Monthly Archives: February 2011

Not Dead Yet

It’s hard to stay together once you’ve watched your partner die.

Katie never understood this. She thought I was being irrational. “Everyone dies,” she said. Or will say, I’m not sure if she’s actually said it yet. “It’s something that happens. But you and I, we’ll always be together, at least some time. And whenever that is, it always exists somewhere in time, and it always will. Even death won’t do us part. So let’s enjoy our time together, for all time.”

It happened — or it happens — in Egypt in the biblical year 2011. No one knows what Katie is going to be doing back there, or precisely when in her own timeline it occurs, but we both know that it happens. Happened. Is going to happen. Whatever. I have to admit, it was my idea. Let’s tour the early Aughts, I said. The Age of Mass Media, so they called it in our history books. Before the bombs. Before the singularity. When mankind was on the precipice of change, speeding towards The Crash, when the rapid development of technologies opened up new opportunities in a global community faster than their less-evolved brains could ever handle.

And so we visited the times when the world truly began to change and evolve into the time from which we came. Our travel itinerary included stops at all of the most important historical events of the era, so that we could witness them first hand. Thus we found ourselves in the territory formerly known as Egypt somewhere near the end of the First Month of the biblical year 2011. Katie wanted to see the pyramids; I wanted to watch a revolution. They’re much more exciting.

We pushed our way through the steaming, sweating crowds of savages and supplicants to get a better view, and that’s when I saw her. She was the same as the woman standing beside me, only older, more tired and worn. She’d lost some weight — not that Katie had much to lose in the first place — and she looked as though she hadn’t slept in years. Perhaps she hadn’t at that. I hesitated for a moment, unsure of whether or not I should direct Katie’s attention to what appeared to be her Future Self before us, but that moment was just long enough to allow a bullet hit her in the temple and splash her beautiful brain across the statue in the square.

Katie and I returned to our hotel room. We slept on opposite sides of the bed that night and never touched. She tried to reach over once, but I moved myself down to the floor. The next day, I told her it was over. It was pointless for us to stay together, knowing that would be our future. I kissed her once before I left, but all I could see was the slow-motion bullet break against her skull.

Sometimes I return to then, and watch the scenario play out in real-time. Maybe one of these times, I’ll point Katie out to herself, and I don’t know, maybe she’ll turn her head to watch and it will cut the air just right to move the bullet off its course and save her life. But every time she dies, and I miss her just a little more.

Avoidance Therapy

I celebrate
fat ankles,
rejoice in
split ends.

I check for
age spots,

I collect
the way others
collect dust.

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Janet has made herself sick on the oatmeal cream pies her grandmother bought her. It’s summertime, so they took a trip to the bakery store over on the bypass, where breads and pastries are cheaper. It’s one of grandma’s habits left over from the days before Newnan had several grocery stores (one of each kind, a Kroger, Winn Dixie, Publix, and a super Wal-Mart) between her brick house on Highway 154 and the mini strip of stores that are slowly going out of business where the bakery is. Every summer Janet drives out there with her grandma to get bread for the french toast or fluffernutter sandwiches they make while her parents are at work.

Janet hides the box as soon as she gets home, stuffs it into the bottom cabinet where the pots and pans go, far in the back behind the cake pans that only get used on holidays and birthdays. She visits the box every hour, when she craves a new one, and by the time her parents get home from work, she’s eaten the entire box.

Her dad doesn’t understand why Janet looks sad during dinner, why she takes long breaks between bites. He hears her crying in the bathroom afterward, but doesn’t ask her why. Instead, he takes the trash out, not noticing the crumpled, empty box of oatmeal cream pies shoved down below food scraps, pencil shavings and cat litter.

Well-Dressed Woman on Set Who Never Seems to Do Anything

Maybe she’s a producer? Lawyer?
Somebody’s agent? Do you know?
Have you ever spoken to that chick?
Has anyone ever spoken to that chick?

I am a mere Production Assistant,
productively assisting by performing
such crucial tasks as: carrying batteries;
standing in one place for upwards of six hours;
peeling labels off of water bottles; copying;
walking briskly; taking out trash;
yelling at people to be quiet; looking
professional whenever possible; accepting
work for slightly higher than minimum wage.

As such, it is well beneath my station to
inquire personally into the matter. Instead,
I have taken it upon myself to begin a top-secret
investigation, code-named “Who the Fuck is She?”
Any and all information you could provide
would be greatly appreciated, I assure you.

Oh, wardrobe. Yeah, I guess that makes sense.
Damn, she can take me in for a fitting anytime.

My City is a Fickle Mistress

My city is a fickle mistress, one
whose kisses drip with history
from chapped lips, coarse and
warm. When she wails, her rough
winds break through skin, and her
icy knuckles crack against my
cheeks. Flushed red from the
impact’s heat, her rage strikes
hard ’til nostrils bleed and fingers
plea for numbness over pain.

But then she radiates with yellow
eyes and smiles through a silver
sky and whispers softly, sweetly
through the breeze. She drapes
on me a blanket made of balmy
love and memories, convincing
me to never want to leave.


(with thanks to Paula Kelley)

Much of my life has been spent
breaking things indiscriminately:
toys, bonds, watches, promises.
But this unspoken philosophy of

breaking things indiscriminately
does not apply to the line.
This unspoken philosophy
contains that sole exception. It

never applies to the line.
Words are chosen carefully,
the sole exception being
in the midst of heated discourse.

Otherwise, words are chosen carefully.
The lines don’t piddle down the page
or end sharply, as in heated discourse.
Staccato, terse, jarring line breaks,

words like pellets piddling down the page,
is simply not my preferred method.
I’ve nothing against jarring line breaks
if there’s some thought behind them.

Simply put – my preferred method
is probably every bit as tiresome
to read. There is thought behind
it all, really almost punishingly so.

The arrangement is every bit as tiresome
as balancing a checkbook, or matching socks.
They are chores, these words, punishingly so.
Undone, they silently nag at me.

Unbalanced figures and mismatched socks
sit in festering, remonstrative piles
unmoved as I ignore the silent nagging.
The words, on paper, not reviewed

will also fester; remonstrative piles
unchecked for indiscriminate breakage.
These words, on paper, unreviewed,
like so much of a life spent breaking.

The Manager’s Delight

This story turned out to be much, much longer than 500 words, so I’ve cut it off around 500. Click the link at the bottom to expand the post and read the rest.

“Where are we going?” Rob asked. He leaned forward in the driver’s seat as though the dark were a tunnel he could see his way out of.

“E-ka, it’s this hibachi restaurant. It’s up here on the right. You see the Wendy’s? It’s that street right after.”

Hailey massaged the left side of her neck that had been aching since she woke up that morning. She had lain in the hotel room and listened to Rob brushing his teeth in the tiny bathroom, imagined him looking through the mirror and straight at her. She couldn’t for the life of her, however, imagine what he would be thinking.

“God damnit, what do these people have against street signs anyway?”

“Joan and Frank didn’t build the roads here. No need to take it out on them.”

“I’m not taking it out on them,” was his defense.

Hailey nodded, more to test the effect of her massaging than in agreement.

They pulled into the little strip mall that housed E-ka, the restaurant where Joan suggested they meet up for dinner while Hailey and Rob were in town. The strip had a Big Lots and a car rental service. Aside from the Big Lots, all of the storefronts were dark, several of them vacant with blue and white FOR LEASE signs in the window prompting you to call Josh Sheffield. Rob pulled into a parking spot; he jerked the emergency brake up before the car was stopped all the way. Hailey opened her door, stepped out, and leaned back in to speak to her boyfriend.

“You coming?”

“I’m here,” he said.

Joan and Frank sat on a tiny bench at the entrance of the restaurant. When they saw the other couple, they stood and Joan fidgeted the way Hailey remembered her doing. They exchanged brief, self-conscious hugs.

“It’s going to be just a few minutes,” Joan said. “I think they’re just clearing off a table for us. We’ll be with other people. I hope that’s okay.”

Rob nodded, looking away, and Hailey spoke up. “That sounds great! It smells fantastic in here.”

Joan’s smile had a hint of self-imposed guilt. “We can’t get enough,” she said. “Frank and I come here for our anniversaries, for birthdays. We even have our favorite chef and they treat us so well.”

“So well you can’t even get your own table,” Rob mumbled. Hailey wondered if anyone besides her heard him. Joan turned to Frank and kissed him on the cheek, so Hailey figured she hadn’t. She turned to Rob and gave him a dagger look.

“That your Camaro out front?” Rob said to Frank.

Joan shook her head and looked at Frank.

“No, we’re the proud owners of that Nissan Quest out there. Baby blue,” he added, pulling Joan to him with the arm draped on her shoulder. He kissed her on the forehead and she recoiled in mock embarrassment.

“Ah,” Rob said, nodding.
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