“Les Hommes des Vertes Montagnes,” “Understanding Joanne,” and “Integration”
six silent, shaken years
as I traversed the borders
my father’s tuque
he gave me
one snowy day, leaving home
“Foreplay,” “Red Sneakers,” and “21 Questions for Minnie Mouse”
We tried to comb out the glued ponytail of the first Barbie
and dress Ken.
The basic Ken came with a bathing suit, but you could buy a sleeper set:
brown and beige striped pajamas.
“Views from the Cushion,” “Passive Aggressive Origin Story,” and “X-Ray Yoga Vision”
Doorway into adjoining room’s debris
boxes blankets pillows piled in childless crib
window fence smokeless chimney lifeless tree
its branches as bleak as a hopeless soul.
“It’s Time, You Say,” “Thirteen Eggs in His Pocket,” “The Morning After”
It’s time, you say,
it’s yours to make the call of when to stop
to feel the years
attack your joints and swell your knees until
you don’t agree
it’s fair to be in so much pain to move around
from bed to chair
“The Bluest Eye” and “The Blue Worker”
My bluest eye that is without the blue,
But the blue within to make up the two
Continues to reach its color by blue
Without any division from the two
“Do Animals Grieve Too?,” “Competition,” and “Rainy Day in New York”
The black swan fluffs
her dark wings, red beak
as surprising as the peacock’s
white plumes, gauzy half moon
wedding veil and the fact
that they both bore offspring
for the first time
The first time I stayed with Jack, I was in distress. A lover had unceremoniously turned me out of the house, and, as my parents were dead, I had nowhere to go.
‘Jack, may I stay with you?’
‘Are you in distress?’
Jack was a friend since childhood, when we lived two roads apart along the Harringay Ladder. We attended the same primary school before going to separate secondaries.
My father took me to boxing matches when I was a child. I was skinny, knobby kneed with a stern look on my face. We walked side by side on sidewalks with cracked uneven pavement until we reached a temporary ring set up at El Parque de la Soledad. A crowd of men would gather. Some greeted my father yelling, “Badilla!” or “Oscar!” They made wagers, slapped each other on the back and laughed from their stomachs.
Angela was smiling, not at anyone but to herself, a quiet, satisfied smile that reflected her increasingly relaxed mood. She would bend, grasp a jar, lift it, and place it on the shelf beside the similar jars, all in neat rows and patterns. It was satisfying work, bringing order, if not to chaos exactly, then at least to the ever-changing ebb and flow of randomness of the center store shelves of Barone’s Family Super Store...
I’m a trucker. My own boss is how it feels. Fending for myself. Have done it all my life. Sitting high up in my silver leather, long-haul cockpit of a seat, on top of the world. Surrounded by eighteen speakers, as many as I got wheels. Because I like things organized in a cosmic symmetry. Three thousand of my most-favored alt tracks in a bottomless, random shuffle, just loud enough for backdrop entertainment...
The night before he left for the last time, he gave the dollhouse to her.
It was late. Abby had settled into her bedcovers and turned her head to the window. Outside, the sky was dark from the clouds that covered up the moon and stars. She knew she would wake to fresh snow on the yard—not the first snow of the season, but with the cold, it could be the first big snow.
Long Short Story
It was the perfect day—until the fat neighbor ruined it. Emily had just returned from a thirteen-mile jog and was sitting in her rocking chair by the window, thinking about what she might—or might not—eat. She imagined placing a chicken breast on a bed of lettuce with cherry tomatoes and perhaps a slice of the avocado lying on the window sill, so perfectly ripe from the sun. Or, perhaps not. She could let the avocado shrivel and darken, turning to mush on the inside. I don’t need to eat it, she thought. Then the doorbell rang. Less than a minute later, again. Each time, cracking the silence like an egg.
It was the perfect day—until the fat neighbor ruined it.
Emily had just returned from a thirteen-mile jog and was sitting in her rocking chair by the window, thinking about what she might—or might not—eat. She imagined placing a chicken breast on a bed of lettuce with cherry tomatoes and perhaps a slice of the avocado lying on the window sill, so perfectly ripe from the sun. Or, perhaps not. She could let the avocado shrivel and darken, turning to mush on the inside. I don’t need to eat it, she thought.
Then the doorbell rang. Less than a minute later, again. Each time, cracking the silence like an egg.
Robinette Alcorn slept poorly at fourteen; her body did not seem designed for comfortable repose. When she lay on her side, her bony hips grew sore. The back of her head grew numb when she lay supine. Phantom itches sprang up on the backs of her thighs, the soles of her feet. She sweated or froze. Come morning, she left for school puffy and sullen, red creases in her face, her hair awry. Weekends, she slept until noon, waking ferocious and unrested.
The British Way of Dying
Friday afternoon. Although the wind was whipping viciously up Baldwin Street, the sky was an agreeable shade of blue, the colour of infinity, and as I walked home from work, I sensed the subtle change of mood in the city. For forty-eight hours everyone could forget about their crummy jobs and dull, shitty lives. The quotidian nightmare was about to go on hold.
Autobiography of the Bomb: Teller in His Own Mind
The magazines and newspapers were saying all kinds of provocative, beguiling things about the man. He was Prometheus who stole fire from the gods for the benefit of mankind. He was Aladdin who let the genie out of the bottle. To the naysayers, he was the Dr. Jekyll whose potion transformed us all into Mr. Hyde. The guy had press like nobody has ever had press. He was a warrior saint, a holy knight of the realm.
Pa Bliye Haiti
In the summer of 2010, my wife, Melissa, and I set off for Jacmel, Haiti, a port city of around 137,000 people that sits on the country’s Southern coast and about 40 kilometers from Port-au-Prince. It was seven months after an earthquake had made a desperate nation look apocalyptic and ravaged an already fragile infrastructure. Jacmel was damaged but serene in comparison to Port-au-Prince, where the streets were blocked by debris and traffic medians were filled with displaced residents sleeping in USAID tents.
The Strange Case of the Love Contract
It took everything in Justice Stephen Field’s power to restrain himself from laughing.
“In the City and County of San Francisco, State of California,” the document stated, “on the 25th day of August, A.D. 1880, I Sarah Althea Hill, of the City and County of San Francisco, State of California, age 27 years, do here in the presence of Almighty God, take Senator William Sharon, of the State of Nevada, to be my lawful and wedded husband, and do here acknowledge and declare myself to be the wife of Senator William Sharon of the State of Nevada.
The rush over, the news relayed, decisions pending, I peered over at the sack hanging on the side of the bed that held the blood leaking from my son’s kidney and felt helpless. I looked down at his body on the hospital bed, the size of a man now. As a teenager, he hadn’t really wanted me near him for a couple of years, but there lay his hand, so small to me now, though an adult size.