I'd been sent to Florida by my brother and my mother with a wad of cash and a mission to set my dad back on the straight and narrow. He met me at the airport like he'd promised, but he hadn't even taken me to his house yet, and already I felt like we were neck deep in his new life.
Jimbo still met up with a couple of guys from his last stint, a warehouse packing job he'd ditched in January, at McCabe's Bar down near the tracks. He could see them drifting away, their conversations gritted with the names of new asshole clients and sons-of-bitches managers who didn't know shit about running a loading dock operation. Names he didn't recognize though he nodded and drank his beer and listened to them rant. Crandall was the smart one. Sure as hell smarter than those lame-ass managers, he could do any figure in his head faster than someone could punch it into a calculator, only he was cross-eyed and would never get beyond running the forklift. Hood wasn't so bright, but he was big. Like the boy, he'd be a good prop. He told them his idea. Maybe it would stall the drift. Crandall laughed.
There was order to the world under my father's microscope. Order that could be plated, identified, and named in 24 hours. Examination, diagnoses, positive verification. Truth alive and well in a Petri dish. I believed it. I followed my father through the hospital, his extra lab coat to my ankles. It was his world—sterile, orderly, familiar.
In my world, I am cleaning my house. The air is pungent with ammonia and Mr. Clean. It reminds me of Mr. Foster at Riverview Medical, his floor buffer spinning back and forth across the tile floors, orange cones dropped behind him, trail of orange cone breadcrumbs. He spread his hands out for me, purple half-moons sunken into his fingertips where he had been treated for a staph infection.
All my life, as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer, but I'll be the first to admit I've never exactly been a literary flame. Improper use of dependent clauses, run-ons. Sentence fragments. In school I had this professor who would say that in order to be a great author, you've got to have a passion for something other than writing. She did not mention that this passion had to be in addition to a passion for writing, something which I was also conspicuously lacking. I didn't really have strong feelings for anything, but I did enjoy smoking pot and playing video games, just not the cheesy ones where the guys sprayed sweat instead of blood when you punched them out. I received a C+ in Creative Fiction 105. I dropped out of school a few days before the end of my sophomore year.
Paul Verlaine gave a hoarse grunt as he woke, rose wearily from his bed, and fell into the Thames. I was walking to my flat, having just returned to London on the early train from Oxford after delivering a lecture entitled "Tropological Monism and the Crumpet," and the sight of this venerated leader of the symbolist movement plunging in to our fine river filled me with dread. Luckily, I remained calm and flung my attaché case into the river, urging Verlaine to "Grab on, old boy!"
Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. The planter, who is Man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the farm. The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft, and the soul is subject to dollars. The priest becomes a form; the attorney, a statute-book; the mechanic, a machine; the sailor, a rope of a ship.
In this distribution of functions, the scholar is the delegated intellect. In the right state, he is, Man Thinking. In the degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker, or, still worse, the parrot of other men's thinking.
25 September 2008
At the turnpike a doe lies stiff
along a median of dry grass. Over her black
nose and eyes, an occasional fly
stirs. Summer is here.
18 September 2008
In their shared lagoon, the unfinished twin's head
twisted against the head of the whole twin,
as if her mouth might reach her sister's,
and there might be oxygen to spare.
18 October 2008
Barbed wire feels good sliding down the throat.
Coated in frost, barbs pierce un-gloved flesh, rotting posts.
Wire dangles into snow.
27 October 2008
When I woke in our small boat I knew
only the sound of water. His words were
something else the night had changed.
He had not noticed my sleeping
or chose to ignore it. His story, perhaps,
something he needed to release:
the black world holding him close
and alone for his act.
Then the sky is not in your clouds. And if the wings are not firmly attached to the mind and the armrest grown restless, recline. When the blue-suited voice of reason asks if you want the whole can and ice with that and not if you'd like her back, you can see how nothing is securely fastened.
18 November 2008
Say I'm the bone once believed
to raise our dead up
from the cold or that I believe
in anything but the speed
of each sublimating tumble
when ice moves directly into air
or when we do, weightless
You croon like Johnny, and you look like June.
To hear your thrilling trill, to take my stress
for one more song, shy son, I'll trade the moon,
your husky voice is best, I do confess.
2 November 2008
All of the crabshacks are burning,
gulls are circling
the open crates of avocados in the snow
even the earth's gravity.
This must be the judgment.
8 November 2008
She said in the dark church kitchen
that the moon was on her
and so she put her last clean sock up inside her,
that she slept last night
in an automobile, was sober
but wouldn't be much longer,
that the fires choked her
the smoke, she thought, was greasy
and intolerable like Phoenix itself.
5 November 2008
The filling station like a blue can
of sardines edged with rose granite,
rope and wooden ore buckets
at the high-water nest of burning grass
in the baking mud of the palo verde.
15 October 2008
At dinner tonight, you put
hot sauce in my water glass, and I thought you were perfect.
You were wearing loafers, which didn't suit you at all.
I was thinking of the war, which I never do, but those tanks
lumbered in my dream, and I am still shaken.
12 October 2008
Even today when every hour latched neatly to the next
(and each seemed to be the start of something) they were there:
your fingers clutching a splintered handrail, the clean crease
of your black collared shirt, your face staring at your face
2 September 2008
pigeons startling out
gutted light nor dark
rubble and litter chimes
in the gut
an instance of
5 September 2008
One star sharpens
and blindly pours out
all its death, one's pinned
open, a yellow surge
emerges in a slur
of eyes rolling back
15 September 2008
Always said we'd travel, but he's busy
as a dust storm and done already landed
where he's like to stay, the ground
floor a that new fancy store in Hayford
that smells all through like perfume, and sounds
like high heels clackin in circles.
12 September 2008
We spit the sucked off pulp off one side
of the porch, then spit the pumpkin seeds
into wooden bowls while Dad shook spices
in a Ball jar, something secret, something
different than the secret thing for popcorn
he called "Magic," seasons humming into
open drawers and cookie sheets. We wanted
only to carve but did this work for him.
24 October 2008
I am buying rifles
from a black & white
catalogue in 1952, outside
a man high up
scrapes years from a
billboard, a candidate's face
and half a Mercedes
There was something about the way Toland just hung there in the closet that suggested to Harlan she had for him some very good news. Is it my hair?, she asked. Harlan looked at its fetish of brown loops and decided it was not, after all, her hair that made him think she had for him some very good news. Is it my wrists?
If you were really dead, thought Harlan about Toland-in-Heaven, I would let you go. Then while I was at it, I would sort into shapes I could understand, all your difficult disguises. There are so many. I would hold your death in my heart and sharpen on it. Where we used to go to be alone, I would hold apart us together.
30 October 2008
the self's heavy architecture
acing the wonder quiz
28 September 2008
His knife plinks the ribs' curve.
Salmon organs spread,
a girl's coral dress come undone.
Overhead, gulls wing against the sky,
angled shapes that collapse as they drop.
22 September 2008
I'm here for a second D & C because the first D & C after a missed miscarriage due to Blighted Ovum resulted in heavy bleeding for the past 6 weeks now I can barely stand up and last night thought I am finally bleeding to death and Arielle said, oh God this doesn't sound good, maybe you should lie down, bleeding like that. I mean women have babies when they sit on the toilet… I mean the bleeding might be worse there because of gravity and, I don't know, maybe go to the hospital? and Arielle hates hospitals