what are you actually saying

“I can sit by you,” I say.

“That’s it?”

“No. I suppose I could do any number of things as well as any number of other things for you, right now.”

“So?!”

“I don’t know. This seems best.”

“Really?!”

“Perhaps.”

“Disappointing.”

“You called me.”

“You are three days too late.”

“I didn’t say I wasn’t.”

“Then what are you actually saying?”

“I’m just doing my best, too.”

Overheard

Overheard, today, in a doctor’s waiting room.


A couple, probably in their late 80’s, check in. They are feeble and hunched over and very grey. They are given new patient forms.

The wife sits down, looks at the form, and yells at her husband who’s still ambling away from the counter. “Harold! What gender do you identify with today?”

“WHAT?!,” yells hard of hearing Harold.

“What gender pronoun do you want them to use? I’ll write it in all caps!”

“What? Oh, gender. Does it say ‘sex’?” Harold yells.

“No! If it did I’d just write ‘yes’.”

<I have lost it at this point. The intake nurses have lost it. The nurse about to call my name is just smiling and watching.>

Laughing. I tell her, “you made my day.”

“My mother taught me that. Anytime they ask about ‘sex,’ you write ‘yes.’ “

I wanted to share the wisdom.

so, I took a wrong turn

She has nothing to say during the day time.

Saving it for night time’s shade.

Knowing next time, she’ll sow these seeds into the desperate nightmares that will become your dreams.

Cowards in the cul de sacs of tax payer paved streets.

I wilt tread over these as much as I please. Let your puppy bark, your motion sensor lights trip. I am a stroller not a prowler.

And, as much as I am uninvited, you are not entitled.

You are a dead end at which I make my u-turn.

Subterranean seattle alien nonsense blues

Looking like an ever-loving swine in sunglasses. Peacocking. Tail feathers all a’fan. Such a pretty fellow, just ask him.

I over hear a man dropping something in the parking lot. Cursing loudly.

Ten minutes later, he yells out at a neighbor’s squawking parrot, “shut up, you fucking freak.” Pandemic conditions do not become him.

~

“I’m just saying,” she not only, but also, says, “I’ve watched a criminal amount of cute animal videos this week. Like, if I was on the stand and used it as an alibi, it would go like this:

“Like, see your honor, my tablet history clearly shows I was four hours into binging six hours of watching cute cat videos when this crime was perpetrated.”

“Let the record reflect the witness is not guilty of this crime, but will be charged with something because of the egregious waste of time and countless brain cells. While I cannot formally find her in contempt, let the record show, this court sure holds her in contempt.”

“Like, I would not get a new job if these records of time spent watching were included in background checks.”

~

I hear the old man in the overhead apartment, creaking support beams in his pacing above me, while aggressively complaining at his phone. “Who wants to play a game,” I think. “What’s the creepiest pet name you can imagine?”

There is a cat named Mister Daddy. I know because I was in the house when it was naughty as I heard its owner crying, “No, Mister Daddy! No. That’s a bad Mister Daddy.” And, you know what? Mister Daddy, being a cat and all, just looked at this sweet girl like, “Ahh. I don’t care. Get outta my face.”

“Sounds like a real soul-shattering experience.”

“I lost sleep for a week.”

solicitude to solitude (i)

And, though things were terrifically strange, she felt oddly disinclined to speak.

But, she realized that she might be interested in her thoughts on now, a few months from now.

And, she enjoys tapping out characters as much as an enthusiastic pianist paws out notes from hammer and strings.

And, all the talkers were just saying the same things.

Then, she felt narcissistic for thinking about enjoying remembering her previous thoughts.

So, she shakes her head and scribbles.

So, twist and howl. Nothing else to do.

And, she feels boorishly derivative yet, impeccably derived.

So, she began each preceding sentence with inanities such as

And; but; then; so

So(?)

And, she feels restless and pent up despite already being a bit of a metaphysically hermetic, solitary creature.

But, the public solicitude to solitude made her space feel imposed not chosen.

And, while the difference was arguæbly negligible, she found it curious how much the distinction perturbs her.

“Insert sentence g here?” Æ, speaking to myself, prompts.

“Okay, here goes,” I reply to Æ.

St. Valentine 2020 (part ii)

“A man fainted,” the diner at table 7 tells me.

I look around. The fellow I seated at table 1 is lying on the ground. Flat on his back.

It is Valentine’s Day before noon. There are balloons everywhere. A pink and red rose vased at every table.

We just finished breakfast service. They were one on the first lunch service tables.

I had just pulled the jar of freezer jam from their table.

~

I recognize that I am seeing a man in full cardiac arrest.

I fly to the back office and tell the owner.

She calls 911.

When I returned, over him,

a crowd of people stood and stared.

“If you aren’t a doctor or medical practitioner, sit down and give him space,” I yell.

“Nurse practitioners,” says a diner from table 12, motioning to herself and a companion.

He rips the man’s shirt open and begins CPR.

She asks me, “Do you have a <insert gibberish here> machine?”

“A what?”

“A <insert gibberish here> machine!?”

“A what?!”

“Shock paddles. Do you have an emergency defibrillator?!”

“No.”

“Go find one. Try the bank.”

~

And, yes. He already looked like a ghoul, when he entered.

Bloated and sweaty. Too pale.

Fat and very old.

Her companion withdraws from giving CPR and says, “it’s been one minute.”

His female companion resumes CPR immediately.

“Go!” he says to me.

St. Valentine 2020 (part i)

Thursday night, a fellow comes in for a gift certificate to the bistro.

He is from California, visiting.

Getting a gift for his local BampersandB host family.

He drinks an IPA at the bartop.

The bartender, he, and, I talk about a San Franciso hospital.

The one where the bartender had been born.

Where his parents had paid for a brick with his initials to be laid.

The hospital I could see while eating in the Embarcadero, when working in insurance.

The hospital this gentleman could see from his current home.

As he leaves, I happen to be at the entrance.

“I just had the best twenty minutes. Before coming here, I was at the marina by the shore of Puget Sound. Would it be okay if I show you my picture and poem I wrote?” he asks.

“Nothing would please me more.”

We sit on the bench in the entryway together.

The poem is pretty damn good. The first line includes “pilgrim places.” The picture is of the sunset.

The final word is Selah. It is Hebrew.

“It suggests forever; but, it also means like a rock or stop and listen,” he says.

“Like an exhalation or the interval and the rest in musical notion?”

“Yes! If I have a daughter, I will name her Selah,” he says .

“Spoken, it sounds lot like c’est la vie,” I add.

He smiles.

“Fist bump?” I offer my fist.

He makes a complimentary gesture and presses his knuckles to mine.

“Thanks for sharing.”

“Thanks for the first bump.”

His chest swells.

He smiles; then, breathes out.

~