Monday, May 26, 2008

"Excuse me," she snapped her fingers at the back of the waiter's head.

He turned around with his face contorted as if he lost a limb, "What can I get you, Miss?"

"When is my dessert coming? I ordered it at the same time as my cappuccino and I want to have them together."

"Right away, my apologies."

"And, Sir? You can take this cappuccino back. I asked for no cinnamon on top. I don't need to be reminded that I'm not in Europe."

A few short minutes later, the waiter returned with a chocolate ganache torte and a cappuccino. The woman had her spoon at the ready, and before the waiter had turned to go take care of the next table, she had submersed it so deeply into the torte that her diamond wedding band was covered in chocolate. The ganache had permeated the cracks between each rock. She noticed this after a few more bites, and without flinching, put the ring between her lips and sucked it clean.

When it looked like there had never been a thing on the plate, the woman wrung her hands furiously. "It's so sticky! Sticky from the ice cream!"

The pitcher of water had been left on the table. She took the napkin off her lap and dipped a corner into it. Then, she rubbed her hands with the napkin as if they were on fire, and finally she settled down to finish her cappuccino.

After all the foam had been drained from the cup, she asked, "That song you played tonight... was that by that Italian composer, Verdi?"

"I don't know." He wasn't in the mood to entertain her. He knew she would only be pretending to understand the greatness of Verdi, if she knew a thing about classical music. She didn't give a damn about listening to it.

"You don't know? How could you not know? You played it for twenty minutes and spent at least a day or two practicing, didn't you?"

"I just don't know." He kept a firm grip on his glass and brought it to his mouth. All he was concerned with now was alleviating the dryness in his throat that was beginning to plague him. "It's getting pretty late, and I'm worn out. I think we should leave."

"If you don't want to spend time with me just say that."

"That's not what I said."

"I see it. You don't have to say anything. You walk around with your 'holier than thou' attitude because you can play a fucking string instrument? There are uneducated six-year-olds in Mongolia who can pluck a string. You want to learn an art? Gratitude. There's your fucking art." She stood up and started walking.

"Wait," he shouted after her, "you didn't pay for anything."

"I've been paying for plenty. You don't have money? How about you take care of it this time?"

"I won't get my paycheck until next week. I can't cover it."

"Say you need me," she smiled at him and he became increasingly anxious. The smells in the restaurant were suffocating and made him think about carcasses left for days in the heat.


"Say you need me, goddammit. You depend on me."

He didn't say a word and decided it would be best to beat her out of the restaurant. She caught up to him in the doorway.

Staring at the floorboards, he told her, "I should have left. I stayed because I thought you needed me. Now I'd rather leave never get a thing from you."

"Try having nothing," she said as she examined her artificial nails. They were long and sharp.

After a moment's pause he asked, "Do you remember the last weekend we spent in Connecticut, when we found the baby duck in front of our door?"

"What the fuck does that have to do with anything?"

"You told me I should run down and put it by the lake. You said that's probably where its family was, and that it just ran away and got lost."

"First I told you not to touch it, but after you picked it up, we didn't really have a choice."

Ignoring her, he continued, "I brought it down to the lake, and when it hopped out of my hands, all it did was quiver and plod around in small circles. I think it was too young to even swim. So, I carried it up to the house and on my way I looked for any signs of nesting, or other birds, anything like that. I didn't see any. I must've looked for more than an hour, just holding this tiny bird. Its webbed feet were scratching my palm until it settled itself and poked its head out. I thought about keeping it and raising it myself, but I knew I'd be crazy to try. When I couldn't think of anything else to do, I brought it down by the lake, where the dirt was richer and there would probably be some bugs for it."

"How very caring of you."

"What I'm trying to say is, I had no clue where ducks nest. I knew nothing about their life-cycles or behavioral patterns. I'm no biologist or veterinarian. I had no idea if this duck had a better shot getting back to its family if it was by the water or up in a fucking tree, but I picked it up anyway and got myself involved. After I left it, the next few weeks all I could do was think about what could have happened to it."

"I hope someone was there to wipe your tears."

"I hope someone is there to wipe yours," he said as he walked silently out the door.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

She wasn't going anywhere. She just told him everything he had done to wrong her and was proud of how directly she spoke. She laid it right out on the table, and immediately afterwards, she knew he had to be contrite. The trouble was he couldn’t say it, and he couldn’t say much else either.

“I mean, you have to understand. I just think your actions are completely incongruous with your words. Don’t you understand why that might be frustrating?”

He nodded and she thought she saw his eyes welling with tears. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old bandana. With his nose scrunched like a marshmallow, he rapidly released three sneezes into his rag and wiped his nose clean. Swallowing hard, he uncrossed his legs and leaned forward in his chair. She faced him bravely and thought she might kiss him. She wasn’t particularly attracted to him then, but she felt that it was sometimes okay to act purely out of habit. People thought they were cute together.

He wasn’t wearing a shirt. He had a few at home, but chose not to concern himself with them. His pants were faded gold and skin-tight down to the middle of his shins, at which point they flared about a foot in every direction and made upside-down blossoms around his flat feet. She didn’t like how he wore so many necklaces— it troubled her. She told him more than once that he was begging to be assaulted, but he would respond every time with, “Me?”

They had seen a lot together. When you spend time with a person, he or she grows on you, even if it’s only familiarity. Their first kiss was an accident. Both of them thought the other one was leaning in for it, and neither one felt any differently about it happening or not happening. A kiss is just four lips instead of two, and his rarely stuck together.

He blinked at her slowly and moved his face so it was only six inches from hers. She thought she might really love him. She thought, “This must be it.”

The sun streamed electric red through thick windows. The day was ending. “What do you want to do?”

He looked around the room, took three yoga breaths, and said he’d like to stay where he was. He removed his boots and folded his hands in his lap. She took this as an indication that she should also stay, though she had no real reason to stay there. She said everything she had come there to say, but she couldn’t help hoping that he would say everything she had come there to hear. The conversation was less than enriching, and her sweater suddenly felt very tight. The smell of dust and rotting wood was making her feel slow. “When are you going to leave?” She spoke like a manager.

“I left someplace already. That’s how I got here.” He spoke without speaking to her, even though there was nobody else in the room. His big eyes kept blinking and watering, and she thought it was because of all the emotion he was bottling up. She knew there was so much depth to him, she had spoken about it many times with her friends— how terrifying his thoughts must be! How unique his ideas were! If only he would include them in conversations.

Her friends listened patiently, and she appreciated them for that, but she didn’t like what they told her. She didn’t like hearing that the object of her effort and repeated tries at affection could be anything but what she imagined he was. And if he wasn’t capable of brilliant thoughts, she didn’t want to know and preferred to think for him silently on her own terms.

“The VCR broke six weeks ago. I can’t show anyone the movies from the week we spent in Maine.” She wanted a response.

“I can try to fix it.”

“It’s just the VCR. You know what? I bet somebody somewhere owes us a favor. That’s how things really get done.”

Several seconds passed, but to her, each one was an era. “We just won’t know enough about each other to have this...” she motioned between the two of them, “…happen.”

“Don’t you want to have sex at night?”


“I do, too. That’s something, isn’t it?” He reached across the table and cupped his hand around hers. She giggled.

Her thoughts kept swirling around an old question that now seemed silly. How could they be strangers? In what ways were their souls not touching?

“You like trivia, right?” He asked and blinked.

“Some of it.”

“Everyone has the same dreams on different days of the week.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

i don't want to study
cause i can't make myself
don't want to study cause
i can't make myself want
to study cause i can't!
can't make myself want
to study cause i can't
make myself i don't want
to study cause i can't make
myself? i don't want to
cause i can't make myself
don't want to study cause
make myself i don't want
to study cause i can't!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Coaches help navigate cancer's scary world
while produce professionals choose a multivitamin.
a few weeks later, his neck and shoulders started throbbing, and he
felt a strange rawness in his throat.
"Yes, you are."
our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud,
I wish only to fight as a soldier of ideas,
those who had were wary of offering their opinions--
"Look out his window," he said, nodding to a mountain view.
It's art. It's as beautiful as it can get:
he even introduced a miniature Atomic Energy Lab
with three very low-level radioactive sources and a real working
Geiger counter,
then he is confronted by a second man, who raises a pneumatic bolt gun
to his forehead and deals a fatal blow.
and that's no different for people who attend church.
sometimes life gets in the way--
when Hollywood needs Western desolation, it comes to Marfa, Texas.

Survivors also may be out of touch with changes in the field,
observation of how power line towers were constructed:
the quickly retitled Erector Sets sold well and were limited
only by a child's imagination as to what could be built.
innovations were replacing the joystick with two white knobs
in the left and right corners of the screen--

Getting it right pretty much takes all day:
the bus was on its regular route, carrying children
from kindergarten through 12th grade.
initial reports said the bus was carrying 40 people,
but it actually carried 28 students and a driver.
others were being treated for back and neck injuries, lacerations,
bumps and bruises--
it was great for boys and girls around the world that Betty James
didn't suffer a midlife crisis,
but the man who saved Christmas wasn't a one-trick pony,
now there's a toy even a real patriot could love.
Rivera felt ,
was never so
isolated from life as
when he was there in Europe.
the Architects, whether they know it
or not, were inspired in that design by
the same feeling which prompted the ancient
people of Yucatan in the building of their temples.