Monthly Archives: March 2012

Overhearing

It was another dinner out, the third of the week. Brenda had told him, after thinking it all these years, it’s not a fair tradition, this idea that the woman has to always cook, so you better pull your weight. Her adamant withholding mixed with his assumed ineptitude, so they went to restaurants almost all the time.

“How’s the salmon here?” Max had to speak up over the rolling din of the crowded hall. He never remembered if he liked what he had gotten before. Once they figured it out, there wasn’t much for them to say.

Even with the noise, she heard the couple at the next table (how could she not, the place was mobbed). The man kept raising his voice, while the woman shot out short bursts of syllables. In her peripheral vision, Brenda saw the late twentysomethings were leaned in to each other, hands on the table, tense. She put the earpiece of her glasses in her mouth and repositioned herself to listen in. Max wouldn’t care; what did they have to talk about, anyway?

‘she isn’t even….barely ever see….only a….’
‘it’s the way it looks’
‘shouldn’t care about….why would I ever any…’

This was like catching a favorite concerto on the car radio, and then losing the station signal when the best movement starts. Wiping the side of her mouth with the napkin, she used the motion to scooch her chair a little closer.

‘it’s not like that.’
‘it seems it.’
‘we aren’t your parents…end that way…’

“Did we order the Chardonnay?” Max bellowed. He had grown annoyed at how forgetful he had become.

Brenda nodded quickly and shot him a look that she hoped said, “Now hush.” She let her eyes wander the bare white walls of the large restaurant, planning to glide them over the table to her right. They were halted, however, by the return stare of the terse woman. In the exchange of looks, this woman made it clear that Brenda’s intrusive eavesdropping had been noted.

Trying a polite smile, Brenda turned away first, back to the empty small plate in front of her. White that somehow didn’t match the white tablecloth. Putting her glasses back on and took a sip of water. The couple had stopped their discussion, and Max had nothing new to say. She strained, but she could only her the circling clatter of anonymous patrons talking and eating in other parts of the restaurant, somehow sounding very far away.

College Radio

Lately I’ve eschewed NPR
on the morning drive
in favor of college radio.

And from what I can tell,
college radio deejays
come in two flavors.

First – the Supremely
Bored & Put-Upon.
“I GUESS I’ll tell you

who that band I just
played was, although
if you were cool, you’d

already know.” I feel
conspicuously out of
it, and that’s the point.

Second – the Hyper
Enthusiastic Muso.
“Here’s the brand new

Courtesy Flush song,
off their new EP! Tad
Powell produced it!

He also plays in
Hardly Ideal; they’re
at Poo Poo’s tonight!”

They are barely able
to stop themselves
from saying “Yay!”

A Month Of Sun Days

Mayan calendars of the past
Ones with kitten photographs
Both kept time on pause
Neither made to last forever

Is that the genius of it ?
The hand of ancient man
Reaching for the stars
Turning them to treasure

Stage-lighting our sky
Reminding modern humankind
Who think we can’t
Be too sure

There are more great days
On this sun-bathed paradise
It’s our turn
To paint tomorrow

Fashion stellar patterns
From galactic gems aglow
Pin a broach of hope
Upon the land

Come up with a new
Time shorthand
Let us all get
Back to the future.

my cat, my car–

–fall out of a book I never finished reading. The pictures show a life I no longer own, someone else’s memories of silver metal and steering wheel, white fur, fat and round as a pin cushion, and you. You’re not actually in the photograph. But see? There. And there. And there. And see, there. I see you there.

I Don’t Drink Coke but I Will This Once

I always hated the things I was becoming when I wasn’t there
yet or knew I was heading in that general direction or things
I once was a couple days or years thirteen to eighteen maybe
twenty-two definitely twenty-four I I I so many of them crawling
through the streets of New York and the layered places and why
couldn’t we see it coming like a buggy kicking up sand as it brakes?

Imitation is less often flattery than it is jealousy or misunderstanding
and and and how do I ramble majestically with you sitting next to me?
I can’t explain any part of this without telling you another story so
let’s talk about something else sometimes it rains in Southern
California despite what the songs say and it gets cold and once
the clouds break we stand outside and pretend to be lovers

lost in the deluge like we might on a regular basis back east
if it weren’t such a special occasion but it is so lets eat fish which
I’d do for you even though I don’t and I’d drink this I won’t like it
but I’ll pretend for you for you is what it should say or read or
record onto a golden disc and shoot into space partly because
I love you and partly because it’s much too hard to explain and

partly because I’ll keep trying ’til I’m me some way else.

Stumped

SHE stands in the light, her hair pulled up in a casual sleepover ponytail. She looks into a(n invisible) mirror in front of her.

SHE
So — um — okay so — I think I’m confused.

Lights go up suddenly to reveal that HE is lying behind her, naked, in a bathtub full of ice. He has one hand missing, and a wound on his back where a kidney might have been.

SHE
I drank three Bloody Marys, right? So — in the bathroom, and first, that’s disgusting, I don’t know who drinks that V8 crap, it’s so like — ugh — the texture — and but so anyway — and so like I turn around the first time and then — he was there.

He starts to whistle “Twisted Nerve.”

SHE
I don’t know, the girls I babysit for, they were talking about it before they went to bed, and I had the house to myself now, and I wasn’t sure — because I thought it was turn around 3 times? But maybe it was drink one Bloody Mary, and I don’t know, I tried Wikipedeing it but they have like the most worst service out at this house and so I couldn’t use my phone and then stupid Mr. Bailey has their internet all password protected so I said you know screw it you know I’ll just try it out. So I did.

She looks back at the man in the tub.

SHE
And anyway isn’t Bloody Mary supposed to be a woman? Right? Her name’s “Mary” — which — I know there’s guys named Stacey or whatever but that’s stupid — but so clearly I did something wrong — obviously because I don’t remember there being a naked man.

He slowly stands up from the bathrub. He moves towards her.

SHE
And like I don’t know is that something I’m supposed to be taking care of? I mean twelve bucks an hour to watch the Disney Channel with these brats, that’s fine but the Baileys never mentioned anything about some gross naked guy and like it’d be one thing if he was cute but he’s got all like the hand thingie and — ugh — gross —

He towers over her from behind and lifts his stumped arm, extending it over her shoulder as if pointing at the (invisible) mirror in front of her, dripping blood onto her clothes.

SHE
So I don’t know if I’m supposed to clean it up or if it’s just some weird like whatever and then hello would you please stop bleeding on me? Ugh. Like see this, now I have to get my shirt drycleaned and like you’re not paying me enough to deal with this like creepo —

She gags, coughing up blood, as He jabs a knife into her lower back. He continues carving into her, cutting something out. Finally he drops the knife on the ground and thrusts his hand into her back, pulling out her kidney. He pushes her deadweight off of him, dropping her limp corpse into the bathtub behind them.

He takes her kidney, feels around his back, and places it inside his own gaping wound. Once he has it in the right place, he reaches back down and picks the knife up off the floor.

He looks at the bloody stump of his own hand, then looks back to the girl in the bathtub, then back at his own hand. He turns around and reaches for her arm.

BLACKOUT.

inked – pt. iii

you leave with a clear image shaved
into your mid-level derma, hidden under
a black bandage—nonstick plastic
with slits to let the gauze inside
breathe and absorb the ink and
blood still dripping from the art.

a bruised ache beneath
the weeping art turns
into a vibrant sunburn,
tender and raw, more like
the gaping wound it is.

moisturize while the picture
changes from the smooth
sunless burn, to the ragged scab
with colored crust, to the thin
opaque sheet that hardened blood
leaves like tight, discarded
snakeskin; just the right shade
to make you wonder if the ink
has already faded. when that

peels away (like a sunburn
again), the tattoo will look
normal, like it belongs, like
a birthmark you needed
a little help uncovering.