in which the book observes the descent of the elevator

In this dream I am 112 stories high, a fluffy kitten placemark thrusting up from my summit adds another 13 stories. People crowd the windows of the observation area on the top floor and ooh & ah at the violet-burnished clouds, the sun squeezed tangerine at the horizon. On my face slightly dingy office lights spell out my title.

Three paper airplanes glide into the gloaming, a gradual swoop taking them around me once, then twice. From inside the observation area the lights dim to cut the glare so those there for the view don’t find themselves staring at themselves in the glass. The city sparkles below. Or maybe it’s a library. Is that creased tenement a Dostoevsky? That block of apartments the complete works of Truman Capote? People live in them. You can see their tiny silhouettes as they step away from their windows. People? Or characters? Could we know their names? Roskolnikov ... Earnshaw ... Stephen Kumalo ...

I feel my elevator rising. Who is coming up?

A janitor trips over his floor polisher down on the third floor. He tries to stand up but his knee won’t take his weight. He drags himself to the wall and leans there, panting, wincing.

On the eighth floor two young officeworkers are fucking on a desk. One of the desk’s legs is shorter than the others by an eighth of an inch. As the couple rock the desk the folded newspaper jammed under the short leg slides out and the desk begins to thump the floor to the sexual rhythm.

In a restroom on the 18th floor a woman is vomiting. She rips a square of tissue from the roll by the toilet and wipes her mouth.

Two boys who came with their father to the office – it’s his day off but he had to proofread a report that he’d forgotten was due the next morning – race each other to the end of a 43rd floor hall. The elder boy wins again and rubs his brother’s nose in it. The younger insists on another race, the fourth, he’s not tired, he’s just been practicing, just wanted to see what the other boy could do.

There are a million stories in the city tonight. I seem to have 112.

I feel my elevator descending, its full weight. 101st floor, 90th floor, 79th floor, 53rd floor. Down, down. At the 43rd floor the boys and their father crowd in. 34th floor, 22nd floor, 14th floor. When the doors open to the lobby the guard at the reception desk doesn’t look up. He is flipping the pages of a superhero comic, Captain Something is being blasted through a similar lobby by some black suited jerk who seems to be back from the dead. Each time he returns he’s full of explosions. What is it about death that makes him go boom?  



Glenn Ingersoll

Glenn Ingersoll works for the public library in Berkeley, California. The multi-volume prose poem Thousand (Mel C Thompson Publishing) is available from; and as an ebook from Smashwords. He keeps two blogs, LoveSettlement and Dare I Read. Other excerpts from Autobiography of a Book have appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review (as fiction), E-ratio (as poetry) and Caveat Lector (as essay). Glenn recommends the Oakland LGBTQ Center.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - 22:01