Can you bring it back here?

 

 

your fantastic machine
hums and it spins
in concentric circles
around the room

and I keep time
on the floor with my toe
while your sister plays
with the dog

your plain white shirt
has stains near the collar
where you cut yourself
shaving last night

and I keep calm
while you stand in the door
while she lets the cat
go out in the night

can you bring it back here?
can you bring it back here?
can you bring it back with you my dear?

 

There’s nothing wrong with me

 

“There’s nothing wrong with me.”

He looked in the mirror.

He pursed his lips and turned his head to the side. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

The light from the window beside him made the ancient scars on his cheeks cast convoluted shadows. It made his face look sunken. Or so he thought.

“There’s nothing wrong with me.”

He surveyed himself from top to bottom. Gray was starting to fleck his otherwise black hair. There was some strange elongation of his face that he didn’t quite recognize as belonging to him. He took note of the fact that as soon as he looked away from the mirror, his idea of himself once again showed his face as much younger, his skin much smoother (at least in parts). He glanced at the sagging flab above where his belt would normally be. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

The light dimmed momentarily from a cloud crossing the sun.

He could hear children playing in the street.

“There’s nothing wrong with me.”

The Dive

Control the precipice
the flags are exhausted
in the air, entwined one being

We move down together
we meet the surface
I’ll take you with me
I’ll bring you along
through our twisted arc,
through the picture we form,
as we blend and crush the water.

Lean heavily forward
Wipe the sweat from my brow
and rest before
beginning again.

It was only the beginning
It was never an end

More than simple standing,
it destroys the tension
and makes a new movement
in the moment, we are one
to go forward, to start
with no glance back,
no sight behind or to the sides
but simple direction.

Lean against the rail,
lift my heavy feet
Rest will cure the wounds
and then begin again

The Walk

I put on clean underwear. I made certain there was no odd stain on it, either. I have all these white midi briefs that are discoloured for some reason – but I sure haven’t soiled them. At any rate, it won’t wash out. So I chose blue.

It was too hot out for pants, so I decided to wear shorts and a short-sleeved button-up shirt. A white one. It felt better in the slight breeze than a t-shirt.

Other than the heat, the weather was good. I took a bottle of water in case it got too hot on my walk. I figured a nice, leisurely stroll would get me there in about twenty-five minutes.

I passed Pam’s house first. I could see nothing through the windows – the curtains were closed. The back of the house, I knew, had Venetian blinds. I wondered how many houses in Venice had such blinds – if it was a requirement. And I pictured the people in those houses peeking between the slats at the ridiculous tourists drifting past.

She had such blinds in her bedroom. That room smelled vaguely of dust but she smelled much better,

I continued walking.

The store I passed next was where I first found Ugly Boxer magazine. Now, you may think that would be a boxing magazine, but it was actually a magazine of stories for teenage girls. Given that name, I am still amazed its run was anywhere near a dozen issues.

It went bankrupt after 13 issues. Lucky 13.

I was born on the 22nd of July, in 1956. I think that was probably a bastard of a hot day. It’s now the 23rd of July, 2013. And it’s almost as hot.

Nothing can match the heat of my imagination.

The house I passed next was where Joe used to live. He moved after his wife died. Sold the house, sold the car, moved into a home with a bunch of other old men. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. In spite of spending every second Tuesday with him, I haven’t seen him since he moved.

We played in the same bowling league.

I am not a good bowler. I was born with one leg shorter than the other (it explains my slight tilt as I walk down the street). I tend to trip over my right foot.

The park in this neighbourhood was beautiful back in the old days. That would be when I was young. And I took Shelly there in the fall. It was still not too cold so we took our clothes off and made out in one of the more secluded areas. Nothing but fucking perverts in there now, though.

Once out of the park, I grew aware of the hunger again. No food, no food. I had eaten nothing since Friday. Water and coffee. Sleeping was hard. This walk is hard, I told myself.

Taking a left off the street, I went the way the bigger trucks go and ended up on the major thoroughfare. The noise is always tremendous there.

I remember days when the air smelled better. Not cleaner – that’s stupid. People think such stupid things. I mean better, maybe more real.

I found what I was looking for.

George

At some point over the last few years, his eyes had drifted back behind massive folds that almost disguised the grey in shadow.

“I want my coffee black, of course,” he said, “Coffee with milk in it tastes like shit.”

The waitress looked amused and fully prepared to humour the old man she saw.

“Anything for you?” She turned her smiling body to me. Not just her head, her entire torso turned as though nothing could be more important than what I had to say.

“Say, how’s Dominion?” He leaned across the table.

“She died a year ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” He sat back and looked put off. He was quiet a moment, then said, “Did you see the wart on that girl’s chin?” A slow smile crawled onto his face.

“She has a wart? Are you sure it’s not a mole?”

“Bah!” he muttered and flopped back again in the chair. He furrowed his brow and gestured with his right hand, “Did you see the dirt under her nails?”

“No.”

“You people see nothing,” he laughed, “You all make such lousy artists because you’re too busy trying to not see what people would rather hide. Maybe it makes you a better writer,” he winked.

“What?” I laughed.

The waitress came back and put the coffee in front of me. I glanced at her smiling face and smiled quickly back. But when she put the coffee before George, he suddenly reached out and grabbed her hand. He patted it warmly, “Thank-you, my dear,” he said. She looked uncomfortable but smiled back and said, “You’re welcome.”

I imagine she walked back and immediately complained about the creepy old man at table six. Or perhaps she was actually mildly pleased and kept it to herself. Perhaps she thought it was genuine. She may have gone back there and told her coworkers about the sweet old man and his daughter sitting at table six, how he seemed warm and she seemed cold.

“Well,” he said. It was not questioning.

“Hmmm?”

“Did you see? You didn’t see.”

“What are you talking about? See what?”

He laughed and took a sip of his coffee. He furrowed his brows and nearly buried his eyes, “This is bitter. It makes my teeth feel like chalk.” He wrapped his hands around the cup, “It’s hot, though.”

“Mine is good,” I said, and sipped some more. It tasted a little harsh but nothing worse than I made for myself every morning.

“So,” he said, and looked down in the cup, “I guess you’ve probably heard about it from Joe.”

“Yes.”

“Well,” he said, “I’m pretty done with it all. They said it’s not doing any good, anyway.” He looked up. “I’m not back here to stay, either.”

I nodded. I had guessed as much, really. When I first met Joe, he told me of his father, The George Herin, whose painting stood as prints in Gallery Hall, past the English department. But he described him as someone unrelated and mostly intolerable. That never became my experience. And in spite of my separating from Joe seven years ago, I was the one sitting with George at this table. Not Joe.

“Hi,” he’d said on the phone.

“How are you?”

“Listen, my dad is coming back and wants to see you.”

I looked across at the old man. The hands that held the mug would not move. His eyes were settled on my eyes. He was motionless but I could sense the blood pumping through him still full of power.

“Why did you want to see me, George?”

“I don’t know.”

Broken Things

“Have you seen this?” she asked.

She was crouched in front of a box at the other end of the hall. I had just picked up a small nightstand and was about to go up the stairs. Now I was indecisive and looked at her outline against the kitchen backlight. I hesitantly put the furniture on the floor and walked to her.

“Everything is smashed,” she said and held up part of a plate.

I looked in the box. It was filled halfway with shards of broken porcelain and glass.

“There’s no paper in there, Frannie.”

“Huh?” a shadow of annoyance crossed her face “I can see that.”

“I was just saying,” I said and raised my hands slightly, innocently. I started to move back to my nightstand.

I heard the clink as the piece she held dropped back into the box. “I’m not the one who didn’t pack these properly, you know.”

I stopped and looked at her. “Well, I didn’t pack the box,” I said.

“But I didn’t not pack them properly,” she said. She was beginning to look mad.

“What does it matter, now? We can get a new set of dishes. Let’s just get the stuff off the driveway.”

Her face went blank. I could feel steam exude from her as she walked past. I had no idea what the problem was, but I know I didn’t pack the box.

“Oh, do you think that was the right way to pack that?”

“Why are you such a prick?” she said quietly.

“What?”

“Nevermind.” She walked out the door. I watched her pick up another box and then walk past me to carry it to the kitchen. I shook my head and picked up the nightstand and carried it up the stairs.

A Century of Waste

oh mother
take my body down from this cord
and help me defy this city
of carnage and frailty

oh mother
carry my body in secret away
while passenger planes
alight and fight for position

many starts and fails are false
to trade a sack of beans for gold
for gold a sack of beans will feed
and many ends are greater than their beginnings

oh mother
will you bury me down by the tressle bridge
so i may feel the rumble
of a century of waste