Tuesday, August 09, 2011
¿Cuál es el número más alto?
Publicamos errores en tríos.
La espontánea, fragmentaria, el único. Dejado de escribir y el arte visual.
Por favor envíe sus propuestas inacabable a la dirección de correo electrónico anterior.
Esperamos sinceramente que son brillantes.
3 poems by Jackson Meazle
I CAN GET SATISFACTION
Plotless with car sounds
only three men a girl, one man
I resemble him through
And before discovery
a gear-shift impingement
the floor, real life (impossibly)
connects, contact without action.
And very few words.
MINE & YOURS
Mine is better than yours
and more symmetrical
to be loved in sharpened ways
or worse in waves.
finished, finding as archery
elsewhere forgetting simile, your
yanks cannot compare historically.
A tenor in timbre and tone
a nation uncompromising
of mine, yours in disbelief
or debtor’s denial.
the teeth in mine but a pining
pinball joyous & high scoring
instead of bric-a-brac sacrifices.
the drowned-out of mine & yours.
I love the little
books of yours.
They play fragile
and prolific a soft.
Tired living among
rusted and busted.
again a man and.
a mower blade.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
3 poems by Kristen Orser
EIGHT SPOONFULS OF LIME JUICE TO FORGET THIS CENTURY
Dear Biddy brown eyes,
I am drunk in the morning
and having many relations to pink and red—
From the ear, what changed?
A fork tuning in the window;
I thought I heard someone say something, but there wasn't anyone there.
Remember the roses in your garden
and how we left your garden behind?
Who feeds the chickens these days?
MOST FAMILIAR SOUND: A DISH IS BROKEN
Well enough, in the opposite direction,
the effect of consciousness,
which leaves me
pinned when I'm trying
All of this is a strange miracle: Can you
make sense of this: An evergreen browns.
I put words through a needle,
string together, and keep
them round my ankle—
this might be
why I'm always anxious.
I hear other countries
have sounds I've never heard. Why am I
here and not there?
Hatched. Dropped shadows in the sink:
At noon, there might be ghosts,
reopening paper cuts
to see where the heart intersects the larynx.
bee stings to the tongue—
Friday, January 05, 2007
3 poems by Heather Poyhonen
Open the infrequent
shutter on chaos
Hone its milk
Jazz kicks up
the dust the mire
fickle rose blanched
pink. Call it
heather and other
lifted up over
time. It’s pining
I’m after. Sit
on my lap.
Our pulses blink.
Be that close.
a dorsal fin
far from shore
arcs in its season.
Suddenly in view
swathing slow moons
knuckle the eye.
[I RAPID SINK MY LIMBS BICEP DEEP]
I rapid sink my limbs bicep deep into new water reaching for the honey of you It’s black inside and fathoms acute resign I Please fill me again Grow in my womb Adopt me Make me forever pink margin of you
How do I show you I can’t reach the holes Shatters of me stuck early my continuum I outlive you but I am still 14
I am been for 14 years Heart minnowed abysmal into the sea of me
My calves took over cramping bullets every time you vomited in the mint-green mixing bowl from your leather blue recliner Please don’t pick me Please someone come into the living room to pour out the puke They glare at me not moving pretending unseeing her retching I get hot all over and hold my breath Do they empty it in the toilet or in the sink Dad probably empties the bowl says
true about my worthlessness I am so full of holes
I can’t move anymore My right lung is collapse If I could grow new organs maybe we’d have a chance Fill me Raise me I think you could still be here when I get married give birth reach your age of death
And though it's always crowded you can still find some room
for broken hearted lovers to cry there in the gloom
and they're so lonely, oh they're so lonely,
they're so lonely they pray to die.
- Elvis Presley
Doors I knock against in my heart hotel. Apportion losses
shut loves in and visit when you can. Professional mourners say it’s the way to
The light’s always on in room 42.
A dove nest aflutter in green dangle of California redbud. I want to take you outside—red
blood count, cytoplast, engorged capillaries.
Walk with me
your high arches mark the sand.
My heart is an old shoe (in full swell)
with young ladies in it showing off dresses in the windows.
Pretty white Easter dress, ribbon cinched waist.
I woke up dress at the foot of my bed and
pastel chocolates. Loved
it so much I dressed
Earon as a girl. We would be
angels together and save you
every day until we couldn’t.
I wore the angel costume
four Halloweens in a row, silver
halo shivered its shine, I dyed
my hair orange to be a demon-
possessed nun, then dyed it green and called myself a tree.
(Mostly I want to follow you past the door.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
3 poems by Craig Lavin
FIRIN’ MY THIRTY-OUGHT SIX
AT THE NEAREST
I love it when
the President’s playing golf.
“Shouldn’t he be busy?
He is responsible for the nation after all!”
As if it’s the intelligent
opinion to have, but
I love it when the president
and the entire fucking Congress
plays golf because it means
he isn’t in the White House
and they aren’t in the Supreme Court
making any new laws.
I burnt myself a few days ago.
The kitchen cupboards turned to charcoal
like a tree hit by lightning
and my forearm is a gigantic water blister.
An oil fire.
Through a previous childhood accident
involving a gallon of gas in a can,
a match and the cement driveway
I considered my personal fire painting canvas,
I became intimately involved with
the medicinal benefits of
A gel to rub on burns.
It doesn’t allow the skin to breathe.
I go to the local drugstore,
wince and shuffle to the pharmacy counter
and ask where they keep the Sylvadine.
This obscene prick in a white lab coat
tells me I need a prescription.
I ask him, “Why,
don’t you have any?”
He says, “Yes,
but I can’t sell you Sylvadine
without a note from your physician.”
I swing the bloated blood balloon
attached at my elbow
and it lands on his little chrome bell.
It stings like being hit
by lightning all over
I ask him if he thinks
I’m fucking kidding.
Through sadistic shit eating
pearly whites he tells me,
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing
I can do!”
Something he, I
and any other creature
with half a grain of common sense
is complete bullshit.
I start hollering
and people look at me
like I’m crazy,
“Are people robbing grandmothers
to support hundred dollar a day
Is there a chronic epidemic of babies
born addicted to Sylvadine?
Four out of five junkies prefer
Sylvadine to coke and heroin!
You start small,
simply rubbing it on
and before you know it
you’re cooking it in a spoon
for the winking needle.”
I storm out of the store
and call a doctor friend of mine
(We went to med-school together.
I dropped out
and headed west
to become an actor.)
He tells me to see a doctor
and I tell him, NO.
Now that the days of
lollipops and balloons
with the exception of my
dentist who’s liberal
with the nitrous oxide,
I’m not going.
When he realizes I’m serious
about never setting foot
inside a doctor’s office
he finally tells me,
“Toothpaste works the same.
Serves the same function."
This time I go to the neighborhood
liquor store and start taking
all the tops off
the tubes of toothpaste
to make sure I won’t have to walk around
smelling of wintergreen, cool mint
or one of those other ridiculous scents
some toothpaste Nazi in a lab
believes the human mouth should smell like.
I bought some with baking soda
for $1.25 and some discount
tequila for $12.00.
I went back to my kitchen
rubbed the toothpaste on my inflamed forearm
and wrapped gauze around the wound.
I made a batch of margaritas
poured one and stuck
the pitcher in the freezer.
It worked fine.
Even if it didn’t work
there’s no way in hell you could get me
to see a doctor.
Like any other group
they’re inherently evil.
All groups are inherently fucking evil.
I love tennis,
it’s my passion,
but you couldn’t get me into a room full of tennis
players for five fucking minutes.
And I’m talking about a group
as passive as tennis players.
Doctors are worse.
Consider the facts that
1) They’re controlled by the government
The FDA who’d patent lettuce
and force you to get a script
for a Caesar salad
if it’d make them a fucking nickel.
Medical students are required to take
a course to learn how to
make a patient feel
inferior, so you or I won’t ask
for a drug whose manufacturer
didn’t pay for the Doctor’s family’s
all-inclusive Caribbean cruise
or attempt any other question
that might slow down
the office door
revolving with clients
whose pockets bulge with
Blue Cross charge cards
eager to be ran.
I know. I was Pre-Med.
I experienced first hand the training
those entrusted by the state
to keep society
healthy go through.
During one of my forums
with three hundred students
and one instructor at the helm,
(a seasoned physician
lecturing on bone spurs or halitosis),
a young man had the misfortune of
experiencing his first epileptic fit
with the good fortune
of being seated in the front row
enabling him to convulse
at the honorable doctor’s feet.
Surely, for assistance,
there could be no place a person’d rather be
in such a crisis.
But, instead of helping this eighteen year old
boy and getting a spoon
or sticking his fingers
in the poor kid’s mouth
so he wouldn’t bite his tongue off,
the honorable doctor immediately
gave the paroxysm his undivided attention,
changing the topic at hand to describe,
systematically, the stages
of this poor boy’s fit.
Seizing the opportunity to expound
on his benevolent wisdom
and unfurl his peacock feathers
with their all-seeing eyes.
Then came the lab animals,
who didn’t pay tuition.
I never went to Vietnam,
ironically, thanks to a doctor
I knew from my pre-med days
who, thank Buddha, Vishnu, and Christ
randomly happened to be on the other side
of the ominous curtain
when I went for my physical.
If it weren’t for him
I most definitely would have been
tiptoeing through a field with
blossoms of flying shrapnel.
Trying to convince the shrink
I was gay and crazy didn’t work.
By the time I got to him
he’d seen the act more times
then New York tourists
have seen Cats.
Even though, now, I realize,
though I didn’t then,
I wasn’t really acting.
What I’m getting at is
the dissection labs and…
I love cats. I’ve always loved cats.
Had cats I would kill for.
Scooter Pie. That’s my cat now.
A miniature replica of any of the larger species.
Tigers and leopards are big cats.
The way they act and move are exactly the same.
The way Scooter Pie crouches in tall grass
stalking an unaware bird
and catches this, unapproachable by human hands,
thing, with the ability to fly
or the way she deals with people.
She can’t be bothered.
I can sit and watch Scooter Pie for hours.
People are shit.
Cats are beautiful.
They’d bring caged cats in.
We had to operate on them.
You take any cat
and put it in a strange environment
it isn’t going to cooperate.
I had to pet the cats
and say nice kitty
and get them to trust me
Then, I had to stick a fucking mask
over its nose and mouth.
Cut it open,
perform a bypass,
remove its pancreas,
sew it up
and promptly throw it in a garbage bin
with a black and yellow
biohazard symbol on it.
It didn’t take me long to realize
the medical profession wasn’t for me.
So, I moved to LA
to become an actor.
And if this isn’t the most ridiculous fucking place.
The other night my neighbors from Argentina
were having a party.
About ten-thirty pm
helicopters start circling
with spotlights. The police
spill out of flashing
cars, bang on the door with truncheons
and force themselves in the house
treating people in their fifties and sixties
who’ve flown halfway across the world
I can hear
their confused screams
from my front porch stairs
where I’m stopped from
interfering by a woman with her hand
on a gun at her hip
who asks me to please go
back inside my house.
You never see that in other countries.
Neighbors either join in or they don’t.
They certainly don’t call the fucking cops
who have no idea what’s going on,
except that some prick
with a rusty lead pipe up his ass
decided to make a phone call
and get not only squad cars,
but helicopters to terrorize
decent middle-aged people
trying to enjoy themselves
during a family reunion.
But, of course, I’m sure there are laws
that clearly state,
“People are not allowed to do whatever
they want in their own fucking house.”
and support evil bastards that can’t
mind their own business who feel the need
to cause those
who might otherwise enjoy themselves,
So, when I hear people complain
that the President’s playing golf,
“shouldn’t he be busy working with Congress,”
I’ll offer to pay his green fees
so the White House can remain
Rimbaud and Verlaine look like
the Bradys next to us.
Their gun and knife wounds
are Alice’s cellophane wrapped brownies
on a plate
sitting on our grizzled kitchen counter.
And that’s the problem with you.
Wrapped in your prom dress
altered into a mermaid costume
Sucking your thumb in the closet
with pink fuzzy sweaters
and dirty socks
embroidered with colored balloons
for me to hunt out
at four in the morning
like an Easter egg.
You turn one evening into several holidays.
Seeing you now
with a black wig on,
a belligerent Cleopatra,
in my bar,
three pyramids from reality,
I realize Dr. Daddy spoon-feeding you
percocets, since that time
he broke your arm
when you were seven and old
and the forklift
that arrives at your medicine cabinet
twice a month
don’t seem to be helping.
Now, you’re misinterpreting
what I’m saying,
as a person,
I like you a lot cuz
you’re an odd girl.
And you’re ungirl like.
You say, “Fuck off.”
Did I thank you
for the roast beef sandwiches
with nuclear mustard,
and the bucket of Pepsi
with pebble ice
like fresh hail
when I was broke?
Even if you owed me
for all those steak dinners
you promptly vomited
in the restaurant toilet.
You could have ordered a Nicoise salad
and saved me a couple bucks.
I meant to
Can I walk you home?
LITTLE YELLOW POEM
Holding a bouquet of violets
beneath the leer of a fichus
in a white lobby
by a pay phone
that doesn’t take
Thursday, November 09, 2006
3 poems by Patrick Dunagan
Mystery at the Black Dahlia
It's a holiday all-nighter out at the club
General Pop won't have any gossip
his table turns out women like revolvers
spun slant & silly, no worries.
The dance floor is a mass of seizure,
moods have no faith, home is so lonely
these not tears bury another night out.
The women drink wine & gamble
a husband is worth a thousand looks
every brunette goes blonde, it's fiery
so much elastic goes to waste.
Hardly, these gals are working hard
staying late to make a match, drop
the man behind the mask, it's images
this club of worlds within words trusts.
You have to stay guarded, arms up
pulling your heart along behind the relations
built up only to be undercut. From these
passive acts go forth the songs of joy
a nothing loss love will never conquer.
The abuse of a pause has consequences
only distance lovers ever appreciate
failing to catch the requisite count
of fawned limbs and glowing eyes
soaked in the pleasure of first encounters.
Nobody's dead, or at least not quite.
Do they understand then the moment lips
match lips garbs the instant of existence?
I doubt it. They move in familiar circles
watching not to misstep or fall out
everybody's favorite play is to play along.
It's another of those nights without answer
fascinating & repelling as only human vices allow.
Loose-limbed & Ginger stroll across the galactic shore
all shimmers aside, let's give them some room.
A dozen notes blow through a back door
cat calls for mid-Western types hunched in gloom.
If ever there was a time to end these sessions
Bob deserves the right to have it rest here.
Without worry over serendipitous screenings
no one bothers others, others no longer care.
They'll tell you it takes timing to get everything right
not everybody's perfect but reasonably skilled attendants
understand too much runs while not enough loses the light.
On hat stands out of place umbrellas hang resilient
the mood's relaxed ballerinas prep jazz bunnies for the show.
Ominous familiarity appears out of fashion among the crowd
showering the pavement outside, wait blistering every brow
yet never is doubt voiced or gloom given out loud.
Natalie Portman is my crutch in this poem
of truths I've nothing to hide.
Every "I've never heard that name" line
like television background noise
another story of full circle success at a young age.
Competing with the movies is difficult
living with a woman in love with herself.
Committed to the words "I love flesh"
into the Real I fold up the screen
following her down the street
as the cars pass and the agony begins.
3 poems by Nathan Ladd
The time continuum began and ended
at the point a and point a (as indicated in the instruction manual).
The bachelor had had a terrible time with the bolts and allen wrench that
he shook from the plastic bag. His hands wouldn't stand still, and the little
metal things were so tiny.
The sky was leaning on his back, like it was trying to
juice him. And he sweated. But the air was cold. But it was heavy.
It was all terribly confusing. The side panels in
the illustration barely looked like the ones in the box.
What kind of idiots do they hire to write these things, anyway?
Finally. It sat on the back lawn. He screwed in the last neon light bulb.
He went inside to test it out. The convergence of electric and natural light
made him feel like he was in the womb, right before his next life.
What a relief. A fort to hide from the American Indian children
who were terrorizing the neighborhood with sharply whittled sticks.
He was safe after the street lights came on
and dinner lured the little bastards to their
A kid's hate should not be underrated.
juggles fish next
to the river. Viscera
unfurled on the moss,
Here, take this
and feel with it.
A feast is pending
on in the next
Violence is pent up in peaceful souls.
It makes skinny femurs
on the lawn. Of light
nating in self storage
Take this blood and be it.
Periodicals on microfiche. Check
Pardon our noise and dust. Check
No eating, drinking, smoking. Check
Green and white exit sign. Check
Byte to Calif. Mgmt. Rev. Check
Peeling globe. Check
Damaged graphic series. Check
Thursday, October 19, 2006
3 poems by Daniel Ari
(Note: a translytic poem interprets a foreign text on the basis of sound.)
The voice invents riches
The voice invents, “Ah!”
The voice invents change
and invents, “Oy!”
The voice invented Louisiana, and wishes
The voice invents love and invents loneliness.
The voice invents love and invents loneliness.
The voice invented the law
The voice invented God
The voice invents papayas and asthma
The voice invented Pez
The voice invented all things,
then other lives.
The voice invents a song of resignation.
The voice invents a God that’s sick of being here.
God is sick.
The voice invents grease
The voice invents, “Ah!”
The voice invents challenge
and invents, “Oy!”
The voice invented Louisiana, and wishes
The voice invents love and invents loneliness.
The voice invents love and invents loneliness.
Hey! Hey! Hey!
She says no.
Never tells me so.
My fizz dissipates.
Forget about it…
She says go this way.
My wishes dissolve.
My wishes disappear.
Hey! Hey! Hey!
She says no.
Never tells me so.
My fizz disintegrates.
Forget about it…
Hey! Hey! Hey!
And the hippie
Oh, colorful Victorian legend...
What can I do?
She’s pegged me.
Sold my sighs.
deaf to my cries...
Blah, blah, blah...
She says no.
Never tells me so.
My fizz desiccates.
Forget about it…
She says go this way.
My wishes destroyed.
My wishes discontinued.
Hey! Hey! Hey! (etc.)
"Complexo De Épico"
The entire complex of Brazil…
The entire composition of Brazil is complex.
The entire composition of the Brazilian complex comprises further ado
where who has the money and when,
dying, and preoccupied with falling,
how service serves service,
depends on serrated serviettes, severing themselves,
shredding confetti service,
Eddie the Yeti,
at the Department of City Sentience, said it,
said, “God was seriously sick when God made Brazil.”
Friday, October 13, 2006
3 poems by Kristine Ong Muslim
And I have seen their breasts already, seen them all:
Silicon-filled to grafted-tissue-filled;
The only difference is
How much they have been billed.
Do I dare
Make a sudden leap
And ask for a money-back guarantee?
I have measured out my life with degrees
Of plumpness, softness, and medical jargons
To make these starlets, these wrenches,
These future calendar girls
Be etherized upon my stainless-steel table.
In the lounge, my waiting clients presume
What shape their inflated breasts will assume.
In the chiller, the vegetables rise and shine,
Delectably swishing, "Be mine, be mine."
In the freezer,
The microwaveables, the chicken breasts and drumsticks
Are cropped with all the frozen marinades I must not
There will be time to throw the moldy casseroles
And leftovers away, time for all the indecisions
Before the Plagues will grow out of the them.
I have spilled the marmalade on the surface
Of a pie. I have tried to change my ways
And clean out my fridge. But the smears
Of butter snicker; the cake icing shimmers.
And in this moment of crisis, I must not fast.
Nestled amongst the polka-dotted underwear
Are my jeweled boxers and a lucky charm
That will keep my balls away from harm.
There will be time, there will be time
For indecisions, revelations, calculations
Before the unfolding of my closet-skeletons.
On the racks, my shoes are buffed black
Or I will definitely get my money back.
The row of Armani suits that cost a German car
The row of Armani suits that will take me far
As to lead girls to an overwhelming question:
"Do I dare stroke Prufrock's peach, pinch his cheek,
and will I still inherit the earth if I am meek?"
In the drawers, my socks are carefully aligned,
According to the visible spectrum frequencies, from
violet to red.
3 poems by Yvette Johnson
The Tiny Letter
early to confidence
hope is too shy
your eyes mine
novelty trapped in glass
Politely Hold Me Then
politely hold me then,
our bodies out all day
vague when you say “After you.”
Rationale can save lives though matters of chaos &
divinity depend on instability for theory
You heard it was further left
you start a hundred books
you can’t remember which believes you
wait : archaeology will belittle the place when we
someone to make it regrettably as relevant as their
Thursday, June 01, 2006
3 poems by Joseph Massey
brush of insects
bore a slit through.
Bee shadows slice
slats piled beside
the traffic's rasp:
a nail gun's echo.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
3 poems by Noah Falck
the fields hilly, the hilly fields,
fields of miscellaneous autoparts
where dad fell in love
where backgrounds became
the center of attention
later, drugs on dancefloors
with cardboard cutouts
with people in sleeping masks
dancing has always been
an emotional construction site,
a way to rebuild body language
and smell those close to you
without seeming too strange,
too drunk, shining with glee
Cities of Untamed Sound
after the folk song ends,
your memory ,
a series of silhouettes
the melody of light fizzling
under a neighbor's bird feeder,
a jet taunting the horizon.
It doesn't matter,
the moment a song dies
it's not finished inside.
It retreats to the part of the brain
where thick clouds reflect
static movements of sound,
But now, pizza begins with a song
on the jukebox breaking when it shouldn't.
Like a pepperoni olive patch on a plain sausage.
You are like a tobacco
stain of the teeth or a side order of breadsticks
gathering sweetness in the oven. How
the sunset remains the hue
of burnt crust dipped in garlic butter,
no one knows.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
3 poems by Dan Hoy
THERE'S ALWAYS AN AUDIENCE
By then his hair was falling out and I was fat for good.
"Roberto," I said, life being a series of accumulations.
"Monique," he said, loss being one more thing for the pile.
I have no idea who you are.
ON THE INSIDE OF THE OUTSIDE
Without you here I can't hear
what I sound like laughed at.
The bear ate the tent
because he wanted food.
A thousand taverns
all watching the water.
I'm not asking you to come.
3 translations by Maxine Chernoff
by Christian Morgenstern
Palmstrom stands at a pond
and unfolds a huge red handkerchief.
In the hankie is an acorn.
He displays it like a man holds a book.
Palmstrom doesn't dare blow his nose in it.
He is one of those strange fellows
Who often suddenly affect
That open reverence for beauty.
Tenderly he folds together
What he only now spread out.
No feeling person would condemn him
Because he walks away without blowing his nose.
by Christian Morgenstern
Although not made for it,
A hen struts into the train station wating room.
Here and there. . .
Where, where is the station-master?
Won't someone do something with the hen?
Let's hope so. Let's say openly
That our sympathy goes out to it,
Even in this place, where it upsets things.
by Karl Krolow
Moon reaped from morning.
the eyelids in blue scarves.
Beneath open shirts,
never so much sky.
Bird calls in every throat.
Time for the dead
at the window
to forget death.
3 poems by Daniel Nester
Out to the moon which is not there
she is fixed on the wrist
the window the tremulous astro
dead father’s inside fiction
stoner sun in my hand—
among the clearness stood up the cloth
the bearing—up to my friend—
a lunatic choice, the bark
diligent barroom—As we’re talking
let’s get personal with the horse’s mouths
cute, kinda little—Today, the ball
went there, a decent pass—and that’s
exactly the problem
Right Joke, Wrong Bar
My secret penis joke begins
with a story about my tree fort
and test tube collection, followed
by the one about my dead dog and
a poodle named Numb Chuck, both
as dangerous as a pair wielded,
but when detoothed they’re as smooth
as grapes with a penis running
secretly through then some more grapes
Modified From Original Version
Kenneth Burke looks like
Kane’s buddy in old guy
make-up. Both try to
manhandle stories with
mustached grins. Both
brilliant men around
them. An alarm will sound
any day now, I say
under my shooting. Who
says what will be
decided at that
I am, anxious inside time.
3 poems by Paul Hoover
heard in error
“the candy man klan”
wore gnat suits in summer
and also the finnish
can’t stop dancing cheek to cheek
frowns on their faces
arctic stations terns
thick and thwarted word
this I know for certain
if arrows were in rows
handsome planners gather wherever lights are on
terror in the hand when two are in the bush
an inward ceremony sleeble pleekly
cinematic people murky creatures soon achieve
events most recent
warrant not fondness
it’s on and off the local towers falling
cell phone traffic
in that rigorously formal way chatty’s in cathay
the word rump an otherworldly
butcher hope evening comes sluggard-
ly mugging always just
beyond we are granted love brain’s
blue water muons
Monday, December 05, 2005
3 poems by Amick Boone
We are in this outside not allowed
It takes from me to hide it but I would
Hide it cause it tidies words up in their suits
cause it’s all you think a person of this look can do
True, in a dress I’m really something
scapular like birds’ and narrow ribs
I let them touch me, try to make it good:
say the insides of me sound like poem too
But I’m not what writes it I’m the radio
I know I tried to swallow me and choked
I watch a mouthful of it
a really big and poet voice
The words he uses vacuum
take the room up with their noise
I make my throat into an o
so skinny till a sound gets caught
There’s matter in it won’t come out
the word, a little cougher
The talker thinks I’m nice
hear him better when I’m not so loud
Let him think it, let my self be told
Go find a microphone, and gulp it whole
Today there are not words:
sun, gigantic ocean
I’ll give em to the poem
(accident) don’t speak em
I say nothing to no one
The people round here ruin things
they make em run. Plus what’s image
got to do with gull –
Saturday, November 26, 2005
3 poems by Kevin Killian
Online guy, Neil Young
Canterbury Tales, rusty tabernacle
Marcel Proust, corrupt males
Kylie Minogue, I like ’em young
No real charm beneath Helena Bonham Carter
Michael Keaton the coke animal
Julia Roberts, bestial juror
A really sublime twit, wait, I’m really subtle, William Butler Yeats
Revenge is our way, Sigourney Weaver
Erotica villainess Alicia Silverstone
Andie McDowell, a wild old menace
No brains on a date, Antonio Banderas
FLOWERS AND MONEY
Flowers and money I give to you,
these I hand you, because it’s May.
We won’t be happy having our
way, not this way, not this the
way of the fool, though so often
simple folly makes me feel I’m the
“guest” on a game show; and you’re the
host. Tinny squeaky music plays as we
enter. “Well Alex,” I whisper, “I
was in love for a week but all that’s
over now.” Pretty to say so, thus
appropriate, I thought, for
Spring anyhow. My accent fell
like a cut flower, like a crinkled
dollar bill, from some giddy
height into the gutter, a
“trashy” place for something
lovely or greenish. What a way to
describe one’s own accent. I say
so who shouldn’t, I give you money
and flowers, because I’m so happy and
because I want to—buy your
friendship, I want to be pretty
and appropriate, I want to have fallen.
You know like on TV the host gives
the guest a gift. In real life
it’s like my mother always said,
“Don’t go into someone’s house with
For Jason Morris, because he wanted it
TWO SWEDISH PEOPLE
Accident—or murder? Where had two steady, faithful, elderly Swedish people vanished to? What had happened that they had said, or left, no word before going, or sent none? Questions, whether verbal or mental, that had no answers. That held us in a mounting uneasiness.
3 prose pieces by Dodie Bellamy
There’s this presence colonizing my psyche in that unbelievable construct, The Past: Mina Harker 1979, no eyeglasses or varicose veins, a firmer and pinker version let’s call her Minnie and no sense. As Minnie enters Cala Foods on Larkin Street the one with the giant space station awnings, the Jetsons zip past her in a shuttle, she imagine this and smirks. Stoned again. She does all her food shopping after midnight, in gray sweatpants and a ratty brown fur coat, knee length with rips in the shoulder that she stitched up in thick ridges like the autopsy scars on Oswald’s chest in the Life magazine photo, an image I’ve used before but can’t get enough of. The check out boy flirts with her, “I’ve seen you in here before.” In her purple Converse hi-tops she steps toward him, steps toward whatever blows by. It’s been this way ever since last Thanksgiving imagine the dried-up Autumn leaves of my Indiana consciousness shriveling on the ground, imagine a Looney Tune wind rearing up like a ghost, oval eye sockets with roving black dots, bulging white cheeks, a huge gust of bohemia it puffs—POOF—Indiana scatters to god knows where her first Thanksgiving in San Francisco, she breezes into a gay bar on Polk street with her old college pals Terry, Mikey and Ken, they played pinball and drank florescent blue cocktails. The self-basting turkey in Terry’s over basted itself. In 1994 I find a snapshot wedged in the back of a drawer, Terry Ken Mikey and me slouched around a decimated turkey, the color balance is off, too yellow, golden really, as if the camera itself were inebriated with the golden glow of youth. Click. Ken has drawn over our faces with colored pens transforming them into alien animals blue and red ballpoint scribbles, Mikey’s head swoops into a sharp crest-like steel plumage, beside him sits a fleshy twenty-six-year-old girl with straight blonde hair extending to the back of her bra if she were wearing a bra large tribal breasts from her center part the hair falls in a V on either side of her forehead like the fingers in a child’s game this is the church this is the steeple this is I me Mina—after fifteen years the first person seems so fraudulent, her memories strong and raw as espresso, mine weak as any extended metaphor the magenta anteater snout Ken has drawn over her mouth plunges into the glass of blush wine Minnie’s raising towards the camera. They were making jibes about high fiber bread, how Mikey ate it before he went out cruising. Mikey turned his still wiry frame towards Ken and scoffed, “Did you ever buttfuck with a clogged colon?” Terry pointed to a loaf tossed on top the refrigerator, a cheap squish brand with sawdust added, its long brown wrapper looked not unlike a turd, “I’m glad you didn’t use it in the turkey stuffing, none of us would be safe from your ravenous hole.” David Bowie in the background, more laughter. Mikey blushed and picked up an orange dish shaped like a carrot, “Seconds anyone?” We’d lived in the same tenement building in Bloomington, in varying combinations with one another. Ken moved to Pittsburgh in ’84; occasionally I wonder if Terry and Mikey are dead while man’s castration is genital, woman’s castration is depicted as a separation from part of her own self and/or separation from another woman, her sister Minnie lifts the wine glass to her lips, sips the sweetish pink wine. She’s wearing a tight navy turtleneck and rust-colored corduroy pants, the corduroy thinning to apricot at knees and ass. The pants pull up in the crotch a bit too high a tightness in her cunt not quite a burning a caustic dryness she shifts from side to side crosses and uncrosses her legs the elusive squishiness of the flesh, you’d think it would be more elastic, easier to push around, but her body will not budge will not reform, reduce belly hugging her hipbone like a big bear she wants to evaporate herself. Still she’s laughing, squealing and hooting even. What’s the story? The little bitch won’t fess up the facts it’s me Mina she’s laughing at, a future which terrifies and bores her, century’s end an evening without sex she considered a failure, I remember that much, so of course her life was fraught with failures, but not so many, considering this represents Mina’s desire for normality and proper womanhood three gay men and a turkey, not much chance for action there, does the holiday offer reprieve from her gnawing quest for other being to rub against, is she planning to hit the bars or stumble home to her mattress on the floor and the cat? Her glass of bush wine wavers in the silken air like a hologram that’s in trouble, she raises it to the camera pink specks trailing, sticks in her anteater snout take your protein pill and put your helmet on her third person image warps and cracks. I am no longer the omniscient narrator I used to think I was. The flavor of her life: food shopping after midnight in a ratty fur, gray sweatpants, faded maroon T-shirt filched from her sort-of boyfriend, the red-haired checkout guy who’s bagging her groceries says, “You look cute in those sweatpants and fur.” Redheads remind her of shitty diapers and welfare, of her zillion red-headed cousins guzzling moonshine in Kentucky. Yuck. Turn off. “I get off work in half an hour.” She breathes in his freckles and emerald eyes, smiles noncommittally. “Half an hour, huh?”
David and I were on our way to Palo Alto, more specifically to the Barbie Hall of Fame--camp, yes, but we were serious about it. Highway conversation, hurling through a landscape that seemed infinite we were practically sitting on top of one another--how could our subject matter be anything but intimate. Evil neighbors drove David's mother crazy--she swore they had microphones planted in the house, were spying on everything that went on--she pulled him into the bathroom and revealed this in a whisper, swore she heard herself amplified from the neighbor's house whenever she went out by the garage: they were cocaine dealers furious with her for turning down a pass made by their son. David would have loved this plot in a movie staring Stephanie Powers--he, unlike her family, would have believed her pleading brown eyes--but in this instance he was the family and his mother a middle class housewife with lithium in her medicine cabinet. I imagine her in a perfect white boufant protected by one of those invisible hair hets sprinkled with miniature rhinestones--but this did happen in Southern California--maybe she was one of those women of a certain age whose neck line plunges to meet her hot pink spandex pants, a housewife with a sense of adventure, the kind a young man on cocaine would go for. The neighbors did shine bright lights into his parents living room at night and once when he was visiting David's tires were mysteriously slashed: stress like a watercolor blurs the boundaries between what is out there and in here: after a while who can really tell where outrage ends and paranoia begins. After a long draining visit with his wife in the mental hospital, David's father took out the garbage and guess who's voice he heard coming from the neighbor's back room . . . . David's mother was vindicated, the house was sold, and she's doing much better in her new city. Sometimes Beverly's footsteops seem to follow me around the house, from room to room, down the long Kafkaesque hall--maybe my fears are right, that she has the gift of psychic sonar gone bad and instead of saving the planet she is using her power to torment me.
Coming from such a story no wonder David is on a pilgrimage to Barbie, with her cute little ensembles suitable for every possible situation a young girl could imagine herself to be in--anyone can tell what Barbie is doing or thinking at a glance--a doll that takes the notion of wearing your emotions on your shirtsleeve to new heights. Home is a place to wear your outfits and be happy, whether alone studying for nursing or stewardess school, or having a barbeque or wedding with your perfect neighbors Madge and Ken, the kind of people who keep their lawn mowed, their stereo down, and don't blab your personal business all over the page.
“Not tonight dear—I'm obsessing on the neighbors.” How we create violent fantasies about neighbors—calling up anonymous child abuse hotline and saying we were concerned neighbors and we saw the child walking in the backyard naked—hiding a key in your hand and walking by and scraping the paint off their Mercedes—sugar in the gas tank—potato in the exhaust—find their phone number and make obscene phone calls—answer sex ads in the paper and give their address—show on TV about survivalist store which sold books on harrassment.
HOMETOWN POLICE BEAT
• Youth problem. 12:37 a.m. Caller heard someone running along house, two flower pots found smashed on driveway.
• Traffic stop. 2:28 a.m. Ariel Hernandez, 21, arrested and charged with speeding, no seat belt, suspected drunken driving.
• Traffic stop. 2:46 a.m. Daniel Nathan Newlin, 21, arrested on warrant for conversion, warning for no license plated light.
• No license. 7:35 a.m. A 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with driving without a license.
• Domestic Battery. 8:10 a.m. Robert William, 38, was arrested for domestic battery.
• Criminal trespass. 10:45 a.m.
• Theft from vehicle. 11:00 a.m.
• Theft. 12:47 p.m., Public Library. Purse missing after caller left it hanging on a chair at table.
• Unauthorized control of vehicle. 1:01 p.m. Girl, 16, arrested and charged with probation violation.
• Theft. 1:38 p.m. $100 taken from pop machine.
• Battery. 2:45 p.m. Man, 18, sustained broken nose during attack by several men.
• Theft from vehicle. 2:58 p.m. Nextel cellular phone taken from console.
• Mischief. 3:22 p.m. Someone poured animal fat in parking lot next to an entry door.
• Youth problem. 5:08 p.m.
• Burglary. 5:30 p.m. Lawn mower and edger taken from garage.
• Theft. 6:28 p.m., Plaza Lanes. Men’s purple Huffy mountain bike taken from front.
• Youth problem. 7:27 p.m.
• Fraud. 8:53 p.m.
• Domestic disturbance. 9:52 p.m.
• Suspected drunken driving/felony. 11:30 p.m. Timothy A. Carlisle, 36, arrested and also charged with suspected drunken driving endangering a person.
• Theft. 11:53 p.m. Donald Lester DeYoung, 44, arrested; Robert Gene Stevens, 39, arrested.
• Youth problem. 12:02 a.m.
• Criminal recklessness. 12:10 a.m. Vehicle damaged by gunfire.
• Traffic stop. 12:18 a.m. Faron L. Smith, 27, charged with driving while suspended, expired license plate, warning for speeding.
• Fight. 3:06 a.m. Verbal with six males, left in a loud vehicle just before officers arrived.
• Mischief. 4:51 a.m., Tire Barn. One window shattered, three others cracked with BB gun. Estimated loss $2,000.
• Domestic disturbance. 7:33 a.m.
• No license. 8:44 a.m. William Thompson, 34, was arrested and charged with driving without a license.
• Dog bite. 8:44 a.m. Meter reader bit on his right calf by black male Dachshund.
• Theft. 9:25 a.m. Concrete Buddha ornament taken from front lawn.
• Pointing a firearm. 12:30 p.m. Woman threatened with gun. Shot discharged.
• Disturbance. 1:05 p.m.
• Traffic stop. 1:27 p.m. Aisaha Rogers, 26, charged with driving without insurance, warning for expired plate.
• Domestic disturbance. 5:19 p.m.
• Criminal trespess. 6:19 p.m.
• Mischief to vehicle. 6:23 p.m. Rear window shattered. Estimated loss $350.
• Youth problem. 7:02 p.m.
• Disturbance. 8:00 p.m.
• Accident. 9:36 p.m. Dominique A. Foster, 18, charged with failure to yield.
• No license. 11:44 p.m. Ryan Reeder, 23, was arrested and charged with driving with a prior conviction for driving on a suspended drivers license.
• Traffic stop. 12:47 a.m. Bruce L. Hemminger, 27, arrested and charged with driving while suspended-misdemeanor/prior.
• Disturbance. 1:20 a.m.
• Domestic disturbance. 1:37 a.m.
• Traffic stop. 2:22 a.m. Houmpheng A. Siriphong, 35, arrested and charged with speeding, driving while suspended/prior.
• Mischief. 8:04 a.m. Possible gang graffiti spray-painted on several garages, NIPSCO towers, park bench, bike trail.
• Domestic disturbance. 11:28 a.m.
• Shoplifting alleged. 12:03 p.m. Barbara J. Ford, 51, arrested; Marsha D. Ford, 30, arrested. Both charged with probable cause theft, taken to jail.
• Accident. 12:23 p.m. Sean Gaines, 33, charged with disregarding traffic control device.
• Accident. 12:30 p.m. Delphine L. Lebryk, 71, charged with failure to yield right of way.
• Mischief. 323 p.m. Garage spray-painted on two sides.
• Youth problem. 3:51 p.m.
• Theft. 4:20 p.m. Bicycle taken.
• Traffic stop. 5:08 p.m. Rene Martinez, 23, charged with driving while suspended.
• Youth problem. 5:14 p.m.
• Theft. 7:18 p.m., Ultra Foods. Tall man with full beard left in silver Ford Taurus with child shopping cart. Estimated loss, $200.
• Theft from building. 12:18 a.m.
• Disturbance. 12:25 a.m. Man, 26, made threats to caller’s female guest.
• Suspected drunken driving alleged. 2:00 a.m. Brandon R. Elam, 23, arrested and also charged with driving while suspended-misdemeanor/prior.
• Disturbance. 2:35 a.m. Caller said 30-year-old wife came home drunk, began throwing things; she claims he has gambling problem and the items were thrown by him.
• Criminal mischief. 6:38 a.m.
• Assist outside agency. 12:54 p.m. Kerri Ann Loveless, 40, arrested on warrant.
• Theft. 12:56 p.m. From coin machine.
• Traffic stop. 4:28 p.m. Melissa A. Malloy, 28, charged with no seat belt, child restraint violation, driving while suspended.
• Youth problem. 4:30 p.m.
• Suspected drunken driving alleged. 8:43 p.m. David Deon Allen, 33, arresed and also charged with endangering a person, reckless driving, speed contest, habitual traffic violator; Michael R. Walkowiak, 18, arrested and charged with speed contest.
• Traffic stop. 9:38 p.m. Gulf Gervonte Martin III, arrested and charged with driving while suspended-misdemeanor/prior.
• Burglary. 10:58 p.m.
3 poems by Malia Jackson
A RADICAL NEW KIND OF SPACE THAT HAD HITHERTO
SEEMED ABHORRENT AND IMPOSSIBLE
THE MYSTERY SPOT
If you tilt your head slightly maybe the illusion will disappear. If you stand on your head maybe it'll be a new one altogether. A large ball of magma already spins under your feet. Frilly, like marine invertebrates. We should call in all the physicists, the psychologists too. Just a trick of angles, they'll all say. With a constant increase, the surface starts to crenellate. The ends of baby lettuce leaves. The pendula they can explain away, but the carpenter's levels are baffling. The billiard ball is neither weighted nor magnetized, but I can't say the same for myself. Attune to the seismic vibrations. Feel the angles with your feet. This world of rectilinearity is a creation; these freeways we cruise speak to us in straight lines. A subtle and surprisingly fecund concept: a constant negative curvature.
Trying to reinsert a sheet of paper lifted from in between two cheek-to-cheek bowling balls. Then the noonwhistle. Then back to my swivel chair. I think of the alignment of the planets. How much harder does an obstetrician have to pull? Does a birth disrupt the tides?
The chair is moved suddenly. Ass meets parquet, but certainly not for the first time. Old acquantainces, those two. From back in the day, when legs and cochlea hadn’t yet learned how to waltz. As the sheet of paper is confettied by the shredder, I think of the unobservable twist in a long metal rod. I think of the collision of galaxies.
Galaxies can collide, but it’s not as calamitous as all that. On average two stars intersect. Then a lone spangle glints on a beaded skirt. Swish, not bang. Mostly just a foxtrot.
THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN UNTANGLE THIS STRING
• A doughnut is not a doughnut. It is the glaze on the doughnut. A doughnut is also not a bagel. Bagels have no glaze.
• A bundt cake is really just the pan. The pan can be extended arbitrarily. Infinitely deep cake.
• Pants are pants.
• Saddles, too, are what one expects. Think Pringles®.
Just before the first time I ever did math, you told me pants contained saddles. I then said, of course, because when you wear pants you can sit in a saddle. This was noteworthy.
Friday, November 25, 2005
3 poems by Chad Sweeney
Since yer a man and I’m a man
I can tell you straight:
the sun has hung its fences
and history today; the tower’s
lapidary anchor toils in the sand;
a terrible frog is threatening Easter.
I stake my defense in the casual
predicate of the fire hydrant.
Prophecy in the morning traffic:
a bottle exerts its gravity
towards a nearby weedlet.
Spiders listen for language
in the trembling of the pipes.
I stand as vertical as I can
and turn in tight circles.
It’s what I’m good at.
I listen to my heart beat
on the radio. 89.6 AM.
A prolapse then a whimper.
It’s fear and something else,
like black milk,
like static from a sermon.
My house arrives
through the internet,
its corners landing everywhere.
To be a red night
watched carefully by Bedouins.
To be a comma
between two really important
A man in a parking lot
has a feeling of dread.
In the memory of that day
I can’t keep the wind in its box.
My lover shouted, “Help!”
and “Do it harder” and “Nap-
olean!” then blamed me when the
neighbors pounded on the wall.
I was half-asleep, where I spend
most of my time. The storms
had blown out the candles.
We decided to drag the bed
back inside the house,
and make a fort with pillows.
Wind stirred the surface of the mirror.
In the deep glass, for several seconds
I saw her as an old woman.
I was spooning soup into her mouth.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
3 poems by Jim Maughn
Not that miracles are unfit for conversations
You know, as above, so blow
Below the body, that one, measured by the water
A beeline to the honeybucket truck
Peel away the rind, and what’s below
gets mistaken for inference, suggestive of sexuality.
Plenty is a nice way to put it, it goes
subdermally, swollen like a lymph node
anemic, or did I mean amneotic?
The scaffolding is what you’re wheeled onto
while they build the hospital around.
ONLY NATURAL ENEMY
Sense of being behind walls
and still gripping the lever.
We haven’t left the scene yet..
Pavement gets no thinner
between here and the city limits.
Outskirts already scavenged.
Holes fill with shoes
and slaves come to fill their pots
with designer watches.
P I E
ring in a hole
a whole new
angle on our
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
3 poems by Quake J. Cox
This is where music
right between the left
and right bleachers
on top of the crow
that doesn’t know he’s there
I write because I am awake and moss
green, and it’s raining outside--
minivans and orange sweatshirts
a green-eyed cat that
wants me as a master
or maybe a give-take relationship
gone now or is that the
mini-van, no it’s the cat
I guess, I should
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
3 poems by Jordan Stempleman
the casual work before leaving for continuing work
is to hand over two broken pencils
for each of her hands
two in one hand
and she says
letters are more than words
her kind of letters
so not really said to anyone else
with sitting comes how far to sink
reaching up again
to match the needed height
where by all sides there becomes
the one person
the start of something pushed
though for the sake of explaining a newish dance
plenty may clear and call it
what you would call it
there will be a right number
one to sing through
as if to sit up and forget the singing
was the thing
that flew out and quit being frightened
Monday, November 21, 2005
3 prose pieces by Jenny Pritchett
I am seeing breasts everywhere: the streetlight, my shadow on the wall, the gibbous moon, nipples on the ends of my pens, my knuckles. I call my mother, and she says she is feeling lost, misplaced, has in fact been leaving scarves and gloves and hats on the El and in her car and in restaurants and other places she doesn't even know where.
"It's like I'm afraid of being forgotten," she says. "I wonder who these lucky people are who are finding all my stuff. That scarf cost me $40." I suckle the receiver, her voice a pulse in my ear.
The store is called Dunwoody's Goodies, and it's a seasonal storefront on the main strip in Lafayette, California. At Christmastime, the windows are frosted at the corners with "snow" from an aerosol can, although it has never snowed here and most likely never will. The store is one large room divided by a row of tall, bushy spruce trees, which are crammed with display models of Christmas ornaments, each of which has a small numbered sticker on its bottom. When a customer finds a wooden Santa ball or a tin hand-painted crucifix that speaks to her particular sense of the holiday, she takes it to the woman behind the counter, who has a sleigh bell on a cord around her neck. The woman comes out from behind the counter, exclaiming about the perfection of the choice and telling the customer she chose the same ornament for her daughter-in-law this year, that they have a tradition of exchanging ornaments—well, she (with one hand pressed to her heart) started the tradition and has kept it up since her granddaughter was born, although her daughter-in-law hasn't actually given her an ornament since 1999. Then the woman holds the ornament at arm's length, seeing how now it represents the neglect and thoughtlessness of daughters-in-law too busy to keep up family traditions, and without another word finds the stack of small, square boxes holding that particular ornament and hands one to the customer with a tight, disapproving smile.
Then, if the ornament is a gift, the customer follows the sign at the back of store with an arrow pointing down a hidden staircase, and at the bottom she takes a number from Jason Henderson. Jason takes the box into the closed gift-wrapping room, glancing at himself in the two-way mirror, at the collared shirt and tie he told himself he'd never wear after film school, and watches as Carlos works hurriedly through an ever-growing stack of small, square boxes, tearing sheets of red-and-white paper from the ream bolted to the table.
The customers in the gift-wrapping line don't realize Jason and Carlos can hear them. They come into the store with their annual tendencies toward goodwill and start out promising themselves to be patient. It is the Christmas rush, after all, and they are expecting long lines at every store. But when they see there's a line at the gift-wrapping, and they see Jason, the host of the gift-wrapping, neutralized by his uniform and divorced from his accomplishments (a college education and three short films), they decide to demonstrate their goodwill by striking up a conversation with the other women waiting in line, which goes something like this:
"How can it possibly take ten minutes to wrap a box? The box is this big."
"You've been waiting ten minutes?"
"How hard can it be? If I'd known it was going to take this long, I would have done it myself."
When Jason gets off his shift, he sees their Mercedes SUVs parked on the street and thinks they look like a corral of shiny, black vultures.
They hadn't let him out of the house since it happened. Ray quietly showered in the mornings and dressed in the clothes Maggie fetched from his house. Dan had set up the back room with the pull-out couch and a TV on the sewing table, and Maggie poked her head in twice a day to ask what he'd like to eat. All of them traipsed through on their way in and out of the house, Ben and Sarah reaching for him before Dan pulled them back by their tiny wrists. They couldn't use the front door. The reporters were out there, big white vans with satellite towers staking him out like the FBI, TV anchors from competing stations bending their ankles in the grass as they chatted over iced coffees. Maggie wanted to get her mother over to see Ray, but Dan didn't think she could handle the front yard.
Ray had simply lost control of the car, stepped on one pedal when the other was called for. He'd been near the farmer's market and something had caught his eye—a bucket of lavender; he'd thought Norma might like a sprig for the bathroom—and by the time he'd looked up again he was heading into a red light at full speed and jerked the wheel to the right and slammed his foot on the gas.
The descriptions in the paper were something out of a horror movie: the body of a man, his first victim, strewn across his windshield until he'd managed to stop; three women in the same family knocked into the concrete, heads flattened into a pool of blood; a child, not yet three, ripped from the hand of her father and caught in his wheel well; more than fifty people dispatched to area hospitals with lacerations and broken bones. He himself had experienced nothing more than a long, green bruise where the seat belt jerked against his breastbone.
In the back room of his daughter's house, he kept the front page of the LA Times folded on his knees, creased three ways, reading and rereading the small black letters. Worst of all was his own picture, his tall, slightly stooped figure, calm visage, round spectacles, balding dome and neat moustache, leaning on his cane and chatting with a young man he remembered as Officer Yountman. The man had been earnest and seemingly at a loss as to how he should apprehend such a contrite and present perpetrator. He had pulled a pocket-size notebook from his shirtfront and leveled the heel of a pencil in Ray's face.
"What did you see?" he had demanded, as if Ray were only a bystander. Ray had gestured to the airbag in the car, a white buoy that eclipsed the driver's side of the Mercedes.
"I'm so sorry," Ray remembered saying, "but I didn't see a thing."
The officer, having no idea what to do with him, had let him leave in a taxi with Maggie and Dan. Only one man from the crowd, bereft and with brown discs of blood matting his beard, had lunged in their direction, and to Ray's surprise it was Officer Yountman who restrained him. Ray hadn't expected to make an ally of anyone here, given the circumstances.
Maggie had sat in the back of the cab with him, squeezing his hand, tears streaming down her face, until she realized he was not upset but only utterly confused. He had felt them against his car, a series of thuds and thumps, and he'd rolled over a number of them as well, even dragged one woman under his front tires until he came to a stop next to the baked goods. She'd had to have the car lifted off her and her skin peeled from the street. But he hadn't seen a thing, his face buried in the airbag, and more than that he'd barely heard anything—he'd been listening to "Fanfare for the Common Man" with the volume cranked, and when he'd finally been able to feel for the door handle and push himself outside, the flourishes of the French horns had filled the air, and the crowd had gaped at him as he gaped at them, wondering how he'd ended up so far from the road. It had taken him a moment to notice the dead man on the hood of his car. Angel of Death, the paper called him, running a picture of his avuncular face next to one of yellow police streamers blocking a blue tarp on the street, a toppled high-top sneaker inches away. Elderly man plows into crowded marketplace at height of lunch hour.
Maggie and Dan issued a statement apologizing to the families that same afternoon. Later that evening, Maggie snuck out the back door and took the bus across town to see her mother, thinking Norma might want to stay with Ray in her back room. But her mother held the same page of the LA Times on her lap in the living room, covering her mouth with one hand and shaking the ice cubes in a highball glass in the other.
"Are they talking about the same person here?" she shrilled. "Is this my husband?" She had stabbed the picture of Ray with one of the fingers balancing her cigarette.
Norma decided to stay home, and Ray took the news worse than Maggie expected, breaking down for the first time that day in ugly, choked sobs and gripping his forehead. Dan herded the kids into the living room so Maggie could sit next to her father on the thin, bowled mattress and cry into his neck. She was terrified that at any moment the knock would come at her door, a handful of papers shoved in her face (although she didn't really know how these things worked), indicating a lawsuit on behalf of the survivors or of the families of the deceased or of the State of California. She knew it would come; it had to come. Her father had killed nine people. She didn't believe in the forgiveness of strangers.