Blasé.  Apathetic.  Impertinent.  Squire.  Death.  Music.  Mosaic.  Multitude.  Squiggles.  Incest.  Antiseptic.  Precision. Octagonal.  Cringe.  Inducing.  Indigestion.

A multitude of insects flooded the space around me: I raised my arms in flowing euphoria, my heart pulsing acceptance and repentance through my veins. The insects were ferocious, devouring me. I became them and fluttered away, my arms now wings beating to the rhythms of the sky. The blue opened before me and the garden disappeared below, becoming a square dot against the green flora of the park–I could look back no longer and I became king, the sun extending a finger to touch my outstretched and sensitive antennae–the meeting making me blush and me, surprised, becoming warm with the joys of freedom and deliverance.

Everyday.  Pertinence.  Barb.  Harp.  Anthropological.  Beat.  Patience.  Cramp.  East.  Emptiness.  Star.  Handle.  Surgical. Chevron.  Excellence.  Statesmen.  Tolling.  Father.  Ethnic.  Severance.


baseball – dream american

the baseball field grasses grow wild, and as you field a ball you trip over a mound of grass in the infield, falling on you knee and scraping it badly.  you get up and make the throw and the runner is OUT and everyone claps and your coach yells.  moving back to shortstop you realize that your pants are ripped on the kneecap and through the hole you can see your scrape, bloody and full of dust.  it stings but you pretend it doesn’t, and soon the next batter is UP and I’m set

hey batta batta batta batta batta SWING batta batta batta batta

he swings

the sun is setting just behind home plate and you have to pull your cap low, squinting

through the chainlink behind home plate there’s a commotion and people are crowding around some guy and yelling “give him room”; through your squinted eyelids peeled open and now the game has stopped, waiting, you take your cap off and hold it above your eyes for more shade, and IT’S DAD (you start towards the fence).  Two steps, three steps, faster with everyone.  Dad is grunting, with his shoulders bunched up by his neck and his arms crossed clutching himself


rainburst (2007)

Time in bars Chahl’s rain, rain hard dripping flood door cut hole garbage bag to wear over our head.  Panels drip fill-bulge with water then burst to the floor bursting while hicks while people keep drinking, taking mystery shots talking and mixed drinks talking looking mystery shot in standing water an inch deep.  I am an interruption.  A man talks about cowboy hats from Valentine Nebraska complement him, leave tells me it’s the style, the style, the style argyle socks pants rain leg rolled up they think I’m gay.  Cousin point stare laugh look I wear argyle socks I laugh I scream I scream, I laugh I leave panel bulge-burst with water I run rain paste our face our cry arm splatter bag-paste to face I am laugh, laugh, laugh.

Iraq War – dream american

walking through a sunlit meadow, the colors of wildflowers swirling around your feet, bright blues and soft greens; in the air little pinpricks of light dance, and in the middle of this meadow a wooden plank stands resolutely, having been stuck in the ground some time ago. Barely weathered, the corners are smooth, but otherwise the plank is unimpressive. It’s just THERE and not in the roofing of the nearby farmhouse, so pretty and cozy. Hands out now, passed the plank, feeling the grasses creeping slowly up to waist-length feeling every stem and no stem

back home dinner is set “did you feed the dog?” asks mom, and yes, you did feed the dog. The air inside is sticky-hot and you wash up, lathering the bar soap onto your face and arms but still now sweet sweat beads around your elbows and one drop falls to the floor. “I did ___ today,” you say. Dad looks at you between bites and doesn’t smile, his jaw chewing cud in big closed circles, you smile, he smiles, he takes his fork and in one deft motion stabs a piece of meat and chews it up like some

you say “Mommy, can we talk to ___ today?” and Mommy doesn’t even look up, her eyes are on her food and she’s not even eating. Her red potatoes sit on her plate, arranged perfectly precisely by the meat. The forks and knives. Finally she closes her eyes and puts her napkin on her legs. Her eyes focus on your dad

SON, there’s something we have to talk about. We can’t call ___ tonight because he’s gone,

at this point dad looks straight at you and holds your gaze

SON, he died, someone killed him in the war, so he won’t be coming home

a light breeze wafts in through the window and ruffles the off-white curtains

you are young, and your dad is telling you something that will change everything, and your mouth is open, his lips pursed, his arm now resting on the table by your red potatoes, fingers lightly clenched

SON, this will be hard but we will have to make the best of this

mom cries

SON, you’re going to have to help more now, keep working and we’ll all get through this

dad’s rock-hard jaw quivers

SON, we have to work our way

the drapes puff

SON, it will be ok

mom is shaking

SON, gone

DAD, I know


A young boy holds puzzle pieces between his fingers and, standing in a hospital room, stares on as a large nurse rips a long brown tube from his grandmother‘s nose, then turning her over and exposing her sagging backside to the room–a boy, now without puzzle pieces (a hand has replaced them), is led out of the room.

Now outside, the puzzle sits half finished (a crab is taking shape). The boy sits at a card table next to an open window–a crisp breeze streams in, brushing his bangs back–outside, through the frame of the window, leaves twist downward onto the white foam of a brown river, swept downstream and through downtown (which is cupped in a bend of the river like an egg delicately held in a hand).

From the grandmother’s room, a high-pitched wail, a constant beeping–round, glob-like beeps–in rush nurses clad in green smocks, and some doctors in blue. A man in a flannel shirt slowly leaves the room, frown lines extending to his chin. He scratches his short beard and turns to the boy, who is still sitting at the table. The boy looks up. A tuft of his hair wafts in the breeze. Sunlight, golden green, streams through the window, illuminating them both; looking in with it, we see:

A small chest rising and falling; two large hands now resting
On a boy’s slouched shoulders. The right, patting slowly
Up and down, squeezing–

and from it, expanding outwards,
A gentle warmth with feeling.


walking through a sunlit meadow, the colors of wildflowers swirling around your feet, bright blues and soft greens; through the air little pinpricks of light dance, and in the middle of this meadow, a wooden plank stands resolutely, having been stuck in the ground some time ago. Barely weathered, the corners are smooth, but otherwise the plank is not impressive. Its significance is that it’s just there and not in the roofing of the nearby farmhouse, so pretty and cozy, or otherwise anymore; its existence is just strange.

“horrible” 12/14/2006

I was walking around campus on an absolutely sparkling December day.  I had to make my way to the bus stop, as I had to go to work, but I ran into my friend Karl, who had just finished a math class.  He looked terrified: his eyes were wide and his face was twitching–in fact, as I looked at his face more closely, it was perpetually contorting and seizing, and his nose wouldn’t stay put in the middle of his face.  Instead, it floated around, circling his mouth a few times before turning upside down.  Then, it took a little excursion to his right ear, where it took a little sniff, the snub quivering a bit and the nostrils contracting inwards.  It seemed to be interested in some odd scent in the air, and for a moment I thought I could smell something too–perhaps a sweet, icy scent.  But I began to doubt myself, and indeed then I didn’t think I could smell anything at all, save for the cold air, which sailed into my lungs with each breath.

Karl’s mouth was turning like a pinwheel, and his lips kept bursting  in the cold air and then repairing themselves just as quickly.  They seemed to bleed, with red, steaming blood oozing and slipping from cracks in his flesh; but then the cuts would disappear as if an invisible surgeon were suturing them with infinite speed.  The frigid wind ruffled his hair, and his blond bangs flew in every direction–but every so often a clump or two would stand straight up on his head, seemingly ready to strike at me like a cobra.  Then they would relax and fall back into place, forgetting what they were doing.

“Karl, you look terrible,” I said.  His eyes shifted places, the left moving upwards and out of the way of the right, which took its place.  Then the left shot straight down and over to the right’s previous position.  I gave him a puzzled look.

“I had a horrible math test,” he said, but the words came out backwards–and then they froze!  A few of them fell onto the ground and shattered like icicles.  I became slightly disoriented and bent down, trying to pick up a few of the pieces.  I got a few whole words, but “horrible” was impossible: the best I could get was “ribble,” the rest having been smashed beyond repair.

“My girlfriend just broke up with me,” he continued.  I looked up at him before trying once again to find the rest of “horrible.”  I now had “orhible,” which was nowhere near “horrible,” if anyone has ever tried to put together a shattered word.  I was quite enthralled in the process, and soon I had “rorblehi” before accidentally losing the “i” and the little “b,” leaving me with “rorleh.”  I contemplated giving up.

“It’s easy to fuck it up,” I said, and Karl looked at me.  He bent down to my level–and his pin-wheeling mouth, shifting eyes, and adventurous nose all became perfectly still for one long second, and we looked each other in the eyes, our gaze held like the resonance of a mighty church bell fading slowly, impossibly slowly.

“I know,” he said.  Then, Karl shot me a wicked smile, and I was taken aback with his happy sarcasm.

“Isn’t it weird how my face keeps doing this?” he said, beaming.  I looked at him, and his nose now appeared to be dancing, leaping off his face (nearly halfway to my own!) and then jiggling around above his mouth (at least now it was in the correct position).

“Yeah, but help me find the rest of ‘horrible,’ ok?”

Within a few seconds Karl had found and arranged the rest of the word in his hand.  It greatly impressed me how quickly he was able to accomplish this goal.  He grabbed me with his other hand and pulled me up, and I nearly had to leap to my feet.  A cold, blue tinted breeze brushed against my cheeks, and I could feel myself blushing.

“By the way,” I said, “how are you doing otherwise?  I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Karl paused for a moment, and his nose, eyes, and mouth all slowed down their movements for a moment, as if they too were lost in thought, or at least were responding to Karl’s own thoughtfulness, which he showed merely by pausing, as naturally I couldn’t read his face.

“Horrible,” he stated simply, after a second.  “Simply horrible.”

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