Friday, May 29, 2015
“Your opinion is valuable, please wait for the next available operator.”
...Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah. Some call me the gangster of...
“Your opinion is valuable, please wait for the next available operator.”
...call me Maurice, ‘cause I speak of the pompitus of love...
“Thank you for waiting. My name is Maurice, how may I assist you?”
“Maurice? Really? I can’t believe it’s finally you.”
“I’m sorry, do I know you?”
“It’s me, Lovey-Dovey, your biggest fan since 1973.”
“That’s impossible, I’ve only worked here for six months.”
“Ah, you’re too modest.”
“Is there something I can help you with?”
“Yeah, what exactly is a pompitus of love?”
“I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about.”
“In the song, right before you start going on about my peaches.”
“Oh, don’t pretend you haven’t noticed them.”
“I apologize if I’ve given you the wrong impression about our services here at Hyper-Tech International.”
“You’re still doin’ me wrong.”
“I’m sorry, is this a hardware or software problem?”
“It depends how badly you want to shake my tree.”
“I do have other customers waiting.”
“Thank you for calling Hyper-Tech International. All our operators are currently helping other customers, but your opinion is valuable, please wait for the next available
...You're the cutest thing I ever did see...
Friday, May 22, 2015
is the process of searching for and locating
the lost, holding a twig
that dips and twitches as it points
to its mysterious pleasure.
And I’ll admit, I’ve tried.
Picked up a forked stick,
moved slowly about the yard,
but all I found was the root of a tree
where the stick probably came from.
I suspected if I kept it up
I’d find my own grave
so I threw the stick into the bushes
and went about my life in the usual way,
misplacing things and finding them again
when I wasn’t paying attention.
Friday, May 15, 2015
A young woman ran into the convenience store while I was buying coffee shouting,
“Help, someone has stolen my identity.” I put the cup down on the counter and turned
“There, there,” I said, “we’ll get to the bottom of this. What’s your name?”
“I don’t know,” she sobbed.
“It’s probably inside your purse.”
She appeared shocked, as if she hadn’t realized she was carrying a purse.
“You did enter the store with it.”
“I can’t remember if I carry a purse.”
“Well, the presence of one on your arm leads me to believe you do carry one.”
“Oh, I see. That’s good thinking.”
“Why don’t you hand the purse to me and I’ll look inside.”
So she passed the purse to me. I opened it and emptied its contents on to the counter.
“My my, by the looks of all the stuff in here, I’d definitely say you’re a woman.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I’m certain of it. So far, we know you are a woman who carries a purse. We’re getting somewhere.”
“Oh, I’m so excited, please go on.”
I found her wallet and examined her driver’s license.
“Do you know anyone named Heidi?”
“The name sounds familiar.”
I held the picture on the license up to her like a mirror.
“How about now?”
“Is it me?”
“Yes, Heidi, it’s you, a perfect match.”
“My name’s Heidi, and I’m a woman, and I carry a purse?”
“Exactly. And this BMW ignition key suggests you drive an expensive car like the one parked right out there beside the gas pump.”
She looked out the window toward the car.
“Is that my car?”
“If this key starts it, I’d say the chances are good.”
“Oh, you must be the smartest man in the world.”
She grabbed her purse, pushed everything on the counter back into it, and held the key up in the air like an Olympic torch.
“I have my entire life left to discover, I don’t know what I would have done without you!”
She kissed me on the cheek and rushed out of the store. The clerk behind the counter was smiling.
“I think she’ll be all right,” I told him.
“That’s nice. You gonna pay for her gas too?”
Friday, May 8, 2015
Slatted light leans against the barn;
the wood creaks.
Timbers and trusses warped to shape
its spine remember
a day when rain came
to soothe the heat away.
Dusk inhabits the loft,
odors rising out of the dust
while a herd of wary animals
gather at the periphery
like a rough breeze,
before taking the high ground so suddenly
they startle the trees.
Such an insistence of hooves
followed by nothing else
except the wind,
all of it under
the enormous weight of the sky.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Grandmother hid mothballs upstairs.
I first found them near the bottom
of a steamer trunk, like eggs in a nest
of yellow letters. Then I found more
at the back of dark drawers filled
with worn lace and linen. Strange orbs
glistening like eyes brimming with tears.
I didn’t know why she hid them.
Either they were precious jewels
or contraband. How could reticence
be so white, be pushed away so deeply.
Moths must feed on dust,
subsist on heat and light.
When we visited, my fear filled
the little room upstairs where we slept.
She lived below, her teeth left overnight
in a red glass beside the sink.
The tread, she said, was too steep.
At bedtime I climbed carefully
so the moths wouldn’t hear me coming,
feet where the boards wouldn’t squeak.
From bed I surveyed the kitchen below
through an open heating vent
set like a TV screen in the floor,
listening to women’s voices
late into the night.
I was the only man in the house
though at the time I didn’t know
what that meant, why
they expected more out of me.
When mother finally came to bed
I was sound asleep. She managed
those stairs so quietly I never heard
her coming. Her blankets twisted around her
like a cocoon, so she stayed invisible to me.
I asked Grandmother one morning
while I spooned my shredded wheat
if moths ate skin.
She said she didn’t think so,
then put her teeth in.
Friday, April 24, 2015
People say, after you’re dead
you don’t care about the details
that piled up while you were living
but I wonder how they know,
how anyone can be so certain
that worry turns off its light
and slams the door.
And I wonder if by saying
the dead don’t care
the living reveal how much
they do care but wish they didn’t.
What if after death all we do is care,
care that while alive we didn’t care
enough, that we spent our anxiety
on trivial news and gossip.
If the dead ever stop caring
then there’s no hope for the living.
Leave your house unlocked,
your dog unleashed,
your heart open to happenstance.
Friday, April 17, 2015
A man drove to the lumberyard to return a board. He had to stop at the gate to check in with the gatekeeper.
“The board in the back of the truck, I want to return it” the man said.
The gatekeeper sighed. He knew what kind of day it was going to be.
“Why do you want to return the board?” the gatekeeper asked.
“Do I need a reason?” the man replied.
The challenge hovered in the air between them.
“Well, yes,” the gatekeeper said, “At least I’d like to know if the board was somehow unsatisfactory, and if so, how it failed to meet whatever demands you place on your boards.”
“I’m not excited by this board anymore,” the man said.
“Were you excited by it when you left the lumberyard yesterday?” the gatekeeper inquired.
“Yes, very excited!” the man replied. “In fact, I was willing to pay twice the price
that I did pay for any board like the one in the back of my truck.”
Anyone who might have been close enough to overhear the conversation at the check-in gate would have heard the excitement in the customer’s voice. It was genuine. Clearly, he wasn’t lying about the excitement.
“Did something happen to the board between then and now?” the gatekeeper asked.
“I unloaded it” said the man, “and put it straight into the garage when I got home, but this morning it just wasn’t the same board.”
“Then what do you think happened to it?” the gatekeeper wanted to know.
“I don’t know.”
A brief pause filled the space between them.
The gatekeeper glanced down at his clipboard, not really looking for anything in particular, partly hoping when he looked back up the man would have driven away. He looked back up.
“Do you think a different board just like the one in the back of your truck will bring the excitement back?” the gatekeeper proposed.
“Alright, drive all the way to the end of the yard and park on the left. Somebody will be there to help you exchange the board.”
The man nodded and put his truck into gear. He drove away from the gate very slowly but halfway through the yard the gatekeeper thought he heard a burst of acceleration. It could have been the forklift starting up. Who knows.
It was a graveyard of lumber the gatekeeper had to deal with five days a week, and it had lost all of its excitement years ago.