Thursday, July 31, 2008


It had of late begun to look a bit less vital. It shrugged now where it had once flexed, nodded where it had once commanded, yawned where it had once screamed. People took notice, and as a result nearly everybody talked about its slackening vitality. I wouldn’t even worry about trotting my little Annie about in front of it, one brazen mother could be overheard declaring. This would have been a totally preposterous claim to have made just a few years back, but now people generally agreed that it would in all likelihood be safe to prance little Annie about in front of it.

In an attempt to bolster its waning vitality, it bought many colorful things. A turquoise teacup, for instance, and a bright yellow sock. People generally laughed at these transparent attempts at revitalization, and though it could hear the others laughing at it, it was no longer capable of making any of them stop. Growl, the thing sniffled, growl.

What are we to do with those less vital things that we confront? And worse, what are we to do with a once vital something grown sick and wretched? One very fine method has, I hope, been indicated here: laugh at whatever efforts that thing might make to make itself appear vital once again.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Faithful Creature

He is a faithful creature, she would say of him. Yes, yes of course I know that, but he is a faithful creature. Her friends would snicker at this for a moment, then look down into their drinks or across the lawn at some sprightly little child, or perhaps they would find a reason to stand up and go inside for a moment.

The women all regarded him as something of a ghost. He was there, certainly, one could make out (from a distance) his thinning hair and patched, unseasonably brown clothing, but one never felt that he was really actually there, that this thing with thin hair and a brown coat actually had a voice, that he could shake your hand or tell you an amusing anecdote. He was always somewhere else – in his office or behind the house or at the store getting supplies; and this, while surely something, was not altogether much; it was more of an absence, really, than a presence, but it was as much of a presence as this man ever made felt.

He had loved his wife very dearly at first, and for a time got along well enough with her friends. He’s strange! they’d whisper excitedly, but at that point it was still a pleasant strange, or at the very least a tolerable one. Over time, though, his strangeness developed into a rather onerous presence, which then further developed into a haunting, unpleasant presence, until finally, and much to their mutual relief, they were able to push him back far enough so that he was simply there, perhaps (nobody was ever entirely sure); a ghostly presence but harmless, or, as his wife put it, faithful: he was a faithfully absent presence.

These women were faithful too, in their own way. They met for drinks often, and when they did they always brought their sprightly little children. Each time they met they would ask her about him -- how he was and what he was doing -- and then proceed to make captious little comments regardless of what she had told them. With great fidelity, though, the wife would respond: Yes, yes of course I know that, but he is a faithful creature.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Puddles, Things, A Woman (Of Course), And A Captain

Plain puddles of light, dull really, or fantastic, depending, plain puddles in any case, shiver on the surface of the water. Someone, a boy I think, throws a pebble at one of them. We do not watch to see where it lands.

For hundreds of years people have preferred things to themselves. They have preferred gold fish or wagons or steak tartar or really any sort of thing to other people. That is probably not going to change.

Of course in a story such as this there is always a woman. Here she is: tall, brown hair, feet – she glances at us for an instant and then is gone.

Inside of a small ship a captain sits whimpering. His nose runs and his handkerchief is stained. On one of his lips a freckle can be detected. This does not, we hope, have too severe an effect on his command of the ship.

But we return, in the end, to the puddles of light, plain or dull or fantastic, dancing and shivering on the surface of the water. A pebble was thrown at one of these puddles, we think, but it is uncertain where it landed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cleave Eats His Soup Without a Spoon

Cleave ate his soup without the aid of a spoon. As a result very few people could tolerate eating a cup of soup with him. This, however, did little to stop Cleave from consuming a great deal of soup.

He ate at a restaurant on the outskirts of a not very large town in which he lived. It was generally agreed upon by the citizens of this small town that the restaurant was to be avoided whenever possible, not only because of Cleave’s presence but because of the termagant wait staff it boasted as well. They were fearsome women, large and ungainly, prone to violence and, worst of all, to transforming one’s order into an entirely new and oftentimes nearly inedible something. It was amongst these fearsome creatures, though, that Cleave felt most comfortable.

He would walk in and in his way smile and then order a cup of soup. Split pea he would say one day, or cream of corn. He always ordered something different, and in their turn the women always brought him something different than what he had ordered. Slurping the contents of the bowl or cup or glass that they had served to him, what few patrons there were would look over in disgust. Excuse me ma’am, one of them might venture to say to one of the women working, but do you think you could please ask that man to be a little less noisy? The woman, unperturbed, would stare at the questioner, then turn to a coworker. Hand me that glass, she’ll command of her fellow harpy. She will then take the glass and hurl it at the head of the patron that had asked her the question, usually managing to harm either him or a member of his party. Silence would then descend upon the restaurant, broken only by the thick slurping sounds of Cleave and his soup.

While Cleave rarely ate in the company of others, he was also rarely assaulted by the women who ran the restaurant. In this sense, then, he was a quite exceptional character.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


With pale and shaking fingers, G.R. Eaves plucks a small sliver of orange off of an elegant violet plate that has been set out for him. He adored oranges. His physician told him that few men had a constitution that could endure the amount of acid he took in, which would cause Eaves to sneer, knowing that the doctor did not mean this as a compliment. And I don’t know many men, G.R. would respond, with a strong enough constitution to endure having to repeat admonitions like that day in and day out. The doctor would heave a sigh – the same sigh every time: affectedly exasperated, but in its affectation betraying a sincere boredom with oneself and others – then laugh heartily, in order to set things straight again. Yes, yes, you always were a hard one, he would mumble, then recede from his patient’s chamber. This was one of the few people Eaves ever had to confront anymore.

Another was his chambermaid, a woman with thick sideburns and gnarled, inelegant hands. She was the one responsible for peeling G.R.’s oranges for him, as well as arranging them on his plate and making sure that the plate was always supplied. She was a diligent, loyal worker, and though Eaves and her rarely saw the world in the same light, they were able to tolerate each other for long enough each day to insure that G.R. never ran out of orange slivers.

One day she came in and Eaves hadn’t touched the oranges she had left out for him. She looked from the plate to the man to the plate again with a puzzled, angry look upon her face. What’s wrong, sir? she asks gruffly.

Without looking over at his chambermaid G.R. asks What have you done with them?

With what, sir? They’re all still there just as I left them.

Not those you stupid beast, Eaves replies, not those. What have you done with all the rinds?

The rinds?

Yes, the rinds.

Well I don’t know, sir. Threw them out mostly I guess. In the garbage.

G.R. gasps, then turns to face the chambermaid. Get them! he screams, go out and get them at once!

She turns from him without saying a word and recedes from the room.

The next time she returns there is only a single sliver of orange remaining on his plate. Without mentioning the rinds she lays several more pieces across the violet surface. Anything else? she asks.

Of course not, he lisps, not looking her in the face.

She once again turns and recedes from the room.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


She must wear stockings, he thought. He didn’t actually know, though. She seems to me like the type of girl that would wear stockings, he thought. Or maybe not.

He had three sisters, and while he knew that two of his sisters and his one and only mother all wore stockings, he wasn’t able to tell for certain if she did. Does she? he asked himself. Or doesn’t she?

Sadly, though, he never found out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Umbrella Floor

The floor was tiled. Checkered blue and red. Like an umbrella, one woman who entered commented. The umbrella floor. That’s what people call it now.

She had been standing on a rooftop admiring buildings when she first saw the umbrella. It was striped with deep reds and blues. She walked up behind the man holding it and whispered I like your umbrella. He didn’t hear what she said so said What? She repeated what she had said. Oh, he said. Yes.

They admired buildings together for the rest of the afternoon, and then the two parted. She never saw the umbrella or the man again, but when she saw those tiles, checkered red and blue, it was as if, she explained, she were up on top of the roof once more.

Now people walk across the tiled floor and admire it. Umbrella floor they will hum, impressed by both the floor and its name. Most of them don’t know where it got its name, but this doesn’t seem to matter. They like its checkered pattern and its name, and for them this is enough.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spending Some Time Together

She had hurt him again. It is not clear how. Presumably with her teeth, though one witness suggested it was merely something she had said. We do not find this entirely unlikely.

In the woman’s defense (as if any were necessary) the man certainly deserves all the abuse she heaps upon him. He is ugly, for one, in addition to being ineloquent, and to make matters worse, he seems determined to exacerbate both flaws by hardly ever grooming and by declaring himself the finest poet of his generation. The woman, then, really has little recourse but to savagely abuse him.

Now though, after such a very long period of abuse, it seems the woman need not even physically abuse the man for him to develop wounds. She has made him into, through her entirely justified contempt of his character, a sniveling frightened thing, impotent to revolt and powerless to defend, enervated, enfeebled, dumb.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Three or Four Holes

We can see what little we can see through three or four holes (it is uncertain whether one of the holes is a combination of two holes or just simply larger than the other two) that have been punctured in the wall. There is a woman breathing, two men pacing, a table, two paintings of faces, and one small bucket. For some reason each of these things is stained with a purple hue.

The holes are not terrific conveyors of sound, so when we press our ear up to one of them (even the largest of them – the potential double-hole) all we can make out are grunts and muffled hisses. Perhaps, though, that is how people in this room communicate.

Admiring the pacing men we think of men we’ve known who’ve paced. They all seem so small and far-off in our memory, unlike these men right here. We wonder why the woman isn’t pacing, and why the only thing that can be said of her is that she is breathing. The bucket intrigues us for a moment, but the futility of imagining what might be inside of it quickly turns to antipathy: we begin to hate the inscrutable bucket. The people in the paintings look like people we have known, as all strangers do.

One of the pacing men comes up and leans against the punctured wall. He has stopped pacing, and in so doing blocked our view of the room. Now it too, like the bucket, is frustratingly inscrutable.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Pleasant Sort of Conversation

Consumed a bowl of pecans, she said.

Is this common?

Not altogether, though I do love pecans.

Any other kinds of nuts?

All kinds.

They have sat talking like this for hours. The girl thinks of sparrows for a moment, then cotton, then again of the conversation she’s having.

I cannot say.

Perhaps then?

Yes perhaps.

But surely you must have heard what was said at the time?

Now scallops. She loved scallops. Thick wet scallops seared or stewed or otherwise. Turquoise scallops and maroon scallops and many multi hued and bellied scallops – a song lilting through her thoughts: winsome, charming. Scallops and scallops and marooned scallops too.

I don’t think I understand.

Well I haven’t asked that you do, or even that you try to.

A pause.

I’m well aware that your coming here was not entirely your choice, but that doesn’t mean…

Doesn’t mean?

…that there’s any need for hostility.

Hostility. Hostility? With a sauce perhaps, a clam clawed clam sauce, juleps, dollops, crowned corn teeth like a kebob of the tongue sipping not once twice but again aghast and aloft two round dolloped drops float through a crimson cord and weep.

…and to at least respond can’t possibly be asking too much of you.

She looks at the woman and slowly, liltingly, winsomely, a rich laugh is released. Oh no certainly, not too much at all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Toad

Let us begin with this: a toad.

A toad is an amiable creature, probably. It is also a contemplative creature. While admiring a toad, one is often struck by the heaves its entire tiny body seems to make. This betrays, we believe, both an amiable and a contemplative nature.

Amiability and contemplation are great antagonists. For one to be amiable, they must abandon nearly all contemplation, and conversely, when one is contemplative, they are very seldom amiable. Contemplation, it might even be said, thoroughly sullies any degree of amiability, for if one reflects for too long on anything (particularly others and their relationship to and treatment of them), it is possible to feel little beyond disgust. That a toad, then, is capable of joining these antipodes within itself is a testament to its remarkably profound nature.

I think enough, though, has been said about a toad, and thus we leave it now, in all its complexity, to its contemplative yet somehow amiable self.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Man Whose Portrait Is Painted Twice a Week

His lips pursed, his eyes like buttons, small and black, the man poses for a portrait. Turn this way just a bit, says the painter, no, no, not that much, just a bit, yes, there, perfect. The man is now posed properly.

Twice a week the man poses for his portrait to be painted. Each time it is with a different painter, yet each time it is completed to the same effect, that is, unsatisfactorily. It is too lifelike, he will complain about one, or My hair isn’t robust enough. In any case, none of the portraits come out quite right, and thus twice a week this man must pose in front of yet another painter.

A woman is painting this one. Women, the man says, can never paint me properly. He says this before she has even finished, and lo and behold, when the painting is finally executed, it is deemed an improper representation of our man. Trash, the man says. Trash and rubbish and totally, fundamentally not right. He lifts one of his furry, indelicate fingers and points towards a door: Get out, he commands, now.

As the woman leaves she begins sobbing. What a brute, she thinks, who could possibly be expected to paint such an awful brute? And this question, though asked in humiliated rage, is quite just: who could paint such an awful brute? Thus far, it would seem, not a soul has been up to the task.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Perils of Boulevard Stalking, Presently

On boulevards there are always men with hats. There are women with parasols and men with hats, always. On boulevards there are other men too, men with beards or worn shoes or barely undone ties. Women, though, generally always carry a parasol as they walk along the boulevards.

This is unfortunate because it makes it more difficult for the men with beards or worn shoes or barely undone ties or hats to decide which woman to follow. Only being able to see the bottom part of her back side – which is to say the most dissembling part of a lady’s person – men are often led to follow a pair of thick but shapely legs only to discover a distended, fearful face, or perhaps a slender, supple pair enlisted in the service of a sunken, haunting face; in short, they are led astray, deceived by that most prevaricating of female accoutrements: the parasol.

A few women, though, do not carry a parasol. They walk about nakedly, tauntingly, allowing us to relish all that they have to offer: legs, torso, hands, and face. The paradox, though, is that these brazen creatures frighten us bearded, hatted men – their temerity makes us recoil in fear, terrified that these exposed, uninhibited things might actually be following us. Thus, unlike their covered, concealing sisters whom we follow about unabashedly, these candid creatures are a reproach to our watchful, wandering ways.

In any case it is a frightful, scandalous affair, and I, for one, am no longer frequenting the boulevards. Women may certainly feel free to go about however they wish, but know that if you continue about sans parasol you will continue to lose even the most inveterate of sidewalk stalkers, which is something I’m quite certain you cannot afford to do.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Plop, II

Plop congratulated himself. He did not know why. He thought Well done Plop, well done. But why he would have thought such a thing is difficult to know. It didn’t even appear that he had really done anything. In any case, he was congratulating himself.

As if to break this spell an old friend of his, a woman, calls him up on the phone. Hello Plop? Plop?


Yes, he finally says into the receiver.

What were you doing?


Yes, he says.

Well I wanted to tell you that I might be coming by later.

Plop? Plop?

Yes, he says.

Would that be ok with you?



Ok. Well then I’ll be by later, Plop.

He hangs up the receiver and walks over to the mirror on the wall. He has a sour face on. He looks tired. Damn you, he says to himself, damn you. He is now, with good reason, cursing himself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Brief Survey

There are the three people in the house. Then of course there is the woman down the road. Across the street a man has two children and no wife. In the courtyard are the cousins. Five strangers inhabit the attic. A horse lives in the stable, along with a stable boy. Two people haven’t yet arrived.

For food they eat pretty much the same things as everybody else. They sleep at least half the day, and aren’t particularly active the other half. Nine of these people like speaking, the others remain silent.

The house is a dull shade of yellow. When it was originally painted it was green. There is no grass anywhere, so I guess that’s why. Inside there are rooms and closets and a few chairs; there are blankets on the floors of a few of the rooms, and that’s where I assume some of them sleep.

There is little else to record here, and thus it's time I retire to a blanket of my own.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Edison Cabinet was a man not very much inclined to industry, and for Mr. Cabinet all the world was industry. There is industry in the traditional sense, he would explain, which consists of business and enterprise, the manufacture and distribution of goods, &c, but there are all sorts of other types of industry as well. Conversing, for instance, I consider to be an industry, as well as arising from bed each morning. It is universally acknowledged that in order to avoid growing a beard a man must shave, and that the act of shaving regularly betrays an industriousness of character, and thus shaving, too, is industry. All sorts of things are industry, then, and I’m afraid I’m not inclined to any of it at all.

His friends, the dear and willing recipients of these explanations, would oftentimes nod their heads in wonder, for few of them knew anyone who conversed, or rather perorated, quite so much as Edison, or anyone who owned quite so large and profitable a business. His whiskers, they had to admit, were a bit unwieldy, and he never rose before noon, but still, most of them thought, he did seem to have a certain knack for some sorts of industry, conceding that all the world, as Edison put it, was industry. He has to, they thought, if what he says is true – how could one survive in such a world if one weren’t themselves a bit industrious? When this question was put to Edison he would shake his large and bearded head and respond That’s just it, my dear and lovely friends, there isn’t a single one amongst us that is going to make it out of this alive.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

At first they are together nearly constantly. They walk about and nod at their friends and see to it that most of the time they are grinning.

Time passes, and they are less and less in each other’s presence. He’s somewhat of a bore, she says about him. She isn’t very pretty, he says about her.

After another year they no longer speak to one another. The woman now has another man whom she walks about with and nods at friends with and sees to it that while they are together they are mostly grinning. He thinks of her now and the time they spent together and then thinks to himself that she was rather pretty after all.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Letter to Mr. Round Roundly

The letter is finished. As she licks the envelope she grows excited, relishing the acrid taste of the glue. At least, she thinks, it tastes like something. Her own mouth’s taste, of late, has begun to bore her.

The letter was addressed to a Mr. Round Roundly. She had met Mr. Roundly only a few days prior, and since then had thought of little beyond his smile, his hair, his teeth, &c. He’s so handsome, she often thought, and proper too. It was this latter quality which thrilled her most of all.

Several months ago she had met a boy who, at the time, had seemed nice enough, but in the end turned out to be horribly, almost scandalously improper. She knew, she just knew, that this would not be the case with Round. She awaited his response with great anticipation.

But, as we know, few things in life are certain. Whether Mr. Roundly ever read this young woman’s letter, for instance, is not entirely certain. That he never responded to her letter, on the other hand, ranks among those very few things, it being a definite certainty.

Friday, July 11, 2008

P. Fellows's Apartment, VII

Journeys are very often understood to be something more than just a trip – some sort of depth of experience is implied in a journey, and oftentimes even some sort of revelation. In reality, however, journeys often turn out to be little more than romantically titled trips. Or at least that’s what P. Fellows believed.

P. Fellows himself had never been on a journey or a trip. In fact, he only rarely left his apartment. What’s out there, he’d ask, that I can’t discover inside of here? When people began enumerating the various things that could not be found inside his apartment, P. Fellows would raise a finger to his lips and make a harsh, sibilant sound. The person, silenced, would look at P. Fellows, who would then explain, That is not so, my friend, you simply haven’t been inside of here for long enough. The person would snort or roll their eyes in response, and P. Fellows would nod confidently, certain that his refutation of their claims about a more abundant and richly diverse external world had made apostates of them all. This was rarely the case.

In one instance, however, one of his visitors thought that perhaps P. Fellows was right; that perhaps one could discover all that the world had to offer right inside this one (very cramped) apartment. Show me, he said to P. Fellows, show me all that you’ve learned in here.

P. Fellows takes a moment to look over his humble acolyte before he begins shaking his head. No no no, that isn’t it, P. Fellows says, that isn’t what I meant at all. His head continues to shake for some time. This is my apartment, so of course I can experience all the world within it, but not others. You must find your own apartment before you can stop your silly journeying about.

He finishes this brief lecture and looks once more over the man standing in his apartment. Run along now, P. Fellows says, I’ve had enough company in here for the day. The man turns and leaves without saying a word, and a smile breaks across P. Fellows’s face: my apartment, he thinks, for him – the idea of such a thing!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A voice could be detected over the receiver but just barely. Klst..plou. guchkt….iik..unntee…fppttudd. That was more or less all that they could hear. When asked what she sounded like a number of generous adjectives were provided: wise, excited, serious, nice, divine, happy. And what did she say? they all asked. Oh all kinds of things, the informers reported, though were hesitant at first to give any specifics. It wasn’t exactly what she said, one man averred, that moved one so, but the feelings that her words betrayed. And what were those feelings? one inquisitive little girl asked. Oh, well, profundity, for one, and smartness, and also that she was hoping. Really, all those things? the little girl continued. Oh yes, those things and others too, the man declared confidently.

The conference went on for some time like this, gaining and gaining. People were curious to know everything the informers could tell them about the woman they’d heard through the receiver, and the informers were more than happy to tell them whatever it seemed they wanted to hear. Finally, though, as the conference drew to a close, the inquisitive little girl stood up and shouted, I don’t even believe you heard ANY of those things. I don’t believe you even heard her speak AT ALL.

For a moment the entire crowd was silent. Nobody stirred. Then a chair scraped sharply against the ground, and then another, and soon all the chairs were scraping against the floor and all the people’s feet were pounding against it. They run towards the child and grab her and hold her high up in the air. Why do you think that? they all scream. Why do you say such things? The girl, face wet with tears, begs to be let down. They demand an answer. Why? they scream. Why? She cannot answer them, and soon the hands that are holding her up begin ripping at her clothes and arms and legs. Why? Why? Why? And then, just as suddenly as the chairs began to scrape and the feet to pound a relative calm descends and the crowd begins to slowly withdraw from the conference hall.

Now the hall is, for the most part, empty, and the few people that remain behind reflect serenely on the divine words that the informers heard the woman say through the receiver.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

sketch of a family whose daughter's hands drip with paint, III

Her stiff child hands were dripping with paint. She looked grey, or purple, or both. She had a stutter and refused to say words with a T in them. So many things went on in the mind of this child.

Her mother was a fat, oppressive woman. She adored making the child wear her jewelry and would adorn the tiny body in glitter from head to foot. Lovely you look my little lovely, and then she’d rub the lovely little thing’s sharp, bejeweled body.

The father ate much of the time and was gone the rest. He had a business in town, as well as an array of other engagements. He loved his daughter dearly though, and never failed to send her toys when he thought of it.

For now they all get on well enough, though the child is growing fast and her hands have of late begun to drip with paint. The doctors can’t explain it and the mother pretends as if they weren’t. What drip? she’ll say when anyone brings up the paint so very obviously dripping from her daughter’s hands. I don’t see any paint.

For now then we too will just pretend the problem does not exist, and turn our attention elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Prince Petons, II

A prince robed in a robe swings nobly down the stairs. He points at things and laughs, wears his hair down, and displays other noble characteristics.

Today he asks for his jester to be brought before him. Bring my jester before me he declares.

The man in motley is brought forth and stands looking puzzled. Why is it you’ve brought me here Prince?

Oh no reason replies the prince.

After a time of inactivity the jester is led out of the room.

Bring me my map the prince declares. He is brought his map.

Oh blast this thing he says, throwing the map to the floor. Blast it!

The map is taken away and blasted.

The prince grows weary of having things brought to him. Let’s go out and explore! he says. Upon standing up, however, the prince is overtaken with fatigue, and decides that a nap would be more welcome to him than an exploration. He goes and takes a nap.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Daughter

My daughter is terribly ugly, which is fine. The trouble is that I have to look at her a good deal. There are, for instance, things that she participates in that I am often forced to attend, and then there are the suppers my wife insists I be present for nearly every evening of the week, and worst of all there are the weekends spent at home. I have tried adopting myriad avocations that might keep me from my home (and thus my daughter) on these interminable sojourns from work, but they are often even more tedious than admiring my daughter’s face is painful.

I suppose it isn’t the worst thing in the world for a man to have an ugly daughter. He need not worry about the things a father with even a mildly attractive daughter must (i.e. other men, &c.), and he need not fear giving in to temptation (a father has a good deal of power to wield over his young daughter, and were one to have an attractive daughter, it would no doubt be difficult to curb all abuses of such power). In any case it isn’t the worst thing imaginable, though it is unpleasant to have to confront such an ugly creature so very, very often.

Also it’s embarrassing, and I fear it reflects poorly on my own irreproachable self. Have I done something to deserve a daughter this ugly? Is there some abomination in my past equal to that of my daughter’s face? Or worse, am I myself ugly? I know the latter cannot be true, for I have often been complimented on my own fine looks, which means that perhaps my daughter is a result of some former (heinous) sin of mine. If so, dearest daughter, I do apologize, though it is hard for me to imagine what I could have done that would have been that bad. Instead, daughter dearest, I would like to here suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, your mother’s history be scrutinized a bit more thoroughly if you have any interest in discovering the true pedigree of your hideousness.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A cardboard box. That is towards the front.

Two men walk in. What’s that puddle doing there? one asks.

Simple, the other replies, a man has hanged himself.

Both look up to discover that a man is indeed dangling from the rafters.

There is a birdcage to the side. In it sits a porcelain vase. Two purple flowers stick out of it.

A month ago somebody ate a meal here. They didn’t enjoy it.

Fortune has not been kind to this place. That is what a widow passing by says to her son who is visiting her from across the state. He nods in assent, though he in fact knows nothing at all of the place.

Just in case, says a man in gloves, as he hands another pair of gloves to a woman in a red velvet swing. Just in case. She takes the gloves hesitantly and slips them over her dry hands. Thank you doctor, she says playfully, knowing that he is in fact not a doctor.

There is a cupboard that doesn’t appear to have been opened in several days. Also a glass rests on the table but is empty. There is a table.

From now on I don’t think we should see each other anymore, she says to him. Why not? She has already left.

People have been arriving steadily. They admire or abhor, then go along.

I have known a dozen such instances, someone says.

The rope is cut and a splash is heard over the thud. Someone chuckles.

If I hadn’t seen her go out I don’t think I would have known anyone was there, one person explains.

A fine collection, asserts the man in the pince-nez. A fine collection indeed. It is unclear what he is referring to.

Profane, profane, whispers someone.

In several weeks two people very much in love will move into the place now being emptied of its various things.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Typist, I

Furious then to set it all down in type – to type it all down and set it there and there to have it set. His hair had been combed two days prior.

A man walks in as if it were an office. Good afternoon, he begins, but goes no further.

The man stops typing. Looking up, glancing, furtive little eyes weary but curious, perhaps, to see what type of thing said to him Good afternoon, a smile creases his swollen face and two teeth, flaxen each, appear behind his dried lips. Yes? he says, cordially. Yes?

The man standing near the door wipes with his hand his pants. There was nothing to rub thinks the man at the desk, there was nothing there to rub. Neither man says anything for a moment, both tempting the silence to coax him into speech. The silence fails, however, and the standing man begins again to rub the absent spot on his pants.

What is that you’re doing? the man at the desk asks. Why are you rubbing your pants?

A slight shiver seems to play on the cheek of the man by the door, a shiver that then snaps an eyelid shut in a heavy, frightened wink. What? he asks.

Your pants. You’re rubbing them. Is something the matter?

The man’s sudden turn towards the door seems to suggest that nothing is the matter, that, in fact, he is perfectly alright, and that as proof that this is so he is going to go, to leave and walk away, just in order to show how perfectly alright he is. The man leaves the office without uttering another word.

Turning back to the surface of his desk the man’s eyes begin to stumble and trip and shiver over the stacks and piles and mounds of typed upon pages and, like that, the man is back to his furious, fevered typing, his typing to set it all down and there to have it all set down.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Mother and Her Monocle

She stood at her balcony glowering out at the world through her rose hued monocle, her green dress standing out in stark relief against the white walls of her aged, austere home. Her thin lips lisp some tiny imprecation against all that her eyepiece reveals to her of the world.

Each day then, arising at a certain set hour, our heroine wanders out to her balcony to glower upon the world. She watches as the men in suits rush to work, as the children fleeing their mothers make their way to school, as the fools and vagabonds collect on the benches and on the corners, as people, just people, walk about talking or looking or thinking; she watches all this and she glowers, thinking to herself all sorts of nasty, hateful thoughts.

One year not so many years ago her son – a man of slight consequence in the world he inhabits, the world of business, he being a gentle man, a steady man, a dependable man – gave her a gift he felt might deliver her from her glowering, vituperative ways: a rose hued monocle. This singular device, he felt, might help to soften his mother’s rather misanthropic nature. And for a time it did.

For a while she would put the rose hued monocle to her eye and sigh – cathartically, blissfully sigh. The world was good again. This effect, however, quickly faded. After a few weeks of beaming down at the world from her balcony the beam, as is wont to happen, began to devolve slowly back into a glower. Even through the rose tinted hue the world began to reveal its true colors: gray, dun and awful. She began again to curse the world, and to call it all sorts of horrible things. In short, she began to glower down at the thing yet again.

These days, then, she wears her rose hued monocle out of habit. Its effect, long since having ceased to work on her internally, is now wholly external, for the woman looks strange with a red eyepiece that covers only a single eye. And so now, in reaction, perhaps, to the woman’s heaps of scorn, the world laughs when it looks up and sees, in stark relief against the garish white of the house’s walls, a woman in a green dress with a single, rubicund eye.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oh what fun you and i have together

Her face forms for a moment above my resting head a bubble. Through the reflection of its smooth glimmering sides I detect things like teeth and hair and flesh. My arms can’t move so I imagine pricking her face and watching as it slowly bursts before me, splaying teeth and hair and flesh shards about my room.

There over there on the wall are images of us. We cannot tell one from the other. We press against the images with our bodies trying hard to make out who is who but in the end cannot. Her head now is not a bubble at all but instead a thick knot and the whole thing grimacing at me. I pet it or try with my fingers that can’t move to undo the thing and it snarls as I work at it.

Only then or as if only then a gull emerges through a wall and shouts at us both to sit still to please just sit still. We glare at it though our eyes can’t move and it’s wearing black boots and a doctor’s long white cloak. He tells us that were he us and were we him that he would most certainly not be touching the sheets we hadn’t known til then that we had been touching. Soiled, soiled through and through, it says to us. We grab each other with arms that don’t work and soon find ourselves alone again without the doctor to advise us.

Crawl, crawl to me, she whispers through a checkered sheet, her mouth black and white and boxed just like the sheet. Crawl over and on top of me she says. I cannot see her mouth anymore but just boxes, black and white, piled and stacked upon one another. I reach out with arms and hands that can’t move but instead stick to the sheets that have become my arms. And then, just as I am certain there won’t ever be a movement made again, I cough and see you lying next to me, laughing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Poplar: a fruit bearing tree; often used, in pairs, to suspend hammocks.

This is the story of a poplar tree.

Its birth: uncertain; its livelihood: bearing fruit, suspending hammocks; its death: by saw, presumably.

It is a brief but enchanting tale.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Description of a Place

Panting red faced women huddle in a corner. They hiss horrible secrets to one another and leap in sick convulsions. But this is only a single corner.

In another there is a lonesome boy. He is lonesome for a number of reasons, none of which are entirely clear to him.

In yet another corner sits a herd of glimmering buffalo. They chew cud and look lazy. Hey buffalo, someone yells from the center of the room, but then can think of nothing else to yell.

There are other corners with other things and other people in it as well. One corner just has a ball of yarn in it. Another has wrapped itself up in thick wooly blankets and makes shuddering noises whenever anyone passes. Another is barren.

There is also, more or less, a center. There are things and people there too.