All in make-up; all clean; all with their hands hanging by their sides because they can’t agree on a common prayer-book so they’ve brought none at all; all in their best sudden-funeral clothes, they all file off like dark cemetery pines along a roadside fence; all silent, all frightened, they all file off.
“Fucking bunch of idiot liberals take their side, and then the Muslims start hollerin’ that they got rights, like they’s real Americans, like they belong here...”
Lower Leg had downtown: the drugstore, the town’s two restaurants, the old Ferguson Theater, a couple gas stations, one with a convenience store, and a few other businesses, most closed. All of it was old and dying, paint flaking, stone and brick chipped and dull, or already dead, slowly murdered by the Wal-Mart on the northeastern outskirts of town...
Whenever I wake from a bad dream, my murderer gives me homework. He’s there waiting. Not at the edge of the bed, as one might assume, with a hand resting calmly on my back, but sitting alone in the dim light of the kitchen.
I never sleep. Not since I was six. When I had this dream which for some people might have been a revelation. But frankly there was nothing unusual about it. You’ve probably heard it all before. This procession of images. I was a small light flying around in space. But there were no stars, there were no planets. There was only direction and speed.
The accident happened in early fall and just before Christmas the company had already settled with James, or more likely James had had to settle for what the company offered. They had also arranged for me to drive him to the restaurant of his choice. “Some place fancy,” the supervisor told us.
The Thane of Polyurethane hunched under a freeway bridge, urinating in the face of Progress. Up on her elbows the ogress propped herself. Spluttered, spitting piss and baby toenails, “This a new development?”
My childhood was spent in my mother’s studio, watching her adhere little objects to shapes formed in clay. She took me on guided tours through art books, from the sculpture of Louise Nevelson, with whom she’d gone to art school, to Georgia O’Keeffe, into whose paintings I’d drift.
His eyes filmed over. She reached across to hug him.
It’s my own fault, she said. I’m abandoning you, aren’t I?
She nodded. I should have complained months ago.
The men who don’t do it, don’t buy it. Do they talk about it? Proud as gods looking down on the people they say yes, we understand, we feel your anger and pain, we’ll just throw down some thunderclaps, smite a few people with some lightning, and we’ll all feel better?
They were coming into town, past the casino and the rodeo grounds both sparkly as rhinestones, past the cemetery dark as death is, the espresso shop which closed at noon and the shop which sold homemade sausages and the Christian bookstore, all dark.
i was born at a young age. i arrived before i had any understanding of the ramifications behind my every move. i struggled & screamed bloody murder. obviously i overreacted since i’m on top of the world. that is, in a geographical dig...
He reminded his son every few minutes to drink more water. The heat had pushed the boy so far back into his stroller he could barely see him. They winded down street and alley, and everyone stared at them, this odd caravan, foolishly or courageously bearing the conditions, pretending to be walking along as if along the streets of Paris.
My brother came, and, again,my mother, and the nurse remarked on what a wonderful family I had, warm, as the kids with drug problems played chess in the open waiting room, and an adolescent with long black hair and earrings in her nose drew intricate pen and ink sketches.
I know that if I cut him off permanently he’d just get it somewhere else and do it in private, alone and somehow that feels crueler to me than my being the supplier if that makes any sense, and I know the Hutts still wanna run me out of business but I pay em protection money every month and it’s stupid but there’s people like Ben who need a place like mine
Glenda determined that the cut wasn’t too severe, and treated it with a Band-Aid. Glenda then applied more Band-Aids to the student’s head, hoping to heal any emotional wounds as well. Soon his skull was covered with Band-Aids, and he found it hard to breathe. Glenda removed a few bandages around the student’s nose so that he could inhale.
I concluded that this 48-year throwback was rife with free form: some events would be the same, some not.
The stink filled the room as Raphael squealed. The boots melted to the red elements and he couldn’t get them off. I climbed up on the chair and slung my arm around Raphael’s waist and pulled until both of us thudded on the floor. I stood up and Raphael didn’t.
The first thing we noticed about the rocketship perched on the roof of Hogan’s Bar & Grill was its small size, like a VW bus decked out in alien peace symbols, webbed in light, rocking as if at sea.
The chairs were cleaner and most plushy versions of movie theater chairs and on either side of her sat a woman who was pregnant, a blonde and a brunette, both beautiful and pregnant. They had a man sitting next to each them. One of the men was rubbing the blonde’s thigh, and she looked uncomfortable. She began biting her lip so hard that blood trickled down her chin.
The lining on Mr. Chepman's blue Upper Valley Cab Co. jacket looks like the interior of his car and he is driving it two buildings over to pick up Mrs. Plarst for her dialysis ride. She hates him because he plays Motown Mornings on Oldies WLLZ, and he hates her because he has to fold up her walker and put it in his trunk.
That boy said it’s all monkey talk listen he said. I wasn’t to listen but Jake’s door was open because I was to. It’s what you do he said, how the thing is done is nothing but whispering in the library, the boy said you won’t. I’m not approved of Jake and you won’t stand up but that’s not how things are done is it Jake what am I supposed to do then?
“This isn’t about some kind of minor infatuation,” Mable said. “It isn’t about sex either, or lust or any of that other shit that consumes people, but I will say that it is about love, which is an emotion I can’t help but feel every morning when I wake up and go out into this world.”
We lived the kind of life that goes unnoticed, in a town no one cared about. Small town, run down. No highways near it. Nobody noticed guys like us, guys with crummy lives. Not until we shot someone or got shot. Not until our face could be used as the face of some new drug epidemic.
No one to pull the desecrated Bible from his hands or return the books to the library or confiscate the notebooks where he wrote about the CIA targeting him, the cops drugging him. No one to halt the paranoid letters to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram or the neighbors. No one to block him from entering the Wedgewood Baptist Church in the middle of September wearing jeans and a black jacket.
When Lucifrinia fell to Earth, the journey was uncomfortable but not as painful as God’s minions wrote about in the Heavenly tabloids. But they were prone to lavish hyperbole, and they had an agenda. They didn’t want any more residents fleeing the Golden City, which was terribly dull. Neflix and chill indeed.
Now, when the neighbors saw Tommy pedaling down the sidewalk toward them, he was accompanied by Buddy, who, despite his friendly name, could still remind people of an angry, metallic dinosaur, a flesh-eating titanium pterodactyl. It’s to be certain that Tommy’s voluminous questions received much more thoughtful replies.
Glen blushed. The night before, he’d had that very thought when the snow began to fall, but was so engrossed in a crime drama marathon that he didn’t think it again until about eight inches were already piled up, so he didn’t bother. His inexcusable laziness created so much more work for the both of them; it shamed him.
And God would then pass the hot hot pipe to you after puckering his lips so that they looked rosebud butthole-like and, after bitching about burning his lips, then lunged into one of his stoned and spendy raps that reminded you of a typical cheesy Marvel comic book (God’s raps, too be honest, never rated DC status), and God’s steering became ever more erratic as he told how he loved Isaac’s arms, Isaac’s track marks, a terrible beauty there, God said,,,
“I’m Florabelle, my sister’ name’ Corabelle, and she ‘Dumbelle’,” they would alternately say when introducing her to other children, remaining ever faithful to the canon of New Orleans blackfolks’ rigid color-caste system. “We ain’t like her,” they’d tell their playmates. “We go to Corpus Christi. She go to Phyllis Weekly. We got good hair. We don’t need no hot comb like her,” they’d say, stroking the colorful barrettes her dexterous, dark hands had fastened to their ponytailed tresses.
Hi, I’m LA NEGRITA, this is my story, this is my song. Welcome to my world of scandal and oppression. I was on my way to be a kind, gentle and obedient Negress, until I got a phone call from my best friend MACHINE GUN KIKI. She requested I immediately come to her rescue at the Institution of Achievement for Colored Ritards.
In the morning before school, while her mother and sisters discussed the topics of the day such as gluten (against it), the Ice Bucket Challenge (for it), and the growing number of civilians being shot by law enforcement professionals (for it), Bookworm read the Cheerios box.
Otis pops the trunk. We carry 3 cases of bottled Rolling Rock beer to my 2nd-floor apartment. He sets a fat bag of weed, an elk-horn pipe, a small metal pipe, & a lighter with a Pittsburgh Pirates emblem on the kitchen table. We're reading our poems at the Erie Art Annex at 8. By then, there's no way we'll be sober.
It was five days ago that the train carrying Billy Rae flew off the tracks, killing fifteen people, including Billy.
I laid in bed, trying to wish the morning away and ignore all the racket Dani made as she finished her breakfast, all bowl scrapy and slurping. The neighbors had been going at it for a while, quiet enough to begin with, but soon they were moaning and rutting the bed so it squeaked and popped. I put Dani’s pillow over my face and tried to wish that away too, but the noises got in my blood so much that I fapped.
When I come to, I am half sunk in ivy, the sun bright in my eyes. My right leg is tangled in my ten-speed. The handlebars dig into my side and the front wheel is bent like a potato chip.
The three boys walked up to the fence and stopped. They looked around a little as they made it there. Each of the boys had a flashlight, and they scanned the little field with them, passing over half a dozen goats. After a short pause, the tallest boy said, “That one. The brown one.”
I come to work at seven-thirty. I start and seven-thirty and finish at four. We get half an hour for lunch.
As you walk down the corridor it gets shabbier and shabbier: the carpet turns from light green to dark; the rooms get darker; the carpet ends and becomes tan and pink lino; the tan and pink lino ends. Our lino is two shades of grey. Our office is woodwork-teacher furniture, old typewriters and four time clocks. All the time clocks are wrong.
The workday, truncated as it was, would be followed, soon enough, by yet another. The man fumbled with his keys as he stood outside his flat in the dim yellow light of the hall. Fatigue hampered the man’s fingers and threading the key into the lock required three attempts before the man met with success. Home smelled of two parts lemon drop, one part cinnamon, and a dash of pine scented floor cleaner. Breathing in the chilled air of the empty flat, the man dropped his keys on the marble-topped table in the foyer. The only other item on the table, a porcelain doll, lay face up with its eyes closed. He righted the doll to sitting and as he moved it the eyes clicked open. The man smiled.
It’s been this way since 9/11. Too close to D.C., I guess; and, now, just as business is picking up again, the Beltway Sniper strikes. So, it’s mostly just the diehard Harlequin romance readers who come in these days. And the mallrats—when they run out of change for the arcade next door.