“…; and, that made me happy,” he said.
“And, that makes me cry,” she replied.
And, he smiled;
because he alone knew if it was from sadness or joy.
“…; and, that made me happy,” he said.
“And, that makes me cry,” she replied.
And, he smiled;
because he alone knew if it was from sadness or joy.
“Where the fuck have you been, mija?” Æ asks.
I say, “Listening and watching.”
“No. I’ve been doing, too. I’ve just not been talking.”
“Well, what have you to say?”
“I hear you. I see you. I love you. It is not okay what happened to George Floyd. It is terrifying and unthinkable. It is not okay to avoid things simply because you can and because they are uncomfortable to consider. It is not okay to only talk about it after something bad happens. There is a historical and systematic occurrence of the institutions existant in government that both subtly and not so subtly oppresses people of color. There does exist white privilege and it does not mean white people do not suffer. It means white people can pass in the system and get a pass easily.”
“How do you know?”
“I know little, but there are five incidents that I escaped completely untouched in Alabama specifically because I was a sweet, little white girl. I played that card on white cops, DEA agents, and state troopers. It worked like a literal, magical charm. I should have been arrested each time for committing a non-violent crime. I was never even taken into custody, merely let go immediately with an almost appreciative “you naughty minx, bad girl” grin of faux consternation.”
“So, I used to think it was because I was so effing smart. Now, I think it’s because they knew arresting me was a waste of time. Hard for a jury to convict. I could be the daughter of someone influential who would get me out of trouble immediately and potentially make a fuss at the enforcement officers. Because, that’s how it works in the Old Boy Network of The Deep South. They don’t see me as a threat. I look a lot like their daughters and sisters. I could be their sweet, little wifey. My power comes from looking powerless.”
“You’re boring me. Stop making it about you and your experiences.”
“That’s a tall order, but I can try.”
“It embarrasses you to try and talk about this doesn’t it? You’re terrified your precious ‘eloquence’ will betray you and reveal your ignorance, however well intentioned.”
“Yes. It is true. But, Killer Mike suggested looking into Jane Elliot. So, I did. And, I realized dialogue is more efficacious than silence and thus it is necessary. Being embarrassed is instructive. Also, I have the option of avoiding the scrutiny by being silent. Some people cannot avoid scrutiny when they leave their home or turn on their television. I have nothing to lose but vanity and I wish to be disabused of it.”
“You sound self-righteous.”
“I feel stupid as I stumble. I’ve purposefully been silent because of the fear of coming off as self-righteous.”
“So why open your mouth now?”
“Because, I can think of nothing else. Because, I feel powerless to actually affect change. Because, writing about anything else feels obsequious and inauthentic.”
“So what are you gonna do?”
“Well, I’m going to begin by talking about it as best I can.”
“Have you bothered to listen to the organizations people mention?”
“What about organizations local to you?”
“I have not looked into them.”
“Yeah, I should.”
“What of your country’s fearless leader?”
“Oh? President dufus? I think he is an unwell, insecure man living out his private fantasies of narcissistic grandeur at the expense of everything that the American Experiment aspired to be. I think he is an inflammatory liar and I’m acutely concerned he will manage to take the 2020 election despite and in spite of the popular vote again.”
“Say what you mean.”
“I think the affluent see this country and its people as little more than a commercial entity whose citizens exist to make them richer and more powerful.”
“Blahblahblah. Write up what you wrote the night the Minneapolis’ Third Precinct burned?”
“Why? It’s nothing more than stream of consciousness. The only audience was me.”
“Because, you need to remember that feeling.”
George Floyd (Perry)
Oscar Grant III
Tony Robinson Jr.
William Ford Jr.
James Byrd Jr.
Emantic Bradford Jr. (whose father was a police officer)
Aisha Harper, Dravon Ames, and their two, young daughters
“I can sit by you,” I say.
“No. I suppose I could do any number of things as well as any number of other things for you, right now.”
“I don’t know. This seems best.”
“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, 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.
Walking in, he says,
“What’s the cost of admission? For me and plus one. We won’t take up much space and can find our own place to sleep.”
“It’s hard to dream just anywhere,” the plus one adds.
“And, the statistics confirm that the data speaks, saying, ‘This is all but a dream.’ “
“Unmerrily, merrily, unmerrily. We are merely sleep walking through a mild nightmare,”
walking further in, she says.
“It helps to know.”
“It helps to say.”
“It helps to hear.”
“Æ loves you when you face your insecurities,” Æ reminds me, after I say what is uncomfortable but true.
“Æ, you are/is my insecurity,” I reiterate to my shadow.
I remind myself in dark remembrance of that which has passed/past.
The response of an ecstatic grin from my animus’ smile draws my snarl.
“Are you actively working against me?” I ask Æ.
“No, doll, I’m actively working you.”
Ænima versus Ænimus.
“Indifference becomes you,” I admit.
“Because everyone else you know cares too much.”
“Cares about what?”
“About you and how you iterate right now?”
“What do you care?”
“I care that you iterate yourself at all.”
“Then I wilt be as I am.”
“Then, Æ shalt become.”
She slid her skirt up to her thighs; and, she let the sun shine directly on her bare legs for the first time since the new year.
Her eyes closed; and, she imagined.
Heating legs of firm, chilled butter which begin melting into decomposition earthwards, below her.
Eventual food for earthworms.
She feels strands of her hair’s tresses pulling away and apart from her, flying from her crown like a dandelion’s spores into the languishing four corners of the world.
The grand finale of winter winds, amidst sun shine, finally blowing her asunder.
A cry heard.
Weather letting her dissolve into everything and await rebirth in the nearing spring.
She will poke her head back out like new-growth into the Great, Wide World, when the seasons shift themselves about her.
Until then, she silently hopes to abide in a makeshift, subterranean respite entombed in nitrogen rich dirt. Dwelling in darkness.
She comes to prefer when night comes at five and not ten o’clock.
The sun proves certain, missing absences exist within her which she already, too-well feels; so, she will enjoy the sun’s final days of not so brightly shining.
Yet, the Star teases her with its cameo appearance today, tickling her extremeties along with her forehead, cheeks, and, ears.
Its heat working in defiance of the howling chill blasting off the Sound.
“You remember me,” states the Sun, caressing. “You remember how I draw your perspiration. Draw forth those colors dormant inside of you.”
“Perhaps, I prefer the transparency that winter gifts my flesh more.”
“Kunst prosa, you love feeling me excite your melanocytes. The experience of pigment changing hue. The closest you’ll come to the plant’s ecstasy of photosynthesis,” the Star hypnotizes.
Hypnerotomachia renders me suddenly languid.
“I sense ice in your veins.”
“No shit. And, when your blood is frozen, winter cannot make you any colder.”
“Let me thaw you.”
“You will never thaw me; you will only make me sweat.”
“I will make you high.”
“But, then you will leave me dry.”
“Drink more water, should that be your concern.”
“Not until you make me,” she teases.
She takes off running down the lapping Sound’s shore.
Appearing joyous, but truly seeking to the shelter of shadows
Sensing her terror in the face of his brilliance, the Sun says, “I shall not hide today. I am faster. You will never out run my effulgence.”
“I know. But, I want you to make you prove it all over again.”
“Then, it shall help if you keep your skirt hiked up, please.”
The light stayed dusky; water gently splattered from the sky.
Tears of tedium; the guts of Humpty Dumpty, raining from the wall of the Earth’s atmospheric dome.
After she caught him sleeping, Alice felt his big fall shake the forest.
Portentous of the lion and the unicorn.
She grabs a pewter ewer filled with water.
ChAlice of ecstasy with which she seeds grails, making them holy.
She wonders if someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah.
The black kitten or perhaps the white one, or maybe that other sweet thing.
Alice shakes her head for no reason except to shake out the sing~song thought “someone’s in the kitchen, I know.”
The diners share a conversation.
“What are your thoughts on this?” he asks, turning to her.
She pours water into his glass, saying, “I think I do not have an opinion regarding the matter.”
“I adore fresh slates,” he says, pupils dilating in anticipation of diatribing.
“Sshhh. I adore not having to opine on inanities,” she replies.
“Strumming on the old banjo,” she thinks.
“What do you call yourself?” he asks.
“Your snake-charmer, making venom drip,” she says.
“Speaking of which, I had to disassemble two outlets to deal with a leak,” he responds to her omitted question.
“When you discovered the outlet wiring goes through the sink of your stomach?”
“Hum. Automatic articultion of your abstract mindscape needs practice. ”
“The sky is so blue.”
“I don’t know.”
“We shall look up the Word.
What would you want to know? Ask it.
Do you remember telling me of how you called forth the wrath of the Holy Roman Empire?
Okay. I was wondering if I made that up.
No. Æ did. Is that your question?
No. My question remains “May I ask additional questions?”
If I say “no.”?
I ask myself “Can I ask additional questions?”
We both know you have a metric fuck-tonne of questions at any given nanosecond.
Thus, of course, I can; so, if I may not, I’ll simply compel your response with my high quality kind of curiosity.
Take the day. Grease your lips. Tend your nails.
Past time of prettification?
A’yup. A’purposed this time.
Our conversations must seem odd to the outsiders.
That is why they listen.
They often see themselves as you.
Æ know. Æ am your subliminal signaling, your beloved shadowy unconscious. I’m your other half.
My sneaky roommate in this skin.
And, a strange heaviness settles into her heart.
Pulling a momentary black hole that causes her stomach to ache.
Surprised at your own impatience?
And, that restlessness is why we took today off.
The knob’s lock unsnaps. The deadbolt sounding in turn.
The Mæstro sat on the bench, aside the novice.
“We shall make a song. I will play middle C. Quarter notes. Choose any key and add a note.”
The neophyte pawed at G in the next octave up.
“Now add another.”
The beginner stutters in anticipation of selecting the proper note.
“Savor mystery momentarily, but do not consider. Do.”
A hammer strikes a string. An E resonates.
Now, scaling C in three octaves, the Mæstro’s eyes close.
The feral dog needed to be muzzled before he learned to accept a nuzzle.
His owner’s stride was clearly too wide for her legs.
But, she strode thusly, somehow appearing unhurried.
“How long should our walk run?” she asks him, cracking herself up.
The dog looks up, tongue hanging from mouth, happily.
“And, so it shall be, sweet pup,” she whispers.
An elderly couple stops her.
“Cute dog. May we pet him?”
“Of course. Scratch between his shoulders. Steer clear of his face and haunches,” she replies.
“Not used to strangers yet, huh?” says the old woman.
“You’ll be just fine,” her husband tells the anxious canine.
I run up and down Main Street. Trying to appear not too insane.
I rush the bank in calculated urgency.
“Do you have an emergency defibrillator machine?”
“An emergency defibrillator machine?!”
“Shock paddles. For someone having a heart attack?”
I keep looking shop to restuarant to bank.
The paramedics arrive.
I return to the bistro.
We throw tables and chairs to clear a path.
“We’ve been doing CPR for nine minutes continuously,” says one of the nurse practitioners to the paramedics.
I see the glow of his Bardo.
And, yes, by the time I returned, his face had grown green and empurpled with veins.
He looked dead.
The paramedics take out the prize of a pair of paddles.
Finally. The defibrillator has arrived.
Fashionably late to the luncheon party.
They shock his heart.
His exposed chest heaves. He starts breathing.
He exhales; and, from this rest his next interval proceeds.
The color returns to his cheeks, though he remains unconscious.
Lazarus. The corpse reanimated before our stunned, gaping eyes.
A woman presents a check presenter containing her tab and a credit card, under my downcast eyes.
“I need to pay for this,” she says.
I respond without thinking, muscle memory taking over in the face of surprise and confusion, “One moment.”
I look up and see the face of Lazarus’ wife looking into me with tea saucers for eyes.
“Oh. No ma’am. We will take care of this.”
“How kind,” she dreamily responds.
The paramedics remove him to the sojourn of their ambulance.
I lock the front door.
Talking to a pair of diners, the owner accidentally drops and breaks a piece of stemware.
The busser rushes over to make ammends.
I reconfigure the dining room slowly.
Until it appears as though nothing happened at all.
I walk to table 12 and tell the pair of practitioners, “Thank you.”
Turns out they are engaged to be married in September.
Trying to enjoy a simple Valentine’s lunch.
The ambulance encasing him remains parked outside for twenty minutes. This is a good thing, apparently.
The ambulance drives away.
The staff makes a collective exhalation.
I unlock the front door.
I say, “Happy Valentine’s Day. Welcome. Party for two?”
Wearing eyes like tea saucers.
Appearing disembodied and ghoulish.
“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,
“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 <insert gibberish here> machine!?”
“Shock paddles. Do you have an emergency defibrillator?!”
“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.
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.
“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.
I walk in the back door of the kitchen to the little bistro.
Announcing hellos to the line and the singing chef.
“What are we going to do today, Casey?” the chef asks me.
“Same thing we do everyday day, Hector. Try to take over the world,” I reply.
He resumes his singing in Spanish.
Ponchito sings harmony.
The Beach Preservation Busy Body Society is buzzing on coffee at 10:00 a.m.
“Thanks for asking, Judy. Not great, but I’ve switched to Metamucil,” says Jeanie, still recovering from hip surgery, amongst other things.
“Perseverance!” says Judy.
I start a fresh pot of decaf. I snatch up the urn of caffeinated, good stuff (Tony’s, Songbird blend).
I go around warming up people’s morning cup as a priest pouring sacrament.
Paul, an ex-New York state prosecutor, is holding court at table one. A two top right by the window.
“What the hell are you doing at this table?!” I tease.
He never eats at Table 1. He does breakfast at table 6 when playing chess and he does his business lunches at table 21. Both in the back, albeit opposite sides of the dining room. Table 21 is in the bar. Table six is not.
“Well, I figured if I sat up by the window, I’d attract people in for you,” he says.
I don’t recognize his companion, but after five months I know Paul well enough to say, “You are a pretty thing.” Turning to his companion, I say, “He is, right?”
The man squirms; Paul cracks up.
“He usually eats there or there,” I say motioning directly. “Fancies himself something of a local celebrity,” I add, walking off.
Coffees warmed, tables reset, and empty plates cleared, I perform my morning ablutions: sweeping the front mat in the entryway, cleaning the glass free of sticky smudges from syrupy fingers.
Showing the nearly hundred year old building extra love and attention.
It’s all in the details, innit?
Polished brass and dusted, wooden ledges.
I sweep the outside mat, leading directly off of Main Street.
“Hey, it’s the auctioneer,” one of a pair of joggers says.
The locals finally accept me.
The line to the bistro regularly overflows onto the high street.
I usually run a waiting list by ten a.m.
The best system I’ve uncovered is to yell from the sidewalk:
Table for so-and-so going once.
Table for so-and-so going twice.
Table for so-and-so SOLD to the next party.
It is a pragmatic thing.
For when that absentee party I called, invariably returns, angry that their table has been given away, I have multiple witnesses who will enjoy laughing and saying, “Oh, she tried to call you.”
The other jogger notes the unfilled dog bowl we leave out.
“You need to put water in that,” says Jogger two.
“Why? You feeling thirsty?,” I think, but do not say.
I slowly reset table four in order to better eavesdrop on table three’s conversation.
What writer doesn’t revel in moonlighting as a thief of the conversations of others?
“She never asked me not to leave,” he says.
“Didn’t you say anything?” she asks.
“No. It wasn’t my place.”
“Sunlight yesterday; dreary today,” he says.
I tease, “Oh, stop with the dismal diablerie, cad. It’s not gloomy. It’s simply a winter gloaming.”
“That’s not what I meant”, he says.
“Oh, I just thought you were awful fond of talking about the weather,” I panto, innocently.
” ‘Awfully’,” he mumbles.
“You are awfully fond of talking about weather?” I giggle, in mock with brown eyebrows arched.
“No. You meant to say ‘awfully fond’. Adverb not the adjective,” he says.
I howl in laughter, “Be careful telling me what I ‘meant to say’; because, you have no idea what I intend.”
There once was a boy.
And, there he was until he became.
He held himself still. Held fast and listened.
There did he discover he was himself
all over again.
She smiles, unobserved, from the corner.
The wrought iron chair scrapes patio stone, as I tuck into the table.
A thigh grazes mine, too innocuously.
Pressing its luck against me.
I look over to see averted eyes busily studying the hangnail of a left thumb.
“Rip it off or let it be,” I say.
Those eyes find mine.
I let my hair down. Disinterest feigned.
“Do you want to know what I’m thinking?” he asks me.
“No. If you wanted to tell me, you already would have. Besides, I already know.”
“What am I thinking?”
“You are thinking: I want her to ask me what I’m thinking.”
“Wishful and reductionist thinking.”
I seize the arms of my chair and rake my chair closer.
Outer thighs mashing in an intentional collision.
“Put your ear to my mouth. I want to whisper exactly what I am thinking,” I say.
An ear presents itself to my open lips; and hears,
out of my sweet mouth, sailor strings of profanity pouring piously.
The boy had tried to stone the crows, but they just caught the rocks with beaks.
“I shall train them to stone the child/wren back,” she thought.
“It would be instructive.”
But, then she remembered she had simply cribbed a line from someone and made a fantasy from it.
Anyways, the kids were in school right now.
Her crows were perched overhead, waiting for peanuts.
Oh, so you need prompting now?: Æ asks me.
And, promptly: I deadpan.
Someone is playing for Team Sensitive today: Æ smiles.
I grin: Fecking captain. And, the fact that you love me like this pisses me off.
Æ counters: You’re more entertaining than when in your mystæ provocateur state.
Dickhead: I think, stinging from the blow.
Every time with you: Æ thinks, reading my mind, laughing.
You know, I refilled the coffee on Mr. Book of Answers‘ table today. He said, ‘Thank you for your sensitivity.’ I was charmed.
Hold my hands so they become held(,) dear.
Silversmiths of alchemists gatekeeping access to backrooms of bazaars thick with smoke.
A misty haze formed by fast talk and subtle exchanges.
Quicksilver traded for the mercurial.
Where those who do not wear thier darkness on thier sleeves abscond to let thier absence of light shine.
A speak easy of sly shadow souls and sacred fools that is only found by not looking.
Defy the beast, release.
⊙ What are we doing tonight?
~ I don’t know. Laundry?
⊙ Dress up while doing it?
~ What, like it’s Sunday School?
⊙ Not exactly.
~ Who’s dressing up? Me? We?
~ Sigh. That’s what I assumed. Do I have to redo my makeup in this hypothetical?
⊙ No. You should wash off what is painted on now.
~ Wildling berserker is a favorite get-up of mine.
⊙ Because there is no get-up required.
⊙ The look does become you.
~ It overcomes me. But, what shall we do about your get-up?