Monday, January 31, 2011

100: Echoless

She stands on the building’s roof, God’s view of an empty city.  Flags rustle in wind.  No cars.  No people.  Clouds scatter overhead, lost kites eastward to barren places.  She awoke and someone had taken an eraser to the world.  Except her.  Why?  She screams, echoless, chases the descending sun.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

99: Animosity

We’re at sea, hanging onto the splinters of a sunken boat. Minutes before, we fought, a routine battle in our ongoing epic.  Then the sinking--the ocean itself bored of our conflict. The sky grays, the water swells, soon we’ll disappear.  But who goes first?  I want it to be you as I’m tasting seawater, feeling my legs becoming cast iron. I’m sure you feel the same.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

98: Monarch

She remembers a white room, a blank grid of tiles.  There’s an itch in her mind, dreams of surgery, procedure, other people’s nightmares.  Her father will stare right through her and she’ll think she’s glass, her soul tunable to the right notes, her mind property of the faceless.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

97: Pilgrimage

Today is the day we all took off on boats.  Land disappeared.  These weren’t precious times.  But we kept our spirits when the world became ocean.  We have supplies. We wave to friends in nearby vessels, as the wind breaks apart our happy cluster.  Our parting words—the world turned land would be far worse.  Smiles and stiff chins, we sail into despondent fleets, flotsam vagrants sulking, as we make our pilgrimage over submerged holy lands.  Instead, we travel elsewhere, the golden roads of our hearts. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

96: Nitpickers Inc.

There’s a fly buzzing about.  What a pigsty this place is, it should be condemned.  My spaghetti with meatballs has too much oregano.  Send it back, burn the menus, hang the chef Mussolini style.  There’s a dust particle on the floor.  Don’t get me started. I’m losing sleep.  Mom calls, gives me grief about that pizza I burned fifteen years ago.  You ruined it, she says, I could’ve broken teeth on the crust.  Mom’s voice is like razor blades on chalkboard.  When are you getting married, she barks, the fifty-third time she’s asked.

Friday, January 21, 2011

95: Time Travel

The kid wakes up each morning, writes a brief letter to someone he doesn’t know. The name is ambiguous, could be either gender. He writes about his thoughts and days. He knows it’s supposed to be a secret, not even to tell his parents or closest friends. He knows he’s supposed to leave it on his window ledge each day. If he watches it, it just sits there, but if he leaves and returns, it’s gone. He has nagging questions. The world stalks his peripheral, yesterday or tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

94: Broken We Are

Broken we are, words from the poet reading his work, and my mind drifted to that day at the river, where there was only us, abundant fish flapping shiny, gentle lapping of waters, rustling of leaves, endless sky, healing of bleeding cracks.

Monday, January 17, 2011

93: Propping Up the Walls

He comes in the front door, says, the sump pump must be blocked, water’s spraying all over the yard every two minutes.  Outside was snow, whistling blasts of ice, howling wind trying to deconstruct the walls.  That’s why there’s water in the basement, she said.  Unrelated, the dishwasher’s leaking water and mice are in the ceiling.  And it’s supposed to snow through midweek.  Constant, accumulating, unyielding.  What do we do, they say in unison.  Then they laugh.  Lights flicker.  Windows rattle.  They light candles.  They drink wine.  They keep the walls from falling.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

92: What's Missing

The camera arced a left-right panorama but could not see below or above. Jones, the station operator, told his visitors, here I see the world, not mentioning what’s missing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

91: Waiting

The doctor said she was pregnant. But she wasn’t showing.  Weeks became months, sonograms became facts and still, nothing.  The doctor, draped in white coat and cross-legged on stool, said, your baby—she—is normal sized, but where she is, I don’t know.  The mother thought about the meals she didn’t eat, couldn’t hold down.  The times she and her father, occupying the same room, resided in different countries.  In the delivery room, she and her husband held hands.  Who will she be, they thought separately, waiting for her to become.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

90: Morning Fog

At the mountain house, he watches her through the window, her form ethereal like the floating shawls of morning fog, thinks, how he loves her.  Always, though, a chasm. In dream, his arms pass through her, unable to grasp flesh.  Nearby, a lake.  He fears she will walk into it.  One morning, she returns from her walk, hair and clothes drowned in water, her face erased.  He pulls her close, able to feel her, water pooling at their feet.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

89: Anything

He tells her, I’m fresh out of ideas.  I can’t write.  Let me think, she said.  Morning into afternoon into evening.  She’s frying oil and garlic in a pan, the seeds of dinner.  He enters the kitchen.  Anything?  She shakes her head.  I might be out too.  He opens windows, wine.  Dinner forms, aromas accumulate.  Well, we could stare at the ceiling all night, she says.  Maybe something will fall down.  Wine flows.  Food disappears.  Into night.  Anything?  No.  Light peaks at the world’s corners.  They sleep dreamless.

Friday, January 7, 2011

88: Carefree

The last time the wind blew I hopped on a leaf and soared.  Carefree, eyes closed, unconcerned where I’d land, what new home was mine.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

87: Prague

Walking through Prague was strange déjà vu.  Everyone he saw looked like ghosts from before.  Old teachers, friends, relatives.  His companion said, Prague has been washed by fire, astronomy has recessed into dream.  Now, dust has resettled, a familiar blanket.  He felt a wind like elementary school.  In the sky, clouds broke like drifting continents, revealing yesterday’s moon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

86: Blue Baby

He said to everyone he knew, I was a blue baby.  There was no other context.  He looked normal, not blue, not stunted in development.  The information was offered not in conversations regarding birth or childhood misfortune.  It was just there, like the weather or ongoing wars.  One might be compelled to ask questions, as his face hung in mid-air, waiting for affirmation.  One might not say anything, pretending this was normal, as if all of us were in some way born blue. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

85: Simulator

You fly in an aircraft, I told them, that simulates zero gravity so you can be weightless.  Then you’re floating about the cabin.  Then you’re flying. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

84: Q&A

Don’t think I’m indifferent to your questions. Maybe you’ll find me dispassionate, detached, emotionless, repressing deep monsters. Some may find me those things. Maybe I am these things. Maybe I am even worse. Maybe I am the answers to questions you’ve not yet asked.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

82: Half-Life

We were back where we started.  All of us pushing 40, youth beyond decay.  Ron, guitar god friend from youth, returned from mountain exile, played half his age.  His eyes were that long ago fire, his hair spitting flames.  Here we were like yesterday, days of doubling time, ensconced in a club, blanketed in metal.  Back home were my wife and kids.  Safe, our time together only just begun.  Speakers blasted sound.  I closed my eyes, became 20 again.  But this wasn’t the end.  All my life left, brilliant days to come.

Friday, December 24, 2010

81: Empty Space

Don’t tell me about black holes.  You’re just like the rest of us.   Your head is empty space and gelatinous white.  The only thing you know is your phone number.  You’re too cool for school.  You don’t have atom-powered brain capacity.  You can’t recite theories like alphabet.  You’re not black rimmed glasses, socially awkward, pocket protector.  Sorry to box you like this.  Sorry to be defeatist.  This is just the way it is.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

80: Cryogenics

Cryogenics, he thinks, the way to keep this forever. Slides in, closes the door. Deep space cold. See you later. Ice takes over.

Monday, December 20, 2010

79: Rock of Ages

The beach calls but I’m 17 and afternoon lazy.  On MTV, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is again the number one video.  The song gets inside, I’m hot, sticky sweet, and it can’t be shaken loose, even as I hate it, its non-metalness.  I’d rather listen to Metallica or Guns N’ Roses.  In one month, senior year starts.  Everyone’s going to love this stupid song.  So I go to the beach and hit waves.  Back home the girl I like doesn’t like me.  She’ll like that song though.  I watch the sunset, scream.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

78: Regenerative Abilities

My wife and I can’t stop our neighbors.  Ted and wife Jane have eight kids—Timmy, Ted Jr., Doogie, Tasha, Dale Jr. (after the race car driver) , Serena Stephanie (one child), and Ralphina.  They live in our yard, eat our food.  No matter how you deter them, they return stronger and more ferocious.  We are the opposite.  My wife on most days is tired, worn down.  Daughter Nell stays holed up in her room.  Son Hunter becomes my shadow, afraid to break off on his own.  We lose parts.  They don’t come back.  We diminish into nothingness.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

77: The Impasse

You say turn off the tv.  But it’s the news, I say, we have to, as responsible citizens.  No, you say, I can’t do it anymore, it’s martinis and slapstick comedies from here on out.  But the horror of it, the widespread destruction.  Kuwait, Valdez, you say, I’ve done my time.  I watch you walk out the room, insistent, shoulders oozing toward the ground, the weight of years.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

76: Like Old Times

You said, we should go grab a pint, just like old times, but it wasn’t.  I stand at the bar’s perimeter, not sure what to do with my hands, where to look.  My oldest’ll be done high school next year, you said, where’s the time go?  I remember holding that child as a baby, wiggly with no control, then later, my own.  We used to talk music, beers, the conquerable future.  The bar crowds were louder, happier, smarter.  I sipped the beer and for a brief moment, there we were, that old place, where we were.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

75: Copper

He fled from screams of messiah. He attained effortless movement, knife slicing air, data streaming through wires. Days before, he touched that lifeless girl, her face glowing metallic even in death.  Her lungs inhaled life.  Her eyes exploded open.   Her death, absorbed into his heart.  Back home, confines ripe with frying oil, he held a fired bullet, painted crusted red.  He squeezed it into a copper coin.  His mother, on her knees, prayed. Now the world knew.  He ran until he stood over deep ocean.  Then he plunged. Into the unknown ruins, the untouched sands, new kingdom of silence.

Friday, December 10, 2010

74: The Neighborhood Sloths

We’ve found our neighbors’ kids asleep on their porch, on our porch, on our patio, on our lawn, and even in our beds. They snore like buzzsaws, become immovable masses, impervious to shakes, nudges, and airhorns, and if you’d ever met their parents, you’d understand how it all fits. You’d wonder just what the heck was wrong with us, why we put with what we do, what glue is it that holds us together, allows us to sleep at night.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

73: Burst

The clock mounted to the building glows in red light.  The sky chimes night.  The city sounds exploding stars.  We hold hands and watch the minutes pound forward.  Beneath us a subway train bursts minor earthquakes.  Cars filled with brilliant lives painted dull.  We grip fingers ever after.  We watch the hour become ours.

Monday, December 6, 2010

72: A Sampling of Complaints

She said, the coffee tastes like cigarettes, pushing it across the table, offensive.  Over there, pock-faced man sad, the pot roast was stringy, conquered carcass hoisted by fork, lame with gristle.  A sampling of complaints written on paper scraps: the bathrooms smell like urine, the pay is meager, the owner has octopus hands.  Two youths sat across the street, heads full of unwritten grievances, spray paint cans in backpack, lighters in back pocket and pondered, who will they deface, how will they burn.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

71: The Multitude

Six of us packed into the Toyota, went to the Metallica concert. We were contorted, an hour drive. The next day, though, we’d become brotherhood, the multitude in black, the those that were there.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

70: Disembodied

I’m here but don’t know where. I’m floating in nebulous, I’m thinking in hazy. Memories of rain on flowers and the cold steel of buildings under construction. How. Where. Why. Fractured formulas of identity.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

69: The Last Option

He couldn’t take it anymore so he jumped from the roof.  Except it didn’t do anything.  He landed on his feet, which were sore for a few hours after but weren’t injured.  Do I go back up, he thought, do I try it again?  Where’s the new lease on life, the altered perspective?  In the house there were the problems still.  At night in bed he dreamed of a boat that sailed to new frontiers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

68: Your Typical Hand

The palm reader refused to read his palm.  She took one quick look, said, no, I can’t, turned away.  Why, he asked.  What’s wrong?  Please, don’t ask.  Please, leave.  Outside, he studied his hand, sniffed it quickly.  Soap, sweat, garlic from lunch.  Your typical hand, he thought.  Footsteps crunch leaves.  Across the street, a man wearing the same shirt, pants, and coat flexed his fingers.

Friday, November 26, 2010

67: Burning Books

He didn’t believe in curses but the book brought bad luck.  A chain of wrecked car, house roof damage, broken foot, and unfaithful lover.  A novel that went from present day to World War II atrocities and a lost city underground.  He stopped and started, stopped again.  Bad things happened, rewrote his life.  Years later, he’d have to stop one of his kids from taking scissors to a Seuss book.  We love books. We respect them.  Go to your room—not mentioning that old book, the curse exorcised with lighter fluid and fire.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

66: Dare

Write something long, she said.  I dare you.  He closed his laptop.  He was never one for dares.

Monday, November 22, 2010

65: His Words Disturbing

His words disturbing.  Kill everyone, kill everything, lay the world to waste.  Call it age thirteen.  Follow the chain: the teacher, the principal, parents, psychologist.  His explanation is, it’s all that makes sense.  He dresses in black.  In his room he imagines the world without his parents.  There’s a library of suicide poems, a catalogue of slasher films.  He’ll grow out of it.  The common refrain.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

64: V

Count the victory, one, two, three, four…. In harmonizing sleep you feel the thrum of old battles only dreamed.  Electricity courses through, the bing bang boom.  The book you’re holding—you don’t understand the particles of thought, the revolutions of letters.  Light years you will be supernova, the curious peering in, your beautiful nuclear, shell-like remnant.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

63: A Safe Box

One vicious winter S and I were driving in an ice storm.  The roads were covered in slick glass and vacant.  Stores everywhere closed—the world shut down.  We drove down a road of Victorian homes, the path lined with trees covered in glistening ice.  We marveled at the scene—toy village of winter, street lights reflecting off the frozen trees revealing pinpoints like faraway stars.  Deadly but beautiful.  This winter is never ending, huh?, I asked.  Yeah, it’s forever, he said.  Ice tinkled on the windows, the roof of the car, a safe box that trudged toward shelter. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

62: Eat Asphalt

He couldn’t stop himself from taking a chisel to the road, picking up chunks of asphalt to stick into his mouth.  The thundering crunch in his skull.  His teeth shattered debris, his cheek flesh scarred, his words become rough coating.  The road, someone would say, sending his brain reeling.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

61: Gravity Gone

If gravity were gone, she said, the world would be a better place.  He stops, thinks about unbound bodies floating upward, colliding with rising cars, street lights and wires, stuff.  They’re looking out an 18th floor window.  He wants to say, what are you thinking, but he can’t.  Between them there are stories, there are years.  She rests her forehead on the window, inhales.

Friday, November 12, 2010

60: Counting to One Thousand

This woman sits next to me, tells me things about myself she shouldn’t know.  My name, the hospital where I was born, the time I almost walked onto the highway.  She was old, wore too many clothes.  Her body creaked.  She mentioned my first day of kindergarten, when I stood outside after the bell rang and cried.  I told her, I could already count to one thousand then, remembering my teacher who held my hand, walked me inside.  Yes, I know, she said, grasping my hand, her fingers like magic markers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

59: Your Disintegrating List

You, the breather, the lover, the survivor, the analyzer, the many things.  The earth is geographies, the heart is a matrix, you say, knowing full well you will die, your list disintegrating.

Monday, November 8, 2010

58: Longitudinal

Silence.  The squish of spaghetti.  Fork hitting plate.  The sigh.  Creak of pushed away chair.  The match strike.  Sear of flame.  The plead.  Shuffling of feet.  The crunch of unsealed plastic.  Muffled tears.  The splatter of tossed strawberries.  Laughter.  The echo of that first summer.  Quiet.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

57: Fit of Frustration

We come to the show armed liked Mossad.  Start a mosh pit.  Your hidden bottles clank.  We know the band.  At first, they point and wave, but then they ignore us.  We get rowdy and stumble.  We get tossed.  You wander off, loose in the city.  I find you slumped over in a dark moldy doorway.  I pick you up, arm over my shoulder and a combat injury walk to the car, flop you into the backseat.  Drive home in dream.  We have no pictures.  We can’t prove we were there. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

56: The Stain

The stain, can it be undone, he asks.  No, the voice says, booming, fatherly, it’s forever.  He looks up into blind glass.  Above, broken skies.  He feels chill, aches of tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

55: Codex Alimentarius

He made a list of foods that kill.  Poultry for salmonella.  Canned foods for botulism.  Beef for colon cancer.  Fish for mercury.  There’s conspiracy here, he thought. I’m biting on this pen, he thought; those plastic particles will suffocate my insides.  You forgot the pesticides sprayed on vegetables, his wife said, behind him. He started to write, but she grabbed the paper and tore it.  The heck with lists, she said.  Just live.  He knew she was more right than studies, research.  That night, he cooked a feast, first of many.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

54: Watching the House Burn

We watched the house burn, holding hands. For years we talked about its history.  A psycho father kills his family, hangs himself.  Every other family moves in, stays awhile, abruptly leaves.  The house sat on the grounds of either a prison cemetery, a typhoid-ravaged boarding school, or an abandoned psychiatric hospital.  We watched the flames, screaming demons eating oxygen.  I stare, transfixed, think I see silhouettes, black snakes of smoke moving uphill through bare trees.  We’ve come here since childhood, stealing kisses in the shadows. We don’t believe in this stuff. You clutch my hand, won’t let us leave.

Friday, October 29, 2010

53: Suckers

Growing up, we had seven cats.  We were suckers for strays, the big baby eyes of kittens.  We also had lemons for cars, bought encyclopedias from door-to-door salesmen.  Uncle Jim would come over, his eyes glassy, his breath malted, and plead with mom and dad, just a twenty, I’ll pay it back next week.  The cats would never go near him.  He’d stick around for an hour or two, make pointless conversation until my mother—his sister—relented.  Then he’d leave.  The cats would reappear, doe-eyed for treats.  Never again, said my parents, hopeless.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

52: Writing Prompts

Write about your house that has been bulldozed. Write about the time bullies jumped you, stole your money, destroyed your backpack. Write about the revenge you concocted, the payback in bullets and knives. Write about when dad hurled his bowling balls down a real city alley after a night of disgust. Write about all the times and all the people. Write about days that never come home.

Monday, October 25, 2010

51: Excerpt from the Exit Interview for the 47th Version of Death

Do you want to know why I quit?  Start with wars, tsunamis, earthquakes.  I can’t keep splitting myself up to meet demand.  I’m hard as bone and all, ha ha, but like #42 I have to say it’s the young kids.  My predecessor warned me.  I know it’s only been 64 years but enough’s enough.  #27 only lasted for 18 minutes so I did better than that.  As for what’s next, I should have an answer like touring the world, hitting the beach but I don’t.  Maybe I’ll just attend funerals, be passive, mourn.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

50: Words I Meant to Write

On May 5, I meant to write this: eyes break night, morning sleepy but fresh, the squishy marble of uncooked bacon. On July 12, this: come closer, please don’t explain the darkness, here we have answers. On October 19, I did write this: bleak, the world Greek statues with destroyed arms and red soot covering flattened buildings, I hate. I didn’t mean to but did. I can’t take it back.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

49: Transcriber

She wrote by hand their book of revolution. A man emerges from the sea. The colonel sees her in the chair, sitting erect, staring straight ahead. Smooth skin the color of wet sand. Young, she could be his daughter. He imagined her hands of concrete bone moving across pages, leaving ink trails. The man from the sea. He is the end. Her piano player’s fingers—they’d have to be bent, broken, rendered unusable. He laughs. Through the open window a jeep backfiring, scents of sea water, pork roasting in a pit.

Friday, February 19, 2010

48: Revenge

She sits on the porch, looks at the backyard of trees and deep woods. The chirping of birds, the rustle of wind on leaves. At night, it’s just blackness, nothing but sounds, her mind writing fictions about what each meant. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. Somewhere tires crunch on gravel circling, never coming closer no matter how much she imagines so.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

47: Come As You Were

A shotgun is a shotgun, a rule never broken. There’s a person running across a field to tell the story to two more. It spreads. The moment dies in lit candles, mourning, those songs played on stereos. Everyone grows up. In your mind you can always revisit. In your mind there’s the moment, scratchy voices, beautiful boy gone away.

Monday, February 15, 2010

46: Clearing the Table

We’re old, bones creaking and cracking, and it’s just after breakfast and I said, who’s going to clear the table. You snap your fingers and say, how’s this, and there went the dishes in the sink, fruit husks in the garbage, table spotless with candle in the center. When did you learn to do that, I said. When’s not the question, you said, and I watched you as you stared out the window, the sky shades of autumn leaves.