A boy, teenaged, with the broad shoulders and neck of a man much older and of a much older time (a blacksmith maybe, or maybe a woodsman), with eyes now beginning to sting from the day’s thick wet heat not yet dying, with his backpack strap wrapped around one heavy hand, walked alone up a crooked gravel road bordered by gently animate walls of green that reached their fingers out onto the road, and towards the boy, and towards the sky. A school bus had dropped the boy off at the head of this road and driven away, and when it did no one inside had looked back.Read more.
I had waited a long time at the door before the nanny came. She looked distracted as she led me to the study on the second floor, where the girl sat waiting. It was summer and I was glad to be in.
“You are my teacher,” the girl announced as soon as she saw me. She wore a yellow dress and could not be more than ten. I sat down next to her. On the desk was an impressive array of textbooks and stationary.
“Hello. What’s your name?”
“My name is Crystal,” she said in English.
“You can call me Mr. Li.”
Madison / fall 2016
Out from under the cover of city-noise, Marjorie heard a strange voice call her name, then whistle slowly. Three mocking syllables: a long dactyl of whistled sound, a seductive musical slide.
Third time tonight: it brought her to an abrupt halt, and standing astride her Trek racer, she scanned the Saturday night crowd that set the sidewalk in waves of motion. For the moment she ignored the stream of traffic to her left, the stroke of oncoming headlights fixing her in the lightly falling chill mist. Her eyes roved over the sea of faces, laughing, celebratory despite the weather—and she, shivering unaccountably, why this foolishness?
You can play with growing up without growing up. You can play with love without loving. You can play with skipping rope without skipping.
In particular, playing Snakey is good for the kids who have no sense of rhythm or coordination. The ones who can’t walk down the street with a friend without bumping hips every ten feet; the ones that need their seatbelt buckled up for them ‘til they’re twelve. Good for them to face jumping over one single thing, or to be the one in charge.Read more.
As John waited for the doctor, he studied Mandy’s Tinder profile, preparing for their date that afternoon. She was definitely his type, with sandy blond hair and grey-blue eyes. She, like most women on Tinder, enjoyed “yoga, wine and walks on the beach.” Through their text messages, he learned that she was an administrative assistant pursuing a nursing degree. Would she be the type who would pretend to be cool and then suddenly explode as he slowly lost interest, or would she be the sensitive, clingy type who wanted commitment after meeting for coffee?Read more.
That rotating fan’s like a blind old man shaking his head no, no, no. No what? No, don’t look? No, I’ve no clue when they’ll replace the window unit in my room? They promise, then nothing. The sheets are sticky with sweat, so I stay still and try not to notice. I’d feel better if I got dressed, you say? What for? Where am I going? This bleached-out cotton thing is to keep them from having to look at my body, to keep me from seeing them looking. I’d go naked if they’d let me. What do I care?Read more.
Two years ago, I fell. From a ladder. From the sky. From grace. Caroline and I were going to run away, so I was sneaking into her bedroom and trying to overcome my fear of heights all at the same damn time. I was nineteen and she was sixteen, and now I’m a sex offender trying to find an apartment so I can have an address so I can get a job. While I was locked up my mom sold the double-wide and left town with her boyfriend, so staying with my brother and his family was my only option for a while.Read more.
Because Orpheus knew his name,
he did not want to be born. He clutched his fingers to his toes and refused to move, even as his mother screamed and the doctor pleaded. So they had to cut him out with a long slice across his mother’s hips.Read more.
Kira Spader finished scrubbing every inch of the house she shared with Seth Greven. She heard the oven timer beep: the mini-quiches were ready. Kira hurried into the kitchen and took them out of the oven, their smell permeating the air around her. She needed to cook the tray of mini-sausage rolls next. Everything has to be perfect for tomorrow, she thought. Tomorrow was Kira and Seth’s fifth anniversary and much had changed between them during these past five years.Read more.
I’ve been lost before
On the wings of a skeletal butterfly
And carried over the landscape
Of my own mind.
A little bee hive
Plush with synapsed ants
Just getting by
In feigned importance.
Eindhoven, Netherlands, 3 March 1944
Herman Dijkstra’s pencil point hovers above the entry on the onionskin sheet. Housekeeper—I don’t trust her. I’m afraid for Hetty.
Unwelcome warmth flushes his face. Emma Berghuis—hired after Marthe’s remains were shipped home. Marthe—gone to Rotterdam to help with a cousin’s birth, May 1940. Herman’s throat tightens; he imagines his wife, crushed, burnt in the blitzkrieg.Read more.
It is actually 2024.
Six years ago,
My job was determined to be automatable,
And I was replaced by a robot
Designed to scour the internet for pictures of women wearing red lipstick
You turned up West 41st because Gwyneth wanted you to and because you were so horny you’d have done anything she suggested. Behind you Times Square felt relatively safe despite its seedy hotels and tawdry strip joints that held no romantic charm, regardless what musician had once stayed there. On that night it was all sleaze and filth without a hint of the Disneyfied street it would become a couple of decades later.Read more.
Locomotive, set at odds with us, like a dead god.
A god who always been dyin’, dyin’ down the track.
God—oh strange God—not trying to revive husks
of shucked corn—stillborn on cobs in Missouri fields
where buried effigies and pedigrees remind us —
expect a resurrection.
When my son Justin first battled alcoholism, he used music to ease his agony. He played guitar and wrote sensitive, deeply personal songs during those difficult years. As a part of his recovery, he recorded a CD he titled Vinegar and Vigilance. It was apt. His songs told of his loneliness, his prayers, and of loves he lost. His deep voice quivered at times, but his lyrics and skillful guitar playing helped to carry him through to sobriety.Read more.
The rain is not even similar here—
the particular slant,
its lack of urgency.
The buildings don’t obscure the wind
like my windy city.
I am caught and swept away into a faint picture.
sometime i am moved by unspeakable rages
sometime i am choked by a mescaline sadnesses
thy wr once a gift
Three forest cousins, all boys, my summer secrets /
We hiked under hawk shadows, spun pancake flat shale /
stones touch tipping Loyalsock Creek, arrowheads, /
rattlesnake skins longer than my arms, salamander wranglers /
The oldest Vernon lingered longest with my grandmother’s stories /
He never liked to hunt except for stars and no one cared, not even the army
I had to use the roll-in to get enough speed going up the bank. That was the first hurdle. The kids around me hopped on and went for it. I kept letting them snake in front of me. I needed to understand the physics before I committed. At least with a roll-in, you never lose contact with the ramp. When you drop in, you have to redirect the nose of your skateboard, from horizontal to vertical, using only your gravity, sense of balance, and most importantly, your confidence.Read more.
The ladies of the press, by inclination and profession given to skepticism, had appeared at the luncheon anticipating a ghastly masquerade. There had been abundant rumors, which the ladies had been obliged to report in accordance with their duty to their readers, that Kate Chase Sprague was now a Miss Havisham, roaming as a spectre in a cobwebbed and abandoned mansion. Yet these great expectations were confounded once the carriages pulled into the drive. Edgewood had been polished, scrubbed, and manicured such that it nearly gleamed in the spring sunshine.Read more.
It was a Thursday and Bunny Lopes was performing her toilette while she waited for a kettle of water to boil for tea. She saw that it was a quarter to six and the doors to the Polish Hall opened at seven-thirty. It might be wise to eat something first so she wouldn’t have to choke down any store-bought cookies or tuna casseroles reheated for the night’s event. Last week the food had been a letdown.Read more.