The Ten Commandments (February 2019)
This was his city, but DP had only so many ways through it. He’d taken one path this morning—from his apartment building to Preble Street. That was a route. Back was another. To the supermarket yet another. And the AA meeting at St. Angelo’s….
You practice saying it, shifting tone and emphasis, using euphemisms like My father’s no longer with us—which sounds fucking stupid—until the fits become shorter and with fewer tears. It feels like progress, but already your throat is shriveled and hard as a walnut, and your ears are ringing with condolences from those who’ve been through it, and those who haven’t…
T. L. Sherwood
The Eye of Florence
My feet were warmed by sand, then reddened from the sun. You drove into town for Noxzema, offered to apply it. I nearly said yes to that which I found sensual and you a duty. Chelsea was getting married. It made sense to stay together during her destination wedding though we couldn’t manage it in New York…
It’s early morning and the artisanal coffee on which I’ve recently splurged combined with the blinding sunlight are making me hallucinate. I know that sounds weird, but a single cup of coffee can do that to me. Maybe I need to knock off the qigong. Anyway, I’m watching the sweet potato latkes on my breakfast plate breathe…
Dorothée de la Forêt
As always, a treat to hear from you. Tried calling, but your phone settings must be on OFF. I understand the rationale for this, and without “demonizing” anyone, I support it. How are you holding up at your mother’s house?…
Dark Side of the Juke
I used to spend my time alone in the dark, killing myself with sad songs, recounting every hurt,
the hundred frightful times I said I need you to an empty room. Public sadness scares me, stemming
from the year my mother set up lawn chairs in the graveyard, the year my brother chose silence
with a trigger…
Seeing Each Other
Anuja and her friends decided to meet in midtown at that sports bar they liked so much – where they could get half-off draft beers at happy hour. They activated their phone tree and slowly assembled from across the city near Grand Central Station after work.
Clustered in a corner around a stand-up table, they told their stories. There was the day of the attacks, and Anuja’s memories of racing uptown…
His Hands as Alphabet
The boyfriend has large hands. Larger than hers. Slender fingers, piano hands, her mother would say.
Sometimes, the boyfriend’s hands are two ms, like this, mm, when he has to grab the thin of her upper arm, holds her tightly, you’re being unreasonable, sometimes she is unreasonable…
A Marconigram for Margaret
A salamander who grew up in the shadow of the messaging machine that is the sun, Margaret receives a Marconigram from her childhood friend, Delphine.
The message is printed on paper that crinkles in the light of day and curls like the chorus of a long, lost song…
The last time I was ill, a lover fed me bitter lemon on a silver platter. This time, my Dutch roommate rolls me what he coins ‘the best joint in all of Cholula’. We lay on my bed under fairy lights imported from IKEA and I played This Old Dog by Mac Demarco on the ukulele…
The Angriest Man in the Neighborhood
The car alarm started at 6:13 PM. It continued even after its initial three wails, signalling that it’d be screaming indefinitely. I went to the Tims at the gas station for dinner, hoping it’d be silent when I returned, but no; it was still sounding off …
Ashley did not accompany her mother to the abortion clinic. Her mother drove out of state, to Rhode Island, for reasons Ashley, at fifteen, did not understand. Going to the clinic in Boston would be easier; her mother could take the T there and save some money…instead of paying a buddy of her boyfriend’s to use his family’s spare car…
Everyone believed him, that little shit. His pretty face and his pretty voice. How sad, the nymphs crooned, smoothing his brow, how tragic. He knew what he was doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he let loose the snake. The pain was ecstatic…
Pretending at Life
We pull the dining table out from under the ropes of blooming kudzu, brush off the banana slugs clinging to the folding metal legs, set it down carefully, together, in the flattest part of the yard. Out of the twisted green vegetative mass come two chairs, their flowered cushions disintegrated but still serviceable…
Looking For a Home For One Dozen Egg Yolks
“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Not that it was a man who put us asunder. No, our sundering was caused by a perky redhead who moved in next door and always needed help with something. Leaky faucet? Oh don’t worry, Gavin will be right over with a wrench and a smile…
At the Lake
Adolescence would have been unbearable, if not for the poet.
The poet was brought to me by Alicia, who stuttered. Her stutter was not the territory of language or even sound. It was not the stutter of my mother when she answered the phone at work. The click of the receiver picked up and then Ka-ka-Kathleen Kinney, an engine revving, a needle stuck…
In A Small, Square Woodland
The apartment thing was weighing on the man. The dog went on yanking him down the dim path, veering into the woods first one way then the other, per some plan of her own. There was no getting away from anything; the back decks of the nearest houses were too near, and from where the path doubled over the shoulder of a hill, the lighted shopping centers by the highway stood out in clear, crisp miniature against the twilight…
Four Million Ants
Steven K nibbles on my lip when we have sex. Not in the sensual way, but also not in the “giving you bruises gives me a hard-on” way. It’s like in a scratching-an-itch-with-his-two-front-teeth kinda way. An itch that isn’t his though, that’s for sure…
The Involuntary Muse
Sitting at the table eating my cornflakes, and being careful not to accidentally dip my school tie in the bowl, an unpleasant memory crept into my mind. I remembered how I lost the tie I had before this one. Well, I shouldn’t say lost really. Belinda Scott, a girl both older and stronger than me from school, tried to strangle me with it…
disfarm (dɪsˈfɑrm) v. –farm·ed, –farm·ing, –farms. —tr. 1. To slaughter before raised to full-auction. For example: It’s too bad he was disfarmed 17 years before folks would see anything partial in his pictures. 2. a. To pull out by the root. Such as: He believed the tornado disfarmed him when he was a baby, tossed him on a lineage far too small to warry of, his shoes still in Indiana…
The Daughters of Albion had been monitoring metempsychosis since before the death of Orpheus, whose latest resurrection was documented by the Daughters when he reincarnated as a sapling in the Amazon rainforest, having spent an eternity circling the alternate histories of Roman conquest…
Thanks for taking the time to meet me at Cuppa-Joe today.
Here is a quick recap of our discussion and actionable items:
Deposit – For two years, six months, and thirteen days we have amicably split the monthly rent and utilities, as well as groceries and Wolfie’s vet bills…
The man’s children are being held captive, which is why he writes the stories in the first place. He sends in the story about the children and waits and waits to hear back. He is impatient, takes up various sports—horse shoes, backgammon, online poker. Sometimes he has a drink, but just two, the ice in his glass goes clink, clink….