised you of this. A new baby means things change. Still, you missed where your lips once touched the sweet petals of your wife’s areolas. How she would tremble like a shy earthquake about to erupt. The power of your touch always was a wonder for you. Now: Vaseline clung to dry, cracked nipples where your mouth once sucked. Her breasts were huge buffalo bladders, swollen with lightning struck scars on stretched skin.
You hand the bottle with the remaining liquid to your wife. She looks up at you, storm clouds under her eyes, and pushes her lips into a smile. Daddy’s little boy, she says.
I’ve been thinking a lot about dying lately, because why wouldn’t I? The human curse, I guess.
So, on the table for my nose surgery, deviated septum, I told myself that when they put the mask, I would try to stay awake for as long as I could, fight it, try to savor the life around me. I wanted letting go to be my decision, not theirs. I wanted to be aware that I was slipping away, like it was practice for dying.
Waking up later, my mom was next to me. How are you feeling, sweetheart? I couldn’t find a way to explain to her how disappointed I was that I hadn’t registered the time passing, that I had wasted a precious opportunity.
I’m fine, mom.
And I was, I think, because I knew I would have another chance to know what dying was like. Or, at least one more chance.
I suppose I was always at a loss as to what I could say or do about it. My own best gestures never felt real to her and aside from that I could never seem to find the words. That’s it? She’d say, and maybe she was right . . . But yeah, the whole thing was like an underwater struggle. I say that now, having had years to think about it. Every day, it was a wrestling match against an unimaginable leviathan, with both of us, me and her, on either side, pulling and huffing. Sometimes we were pulling apart, but sometimes I’d swear that we really wanted to be together, though either way it came out predictably the same. The same whipping, lashing momentum, punctuated by vicious strikes. Same cold vacuum, those silences, same undertow, in which both of us, most of the time, found it impossible to breathe . . .
The University realizes it doesn’t really cover the universe, so it changes its name to the Worldity, but the Worldity realizes it isn’t really all that global, that it’s entire perspective is very much promotional to its own country’s perspectives, so it changes its name to the Countryity, but the Countryity could care less about the states other than the one where it resides, so the Countryity changes its name to Statity, but the Statity realizes it’s not so much concerned about the state as a whole, in fact, several of its greatest rivals are within the state, so it changes its name to the Cityity, but the Cityity could care less about the economic problems of the city where its dorms and buildings are located, its only real concern is the university itself so it wisely changes its name to the Universityity and only invites alumni to attend alumni events that exclude the general public who can’t even park anywhere on campus without being ticketed and the general public don’t know about the on-campus events anyway or can’t afford them so it becomes a wonderful Incestity with the widespread acceptance of nepotism and an ensuring that anyone who is actually from the city of the Universityity/Incestity will be poverty-wage adjunct faculty and the highest paid faculty will be people from New York.
I never told anyone I joined a gang
of waitresses at the Rustic Lodge. We slept in the attic. I was fourteen.
Waiting tables we didn't wear uniforms but our own pretty dresses. We traded
dresses back and forth because we were all the same size. Some of us liked some
dresses better than others.
We picked out the guests we wanted
to rob. We followed them at night when they went square dancing or hayriding or
drinking at Murf's. We broke into their cars and guest rooms to rifle their
luggage and closets. We all had to take one thing every night.
In the attic, Tex slept with
Scooter, Joy slept with Thea, Alex slept with DeeDee Bunsberger, I slept with
Nell-Gwyn. Bossing us around was Scooter, a hot-blood from Scranton with rotten
teeth and pink lipstick.
I don't mean we slept together. I
mean we had to use the same beds to sleep in because there were eight
waitresses and four double beds. One johnny. One sink out in the open for
everybody to see how everybody washed. I never told anyone I killed another girl.
its advertising to include
sides of barns, sides of billboards, the backs of stamps, the inside of lamps,
the toll booth operator’s forehead, the toll booth operators’ scrotums, Billy
Corgan’s tongue (both sides), in any vomit outside of CBGB, the lowest depths
of Hell (including the seventh circle of violence, the eighth circle of fraud,
the ninth circle of treachery, the tenth circle of advertising, and a
particular concentration on covering the fourth circle of greed), and every
aspect of the Milky Way from Pluto to the infinite other side of the
universe. They have copyrighted the number 15, the number 666, the number
pi, the word “number,” and the number “word.” The ad agency working for
Geico decides they will official sell their souls to Satan, to Jesus, to
Buddha, to Shiva, to any God who can help increase their CEO’s multi-billion
dollar income even if it means that their children’s children’s children’s
children’s souls will be damned to an eternity of Geico ads in Hell—loud,
bright, cliché-embracing, and absolutely repetitive to the point where Nazi
brainwashing and the most vicious of torture techniques are comparatively
breaths of fresh air.
waited by the gas station bathroom, took a deep inhale of her unfiltered camel
and started throwing smoke rings with each breath. She watched the rings
dissipate in the 4 a.m. air. It was cold and she could feel her nipples harden
against the scratchy wool sweater her mother gave her that last time she was in
Missouri. As she dropped her cigarette butt into a diet whatever soda can she
did a handstand in the middle of the parking lot thinking things might shift in
her gut. A car drove by blasting rap, she stood up and could feel the beat of
the loud music in her body and it made her feel silly. She wanted to be silly.
She banged on the bathroom door again and this time it slammed open. She was
surprised and a little pissed that she’d waited all this time it was empty. She
locked the door, pulled her pants down, sat on the toilet, dug around in her
purse, thought about those tall stands of pines they’d passed on the road and
looked for an outlet for her vibrator.
tried to paint these walls. They’re mustard splotched with careless strokes of
black and the bathroom is ear-sore blue. I asked if I could paint them. The
owners said only neutral colors.
never even flipped through sample strips.
Robby and I just got our own place. Thought it would make us happy—closer.
summer and already dark.
at the table with a half-drunk bottle of Pinot Noir.
call a bad drug dealer. I mean, literally, he was a shitty drug dealer. Almost
never had any drugs. Can you imagine?
stops by anyway and that’s taken care of.
those dreams that used to be are shadows on the new walls.
dad never danced with me at my wedding. (This, of course, was before the
divorce and before Robby.) I can’t remember if my grandfather did, but it feels
like he did. So somewhere in my mind it happened—for real.
well past midnight. We’re at our new place.
doing coke (as if that sounds edgy anymore) and listening to “Little Red