Archive for September, 2007

September 27, 2007

"You Lost Your Word”

We chased your word for the better part of Tuesday—on rootsy paths and off them, through sewer drains, and up frozen waterfalls. I hailed a taxi when the sun turned down, but you wouldn’t hear of paying the fare from here to there, much less empty-handed.

            So we froze to sleep under stars and breath clouds. We made myths for the morning from odd limbs of the constellations we could remember. Orion lost his legs, Cygnus his wings. We added them to the Argo’s hull and made a walking, flying boat. If we ever wound up in the constellations, we’d know how to get around on any terrain.

            And wouldn’t you know; your word licked our faces during the night. When we woke, you scanned the dirt and I the sky. There were leads: the feeling was Friday but we knew it wasn’t; your right foot itched; I peed for almost a whole minute behind a tree and worried about my shoes. All the lesser radiations and gravitations from the celestials had been knocked out of whack by the word’s wake.

Of course we didn’t pack the rocketship. Of course.

            Better take that taxi, I said.

            Yeah, you said. I guess.

            Our mood improved in orbit; we had rehearsed the steps the night before. Cut and paste. Our Argo looked sleek, and handled like a hummingbird. I The trail stayed in space, so we used the solar sails.  could’ve gotten us past Mensa in three minutes, but you said take it slow. No faith.

            Thursday came. Roundabout Pegasus’s neighborhood you got morose again.

Is it even worth it? you asked.

Sure, I said. Isn’t it your favorite?

I’ll pick another.

But you’ll never be able to say it again. You said it when we were naked, when we ate spicy foods, when you sneezed, when the shower took too long to warm up.

I’ll change, you said.

We’re finding that word.

I rigged up the sails full on to the wind, then took us close to an asteroid so Argo could jump off it for an extra boost. The boat crouched down, the sprung off into the next constellation, the asteroid spinning into the field behind us, pinball-knocking into every other space rock.

You need your words, I said. Or at any rate I do.

September 23, 2007

"Silent Island”

Silver-backed gorillas roamed here. Because they liked the willows’ sweet young limbs, I think. By night they crept up to the umbrellas of the willow leaves—silently, as if we minded their prunings or their presence. Marie and I looked on from our glass watching room, built specially to view our island. When the moon was full enough, tiding the sap to the surface of the trees, the gorillas would hum as they ate.

Marie hummed with them—alien melodies in unnamed, unventured scales. Lazy Saturday mornings we sat together at the piano, trying to recreate the gorilla music. We never got it quite right, as though the correct keys lay in between the ones on the keyboard. The gorilla music always fell through the cracks.


I was fishing, she gardening—tending her jasmine. She asked why the sand was beet red.

High iron content, I said. Or some volcanic thing; you know how it is. Probably good for the plants.

Are we safe?

The gorillas seem to think so.


Winter approached, and the gorillas’ songs got higher, shrieking. Marie and I stopped listening to the awful noises outside. We stayed towards the middle of the house where the beasts’ howling couldn’t reach. One morning we found bloody scratches on the southern side of the house.

I bought a hunting rifle.

One night got so horrid, the noise forced Marie into the bedroom to throw a pillow over her head. They all sang at once, a devil’s choir. I feared the watching room windows might crack.

For the first time, a gorilla came up close to the watching room window. He stared at me, eyes wild and wide, staring through the storm of noise. He did not look angry, but took two steps back and lowered his head at the glass wall. I aimed my rifle and fired. The next morning I replaced the one pane of glass—the only broken item in the house. Even on full moons, the gorillas were silent. Marie and I returned to the watching room.


In the spring, we noticed the birds didn’t sing. I saw none in the mornings during my daily stroll. I caught no fish.

And the jasmine wilted.

And the floor shook

And the ground opened

And the house fell

And Marie howled

And I howled

And the island went silent again.


The glass in the watching room is all shattered, sharp angles. Broken like the branches leftover from the moonlight willow feasts. Fronds curl under the window border and into the frame of the room, as do grass and sand and water. The walls ought to be white, but terrible forces have driven the white away. Only the island’s true colors remain.

Marie sits on the watching room sofa, humming the gorilla’s old tune.

Why are you humming?

It’s too quiet.

September 16, 2007

"Fishing in the City”

The square-jawed man kneels in Central Park (great love lives in New York alone).

A gold ring rolls in pastel blue knit fingers.

A gasp of the chill air.



Or that’s how the camera catches it. I’ll catch it too, if I wait long enough under this tree, because autumn cold cuts sharpest under sycamore trees planted in the sidewalk. The orange atmosphere cast by outside nightlights only refines the edge. And if I can wear a scarf or a button-down coat (felt suitably frayed), oh!—the romance of the city. Fishing for the perfect autumn scene.

Under this unfilmed sycamore I smell cigarettes and the passing trash truck. A shrill drunkard stabs the air. An ambulance howls on the next block. I wipe mucus glisten from my nose and stick ungloved hands into pockets, nary a gasp or a ring or a square jaw.

            I’m going inside.

September 11, 2007

"Tornado Chasing”

My Pennsylvania hills keep the air too still for these fibers, twisting across the cornfield miles, down from the greater rope choking the sun. Father and son, these cords, raining over their empire of dust. The dust makes them great and gray.


We came to Tulsa to watch the sky rip but we never expected the pieces would fall. Hail tries to break the ground, hunting more dust for the empire. A pine tree drills into the road crossing ours. Freight trains are screaming—tomorrow we’ll be deaf.


We think only of the sky, the orgasmic horror of the sky. But the houses—they don’t run, and you expect them to. You want a house to run when the father turns overhead and the son twists toward it.  No legs sprout. The house disappears and we—


We catch it all on camera. Boards crack; gas lines rupture.


We cheer.

September 11, 2007


Red Lobster’s the only game in town for lobster I mean you’re landlocked here what can you do? Twenty minute wait she says we got this buzzer it’ll go off when a table’s ready


That guy looks good. Blue rubberbands. The left claw’s so much bigger. Southclaw.


Mama mama did you know lobsters come in blue? And I heard


 I heard they can split down the middle red and black and and


and they pee from their heads like 3 feet like a like a jet in the water.


3 feet—Southclaw has superpowers.


Listen I mean twenty minutes I’m not really feeling it there’s a sushi bar downaways I think and plus lobsters can pee out their heads so

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