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sparkle + blink 48
© 2014 Quiet Lightning ISBN 978-1-304-73882-0 artwork © Akira Beard akirabeard.com “December 25, 1989” from In the Red, forthcoming from Little, Brown in October 2014 book design by j. brandon loberg set in Absara Promotional rights only. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from individual authors. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or any other means without the permission of the author(s) is illegal. Your support is crucial and appreciated.

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CONTENTS
curated by

Evan Karp & Kelsey Schimmelman
featured artist

Akira Beard

Set 1
ANTHONY JONES Static DAVID KOEHN

1 13 16 24 27 31 34 35 36

A.D. WINANS

Amanda’s Mirror Calls the Overtones Upon Her Latest Departure What Amanda’s Looks Say… The Spycam Captures Amanda Trying On Her Daughter’s Underwear The Invention of Amanda Ghosts from the Past A Li Po Moment What I Saw Sitting Alone

MICHAEL PALMER Early Morning Thoughts

SET 2
MAYA SISNEROS Saudade ELENA SHAPIRO JENNIFER LEWIS KAREN PENLEY

39 43 49 65

December 25, 1989 A Dignified Man i can’t really do this

E T L IG I U Q

HTNING IS SPONSORED

BY

lagunitas.com

QUIET LIGHTNING
A 501(c)3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet Lightning is to foster a community based on literary expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on the first Monday of every month, of which these books (sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts. Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the board of QL is currently: Evan Karp founder + president Chris Cole managing director Josey Lee public relations Meghan Thornton treasurer Kristen Kramer chair S.B. Stokes director of volunteers Sarah Ciston director of books Katie Wheeler-Dubin director of films Kelsey Schimmelman acting secretary Sarah Maria Griffin and Ceri Bevan directors of special operations If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in helping—on any level—please send us a line: ev an @ quiet light ning . org

- SET 1 -

AN

AAANYAJANAA

STATIC
Who’s the author of your electric fantasy? The first time I saw her was in an antiques store in the Ginzu district. I was looking for a television set there. I’d already been to seven or eight stores that night and hadn’t had any luck. That’s the way it is these days though. Televisions are almost impossible to come by. I should know. I have ten of my own and it’s taken me over six years to get them. So I wasn’t really expecting anything when I walked into the antique shop. More than anything, I was just killing time before sake went on sale for half price at the bars downtown. Which is one reason why I was so surprised when I saw her. The other reason was that her face was on a television screen. And as far as I knew there hadn’t been images on televisions for the last fifteen years. There weren’t any signals for TV’s to receive. That’s what I thought at least. But here was this girl on an old model Panasonic. She couldn’t have been older
1

than eighteen. There was an odd green tint to her color and it looked like she might be underwater. I couldn’t tell. Everything around her was a little blurry and I didn’t have my glasses. I squinted at her. For a moment, it seemed like she was looking back at me. How strange, I thought to myself. I heard a bell clink and the owner of the shop came to the counter. He was a small, balding man with black spectacles and a cigarette hanging out the corner of his mouth. He had a steaming bowl of noodles in his hands. Ah, he said. The Panasonic. I looked over at him. It’s a nice set. Are you a collector? I nodded. That one just came over, he said. A man sold it to me. From Thailand. Are there a lot of TV’s in Thailand these days? The old man shrugged.
2

There aren’t a lot of TV’s anywhere. This is the first set I’ve seen in a long time. No one cares about these things. Everyone has the implants. Do you? I said. No, no, he said, laughing to himself. I’m too old for virtual reality. My mind wouldn’t take to it. I looked back at the television. The girl was waving her hand now. I smiled. It seemed like she was inviting me to come join her behind the screen. You’ve got to tell me, I said. How are you getting this image? I thought TV signals didn’t exist anymore. They don’t, the old man said. Then where is this girl coming from? The old man set his bowl of noodles down on the counter, took a drag off his cigarette and looked at me with a raised eyebrow. What girl? he said. Her, I said, gesturing toward the screen. But by the time I turned back around and looked at the Panasonic, she was gone.

ANT H ONY JONE S

3

Have you decided yet? That’s what my ex-wife Judy used to ask me. In the month preceding our divorce it seemed like I had to answer that question every day. She wanted to know constantly if I was going to get the extra training to become a neuro-electrician. And every day I said the same thing. I’m not sure. It only takes a year, Judy used to say. And imagine— after that you’ll be able to customize ocular implants. You’ll be the author of people’s electric fantasies. Right, I would say. Right. But the thought didn’t appeal to me. I liked working on external electronics just fine. Machines made sense. But the idea of going inside someone’s mind and playing with their neurons like copper wires made me uneasy. I didn’t trust electric fantasies either. I didn’t think they were good for the brain. I tried to explain that to my wife a few times but she didn’t want to hear it. You don’t understand, she used to tell me. This is what people want. And Judy was one of those people. She’d been one
4

of the first to get ocular implants. Toward the end of our relationship, she was spending six, seven hours a day in virtual reality. She couldn’t understand why I refused to get the implants when I had the chance. It was a turning point in our marriage. I don’t think that’s the only reason why we got divorced though. I think it was an accumulation of a lot of things. Like all the affairs she was having.

I rode the train back to my apartment in the Shinjuku district with the Panasonic on my lap. I’d decided to skip the sake. I didn’t feel like drinking anymore. I wanted to get home so I could open the television monitor and see what was different about it from the others. I wanted to know where that image of the girl had come from. There weren’t many people on the train. It was late. I looked out the window at the city. Judy was out there somewhere, I knew that. I tried not to think about her but it was hard not to. A kid in a black hooded sweatshirt came walking in from another train car and distracted me from my thoughts. He had a chain wallet and he was wearing headphones. He paused by a guy sitting a few rows ahead of me and looked at him for a moment. The guy’s head was tilted to the side and even though his eyes were open, he didn’t seem to be awake.
ANT H ONY JONE S

5

The kid waved his hand in front of the guy’s face a few times and there was nothing—no response at all. Right, I thought to myself. Electric fantasy. His mind could have been anywhere at that moment. He could have been scuba diving with the President of the United States right then for all I knew. It was always a bad idea to enter virtual reality in a public place. There were plenty of warnings about it, but that didn’t stop people from doing it. Especially the ones who were addicted—which I was assuming this guy was. Most people were, even if they didn’t want to admit it. The kid stole a quick look around the train and then started going through the guy’s pockets. He fished out his wallet and took a set of keys too. I wondered if I should say something and then I thought, forget it. People who were strung out on electric fantasy deserved what they got.

I got back to my apartment a little after two o’clock in the morning. The first thing I did was turn on my television sets in the living room. I liked having them on. There was nothing on the screens of course but I liked the
6

feeling of being surrounded by electricity. I sat down in my recliner, put on my glasses and reached for my screwdriver. My plan was to open up the back panel of the Panasonic and see what was going on in there. Before I could though, I saw something flicker in the corner of my eye. And there she was again. This time she’d flashed on my 15” Toshiba in the corner of the room. I put down the Panasonic and walked toward her. I could see her much clearer now that I had my glasses. She was smiling again and she was very beautiful. Once I got over there though, she disappeared. I looked at the Toshiba and blinked. The screen was blank. And then all of a sudden I saw her on the other side of the living room, in the Mitsubishi I had near the hall. I walked over there too and once I did she jumped to another screen. And then another. Before long she was bouncing all over the room, from TV to TV and she was laughing the entire time. She was playing with me. And I was so caught up in what was happening that I didn’t realize until later—the Mitsubishi was the one TV I hadn’t plugged in.

ANT H ONY JONE S

7

The next day at work all I could do was think about her. Where’d she come from? From ancient TV signals? I didn’t know. It was hard for me to focus. My boss must have gotten sick of seeing me stumble around the office so he sent me to an accounting firm to fix a digital vending machine in their corporate cafeteria. Once I got there it was a pretty typical scene. Most of the employees had their heads tilted to one side and were staring vacantly into space. Occasionally one of them burst into laughter. But other than that everyone was silent and unaware of what was going on around them. It’s like that at a lot of companies these days. Most people skip lunch and use their break to go on electric fantasy instead. I know Judy did. That was probably the ideal time for her to have one of her affairs. Of course, she never saw them as affairs. They happened in virtual reality, she said once I found out. They’re not real. But I disagreed.
8

You made a decision, I told her. You chose the kind of fantasy you wanted to have. That’s real. Anytime you make a decision like that, the consequences are real. We argued about it for hours. And the whole time, Judy just shook her head. You don’t get it, she said over and over. You don’t have the implants. You don’t know what it’s like. You don’t know how wonderful it is. There’s no way you can understand until you go and experience it for yourself.

I didn’t last long at the corporate cafeteria. The sight of all those people in virtual reality made me sick. I left the vending machine broke. I didn’t care what my boss said. I decided to take the rest of the day off and head to the sake bars downtown. It was early but I got good and drunk. I put some blues on the jukebox and then I flagged down the bartender. The sun was starting to set and there was something I wanted to ask him. Hey, I said. Tell me. Do you believe in ghosts? The bartender gave me a funny look. What? he said.

ANT H ONY JONE S

9

Ghosts, I said. Spirits. The supernatural. The bartender poured me another glass of sake and then glanced over at the only other person in the bar—a middle-aged woman clearly on electric fantasy with her head tilted back and her eyes wide open, muttering to herself in bits of French. Well, he said, shaking his head. I guess anything is possible these days.

When I got back to my apartment I had an idea. I stumbled into the living room and started to stack my televisions on top of each other. I was pretty drunk so it took me a long time. Finally I got them the way I wanted. When I was done the stack of TV’s was about a foot taller than me. I stood back and admired my work. I’d put the Panasonic at the very top. After that it only took about an hour for her to show up. And this time it wasn’t just her face, but her entire body spread out across the TV screens. I just stood for a moment and looked at her. She was larger than life. Her clothes were drifting and floating in the space beyond. She smiled and put her hand against one of the screens. I walked close and put my hand against hers from the other side of the monitor. My fingers were tingling. I could feel the electricity between us.
10

With her other hand, she beckoned for me to come join her on the other side. Soon, I told her. Soon.

ANT H ONY JONE S

11

AMAN NES O DA’S MIR T R E V ROR CALLS THE O U

DDV

DDDKDDDD

PON H

ER LATEST DEPARTUR

E

Seventeen years since we last spoke. No way to recognize that voice. She says “It’s Amanda.” Some remote reptile in the brain where a deserted desert cave Supplies the amber oil of words with an image of her kneeling on a mattress Afloat in the middle of her apartment, gaping picture windows lit too brightly In the background. I am connected to the phone across a thin wire. She wants to Facetime. There are stories about her trip to Persia, Nepal. A black pick-up truck t-boned her Nissan. In New Orleans she and her partner Made a living in “Live” shows on Bourbon. Her house on the hill is in the shadow Of her departed father. She married A UFC fighter. Divorced. Wrote a book. She is planning a trip to the moon. She holds her phone up to a standing mirror.
13

She is long and thin and the phone Is her face. The carpet of her mother’s stand-up looks like dirt, dusty with static As subtext for the fleur-de-lys, treble, of the overstuffed ottoman. Off to her left, stairs Hidden from view by the white, jail bars of the balustrade. Outside, sirens, more sirens A third set of sirens: I hear them come, go, come, go, come and go. I imagine a cop Behind the wheel, he leans into a right turn onto James street, probably a high School friend, the chassis of the car lurching left, right, and as it ascends, up, down With the weakness of its shock absorbers and the power of its engine over the uneven Streets. For a moment, she looks panic stricken, as if someone unexpected Has walked into the room. Her twin sister passes through the frame without looking At the mirror, asks her, “Why are you naked?” The screen door opens to the front porch And the hinges announce to the mid-day drizzle the intensity of my attention to the shiver Of her voice in my ear, the vibration in the cord to my phone, the shaking of my hand, The mirror’s quivering reflection, a room pulsing with panic and family, and the sway
14

Of the chassis of the earth beneath my feet that feels not unlike the spinning of the earth If I knew I could feel the spinning of the earth, spinning, unspinning, that moment As almost-children when our best friend drove us to New Jersey in his VW Bus. We recalled the operation; the carnival summer of tilt-a-whirl, of star flyer, of love’s UFO.

DaVI d KOE H N

15

WHAT AMANDA’S LOOKS SAY…
“Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.”
charles dickens

“She was not one for emptying her face of expression.”
― j.d. salinger, franny and zooey

1 Shutup. Oh my god. You have to be kidding me. Well that was my self-deprecating humor meant to point out your artificial paradigm intending to box me into a deterministic response to your otherwise completely ambiguous mis-judgement. That’s right. “I wanna rock and roll all night...” Yeah, right. Huh? The roll of my eyes is not really rolling my eyes in the conventional sense of rolling one’s eyes to show
16

exasperation or contempt but rather a roll of my eyes meant to communicate a combination of exhaustion, drunkenness on pleasure, and complete connectedness. Asshole. That was the artist’s attempt to create the illusion of space created by perspective. Help yourself. Help me, I am feeling lost, disconnected. I know dependency is a sign of weakness. But I need to know you love me, that in the heat of this, that behind the wheel of the Partridge bus is a driver who cares. Your idea of normal and my idea of normal are clearly not the same. Much gratitude for this gesture. I know you think this means I will now have sex with you but you are sadly mistaken. Much gratitude for this gesture. I know you think this means I will now have sex with you but you are sadly mistaken. I was going to have sex with you anyways. Folding, folding, folding, folding, folding.
DaVI d KOE H N

17

Oh really? While the death of your mother is tragic, and we owe to our own mother country the great masters of the monstrous, Hieronymous Bosch and others, who opened the floodgates of creative fantasy, you need to get your ass in here and eat dinner with your family. What will my sister say today? If you only knew what my sister said to me today! Your daughter wants Justin Bieber tickets, and I want to go too, this is the higamous, hogamous of adult childhood, deal with it. Your son discovered his asshole today. The pictures in this book you have given your son show imaginative activity unleashed in a form I am unfamiliar with, a sort of Indomalaysian phantasmagoria of pullulating vegetation and of fear-haunted, stifling tropical nights—just not appropriate for a three year old. You did what? You smell like rotting oranges. Don’t worry, you will have sex with me tonight, but,
18

I’m telling you, that picture is stupid, Pilate’s servant, holding the water pitcher is hovering in space with nowhere to stand, plus Pilate’s hands will never be washed clean, like yours. You look like hell. I was reading Janus by Koestler and in the Chapter, Physics and Metaphysics considering Jung’s essay “Synchronicity: an Acausal Connecting Principle” I stumbled across a quote you’d previously highlighted: “...the seemingly accidental meeting of two unrelated causal chains in a coincidental event which appears both highly improbable and highly significant...” and it occurred to me you should really consult with a therapist. Back away from the sink. Why haven’t you taken down the Christmas lights? When you say that, you better mean it.

2. These are your instructions: ____________. Good morning, the coffee is made, and I remember today is the day your mother died and perhaps more than anyone else, I know what that really means to you.
DaVI d KOE H N

19

I understand, like no one else understands, that you come from no place and belong to no one and, that every room you walk into, you know no one and no one knows you and that you are the empty space they fill with that person who has not been here before who is not one of them. And I know you love this about yourself because otherwise this would be tragic but I also know this is only true because you know I know how I mean to you how you mean to me mean to me. C’mon. Look, a piece of the moon. Good morning, the coffee is made, thank you. I remember. Yesterday we were walking Columbus past City Lights and we walked over a sewer cap, “Neenah Foundry, Neenah, Wisconsin” and I know we have done the same in every city you’ve been in and I know how you like to tell the story about no matter where you go, all you have to do is look into the sewer to know where you came from. Keep it to yourself. We are out of milk. I am immersed. There is no need for me to look at you
20

because, I know this about you, when I pick up our son I feel, without looking, your eyes on me. We are out of squeaking floors and horse flies buzzing against windowpanes. We are out of clothes rusting, coughing, land lines, ramen, doors that won’t lock, lack of plumbing, roadlessness, distance. We are out of here. This is boring. This is embarrassing. Give yourself an ice cream shop haircut soaked in gold. Give yourself time to play the dinosaur restaurant train yard dropped in the belly of the guitar next to the monstrous T.V. You there? I am pulling the corner of the right side of my mouth towards my ear and raising my eyebrow to indicate a mildly comic panic and I expect you to do the same to indicate you understand what I am saying. We are not done.
DaVI d KOE H N

21

We are expanding our understanding into new territory. We peel grapes together. Morning breath, stanky, stanky morning breath. I said, “Yes, I will get my passport taken care of...” but now that I have said this you know this means “No, I won’t.” He holds the violin under his chin without using his hands. I know you see me standing here, stop rolling your dirty socks together. This red sock? You’re not hanging that in this room. I’ll let you go. I’ve missed you. In front of the mirror. I am sleeping. I am dreaming. It is a good dream. The light was on. Wasps!
22

Yellow jackets! Dragonflies! Fireflies! Swallows! Wild Turkeys! Racoons! The door was wide open. I remember the story you told me about the time you were rubbing, rubbing, your mother’s feet. Rubbing and rubbing them telling her it was going to be okay. She’d had a seizure because of the progression of the triple negative lymphomatic breast cancer to her brain. She’d fallen into a coma. You’d rushed from your father’s house where you and he had been watching the Green Bay Packers. You said she rose up out of the coma like a bobber popping to the surface of a pond. A wobble and waver. Her first words? “Did the Packers win?” We are out of blue eggs. Like Scott said, break their hearts.

DaVI d KOE H N

23

THE SPYCAM CAPTURES AMANDA TRYING ON HER DAUGHTER’S UNDERWEAR
On Twitter her friends champion Turkey. A snapshot of a uniformed Man in his Stormtrooper gear showering a girl in a cotton sun dress With tear gas. You are not free in our own home. You are not safe In our own home. The cam installed to capture the sitter’s misdeeds With wards or with the master of the house has captured you. You do Not see us seeing you pull the yellow pair with pink polka dots From the laundry basket measure them against your still, You think, girlish figure. We watch you hold them up to the light. We don’t care what you are thinking. We don’t care that your grandmother
24

Died today 17 years ago. We don’t care about the tattered baseball Jersey stuffed in a shoebox with a love letter from your college Sweetheart, now dead, packed into the corner of your closet. One day the box will burn in a fire. We don’t care about how you long for a time when You did not realize your sister’s child will never graduate high school Because of what happened. We don’t care about your swimming dream Where hundreds of seals chase you off the beach and into open ocean Where, among the waves that disguise and reveal the horizon, you Find yourself exhausted, arms too heavy to continue, and you float On your back, open to the fear that below you is a savage emptiness So vast, so voracious, the sky above your small self pulls away In fear of being devoured. The dream never ends and starts again When you fall asleep each night aware no amount of
DaVI d KOE H N

25

psychoanalysis Can salve the pain of what you’ve always known, that sanctity’s bond Denies you the right to cosmic awareness, and that cosmic consciousness May just be m00p. There is no higher self observing other selves. There is just us, we’ve hacked you, and it is we, not God, watching.

26

THE INVENTION OF AMANDA
In the 1953 film version of Ugetsu Monogatari the potter turns a profit On his pottery during war, though warned that profits during chaos do not last. Raiders raid, women wail, hay hastens, war warthogs, dreamers dream, Houses house, sweat sweats, executioners execute, fish fish. Poetry Is an adjective. The moral of the film, and the film is ultimately a morality Tale, reminds the viewer that love of is no fun. Money, poetry, war, peace. The lies told, mostly to ourselves, to maintain our characters require a deathstar. Every belief, a deathstar to someone or something or to some other idea. “Success always come with a price in suffering” says Tobei’s wife just After she reveals her success in bedding a new man every night.

DaVI d KOE H N

27

The first time Amanda visited, she rendered an entire songbook Of omens forecasting predictions re-telling truths undressed as dreams. She burned the pages and with ashes fed the glowing phytoplankton Of the bay with her hands. The fishiness of the stars nibbled her fingertips Until the banyan tree let down, all at once, an array of connections To metaphor, as the banyan of etymology unearths not “tree” but “merchant” And finds the seed of seed a quality of fig: arm after arm like a polygamous Kraken wedding and re-wedding the song of departed, burned notes With a transect of detritus mathematically deranged behind the bay Across the floor. She exhumed the clarity a firm handshake hides, She killed off the fear left from the darkness beneath the bed. Onan Knew she would take with her all that she gave and more But also knew she would return in the many forms
28

required of her. She knew The problem with Stein was that she was not Celine, insert something smart You can ask me to explain to you later. She foresaw, how a failed poem thinks To algorithm a poem: prostitute nature, prostitute childhood memory, Assert a connection in the form of pathetic fallacy, add a quick but elliptical Insight into the relationship between the two. Flute, tattoo, sock, grave.

DaVI d KOE H N

29

AAAAA

AANANA

G H O STS F

ROM THE PAST

I drove the freeway to Tucson 1960’s Hippie Era pulled over twice by the police long hair and California license plates got me two citation warnings spent three days with an ex-lover who lived with a professor who taught a course in astrology at the University of Arizona who the first day of my visit felt the back of my head and asked me if anyone had ever told me I had the same head shape as RFK who I later met in Washington, DC two years before his murder three days in redneck country was like a year drinking at Western bars with cowboys who eyed me like I was an Indian escaped from the reservation
31

unsure why I had come here nothing beautiful nothing natural except for the stunning evening sunset back home my friends drunk in bars on Grant Avenue shooting pool at Gino and Carlo’s Bar eating grub at Sam Woo’s where the waiter Edsel Ford insulted the customers as the dumb-waiter elevator brings up food no other Chinese restaurant can match a poet friend calls me says Ginsberg has flown back from India to become the resident Guru of the Haight Ashbury while I rack up another warning ticket cowboy drunks give new definition to the word redneck no room for compassion here no room for poets words like a campfire with no match to light them die in the desert heat I pull up roots drive north the death mask sunset rides a passing cloud

32

I stop in the desert pop open a bottle of water have a one way conversation with a cactus plant wonder what my shrink would think the beauty of solitude I could have a million conversations in a single morning dialogue I return home keep a notebook by my bed write down my dreams but when I wake in the morning someone else’s handwriting is on the pages No one will identify the blood between the lines see the ghosts walk the halls restless souls from my past like a starving wolf in the dead of winter looking to fill his hunger on wild game or words that cling to flesh like scraps of exotic food

A .D. WI NaNS

33

A LI PO MOMENT
wasted days wasted nights memories fall from memory bank like rose petals at the Hall of Flowers a small child cries near the wishing well an old man fidgets on park bench I sit watch a sea of humanity pass like an armada of ghost ships their sails flap in the wind a Li Po moment of salutation

34

EARLY

MMM

MMMMMMMMMM

M O R N IN G T H O U G H T

R

S

Between light and shadow I pass. Between sound and silence I pass. My dreams are clear, the people In them speak to me clearly, and they and what they said are forgotten immediately upon waking.

35

WHAT I SAW SITTING ALONE
At Peet’s coffee shop Night replaces day. She gazes out the window At the cars and people moving Into and out of The faint reflection of herself.

36

- SET 2 -

MMM

MMMMMMMRM

M

SAUDADE
Things I will not do: I will not seek answers in another human being. Will not read the print of his skin like scripture will not excavate the depths of his ribcage and be dismayed when I emerge with nothing to hold, save for stones finely polished stones for unbuilt edifices or ruins. The hands of men and women are not ropes with which to hoist my weight no matter how profane. I’m crawling far from everything I know: the tangled heart of the pampas grass the sound of dogs, crying in their sleep and choking on the distance of the moon. I am crawling palm and knee from you. I am done waiting. You’re nowhere to be found, lured by open sea.
39

You follow a trail inscribed in papyrus, palms, and the hearts of men and you found nothing sacred in me. And these arms, which have only known the gaping holes of distance crave a god more beautiful than longing. Since you I have learnt my size. No longer hide inside men like their shadows or their ribs. I break and am broken with hands made of flesh and bones meant to hold. The impulse remains, to follow your laughter and the glint of your smile like a golden spool that would lead me from myself. But oh. Now is not the time to sit, legs dangling from deck, listening intently to the moan of ships in the horizon. The albatross sets sail in a moment’s time. A lost boy stares at God’s thumbnail and considers the taste of my name like a foreign word
40

before swallowing it whole. Here, traversing the notches of the city’s spine I write the word saudade on the shore and feed it to the sea. I am not a woman who will wait at port.

MaYa SI SNE ROS

41

EEE

EEEEEEEEEE

D E C E M B E R 25, 19 8 9
The televised grain of the image is faded into the yellow range. Everyone’s skin is rendered in a raw orange. This is the revolution. This is the trial. Stern men in military uniforms sit at tables in a barren room in a schoolhouse. Their mouths are set into hard, narrow lines. It must be the camera that fails to capture the glee in their eyes—the promise of blood. But then again the camera glances over a man in a suit fussily looking at his fingernails, as if he is, after all, indifferent to the promise of blood. The dictator and his wife sit to be judged in their own little corner, behind an institutional table from which a teacher not long ago asked the children to recite multiplication tables, pledge allegiance to the Party. Today the glorious leader and his consort have the dim hollow faces of doomed animals. Like horses with broken legs, to be shot. The prosecutors say: destruction of state buildings, undermining the economy. They say: crimes against the people, genocide. Did you hear the charges? Have you understood? I do not answer, I will only answer questions before the Grand National Assembly. I do not
43

recognize this court. The charges are incorrect, and I will not answer a single question here. This is how the Ceausescus try to hang onto the shreds of their authority. It must be cold in the room. They keep their coats on. The dictator’s hat rests on the table near his wife’s purse. He chops at the air with his hand when he tries to make a point. I repeat: I am the President of Romania and the Commander in Chief of the Romanian Army. I am the president of the people. I will not speak with you provocateurs any more, and I will not speak with the organizers of the putsch and with the mercenaries. I have nothing to do with them. Please, make a note: Ceausescu does not recognize the new legal structures of power of the country. He still considers himself to be the country’s President and the Commander in Chief of the Army. Why did you ruin the country? Why did you export everything? Why did you starve the people? I will not answer this question. It is a lie that I made the people starve. A lie, a lie in my face. He looks at the prosecutor. The prosecutor is not deterred. The prosecutor says, we have seen your villa on television, the golden plates from which you ate, the foodstuffs that you had imported, the luxurious celebrations.
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It takes the time to smoke a cigarette for the Ceausescus to be condemned to the firing squad. The defense objects that this must be legal, this must be justifiable later. The prosecutor points out that they have ten days to appeal, then in the same breath says that the sentence is to be carried out immediately. What? The camera is increasingly unsteady; the man holding it shakes from terror and excitement. The prosecutor points out, I have been one of those who, as a lawyer, would have liked to oppose the death sentence because it is inhuman. But today we are not talking about humans. When it is time to bind the hands of the condemned, the dictator’s wife screams and curses. Her voice overwhelms the tumult of lower male voices, making the soundband on the footage crackle. The mouth of a gun is pressed against her arm—they are pushed away, we see them crowded out the door by soldiers’ backs. They are not blindfolded. Suddenly the yellows switch to grays; everyone is outside on the concrete. There is smoke, it’s difficult to see. Another hiccup in the film and there is the dictator’s blurry wife collapsed on the ground, a dark rivulet of blood issued from her head. The dictator fallen on his knees in a dusty heap; his body is turned over to show his face, to show the nation that yes, it is
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really him. Yes, he is dead. Sallow and bloated already. The soldiers cover the bodies with blankets the same olive green as their overcoats. Then blackness. But, unlike the footage, the story will not shortchange you. You can see what the camera did not show, if you like. The story will tell you. You can make the image explode back into being, clean and crisp in the white winter light, without the fuzzy texture and off-colors of something filmed: The dictator and his wife clip clop down the staircase, out into the courtyard through the double doors. The wife argues with the guards all the way to the wall, saying this is wrong, you wayward soldiers will be punished. The men with guns are already there waiting for them, their eager weapons raised. This is when the Ceausescus know they will die. Now. Not at some time in the future. One of the soldiers sees the knowledge pass over the dictator’s face before he starts to cry. The soldier will never forget that look, that moment, the tears of the condemned. The dictator starts to sing—what? The Internationale, of course. Nobody gives the soldiers the order to fire but they do anyway. They fire and fire and fire again, walking backwards to avoid the ricochet, while the cameraman runs in, frantically fumbling a battery change.

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No! he shouts. But the bullets are already spent, the bodies already toppled. The wife does not die easily. She is racked by spasms, the back of her skull blown away. The only order given to the impatient execution squad is the order to stop. For a while they will mill around awkwardly, not looking into each other’s eyes but not wanting to leave the place either. Their hands still thrumming with the metal click of the trigger, so sweet after such a long wait in the cold. For years afterwards the soldiers will meet up for drinks. The soldier who has seen the look pass over the dictator’s face will say: I had never even killed a chicken before. Eventually the soldiers will stop meeting up because they will always wind up talking about the same thing. The wife was felled mid-sentence. The dictator did not make it to the fourth verse, the verse about reason thundering in its crater, about the eruption of the end of the past, about wiping the slate clean. In the pallid slanting rays of a cold Christmas Day.

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JJJ

JJFJJJJJJJJ

A D I G N IFI E D M A N
In jail I worked as a server in the officers’ kitchen. It wasn’t too different from waiting tables at The Blue Goose where I had met Maria a year before. Not too different except for after my shift when I had to remove my clothes and press my hands up against the cinderblock wall to show the guard the soles of my feet, then bend over and touch my toes so he could examine my ass, and finally face forward to lift my balls. I had one week left of my 90-day sentence in the county jail for my second DWI when Maria told me about my stepfather’s cancer. We spoke on black phones, separated by a glass wall. I wore a red jumpsuit and Maria a brightly patterned sundress. “I don’t get it,” I said. “The doctors just told him he was in remission.” “We all thought that it was a routine procedure but when they opened him up, it was everywhere. They give him six weeks. I feel so bad for your mom. First your dad, now George.” She sat up straight and placed her fist by her face like a tiny boxer. “But she’s being very brave.”
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The guard was eavesdropping. I stared at him until he looked away. “Is anyone bothering you?” Maria asked and I wondered if I looked like something had happened, or if I looked like the same clean-cut guy at The Blue Goose. I wondered why 19-year-old Maria was there at all. That week, I had received a note in my cell. It read: “I’m interested in you. And I think you are interested in me. If you are, put a note in the Biography Magazine with Mel Gibson on the cover.” I stayed clear of the library, but when the guard put me back in my cell, he said, “You better watch your back, Pretty Boy.” “No,” I replied. “I’ll be home in less than a week.” “Time’s up.” One of the guards walked over. “I love you,” she said. I put my hand on the glass. “Jonathan,” George murmured, waking me out of a daze. “I’m in the kitchen,” I yelled. I placed the television tray in front of his chair with his oatmeal, knowing he would only eat a spoonful or two. “Just how you like it, warm with cold bananas.”

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“Thank you.” He coughed and spat red mucus into a silver bucket. As if lying down equaled death, George dwelt in the La-Z-Boy chair next to the hospital bed in our living room. The Dallas sun forced its way through half-open shutters, and George asked if I could do something about the light. I walked over and made sure that each wooden panel slanted in the same direction, making the three windows perfectly symmetrical. Then I sat down in my wooden chair. George kept looking at me, or looking beyond me, so I asked, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” We had bought a portable toilet. I would roll it into the living room and lift George from one chair to the other. But he just shook his head. The colon cancer had taken all the color out of his face. His skin had a grayish tone and it flaked at the touch. Around two o’clock he said, “I’m sorry that I ruined your birthday.” “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s not like I have any friends to celebrate with.” I shifted my gaze and suddenly Zack and I were in our old apartment. He kept running his fingers through his hair and punching his fist into his thigh. He couldn’t believe he had lost the rent envelope. I helped him search every room. We lifted the mattress and ripped the cushions off the couch. I still remember my fake disappointment when all I found was potato chips, dust bunnies and a penny. The entire time the envelope pressed against my hip. Now why would a
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person do something like that? Spent it all on booze. I shook my head and looked straight into George’s cloudy eyes and said, “There’s no place I’d rather be.” The sincerity in my voice startled me. Since I had been taking care of George, I had started daydreaming about going to nursing school, working in a hospital, being in dark blue scrubs surrounded by a sea of salmon colored scrubs. They would call me in for the most physically demanding and disturbing cleanups because nothing bothered me. I knew the truth. The body could be barbaric and undignified with its uncontrolled fluids and odors, but I could see past it. I could separate the failing body from the man. I still looked at George as the guy who had worked for the same company since he was eighteen. They didn’t make guys like him anymore. Taking care of George made me feel good about myself. I wished there was another name for a male nurse, something more masculine. The garage door squealed open and George muttered, “You need to put some oil on that.” “Yes, sir.” I said, as my mom walked in with a bag full of groceries. “There’s more in the trunk.” She shot me a smile, lines shaped like wings curled around the corners of her eyes, and I couldn’t help thinking that they looked good on her.
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“I’ll get up.” I stood from my chair. “I know you will,” she smiled. My mother had adopted a southern accent after living in Texas for twenty years. “You warm enough, George?” she asked. “It’s freezing in here. Jon, will you turn the AC down? And bring in the cake. It’s in the front seat.” “Yes, Ma’am,” I replied as I closed the door behind me. Except for the cake, my 30th birthday passed like every other night, with George in a half-sleep and my mom, Maria and I smoking cigarettes on the back porch. We reclined on white lawn chairs overlooking the pool and talked about the unruly grass that spring brought too quickly. The 80-degree heat melted the cake and caused sweat to run down the backs of my legs. Maria’s chest and collarbones glistened. “I’ll tackle the lawn on Sunday,” I promised, squinting my eyes at the acre of grass. “You looked just like your Dad when you said that.” My mom cackled and sipped her iced Chardonnay. “He was handsome, just like you.” “Stop, Mom.” I grabbed my pack of Camels and lit a cigarette. I flashed her a tight-lipped smile, then passed her the pack. She took her time striking the match and then,
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as if a light bulb went off, she said to Maria, “You know I started smoking because I would have to go to Jon’s dad’s teaching events. I didn’t know a soul. They were all educated and well off. I had never gone to college so I kept to myself. One evening, one of the parents offered me a cigarette, and I smoked my brains out. It gave me something to do.” My mom took a drag and flicked the ash on the ground. “His father remembered everyone’s name. I couldn’t remember those people if I met them ten times. He was always a little better than me.” “Now that’s not true,” I interjected. “Well, your grandmother thought so!” “Well, to hell with her,” I smiled. “That’s right,” my mom said, hitting her hand on her thigh. “We did all right without her, didn’t we?” Her dark eyes held mine and all I could think about was how much I had disappointed her. All the nights when I was too drunk and inconsiderate to call. All the mornings I had found her sitting on the couch next to a mound of cigarettes in a crystal ashtray. And despite it all, we were still okay. Maria stared at the pool and listened to the crickets. I rested my hand on her thigh, “And she did go back to school,” I said to Maria. “When I went to UT, she got
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her A.A. at the community college. I would call home and all my friends would be here studying with her.” “I remember you telling me that,” Maria said sweetly. “Jon always had a good group of friends.” A smile split Elaine’s face, and the wings appeared. Instead of taking the compliment, shame caused my eyes to blink and I looked at the unlit pool. “Happy birthday, Son.” She handed me a red box with a gift card from J.Crew and the movie theater. After my first stint in rehab and jail, no one trusted me with money. I stood up and gave her a kiss goodnight. Maria thanked her for dinner and the two of us went back to my childhood bedroom. Maria sat on my bed painting her nails while I drank whiskey from a silver flask that Charla gave me before a college formal. I started thinking about her as Maria said, “I like staying at your house ‘cause it’s quiet.” Charla’s long hair used to tickle my shoulders while she was on top of me. What I would have done for that girl? Anything. Anything except for the one thing she had asked. “Someone’s always screaming at my place,” Maria continued, and I shook my head, showing that I was listening, but I was outside Charla’s window standing in the damp grass.

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“Go away,” she hissed. “You can’t be doing this.” “It’s the only way I can help you. ” “Can I at least have a hug goodbye?” I began whimpering. “What good will it do? I’m not going through this again. Now get out of here before I call the cops.” “What about all your stuff at my house? At least let me bring it over.” “It’s yours,” she said, shutting the window. “My mom’s always screaming at my brother. My Dad at my mom. My mom at her aunt. You know, the one who lives in the laundry room with her baby, Angelica?” I nodded blankly. I didn’t remember the aunt, but I did remember the baby. Long eyelashes and pierced ears. Truthfully, I hadn’t spent too much time at Maria’s because it felt overcrowded, a television was always blaring, and I didn’t understand a word of Spanish. She kept talking, so I sipped the flask and looked around my room. A fraternity paddle leaned against
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a bookshelf. On my dresser was a picture of my Dad with his arm around me at age four. Signed baseballs were scattered around like Easter eggs. CDs and movies took up most of one wall, alphabetized and dust-free, each DVD a half-inch into the bookcase. A framed caricature of me drawn by Zach, who was now an artist in L.A. A wave of pride and jealously washed through me. I had planned to go out there with him, but could not leave the state due to my first probation. Now it was too late to do something like that. Too old to start from scratch. Everyone else around me had been learning things, saving money, getting experience and moving out of Dallas. “I know this was a hard birthday for you,” Maria said, blowing on her fingernails. I took a pull before I spoke. “For the longest time, I thought I would never be older than him. That something bad would happen to me. Now that I am, it feels worse. Like I’m no longer praying to my dad, just some guy my age who probably knew less than I do now.” My eyes landed on the ball that Sparkly Lyle signed. It was the last Rangers’ game my dad had taken me to. We had seats right over the dugout and we used to wait for the players before and after the game. I wondered, as I often did, how different my life would’ve been had my father not gotten behind the wheel but what’s the point? I took one last sip,
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closed my eyes on all the could-have-beens and buried myself in the covers. The whiskey made my body feel warm. I started drifting off to sleep; then Maria climbed on top of me, pulling me back to consciousness. “Morning, George,” I said, grabbing the bucket of red mucus. “Morning, Jon.” He looked alert. “You remembered,” I smiled. “Your parents are driving in from Ohio today.” “Sure did,” he said. “My Ma will tell me that I need to shave.” “Well, Sir. A shave it is.” George put his arm around my neck and I carried him into the bathroom like a child. I placed him on the toilet and spread shaving cream on his face. Then he said, “I can take it from here.” I put my hands on his hollow back and helped him up. It had been about a month since he had seen himself. Each week he had lost a significant amount of weight and his 135-pound frame no longer matched the person he knew. When he saw his sunken face and concave chest, he started to cry. I stood behind him, feeling his ribs shake in my hands. Out of respect, I looked down at the yellow shag rug that hugged the toilet.
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My arms held him as he shaved an unrecognizable face. His parents arrived an hour later. Betty and Bill Parker had driven an RV from Ohio to Texas. When I opened the door they were holding hands. They wore matching clothes: khaki pants with denim shirts. Betty needed a minute before she could walk in. She pressed her palms on her head to fix her windblown hair. Bill shook my hand and then extended his arm out to his wife and led her across the threshold. “He has lost a lot of weight,” I said, trying to prepare them for the unfathomable sight of their son. They linked their arms together and walked slowly down the hallway. I could imagine them on their wedding day. Being small people, George’s height must have surprised them. Now with his question mark spine and collapsing bones, he was their size. Betty and Bill’s arms stayed linked as they huddled around their son. Watching them embrace, I had this notion that love between parent and child transcended the body and was contained somewhere in a timeless vacuum. I started to feel things. I felt the love that my father had for me. Or was it the love I had for him? It was so powerful that I wanted it to go away. I needed a drink, and it was hours before my mom and George would be asleep and I could have one. “Jonathan,” George called. “Come on out here and sit with us.”
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I sat down and looked at black-and-white photos and listened to them talk about George as a child. I learned that he loved to ride his bike around town, was never late for his paper route, and he called his mother—every Sunday—without ever missing a week. Hearing about George made me smile. They really had something, the three of them. I found myself questioning if George and I had missed an opportunity. Maybe I could have loved him and still been loyal to my Dad? But, as always, I realized things too late. When I walked Bill and Betty out the door, she hugged me tightly and said, “Make good choices, you hear.” “I will take care of him,” I replied. The sincerity returned. That evening, I downed George’s bottle of codeine. He had moved onto morphine, so I felt all right about swiping it. When Maria came over and climbed into bed with me, I hallucinated she was Charla. I held onto Charla-Maria like a life preserver. My forehead nestled in the space between her shoulder blades. I imagined her long auburn hair. Maria must have felt my intensity because she started wiggling around. I must have said Charla’s name because before I knew it, we were fighting and Maria was lying beside me crying. I put my arm around her, unable to open my eyes. Bright colors danced behind my lids: fuchsia, turquoise and lime.

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In my body, everything was so simple and clear. My body was smiling. Maria, so young and lovely, can’t you see that I am poison? My skin sang this to her and she must have heard it because she stopped crying. As I melted into sleep, I felt Maria being pulled away by some forceful current while I stayed like a weed in an acre of grass. In the morning, I squirted liquid morphine into George’s mouth with a syringe. Then I put on rubber gloves to spread a morphine gel on his arms and legs. He could no longer swallow pills. All this was supposed to make him less sick, but it didn’t. He still hacked up blood and winced with pain. It was a Sunday and the rain knocked hard against the picture windows. “Will you look at that?” My mom opened the shutters. “A double rainbow. My word, I have never seen such a thing. Jon, get George!” I carried George over to the hospital bed by the window. “Well, I never,” he said. The storm divided the sky in two: powder blue and black. On the light patch, two prisms arched parallel with each other while the black sparked with lightning and stirred with thunder. We all watched the weather show until the rainbows dissolved into sunlight. When I tried to move George back into his
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La-Z-Boy, he held out his hand and said, “I think I’m gonna stay here.” I lifted his legs and helped him roll onto his back. That night, my mom had to work and I knew Maria wasn’t coming over anytime soon, so I pulled the La-Z-Boy over and camped out. George’s head was raised on two pillows, his eyes were closed, and his breath was shallow. Knowing the end was near, I allowed myself to have a little more to drink than usual and I heard myself slur. “George, you’re a good man.” His eyes remained closed, but I believe he heard me. “You’re like a monument. You came in and gave us consistency. I appreciate that. There were times when I feared you. But it wasn’t like the fear I had when it was just my mom and me. It was respect. You took us in and taught me manners.” I snuck a sip and then I stopped myself. I was getting all choked up and I could feel a tremble in the back of my legs and a twitch in my right eye. “You never know who will take care of you,” he replied. Then his body heaved and I handed him the bucket. I passed out in the La-Z-Boy chair. The pain in my
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head trumped the stiffness in my back and neck from sleeping upright. I opened my eyes and noticed the sun from the shutters sprayed directly on George’s face. His eyes were closed, but his flesh had collapsed like the outside of a rotting pumpkin. His head was thrown back and his lower jaw dropped. His mouth was wide open. I walked over and cupped one hand under his chin and the other on his forehead and I closed his mouth. Seeing George empty like that scared me, it made me think that we just go dark. I wondered: what is it all for? I pulled the sheet over his head and angled the shutters so the perfect amount of light shined on his body. The pattern looked like piano keys. I sat until the rays of light moved from his body onto my face.

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KKK

KKKKKKKKK

I C A N ’T R

EALLY DO THIS
1. Tum

i cant believe how fat my stomach is. everyday, i walk and i grab a hunk of my stomach with my hands and flip it, to see how fat it is that day, if it’s a one hand flip, i’m not that fat, but if it’s two hand, i know i’m fatter. amuwau. jes mpt rea;;u ,u teacjer. jes kist a giu o lmpw/...oh whoops, i typed it from the wrong position on the keyboard. maybe i can have a slice of dried mango. there’s something comforting though about pulling your pants over your belly like you’re tucking yourself in for a nap. i got two mango slices. one to get me through this writing, and one afterwards for when i reward myself for writing and just generally, for living. when i sit, hunched like this, with my belly around me, with me around my belly, it’s like i’m a chair. well, a bean bag. that also is comforting cause it’s like i’m one two. like one two. like up and across. when i go to sleep, it’s so cozy, my stomach spreading out next to me, all soft on the down comforter. it’s like i ate and made a friend. my tummy. my tum. i’ll call it Tum. It’s like we’re on a boat together, me and Tum, sailing into sleep.

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2. party i dont know how to talk at a party. some people have figured it out. they have little looks that make their words more better. like bemused. they are always bemused, being amused at what they say. i’m more the clutchy kind. like i clutch at my smile. i clutch at my words. i clutch at their words. if really, i was the way i felt, i’d just be staggering around and clutching at my throat. and then, spasmodically, i’d be stretching out my hand and saying pretty. like to the girl in the spangle black dress. 3. my face my face has a bad look on it. it’s natural look is bad. like kind of slack. like i’m the girl that will have jowls, jowly jowls from looking bad all my life. serves her right, they’ll whisper. she was bad. not a happy girl. oh yeah, you can tell from her jowls, they’ll say. click click. click click. that is the sound their mouth makes. whenever i’m alert, i have to remember to change the look on my face, to look perky and up, it requires the pulling up of the temple muscles, which means i almost get a headache.

4. edie sedgewick all i really want to do is look cool. like i’d like to look like sienna miller when she played edie sedgewick in factory girl or my friend namita when she was
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younger and had this long sort of bridget bardot hair and cateye eyeliner and big lashes. or like olivia bee she is young and young and cool and takes these pictures of beautiful teens wearing cool clothes, but they are sloppy, like they are lying kind of messed up on the bed. or kissing with their hair all mushed, being all lazy cause they did their job. they Look Good and are Cool and that’s all they have to do. they can sip cokes and let their faces just relax all the time. like angels. like dirty beautiful angels. 5. it goes really fast you know when there’s the thing you want to do and then the thing you think you should? it goes really fast, one on top of the other, like a hand slapping over a hand that is dealing out cards. 6. you could i’m going to pretend that i look really beautiful like those teenage girls in olivia bee’s blog and that i can just lie here in the bed and i am so beautiful that that’s all i have to do. like my face is smooth and young and Pretty and that the warm feeling of happiness inside me is exactly how pretty i look. like it’s all done. everything’s done and i don’t have to do anything anymore. like if someone tiptoed in my room, they would gasp and then serenity would move into them, just from looking at me. when i do that, i sink down down into my bed where the lilacs and
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chocolate cakes are. i think i am a musician. i think i am a TV star. and my feet are open like squawking birds. it’s like i mm part of one of those chocolate layer cakes like on the baker’s soliloquy blog, like i’m right in the middle of the cake, like i am the cake. or the cream filled puffs with rose petals. or a salted caramel pecan macaroon. i am a confection. i am sweet. i am vanilla bean milk and it doesn’t matter what anybody else is because i am vanilla bean milk. me, the fat one. 7. normal i’m thinking that maybe i am just a normal person. like maybe i’m just a normal person maybe i’m just a normal person maybe i’m just a normal person. all i want to do is just repeat that, what i said. it’s safer just to repeat something that you say rather than having to say something new that might be stupid or ugly. like once you actually think of something to say, it’s nicer just to say it again. once the words have come on out of your mouth. if you are a normal person, you can just sit. normal people don’t really do anything. they just sit. they sit in front of the tv. they sit in front of their food. they sit in front of their computer on their desk. and their butt gets big and fat. then, nobody could say to you, who do you think you are, something special? like they couldn’t even say it to you in their heads because they would see you are just a normal person. like them. normal people don’t really do that much. it’s like they are
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new in their bodies and they just sit around going, i have a body. is that normal or retarded? i can’t tell. 8. my cell phone my cell phone scares me. i turn it on and wait for that beep sound that means i have a text message when i don’t want a text message. i’m waiting and waiting and i start to feel the scared feeling in my body, and then i feel it all over my body, i feel scared in my shoulders and scared in my back and scared in my legs and then when i feel that, i start to feel like i have to pee. then i feel hot. hot hot hot i say in my head. 9. stacy stacy is nice, but she is not, she is fun but i feel weird around her, she seems to have other friends that maybe they have more fun together than her and i do. one time she told me her and her friend were mad at their roommate cause he did something icky and so they laid in front of his doorstop and masturbated together. on the floor. in front of his doorstop. i always thought, wow, she is really good friends with that girl, to do that with her. i could never do that. i always thought everyone else well i always had the feeling that other people were being much closer to each other than i could be with them. closer and free er. like they were having close, free kinds of fun and when they were with me, we were more normal and
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boring. like i’d talk about my problems and they’d try to help me and then vice versa and then, we’d go do something like go to a movie or out to dinner. some people though are so charming like everything they talk about is charming, how they talk about it, sometimes the charming people are overly concerned with their own health and their own up to the minute concerns which they are telling you about, in a charming way, but still you go, how many times can i hear about how your legs are tired when you’re standing there and you need to stand here instead. it was always amazing to me how they could talk about all their little feelings in their body like it was really important and fancy. they’d flounce their hair and say, i need a hamburger now and i have to stand under the heat lamp. they made it seem like a special secret that they were telling you that, or a show, like you were getting to see a special show of how i am feeling right now. 10. terriers i imagine myself with gold butterflies all over my head. i imagine a blue sea in front of me. am i allowed to do this? i don’t think so. i don’t think i’m supposed to do this. i think i am wasting time. i’m not really getting anything accomplished. i’m not really confronting anything bad inside of me. i’m not breathing through the pain. an old lady with dentures and a red and blue kerchief, white keds and jeans comes to sit by me on the wall in front of the beach. she dresses
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young but she is old. ‘you’ll end up just like me’ she says. i look at her. she seems ok. we just sit there, like two old terriers. 11. cinnamon twist i just like to eat. that’s all i really like to do. that and lie around in my bed. right now, i’m looking at a cinnamon twist with glaze, there’s these drippings of thicker glaze and the most exciting thing of all is this little pool of glaze that had dripped down to the plate, but now it is on another plate and that little pool of glaze has been transferred to the plate, intact, and it’s just hanging there, waiting for you to break it off and eat it. and then there’s the darker crispy cinnamon twist that is so full of butter it is darker and then there’s the light flakey doughy croissant part that is full of cinnamon. and oh, i just noticed that there are two on the plate. two cinnamon roll twists. i just look at one and then the other, i have 9 pictures of these and i can just look at one picture and then the other, my eyes going across or down but not so much up. i dont really like to look up as much as across or down. 12. tree stalk i’m a tree stalk just sitting in my room. i like it better being a tree than being a person. although being a person was sort of interesting, there was always something to think about and always something
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glamorous to want. but being a tree stalk, i usually get the things that i want, which are usually food things and i can get them and i sort of part of me doesn’t even care if i get them. cause i also just like being a tree stalk. this isn’t going to win any pulitzer prizes, i know.

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- january 6, 2013 -

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