I haven’t seen you in years. You are a human I know, real and physical, but I haven’t seen you in years. And it’s funny? Because I saw your selfie in that Instagram post on March 14, 2021 about the springtime and reawakening and soiled masks appearing from beneath the snow humps. I saw that selfie and realized I’d forgotten about you — not on purpose, and not thankfully so. You were my friend over there! Overseas, over baklava and tea. I used to be so grateful for you, and now I’m grateful all over again since I remember…
I remember driving back from Wisconsin. We’d gone on a college visit to UW-Madison. The information session was bland, and the campus was far too hilly for my mom’s legs, which were constricted by a too-tight pair of jeans she insisted on wearing, but the proximity of campus to a lake was appreciable. After the visit we drove to the Dells and walked around, dallying in and out of t-shirt printing shops, moccasin stores, taffy stands. We ate dinner at Buffalo Phil’s, a kitschy establishment with a faux wood cabin exterior and food delivered on miniature trains. I wonder what…
The Beginning. The storm had flattened every power line in the district, from the bellies of its cities to the farthest extremities of its fields. It was the nastiest of storms, thronged with cumulus towering in the violet midnight like gas, thronged with rain like rubber bullets that popped craters into collecting puddles, thronged with lightning strong enough to kill a man.
XYZ was sprawled against the wall of his apartment bedroom. Like everyone else in the district his power was out, and he was terrified. He had his skinny arms splayed out, fists clenched, legs buckled, chest spread, heaving…
When a team of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorists attacked One and Two World Trade Centers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Americans were shaken. A great privilege of our nation’s standing in the world — developed, extended, wealthy — is the rarity of physical attacks on our soil. Before 9/11, we had not been directly attacked since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. That we still fill our TV stations with remembrance and documentaries about 9/11 every year is proof enough of its grave, exceptional place in our collective memory, and of our privilege.
In general, those who were…
The Bartender’s Handshake is a recent arrival in Des Moines, Iowa’s cocktail scene. Its name plays off a sacred ritual among bartenders in which one bartender pours a shot for a visiting bartender. This shot could be an ounce-and-a-half of straight Angostura bitters or Fernet-Branca, a play on a house amaro, or something more complex. The Bartender’s Handshake dedicates a section of their menu to these kinds of drinks, nestled among classic cocktails and new creations.
It’s my favorite bar in the city. Small and bustling, it’s often packed well after midnight with the laughs and hollers of good drinkers…
When I arrived at the coffee house, and was
the sun was just setting into the
leftover gray of the rain.
I was dipping almond biscotti in coffee, and
letting it sog a little before ending it —
my aching belly.
When I next looked up from my
selfish spread —
empty plate for biscotti, brainstorms —
the sun, and the gray, were gone.
Headlights lit up wet road,
the grit of city nighttime.
I was two or three ideas more than two hours before.
Composed at Smokey Row Coffee House in Des Moines, Iowa. 2.17.20.
The image is this: a bird on a sidewalk.
It’s the most beautiful bird, and no one has seen it because it exists only in my mind. It is small — the size of a crabapple, maybe. Its eyes burn white-hot like every good set of eyes in books and movies. They burn so hot that looking at them burns the looker’s eyes in turn and damages their heart in time.
It’s the most beautiful bird. Its feathers are a range of oil paints: reds like cranberry bogs, floral violets, blues like midnight in a desert. Its legs are like…
like the fill of pillows from a
like feathers from the
voids of expired stitches.
imprint their thin selves on
the splayed out maples, next to
left behind by
misunderstood wild things.
Hear my stump speech,
given from this stump.
See my carvings on the trees
distorted; we’ve all an expiration.
It’s always Time who
comes down from the branches and
jabs at our throats, who
sucks on our cough drops, then
spits them out at our feet.
Composed 12.30 and 12.31 of 2019.
The first day the sun did not rise, the world went on as normal. Muscles flexed their memory; lonely workers driving east in cars put down their visors or wore sunglasses, like usual. Meteorologists green-screened their morning reports, like usual. Routine — dull, absolute, safe normalcy — took over, like usual.
The second day the sun did not rise, a handful of people raised their eyebrows and began murmuring. With no sunlight cast upon them, their brows were soft and invisible. With no sunlight cast upon them, their murmuring stayed a whisper, and it held questions like Where is the…
“Welcome to English 140: Origami. If you are not supposed to be in here, or didn’t mean to be, let me know now before we start making crafts.”
Some of the students rustled out of a first-week-of-the-semester slouch. Many had their interest piqued at the mention of crafts. A young gentleman raised his hand.
“Yes?” I said, pointing to him. “Here by mistake?”
“No, no.” He shook his head. “I’m just wondering — are we actually making crafts?”
I smiled, then elaborated. “Yes — but first, I will tell you why.” I set a clipboard with attendance rosters and syllabus…