Saturday, March 22, 2014

bien sûr, por supuesto, obviously

"Listen, if we're friends, please, please just come over. I'll text you my address. Text me, yeah. I'm serious."

Hector stared at his hands, the snakeskin of his dry knuckles. the dried blood from the cracked joints. The hair he didn't remember getting so thick. "Thank-you." He said.

He texted his friend, Bertha (everyone called her Bea) his address, including his full name on the first line. Sure, they chatted. Sure, Bea gave him her number and offered to cook him dinner, or buy him a ("Just one, I'm pretty broke." She sighed.) a drink. Sure. But this was the first time either of them had called the other, and it was late.

"What a first time to call someone." Hector said to himself. The mass of butterflies flittering around in his stomach were hiding the pit, covering the dank opening, though it growled, hungrily.

Hector stood in his small kitchen, looking anywhere but at Bea as she bent down and unstrapped her summer sandals. Under her red hooded sweater --a zip up, that wasn't-- Bea wore:
  • a black t-shirt skirt with a rough cut V decolletage that she made herself. The seams stemmed from knots of thread by her kidneys
  • An pair of lacy black boy-shorts panties
  • A black, full cup bra with spaghetti straps
Hector wasn't blushing, but only because Hector didn't blush. Hector didn't smile much, either. Polite acquaintances called him: The Supreme Poker Face. Bullies in high school his freshman year called him Frankenstein. After a brawl in his junior year, Hector didn't have trouble for a solid three years, but now.

Bea stood up. Her t-shirt skirt had the impossible to read logo of a Swedish Black Metal band on it. She smiled at him. She smelled like baby powder. She wasn't wearing make up.

"Drink?" Hector asked.

"I'm hungry, actually. What do you have to eat?" Bea replied. She looked around Hector's apartment. She asked, "Got enough couches?"

"There's three more in the other room, if you're concerned." Hector said. He opened his fridge.

"Where do you sleep?" Bea asked.

"On a couch."

"Just any couch?"

"I've got a lot of couches."

"But not a favorite?" 

Hector did some math,  counted on his fingers, then mentally chopped some vegetables. "I could make us some vegetable and egg stir fry, and rice." he said. he added, "If you don't mind sharing food."

"I would share a drink with you too, if you offered." Bea said. She smiled at him, hands in her hooded sweater's pockets. She rocked on her heels, a sly grin curled a corner of Bea's mouth.

"Let me show you my favorite couch." Hector said.

(earlier that day. . .)
Hector Tanner stood tall and thick. From the ground up he wore:

  • Thick black gunner's boots, with reinforced toes.
  • Thick grey socks, with anti-smell heels and toes.
  • Black, boot cut, work jeans with knees his mother turned inside out and reinforced.
  • A black t-shirt
  • A dark grey, short sleeve, work shirt with a name tag sewn on. The name tag said, "William."
Hector Tanner held the splintered remains of a baseball bat. He stood tall and thick and hairy over the abject, broken, bodies of three college students. At least, they looked like college students. One of them moaned. Hector dropped the useless half-a-baseball bat and stooped. He gathered his library books and tablet computer and his backpack and carefully put everything back where it belonged. Hector sighed. The one with his wallet had run off while he dealt with the one who had the gun. 

The gun.

Hector looked around in the darkness. He found the gun and emptied the remaining four bullets from their chambers. He put the bullets two each in the breast pockets of his shirt. Hector put the gun in his backpack.

Hector Tanner slowly, quietly, finished the dark, over grown path between the gas station where he worked and his apartment building.

There were three people sitting on the stairs of Hector's apartment building. Three white boys, all younger than him, but not by much. One of them had a black eye and a split lip and a gashed open cheek, he stood up and pointed at Hector. "That's him." He said.

Hector stopped under the orange street light on the edge between the husk of one apartment building and the parking lot. Hector's hands gripped the straps of his back pack. "Hello again." Hector said.

The other two men stood up. One of them seemed almost as tall and stocky as Hector. This big one cracked his knuckles and a smile. "That so?" The big one said. "Well, Jon." He patted the pointing guy on the shoulder. "At least this one looks the part."

The three young men were all wearing identical, mottled grey hooded sweaters --zip ups that weren't-- and blue jeans that looked new under the parking lot light.

"Pardon?" Hector said. "May I pass?"

"May I pass?" Jon asked.

"Hector J Tanner, I a regret to inform you that you are to be evicted. Due to violations in the sub clause of your lease, you have forty-eight hours to vacate your apartment. On Monday at eight o'clock, the cleaning crew will arrive at your apartment. Anything still in the apartment at that time will be removed. Do you have any questions?" The biggest guy, hand still on Jon's shoulder, looked at Hector. He said, "I'm sorry Hector. You crossed the wrong guy."

"Really?" Hector asked.

"Really. Forty eight hours. I'm sorry."

"Well then." Hector said, "Excuse me." He strolled through the trio of men on his apartment building stoop. Through the two doors --his keys still worked. Up the backless stairs, through the mustard and dirt smelling cold spot on the stairs.

The key to his apartment also worked. "Huh." Hector said.

In the aloe scented darkness of his apartment, Hector sighed. He did some math, counted on his fingers, then mentally unpacked and started filling the dozen plastic totes in the bedroom closet. He stood there for a few moments, visualizing. He said, "I should probably actually do that."

(earlier that year. . . )
Hector tilted his head. "Thank-you." he said.

"Sure. Hi." 

* * *

The gas station doesn't have a regularly mopped floor. The gas station is also a mechanic's shop. The mechanics are young, dirty, honest. They laugh and most of them smoke. This is where Hector works. Hector does not smoke, he does oil changes, brake pad changes. Tire rotations. Tire changes. On his lunch breaks, Hector reads a book, or listens to an audio book.

Hector eats five apples a day. He is loosing weight, according to his plan.

Hector is twenty-five years old, and is not in college. He does not need college. He likes learning --is an autodidact. Eventually he will be the owner of

We were, the seven of us, sat in chairs, feet up on the patio table, while young fireflies flittered around the pine trees.

We were, the four of us, sat on a blanket, while the antique, electric fan rattled and kept the mosquitoes away. It was hot and the Absinthe was long warm, but black Absinthe (its first, startling, aniseed bite: so tasty) was designed for Greek evenings and rivuletted beautifully through our misshapen ice cubes and coiled delicious at the bottom of our pint glasses.

We were, the three of us, cuddled on the couch. We listened, mouths open, breath held, for the next thunder clap. We smiled and clapped and forced laughs that turned real with each boom.

We were, the two of us, stuffed in a booth the night before

. . . look. This isn't exciting, it is wish fulfillment. You don't have to read it, you probably shouldn't.

I want to remember moments where we held hands and stared quietly into a roaring fire while sheets of rain thrashed against the windows. I want to remember the

I am writing this so I can remember the curve of her hips in those brown pinstripe pants we found at a thrift store in Charleston and no, it doesn't matter which one. We got funny looks and poor service. She wore a white a frame shirt and a cream colored bra that made many things defy physics that evening, and she grinned with her thin, wide lips and her verdant eyes shone like polished lake stones.

We laughed, incredulous, at the dry triangle of t-shirt under her boobs, the first time she wore that bra and we got caught in the rain. "How is that?" She asked, holding the shirt up.

"Your boobs." I said, "They are literally comic book big."

She shook her head. "That's ridiculous." She said, "They're ridiculous." And she sighed, heavily, goose fleshed and August tanned.

I am writing about the past because I am trying to come to the present.

I am writing while I wait. I am waiting. I have a friend, I am her ride to the hospital when she goes into labor. Well. I might be her ride to the hospital. I might go out dancing tonight, later, depending on how she feels. She has slept most of the day, and been prone, half dazed, when awake.

I wanted to write a "simple" heroics story. A clever set of events that a group of friends or acquaintances experienced together. Instead I'm pretending I'm single.

I'm not. My friend is my wife and the fact that she's my friend isn't a lie, but it isn't the truth, either, because people always expect you to tell them the biggest most interesting and life changing part of a story first, as if it were their business that I'm married to my best friend.

As if they have a right to know who I actually love.

I love my best friend, and she is asleep, or about to be, on the couch. And I am here, writing. Putting words down, trying to express the present, so I'm not stuck looking into the past, no matter how far that may be.

Do you know the song "STUNNER" ? it came out in October of 2013. The singer-song writer is a very tall, very old man. He is in his forties. He wears black clothes, t-shirts with his name in huge block letters, white on black.

Maybe if I have a sip of vodka my daughter will kick off this


Friday, March 21, 2014

Gracias, amiga.

Sus manos son frágiles. Son las primeras cosas que veo.

Comienza pequeño. Pasos pequeños son el único modo de conscientemente llegar a algún sitio. Múevete lentamente, presta atencíon. Mira más alla --dos veces-- todo el tiempo.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Enthralled by a summer witch in the dead of winter

amaba una bruja de verano en el medio de invierno.

I sat and secretly enjoyed the smoke from the man's cigarette. It was crisp, and reminded me of corn mazes and a summer with witch's fingers.

Me sentaba y con yo me gustaba los humos con el pitillo del hombre viejo.

The ghosts of summers passed. The ghosts of past summers. The ghosts of passed summers.

"Pass the past," he said, and passed out.

Por favor, dime el pregunto del realidad. 

En éste momento, quiero preguntarte: ¿qué vas a hacer? ¿que quieres a hacer? ¿por que éstos no son lo mismo? 

voy a escribir un relato en español. Va a ser un travelogue de mi vida, mi corazón, y mi cabeza cuando soy un papa.

Sí voy a escribir en español --va a divertido pues, ó cómico? 

Friday, March 14, 2014


There was a poem in my head the other day,  it stared at me with break light eyes on a dim bus. 

The poem began with, "Assume. Assume he engineers all those moments for you. He lays them out, just so you can smile and laugh and think 'synchronicity'"

That isn't how it started.

I don't remember how it started.

That is half a truth. The poem started while I was contracting, while I was feeling the clouds, and her uterine lining.

The poem started, then.

The poem started with the idea that nothing is coincidence, that all the electric moments where hands brush, or where one wavers into the other --all those moments are planned.

The poem is the edge and the gusty day that stilled our lips with its strength.

The poem tried to talk about the bird calls, and the muddy water we swam in, and how we both laughed and swopped the dirt from our eyes.

"Assume," I thought, "That he waited breathlessly for you to take his rook, knight your pawn and threaten his king."

No. None of that is true. Until just now the poem wasn't a chess metaphor.

The poem isn't chess because the poem is not combative. The poem is collaborative. Like, hands holding; that fluttered until touching, then were earth steady. Hands that pulled us through museums to see the next favorite painting.

The poem was outstretched hands and a red hooded sweater on a dark, cool, summer fire escape.

Assume he wants to as much as you do.

Assume you're thinking synchronously.

Assume you know their secrets and momentary fantasies (because you do).

Assume you know the questions.
(because the poem recalled the re-getting-to-know-you of it all.)

Assume the darkest, closest moments.

That was the refrain to the poem, but the three stanzas are gone.

Just love, hiding in the falter of a wonky tongue.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A birth cycle is a series of escalating echoes that culminate in the creation of love. This is the broken equation at the root of our universe. There is a spectrum and both ends, though completely separate, are exactly the same.

He laughed and swallowed the last of his vodka. He looked across the white table at his dinner companion and continued, "Love from things previously not love. Entropy is, in reality, not. Entropy is a human misunderstanding, because humans evolved without a keen love sense. Training a sense of love, learning compassion. Every religion points to this as a thing. Reincarnation, living after death, an afterlife."

Before dinner, he stretched, smiled, all his tension gone. Still smiling, he stared into the mirror. His reflection smiled back.

The pressure subsided. The darkness of his apartment grew warm and soft. The tugging eased. The pushing eased. "Soon." He whispered into the darkness. "But maybe, not yet?"

ALt Revision 3 (for Dave L, from the bus)

This is the most recent version of ALt. It is the complete, chapter-ed, text, and it is happily distributed under a CCL.

Here's the ugly URL:




You can't get further away than the moment just before you start coming back


There's a Cuban phrase, a dismissal and condemnation: roughly translated, it is:
I wouldn't even move backward to gain the momentum to pass you faster

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mercedes, 15 Years Later.

Teeth strained against gums in a raw, copper-tasting, mouth. She slid into bed with him while a watery sun rose, and was trapped in their gossamer curtains.
(A spiderweb, glistening)

Mercedes wrapped an arm under, around, his neck as she slid quietly against his back --the crook of her elbow found his jugular, then her other hand found the center of his hips, and stalked past it.

He sighed in his sleep, as she scrapped dirty teeth against his bristled neck.

Mercedes closed her eyes; and opened them before he woke. Her hand slipped from his hips up to his eyes, and she gently pressed her fingers against them. He stirred, but only briefly.

She bite one of his ear lobes, and tooth sawed it raw before she slid off his eyes and out of his bed.

* * *

Mercedes let the breeze sway her on her bare heels. Under a thin cloud blanket, the spring morning was warm and wet. She smiled and pulled on the hood of her red sweater. Her grey leggings matched the clouds: patchy, old, fast moving. Despite piles of refrozen snow, she stood, barefoot, her toes blueish, pink-ish.

"See you later, lover." She whispered, staring at the poorly locked apartment building she'd just left. And with that, she walked away, cat toeing down the sidewalk skipping over cracks in the wet sidewalk, letting the cold fail to push its way into her feet.


Friday, March 7, 2014


Teeth strained against gums in a raw, copper-tasting, mouth. She slid into bed with him while a watery sun rose, and was trapped in their gossamer curtains.
(A spiderweb, glistening)

She wrapped an arm under, around, his neck as she slid quietly against his back --the crook of her sallow elbow found his jugular, then her other hand found the center of his hips, and stalked past it.

He sighed in his sleep, as she scrapped dirty teeth against his bristled neck.

She closed her eyes, and opened them before he woke. Her hand slip from his hips up to his eyes, and she gently pressed her fingers against them. He stirred, but only briefly.

She bite an ear lobe, and tooth sawed it raw before slipping her fingers off his eyes, and out of his bed.

* * *

This woman, Ingrid, because that is this woman's name. Ingrid let the breeze sway her on her bare heels. The spring morning was warm and wet, under the thin cloud blanket. She smiled and pulled on the hood of her red sweater. Her grey leggings matched the clouds: patchy, old, roiling. Despite the piles of refrozen snow, she stood, barefoot, her toes blueish, pink-ish.

"Excuse me" a man behind her said. "Sorry."

"Why are you sorry?" Ingrid asked. She stepped into him, they thumped chests and the man looked away, wet Petoskey stone eyes darting.

"Sorry." He repeated.

Ingrid shifted her hips, shuffle slid her feet and smiled. Their bare toes touched, hot-cold on the damp pavement.

The man startled back with a hop, but his shoulders were relaxed, his head up, neck straight.

They stood a few feet apart, like samurai sizing each other up.

Ingrid said, "Barefoot." and the word pulled her lips into a grin.

"Uh huh." The man said. A grin twitched on his lips like an errant heartbeat.

"Well." Ingrid said.

"Well." The man said, "Good day to you."

"And to you." Ingrid said with teeth like knives, lips like whips.

He passed by her, her head lilting. She sniffed as he passed her. He smelled like a good, clean, tattoo parlor. He smelled like expensive vodka and a tree just struck by lightning.

Ingrid counted to ten before she continued her walk.

Back in her apartment, Ingrid sat, naked but for an overlong, white, a-frame undershirt on a deep red, very worn leather couch. The couch, a shambling thing from the forties, was held together by huge brass rivets and expertly hidden staples.

The wind rattled the window panes and Ingrid stood, wavered, padded quietly over and snapped the hanging blinds shut.

The blinds rattled against the drafty window panes.

Ingrid sighed.

The kettle whistled mournfully, but just for a moment.

* * *

Ingrid's nose cracked, snapped down, the butt of the gun bouncing off her face. Lips like  a drunk clown, she laughed, blood flecking the assailant in front of her. "Really? Me? You? You are going to hit me?" She asked.

Henry knocked two of Ingrid's front teeth out, but it took him a goodly few strikes to do it.

"My dentist both laughs at, and thanks you." Ingrid said with a lisp, through fat lips. "So,

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I leaned down to kiss her and she brushed her oceanic bangs (fringe, hairline, forehead coverings, whatever) away and looked up at me --just her pupils moved. Her eye brows twitched and this was the moment we shared, her blue eyes and my grey, and then I kissed her exposed forehead.

Staring at the TV she shouted, "Thanks for cooking dinner." while I washed and put away the dishes.

She was pregnant. Our apartment was always warm, up on the third floor. Our balcony overlooked the guest parking lot. Our cats crashed about: into the kitchen, out again.

We sat and held hands for a minute before it got uncomfortable for her wrist, so she said, and then she was tired and it was "late."

We traded goodbyes like pairs of twos and threes. I sat for a moment. I sighed. I stood up and got the laundry, folded it neatly and put it all back into a different basket.

I walked into the bathroom and stared at the mirror. Tired, cloudy eyes stared at me, a half grin poking through my beard. I rubbed my hands together. I decided to go for a walk.

Barefoot, the sidewalk was still warm against the soles of my feet, rough. The boughs of the trees whispered softly back at the breeze, and hands in my pockets, I smiled and whispered, too. Words like string, knit like memory blanket.

I stopped on a street corner and watched a car speed by --tinted windshield, huge rims, booming bass. A bottle dropped and shattered in the middle of the street, the shards sparkling across the concrete.

I crossed the street carefully, heel toe, heel toe. Ahead, under another halogen intersection street lamp two people talked, the smaller had a cigarette.

I quickened my pace, the larger one was too close, yelling indistinctly, slurred. The smaller person shrank away, bumped into the lamppost, and I ran: toes heel, toes heel, toes heel. Ten feet from the couple, I announced my presence with the slap of my feet against the ground as I slowed, soles singing, and

Saturday, March 1, 2014


"Mercedes Marie Swanson!" her mother yelled from the bottom of the wrought iron staircase. "You de-electrify this staircase immediately and come down to breakfast or so help me I will dig out my rubber soled shoes and drag you down myself!"

Mercedes rolled over, her pillow clasped against her ears. She stared up at the rain washing down and across one of her five skylights and sighed. Mercedes adjusted her white, cotton, eye patch and pushed the corners of her mouth around, experimentally. She settled on a crooked grin. "Be there in five! I'm jerking it!" Mercedes yelled.

"You're grounded!" Came the instant report.

"I'm already grounded!" Mercedes screamed back. Mercedes rubbed her hands together, then paused. She looked between her computer and the staircase. Mercedes walked to her tatami mat bed, peeled a corner back and pressed one of two green buttons on a thin, glass and aluminium rectangle. She sighed. She rubbed her hands over her cooled lava scalp and down her wrinkled, chicken skin neck. "Another day." She said.

As she was pulling on a pair of sweatpants, her computer and workbench lost power.

"Son of a --" Mercedes said. She stared at the dull screen and the empty eyes of her various, used-to-be- charging devices.

"No swearing! Get down here!" Mrs. Swanson bellowed. "Your melon is getting warm and your pancakes and tea are getting cold! Now Hurry! Up!"

"Mom! I'm cleaning my eye! Please! --" Mercedes's voice cracked and she stopped shouting mid  thought. She gently pulled her eye patch off and put it in her pants pocket. She took a bottle of saline solution and a cotton ball from a small, high shelf. Mercedes sat, cross legged, and dampened a few cotton balls. Like taking off makeup, Mercedes carefully rubbed and dabbed away the sleep-crust and dried blood from around her ruined eye. She stood, fluidly, without using her hands. From a gigantic, baobab-esque coat rack tucked behind the spiral staircase, Mercedes plucked a fresh, olive colored eye patch; put it on; adjusted it.

"Be right there!" Mercedes shouted and hopped and descended