A Softness Creeping
…Florida in the summer, his body as gummy as taffy, he tries to entertain himself while he waits to go home. His parents talking about a divorce all through the winter while they slept in the same bed. At ten, he feels things he can’t name. He doesn’t know this is normal. It’s something he keeps hidden like a coin…
The Third Day
I didn’t see the nurse’s face until the third day. The first two had been constant blurs of bad dreams, echoes crashing (more crashing) in a hallway somewhere, the faint smell of flowers and tea. I knew my name, I knew it was winter, and I knew something terrible had happened…
…If you were her first boyfriend, she chose a Grateful Dead bootleg while you sparked up the good stuff. Later in bed she put on Neil Young, lowered the volume so you’d cradle her in your lap, tip your ear to her speaker, listen carefully to 3AM love song lyrics, Let’s run away to Sugar Mountain…
Dream Interpretation for Beginners
Running and running but from what? means your father didn’t love you or if he did it was
via a complex system of fist bumps and puns. Your teeth falling out means you regret
that time you were mean to Lara Mellon in 3rd grade for her stupid name and how she had
to stand out in the hallway for birthday celebrations because Jehovah’s Witness…
My Blue-gloved Beloved
I like this doctor, though I’m not sure he’s even a doctor. This sculptor of oral appliances for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Whatever he is, I like him. He’s sexy in a hail-beaten, Harvey Keitel sort of way…
Nini Johana has big bones, acrylic nails, breasts that are always on a diet. She wears pocketless jeans and hair that glows like Times Square comedy clubs, wields a blowdryer like a weapon unlike the country club ladies who scald my scalp without properly baking my frizz…
Eric Scot Tryon
A Mathematical Certainty
Colombia has 1,129 cities. Bogotá is one of them. Bogotá has 7.413 million citizens. Marie is one of them. Marie has 35 classmates. Tomás is one of them. Tomás has 13 emotions on Tuesday. Anger is one of them…
She pushes the plate at the boy, piled high with cornmeal mush drowned in syrup and charred sausage on the side. Eat everything you can, she says and takes the cigarette balanced on the edge of the table. She presses the icy sandwich bag to her cheek…
Three Men Walk Into a Room
…Well, we didn’t actually find him. Some kids playing along a thawing riverbed did. One wrong step and a whole shelf of frozen sediment came free, revealing the curved back with vertebrae visibly pressing through. His skin, the color and texture of worn leather, still has frost crystals clinging to it in some places. Between his immense fingers, behind his vast earlobe…
Jocelyn Jane Cox
Black, White, and Red All Over
If a skunk wanders into the shed underneath your back deck, he might turn out to be rabid.
If the cops come and shoot it, the stench might invade your house and stay for weeks no matter how many vanilla candles your mother burns.
If you come back to your locker to get your lunch box, you might smell your house as soon as you open the metal door…
We spent hours under an old blanket on the water bed, dragging feet against leg, giggling, and telling ghost stories with implausible paradigms, and crude jokes when we ran out of tales. The bawdier, the better. You told me of the Yoruba widow and the Tiv priest. I laughed long and loud until the space between my eyes hurt…
In the world of almosts, you don’t swerve. You don’t extend your right arm over my chest to keep me from being thrown forward when the airbag hits. You don’t yell “Brace!” so our friend in the back whose singing with his headphones on can have an extra millisecond to hold onto something. You don’t make sure the car hits the guardrail on your side…
The Mouse Mat
Margaret was two days dead when the mouse mat arrived. It came by UPS delivery, one of those brown-clad men standing at the door wanting my signature. I don’t live here, I wanted to tell him, but I gave him it nonetheless. Even the dead have the right to post…
Recipe for Overcoming Your Grief After Your Father Dies
- Preheat the oven if you’d like. Some days the fire will burn hotter than normal, and other days the oven will stay surprisingly cold.
- Take a bottle each of scotch and Drambuie. Mix equal parts over ice to make a batch of Rusty Nails. As you sip them, smell your father’s breath, the honeyed smoke. Hear his voice, a smooth baritone with a hint of country, saying the words Rusty Nail...